dal niente

Month: September, 2005

Celebrate we will

For life is short but sweet for certain…

 

It’s not that I know him personally, but I like to refer to
Dave Matthews as just “Dave”.

 

There are a few things that I like about music CDs, and
there are a lot of things I can dislike about them.  In another life he might have been the guy down the street I grew
up with and became best friends.  We’d
shoot the shit about all the things that little kids do, like how it would take
at least a hundred GI Joes to take on Optimus Prime, unless you had Sergent
Slaughter.  I remember a scene where he
took on like fifty corba generic soldiers at once with his bare hands and all
you got for it was that he was down to his wife beater, sweating, and holding
the last sorry bastard by the collar for a moment before pitching him off the
pile of groaning human bodies.  And no
one ever messes up his shades. 
Dave would respect an ass kicking childhood memory like that.

 

I haven’t listened to his music in a while, and coming back
to has all the nostalgia and loose-tie kitchen singing that you might have with
a reunion.  An entire CD of Dave’s is
like a well rounded philosophy of life. 
The initial attraction to it is the instrumentation, the tempo, the
mood… He doesn’t really tell you what to do, but he tells you what he sees—he
points out the things through word and vibe that need pointing out.  He’s got this thing, where he’s in part
confidence and the partybringer, and in part, the Devil in disguise, with this
anarchist in him, something so sinister and Machiavellian, and at times, he’s
just another man down on his luck with the weight of the sins dragging by a
chain.  But these are the paths he took,
it all adds up.  I think perhaps listening
to Dave is a whole CD event, it’s not an understanding that can be gained by
listening to any one song independently of the others.  They are, as all things, just parts of a
whole, and the more pieces you get the greater an understanding, the closer
your approximation of your thoughts come to the real being.

 

It used to be that I’d listen to him and see someone who
understood me.  Back in high
school that was.  Every CD of his had a
roundedness to it, a contrast of light and dark—a jiving upbeat tune coupled
with more forboding lyrics for interpretation, or just the opposite.  Never on the beat, yet, reliable.  Never feeling repetitive or whiny, or too
loose and preachy.  No, it was all just
right like that middle bowl of porridge, that middle sized bed after a weary
day of activities.

 

But now that I listen to Dave it’s funny because it’s the
same CDs that I got back in high school, and that was all an era well over 7
years ago now… and now I find different things to find in the music.  He feels older now.  It feels like he’s a step ahead of me.  We’re similar—and yet, there’s no doubt
about it—he’s more experienced than I am. 
He knows something that I don’t.

 

Because there are things in my life that I could dramatize
as sorrows— and I have questions as to how to resolve them.  I listen to Dave, and he’s got the same
things going—but somehow, I’m under the impression that he’s figured out how to
come to terms with a lot of the things that bother me.  Thematically that is.

 

I listen to you, Dave, and I don’t just see some jackass who
thinks he knows it all.  I don’t see
some guy who wants to be different, or some guy who wants to enforce
tradition.  I don’t hear none of that…
instead, I hear someone who has lived a good full life, and who still has got
years left in him to enjoy.

 

How’d you do it Dave?

 

It’s a stupid thing really but I just came to terms
yesterday that the fact that my girlfriend really, really loves me, and that I
love her as well.  I’m a bit embarrassed
to use that word because it feels cheap, but well, I can’t describe it any
other way.  The word ‘love’ is stupid
thing because it’s so over abused, it’s been used in spam and like anything in
spam it’s nature is questionable at best, repetitive at least.  I wouldn’t normally point things like this
out, because I’m not one to talk much about the inner workings of my private
life, but I thought it deserved mentioning for her sake that she cares about
what happens to me.  And something like
that, something genuine, well, doesn’t it deserve mentioning?

 

I’m not an easy man to get along with, you know, trying to
solve the world’s problems by suggesting we all just abandon our cars and tell
people ‘shape up or die’, and Lord knows I’m a terrible, neglectful
boyfriend—so when the situation has arrived that someone cares, well, fuck,
I’ve got to mention it, I’ve got to write this down so that when I look back on
these words five years down the world’s length, I’ll remember that I had this
now, I’ll remember what a blessing it was to have met her in the first
place.  It was also a pretty lucky
streak to get out of bed day after day to lead up to this where I could so
stupidly just realize now that someone cared about me other than myself.

 

I mean, I always knew, and yet, I didn’t admit it to
myself
.

 

I’m sitting in a dark kitchen now, my eyes only reacting to
the glow of black phosphors crawling across the screen of my laptop.  Darkness has never been a good metaphor for
me—I feel more at home when there’s less light, when things are quiet and I can
think clearly, when I can rest and slow down the workings of my minds. I should
have cenetered it so that it would sound better, but, to my left, is Dave,
playing on the cd player, reminding me that Dave’s music was one of the first
things that she and I shared.

