Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"I could wire your jaws shut so tight that you can't move your jaws to talk, and if you can't talk you can't eat."

An article in the New York Times discusses problematic experiences that some patients have had with their doctors. The title quote is what a doctor told someone whom she thought was slowly committing suicide by putting on weight.

Fat people say they know that problem well. It happened last summer to Tina Hedberg of Conover, Wis., who saw a doctor when a diet she was on was no longer eliciting drastic weekly weight loss. The doctor, Ms. Hedberg said, told her that she had a mental problem because she weighed 400 pounds. Ms. Hedberg was trying to commit suicide by getting so fat, the doctor informed her. Then the doctor said Ms. Hedberg had two choices. She could be admitted to a mental institution, or, the doctor said, "I could wire your jaws shut so tight that you can't move your jaws to talk, and if you can't talk you can't eat."

Being morbidly obese puts a person at risk for heart problems, for sure, but did the doctor really need to say that? Could a different, more caring approach have been better?

I've worked with hospitals and doctors (although mostly psychiatrists) in one form or another for a total of over eight years. Although the majority of doctors I've encountered have been genuinely caring and respective of patient needs, it is a slim majority. I have observed terrible attitudes some doctors have towards patients (as evidenced by their statements about patients, sometimes made in front of them), especially those who have a mental illness or a substance abuse problem. Numerous people whom I've talked to at my worksite have complained about how little time their doctor spends with them.

Ms. Wong had come across a bane of the medical profession: the difficult doctor. These doctors may be arrogant or rude, highhanded or dismissive. They drive away patients who need help, and some have been magnets for malpractice claims. And while such doctors have always been part of medicine, medical organizations say they fear that they are increasingly common - doctors, under pressure to see more patients, are spending less and less time with each one and are replacing long discussions with laboratory tests and scans - and that most problem doctors apparently have no idea of their patients' opinions of them.

The moral of the story? Talk to your doctor or nurse staff, demand better treatment if you don't believe you are getting proper care, and if you are able to do so, by all means see another doctor.

Black Sabbath, Blondie, Miles Davis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Sex Pistols

These are the 2006 inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols have been nominated numerous times in years past, but finally have their invitation this year to join.

I can't say that I really listened to any of these performers, except perhaps Blondie. (You do realize that Blondie is a group, right? Deborah Harry is the leader singer - she isn't "Blondie" herself.) I still like to sing along to "Heart of Glass" when I hear it on the radio - I prefer it to "Call Me," which I find to be most irritating, musically.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is probably best known in recent years for providing back-up to Bo Bice on "American Idol" and giving a Reese Witherspoon movie its title.

Speaking of Debbie Harry, there is a longstanding debate about who was the better bad girl of rock - Harry or Pat Benatar (who sang "I Love Rock & Roll" and "Love is a Battlefield"). I always thought it was hands-down Harry.

is there meaning behind the anger in rap?

John McWhorter, author of the forthcoming "Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America," doesn't think so and he tells you why.
Why do "conscious" rappers have so little interest in the political issues that directly affect poor black people's lives? Could it be because those issues do not usually lend themselves to calls for smacking people and making the streets run red? If so, then chalk up one more for people who do not see hip-hop as politically constructive.

The "conscious" rappers themselves make the "message" analysis even harder to fall for because they tend to squirm under the label. "They keep trying to slip the 'conscious rapper' thing on me," Mos Def says. "They try to get me because I'm supposed to be more articulate, I'm supposed to be not like the other Negroes, to get me to say something against my brothers. I'm not going out like that, man." So it would be "going out" even to question the theatrical savagery that hip-hop's critics fail to see the good in?

"Conscious" rap, like gangsta rap, is ultimately all about spitting in the eye of the powers that be. But this is precisely what the millions of blacks making the best of themselves in modern America have not done. And contrary to what we are often led to believe, spitting is not serious activism. It's merely attitude.

