chris_gerrib: (Default)
Posted elsewhere, in response to a question on how America can "fix healthcare."

This really isn't rocket science. Most of the rest of the world has figured it out years ago. The solution, in broad strokes, is:

1) Get everybody to pay into the healthcare system, whether via taxes or private insurance. Actually, taxes are cheaper because private insurance has marketing and profit overheads. But everybody is important, in that you don't want some freeloader rolling into an emergency room, especially for something that could have been managed cheaply had they been able to see a doctor sooner.

1a) Everybody in is also important in that, just like auto insurance or homeowner insurance, those that don't file a claim subsidize those that do.

2) Allow the large payers (in our case Medicare / Medicaid) to negotiate pricing. In every other country, they do so, and get meds and equipment at a fraction of the cost. For example, in Belgium, if you need an artificial hip joint, you get the same one you do in the US (both made in a factory in Indiana) but the Belgium one cost $800 and the US one costs $20,000.

3) Pay doctors on performance, not activity. Right now, my doc has every financial incentive to order every test I'll take. Penalize hospitals for things like hospital-based infections. Again, the financial incentive of a hospital is to keep you in. These changes will force the health-care system to get more efficient.

Most of the rest of the world accomplishes this by having a government paid-for (Canada) or government-ran (UK) system that relies on private insurance for supplementary things, like private rooms or other upgrades. In fact, in Canada, they call it Medicare and it works like US medicare except you buy in at birth. I'll say it because somebody will comment on it, but even when Canada has to ship somebody to the US (which they do, at government cost, because it's cheaper than having Canadian specialists) they deliver quality health care at a fraction of the cost.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Guns, Fictional

One of the writers I follow, Tanya Huff, recently released a new book A Peace Divided. It's pseudo Mil-SF, in that the lead characters are ex-military who serve as a SWAT team for the interstellar police. It's an entertaining read.

However, in Huff's fictional world, civilians are completely disarmed. I've had issues with that before, in that a society that can repair toasters can make guns. Here, she's gone to even more extremes - her ex-military types literally do not have the word "pistol" in their vocabulary! All guns are long guns. I like the story, but this I don't buy.

Guns, Real

Readers of this blog know that I recently purchased a Ruger LCR. This "light carry revolver" is, as advertised, light. With full-power .38 ammunition, it's frankly painful to shoot. At my dad's recommendation, I purchased some Hornady Critical Defense bullets. These have lighter recoil and are designed for light carry guns. I shot some last night. My LCR still bounces, but it's gone from painful to unpleasant.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
"Learn Your Craft," or how to show one's ass in public.

I was at a neighborhood restaurant over the weekend, and the lady near me ordered Oysters Rockefeller. They were served with Tabasco sauce, as per the menu. The lady found this highly unacceptable, a manager was called, and when Hollandaise sauce or an (in the mind of the customer) substitute was not immediately available our customer told the manager to "learn your craft."

To the great relief of all concerned, the customer left shortly thereafter. There are times and places where getting in high dungeon over a meal in a restaurant is appropriate. When a menu item is served in a timely manner and exactly as described on the menu is not such an occasion.

Writing

So, I got some fiction writing done today. I added a new scene in which we get some backstory about a major character and some unanswered questions. Go me!

Hugos

I have cast my final votes for all Hugo categories I care to vote in. I'm not a graphic novel guy, so I didn't vote there, and I had no opinions on the fan artist, so no votes.

Politics

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:41 pm
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Two political thoughts:

1) Trump lied. (Yeah, I know, and water's wet.) Those jobs he "saved" at Carrier before his inauguration? They are leaving.

2) John Scalzi is wise on the lack of benefits of tax cuts to rich people.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Clarification

Some people understood my Friday post to read that I had missed a flight. No, somebody else in line had missed their flight.

Research

So I mentioned that I'm traveling to The Old Soil in August. One of the pre-travel questions I had was "where in Lithuania exactly was the old soil?" Fortunately, my great-uncle Walter went back to Lithuania for a visit circa 1927. This meant he had to formally get naturalized (I don't think my great-grandfather bothered to do that) and get a passport.

In the process of doing this, two (at least) separate government forms were generated, asking Walter where he was born and where his parents (John Gerrib, who had returned to Lithuania) were residing. The answer to the first question (birth) was Laukuva and the second was Rietavas.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Randomness that's accumulated from the Week That Was:

1) If the departure time on your ticket says 9:05 AM, it is 9:04 AM, and you haven't cleared security, there's really no reason to try and jump the security line. The flight has been missed, and you need to go to the airline ticket counter to see about rescheduling. (I let the person in ahead of me anyway, just because.)

