Thursday, March 31, 2005

Musings 24--Thimerosal poisoning

I’ve been watching Don Imus in the morning again and he is educating everyone to the dangers of Thimerosal. Usually, I’m just slightly paying attention as I go from dozing to cpan--which makes me doze all the more.

Thimerosal is a mercury compound used as a preservative in all kinds of products. It seems that there may be a link to the latest upsurge in the birth of autistic children. (See link) It seems that this stuff has been used in everything the drug companies have made over the last half-century as a preserative. Thus, if you or your children have been vacinated, as most of us have, then we have been exposed to this mercury derivative--thimerosal.

When I was a kid we always used Mercurochome for cuts and scrapes. No more. The mercury is a contaminate. Even the mercury in old thermometers is dangerous. I can still remember pushing some mercury around my desk in science class when I was a kid. You could bust it up and it would roll right back together. When you are a kid, this was neat stuff. However, I was probably messing up my chromosomes. (Sorry Mick, I didn't know.)

The rate for autism has risen at an alarming rate over the last 20 years. It is now about 1 in 250 births. I think that this might just qualify as an epidemic. A quarter of a century ago the rate was like one in several thousand.

If you have children who must be vacinated, make sure that the serum is a single dose unit that hasn't been stored in thimersoal. It should tell you on the package. Supposedly, the drug companies have quit using it as a presevative agent. There are, however, stores of vacines that have been lying about for years. Drug companies are much too dollar conscious to throw it away. Plus, doctors probably have the stuff stored in coolers. Be careful!

Ain't it great that you save yourself from one thing only to be blasted by the thing that saved you. This is called irony, and it is a fact of life.

Musings 23--Things that make me say hmmm...

It has been a long morning at the old print shop. Just got the information that my loan was approved by the bank to buy the building down the street. They are sending an appraiser today. Maybe this will be over in a week or so. If we move, it probably won't be until June or July. Stay tuned.

The column begins here:

Teri Schiavo is dead. If, when she died, she went to be with God; then, what was the big stink about? Hmmmm.

The right loves to bash the courts, but, when one of their own interrupts the law not in the way they want it, they squeal like pigs and try to find another court to appeal it to. The federal judge that turned down the last Schiavo's parents plea--and several other pleas before--was a Bush I appointment. Hmmmm.

Terri Schiavo was a bulimic who purged after she ate, lost too much potassium, had a heart attack and died 15 years later after having her feeding tube removed. Hmmm.

Mr. President isn't doing so well on Social Security so now he's making threats. Now he is finding out how the rest of us feels when we don't get our way. Hmmm.

A majority of the people now think GW (aka, Mr. President) is doing a lousy job. Isn't it amazing when things turn domestic. Hmmm.

Better late than never, I always say. Hmmm.

The CIA commission says there was no credible evidence of WMD's in Iraq. Really? Hmmm.

In the 1970's we tried to give Iran nuclear power capabilities and they turned it down. Hmmm.

How come falling back is never as easy as falling forward? least as it pertains to clocks. Hmmm.

My cat can tell time. Can yours? Miss feeding him/her and you'll see. Hmmm.

My dog has long-term memory of events. Does that make him intelligent? Hmmm.

If rainbows mean that God won't destroy the world with water like the great flood; how come I can create one with a garden hose? Hmmm.

How come if you jump up in the back of a moving pick-up truck it doesn't run out from under you. Hmmm.

If a fly is flying around in an airplane, does the airplane get heavier if the fly lands? Hmmm.

Does the light really go off in the refrigerator when the door is closed? Hmmm.

And In Closing:

April is here. All hail April. The next month May be here sooner than you know it. Yeah, whatever.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Musings 22--The self-righteous hypocrites

There is an organization called the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). On March 10, 2005 they published a document called "Addicted To Porn--Members of Congress Accept Contributions from Porn Purveyors."

