Bush's Castration

. Tuesday, December 30

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for Bush's 2004 campaign, told reporters yesterday that it was Katrina that broke the president's bond with the American people and toppled the bully out of him when he watched his own government flounder in response to the hurricane. Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director claims Katrina was the final nail in the political coffin. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Colin Powel, compares Bush to Sarah Palin and says that he was a "personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum." These comments are part of a Vanity Fair oral history of the Bush White House for its Feb. edition that comes out on Jan. 6. Surprisingly, this story hit the wires yesterday and is still within the top 10 AP stories today.

Meanwhile, Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi shoe throwing journalist, is enjoying world fame from behind bars while awaiting trial for the charges of "aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit." Mrs. Bush last week popped out of the woodwork long enough to declare the incident an attack on her husband. Starkly taking a different point of view, US activists say that to prosecute al-Zaidi would increase anti-American sentiments, so the incident should be treated as civil disobedience instead.

Ideally, the media exists and functions for the people by acting as the government's watchdog. To release such a damning "history" now, well before the inauguration of the next president, is a very large example of one of the reasons Islamic extremists despise Western ways. Outside the camp of Islam is the Arabic cultural tenet of pride and insult, and once again, the last laugh is on Americans. Al-Zaidi knew very well what he was doing when he launched his shoes and expects to pay the price. In all likelihood, he would be shunned far more if left unpunished for his act of "grave insult," and Bush would not be absolved from his shame.

This lame duck president is now tarred and feathered and de-nutted in ways far worse than his own actions could ever do. If Bush was so pitiful to begin with, why was he elected for a second term? Be careful what you wish for, or you just might get it.

Insurers Must Now Include Full Mental Health Coverage

. Saturday, December 27

In Time's list of Top 10 Underreported Stories of 2008, there's this little gem that floated under the radar:
Buried in October's financial bailout package was a landmark provision, 12 years in the making, that for the first time requires insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental and physical health. Bipartisan advocates say the new law could improve care — and reduce stigma — for the 80 million Americans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. Many insurers largely favor the requirement, in part because research suggests a strong link between conditions such as untreated depression and physical ailments.
This is good news! Not only can the untreated get much needed treatment, the returning soldiers can seek treatment. This will also increase referrers to mental health professionals above and beyond the 10-point checklist that most GPs use to diagnose and treat mental illnesses presented during office visits.

My question is, why the hell did it take them so long to figure out that there is a mind/body connection? Why does it take legislation and laws to convince greedy bastards to do what is right?

(Why ask why, right?)

Spirituality Shows in Brain Imaging

. Thursday, December 25

Researcher Brick Johnstone of Missouri University has simplified the confusing, too broad results of previous studies that attempted to define areas of the brain that reflect an individual's level of spirituality. It seems that it was impossible to determine whether a person's brain was reacting to verse or spiritual experience. Johnstone returned to studying brain injured patients and looked for brain region activity and patients' self-reported level of spirituality.

At the root of Johnstone's finding, those that reported higher levels of spirituality had less active right parietal lobes, the center of the brain that he calls the Me-Definer. Psychologically, this means less selfishness and less focus on the self, with more focus on others.

"If you look in the Torah, the Old Testament, the New Testament, in the Koran, a lot of Sufi writings, Buddhist writings, and Hindu writings, they all talk about selflessness," said Johnstone.

What's Under Your Tree?

. Tuesday, December 23

Hey, I'm not the only one!

17 is Now 18 in Rogers, AR

. Friday, December 19

Meet the Duggar family of Rogers, Arkansas. Jim Bob (I'm not making that up!) and. Michelle Duggar gave birth to Jordyn-Grace Makiya Duggar on Thursday, bringing the total number of children up to 18, ranging in ages newborn to 20.  Here's the list: Joshua, 20; Jana, 18; John-David, 18; Jill, 17; Jessa, 16; Jinger, 14; Joseph, 13; Josiah, 12; Joy-Anna, 11; Jeremiah, 9; Jedidiah, 9; Jason, 8; James, 7; Justin, 6; Jackson, 4; Johannah, 3; and Jennifer, 1.

The family has a show on TLC called "17 Kids and Counting," which will air the delivery of Jordyn's birth by C-section. And I guess that answers the question of how ol' Jim Bob feeds his family.

