Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Friday, May 29, 2009

You didn't have to go to Africa

My news tells me that a dangerous new virus , called the Lujo virus, has been identified in Africa.

Those of us who follow the Red Sox could have told them about it. But no, wait...what we have is the LuGO virus. It has different manifestations, such as difficulty catching baseballs, a complete inability to turn a double play, and an incomprehension that the point of stepping up to the plate with the bat is to get on base once in a while.

There is a hypothesis that the Lugo virus can infect pitching staffs as well. However, this needs more research.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sorta depends who's calling the names

In wandering moment, I read a bit of some thread regarding the past, present and future of the Cleveland Indians and their logo.

As one would expect, a certain percentage of the posters were incensed that anyone should still be upset by racist name-calling in good fun. "Get over it" was a common theme.

At such moments, my mind wanders back some 40 years, to the moment when white Americans discovered that black Americans called them names: specifically, honky. Oh the outrage! Oh the fury! How dare those people call us names??

Now, naturally, some people in the thread drew comparisons saying, for instance, how much more offensive was the name "Washington Redskins." My daughter agrees, and asks how it would go down if the Atlanta NFL team were called "Atlanta N[we mustn't say that word]rs"

That argument misses the point. What matters is who's doing the name-calling.

Let's propose that we call the Cleveland team the Cleveland Rednecks, the Cleveland White Trash, Cleveland Honkies, Cleveland Crackers, or any one of several other stereotypical Caucasian-oriented epithets, with no contrary opinions accepted. Do we think that the shoe of sensibility might be on the other foot? It might; it might indeed.

I think either Cleveland Whiteys or Cleveland Crackers sound just fine. Hell, with a name change, they might even play up to their potential.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More reasons I'm not in politics

I should, really should, be happy that the contenders for leadership of the Republican Party are Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. That would mark me out as a politician. I'd prefer it if Cheney were indicted for war crimes. I'd also like it if Limbaugh had not been caught popping pills and had dissolved into a hallucinogenic cloud.

Cheney's recent behaviour has reminded me yet again of what Mark Twain wrote in Pudd'nhead Wilson:

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some News Day

Today's news has no shortage of gutless weeniedom. IMHO, the attempt of the credit card banks to become victims may get the gold star.

Understand that I am still contemplating the idea that by paying my credit card bills on time, said banks label me a "deadbeat." No wonder the country's finances are fucked up.

Nonetheless, let us reflect on the argument that it is somehow unfair if the credit card banks must treat their customers decently. This is akin to robbers arguing that it is unfair to have a separate, and more highly sanctioned, category for armed robbery.

Other candidates include Democrats afraid to stand up for putting terror suspects in rather high-security Federal prisons (which somehow places the Main Street of Keokuk at risk) and the latest attacks of oral dysentery affecting Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. Yet somehow, the crybaby antics of larcenous banks seem to trump everything else.

Cost of Living

Someone else is after the locals to contribute to support the troops.

As I've said here before, I'm all for providing "service members" with the small but essential everyday items which armed services in their wisdom don't provide along with food, cheap clothing and shelter. However, the latest appeal sent me off to an inflation calculator to see how badly off they are vs. how I was getting on in the Navy of near 40 years ago.

I entered at a slightly advanced rank—the sole reward of a college education—and for my first two years received $155 a month, and had to buy most of my uniform items out of that after the initial issue wore out. If we were calculating from a 40-hour week, that would be 89 cents an hour, at a time when the minimum civilian wage was $1.45. The Navy week, of course, was longer than a civilian's, and included the risk of being shot, burned to death, frozen, drowned, or imprisoned, depending on where you were. You got paid extra for the privilege of being shot at...I think it was $50 a month. In theory you got the benefit of BX (PX in the Army) discounts, but the merchandise was skewed toward dependents and didn't much help the single swabby sleeping in a rack aboard ship or on station.

At the same rank today, with the same time in service, I would receive $1569 a month. That works out to $9.05 an hour on the same 40-hour theoretical basis, while the civilian minimum wage is $6.55, with the same deductions, the same risks, and $225 a month combat pay.

Too damn bad I can't pass the physical any more. In my present situation, that's competitive wages.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Some time in the making

At a social event a few days ago, I fell into a conversation with an older woman. She related an unfortunate emergency room experience she had while visiting Ireland a few years back. Following the flawed logic that seems to accompany far too much conservative thought, she inferred that this experience was representative of all forms of (wait for it) "socialised medicine."

Watch a few hours of TV this week (a few minutes of Fox News) and you'll be treated to a circa 1993 Republican attack ad along the same lines.

OK, let's cut the shit. Speaking not as an observer, but a participant in the American healthcare circus for the past four years, these hoary chestnuts will get us nowhere. Thoughtful participants in this system differ on details, but they do agree:

--The American healthcare system is broken. Not, probably, beyond repair, but it is too much damaged for Republican platitudes to be anything but a pathetic joke, and more proof that this party is hysterically out of touch with reality.
--It is immaterial whether we have the best research and medical technology in the world when we hardly make the top ten in delivering that research and technology to patients.

There are two kinds of horror stories available for Republicans: the one I listened to is the most common. These stories are not an indictment of nationalised care, so much as they are an indictment of emergency and trauma care everywhere. As things now stand, ED clinicians are on the short end of everything but workload. We work our ED providers to burnout or death, while more and more of the 47 million people without care, and many with inadequate care, pile up on the doorstep.

The other sort of stories most often come from people living with nationalised care who find a level playing field in access offends their sense of entitlement. With a respectable address, they don't see why Junior's scraped knee shouldn't entitle him to more ED attention than that accorded a bystander with a sucking chest wound caused by the local gangs' latest firefight. In the US, one entitled family can suck up an infinite quantity of medical resources. In Canada, the privileged who are politely told to wait their turn get on the phone to the US and sob their stories to the Republican pit bulls.

Republicans like to warn that "socialised medicine is rationed." Take a good look around, pilgrim: it already is, and it's big private healthcare payers who are doing most of the rationing.

In the Republican nightmare, those 47 million uninsured people are all freeloaders who have to be forced to get healthcare. That, of course, is why Romney backed Massachusetts' reform and why it's structured the way it is. Yet what did we find out? The people who had voluntarily opted out of health insurance numbered something in the low four figures. Most of them seem to have been children of privilege, mostly male, who traded on a sense of immortality and Daddy's trust fund to keep them out of trouble. Not quite the stereotype, eh, to have all these little proto-Republicans sponging off the system.

If you want something better, it may be time to vote the wingnuts off this island. See what we can do to fix it, instead of whining about all the reasons that we can't.

There may be other rants on this topic.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Here's a product recall with stones

Apparently nothing is sacred. News of the recall of athletic cups that could make matters worse is somehow deeply disturbing. At least, it's disturbing to that proportion of the male population (say 90%) that thinks with its small head most of the time. Why, should the small head or its twin companions be damaged or vanish, it's possible this sort of male might not think at all.

And that is different HOW?