 

She’s at work right now, but I’m thinking of her.  And not even a dark kitchen is a bad thing,
actually, it gives me a secure feeling, knowing that in thoughts I am linked
and never truly alone.

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Shifting gears.

People at school are wearing long sleeves and jackets nowadays.

I’ve just been assigned about 20 pages worth of papers in the last 3 classes.  Midterm dawns.

If I’m out at 8pm, it’s pitch black outside.

Now here’s a new spin on Kill Bill.

I’m getting tired about hearing about Freud all the time.   I
mean, it really strikes me as silly that we’ve pretty much decided that
everything he came up with was kinda silly, and yet, we still study it
to see how his silly mind worked and what his silly interpretation on
things was.  Why do they insist on it?

It reminds me a lot of how the Montreal Gazette just keeps on
publishing BAD comics even though they’re not funny.  Why? 
Just because that’s why they’ve always done it!

A final note about health care.

 

Hipocrisy is: worrying about the local poor people when we
don’t give a damn about poor people overseas. 
Some kid out there is slaving away to make the next pair of cheap Nike
running shoes that I’m going to wear. 
Poverty is a fact of life—you can’t fix poverty, and you can’t
hold them by the hand all the way, you can just give them choices.  That’s the only difference between the lower
class in North America and the lower classes in third world countries—that our
lower classes have choices that they can make.


So when you listen to Bono from U2, you gotta pay
attention—he specifically advocates that it’s not enough to throw money at
people to cut some weight from our guilty conciences.  One must makes choies in life that invest in
wellbeing, not just buy pre-paid concience points.  We need to smarten people up, not just fix people when they fall down.

 

So if the lower class man is going to suffer in Canada due
to less public health care, well, I suppose that means his only choice is to
smarten up and not be lower class anymore, doesn’t it?  As to cigarette prices being so heavily taxed, it doesn’t
matter how many pack of cigarettes one buys during their life time, that
doesn’t cover the price of even a single chronic pulmonary obscrtuctive disease
treatment.  It costs on average about
800$ to Medicare system per day to operate an occupied bed in my hospital, and
that includes one x-ray per day and the standard COPD cocktails and blood
tests.


Now, I suppose my bias is that I am middle class, and I am in good health.

Sure, we can’t put a price on life, but I think
that’s
besides the point—people show just how much value life has when they
light up.  They can’t have if both ways, we have to respect that
people are responsible for themselves. Now to be fair, a lot of people get into bad habits because
they don’t know any better—but history only goes so far as an excuse, and a
line has to be drawn.

I don’t know exactly how to make it all
work, but one
of my ideas is to tax the privatized health care units and put some of
that money
towards public health care.  We’re looking at health care in
Canada too much as some sorta charitible foundation (where everyone has
to make a ‘donation’ all the time, but, well).  A charitable
garage.  You pull in, get fixed, and leave.

I’m saying, think economics– you can still save
people and save money at the same time.  In the modern world
actually, saving people has a lot to do with money.

At this very moment, Quebec has laws against several privatized
procedures… the waiting lists for some operations are so long that people
actually go to the United States and pay thousands, oftentimes hundreds of
thousands of dollars to get vital operations done within a month, which they’d
have to wait several months on a medicare waiting list here.  Why shouldn’t we allow privatized health
care?  The money would make a full
circle into our own medical industry rather then going out of the country.

While free health care is a nice idea, the fact is
that the
price you pay for that free procedure is you wait and wait and often
don’t get your
treatments when they could have been more effective anyway.  So my
central point against increasing public health care spending is: we are
paying for it, but is it worth it?

Suppose that in the whole of canada, the spending
money of any person is X.  Right now, we spend a fraction of X on
medicare– say that’s X / M.  We all pay X / M.  Sure we get
free stuff– basic procedures like dentistry and flu shots are a good
idea.  But that kind of stuff doesn’t cost X / M.  The real
punchers are the procedures that are used by stupid people.  ANd
as a rsult X / M is greater than V, being the value of the procedures
that we use in a lifetime.

To top it all off, if you have a good excuse to
have a procedure, you’re going to have to wait forever to get it done,
by which point many conditions get worse.  So you’re paying X / M
but it certainly isn’t up to par with V in most cases, and when V
actually exceeds X / M you’ll have to wait.

