God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I don’t agree. and I will not sit down and shut up.

I received the following email from a co-worker.

This is by a daughter of a murdered couple in Raytown who had a Bible and Bookstore on 63rd street. Just one more example:

When I had to testify at the murder trial of my parents a week ago, I was asked to raise my right hand. The bailiff started out "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"

I stood there and waited but she said nothing. She said "Do you?" I was so stunned I blurted out "What happened to "so help me God'?" She came back with "Do you?" I replied yes, but I was perplexed. Then the judge said "you can say that if you want to." I stopped, raised my right hand, and finished with "So help me God!" I told my son and daughter that when it came time for them to testify, they should do the same. It's no wonder we have so many problems in this country. If I'd had my wits about me I'd have told them that taking God out of the courtroom is only going to result in more criminals and murderers like him being in there! I don't know what can be done about it, but it's time we stepped up and did something.

CNBC this morning had a poll on this question. They had the highest number of responses that they have ever had for one of their polls and the percentage was the same as this: 86% to keep the words, 14% against. That is a pretty commanding public response.

I was asked to send this on if I agreed or delete if I didn't. Now it is your turn... It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having "In God We Trust" on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!

If you agree, pass this on, if not simply delete..
I was ready to delete it and forget it but then thought “Isn’t that the equivalent of ‘sitting down and shutting up?’” I decided to have my say.

First, it’s half a hoax. Check out Snopes for the full story. The murder is true but the daughter and the story in the court room are false. Snopes theory is that someone used the story to push their own view of why we need god in the court room.

“Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth the whole truth?”

It’s a simple straightforward question. It’s insulting that people think everyone needs the fear of god to make them tell the truth. I thought that was what having a conscience was all about. Tell the truth because it’s the right thing not because you might burn in hell.

People who lie have a reason to lie. Being made to say “So help me God” isn’t going to stop someone who doesn’t want to go to jail from lying about whatever he or she needs to lie about.

By the way, that 14% means that approximately 1 out of 10 people you meet each day will not agree with the author of the email. Are you willing to tell your friends, family, co-workers, the nice counterperson who gets your coffee and muffin, that their views are meaningless because they don’t agree with you? I’m not. Everyone has a point of view. Sometimes there needs to be compromise on those POVs. This is one of those cases.

Any time I’ve had jury duty, we had the option of saying “So help me God” or not saying it. God in the courtroom will not make a diifference in the number of crimes. It hasn’t yet.

These ‘force god into your life whether you want god there or not’ people need to sit down and shut up until it’s time for them to speak then sit down and shut up so others can speak their piece too. That’s my view. Others of course don’t agree. Too many people believe they have the right and might of god on their side and the folks who don’t agree need to be silenced.

When will people realize that holy wars are the most unholy wars of all?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

This doesn’t suprise me a bit.

More Casino Workers Accused of Ogling Women via Security Cameras
Four more surveillance camera operators at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino have been accused of using the equipment to ogle women, according to a complaint filed Tuesday.

In December, the same casino was fined $80,000 for incidents involving two camera operators who trained their in-ceiling cameras on low-cut blouses and revealing clothing.

The hidden cameras are required by law in New Jersey casinos to deter and prosecute theft, embezzlement, cheating and other crimes.

According to the new complaint filed by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, the four Caesars employees aimed their cameras on “selected parts of the anatomy” of female gamblers and employees over a three-day period in October.

”Obviously, we take this kind of issue very seriously,” said Robert Stewart, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns the casino:

“We will be conducting a through investigation and will be dealing with the matter appropriately.”

In a 2001 case, two women told the state Division of Civil Rights that they were fired by Caesars after complaining about voyeuristic camera work by surveillance department co-workers. Caesars paid $95,000 to settle that complaint.

It's this kind of activity that makes me feel that security cameras watched by people are more or less a waste. I know they can be handy during a busy time but when security gets bored, that's another story.

