Last June, a 27-year-old T-ball coach offered one of his eight-year-old players $25 to hit another eight-year-old team mate in the head with a baseball. You see, the coach, Mark Reeds Downs, Jr. , is said to be "very competitive" and the kid he wanted to have beaned was not very good. The rules of T-ball are that all players have to play three innings in each game. Therefore, in the strange logic of all too many adults who involve themselves in children's games, the only thing Downs could do was to see to it that the kid was unable to play.
His $25 was well spent. The kid was hit near the left ear and in the groin during pre-game warm-ups and was unable to play. The matter is under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police, a marvelous use of public resources. Downs has been charged with criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault, corruption of minors and reckless endangerment. If he is found guilty, "he will not be coaching next year", said a league official.
This is by no means an isolated case of one nut who somehow managed to slip through the net. Ever since the Houston area mother attempted to help her daughter make the cheerleader squad by having a rival killed, the papers have had an ample sufficiency of stories about parents (not just fathers) beating up coaches, or even children, and coaching suing parents, or parents suing coaches.
As I understand it, participation in sport teaches a number of useful lessons, none of which are supposed to be felonious. While I have nothing against Little League, Pop Warner, and whatever the starter soccer leagues are called, I have never understood how kids were supposed to learn to deal with the the very serious problem of how to handle an otherwise friend who just happened to be a goat at baseball, if the decision is taken away from them. The T-ball team in North Union Township, Pa. have learned the grown-up approach, which ought to serve them really well in later life.
Being a kid is the greatest learning experience there is. Overly helpful parents and other adults are ruining it. We have to find a way to let kids be kids while protecting them. It used to be much easier. Mother's merely look out the kitchen window from time to time, and raced onto the field when needed. It didn't have to be the child's mother. They all either took turns, or did what had to be done, when it had to be done, depending on who was the closest. Maybe, thanks to the computer and the Internet, a parent can again monitor the children from a window. But this time, by looking up from the computer, rather than the dishes. Something has got to be done and done quickly. The current system just isn't working.
Tom on the blog
Friday, July 29, 2005
Last June, a 27-year-old T-ball coach offered one of his eight-year-old players $25 to hit another eight-year-old team mate in the head with a baseball. You see, the coach, Mark Reeds Downs, Jr. , is said to be "very competitive" and the kid he wanted to have beaned was not very good. The rules of T-ball are that all players have to play three innings in each game. Therefore, in the strange logic of all too many adults who involve themselves in children's games, the only thing Downs could do was to see to it that the kid was unable to play.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass-- a idiot." Charles Dickens, "Oliver Twist.
Based on one of the few opinions my Supreme Court nominee, John G. Roberts, Mr. Bumble's assessment is as right today as it was then.
On September 17, 2004 the District Court of Columbia Circuit was handed a hot potato. Ansche Hedgepeth, a 12-yr-old arrested for eating one french fry in a Washington, DC, Metro station, petitioned the court to have her arrest expunged. After noting that the Court was less than pleased that this matter had been brought to it, Mr. Roberts decided that there was nothing the Court could do based on the petition as filed. Hedepeth's lawyers argued that the arrest violated the Fourth and Fifth amendments, but, for some reason, failed to invoke the cruel and unusual punishment section, which surely would have worked.
I mean, we are talking about forcing a person to spend the rest of her life having to answer "yes", every time a former or potential employer asks if she has been arrested, all because she ate a fry in a Metro station. Roberts expressed concern about the trauma Ansche suffered from the experience, but seems completely unworried about the effect the arrest should have on the rest of her life.
Surely, someone who sailed through Harvard in three years must realize what will follow from his decision. There will be no fear of being arrested. When the question, were you ever arrested is answered in the affirmative, the response is likely to be, "you and everybody else. I don't know why we bother to ask that question." The deterrent threat of arrest will be as inconsequential among decent kids as it is among gang busters.
Well, it could have been worse. Roberts points out that the usual first step in analyzing whether an action violated the Fourth amendment is asking "whether the action was regarded as an unlawful search and seizure under the common law when the Amendment was framed." Since 12-yr-olds were hanged for petty theft at the time, that would be a hard standard to survive.
Of course, all this was a complete waste of the Court's time. What we have here is an example of a bonehead cop making a dumb decision. Now, that dumb decision has been made into a precedent. Why in the world was Ansche arrested? She could have been taken to the station and held until her mother came and got her without the formality of an arrest. That used to be the standard way of handling young vandals.
It is extremely disappointing that Judge Roberts gave such a C performance. But that is probably exactly why Mr. Bush likes him.
Post by Tom
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Every time the radio announces that Dallas air quality is Red (fine for anyone who doesn't breathe), I have to wonder, what has the Environmental Protection Agency been doing for the last 35 years?
When President Nixon (believe it or not) signed the EPA into existence in July, 1970, it was supposed to clean up the air and the water. If you remember, the air and the water were particularly bad in those days. A river near Cleveland used to burst into flames. Fish in the Hudson River were a fond memory.
Since then, I can't remember any burning rivers or lakes. Fish have returned to a number of rivers. You can't eat them, but they are there, absorbing mercury and dioxins, but not too much DDT, despite the best efforts of Representative Tom DeLay (R Sugar Land, TX) to get it back on the market.
The air, of course, has gotten a lot worse. Or, put it another way, the bad air has been spread out to a lot of places that used to have good air.
The Bush Administration has taken a giant step backwards on the environment. The Bush idea is that industry is composed of good people who will do as much of the right thing as they can afford. Making them do more would only cost jobs and tax revenues. That sounds eminently reasonable until you remember that before the EPA and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts came into existence, American industry had been given more than 100 years to do the right things, and failed to do it, which is precisely why we needed the EPA in the first place.
