Oct 27th, 2009 by ravi
Alan Grayson’s Names of the Dead in the War on Public Health
One of the real life stories:

We were living in Los Angeles when he died. Robert was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Because he had no health insurance, He had to go to Harbor Medical in Los Angeles. That hospital is over crowded like other charity recipient hospitals. When He died, I could not get the name of his prmary physician or anyone willing to give him a Death Certificate.

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Oct 21st, 2009 by ravi
Trending: baby survives falling under train

Baby survives after falling under train

Now making the rounds.

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Oct 14th, 2009 by ravi
Iceland finds capitalism a fair weather friend

The crisis has also caused a radical U-turn in people’s views of society.

“There is clear evidence that the nation believes free capitalism has completely failed and now wants to focus on the Scandinavian welfare model,” says Prof Olafsson.

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Oct 7th, 2009 by ravi
Politics: the real disability of Helen Keller

On Wednesday, a statue commemorating her 1887 breakthrough will be unveiled in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, the first statue in the Capitol of a person with a disability, as well as the first of a child, according to the Alabama governor’s office.

Neither the statue, nor the politicians speaking of Keller — or the CNN article for that matter — dares write about what, for Keller, overcoming disability to achieve greatness means, because it is a bit of a discomforting fact: Keller was a socialist, writer on labour affairs, and a pacifist. As the Wikipedia entry on Keller tells us, this dismissal of her politics is nothing new:

Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.[11] Newspaper columnists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she expressed her socialist views now called attention to her disabilities. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that her “mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development.” Keller responded to that editor, referring to having met him before he knew of her political views:

“At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him…Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.”

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Oct 6th, 2009 by ravi
Fodor’s book critiquing Natural Selection available for pre-order

This is a groundbreaking attack on the most influential scientific orthodoxy of the last 150 years. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. They do not deny Darwin’s status as an outstanding scientist but question the inferences he drew from his observations. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical argument they mount a devastating critique of the central tenets of Darwin’s account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken. They back up the claim with evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement – the short book that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors’ arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least, they will transform the debate about evolution.

If you are blissfully unaware of this brouhaha take a gander at Fodor’s first shot across the bow, in the LRB: . And if you do read it, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the article and read Fodor’s exchange of letters with various biologists and philosophers.

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Oct 6th, 2009 by ravi
Race and Romance

When I first started looking at first-contact attempts and who was writing who back, it was immediately obvious that the sender’s race was a huge factor. Here are just a handful of the numbers that illustrate that:

The takeaway here is that although race shouldn’t matter in messaging, it does. A lot.

The really troubling numbers come towards the end of the post (linked to above), for e.g: white women and men strongly prefer (at 54% and 40% respectively) to date someone of their own colour. There is humour here as well: the above chart demonstrates that Indian men are so universally reviled that even Indian women do not want to date them! ;-)

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Oct 5th, 2009 by ravi
Healthcare pathologies

Post-heroic European societies, having paid in blood for violent political movements born of inequality and class struggle, see greater risk in unfettered individualism than in social solidarity. Americans, born in revolt against Europe and so ever defining themselves against the old Continent’s models, mythologize their rugged (always rugged) individualism as the bulwark against initiative-sapping entitlements. We’re not talking about health here. We’re talking about national narratives and mythologies — as well as money. These are things not much susceptible to logic. But in matters of life and death, mythology must cede to reality, profit to wellbeing.

Despite the bizarre use of the word “wise” to describe Andrew Sullivan, this article by Cohen in the NYT is a good read since he nails some important points: the identification of the emotions underlying the opposition to healthcare; the calling out the bogus argument based on incentives; the stress on the moral nature of the issue; the never before seen reference to “big doctors’ salaries”; and the advice to Obama to grow a pair.

The quote from Hayek is an added bonus.

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Oct 5th, 2009 by ravi
Why do conservatives hate America?

Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report.


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Oct 5th, 2009 by ravi
Things not so gay on the money front

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Oct 3rd, 2009 by ravi
The other side of arrogance

Did Chicago lose the chance to host the 2016 Olympics because of airport security issues?

Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

Anyone who has had to obtain a visa to visit the USA or invite a friend or relative to visit them in the USA is well aware of the needless humiliation that is part of the process involved. Sometimes, this sort of arrogance, bites back! (It should be noted however that in comparison to European nations, the USA remains more open and fairer to immigrants — IMHO).

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