Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Moules a l'orange

I haven't posted any food stuff lately...but that doesn't mean I don't have an incredible backlog of recipes and successful experiments with tomatoes that I plan to unleash upon the world in the near future. Today, though, I had lunch with my old friends Thierry and Catherine. Thierry is a brilliant entrepreneur who has patented a method and is marketing his truffle infested oaks and noisette trees. Of course, you have to have the correct soil ph to make this delicate symbiotic relationship pay off...
They are transplanted Belgians who have lived here in the Dordogne for almost 20 years. The national dish of Belgium, of course is Moules et Frites....Mussels and French Fried Potatoes.
I won't explain how to make perfect French Fried Potatoes, I suppose that could be the subject of another post in itself, but the Belgian, Northern European mode of serving Frit is with Mayonaise.
There are many methods of steaming mussels. First, of course, you pick them over and discard the ones that have opened...they are dead. The living Mussels are tightly closed and have a beard, which you have to easily clean off.
This is such an easy recipe, yet it is one of the best mussel dishes I have ever had. You need some cream, or half and half, which you warm up in a pan. Do not boil it.
Then an orange, which you zest...simply scrape the peel off. There are many tools sold to do this conveniently. I suppose the best orange is an organic, non treated orange, but in lieu of this, scrub the orange well before you scrape the peel off. you then dice the peel in little pieces.
Put a pot with a cover on the fire. When it is hot, add the mussels and shake the pot. Toss in the orange peel. grind some pepper.... a few seconds, the mussels will only a few minutes, they are done. The liquid from the mussels does the rest. Add the heated cream and serve.
What you've never eaten mussels before? You suck the little guys from their shells, while you eat French Fries with have to have good bread of course. If you are Belgian, you should butter the bread. If you are French, then you must butter the bread with fresh butter with crystals of sel de guerlain. The mussel juice/orange/cream is something divine, which you can soak up with your bread or have like soup......
The wine we had with lunch was a very dry ordinary Vin Blanc de Bergerac, which is a local white from the Dordogne....

Badefols d'Ans Virtual Vacation

here's a view of my village, Badefols d'Ans
looking east from the lavoir at the Chateau and l'eglise de St. Vincent / St. Cloud
 looking North from in the village, at the church
The door is open, let's go inside...
I have lived about 2 kilometers south of the village of Badefols d'Ans for almost 10 years. We are in the NorthEastern Dordogne, almost on the border of the Correze. The altitude of Badefols is bout 300 meters and we can see the mountains of the Massive Central on the horizon in the east. We are in the commune of Hautefort, where one of the great Chaeaus of Dordogne sits.   The closest big place is Terrasson-la-Villedieud' on the Vezere River, city built into the cliff and which is one of the most ancient continually inhabited places in Europe. Badefols d'Ans is a very ancient place, there is a lot of evidence of prehistory here. I am always finding flint arrow points in my garden. We are above the Oak limestone causse here, and there are still a lot of forested areas. The predominate trees are chestnuts and hornebeam. The biggest crop here are walnuts. Thousands of hectares of hills are planted as walnut orchards. The main road here has the name,  La Route de Noix orThe Walnut Road.
Much of the farmland is used as pasture for cattle. This is not a dairy region, the cattle are big hearty Limousin and are raised for veal. To be fair, it is not anything like the veal you would find in America. This is free range in the best sense of the word.
The Chateau is privately owned and dates from the 11th century, but it has been modified up until the 16th. It was partially destroyed by the Germans near the end of the 2nd World War because the family was very active active in the Resistance. The chateau has been restored and the surviving  family members still live there and maintain the grounds.
There was an important monastery here, linked with the abbey of Chatres on the next hilltop, about  5 kilometers south. In fact the name Badefols seems to be linked with the legend of the monastery, in the eighth century. The story is that there was a hermit who lived in a cave on the hill and had a very loud voice. Every Sunday morning, he would climb to the top of the hill and yell at the top of lungs, telling everyone to stop working and go to church! Badefols seems to be a corruption of the Latin/Patois meaning Screaming Fool! Supposedly, the abbey was founded by St. Cloud, a grandson of the  Great Merovingian King, Clovis. His brothers were murdered by their uncle, Childebert as he claimed their share of Gaul when their father, Clodomir died. Cloud gave up his claim to the throne and became a monk and died around 560 ad.
Once there was a bit of commerce here, but now it is a quiet residential farming town. We have a great little hotel with a very good Restaurant, Les Tilluels, but outside of a little Epicerie, a bakery, a garage and a sawmill, nothing much is going on. If you show up here around the weekend of the 11th of September, the annual and ancient Fete de St. Cloud takes place. Dances, parades and a traditional market featuring fall vegetables and a veal cow auction are all part of a tradition that goes back to the middle ages. I've posted pictures of the the tractor parade here in years past.
So, let's go inside the church. There's a painted ceiling from the 16th century.
Here's the ceiling....