In this report, it is pointed out that 15 representatives and senators that tout decency and morality as part of their political beliefs take money from Political Action Committees (PAC) that make between 250-300 million dollars a year off the porn industry. Well those dirty rats, you say, how could they do that and preach to the rest of us. Well, it is easy if you don't know where your money is coming from. I suspect that most of these guys and gals don't, and I think that speaks volumes about their intelligence.

Holiday Inns, Marriott International, Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Adelphia Communications, Cablevision Systems Corporation, Echostar and, yes Virginia...even General Motors all make substantial monies from pornography. When you check into any of the above hotels, you can pay for your porno fix and watch right in your room. Estimates from the hotel industry is that $190 million dollars is made on people watching x-rated movies. One study says that one of every two people who check into a hotel that panders to x-rated movies watches at least one per visit. They say that most hotels make more off of the porno than they make from the mini-bars.

General Motors recently sold Direct TV and was hooked up to many hotels and motels. Direct TV allows selections of adult movies. And you thought they only sold automobiles. Education is a good thing.

The members of the house of representatives who profess higher moral standards but take money from the above companies are: Joe Barton (R-TX), Chris Cannon (R-UT), Barbara Cubin (R-WY), Tom DeLay (R-TX), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Michael Oxley (R-OH), Charles Pickering (R-MS), Joseph Pitts, (R-PA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Heather Wilson (R-NM). The senators are: Christopher Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ). Most of these are republicans. You must understand that there are plenty of others who receive monies from these PACs but they do not spout the high moral doctrine that these do.

Most of these elected representatives probably never gave it a thought when receiving money from hotels and cable networks. Now that they are aware, will they give the money back or will they stop being the moral conscience of America. They need to do one or the other.

If Hugh Heffner, founder of Playboy Magazine, attempted to give a donation to any of these solid pillars of righteousness, they would have turned him down flat. If smutlord Larry Flint donated money to a PAC...they couldn't run from it fast enough.

I also find it unique that the Marriott Hotels and several gambling concerns in Las Vegas are owned by the Mormons. Walk the straight and narrow, we don't watch that filth and we don't gamble, but we'll make millions off you guys that do. It's just business.

If I was a congressman or senator and I had made a name for myself as a moral crusader, I'd declare that I would not accept money from anyone who profited from porn. Sometimes you have to think things through. I think the above politicians want to talk the talk but they don't want to walk the walk. Of course, they may have been ignorant of the facts. Thus, they're too dumb to be representatives and senators, anyway.

I'll end with the closing paragraph of the CREW report.

"There are members of both the House and Senate who see no conflict in accepting significant political campaign contributions from corporations and executives who have profited by selling pornography. Self-righteous proclamations of morality notwithstanding, these Members are apparently blind to the vice of greed."

Save us from the self-righteous hypocrites. Clean your own house before you try to clean mine.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Musings 21--Fair and balanced journalism?

I went through journalism school from 1966 to 1970. W. Page Pitt was one of my reporting instructors. For those of you not in the know,the school of journalism at Marshall University was named after him. Page Pitt was a stickler for facts. He seldom used the word fair. It was facts, fairness be damned! I have absolutely no recollection of him ever using the word balanced with journalism.

Fair and balanced were not things old school journalists cared about. Facts! Just the facts! Let the devil take the hind part. If someone got burned because of it, then so be it.

I remember writing a story for the student newspaer, The Parthenon, in which a group of football players had been promised all sorts of things if they would come and enroll at Marshall University. When they came, some were taken care of and others were not. The ones that were not taken care of were upset, and they were more than happy to tell their story to me. I interviewed several of them and ran a front page story outlining thier gripes. I called up the head football coach and asked him about their allegations. He gave me his version and told me that "there is no story there." Well, to make a long story short. There was a story, and before it was all said and done, there were coaches fired. The head football coach never spoke to me again after that. He thought that I betrayed him...and, I guess I did. I betrayed him for the facts. I just wrote the story using information about all the things the recruits had been promised, and I made sure I had multiple sources for my facts.

