Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

Have you ever considered that health care costs are so out of control because of insurance? How could that be? John Stossel shows us how:

Our Crazy Health-Insurance System
[...] You have to understand something right from the start. We Americans got hooked on health insurance because the government did the insurance companies a favor during World War II. Wartime wage controls prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving noncash benefits, like health insurance, to attract workers. The tax code helped this along by treating employer-based health insurance more favorably than coverage you buy yourself. And state governments have made things worse by mandating coverage many people would never buy for themselves.

Competition also pushed companies to offer ever-more attractive policies, such as first-dollar coverage for routine ailments, like ear infections and colds, and coverage for things that are not even illnesses, like pregnancy. We came to expect insurance to cover everything.

[...]

But insurance is a lousy way to pay for things. Your premiums go not just to pay for medical care but also for fraud, paperwork and insurance-company employee salaries. This is bad for you and bad for doctors.

The average American doctor now spends 14 percent of his income on insurance paperwork. A North Carolina doctor we interviewed had to hire four people just to fill out forms. He wishes he could spend that money on caring for patients.

The paperwork is part of insurance companies' attempt to protect themselves against fraud. That's understandable. Many people do cheat. They lie about their history or demand money for unnecessary care or care that never even happened.

So there is a lot of waste in insurance -- lost money and time.

Imagine if your car insurance covered oil changes and gasoline. You wouldn't care how much gas you used, and you wouldn't care what it cost. Mechanics would sell you $100 oil changes. Prices would skyrocket.

That's how it works in health care. Patients don't ask how much a test or treatment will cost. They ask if their insurance covers it. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) That is why insurance should be for catastrophes and accidents, not every little thing people need. It's trying to use insurance to pay for EVERYTHING that has made costs go completely out of control. Paying for your health insurance is getting as costly as making mortgage payments, and it needn't be so.

I made a simple visit to my doctor in June. I've only just recently received the bill for that visit. In the interim, I've gotten several statements from the insurance company, each covering some small aspect of the visit. I don't see doctors often, yet I've got files filled with such things. The paperwork generated, and the labor costs associated with it, are ridiculous. I could have paid him right then and there, but it's not ALLOWED. Clearly, changes are needed to reduce the bureaucracy created by insurance companies and third party billing.

Stossel makes some good suggestions in that regard. It's worth reading the whole thing, it's a short article and gets right to the point.
     

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Democrats and Media target Rep. Peter King

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, confers with Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., center, and Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., prior to a House Homeland Security Committee on Capitol Hill Wednesday, June 21, 2006, to discuss homeland security funding cuts for Washington and New York.
(AP Photo/Dennis Cook)


Rep. Peter King is being Politically Incorrect by saying we need to take a closer look at Muslims in the US, and their activities. But is he saying anything that isn't true? Lets look beyond Political Corrects and examine the facts.

From Douglas MacKinnon at Townhall.com:
Message to PC police: We have a responsibility to monitor U.S. Mosques
[...] According to that recent Pew Center survey, a quarter of younger Muslim-Americans support suicide bombings in some circumstances. That’s right. They support suicide bombings. 25% of Muslim-Americans refused to give an answer when asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Al-Qaeda. 5% of Muslim-Americans said they had a favorable view of the group that attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and tried to attack the White House or Capitol building.

If we accept the Pew Center’s estimate that there are 2.35 million Muslims in the United States, then 5% of that number would be 117,500 Muslim-Americans who have a favorable view of Al-Qaeda. A number that should not only send chills down our spines, but cries out for eternal vigilance.

What about the American Mosques themselves? According to various reports, at least 80% of U.S. Mosques follow or are influenced by the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia. Among other things, this sect believes it is a “religious obligation” to hate Christians and Jews and to think of the United States as “enemy territory.” In 2006, Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s leading scholars on Islam, called Wahhabism, “The most radical, the most violent, the most extreme and fanatical version of Islam.”

Why do those on the left in our country not want us to speak of this? Why do so many Democrats not want us to question the motives of those from within who look favorably upon Al-Qaeda? Surely it’s not for crass political reasons or to pander for votes.

