Posted in Current Events, Issues, WTF?

Come Tweet About Me

Saturday morning. My weekend commences. Had to make myself a list this morning of the many destabilizing actions of President Trump on all fronts – domestically, internationally, psychologically, environmentally. Slice it anyway you like. Make your own Venn diagrams.

The purpose of my list was to get it out of my head and down on paper so I can focus on something besides the national nightmare that is the Trump presidency. I mean, we all need a break from time to time, and I have a big writing project in the hopper. It was also to take a comprehensive look at how Trump’s actions undermine U.S. democracy and serve Vladimir Putin.

Writing in the NY Times (October 11, 2019), Jennifer Senior quotes Brian Baird on the Republicans, “They live in fear that the narcissist will turn on them.” Senior continues: “So they try to manage the unmanageable. They keep two sets of books, function with two different brains, and buy in – at least partly – to Trump’s grandiose message: You’d be worthless without me.”

The Republicans won’t/don’t stand up to Trump. Meanwhile, everything Trump does serves Putin. Russia is winning bigly.

Bret Stephens (NY Times, October 11, 2019) lays out possible scenarios resulting from Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria:

It will put thousands of Kurdish lives in jeopardy. It will deepen Tehran’s influence in Syria. It will increase the likelihood of an all-out war between Israel and Iran. It will underscore the inefficacy of U.S. sanctions to curb Tehran’s ambitions. It will ratify the wisdom of Vladimir Putin’s decision to intervene on Assad’s behalf. It will strengthen Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hand, not only in northern Syria but also in Turkish politics, just as he was finally beginning to experience serious reversals.

And it will fundamentally jeopardize the gains made against the Islamic State, around 10,000 of whose fighters are in the custody of the Kurdish forces who are now being attacked…

It also increases the likelihood that Turkey will tell the U.S. to take our fighter jets, nukes, and other goodies and get out. Germany already got out of Turkey and moved to Jordan. Let’s not forget Trump’s many anti-Nato statements.

When I think about the geopolitical and environmental destruction being foisted on the U.S. and the world by the Trump administration, I doubt (but keep hoping) that Republicans will make their way to the Land of Oz and find their brains, their hearts, and their courage. This is about not overturning the results of the 2016 election. It is a rational response to the psychic trauma and international tragedy of the Trump presidency.


What Trump Sees on the Men’s Room Door:

What Trump Sees When He Looks at the Bathroom Door

Posted in Current Events, Grindstone, Issues

Too Much, Not Enough

You’d think that with the 24 hours news cycle and blah blah blah, we’d be hearing more about the nice folks in Wisconsin who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.  My local papers seem to have a lot more about Libya than Madison.

Here’s where to go for info: The Daily Page (dot com).

Here’s a nice encapsulation of the hubbub from Salon:

Union leaders have agreed to pay more for their benefits, which equates to an 8 percent pay cut, as Walker has proposed as long as they can retain their bargaining rights. Walker has refused to compromise, although he said last week that he was negotiating some changes with Democrats.

For those of you like me who never thought the American public would break away from the couch and the remote control to do something like this, well, this is pretty cool stuff.  Here’s a link to Huff Po’s The Best Wisconsin Protest Signs.

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Happy Spring, everyone.

Posted in Issues, Science, Self Care, Tech

An Advert: SonoCine

We now move to the medical arts, where things quite simply aren’t as they should be.

Dr. George Papanicolaou first presented his findings that cancerous cells could be found in a vaginal smear in 1928. Despite the efforts of the American Cancer Society to promote the use of Dr. Pap’s screening tool, it took until the mid 1960’s for the test to become part of a routine check-up.

I recently went for a routine mammogram.  The results came back with phrases like: “questionable central nodularity right cc view and axillary portion left breast MLO view.”  Since my previous mammogram results were not available to this radiologist, he suggested “spot compression views and ultrasound if necessary” for further evaluation.  My nurse practitioner called me to follow up.  I told her that I wasn’t coming back for spot compression, but that I was going for SonoCine screening.  (Here’s their website.)  She hadn’t heard of SonoCine, but agreed that more radiation probably wasn’t a good thing.

SonoCiné is an automated breast ultrasound system that has been cleared by FDA as an adjunctive examination to mammography. It is a complimentary examination and not a replacement for mammography.

Early studies indicate that, when used as an adjunct to mammography, SonoCiné may find smaller cancers than may not be found by mammography alone.

SonoCine isn’t covered by health insurance plans.  As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been embraced by the medical community on the scale that it deserves to be.  So, dear consumer, it is up to you to be informed and make some noise about this.

I don’t have breast cancer.  I do have a couple of fibroadnomas.  You can read about what they are over here.

For those of you who have had breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer in your family, I recommend SonoCine.  For those of you who have ‘dense breasts’ – I recommend SonoCine.