People like to snoop. They want to see what they want to see. They're being paid to watch what they're told to watch. Then they get bored with work and minds wander and next thing you know, "Hey! Look! Get a load of THAT!"

I wonder how much crime was missed while security oogled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Woo hoo! :-)

Site Meter is showing 1,001 hits! It only took about a year to get to that number. I know at least 10% are probably from me looking to see how many hits I have, but hey, I still like the number.

Thanks to everyone who gave me the other 90%!
Just wondering.

I watched Jeopardy last night. Years ago I had teacher who was on Jeopardy. She came back to class saying that the contestants were told not to correct Alex, ever.

Now I’m wondering, how well would Alex Trebec do if he was a contestant and didn’t have the answers right in front of him?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

". . . I, with some of my comrades who were in the battle of the White plains in the year `76, one day took a ramble on the ground where we were then engaged with the British and took a survey of the place. We saw a number of the graves of those who fell in that battle; some of the bodies had been so slightly buried that the dogs or hogs, or both, had dug them out of the ground. The sculls [sic] and other bones, and hair were scattered about the place. Here were Hessian sculls as thick as a bomb shell; ---poor fellows! they were left unburied in a foreign land; ---they had, perhaps, as near and dear friends to lament their sad destiny as the Americans who lay buried near them. But they should have kept at home, we should then never have gone after them to kill them in their own country. But, the reader will say, they were forced to come and be killed here; forced by their rulers who have absolute power of life and death over their subjects. Well then, reader, bless a kind Providence that has made such a distinction between your condition and theirs. And be careful too that you do not allow yourself ever to be brought to such an abject, servile and debased condition."
This is a passage from the book A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier, part of a review on Amazon. It’s a first hand account of a man who served during the Revolutionary War.

Makes me think of life here and now. Makes me think about our fellow citizens in Afganistan and Iraq.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I have a desk calendar that has little words of inspiration and nice pictures of beaches around the world. I sit at a desk all day and need to see something nice in front of me so I bought the calendar with the pretty pictures..

Today’s inspirational words made me do a double take.

Let yourself be neutered by all that is beautiful in this world.
It actually says “nurtured.”

Boy am I glad of that.

Friday, April 15, 2005

As my Maxine calendar says,
Got your taxes done?
Or are you counting on that free time in prison to finish up?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

This is not your Father’s China. And they better watch out, the “feeble old women” are gonna rip ‘em a new one.

Rural Chinese Riot as Police Try to Halt Pollution Protest

By JIM YARDLEY - Published: April 14, 2005

BEIJING, April 13 - Thousands of people rioted Sunday in a village in southeastern China, overturning police cars and driving away officers who had tried to stop elderly villagers from protesting against pollution from nearby factories, witnesses said Wednesday.

By Wednesday afternoon, the witnesses say, crowds convened in the village, Huaxi, in Zhejiang Province to gawk at a stunning tableau of destroyed police cars and shattered windows. Police officers were reported to be barring reporters from the scene, but local people reached by telephone said villagers controlled the riot area.

"The villagers will not give up if there is no concrete action to move the factories away," said a Mr. Lu, a villager who said he had witnessed part of the confrontation. "The crowd is growing. There are at least 50,000 or 60,000 people." He would not give his full name.

. . .

A reporter for an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, The South China Morning Post, visited the riot scene and described overturned buses and shattered cars, adding that "a police uniform is draped over one car - a trophy." The reporter, whose account was published on Wednesday, was detained by the police after leaving the village and released after her notes were confiscated.

. . .

But the riot described in Huaxi is more a symptom of the widening social unrest in the Chinese countryside that has become a serious concern for top leaders. Last year, tens of thousands of protesters in western Sichuan Province clashed with the police over a dam project. Smaller rural protests are commonplace and often violent.

Huaxi is a few hours' drive south of Hangzhou, the provincial capital of coastal Zhejiang. It is a short distance from the Zhuxi Industrial Function Zone, the local industrial park that villagers say is home to 13 chemical factories.