There is not a thing wrong with "conscious rap" fans enjoying the beats and the rhymes and even valuing the sprinkles of an awareness of something beyond guns, Hennessy and women's behinds. But if we have gotten to the point that we are treating even this "conscious" work as serious civil rights activism, then black America is in even worse trouble than we thought.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dude, where's my ethics?

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators. Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties. Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation. "I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he said. (BreitBart)

I found it interesting that he became tearful during the press conference announcing his resignation. Was he crying because of his behavior, or crying that he was caught and will now face jail time?

His letter of resignation is here.

UPDATE: As of 12:57 AM EST on 12/1/05, still no mention on his website about his resignation.

UPDATE 2: The site now discusses how the office will operate as a vacant post.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Colts 26, Steelers 7

Still perfect

Was it personal? Oh, yes, they made it personal.

Supreme Court will consider N.H. abortion law

On Wednesday, November 30, the Supreme Court will hear a case about a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification before a minor has an abortion.

The 2003 law was struck down, days before it was to take effect, for failing to provide an exception to protect a minor's health. Under the law, parents or guardians must be notified either in person or by certified mail.

Supporters of the law say a provision that allows a girl to go to a judge instead of a parent provides needed protection if her health is in danger. Opponents, however, say the law's requirements could lead to dangerous delays and result in judges making medical decisions instead of doctors. They also view the law as an ill-disguised attempt by abortion opponents to chip away at Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion. (CNN)

It wil be interesting to see how the case is handled by the court. Conservatives will no doubt count on Chief Justice Roberts to rule in their favor, but his vote will likely be the same as Rehnquist's would have been.

"Women are going to get abortions no matter what, whether it's legal or illegal, whether they're 13 or whether they're 50. ... Any limitations put on it is heading backward in time," said Becca Pawling, 35, who leads Annie's Forum, a weekly program that brings together teenage girls and older women for snacks, support, crafts and conversation in Portsmouth.

We've heard this before, haven't we? It's the old they're going to do it anyway so it may as well be legal argument. But does it hold any water? Quite frankly, no, it doesn't. If that argument is valid, then we may as well legalize illicit drug use, since people are just going to use marijuana and crystal meth anyway. After all, people who use drugs put them into their own bodies, and don't they have a right to do with their bodies as they please?

But of course, it's all about moving forward, isn't it. None of this "heading backward in time" stuff. Any step forward is naturally the correct one.

Related: Check out this post on failed abortions and babies left to die on a hospital shelf.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."
Jeremiah 1:5

Madonna's desire

She may be a horrible actress, but what she really wants to do is direct.

* Okay, okay - she wasn't half-bad in "Truth or Dare," but she was playing herself, so...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

what happens if you win the lottery?

Two couples from Oregon won the recent Powerball jackpot, which had been estimated at $340 million but was paid out at $110 million because the couples opted for a lump sum. They recount what happened when they discovered they had won, and also talk about plans for their future.

[Winner Frances Chaney] said they waited a while before coming forward so they could get legal and financial advice. She said she couldn't believe their luck. "I went on the Internet that night to check the numbers," she said.

When she found a match, she checked several other Web sites before calling her daughter to tell her the news. The family checked and rechecked. Then they heard that the winning number was in Oregon, with a ticket bought in Jacksonville, "and we thought, 'Maybe it is us.'"

Steve West, who is self-employed, said he will continue working -- "to keep us grounded." He said he may buy a sports car, and his wife wants a new car, but "we plan on not changing a lot."

The media attention already has changed his life, he said, with people recognizinghim everywhere he goes. "You daydream a lot of times about what you'd do with the money," West said. "But you don't really expect how it would change your life and how things around you might change, until you've actually won the money, and things then begin to fall into place. It's scary." (CNN)

Mack Metcalf and Virginia Metcalf Merida, a married couple who won $65 million from Powerball five years ago, are now both deceased. Click here to read their strange and tragic tale. The article reads that Mack had lived in Kentucky in a replica of Mt. Vernon, and Virginia lived in a 5,000-square-foot geodesic dome house.

