09.30.11

Tough Crowd Boogie

Posted in Extremism, Rock 'n' Roll, Ted Nugent at 2:07 pm by George Smith


Putting Ted Nugent to good use.

Boogie stomp with lyrics derived from the casual cruelty and idiot beliefs characteristic of the GOP we-want-blood crowds at the debates.

Riffs inspired/based on “Leland, Mississippi” (from Johnny Winter’s debut LP) and “I Ain’t Superstitious.”

Notes as a bystander from the cancer ward

Posted in Cancer at 7:35 am by George Smith

One of the signal failures in US health care is too many doctors.

That’s not meant as a comment on the absolute number.

Instead it refers to the saddling of patients with multiple doctors, their staffs and infrastructures. It’s all part of the long-standing US obsession with hyper-specialization and the expansion of a massive buzzing edifice of health technology.

Even when the doctors are in the same building, or even on the same floor of the same building, there’s friction. And this friction comes at a time when the person getting the services is very unwell.

Even someone with no health problems would find it challenging.

With so many involved you get opinions and interpretations on disease and results that are never all completely on the same page. Outlooks differ.

So one minute you can get a statement that’s very unfavorable. The next, down the hall, something almost opposite, depending on the state of mind of the physician.

It’s incurable, says one. The survival figures are very bad.

Next up: You’re going to be treated. It’s going to work.

Surrounding every doctor is a staff, sometimes shared. Even with everything committed to a computer network, so many people guarantee that data entry and communication is fraught with mistakes.

Daily. Error correction is a constant part of the experience.

The doctor tells a patient, by phone, that a test has been canceled. The next day, at the same facility, a nurse comes along with an appointment for the tests that have been canceled.

No, no, the patient is mistaken. Fifteen minutes later the nurse is back. Turns out, the patient was correct.

Off-site, another series of scans is done. The next day, one of the staffers at the cancer center asks when that new scan, already done, will be done.

This is straightened out on the spot.

There is a request made for the new results to be faxed over. When they arrive, they are either the wrong papers or those of another patient.

Eventually this is sorted, too.

But it all takes time. And it’s a constant reminder that this system of hyper-specialization is not efficient.

It’s not an admirable feature, not something the American health care system can be proud of, yet it is entrenched.

And in Pasadena, CA, it is discovered that all the cancer doctors in questions are hard asses about the use of medical marijuana.

It’s a cognitive disconnect in a state that went out of its way to legitimize the use of the drug because it was thought to be of use to the deathly ill.

Have these people been flustered by the federal government? Do they just not like the mini-industry of potheads and hippies that furnish it from storefronts here? Were they read a secret riot act by someone?

Who knows? Why do they even care to condemn such a small thing while easily handing out prescriptions to much stronger palliatives?

09.29.11

Corporate America Hates You (the infrequent series)

Posted in Decline and Fall at 12:23 pm by George Smith

Reading, PA, is now officially the face of poverty in the US. It is of personal interest because it is where DD earned his undergrad degree in biochemistry.

Back then it was a blue collar town anchored by heavy industry, most notably at Carpenter Technology and Kawecki Beryllium, and textile mills.

Reading was also a pretzel, candy and cough drops (Luden’s) manufacturing center. Candy and pretzels remain. It seems those industries cannot be entirely shipped off to China. But remuneration is very poor. (Corporate America has been hard on Luden’s too. It was sold to Hershey, the Great Satan of candy-making, and then to others even less interested. Click the link.)

Everyone knows now that national policies and the very upper class saw to it that this was all destroyed.

Mass unemployment is entrenched in Reading. The jobs that the US economy does create, thanks to compression of wages and the relentless destruction of labor rights, don’t pay enough to make even a reasonable living. Waves of teachers fired at the state level due to the economic collapse now view for jobs that pay minimally.

From the New York Times:

Even for young people with a bachelor’s degree, the economy is making life difficult. Vickie Moll, who runs the day care center, said the number of applications from teachers who have lost their jobs had grown as the waves of budget cuts washed over the state. “We have people in here with bachelor’s degrees making $8 an hour,” she said.

