Posts filed under ‘Things that make you go ‘Hmmmm’’

Modern Medicine

We live in a great time and one of the reasons for that is the state of medicine. Not only has it come a long way from the bleeding and leeches of medieval times but in just the last 30 or 40 years great strides have been made.

Why then would anyone, especially someone like me who has benefited greatly from those self-same advances, ever think that could be a bad thing? Well I do, at least in part.

Along with the advances in medicine have come increased costs. Today larger and larger percentages of our incomes are devoted to paying for health care. I don’t propose we go back to the days of the country doctor getting paid in chickens and pigs but there has to come a time and place when we say: Enough!

Now I know that people expect medicine to cure all ills and keep us alive indefinitely, well into our centenary. That is the problem. It is those last few years that cost the most. In fact it is the last few weeks or months of life that take up to half of all our health-care spending.

I started thinking about this as a result of coming across a book. No, it wasn’t a serious policy book. As a matter of fact it was a funny cookbook Steve Graham wrote called Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man you can find it At Amazon.

After reading it and laughing so hard I nearly had a seizure I put it down and did some thinking. They say that one reason something is funny is because it contains a grain of truth. The book gave me the germ of an idea that has grown until I now am starting to explore it seriously.

It’s simple. If you are using medicine to extend your life a day, a week or a month and you know that it won’t do more than that, if it even accomplishes that, and you know at the end of that period you are still going to die then why bother? Unless there is some event that is so important, such as the wedding of a child or some other significant life event then why waste the money?

If someone is independently wealthy then all they are doing is wasting their own money but most of us aren’t that wealthy. The money has to come from somewhere and where will that be? – From our loved ones. Are a few extra days of life so important that we would impoverish those we leave behind?

I don’t think that is very Christian of a person. I don’t mean to suggest we all reach a point where we commit suicide or anything like that but I do think we should turn down medical care that won’t do more than move our date of death a week or two.

Care that helps ease suffering is one thing, there is no honor in enduring pain for no reason. It would be different, for example, if such care would cause a woman to lose a child she desperately wants to deliver alive. That is a case of the exception proving the rule. Other than exceptions like that, chosen by the patient themselves, care that eases suffering of a dying person should never be withheld.

The thought that my selfishness would cause my wife to have a mountain of debts to pay off after my death would be the worst torture because it would be self-inflicted. I could not face the thought I could cause her such pain. I’d rather go quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

I know these aren’t the thoughts you’d normally associate with a humorous cookbook but my train of thought took me on a strange journey. I didn’t set out to dwell on such a gloomy subject but it seems the older I get the more often I wind up thinking such things. I can’t blame Steve Graham for that. Go, buy his book and read it. It’s well worth the cost and you’ll laugh and you might even find a recipe you just have to try out.

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September 1, 2008 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

Oops, pardon my error.

Every one has an opinion when it comes to the content of the newspaper. How can we let so many errors get by us? Don’t we proofread? Why don’t we put corrections on the front page?

Errors are the bane of my existence. People call in and complain when it happens to them. The problem is that we are humans and humans make mistakes. It isn’t going to change until human nature does. It affects us as well.

The post I did just before this one, about my niece, ran in the paper, it came in as a press release in an email. I didn’t even see it until it was printed, the email went to my editor and she just copied it and pasted it into Quark, our publishing software. The problem is that the email had an error; it identified my niece’s husband as Rowann, who is her mother-in-law. The form the public relations guy used to put the information in had her husband, Rodney, listed just above Rowann. When typing the press release he evidently looked at the wrong space.

I got a call the day it ran in the paper. “Hi, this is Leona.” It threw me for a loop. The only Leona I knew was out of the country in Kosovo. I stammered a bit and then I realized it was her. She was using one of those internet phones to call (which, by the way, was very clear. I’ll have to see about getting one.) She told me about the error and if you think it is hard to take when a stranger calls to complain think what it’s like when it’s your niece you’re trying to apologize to.

Well the fact is that newspapers are a business and like all businesses they are in it to make money. That’s not a bad thing, all business people are in it for the money, if not they wouldn’t do it. Not because they are selfish people but you have to make money to continue to stay in business.

In our case we have to pay for the people who create the content of the paper as well as the paper (and ink) itself. Between the newspaper and the shopper (ironically named The Nevada News since there is no news in it) and the printing we do for others we go through a lot of paper. We get a semi load of paper, from Canada, at least once a week. Each roll of paper weighs in at a little more than 1100 pounds, and we get at least 20 or so a week. It ain’t cheap.

It used to be that at least seven pairs of eyes looked at every word printed in the paper. Now, if we’re lucky, there are three. In order to keep costs down and productivity up we make do with fewer people. Part of that is in using more modern methods to produce the paper. Even with computers there were too many inefficiencies. When computers first came in they were used to print out small pages that were cut and pasted onto layouts and a picture was taken. The film was developed and then photo sensitive plates were exposed using the film as a negative. We do a little better now, we print directly to film, but we still have to expose the plates.

