President Bush is out to wreck the National Park System. Vice President Dick Cheney’s pal Paul Hoffman, formerly executive director of the Cody Wyo Chamber of Commerce and now a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, has produced a 194 page assault on our national heritage.
Masquerading behind a claim that he is making the parks more accessible, Hoffman wants to permit off-roading (driving four wheel drive vehicles where ever irresponsible motorists want to take them), snowmobiles, and jet skis to destroy the terrain and the ambiance of our national treasures.
The whole idea of national parks is the preservation of something truly special for future generations of Americans. In short, the national park system is not the president’s to destroy. It belongs to us.
On top of that, the Hoffman plan would explicitly permit the sale of religious merchandise and remove all reference to evolution or evolutionary processes from Park literature. That is part of an effort to strip park management of any vestige of science. His rules would make the management of the park subservient to the wishes of local chambers of commerce and real estate developers.
I know this will surprise you, but it is absolutely clear that Mr. Bush had absolutely no intention of honoring his campaign promises to fully fund the national park system. But, then, we knew that, because he does virtually nothing he says he will.
Tom in Dallas
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
President Bush is out to wreck the National Park System. Vice President Dick Cheney’s pal Paul Hoffman, formerly executive director of the Cody Wyo Chamber of Commerce and now a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior, has produced a 194 page assault on our national heritage.
It is official. Every year that George W. Bush has been president has put more and more Americans into poverty. Last year, 1.1 million joined the 35.9 million already there. In 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration, 31.1 million, or 11.2% of the population lived in poverty, significantly below the 12.7% last year, but better than Poppy Bush accomplished. He impoverished far more Americans in four years than his son has in five.
The poverty level isn’t all that high. A family of four has to make less than $19,157 a year to qualify. Income for a family of two without children has to slip to $12,649 ($6.08/hour) to reach official poverty. A single person aged 65 and living alone is considered above the poverty level if he earns more than $9,060 at year or ($4.36/hour)
At the same time, 45.8 million Americans have no health insurance.
On the other hand, the only group to experience a raise in income was the group with the top 5% of income.
And what I want to know, Mr. President, is where are all the benefits from your tax cuts? Not only are more people impoverished, but, thanks to those tax cuts, their safety nets have been slashed because the federal government doesn’t want to pay for them and the state and local governments can’t.
I am not saying Mr. Bush is to blame for these miserable results. The American economy is too complex to be affected by one person. What I am blaming Mr. Bush for is the fact that he is doing nothing to help those who are falling in poverty. He has created no programs, provided no aid, or even jaw-boned private industry into doing anything. That is a gross dereliction of duty which could destabilize the country.
I am sure there are some compassionate souls out there who honestly believe the poor deserve to be poor. The problem is when the middle class shrinks, as it is now, society becomes unstable. People start throwing bombs. Think of the unrest during the so-called gilded age at the end of the 19th century. By the way, there is another reason for bomb throwing. That is an unpopular war. Remember the Weather Underground’s blowing up of university laboratories and ROTC buildings in protest of the Vietnam war?
We seem to moving toward a twofer thanks to President Bush’s policies.
Tom in Dallas (as if you didn't know)
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
There are many arenas in which the Christian Right has meddled and failed. I have not supported the political arm of the Christian Right in some of their dreams for a "better America". Some issues, have been too petty for me. But seeking equal time in public schools to present the beauty of creationism is something I support. My hope is the battle can be fought wisely and won for future generations of children.
This is not about faith mingling with the touch-me-not secular public schools. This is about rational thought combined with free speech being brought to the table of our halls of academia. It is about presenting both sides of an argument and sharpening the skills of our students to make intelligent choices. It lies in my journalistic belief that a coin is always etched on both sides. Both sides represent the composite whole. And if an issue has two sides, it is worthy of debate. And if it is worthy of debate among adults, it is imperative that we teach our children how to also look at the evidence from both sides and to make informed choices. Our schools must be a place where our students are allowed to think. And to think, requires allowance for diversity of opinion, especially when there are scientific experts on both sides of the table in the pitted battle of evolution vs. creationism.
The following comments will be taken from an excellent book, "Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey. If you do not have time to read the whole book at least pick up a copy and read Chapter 5, "Darwin Meets the Berenstein Bears" and Chapter 6, "The Science of Common Sense".
Did you know that for years we have been duped by the famous photographs of the peppered moths on the tree trunks? (pp.161, 162) We all remember that particular science lesson in school. Now, we find that the whole thing was staged. Scientists happily glued moths to tree trunks to deceive the gullible public.
And the famous German scientist Ernst Haeckel and his "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" baloney? Yep. Duped again. Even in his own day, it was known that he faked his sketches and other scientists accused him of fraud. "An embryologist writing in the journal 'Science' called Haeckel's drawings one of the most famous fakes in biology." (p 164)
Yet on the day that scientists announced they had decoded the human genome, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute stated, "We have caught the first glimpse of our instruction book, previously known only to God." (p. 191) I prefer to believe, they caught a glimpse of.... a Creator!
Faith is not required to believe in a story of a Creator and intelligent design. It does require a misplaced logic to believe otherwise. Let me end with a practical example. Let's say one day, and in one location, you are allowed to feast your eyes on all of the sculptures, paintings, poetry and musical compositions which you have always loved. You are given a seasoned guide to instruct you. As you view the Mona Lisa, the sculpture of David, enter the Blue Mosque,and listen to Moonlight Sonata, your senses are enthralled with the creative genius that brought such beauty. But you are stunned to silence when the guide informs you that each of the above had neither author, nor creator. They merely came into being by some mysterious and as of yet unidentifiable force over time.
We all know Mona Lisa is the work of Leonardo da Vinci, David springs from the hands of Michaelangelo, the Blue Mosque was founded by Sultan Ahmet I, and Moonlight Sonata was crafted from the fingers and ears of Beethoven. To stand on a street corner and debate otherwise is to have the little men in white coats cart you off. We would never be so silly.
Why is it so hard to see the hand of a Creator as the author of the world in which humans live? It requires not faith. It requires, rational thought.
Writing a daily commentary blog is hard work. I read articles from three different newspapers each day. Throw in various periodicals throughout the week and articles sent by readers. Responding to readership e-mails and exchanging ideas with Tom and others is the first step in determining the course of the blog.
Tom functions as the command center for the blog. He sends me articles throughout the day and various political cartoons that grace the editorial pages of our major news organizations. I am noticing more and more cartoons. Maybe, he thinks "She hath need of humor?" Anyway, at times it is the work of the artistic humorists that catches my gaze. And from the many cartoons which Tom has sent in recent days, it seems the there is a story brewing that the public wishes to debate and it is the story of intelligent design being pushed into the arena of our public schools.
So on the blog today: Intelligent Design.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:30 AM
Monday, August 29, 2005
"Don't drink, dance or chew; run around with those that do." Many of us grew up with that nifty little quote, usually spoken by our grandmother. So for those that would surely never do the aforementioned (I do them all....smile) let's see if I can catch you in the "acceptable sin" today. To play along, go to the following website and use the little calculator at the left:
If your body mass index is in the normal range, skip the blog and go enjoy a pastry with your morning coffee. Congratulations! You have self-control. If you are in the "fat zone" would you please take a moment and educate yourself today?
