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κηρύκειον and the rod of Asclepius

September 14, 2009

This is the symbol we often associate with medicine here in America. It is called the kerykeion or κηρύκειον in Greek, or the caduceus in Latin. In antiquity the caduceus was associated with Hermes or Mercury. It has no actual association with healing or medicine. Rather, it represents commerce, theft, deception and death. Hmmm. Perhaps that is an appropriate symbol for the American health care system and the death by spreadsheet cartels.

The correct symbol for medicine is the rod of Asclepius, which is properly connected to Hippocrates and the Hippocratic Oath. Here is that symbol, with a single snake and no wings.
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And here is the oath itself

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods, and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art–if they desire to learn it–without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken the oath according to medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 8:11 am

    Nice reminder of the oath, especially in light of stories that medical personnel experimented on human subjects in the course of torturing them. I guess AG AG must have told the doctors the Hippocratic oath was “quaint” too.

    Wasn’t aware of the confusion between the two rods and I found this link which explains the differences. The confusion seems to be mainly in the US – note that the Canadian Medical Association and others still use the rod of Asclepius as their symbol. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the confusion here came from an ignorant military usage:

    A major reason for the current popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its illinformed official adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902.

    I got to go to Epidaurus where legend says the Asclepius was born on one of my trips to Greece. From what I remember there isn’t much left of the Asclepeion temple where people flocked to be healed in ancient times but the theater is still there. As the wiki article mentions:

    The theater is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the proscenium or skene to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating.

    I can attest to this as one of the people in our group was an amateur opera singer and she did a little performance in the 2500+ year old outdoor theatre to demonstrate the acoustics. Not only could you hear her sing perfectly but you could hear people just talking normally from anywhere in the seats. Really amazing acoustics.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 14, 2009 7:07 pm

      Wow. I’d love to go to that place to play music. If I ever make it back to Greece, it will be a must visit.

    • teknemakre permalink
      May 20, 2010 11:22 am

      Here’s a link that discusses the quote from Hippocrates wrapped around the Rod of Asclepius you have up.

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ars_longa,_vita_brevis?wasRedirected=true

      It says roughly Life is Short, the Job is Huge, the Opportunity is Fleeting.

      Had a classicist friend at Cal look at it for me a she said it’s in Attic Greek, which is interesting because Hippocrates wrote in Ionic. Thanks for putting it up. Can I ask where you found it? I couldn’t find a comp ANYWHERE on the nets.

      • Stemella permalink*
        May 20, 2010 1:12 pm

        Thanks for your comment. I had been familiar with that quotation, but didn’t realize it was associated with the Rod of Asclepius.

        I found the image from a google image search, if I remember correctly, and have no idea of the source where I found it. I just did another search and found it at the link below with mention of the Ars Longa quote.

        Illness and Health in Literature

        The search term I used was “The Aesculapian staff” if you want to look for further sources

  2. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 8:29 am

    Good article from the Boston globe on Hyman Minsky, a Cassandra among economists who was largely ignored during his own lifetime – Why Capitalism Fails.

    But if Minsky was as right as he seems to have been, the news is not exactly encouraging. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

    In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

    Minsky had an interesting take on Keynes:

    In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes – that government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things on an even keel – Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came to call “bastard Keynesianism.”

    Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes’s landmark writings, which dealt not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes’s collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff.

    This probably explains why none of the “serious” people gave Minsky the time of day. When the shit inevitably hit the fan, Minsky was no fan of trickle down to fix the problems:

    Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government – or what he liked to call “Big Government” – should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

    Here’s Minsky’s “money quote”:

    “There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another depression [won’t] cure.”

    Fairly long article but definitely worth reading the whole thing. Minsky seemed like someone who was far more concerned with the welfare of the majority than in taking care of the oligarchs and expecting that to produce results for everyone else.

  3. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 9:16 am

    Well, we’ve seem what happens when you run an entire economy like a casino and now the casinos themselves are failing. Foxwoods, the largest casino in the world, is in danger of going under. Foxwoods was the one that started the casino boom in the early 90s and it is almost surreal to see it. It’s set on forest and farmland in rural Connecticut and to get there you drive through a pretty sparsely populated area until you suddenly see these huge glittering towers rising over the surrounding forest and you feel like you are driving into the Emerald city from the Wizard of Oz.