2) One of my high school classmates died. (Obituary here). I'm going down to Westville for the day for the visitation.

3) The convention I was attending was held at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). That collection of buildings is every bit as big as McCormick Place in Chicago, and we had to transit the building the long way every day for our sessions. I got a lot of walking in.

4) Related to #3, the GWCC was on five levels, and our meetings were mostly at the lower-most level. I was struck by how narrow and constricted the escalators were. It was as if nobody had expected to move 40,000 people up and down them at one time. They were congested enough that security people were stationed by the emergency stop buttons. If somebody had tripped coming off the escalator, disaster would have struck.

5) In Atlanta, I took MARTA to and from the airport. It was clean, cheap and at least during reasonable hours safe.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
The Magic of Rotary

I have been spending the afternoons here at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta doing tourist-y stuff. Today’s outing was to the Georgia Aquarium. The trip is worth it, although I was a bit distracted because my iPhone decided to completely die. It had plenty of power but just locked up. As this would be highly inconvenient to say the least, I decided to find an Apple Store and get it fixed.

When I exited the Aquarium, I asked a cab driver to take me to one. $25 later, we pull up to a mall well outside of walking distance to my hotel. This was a tactical error on my part – I should have gone to the hotel and had them at least check for a closer store. But here’s where the magic of Rotary came into being. While I’m in line waiting for a tech to look at the phone, I see a guy wearing a Rotary hat. I say hi, and I discover he’s from Nigeria. I also discover that he’s been taking MARTA (Atlanta’s version of the EL) to the con, and there’s a MARTA station at the mall. Money saved!

Even nicer, when I get to the MARTA station, I’m approached by a couple wearing Rotary gear and, in German-accented English, they ask me where the mall was. (It was behind an office building, and not immediately visible.) So I helped them out. That’s what Rotarians do.

Other Good News

In other good news, it appears that I will be on programming at Worldcon. They’ve sent me a draft schedule which they’ve asked us not to share so I won’t, but that does suggest I’ll get something. Go me!
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Like the label says, links!

A) The Advantage of Being a Little Underemployed. From the link: Before 1900 the average American worker worked more than 60 hours a week. A standard schedule was ten-hour days, six days a week. The only structural limits to working were lighting and religion. You stopped working when it was too dark to see or to go to church. Or shorter, you worked from "can" to "can't."

B) A bit late, but still good - the story of D-Day on Omaha Beach.

C) Wonder Woman: How real-life athletes united to populate the film's badass Amazon nation.

D) A more humorous take on Wonder Woman - Alamo Drafthouse Apologizes for Starting Manpocalypse With Women-Only Screening.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I haven't said much on President Trump of late, but today brings two whoppers which I feel the need to address.

Whopper #1 - On the recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Well, nope. Basically, he and/or his staff took (from the article) "a wishlist: an itemized list of things the Saudis might be interested in if the price of oil ever recovers, if they start more wars and things the US would like to sell the Saudis."

Whopper #2 - On the Sunday talk shows, Trump's administration was touting "we added 50,000 jobs in the coal sector." Well, nope. Again from the article: "there were only 51,000 coal-mining jobs in the entire U.S. in May. Last month, 400 coal jobs were added—not 7,000. It was the overall mining sector, which includes oil, gas, and metals mining in addition to coal, that added 7,000 jobs in the month and 50,000 since last 2016."

These are both bald-faced lies, delivered unto the US with a straight face.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Saturday was a quiet day at Casa Gerrib Norte. The excitement of the day was my attendance at an early-evening screening of Wonder Woman. It was a very enjoyable movie, although the last few minutes of the epic battle between the Big Bad and Our Heroine was a bit tedious. Overall, I highly recommend seeing it.

Sunday was for me also quiet, although one of my downstate relatives had a (very minor) heart attack, so I was getting several updates during the day. In part due to the miracle of modern medicine and the nature of the attack, said relative was sent home after less than 24 hours of hospitalization. Go modern medicine!

Now, if I could just find some time and energy to write, all would be well in the world.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Herewith is my subject-to-change programming schedule for NorthAmeriCon '17 to be held in (hopefully) sunny San Juan Puerto Rico.

TH 18:00 - San Cristobal Military realities and Science Fiction


What series in the Spec Fic portray military life and decision making with the most accuracy.

Kevin McLaughlin, Jonathan Brazee (m), Chris Gerrib


TH 19:00 - San Cristobal Off-world Vacation Hot Spots


You're the travel agent - sell us your best vacation package to the stars

Chris Gerrib, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, Tyrell Gephardt, Jan S. Gephardt, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson (m)


FR 12:00 - San Geronimo How Fandoms Evolve (or Don't)

How do they grow? How do they die?

