Friday, August 31, 2007

AMERICA LOSES Two-thirds of its Professional Songwriters

> America has LOST TWO-THIRDS of its PROFESSIONAL SONGWRITERS over the past decade due to illegal downloading, piracy, radio deregulation and corporate mergers.
> Radio Deregulation has resulted in dramatically fewer spots on radio playlists. A few companies program the majority of country music reporting stations.
> Mergers and consolidations have resulted in fewer and fewer staff songwriter positions.

> MORE THAN 1 BILLION files are illegally downloaded EACH MONTH!
> Copyrights are the #1 BALANCE OF TRADE EXPORT item for the United States.
> When someone steals a song on the Internet it is not a victimless crime. Songwriters pay their rent, medical bills and children’s educational expenses with royalty income. That income has been dramatically impacted by illegal downloading, so many have reassessed their careers as songwriters. Songwriters are choosing other professions because they cannot earn a living- in great part due to illegal downloading.

We're not What We Say We Are

Some more on cheap grace:

copyright 1991 Patricia M. Shannon

We say that we're just below angels,
but we sit on our butts all day,
watching the boob tube and killing
our souls a little more each day.

We say we're the peak of creation,
master's of all we survey,
but we're killing our rivers and forests,
and expecting our children to pay.

When will we learn, will we ever learn
to be what we say we are?
Is it too much to expect us to try
to be what we say we are.

We say that we're rational creatures,
not animals, no not we;
but we think that the purpose of college
is to support the football team.

We say we're a Christian nation,
leaders of the free world we are;
but we're spending our money on weapons,
and allowing our children to starve.


Monday, August 27, 2007

why overeating?

Most people are aware that the U.S. has a weight problem. There is much discussion of why, and of course, the obligatory casting of blame on the overweight individuals. True, many people eat too much and exercise too little. Bu why now. Is it really due to some moral decline that we are more overweight than previous generations. I don't think so. And I don't say this out of self-interest, because I have kept my weight down pretty well. I am within the suggested guidelines for my height.
A society-wide change suggests changes in social conditions. have changed. And of course, some are obvious - sedentary jobs, cheap food is fattening, even a possibility that a virus causes some cases of obesity, lack of sufficient food before birth and in the early years causing the body to be more efficient at storing fat.

True, many people eat very large amounts of food. I assume they are eating because they are hungry. But why are they so hungry?

Some possibilities I haven't seen discussed:
I know from personal experience that stress can increase the appetite.
I also know from experience, and studies I have read, that lack of micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) can cause a craving for certain foods. I expect that part of the obesity epidemic is due to a deficiency of micronutrients in our food, causing a craving for enough food to provide the necessary nutrients.

Friday, August 24, 2007

high-tech visas

Business claims they really, really need to import large numbers of high-tech workers.
I can see their point. They're actually having to hire people over 50 as programmer/analysts. The horror of it. The next thing you know, they will be hiring new graduates, if there are any who are still willing to get a degree in IT nowadays. Just think, if they can't import workers from overseas, they might actually be forced to take effective steps to stop our habit of throwing away large numbers of our own people, who happen to have been born in deprived circumstances, but who have the potential to succeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Worship of country

Where did the silly idea come from that loving our country means worshipping it, being convinced that it is better in every way than every other country? Then the citizens of all other countries would have to either not love their own county, or would have to believe a lie. But then, maybe we are the ones who are deluded?

Of course, no country can be the best in every thing, any more than any person is the best at everything. Narcissists are not people to be admired. But to believe your country is better than all others in every respect appears to me to be a form of narcissism. If you don't think your loved ones are perfect, does that mean we don't love them. Of course not. If we have to believe someone is perfect in order to love them, that shows that we do not love them.

Where does this idea come from, anyway? It has several roots that I can discern.
One is the apparently genetic tendency to consider one's own group as better than others, and to regard other groups with suspicion and fear.

Another is that the belief that one is a member of a perfect nation boosts one's ego.

Another is that if our country is perfect, we don't have to spend our time and energy improving it, a motivation the opposite of love.

This tendency may be particularly strong in the U.S., which is mostly populated by voluntary immigrants, and their children. Many find life much better here than the place they came from. Also, if their expectations were not fulfilled as they expected, the fact that they sacrificed to come here can cause them to value their new country all the more, because the belief that they had made a great sacrifice for nothing is unbearable. (When groups who believe the world is going to end on a certain day, and it doesn't happen, some of the members of the group will believe in their leader or teachings even more strongly, if they have made large sacrifices because of their beliefs).

And the power elite indoctrinates us with this idea for their own benefit. If the we believe that our country is better than all others, it keeps us from rebelling and changing things.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Religious Doctors No More Likely To Care For Underserved Patients

An example of "Cheap Grace".

