Friday, January 25, 2008

A Keen Observation

What America has never dealt with is this strange and corrupting arrangement whereby voters are being asked to support two-people-as-one as president. The last two weeks have shown beyond any doubt that this is indeed what is going on. By blurring the lines of accountability, by giving a former president vague but enormous powers in what amounts to an unconstitutional third term, we are sacrificing an important democratic principle and the transparency required to stymie corruption and secret deals kept from public scrutiny by the sacred bonds of matrimony.

There is no reason a constitutional republic should be forced to sacrifice its principles this way. This basic issue of accountability needs to be placed firmly on the table. One option for Barack Obama is to demand now that all the records of the Clintons' marital/political dealings with each other in their first two terms be released in full for public inspection.

Daily Dish

Posted this Morning on Think Progress

Exxon set to hit record profits.With a flailing U.S. economy and skyrocketing oil prices, Exxon Mobil is “within striking distance of setting an all-time profit record - again.” The company is expected to earn $39.2 billion for 2007, “which breaks down to the company earning about $75,000 a minute.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Made Me Smile

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Herm Albright

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold Temperature, Hot Reporter

The thermometer might have shown low temperatures for Columbia, SC but an AP reporter got hot under the collar with aspiring prevaricator-in-chief Mitt Romney.

One More Thing to Celebrate

I'm on the verge of completing something I haven't done in the three years since my MS diagnosis. I've worked 12 days straight before breaking for an Avonex injection and recovery day.

I'm an idiot, right? Probably. But consider why I think my idiocy may be something to celebrate.

My schedule over these last 12 days has been just packed as it used to be...four worship services, five meetings (one out of town), six rehearsals, two funerals, acquisition, installation and setup of a new server for our church computer network, to name the high points...as stupid as that schedule might have been even back then. I've been working like I used to and I HAVE NOT CRASHED!!

One of the most common symptoms encountered by people with MS is fatigue. I believe it's a symptom that is often misunderstood by both a patient and an observer.

Everyone knows what it is to be tired, exhausted, worn out, run down and used up. The "cure" for the problem is rest, of course; sometimes a little rest, sometimes a lot of rest. But, generally speaking, for the healthy person, quality rest proportional to the level of exertion will be sufficiently restorative.

For the person with MS, fatigue can sometimes require resting for a length of time that seems DISPROPORTIONATE to the apparent level of exertion. This reality assaults a sense of fairness common to everyone - persons with MS and healthy people. The person newly diagnosed with MS wonders why a normal amount of rest sometimes just isn’t enough. A healthy person might look at someone encountering MS related fatigue and easily believe, hopefully out of ignorance, that the person is a sluggard and trying to get out of work. One says, “This is not fair! I want to feel stronger and get back to work!” The other says, “This is not fair! Get off your lazy a** and get back to work!”

An article in the Fall, 1983 edition of Inside MS states that people with MS become easy prey to phrases like, "It's psychological", "It's mental", and "You're just overreacting". "I get so tired of hearing people say I know you have MS but you look great", one person commented. "They just don't understand".

The article goes on:

What makes fatigue so special in multiple sclerosis? Dr. Robert M. Herndon, Director of the Center for Brain Research at the University of Rochester, N.Y. and the MS Clinic there says there are four main sources of fatigue in people with MS.

Demyelinated nerve fibers appear to use much more energy conducting nerve impulses than normal fibers and as a result they fatigue with use, causing increased weakness and poor coordination.

Weakened muscles put an extra workload on stronger muscles, causing them to fatigue more rapidly.

Depression and frustration at having a chronic disease such as MS can result in fatigue.

People with MS also experience normal muscle fatigue like anyone else but because of all of the energy sapped by their disease this normal fatigue is more common and occurs more quickly.

Dr. Davis clarifies fatigue in people with MS even further by maintaining that fatigue "can either be based in the muscles or the central nervous system and it doesn't take much to fatigue the central nervous system."

"Not only do people with MS look well, they feel well until they begin a certain activity. They function beautifully for a while and then all at once they have to stop because the nerve impulses just aren't getting through. "It's like a motor - it can be a very powerful motor but if you can't get the electricity to the spark plugs, the machine won't run."

Dr. Davis says some of his own MS patients have described their nerve fiber fatigue as similar to dreams in which the dreamer is being chased but somehow can't make his legs move.