As a journalist, I felt that the facts needed to see the light of day. I could have looked the other way and not written the story, but someone else probably would have. And, if no one else would have written it; then, irregularities would have gone unreported which could not pass the smell test. (If it smells bad it probably is bad. This test is used in milk, cheese and news reporting.)

Now about the phrase, "Fair and Balanced." What does that mean! Who are we being fair to? I guess I was unfair to the coach, but if I had not run the story, I would have been unfair to the athletics who had been promised scholarships and jobs if they'd only come to Marshall.

What does the "Balanced" part mean? Balanced to what? Liberal to conservative. Good to evil. Republican to democrat. Fact to fiction. There is absolutely nothing "Balanced" in news reporting if one is striving for the facts.

A news story is simply that...a story. It is told by the reporter who takes the facts and writes them up in a way that make some sort of sense out of many muddled situations. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. I get the feeling that conservatives think that they have a lock on truth telling. Liberals are much the same in their condescending attitudes toward social issues. The facts are neither liberal or conservative. The facts are the facts...nothing more nor less. Sometimes the reporter gets the facts wrong. That is why there are retractions.

The next time you hear Fox News declare that they are "Fair and Balanced," just ask yourselves...what exactly does that mean?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Musings 20--The Unsolvable Mathematical Equation

Many years ago, when I was a school teacher, I was working with a fellow who later lost his teaching certificate for messing around with minors. Beer and porn tapes were his offense. It was, no doubt, a very bad case of judgment on his part. Suffice it to say, he moved away and was never heard of again.

This popped into my head last night when I heard a fellow talking about the only science that is exact is mathematics. He was trying to show that science and creationism are about the same. Well they are not, but this is not what I want to write about.

One day in the teacher's lounge someone came up with this premise and the fellow with the bad judgment dubbed it, "The Unsolvable Mathematical Equation.

I present it here for eveyone who reads this to ponder:

Three salesmen are attending a seminar. Since they are good friends they decide to split the cost of a room. (Now you must thing in 1970-80 prices.) The counter clerk says no problem. The cost is $30 for one night for a three bed room. (There is not such a thing, you say. Yes, there is because two of my buddies and I rented one for a weekend in North Carolina when I was in the Marine Corps.) Each guy forks over $10 and they go off to their room. When the night manager arrives at the desk he sees that the clerk has over-charged the three salesmen by $5. He tells the bell hop to take $5 to the salesmen's room, which he does. He knocks on the door and the three guys are there. He tells them that they were overcharged for the room and hand one of the salesmen five one dollar bills ($5). The guys are amazed that anyone would give them back money. So they each keep a dollar apiece and give the bellhop $2.

Ok, you with me so far? Now, here comes the kicker. If each of the guys forked over $10 earlier and now they have gotten $1 back, then, they have each paid $9 for the room. Now stay with me because this is where it gets tricky.

Three times nine is 27. (3 X 9 = 27) Basic math, right? Good, now let us rehash. They gave $30 initially for the room. Each one has now paid $9 for the room. They gave the bellhop $2.
Thus 3 X 9 = 27 plus 2 (bellhop tip) equals...29!!! What happened to the other $1.

Thus, the "Unsolvable Mathematical Equation." So I guess when you really get right down to it there is no pure science in the world. Don't you love this stuff...I do.

It goes back to the old question, "If God can do all things, can he make a rock so big he can't lift?" I guess it is what I have known all along. Some things just don't add up.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Musings 19--For all our sakes...let her die.

I have been following the Terri Schiavo thing for about a year now. It seems to me that she is past the point of helping and if her husband, who is her guardian, wants to pull the feeding tube then he should be allowed to do it. This case is nothing new. Everyday other families, husbands, wives, children, etc. are making the same decision. Why does Teri Schiavo garner the headlines and my aunt, who died recently, did not? Easy answer...cable television.

My aunt was 93 years old and she went into deep sleep, you might say coma, and her caregivers let her slip away. My father had signed the form to not allow her to hang on after the body decided to shutdown. Terri Schiavo is the same.

