Thoughts on 9/11, Ten Years Later

Thinking a lot about 9/11 today. What happened in NYC, Pennsylvania, and DC; who it touched, directly and indirectly; how we as a nation have responded to the events ten years ago; and how the world has changed since that day. What I know for sure is that the US has as its roots the greatest, most revolutionary idea in the history of man – that people can live together in peace under the rule of law and prosper with freedom for all, not just the few. I’m not sure we’ve always lived up to that creed in the last ten years, but I do know that every time events have called for us to step up, we have. I’m sure the future will hold more challenges, but those are for tomorrow. Today is for remembering the heroes that have fallen and the ones they left behind. Peace be upon us all…

wtc from nj sunset

Review: Animated Movie “9”

Just finished watching “9”, the animated film by Shane Acker. I have to admit I was disappointed overall. The plot was slow to develop, and then the ending left me feeling as though the whole thing was an exercise in futility.

The general premise (spoiler alert) is really just Skynet with rag dolls and not-actually-Nazis-but-clearly-Nazis. The idealistic scientist creates an artificial brain, and is then shocked when the government wants to use it for war instead of just building cool toys. The artificial brain eventually realizes that the world would be a lot better without humans, and thus turns it’s enormous war arsenal against humans and kills us all. Fortunately for us, the scientist created 9 little rag dolls and gave each of them a part of his soul. When the rag dolls use the soul talisman to defeat the artificial brain, then… Well, fuck if I know. We end the movie with the soul pieces from the five dead rag dolls ascending into the clouds and causing it to rain, while the remaining four rag dolls say “this world is ours now.”

Umm, did I miss something? What the hell was the point of this? Apparently there’s no humans left, and we’ve got four rag dolls that as far as anyone can tell have no way to reproduce that have inherited the war ravaged, corpse littered world.

Yeah, sorry, just doesn’t really connect with me as an audience member. At least in the Terminator movies you’re always left with the impression that if the humans can finally defeat Skyney, we can repopulate the world. When our rag doll proxy saviors accomplish the final victory it seems enormously empty and fruitless.

Some Thoughts on Health Care

A rather long comment I made to a converstation on Facebook. Thought I would share it (and archive it)… (Sorry for the missing context, but I think the comment stands on it’s own well enough and I don’t want to copy the other commenters in the thread without their permission.)

@Lauren: Yes, there’s no difference between abortion and inadequate health care… That’s exactly the type of well reasoned debating that will help us all get through this.

@Rich: Let’s be clear here – no one views the military budget and health care as a zero sum game. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the nation will sacrifice military funding to fund health care. While it makes a great emotional punch, it adds nothing to the rational debate.

While it’s certainly educational to see what other nations have achieved in their health care systems, it’s folly to assume that because they achieve “statistic X for cost Y” that we can do the same. “Health” is a complex subject and for any given facet could be influenced by cultural, diet, lifestyle, genetics, climate, or a dozen other issues. Ultimately the solution is not to transplant a system from somewhere else but to find a system that will work in the US. Given the size of the US and variety of cultures, climate, & demographics within our borders it is even harder to envision a national system that will be “one size fits all”.

Indeed, a big part of what prevents market competition from keeping prices in check is the fact that ever state currently has their own regulations for health care tailored to their situation. This creates huge barriers to entry that prevent easy implementation of a market-based scheme for health care.

Regarding the “fatcats”, it’s educational to see that non-profit insurance companies and HMOs (yes, they exist) have no had significantly better results in cost control than the for-profit “fatcats”.

@Jacob: First, as I stated above, my point was that after you federalize the $2 trillion health care industry, it will definitely be more than defense. Even with the additional numbers from the war funding, that still holds true.

The reason I stated it was “debatable” was specifically what you quoted. Personally, I expect a nation to spend more on the military than on healthcare during a time of war. Arguments over whether this war is right or wrong on whether we should be spending this type of money to fight terrorism are irrelevant in this context. As I said above, no one considers military and health care to be a zero sum game. No one in the government is saying “let’s stop building tanks so we can buy some more MRI machines”. This is a wonderfully effective emotional argument, but a completely irrelevant one.

@Clint: I agree with you on the issues, although I tend to prefer market-based approaches when they’re likely to work.

People seem to assume that if I disagree with them personally I’m defending the status quo. Please understand that I think things need to change too. But I think the best way to do that is to make considered logical changes, not get swept up into an emotional storm and dash off in the first direction that will make us feel better. (And don’t kid yourselves, if you’re bringing up the cost of the military in the context of health care, you’re an emotion-monger. No offense.)