Did you know that six out of ten Americans are overweight? And thirty-one percent of Americans fall in the category of "obese"? Fifty percent of black American women now fall in the obese category. Approximately 15% of our children (ages 6-19) are overweight and that number is increasing dramatically. Childhood diabetes is an increasing concern for pediatricians in our nation.
Secondary risks of obesity are diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and arthritic type conditions, to name a few. As a nurse, it comes as no surprise to me that in the patients that present for care each day, there is a direct correlation between obesity and overall general health. Amazing, how many men say they are "big-boned" and a simple nuclear medicine bone scan tell the true story. Big-boned? That would be "big hams"! Amazing how here in Texas, men will fondly refer to their wife as "the little woman"....but that would be 5'2" and three hundred pounds. sigh
We just returned from a road trip. Along the interstate if we were not passing a fast food restaurant, we were passing signs advertising breakfast burritos, half-pound cheeseburgers, double dip ice cream cones and the such. Noticeably absent, were signs advertising broccoli and cauliflower. Our technologically advanced society has produced high carbohydrate, high fat food offerings touted as "value meals". In reality, we are eating our way to an early death.
So what was your body mass index? You did not put the weight on overnight. It will take some time to get back into that pair of college jeans. Make a plan and have some self-control. I do two basic things: portion control for diet and daily exercise. It is about your health. Take care of yourself in the areas you can control. And if you cannot, seek out medical assistance.
Tammy Swofford, R.N.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Iraq needs a constitution. It is the beginning point for any legitimate government. But the political miscalculation of the Sunni leadership early on now causes ripples in what should be the finalization process of the draft submitted to the Iraqi parliament.
The Sunni leadership pursued a flawed strategy of obstructionism when they advised their Sunni brethren to boycott the January 30 election. They then found themselves with only 17 of 275 parliamentary seats, and these appointed by committee.
Contrast their maneuver with the negotiating savvy of Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani of Najaf, the recognized spiritual leader of the Shi'a majority. Seeing opportunity, this elderly religious statesman took off for London to have a quick surgery on his heart. Kind of hard to play the game if one lacks the energy. When he returned from England through Kuwait and then Basra the picture of him in the wheelchair did not fool me. My respect went up for the man that day. I saw fortitude in his countenance. A man's man, Al-Sistani. This was a man ready to deal.
Within a couple days he had placed Imam Muqtada al-Sadr back under his thumb. Feeling his oats, this young cleric had created a lot of havoc with his Mahdi Army militia. Unable to convert his physical force into political clout, he needed to be reeled back in. Appropriately chastised, he fell back under the shadow of the greater man.
After some back and forth negotiations Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani gave the call to his religious brethren to turn out and vote. They turned out in droves while their Sunni counterparts stayed at home. This situation now shows the different outcomes when one employs obstructionism, which requires no skill, as opposed to negotiation.
So for the record today, you get the Tammy Swofford perspective on playing to win. These are the rules of the game, as I have learned them.
Do your homework. Go into the arena knowing the educational and personal background of the other players.
Show up early. Much of what is seen on the public side of negotiation has already been hammered out behind closed doors. Pre-positioning and posturing are essential.
Stay late. If the details are being hammered out until three a.m. do not leave. Be alert and stay until the last detail is addressed. To do otherwise is to wake up to a surprise the next day.
Be willing to give an inch to gain a yard. This is about reciprocity. Do not win the battle to lose the war. Keep your eye on the overarching goal of the negotiations.
If you are a minority power work proactively to bring all your gifts to the table. What do you bring that is invaluable to the process? Sell your product.
Present your position as one of solidarity as this adds strength in your bid to play. This is the time for the leader to lead and the rest, to be that bulwark of defense. Those within your ranks that dissent from your goal must remain silent during the delicate work of negotiations. These concerns must be voiced behind closed doors and not in the public forum.
Diplomacy skills are essential. Diplomacy is the pinnacle of cat-and-mouse. But when cast as the mouse, the game is tougher to play. Diplomacy involves high levels of cognitive, analytical ability and extremely high verbal skills. There is a saying, "Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they think they will enjoy the trip." It is a learned skill set. The trip to the negotiating table is taxing, difficult and not for the faint of heart. In the end, it is not about right or wrong. These things are hammered out in how well you play the game.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Every year at this time, sane people swerve to the Far Side. I am not talking about the President and Senator Frist who want to waste valuable school time, time neither has paid for, by the way, teaching creationism. That is merely pandering, and shouldn't, I hope, be taken seriously. Nor am I referring to Pat Robertson’s, absolutely barking mad performance on the 700 Club on Monday. He said the U.S. ought to assassinate the president of Venezuela because “it’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.” The guy at one time thought he had what it takes to be president. Nobody else did.
No. I am talking about the time-honored practice of trying exactly the same thing again and again in expectation of different results. No less group than the Republican members of the United States Senate have decided the way out of sky-rocketing energy costs is to open more areas to exploration. The areas in question are our coastal waters. All of them, regardless of geologic potential. That is the extent of their great plan.
Thirty years ago, Congress voted to approve the Alyeska pipeline to bring crude oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the port of Valdez, because "we needed the oil." Some of us at the time asked, ok, so what are we going to do when that oil is gone? If oil is in as short supply as you say it is, wouldn’t it be a great idea if we started working to find something to use instead. Well, we have had 30 years to find that substitute and what do we have? Absolutely nothing but “we have got to drill everywhere we can to find the oil and gas we need.”
In the meantime, Brazil, which incidently, has huge amount of shale oil, embarked on a crash ethanol project which is paying off quite nicely, thanks. On the other side of the Atlantic, super fast trains save a considerable amount of petroleum compared with over the road, and air transport, fuel cells are being used to generate electricity, and to power buses. Curiously, those fuel cells were developed in the United States. Where are our fuel cell powered buses? Just what have we done with the 30 years grace we have had since the first oil crisis? Very, very little. The private industries that tried have to go overseas to get a hearing.
To be fair to the Rs in the Senate, their plan is marginally better than the one advanced by the administration yesterday. The Bush administration is tying itself in knots trying to pat its back for a fuel savings plan that will save a total of one month's worth of gasoline over 15 years. That is those savings will be achieved if the car makers don't game the system and make bigger cars, which don't have to lower fuel consumption rates. What are the odds on that?
It's August. No idea too dumb to get a hearing.
Tom in Dallas
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The current "Foreign Affairs" (July/August) has a special section devoted to H5N1, a deadly avian flu virus which has the global medical community very concerned. These four articles give an explanation of the potential threat in a manner which is easy for the non-medical community to understand. Since it appeared in Hong Kong in 1997, H5N1 has been closely watched by the science community. There is fear that this one strain can potentially produce the next influenza pandemic. If that happens, deaths will not measure in the millions but in the tens of millions of lives.
The article by Michael T. Osterholm shook me the most. Current annual production of flu vaccine is approximately 300 million trivalent doses, which means a unit dose protecting against three different strains. A monovalent dose could bump it up to close to one billion doses. Influenza vaccine is produced commercially by only nine countries. Do the math. Think of world population. Think of nations which will have access to limited vaccine from an already limited supply. Think of the panic and chaos as communities begin to feel the brunt of this epidemiological nightmare. Think in terms of weeks and months, not days, for this thing to run its course.