"The air stinks from the factories," said a villager, Wang Yuehe. She said the local river was filled with pollutants that had contaminated local farmland. "We can't grow our crops. The factories had promised to do a good environmental job, but they have done almost nothing."

Ms. Wang said villagers had pooled their money for two years and sent representatives to file complaints at government petition offices in Zhejiang Province and in Beijing. "But there have been no results so far," she said.

On March 24 a group of elderly people, mostly women, set up roadblocks on the road leading to the factories. On April 2 the government temporarily shut down the factories. But by Sunday local officials had dispatched police officers and workers to break up the protest. Villagers said as many as 3,000 officers had arrived in scores of cars and buses.

The fight apparently erupted after officers had already taken down the tent city. Villagers said thousands of people had hurried to the scene after the police attacked some of the protesters. The mob then surrounded workers and officers, said witnesses and the newspaper account.

Some local officials who had retreated to a nearby school were reported to have been attacked when they tried to leave on foot. "I saw over 10 bodies on the ground, both officials and villagers," Mr. Lu said.

Several villagers said local officials owned shares in various local factories. But according to the article in the official newspaper, local officials "paid great attention" to the environmental problems and had paid compensation for past discharges of pollutants into the river.

The article also said that officials decided to break up the protests on Sunday because they were worried that "the coming of cold air and dramatic temperature drops threatened the health of feeble old women."
The irony here is that these people, including the feeble women, have lived with the land and weather all their lives. They farm for a living. The “feeble women” are probably much stronger physically and emotionally than the “officials” are or ever were.

The sad part, if they can’t grow crops now then the ground is probably too contaminated to be able to use for years.

The officials are learning that if you mess with people's livelyhood then the feeble old women get pissed and do something about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I had a teacher once say that webcams were going to take away privacy completely because people are just putting them everywhere. Sometime that’s a good thing.

Smile! You're on webcam
A man is attacked in Bournemouth. The crime is reported by a teenager sitting in front of a computer in Bombay. Danny Bradbury logs on to an unexpected internet phenomenon

13 April 2005

It's not every day that you get rescued by a group of voyeurs that you've never met. But when Bev Holzrichter found herself badly injured and unable to move, it was webcam watchers who saved her life.

Holzrichter, the owner of KB Hilltop Stables in Charlotte, Iowa, was helping a horse give birth when it kicked her, shattering her right leg. Unable to move, and miles from her nearest neighbour, the badly injured Holzrichter was saved by people who had been watching the birth on the stable webcam. Seeing the accident, several people quickly found the number for the Charlotte rescue services and alerted them. "There were calls from England, Australia and around the world," she says.
. . .

I like webcams. I don’t think I’m being a voyeur. I work in an office. Sometimes it’s nice to click on a webcam in Hawaii and check out the surf or the sunrise. The odds of me going to Ireland are pretty low but I can go see anyway. You can check out a highway that you travel on to see how the traffic or the weather is affecting it. Or see if Mt Saint Helens has erupted again.

Webcams, the easy and inexpensive way to see the world. It's a way to save a life too.
This is just one of those stories that makes me say, “What the hell!?”

Labs race to destroy deadly virus
Health experts have begun to destroy samples of a potentially lethal flu strain sent to laboratories around the world by a US testing organisation.

The samples are of Asian flu, which killed between one and four million people in 1957 but disappeared by 1968.

Testing kits containing the virus were sent to more than 3,700 laboratories in 18 countries from Brazil to Lebanon.

The World Health Organization said the virus could "easily cause an influenza epidemic" if not handled properly.

. . .

No immunity
Because the virus has not been in circulation since 1968, people born after that do not have antibodies against it - and current vaccines do not guard against it.

"If this virus were to infect one person, it would spread very rapidly," Klaus Stohr of the WHO told the BBC.

The College of American Pathologists sent out kits between October 2004 and February of this year.

. . .

Woopsie! Possibly deadly flu sample just disappeared! Poof! Only to reappear and be sent around the world. Yup, these people know what they’re doing.

