Thursday, November 28, 2013

Single Payer Healthcare Please!

UPDATE (02/02/2015): What It's Like When You're an American Using Britain's NHS 

UPDATE (11/19/2014): Canadian woman hit with $950K medical bill after unexpectedly giving birth in US hospital

UPDATE (6/21/2014): US Doctors migrating north to escape dysfunctional US health insurance system. pnhp.org/news/2014/june/us-doctors-migrating-north


UPDATE (05/16/2014): Canadians love their system, contrary to  US health insurance lobby propaganda: pnhp.org/news/2014/march/doctor-who-schooled-us-senator-thrilled-by-canadian-support


UPDATE (12/31/2013):  Outrageous costs of U.S. healthcare: viralnova.com/hospital-bill/


UPDATE (10/31/2013): LISTEN TO REASON! The following two links both let you listen in on an intelligent conversation between host David Feldman and Dr. Paul Song and Dr. Nancy Niparko from Physicians for a National Health Program. They explain why America needs a single payer healthcare system right now. The first link is the most important five (5) minutes of the show. The second is the entire show.

Link #1 (4:48 mins): youtu.be/tcmfgR25VnQ
Link #2 (90 mins): davidfeldmanshow.com/obamacare-isnt-enough/


UPDATE (10/3/2013)  Another release of damning statistics which prove the U.S. system of healthcare is extremely dysfunctional: huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/health-care-costs




[Note: first published at Hubpages.com on 06/21/12; the comments immediately following were copied from that location for reference. Please comment here on blogspot.com.
Updates to this post will continue to appear above this line]

Single Payer Government Run Healthcare Q&A: Some interesting questions arose when I asked my Facebook friends if they were as ready for a single payer system as I am. I decided to answer them here, on my blog, so a potentially wider readership could chime in, too...


Disease-care, or Healthcare?


Have you checked your blood pressure today? I did.
Have you checked your
blood pressure today? I did.
Source: © cienpies.net
The following statistic speaks volumes:
"52 percent of doctors would get out of medicine if they could. So many young doctors are recognizing how broken the system is..."  -from Escape Fire, a new healthcare documentary; read the interview with the maker here.

Do Canadians come here for important health care needs (in statistically meaningful numbers)?



Are Canadian doctors leaving Canada to practice in the United States (in statistically meaningful numbers)?



Review: Battlestar Galactica

Why My Opinion Might Matter To You


Glen A. Larson and Ronald D. Moore’s 2004-2009 version of Battlestar Galactica was the best science fiction I've encountered on screen so far.

If you knew how important science fiction is to me, and how much of it I've watched in search of that elusive perfect combination of “science” and “fiction”, you would be more impressed by that statement than I imagine you to be. Believability is the most important factor in my critical judgment of the quality of science fiction, especially that which is made for the screen. Whether the screen belongs to a movie theater, my television, or my gaming device, I can only grant a fully attentive glance to a story which grabs my mind and my heart from its first few frames, and leaves me wanting more when the credits roll. If at any point in the storytelling I am distracted by inferior sound, music, visuals, acting, plot, or pacing, then what began as a fully attentive glance degrades into less and less until some mental rubicon is crossed, and I leave that story behind, never to have a positive thought of it again.

Battlestar Galactica in its original form was what my pre-teen and teenage self considered really lame sci-fi. But since in the late 1970s and early ‘80s there was so much less science fiction in the screen canon available, it was a TV show that I did watch, but only very seldom. Enough to recognize the references to it appreciatively on the first Universal Studios tram tours I was fortunate to experience as a young sci-fi devotee. Enough also to recognize that Glen Larson was capitalizing on Star Wars fandom by creating Battlestar Galactica in 1978, and to appreciate his faithfulness to fans of that early version of it (bringing Richard Hatch into the new series, for example). Unfortunately, those early bad impressions of the Battlestar Galactica story kept me away from it when it reappeared in the Syfy Network’s new version. As a fan of the NBC sitcom The Office, I even let that fictional world inform my opinion of it, as the show’s characters mocked Dwight Schrute's geeky fanboy love of it. So when I finally decided to try it out when it appeared on Netflix’s instant viewing list, you can see why I approached it with very low expectations.

It turns out, Dwight was right!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Category Errors?

[This is a reconstruction of a discussion which began on the morning of October 31, 2013, on the Facebook link-sharing platform. All spelling/grammar errors are from the original; we are strictly cut-and-pasting here, with a bit of font adjusting. I reconstruct it here so that I may involve more voices in that discussion, because I'm curious where it may lead...]

Tom Doud via Word On Fire Catholic Ministries
October 31 at 10:12am [shared only with Tom's Friends--hence my efforts here]

Great line from article '
"This is why the new atheists and their army of disciples are committing a category mistake when they confidently assert that scientific advances cause religion to retreat onto ever-shrinking intellectual turf or when they stridently challenge religious people to produce "evidence" for God."
Happy Hallows Eve



  • Jim Miles The next sentence after that quoted by Tom is the one which explains the real problem in the attempt at understanding between atheists and theists: 'No amount of scientific progress can even in principle pose a threat to authentic religion, and no amount of experimental evidence can tell for or against the true God.' This seems to confirm that theists (of the Catholic persuasion, at least) have given up trying to speak to atheists' demand for evidential proof of God's existence. 