Read between the lines when Mr. Osterman speaks of medical personnel dying at equal or greater rates than the general population. Read between the lines, when he does not specifically address if the government has a plan in place to dispense limited vaccine. So let's talk rationed care today. In her article, Laurie Garret alludes to the need to vaccinate military troops, heads of state, etc. We all remember the last flu scare when the elderly lined up demanding their shots and the public demanded to know if Congressional families would receive preferential treatment. But in the event of a "global triage" who would receive the vaccine? Only nine nations commercially produce this vaccine and it would take months for existing programs to ramp up sufficiently to meet demand.
The flu pandemic of 1918 took out many individuals in the 18-40 yr. age group. Killer influenza spares not the strong. Who will get ventilatory support when the virus causes lung damage and people go into ARDS? (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) According to the article by Osterholm, U.S. hospitals have 105,000 mechanical ventilators. Most days approximately 75,000 to 80,000 are in use. During a normal flu season, the number jumps to 100,000. So who will get a ventilator? Who will be considered as a non-candidate for this support? Not a lot of breathing room left when the next big pandemic hits. (Pardon the pun!) Once again, there will be rationed care of some supplies.
If a flu pandemic hits we will face government mandated quarantines, disruption of supply lines for various goods and services and a healthcare system which will be stressed beyond capabilities.
Will economically disadvantaged nations face civil unrest? How will a weak government with poor infrastructure and limited funds face a pandemic flu? If you have not read these articles, please consider reading them. It is a total of four articles and it takes approximately 1 1/2 hours to read the complete section. They are succinct and they certainly made me think.
The swine flu of 1976 never evolved into the fearful pandemic of which the CDC warned us. But as is said of terrorism, the same is said of a new worldwide pandemic flu: It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Scientists will continue to track this strain (H5N1) and we must hope that it runs its course with minimal loss of human life.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
So what have you read in the past week? Here is my list.
Jane's Defence Weekly
Wall Street Journal
Dallas Morning News
Marine Corps Gazette
Urdu couplets (with English translation)
The New York Times
A recipe titled "The Imam Fainted"
Tom's Wednesday Blog
The Washington Post
Hopefully, each reader is getting their views from a diverse pool of opinions and publications. Have a great weekend of reading!
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:16 AM
Friday, August 19, 2005
Editors note: I pray for the safety of our troops.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The mean-spiritedness of many in the mainstream media crowd never ceases to amaze me. These are journalists who for the most part have *never held a diplomatic post, *been elected to a public office, *give myopic analysis after taking a one week junket to the country of their concern and *probably lack a university degree in policy or related venues.
So I find that it puts just a bit of bile in the back of my throat to read the column in the New York Times.
Maureen Dowd figuratively power drives a Humvee over the backside of the President four or five times. You can tell she does it with relish. And for what good reason? Why, Mr. Bush is riding his bicycle on his vacation. Now that has got to be big news.
Bringing a high level of disrespectful chastisement and scorn while seated at her little cubicle at work is the easy part. Naturally, she is unable to do the hard part, which is to provide viable solutions to the difficulties our troops face in Iraq.
In an inadvertent slip of the tongue, she does define the problem. In speaking of the terrorists she states they "....come right back every time U.S. troops beat them up." Therein, Ms. Dowd, lies the problem. While Iraqi citizens of decent fabric work to weave a new national destiny, foreign insurgents continue to slip through the net from Syria to bring chaos. Through intimidation and criminal actions they work to destroy a nascent constitution and a strong civilization which is working to fire the political embers which were not allowed under their former dictator.
Meanwhile, our President probably needs those bike rides just like we need those trips to the gym after work. Exercise is not only beneficial physically but also for psychological restoration. Undoubtedly Mr. Bush uses a portion of that time to clear his thoughts and analyze his strategy. And if I dare to imagine, I would have reason to believe that the troops at his disposal and the families left behind, are also in his thoughts.
For Ms. Dowd to presume selfishness on his part while sharing neither his friendship nor his confidence is a bit of a journalistic stretch. We can do better in journalism. Really, we should.
I have followed the story of Cindy Sheehan since she instituted her lawn chair anti-war command post outside of the Western White House, in Crawford. The story has not interested me from a political angle. It has been viewed through the eyes of a professional nurse who has seen the shadowy world of grief.
In my early career I worked for three years in a neuro ICU with traumatic brain injuries and C-spine quadraplegic injuries. We kept our patients an average of three to four months and their families became part of our close-knit medical team. The marriages and families that survived traumatic injury and death of children hinged mostly on the ability of the mother to sustain under the burden of grief. I found the woman to be the primary emotional barometer of the home when tragedy struck. Her resilience, strengthened or destroyed.
Army Spc. Casey Sheehan gave his life for his nation last year. His mother has had a very difficult time of it. Not paying federal income tax as a passive-aggressive form of protest, her verbal protest has showcased the anger of her loss. Talking to a reporter recently she said, "They killed my son in an illegal and immoral war and I don't feel like I owe them anything." This woman, still in the grasp of grief.
Obviously, she probably doesn't feel like she owes her husband and marriage anything either at this point. Who is cooking his bacon and pouring his coffee? She is not there. Patrick Sheehan filed for divorce in a San Francisco court on August 12, citing "irreconciliable differences". We all know what that means in plain English. Another marriage is dead. And it is probably dead, because of the stress of the death of a child.
Grief is a journey through which one travels. It is a mountain range of travails which one must travel alone and no one can journey it for us. Family and friends can only extend the occasional hand of comfort. But it is a lonely and cold trip. I know. I have made this difficult trip a couple of times now. Grief comes in phases that can quite catch one by surprise. But it is the accusatory phase which forms the highest peak and is the most difficult to cross. This is the phase of grief where either God or man are squarely blamed for the tragedy we face. And when one cannot make it across that peak, bitterness sets in and grief is not resolved. Mrs. Sheehan, has not had the strength to make that crossing.
Now she faces not only the loss of a son, but the loss of a marriage. It is a marriage that began with a high school friendship. When she leaves Crawford to whom does she return? Her child cannot come back. Her husband needs a reprieve from her anger. I hope, she has a friend to hold her hand.
Editors Note: There are those that would ask my opinion on the situation in Iraq. My opinion is held close to my heart. As long as I wear the uniform, I bear true faith and allegiance to my oath.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
For a very good reason, four senators and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado have presented bonehead solutions to the illegal immigration problem. The states represented by these congressmen all depend on illegal labor. Yes, that included Massachusetts.
The proposals, as outlined by Georgie Anne Geyer in a column syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, are as follows. Senators McCain and Kennedy would solve the problem by offering temporary status, and citizenship, if desired. Senator Jon Kyl, Arizona’s other senator, and John Cornyn of Texas would give illegals five years to leave the country and would create a guest worker program. Representative Tancredo wants to toughen enforcement and a strict guest worker program.
The funny thing is that people are actually considering these jokes, even though they do nothing about the problems.
