August, 2016

Aug 16

Open Carry and Meth–Welcome to Washington State

Having just moved to Washington State, I was surprised to see a young guy with a big Glock semi-auto pistol in a holster on his hip in the convenience store where we stopped for gas. Kid was no cop or soldier.

I asked my guitar player about it, as he filled the tank; he said, “Yup, this is Washington. We got open carry here.” I looked it up: “Open carry is lawful in Washington without any permit.” This is a bit unsettling–but what was more unsettling was the guy who was carrying. He was a muscular young man in paramilitary cammie trousers, his buzzcut head in one of those pillbox-with-a-bill type green military caps, Young Militia Billy was twitching, walking back and forth in front of a case displaying readymade burritos. “What’s in those?” he asked the counterman, pointing at the burritos with a trembling finger. His voice was flat, taut, the words coming out doublefast. “I don’t think I should eat those. They probably have something in them I shouldn’t eat.I’ve got food at home. Yeah I’ve got food at home.” Then he and his Glock quick-marched to the door and rushed out to his truck. He backed that pickup out fast and it roared away.

There was no doubt in my mind the kid was on amphetamines. Just the guy, I thought, we want with a big loaded pistol on his hip.

Just before we left, a lady pointed out a large praying mantis, on a the curb by a fuel pump. Said someone should take it home and put it in their garden. I caught the lime-green mantis and carried it over to some bushes and put him in there…That was my first Washington praying mantis, too…

Aug 16

Stuff that social-conservative Christians apparently believe is in the Bible

“Ye shall not enter into a legal contract relating to the act of marrying a person of thine own gender, for to do that does annoy the Lord, and He fumes upon ye.” – Imaginarians 5: 33

“Do not stray from interpreting Holy Writ literally, even as ye perceive contradictions, and are commanded to kill with stones those who labor upon the Sabbath,and even as ye are condemned for eating shellfish, verily shall you shut up and just read it literally, or the Darkness will consume thee.” Imaginarians 888:442

“Neither shall ye ask for birth control from Planned Parenthood, for the use of pills to evade the slavery of parenthood displeases the Lord, who prefers you to stay busy watching thy offspring, even should thou despiseth the father; even shall ye be condemned for the use of condoms, see thou above.” Imaginarians 7999:834

“Whosoever says, we should follow the ways of Christ and not impose hardship on the poor, nor should we raise up the wealthy, shall be cast out, and called bloodsucking Communist, and reviled.” Imaginarians 8,934,772:9894

“For truly, though parable is extant throughout the Word of God, thou must upon pain of Hellfire assume that Genesis happened Just Like That, even unto the apple eating and the snake and the surprisingly few generations since then, and so it is written. Neither shall ye question the necessary volume of Noah’s Ark.” Imaginarians 77:88 and 1/2

“For the lord sayeth evolution is not a thing, nor raise thou the possibility.” Imaginarians 1:22

“For truly the Founding Fathers, of that Blessed Land America, were Christians all, and submitteth they to the Writ of the Bible, unto all eternity.” Imaginarians 7:999299.3

“Verily I say unto you, if you are a dude who dresses like a lady at work, or any place else, except secretly in thy home, the Lord is displeased.” — Imaginarians 1:1

Aug 16

Video Exams in Medicine: The Latest Medical Corner-Cutting

Another relatively new aspect of our sickly medical establishment here–video “exams”. Kaiser Permanente (in some ways not bad as these big American medical organizations go) has been pushing patients into five-minute follow up “exams” that are done purely through video on your phone or computer. The doctor presumably asks a few questions and confirms you’re still breathing because he can see you talking to him, and that’s the exam. Do they bill the patient a co pay for this? “Not this year” I was told. The person I asked implied they planned to start doing that. You could have to pay a co-pay for a “video exam”.

By the way, suppose you have something that may be hemorrhoids or a tumor, do you drop trou and spread cheeks to the video cam for the doc’s opinion? Will gynecologists look for yeast infection this way? Will you put a string on your phone and lower it down your gullet for a throat exam?

*Why not simply speak on the phone*? You can’t make a determination about anything except maybe a broken arm where the bone is sticking out, on a webcam. The problem is they’ll call it an exam but it isn’t really one. It’s just a way to save them money and still bill. Video exams could be useful for special situations–a friend just told me about one–but as a general all-around replacement for follow up in person exams, I think they’re just a device the company uses to cut corners.

