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Friday, October 31, 2003  

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS TO LEMMINGS

Hint: safety fences on cliffs wouldn't make a difference.

posted by JD | 1:50 PM
 

IT'S THINGS LIKE THIS THAT MAKE ME THINK MAYBE MICHAEL MOORE ISN'T GOING TO FAR

James Baker's law firm is defending Prince Sultan, the Saudi defense minister, against a lawsuit filed by families of the 9-11 victims. As Mark Kleiman points out, defendants deserve a zealous defence, but isn't it a little strange that the former Secretary of State of the US, and GW's Florida fixer, is "carrying water for the foreign power responsible for the largest massacre of Americans ever carried out?"

How in the name of god do Americans have the idea that the Republicans are the party to protect us in time of war?

posted by JD | 1:15 PM


Thursday, October 30, 2003  

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IS ON FIRE

LA Times photo gallery. Awesome and intimidating sights.

posted by JD | 4:33 PM


Wednesday, October 29, 2003  

THE BIG BAD NEW GEHRY BUILDING IN LA

City comforts looks at the good, the bad and the beautiful. Verdict? Pretty nice eye candy, but there's no way in hell it's going to "revitalise the neighborhood" as its proponents (and the apologists for its $250mn price tag) say it will.

Why not? Because three of the sides are block-long blank walls. Who the hell wants to hang by a blank wall? Ok, besides drug dealers. (Obviously it'll be too well policed for that.)

We need shops, people! Shops!

posted by JD | 12:47 PM


Monday, October 27, 2003  

MY GOD IS A JUST GOD, NOT LIKE THAT STUPID MUSLIM ONE

Sorry - looks like General Boykin has taken over my site. Ah well, perhaps if I burn some good thigh meat on the altar he'll let me have it back. In the meantime, I know my god is a really nice fella because even though I thought the Guardain wasn't going to publish my letter on redneck chic and refugees (scroll down), on Saturday it did.

Ah such minor triumphs.

posted by JD | 1:04 PM
 

YOU THINK THE NHS IS BAD? TAKE A LOOK AT THIS FELLA

I'm constantly amazed by American arguments against "socialised medicine", but the one argument I do find somewhat compelling is the one that highlights the US's capacity to offer top-end supercare not available elsewhere. As an example, one of Jayne's old work mates had his life saved after flying to the US with £70,000 in cash to have an experimental procedure done to his liver. Otherwise, he'd have died within a few months. So some people really do benefit from the best of the American health system.

But so many more suffer. Day in, day out, medical decisions are made by insurance companies. Literally, guys at desk looking at spreadsheets telling patients thousands of miles away that 24 hours after surgery for bladder cancer, they're ready to go home. As in this case from a letter to today's Guardian:

"My heart stopped when reading of the health secretary's plans to import methods used by private healthcare corporations in the US (Plan to cut hospital stays the US way, October 23). I have just returned from the US where I experienced first hand the effect of these shortened hospital stays. My 85-year-old father was sent home less than 24 hours after surgery for bladder cancer. My elderly mother, after the briefest of guidance, was expected to nurse him. Within a fortnight, my father had a stroke and my mother was in a state of emotional and physical collapse.
Arriving a few days later, I found that my father was again about to be discharged from hospital. The stroke had rendered him partially blind with difficulty communicating and limited mobility. He was suffering from a bladder infection and still on catheter due to the bladder surgery. He was considered to need 24-hour care. In spite of all of this, and the fact that the hospital staff wanted my father to stay at least another week, the insurance company declared him fit to go home. The social worker and I spent many hours arguing with the insurance company. They were "generous" with another few days.

I had to spend the precious time of being with my fragile father trying to reach the heart of someone hundreds of miles away sitting in front of a computer screen filled with bureaucratic criteria, with the stockholders' agenda as the bottom line. When I arrived back in the UK, I kissed the ground in thanks for the glorious, imperfect NHS."
Cathryn McNaughton
Lower Shiplake, Oxon

There was a bit of chat about American health care recently at Crooked Timber, and I know I've read a damn long thread on it somewhere else in the last few weeks. Thought it was on Calpundit, but can't find. Oh well... I'm sure there'll be plenty more said.

posted by JD | 12:58 PM


Thursday, October 23, 2003  

FORTRESS EUROPE?

At Fistful of Euros, a good discussion on European immigration policies. Since immigrating here I've thought that this issue was one of the few in which US policy was more compassionate than European - though of course crowding plays a huge role in the European equation. What will I believe when I learn more? We'll see.

posted by JD | 12:32 PM
 

REDNECK CHIC

In the Guardian, Carrie Gibson capitalises on her heritage to write an article decrying redneck chic. It's well written, but so banal in the quality of its argument that I'd expect to see it in a high school paper.

