Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wrong Way Go Back

Many of us remember cartoon episodes in which Bugs Bunny "must've taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque on the way to Pismo Beach." He'd tunnel up in Saudi Arabia or some other such unlikely place.

Ed was lost. He had gotten out of his hospital bed to go to the bathroom but he took a wrong turn and instead went to the the door to the hallway. Not finding a toilet there, he pushed a waste basket out from his room and then dropped his pajamas and sat down on the basket to get his job done. Nobody seemed to notice what was going on until he'd stunk up the place pretty good, then we ushered him back to bed and freshened him and the place up a bit.

He had a right subclavian temporary hemodialysis catheter which he usually ignored, but for some reason later that evening it caught his attention and he bit the end off of it. Sandy, the nurse assigned to him, had just walked into the room to check on him when she screamed out for help. It was a real bloody mess and he would have exsanguinated if she had walked in much later.

She held the torn double-lumen cath pinched off while I got a Kelly clamp and the charge nurse Rhoda called the surgeon, who said to "clamp it off and I'll get to it in the morning." Ed was asking where all the blood came from. He didn't realize it was his.

As lost as he was in the present, Ed could speak quite eloquently about things from the past. He was a chef and restauranteur with stories to tell about wierd customers and waitresses who did things like go into labor right in his kitchen. That was the thing about him. He could present very well and hold lengthy lucid conversations about stuff that happened years ago, but he really didn't know where he was in the here-and-now.

Sandy liked the old guy, and the night shift nurses told me that sometimes she'd call the place up in the wee hours of the morning, a little drunk maybe, asking how he was doing.

When he was eventually transferred out to the local nursing home and as he was leaving us, he said hello to everybody, as if we were just then meeting, oblivious to his having been with us for weeks.

Friday, December 29, 2006


The duck is already roasting in the oven, which warms the kitchen nicely on this damp and overcast day, a rarity in The Valley of the Sun But Practically No Solar-Energy-Collecting Rooftop Arrays.

Later I'll toss in the lamb racks with rosemary from the patch outside the gate. Mint sauce for the lamb-pops. Aged Gouda. Lump crab for one of the dips, plus avocado from the Pidgeon Tree. Enough crackers to satisfy many generations of pirate-shouldered parrots and all their feathered relatives.

Granny Smiths sliced and served with peanut butter. Domaine Chandon, the pink stuff with kiwi-strawberry juice, jacked-up Mimosas. Orange-juice traditional varieties also available. Sausage-stuffed mini-croissants. The duck will be stripped and used for spinach-garlic-tortilla quesadillas with Jack and a stingy addition of jalepenos so as not to over-ride the fatty tastiness of Mr. Duck.

Beatles on the Martin-Logans, alternating with Danu, Peter Tosh, Bartoli, and of course Anna Netrebko.

Friends, children, and neighbors.

Happy new year, all.

All food-oriented posts come courtesy of Head Nurse who continues to exult in the Darwinian niche of nurse-and-food-and-other-brilliantly-interesting-stuff blogging. She makes it easier for all the rest of us to slog on.

On edit I would like to welcome Bili Rubin and Creature57 to the blogroll, if they will put up with association with my mad ravings.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect people here even in The Valley of the Sun.

They woke up crying at 4:00 a.m. The spouse slept through it, or at least pretended to do so. That was one of the spoken issues: feeling ignored. Not getting a Christmas gift of the correct pattern and color. The wrong color socks. The wrong Beatles CD. The wrong perfume. The wrong superhero. Windows instead of Mac... Chocolate frosting covered brownies were another clue.

Winslow instead of Santa Fe...

Midori instead of Hillary Hahn...

It probably affects a half a million people in this country. Severely, that is. Jack-Nicholson-rampaging-with-an-ax serious. (The Shining in 30 Seconds.In Bun-O-Vision.)

Another 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from a milder version. Meaning that axes are not the weapon of choice. Santokus, maybe. Symptoms may include:

A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
Weight gain
A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
A drop in energy level
A tendency to oversleep
Difficulty concentrating
Increased sensitivity to social rejection
Avoidance of social situations

Sounds familiar, maybe?

This is serious enough. As a nurse, I know it's really a waste of time to usher a patient through a hospitalization only to have them go home and stick their head in a gas oven. Sometimes a simple request for a psych consult can go a long ways towards the easement of the suffering that can accompany short days.

That's what it's really all about, and it affects people at all latitudes.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

That's the Spirit

Yesterday while people-watching at the Biltmore Fashion Dog Park the younger carrier-of-half-of-my-DNA and I came with with some perhaps distasteful modifications of The Twelve Days of Christmas, keeping to an Arizona theme:

On the twelth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

Twelve displaced hockey players,
Eleven hours of gridlock,
Ten snarling pitbulls,
Nine stolen Camrys,
Eight feet of border fencing,
Seven sunburned Japanese tourists,
Six fish tacos for four dollars,
Five golden tortillas,
Four margueritas,
Three Mexican day laborers,
Two bean burritos
And a pigeon in an avocado tree.

You had to be there.

Placidomonas Freeperiai

The controversial debate, if one can honor it with such terminology as it probably doesn't deserve, over evolution versus creationism is now over. I have discovered incontrovertible evidence of macro-evolution, plainly observable to all. The evolution of an entirely new species arising from the genepool of lesser precedents.

Cool, man.

The Freepers were discussing Placido Domingo being booed at the Met. That in itself is a remarkable stream of events.

So why was Domingo flipped off by the rowdy low-lifes in the back rows? Freeper "Red Badger" in post number 8 explains:

"They found out he voted for George Bush!.........."


Out of the primordial freeper mud we have observed not just transitional forms, but the arrival of a whole new species.

I will continue my examination of this freeper phenomenon. Perhaps I will find a thread in which they discuss their love of the Toyota Prius and 1960's Miles Davis recordings, or other such evidence of evolutionary change, such as consistently correct spelling and grammar.

Accompanied, of course, by threads that blame Clinton for Domingo's lapse. Punctuated equilibrium and all that.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Laptop is Back After Being Sent for Repair

Some recent events:

They came in with rapid atrial fibrillation, a lung mass showed up on a chest X-ray, and a probable small bowel obstruction. And they were rather old. The surgeon didn't want to open them up, but the family insisted.

At the bedside, he said "Look, we see this all the time, don't we?" (And he solicited my concurrence in which I offered an anecdote of the last patient we had who went through this.)

They opted for the surgery instead of going home with Hospice care. After several weeks of suffering a difficult, dangerous, and expensive recovery from surgery, they died in the hospital just as we had warned weeks earlier.

But we gave excellent care for which the family was very grateful. Once a family/patient decision is made we run with it, running like the wind. It's what we do.

All my cynicism stays out in the halls. It never gets into the patient rooms. It stands outside as my ever-vigilant watchdog.


I was grabbing a shopping cart in the Basha's parking lot when an older woman approached me out of the blue and asked if I lived around there. I replied that I did and she then asked "Well, do you know where I can get a good fried-chicken sandwich?"

She went on to say that her husband was in a nearby skilled-nursing facility and that he'd taken a turn for the worse. "He's dying. He says he feels like something inside him has changed."

I mentioned a place down the street that's known for barbecue and such. And I said her husband was lucky to have her, and that like William Carlos Williams red wheel barrow, so much depends on that gesture of a chicken sandwich. Well, actually I didn't really get all poetic like that.

Her eyes welled up a little and she made the sign of the cross as she thanked me many times going to her car.

One more:

We were off the main path that we'd taken up into the South Mountains. That's what I call them since there's more than one, but most people here refer to these as just the plain singular "South Mountain."

Following a shallow and narrow track that had been improvised by mountain bikers, my partner said "They're here. Feel that?" and I replied that I hadn't really been paying attention.

"This place is haunted. We just crossed into it," they said. After a moment of walking I suggested that we were travelling in the wrong direction so we turned west and in a few steps a stunning vast panel of Hohokam petroglyphs, maybe four meters by one high, came into view. Though this was the biggest and most elaborate, there were also others that we saw in that area. Animals, human figures, abstract geometrics...

From a high point I could see that we weren't very far from an established trail which we used to leave after gazing in awe at the centuries-old markings. "We're out now," my significant other said as we went down the path, "It's not haunted anymore."

Actually we did see a few small glyphs right along the trail that we had missed when we came up, in a spot where the trail closely parallels a wash for a bit. One was a human figure holding a vertical staff topped by a circle.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

But He Gets Paid to Not Get It

One can only hope that the Arizona Republic has something other than that which is most obvious when they publish yet another crazy letter-to-the-editor like this one.