Aug 16

Those Pretty Girls Who Want Your Friendship on Facebook

Nothing better demonstrates the male tendency to noticeably lose IQ points when even slightly sexually aroused than the prevalence of fake Facebook accounts displaying pictures of pretty, sexy girls; accounts which invariably have many “friendings” and post-likes from some very sad males. As a person with a common male first name, I get several of these “friend requests” a week. The latest one is from “Christine Malcolm”. It’s typical of the majority: the pretty girl, with exposed shoulders, cleavage, lots of lipstick, doe-like melting gaze, appears as the profile picture, and same or similar pic accompanying first the only post. This latest one’s statement with the post is “Uhhhh….” Not kidding. This statement got several likes from men who remarked on her sylphic beauty, called her baby, and so on. Other such accounts have names like “Melody Johnson” or “Meredith Christismith”. Sometimes the girls in the photos are taking off their tops but haven’t quite got them off.

Occasionally the false-account composers toss in a more appealing line with the post like, “So lonely”. Sometimes the poster, who is a spammer or con artist fishing for suckers, will remember to put a few memes in, like, “I Love The World But Does It Love Me?” Or “I Just Like to Go For It, And See How Far It Goes” with a picture of a leaping leopard on it…

Pressed for time–the spammers have to send out an enormous number of these every day–they’ll screw up the name. It’ll say “Betty John” or “Susan Eric” or “Eric Susan” or “Stein Emily”. If they’re in certain foreign places they really are not certain which name should go where. Salivating men, of all ages, blindly accept the invitation and, if they’re really slick, the guys send smiling pics and say clever things like, “Where do you live?”

Aug 16

The Man Who Slowly Bled to Death on the Busy Street

I keep thinking about a BBCnews radio report I heard about a man in an Indian city sideswiped by a van. He was knocked down, injured badly, bleeding. The van driver got out, looked at him, then got in the van and went his way. Crowds of people passed the injured man for the next hour–it’s on some surveillance camera in a nearby window–and many looked at him but no one stopped to help, or called the authorities. Blood spread in a pool out from the man. Eventually he bled to death.

The report indicated that these incidents happen fairly often there–they happen here too, at times. In Oakland after the earthquake here were people looting cars in which injured people were crying for help. A documentary about enslaved sex workers in America described an abducted girl screaming for help as her brand new pimp beat her for resisting her first “customer”–and this happened in a busy truck stop parking lot. But apparently ignoring the injured is not unusual in India. (It’s also a place where people perennially ignore the enormous number of children who die of dysentery from quite preventable causes, preventable if local politicians spent a relatively small amount of money.)

The government in India, appalled by this especially egregious incident, decided to start offering cash rewards to people who help others injured on the street. Asked why they need to motivate Good Samaritans financially–the govt official explained the underlying truth. These people might’ve helped, except they’re afraid of the local police. The police in India have a long history of harassing those who call in to help the injured. The person reporting the problem would be harshly questioned and might be detained for days. A law was passed to prevent the police from doing this, but people either don’t know about the law or doubt the police will change.

But that doesn’t mean people bypassing the man who bled to death should not to be held accountable. We understand them better, having heard the history. Yet they are still in the wrong. And this whole syndrome, this spreading attitude of “we’ll help only up to a point, unless there is risk to us” is widespread through the world. Judgment calls about how much we can help are made regarding Syrian refugees. The risks to us are substantial–but we should help anyway. Because a man is bleeding to death on the street.

Aug 16

As I Chased Them Down The Sidewalk

Last night walking my dogs I had to stop and clean up after one of them, and doing this, because of the awkward circs, I let go of their leashes a moment because NORMALLY they’re good dogs and stay close by me and it’s no problem. But it was a dark street on a dark night, and the dogs do startle, and suddenly a guy came looming up out of the darkness, clop clop clop clop running straight at us–just a jogger, shirtless, booking along pretty fast. The startled dogs launched after the guy, barking, dragging their leashes as they chased him, our small dogs loudly shouting in growf-rowf protest at him. He was quite visibly speeding up. I was soon running after them, yelling “Iggy, Daisy, get back here, stop that!” Waving my bag of dog poop as I went. I also yelled at the jogger: “They don’t really bite! They’re just startled! Sorry!”

At last they obeyed and the guy vanished into the night. I lectured the dogs. They were like, “But we were startled and…and…he was…dangerous or…or something…”

I sometimes forget they’re little animals, descended from wild creatures, never going to be perfectly tame. I look around at the world and I remember that we’re animals too, and we’re never going to be perfectly tame. And we startle, and react and launch ourselves barking and growfing and snapping, dragging our leashes…