Monthly Archives: July, 2011

Vicious and Vain

Surreal, this report that mass murderer Anders Brievik had plastic surgery to make himself look more ‘Aryan’.

Far right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to a bombing and youth camp massacre that killed 77 people in Norway earlier in July, had reportedly undergone plastic surgery to appear more Aryan, a Norwegian intelligence official claimed Sunday.
Head of Norway’s intelligence agency the PST, Janne Kristiansen, told the British Sunday Times that there is no way that Breivik’s blond haired, blue eyed strong features look was natural.

America’s David Duke reportedly had a face lift to enhance his career as a professional white man.

[Louisiana Rep. Ron]Gomez recalls having met and interviewed Duke in the middle 1970s when Duke was a state senate candidate: “He was still in his mid-20s and very non-descript. Tall and slimly built, he had a very prominent nose, flat cheek bones, a slightly receding chin and straight dark brown hair. The interview turned out to be quite innocuous, and I hadn’t thought about it again until Duke came to my legislative desk, and we shook hands. Who was this guy? Tall and well-built with a perfect nose, a model’s cheek bones, prominent chin, blue eyes and freshly coiffed blond hair, he looked like a movie star. He obviously didn’t remember from the radio encounter, and I was content to leave it at that.”[39]

Consistent with Gomez’s observation, Duke in the latter 1980s reportedly had his nose thinned and chin augmented. Following his election to the Louisiana House of Representatives, he shaved his mustache.[40][41][42]

In recent photos Duke looks ironed.

Too bad they don’t just tie a towel around their neck and jump out a window thinking they can fly. Some fantasies are more dangerous than others. The myth of superiority has caused countless wars. It’s funny, in a sick way, when nature can’t create a superman that doesn’t need a little nip and tuck.

Crazy Logic

Of all the crazy propositions being thrown around in the current debt crisis talks, the tough, ‘zero tolerance’, ‘no tax increases ever’ seem craziest to me. For one thing, every cut is a cost of living increase on the people who lose a service. Another fact of life is that you have to expect the unexpected. We got government help for last year’s floods, and the Mall looks better when it’s not underwater. We can’t write inflexibility into our Constitution and expect our kids to go back on the gold standard.

This all reminds me of the magazines, like Women’s Day, I read when I was a teenager. There was an article about a housewife who decided that the weekly grocery budget for her family of four should never exceed $20.

Even in the sixties this made grocery shopping a full time job. The woman spent hours clipping coupons, and drove many miles burning the cheap gas of the good old days because Krogers was selling apples 2 cents cheaper than Star. She sent her husband to work with a peanut butter sandwich, or a cheese sandwich, on alternate days. She weighed her kid’s snacks. The kids were probably doing other kid’s homework for candy money, or majoring in home ec so they could be around food, but so help her God, she never spent more than $20. This woman had faith. She could stand on her principles. She was demented.

Even in the late sixties inflation was nibbling at her $20, forcing her to deprive her family to stay within her budget. The value of money in relation to groceries varies according to forces much larger than one thrifty woman can control, even if she is obsessed. She might be smart to spend more on the 2 for 1 pasta sale and save later, just as a homely example. Or, for the love of God, get a part-time job before the kids get rickets.

‘Money is just a form of energy’, say the New Agers, and they are twits. Money is real enough, but is not changeless in value. If you leave your baby in a burning house to save your wallet you’ll be counting your bills in jail, right? But it’s a virtue to defund fire prevention and public safety? Our children are not being hurt by cuts in education? We should let the old people end up in homeless shelters?

I don’t know what clump of sausage will come out of this mess in Washington. I’m not an economist. But even I can see that starving the government and feeding the corporations will leave citizens on the losing side.

A Lot to be Grateful For

Thank you to all the kind readers who sent your thoughts and support. It is good to have so many friends.

My Dad came home from the hospital yesterday, and we’ll stay close to keep him safe. He’s getting home care– not from me, but from a nurse who will be able to keep his or her cool and objectivity. When it’s my own family I lose most of my brain cells.

He could have gone to a nursing home for physical therapy, but people with memory problems really suffer when they are out of their familiar surroundings, so we’ll try to adapt the house for fall prevention. Warwick Pilgrim Senior Center lent us a walker– very kind, since it takes a while for Medicare to cover one and we don’t know for certain what he will need or use. I’ll be on the phone Monday to see how long it will take to get the VA to cover his new prescriptions– those pills are a bite.

It worries me that he’s on so much medication. Everything’s a guessing game, and this is two cardiologist’s best guess. We just take it one day at a time.

Waiting

No surprise that we’re here waiting. This is life when you get to the age when you count your blessings and count the days. The worst thing we could do to our parents would to pre-decease them, so the best requires us to say goodbye.

There’s a Buddhist story. A peasant man saves up until he can afford to pay a monk to write him a blessing to adorn the family altar. He watches the monk cover the scroll with flowing calligraphy, and asks him respectfully what the blessing says.