Although most religious traditions call on the faithful to serve the poor, a large cross-sectional survey of U.S. physicians found that physicians who are more religious are slightly less likely to practice medicine among the under-served than physicians with no religious affiliation.
I'm posting a comment posted to the following article, since their archived articles don't include comments. This is understandable, because it would greatly increase the amount of storage space they would have to pay for, and many/most of the comments are at best worthless.

I actually have 2 medical insurance plans that I pay premiums for: United Healthcare (which is one of the biggest scams I''ve ever encountered on the planet) and Medicare. So far this year I have had 9 claims submitted to United Healthcare (UHC) for a total of just over $10 thousand. They have processed these claims 17 times so far and still aren''t finished with them. Of this ten thousand bucks, UHC has paid a whopping $267!I have had to call UHC''s customer service line 8 times, file a written appeal with their company and file a complaint with my state Insurance Commissioner over a $352 claim for a March emergency room visit that UHC has repeatedly agreed that they should pay in full but never has.Further, this health insurance company rejected all facility charges associated with my last two hospitalizations. They claim the bills were not submitted in time. I can''t speak for one hospital but I actually visited the the other and watched as they submitted the claim for processing- the second time of three submissions!I''ve had to give up my oxygen equipment because UHC wasn''t paying for it despite the fact I was told they would. Now I struggle day for day and desaturate at night and my body is deteriorating. I need a intrathecal pain pump but I know getting them to pay would be futile.Why is our health care so expensive? Ask united Healthcare. Posted by cbsreader4 at 05:58 PM : Aug 17, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cat Disease Linked To Flame Retardants In Furniture And To Pet Food

"Science Daily — A mysterious epidemic of thyroid disease among pet cats in the United States may be linked to exposure to dust shed from flame retardants in household carpeting, furniture, fabrics and pet food, scientists are reporting in a new study. "

"Janice A. Dye, DVM, Ph.D., at the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues from there as well as Indiana University and the University of Georgia, report evidence linking the disease to exposure to environmental contaminants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which the researchers found to be elevated in blood samples of hyperthyroid cats. Their findings were based on analysis of blood samples from 23 pet cats, 11 of which had the disease, termed feline hyperthyroidism (FH). PBDE levels in the hyperthyroid cats were three times as high as those in younger, non-hyperthyroid cats."

"The epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats began almost 30 years ago, at the same time when PBDEs were introduced into household materials as a fire-prevention measure. Although the disease was first discovered in the U.S., it has since been diagnosed in Canada, Australia, Japan and many parts of Europe. Hyperthyroid disorders have also increased in humans--former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush have the disorder, and even Millie, their Springer Spaniel, had contracted it."

media distortion

Remember to check out and for daily updates on how our well-paid media is destorting the news on behalf of the special interests who fund them.

From yesterday's Daily Howler
"On Sunday, the New York Times wrote a long editorial which told one part of a two-part story (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/13/07). U.S. health care isn’t nearly as good as its European counterpart, the editors said. But uh-oh! The editors forgot to tell Part 2 of this story. Omigod! Because of their single-payer systems, European nations are producing superior health outcomes—while spending massively less per-person than we do in the U.S.

They get better results—at half the cost! Somehow, the editors failed to mention that second fact—the fact which makes this story so stunning. And then, the letters came pouring in. And none of the people who wrote to the Times mentioned this striking fact either!"

Monday, August 13, 2007

who will protect us from the protectors?

This year's ugly irony award has got to go to the case of 20-year-old Airman Cassandra M. Hernandez, who now faces court-martial after refusing to testify against three men she accused of raping her. Hernandez told WRAL, a CBS affiliate in North Carolina, that she'd been gang-raped by three fellow airmen after a party on May 16, 2006, but chose not to testify after feeling pressured by the Air Force and meeting with one of the defense attorneys without her victim's advocate. In a letter (quoted by addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Hernandez explained that "under enormous stress and after consultation with the legal office, I made the decision not to testify ... the pressure of the judicial process was too much for me, and I felt like no one was looking out for my interests."

And what is Hernandez's reward for succumbing to intimidation -- I mean legal advice -- from the other side? The Air Force has charged her with committing "indecent acts" with the three men, as well as underage drinking. (As Feministing notes, the definition of indecent act according to military code seems slippery at best.) But that's not even the weirdest part: The three accused officers have been granted immunity in return for their testimony against her. If Hernandez is telling the truth, she's effectively being prosecuted for her own rape.

U.S. ranks just 42nd in life expectancy

Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries.

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.

Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino and Singapore.

Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.

Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

Another reason for the U.S. drop in the ranking is that the Census Bureau now tracks life expectancy for a lot more countries — 222 in 2004 — than it did in the 1980s. However, that does not explain why so many countries entered the rankings with longer life expectancies than the United States.

Just 4 days ago, I told someone that the U.S. was about 23rd. Now I found out it may have gotten even worse. Because of the increase in the number of countries for which we now track life expectancy. So we might already have been far lower than we thought.

