Archive for June, 2009

WoD – Healthcare, Part I

I have focused a lot of my time these past years on healthcare.  (After all these years, it has probably added up to more questions than answers on what might be the right policy, structure, payment system, or approach to healthcare.)  Regardless of my own schizophrenia on these issues, healthcare, rightly, is taking center stage in our country’s national conversation and policy-making.

Given this, I have been meaning to do a few healthcare-related WoD’s, to get you thinking just a bit more about the problems our healthcare system faces.  I figure we should all, if not participate then at the very least, listen along with an informed mind.  Then I got forwarded an absolutely great article I just read in the New Yorker.  It describes the issues, inherent problems, and hints at solutions far better than I ever could (and with data, to boot.)

So if you have an interest in our national healthcare conversation, please do read this.  It is a great starting-point (and perhaps even end-point), and describes the critical issues we face, possible root causes, and then the very likely real cause (as well as some example successful models).  Here’s a great quote from the article, for those that want the extreme Cliff Notes version on what is wrong with our healthcare system:

“Providing health care is like building a house. The task requires experts, expensive equipment and materials, and a huge amount of coordination. Imagine that, instead of paying a contractor to pull a team together and keep them on track, you paid an electrician for every outlet he recommends, a plumber for every faucet, and a carpenter for every cabinet. Would you be surprised if you got a house with a thousand outlets, faucets, and cabinets, at three times the cost you expected, and the whole thing fell apart a couple of years later? Getting the country’s best electrician on the job (he trained at Harvard, somebody tells you) isn’t going to solve this problem. Nor will changing the person who writes him the check.”

Fantastic analogy.  Perhaps there will be more WoD’s on healthcare, but for now, here is where you can find this great article.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

Monday:

YOLD (YOHLD)

A harmless fool; a dolt

That yolt will never be president of the company.   [Unless, that is, he marries the boss’s daughter…]

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WoD – The King of Pop

The Beatles.  Elvis.  Michael Jackson.

We all know Michael Jackson was arguably the biggest music icon ever.  At least up there with these other two.  But, what exactly was it about him that made him so famous, so unique, so unbelievably popular?  What made him the icon that he was?

I’ll list a few to get you thinking about it, but I have no clear answer myself.

–  Was his sound just so unique throughout the past ~25 years?

–  Could it be the fact that he combined music with dancing, and in essence was a really great all-around entertainer?

–  Was it his oddities and really bizarre actions/activity that drew us all to him?  (But remember, he was super popular, like only the Beatles before him, already way back when Thriller came out, and he hadn’t developed (or revealed) much of his quirkiness.)

–  Was it MTV that made him?

–  Could it be that he appealed to a very wide range of music listeners – from teenagers all the way to 50 year-olds?

–  How about the fact that he was a global star, loved across cultures and geographies?

–  Was it the moonwalk?

It’s hard to say.  For all his crazy antics and really bizarre behaviors, for me, when I boil it all down, it comes down to this: his music.  Despite all his craziness (and I mean complete craziness), for ~20 years he managed to produce just great music.  I know that may sound simple, but at the core of all that he was, was some unbelievable pop music.

And I have a sneaky feeling his music may even become more popular, and certainly more hallowed, in his passing.


Friday:

BARIMER (bahRIHmehr)

A braggart

That barimer spent an hour telling us about his new Park Avenue apartment.

WoD – Gentle Ben

Ben Bernanke took over as Fed Chairman in February, 2006.  I happen to think he is doing a solid and quite good job through this mess, and I like him as a person (here is a very good and revealing speech he gave at BC Law School Commencement, if interested in him: http://www.businessinsider.com/dealing-with-uncertainty-in-your-career-2009-5. Worth a read).

I think the Fed’s willingness, albeit late, to do all sorts of things to reflate and increase the supply and velocity of money have been good.  Some were quite creative (i.e. beyond just putting the Fed Funds rate at 0.25%), and I think the Fed is in a decent position with the economy somewhat back on track to now slow their initiatives of buying treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, and begin to let the market set price again (price for interest rates).  At least I hope they ease off the pedal and take this less-heavy-handed approach.

But here is a question to think about.  For someone who literally is THE expert and THE student on the Great Depression, how did we end up so close to it repeating during his tenure in the first place?!  It is an amazing coincidence, isn’t it?

Yes, he inherited almost everything (lax regulations, crazy Wall St. money-making set-ups like CDO’s, the big bubble in housing, loose credit and buyouts gone wild, etc.)  But here’s a subtle point to remember – he did take over as long ago as Feb. 2006.  That’s three years ago now.  I know one man can’t stop (or start) something as big as this credit crunch and whole recession, but could he have done more in 2006 and 2007 to perhaps avert, or maybe shallow out, the hole we’re now in?  Should he and the Fed have been more prescient and attuned to the situation, back when they could have done more things to prevent or lessen it?

Again, I like him.  But perhaps he is somewhat to blame, after all…?

Thursday:

MEKHULE (m’KHOOLeh)

Ended unhappily, spoiled

Their marriage went mekhule after she had that affair.

WoD – Why social networks are like shampoo

WASH.  RINSE.  REPEAT.

A question on the progression and popularity of the biggie social networks for you.  (Once stated, this may seem obvious, but nobody seems to be talking about this element or putting it in this context.)

So, we all can sense and sort of feel the shift online from sites like GeoCities, Flickr or other early social network experiments like those to MySpace, and then to Facebook, and now to Twitter.  And how many believe there will be another, new social network type of site that captures our fascination at some point in the not-too-distant future?  I imagine when posed like that, just about all answer in the affirmative.

