B.C.’s Cure for the Common Cold

. Tuesday, December 29



There’s another major shift on the horizon, this time for broadcast television. This particular shift will mean yet another gouge into news coverage at the local level. Not liking this a bit, I predict we’ll all be living blind – and helpless to have any impact or voice in anything before it’s all said and done.

If only things were so simple. If only it took soaking your frozen feet in a well-intended brew…

Jobless Rate “New Abnormal” Normal

. Monday, December 28

So says David Levy of Jerome Levy Forecasting Center. We are now facing a “new era of chronically high unemployment, averaging 8 percent or more over the next decade.

With the jobless rate holding a steady 10 percent, the number of unemployed is now standing at 15.4 million, according to MSNBC, and it will take until 2015 for the rate to drop back down to the “historically normal” 5.5 percent.

Not saying it out loud, the feeling is that this is “the deepest and most enduring recession since the 1930s has battered America's work force.”

With a loud snort of snarky indignance, this whole shaky picture is only aimed at the fate of the middle class, now shrinking into the oh-so-pitiful lower class. Incomes are at a standstill. Employers are now used to squeezing more out of their workforce and have no interest in hiring to fill cut positions again or give raises when there are so many people standing in a long line outside their doors just begging for a job.

What’s also not said is just how sharply working conditions have worsened, seeing as how productivity is so up that employers don’t need to hire.  If they do hire, they will hire part time with no benefits or out-source to an off-shore service entirely.

Well folks, this is proof that the Trickle-Down theory works. Too bad you couldn’t say that when the economy was “good.”

Come on.  If you’re going to blow sunshine up my backside, at least weed out the clouds. We’re just not as dumb as we’re taken to be.

A Molecule to ‘Make it So’

. Sunday, December 27

molecular-transistor-264x300 After years and years of watching all versions released of Star Trek, I never once caught a glimpse of the “computer core” that was mentioned now and then. There was no doubt that the Enterprise’s computer was powerful - what with voice recognition, transporters, holodeck projections and warp speed - but I guess the creators felt that power too massive to try to depict, or even imagine.

Admittedly, the technology presented on Star Trek is the limit of my actual scientific knowledge, that the original series aired during the time of vacuum tube resistors and transistors underscores Gene Rodenberry’s foresight in real-world advances.

Silicon brought technology closer to Rodenberry’s vision, but still left miles to go before “beam me up, Scotty” could ever come close to reality. While I now had a desktop computer, it was a far cry from having enough power to even create the show’s digitally crafted opening sequence. Bummer.

Today, science has given us the next step toward functional nanomachines with the promise of exponentially more computing power than what exists now. This advance takes the form of a single molecule of benzene that can be manipulated with varying voltage to control the current passing through it.

Yes, the next step has happened. Now, I must add, “Make it so.”

Video Cams in Bathrooms at Wal-Mart

. Saturday, December 26


ABCNews reports that employees at an Easton, PA Wal-Mart store filed a case on Dec 21 for illegal surveillance of customers and employees via an off-the-shelf video camera placed in a unisex bathroom/changing room in the Tire and Lube department.

Wal-Mart denied knowledge of the camera and fired two loss-prevention employees for installing it. Three of the complaining employees were fired, one quit, and three others remain.

This is yet another example of how the world’s largest retailer can do whatever they want. It is no surprise, and just another notch on the growing list of uncivil and inhuman its practices and policies have become.

I’ve heard it said a million times: “Sam Walton would turn over in his grave if he knew what his store has become.”

Where Your Tax Money Really Goes

. Wednesday, December 23

Feast your eyes on the Obamas’ Winter White House. This gorgeous Hawaiian get-away rents for an unbelievable $4,000 per night. That price doesn’t include the cost of paying all the Secret Service and other security that this little “vacation escape” is going to need just because.

Just imagine the steam blowing out of my ears when I see this little ‘news’ tidbit after reading a smoke-blowing headline about Geithner seeing US job growth by spring.

That decadent get-away costs for one night what it takes me over two months to earn, and there are 90% more earners like me than there are those that can afford something like this.

Now, don’t waste my time by telling me that Obama knows or understands or can relate to what the majority of us experience on a daily basis.

As far as job growth looking up by spring…  I sure hope it does because that’s about the time that all extensions on unemployment benefits are scheduled to be cut.

So, send the President on vacation while he bites the hands that feed him.

Beyond Afghanistan and into Yemen

. Saturday, December 19


ABC News this morning is flaunting an exclusive report that President Obama ordered attacks Thursday on two sites in Yemen. Apparently, the two sites were known to be al Qaeda training and planning centers.

While this is a bit of a surprise, the introduction of yet another country in our current war, the report points to a quote from the President’s speech about troop escalation in Afghanistan as a clue to the US participation in the attacks:

"Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships."