"U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has chosen to use the Quran for his inauguration oath rather than the traditional Bible. One must ask: Is he going to support our system of law, or will he be more likely to trust in the Islamic sharia?"

Ellison, of course, is the first Muslim to ever be elected to the House of Representatives. It really doesn't make any sense to require him to swear upon a bible, does it? The letter writer goes on to accuse the Democratic Party (which is referred to as "the Democrats," a word-choice preferred by Republican strategists because its ends with "rats," suggesting displeasing notions that activate deeply-framed negative connotations, but that's a whole other story and one which I also occasionally write about,) of "travesty."

"It is recognized that Ellison is "only" a congressman, but where does it end? Would we as Americans allow a senator, federal judge or a candidate for the Supreme Court to get away with this travesty?

If Ellison is indeed allowed to take his oath in this manner, the Democrat Party should be ashamed of itself." - Dale E. Singleton, Chandler

We've suffered a host of Republicans who have openly declared their allegiance to some sort of permutation of their so-called Christian god above and beyond our Constitution, which was the document they had sworn to uphold. For example, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office for ethics violations because he refused court orders to remove a 10 Commandments display he had snuck into his courthouse in the midst of night.

Attorney general John Ashcroft openly proclaimed his allegience to his religion outside the law.

Ashcroft, speaking after receiving an honorary degree, said, "Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal." As reported by major news outlets at the time.

Well, what Ashcroft said is just completely bass-ackwards. It is very well established that the authors of our Constitution were proud that they had fashioned a uniquely secular document upon which to build their new nation. It was all the other countries in Europe that were monarchies sent from god. Sheesh.

On another tack, politicians from JFK to Joe Lieberman to John Kerry have had doubts cast upon them just because of their religious affiliation, as Ann Coulter so tenderly reminds us:

"In addition to having a number of family deaths among them, the Democrats' other big idea — too nuanced for a bumper sticker — is that many of them have Jewish ancestry. There's Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew — along with the long lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering."

I guess the national discourse, at least the so-called conservative spectrum of it, has progressed little since 1960:

When Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts ran for president in 1960, he faced a barrage of questions from a predominantly Protestant public like: "How do we know you can separate your Catholic beliefs from your political responsibilities?"

Anyways. the whole gist of Dale's LTTE offends me, because it is an affront to this:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Forcing an elected candidate, or anybody else for that matter, to swear on any given scripture flies in the face of religious freedom. Franklin Pierce and Herbert Hoover, among many others like Dennis Hastert (who just put his hand on the podium) chose not to "swear" oaths at all. They "affirmed" their oaths or just did something else. I'm sure the censorious loudmouth Dennis Prager has much to say about how those people undermined the moral fabric of The United States by doing so. Dennis, Sean, and probably a whole gaggle of others have somehow even managed to drag Hitler into the discourse. What? You mean this isn't Bill Clinton's fault?!

Prager actually agrees that people should be forced to swear oaths on a book they don't believe in. But then again, he's totally, eery-music enhanced, way-down-the-road-past-Jack-Nicholson's-house nutso. Of the ballistic variety, not just your ordinary garden-variety freak.

Colorado Republican representative Tom Tancredo says he doesn't care. Does that mean the Republicans are in disarray?!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Silence and Democracy

"These are not natural silences, that necessary time for renewal," she said. "They are the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being but cannot."

One of the commonly-read books that we college-student types passed around among ourselves, one of a few books assigned by professors that we probably had already read, is Silences, by Tillie Olsen. What a remarkable woman, and her main message is simple and compelling.

But dreadful.

She wrote the book over a period of years while working a variety of common jobs and raising children. The "silence" about which she wrote is the silence of a creative voice that is muffled by the demands of day-to-day living.

Though my circumstances are far more fortunate than the ones Olsen worked through, my own patterns of blogging suggest to me that she had a real point to be made. Note the timestamp. 0540 on Saturday morning before my beloved family members have awoken. I either blog early in the morning or late at night.

This point is critical to modern democratic discourse. Your average Bobo working two jobs is still likely to have opinions that apply to social, economic, cultural, and political issues of the day. But when would such a person have the time to voice these concerns?

Are you busy yourself? Too busy to discuss it right now? Then I'll get back to you. How 'bout Monday? Oh, too busy then. Well what about a day later in the week? Oh. Busy all week. Well, how about never? Good? Great! I'll get in touch with you then.

Your average working slob, besides having little unstructured time for contributing to the maintainence of modern American democracy, also suffers from other mitigations.

From low-level service work to doctoring, work itself is exhausting and stressful to extremes. People go home to comfortable domiciles, bright television entertainment, and delicious beverages, but the work itself can seem to resemble serfdom in its demands on the mind and body. Whether a burger-flipper or a neurosurgeon, they're going to come home tired. Maybe too tired to e-mail their senator or call up the Mike Malloy show.

But wait, there's even more. Besides having little time and being too tired anyways, a lot of people are politically silenced because nobody ever asks anyways.

When you do ask, you are very likely to get an opinion. When you provide time and relaxation, you are likely to get extensive conversation regarding a range of issues from people that do not themselves publish regular opinion columns or blogs.

This is probably the essence of blogdom itself. It allows voices, even people like me, to put it out there. I have no delusions, but you must admit that I'm basically doing the same things that, say for example Glenn Greenwald or Robert Reich are doing, with similar software and media platforms. They just do it a lot better than me.

Blogging is democracy.

Tillie Olsen and I wish more people had the time and energy for it, and we also wish that those who stroll the halls of power would shunt aside the putrid stream of lobby-lawyers that stench up their congressional offices and actually ask constituents what they are thinking.

I was reading something Rebecca wrote when this whole Tillie-Olsen-and-silences thing popped into my head. She was discussing voter responsibility when she asked:

"The problem we are faced with is how do we not just educate the electorate on how our government works, but make them care and understand about it. How do we get the electorate to give a damn about what goes on in our halls of power where laws are made and carried out?"

If more members of our electorate had the time, energy and feeling that others were actually concerned about their opinions then there'd be like about a million-and-a half blogs, eh?!

The dogs just woke up. The rest will soon follow. Peace out, dudes and dudettes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Put Into Practice

Bringing freedom to the people of Iraq- a progressive ideal. Liberation is literally a *liberal* concept.

Using Iraq's oil to rebuild the country- a socialistic enterprise by its very definition.

Establishing a secular democracy in the Middle East- another progressive ideal. One seen by many as anti-religious.

Right-wing supporters of Bush and his war in Iraq use these progressive catch-phrases all the time, because they know these appeal to most Americans and because these hide the real reasons we have sent our young military service people there, which likely would not get the support of many Americans.

This is a war for oil and an attempt by Bush to play out his psychological turmoil on a global scale.

American families will not send their young off to die in the sands of Araby just so oil executives can in turn sell them $3.85-per-gallon gasoline.

But they will send them off to fight for progressive ideals like freedom and democracy. Hence the rightwing rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

It's conservative bait-and-switch. Unfortunately they have honed this technique over decades and have built a media presence that churns this rhetoric out by millions of print and broadcast words daily, so many American citizens are taken in by it.

This is a riff on ideas gleaned from reading George Lakoff.

I think that many of us on the political left correctly espress concern about the way the political right wing has co-opted many aspects of what passes for political debate in this country. Fox News and right-wing radio come to mind. It took many decades for the conservative movement to construct the media infrastructure and develop consistent messaging systems to attain dominance in political discourse.

It will be much easier for the left to re-enter media debate than it was for the right to establish their heavy presence there, because we on the left will not have to lie, which is another of Lakoff's ideas.

This is worth sharing around.

(The above was cross-posted and re-edited under another alias from an obscure small-town middle-America newspaper-based message board.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Since he was incontinent and needed a good cleaning-up we undid his wrist restraints so we could turn him from side to side. Of course the first thing he went for was the tracheostomy tube. He'd rip it right out of his throat in an instant if he had the chance. Then he'd go for the PEG tube.

A while back he was jumped at a bus stop and got clobbered in the head. He had a nasty blowout fracture of his left orbital and a subdural hematoma that had severely impaired his cognition. He was alert and would track us with his eyes, but he didn't follow simple commands such as "please do not pull out your tubes." He couldn't effectively swallow anymore.

I think maybe he wanted to die, and perhaps he thought his situation was rather hopelessly miserable and he didn't want to spend decades in an extended care center... maybe he thought that if only he could get those awful tubes out he would quietly fade away.

He was a young guy, in his late twenties, and he didn't have much else to look forward to.

Today I am excited. I will roast a turkey and share it with my family. I don't think this guy is feeling anything at all like that. Who gets excited about a can of Jevity running through a stomache tube?