But why don't you check out this link here to take a virtual tour of the interior!
A very cool place on a hot summer day.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Hurricane Irene Batters The Bahamas
New York City Shuts Down

Blessed relief for all of my friends in NYC after the angst....

Join, Or Don't...Or Tread On Me And Die...? I'm So Confused....

Since the tea brain movement rose to prominence in early 2009, the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag has been a ubiquitous presence at everything from health care protests to campaign stops.It features the Revolutionary War-era slogan, along with a coiled rattlesnake, because, as Benjamin Franklin explained, the rattler “never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders.”
Franklin sketched, carved and published the first known political cartoon in an American Newspaper. It was the image of a snake cut into eight sections. The sections represented the individual colonies and the curves of the snake suggested the coastline. New England was combined into one section as the head of the snake. South Carolina was at the tail. Beneath the snake were the ominous words, "JOIN OR DIE!"

But Franklin's original design was pre Revolution, it was a 1754 editorial illustration during the French an Indian War which played off a common superstition of the time: that a snake that had been cut in pieces could come back to life if you joined the sections together before sunset.
But the flag doesn’t feature just any snake; it’s a eastern diamondback rattlesnake—and despite what the flag says, lots of people seem to be treading on its natural habitat.
According to a new report from the Center for Biological Diverity, the species could be nearing extinction unless the federal government intervenes. Scientific American reports that the CBD, along with Protect All Living Species and the delightfully acronymed One More Generation, have petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as an endangered species.
The rattler is down to 3 percent of its orginal habitat, and according to the CBD, its population has fallen from 3 million to 100,000. From the report:
“The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a wildlife icon of North America,” said biologist Bruce Means, president and executive director of the Coastal Plains Institute, in a prepared statement. Means was also one of the petitioners. “Africa has its lion, Asia its tiger, and we can boast of this marvelous ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ snake. Like so many others, it’s a wildlife treasure that we must not allow to go extinct. Remaining habitat for the snake must be preserved, and negative public attitudes toward these nonaggressive animals must be reversed.”
But how will this sit with tea partiers? As  Kate Sheppard has reported, many tea partiers view the Endangered Species Act as a tool of an overreaching federal government—if not something even more nefarious.
In Florida, conservative activists are fighting to roll back manatee protection rules because they believe the regulations are part of a United Nations plan called “Agenda 21,” which they fear will force humans to live in designated areas and turn the rest of the planet into protected biosphere reserves.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning Not To Dream....

Through out history, social change and the force behind the movements which impelled change come from the inspiration and energy of youth. The democratization movements of the Middle East, Libya, Egypt and most important, Iran, are primarily fueled by the young people of those countries. Idealism that is young, dreams which are alive, still being dreamt and haven't been extinguished and snuffed out.
The idealism to believe that you can do something, that your life is worth giving to an idea.
Why is it that in America, the youth are more complacent than even the older population?
There is this sense of helplessness, that democracy has become corporatocracy and they are completely screwed. A 2010 Gallup Poll asked, "Do you think Social Security will be able to pay you benefits when you retire?" Among the 18 to 34 year old group, 76% said no. Yet in spite of this lack of faith in the availability of Social security, which they pay into, the obvious reaction which would be anger and a demand that the wealthy pay higher and more fair taxes, just isn't there.
How has this situation, which has changed so radically in the last 30 years, come about?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Student Loan Debt and the fear it creates. The ever increasing cost of education in America is a pacifying force. 30 years ago, there was no tuition at The City University of New York. When I went to college in the 70's in Toledo, the tuition was so affordable that I could work and earn my B.A. with out incurring any student loan debt.
Education is free in the Arab World. The Egyptians who deposed Mubarak, the Iranian kids who protested and were brutally suppressed in 2009, even the American anti-war movement of the 60's and 70's were composed of educated students who were relatively free of crippling debt.
Now, an American Student can expect to finish school with anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 bucks in debt.  The effect of accepting this debt as a natural fact of life cripples activism and encourages political passivity.
2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Non compliance. In 1955, Erich Fromm wrote, "Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become a tool in the manipulation of man." Fromm died in 1970, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Reagan and the same time an increasingly authoritative American Psychiatric Association began to focus on "disruptive mental disorders" in children and teens with new labels like "oppositional defiant disorder" (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests and rules", "often argues with adults" and "often does things deliberately to annoy other people". In other words, normal adolescent behavior can be used as a reason to "treat" a disruptive influence. Heavily tranquilizing antipsychotic drugs (e.g. Zyprexa and Risperdal) are now the highest grossing class of medication in the United States ($16 billion in 2010); a major reason for this, according to theJournal of the American Medical Association in 2010, is that many children receiving antipsychotic drugs have nonpsychotic diagnoses such as ODD or some other disruptive disorder (this especially true of Medicaid-covered pediatric patients). 
3. Schools that educate for Compliance and not for Democracy. The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation. A teacher can lecture about democracy, but schools are essentially undemocratic places, and so democracy is not what is instilled in students. Jonathan Kozol in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home focused on how school breaks us from courageous actions. Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.
4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities. 
5. The Normalization of Surveillance. The fear of being surveilled makes a population easier to control. While the National Security Agency (NSA) has received publicity for monitoring American citizen’s email and phone conversations, and while employer surveillance has become increasingly common in the United States, young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance because, beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives. Parents routinely check Web sites for their kid’s latest test grades and completed assignments, and just like employers, are monitoring their children’s computers and Facebook pages. Some parents use the GPS in their children’s cell phones to track their whereabouts, and other parents have video cameras in their homes. Increasingly, I talk with young people who lack the confidence that they can even pull off a party when their parents are out of town, and so how much confidence are they going to have about pulling off a democratic movement below the radar of authorities? 
6. Television. In 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that TV viewing in the United States is at an all-time high if one includes the following “three screens”: a television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone. American children average eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other technologies (not including school-related use). Many progressives are concerned about the concentrated control of content by the corporate media, but the mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards).

Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see; fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy; TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming, TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically. While playing a video games is not as zombifying as passively viewing TV, such games have become for many boys and young men their only experience of potency, and this “virtual potency” is certainly no threat to the ruling elite.
7.  Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism. American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism. Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see. A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements. 

These are 7 items that contribute to the suppression of individual thought and crushing resistance to domination, but we must also consider the epidemic of childhood obesity, which brings it's entire range of depression, health related problems and passivity into play.
The justice system...recall the 2 Pennsylvania judges who were recently accused of taking $2.6 million in payments from the corporate prison system to ensure they kept a steady flow of profit making young people incarcerated.
This is how Corporate America creates Perfect Republican REPLICANTS.

Why We Must Never, Ever Elect A Theocrat

There was a really excellent piece in the Washington Post on August 20, 2011 by Alexander Keyssar about the complete unraveling of the social contract in America. Keysser taught at Brandeis and now teaches at Cambridge.  Keyssar posits that the American social contract consisted of three important components -- 1) the regulation of business to stop the excesses of capitalism that threatened the safety and stability of society; 2) the allowance for workers to organize in order to demand a greater share of the pie created by capitalism; and 3) social insurance to alleviate the hardships that could not be addressed in the marketplace or workplace.    He argues in this article that all three of these pillars of the social contract, which have been under attack for decades, are now seriously threatened.  Moreover, he points out that things like the Citizens United decision, the Republican pushed voter ID laws, and the attacks on the 17th Amendment and the direct election of senators, constitute an attack on democracy itself.  A world in which this social contract is destroyed and the electoral means to rectify it made difficult, if not impossible, is not a world in which I am anxious to live.
I suppose this is inspired by my ongoing comments in the piece I posted at J.O.B. on my impressions of the French Medical System as opposed to America's non system. One series of comments I posed and I elaborate on here was:
"Why is it important to you that Perry -- and the majority of Republican Presidential candidates in the last two election cycles -- claim to be willing to consider creationism and evolution equivalent?"  Here is my stab at it.  I think it is important that politicians attempt to undertake policies that have an empirical basis indicating their efficacy.  I would not want to elect someone who believes that the National Institutes of Health should promote "bleeding" or "hot cupping" as a means for treating illness nor someone who believes that the alleged grant of dominion over the birds of the air and the fish in the sea in the Bible means we should indiscriminately slaughter animals to the point of extinction.  Nor do I want to elect someone who has no sense of the scientific method or other evidence-based modes of thinking.  And I sure as hell don't want to elect someone who thinks that the abstinence-only approach to sex education and family planning works. 
Yes, why is Perry taken seriously as a candidate after the 8 years of George Bush Jr.? Is he being foisted upon us as The Bilderberg Conspiracy Candidate? Is that why he is suddenly the darling of Wall Street Corporations Are People too contributions?  

Is this why Perry seems to be able to say anything and get away with it? Can America afford to elect a self admitted theocrat with a connection to the New Apostolic Reformation Dominionist Pentacostalist Group?
Here's a video by Think Progress that goes a long way towards debunking some of the myths that the ignorant are fed about Perry. Here's some real truth:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ladies Gentlemen....

Ladies and gentlemen, Pat Robertson claims he doesn't want to get weird on y'all...
naww....but seriously desparate stoopid? Yes!!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pon Pon Pon



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

decisions, decisions....sometimes I get so confused!

