Archives for posts with tag: World War II

 

1.

Before I hit the doctor’s office I stepped into Regen Projects on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Owned by Shaun Regen this is by far the most interesting gallery in LA and consistently shows challenging and stimulating work.

Regen Projects is currently showing work by German artist John Bock.

Born 1965, Gribbohm, Germany

Lives and works in Berlin.

The show reminded me (inevitably) of fellow German Martin Kippenberger.

Kippenberger is one of my favorite artists.  His work has been inexcusably and crudely plundered by the YBA (Young British Artists).

Bock influences  include: Paul McCarthy, Otto Muehl, Paul Thek and Maurizio Cattelan.

John Bock is a performance artist and sculptor whose three-dimensional works often serve as props for his performances.

Bock creates entire universes using a wildly eclectic range of materials, described in multiple languages, and presented with an antic energy that is equal parts mad scientist and Buster Keaton.

A dizzying mix of pseudo-scientific, aesthetic, social, and political commentary,  Bock’s works defy logic.

This view of the world has various precedents, notably in the post World War II Theatre of the Absurd, a movement whose goal was to shock audiences into facing up to life “in its ultimate, stark reality.”

Bock believes the pre-conscious associations inherent in words are unavoidable and that only through experience and empathy can we penetrate what he terms the “heavy numb dumb world” of daily life.

Bock’s lectures seduce and confound, simultaneously proving perhaps, the inexplicability of the interrelationship of man and his universe.

2.

When I let God take the reigns of the humble buggy I drive down the promised path of happy destiny I am sure of one thing: things are going to turn out just the way they are meant to.  Good and bad.

When I angrily push him out-of-the-way and drive myself I am sure of nothing.

I used to think that if I let God take control of my life, my life might be ever so slightly boring but that simply isn’t the case.  God and I can still go on a wild ride, we can still have excitement and ambition.   We just do it the right way.

I get to have all that life has on offer without paying the terrible price I seem to pay when I wilfully drive the buggy myself.

I used to think (convinced myself) that doing the right thing meant that I had to live a pious life.

This simply isn’t true.  God doesn’t want me kneeling at his feet all day praying that his will be done.  He knows that I believe in his will being done, but what I have come to understand of late is that his will needn’t be dull.

Everyday things get better in my head.  Everyday without the grip of obsession, compulsion and the like I am calmer, more centered, more and more in my own skin.

Getting back to work and in touch with my God-given desire to create (and a means to do so) I feel more like the man I was meant to be rather than the man I have been lately.

Yesterday I went back to the doctor, had more scans and lo and behold there are yet more problems to deal with.  The difference between this time and the last is that I now have a skill set to deal immediately and healthily with these problems rather than the last time when I associated the problem with him.

It is remarkable to me that for nearly a year I let somebody else rule my head and my heart.  By so doing I allowed the deep shadow cast by another to blot out the sunlight of the spirit.

When I talk about God I don’t mean a christian…organised religious God.  I mean a God of my understanding, a higher power to whom I must defer at all times if I am going to live a healthy life.

The last few days of our great adventure.   We left Sanary and the Hotel de la Tour yesterday morning taking time to stop at the market to buy chicken, fruit, macaroons and a delicious loaf of artisan bread.  Fruit included huge white peaches, yellow plums and sweet apricots.

We loved Sanary Sur Mer and were delighted to discover that Aldous Huxley lived there.  After 1933, when Hitler came to power, dozens of German intellectuals took refuge in what was then just a sleepy fishing port – amongst them Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann.

The road along the coast is not nearly as busy as one might expect.   We drove through Toulon which was badly bombed during the 2nd World War and onto the Iles d’Hyeres where we ate the delicious chicken and fruit on a huge beach and swam in very warm water.   The little dog is not allowed on any of the beaches so we smuggle him everywhere in his little bag where he sleeps contentedly.

After lunch I call Edouard who, by amazing coincidence, lives a mere hour away from where we were swimming so we arranged to stop in on him and his visiting Australian friends.  Edouard’s parents house is a Provencal gem.  A huge pool overlooking the ocean, hundred year old terracotta tiles and elegant furnishings.

Nearby we found a small hotel for the night called the Hotel de la Plage recommended by the Guardian Newspaper (described as Cheap and Chic) where I am now sitting at 8am under the unusually fragrant Oleander writing this and answering emails.

