Blog Archives

Why do we take medications that can kill us?

Have you noticed on more and more TV commercials for prescription medications that something upsetting appears?  According to law, prescription meds have to state their side effects in advertising, and since I take a lot of prescription meds I monitor these commercials with scrutiny.

A great number of these side effect revelations include such things as depression, sleeplessness, stomach problems or DEATH! So in taking these sleeping pills or pain killers or diabetes medications, the side effect could be that you die.

Does this cause any problems for the medications industry? It looks like doctors have very little trouble prescribing these potential killers… and the TV ads convince many patients to request these from their physicians.

I see no one on the news or in other source material debating this issue, so I wonder if it is important to Americans (it is becoming important to me because I take at least one of these pills.)

Let me hear from you if you have any thoughts on this issue.

Change To Win

I spend most of my time on this blog, lately, pointing out the growing number of things that are destroying our economy, our community, our health and, ultimately, our existence. I’m not sure who listens or believes what is proven over and over. I know many are putting their faith is religion, in second comings, in waiting to be lifted to heaven as the Devil takes over the Earth

Come back to reality, folks. Most of the solutions are fairly clear and require us to put in a great deal of work. We have all got to be ready for it.

I haven’t run one of these videos in some time… but I feel like upping everyone’s will to win:

Got it? I hope so.

… and a quote for the evening from Stephen Hawking:

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

It is a strong statement, and one I agree with.

I missed this one last Wednesday…

… but here it is:

RIP: Dorothy Young, the last-known surviving stage assistant of legendary illusionist Harry Houdinipassed away yesterday at the age of 103.

Young was hired by Houdini at an open casting call which she attended at 17 during a family trip to New York. She spent a year touring with the great escapologist, leaving just two months prior to Houdini’s death in October of 1926.

Young went on to marry a wealthy New York businessman with whom she formed a dance act that became known for inventing the Latin dance “rumbalero.” She also starred in several movies, and published a novel about her time with Houdini.

Interestingly enough, Young’s death occurred a day before her former employer’s 137th birthday, commemorated by Google with a special logo doodle.

Young’s death was announced by Drew University, where she was a prominent donor and patron of the arts. She died wealthy and left a large donation to Drew. Thanks to her0in.chic for the post.

Related Articles

Last Comic Standing finalist Mike DeStefano dies at 44

Comedian Mike DeStefano, best known for his stint on last season’s installment of Last Comic Standing, died yesterday of a heart attack at age 44.

In a statement, his representative said: “We are indeed incredibly saddened by the loss of this amazing man. He had touched the lives of many with his unique brand of comedy and was looking forward to sharing the same with so many more. Mostly, we will all miss his huge heart and incredibly loving and selfless passion for people. Our friend Mike DeStefano passed away on March 6.”

A former heroin addict, DeStefano had been clean for 11 years as well as HIV positive at the time of his death. Prior to competing on “Last Comic Standing,” the Bronx native had appeared on other shows, including “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and Comedy Central‘s “Live at Gotham.” The comic was set to take his one-man show “A Cherry Tree” back to his home borough on Wednesday. He had also recently wrapped up a line of sold-out shows called “Drugs, Disease and Death: A Comedy.”

Dennis Hopper Dies at age 74

Cancer has taken Dennis Hopper today after a long fight.

Dennis Hopper was known primarily as an actor (Rebel Without A Cause, Easy Rider, Blue Velvet) and director, but he was also an accomplished photographer, not to mention a painter, sculptor and art collector.

He had been married 5 times and was known for an explosive temper. In the last years of his life he was broke and not working, although he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two months ago.

