The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
 
 
Monday, September 28, 2009
Current Affairs ... Politics ...

When you’re a teenager, you may hear lectures from civics teachers and other adults telling you that it will be your responsibility as an adult American citizen to become familiar with the great issues facing our nation and to express your opinion on them through voting, writing your representatives, speaking at townhall meetings, etc. But how many adults actually do this? In 2008, the year of Obama, 56.8% of the adult population voted, the highest percentage since 1968. That’s good, but it’s still not that much more than half-and-half.

As to townhall meetings, they made a comeback this past summer amidst the health care debate. But in reality, townhall debates are mostly a footnote to the overall political process in our country. The summer townhall discussions on health care were an interesting side show, a welcome news item for the media during the summer news lul. But in the end they didn’t amount to much more than a rodeo clown along side the bulls and cowboys of health care politics. Ditto for letters (and now e-mails) and phone calls to your elected officials.

This stuff may have made a real difference in ancient Athens,  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:49 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Aspergers ... Personal Reflections ...

I don’t get out to the movies much anymore; there just aren’t many movies that I want to see. Back when I was in my late 30s and early 40s I dated some women, and thus became quite a movie maven. The movies all started blending into one another, though. So, for the past 15 years or so, I’ve rarely gotten out to a theater; a film really has to be special for me to go see it.

(I’m not into renting movies either; if there’s a movie I do want to see, I would rather have the social experience of seeing the film with others, even if they’re strangers. Seeing a movie in a theater is an important ritual, and every now and then it’s good for me to participate in some kind of mythological social event. Every now and then.)

I recently decided to find out if the movie “Adam” was special enough for me.  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:03 pm       Read Comments (4) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Current Affairs ... Politics ...

After hearing about the recent ACORN “video scandal” (whereby James O’Keefe, a conservative version of Michael Moore, walked into various ACORN offices posing as a pimp together with a young woman posing as a hooker, and requested info on how to bilk the government of home purchase subsidies), I couldn’t help but wonder what Saul Alinsky would have said.

The late, great Alinsky was of course the father of community organizing and made his name vilifying the powerful and the rich. His first reaction, no doubt, would have been to bring fire down upon Glenn Beck and FOX News for airing the videos. He certainly would have cast them as lackeys of the wealthy, and would have defended the hapless ACORN workers who provided helpful suggestions on how a hooker and a pimp could put one over on the feds. He would have reminded us in no uncertain terms about the oppressed American underclass, which includes a lot of prostitutes and criminals.

Alinsky was a firebrand, the kind that is sorely missed today.  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:12 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Current Affairs ... Foreign Relations/World Affairs ...

President Obama is now making some major decisions regarding Iran. Recall that he set a deadline of Sept. 30 for the start of talks regarding their nuclear program. If they didn’t play ball, the US was to seek severe economic sanctions against Iran in the UN, especially regarding gasoline imports (for some odd reason, Iran can’t make much gasoline, despite having lots of oil). Well, Iranian President A’jad and company came back with a counter-proposal for six-nation talks (including the US). These talks would NOT address the Iranian uranium program, under Iran’s proposal; but further talks about the nuke issue could be talked about at these talks. So Iran in effect answered the US by proposing to talk about talks, but that Iran’s best friends (China and Russia) also have to be there.

Various analysts feel that Iran is just stalling for time, given that they are within a year or so of having enough enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons. The US intelligence community just issued a report saying that Iran is not actively developing nuclear weapons at present; Germany’s BND intelligence agency reportedly feels that it is. Also, the IAEA seems to think that Iran is working on a nuclear explosion triggering device, along with a carrying-case intended to fit into a missile nose cone.

Nonetheless, President Obama has decided to take Iran up  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:23 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Current Affairs ... Public Policy ...

One of the biggest yet most unanswered questions about health care reform is, why do we need it? This past Wednesday, the President gave a speech before Congress making the case for his own health care plan (and finally offering some more details on just what that plan is). During his speech, he acknowledged his critics who cite polls showing that between 80 to 85 percent of Americans are generally satisfied with the health care they receive, including those without formal health care coverage (who pay out-of-pocket or receive charitable care at emergency rooms). However, he then countered with the unfairness argument, i.e. that many insurers impose arbitrary rules which impact badly on people in certain cases. One of his poster children was a Texas woman with breast cancer whose insurance was canceled right before a double mastectomy because she hadn’t declared a previous case of acne (ah, and also her rapid heartbeat, which she didn’t think was relevant to her health condition). In other words, that 15 to 20 percent of Americans who are NOT satisfied with their care are really getting some very raw deals. And who knows if you or I will be the next one to get such a deal in time of need, even if we are happy with whatever health care we’ve received so far.

OK, President Obama does have a point. However, he and our political leadership in general (Democrat and Republican) have failed to make the public aware of the more widespread social and economic dangers that lurk if the present trends in health care continue. You would need to take the time to read long articles (such as David Goldhill’s brilliant exposition of the crisis within the health system the September Atlantic Monthly magazine) or government reports (such as those put out by the Government Accounting Office) to appreciate what is going to happen if health care costs continue to grow as quickly as they have over the past 25 years. It’s all the more scary because we’ve know about this problem all along and have imposed various reforms, such as health maintenance organizations on the part of insurers and Medicare cost caps on the part of government; and they have not stopped it. It’s like a monster movie where you try this and that to stop the ugly thing now coming at you, but it just keeps coming. It’s pretty creepy – and worse, it’s not just a movie.

What harm will increasing health care costs have? Well, they will prevent a lot of other good things  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 6:26 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Monday, September 7, 2009
Personal Reflections ...

It’s nice how you the web can put you in touch with old memories. For some random reason, I recently thought about an old song that used to make me cry. No, it didn’t touch my soul. It just scared me as a dorky, over-sensitive little six-year old. The song is called “Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye”. Since my name is James and I was frequently referred to as “Jimmy” when I was six, you might be able to figure out why that song heightened my insecurities.

But I did a quick search and found a video for it on YouTube. So I now know that “Goodbye Jimmy” was a 1959 hit song by Kathy Linden. On hearing it again after 45 years, I had a rather different reaction. I like it now; it’s sentimental. And by this point in life, I’ve learned to accept the goodbyes and get on with things. My life — everyone’s life — is a long series of goodbyes, of losing the things that you came to love. Sic obduco palma illius quod nos diligo.

And actually, “Goodbye Jimmy” isn’t completely sad.  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:32 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
 
 
Friday, September 4, 2009
Photo ...

Just another Friday night: moonrise over the Cozy End.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:52 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
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