Friday, October 2, 2009

Cool technology post from Dr. Halamka

Not only is this cool, I believe the Japanese have been doing this kind of thing for a while. Your next computer that does something useful (i.e., something other than helping you work) will fit in your hand. It actually already does - you just tend to use earphones to connect to it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What is a "post Christian?"

My good friend asked me this a few days ago. He must have peeked at my Facebook profile.

First, to be a Post-Christian, you have to have been a Christian. No exceptions there. So why not "ex-Christian?"

Think of it like being in "recovery." You still know you like the juice but you know it's really not healthy for you. You're attracted to the content, but you know it to be much less than it makes itself out to be.

You've concluded that the categories and concepts of Christianity no longer work. They don't apply to modern existence nor can they be reconciled with the knowledge humans now have of sociology and psychology let alone the cultural and historical origins of Christianity.

The categories represent circular logic, are dishonest, superstitious and often produce the opposite behavior of what they value. They may be more harmful than helpful.

The irony is that to label these beliefs as harmful implies a center from which to evaluate. You can call it a moral center, oddly enough, formed by an impulse some would call uniquely "Christian." So Christian maturity leads to the rejection of itself. Somewhere within Christian tradition is the commitment to honesty and justice that produce the seeds of its own demise.

Yet, the attraction for the central "theme" is still there. It's not easy to walk away from the counter-cultural moral power of Jesus the man. It's not easy to walk away from the concept that there is a spiritual dimension at the core of life.

The post-Christian looks ahead, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to a "religionless Christianity." He or she contemplates a future where dogma is dead but where love is alive. Lifestyle without name. Morality without "God."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Representative Anthony Weiner on Bill Maher last night

Catch Real Time replays if you can to see NY Rep Anthony Weiner eloquenly explain why Medicare for all is such a good idea. Look at him as another rising star in the Democratic Party. But also look at the reason and good sense a single payer system makes.

Instead of our >1000 page health care reform bill and all of the crazy debate, I could have settled for a single line change in the current Medicare law lowering the qualifying age to zero.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Analogies are good!

President Obama used a helpful analogy when explaining why a public health insurance option won't be a "government takeover" of the healthcare system or put insurance companies out of business. He reminded us that we have great examples of state sponsored colleges and universities which have not taken over higher education or ruined private universities.

If this analogy is lost on the general public, then how about our system of government funded libraries? I don't think libraries have ruined the bookselling business.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recurring theme

Humans have been on earth for at most 500,000 years. Dinosaurs - 165 million. Think we'll outlast 'em?

The sun will support life for about 500 million. There's time.

I guess being the only ones who evolved to "figure it all out" is no guarantee we can outlast pea brained reptiles. On the other hand, Bonobos and Chimps have another opportunity to spawn something more advanced than us in the remaining time available.

It better be Bonobos because our worst violent instincts mirror Chimpanzees and then we'll have to do it all over again.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What I did this summer

Mt Whitney. The boys and I did not make it all the way this summer. Next time. I was the slow one (go figure) .....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Technology and Healthcare Reform

Healthcare gets cheaper when healthcare gets more efficient. And people get healthy when healthcare is efficient. One of the ways toward efficiency is technology. And since it's all about the handoffs between providers, the technology is about health information exchange.

For exchange to work best, you need standards and a critical mass of adopters. These are "helped" along by government. One asks, "Why the government?" Well, even the most libertarian of those who don't want the government to tread on them use our freeway systems and complain about toll roads. We've all learned to consider driving a "right." We just haven't reached the same conclusion on healthcare. If we did, we'd demand government sponsored information exchange and bristle at privately controlled healthcare delivery for the privleged. We got our roads, and our innovation built the rest.

Therefore, if the government provides a way to exercise a right, we don't even notice the government is involved. For driving, they just connect all the locations and leave it to us to navigate.

Airwave regulations are similar. And so are the standards we're trying to adopt in healthcare information technology. You can extend the logic to payment systems but we'll keep this to technology right now. With healthcare reform, we can reach the necessary tipping point to make the technology component empower the delivery system.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Hey, try this sometime. It's a lost art.

Remembering Ted

Remembering Ted Kennedy. As a high school kid I saw him give a campaign speech for his brother Robert. I'll never forget it. His gag line was that Bobby always reminded him to remember who the candidate was. He was quite caught up in the ideas so he probably forgot and thought he was running himself. As a kid, not yet able to vote, I had to choose between Bobby and Gene McCarthy. The young, slim, dark haired Ted helped sway me toward Bobby.

