Sunday, April 26, 2009

Many countries are in a state of alert for a potential pandemic of the swine flu. Cultural differences, nuclear arms, drug wars, views on global warming and the pending collapse of the world’s economy are all put aside over what to do about the flu. Democrats and Republicans are even agreeing. Cases of the flu have been reported in several counties and there have been reported cases in Texas and a couple of other states. Everyone is set to impose quarantine orders and restrictions on travel. Mexico City has canceled all public events and even closed the churches today. It’s amazing how the flu gets everyone’s attention in Mexico and the country comes to a standstill but in a few days, when the flu has passed, the drug wars will resume.

It will take several months before a vaccine will be developed and in the meantime all we can do is quarantine folks and avoid human contact in large crowds. We need to cover our nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and be sure and wash our hands frequently.

In the old science fiction movie classic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” the good alien, who had come from outer space to warn us to behave, got our attention by turning off the power. The flu is now getting our attention. Maybe the flu epidemic is not all bad. Maybe we could get several planeloads of flu victims and take them to Iran and North Korea and threaten to turn them loose if they don’t destroy their nuclear weapons. Who knows, the flu might even scare Osama bin Laden out of the caves.

I hope the world can ride this one out. At least, it’s got us cooperating with each other for a few days. Even China is willing to listen. Of course, we will never get the attention of the Muslim world. The flu has been sent by Allah to destroy the infidels and Muslims are immune. The Muslim women are protected because they have their face covered when out in public.

In the meantime, I’m playing it safe on the porch. I’m not going to permit any swine into the house and I have little human contact. I only wish there was a deer flu that was confined to the deer population.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Times are definitely changing. This week the law has now made it okay for 17-year-old girls to purchase the morning after contraceptive pill. It was also reported that a large percentage of 13 and 14 year old girls send nude photos of themselves over the internet to their boyfriends. Recently, President Obama had a sign covered that made reference to Jesus that was located behind the podium where he was speaking. Reports indicate that church attendance has dropped in all denominations. I hate to sound like a preacher, but we are becoming a secular and immoral nation. I don’t know where this will all lead but it will be interesting to see what a Godless Society may hold for my grandkids. The one advantage of getting old is that I won’t be around to see what happens.

It’s hard to imagine what things will like 50 years from now. Maybe kids will be going to school nude and beds will be available for them to copulate. Violence in the movies has already reached a fever pitch and maybe they will just have live action shoot-outs and wrecks on the street for everyone to view first hand. Movies will probably be all porno and new movie houses may occupy the old empty churches. Same sex marriage will be commonplace and marriage between humans and animals may be in vogue. Narcotics will be legalized and may likely be purchased over the counter along with Viagra and steroids. All kinds of new enhancement drugs will probably be available.

New medical specialties will develop like a transgender specialist and a specialty for body enhancement. Mental health services will be in great demand to help people figure out who and what they are and who or what they should marry. Marriage may not even be an institution.

I’m pretty sure that books will be eliminated. The written word will all be through text messaging. Electronic gaming will probably replace human conversation so the primary contact with others will be purely for sexual gratification.

I realize that every older generation criticizes the young and harps on the degeneration of our youth. Turns out they have been right all these years. We are degenerating. It’s like the current economic situation where we are wondering when things are going to bottom out. It seems like we are getting pretty close to the bottom.

No doubt about it. I’m getting old and cantankerous. I’m just glad to stay confined to the porch. National Geographic remains my main porno magazine and I am happy to watch an occasional rerun of a Billy Graham Revival. I don’t trust any other TV Evangelist and everything else on TV is a reflection of our decadent society.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mayo Clinic and Microsoft are teaming up to allow folks to put their medical record on line into a huge electronic medical database. This means that my medical information can follow me around from one doctor to another and the physician will have ready access to all my previous medical information. Hopefully, this will improve communication and provide precise medical data to physicians. It may even prevent duplication of unnecessary testing and save dollars for the healthcare system. I have found that doctors don’t always care about communicating with other doctors and this readily available electronic medical record will further eliminate the need for the doctor to communicate to his colleagues. Doctors don’t even like to communicate with their patients, so this will make them more happy.