This begs the following questions: if you won the lottery and you moved to another locale, what would the house look like and where would it be located?

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Prov 23:4-5 (NIV)

UPDATE: More on the Metcalfs here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"I was trying to get out of the way, but they knocked me down."

Here is an excellent reason not to go shopping on 'Black Friday.' Lots of idiotic and greedy people out there.
"Black Friday," the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, began in South Florida early today with a 73-year-old woman being knocked down as a crowd at an electronics store rushed a metal security gate to get inside. The crowd of shoppers outside BrandsMart USA in Sawgrass Mills, angry at being forced to wait by security personnel, pushed their way under the security gate and down a hallway into the store, forcing dozens of people against the walls and trampling the woman. (Sun-Sentinel)

I've been to Sawgrass Mills several times. I've heard that it's the second most visited site in Florida. I'll let you guess as to what is the most visited site - it has something to do with a rodent. Sawgrass has a lot of great stores, especially the Off Fifth and the Gap Outlet. I loved eating at Wolfgang Puck's Cafe (mmmmmm... pumpkin-filled ravioli), but it appears from the S.M. website that it's no longer there.

UPDATE: I last visited Sawgrass Mills in late March 2007. Puck's Cafe had closed.

"So while cranberries can be enjoyed, they should be limited to mealtimes only to avoid potential problems."

Did you have enough cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving? They may help keep your teeth nice and healthy.
Scientists have found a compound in the fruit can stop bacteria from clinging to the teeth, blocking the formation of damaging plaque deposits. However, researcher Dr Hyuan Koo warned many cranberry-containing products were loaded with sugar and consuming large amounts could lead to tooth decay. The study, by the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, will be published in Caries Research. (BBC News)

Roger Ebert to Oprah: "Syndicate!"

If you wonder how Oprah began her path to super-stardom, look no further than her Chicago neighbor Roger Ebert.
Yes, it is true, I persuaded Oprah to become the most successful and famous woman in the world. I was also the person who suggested that Jerry Springer not go into syndication, for which I have received too little credit.

All of these years I have maintained a discreet silence about my role as Oprah's adviser, but now that she has spilled the beans, the time is right to tell the whole story.

It begins early one morning in Baltimore, where Gene Siskel and I are scheduled to appear on a morning talk show hosted by a newcomer named Oprah Winfrey. The other guests on the show include a vegetarian chef, and four dwarfs dressed as chipmunks, who will sing "The Chipmunk Christmas Song" while dancing with Hula-Hoops. (

Jump to the source to see the full story.

I've always been an admirer of Winfrey's and what she has accomplished. However, I think she's become a little more full of herself in the past few years. She has shown off her lavish homes, and she spends a little too much on-stage time with her Hollywood friends. I still watch her at times, though, especially the "favorite things" show - and I'll hopefully catch her visit with David Letterman.

who to hire for disaster preparedness

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.
''If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way,'' Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.
Brown said officials need to ''take inventory'' of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is. (New York Times)

Here's to hoping he learned from his mistakes.

100 Notable Books of 2005

The New York Times has given its list of the most notable books of the year. I've read "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" already, and I'm currently reading "Collapse" and "Team of Rivals." So, 3 out of 100.

Would I be a better person if I read more of these? Or would I just be a more exhausted person? Probably more exhausted. Also, how many books would a person have to read in order to sound pretentious when they say something like, "I've read [X] books on the NY Times list."

I don't believe the mere act of reading a notable book would make me a better person, or that reading an un-notable one would make me a worse one. Maybe the reading would mean that I'm a thoughtful person, that I care about the opinions of others and/or the history of things, but not necessarily that I would go out into the world and do great things and thereby be better than I was before I read the books. I could read the Bible all I wanted to but if I didn't apply its principles and teachings to my life, what good would that do?

"They were the first ones to essentially give us a recorded celebration."

You think the first Thanksgiving happened with the Pilgrims and some native Americans in Massachusetts? Perhaps you're wrong - at least some Florida historians think you are.

