Saturday, September 29, 2007

The "Practice" of Medicine

I promised, when I verbally abused the legal profession, that I would do the same for the medical profession. Taking my word seriously (It may be in fact, about the only thing that I take seriously) I am therefore happy to present the following: Like most people my age (yeah, yeah I know, older than dirt), I am dealing with the fact that my body does not function the way that it used to, that I expect it to, or that I would like it to. I don't feel the need to be terribly concerned; but much like proper auto care, preventative maintenance is the best way to keep the old heap around, so I attempt to make the effort that is required. It sometimes seems to me however, that the actions of the medical professionals that I have placed in charge of my health could be what ultimately causes my demise. The methods to extend an existence which I am sure some people think has already lasted too long is causing me to agree with these critics. Like the medicine commercials that you often see on TV, the side effects of the treatment appear to be worse than the disease itself. Perhaps this is just the nature of managed health care as we know it today. Health care professionals I suppose, in an effort to treat as many and as much as they can, appear to be experimenting on us most of the time (it is called a practice after all). Treatment consists mostly in the taking of tests and medications that can then be adjusted to reach an baseline established by a bunch of medical researchers who probably have no lives themselves. Add a little this, take a little of that away, and pretty soon you get where they want you to be. This is a great way to make chili (and I gotta tell you that I have learned to make great chili this way over the years), but I'm not sure about using it to make a great ... me, and I have a few problems with it:
  • It makes me feel like a backyard pool whose chemicals you adjust every time you take a water sample. Why can't I just take a medicine (or combination of them) and feel better? Why is it necessary to adjust the combinations and doses endlessly?
  • Second, adding and subtracting these chemicals costs MONEY! Even with health insurance, the cost of these medications is more than I would like to be spending in the hopes that some day my numbers will look good on somebody's chart. (In fact, the amount is enough to lease a really nice car, and is fast approaching a house payment.)  
  • None of this ever seems to be designed in order to make me feel any better. Instead, all it appears to do is make my personal numbers closer to the accepted guidelines. (Maybe it would be easier for them to treat the chart instead of me.)
  • All of this experimenting has what the professionals call "side effects". Drug interactions, drug resistance, and (the big one) negative reactions during this seeming never-ending process have profound effect on quality of the life that I am supposedly taking these medications to achieve.
  • Failures in the proscribed treatments are not failures on my part. The fact that the guesses being made on my behalf are not working is not because I have done something wrong, or that I don't want my numbers to get better ... so stop trying to make me feel guilty about your failed predictions.
  • Finally, that having achieved a certain momentum in the path of life that I have been following, I am not all that willing to make drastic changes in order to ahieve little more than making these health care professionals happy. Beyond a certain age, all of us resist and resent change, no matter how altruistic or beneficial the motives.

Our health professionals need to start realizing that the patient is a person and a customer to be served, not a servant to be ordered about; and certainly not an experiment to be successfully completed. I am willing to be counselled and guided, but not to be scolded and ordered. They need to understand that most of the things being done in the hopes of keeping us healthy make us feel pretty lousy and are keeping us in the poor house (which makes us feel even worse). They also need to realize that the charts that they are asking us to conform to are only the latest in a series of numbers that the researchers change more often than they change their clothes. The Quality of a Life should be as important as any concern in this process; and that information won't be found on any chart, nor discovered by any test. I therefore ask that they keep in mind a bit of wisdom that at the very least, is becoming a meaningful part of my life these days:

"Having given up everything that I need to in order live longer, I now find that I no longer wish to..." 

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Things We Think Of

I recently attended a conference and recounted an old story from my rather checkered past. It seems that I had crossed the border into Canada to do some work with a customer and staying overnight, had stopped at a cigar shop to pick up a couple of cigars (Cubans, but please don't rat me out to the Feds). I had some time left on the parking meter that I had fed and stopped at a small local pub to enjoy a beer while it ran out. 

When it arrived, I placed a US $20 bill on the bar and received about $25 Canadian dollars in change (the exchange was approximately $.62 at the time). For a moment, it occurred to me that if I sat there and got drunk, I could make some serious money. Isn't it funny that the strangest things pop into our head at any given moment in time. 

