Monthly Archives: January 2007

On Socialized Medicine

A Hard Lesson About Socialized Medicine

In recent news, Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential hopeful, has announced that he is in favor of some kind of system of socialized medicine in this country. He joins Hillary Clinton, who has been flogging this particular horse for years.

I am sure this is a great vote-getter.

It is also a very very very bad idea.

I was born and raised in England; a country that already has a socialized healthcare system that is creaking and falling apart at the seams. I have personal experience of the astounding level of incompetence that such a system engenders. Lost X-rays, paper-based files that can never be found, waiting lists, (I’ve even heard of unofficial waiting lists to get on official waiting lists!)…

Think about it. We already trust the Government to look after our poor, our elderly, our pensions and our education. And they are failing miserably at all four. And now we want to trust them with our health??

Socialized Medicine: Good for votes, bad for you.

Quote of the Day: “For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run — with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

Now Reading: The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

I told you so

Microsoft May Have Mistakenly Pegged Half A Million As Pirates (InformationWeek)

I have made no secret of the fact that there is no place for Windows XP on any of my machines. I do not like the idea of software “activation”, and will not do it if I have an alternative.

Once activated I have a big problem with the manufacturer checking if my copy was “legit”. If activation worked properly, surely this would not be necessary. I don’t want anyone sniffing around in there – it’s MY computer, dammit!

My biggest beef, however, is with DRM – Digital Rights Management – the idea that content publishers have any right to tell their customers me what to do with the content after purchase. As long as I do not infringe on your rights to profit from your content, leave me alone.

In this story, over half a million users have been mistakenly labelled as pirates by Microsoft’s overly-zealous “Genuine Advantage” program. That’s over half a million cases too many. Over half a million cases of slander or libel. And we, the People, just sit there and take it. Looks like Microsoft is taking “Genuine Advantage” of its users. And Windows Vista looks like it will be even worse.

I have commented again and again and again on why I don’t do XP at home. Besides, Windows 2000 is virtually identical under the hood – in spite of all of the claimed innovations, the version number went from 5.0 (2000) to 5.1 (XP). Turn off all of XP’s “dancing baloney” and it is hard to tell them apart.

Would you buy a car that breathalyzed you before it would start? Or one that sensed the speed limit and prevented you from exceeding it? Then why do we put up with this?

The first duty of an operating system is to enable and empower users – not to command and control them.

The gloves are off

I watched the president’s speech last night.

And I can’t remember the last time I was so bored.

Strange that a man who can hold my attention for an entire State of the Union address had me wandering off after less than five minutes.

I guess I had expected more. I had expected to see a little more contrition, perhaps a smattering of humility. What I got was a whole lot of strategy and war plans.

I was annoyed to see the familiar game of presidential buzzword bingo, as “Terrorism”, “September 11th”, “Al Quaeda” and “Democracy” and “War on Terror” were trotted out like thoroughbreds before the big race.

There were a few new words added this time round – was a lot of “bipartisan” action – as if, with a democrat-controlled Congress, he has any choice – along with “sectarian”. I have heard this word used to describe the troubles in Ulster (for those of you who failed Geography, that’s in Ireland), but this is the first time I have heard this word used in connection with Iraq. Expect to hear more of that one in the future.

I don’t need to know what or how or when. I want to know why.

Yes, a new strategy is needed in Iraq. We’ve known that for some time. But do we – and by extension, the bad guys – really need to know the details? Do they need to know how many additional soldiers are being committed and where they will be?

What was missing? Here are my suggestions:

We got spanked in the November elections. It is obvious that you are trying to tell me something.

Now we just need to finish the job and let the Iraqis get on with it. So the gloves are coming off.”

As an aside, I have often wondered how many of our leaders have “skin in the game” – how many of them have siblings and children out there on the front line. Very few, I suspect.

What I was most impressed about was that the President pronounced “Iran” correctly (“ear-raan” not “I-ran”); but someone needs to teach the leader of the free world how to correctly pronounce the word “Nuclear”

It’s not that hard.


Now Reading: Brave New Ballot by Avi Rubin

You’re losing me… DiscoverCard

I got one of your gas cards two year ago, because of the 5% cashback you were offering on petrol purchases.

This was a good thing.

Between February 2005 and September 2006 I have been awarded over $200 in credits to my account – about $10 a month in free petrol – without changing my buying habits.

This was a good thing.

Then in October you changed the rules and capped the cashback allowance to $60 per year. For me, this was effectively cutting the bonus in half.

This was not a good thing.

Your website and latest statement keep gushing things like “Keep using your Discover(R) Card and watch your Cashback Bonus(R) grow!”

That’s not really true anymore, it is?

Since you have changed your rules, I am changing mine: I will be using my card just enough to get the $60. Then I will stop using your card for the remainder of the year.

Without the cashback bonus, there’s no incentive to use it. Without that bonus, you’re just another credit card…

…and I don’t do credit cards.


Now reading: Beat Your Ticket: Go To Court & Win (no tickets – just curious!)

Book Review: Barak Obama, “The Audacity of Hope”

For those who do not know, Mr Obama is the Junior Senator from Illinois, elected to the Senate in 2004. He is widely tipped as potential presidential material.

This is his story, his philosophy and his manifesto.

His writing style is both candid and readable, and he comes across as surprisingly “normal” for one who is a professional politician.

The book opens with an account of his birth and background. Unlike most of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate, he has actually seen how the other half lives, having grown up overseas (in Indonesia). This gives him a unique perspective among his peers.

As I read the early pages of this book, I found myself wanting to see this man elected as president. That was until he touched on the constitution, referring to as “a living document”. That was when we parted ideological company.

The Constitution was drafted over a number of years by a bunch of very smart people who believed in small, limited central government, low taxation, individual rights and minimal governmental intervention.

Last time I looked, was a legal document that said what it meant and meant what it said. It is about as negotiable as the Ten Commandments. It is not intended to be interpreted and reinterpreted according to cultural whim and contemporary fad; if it were there would be no need for a mechanism and procedure for changing it.

This document is what the President swears to “preserve, protect and defend” in his Oath of Office. Not “America”. Not “The American People”. The Constitution.

From this point on, the book goes steadily southwards, as he advocates government help in various areas that obviously need improvement. Help that comes out of the pockets of Mr. and Mrs. You and Me.

This is not a pro or anti-demopublican rant – I would vote for neither. There used to be a time when the two parties had major ideological differences (small/big gov’t, taxation, States rights etc), but now it seems that their only real difference is who their friends are.

In conclusion, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this man, and I think that he will bring a bit of horse-sense to the Senate, as long as he remains in touch with reality. However, I cannot bring myself to seriously consider any man for the presidency whose oath of office would be meaningless.

Now Reading: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis