Sunday, March 24, 2013

Neuronal Firings

There follows my Sunday column in our local newspaper.

Here’s a collection of mini-thoughts, some generated by emails I get, or from reading letters to the editor, or just popping into my head… 
Guess the Washington Supreme Court read my column on initiatives, right? They agreed with me that you can’t change our constitution by the initiative process. Many letter writers simply don’t get it. For that matter, they don’t get the role of courts, either. 
A reader forwarded a diatribe making rounds among right-wingers, stating, as if meaningful, that Mitt Romney won more square miles and more states than Barack Obama did. Me, I sort of like the idea of elections being won based the number of people casting ballots, as opposed to the amount of dirt they walk on. Last time that wasn’t true in a presidential election, we got George Bush, two disastrous wars and a crashed economy. 
Lots of people don’t know the difference between “debt” and “deficit.” Nor do they show interest in addressing the priorities I raised in discussing proposed solutions. The topic is a major subject-changer. 
Lots of people don’t care much about science, either, whether the subject is climate change or “alternative” medicine. The need to believe certain things, even when facts show otherwise, is powerful and mysterious; but, evidently, very human. 
Speaking of medicine: a well-controlled ten-year study involving 1,800 patients was reported a while back, regarding the efficacy of praying for the sick. Patients recovering from coronary bypass surgery in a critical care unit were divided into three groups: one had no “intervention;” another consisted of people for whom congregations were asked to pray for recovery, but the fact was unknown to the patients; in the final group were those who received prayer, and who were informed of it. In terms of recovery, complications, time in the ICU, there were no differences between the first two groups. The third group fared more poorly. Make of it what you will. 
I’m certain my pre-election column had nothing to do with passage, but I sure enjoyed seeing the coverage of the first same-sex marriages at city hall. My forty-one year marriage still feels solid, and earthquakes have been mild. It remains true that for most people sexual preference is how they were born, meaning that God their creator must be okay with it, too. And now that his kid has come out, so is former marriage equality opponent Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Funny how that works. Until it hits home, empathy is elusive for Congressional Rs, I guess. Wonder what they’d do if a child of theirs came out poor. Or female. 
For the life of me I can’t understand why responsible gun owners would be against background checks at gun shows, a small inconvenience for possibly keeping a gun out of the hands of the wrong guy. That too few of our state legislators had the guts to vote for it shrieks to the disproportionate power of intimidation wielded by the NRA. 
The budget proposed by Paul Ryan and endorsed enthusiastically by Congressional Rs is the same-old same-old, granting ginormous tax breaks to the already wealthy, paying for them by cutting virtually everything necessary to provide opportunity for those not already successful. Or – irony alert! -- those as yet unborn. Per usual, Ryan relies on smoky-mirror and impossible assumptions. And, contra pre-election denials, he’d voucherize Medicare, making it a handout to insurers and a shortfall for those who need it most. What is it with these guys? And what is it with those that elect them? Democrats continue to propose spending cuts. Republicans absolutely rule out revenue increase of any sort. It’s almost as if Rs don’t believe in elections. Or democracy. Or, given their continual and grandstanding blocking of critical, well-qualified appointees, governing. 
Nor do they seem to understand capitalism. House Republicans just unanimously – unanimously!! – voted against increasing minimum wage. Really? Not a single one thinks businesses do better when people have more money in their hands? Hard to be optimistic about the future they envision.Speaking of pessimism: unless people get real about where the costs are in health care, it’ll only get worse. And by “get real” I mean being willing to think about reconciling expectations with realities: economic and medical. That deserves a whole column, and might get it. 
Finally, to a frequent critic: absent supporting data, “I’m right and you’re wrong” isn’t a compelling argument.      
[Image source]


Sam Spade said...

So glad you mentioned alternative medicine! I ran across this and it reminded me of you.

Sid Schwab said...

Sam!!! Good to hear from you!! Howya doing?

That, by the way, is one great Venn diagram.

Sam Spade said...

I'm good thanks, Sid. Congrats on the new daughter! I hope the wedding was wonderful.

I've been following the blog, you know. I bite my lip instead of commenting these days. I have more time and the world seems pretty much the same either way.

With my free time I've entered into torrid affair with the deadlift. Where have you been all my life? Sadly this is the level of personal drama I bring.

In other health news, this is possibly the coolest thing ever. I signed up to be in the trial but no response yet. Fingers crossed!

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