Social services feel the effects, too. The Greater Berks Food Bank — Reading is the Berks County seat — is on track to distribute six million pounds of food this year, up from three and a half million pounds in 2007, said Doug Long, manager of marketing …

And jobs just seem to pay less. Ms. Santiago recently took a temporary job at a candy factory where she had worked more than eight years ago, when she was still in her 20s, before she had completed her associate’s degree. At the time she was making $10.50 an hour. In her most recent stint, her hourly wage was $9.25.

“Eight years ago I said, ‘I don’t want to do this, I have to further my education,’ ” she said. “And now here I am, still packing candy, and making less.”

Taylor Swift, the most famous of young country pop singers, is from Wyomissing, one of the nicer enclaves near the city. As throughout America, poverty is speckled by those adjacent areas where many things still seem just fine.

It is a feature of modern America, one that defines the country. Poverty, almost but not quite hidden amid the greenery. If you choose to you can squint a bit and not see the decay. And it is probably one reason that violent rioting, now overdue, hasn’t yet erupted.

The quality of the recruits lends itself to satire

Posted in War On Terror at 7:18 am by George Smith

The latest story on “homegrown” alleged terrorist Rezwan Ferdaus, aka “Bollywood,” caught in one of the FBI’s fictitious plots reminds DD of the hapless motorcycle gangsters from Clint Eastwood’s Any Which Way You Can.

You can count on the usual terrorism experts to wring their hands and warn balefully about the ingenuity of the perpetrator.

But it’s hard to do anything but smirk at the pictures revealing a plan to bomb the Pentagon with the biggest toy planes the FBI could buy for the fellow.

If you do the arithmetic on the amount of C-4 the government was said to have baited him with, it means Bollywood actually thought he could hurt the Pentagon with 15 pounds of the stuff. (And bring down some bridges with the leftovers.)

The Boeing 757’s used on 9/11 have takeoff weights which range “from 220,000 pounds (99,800 kilograms) up to a maximum of 255,000 pounds.”

Ferdaus was, the newspaper says, someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics from Northeastern.

Hmmm, apparently this did not include contemplating the energy carried by large masses in motion. As contrasted with small ones. (The truth is, and laymen may not know it, is that bachelor’s degrees in the hard sciences in the US don’t usually qualify one for anything other than being someone’s minor lab assistant.)

The problem for al Qaeda remains the low quality of its recruits, whether they’re self-motivated or trained oversees. Despite tactics and inspirational materials spread over the Internet, the cause just isn’t effective at bringing the extremely capable into the fold.

We may see the occasional success here and there but they really do appear to be the exceptions to the rule.

Naturally, you’ll never see this conclusion pushed by our counter-terror experts or in any big newspapers. It creates static for an environment in which the eternal war footing can be maintained.

Now, back to al Qaeda men lending themselves to satire. For that I give you this bit from Any Which Way You Can.

Black Widows gang leader: Why me, Lord? I mean, other men — you made out of clay. My men … you made outta shit.

09.28.11

Cult of EMP Crazy: Scaring old white people as a signal accomplishment

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe at 8:56 am by George Smith

From the newspaper of the Town of Boston, New York, population — six or seven thousand:

In an unrelated matter [at a town board meeting], a resident warned about the potential threat of an electromagnetic pulse, commonly known as an EMP.

“People don’t understand,” said Dolores Schlee of Hywood Drive.

She explained that if a terrorist organization used an EMP against the United States, all electricity would be lost. She recommended reading “One Second After,” a novel by William R. Forstchen about how an EMP would affect the nation.

DD blog has noted it regularly.

One of the benefits of Heritage Foundation robots regularly flogging the threat of electromagnetic pulse doom in the nation’s newspapers — large and small — is the embedding of the mythos of it in the heartland.

The susceptible audience is almost exclusively old white, not particularly well-educated, and Republican. This is not an opinion.

A robot from the Heritage Foundation, on Sunday, in the Austin American Satesman:

Another threat we can’t afford to ignore is an electromagnetic pulse attack. An EMP is produced by a nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude. This underscores the need for missile defense — a ballistic missile is the most effective means of delivering an EMP weapon. A successful attack could decimate America’s electrical infrastructure and cause a catastrophe such as a large urban blackout — or worse.

A missile delivered to produce an EMP wouldn’t have to be launched from 5,000 miles away. Short-range missile can be placed on cargo vessels off the U.S. coast to launch a missile at the homeland (the “Scud-in-the-bucket” scenario).

