Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looks Like A New Year To Me

“I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.” ~ John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

~ ~ ~

Man: Are you armed?
Silence: We have been here since the wheel and the fire, we have no need of weapons
Man: Yeah (Fires gun) Welcome to America.”  ~ The Doctor

~ ~ ~

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney got his heart but...

I don't know why but every time I see this Tin Man I think of Dick Cheney, in fact the whole Wizard of Oz crew kind of reminds me of that Bush era bunch. 

That old evil Wicked Witch of the East swooped down and cursed the Tin Man and left him without a heart.

Our Dick Cheney got a new heart but apparently it still has a malfunction and he remains as evil as always and continues to support enhanced interrogations, er torture. “I would do it again in a minute,” Mr. Cheney said in a recent Meet the Press appearance. 

What an idiot.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Did you know? Its a gift that gay men can't give.

The New York Times Editorial Board ran this editorial a couple of days ago. Gay Men Should Be allowed to Give Blood. 

"Although the American Red Cross regularly warns that the national blood supply is too low, the Food and Drug Administration arbitrarily excludes a slice of the population from becoming a donor. Any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is “deferred” — a euphemism for “banned ” since the deferral lasts a lifetime.

This rule dates to the mid-1980s, when H.I.V. had just emerged in this country and scientists knew little about the virus. The F.D.A. was understandably worried about protecting the blood supply. But what was reasonable 30 years ago is now unjustifiable.

Recently, a federal advisory committee recommended moving to a one-year deferral; the F.D.A. will consider that advice on Dec. 2. Even a one-year deferral would be excessive, though, because it would still exclude the majority of adult gay men.

The F.D.A. argues that deferral is necessary because men who have sex with men are, as a group, at higher risk for contracting H.I.V. and other infections transmissible by blood. It also points out that there is a lag between when someone contracts a virus and when a blood test can detect it. (All donated blood is tested before it can be released to hospitals.) But the lag time for H.I.V. is nowhere near a year. It is about two weeks using advanced techniques.

The F.D.A.’s policy is illogical on several counts. For one, it groups all gay men into one excluded category. Why should a married gay man who always uses condoms be treated the same as a single gay man who never uses them? Another group under a lifetime ban is people who have accepted money or drugs in exchange for sex since 1977, which suggests that the agency thinks gay sex carries the same health risks as prostitution. Meanwhile, a man or woman who has had heterosexual sex with an intravenous drug user, or with someone who has tested positive for H.I.V., is deferred for only a year.

Several nations, including Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Japan and Sweden, have one-year deferrals. Australia changed to a one-year policy in 2000. In 2010, a study there found “no evidence of a significantly increased risk of transfusion-transmitted” H.I.V. A more sensible strategy is used in Italy and Spain, which screen for high-risk sexual practices, like unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners, and then defer donors on a case-by-case basis.

If the F.D.A. were to follow this approach, it would need to study how best to phrase a questionnaire, though it’s clear that more individualized risk assessment can work. A study published in 2013 found that Italy’s policy did not lead to a disproportionate increase in the number of H.I.V.-positive donors.

The F.D.A.’s policy is out of step with medical research. It stigmatizes gay men and unnecessarily limits the pool of possible blood donors. The agency could make a change without compromising the blood supply."  ~ The New York Times Editorial Board, November 27, 2014

I wrote on this subject before and find it incredible that this rule is in effect. Certainly there is no argument that all blood should be tested before being sent out, but to have an arbitrary law that forbids on the basis of "being gay" is just pure stupid. Sometimes it is voodoo that we do.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Day of Remembrance

Sgt. John Guess, Jr.
 Distinguished Service Cross, Recipient

Ninety-six years ago, almost to the day, Sgt. John Guess, Jr. died in a Base Hospital in France from injuries sustained in one of the most defining battles of World War I.

For a number of years I have been working on his story, "A Hundred Years of Tears - A Soldier's Story, From the Savannah to the Somme".  I am close to completion and it has been a long and interesting journey.

As we approach this day of remembrance honoring our veterans, I want to take a moment to remember my own uncle, an America hero, remembered this day along with the many, many others in our nation's history.


November 25, 1918

The air swirled and blew icy cold outside, inside you could hear the wind whistling through even the smallest crack in the wall. Emma pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders. It was the only thing she had left to protect her from this awful news. The fire crackled and spit in anger as she poked at it, seemingly it just mimicked her own raging emotions.
On her lap laid the telegram that had arrived earlier in the day from Adjutant General Harris. She had read those simple twenty-one words over and over and over again. With each reading she prayed the letters on the page would rework themselves to form new words. Words that would be filled with hope and not despair.
But no matter how many times she reread the telegram the words remained the same.

