Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Things Are Tough All Over

I remember it like it was yesterday but this little piece of oratory had to be 4 years ago. A guy in an AA meeting said life and the way you see things will get better- but that doesn't mean your health will too.

Truer words were never spoken.

For the last 4 months I've had rash after rash. All over kinds of rashes that have caused me to undergo two rounds of steroids and gawd knows how many sleepless nights.  I have eczema on my hands and feet. That's new. I've lost a few teeth and my new implants didn't work- now I have a permanent bridge. I collected a monster superficial blood clot on my left knee and it's been really painful. It's going on two weeks and that bad boy is finally leaving me. (I've had 30 or so over the years- I have a factor 5 clotting problem.)

And then there was today.

At Sportsman's Warehouse, I parked my Ultra Glide- all 800 pounds or so. I did not get the kickstand fully extended and it collapsed. I tried to stop the impending fall but I tore my hamstring trying to hold the bike up. It was at least 10 minutes before I could even consider lifting the bike- with help. I rode it home but I have to tell you that I am not trusting my left leg.

No I don't have pictures.

My mother, years before she died, said she had made a pact not to talk about all of her medical problems and physical issues with her childhood friends as she got older. She always laughed about that as she sought help for cancer, chemo treatments, circulatory problems, rides to various doctors, hearing problems, and the dentist because chemo destroyed the teeth she had left. By the time mom passed away- that body of hers had been stretched to the limits.

Maybe we just live too long nowadays.

Tonite I was at the casino cashing a ticket when a friend asked "what's wrong with your leg?" I smiled, winked, and said "nothing."

Dropping that bike was nothing that I wanted to relive. Nor did I want to tell someone what a dumb ass I was. Once was enough.

Tomorrow I am leaving on a vacation to the left coast hauling 33 feet of home. Legs or no legs. It is summer and I'm not missing it. Blood clots and hamstrings be damned.

Thing are tough all over. Mom would be proud.







 


Friday, May 25, 2018

All Men Are Created Equal, Well That's the Theory Anyway

Thomas Jefferson once penned the following,

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Of course, Thomas Jefferson wasn't referring to the slaves he owned at the time he penned the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence and you can also bet that the King of England disagreed with that premise. This "lording over" of other people has gone on since time began. It is what separates the haves from the have nots.

About 30 miles NE of my current home lies an area called "Hunt, Idaho" I guess. There is no town there. It is just an area- truly in the middle of nowhere.

So last Sunday in the rain, my wife and I ventured there. It's hard to find. This was where the United States stockpiled about 13,000 Japanese Americans in what they are now calling the Minidoka National Historic Site. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minidoka_National_Historic_Site

In early 1942, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that enabled the United States to round up 130,000 or so Americans of Japanese ancestry and imprison them in ten "relocation camps" throughout the west.

These citizens lost their homes, businesses, and their lives because America was afraid that some of them were more loyal to Japan than to the United States. It has always puzzled me that despite our three branches of government with checks and balances, a Congress full of lawyers, and documents such as the Declaration of Independence- that one man, a President, can simply issue an order and eliminate all of the civil rights of an entire demographic group of citizens- and nobody apparently utters a peep about it.

It is one of the reasons that I detest executive orders. They allow Presidents to circumvent all of the discussion and sanity that may come about as a result of introducing a bill- subjecting it to scrutiny and group think- into a legislative branch comprised of hundreds of lawyers. Would FDR's executive order pass as legislation in the 1942 Congress? It's difficult to predict. But at least the act would have been offered up and perhaps just one courageous soul might have taken the floor of the House or Senate and mentioned that we had this document called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure and entitles them to due process. Nowhere in that document will you find an exception to that rule.

But that didn't happen.

When you get to Hunt, you'll find the relocation camp is mostly gone. There are a couple of rock structures still standing near the main gate. The camp once had 8 gun towers which were all removed- although they have recently constructed one to give visitors an idea of what they looked like.

The barracks and fences are long gone. All you will find now is a few signs here and there pointing out where things once were.

I have always thought it interesting that when men want something- such as freedom from a King- that they can pen a few words such as "all men are created equal" while owning slaves who were not entitled to all of the freedoms and civil rights nor were they equal. Slaves may have been created equal- but the haves interfere with that process.

In a nation of laws and a Republic- the rights of a minority are supposed to be protected from the oppression of the majority. It is an interesting theory but in reality that's all it really is. A theory. It is clear to see that throughout history if men want something bad enough they will simply exert control over it and take it, ignoring existing law in the process. They'll use terms such as "all men are created equal" or "manifest destiny" or "taxes." It has always been that way.

Each year, I have a friend named Jim Azumano who travels to Hunt to speak at a gathering at the place his father was imprisoned. He carries a rock with him, a souvenir of his father's time spent there. Oddly, the family has never been bitter over the ordeal- choosing instead to adapt, overcome, and move on with their lives in constructive fashion. I have always held Azumano in the highest regard.