To the medical community: It’s time you embrace a tool that works.  To the insurance companies:  Do the right thing.  Besides, this might save you some money.

SoCal folks, you can get your SonoCine at the Hall Health and Longevity Center in Venice.  (Here’s their site.)

YouTube video here.

Special thanks to Nancy, whose cancer was found by SonoCine early.  Thanks for hoisting and waving the SonoCine flag.

Posted in Around Town, Issues

Getting Old(er)

“As we get older and more experienced, we overestimate the accuracy of our judgments, especially when the task is difficult and when we’re involved with something of great personal importance.”

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Cocksure: Banks, battles, and the psychology of overconfidence. The New Yorker 27 July 2009: 26.

Gladwell comes to this conclusion based (among other things) on the research of Ellen Langer, a psychologist who says, regarding competition, “…because ability makes a difference in competitions of skill, we make the mistake of thinking that it must also make a difference in competitions of pure chance.”  This results in overconfidence.

“In conflicts involving mutual assessment, an exaggerated assessment of the probability of winning increases the probability of winning,” Richard Wrangham, a biological anthropolgist at Harvard, writes.  “Selection therefore favors this form of overconfidence.”  Winners know how to bluff.  And who bluffs the best?  The person who, instead of pretending to be stronger than he is, actually believes himself to be stronger than he is.”

We’re good so far, right?  Here’s where the analogy to the Pasadena blogosphere breaks down.

“According to Wrangham, self-deception reduces the chances of “behavioral leakage”; that is, of “inadvertently revealing the truth through an inappropriate behavior.”

* * * * *

It seems like overconfidence is helpful…up to a point.  One needs overconfidence tempered with knowing what one’s limits are.  My dad has been a master of overconfidence his whole life.  In first grade he didn’t want to go back into the classroom after recess, so while marching in the line of children heading back inside, he didn’t make the left turn with the rest of the class but kept marching straight on in the direction of home.  As a 20-something, he convinced the Library of Congress that he had a reasonable knowledge of modern foreign languages and got a job filing foreign-language periodicals.  In truth, even though he had no mastery of any foreign language, it was easy enough to tell the French from the Dutch from the Swedish, etc., so he had no problem doing the job.  It was filing, for gawshsakes.  At least the task of deciphering one language from another added a bit of interest to the job.

Flush with confidence from a string of jobs (journalist-photographer in the Air Force, Evelyn Woods speed reading instructor, teacher at Massanutten Military Academy), he got a naval commission and was sent to Viet-Nam.  He went on to a civil service career in public relations, high school counseling, army recruiting — endeavours that require one to exude confidence.

Pop at Dodger Stadium

My dad and me at Dodger Stadium, 2008.

As a kid in western Pennsylvania, my dad moved a lot (Franklin, Guys Mills, Meadville, Zelienople…Okay, I’m not sure about Zelienople, but I threw it in because it’s such a great place name).  As an adult, my dad has moved a lot.  My dad has lived in Hollywood since 2002, which means he has not lately been moving a lot, and he is ready to move.  He has been applying for civil service jobs overseas, but with his hearing in bad shape and his memory getting worse, it is unlikely he could either be hired or handle a full-time job.

I recently had to talk him out of moving to Las Vegas, an idea prompted by tax problems with the State of California.  (He doesn’t understand, as a government retiree, why the government should take money out of his retirement.)  Able to minimize the wretched Vegas heat from the comfort of his top-floor Hollywood apartment, he was attracted by the lower cost of living.  He probably also wanted to continue his streak: “I’ve never lost in Vegas,” he avers.

Plans for Vegas have now been shelved, but my dad continues to exhibit, between episodes of JAG and Perry Mason, a desire to move.  At the same time, he does tell me about his failing memory.  “I have no secrets,” he’s always said.  He gets mad at me when I don’t respond to his e-mails, he’s crotchety when I call in lieu of e-mailing, and the other day he got mad at me for using the word “palindrome.”  Despite all this, my fingers are crossed that he will continue to have lucid moments of honesty when he tells me about his failing mental state.

Pop's Confidence

Confident in Covent Garden, London, 2008.

I’d love to hear about how it’s going with you and your aging parents.  Feel free to comment, or leave links in the comments.

Posted in Around Town, Issues, Not Your Momma's NW Pasadena, Pasadena

Fussing and Fighting, My Friend

This is the post you’ve been waiting for.

boxinggloveshanging

I have bad news. We are all racists.

I know, I know. You don’t want to be a racist (I don’t either). You think it is despicable to demean the humanity of another person, or to think of an entire group of people as inferior. Or perhaps you are a member of a group that has been victimized by another group, and you carry hate inside you, even though you don’t want to. Continue reading “Fussing and Fighting, My Friend”