Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This is the kind of thing that makes people doubt the medical establishment

A woman in Columbia was declared dead at a hospital. But then when an employee of a funeral home was about to inject embalming fluid she started moving.

BOGOTA, Colombia - A Colombian woman declared dead of a heart attack moved one of her arms just as an undertaker was about to embalm her, doctors said Wednesday.

Noelia Serna, 45, was rushed to a hospital in the city of Cali, where she was in critical condition in an intensive care unit Wednesday, said hospital director Luis Fernando Rendon.

"Her chances of survival are slim," Rendon said....

On rare occasions, a person's heart rate and breathing can drop to undetectable levels, leading doctors to erroneously declare a patient dead, said neurosurgeon Juan Mendoza Vega, a member of the Colombian National Medical Ethics Board.

"It can happen," he said. "But it's not a matter of coming back to life because the person was never dead."

I guess, but I'd hope that if I ever get pronounced dead, that I'm really dead.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

GOP recruiting class just the same old retreads

It seems as though Republicans are recruiting some candidates for Congress-- many of whom are the same old retreads who were part of the problem before.

Not anything new, but a bunch of former members of Congress who they claim are supposed to be something new. Mostly the same ones who were in Congress during the 1990's and early 2000's and helped put the roots of the present crisis in place.

Epitomatically they are trumpeting former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, who will challenge his successor, Sen. Evan Bayh. Recall that Senator Coats is the Senator who said the day after Bill Clinton launched missile strikes in an attempt to get Osama bin Laden on August 18, 1998 (eleven days after the African embassy bombings and a day when we had some intelligence about where bin Laden was holding a meeting,)

"I think we fear that we may have a President that is desperately seeking to hold onto his job in the face of a firestorm of criticism and calls for him to step down.”

Senator Dan Coats, R-IN August 19, 1998.

The full context of the statement is that also on August 18, 1998 Monica Lewinsky was giving a deposition in Manhattan and Coats and other Republicans were apparently upset that the all-important Monica scandal didn't get the headline for that day (though taking a headline from the Monica scandal would have been what would happen if Bill Clinton launched the missile strike against bin Laden on pretty much any day during 1998.)

I'm sure that Coats' statement calling on the President to resign for attacking Osama bin Laden must have been received with comfort and great mirth by bin Laden.

I'm sure that there are some opportunities out there for Republicans, especially given Democrats' failure to pass health care legislation and other items on their agenda that have caused a lot of voters to decide that not much has changed. But the idea that running candidates against them who themselves were part of the last crop of failures, even up to and including a candidate who once said the President should resign for attacking Osama bin Laden, is hardly a recruiting class designed to benefit from voter discontent.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Six Hundred People at a National 'Convention' is a First Class Flop

The National Tea Party convention had weeks to prepare, a national speakers list headlined by Sarah Palin and wall-to-wall media coverage. They held their convention in the Gaylord Opryland, a venue that has 2,881 rooms available (in addition to tens of thousands of other rooms in surrounding hotels.) In two weeks, the National Wild Turkey Federation, a sportsmen's group is having their convention in Opryland and they anticipate 40,000 visitors.

Six hundred people attended, barely more than the number of people in the House and Senate they want to strike fear into the hearts of.

Every Christmas, more people than that show up to watch the kiddies perform in their annual elementary school Christmas concert. And I live in a town with 1,500 people in it, total.

After all the hype, getting fewer people than you'll find in the stands for the average little league game should make it clear that this 'movement' is a flop. No wonder reporters are interviewing each other.

British court orders man to tear down his 'castle home.'

I now realize what I don't like about this story about a man who violated regulatory laws to build a home that resembles a castle in Britain:

LONDON – A man's home is his castle — but not if British authorities say it has to be destroyed.

That's the situation faced by Robert Fidler, a farmer who lost a High Court bid Wednesday to protect the once-secret castle he built 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of London and kept hidden from planning authorities.

The adverse decision means Fidler's roof must come down. He has one year to comply unless an appeal is successful....

There is no question that he violated what amounts to zoning laws and built it without permission:

"This was a blatant attempt at deception to circumvent the planning process," he said, adding that Fidler now has one year to destroy the castle, remove the ruins and return the property to its original state.

The unusual castle, complete with cannon, ramparts and stained glass, was completed in 2002 and Fidler lived there with family for more than four years before the authorities started legal action against him.

Fidler, who has had disagreements with planning authorities before, anticipated that his request for permission to build the castle would be denied, so he tried to take advantage of a rule that allows a structure to be legalized if it has been lived in for four years.

