Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rhetorical Analysis - April 13

This rhetorical analysis is going to be about the book "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. It has nothing to do with healthcare or energy or schools, but it does try to make a point. Mr. Frank was in a line of work that had something to do with nuclear missiles or something like that, but then he realized the inherent danger of atomic energy. He began trying to lobby against the use of nuclear weapons. So he wrote this book about what would happen to a small community in Florida if the Cuban missile crisis (yes, it's an old book) escalated to the nuclear level.

S - It is not quite sufficient. He set out to educate everyone on what would happen in nuclear winter, and it turned into more of a novel than an educational story. He provides a lot of information, but not in a format that would convince anyone of anything.
T - It is not typical of environmental-type warnings at all. I have yet to see Michael Moore write a novel about an issue. Or do anything else worth mentioning.
A - The information seems to be quite accurate, as the writer seems to be familiar with government procedure, protocol, and course of action. He also is familiar with the part of world in which he places the story.
R - Not all of it is relevant. Again, it is a novel.

Ethos - His credibility is high, both from the information given and his personal background.
Pathos - The emotions played to are really angst and the human sense of drama. There is love, loss, family, and survival all tied together, but nothing to really convince the reader to protest nuclear missile programs.
Logos - He does try to play to logic in this book. He gives a very possible scenario, and makes the decisions that the characters make very real and typical of people in those types of situations.

All in all, it was a good read, but it didn't really forewarn me of the nuclear apocalypse, which was his original intent in writing the book.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Technique - April 10

I'm going to do some more brainstorming today about healthcare.

How much would taxes go up if a mandatory national healthcare system were implemented?
Would the training and/or selection of doctors and nurses change?
What would determine the funding of hospitals: population or track record?
Would students be "recruited" to become doctors, in order to fill the need?
Would more scholarships then become available for those students?
How would those scholarships be funded?
If students are recruited to become doctors and nurses, would the government necessarily pay for their education? For their malpractice insurance?
What would the restrictions be on which doctors you could visit: by town, county, state?
Would any additional funds be allocated to hospitals besides those raised from healthcare taxes?
During times of low economy, what takes more precedence: the army or healthcare? Most republicans would try to balance it out, whereas many democrats might believe that the army should be withdrawn from all its foreign posts, so as to get more funds to healthcare.
If every citizen in the nation has the same healthcare provider, which is funded through taxes, what happens to those people who do not pay taxes? Not children or the elderly, but people who choose to not pay taxes? They have a right to be healthy, but they have not paid for their healthcare with their own taxes. Would tax records then become part of the procedure at hospitals?

If we kept our current system, what could be changed to better it? Maybe a combination of federal and private funding, so that insurance starts at medicaid for everyone, and then additional insurances could be added by citizens?
If there is healthy competition between medical providers and innovators, would those advancements as a result of competition decrease if more unbiased federal funding is added to the system?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Write - April 8

My wife had to go to the hospital about 7 months ago. She had a cough that wouldn't go away, and chest pains. They ran all sorts of tests, only to find out it was pleurisy, which has a very simple cure: take some antibiotics and wait. Of course, the bill was tremendous, because they did an X-ray, did blood test, etc., etc. I'm not arguing this. What I don't understand is how such a high-tech place like a hospital can not have its act together when it comes to billing. Over the course of the three months following her visit, we had bills come from over 5 different sources. One from our insurance, one from the radiology department, one from the council of physicians, one from the hospital itself, blah, blah, blah. We had no idea who needed to be paid what or why, because all these bills came at the same time. Couldn't there be an easier way? Couldn't they just make up a bill and send it to us? Granted, it would have been a very large, one-sum bill, but it would have saved us a lot of grief. I mean, come on. Such a frequently-used and modern institution should SURELY be able to rake all the payments into one bill for the consumer, and then distribute it among those that need to be paid. But no. I mean, with all the money pouring into those places, they couldn't hire a couple of people to consolidate bills and mail sent out? O, well. Such is America, I suppose. If they consolidate bills, then the next logical step would be complete and total socialism, no? And goodness knows how many hippies would be up in arms about that . . .