He was not a U.S. citizen. He was not insured, and we couldn't get him covered due to his status as a Mexican national. So we deported him. It was a nightmare for the case managers who arranged his trip to Juarez, and it is an ongoing nightmare for the patient himself. Hopefully he will have family members there who can advocate for him and help him deal with the very difficult circumstances of his ruined life.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Free Books Post Paid

My spouse says that it's time to clear off a few inches on the bookshelf. Since we have limited space I am not allowed to accumulate books willy-nilly, as is my wont.

We have similar concerns regarding the CD collection. Someday we'll rip it all to a handful of I-Pods and be done with the storage issue.

Anyways, I have a few titles that I would be willing to mail to anybody who expresses interest in either reading these books themselves or finding another use for their contents. If you're just looking for flammable material to add to the woodstove then I politely suggest you contact these jerkwads.

Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff. He succinctly explains what "framing" is, how conservatives have employed these concepts to their political advantage, and how progressives must counter these attempts to hijack political discourse. Short and easy.

The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock. This outlines the recent history of conservative media ascension, told by someone who was once an insider.

The Truth, with Jokes, by the inestimable Al Franken. Humor and history combined in such a way that even college freshman would stay awake to read the whole thing.

The Long Emergency, by my homeboy James Howard Kunstler. My mother used to live in the building where he maintains an office. Anyways, pay attention to this guy. He is "teh" bellringer regarding Peak Oil, sprawl, and the consequences that derive from our collective denial of the meaning of these.

Righteous, Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, by Lauren Sandler. Scary. Our youth is even more into the idea of state-as-religious-entity than many in government and religious heirarchy right now. I read this just before Ted Haggard (his church is noted in the book,) left the leadership of the New Life congregation and joined the Crystal Meth-odists.

Bush on the Couch, Inside the Mind of the President, by Justin A. Frank, M.D. A psychoanalysis of our sociopathological president. Most of this information comes as no news to those of us who read up on young Georgie, say in the Texas Observer, before he obtained national office but Frank's insights are penetrating and ring clear.

Big Lies, the Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth, by smokin' Joe Conason. Nuff said. Intellectual ammunition, with the emphasis on truth and appeals to human decency.

And Conservatives Without a Conscience, by John W. Dean. I confess to once heckling Dean when he spoke at SUNY Plattsburgh back in the day. I was in highschool but visiting a friend there, and Dean was working through his Watergate involvement. Conservatives, or rather our modern corruption of them, have treated Dean and his spouse very badly lately, showing him their true colors, and most of his book contains psychological rather than merely political insight into conservative misbehavior.

These books all go very well individually or as a sustained course of reading. To me it's worth the ten or twenty bucks it may cost to pass these along.

You can e-mail me at with an address for you or another interested person and I will pop items in the mail on an as-come basis.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Good Mememanship

The conventional wisdon pouring like putrid fermented human bodily fluids from the mouths of the noise machine has it that "the Democrats are divided." It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? And at first glance, since the Democratic house members have recently held an election, it might make sense, as in "the world is definitely flat" makes sense on primitive observation.

But let us examine the numbers.

Pelosi was elected unanimously. Steny Hoyer drew a 149 to 86 count to achieve the 2nd spot in the House. A little short of a 2/3rds majority, that.

Contrast this to the contentious Republican struggle to elect a House leader: Boehner won by a narrow 122 to 109 margin on the second round of votes.

In the bizzaro world of mainstream television and newspaper news a nearly-equal division is misrepresented as unity while unanimous and vast-majority results are mischaracterized as disarray.

Damn the latte-sipping elite liberal media. Can't they get anything right?!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Example Frame: Economic Refugees

Lately the work of George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute has come to the attention of political progressives. We have come to realize that conservative ideas are indeed pervasive in all forms of media after those on the right wing have spent several decades and many millions; no, billions of dollars buiding their noise machine.

Lakoff says that the reason conservative thought has become widespread (though hardly this delusionally popular) is largely because they have correctly learned how to frame their pet issues in a way that makes these acceptable to the general public, even if such acceptance runs counter to their self-interests.

He would say that people vote their values, not their self-interests, and that the conservatives have framed their political goals in terms that appeal to those values all the while ignoring the interests of the vast majority of citizens and voters of this country. This is exactly "what's the matter with Kansas." The debate has been hijacked.

Tax relief. Social Security reform. Gay marriage. Illegal immigrants.

That last one got real big play in the recent elections, though the Republicans lackluster exploitation of this as a campaign issue seems to have bit them back. I think they were hoping it would play as well as their fierce but illogical prosecution of the gay marriage issue a cycle or two back, but it didn't for a variety of reasons.

Via Lakoff we come to many ways of reframing this issue. It could be properly labelled for what we, as progressives, believe it really is: not illegal immigration, but an issue of economic refugees.

This writer suggests we use the term "resident alien" and create a sub-class of easily deportable non-voting subsistence earners ripe for exploitation by employers who currently hire these people illegally.

"We can then allow our employers an easy way to legally put them to work. Let them pay Social Security and draw down only their contribution unless they become citizens. If they wish to become citizens, they need to follow the existing regulations.

If they commit felonies, they should be deported. If they refuse to get a resident-alien card, they will not be entitled to any benefits and would be subject to deportation."

You can see how I feel about that. It's cheaper than reinstituting slavery, I guess.

This writer has a slightly different take on the issue, presented from the ground level:

"One of her children is disabled. He is non-verbal. There is technology out there that could have an enormous impact on this little boy's life, enabling him to communicate.

However, I had to be the person to tell this mother that her son is not eligible to have "this better life" since he is not documented in the country. As she sat weeping, I wondered to myself: "There must be a better way."

Economic refugees.

If this woman and her disabled child were Cuban boat-people seeking refuge in Miami, they might be champions of Republican virtue and get some assistance. But they're not.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Some time back there was much snickering going on regarding Bill Clinton being seen publically with George H.W. Bush. A lot of people on the left side of the blogosphere, if I recall correctly, weren't exactly sure what Bubba was up to.

"Bush Sr.’s motivations for helping his son are none too mysterious. But what about Bill Clinton? Why did he accept this offer?" So asked a BuzzFlash guest writer.

This really started to sink into the media in the aftermath of the the tsunami that devastated areas of 11 Indian Ocean nations. President Bush had pledged a ridiculously low really embarrassing amount of money to recovery and his father and Clinton probably had some voice in shaming Bush to commit more.

My spouse, cleverly and I think quite observantly, suggested that this was an example of the technique of triangulation. Clinton had used similar strategies during his tenure as president to distract and separate his numerous political opponents. By associating himself with Bush Senior now, he's put Bush at the odd point on the triangle.

This makes for an interesting frame. Of course it puts Bush at the usual odds against Clinton and all he represents. But by working with Daddy Bush, Clinton has also set many Republicans against the younger president and his irresponsible policies.

The psychological set-up is also bloody hell for Bush, framing him in irresistable Oedipal conundrums. The adults, Clinton and Daddy, are now to be seen in an interesting over-dog position as regards the lame president. Indeed, daddy now has sent men to rescue little Georgie again. Again.

I think this was a rather brilliant move on Clinton's part.

Naturally I am no big fan of the senior Bush, and I think very little of the people who served in his administration. I doubt Clinton is carrying water for any of them, though; this is just a wonderfully cynical ploy to exploit media imagery, deep frames, and psychology, all at the political expense of the worst president ever. Clinton is really kicking Bush in the teeth while he's down, all the while appearing as a conciliatory elder statesman willing to cross the aisle and work with Republican father-figures.

It's political genius. So good, I have to believe it's deliberate. Let us continue to watch this.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


At 6:00 a.m. there were about thirty people in line ahead of me, but things seemed to be proceeding evenly. I was in and out by 6:30. Like just about everyone else there, I had my own little election guide so I could move quickly through the myriad ballot propositions that face Arizona voters today.

People chatted respectably with those near them in line. Most of the chatter I overheard concerned Proposition 200, the "lottery" proposition. The general concensus seemed to be that anything that would get out the vote is good, even if it draws "uninformed voters."

"Like people who watch TV?" I sarcastically asked the couple just behind me in line. Safe Democratic votes there, I thought, but while I wasn't engaged in conversation with them they discussed a person named "Terry" (Goddard?! the state Attourney General?) who they felt had basically purged his downtown realm of openly gay lawyers. Disturbing, that.

"Cleaning house" is what they called it, but despite that the one person, a lawyer I think, said they'd still work for him.

Slow going is expected due to those numerous propositions. The polling place had many open tables set up, like a banquet hall, so they could process many more voters than if they had only been able to go through the private booths.

