Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Industry On Parade

The title is from a 1960's television series. One of those Sunday morning documentary programs designed to fulfill the 'public service' portion of a broadcast license requirements. While extolling the virtues of American industry and business, with no labor unrest, no liability lawsuits, or environmental concerns. A sunny day in America.

A higher level of those was 'The 20th Century' as narrated by Walter Cronkite. It was higher budget and gave a very cursory review of history still within the memories of much of the populace. Again, with no discouraging words, no mention of Jim Crow, no word about the slowly devolving cities or the growing discontent among the young. Another sunny day, not a cloud in the sky.

But, that's neither here nor there. The point of this pointless exercise is to decry the industrialization of American healthcare.

Some may remember my episode of falling flat on my face last January. Since then, I've been to a few specialists, including a cardiologist associated with a large Pennsylvania hospital chain, spreading, ooze-like, across this state. Consolidating into larger building and turning smaller hospitals into band-aid stations.

They gutted the services available at my small town's hospital just one year after pushing news stories about how much better it was doing financially under the new ownership. After all, we're sure you won't bleed to death from that crushed femoral artery while we drive you in an ambulance across the highest point on interstate 80, at 2 am, in a snowstorm, dancing our way around jack-knifed tractor-trailers, and people up from Florida who don't yet realize that this white stuff on the roads is actually the traction equivalent of lithium grease on a mirror.

But hey, why should I care? After all I recently moved from my small home town into the neighboring big(ger) city which has the hospital that the ambulances now come to.

They've been engaged in a one-company building boom, adding a big, shiny new emergency/trauma center. In fact the very same one I released myself from, AMA, last January. Along with a new trauma center has come an amazing number of helicopter 'life-flights' - a certain number of which make a final approach directly over my house, daily. And nightly.

But hey, crushed femoral arteries wait for no man, right? But, that's really not here or there in my tale, either.

To segue back to my main point, such as it is.

I was referred to a local cardiologist, whose name and appearance simply do not come close to matching. An old English name mated to ancient Calcutta genetics. I do not hold that against him. He is friendly, he is intelligent, he is obviously highly competent and knowledgeable in his field. He was the one who ordered the EEG (no organic damage) and the week-long joy of a carry-along heart monitor which showed a pure sinus rhythm. Based on those, he switched around my BP meds, changing one that always worked for me into one that had my Blood Pressure cycling between 176/102 down to 124/81. Within 24 hours. In one day. Sigh.

So. all afternoon Sunday, I was having palpitations (what a quaint word for such a frightening occurrence) matched at time by dull pains in the center of my chest and sometime sharp pains in the center of my chest and upper back. The same continued Monday morning. I got myself up, showered, deressed, while ignoring shaving, and went to work. The manager demurred when I suggested she keep a watch over me in case of a major coronary infarction (I've always wanted to use that in a sentence) and sent me home, instead. Sigh, again.

I'd already had a follow up appointment with my cardiologist for 2 pm Monday, so I kept that, fluttering and twinging all the way. And NOW, we come to the point, finally.

I arrived for my appointment, was not kept waiting for long, and was taken in for the standard pre-examination things, weight, blood pressure, etc.

I explained to the office nurse about my wildly fluctuating pressures over the last few days, as well as all the dozens of chest twinges, flutterings, palpitations, etc. She seemed concerned and said she was going off to find my doctor.

Twenty minutes later he arrived, moving with the speed of a demented hummingbird. I started to tell him the same I'd told the nurse, he talked over me less than halfway through my first sentence. About the pressure not the heart, and added a second pressure med. I started again, and he again talked over me, dictating order for the nurse to type into my records. He apparently was listening to the extent that he diagnosed me with angina, as well as something else I did not recognize the name of.

He told the nurse to set up blood tests, and a chemical stress test. This to be done in two weeks. He offered nothing for the actual symptoms of the angina. As the nurse was getting things set up for the tests, I had two more jolts. Then two more as I walked back to my car. I could do nothing about them, as he'd done nothing.

Don't take me wrong, I actually like and respect this doctor. He is obviously very skilled in his field, as well as smart, funny and friendly. But what he also is, is far too busy to take the time to actually talk to his patients, even to the extent of minor reassurance.

I drove home, sat for a while, had another small jolt, ten called the cardiology office and fired him.

My Primary Care Physician is now scrambling to find me a cardiologist to replace him. It will have to be in a nearby town, as everyone in that field here is also associated with this hospital and cardiology group.