    When I lived in Seattle one of the tribes out there got their own casino shortly after Foxwoods started up. It was small and had just table games and no slot machines. The employees seemed like they were actual tribal members and it was built on tribal land. It was pretty successful so they decided to make it bigger. And then more tribes and other groups wanted their own casinos so huge ones were built in the ensuing years. Yet when you drove through the surrounding area, despite all the claims of the economic development these casinos would bring, it was obvious that the area was still wracked with poverty. Stories of corruption began hitting the papers and it became pretty clear that the only ones making real money were a handful of tribal leaders and the Las Vegas developers.

    Moved back to the east coast and saw the same thing. In Maine voters have defeated plans for a Foxwoods type casino on a few occasions but the developers keep coming back. They finally got a slots only facility built in northern Maine which did OK at first but has fallen on hard times once the novelty wore off and the economy went into the dumper, not that people in northern Maine had all that much spare cash to begin with. The strange thing is how convincing these developers can be. I met with tribal leaders here about 6 years ago when they first tried to get a casino in and they had labor leaders and other progressive groups on their side. The developers had convinced them that they’d be “helping the Native Americans” if they supported a casino. I was adamantly opposed because the casino was going to be enormous and was not going to be built on tribal land but several hours away in the southern part of the state. Labor leaders touted the union jobs the casino would create but when I asked what type of guarantee there was that anything other than temporary construction jobs would be union, they told me that the Las Vegas developers had “promised”. At this point I was astounded that the tribal leader who has seen his people exploited and marginalized for centuries would take the word of a bunch of rich white guys from an industry known for its corruption on anything. Luckily the voters shot the proposal down by a 2-1 margin.

    I also wondered why the banks would be willing to finance a gargantuan casino project to “help the tribes” but not something like a wind farm or some other project that is actually productive, rather than just extracting wealth from suckers and shipping it out of state.

    I hope Foxwoods and the other gigantic casinos do fail, and that puts a stake in the heart of plans to build more casinos in Mass and other areas. The logic behind building these things makes no sense whatsoever. People think they can just build the next Foxwoods and make gazillions too without stopping to think that the reason that Foxwoods makes so much is because everyone from several surrounding states goes there to gamble and if you build a half dozen more casinos none of them will ever do as well as Foxwoods did because people will go to the one closest to their home. And then there’s the fact that the potential tax revues from casinos are always touted, but nobody seems to ever mention that these revenues come from separating people from their money while giving nothing in return making them poorer and more likely to need social services.

    Fuck the big casinos. The bigger they are the harder they fall and these modern ones have gotten way top big for anyone’s good. And I say this as someone who realizes that gambling is stupid but enjoys doing it from time to time anyway.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 14, 2009 7:18 pm

      I’ve seen the effects of big casinos on small surrounding towns out west too and it isn’t much good. Most of the ones I’m familiar with are run by Harrah’s.

      I won 350 bucks off 75 cents in a slot one time and figured that was all the luck I’d ever get. Generally, I prefer playing poker for plastic chips with friends.

  4. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 9:28 am

    Well looky here! Nancy Pelosi got all wishy washy on the need for a public option last week and within hours of getting her mind right one of the largest health insurance companies decided to throw her a fundraiser. Surprise surprise!

  5. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 9:54 am

    Good one from Chris Hedges today, especially this part at the end:

    It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations. It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests. The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage. And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice.

    Reminds me of the GB Shaw quote I read recently from The Revolutionist’s Handbook:

    “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

    The problem is what exactly to do to break the hold of the oligarchs and how to get enough people to do it to be effective. It’s easy enough to defy the Democrats and withhold your vote – I’ve been doing it for a couple decades now – but not much changes. It’s easy enough to put your money where your mouth is and stop doing business with the Wal Marts and BofAs of the world, but that doesn’t change anything either. I really wish I knew how to convince more people to think and stop being taken advantage of and stop doing things that are not in their best interests, but I don’t know how. I also wish I had the personal courage to at the very least stop paying my taxes. haven’t been able to muster it – yet.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 14, 2009 10:26 am

      This article contrasting other health care systems with ours goes a long way towards explaining why it is so difficult to get people to think.