Rwanda meets America via France

I am publishing this piece because I was asked to write about my personal experiences with the health care systems in the United States and France by a blogger with the tag J.O.B. I get the impression that a lot of his readers are a little right of center, to say the least. In some ways, this is a continuation of the ideas I was writing about in my earlier piece on the fledgling Rwuandan Health care System. I might have thought twice about doing this, but, I like the guy, his desire to ask questions and listen and his honesty. To me, that goes a long I wrote this and he will put it on his blog. Perhaps you might check out the reactions and want to take part in the discussion that is being conducted on a blog from Crestwood, IL:

J.O.B. asked me to write a little about my personal experience and impressions of the differences between American Health care and French Health care. I am an American citizen, and an ex Toledo resident, married to a naturalized French Citizen. I have the equivalent of a "Green Card" here, a Carte Du Sejour. I pay taxes in America and also in France. I am a property owner her. I earn money in America and in France and have never been a recipient of "welfare", except for a few months on unemployment in the USA over a 35 year working period.
I worked for a railroad in Toledo in the 1970's and was a Union Member. I did have health care benefits, but I never had to take advantage of them. Later, I moved to NYC and worked for a small company as a graphic designer. The company had a good small business health insurance provider and in the early 90's, I was hospitalized for a week and thank my lucky stars for the coverage.
When I saw the bills that the insurance had covered for hospital, treatment and subsequent tests, I was floored by the astronomical amount that my insurance covered for a relatively minor illness. As a child, I grew up in a family that was literally destroyed by illness. My mother died of multiple sclerosis after a 6 year decline. My father worked for Chrysler and had insurance at the time, but he still was saddled with bills that remained unpaid at the time of his death a few years later. We were an average white collar middle class family impoverished by catastrophic illness.
Subsequently, I always held the viewpoint that the best way to stay healthy was to stay away from doctors. When I left my full time design job in New York, I became a self employed free lancer. I was offered a co pay insurance from old insurer. It would have cost about 300 bucks a month. This was the period about 12 years ago that I first started to live between the USA and France.
Luckily, I was in pretty good health. I really could not afford the 300 dollar a month insurance. From what I gather from my friends and relatives, that amount isn't very steep. My brother in law in California seems to be very proud that he is only paying 1000 bucks a month.
This reflects the basically out of control health care system in America. Over billing, the profit on drugs, the doctors charges, at the cost of administration of the system itself as well as the salaries of the insurance CEO's, the advertising and of course the political lobbying are all charges that are passed on to you, the consumer.
The problem is that to reform a system as embedded and corrupt as America's would entail destroying it and rebuilding it. When I first moved here, I saw a doctor for simple things like getting tetanus shots after I was treated for physical injury. I live in a very rural location and tetanus is big concern!
I was first amazed that my visits to my local doctor were 20 Euros cash...I was not covered by any system at the time. I was given a prescription for a tetanus shot dose, which entailed me going to my local pharmacy and buying the vial there, which I brought back to the doctor and he gave me the shot.
I have had a life long asthma condition which flares up from time to time. I ended up having to see a doctor for it a few years ago and again the office visit was 20 Euros and the cost of the prescriptions run me about 250 Euros a year. When I had the problem which caused me to seek treatment, I had an emergency visit from a doctor at my house on a Sunday afternoon which cost me 40 Euros!
Presently, I am enrolled in the French Medical System. Now that I am an official resident, I have a Carte Vitale which has a computer chip in it. When I go to thedoctors, the card get swiped and I pay, but I get reimbursed by the government for 18 Euros. So now, my doctors visits cost me 2 Euros. The same with prescription drugs. I pay up front, the card get swiped, the bill go to the Medical Administration which approves the transaction and I get reimbursed and end up paying 2 Euros for each prescription filled. I payed around 250 Euros a year before I was enrolled in the system, now I pay perhaps 10.
But, I do have "insurance" instead of insurance companies here, we have what are called Mutuals...when you go to hospital, you are guaranteed treatment, no matter who you are. The Mutual covers anything above the basic level. The Mutual also reimburses the 2 dollar fee which you pay on prescriptions and doctor visits. My Mutual de Perigord policy costs me 18 Euros a month.
The government cover most basic dental work as well. I have a great dentist in a town called Vergt. Before I was covered by the government, most basic procedures cost me about 20 Euros a visit. My dentist has a state of the art clinic and is a swell guy to boot. Before I was covered in fact, he once took payment in a few bottles of Wine from the Chateau Vieux Chevrol, where i work. I am also covered by agricultural workers insurance when I work at Vieux Chevrol. The amount of coverage guaranteed by the French System is based on income. If you are unemployed and have no income, you cannot be denied medical treatment. Because of the administrative system and the basic difference in approach to medical treatment, the over all costs of the system per person is much lower than in America. I would say the basic difference is emphasis on the philosophy of prevention and the regional organization of treatment. No matter how you cut it, the over all health here is much better statistically than much of the rest of the world. You have the right to free screening. All senior citizens are notified to come in if they want for a full range of diagnostic tests. This is why France has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. There is prenatal and post natal care. Parents are guaranteed maternity leave. Senior citizens have a wide range of services provided to keep them independent and out of care centers. Of course the basic responsibility for health rests with the individual,  but recognizing that health care and access to health care services is a human right and not a privilege goes a long way to insuring a population stays healthy and productive.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Life is a horizontal fall"
Jean Cocteau

Things Change....