I felt, and feel, as though I was a product on an assembly line. That the whole purpose was getting me in and out with minimal time spent. I felt, and feel, as though my concerns simply did not matter, my fears were ignored, as were my symptoms.

Industrial Medicine On Parade.

Oddly, after firing them, I went for more than a full day without a single twinge or jolt, worked my regular hours Tuesday, and felt fine. I've had a couple very minor since then.

As of 12:16 AM on May 9th, my BP readings were 132/77 with a pulse of pulse 90.

I am going to post this with proofing, too tired.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Control of the Marketplace

Note: in the interests of proper attribution I am giving the links in the open rather than using hidden links.

Standard Oil is considered the bogey man of monopolistic companies and its breakup under anti-trust laws in 1911 was considered long overdue. The company was founded in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller surrounded himself with a number of outstanding associates and together they operated a company that emphasized “economic operation, research, and sound financial practices.” They bought oil directly in the field rather than from jobbers. They made efficient use of the oil, getting more kerosene out of a barrel of oil than did their competitors. They cut the cost of refining by about 85% between 1870 and 1885. For their efforts they were accused of predatory pricing.

Kodak put photography into the hands of the common person. They held a dominant part of the market for years. This put them in hot water on at least two occasions. In 1921 Kodak entered into a consent decree in which they agreed to rid themselves of what were called “exclusionary practices.” One aspect of that decree was that Kodak could not “private label” film — a restriction that is still in place. In 1954, Kodak owned 90% of the color film market in the United States. The price of a roll of color film included the cost of processing, giving Kodak control of 90% of the color film processing market by default. I don’t know if they are required to do it anymore, but I remember seeing notices on rolls of Kodak color film saying that the cost of the film did not include processing.

Years ago, during the “studio era” of Hollywood, the studios not only owned the means of production of films, they also owned many of the theatres as well. There were independent theaters, but the studios engaged in a process called “block booking.” That meant that theaters had to bid on a group of films. They could not just show a blockbuster, they also had to show whatever dreck the studio had made. Studios were found to have an oligopoly, where a small number of companies control the market. U.S. v Paramount Pictures 1948 resulted in studios having to divest themselves from the presentation end of the motion picture industry.

Today three companies have an oligopoly in the social media market. Google, Twitter, and Facebook all hold dominant positions of their particular markets. There is prima facie evidence to suggest that these three companies have engaged in systematic blocking of conservative viewpoints. Both liberals and conservatives have argued that since those companies are not government it can't be said that they engage in censorship.

I am willing to accept that argument. However, their control over the exchange of ideas cannot be overlooked. As shown, other companies have been broken up because it was felt that they had too much control over the marketplace. I strongly believe that the social media marketplace is also under the undue influence of a limited number of companies. I do not, at this time, advocate breaking up those companies. What I do propose is to declare those companies as “common carriers.”

The Free Dictionary says
A common carrier is legally bound to carry all passengers or freight as long as there is enough space, the fee is paid, and no reasonable grounds to refuse to do so exist. A common carrier that unjustifiably refuses to carry a particular person or cargo may be sued for damages.
In other words, if it isn’t illegal, then they cannot refuse to carry it.

In 1980, Barry Commoner ran for President. He knew he would not win, but he wanted to bring attention to his cause. To achieve this he made a radio commercial that used the word “bullshit.” That word used one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words, so how was Commoner able to use that, at least back then? Simple: U.S. broadcast stations did not have the right to control the content of commercials in races such as the Presidential race. They had to run that spot. They had no choice.

I believe that social media should have the same constrains placed on them. They are too powerful to have the ability to pick and choose what people say in the marketplace of ideas providing those ideas are not illegal. As demonstrated above, there is legal precedent that private companies can not do whatever they want.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Taqiyya for Easter

As always, Mark Steyn says it best.

Let's say a fire breaks out at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris at the start of Holy Week, and just after two of the city's other most prominent houses of worship - St Sulpice and the Basilica of St Denis - have been attacked and vandalized.

Well, I think we can all confidently say as the first flames are beginning to lick the ceiling that it's undoubtedly an accident. Cigarette butt. Or maybe computer glitch. Probably just an overheated smart phone. We don't need to get in there and sift through the debris. We can just announce it.

Read the whole column here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter Renewal

Inspirational music for a blessed Easter weekend.

I watched the movie about this man's life, also titled "I Can Only Imagine", yesterday. It was very, very good and moved me to tears (in a good way!). It's free on Amazon Prime Video if you are so inclined.

