Monday, October 05, 2015
Honoré Daumier's piece titled “Meeting of thirty-five heads of expression" sums up the gossip mongering quality of man to a "T". From feigned disgust to salacious laughter, the never ending symphony of gossip or the keeping of secrets never ceases to amaze anyone who is part of the human race, particularly when seen through the lens of an artist as skilled as Daumier.
What is it about a secret — by definition, something you don’t know — that makes it so irresistible? It’s a black hole. A blank. Something you can only speculate about. It’s none of your business, so of course you want to know all about it. It is forbidden, so you think its discovery will be enormously entertaining or shocking or both. Preferably both.
The funny thing is, there is a reverse situation: To paraphrase Voltaire — the secret to being a bore is to tell all. Don’t leave out a single detail, no matter how dull or irrelevant! I have fantasies of the CIA’s John Brennan listening in to my gabby old Aunt Kate (who was very thorough when telling all), and being cured — by aversion therapy — of ever wanting to listen in again. This could become a secret weapon in the war for privacy.
In the meantime, we will continue to wonder about our fellow human beings — those who do not tell all. Here are some intriguing comments that should make the process of wondering all the more enjoyable.
Of course I can keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t keep them. (Anthony Haden-Guest)
He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. (Sigmund Freud)
Delicious, is it not?
Honoré Daumier - The painter writ large. :)
BRT has talked about the REAL REASON why we remain in Afghanistan on several occasions, courtesy the excellent in-depth research the Russians did in the 1980s regarding the mineral wealth of this war ravaged country, something writ large in this map showing the end results of said research along with recent studies done by the US. Interesting to say the least.
When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth?
We’ve raised this topic before (see here)—where we noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove.
So we were interested to see a new piece from the Times that emphasizes those riches without stressing the crucial question: Was the original impetus for the invasion really Osama—or Mammon?
It's all about the resources, right? At least it's not for naught as seen by examples of truly stupid reasons for war as seen by this History Channel post of six of the finest conducted by us rubes on planet earth.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Paddy Chayefsky would have a field day with these klowns running for president. Uninformed, crass and above all else, obsequent to Israel and devoted to war mongering, it truly is a sad moment in US politics to have to listen to these buffoons bloviate about everything save that Rand Paul actually makes sense vis a vis foreign policy.
The mainstream media is complicit in the circusization of the Republican debates.
When voters decide they will no longer be mistreated and summon candidates to their own citizen-powered debates, the dynamics behind the campaigns will shift toward the citizenry.
The mass media, with usual exceptions, have allowed themselves to be pulled down to the level of the political circus. If the Republican Party’s early primary campaigns for the presidential nomination had an elephant and a clown car, Ringling Brothers would be in trouble. It is hard for the Republican presidential candidates to resist temptation, defined by hyping an entertainment circus led by the chief circus barker—Donald Trump of gambling casino fame.
Sixteen candidates, after inexplicably excluding Mark Everson, the former IRS commissioner under George W. Bush and the first to announce, are hurling epithets, war-mongering bravados, and assorted boasts against one another. After their so-called debates, the media emphasize the insults of Trump and others against one-another. Reading the coverage and watching the TV clips, once comes away with the impression that snarls, quips, ripostes, and gaffes, now pass for news.
The operative term for news in this country is Nooze with a CAPITAL N for added emphasis to make sure us rubes are getting a "fair & balanced" view of what is actually going on in this country while we get plied with drugs, beer, cars and never ending financial advice on how to live life large in the good ole USA. :)
Monday, September 28, 2015
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Saturday, September 26, 2015
For a long time, yours truly has considered the military to be America's largest welfare state, a notion supported by an excellent article in Aeon titled Welfare's Last Stand.
Over the past four decades in the United States, as the country has slashed its welfare state and employers gutted traditional job benefits, growing numbers of people, especially from the working class, grasped for a new safety net – the military. Everyone recognises that the US armed forces have become a global colossus. But few know that, along with bases and bombs, the US military constructed its own massive welfare state. In the waning decades of the 20th century, with US prosperity in decline, more than 10 million active‑duty personnel and their tens of millions of family members turned to the military for economic and social security.
The military welfare state is hidden in plain sight, its welfare function camouflaged by its war-making auspices. Only the richest Americans could hope to access a more systematic welfare network. Military social welfare features a web of near-universal coverage for soldiers and their families – housing, healthcare, childcare, family counselling, legal assistance, education benefits, and more. The programmes constitute a multi-billion-dollar-per-year safety net, at times accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the Department of Defense budget (DoD). Their real costs spread over several divisions of the defence budget creating a system so vast that the DoD acknowledged it could not accurately reckon its total expense.
Read the history behind the military welfare state, you won't be disappointed.
Friday, September 25, 2015
The competency of NASA never ceases to amaze, particularly regarding New Horizons
and it's rendezvous with Pluto. Astounding to say the least.
and it's rendezvous with Pluto. Astounding to say the least.
The newest high-resolution images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons are both dazzling and mystifying, revealing a multitude of previously unseen topographic and compositional details.
One image, showing an area on Pluto’s best-mapped hemisphere near the line that separates day from night, captures a vast rippling landscape of strange, aligned linear ridges that has astonished New Horizons team members.