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free Write - April 3

I was reading the news the other day, when I came across a story that triggered thoughts on another subject. In Georgia (USA), some 8 year old third graders had been scolded by their teacher for something insignificant, and they decided that they needed to teach her a lesson. They came to school with handcuffs, duct tape, and a steak knife. The plan was to knock her unconscious, handcuff her and tape her to the desk, then stab her with the steak knife. First of all, when I was 8, I didn't even know that rebellion was an option. If I got scolded, it was my fault, and I had to face up to it. Second, even if I HAD decided to rebel, the idea of physically harming an adult was the furthest thing from my mind. Where did these kids get the idea from? The police chief in the area blames it on video games and violence. I tend to agree with him on the video games part of it, but not the violence part. The last 500 years or so have been the first time in the history of the world that kids did NOT grow up with violence. British children in the 800s saw Viking raiders torch, murder, and rape. Roman children saw executions, sieges, and sackings. But they didn't turn into little homocidal freaks. At least, not in comparison to their times. But for some reason, our age seems incapable of bringing up children with an "appropriate" understanding of violence. It's not that being exposed to violence makes someone a murderer. I grew up playing soccer, and I am not David Beckham. That may be a bit of a stretch, but this is my reasoning: I played soccer on a team. I went to practice, ran laps, played drills, got yelled at by the coach, won and lost games, and saw everything that it takes to become good at that sport. I didn't just see a soccer game and immediately think that I could become amazing with no effort. I didn't play FIFA on my XBox and then suppose that those hours in front of the tube would translate into real world skills. How does this relate to 8 year old kids in Georgia? They may have seen violent actions on a video game, and thought that no real world consequences could come of their decisions. Children who grew up in another age saw what physically happened when someone was stabbed. They saw the blood, hear the cries, and knew (even if they only experienced it once) that being stabbed or stabbing someone brought with it actualized results. So, in my mind, it was not the violence that corrupted those children in that third grade class, but the FALSENESS of the violence they had seen. Everything is capable of traumatizing and warping a person, if no context or support is given to the person.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Free Write - March 23

I hate dancing. I truly do. The idea of clubbing makes me cringe more than almost any other idea. Why would anyone want to go to a crowded room of strangers, bumping up against each other, sweating to overly loud music, gyrating themselves in what can only be described as controlled epilepsy? I just don’t get it. I will add that dancing itself is not disgusting. Just the modern version of it. People used to dance for reasons. Celebration, worship, competition, intimidation, and courtship. These days, people just seem to do it for fun. I don’t see the merit in it. Despite my inability to justify the reason for modern “dancing”, there are certain times when one cannot help but dance. Each time has its own dance that every person, I believe, instinctively knows.
The first instance is that song from the Mac commercials by Yael Naim. You know the one. Its called “New Soul”, and it begins with a quaint little piano ditty. When this song plays, I firmly believe that every human, almost by obedience to some unknown law of nature, must bop his or her head from one side to the other in beat with the song.
The second instance is that of “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The jury is still out on whether or not they are, in fact, mighty mighty or just plain mighty. But nonetheless, when this songs plays, the body human must perform that ridiculously stupid ska dance of kicking its feet one at a time while doing a half-skip.
The third instance involves Ricky Martin. Yes, you already know what song I’m going for. When “Livin’ La Vida Loca” plays, EVERYONE, even elderly Jewish women from Brooklyn, secretly believes themselves to be exotically tan salsa dancers. Everyone.
The last instance I will mention is not a dance, but it is a historically cheesy action that must be undergone. There is a physiological reason for it. During the performance of "Open Arms" by Journey (or any other epic ballad of the 70s/80s/early 90s), one must hold up a lighter, or at least hold up their hand as if they had a lighter. This is because the song is so emotional, makes the listener so in tune with the universe, and shakes the pillars of Rock so tremendously that if one were NOT to hold up one's hand with or without a lighter, one would actually burst into flames. If the emotional flame does not have an outlet, spontaneous combustion will occur, and you will be sitting with your buddies at the IHOP after the concert wishing you had just held up the daggone lighter.
There are other instances of involuntary dance or action, but these are the ones I have encountered lately. I firmly believe that these dances are near impossible to stop. Try to quelch that inner Latino from wiggling his or her hips, and you might need something to bite down on so as not to scream out from the agony. Thinking of not making an idiot of yourself by rocking out to the Bosstones? Don’t expect a happy ending. And, while I cannot substantiate this scientifically, I am nearly without doubt that holding back the cute head bob during “New Soul” may have permanent physical side effects. The next time any of these songs comes on, please do not try to NOT dance. You may be so negatively affected by the experience that you may go blind.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Free Write - March 17