The body realizes that there are things that cannot be healed. When this happens, the body starts shutting down. My aunt, before she went into the coma, told me the last time I talked to her that she just did not want to eat because the thought of it made her sick. Her body was starting to turn off. Without the feeding tube that has keep Terri Schiavo alive, she would have died years ago.

For fifteen years she has not had quality of life. For fifteen years she has been in a vegetated state. Her cereberal cortex has probably liquified long ago. She isn't coming back, and she is not going to get better. Her parents are trying to hang on. Her husband has been blasted to hell and back by the neo-cons and the talking heads of cable tv. He has more guts than I would have had. I'd have probably allowed the parents to take over and got on with my life.

My wife, Barbara, and I have debated this quite a bit. She says that she understands Mr. Schiavo trying to get on with his life by finding another companion. The religious right have condemned him to hell. Well, he's already been in hell for 15 years. He must have really loved her to put himself through this. I guess it goes back to the premise of true love. You know the one I mean...they write songs about it. Do you love someone enought to let them go? That is the ultimate test. Only the selfish hang on forever.

On a lighter note:

Spring is here and the days are getting longer. I'm hoping we do not get the one last snowstorm that we have gotten the last few years. I'm ready for hummingbirds and chirping frogs. Besides, the old horse needs the sun.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Musings 18...St. Patrick's Day, hey!

This is a happy shout to all you Irish who believe that the world was created just so you could have fun and drink beer. Personally, being a Scott, I think the Irish were created for my amusement, but, then, what does a few miles of water have to do with anything.

My wife, being the Irish lass that she is, is decked out in lots of green. I'm wearing my traditional red and black. Everybody celebrates in their own way. I watched "Imus in the Morning" on MSNBC today and they were in Boston at Fenway Ballpark. They've won one world championship. The New York Yankees have won 26. Have another beer.

I really never liked beer. I was always of the opinion that you could pour it right back into the horse and the world would be a better place. Ben Franklin disagreed with me. He believed that "beer was God's way of proving that he loved us." Ben was a bit of a boozer.

Change of topic:

I was driving back from Subway today with my tasty sandwich, when I heard Rush on the radio. He was lamenting about our U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, D,WV. I am getting a little tired of hearing him slam people. He and Sean Hannity love to use the mean little bards in their one way conversations. They refer to Senator Byrd as "Robert (KKK) Byrd." Well, that is fine, so taking these fine sterling examples of manhood as my example, I will now refer to Rush as "Rush the Druggie." I'm already referring to Hannity as Slanthead because...well, because it slants.

Byrd made a mistake when he was a young man. He's repented of it many times. Rush made, or by some, is making a mistake with drugs. I'll be nice to him when he is nice to the 87-year old Senator Byrd. Hannity is another matter. I dislike him in the same way I dislike Mr. President. I know it's a failing of mine, but I still hate the smirk. GW does it and so does Hannity. I have spent the better part of my life detesting people with this particular personality trait. I have found that people who do this usually do me harm in some way. Thus, when I see it, I go on the defense. In short, I go into a preemptive strike mode. Hmmm...where have I heard that before?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Musings 18--Missing monies, no outrage...

So I was waiting for the moral and total outrage from Fat Rush, Slanthead Hannity and Wild Bill O'Reilly about the 8.8 billion of unaccounted for money in Iraq. (See story) Since Col. David Hackworth reported this story about a month ago, I figured that the hawks would be all over it by now. Apparently, it's a non-starter to those clowns.

I really think that if a democrat administration had been over seeing this war and nearly 9 billion dollars disappeared we'd have hearings and hangings all over the place. Let's see now, if Mr. President wants another 80 billion for the war in Iraq, then, maybe we should just use the subtractive method of funding. 80 minus 9 equals 71. This way you cut out the waste. Go figure!

Good news. My buddy Lt. Col. Pat Ward is going to get to take some leave time from the middle east and will be vacationing with his family later this month. Down side. He does have to return after a few days.