We joined Edouard and the Australians for a lazy afternoon swim in the tiny bay.

After our delicious swim they drank chilled rose and I citron presse.  The young men tidying the beach were, as usual, gorgeous.  The companion noted that Europeans are generally hairless.  As the sun set we lazily climbed the hill back to Edouard’s house and they grilled Daurade Royale for dinner which was totally delicious.

The Australians are singers.  Julia Gurry and her brother are Melbourne based folk singers and are currently touring France this Autumn.  Abby Dobson was also at the house as she is dating Julia’s brother.  Abby used to be the singer in a band called Leonardo’s Bride and had a huge hit with a sweet love song in the 90’s called Even When I’m Sleeping.  Abby entertained us with astrological analysis.  Apparently Cancer’s are prone to be moody.  Who knew?

The more tired I get the worst my stick shift driving becomes.   The car is full of dirty underwear.  Must find laundry.

We were meant to be staying with friends in St Tropez, people I had royally accommodated when they were visiting LA..anyway, they have totally let us down.  Really puts one off hosting anyone ever.

Occasionally dip into the Huffington Post but too depressing and bleak and all those damned pop up advertisements!   Arianna addicted to bad news and gloating…too many tabloid elements.

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me in hospital

From Steve Dunkley, first published on the BBC news website…with a few edits by me.

I should have credited him previously but failed to do so.  Sorry about that Steve!

If I do quote other writers I usually highlight in italics.

Duncan

Forgive the pun, but I’m sick of listening to the ideological bigotry being used by both sides in the current debate over healthcare reform. Even the fallacy that the debate could possibly be encapsulated by “two sides” makes me so angry. The very idea that being able to shout louder than someone else or that a few words written on a placard contributes anything to a debate on such an important issue is simply asinine. Such behavior, including mindless chanting of simplistic slogans, effectively halts all objective discussion and obscures the real issues.
So, stop mouthing off, stop quoting anecdotal examples and stop using prefabricated, emotive labels designed to perpetuate already polarized thinking.
This maybe a revolutionary idea, but why don’t we start looking at factual evidence backed up by legitimate research. Yes I know this a new concept, but just bear with me for a while, you never know, we might then draw some reasoned and sensible conclusions.
Here are some facts:
• The United States of America does not have the best health system in the world
• The United States of America does not have the worst health system in the world
• The United States of America has some of most advanced healthcare expertise in the world
• The United States of America’s delivery of overall healthcare and its health outcomes do not compare well to most other industrialized countries
• The United States of America has the capability to offer expert treatment to patients of all ages
• The United States of America has an illogically high incidence of infant mortality and avoidable death rates

Here are some factual statements and observations:
• The United States of America spends more (per capita) on administering the bureaucracy of its healthcare than any other country in the world. Sometimes by a factor of three or four over countries with effective universal systems.
• There is no particular reason why employers should continue to be responsible for providing healthcare. It is an invidious practice that can be extremely detrimental to both employee and employer interests. The practice has its origins in the pay freezes of World War II, yet now seems entrenched in the American working life. Why should your employer decide what health cover you get? Your family physician doesn’t tell you where you should work!
• There is no reason why a national, universal health plan should increase individual or government healthcare costs. Individual tax costs will increase but, if a scheme is implemented effectively, there will be no health insurance premiums to pay. Employers should no longer have to pay their portion to the insurers and there should be no co-pay. In case you missed that – NO CO-PAY! Your employer may even pass his or her savings on to you as a wage increase.
• Effective preventative healthcare makes an enormous contribution to the quality of life and the longevity of that life. In the current situation prevailing in the United States of America, there is little incentive for health insurers to finance preventative care. The premise is that, as people change jobs and healthcare insurers, the financial benefits of preventative medicine might be enjoyed by organizations other than those that originally funded it.
• Viewed from afar, the citizens of the United States of America are hypochondriacs obsessed by illness. This hypochondria is fueled by a constant barrage of television commercials for prescription drugs containing information that should only really be evaluated by competent medical professionals. Trendy acronyms only exacerbate the obsession – why not become obsessed by health and wellness instead?
• Market forces and human nature are generally inappropriate in healthcare. Physicians are encouraged to treat where treatment is perhaps unnecessary. Pharmaceutical companies need a steady stream of new illnesses, gullible or mercenary physicians and new drugs to keep them in business. Health insurers need to be able to promise nurturing care from cradle to grave and yet be able to deny treatment on all possible occasions.
Now that you’re thinking about shouting or painting a placard, here are some comparisons that will restore your faith in man’s inhumanity to man
Universal schemes can only provide the greatest good for the greatest number and will spend any and all amounts of money provided
Private schemes will drop you if it looks as though you might get a long-term illness
• Universal schemes will always treat acute cases first and will generally do these well. less urgent cases may well wait some time for treatment
• Private schemes will treat your acute or less urgent conditions entirely in respect of financial considerations, but will have you back in your car about the same time the anesthesia wears off, often causing you to come back again (with another co-pay) in a couple of days
• Universal schemes often provide unintentional long-term accommodation for the homeless
• Private schemes always use the latest and most expensive treatments irrespective of whether they are superior to proven treatments.
• Universal schemes are often unwilling to adopt new procedures until cost and/or patient benefits have been established