Recently, a woman was taken to the hospital. She was a special woman. The reason she was (is) special: she hadn't left her bathroom for two years. She set up camp in the lavatory because she had a fear of leaving it. I'm not trying to make fun of her. Really. I'm just curious about the situation. Most of us with irrational fears realize how irrational they are, and are usually determined to conquer them. People who are afraid of heights do not live their lives at ground level, but rather make attempts at stairs, higher buildings, and airplanes. What I am wondering is: at what point does one realize exactly HOW irrational their fear is? I mean, if you haven't left your house in a whole day, you usually recognize that and try to get out for a little bit. Was there never a day in those two years when the woman looked around and thought "Geez, it's been a while since the last time I left."? Did she never get bored of staring at the towel rack? And the second part of the story that baffles me: her boyfriend supplied her with food, clean clothes, and (apparently) companionship for the 24 months of her confinement. He claims that he tried to coax her out several times, and eventually just decided to let her work it out on her own. Personally, I think my relationship with such a person would be a bit strained due to lack of change in venue, if you get my drift. I mean, kudos to you, bathroom-lady-boyfriend, for sticking it out those two years faithfully. But, it's like, come on. Two years? That's going a little far. Or not far enough, I guess.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Free Write - March 9

I am writing to alert the world of a recent disease that is creeping its way through America, and soon will spill over into the rest of the world. Someone you know may have this disease and not even know it. It's name is SoCalNarcissnoma-Encephalmonia-itis. This may be something you have seen before, and didn't even realize its danger. I will tell you of my encounter with this brain-destroying affliction that has ruined the perfectly good days of thousands of people.
I work with a young man from Southern California. He decided, at some odd point in his so-far-inexperienced life that everyone he met should be dubbed "fool". Actually, "foow", as he seems to have lost the ability (either through evolution or choice) to pronounce word-final "l"s. I guess I'm a little old fashioned, or perhaps it's because I'm from the South (yes, Virginia IS in the South. if you doubt me, ask yourself where Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and JEB Stuart are from. go on. i'll wait.)(and if you don't know who those three are, then you are hardly in any shape to declare what is "South" and what isn't), but I was raised that if you called someone a fool, you had better be prepared to back that claim up with either a fist or examples of that person's foolishness. After he calls you a "foow", he then proceeds to insult in any way he can whatever ancestry your last name claims. If you're a Smith, he bashes the English. If you're an O'Brien, he spits on the Irish. If you're a Chavez, then Heaven help you from the onslaught of anti-Hispanic remarks that will soon overwhelm you. Next, he will tell you that he's joking, smack you on the back, and tell you to lighten up and take a joke, even if his tirade of racial slurs raised no reaction whatsoever from you. Covering his bases, I suppose. He will then tell you how, no matter what state you're from, you have no idea what a real "gangster" is. How he got on the topic of gangsters, and why any sane person would care about the definition of a "real gangster", the intelligent world will never know, but he seems to feel that you brought it up, and he needs to comment on it. He will say that the only real gangsters live in LA, and that he used to hear gunshots every day in his neighborhood. As he is a well-off white kid that drives a relatively new Mustang, gels his hair, and wears cologne every day to work, I doubt he was anywhere near a neighborhood with gang rivalries. But, at the risk of having to listen to him defend his position on his "gangsta-ness", I listen to him go on about how tough his neighborhood was, and how whatever state anyone is from is "lame", while his state is "so ill".
IF YOU COME ACROSS THIS YOUNG MAN, WALK IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. DO NOT GET SUCKED UP INTO HIS FANTASY WORLD OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUPREMACY. If you do get caught by him, just grin and bear it. Don't worry. The rest of the world is behind you all the way. We've been there before, and we know your pain. If you or a loved one has had their day ruined by someone like this, please have them contact a grief counselor in their local community. The road to recovery from these incidents is long and hard, but we're there for you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rhetorical Analysis - March 06

"Kilowatt Ours" by Jeff Barrie

Audience - People living in the Southeast who think that their current energy production means are safe and sufficient.

WACTO - He didn't really have one. The film was just sort of informational, not problem-solving.

S - The film spends a lot of time looking down on current sources of energy, but doesn't cover sufficiently the ways to improve energy.
T - This film is typical of people who think that their film will change the world.
A - It is accurate enough. He interviews people like park rangers, power plant technicians, and the like.
R - Everything he says in the film is relevant.