Even now, there are a few corporate neanderthals like ExxonMobil chariman, Lee Raymond, who has decided his shareholder's money is better spent fighting the notion of global warming than funding Masterpiece Theater or Mystery on PBS, or raising the dividend. To be sure, Mr. Raymond comes by his environmental notions honestly. They are part of the Exxon corporate culture. After the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in 1989, an Exxon spokesman told a room full of reporters in Houston that the spill was the "best thing that ever happened" to the people of Alaska. Some companies just never learn.
But Mr./ Bush and Raymond are not alone. Wherever there is a buck to be made, either through increased revenue or campaign contributions, there will be a government official ready to sacrifice his constituents lungs. By the way, those are your lungs he is sacrificing.
Tom.... on the blog for Tammy
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The reason a number of healthcare providers wear masks is because they are crooks. Medicaid fraud is big business in every state in the Union. Set up about forty years ago to provide healthcare for the nation's poor as part of President Johnson's Great Society, Medicaid has become a grab bag for rip-off minded medicos across the country.
The FBI conservatively estimates that 10 cents of each dollar spent on Medicaid each year is lost to fraud and abuse. Infiscal year 1994, the U.S. spent $107 billion on Medicaid, so that means more than 10 billion was lost to fraud and deceit. Since then, Medicaid expenditures have increased significantly and fraud and waste have probably increased even faster, as a year long investigation by the New York Times shows.
In New York State, according to a recent story in the Times by Clifford Levy and Michael Luo, fraud and waste could account for $18 billion of the state's $45 billion budget.
Consider the case of Dr. Dolly Rosen, DDS, who reportedly performing 991 procedures in a single day. Even if she worked a full twenty-four hours that would have been one procedure every 1.5 minutes with no time off for meals or anything else. Dr. Rosen believes in sharing the gravy train. She rang up something like $200 million in ambulette charges for her patients that can't walk. The Times reporters said they saw some of these patients walk just fine. They also suggested the ambulette company charged for trips not made.
In the tradition of boss Tweed, the people who are supposed to police New York's Medicaid said they were doing a crackerjack job.
In Texas, where the pie is nowhere as high, enforcers recovered nearly $500 in medicaid disbursements in 2003, the last year for which data are available. Since 2003, there have been a number of high profile nursing home cases in the Lone Star State involving both fraud and patient abuse.
Next door, in Louisiana, it must be like shooting fish in a barrel for regulators to catch the crooks. In 2003, the state recovered $6.7 million and had 49 convictions. In one case, a Kid-Med clinic in New Orleans billed for physician office visits without having a licensed physician on staff. Another "healer" billed for face-to-face visits when she was out of the country. A transportation company, perhaps taking a leaf from Dr. Rosen's book, billed for more than 2,000 miles in eight hours. Even by Louisiana standards, this is flat moving.
The question is, why would anyone believe that a crooked healthcare provider would stop at the state level? How much of the tremendous problem facing the federal Medicare program has been caused by thieves?
Monday, July 25, 2005
I left DFW airport early Saturday morning. Journeyed on to San Francisco. Arrived in Beijing on Sunday afternoon and on to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia arriving late Sunday night. Basically, I have traveled thirty-two hours to catch a short nights sleep and move out via bus to a location approximately seventy miles from the Siberian border.
This will be a "new" adventure for me, as I am part of a civilian humanitarian team reaching out to the Mongolian people. I will be part of the medical arm, along with other nurses, doctors and pharmacists. I am quite used to military medicine. My last big trip, was to Ghana, W. Africa for 21 days. What I am not used to is: no official securement of the perimeter, not standing watches in the middle of the night and no daily military briefing on escape routes in case of sudden chaos! So this will be different! But I intend to blast out of bed each day like I have been shot from a cannon! Life is fun!
If you are new to the blog please read the May 27 post "Guns and Tongues". I believe in free speech. As such, the dark side of the force, "Tom in Dallas" will be posting for the remainder of this week. Then to keep from coming home to a Democratic party tent set up in my yard, Tom wearing a party hat and wearing his "Hillary for President" button, you get my thoughts back on the page next week. Feel free to post a comment or send a comment to my e mail. I will eventually respond after my return. But I will most likely be in a semi-comatose state for a couple days after arrival home!
I would encourage you to also post a comment on what Tom has written. He provides a dimension to the blog which I lack. I tend to write on societal issues. He is able to bring the legal issues to the table, among other things. Let him know you are out there and reading. He has generously given of his time to help keep the blog running in my absence. He would appreciate the feedback and I would also be most appreciative.
Be back in Dallas in a couple of weeks!
Friday, July 22, 2005
Best I can figure, I got the promo for a porn site because of clicking on stuff for my blog on child porn, or more recently for the one on the cell phone porn industry. So now, I have in my possession a nifty little tri-fold from www.luckyduckcard.com inviting me to sell pre-paid adult entertainment internet cards. Yessirree. I can be an entrepeneur of the sleaziest kind and get rich off of selling these trashy little keys that open the door to paid porn.
Figuring that their average new business owner would not be able to do fifth grade math, they even included a color graph that shows that if I sell one card a day, I make $240 dollars a month, 2 cards a day, 480 dollars a month. Hey wait! Maybe this is third grade math?
Anyway, here is the great new idea. I go ahead and buy (hopefully) hundreds of these cards for 12 bucks each. Then, I sell them for twenty dollars. This provides a full month of cyber-sex fun for the lucky card holder. Or, if I am marketing to children who are hollowing out their piggy banks for a sneak into the world of porn, I can offer a one day card for $5.00 or a fourteen day card for $10.00. Of course, I am not to be selling to children, but who is to know? Just my little secret. (The tri-fold says "adult entertainment" all over it, but we all know the child porn industry that subjugates and abuses children would not shed a tear if children also begin to consume adult porn.)