According to this same Pew Center survey, the vast majority of Muslim-Americans consider themselves Democrats. In 2004, 71% voted for John Kerry for President. Why? Why would Muslims align themselves with the Democrats when socially, they are some of the most conservative people on the planet? Could it be that in the Democrats, they see a party that is less willing to ask the hard questions of them, while in the Republicans, they see a party more concerned with national security and therefore, much more interested in following unbiased evidence -- no matter where it leads. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The Democrats seem to think the biggest dangers America faces are the Republicans, and Walmart. The dare not see more, because a portion of their party membership are literally part of the problem, and Political Correctness prevents them from dealing with it.


Related Links:

Saudi Wahhabi education in the USA

Saudi Education Reforms... NOT
     

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad; The Left's New Best Friend

From Neal Boortz this morning:
HITLER .. BUT NOT THE ROTC
Columbia University has rightfully been under fire for inviting Iran's President to speak to its student body. Now Columbia's Dean is not only defending the decision, but says that Columbia would offer a platform for Hitler to come and speak if he were alive and in America.

So, there you have Dean John Coatsworth of Columbia University was on Fox News late last week telling the world that Hitler would be invited to speak at Columbia, were he available. Wonderful. But how do you square this against the decision by Columbia to un-invite the founder of the Minutemen? How do you square this with Columbia's refusal to allow the ROTC on campus? Hitler is OK, but a man who founded a group to monitor illegal activity along our borders is not? Hitler is fine, but young men training to be officers in our armed forces are not? [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The ROTC and the Minutemen are worse than Hitler?

The Left is often fond of saying Bush is worse than Hitler. Here we have a prime example of Bush Derangement Syndrome. From the Gay Patriot Blog:

Left-Wing Lesbian Has Crush on Ahmadinejad?!?!?!
When Hugh linked this post on the DailyKos where a Jewish lesbian, confessed having A Little Crush on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I quickly e-mailed Bruce, telling him that this was “beyond parody” and that I couldn’t find the words to express my stupefaction. Once again, I was rendered speechless by the far left. Yeah, the writer “sallykohn” does acknowledge that the anti-Semitic supporter of terrorism would “probably have [her] killed.” She even notes that there “are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor.” All that notwithstanding, she gets “turned on” by this guy’s “frank rhetoric” because he’s “calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding.“ [...]

Read the Whole thing... hard to believe, but all too common. This was typical of the kind of crap I heard repeatedly from gays in San Francisco, right up to the time we moved away 4 years ago. Lesbian "Christian" Ministers denouncing Bush, America and capitalism from their pulpits, and offering up Islamic Prayers to Allah in support of basically ANYONE in the Middle East who hated Bush, regardless of their track record for murdering gays and lesbians, and regardless of their atrocious treatment of women. And God help you if your tried to confuse them with the facts!

9-11 really brought the deranged thinking of the American Left to the forefront, forcing to me examine a lot of sympathy I used to have for many left wing views. When people so blatantly see only what they want to see, you have to start questioning the validity of their entire world view. That's exactly what I did, and I found it sadly wanting; quite unsupported by facts and reality.

It's emotional thinking at it's worst. They may believe that the enemy of their enemy is automatically their "Friend" But with Friends like Ahmadinejad and other Islamist tyrants, who needs enemies? And if your gay, you should choose your friends more carefully, if you want to stay alive.


Related Link:

www.columbiasupportsterror.com
A spoof that illustrates what should be obvious to any THINKING person.
     

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hillary says she's a "Progressive"; what it means


From Matt Mayer at Townhall.com:
Liberals Are Now Progressives (Again)
When Hillary Clinton recently discarded the term liberal for the term progressive, it reminded me of the famous question of whether a leopard could change its spots? The answer, of course, is no. A leopard is genetically a leopard as a liberal is philosophically a liberal whether she is called a liberal or not.

Nonetheless, it is important to know what a progressive is since that is now the preferred term of the left. It comes from the Progressive Era. One of its intellectual and political leaders was President Woodrow Wilson. The Progressive Movement's chief aim was to centralize power by eliminating those pesky little concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances and escape the confines of a fixed constitution so that America could progress (not that it hadn't up to that point as evidenced by the abolishment of slavery and its rise as a world power).

