Cochrane's New Health Care Paper

2 1/2 years ago, I went to MGH and received an $800 bill for 10 minutes of routine-ish medical care. My LJ post generated 108 comments [a record for me], and set me off reading numerous books and blogs about healthcare.

I don't read about it too much anymore, but a recent paper by John Cochrane is in my opinion a must read. After the ACA: Freeing the Market For Health Care. Would be very curious to hear what you think. izmirian, firstfrost, algorithmancy, kirisutogomen, or anyone else.

Recent Fictions.

"The Wise Man's Fear." If you liked "The Name of the Wind," you're going to read this and you're going to like it. I would give "The Name of the Wind" four and a half or even five stars, and this just four, because the first book was gripping all the way through, whereas this one has a few different settings, some of which are excellent and some of which are dreadfully dull, and also if this is really a trilogy they should've revealed more of the main plot by now.

"After The Golden Age." If you liked "Soon I Will Be Invincible", this is worth a read. The main character is the daughter of the two most powerful superheros who protect the city, but has no powers of their own. Adventures, family difficulties, and bitter recriminations ensue. Also four stars.

iPad advice.

I am considering [have not yet decided] buying the iPad 2. My initial inclination would be to buy the lowest-end model [16GB, wifi only]. Is there any good reason to do anything else? I'm basically thinking I'd use it for games, music creation apps of various sorts, ebook and pdf reader, not sure what else. I don't plan to store a large library of videos or music on it. Thoughts?

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.

Easily the second best of the Pirates films. Not almost as good as the first one, but vastly better than the second and third. It was too long, and the fight sequences were a little wearying, but mostly it was chock full of the overacted banter I've come to want. Penelope Cruz was a delightful addition, Barbossa was Barbossa, and Jack Sparrow was Jack Sparrow. Worth the time and money.

For those of you wondering, it has almost nothing to do with the Tim Powers novel. There's Blackbeard, and there's a Fountain of Youth, and there's some references to sorcery and zombification, and there's maybe a father-daughter analogy, but it's pretty weak. All they could muster in the credits was "Suggested by the Tim Powers novel."

Embassytown, China Mieville.

Mieville's first obviously sci-fi novel. It's about aliens and thought and language and war. In the same way that Un Lun Dun and Kraken felt obviously influenced by Neil Gaiman, this feels like Ursula LeGuin in the overall universe he's created, and like Sheri Tepper in its "you must solve the riddle of the creatures of this strange planet"-ness. It wasn't fun the way the Gaiaman-esque books or the New Crobuzon books were, more self contained a la The City and The City. I like that Mieville tries to be ambitious, but I felt like he bit off a little more than he could chew here the story was interesting, but unlike most of his other books, I found myself not really buying it even within the context of the universe he'd created.

Maybe a tiny bit less good than Kraken, so 3 1/2 stars? I still like Mieville enough to read each new book immediately as it arrives.

Google Music Beta

I'm pretty excited to announce that Google Music Beta launched today. This has been my main [though not only] project for the last few months. My team is responsible for the Instant Mix feature, which automatically makes playlists from a track you choose. It has been and continues to be a wild ride.