“It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,” says William McKinnon, a New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team deputy lead from Washington University in St. Louis. “It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out; maybe it’s some combination of internal tectonic forces and ice sublimation driven by Pluto’s faint sunlight.”
The “snakeskin” image of Pluto’s surface is just one tantalizing piece of data New Horizons sent back in recent days. The spacecraft also captured the highest-resolution color view yet of Pluto – along with detailed spectral maps and other high-resolution images.
The new “extended color” view of Pluto – taken by New Horizons’ wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14 and downlinked to Earth on Sept. 19 – shows the extraordinarily rich color palette of Pluto.
Seen below is the snakeskin image of Planet Pluto. :)
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Charles Hugh Smith's take on economics, as stated before in BRT, is thoughtful, practical and wise, characteristics readily on display when discussing the fubar of healthcare and why it has to become either single payer or competitively transparent with emphasis on cash and carry, notions anathema to the powers at be who foisted this horrible system upon the US beginning around 1965.
For starters ...
1. License all M.D.'s nationally so they don't need to go through the absurd waste of time and money being licensed in multiple states.
2. Make all information on clinics, hospitals, surgeries, etc. public on the Web. Those doctors willing to take on the very ill will have more patients die than those who avoid the risky cases; it will be up to consumers to sort out the track record of the people who they choose to hire to attend to their health. (include patient outcomes & true costs of procedures and hospital per day costs) ed.
Pay cash, take charge of your health and question the validity of insurance and government entitlements are Smith's start points for changing the HC system for the better.
With no insurance or government program to bill vast sums, then every clinic, doctor and hospital in the U.S. would instantly go broke. Someone would pick up the pieces for $1 or whatever the auction price happened to be and start charging people $50 for a visit to the doctor--not a "co-pay" which was accompanied by a bill for $500 or $1,500 or $15,000 to an insurance company or the government, but $50 cash--that would be the total cost. People might decide they did not need to see the doctor every time they got the sniffles. They might ask the doctor if an MRI was really going to help diagnose their problem or if it was gilding the lily.
Last but not least.
Everybody's got an excuse in our current system, and perhaps that's why it is morally and financially bankrupt. The U.S. (and certainly not Santa Monica) was not a Third World nation in 1952; people did not feel their healthcare was deficient or poor. There was simply no money to pursue marginal returns except perhaps for a few millionaires seeking exotic treatments. Fine, it's their money; most died right along with the rest of us and at about the same lifespan.
As for "overall health" of the populace: what with the "diabesity" epidemic out of control due entirely to lifestyle changes, it's hard to say we've gotten 50 times healthier as a result of our healthcare costs rising 50-fold.
When it comes right down to it, the current system is based on this premise: the average American is too dumb to figure out healthcare for themselves and so we need a gigantic structure of "experts" to figure out what should be done and what it should cost. It's not even really "insurance" because everyone gets old, ill and then dies.
HC will change as the current system, like that of enormous college tuition costs and continued expansion of the incredibly wasteful military/industrial/congressional complex, cannot be sustained as the US cannot afford these and other outrageous expenses (Homeland Security anyone?) that are bankrupting the nation as we speak. People are starting to ask why we have such a crappy system and why it costs so much. In time, people will stop asking and demand change and now. The question to ask is, when will it happen. For yours truly, it can't happen soon enough.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Great speech by a president slowly becoming recognized as one of the greats. The only thing Ike missed on his commentary was adding the word Congressional into the mix when describing the engine of never ending war, a warning the Republicans, like Carly Fiorina, just don't seem to understand in any way shape or fashion.
Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him…….What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message…..We could also, to Senator Rubio’s point, give the Egyptians what they’ve asked for……..We could give the Jordanians what they’ve asked for…bombs and materiel. We have not supplied it…We could arm the Kurds.
Read David Stockman's piece, interesting to say the least in terms of facts not mattering one bit when one panders to one's base with the vim and vigor of a Carly.
What a sad day, Yogi Berra died today. What a bummer. Amazing catcher, even more, a kind and amazing man who stayed true to his roots. Yours truly will miss him and his zen comments that always had a bit of the Bronx in them as per this classic.
When you come to a fork in the road, TAKE IT!
Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series — but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms — died on Tuesday. He was 90.
In 1949, early in Berra’s Yankee career, his manager assessed him this way in an interview in The Sporting News: “Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”
It ain't over until it's over. :)
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
Outside of the amazing tech that has changed medical for the better, as seen by this awesome image of Homer, along with good docs and hc practitioners doing the right thing for their patients, the HC environment in the US is predicated on $, something egregiously exemplified by a rather large price increase of a drug called Daraprim.
The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”
It gets better.
Turing’s price increase is not an isolated example. While most of the attention on pharmaceutical prices has been on new drugs for diseases like cancer, hepatitis C and high cholesterol, there is also growing concern about huge price increases on older drugs, some of them generic, that have long been mainstays of treatment.
Although some price increases have been caused by shortages, others have resulted from a business strategy of buying old neglected drugs and turning them into high-priced “specialty drugs.”
Single payer anyone?