Oh well, it must be me, cause I have all kinds of these strange thoughts popping into my head all the time (no surprise there), for example:  

All of the recent attacks on airliners have been done by Islamic terrorists ... So what's wrong with a little racial profiling to help weed out possible threats at the airport, and cutting grandma and her walker a little slack? * 

I can put up a fence in my backyard to keep dogs that I don't want in my yard out of it (I don't have a yard, but you get the point). So how come the Federal government can't come to the same simple conclusion about our national borders?  

If six white teenagers were to beat up a black one (sorry, African-American), it's a hate crime, but when six African-American kids (see, I learn) beat up a white kid, it's not. 

Come to think of it, why is it that white people are the only ones who can be designated by color? If you went out spouting about black, brown, yellow, or red people; the political correctness police would be string you up (metaphorically speaking, of course).  

When Republicans are accused of taking bribes, we are told that this simply proves that they are in the pocket of big business. When a Democrat is discovered to have a bundle of money in his freezer, those same people tell us not to make a rush to judgement.  

Why are we are told to switch our cars to Ethanol E85 in order to help the environment in spite of the fact that creating it produces more pollution than gasoline, that as a source of energy it has a net energy loss, and that it ruins most of the engines attempting to run it? (For those of you who didn't sit through endless math and science classes, a net energy loss means that the energy expended to grow the crop, process it into a usable fuel, and deliver it for use, is more energy than can be realized by burning it. 

We are told that letting the president of Iran speak at Columbia University is a matter of free speech, but letting the head of the Minuteman or armed service recruiters speak on the same campus is not.  

See what I mean, pretty strange stuff. By the way, I did stay for a couple of beers that night in Canada; but I didn't make any real money then. It turns out that nobody wanted to take the Canadian money when I got back to the US. I pulled most of it out again recently though, and with the recent changes in the exchange rate ($1 to $1), have done rather well. ... Go figure

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Very Special Fairy Tale

(Please look up the definitions of irony and satire before reading the following.)  

Once upon a time in the deep green woods, their lived an evil corporation that built terrible machines that polluted the earth and threatened the planet's very existence. This evil corporation was called General Motors and was one of a bunch of nasty, despicable creatures who served no one but themselves, their executives, and their stockholders. This evil creature was helped by a group of kindly, but unsuspecting little people called the United Auto Workers who unknowingly aided this evil creature in order to make a lot of money to feed their families (and buy some pretty cool stuff). Other groups of the United Auto Workers helped the other evil corporations who were also doing terrible things to the planet, but they were also good people. 

Well one day, the UAW sat down with this evil corporation and said, "We don't really care about what you want to do, but we want to be sure that we get to continue to help you, and that you will continue to pay us a lot of money."  

Not terribly surprised at this statement, the corporation said in return, "What about your health plan and stuff like that?  The truth of the matter is that we're running out of money from giving so much to you, and the other evil corporations are slowly killing us. We don't know how long we will even be around, let alone whether you will get to keep helping us."  

The UAW had expected this, and replied, "Pay us some money and let us take care of the health care thing and all the rest of that stuff. We have some connections in government and we think that pretty soon they will take care of all of this for everybody anyway. Then neither of us will have to worry about it, and we will still be getting all that money. But in return, you have to make sure that we are still getting paid a lot of money to help you."  

And the evil corporation said, "Wait a minute! You've been getting a lot of money for a long time, and that's one of the big reasons that we are running out of it. We can't do what you ask."  

With that, the UAW got really mad, and said, "If you won't keep giving us the money, we won't help you anymore. That will mean that the other evil corporations will take over polluting the world, and by showing them that we mean business in dealing with you, they will do what we ask." And with that, they went on strike.  

The End  

Well of course that's not really the end of the story and every Fairy Tale needs a happy ending, so here it is: 

Eventually the two groups made up, GM caved in for the most part, and they went back to building the terrible machines that were destroying the world, but the damage to the evil corporation had been done. While it didn't happen right away, pretty soon the two were again fighting over money, and the evil corporation had even less than they had before; but they kept giving the UAW more and more, mostly because it had become a habit. Eventually the evil corporation died, because evil corporations can't survive when they can't make money doing bad things like polluting the earth. 