      Of course it would be easier for U.S. insurance companies simply to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies the way the Danish government does to get drugs at a more reasonable price–but then it would be harder for them to charge such high premiums! Or perhaps it is just that the drug companies know that Americans are blithering idiots whom they can easily milk for five times the cost of what they feel is sufficient to justify the sale of the same medicine to Danes if they can convince us that by paying more we are avoiding the taint of socialism. No matter that the Danish money goes into the same capitalist coffers as our American money. We won’t see the implications of this because we are just irredeemably stupid.

      The US of A may in the long run simply prove too stupid to exist.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 14, 2009 7:36 pm

      Yep, I find myself in the same place. I’ve lost confidence in my fellow countrypeople again. I’ve lost confidence in the government again, not that I ever had that much. I’m starting to think this whole attempt to change the system from the inside is a silly pipe dream I dreamed again. Not enough people take it seriously, to do their homework and hold up their end. The burden is too heavy for how few know and care.

      Unless the global conglomerates of corporofascists break down enough to allow for a real restructuring of this country, I don’t see much point in feeding it with much except what is absolutely necessary.

      I’m thinking it is time to revisit the long term goal of again finding off grid community with attributes of barter, self sufficiency and cooperation. It is a harder life physically. In the near term simplifying what I need to live seems like a good idea; shedding the layers of this fucked up brainwashed consumerist nightmare.

      Sometimes I’d like to be like the nautilus and curl up in my shell and call it good, flicking my tentacles at the mackerels passing by in all their oily glittery groupiness.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 15, 2009 8:26 am

        I feel much the same way – that there is just not the critical mass of people who know and care to force these assholes to change their ways or force them out of office.

        Chronicling the end of the empire as it collapses under its own weight may be the best any of us can do. It is encouraging when people do drop it to read it from time to time. I noticed there were a few people who were checking out our “Go Fish” post and clicking the links there yesterday.

  6. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 12:17 pm

    When you commented a few days ago about CDOs based on life insurance policies, I thought you were saying it in a half-joking, it-hasn’t-happened-yet-but-they’ll-think-of it-some-day sort of way. But now I guess you must have read this article on just such a practice that I came across at Matt Taibbi’s blog.

    I read the NYT article and you’d think the tone of it would be something along the lines of “That is the most bat-shit crazy vampirish parasitical fucked up idea we’ve ever heard and it should be made illegal immediately” and yet they discuss this as if it would be a greeeeaaaaaaat idea just as soon as a few of the kinks get worked out. The lone voice of sanity is given exactly this much space in the three page article:

    Critics of life settlements believe “this defeats the idea of what life insurance is supposed to be,” said Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group. “It’s not an investment product, a gambling product.”

    If the wingnuts of this country think socialized medicine would bring “death panels”, wait until this fucked up idea becomes widespread, which appears likely to happen soon. Because as the article mentions, people living too long could cost the financial firms a lot of money. These assholes have already proven time and time again that they are without conscience and it’s all just business for them, so what do you think is going to happen when people have the temerity to live long enough to cost these vampires billions in profits and cause a cut in their multi-million dollar bonuses? Something tells me a lot of people are going to find the grandma has mysteriously fallen and can’t get up – ever.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 14, 2009 7:44 pm

      Yes, I read about it. It wasn’t Taibbi though, but on one of the econ blogs I scan. Cannot believe they can get away with it. After listening to Squobama today though with his soft touch approach to Pirate regulation of Wall St, I have no doubt that the practice will be yet another bullshit scam.

      The banksters are not at all worried about Timmy and Barry with their new rules to be written by Chris Dodd, their water carrier on Finance. All of their stocks went up today. Goldman Sux is over 175 a share! There will be no looking back to prosecute thieves of the recent past and the foxes will continue to guard the henhouse. The transaction is now complete.

  7. cometman permalink*
    September 14, 2009 9:35 pm

    Ha! Judge Rakoff dismissed the settlement between BofA and the SEC.