I was voter number 14. That's one of my lucky numbers. It's twice as lucky as 7.

The lady in front of me supplied her driver's license, her voter registration card, and also a utility bill. "You really came prepared!" thanked the poll volunteer. Then the woman turned to me and mumbled something about being hassled last time... she was African American.

Most people produced their voter registration card along with their photo ID. Like they were proud.

A woman a few steps ahead had a driver's license with an old address because the motor vehicle department hadn't sent her an updated license yet. She had a utility bill with an in-precinct address, and she was given a provisional ballot.

When I left the polling place parking lot was getting full but the line to enter the room had only a handful of people in it.

Now we wait. Kyrie eleison.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Break a Hip, See the World

Of course, we cannot trust our Canadian neighbors to the north with the manufacture of billions of dollars worth of medications; drugs that would undercut the price of those provided by U.S. companies. For that would threaten the bottom line of many members of Big Pharma.

But we can trust foreign countries' medical systems with the replacement of grandma's gamey old hip, because that would save the insurance companies a few bucks. Momentarily.

"... As an independent contractor for a small Coldwell Banker real estate franchise in Durant, Okla., she knew her privately purchased health plan would never pay up to $40,000 for the operation.

So she asked her boss about traveling to India where hip resurfacing alone would cost just $7,000. He not only gave her his blessing but offered to foot the bill, minus travel and hotels - making Gilmore one of the very first Americans sent overseas for surgery by an employer."

I was waiting for this. We're at peak oil, which means peak build-out, which further implies that everything, even your gall-bladder surgery, can be outsourced.

Now I realize the enormity of something I ran into about half a year ago while working with a particular patient at The Great Muffin Factory Institute. This one patient had been receiving rehabilitative, physical therapy, and skilled nursing services in Mexico, because it was cheaper. I do not recall how their insurance, or lack of it, played into this.

Unless you're a billionaire and can afford everything, you're underinsured.

"The studies found that most people who wind up in medical debt or bankruptcy -- two-thirds in the Commonwealth study and three-quarters in the Harvard study -- had health insurance when a family member got sick."

To resume the story, something about their condition had deteriorated so they skipped back north to the Valley for some patch-up work. I now assume that upon discharge they went back to Mexico to finish their run of physical therapy.

Travel out of the U.S. for hip-replacement or physical therapy is economical for two reasons only. Cheap labor and cheap fuel. We will probably have cheap labor forever. But the days of cheap fuel will be over in a couple decades.

Our leaders have driven us over a cliff, and now they are stepping on the accelerator pedal as we plunge. Down we go. Enjoy the view as it rushes by.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sleep Well Alyssa

Please, join me in bowing our heads for Alyssa Peterson from Flagstaff, an Arabic-speaking Army specialist who died while serving in Iraq a while back.

Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...".

Apparently she was an enormously gifted 27-year-old with a keen ability to learn languages. Well, thanks to Bush and his botched and stupid war for oil, she's dead now.

War is about ruining people.

On the cheap, too, according to this from ", Today in the Military":

"The White House Office of Management and Budget rejected Army chief Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker's extraordinary plea by for the additional funds to pay for repairing and replacing thousands of worn out and blown up tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees.

Instead of the $25 billion that Schoomaker says the Army needs just to keep doing what it's been doing with spit, adhesive tape and baling wire for the last five years, the Pentagon says the Army can have $7 billion."

Bush short-changes the troops so Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise can have their tax cuts.

Republicans, are you ashamed now? What more will it take?

I have spoken to some people about this story who have suggested that they doubt this was a suicide. Irregardless, her blood is on Bush's hands. He bathes in blood. He swims laps in an olympic-sized pool of blood. The Potomac flows blood in his dreams. His own heart, though, pumps sweet Iraq crude oil.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Infection Control

One of the nursing students told this story about their day at another hospital in which they went around with the wound care nurse specialist.

They were working on a patient with a large abdominal wound, maybe their belly had dehisced, requiring absorptive dressings or a WoundVac. While they had the wound exposed the patient's regular nurse came in with oral medications for them to take.

The patient was a little shakey, and one of the pills spilled out of the medication cup which the nurse had handed to her. The pill fell into the open abdominal wound.

Okay. Yuck.

Then the nurse picked the pill up out of the wound and handed it to the patient, who swallowed it.

That is wrong on so many levels.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

MacEachern Mouths Myths (Say that three times fast)

Some of the windows are open, allowing in the sound of the little waterfall that aerates our koi pond running between the windows and the outside wall. Cool morning air has me reaching for the warmth of the coffee cup. Baroque music on the radio, its polyphonic lines emanating from the Martin-Logans and I notice the existential pun: it's Handel's "Water Music."

Though we've worked hard for this, I feel gratitude rather than entitlement.

But wait, there's even more to this lovely Sunday morning. To my delight (but no surprise) the inimitable Doug MacEachern has provided another ignorant snot-filled eruption of paranoid and inverted class-warfare strict-father-morality conservative talking point for us to consider.

From the opinion pages of the third-rate-and-not-even trying-for-better Arizona Repubic, MacEachern warms our hearts with this little homily:

"Proposition 202 won't make much of a wave. Not because it isn't a wretched idea. It is. An indexed minimum wage will cost entry-level jobs, no matter how union activists twist the facts. But it won't matter because the veil of good intentions lies so heavily over Proposition 202. Few will hear of the lost low-wage jobs, the training cuts or the rise in youth unemployment. It's all about feeling good about yourself."

This, of course, is theoretical nonsense. So-called conservatives have been repeating the mantra "increased minimum wages costs jobs" for all the years they've been building their right-wing noise machine. But that doesn't make it true.

David Card and Alan B. Krueger head up the reality-based arguments against the conventional (as in "oft-repeated") assertions regarding this issue.

"In a work that has important implications for public policy as well as for the direction of economic research, the authors put standard economic theory to the test, using data from a series of recent episodes, including the 1992 increase in New Jersey's minimum wage, the 1988 rise in California's minimum wage, and the 1990-91 increases in the federal minimum wage. In each case they present a battery of evidence showing that increases in the minimum wage lead to increases in pay, but no loss in jobs."

But that can't be right, can it? I mean, if company upper management raises their own income by multiples of millions of dollars each year, then employment at lower levels doesn't... oh, never mind.

Anyways, C&K have had their critics. From the Vermont Legislative Research Shop:

"Card and Krueger have received some criticism for their study from a number of conservative think tanks that published their commentaries in opinion-editorial fashion rather than in peer-reviewed journals. Critics claim that the Princeton Study looked specifically at minimum wage issues in the fast food industry, which leaves out a significant population of the minimum wage work force. They also claim that the Card and Krueger data is inconsistent with the actual payroll records of the Burger King franchises; Card and Kreuger chose to rely on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for their data. Richard Berman of the Employment Policies Institute also disagreed with the methodology of the Card and Kruger study. He argues that the analysis should have focused on the number of hours worked instead of the number of employees (Berman 1998). Despite the claims of these critics, there has been no peer-reviewed research to date that contradicts the findings of Card and Kreuger or supports the claim that an increase in the minimum wage increases unemployment."

There you go.

Other economists, hundreds of them actually, have weighed in on the increased-minimun-wage issue and have found conclusions similar to those of C&K. But that doesn't fit MacEachern's frame through which he sees his altered reality, and as Lakoff says, "When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts ignored." It's on page 73.

So MacEachern rumbles on with his fact-defying newspeak. You can easily imagine the maggots crawling out of his facial orifices.

I suppose I could try to take him head-on and maybe send him a link like say maybe one from the Economic Policy Institute, but I'm sure he'd stay true to form and probably just attack the messenger or blame it all on Clinton.

"Minimum wage opponents often say that higher minimum wages will yield substantial job losses, but empirical evidence does not support this claim. A 1998 Economic Policy Institute study failed to find job loss associated with the 1996-97 minimum wage increase.3 In fact, following that minimum wage increase, the low-wage labor market performed better than it had in decades (e.g., lower unemployment rates, increased average hourly wages, increased family income, decreased poverty rates).

This reality is leading many economists to support minimum wage increases as a useful policy measure, especially in an era of increasing economic inequality. In October 2004, 526 economists signed a statement that said, in part, that "a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effect that critics have claimed." This list of economists included four Nobel Prize winners in economics and three past presidents of the American Economics Association.4"

Facts and footnotes. These are on our side, that of the reality-based nurturant-parent-morality community. But for the MacEacherns of this world, the deserving rich must prosper while the undeserving poor remain poor, or his entire internal concept of moral order explodes inside his follicle-challenged pointy little head.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


On the radio Al suggested this exercise for a Republican aquaintance:

Go over the Democratic keynote speech by Barack Obama.

"In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!"

Then compare it to the belligerent, frothing, bilious nonsense of Zell Miller's Republican call to the legions of the crazed. Yeah, I know his party affiliation. And Hitler was a Catholic. Whatever.

"Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief. "

Not exactly.

There are, after all, matters of responsibility and competence.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Famous and immdiately identifiable riffs:

"Take Five" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (it's actually a Paul Desmond composition. Check out Joe Morello, the Alan Watts of jazz drumming. Love that guy. This is the single-most effing coolest jazz drummer video ever. Morello was an avatar.)

"Money" by Pink Floyd. But betterer.

"Rapture" by Blondie.

"Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream, later fabulously deconstructed by Fudge Tunnel. Until you hear that you have not sufficiently lived. Stop what you're doing and go for it right now.

Everybody's been reading Lakoff lately, and I think that is a sign of looming turnaround. He discusses "framing" of issues, and I have begun to think, in loose analogy, of "frames" as "riffs."

Republicans, under the tutelage of Rove and earlier under the notorious and thankfully no longer operative Lee Atwater, have inadvertantly mastered the art of framing, and now that Democrats and progressives have begun to understand this, the playing field tilts. Big time.

I had the day off. Such is the life of a nurse, who slaves away weekends when the nine-to-fivers are off to their retreats and amusements, only then myself to have the luxury of a mild Monday morning unassigned to wage accumulation. So I went to Tempe to see and hear Barack Obama and a host of other really good Democratic political candidates.

We have excellent candidates.

Obama's speech was well-crafted and fine-tuned to the modern media predeliction for topical sound-bites, but the recurring notion was "we can do better."

We Can Do Better.

Of course we can. Freakin' idiots could do better than this Bush cabal. But I like the frame.

"We" as in us-versus-them. It triangulates out the Bushistas, which leaves the majority who oppose his policies in a position of inclusiveness.

By saying that we can do better, the implication is that they are not doing so well. We all understand that, even if we are supporters of this Administration. "Better" can always be done, so even Bush die-hards get caught in this frame.

Phil Gordon aquitted himself very well, dynamism intact.

Pederson speaks like an established and relaxed talk-radio host.

Though the crowd murmured when J.D.Hayworth and Jon Kyl were mentioned, the tone of the whole event was positive.

We Can Do Better.

Heck yeah. And we will.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Honest to God Real Conversation

The spouse and I were going an early dinner at a hip local place and while we were mulling over the kisras on the menu we overheard the two gentlemen at the next table.

"I for one," said a balding bespectacled mousey guy, "Am sick and tired of the gays in this country thinking that they can just shove their agenda right down our throats."

His dinner guest harumphed in agreement through a mouthful of lamb and greens.

My spouse leaned in to me and said "They're a little loud, don't you think?"

"That's the guy at the newspaper who makes fun of my blog name," I said, "And that's J.D.Hayworth with him."

"Foghorn Leghorn himself?" asked my soul mate.

"Thet boy ain't raght," I drawled in a sad mimicry of the famous cartoon character. We couldn't help but overhear them as they continued their rude discussion, probably inspired by their phobic observations of the waitstaff and some of the restaurant clientele.

The red-faced politician replied "They think they can just jerk us around anytime they want."

It seemed to us that they were entirely unaware of the ironic homoeroticism of their remarks.

"We shouldn't take this sitting down," said MacEachern. I watched his head slowly turn after he stared over the tight jeans of the passing waiter.

"We can't remain passive as they continue to try to stick it to us," said MacEachern.

"After this election I'll be giving them something to chew on," Hayworth said.

"We'll show them a thing or two," added MacEachern.

We tried hard to pretend that we were unaware of their remarks, but it was too much and I may have actually spewed a sip or two while holding back a full-blown guffaw.

"Full-blown." Heheheh.

"I'll be happy to lend you a hand," replied Hayworth, who went on to say "And when Prop 107 gets rammed through, they can just suck on it."

Then MacEachern misspoke, I think. He probably meant to say it was "time to take our country back" but his tongue slipped and he left off the final syllable of the word "country," which caused spasms in my spouse. On the way out we kept saying that he said he "wants their c#nt back," over and over, like they're going to share it once it is retrieved. As if they only had one between the two of them.

Well, who could blame them for their righteous concern?

Certainly not I.

Somehow, by Pat's brother Kevin Tillman

"Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat."

Please read the whole thing posted here.

We need to keep such things in mind come November.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Canadian Health Care vs. Daddy MacEachern

Please go read Sara's first-hand account over at the always-fine Orcinus.

"As a health-care-card-carrying Canadian resident and uninsured American citizen who regularly sees doctors on both sides of the border, I'm in a unique position to address the pros and cons of both systems first-hand. If the health-care debates are going to begin again in the US -- and it's way past high time they should -- then let's please start with actual facts, instead of ideological posturing, wishful thinking, hearsay, and random guessing about how things get done up here." [snip]

I have been arguing the case for a single-payer system for a couple decades; since I began working in the system oh-so-long ago.

The puffy-faced and bespectacled Arizona Republic conservative "editorialist" (he pulls the Karl Rove talking points off the fax machine each morning,) Doug MacEachern once asserted the superiority of our system here in the U.S. by citing a case in which he also claimed first-hand knowledge: one time his father needed an MRI and got one.

Alrighty then, that settles it.

Everybody knows Canadians have to wait 22 months to get an MRI if they sprain their ankle.

The illustrious Tom Tomorrow tells it straight here, with dripping irony either dismissed or misunderstood by the MacEacherns that inhabit the world. This Modern World, that is.


Hat tip to Naum at AZ Place.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Book List

Today in radio The Fat Drug-Addled Liar pined for the old days, like when Kennedy threatened to glass the entire USSR if Cuba "tested" a missle.

Later on Air America, Dr. Justin A. Frank, author of Bush on the Couch, discussed the cowardice of Bush, which is so extensive that Secret Security agents set up exit routes through the White House so that Bush need not inadvertantly run into visiting dignitaries in and about our imperial palace. Bush does not like to face people eye-to-eye. It stresses him out.

Bush ridicules people. I heard him say "Nice suit" to a press person recently, forcing the questioner to take a humbled position even before asking. Bush is mean like that. He likes to put people down, because they threaten him.

He doesn't like to think. "I don't do nuance," he has proclaimed. In his traumatized school-boy mindset, thinking causes great discomfort by unsettling his black-and-white notions of infantile simplicity. "You're either with us or against us," he proclaims, but how can you be with a person who only considers himself and has no regard for the lives of others?


So we have a president who is damaged goods, a 7-year-old psychopath in an adult body. With a government full of appointed fellow monsters. On the verge of taking over the entire world, what is it that these soulless theocrats have planned next?

Why, raising more soulless theocrats to continue the good work, of course. Like the young zealots portrayed in Righteous, Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement.

The book kinda reminds me of the movie The Boys from Brazil, in the sense that breeding and unbringing are fostering a whole new class of people tasked to exert political power. And not in a really good way.

The basic premise of the book, as I understand it, is that younger people are more propagandized and beholden to religious rightwing ideology than even their immediate forebears.

That's scary.

About as scary as a team of mutant Hitlers bent on world dominion, yet there they are, not on the silver screen but right there in front of us all, plain to see; indeed, shouting to be heard and seen. Tattooed young people, outwardly displaying common cultural insignia but inwardly tied up in knots of conservative religious ideology, without support, except from those very same people as would have them instead be left behind when their lord comes down from the sky to retrieve them.

If there was a god these people would change, really change.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

62 Hours

Sunday was long enough ago that I have to dig, with a square shovel, to uncover the memories of that day. I wore dark blue scrubs. My assigned patients were all "normal;" no psychopaths nor Republicans among them.

One gal did schiz out on me. In an anesthesia-induced haze she thought I disapproved of her non-traditional marriage arrangement. Later she got better and it all slid away unmemorably like a bit of Brie on a cracker.

I'll tell you about my own wedding someday.

Monday I wore black scrubs and all my assigned patients were either sent home or transferred off to skilled nursing facilities by 5 p.m. Hints to my clinical lead nurse were shut down without pity.

Another nurse offered to report off her own patients so she herself could go home a couple hours early. She got swatted down like a bug in July. After an hour of just keeping busy helping other nurses, they flew in a new patient from Kingman, just for me.

After two busy days at work I had a short nightmare that awoke me from my shallow sleep. Godzilla was outside our sliding-glass door peering in at the cats, who were staring and hissing back, ears flattened. I thought, in my dream, "That sliding-glass door isn't going to be much of an obstacle" for the giant lizard outside.

Tuesday I napped and played through a guitar transcription of the "L'Infidele" sonata by Sylvius Leopold Weiss. I have a wonderful Renaissance 10-course lute made by the notable Richard Berg of Ottawa, but mostly I just struggle through guitar transcriptions, though my lute would allow me to play most any Renaissance work, if only I could. Someday I'd like to obtain an 11 or even a 13-course Baroque lute, in D-minor flat tuning, to see how things like Weiss feel under original conditions.

The lute sounds like the brain.

The guitar sounds like the heart.

And on Wednesday my nurse heart was broken by a patient who aquired a nasty case of Valley Fever which had settled into their spine and pelvis.

Valley Fever typically takes away a piece of lung, but it can attack any body tissue, including brain. Brain fever. Necrosis.

My particular patient needed new spine tissue cemented in to replace bone material eaten away by cocci. I gave antibiotics and we got the pain issues straightened out with the help of the nurse specialist. That was good. The patient awaits another surgery soon. The surgeons here are amazing.

Thursday and Friday blurred together. I wore black again on Thursday. It's a tradition.

One of my assigned patients was a young adult who required an AICD implant. They shared a condition with their own progeny, known as prolonged QT syndrome, which can cause ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation and sudden death. So now thay have an implanted device that will sense and shock if the deadly heart rhythm occurs. Their 2-year-old child also has one.

You don't see that every day.

I ran a strip of their rhythm and showed them what runs of V-tach and V-fib look like, using a textbook that was lying around, and explained that their AICD would reset the pacer node of their heart with a not-so-gentle shock.

People always do better when you explain things. They were very thankful.

Once in a while I get that "I wish the nurse would shut up" look, but most people say to me "why didn't anybody tell us this before?"

They had been well-prepped because the procedure and device had been applied to their young child, but by doing a little show-and-tell they came to a fuller understanding of this.

I recall an episode Thursday in which I was so tired that I was dreaming while awake.

Sitting at the computer I had charted that one of my patients had refused their stool softener "because of Hitler's disingenuous overtures to the Russians early in World War Two." I deleted that as soon as I was awake enough to realize where I was and then I walked to get a cup of coffee. I should have left that entry in the chart. Somebody may have later gotten a laugh out of it.

Friday drizzled by like the moderate rain that started the day. I wore dark blue scrubs. My cocci patient looked better, and they said they felt better too. Another patient had orders to wean their Dobutamine drip, and without the IV attached to them they did a lot more walking around, which is always good.

The dobutamine was only going at 2mcgs/kg/min. It didn't take long to "wean" it off.

Saturday I wandered around the bookstore where I saw an elderly couple who noted that a book they had special-ordered for themselves was available out on the shelves; Chomsky's "Imperial Ambitions." I told them that they had just made my day.

"How so?" the gentleman asked, smiling in recognition of a member of the reality-based community.

"I had a long week," I said, "And seeing somebody special order Chomsky makes me happy."

"My favorite thing," said the man, "was seeing Hugo Chavez at the U.N. holding up this book and telling people to read it."

I had seen that. It was great. And I picked up a copy, too.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Oh How They Whine

Here's a bit of advice for whiny-ass titty-babies like Len Munsil and Espresso Pundit: free speech is a bitch.

There are fifty-four phrases inscribed on the Arizona 9/11 Memorial that was put up at the state capitol two weeks ago. Not all of these phrases are pleasing to the rightwing hegemony advocates that are intent upon ruining our democratic republic and replacing it with a theocratic monarchy.

Their opposition to a handful of these monument inscriptions sometimes borders on the insane, which is to be expected. And they want some of the phrases re-eveluated.

"They include statements such as "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles," "Congress questions why CIA & FBI didn't prevent attacks," and "Erroneous US air strike kills 46 Uruzgan civilians," a reference to members of an Afghan wedding party who were killed."

The righteous outcry against that last statement particularly galls me, because the forty-six Uruzgan wedding celebrants would still be alive today if it were not for the 9/11 attacks, and those people are victims of terrorism as much as those whose mangled body parts were pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.

Good point, shrimpy.

It is arrogant, stupid, narrow-minded, and nearly ethically blind on the part of the Munsils and Pattersons of the world that they would wish for that bit of history to just go away and not disturb their glorious appropriation of 9/11 for their own political purposes.

Munsil, hopelessly behind in the polls in his bid to turn Arizona into Texassistan, basically politicized this whole Memorial thing in hopes to morph it into some kind of treason on the part of his very popular opponent, standing governor Napolitano. Whatever. He's got to do something to keep his political base of drooling authoritarian gay-bashing nutballs interested in his floundering and shallow campaign.

Lots of people say things that other people don't like. It's a fact of life, and ackowledgement of that simple notion was one of the great psychological and social achievements attained by the founding fathers as they formulated the documents upon which our government is allegedly still based. I can live with that.

And I do. Every day. Not a minute goes by without some crass rightwing ideologue somewhere in the media accusing people like me of being horribly bad, because I espouse views with which they disagree. Limbaugh, Coulter, Malkin, Savage-Wiener, and the like have entire radio and television networks channeling their foaming rage into the rivers of public discourse every minute of every day.

But that's not enough.

They want to erase everything that might be seen as disagreement with their demented vision. Everything.

But they cannot, and they will not.

The Arizona 9/11 Memorial statements will be reviewed. Some phrases will probably be removed from its surfaces.

But the Uruzgan wedding party, as well the 2,973 9/11 fatalities, will tragically still be dead.

Still dead, but spoken for. All of them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Downhill Racer

This reminds me:

Must book a ski weekend for this winter.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yeah, whatever

Grief counselor.

Hockey defenseman.


Toxic waste disposal specialist.

Alien lifeform written language translator.

Drug dictionary.

Hostage negotiator.

Has enlarged urinary bladder.

Cold-call telephone salesperson.

Immune to sleep deprivation. Long-term and short-term.

Takes authoritarian direction well. Or not. OK, f$ck that.

Strong back.

Even stronger stomache.


"Get me a nurse! STAT!"

*Note timestamp.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Street Hockey

I was doing tracheostomy care for the patient in room 8. They were doing much better today than yesterday. Their cough was more effective basically because their secretions were far less thick; thin actually, and clear as the fresh cold waters of a mountain stream. Except with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The Foley catheter tubing that I had clamped was still bone dry. The residents wanted a repeat urinalysis but there was only a drop of urine in the bag. The patient had already been dialysed that morning and they were pretty much anuric. Then I heard other staffers yelling my name.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I said loudly enough to be heard out in the hallway. My invisible psychic clue-detectors had already told me exactly what to expect.

When I eventually got to room 4, Mr. Crazy Big Guy was standing naked by his bed, foley catheter tubing stretched well, quite q bit. Enough to extend his paltry manliness somewhat beyond his usual Chihuahua stature when in repose.

And his WoundVac tubing was okay but me and nobody else wanted to see that damaged.

Mr. Crazy Big Guy had been bitten by some nasty critter, a spider or a scorpion, on his inner left thigh and he'd developed compartment syndrome. A couple days ago he had gone to another hospital where they did an extensive fasciotomy of the thigh, leaving three 4-inch-long open incisions along it, complete with intact Penrose drains.

He wasn't happy with the care he was getting at the intensive care unit at the other hospital so he'd ripped out his intravenous lines and stomped away against medical advice. When he got home his family members took a look at his wounds, each profusely draining copious amounts of serosanguinous fluid. So they brought him to our hospital.

Everybody likes our hospital. They say that we "know what we are doing" and "the nurses are so nice there." Whatever.

Since his wounds had been draining like mad and soaking up gauze and even chux, requiring changing constantly all night long, the wound care nurse specialist put a nice WoundVac on his thigh to drain the blood and goop into a nice little container instead of these going all over the bed linens all the time.

Anyways, I'd heard the yells and there he was standing naked next to his bed, surrounded by a team of residents. I could excuse the pregnant lead resident, but the guys standing there with that deer-in-the-headlights look could probably have been doing something.

The bedrails were up. Mr. Big Crazy Guy had crawled out over these. "Heye dude, what's up?" I asked him. His speech was crummy but he managed to get out something about how he had to get to Tucson to go to the hospital because he had to pee.

Me: tiny baby gazelle.

Mr. Big Crazy Guy: draft horse.

After a quick calculation, to determine that his head wouldn't hit anything, I pushed him backwards over the bedrails and he flopped onto the bed. I heaved his legs in after him and muscled him into a straight position laying in bed. The residents looked at all this as if they were background characters on the streets in a fight scene from a Spiderman movie.

