Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rise in Healthcare: Hollow Argument

I have been listening to the healthcare debate with some interest. I mean, this proposed legislation may be the most expensive entitlement program in the history of the United States.

One of the key arguments is that healthcare expenses continue to rise faster than other goods and services. You know, that argument may or may not be a good argument for the healthcare bills currently undergoing review.

Consider this simple example: When I was a child, I knew someone who injured his foot while mowing the lawn. The foot was badly injured, and because of the extent of the injuries, the foot was amputated. I was chatting with an online friend whose husband was badly injured in a similar fashion, and he is undergoing several reconstructive surgeries. The foot will be saved and functioning. And this summer, I was on a ship, doing the tourist thing. They were talking about the various compartments and what the sailors did in the compartments. One of the things they showed us was a saw, used in shipboard amputations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It occurs to me that we have made stride in the healthcare we can expect. Two hundred years ago, two strong male nurses held you down while a doctor quickly sawed off the limb. And most of the time, you survived the ampulation. There was no anesthesia, antibiotics and the like, and so the whole procedure was relatively cheap. Twenty years ago, unless you were in some of the best medical centers in the world, you received anesthesia but the foot still was removed. You received antibiotics and your chance of survival was near 100 percent. And the procedure was more expensive. Now with the vascular surgeons and graft specialists, specialized drugs, etc., you are much closer to being made whole, after several surgeries and physical therapy. And the cost rises. But the number and quality of services also has risen.

When people talk about prices rising, one has to consider that over time, the nature of services or goods may change as well, and just looking at cost increases is not the way to go.

Oh, and besides, if you want to talk about escalation of prices – why is that a primary reason to get the government involved in the first place? We live in a free market, and we don't want to trust a free market.

I am not saying we should or should not support healthcare reform. What I am saying is that price escalation should not be listed as a reason in any politician's position paper.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keeping Routines

These last few months, I have not been happy. I mean, I have been happy on occasions, but overall, the word "happy" is not a word I would chose to describe myself.

My world has been turning up-side-down, and it is not for one thing in particular. A bunch of things. And you know, when I have been jostled, one thing that happened is that I no longer had routines. We would have a couple of nights a week that I would prepare the same dish. I had been doing this for more than ten years. No longer.

I had been waking up and going to bed at the same times. No longer. It is much more regular that I wake up in the middle of the night, remembering a vivid dream, and then I would question what I thought reality was. And I have not been working out. And I have not been doing anything with regularity, including writing this blog.

I wonder if keeping certain routines are important for happiness.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Popular Songs

When I was growing up, I listened to Casey Kasem on the weekend. Depending on the city you were in, depended when they ran the syndicated show. It was called something like American Top 40, and I think he counted down the top 40 hits, according to Billboard. Perhaps it was something else; I don't remember. The voice of Shaggy was the final word as to what song was popular on a given week.

He would tell the world of his mostly teenage audience not only which song occupied which spot, but how many spots certain songs climbed, as well as vignettes about some of the artists. I would pull for my favorite songs, listening to every word. Time just stood still during his program.

Well, I found the Billboard Top 100 today. And, holy crap, you can see who is in the top 100, as well as listen to most or all of the songs. For someone who is no longer cool (and cannot be trusted according to the hippies of the 60s), this is sort of interesting. I can't get into many of the songs of today, but it is an interesting diversion.

One interesting thing about Casey Kasem is that there was a rumor he was Islamic. Well, he is of Lebanese Druze heritage (which is too complicated for me to explain in my blog). It is generally considered an offshoot of Islam, but it has some interesting twists. I can remember some parents who were scared of Kasem, because they thought he was brainwashing American youth at a time where we were trying to repair relations between Israel and Egypt.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recent History: Football

Think about good football teams. Storied football teams. Look at this list:

Michigan St
Penn State
Texas A&M

What if I were to ask you for a team that has more national championships than any of these teams. What would you say? We know about USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michagan, Alabama, Ohio State. But there is one team that might surprise you: Georgia Tech. They have won four national championships to three or less for the teams listed above.

But more shocking than that is that there are a couple of schools who have won more national championships than any of the schools I have listed: Princeton and Yale. Oh, and Harvard has won its share as well, most of which predate World War I. Anyway, just a little fact I tripped on the other day. Just goes to show you that we focus on recent history. This, of course, pertains to more than football. Today, I am just illustrating with a football example.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crazy People

Earlier this week, I heard about Yale grad student Annie Le being murdered by lab technician Raymond Clark III. It was all over the news, and I am sure you have heard something about it.

After a few days, the police mentioned workplace violence as being the motivation for murder. A letter penned by university President Richard Levin stated: "Mr. Clark has been a lab technician at Yale since December 2004. His supervisor reports that nothing in the history of his employment at the University gave an indication that his involvement in such a crime might be possible…."

A big case of CYA.

Can you imagine an employer say publicly "We have employed this person for five years, and we knew he was a crazy guy. Please sue the university for its lack of judgment."

Now I am not saying Yale did anything wrong – just making a bit of a joke.

Years and years ago, I worked for a university system. And I remember some scary guy working in the same building. I got a bad vibe from him, and I avoided him. I did not get on an elevator when he was already on the elevator; that sort of thing.

Women need to trust their instincts. Instincts, I believe, are part of human evolution. Primates are scared of snakes – that instinct, while it does not matter for most snakes, keeps one alive when running away from the poisonous ones.

I am not blaming Annie Le for getting herself murdered. Not at all. I imagine, though, she felt threatened in some way and did not act on those feelings. Perhaps not trusting everyone is the wrong way to go as well. It is difficult to know who to trust and who to avoid in elevators.

By the way, I lost two images recently:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Failing at Social Networking

I have been neglecting my blog. I know I have. Web logs, or Blogs, were one of the granddaddies of social web communities. The Video Blog, or VLOG, followed. Then Twitter, and so forth.

Well, I got an email from Biz Stone in my inbox the other day – not that Biz and I are close, but there was a change to Twitter. Anyway, I googled him, and found his Blog (last updated in April 2008) and LinkedIn profile. He has less than 200 connections on LinkedIn (not a lot for LinkedIn whores).

Anyway, one of the leaders in social networking, and his networks suck. So I guess there may be hope for me.