Saturday, February 27, 2010
I usually try to stay away from commenting on political concerns. But the current case for healthcare reform is so much bigger than that. I'm completely for revitalizing health care. As a matter of fact, I don't think it goes far enough.
I've had the privilege of working stints on the business end for the number one ranked hospital in the US, setting the healthcare market strategy for the software division of a Fortune 500 company, and trotting on foot through all kinds of neighborhoods to hospitals and health centers on behalf of a smaller healthcare agency. I've seen and learned a few things since.
1. Publicly-Traded Health Care Companies Will Only Increase Costs
There are a few large insurance companies that dominate the US health care insurance market. Because they are publicly traded entities, they are expected to deliver on quarterly results by increasing their profits as often as possible. You increase profits one of two ways. By driving down costs or increasing revenues. With 30-40 million Americans who can't afford insurance, the US healthcare market has pretty much matured. It's a little tougher for these healthcare companies to offer the service overseas because 1) many of the emerging markets that can't afford the premiums pose too much of a risk for these companies to cover and 2) the "modernized" societies that can often have a public option that limits US health insurance companies ability to bring in profits from these countries.
So, these insurance companies are limited in their abilities to draw additional revenue. The only way for them to earn additional revenue from their current "customers" is to raise insurance premiums. The only way to keep increasing profits is to cut down costs. Since insurance companies don't manufacture an actual physical product that can be produced more efficiently, the way insurance companies cut down costs is to limit services and payouts to the people who need them.
That means that even if you can afford insurance now, you'll be guaranteed to pay more and more for it in the future. It's the job of the people who run the massive health insurance operations to keep that money coming in. It's also the reason I think it should be illegal for health insurance companies to be traded on public stock exchanges. It wouldn't solve everything, but it would necessitate locally-based insurance market that would increase competition and curtail the acceleration of costs.
I've always admired those who accomplish more than they talk about (I'm not one of them). A slight nod to your ivy league pedigree, hard knocks education, or handyman skills infers there is more to you than you have time to speak of. Shouting it out has its time and place, but also its limits. When practically or authenticity isn't the point and being seen is all that matters, what is there to offer beyond the items or status you acquire? There's better ways to show you've got it, more appropriate methods to show you fit in. That goes for everybody.
Living a life of self-understanding and recognition requires that you are intimately familiar with your center, the place that you came from. Living a life bigger than yourself requires that you are fluid, adaptable, and accepting in moving through unfamiliar territory. Getting the full benefit of both means appreciating what's unfamiliar to you while bringing something that is uniquely and authentically yourself to the table. If both is what you seek, what you always want to look for in examples to follow are the people that know their place in and can adjust to their immediate universe, but are guided by a set of individual principles and a personality that is all their own, giving them them a certain universal "je ne sais quois" that separates them from the crowd.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Like everyone else, Honey magazine had their opinion on Tiger Woods' indiscretions. Unlike everyone, they believed that it wasn't anybody's business but that of Tiger and the Misses:
Once, just once, I’d like for the trickster’s statement to read:I couldn't agree more.
“I regret that I was so messy. It sucks that my wife found out. I’m pissed that now TMZ is camped out on my lawn. I wish I had been more discreet and that no one ever found out and that I could continue to live my life double-dipping as I see fit. I’m sorry I got caught and that’s all you nosy muthafu****s need to know.”
Read entire post at Honey.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Because a weekend somewhere doing nothing can make a world of difference.
This Is Your Brain On Travel [Afar]
Make Yourself A Place To Escape [Good]
The Importance of Going Places Yourself [Fly Brother]
13 Ways To Taste The Globe [Atlantic]
Happier on The Weekends [Asylum]
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I don't usually have favorites when it comes to writers. I like good articles. Period. Every writer has good and bad ones. So why then does Mike Sager impress me so? The Esquire writer's ability to tell a story of substance like it was prose helps. And it's his approach that gets him there. Sager doesn't believe a story is built on phone interviews and research. He goes to where the story is. His most fabled journey into a world outside his own is when he joined a group of homeless drug addicts and shot up with them for arts sake. Embedding himself in the reality of the story is his calling, his cache, his id. And it works wonders. When I saw his interview with Media Bistro, I had to commend him. So I sent him an e-mail, highlighting one quote in particular.
"If you don't have to write, go get an MBA or go be a boring lawyer. But if you have to do it -- like Gene Kelly sings in that old movie, "Gotta dance!" -- try it for a few years and see what happens."
I happen to get joy out of writing and business. But I also realize the business approach to modern media, which churns out short, weightless things (I can hardly call them articles) is killing quality. I ranted about it a bit in my e-mail and shared my desire to work with not just noteworthy publications, but publications that happened to actually give a damn about putting out something worth reading. Part of his response fit a lifetime of encouragement into less than 20 words.