The particular attacks were planned and executed by the Yemen government. Supposed intelligence points to Yemen as the current location of al Qaeda key people.

This raises several questions: Can we maintain a strong yet geographically diverse military presence the world over? Is it possible to thwart al Qaeda’s mission when its resources seem to be so limitless? How much credence can we give to an “exclusive” report by one news agency?

The truth is out there, somewhere, but who knows where.

Inbox: From the Right

. Wednesday, December 16


I just had to share what I found in my Inbox this morning! That’s one side of the argument, right? Now, in all fairness, is there anything circulating that so clearly illustrates the left’s side?

By the way, I position myself in a good place to observe both sides, right there in the middle. In other words, this does not represent my own views. But, it sure was good for a laugh!

Poor Children Prescribed ‘Off-Label’ Antipsychotics More Often

. Saturday, December 12

The New York Times this morning reports that children aged 6 to 17 on Medicaid are four times more likely to be prescribed powerful antipsychotic drugs than their middle-class counterparts covered under private health insurance.

The antipsychotic drugs approved to treat schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder are now given to Medicaid children with far less severe conditions such as ADHD, aggression, persistent defiance and other conduct disorders. There have been no long term studies of the drugs’ effects when used for such conditions. What is known is that the drugs’ side effects can be drastic weight gain and metabolic changes such as heart conditions that result in life-long physical problems.

While poverty itself may contribute to higher incidences of mental health problems (single-parent homes, poorer schools, no access to preventive care, higher incidences of familial mental health issues, etc.), too often, the children are mis-diagnosed and treated by general practitioners.

While much of the disparity in treatment trends between poor and middle class children may be the direct result of low and restricted Medicaid reimbursements, treating ‘off-label’ conditions with drugs is due to the perception of doctors that poor people won’t or can’t participate in counseling or therapy sessions even when available.

The antipsychotic drugs prescribed for children are the biggest drug expenditure for Medicaid.

Stars Charged With Animal Cruelty

. Sunday, December 6


I don’t get it. "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here,” a reality show filming in the Australian Outback, requires animal welfare officers on the set during filming if any animals are used. Officers were absent during one episode of the British TV show in which two of the actors cooked and ate a rat.

Chef Gino D’Acampo and Stuart Manning were charged with animal cruelty as a result and are facing up to three years in prison.

“The killing of a rat for a performance is not acceptable. The concern is this was done purely for the cameras," David O'Shannessy from the New South Wales RSPCA.

It kind of makes moot the term “reality show,” doesn’t it? By the way, the photo is of Lou Diamond Phillips, the season’s winner.

I really don’t get it. That’s understandable since I don’t watch TV at all. With programming like this, I’m not missing a thing.

Inbox: Darwin Awards

. Friday, December 4

I just received the latest email circulating about the fabled Darwin Awards. These awards are supposedly given to “those who died in the stupidest manner, thereby removing themselves from the gene pool.” No, this is not confirmed, and the email notes the source of this story as the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the largest newspaper in the state. Here’s this year’s winner:

Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County Deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. 

Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a frog catching trip.  On an overcast Sunday night, Pooles pickup truck headlights malfunctioned.  The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out.  As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed that the 22 caliber bullets from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering-wheel column.  Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly,  and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge .  

After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole  in the testicles. The vehicle swerved sharply right, exiting the pavement, and striking a tree.   Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles which will never operate again as intended.

Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. "Thank God we weren't on that bridge when Thurston shot his balls off, or we might both be dead," stated Wallis.

"I've been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me.  I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder.  

Upon being notified  of the wreck, Lavinia ( Poole 's wife) asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck.  Priorities, after all!

Though Poole and Wallis  did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole did, in fact, effectively remove himself from the gene pool.

Online, You are Really You

. Thursday, December 3


If Time says it’s so, then it must be so. Today, an article proclaims that most people assume that people using online social forums go out of their way to portray themselves as something that they are not. It’s even logical, in their assuming way, to infer that people will choose the most attractive photos of themselves, post only “pithy and clever” thoughts and choose only books and movies that make them seem sophisticated.

To Time’s surprise, the results of a study – however questionable and limited it was – done by psychologist Sam Gosling found that 236 college students’ Facebook profiles were as consistent with the personality questionnaires they completed. In other words, Gosling says that online profiles are accurate depictions of each person’s actual personality. He noted that those who tried to present an “idealized version” of themselves failed miserably. Yep, a ‘real world’ jerk is a jerk online too.

It’s interesting to note the recent surge in studies and articles about the positive aspects of online social networking. Not so long ago, all we heard about were psycho mothers causing teen suicide and pedophiles using networks to entrap their next victims. It’s another faulty assumption to think that all the deviants have lost their knack of presenting themselves as angels in disguise.

I’ll believe otherwise only when a study is done on a far more representative sample, and a demography other than college students who, by the way, are more akin to aliens from outer space than the general population.