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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Molecular Friendship

How about playing with a little analogy ?
Once upon a time, there were three friends, Meggy, Shelly, and Debbie (all English speaking in France).
Debbie and Shelly were (not close) friends, who met as mommy friends, through their childrens' activities.
Shelly knew Meggy from elsewhere, and Debbie knew Meggy from elsewhere, too.
Meggy and Shelly went on walks together (with the dog) and went to church together sometimes, too. They watched football matches together (European football for the clueless...) and passionately rooted for their home teams. They had other common friends that Debbie didn't know, and some that she did know.
Debbie and Meggy went on long walks together too, with the dog, and had passionate discussions about THINGS over tea, sometimes sitting together quietly and reading, each in her own corner, not speaking for several minutes.
Sometimes Debbie and Meggy and Shelly all got together for tea and a chat and/or a walk (with the dog, of course).
And sometimes, Debbie, Meggy, and Shelly got all of their families together for a film night, potluck dinner together (with DVD's. FREE, you know...).
When Meggy moved out of town, Debbie and Shelly kind of stopped seeing each other.
Things weren't the same.
How about a H2O analogy ?
Meggy was the oxygen atom, Debbie and Shelly were two hydrogen atoms.
While Meggy was there, the whole thing stuck together, but when Meggy cut it and ran, POOF went the relationship between Shelly and Debbie...

On second thought... WHO was the oxygen atom... Meggy or... THE DOG ??

By the way, I'm PROUD of our blog. I think that it's really varied, and that we don't come across as monomaniac nerds. Right ?


Debra said...

So, Thai... the fifty million dollar question is :
are you an oxygen atom ?

Thai said...

Does it matter?

I love you both however- British constable that I am and all. ;-)

I am working a lot lately however so I have been silent (sorry) and I realize this.

... And I may be getting boat soon! (I'll let you know). There are those around here that say the is no life west of the Chesapeake Bay and I kind of understand what they mean. It is truly amazing. Annapolis is amazing as well- though I am biased as I already told you for I from a Navy family and my grandparents are buried in The Naval Academy Cemetery.

... Dink, for the sci-fi part of you, the Chesapeake Bay was created by a meteor.

I do hope to get some free time to blog soon.

Debra said...

Beautiful pictures, Thai.
The East Coast is really home for me, even if I no longer have any family there.
My roots are there, you know ?
But when I go back to the States, I stop off for a quiet visit and chat with my parents, under their linden tree, in the military cemetary in Santa Fe.
It is beautiful, there. I'm so lucky that they are there, you know...

Debra said...

I am bringing up an argument from your health care debate, Thai.
Re : health insurance, health coverage being primarily to help people live longer, vs... relieving the anxiety of people with no coverage.
You are a smart cookie, Thai.
So... I'm going to ask you... how responsible could that vague anxiety about no insurance be in major and minor illnesses plaguing the population ?
Sigmund was really canny about how much anxiety costs : the individual, and as a result, the collectivity.
Now, of course, you are not going to be able to chart, or MEASURE that correlation.
You are basically gonna have to take it... on FAITH.
But I think that you had better take it on faith.
For the collectivity's sake.

Debra said...

That means totally revamping "modern" medicine, and re-educating the public.
Preferably NOT by massive propaganda, however...
In order for us to significantly reduce costs, we are going to have to significantly reduce... specialization.
Because specialization fosters unglobal medical care, care that see the person as bits and pieces of a machine, and not as a coordinated and cooperative unity.
And this vision is a very very costly one. Costly for the human soul/psyche. Costly for our pocketbooks, too.

Dink said...

"British constable that I am and all. ;-)"

Very cool. I will be the So Cal beach bum archetype by calling you both "Dude" and offering shoulder punches as my display of affection ;)

"working a lot lately however so I have been silent"

Understood; I'm getting my ass kicked too this week. C'est la vie.


Really idyll scenery. Maritime Hobbiton.