There is a newer method but we haven’t switched over to it. We’re a small outfit and the equipment is expensive so we have a way to go before we get to the direct to plate printing. With that you don’t have any intermediate steps and no unnecessary film and the processing that goes with it.

It would be nice to think that would solve the problem but the fact is that costs continue to rise and advertising revenue is flat or on a downward trend. Payroll has to be cut – it’s that simple. So now errors have even better chance of slipping in. We’ll continue to try to minimize them but nobody is perfect.

August 28, 2008 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

Just another day in paradise

Some days are diamonds and some days aren’t. You get used to it and move on or you wallow in teen angst until the day you die still an immature teenager, no matter what your actual age. Its been a string of less than diamond days for me lately, not that I’m wallowing. Things will turn around and some of the incidents of recent days will make for good stories.

Like the 28-year-old girl who drove her car into the side of a building. Yes I said it. She named her daughter after a character in the X-Men movie, she’s a girl – I don’t care what her chronological age is. I was getting ready to leave the office so I could take a picture of some teddy bears a local chiropractor’s office had collected for children who have to go into the hospital when a call came over the scanner about a car stuck in a building.

Uh, people, that’s not stuck. It’s on the sidewalk and the car did touch the building but wasn’t even close to going fast enough to punch out the bricks. On the bright side the accident was on the way to the chiropractor’s office so I still made that OK and I took the pictures which will make them happy when it comes out in the paper.

Then I talked to the sheriff about a teen party that got out of hand. They were drinking liquor – imagine that. Why in my day we sipped lemonade and attended cotillions for entertainment! What made it sad was that – like in so many cases of alcohol mixing with young people there were some fights and even a sexual assault. Things haven’t change that much since I was a teenager, it’s just that now I see the damage that can happen and cringe when I think of some of these kids trying to make it in the big wide world with the foolish idea that life is just one big party.

While talking to the sheriff he said a witness saw someone dump some dogs out in the county and got a license plate number – the case is in front of the prosecutor for action. One thing sure to tick me off is some jerk who can’t take the time to run the dogs to the animal shelter in town but has enough time to run them out to the middle of nowhere and turn them loose to live or die without any compassion.

Saturday I went out to the grand opening of a new biodiesel plant and listened to politicians. I try to avoid listening to politicians every chance I get but unfortunately with my job it comes with the territory. It wasn’t too bad. I actually agreed with some of what was said but a lot of it was just the usual pap I could have done without.

The city is redoing the curbs and gutters along my street and they ripped out the old ones in April. Since then I’ve been living on what is essentially a dirt road right in the middle of town. Dust coats my car every morning and lately there’s been dew and the dust really sticks when that happens. Washing does no good, by the following morning it’s covered in dust again. It looks like we might be getting pavement again soon so I’m cautiously optimistic.

The wheel of life keeps turning so I look forward to a change. I want a diamond of a day soon.

August 27, 2008 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Old school people

I just brought home a Pentium 133 laptop from work that they threw out. I don’t know why but I like to tinker with the things and since it is not working I can’t hurt it. I can actually get it to boot from a diskette but not the hard drive.

I have a Windows 95 CD I can install but it the laptop doesn’t have a cd drive. I have a backpack cd-rom that runs on a parallel port but don’t have the drivers for it. I guess I’ll Google it and see what I find. That made me think about how I used to do things and how we have changed what we do, even while we stay the same.

In the early days of the twentieth century people didn’t have stuff we take for granted, and it is so ingrained we don’t even think about it. Radio, TV, movies, computers; just to name a few. Telephones were around but were so expensive only a few families had them, they were mostly in businesses that needed to communicate with someone outside their area.

By the time I was a kid just about everyone had a phone in the house but some of them were local only, and you had to pay for all calls you made on it or they were on party lines and you had to share the line with the neighbors you knew who the call was for by the rings. It used to be just the geeks and other early adopters but now just about everyone has a cell phone and you can personalize the ring tones so you know who is calling you without looking.

Even as times change and we get used to newer and newer technologies people stay the same. Sure, individuals change over time but personality types don’t. There were geeks when I was a kid, there were geeks when my parents were kids and there were geeks in the stone age.

“Hey Og! Look at this. I took a rock, which we have used for a long time to bash things with and a stick, which we have also used to bash things with and I put them together and they bash things a whole lot better than either one separately.”

Og, being somewhat jealous of the attention his geek friend is now getting from the women of the tribe waits until he is asleep and bashes his head in with a rock.

“Ah, nothing like doing things old school,” Og says.

Did I mention that people haven’t changed that much?

