Monday, September 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

An infrequent addition to my repertoire of nonsense (since I already have a Quotes of the Week section), I was never the less struck by this one in light of the days hi jinks in Congress over the "Bailout / Buy In" legislation, and thought that you might be as well.  

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.  
- Oscar Levant

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trivial Pursuit #2

Once again, I have decided to subject you to the fruits of my hobby of collecting bits of totally useless information. I do this because I find such information endless fascinating, and because the creative spirit occasionally abandons me. Unrepentant about my occasional lapses, it is my hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do.
  • Two classic expressions are in fact related to each other. The first "Saved By The Bell" comes from a device used to keep from burying people alive. During the 17th century, people were sometimes buried with a bell tied to their hands. If for some reason the newly interned should have been buried mistakenly, they could ring the bell, and be released from their premature grave. The person who monitored this bell (usually at night, since the burial had been performed during the previous day) worked "The Graveyard Shift". As time passed and embalming became a more common practice, the "Saved By The Bell" expression passed into boxing lexicon. It was transformed in the 19th century, where it was used to describe being saved from a knockout by the sound of the bell signaling the end of the round (at the time boxing matches often went 50 or more rounds). The "Graveyard Shift" likewise changed in meaning, becoming the act of working the shift corresponding to those earlier graveyard labors.
  • The Chimney was developed during the 13th Century in Europe to help heat houses during a climactic change that was called a mini “Ice Age”
  • In old Siam (Thailand), white elephants were so rare that they were automatically considered the property of the emperor when born. To punish people for offense, that emperor would sometimes give them a white elephant, because while they had to care for it, they could neither ride nor work it. Hence the expression, "as useless as a white elephant".
  • In the Middle Ages, much like today, no one really much trusted anyone else. With paranoia running rampant, people would often hold their hand out palm up (and empty) to show that they were not going to attack you with a sword when they got to you. This gesture, used to put everyone at ease, evolved into the modern custom of the handshake.
  • In the days when the foxhunt was considered good sport, dogs were trained to hunt for that fox by scent. Initially the dogs were trained to follow a scent by dragging a dead fish commonly found in the local waters along the ground. Later as their training progressed, the same kind of fish would be used, dragging it across the scent trail of an actual fox to see if the dogs would now follow the actual prey or the distraction from their earlier training. Hence the expression, “following a red herring"
  • Global warming (if it actually exists) is more likely to produce another Ice Age rather than the flooding of the world’s coasts currently being touted. The most likely scenario is that the melting of the polar cap in the north would reach a tipping point, changing the percentage of fresh water in the North Atlantic. This change, if drastic enough, could potentially stop the Atlantic conveyor belt which is part of the planet’s heat exchange system. This system brings heat to the northern hemisphere from the equator, and is more commonly known as the Gulf Stream. It's loss would cause the entire northern hemisphere to freeze under rampant glaciation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Won The Battle, Losing The War

Don't you feel a stirring of pride when you remember President Reagan saying back in 1987, "Mr Gorbachov, tear down this wall!" ? Don't we all look back at this as the point when the tide was turned in the Cold War against Communism? Does anybody else think today that maybe we started doing the victory lap just a little bit early? 

 Oh I'm not talking about Putin and his nonsense in Georgia. That's important issue of its own and should be of great concern to us, but there is a far graver situation, far closer to home that should be drawing our attention. While we have been fighting the battles to promote Democracy around the world, it seems to me that we have been losing the war promoting it in the US. I can come to no other conclusion after looking at the handling of recent events in the financial markets. 

With barely a dissenting voice to be heard, the Federal government has in a very short space in time, acquired or all but acquired a huge stake in the financial market. With little debate and in the dead of night (or over the weekend), THE BUREAUCRACY in Washington has all but nationalized the mortgage industry with the acquisition of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and and the impending one of AIG. Not only is such an action one that the federal government is not empowered to do under the Constitution, but this gross misappropriation of power has been taken by officials who were elected to no office and are responsible to no voter. 

While Congress hides behind ignorance (and apparently, stupidity), confusion, and the need for time to run campaigns to keep the jobs that they refuse to perform; they have turned over the reigns of power to political appointees and bureaucrats. These backroom generals in turn, while telling us that it is for our own good, have quietly surrendered to strategies right out of the teachings of Karl Marx. 

In the name of the very Democratic government which employs them, they betray the principles on which that government was founded by their actions. In violation of everything that we hold sacred and that they are empowered to defend, these bottom dwelling pencil pushers steal the very freedoms that our government was created to protect. Without public debate or discussion, these slaves to the bureaucratic mentality seek to enslave not only us but future generations, with a crushing burden of debt the like of which has never been seen before. 

What next for these betrayers of Democratic principles and free-market economies? The auto industry is already holding its hand out for subsidies and loans. The airline industry appears to be not far behind if their business does not change substantially. Even Newspapers, fast approaching a potential financial oblivion of their own, could be on the list for a government bailout. 

Will this government, flush from the massive intrusion into the world economy just made, seek new conquests? Will a federal bureaucracy, who for many years has had a goal of expansion and intrusion into the everyday lives of Americans, be allowed to continue on this path without check by a Congress that has shown itself to have a backbone that comes off poorly in comparison with a well cooked bit of fettuccine? Will either politician seeking the highest office in the land stand up against this betrayal of the very democracy that they seek to lead? 

Thomas Jefferson warned us about such dangers, stating: "I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." I believe that we have all but proved him right in recent days. And as the casualties in this failing battle to defend Democratic principles against the encroachment of Socialism at home mount, we must ask ourselves how many battles we are willing to lose in this war. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "Stuck On Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #10

Time is short today, but one entry needs to be posted to the SOS (Stuck On Stupid) Dictionary of terms that mean something slightly different in Toledo, OH.

Bold Initiative

1. Proposals made in a tired effort to expand the influence, intrusion, and control of government. Such proposals are always financed by taxpayer dollars, but in the end serve no real purpose other than to create a "feel good" sound bite for the politician using them as a stepping stone to keep or gain office

Saturday, September 20, 2008


While agonizing recently over my desire to do a better job at writing these little literary gems, I began to think about the talent actually required to do so. It didn't take me long to realize that it was much easier to think about it (and its ramifications) than to possess it. Before I knew it, I was scribbling notes to myself on the subject, and this inevitably led to a list of comparisons in which I, like most, suffer. 

Undaunted by this realization and never wanting to keep such valuable information to myself, I decided to share it with all of you. Look closely if you dare, and decide which side of each statement you might fall on.
  • Talent on loan from God (sorry Rush) vs. talent on loan from someone who really, really wanted to loan it out, as it was doing them little good.
  • Talent that has a better chance of getting you on "America's Most Wanted" than "American Idol"
  • Talent that makes you considered a virtuoso of a piano keyboard instead of the kind that overloads the spell and grammar check functions on a computer from your use of its keyboard.
  • Talent that allows you to make a major scientific or medical breakthrough instead of the kind that makes you break through the window of the lab at a hospital.
  • Talent that would allow you to spin endlessly fascinating stories rather than that which allows you to endlessly spin in your chair while waiting for inspiration to smile upon you while attempting to write one.
  • Talent that would allow you to prepare gourmet meals for yourself and your friends instead of that which allows you to treat fried hot dogs in the macaroni and cheese as such a meal.
  • Talent that inspires your friends to explore their own gifts instead of the kind that inspires them to explore the the disinfectant shelf to keep whatever you have from spreading to them.
I would love to share which side of each of these statements that I feel that I fall on, but I am embarrassed enough to realize that you managed to figure that out fairly early in the list. Hey! Perhaps by admitting the simple fact of my own shortcomings to you, I could be said to have shown a talent for understatement. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Color of Money