The meteor impact had more energy than the Earth receives from the Sun on a given day per that link! And it was much bigger than Tunguska! Practically a Chicxulub. Sweet!

.....We really need to colonize some other planets tout suite.

"In order for us to significantly reduce costs, we are going to have to significantly reduce... specialization."

Or we could reduce destructive lifestyle options. The collective shouldn't have to fix what the individual could simply avoid.

So I sign off with a link that popped out of my memory recently for some reason: Cheers!

Thai said...

And re: "how responsible could that vague anxiety about no insurance be in major and minor illnesses plaguing the population ?"

My response: zero sum

I completely agree with this- it is one side of the coin.

The corollary is "what is the effect on illness in taking that anxiety away"?

I would suggest that it is just as great if not greater. Anxiety may lead to all kinds of illness but it
is also a powerful motivator for change. Complacency on the other hand is a powerful magnet to maintain the status quo.

And maintaining the status quo can have its problems as well.

It goes both ways.

Debra said...

Agreed, Thai.
I didn't necessarily mean that it was the GOVERNMENT that should foot the bill for taking away that anxiety, nor that health insurance was the ONLY way to get rid of that anxiety, either.
I'm waiting for the medical bubble to burst, Thai.
And it will. It will...

Thai said...

I just read this and it kind of reminded me of the discussion we had about the different associations American and European have with the word "welfare".

Think about France providing welfare to Portugal! Like West Virginia giving it to... there is no comparison. Watts in DC?

And I never thought of Germany as being similar to Arkansas and poorer than Kentucky (I tend to think of Kentucky as rather poor).

One thing is clear, it is good to live in DC!

PS- I am getting closer to my dream of being a captain- this is the model though mine would be white and 4 years old.

I suspect Sasha is going to love it. Yet more large mechanized noisy machines she can chase all the while swimming in the water (one of her loves).

The boys are going to water-ski.

Be well

Thai said...

She is VERY fashion conscious so I am not sure if she will wear this.

Dink said...

"I am getting closer to my dream of being a captain- this is the model though mine would be white and 4 years old."

Very cool! It looks sleek and fast. Which is why I foresee a mutiny, Captain. There is only so much temptation that kids (and a very self-assured canine) can endure before giving in to treachery.

"I'm waiting for the medical bubble to burst"

Because medical care tends to be (perceived as) paid by some faceless entity (Medicare, private health insurance companies), people have been willing to use it without caring about cost. Which of course has resulted in a bubble.

But unchecked growth has its benefits (recall my euphoria over New Year's that somehow all the eco destruction and overpopulation had a purpose). It incented (a word?) some great research and new technologies. Although grateful for the advances so far, I want more. Which is why this is one bubble I'm really worried about popping.

But then again, there's always a secondary reason for medical reasearchers to continue even without big cash prizes: they want to avoid death too. The carrot and the stick ;)

Debra said...

Re living standards in the U.S. and in the States.
I'm going to lob the ball back into your court, Thai.
In France, for example... health insurance is massively paid for by your employer; you contribute, but not in the same way your employer does.
If you go to Polytechnique, the equivalent of Harvard or Princeton, the state pays YOU a salary, there is no tuition.
Good child care, that you can put your kid in starting at three weeks, if you have to.
Add all that up, Thai, and then look at the other, American side.
That American number comes without all them thar fancy frills and benefits.
And when you finish paying for them, just what magic NET number comes up for you ON YOUR SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC ?
My mother thought I was living in a third world country because I didn't have a dryer twenty years ago.
I get my vegetables fresh twice a week, etc etc, I had 100% reimbursed prenatal care, and 100% paid for care for my children for their first year too.
Let's talk about welfare again...
I'm still laughing, you guys...

Thai said...

But Deb, this is not a good argument and I would say you have bought into the nationalism argument in a back door way. I have heard this argument all my life and it still belittles common sense. We can do all this in the US with our $ if we want.