Watching Notre Dame in flames has left me shaken. I'm not a Catholic, and more a cultural protestant Christian than a true believer (I guess it depends what day you ask). Some days I'm a Buddhist. Or follow the Old Way. But yet, the builders of that magnificent cathedral are my ancestors. They picked up stones in their hands and strove the reach the heavens. All I have in life are gifts from the Western Christian legacy gifted to me by distant grandfathers, their names lost to me and to time, but not, I'm sure, to God.

 I'm wishing you all a Blessed Easter, and a joyful Pesach.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Everybody is Poly... et tu, Bald Eagles?

I have no words.

I don't mind when the Almighty tests me.

I mind when He fvcks with muh head for no apparent reason. Divine Lulz.

Seriously. What's up with this?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In case you need a smile

I like watching some unusual videos. Among them are old training films as I have written about in the past. Sometimes I find them on YouTube. Another thing I do is look ahead at the schedule for TCM. Of course TCM shows many feature films. They also fill out their schedule with interesting shorts.

Recently I saw a film called School for Postmen on their schedule. It was a short film but there was no description nor was there an indication of when it was made. Often with shorts, TCM will show the year they first showed it as the year the movie was made. Thinking it might be a film for the US Postal Office I set it up to record. When I watched it I found that it was actually a French comedy short from 1947 with Jacques Tati.

Jacques Tati was a famous French comedian/film maker known for his character Monsieur Hulot. In the mid 1980's I had a friend who showed me one of the films with Hulot. I don't recall being terribly impressed, but it has been a long time. Later I knew someone who said he was a great fan of Tati. When he told me that my thoughts were along the lines of, "Whatever floats your boat."

But I had this film, known in French as L’Ecole des Factuers, on my PVR and, since it was a short, I decided to give it a try. At first I was put off by the nasally voice of the chief postman. However, I stayed with it. I found it to be a joyful film. It is full of physical humor, but much of it is subtle. In fact it may take a few viewings to catch all of it.

As such, I am not a big fan of physical humor. I have never understood the humor of Moe poking Larry and Curly in the eyes. Pie fights leave me cold. But there is none of that in Postmen There are two scenes where people are hit in the head but they are completely accidental. The first time introduces you to one of the mannerisms of the Tati character. The second time, that character is himself the victim. Except for the opening scene, this film may as well be a silent film as there is little dialog. You are not overloaded with over-the-top humor, it is just given to you in a way that you cannot help but enjoy it. The dance scene just makes me happy.

Oh, and the music is an ear-worm.

Tati won an Oscar in 1955 for best foreign film. Because he won, the Academy told him he could have whatever he wanted. He wanted to meet Stan Laurel, Mac Sennett, and Buster Keaton. Tati was considered a master of his craft and he appreciated the masters who came before him.

I don't know how long it will be available, but for now you can find the film here. The version here uses the word "mailmen" instead of "postmen." It also has different subtitles than what they showed on TCM (which showed the release from the Criterion Collection). The subtitles here make more sense than they do in the Criterion release.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Gee, why doesn't that surprise me?

I discovered an interesting web site called History vs. Hollywood. This site looks at recent Hollywood movies and compares them with actual events.

Their research is educational. Sometimes for the sake of a movie producers will stray from the facts in order to make a concise film, such as including an event that took place a year after the trip portrayed in The Green Book, or concocting a fictional event such as the infamous underground (subway) scene in Darkest Hour (which did not really happen, but Churchill was known to "disappear" from time to time as he went out to get the common person's take on events). Generally, people have no real problem with that.

One film, which I have absolutely no interest in seeing, is Vice, the biopic about former Vice President in Dick Cheney. Part of the format of History vs. Hollywood is to ask the question, "Did (this) really happen?" With The Green Book, Darkest Hour, and 15:17 to Paris. the answer is mostly "Yes," with an explanation of whatever difference there may be. With Vice the answer is mostly "No."

The last paragraph of that post says it all:

So why rewrite history? Is (director/writer Adam)McKay hoping that people simply believe his film instead of the truth? It's hard to say, but it's likely that many on the left will embrace it, while most on the right will dismiss it. Fiction is much easier to believe when it fits your own narrative. This is certainly true of Hollywood, who nominated Vice for nine Critics' Choice Awards, six Golden Globes (Bale won for Best Actor) and eight Oscars (including Best Picture, Best Actor - Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor - Sam Rockwell, Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams, Best Director - Adam McKay, Best Original Screenplay - Adam McKay, etc.). This is the very same Hollywood that has refused to nominate a number of biopics in recent years over far less fiction than is found in Vice.

