Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shoes and the US Health Care System

If you live in the US, and have been hearing rumblings about single-payer health care, "socialized" health care, or how terrible it would be to have a Canadian-style health care system:

don't believe a word of it.

I've lived in a few countries, including the US and Canada. Whatever you hear, Canada is a great country to live in. And one of the greatest things about Canada is universal, socialized health care.

I know there are stories of long wait times, and there's a grain of truth to some of those. But in my experience I have never had to wait very long to see a doctor. I had a broken finger fixed in an hour. I got surgery to fix a hernia in about a week and a half. I know that for certain other things, people may wait longer. But I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten the care and treatment they needed. For free.

Furthermore, work is being done in Canada to reduce wait times in areas where they may be longer, using innovative research in queuing theory and techniques learned from countries around the world, with positive results.

Now I hope you'll all listen up: Even if you added up all the waiting lists here, it still would not come remotely close to 25 million Americans who are under insured and can't get treatment at all.

The US is one of the only developed countries without universal, socialized health care. A lot of people who live and travel in other countries think the US is way behind the rest of the modern world in this regard, and they look down on Americans because of it. People need to get out from under the BS that the corporate health care and insurance companies are shoveling out, realize that corporatism is the problem - not the solution - and get on with building a system that works for everybody. Not just for people who have financial means or a good benefits package.
"Another name for a 'single-payer system' would be: healthcare as a human right, not a commodity to be purchased. Many humans have this right. They just aren't Americans." - David Swanson
I learned a while back that you can tell a lot about a man by looking at his shoes. It may not be the most obvious place to look, but a man's shoes can reveal a lot about his character. And although it may not be the most obvious place to look, you can also tell a lot about a society by the way they treat their ailing poor.

The US has a long way to go in the shoe department.

Call the following six members of Congress and ask them to vote yes for single-payer health care (H.R. 676).

Lean YesDiana DeGette CO01 202-225-4431
Jane Harman CA36 202-225-8220
Christopher Murphy CT05 202-225-4476
Frank Pallone NJ06 202-225-4671 @FrankPallone
Bobby Rush IL01 202-225-4372
Peter Welch VT00 202-225-4115

Won't Say / "Not Enought Votes"
Rick Boucher VA09 202-225-3861
Bruce Braley IA01 202-225-2911
G.K. Butterfield NC01 202-225-3101
Lois Capps CA23 202-225-3601
Kathy Castor FL11 202-225-3376
John Dingell MI15 202-225-4071
Charles Gonzalez TX20 202-225-3236
Gene Green TX29 202-225-1688
Jay Inslee WA01 202-225-6311
Doris Matsui CA05 202-225-7163
Jerry McNerney CA11 202-225-1947
John Sarbanes MD03 202-225-4016
Bart Stupak MI01 202-225-4735
Betty Sutton OH13 202-225-3401
Henry Waxman (Chair) CA30 202-225-3976

Friday, July 17, 2009

Banana Leaf

Excerpt from Norton Lecture #1 by Charles Eames

There's sort of a parable I'd like to . . . In India . . . I guess it's a parable: In India, sort of the lowest, the poorest, the, those, those without and the lowest in caste, eat very often--particularly in southern India--they eat off of a banana leaf. And those a little bit up the scale, eat off of a sort of a un . . . a low-fired ceramic dish. And a little bit higher, why, they have a glaze on--a thing they call a "tali"--they use a banana leaf and then the ceramic as a tali upon which they put all the food. And there get to be some fairly elegant glazed talis, but it graduates to--if you're up the scale a little bit more--why, a brass tali, and a bell-bronze tali is absolutely marvelous, it has a sort of a ring to it. And then things get to be a little questionable. There are things like silver-plated talis and there are solid silver talis and I suppose some nut has had a gold tali that he's eaten off of, but I've never seen one. But you can go beyond that and the guys that have not only means, but a certain amount of knowledge and understanding, go the next step and they eat off of a banana leaf. And I think that in these times when we fall back and regroup, that somehow or other, the banana leaf parable sort of got to get working there, because I'm not prepared to say that the banana leaf that one eats off of is the same as the other eats off of, but it's that process that has happened within the man that changes the banana leaf.

And as we attack these problems--and I hope and I expect that the total amount of energy used in this world is going to go from high to medium to a little bit lower--the banana leaf idea might have a great part in it.

