Archive for December, 2008

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Do YOU Have A Best Of 2008?

[ 3 Comments ]Posted on December 27, 2008 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

What was great in ’08? Care to opine on ’09?

Well, Fimoculous  has fleshed out their best of 2008 list, so you won’t be seeing any annoying “ten best whatever” lists around here (except the condensed Pitchfork Top 50). That Fimoculous list always kind of wraps it up. I think for a lot of us the single best thing that happened in 2008 is a no-brainer; it would have to be that whole Change thing. Hard to top that. [See comments for explanation of this strikethrough]  For me personally, 2008 was unique in that for the first time in my life (since about fourth grade, anyway) I went a whole year not only without a partner, but I don’t think I even went on a DATE. I’m taking applications for 2009 by the way (I may have lost my looks and be dwelling in poverty, but I’m still a nice guy). MORE IMPORTANTLY THOUGH, I’d love to know what stood out for YOU in 2008, or what you look forward to in 2009. That little comment link works, you know. Have at it. What was great in ’08? Care to opine on ’09?

Unnecessary Medical Treatment

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 26, 2008 by admin in Health & Wellness

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Maybe Doctors Should Just Stop Cutting It Out

One of the central reasons for my general distrust of contemporary American medicine has been a common-sense hunch that there’s a lot of unnecessary treatment and billing going on because of the fact that insurance companies are in fact essentially investment companies, and hospitals’ revenue is heavily dependent on insurance, which leads to an unhealthy business model (see this Independent Review report 64KB, PDF). Understanding how hospitals make money is no simple topic, but one can reasonably deduct that a non-vital procedure will be more likely to be recommended if the patient has insurance. I’ve had first-hand experience with this: I once had a severe laceration on my arm that ER staff thought may have nicked a tendon. After moving up the chain of authority to the plastic surgeon, they were fully convinced I needed surgery. That is, until the plastic surgeon was flipping through my paperwork and realized I didn’t have insurance (I was looking over his shoulder) and took another look. Suddenly he became convinced that a simple sling would suffice, since “sometimes these injuries almost do better healing on their own”. Although I have always assumed there were a lot of unnecessary procedures, I was surprised upon doing a little web searching to see just how prevalent this is. Depending on the source, figures range from a more alarmist suggestion that 60% of all surgeries are medically unjustified to a more conservative figure of 25%. Adding to this is the pharmaceutical industry’s almost homicidal drive to push drugs to market. This article, for instance, suggests that unneeded prescriptions cost the nation’s public and private health plans as much as $50 billion annually . And more specifically close to home for me, a Canadian study found that over 41% of prescriptions for NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were unnecessary. I’ll have more on the topic of anti-inflammatory agents in an upcoming piece; I have a firm belief that a wide range of conditions encompassing joint pain, immune problems, and inflamed tissue all relate to some simple diet issues.

Pitchfork 50 Best Albums of 2008

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on December 26, 2008 by admin in Music

Friday, December 26th, 2008

The Enhanced, Condensed Version

As I said a few weeks ago, I’m helpless without Pitchfork Media’s Top 50 list. It has totally dictated my January listening habits for three years running. Well, the 2008 list is finally available, and as usual they’ve spread it across five web pages, which is a minor annoyance to me and a few other people I know. So, I’ve done you all a little favor, and summarized the list without reviews. I’ve also gone one step further and provided product and torrent search links for most of the list. I tend to torrent, review, then buy if I like it or delete if I don’t. Try to be cool and support the artists if you do the same. By the way, the The Pitchfork 500 book (pictured) is a treasure trove too, if you haven’t checked it out. It chronologically covers indy music from ’77 Punk to the present, and is written in the same clever style as their site content. So free up some hard drive space, ’cause here it is, our condensed list —> Read the rest of this entry »

Why Does Kwanzaa Get Such A Bad Rap?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 26, 2008 by admin in Holidays

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Rethinking my pseudo-intellectual take on Kwanzaa

I grew up and currently live in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, and have a broad variety of friends from different cultures (even extremists like white male Republicans). In spite of this, I’ve never met someone who celebrates Kwanzaa. This made it easy to poke a little fun at Kwanzaa for years, in trivial ways like saying “Have a Dope Kwanzaa” as a December 26th greeting. Well, in spite of the fact that the holiday was made up in 1966 by a guy who changed his name from Ronald McKinley Everett to Maulana Karenga, I’ve decided I should lay off on the Kwanzaa jabs, which (as in so many instances in life) were based on ignorance. Check out what the seven days of Kwanzaa are devoted to: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics),  Nia (Purpose),  Kuumba (Creativity), and  Imani (Faith). I can’t really poke fun at any of those principles, can you? And any day that gives people a better understanding of each other can’t be a bad thing, can it? Have a Happy Kwanzaa!

Until The End of the World

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 25, 2008 by admin in Popular Media

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Wim Wenders’ Overlooked Masterpiece – Bis ans Ende der Welt (Until The End of the World)

One of my favorite films of all time is also probably one of the most overlooked: Wim Wenders’ Until The End of the World. Released in 1991, and set in 1999, it tells a multi-layered tale about a novelist (Eugene Fitzpatrick, played by Sam Neill) who follows his dreamy and spontaneous wife (Claire Tourneur, played by Solveig Dommartin) around the world as she chases a mysterious man (Sam Farber, alias Trevor McPhee – William Hurt) from country to country, finally ending up in Australia, where she discovers that he is the son of an American scientist who has developed a special camera that will enable the blind to see. As a backdrop to all of this, the world is wondering if America will shoot down a failing Indian nuclear satellite. All of which gives the impression that this is a Sci-Fi film. Which it is, in part, utilizing some very well-executed realistic-future sets and props. But more importantly, it’s a poetic tale of pursuing your dreams, understanding the connectedness of things, and one of the quickest tours of multi-cultural quirks ever captured on film. So why am I writing about this film now? Because a friend just gave me their 3-Disc PAL format DVD version. Part of the reason for the film’s original weak performance in the states was the fact that it was 160 minutes long, which is ironic, because the actual complete version on this disc is 280 minutes, in three parts. The original release was beautiful, but this even more beautiful-er. The additional footage smooths some minor bumps in the rhythm of the original release, and the breaks are perfectly timed for the plot points. It’s almost like watching an epic mini-series. Even if you never check out this film, check out the soundtrack, which in typical Wim Wenders fashion is an incredibly diverse and listenable mix including Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith, Jane Siberry with k.d. lang, T-Bone Burnett, Depeche Mode, U2, R.E.M., Can, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, and…Pygmies! Whenever I haven’t prepared a mix for a party I throw this on and people praise my genius.

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