We’re supposed to trust the college grads, they is ed-ja-ma-cated. I think there needs to be a better test.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Keeping the American people in fear seems to be the order of the day for the government. If they’re not playing games with the Homeland Security color code or making veiled threats at legally appointed judges then they are making sure that the folks who want to use guns can get them as easily as possible.

Congress Fetches for the Gun Lobby

Americans stunned at recent sprees of gun mayhem in churches, schools and courthouses should know that Congress is gearing up for action on this issue. No, lawmakers are not rushing through legislation to cut down on the 29,000 gun deaths a year. Rather, the Senate is preparing to revive a craven proposal to shield irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers from accountability.

The proposal, which failed narrowly last year, is now estimated to have majority support from lawmakers who have been either cowed or bolstered by the gun lobby. It would have stopped such lawsuits as the one that led to a $2.5 million settlement for the families of victims in the Washington sniper shootings. That rifle was traced to a West Coast dealer who claimed that it was one of 238 weapons suddenly missing from inventory. The Senate proposal would shelter such transparently harmful dealers and manufacturers and snuff out more than a dozen other suits now in the courts.

The bill, offered this year by Senator Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, goes further, undermining not just lawsuits but also administrative proceedings to revoke abusive dealers' licenses. Under it, gun dealers couldn't be disciplined for black-market deals involving illegal weapons unless it could be proved that they had engaged in them knowingly - as if general ineptitude or a lack of interest were acceptable. Last year, Congress joined President Bush in letting lapse the 1994 law restricting the availability of battlefield assault rifles. Congress also mandated the destruction of gun-sale records within 24 hours. Lawmakers were only making things easier for potential terrorists and other sociopaths.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Makes me wonder if Georgie knows how the government works or where all the money comes from. Money has always magically appeared for him before so I guess he thinks it can magically disappear if it suits his agenda.

Shameless Photo-Op

EDITORIAL Published: April 7, 2005

Imagine this: On his next trip to Japan, President Bush visits the vault at the Bank of Japan, where that country's $712 billion in United States government bonds is stored. There, as the cameras roll, he announces that the bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, are, in fact, worthless i.o.u.'s. He does the same thing when he visits China and so on around the world, until he has personally repudiated the entire $2 trillion of United States debt held by foreigners.

Mr. Bush rehearsed just that act on Tuesday, when he visited the office of the federal Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va. He posed next to a file cabinet that holds the $1.7 trillion in Treasury securities that make up the Social Security trust fund. He tossed off a comment to the effect that the bonds were not "real assets." Later, in a speech at a nearby university, he said: "There is no trust fund. Just i.o.u.'s that I saw firsthand."

Social Security takes in more money than it needs to pay current beneficiaries, and the excess is invested in the Treasury securities that Mr. Bush was discussing. They carry the same legal and political obligations as all other forms of Treasury debt, every penny of which has always been paid in full and on time.

In his speech, Mr. Bush went on to acknowledge that future generations would have to make good on the debt. But the intended meaning of the photo-op was clear. In the hope of persuading people to privatize Social Security - a move that would only add to the growing debt burden for future generations - Mr. Bush wants Americans to believe that the trust fund is a joke. But if the trust fund is a joke, so is the full faith and credit of the United States.

Fortunately, the governments, institutions and individuals who hold United States debt can tell a publicity stunt from a policy statement. Still, casting aspersions on a basic obligation of the United States government is insulting and irresponsible.
As I understand it, as it says in the article, there was money before there were the IOUs that the President brushed off so easily. Social Security takes in money from people’s pay checks. Some money is used to pay out benefits. The extra is lent out to be paid back with interest. That helps keep Social Security and the Trust Fund solvent.

Does the President think the debt doesn't need to be paid back?

The author is right on target, the President of the United States “casting aspersions on a basic obligation of the United States government is insulting and irresponsible.” And one more instance that he makes himself look unqualified for the job he's in.
Does anyone else see this as sort of wrong?