    “The proposed settlement suggests a rather cynical relationship between the parties: the S.E.C. gets to claim that it is exposing wrongdoing on the part of the Bank of America in a high-profile merger; the bank’s management gets to claim that they have been coerced into an onerous settlement by overzealous regulators. And all this is done at the expense, not only of the shareholders, but also of the truth.”

    Trial to follow. Something tells me neither Ken Lewis nor anyone from the government side is going to come out looking to good.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 15, 2009 8:11 am

      Apparently, Andrew Cuomo is considering whether to bring civil charges against Lewis and other Execs directly. In spite of that Lewis is said to be optimistic about all the green shootiness he sees surrounding him. BofA CEO “optimistic” about economic recovery

      “I feel like my optimistic side is coming back, as economic data points toward recovery,” Lewis told a conference in Tokyo, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

      Lewis spoke as the largest U.S. bank faced legal challenges at home. On Monday, a federal judge rejected its $33 million regulatory settlement over Merrill Lynch & Co bonuses.

      And New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was preparing to file civil charges against some Bank of America executives, including “some of the very highest-ranking”, over the companies’ merger, according to a person familiar with the probe.

  8. Stemella permalink*
    September 15, 2009 8:04 am

    Well written article about an enormous fleet of idle ships parked off of Malaysia, indicating the true nature of global trade these days.

    Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession

    • cometman permalink*
      September 15, 2009 8:33 am

      Wow. That can’t bode well for a recovery any time soon.

  9. Stemella permalink*
    September 15, 2009 8:28 am

    The Iraqi zapatista has been liberated from prison for throwing a “flower to the occupier” Bush.

    Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at Bush released from prison

    Muntathar al Zaidi received a hero’s welcome at the offices of his employer, al Baghdadiya television station, where his colleagues slaughtered sheep and danced in celebration of his release. Originally a three-year term for assaulting a head of state, Zaidi’s sentence was reduced and he was released early because he had no criminal record.

    Sporting a dark suit and a scarf printed with the Iraqi flag, a paler and thinner Zaidi told a news conference that Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth.

    The focus of Zaidi’s speech Tuesday wasn’t his own ordeal, however, but the death and destruction that Iraqis have experienced since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

    “After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity and desecrations of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting and bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response,” Zaidi said. “Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all those who are in league with him.”

    • cometman permalink*
      September 15, 2009 8:42 am

      Nice to see that he is completely unrepentant. If he were in the Obama administration he would have been asked to go spend more time with his family by now. Thought I saw somewhere earlier that he was going to head to Greece for a while for some medical treatment but I can’t put my finger on where I saw it. According to the Rawstory article, his actions were much appreciated and he’s looking at better prospects now that he’s been freed:

      Zaidi faces the prospect of a very different life from his previous existence as a journalist for Al-Baghdadia, a small, privately-owned Cairo-based station, which continued to pay his salary in jail.

      Zaidi’s boss has promised the previously little-known reporter a new home as a reward for loyalty and the publicity that his actions, broadcast live across the world, generated for the station.

      But there is talk of plum job offers from bigger Arab networks, lavish gifts such as sports cars from businessmen, guaranteed celebrity status, and reports that Arab women from Baghdad to the Gaza Strip want to marry him.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 15, 2009 8:49 am

        Here’s the bit about going to Greece:

        At the family’s home, al-Zeidi’s brother Uday said the reporter will travel Thursday to Greece for medical checkups and because he had concerns about his safety in Iraq.

        “He fears for his life,” Uday said, adding that he would sleep at an undisclosed location Tuesday night.

  10. cometman permalink*
    September 15, 2009 9:16 am

    Stewart and Colbert were back from vacation last night. Both of them had segments about health care and both of them used the caduceus instead of the rod of Asclepius in their graphics. Should we tell them? :)

  11. Stemella permalink*
    September 15, 2009 10:19 am

    In papal news, Benedict wants to invite artists over to the Sistine Chapel for a visit to declare a truce of sorts, and to encourage more what he would consider sacred than profane.