I have been hearing some rumors of a proposal for some interesting federal legislation floating around this election year that I think needs a bit more attention. I saw it first mentioned in a George Will Column relating to McCain's presidential campaign, but I can't think of a truly more bi-partisan issue, especially in light of recent events. The premise of this legislation is pretty simple: No company should receive federal money in any way or of any kind if any of its employees make more than the current highest level of federal bureaucrat. Just so we are clear on this, the current top level of government bureaucrat (GS-15) makes $124,010.00, which was a livable wage the last time that I looked (everywhere but in NYC and California). Understand, this does not mean that a corporation could not pay its employees or CEO the exorbitant remuneration that some of them get these days. Banks, automakers, computer manufacturers, and even evil oil companies will still be free to throw money hand over fist at an all-star management team if they so choose. If they do so however, they could not come cap in hand to the government for any type financial assistance. Just think of the ramifications:
  • The recent Bear Sterns bailout couldn't have happened, as their managers made 'just a bit more' than the limit.
  • The Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac bailout couldn't have happened for the same reason.
  • The Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers nonsense become situations that the market simply has to sort out.
  • The AIG guarantees couldn't happen.
  • No subsidies for Enron or Exxon for any reason as long as they keep their current pay scales.
  • The bailout for Chrysler in days of yore never would have happened and the one staring us in the face for GM and Ford couldn't happen.
  • The bailout just over the horizon for the airline industry (mark my words) could never happen.
  • Even large farmers couldn't get crop subsidies unless they were paying themselves less the the $124k maximum.
It's pretty simple really. If you can afford to pay someone more than the highest paid government bureaucrat, you don't need the government handout that those bureaucrats would have to process. Not only is this the ultimate in fiscal responsibility, but it fits the agendas of both liberal and conservative thinkers:
  • Liberals don't want money being handed out to "evil corporations" as Corporate Welfare.
  • Conservatives want Welfare Reform.
*In addition, think of the money that could be saved in the cost of the federal bureaucracy that currently has to oversee and process all of the various forms of government largesse.
Now I know that such a proposal reeks of logic and common sense, two things which are normally an anathema to the operation of government, but this is an election year and a great opportunity for candidates who say they are for it to take a stand "for change". Maggie Thurber has spoken on a number of occasions on getting candidates to sign on to the concept of transparent government budgets. I would like to add this legislation to her list and ask that candidates step up on a plan to reduce or eliminate corporate subsidies in all of their various forms.

And what does this have to do with the title of this posting? Why I thought that you would never ask! It's that I would like to call this legislation "The Color of Money Act". If your company is in the red, but your employees are in the green, don't come looking for financial help from the red, white, and blue. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lipstick On A Brick

The hours are fairly crowded these days with real things that must be dealt with, so I thought that I would try and save time and take on two subjects at once (one National, one Local) that seem so simple that they shouldn't even have to be covered.  

Lipstick on a Pig  
No, I don't believe that Sen Obama meant to insult Gov Palin directly by this comment. Anyone who has survived long enough in politics and has gained the office of US Senator can't be stupid enough to think that he could get away with the insult. On the other hand, Sen Obama has proved himself what could best be called impolitic by some of his comments in the past. Pandering to an audience in the Midwest by talking about traditional values, then insulting those values to an audience on the West Coast (clinging to guns and religion) illustrates that the Senator is sometimes more concerned with a good line (what politician isn't?) than good sense or consistency. 

The McCain campaign's immediate retaliatory attack was predictable. While good political strategy (as measured these days), it is just another example of a claim of the very victimization that Gov Palin wants to prove to us she is above. The response has generated a lot of attention, but probably could have been done better. For example: At Gov Palin's next speech, she wipes the lipstick from her face dramatically, laughs lightly, and says, "The Republican Party needs no lipstick to tell Sen Obama and the American people that change is only good if it is change for the better. You can call your change another New Deal or The Great Society, but that won't make it anything other than an expansion of the welfare state."  

The Toledo United Way Building 
This issue continues to be a lively one in Toledo, with a couple of politicians and the newspaper at odds with the owners of the building and some of the other media. 

The owners, United Way, would like to tear a building down that no longer meets code, that they can no longer fill and that they cannot afford to maintain or upgrade, to build a more affordable building on the same site. Those in opposition to this demolition and reconstruction are supported in this effort by some of the local electronic media The Mayor, a county commissioner, and the newspaper. They would like to see the building remain, perhaps with a new owner. They are joined in their effort by a couple of preservation groups (that I at least have never heard of) and the original architect (big surprise there)

In other words, in a city where there are lots of empty buildings, there are some people who want to make sure that one more is added to the list. They would like to prevent the group that had a building designed and built for its use, a building that they still own and which no longer fits that use, from tearing it down and building something in its place that they want and can use. That which they seek to tear down is not on any historical register of buildings, nor is its architectural design of any real significance. Its only claim to fame or survival is that it has been there for a while. Oh yeah, and that some "very important people" want the building to remain.  

What They Say About Us 
The Obama / Palin furor simply points out the continual dumbing down of American Politics, and perhaps America as a whole. Hyper sensitivity to remarks regarding race, gender, and belief systems have taken over honest political debate. People are so wrapped up looking to find offenses that they lose track of the issues being debated. The "Downstream Media", in a feeding frenzy to play some part, exacerbates the situation by endlessly streaming video and soundbites in a 24 hour buffet for our consumption. 

My advise is quitting whining "He hit me first", and get back to the issues. This country is in crisis and we don't need the two choices for our next leader acting like a couple of 6 year-olds (no insult intended to 6 year-olds)

The United Way building points to comparable childish behavior on the local level. Not content to do their own jobs, "important people" in both the public and private sector would like to interfere with everyone else doing theirs. This is almost laughable on the part of elected officials who feel that we can make good choices by putting them in office, but feel that we lose that ability the first time that we disagree with them. And as for the newspaper, you have other things that need your attention. It's not your building that's crumbling around your ears (at least as far as I know), but the business itself. Concern yourself with that if you need something. 

Perhaps the only way to live with these situations (borrowing from both) is to put lipstick on a brick. Maybe the only way to draw enough attention to these as nonsense, idiocy, and hypocrisy is to mix the metaphors. Grow a thicker skin, leave your neighbors to their own business, and stop getting caught up in the petty bullshit people! There are serious times ahead and we need you to focus. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Losing Neverland

In my quest to entertain myself while avoiding in any way watching the political conventions, I found that I had inadvertently rediscovered something far more important than the next person who sits in the White House. 

You see, people come and go in the job of President of the United States, and that was how it was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Just over 40 men have served in the position, and we have had just about every level of intelligence (or lack of it) possible. We have also been exposed to every noble virtue and every human foible existing in the human condition. So no matter what we end up with at the end of the election this year, we will survive it. 

What I discovered instead while ignoring the nonsense of the conventions was far more important. It was a bit of the sense of magic and wonder, the sense of the ridiculous that allows us in fact to survive such momentous events and the people participating in them. 

Almost without conscious effort, I found myself drawn to "Young Frankenstein" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" on DVD. For those of you never exposed to these two movies by the way (possibly because you live under a rock on another planet), I cannot think of two movies that I would recommend more. If there are any films more ridiculous or just flat out funny, I have yet to find them. 

I think perhaps that they opened me up to a little known Johnny Depp movie from 2004 that I finally got around to viewing in its entirety, "Finding Neverland". As the title implies the story has to do with the tale of James Barrie, creator of the character, play, and novel "Peter Pan". It lets us in on how he discovered in this story, the secret of eternal youth. Not in the physical sense of course, but in the truest sense possible, a spirit of youth. 

