Wednesday, August 27, 2008

RIP, Noblesville Daily Times. It was a good run.

The problem with doing an internship at one business and then getting hired by their bigger rival once you graduate is that when the former goes out of business, the latter throws a party and makes you sad.

So now I'm sad.

I'm very bummed to see the Times shutting down. I interned with them from August to November of 2007, and they were really great to me, especially the editor, Ron Browning. He was real mentor material, and very understanding when the whole cancer thing went down and I had to take off for three weeks to recover from surgery. It's a shame that the paper couldn't stay afloat. I hope everyone can move on to bigger and better things, but the state of the industry right now is not good (I could tell you why, but that's a rant for another time). So here's to the Noblesville Daily Times. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shane! Come back, Shane!

Or Fred, in this case. Over at Townhall.com, Fred Thompson has some excellent commentary on what's going on in the world today. It's basically two pages of him sitting us down, explaining the situation and letting us figure things out for ourselves because we're smart enough to do that for ourselves, and he expects us to. He's like that awesome teacher everybody had (or wished they had) who really made you come on fire for the subject because he didn't just feed it to you.

The article is also a damning indictment of Western Europe's flaccid response to the Russia/Georgia mess and various other looming and soon-to-be-looming threats around the world, reminding us of the ones it's easy to forget about (India and Pakistan, for example). At the end of it, Mr. Thompson (who, he notes, has been to Georgia) holds up John McCain's response to the crisis there as an example of strong will and decisive leadership, sharply contrasted with Obama's shilly-shallying and moral equivalence. And the whole thing is just so dang smart. Man, I hope he runs next time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Basic Fact of Human Nature

One thing socialists can't seem to wrap their heads around is that when something is everyone's responsibility, it ends up being no one's. If the upkeep of a building is outsourced to an entire community, bureaucracy will ensure that it falls into disrepair. But if someone's welfare (i.e., salary, etc.) depends on the building's upkeep, it'll be in a lot better shape. Direct, personal consequences are the best way to keep things running smoothly. Replacing individual oversight with an organization that has no stake in the outcome is a sure-fire way to pack things neatly into a handbasket marked "Hell or Bust." Don't believe me? Then read this article. Some choice quotes:

Figures released by the Conservatives show that 70% of NHS Trusts brought in pest controllers at least 50 times between January 2006 and March 2008.

Vermin were found in wards, clinics and even operating theatres. A patients' group said the situation was revolting.

But health chiefs played down fears the infestations could lead to disease.

The figures were obtained by the Conservatives under the Freedom of Information Act, with every hospital asked to reveal how often pest controllers had visited over the two-year period in question.

If these hospitals were restaurants they would be closed down and out of business

Patients Association

Of those that replied, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust topped the table, with more than 1,000 incidents, and five other trusts passed the 800 mark. All the respondents had reported some pest problem in the two-year period. ...

While most infestations involved non-clinical areas, some trusts reported problems nearer to patients.

One had wasps in a neo-natal unit, and flying ants on the main wards, while another reported rats in their maternity unit, and wasps in operating theatres.

A children's A&E was infested with flies, and main wards were also home to mice, silverfish, biting insects and beetles.

Other common problems included bedbugs, fleas and cockroaches.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Labour have said over and over that they will improve cleanliness in our hospitals, but these figures clearly show that they are failing." ...

However, a spokesman from the Patients Association was unconvinced, saying: "Such findings are truly revolting.

"How can patients be safe amid bedbugs, fleas and rats? These findings reveal what happens when money is taken away from where patients expect to see it spent.

"If these hospitals were restaurants they would be closed down and out of business." [Restaurants aren't run by the government. - ed]

The responsibility for monitoring hygiene in the NHS falls to the Healthcare Commission, and the expert leading its healthcare infection programme, Christine Braithwaite, said that it had received "negligible" numbers of reports about the threat posed by vermin.

"Clearly, it may be necessary to take action against pests in these large public buildings from time to time.

"However, it is important for hospital trusts to have robust procedures in place to deal with any pest problems." [In other words, "It's not our job." - ed]

The Commission also said it would use the information to inform its hospital hygiene inspection programme.
Emphasis and comments added.

In any top-down system, the incentive is not to deal with a problem - no personal gain is extracted from that - but to push it along to the next person. A government health care system is one with almost zero accountability to its patients because it is essentially a monopoly: While patients are allowed to go elsewhere, they will likely to forced to shoulder the entire cost of their care. For example, when the NHS decided that a cancer treatment drug wasn't cost-effective, they decreed that patients who paid for it themselves would have to pay for all their care and would receive no more government benefits. For a system that's supposed to be helping people, it seems more like a "We'll decide what's best for you, whatever the doctors say" scenario. This isn't an isolated phenomenon, either - Soviet Russia saw this writ large, as does Cuba. The United States won't be far behind if Barack Obama gets his way. This article from Pajamas Media has more on the subject, including this quote by C.S. Lewis:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Amen to that, brother. Combine nanny state legislation with the blame-shifting quicksands of top-down implementation and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. If I was living in a nation with socialized medicine, I would have gone through chemo, would have been sterilized by radiation before I hit my mid-20s and would possibly have died, all because the wait for surgery would have been too long. My doctor barely agreed to wait two weeks so I could have my birthday before I went under the knife; in Canada or England, it's likely I could have waited six months or more. People have died waiting for surgeries in those countries, all because the bureaucracy decided when the doctors could use the operating rooms. It's the exact opposite of a patient-centered system, and it's all in the name of fairness and providing for everyone. Blah. I'm all ranted out. I need to find a cute puppy picture.

Hey! A Kitty! (I picked this one because it reminds me of my own cat. You could play checkers on the scratches on my arms.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

General Observations and Some Advice From an Uppity 20-Something

When someone says "No one cares about/does that sort of thing anymore," what they really mean is that they don't care about/want to do it right then. This goes double when it's anything to do with sex.

It's hard to be a writer when the cat keeps attacking your pen.

The best revenge isn't living well, it's living well and not caring that you're getting revenge.

"Night comes early under trees." I've had that line in my head since my sophomore year of college, and I still haven't found a story to use it in.

Sometimes the best books are the really depressing ones. This doesn't mean you shouldn't read them.

Wishing it wasn't so should always be paired with acceptance that it is.

Don't do what the experts say, do what the experts do.

Corollary to above: Don't panic just because someone tells you it's an emergency. And if it actually is an emergency, you still shouldn't panic.

I'll buy funderwear when I have a funderbutt. Yes, that's an arbitrary judgment. I don't care.

Human history has room for precisely one messiah. He's already been here. You're not him.

Trying to learn theology from pop culture is like trying to learn physics from cartoons. It's distorted at best.

I'll stop eating meat when my incisors fall out and my eyes move to the sides of my head.