Fact From Fiction

How much of a society's culture, politics, attitudes, etc. can be determined by fictional representations (particularly if an author is a member of that society at the time period depicted in the wok)?

Obviously, an author's biases will color a work to some degree. However, if the author is seeking to portray their society as accurately as possible as a given to the story line, than how different a view of that society would you get than if you were to interview a (thoughtful?) member of that society?

I ponder this because of a recent attempt in the media to highlight the agreeable aspects of the Swedish healthcare system in order to promote Obamacare here in the US. How does the actual state of healthcare in Sweden compare to how it is portrayed in a fictional work I am reading?

The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Swedish healthcare is incidental in the story for the most part. It mentions (government) cutbacks adversely affecting the treatment of a relatively minor character, wherein a major character steps in to provide private funds to supplement this deficiency in care.

I recall that there were one or two other (again incidental) remarks on the weaknesses in Swedish healthcare (and other services) due to governmental shortfalls in funding.

It would be interesting to determine if these fictional perspectives square with the factual status of the socialized medical carer system in Sweden. If they do coincide with reality than it would bolster the arguments that modeling our own healthcare system after those in European nations is not necessarily a good approach, and to my question—perhaps fiction can provide a relatively sound view into societal issues.

I would think that this approach is less useful where the main question of interest features prominently in the fictional work as it will likely be heavily colored by the author's bias. After all, it may be the author's intent to promote a certain viewpoint on that particular question. Incidental references may be much more useful.

When fact is fiction and TV reality —U2

To See Clearly

There is so much that I don't know, how can I do otherwise but live by faith?


Listening to the book 1776 by David McCullough. Exceptional treatise on the Revolutionary war, General George Washington, several other major players; but most fascinating of all has been the insights in the military forces.

It details what kind of men made up the Continental Army. Where they came from. Their training, or lack thereof. Their interactions with each other (the southern militias did not care for the 'stupid' Yankee forces—but they worked through it). Their courage and cowardice on the battlefield. Their triumphs and failures. To think that these completely ill prepared, and ill-suited guys from all walks of everyday life could take on, and defeat the greatest empire of their time is nothing short of a real miracle!

It certainly has provided new insight in my thinking regarding the Second Amendment. Without those commoner butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers with the 'assault weapon' rifles of their day there would be no America.

Were they always the picture-perfect patriots we commonly envision? Heck no! They were human. Some braver than others. Some were rotten scoundrels given the chance. Many were terribly homesick; having never traveled before. They suffered all kinds of hardships, not the least of which was the oft lack of pay, which they desperately needed to send back home.

They were (at least initially) really despised by the professional troops on the other side. But they did the most amazing feats. At least two or three nighttime maneuvers that completely astonished the British forces.

Well. It's a fine book. If someone could adequately adapt it, it would make an amazing movie.

PS I believe it reveals one of the first instances I can recall of biological warfare: people infected with smallpox sent among the Continental army.

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

Senator Feinstein introduced her proposed new "Assault Weapons Ban", S.150, in the Senate this week. It is (currently) posted on her website, and Scribd. I have not read the 122 pages of text yet or any commentary yet, but I'm sure it's going to be draconian, and no doubt unconstitutional.

From the time of her first AWB:

"I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that’s what I did... I carried a concealed weapon and I made the determination if somebody was going to try and take me out, I was going to take them with me." —Sen. Diane Feinstein, 1995
Wonder if she limited herself to 7 - 10 rounds of ammo in her concealed weapon?

"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright [gun] ban, picking up every one of them—Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in—I would have done it." —Sen. Diane Feinstein, 1995"
Yes, that about sums it all up doesn't it?


Confirmed. I've said it for years. There are so many laws & regulations on the books; a day doesn't go by that you aren't breaking at least one of them...

Web of environmental rules threatens Gulf Coast businesses with jail, steep fines

While there is no concrete figure, there are an estimated 300,000-400,000 environmental laws, statutes and mandates believed to be in circulation nationally. Many can land a person in prison, regardless of whether another person, plant or animal is harmed...

Part of the problem is that no one knows the total number of federal criminal laws on the books. Big and bulky, the federal criminal code is chock full of obtuse and obscure laws.

"You will have died and resurrected three times," and still be trying to figure out the answer, retired Justice Department official Ronald Gainer once told The Wall Street Journal in a report about the bloated volumes of criminal law...

...in his book "Three Felonies a Day," Boston-based attorney Harvey Silverglate says criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected and that prosecutors can pin crimes on anyone. [Emphasis mine]
Updated January 26, 2013: Web link. Quotations added.

Trillion Dollar Coin: Call It In The Air

You have to admit, this is pretty funny. Jon Stewart calling out the oh so 'brilliant' Paul Krugman on the trillion dollar coin farce, and then Krugman... well, he just makes Stewart's case.

Stewart first took on the coin in a segment on "The Daily Show" last Thursday, joking that "if we’re going to make s--- up, I say go big or go home" and suggesting it makes just as much sense to mint a twenty-trillion dollar coin or maybe just "find" a "one-hundred quillion-dollar bill" featuring a centaur and a unicorn as it does to make the trillion-dollar coin. Krugman then blasted Stewart in a Saturday column, "Lazy Jon Stewart," for the show's mockery of the coin.
You can't fault Stewart on that one. If you're going to do it, do it right. But Krugman disagreed and "...blasted Stewart in a Saturday column, 'Lazy Jon Stewart,' for the show's mockery of the coin."

The article goes on to say that Stewart retorted:
"I stand by our research on the topic, the due diligence, and my ignorant conclusion that a trillion-dollar coin minted to allow the president to circumvent the debt ceiling, however arbitrary that may be, is a stupid f---ing idea," Stewart said. "I said, good day. And I’m a fan of Paul Krugman."
The video is classic!