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The Artist's Way

I’m going to talk about a creativity-enhancing course I started today. It’s called _The Artist’s Way_, which styles itself “a spiritual path to higher creativity.” The spiritual part is not an exaggeration–there is a considerable focus on spiritual elements. The author uses these at a metaphor for reaching inside yourself and getting in touch with your inner artist. There are some religious overtones to the whole idea, though the author is clear that you don’t have to believe in God (or anything religious or spiritual) in order to use this book.

Link Roundup: February 6, 2016

It’s dangerous to Internet alone. Take these. Tech * [Event technology: will this define success in 2016?]( -- As someone who goes to conventions and the like, I'm always interested in the state of technology for managing events and communicating with attendees. Some interesting statistics and information here. * [Here's an update on the total disaster that is the F-35]( -- Given the technical orientation of the report, I'll put this here.

Part 5: May Be Habit Forming

All this week I have been writing about issues of health in the United States. Americans are less healthy than our counterparts in other wealthy countries, for a variety of reasons. But the two biggest reasons are poverty and culture. Poverty can be dealt with using the bluntest of methods: throw money at it. It works. Food stamps, welfare payments, and other programs have been effective at poverty reduction, despite the bad press they have received and constant harping by conservatives that such initiatives only create generations of government dependence.

Part 4: Health and Morality Politics

The series is not done yet! Today, I am writing about issues of American health and the ways in which they are bound up and influenced by morality politics. There’s no point mincing words: American attitudes, by and large, are more conservative than those of citizens in other wealthy countries. We are more religious, we take religion more seriously, and part of that is assigning moral components to almost every public policy decision.

Part 3: Mental Illness and Addiction

Continuing on the theme of issues in American health, this time I want to talk about two things that haven’t gotten much attention so far: mental health and addiction. The good news is that mental health in the United States isn’t as stigmatized as it used to be. Overall, we speak about it more openly, and are more willing to seek treatment than in the past. The stigma is eroding, albeit slowly.

Why Are Black Americans Sicker?

Given the title of yesterday’s article, it should be clear that this one is intended as a sequel, hitting on similar themes, but focusing more specifically on black Americans, who I believe didn’t get much focus in the study discussed yesterday. First things first: black Americans have lower life expectancy than white Americans. This is well borne out by statistics. The most straightforward way to put it is that black men and women today have the same life expectancy as their white counterparts did in 1970.

Why are Americans so Sick?

Recently, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released his healthcare reform plan. Suffice it to say, it’s a single-payer system. Others say this is unrealistic, impossible, etc. Many Americans are frustrated by the reality of the Affordable Care Act, when compared to what was promised. (This is ignoring, for the sake of argument, those who hated it all along.) If we could magically have a single-payer system tomorrow, would it work? Would it be cheaper?

How It's Made

Let’s get meta. There are other people in my life who, while good writers themselves, are at a loss for how to do what I do here–that is, write essays and articles and so forth on a daily basis. I figured it might be useful to describe that process in a bit more detail, and to use one of my Sunday posts for that purpose rather than one of the usual weekday slots.

Link Roundup: January 30, 2016

I round them up, you click them. Maybe. Probably not. Science * [There is now nutrient-rich algae that tastes just like bacon, because science]( -- Sign me up! I also learned there's a type of fungus grown in buckets used to imitate chicken. What an amazing time to be alive. Cute * [The new Gerber Baby is ridiculously adorable]( -- No, really. Also, this is the first time I've ever had need of a "Cute" category here.

Self-Driving Cars: Pros and Cons

Confession: I hate driving. Some people enjoy it. I don’t. I never have. I don’t get the fascination. So, when it comes to self-driving cars, I may be a little (OK, a lot) biased. I want them yesterday, dammit. But I’ll try to be fair here. What’s good and bad about them? Over the past several years, we have seen self-driving cars go from science fiction to being well within reach.