These cards are beautiful! Among the consumer advantages are no credit card information placed on the internet. Around the clock access. So just wait until the folks are in bed and creep down to the computer room to have a peek. What parent is going to look for cyber porn under a heading of lucky duck? They probably think it is a Disney site.
Of course, let's not forget the retailer advantages. I liked the "small selling space required". I can carry the cards in my purse, sell them after the softball game from the back seat of my car, and it is so easy to explain! Tell the buyer to just scratch off the username and password on the back of the card and they have instant cyber-sex lotto winnings!
Now the individuals who already have a conscience that functions about as well as a potted plant will further be encouraged to know that "Pottery fragments and fertility fetishes from thousands of years ago attest to the fact that sex is indeed the world's oldest industry." It is good to keep one's plant watered. But, did we not already know that fact?
Pulling up the website there is a silhouette of a naked model with a chair. Would someone explain that chair thing to me? And a blurred picture of something else, which is along the same line as what Grand Theft Auto was trying to offer the kiddies until they were caught . Just enough blur that if you get a pair of Dollar Store reading glasses, it will probably come into focus. Gee, can't wait to scratch off my number.
But anyway, this really lights a fire under me. Everyone knows how I crusade against trash like this being marketed to our children. So just a heads up to parents, to screen for this web-site in the months to come. If you see this site.... you had better have a talk with the kids. And feel free to turn the merchant of smut into the local vice squad if your kid flashes one of these cards.
Editors note: www.luckyduck.com sells lasers. Add the word "card" and you have porn. I have put in a call to the local vice squad to carp about this trash. They love me!
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The last few days I have been pretty much "off the leash". Probably more like "off the leash and pepper-sprayed..." I do not apologize for my opinion. Woof! So for those who envision me as somewhere between a Nazi female prison warden and a cloistered nun with no sense of humor, you will be offered a bit of poetry today to calm the emotional circuitry.
Let's go for a taste of the East again today. And follow it with a bit of American poetry.
The following is by Farid ud Din Attar (1119-1230?) His best known work is "Conference of the Birds". He is one of the most voluminous authors in Persian Literature.
Intoxicated by the wine of Love.
From each a mystic silence Love demands.
What do all seek so earnestly? 'Tis Love.
What do they whisper to each other? Love?
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.
In Love no longer "thou" and "I" exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul,
Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds,
Will find the secret of them both, is Love.
Farid ud Din Attar- translation by Margaret Smith, from The Jawhar Al-Dhat
The next two poems are from Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) These are from The Complete Poems (1924), which total 597 of her poems, set in categories. I have included two on the topic of love. She is my favorite female American poet.
Proud of my broken heart since thou didst break it,
Proud of the pain I did not feel till thee.
Proud of my night since thou with moons dost slake it,
Not to partake thy passion, my humility.
The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands,
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.
He never misses a degree;
Obedient to her eye,
He comes just so far toward the town,
Just so far goes away.
Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand,
And mine the distant sea,---
Obedient to the least command
Thine eyes impose on me.
I love Emily Dickinson for the simplicity of style that manages to convey a depth of emotion. Feel free to post a favorite poem on the blog today.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Editors note: "Tom in Dallas", the subterranean troll who lives somewhere in my blog basement just cannot leave this Karl Rove thing alone. He barked about it last week and submitted this to me today. In fact, both of us were barking like a couple of junkyard dogs last week. So to give it a whirl one more time, here is Tom!
The outing of Valerie Plame shows how far we have sunk in the political tricks department since the Democrat's merry prankster, Dick Tuck, tried to flood the Republican Convention with obviously pregnant young women sporting campaign buttons proclaiming "Nixon's the one." There is nothing even remotely funny about the Valerie Plame case.
During the Monday afternoon Scott McClellan bash, a White House reporter, possibly Helen Thomas, asked the president's press secretary a question so obvious that is is amazing no one has asked it before.
The question McClellan forestalled was, how did this ever get this far? Why didn't the President call people into his office and get to the bottom of it when the CIA referred the matter to the Justice Department, before a special prosecutor was appointed?
Could it be in the buttoned down and highly disciplined White House that the leakers were acting on presidential, or vice presidential, orders? Or, did some staffer, on his own, decide the thing to do was to discredit the person who had discredited the White House? If so, it would have to be someone very high in the pecking order. Initiative is not smiled upon in this White House.
The administrations external apparatchiks are attempting to spin that no crime has been committed, hence Mr. Bush's backtrack from anyone involved to anyone committing a crime will be fired. Their basis for this is that Ms. Wilson has been in this country long enough for the statute not to apply. Unfortunately, since she worked for a private company when she worked under cover, other people have been put at risk by her outing, regardless of whether the outing falls within the narrow view of the statute. Putting people's lives at risk for political revenge is morally reprehensible, which is why so many people believe that Karl Rove did it on his own.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The U.S. Constitution was drafted on September 17, 1787 and became effective on March 4, 1789. Since that time, the document has serves our government fairly well. But with the recent situation with the health of Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, his cancer, surgery, tracheostomy and latest hospitalization last week I am increasingly concerned. He believes he can stay the course on the bench. I think it is time for him to gracefully bow out.
The U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1, states:
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
When the Constitution was drafted the average life expectancy was 55 yrs. In 1900 the life expectancy in America rose to 63 years. Now, we sit at the number seventy-seven. Most likely, the signers of the Constitution never considered that mankind would begin to live for longer and longer periods of time. So I support a Constitutional amendment to limit the term of a Supreme Court Justice. Twenty years sounds like a good number to me, as anyone seated on the bench has already had a few years of employment under his/her belt.