Happy St. Patrick's day birthday, Lt. Col.

I saw a little green man twice.

On a thoughtful, but lighter note: An ant and an elephant got married. On their wedding night, while making love the elephant has a heart attack. When asked about the tragic event the ant said, "one night of passion and I spend the rest of my life digging a grave." Sometimes, I can relate.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Musings 17...A really old horse...

I have a horse that, this month, will be 29 years old. Now I don't quite know what horse years are to people years. Somebody said it was about 5 years for every horse year. If that is the case he is about 145 years old, so I doubt it.

He was born on our family farm on Greasy Ridge, Ohio and has lived every second of his life there. He will, I am sure, be buried there when his time finally comes. I give him special feed to eat because his teeth are all but gone. He has to gum his way through his food, but he still enjoys dinner time. His old joints are stiff and his front end don't quite work like it use to. He takes little steps and is in pain when he moves a lot. I give him 10 aspirins per day ground up with his feed to ease the pain. I know that his days are numbered, but I am hoping that he gets to feel the warm sun of summer one more time.

Some of my friends say that I should probably have him put down, but I really feel that when his time comes, mother nature, God, whoever, will take care of the problem. I had another horse I had put down when he got old and I have never quite forgiven myself for it. Besides, I've got a few more aches and pains myself.

The weather of late has been quite cold and he is having a hard time getting up and down. Horses, contrary to popular belief, lie down as well as stand when they sleep. Old horses lie down a lot. He is nearly blind but he still can hear very good. If I say his name, most times he will answer me with a slight neigh or nicker. I don't think horses were suppose to last as long as he has lasted, but he's had it fairly easy the last decade or so. I quit riding him when he was about 18, so he has had a good retirement.

I don't know his politics, but if I were guessing I'd say he was a bit of a conservative. When he was younger he did not like to share with the other horses. Now he is just happy to have his pan full of food at the end of the day. Kind of like all other senior citizens. I'm sure he is glad I didn't lose all my money with shoddy investments. If I had he'd have been in the glue factory years ago. He just wants a dry warm place to sleep and food to eat. It ain't much, but it's about the same for human beings who are on social security.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Musings 17....Ah, gambling investments...

Look at the photo. Would you want this guy investing your retirement monies.

one more time
Originally uploaded by andrax33.

This is similar to the way that Mr. President wants you to work with private accounts for social security. This dude in the picture lost $100 within 20 minutes. If you multiply that out to an hour ($300) and then to 8 hours ($2,400) you can see that maybe a trust fund with a fixed rate is safer.

In 1980 I started investing into an annuity. By year 2000 I had a value of around $40,000. When the market did a down turn and 9-1-1 happened my mutual fund annuity went to $18,000. Since my total investment had been about $15,000, I was still ahead of the game. I just got my statement for my fund this month and it is now worth $28,000. Give me another 5 years and I'll be back on track for that boat I've always wanted.

Hey everybody gets lucky, but what if the bad luck hits just before you are ready to retire. Zounds foiled again........

Musings 16...Kool Aid

So when someone says that "you drank the Kool Aid," what do they mean? I've been around for well over 50 years and I tend to think that current history is my lifetime and that everyone else feels the same way. For those of you who might not know, the expression came from the 1978 event in which 913 people drank poison Kool Aid from the Rev. Jim Jones at what became known as the Jonestown Massacre. I think the exact number of casulties were around 918 or so. Jim Jones was a charismatic minister who poisoned his folk when investigated by Congressman Leo Ryan. (see story)

So when someone says that you are "drinking the Kool Aid" it means you are following blindly the party line. All those people at Jonestown did not question the Rev. Jones and they drank and died. It is never wrong to question the actions of others, especially if the others do not like to be second guessed. That's what wears me out with Mr. President and Vice President Haliburton. They hate to be questioned and they sure do pass out the Kool Aid as people like Rush and Hannity force it down everyone's collective gullet.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Musings 15..."Extraordinary rendition"

It is definitely not the country that I thought I lived in...anymore. America, the home of the free and the brave, is fast becoming like every other nation in the world.