Ethos - He appeals to the moral "right" and "wrong" of certain manners of energy production. He goes on and on about how immoral, not dangerous, pollution and mining are. He isn't pervasive in it, and doesn't try to trick viewers into thinking a certain way. He does, however, push his own cause quite a bit.
Pathos - There is a clip in the movie about a small community in the Southeast who try to deny a bill allowing a nuclear power plant being built nearby. He shows the emotion that the townspeople went through, interviews some of them, and tries to bring the feeling home to all the viewers by attempting to apply their situation to the country.
Logos - Facts, figures, and statistics galore dot this film. Percentages and measurements are around every corner. He tries to logically explain why pollution is immoral, and tries to show future effects of immediate actions.

All in all, the movie got done what it wanted to. The figures were convincing enough, and it wasn't overly presumptuous. The creator of the film, though, has his own website, and is still pushing what he pushes in the movie: an overall revamp of the Southeast's power supply methods.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Technique - March 4

This week, I am going to just brainstorm about audience needs, etc. for my paper on healthcare.

Audiences possible:
1. Newly married couples or graduates from college
2. Families whose healthcare provider is switching due to work/location change
3. People expecting children

Concerns that may arise:
1. Rate of premiums (do they apply per person or per plan?)
2. Flexibility of hospitals and doctors to accept smaller, private insurance providers
3. What percentage of birth defect/labor difficulties is covered? Are there any specific cases or conditions that do not get covered by most healthcare providers?
4. Do healthcare providers actually live up to their duties? Are there any out there that are 100% honest when it comes to payments and treatment options?
5. Is there a way for private healthcare providers to accomodate everyone, even the very impoverished?

Questions about the public healthcare option:
1. How much will taxes go up? Does the amount depend on persons per household, or is it a flat rate?
2. Will inflation or the economy have any effect on the tax?
3. Will there be any room or legality for private doctors or clinics?
4. What will be the requirements for doctors, nurses, and staff? Will there be a unified battery of tests for each position? Will salary for them be the same, regardless of location?
5. Will building care and technology go down once they are left in the hands of the government?
6. What things will be covered by a nation-wide healthcare provider? For instance, cosmetic surgery might not be covered, but what about reconstructive surgery?
7. Will the amount of lawsuits go up or down with the de-privitization of healthcare?
8. Is there a happy middle ground between private and government healthcare providers? Can there be a basic, all-citizens-covered government-run provider, and then the option to have your own if you don't like the one given to the public?
9. If the answer to the above question is yes, then what "price-gouging" laws will have to implemented to prevent unhealthy competition?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Amendment on my Free Write

Lovers of 60s music will note that I mis-referenced the song "And Then He Kissed Me" with the chorus from "Da Doo Ron Ron". This will be forgiven me, because the connoisseur of all things Oldie acknowledges that both "And Then He Kissed Me" AND "Da Doo Ron Ron" were released by the Crystals, and both released in 1963. So, my Freudian slip will be accepted with lieniency.

Free Write - March 2

Once, on my mission, I was kissed by a man. A large, drunk, Russian man. While walking down the street in a town in Latvia, my companion and I happened across a very large Russian. Picture, if you will, the weird white guy from "Daddy Day-Care" (yes, regrettably, I did see that movie). Now put a "Newsies" style hat on him, inebriate him with large quantities of vodka, and lather him up with some Eau D'SweatyNonBathingMan, and you've got the guy that approached us. Seeing that we were missionaries, he stopped us and began asking us some interesting questions, which we attempted to answer. He asked if we believed in reincarnation, if Mary really was the mother of God, etc., etc. He then posed us the question “Where did God come from?” We tried to skirt around the question by saying that God’s origins were not important in this life, and that we should try to live good lives, yadda yadda yadda. “Wait. Where are YOU from?”, he asked (I should preface this by saying that he phrased the question to mean “From whom did you come?”). So, I replied that I was from my mother. He then asked “Well, then, from whom does God come?” I realized that I had better give him an answer that would end this line of questioning. So, I said that God came from His father. The man asked who God’s father was. I said “I don’t know. Ask His mother.” This made the man think for a moment, then laugh that big-bellied sardine-scented laugh that only a drunk Russian can laugh. He said “I like you, American.” And then he kissed me (“A-doo-ron-ron-ron, a-doo-ron-ron…”). Not on the mouth, mind you. Just on the cheek. So, there you have it. As a parting note, I will say that I was kissed by more drunk men on my mission than I have ever been kissed by sober women OFF my mission. Fellas, take note – when with Russian men, look out for the drunk kiss. Beware.