I thought about all of this as I wandered around, reading signs in the rain last Sunday. You can learn a lot about people from a place like Hunt.








Monday, March 26, 2018

Why Can't Big Pharma Discover a Cure For Outrageous Drug Pricing?- The Sunday Collage

There is always an element of fear in advertising. Often it is subtle- you'll be left out if you don't buy this or you don't know what you are missing- those are the underlying messages.

So I have noticed something new and over the top. It is a result I think- of how effective big pharma and their drug lobby has become. Buying our politicians with re-election bribes has certainly paid big dividends. It doesn't hurt that millions of otherwise uninsured people are still clinging to their Obamacare policies either.

The direct advertising and marketing of drugs to consumers is illegal in most countries. It used to be illegal here. That all changed sometime before the discovery of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. The boner pill market was so huge- that big pharma couldn't stand it and put the full court press on to make the direct marketing of those drugs to consumers legal around 1997. Big pharma of course, got what they wanted. As a result, I can't tell you how many ads I've had to watch. Older women laying across beds and couples walking hand in hand. The direct to consumer advertising and the 4 countries that allow it can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct-to-consumer_advertising

So this latest round of direct to consumer advertising occurred when they discovered a cure for Hepatitis C. It is much more aggressive and in a way- simply scandalous.

A few months ago, I saw a television ad that said millions of Americans were living with undiagnosed Hep C. This was potentially a giant untapped market for big pharma. The ad urged people to get checked. What the ad did not say was that the newly discovered treatment/cure for Hep C costs upwards of 100,000 dollars. With patent protection laws- Congress has essentially given big pharma a license to steal. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/resource-centers/hepatitisc/will-hepatitis-c-virus-medicaton-costs-drop-in-the-years-ahead

Big pharma always whines about recovering research and development costs when accused of price gouging and fixing which they routinely engage in. The problem with R and D costs is that they never submit those costs to any private, independent accounting firm so that we may actually see what those expenses are. So as it stands- they get the best of both worlds. A monopoly on price fixed drugs and a bought off Congress that has given them 20 year patent protection to recover R and D costs without ever asking precisely what those costs are.

This form of government, the Congressional form which allows the routine gouging of "We the people" by corporate America- is called an oligarchy.

 a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes 
  • a military oligarchy was established in the country
also a group exercising such control 
  • An oligarchy ruled the nation.

Recently, I've seen ads where big pharma is now directly marketing tests to former smokers for cancer and heart disease. Those ads show a mountain of cigarette butts and urge viewers and former smokers to get checked. To be honest, I refuse to watch this latest round of ads. I get sick to my stomach watching this garbage knowing that all big pharma cares about is using you as a conduit to enrich themselves- rather handsomely.

Nobody cares either. Some people actually see big pharma's advertising assault as beneficial. Not me.

The only cure I want to see is a free marketplace where drugs can be developed because they can turn a profit on their own merits without help from our bribed political class offering protection.

Find a cure for outrageous drug pricing. That's the only cure I'd like to see.








Sunday, February 25, 2018

The 32nd Victim- The Sunday Collage

On Valentines Day, 2018, Nikolas Cruz walked into Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17 people and wounded 14 more. The wounded are expected to survive.

Police officers and soldiers have one thing in common. Killing people or being killed is not a game. It is serious business.

Police officers and soldiers are never looking for a fair fight. We don't want a fair fight- in fact we want a very unfair fight. We want a playing field where we have every advantage. We want the best weapons, the best protection, the best training, the best tactical plans, we want overwhelming numbers, we want surprise on our side, we want emergency operation pre- plans and we we want the smartest brain. In short, we want every conceivable advantage- because losing is a permanent condition.

And when we pray for our lives, we want God to listen to us and not our adversaries.

So when I discovered late last week that an armed Broward County Sheriff's Deputy was on duty the day of the Parkland school massacre- I was baffled. When I learned that he ran outside, drew his gun and did nothing- I felt sick. Now there is an additional inquiry as to why 3 additional deputies did not go into the school- when Coral Springs police officers did. I clipped this piece because it is the latest and most current news article out there. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-25/forida-governor-orders-investigation-parkland-shooting-response

Since the Columbine school massacre, every law enforcement agency in this country has had the opportunity to examine what happened that day. They have the opportunity to develop operation plans, drill them, equip police officers with the appropriate arms, ballistic shields, vests, helmets, and superior tactics. There is simply no excuse for the type of response seen at Stoneman Douglas High School. Not any more.

And I have another question bugging me. Why on earth would a school shooter go into a school and begin shooting knowing that there was an armed police officer on campus? It begs the question. Did the kid shooter know the cop was a coward or did Nikolas Cruz expect to die that day?