A reminder of how things change: This picture was taken at the 2010 "Arab African Summit" in Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown. The four leaders in front: Tunisia's Ben Ali, Yemen's Saleh, Libya's Gaddafi and Egypt's Mubarak.
Ben Ali has fled and been tried in absentia, Saleh has been seriously injured in an attack on his compound and is recuperating in Saudi Arabia, Mubarak faces the death penalty in his own country, and Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown.
For the absolute best constantly updated coverage on the situation in Libya, Al Jazeera English Libya Blog....I have been looking at the Guardian, which is pretty good. The other services, including BBC and CNN are always a half beat behind, but Al Jazeera has been on the ground since day one and they are the experts.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's Missing In This System?

I have two friends who have told me their own hair raising personal story of being on the last plane out of Ruanda at the height of the collapse of the Ruandan Society in the horrific tribal massacres in 1994. They worked with Medicins sans Frontiers and with the refugee camps that were necessary because of the tribal warfare. The collapse of Ruandan society has been discussed endlessly, it occurred after country experienced a century of colonial tribal manipulation under first German Rule and the becoming a Belgian colony after the First World War. In 1964, Ruanda became independent, but the friction of tribal rivalry which had been exploited by the Belgians came to an ugly head 30 years later with a massacre that totaled over 1 million victims.
In the after math, the country was traumatized and economically devastated. Ruanda was never a rich place. There is no real mineral wealth, no oil, no gold, no uranium. The society is based on farming and agricultural exports are the basis of the economy. I learned about Ruanda because I was interested in fish and actually bred Ruandan Rift Lake Chiclids as a hobby. After the massacres, I was actually a source for the breeding stock in New York City and sold these fascinating mouth breeders to a few pet stores in lower Manhattan.
But the massacres occurred 17 years ago and since then, a traumatized land has begun to heal and deal with the problems that created the horror. In the wake, they have become one of the most progressive nations in Africa, creating a new agricultural and ecological tourism based economy.
The government has embarked on one of the most ambitious health care systems in the world. Te logic is that a healthy population is a productive population and in the last 15 years, the life expectancy of the average Ruandan has doubled! 
The cost to a Ruandan for health care? $2.00 a year. 97% of the population is insured by this program, the ones opting out are only those who do not trust western health care....
A good example is the 150 bed Butaro "Harvard Quality" hospital in a city that previously had no medical facilities at all.
The 150-bed Butaro hospital was built in only two years at a cost of R40-million. (The cost of a comparable hospital in the U.S. would be 225-300 million USD). The physical structure itself is designed to scrub the air twelve times per hour to reduce risk of airborne infection. Here, that requires multi-million dollar machines. The Butaro hospital has advanced laboratory facilities, telemedicine capability, and a fully functional, user-friendly electronic records system.
In a country where the annual per capita income was $510 in 2009, patients get as high quality medical care as we get here in the richest nation on earth. But wait - their care is better! Why? Because it cost a tiny fraction of what health care costs us here.
What is missing from the new hospital in Butaro? Answer: things that waste money, such as unnecessary duplication and the #1 dollar waster in U.S. healthcare: a massively bloated bureaucracy needed to support a costly and harmful regulatory machine.  
Let's qualify that, because, though the administrative system wastes so much money, the real burden is on the consumer, who pays for the bloated vampiric insurance agencies and their advertising budgets, the lobbyists, the over-billing, the salaries of the Health Care CEO's. This is the monster that has become the dysfunctional American Health Care System. It's the best in the world, they say, but only if you can afford it. Most Americans can't. It is the inherent flawed American Health Care System, which cannot be reformed with out first destroying it. This is why Obama's attempts at reform are so easy for his opponents to throw mud at. They don't have to be concerned with reforming a corrupt system which they profit from and enable. 
Before 2010, the U.S. healthcare bureaucracy consumed almost 40% of healthcare expenditures. That is right: 40% of all U.S. healthcare dollars never touch a patient. With passage of PPAHCA (disingenuously named Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act), that number could approach 50%. Even Everett Dirksen would consider throwing away one trillion dollars a year wasting "real money."
You really need to experience healthcare from the inside to appreciate fully how and how much the U.S. healthcare ‘system' wastes dollars and frustrates providers. Most of that daily waste is missing from Rwanda.
Doctors in Rwanda can communicate with each other without fear that HIPAA looking over their shoulders hoping to find them "out of compliance" and pull their licenses.
Hospitals in Rwanda do not waste time and money preparing for a Review by the Joint Commission (JC). They do not have to hide their doorstops on take down the books on top shelves. If the JC reviewers find doorstops or anything within 18 inches on the ceiling tiles in doctors' offices, they can close the hospital because those infractions will place them "out of compliance."
Nurses in Rwanda can spend time with patients, time that American nurses must waste in repeated annual training modules about security upgrades, ethics infractions, theoretical biohazards, and the next set of regulations that must be followed to the letter.
Nurses in Rwanda can use the infection prevention checklist without filing a research protocol with the FDA.
In Rwanda, restocking hospital supplies does not require multiple committee meetings, forms in quadruplicate, and pre-approval by legal counsel.
In Rwanda, research to find better ways to treat patients does not require 87 different steps*, each involving multiple committee meetings, thousands of man-hours and billions of red tape dollars.
*The number 87 was not picked at random. Dr. David Dilts at Vanderbilt reported in a 2006 article that number of different steps are mandated when going from an idea to actually starting a clinical research project. 

