Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This is why I love nurses

Aside from being raised by one, they just are the toughest most ruthlessly practical people. Idealism is great, these are the people, mostly women, who get elbow deep into blood, guts and other bodily fluids every day in order to actually help people - usually for less money then a plumber. When it comes to actually changing the world from the ground up, give the job to a nurse. Case in point.

President Cecilia Fire Thunder was offended as a woman and a nurse by South Dakota's draconian new abortion law and is offering to help circumvent it by setting up a Planned Parenthood clinic on Ogala land. It would seem to me that the sovereignty rights that allow casinos on American tribal land even in states where gambling is otherwise illegal would also apply here and would effectively make the South Dakota law an unenforceable joke. It as been suggested however, that the doctor would have to be Native American for tribal immunity to apply.

Regardless, the area of South Dakota President Fire Thunder lives in is apparently under-served for family planning care and there is a Live Journal site where you can support President Fire Thunder

Monday, March 20, 2006

More Healthcare truthiness...

The free market ideologues like to point decisively to Sweden, 'Look,' they say, 'The bastion of Scandinavian socialism has embraced the free-market in healthcare delivery, and yea, there is great rejoicing!'

Except it turns out the Swedes have tried the healthcare privatization experiments, and at the first opportunity swept out the right wing regional governments that started them and then almost completely reversed them.

Well there's always Britain right? Margeret Thatcher, one of the neo-con's patron saints, right up there with Ronnie began the private sector take-over of public healthcare and Tony Blair has continued to almost out-Thatcher Thatcher. How about those lovingly praised public/private partnerships that right-wing politicians claim will solve every funding ill? Well...

Then there's Australia. Also often pointed to as a leader in 'innovative application' of the private sector. The results have been cost increases.

These are all experiments in private care. The largest and oldest private healthcare experiment is of course this one. Here's how it stacks up to the Canadian system.

Premier Ralph Klein, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Prime Minister Harper are all on record saying it would be in Canadian's interests to move towards this kind of cash and carry non-system and all three are actively trying to push us there.

We are being taken like the pigeon in a three-card monty game.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Healthcare under attack

I live in an Oil Shiekdom called Calgary, Alberta. Basically it's Canada's version of Houston.

Our leaders rake in the cash from the oil boom - but give back generously. Alberta charges some of the lowest resource royalty rates around so the oil company's keep more of record oil profits here in Alberta than almost anywhere in the world. On top of this the Alberta government gave over 100 million dollars in financial aid to the oil industry last year.

Hopefully with this help their suffering was eased.

At the same time our Premier the honorable Ralph Klein continues his descent into insanity while busily keeping his promises to the insurance industry to let them fall on our public healthcare system like hungry wolves.

The stated goal of Klein's healthcare Third Way 'reforms' is reducing wait times. When asked how allowing doctors to take time away from the public system to work in a parallel private system where the rich get better, faster treatment would reduce waiting times he couldn't answer.

The answer, of course is that it doesn't. There's only so many doctors around, allowing them to take time away from the public system would of course increase wait times. Additionally the Australian experience with parallel public/private healthcare systems created what studies called a 'perverse incentive' to doctors to increase wait times to benefit their more lucrative private practice.

The Alberta government points to spiraling costs to justify their dismantling plans that suggest that healthcare would soon become the majority of the provincial budget. These are deceptive numbers as they generally only go back the last ten years, a rebuilding period. If you average healthcare spending over twenty years and factor in the drastic and irresponsible cut-backs of the early 90's you get a much smaller growth curve. If you calculate healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP, a much more useful measurement, you get something closer to a flat line.

Additionally, the public system allows for economies of scale and and linear bureaucracy where in a private healthcare system, costs and red tape multiply at every level. The Canadian healthcare system costs less per capita than the U.S. non-system and has drastically less bureaucracy.

In a study of public and private healthcare in the United States, private hospitals were found to have higher mortality rates than public facilities.

National economies with public healthcare consistently out-perform countries without comprehensive public healthcare. The savings in real costs, reduced corporate expenses and the increased productivity that come from a healthy workforce who aren't buried in medical debt, overpower economies without public healthcare.

The call by Canadian elites for a healthcare debate is disingenuous. Endless studies, commissions and reports have been done. With the exceptions of studies run by the insurance companies - another Alberta innovation - the results have been remarkably unanimous. The debate's over and the facts are in.

There are only two advantages to privatizing healthcare. The rich can pay for better, faster service and several of these rich people, particularly those who own insurance companies will get much, much richer.

If you live in Canada, or better yet Alberta, here's how to contact our leaders and let them know what we think of this attempt to dismantle public healthcare.

Premier Ralph Klein

Health Minister Iris Evans

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Stuff about Magick, conciousness manipulation, ritual art, Chaos Magick.

These are things I will be dipping into in more detail in the future. Magic or Magick are precisely as real and effective you decide they are.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Google buys on-line word processor

Does anybody use this thing? Would anybody use this thing? I sorta see the point, but should we become even more dependent on an external infrastructure for processes and applications? Is it maybe a little... contra-survival?

Remember that Sun Micro-Systems boss who was afraid the average user would one day have access to enough computer power to create deadly threats like rouge nano-tech and believed we should start having controled networks doling out computer power to weaker home machines? Are we slowly buying into the Spime future wireless utopia where cartons of milk talk to our fridge and not noticing we're ending up in the same place?

My brain is in think mode. Perhaps some nice numbing TV....

Here, play with this:

Ren and Stimpy's creator's blog

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Love Story

Watching bridges burn in the rear-view mirror...