Oscar's Retreat
After winning her second Oscar, Hilary Swank and her husband, Chad Lowe, began reworking their town house as a refuge from the paparazzi and the demands of a rising career. With a slide show.
That’s the headline from the NY Times email. I just love that the article comes complete with a slide show!

I admit that I didn’t read the article. It could be that they were invited to invade the Swank/Lowe residence. I just seems odd to me that they want their house as a “refuge from the paparazzi and the demands of a rising career” then let people to take pictures and then publish them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wow, the French are complaining about the flag being at half mast for two days for the Pope and the lack of separation of church and state.

The flag is being flown at half mast in the U.S. for 7 days. I thought we were the country that started separation of church and state. I could be wrong. Let me know if you know who started this separation of church and state thing.

Lowered flags spark row in France

PARIS, France (Reuters) -- The French government faced accusations of double standards Tuesday over a decision to fly flags at half-mast in honor of Pope John Paul which critics said violated the state's commitment to secularism.

What began as a debate among a few left-wing and Green party politicians spread into the pages of newspapers Tuesday, with letters pages filled with the issue. Some also aired complaints about wall-to-wall coverage from Vatican City by French television.

France's many Roman Catholics are united in grief over the Pope's death. But the order to fly flags at half-mast for 24 hours was too much for some secular French, especially after most French leaders attended a special mass for the pope.

Critics accuse the government of hypocrisy by paying tribute to a religious leader after banning Muslim headscarves in state schools to try to ensure strict observance of the 100-year-old official separation of church and state.

"For five days there has been a hagiography about the sovereign pontiff without any critical spirit," said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a Socialist senator, renewing an attack on the government which he began on Monday.

"We live at a time when we must be very careful about the strict separation between the church and state, especially after adopting a law banning religious symbols in schools."

. . .

Another Liberation reader, Michel Sparagano, asked: "What does a Muslim French citizen think of his flag flying at half mast because the head of the Catholics is dead?"

France, whose 5-million-strong Muslim community is the largest in Europe, banned "conspicuous religious signs" in state schools last year.

. . .

"I understand very well that one can ask questions. The answer is very simple. It's a constant Republican tradition," Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said, noting that France flew flags at half mast to honor other popes when they died.

. . .
There are people who aren’t Catholics in this country but the put upon Catholics will scream bloody murder if you remind them of it. If you tell them that the Founding Fathers weren’t Catholic they have a fit and call you a liar no matter how much evidence you have.
Of course, evidence is only for people who can believe in what they can see.

Friday, April 01, 2005

This morning a co-worker was asking me why Michael Schiavo didn’t just give up.

My co-worker said, “Why did he keep guardianship? Why didn’t he just let Terri’s parents take guardianship? With all the wackos out there angry about what was going on, why didn’t he just give it up?”

My co-worker went on like this for a bit and it left me time to think even more about a topic that’s been through my head for a week or two now. It finally dawned on me; how would I respond if I was in Michael Schiavo’s place? Would I have the strength to go on against the family and the “wackos out there” if I knew something they didn’t know? How would I feel if I had been told someone’s feelings and wishes, then just stood by quietly not saying or doing anything to make sure a friend or family member got their final wishes fulfilled? How far would I go to keep a promise, even an implied promise? Would I be able to live with myself if I gave up because of wackos' death threats or a vicious senator didn’t like what I knew to be true?

I hate that I’m bringing politics into this post but it’s so hard not to after reading the following article.

Senior Republican Tom DeLay, who leads the House of Representatives, attacked the US courts for allowing Mrs Schiavo to die, calling them "out of control".
. . .

“We promised the Schindler family that we will not let Terri die in vain," Mr DeLay said.

"We will look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president."

During a seven-year legal battle, state and federal judges consistently ruled against the Schindler family's attempts to prolong Terri Schiavo's life.

The US Supreme Court refused to hear their petitions, despite Congress passing emergency legislation and the support of President George W Bush.
. . .

“Arrogant” and “out of control.” This from a man who diagnosed via video tape.

