Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Picturing preventative measures and addressing a problem's roots

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us I've decided to learn more about HTML code relating to posting images so that my blog can be as fancy as BK Marcus's. More specifically, I wanted to be able to post images and have text appear to the left or to the right of them instead of just posting an image and having text below it. The picture that I'm experimenting with here is one of pianist Brian Haas of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. In addition to having text appear to the right of the image, the image itself should be a link to a larger version of the picture that'll allow you to notice that the sticker on the side of his Fender Rhodes piano says "A True Patriot Questions Our Lying Government".

That sticker happens to be one of two stickers that the band gives out to audience members for free at their live gigs. The other sticker says "Doctors Should Teach Nutrition Not Pharmaceutical Addiction". Wise words coming from a group of 20-something jazz virtuosos. The idea behind that commentary on doctors seems to be rooted in the idea that the modern medical profession focuses almost exclusively on treating patient symptoms, often with drugs that can be addictive and/or harmful, rather than teaching preventative measures such as nutrition. Such preventative measures, if absorbed and implemented by people, would increase one's sense of self-responsibility and initiative in the face of a culture increasingly identified with traits such as dependancy on institutions for one's well-being. Then again, a healthy populace would endanger both the profitability of the medical profession and the fate of a government system determined to promote dependancy and increase it's scope of power.

Despite the radical messages promoted by Jacob Fred, I'm disappointed to announce that they're thinking is not as libertarian as you might think. I've read various interviews with band members where they will state the importance of cutting military spending so that the government can spend more money on education, health care and other social services instead. They were also enthusiastic supporters of Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who remained in the Presidential campaign right up until John Kerry's official claim to the Democratic nomination. Kucinich may have an anti-authoritarian streak to him on certain selective subjects, but his support for things like nationalized government health care and increased state interference in other realms is disappointing to say the least. I find it troubling that people can condemn the government and accuse it of lying one minute, then hope that the right people can use the same coercive apparatus to alleviate problems that are mere symptoms of a greater affliction the next minute. It reminds me of Albert Jay Nock's declaration that sending in good people to reform the state is like sending in virgins to reform the whorehouse.

I think the members of JFJO have the right idea by calling upon doctors to teach self-responsibility and prevention to improve one's health rather than continue to merely address symptoms caused by a medical affliction that could have been prevented in the first place. If that is an admirable route to take in regards to one's health, why can't the same line of thinking be applied to address societal problems and prevent the types of suffering and injustice that plagues our nation? Whether the problem is foreign conflict, rising health care costs, growing economic inequality, inadequate education for students, or anything else that troubles us, the root cause of these maladies is government intervention which is rooted in limiting peoples' options and protecting the politically privledged by means of aggression. If you like the idea of giving peace a chance, then the consistent thing to do is to not only condemn aggressive measures abroad but also at home, as Roderick Long challenges us to do in his open letter to the peace movement.

Relying on government to address the symptoms of a sick culture can be just as harmful and addictive as popping pills to address the symptoms of a sick body. If preventative measures are as wise as people think they are, then surely such measures should be applied to as many problems as possible. With government itself causing so much suffering, shouldn't limiting it's destructiveness be considered the proper prescription to our problems? As Henry David Thoreau once said: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." We need a few more people willing to strike at the root instead of merely treating symptoms, or as Thoreau would say, swinging at branches.


Blogger saltypig said...

nice! i cut my teeth on image placement stealing code from LRC. fun to float those birds.

some other things you can add to the img tag, if you haven't seen 'em already ("x" = whatever value you want, in pixels, usually, and some people put them in quotes, though i think that's fading away lately):

(breathing room to the side)
(breathing room on top and bottom)

since your style sheet probably already has a border around all images, you can do the inline CSS route to disable or modify it per pic, while also adding some breathing room all around -- in this case 5 pixels (just add this inside the img tag):

style="border:0; padding: 5px;"

or specify padding for top, right, bottom, and left (in that order):

style="border:0; padding: 5px 3px 5px 3px;"

sunni recommended this site for CSS info. it's pretty good.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Over50 said...

People get medications because they are basically too stupid to do the nutrition/exercise thing. They are too stupid because of genetics. It is an illusion to believe that government or any other social force has more effect, in the immediate sense, than genetics. If we want a better society, we have to weed out those not able to engage in the higher-level behavior we expect this society to produce.

10:58 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

Thanks for the info Saltypig! I'm still a HTML/CSS newbie, but I hope to slowly pick up more and more knowledge about that stuff, with the goal of eventually setting up my own full-fledged web site.

over50 - I do think that genetics and the stupidity factor plays a role in peoples' lifestyle choices, although I wouldn't rule out the effect that government has on people. The current Medicare/HMO health care setup we have seems to subsidize, and thus encourage, unhealthy behaviors. Not too long ago, I read an article written by a doctor who couldn't get his patients to change their lifestyles. He noticed a change in their attitude once their HMO cut back on their services.

I can personally relate to that as well. I'll admit to not always making wise decisions concerning my health, such as eating too much junk food and smoking. Now that I have no insurance whatsoever, I've been playing it safe and trying to reverse my sorry health state. Quitting smoking was of course a biggie.

12:00 AM  
Blogger saltypig said...

hey, you used some CSS. cool, man!

was kicking myself immediately after leaving that comment, because i screwed up the spacing. doesn't matter, but i'd hate for you to think it does (and meticulously dupe my screwup for the next year -- heh heh).

i think "border:0;padding:12px;", or any combo of spacing between elements, works fine.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Tim Swanson said...

You can always outsource template design to poor college students or people in India. Try Mike Ewens: http://www.foranewliberty.com

8:46 PM  

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