Nevertheless this bothers me. The reason why is now clear when I read through the article again. Nowhere does it say why (other than the fact that it was built without permission) that it has to come down. Generally building laws have a reason behind them. And I realize that there are a lot of real castles in England and presumably they don't want any tourists getting confused and taking pictures of a house that was built in 2002. But it seems to me that the proper way to handle this would be a (possibly very substantial) fine. To make a man tear down his home, not for any practical reason like safety, complaints from neighbors or illegal use of the land (such as if he were selling merchandise to his neighbors and getting an unfair advantage over merchants who built in designated commercial districts) but simply because they don't approve of the design, seems a bit over the line.

Friday, February 05, 2010

First order of legislative business: packing their own parachutes

After massively bungling last year's budget, members of the Arizona legislature, especially Republican members, have been announcing their retirements and resignations from the body right and left. Many are term-limited out (though that is almost meaningless with the loophole allowing members of the house to bounce to the senate every eight years and back again eight years later.) Others are seeking higher office (though I'd wonder what they've been smoking if they think the reward they deserve for last year's debacle is a promotion) and others are apparently just tired of it all and don't want to take the blame for the mess they've created.

But, Senator Jack Harper is sponsoring a bill that will do one thing: eliminate the one year wait before they can accept jobs from lobbying firms. Of course that law was put in place nearly twenty years ago after seven members of the legislature were caught accepting bribes from an FBI agent posing as a lobbyist. That should be a hint right there why we don't want to get rid of the prohibition.

But Harper's bill appears to have been put on a fast track, clearing a key committee vote today and ready to go to the full senate for approval. Apparently with the mass rush towards the door, it's nice to know that with unemployment near 10% in Arizona and the state suffering form the consequences of the failure of their policies from past years and their failure to even have a policy last year, they are looking out for themselves.

Teeing off on Tebow

(subtitle: Theismann vs. Heisman)

For a guy whose stock has fallen off the table in the NFL draft, former Heismann winner Tim Tebow is sure getting more buzz ahead of he Super Bowl than, say Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the quarterbacks who are actually in the game. Tebow has not yet played even a single down in the NFL and at least one former quarterback and respected commentator thinks he should keep it that way.

Tebow, who is the son of missionaries and grew up in a very fundamentalist household, is well known for wearing his Christianity on his sleeve (well actually wearing it on his face, writing Bible verses on his cheeks before every game.)

This week there is a big brouhaha over CBS' decision to air an anti-abortion ad featuring Tebow and his mother (who refused the advice of doctors to get an abortion because of her health and had him anyway) during the Super Bowl. Last year CBS said they would start allowing more controversial ads during the Super Bowl, but then they turned around and refused to allow an ad from ManCrunch, a gay dating organization. So apparently their newfound tolerance in advertising only works one way. CBS then got in even deeper when they kept changing their story on the ManCrunch ad. First they said ad space was sold out for the Super Bowl. Then when it was shown that the ManCrunch ad had been submitted to them before some ads that were approved, they questioned whether the company could pay for the ad. When it was shown that they could and had the money available, CBS had to say it was about 'standards.' OK, at least they admit they have more than one set of standards.

There are of course those who claim that the real reason for the controversy over Tebow is his Christianity. But that is ridiculous. Lots of NFL players are Christians and quite open about it. You don't see for example, anything but praise for Drew Brees, a Christian quarterback who actually should be getting more attention before the Super Bowl than Tebow (I mean, like, Brees will actually be PLAYING Sunday, shouldn't that count for something?) Rather, it almost seems as if Tebow is hogging all the attention by putting his personal views on abortion ahead of the game itself, and whether he deserves that criticism or not has now become a punching bag for CBS' hypocritical position on accepting ads.

A bigger problem for Tebow is that even well ahead of draft day he's getting a reception from the NFL that is downright frosty. For starters, scouts have said that he doesn't have the skills to play in the NFL and downgraded his status to a third or fourth round pick at best.

Then, following rumors that the Jacksonville Jaguars might use their first round pick on Tebow (he played at the University of Florida and the Jags attendance is about what you'd expect for an expansion team that has worn out its welcome and is the least competitive team in what might be the NFL's toughest division,) a Jags player, and more specifically an offensive lineman unloaded on Tebow.

according to the Florida Times-Union:

[Offensive lineman Uche] Nwaneri posted on the Jaguars’ Web site that, while cashing a check, a bank teller started talking about how Tebow will save the Jaguars.

So Nwaneri posted his five points on Tebow, with capital letters:

"1. He can't throw, PERIOD.

2. He can't read any coverage other than probably cover 2 or man.


4. He doesn’t know how to take a snap from center.

5. HE CAN’T THROW, and that’s really something you either have or not."

Keep in mind that this is from one of the men who is supposed to put his body on the line to protect the quarterback from the Elvis Dumervils and the Dwight Freeneys of the NFL. In fact, he faces Freeney twice a year and wants to feel confident that the guy he's protecting is worth the beating his body takes keeping guys like that out of the backfield every week.