Wilson despised those constitutional mechanisms because they prevented government from "proceeding" in accordance with the will of "an outside master." Wilson believed that the Constitution should be a living document. [...]

Yeah, a "living document". That means you ignore precedents, and interpret it to mean whatever you want it to mean. And when that becomes impossible, you start making changes:

[...] The aim of the Progressive Movement succeeded as it gave birth to the rise of the administrative state and the consolidation of power in Washington during the New Deal and Great Society periods where many new rights and federal powers were suddenly found into the Constitution. This couldn't have happened had the progressives not succeeded in amending the Constitution in 1913 first to provide for a source of funding the administrative state (the federal income tax via the 16th Amendment) and then to eliminate any check the states had on the power in Washington (electing senators by popular vote instead of by state legislatures via the 17th Amendment). When states lost their ability to reign-in recalcitrant senators with threats to appoint someone else after his term ended if they voted to expand federal power or push costs to the states, the principle of federalism suffered a horrible blow. Given the failure over the last thirty years to reduce the power in Washington, that blow may have been deadly.

(bold emphasis mine) those changes by "progressives" are, IMO, where things started to go wrong; where the rot began that has created our growing Imperial Federal Government.

The article also touches on the Dark Side of the Progressive movement, such as it's embracement of concepts like Eugenics, which became also became popular with Big Governmetn groups like the NAZIS.
[...] This dark side of the Progressive Era, thankfully, came to an end. Its belief that there are those among us who know better and shouldn't be constrained by a fixed Constitution and limited government, unfortunately, did not. To escape the baggage of the term progressives, they started calling themselves liberals. Today's liberals, like yesterday's progressives, believe wholeheartedly that the answer to all of societies problems lies in the use of government by enlightened leaders to effectuate progress and view constitutional constraints as archaic and quaint. [...]

Constitutional restraints as "archaic and quaint"? Does that not sound like Hillary Clinton and many of today's Democrats?

There is a world of difference between genuine liberals, who are easy going live-and-let-live people, and progressives like Hillary who believe in an enlightened elite who need to be unhindered by the constraints of the rule of law so they can "progress". Isn't the latter like what the Kings and Queens of old did? Isn't that why we have constitutional constraints?

The whole article isn't very long, but is well worth reading.


Related Links:

From Born Again Redneck:
Liberals Are Now Progressives (Again)
Here are some excerpts by Pat from the same article, with his commentary at the end.

From Neal Boortz:
WHY DEMOCRATS JUST ABSOLUTELY HATE BEING CALLED .....
     

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Masked bandit kidnaps, kills and eats victim...

... and if that's not bad enough, he comes back for more!

The photo to the left is not the actual one I saw last night, but it does give a nice view of the teeth of the species. Nasty.

But I'm jumping ahead. Let me start from the beginning.

Lately here on the farm, we've had a problem getting our Guinea fowls to go into the coup with the chicken's at night. Like rebellious teenagers, they want to stay out all night long. There are (were) four of them, and they have taken to hanging out on top of the wire chicken run outside, instead of going in the coup.

The night before last, just like in one of those teen horror movies on the Sci-Fi channel, one of them got eaten by something. There was a scream at 5:30 am. I found the feathers when it was daylight.

So yesterday evening, the 3 remaining Guineas perched on top outside again. I was pretty sure the predator would be back for seconds, so I shooed them off with a stick. In the past when I've done that, they run into the woods and perch in the trees. They seemed to do the same; but when I went to close the coup up later, I was relieved to see that the Guineas went inside.

Well later on, about 3:30am the dogs went crazy barking, looking in the direction of the chicken coup. I went out with a flashlight and saw a HUGE raccoon around the coup. I suspect he ate the Guinea the night before. I threw something in his direction and he scampered off.

I'm hoping the remaining Guineas will figure it out and go back inside each night like they used to. I'm generally careful not to leave food, garbage or animal feed outside, as I don't want to attract raccoons and other varmints. But our chickens, ducks and Guineas are free range; some of them lay eggs in the brush on the edges of the yard, and in the woods. I don't always find them all, and I think that attracts raccoons too. I don't know what I can do about that, other than find the eggs. I find most of them; the dogs help.