“Deeply regret to inform you that it is officially reported that Sergt John Guess Jr infantry died of septicemia November seventh.”

Emma knew she would never again feel the touch of her first-born’s hand or see his lips turn up in that boyish smile that everyone loved so much. She only had enough strength left to close her eyes and as she did the tears rolled down her face, falling from her cheeks in droplets that ended as water stains upon the telegram paper. 

The Beginning

“This is the story I never got to tell, there is so much I want to tell about these last few months, but the end really is no way to begin.”

John slowly shuffled his boots through the dust as he made his way to the split-rail fence that marked the entrance to the Savannah ranch. He was still wearing his battle weary uniform as he stepped up on the lower rail and took a familiar seat on this time worn wood. He turned his head letting his gaze spread out over the land that he had left just a few months before. Odd to view this landscape and see no one about. No animals wandering in the pens. No granddad or dad busy with the daily chores. No mother hanging out the laundry on the lines at the back of the house. None of the childish bantering between Thelma and Charlie. Just silence and dust. John brought his hand up to his forehead to push back the strands of brown hair that had fallen over his face. But he could not feel the touch of his own hand. That absence of feeling made him hesitate for a moment before resting his hand at last on the rail post.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Terror From the Inside

I guess I can talk until I am blue in the face, nothing is going to change because there are just too many people who don't see the harm we are bringing upon ourselves. But I am like that slow dying fish on the dock that flips & flops and then lies still for the longest time and then flips & flops yet again.

I had promised myself that I would give up on the gun issue in American, I realized that the NRA is just too big to stop. They have gun owners convinced that while you may not use an assault rifle for deer hunting or quail hunting by golly you have a right to own one.

This story, Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills ran as an opinion piece in the Washington Post today. It was enough to cause that almost dead fish on the dock to twitch one more time.
"Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear. It’s time to stop rehearsing our deaths and start screaming."
I never heard it put that way before but that is exactly what we are doing ~ 'rehearsing our death'. What a sad legacy we are leaving our children.   

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Pink Triangle

Pink Triangle was the Nazi Camp designation for male homosexuals

From Nazi Classification of Undesired People  a bog by Matt & Andrej Koymasky. In this photo above the "P" would indicate a Polish homosexual within the camp structure.

This week's New York Times has a book review of Gay Berlin by Robert Beachy. I haven't read the book but the review sound like it would be an interesting read.
"Under the Reich, homosexual men were subjected to persecution, deemed decadent misfits who could be “cured” only by harsh “education.” Homosexuals thus became yet another minority that was discriminated against, incarcerated and killed. An estimated 100,000 were arrested, and as many as 15,000 were eventually sent to concentration camps, where they were identified by a pink triangle sewn on their prison uniforms. Thousands of them perished."
I am looking forward to reading this book for a couple of reasons, first, I lived in Berlin for awhile in the late 70's and I like to read about the city that was my home for this short period of time and second, I find it interesting that when the rest of Germany was very harsh on homosexuality, Berlin's gay community was allowed to thrive.
"While other German cities pursued stricter policies, it was in Prussian Berlin, under a police commissioner named Leopold von Meerscheidt-Hüllessem, that more liberal policies were adopted, a development that occurred after undercover officers concluded that private clubs and bars for homosexuals were peaceful establishments and did not constitute a public threat or nuisance."
And so it seems it was this more liberal policy in Berlin that helped to establish the German roots leading to a conclusion that homosexuality was a biologically fixed trait.
"Given the extremism of the Nazi solution to human difference, it took the Germans quite a long time after 1945 to reach the sort of openness and tolerance that had existed in “Gay Berlin” before 1914."
Yet, one hundred years later we continue to struggle with homosexuality, hoping that all it takes will be to "pray away the gay". 


Enlightenment: Russian vs American Styles

Enlightenment the battle continues. Here in America we have Chelsea Handler wanting to prove she has a better body than Putin. So Chelsea babe used her right of freedom of speech and posted a photo of her fabulous breasts on Instagram. I mean come on, you'd have to be blind not to see who won this pecs/pics showdown.

The story goes that Instagram not once but three times removed said pics from Chelsea's account, deeming that women's nipples are not appropriate and are obscene. I have my own suspicions on who might be behind this, and I think it is the man himself, fearless leader of the Soviet er... sorry, Russian people, Czar Vladimir.