Many years ago, I had a kid wave or point a gun at another kid at our local high school. It turned out that it was one of those realistic looking toy guns- but to the parents picking up their kids that day after school- they were concerned it was real and they reported the incident to our school resource officer. The incident happened after school on a Friday- and our school resource officer did nothing. No report, no investigation. He went home for the weekend and when those angry parents called me on Monday, I had nothing to tell them. This angered them even more and they called my boss (the Mayor) and the school district. All hell rained down on me and subsequently I laid that shit storm- and the policy violations that occurred squarely on my school resource officer who I removed from the school. That level of incompetence was appalling.

It was my mistake for hiring this guy. A man who was a nice enough human being but probably never cut out to be a cop. It takes a while to sort those things out. Just the other day I saw him and we spoke, some 15 years later.

There are times in every police officer's life where he or she will be confronted by circumstances they cannot control.

We are taught to call for backup. Hell the FBI can't make an arrest with less than 8 agents in attendance. But sometimes you don't get the luxury of picking when and where the battleground will be. On Valentine's Day, that was the problem confronting Scot Peterson. Someone had brought the fight to him. There would not be enough time for backup to arrive. Kids were going to be killed. The only chance those kids had was going to be the intervention of Scot Peterson. Scot was going to have to take whatever skill set he had, whatever equipment he had, whatever training he had, whatever cover and sneaky hiding place he could find- and his 54 year old brain- and out smart a 19 year old killer. Or die trying.

It didn't happen. And so it is that I have to ask Sheriff Scott Israel- was Scot Peterson the right guy for this job? How could they not have known? What planning (or no planning) had the Sheriff done?

So I'm sorry Broward county folks. You don't just have a school resource officer that failed to do his job- but you might have a whole chain of command problem that includes a Sheriff that didn't do his job.

I know so many good cops. The good cops accept that they may have to kill someone one day or that they may be killed. We agree to those terms. We train and train, we prepare, we beg our bosses for the guns and armament that will give us a fighting chance to survive a bloody encounter such as this. The right tools and preparation give good cops the confidence that they will need to go in and stop a homicidal maniac. That and a little courage.

Perhaps Scot Peterson was dispossessed of those things. We don't know. Scot Peterson must now spend the remainder of his life wrestling with the shame and guilt of what happened that day. What a horrible way to live, what a horrible sentence to hand yourself.

Nobody involved in this is going to be made well again anytime soon. As baffled as I am by all of this- I want to pray for all of the victims and Scot Peterson. All 32 of them.

Nikolas Cruz is on his own.

Today (2/26} I found this- http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2018/02/25/exclusive-michelle-malkin-broward-county-sheriff-scott-israel-should-absolutely-resign/























Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MetLife Loses 13,500 Customers They Owe Money To...Another Corporate Shocker

I have always detested insurance companies. I cannot imagine how much money I have paid them over my 40 years of home ownership, car ownership, health insurance, and even a little life insurance.

I am going to say 50k in vehicle insurance, 12k homeowners insurance, and probably 200k in health insurance. About a quarter million is what I've paid them thus far.

I have made claims totaling about 20k for auto and homeowners related losses, maybe another 50k for a couple of hospitalizations- the last one about 20 years ago. All in all, I have had claims totaling less than a third of what I have paid in over the years. My guess is that most healthy people have had a similar insurance experience.

That is a lot of money. Compulsory I might add. The government or corporate America forces most of that on us and I am not even going to speak to unemployment insurance or Workman's Comp Insurance- both items required by government entities. I actually know small businesses that threw in the towel over those expenses- giving rise to the contract labor boom in this country.

Today's topic du jour is Metropolitan Life. MetLife has stated that they have 13,500 customers which they have lost track of and owe money to. I have clipped the article because I'd like to point out how a smart CEO gets in front of a train wreck and takes responsibility before getting into trouble. http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/14/news/companies/metlife-retiree-payments/index.html

MetLife suddenly discovered- on their own- that they had 13,500 liabilities out there that had gone unaccounted for.

That's right. There were thirteen thousand people which were owed annuity payments and were somehow lost. The company takes responsibility for the big error, claims they found the mistakes on their own, says they will do better, and sets aside half a billion to pay the claims. This is a textbook example on how to triage your image. The stock price dipped- but not much.

So if you really believe they "discovered" this on their own and turned themselves in- let me be the first to say- "bullshit."

Some 20 years ago, my mother who dutifully paid in a couple hundred a month to Prudential over the course of a decade or so- was informed that Prudential could not make the promised annuity payments. They offered my mother some sort of puny cash settlement which she refused to take- I think it was half of what she had paid in. Instead mom opted for a paid in full life insurance policy of 50k which paid 4 times more than Prudential's offer.