Wanna bet they keep going?

The Real Cleopatra

. Thursday, December 18

Egyptologist Sally Ann Ashton spent more than a year researching images and descriptions to piece together a 3D image of Cleopatra. Facial details were extracted from 2,000 year old walls, coins and other artifacts. Not white skinned, the young beauty was of mixed ethnicity, of Greek and Egyptian decent. This image will be used in an upcoming BBC documentary.

Parents Wonder Why Adolph Hitler is Refused Cake

. Wednesday, December 17

What's in a name? Well, let's ask 3 year old Adolph Hitler Campbell in 10 years. He made the news today because a grocery store refused to decorate a birthday cake with "Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler," and it's not the first time that this particular store denied this family's requests for cakes decorated questionably with things like swastikas. Heath and Deborah Campbell have two younger children as well: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April. Daddy Heath told reporters that "he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently." Well, I hope so, Heath, because your claim of "A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did" doesn't quite explain your choice of names. With a white supremest father, who knows what little Adolph Hitler will become.

Unpopularity for Bush at Size 10

. Monday, December 15

A surprise and in secret, President Bush took a trip to Iraq to boast of his accomplishments there. Whatever it was that he said, it infuriated an Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zeidi, who threw both of his size 10 shoes at Bush. He yelled, "This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Iraqi TV has aired the incident over and over today, with the result of people taking to the streets to chant, "Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head." In Iraq, to throw shoes at someone is a grave insult and show of contempt. Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seems less than surprised, and watched as his guards wrangled and hauled the reporter off for questioning, leaving a trail of blood on the floor.

Leave it to the commander in chief to put the remaining 150,000 soldiers in Iraq at risk by increasing tension. This 'farewell tour' was yet another Bush blunder. His response, "I'm good at ducking."

Over a Thousand Extinct Species Found


This is a Gumprechts green pitviper found in Thailand. It is one of over 1,000 new species found in rainforests and wetlands along the Mekong River, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. Scientists found 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, four birds, four turtles, two salamanders and a toad, all previously thought extinct.

Now I know what I want for Christmas! He's cute!

Inbox: Toyota vs Ford

. Sunday, December 14

This came to my Inbox today. Author is unknown, but he speaks wisely.

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (Ford) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents, and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners, and free pens for the rower There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India.

Sadly, The End.

Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages.

Toyota has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US. The last quarter's results:

Toyota makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

If this weren't true, it might be funny.

When Less is More, Lots More

. Saturday, December 13

I saw this photo and thought, "great, now techies are reviewing dentist chairs too." Of course it sent a shiver down my spine. Back in the 1960s, my old dentist's exam chair looked just like this one. It just goes to prove that you never can tell when something will pop up to send you back into childhood nightmares.

This is called the Freedom chair, made by Humanscale. It is marketed as lightweight due to the lack of adjustment handles and levers, and because it has a headrest. It's also supposed to be comfortable and stylish and intuitive. I'll just have to take their word for it.

When a product trumpets "it doesn't have this and it doesn't have that," I assume that, because it lacks all of those this and thats, it will be less expensive. Less goes in, so it should cost less. Right? Think again. The price range on this chair runs from $1,180 to $2,750.

The Demise of Twinkies and Wonder Bread?

. Thursday, December 11

There's just certain things you're better off not knowing how they are made, if you know what I mean. Do you see anything, um, missing from this photo of Twinkies in the packaging phase?

Well, I do. No rubber gloves! My stomach does a bit of a lurch at the thought of eating food someone else has touched. I'm not squeamish, but I do have my limits.

Interstate Bakeries, the makers of Hostess brand snack foods and Wonder Bread declared bankruptcy four years ago, and last week, a judge approved a reorganization plan in an attempt to save 22,000 jobs. Do we chalk this one up to yet another casualty of the recession/depression?

Nope. Over the years, Interstate has shied away from using "real" ingredients in their products and used more and more chemicals. Not only is it offensive to the taste buds, but as more people become diet and health conscious, sales have taken a dive. Now they're wondering if a return to former recipes would revive the very well known brand names, or if consumers will always, unforgivably, relate chemicals to Hostess and Wonder Bread.

It's no surprise that parallels are being drawn between Twinkies and the American auto industry. Both need to wake up and get with the times.

