Archive | August, 2009

Is Government Health Care Really the Best We Can Do?

30 Aug

Don't Cheer Me UpThe government’s proposed health care plan was written by some of the brightest minds in the country – our politicians. They spent many hours putting this thing together and I understand that one or two may have actually read it – a few pages anyway.

Like many Americans, however, I am a bit worried about some of the details – like the so called “death panels.” I’m concerned that some government bureaucrat may be able to decide who gets a pacemaker and who gets a pill.

If Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, for example, needed a pacemaker when he turns 90 years old, they might tell old Harry to swallow a pain pill instead. Is that fair??? Be nice!

Also the cost of this plan is huge and will grow huger (is that a word?). We’d have to bump off every senior citizen between New York and Seattle to keep costs under control. That could get a little ugly. Who will watch all those grandkids and read them bedtime stories? It won’t be mom or dad – they’ll be working 80-hours just to make enough take-home pay for groceries.

Of course, I could be exageratting. After all, AARP was looking at this plan and thought it had some merit. That doesn’t meant they endorsed it. It just means they liked it. I wonder what that means?

All this is coming at the verge of a new era in medicine. There is evidence that millions of Baby Boomers will live well into their 100’s and subsequent generations will live into their 120’s. According to these people, we won’t be feeble or suffer dementia until much later in life, which means that our 90’s could be full and productive. According to the Society of Actuaries, “Centenarians represent one of the fastest growing age groups in the U. S.”

In a CBSnews.com story from the AP, living to be 100 is easier than we think. The report says, “Surprising new research suggests that even people who develop heart disease or diabetes late in life have a decent shot at reaching the century mark.” To learn more about living to be 100, see the links at the end of this article.

There is also a lot of progress with new drugs designed to destroy cancer cells without the need for chemotherapy and surgery. In a Reuters report on MSNBC’s website, there are drugs in the works that can destroy cancer cells. See the links below for more information.

If all this happens, we won’t be able to justify saving money on grandma when she is 85 or 90 years old. Those “death panels” or “health committees” would have to postpone that decision until another 15 or 20 years which would drive health care into the stratosphere.

Maybe we should let the Free Market and individuals decide these things with their doctors and religious counselors. Maybe there is a better alternative. After all, we can always go back to the drawing board.

I think Republicans and Democrats should get together and write a smaller bill – one they can all understand. And maybe, then, we can have real solutions that let grandma read to her grandkids and tuck them in at night.

Links:

Issels: http://www.issels.com/Vaccines.aspx

Reuters on MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16297736/

Society of Actuaries: http://www.soa.org/research/life/research-living-to-100-and-beyond-search-for-predictors-of-exceptional-human.aspx

CBSnews.com: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/11/health/main3819003.shtml

Personality Can Be Fun

22 Aug

LatestWhat is your favorite topic? Is it history, movies, food? If you’re like most people, it’s you.

When we’re born, we’re slapped on the fanny and told to go find ourselves. The trouble is we don’t know how to go about doing that.

Back in the old days, a person learned about himself through other people. For example, if someone thought you were stupid, they told you. If they thought you were smart, they tried to borrow money from you.

Today, we are more sophisticated. We have all kinds of tools to help us out. Some people like astrology, hand-writing analysis, and fortune telling machines at their local carnival, but, most of us find personality tests to be the most reliable.

You take a test and the results tell you what career to pursue, what kind of person to marry, and how you make decisions. This can be very useful information – particularly when dealing with problems like job loss, bankruptcy and hemorrhoids.

Personally, I am a big fan of the Myers-Briggs test. Most professional counselors and human resource managers like it too. Listed below are some links to testing sites. If you have a free afternoon, try some of these tests and see if the results form an identifiable pattern. You might find it interesting.

To take the Myers-Briggs test, go to: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm or

http://www.myersbriggsreports.com/?gclid=COKMl8aIuJwCFSQeDQodTW7hoQ

To learn about tests for your entrepreneur abilities, aptitudes, career traits, and how funny you are, go to: http://www.2h.com/personality-tests.html

Those Revolting Computers

16 Aug

computer

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re at your computer workstation, ready to “boot up” when you suddenly get a message on your screen telling you that downloads were made the night before and you have four minutes before your machine automatically restarts.

Or, how about this one: You’re working on an important file and everything stops. You get another message that says something like this: “We’ve encountered a serious error (error: 12#H472-B6@559%%) and will have to quit.

Those little announces can become big problems that can happen at any time. What can we do to protect ourselves? It seems computers are starting to understand just how important they are to daily human activity and it’s going to their heads, or CPUs.

If you had a problem in the old days, you could just restart or shut down and it was solved. Today, if you try restarting, you get another message telling you that your computer will not shut down because it is in the middle of “correcting” your problem.

I tried waiting for my computer to “correct” my problem once. Three days later, I still had the same message.

I know that some of you “Mac” people are gloating because you like to think that your Macs don’t have these problems. Well, you’re right. They don’t have these problems, but they have problems. I work on both Macs and PCs and each has its own issues. Mac people tend to think of them as minor glitches. PC people, however, become frustrated and angry. Even Help Desks are becoming helpless.

Take my computer at work, as an example. Every morning I have to literally shut down and reboot in order for the thing to start. I’ve asked for help from the Help Desk and they just say, “Wow, that’s not supposed to happen.” Apparently, Help Desks are getting stumped by today’s new generation of computers.

Could it be that I upset my computer? Did I bang the keys too hard or go to a web site it didn’t like? Did it want a coffee break, or should I say a fresh shot of RAM? I don’t know, but I believe that at night, our computers talk to each other. I think they’re planning to organize.  Before you know it, we will have computer unions demanding vacation time and maternity leave for their little laptops. Will computers take over the world?

