Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Nuclear Nickels

I have been making informal wagers with my numerous aquaintances regarding the price of gasoline. My five-cent bet is that it will hit $5 per gallon, somewhere in the good ol' USA, before this Bush term is up.

It seems like I may have to add a side wager concerning The Big One: Bush is, after all, a "war president," and could he be thinking that his historical posture would be even further enhanced (ahem,) if he ordered the use of nuclear weapons?

What else could he do, after running our conventional armed forces into the ground? Well, he might just do what a lot of sick and dysfunctional untreated alcoholics do: Escalate.

"The Bush NPR (Nuclear Posture Review,) calls for the development of new, more "useable" nuclear weapons; for the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states; and for reducing the time required for the United States to resume nuclear weapons testing."

I am glad that people such as those in the Union of Concerned Scientists are looking into this, so that after Bush blows up half the world, I can go around saying "I told you so" and "you owe me a nickel" to those people on the losing end of my wager.

Bush has spent his entire life making things go from bad to worse. From failed businesses to failed governorship to a failing war. He is ill, and he will not recover health without treatment (which in his utter denial I'm sure he feels is completely unnecessary,) so we can expect worse.

We should expect the worst, until he is gone, or in a 12-Step program back in Texas.

Safer now? NO. Not safer now.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Karl Knows Knives

Way to go supporting the troops, Karl Rove. Sheesh. Not only are our troops fighting Iraqi insurgents, now they have to fight White House puppeteers, too.

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and his pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end.

Inspiring words for college Republicans everywhere. No wonder they are beating down the doors of military recruiters all across the land. No. Not really.

We really should try to get these insane people, like Rove and Bush, out of positions of leadership in this country, and bring the sane ones back from Iraq. We obviously need them here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Support Our Next Senator

This Arizona National Guardsman is particularly deserving of our support, as are all those who presently find themselves struggling to survive to get home from the Idiocy in Iraq.

I thank "pandora" over at the bartcop Forum for helping to get this out there. This is the first I've heard about Leonard Clark, unfortunately, but it is never too late.

I want this guy to come home and take Kyl's job. Wouldn't it be nice to have a Senator we could be proud of? It sure would make things easier for McCain to have a person like Leonard Clark in the chambers with him.

Destroy All Mesa Brake Shops, But Be Fair

The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding eminent domain would seem to have put an end to silly notions about private property. My understanding is that the ruling allows municipalities to take private property and render it to other private entities for whatever development, private or public, may be intended. This might be a signal for you to go out and buy as many city council members as you can afford. Others will certainly be doing so.

If the law says they can do it, then so be it. But municipalities must be fair in such dealings.

I am all for the new medical and nursing schools to be developed in downtown Phoenix. We need these, and the chosen area is precisely where these should be placed. It will do good things for the city. Like maybe it will encourage an actual nightlife to come to fruition downtown, as this is less than negligible now.

Once we were driving through downtown near the Arizona Center on a Saturday night and I saw just one person walking around, and I thought "gee, the movies must have just let out." It is truly creepy downtown after business hours. Where do all the people go?

Away. Far away.

Hopefully the campuses will provide impetus for the flowering little arts districts near the site. Imagine that: a city of millions of people that actually has medical schools, active arts districts, and a nightlife!? It could happen here. Oh yes it could.

But it would not be worth it if the city steals value from he current owners of the condemned properties in question. Lets be fair. After all, this is The Great Southwest. Let's act as if we are all that.

Yes, I will be contacting my city councilman to let him know how I feel this should go. These people would surely like to hear from concerned citizens like you, too.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Taxi Driver NOT in Gitmo

A rash of graffiti has spread across the area: "We will be back." One taxi driver, a Shia who loathes the mostly Sunni Arab resistance, shrugged. "Yes. They will."

Because I work 12-hour shifts at the Great Muffin Factory Institute, some days I have little time for blogging. So, there will be many occasions when I am posting items a day or so behind the better bloggers. But when one is waiting for history to again repeat itself, timely blogging is not essential.

So it is with the Iraq version of the Tet Offensive from the Vietnam War days. Taken from The Guardian UK, the above quote is found in the center of a discussion about a recent attack by insurgents, referred to tellingly as "resistance," who perpetrated an act of violence so large and painstakingly planned that it brought the Tet incident to the mind of at least one military person there.

But the Iraq Tet has not yet happened.

Any idiot can see that this war is a laboratory for guerrilla fighters. Unfortunately, even lesser idiots, such as the people who got us into this war in the first place, will continue to deny that the worst is yet to come. History repeats. Our foolish leaders are bound to make it so.

Consider the dreadfulness of this, and note that Bush has refused to develop a timetable for withdrawal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Short Shift Report

He was young and had a congenital heart defect that had required the implantation of an internal defibrillator many years before. But he had never had it checked over the years, about maybe a decade.

