Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 12, 2010 - September 5, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Hospital

The term "intensive care" means care that's, er, intensive.

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT PROGNOSIS.  You're always of two minds about the place. It's where you were born, which is good. It's also where all your aged relatives die, which is not good. At least it's not good community PR. I was trying to explain that to Mrs. CP's daughter today, who is a lot like Mrs. CP, pretty much no-nonsense, answer-my-questions inquisitor material -- except that when I asked her what she thought of the hospital she said she didn't like how remote the doctors were. (Like me, she's never been sick herself.) They weren't Johnny-on-the-spot enough. Mrs. CP's sister (another long long hilarious story) just laughed and said that's how doctors are everywhere. When I met the doctor who mattered and started questioning him, he gave me the hairy eyeball and I told him he was lucky. The real interrogation expert was in the cafeteria having lunch. That's the first time he cracked a smile.I think he thought I was kidding. I wasn't. Afterwards, she was truly pissed that she'd missed her chance to turn him inside out.

So. What am I thinking as I watch the American healthcare system at work? I'm thinking, thank God this is happening now rather than a few years from now. Not to be negative about things, but we live in a depressed backwater of high unemployment and few good economic prospects. But we placed two 911 calls in less than 24 hours, from a definitely rural address, and both times the response was immediate, professional, impeccable. Cops arrived within five minutes, and they were straight out of central casting, polite, competent, considerate, and handsome to boot. The EMTs were just as good: friendly, to the point, swift, and deft in their tasks. The ambulance was top-notch, the siren pragmatically abrupt, and I prepared myself en route for the dismal wait in the emergency room. Which didn't occur. There was literally no wait. The nurses were kind and efficient. The paperwork was not like a Kafka nightmare, albeit somewhat repetitious, and there was never a moment when I didn't feel that my wife was being cared for. A doctor saw her within half an hour of her arrival, fully briefed by the background the nurses had compiled.

This is America. Still. Thank God. Home of the very best medical care in the world. They may have performed one test procedure too many, but they also whisked her within two hours to an ICU facility equipped with all the best stuff. A large private single room, a knowledgeable and compassionate nurse who gave me her phone number and answered my call personally (and jovially) at 3 am.

This is the system that's so broken we need a federal government takeover? My wife didn't have her purse with her (my fault) and hence not her insurance card. They used mine instead. No problem. Meanwhile, everything clean, everything working, everyone working.

Yeah, it's the hospital where both my grandfathers died, my mother died, and countless other icons of my youth died. But they were old. They were dying. My wife, I think, they are going to keep alive. Because this is America. Home of the best damn medical care in the world.

Until 2014.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Right Wing Network

B-O-O-O-RING. Don't know what to make of this. Frankly, it makes me uneasy, despite the clever video intro by Kelsey Grammer.

btw, how many of you are familiar with the unbelievably tragic life this Juilliard alum has lived?

Grammer's family life has been plagued by tragedies. In 1968, when Grammer was thirteen years old, his father, whom he had seen only twice since his parents' divorce, was shot and killed on the front lawn of his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1975, his younger sister, Karen, was raped and murdered after being abducted outside a Red Lobster restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where her boyfriend worked. In 1980, his fraternal twin half-brothers were killed in a freak scuba diving accident. Grammer has sworn to prevent his sister's murderer, Freddie Lee Glenn, from being paroled in July 2009, Glenn was denied parole at least in part due to a letter Grammer submitted to the parole board.

I don't know how and why he's still standing. Shouldn't he be curled up in a fetal ball in the corner demanding compensation from the government? Oh. That's right. He's a conservative.

Still. I don't think most of us right-wingers want a right wing network. We want entertainment that doesn't amount to left wing propaganda, yes, but that's a far cry from wanting our own entertainment propaganda. In other words, I think our preference would be for entertainment that seeks to entertain, not advocate, proselytize, or undermine our personal values. I think that preference would be called, "Just leave politics out of it."