The union I belonged to until December - well I still consider myself a satellite member - lockout, pickets, wrongful termination, negotiated settlement, it was a whole thing - anyway, it appears to be erupting into bloody open revolt and exile at it's annual convention this week.

I was a delegate, if I was still an employee of the company involved I'd be in a big hotel on the coast today, doubtless completely caught up in the heightened atmosphere of loathing and blood-shed. Living off righteous fury, coffee and stomach acid all day and drinking myself into unconsciousness most nights. Conventions are fun.

We lost the labor dispute, the union executive with the apparent collusion of an executive from another union often discussed for a possible merger/takeover of our union (hint: he was just kicked out of his political party for turning around and supporting another one) bent over for a company proposal that didn't even offer a reach-around and people feel betrayed and lied to.

So the first act of convention was a special emergency convention that declared no confidence in the executive and fired them all. A new president, an outsider even before he left the executive in protest has returned from his sojourn in the wilderness and been named new president by acclamation and the former president and elements of the former executive and their hangers on are suing to be re-instated.

It's another whole thing.

I'm getting this all, by the way from the news and a few e-mail lists I still belong to. Plus, I'm sleeping with a union member.

Part of me is really glad to be out of it - in the past year I fought an election as a socialist candidate in the most right-wing city in Canada and walked a picket line for months while my co-workers crossed the line. It's been a bit like swimming upstream at Niagara Falls.

But some insanely optimistic bloody minded whackamole part of me wants to leap right back into the fray.

"Maybe it's a good time for Cerebus to find a course and stick to it. Maybe it's time for Cerebus to take stock of himself, set a few long-range and short-range goals. Cerebus thinks about that quite a bit lately."

"So why haven't you done it?"

"Because Cerebus also thinks this is a good time to get drunk every day and look for comfortable gutters to lie in."

-High Society, Dave Sim

I'm gonna get re-engaged with the world again, promise. I've earned some apathy time.

What's happening at this convention illustrates a larger trend of union leadership being less radical than the membership and less in tune with it as well. Organized labor is in disarray and needs a full re-boot and recreation to become relevant. A big employment crunch has already started as the boomers begin to rev up the mass retirement that will blow huge holes in the job market. There's enormous opportunity for unions and the membership seems ahead of the executive class on the future's potentials and threats.

More frustratingly vague updates to come.

Wednesday is Geek Mardigras

It's new comic day and the cover of Matt Wagner's Batman and the Monster Men #5 is tasty, pulpy goodness.

I'm sure a lot of people are waiting for trade on this one - I'll probably pick up one as well to have a durable reading copy because this series has been a lot of fun.Wagner seems to have distelled all of his approaches to Batman down to it's purest expression here. His Batman/Grendel books, the LOTD Two-Face story many covers and now this stylized little melodrama of heightened mood and noir darkness set right after Year One.

It took awhile to get the story rolling which might read better in the inevitable trade but it's building to a sweaty adventure serial finale now with mad scientists, monsters, gangsters and doomed love - the relationship sub-plot seems straight out of Mask of the Phantasm so far but I trust Wagner to throw some changes in.

Wagner's art and Dave Stewart's coloring have been darkly luminous from start to finish. It's visually just a beautiful book and one that probably couldn't even have been printed effectively a few years ago. The covers have been, month after month the most eye-grabbing on the stands.

I think this is such a lovely pop artifact as well as being a cracking good Batman story that it's going to be remembered as a high-water mark.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hey, anybody wanna move to South Dakota?

Comedian Bill Hicks once said "Let's talk about abortion now and coalesce into one big healthy gut laugh."

For those who hadn't heard, South Dakota's Governor Rounds signed into law a ban on all abortions except those that threaten the life, not the health, of the mother.

There is no exception for rape or incest.

Now experts expect it will take about three years for this law to reach the Supreme Court and it won't be implemented until and if it passes there - currently it's 5 to 4 to maintain Roe VS Wade, even if you assume Roberts and Alito are reliable anti-Roes.

I imagine this is scant comfort to women in South Dakota right now. Particularly with this wonderful spokesman for the SD government, Republican Senator Bill Napoli:

Senator Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. PBS asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Ah senator you have a little, yeah right at the corner of your mouth, yeah here's a hanky...

This esteemed law-maker, who in no way sounds like somebody who should be on some kind of offender data-base, has also called for pharmacists to be allowed to refuse to provide birth control products. In other words he's opposed to rain, AND umbrellas.

And, you know, a sick fuck.

And now a horrifyingly logical response.

Honestly, considering this law and the type of guy representing the government that made this law. I can't argue with making this information available.

They're colonizing our imaginations to sell burgers and plastic toys

First Contact

Right. Starting to get the hang of this (Is this thing on...) yes, ok...

Some who know me would probably see a blog as an inevtable result of my highly opionated, sarcastic media junkie and inveterate TV shouter-ater personality. Indeed the only question may be "why so long you arrogant loudmouth?"

Be at peace my children I am come.

Let the self indulgence commence...

Seriously though, I've worked as a reporter, features writer and editor on newspapers and magazines in Canada and the States. I write fiction and have had some of it published. I ran as a New Democrat in the last provincial election here in Alberta. I've been a Shop Steward and union organizer, a lobbyist in Ottowa a pizza chef in Cold Lake and an actor on the stage in Vancouver. Not neccesarily all in that order.

I omniverously consume media from every source I have access to, and have opinions about all of it.

The question of course being, are my opinions worth anyone's time but my own? This would be the essence of the matter of course - are my musings, rants, observations worth the time it will take you, whoever you are, to read them?

... 'fucked if I know.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

counting down to number none

...and a terrible beauty is born.

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