Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How Many and Yes That Means You

How many people in these United States will go bankrupt this year due to the costs of catastrophic illnesses and exhorbitant medical bills?

"Illness and medical bills caused half of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in 2001, according to a study published by the journal Health Affairs.

The study estimates that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually -- counting debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children."

That was in 2001, back when Bush was cutting taxes like a crazy man (which he is) because Clinton had left him; yes, Bush personally, a surplus, and Bush wanted to give this money back to "the people." That was an ill-conceived plan, and he was lying anyways.

The Bush tax cuts have contributed to revenues dropping in 2004 to the lowest level as a share of the economy since 1950, and have been a major contributor to the dramatic shift from large projected budget surpluses to projected deficits as far as the eye can see.

The tax cuts have conferred the most benefits, by far, on the highest-income households — those least in need of additional resources — at a time when income already is exceptionally concentrated at the top of the income spectrum.

The design of these tax cuts was ill-conceived, resulting in significantly less economic stimulus than could have been accomplished for the same budgetary cost. In part because the tax cuts were not as effective as alternative measures would have been, job creation during this recovery has been notably worse than in any other recovery since the end of World War II.

No worries. Your kids and grandchildren will just have to give every cent they ever earn over in interest payments to the Chinese and the Saudis. Your own income is being siphoned off to the tune of $300 billion a year just to service the interest on the debts run up by Saint Ronnie a generation ago.

"This year, [2006] over $300 billion of the federal budget is interest on a debt that Reagan ran up in order to make the economy look good, on borrowed money, to get himself reelected. That's enough money to provide full scholarships to public universities for over 15 million students."

There's roughly 300 million of us Americanos so that works out to about a thousand dollars a year for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. It was worth it, just so Reagan could drop the tax rates on the richest Americans and their corporations, wasn't it? Aren't you happy to be contributing your share to this worthy cause?

Of course, Reagan raised FICA taxes by 25%, which hit people who then made $40,000 a year or less the hardest. How many people did that affect? Did it affect you? Does it affect you still?

If you are a nurse, the answer to that last question is "yes." The way you can tell is to look at your fucking pay stub. And recall that all that FICA money has been sucked out of the Social Security "lockbox" to go into the general fund, so Reagan's debts don't look as bad as they really are.

If people don't have health insurance, nurses won't get paid.

If taxes are skewed towards screwing the middle and working classes then that's you, fellow nurses, who get stuck with Republican presidents' debts, wars, and no-bid phony military-industrial contracts.

Who are you going to thank for this?

People like this sociopath?

Or people like this?

"For the fourth consecutive year, nurses have earned the top spot on Gallup's annual survey among professions on honesty and ethical standards, with 82 percent of Americans giving the profession a "very high" or "high" rating. Since being added to the list in 1999, nurses have held this distinction all but one year - in 2001 - when firefighters received the highest ranking following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

In 1985 Reagan travelled to Germany to meet with Helmut Kohl, and while there he ceremoniously laid a wreath at the Kolmeshohe cemetery. No American soldiers were interred there; indeed, WWII American remains have been removed from Germany. But the grounds do hold the graves of forty-nine Waffen Schutzstaffel, the Nazi elite guard created in 1923 as Hitler's personal army and later notoriously expanded by Himmler.

The SS included the worst of the worst, the Totenkopf: the death camp guards.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Poetry: Haunted Hughes

Crow's Theology

Crow realized God loved him --
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat.

And he realized that God spoke Crow --
Just existing was His revelation.

But what
Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded?

And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead?

Crow realized there were two Gods --

One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons.

Ted Hughes

Crow: From the Life and the Songs of the Crow dates from 1970. It's said that Hughes had intended an optimistic and happy ending but the death of his common-law wife Assia Wevill along with their young daughter Shura had prevented him from doing so.

"Haunted," from The Guardian Unlimited:

"On the morning of March 25, 1969, Assia Wevill, the common-law wife of poet Ted Hughes, took their four-year-old daughter Shura to play in the park. Preoccupied by a telephone quarrel with Hughes, Wevill returned later to their Clapham flat, set the table for lunch, then abruptly sent her au pair out on an errand.

Wevill then dragged a bed into the kitchen, shut and sealed the door and window, dissolved sleeping tablets in a glass of water and gave the drink to her daughter. Gulping the rest herself, she turned on the gas stove, got into the bed with Shura and cradled the child in her arms. Together, they slipped into death."