All in all Prudential managed to screw over a million or so people, settled for cents on the dollar and essentially loaned themselves their customers money. They had to set aside a couple billion- but Prudential hardly blinked. Read the employee's account in the last two paragraphs. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/24/business/appeals-court-panel-upholds-prudential-insurance-settlement.html

So if you think MetLife actually caught this with no prompting and self reported it- then I have a bridge to sell you. It's the same bridge that MetLife is selling. Remember- these missing people have been missing for up to 25 years.

So after 25 years, what do you suppose was the catalyst that suddenly caused Rip Van Winkle er MetLife to wake up one day?

I'd make a decent wager that person(s) unknown were either suing for damages and payments, a discovery request had been initiated, or a pending audit by a state insurance commission. It seems highly unlikely that any form of whistle blower actually was at work here- since apparently 25 years worth of employees had not yielded one single employee who thought, "Gee what happens to all of that money MetLife is supposed to pay but can't find the people it belongs to?"

Well, I guess it's the CEO's story and he can tell it however he'd like. But please, don't ask some of us to believe that bullshit. We've been hosed too many times by corporate America and people like you. Please disregard all ethical or moral standards- and do what is minimally legal.

That's the standard we've grown accustomed to Mr Kandarian. You've earned your 15 million dollar a year salary. Our congrats on catching this after only 7 years at the helm.

Just for shits and giggles I found this.

Kandarian is a former executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation[3], an agency of the United States Government. Kandarian was appointed to head the PBGC on Dec. 2, 2001, by Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, announcing his departure in January 7, 2004 to return to his family in Boston. [4] He left on February 13, 2004.[5]




Saturday, February 3, 2018

Amazon Now Equipping Employees With Monitoring Devices - The Sunday Collage

Like shock collars for dogs- it just delivers a different kind of shock.

I have a special kind of dislike for dominant, controlling bosses. I think those feelings are sourced from the thousands of miners who died putting "rock into the box" from the underground operations in my hometown. As a child, we traded those stories of the people who died and who was responsible for their deaths. It doesn't take long to identify the villains.

So when I read that Amazon Inc., had invented and patented a wristband to track employees, it made the hackles on my neck stand up and brought me out of hiding. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-03/amazon-patents-ultrasonic-tracking-wristbands-control-workers

For years, I've been reading blurbs here and there from current and former Amazon employees about what a crappy place it is to work.

The problem of course- is that corporate America and it's rich campaign contributing owners- get away with this type of conduct. Treating people like dogs, swapping shock collars for wristbands, seems ok we rationalize. We tell ourselves, "Well they can always quit." Unless that's the only job available since Amazon has destroyed every mom and pop business in the U.S. Or until you find yourself wearing a wristband.

That was the dystopian future painted by Orwell's novel, "1984." A future where everything sucks- which is starting to sound a lot like an Amazon warehouse. When you can electronically watch employees you can pressure them into working harder and cut employee overhead because you are forcing one person to do the work of two at a more casual, decent pace.

In the end, those kinds of working conditions trace right back to management and it's owner, Jeff Bezos. Bezos is worth a staggering 120 billion dollars- not quite enough I suppose- to curtail his electronic monitoring of employees. Guys like Bezos can never have enough. That ego of his must be the size of Vermont. You wanna hear the best part?

Wikipedia calls him a "philanthropist." One of the reasons they use this term is because Bezos and his wife contributed 2.5 million for a referendum for same sex marriage. He also donated 33 million for the education of illegal aliens. So I guess if you spend your money on gay marriage and illegal aliens that makes you a philanthropist. Oh and I forgot- Bezos bought the Washington Post so he could slam President Trump. More Bezos philanthropy.

They should let Amazon warehouse employees write the Bezos' biography for wikipedia. I have a strong feeling that despite all of that alleged philanthropy- the warehouse workers might not see it the same way.

Pay attention to how people treat the help. One day, they will treat you exactly the same way.

I've worked for people like Bezos. One place I worked at monitored employees with video cameras- they even caught me putting my feet up on a chair during the graveyard shift- about 3 a.m. one morning. They called me into the office to issue a warning about my deviant and aberrent behavior while the ten other residents of that sober house were sleeping. 

Maybe they should have focused more on the residents and a little less on the employees.

Mostly, I considered the job a volunteer gig and at nine bucks an hour- I wasn't looking for a career. A year or two after after I left that job- one resident killed another resident one night. Beat her with a pipe. Thankfully, I wasn't around with my feet up on a chair when that shit happened. https://www.idahopress.com/members/police-murder-victim-beaten-with-pipe/article_60692fae-7c63-11e5-a410-934c3e92c51e.html

I am grateful that I no longer have to work for blood sucking, control freaks who must patent electronic devices to take the place of decent human supervision. Perhaps Bezos could take a few million and instead of endowing it to illegal aliens- offer the same benefits to his employees.

I'm not going to hold my breath looking for a little human decency here though- guys like Bezos never disappoint me.