Chris Gerrib, Paula Smith, Isabel Schechter, Diana Pho (m), Tyrell Gephardt


FR 14:00 - San Cristobal The Future of Local/National/Planetary Government in the Information Age

Our current government structures arose in the age of face-to-fact communication. With individuals able to "talk" instantly to people anywhere on the globe and governments able to share information effortlessly, does either representative to geographically defined government fit the emerging paradigm. How long before things change. Or will they?

Chris Gerrib, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson, David Manfre (m), Tanya Washburn, Pablo Vazquez


FR 15:30 - Bahia Reading - Chris Gerrib

Mars, Pirates, Cookies.  One of these is not like the other.  Come hear Chris Gerrib read from his novel The Night Watch and snag a cookie!


SU 10:00 - San Cristobal Forgotten Books

Panelists (and audience members) discuss the books they've loved that have gone out of circulation, and thus the merits of used bookstores.

Evelyn Chimelis Leeper, Chris Gerrib (m), Lee Billings, Daína Chaviano

Ah!

May. 30th, 2017 08:44 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
For budgetary reasons, I did not go to ConQuest in Kansas City this year. (NASFIC will cost twice as much as ConQuest.) Thus, I went downstate for my Memorial Day weekend and visited the parents. It proved a very relaxing weekend, and I'm glad I did.

Last night, I read the Hugo short story nominations for this year. Yea gods and little fishes was the John C. Wright offering bad! As per Sad Puppies Central Command best practices, Wright took a collection of right-wing strawmen, dialed them up to 15, and used them to beat the reader vigorously about the head and shoulders. I'm sure he thought he was clever in casting himself as the boogeyman and a nubile naked "girl" as the heroine, but I found that in particular and the story in general as the failure mode of clever.

I found the Jemisin story a bit too opaque, and have no strong opinions either way on the Wong. The other three I felt were pretty strong contenders. In the novel category, I haven't read three of the six (Jemisin, Anders and Chambers) and bounced hard off of the Palmer. It looks like I've got my work cut out for me.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Ben Carson, current HUD Secretary, opened his mouth recently and said that poverty is a "state of mind." To be fair to Carson, he was born poor and got himself out of poverty. John Scalzi, another guy born poor who's no longer financially challenged, had thoughts on Carson's comments.

John rather correctly noted that being poor means not having money, which results in a lack of margin of error. To shorter his post, poor people drive old beater cars which, when they break down, they may not have money to get fixed. All the positive mental vibes in the world won't replace a busted timer belt.

I would like to focus on why Carson said what he did. It is a truism that you will find no one more demonstratively against smoking as somebody who quit smoking after developing the habit. I would submit that the act of successfully quitting smoking requires a certain mental attitude.

The same can be said for getting out of poverty, especially in one generation. It's hard work, and requires a certain mental attitude. Unlike quitting smoking, getting out of poverty also requires luck. Good luck in terms of getting opportunities and in avoiding pitfalls.

Unfortunately, recognizing that "there but for the grace of God go I" requires self-reflection and humility. Ben Carson is not noted for possessing either of these traits. It's the very lack of those traits that led him to his current position.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Over the weekend, I reviewed my European travel plans. After checking with the travel people that any flight out of Hamburg after 2 PM on the day the cruise ship arrives should be safe, I found a 5 PM Lufthansa flight to Lithuania. I still don't get to Lithuania until nearly midnight, but that's better than my previous arrival time of 4:30 Sunday afternoon. Since I have to fly into Kaunas, as Vilnius airport will be closed, I went ahead and booked myself for 2 nights in Kaunas. That gives me 2 days to do other explorations.

My next stop is the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture for some research. Hopefully I can get some clue as to where the old Gerrib stomping grounds are. Right now I'm flying to Finland on Wednesday, although if I get some useful information I may make that Thursday instead. The preliminary business meeting at Worldcon will have to do without me. Frankly, other than being a minor member of the Best Series committee, I really don't have any business for the Business Meeting.

Also over the weekend, on Sunday my Rotary club volunteered for the Darien Dash, our annual 5K and 10K run. The weather forecast said mostly cloudy, so I left my hat in the car, then the skies turned blue for a good two hours, so I'm red-faced today. Oh well.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Various Southern cities are taking down statues commemorating Confederate war heroes. These statues were largely erected by white Southerners from 1890 to 1920, and were explicitly intended to send a signal to the local black population that Whites Were In Charge. They were also intended to hide the fact that the Civil War was fought by the South to protect slavery.

In any event, the statues are finally coming down. Various groups of whites are protesting the removal, and some of them have been heard chanting "Russia is our friend" at these protests. One sees this "Russia is our friend" concept a lot among the Alt-Right and Trump supporters (for whatever difference there is between the two groups). The question is why? Why did we go from a Cold War fear of the Ruskies to "Russia is our friend?"

