The High Cost of Chin Repairs

My bill from the University of Washington Medical Center just came.

Stitches: $219
Numbing shot: $155.85
Tetanus shot: $15.50

AND

3 hours of waiting in the emergency room:

$873.00

What the fuck? That room cost $300 an hour?!!?! I am in the wrong business!

The total bill came to $1,044.35

My bicycle cost $100. Helmet $30. Special seat $30.

Perhaps I should have spent $25 and had my bicycle looked at when I first noticed a problem.

I’m a moron.

AIDs, Cancer will never be cured…

… unless we change the way we currently motivate our best minds.

The world is flushing trillions of dollars down the toilet in the way it currently is trying to find a cure for deadly diseases. The incentive system is all wrong. Researchers and scientists have no pressure on them to cure a disease, all their motivation actually leans the other way. Why? They receive huge annual grants and tons of cash and live very comfortable lives with everyone around them thinking they are heroes. If they cure the disease, then they have to find a new purpose to their lives and their cash flow dries up. The current system doesn’t promote the best minds; it promotes those who have the best people skills at getting grants. How do we fix this? Change the motivational system; let private enterprise go to work. Take all the money that had been going to researchers and put it into a giant fund and give the award to the person or group that cures the disease. Venture capitalists, hedge fund managers and CEO’s will now determine the distribution of capital; and trust me, they will push HARD for results. Financial managers could care less about researchers’ people skills or seniority; all they want is the best of the best so they can see lots of black on the bottom line. The same power that pushed Brin & Page to create Google, or Gates to create Microsoft or Jobs to create IBM, or Henry Ford to invent efficient manufacturing will drive the best researchers and best ideas to the forefront and cures will be found with amazing rapidity.

The current system is inherently corrupt and will only move at a glacial pace as it hemorraghes resources. Put the enormous pressure of the free market on the problem and you will see it quickly unraveled. How many more have to die horrible deaths because our current system is incredibly stupid and inefficient?

Why has man sat still for so long?

For the last twenty years, the human species space program has languished. NASA is full of plodding, uncreative bureacrats. Our primary use of space now is for cell phone and television satellites. Our advances in outer space have slowed to a trickle of what they once were. Is this a problem? Consider the following:

For as long as man has existed, we’ve had all of our eggs in one basket: Earth. If something happens to Earth, we could face complete extinction. One rogue asteroid, powerful disease, nuclear/biological/chemical war, catastrophic climate change, loss of breathable atmosphere (from an anoxic event or destruction of the ozone layer), and on and on. We are sitting ducks for extinction.

Not only do we have these external threats, but we have threats coming from our own lack of knowledge. Did you know that when the scientists of the Manhattan Project tested the first atomic bomb, many of the scientists believed there was a good chance that the nuclear chain reaction would start and not stop until it had consumed all available fuel (i.e. the Earth)? Right now, physicists are building massive particle accelerators to collide particles and see what happens. The physicists have lots of theories, but since nothing has been proved yet, we don’t know what will happen. Think of how ironic it would be if they switched on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland (created to find the Higgs boson particle- often dubbed the God Particle) and a fraction of a second later humanity was completely destroyed. I think this is an extraordinarily unlikely scenario, but how many thousands of such experiments are going on all the time and what is the chance that something could go seriously wrong? I don’t think we should slow the advance of science, but we MUST find backup plans. The human species needs to diversify as soon as possible (colonies on other planets and in other galaxies). Nothing else should matter until we can do so. All 6 billion of us should dedicate our lives to doing so. As individuals, we may contemplate suicide, but as a species our biological imperative demands that we survive.

Part of the problem is that our outdated instincts are pushing us to go in the wrong direction; imagine if all the brainpower and creativity in the porn, entertainment, war, video gaming, and financial industries were redirected towards getting mankind off of this planet? We’d have a massive colony on Mars in three years and be light years further in ten. Prepare yourself for a leap forward soon in evolution- this inefficiency will be corrected the hard way.

