<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Other Stuff]]>Tue, 14 Aug 2018 17:08:43 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[People Are Exhausting]]>Mon, 06 Aug 2018 22:24:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/people-are-exhaustingBy Dave B.
​I don’t mean that as any disparagement against a particular individual or group. In fact, I wish I did. Then it would just be a simple matter of avoiding people who share the trait(s) that make them exhausting and seeking out the people who don’t. The problem is that all of us are exhausting for the exact same reasons, regardless of our education levels, our belief systems, how much we volunteer, what job we have, or whatever other ways we choose to distinguish ourselves from each other.
​It’s not the lying, cheating, stealing, hurting, murdering, or any other action taken with malicious intent that makes us exhausting (although all of those things suck, of course). What makes us exhausting is our thought processes. Presenting opinions as facts. Wishful thinking leading to a lack of preparation. Wanting to succeed without putting in the work required to do so and then complaining that the world is unfair/rigged/enthralled by a conspiracy. Believing that our feelings are some mystical concoction beyond our control and therefore must be acted on all the time. Having to break so many things down into Us vs. Them.
​I used to be a person that cared deeply about certain issues. Politics, economics, people’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. I still care about those things and others…to an extent. But as I’ve continued to remain alive, I’ve come to realize that although things like systems, and ideologies, and intent do matter, they also don’t because even perfect systems, ideologies, and intents will be screwed up by quirks inherent in human cognition that we can’t really do anything about. 
I’m not suggesting that we stop trying to make the world a “better” place. I’m not really suggesting anything. I just kinda wish that we lived in a world where people weren’t so desperate to belong to something bigger than ourselves that we throw the sense and agency that we naturally possess out of the window for the temporary satisfaction that we get from a sense of belonging and acknowledgement. It’s our emotional neediness that is exhausting. That’s all I have to say about that. We’ll be back to the reviews tomorrow. Until then, peace be with you.
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<![CDATA[3 Reasons For My (Completey Objective) Vendetta Against The FDA]]>Sat, 04 Aug 2018 15:13:54 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/3-reasons-for-my-completey-objective-vendetta-against-the-fdaBy Dave B.
So, I rarely talk about this, but I hate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And I don’t use the term "hate" lightly. I think it is easily the worst federal agency in the United States. Part of its mission statement reads: “The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.” (It’s full mission statement can be found here.) On most of these measures it fails. Here are three (out of many, many) examples of why I despise the FDA and want to see it abolished and replaced with an effective agency:
1. Food Security
I’ve got one word for you: Chipotle. Is that not enough? Ok. Real milk in almond milk. E. coli and salmonella in everything. The list goes on. You see, the fact is that outbreaks of contaminated food happen all of the time. I’m not saying that we don’t need an agency to regulate and monitor food safety. I’m saying that the FDA spends billions of dollars a year trying to do so and it’s unclear if they’ve prevented a single instance of food contamination. In fairness, maybe they prevent contamination all the time, but from looking at their website, they have a section on “Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts” (meaning that all of these products made it to market) and no section on food contamination prevented. Billions of dollars to be glorified journalists, reporting on and warning about dangerous food that they allowed to make it to the public. Think about it.

2. Medical Devices
Now I’ve got three words for you: The Bleeding Edge (you can read my review of it here. Everyone should watch that documentary). Basically, the medical device regulatory regime is a joke and most devices aren’t tested on humans at all. Those that are, are often inadequately tested. The stated purpose of this is “to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable”. Maybe that’s true. But when FDA personnel go to work for the industries that they used to regulate, it sounds like regulatory capture of a federal agency by the medical device industry to me.

3. Experimental Treatments
My issue with the FDA on experimental treatments is a bit different than it is with the first two items I mentioned. Instead of regulatory capture or incompetence being the problem, I think that the FDA is far too cautious about allowing terminally ill patients to try experimental treatments. If someone is informed about the inherent risks of trying an experimental drug or procedure, and is willing to accept those risks because they will die anyway, why the hell should the FDA forbid it? I won’t speak for everyone, but I know that if I were terminally ill and there was even a chance that I could survive, I would be willing to take the risk and I would be pissed about a government agency telling me that I am forbidden to do so. 

