Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions and I’m already worked up.

Feeling old, slow, painfully aware of arthritis and the need to retire while I can still enjoy life, I’m learning that the things that keep me fired up or worked up are not unhealthy nor as dangerous as dealing with the bureaucracy full time every week.

I will retire within the next 18 months and anticipate that rigid, inflexible, arbitrary and self-promoting government work will become a thing of the past.

In the meantime  and after I’ve reached escape velocity from that kind of work, I believe I’ll thrive on good old fashioned “irate-i-tudes” that will keep my heart pumping and my vital signs aroused.

So my resolutions for 2010 include needed behaviorally healthful objectives and more moderation in every aspect of my own dietary and exercise habits that tend to make me feel worse.

(1) Weight loss for my own good.

(2) Less sugar, cookies, brownies, etc.

(3) More exercise if possible after med provider evaluates my knees. I’d hate to have to build a swimming pool in my living room. But … if necessary …

Then, in the area of good mental health, sustained mental arousal.

Starting with working my way through a new USA Today Crossword Puzzle every day. You can buy a book of 200 puzzles from Amazon or B & N.

They say that stuff like crossword puzzles, sudoku and other mental games help the mind avoid senility and perhaps even the dreaded “A” word.

Of course, I get a lot of positive relaxation from Farmville, Cafe World, and Camelot on Facebook plus positive interaction from most Facebook friends.

So with the mind and body under preventive maintenance procedures I can proceed with causes that keep me aroused, alive and motivated:

(4) Agitate, agitate, agitate.

For starters, for critical thinking and awareness of how we as a society tend to be distracted by “sparklies” while letting the important decisions slip away from us.

Critical thinking is what keeps a living thing alive in many cases … except when living things only think in front of the TV or while listening to snake oil pitches on talk radio.

(5) Agitate agitate agitate.

CIVIC PARTICIPATION is not an elective; is not something you can honestly say is not “your thing” and especially is not something you avoid assessing and discussing because it divides people and cancels family reunions.

What was called “civics” for me in high school in the early 1960’s emphasized process so much that there was little appreciation for what town halls really were and why citizens need to take citizenship and civic participation seriously.

I think that’s why gun-toters who “carried” openly to town hall meetings this past summer totally missed the civic points of the Bill of Rights;  thinking that the 2nd amendment could be used to intimidate and suppress the exercise of the 1st amendment. That kind of gun –toting was not the act of brave patriots as much as an action of politically manipulated citizens who were led to believe that patriotism supercedes civic responsibility.

As we tend to trust our country to political celebrities, we have learned that political celebrities – like Hollywood and sports celebrities - for most part are all alike – shallow, not-too-informed in the wisdom stuff but gifted in smiles and winks that win the hearts of untold millions of non-critical thinkers.

We underrate civic participation at our own peril. If you die because you cannot afford health insurance, the immediate cause might be the lack of insurance, but the primary cause will be the common lack of civic participation driven by critical thinking and assessment of mis-information presented as absolutely and reliably true and factual.

If you did not do something to try to vote a better candidate into office than the celebrity fool who eventually sold you down the river, then you flunked the civic participation test didn’t you.

(5) Agitate, agitate and agitate as to why citizens should consider liberals and liberal thinking as anti-America. This has been one of the most significant and deadly political games played with partisan alacrity you have ever known in your lifetime. It magnified itself into an effective political tool from a minor political talking point in the late 70’s and early 1980’s.

Today millions have bought into the lie that liberals are out to destroy America, sell out the American way of life, and deserving of either being driven out of the country or executed. They don’t admit that literally of course, but when  civically ignorant souls declares with prideful arrogance that he or she will never vote for another Democrat or imply that Obama as a “liberal president” is someone to be looked down upon, you know they have become drunk on snake oil.

I’ve seen a talk show host manipulate a political gathering in the reddest of red states –manipulated in such a way that made me turn away in embarrassment for a whole society living in ignorant bliss; a whole society that actually thanks such celebrities for keeping them in the dark and – feeding their mushroom minds nothing but sh*t.

I resolve to advocate for liberal politics and liberal religion.

(6) And finally … agitate, agitate, agitate and become obnoxiously obstinate in asking why this country needs upwards of 800 military installations globally.