It's one of the most tragic stories in the lives of twentieth century writers. Assia was of course the second of Hughes' wives (actually Ted and Assia never formally got married,) the first having been Plath, to have committed suicide. The loss of her and their beautiful girl must have been incomprehensibly devastating.

Continuing from the excellent and informative Guardian article:

"Assia was my true wife and the best friend I ever had," Hughes wrote in his letter. But not in the public memory. For many years, the identity of the woman for whom he had left his wife, was not revealed. When a year after their death, Hughes dedicated his book Crow "in memory of Assia and Shura", few inquired who they were.

In a strange coda to the tale, Hughes had packed all of Assia's personal things and sent them by boat to her sister Chaikin in Canada. The ship and all its contents sank. But the crates with Assia's items oddly resurfaced and Chaiken obtained these months later.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Table Legs

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks in Order

Air to breathe.

Water to drink.






Meaningful work.


Indoor plumbing.

As you can see, I've given this some thought. In the manner of a true obsessive-compulsive I consider these things daily and I am deeply aware of the importance of each.

It's only a start. The bare minimum. There are other things worth mentioning: freedom, good teeth, laptops, ability to move about, coffee, etc. etc.

Many years ago in the early 1970's at a Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother's house, we were cleaning up afterwards. My grandfather had built the most marvelous kitchen. For example, they had a smooth-surface stovetop, and this was over thirty years ago, which my grand-dad had built into a brick-and-slate surround.

They had a huge old black cast-iron woodstove, an antique, which my grandmother used to slow-cook and bake and also just to warm their house on cold Catskill Mountain winter days. And did it ever.

Of course they also had all the usual modern appliances of the time: a regular gas oven, a nice big deep double sink, a microwave (those were a new thing back then,) the fridge and a storage freezer out in their garage-workshop. They had also kept an old ice-box which was probably new when F. Scott Fitzgerald was a little boy.

Funny, that. They used to have things that looked like very sharp horse-drawn plows which they employed to cut blocks of ice out of the frozen surface of the Hudson River. It was stored in a huge warehouse and packed in hay. This way the ice would keep all year round. An ice-man would deliver it to your home and put it in the bottom of your ice-box. Refridgeration without electricity.

My grandfather had a couple of these old ice-cutters out in his yard as ornaments. He had great collection of old tools.

Through sliding-glass doors the kitchen looked out and down the hill at a fabulous view of the Shokan valley and reservoir. Stunning, really. It was so interesting. I've never seen anything else like it; that kitchen, with its hundred years' worth of food technology all in one place, and so beautiful too.

So we were doing dishes and clearing the table while others retired. I asked my grandmother, who was born in the first decade of the last century, which of these kitchen goodies she liked the best.

She paused, then said "Running water," and pointed to the sink faucet.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Extremely Complicated

Like other nurses in The Valley, Disappearing John, for example, I have recently been given a seasonal pay increase. As John noted, hospitals around here do this in an effort to retain registered nurses on staff. This is in addition to yearly cost-of-living pay raises and such. John thoughtfully and kindly rues that other people he works with, who themselves happen not to be nurses, didn't get this.

Me too.

If it weren't for support staff, hospitals just wouldn't be hospitals. Instead they'd be huge steaming piles of garbage. The housekeeping people are my best friends forever when I'm at work. The technicians, secretaries, and therapists are indispensible. Security and maintainence staff, the people who work the supply chains, the dietary workers... every single one of them occupies a critical niche in the system.

Anyways, this is all about the nursing shortage. So they toss us a few coppers in the hopes that we won't go for the nifty sign-on bonuses and other lucrative bait offered by other hospitals begging for nurses. It clutters up my mailbox. Not every day, but every week come the job invitations. They call you on the phone and offer to fly you to their hospital to court-and-woo you.

Heheh. "Woo-you."

Anyways, California has a serious shortage of nurses also.

[Snip] California ranks 50th in the nation in number of RNs per 100,000 population (Moses, 1997). The current shortage is termed a "public health crisis" owing to a projected shortfall of 25,000 nurses within the next five years (California Strategic Planning Committee for Nursing [CSPCN], 2000; Educating California's Future Nursing Work Force Report, 2000). Finding 25,000 additional nurses over the next five years only maintains the status quo (Sechrist, Lewis, & Rutledge, 1999).

Other sources say California only ranks 48th rather than 50th in number of nurses per whatever thousands of people in the general population. Like that makes a difference.