There was a reunion of one of the bands he played in, and he went to the nightclub with heavy clown-face make-up on so that people would not immediately recognize him, and for fun. He was playing on stage when his heart tripped out, and he collapsed. At first, people were confused, so a few critical moments passed before those around him realized he lay dying.

Unconscious and not breathing. In the emergency room he was intubated, and the respiratory therapist had difficulty taping the breathing tube in place due to the greasy thick make-up. Eventually they scrubbed enough of it off.

Severe brain damage. He had been down a long time. He recovered the ability to breath on his own, and his family agreed to make his status "do not resuscitate." After extubation, he was transferred to the telemetry unit.

Oddly, we were going through a period of low census, and we were closing the telemetry floor and moving the remaining patients, with some of the monitoring equipment, to another floor. This happened occasionally, and when business picked up a shift or two later, we again moved equipment and patients, reopening the unit. But by briefly closing it, the hospital saved a little money as they did not have to pay for ancillary staff during the closed shifts.

A few hours after I got the patient from intensive care, he died. I was with him, turning him and performing mouth care, when he let out a sigh and expired.

He was the only "patient" left on the unit when the night shift nurses started to come in. We informed them that they were to float to the other unit, but one nurse was to stay with this one patient for awhile (until the funeral home came to pick him up.)

"Mary" (not her real name,) was chosen to stay. We sat down together and she asked me for a report on the patient.

"Two words," I said. She was of course a little puzzled, and said "Huh?"

"He's dead," I said, pausing to let it sink in. Then I gave her the whole story.

She only had to stay there for a little while. A short time later they picked up the patient, and she floated to another unit.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dog Central

Once in a great while somebody does something the right way, even in a place like Phoenix. Though beaten down by politicians and their puppet-masters, the developers, there remain in this vast tile-roofed Beavis-and-Butthead wasteland a few spots that serve to remind us just why this city was built to begin with.

The Murphy Bridle Path is one such place. Here, the sidewalk gives way from concrete to dirt. There is shade. It's comfortable. The bustle of Central Avenue narrows to four lanes as it runs north through an older neighborhood. This passes for "quietude" in this cacaphonic city of endless suburbs. There are even examples, yes really, of decent-looking home architecture along the way.

At any given time of day you will see people there, unlike say, downtown Phoenix on a weeknight when there isn't a ball game. In fact, if ever you come to Phoenix, skip the ball game and take a walk along this stretch of history. I'll see you there. So will my dog.

Smell Something?

As you all probably already know, the "9,000 dead" story is bogus. Here's the link to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which is probably the most sincere effort likely to be found on the web, regarding this issue.

Still, I wish we could see the returning coffins on the television news each night, along with some discussion of the financial cost of the war.

The 9/11 attacks probably cost bin Laden about a million bucks. We've spent maybe a couple hundred billion trying to fight him (if you believe that is the motive for the Iraq war.) The math says we are losing. Money, that is. So, who is gaining money?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What Jack Said in That Movie

"Right wingers and their sycophants despise being confronted with the truth, which is understandable given that it reflects so negatively upon them."

David Podvin has more about this and about how Howard Dean's aggressive posture and language are a good thing, which you and I knew anyways.

I've always liked Dean. When I lived in "upstate" we saw him on the news all the time, because the cable carried Vermont stations, and as their governor I found him to be both fiscally sane and compassionate toward the people of his state.

Actually, he's rather "conservative" about money and this often put him at odds with the more progressive political elements in Vermont. (Dean himself has said this.)

I put conservative in quotes because Bush, inspired by Saint Ronnie, no doubt, has completely changed the meaning of the word. It used to imply fiscal soundness and only now it has come to mean complete and total fiscal derangement. But isn't that an example of the kind of petit truth that right wingers find so difficult to accept these days, the days of Bush?

Well duh.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mukhtaran Bibi

Over at Mercury Rising, Phoenix Woman posts about and links to this shameful story.

What happened to this woman defies all humanity and also defies Islamic law.

It also begs a central question: in societies where inequality at best is the fate of the fairer sex, then how on god's not-so-green earth are we going to establish democracy there? Ain't gonna happen, folks, until Islam undergoes something at least as revolutionary as the Reformation.

The Middle East will run out of oil before that happens.

Blast From the Past

It's back. We've not had much of this since Vietnam, when the term fragging first entered the American vocabulary in a significant way.

I do not see how there will be anything but more incidents such as this, as our poor soldiers remain bogged down in that insufferable Republican war.

Bring them home now. Please.

To those who may have noticed, my apologies for the snarky title. But let's not stop here. There's even more.

Fragging and napalm. History repeats itself.

Next we will be getting stories in the news about famous rock musicians who die choking on their own vomit.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Such Eloquence

Scroll to the June 14th entry, and enjoy, because this is a good little read. I bet I know where he stops for a cold one on Thursdays.


