Monday, March 26, 2018

Profiles in courage: Samantha Fuentes

The bravery of the young survivors of the Florida shooting forces our respect and admiration.
Somehow, after the horror, they found the strength to lead.
May it inspire all of the rest of us to step up too.
There have been many, many, many mass shootings in America. But this is the first time we see a movement like this.
The strength of these young people is inspiring. It is the first time since the election that there is reason for hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Monument to children killed by guns in America

We need a wall.
A glowing black wall of names,
the names of each and every child whose life was ended by a gun in America.
First name, last name, chiseled in white.
To stand in our country’s capital,
Where we can come to run our fingertips over the letters etched in stone as cold and dead as the child it names,
And weep,
And remember
And regret,
And vow to do better.
For the innocents
whom we failed to protect.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Experience Gift

The Experience Gift

by George Sampras

Jeanie loved Christmas. The tree, especially, with its foresty smell and twinkly lights , magically conjuring beauty and life out of winter gloom. And the children: round eyes, round mouths, round cheeks so kissable in their little round faces mad with excitement and desire and hope. Every year, the same tradition: the selection of the tree, the layering of the decorations (garlands, then lights, then crystal birds and horses and snowflakes, then the shiniest gold and silver ornaments, then, to top it all off, the Christmas angel), the acquisition, wrapping and installation of the presents, the hanging of the green and red embroidered socks (“Sam”, “Trish”, “Mom”, “Dad”), the night of little sleep, as a succession of Santas tiptoed in, to secretly contribute a small wrapped trinket or two to each sock, then the morning, first long and slow then short and fast, with a mad jumble of sweet and salty foods, flying wrapping papers, and instances of joy and disappointment, more or less well concealed according to the maturity and blood sugar levels of the recipient. It was something they had done together, without fail, every year since entering the world, as miraculous as Jesus, one starlit night.

Jeanie hated Christmas. The rawness of the emotions. The vulnerability of so much desire. Expectations, high in childhood, had risen even higher. Of course they were still a family, but it was at Christmas, that they came together, atoms touching, in the same physical space. Here they crowded, like expectant concert goers, in a preordered spot at a preordained time, their hearts tremblingly exposed, exit doors unmarked and too small in case of attack. Where to take cover? There was no cover. It was an act of faith, this communion, an invocation of the spirit of childhood, of family, of love. But such powerful forces, once stirred, never come alone.

Jeanie picked a torn piece of shiny silver wrapping paper off the carpet and placed it in the Hefty bag. Three armchairs had been pushed awkwardly together to make space for the tree, leaving the room off kilter.  We are sitting ducks here, she thought.
If lucky she had – what - maybe twenty Christmases left on her celestial time clock? Time, she resolved, to make them count.

George Sampras lives in California. His, novel, The Experience Gift, will be published in 2018. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hope for heath care from Amazon

Amazon Disrupt: Has Jeff Bezos only just begun?

Can one of the world’s most innovative companies actually do good? Amazon’s announcement that it was turning its attention to healthcare caused panic in the bloated, inefficient, and vicously greedy market that is American health care. In other words, a market ripe for total disruption.

Books, clothes, household items, groceries, films, TV, music and cloud services - the logistics and IT geniuses at Amazon have nothing more to prove.  They could just sit back and let the profits roll in. Perhaps even pay out dividends to shareholders.

But what if, what if, all this innovation was just prelude? What if the real, ground-breaking innovation is only begining now, in 2018, with Amazon’s foray into the debacle that is American health care?

As a multinational with offices in all kinds of countries, Amazon management has experienced first hand the nearly unbelievable disparity in health care access, quality and cost throughout DEVELOPPED countries.

Presumably its employees in France can give birth and navigate accidents with excellent care and no cost, like everyone else in France. Multinationals like Amazon know that their French employees do not worry about losing their homes because of a health crisis. They are not innondated with dozens if not hundreds of separate, terrifying bills from an inexplicable array of doctors, labs, suppliers, catering services, and God knows what else itemizing blood tests, cotton swabs and pots of yoghurt consumed, all at prices that defy commmon sense. They do not stress because some life-saving procedure turns out to have been performed by an expert « out of network » and so will cost the equivalent of three years salary....

Amazon, like other global firms, knows well how perfectly awful the American health care system is, combining the unjustifiable administration cost of the most bloated bureaucracy with monopoly-style price gauging and airline level abuse of customers.

How can a system in which vultures like Shkreli make fortunes jacking up drug prices out of pure, unbridled greed not be ripe for disruption?An industry so exaggeratedly evil that Pixar studios created a superhero whose first act of defiance was to whisper to an elderly lady the secret for getting an insurance company to pay out on a justified claim?

Charles Dickens would find a worthly subject in the American health care system, so filled with corruption, greed and cruelty it is.

Enter Amazon.

Amazon knows a thing or two about innovation. About customer care. About logistics. About value for money.
Amazon knows how to streamline a process. Meetings to coordinate, Bezos knows, are a sign that the process is flawed. In a truly well designed process, coordination should not be necessary; communication should flow naturally.

We at Mature Women welcome Amazon to the health care industry. Disrupt has never been more needed.

Let Amazon succeed, not with gadgetry and picking just a few obviously low hanging fruit, but by a complete revolution. Why not, for that matter, a French revolution?

France does a pretty good job of delivering on the promise of free universal health care. Let that be a starting point. The French system, though not perfect, serves 60 million people, and has the merit of existing.