Friday, June 30, 2006

lack of health care

U.S. citizens are going to other countries for surgery.

Medicare patients can't find doctors.

U.S. patients rate their healthcare among the worst in the industrialized world, despite costs that surpass nearly all those in every other comparable country, a multi-national survey concluded Tuesday.

I am currently experiencing the problem of lack of availability of health care to many in our country. I don't have health insurance. I have cataracts, and am already legally blind in one eye. Because I worked at a low-paying job for four years before I got my current job last winter, I have little savings - only what I have been able to save since getting this job. I need to get surgery on one eye while I can still see well enough to drive and work with the other eye; I am beginning to have problems with my good eye. If I can get the surgery on my left eye in time, I'll be able to continue working and paying taxes, and of course I won't be drawing disability payments.

In regard to the U.S. government, I am not eligible for disability until I am legally blind in both eyes, and then I would not be eligible for Medicare for two years. Of course, of U.S. Congresspeople get medical insurance paid for with our taxes. I guess they're too busy, trying to pass constitutional amendments against the handful of people who burn American flags, to spend time on such unimortant things as our citizens who are becoming disabled, and dying, from lack of medical care and needed medication.

In regard to the state of Georgia, I am not eligible for Medicaid because I make too much money. In fact, when I was living in poverty while working for Waffle House, I made too much money for Medicaid!

I make too much money to get help from the Lions Club. ( I understand that they have limited funds, and their priority will be the poor.)

The local United Way doesn't have any member agencies that provide surgery, but they suggested a couple of agencies that might be able to help, including the National Federation of the Blind, which gave me another couple of referrals.

So, I am currently waiting to talk to the appropriate person from Prevent Blindness Georgia, who who has been out in the field. I have no complaints, she's doing her job, and there are many who need help. But I am feeling increasingly anxious as my good eye is getting worse.

I am going to get information about surgery in foreign countries, in case I have to do that, instead of waiting until I am legally blind in both eyes, and destitute, so I can get help in my own country.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

secret weapon planned against North Korea

Monkeys see no evil, hear no evil

"The nation's top climate scientists are giving "An Inconvenient Truth,'' Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy. The former vice president's movie -- replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets -- mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press. "

This is no surprise for those who've followed the facts on what scientists are saying about global warming in scientific news sources, rather than the main stream media (MSM) reports, which almost always include references to one of the very small number of scientists who deny global warmning, or attribute it solely to natural cycles, and who usually are in fields not related to weather, and who usually turn out to be funded by Mobil-Exxon, which of course are not reported by the MSM.

"While more than 1 million people have seen the movie since it opened in May, that does not include Washington's top science decision makers. President Bush said he won't see it. The heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA
haven't seen it, and the president's science adviser said the movie is on his to-see list."

"They are quite literally afraid to know the truth,'' Gore said. "Because if you accept the truth of what the scientific community is saying, it gives you a moral imperative to start to rein in the 70 million tons of global warming pollution that human civilization is putting into the atmosphere every day.''

It is certainly ironic that severe flooding of the kind to be expected from global warming is occuring right when the leaders of our country are asserting their allegiance to ignorance on the matter. Of course, we can't know that a particular piece of bad weather would not have occurred w/o the greenhouse effect, any more than we can know which of the small percentage of lung cancers would have occurred w/o exposure to tobacco smoke. What scientists can do is predict trends.

I think Gore is being too easy on our "leaders". To choose to avoid knowing the truth in such a matter is in itself immoral.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's in a name - estate taxes

The rich Republicans who are trying to do away with the estate/inheritance tax call it a "death" tax, and claim it is unfair because the money has already been taxed. Even if that were so, forgive me for not feeling sorry that someone might lose money after they're dead; what are they going to do with it?

But of course, it is not a tax on dead people who can't use it; it is actually a tax on the inheritor of the money. All money is repeatedly taxed. The money that we are paid in salaries, for which we pay an income tax, originally passed through many other hands which paid taxes on it. Without the estate tax, we have people acquiring vast sums for which they did no work, and not paying tax on it. But they reap the benefits of taxation on those who work. They are protected by our military. Businesses depend on having large numbers of literate workers, who are educated by public schools. Government regulation of air traffic makes air traffic safer.