The funny thing though, is that the UAW died too. It seemed that the other evil corporations that gave in to the UAW died the same way that GM did, and the ones that didn't give in found out that they didn't need the UAW to continue to build machines to destroy the earth. They also found that they made more and better machines and made more money without them. But without the chance to help the evil corporations, the UAW couldn't survive. ... and the world lived happily ever after 



Saturday, September 22, 2007

Democracy In Iraq

Well General Petreus spoke to Congress recently, and managed to sit quietly through a barrage of insults from members of our legislature who have the intestinal fortitude of a hummingbird. So little in fact, that they couldn't stand up to the despicable acts of their own support groups and felt the need to pander to them and pass judgement on the General's statement even before he made it. (For those of you in, you can only be grateful that dueling is no longer legal.) 

With more restraint than I would be able to show in a thousand years, this General honestly conveyed the success of the military strategy in Iraq. Isn't it interesting that with the troop surge in Iraq seeming to take hold and gain positive results, that the focus of attention shifted immediately to the fact that the government of Iraq is not making sufficient progress in getting it's house in order. 

First it was the fact that it took the Iraqi's from November of 2003 to March of 2004 to write a Constitution, and from then to October of 2005 to get the document ratified. Now, it appears to be that the Iraqi government cannot seem to reach a consensus in the representation of its citizens, and that there is too much infighting going on for this government to rule properly. How soon we forget ...  

The American Revolution began in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence and ended in November of 1784 when the final British troops left New York. This peace treaty itself was finally ratified in January of 1784. The Constitution of the United States was not created until September of 1787, with ratification of that document not occurring until June of 1788. 

Maybe I am missing something here, but it appears that the government and the people of Iraq have been far more timely in both the writing and the ratification of a constitution than our own government was. As for criticisms by our Congress over the infighting in the Iraqi government and its inability to run its own affairs, one has to laugh. Doesn't the Bible tell us to remove the beam from our own eye before looking to the splinter in our neighbors?
  • Can this same Congress, that cannot protect the borders of this country from incursion, complain of a similar problem in Iraq?
  • Can this Congress find fault with the Iraqi government for protecting it's citizens from a sizable criminal element when they cannot do the same?
  • Can this Congress, that cannot seem to be able to get beyond political infighting that makes the Hatfields and McCoys seem like a game of "Family Feud", throw stones at Shiites and Sunnis who cannot get over thousands of years of their history overnight?
  • Can this Congress that treats its leader, President Bush, like a red-haired stepchild look down it's nose at the wrangling between the Prime Minister and the Congress in Iraq?
  • Can we truly find fault with the government of Iraq, which is only now truly beginning the journey on the road to self-rule and coming out of years of dictatorship and war, for not accomplishing what the United States government has struggled to accomplish for the last 200 years?
Well I guess we can, at least while there is a chance of making political gain out of it. I guess partisan politics and the single-minded pursuit of power will allow us to ignore our own faults and shortcomings if there is any opportunity to throw stones at the current administration or the political party in power. I guess that we have become so short-sighted that all we can see in another person's misery is a chance for selfish gain.

Democracy is a difficult form of government to achieve, as we ought to have discovered over the last 200 years. It requires luck, brains, and the will of good people if it is to have any chance. More importantly, as our own example shows, it takes time. Perhaps we should spend a bit more time trying to preserve our own democracy and let the people of Iraq have the time to find the path to theirs.

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all of the others that have been tried. - Sir Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If Technology Was The Answer - What Was The Question?

I have held a number of positions over the last 30 years or so (most of which seemed to have had the term 'contributory negligence" attached to them, but that's another story). 

Having done so, I am able to look far back into the dim recesses of history and remember when just about the only means for document delivery was the United States Post Office, and the only means of remote person-to-person communication was Bell Telephone. (and most of those were these really crummy pay phones that we had to try and use from a car while the rain and snow blew in and we froze our butts off) Now I know that such statements date me to a period in history when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and may seem quite unbelievable to those of the current generation, but it is true none the less. More amazing still, is that using these Stone Age tools and moving at the relative snail's pace that this technology afforded us, we were able to resolve the crises of the day and still find a bit of time for ourselves.  