Which can't really be accomplished by a single cable network, can it? And I dread what might be on such a network. Things I don't want to see, especially if they're being touted as things us right wingers want to see:

- Andy of Mayberry reruns
- Left Behind, Parts I through V (for 'vapid')
- Gunsmoke reruns (or anything that's presently boring people at TVLand)
- Firing Line reruns (they looked like reruns the first time around)
- Cspan book lectures by National Review editors
- Wholesome old movies
- Syndicated old folks series like Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis: Murder, and Barnaby Jones. Yes, they're inoffensive; they're also deadly dull.
- Bleeped, sanitized versions of anything good from HBO or SHO.
- Anything that's supposed to be good for us (the same way we feel about left-wing stuff that's supposed to be good for us.)
- Anything at all about Noah's Ark. (STOP IT. And that goes for the Discovery Channel too.)
- Any sort of talk show or something featuring Pat Sajak. (yeah, he's a conservative. So f'ing what?)
- Anything whatever about healing, End of Days, the Rapture, or born-again celebrities.
- Any variation on Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's political comedy. Your're not good at it. Don't do it. I'm begging you.
- Anything the Media Research Center would approve of. Nice people but sheesh.

I guess you've already figured out we won't be watching this network. Neither will anyone else. It's not what conservatives have in mind. All it does is make more jokes for lefty comedians who need to feed their superiority complex.

Truthfully, I haven't even looked at their contemplated programming. Not interested. If I've missed something, let me know.

Prayers Help.

BETTER BY HALF. I'm pretending that it's nothing serious. Responding to commenters and so forth. But the truth is, I'm a nervous wreck. Mrs. CP is in the hospital tonight. In ICU. Precautionary, they say. But I had to call 911, and we went there in an ambulance. They turned on the siren at intersections.

So I can't keep on pretending that it's not serious. She's the best person I know. If I could trade places with her, I'd do it without a second thought. So I'm asking for the prayers of those who say prayers. However awful you think I am, that's how good she is. Please include her in your communications with the Almighty.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What the Pollsters, Pols, and
Pundits Can't Quite Figure Out

It's called gridlock. And at the moment it's the American Dream.

CLARIFICATION. They're all experiencing consternation, poor dears. Why are so many people planning to vote Republican in the fall even though the same polls that tell us this also tell us people still don't trust Republicans any farther than they could throw Denny Hastert if he were still around?

The Dems think this represents a ray of hope for them. The Repubs think this means America is waiting to hear which particular government activist plan they would propose in place of Obama's socialist jihad. The pundits think it means Americans are all confused and everything.

Calm down, everybody. They're all wrong. There's an easy answer that doesn't require any political science maven to discern. The American people are foursquare (110 percent, to use an appropriately cliched sports metaphor) in favor of at least two years of gridlock.

THEY WANT IT ALL TO STOP. They want the whole insane Washington circus to grind to a screeching halt. It's the ultimate limited government statement they're planning to make. The government which does the least does the least harm. And if you don't trust anyone to do little harm, what do you do? You follow Newtonian physics. The exorbitantly destructive force of the Obama agenda has to be counter-balanced by an equal and opposite force -- an obstructionist Republican congress. When that is achieved, neither side will be able to do much of anything, which buys an exhausted electorate two years to think things over.

That's the most they think they can expect or should want for now. They don't want Dems to make the debt and deficit worse with more spending. They don't want Repubs to make the debt and deficit worse with reflexive tax cuts. This election is not about a mandate either way. The plan is that nobody really wins for once but the American people.

Which means both parties, and every single national politician on the stage, win or lose in November, are on ultra-double-secret probation till 2012. I don't care how many seats change hands or don't, or what interpretation the pundits impose on the final 2010 numbers. My election analysis is already the right one, the only one that fits the facts and the mood of the country. Everything the government has done with the economy for the last eight years, at least, has done nothing but make things worse.

The people, in their infinitely ignorant brilliance, have decided that what's needed is for the government to stop doing things so things will stop getting worse. So they'll elect some kind of Republican firewall against Obama's nutty delusions, and that doesn't have to mean they're turning Republican for more than one day in November. They're not deciding the game. They're trying desperately to return to Square One so they can start over. There are no contradictions or paradoxes to be sniffed out here. It all makes perfect sense. Unlike everything that's been happening in Washington, DC, for, well, a long time now.

Any part of this you don't understand, O you inside-the-beltway geniuses? Does this change any of the advice you're presently giving to Democrats and Republicans? It should. But it won't. The right advice is just as unacceptable to the self-proclaimed illuminati as the idea that the American people are smarter than all of you.

The right campaign platform for both parties in 2010.

Told you you wouldn't like it.

Time for a rabid new lobbyist org

Kids tend to think it's funny.