In 2004, a congressionally mandated commission found that an EMP attack is “one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces.” Five other commissions and major government studies have independently concurred. Despite this, there has been a bipartisan failure to address this threat — and virtual silence from the Obama administration.

A Scud-in-the-bucket EMP strike could be followed by cruise missile attack. A cruise missile could be fitted with a biological or chemical spray unit.


A typical Heritage Foundation snapshot showing its robots diligently working the electromagnetic pulse doom beat.

For at least the last five years, Heritage Foundation flunkies have worked this script, with merciless lack of variation, into the nation’s newspapers. Every three months or so, like clockwork, it’s the same old thing, in news agencies scattered about the land, wherever some bone-headed editor unaware of how many times it has already been published nationwide can be exploited.

And today, from some parrot-like right-wing blog:

It’s bewildering. Pathetic. Frightening. And it seems that the mainstream media avoids talking about it for fear that Americans will panic. Well, Americans ought to be panicking — anything to get them to bang on Congress’s door and force our representatives to immediately act … The disaster I am referring to is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Since it’s a far right hobby-horse for missile defense and bombing Iran, there is also the political component. The socialist Kenyan in the White House is asleep at the switch over the menace:

The [EMP] conference “Standing Up to Ahmadinehad: Military and National Security Policy Experts Call on President Obama to Confront the Iranian Threat” presented the undeniable fact that the Iranian regime is prepared to use its nuclear weapons in the form of an EMP detonation in the skies 70-100 miles above “the great Satan” and to do so without attribution …

All I can say after listening to this panel is that the Obama administration would be much wiser to invest American taxpayer dollars in our national security than it is having issued loans to Solyndra for solar panels! With such a simple solution possible, it is unimaginable that the grave threat of an EMP in America is not being talked about in every news medium …

This is a bit disingenuous. The Cult of EMP Crazy does, in fact, ensure that EMP doom is talked about in every news medium.

It’s just that anyone with even a bit of sense ignores it — like nuisance advertising, spam and pop-up ads on the Internet.


Related:

Cult of EMP Crazy use of catastrophism on stupid white people in the heartland.

Apocalyptic end times predictions, the radical right and the Cult of EMP Crazy.

Cult of EMP Crazy: Scared stupid in the heartland.

Excerpt, a year and a half ago:

One of the more dubious ‘gifts’ of the Cult of EMP Crazy – a richly manipulative group … is the cruel brain haircut it imposes on its lessers. Think of it as a cynical tax on the IQ reserve for the sake of the missile defense/Bomb Iran lobby.

It’s quite the accomplishment. Thanks to the Heritage Foundation’s press machine, GOP voters in a placid place like Lancaster, Pennsylvania, think they have to worry about national collapse …

You’ve frightened a middle-aged woman into preparing for something that has almost zero chance of ever influencing life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with your EMP doom promotional campaign. Job well done!

09.26.11

More whoopie cushion Big C news

Posted in Cancer at 7:39 am by George Smith

David Muir delivered a bog standard news media whoopie cushion last night for ABC. A new imaging technique was said to be a potential “game changer” in cancer treatment.

I flinched again, wondering about the people with cancer who’d see it and get all the implications wrong.

It concerned studies in which scientists at Purdue had come up with a fluorescent technique for dyeing cancer in living tissue, increasing resolution “thirty times.” It’s an order of magnitude but not the breakthrough it was billed as.

The problem is a simple one as lots of people who go through cancer treatment know.

If you’re slated for surgery, the doctors already assume the cancer is more widespread than they can see with whatever imaging they have used. And they take everything they think prudent.

Increasing the resolution only makes the target bigger. And while it may result in some early diagnosed cancers being eradicated, it does not alter the basic outlook for a disease in which one mostly assumes the worst — that somewhere imaging may have missed a microscopic clump of metastatic cells, or even a single one.

This is what happened to my father. Suffering from bladder cancer, he went to Sloan-Kettering in Manhattan. They took just about everything they could out of him. It left him with a hole in his abdominal wall, to be used for the next five years as an outlet.

And at the five year mark, although he’d been scanned and rescanned many times in the intervening period, the cancer returned with a vengeance.

