Monthly Archives: August 2006

China and the human organ trade

It’s difficult knowing what to think and/or believe in the Age of Bullshit. For the most part, I don’t believe anything I don’t see for myself. My standard reply when ask what I think about almost any sort of bullshit is “I don’t know. I wasn’t there”.

Unfortunately there’s the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” rule. I don’t necessarily subscribe to it. Sometimes, though, things have that proverbial “ring of truth” to them. The latest goings on in China, as reported by Falon Gong members, are unthinkable, unless of course you consider what we know China is capable of. (Remember Tiananmen Square?) It has the ring requiring a second look, at least from me.

China is said to be harvesting the organs of Falon Gong members and using them in their booming organ transplant business. The “donors” are murdered either during the operations or shortly thereafter. I was a little taken aback when the Chinese were slaughtering dogs recently. But taking people’s organs, not to mention their lives, is just mind boggling, even for an American and survivor, so far, of the second Bush administration.

The mainstream media is largely staying away from this one. It’s evident that giant corporations, and their puppet, the U. S. Government, are all China all the time. All that matters to them is the money, and a billion plus Chinese add up to major money. Maybe that’s why the mainstream media is so quiet. I’m sure they dream of one day opening China up to their advertising. For the most part I find the blogosphere’s sense of self-importance comical to pitiful, but maybe this (exposing China) is a case where it’s actually a useful thing.

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Rebuilding New Orleans?

New Orleans has big problems. If you keep up with the news, you’re doubtlessly aware of their moronic-racist mayor, their rampant criminals, and their monumental struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina. What hasn’t been in the news since the storm, however, is what I find interesting.

Before Katrina, New Orleans was on borrowed time. The wetlands to the south of the city are disappearing at a breath taking rate. The Gulf of Mexico is claiming tens of thousands of acres of Louisiana every year. It’s just a matter of time, and maybe as little as a hundred years, before the sea is actually encroaching on what’s left of New Orleans.

Additionally, New Orleans is sinking at the rate of three feet a century. This is an unintended result of the levies that protect the city. The flooding Mississippi once replenished the silt the city is built upon, but no longer. As the sea continues to claim land south of the city and as the city itself continues to sink, it’s a safe bet that what’s left of New Orleans will be underwater, and probably in the not-to-distant future.

Considering the monumental cost of trying to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, does it make any sense to pour untold billions of federal dollars into a doomed city? Even if it is technically possible to save the city, is it worth the astronomical price?

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Global warming, radical climate change, and mass hysteria

Climate change, radical or otherwise, is one of the many areas outside my area of expertise. Maybe I’ve read 100 articles on the subject, usually under the guise of global warming, in the last 17 years of so, but only a couple of them were in Nature or Scientific American. Is it getting warmer? You can’t prove it by me. Even if it is, proving man is the culprit is quite a stretch, even for people who couldn’t get into the physics graduate programs at whatever schools they attended. There’s no denying it’s awful damn hot right now, but it’s August, and I suspect that’s got a lot to do with it.

The pin-heads that call themselves “climate scientist” insist that it is easier to predict long-term climate trends than say, the weather. Maybe, but that doesn’t make much sense to this layman. Hurricane geeks originally predicted we’d get x number of named storms this year, where x is an integer > 0. A few weeks later the predicted number changed to x – y, where y is an integer < x but > 0. To me, it seems since the “climate scientist” like to cite more and more-powerful hurricanes as evidence in their crusade for grant money, their inability to forecast hurricanes even a few weeks out is in fact indicative of their lack of ability to see into the relatively long-term future. Sister Rose the Gypsy fortune teller probably has at least as good a shot at foretelling what will be.