And these same rich Republicans want to do away with taxes on investments, so the offspring of the rich can inherit wealth, and invest it, maintainin their wealth, w/o paying taxes at all. It reminds me of the old British aristocracy, which considered money acquired by working to be shameful.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Iraq misdeeds no surprise

Near the beginninig of this article it says "The recent flurry of accusations against U.S. servicemen has stunned military analysts and experts."
If these people were experts, they wouldn't be surprised.

1) Previous studies have found that 95 percent of soldiers in active warfare showed psychological problems after 6 months of combat. The ones that didn't were those who were already sociopaths (aka psychopaths) with violent inclinations.

2) In role-playing studies, when groups were divided into "prisoners" and "guards", many of the guards immediately started behaving abusively towards the prisoners.

3) There are many cases of those in power in various settings abusing those they have power over, whether it be children, elderly people in nursing homes, prisoners, mentally ill, memtally retarded. It would be surprising if there were no people with abusive tendencies in the military. And I would expect that being abused in boot camp, while it might be necessary to inculcate needed military discipline (or might not be necessary, for all I know), would increase tendencies to abuse others.

4) As in other occupations where people have power over others, a certain proportion will be atracted to the occupation because they are abusive personalities. For people who don't understand logic, I will point out that I don't at all think that all or most people attracted to these occupations are abusive.

Not all experts are surprised.
John Pike, director of, a Washington-based military think tank says, “Anybody who contemplates a decision to use force, anybody who contemplates putting boots on the ground has to understand that part of what they’re assuming responsibility for is stressed-out soldiers are going to massacre civilians. It just comes with the territory.” Still, Pike said that even if true, the number of abuse cases isn’t shocking, given the number of troops and three-plus years of combat: “If this is the worst that the troops have done, the chain of command would appear to have done a pretty good job.”

Military commanders should know to expect such problems, and be pro-active in trying to prevent them. People who choose to be president and send our troops into battle have a duty to educate themselves about the realities of the situation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why less time in nature?

This study found that Americans are spending less time in natural surroundings like national parks because they are spending more time watching television, playing video games and surfing the Internet.

I expect this is true.

However, I also expect that part of the reason fewer persons are visiting natural areas is that it costs more. Entrance fees to national parks have been increased, or created where there were none before. To the working poor, $20 can be the difference between whether or not they can afford to go somewhere.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Offending delicate sensibilities

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a nod Thursday to a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from desecration.

I used to get teary-eyed over the American flag. But that was before the conservatives turned it from a symbol of our country, into a symbol of silliness and there eagerness to punish people. Protestors who burn the American flag are annoying, but they do it for the very reason that it gets a strong reaction from immature people. We tell our children to ignore teasing, that reacting simply encourages it, but these congress people are setting a poor example. If you are a wienie with such a delicate sensibility that you simply can't bear to watch attention seekers damage the flag, then turn the channel, or go in another room or something. Burning the flag produces a little bit of air pollution. The big vehicles many people drive do far more harm to our country than a few attention-seeking flag burners. My pets are too smart to do tricks for a picture of a treat.

Punishing the messanger

Pentagon Orders U.S. Reporters to Leave Guantanamo. Is this supposed to reassure people that the place is being run right? It just brings up the question as to what they are trying to hide.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is unemployment good for the poor?

This article doesn't mention that inflation that includes increases in salaries helps many poor people because it decreases the relative value of their debts. Of course, the poor (and middle-classed) have not been getting an income benefit from the good economy we keep being told is occurring. The Fed's strategy for holding down inflation is to increase interest rates, which slows down the economy, causing job loss, so that there is less demand for goods. And of course it's the poor and middle-classed who suffer the job losses. I guess those who lose their jobs for the sake of inflation should be grateful; if you don't have a job, you really need prices held down!
Of course, the article also doesn't point out that those whose income derives from lending money (i.e., many of the rich) are hurt by inflation because it decreases the value of the debt they are owed.
This article looks to me like one of the common bits of propaganda that permeate supposed business news, whose purpose is to mislead people from seeing who things really work.

Swan falls in love with swan-shaped boat

Humorous, but also a little sad for the swan.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Guantanamo suicides

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey said Guantanamo has become a political problem for the United States.
" This was an act of political warfare by the three people that committed suicide, the same as a suicide bomber in downtown Baghdad."

Colleen Graffy, deputy assistant U.S. secretary of state for public diplomacy, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the suicides at the U.S.-run camp in Cuba were a “good P.R. move to draw attention” and “a tactic to further the jihadi cause.”

Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris, the camp commander at Guantanamo, told reporters Sunday that the detainees “have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own.” “I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us,” Harris said.