It had been in him, somewhere. Invisible to various techniques, immune to chemotherapy, slow growing until it reached some point at which it began turning over very swiftly. Faced with a terminal diagnosis he went to the Bahamas for a quack cure that had been publicized on 60 Minutes and died there.

As for those who suffer widespread metastatic disease, the kind of diagnosis that all too often presents very late because of lack of symptoms, the method described on ABC does nothing at all. It may give some satisfaction in knowing where more foci of disease are located.

But in widespread disease surgery is no longer a cure.

And such is the case with something like stage IV esophageal cancer.

There is no surgery because the disease is widespread.

Imaging has determined where it is. In the brain, a regimen of radiation therapy — and all that entails — is undertaken.

This is followed by chemotherapy to attack the disease in the rest of the system.

The statistics are grim.

From the wire, a more accurately presented truth:

An explosion of new technologies and treatments for cancer coupled with a rapid rise in cases of the disease worldwide mean cancer care is rapidly becoming unaffordable in many developed countries, oncology experts said on Monday.

With costs ballooning, a radical shift in thinking is needed to ensure fairer access to medicines and address tricky questions like balancing extra months of life for patients against costs of a new drug, technology or care plan, they said.

“The cancer community needs to take responsibility and not accept a sub-standard evidence base and an ethos of very small benefit at whatever cost,” said a report commissioned by the Lancet Oncology medical journal …

The new cancer imaging dye described by David Muir on ABC News Sunday night falls into the category of treatment described in the Reuters piece.

Off for the waiting room of the radiation ward, hoping my friend gets the best from it.

Posting will continue upon return.

09.23.11

The Forever War and its guarantors

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 6:55 am by George Smith

From a monetizing-Homeland-Security publication:

American intelligence officials recently warned that AQAP is actively involved in efforts to produce the deadly poison ricin for use in attacks inside the United States. According to analysts, the poison would likely be packed around small explosive charges that would disperse the deadly toxin on detonation. Ricin is so deadly that even a minute quantity can kill someone if inhaled or otherwise absorbed into the blood stream. But while American intelligence is aggressively pursuing investigation of this threat, it’s severely hampered by the chaos on the ground in Yemen. The virtual collapse of Yemen’s government has allowed Al Qaeda to expand its operations throughout the country …

The truth is, there is no finish line – there is only eternal vigilance.

The tagline: “Charles Faddis is a retired CIA covert operations officer and the former head of the Agency’s WMD terrorism unit.”

The CIA’s WMD terrorism unit? No WMD’s (in their real sense) have been found during the decade of the war on terror. That is ZERO.

“[Faddis] is author of, Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, and, Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion of Homeland Security. His first novel, Codename Aphrodite, which is based on his experiences as a covert operative abroad, was published in June …”

And if you’re wondering why DD has never had a book on the subject, the answer is fairly obvious. In a world where the stuff published is as you see above, of what monetary value is the material found here?

Rhetorical, of course. The only consolation is that you can’t pay regular people enough to make them read the ocean of books like those cited.

09.22.11

The Ted Nugent hunting buddy social safety net

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Extremism, Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent at 8:09 am by George Smith

I’ve written before that Ted Nugent is nothing but a parrot.

When he writes his political screeds for the WaTimes he simply scans for the top extremist GOP/Tea Party talking points and repeats them.

Most of the time this meant taking whatever Glenn Beck said on Fox a few days earlier. With Beck gone, now it’s his Texas favorite, Rick Perry.

In today’s column for the WaTimes, Nugent declares Social Security a Ponzi scheme, over and over, and recommends another Ponzi scheme, one allegedly furnished by a “hunting buddy” in its place:

A hunting buddy of mine proposes the following plan to ultimately eliminate the Social Security congressional slush fund:

Anyone over the age of 45 will receive Social Security. Anyone under the age of 45 will not receive a Social Security check upon retirement. However, those younger than 45 will still be required to pay into Social Security to cover the benefits of those who are 45 or older. What they will get in return is that all of the money they accrue through investing in their 401(k), etc. programs will be tax-free when they retire.

Nugent, protestations to the contrary, is (from evidence gathered over the past couple years from his columns and TV appearances) brainless. It’s a trait which binds him to Rick Perry. They are kindred souls, he’s implied a couple times. And I certainly believe him.