In Conclusion:
I could go on (and on and on) with other issues that I have with the FDA, but I think you see my point. My main beef with the FDA isn’t that a regulatory agency that covers food, drug, and device safety exists. It’s that I think that with a $5 billion dollar budget, it should be more effective and discerning in the execution of its duties. And because I believe that the rot at the FDA is too wide and deep for reform of the organization to be effective, I think it needs to be replaced. This isn’t a popular opinion. A lot of people just fundamentally disagree with my perspective and I respect that. And since I’m always open to changing my mind and acquiring new data, if anyone would like to share their perspective on why they disagree (or agree) with me on this topic, I would love to hear it! 
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<![CDATA[LeBron is Definitely, Probably, Possibly Going to Philly (or Staying in Cleveland) Because…]]>Sun, 10 Jun 2018 02:44:40 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/lebron-is-definitely-probably-possibly-going-to-philly-or-staying-in-cleveland-becauseBy Dave B.
​…he’s not an idiot, nor an overpaid sports analyst. 
If we assume that LeBron James cares about his legacy, we can make two conjectures about his on-court priorities: First and foremost, he wants to win as many championships as possible during the remainder of his career. And second, barring winning more championships, he wants to continue his streak of making it to the NBA Finals. If the NBA maintains its current playoff format, going to a Western Conference teams poses a significant risk to both of those priorities.
​At this point, no Western Conference team becomes the prohibitive favorite to make the Finals with the addition of James  (except for Golden States, but if he goes there, nobody outside of northern California will ever watch professional basketball again). People will say, “Houston was only a game away from the Finals. Adding James will put them over the top”. My reply to that: Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t matter if Houston becomes slight favorites to win the Western Conference with the addition of James. They won’t become huge favorites over the Warriors and the playoff caliber teams in the West are better than their counterparts in the East. The scenarios where the Rockets + James don’t make the Finals are plentiful and easy to see. 
​The Eastern Conference is a different story altogether. Yes, the two teams of the near-future (Boston and Philadelphia) are tough and will pose a challenge to anyone. But barring a significant decrease in his abilities, whichever team James is on will be the favorites to make it to the Finals from the East. Assuming Kyrie remains in Boston, LeBron won’t go there. That leaves Philly. They’re young and talented, and they check all of the boxes for what James should be looking for at this stage in his career (notwithstanding front office turmoil). They’re the logical choice. Except…
​This year’s NBA draft class is odd. Outside of the Top 5 picks, there’s no consensus about who will go where in mock drafts, but this isn’t because of a lack of talent outside of the Top 5. Just the opposite. In my opinion, picks 6 through 10 have the talent to be All-Star caliber players on whatever team they end up on. Eventually. Yes, the Cavs need to improve at nearly every position to have a realistic chance of winning an NBA title. But do they have to improve at every position to be nearly certain of winning the East if they have James? Or just one or two? And is there any chance that whoever they draft won’t be an improvement at some position? (No.) What really matters here is LeBron’s assessment of the in-conference competition he’ll face next season and his opinion of whoever the Cavs draft, because no team from the East is likely to beat the West champion, with or without LeBron.
I’m not saying LeBron will definitely stay in Cleveland. More than likely, he won’t. But going to the Western Conference presents huge and obvious risks. I believe LeBron is savvy enough to see that and prudent enough to stay in the East. With Miami not having a Top 10 pick (not to mention Dwayne Wade aging) and Boston off-limits while Kyrie is there, the most plausible Eastern Conference teams to land James are Philadelphia and Cleveland. That means there’s real hope that he remains in Cleveland, despite what the pundits say. And I believe that I can speak for most of my fellow Clevelanders when I say that when it comes to sports, real hope is all we ever really  ask for.
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<![CDATA[It’s Insane That Commercials For Prescription Medicines Exist]]>Tue, 22 May 2018 16:06:43 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/its-insane-that-commercials-for-prescription-medicines-existBy Dave B.
​I know you’ve seen them. Those ridiculous commercials for prescription medicines that have side-effects worse than the ailment that they’re supposed to treat. Ignoring the fact that they’re universally terrible, the fact that they actually exist is insane.
Pharmaceutical companies already directly solicit medical professionals and medical institutions, so what’s the purpose of TV advertising directly to consumers? To encourage patients and potential patients to pressure their doctors into giving them a specific medicine for a condition. Look, I’m totally for patients being informed by doctors about their treatment options. But in NO WAY is a layperson qualified to suggest a course of treatment to a medical professional, especially when it comes to prescription medicines.
 
The thing that blows my mind is that these commercials are extremely effective. From 2012 to 2016, spending on commercials for prescription drugs increased 62%. From 2016 to 2017, spending on these ads increased by more than $330 million, from $3.11 billion to $3.45 billion. The people who run these companies aren’t stupid. These types of spending increases are indicative of the massive success of their strategy to convince patients to pressure doctors into prescribing certain medicines.
​I’ll be the first to admit that I have mixed feelings about medical professionals. Nurses, paramedics, med techs and others have generally been great to me. Doctors…not so much. But for me, a person with zero years of training in treating ailments, to say to a doctor “I want you to prescribe me a medicine that I saw on a television commercial”, is complete insanity. It would be insane for me to say and it would be insane if the doctor capitulated to my demand. Should we have random people be telling architects and engineers how to safely construct skyscrapers? If your answer to that question is yes, you should seek help.
What to do? Well, that depends who you ask. The easy answer for those who aren’t strong believers in individual agency would be to have the government ban such ads. I don’t like that solution. It doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem in my opinion. The real problem is that people are being totally irrational and doctors aren’t incentivized to stand up to their patients. As long as this type of advertisment remains effective, companies will find a way around any rules to use it and these commercials will continue to exist.