From 1789 to 1970 the jurists on the Supreme Court served for an average of fifteen years. Mr. Rehnquist has actually had a career in law for over fifty years now! In 1952 he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. After that, he entered private practice. In the Nixon administration Mr. Rehnquist worked diligently for two years in the White House Office of Legal Counsel. Interestingly enough, his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was his first judgeship. And get this! He was appointed to replace John Marshall Harlan, who was terminally ill.
So now Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist finds himself in the same position as that of his predecessor. He has walked through a grave illness. But he is also elderly and most likely unable to function at 100 percent mental capacity for the rigors of the bench. Lay it down, Rehnquist! It is time to pass the torch.
Monday, July 18, 2005
The Willard Principle states:
"What one has created, one cannot always control. And when one loses control over the created entity, incalculable harm can be incurred."
Now before you dig through texts of sociology or psychology manuals, let me direct you to the source of this principle and also the author of the principle. The source for this principle is found in the book "Willard". The author of the above (new) principle, is "moi". I fully expect to receive a research grant to work on this idea and bring it to maturity!
I read the book "Willard" many years ago. Since then, it has been made into a movie, but I have not bothered to watch it yet. Anyway, this is the dark story of a young adult man who leads a fairly boring life, lives at home with his mother and works for an authoritarian and mean-spirited boss. He seeks out the companionship of rats which infest his home. He later realizes that one of them is quite the intelligent vermin, and he trains the one, to lead the others. First, they commit an act of aggression against his boss, but then they work via his command to actually murder the people he blames for the predicaments and disappointments in his personal life.
At the end, as he journals his thoughts, he notes that he has become afraid of that which he has created. The book ends with him opening a door to observe his trusted rat reading his notes and not to spoil the ending, get the book! But naturally, you can figure it out, based on the above stated principle.
The New York Times today gave biographical sketches of some of the identified dead in the London tragedy. The work of identification is extremely hard as some of the bodies are so mangled and meshed together in that underground coffin in which they took their last breath, that there are not even discernable body parts. The London forensics branch is even resorting to tracking pacemakers and internally implanted medical devices to identify the deceased.
But among the dead, the daughter of an Anglican bishop, the son of a Nigerian oil executive, immigrants from Ghana and Romania and.... Muslims. The pictures of the living relatives, holding up pictures of the murdered is sobering. Remind you of anything?
But what we have here is the Willard Principle at work. al-Qaedah has created a functional and strong central command post, but has allowed for a largely decentralized and global cell-based organization to protect the people at the top from capture and legal prosecution. As such, a local cell in London may retain no contact or even knowlege of a cell in Madrid or the United States. We take out a cell, there is not always a domino effect. They can be self-functioning and autonomous once up and running. They are just lying in wait, for the "Go" signal. But what is not decentralized is the ideology that perpetrates the organization. And that ideology, has exploded across the globe.
We all saw pictures of Palestinians shooting rifles in the air, children laughing when pictures of the Towers collapsing were broadcast across the world. Those were heady days for some. All of a sudden, America "got what it deserved". About time for some payback, huh? There were even Muslim willing to go on the news (think Spain) and crow about the whole thing. But four years later, the small seed of destruction that sprouted on 9/11 has grown into a mega-business of suicide bombers that churns out its new recruits like a factory assembly line. This problem is not going away. The entity, now has a life of its own.
I work with Muslim in my place of employment. One of the men, is an outstanding supervisor originally from Iran. One of our women, a convert to Islam who works in the respiratory department. She faithfully wears her hijab to work. A Muslim, in pharmacy. Another, wears what I recognize as a small gold Qur'an on a chain around her neck. I know them all. They are my valued co-workers.
But for too long, the Muslim among us has been silent. There has not been enough said and done to curb this ideology of hate. And in passivity and silence, we now come to what has happened in London. Muslims were among the victims of that unbelievable carnage. The Willard Principle is in full force now. Incalculable harm is coming to us all. The entity is striking all nationalities, all religions and all people. It is out of control because it is now striking children. And when children are murdered, we are dealing with a monster. Think about it. And remember what I have said in the previous post: May God's mercy be on us all.
Editors note: "Willard" was published in this country by Lancer's in 1968. The original work was titled "Ratman's Notebooks" by British author Gilbert Stephen.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Recruit four or five Middle Eastern men.
Profile: young adult, alienated from mainstream society, idealistic but psychologically pliable.
Method: Cultivate thought processes with a combination of religious and Marxist ideology in an intensive learning environment.
Reinforce the psychological indoctrination with a field course in small arms use, bomb making and surveillance evasion.
As the time of sacrifice approaches reinforce the goals with overarching visions of heroism and the greater good.
Work to desensitize the recruit to the humanity factor. He must not see a face when he views the enemy, he must see a "cause".
The night before the deed, provide a special dinner and speeches in honor of the selfless acts of the volunteers. Pat them on the back. Make the video. Remind them that what they are doing is righteous.
Strap that pack onto the bomber and hope for maximum body count.
Remember, America. Weapons of mass destruction now come in containers of about 180 lbs. which are detonated at random by the one who wields the means. This is a different war. It comes, as we go about our daily lives. It came for the people of London last week. It came for children in Iraq. Please pray for those that grieve. If ever there is a time for prayer, for the mercy of God, it is required now.
Two days ago a suicide bomber took his explosive-laden car and purposefully drove it into a group of children receiving candy from our troops in Iraq. Eighteen children were killed. Twelve of them were under the age of thirteen. I saw a picture of the four day old baby girl with glass injuries but at least she survived. The week before, the carnage in London. Week after week, suicide bombers are strapping on their gear and seeking to strike civilian populations. If one is trending this situation it is becoming an industry, and this situation is punching me in the gut.