These are the problems. There are 11 million illegal aliens in this country and more are streaming across the border everyday. You have to wonder how Homeland Security is going to save us from sophisticated and dedicated terrorists, especially since we have tripled the number of Border Patrol agents and increased the enforcement budget 10 times since 1986.
According to David Brooks in the Aug 14 New York Times, illegal aliens are “bankrupting our schools and healthcare system.” On the other hand, unemployment is something like 13% in Detroit and higher than that in other cities. And that is counting only the people who are looking for work. The nation’s five percent unemployment rate is much higher if you count the people who have quit looking. Surely, we do not need more foreign workers when so many citizens can’t find the menial jobs most of them are able to do.
Then there is the big problem. There is no such thing as a temporary worker. Once they are here, they are going to stay here. Once they have children, there is no way to get rid of them. Anyone born in this country is a citizen and cannot be deported. What are we going to do, send the parents back home and put the child in an over-stretched welfare system?
There is only one way to solve the problem and that is by prosecuting anyone who hires an illegal under RICO, as they have started doing in Idaho. Under RICO, the person who hires an illegal loses everything, business, house, cars, you name it. Suddenly, the economic advantage has disappeared. When that happens, people won’t come across the border because there are no jobs for them. And the illegals that are here will start to drift away as well.
Last week found me hammering out two improvements to the blog. First, I secured an editor to give oversight to my writings. His guidance should make the blog shine!
I also officially added "Tom in Dallas" as the Wednesday anchor for the blog. He requests that he continue to write with anonymity. He states he is in liberal protection. Personally, I bet people are looking for him. But he did allow me a few tidbits of information to allow you to either love him or hate him more, as he provides the opposing liberal viewpoint to my more moderate or right-wing stance.
Tom is a third-generation newspaperman, retired from professional journalism. His writing career covered the oil and gas industry, securities, economics and business law. He grew up listening to James Farley who was both a friend of his grandfather, and the campaign manager for FDR. He hopes to apply a whimsical look at widely reported items. Those are his words. I know what that really means. He is going to come on the blog and bite me in the butt.
Enjoy seeing Tom from week to week. He is a fine edition to the blog.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
There is not much in the world that can cause more distress than that felt by a woman trying to have a baby. So sperm donation and artificial insemination has been a growth industry for years. But what is new, is the emergence of internet sperm banks wishing to corner the market on lesbian women wishing to conceive.
One such organization, "Man Not Included", opened its doors for business in July 2002 in London, England. Since that time, it has been embroiled in a bit of controversy. Operating via a loophole in the law, this business delivers fresh sperm and "thawing sperm" to homes of mainly lesbian clientele. Frozen sperm transport is more strictly regulated and demands a higher degree of regulatory oversight and licensing.
Unfortunately, the horror stories are out there. Fresh sperm must be delivered within an hour for it to be usable. One woman, received her sperm cold, in a flask with coffee dregs. It begs the question: "What was the courier doing thirty minutes before arrival?" Hmmm. London is a big kind of town. Maybe the donor, was the delivery boy? Enquiring minds, have to wonder....The Church of Scotland has had enough of a concern, that they have compared this endeavor to a "pizza delivery service".
Beyond the horror stories, are the thoughts of a woman doing a home-based artificial insemination. And although that sperm comes with a "certificate of authenticity" who is to know? A couple of former employees claimed that the actual pool of donors was much smaller than the specified 3,000 donors. It helps profit margins if only a few men are tested for HIV, etc. and donate on a regular basis. As a woman, my imagination would have to run wild on this one. What if an employee is just walking down a couple flights of stairs and tapping that homeless man in the alley for a sperm donation in exchange for a pack of smokes and a pint of ale? But this is now both my sense of humor and weak little mind at work!
Those who have read the blog for a few months know how I feel about gay adoptions. I am against them. But you also know how I feel about the human race in general. And while I do not feel that it is the job of government to protect people from their stupid mistakes, I do support government regulation of industries that would prey on individuals who are desperate and searching for an elusive miracle. Having a baby, is a wonderful miracle in its self. But being denied the experience, can be a painful emotional trauma. Women wishing to conceive, become pretty desperate for that baby.
If you intend to use a fertility clinic or an internet-based sperm bank, please shop around and do your homework. You are looking at an initial investment of thousands of dollars and it can deplete life savings to produce that child. Be careful. Not all organizations function to high standards or with your total well-being in mind. Do your homework, before you hand over your wallet.
Tammy Swofford, R.N.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Friday, August 12, 2005
Leaving the main road and exiting down a rutted dirt path, the vans with the medical teams anxiously awaited the task ahead. In our morning team session, we had been reminded that we were here for one reason. And that reason, was to serve the people of Mongolia and let them see that the Americans loved them. It was a pretty simple vision, for what would be a hard two weeks ahead.
Pulling into our first site, we were greeted by a pod of four gher, which were to serve as our clinic compound. The first, held water and supplies, the next two were for patient examination and the final one, served as a pharmacy. We travelled with three pharmacists. (Two worked the clinic setting, and one accompanied the humanitarian team each day to do home visits.) A small tent was erected at the front where an American and a Canadian nurse would perform the important task of triage and initial assessment. Off in one corner of the area was a small tent complete with the freshly dug hole for our field toilet. Refreshing to us all, we were within a few feet of a riverbank. I will always remember that view. It is etched in the place where I store my pleasant memories! Little things make me happy!
So what is Mongolian folk medicine? It is much like medicine in every nation where there is lack of a strong infrastructure of health care. People must rely on the cures and traditions of the ancestors in the face of insurmountable odds to access real care. It is interesting that twice, people showed up at our clinics, proudly announcing that when they heard the Americans had arrived, they checked themselves out of the hospital to come see us. I also saw a powerful judge who came to me for treatment for his high blood pressure and teaching on ischemia and heart disease. That was one of the most humbling visits of the trip. I shunted his case to an internal medicine doctor to give him the honor of his rank.
The first big surprise of a physical exam was "fire cups". A man complained of kidney pain. Asking him to localize the pain, he put his palms on his lower back. Pulling up his shirt, I saw two large deeply brownish purple symmetrical round marks that looked like a horse had kicked him. Asking him if he had any other marks, he pulled his shirt up to expose the same, on his left scapula. He was the recipient of "fire cups". A fire is placed in a cup. The cup is then placed over the area where there is pain to draw out evil spirits. "Nurses" go on home visits to administer this treatment. Before you think, "poor ignorant people", this is the more formidable version of our American heating pad or moist heat. I applied ointment to the blistered area of his burn and treated his kidney infection.
I saw two tea burns in my crowd. The first, a burn on the foot. The second, a healing and large second degree burn on an inner thigh and lower leg. The burn had medicine the color of Betadine. It was a medicine with dog blood. In a sense, this just might work. When our own blood coagulates to form a scab, it is a biological bandaid against infection. Please do not let PETA in on this little secret. That burn was healing quite nicely. Though I dare PETA to fly that far to save a dog!
One mother, came to me to treat her child's facial rash. It was freckles. A beautiful girl! Another, received a diagnosis from a local doctor of facial skin depigmentation by giving her child yogurt. We attacked that guilt-ridden diagnosis and gave her child some vitamins.