Obstinately asking justification of the shallow political celebrity is same as the wise action taken by Captain Kirk in “The Undiscovered Country” when he asked the thing that pretended to be God why God needed a starship.

We need to ask the powers that be and those that wannabe why America acts imperially.

If we are not an empire then why do we have our political, military and economic fingers in so many foreign pies that do not require our involvement?

If we are not an empire why do we have such a bloody imperial foreign policy history?

If we are not an empire and our bloody imperial foreign policy history is misunderstood, why have we killed so many more innocent global human beings than “guilty” global soldiers?

Mark Twain has become someone for whom in recent years I have become an ardent admirer and someone who for me has become a legitimate role model – if at 63 old guys are still allowed role models.

Twain was a member of the Anti-Imperialist League. If you look at the original roster of members you would be surprised at who also were members.

They all asked why but were shouted down by those who thought military might and patriotism were better for this country than civic pride and global responsibility driven by that civic pride.

I’ll be driving down the roads of advocacy outlined above.

If you don’t agree with me and are reluctant to discuss why, then hide with the Bushies when you see me coming so you won’t show up in my headlights.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AVATAR ... if this teaches something good about pantheism, then I'm all for it.

When "true" religion makes its appearance we don't necessarily have to run for the cover of the big inerrant book.

NYT OP-ED Columnist Ross Douthit: Heaven and Nature

"Today there are other forces that expand pantheism’s American appeal.
We pine for what we’ve left behind, and divinizing the natural world is an obvious way to express unease about our hyper-technological society. The threat of global warming, meanwhile, has lent the cult of Nature qualities that every successful religion needs — a crusading spirit, a rigorous set of ‘thou shalt nots,” and a piping-hot apocalypse.

At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working deities and holy books, their virgin births and resurrected bodies.

As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing divinity to the natural world helps 'bring God closer to human experience,' while 'depriving him of recognizable personal traits.'

For anyone who pines for transcendence but recoils at the idea of a demanding Almighty who interferes in human affairs, this is an ideal combination." - Ross Douthit

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just found out who I am

Got this from my friend Tony

Old Cowboy

Ya think you have lived to be 71 and know who you are, then along comes someone and blows it all to the dickens...

Old Cowboy
An old cowboy sat down at the Starbucks
and ordered a cup of coffee.
As he sat sipping his coffee,
a young woman sat down next to him.
She turned to the cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy.'

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women.. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women.

When I shower, I think about naked women.

When I watch TV, I think about naked women.

It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied,

'I always thought I was, but I just found out  I'm a Lesbian.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

I can’t believe I was so wrong about healthcare reform!

Before all you liberal democrats decide those conservative republicans against socialized medicine don't know what they're talking about read these five horror stories out of Canadian Health Care: Thanks to my Facebook Friend Valerie Tarico for gathering the stories:

Canadian Health Care – Five “Terrifying” Testimonials

I married a Canadian, which got me, among other things, some pretty awesome Canadian in-laws, a bunch of friends who think hockey is actually worth watching (not for the same reason I do, which is to nerd out on the fascinating phenomenon of mob psychosis), and two kids who are fiercely proud of their dual citizenship.   It also got me a window into the Canadian health system, that bloated bureaucracy of ill-repute which for some bizarre reason provided my father-in-law with an implanted defibrillator and solid, timely medical care during his final years.

Canadians, in my experience, follow American politics more closely than Americans do, and some of them even sign themselves up for my  mailing list.   So when I sent out my latest lament, “Ode to Health Care Reform:  An Absurd Poem about Absurdities,” one of the things I got back was a testimonial from the Middle America of the Great White North:

As a Canadian, I have comfort in the system being provided even with its imperfections. I lost a wife to breast cancer. All the treatments (diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) cost me NOTHING. I am willing to pay an extra tax so I and others can benefit from health care.  May I sadly add that what the US has spent on recent wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) can build a nation? It is obvious that those who have less or no voice to voice are not on the 'to do list' of political leaders.  – Ibrahim Sumrain (Edmonton, Alberta)
Reading Ibrahim’s note, it occurred to me that maybe we should expose our own Middle America more to the horrors of the socialized medical system under which our northern neighbors suffer out their shabby lives of quiet desperation.  So, I solicited a few more comments from acquaintances and friends.