MAWRITES.31.1-23. I should also say Time Out from the momentous affairs of the day. I want to come down like a ton of bricks on something we're all in touch with every day and probably not doing nearly enough about. This is the result of a conversation I had with a young lady I care about who's young enough to be my daughter. She called me on my birthday and I wound up hanging up on her because she was on her cellphone, calling from the highway. Mrs. CP thought I was being harsh. Maybe I was. But I'd do it again. When I spoke with her a few days later about the dangers of phoning, and texting, from her car, she laughed at me. I was stern in return.

Why? Here are the facts as they're presently being represented:

Drivers on Cell Phones Kill Thousands, Snarl Traffic

By Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Senior Writer

Finally, empirical proof you can blame chatty 20-somethings for stop-and-go traffic on the way to work.

A new study confirms that the reaction time of cell phone users slows dramatically, increasing the risk of accidents and tying up traffic in general, and when young adults use cell phones while driving, they're as bad as sleepy septuagenarians.

"If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone," said University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer. "It's like instantly aging a large number of drivers."

This is called "burying the lede." Why? The real analogy is not to old age, which doesn't compute with anyone under the age of 55 or so, but with alcohol:

Traffic jams and death

Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year, according to the journal's publisher, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society...

Drivers talking on cell phones were 18 percent slower to react to brake lights, the new study found. In a minor bright note, they also kept a 12 percent greater following distance. But they also took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. That frustrates everyone.

"Once drivers on cell phones hit the brakes, it takes them longer to get back into the normal flow of traffic," Strayer said. "The net result is they are impeding the overall flow of traffic."

Strayer and his colleagues have been down this road before. In 2001, they found that even hands-free cell phone use distracted drivers. In 2003 they revealed a reason: Drivers look but don't see, because they're distracted by the conversation. The scientists also found previously that chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.

Is drunk driving funny? Ask Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). There have always been thousands of fatalities associated with drunk driving and therefore strict laws against it, but it was MADD that forced an end to lax enforcement and aggressive measures to demonize drunk drivers in the popular culture. I haven't always agreed with the sometimes unconstitutional responses by law enforcement to the tears and fears of MADD (sobriety checkpoints, etc), but I have always appreciated the emotional basis of their campaign. MADD members tend to be those who have lost childen to drunk drivers -- or who might. They are to be forgiven if they push back against the Bill of Rights, and it is the law which is charged with protecting motorists against motherly wrath.

Was that an objective assessment of the current state of affairs? Every approaching holiday now brings a blizzard of ads warning of the dangers, nay the evils, of drunk driving, and every prom season disfigures the campuses of American high schools with bloodstained corpses of cars that were involved in drunk driving accidents. But after a couple of high-profile, controversial ads (meaning we don't want to upset people by running them) in the U.K. and U.S. against the dangers of driving while talking or texting on cellphones, nothing much is happening. This Labor Day weekend, I watched the usual flood of drunk driving ads, which featured floods of alcohol pouring from cars and motorcycle helmets... Clever.

But being an old fart with a better than average memory, I was struck by the "NO commercials" about the desireability of driving to Labor Day destinations without keeping constant tabs on progress via cellphone -- "Are you here yet?" And, being an old and increasingly noisome fart, I'm thinking this kind of silence about dangers everyone on the holiday highway is dodging seems awfully reminiscent of the cavalier attitude in the 1950s and 1960s about drunk driving: "Well, we've all had a few too many at one time or another, so wink, wink, it's not a crime, it's just an occasional unfortunate mess."

Well, I've got a bunch of problems with the current situation.

1) The celebrants of youth in the MSM have gone out of their way to promote the myth of superior multi-tasking by kids who pretend to be doing their homework while simultaneously phoning, texting, listening to music, watching MTV, updating their Facebook pages, tweeting, and flipping off their parents. It's not true and hasn't ever been true. Their homework isn't that hard, their conversations aren't that deep, and their attention is not moving from focus to focus; it's every bit as oblique and abbreviated as the diction of their tweets. They're a menace behind the wheel even before they start texting on the interstate. As they always have been. But we used to be more concerned about their propensity for driving themselves to death.