Instead, I suggest two grassroots movements. In the first, doctors will vow that, while noting their patient’s desires, they won’t make medical decisions based primarily upon the wishes of someone who isn’t an expert. In the second, patients and potential patients will vow to do their best to not be completely irrational and won’t try to force doctors to make decisions based on commercials. In fact, I’m taking that vow right now. You can do it, too!
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<![CDATA[OPINION: The Price Of Power]]>Sun, 29 Apr 2018 22:41:22 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/opinion-the-price-of-powerBy Dave B.
​First of all, I need to say that the inspiration for this article (mini-rant) is NOT a specific person or incident. Instead, it’s a series of events that I have experienced and observed throughout my life. So, if it seems applicable to some individual or situation that you are familiar with, it’s likely because it is a cultural tendency we’ve all experienced and/or been guilty of at some point in our lives. That said:
Those in positions of power and influence should not be given greater protections that dilute their accountability. Instead, they should be subject to greater scrutiny and held to a higher standard of conduct and judgement. They are entrusted with an uncommon level of power and should work to obtain and maintain an uncommon level of trust.

The powerful are responsible to those who have entrusted them with that power and whose interests they are supposed to represent and protect. This is true from those who legislate and enforce laws, to parents, to CEOs, to managers in any organization. If you have a position of power and influence, your primary obligation must never be to yourself. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t strive to prosper. I’m saying that sustainable and widespread prosperity derives from transparently and ethically fulfilling one’s obligations and duties.

What does this mean in a practical sense? The implications are too varied for me to get into them all, but for starters, those with power shouldn’t get paid vacations while being investigated for allegedly abusing that power. There should be clear and strict punishments for violations of rules, regulations, and laws. For example, if you are an authority figure and part of your job requires your duties to be recorded at all times and you don’t do that, you should lose your job, irrespective of any incident that may or may not have occurred. You could be innocent of anything and everything else, but you failed in your duty in an important regard. If you are an elected official and you are convicted of misuse of public money, you should have to pay it all back with interest, irrespective of whatever other criminal punishments you may face. That said, those who are falsely or wrongly accused (whether powerful or not) should be compensated for material and reputational damages that they’ve suffered.

In no way am I advocating for the violation of anyone's due process rights or presumption of innocence. There always has been, and always will be, a fragile balance between individual protections and societal protections. My overall point is that I believe when those in positions of power are accused of wrongdoing, those protections probably need to be weighted more to society’s protection than they currently are. There have always been lot of people who seem believe that the powerful need more protections than the people that they are duty-bound to serve. I don’t know how long a free society can survive if that is to be how things remain.  
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<![CDATA[More Pragmatism Probably Isn’t Pragmatic]]>Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:15:35 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/more-pragmatism-probably-isnt-pragmaticBy Dave B.
​This post started as request from someone that I write about how people can be more pragmatic. It sounded like a good idea, but I try to slow myself down and think things through before committing to a course of action (because that is the exact opposite of what my instincts tell me to do). So, my first action was to find a definition for the word “pragmatic”. Oxford defines it as, “Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations”. I like that definition, so let’s go with it. 
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that pragmatism is often boring and difficult. Adopting it as a way of life almost inevitably leads to ostracization and being misunderstood by a majority that is often primarily guided by their feelings. Overall, I can’t say that it’s a lifestyle choice that I recommend for most people. Of course it would be nice if the people that we interact with were more pragmatic when it suits us. And clearly if people in positions of power and influence in society dealt with public policy more sensibly and realistically, with less ideological influence, we might actually have a more effective, less contentious political culture.

The problem is that, at times, everyone views their emotions and perspectives as objective truth instead of as subjective conjecture. Me, you, everyone does this at one point or another. I think there are some very understandable reasons for this. We often want what we want regardless of any other consideration or consequence. We also tend to fear the uncertainty that comes from making decisions based on assessment instead of motivation. The former requires us to accept that there are factors that we don’t know or understand, while the latter simply requires us to make a decision as to what outcome we think we desire. The effort that it takes to incorporate this change of thought process into daily life is not trivial.