What they don't have is a shortage of University of California Chancellors. All of those positions are full. Yet, in order to keep the pay for these positions "competitive," they are being offered huge salary adjustments:

The proposed salary hikes for chancellors heading the 10 UC campuses would total $3 million.

For UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau, a 33 percent increase would boost his current annual salary of $416,000 to $553,280. For UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, the increase would take him from $300,000 annually to $399,000.

Like Disappearing John, I am very thankful for my few cents' hourly raise. But these folks... really. If they don't want to keep a job that pays $300K a year, then they can go back to school and obtain new skills like everybody else.

The proposal is currently on hold. But in these times, do you really expect saner voices to prevail? I don't.

"We caught them trying to sneak it through," said an incensed Leland Yee, a state senator who authored a new law requiring the UC governing board to discuss such business in public. It takes effect Jan. 1.

"They'll wait a little, hoping we've expended our energy," said the San Francisco Democrat. "But the workers, the faculty, the students and the lawmakers are upset and we won't let them get away with it."

The rank-and-file are sure to be annoyed and ignored, too. I am not sure what it would take to stop this nonsense.

That point was not lost on William Schlitz, a representative of 21,000 UC workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, including nurses, custodians and food service workers.

"It kills me when they talk about recruitment," Schlitz said. "What vacancies do they have among the chancellors? They're talking about 33 percent increases for chancellors when they can't keep their nurses and or fully staff their hospitals.

"The chancellors are looking at raises ranging from $30,000 to $60,000 – that's more than some of my members make for a full year's worth of work. That's mind-blowing."

Retention? As it just so happens, three of the 10 chancellors have just been hired.

So Disappearing John, I am happy for you and your recent pay increase, and I certainly appreciate mine. But it isn't much compared to the big enticements the rich like to pass out amongst themselves.

One of the Regents said that the Chancellors deserved the raise because "their jobs are extremely complicated." Compared to what? Emergency department nursing?

Show me. I will believe that when I see it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday: Two Plath Lasts

This is the last poem that appeared in the 1966 version of Sylvia Plath's Ariel collection:



After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Echoes traveling
Off from the center like horses.

The sap
Wells like tears, like the
Water striving
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock

That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road-

Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.

When he published Plath's Collected Poems in 1981, Ted Hughes, her husband at the time of her death, revealed the original order of the Ariel poems that Plath had indicated in the manuscript she'd left on her desk in 1963. He then came under some criticism for having messed about with her intentions. (He also had left out the early Mad Girl's Love Song, the wonderful villanelle found in the back of The Bell Jar. Odd, that.)

The poem order was rectified in 2004 when Ariel: Restored Edition was published.

Plath's daughter Frieda explains a lot about this here. Plath herself wanted the collection to finish with the word "spring." This is the poem with which she planned to end her own version of the manuscript:


This is the easy time, there is nothing doing.
I have whirled the midwife's extractor,
I have my honey,
Six jars of it,
Six cat's eyes in the wine cellar,

Wintering in a dark without window
At the heart of the house
Next to the last tenant's rancid jam
and the bottles of empty glitters ----
Sir So-and-so's gin.

This is the room I have never been in
This is the room I could never breathe in.
The black bunched in there like a bat,
No light
But the torch and its faint

Chinese yellow on appalling objects ----
Black asininity. Decay.
It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,

Only ignorant.
This is the time of hanging on for the bees--the bees
So slow I hardly know them,
Filing like soldiers
To the syrup tin

To make up for the honey I've taken.
Tate and Lyle keeps them going,
The refined snow.
It is Tate and Lyle they live on, instead of flowers.
They take it. The cold sets in.

Now they ball in a mass,
Mind against all that white.
The smile of the snow is white.
It spreads itself out, a mile-long body of Meissen,

Into which, on warm days,
They can only carry their dead.
The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lady.
They have got rid of the men,

The blunt, clumsy stumblers, the boors.
Winter is for women ----
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanis walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying. They taste the spring.

Sylvia Plath

Phun With Economic Grafs

Who does the grocery shopping at your place? If it's you, then you already know. If not, go along next time. Remember prices. Then go again in a few months. It could be quite a surprise.

Since most of our food travels over a thousand miles to get to us, and a lot of it depends upon commercial petroleum-based fertilizers for production, I think it's fair to assume that there will be a correlation between gasoline prices and your grocery budget. They'll go up. In tandem. Forever.

The lows get higher and the highs get higher.

More neat-o graphs here.

Don't you just love graphs? This one is so nice. It goes up. If the Consumer Price Index were a stock, perhaps now would be a good time to tell your broker to buy. I think it's going to really take off.