You see in a totally unrelated story in the New York Times Putin's Friend Profits in Purge of Schoolbooks, Chesty Putin is also getting sweet Disney characters out of Russian textbooks, as well as other unwelcome teaching aids as a way of providing the Russian schoolchildren with pure Enlightenment.

And why not, especially when you can do this and also enhance the profits of your good friend by leaving his publishing company almost untouched in the purging process. You see the publishing company Enlightenment is owned by one of Putin's best friends.
"Enlightenment is a legacy of the Soviet era, when the Kremlin sought to ensure the ideologically correct education of the country’s youth through absolute control of the nation’s curriculum. The publisher was an arm of the Education Ministry — which also went by the name Prosveshcheniye, Russian for Enlightenment — and schools had no choice but to use its textbooks." ~ New York Times, Jo Becker & Steven Lee Myers
So V. Putin continues to moves forward in his quest to bring back the good old days, you know like back in the USSR days. So if grabbing up countries gets a little troublesome just relax a bit and work on getting the minds of the citizens back in tow and then begin again.

Oh and P.S. to Chelsea: "You go girl."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Solvable Crisis

Sometimes I get impatient with humankind. We make so many things a crisis and at the same time ignore those crises that are solvable.

We, and I don’t mean you and I, but those “we’s” that run stuff and like to ring our bells. They like to make money off of our insecurities and our naiveté. This Ebola crisis until recently has been ignored in the United States. It’s OK if they are dying; West Africans have been dying from Evola for decades.

Now it’s a big deal. But you know what is a big deal? Hunger, not only in the world but also in the United States. Did you know that 50 million Americans suffer from hunger? And included in that number 17 million children.  Almost 15% of households in the United States have issues with hunger.

In 2011 8% of seniors in the U.S. had hunger issues, which translates into one million households. Shameful really, when you consider it is food we are talking about and not some unknown virus.
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."—Franklin D. Roosevelt 
Check out The Hunger Site Maybe there is something you can do to help.

And if you want to venture outside the borders of the United States you will find statistics that are really staggering.

  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.

  • The vast majority of the world's hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished.

  • Some 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth.

Go to World Food Programme for more information.

Hunger is a solvable crisis.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Obama Appoints Czar

Tzar Nicholas II - 1898

No, not that Tzar, this Czar, Ron Klain. He is the new Ebola Czar and you can read the full story here.
The NYT article says:
"Mr. Klain is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political crises. He was the lead Democratic lawyer for Mr. Gore during the 2000 election recount, and was later played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO drama “Recount” about the disputed contest."
Hmmm, I thought Ebola was a medical crisis. Wouldn't that be handled by our Surgeon General? Oh, wait, that's right we don't have a Surgeon General. It seems the Surgeon General nomination  got caught up in politics.

Maybe Mr. Klain would best be the Czar of clearing up Surgeon General Nominations, then we would have a Surgeon General, aka, a medically trained person, that could work on the Ebola medical crisis.

On the other hand if we just declared War on Ebola I am sure our Defense Department could take care of everything lickedly split.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yucca Mountain Now Deemed Safe

"Yucca, a volcanic structure adjacent to what was formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, where the government exploded hundreds of nuclear bombs, was never described as the best place for burying nuclear waste, only an acceptable one about which a consensus could be achieved." ~ Read the full story here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

American Horror Stories and Beyond

Just some of the frightening tidbits making news these past few days:

  • Reproductive Rights on the Ballot  "Amendment 67 in Colorado is a modified but no less unconstitutional version of the preposterous “personhood” proposals Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2008 and 2010. It would redefine the terms “person” and “child” in the state’s criminal code and wrongful death act to include “unborn human beings” — conferring on fertilized eggs legal rights and protections that apply to living individuals, criminalizing abortion even in cases of rape or incest or to protect a woman’s health." ~ New York Times, Opinion Piece by the Editorial Board
  • Callaway nuclear plant replacing 30-year-old reactor part "Workers will also replenish the plant's uranium dioxide supply, conduct inspections and tests, and replace 84 of the reactor core's 193 fuel assemblies, according to the release. The fuel assemblies are bundles of 12-foot metal tubes that house the uranium dioxide pellets." ~ Taylor Wanbaugh, the Missourian
  • The Fear Equation "Fear is not a weakness; it’s how people respond to danger. Unless it is calibrated properly, however, fear quickly turns into panic, and panic moves faster than any virus. ~ Michael Specter, The New Yorker
  • Police Arrest Dozens in Ferguson, MO 'Amid rain showers and a tornado watch, police in Ferguson, Mo., made dozens of arrests Monday afternoon and into the evening of people who had gathered to protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the black 18-year-old who was killed by a white police officer in August." ~ Scott Neuman, NPR, The Two-Way
  • Police Investigating Match-Fixing Allegations in Badminton (Reuters) Vittinghus told DR [Danish Broadcasting Coroporation]: "It is quite scary to be contacted this way by people who want to harm our sport. The only thing I could do was to report the would-be fixer to BWF [Badminton World Federation]. ~ Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is one of Denmark's leading badminton player

Monday, October 6, 2014

"How" do I love thee?