Far too many of us lose our grasp on the spirit that allows us to imagine what could be, to fantasize about what might be, and to see the world for what we "want" it to be. We get far too wrapped up in our mundane existence and the things that we believe are all but earth shattering to retain the spirit that so inspired us in our youth. In creating the world of Peter Pan, James Barrie told all of us that such spirit can be eternal for any of us; but that the "ticking crocodile" of time is always at our heels, and the villains in our lives (like Captain Hook) are always there to challenge our ability to remain true to that spirit. 

Now that the conventions are over and the parties hope to whip us into a frenzy over their respective choices, I hope that I will be able to maintain a sense of perspective on the nonsense that follows. I hope that I won't soon forget the much more important lesson that I relearned almost by accident during this period. I hope that I can continue to remain true to the spirit of Peter Pan, even while attempting to deal effectively with every one of the mundane and serious aspects of my everyday life. I hope that the wonder and imagination of youth continue to remain a part of my life as the rest of me advances through the coming years. I hope with all of my heart that I never lose the spirit of Neverland. 

I find myself hoping that at the end of my days, that it should be said of me that I had the one described by one of the characters in the film at the debut of the play, Peter Pan. In describing her recently departed husband, Mrs. Stone commented, "He was really just a boy himself you know ... to the very end." I wish the same for each of you ...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Don't Hold Your Breath ... Yet

Once again, and with little or no fanfare, the United States is on the verge of startling change. Fringe environmental groups, working with the Environmental Protection Agency are working to monitor the production of greenhouse gases.

I am sure right now, that many of you are saying "... and about time. The planet is in peril, animal species are dying all over the planet, and global warming is imminent." While current evidence belies these conclusions, I will not choose to debate that subject here and now. I will only point out that by this self-given mandate, the EPA will have a dramatic impact on the future.

But before I go on, a little history might be in order.

In 1999, environmental groups petitioned the EPA to take on the regulatory function of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and it refused. Later in 2003, the EPA in fact declared that it had no authority to do so under the CAA, since it provided no mandatory authority to address global warming related emissions. 

The environmental groups appealed to the DC District Court which agreed with the EPA decision, saying that the CAA allows regulation only when the "public health or welfare" is endangered. In April of 2007, the Supreme Court overturned this decision however saying that the EPA must, "ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute". Translated, this means that if the EPA thinks it should regulate something for the public good, then it should.

Now that we are all caught up, let me finally let you in on the dirty little secret that I have been avoiding. What we are talking about here is the regulation CARBON DIOXIDE. Yes, the innocuous gas that plants convert to oxygen has now fallen under the regulatory powers of the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has since issued what it calls an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making (ANPR) that will say the following:
  • Lawnmowers will need standards of exhaust based on the size of the lawn mowed (Grass Mileage)
  • Permits would be required for the construction of new sources of pollution (You know, businesses).
  • Speed limiters would be installed on over-the-road trucks to reduce their output (though we would assume that Public Transportation like buses or trains would be exempt from such regulation).
  • Small businesses and even single-family homes could and would be considered polluters, as they would exceed government mandated outputs.
And the world is changed by government fiat. No law need be passed, no vote need ever be taken. No citizen or elected official need ever choose to see this done. All that needs to happen is for a bunch of behind-the-scenes bureaucrats to sit around a table and decide, and sweeping new mandates will be prosecuted with the force of law. 

People who never ran for office and who will answer to little or no one will decide almost every aspect of our lives in the name of protecting us from a substance produced by the planet itself. The EPA will gain a vitual stranglehold on everything from new home construction, to the use of machinery on farms, to an almost complete control of the growth of the economy itself.  

Of course there is another source of carbon dioxide that I haven't mentioned yet, it's you and me. Every time that we expel a breath, we contribute to the pollution of the planet, as defined by them, by producing CO2 (I am not counting the other gases potentially expelled. That's for another posting.) 