Progress rolled relentlessly forward however, and since then we have been presented with a constant stream of technological improvements. I won't go into the details of the introduction of Xerox and fax machines, Fed Ex overnight delivery, personal computers, cell phones, and the use of the Internet (because I'm trying to become a better writer and I've been told that I can get too wordy); all of which we take for granted today. 

What concerns me however is that as these things were becoming part of the mainstream, promises were made that each would provide us with more free time in our lives. Instead, the opposite seems to have become the case. This incredible access to each other appears to have done nothing except make us more demanding of immediate answers to questions, whether they are necessary to the situation or not. 

No longer content to let a real process of evaluation take place, the world seems to have suddenly become full of two year-olds who have created a dirty diaper and want it changed NOW. This constant intrusion has led to access during meals, while trying to sleep, or even in the bathroom (you would be amazed at how often that this happens), and it never seems to be enough. By short-circuiting the process however, we have replaced the well thought out answer with the quick response. Consequently, we are far too often forced to go back and re-think everything to make up for things that got missed in our haste to respond quickly and ultimately delaying the delivery of a correct answer.  

So let me state the following for the record:

* Fast answers are not necessarily good answers.  
* Timely responses do not mean immediate responses.  
* A well thought out answer is usually better than a knee-jerk reaction.  
* Doing it right once takes less time than doing it over.  

(I would also like to say, while I think that there is a chance that my bosses will read this, that I work long hours and extremely hard to proved the answers requested of me as part of my job. One should never pass up an opportunity to suck up when it presents itself.) Perhaps before demanding an immediate answer we should remember the words of Mark Twain:  

"I was happy to be able to respond promptly. I said that I don't know."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Global Warming

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! I have repeated this phrase from Chicken Little before, but it appears to be more true each time that I do. According to environmentalists, people who are considered to be reputable scientists, and a former vice-president; the world is on the brink of imminent doom due to the human impact on the effects of global warming. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am willing to concede that the world is getting warmer (after all, I have had my air conditioner on for the last couple of weeks straight), but I question whether we are on the brink global disaster. I further question whether human beings are the harbingers of doom in this situation. After all, environmentalist are usually whack jobs, half of the scientists in school graduate in the bottom half of their class, and if history has shown us nothing else, it has shown us that intelligence has never been a requirement for the office of vice-president of the United States.  

So what about this global warming thing then? Well I, like most of the people voicing their opinions on the subject, am not qualified to put forth anything more than mine (We all know about opinions, they are like butts. Everyone has one and most of them stink.) So rather than burden you with my interpretation of the evidence, I will take this discussion in a slightly different direction (like you couldn't see that coming).
  • Why should I believe the experts in the environment and the climate, when they can't predict the weather three days from now, let alone three decades or three hundred years from now?
  • Hasn't the climate of the planet changed periodically even before Man was able to exert any noticeable effect on climate? (Do the words Ice Age mean anything to anyone?)
  • Aren't a lot of the "greenhouse gases" that seem to be tagged for global warming generated by things like volcanoes and cattle farting?
  • Didn't most of these same people predict a global ice age just a few years back?
  • Even if they are right, would putting Florida and parts of California under water be such a bad thing?
Like most Chicken Little situations where someone is expecting me to take their word as fact and that we are therefore in a state of crisis, this one seems designed to tell me two things:
  1. That I am responsible for the problem, should really feel guilty about the way that I and my fellow man have treated the environment, and need to do something to fix it immediately.
  2. That fixing the problem is going to be a long and complicated process which will require a great deal of sacrifice and an equally large cost, both apparently mine.
Well I don't know about you people, but I have a list of things that I feel guilty about that's longer that's I am willing to discuss in this or any other venue. If the environment is an item that I need to add to that list however, I may be willing to comply; but not on the strength of what I have heard so far. I am especially resistant to doing so knowing that Al Gore has already admitted to "stretching the truth" in the name of a higher good in what purported to be a documentary while flying around the world in a G4 lecturing on the evils of fossil fuels. Perhaps if there such a thing as Global Warming occurring, it is the heating of the planet by all of the hot air being generated by liberal politicians and activists. Not being one who wants anyone to believe something just because I say so, I will leave you with the words of two noted writers (also of fiction):
  • Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. - Michael Crichton
  • Ninety percent of everything is crap. - Theodore Sturgeon 


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Southern Way

I was lucky enough to have been transferred south of the Mason-Dixon line for a long enough period of time to have truly experienced the southern way of living. I must admit that "lucky" was not my initial feeling however, as the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee were explained to me:
"A Yankee is a person who comes down from up North, spends a little money, and then goes home. A Damn Yankee wants to live here."

