Saturday, December 18, 2004

Open Source Medicine

Ever go to a Doctor and have them say "You'll be fine in a week or two, just take it easy and drink plenty of water. Call if it gets worse." Or worse, they don't know what's wrong with you, but they tell you not to worry about it. Maybe you don’t have the money to go to a doctor in the first place. Maybe there aren’t any doctors around to go to.

Every industry has history, tradition and practices that are built on what came before. Sometimes this makes things less efficient, being stuck on a rut that doesn’t allow for innovation. Being a medical doctor is expensive and takes many years to achieve. Even nursing takes a lot of education. Some jobs in medical industry pay very well, and overall health care is a solid influential business. And it works. America has the best healthcare in the world. Doctors know what they are doing and are effective at healing people.

There's also an entrenched attitude both with doctors and the regular people they work with; medicine is mysterious. It's hard to learn and you should really leave it to professionals. After all, you don't want to make a mistake and kill yourself do you? Well, I have a different attitude. I'm a computer guy, in hobby and profession. I'm a collage student; I can learn detailed and complicated information. With a couple computers and an internet connection anyone can teach themselves to be a professional computer builder/repairman, programmer and administrator. Another thing you can find for free online, or for a small fee, is weapons instructions. How to build and use all sorts of bombs, guns, and blades. What I wish I could download is a manual, a simple, easy to use training guide for how to be a medical doctor. Start with first aid, and explain as you go how the body works, and how increasingly more serious injuries are dealt with. How bacteria and viruses work, and most of all, how to diagnose common illnesses. How more serious problems differ from common ones. Tables of medicines, what is used to treat what, and most importantly, how the drugs work, what they are actually doing with your body. If all this information was tied together in a simple format where the 'how to fix' parts are tied to how the body works I think a document could be created that would allow the common 'man on the street' to take care of simple and recoverable medical problems, and be able to go to a doctor well informed when a more serious issue arises.

The reason I think this way is because of doing computer tech support. Amongst ourselves computer people complain about 'idiot users' who need to use computers to do their work, but don't know how their computers work, and don't want to learn how. It's very frustrating to answer the same simple questions, and those who have the patience for it try to teach users as they go along so you don't have to fix the same problem again. Information for important things should be freely available, or at least easily accessible. Just like many people have computers and need to learn how to use them responsibly, everyone has a body, and should know how it works and how to do simple diagnostics and repair at the least.

There is medical info available online, you can look up diseases and symptoms. It's not always easy to know what's backed up by traditional medical science and what's just guessing. There's no solid training manual checked and ok'ed by doctors and nurses. I think we really need one. Anyone can learn. People who are poor, or who happen to live in 3rd world countries need medical training. It could mean people don't need to go to the doctor for 'easy stuff', leaving the medical profession to concentrate on serious and complex cases. It would help people see if they are interested in medicine enough to want to learn more and become a MD. And finally, an accessible manual of medical knowledge and people who are familiar with it will help people be better prepared for mass disaster. We really shouldn’t be ignorant.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Winter Poem

White snow, smoothness covering the dead nakedness of the earth.
Hectic busyness like sleep interrupted by constant phone calls.
Beautiful events filled with holy meaning. Then;
Pay with plastic. You're obligated to make someone happy.
Happy times with family. Or will they speak to each other?
Cold and wet are all around. The ground stores water for a year of green.
The lights are so pretty when they blink. But can we see the stars?
Tired tires spin pointlessly. a ton of steel, plastic and flesh slides into a tree.
Black branching branches against a grey sky.
Nature shows us less, and it is beautiful.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

winter drive poem


I sit
On a slope

Kind hands
Push behind
I creep up
And drive away

Kindly helping
Kept me from backsliding
Into their stuck cars

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bringing Back Soap Operas

No, I don't want a revival of low quality relationship dramas; I'm remembering the origin of the term. Soap Operas came about by soap companies funding shows for women which included ads for their product. So:
1. Get a corporate sponsor
2. Write some entertaining fiction that mentions their product, and some themed ads
3. Profit!

This does happen in various forms still, and is a controversial topic in some circles. There's the argument that sponsorship corrupts your artistic vision. I think your personal focus is the issue, not the way you get paid, and a well made and revisable contract can keep both parties satisfied.

Think of the benefits. A company large enough to afford sponsoring something will already has a marketing department that could play agent for you. The point is to join mediums; a companies products and someone's fiction, the company helps get you into the market, where you make their product appealing.

The trick is getting the right fit, a company with products you can support, and you having the talent to make their venture worthwhile.

An old media opportunity like this has came, gone and could be again. I like the old radio stories. Wouldn't it be great to hear "And now..." "...Brought to you by..."

TV, radio, print, comics; come on, who's game? I'd like to sell some soap!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Friendly Reminder

This is addressed to those of you who are over 30, or 40, who are in the news media, those of you who don't understand why those punk kids wear shorts and stocking caps the year 'round.

Don't tease us. Sometimes what you see can be pretty stupid, I can't speak for everyone in the preteen-to-young adult culture. We aren't unified. We aren't the new enlightened generation. The current youth culture is divided into a wide variety of subcultures and I only subscribe to a few. I watch the other ones, because they're like neighbors ya know? What I'd like to address here is a couple underlying issues that are widespread and basic, and ultimately flow over into other areas of human life as well.

One of those fundamental issues is respect.

I was listening to a lively young talk show host; female, 40ish, she had a good style to talk politics and news. I was wondering what she'd say if she ran into a news article that mentioned one of the youth subcultures I'm involved in; furry fandom. Basically, it's about playing games and reading media that has humanlike animals instead of human characters. I doubt she could handle the topic well; it's too far removed from the interests of "responsible" adults. That's what started this whole train of thought. There is a good many similar examples, and actual cases where the adults of the status quo misunderstand, misinform and misrepresent the interests and practices of youth culture.