But it's not a stock.


Disappearing John was saying that "it pays to be a nurse." Yes. It does. But being rich pays better. They have graphs for that.

Oranges and other fruits have gotten bigger raises than nurses.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Curtain Rods

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I was going from the medication room to a patient room to hang a minibag of Vancomycin when I stopped to listen in on a conversation that two of the other nurses were having. One was the charge nurse of the day, an assignment that rotates among several of the staff nurses where I work. She was telling the other one that "sometimes she gets so stressed out by it all that she just doen't care anymore."

That happens a lot to nurses. After decades of staffing cuts and increasing levels of patient acuity, they have many work days in which all their ability to feel and care has been wrung out of them and steamrolled into oblivion.

"You wouldn't feel that way unless you had an ability to deeply care about other people to begin with," I had to say to her. I also offered my assistance but there wasn't anything simply task-related that I could help her do.

"It's what makes you such a good nurse and a good person, too; that way you care. Your baby's lucky to have you," I said, then I went to hang the Vanco. I didn't want to take over the conversation. I just wanted to take advantage of that little opportunity to offer some kind of support. Nurses basically have to give that to each other because otherwise there isn't enough of it.

And there isn't enough time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day Pride

Where to start?

In an August 8 article, USA Today reported that the House and Senate Appropriation Committees were poised to cut funding by half for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by bomb blasts. The funding was to be used for research and treatment of war-related brain injuries as part of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill.

About twenty percent of injured Iraq war veterans suffer from some sort of traumatic brain injury. This Administration wants to cut funding for it but at the same time says "it needs more study."

Further down:

As many Vietnam veterans know, substance abuse often goes hand in hand with PTSD. Among Vietnam veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, 60 to 80 percent have alcohol-use disorders, according to the National Center for PTSD. And things are not looking much better for our current troops.

No, things are not looking better for current troops, because we have crystal methamphetamine now.

Nearly one-quarter of all homeless adults are veterans, and many more veterans who live in poverty are at risk of becoming homeless.

Surely the magical mystical all-knowing and liberating invisible hand of the Free Market will address this problem soon, and add millions of profit-driven dollars of sorely-needed funding for injured veterans.

Well, no. Not really.

After being discharged from the military, Jason Kelley, 23, of Tomahawk, Wis., who served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, took a bus to Los Angeles looking for better job prospects and a new life.

Kelley said he couldn't find a job because he didn't have an apartment, and he couldn't get an apartment because he didn't have a job. He stayed in a $300-a-week motel until his money ran out, then moved into a shelter run by the group U.S. VETS in Inglewood, Calif. He's since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

"The only training I have is infantry training and there's not really a need for that in the civilian world," Kelley said in a phone interview. He has enrolled in college and hopes to move out of the shelter soon.

If only the Free Markets were allowed to work, this man would own have his own Volvo dealership by now, complete with hot-tubs for his well-treated white caucasian male workers to use on their frequent and generous breaks.

But wait, there's more. If you order now, we'll also send you the Ginsu knives, For Free!

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides funding for forty beds for Arizona's homeless veterans. Isn't that great? Too bad there's about 1,350 of them, though. They'll have to share bunks.

Could be worse. North Dakota has a thousand homeless vets and no DVA funded beds. But you can rest assured that those heroes are all going to sleep warmly tonite because the Free Markets will provide. If only we gave more tax cuts to Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Poetry: Moore Silence


My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
nor the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self reliant like the cat --
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth --
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "`Make my house your inn'."
Inns are not residences.

Marianne Moore

Of course there's no such thing as silence, except to perhaps those who were born deaf. Yet if they retained and developed the gift of language, then I suppose they too might often have that continual internal dialectic flowing from place to place in the mind and therefore have the experience of the "noise" of thought.

Bright sunlight affects me that way. It's as if it causes a great but silent din. I find it intolerable, actually. Like standing under the revving blades of a helicopter rotor, or closely beside an unmuffled motorcycle engine.

Assuming that your hearing is intact, if you sit still in an anechoic chamber you will probably hear at least two things: a high-pitched sound experienced as a light "ringing" in the ears, which is neurological, and also the low hum of blood coursing through your arteries. That is, if you hold your breath for a moment.

The most famous "Silence" was that piece of music written by John Cage, sometimes called 4'33" after its customary length.

He "wrote" this musical score in 1951 after visiting the sound-proof Harvard University anechoic chamber.

