Posts Tagged ‘health care reform’

Letter From New York April1, 2010

April 1, 2010

Or, as it seems to me

Last week was spent in Las Vegas, attending the CTIA Wireless show – all things mobile. I saw every conceivable phone cover, saw a large number of apps aimed at men 18 – 34, mostly sports oriented, and anything and everything else that had to do with the mobile phone industry. The phone manufacturers touted all their phones though it was interesting that anything that wasn’t a smart phone seemed almost quaint no matter the pizzazz put into the design. For whatever reason, the Pill Phone stuck with me. It would tell you what pills you were taking, what they did, and remind you when you should take them.

It was an amazing time. I came away with the certainty that mobile would rule the world – that we are transitioning away from the place based computer to one that you can hold in your hand, take anywhere with you and soon will be able to do everything that your desktop can do. James Cameron, he of TITANIC and AVATAR fame, was on a panel saying that 3D would be coming to your mobile device. It is all going to be there, in the palm of your hand.

One of the most charming characters present was Biz Stone, co-founder of TWITTER, which has been thinking of mobile since the service was first a gleam in the eye of Mr. Stone. TWITTER has become a force in all kinds of places and a catalyst for social unrest. Witness Iran. What do you think, Mr. Stone, about the events in name the place? How do you feel about the revolution? This was not exactly, I suspect, what Biz Stone was thinking when he conceived TWITTER but it is the way TWITTER is being used – as a catalyst for social movements. He told the amazing story of a young American student journalist arrested in Egypt who twittered from his mobile: arrested. It pulled together his friends, his teachers, a whole movement which had him out of prison almost as fast as he had found himself there. The Egyptians hardly knew what had hit them. Appropriately enough, on his release he twittered: free.

Besides being deluged with mobile technology advances, I had the chance to stop for a moment and have dinner with old friends, Chuck and Lois Bachrach, which served to remind me that as giddy as we get with the devices we hold in our hands, the main purpose of those devices is to hold us together with the people who matter.

And while I was being dazzled by the technology, by the Pill Phone, by the thought of 3D on my small screen, Congress went and passed Health Care Reform, which I learned from a CNN alert sent to, of course, my iPhone. I’ve stayed fairly clear of Health Care – I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the legislation though I know I found it particularly disturbing that the U.S. ranked 37th in the world for health care. That seemed pretty poor to me. But it was all a debate that went beyond me. I wanted better but wasn’t sure if what was being proposed would lead to better. All the noise…

But, at the end of the day, Health Care Reform was passed and it was, “a big [bleeping] deal,” thank you Mr. Biden. You have provided the perfect comment to landmark legislation, bringing it to the patois of the proletariat, the language of us all – whatever this piece of legislation is, it is a big bleeping deal as health care reform has eluded passage by Congress for over a century. It’s hard to believe but all of this started back with Teddy Roosevelt.

The dark side of it, unfortunately, is that passage has resulted in protests that go beyond the pale of what should be happening in America. Do we really need death threats to accompany passage of a piece of legislation? Does vandalism need to be the coda? I wish I remembered my Civics lessons better – has this much anger been evidenced in the past or is this a new phenomenon in the life of the Republic? Certainly it seems deeper than any divides that I recall even as technology builds bridges across the divides.

Letter From New York March 14, 2010

March 15, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

It’s been more than my usual week between letters – I am going through one of those preposterously busy periods one goes through once in a while. Working with Odyssey Networks, I am helping them launch a mobile channel and that is consuming a good piece of my life – and will for the next couple of months. Friday afternoon, I said to someone that yesterday was Monday and now today is Friday and I need for it to be only Tuesday. It’s going that quickly.

But even if life is going that quickly, things do keep happening that aren’t directly related to launching a mobile channel. A week ago, we all gathered around the electronic fireplace and watched the Oscars, which, it turned out, were the most watched Academy Awards in five years. Maybe it worked to nominate ten films for Best Picture, the first time that’s been done since 1943.

I have a rule now when watching Awards programs. I suspend my critic persona and just surrender to the experience. These Oscars, like many, if not most, were excoriated by those who did not suspend their critical selves. From the choice of hosts, to sets, to musical numbers, the critics were savage. I didn’t care – I was just along for the ride; it made the experience much easier. I didn’t have to work. It was what it was.

The surprise was that HURT LOCKER won Best Picture over AVATAR, which was what the smart money was betting on – well, may be not so smart after all but it was AVATAR that I thought would be walking out with the gold statue.

While the world was Oscar titillated, other things were going on. The rancor went on in Congress about Health Care and Obama is pushing for an up or down vote, which means following procedures that are supposed to prevent the opportunity for filibuster. Reconciliation is part of the process though there doesn’t seem to be much reconciling going on with Republicans. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen. Seems a number of Democrats aren’t all that sold on reform and may not follow the party line. Regardless of what is going on with Health Care Reform, one gets the impression that Congress is so dysfunctional it needs group therapy. Polls are indicating indignation with Congress.
In an effort to turn indignation away from him, Tiger Woods did a carefully orchestrated apology. The jury is out on whether it was sincere or not. Some thought so, many didn’t. As I said, the jury is out…

And the jury is still out on Toyota, which has gone from corporate paragon to corporate pariah – well, that’s too strong a word but the glitter is tarnished. While its leaders apologized to Congress, issues continued to plague its vehicles and doubts abounded as to whether the recalls were fixing the issues. One poor man had a scary ride down a freeway with his Prius just last week – he slowed down by nosing up to the rear end of a police cruiser. Three Toyotas were involved in curious accidents in Connecticut. Not good for confidence building.

Speaking of confidence, and going full circle, theatre owners are feeling good – theatre attendance has been up during the recession and it’s been a boffo year at the box office for films. Theatre owners are expanding and working to make going to the movies a true escapist experience with restaurants and bars on premises, ever bigger seats while we are being wowed by 3D. ALICE IN WONDERLAND rules the box office again this weekend.

Preposterously busy or not, I still have a few minutes to notice the world…