Story qualifies as childhood tragedy. I got a little tired of the violence of hate in our society that year. Shaped my whole future. Don't like seeing these guys showing up at Democratic town halls or presidential speeches with firearms on display. If I had any guts, I'd show up at the next local Republican brandishing my Remington 30.06 to see if they really believe what they say about gun rights.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lowering Expectations

From an exchange on Facebook. Sounds pretty good so I post it here.

Don't expect kids to go to Harvard. got it.

Don't expect health care reform. bummer.

Don't expect human species to last until the sun burns out. not an immediate bummer but sad.

Don't expect your god to actually exist. oooooo, that hurts.

Ecclesiastes: All is vanity. Lower your expectations.

Jesus: Parable of the sower says on average only 25% of your plans will work out (seeds sprout).

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Q: Are you a Christian?
A: That depends on what you mean by “Christian.”

If you mean someone who
- believes in God as a supernatural being who intervenes in history, bestows blessings on some people more than others, is influenced by prayer and requires people to hold a specific set of beliefs expressed through traditional Christian creeds and formulas;

or if you mean someone who
- believes the Bible literally either as objective history or even as objective revelation;
- calls it the inspired "word of God;"
- believes it to be inerrant and of divine origin;
- understands salvation to be based on a cosmic transaction whereby Jesus suffers and dies as a sacrifice to God in order to satisfy the punishment people otherwise deserve for their sins;
- understands the Nicene creed literally;
- believes that eternal life is continuing life after death in a heavenly “place” as a reward for believing the right things;

or if you mean someone who
- divides the world into believers and unbelievers;
- often sees human culture as primarily secular and as a threat to faith;
- includes patriotism as a godly virtue;
- sees Christianity as the exclusive path toward God and salvation;
- accepts uncritically wealth, comfort, and the highest standard of living in the world as something to preserve;
- believes that war is acceptable under some or many circumstances;
- believes that America has a divine mission to spread its form of democracy, its way of life, or a specific set of values;

then, I would emphatically say I am not a Christian.

If you mean someone who
- trusts that there is a divine center to life sometimes called “God”;
- believes that knowing this center intimately is of ultimate concern;
- understands it to be a source of personal transformation;

or if you mean someone who
- believes that spiritual and personal transformation occurs through contact with some of the Old Testament, New Testament, collected wisdom of Christian thinkers and mystics, and especially with as much of the authentic teachings of Jesus Christ as can be discerned from early Christian literature;
- believes that a transformed spiritual life can be cultivated within many of the traditional Christian worship activities;

or if you mean someone who
- welcomes the spiritual pursuit of all religions including activities not necessarily identified as religious;
- seeks understanding and cooperation among all such adherents;
- opposes religious fanaticism and exclusionism;
- sees religious language as the symbolic means of understanding a more universal and generous truth;

then, I would emphatically say I am possibly a Christian.

If you mean someone who
- sees compassion, healing, and peacemaking as primary moral imperatives;
- rejects violence in all of its forms;
- questions even religious practice or belief that contradicts reason or morality;
- critically examines one's own self in pursuit of right living; and
- hears in the words of Jesus the call to lifestyle alternatives that exhibit simple joy along with justice, social change, and environmental responsibility;
or if you mean someone who
- rejects patriotism and cultural/social prejudice as an expression of arrogance;
- accepts the challenge that consumption and wealth are expressions of greed incompatible with proper living;
- believes that forgiving and loving one's enemy are among the highest of callings;
- desires to be willing, like Jesus, to lose one's own claim on life in service to world;
or if you mean someone who
- may reject the existence of a personal God or being (“a-theist”),
- sees the Bible as a human artifact of religion, like other ancient wisdom literature, with occasional glimpses and insight into the world and the human condition;
- finds most modern religious expression - Christian or otherwise – arrogant, annoying, dangerous, even quaint but largely irrelevant; yet
- holds steadfastly to the belief that the wisdom and lifestyle introduced by Jesus represents the antidote to violence, greed, and injustice in the world;
- identifies the source of joy in the simple goodness and love of the here and now; and intentionally orders life by forgiveness, nonviolence, and love;

then, I would emphatically say I am a Christian.

Good Reading

For starters:

Jesus vs. Christianity, by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer
Jesus for the Non-Religious, by John Shelby Spong