The only down side to the electronic medical record is the vulnerability to security. It may be accessible to all the teenage hackers in the country who can sell the information to interested parties like lawyers, insurance companies, employers and a host of others who might profit from knowing about your ill health. A spouse may even pay to see if their partner has been treated for a venereal disease or the like. There is a lot of medical information on the internet and some is great but much is misleading and wrong. There is always the possibility of an error in the medical record that could be amplified in the widely available medical record. Mark Twain warned of reading about medical treatments because you could die of a misprint.

This national electronic record database is also a great step in national healthcare. When we have national health insurance for everyone this will make the record universal and the ideal means of keeping records on all of our citizens. Big brother will indeed be watching us. It will be easier to find out if folks are taking drugs to enhance their muscles or medicines to improve their sexual performance.

All this will be fun reading for the hacker. They can just go on line and find out how bad Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer is and what treatment he is receiving. We can find out about Elizabeth Taylor’s latest operation and Dolly Parton’s latest plastic surgery procedure. All this information may put the National Enquirer out of business.

Since I’m confined to the porch, and no longer working, I won’t be privileged to have ready access to all this juicy information. I may get my teenage grandkids to teach me how to hack into some of this stuff so I can keep up with my favorite movies stars, friends, relatives and others I want to be nosy about.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Former President Jack Kennedy must be turning over in his grave from the recent actions of President Barack Obama regarding Cuba. President Obama was recently at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad where he met with Latin American leaders. He gave a big handshake to Venezuelan President (Dictator) Hugo Chavez. He announced that he is willing to have a new beginning with Cuba and Fidel’s brother Raul is delighted. Raul said, “he is now ready to discuss anything with Washington.” We have also made recent overtures to Iran about discussions and new beginnings.

We now seem to be coddling up to the communist, madmen and dictators of the world. Those folks are now much more willing to accept us because we are becoming like them. Our recent actions of bailouts along with the government take over of banks and the auto industry have moved us to a more socialist state. Our president is even able to fire the CEOs of some of these companies. Medicine is now on the chopping block for government take over.

Maybe all these actions are absolutely necessary for our survival. Our country has become so large and heterogeneous that capitalism may not work particularly since there are so many greedy folks on Wall Street and running our large companies. It’s time for us all to adopt the current standard of living in Cuba, Iran and North Korea. It’s time for us to stop providing aid to so many third world companies and be getting some of their help for our survival. We need to go ahead and give our supply of fissionable nuclear material to Iran and North Korea and save them the trouble and expense. With our new state of affairs we really don’t
need any nuclear material.

Chevez even gave President Obama a copy of his favorite book, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Generations of the Pillage of a Continent.” The book is a favorite of leftist and is about how foreign interest have dominated and afflicted Latin America. I only wish Obama had given Chevez a copy of the Bible, which is a book about how foreign interest and a Jew from the Middle East help dominate and shape our culture.

Maybe the new open relationship with Cuba won’t be all bad. I have always wanted to go there to see Hemingway’s home. He is one of my favorites authors and I understand that Castro has preserved his home. The problem is that with the new order of things I probably won’t have the money to make the trip. Oh well, I ‘ll just have to be content with again reading “A Farewell to Arms” on the porch after I have read a chapter in the book I wish Obama had given Chevez.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

During the past couple of days I have been trying to make reservations in a hotel in a moderately large city near an event we wish to attend. This is a difficult and frustrating task. There are multiple choices and a wide range of prices even within the same hotel. The person making the reservation for the potential customer is never in the same city where the hotel is located. This service is outsourced to someone thousands of miles away. The cost of a room may vary by many dollars within a matter of minutes. There are convention and entertainment rates and different rates for various groups like AAA, AARP etc. There are multiple hidden costs like parking and the outrageous taxes for the hotel leaved by the state, city and everyone else in between.