I would like to say these people are warped and crazy, but unfortunately, humans have a tendency to believe that that other racial or ethnic groups are different from one's own. But even at that, these statements seem to me to be unexcusable for people at their level of responsibility. With leaders like this, no wonder some of our troups have committed atrocities.

It should not be hard for us to understand that being imprisoned for 4 years with no end in sight, w/o trial, under the conditions at Guantanamo would drive some people to despair. It sure would me!

A few years ago, one of the weekly news magazines (I think it was Time), had an article which tried to find ways to define "consciousness" so that humans have it and animals don't. It was really amusing, because my observations are that many humans don't exhibit the conditions that were supposedly needed to show that one has a consciousness, while animals sometimes show these traits. One of these traits is empathy. It is my observation that even normal people are often/usually/?always not capable of empathy for a situation that they have not experienced themselves. Now, this is not really surprising. But many people show little if any empathy even for situations they themselves have experienced. We all feel we are exceptional.

If empathy is a requirement for consiousness, what about people who aren't able to feel empathy - eg., people with narcissistic personality disorder, sociopaths (also known as psychopaths).

Neanderthals vs humans
(Neanderthals Were As Good At Hunting As Early Modern Humans.)

There has been much theorizing about what caused the extinction of Neanderthals. One possibility (?probability) I have seen mentioned is that early humans killed them off because they were simply more violent. Now, I'm sure I can't be the only person who has considered that possiblity, but nobody else seems to want to admit it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Eating worm eggs for health

Eating parasitic whipworm eggs might be good for us.

Besides helping our immune systems, I would add that the idea of eating whipworm eggs could be good for us if we make a habit of thinking of it just before we eat, to reduce our appetite! :)

Puff's happy ending

I saw a Peter, Paul, and Mary on PBS TV last night. I love them! Of course, they played "Puff, the Magic Dragon" to a group of children. Some of the children appeared solemn. PP&M seemed to think that making the last verse "Puff ... lives by the sea", instead of "lived", would be a help. However, as someone who used to cry everytime I heard this song, this change is no help at all. The reason the song made me cry was that I feel it as a song about the lost of friendship, and being alone and lonely. It might especially affect me because I was an army brat; we never lived anywhere more than 3 years when we were growing up. Changing the tense just makes it even worse, if anything, because it implies Puff is still lonely.

I finally wrote my own ending, and now when I hear the song, I don't cry, because I remember my verse. Here it is for anybody else who wants a happy ending for this song.:

Puff's Happy Ending
copyright 1983 Patricia M. Shannon

If Puff could see the future, he would not be so sad;
for Jackie soon will marry, and have a little lad.
He will tell his son why his own youth was not a bore,
then Puff the magic dragon, will have a friend once more.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lying by omissions

John Stossel has written a book which has a good title : "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel--Why Everything You Know Is Wrong" . I read a transcript of an interview with him about his book, and considering his silliness about overpopulation, I would suspect anything he says.
He said "All those new babies are brains that may cure cancer some day."
Of course, all those new babies are brains that may create a biological weapon that devastates the earth. Many medicines come from other species. We may have already driven to extinction the species that this hypothetical "brain" would use to cure cancer.
He said "The population density of New Jersey is equal to that of India. And New Jersey is doing OK. Hong Kong is one of the most prosperous places in the world, one of the nicest places to live, has 20 times as many people per square foot as India."
I don't have the time to investigate whether these figures are accurate, but even if they are, they are misleading. Places that have such high population densities depend on much larger places, that have low population densities, for food, oil, lumber, water, steel, concrete, rubber, and other resources. Places like Hong Kong import most of their food and other resources from elsewhere. Much of the earth's land is desert, not suitable for farming, and areas that are suitable for farming are losing top soil, when they are not being covered with buildings and roads. With the number of people we currently have, we have already caused the extinction of many species, and greatly decimated the population of many species of ocean species, including fish and whales. We put such quantities of chemicals such as freon into the air, that we destroyed large areas of the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, before we realized what we were doing and cut back on the use of these chemicals. We put polluted the air with acid rain, damaging our forests, art, and the outside of our own buildings. We have polluted a large percentage of the waters in the U.S. so badly that they are not safe to swim in, or eat fish from. We have put so much greenhouse gases into our air that we putting ourselves at danger. We have probably already been damaged from these effects - stronger hurricanes, droughts, floods.