    Pope Benedict XVI seeks to frame new relationship with artists

    I’m guessing he wants to put an end to the creation of sculptures like this one. You may never forgive me for posting this link. You may want some visine or brain bleach before opening. Yes, it is that heinous!! ;)

    • cometman permalink*
      September 15, 2009 10:47 am

      Bleaaaarrrgghhhhh!!!! That was really nasty! I forgive you but I have just gotten word from my contact at the Vatican that the Popester does not and you have been summarily excommunicated :P

  12. cometman permalink*
    September 15, 2009 11:08 am

    Couple of good takes on Obama’s latest golden-tongued oration about financial reform from Nomi Prins and from Joseph Steiglitz, both of whom feel that the real systemic problems are not being addressed despite all the pretty words – namely that we should not have institutions that are too big too fail and that scattershot regulation in a few areas will not stop the rampant speculation that inevitably leads to meltdowns.

    Prins quotes Obama as saying that the government –

    “moved quickly on all fronts, initializing a financial stability plan to rescue the system from the crisis and restart lending for all those affected by the crisis.”

    – which is absolutely hilarious to anyone who has been following this crisis closely. All they did was throw gazillions of dollars at those who caused the problems who promptly gave themselves huge bonuses with our money and did NOT start lending again but rather stockpiled the cash at the Fed. But their stock prices went up so that must mean it’s all better, right….? Or as Prins says later:

    Taking credit for stabilizing the financial system after feeding it with massive amounts of federal money is like a teacher bragging about turning around the academic performance of a failing student after handing them all the answers to the big tests.

    Steiglitz has many of the same thoughts and calls for regulators to wake the hell up and close the barn doors before all the cows are out for a change:

    Lehman Brothers was a symptom of a dysfunctional financial system and regulatory failure. It should have taught us that preventing problems is easier, and certainly less costly, than dealing with them when they become virtually intractable.

    Unfortunately that has not been happening, although credit should be given Senator Kaufman from Delaware who is trying to bring dangerous practices like high frequency trading to regulators’ attention with this lengthy letter addressed to the President.

    That letter elicited this standard boilerplate response from bankster enabler Mary Schapiro which leads me to believe the SEC will get around to issuing their findings on these matters sometime right around never.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 15, 2009 3:35 pm

      Simon Johnson has a good critique too Obama And Brandeis

      He wasn’t too impressed with Obama’s discussion of new rules. Many of the same critiques as Stiglitz.

      I had a revelation last night that Barry is none other than a younger Harry Reid in a black man’s body. All dry powder, no action. Bound to make us apoplectic indefinitely.

  13. cometman permalink*
    September 15, 2009 11:41 am

    Good article from Mike Whitney on the Lehman collapse which pulls together many of the events and articles we’ve discussed here and comes to the conclusion that the whole thing was basically a hold up by the banksters to get the government to hand over TARP money that wasn’t really necessary. Lehman was sacrificed to create a panic so it would be easier to get Congress to hand over the funds. Definitely worth reading the whole thing as he makes a pretty convincing argument that Bernanke et al knew all along that what was immediately necessary was to backstop the commercial paper market, which he did just a few days after Congress agreed to the TARP funds. And the banksters have already admitted that the TARP figure they asked for had no basis in reality but was basically a huge number they picked out of thin air.

    What the article does not address and what I would like to see somebody get to the bottom of is who exactly decided that Lehman needed to be taken down and who was behind the illegal naked short selling that sent their stock price plummeting and caused the panic. For some reason Goldman Sachs comes to mind…

  14. cometman permalink*
    September 15, 2009 11:57 am

    These are the kind of people who give liberals a bad name – stupid stupid spoiled yuppies. Evidently these two clowns moved to Boulder because it was a quaint picturesque college town ranked highly on ‘most livable cities’ lists but when they got there they discovered that -gasp!- some restaurants near their apartment were burning wood to cook the food and they don’t like the smell when they sit on their little patio. They go on to claim that wood is the most dangerous substance known to man and if these restaurants don’t stop everyone in Boulder will be asphyxiated or something. Oh the humanity! The horror, the horror…..

    Maybe somebody needs to remind these two brats that if someone hadn’t sparked up a tree or two several thousand years ago, instead of dining out at yuppie restaurants they’d still be sitting outside on a rock tearing the bloody,uncooked flesh of squirrels with their teeth for sustenance while looking over their shoulders to make sure something bigger wasn’t sneaking up to snack on them.