Another three "cures" that probably do not work: Sucking on a cow eye ball for jaundice. Probably a bit chewy? For goiter: putting a scarf around the neck soaked in the mother's urine. No hope for orphans.... But the best was the chinese doctor grinding up rhinocerous bone for ailments. Probably does not hurt and I bet it is not harmful either. We probably consume worse, in a hot dog.
Be thankful that you are an American! Even if you are in the "uninsured" category you are able to seek out the local charity hospital in an emergency. The majority of the people we saw had untreated and chronic complaints. It is my hope that the good we did will be coupled with a bond of friendship. I dispensed compassion and love, along with each visit. I kissed a lot of Mongolian babies. Who could ask for more? Should I return to this country, I will solicit monetary gifts to better stock the pharmacy we deployed. But for now, I am thrilled to be home!
Editors Note: Blog will be back and hard hitting next week. Look for my thoughts on PM Tony Blair and his anti-terorrism efforts in a "Swofford Unleashed" style on Monday.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Anonymous’s responses to an earlier post deserves more space. Anonymous sought to excuse the State of Texas’s inability to fund public education,and to pay for new school books on the grounds that the state is “educating half of Mexico.”
It is true that the United States is undergoing a flood of people from Latin America, not just Mexico. They are not being pushed up here by an exploding birthrate, or by unusually turbulent times south of the river. They are being sucked up here by the promise of jobs and the hope of eventual citizenship.
There is a group in this country that really wants undocumented workers. They work as long as they are told to for whatever the employer feels like paying under the most appallingly dangerous conditions with nothing in the way of protective clothing. Out of their pitiable wages, they pay taxes– at least taxes are taken from their wages, whether the government sees any of that money is another matter.
There are in this great land of ours people so benighted as to think this is a good deal for the worker because he is making more here than he could make at home (why else would he come?), for the employer, because he is able to compete more effectively, and for the consumer, because he pays less for the goods or services thus produced.
Sounds great. Cue the music. Raise the flag. This is what America is all about. The little guy getting a chance.
Fine. What happens when this worker gets sick or hurt? Remember his working conditions. He is far more likely to be debilitated than a legitimate worker. Suddenly, he has nothing coming in but still needs food, and probably medical attention. Who do you think is going to pay for it? Why, the taxpayer, of course. What else will the taxpayer pony up for? As Anonymous points out, school for the kids.
But, where are those tax revenues going to come from? Since the worker is making well below the minimum wage, even if he paid taxes, they would not cover the cost of educating the children. The employer? Certainly not. Even if he had a very expensive house, the taxes on it would not pay for very many children.
But isn’t it all right that the general public pays to educate the workers’ kids? After all, they benefit from his cheap labor. Maybe, maybe not. The fact is that the taxpayer doesn’t want to pay to educate kids. He must foresee a tremendous boom in the demand for stoop labor. Since that is what we are producing.
There is the other problem. Cheap illegal labor lowers the price legal workers can command for their labor. That lowers purchasing power and reduces taxes.
This economic model does only one thing. It momentarily enriches the few at the expense of the many. After that, everyone will be poorer. We are cutting our own throats with cheap labor.
Tom in Dallas
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
If there is one thing I cannot abide, it is a liar. And there are plenty of them to go around in the abortion rights movement. It is interesting how the abortion industry works to sustain its self by consistently burying news that women should read. While proclaiming a woman's "right to reproductive health" and "free choice" this industry squelches any news that might provide a balance of information that would allow women to make free, but also wise choices. I am very much interested in issues of women's health. The following, is to make you think! It is time for each woman to demand access to all available information before she chooses an abortion. It is time, for women to stop being spoon-fed some of the half-truths that occupy the top tiers of the propagandizing abortion party machine. Let's talk hard science today!
How many of you have read the results of the French study on abortion? Did you read anything on this topic in mainstream media? Probably not! You will get a synopsis today. Please consider carefully what I share. These results, can be read in entirety if you have the time. They were published by England's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the April edition of BJOG: And International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. (note the British spelling of the last word!)
This study by French researchers of 2,837 births found a startling statistical fact. Women who had abortions, were one and a half times as likely to give premature birth in subsequent pregnancies! The increase was more significant for the women who had multiple abortions! Women with more than one abortion were 2.6 times as likely to have a very premature birth compared to non-abortive women.
Women who had abortions were found to be at greater risk to deliver premature infants than, dare I say it..... their healthier counterparts who had never had an abortion.
This report also noted results of another study which found that women who had previously induced abortions were at a higher risk than other women for "infections of the amniotic fluid, placenta and uterus". The French study also ponders whether a causative factor in a post-abortion uterus is damage done to the cervix and uterus with the performance of the actual abortion procedure. It would make sense to my little woman's brain.
How many women have had excellent prenatal care, healthy diets and prenatal vitamins, adequate exercise and the will to carry a baby to term, to discover that at a stage too early in the game, they have delivered a baby straight into the neonatal intensive care unit, instead of directly into their loving arms? Could their previous abortion have been the cause of pre-term labor? How many have had abortions since this study surfaced and have not been given this information? Have they been told that the convenience they sought on that day, might foreshadow another day, when a baby is born too early, and the stress and sorrow play out on a different stage? I greatly doubt it.
Now you have heard it from me. Chew on this information for awhile. My readership, is pretty smart.
Tammy Swofford, R.N. BSN
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
A number of people have been wondering why television pundits decided to show Republican states as red and Democratic states as blue. Traditionally, the Left raises the red banner, while blue is the color of conservatism. But the Republicans no longer stand for balanced budgets and keeping expenses under control. The answer is red is the color of financial profligacy. Think of "red ink" and you have to think Republican. Republicans just can’t govern.
As James Fallows observed in a recent issue of The Atlantic: "Starting with Richard Nixon, every Republican president has left the dollar lower, the federal deficit higher, the American trade position weaker, and the U.S. manufacturing work force smaller than when he took office."
The current crop of Republicans, including the most rested president in history, are in no danger of breaking that tradition. Josh Bolton notwithstanding, national debt is up. Just how much we don’t know since the cost of the wars has not been fully accounted for. Congress has added to the problem with the passage of the biggest hunk of pork in history. Tom Friedman quoted energy economist Gal Luft as calling it "the sum of all lobbies" transportation bill. Manufacturing jobs are down by 3 million since 2000. Our balance of payments is at record levels of imbalance against us. The dollar has lost ground against the Euro and the yen, and now that China has untied its currency from ours, it is likely that the dollar will drop and interest rates will rise.
Then there is the so-called Energy Bill whose only discernible purposes are:
1) Continue to fund both sides of the war on terrorism, and
2) To give tax breaks to companies that are making more money than ever before.
The energy bill does nothing to improve gasoline milage in vehicles, although everybody can see that is the quickest way to save money, improve air quality and reduce payments to Arabian/Persian Gulf oil producers who send healthy chunks of our money to the fundamental madrasas that are training the people to attack in Iraq, Afghanistan, London, and here. Instead, Congress in its wisdom, has decided we ought to reward the only people who really don’t want us to reduce our thirst for gasoline–the people selling the gas. No wonder the war isn’t going well.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at Republican performance is a few states.
