Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest Post

Recently I was contacted by an excellent blogger, Barbara O'Brien of Mahablog, to see if I was interested in posting a guest comment. I find that her observations below are very reasonable on this subject and quite in line with mine. It is one of the hardest things for me as an American to see how a large segment of our citizens can fall for the lies promulgated by the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, particularly as it concerns health reform. We have always considered ourselves exceptional. Now I realize this refers to the exceptionally misguided direction that so many of us take.

Health Care Reform: The Morning After

Many politicians and pundits warned us that the health care reform (HCR) legislation that just became law will destroy America. Government bureaucrats will take over health care decisions, we were told. The old and infirm would be hauled away by death panels. Everything about the way we receive our medical care will change, and change drastically, they said.

Medicare recipients have been frightened by stories that their benefits will be cut. Middle-age people are worried they will lose their jobs when the law’s dreaded regulations, or taxes, or maybe regulations with taxes, would destroy their employers’ businesses.

The truth is, very little will change for most people. If you were insured by employee benefits before HCR, you will be insured by exactly the same policy in exactly the same way after HCR. You will have access to the same doctors on the same terms. “Government bureaucrats” will no more be involved in your health care than they were before.

And the same is true of Medicare, which of course is a government program, although many of the people who opposed the HCR bill don’t seem to know that.

Here are the “cataclysmic” changes to health care that are now in effect, or which will go into effect within the next six months for people who are already in group insurance plans:

The law says you can’t lose your insurance coverage because you get sick. Before, in many states, if you were stricken with a severe illness such as mesothelioma cancer that would be expensive to treat, your insurer could use just about any excuse to cancel your coverage. That is over.

HCR has ended lifetime limits on coverage. As long as you are receiving medical care, your insurer pays the bills.

Your children can be covered on your existing policy until they are 26 years old.

In six months, insurers cannot refuse to insure people under the age of 19 because of “pre-existing conditions.” This provision will go into effect for everyone in 2014.

And if you are on Medicare, you will be asked to struggle with the following:

You get a free annual checkup.

The co-pays and deductibles on many preventive care services are eliminated.

If you are in the Medicare D “doughnut hole,” you will get a $250 rebate check in a few weeks. The hole itself will be closed gradually and will be gone by 2020.

But what about all those terrible regulations and taxes that are about to drive businesses out of business? Um, there really isn’t much to report. Oh, wait, here’s one — a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps will go into effect July 1. That’s about it.

However, beginning this year a tax credit will be available for some small businesses to help provide insurance coverage for employees.

Soon the politicians and pundits will start trying to frighten you about the provisions that will go into effect after this year. I assure you they are about as scary as the provisions that go into effect this year, but I will discuss them in a follow-up post.

— Barbara O’Brien

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging (on Sunday)

A dearth of crabs this week due to unforeseen circumstances. However....

This drawing is interesting because when asked what was the brown coloring around the flowers, the artist replied "its the air." I know we've got pollution but I think she was referring to the pollen that has invested our area this past month.

Around here if you ain't crabby, you ain't nuthin:

Monday, April 12, 2010


An astute reader has suggested that two drawings by local crab artists are very reminiscent of Stone-Henge.

Here are the two drawings:

The reader is quite right. There is a remarkable resemblance at least in terms of a circle of plinths. In addition to Stone-Henge, this circle can be found in other architectural structures in cluding the Great Stupa of Sanchi.

One question becomes whether the Neolithic builders of Stone-Henge could have visualized being above the structure, thus visualizing the circle. I think we must assume that they did given the existence of the Peruvian geoglyphs, "The Monkey" being the most famous.

These drawing are of truly giant scale with the largest being 600 meters across (two football fields). One of the theories for their purpose is that they were drawn by the Nazca for their gods who were in the sky. The conclusion here is that they could picture themselves as if they were the gods looking down. This is actually quite an accomplishment since I doubt our closest animal relatives have this ability.

Back to Stone-Henge. What should we make of this desire to make an interrupted circle? 

The thinker who came to mind was Carl Jung. As you will recall this was a psychologist who was a student with Freud but then eventually developed his own school. (Carl Jung appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band album cover in the top row between Poe and W.C. Fields.)

While it has been years since I have read Jung (and not much then) I seem to remember his study of archetypes and how it was felt that they were buried in the unconscious. From here:
In Jung's psychology an archetype is an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious.
This is an absolutely delicious tidbit of information. It proposes for evolutionary psychology a mode of inheritance that would be Lamarckian in biological evolution. However, for whatever reason, I do think that humans have conceptual archetypes that help us in our understanding of the world. And, I suspect, one of them is a circle (safety, defense, etc.) Why the plinths should appear in the circle I don't know. Kids do tend to draw circles when they scribble.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging (late)

A little late with the crabs, got called to a delivery:

No, you are right, this is not a crab. It is, TA DA: A Ferris Wheel!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Coarse Politics

Many people have noted the coarsening of political discourse in the last year. Many attribute this to the raucous debate on the recently passed health care reform legislation. Certainly there was a large amount of vitriol splashed about in, around and outside of Congressional chambers. Many news organizations would like to say that both Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for this state of affairs. Almost certainly not! But we should leave that to history books to decide (if long, tall Texans don't rewrite them).

What should really concern us is the great possibility that this inflammatory language, has been taken by a small group of Americans, as permission to convert the threatened consequences into action. I find it frightening that in our midst there is a cohort of people who so hate the current workings of the U.S. Government that they would basically plot an armed insurrection. The most concerning actions, however, were the spitting and racial epithets against Congressmen.

If these were people that had a well thought out agenda, perhaps it might be possible to come to some compromise. But, it seems to me, that their anger and hate really have no object. I think that lends some support to the argument that a part of the underlying motivation, particularly against President Obama, is racial. On the other hand there are a number of other pressures that are forcing susceptible individuals in this direction, not the least of which is not having anything to do with their time, i.e. out of work. In a way it is a perfect storm for craziness.

Actually, as usual, there is some pertinent history here. I refer to the Know Nothing Party:
The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to U.S. values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election. (emphasis added)
What, exactly, should be a course of action for someone like myself who sits in a fairly liberal (or, to use the current non-L word, progressive) seat? I am certainly not up for arming myself or fortifying my residence, though I live in a semi rural area that is inundated by guns, ostensibly for hunting.

I suppose that writing (letters to the editor) or other such pursuits might be useful, but probably not. A mark of the current tea bagger is exactly like that of the Party mentioned above, when confronted, they simple say "I know nothing." Oh, one more tidbit from the Wikipedia article:
The party gained wide popularity. According to historian David Harry Bennett, "nativism became a new American rage: Know-Nothing candy, Know-nothing tea, and Know-Nothing toothpicks were manufactured..." Stagecoaches were dubbed "The Know-Nothing, And in Trescott, Maine, a shipowner dubbed a 700-ton freighter, "Know-Nothing." (emphasis added)

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging

I am not sure what the yellow figures signify. I forgot to ask. These guys are smiling because Crab season just opened. How little they know!

Water, Cool Clear Water

This just amazes me since it is pretty clear (no pun intended) that this bottled water frequently comes out of the tap.

Furthermore, the BOTTLE is destined for the Pacific Vortex. (very cool short movie).

Finally, where's the Calcium?