Monthly Archives: August 2009

A Zombie TV Show?

I saw this Digg post on “The Sci-Fi Sitcoms that Never Were“, and in it was the full pilot for a show called Babylon Fields… It’s a zombie drama/dark comedy in which the graveyard residents of a NJ town come crawling out, seeking not to eat brains, but to resume their lives, reconnect with their families, and in some cases, solve their own murders. I can’t believe CBS didn’t pick it up, the pilot is great. I’d love to see SyFy reconsider it (or Gay Robot if they’re not interested in my vote — and the Remnants looks like it might be funny too… I do like the idea about a post-apocalyptic comedy).

A Question About Healthcare, And My Answer

In light of my all-too-many experiences with the healthcare system over the last couple of years, I was asked to comment on whether I’m happy with the Canadian healthcare that I’m getting, or if I’d be happier with American healthcare.

That’s a bit of a loaded question, because as I understand it, the main problem with American healthcare is not so much the quality of the healthcare but the issues of class inequality and the fact that a significant percentage of people do not have proper access to healthcare. So as a reasonably well-off individual, I’d assume that under the US system I’d be well insured, and thus get excellent health care, the best in the world by some accounts, and quite likely better than I’m getting now. However, I don’t think that fact necessarily means that it’s a better system. Also, I do know wealthy Americans, self-employed folks in general, who skimp on paying for medical insurance and as a result find themselves in very unpleasant circumstances when things go wrong — so even the well off can be failed by the US system.

Here in Canada I’ve always had easy and completely free access to my family doctor, often many times a month. If I want an appointment, I usually have it the next day or at most two or three days off, and I can always go to any number of walk-in clinics as well who provide similar service with only a few hours wait (also covered by government healthcare). Emergency room service is acceptably fast, although if you go in for something that’s not emergency, you can find yourself waiting for a few hours or sometimes more, but that’s not really an issue of who’s paying, that’s more of a procedural decision at the hospital that’s difficult to find objective fault with. Most things — all the doctors visits and all the testing — are free, but I do have to pay for prescriptions (which can add up), eye care, and dental. These things are covered by employers for the majority of people with regular jobs, but I’m not in that category and never have been.

The problem that you have in Canada, that I’ve experienced to some extent, is that when you find yourself in a position where something less normal is going on, and you need to see experts, that you can at times have significant wait times — a few months or more — to see a specialist. This is more because we just don’t have enough qualified experts — the system itself does its best to get you in as quickly as possible — than because of some sort of “rationing” conspiracy that’s keeping you from seeing doctors. That said, I’m sure that the amount of specialists is influenced by there being less money in the system in general than there is in the US. Because the conditions that I’m personally dealing with are often excruciatingly physically painful, these wait times are very difficult to cope with, and I have sometimes wondered whether I’d be better off in a country where money can give you unfair treatment. Objectively I don’t like the idea that a wealthier person gets preferential healthcare, because I really feel that healthcare must be egalitarian, but on a subjective level it’s harder to believe in those ideals when you’re personally affected.

I’d love to see more money in Canada invested in healthcare — more technology, and more doctors — but in terms of the system itself, I’ve been happy with my experiences with it, all things considered. As to whether I think the US should switch to a universal system, of course I feel that it’s the duty of all nations to ensure the health of their citizens, but I think it’s important that the US not sacrifice the significant lead that it has in many categories to achieve this.

incision

I don’t know anything yet about the results of my most recent surgery, which was done to try and figure out why my muscles are breaking down seemingly without explanation, but the incision that was left by the surgeon was beautifully closed and I expect I will have little to no scar — unlike the brutal gash left from the last two surgeries, that healed to about a half an inch wide scar with many stitch-marks from the staples that held it closed. Of course that’s a photo of it above, at one week old. I’m going with the assumption that the clean work and attention to detail on the incision is a sign that the work that was done internally is of similar quality.

Other than that, we’ve been having fun until school starts — last night we strapped flashlights to the RC cars and took them to the park for night races, and this week I should have most of the parts I need to get the Sterling on the road (the new exhaust went on today), so hopefully that actually happens before the snow falls this year. All-in-all though during this period where there’s no school or summer camp I’m pretty wiped out by day’s end so I haven’t been too motivated to write here. Nefarious is off at the CNE today with her grandmother, her second time this week, having just seen the amazing two-plus minute underwater escape act by Kristen Johnson (one of the most intense escape artists in the world) with an old friend. Might do another road trip next week, at least a short one, in part to get away from the night time noise, as my neighbor’s band has a big concert coming up so they’ve been putting a lot of work into practicing lately. Since I’m here alone, I finally watched Suicide Club (Jisatsu s√Ękuru), which I really enjoyed and recommend you check out, if you can find a torrent site that isn’t getting pushed offline…

*RING*

Interrupted by the doorbell, I just got a great surprise delivery of some homemade preserves and a conversation with a friend, which is a nice piece of synchronicity, as just an hour or two earlier there was another ring at the doorbell which contained a box of books, many of which were books on how to make such preserves that I’d ordered for Caitlin as a present.