What I found over time however was a very polite and patient group of people who were willing to put up with my particular eccentricities (too many to contemplate, let alone list) and who genuinely welcomed me into their midst. That is not to say that there weren't differences in culture that it took a bit of time to adapt to. It is some of those that I would like to mention here:
  • In the North, when someone says "How are you?", they mean that they are acknowledging your existence, and would like move on with a short and non-committal response. In the South, they actually want to know how you are doing.
  • In the North, someone asking for the 1st day of deer season off means that they want the 1st day of the traditional deer hunting season off. In the South, it means they want the 1st day of gun season, black powder season, bow hunting season (and I think rock-throwing season) off; and you might as well close the shop on those days because everyone wants them.
  • In the North, a woman is addressed by her last name and usually out of fear of sexual harassment lawsuits i.e. Ms. Demaria (chosen for my granddaughter). In the South she is addressed by her first name, but always with a polite title i.e. Miss Maggie or Miss Margaret and always with a great deal of respect.
  • In the North, a waiter at a restaurant asks if everything is alright with your meal; hoping that you won't complain and usually not caring if you do. In the South, two waiters, the cook, the cashier, and two other patrons ask if everything is alright with your meal; almost preventing you from eating it.
  • In the North, grits are one of the possible selections of food for breakfast, but are not served everywhere. In the South, grits are a necessary part of breakfast, are served everywhere, and are in fact a religious experience. (I once asked a local about instant grits, and was lectured in great detail on how no self-respecting person would ever serve such a thing. Even contemplating it identified me as a Yankee.)
  • In the North, the city is a place like New York, Chicago, Detroit, or Los Angeles. In the South, the city is anyplace with more than a couple of stoplights.
  • In the North, a house away from the city sits on one acre of land and is on a well-paved road (well, except in Toledo). In the South, a house away from the city has a one acre pond, and can't be seen from the road.
  • In the North, the Civil War is part of our country's history. In the South, the Civil War is part of our recent past; and anyone who doesn't think so is probably a Damn Yankee!
I am back living north of the Mason-Dixon line these days, but have to say that I sometimes regret the fact that these days I am back to being only a Yankee.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9 / 11

I tried really hard to keep from commenting on the 9/11 ceremonies today, but as day turns into night, I find that I can't. I don't have the time for my normal process of writing and editing that I would normally take in a posting in the hopes of getting it right, so I hope that you will all be patient with me as I spew out a few random thoughts on the subject.  

* The heroic efforts of firefighters and police officers on this day, along with the subsequent efforts of the rescue workers, should serve as a constant source of inspiration to all of us.  

* The heroic efforts of the troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and every other country where they are serving should not be denigrated by the political wrangling currently going on. This self-serving catering to the radical political left is shameful to the point of being traitorous.  

* Speaking of traitors... Anyone who belongs, financially supports, or is in any way involved with the organization should consider themselves the scum of the Earth. The right to free speech is guaranteed in this country, but the methods that are being used here by this organization bring a new low to the concept of free speech in this country. 

* The statements by the families of some of the victims in the time leading up to this anniversary that they are concerned that the attention that 9/11 brought to them seems to be gone strikes me as the rankest form of self-promotion, and it sickens me. Your losses were tragic, but this attempt to remain in the spotlight is exactly the kind of thing that takes away from the incredible sacrifice that you and your families made. Complaints about how quickly the memorials are going up or how the money in the settlements was determined demean that sacrifice.  

* The additional claims now made by the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing that they would like the same kind of settlement fund as the victims of 9/11 strikes me as pandering and just another example of people trying to seek "victim-hood" and claim their slice of the pie. Should every victim of every crime get a free winning lottery ticket ... I don't think so.  

* The failure of the media to show the video of the planes crashing into the towers for fear that it is too violent or will affect the families of the victims is a pretty transparent sham. They don't want to show it because the patriotic spirit and determination to root out the perpetrators of this crime that the video inspires favors the conservative point of view and the Republican Party. Lord only knows that this is something that the liberal media would do anything to avoid - even to showing the facts. 