Over in the Eschaton haloscan comments-warp, Boilerman10 passes along a very interesting rumor involving Rush Limbaugh. Note the italics. It's just a rumor. But hey, as we were recently reminded, Watergate was once just a rumor.

It seems that Lumpy may owe some money to a few very unsavory characters, if you know what I'm sayin'. And it's not as if he has no means to satisfy his debt to these folks.

He can't pay them off without the transaction confirming his drug trafficking. The authorities have been paying rather close attention to his spending habits, I suppose, so a payoff would likely be noticed and somehow entered as evidence. Poor boy.

Let us all express sorrow for his tragic situation. It could happen to any of us, right?

No. Not right.

Most of us are too busy earning an honest living to become addicted to illicit narcotics while bloviating about sending all junkies to prison on nationally-syndicated radio.

I am looking forward to the release of the pertinent aspects of Rush's medical records. The health-care privacy laws will ensure that his draft-dodging butt-pimple problems remain removed from open discussion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sixteen Percent and Rising

For those of you who haven't heard, there is a shortage of professional nurses. The number that gets tossed about regarding this, on a national level, is a keen 11%.

It varies regionally. For example, in the ever-sprawling two-dimensional metastatic growth of red-tile-roofed suburban flatland known as The Valley of the Sun, 16% of all positions for registered nurses go empty. That's a lot.

So what do you do about this crisis in health-care nursing staffing, if you are a Republican President? You make it worse, of course. Not all at once, mind you, as these things take time. You have to start an illegal and unpopular war first.

Then you begin to draft not just nurses, but all the medical people you want: doctors, nurses, operating room technicians, medical imaging technicians, and nurse aides, to name a few.

These people don't even have to pass a military physical. You just assume that if they're performing their duties adequately in the civilian world, they will do just fine in combat zones.

Of course, hospitals that presently must compete ferociously to recruit and retain nurses will have to jack up salaries and retention bonuses even more, as the field of qualified nurses shrinks under the pressure of the Republican war draft. This will push up the price of health-care in general, so your insurance premiums will rise, along with the price of anything made by people who happen to be lucky enough to have health-care coverage.

This is a Republican war in Iraq. When the draft comes, it will be a Republican draft, but all of us will suffer for it, especially those who are sick in hospitals already.

So, the next time you end up in the local emergency room waiting for hours on end, thank Preznit George for his hard efforts to make your experience even worse. And if you voted for him, please kick yourself repeatedly. We tried to warn you. We're still trying.

Nods to Thomas at Seeing The Forest for helping to get this out there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Feel the Love Explained

While I was driving to the muffin factory this morning, I caught a few minutes of Arizona's best morning drive-time A.M. radio host and he was chatting with that guy who wrote the very interesting letter-to-the-editor I mentioned yesterday.

Turns out the guy was kidding. But, the newspaper itself had edited his letter. He said his satirical position was much more evident as he had originally written it, but the Arizona Republic omitted some parts. Hence the confusion.

So let me get this straight... I remember when at the bottom of the Letters-to-the-Editor page there was small print that said something like "letters may be edited for length and clarity." Those days are gone. Gone like two Beatles. Apparently, now it is the policy of at least one newspaper that I know of to edit Letters-to-the-Editor for length and confusion.

I suppose it's really all for the best.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Everything Counts

You just never know what information you can trust on the web, but this resonates with a suspicion that I've had for awhile.

We have long known that the Bush administration does not allow the flag-draped military coffins which arrive at Dover in the midst of night to be filmed in any way.

They prohibit this not just because they do not want America to see the coffins. They do this because they do not want us to count the coffins.

Feel the Love

It has become more and more difficult to discern parody from opinion these days. Another world famous Phoenix blogger also coughed up a hairy one when he spotted this today, proving once again that at least two people read the Arizona Republican newspaper letters-to-the-editor section.

In many cases, poor grammer and a complete disdain for logical processes will clue you in to determining that a piece is "opinion," for parodists often write too well by half. So if this LTTE is indeed "opinion," we must altogether congratulate the writer on his respectable sentence structure.

Of course, one could always just call the guy and ask, but I wouldn't, for the obvious reason that his name ends with a vowel.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cheek Turning as Viewed in the Ancient Roman Empire

There's a thread over at Eschaton in which Adventus explains that in Turkish (and by implication, longstanding Middle Eastern,) culture, if someone slaps you with their open right hand, on your left cheek, that to then turn and request that they then slap you, backhanded, on your right cheek, emulates a greeting!

So, as seen in its cultural context, "to turn the other cheek" means to reverse the intent of the aggressor, inviting him to hit you again but in a manner that is seen as a greeting of good friends, in that culture. This is not self-abasement, as the phrase seems to suggest to way too many people.