How long do we need to wait before the act of breathing becomes a regulated function? How long before having a child requires a permit, since it would add another source of pollution production? (Beats the hell out rug rat for a nickname) How long before the government sets a "carbon footprint" tax for everyday existence? 

Sound far-fetched? Well if it does, you don't remember when catalytic converters were mandated, or when mileage standards for automobiles were created. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to take up the torches and pitchforks before they outlaw the torches (or speech for that matter) as a source of pollution!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The "Stuck on Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #9

Once again, we find that there are additional words that must be added to the "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary of Toledo. These particular entries provide me absolutely no joy, but intellectual honesty requires that I do so. (Please no cracks about the intellectual remark.)  

1. Doing the same thing over and over again, knowing that you are going to get caught at it and that getting caught will cause further problems for you, and doing it anyway. 2. Locking your dog in the car for the 4th time, and expecting to get away with it.  

1.Being an organization responsible for the safety of animals and refusing to do so when the offense is being committed by the Mayor. (Shame on you Humane Society)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The "Downstream" Media

I heard a comment while listening to the fringe media recently. (Dennis Miller's right leanings cannot help force his radio show to be considered part of that fringe these days.) The comment made had to do with a term that gets a lot of use these days in every form of media, perhaps because it delineates part of it. It was the term "Mainstream Media".  

For those who you who have been stranded on a desert island for the last few years with a very thin man strangely reminiscent of Tom Hanks, the Mainstream Media consists of Network television, most cable news networks, and the greater share of the newspapers and magazines in the world. These self-defined arbiters of fact and truth have lost a bit of focus in their mission of late and a good bit of their reputation in the process. 

More and more, they seem to supply these facts and truths "from a particular point of view". Like Obi-wan Kenobi (from Episode VI for the Star Wars geeks out there), they feel that it is OK to filter this truth if such filtering serves the common good (as of course, they define it)

Unfortunately, this is not the job of a journalist or a news program, but that of the commentator or editor. In fact the current level of filtering leads more to editorializing than it does to actual news in the media today. It would be both easy and accurate to say that the claims of an unbiased media have long since left the building with Elvis.  

Both sides have their own filtering agents of course. The right or conservative point of view has Fox News Network, talk radio, and the occasional rabid independent newspaper owner (fewer of those every day though). The left or liberal point of view has every other news outlet on the planet. The Mainstream Media liberal bias is now all but an accepted fact (you know, like Global Warming). Those with a different point of view are left to do a bit of filtering of our own, picking out the occasional kernels of truth and seeds of fact among that which they scatter in the dirt like chicken feed. 

Pecking away in our attempts to reach the truth, we are often forced to ingest more than a little unpalatable material in the process. Swallowing sometimes painfully the inedible bulk of what we are given, we must take what sustenance we can from what we can glean in the process and let the rest 'pass on through'

There is little excuse for the abuse of journalistic principles that were once held sacred, and no apology for what passes for it these days. In fact, it is considered the right of those in control of information dissemination to do so, as they alone have the proper perspective on the path of history and the required vision for the future.  

And so we come to comment that triggered this post and its point (I know, it's about time). Instead of the term Mainstream Media, the comment by the caller was that we should use the term "Downstream Media" to describe the media's current offerings. 

The frame of reference for this is one that many of us understand from our younger days. It was OK to wander the woods and make your way down to the stream to play back then. It was likewise OK to wade in that stream or even drink from it (yeah, I'm actually old enough to remember that). This would not be the case however, if you knew that you were downstream of a evil corporation pouring sewage into that same bit of water. Avoidance was then the order of the day. The smell or the smallest taste would quickly convince you that this was something that you wanted to stay as far as possible from if it didn't make you sick.  