I also got some sailing books in that shipment, so I think I’ll now read them in the bath and pretend I’ve achieved that dream. I continue to more and more seriously eyeball a nice big live-aboard catamaran on which I can spend a few years sailing around the world…

Cut Up But Healing Well

My healing is progressing well with no apparent complications. I am continuing with the philosophy that served me well with my most recent surgery before this one, that is, to be as active and in as much motion as possible without doing injury. It helps that there are just some internal sutures, which will dissolve on their own, and some tape on the surface — no big metal staples to remove like the last couple times. I expect I will have photos of the surgery itself next week. They were taken on my surgeon’s camera — the very first thing I asked when I came out of the anesthesia (which was supposed to be just a local, but the sedative completely knocked me out) was, “how did the pictures turn out?”, upon which he showed me some nice images of the roughly four-inch long gash held open with stainless steel spreaders.

I will have results in a few weeks, and then I find out what the next step is.

hospital-polaroids

While I was recovering, I read a Robert Jensen book called Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, written by a “man” (I put that in quotes, because he renounces his status as a man in the book) and ominously dedicated to Andrea Dworkin, who I have little to no respect for. I do agree that pornography that convinces inexperienced young people that forced gag-inducing throat f*cking, ATM, violent sodomy, and so on has a lot more negatives than redeeming qualities, but like most anti-porn crusaders, the author doesn’t even understand why people are drawn to pornography, past projecting his own weaknesses and perversions onto the world (and isn’t willing to educate himself or do any research, choosing instead to grasp at straws to find scenes that let him prop up his idiocy), and spends the book showcasing his own insecurities, self-loathing, and pretentious self-righteousness. It’s this kind of shallow-minded liberalism — which is really just another pseudo-religious extremist stance trying to force its fear-mongering ignorance on the world — that gives feminism a bad name. It’s unfortunate that someone who’s regarded as an expert (a professor in this author’s case) can hold and promote such views. I suppose though that the sheltered world of academia often doesn’t foster intellectual growth, but instead is an environment in which people build up their foolishness with a cadre of women’s studies yes-men egging them on to get more and more disconnected from reality, and more sure of themselves the further away from any lucid reality they travel.

I’ll quote some of the reviews of Robert Jenson’s book here, because I really think it’s important that if someone stumbles upon this blog post looking for the book that they really have it emphasized as strongly as possible what a jackass Robert Jenson is.

A mandatory book for a psychology class which pretty much reaffirms my growing realization that the field in general has become so rife with biases drawn from flawed assumptions that have no accurate basis in fact, history, reality etc. And that pretty much mirrors this book. If one accepts the given tenants of radical feminism, and supposes that masculinity is entirely constructed, and constructed to oppress women, than this book will be your cup of tea. If you live in the real world and think that women are accountable for and play a controlling role in how they shape perceptions of themselves as a group then this book will read like more delirious gender feminist skreed. Also if you reject the enormous assumption that men like porn because it proves they are different from women, and therefore superior to them then you will dislike this book. Moreover if you disagree that masculinity is solely constructed to dominate and screw over others then you will also find this book absurd. The book relies on assumptions and passes them off as facts from which to build its arguments, but unfortunately, the assumptions are broad leaps of intellectual dishonesty, much like the proponents who pedal this kind of tripe from their taxpayer subsidized classrooms, and pass it off as academia. One star is too kind, and the taxpayers deserve better than this.

Robert Jensens logic and rhetoric are in dire need of improvement … One of Jensen’s main arguments on pornography and rape is actually the “textbook” example of “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” as seen on the CSU Northridge website on logical fallacies and debate. Embarrassing. Along with weak analogies and other logical failures, he basically left all his arguments open to easy destruction. By the end of the book, he had done more to hurt his cause then help it. The whole affair is shameful. … his continually repeated thesis that “men hate women.” … His entire attitude is one of divisiveness, men vs. women. His critiques of society are well deserved, but he is going about it all wrong. Blaming entire genders, races or religions for the problems in the world are not going to solve them. … I am scared to think that we have political activists like Jensen out there, if he sees any modicum of success in his vision it will be at our expense. My solace is that I cannot imagine any emotionally healthy person could possibly embrace his message.