As part of my never-ending quest to capitalise on my own redneck background to get onto the letters page of the Guardian, I've sent them a response:

Carrie Gibson (So hip it hurts, 23 Oct) needs a sense of perspective. Like her grandmother, I lived in a trailer in the deep American south. (It was a doublewide, so we thought we were lower middle class.) And like Carrie, I now pass dozens of people a day wearing "Trailer Trash" t-shirts and sporting the same mullet I wore as a boy. I'm not offended. The reason it's ok to dress up like a redneck and not a refugee is that refugees suffer more in a week than rednecks like me will suffer in our lifetimes. Even fashonistas have enough sense to see that.

Will I make the cut? Tune in tomorrow...

posted by JD | 12:17 PM


Wednesday, October 22, 2003  

ARCHITECTURE FOR THE PEOPLE, BABY

Via the mighty CT, an informative discussion of New Urbanism versus "Secured by Design".

posted by JD | 12:08 PM


Friday, October 17, 2003  

SCHOOL SELECTION AND/OR PARENTAL CHOICE

Harry Brighouse of Crooked Timber weighs in.

posted by JD | 8:36 PM
 

PULLING YOURSELF UP BY YOUR LUNCHBOX STRAPS

Via Crooked Timber, a very interesting post on the role of school in creating social mobility. After writing that "in fact very few societies have come anywhere close to approximating the ideal. In Britain, for example, although the proportion of working class children attending university has steadily increased over the past 50 years, this has only been in line with the increase in the proportion of 18 year olds attending university. Relatively, it is as great an advantage to be born well in 2003 as it was in 1953," Harry then addresses social policy decisions that can be taken to improve schools and social mobility.

His argument is that you've got to help the least advantaged while ensuring the middle classes that the schools are good enough for their kids. One proposal is to:

"alter the funding formula so that all children eligible for free school meals bring with them three times the normal amount of per pupil funding. This helps to counteract the tendency of schools to prefer middle class to less advantaged children, and ensures that, if low income children do still concentrate into particular schools, they are at least better resourced."

I think it would also encourage middle class kids to attend these suddenly very well resourced schools. You could ideally get a very good mix. He's got more. Go read.

posted by JD | 8:34 PM
 

FIXING THE US HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

Over at CalPundit, King Drum asks why businesses don't push for a single-payer health care system. After all, he points out, by taking away the expense and hassle of providing health care, single ppayer would save businesses money - and help level the field for smaller companies.

An interesting and amazingly civil debate ensues. Well worth a read. The best post I've read so far concerns what markets are good at and what they're not:

"One of my problems with our health care industry is that the market incents parts of the industry to come up with better solutions within the given fraemwork of our industry. For example, it incents a drug company to come up with a better treatment for high cholestoral. But it does not incent anyone to provide the best solution in general to those health care problems (which, in the case of the vast majority of people with high cholestoral, is diet and exercise).

It seems to me that if the market really can come up with the most efficient solution to a problem, then it should be able to come up with the best health care treatment, not just the best drug. Can you come up with a suggestion that would have this outcome?"

posted by JD | 12:47 PM


Wednesday, October 15, 2003  

HOW NOT TO GET RICH

Neil and I will open a pub called the Thong & Goggle.

In a private venture, I'm opening another drinking joint: Allahu Sportsbar.

posted by JD | 12:03 PM
 

THE AMERICAN PRESS SMELLS OF SECOND-RATE CHEESE

One in a million examples why, from Matthew Yglesias.

posted by JD | 12:01 PM
 

DRUGS: HIGHER ENFORCEMENT, LOWER PRICES

Mark Kleinman has an interesting post on the downward trend in heroin and cocaine prices over the last three decades. Compared to inflation, heroin in the US is now 95% cheaper than it was in 1980; cocaine is only slightly behind at 90%.

Yep, that drug war's really making drugs harder to purchase. But at least it's putting more people in jail!

posted by JD | 10:48 AM


Wednesday, October 08, 2003  

FIGHTING THROUGH PHLEGM TO BLOG

Boy, I must be some kinda superhero, dontcha know?

An old Fistful of Euros post on Work Freedom Day, which in the US doesn't come until Nov 17. But I'll be celebrating it here on October 25th. Can someone get me Johny Paycheck on the phone?

posted by JD | 12:29 PM
 

WHERE TO SEARCH FOR SOCIOLOGICAL DATA

Via, Crooked Timber, this handy list of sociological resources

posted by JD | 12:08 PM
 

HOLIDAYS + TOO MUCH WORK ON RETURN + COLD AND FLU SEASON HERE IN THE UK = NO TIME TO BLOG FOR NOW, ALAS. BUT SOON WE'LL HAVE BROADBAND AT HOME...

posted by JD | 11:33 AM
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