Dorthea Hangaard (Sointula, British Columbia)
Ten years ago I required surgery to have fibroid tumours removed.  Because I live in a remote community, I was concerned I would end up in a rural hospital under the care of a second-rate surgeon.  The Canadian health care system allowed me to choose my surgeon (I found a top-rated surgeon), and the hospital (I chose a teaching hospital in Vancouver that I knew would be well-resourced).  Not only that, but my compassionate surgeon allowed me to extend my stay in the hospital because I had to travel such a great distance to get home again.  While in the hospital, I received the best care available, including radical new procedures not readily available elsewhere. 

All of this cost me nothing more than the small monthly premiums I have been paying in to the medical system since I began a career (those on a low income are exempt from paying premiums).  To this day I feel overwhelmed with gratitude whenever I think of the experience.  Canadians can't even grasp that people are refused medical treatment in the U.S. because they cannot afford it.  --
Bill Jamieson (Mayne Island, B.C.)
At age 76, my dad had an abdominal aneurism, and, down the road, complications related to that aneurism ultimately killed him.  If we were in the US and didn’t have health insurance the amount of care that my father received probably would have cost a million dollars.  He had the provincial specialists working on him.  It didn’t cost us anything.  He was being fed through a TPN line through his neck, a liquid diet.  It costs a thousand dollars/day, and he was on that for at least a month.

Most of the interventions that were done on Dad were like rocket science.  They were the same techniques that would be done in a top hospital anywhere in the world.

He got timely care.  His surgery was scheduled based on his ability to respond to the surgery and his strength at the time.  We felt that his original surgical date, last spring,—if it was in the States it would have been done sooner, but it didn’t need to be done sooner.  That is one of the differences between the US and Canada in my mind.  You can get surgeries done faster in the States.  But if you have a crisis there is no delay.

This fall, on a hunting trip with my brother, it became apparent that Dad was very sick.  In the last surgery my dad had, he had three vascular surgeons, two anesthesiologists, a bowel surgeon and a kidney surgeon working on him over a period of thirteen hours. They were incredible. The ICU team was incredible. I would like to stress how compassionate the care was all the way through. There was real caring that was part of the reason he survived as long as he did. 

Gloria Lee Clark (Vancouver, B.C.)
Anna’s experience:  My sister Anna was at a climbing gym and fell over 25 feet.  She managed to break her left femur and hip, smash her left heel, ankle and wrist, and break her right ankle in 2 places.  She was taken to the local hospital where she was promptly x-rayed and diagnosed.  She was in the hospital for 4 weeks and had a total of 4 surgeries to repair all that was broken.  After she was released from the hospital, there were nurses, physiotherapists, and doctors who made house-calls to care for her.  When she was able to leave the house she went to the hospital’s out-patient physiotherapist twice a week for many months.  A year later she had to have a 5th surgery to remove some pins that were bothering her.  Except for the rental of some of the equipment she needed; hospital beds, wheelchairs, etc. her entire care was covered by our Canadian medical system.  As horrible as the accident was, and no she will not fully regain all her strength and flexibility, she had the best care possible at the cost of her regular monthly MSP (Medical Services Plan).

My experience:  Nine years ago I was pregnant with twins.  I was under the care of an Obstetrician and had monthly ultrasounds.  At 30 weeks the ultrasound revealed that I was 1 cm dilated and was promptly hospitalized and placed on bed rest, apparently the best prescription for avoiding pre-mature birth. I spent 5 weeks in the hospital under the care of a team of nurses and doctors.  At 35 weeks the doctor determined that the babies needed to come out as they were not growing at the expected rate.  After their birth I spent 1 more week with them in the hospital, and they stayed for another week.  Between me and the babies there was a total of 7 weeks of hospitalization.  The total cost for me was zero.  Was it absolutely necessary for me to have stayed in the hospital for 6 weeks I will never know.  What I do know is that I have 2 beautiful healthy children and I would never have been able to afford the cost of the hospital care had I not had the Canadian medical system supporting me.

Kent James (Toronto, Ontario)
My dad waited exactly 9 weeks after deciding that he wanted a knee replacement. My son has been treated for asthma since he was 18 months old. My mom is type 2 diabetic. None of them has ever had to wait for anything. None of them has ever had to worry about who would pay for anything. And none of them wants to pay a few less dollars in tax for the privilege of taking on those risks and responsibilities.