I’m not saying that I would mind if we were all a bit more thoughtful in our decision-making processes and in our interactions with each other, but I don’t think it’s necessary for people to always make pragmatic decisions that largely ignore theory and feelings. I just think that we need to at least consider how our decisions may impact ourselves and those around us. Wishful thinking, I know, but as George Carlin said, “inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist”. I guess some of my idealism is still intact. 
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<![CDATA[Political Communication Class For Liberals: 3 Pieces Of Advice]]>Thu, 12 Apr 2018 14:22:50 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/political-communication-class-for-liberals-3-pieces-of-adviceBy Dave B.
​In America, the mainstream political spectrum can roughly be divided into thirds: left-leaning (liberal), right-leaning (conservative), and center (moderate). In no way does this capture the entirety of political thought that exists, but it’s a useful way to frame the political dynamics in our country. That said, liberals and conservatives are pretty terrible at communicating with each other, largely because they don’t really care to. Fair enough.
But liberals are also fairly bad at communicating with moderates. The reasons for this are too complex for me to lay out in-depth (without getting paid to do so), but it basically boils down to culturally-influenced choice of language. So, I’m going to give some advice to my liberal friends about how to more effectively communicate with non-liberal Americans who may be inclined to hear your ideas, but can’t stand your language:
1. Stop Saying “Identity” (and associated words) ALL THE DAMN TIME
​Your non-liberal audience is not stupid. They understand that people are complex beings who have various voluntary and involuntary associations. But by making every single conversation about identity, it makes it seem as if you put those associations above the collective American community. If that is your intent, fine. But don’t be surprised if that isn’t very appealing to people who are less liberal than you.
2. Talk About Resiliency When You Talk About Damage
While it’s important to understand the damage that various policies, actions, interactions, historical contexts, etc. can and have caused, in a political context it’s important to realize that American culture values resiliency.

​So, for example, if you want to have a conversation about the damage that something causes to communities, a more effective way of getting your point across may include telling your audience about how hard those who overcame those circumstances had to work to do so. If something takes a superhuman feat, put your audience in a position to wonder if it is an effort they could’ve made themselves and succeeded at. 
3. Emphasize the Individual Over the Collective
This one is likely to be the most difficult for liberals because it’s where many of you most clearly demonstrate your separation from American cultural norms. For better or worse, America is an individualist society. That means individual rights and individual responsibilities. It’s irrelevant if that is the most accurate way to contextualize an issue. It’s the foundational belief of this country.

What that means is that many (most) Americans don’t want to hear about collective blame and collective victimization, regardless of if they are collectively perpetrators or victims of an act. It just isn’t the way that most of the 2/3 of Americans who aren’t liberals are wired.

​Framing  problems in ways that show how they impact individuals, and solutions in ways that show these problems can be overcome with individual initiative (or the sum of individual initiatives) is much more likely to get non-liberal Americans to listen to you and perhaps take action.  
​I’m certain this advice won’t be widely adopted and that’s ok. What I’m hoping to convey is that effective political communication requires an acknowledgement of cultural context. I’m not saying that anyone has to change their political beliefs. But if you can’t convey your political beliefs in a way that gets a wider audience to at least consider what you are saying, you’ll have no realistic chance of implementing the change that you claim you want to see.
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<![CDATA[Your Opinion Is Not Your Identity]]>Wed, 21 Feb 2018 22:44:42 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-other-stuff/your-opinion-is-not-your-identityBy Dave B.
Your opinion is not your identity. According to Merriam-Webster an opinion can be defined as, “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter”, a “belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge”, or “a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert”. Nowhere does it say that your opinion defines who you are.
The problem with equating your opinion with your identity is that it makes opinions resistant to change; a potential change in your opinion becomes a threat to how you see yourself as a person, and as many psychological professionals will tell you, that’s one of the threats that most people will vigorously attempt to avoid.
 
I’m a fan of individualism. I think the recognition of individual rights has been THE most important factor in the general increase of prosperity and general decrease of oppression in the world. But individualism run amok can be dangerous, as can be seen by the political situation throughout the Western world today.
 
Here’s a challenge for you: name five major public policy issues that you are open to changing your opinion on. Too tough? Alright. Name five major public policy issues that you are open to accepting a compromise on. If you can’t do that, how do you expect your “opponent” to be open to doing so?
 
We can’t thrive in a society where every issue with our neighbors has become a zero-sum one. I’m not going to pretend that I have a solution to the mess that we’ve created for ourselves. But I PROMISE that I’ll do my best to hear out as many sides to as many issues as I can and try to work for an answer that we all can live with. All I ask is that if I disagree with your opinion, you try not to take it as a threat to who you are. 
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