September 11th, 2009


Learning from Other Countries

Howbout the first lesson: actually look at what other people are doing, then use it for inspiration (if effective) or warning (if flawed).

What the US Can Learn from Health Care Reform in China
Kathleen E. McLaughlin, GlobalPost: "As the United States is once again mired in a debate about health care reform, across the Pacific the world's largest socialist country is trying to piece together some semblance of universal health care for its 1.3 billion citizens."

Poem: "Bothering Baba Yaga's House"

This poem came out of the September 8, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from je_reviens and sponsored by dormouse_in_tea. It features two pieces of Slavic folklore (Baba Yaga and Rusalka) and snippets of Russian language (which I hope appear intact).

Bothering Baba Yaga’s House

It was quiet on the Georgian border for once,
And the U.N. peacekeeper, tired of keeping peace,
Decided to go looking for some action.
Through the forest he went,
Brushing past the strange soft conifers.
He followed the sound of running water
To a little clearing in the woods.
There stood a large white cottage
And a small chicken house, on legs,
With writing above its tiny door:
Дом ромовой Бабы Яги
Black hens scratched and pecked in the yard,
Overseen by a black rooster with a beady eye.
A girl came out of the house, smiling but silent,
Her pale hair framing her fair face.
He grabbed her –
She kissed him –
And the young man found that he could not breathe.
He struggled, but she moved in his grip like water
And he could not hold her away from him.
Then an old woman came out of the house,
Cackling through her iron teeth.
Baba Yaga and her daughter Rusalka
Cut the meat from the man’s bones,
Bundled it into their cauldron,
And swept away all traces of him
With an enchanted broom.
When the troop came by, later,
Asking if anyone had seen their missing man,
The women replied, “Нет, нет,”
And spread their empty hands.
Then one of the men muttered
That they had come to a bad place
And better leave while they could,
And so they did.
The women were, after all,
Quite full.

Poem: "Folkweave"

This poem came out of the September 8, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from wyld_dandelyon and sponsored by dormouse_in_tea. Here I've used the extended metaphor of loom and weaving to talk about folk tales. Also, all the verses use the same rhyme pattern, but not all use the same meter -- the way the frame of a loom stays still, but the other pieces move within it.


Language is a loom
On which we weave our tales:
Grammar’s beam and boom,
Vocabulary’s nails.

The plot is the warp
That lays out the hassle,
The road from the thorp
That runs to the castle.

The details are weft
As they run through and through
The culture is left
To define what they do.

Cleverly the bard
Binds them to the shuttle:
Linen plain and barred,
Colors bright and subtle.

Morals are the troth
That does not yield to knives.
Stories are the cloth
With which we clothe our lives.

Poetry Fishbowl Report for Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The poetry fishbowl got off to a slow start -- it was about an hour before the first prompts arrived -- and toward the end I lost a lot of time because the Net connection kept going down. So I worked from 12:30 PM to 2:30 AM, minus meal breaks and connection dysfunctions, for a total of 10 hours productive labor. I wrote a total of 11 poems, all of them medium or long. The first poem of the day was an epic, making me late for lunch, and I got 3 more after that, so 4 epics in one day; about a third of my output. Out of the 11 poems, 5 had rhyme and meter, most of those ballads of some sort; the rest were free verse.

Now here are two oddities, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time for each: 1) Every poem used one and only one prompt; no combinations. 2) I used one and only one prompt from each person. Some folks gave me a lot of great prompts that I wanted to use, but between the epics and the technological struggles, I didn't have time for anything more. Much of this is probably due to the topic, since folk tales are narratives already and they tend to run long; that's okay. Last month ran to medium and short poems.

This month, 11 people sent prompts, including first-time prompter dormouse_in_tea. There were 43 comments including mine.

The following fishbowl poems have been published:

"The Bindweed Blues"
"Bothering Baba Yaga's House"
"Come Midwinter at Carterhall"
"The Cuckoo's Song"
"The Moon in a Silver Cup"
"The Mullah Goes to Chelm"

Another poem, "The Cuckoo's Song," is partially sponsored and seeking cosponsors. I have updated it to include all the funded verses, so there are now 14. A tally of donations appears with the poem.

The general fund currently contains $5 but there were no short poems this month (and the single $10 poem has since been sponsored). I've contacted that donor to discuss what to do. Meanwhile, however, there are two $15 poems remaining so if anyone wants to chip in $10 you could vote between "The Call of the Cwn Annwn" or "Electronic Arcana."

This month's donors are: ellenmillion, marina_bonomi, janetmiles, minor_architect, asakiyume, and first-time donor dormouse_in_tea. I'll get a donor perk-post written ... er, when I can cram it into my schedule. (I have activities planned every day from now through Monday. O_O ) Thank you all very much for your support.

The permanent landing page for this project is here.

Sauce for the Gander

It occurs to me that insurance companies (in general, but especially health insurance) have gotten into a habit of promising things they never deliver. "Bait and switch" is generally illegal, and grounds for lawsuit or complaint to chamber of commerce, Better Business Bureau, etc. And insurance companies often wind up owing people huge amounts of money that they refuse to pay. That's grounds for setting a collection agency on them.

I don't expect this sort of tactic would work very often; the companies are too rich and powerful. But if a LOT of people started suing the insurance companies and turning collectors onto them, it would drive them nuts, maybe even make them stop being so horrid. And halting that kind of attack would be a giant game of whack-a-mole, because there are millions of dissatisfied customers out there.