Category Archives: Our World

A POW is coming home, ’nuff said!

Look, there’s no question that the 5 Taliban that were released most likely be redeployed to attack in Afghanistan. We’re told that we don’t negotiate with terrorists only other nation-states we have gone to war with, which I suspect isn’t entirely true. The Taliban maybe terrorists, but we haven’t been in a conventional war since our reaction to 9/11. And of course now we are hearing that this POW should have an asterisk to his name because he may have gone AWOL or sent some critical emails to his parents about American policy, as if to say “you swapped 5 really bad guys for this guy?”

The folks complaining about this simply highlights that no matter what President Obama does it will always be wrong. Going back to even W’s administration, there was repeated attempts to get Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl freed. We even lost 5 men trying to rescue him. If they had executed him and sent the video out on it, the same people today complaining about the swap would be decrying that the President did not do anything to free him. And instead of showing Bergdahl’s parents (his father growing a beard until his son was released) with smiles on their face all over the news because their son is finally coming home, Fox News would have them weeping on one of their shows asking why nothing was done or being goaded to say how Obama failed here.

Regardless of whether he was or was not a deserter. Regardless that 5 enemy combatants were swapped, which by the way countries all over the world like Israel have done for decades. The fact is this….one of our own, a POW, is coming back home. Let us hope we can bring the rest home as well. Whatever opinion you may have about President Obama, one of our own is coming home!

Something about U Brits.

(Pic: AP Images)

Whichever branch of the English language you are brought up with, you have to admit parts of it are an inconsistent mess. There are words that are spelled broadly the same but pronounced entirely differently—cough, bough, borough, through, brought—words that are spelled entirely differently but pronounced the same—write, right, two, too, to—and words that do the same job and have only slightly different spellings—obfuscate, obfusticate.

And of course, as with most things that are old and full of character, there’s a lot of beauty in that mess, but also a lot of room for people to argue over which aspect of the mess best exemplifies the true spirit of this living, breathing, evolving thing we all use every day.

via Why Did America Drop The ‘U’ In British Spellings? | Anglophenia | BBC America.

 

Language, to paraphrase George Orwell, is a powerful thing. I always wondered why we Americans had a different spelling for “flavor” instead of “flavour.” To be honest, some of the British ‘U-versions’ always seemed nicer. As for Ax, I’ve seen the one ending in ‘e’ just as much over here.

Also, why do we say “Zee” for Z instead of “Zed”? Don’t tell me it had to do with that damn song we were taught in Kindergarten!  Actually, if you look at those ancient English tomes, say from Shakespeare’s days, the English language was radically different back then. The spelling for words they use over there in those days had vowels in places that today both the British and we Yanks would find odd. Noah Webster produced his dictionary 200 years ago. So what will the English language in the “Anglo world” be like 200 years from now?

Price controls hit Venezuela…this will not end well!

Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela

By EWAN ROBERTSON

TAGS

economic war

Price Controls

Mérida, 24th January 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A law limiting costs, prices and profit margins across the Venezuelan economy came into effect yesterday.

The law is designed to prevent over-pricing, speculation and other abuses against consumer rights which have been occurring in the South American country.

It was drawn up by President Nicolas Maduro after problems with Venezuela’s currency control system and what officials argue is an “economic war” being waged by anti-government business sectors have created economic imbalances for consumers such as high inflation and shortages in some basic products.

via Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela | venezuelanalysis.com.

This….will not end well.

Many years ago I got to become friends with a young man from Caracas at one of my father’s BBQs. This was about a year before Chavez became President. He came from a well to do family who was in tool and die making. Anyways, he worked in retail before coming here and I learned a thing or two about how it is down there. Essentially, you had over the decades something akin to how our health insurance companies operated here, were a select few manage to consolidate and get the state to give its blessing. The state allowed and aided a select few to dominate at the expense of a real free market in retail.

Well..fast forward to today and you have the end result of state meddling/crony capitalism with a cabal of business interests. One hand helping the other. But instead of breaking up these retail combines and allowing the formation of a real free market for retail, we get something worse. Very rare does command economies and their price control schemes work out well. The fundamental forces of Supply & Demand ultimately will win out in one form or another. Incentives will be shifted, shortages will begin, oh the list goes on and on. We have seen this time and time again, be it here in the US or Cuba or the USSR or wherever, it almost always fails.

This, unfortunately for the average Venezuelan, in the end…will not end well.