So I suppose some people can wait, that’s
fine.  I didn’t say get rid of public health care.  Let them
line up.  Let me line up too!  Even if i suggest
privitization as an option, they key word here is OPTION.  Let the
taxation on privitized medical businesses come back in taxes and then
use that to pump up the public networks.

And stop spending all that money expanding highways, there’s too many freaking cars as it is.

I just think it’s inefficient for the government
to pay the premium on all the major procedures to be done out
there.  Some people ‘deserve’ it I suppose, because they’re ‘good’
or ‘important’ people.  Some people ‘don’t deserve it’.  But
regardless, if people don’f t want to wait, let them pay the premium,
and for it, we raise money in the process.  Spend that money on
educating people.  Socialize preventitive medicine rather than
‘repair shop’ medicine.

And that’s what I think the focus of the two
sectors should be– public health care should be redesigned to focus on
the preventative procedures and educational stuff, and the private
section should be focused on the ‘repair shop’ stuff.  If they
want to overlap, so be it– but i don’t beleive that the individual has
a ‘right’ to health care– they have a right to choices.  And to
make good on that offer, you have to give them the education to make
informed choices.

More elaboration on the last few posts.

 

I’m not trying to make people give a shit, I’m trying to
push the system in such a way that those that don’t give a shit will die
off.  That sounds harsh, but the problem
with too much social assistance is that society imposes burdens on itself.  It’s okay if you give welfare to someone who
is really trying to get a job, or if you save the life of someone who is a
‘good person’.  But whatabout everyone
else?

 

See, the sytem says that you cannot bear any prejudices on
these things, the social system is that everyone gets equal treatment.  But the problem is that some people are
simply assholes who abuse it, and when they start ruining things you take
measures to make things run smooth.

 

Not that I’m against sharing, like I said, I lean in the
direction of socialism actually, but it’s exactly because of my community
mindedness that I believe that we really got to cut out the fat.  Privitizing health care will make poor
people suffer, I have no doubt about that. 
But this shouldn’t be something that is negotiable, that should not be a
factor.  You don’t spend money giving
money
for free.  A good social
system spends money giving people the option of being independent.

 

See, when I say pull money out of public health care and put
it in education, I guess I might’ve forgotten to mention that part of that
education is about health care (sorry if I wasn’t clear).   For chrissakes, make a law that says that
no one can open up a McDonalds franchise or something!  I have no doubt poor people will go to
health institututions less because it’s expensive.  Maybe this is the kind of incentive they need to get their shit
in gear.  If you don’t take care of yourself,
you die.  It’s a bit hypocritical to
think that it’s alright for everyone to abuse health care and social assistance
and yet expect the money to magically come from just anywhere.

 

I guess what I’m suggesting is a high mortality turnover
rate, which sounds absolutely insane, but hey, bear with me.  The problem with most societies isn’t mostly
the way they’re run—it’s that societies just keep on GETTING BIGGER.

 

Hmm.  So maybe this
topic is too big to fit under the scope of healthcare.  It’s not just about healthcare, because the
health system is in part a syptom and at the same time a crucial link in the
destructive cycle.

 

It is not fair of me to say “poor, uneducated people will
have to get in gear or die” because that’s totally unrealistic.  So if we were to privitize health care, it
wouldn’t work on it’s own—we’d need a nationwide social reform for other
elements of day to day life as well, such as consumerism, commercialism, and,
most importantly, charity.

 

Don’t give a man a fucking fish, give him a fishing
pole.  If he wants to burn it for
firewood, well, you tell him WAIT and show him how to do it properly.  If he still wants to burn it well that’s too
fucking bad.  (I’m feeling a bit weak on
analogies right now.)

 

Of course, here’s another stipulation, and a very important
one at that—if we save money by cutting some public healthcare budgets, we damn
well better spend it in the right way.

 

So I put it forward… just WHAT is the advantage of free
healthcare?  There are so many people
tapping into it that the best intentions on the part of health care
professionals are just spread too thin. 
There are actually hotlines for healthcare professionals who want
psychiatric help for burnout.  I kid you
not.  There are signs ALL over the break
rooms.

 

The peak of healthcare occurs, not so surprisingly, on
December 26th.  On that day,
the whole McGill University Health Center network (including the Montreal
General, the Montreal Chest, the Children’s hospital, the Victoria, etc)
averages one patient admission per minute per site.  The vast majority of these problems are
people who have eaten too much and have a severe case of heartburn or cardiac
palpitations.  The next rank is
asthmatics.  Those aren’t so bad because
these things you can pop an antacid, a puff of ventolin, and for the most part
you can use triage to do something more critical.  But then you have the occasional (and yet, during the holiday
season, it’s actually a surprisingly high number) of  people who have gotten falling down drunk and yet somehow got
behind the wheel of a car, and somehow smashed themselves and perhaps others
into itty bitty bits.