"What the fuck are you guys doing!?" the patient asked. "It's a long story," I said.

We put his oxygen on and settled him in. I had just dosed him with enough Haldol to knock out a donkey about half an hour prior to this, because he'd been starting to get antsy then, and now he was going with it, not fighting it. In a few minutes he was snoring.

The lead resident was writing orders when I approached and she said "that was the most amazing thing I've seen in quite a while."

The case manager nearby said "Remind me to never play hockey with you!"

All in a day's work.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lyin' Ass Bitch

Much snippage from the ever-reliable and forthright pages of the online Arizona Republic:

Here speaks Governor Napolitano on border issues:

"I have been fighting for several years for the federal government to reimburse Arizona’s expenses related to the illegal immigration trade and its impact on our state. It is also why Republican Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah and I drafted and sent to Congress a comprehensive blueprint for immigration reform that had been endorsed by the bipartisan Western Governor’s Association. And, it is why when President Bush implemented my plan to use the National Guard to help secure our border, I demanded and the Federal Government agreed, that the bills should be paid by the Federal Government."


"On August 15, 2005, I declared a state of emergency in our four border counties along the Arizona-Mexico border to free up $1.5 million to alleviate the financial burden absorbed due to criminal activities stemming from illegal immigration."


"I have also directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to implement a comprehensive enforcement strategy to interdict criminal activity along the border region. Particular attention has been focused on disrupting the organized criminal enterprises involved in drug and human smuggling, vehicle theft and financial crimes. Under my direction, DPS utilizes the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), to trace and take-down human smuggling organizations and their financial trails. The creation of ACTIC was one of my first Homeland Security goals and it is now not only nationally-recognized but serves as a prototype for other states in how to establish a combined federal, state and local intelligence center."


"As Arizona Attorney General, I drafted anti-terrorism legislation that is now being used to intercept the flow of money used to finance illegal operations, including human smuggling enterprises. As of today, this law has led to the seizure of almost $18 million and resulted in 221 arrests.

DPS also began the Southern Arizona Auto Theft Task Force, which has recovered almost 200 stolen vehicles. Along with the Auto Theft Task Force, the state has recently installed license plate readers in the southern part of the state. The license plate readers take a photo of a license and match it to the stolen car database. If the car turns up stolen, DPS or local law enforcement are able to seize the vehicle before it is taken to Mexico. This is just another great tool used in the interdiction of stolen vehicles.

Under my direction, the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control created the Fraudulent Identification Task Force to identify, investigate, and prosecute the manufacturers and sellers of all fraudulent identifications in the state. Since its inception, 117 felony arrests have been made and 950 fraudulent documents have been seized."


"...By Executive Order, I have already imposed restrictions on companies who do business with the state from employing undocumented workers. Last January, in my State of the State address, I called on the State Legislature to do its part by passing a state law sanctioning employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Sadly, rather than pass meaningful, workable legislation, the Legislature watered-down a bill to such an extent that it would have provided amnesty to employers. Rather than make current law even worse, I vetoed the bill; however, I will not give up on the fight for an Arizona law – with teeth – that holds employers accountable when they hire illegal immigrants."

Now let us see what her opponent in the upcoming election, Len Munsil, has to say by way of comment:

"Well, after four years as Governor, we know Janet Napolitano’s answer. She believes we should do nothing. She believes the border cannot be secured. She has watched 5,000 people each day cross our border illegally and still she does nothing. She has watched Arizona citizens forced to flee their homes near the border and still she does nothing."



You know what, Munsil's comment makes him a LAB. Fishbone long ago wrote a song with lyrics that would seem to apply to Munsil's totally inappropriate characterization of Governor Napolitano's efforts regarding the difficult control of the Arizona border with Mexico.

More snippage from Governor Napolitano:

"The Federal government’s failure to fulfill its responsibilities in securing our border and providing for a realistic and functional immigration policy for this country have been immense detriments to the State of Arizona."

And detriments to national security, I would add.

One last snip from the Governor's words:

"It is the primary responsibility of the federal government to secure our border with Mexico and provide for a sound immigration policy. No state or local official should forget that, nor let the Federal Government off the hook."

Munsil isn't just running against a very successful and popular incumbant governor. He's running against the failed border policies of a president from his own political party. How ironic.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


A lot of television things are about other things on television.

Your life probably is not one of those things.

Thank god, or whatever.

Try discussing Anselm's Proof with an 8-year-old. You will be happy you did.


Pink Floyd. Anthony Braxton. Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. The 2nd and 3rd string quartets by Elliot Carter. Switched-On Bach. All at the same time?

Lisa was a bit more busy than I was so I asked her what she had going on, and she said I could hold up Mr. Beaver's leg while she changed the dressing. She dashed off to the supply room while I went into Mr. Beaver's room and started to unwrap the gauze from around the entire length of his lower left leg.

Though never assigned to Mr. Beaver, he recalled me because I'd held his head still and encouraged him a couple days ago when one of the other nurses sunk a duotube down his nose to feed him Jevity or something, because he wasn't eating enough on his own.

I unwrapped the dressing and asked him "So, what happened?" and as I continued to peel off bloody 4X4 after bloody 4X4 gauze he said "I fell off my bicycle and nicked my leg and it got infected." After I'd peeled off several packages worth of messy 4-inch-square gauzes the wound appeared in its perigee, resplendant as the recent full moon.

Impressive. Staring at an exposed length of 10 inches of tibia is impressive. There's gotta be another word for it but the shock of seeing so much exposed bone on a living appendage sent most other words right out of me. That just tells you that I am not an emergency department nurse. They'd be making dog-bone jokes.

His foot was pink. A little "x" mark cued me into the dorsal pulse, which was easily palpable and non-obliterating. Unbelievable. The foot was basically fine. When the dressing and wrap were in place it looked as if he had a regular lower leg. But he didn't. The shin and calf above it were both debrided away, leaving a bit of calf muscle to fill out the ghost, somewhat imaginary, of a human lower leg. Shin bone exposed. Story at 6.

There was no skin nor muscle tissue covering nor accompanying either side the tibia. It was exposed for its length from the knee to the ankle. I swear I could have rounded a gloved finger behind it, only to have my finger clear the back other side of that expressionistically-exposed length of leg bone.

An awful image, though the patient talked and went on as if this were a pimple on his priest-white butt. Or rabbi-white butt. Or Imam-pink butt. Butts are butts. We had best accept that principle lest our differences lead to a violent self-immolation of all mankind.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Up to What

Very busy lately. Worked five twelves in a week and that's a lot for me, but maybe just average for Disappearing John.

I have somehow slipped into a pattern of explaining my behavior, in many social situations, in political terms. We were at the water park and I had inadvertently allowed my elbow to get into the personal space around a young adult woman's face. I was in line with my crew and she was sitting in proximity.

I apologized when I turned, saw her, and realized that I had nearly backed into her. She laughed it off.

"Sorry!" I said, adding "I'd never stick my elbow in somebody's face purposefully. I'm a Democrat," and she laughed again.

Now, whenever I do something sort of nice, or even just normal, I am going to say out loud that I did so because I am not a Republican, I am a progressive Democrat.


That settles it.

Even though it should be obvious to everyone.

Sheesh. Just listen to Coulter, Savage Wiener, Limbaugh, or any of them. They are uniformly rude. There's no excuse for this really. Thin-skinned, too, like when Coulter goes off crying when the chips fall the other way. Sorr-ree.

I don't bring up these political things at work so overtly. Some people have even asked me "what are you?" as I keep my political identity under simple wraps. Not that I have to. The crowd around me at work all carry water for these friends of Arnold.

As Carol Anne said, "They're here."

Young Heather O'Rourke oddly died of septic shock while she was very young, and that is very sad. I did not know this until I wrote this post.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

9... Knight C-6 to B-8

The patient had independently gotten up to a chair. The primary doctor had already blown through and the only order they had left was to advance the patient's diet. For the first time in three weeks the patient could take a regular meal.

Not jello. Not broth. Not weak tea made from cardboard shavings and bits of plastic cartons. Real food.

"Anything happen while I was out pestering old sick people?" I asked the patient.

"One of the doctors came in and said he was going to change that," the patient said, nodding towards the intravenous antibiotic bag hanging from the IV pole.

Being somewhat a wordy person, I felt that some sort of explanation was in order. Doctors have little time for these things. It's something that nurses take upon themselves to do, sometimes. A matter of style.

Explaining medication changes to patients is important to me. I feel that if a patient understands why we do things, these things works better. Kind of a logotherapy thing. If the patient has an understanding of how and why we are putting them through things, then the things work better.