* The shameful performance of Democratic Congressmen and Senators this week dealing with General Patreus during this same period only highlights a determination to force partisan politics into every subject from a group of people who claimed to want 'bi-partisan' effort when they took control.  

This is a legitimate tragedy in our country's history. So too were the sacrifices made by Americans in every war that this country has ever fought, and believe me this is a war. We need to be careful now that we do not trade the celebration of the lives of those who passed in this latest battle for the "feel good" BS that has become so much a part of our current culture. The wearing of ribbons, candlelight ceremonies, and political speeches have no place in the concept that we need to keep strong and vigilant in a battle that is yet being fought. We need to remember 9/11, and Pearl Harbor, and the Alamo, and Valley Forge for that matter. We also need to get past hanging our head in sorrow, lest we fail to see the enemy still in front of us.  

I apologize for a pretty negative rant in a blog that I try to keep on a lighter note. I will attempt to get back to the frivolity, absurdity, and trivial nonsense that you probably expect of me when I post tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I recently received some terrifying facts from a friend about a troubled area of the world. I was shocked that these statistics were not being exposed by the national media in spite of their serious nature and the ramifications involved. I have therefore decided to write my own headlines on these issues in the hopes that through exposure of what can only be considered a conspiracy to hide the truth, the facts will finally come to light. Be prepared to be shocked and appalled!







Now I know that based on recent news stories, you would think that all of these stories are related to abuses committed as part of the war in Iraq. WRONG! In fact these are all stories relating to the great state of California.

This is not a knock on California. While this state can be a little weird, and it does indeed constitute the "left coast" of the US, the sad truth of the matter is that it's not any better or worse than the rest of the country. (Besides, most of my favorite vineyards are there, so I am willing to cut them some slack.) The comparisons to a country are certainly not as outrageous as they might appear. California's population of 35 million is slightly larger than the 26 million of Iraq and the GDP (gross domestic product for those who don't read the financial section of the newspaper) is larger than all but seven countries in the world. The only significant differences that I can see is that Iraq has the excuse of being a nation whose religious zealots are at war with occupying troops as well as themselves; while California (at least in theory) is at peace; and of course that the media has chosen not to cover any of the issues that I have listed.

We all make assumptions on the world based on our individual perspective. Those assumptions provide us a lens through which (for better or worse) we judge the information on the world that we receive. Having made those judgements, we settle on our views or opinions of the world and deal with it accordingly. It's sorry enough state of affairs that assumption and judgement are part of this process, as the vagaries of their use does not lead to accuracy or consistency, if the information being used is also skewed, the result is bound to be one that is hopelessly flawed. Well guess what boys and girls, that information is skewed! 

Whether we are talking about the newspapers, TV, or even talk radio, the headlines that are written and stories presented to us each day are what is "chosen" for us. Those choices are made through the limited number of corporate owners in the media, whatever their agenda is, and what marketing people think might be entertaining to us and retain us an an audience. It doesn't matter here whether we are talking about ABC / Disney or Rupert Murdoch and Fox. Their agenda may differ, but their methods do not. Both can be as far from presenting the facts as a wayward husband making a 2AM apology to the patient wife waiting for him at home. 

This is not an indictment of all media (or wayward husbands for that matter), though it probably should be. It is merely a statement of fact that though there are a lot of high-toned postures about seeking the truth and journalistic responsibility, ultimately each of these outlets is a business which must cater to its audience in order to make a profit. So what do we do? We since we cannot change what the media chooses to present to us, so we need to be more vigilant with the what we do have control of, our assumptions and judgements. Be careful about what you assume is fact, it's often no more than the presenter's opinion. Be even more careful making judgements, few of any of us has been trained on doing it properly and even the pros make mistakes. Be always questioning of the "facts" before attempting to draw conclusions.

On the other hand, maybe we should take what I have just presented as facts, pull the troops out of the Middle East and redeploy them in California to bring it under control. (Oops sorry, the "Posse Cumitatus Act of 1878" prevents any such deployment.) OK, if that won't work, maybe we can get some of the movie stars in Hollywood to shift their gaze from Darfur long enough to straighten out the mess in their own backyard.