We can talk about root causes such as poverty, lack of opportunity, religion, etc. But in the end, I believe that we inflict harm on our fellow man because of personal choice. We make that choice to harm another. Everything else is merely a secondary consideration. One of my personal heroes is George Washington Carver. I have read his biography. A disadvantaged black man in a racist society, he walked miles through the snow to gain his education. He worked at menial labor, and dwelt in horrible living quarters. But he did not allow his environment to form him as a man, but his right choices did form the man he became. Reaching out to society, he gave tremendous gifts back to us with his scientific research. I gain comfort in remembering men of such great character and worth. And I gain comfort from the musings of Elihu, a friend of the Biblical Job. In his discourse on God, he reminds us of our own condition. Read his thoughts below and then read the Friday blog.
Job 34:10-15, 21-25
So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.
He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.
It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.
Who appointed him over the earth? Who put him in charge of the whole world?
If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.
His eyes are on the ways of men; he sees their every step.
There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide.
God has no need to examine men further, that they should come before him for judgment.
Without inquiry he shatters the mighty, and sets up others in their place.
Because he takes note of their deeds, he overthrows them in the night,
and they are crushed.
Words of Elihu
Thursday, July 14, 2005
When my eldest son was in first grade his teacher called me for one of those dreaded parent-teacher conferences. Looking at me with sad eyes, and an all-knowing look, my child's teacher informed me she believed my son had ADD (attention deficit disorder) and wanted him to be tested. Looking back at her with my own steely gaze, I informed the teacher that I would not allow testing and labeling. My son, had unbridled energy, and was a "Tom Sawyer" kind of boy. I liked him just the way he acted and I would do my best to work with her concerns. Not caving under pressure, I refused to take the path she offered. That son, did fine academically in spite of all her dire predictions.
After years of medicating boys....for being boys, we suddenly have the medical profession telling us what we knew all along. This madness has got to stop! There is a big difference between attention deficit disorder, and a little boy who just has a lot of energy. A difference between ADD and a little boy who is just being a brat. That is when it is time for the parent to rise to the occasion and act like a parent. It is not the time to exercise the demon of childhood with a trip to the psychiatrist.
Leonard Fox, a psychologist and family doctor has written a book titled "Why Gender Matters" (Random House), in which he attacks gender-neutral child-rearing techniques. In his book he tells of how he saw increasing numbers of young boys in his office in the 1990's who were inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, parents seeking pharmaceutical intervention.
In his book, he gives his own diagnosis. The real problem in his estimation, is that little boys are being educated by teachers who do not understand gender differences that determine how boys and girls learn by different methods. He talks on a functional level regarding brain differences for processing information, how the hearing, seeing and listening skills develop. And he does it
in a manner which a non-medical reader may understand. And other researchers are now coming forward with warnings that we have drugged our own kids way too much. We have been duped by others into believing our sons had something wrong with them that could be solved by a pill as opposed to parental involvement and maybe a different learning environment for our child. This doctor supports separate teaching environments for boys and girls. It works for the Catholics! Others, are seeking out alternate means of education outside of the public school forum that has so fueled this drug craze for kids.
My second son had his watershed moment in the third grade. He was sent to the principal's office because he told his female teacher he would kill the lizard they found in the class with a plastic knife. From there he went to the counselor. And from there, I received the nasty note at home. Heck! The oldest one snipped off grasshoppers heads with his pre-school scissors at age three. I would walk out to the yard to help him count how many times they would jump minus their head. This is boys, acting like boys. After third grade and the constant struggles of trying to make a little boy act like a little girl, we decided to homeschool instead. We haven't looked back. It has been a great choice for our son.
I acknowledge that teachers have a difficult job. They do have some children that are unmanageable. But in the public school environment of zero tolerance, desire for conformity and making little boys sit still for hours, be quiet, act like little girls, we have short-changed some of our future little men. Let them be boys. That is how God wired them!
Editor's note: Beyond headless grasshoppers, I have been the recipient of gifts of dead snakes, frogs, water balloons and the occasional bouquet of flowers that little boys bring their mothers.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Darn it! I think I am blogging for fun, with a cup of coffee at the desk. And then I find out that some people actually read what I write and research it.
One reader, with entirely too much time on her hands, let me know she researched the "Three can keep a secret if two are dead" quote in the previous post on Mr. Rove. She graciously informed me that Benjamin Franklin should be credited, not Confucious.
Heck, my family had a whole slew of "Confucious says" quotes when I was growing up. Most of them cannot be repeated. I will reward the blog reader with a saying in her e mail box if she will take a look. But this is just a reminder. Read with a filter. People lie, you know.
Be sure and read the blog by Tom. It is always great to have another perspective on the page.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:50 AM
Blog today by "Tom in Dallas".
In a post-Patriot Act America, where "sneak and peek" black bag jobs against private citizens are now legal, it was inevitable that reporters would be pressured to reveal confidential sources. Once that happened, a revival of the call for a federal shield law to protect reporters was also inevitable.
Reporters have been going to jail in this country since John Peter Zenger ran afoul of the British in New York in 1735. Ms. Miller is the latest in that distinguished group. It is a tremendous imposition on her and her family, but it would be worse for us if reporters were unwilling to do what is right and to accept the consequences of their decisions. Time, Inc. and the Newhouse Group of newspapers are unable to grasp that simple fact.
As a third generation newsman who remembers the McCarthy era, I have been hearing arguments for special privilege for reporters for as long as I can remember. But, stripped of their ivory tower perfections, shield laws are bad journalism for a number of reasons.