One more thing that is missing in Rwanda: Federal organizational charts. Go online and look at the organizational charts for the NIH or the FDA. Then recognize that every box represents a whole agency with its own organizational chart, and each box in a box represents hundreds of bureaucrats, thousands of regulations to oversee, billions of dollars to consume, and thousands of providers to hound right out of health care.

To your right is displayed an organizational chart for the Healthcare ‘Reform' Act (PPAHCA). Are you surprised that it will cost only a trillion or so dollars? This too is missing from Rwandan healthcare.

For some inexplicable reason, the U.S. Public thinks that healthcare regulations are free or at least that they do not have to pay for them. In fact, the Federal healthcare bureaucracy is the leading cause of dollar wastage in the U.S.  Those are dollars they do not need to waste in Rwanda.
But then again, another  part of the Rwandan system is preventative care. That is not a part of the American approach. Money spent on prevention is money 10 times saved on treatment. That might be the biggest factor of what is fact it is more of what is really missing in American Health care....
If patients in Rwanda can get high quality care without regulations ‘protecting' them, why are we throwing away trillions of dollars a year on healthcare regulations and bureaucracy, money that we do not have?
The real question perhaps is how can a system be reformed that is so inherently flawed in the first place?
Does America have to experience a public health trauma on the level of Rwanda's to wake up to the fact that things just don't work. In my opinion, America is suffering from an ongoing Health Care disaster that we have become inured to. the scope of the disaster is increasing on a slow but steady incremental basis. Obama has tried to deal with it, but the insurance companies, the health care lobbies, the drug companies and the inherent evolved bureaucracy make it impossible to really make a meaningful change...
Will it take a Health Care Holocaust?


It is so damn hot here today...It's 3:45 and if I do my calculations right it is actually 112 degrees farenheit. So, I guess I have to put a lot of my outside activities on "hold" till it cools down. My dog says I should just get drunk, he;s usually right about things like this...but instead, I'm gonna listen to some Hoosier Hot Shots....
These guys were brilliant! What is this? Klezmer meets Country? 

Libyan Liberation Song

سوف نبقى هنا كي يزول الألم سوف نحيا هنا سوف يحلو النغم موطني موطني موطني ذا الإباء موطني موطني موطني يا أنا رغم كيد العدا رغم كل النقم سوف نسعى إلى أن تعم النعم سوف نرنو إلى رفع كل الهمم بالمسير للعلا ومناجاة القمم فلنقم كلنا بالدوا والقلم كلنا عطف على من يصارع السقم ولنواصل المسير نحو غاية أهم ونكون حقا خير امة بين الامم كم سهرنا من ليالى للصباح لا ننم كم عراقيل كسرنا كم حفظنا من رزم كم جسور قد عبرنا كم ذرفنا من حمم نبتغى صيد المعالى نبتغى راس الهرم
in english: We will stay here till the pain goes, we will live here the song will become beautiful
My country my country proudly  my country my country is me
......this what the prosteers are singning.....

As usual, conflicting reports are spinning out of Libya, but for my money, it looks like this is really the beginning of the end for Gaddafi. I would really be surprised if he was alive at the end of the month. The tribal/rebel coalition aided by NATO is closing in on Tripoli in a three way advance and latest reports are that Gadaffi and his family have fled the capitol

Gaddafi was by any definition a very bad man. He was a ruthless dictator who plundered his country to enrich himself and his family. He attacked neighboring countries in wars to stroke his ego. He supplied money and weapons to a long list of European terrorist organizations: RAF (Baader-Meinhof), Action Direct, IRA, PIRA and when the terrorists did not perform enough murders for his taste he ordered the bombing of two civilian jets. He also ordered the London Embassy to shoot at unarmed protestors leading to the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher.

In short, Gaddafi was everything that Bush accused Saddam of being and so of course Bush decided to let bygones be bygones and agree to drop sanctions against Libya and Gadaffi in return for Libyan support for Bush's insane war against Saddam and Iraq.