Another political hit piece, and Hollywood wonders why movie attendance continues to go down.

Monday, February 18, 2019

This sums it up rather well.

Victor Davis Hanson has a piece in American Greatness regarding the soft coup against President Trump. It is well worth a read.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Does The Name "Syncopy" Ring A Bell?

Well, the latest interesting thing in my life is something called 'Syncopy' - most likely familiar to Lady Red, but less likely to others.

Monday evening, being bored, I decided to indulge my secret vice and watch 'Britain's Got Talent' videos on Youtube. Generally a harmless pastime.

As I watched someone's dog pee into David's shoes, I suddenly woke on the floor of my bedroom, with a feeling of fuzziness in my head.

Seems I had passed out, without warning, and fell over hard enough to break off the left arm of my computer chair. At the same time I apparently hit my head on the granite counter-top sample I use as a coaster on my desk.

Wound up with a deep and ugly abrasion about the size of my right eyebrow, looking like someone had tried to make me a new eyebrow, about one inch above my original, and painted bright red.

I also had (and have still) road rash on my right cheek, and extremely sore right upper arm, where I apparently landed, hard, and lesser soreness in my right hip and knee.

I woke my son, who took me to the local ER where they did the usual, chest X-ray, MRI, EKG and blood work.

It was a good enough workup that they informed me of the arthritis and stenosis in my lower spine, but not good enough, it seems, to determine the cause of this problem.

As they were getting ready to admit me, I asked if they were going to do more tests, and they said no, so I rebelled, and told them I was going home, which they ignored until I added the words AMA (Against Medical Advice)  - at which point things became far more gruff and less solicitous.

So I went home. Contacted my PC Physician and saw him yesterday. He referred to a cardiologist and I am waiting for a call back from that office.

I finally taped a sandwich bag over the abrasion this afternoon so I could shower without soaking the scab off. Thank God for that, because I was becoming rather ripe.

Noticed as I looked closely enough in the mirror that I also have a largish swelling over my right eye I had not seen before. So my left forehead is Cro-Magnon while the right is definitely Neanderthal in shape.

Sigh, the hits just keep on coming

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What do we want? We don't know! When do we want it? Now!

One of the rock and roll classics from the early 1960's is He's a Rebel by the Crystals. You know the song. The girl singing it loves her boyfriend. The big thing she loves about her boyfriend is that "he never ever does what he should." He doesn't take guff from anybody. Society does not like him, and the singer is not going to listen to a society that says her boyfriend will "never ever be any good."

Let's fast forward a few years. She gets the rebel to marry her. Then she finds out that when he says he does not take guff from anybody, that includes her. He starts knocking her around a bit. She becomes a feminist and blames his actions on his "toxic masculinity." She blames society for encouraging that toxic masculinity. Society -- that society she ignored when it told her he was bad news -- is now responsible for his behavior.

Tim Newman has a post today about a woman who applied for a job at the kind of company she always wanted to work at. It turns out that one of the people in the HR department of that company is a guy she had met through an online dating service. Besides the fact that Fate used its incisors in the woman's gluteus maximus, the interesting thing is where she said why she "unmatched" with him:

But as we chatted back and forth over the weeks, I realised he’d never really done anything off the expected life plan. He’d never messed up. He’d never travelled or been arrested or even bared his bum in public.

In short, he was too straighty-one-eighty for me.

I like my guys to have a past. Some perspective on life so they know what they’re doing is the right thing for them. I want them to have stories about being arrested in Amsterdam or streaking at the soccer in Rio.

She called the guy a "snoozefest."

I knew a young woman in the '70's who talked about how her boyfriend would hit her. She was not complaining. In fact, she said she could not have any respect for a guy who would not hit her.

Meanwhile I was raised to never hit a woman. But now I have none other than Gillette telling me I need to change my sexist ways. A marketing department run by a feminist had a guy from India telling American men that they should be better. Fortunately for the women in the video they have black men -- like those rappers who sing about bitches and ho's and the NFL players who knock their girlfriends unconscious in elevators -- to protect them.

So women tell us they like "bad boys," but they decry "toxic masculinity." And they celebrate women who act they way they say they hate men to act.

Hopefully their inanity will speak louder than their words.