Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why US health care is a mess and why it will only get worse.

*coming soon* *coming soon* *coming soon* *coming soon* *coming soon*
I will be discussing Medicare, Press-Ganey and EMTALA and also may try to make some sense out of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Ouroboros.

This is a great article that I stumbled across with the help of Google as I was mentally picturing Socialism as being the economic equivalent of an Ouroboros.   I hate to be posting an article that disputes, Dr. Stiglitz, an economics professor from my beloved Columbia University before I even set foot into a classroom there, but I have my convictions, I knew it was a very liberal leaning school when I applied and should I ever be denied the freedom to maintain my convictions, I will quietly walk away from its campus.   Now, the article:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/04/inequality_and_politics?page=1

and in the spirit of fairness, I will include the link to Dr. Stiglitz's article to which the above link refers.
http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105?currentPage=all

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Umbrella Murder

As a nod to SooBrett, a lady who tastefully titled her blog umbrellamurder, no "the", I feel it most appropriate to link to her blog which is dedicated exclusively to the Georgi Markov assassination.  It even questions whether or not the murder was actually carried out with an umbrella, but let's not allow facts to screw up a perfectly fascinating story.  Here is the link:
http://umbrellamurder.blogspot.com/

I would also like to paste this article which summarizes the incident.  Forget James Bond, this is the real deal:

Thirty-two years ago this week, on September 7, 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian émigré, who lived and worked in London, was assaulted in broad daylight on London’s Waterloo Bridge. His life and death give evidence of just how far a regime will go to silence its opposition. Time magazine in February 2010, ranked the murder of Georgi Markov at number 5 of the “top 10 assassination plots”, just below the murder of Leon Trotsky in 1940 and the attempt on Adolph Hitler in World War Two.
Who was Georgi Markov?
Georgi Markov had been a prolific and successful literary figure in Bulgaria before defecting to the West in 1969. He settled in England and became a broadcast journalist for Radio Free Europe, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), and the German international broadcast service Deutsche Welle.
Markov had a large listening audience in Bulgaria, who listened to his prime time Sunday-night broadcasts over Radio Free Europe. He dared to tell his audience that Bulgarian President and Communist Party chief Todor Zhivkov wore no clothes.
The Assassination Plot
In June 1977, Communist Party Chairman Zhivkov chaired a Politburo meeting, and stated he wanted the activities of Markov stopped. The Interior Minister reacted and requested KGB assistance in the killing of Markov. Though he wanted Markov killed, he wanted no trace to Bulgaria. The Chairman of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, agreed to the assassination, as long as there would be no trace back to the Soviets. Thus, the Bulgarians and Soviets were operating under a double case of “plausible denial. “
Former KGB general Oleg Kalugin has publicly admitted his role and the role of the KGB in supplying the Bulgarian intelligence service with both the weapon and the poison. Purportedly, the highly secret KGB laboratory known as the "Chamber" developed both the weapon, concealed in a US-manufactured umbrella, and biotoxin ricin impregnated in a wax-coated pellet the size of a pinhead.
Markov received various warnings and anonymous threats to stop broadcasting his inside knowledge of Zhivkov and the obsequious circles of Bulgarian intellectuals and government officials. Until his death, Markov persisted and peeled away the artichoke leaves of lies and corruption in Bulgaria.
Three Murder Attempts
A grotesque black comedy followed with three attempts to kill Markov in 1978. The first attempt was in Munich in the spring, when Markov visited friends and colleagues at Radio Free Europe. An agent failed in an attempt to put a toxin in Markov's drink at a dinner party held in his honor. The second failed attempt was on the Italian island Sardinia while Markov enjoyed a summer vacation with his wife Annabel and daughter Sasha. The final and successful attempt was in London on President Zhivkov‘s birthday September 7, 1978.