But when it comes to Thanksgiving, Florida historians have been saying the same thing for years: It happened first in the Sunshine State — with salt pork, sea biscuits and garbanzo beans. In the 1560s, French and Spanish settlers arrived separately on Florida's northern coast, and each celebrated with prayer and a thanksgiving feast. The Spanish gathering at St. Augustine even featured guests from a local American Indian tribe.


It wasn't until 1621, more than 50 years later, that Pilgrims came to Plymouth, Mass., and held the feast that was later dubbed the first Thanksgiving. But the Florida celebrations didn't become widely known until the second half of the 20th century, long after Abraham Lincoln's 1863 declaration that the last Thursday in November would be the national day of Thanksgiving. (Palm Beach Post)

Wax on, wax ... off

Pat Morita, best known for his roles as Arnold on the TV show "Happy Days" and Mr. Miyagi in the "Karate Kid" movies, has died.

Don't you wish you could have someone very wise with you all the time to guide you? That person would especially be handy when meeting up with this guy.

Petra folds

Petra, a legendary Christian band that's almost as old as I am, is ending their 33-year run. I talked about this on my former blog, but I thought I'd mention them here. They have won four Grammy awards and ten Dove awards (the Christian equivilant of the Grammy).

I've always thought that "Christian" music in general was a step down from "secular" music - I don't necessarily mean lyrics, but more the music itself. Musicians who may not have the artistic or musical merit to make it in the "secular" world - and there are Christians who have made it (Johnny Cash or Bono of U2, to name two - perhaps Amy Grant to a lesser degree but that's debatable) - have sought an audience in the "Christian" realm and found it. I realize that this is not always the case, and there are fine examples of talent and musicianship in the Christian realm (I believe Larnelle Harris can go toe-to-toe with any R&B singer, including the late Luther Vandross; Jars of Clay has received recognition from the "secular" press). Petra is one of those bands whose artistry and talent are deeply impressive, whither they be in the "Christian" or "secular" realm.

Bob Hartman, a founding member of the group, and John Schlitt, leader singer since 1986, recently sat down with Christianity Today to talk about how their good thing has come to an end.

Bob made an interesting observation on Christian music:
Back in the day when we started, it was really about ministry. There were record companies that actually cared if you had a ministry or not—that you were bringing something to people spiritually that was going to last. I'm not saying nobody in Christian music is like that right now, but even if there are, they're overruled by other things. It's much more about fashion than it used to be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to Him through God the Father."
Colossians 3:17

"I really know that if God can forgive him, why not me?"

Eileen Harris forgives the man who killed her husband and daughter.
Rev. Eileen Harris looked into the eyes of the man who brutally killed her daughter and husband and talked to him of God's forgiveness during a court hearing Tuesday at which the former housecleaner was sentenced to life in prison.Harris, a petite woman dressed in a black suit, had just finished describing the pain and longing she has endured since her loved ones' murders when she leaned toward Russell Sedelmaier, who stood with head bowed.

"Russell," she said, calling his name twice before Sedelmaier looked at her. "Because I value the gift of life and I know God forgives and loves all of us, especially you, Russell," Harris continued, smiling just slightly, "I support a sentence of natural life."

"Thank you," Sedelmaier said quietly. He later said, "I'm sorry what I did to the Harris family and what I did to my own family. I'm really sorry."
"I really felt in my heart forgiveness," Harris said of her comment to Sedelmaier. "I really know that if God can forgive him, why not me? That's where I am in terms of my faith and my understanding of life." (Chicago Tribune)

Would I be able to do the same as Harris? I just don't know if I would or not - I would like to think so, but I just don't know. I've always thought, though, that we are most like God when we have the grace to forgive.

"I'm killing this afternoon and all day tomorrow."

It's turkey slaughter time, but don't worry - Marshmallow and Yam got their pardon.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, do not forget that the day wasn't made just for eating turkey and pumpkin pie while watching a football game.