You can hear the frustration in Nwaneri's post. One of the few perks that come with losing is that your team gets a better position in the draft, which in theory should translate to better players. But if his team reaches up to burn their first round pick on a guy who they could probably get in the third round, his frustration would be justified. The idea that Tebow would put fans in the seats is ridiculous. He might for a few games, and as the columnist of the linked article points out,

even if Nwaneri and the legions of critics are right that Tebow is bound for NFL flopdom, I guarantee thousands of Georgia fans would be willing to make the drive down to the site of so many Cocktail Party aggravations for the sole purpose of watching their former tormenter operate behind a line that might not feel much like blocking for him.

Well, there is that. But if Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver is serious about attendance then he should be serious about using his first round and subsequent picks to put together a team that will win games, not bring out legions of anti-Tebow fans who will enjoy it every time Freeney or some other NFL Defensive nightmare blasts through the line and delivers a crunching hit on Tebow.

Nwaneri's comments are downright tame compared to the broadside delivered by a former NFL great. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who was known as a gentleman in the broadcast booth during an eighteen year stint with ESPN because he is loathe to criticize other players (and recognizing from personal experience what they risk every time they take the field,) said that Tebow should retire before draft day and not even try playing in the NFL.

Via Pro Football Talk, Theismann explained why:

"Rock star status preserved," Theismann said.

"Obviously at Florida they don't teach throwing the football," Theismann opined in explaining that Tebow's mechanics are "poor." Theismann also said that Urban Meyer and his staff have "no clue" regarding the process for preparing a quarterback to play "at the next level."

Retire now advises Joe, so at least he can still claim that he was too good for the NFL instead of too awful. Ouch, that one's gotta sting.

Of course the former Heisman winner will enter the draft, and if he's lucky even get drafted way ahead of where he should be by Jacksonville. And, give him a chance-- a lot of good players have been drafted low and turned out to be better than the scouts predicted (don't forget that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who led the Cowboys to the playoffs this year and played in the pro bowl wasn't even drafted at all in 2003.)

But from day one, the spotlight will be burning hot on Tebow. And he'll need to bear up a lot better than he did when he lost to Alabama in the SCC championship game (hint: in the NFL men don't cry when they lose-- add 'crybaby' to the list of insults and ephithets he will hear every time he goes on the road.) And despite what anyone may say, it will burn hot on him because he's invited it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Duncan Hunter afraid of hermaphrodite conspiracy to take over the military

Duncan Hunter, a rabid anti-immigration, anti-pretty much anything that makes sense congressman from California did himself one up Tuesday during an interview regarding President Obama's proposal to repeal the 'don't ask/don't tell' policy regarding gay service members.

It is hard to argue against the repeal of the policy, given the established fact that thousands of gay servicemen and women have served in America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. In many cases their comrades in arms were fully aware of their sexual orientation (though they may have declined to 'tell' formally in order to avoid being booted out of the military) and in fact it has been a non-issue in the front lines. What matters in a war is whether someone can do and does do their job, period.

And further, it makes far more sense to integrate the armed services now, when there is no urgent national emergency of the type that might require a draft, than to be forced to do so in a dire national emergency when millions of young people suddenly announce publically they are gay the day after getting their conscription notices. Because let's be honest here-- if there ever is a draft, anyone who wants to dodge it will make such a public announcement and pretty much dare the army to boot them out, and if it happens on a massive scale would force the issue then-- at a time when we don't need to be fighting over it.

So what did Congressman Hunter say, exactly?

"You'll open the military up to hermaphrodites."


Does he even know what a hermaphrodite is? For the record a hermaphrodite has both male and female sex organs from birth, often as the result of a genetic abnormality (such as the presence of three sex chromosomes, XXY -- whereas a normal male is XY and a normal female is XX.) About one in every ten thousand Americans is a hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites lead completely ordinary lives, with the exception that because they have both male and female characteristics they in some cases are able to decide which gender they would prefer to live as. In fact, in most cases sexual orientation, where it plays a role, tends to lead hermaphrodites to choose the gender opposite to that which they find most appealing.

What does repealing DADT have to do with hermaphrodites? A hermaphrodite is perfectly welcome to join the military right now, and I suspect (though there are no statistics on it that I'm aware of) that some have.

What Congressman Hunter's comment shows is an apalling level of ignorance. He obviously has no clue what a 'hermaphrodite' actually is, he just knows it's a word he can use to scare people who are as ignorant as he is.

What scares me is that there are actually people in the United States who just last year wanted this guy to become President!
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