Hopefully the Masked Bandit won't be back. I prefer wildlife in the wild, not in my domestic farmyard. Fortunately the coup we built is pretty strong, but there are other good reasons for not wanting raccoons making regular visits:

Baylisascaris procyonis (Raccoon Roundworm)

Talk about creepy. It's transferable to humans, and there is no cure? I'm pretty sure there are raccoon feces in the yard, and the dogs have a tendency to munch on all sorts of unidentifiable things. I walk them through paths in our woods, too, and I'm sure they find all sorts of unsavory munchables. Now I'm wondering if there is more I can or need to do to protect them from raccoon roundworm.

Even when we lived in the Big City, we had raccoons. Baylisascaris procyonis is something most folks need to be aware of.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flying Nunsense


Sally Field recently claimed that she had joined the list of mothers with kids in Iraq because she plays one (Nora Walker) on TV.

I'm always amazed when air head actresses claim that pretending to be something is just the same as being something.

How long will it be before we see her on the cover of Aviation Digest, and hear Sally claim she's entitled to an Aviation license, explaining "I've never flown an airplane, but I once played..."


Yeah, same thing, isn't it...

I guess that's why they are called entertainers; they are very entertaining as long as you don't take them as seriously as they take themselves.




Related Link:

If nuns could fly....
     

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cannabis, Communism and Conspiracy Theory all go Together to make this San Franciso Treat

And they were all three proudly on display recently at the 9/11 Truth March and Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco on September 8th.


I lived in San Francisco for 23 years. We moved away from there about 4 years ago. Pat was telling me I must go and look at the pictures and commentary of the event at the ZombieTime blog. At first I didn't want to, largely because that's the sort of thing that made me want to move away in the first place. Pat said it was a good reminder of why we don't live there anymore. I still wasn't interested.

But then he made the following post on his blog:

Going to pot
I used to be a Libertarian. San Francisco was chock full of them. Most of them were pot-heads, didn't like rules and never met a conspiracy theory that they didn't like. At first I thought I fit right in because I'd smoked tons of pot in my youth, didn't like rules and was fascinated by conspiracy theories. I read all about how the Free Masons control the world (at least when the Catholics or the Jews aren't) and how the Bushes are fourth cousins to the Queen and how the cult of Skopsis started the communist revolution in Russia.

You name it, I read it and eventually it dawned on me what the one thing was that conspiracy nuts all had in common: they were pot-heads with wild imaginations and heavy cases of paranoia. I soon parted company with both the Libertarians and pot-heads but I retained many of my small "l" libertarian ideals, one of which was that socalled "victimless crimes" like drug-taking should be legal. Even as recently as a few months ago, I posted on this blog that drugs should be legal.

I've changed my mind. [...]

It's worth reading his reasons in the rest of the post. We were discussing it at dinner last night, so I decided to go look at the photos. Talk about San Francisco Flashback! I've been to/lived near all the places in the photos. And the people, the faces, the events... oh so typically San Francisco.

There was a strong Marijuana presence at the Peace Fesitval:


Zombietime reported that illegal activity was openly being conducted:

[...] Theoretically, one must have a prescription to purchase "medical marijuana" from a licensed dispensary, but these folks were just taking money and handing out cannabis to anyone -- no presciptions required, no ID to check your age, come and get it.[...]

I'm not at all surprised. When we lived there, I knew many people with "Medical Marijuana" perscriptions who were dealing it to their friends. The legal guidelines were routinely flouted, because everyone knew that no one would enforce them. See the Zombietime link for more info and photos about this.

As for the politics of the festival, the Libertarians had a strong presence, as did a large assortment of socialist/communist groups:


As noted by Zombietime:
[...] But Truthism and Ron Paul-itis were not the main themes at the Power to the Peaceful festival. No, the real focus of the event was communism. Yes, communism. And for the sticklers out there: I use the term as a sort of generalized catch-all to describe the many varieties and gradations of communism to be found at the event, including socialism, Stalinism, anarcho-syndicalism, Marxism, Maoism, "people's revolution," and so on. There's no single word that best emcompasses all these political views better than the simple "communism," so that's the word I'm going to use, like it or not. [...]

