Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just A Thought...

Or two.
Or more.

The Federal government spends billions, or more, on medical related research. I haven't a clue what percentage, but I'm positive it's got to be a whole bunch.

Given that...
Since we have all collectively paid for the research, shouldn't we be entitled to it's fruits?

Likewise, what if government funded research provided a seed a knowledge that private research then took to another level?
Wouldn't we, the citizens, own a piece of that as well?

If the answer to either is "Yes.", how can any citizen be denied medical care if they can't afford it out of pocket?
Or, why should we have to afford it out of pocket at all?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Force The Issue

From everything that I can tell, the military has changed drastically from those days of yore when I was a prime recruit. Seemed everybody that I knew was signing up. Except for myself and a few others, most of my closest friends all succumbed eventually, if not after high school, then within a few years of graduation.
It was kinda like the thing to do.

Friends would come back from boot, or on leave, and I'd hear all about the military life, what was going on, how it was, how it worked. I had never known military life, but I kinda had a general idea about it.

So, traveling forward now, to 1993, I was laughing hilariously when President Clinton made welcoming homosexuals into the military one of his first policy objectives to start out his administration.
From everything I knew, that idea wasn't going to fly far.
And I was right.
I remember: One of the first questions a recruiter would ask a potential recruit concerned his sexuality. No homos allowed. It was pretty straight forward.

And given what I knew about the military, it was probably a good policy. ('cept for the Navy. We all knew the half-joke about the soap-on-a-rope you were expected to bring with you, just in case. Later reports would show the rumor to have some truth to it.)

My opinion back then was that the 'homo,no homo' policy was best left to those in charge of running the military. They know fullest how to meet the needs and objectives of their mission, so I just figured it was best to leave it up to them.

My opinion today is basically the same, although my knowledge of military life is much more constricted than it was back then.
From everything I can see, which is a very small 'everything', it's not the same life style anymore.
It's a new world, and a different kind of military, with a more professional soldier filling it's ranks than just a generation ago.
Among other things, standards for enlistment are stricter, and I doubt if half the kids graduating high school today can make the cut (they are too fat). Back in the 80's, every young dude with a pulse that wasn't on parole was considered eligible. Misdemeanor records were a technicality easily written off (as in the case of a couple of friends). And nobody was too fat.
Plus, housing conditions are much improved. I don't think anybody leaves basic training and moves into a barracks shared with eight other immature dudes. My brother was assigned a two bedroom apartment with a room mate. So, yeah, things are different.

Where I think the source of reluctance to change within the military comes from is the older generation of leaders. My guess is that soldiers in the field don't really care. It's the 50-somethings that are at the top of food chain, sitting behind desks and filling out reports, and I don't think they themselves are close enough to the soldiers to see just who are these early-twenty-somethings that make up the lager share of their ranks.

Just as the old stereotypes easily assigned to all gays do not necessarily hold true...
(Think about it. Back in the draft days, or during WWII, when everybody was conscripted. Ya think maybe there were more than a few homos caught in that wide net they were casting? But even then, I don't see any feathered-boas storming the beach in all those Normandy invasion photos.) have the sexual attitudes of the current coming of age generation. Younger people are miles ahead on the tolerance meter. I doubt that there would be much hazing or whatever else.

President Obama, in my mind, was correct in calling for a study or proposal or whatever it was he called for, on how to rewind the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. A policy that was stupid, unworkable, and contradictory to begin with.

But it's got to be done within the military services. It can't come down as a dictate from on high from some civilian who knows nothing at all about the military lifestyle.

Don't get me wrong. If the military still thinks a no homo policy is their best course, then so be it. I don't believe access to a military career to be a basic right any more than access to a career as rabbi is. And if closing the doors on 1-2% of the population is a threat to defensive readiness, then maybe we have bigger issues to address than that.

I think he should urge them, not command them. And that appears to be the direction he's taking.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

OK, so this dude gets pissed off at the Feds, and the IRS specifically, and crashes his private plane into an IRS office building.

I'm not saying this is the proper course of action, but...
you kinda have to be a little sympathetic, don't you think?

I mean, ya know... it's the IRS. It's not like they do were doing anything positive in there.
Hasn't this guy jumped the shark a long time ago?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Al Gore Was Right

It's February 15th, and I'm going to bed with the windows open.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Miss What, Really?

This is in thought to a bloodletting that took place in another blog place. I know most of my readers are GOP-tilted, so I am posing this question toward y'all, but the 'other' side's comments are equally entitled.