L’Isle-Verte

My heart goes out to those surviving seniors and the families of the victims of the great tragedy in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec. What a horrible way to go. I think of my 88 year old father and others in my family of similar ages when I see the story of L’Isle-Verte. For the uninitiated here in the US, there was a major fire in an old folks home where virtually every one, except for a small few, had perished. Between the blazing fire that quickly spread to the death-inducing freezing hitting North America, that had almost little to no chance. Once again, my heart goes out to those who survived and the families of the victims.

A 20 Year-Old Got Appendicitis and This Was His Hospital Bill

A 20 year-old man came down with appendicitis in October of this year. He posted the bill on Reddit and it has gone viral. The US Health Care system is a topic of much debate, not only in the US but around the world. A lot of countries get ‘free’ health care, so needless to say, this has stirred up a lot of conversation.

via A 20 Year-Old Got Appendicitis and This Was His Hospital Bill.

As someone who is chronically ill and disabled, I’ve seen this situation more than once. Luckily I have Medicare, but that doesn’t mean my doctors won’t over charge. My mother suffered a heart attack back in 2007, and add to that unfortunate event was the fact that she was without insurance because her previous one had lapsed and we were desperately looking for one until she too could go on Medicare. Suffice it to say, even with a portion of the bill forgiven, it wasn’t enough and my parents were financially wiped out. My father, now 88, lost nearly 7 decades of savings in one fell swoop.

We like to rag on the insurance companies, and don’t get me wrong, they are in my eyes co-conspirators in the draining of this nation’s wealth. But we also have to look at the medical establishment. Yes, doctors and medical practices do face a lot of costs, especially malpractice insurance and other similar liabilities. But much, from what I’ve been told even by them, of the costs is peer-inflated. Basically, because X raised their prices, so must Y and thus one sees a chain reaction.

Besides doctors, you have hospitals and medical suppliers also charging crazy amounts. I get it, if you make a medical widget or a pill, you need to see a return on investment. But having owned stock in some medical supplier companies, and really you all should just download those freely available annual and quarterly reports these folks put out, they freely admit charging 10-to-100X the cost of something. Many pharma companies flagship products are based on research the public has already invested in.

 

The Cons and Libertarians like to talk about how we need a free market in medicine. That if the government “got out of the way,” we would see lower prices through competition. This is a major fallacy for one simple reason: the medical establishment does not believe in competition. The AMA alone controls the supply of doctors in the United States, and they are akin to an old medieval guild. In order to have a market one needs to have price transparency. You can easily find out the price on a grocery shelf for all products, and we can price compare many goods against other stores. There is no such price transparency in medicine. Hospitals only post some pricing and more often than not that information is hard to get. And of course, one cannot price shop while having a heart attack.

Maybe we do need a collapse of the medical system to rebuild it. We obviously do not have any political means of enforcing any real competition among medical providers. And we sure as heck do not have any political means of establishing something like the UK’s National Health Service, let alone Single-Payer.

Cherry picking Bible Quotes for positive intolerance

 

The Social Cons aren’t the only ones who can cherry pick Bible verses. Though mine aren’t for establishing oppression against gays or others. This isn’t an attempt at preaching any religion, just pointing out that if you’re going to use the Bible for creating intolerance, then why not intolerance against affliction and injustice?

“If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.” ~ Deuteronomy 15:7

“But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him?” ~ 1 John 3:17

 

Let this be the start of a peaceful road to Damascus

I’m hoping that Syria does follow through with this diplomatic windfall. Honestly, if the Russians want to take credit, fine by me. As Jon Stewart noted, if this succeeds we will have avoided a military conflict, then it is a win of some sort. The poor civilians in Syria, sadly, will still have to face the horror of civil war, but it is their fight and not ours.

Could Syria cheat? Perhaps, but you really can’t hide such a scam like that anymore. And the regime in Damascus would be truly stupid to try and make Russia look like a fool. But if they follow through, then at least those stuck in the crossfire will not face the horrors that the President asked us to watch on Youtube.

It is pretty telling how many, mainly on the right, are saying that this Russian/UN move is some how a loss of face for President Obama. They’re such a Janus, with one face saying how they would not support any military action, while with the other decrying that American “respect” or what have you is nullified with the refusal of using military force. This is complete hogwash. Anytime peaceful means could be used, even if it means granting credit to an ally or rival, is a face saver for the US. How? Because we avoided using American men and women to kill other people on foreign soil.