Jesus was not saying "Please sir, may I have another," as in the "Animal House" fraternity initiation scene.

Not that the rightwing Christian movement in this country would ever consider that. War, homophobia, tax-cuts-for-the-rich, and the dismemberment of the social contract occupy far too much of their present political agenda for them to actually stop to consider the words of their Saviour.

To be a modern American conservative Republican born-again churchgoer today pretty much means that you're really a Roman.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

More Stars Than a Van Gogh

As soon as I ran into the room, I could smell the stale aroma of alcohol and cigarettes emanating from the patient. I was assigned to the defibrillator but one of the emergency department nurses was already on it, so the code leader asked me to just hold the guys' legs down and play gopher as needed.

He just couldn't stay still, which seemed to upset most of the people working on him. I guess it really is a lot easier to run a code on somebody who has passed out. He was wide awake and hollering his fool head off, as they say.

It was only about one o'clock in the afternoon, so I thought he was remarkably drunk for so early in the day. But what did I know?

Speaking of remarkable, I remember the ST changes on his 12-lead EKG. They were as big as the thumb of a grown man. Real crowd-pleasers, those, in leads II, III, and IV. The biggest I'd ever seen, and bigger than anything I've seen since. One of the ICU nurses, a big guy that I really liked, was holding up the copy of the EKG and we were all going "Wow, nice anterior blow-out." Very impressive.

There was nothing subtle about that guy. Nothing he said, or yelled at the top of his lungs, nothing he did, jerking around like a shark out of water, not his smell, and certainly not his ST changes, were in the least way subtle.

The emergency room physician's assistant was particularly displeased with the guys legs, so she threw her body over them to hold them down. I stepped back to get out of her way. Then the guy sat straight up and hurled everything he ate that day, which was Cambell's Chicken Soup with Stars mixed with beer. All over her back. All over himself. Vomit was dripping off of him and onto the floor. Tiny little beer-soaked stars and a few meaty chicken chunks. And a smell that "could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon," as George Carlin once said.

She scooted off him and came back with leather restraints for his legs.

He was doing well enough by then that the doctor said to wheel him into intensive care to start the streptokinase.

The code team, me included, dispersed back to our regular units.

The story was the guy was drinking in a local tavern when he fell off his stool, clutching his chest.

It was a place that I knew about but had never entered, because I do not patronize establishments that serve soup from cans. I recommend that you also avoid such places.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

And Don't You Forget It

It's not about protecting our freedom. It's not about spreading democracy. It's not even really about oil.

It's about ruining lives.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

When to Ask

The patient arrived from the E.R at about 5 p.m. Not a very healthy specimen, really. First heart attack before age 30 years, poorly managed diabetes, hypertension basically ignored, obesity, and still a smoker even after cardiac catheterizations that resulted in the stenting of a couple/few coronary arteries. Nothing much wrong with them aside from that.

We ran into some blood sugar problems, like levels in the 500 range, but basically OK for the couple hours I spent with them before my shift ended.

Later I thought that maybe it would have been cool if the ER nurse who gave me the patient had mentioned that the patient's sugars were just a little high.

Something else just didn't seem right to me, though I couldn't articulate anything specific. I spoke to the attending doc and a couple residents, saying "I don't think this patient will end up staying the whole night here," and they agreed, but there was no reason yet to make a move.

The cardiologist wanted to take the patient to the cath lab that night. Odd, that.

Next thing you know, the oncoming nightshift nurse was getting a crappy blood pressure, like 60 over just about nothing, and the pace picked up a little. Dopamine and another pressor were started, a couple cath lab nurses showed up, and the cardiologist stuck a central line in the patient's groin.

The doctor didn't even gown up. He just tucked his tie into his shirt, and somehow he didn't get a spot of blood on him. Classy, that.

Soon it was 9 p.m. I was tired after 14 hours of work and I wanted to go home. There were about 11 other people in with the patient anyways, and it looked like I was done. They intubated the patient. I phoned the family, but they still hadn't arrived by the time the patient left the floor for the cath lab.

One of the cath lab nurses had borrowed my stethoscope, and I didn't really want to interrupt her at the bedside to get it back. It just wasn't the right time to ask. She put it on the patient's bed as we wheeled them out of the room and into the hallway, so that's when I grabbed it, at 10 p.m.

If I had left before that, my stethoscope would surely have disappeared and I'd never have gotten it back again. And those things go for big bucks these days.

Friday, June 03, 2005


The taxpayers of Phoenix, as a random choice city, have contributed over $598 million dollars to the cost of the Iraq war.

Compare the whole bill for this military excursion to other costs; for instance, noting that such a sum would pay to provide healthcare coverage for about 104,000,000 children.

Well now, that's interesting. We could pay for medical coverage of every child in the United States, and then some. But there are other priorities, it seems.

Tell me again how awful it was during the Clinton administration.