Been there, done that, as the t-shirt says. But not the last 12 days! Hallelujah!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two Eulogies

January 10 saw the near simultaneous passing of two of our older church members and I was given the privilege of delivering their eulogies. His funeral was on Saturday. Her funeral was today. He was born in 1911 and she was born in 1918. He was physically feeble and had to move about 100 miles away to live with his son a couple of years ago. She was cognitively feeble and living in the alzheimers wing of a local facility.

Each were married and had families in the depression years. When our country entered World War II each found ways to serve in the war effort.

He entered the armed forces in 1943 as a 32 year old husband and father to train in Florida and be deployed to the Phillipines to prepare for the coming invasion of the Japanese homeland. His unit was slated to be part of the diversionary amphibious attack out of the Sea of Japan on the western coast of the country. They were preparing this army to accept massive casualties ... beyond imagination casualties ... in an effort to distract the Japanese forces from the primary assault elsewhere. He suffered burns from a fuel explosion and spent time in a large quonset "hospital" with 100 other injured and sick men who were being tended by one physician and two nurses. They used maggots to debreed his wounds. He healed some and was kept in theatre because they needed every man possible for the invasion. He credited Harry Truman with saving his life by dropping the atomic bomb.

She began what would turn out to be a lifetime of volunteer work. She and her children would tour the streets of town collecting scrap metal ... everything from old kitchen pots to bobby pins. She also rolled bandages at the local hospital throughout the war. That volunteer work at the hospital turned into 50 years of service there as a charter member of the hospital's auxiliary ... the pink ladies ... again touring about but this time in a hospital seeing to the needs of others.

The two eulogies have impressed on me more now than ever before that there once existed something that was the antithesis of the "Me Generation." Would to God that someday their legacy would be reborn.

A Chilling Report

From the Marine Corps Times:

If the U.S. were to face a new conventional threat, its military could not respond effectively without turning to air power, officials and analysts say.

That is the ultimate upshot of the war in Iraq: a response elsewhere would consist largely of U.S. fighters and bombers — even, perhaps, some degree of nuclear strike — because so many ground troops are tied up in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Iraq is sort of sucking all the oxygen out of the room,” said Tammy Schultz, who studies ground forces for the Center for a New American Security, a relatively new Washington think tank dedicated to “strong, pragmatic and principled” security and defense policies.

“My huge fear is that ... we’re really putting the nation at risk,” Schultz said. “It could reach absolutely tragic levels if the United States has to respond to a major contingency any time in the near future.”

The Army is bearing the brunt of the fight, and senior leaders readily acknowledge that. “We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other contingencies,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Nov. 15.


H.T.: Think Progress

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Psalm 90:10

The days of our lives add up to seventy years, or eighty, if one is especially strong. But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression. Yes,they pass quickly and we fly away.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Thoughtful Man Once Observed...

If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.
Alfred North Whitehead English mathematician & philosopher (1861 - 1947)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Requiem aeternam...

Andrew Olmsted was a U.S. soldier who occasionally posted at Obsidian Wings as G’Kar. He was killed yesterday in Iraq. Andrew (who I didn’t know personally) had written a piece with the specific intention of having it posted only in the event of his death. It was posted today by hilzoy.

Sometimes going to war is the right idea. I think we've drawn that line too far in the direction of war rather than peace, but I'm a soldier and I know that sometimes you have to fight if you're to hold onto what you hold dear. But in making that decision, I believe we understate the costs of war; when we make the decision to fight, we make the decision to kill, and that means lives and families destroyed. Mine now falls into that category; the next time the question of war or peace comes up, if you knew me at least you can understand a bit more just what it is you're deciding to do, and whether or not those costs are worth it.

HT: Sean at Cosmic Variance

If This Don't Ring Your Bell...

...your clapper's broke.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

In case you need ANOTHER reason to vote AGAINST Giuliani

The AP reports:
Would a Rudy Giuliani administration be populated with a Cabinet of Republican rivals and a powerful, all-knowing vice president like Dick Cheney? Possibly, according to musings Giuliani shared in answers to questions from New Hampshire voters yesterday in Hooksett.

Giuliani pivoted from a question about potential picks for secretary of state to this: “Let me answer with the question of what you would look for in a vice president first - again without any presumption that I’m going to be the nominee.”

In an answer that mentioned Cheney more than once, Giuliani said, “A vice president has to be a partner in the administration. The vice president has to know everything that’s going on, just in case the vice president has to step in at a moment’s notice,” he said. He added that during a conversation with Cheney on Sept. 11, 2001, he felt the vice president “had a sense that he knew what he was doing.”

HT: Think Progress

525,600 Minutes

How do you measure a year?