Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chillin on Top of the Hyatt

Liz and I met up with Brian and Anne for some pre-movie drinks on top of the Hyatt. I just liked this picture of Brian with the face shirt behind him too much to not post it. We all enjoyed a bottle of the bubblies, and went to our respective shows. They saw District 9 and gave it a positive review, and Liz and I saw the new Miyazaki movie "Ponyo" which was barfingly adorable, and a great little kid movie on par with My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and The Cat Returns. I highly suggest you go see it, especially if you need a little moral pick-me-up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Only Healthcare Debate - The Numbers

I think this debate can be had by simply looking at the numbers. People keep referring to these "other" nationalized health care systems like Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and France as examples. Typically the right will demonize them as socialist-commie-bastards who give their elderly cyanide tablets and shoot their cancer patients with a $0.99 bullet. As a person who actually knows the numerical facts, this has really been getting on my nerves, especially since the left are too wimpy to actually stand up and defend these national health care systems. I thought it was about time to see just how "bad" Canada, et al are actually faring. I highly recommend you read this Krugman editorial from NYTimes on the debate.

Firstly, I will be looking at the United States, Canada, the UK, France, and Switzerland.
How much does each of these countries pay in health care per year?

United States of America - 15.3% of GDP (#2 of all countries), $7,439 per capita (2007), 27.8% of the population covered by gov't but pays ~44.7% of the total cost due to the uninsured, medicare, and medicaid, 15.3% of pop uninsured (2007)
Switzerland-11.6% of GDP, $4,629 per capita (2008 est), 25% funded by gov't, 0.5% uninsured
Canada- 10.6% of GDP, $5,170 per capita (2008), 71% funded by gov't, 0% uninsured
United Kingdom- 9.4% GDP (2006), $2,560 per capita (2007), too much work for the rest of the statistics, UK is broken down by providence so it was difficult to get straight answers
France - 11.2% of GDP, $3,926 per capita (2005), 77% funded by government, 0% uninsured
(from Wikipedia, and various sources in the interwebs)

Now lets ask about the quality of care. I mean if we are paying the most, and since all those other countries are shooting their old and sick, then we should have the best health right?

The two major indicators of health of a population are infant mortality rates and life expectancy, as the very young and very old are the most helped/hindered by good/bad health care systems.

Life Expectancy (from Wolfram Alpha):
1 Canada | 81.23  
2 France | 80.98 
3 Switzerland | 80.85  
4 United Kingdom | 79.01  
5 United States | 78.11 (in years)

Infant Mortality rate (under 5yrs old deaths/1000 people- Wolfram Alpha 2009):
1 | France | 3.33 
2 | Switzerland | 4.18 
3 | United Kingdom | 4.85 
4 | Canada | 5.04 
5 | United States | 6.26

So, now, I have to ask, what do you think of the people who vilify all of these country's health care systems? What is the debate? There is no debate! We spend the most, and get the least- this means that something has to change. Personally, I think we should look to Canada and Switzerland as role models because they still have private healthcare. I know that this sounds like a lie, but it is true, look it up, health care insurance is provided by private enterprises in those two countries. The only difference between theirs and ours is that tax payers pick up a portion of it, and well, their health care system actually works, based upon the numbers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tennessee Valley Hike

This is a really nice loop hike just north of SF in the Marin Headlands called Tennessee Valley. The loop (not complete in picture) is approximately 7 miles in total, with a 1000ft elevation gain/loss. We went with Becca, Bri, Dave, and their little bro Andrew (Drew).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Round My House

I haven't really been able to get any great pictures of the areas directly around my house, until now. This new wide-angle has really opened up the city-scape for me, and I thought I'd break it in by walking around my neighborhood at dusk. This is the typical time that Liz and I go for a walk to the corner market, LaLoma Market #13. It is on the far right of the picture at the top. We also hung out on the Richland Bridge for 10 minutes or so watching the traffic and trains go below.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Nihilism, Agnosticism, Angels, and Belief

I thought it was about time to revisit my discussions on various points of view. This time I would like to discuss belief. What do you believe in? This is a very important question, one which sheds a floodlight on who you are as a person. This question can be applied to small things like, do you think (believe) that it will rain today? It can be applied to the big things like, do you believe that the universe started in a massive outward explosion of particles? Or everything in between, do you believe girls fart (yes I do), or do you believe that people should be put to death by the state (no I don't), do you believe that there are guardian angels?

Turns out that approximately 55% of Americans DO in fact believe that they have their very own personal guardian angel watching over them and protecting them (according to this Washington Times article from almost 1 year ago):

"Half of all Americans believe they are protected by guardian angels, one-fifth say they've heard God speak to them, one-quarter say they have witnessed miraculous healings, 16 percent say they've received one and 8 percent say they pray in tongues, according to a survey released Thursday by Baylor University."

Now, that's fine with me, sure a little on this side of delusional, but hey, to each their own. I've said this before, but I happen to be agnostic. This basically means that I think the verdict is still out on the whole God thing (which, in my book includes angels at the very least). The question that I'd like to pose is, does that mean that I believe in something? I mean who's verdict am I waiting for while sitting on the fence? Is it the scientists? If that's the case then I believe and have faith in science, logic, and reasoning (I'm cool with that). Or am I waiting for God to show me a sign of her existence, in which case I will believe fully in that God? If that's the case then I believe and have faith in God (something that is not independently verifiable- which leads to existentialism- something I'm not so cool with). Or do I not believe in anything and am just sitting on the fence for the shits and giggles...

That leads me to Nihilism which according to Wikipedia:

Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is the philosophical doctrine suggesting that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life[1] is without meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not exist, and subsequently there are no moral values with which to uphold a rule or to logically prefer one action over another.

How is this position possible? To me it seems like circular logic, I don't believe in anything except for a firm belief in nothing. I mean think about it, how can you believe in nothing (We believe in nothing Lebowski!) when the statement of the belief in the absence of belief is belief itself. Not to mention the conundrum of the fact that there seem to be some absolute moral truths; don't rape children, don't murder if possible, genocide is bad, hugs are good, sex is good, sure I'm leaving a bunch out but those are some moral truths that I certainly believe in right now. To believe that morality does not exist on some level just seems to be naive and hopeless. Maybe I just don't want to live in the same lonely dark filled world that nihilists and existentialists believe in living. I really don't think that what I believe or what anyone believes is just as good as any other view point. There are somethings that we can all agree upon and that is where we can start, on what we all can agree to be true.