This information for these headlines came from "Eye of the Beholder" by Victor Davis Hanson. Mr. Hanson is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution,Stanford University, a Professor Emeritus at California University,Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Female Attention

The largest feature on any man is often difficult, if not impossible to see. (Now, now ... we all know that I am not talking about that, and it's only your dirty mind that suggests such a thing. Besides it is probably far from any man's largest feature.)  I am talking in fact, about his ego. 

Amazingly however, while this is usually the largest feature on a man, it is also the most fragile. It can be bruised, or even utterly destroyed (at least temporarily) in the most simple and innocent of ways, though most of the damage done seems to be self-inflicted in one way or the other through the misinterpretation of the attentions of the female of the species.

The reasons for this attention can be anything from good manners to simple friendship, furthering a budding relationship to the seeking of a life-mate. The only thing that you can be sure about however is that a man will either be oblivious to it; or more probably will make more out of it than was intended. The best minds in science seem unable to discover either a cause or a cure to this debilitating and seemingly universal condition (though I am sure that there are a number of government studies going on)

Though not a scientist, I believe that the answer is simply that the male ego is so large that impairs the vision of its owner. The little vision left to us is much like looking in the rear view mirror of a car, making us see something as larger than it actually is. On the other hand, when a woman is actually paying attention to us, the odds are better than even that we will be completely clueless to it. 

This condition appears to be some form of misguided compensation for all the times of error on the other side, and it only kicks in when it is not needed. The resulting confusion from this apparently misguided self-defense mechanism invariably leads to ego self-flagellation and worse, failures to take advantage of potentially ego supporting behavior with members of the opposite sex. In other words, when it comes to dealing with the attention of women and our own egos, we are our own worst enemies. I have come to the conclusion in fact, that the perception of the female of the species is the only thing that allows relationships to occur.

So ladies, please be a bit more kind and understanding with us as you realize that we are again misinterpreting your intentions towards us. We can't seem to help it. Remember to treat our fragile egos gently when letting us down if your intentions are less than we have made them out to be. If they are more, please feel free to club us over the head with them. (It may be the only way for you to get through.) As for my fellow men out there, remember these words the next time that you get the feeling that a woman across the room seems to be eying you, and realize that while the experience may be providing you with a warm, fuzzy feeling, it is probably not nearly as much as you would like to think that it is.
Besides, she isn't looking you anyway, she's eying me behind you....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Holiday Posting: Alphabet Man

The world today likes to categorize things, and place acronyms on them, especially when it comes to medical conditions. I am not real big on the concept of putting labels on anything ("People usually apply labels to things in order to disregard or ignore them." - Me), but must admit that they do serve a purpose from time to time. Since I seem to be a poster child for things that people should disregard or ignore, I felt that I should revel in my labels and wear them proudly, confessing publicly in atonement for any harm that they might have caused my fellow man. Here therefore, is a list of the ones that I freely admit to. I am sure that there are others that I either do not recognize in myself or am unable remember. If you can think of any, please feel free to comment.


This one stands for "Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder", and in my case seems to cover the myriad of quirks and ticks that I have regarding such things as sequential task completion, obsession over completing any tasks that I take on, and compulsions for attempting to impose my own version of neatness and order on the world around me. It is also characterized by the fact that I seem most comfortable when I am following the routines that I have set up for myself. Of course some may choose to apply the term "Anal-Retentive" about my behavior instead, but not being proud, I will let you be the judge and take your pick.


This one stands for "Alzheimer's Disease", and its symptoms should not be terribly surprising as my age increases. My mind, which used to simply wander, appears to periodically go on what the Australians call "walkabout", leaving me to function as best I can. I may be proof that human beings only use 10% of their brains. Perhaps I do not deserve credit for the full-blown disease, however. Perhaps instead, I should merely accept the use of the condition called:


This one stands for "Can't Remember Shit". It's definition is readily apparent, and it is considered to the prelude to full blown Alzheimer's. While not drawing quite the attention of the former, it does leave something to look forward to.


This one stands for "Attention Deficit Disorder", and in my case the disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, as well as forgetfulness, poor impulse control, and being easily distracted. In other words, I appear to have the memory and attention span of a two-year old. (Many would say that I have never gotten beyond the maturity of a two-year old either, but I chose to disregard such insightful perception.)