 

I tell you, the reason why the health care system is so
strained is because of stupid people who don’t know their limitations.

 

Maybe what we should have is a ‘first one’s free’ rule, and
after that, you’re on your own.

 

I would love nothing more than to offer free health care to
everyone.  But the abusers are out
there.  I don’t want them to give a
shit, but if they don’t, I don’t think I should pay to help them.  If we are to afford respect for persons,
then we should respect every person’s actions as a conscious decision on the
course of their own fate.  Who are we to
intervene when people throw their lives away willingly?

 

There are some people out there who start off in a ‘bad
situation’ and no amount of hard work will bring them out of that
situation.  The question I ask is
this—do social services help these people get out of their social class?  Cause, if they don’t, then I don’t see the
difference if we just cut their social services altogether.

 

I come from a family of Chinese chefs, dishwashers, laundry
people and busboys, or otherwise unemployed. 
When I was born, I lived in a room with my parents, and that room was in
a house that was too small considering we lived with my grandparents, my uncles
and aunts.  When I was older I slept in
a fold-out sofa bed with my uncle.

 

We own our own house now. 
We have a lot of things I guess you can say.  Someone want to tell me it’s luck?

 

The people in third worlds, they’re the unlucky
ones.  In Canada, ANYTHING is possible—I
simply don’t believe this crap about an unlevel  playing field.  There’s
nothing wrong with the field, it’s the players.

My last comment probably needs some elaboration.

The current sitatuion of social services in Canada is that the
population has become fat and complacent.  The economic situation
in Canada is that we are dealing in superficial industries and wasting
away the wealth of natural resources that we have.

I am not in favor of tax cuts– I lean towards a socialist sorta ideal
world.  But on the aspect of health care, I’d have to go
capitalist.  I say that the money you save in health care
expenditures, you spend it on education.

Those are the two important things.  EDUCATION should be socially
enforced.  I don’t just mean subisized high school educations and
formal education– i mean public programs to inform people on basic
guidelines for sanitation, physical well being, and personal
finances. 

And there should be a program to ban television. (But i haven’t quite
figured out how to make that work yet, I’ll get back to you when I
figure that out).

I am not aiming at a system where there is a huge class distinction– I
am aiming at a population that learns to take care of itself.

I hope the Iraqi’s just burn all their oil fields.  You hear me Iraq?  Burn it!  It’s more
trouble than it’s worth!

 

Things tend to fall into a ‘natural’ balance.  Someone pushes, someone pulls, and you
always end up with society being the average of all those efforts.

 

Gas prices went way above the 100 cents per litre mark
(which is high in Montreal, sorry for you US readers but I can’t really think
in gallons).  The prices have pretty
much been bouncing around up there for quite a while now.

 

Do you guy remember when I said that those prices were
normal?  Told you so.  Turns out that an issue of Newsweek about
2-3 weeks ago agrees with what I’ve been saying on this blog for the last half
year—gas prices are going up, and they’re going to continue going up.  If you want to complain that prices are too
high, perhaps I could complain that your consumption of it is
unreasonable.  It’s a simple
relationship of supply and demand.

 

The way the economy works is that you need people to
‘demand’ shitloads of shit that isn’t necessary.  The economy runs because we create inefficiencies, and then we
make jobs to fix those inefficiencies.

 

Like how you sell convertible cars in Montreal, or how we
purposely leave potholes big enough to stuff chickens in—that’s all a conspiracy
to stimulate the automotive industry.

 

The economics is a very logical beast—but the economy itself
is the heat energy given off by contradicting forces of silly humans doing
things.  There are generally two types
of activities that all industries fall into—counter productive activities, and
activities that ‘clean shit up’.

 

We start producing Metro newspapers or those 24 Hours
leaflets—a handful of pages stapled together to ‘inform the public’.  Let’s list the number of ways this is
ultimately pointless.  First of all, up
to date weather forecasts or not, you’re already on your way to where you have
to go—unless you’ve a videogame character like Solid Snake and have an entire
wardrobe of different survival gear in your backpack, chances are knowing the
weather isn’t going to make that much of a difference.  But that’s a weak point, you can shred that
if you want.  I’m just saying it because
some people I know get the paper because they want to know the weather, even
though they’re never appropriately dressed (thanks to the counter productive
activities of the fashion industry, but that’s another post entirely).  Anyway.