We have wonderful organic markets, etc..., we can purchase more or more/better prenatal care (I think many would argue we spend too much in the US on this) or better schools or etc...

Where you could point out this per capita income data is misleading is 1. purchasing power parity is notoriously misleading and 2. America pays 16% of its GDP on health care while France spends 11%.
If you believe the two national health plans are equivalent (you might say ours is worse or better depending on whose viewpoint you want to look at it from), you are saving 5% GDP which makes the French actually wealthier than they appear. Same with other countries that spend smaller % of GDP.

But we too can use our resources for education, health care, welfare, etc... just as you do and if we spend the same as you, we are left with $ when it is all said and done.

I think it is just as fair to ask the reverse question: Are YOU getting good value vs. America for all you spend?

Thai said...

I would say French/European desires to run these types of programs through a central entity are far more a reflection of European values centering around nationalism and monoculture.

You have a ministry whose sole purpose is to maintain cultural traditions/continuity, etc... And while I would say there are elements of America that would like to do the same, the basic problem they encounter in the US is "according to whose viewpoint/template"?

Debra said...

My point is that yes, Thai, our health care STILL is better than American health care, pretty much regardless of whatever angle you look at it from, and we still are paying a hell of a lot less for it than you are, overall.
I remember going back to the States when the telephone monopoly had collapsed quite some time ago. It was hell on earth.
There are just some areas where monopoly keeps your infrastructures healthy, viable, and running.
YOU are the one, Thai, to teach me about the fact that when things keep getting more and more complicated they end up collapsing. This is what I see happening with the privatization game.
Now, France is a lot smaller territory than the U.S., so what is viable here probably just ISN'T viable in the States. Size does matter in this instance.
As far as for buying into the nationalism argument, Thai I will say...
That this is a situational problem again.
Your data was presented in a nationalistic manner, with underlying rivalry between Europe and the U.S.
And.. I mindlessly responded in kind. :-)

Dink said...

France v. USA

Both countries have characteristics to admire and scorn. But it is a puzzle, no?

Are there less drug addicts in the EU, and if so, why? (same for alcohol, crime, general personality disorders)

If the US weren't so obsessively spending resources on military/intelligence would other nations have to spend more and therefore not be able to afford their social programs? (arguable same for tech innovation; if we didn't have the profit driver would other countries have been as far along?)

So in summation:
1) We aren't isolated from eachother so our unsustainable habits could be benefitting other countries (making them appear sustainable when in truth they are not).

2) Something in a nation's culture may create psychological, uh, issues for some of its members. Freedom to someone with self-destructive tendencies is adding fuel to a fire. That same individual may have been better off under a more rigid social structure. Hmmmm....different levels of freedom for different citizens. Also problematic to say the least.

Thai said...

Deb and Dink, I apologize for I should have been more precise with my choice of words and links. The Perry Purchasing Power Parity data I passed on with that link was does have an underlying aspect of US-European rivalry.

Yet this was not the aspect of that link I was focused on when I shared the link with you. I was not trying to compare the U.S. vs. Europe/France/Germany in a in a competitive, negative-positive way... Though it is true that I was shocked to see how the numbers matched up and it is also true that I often am competitive.

My bad.

Rather I meant to show how the data reinforced our prior conversation on national differences, and how the mental associations Americans and Europeans make with words like "welfare" are very different. And why it might be hard for many Europeans AND Americans who think with a similar nationalistic mindset, to accept how a monoculture solutions may be harder for Americans to accept.

... Or how we could but only of we eliminate some of the diversity in America, etc... so that a monoculture approach can be achieved.

Yet I do not mean to imply I agree with this link's implicit conclusion that America is superior to Europe, far from it.

We are just different.

And yet re: The French Health Care System

I am sure it is fabulous- your data from some completely legitimate viewpoints is the best in the world. I am also not sure I want that system here.

I agree with you Dink on all points

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
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  • Time Bandits