Miners Found Dead: Four Missing Miners Found Dead At Upper Big Branch Coal Mine

This ends the search… now what is the mining company going to do to prevent future casualties?
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MONTCOAL, W.Va. — Crews on Saturday were to begin the bleak task of carrying bodies out of a coal mine shattered by an explosion that left 29 men dead, only hours after families’ hopes were crushed when they found out none of the workers survived.
On Saturday, the mood among many people in this swath of coal country was somber.
“It takes something like this to really get your attention, but I think about it everyday,” said James Lipford, 38, who said he has been a miner for 10 years.
The discovery of the final four bodies ended days of futile searches by rescue crews that repeatedly battled a volatile mix of poisonous gases and thick smoke that turned them back on three previous attempts. The massive blast also left the inside of the mine a mess of twisted tracks, boulders and debris.
“We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for,” Gov. Joe Manchin told reporters after meeting with relatives to deliver the news. “So this journey has ended and now the healing will start.”
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Robert Culp dies at age 79

This was unexpected.

Television actor Robert Culp (I Spy, with Bill Cosby,  and other programs) was rushed to Queen of Angels Hospital on Wednesday morning after falling outside his Hollywood home, authorities said. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Culp suffered a fatal blow to the head after falling while taking a walk and was found by a jogger who called 911. Paramedics, patrol officers and detectives responded to the scene.

Police report says this was purely accidental.

Let’s take a look at reality…

When you think that most of the civilized world has universal healthcare…

…and we in the good ole USA don’t, encountering stories like the one about artist Tom Fowler that Cary Tennis tells in Salon makes us regret the corrupt political/commercial alliances that have given us our current situation.

A clip:

Tom had died. He had gotten a toothache. He had gotten a toothache but had not gone to the dentist because he didn’t have health insurance to pay for the dentist. He lived with it. Then he got sick but thought he was OK. Then he collapsed and the emergency medical people came and they told him he should go right into the hospital. But after reviving he said he’d be OK and he went home and made himself some soup. He lasted a couple of more days like that. Then he got really, really sick and they put him in the hospital but by that point the infection that had begun in a tooth had spread massively throughout his body and despite the doctors’ best efforts Tom could not be saved.

He died because he didn’t go to the dentist and didn’t go to the doctor because he was trying to be an artist and didn’t have health insurance and didn’t think it would kill him.

The stupidity of our system is so obvious, yet we are unable to move in the direction that would cure our ills and save our society. We are herded into our corrals by Big Pharma and Monster Insurance Companies and other Corporate Entities which are, by the grace of the Supreme Court, participating citizens in our government… and by politicians whose major goals are 1.) get reelected, 2.) bow to your big donors, and 3.) pretend that you will fix things…soon. Decades go by and the attempts by the few naive and well intentioned amateurs to bring us up to the Rest Of The World Standard in Health Care that appear from time to time get chewed up and spit out and (as Republicans say) we’d better slow down… we’re moving too fast. What’s the Rush?

It has given us our season of distrust. We elected a man on the assumption that things would change. We gave a Congress the majority it needed to make that change. We heard promises and patter designed to keep us believing that something would change. But, in the long run, all we have been is screwed.

And my wife asks me if I didn’t wish we lived in Canada.

A call to prayer… ain’t religion great?

I watched all this yesterday on C-Span 2 and, frankly, I was as outraged as Dick Durbin (D- IL) who said: “This statement goes too far. We are becoming more coarse and divided here … When it reaches a point where we’re praying, asking people to pray, that senators wouldn’t be able to answer the roll call, I think it has crossed the line.”

Here’s a clip from the HuffPo article:

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On Sunday afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) appeared to propose a prayer for Robert Byrd’s death so that health care reform would not pass. Dana Milbank reports at the Washington Post:

At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon — nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation’s passage — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. “What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight,” he said. “That’s what they ought to pray.”
It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads — but without his vote, Democrats wouldn’t have the 60 they needed.
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Durbin called on Coburn to explain the seemingly malevolent call to prayer:

And Politico commented on making the ill Senator Byrd be wheeled in at 1:00 AM:

That followed a 1 a.m. vote Friday morning — and another round of nastiness. At least three Republicans had signaled their intention to vote to end debate on the Pentagon budget, but GOP leaders pressured them to withhold support as a way to gain leverage over the health care legislation.