I say it is time for us humans to fight back and do the only thing we can do. Pull the plug. But then, who would read my blogs????

The New Economy

9 Aug

Old Econ.NewEcon

Apparently, the so called “New Economy” is a “Global Economy” designed to provide jobs for everyone in the world. Well, it certainly has provided jobs for people in China, India, South Korea, and Mexico – to name a few. But has it done anything for the good old USA?

So far, this move to a New Economy has made us the largest debtor nation in the world. It has exported a big chunk of manufacturing jobs and has given us a government that wants to save us by putting us in multi-trillion dollar debt.

I know I am a bit slow. After all, I’m just a cartoonist, but I am having some trouble understanding all of this. Democrats want to bankrupt us and Republicans want to export jobs to third world countries so we can have a “balance of trade” with the rest of the world.

The principle of trade balance is a good one. If I understand it correctly, we’re not supposed to export more value than we import – hence, everything stays in balance. But, it seems a bit too obvious to me that we are having trouble in that department. This value thing is kind of difficult to maintain.

One solution has been to devalue the dollar. I think it is supposed to increase the number of dollars it will take for foreign countries to buy our stuff. Or, to put it another way, our exports become cheaper making it more likely that foreign markets will buy them.

So far, our government has been very good at bringing the value of the dollar down. Both parties seem to have a real knack for it. But, according to a good web site for the economically-challenged like me, a devalued dollar does have some drawbacks.

In an 2007 essay written for economicshelp.org, the writer tells us that devaluation could lead to higher inflation and cites three reasons :

  1. Increase in exports causes rising AD and therefore could lead to demand pull inflation.
  2. Imported goods will be more expensive. American consumers would definitely experience a rise in price for many imported manufactured goods and imports of raw materials could increase costs of business.
  3. It is argued a devaluation reduces the incentive, for manufacturers and exporters, to cut costs and become more efficient.

Did you get all that?

Nevertheless, the writer of this essay says that our current economic slowdown diminishes the inflationary impact of the devalued dollar. “However, the impact of a devaluation” writes EconomicHelp, “depends on the state of the economy. As previously mentioned, the US economy is slowing down; therefore inflationary pressures are subdued and therefore inflation is unlikely to occur.”

So there you have it. We don’t need to worry about inflation from a devalued dollar because our economy is going into the tank which slows demand for our products. And we don’t have to worry about our products not selling because most of them are made elsewhere which means that someone else will be laid off. Right???

Of course, the average American is still left with the fact that his dollar buys even fewer things than it did ten years ago. That means that the people the president wanted to tax more – the ones earning more than $250,000 – are really not earning that much. This will ultimately raise taxes on people earning smaller incomes because they will soon be classified as rich.

At this rate, anyone earning more than $20,000 a year will be worthy of a tax hike. And, because the revenue from those taxes will be worth less, the government will probably have to increase those taxes higher than promised.
Imagine that.

I am not worried, however. As a cartoonist, my earnings are not likely to reach a taxable level. Whew! I can keep the 40 cents I made last year. Wait a minute… I forgot about health care.


Cartoons Are Good for Learning

2 Aug

Need a TrainerMany instructional designers, trainers, and educators already know the value of cartoons as a teaching device. For example, authors Audrey C. Rule, Derek A. Sallis, and J. Ana Donaldson wrote in an article for the Eric Resource Information Center (ERIC) web portal that “Incorporating humor through content-related cartoons is an effective way to engage students in deeper understanding of content and creative play with language.” Their article address a number of ways to help preservice teachers use cartoons to help elementary school students learn scientific concepts.

While the article may seem a bit too scholarly for most cartoon fans, it makes a good case for using cartoon humor as an educational tool in general and science in particular.

Another article makes a similar argument for adult learners. Eric Parks, Ph.D. is President/CEO of ASK International and a noted elearning philosopher. He has written for many industry publications including Training Magazine, Online Learning Magazine and IOMA Reports.

In an article for linezine.com, Parks writes about how he designed the elearning instruction for a major Fortune 500 client. Part of the design was to use eight characters to relay different aspects of the different learning objectives. His team chose to use cartoons.

“We chose to design custom cartoon-style graphics for the characters, and used photos of the products highly treated in Photoshop to minimize their size,” writes Parks. “Our goal was a 10-15 second screen display. If longer, we made sure that text would appear quickly on the screen allowing users to have something to read as their graphic illustrations loaded more slowly. Now we had what we thought was a motivating design and a workable graphic treatment.”

There you go. Whether you choose to design a curriculum for children or a four-week seminar for adults, cartoons can often make the difference between getting through or getting ignored.

Whenever I see a how-to book or some other kind of text designed to teach me something illustrated with cartoons, I am not only inclined to read it, I am compelled to buy it.

If you are in the business of designing learning experiences, writing textbooks, or teaching science to fifth graders, look into cartoons as a way to get those ideas across. You can try to develop your own, but, if you are like most people, you will quickly realize that cartooning is not as easy as it looks.

There is an answer, however. There are hundreds of sources for cartoons on a great variety of ideas. These cartoons are easily available at a nominal fee. You can also contact a cartoonist and ask for a cartoon on a specific idea. Usually, a cartoonist will have one that is perfect. If not, it isn’t that expensive to purchase one-time rights for a cartoon that the cartoonist will use again and again in the future.

If you like my stuff, you can let me know. Just e-mail jpcompartist@aol.com. I will either have the perfect cartoon for you, or I will create one.

For more information about the articles mentioned, go to the following:

http://www.linezine.com/3.1/features/epetid.htm

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED501244&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED501244