"Heart is everything. Stay true, work hard. Don't compete, be yourself. I love your name. Great lookin byline."
Sager, by the way, just started writing a bi-weekly opinion column for sandiego.com. And I look forward to it. Opinion on pop culture by any old writer is one thing. But Sager's experience in the field, so to speak, gives him a variety of real life perspectives to draw from and a cultural lens that I imagine would help him hone in on the real life ramifications of pop culture better than many. The approach is exemplified in yet another quote from the same mediabistro.com interview.
"As a human being, you need to get out of your house, even if you don't like to, which I don't, and go see how other people live. You can't sit in your room and get smart, no matter how many books you read or Web sites you visit."
First up? John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and the age of infidelity.
Read entire article at sandiego.com.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Years ago tabloids like the National Enquirer were considered bottom-of-the-barrel publications. They did break some credible stories on celebrities here and there. TMZ, for instance, was the first to break Michael Jackson's death. NE was one of the first to report on Anna Nicole Smith's passing. But calling either of them newsworthy is like calling a quarter-pounder and supersize fries healthy because they're served with a side salad. You're still guzzling crap. Mostly they deserved the rap, with their weekly fast-food diet of exaggerations, exploitations, and downright fiction. Problem is, in the hyper-drive pace of today's digital world, it's the portable, bite-sized bits of sensationalism that sell. Or so we're led to believe. So a lot of media, new and old, is reaching back into the bottom-of-the-barrel to present trash as substance. But it doesn't necessarily sit well with folks who are used to the good stuff. Even Scallywag & Vagabond, itself a digital celebrity and pop culture medium, questions why we are so quick to eat up whatever the Google machine regurgitates. Its article, "Dilemna of A Paperback Writer," reconsiders whether all of modern media should aim to be the Biggest Loser.
Click to read entire article at Scallywag & Vagabond
Sunday, February 7, 2010
It's easy to mistake perception for reality, due more to apathy and assimilation than anything. We find comfort in familiarity or lack of effort, dismiss the rest, and inherent partial truths as gospel. Part of the cure is exploring the unfamiliar. Ask questions. Do things. Go places. Read. Interact with people. Get some real world education on the things you are so for, against, indifferent or ignorant of. It can be tough at first, but exposure to the unknown eventually become a joy and addiction that betters you as a person. You learn to listen first, think second, and give opinions that are more thoughtful, informed, culturally relevant, substantive, insightful, and independent. You stop thinking in black and white and learn appreciate the world for its true colors. Knowledge begets wisdom. Barriers become illusions. And each day looks better than the last.
Model Behavior [World Hum]
TEFF Interview [Nu-Soul Mag]
Flunking India [National Geographic]
The Smell of The Past [Mr. Beller's Neighborhood]
Lala Vasquez on The Concept of Ethnicity [Racialicious]
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
A few brave men emerged from the thicket and gathered. They called out to the others, reminding them that a periodical boys night out of drink and debauchery, self-direction, and time to one's self are what maintain Man's sanity and dignity. Man drank, scavenged towns, fixed cars, played poker, did manly things again, and spent less and less time on the heels Woman. Woman beckoned Man back to shopping malls, fancy dinner parties, unhealthy amounts of "attention," and life according to Woman. But Man had shaken Woman's spell. Woman scolded, threatened cold beds. Man reminded Woman her sheets hid not gold nor silver. Battle ensued. The Great War began.
Creme Soda [Blogxilla]
The Decline of Male Space [Art of Manliness]
It's Not All About You [Black Voices]
James Salter on Sex & Writing [GQ]
Married Women Gain Weight [Asylum]
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Opening day of Sydney Festival 2010 had all kinds of interesting contrasts. There was an Austin, Texas ska group whose frontman spoke in cowboy and sang in Rasta. A Japanese jazz funk squad who swung like they were born in New Orleans. The bagpipe marching band that battled a jazz orchestra for bragging rights. And DJs who mashed eastern vocals, European house, and US hip-hop. But the most impressive performance was the most traditional. The Manganiyar Seduction, who hailed from India, played on a massive on-stage display that seated 36 vocal, string, percussion, and wind instrument musicians who sat on top of one another in four rows and nine columns of illuminated man-sized squares. They also blew me and my company away in the process, musically and visually. If you can go see them live when they are in your neighborhood. You can find them with a search on YouTube, but the videos don't do them must justice. If you can, look for their touring schedule see them live at a festival near you.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Early To Bed, Early To Rise [Fantastic Man]
What To Wear To Work [Esquire]
Your Morning Cocktail [Chow]
Are We Too Professional? [Intelligent Life]
The Great Escape of Timothy Sheldon [Black Book]