Nugent doesn’t realize or chooses to ignore that for millions of Americans, Social Security is all they have. And that as the nation slides further into its relentless decline with less good paying jobs of any kind, this number is likely to increase.

Therefore millions of Americans, under the “Nugent hunting buddy plan” would still see money being taken out of their paychecks to cover Social Security for elders. But have nothing when they retired.

Which is genuinely a Ponzi scheme, a criminal malpractice. Perhaps that is the entire idea.

From USA Today, in 2005, when times were actually a bit better than now:

Mary Rathbun gets an $809 check every month from Social Security and an additional $100 in food stamps. The 74-year-old former nurse pays $550 in rent for her apartment in St. Helens, Ore. That leaves less than $400 for food, utilities and other expenses, including medical bills.

When Social Security was launched 70 years ago Sunday, it was meant to be a supplement for retirees, not a full pension. But today, 10.6 million people, or 22% of the 48 million who will receive Social Security benefits this year, live on that check alone, the Social Security Administration says.

Living on only Social Security isn’t a happy prospect. It means stretching every dollar, depending on a patchwork of family, charity and state programs to pay for what Social Security doesn’t cover — and sometimes doing without. Those living on nothing but Social Security are often single women and minorities. AARP, the senior advocacy group, says 25% of retired women, including 46% of unmarried Hispanic women, have no income beyond Social Security. AARP also says 33% of retired African-Americans live on Social Security alone.

Those numbers could grow as the baby boom generation enters retirement. Currently, 53% of people in the workforce have no pension, and 32% have no savings set aside for retirement.

Under the “Nugent hunting buddy plan,” homelessness, premature death, hunger and truly destitute poverty among the elderly would explode. You don’t even have to do any arithmetic. The explanation and numbers in the entirety of the USA Today piece would predict a truly appalling future for everyone but the most wealthy and their class of most enthusiastic attendants.

What would you expect in wisdom from a “hunting buddy”? Would you like to live in a country run by the heartwarming charity and homespun country savvy of the “Ted Nugent hunting buddy”?

Partial Total Recall

Posted in Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 7:05 am by George Smith

Unintentional hilarity, from the wire:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is writing a memoir for release in October 2012, according to a statement from Simon & Schuster. Tentatively titled Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, the book will discuss the breakup of his marriage to Maria Shriver in addition to his youth in Austria and his work in bodybuilding, film, and politics. A source told PEOPLE that the book will “not be a tell-all.”

Of course, to really spice the promotion, a record company should immediately release the two Dick Destiny tunes devoted to Arnold’s hobby of bonking and pawing unfortunate women he’s not married to.

Quite unique, they’re the only rock songs, ever, documenting this celebrity sleaze sex action with various famous Arnold movie bon mots .


This is a good rock song and you know it.

“I vould like to vurk you out! Your ass feels to me very stout!” — From “I Think We Should Make a Carla Sandwich”

[The song] is taken from a description in the The Times of an alleged movie set incident in which Schwarzenegger and his stand-in trapped [a stand-in named Carla] next to a food service table. Schwarzenegger supposedly said: ‘I think we should make a Carla sandwich,’ and the men squeezed her between them. After they released [the woman] … Schwarzenegger stuck his tongue in her mouth.”

In the old days — like mebbe forty years ago — Chuck Eddy would write something amusing as a small bit for the next issue of Creem magazine.

09.21.11

Bombing Paupers as Keynsian Jobs Program

Posted in Decline and Fall, War On Terror at 10:36 am by George Smith

Bombing bad fire ants and some poor people in the most impoverished places on the globe, keeping the upper middle and upper class production jobs at General Atomics humming:

The United States is building a ring of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of an aggressive campaign against al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing U.S. officials.

One base for the unmanned aircraft is being established in Ethiopia and another base has been installed in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, the newspaper reported.

A small fleet of “hunter-killer” drones resumed operations in the islands this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned drones could effectively patrol Somalia from there, the report said.

The U.S. military also has flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from bases in the African nation of Djibouti and the CIA is building a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula to deploy drones over Yemen, the article said.

The Empire’s dog feces American innovation and technical supremacy on display, for knuckling a few of the poorest as long as we like, so that the 45 million on food stamps and those who aren’t can allegedly sleep easier.

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