Sunday, August 23, 2009

But What Is Truth?

Tim Abbott over at Walking the Berkshires has a couple of interrelated posts up. The elder offers a top ten double feature of historical dramas like Beckett and the Lion in Winter. Made at different times they still go together. Tim -- like the old actor, Henry, in The Fantasticks -- not only knows the ropes, but the ropes to skip. The second post points derisively at these.
Perusing them I was reminded of a young cinematographer manqué I once worked with back when Z was the heartthrob of all radical filmmakers. I was teaching a course in adaptation, turning a Mark Twain short story into a film.
Naturally the discussion in those very contentious years swirled around how true -- how faithful -- we could be to the text. At one point the C. M. stood up to announce: "The camera never lies."
"It never does anything else." I might have retorted.
Because the photographer chooses the subject, the frame, the mood, the lighting, the shutter speed and every other influence on the result, the camera cannot be a "warts and all" record of an event. The camera cannot help but lie -- that is, tell considerably less than the full reality of the subject.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red Ripe Ultimatum

We can't do single payer in health care?
We can't fund war.
It really is that simple.
The hard part is what we do instead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Digby Nails It

On some level we're being played and I think most of us know it and don't want to admit it.

No further comment required.

Ah, Jeez...
Except to point out that this applies to everything Not just the ongoing mortgage debacle (what about commercial real estate defaults? Etc... Etc... and so forth, King Mongkut is reputed to remark by Oscar Hammerstein II.)
We've put on the brakes and are now skidding into Clamp Lagoonk, (Obscure reference except to those who have resided on Adak, AK)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nothing Changes

The low state of their morale made even procrastination savourless.
Whiskey Galore by Compton Mac Kenzie


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Signs of the Times?

The billboard copy reads:
"Optimism is Contagious"

It advertises a bank.
In that case pessimism must be pandemic.

Noted But Not Null

"As a scientist you are taught not to answer questions, but to question answers." — Anonymous
May we all find the wisdom to do the same.

Of late Sandy has been writing, apparently from Industry talking points, against proposed health insurance reforms. It was a double loss then to find her ignoring contrary arguments and asserting exaggerations and distortions as facts to reinforce fear and uncertainty. It is a pleasure to find her back in the science shop where the clarity of her writing about methodology and data versus abstracts and press releases is a joy and needed anodyne to the media hysteria that rules our discourse.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Aether Asks

Surgeon General Koop looks for a new war for the Public Health warriors. Chooses Fat People. Lots of trees die. Electrons are splatted against high tech antennas near you. New twenty seven color presses are sold to Glossy Magazines. Etc. Etc. Etc. and so on ad infinitum.
So Meagan McArdle interviews Paul Campos for the Atlantic. A world of bloggers famous, infamous and nebbish wade in (even Dum Luks) with every ceivable (con and incon) position, pov, and measured incendiarical remark.
One remark that flies by is the notion that Insurance companies -- as a matter of business survival -- measure the cost of risk factors to a nicety of accuracy lest they lose money. Therefore, since they charge a high premium to fat people, it is obvious, despite the most credible scientific studies to the contrary (See the Obesity Paradox series for chapter and verse), that fat people cost a lot of health care.
Mull that one.
Consider that insurance companies, like other casinos, expect to take in more money than they pay out. So of course they would charge a high premium to someone they knew was terminally ill. But... they want to be your pal so you continue to send in your premium. So rather than be seen to turn the oldster with terminal gaffufleitis out into the cold they look around. Who is an easy mark? Somebody who everybody knows is a health risk but who statistically has less illness than other people? Why fat people! So you raise their premiums to pad the P&L, just in case your cousin's kid didn't didn't do as well on that actuarial course as claimed.

Wha... I'M being cynical?
No way. Cynical would be if I claimed they paid for the marketing that supports the war on obesity.