Different Ways to Make Money

. Monday, December 8

Meet Desire Henriksen of Phoenix, Arizona. Not wanting to fall so behind in her house payments that she become yet another statistic of the times, she got creative.  She told CNN that she sold her hair.

You can too at HairTrader.com and Hairwork.com. Longer, untreated hair bring the most money, anywhere from $300 to $900.

If you don't have the hair, how about becoming a professional lab rat? Try Just Another Lab Rat for tips and tricks. Paul Clough made $28,000 this year doing 7 clinical studies. The tough part? Reactions to the trial medications.

If that doesn't float your boat either, you can sell the jewelry you have hanging around. Throw a Gold Exchange party and see what that old junk is worth. An old shoebox filled with costume jewelry just might get you $350.

These ideas are all fine and dandy, but once something is sold, it's gone. But, I just might check out that lab rat thing myself. I'm sure there are more viable, legal alternatives than what CNN suggests, isn't there?

Youth Unrealistic in a Counterfeit World

. Sunday, December 7

Meet Dr. Jeffrey Life of the Cenegenics Medical Institute in Las Vegas who will turn 70 on Dec. 25. In this photo, he is 67 and it serves as an ad for the Institute's specialization of "age management." His regimen - exercise, eating right, and injections of growth hormones and testosterone.

Social pressure and the resulting lack of self-esteem drives thriving industries such as weight-loss fads, herbal remedies, cosmetic surgery to restore youth or delay aging. Coupled with the increasing trend in articles screaming that too many of us are obese and unhealthy and you've hit the motherlode. Society demands youth, a completely unrealistic ideal. We all age! Get over it already.

I would like to know why no one wants the truth of the matter. How are we supposed to be slim and healthy when all the foods available for purchase are bastardized beyond recognition? Processed, purified, homogenized, additives added, hormones, antibiotics, manufactured, mass produced, genetically altered, sweetened, salted beyond belief... It's a wonder our bodies work at all.

I have one word for this photo and the good doctor's ideal body: Yuck! It's as counterfeit as our diet.

FDA Halts Import of 30 Generic Drugs from India

. Friday, December 5

US News ran a story today called "Generics: Cheaper, but Not Identical," written by Bernadine Healy MD who cited a Harvard study of 47 articles about generic drug studies that found the generic versions bioequivalent, then noted that a great majority of the drug studies were supported by generic drug companies. The concern arises from generic drugs manufactured in cheap labor and overhead countries like India and China, already involved in scandal over contaminated heparin that caused deadly allergic reactions in the US.

The Government Accountability Office reports that foreign companies escape FDA testing, documentation and monitoring, yet the problem has been swept aside as more companies in China ramp up generic drug production. Not specifying dates of when the GAO report was released, it said that the FDA halted the import of 30 generic drugs from Ranbaxy Laboratories in India (pictured above). The list includes simvastatin, pravastatin, clarithromycin, lamivudine, zidovudine, metformin and penicillin. Of the drugs listed, the FDA kept one antiviral off the list that is important to AIDS treatment, saying the US would suffer a shortage of the drug if import was halted. Healy states her concern thusly:
As China, India, and other countries with cheap labor compete to take up more of U.S. drug manufacturing, will quality and regulatory standards, which make domestic production of lifesaving drugs more costly, be held hostage by a foreign company that controls so much of the market it can tell our government to take a hike?
Healy calls for quality control of imported drugs in the form of random inspection and labels that identify the country of manufacture.

Call me gullible, but I have always thought that drugs sold at a pharmacy as prescribed by a medical doctor were far more potent, effective, monitored, rigorously tested, etc. I was naive enough to think that the reason you can only buy certain drugs over-the-counter was to prevent overmedication and addiction, yet I never understood the need to require a prescription for Tylenol or broad spectrum antibiotics. Besides, any doctor I've ever seen never batted an eye about whether any script I had was filled with name or generic drugs. Insurance demands the generic anyway. Still, that the drugs came from a pharmacy seemed to guarantee quality and effectiveness. My wallet demands the purchase of generic OTC drugs as well, whether I doubt their quality or not.