Is it any wonder that nobody in the Arab world believed Bush when he claimed to be spreading democracy?

While reports that Gaddafi is planning to leave the country are almost certainly black propaganda, it seems more likely than not that the dictator will be dead within a month and good riddance. IF the US is going to be a hegemonist then it should at least be a smart one and act against the worst of the worst when they are weak (e.g. the Libyan campaign) and not 'slam some country up against the wall every so often just to show that we can' according to the Bush doctrine.

But far better for the US to give up the idea of being a hegemonic actor at all. That role was not good for Britain at the height of its empire and has certainly not served the US well. Rudyard Kippling the poet of empire predicted as much, when he wrote the phrase 'the white man's burden' he was making a scathing reference to the US invasion of the Phillipeans.

If anyone really wants to know why the US has a massive deficit, just look at the military budget (and it is militarism, not defense you are paying for). The US spends half of all global spending on militarism. US allies spend half of the remainder. Which means that the US plus its allies spend three quarters of global spending on 'defense'. Under Bush spending on militarism increased 75%, from $400 billion to $700 billion in 2010 dollars.

When Bush took office he took command of the greatest military power the world has ever seen. And the nincompoop just could not resist the urge to use it. And when the first war against the enemy who actually attacked us proved to be insufficiently exciting he went and started a second one just because he could.

 The British establishment has a long memory and it does make sense for the UK and France to act against a neighbor that has committed repeated acts of unprovoked terrorism against them. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Helping the Free Libya forces displace the dictator by placing a heavy thumb on the scales by means of air strikes makes perfect sense. But why does the US have to join in? Isn't two active wars enough? Ah but what if the Europeans managed to displace Gaddafi without 'the essential actor', perhaps then the US could decide to spend a little less on being a hegemon and let other countries take up some of the burden.

Of course Gaddafi could not be trusted to keep his word, of course Gaddafi will go back to terrorism given the chance. But those are reasons why the US should not have agreed not to attack Libya in return for Gaddafi's promise not to acquire nuclear weapons. Bush was foolish to have made the deal, but once it was struck the US should have kept its part so that the next dictator we need to strike a deal with might trust it.
Perhaps we could have a rule that the US President can launch whatever air strikes he chooses, but the ordinance will not be replaced during their term and the next President can only replace half of what is used

my new Libyan flag design

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Max Ernst 1934 by Man Ray

IED...ignorant economical dysfunctionalization

What is the short circuit of logic that allows millions of Americans to blind themselves to the manipulation of the dysfunctional economic system they are being buried under? What is the mechanism that gives them the idea that fair share  taxation, socially responsible programs and workers rights are some how subversive, to be classified as some kind of vague communistic/socialist plot? Because many Americans are programmed to respond to any question regarding these matters using these terms which, if pressed, they could never define.
I used to think it was simply a matter of class denial...there is something so blindly proud in the American psyche, that many people turn a blind eye to those worse off than themselves as if empathy was the first step in the contagion of poverty. To admit that one needs unemployment benefits, fair taxation and social welfare programs is a step closer to admitting that perhaps the view isn't so rosy out the window of your own trailer. This viewpoint, of manipulated upwardly mobile reality denial goes a long way to describe the mindset of much of the rapidly sinking middle class. "One day, when I get rich, I sure as hell don't want to pay no pay taxes so those the lazy poor suckers who don't want to work buy BMWs...."
But, that, for me was a lazy and simplistic and almost pathetically kind sort of logic.
The economic manipulation of America is based on simple tribal protectionist greed and  cruelty. Hasn't that been the social history of ethnic integration in America? The Dutch hated the English and the Swedes who hated the Swedes and the Dutch, then the Germans and other Eastern Europeans, who of course  had the Negroes as sub human slaves who became the target of the Irish who were hated by everyone and hated the negroes more than any one else to get accepted into the cycle of hate...
Luckily for the Irish, the Italians and Poles started to arrive .........
Call me a misanthrope, but we are all in the same boat. I live in the country and I have discovered that the idyllic country landscape is the scenic backdrop for clan warfare that has extended for centuries. The untold stories of betrayal and treason from the 2nd World War are still being fought here, but not with guns..
People never seem to be so united as when they have someone lower than they have a percieved common enemy. That was how George Bush Jr.climbed from just about the lowest approval ratings of a new president ever to his "mandate"...he was conveniently the president on 9/11 and the American people came together in paranoiac solidarity and gave him what ever he wanted.....
Well, this seemingly disjointed rant has a purpose. I saw this video of how a typical cross sections of Americans waiting in line at The CBS building in NYC for tickets for the Letterman Show, perceive the distribution of wealth and the equity of taxation which was broadcast on PBS.
It is a bout 10 minutes long, but well worth the watch. It begins with Warren Buffet's comments on Charlie Rose, which with in a few short hours after ir was broadcast had the spinning heads on FOX doing 240 rpm a second asking if Buffet was really a SOCIALIST?
Then it moves to Paul Salmon's  report on the wealth gap in the USA today.