‘Grandfather dies, father dies, son dies.’ says the monk.

The peasant is outraged. ‘I gave you everything I had to buy a blessing, and you have written me a curse!’ he cried.

‘On the contrary’, said the monk. ‘If the father died before the grandfather, or the son before the father, this would cause terrible suffering to the family. If each dies in his time, this is the way of the universe and everything is as it should be.’

The peasant was satisfied that he had truly been blessed.

Of course, the monk did not write that the family would enjoy longevity, or be spared any other of the thousand fates that could befall them, because the monk had no power or knowledge of that. The best we can hope for in this world is that we have our time, and don’t leave our parents bereaved.

My Dad is in the hospital now, we hope he will come home soon. Meanwhile we are taking turns watching over him and talking to the nurses and doctors. He’s at Kent County, they’ve been wonderful and we’re all in agreement that he should be discharged as soon as it’s safe. Still, there have been failures of communication between the ER and the unit, the VA and Kent. We’ve ironed that out and have been his voice and protection from falls that can happen in an instant no matter how good the staff. The staff has been good about letting us camp out here and help with the care– I haven’t had a huffy or officious word spoken to me in three days.

If we are blessed, we are here to help our parents in their time, and that is the best we can hope for in this world.

Obituary for My Mother, Ann Marie (Nancy) Stoppleworth

Ann Marie (Nancy) Stoppleworth passed away on July 22, 2011 in Providence, RI. She was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on August 3, 1925, the oldest daughter of Mary and William Dwyer. Nancy was a graduate of Saint Francis Nursing School for her RN, Georgetown University for her Bachelors degree in Nursing, and The University of Connecticut for her Masters degree in Anthropology. She joined the convent twice as a young woman before choosing to live the secular life. She married Leland J. Stoppleworth on July 5, 1958, and was the mother of seven children.

Nancy led a successful career as a nurse and nursing administrator, serving as a nurse in many hospitals, visiting nursing services, and finally as the Chief of Nursing for the State of Connecticut Mental Health Services. Nancy was a devout lifelong Catholic who carried out the church’s mission of charity in myriad ways including serving the homeless in soup kitchens and shelters, caring for poor families in the community, participating in prayer groups and prayer lines for the sick, traveling to Haiti for charitable mission work, and establishing charitable annuities for medical and educational purposes with Maryknoll Sisters and Salesian missions.

In 2004, Nancy donated 55 acres of land to the town of Tolland, Connecticut in order to create the Stoppleworth Conservation area, a pristine and beautiful open space for all to enjoy. Nancy was a lifelong journal-writer, who left behind scores of honest and brave reflections on her many life dilemmas, successes, and concerns. She loved reading and knowledge, swimming in Bolton Lake, going to the beach, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by two sisters, Helen Stephenson and Lyn Jacoby, who reside in California, and six of her seven children: Laura Reave and husband Robert Reave of London, Ontario; Amalia Delorenzo of Guerneville, California; Anne Weber and husband Garry Weber of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Maria Dugan and husband Douglas Dugan of Brooklyn, New York; John Stoppleworth and wife Janice Kloo of Manchester, Connecticut; and Kiersten Marek and husband Kevin Marek of Cranston, Rhode Island. Her youngest child, Angela, died in childhood due to a muscular disease. She is also survived by grandchildren Melanie Reave; Seth Martel; Bryan, Paul, and Charles Weber; Elena, Avra, Isaiah and Patrick Dugan; and Katrina and Kalliana Marek.

Services for Nancy will take place at Church of the Ascension, 390 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston at 10 am on Wednesday, July 27, with reception to follow. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Maryknoll Sisters, P.O. Box 311, Maryknoll NY 10545.

Calling Hours will be from 6 – 8 PM at our home at 109 Waterman Avenue on Tuesday evening. Please send an email to me if you are planning to come.

Lose Weight and Save Money with Canadian-Style Healthcare

Thanks to protect_democracy at Buzzflash for this link to a post by Robert Reich that puts the health care mess in terms you don’t have to be an economist to understand…

America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error.

Meanwhile, administrative costs eat up 15 to 30 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. That’s twice the rate of most other advanced nations. Where does this money go? Mainly into collecting money: Doctors collect from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collect from insurers, insurers collect from companies or from policy holders.

This rings so true to me. I saw a patient today and spent 3/4 of my time in such tasks as re-writing med lists with my quill and ink well and trying, through scrawled notes and talking to the patient, to figure out what he needed for home care. Next I get to call his insurance and wait on hold. I love being a nurse, I just wish I had gone to secretarial school first.

That’s part of the problem. Part of the solution is to open Medicare to all, enlarge the risk pool, cut administrative costs and also save lives and money by ensuring that a patient’s records are available to their doctors.

Reich mentions that home nursing helps prevent costly re-hospitalization, and that is my job. I spend more of my time filling out paperwork than I think is necessary for patient care, so I see some of the frustrating waste and inefficiency firsthand.