-- Charles Eames

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sailing to Baskins Beach

The plan for the weekend was to set sail on Saturday after lunch and try to make it all the way to Baskin's Beach. Thunderstorms conspired to force a change of plans, but by 5:30 in the evening the skies cleared and the trip was on again. Rushing home I grabbed an extra shirt and some rain gear, ran through the grocery store grabbing pre-packaged food and snacks in a more-or-less random fashion, and zipped back to the marina where my friends Liam and Kate were already loading their Aloha 28. Basil the Dog was as excited as ever at the arrival of another crew member, especially one that he knows will slip him small pieces of cheese and bread under the table.

A pizza had been ordered and arrived just as a passing raincloud unleashed a torrential downpour on the marina. I ran back to the boat with the box in hand, and opened it up to find our "Veggie Lovers" pizza was actually a "Meat Lovers" pizza. When I called back Pizza-Pizza they refused to give a full refund. We couldn't wait for a replacement since we were about to cast off.

A mild sou'wester carried us close-hauled all the way to Aylmer Island, and as the sun went down we decided to put in at the YMCA campground on the southern shore. Here the water runs deep close to the Ontario border, unlike the shallows that lurk below the expansive waters on the Quebec side. We did only three tacks to our anchorage, one being in the narrows between Alymer Island and the Quebec shore, and hence quite a short starboard tack.

The trees were all a black silhouette against the darkening sky by the time we had the anchor set, so it was hard to tell just how close we were to shore, but the depth sounder read 14 feet. Liam rowed ashore with Basil the Dog in the tender, affectionately named "Mr. Tippy". He was aided by a rechargeable 1000 watt handheld floodlight, quite possibly the brightest flashlight in the known universe. I'm fairly certain this light would be visible from the moon. More than adequate for taking your dog for a walk.

The morning was clear and sunny and after another trip ashore with Basil in Mr. Tippy, we had pancakes. This is also when I discovered that I had soaked my contacts overnight in a glass of vinegar instead of distilled water. I barely started to put in one of the lenses and immediately knew something was wrong and pulled it out. The resulting condition was pickle-eye, and I had to throw the lenses overboard. I spent the rest of the trip looking at everything through a large pair of binoculars that had a wide focal adjustment between the two sides.

We decided to sail on to Baskins. Again, a good sou'wester carried us upriver easily, though we kept getting headed by wind shifts further from shore and had to throw in a couple of tacks. Along the way we passed Pinhey Point, site of my last overnighter, and the Port of Call Marina. A lot of beautiful houses and some large mansions line the Ontario shoreline. We wondered who these people are. I don't think they are computer programmers. Then again... they might have started out as computer programmers, you never know!

Anchoring at Baskins was a bit tricky since the water was a bit shallower than anticipated. After two or three attempts we managed to set the anchor with about 8 feet of water below. The wind had picked up quite a bit and it was cool enough for a jacket by this point, so I decided to go ashore and tour the BYC camping grounds instead of swimming. After lunch on board we motored off and set sail for a long downwind run.

We stayed on a reach most of the way to keep the genoa full. Only once we tried to go wing on wing, but the winds had continued to increase, and a few rollers were coming in from the northwest, causing us to roll. It doesn't usually happen when you're flying a genoa wing-on-wing, and is more likely to happen when reaching under a spinnaker, but an effect that is dreaded by sailors called the death roll was on my mind as the waves caused us to roll leeward to windward. The big genny on the starboard side would fill powerfully as we rolled towards it, amplifying the heeling tendency. On the third roll I eased the sheet to depower the genny, which prevented the oscillation from getting any worse. But these things are hard to control. Sometime the reactions of the crew and helmsman trying to control the boat can actually increase the oscillations and lead to an accidental gybe. I've not done an accidental gybe that I can remember. Most likely I've just been lucky so far. I have been aboard during a couple of accidental gybes, both on my own boat and others, however. We also broached under spinnaker once on my boat. Quite a scary experience; but thankfully the Tanzer is a tough and forgiving boat, and she handled it well. We crew were a little worse for wear.

With this in mind I agreed heartily as Laim called to gybe the genny. For the remainder of the sail downwind we fought gusting winds that grew so strong abeam at one point that we feared a knockdown and furled the foresail. Under big pressure, we fought to bring it in, loosed the sheets, and "ragged" the sail. It flogged crazily and shredded part of the leach. Under main only we carried on a beam reach towards harbour. We passed other boats taking shelter in the lee of Aylmer Island, and a few limping back under mainsail towards Nepean. Ahead the skies were black with clouds and rain, but approaching from behind were clear skies, promising the worst was over. Entering the harbour, the calm water and quiet air was a relief. We met a couple of boats heading out for an evening sail, but we were quite happy to be back at the mooring. Half blind, but safe and sound.

Productivity and Note-taking

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