The best thing about being an American was that we were definitely above everybody else. We were accused of thinking that we were better than everybody else--and it was true, because we were. We were polite and always said we weren't, but, really down deep, we knew we were, and that was a good thing.

Now, however, we have shown the world that we are not better than them. We can wage preemptive war and lie about why we did it. Much lesser nations have been doing that for centuries. We can now torture and deprive individuals of their rights simply because we feel that they are threats to us. It sounds kind of like old Russia. It is nice to know we finally caught up to them on that score.

Mr. President stated before the world that we do not believe in torture nor do we allow torture of any prisoners. Howsoever, how does he explain "extraordinary rendition?" That's the new term for the week. It simply means snatching suspected terrorists from one country and shipping them to another country to interrogate them. Why would we do this? Because, other countries we are friendly with do not have our same ideals. Torture is okay. Thus, we don't torture prisoners--we have others do it for us. As I'm fond of saying, "if it walks like a duck, if it talks like a duck, then it must be a..."

It just makes me sad that we cannot uphold the moral basics of our beliefs--even though we lost 3,000 people to terrorists. Maybe we never were the good guys, but I thought we were. Now, we're just the guys that want to win...anyway possible. We've finally become like the rest of the world. You'd think they would like us. But, alas, they hate us all the more. I liked it better when we could look down our respective noses at everyone else. At least, then, we were holding to higher standards.

"Extraordinary rendition," remember it. It's a phrase we'll likely hear a lot about in the years to come.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Musings 14...Strike three!

I used to have a lot of respect for Senator John McCain. He was a real war hero. He was never brash or smart-mouthed. He stood up for all of the people. He was progressive on all the right issues, but then came his run against G.W. for the 2000 election. When G.W. smeared him on a fake racial issue to win the South Carolina primary, McCain was undoubtedly upset. He shrugged it off. So much for the straight talk express. I'll call that strike one.

Next McCain campaigned for G.W., even though he knew there were problems with the swatting of Iraq. Take one for the party. Ok, call that strike two.

Now John McCain was asked in an interview yesterday if he was for having censorship on cable television. Instead of saying that he was for free speech and choice, he said that he felt that hearings should be held on it. Strike are out!

The constitutional right of freedom of speech really only covers governmental censorship. This in turn carries to the states and to local governments. Cable tv is not the public airways. Nobody gets cable, legally, unless they pay for it. It's a choice. Don't mess where you're not needed, senator.

I guess there just aren't any good republicans anymore. It is truly a sad time for our country. Janet Jackson, look what you did to us. Who would have thought that our nation would crumble over a tit.

Go figure.

Musings 13...Oh, well...

It seems that Mr. President in not going to get his social security privatization package through congress this year. Senate majority leader Frist and House enforcer Tom Delay are talking about next year. Apparently, the good senators and representatives have been receiving bunches of negative responses to Mr. President's private accounts. Maybe the public are not as dumb as they think they are. Oh, well...

Originally uploaded by andrax33.

I think this pretty much speaks for itself. Oh, well...

It seems that Secretary Rumsfeld is afraid to put a number on the amount of insurgents that are opposing us in Iraq. When we first went in, it seems to me, that the number was about 5,000. I distinctly remember he and other neo-cons using this figure. Well, anyway, Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani says: "I think the resistance is bigger than the U.S. military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000." He went on to say that 40,000 were hard-cored fighters and the rest were part-time fighters and sympathizers. I'd be afraid of those numbers too. (see article)Oh, well...

There is the ever-shifting position of why we are in Iraq. The rightwing blowhards are quick to point out that Saddam killed hundreds of thousands and buried them in the dessert. Bad Saddam, bad Saddam, but that was not why we went into Iraq. It was all about WMD's. Oh, well...

On a lighter note I just read about the new nickel. (see article)To which I say...Oh, well...

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