 

But the great part of those free newspapers, printed and
distributed daily, is that they create jobs! 
Hell YES!  That would be the ‘clean
shit up’ activity I was talking about. 
The publishers do the stupid thing in the first place, and that makes
them rich, and so then you have a second job made up just to clean that shit
up.  Which might not make those
cleaner-uppers rich, but hey, a job is a job.

 

“Clean shit up” might also mean just dealing with some sort
of inefficiency.

Canada does a lot of fishing; yet we sell the fist to the
United States, then buy it back as fish sticks.  We also have one of the largest hydroelectric networks in the
world, yet we import our batteries.

 

Obviously, there’s something wrong with my argument because
otherwise it’d be so logical that we just shouldn’t get into cycles of shit
like this in the first place.

 

But this is what the economy is.

 

It’s all about the things that we don’t need, and making
sure that we want it, and that we can get it, and that we can make more of it
(because that’s how we get paid).

 

Sometimes the loops that we work in are a bit more
elaborate, so we might not see exactly the paths that the cycles take to come
back to their origins.

 

Don’t get me wrong, not everything in the economy is
backwards or cleaning shit up.  Every
now and then, someone does something productive, but these kinds of businesses
are usually charitable and thus, by definition (ideally), unprofitable.

 

There wouldn’t normally be anything wrong a with a cycle of
destruction, if it weren’t for the destruction part.  I mean, it’s nice to think “seize the moment” and live as if
there’s no tomorrow, but that oftentimes means “I’ll do stuff now and let the
next generation clean up my mess”.  Look
at the US deficit.  The only way that’s
going to work in the long run without a major turn in direction is if the sheer
theoretical size of it were to cross the dimension from theoretical to reality,
and it were to grow life giving teats by which to feed it’s starving
citizens.  Look at cities expanding
uncontrollably without the transportation infrastructure to back that expansion
up—what you get is something like the Bermuda triangle that is Toronto and it’s
suburbs.  You can’t do shitall unless
you have a car, so you buy one per member of your household, and yet, people
complain that there’s so much traffic. 
Look at the Roman Catholic church, still thinking that balls is enough,
and trying to enforce the idea that contraceptives are sinful.

 

Life is abosolutely fantastic.  People complain that they are bored, well, how can that be?  We live in a fantasy world every day, where
mendacity and illusion are the oil that keep the infernal machine running.

 

Or look a little closer, at the citizen who is in the
hospital for lung disease, in a ward room that costs close to 1200$ per day to
operate for his care, who goes out in the parking lot to smoke when he gets a
chance to get out of bed.

 

I envy the mentally retarded in some sense because I
don’t think this kind of shit bothers them. 
I envy children because they don’t know what the hell is going on.

 

Someone once said to me that I often sit on a ‘moral high
horse’.  It’s true, I’m preachy.  But I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not
an angel, I’m not perfect.  I’m not Jeezus.   But moral high horse or not, the concepts
that I describe are real—it’s okay if you don’t like the preacher, but hate
the game
we’re playing and not the speaker.

 

By the way, I’m in favor of privatizing health care.  It’s one of the things I think will lead to
a smarter population.

So you want to learn Japanese?


 


Um, are you japanese?

Sometimes I feel like I’m smart and have a lot of things to say.


 


Other times I look at the world, the people around me and myself, and I’m just speechless.


 


I’m going to invent an idea that I’ll call “accidental immortality”.


 


See, the problem with immortality is that if you know you’re immortal, life pretty much loses it’s meaning.  I mean, if you’re not going to die, it doesn’t matter how much you muck around with your life—you’ve got all the time in the world to make it up to yourself.  You could literally exhaust all the possibilities.  You could hurt as many people as you want, you could fill your concience with ‘sin’– but you don’t have to worry because you have all the time in the world to make it up to yourself right? And so the problem with that is that without consequences, everything just sorta loses it’s value.



So what I want is “accidental immortality”.  I know I’m going to die, someday.  But if someone bigger than me were just to someday decide he was going to play a trick on me and make me immortal without telling me, well, then that would be the best of scenarios.  I’d be living my life with a constant fear of death, and so everything would have value—if anything, as I got older the value of everything would increase.  My appreciation of and empathy for all things mankind would just go through the roof.  I daresay I would spend every day commited to making as much of a dent in the planet’s way of living as I could before I kickoff for the big hamster-wheel in the sky.  Things would be good.  Every single day would be a present.


 


But if I were to accidentally become immortal, well then.  Without the knowledge of inconsequentiality, it would be like getting unlimited gifts without knowing it—then you don’t abuse, it doesn’t cheapen.


 


Funny that by some views, death makes all things inconsequential.  And yet, without it, life is also inconsequential—maybe the meaning of life then is to balance on that thread, that defining border between the two.