On that day, Markov worked a double shift at the BBC. After finishing the early morning shift, reportedly he went home for rest and lunch. Afterwards, he drove to a parking lot on the south side of Waterloo Bridge to take a bus to his office at the BBC. As he neared the waiting bus queue, he experienced a sudden stinging pain in the back of his right thigh. He turned and saw a man bending to pick up a dropped umbrella. The man, facing away from Markov, apologized in a foreign accent, hailed a taxi, and departed. He has never been identified.
Though in pain, Markov continued on his way to the BBC building. He then noticed a small blood spot on his pants, told colleagues what happened, and showed one friend a pimple-like red swelling on his thigh. Afterwards at home, Markov developed a high fever. His wife called a colleague at BBC, who took Markov to St. James hospital, where he was treated for an undetermined form of blood poisoning. He did not respond to doctors’ efforts, went into shock, and after days of delirium, pain and suffering, Georgi Markov died in London at age 49 on September 11, 1978.
British authorities later ruled that Markov had been “unlawfully killed” and died of "septicemia, a form of blood poisoning caused by bacterial toxins, possibly a result of kidney failure."
Post-murder Information
Investigative reporter in Bulgaria Hristo Hristov has published two books in English, based on his years of research into Bulgarian intelligence files, which include a copy of the passport and photographs of an Italian art dealer and small time-criminal, code name “Piccadilly”, seemingly used by Bulgarian intelligence service in the murder.
A copy of an umbrella that was adapted into a “pistol” and believed by many to have been used to deliver the ricin that killed Markov, is on display at the International Spy museum in Washington D.C. Former KGB General Oleg Kalugin, however, stated to a Bulgarian newspaper interview in 1998: “The umbrella was only a cover. Georgi Markov was killed with a small special instrument. A weapon like a pen manufactured in the Soviet laboratories.”
The minute pellet that contained the poison is on display today in the Crime Museum at New Scotland Yard in London. It has been estimated that one ounce of ricin could kill as many as 90,000 persons. British scientists later estimated that only about 450 micrograms were used to kill Markov
One Bulgarian general committed suicide rather than face trial for destroying thousands of pages of information about Georgi Markov. Another general was found guilty, spent a few months in jail, and reportedly now lives quietly in a villa in Bulgaria.
The case has been investigated by generations of Scotland Yard policemen and remains open in England. In Bulgaria, the case should have been closed in 2008, due to thirty-year statute of limitations, but authorities decided to keep it open another five years.
In 2006, WNET of the television public broadcast service (PBS) network in New York aired a program on Georgi Markov’s death called Secrets of the Dead: Case File Umbrella Assassin. The producers have made their findings available on the Internet, including a re-enactment of the murder, photograph of the pellet, video clips, and an interactive “Teacher’s Toolbox” for educators and students to “examine the evidence.” Also included in the program was an interview with Dr. Christopher Green, who had assisted in the forensic investigation in 1978. Dr. Green said:
We had pretty much all of the story from a forensic point of view. We had the body, the thing in the body that he was hit with -- the pellet -- and the stuff from the pellet. We knew that the material used to kill him, ricin, had been under development by a foreign service linked to the incident. We also knew that he had been a target of assassination attempts in the past. The story of him being a target was very well known. Therefore, we had information on the means, motive, and the opportunity.
And yet, with all the public information and years of official investigation, no one has been charged with the crime. The dots have not been completely connected. The final piece of the puzzle to complete the picture remains to be found. Georgi Markov’s death proved how far a totalitarian regime would go to protect itself from the truth. The murder of Georgi Markov seems destined to be another footnote in the history of the Cold War. Georgi Markov deserves a better fate.
Georgi Markov was buried in the Saint Candida and Holy Cross Churchyard cemetery in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset, England. The epitaph on his gravestone reads in Bulgarian on one side and English on the other side:

In Memory of Georgi Ivanov Markov
Novelist & Playwright
Most dearly beloved
By his wife Annabel
His Daughter Sasha
His Family & his Friends
Born Sofia 1. 3. 39
Died London 11 .9. 78
In the Cause of Freedom

Here is the link in keeping with the spirit of citation and fair use: http://www.historytimes.com/fresh-perspectives-in-history/20th-century-history/cold-war/358-the-murder-of-georgi-markov-the-mystery-remains

Sunday, May 1, 2011

R.I.P. Poly Styrene

Here is a little tribute to a very unique artist that spoke to me with such a beautifully overt misfit individuality and keen insight.  Poly Styrene and Xray Spex were not an easily acquired taste for many others, but for me they were as natural as a breath of spring morning air and equally refreshing.  In honor of this song, please go forth and refuse to fit into someone's neat little stereotype.  Delight in not fitting in and don't ever let anyone tell you to shut up or smile pretty if you don't feel like it.  Have a brain and don't be anybody's tool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AS4bBEMT44&feature=related

Also, if someone smarter than me can tell me how to imbed this video instead of having to settle for a link, please do.  Thank you in advance.

Human Nature and Socialism

http://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/is_socialism_against_human.php

Okay, this article asks if Socialism is against human nature, and in contrast to what a left leaning person would expect, I say no.  Rather, I believe that its fatal flaw lies in human nature and its naive denial of its existence.  This means that it isn't so much contradictory to it as much as it buries its head in the sand upon its mention.  It's the lax nature of having a social safety net that makes Socialism an uncompetitive economic structure in a naturally competitive world.  None of this is rocket science.  In fact, it should be considered self evident, but leftists often feel the need to outthink the room; too much thinking and not enough knowing, I suspect. 

How often do we hear it said "It's only human nature?" And mostly about an anti-social piece of behaviour, as if it couldn't be avoided? Curiously, it is not often said about the best things that people can do. On hearing that someone has risked their life to save another, for some reason we are not inclined to say "Yes, it's human nature."

This is completely untrue.  Empathy and even the urge to risk your own safety for the sake of a loved one is very much in line with human nature.  They are mistaking forced charity in the name of the common good for a heroic act such as taking a bullet for your child.  They are also discounting the often powerful urge to help others voluntarily.  It is very important not to mistake a dire life or death instant with the life situation of a reasonably capable human being who should be expected to be able to take care of his or herself.  The latter has nothing to do with risking your life for saving another and they are attempting to make a very flimsy connection between the two.

Mostly, the idea of "human nature " is a reflection of a divisive society that is incapable of creating a decent life for all its members. This failure is then rationalised as a pessimistic view that all people (mainly other people) are inherently selfish, greedy, and lazy. This view has been used as an objection to socialism, in which all the bad examples of human behaviour under capitalism are called upon to say that a society based on equality and voluntary co-operation is impossible.

The sad truth is that there is a percentage of society that is selfish, greedy and most importantly in this case, lazy.  The left must ignore this fact in order for their beliefs to hold even a drop of water.  Who in their right mind is naive enough to believe that there is not a sizable percentage of the population that is either lazy or at least willing to "just get by"?  In an increasingly entitled society, I am willing to wager this is a majority even.  Capitalism uses human nature's penchant for greed to drive it; you can think of pure Capitalism as using human nature as the proverbial carrot that draws the cart.  If that doesn't work, you can at least bank on a person's fear of failure to ensure that they are pulling their fair share.  Socialism, however, is a system that look quite good on paper, but to their cart, human nature serves as a brutal stretch of potholes. 
Many like to point to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden and such with exhorbitant tax rates as Socialist quasi-utopias.  That's all well and good and another dirty secret of human nature is that it has a very keen sense of things that are different.  I suspect that as soon as you add a significant population of Greeks, Jews, Somalis, Asians or Latinos that this delicate utopia would easily crumble.  Why?  Because it is much easier in these very ethnically homogenized societies to feel that everyone is working for the same team.  But differences, even though we don't like to admit it, breed suspicion.  Nobody who is being honest with themself will deny this fact.  This is not to say that our many differences don't enrich our society to the nth degree which they do; it means that under the circumstance of inevitable inequality of wealth distribution, these differences can breed contempt.  Even in the case of perfectly equal distribution, suspicion can still arise simply from warped perceptions.  This is why Socialism will never work in America.  Our differences are our strength under Capitalism.  They will be our undoing under Socialism. 
(I discovered this article a few days after posting this piece and it confirms what I say in this paragraph even beyond what I would have expected http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/938)

This prejudice is also reinforced by arguments which assert that our behaviour and our relationships result from the way we are biologically or genetically programmed. These focus on competition, leadership, possessiveness, aggression, social and sexual inequality and an alleged drive to be territorial but, again, all these are behaviour patterns that reflect capitalism.

C'mon now lefty, we are again being disastrously naive in thinking that there isn't still a little wild animal in our species.  This assertion is that Capitalism puts the human animal on a level with snakes, spiders and sharks when in fact we are, like elephants, dolphins and our fellow primates, also biologically programmed to be sharing, sympathetic, deferential and welcoming.  I think that Capitalism tries to give the human animal a little more credit than the left while also embracing the idea that there is a little human animal in us.
I still hate seeing competition used in such a negative context.  Competition combined with our unique evolutionary advantages has driven humanity to its lofty status in the world.  Furthermore, it is quite hypocritical of the left to cleverly sport Darwin fish with legs on their cars while uttering the word competition with the same expression as if they were smelling sour milk. 

The arrival of capitalism is a relatively recent phenomenon within human history, ninety per cent of which has been spent living as hunter gatherers, in small tribes moving from place to place. This ended with the rise of settled agriculture about ten thousand years ago and a variety of different forms of social organisation have followed across different parts of the world. If our social arrangements were determined by our biology then this diversity of human behaviour, relationships and culture would never have arisen.