First, they can only provide a false sense of security. A law is only enforceable if it is specific. If specific, it is going to leave a lot uncovered.
Secondly, once the press accepts doing business at the sufferance, it will find itself limited and constrained as to what one can look into for fear of losing its privilege. In other words, what the government gives, the government can take away.
And, finally, a shield law would invite abuse. There are enough dishonest reporters who are prepared to make up quotes and even sources to keep the paycheck coming in. A shield law would encourage them. It would not do much for honest reporters because the Supreme Court has already laid out the terms and conditions of any privilege that might be created.
It goes back to the 1972 Branzburg vs. Hayes decision in which the Supreme Court held that reporters cannot conceal evidence of a crime the reporter had witnessed.
That is why Judge Thomas F. Hogan and federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, were able to put Judith Miller of the New York Times in jail.
Fitzgerald's decision to go after Miller and Matt Cooper of Time Magazine while letting Robert Novak, the man who originally blew Valerie Plame's CIA cover, skate, has raised more than a few media eyebrows. However, Novak has testified before the Grand Jury three times. What he told them is shrouded in secrecy, but his July 14, 2003 column cited to senior Bush administration sources. It is possible that Novak named them.
Let's assume that despite his questionable pedigree (he was an Ashcrcoft appointee) Fitzgerald is not exercising a vendetta against the liberal press. He could be going after Cooper and Miller to prove intent rather than an inadvertent slip of the lip. Or, he could be pursuing a perjury conviction against someone at the White House. He has questioned President Bush and he has also questiond Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.
Editors Note: I had asked Tom to provide the Monday post. It came into my e mail shortly after I posted my own Sunday comment on Karl Rove. I guess great minds run in the same channels. Except in the case of Tom and I, we are usually fishing from opposite sides of the political lake. But as is well established, this blog remains a free speech zone. So post a comment at will! Let it rip!
Sunday, July 10, 2005
If the story breaking is true, it would seem that Karl Rove has loose lips, did not employ his mouth zipper and is now about to face the music.
I hate secrets. Mainly because if someone entrusts a secret to me, I keep it. Secrets give me headaches. It is so much more fun to kiss and tell on some things.
But for those of you who love to divulge things which are best left covered, remember my favorite saying:
Confucious says, "Three can keep a secret, if two are dead." Yep. The second you blab, it is no longer a secret.
Just a reminder readers. Confidences are not to be betrayed. Trusts are to be kept. Let's see how Mr. Rove dances in the spotlight on this one.
Friday, July 08, 2005
From everything read thus far, it looks like Allah's Executioners have struck again, this time in the city of London. With hundreds injured and over three dozen dead, the good times are definitely rolling for the creators of this chaos.
Naturally, being the dull-witted creatures of the West, we will look inward instead of outward, for the fingerpointing in this latest disaster. Like the senseless man that somehow imagines a woman deserves that violent rape, there will be the usual senseless imaginations that somehow "we" deserved "this".
Lemme see.... a mother who kissed her children goodbye and headed to work to make ends meet "deserved this". That person sitting on the bus on the way to care for the elderly parent "deserved this". The child seated on the aircraft that plowed into the field on 9/11 "deserved this". And somehow in the warped universe of "only bad things happen to bad people" we forget that evil is out there. And that evil, comes in the name of religious bigots who hate everyone and everything that gets in the way of their self-righteous little schemes to conquer the world.
Wring your hands and wonder what Londoners did to deserve this. Was it because Tony Blair is a spineless subservient eunuch to the masterful Bush? Or is this about so much more? Think about it. This is about terrorism. The players on the stage are brutal and their audience is you. Try not to sit on the front row. And remember..... keep your eye on the exit.
I have just finished reading five separate press releases regarding the London terror attack. These statements released by various well-know Islamic organizations. The Islamic Canadian Congress has a quote worth remembering:
"..... irrespective of who claims responsibility for the bombings the CIC hopes and prays that the Canadian Muslims will not pay a price for being guilty by association."
All who have read my blog from the beginning know where I stand on this issue. I have frequently blogged on issues of Islam, the geopolitical climate, it's women, customs, literature and terrorism.
But for the uninformed:
I support legitimate chain of command and legal authority to deal with the issue of terrorism.
I do not support those that would engage in a religious vendetta by the invocation of any Name.
I do not support anarchy and lawlessness that would punish the innocent with the guilty. That is what we saw in London yesterday.
I consider what happened in London a targeted and planned act of terrorism against a civilian population.
I do believe that there are Muslim activists and terrorists who see their mission as divine in nature. They quote the Qur'an and Sunnah as legal jurisdiction for their crimes. Therein, lies the problem.
Those that execute in the name of Allah, as opposed to bearing the personal responsibility for their crimes must be stopped. They must be brought to account for the misery they bring.
Read Allah's executioners understanding the backdrop of the dialogue. It is not meant as an incendiary device. It is meant as an indictment to bring justice.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
WSJ, July 6, 2005 had an article on page A15 worth notice: "Drug Makers Scramble to Respond to Ad Curbs". This is good news for America! Spending on prescription drug ads was 4.1 billion last year. Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist (R. Tenn) proposed a moratorium on this issue, requesting that the pharmaceutical corporations reign themselves in and refrain from advertising new drugs to consumers for two years.