In California, suddenly, Gray Davis doesn’t look so bad after a little bit of Arnold Schwarzenegger. When was the last time anyone suggested we change the Constitution so that particularly bad actor could become president? He has managed to anger nurses and the police and fire fighters, not to mention the rest of the voters who see no reason to spend $45 million on a special election only the Governor wants. The Schwarzenegger’s are the only ones likely to vote for the measure on the special ballot.
Then there is Ohio where the Republican-controlled state government has managed to lose more than 215 million workers’ compensation fund dollars by channeling it to an "investment manager" whose only credentials are that he wanted the money, and he sent lots of cash to Republican campaigns. Poor Mr. Noe, the investment advisor in question, didn’t get to keep all that money. He had to kick some back into the George W. Bush campaign.
And, of course, there is Texas. When it comes to bad government, don’t waste time, come directly to Texas. The state legislature can’t figure out how to pay for educating the state’s children, but wants to go home, because staying on the job would be "a waste of time and money." Not only can’t the lege figure out how to pay for decent schools, it can’t even figure out how to pay for new school books. It ordered them, but the publishers aren’t going to release them without getting paid.
The reason Texas can’t afford to pay for schools, or even school books? Under Governor George W. Bush, property taxes were cut. And, Texas municipalities, realizing that no one would willingly move his company to Texas, give tremendous tax rebates to sucker new businesses into the state. The combination of tax cuts and tax breaks of course means there isn’t enough money to provide the things the companies really need, such as an educated work force, infrastructure, police and fire protection. Of course, as former Texas Comptroller John Sharp pointed out, if Texas had spent the money it gave away in tax cuts and tax holidays on schools, the companies would have come here for the educated workforce.
Tom on the Blog
Monday, August 08, 2005
Briefing to the Diplomatic Corps by Prime Minister Netanyahu on 28 April 1999. These remarks reference the Oslo accord and the Wye Memorandum and are direct quotes of Benjamin Netanyahu.
"....there has been a reaffirmation - a powerful reaffirmation - to the messages delivered by the United States of the principle that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will be achieved by negotiations and by negotiations only."
"...we gladly accept in principle the invitation that President Clinton issued to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to convene a conference to advance the final settlement negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
In October of 1998 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was part of the historic summit hosted by President Clinton at Wye River, Maryland. This summit was also attended by the (late) King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for whom I had much admiration. He was a calm voice of moderation in his time. In my mind, being part of any political process between Israeli and Palestinian counterparts would be comparable to being tied in a burlap bag with two mean cats. These things, get ugly fast.
By signing the Wye Memorandum with Chairman Arafat on October 23, 1998, PM Netanyahu affirmed physical endorsement to the Oslo peace process. The Wye Memorandum issues forth a written commitment for the Palestinian Authority to proactively bring new security to the areas largely populated by the Palestinian people, which naturally, means the Gaza strip. This memorandum is basically an interfacing tool to be used to implement the Oslo accord. It is a document that spells out the reciprocity needed on both sides of the negotiating table. After signing this document, Prime Minister Netanyahu presented it to his Cabinet on November 5, 1998.
So now we come down to the events of yesterday. In a made-for-t.v. grandstanding event, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigns his post during a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on the eve of the initial pullout from the Gaza strip. The group of ministers was discussing the initial removal of approximately 1/8 of the settlements. The vote was still approved 17 to 5 for the dismantling of the initial three settlements. Choosing that place and that time to crow loudly shows that Netanyahu is not a capon. But roosters are not known for having negotiating skills. They rule the roost by other means. I am disappointed in the whole mess.
Law has two components in my mind. There is the letter of the law, which is signed in ink. But there is the intent of law, which is signed in the hearts of men. What was the true intent of Benjamin Netanyahu when he placed his name on the document? Only he knows the answer to that question.
But this is not the time for obstructionist politics. This is the time for the hard work of hammering out the final details of a peace accord which Israel signed and which within the confines of the scaffolding of the document, Israel must seek to finalize.
It is time for the political shell game to end between both sides. Let Israel put the hand to the political plow and not look back on this one. Let the Palestinian Authority show they can also hold up their end on arresting and prosecuting their own, who would bring obstruction through terroristic acts. This is my opinion. Right or wrong. And I admit.... I am not a player on the big stage. But this latest episode, has a bit of a stench. Let's punch it out in the comments section. Enter, all who dare. This blog is a free speech zone.
Editors Note: I decided to make this blog a second Monday blog, instead of the Tuesday blog. I am still on Mongolia time. There is not much to do, except write blogs in the middle of the night, until my body adjusts back to Dallas time. Take your choice on comments. But my preference, would be comments on this particular blog subject. I need to feel your pulse, on this one.
The land of Mongolia has the appearance of a young widow, both beautiful and desolate. A haunting beauty, which is hard for one to describe. This is a land and a people unlike any I have ever experienced. My life has been enriched by embarking on a physically exhausting trip across the globe.
Leaving the semi-bustle of Ulaanbaatar by bus, the land exploded into a feast for my eyes. Men bathing in streams, cows blocking the road, an occasional yak, continuous softly rolling hills without end. Sparsely dotting the landscape were the traditional gher (yurt), the one-roomed domed dwelling of the nomadic herdsmen. Occasional stands of trees rose up from the landscape as silent sentinels to the history of the people and their deeply rooted link to the land.
This is the land of Ghengis Khan. When he died, men were sent to bury him in a secret location. On their return, they were killed. To this day his place of burial remains unknown. But other mighty warriors are also buried in this parcel of the earth. After their burial, a baby camel was slaughtered in front of the eyes of the mother. Oral tradition passed down states that even ten years later, the mother camel could find her way back to the place of her slaughtered offspring. This is an ancient land with rich history. It remains mostly unscathed by the present century.
This is also a land of free range. The team stood within a few hundred yards of approximately three dozen wild horses as they forded the river in front of us. Goats and sheep were seen grazing the hills as we drove along. The cows mostly function as stop signs on roads where there is need for none. Men ride horses with wooden saddles. But we also saw small boys riding bareback. I watched two very young boys upon their mounts, laughing as they raced, spurring their charges with homemade whips fashioned from the surrounding brush. The horses' nostrils were flared and flanks shining and wet from the thrill of the chase. It nearly made my heart stop to see children weighing maybe fifity pounds racing horses across rough terrain . In America, we put bicycle helmets on our kids as they peddle down smooth streets!
This is also a land of unusable toilets. The initial introduction to this little "shock" was the roadside stop to use the facilities at the half-way point to Darkhan. Disembarking the bus, there was no need for a sign. The smell of human waste was overpowering. Entering one of four wooden "stalls" I found myself squatting over a large rectangle cut out of the wooden plank floor. Trying hard not to splatter all over myself I ventured a "peek" into the toilet bowl. Underneath was a cavernous room serving as the waste receptacle for 4 busy "commodes". A most unpleasant death, should one manage it. One of the bathroom tales we enjoyed was told by an American woman living in Darkhan. She recounted being in a mining town where a bull yak stood outside the stalls. Managing to get past the bull, the men entering the stalls found the female yak looking at them. My best bet, she was hiding from the male. And I bet the amorous male yak probably patiently waited for that female to vacate the stall later in the day. Male yaks are probably wired like male humans. Some things... are worth the wait.