Jensen’s liberal humanism is nothing but a guise for thought control. His arguments are puerile, scattered, and inconclusive.

Even some of the positive reviews should make it clear what lunacy this is:

Jensen is such a radical feminist that he thinks the entire system needs to be overhauled; it’s not enough for men to “protect” or esteem women enough to stop looking at porn– they must reject the entire concept of masculinity, because Jensen interprets the patriarchal system as essentially creating a “rape culture.” … I think Jensen is really limited by his moral perspective. In his discussion “What is sex for?”, for example, he refuses to even consider the argument, “For procreation,” because that would disenfranchise gays and lesbians.

Way to continue the trend of making political correctness a joke. Even the University of Texas (where Jensen teaches) President called him “a fountain of undiluted foolishness”, although he didn’t have the balls to fire him. Anyway, I can’t see anyone agreeing with any of this book other than people who already desperately want to believe this junk, either because they hold some sort of extremist feminist view, or they’re a religious nut that spends their life believing even bigger fallacies. I hate it when stupid people masquerade as intellectuals, and I hate it even more when entire institutions of stupid people form to prop up the house of cards. Maybe they’re not stupid, maybe it’s just some sort of “the emperor wears no clothes” collective delusion… I don’t know. And don’t get me started on his whiny rich white man blathering about how rich white men are the real problem in this world. He really makes me sick. But enough rambling about him.

We were going to see District 9 today at the theatre, but the timing didn’t work so we stayed home and watched Pontypool instead, an interesting movie in which a zombie-esque virus is spread by language. We’re off to the mall now to return a non-functioning remote control hovercraft that I got yesterday… Then I’ll grab Nefarious and a friend from school and head off to the park for a while, and play with whatever vehicle I get as a replacement (as well as the super-fun buggy that’s a few entries down from this one).

Might do some old fashioned cooking this weekend, although my plans are never quite what I announce them to be, so I’m not sure why I bother. Perhaps someone reading this will do it, and I can enjoy the food vicariously through a stranger’s blog.

Out of the frying pan, into the OR

Taking a few more days offline as I go in for my surgery first thing in the morning. They’re taking out about a finger-sized piece of muscle from my thigh which I’m told I will hardly miss and will heal from quite quickly so with luck they are telling me the truth and there will be little downtime (Say WHAT?). It’s so hot and noisy in this studio though, enough so to risk my health with adverse effects on healing, that we’re all going to spend the first two nights of recovery at a nice hotel instead. Hopefully that’ll also off-put any stress that Nefarious has from this with the joy of the hotel’s four-storey high corkscrew waterslide. I will do my best to take some photos of the operation.

into-the-cave

I got a new toy

I got a totally fun totally cheap RC car today… It’s got big flotation tires on it so it can flip over and drive upside down (it seems tough enough to handle the abuse we’ve been gifting it), and better yet, can drive in the water as well. It’s pretty fast, and it drives like a tank, where you can control the left and right sides separately which lets you do things like spin in place. We had a ton of fun with it at the park, as well as at home, and shared our glee with the many kids who gathered to watch our games. Not that their parents were mad about Nefarious smashing into them with the car, but I figured that letting them have a try too would alleviate any anger they were subconsciously considering!

All in all a nice day, especially after a couple very rough days (made worse by the brutal temperatures in our skylight-heavy studio) where I was feeling so terrible I was melodramatically almost wondering if I was even going to wake up the next morning. Nefarious and Cassie and I sat on the roof today under sun-umbrellas reading The Ogress and the Snake, a collection of fairy tales from Somalia (not as good as I’d hoped), and then in the evening before bed read a couple more chapters from Island of the Blue Dolphins, a gift from Caitlin who also enjoyed it as a child. We went to Another Story today, one of Toronto’s best bookstores (especially for kids’ books), and picked up some great additions to our library, including some graphic novels which Nefarious is starting to enjoy reading by herself.

Oh, and I fixed my truck. It’s been making nasty banging and creaking noises when I go over bumps, and I worried that my suspension was having troubles, but thankfully it was nothing more than one of the clamps holding the exhaust in place having broken… A quick wire-job, and now the problem is “solved”.

rc-toy-1

They’re not terribly exciting but there are more toy pictures after the break.

(Continued)