A Letter to My Conservative Friends, or Preexisting Conditions

4 05 2017

My conservative friends, is this really what you want? Is this what you voted for? At least 24 million people will lose their health insurance if this bill passes the Senate. Many more will likely find themselves facing exorbitant premiums due to preexisting conditions. The high risk pools that are supposed to take care of that won’t work. They’ve been tried before in many places and they have failed, and the money that is allocated in the AHCA to prop them up is woefully inadequate. What’s more, it’s not even allocated specifically for high risk pool support. This is not speculation. High risk pools have been tried and have failed. It simply is not possible to offer insurance specifically to people you already know are sick without any healthy people paying in to offset the cost.

During this debate, multiple Republican representatives made statements that indicate that they simply do not understand how insurance works. Paul Ryan and Steve King both said that it’s not right for healthy people to have to pay for sick people. That is precisely how insurance is supposed to work. If you object to that, you object to insurance, period. That’s the very definition of the thing.

It’s been a few years since the ACA did away with the preexisting conditions shenanigans insurance companies loved to pull, so some of you may have forgotten what it was like – the people who need health care the most simply could not get it without risking bankruptcy. The profit motive meant that insurance companies got to choose who to insure, and they damn sure weren’t going to risk the bottom line by taking care of sick people. That would be crazy. By the way, did you see the Consumer Reports article about personal bankruptcies dropping by 50% since the ACA took effect?

Here’s the thing – I have a preexisting condition. My wife has a preexisting condition. My daughter has a preexisting condition. I think it’s pretty likely that if you yourself do not have a preexisting condition, someone very close to you does. Someone you love is seriously jeopardized by this bill. Beyond that, if by some tremendous good fortune absolutely no one you care about stands to suffer, millions of people you don’t know will. Millions. Millions of people who gained some measure of stability and confidence because they had insurance will lose it. Can you imagine how that would feel?

This is literally life and death we’re talking about. In many cases, it is the life and death of children. When we had to rush our daughter to the emergency room at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for the second time last year due to breathing problems, I looked around at the families gathered in the waiting room. All of them were there because someone dear to them was suffering. All of them seemed to feel just like I did, battered and wrung dry by fear, stuck in an awful limbo, waiting, powerless to offer real succor to someone they would give their lives for. Thankfully, they would be seen sooner or later. Doctors and nurses would do everything they could to help – it was just a matter of time. How many of them wouldn’t have been there but for the ACA? How many of them would still choose to go without it, knowing that doing so would very likely annihilate any savings they’d scraped together (if they were lucky enough to have savings at all) and risk hurling them into insolvency and potential bankruptcy? They may not have all had insurance, but it’s likely that some of them did only because of the ACA. They were going through the hell of a seriously ill child, and in the world of the AHCA, they’d be doing it with all of the extra weight of looming financial collapse to boot.

Is this what you wanted? Are you happy with this? Will your life be made so much better by this as to warrant the degree to which other lives, including lives of people you know, people you care about, will be made worse? I have never understood the horrible suffering people seem to believe the ACA caused, but I have damn sure seen the suffering it eased. If that’s a fair trade in your mind, I simply cannot understand.

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Hey Evangelical Christians, or On Antichrist(s)

10 03 2017

Hey evangelical Christians! I have some things I want to run by you. I’m a Jew, and I haven’t read the Christian bible cover to cover, so there may be gaps in my understanding, but I get the broad strokes, and I’ve done a decent amount of reading about specific concepts. What I’m offering here is an outsider’s take on things. Very often, outsider interpretations can be off the mark and even just plain wrong, but they can also be insightful and helpful by offering a fresh perspective. I’m aiming for the second one.

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This Mess We’re In, or From Russia With Malice

6 03 2017

There are many disturbing features of the potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but maybe the most disturbing to me is that, with some exceptions, it seems to be playing out very nearly exactly as the Russians could have hoped.