    The article assumes, of course, that the Catholic (specifically Acquinas') view of God is unarguably the only correct view, among all possible religions. It's humorous to me that one tiny slice of the pie which we could name "all possible definitions of divinity" can be so self-evidently the 'only correct' view, such that it supposedly makes atheists silly and deluded, and those holding the view from that particular slice the only ones who grasp ultimate truth. One should remember that one man (Acquinas') opinions on God, no matter how many people later agreed with him, remain just that: one man's view of God. He is not God, neither is he evidence of God.

    The author constantly asserts that behind him stands the authority of some large group of 'serious' theists from some group of 'great' religious traditions. As if that's evidence, which of course it isn't. It's only evidence that what atheists assert about agency detection and confirmation bias still operate in the species to create the phenomena of faith and religion.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Economics As Religion


Economics As Religion
Curious people who peer behind the scenes of the bureaucratic battles 
for control of the direction of our well-worn social institutions do so at the risk 
of losing their ability to easily place their trust in their economic and religious 
thought-leaders. Comfortable certainty may be replaced by the never ending 
quest to form one's own informed conclusions 
about what is best for themselves, and for their world.

Economics = Religion

If we allow the term "religion" to stand for rituals and doctrines binding faithful believers into distinct groups, we can see important similarities between economic theory and religions such as Christianity. These two ancient social organizing principles- religion and economics- are not often compared. In the United States, an intersection of the two is emerging in a third ancient institution: politics.

Before politics enters this discussion, it must be understood that there is little difference in practice between religious systems of belief and economic systems. What are sometimes labeled Schools of Economic Thought function more like religious institutions than academic ones. Economics is a religion, and that is not a terribly controversial idea, or a particularly new one. Both religion and economics train high priesthoods who master bodies of fairly obscure doctrine which go largely unquestioned by their loyal followers. These masses of trusting followers are mostly immune to the constant in-fighting between their beloved guides, settling instead for the over-simplified generic party platforms and creeds that comfort them in their quest for certainty in uncertain times.

Students who peer behind the scenes of the bureaucratic battles for control of the direction of these well-worn social institutions do so at the risk of losing their ability to easily place their trust in their economic and religious thought-leaders. Comfortable certainty may be replaced by the never ending quest to form one's own informed conclusions about what is best for themselves, and for their world.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Power Junkie Nation

Power 
is a lot like a drug. 
We all have a deep-seated need
to control our lives, to achieve goals,
to accomplish and succeed; that is a healthy
and normal human need. But needs can be corrupted
into unhealthy obsessions. When the power need corrupts
a man, it corrupts absolutely, and overrides his common sense
and morality, just like drugs and alcohol can do. It maximizes his selfishness.


It's like a drug. There’s a rush. A feeling of euphoria.

Power intoxicates. When a man cherishes the rush of adrenaline from the exercise of power, and fancies himself to be powerful, instead of distrusting his own deceptive nature, he succumbs to this ancient addiction. He is drunk with power. A power junkie is born.

And the world takes note of him, begins to size him up, judge him, evaluate his threat level.

Power is a lot like a drug. We all have a deep-seated need to control our lives, to achieve goals, to accomplish and succeed; that is a healthy and normal human need. But needs can be corrupted into unhealthy obsessions. When the power need corrupts a man, it corrupts absolutely, and overrides his common sense and morality, just like drugs and alcohol can do. It maximizes his selfishness.

And many in the world take notes from his success, applaud him, and then target him for destruction (competition, merger, acquisition). Their power addiction is threatened by his power addiction.

Once he's hooked on it (or maybe it's got him, like a fishhook in his brain), he’ll do anything to keep it and grow it, to protect his power-supply from those who would deprive him of it. Fortunately (as in good fortune, and Fortune 500) for him, wealth and power reinforce each other. Ever since bullion metal superseded all other measures of nationalistic greatness, power has attracted wealth like iron to a magnet. And conversely, power and influence are for sale to the highest bidder. So with wealth comes power. With power, comes wealth.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Logic Demands Change My Mind



Change is Hard


"What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and then is confronted with new information suggesting that that view is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn? The painful effort required seems frightening, almost overwhelming. What we do more often than not, and usually unconsciously, is ignore the new information.
 "Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive. We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous, heretical, the work of the devil. We may actually crusade against it, and even attempt to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality. Rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to destroy the new reality. Sadly, such a person may expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place."
-Dr. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 46
Whatever one believes about how the human mind came to be what it is today-- whether designed by a creator or evolved by selection or some other explanation-- there is a fact about how the mind works which has become very powerful to me lately: Logic is important to the human mind. Maybe that's a no-brainer (pun intended) to many readers. When I was young, I found logical thinking came naturally to me, and yet I possessed many interests in the creative arts, far outside the disciplines of logic. I think I too quickly took logic as a given, and failed to give it any further attention. Perhaps bored with the work required to become proficient in thinking logically, I found refuge in artistic endeavors like music, fiction writing, and humor, where one is allowed and even encouraged to be illogical. But now, in my late 40's, I am returning to the logic of my youth.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 4