The choices for a place to sleep are mind-boggling. There are multiple chains in the business but most seem to have either Hilton or Marriott as a parent company. The high-rise places have the heftiest prices and the most services. Even the most run down places have wireless internet, and a free breakfast. The big hotels of course have parking that cost as much per night as my monthly car payments in years past. They all have great TVs, with program menus that tell you about the hotel and a choice of current hit movies, on-line, for a generous viewing fee. Most have microwaves. refrigerators and all the toilet articles imaginable, including various soaps, shampoos, body lotions and mouthwashes. All have hair dryers and irons, safes, bottled water, and coffee makes with a supply of coffee. The more expensive hotels provide you with a paper in the morning and a piece of candy on your pillow before retiring. They have workout rooms, swimming pools, business centers, meeting rooms, gift shops, and concierge to help plan your day. In addition to the many expenses associated with the actual bill there are tips, tips and more tips. All this is great and even though expensive it cost far less than spending a night in the hospital.

Today’s hotel experience is in great contrast to when I was a kid. The only time I stayed in a hotel when I was young was during a great trip that I took with my dad and a high school friend. We took a two-week driving trip to tour the Western United States. We saw all the sites in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. We never made a reservation in those days and just pulled up to a motel with an AAA sign and checked in. There were none of the amenities mentioned above. It was just a place to sleep but we had the time of our life and it remains one of my most memorable trips. The lodging for the entire trip, plus the gasoline, probably cost less than one night in a hotel today.

As I write this I am on my front porch enjoying the breeze and looking out on the beautiful canopy of oaks that cover our yard. It’s simply more beautiful that any of those hotels where I have stayed in the past, including Hawaii. My spouse just brought me a coke and sat in the rocker next to mine where we talked for over an hour about pleasant things, like friends we have known and loved. Many of those folks are long gone from the planet but if they are fortunate enough to be in heaven it couldn’t be a lot better than the porch. And just think, I didn’t have to make a reservation for my perfect spot on the porch, which is far better than the most grand hotel on the planet.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

KWTX TV hit rock bottom yesterday in their news coverage. Five Mexican guys were staying in a motel in Waco. They may have been illegal aliens, but that was not reported. Can you imagine all those guys staying in the same room. It must have been pretty gross. Anyway, they were eating and one started passing gas. This apparently hacked one of the other guys off and he pulled a knife and assaulted the bloated gas passer. I can’t say that I blame him. Shooing would have been more appropriate.

911 was called because of the stabbing and the bloated guy was taken to the hospital where his injuries were found to be non-life threatening. The poor guy who did the attacking was arrested and jailed.

KWTX must have been desperate to report a story like this. They probably have their news truck with an investigative journalist out looking for a belcher. The belcher and gas passer would make great cell-mates and it would be great to put them in the same cell with Bernie Madoff.

KWTX runs a segment in the evenings called Emily Wants to Know. She is always checking out unusual things. This would make a great follow-up story for Emily. Why do some people develop a lot of gas and why are some so gross they have to pass it while others are eating? She could also explore the techniques in passing gas and why some folks are silent while others sound like a jet breaking the sound barrier.

Maybe all this is great reporting to take our minds off the worlds problems. It sure beats hearing about the economy and Iraq. I have a colostomy, so no gas passing is allowed on the porch. The gas from an ostomy bag is a lethal weapon.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Lately, my spouse and I have been on a Bryan Burrough reading kick. Burrough is a local author who was in high school with my kids. He has become a well know author. His books, Barbarians at the Gate, Public Enemies and The Big Rich have all been best sellers. I am reading Public Enemies, which is about the crime wave in the early 1930s and the origin of the FBI.

The characters in Public Enemies are John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde and the Ma Barker Gang. A movie is being made from the book and will be released in June with Johnny Deep playing John Dillinger. It should be a hit. These guys were dangerous and it’s a little scary reading about them. Most of them were absolutely psychotic and would just as soon shoot you as look at you. Baby Face Nelson and Clyde Barrow were probably the most crazy of the bunch. All of them were spawned by the Great Depression. John Dillinger made his fame by robbing banks and for a while was viewed as a hero by the public because he was robbing from those who had caused the depression. He was viewed as a Robin Hood, although he was never know to give his loot to the poor.