Notice that it takes a Sweden (forced wealth redistribution) to produce the middle pie chart. In nature, money rains naturally into the pockets of the already rich and powerful. After all, what's the point of power if you can't use it to win every game you play? 

Note also, by the way, that it takes media collusion to keep people this confused. Only the low-income workers knew the state of things in their own country. 
Another note, pay attention to FOX as they find it more acceptable to refer to the concept of CLASS WARFARE as a buzz word to induce the paranoiac manipulation that corporate conservative America needs to obscure the real issues and retain power....
Why doesn't the USA have a PIRATE PARTY? It is time!  Check out the link and the news about the actual success THE PIRATE PARTY has had today in Germany and Sweden!

Amazingly good use of graphics and animation. A much-watch, in my opinion. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ghost Riders In The Dub

A few of my favorite musicians do something very different as usual. The guitarist known a s Buckethead, the bassist known as uuuh...Bootsy, baby and Bernie Worrell...Dr. Woooo....
I think the drummer is a guy known as The Brain....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Duchamp A Day....

It Was 49 Years Ago, Yesterday

That's right, it was 49 years ago, on August 17th, 1962, that Ringo Starr officially signed on as the Beatles drummer.

If You Get Burned, Don't Blame The Fire

A few British comments and reaction to last weeks riots. I personally felt that Camerons outraged lame hyperbolic speeches could have been applied more aptly to the economic criminals, the bankers, the politicians who have participated in the real destruction of Britain. I've lived through a few real riots and periods of social unrest.  I grew up in Detroit and saw my city burn in 1967. Once the fuse is lit, it's gonna burn....It does no good to try to pin the responsibility for a fire on the gasoline. Only a fool would blame the fire if he gets burned..... it's the arsonists who lit the match.   

London’s riots are not the Tupperware troubles of Greece or Spain, where the middle classes lash out against their day of reckoning. They are the proof that a section of young Britain – the stabbers, shooters, looters, chancers and their frightened acolytes – has fallen off the cliff-edge of a crumbling nation.
The failure of the markets goes hand in hand with human blight. Meanwhile, the view is gaining ground that social democracy, with its safety nets, its costly education and health care for all, is unsustainable in the bleak times ahead. The reality is that it is the only solution. After the Great Crash, Britain recalibrated, for a time. Income differentials fell, the welfare state was born and skills and growth increased.
That exact model is not replicable, but nor, as Adam Smith recognised, can a well-ordered society ever develop when a sizeable number of its members are miserable and, as a consequence, dangerous. This is not a gospel of determinism, for poverty does not ordain lawlessness. Nor, however, is it sufficient to heap contempt on the rioters as if they are a pariah caste.
A great deal has been made over the past few days of the greed of the rioters for consumer goods, not least by Rotherham MP Denis MacShane who accurately remarked, “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption.” This from a man who notoriously claimed £5,900 for eight laptops. Of course, as an MP he obtained these laptops legally through his expenses.
Yesterday, the veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman asked the Prime Minister to consider how these rioters can be “reclaimed” by society. Yes, this is indeed the same Gerald Kaufman who submitted a claim for three months’ expenses totalling £14,301.60, which included £8,865 for a Bang & Olufsen television.
Or take the Salford MP Hazel Blears, who has been loudly calling for draconian action against the looters. I find it very hard to make any kind of ethical distinction between Blears’s expense cheating and tax avoidance, and the straight robbery carried out by the looters.
The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.
Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.
Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.
These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.
If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.
The 1980s were marked by a more traditional struggle between the state and organized labor. The present moment, however, is defined by a more disorganized class politics of reaction, propelled by huge inequalities and a perceived injustice and indifference by the state to the fate of those involved. This time it is also not about race. The looting youngsters in London are a mixture of both immigrants and English natives, and they have quickly and deliberately made their way into the fancier neighborhoods of the city. An incident from the much-gentrified Notting Hill neighborhood in London is particularly telling. Hooded rioters armed with bats invaded the Ledbury, a two-star Michelin restaurant, demanding that diners hand over their wallets and wedding rings. As two female rioters told the BBC, “We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want.”
So class politics are back in what many political scientists see as their most traditional home: the United Kingdom. Most of the country perceives Cameron’s policies as the poor paying for the mistakes of the rich. Thatcher’s neoliberal medicine was equally unpopular in 1981, but she was under no illusions as to what was required to enforce austerity and remains famous to this day for having argued in a 1987 interview that “there [was] no such thing as society.” Cameron’s assumptions have been challenged by these riots, and it is not at all clear that he has an alternative to offer. The rest of the world should take notice: After all, the perverse experiment of high inequality, low growth, and now fiscal austerity is hardly a uniquely British phenomenon.