As a nurse, I have seen first hand the downside of this trend, especially among our elderly population. Pharmaceutical interventions are the most commonly used means of treating the elderly. In the year 2,000, while those in the elderly zone accounted for 13 percent of our population and they consumed 1/3 of all annual health care costs. Think in terms of an average of five prescriptions per person 75 yrs and older with the number of prescriptive drugs per month at 7-8 for those in nursing homes. That alone, is a large chunk of change! And I have seen some older folks show up at the hospital with those gallon-size ziplock bags stocked with pills. They consume more pills than the food they eat! Some of this, spurred by the ads seen on television and in print media. Our physicians relate the following scenario from day to day.... Elderly patients show up insisting they be put on the latest drug. Sure they have arthritis and co-morbidities. But the ad they have just seen makes taking the newest pill look like a magical cure as opposed to merely a drug that they can probably live without, and do as well.
Canadian health researcher Barbara Mintzes compared the pharmaceutical habits of Americans with Canadians and found that we are twice as likely to ask for the newer and costlier name brand drugs. This study also found that those who asked for a specific drug got it almost 75 percent of the time. One disturbing finding of this study was that when clients asked for specific advertised drugs, they get them, even though fifty percent of the time, the doctor has mixed feelings about prescribing the product. From listening to physicians in my facility, I can confirm this to be true. People come into their offices demanding the latest advertised drug and if they do not receive it, threaten to take their business elsewhere. It is a frustrating process for these physicians to manage the care of clients who pick their own drugs like one would pick a suit at a department store.
Last month USA Today had an article on how the FDA is continuously monitoring pharmaceutical ads for misleading claims. A big case in point is Celebrex. Celebrex maker G.D. Searle improperly promoted Celebrex as being safe and effective in press releases, even prior to FDA approval. Lipitor, Paxil CR and Claritin have also been cited by the FDA for misleading ads. And sometimes these ads can run for several months before they are pulled from the market. By then, the name of the drug is seeded into the public domain. Just think back to the ad for the little "purple pill". How many of you can think of the name? In case you have been in a coma, just go to www.purplepill.com and you can see a purple pill on a purple backdrop with all sorts of good news if you suffer from acid reflux disease. Now I am not saying that this specific drug does not work. I just hold this one up for inspection and reflection concerning our topic.
Remember that when you go to visit the doctor it is for diagnosis, treatment or preventative health issues. Let the physician take the lead in managing your care. Do not let your care be managed by ad executives working for the pharmaceutical companies!
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
It never ceases to amaze me what people will read. (Hey, you read my blog, don't you? smile)
Anyway, here is my short list of books which you may not want to put on your summer reading list.
1. 20 Something, 20 Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman's Guide To Balance and Direction (New World Library, $14.95) by Christine Hassler.
The Dallas Morning News ran an article a couple of days ago in Texas Living, if you care to take a look. I could not make it past the first few paragraphs. Here is a 28 year old woman who went to college, dropped one job to become a fitness instructor, had a boyfriend who dumped her and now wants to help other women put their lives back on track. She has written a nifty little guidebook to motivate you. At age 28 I had a college degree, a career of five years in the same field , a marriage and my first child was a toddler. Why do we take advice from people like this lady? If I want advice, I seek out those older and wiser than myself. I learn, from the one's who have pulled it off, not from those still seeking to untangle the knots.
2. Confessions of a Video Vixen (Amistad, a subsidiary of HarperCollins) by Karrine Steffans. You can read about this book in the Sunday New York Times. Ms. Steffans strikes a pretty pose in her publicity photo and she looks like the kind of woman who would make a good Girl Scout troop leader. Unfortunately, she was just a high-dollar call girl to more than a few hip-hop stars to the tune of $10,000/month retainer fees. In her tell-all book we can find out what these people with way too much money and fame do to relieve the boredom in the bedroom. This has got to be a real yawner.... unless you are fifteen years old.
3. First In: "An insiders account of how the CIA spearheaded the war on terror in Afghanistan" by Gary Schroen. Now I will probably take a hit for this comment, but I think the title should have been "Empty-Handed". Here is a man sent to bring back Osama bin Ladin and he couldn't find him. I am a "mission completion" type of gal. We have not completed the mission. My pick for reading up on Afghanistan is the book "Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid. This is published by Yale University Press. It is absolutely fascinating and in reading through the pages I am beginning to understand some things that have put the nation of Afghanistan into a better historical perspective in my own mind. And the neat thing, this book published pre-9/11. I am always suspicious of books that are churned out right after an event, but that is my own bias.
4. Also on my personal "Do not read" list is "The Writing on the Wall" by Lynne Sharon Schwartz. (Counterpoint) Using 9/11 as the backdrop for the psychological angst of her protaganist is fine and dandy with me. But describing 9/11 as "a huge marigold bursting open in the sky, across the river, flinging petals into the blue" is just a bit much for me. Did anyone else see people jumping out of windows and businessmen and women fleeing down the streets with their screams drowned out by the collapse of the towers? Mail that woman a bong.
5. The Hummingbird's Daughter, by Luis Alberto Urrea (Little, Brown and Company) is also on my list. I just can't buy into reading 499 pp. about "Teresita", risen from the dead and performing miracles across the countryside. I prefer the common miracles of my own life, which are managing to cook dinner after a long day at work and not killing the thirteen year old when he proclaims himself "too tired" to walk the dog.
My readership lets me know what they are currently reading and I appreciate the "heads up". So what are you reading? What do you recommend? And what have you read that was disappointing? Post a comment and let's stir the pot a bit. Remember, this blog is a free speech zone.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:15 AM
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Move over John Donne.... The poetry today is that of Jami, commonly known as the last great classical poet of Persia, who composed works in prose, lyrics and idylls. He was born at a small town in Khorasan, now the modern nation of Afghanistan. He spoke both Arabic and Persian and studied math and philosophy. He was well known in the courts of the Ottoman and Timurid rulers of the day. He modelled himself on Hafez and Nizami. Nizami is credited with the famous story of Leila and Majnun. It is a classic love story, somewhat like the modern "Romeo and Juliet". I just got done reading it. It was quite sad.
