Fighting the Dragon

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong might be the decade’s most important development says George F. Will in the Washington Post:

The Economist recently editorialized: “The West’s 25-year bet on China has failed.” The wager was that “market totalitarianism” is an oxymoron. Embedding China in the global economy supposedly would open it to the softening effects of commerce, which would be solvents of authoritarianism. The West’s tardy but welcome disenchantment is, as the Economist says, “the starkest reversal in modern geopolitics.” If Hong Kong’s heroic refusal to go gentle into Beijing’s dark night is accelerating this disenchantment, the summer of dissent has been this decade’s grandest and most important development.

A must read piece by Maciej Cegłowski on his Idle Words blog (which has the best blog tagline ever: brevity is for the weak) describes his first hand experience at a protest in Hong Kong. He carefully outlines the tension between the various factions of protesters, and how their overarching sense of general responsibility and social order keeps 7.5 million Hong Kongers united against a totalitarian regime which controls 1.3 billion people. At the end of a peaceful weekend of protests, some of the frontliners (protesters who are willing to engage in violence) are circling the police station on Harcourt Road, itching for a fight. However:

Some combination of social media, personal pleading, sense of duty, and whatever alchemy keeps these protests going convinced the angry fighters to do the hardest thing a young person can do in such a conflict-go home.

And that’s when I understood the Hong Kongers may actually win.

My Flag Pin

In the weeks after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Americans felt a wide range of powerful emotions: mourning, loss, anger, and fright. We also felt the strong resurgence of patriotism and the desire to care for each other. Every merchant in the country from restaurants to car dealerships sold some sort of patriotic momento. The most popular item by far was a US flag lapel pin. It seemed like everyone was wearing one, and not just on their suit lapels; they could be found pinned to blouses, backpacks, hats, and t-shirts. When I saw someone wearing one of these pins we shared an unspoken communication: “I’m proud to be an American, and I’m feeling all the same things that you are.” In that moment I could both offer and receive solace and strength from another. No matter our differences of race, political party, state of residence, religion, sexual orientation, or social status, I knew we were more alike than we were different, and that sense of community compounded with every shared glance.

I wore my flag pin nearly every day for months. In 2001, I wore it for healing. This week I wore it to remember the many lives that were lost on that blue-skied day, and to honor the many more lives which have been irrevocably changed as a result. I also wore it as a symbol of hope, that once again we could feel our similarities more than our differences.

The Rainbow Logo

The tech podcasts have been a flutter about the potential return of the classic six color Apple logo. The five color apple on the invitation to this week’s iPhone event has fanned the flames of speculation. Liss, Arment, and Siracusa over at ATP said they would love to see it. John Gruber and Brent Simmons said it would be nice to have some color back in Jony Ive’s white world.

I don’t know what we’ll see tomorrow in the big iPhone event, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be seeing the return of the rainbow. When Apple last used this logo, the rainbow evoked the mostly easy-going rebellion and free love of the 60’s. In one of the great branding successes of the last decade, the rainbow is widely associated with the LGBTQ community. Many of us would be pleased to show our support for the cause on the back of our electronic devices. However, there are many people who would choose not to buy an Apple product with a rainbow because they are not comfortable publicly promoting non-heterosexual relationships.

If Apple ever brings back the rainbow logo, I think it would be as an additional, optional SKU like the Product Red iPhone XR.

Antidepressants

“Food is the most common used anti-depressant. Exercise is the most common unused anti-depressant.”

Erin Keckley, DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Lipscomb Director of University Health Services

Thoughtful, courteous debate on challenging issues

Most people acknowledge that Twitter and Facebook have turned into shouting contests driven primarily by fear and anger. I gave up on both services several years ago, and feel like I haven’t missed anything. I’d like to point out an example of the other end of the spectrum which demonstrates that we can have thoughtful, courteous debate on challenging issues.

Amy Howe writes for SCOTUSblog:

On Monday, October 7, the first Monday in October, the justices of the Supreme Court will return to the bench for the first oral arguments of the new term. The next day, the court will tackle a trio of cases that could prove to be some of the biggest of the term. At issue is whether federal employment discrimination laws, first passed by Congress in 1964, that bar discrimination “because of sex” protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees.