And where the heck did DeLay learn about government and how it works? Hasn’t this twit heard of checks and balances? The only person thumbing their nose here is DeLay and he’s thumbing his nose at the Constitution and every person in this country and at the Founders of the United States!

There seems to be this idea with the Republicans and conservatives that they are trying to bring about a Culture of Life but it looks to me that it’s going to be a Culture of Life in Limbo and a Culture that the Powerful Should Always Get Their Way.

Terri Schaivo is dead now. An annoyed President and a hissy fit from a Senator and the “wackos out there” can’t change this. The people who didn’t know anyone in either family, the “wackos out there” and the vulture media should just go away now and let the Schindler and Schaivo families have some quiet and some closure.
How to make hospitals safer . . . “cookbook medicine.” You have a better chance of coming home alive and healthy from the hospital if the doctor is following a checklist of what to do with you.

I’ve wondered lately about how well doctors learn and how much they retain from their training. This article gives me a clue. Everybody has a story about a fellow student who crams for every test and never seems to know anything. Why should it be much different for doctors?

A path to safer hospitals
Tue Mar 29, 6:27 AM ET

If you became seriously ill, you'd expect a hospital to provide what the medical profession considers essential care.

At many hospitals, you'd be wrong.

Thousands of patients needlessly die each year because guidelines proven to save lives aren't followed.

Even the most basic lifesaving treatments, such as giving aspirin and other drugs known to help heart attack victims, are forgotten, with fatal results. A study last November of 315 hospitals by the Duke Clinical Research Institute found failure to follow widely accepted heart attack guidelines almost doubled the mortality rate. After seeing the data, hospitals that improved their compliance rates had 40% fewer deaths.

Now, a national system to grade how hospitals meet standards is slowly emerging, using Medicare as the primary leverage, but enticing private insurers as well. It has a lot in common with the carrot-and-stick method used to get a mule to do what you want.

Over time, hospitals will get more money if they follow guidelines, and lower fees if they neglect them. To add a further shove in the right direction, Medicare will post report cards on its Web site so the public can make comparisons.

Until recently, there has been little incentive to measure performance. Unlike most businesses, where those who offer better services or products receive the largest financial reward, health care institutions mainly get paid based on volume of services rather than whether patients get better. Under the perverse reimbursement scheme, avoidable complications that require readmission may actually be more lucrative to hospitals than getting it right the first time.

Collecting and sharing information is the first step to improved care. In 1996, only 30% of patients who needed pneumonia vaccines received them at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Once physicians were made aware of that fact, the rate went up to 92%, saving an estimated 6,000 lives. The use of beta blockers, which slow the heart rate and are standard for heart attack patients, went from 70% to 98%.

In a pilot project, Medicare is tracking how 300 hospitals handle five clinical conditions. Hospitals scoring in the top 10% will receive a 2% bonus payment. In the third year of the project, facilities that don't improve will have their payments reduced. Medicare also is starting to track how large-group physician practices meet patients' needs.

There is a risk in this concept: inviting "cookbook medicine," in which individual circumstances are ignored in favor of a cheaper one-size-fits-all approach. For years, that concern has caused many in the health care industry to resist guidelines of any kind. But this effort, at least initially, is focused on such universally accepted practices that it makes resistance look blind and bullheaded.

Tracking quality and rewarding it with better pay can provide the incentive to save not just money, but lives. That's not something anyone should fight.
Why would doctors resist "cookbook medicine?" Maybe because it would imply that our well trained doctors can’t think that well for themselves or maybe retain enough information from their training. Unfortunately, the fact that the study shows a 40% reduction in the number of deaths by following guidelines demonstrates that "cookbook medicine" is very helpful.

It seems to me that "cookbook medicine" would be very helpful especially for women. Women showing up at the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack aren’t treated as aggressivly as men. Medical personnel following a checklist should increase a woman’s chances of getting proper care and surviving.

I hope the "cookbook" is handy when I need medical care.

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