The following is the translation of one of Jami's works by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut- "Perfume of the Desert":
Hidden behind the veil of mystery, Beauty is eternally free from the slightest stain of imperfection. From the atoms of the world, He created a multitude of mirrors; into each of them He cast the image of His Face; to the awakened eye, anything that appears beautiful is only a reflection of that Face.
Now that you have seen the reflection, hurry to its Source; in the primordial Light the reflection vanishes completely. Do not linger far from that primal Source; when the reflection fades, you will be lost in darkness. The reflection is as transient as the smile of a rose; if you want permanence, turn towards the Source; if you want fidelity, look to the Mine of faithfulness. Why tear your soul apart over something here one moment and gone the next?
Editors note: The tomb of Nur al-Din Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Jami is in Herat, Afghanistan. His epitaph is very beautiful, and reads:
When your face is hidden from me, like the moon hidden on a dark night,
I shed stars of tears and yet my night remains dark in spite of all those
Hope you enjoyed the poetry. Other great Sufi poets are Yunus Emry and Jelaluddin Rumi, who was an inspiration for the whirling dervishes.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Happy 4th of July!
And the number in the title? According to the Navy Personnel Command, at present there are 8,199 female officers in the Navy. We serve in all ranks and positions, with a few even attaining to Rear Admiral.
The few, the proud...... you get the rest!
Have a safe and happy holiday.
Back on the blog tomorrow with something nice in Persian poetry. Of course it will be with English translation. I am not that smart.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Is there anything better than early morning, a cup of coffee and lightning flashes across the sky? Of course there is, but I live for the moment! But before heading to work I just have to vent a little about Texas Ranger's pitcher Kenny Rogers.
When the news came out Wednesday that he had an unprovoked attack of rage and throttled a couple of cameramen my first thought was that we need to check his testosterone level. The guy may be sneaking around using steroids. But then I came to the more logical conclusion that he is just a mean-tempered and out of control player, just as with some of the other spectacles fans have witnessed in recent months.
He received a twenty game suspension and a $50,000 fine meted out by commissioner Bud Selig. Meanwhile he retains his $410,000 per year salary. But I think what really made me a bit chagrined was how the Rangers organization tip-toed through this minefield with stupid platitudes referencing "the mettle of the man" and the delicate balance between media and players. Hogwash! How about "the measure of the man" instead? Kenny Rogers measured up pretty poorly on Wednesday afternoon.
I think back to that horrible week in August nearly three years ago in my own life and all sympathy for poor Mr. Rogers and his struggles flies right out of the window. In less than one week my older brother received a diagnosis of brain cancer, my husband was laid off from his job and I was on orders for a hot weather field exercise near San Antonio, Texas. Loading my gear onto the bus on a Thursday night my emotions were in a horrible fog. Saturday I was OOD (officer of the day) for this large Fleet Hospital exercise with sailors from a tri-state region, and went from five a.m. that day until Sunday night on return home on two hours of sleep. And that sleep, on a cot in the quarterdeck.
Now between the stress and lack of sleep I really should have punched out the water coolers and broken a finger. Should have throttled a couple of sailors and gotten into a tussling match with camera equipment. But I didn't choose that course. Life is pretty darn tough for all of us at times. Luckily, if we keep our cool, we can usually expect some better times ahead. I have found bad times and good times to be seasonal cycles in my own life. And although these times present an emotional challenge, they can be survived with grace and in my case, a sense of humor.
I have only one request for Mr. Selig. Take that $50,000 fine and give it to a family that has taken a hard hit. Give it to to a widowed father with small children. Give it to a mother with a child needing multiple corrective surgeries for congenital birth defects. But give Mr. Rogers the exit door.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:21 AM
Friday, July 01, 2005
One of the online news outlets I read is PakTribune. It appears Pakistan is reeling from an outbreak of cholera which they are trying to contain. This sudden outbreak has caused 17 deaths in a short span of two days. Of course, cholera runs its course in 2-7 days after a 6-48 hour incubation period, so what that means is that in two days after initial watery stool of about 1 liter, you might already be dead, or in seven days if you are lucky enough, you will be barely alive but on the mend.
And the cause of all this mess in Pakistan? Go turn on your tap and thank God for America. The cause is contaminated sewage mixed in with water for household consumption. According to the local population, numerous complaints have been lodged with the government "but no heed was ever paid to it." So now there is an epidemic spreading at an abnormal level, threatening both scores of children and the elderly who are particularly vulnerable. The toll is supposed to continue rising. The article states that the district has terminated some officials for gross negligence of duties. But in the meantime, resources and manpower may be outstripped by the fury and lethality of this disease process.
Cholera was first isolated in culture by Robert Koch in 1883. It is potentially epidemic. It causes a life-threatening secretory diarrhea stool, accompanied by vomiting. It is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Drink that sewage contaminated water and just hope the Vibrio cholera dies in the acid of your stomach. But if it makes it past the stomach, its nutritional requirements are adequately met by your small bowel. Nestling into its' new home, this critter will colonize quickly and work its little magic on your body. This is a microscopic WMD. It takes out your hemodynamic status, shuts down your kidneys and creates acidosis very quickly.
There have been seven major cholera pandemics. There was a notable outbreak in Peru in 1991 and since that time more than a million cases have been documented in Central and South America. Of great concern in the scientific community is the isolation of V. cholera serogroup 0139 in Bangladesh and India in 1992. It is feared to become the next great pandemic. Don't know the serotype at work in Pakistan, but in my mind, the aforementioned would be suspect.
Remember the people of this region in your prayers, especially the children. Doctors and mobile teams are at work to provide help, but until the water contamination is corrected, cholera will continue to seek out its victims.