Tag Archives: obama

What we’ve been saying for *years*

The Obama administration wants to digitize and standardize medical data. You know, have everybody collaborate and agree on a standard, common data format, and be able to exchange records between different providers, securely, in an agreed-upon data format.

To which the entire computer industry should have one loud and universal response: Duh.

In any part of any business, when you have to exchange information from one entity to another, the largest cost is converting/translating/munging from one data format to another. Anybody who has ever worked on a non-trivial integration project can tell you that.

What seems to be missing from this story is the time component. That is, if they don’t do it now, they will have to do it later, and the longer they wait, the more it will cost. Every new record adds costs to the total, and that cost will be paid by the entire health-care-consuming public.

The question should not be whether this should be done, but how quickly the standard data formats can be agreed upon, and who should be on that committee. The trouble with standards is that they take so long to agree on. What the politicians doubtless haven’t thought of yet is the standards process itself. Fortunately, a lot of that work has already been done by other countries. Unfortunately, being American, we’ll try to reimplement from scratch, in a manner that will benefit some particular overpriced vendor that will lock us into their proprietary data format for the next 50 years. What we, the consumers, should be pushing for, is a truly open data format, and truly open API, mandated by law, so that any vendor will have access to this market, and can compete on a level playing field. My fear is that about six months from now we’ll read a story about how MegaMediCo has “won the contract” to do this implementation.

Tempest in a chai-pot

Apparently a bunch of very ill-informed people are filing lawsuits, claiming that Mr. Obama wasn’t born in the USA.

What’s amazing to me about this entire article is that nowhere in it does it address the actual constitutional issue – that a candidate for president be a “natural born citizen.” That means that they were a citizen at birth, rather than naturalized later. Regardless of whether Mr. Obama was born in Kenya or Hawaii, he is a “natural born citizen.”

Now, he has provided his birth certificate, and that’s a legal document, so there’s really no case to begin with. But it bugs me that so much fuss would be made over a non-issue. As it happens, every president so far has been born in the USA, a fact about which I was apparently mistaken. However, the constitution does not require this – merely that they be a US citizen on the day of their birth.

I, for example, was born in Kenya, but I am a “natural born citizen.” Not that I’d be crazy enough to want to be president. But the fact that the question even arises is troubling. Are military kids, born overseas, automatically ineligible? The constitution says that they’re not. And are we really so terrified of foreign contamination that someone born to USA citizens on foreign soil is automatically suspect in some way?

Xenophobes really, really irritate me.

Obama in Wajir

Drudge posted a photo of Barak Obama in Wajir, dressed in traditional garb, and apparently there’s a bit of a furor over it.

Now, I’m not sure which makes me angrier – the fact that people would take such a photograph as evidence that Obama would make an unfit president (some nonsense about turban = terrorist, perhaps?) or the fact that the Obama campaign would dignify such absurdities by calling the photograph shameful, offensive fear-mongering.

Up until now, what appealed to me most about Obama was his ties to rural Africa, and thus, I assumed, some understanding of what it actually means to have sensible international relations with third-world nations. To my mind, the only sane response to the posting of a photograph like this would be, “why, yes, I do believe in respecting the traditions and dignity of my friends in Wajir.” Instead, he’s reacted in such a way that it almost seems that he’s ashamed of the photograph.

Even more offensively, this article in Slate implies that he endured the indignity so as not to offend the people of Wajir, much as you endure an ugly sweater given you by your aunt. Surely he realized that they were doing him an honor by dressing him as a village elder – an honor he had not earned, and was an expression of highest respect and esteem. The notion that anybody would see this as a reason to not vote for Mr. Obama is a profound insult to the people of Wajir, and Mr. Obama merely added to the insult by his reaction to the posting of the photo.

As though I didn’t already have little enough respect in the electoral process. Sheesh.