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In Memoriam

[With the 10th anniversary coming this weekend, I want to re-post something I wrote as soon as I returned to my store from the Brooklyn Heights that morning.]

As I walked from teaching in Brooklyn Heights this morning, someone said that one of the World Trade Center towers had collapsed. We had heard the sirens in class; a couple of students discovered through their cell phones that planes had hit the towers, so I knew that a tragedy was in progress. But I refused to believe that either of the towers could collapse.

I walked to the promenade over the East River where it joins the Hudson, where one normally sees a magnificent panorama centering on lower Manhattan. I wanted to prove to myself that both towers still stood.

On Labor Day Speak out: Obama caves and backs tea party myths on clean air

First, Happy Labor Day to all workers, the foundation of this country. 

Second, (I'm excerpting a MoveOn.org mailer, directly) late Friday, President Obama overruled EPA science and blocked crucial new protections against smog pollution that have been years in the making.1

The decision came after a major campaign by corporate polluters and Republicans to kill the rules.2 The result, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is likely to be tens of thousands of premature deaths, as well as increased illness among seniors, kids with asthma, and people who have lung problems.3

Worse, in announcing his decision, President Obama repeated discredited tea party talking points about environmental rules costing jobs. Yet clean air protections are the perfect issue to remind Americans that enforcing rules to protect citizens' health and safety is one of the most important roles for our Government. 

With congressional Republicans planning a series of votes starting this week to block other health and environmental standards, we need to set the record straight, right away.4

Will you write a letter to the editor of your local paper reminding folks that environmental protections like these smog rules protect our health AND strengthen our economy?

Random Japan

Photobucket

BAD MEDICINE
An investigation was launched after it came to light that a man who claimed to be a doctor from a Canadian hospital treated some 250 people in quake-ravaged Miyagi Prefecture without a proper license.

A drug used to treat blood clots killed five people in Japan after causing some nasty side-effects in over 80 patients since March, the Health Ministry said.

Ryohei Yamanaka, 23, a flyhalf for Japan’s national rugby team, accepted a two-year doping ban from the sport’s governing body while continuing to claim his positive test was a result of a cream he used to try to grow a mustache. Yeah right, likely story …

It took 21 reprints, but a million copies were finally printed of an inspirational book by Japan soccer captain Makoto Hasebe called Kokoro o Totonoeru (Maintaining Peace of Mind).

Now this really is amazing. A transparent maze has been set up by Yoko Ono at Yokohama Triennale 2011, an international exhibition of modern art. At the center of the maze is a telephone, which sometimes rings. Lucky visitors who pick up the phone get to hear the voice of Yoko Ono. Hmmm … would that be considered reward or punishment?

A two-year-old boy escaped with a few minor scrapes after falling between a train platform and a stopped Nozomi bullet train onto the tracks at Nagoya Station. A quick-thinker hit the emergency switch and cut power before the train could leave.

Visually impaired people in Japan are apparently “suffering damage to their white canes … due to collisions with cyclists.”

Saturday Morning Open Thread: The Blame Game, xkcd Edition

I'm Sorry
Click to enlarge. Attribution: xkcd.1

With all the back-and-forth blaming of one party or person for things that - realistically - are rather silly or ridiculous, it would certainly be nice for the "comity" of political discourse to be reinforced by actual, factual call-outs and admissions of responsibility.

Of course, then some nutcakes may find a new way to undermine ~that~ concept and start taking responsibility for equally ridiculous things.

Anywho, it's Saturday, 3 September 2011. Comments are open - remember, this is an Open Thread.

Namaste.

 

Only footnote references - and comments - appear over-the-fold.

 

Michael Collins: Gaddafi Jihadist Rehab Program Spawns Rebel Military Leaders


Monday was the day we heard that the "US believes al-Qa'ida is on the verge of defeat after deputy leader's death" as The Independent headlined the story. It stood out as a sequel to the recent United States action in Pakistan, which brought us the news (but not the body) of a dead Osama bin Laden. It appears that a US operated drone killed Al Qaeda's top deputy, one Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan citizen. After decades as a jihadist, Rahman is no more. But is that the end of al Qaeda?

On Tuesday, foreign affairs columnist for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar, published a remarkable column outlining the command structure of the victorious NATO backed military leaders. Abdelhakim Belhaj, the lead commander of the rebels, and the two top regional commanders were once affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LGIF). In fact, commander Belhaj was once the subject of a US led extraordinary rendition (aka torture) in Thailand. About the time the US planned to send Belhaj to Guantanamo Bay, the Gaddafi's government requested his return to Libya.

"I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better"

In George Eliot's Victorian novel Middlemarch, set around 1830, just prior to the queen's ascension to the throne, one of the main characters, Dr. Lydgate, comments:

In this stupid world most people never consider that a thing is good to be done unless it is done by their own set.

180 years later, and things haven't changed a bit.