(I am choosing not to reference the other blog because I don't want to continue that fight here with a fresh set of combatants. I want to have a different discussion. And that blog author, if he's read this far, knows who he is by now.)

If Obama left office tonight, what would he have left behind that wasn't already started by the previous administration?
What long standing damage would he have left?

To say that 'we'll be sorry' after four years isn't saying anything. Because he hasn't yet done anything.
If the next three are anything like the past one, I'd say doing nothing is not as bad as doing something could have been.

My gift to you...instead of chocolates.

This is Tully. Here's a poem of which I'm a fan. I'll save my commentary for the comment thread. I'd really like to see what reflections will come from Gino's readers, who are probably more experienced than I in matters of love. EDIT: Perhaps it's easier if you see my comment on the blog itself rather than having to flip to the comments. It will, then, follow the poem.

The Clod and the Pebble
by William Blake

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little clod of clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet;
But a pebble of the brook
Warbled out these meters meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

What I find surprising here is that the clod of clay that has been trodden takes up a vision of love that we would consider more romantic and less cynical than that of the pebble in the brook. When we are in our most pain, trodden by experience, we cling all the more to idealism and altruistic visions of human nature, because we are trodden while we are still soft. When we are pebbles in a brook, which I take to be relatively peaceful and safe from the hazards of the trodden land, we need no such comfort, or can find ample satisfaction in a more egoistic vision of love.

According to the pebble, Love seeks Self to please--that is, it seeks to please the self isolated from the other...the delight is there on love's account, and the beloved is sought to accompany love. I hesitate to say "merely to accompany love" because this needn't be a cynical conclusion. The pebble has distance on the pains of experience, and so can conclude that love seeks to please the Self. On account of its distance, the pebble could be wrong.

On account of its lack of distance the clay could be wrong. More likely, there is no right or wrong answer because the answer is so dependent upon whether hell is the foundation out of which heaven is built, or visa versa. Neither is hell to be wicked or villainous in the conventional sense. Hell is that which shakes up the moral order of heaven--the order of comfort. To discomfort the other, however comfortable may be that other with one, is to create hell in heaven's despite. From the brook, without having suffered the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", we want to love more than to be loved...we want to shake the other to his or her core, and to remain as passionate as ever without being shaken oneself, is that not the ideal?

But for the clod of clay, love must hold out as a source of comfort--as giving--as selfless, giving "ease" and "creating heaven in hell's despair. Notice the prevalent is, for the clay, hell, not heaven. Heaven is that which can be made only to one already thrown into hell. The pebble in the brook is not in hell, but in heaven, where only "Hosanna" is sung until the unmitigated madness of hell is indeed our only hope. Whether our revolution upon the other is good or bad is perhaps all-too-irrelevant.

Both are right about love. Love can bring the greatest comfort to one who needs to be loved--the clay. Love can bring the greatest discomfort to one who doesn't need to be loved and the greatest pleasure to one who needs to love. To appreciate at this moment both Loves for what they are requires that we be both trodden and untrodden at once--perhaps the distant suffering of the solitary sage...but in his solitude does he not become the pebble? The sage must know more than his sagacity: He must know friendship, and only then will he know Love.

Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seemingly, my written words have gone to join my spoken words.

Stayed tuned. I'll find them soon enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making The Super Bowl Even More Super Than That

The road to the Super Bowl is paved with hard work performed in often times brutal conditions.
Neither rain, sleet, nor snow prevents the game of football from being played, the weather being as much a part of the battle as the skills and determination of the opposing teams.
And just like covered domes are viewed as the 12th man on the field for home teams, so are snow and ice for teams such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and a host of others.

So it seems to be a bastardisation to have the championship game decided in milder climates, or covered domes, year after year.
To me, this ain't right.
The advantages or disadvantages of weather are as much a part of getting to the Super Bowl as anything, so I propose that these parameters of extreme should be allowed to play in the final result as well.

It'll go like this:
Every host city will take a turn hosting the big game. We will know in advance, 32 years in advance, where the next Super Bowl will be played. We can start with a lottery to decide the order of the first round of cities, and then just follow the pattern from there.

It will also mean the very real possibility of any kind of weather much of the time.
San Diego in the 70's? Nice.
An arctic front sweeping Green Bay in early February? Cool. Let's see what these guys are made of. Who's really the toughest and most determined to overcome adversity.