On arrival to Darkhan, one encounters a drab landscape of buildings built during the time of Soviet dominion. Grey apartment buildings of five to nine floors are the standard housing. One of our translators sadly explained that the only thing the Russians taught the Mongolians was how to drink and when they left, they took their skills with them. Public drunkeness was quite common in the city and even in daylight hours, there were drunks passed out on the curbs. I also saw three public fights. One tussle included a woman. Last I saw of her, she was picking up a rock to sling at the man who had her by the hair.
But overall, I found the people of Mongolia to be very friendly, inquisitive about Americans and desirous of friendship. They smiled, gave direct eye contact and everywhere we went the people greeted us with "hello". Mongolia is not a major tourist destination, so the fact that so many people tried to use their limited English touched me deeply. Most of the inhabitants where we served are desperately poor. But they kept their small apartments clean, and are hospitable. One of our teams was offered bowls of warm vodka, water and sugar to drink. One man was offered sheep intestines. Some families lived under apartment stairwells. Those in outlying areas live in the ghers. These sturdy structures are easily and quickly deconstructed to move to the next location as the herds move along. We saw very few private vehicles. There were very few bicycles. (Unlike Beijing, which boasts ten million bikes!) The poor travel by vans that shuttle from place to place once the driver can fill up his seats.
I did make one mistake as a culturally inept American. I took little one piece outfits for babies, both the kind that snaps under the diaper and the footsie pajama type. The country folk brought their babies with little shirts and bare bottoms. I held many a fat, bare Mongolian baby butt on my lap, managing to get by just fine. But donated the clothing to a city orphanage instead, where I know the infants wear diapers! My husband threatened me about trying to bring a baby home. Darn it! They have beautiful eyes!
I could tell you so much more, but I must keep the blog a fairly quick reading. Thanks to all of you who continued to read the blog in my absence. Some of you wondered how I pulled it off. I have felt the warmth of your friendship on my return. And I hope that the little I have shared today, will put Mongolia on the map for you.
Glad to be home!
My sincere gratitude is extended to my husband Pat for the opportunity to travel to Mongolia as part of a civilian humanitarian team. The team consisted of members from as far away as Canada. The teams spread out in four spokes surrounding the hub area of Darkhan: medical, construction, home visits and sewing for orphans. I believe we provided great benefit to the people we served.
My husband has provided both the strong anchor and the long leash that has allowed my life to flourish within the bounds of traditional marriage. He has given me enthusiastic support as I have trotted the globe with the Navy for over eleven years. But I believe the trip to Mongolia will qualify as the furthest I have ventured from the nest to seek the next adventure!
My husband has somehow understood my need for occasional free flight! And in his making of the necessary allowances for my complex personality, I have become a better person. He is a remarkable man!
The blog today will be on the people and land of Mongolia as I perceived them. On Friday, I will return with a blog on what was encountered in the world of Mongolian medicine. It is my hope that as you read about Mongolia, you will begin to include the country and its history in your personal reading.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I just read the fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America. You may find it on www.cair-net.org
I have read the Qur'an and am now reading Hadith literature. I have read some of the jurisprudence writings of the signatories to this fatwa. They are respected Islamic scholars, write exceedingly well and have tremendous intellect which I hold in high regard. But this document, does not read in the classical style that would give credence to their training and expertise.
This fatwa, is a lion without any teeth. Someone was snoozing at the switch on this one.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Well, I should be somewhere between China and San Francisco, heading home today. Having gone two weeks without one of three daily newspapers that I read will have been psychologically tough for me I am sure. Anxious to return to Dallas Morning News, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. If anyone can identify the color of the FT, please let me know. It is something close to peach, I think.
For a blog reading today go see what Rob, in Hartford Connecticut has to say. He is a photographer and a pretty darn good one. But he writes a blog that give solid opinion. I have enjoyed reading his thoughts. He is not to the point of a daily blog yet, but when he posts, I always read and occasionally comment. He and I are opposite on some issues. But one is able to read his writings and see he is someone who truly loves America. I have discovered that people that complain about America, are at times the ones who really care about this land. But Rob also writes about some of his adventures and it makes for a nice diversion. Rob writes like one wearing a comfortable pair of jeans. Not quite sure yet the analogy for my writing. Please! I do not want to know!
Now one of his links in particular, I find offensive. But hey! This is America! Anyway, you may read him at:
www.cachorrito.blogspot.com The full blog title is "El Cachorrito Ladrando" which means "The Crying Puppy".
Anxious to catch up with all of you on Monday. Thank you for reading in my absence! I will enjoy opening my e mail. Simple pleasures for simple minds.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:18 AM
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Dear Blog Readers:
Would you take a moment today and send a card expressing your condolences to the British people in light of the July 7th bombings, the trauma of the July 21 unexploded ordinances and the continued heightened state of vigilence which Great Britain must maintain?
I sent a card, prior to my departure to Mongolia. You may send it to:
Public Affairs Team
The British Embassy
3100 Massachessetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-3600
For a sample of what a diplomatic response looks like, here is the letter sent by the Vatican. It is the text of Benedict XVI's telegram of sympathy for the victims of the London terror attacks, sent through Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.
To His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murpy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster:
Deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks in central London the Holy Father offers fervent prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn. While he deplores these barbaric acts against humanity he asks you to convey to the families of the injured his spiritual closeness at this time of grief. Upon the people of Great Britain he invokes the consolation that only God can give in such circumstances.
Cardinal Angelo Sodan
Secretary of State
**Should you honor this request, would you please send me an e mail? Thank you. I should be in China about this time, heading home to Texas! Come on, Taco Bell!
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Military medicine is a diligent servant to both research and practical application. Lives of our uniformed men and women depend on it! Many of the innovations in medicine come from the desire of the military community to protect and preserve the most important of assets, the soldier in the ranks.
One of our Baylor anesthesiologists is a Lieutenant Colonel currently deployed into one of the theaters of operation. As a reservist, he began to sweat a bit when he was told to come pick up a flak jacket. I have only worn one of those things once, and they are heavy for my small shoulders. Anyway, then he got the actual orders to his mobilization platform and we bid him adieu. Now, he is at what will remain an undisclosed location for his safety. But he is assigned to a helicopter with a functioning operating room. Yes, he will get the opportunity to try to intubate a wounded combatant while the helo is taking off, dodging RPG's and the such. I am envious beyond belief! Field medicine at its best!
When I was at officers training in Pensacola, one of the officers was a neurologist. He was busy doing research going down in the dive chamber with mice brain cells, watching those things go into seizure activity and trying to figure out how to make our Navy dive community safe for longer dives, greater depths. Envy strikes again!
In Guam, working in the intensive care unit of the Naval Hospital I took care of a native pearl diver. Local divers are paid to seek out pearls for the Japanese tourists who love to visit this exotic locale. The diver stayed down too long, came up too fast and ended up in the Naval Hospital. I carted him out to the Navy chamber on the southern end of the island for decompression. Nice guys, those Navy divers. Plus to get to work in shorts and T-shirts all day has got to be great! But the Navy dive team are experts at dive injuries and related illness.