For info on the first Thanksgiving, click here.

Abraham Lincoln's proclamation (made while the Civil War was raging, no less) can be viewed here.

Psalm 100
1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
3Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

"My wife thinks I'm nuts and my kids are sleeping."

A man spends hours outside a store in Manhattan, waiting for his chance to purchase an Xbox 360. Apparently, he wasn't the only one.

The much-publicized transition to the next generation of video game consoles began Tuesday morning as stores across the country started selling Microsoft's Xbox 360, the powerful new machine that is already the must-have of the season for hard-core game players. They gathered in the rain in Manhattan, where a Best Buy opened its doors at midnight. They stood in line all night at chain stores like Target. (NY Times)

My nephew Adam waited in line at a Target in St. Joseph, Missouri, and writes about his experience here.

now is a time for mourning

Sam, truly the world's ugliest dog, has passed away at the age of fourteen.

Welcome, SwineBass readers

Yes, you have arrived at the right spot. I'm pleased that you decided to follow the link to come and join me. I am truly honored by your presence and comments, as long as they are civil with no vulgar or offensive language, and I hope you feel at home here. The same kind of posts that you'd find at SwineBass, you will also find here. I know that I'm taking a risk in losing some readers (ok, maybe the one or two non-family members that visit), but I'm willing to do that in order to have a more appropriate blog name. So - relax, sit back, pour yourself a tall glass of skinny milk (or 1% if you absolutely must have some fat in your cow juice), and enjoy some good brownie bites!

In an effort to create a more interesting blog, I've decided to revise the names that I've given my links. The old site featured such intriguing categories as "friends & family bloggers" and "christian bloggers." I've trimmed the fat, so to speak, so the list isn't as extensive as the SwineBass site. I've decided to create some new categories, and I will give a word of explanation for each.

  • Homemade: Blogs produced by friends and family.
  • Fudge: My favorite brownies are intensely fudgy and chocolate-y (with maybe some nuts here or there - walnuts especially), so in honor of that, I've decided to list the blogs I read daily here.
  • Cake: Blogs that I find entertaining - light and fluffy stuff.
  • Chewy: Blogs that really make me think about things.
  • Dense: Blogs that are mostly political or cultural in nature.
  • Ingredients list: Links to news-oriented sites. The vast majority of my material is culled from the media (whether big, small, newspaper or magazine).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

General Motors closings

More bad news from the once-powerhouse company.

My father and brother-in-law both worked for G.M., as a general laborer who retired (Dad) and as an engineer who moved on when he thought the timing was right (bro-in-law Ken). Dad felt such a strong connection that he once dubbed G.M. as "Great Mother, the mother of us all." Because of this, I have strong sympathies for the 30,000 G.M. workers who will now have to look for jobs elsewhere.

The following is a seemingly simplistic, but ultimately truthful, response to the closings:
Mike O'Rourke, president of United Auto Workers Local 1853 in Spring Hill, said GM leaders need to change approaches to be successful. "They need to design cars that sell," O'Rourke said. (ClickOnDetroit)

Monday, November 21, 2005

"It feels like an ancient myth."

Reading this makes me all the more interested in seeing the movie.

Cast and crew members of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have played down the significance of Christian symbolism in their version of CS Lewis's novel. The Narnia books are often viewed as a religious allegory, with Aslan the lion representing Jesus Christ. But director Andrew Adamson said it is "open to the audience to interpret".

"Faith is in the eye of the beholder," added British actress Tilda Swinton, who said the original book was more "spiritual" than religious. "You can make a religious allegory out of anything if that's what you're interested in," she told the BBC News website. (BBC News)

So, the movie's director and one big-name star, Tilda Swinton, are downplaying the Christian aspects of the books. If the movie's script has the section of the book where Aslan talks about Deep Magic and Deeper Magic Before the Dawn of Time, then I would have to say that the movie is more or less Christian in nature. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please take this opportunity to read the book if you haven't already. If you have read the book, then you should know what I mean.