Friday, August 10, 2007

rich get richer, poor get poorer

The rich really are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, a new University of Michigan study shows.

Over the last 20 years, the net worth of the top two percentile of American families nearly doubled, from $1,071,000 in 1984 to $2,100,500 in 2005. But the poorest quarter of American families lost ground over the same period, with their 2005 net worth below their 1984 net worth, measured in constant 2005 dollars.

The poorest ten percent of families actually had a negative net worth---more liabilities than assets. The poorest 5 percent of American households had a negative net worth of a little more than $1,000 in 1984, compared to nearly $9,000 in 2005.

don't give up

from the on-line book "The Authoritarians"

If the people who are not social dominators and right-wing authoritarians want
to have those same rights in the future, they, you, had better do those same things too, now. You do have the right to remain silent, but you’ll do so at everyone’s peril. You can’t sit these elections out and say “Politics is dirty; I’ll not be part of it,” or
“Nothing can change the way things are done now.”The social dominators want you
to be disgusted with politics, they want you to feel hopeless, they want you out of their way. They want democracy to fail, they want your freedoms stricken, they want equality destroyed as a value, they want to control everything and everybody, they want it all. And they have an army of authoritarian followers marching with the
militancy of “that old-time religion” on a crusade that will make it happen, if you let

no thinking allowed!

Hitler is reported to have said,“What good fortune for those in power
that people do not think.”

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians

This is an on-line book about Bob Altemeyer's research on authoritarians. Over the years, I have seen references to this research, and it is exciting to have the book available.
OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Norcross Coffeehouse, Thurs. Aug. 9, 2007

Catacombs Coffeehouse is 8pm, the 2nd Thursday of each month at :
Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church,
5100 South Old Peachtree Rd.,
Norcross, GA 30092

The following performers are scheduled :

08/09/07 Ron HippKnown for his rich baritone vocals and beautifully altered guitar tunings.

09/13/07 Bill KahlerWell-known folky rock singer.He even recorded a song for the Waffle House jukebox!

10/11/2007 Harmon Koetz and Harm's Way

Act 1. Buck Buckley BandAmerican roots
Act 2. Octave Atlanta's female acapella group, performing jazz, pop, and rock hits.

12/13/2007 Montana SkiesCreates a unique new sound, from finger-picking to flamenco, with the unusual pairing of cello and guitar.

The Truth About Denial

A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on.

...In January, nine leading corporations—including Alcoa, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, Du Pont and General Electric—called on Congress to "enact strong national legislation" to reduce greenhouse gases.

...every time the scientific case got stronger, "the American public yawned and bought bigger cars," Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey congressman and physicist, recently wrote in the journal Science;

...Groups that opposed greenhouse curbs ramped up. They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real," says David Goldston, who served as Republican chief of staff for the House of Representatives science committee until 2006.

...They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real," says David Goldston, who served as Republican chief of staff for the House of Representatives science committee until 2006.

...Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings. No amount of white papers, reports and studies is likely to change that. If anything can, it will be the climate itself. This summer, Texas was hit by exactly the kind of downpours and flooding expected in a greenhouse world, and Las Vegas and other cities broiled in record triple-digit temperatures. Just last week the most accurate study to date concluded that the length of heat waves in Europe has doubled, and their frequency nearly tripled, in the past century. The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century. Snowpack whose water is crucial to both cities and farms is diminishing. It's enough to make you wish that climate change were a hoax, rather than the reality it is.

Good article on the efforts of the oil industry to prevent action to combat global warming. People might call for other people to do something. But I fear that our spoiled citizens won't expend even modest efforts to do their part. People won't even spend a tiny bit of energy and time to turn off their cubicle lights when they go home.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hostility Puts Men's Hearts at Risk;_ylt=AouLpYBWQZOaHVEvgNKOl8LVJRIF

Ten years of frequent hostility and depression may harm men's immune systems and put them at risk for heart disease, a U.S. study found.

These negative emotional states may also hike men's risks for related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, according to research in the August issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

The relationship between the psychological scores and C3 levels remained true even when the researchers looked for the possible effects of other risk factors. Smoking, age, race, alcohol use, body mass index and Agent Orange exposure had no influence on C3 levels.

What about women? Another example of the way studies of "people" often are studies of "men".

Dietary carbs linked to vision loss;_ylt=Ao72zSTIi1f7srZw4Wnu5wPVJRIF
The carbohydrates present in a diet can influence the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of vision loss in older adults, according to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

India's tigers in crisis, less than half estimated;_ylt=Arerw7ps4Zf1as6I3epSFI8PLBIF
India's tigers are facing their severest crisis with only between 1,300 and 1,500 left in the wild, less than half the population of endangered big cats previously estimated, conservationists said on Friday.