So too with the media today. The smell from the decay of their dying ideals permeates the atmosphere around the stream of information that they attempt to tell us is news. The taste of their editorializing is bitter indeed as we are assaulted with facts and viewpoints carefully chosen for how they can influence our opinions and decisions. The sight of the nonsense that passes for news seems to get uglier every day, as the pundits paint their pictures for our edification.  

Careful filtering indeed is required if we choose to sample any part of this stream of data. Those who choose to sample, do so at their own risk and need to be aware that the water has probably been polluted by the run off of the Downstream Media

(I know that this probably should have been called the Upstream media instead fof the sake of scientific accuracy, but the positive implication of the term Upstream does not fit the message being attempted. Downstream, while not entirely accurate, does. I apologize for the minor logical discrepancy.)


Friday, September 5, 2008

The "Stuck On Stupid" Toledo Dictionary #8

Recent city press releases are forcing additional entries into the "SOS" Dictionary. For those who have not seen previous entries (I encourage you to go back and look them up under the label 'dictionary'), these are words or terms which carry one meaning in regular conversational use, but seem to have come to mean something entirely different when applied by the City of Toledo. Since this dual usage can become a bit disconcerting to those not familiar with the city (and more so to those who are), this dictionary is being compiled to provide a guide in the hopes of reducing the the confusion and consternation caused by this abuse of the English language.  

Fiscal Responsibility:  
1. A term which appears to have nothing to do with the way the City of Toledo operates its budgetary process.  
2. The philosophy behind a plan to lay off 15 to 25 city workers with real responsibilities in the city (like repairing the streets) due to a budget shortfall, while hiring another political drone to write speeches for a college educated Mayor, in an attempt to make him sound somewhat less illiterate. 

1. A system of science used to calculate numbers using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to reach an answer.
 2. Something which the City of Toledo seems incapable of using when it comes to it's own budget, as proved by the constant level of surprise its officials show when presented with the results of those calculations.  

Law of Diminishing Returns:  
1. Continuing to do the same thing over and over again, producing a smaller result each time.  
2. The profits achieved as a result of the concert series that the city is having held at the Erie Street Market.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Suffering Through Health Care

As many of them do these days, the idea for this posting came from an article I read in the Toledo Blade. This one, dated August 24th, talked about how the doctor-patient relationship is suffering in modern medical care; and why this is the fault of the insurance companies and a litigious society. 

I might be willing to give them some slack on the concept of medical lawsuits, as the only profession committing more a more egregious abuse of power than the doctors is lawyers. As for the rest, I have a few things to say on the subject. (Big surprise, huh?) 

Doctors tell us that they don't like being second guessed by the insurance companies. I can tell you that many likewise don't like questions from the patient or the family of the patient either. Society's recent creation of individuals who live for self-esteem has produced a group of doctors of almost unparalleled arrogance. If you question the tests being run, the number of prescriptions being written, or the standard of health being used as a guideline you are labeled as misguided, uninformed, or simply stupid. 

How dare anyone question the mighty medical professional in the performance of their duties! While we are on the subject of tests and prescriptions, does anyone believe that the never-ending gobstopper of tests being performed on each and every patient these days is contributing to the spiraling costs of medical care? 

Before any doctor will venture a guess about treatment, they ask for more tests than the combined number of exams that they took during medical school. This has us paying not only the hospital costs for the tests themselves, but the lab costs to process results from the bodily fluids and pictures taken and the follow up doctor's visits to discuss these endless reports. 

And what is done with the results of all of this modern scientific testing? The physician inevitably treats the test results instead of the patient. The goal becomes an experiment to produce a certifiably healthy person through the achievement of pre-approved test values. If the tests don't produce the desired result, change the parameters of the experiment through a different combination of chemicals, and retest. 

Lost however in this example of modern scientific medicine is the quality of life of the lab rat (I mean patient) who must submit to such endless experimentation without complaint or question. Let's not take out the profit motive either. What happens to the doctor-patient relationship when the person we normally deal with is not our doctor? We now rarely see those professionals, as a great deal of the work is done by nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician's assistants. 