U.S. Energy Companies Blow up Appalachian Mountaintops in Search of Coal

bumped - luaptifer

As U.S. energy companies blow up Appalachian mountaintops in search of coal, the nation’s lawmakers yawn with indifference.

By Donald R. Soeken, Ph.D., and Tom Nugent

“West Virginia is the template for what happens when corporations take over democracy.” blew up a mountain in the Berkshires or the Catskills or California or Utah, you would go to jail or a place for the criminally insane. --Environmental Activist Robert Kennedy, Jr.

 

Charleston, W. Va. – Ever wondered what would happen if an invading power suddenly attacked the gorgeous, summer-green mountains of Appalachia with massive bombs that together equaled the explosive power of the Hiroshima A-bomb, each and every week?

Amazingly enough, that stark scenario is happening right now in West Virginia, with hardly a whimper of protest from federal government regulators or the state politicians in Charleston.

During the past ten years, in fact, mountaintops all across Appalachia have been blowing up one after another, creating rock-strewn “moonscapes” which now include more square miles than those contained in the entire State of Delaware.

Fact: As of July 1, 2011, more than 500 Appalachian mountaintops have been destroyed by these bombers . . . who are now using more than 3 million pounds of explosives each day in West Virginia alone.

An environmental catastrophe? You bet it is. Hour by hour and day by day, we’re witnessing the ongoing destruction of our oldest and perhaps most beautiful mountain chain. And yet most of our politicians – along with most of our news media – seem to be totally unconcerned about the bombing campaign against America.

Maybe that’s because the “invading powers” now blasting away at the steep ridgelines of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky aren’t foreign countries, after all.

They’re actually giant U.S. energy companies – hugely powerful industries that long ago became accustomed to dictating energy policy in Washington D.C. and in the state capitals of Appalachia.

How bad is the wholesale destruction now being caused by the ruthless bombing-and-digging technique known as “mountaintop removal mining,” all across the once-forested and once-life-abundant region that was America’s first frontier?

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Six In The Morning

On Sunday

10 dead as Hurricane Irene churns up Atlantic
Winds begin to blast Northeast; storm downs trees, leaves millions without power
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
A weakened but still dangerous Hurricane Irene shut down New York and menaced other cities more accustomed to snowstorms than tropical storms as it steamed up the East Coast, unloading a foot of rain on North Carolina and Virginia and knocking out power to 2 million homes and businesses. At least 10 people were dead early Sunday.
By early Sunday, the storm had sustained winds of 80 mph, down from 100 mph on Friday. That made it a Category 1, the least threatening on a 1-to-5 scale, and barely stronger than a tropical storm.
Nevertheless, it was still considered highly dangerous, capable of causing ruinous flooding across much of the East Coast with a combination of storm surge, high tides and six inches to a foot of rain.

Goldman Sachs targeted as 'Jaws' joins battle over banking crash
Adrift in a sea of lawsuits as shareholders sue for millions, the bank is a soft target for mocking critics
Paul Harris in New York
The Observer, Sunday 28 August 2011

He is known as"Jaws", the perfect nickname for a lawyer entangled in a lawsuit filed against a massive investment bank that has been dubbed a "vampire squid" by its critics. But Jacob Zamansky, a renowned Wall Street defender of the little guy, with a record of extracting large settlements from giant firms, does not fear the tough reputation of Goldman Sachs.

Indeed, he is happy to be helping on a class-action lawsuit against the bank taken out on behalf of a group of shareholders seeking millions of dollars in damages for alleged illegal behaviour. "Goldman misled these investors. So they came to me," Zamansky said.

Northeast Coast Irene Watch: Hurricane Irene heads north (Open Thread)

Northeast states are bracing for Irene's passing this weekend: if you're in the path (or skirting the path) of the hurricane, what's going on near you?

What are the skies like? How's the relative humidity? Are the local animals doing anything out of the ordinary (domestic as well as wild)?

Any overt signs manifesting in the local flora or fauna?

Let us know in comments: tell us your approximate location (Central MA, Rhode Island, MA East Coast, Southern NH, Eastern or Western CT, Manhattan, New York City, etc.) and then tell us what you're seeing. If you can make an update every few hours (electricity & weather permitting), it would help us paint a picture of the storm's passing.

Regardless, please stay safe. If there are any elderly or disabled folks in your area, check in on them or invite them over - be a good neighbor, and help those who may have a rougher time of it.

Thank you, and be safe.

 

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Union of Concerned Scientists: Defending Science at the EPA

The following is an appeal I received from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which I obviously support:
Dear UCS Supporter,

During the Bush administration, the White House worked to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from protecting us from formaldehyde pollution, smog, and global warming. In fact, White House officials secretly manipulated or suppressed EPA scientific analysis on each of these issues and many others.

And we all suffered for it.

N

The Problem with Alzheimer's Disease

Originally posted to Her Final Year on August 24, 2011 by John
Reprinted with permission, with a few small adjustments.