How can Libertarians and Communists be so closely aligned? Aren't they opposites? Well logically, yes... but what has logic got to do with it?

It's like this. The Libertarian's believe recreational drugs should be legal. The pot-heads of SF are all for that. They are all for anything that lets them flout laws they don't want applied to them. That portion of libertarianism is very convenient for them. But what about the rest of the Libertarian philosophy, against big government? How can so many San Franciscan's seriously claim that you can't be a Libertarian if you aren't a socialist as well? I was told that many times.

It's easily explained. When you live in a Marijuana fog, you don't have to be ruled by pesky logic, you just follow your feelings. Logic is only to be used here and there in bits and pieces, to prop up your half-baked notions and emotional assertions: it's not a frame work to hang your world view on. Thus, you can easily embrace Libertarianism to support your drug use, and socialism to support your welfare checks, and communism to ensure that you don't have to compete (work) for anything, and can just live in your own little stoned Nirvana. Sex, drugs and rock'n roll. The John Lennonist reality. "Imagine all the people..." Imagine being the key word.

And of course, the paranoia often associated with frequent Marijuana use fits in perfectly with conspiracy theory, which was also much on display at the festival:



Every kind of conspiracy theory an emotional thinker could desire. No need to think too deeply, just FEEL and let political correctness be your guide.

Yes, this festival was a real genuine San Francisco treat all right... looking at all the photos, I feel like I was there once again. But it's not a treat for me, which is why I don't live there anymore. A fact for which I am very grateful.


Related Links:

I beg to disagree

Why I left San Francisco #769
     

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A survivor's story...


Cox and Forkum has a link to a book about 9-1l eyewitness stories. There is an excerpt of the story of one man, David Kravette, a Cantor Fitzgerald broker, who was the only employee in his offic that morning to survive. Here is a partial excerpt:
[...] At 8:40, I get a phone call from the security desk downstairs, asking me if I'm expecting visitors. I said yes. "Well, they're here," they said. "But one of them forgot their ID."

I'm 105 flights up. The commute to get downstairs takes about five minutes, especially around that time. So I'm annoyed, obviously, because I have to go down now to sign these people in after I just told them to bring ID. I look at this desk assistant across from me, thinking maybe she'll help out and go down, but she's on the phone. She's also about eight months pregnant. She's a few weeks from maternity leave and she's on the phone talking to a friend and she's on a website looking at bassinets and cribs. A very nice girl expecting her first child. So how lazy am I? I decide to go myself. ... [...]

It's bad enough that he was the only one to survive. But... follow the link and read the rest of the excerpt, to find out what happened when he got to the lobby. Horrendous.
     

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Monday, September 10, 2007

The 9-11 jumpers; they didn't "jump"

This is an issue that isn't talked about a lot, because it's so unpleasant, and extremely emotional. It's about the people who supposedly "jumped" from the WTC towers before they collapsed.

So many in the media seemed to claim at the time that they were jumping out of "despair"; as if it were just an emotional response, a suicide choice; an act of will, that they could simply choose to do or not do.

That just seems like such an unfair judgment to me. I don't believe that most, if any, of those people "chose" to jump. I think SMOKE, HEAT and FLAMES simply FORCED them to their deaths by falling. You can't "choose" whether or not you want to stand close to burning jet fuel; you simply can't. If there is nowhere safe to move away to, you move anyway. Just the smoke alone, making it impossible for you to even breath... if you were suffocating, what would you do for air?

To call it jumping, like it was a choice, just seems wrong. When people went to work at the WTC that morning, they were not expecting to have to jump to their deaths. These poor souls did NOT choose this...


Last year at this time I posted a Tribute to Lorraine D. Antigua as part of the "2,996 project" to memorialize the victims of 9-11. While researching that, I read a lot about the situation of the employees at Lorraine's firm, Cantor Fitzgerald. That in turn lead to many articles about people who fell to their deaths.

It's an extremely volatile topic, that generates a wide range of reactions. It was only years after the attack occurred that many people could even begin to talk about it.


On one level I feel compelled to post on this topic because of my many years experience working in high-rise security and fire safety. Yet that experience also makes it extremely upsetting, because what the victims of the WTC attack faced before they died is... not an abstraction to me. So much of my job was about keeping people safe from those very things.