All people tend to belittle things they don't understand. To use an example older adults will understand: In business and government foreign policy, and when considering dealings with foreigners it is understood you need to be considerate of their differences. You may not understand them very well, but you know that the foreigners you are dealing with are honored or important in their country or business, and therefore you need to accommodate them and be understanding.

Just looking at youth culture examples and not many other areas, we most often learn about other people's culture and interests from negative press. The day to day happenings of a subculture don't get noticed. So if you hear about furry fandom it will likely be because of something inappropriate being peddled to children, some bizarre crime, someone's embarrassing mistake, some example of today's decadency or weirdness. So Ms. Status Quo reading the newspaper is likely to think we're a bunch of looser freaky kids and dangerous adults wasting time on the internet.

Much could be argued about the merits and problems of one person's lifestyle over another. This isn't the place for that. What I would like is to find - sometime before you're all in nursing homes and my peers and I are running the mainstream culture - is a news article, a comment, someone's statement that treats some youth culture item with respect. That's what most "kids" want. You don't have to like our hobbies, fiction and music, we'd just like you to recognize that what you just heard about is liked and enjoyed by people, not "mindless punks". Don't assume the worst until you've researched and understand the field. The strangeness of youth culture isn't going to go away. It only changes amongst itself, and spreads in influence as those involved grow older. No matter how much you disagree and/or dislike something, if you show their side some respect, then it gives them the opportunity to respect you. Common decency isn't gone; it is the backbone of most all subcultures, hobbies and lifestyles. It's just communicated differently. This communication problem can be quite difficult between some subcultures. In this modern era, geographic and language differences are greatly diminished. With transportation and a handful of common languages, you can interact with anyone. What we have now is steep subculture differences; so the suit wearing professional on Wall Street has a very hard time understanding his blue haired raver son. But both desire respect.

The new and old generations ultimately want the same things. We want people to like us. We want to pursue our interests. We want to create valuableness of some sort. So please don't tease us. We will be where you are one day, and I don't think you'd like it vary much.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Rain drips from the eves like tears.
The sun is setting, hiding its face from sorrow.
Why do the drops sparkle in the fading light?
Don't they know the pain here?
They twinkle white.
Rain tears.
Why do they have to be so beautiful now?

I don't write poetry. Exsept when I do. I don't think I could if I tried, and the stuff scares me, so I don't. Exsept. This time I was sleepy, sitting in the dark, listening to sad celtic music, and chatting online with a sad person. So like, yeah.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Grey-Blue Lounge

“I got done talking to Manuel; the plane’s fueled and ready to go by sunrise.”
“It’s eight hours till then.”
“How do you want to spend it?” Michael grinned.
“We could sleep, most people do that.”
“Eh, I did that last night. I don’t know how you got into this game - thinking like that. A guy can only take so much boredom. There’s a decent little bar around the corner. Let’s go.”

After an hour of sitting in a smoky bar, watching a Latin girl sing backed up with fragments of a jazz band;
“You consider this fun?”
“No. But it’ll do.” Michael said, lighting another cigarette.
“You have problems with disturbing dreams don’t you?”
“Shut up! No. I don’t know how you make it in this game saying stuff like that.”
“That’s why I’m in it. I can see the truth.”
“Whatever. Shut up. Yer ruining the atmosphere.” The tip of Michael’s cigarette glowed red.
“I don’t think it’s fair to leave Manuel out of his share of the gold certificates.”
“Never talk about business in public!!!” Michael hissed.
Dusty stayed silent a while. He then picked up a coin at his elbow and twiddled with it, twirling it and dropping it on the counter.
“That’s mine.”
“Um humm.” Dusty flick-threw the coin towards the singer, it hit her silk wrapped breast with an audible smack. She stopped with a yip, the band’s song fell a part a moment later.
“What’s your problem?! You said everything was fine!”
“I’m sorry; I told you how I work.”
The furious lady stormed towards them.
Dusty leaned against Michael, removing Michaels’ auto as he whapped his arm around his partner. With a shout of Yeah-ha-haaa! Dusty fired a half dozen shots into the ceiling. He then shifted back to his own seat and slumped forward on his arms; dead asleep from all appearances. Angry voices and people overran the singer, crowded hands grabbed Michael.
“I didn’t do nothing!! He did it, you saw him!”
“He has been sleeping there all evening senior. You are going with us to the police!”
“You there! You were looking at us! Tell them! Lady, you saw! I was just sitting…” Michael saw their eyes. They didn’t believe him.
“Dusty! Dusty! Dammit; take him for questioning too!”
The mass of locals and travelers hanging on to Michael moved him toward the door, telling him to shut up and leave an innocent man alone. They where carrying Michael now; he was looking back, shouting at his partner.
Dusty looked back at Michael.
Dusty spoke, his quiet words seemed to project through the crowd and noise. “I’m sorry; I told you I follow orders. You never specified whose or what skills not to use. I’m sorry.”
The last thing Michael saw of Dusty was human features melting to dark grey fur, solid black eyes and muzzle.

In the morning Dusty was still asleep when Manuel flew the plane a different direction.

This story is 495 words long. I wrote it in less than an hour, which was surprising to me. It was inspired by instermental music I heard on a Winamp internet radio station: Secret Agent: The soundtrack for your stylish, mysterious, dangerous life. For Spys and P.I's too! It's listed under the genre of 'Downtempo Lounge Spy'. It's not a station I frequent. Let me know what you think.