There are a variety of reasons for this. The simplest is that Russia is ethnically mostly white - even most of the non-Russian peoples in the country are "white" by American standards. The Russian government has obviously done a lot with Twitter-bots and other social media creations to pump themselves up. But I think the biggest reason is Putin.

The American right, and right-wings in general, have always been fond of authoritarians. After all, the original "right wing" were the (absolute monarch) King's supporters in the French Estates General. Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford were both quite okay with Nazi Germany, not changing their minds until very late in the game. As I noted elsewhere, The antebellum South was organized, directed and structured to the benefit of white men, preferably those of property.

This is why the Alt-Right and Trump supporters not only aren't upset with Trump's collusion with Russia, but confused as to why anybody else is upset. We should be working with Russia. (Actually, if and when Russia extracts their collective heads from their asses, they should be natural allies with the US.)

The problem with authoritarians is this - it really matters who's the kicker and who's the kick-ee. By their very nature, authoritarian regimes end up with everybody, even members of the secret police (and there's always a secret police) being scared of their shadows. Anybody can be turned in by anybody for anything, true or not. Authoritarian regimes end up collapsing, because loyalty trumps (pun intended) competency, and the collapse is messy and bloody.

But for a while, while your side is the kicker, authoritarianism feels good. Unfortunately, the good feelings never last.
chris_gerrib: (Pirates of Mars)
For the first time since March 29th, I've written fiction! On Tuesday, I attended a writing jam with my writer's group and actually put words on computer!
chris_gerrib: (Pirates of Mars)
Thought #1 - my car's GPS

When I bought my car, it came with a GPS system via the XM Radio. I really don't want to become one of those people who can't get to the grocery store without using the GPS, so I resisted using it. I have slowly started to warm to the system, largely because I found a display mode that shows me not just the next turn but the next three turns.

Thought #2 - car sunroof

Also when I bought my car, it came with a sunroof. I didn't look for that feature, it just happened to be on the vehicle that otherwise had the features I wanted. I have also found this useful, in that on a warm day one can pop the roof and get a breeze in the vehicle.

Thought #3 - other drivers

I've noticed a lot more rude drivers the past few days. For example, the "older" (my age) guy driving a Corvette who stood on his horn the instant the light turned green. Or the two (2) (!!) drivers who cut me off this AM. I blame it on Trump.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Here we go, blogging for the third day in a row. Alas, I'm talking about alternate realities, and not in a good way.

In most realities, the lead news story is that President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because 1) Comey did not show sufficient loyalty to Trump and/or 2) Trump wants to ice the Russia investigation. In the Faux News / alt-right "reality," the lead story is an allegation that Hilary Clinton asked a government to help one of the donors of the Clinton Foundation.

Now, mind you, the help requested was for a man running a microloan bank and his donations were to a not-for-profit foundation, not the Clintons personally. Despite this, Faux News was arguing that this is a "clear criminal violation." Sorry, Charlie, not so.

For the record - it is perfectly consistent to want Comey to be fired for interfering in an election and not want him to be fired to stop an investigation.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Somehow, in the process of writing, I became a lucid dreamer. I recognize that I'm dreaming, and edit my dreams on the fly to make more sense. I should say "sense" because I'm still asleep, and so my logic can be a bit wonky.

For example: Last night I was dreaming that I was riding a horse shirtless on a tropical beach. You know, like they do in all those Sandals commercials. My conscious mind jumped in with "if you do that, you'll get redder than a ripe tomato in an hour." That was lucid point #1. Lucid point #2 occurred immediately thereafter, when I said to myself "hey, this is a dream! I can decide not to get red. I can also decide to loose 20 pounds!" Thus mollified, I rode the beach in peace for a while.

Lucid dreaming - it's not just for breakfast any more.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Sadly, many people in this world seem to not want to look at facts. Here's an interesting example.

There was a recent article in NRA’s Shooting Illustrated website entitled Pros and Cons of Concealed-Carry Revolvers. In it, the author noted that for most self-defense and concealed carry applications, Ye Olde Five or Six Shot revolver was more than adequate. This proved very controversial.

Then this shooting expert and author ran the numbers. The article is well worth reading, if only for the humorous summary of incidents. But the meat of the article was simple, and is reproduced here:

Number of shots fired
Average 1.43
Median 2.00
Mode 2.00
Max 2.00

There's the data. The produced a storm of arguments about Ninjas, Drug Addicts, Them Crazy People, and Invasion from Planet Nine. In short, no facts, much speculation.

Facts matter.

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