Another side of this that is not much mentioned is the terrible drain on our society by letting people get sick enough to go to the emergency room instead of helping them keep well with primary care. Well people who work and pay taxes are good, but if you talk about investing in health care it’s seen as charity for the unworthy and mindless sentimentality. Well, I’ve got news– there’s nothing pragmatic about letting people suffer– we pay more later.

This is from a recent research article from Open Medicine...

Canadian health care has many well-publicized limitations. Nevertheless, it produces health benefits similar, or perhaps superior, to those of the US health system, but at a much lower cost. Canada’s single-payer system for physician and hospital care yields large administrative efficiencies in comparison with the American multi-payer model.60 Not-for-profit hospital funding results in appreciably lower payments to third-party payers in comparison to for-profit hospitals61 while achieving lower mortality rates.62 Policy debates and decisions regarding the direction of health care in both Canada and the United States should consider the results of our systematic review: Canada’s single-payer system, which relies on not-for-profit delivery, achieves health outcomes that are at least equal to those in the United States at two-thirds the cost.

But let’s get down to the important issues. Americans are 10% more overweight than Canadians. This number takes into account the different ethnic makeup of the populations– with all the adjustments, Canadians can still fit into our old jeans.
Canada is a country where people consider a plate of french-fries sprinkled with cheese and smothered with gravy a light appetizer. Their main export is donuts. It’s freezing up there, and dark eight months of the year, so Canadians have no reason to go outside. Snow shoveling may burn some calories, but Canada is full of old people because their elderly just keep living and living. They just attach a snowblower to their scooter and ride to the Tim Hortons.

After careful analysis, I have to rule out diet and lifestyle

The only possible explanation is that a single payer health care system keeps people slim.

Norway’s Oklahoma City

Violence against innocent people, who knows why? Criminals always have their reasons, but it never makes sense. With so much hate it’s easy for murder to hide in plain sight.

One man, it seems, took ninety-one lives. Not only by the impersonal crime of bombing, but with a gun.

It will never make sense. Our condolences go to a country whose peace was violated.

Debt Crisis Local and National

Tom Sgouros explains it…

Let’s be real, after the Clinton surplus, we have a deficit because George W. Bush chose to prosecute two wars without paying for them, allowing our soldiers and their families to be the only ones to sacrifice for war. He also proposed and saw passed a Medicare drug benefit that predominantly benefited drug companies, and cut taxes by a tremendous amount long after it was clear that the other policies were going to cause the annual deficit to balloon. He squandered that surplus with the able assistance of a Republican-controlled House and Senate. He did it with the help of some Democrats, of course, but they weren’t in control of any branch of the government.

Sgouros doesn’t let RI off the hook either, or our politicians. If you want to know why RI is worse off than MA, read the rest here.

Australia Halts Murdoch Monopoly

If we’re lucky, future historians will look back on this time as a turning point…

Scandal stricken News Corp suffered a fresh setback today when Australian Competition Commission said that its $2.7 billion takeover bid of Austar raised “significant” monopoly issues and delayed decision on it till September.

The takeover bid by Foxtel, part owned by Murdoch’s News Corp would have given the company an almost undisputed sway in pay TV operations in Australia.

The delay in takeover bid was a second setback to Murdoch’s News Corp within weeks as the company had to abandon its plans to take full control of the the money spinner London based Satellite Broadcaster, BSkyB.

The Australian Competition Commission ruled that the merger of Foxtel and Austar, its major rival in Australia was likely to lead to “substantial lessening of competition in the pay TV market”.

“The proposed merger would therefore effectively create a monopoly subscription television provider across Australia”, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported quoting a statement issued by the Commission.

We’ll see in September if the Australians can resist their multinational native son.

Smell Test

I upset my family sometimes by my casual attitude in the kitchen. Expiration dates are only a suggestion, I believe. Being old, I remember when there were no expiration dates and you just guessed, and my grandparents got by with an icebox. If the ice melted you just had to wing it. I took microbiology, and my philosophy is–that’s why you cook the food. When I had a baby I was fanatically vigilant– but now it’s adults and we can fend for ourselves.

That’s what I say, but I’m often the only one who will eat my cooking. Hey, more for me.

I do apply the smell test, and if doesn’t smell right I chuck it.

There’s no smell test for antibiotic residues, or for radioactivity. Some Japanese found out they had fed contaminated beef to their children before the government responded and pulled the meat from supermarkets.

But it’s all good, no danger to the public, don’t worry. Japan Times has a reassuring explanation. Does this pass the smell test?

If I eat something doubtful from my fridge, I’ll know fairly soon if it was good. The risks are short term and clear. Having radioactive Cesium in your body for a few months is a nuclear experiment on the population. The history of exposed populations– Hiroshima, Nevada, Chernobyl– is not reassuring. ‘No immediate risk’ is still the mantra. The Japanese public has a right to be concerned.

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