    Wood is a renewable resource ferchrissakes. My family has managed to heat several homes with wood for generations without denuding the landscape and bringing on Armageddon. In fact the land is more forested now than it was several decades ago. The environmental problems don’t come from simply using wood, they come from raping the earth with clearcuts and using trees for wasteful purposes. If somebody wants to ban paper grocery store bags and napkins or whatever, be my guest. Those things are not necessary and waste resources for purposes of convenience. But to complain about people using wood to cook or to warm themselves is laughable.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 15, 2009 3:27 pm

      I think you should respond to the authors’ email. ;) What twats!

      The part about the peasants using wood to heat and cook was just a wee bit Marie Antoinette. It sounds like they would be best off living in a hermetically sealed box far from other people. Total douchebags.

  15. Stemella permalink*
    September 15, 2009 3:17 pm

    One of the tentacles of squid vampira has wrapped around one of it’s own, said to be self inflicted:

    Rockefeller & Co CEO dies in apparent suicide

    Dead men tell no tales

    • cometman permalink*
      September 16, 2009 8:16 am

      Huh. Doesn’t seem like Rockefeller&Co was in that much if any hot water according to the article. Wonder if his last job had anything to do with his troubles:

      Earlier this year, McDonald was one of the directors who left the board of lender CIT Group.

      • Stemella permalink*
        September 16, 2009 9:28 am

        Could be CIT. We’ll probably never know. Could have been something personal. His job title made it seem curious though.

  16. cometman permalink*
    September 16, 2009 8:24 am

    We’ve heard the Massachusetts plan being bandied about as a model for national health care in recent months. That state made health care mandatory a couple years ago in an attempt to control costs. How’s that been working out?

    The state’s major health insurers plan to raise premiums by about 10 percent next year, prompting many employers to reduce benefits and shift additional costs to workers.

    Increases will range from 7 to 12 percent, capping a decade of consecutive double-digit premium increases, according to a Globe survey of the state’s top health insurers. Actual rates for 2010 will depend on the size of the employer and the type of coverage, with small businesses and individuals expected to be hit hardest. Overall, premiums are more than twice as high as they were 10 years ago.

    The higher insurance costs undermine a key tenet of the state’s landmark health care law passed two years ago, as well as President Obama’s effort to overhaul health care. In addition to mandating insurance for most residents, the Massachusetts bill sought to rein in health care costs. With Washington looking to the Massachusetts experience, fears about higher costs have become a stumbling block to passing a national health care bill.

    ~snip~

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest health plan with 2.5 million members, predicted that its average premium rates will rise 10 to 11 percent before any employer “buydowns’’ – changes in coverage that push some of the added costs to employees. But for self-employed individuals and small businesses, which are pooled in the same market segment, premium rates could rise even more.

    Not only are costs going up in Mass, they are going up faster than in the rest of the nation:

    Altman projected premiums would climb 5 to 7 percent across the country in 2010, less than the increase in Massachusetts.

    This is the type of “care” our government wants us all to have. Whoop de doo.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 16, 2009 8:59 am

      Robert Scheer with a reminder that Obama’s presidency isn’t too big to fail. He criticizes Status Quobama on several fronts and mentions the Massachusetts health care mess at the end:

      Without a government program as a check on medical costs, Obama will end up with a variant of the Massachusetts program, one that forces consumers to sign up with private insurers and costs 33 percent more than the national average. He will have furthered the Bush legacy of cultivating an ever more expensive big government without improving how the people are served.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 16, 2009 9:36 am

      Yeah, I’ve heard it called Romney-care and it sounds like a crappy deal. Being one of the self employed I figure I’m going to be completely screwed over by the likely outcome of mandate with no public option. The tax credit approach proposed by Baucus also royally pisses me off. Tax credits are great for the well off, I guess, but are absolute bullshit for those who don’t earn all that much and need to take home as much of their pay as possible to survive. We’ll have to see what comes out of the mixup between the HELP plan and the Baucus plan and if any of the congressional plans get incorporated, but my guess is it will be what the Insurance Industry likes best.