That decision forced the 92-year-old Byrd to leave his Virginia home and travel to the Capitol to cast the decisive vote. Once he’d done so, the three GOP senators voted to advance the measure — including Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who was greeted by catcalls on the floor when she voted “aye” after Byrd had been wheeled in to vote.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the third-longest-serving senator, called the GOP leadership’s move “inconceivable” and said the incident wouldn’t have happened in the past.

Here we are… the Government Of the People, By the People and For the People… and it is slowly vanishing from the Earth.

Look at what the Insurance Industry gives us:

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Study links 45,000 U.S. deaths to lack of insurance
WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year — one every 12 minutes — in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.
We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction … than drunk driving and homicide combined,” Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.

Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.

The Harvard study, funded by a federal research grant, was published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
It was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors government-backed or “single-payer” health insurance.
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MSNBC says that’s about 5.1 people per hour who die because they have no insurance in this rich, wonderful country.

And Republicans are fine with this!

Patrick Swayze is Dead at 57

patrick-swayzeThis news just came in and Elly and I both said “Oh no!” at the same time.

Of course, we knew Swayze’s Cancer was severe and even in his recent television work he didn’t look well. Swayze told ABC’s Barbara Walters that he hoped to live long enough “until they find a cure,” but he was “not going to chase [the idea of] staying alive….I’ll be here, or I won’t.”

I guess he won’t. Farewell to actor and dancer Patrick Swayze.

Food for Thought from a Slate Article

Now and then you read a post on the web that DOES make you think in a little different direction than you have been thinking.

An example for me is an article I just read in Slate called The Republican Death Machine by Jacob Weisberg.

It takes off with Senator Charles Grassley telling a Town Hall meeting that Obama was going to “Pull the plug on grandma,” and then continues into a new direction:

It was Sen. Grassley himself who rammed the GOP’s most astonishing pro-death policy through the Senate in 2001. The estate-tax revision he championed reduces the estate tax to zero next year. But when the law expires at year’s end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley’s exploding offer has an entirely foreseen if unintended consequence: It’s going to encourage those whose parents and grandparents are worth anything more than a million bucks to get them dead by midnight on Dec. 31, 2010.

Just the idea of some greedy youngsters wanting to make sure Mom and Pop have folded their tents in time for the kiddies to earn the big bucks tax free is chilling. Weisberg goes on with this:

In a 2001 paper titled “Dying To Save Taxes,” Wojciech Kopczuk and Joel Slemrod examined 13 tax changes since 1917 and concluded that “for individuals dying within two weeks of a tax reform, a $10,000 potential tax savings … increases the probability of dying in the lower-tax regime by 1.6 percent.” A 2006 study done in Australia, which abolished its inheritance tax in 1979, reached the same conclusion: “a statistically significant effect of the abolition of inheritance taxes on the number of deaths.” More than half the people who, according to statistics, ordinarily would have paid the Aussie inheritance tax in its final week managed to evade it by living a bit longer. Here, Congress has created an incentive for Grandma to stick around through Jan. 1, 2010, then snuff it before the end of next year.

He discusses Social Security which, since it was enacted, has had the effect that people live longer and it has pushed death rates at ages that were previously high down to more reasonable levels. When Republicans started to campaign for privatizing Social Security, income security for the elderly would probably be lost and death rates would rise at earlier ages. Ah, the joy of statistics!

So the question is:

Why are Republicans trying to kill America’s old people? After all, senior citizens are more likely to vote for the GOP than for Democrats. They were the only substantial demographic segment John McCain won in 2008. You’d think Republicans would want them to hang on as long as possible. The problem is that because of the Democratic programs Social Security and Medicare, the aged are expensive for government to keep around.

Speaking as one of the getting more elderly everyday crowd, it is clear to me why I am a Democrat. And when I hear the folks on the Right push the “Obama is out to get Grandma” routine, I can show that it is the other way ’round.