Archive for November, 2011

Ways the Modern World Is Not Like You Think It Is

November 24, 2011

We imagine we are cataloging and compiling our lives in this digital age as never before…

…but the reality is our records are ephemeral. When the school system upgrades their records to a new software system, will they allocate the funds to convert 25 year old records to the new format? When Patch, the replacement for your local newspaper, does the same or simply goes belly up, what will happen to the picture of your child’s championship swim meet? And when you die, will your children have the password to your email account? And will that one be the same one you used while wooing your spouse? And given that unliklihood, will they have the patience to sift through tens of thousands of notes and FYI’s and grocery lists to find the one special email where you declared your love?

So we are returning to the pre-literate days. The only records we leave behind will be a few official ones.


Taking Flight

November 19, 2011

So I lift off in an incredibly strong aluminum tube, stretching east out of Singapore and banking so steeply I can peer into the islands visited by a thousand wooden ships a half dozen lifetimes ago. A single light shines through the dusk, and that bright enough to pierce the thin strip of cloud stitching across a hundred beaches. What is that beacon?

The Party of Nothing

November 19, 2011

There is an article in the New York Times that really crystalizes where the Democratic party is today, and by default, what the Republican party has become. The Democrats, however flawed, offer the only home for those people who want to do something. The Republicans have become the party of nothing. I am a “on the one hand, and on the other” kind of guy by nature, so this lop sided and harsh judgement does not come naturally to me.

The Times article describes the hard work done by the Democrats in Massachusetts to understand and deal with the health care cost crisis in their state. It is a multi year effort, and one that the party leaders are actually engaged in. Martha Coakely is quoted on just one small but crucial issue: is there a justification for reimbursing the prestige hospitals and physicians at the higher rates they currently demand. She checks off a number of reasons this might be justified but then refers to research to show that these reasons are not borne out by the facts. I know something about how this works and it takes a number of iterations to nail these things down. You do a study. Possible flaws are raised. You revisit the data or do another study. Repeat until it is nailed. This is hard work.

So, honestly, can you imagine this type of effort coming from a collection of Republicans today? No chance. Republicans are punished by their base for even entertaining complexity. They are defined by what they are against, and justify their lack of accomplishments by disparaging those as fools who think progress is possible.

Issues are complex and their landscape is strewn with facts of various shapes, sizes and worth. If you are the type of person who looks at that confusing jumble and starts to plan how to evaluate each piece and plan how to build something solid and useful with the best of them then your only recourse today is to join with the Democrats, whatever their flaws. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who has no interest in those pieces except to judge which has the best heft and sharpest edges for throwing at your enemies, whether they be gold or copralytes, then you are today’s Republican.