April 23, 2007


Caption: This man is liable to tell you anything.

The guiding thread through this week's Goat Rope will be a series of musings on how people explain the world, along with many other topics.

Let me explain.

One of the main ways that people make sense of the world is through stories. We are creatures of story and it seems to be our nature to construct narratives that explain our world.

Some scholars, such as Walter Burkert, who has written a lot about mythology, ancient Greece, and religion, believe we're hardwired for stories at the biological level.

Stories aren't the only way we try to make sense of the world, but they are probably the oldest and most deeply rooted way of doing it. Other ways include but aren't limited to rational speculation and scientific investigation. But even then, when it comes to the telling, it usually takes the form of a story.

We often see or construct stories when there's no basis for it.

And no matter how old we get, there's always a little of the child's "Tell me a story!" in there somewhere.

More on that next time.

SPEAKING OF STORIES, HERE'S ONE: a study of health care systems in the U.S. and Canada found the latter performing as well as the former at a fraction of the cost and with universal coverage:

TORONTO (CP) - Health outcomes for patients in Canada are as good as or better than in the United States, even though per capita spending is higher south of the border, suggest Canadian and U.S. researchers who crunched data from 38 studies...

"In looking at patients in Canada with a specific diagnosis compared to Americans with the same diagnosis, in Canada patients had at least as good an outcome as their American counterparts - and in many situations, a better health outcome," said one of the 17 authors, Dr. P.J. Devereaux, a cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton.

"And that is important because in the United States, they're currently spending a little over $7,100 per individual on health care annually, whereas in Canada we're spending a little over $2,900 per individual annually," he said in a telephone interview from Brantford, Ont.

REINING IN CEO PAY. According to Business Week,

The House voted Friday to give shareholders at public corporations a voice in executive pay packages that typically equal 500 times the salaries of workers at those companies.

The shareholder vote under the bill would be advisory only. But Democratic backers of this provision said that investors need a say when companies losing money or laying off workers are paying executives eight- and nine-figure salaries and retirement packages.

"This is not an aberration, and there is a hue and a cry from the American people across the American landscape that is saying something must be done," said Rep. David Scott, D-Ga.

The bill will fact a tough fight in the Senate and is opposed by the White House.

MINERS DIE, CEO PAY HIGH. Rescued from last week's news, International Coal Group's CEO was paid $1.6 million in 2006, the year 12 miners died at Sago and the company's stock fell by 42 percent. But that's nothing compared with the compensation of Massey CEO Don Blankenship, who received nearly $27 million. That's enough to buy almost anything...except maybe an election.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

About twenty years ago I met an Episcopalian theologian, Alan Jones (he wrote "Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality"), who told me that he has given up reading theology books and now centers on novels. The novelists, he said, often same the same things, write better than theologians, and their stories are much more interesting to read.

El Cabrero said...

He may be right. Jesus prefered parables to long discourses too.

By the way, I'm still crawling through Bros. K.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Bros. K is a very long crawl! I hope you're reading a good translation.

El Cabrero said...

Can't vouch for that--but I can swear it's not an abridgement!