Michael Crichton isn’t my favorite author. His prose is painful and subject matter too silly for my taste. Nevertheless, he was making the rounds last year promoting his novel, State of Fear, and I caught a couple of his talks on cable. Crichton may be a lot of things, but a dumb-ass isn’t one of them. The big guy has a big ole brain in his head, and it’s equipped with a first-rate cerebral cortex. In a word, Crichton says that the hoopla over global warming is bullshit. (My word, not his). His talks, where he makes use of actual evidence, as opposed to the anecdotal variety, went a long way toward convincing me to find something other than radical, or rapid climate change to worry about. Pick up State of Fear. Like all his books, it’s a painful process to read it. Just skip to the notes in the back. If you’re not a true believer, you’ll almost certainly come away a doubting Thomas. And remember, Crichton sure as hell doesn’t need grant money, and he’s not trying to push an ideological agenda by scaring the shit out of the simple!

Al Gore is pretty much the opposite of Michael Crichhton. Gore is so stupid that he actually managed to loose an election that he won! He’s a walking, talking brain stem with the ability to tell lies, and to tell them badly, and that’s one of his better qualities. Gore says it’s getting warmer. That’s good enough for me. It’s not getting warmer. We’re on a greased rail to hell but we’ll almost certainly kill ourselves off in a more direct manner than ruining our habitat.

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Democrats as tough guys?

Yesterday evening I screwed up and sat down with my remote out of arm’s reach. As a result, I wound up watching the CBS Evening News. From the commercials I learned a lot about the drugs I’ll be taking, if I live much longer, and somehow find fools to pay for them. And I realized with all the certainty of death that the Democrats will fail to reclaim the White House in 2006.

CBS did a piece on “security moms”. I guess those are moms between the ages of 20 and 50 who have had at least a modicum of success playing in the cannibalistic system. Apparently their votes are seen as some sort of block by the political people. Polls indicate that Americans are scared of terrorist and the current administration has largely lost people’s confidence. To hear the correspondent tell it, the Republicans are in danger of losing the security moms to the Democrats. Maybe, but the danger is minimal.

The Democrats supplied a strategist to comment on their chances of wooing the security moms. Instead of sending out the Brad Pitt-John Wayne hybrid they are bound to have somewhere, they went with the effeminate model! I don’t recall the guy’s name. There was no missing, however, that he was probably a sissy and almost certainly gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But when you’re talking about trying to appear tough, and everybody already knows you’re not, why go with the girly-man? Perhaps in the Democratic party principles trump personalities, and physiques. Nevertheless, if they want to win they need to remember they are up against the nastiest, fear and hatemongeringest political machine in the history of the world; the Republican party!

It goes without saying that the “big tent” houses a freak show. A few of the freaks have broad appeal. Most are just plain noisome and do more good for the Republicans, just by rearing their ugly heads, than all the ridiculous right-wingers combined. Until hideous freak becomes chic, the Democrats will flounder.

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Medicare cheating granny?

My grandmother is 91 years old. Like a lot of 91 year olds, and I realize there aren’t a lot them, she’s more prone to physical affliction than most sub-91 years olds. She has good days and bad days. Her good days aren’t as good and her bad days are worse than those of the majority of younger folks. It’s the price she pays for having endured for so long.

Back in May she was doing pretty good. Unfortunately she was working out in her yard more than she should have been, and broke a vertebrate in her back. She doesn’t know exactly how she did it. I don’t think it’s particularly difficult for anybody to hurt their back anytime. When you’re ancient, it’s all the easier.

Anyway, after a few weeks she had an operation. She says that the surgeon injected some sort of “cement” into the broken vertebrate. The results were amazing. She was much better in a matter of days and had recovered all but her strength within a month. There’s a lot to be said for modern medicine, and some of it is good.

The tab on the operation ran to about $5,000 dollars. I’m not exactly sure of the breakdown. She was in the hospital for several days, so I’m sure the total bill was many times that. At any rate, the actual procedure, performed by the specialist/surgeon, was about five grand. A bargain, at any price, as anyone whose ever been in any sort of severe pain will surely attest.