The Canadian system isn’t perfect.  Do people die there from oversights or botched care?  Of course!-- just like they do—to borrow Bill’s words—in top hospitals anywhere in the world. But what is more terrifying, apparently, to half of our senators, is that our northern neighbors’ government-managed semi-socialized system works.  In fact, for most people most of the time, it works great.  Oh, and did I mention the premiums? Dorthea’s costs her $54/month. (“[It] gets me EVERYTHING I need. The best care I can arrange for myself. I choose the doctor, the hospital, my treatment.”)  Anna’s is $114, for a family of four. That’s Canadian.


Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  She is the author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth, and the founder of

Note:  This article received 275 comments at the Daily Kos including more interesting anecdotes from Canadians and history of the Canadian health care system.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I might be a “liberal”, a “conservative” or merely willing and able to speak up. How would you know?

From Gibran:

Once there ruled in the distant city of Wirani a king who was both mighty and wise. And he was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom.

Now, in the heart of that city was a well, whose water was cool and crystalline, from which all the inhabitants drank, even the king and his courtiers; for there was no other well.

One night when all were asleep, a witch entered the city, and poured seven drops of strange liquid into the well, and said,

“From this hour he who drinks this water shall become mad.”

Next morning all the inhabitants, save the king and his lord chamberlain, drank from the well and became mad, even as the witch had foretold.

And during that day the people in the narrow streets and in the market places did naught but whisper to one another,

“The king is mad. Our king and his lord chamberlain have lost their reason. Surely we cannot be ruled by a mad king. We must dethrone him.”

That evening the king ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well. And when it was brought to him he drank deeply, and gave it to his lord chamberlain to drink.

And there was great rejoicing in that distant city of Wirani, because its king and its lord chamberlain had regained their reason.

We live now more than ever before in societies that emphasize conformity in many more aspects of life. Somewhat driven by our fast-developing yet rapidly changing technology which itself is grounded in consumerism and materialism, it seems implied that the more we conform to what everyone else has and does, the more we are supposed to be able to function and interact with each other appropriately.

Although it is perfectly acceptable to be in agreement with someone else’s definitions, is it acceptable to not apply our own critical thinking as to whether value judgments based on someone else’s magic are adequate for us?

When we consider our own personal state of being, do we automatically compare our own “success” with the “success” of someone else?

Do we compare our own job, wealth or possessions with that of someone else – and find ourselves wanting?

Do we measure our own spirituality and sense of religion with some “attitudinal norm” commonly supported within our society?

Are such comparisons the most efficient way to stop for a moment, look around to see how we are doing and whether or not we are satisfied?

and finally from Mark Twain:

“A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This is the only definition necessary because it covers all forms of use of patriotism as motivation.

How is American Patriotism different and noble compared to anyone else’s national patriotic sense?  I would be genuinely interested in any successful, cogent, well-argued rebuttal to the following quote. The rebuttal must also demonstrate that drinkable bathwater comes from American flag wavers who use patriotism as a political tactic.

Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our time, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment in the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the honest workingman.

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others. – Emma Goldman

Oh, and it won’t be sufficient to merely attack Emma Goldman for her politics. Political leaning does not make one’s point of view more or less legitimate except when there is a choir involved.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas in times of scarcity

Ode to not taking a vacation right now:

My case load, after a week off,
would be too far behind.
The end of the first day
back at work
would leave me
ready for another
week's vacation.

I am asked: Will there be some time when that logic does not apply?

I don't know anymore.

Our governor just chopped our budget - which had been reduced by almost 50% - by another 20%.

In my small office there are three and one part-time case workers and a lead worker.

The governor has to cut the budget in order to conform to legislated budget rules and flat out declared that because she does not agree with the budget decisions she was forced to make, she will push to raise taxes and try for a new budget if the legislature goes along with it.,

Meanwhile, the population in this rural county is not shrinking nor is the need - which of course has not been reduced by 50% and then another 20%. In fact, more are coming in because circumstances in the cities are worse than coming back to the rural home to depend on parents and other relatives.

Possibly, in 18 months when I reach 65, I will retire from a circumstance worse than what awaits me Monday morning.

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

It's a vanity issue. For Mr. Trump that means he must satisfy Mr. Hannity, Ms. Coulter and these kind folks: On Networks and ...

Popular Posts