Alzheimer's Disease isn't fickle. It doesn't target just one demographic: it doesn't care how well you're doing financially, or if you're popular, or what color you paint your toe nails or if you're hairy or hairless. Anyone may find themselves either a victim or a potential care-giver.1

Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer's Disease; now WaPo is reporting that Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia:2

Three months ago, Summitt, 59, the blaze-eyed, clench-fisted University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach who has won more games than any other college coach ever, men’s or women’s, visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. seeking an explanation for a troubling series of memory lapses over the past year. A woman who was always highly organized had to ask repeatedly what time a team meeting was scheduled for. "She lost her keys three times a day instead of once," her son Tyler says. She was late to practice. On occasion, she simply stayed in bed.

There are tests which help doctors determine the type - and stage - of dementia. For some folks, these tests make sense. For others, they may be misleading. Such was the case with Summitt, according to her son. Per the WaPo piece:

Next, she was asked, “Do you know today’s date?” She has never known the date. She deals with dates strictly on a need to know basis. Frequently, she doesn’t even known the name of her hotel — there have been so many of them, and they all look the same, and they are all called Radisson or Clarion or Hyatt or Hilton.

This has always been Summitt. She has always mislaid her car keys and forgotten where she put her cellphone. She has always juggled too many responsibilities, and obligations. For this reason, the numbers from her test results are somewhat misleading, according to her son.

When I was the primary care-giver for my mother-in-law, I also noted that the tests (sometimes as simple as asking someone if they remembered a person's name only a few minutes after being introduced) were not fool-proof:3

Part and parcel with spending more time with Georgia by her on the occasional consulting appointment and running errands with her was that we established a better understanding of each other. One of the perks of this was helping her cope with her memory and mental lapses. I encouraged Georgia with clues and triggers to help her remember things like names. The neurologist's name -- "Dr. Penny" -- was one example. I placed a penny in Georgia's hand while we waited for him, after the second time she asked me his name. A minute or so later, I asked her the doctor's name. She looked at the penny in her hand and smiled. "Dr. Penny," she replied with a grin. When he entered, she didn't need to look at her hand. In fact, I think she'd pocketed the penny by that point. But she did remember his name.

This was one of those doubled-edged sword things. The blade cuts both ways -- my helpful "hint" to Georgia to help her alleviate the stress of not remembering the doctor's name and help her feel more at ease likely factored into the doctor's evaluation, as from his perspective Georgia was able to recall his name w/o assistance.

I didn't really think of that at the time.

Continuation of this thought... Folks suffering from dementia, particularly in the early stages, do a lot to try and compensate as well as hide their affliction. Caregivers, in spite of the best of intentions, may be enabling a form of denial in some ways -- that was the thought I was trying to articulate above, wondering if my assistance to Georgia to help her with the doctor's name was just one way of potentially helping her hide her symptoms, even though it was also a positive reinforcement of my role / relationship with her as caregiver/protector/assistant etc.

Sometimes, in our efforts to be helpful, we may thwart some of the simpler yet rudimentary tests that doctors use to establish the parameters necessary for a diagnosis.

It's one of the additionally frustrating things about finding oneself in a care-giving role: can your efforts to help the loved one also impact - possibly negatively - the ability of doctors to develop an accurate medical picture in order to make a proper diagnosis?

A crucial factor that goes hand-in-hand with this is the issue of communication. Not just between doctors and care-givers, but also doctors and patients, patients and care-givers, and all of the preceding in various combinations as they need to communicate with family, friends, legal assistance and social workers or state & federal employees.

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"Breaking" or Broken?

In 1972, I spent a summer as a copyboy for The New York Times, working nightside in the newsroom.  Often, after the Late City edition was out, there wouldn’t be that much to do, not unless the bells on the news-service printers at one end of the room started ringing.  They alerted us that something significant had occurred, something important enough that a decision might be made to stop the presses for an update to the edition.  This happened often: we had plane hijackings, the shooting of George Wallace, and a number of other events that (among other things) gained me valuable overtime when they were not resolved until the wee hours of the morning.

Book Marketing: Participation 101

Crossposted from Daily Kos.

As many of you know, Shadan7 and I co-authored a book called Her Final Year: A Care-Giving Memoir along with our wives. It contained many excerpts and elements of the care-giving process as we'd related it here in addition to a great deal more information taken from various & sundry other sources (emails to family, online LiveJournal posts, other blog posts and personal journal entries). After writing the book, we then had to figure out how to get it to market: the traditional way (find an agent or publisher via query letter) or the "new" traditional way (self-publishing, utilizing some form of e-book and/or POD publisher). Here's a brief overview of what we have done to date, the decision process involved and our current status.

In addition, we've also got a way for those of you who'd like to get a free copy of the book to take a shot at winning a copy for yourself and a friend.

Follow me over the squiggly thing for more information.

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