So here’s the question:  do you feel that these big social networks are competitive with each other, like the way Coke and Pepsi are?  I mean, what if Twitter and FB or MySpace work together, or open up their interfaces to integrate, or play nice like this?  Aren’t they set up to do slightly different things or offer different services anyway?  FB is nothing like Twitter, right?

I still think the answer to the question is a definitive YES.  They’re all competing, rather directly, although they may not even really feel it or act it.  Here’s why.

What we all have a finite amount of is, time.  And even though the younger generations may have a lot more of it, there is still only so much time in a day any one of us can spend on social networks.  So therefore, to me at least, it is a zero-sum game:  if you are on Facebook, then you are not on MySpace.  And if you are (now) on Twitter’s site, then you are not on Facebook’s.

Why does this matter or make them direct competitors?  Well, almost all of these social network sites (with the present exception of Twitter) have a business model predicated on advertising.  And so, the way they make money is a direct function of pages viewed, rank, and time spent on the site.  While we may have both a FB and a Twitter account, we can all realistically only spend so much time on any one site.  And THIS is what makes all of these sites direct competitors.  As I wrote, kind of obvious.  But no one seems to be highlighting the fact that they all are, effectively, competing for our time.

Now let’s go back to that question about what may come next, and whether/when there will be a new new thing.  Since we all feel it will happen, isn’t it only a matter of time before it competes and cannibalizes all before it?  What’s also interesting is that while it feels like this is happening slowly, it is actually happening blindingly quick.  Not too long ago MySpace was on the cover of Time, and the Person of the Year was “You” (only in 2006).  FB isn’t going away any time soon (or is it?), but here we are only ~3 short years since MySpace was the talk of the town, and now they are laying off 40% of their workforce and shuttering a bunch of offices.

WASH.  RINSE.  REPEAT…

Tuesday:

KHAVER (KHAHver)

Friend

A true khaver is hard to find but good to keep.

WoD – Method Soaps

Out of nowhere, this stuff is everywhere.  Where did this brand come from?  The guys out there may only be slightly tuned into this, but you girls know what I’m talking about.  Somehow, it became very socially acceptable, very fast, to stick a Method Soap bottle in every room with a sink.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan.  Just surprised where it came from and how fast it has taken over all of our bathrooms.

(So actually, I think I figured out the answer to this curious little puzzle.  The answer is, they recently got shelf space at Target…)

Friday:

FARPATSHKET (fahrPATCHkeht)

Mixed up, nonsensical

His logic is farpatshket, but somehow he is right.

WoD – Ignoring the Voice

“Lilly.  Lilly.  Lilly…  Lilly!  Lilly!…  Lilly Lilly!  LILLY!…  LIIIILLLYYY!  LILly…  LilLLYY…!  LLLIIILLLLYYY!!!”

This is what I heard yesterday as a poor younger sibling Spencer tried to get his big sister’s attention.

And it got me thinking.  Why do we as humans just completely tune out a younger sibling, or a parent, or even a child, so often?  We’ve all done it, and we’ve all had it done to us.  Sometimes we just completely don’t acknowledge someone who is trying desperately to get our attention.  (Mostly, and exasperatingly, it’s children ignoring the adults.)  Why though?  What’s that all about?

I mean, I understand it can be a nuisance or slightly unsettling if a child tugs incessantly at your pant leg, or a younger brother wants to say something while you’re busy playing with your friend, or a parent wants you to stop jumping on the couch.  But we all should know by now that the ignored never relents, and always gets acknowledged in the end.  Yet we make them jump through hoops and get all upset (or worse, much louder and insistent) anyway.  And then we snap at them like they’re being a huge pain in the rump and say, “WHHAAAT!  What is it already!?”  Perhaps it’s more a problem with the ignorer, not the ignored.  (Poor Spencer, he’s got another 12 years of often being ignored by his older sister.  Hey, as the youngest child, I can empathize…)


Tuesday:

NIT MASIG TSU ZAYN  (niht MAHsihg tsoo ZAIN)

Unthinkable

She has seven children to care for? Nit masig tsu zayn!

WoD – Old is the New “New”

So I’m sitting here eating an organic tomato.  Almost reveling in it – the redness, the plumpness, the juiciness, the healthiness of it (since it’s “organic”).  I feel like I’m eating a superior, luscious vegetable and should even savor it a bit (and let’s face it, for what we have to pay for organic fruits and veggies, we should savor every darn bite.)  This tomato happens to be from a roadside farm too, all nice and fresh and organic.

But hang on a sec – doesn’t “organic” mean fruit/veggies NOT altered, or all hormoned-up, or fertilized or artificially flavored or colored?  In other words, doesn’t organic kind of mean “stuff we planted and just yanked out of the ground”?  Like in the good old days of fruit-eating, back when we all grew up?  And so shouldn’t this stuff actually be cheaper than all that artificially-altered or manufactured non-organic fruits/veggies?  I mean, here’s the formula for an organic tomato:  plant seeds.  water a little bit.  tape the sprouting vine to a piece of wood stuck in the ground.  wait.  pick and put on a truck.  sell.  oh yes, call it “organic.”

We all want fresh and organic stuff.  What’s curious here is that in the process of getting rid of all the chemicals, hormones and processes of the past ~30 years, we now have to pay way more for the privilege.  What great marketing this is.  Old is the new “new”…

Monday:

KHALOSHES* (khahLOHshehs)

Nausea, weakness

[*  not to be confused with galoshes…]

Brady is out for the season?!  I need to lie down.  Oy, I am feeling khaloshes.



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