2) The problem is hardly confined to young people. The last half dozen close calls I've had on the road have been caused by adults -- including "moms" in minivans with cellphones at their ears -- as they merge obliviously from highway entrance ramps, distractedly drive through start-and-stop town and city streets yakking about God knows what, and navigate the most accident-prone zone of all in American driving -- zipping through parking lots, usually diagonally, in defiance of the arrows while they chat, chat, chat on the phone. As far as I'm concerned, "moms" have lost all their moral authority about driving. It was bad enough that they stopped looking in their rearview mirrors and assumed the automatic right of way when they posted the "Baby on Board" stickers in their rear minivan windows. Now that they're driving through the most congested shopping, urban, and residential areas with the phone glued to their ears, probably texting their beloved kids, I'm getting MADD as hell at them. No. It's not a sexist snit. They're endangering my life. And everyone else's. Including their own children. But I can easily imagine them raising a stink if their darlings should ever be exposed to this:

Wouldn't want to traumatize the kids, don't you know. They don't need to see that to learn to be sensible. Right? Their parents will set them straight. Right?

3) I'm not buying the casualty figures cited by the supposedly scientific study. I think they're much much higher than what's being reported. Why? Resentment? Anecdotal evidence of epidemic? No. Common sense. Unless a cop sees a driver on a cellphone and pulls him or her over, which I don't think is happening at anywhere near the rate I see drivers on the phone, there's no way other than confession to link a cellphone call to an accident. The phone itself probably goes flying when an accident occurs or is inescapably imminent. There's no way to test a driver for "driving while calling" after the fact. In short, if driving while talking on a cellphone is the equivalent of driving at 0.08 blood alcohol level, and texting while driving is even worse, maybe 0.15 blood alcohol level, then it's a nationwide crisis that a bunch of us think this circumstance is just funny or relevant only to those other people who don't know how to drive like a multi-tasking modern.

How many fatalities involve cellphones when cellphones aren't even suspected? ("It all happened so quickly, officer.") Given the low level of enforcement and the incredibly high and escalating use of cellphones, I'm thinking the numbers quoted above are pure crap. We're killing each other at a record rate, and it's sorta kinda okay, or forgivable, because we're all doing it. The way we used to have a few martinis and then wend our way homeward like characters in a Cheever story.

That's why I hung up on a girl I'm very fond of. I don't want to see her dead in her coffin, fixed up by the mortician to look like herself, or endure the far worse situation of attending her funeral knowing that others are attending other funerals of her making. This is one of those quiet crises that will never strike home until you become one of the victims.

Why am I so sure it's a crisis?

Here's my personal proof. It's anecdotal, to be sure, but I'm betting your own experience confirms it, which should make it authoritative to you as well. I can't remember the last time I saw some good old redneck in a pickup truck swilling from a beercan or pint of liquor as he drove down the highway. But I see at least two people yakking on a cellphone every time I venture out in my car. (What scares me more is that I can't see the people who are texting below the steering wheel...)

Now. Consider this. The guy with the beer or the pint is breaking the law ipso facto, but he might not even be drunk. Alcohol mixed with driving is a cumulative offense. It takes a few drinks to make you a danger. Cellphone usage is not cumulative. It's a 0.08 blood-alcohol-level impairment every time you see it. At least. Seeing a driver with a cellphone at his or her ear is prima facie evidence equivalent to seeing the blood-alcohol level of a drunk driver flashed at you in neon letters from a chemical processing machine. Guilty.

What do you do? Nothing. Why do you wink at it? Because it is epidemic. Your children do it. Your wives do it. You do it. Well, maybe your wives more than you. Which is why I'm calling for the establishment of a new lobbying organization. We're calling ourselves Fathers Unhinged by Cellphone-Caused Crashes. (Haven't worked out the right acronym yet. Suggestions?) MADD may get mad at us. But guess what?

I couldn't possibly be any MADDer at all the moms I see every fucccing day, putting everyone, including their own children, at risk with their compulsion to blab their lives away with meaningless jabber. On the phone.

UPDATE. Deerhounder is trying to obscure the issue. Nobody said men aren't equally guilty, just less hypocritical about the damage they do by sheer bullshitting. Interesting, though, that Hollywood prefers men as the villains:

What's MOST interesting is that women suddenly go silent on this subject when as a rule they're more than happy to be the ones who talk, talk, talk their way through every situation while men are criminally, uh, silent.

I'm presuming even Hollywood would allow that this kind of tragedy happens to women as well. Show me the clip where the woman is at fault. Doesn't exist? She never admitted it. Men lie badly. Women lie well.

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