  17. cometman permalink*
    September 16, 2009 8:46 am

    Thanks to computer scientists at the University of Washington, now Rome or any other city can be built in a day – digitally.

    The ancient city of Rome was not built in a day. It took nearly a decade to build the Colosseum, and almost a century to construct St. Peter’s Basilica. But now the city, including these landmarks, can be digitized in just a matter of hours.

    A new computer algorithm developed at the University of Washington uses hundreds of thousands of tourist photos to automatically reconstruct an entire city in about a day.

    The tool is the most recent in a series developed at the UW to harness the increasingly large digital photo collections available on photo-sharing Web sites. The digital Rome was built from 150,000 tourist photos tagged with the word “Rome” or “Roma” that were downloaded from the popular photo-sharing Web site, Flickr.

    Computers analyzed each image and in 21 hours combined them to create a 3-D digital model. With this model a viewer can fly around Rome’s landmarks, from the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon to the inside of the Sistine Chapel.

    Click here to see some short video reconstructions.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 16, 2009 9:53 am

      Neato! I liked the one of San Marcos square.

  18. cometman permalink*
    September 16, 2009 9:39 am

    Bad Idea Jones comes to town – the Wall Street quants look towards coginitve science. Lord help us all.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 16, 2009 9:53 am

      Does that mean Otvos like people have been/will be managing this stuff? There is no Wizard grand enough to repair this humpty dumpty that fell off the wall.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 16, 2009 10:09 am

        One of these days maybe these idiots will realize that economics isn’t a real science and you can’t predict markets like you can the orbit of Jupiter. But I doubt they’ll stop trying until somebody makes them and the rest of us will be the worse for it. The crackpots have risen to the top in the financial world just as they have in politics. We are fucked.

  19. cometman permalink*
    September 16, 2009 10:24 am

    A new film about Charles Darwin is premiering and will be seen all over the world. But not in the US. Because we are evidently way too goddamned stupid.

    Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

    The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

    However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

    I’d really like to become an expatriate. Maybe one of the non-US citizens among our vast readership will adopt me. I don’t eat much. I’m fairly handy around the house. Any takers?

    • cometman permalink*
      September 16, 2009 10:40 am

      Ok, maybe I should have been more specific in the adoption request. Russia is out. Not interested in moving to a country that is trying to rewrite history and polish up the image of Joseph Stalin.

      Outside Russia, the legacy of Stalin, who ruled as a dictator from the 1920s until his death in 1953, is pretty clear. Killing millions of his own people landed him in the pantheon of the world’s worst dictators, alongside Hitler and Pol Pot. His name conjures images of domestic terror, nighttime arrests and a megalomaniacal paranoia that prompted fatal campaigns against perceived enemies.

      Inside Russia, the story is more complicated. He was, according to a school textbook adopted last year and endorsed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a “competent manager” who committed atrocities at home out of necessity.

      Earlier this year, Stalin nearly won a nationwide call-in poll asking people to vote for the person who best represents Russia.

      How bad are the failed American economic policies that Russia adopted in the 90s if they are able to make the citizenry remember Stalin fondly? I’m sure there’s something to the Russian mindset I don’t completely understand but this seems a bit much. However I’m sure the Russians don’t really get the Reagan cult the US keeps trying to promote either.

      • Stemella permalink*
        September 16, 2009 1:12 pm

        Sorry to say, I don’t think there is anywhere to escape to anymore. The world has become too small. All nations have become subsidiaries of the uber corporations to one degree or another. The tentacles of the vampire squid have burrowed into every nook and cranny, with suckers firmly attached, unless one lives isolated and completely off grid and unplugged, against our own social nature and conditioning.

        I think you’re going to have to seek the adoption from the Comet people in galaxies far from this one.

        • cometman permalink*
          September 17, 2009 9:14 am

          Sadly you are right. I knew there wasn’t much hope once I saw the Mcdonalds and other US fast food shops showing up in Greece in the mid-late 90s. I will admit to having a cheeseburger at the one in Athens, but the only reason I did it was so I could claim I’d smoked in a McDonalds :) They still had those tinfoil ashtrays I remembered as a kid.

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