August 21, 2008 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

Obama, patriotism and the great American barbecue

Obama has had a hard time with the perception people have about his patriotism, or lack thereof. Whether it is true or not that he is less patriotic than anyone feels he should be isn’t the subject of the post but his actions concerning his use of the flag do bring up some related questions.
Should people wear the flag on their clothes? Now I’m not talking about law enforcement, emergency medical workers, firefighters or someone in the armed services wearing an arm patch or people wearing flag lapel pins but shirts that have the flag as a part of the pattern of the cloth.
Frankly, I’m not for it. The shirts can become dirty or ripped and pants definitely shouldn’t have a flag printed on them. I just don’t think it shows the proper respect for the flag to wear it like that. It’s one thing if the flag is worn on clothes as part of a uniform and quite another if it is incorporated into and becomes a part of the clothes.
As far as I’m concerned there is no question about having the flag printed on napkins, cups, paper plates and other food containers – it shouldn’t be done. I know that on every Fourth of July there are millions of Americans out there eating baked beans and potato salad off of plates with a flag printed on them but I think it is wrong and the U.S. Flag code specifically says it shouldn’t be done.
I know the code isn’t an actual law but those guilty of violating it are the very people you would think would follow the code whether it was law or not. Aren’t they attempting to show by the use of the flag how they revere it? Doesn’t using the flag in such a manner show disrespect for it?
I remember seeing the story of George M. Cohan with the incomparable James Cagney. In one scene, I believe that it was around the turn of the century (19th to 20th), an actress he is attempting to get to star in one of his plays says she doesn’t go in for gaudy displays of flag-waving, or words to that effect. I agree, flag waving should never be gaudy.
September 10, 2001 I was working at Digital Lighthouse in Fort Scott, Kansas, which was a call center for Sony products. I worked in a big room that held about 200 employees. We all worked at octagonal pods, each of the eight workspaces narrowing toward the center. That day there were exactly four American flags in that room and I had provided all of them. I put one on each side of my workspace and gave the other two to friends of mine, Dave and Will Bishop, father and son, and they put them up at their workspaces.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon flags sprouted up like mushrooms in that room. I heard some people talking about it and saying pretty much the same thing that the actress in Yankee Doodle Dandy said. I heard people on television talking about people who started hanging flags on their houses and how they were hypocrites for not having done so before.
I disagree. People show their patriotism in many ways and sometimes, in the daily grind of life, people don’t show a lot of enthusiasm for anything, even patriotism. It doesn’t mean they aren’t patriotic, it just means that displaying that patriotism outwardly isn’t a priority. An attack like September 11 can change priorities, it doesn’t mean a person is a hypocrite if they decide to start showing a flag afterwards.
A flag is flying from the front of my house as I type these words. It really wouldn’t matter if there weren’t one, my patriotism doesn’t depend on having the symbol of my country attached to my house. What matters is what is in my heart and I’ll let God be the judge of that, and no one else.

August 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm 1 comment

Word trivia

A British academic has come out with an idea sure to be a hit with the poor spellers in his class – he suggested it may be time to accept “variant spellings” as legitimate. Reuters link here That’s shore to gitta lotta folks upset. However, his idea is by no means unique, no less an American figure than Noah Webster proposed something similar more than two hundred years ago.

Webster’s musings on the matter were chronicled in his 1789 “An Essay on the Necessity, Advantages, and Practicality of Reforming the Mode of Spelling and of Rendering the Orthography of Words Correspondent to Pronunciation,” Dissertations on the English Language: With Notes, Historical and Critical, to Which is Added, by Way of Appendix, an Essay on a Reformed Mode of Spelling, with Dr. Franklin’s Arguments on That Subject” The whole shebang here

Webster got some of his reforms through:

gaol – jail
mould – mold
travelled – traveled
honour – honor
centre  – center
humour  – humor
masque  – mask
publick  – public

But not all of them:

women  – wimmen
determine – determin
cloak  – cloke
tongue  – tung
sponge  – spunge
sleigh  – sley
soup  – soop
ache  – ake
OK, English is a strange language. I’ll give you that. But as far as I can see the guy (Ken Smith, a criminology lecturer at Bucks New University) calling for the variant spelling is doing it because he’s too lazy to mark his students papers wrong for their mistakes, not because, like Webster, he wishes to improve the language.

Kudos to Webster but nothing less than a Monty Pythonesque “I fart in your general direction” to Smith.

August 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm 6 comments

Obama overload

A new poll came out today – OK, so about a kazillion polls come out everyday, big whoop – that shows people are saying they are hearing too much about Obama story here. Pew Research did a poll concerning how each candidate’s coverage is viewed and large numbers of both Republicans and Democrats agree – Obama is getting more coverage. Poll summary here Poll detail (pdf download) here.

Fatigue is setting in. It isn’t anything new, people have been saying our political campaigns are too drawn out for decades. The thing that is different now is that with the Internet people can go out and find information on their own and don’t need big news organizations spoon feeding them scraps of information. Fatigue may well lead to the public ignoring big media and concentrating more on the media that links to needed information instead of trying to be the source of information.

Fatigue is also one reason why the vote is depressed some times. By the time election day comes around people just want for it to end. I don’t blame them, I want it to end too. Personally I’d like to see all states hold presidential primaries on the same day in August and limit primary campaigns to January through August and general election campaigns from August to November. That’s nine months. If that isn’t long enough – too bad, so sad. Frankly I don’t want to hear about the next elections before the results from the current election are still being tallied.

August 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

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