This very well may be just the tip of an iceberg. Like the tobacco industries and the anti-tobacco factions illustrate very different study results to the point where it's impossible to glean the truth, drug makers are proving they learned from the best and perfected the practice of deniability. But, drug manufacturers are "untouchable" way beyond the scope of tobacco's standing as a major US industry. In the end, it's the consumers who pay with their lives again.

Michelle Not Getting Ring After Leak to Media

. Tuesday, December 2

Follow along with me and I'll walk you through a chain of events. This morning, a friend of mind explodes in a fit of rage as she's watching Fox News on TV. In a short, flippant story she sees, Obama was reported to be buying his wife a $30,000 ring for helping him win the presidency. My friend is enraged that Obama would blatantly flaunt his abundant wealth in the face of a great many people facing foreclosure, loss of jobs, worry about feeding kids with a ring priced for more than the average yearly wage in Arkansas. She said the only thing the news anchors said was, "well, it's not a surprise now." She's not the only enraged person commenting on the Internet as many others had the same reaction to this frivolous gift from a man who called himself "one of us" to win the election.

Sifting through AP, Reuters, AFP, NPR and Christian Science Monitor, I find nothing about this story. In the meantime, on another call with my friend, I have her look at Fox News too. Lo and behold, though they aired the story this morning, there is nothing on their news site about it. Digging a bit deeper, it turns out that the London Daily Mail broke the story, which was picked up by the Drudge Report, which is also aired on Fox News. (I did not verify Drudge Report or Fox News myself.)

At 6:42 p.m., the Daily Mail Online released a story in retraction after the AP released a Fact Check that said an Obama spokesman denied it, the jeweler denied it and it was all because of the Drudge Report that the story hit the waves.

Tommy Christopher, from AOL News, did his own fact check. He contacted the Obama Press Office and was told, "The story is not true, there is no $30,000.00 ring." And, when he contacted the jeweler Bosco Giovanni, his spokesman replied back with this:
I regret to inform you that because of reports so wrong and clearly different from the reality of our statements, we decided to not issue statement on this matter.

Unfortunately, we were negatively affected by read on national and foreign media news stories that have no basement[sic], and in excess of the objective reality.

I inform you that we have no intention to disseminate more information about this story.

In the 'retraction' story the Daily Mail ran, it said Mr Giovanni himself told them that "Our agent in the United States was asked by Mr Barack Obama about the ring because he wants it as a thank you gift for his wife Michelle for her support the last two years."

The ring in question is called The Harmony Ring that is made from black gold (rhodium) and chipped diamonds. Ordering one now would mean a rush on the production of such a ring, but the jeweler would have it ready by Jan. 20 for Obama to present to his wife on Inauguration Day.

What strikes me about all this is that there is no denial that Obama contacted the jeweler's US agent. There is no mention of whether an order for the ring was placed. Now, having the story break in London first and mysteriously absent from US news sources has me wondering, especially since Fox News took the jump and aired it this morning then made it disappear by this afternoon.

It appears as though someone, something wants Obama protected from the media in a bad way. Even before taking office, he's gone way beyond a cigar and wet spot that got the last Democrat president impeached, and many times over. I say, follow the money trail. Besides, that's one fugly ring.

BC Today


by Johnny Hart

Altered Peanuts and People

. Monday, December 1

Though not completely allergen free, what you see on the left are genetically modified peanuts that 'silence' two of the genes responsible for the most fatal allergic reactions to food in the US. On the right are wild peanuts. Horticulturists at the University of Georgia shot a customized DNA sequence into peanut plants that then caused the RNA to halt production of two of the proteins known to cause reactions. As one commenter pointed out, the story is filled with "may be," "should," "could," "it's possible" and other such words we reporters use to cover our asses. Moms, your peanut allergic kids will still be waiting quite awhile to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich since it takes years to test the consequences of genetic alterations.

On Dec. 1, 1953, the headline read "Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty" to announce the first sex change operation with HRT as part of the change procedures. The first photo is of George Jorgenson in 1943 and he was soon drafted into the Army after WWII. The second photo is the one George, now Christine, sent back to his family in 1953, no longer a woman trapped in a man's body. The last photo is Christine at age 50. Christine became a publicity hound, was a lounge singer then a transgender lecturer and died of cancer in 1989 after a lifetime of ridicule, disappointments and cruel jokes.