She proceeds to clearly summarize the rulings by various federal courts that have finally led to the Supreme Court taking up these cases. This one article alone is better than most of the drivel posted on social media. However, this blog also solicited and posted five opinions on these cases from credible authors with various viewpoints:

As I read these articles with an open mind, I was able to better understand the real issues to be considered by the Court. Understanding shaped my own informed opinion, which is different than it was before I read the articles. This is how it’s supposed to work.

The Risks of Doing Business in China

For months the residents of Hong Kong have been protesting Chinese involvement in their politics. These protests began in March 2019 when Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed a bill which would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people to jurisdictions that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan. I believe this type of unrest is an inevitable result of the UK relinquishing Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 and China’s one country, two systems policy. Ultimately, I think Chinese leaders want one country, one system. The proposed extradition bill, which has since been withdrawn, proved to be the flashpoint.

China hasn’t sent in the tanks, but they have been staging military vehicles just across the Taiwan Strait in Shenzhen. They have also been applying pressure in other ways. Cathay Pacific is the national airline of Hong Kong. Chinese Communist Party authorities told the Cathay Pacific CEO, Rupert Hogg, to hand over the names of Cathay Pacific employees who were participating in the protests:

Instead of betraying his employees and endangering their safety, he only provided a list of one name — his own.

Indicating the intimate involvement of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the investigation of the airline, Hogg’s resignation was first made public by Chinese state-run media outlet CCTV at 4:50 pm on Aug. 16. It was not until 5:14 pm that Cathay Pacific itself officially announced that Hogg was stepping down as CEO, leading to speculation that his resignation was the result of pressure from Beijing authorities.

Benedict Evans sums up the larger problem:

China’s ability to fire the CEO of Cathay Pacific shows how irrelevant it is to ask who technically owns Huawei. What matters is whether the state has effective control, not legal control, and we know the answer to that for any company in or even near China.

American Patients and Surgeons in Cancun

Phil Galewitz writing in Kaiser Health News: To Save Money, American Patients and Surgeons Meet In Cancun

Donna Furguson lives in Mississippi. She receives health care insurance coverage through her husband’s employer, Ashley Furniture. Donna needs a knee replacement.

The hospital costs of the American medical system are so high that it made financial sense for both a highly trained orthopedist from Milwaukee and a patient from Mississippi to leave the country and meet at an upscale private Mexican hospital for the surgery.

Here’s what Donna gets:

  • A Mayo trained, US-based physician
  • All travel costs included
  • No out-of pocket copayments or deductibles
  • A $5,000 cash payment
  • The same implanted device from Johnson and Johnson that she would get state side
  • The assurance that if something goes wrong she can bring a malpractice claim against the doctor in a United States court
  • Care provided by Joint Commission accredited hospital (the Joint Commission is the gold standard of hospital accreditation for safety and quality in the US)

The doctor gets paid three times as much as if he did the procedure in the US.

In the US, knee replacements are expensive and the cost varies dramatically. In Dallas, it could cost $16,772 or $61,585. The average is about $30,000.

Ashley Furniture spent $12,000 for Donna’s procedure in Cancun.

This is a damning indictment of hospitals in United States.

The We Company Is A Dumpster Fire

Elizabeth Lopatto at The Verge digs into the S-1 filed by The We Company.

I don’t know, friends. I just don’t know. I have never seen anything like this, and I cannot wait to see what the SEC has to say about loaning your founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder money while also paying him rent. This is to say nothing of who got paid by the name change or any of the rest of it. “As an investor, why would you be willing to put your confidence in this structure?” Charles Elson, a corporate governance professor at the University of Delaware, told Bloomberg.

I wouldn’t give them the wrapper my sandwich came in.

Wesley Pruden Will Be Missed

Wesley Pruden, one of my favorite writers, dies at 83

Mr. Pruden was born to be a newspaperman and he relished the various roles he had at The Times, especially the outsize part he played in defining what The Times should be and remains,” Mr. Dolan said in a memo to staff. “For Mr. Pruden, the mission of a newspaper was simple, cover the news without slant or bias and do it without ever belittling a reader’s freedom, mocking his faith or ridiculing his family.

I will miss his twice-weekly Pruden on Politics.

Government Run Healthcare Is Not A Good Idea

Paul Kafasis complains about US Postal Service delivery tracking:

What I can’t understand, however, is how Google is beating USPS at their own tracking game using data USPS is giving them. It says right there, “Data provided by USPS”.

If you think healthcare in the US is a mess now (hint: it is), you should be very concerned about the various proposals from presidential candidates for a government run Medicare for All.