All of these folks may have our best interest at heart, but let's be honest enough to say that it also facilitates the ability of a medical practitioner to run many more bodies through a version of assembly line medicine. Every caregiver does their part while moving the patient down the line, with the doctor doing periodic quality checks and consultation. While I would like to say that this helps provide greater care, I suspect that it might have more to do with producing better cost efficiencies and a greater revenue to patient ratio. 

Now in fairness to practitioners of the medical profession, they are not the only people exhibiting greed in this industry. Insurance companies are corporations, and as such operate on the profit motive. They do everything that they can to deliver less for the premiums paid in order to maximize their own profits. The relative health of those paying the premiums means no more to them than the people buying gas mean to Exxon. Pharmaceutical companies follow a similar corporate path, with the additional questionable practice of enlisting doctors into their misbehavior. Free samples, medical conferences in exotic locales, and experimental research sponsorships all skate a fine line (and often cross it) in the relationship between doctors and patients. 

And what shining example do these corporations have model themselves on, why the Federal Government. This model of management efficiency, limited bureaucracy, and fiscal responsibility all but insures that abuse of the system (and the patient) will be the order of the day.  

As for the lawyers, they are just the scavenging bottom feeders of the process. Taking a depersonalized system and the mistakes that are bound to occur with "assembly line" medicine, they simply try and turn any of the quality control issues into a winning lottery ticket. 

Oh there are real wrongs to be righted and evildoers to be brought to justice, but I fear that more often than not these situations would be better brought before "Judge Judy" than a jury or our peers who see no wrong in multi-million dollar settlements for pain and suffering. Doing so might allow a bit of common sense to intrude into the process and would certainly reduce the cost of malpractice insurance, and as such, on medical care itself. 

But listen, if the medical profession thinks that it's difficult to deal with insurance companies while trying to do the best job that they can for their patients, if they think that the paperwork and regulations are constricting and overwhelming now, if they think that they have seen what life can be like when dealing with an unfeeling and uncaring bureaucracy; just wait and see what happens if we get "National Health Care" and the government takes over. 

All of this discussion of the current state of medicine is making me feel a little woozy. I think that I'm going to go lie down.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death."  

The Oath of the knight from the movie"Kingdom of Heaven" Sometime the words of even the most humble of movies provides inspiration and makes us understand what those who have real talent can do with them (unlike me).


Monday, September 1, 2008

On The Road Again ...

The only thing consistent in life is change ...

The people who pay me for the things that I do when not indulging in the dirty little habit of writing this blog have determined that my life is far too boring and needs some excitement. Having assessed my talents and abilities, they have become convinced that I am full of natural fertilizer (No, I have not been touched by the Mayor. Any abilities that I have are simply that of my Irish progenitors, better known as the "gift of gab".). 

They have therefore determined that I should go back on the road again in a single-handed attempt to save the newspaper industry from itself by re-entering the sales end of the business (and if I can make them a buck or two in the process, it's OK with them). This return to the road after over 4 years of a more structured office existence promises some profound changes in my everyday affairs. (No, not that kind. Jeez, what a dirty mind.)

Now some of you might be asking at this point if this will have any effect on my blogging. (Why this should be the question uppermost in your mind is your problem.) While it will certainly put me at a certain level of disconnect from the everyday goings on in Toledo, I am sure that can get anything I need to know just by reading blogs. (and listening to a podcast or two right?) 

On the bright side, I may find that the travel helps to broaden my perspective rather than my backside (and the travel points don't stink either). What I don't expect however, is that this new challenge will force me to set aside the time I normally do for writing. I have too much fun committing social suicide on the Internet to give it up at this point.

Bear with me through this latest transition in life if you will, and I promise that I will do all in my power not disappoint you any more than I already have. (Nothing like setting the bar kinda low, huh?)