The silence of the anechoic room has inspired musicians, too. The American composer John Cage visited Harvard University's facility in the late 1940s. Though he was in a room with no background sound and no echo, Cage discovered that total silence is not actually possible: he claims he heard two sounds, "one high, my nervous system in operation, one low, my blood in circulation". After this experience, he was inspired to write his "silent" piece, 4'33", in which the "music" is made by the ambient sounds of the concert hall alone.

I had a late-night college radio show back in the day, from ten p.m. to one a.m. on a weeknight. Prime study time. After explaining the "piece" and describing the "score," I turned down the radio pots for each "movement," interrupting momentarily between each section, for an excruciating total of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of dead air.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stop Your Messing Around

One of the things that sociopaths do to let you know how awful they are is to portray themselves as victims. Like Rudy Giuliani. On torture techniques:

Giuliani is clear about is the use of sleep deprivation is okay, calling any opposition to the use of that method "plain silly."

"On that theory, I am getting tortured running for president of the United States."

The glib charm is a tell, also. And of course the always-present expressed inability to gather even an iota of real human concern about the suffering of other people.

Being forced by interrogators to go sleepless for days on end and running for president. Both are "torture," see? Hahaha. Look at the funny man, mummy.

What a malignant asshole.

His recent comments about using "enhanced interrogation" techniques during criminal prosecutions are designed to distort and charm his way into the cold little grinch-hearts of the true-believers, and upon examination it appears that his stance is built upon the ever-shifting sands of sociopathy.

For example, he obtained convictions against one of the most notorious crime bosses in recent history, John Gotti, not by dunking heads in toilets. He flipped Sammy "The Bull," a dyslexic psychopath and Gotti underling who himself had murdered nineteen people, including a policeman.

The deal included a few years of imprisonment, plastic surgery, and relocation under a witness protection program. Gravano was later convicted for running a drug-distribution ring. Psychopaths do not change. They're stuck that way.

That's how tough on crime Rudy is. It makes me long for the days when Dukakis was swift-boated for the Horton prisoner furlough, while Reagan himself presided over a similar program as governor pf California.

"Massachusetts is one of more than 40 states with furlough programs that allow prisoners, including some murderers, to leave prison for a day or more. California gave furloughs to convicted felons during Ronald Reagan's two terms as Governor. Mr. Reagan did not attempt to change the policy even after two convicts committed murder while on furlough in 1972."

And Rudy gave a pass to an unredeemable hitman to obtain convictions that made him look good in the New York papers. That's Rudy at his best. You can ask Donna Hanover about some of the bad stuff.

Tough on crime, these Republicans. Feh. Family values. What a load. Fiscal responsibility. A big steamy bucket of puke, that.

Always accuse others of your own shortcomings. A Republican campaign credo. And whenever possible, they bargain with the devil. He's their best friend forever.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tatami Mats

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nursing Supply-And-Demand Fun Facts

Yes Virginia, there is a nursing shortage.

"According to a report released by the American Hospital Association in April 2006, U.S. hospitals need approximately 118,000 RNs to fill vacant positions nationwide. This translates into a national RN vacancy rate of 8.5%. The report, titled The State of America's Hospitals - Taking the Pulse, also found that 49% of hospital CEOs had more difficulty recruiting RNs in 2005 than in 2004. "

Unfortunately, the miraculous benevolent invisible hand of the magical-fairy free market has not answered this concern with the corresponding increase in supply as predicted by the obviously stupid and incorrect "law of supply and demand" that you heard about between naps at school. As a matter of fact, it's getting worse.

Here's a few reasons why:

*High job turnover rates:

"Nursing turnover in Arizona is 26%, compared with a nationwide rate of 15% annually (Mercer, 1999). According to the Healthcare Advisory Board (1999), the cost of replacing an RN is $42,000, so the cost of such a large turnover rate statewide is enormous.'

*A general nationwide shortage, affecting all nursing specialties.

*Nurses getting older on average and aging out of the system:

"In March 2004, the average age of the RN population was estimated to be 46.8 years of age, more than a year older than the average age of 45.2 years estimated in 2000; and more than 4 years greater than in 1996 when the average age was 42.3 years."

*Demand for nurses continues to rise.

Changing demographics and general population growth and influx of people from other countries is profoundly affecting hospital budgets everywhere in America.

*Not enough nurse educators:

"To make matters worse, the lack of teachers has meant more nursing school applicants being turned away -- despite a nationwide shortage of nurses -- because nursing schools don't have enough faculty to teach them, according to a May 2003 report by the AACN."