Here is a dirty word:
Single-Payer
Actually it’s two words, but you get the drift. Most universal or national health schemes operate this policy. Supporters of the status quo in United States health policies consider it blasphemy. It is a prime example of the emotive labeling so apparent in current healthcare discussions.
Single-payer simply means that payment for medicines and treatment comes from a single source. That single source is the organization that operates the health service – almost invariably the government. Pharmaceutical companies and medical practitioners abhor this policy because they are unable to play numerous payers (with differing priorities) off against each other. Instead they have to deal with a single body that has the single objective of balancing cost and patient benefit – more simply known as value for money. The VA health system bureaucracy “sorta-kinda” operates in a similar way to single-payer.
This does mean that many medical practitioners will get less for the work that they do. Pharmaceutical companies will undoubtedly claim that they will be unable to research new treatments. Personally, I can live with this because the physicians that earn substantially less will only be those who have been financially focused in their practices. Pharmaceutical companies will continue to research and develop because that is what they have to do to exist. Maybe these new pressures will force them to be more focused on effective remedies? Am I the only person who wonders whether drug companies develop new products and then look for an illness to treat with it? The objective of a healthcare system is to look after the receivers of that healthcare – not to make a few professionals obscenely wealthy.
The bottom line is that the current healthcare systems (in terms of delivery and outcomes) in the United States of America are ineffectual and probably irreparable in their current form. Federal and state politicians are scared to death of the pharmaceutical lobby and failure to be re-elected (but then I repeat myself). The AMA represents the interests solely of the medical profession and has stood four-square in the way of any proposed initiatives that benefit patients at the expense of their members. I don’t think insurance companies care one way or the other because they think they will still get a large slice of the cake whatever happens. When it dawns on them that single-payer may become a reality, they will get the rest of the politicians that the pharmaceutical companies missed.
It should not (and cannot) be beyond the wit of the US Government to take the time to investigate the healthcare schemes that are the most successfully operated in other industrialized countries. Surely, somewhere in this nation, we have officials with the ability to judge and evaluate the best of those and surely we have the expertise to implement such a scheme here.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC), in 2003/2004, per capita health expenditure in the United States of America was $6,120 (15.3% of GDP), life expectancy was 77.5 years and infant deaths, per thousand, were 6.9. During the same period in Japan, per capita health expenditure was $2,249 (8% of GDP), life expectancy was 81.8 years and infant deaths, per thousand, were 2.8.
Here are some final kickers. How can the country that considers itself the most advanced economy in the world, allow its citizens to be denied preventative healthcare because of corporate avarice? How can it allow around 700,000 families each year to bankrupt themselves seeking healthcare? How can it let people die for lack of healthcare?
For those that say government cannot afford universal healthcare, consider this: in 2003 (according to the World Health Organization) the United States government spent more, per capita, on healthcare than each of the governments of the United Kingdom and Sweden. Two countries that each have universal healthcare, the citizens of these countries did not have co-pays and both countries achieve generally better health results than the United States of America can boast.
Personal net expenditure on healthcare would drop significantly under a properly implemented universal scheme and a single payer scheme would have the potential to cut billions of wasted dollars out of administrative costs.
Finally, President Obama’s scheme will not work because it does not address the fundamental underlying problems. The supporters of the status quo will gladly watch the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare rise to 20% in the unreasoned belief that the marketplace will deliver effective healthcare and that we already have (of course) the best healthcare in the world. Basically we’re screwed!

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