Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Must Read on Health Care

I consider this article from the Economist's Democracy in America blog on our health care system required reading among my friends.

It is easy to get caught up in the politics and horse-trading of the current health care debate. Sometimes I force myself to take a step back and look at the big picture. The inclusion of the public option, covering the uninsured, federal funding of abortions... these are all important topics. But the most important issue in reforming our health care system is slowing the growth of health care expenditures. We spend too much in this country on health care (and the military). The public option and requiring or providing health insurance to all may be useful tools in reducing costs, but it is going to be necessary for our country to hold an honest and painful debate on end-of-life-care and our priorities. The current system is unsustainable.

"For one thing, it means that Medicare spent $50 billion last year to care for patients in the last two months of their lives. As "60 Minutes" pointed out on Sunday, "that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education." It means we give liver transplants to the terminally ill, defibrillators to those with untreatable cancer. It means we use lots of money and resources, as if we have an endless supply of both, in order to briefly delay the reaper, or avoid looking him in the eye."

"...We condemn 'rationing' as if we don't already do it."

"For example, instead of buying some of those defibrillators and paying for some of those transplants, we could computerise America's medical records. At this time, someone holding up a placard might accuse me of "killing grandma". In reality, though, my decision would save many more grandmas—a study found that between 2002 and 2004 nearly a quarter of Medicaid beneficiaries died due to safety incidents, many of which were likely preventable with better record keeping. But improving record keeping doesn't quite have the emotional appeal of caring for the elderly. So we give grandma her procedure, whatever it may be, while ignoring the fact that more money spent in one place means less money spent in another. Ignoring that every excessive procedure comes with a cost, in terms of the nation's overall health."

Bonus reading: Ebert's funny review of Twilight: New Moon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Guiness in Orange County

Another reason to be proud of Orange County.
On Saturday afternoon, the Auld Dubliner in Tustin poured the world's tallest glass of Guinness. The stats: eight feet tall, 400 gallons (and 588,000 calories).

Source: OCW

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pop-Punk Week: The Dangerous Summer

"I'm an optimist but only in a perfect world."

Maryland-based The Dangerous Summer has been dominating more and more of my listening time at the gym. While Set Your Goals is still number one while I run, The Dangerous Summer has easily replaced Four Year Strong and Fireworks as my warm-up band.

While I find the compelling melodies and great drumming irresistable, this band makes the list of artists that have given me new hope into what pop-punk can achieve because of its lyrics. The lyrics are universal but at the same time feel so specific and personal. A couple people I've played Reach for the Sun have asked me, "Are you trying to tell me something?" It is one of those albums that feels like it was written just for me, but I know a lot of people feel exactly the same way.

"I spent my weekdays in my car and the weekends drinking hard enough for two.
I think I'll settle down one of these days, till I catch my breath.
I feel the weight of the world on my back but I'm not feeling sick to death.
Because I laid awake in bed and thought of better times.
I wrote down words inside my arm that say "I'll never walk alone" 'cause I get tired.
I know I'll have my friends in every way, so I caught my breath, and for the first time I found what I'm looking for.
I finally found out what I wanted to be so I picked up where I left" - Settle Down

"I'm an optimist but only in a perfect world.I think I'm too stained with all the negativity from all the people in my way. I took a trip down south;
I felt the sun on my face, and it made things ok for a second. I drew a picture of my problems when I was going insane, and I focused on the currents" - Weathered

Coffee, Jason Segel and the Swell Season

Came across this great comic explaining 15 things worth knowing about coffee.

A video combining my love for indie rock with Jason Segel. Segel came out to do an original song at the Swell Season show last night at the Wiltern. I wish I had gone. You may know Jason Segel from How I Met Your Mother, Freaks and Geeks, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You may know the Swell Season from the musical Once.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pop-Punk Week: Set Your Goals

The second pop-punk band I'd like to feature is San Francisco's Set Your Goals. This band mixes equal parts pop-punk and hardcore, which is why this is the #1 band I listen to at the gym. Their sub-genre of pop-punk is sometimes labeled "happy hardcore" for its refreshing use of positive perspectives in its lyrics.

Set Your Goals showed lots of promise with their first Reset EP, blew me away with 2006's Mutiny!, and did not disappoint with this year's This Will Be the Death of Us. If you need something to get you pumped, throw on some Set Your Goals and you won't be disappointed. Two of my favorite songs that don't have videos: "The Fallen" and "The Few That Remain" (Hayley of Paramore rocks the guest vocals).

I have a shirt with the lyrics to this song. One of my favorite designs I own:

Set Your Goals - "Summer Jam"

SET YOUR GOALS | MySpace Video

Old school:

"I often wonder if I'll ever finish all I've started, and the answer i have found is NO.
No, I will never finish all that I have started because life is about doing, the process and not the result. Life is about doing whether you want to or not.
My life: a constant work in progress and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Captain EO!

I've never been a big Michael Jackson fan. I respect him as an artist, but I wasn't exactly caught up in the hysteria around his death (I guess I mean emotionally, since I was physically caught up in it since I was in Westwood during the commotion).

But, as one to always see the silver lining, I am excited that his death might bring one good thing: rumor has it that Captain EO might return to Disneyland. It was always my favorite attraction at Disneyland, and I was sad when it left. It was Michael doing what he does best, and with the help of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, it was quite the accomplishment for something that was released the year I was born (1986).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Comedy Death-Ray Xmas Nativity Choir

Pop-Punk Week: You, Me, and Everyone We Know

Last month's Hip-Hop Week saw me highlight a handful of my favorite rappers and hip-hop artists. This week, I'd like to highlight another genre that I don't listen to frequently, but every once in awhile a band is so good that I just want to share.

Although pop-punk doesn't have a large presence in my daily listening habits, it used to dominate. I remember being in middle school and high school and blasting nothing but stuff like Blink-182, New Found Glory, Something Corporate, The Startling Line (note: the last 4 bands were all on Drive-thru records. So sad how far Drive-thru's star has fallen). Most pop-punk these days I just can't relate to and it sounds like it has all been done before. However, this week I'll explore some bands that just capture my ears and heart.

First-up: You, Me, and Everyone We Know. This unsigned band has self-released two EPs for free (legally download their latest uploaded by the band themselves here). They put on an amazing live show and the lead singer sounds great live.

The band has been compared to Say Anything, so it is only fitting that Max Bemis of Say Anything fell in love with the band and provided guest vocals at the end of "I Can Get Back Up."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mental Health Break

Must watch video:

Also, I'd suggest checking out Weezer's AOL sessions. While Weezer hasn't really impressed me since Pinkerton (except for their live shows), these 5 videos are pretty fun:

1. "I'm Your Daddy" featuring Kenny G
2. "Can't Stop Partying" featuring Chamillionaire
3. "If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)" featuring Sara Bareilles
4. "Brain Stew" Green Day cover with some mean piano-playing
5. "Butterfly" featuring a harp.