24 November 2009

The Ultimate Reality Game

As I believe I've mentioned before, I work for a media relations service that prefers to remain anonymous in employee blogs (lest we say something disrespectful, I suppose, or reveal the plot for the next Twilight absurdity*). I will say that we have many clients in both the health/pharma and entertainment industries. The other day, I realized what a synergistic combination these two could become.

Attend: Pharma companies spend millions going through elaborate clinical trials to prove that their drugs are effective against any number of diseases. Entertainment companies scramble to find the next big reality show. How about we combine their efforts?

Survivor: [Disease of the Season]!!!

Considering its topicality, we could start season one with Survivor: Flu. Two or more teams get drugs that may or may not cure a disease, and we get to watch. Imagine the potential drama - Team A puts a mole in Team B to sabotage the results; one half of a family gets Drug 1, the other half gets Drug 2; someone on Team A is a (secret) drug addict; etc.

It's a win-win situation for the drug companies and the viewing audience! (Though not, admittedly, for the poor schmucks who get ineffective drugs or the placebo.)

Potential future shows:
Survivor: Plague
Survivor: Ebola
Survivor: Leukemia
Survivor: Crohn's Disease

For comic relief, we could have a season of Survivor: Jittery Leg Syndrome or Survivor: Warts.**

* To be fair to my employers, I do understand their concern that truly sensitive info doesn't get out in a public forum before its owners wish.
** For the truly dense: This is not meant as a serious proposition. It's called satire, though I do not claim to reach the rarified heights of a Jonathan Swift.

Things to Be Thankful For? #3 - The Israeli Supreme Court

I don't often have good things to say about the Israeli government but their Supreme Court often surprises one with their wisdom and insight.

Case in point is a recent ruling made concerning the legitimacy of private prisons. In an 8-1 decision, the Israeli court determined "that incarceration infringes on such fundamental liberties that only the state should carry out this function, not least since the alternative is to turn prisoners into a means of extracting profit. `Economic efficiency is not a supreme value, when we are dealing with basic and important rights for which the state has responsibility.'"

What heresy!

The care of prisoners should not be left in the hands of people whose sole motivation is to make money.

One might extend this to the prosecution of wars, as well.

Things to Be Thankful For? #2 - Indoor plumbing

Do I really need to elaborate?

Of all the achievements of human civilization, "indoor plumbing" has to rank up there in the Top 5.

I trained to be a historian. I would love to travel back in time to see all sorts of things. But I wouldn't want to stay anywhere much before 1900 without a flush toilet (or, to accommodate water conservationists) any form of toilet.

Things to Be Thankful For? #1 - Healthcare "reform" debate?

How mortally damaged is our democracy that the Democrats declare it a great victory when they win a procedural vote to allow debate on a healthcare reform bill? Not, mind you, an up-or-down vote on a bill. Not even a vote on a critical amendment. But a vote on whether or not to allow the Senate to simply talk about a bill. And the leadership had to kow tow to Lincoln, Landrieu, Nelson and Lieberman to get that!

The Senate has not been a great deliberative body for a long time (and even back in the day, their reputation was exaggerated) so maybe the Republicans were hoping to spare us a tedious round of endless speechifying? I doubt it. It seems to me that the Republicans (and their faux Dem allies) are afraid that some real information might leak out to the public if a debate were to take place - like that fact that no civilized country on the planet (including free-market bastion Switzerland) allows its citizens to suffer so at the hands of for-profit, private insurance companies.

But should the question of debate even be up for a vote? Why is the agenda of the Senate subject to a vote? It's the responsibility of the majority party to set the agenda and if they want to debate something, then the minority should just deal with it.

We've long lost sight in this nation that our society is made up of different interest groups. Some of those interests are complementary, some relationships are neutral, some are going to be actively antagonistic, and many overlap. At the moment, unfortunately, the only representation we have is that of the financial elites, who've managed to convince over the last 30 years that bloody, unregulated capitalism is a benison.

12 November 2009

Armistice Day - 2009

Another Armistice (aka Veterans) Day and another year where America and her legions appear to have gone out of their way to make the world a more violent place.

I tried to find something positive to mention here and this is the best that I could do:

MIA dog found in Afghanistan after 14 months

And as for the continued insanity of the Long War:

Britain's last WWI veteran shuns Remembrance Day (the UK's equivalent of Veterans)

And remember, Next Wednesday, Nov. 18, is the second anniversary of Collateral Damage Day!