I'm going to post some links to articles that examine what happened, why people "jumped" or fell; how people have dealt with it; and why it matters.

Desperation forced a horrific decision
[...] "It took three or four to realize: They were people," says James Logozzo, who had gathered with co-workers in a Morgan Stanley boardroom on the 72nd floor of the south tower, just 120 feet away from the north tower. "Then this one woman fell."

She fell closer to the south tower, he recalls. Logozzo saw her face. She had dark hair and olive skin, a white blouse and black skirt. She fell with her back to the ground, flat, staring up.

"The look on her face was shock. She wasn't screaming. It was slow motion. When she hit, there was nothing left," Logozzo says.

[...]

USA TODAY estimates that at least 200 people jumped to their deaths that morning, far more than can be seen in the photographs taken that morning. Nearly all were from the north tower, which was hit first and collapsed last. Fewer than a dozen were from the south tower.

The jumping started shortly after the first jet hit at 8:46 a.m. People jumped continuously during the 102 minutes that the north tower stood. Two people jumped as the north tower began to fall at 10:28 a.m., witnesses said.

For those who jumped, the fall lasted 10 seconds. They struck the ground at just less than 150 miles per hour — not fast enough to cause unconsciousness while falling, but fast enough to ensure instant death on impact. People jumped from all four sides of the north tower. They jumped alone, in pairs and in groups.

Most came from the north tower's 101st to 105th floors, where the Cantor Fitzgerald bond firm had offices, and the 106th and 107th floors, where a conference was underway at the Windows on the World restaurant. Others leaped from the 93rd through 100th floor offices of Marsh & McLennan insurance company.

Intense smoke and heat, rather than flames, pushed people into this horrific choice. Flight 11 struck the 94th through 98th floors of the north tower, shooting heat and smoke up elevator shafts and stairways in the center of the building. Within minutes, it would have been very difficult to breathe. That drove people to the windows 1,100 to 1,300 feet above ground.

There were several reasons more people jumped from the north tower than from the south. The fire was more intense and compact in the north tower. The jet hit higher, so smoke was concentrated in 15 floors compared with 30 floors in the south tower, which was hit on the 78th through 84th floors. The north tower also stood longer: 102 minutes vs. 56 minutes. And twice as many people were trapped on the north tower's upper floors than in the south tower, where occupants had 161/2 minutes to evacuate before the second jet hit.

The New York medical examiner's office says it does not classify the people who fell to their deaths on Sept. 11 as "jumpers."

"A 'jumper' is somebody who goes to the office in the morning knowing that they will commit suicide," says Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. "These people were forced out by the smoke and flames or blown out." [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Breaking the windows so they could breath also unfortunately fed the flames of the fire. An unbelievably horrific situation.













THE 9/11 JUMPERS
[...] Jack Gentual, dean of student services at the New Jersey Institute of Technology got a call from his wife Alayne who worked in the tower and was trapped on the 97th floor. "She told me smoke was coming in the room, coming through the vents, her breath was laboured ... She said to me 'I'm scared' and she wasn't a person who got scared. She said that she loved me and to tell the boys she loved them." Alayne told her husband that she was going to try to escape to the lower floors and that she would call later.

But Gentual never heard from his wife again. Her body was found on the street in front of the building across from hers. He wonders if his wife was one of the many who decided to jump. "In some ways it might just be the last elements of control. To be out of the smoke and the heat, to be out in the air...it must have felt like flying."

For those who jumped, the fall lasted about ten seconds. The jumpers hit the ground at 240 kilometres a hour. It wasn't fast enough to cause unconsciousness while falling, but ensured instant death on impact.

Witnesses there that day say there was a constant stream of jumpers over the next hour and a half. [...]
The article has a photo of Alayne Gentual.


Falling Man: the many faces of a 9/11 riddle

This is a story about the search to identify a falling man in one of the photos. People's reactions to this quest were varied and sometimes extreme. Even if you don't agree with the way some people reacted, it's not hard to understand. Everyone deals with the horror in their own way.