I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; Lesson #2; Lesson #3; This Lesson



Jim Miles teaching a World History class at
Armona Union Academy, Armona, California.
Aug. 29, 2007.
#4 "The Bible is Inspired History" (which brings along corollaries like "The Bible is an Inspired answer to Big Philosophical Questions" and "The Bible's Inspired Prophecies of the Future tell us Where We're Headed" and "The Bible's Inspired Gospel Story is the Only True Way to Avoid Missing Out on an Eternal Life of Bliss")

Nope. Mr. Miles, your old Bible Teacher, is here to tell you: that ancient book we tried to make seem so relevant, up-to-date, and modern is in fact just SO FULL OF OBVIOUS CLUES that it is NOT INSPIRED, well... I'm honestly ashamed to think of how many of you I convinced otherwise. I'm not going to repeat here what others have already shown about the basic reasons to know that the Bible is not inspired or worthy of your attention. (Those others to whom I would direct you include John W. Loftus and his first, second, and third books on this topic, and the website of author Steve Wells, the Skeptic's Annotated Bible).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 3

I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; Lesson #2; This Lesson; Lesson #4

Jim Miles caught in the act of teaching a history
 class at Armona Union Academy, Armona,
California. "Even Einstein Asked Questions"
says the poster behind me. Yyyyep. 
#3 "Faith is a virtue."

Nope. Virus-like phenomenon corrupting the logical and critical reasoning faculties of believers, maybe. But not a virtue.

Faith is what Peter Boghossian calls it: 'belief without evidence,' and 'pretending to know things that you don't know'.

I wouldn't deny that we want to believe in something. The universality of religion demonstrates the pervasiveness of the human craving to put our trust in something. (Speaking of Professor Bohgossian, please read his book, which I would adopt as my only required textbook if I was still teaching, A Manual for Creating Atheists).

Now I would teach people to believe in themselves. It sounds trite, and I hate Pinterest-y sayings, but hear me out. When you trust God to guide your life, you might as well be trusting a jug of milk to be guiding your life. When you pray to God, expecting those silly answer-choices, "Yes, No, or Wait," you would actually get the same results if you were to pray to a milk jug. Stop wasting your mental and emotional energy on childish fantasies.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 2

I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; This Lesson; Lesson #3; Lesson #4



One of those awkward yearbook photos
of the teaching staff. This was during
my many years as Bible teacher of
grades 9-12 at Armona Union
Academy, Armona, California.
#2. The next biggest idea I taught was: "Everything was created by God."

And by the way, I was a self-described hard-core 'young earth creationist' (YEC!), determined to believe that six thousand years is all there was to the history of all life on earth; that is, I took the first ten chapters of the book of Genesis as literally as any fundamentalist Christian, just like most of my academic colleagues in the SDA church, and the rank-and-file members in the pews.

The way I'd teach that now is: Bullshit. (Sorry, but no other word quite captures it). The biggest problem I have with this, besides the mountain-chains-worth of evidence backing the current scientific explanations for Big Bang cosmology, evolutionary biology, and the corresponding lack of any evidence of intelligent design or biblical inspiration (yeah, besides all that, and that pretty much sums it, doesn't it?) is that Christians insist that since something (everything, even) exists, then it must have been created by something else. That's just the illogical, fallacious delusion-warped creationism leaking into their philosophical reasoning. I can certainly conceive of two additional possibilities, neither of which keep me up at night. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 1

I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
This Lesson; Lesson #2; Lesson #3; Lesson #4

Jim Miles teaching SDA Bible class at FAA
One of the last pictures taken of me as a
Seventh-day Adventist Bible teacher.
 Here, I taught 6th-8th grades at
Fresno Adventist Academy
during the 2010-2011 school year.

#1. The biggest idea I used to teach was: "God exists."

The way I'd have to teach that now is: Bullshit. It's a popular-- strike that-- very popular delusion, but popularity doesn't make bullshit into not-bullshit.

Ironically, that is one of the main tenets of Seventh-day Adventism (without the 'bullshit' word). The whole SDA message is focused on a kind of global conspiracy theory, in which Satan has managed to delude the whole religious and non-religious world into a massive deception. The SDA "great controversy" conspiracy theory culminates in a showdown supposedly predicted in the book of Revelation (I'll get to that later).

But to swallow all the rest of the SDA delusion, one has to begin by swallowing the appetizer-- namely, the doctrine that every other religion, even all the competing forms of Christianity, are counterfeits and tools in the hands of a wiley Devil, and only exactly one group of divinely appointed people have seen through it: Seventh-day Adventists. Once you choke that hard, crusty piece of poo down, all the rest of the bullshit goes down easy. Okay, enough with the shit metaphors. And back to the point.

God does not exist. If he did exist, and was the powerful, benevolent, forward-thinking being he's made out to be as the star of the SDA story about him, he could never be dismissed for lack of evidence as easily as he has been. Why would God hide?