Attended a Navy nursing conference in D.C. about four years ago. Talk about some big research going on in the halls of academia. Watched a video of our happy miltary volunteers doing flight research in a hypoxic environment. Pretty sobering to see intelligent humans become blithering idiots and laughing fools with a little oxygen deprivation. (Is that what happens to teenagers?) But all of this, for the benefit of those who serve in our armed forces. There were also conferences that included alot of physics but I promptly forgot all my physics as soon as I passed that course in college, so they might as well have been talking to the family dog.
Military medicine moves forward full force 24/7 across our nation and across the world. And the research arm interfaces with the civilian sector to bring benefit to us all.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The Financial Times (July 20, 2005, p. 7) had a sad article regarding a lawsuit being brought in Cape Town, South Africa against Dr. Matthais Rath for his advertisements providing false hope for members of the AID's community. These ads, which attack the use of anti-retroviral drugs for AIDs, instead promote his own vitamin supplements and are considered misleading.
Unfortunately, some of the nutraceutical companies selling their products in the U.S.A. have managed to stay under the radar of the law, while at the same time raising subtle and at time blatant false expectations regarding their products. Sadly, they do this, while making hefty profit margins.
Desperate people, will do desperate things. They will spend their life savings on the cure. So you have people like my own brother, who after receiving a diagnosis of glioblastoma multi forme, gave thousands of dollars to Mannatech to cure his brain tumor. This company has the name "manna" in it. You know, kind of like the bread of heaven, that stuff. He was actually told that their product would shrink his tumor! And this heartening news , by a doctor on corporate staff. My family watched and advised to no avail while credit cards were run up to the limit buying tumor-shrinking pills and potions. Unfortunately, the next MRI of my brother's brain, proved otherwise. One of my younger brothers paid a nice little visit to the corporate office and informed the powers-that-be, they would be sued for all the manna they had stashed in the bank if they sold one more bogus cure to my brother.
Of course this is not the first time Mannatech has been sued. In a court case filed Nov. 1, 2004 Mannatech was sued by the mother of a child (now deceased) for invasion of privacy, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation....etc. The child had Tay-Sachs disease and was recommended for a regimen of Mannatech products by a chiropractor who was in direct sales of the product. The Plaintiff commenced to give her son Mannatech and other nutraceutical products from other companies: royal jelly, Emu oil, Lysine, vitamins, gensing, you name it. After the child gained several pounds, she gave pictures of his weight gain to the chiropractor. He was nude in some of the photos. In no time at all, these photos made the circuit of Mannatech seminars and presentations. I am not surprised in the least. I have seen many "pictures of health" as various hawkers-of-hope have tried to get me to jump on the bandwagon for nutraceuticals.
And therein, lies the problem with neutraceuticals! They sell, based largely on "personal testimonials", like the one I read written by a mother of a child with Down's syndrome. The child was suddenly excelling in school after taking such products. Or consider the person with cancer in remission who joyfully announces a cure. Give me a break! But it is hard to sue a person based on their glorious personal testimony. And all this, while at times the cancer is lurking under the surface, and it has just not made its metastatic re-entry pathway into another system in your body! Or the child is not improving at all. You, the parent, just see them through more hopeful eyes! You have to believe, to survive the hardships faced in raising a Down's child. You need hope. And these products, can toss out a psychological lifeline.
According to William T. Jarvis Ph.D. the word nutraceutical is a marketing term for foods alleged to favorably alter the structure or function of the body beyond what normal foods can accomplish. In other words, it is not enough to eat that wonderful pot roast stocked with potatoes and carrots that Mom made every Sunday when you were growing up quite healthily. You were short-changed! Take five percent of your income to gulp a few supplements every day and it should add years to your life. Either that, or you are sure gonna feel better mentally. Of course, I think taking that money and laying out on a beach for a couple days might be the better way to get that needed boost. Beaches and a good book, always work for me.
Melaleuca (The Wellness Company) very carefully markets their products. Their slogan is "Enhancing the lives of those we touch." The word enhance means "to raise to a higher degree". That is a pretty safe statement. Now I will say that I love their expensive Melaleuca soap. It is wonderful and smells great. It is a nice indulgence for me. But that is not the point. One bar of soap will not break my budget. Spending an average of $50 dollars a month, would not be worth it for me.
There are people that spend their life savings seeking an illusive cure. As such, we have the desperation of the people with AIDs in South Africa. We have the desperation of my own brother, given a terminal diagnosis. We have the desperation of the mother with a child with Tay-Sachs disease, who later died.
So from factories in locales as far flung as India, go ahead and buy your Ester-C, aloe vera juice which has been deactivated in the processing cycle, natural luetein esters, organic Spirulina and fancy teas. Just be wary of the claims. You could be rubbing a worthless genie lamp.
Monday, August 01, 2005
America is beautiful to me. Granted, we have our flaws. But even some of the things that infuriate me about our nation, our government policies, merely serve as reminders that each generation owes a debt of responsibility. And that responsibility, is to be actively involved in the democratic process.
Having gotten my feet wet in several of the political tributaries that flow into the bigger stream of politics has been an exhilirating and empowering experience. Each act of volunteerism, each vote I have cast, has kept my feet firmly planted on the bedrock of freedom.
I look back with fondness at the picture taken of me at a peaceful march on the Texas state capitol against abortion, shortly after leaving college. My sign says, "The death sentence is alive and well in abortion clinics." Then there was the foray into a presidential campaign working a phone bank, reading off that monotonous little script, trying to get the vote. If I had to to it again, I would just say whatever came out of my mouth. It would have been so much more fun! Following that, I attended a party convention as an alternate delegate here in the great state of Texas. Red, white and blue streamers were everywhere and I felt like part of a big school of fish. We all wore the same political buttons, yelled the same slogans and it was almost a cultlike event. The air was charged with power and big mouths prevailed. No shy people in that crowd.
Since that time, I have voted again and again. Attended the bar-b-cues and hot dog cook-outs. One of my favorite memories is of the time I talked to Senator Phil Graham and was fixated on the fact that he had a plastic fork sticking out of his shirt pocket. It was a backyard hamburger event. For the life of me, I cannot remember what we discussed. I just think of that silly fork.
Then we attended the annual bar-b-cue of a man running for office where the entertainment of the evening was an "Elvis" impersonator. It was at a local high school, and his smoke machine set off the fire alarms and we had to wait thirty minutes for those obnoxious alarms to be silenced. "Elvis" went slinking off the stage and the whole thing was pretty well a dud, but the food was good!
Most recently, my husband and I were precinct captains for the Pete Sessions campaign. Planning our attack of the neighborhood from the local Braums, the teams branched out deep into Martin Frost territory armed with our bags of propaganda goodies. Life was good! Our man, beat out the opposition.
I love grassroots politics. Believe me, I have never been beyond this low level. But it has been tremendous fun, highly educational and has instilled in me an appreciation for America. I have met many wonderful people along the way. The love for America has been deep on both sides of the political fence. And each time I involve myself in the process, I gain more than I have given. What can you give back to this nation? It only takes a little bit of your time!