Random Thoughts On A Random Day

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’m feeling random today, so have some random.
Today’s 4/20!
I’ve never really liked marijuana, and as such I can never really find a celebration of it all that entertaining.
I dunno.  Maybe it works for other people, but every time I’ve smoked marijuana I have really stupid thoughts that never seem to produce anything interesting in the light of day, then I eat until I’m sick.  Then the next day I feel tired and unmotivated.  It’s better than cigarettes in that at least I feel a radical initial high (as opposed to just coughing a lot), but the fetishization of pot just always makes me wonder what I’m missing out on.  So much of pot culture seems to idolize sitting around the house watching TV, and that’s mystifying.
I mean, hey, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it.  Pot should be legal, and I don’t have to get something to say, “Hey, you go ahead and have fun now.”  But in this case the experience of what other people have with pot deviates so much from my own that it’s actively bizarre to me to see people excited to smoke pot, let alone posting excitedly on Twitter going, “It’s 4/20, man, I can’t wait!”
On The Nebulas
Jim Hines said today that everyone nominated for a major award has the “What if I win?!?!” freakout.  I think it says something about me that I have not once ever thought that I’d win, something confirmed by Sauerkraut Station‘s lack of nomination for the Hugos.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to have been nominated.  It’s a major honor!  But my brain immediately went, “That’s as far as you’re gonna get, you’re going up against Rachel Swirsky and Geoff Ryman and Charlie Jane Anders, and those three alone would bury you.”  And I’ve gone on happily going, “I’m gonna attend the Nebulas!  As a nominee!” and never once attached the word “winner” to my head.
The things my brain chooses not to freak out about are odd indeed.
On Levon Helm
I think everyone who is lamenting the loss of music great Levon Helm should read Bart Calendar’s essay on his death, and feel shamed.
The short version is that Levon, a rich and successful man, was bankrupted by fifteen years of cancer.  And I think that’s the myth that conservatives are peddling to stupid people: that hey, if you’re smart and rich and have good health care, you’ll be okay.
Except, as anyone who’s ever actually fucking met someone who’s been through a large-scale disease knows, this is not actually true.  You can do everything quote-unquote right and still get fucked by our system.
I’ve talked to idiots who’ve said, “Well, if I get sick and I’m getting substandard treatment, I’ll just switch to a better insurance company,” as if the term “pre-existing condition” didn’t fucking exist.  I’ve talked to morons who’ve thought that if you had really good insurance, you’d be completely safe, and that the insurance would never run out or refuse a claim.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t know how good your insurance actually is until you get direly ill.  Every insurance company looks good on paper.  But they can screw you bureaucratically in a thousand ways.  And they’re incentivized to, since a for-profit organization loses money every time they pay for a sick person’s treatments.
And yes, I’m sure you’ve had your insurance claims go well for some major illnesses, conservatives.  That’s fine.  I’m glad yours went well.  But you don’t get to use anecdotes about the horrific failures of the European system as evidence that socialized medicine is evil without acknowledging the fact that some pretty damn well-off people have to work through cancer in order to keep their family afloat.  To acknowledge that the idea that “good insurance and wealth is a catch-all” is not a 100% shield against going bankrupt.
(G’wan.  Talk to my wife, the bankruptcy lawyer, about this.  She knows how many bankruptcies come from medical claims.)
In short, if you’re a fan of Levon Helm and against the socialized medicine and Obamacare, then take a look at the hell that you – yes, you – put him through and decide whether you’re really a fan.  Or whether your policies were fair.


  1. Paul
    Apr 22, 2012

    Ferret, before jumping all the way to “the system is fucked”, please consider also the possibility of “the culture is fucked”, especially when talking about cancer.
    There are several variables that I don’t know about this story: How much of that money was spent on unproven, experimental or bogus treatments? How treatable was this cancer? How much was he pressured by his family or friends to “keep fighting at any cost”?
    Everyone dies eventually, but lots of people don’t seriously contemplate that until something like serious illness forces some introspection, flailing, or blind panic. That’s when people spend stupid amounts of money for a few extra days or weeks of extreme discomfort. Maybe that happened here. And it would in no way be the fault of the insurance company that has to make decisions about what to cover and what not to cover based on what fits their cost/reward model. (I suspect that that model boils down to “chance to enable payment of future premiums” plus “chance to keep us from getting sued”, but that’s me.)
    Consider this article describing at least one alternate path.

    • Marc
      Apr 24, 2012

      You know, this is something that I’ve never understood about America. I can understand the gun fetishism, even if I don’t agree with it, and the rest of the stuff but this “If the states provides health care to the people then we are doomed!!!” completely baffles me.
      You want to get private health care, get an insurance? Go for it! But what is the problem if somebody who’s lees lucky need government help?
      It’s a mystery…..

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