It seems the use of these three letters; h, o, and w, when formed into the simple word "how" has conjured up some serious legal action.  Who owns "how"?

Chobani, you know the yogurt people - they come along and say,  "HOW MATTERS". 
Voila! A Mr. Dov Seidman pops up and says, "No, no, no. 'How Matters' is mine".

Battle ensues...

You've stolen my HOW
And I want it back now 
Not with green yogurt
Blue or even PINK 
Not wrapped in cashmere
Or even in MINK 
Give me my word
And give it back NOW 
 The ways I can count If you want me to show HOW

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Republican Men, Climate Change and Women's Rights

"Hey, baby boy, take your hand off me!"

Oh, oh. It looks like the denial of climate change is going to come back to bite those stuffy old white Republican men right where it hurts most.

I guess there is more than one way to get even and patience can be a virtue. Recent studies show that climate change could alter the human male-female ratio.  It seems that male fetuses are extremely vulnerable to climate change.
"The reason why male babies may be more vulnerable to extreme temperatures is not known. But it has been reported previously that male embryos are affected negatively by stress factors such as earthquakes or toxic agents, Fukuda said."
Seems in the end it is best not to mess with Mother Nature.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rule Britannia

I received this email today from my Vacations To Go contact. It made me feel nostalgic for the feel of the sea air blowing through my hair as I stand on the deck and lean on the railing looking out into the vast array of blue hues.  No not from a voyage I took in 1840, but from my Atlantic crossing in 2013. Seems like yesterday and also like a hundred  years ago. I really need to take another cruise.
"On July 4, 1840, the first ship built for Cunard, the RMS Britannia, set sail from Liverpool's Coburg Dock and crossed the Atlantic bound for the United States. Designed to provide trans-Atlantic mail and passenger service and sailing at a maximum speed of 9 knots, the wooden paddle steamer made the trip in 14 days. This was fast in an era when it could take six weeks for mail to cross the ocean. On board were 115 first-class passengers, 89 crew members, 600 tons of coal, the mail, chickens, a cow to provide fresh milk and three cats to control rodents."  ~ Alan Fox, CEO and Chairman, Vacations To Go
Excuse me while I fix a drink and ponder my next cruise.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Republican Men Weigh in Again on Female Rights

Well the Missouri legislature has done it again, or should I say Republican males have done it again.  Last week Missouri enacted a 72-hour waiting period to its abortion law. Now after receiving consultation on abortion the woman will have to wait an additional 72 hours, rather than the former 24 hour waiting period.

Missouri law already states that no abortion can be performed “21 weeks and 6 days after a woman’s last menstrual period.” Conception is counted from a woman’s last menstrual period since there seems to be no scientific way to determine actual time of conception.

First we had Republican Todd Akin who told us all about how a woman’s body is already immune from getting pregnant through the act of rape and now we have another Republican, Missouri State Senator, David Sater, who sponsored the extended waiting period bill tell us, “I’m sure the unborn child probably would like to see an extra 48 hours for the mother to decide on whether or not to have the abortion done.”

It might serve Messieurs Akin and Sater to understand a little more about biology before making such presumptive statements. There is no evidence to suggest that an unborn child at any stage of development possesses the ability of sapience and therefore it is doubtful that “the unborn child probably would like to see an extra 48 hours for the mother to decide” but it makes for nice, if inaccurate press.

Even in reading the NIH timeline of fetal development, there is no mention of the development of rational thought in a fetus. So let’s stop with these ridiculous statements, Mr. Republican Men.

Instead we should have compassion for the females who have just endured brutal rape, whether or not it resulted in a pregnancy, the act alone is traumatic enough. Now you want this woman to sit and ponder additional days?

Knowing if a female is pregnant has always been a waiting game; there is no special sign that appears the second a woman conceives. At best it might be seven to ten days after conception that pregnancy could be determined. So a woman who has been raped has already been “waiting” and giving thought to the situation long before the pregnancy was determined. Waiting another couple of days may not seem like a big deal for a man but believe for a woman who has just endured a rape those days are a lifetime.