All these gangs were involved in criminal activities such as robbing banks and kidnapping. These were the most lucrative ventures. Clyde Barrow mainly robbed service stations and small businesses although he did hit a few banks and killed about a dozen people in the process. I was in school with a cousin of Clyde Barrow and I thought it was great to just know someone that famous and cool.

It’s a little scary reading about these gangs. In the early thirties the law enforcement people were real bunglers and the robbers always got away. The FBI was formed and finally gained enough expertise and authority to track the gangsters down and end the crime wave by 1934. Much of law enforcement was corrupt and the FBI was almost as bad as the gangsters and was run by a vindictive homosexual.

In many ways it wouldn’t be bad to have a John Dillinger around today to take care of some of the greedy bunch on Wall Street as well as some of the investment bankers. Kidnapping some of the greedy bunch may not work today because nobody would be willing to pay a ransom. A Dillinger just needs to rob them and then blow them away with his submachine gun. Baby Face Nelson was the one who loved to kill the most and he would have taken great pleasure in disposing of Madoff and his like.

It was safer sitting on the porch in the days of these great gangsters than it is today. The gangsters weren’t interested in someone like me. I’m not worth anything for a ransom and don’t have any ready cash for the taking. Today, we are threatened by any dope crazed thug just wanting enough to get another fix. Today, even old women with a purse aren’t safe on the parking lot of a mall or a grocery store. Baby Face Nelson or John Dillinger would have gunned down a thug if he had been caught mugging an old lady or an innocent person like me. Where are Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger when we need them today? They are wanted today as much as in 1934.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

During my fifty years in medicine there has been a great transformation in hospitals. Religions were a big part of the hospital business and it really wasn’t a business. Hospitals existed to care for the needs of the sick which included the spiritual needs of the patient. The spirit was in special need and support as the body mended. Patients were hospitalized for long periods of time to convalesce and have diagnostic test.

Insurance came along to pay for hospitalization. It was then realized that hospitals could be turned into business ventures. It was also a setup for fraud and abuse. Medicare came along to pay for the elderly and it became even easier to milk the government. The insurance companies and Medicare retaliated by tightening down on what they would allow for reimbursement and greatly limited hospitalization for things like diagnostic testing and convalescence. Hospitals became more and more acute care facilities with very expensive equipment and high priced personnel to care for complex and serious illnesses. Large volumes of patients became necessary to support this type operation and was an impetus for hospitals to merge. Size was necessary for survival.

Private venture capitalist have acquired many hospitals and turned them into lean mean profit machines. They have cut the cost to bare bones with a sacrifice in quality. Fraud and abuse have become prevalent and legal compliance folks are constantly snooping to make sure reimbursement for care is on the up and up. The religious hospitals have had a nonprofit status allowing them to be tax exempt. To compete the religious hospitals have shortchanged the spiritual aspects of their care and concentrated on making the buck. To me, all of the hospitals are really for profit machines and a dog eat dog business.

We witnessed the demise of a small local hospital this week, which finally succumbed to the pressures of trying to keep up in this world of big players. The amazing thing is that it has survived for the past twenty years. A small staff of physicians who lacked the vision to grow and expand with complex specialty care contributed to the demise of the hospital because hospitals cannot exist without physicians. In a desperate attempt to save the hospital, a few vocal folks, with no insight into the problem, were screaming and even resorting to prayer on the hospital lawn with a misdirected priest in a futile effort to keep the hospital as it was in 1930. There was some hope that a large Catholic Hospital chain would swoop in and save the day by acquiring the facility. The dying hospital would have been no better off without a specialty hospital staff. Religions should get out of the hospital business and concentrate their efforts on their churches that are so neglected and facing a dwindling membership.

The hospitals of old that functioned like spas and resorts have Gone With the Wind. We are now in the 21st Century and, who knows, we may not even need hospitals in the future. We may be treated by someone like Dr. McCoy on Star Trek who merely runs a hand held device over the patient that will diagnoses and treat at the same time. That will be great, to stay on my comfortable porch and not run the danger of acquiring a MRSA infection and be subjected to the horror of the modern hospital bill.