Medicare, I thought, would pick up the bill for the operation with no questions asked. Unfortunately that’s not been the case, at least not so far. In fact, Medicare is refusing to pay for it! They’ve paid for other medical procedures she’s had over the years. Why would they balk, even for an instant, at paying for an operation that almost certainly saved her life?

The matter hasn’t been resolved yet. Maybe refusing to pay initially is a ploy by the government to cheat people out of what’s coming to them. The U. S. government is pretty lowdown. I’m having trouble believing it’s low enough to actually not cover what is bound to be a standard surgical procedure on a 91 year old citizen. We’ll know soon enough.

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My big baby

My best friend is an eight year old basset hound. In a little while, we’ll be visiting her dermatologist because of her ongoing skin problems. The tab will run from somewhere between $75 and $750 dollars, depending on what he has to do, and whether I get any prescribed meds from him, or from some other source. She’s an expensive pet. She’s provided me with years of companionship and I’m hoping she’s good for many more. She’s worth every penny and then some.

I guess I’m something of an animal lover. If animal flesh didn’t taste like meat, I probably wouldn’t eat it. I don’t particularly like the idea of research being performed on animals, but I don’t know enough about it to have a firm opinion, and I like it that way. If people want to wear fur, it’s none of my business, sort of like if they want to abort their babies. I’ve got enough to worry about with my basset, my mutt, my blog, and my addiction to DirecTV.

The Chinese recently were busy bashing the brains out of dogs in one of their god-forsaken provinces. It seems they’re in the midst of a rabies epidemic over there. I found the bashing distasteful, but less so than the thought of being mauled by a rabid dog. Apparently China is still very much a third world country, and things like pet vaccinations are as rare there as here in South Alabama. It’s unfortunate that people who aren’t up to the task insist on having pets, and children, but that’s none of my business. You have to pick your battles. Why pick fights you can’t win?

The great Chinese dog massacre flipped the animal rights people out. The SPCA even offered to send them a million dollars to stop the carnage. I thought that was nice. Maybe the Chinese can use the money to upgrade the abortion clinics where millions of unborn kids are cancelled yearly. Or not. It’s none of my business. I’m not taking it on.

The allergic basset, however, is my business. So I’ll fork over a nice chunk of change in an effort to make her as comfortable as possible. I’ll give her her multi-part baths. I’ll give her her pills and shots. I’ll feed her the expensive hypo-allergenic food she needs and loves. I’m lucky I get to do it, and I know it. This day in this life is enough for me to contend with without worrying about how someone else is handling their own battle with their own bullshit.

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ESPN

There are a lot of good things about living in the Age of B. S., and the hype surrounding college football is one of the best. College football has always been one of my favorite things. It’s also one of the few that made the transition with me from my phase of persistent inebriation, to the one I live in now, which is relative sobriety. Unlike screaming electric guitars and sex with strangers, college football is palatable even without mass quantities of psychoactive chemicals. In truth, the hype is probably the best part.

ESPN figures prominently in my DirecTV package. I think there are close to 100 channels included with the basic option, and of those probably 10 are worth watching occasionally. Of those 10, at least three are ESPN related. I guess filling all those hours with programming is tricky, especially when there’s nothing going on sports-wise. Anyway, this morning, the lucky jokers who work at ESPN were discussing, in all seriousness, a football game that’s not taking place until sometime in October. That game, between Auburn and Florida, figures to be pivotal, or so the boys at ESPN think, for the 2006 season. Playing an imaginary version months before is sort of like a form of fantasy football.

The discussion was interesting, if for no other reason, than that it focused on the programs that are the most under-rated (Auburn) and most over-rated (Florida) in today’s game. I was mesmerized as they pontificated on the finer points of the game and its likely outcome. In reality there’s no telling if either team will even have 11 healthy players at that point in the season. Both teams have to play, among others, L.S.U., before their head to head. That the ESPNers would prattle about something that is as of yet so filled with uncertainties, and that I would listen, is indicative of the Age of Bullshit.

Like I said, bullshit ain’t all bad.

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