I am using two different sets of letters for this one, which as I go on may seem more than a bit ironic. I am using it to stand for "Manic Depression Disorder" or "Bipolar Disorder". I may not have a full-blown case of this one yet, where a person swings from extremes in feelings both positive and negative, and I don't in the least feel suicidal on the downswing, but sometimes it seems like the signs are definitely there. The mood "swing set" that I take for a regular ride can make life pretty interesting, and would be banned as too dangerous at most state fairs and theme parks.


This one stands for "Foot in Mouth Disease" and anyone who has spent any time in my presence is well aware of the seriousness of my particular case. My guess is that this might have something to do with the impulse control part of the ADD; but I don't think we should allow one set of letters to excuse another. Whatever the reason or excuse, I can't seem to keep from saying things that are really dumb. Perhaps that's why I have a blog instead of a speaking tour. The process of writing this down instead of saying it allows me to edit, and edit, and edit, and edit, and edit ... OK, you get the idea.


This one stands for "Guinness Deficient Disorder" and may be my favorite condition. This condition is likewise self-descriptive and seems to have a genetic background for those of Irish decent, as is evidenced by the fact that while 2,000,000 liters of Guinness is produced in the James Gate Brewery in Dublin, only half of it ever gets exported. It is my favorite however, because of self-medication imposed by the condition. Not content to attempt to treat the symptoms, I occasionally feel the need to inoculate myself in the hope of preventing symptoms from occurring.


I will assume that you know what this one stands for and will not deign to explain further, as I do not like to use profane language when women or children might be present (yeah I know, since when). In my particular case however, this expression seems to be used in the following way:

Person 1: "Look, here comes Tim."
Person 2: "Big f****** deal!" 

Have a great Holiday!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Lawyers Have Created The Best Racket In Town

Since we are in the midst of a holiday celebrating the workers of America (almost sounds Communist, doesn't it), I thought I would throw in something related to the day. 

Well I have to give the lawyers credit, they have succeeded where the unions never could, and created a world full of privilege and job security for themselves on a scale that the AFL - CIO, the Teamsters, or UAW never dreamed of. Oh wait, lawyers aren't a union ... or are they? Let's just think about it a minute and tell me if this doesn't sound like one:
  • You are tested to see if you can even qualify for the training that you are attempting to get (the LSAT)
  • You have to got to be trained in the in the language, practices, and procedures of the group before you can do the work, in special training programs run by other people already doing the job
  • You have to take a special test (the Bar Exam) in order to achieve your journeyman status and perform the work.
  • You have to be licensed to perform the work in the area that you perform it. (This might even violate some state's Right to Work laws.)
  • You pay dues to a group organization once you have been accepted (the Bar Association)
Once you have passed your apprenticeship program however, you become a full-fledged member, and just look at the employment opportunities that await you:
  • Defense Attorney - where you get to do battle with evil prosecutors and lawmen (there is a sub-category here called public defenders, but that's kind of like the minor leagues and most good members move up once they earn their spurs)
  • Civil Attorneys - where you get to do battle with evil corporations and other evil attorneys in the same gig
  • Judges - who are kind of like referees, except that in no sport that I know of do you have to be a player before you can be a ref
  • Justices of the State Courts- where you get to do battle with evil lawmakers and lawyers
  • Supreme Court Justices - where you get to do battle with these evil doers until you die at the bench or reach a point of senility where the only sentence you can pronounce is: "Off with their heads!"
  • Lawmakers - where you are a congressional representative or senator on a state or national level and get to fashion the rules that everybody else in your group gets to work with
In no other field of endeavor, public or private, is such an elitist group in control of so much. You make the rules, you argue the rules application, and you decide the winner; and then after you decide a number of your peers review all of the work that went before over and over again and decide if it's OK. No one is allowed to do the work that you do with passing your apprenticeship program, and you've assured that by passing a laws against such work. This ranks right up there with the monopoly that the Post Office has. You talk about the snake eating its own tail, well brother this is it!

No wonder that there are more people in school trying to get into this union than are currently in it. (The facts laid out here sound eerily similar to those of the medical profession. Have no fear, their turn will be coming soon.)