Really?  So the left claims that there was never any competition for game, nuts and berries?  Do you think that in the days of hunters and gatherers that the slow, dimwitted or lazy were alotted a certain percentage of the bounty of the smart, fast and motivated?  I really don't think so.  These poor saps died and never bred.  Ugly?  Why does it have to be ugle when we always tout the beauty of mother nature and her balance?  It's simple Darwinism, remember?  Socialism is anti-Darwinism.  Then in the case of agriculture, I suspect that circumstances were very similar except that good farmers thrived and reproduced and the bad ones died.  Or maybe, much to the dismay of Socialist theory, their neighbors may have voluntarily helped them motivated only by human kindness out of their own free will instead of being compelled to do so by a governing body.

The real scientific evidence shows humans are able to adapt to cope with the challenges presented by the natural and social environments within which they have had to live. Evidence from the now completed human genome project supports the view of the adaptability of human beings. Dr Craig Venter, President and chief scientific officer of Celera Geonomics (the private firm that wants to patent genes for profit and thus not someone to be suspected of anti-capitalist or pro-socialist leanings) declared in the official press release issued by the journal Science which published his firms results in its 16 February issue:
"There are many surprises from this first look at our genetic code that have important implications for humanity. Since the June 26, 2000 announcement our understanding of the human genome has changed in the most fundamental ways. The small number of genes—30,000 instead of 140,000—supported the notion that we are not hard-wired . We now know that the notion that one gene leads to one protein and perhaps one disease is false. One gene leads to many different products and those products-proteins- can change dramatically after they are produced. We know that regions of the genome that are not genes may be the key to the complexity we see in humans. We now know the environment acting on these biological steps may be key in makin us what we are. Likewise the remarkably small number of genetic variations that occur in genes again suggest a significant role for environmental influences in developing each of our uniqueness."

So we have been remarkably capable of adapting and coping with challenges presented by natural and social environments for as long as we have been human, yet the basic belief of Socialism lacks the confidence in the individual to do so.  The article wants to argue that we are survivors, yet their economic belief banks on the idea that many of us are quite helpless. 
It looks like the scientific study this article quotes is simply stating that there are a small number of genes that account for the unusually diverse phenotypes within the human race.  So what?  Am I missing a point?  Again they are using a Darwinian concept of variation and adaptability to argue for a system that disallows those very Darwinistic concepts.

While human beings' genetic nature leaves much scope for variation in behaviour, there are certain features that we all share and distinguish us from other species. These include the ability to walk upright, binocular colour vision, hands with opposable thumbs, organs capable of speech, and the ability to think conceptually. These physical features have led to the versatility of the human species as embodied in their labour as well as social behaviour such as the accumulation of shared experience that can be passed down through the generations. The development of tools, from the flint-working technique during the paleolithic period to the computers and space vehicles of today is central to understanding human history.

Absolutely; and if that first humanoid that picked up a rock to open a nut or club a squirrel had instead been too busy helping some other deadbeat monkey wipe his ass, I wouldn't be on this computer writing this rebuttal right now. 

It may have been that this toolmaking tradition played a key part in the development of human consciousness. The tools made by early human kind objectified the existence of the tool makers and in contemplating this they become conscious of their own existence. This reflection of their own lives in their own creations may have led to a heightened self awareness and an ability to think in an expanded timeframe of past, present and future. Language could then develop from basic references to material objects to higher levels of abstract thought which expressed a developing, more complex vision of their world. It was possibly then that humanity created ideas and culture, becoming less instinctive and more decision-making. Through this dynamic interaction between human characteristics and the environment which was essentially the labour process, humankind not only altered their conditions of life, they changed themselves. What this required was not an invariable set of behaviour patterns programmed by genetic coding but adaptability.

This is very true, but not totally true.  Yes, we evolved into self-aware, conscientious beings.  The problem is that we are, once you take the clothes off, aniimals that lust for sex, eat like pigs, and often get angry, argue and fight.  Again, we are not on a par with the snakes and sharks, but we still have more animal in us than we are humble enough to admit.  Again, the article continues to speak of Darwinism to support their decidedly non-Darwinistic beliefs. 

But none of this would have been possible without co-operation. Whilst we may not say that co-operation is programmed through our genes, it is certainly predisposed by our physical make-up. The view that co-operation was essential to the survival and development of human society has recently been supported by the work of the anthropologist Andrew Whiten. He argues that egalitarianism, sharing and lack of domination were the most prominent features in hunter-gatherer societies.

