Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

What a great holiday! Barbeques, beer, and blowing up stuff! It doesn't get much better.
Actually, as much as I love explosives, I avoid fireworks up here in the mountains. Too high a risk of fire.

Oh yeah, there's another thing to celebrate. This little document:

Still well worth reading.

Should a 'Socialist' go to a 'Tea Bag' Party?

We have a local wingnut who I thoroughly enjoy debating politics over a beer with. It's so much more entertaining than debating with people who agree with you. Anyway, he's one of the organizers of the local 4th of July "tea party", and last evening he invited me to attend (maybe they're really desperate). "Free food" was his main selling point; "I know you Socialists like free food." (most of our debates involve him calling me a 'socialist', and me trying to get him to define 'socialist'. As best I can tell, anything that involves government, society, or civilization is socialist, and Obama is the most evil socialist ever. Like I say, it's entertaining.) Actually, the food isn't a compelling offer, as the local Democratic party is also having a barbeque to celebrate the 4th and the opening of the new headquarters. But since the two groups will be on opposite sides of a local park, I may go to both. There is something delightfully ironic in the thought of me, a well known "flaming liberal" on the local political scene, walking up and having a burger with the local wingnuts. Could be fun.
Afterwards I'll be going to a sane friends party.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Resigning

OK, that's a shocker. Was it because of this picture?

(snarky pic stolen somewhere on the net)

I just hope she doesn't start campaigning for 2012 right away. That would be way too long to maintain an appropriate level of satire.

Or (pure speculation) is there an Argentinian hiking type story about to break?

At least it's not another Michael Jackson story.

Independence Boobies

"It's Friday"

"Is today a holiday?"

"Sort of."

"How should we celebrate?"

"We're Boobies. We just hang out."

"Oh. OK."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More Truth, Too Late

As the Iraqi people celebrate our withdrawal from their cities (but not their country), we are starting to get more of the facts about the lead up to this horribly unethical war:

Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as "a zealot" and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda.

Hussein, in fact, said he felt so vulnerable to the perceived threat from "fanatic" leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a "security agreement with the United States to protect [Iraq] from threats in the region."

I knew most of these things already, but in the media's war lust they got buried. Shrub wanted a war, and no facts were going to stop him. Smart analysis showed that there were no WMD's, and even if there were a few they weren't really a threat.
As we've seen, getting into a war in Iraq was a whole lot easier than getting out will be. But I wish for one big first step: Can we put shrub and the cheney on trial for war crimes yet? That would be the best first move toward healing the damage they've caused.

Mixing Drugs

I've got a bit of a personal interest in the FDA's move to ban Percocet and Vicodin because of the liver toxicity problems associated with Acetaminophen.

ADELPHI, Md. — A federal advisory panel voted narrowly on Tuesday to recommend a ban on Percocet and Vicodin, two of the most popular prescription painkillers in the world, because of their effects on the liver.

The two drugs combine a narcotic with acetaminophen, the ingredient found in popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol and Excedrin. High doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage, and the panel noted that patients who take Percocet and Vicodin for long periods often need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect.

Acetaminophen is combined with different narcotics in at least seven other prescription drugs, and all of these combination pills will be banned if the Food and Drug Administration heeds the advice of its experts. Vicodin and its generic equivalents alone are prescribed more than 100 million times a year in the United States.

During my recovery from my broken humerus, I went through some serious pain that is treated with Hydrocodone (Vicodin). The main problem for me was the limit I could safely take (I have a tolerance level for opiates that rivals that of an elephant) because of the Acetaminophen content, and it's potential for liver damage. In the hospital, they could give me morphine, which is much safer, but once out of the hospital, that wasn't an option. (aside: Oxycodone (Percocet) does almost nothing for me when it comes to pain. All it does is make my brain as mushy as Lush Rimbaugh's. Stupid and still in pain is not a desirable situation.) I repeatedly wished that I could get Hydrocodone (which I needed) without Acetaminophen (which I didn't need), but thanks to the pharmaceutical lobby that wasn't an available opton.
I'm way better now, and rarely need to take a pain pill. But for millions of people with chronic pain, this could be really major. Getting rid of the Acetaminophen is a good idea, but Hydrocodone and Oxycodone need to still be available for those who need them. That's an issue that is still unresolved, what alternatives will be offered.
How typical of health care in America. The pharmaceutical companies can push Acetaminophen (which can kill you) into a wide variety of medications. But most of us can't get Medical Marijuana, which is safe AND effective.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Evening Observations

From spending a few hours sitting at a bar drinking beer and watching baseball:

A LOT of liberals are getting pissed at Obama. They are disappointed. They expected more on (health care, gay rights, ending wars, etc), and bigger changes. I'm not. I knew Obama was much more a corporatist moderate than a liberal savior. All I expected him to be is more competent and sensible than McCain or Shrub. When your expectations are low, you're rarely disappointed.

A woman I was chatting with had the best line on Michael Jackson: "Well, during the 80's, I liked him better than Ronald Reagan." I spit beer laughing at that.

My favorite bartender does the worlds best Billie Mays impersonation. I had no idea who "Billie Mays" was before tonight (I don't pay much attention to TV), except that I recognize him as "that really annoying guy." But when the bartender starts using that voice to sell you another beer, it's time to leave.

And the Arizona Diamondbacks are a really bad baseball team this year. Thank goodness I'm a Giants fan.

Uranium Mining: A Bad Idea That Won't Die

Uranium mining has a long and sordid history in this region. The failure to cleanup the pollution from the tailings from mining operations in the 50's and 60's are still causing deaths and illness (mostly among Native Americans) to this day. So there's a lot of resistance to any new mining operations. But the mining companies are still trying:

A Canadian company is one permit away from reactivating an Arizona uranium mine near the Grand Canyon where conservationists have been pushing for protection from new mining operations, a state official says.

Thousands of mining claims dot a 1 million-acre area around the canyon, but Arizona Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Mark Shaffer says only Denison Mines Corp. has a pending air permit with the agency for a site about 20 miles from the canyon's northern border.

Most of the claims for uranium are staked in an Arizona strip, a sparsely populated area immediately north of the Grand Canyon National Park known for its high-grade uranium ore. The silvery white metal is used in nuclear energy and weapons and for medicine.

But nearby residents and environmentalists, who are pushing to ban new mining in the area, are worried about possible groundwater contamination, destruction of wildlife habitat and the transport of radioactive material. Some miners and their families have blamed exposure to uranium for deaths and health effects, including cancer and kidney disease.

While the mining companies insist that modern techniques are safer for the environment, there's a lot of skepticism based on the history. I'm of the opinion that no new mining should even be considered until the old mines have been cleaned up.