If I was world dictator, I would rearrange incentive structures so as to give people the most possible motivation to get off planet. Every industry except the space industry would face high taxation and all of that tax money would be put into massive “reward” funds to be granted to the first company to achieve certain goals. To date, we have spent $455 billion dollars in the war in Iraq. Imagine if we put all of that money into a fund and said we’d give it to the first company to establish a self-sufficient colony on Mars with at least a 1,000 people populating it? Boeing would make a joint venture with Google and we’d be there in no time. Or one of the thousands of their competitors would reach it. We would require them to share all technology (since they’ve already collected their profit). Once one goal has been reached, we set an even loftier goal and start building a new fund. Harness the power of the market and unleash it for the good of mankind.

Ender’s Game

I just finished reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Great book and a fast read, I highly recommend it.

The story is about a young boy who has the greatest mind of any human alive, perhaps in history. Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar rolled up into one; except without their failings. Mankind had been attacked by an alien species that tried to colonize our planet twice and the boy is supposed to be the only hope for man to survive a true invasion. The book is extraordinarily well-written and the plot moves along at a brisk pace with lots of little interesting tidbits from the world created by Orson Scott Card.

Walden Pond/ Into the Wild

Perhaps I should have the Joel version of Walden Pond (Thoreau’s book about spending time alone) or Into the Wild (the dumbass hipster who went to have his own adventure in the wilderness and got eaten by a bear).

Just take some time off and do my own thing without anyone else. My job can be almost entirely devoid of human interaction if I want it to be. If I just went to work and did my own thing each day, and turned off my cell phone and email and instant messengers… I could be alone. I am interested in seeing how I would react to such circumstances. Loneliness, of course, would be the initial feeling. What would follow? Desperation? Peace? Rage? Despair? Utter joy? I don’t know. I probably should try the experiment just to get to know myself better. I am afraid of what I might find.

Reliability

Nothing is more frustrating to me than people who are unreliable and don’t do what they’ve said they’d do. My grandpa probably had a part in instilling this feeling in me, as well as the anger I had towards my parents when they didn’t follow through on their promises. I will stroll through hell’s heat or the arctic’s cold to ensure that I deliver on my word. If I don’t have my word, what is left?

Lexus SC 430

In my parking garage in my new studio, there is a new, black Lexus that parks next to me. It is a gorgeous vehicle and looking at it every time I go somewhere makes me want one. I probably will pull in late at night one night when I’m tired and scrape the side of it lol.

lexus.jpg

I don’t really care about material possessions though, as long as they are functional. The problem with my car is that it is having problems with the starter again and the radio doesn’t really work, so I may upgrade to a nicer vehicle. I don’t buy cars new, but maybe there’s a nice ’05 or ’06 Lexus SC 430 I can get for a decent price.

Consideration

Bestemor (my grandma) has been hammering on me for years to be more considerate of people. I think it’s finally starting to sink in. I try to help my family and friends whenever possible and think about others feelings and ideas carefully, even certain annoying coworkers lol. Bestemor has always been very caring for me, from helping me with the mundane tasks (dentist appointments, football practice), to fun stuff (skiing at the cabin, gifts) to the larger issues of life (where to go to college, what profession, how to treat people). She has given me a much better understanding of how to treat people.

Mercenaries in Iraq

According to a report prepared for Congress, there are about 30,000 “private security contractors” currently in Iraq performing military functions… aka mercenaries. There are another 182,000 people under U.S. government contracts operating in Iraq (these are builders, suppliers, engineers, etc.)

Most of the mercenaries are former military men, now employed by security firms such as Blackwater. Blackwater is a shady mercenary outfit run by a man named Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal. Blackwater is the largest private security contractor in Iraq and has been coming under heavy criticism recently for super-aggressive, violent tactics; however, Blackwater also has never allowed anyone guarded by them to be killed or seriously injured. Like most private companies, Blackwater is highly efficient in its job (protecting convoys, individuals), but there are unintended side effects. The Iraqis hate Blackwater for their cavalier violence and several incidences of their soldiers going on killing sprees.

Machiavelli talked about mercenaries and their usage extensively in “The Prince”. He said that they were at best “useless and dangerous”. Mercenaries are only loyal to the dollar and do not fight well against organized, strong opponents. Throughout history they have been known to turn on their employers when they sense weakness or a potential gain for themselves. The Roman Empire collapsed after it began to rely on paid troops rather than loyal citizen-soldiers. The American government needs to fight it’s own battles and not throw away billions on mercenaries who hurt our chances of successfully withdrawing from Iraq.