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Putting it Out There, or An Attempt at Common Ground on Guns

5 01 2017

This morning, I finished reading an article by Lisa Miller in New York Magazine, an account of a project that brought together people from the extremes of the gun control v. gun rights debate (a woman who watched her daughter be shot to death in a mass shooting and the man that facilitated the auctioning of the gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin, for example). People were paired up with an ideological opposite, and they told each other their stories. Then, in an attempt at “radical empathy,” each person presented their partner’s story to the rest of the group as though it was their own. Instead of “She saw her daughter shot,” it would be “I saw my daughter shot.” Instead of “She was being stalked,” it was “I was being stalked.” It’s an interesting experiment and a worthwhile read, and it got me thinking about my position on the issue – thinking about the places where both sides have common ground that is often ignored, or at least doesn’t get explored in earnest. I’m going to approach this from my side of the argument, of course, but I’m also going to try to acknowledge and explore opposing viewpoints to the best of my ability.

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Black Lives Matter, or My Fellow Whitemericans

4 10 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about Black Lives Matter over the past couple of months, because I am alive and have at least two functioning brain cells to rub together. It’s kind of unavoidable. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve wanted to write something, but I kept thinking that as a white person, I’m an outsider, and there’s just not much I can add to the discussion. Still, my brain kept rumbling around the issue, framing it and reframing it, and I finally realized that there is something I can add, albeit not something particularly unique. As a white person, I can hopefully speak to other white people who are struggling with recent events, as well as those who have a negative view of the activists and issues of the movement. So I’m going to try to do that here.

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No Good Choices for Kyrat, or Video Games and Real Conflict

4 01 2016

The 2016 campaign for President of the United States has been underway for a little while now, with most of the media’s focus squarely on Donald Trump, that master of ridiculous, attention-grabbing statements. He’s set the tone, but I don’t know how different things would be if he weren’t involved. Ted Cruz was in the race before Trump was, and while Trump might have made rash, ill-considered statements the order of the day, Cruz’s gleeful embrace of that style isn’t at all out of character.

Perhaps the best example of Cruz’s use of Trump’s blustery, substance-free style is his recent tweet, “Our strategy with radical Islamic terrorism should be very simple. We win. They lose.” I was going to give him some slack – it’s Twitter, after all – hard to be substantial in 140 characters. Of course, the tweet is accompanied by video of him saying the exact same thing in a press conference. Presumably he wasn’t tailoring his in-person answer to the character count.

It’s also a nod to a similar line from President Ronald Reagan that Cruz seems to love – he tweeted it in that form back in November. Thing is, no matter how revered (reasonably or unreasonably, accurately or by hagiography) Ronald Reagan is among conservatives, the fact that The Gipper said something doesn’t make it magically deep or wise, and as a “strategy,” “We win, they lose” isn’t just lacking, it’s profoundly stupid. It’s meaningless. As someone (I regrettably can’t remember who) said on Twitter, it’s amazing that consistently half of all NFL teams fail to employ this remarkably simple “strategy,” this “one weird trick,” every single week.

I don’t know if Senator Cruz plays video games, but his visionary “beat them” plan for beating ISIS sounds a lot like the plot to a run of the mill modern military shooter, and he’s far from alone in that regard. We have the biggest and best guns, so we’ll just win. It’s as simple as that. Recent memory shows it’s definitely not as simple as that, but apparently that doesn’t matter. If we fail, we can just try again, over and over and over until we get it right.

So what does this have to do with Far Cry 4?

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These are Dangerous Days, or How to Fight the Fire This Time

8 12 2015

Some long time ago, back in my first, fresh out of high school attempt at college, I had an idea – an idea I dearly loved, but knew would be received very poorly by a lot of people – 32 Short Films About Adolf Hitler (an obvious nod to 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, and probably more directly to The Simpsons episode “22 Short Films About Springfield”). Short films about Hitler aren’t in themselves objectionable, but here’s the kicker – they were all to be slapstick and absurdist comedy.

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