*And of course, money:

" When adjusted for inflation, the average salary for US nurses has not increased since 1992 (HRSA Division of Nursing, 2001)."

Naturally, it's a little worse in some places than it is in others. Here in The Valley where I work, live, play, and blog; for example, the nursing shortage is running a little tighter than the national average.

"The nursing shortage in Arizona is projected to increase to 25 percent in 2010 from 17 percent in 2000, according to the Arizona Nurses Association. The reason is simple. Nursing schools have not been able to keep pace with Arizona's burgeoning population, especially the enormous growth in the number of senior citizens. The population boom has forced hospitals and other health providers to build $2 billion worth of projects and renovations. There aren't enough nurses to work in the new facilities."

Law of supply and demand. What a load of crap. If you still believe in that sort of thing, then bring your own nurse with you the next time you or a dearly beloved family member has to go to the local emergency department or hospital. In the meantime, think very seriously about what you're going to do about this problem.

Me? I went to nursing school.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday St. Vincent Millay


This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed. . . . Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see. . . . Look yet again--
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

A good annotated rendition of the Bluebeard story can be found here. Basically he was a serial murderer who enticed women with his riches into fatal marriage. He gave them great freedom and comfort but forbade them from entering just one room of his great castle; the closet that held the bodies of his many dead wives.

I came to know the story via the opera Bluebeard's Castle by Bela Bartok, one of the great classical composers of the first half of the twentieth century and always a personal favorite of mine.

In modern times Bluebeard may have been identified as a psychopath, not innapropriately. But even in the the decades of Millay and Bartok this kind of personality had not been yet scientifically defined and it was left to mythology and the arts to explore and explain the phenomenon.

Like the contemporary psychopath, Bluebeard tries to outwardly show charm and sympathy, when in fact he has a secret that he will kill to maintain: he has no conscience. He plays games with people, and in his extreme case, he murders them.

Millay, probably protesting the wrongful executions of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Species Sale

Climate change. Habitat loss. Human predation. There's six billion of us so it's going to take a lot to wipe us off the planet, but species with small populations are at risk.

Tigers, for example. There's probably only about 2,500 left on the planet. They are rare; perhaps not as uncommon as Stradivaius violins, of which there are six-hundred or so, and of sourse each one of these is worth millions of dollars, but anyways, there are very few big striped cats left.

Elephants, too. There are probably about forty-thousand Asian elaphants left, and almost half of those remain in captivity. The wild ones live in deep jungles which makes it difficult to count them.

This is Desi.

"For centuries, elephants earned their keep by hauling trees for Asia's logging industry. Deforestation and logging restrictions led to massive unemployment for the elephants, with the result that many, dependent on keepers who could no longer afford to care for them, simply died of neglect. With fewer and fewer elephants surviving in South and South-East Asia, Asian elephants are now on the endangered species list.

To reverse this trend, dedicated men and women throughout South and South-East Asia have created various sanctuaries for elephants, striving to preserve this majestic species. Now, aided by members of the international art community and conservationists, these sanctuaries have trained a handful of elephants in the delicate art of painting - as one way to help the animals help themselves, raising funds as well as awareness."

Maybe if they sold enough of their paintings they could save themselves from extinction.

Interesting: When you look at the paintings done by various elephants (these are for sale here and here,) it seems that these animals each have an individual style.

Friday, November 02, 2007


U.S. businesses hire economic refugees from other countries because they will work for low wages. If these people entered the country illegally, so much the better. It gives the employer even more control and leverage over those workers.

American citizens would happily take those jobs if they paid decently. But they don't.

Further, the businesses that hire the people we call "illegal aliens" do not generally provide healthcare insurance for them. Instead, you do.

Hospital emergency rooms do not stop resuscitation to determine the patient's immigration status. They have to provide stabilizing care regardless of ability to pay. And businesses are all too glad to offset the cost of maintaining the health of their workers onto taxpayers and those whose private insurance payments go to help pay off the bad debts incurred by the working poor.

Since we currently seem to prefer to have a government that primarily serves a sociopathic corporatocracy, we should expect policies that encourage businesses to obtain cheap unfranchised foreign workers, and we should expect policies that would have us subsidize those non-voting workers and their families.

Of course, things might be different if we had a government that primarily served We The People.

As long as we have a corporatocracy, we will have a substantial sub-population of cheap, easily deportable, exploitable, and non-voting people to feed to that corporatocracy. And we will have policies in place that ensure we subsidize this with our own money.

Outdoor Shower