Other positives:
A game played in Tampa Bay won't face the usual black out threat.
Fans in Minnesota will actually know the real presence of a Lombardi Trophy in their stadium, if only for a few hours.
Los Angeles will continue to be shut out of the NFL.
And it means that the likelihood of a cold weather team getting a home field advantage for the Super Bowl will extend to those who up until now have been denied that possibility.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whiskey And Car Keys

Mrs. Ross was an old lady who lived a couple doors down from us when I was growing up.
Being advanced in years, and confined to a walker, she didn't have much use for the very deep lot her very small house occupied. With a couple very large trees, several bushes, and lots of empty dirt, her yard was a great addition to our play zone, where we could run from one yard through her own yard via a mostly open gate that led the way.

Lots of fun was had there: throwing dirt, building forts, overnight camping, and early experiments in setting booby trap trip lines for our friends. She was trusting of just a couple family's kids, and we were lucky, very lucky, to have her trust.
So long as nothing was seriously destroyed, it was all good to her.
The Rule, though never formally handed down, was culturally understood.

Things were different back then.
If your kid got hurt in somebody else's yard, you patched him up and sent him back out to learn the lesson a second third fourth however many time(s) it took.
What you didn't do was call a lawyer and sue for medical bills. It was a basic understanding among parents: if your kid was was too weak to survive the outdoors, then you'd better keep him indoors.

And Mrs. Ross' yard was as much a training ground as any.

But what it all came down to was who Mrs. Ross was comfortable with destroying her yard. Only a few had the privilege. And she never felt a need to keep an eye on those few as the understanding went both ways.

In this tradition, I am extending play-in-my-yard rights to a frequent commenter who helped keep this place running during the post-op drooling-and-recovery phase I mostly slept through just a little over a year ago.

He's a little busy with his studies to blog on a regular basis, but I know he has a few things he'd like ponder out loud from time to time.

So, if you begin to read a post and notice words out of character from what you're used to finding here (like... containing three syllables or more) it's most likely my buddy, Tully.

You know him.

From Paris With Love

What happens when a low-level CIA officer in Paris is partnered up with a highly decorated wet work operative?

You can see From Paris With Love to find out.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays James Reese, the upstart to John Travolta's audacious and brash Charlie Wax.
To put it another way: A guy who has never shot anybody is assigned to work with another guy who has never not shot anybody.
Ya with me, so far?

Co-written and co-produced by Luc Besson of "Leon: The Professional", and the action is delivered in much the same way, as the two heroes chase down, gun down, and smack down a Pakistani terrorist cell, laying waste to a string of Parisian tenements as plaster explodes and bodies pile up.

This was fun from start to finish.
See it.

(Amanda, especially you. You'd like it.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Top Five Reasons To Cheer The Saints

1. The Saints have never been to the Super Bowl. I think it would be really cool to see a team as beat down and these guys have been finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

2. "Saints" is a cool name for a team. At least cooler than being named for a baby horse.

3. Black and Gold as team colors beats Blue and White.

4. The Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. And I'm still a little bothered by that.

5. Manning Fatigue. I'm tired of seeing Peyton in every commercial. I'm tired of Colts games being all about Peyton. I want Peyton Manning off my television, and out of my living room. And him receiving the Favre Treatment, a la Saints defense, will be a first step in that direction, making the world a little bit better place.
Sorry, I've been a lazy blogger of late. I got a few ideas in the pipe that I'll bring to fore in the next day or two.

Until then, enjoy the Super Bowl.

I'll be cheering on the Saints.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Cat Has Mojo

A cat with an uncanny ability to detect when nursing home patients are about to die has proven itself in around 50 cases by curling up with them in their final hours.
Dr David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, said that five years of records showed Oscar rarely erring, sometimes proving medical staff at the New England nursing home wrong in their predictions over which patients were close to death.
I believe cats are special creatures generally, but this one is uncanny.
Dr Dosa and other staff are so confident in Oscar's accuracy that they will alert family members when the cat jumps on to a bed and stretches out beside its occupant.
That's how I want to go. To die as I had lived: with a cat curled up at my side.


Feisty, slippery, ink-squirting Humboldt squid have streamed into Orange County waters in large numbers, and anglers off Newport Beach are wrestling them into boats.

I'm not sure if they're good eating or not, but just the thought of those extra large calamari rings, breaded and fried to a golden brown, piled high on a plate platter is enough to make my tummy rumble.