Stossel made an apology to his audience in 2000 after it was discovered that some of the research for a segment he ran discrediting organic foods was misleadingly and incorrectly cited; in fact, he referred to studies that didn't even exist.

Stossel is a libertarian. He believes free enterprise and private property will cure all ills, and government is the source of all evil. But he ignores the fact that for the sake of immediate profits, farmers in some areas of the country are irrigating their crops with water that has a high mineral content, and is killing the soil. He ignores the fact that for the sake of profits, drug and car manufacturers have hidden the fact that their products were lethal.

What is needed is balance. Too much government power is indeed bad. But too little is also bad. Parts of the world where there is no functioning government are not nice places to live! And in fact, it is because of the high population density that he defends that we need government. But that is a subject I'll talk about more another time.

Clawless cat chases off bear

Some humor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Top ten best things about global warming

10. Why pay for tattoos when melanoma's free?

An inspiration

A top New York heart surgeon who was doing a mercy-mission operation on an 8-year-old boy in El Salvador had to scrub out in the middle of the procedure so he could donate his own rare-type blood to the patient.

Army to ok mistreatment of detainees?,0,7975161.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials.

This would send a message to other countries that it is ok to treat our people to humiliating and degrading treatment. Do we really want to do this?

This is especially bad timing coming on the heels of the revelations of the deliberate killing of innocent Iraqis by our own military. It sends a destructive message to our own military people, who are stressed out by multiple tours of duty in Iraq.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Reparations for women

It's true that Afro-Americans were held as slaves, and denied rights long after slavery ended. Things are much better today than 30 years ago, even. But women were also oppressed and denied rights, and churches supported the oppression. I don't hear anybody calling for reparations for women. We should oppose discrimination and strive to give equal opportunity to all children to reach their potential, but I think reparations for conditions that occurred 140 years ago is ridiculous.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Atlanta drivers are courteous???

A recent survey claimed that Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, Seattle and Atlanta were rated as the cities with the most courteous drivers.

I live in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, and I felt that I was less traumatized by the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 is that I am used to be terrorized by Atlanta drivers. The only way Atlanta could conceivably be rated as positive is if the other cities are really, really, really horrible, or if the Atlanta drivers who took the survey have very low expectations. Or maybe their brains are damaged from the air pollution and the stress of driving here. Birmingham, Alabama, has much more courteous drivers, and it wasn't listed.

What is God telling Robertson?

Two people died and three others were injured after a plane owned by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson went down in heavy fog today.
Not being Pat Robertson, I take no joy or satisfaction from this, but given past pronouncements by Robertson, I wonder what he thinks God was trying to tell him?

As for Robertson's prediction that the U.S. coastline will be hit by storms this year, I predict that it will rain somewhere in the U.S. this very week. When doesn't a storm hit the U.S. coastline sometime in a year?
I wonder how God feels about the fact that Robertson doesn't think God is smart enough to create evolution?

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are usually religious, which fits my personal experience with these people, and Pat Robertson certainly seems to be a candidate for this condition.

Everybody knows

What everybody knows is usually comfortable and untrue.
- Naomi Bliven

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Talk sense?

"Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish," Euripedes once said.

Do you want to be Methusalah?

The discussion of whether a greatly increased life span is good reminds me of a verse from George and Ira Gershwin's song "It ain't Necessarily So".

Methus'lah lived nine hundred years.
Methus'lah lived nine hundred years.
But who calls dat livin' when no gal'll give in
To no man what's nine hundred years

How Mexico treats immigrants

Mexico criticizes us because we don't open our borders to their citizens, but they treat immigrants from countries south of them worse. If Mexico improved their own country, they wouldn't be sending so many to our country.
I have read that 1/4 of Mexican men between the ages of 18 and 35 are in the U.S. And our president and Senate want to open the gates. Is it really good for Mexico to lose so many of their people, esp. because the ones with the most initiative are most likely to immigrate?

Does clean air make hurricanes worse?

Kerry Emanuel, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist, and Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, contend that the aerosol particles, which reflect sunlight and cool the atmosphere, have been masking the effect of global warming on Atlantic Ocean hurricanes for several decades. The researchers say that it is only in recent decades, as aerosol emissions from North America and Europe have declined due to clean air standards, that the full impact of greenhouse gas emissions on hurricane strength has been realized.

So it seems we have a choice : to smother or bake.

Any day now, I expect to hear of ads funded by Mobile/Exxon saying that aerosol emissions from cars are "life".