The Falling Man (Esquire Magazine)
[...] They jumped through windows already broken and then, later, through windows they broke themselves. They jumped to escape the smoke and the fire; they jumped when the ceilings fell and the floors collapsed; they jumped just to breathe once more before they died. They jumped continually, from all four sides of the building, and from all floors above and around the building's fatal wound. They jumped from the offices of Marsh & McLennan, the insurance company; from the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond-trading company; from Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors--the top. For more than an hour and a half, they streamed from the building, one after another, consecutively rather than en masse, as if each individual required the sight of another individual jumping before mustering the courage to jump himself or herself. One photograph, taken at a distance, shows people jumping in perfect sequence, like parachutists, forming an arc composed of three plummeting people, evenly spaced. Indeed, there were reports that some tried parachuting, before the force generated by their fall ripped the drapes, the tablecloths, the desperately gathered fabric, from their hands. They were all, obviously, very much alive on their way down, and their way down lasted an approximate count of ten seconds. They were all, obviously, not just killed when they landed but destroyed, in body though not, one prays, in soul. [...]
This articles deals in part with the same identity search story as in the story above this one, but it also has other sections dealing with various reactions by different people. It's a very contentious issue for many people.



What it was like to jump from the World Trade Center

These are photos with a question that makes a lot of people angry. Reactions to it in the comments section are mixed; some feel that it is needed to "never forget", and to galvanize our resolve in the WOT. Others feel it's morbid and in bad taste.

I think it is ALL of those things. Murdering people in terrorist acts is morbid and in the worst possible bad taste. I'd much rather think about other things. But ignoring and not dealing with things is precisely what led up to 9-11. If we can't even look at what's happened, how are we going to stop it from happening again? If we continue living in a 9-10 world, where we just refuse to look at or deal with some things, what will come next? If we can't look at the ugly truth, the whole of it, how are we going to respond to it effectively?





Related Links:

Highrise Security and our post 9-11 reality

9-11 Firemen deaths and WTC radio problems

9/11 - Remembering The Jumpers (Video, 8 minutes)
   

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A Really Cool Political Map of the USA

Are you bored with usual over-simplified Red vs Blue scenarios? Then check out THIS political map, which divides the country up into 10 political cultures:


The map is from an on-line article called Beyond Red and Blue. A brief description of each area:

* Northeast Corridor: the richest, best-educated and most densely populated region of the US. A traditionally Democrat-leaning area, it delivered 62% of the vote to Al Gore in 2000. That’s better than any Democrat in any region since LBJ.

* Upper Coasts: anchored by Boston (on the east coast) and San Francisco (on the west coast), this region is relatively affluent and well-educated. Arguably more liberal than the Northeast Corridor, it is less reliably Democratic: third-party candidates do well.

* Farm Belt: has the smallest non-white population, with lower than average population growth. Ranks first in percentage of people who finish high school, but don’t get a higher education. Solidly Republican.

* Big River: has been the most closely contested area in presidential elections for over 30 years. And the region isn’t easily wooed, never giving either candidate more than 55% during this period.

* Appalachia:
the poorest and most rural region, but catching up economically. Showed a dramatic swing towards the Republicans in 1980 and stayed that way ever since.

* Sagebrush: named after the anti-bureaucratic Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, this region occupies almost 50% of the US land area. The fastest growing region, it was also Al Gore’s worst region in 2000.

* Great Lakes: centered around Chicago, and suffering from population loss in smaller cities, it has Democrats chasing votes in more rural areas – the suburban counties have been tilting their way, anyway.

* Southern Comfort: fast-growing and average as to income and education, this was part of the ‘Solid South’ that squarely supported the Democratic party around 50 years ago. It has since turned into the most Republican region of the US.

* Southern Lowlands: the largest percentage of African-American voters, who reliably vote Democratic. This voting bloc is matched by some of the most Republican areas in the US, making it a swing area.

* El Norte: the youngest and most Hispanic region, it was carried by Gore in 2000. It is however not solidly Democratic, having recently sent conservative Republicans to Congress (from Florida and Texas).