The patient's chart indicates that the infectious diseases consulting specialist, Dr. A., changed the antibiotic from IV Zosyn to oral Augmentin. I really like Dr. A. mostly because he usually wears a kufi and though I am not personally of his persuasion I have a few myself that I sometimes wear on special occasions, such as trips to the opera or other special dress-up events.

When I explained this to the patient they said "Oh no, I can't take Augmentin because it makes me sick."

After sending the order to pharmacy, transcribing it, and securing the medication, I halted. Then I put out a page to Dr. A. and waited for his call-back, then explained that Augmentin makes the patient sick, according to them.

"OK, cancel the Augmentin and give Levaquin 500mg p.o. daily and Flagyl 500mg. p.o. three times a day."

"Thanks, Dr. A., " and I dutifully wrote the order in the chart, faxed it to pharmacy, transcribed it onto the medication administration record, and awaited its fulfillment in the computer-controlled medication dispensing machine on our unit.

I stopped by the patient's room to explain that we had changed the medication to different ones.

"Oh no," they said, "I can't take Flagyl, that makes me sick," they said.

So I again put out a page to Dr. A. and when he called back I gave him the patient's concerns, and he ordered to stop the Flagyl.

"What about the Levaquin?" I asked, and he said just to stop it all and return to the IV Zosyn the patient had been on all along.

So I wrote down the phone order in the patient's chart, and faxed this to Pharmacy, and transcribed it back again into the patient's Medicine Administration Record, chuckling as I explained to nurses and staffers around the station that I'd basically just wasted 20 minutes doing nothing but establishing a patient's intolerance towards certain antibiotics.

Right back where we started. No changes, yet several changes. The pharmacists on the other end of the fax machine must've thought I was a fool. Square one, change, square two, change again, square three, another change, square four, put the knight back on B-8. The Breyer variation of the black side of the Ruy Lopez.

So to speak.

I went back to the patient and explained that now we weren't going to really change anything, and forwarned them that they might also have intolerances to other antibiotics as yet untried, to which they nodded possible agreement.

It's a good thing to know.

In the CD changer:

Edward Elgar Symphony #1 in A-flat, Sir Adrian Boult in a live performance at the BBC Proms recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1976.

Kiran Ahluwalia, born in India but raised in Toronto, doing Ghazal song-forms.

"Return To Dark Side of the Moon" tribute album. Tommy Shaw, of all people, sings "Money." I almost don't hate him anymore. Frighteningly good. Edgar Winter on sax.

Ruth Laredo playing the complete Scriabin piano sonatas.

The Best of Taj Mahal.

Saving for an I-Pod and pricey headphones.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Don't Shoot

I appreciate in this order:

Breathing good air, drinking clean water, eating healthy foods, maintaining comfortable body temperature, my beloved family, language, art and technology. Affordable energy's awfully nice, too.

"Nature is a language- can't you read?" Morrissey and The Smiths

e.e. cummings has been a favorite ever since my junior highschool English teacher Mr. Dreyer sketched out one of cummings' more disjunct works on the blackboard and helped us through the maze, after which the path seemed all too clear.

73 Poems, 26

if seventy were young
and death uncommon
(forgiving not divine,
to err inhuman)
or any thine a mine
to say would be to sing

if broken hearts were whole
and cowards heroes
(the popular the wise,
a weed a tearose)
and every minus plus
--fare ill:fare well--
a frown would be a smile

if sorrowful were gay
(today tomorrow,
doubting believing and
to lend to borrow)
or any foe a friend
--cry nay:cry yea--
november would be may

that you and i'd be quite
-come such perfection-
another i and you,
is a deduction
which(be it false or true)
disposes me to shoot
dogooding folk on sight

It's well-established that Bush, like Reagan and his father before him, isn't much of a reader. Brother Neil is dyslexic, as is Bush Sr. Our president is not contrite about this condition. He maintains arrogance and cold disinterest instead.

That's why we have a mountain of government debt and in the decades to come even our grandchildren will still be digging out from under it. It's why the wars are going so poorly. It's why the 9/11 attacks, though predicted in a presidential daily briefing, proceeded unmet. It's why the economy has only been good to a very small handful of already obscenely rich people.

Everything is a language, and Bush can't read.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I have to net this lovely little butterfly before the winds of truth blow it off to internet oblivion:

"Pederson's plan, as published in the Aug. 7 Republic, says nothing about increasing our supply of oil, focusing only on alternative energy. Unfortunately for Pederson, a Democrat running for the Senate, you can't just force people to stop using oil. It ignores practicality and common sense.

While alternative fuel is an important component of any energy plan, an energy plan without mentioning oil is not much of a plan at all. Kyl's approach, on the other hand, is much more realistic: invest in alternative energy in tandem with increasing oil supplies through domestic oil exploration."

Domestic oil production peaked in 1970. Just as predicted by geophysicist M. King Hubbert back in 1956.

"The United States passed its own oil peak -- about 11 million barrels a day -- in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it ran just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now. That means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio will continue to worsen." (James Howard Kunstler)

Spot the right-wing propaganda code-words: "increasing oil supplies through domestic oil exploration." I don't know why he doesn't come out and say that he's simply referring to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve. It's so obvious. And isn't drilling the preserve a Republican family value?

There just ain't that much oil up there, but our desperation is such that many people insist we have no choice but to pump those preserves. Others say why bother?

"James Kendell, one of the authors of the study, [from the EIA] said the refuge would add to domestic production, but “when you’re talking of a world oil market of over 75 million barrels a day, adding 900,000 barrels by 2025 is a drop in the bucket.”

I could go on, as you well know.

The main concern is that the Kyl plan is no plan at all. Maybe if we used every drop of Alaskan oil; no, that's not enough, make that every drop of all our domestic oil, then maybe we'd be able to tool up for alternative and conservation-based energy strategies.


"Realistic" indeed. Any energy plan that includes "increasing oil supplies through domestic exploration" is no plan at all, but a short-lived fantasy.

The writer is also quite wrong in his assessment that " you can't just force people to stop using oil. It ignores practicality and common sense." Of course you can, when you run out of it, or when it simply becomes significantly more expensive. Nonetheless people will persist in dreaming that the present way of easy motoring will go on and on.

The writer of that letter is a dreamer. Peak oil, however, makes insomniacs of some of us others.

"I said "Far out, - What a day, a year, a laugh it is!"
You know, - Well you know you had it comin' to you,
Now there's not a lot I can do..."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nice Shoes

There are many technologically backwards countries on this planet, countries with poor leadership to boot. Literally. Those countries with oil reserves might actually, at least for a little while more, have something worth defending militarily, but other countries may just be run by politicians that are belligerent towards "American interests."

There are about 18-and-a-half million Syrians and I personally do not know any of them. Neither does this guy, I'll bet. That much we have in common. Not a lot, yet so much, ironically. Sigh.

He's worried that "they," who he lumps in together with 67 million Iranians and 24 million North Koreans, will glass him in some kind of religious end-times battle which he specifically refers to as "Armageddon."

"At the rate we are going, we will pussyfoot around until Iran, North Korea and Syria decide they can win an Armageddon. They want nuclear weapons, and I think we should give them some: airmail, special delivery. Real shock and awe."

So in a nutshell, he advocates the nuclear genocide of about 100 million people.

This guy has a lot of enemies. Well, that's one possibility. Another consideration would be that he's insanely paranoid.

Here's another juicy little thing he has to offer:

(Snip) "Unfortunately, a large liberal contingent says we must fight our enemies in such a way that no one can win."

The Arizona Republic editorial board deems this worthy of printing, perhaps as a warning to his neighbors to keep their children inside when he's out and about.

A phat 62% of us, that is to say, fellow American citizens, don't like the way this "war" is going, and that's down from 66%. Large liberal contingent? Feh. That 62% includes the middle no matter how you slice it.

But our goofy media pundits, ever diligent in their fluffing of our mad king, have apparently been successful in painting the vast majority of the political center as "liberal extremists."

The middle majority is the leftist extreme. The far-right extreme is the the bipartisan middle; you know, like Lieberman on Fox News. Yes, it's nuts, but that's what it's come to.

This is what you do, as a way of demonstrating the appropriateness of this media characterization of the politics of typical American voters:

Before you leave home to go off to wherever today, pull your pants down over your head, tie your belt around your ankles, cover your groin and butt-crack (forget the undies) with your Keds and well, just skip the shirt. It'll keep the story simple.

Et Voila! Your costume now parallels the way the media wishes to present your politics. Good luck at work. Then again, your boss probably dresses the same way. Like the letter writer quoted above.