For tens of thousands of years, man has co-operated to a certain extent and done so without any form of mandate to it.  It happened because when left to his own conscience, man is often quite charitable.  When he stops feeling that way is when charitability is forced upon him.  I am quite suspicious that there was not a measure of competition in these early societies.  This paints of picture of rosy, hand-holding communes when in fact I assure you that these early humans were far less sympathetic than famous capitalists such as Andrew Carnegie or Donald Trump when it came to those who could not carry their weight.

By co-operating with others through a division of labour we greatly increase what can be produced for our mutual benefit. Besides these material benefits, co-operation enables us to develop as individuals. Our individuality grows and finds its expression in relation to others and this would be impossible in social isolation. In this process of individual growth we draw not only on personal relationships, we draw on society in general and even on the lives of those who lived in the past.

Of course voluntary co-operation is a very essential part of human advancement.  Only a fool would argue against that.  The problem is that Socialism does not foster co-operation as much as it fosters as extreme a degree of Robin Hoodian theft as possible.  Socialism's brand of co-operation eats itself alive.  It crushes individuality and please remember what I said about individuality in a previous blog.  Socialism crushes it.  Never let a leftist preach individuality.  Never let him or her argue that their system fosters relationships.  It does quite the opposite.  It erodes the family because in their system, a person can lean on the state greatly reducing the necessity of a strong family unit where generations could be counted upon to meet the needs of their more vulnerable members.  This should cross-reference nicely with my blog entry concerning liberal racism since it is a well-established fact that the African-American family is, on a whole, more dysfunctional than other races, particularly white America.  The liberal agenda exploits this as this has become a very reliable voting block for them.. I assure you that if these reliable votes could cast off the yolk of leftist slavery disguised as welfare, they would be as conservative as the lily-whitest of us middle class Caucasians.

Co-operation is sometimes said to be impossible because there is an inherent conflict between self-interest and the interests of others. In fact, the reverse is true. The interests of the individual are best realised when people are working together.

This is so, so true except that the inherent conflict arises when co-operation is forced.  The second charity becomes an obligation, it is no longer co-operation and more importantly, it is no longer noble. 
So in closing, I encourage the left leaning of you to embrace your inner human animal a little and  furthermore, to give it a little more credit.  Enjoy the fierce competition that the world offers, be glad that we aren't in a third world country or some homogenized nanny state in Denmark sucking our thumbs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Songs We Don't Ever Need to Hear Again

I had the radio on in the car today and while flipping through the stations, I caught two or three seconds of  the song "Old Time Rock and Roll".  It made me think that I need to make a list of songs that need to be forever retired.  If I never heard a single note of these songs again, it would be an improvement to my life.  It seems like there is no occasion where these songs don't pop up.  As always, comments and your own additions are appreciated.  I will not entertain any suggestion of "You Shook Me All Night Long".  Everyone in every English speaking country should hear that song at least once a day. 
  • "Old Time Rock and Roll"  -Bob Seger.  This was an above average song at best to the most diehard of Bob Seger fans.  To the rest of us, there is no explaination why we still hear this mediocre piece of crap so often.
  • "We Will Rock You"  -Queen  When you hear the phrase "it's a copycat league", that isn't limited to on the field strategies.  It is also rampant in stadium music.  This song is a powerful, primal force to be reckoned with the first few thousand times you hear it.  Sadly, it has been repeated to the point of impotence.  Also, as good as this song is, its sister song "We Are the Champions" is even better and a little less underplayed.
  • "In the Air Tonight"  -Phil Collins  Seriously, world.  IT'S PHIL COLLINS!!!  This song sucks.  He sucks.  Everything he does sucks and this song is no exception.  His involvement in anything in this world instantly strips it of any artistic credibility whatsoever. 
  • "Bad to the Bone"  -George Thorogood  This song was pretty sweet when I was in middle school.  This song is pretty sweet while accompanied by Al Bundy living a rare moment of glory.  Other than that, this is a very formulaic, boring, blues riffing, snoozer. 
  • "All Star"  -Smashmouth  Again, blame sports and their inability to find original songs. 
  • "I Gotta Feeling"  -Black Eyes Peas  You may be sitting here thinking, "but Mitchell, this song is only a couple years old."  Just give it time, my reader.  Give it time.  You will be hearing this song for decades to come.  I was sick of hearing it by the end of the first verse of the first time I heard it.  It may take you a few more years, but your time will come too.  Think of it as a preemptive strike.
  • "I Love Rock and Roll"  -Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  I loved this song so much throughout my years, but objectively, it's one of their worst.