A more detailed description of each area can be found here:

"The 10 Regions of US Politics"

One of my favorite areas is also where I live: Sagebrush. Here is the detailed description of that region:

Sagebrush

Occupying about half the land area of the United States, the Sagebrush region includes all or part of 17 states -- all of them a long way from Washington, DC. Most are in the west, but the region also includes like-minded parts of New Hampshire and Maine. The former is known as a libertarian stronghold (so much so that a national anti-government group called the Free State Project is trying to get its members to settle there and take over local politics); the latter distinguished itself as Ross Perot's strongest state in 1992.

This region is named after the Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s, which centered on the resentment of western states toward regulations (particularly of the environmental variety) imposed by the federal bureaucracy. The Sagebrush Rebellion helped to flip nearly a dozen US Senate seats from the Democrats to the Republicans between 1976 and 1980, an advantage that has helped the GOP hold that chamber for most of the time since.

Surprisingly, the Sagebrush region is not among the most rural in the US. It is the fastest growing region, and though its wide-open spaces undoubtedly attract newcomers, most of them settle in booming cities such as Phoenix and Colorado Springs. It ranks first in the number of residents who are under 18, and first in the number of adults who have attended college but not obtained a bachelor's degree. In 2000, it was Gore's worst region, but only third best for Bush; in presidential races, Sagebrush customarily delivers the most votes to minor candidates, from Greens to Libertarians.

The patron political saint of Sagebrush is Arizona's Barry Goldwater, whose campaign against Big Government in 1964 was a launching point for the modern conservative movement, and, thus, the modern Republican Party. Though Ronald Reagan has never been a long-term resident of what we now call Sagebrush, he exemplified the region's mindset when he took the presidency in 1980.

More recently, Sagebrush has had to compete with Southern Comfort for the soul of the Republican Party. One difference between the two regions is that Sagebrush seems more ambivalent toward religious conservatism. Goldwater himself expressed disdain for Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority during his last Senate term, and another senator from Arizona, John McCain, pretty much burned his bridges to fundamentalist groups during his 2000 presidential run. Vice President Dick Cheney, who once represented Wyoming in the US House, is a forceful voice for conservatism on fiscal and foreign-policy issues but seems less enthusiastic about advocating fundamentalist views on gay rights and other cultural issues. Yet the region is still represented by many Republicans in the moralist wing of the party, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a leader of the anti-abortion movement, and Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the driving force behind a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

Even in Democratic primaries, voters prefer candidates with more libertarian views (liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues). It was Gary Hart's strongest region against Walter Mondale in 1984.

(bold emphasis mine) For the most part, it's my kinda place! Follow the links for more information about how this map was created, it's usefulness in following elections and political trends, and for more detailed descriptions of the different areas, and what forces are shaping and changing them.
     

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Amusing Interior Designs of the 60's and 70's

Some of the horrendous ways that people used to decorate their homes are now quite funny to look back on. What WERE they thinking? A site on Flickr called Your Swingin' Pad offers 87 samples from an old publication. I'll show just a few here:


The link takes you to a page of photo thumnails. At first I thought I wouldn't click on all of them, but only what appeared to be the worst ones. But as I browsed through them, it was a real trip down memory lane. Many of these furnishings and fabrics I had seen in different times and places throughout my life.

I like orange, and I like plaid, but this has too much of both. Ouch!


Some of them were real freaky, like this bathroom. Is that really black shag carpeting? And those windows with no curtains - what did the neighbors think?


Not all of them were ugly. Even the ugly ones sometimes had components that were good or interesting.


A lot of the mod, impractical, uncomfortable furniture is recognizable from many garage and yard sales I've seen, with people trying to get rid of the junk. Other pieces have become much sought after "classics".

Yet there is no denying that many of these "designs" were just plain painful to look at. Here's a few, with comments people made about them:

I could imagine waking up in this room and saying,
"Damn! It wasn't a dream..."


For those times when you want to discourage your guests from going upstairs.


The girlie force-field emanating from this one is pretty strong!


I'm having a hard time deciding which was worse, the sixties or the seventies.



Even funnier that the photos, is some of the catty commentary left in the comments section below each photo. That is the primary reason that I ended up going through all eighty seven of them. Some of the photos there have embedded comments in them too, that appear when you put the mouse cursor over certain objects or people in the photos. It was great fun! Have a look if your tempted: Your Swingin' Pad.
     

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