Monday, March 5, 2012

Introduction to Secrets of the Universe

My thanks to Olalah Njenga for writing the introduction for the book, Secrets of the Universe:
The universe, in all Her majesty and wonder, holds many secrets. Some take a lifetime to discover while others are as obvious as the rising and setting of the sun. In Jon Batson’s latest book, Secrets of the Universe, Jon explores the seemingly mystical witticisms of our everyday living. These witticisms sprinkled generously throughout the book, vary from the candid to confrontational and from the surreal to the sublime.
If you are a mystic, not in the original sense, but in a modern-day interpretation – one who believes that there is great mystery in the world to explore and uncover, you’ll find Secrets of the Universe a refreshing change from the heavy, deep thinking that books of this regard can exhibit. Perhaps you are simply curious about the ways of the Universe yet to be uncovered. If so, you will enjoy the journey as you move effortlessly through the passages of the text.
It could be argued that it is not the Universe that holds secrets, but it is us who hold ignorance in greater regard than the wisdom that the Universe yearns to impart within us. The Universe simply waits for each of us to relinquish our ignorant understanding and open our spirits to a higher level of awareness and a deeper level of self-exploration. Understanding oneself is a journey we often wait until much too late in life to begin and then mourn the wasted years of wisdom now escaped.
Along the journey of life, we ignorantly believe that with age comes wisdom as if somehow the Universe holds Her secrets until we are of an age of certain discernment. In fact, the universal secrets She holds are all around us, arguably from the moment we have a sense of self, She opens her enveloped arms to reveal Her treasures, yet we often remain blissfully ignorant.
Wisdom invites contrary thinking. It invites meaning and musing. Some fear the wisdom of the Universe, for a life of curiosity brings angst. Diane Sawyer, a longtime anchor for ABC News, said “Wake up curious.” Perhaps Ms. Sawyer’s words say exactly what the Universe has been quietly whispering for an eternity. Perhaps the invitation of contrary thinking is an open door, never to close and to forever swing in both directions.
Curiosity is the reflection of wisdom, for without one, the other surely cannot exist. They need each other, no differently than we need air to breathe and food to fuel bodies. Why do we fear the secrets that the Universe holds, when it is our birthright to wake up curious?
Whether you call them secrets, truths or pearls of wisdom, what is true is that the Universe holds the answers we crave. While we desire higher learning, higher understanding and higher education, all that we desperately seek is actually right in front of us. Harnessing the secrets of the Universe takes no more effort than inhaling and listening to the beat of your heart as the air rushes through every cell within your physical being.
The Universe, in all Her majesty and mysticism, does not hold onto Her secrets. These secrets we perceive are nothing more than the absolute truths that She holds in the palm of her benevolent hand. Her hand, always open to us, is ready for our revelation.
Before you endeavor to read Secrets of the Universe, ask yourself, “Do I wake up curious?” If you don’t, put the book away until tomorrow. Then, ask yourself the question again in the morning. Until you wake up curious, the depth of being that this book requires will be lost in the ignorance of the lesser understanding of oneself. If you are not ready for the richness of wisdom, then surely wisdom will never find you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's all about Control

My wife, Eileen just read in the paper that the European Central Bank is guaranteeing loans by smaller banks throughout Europe, to keep them from going under in this time of financial instability.

Aha! So that's why there is financial instability, so that the ECB can come to the rescue. So now all those smaller banks will owe money to the ECB and it will be in control.

And like I said in my conspiracy trilogy: Deadly Research, Research Triangle and Terminal Research, it's all about control.

Gawd! I hate it when I'm right.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Doing a job on Steve Jobs

Marilyn Monroe came along and the world was not the same thereafter. She changed the game for bathing beauties everywhere. It was not long before she was dead of a fatal overdose.
Elvis Presley, AKA The King, came along and the world of music was changed forever. It was not long before he was dead of a fatal overdose.
Michael Jackson came along and became The King of Pop, unstoppable, but he had drug problems of his own. It was not long before he was dead of a fatal overdose.
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, River Phoenix, Heath Ledger: all standouts in their fields, all incredible talents. Where could they have gone if not … well, it's only speculation. But still, I see a pattern forming.
Steve Jobs came along and changed the way we communicate, the way we do business, the way we spend our leisure time, what we had in our pockets, what students carried to class and the whole game. Before he came along, there was the typewriter, the Ozilid machine, the font template, and art was done by hand with a brush and toxic paints. After Steve Jobs, it was all done on the computer. He came along and the world was different.
The terrible thing was that the world was better, and therefore, Steve Jobs had to go. So they threw him out of his own company. What could he do? He started the most successful animated film company ever. He conceived of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. And he got his company back. Take that!
He was also heckled and hounded, badgered and bothered until he was sick. But he beat the sickness. Take that!
He got sick again. And this time the sickness won. Steve Jobs died. He was ten years younger than I am, but then I haven't done anything near as grand, so I am relatively overlooked.
Somewhere in a ragged, overused notebook, in Steve Job's handwriting, are a thousand ideas for a thousand things you and I have not even thought of. They will change the world. Once put into production and released to the public, we will wonder what we ever did without them.
There are people in this world who are evil, who look at someone doing good and want to destroy them. There are people who latch on to a celebrity, an upcoming talent, and seek to bring them down. We should have formed a circle around Steve Jobs and protected him from such people.
You can say, “well, after all, it was cancer. No one can give someone cancer.”
But we don't know that. We don't know enough about cancer yet to say what brings it on or how one gets it. That “no one knows” theory is mighty handy, if you are someone evil and want to get rid of someone who is really making the world a far more interesting place. After all, the old “died of an overdose” line is getting a bit worn, don't you think?
One thing's sure: the man who changed the world is gone. Who will change the world now? I'm sure there are a few who are pretty smart guys and gals who are saying to themselves, “Better not get too effective. Remember Steve Jobs.”
But that's rather the point, isn't it? If you make it dangerous to achieve, the smart ones will stop achieving. The evil people win. And that's the whole idea, to be the one who wins.
Right now you are saying, “That's insane!”
That's right.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Bad Laws Go National: Case Study HB 235


At this writing, a piece of state legislation in Maryland, HB 235, has passed the state House in Annapolis and is poised to be fast-tracked through the state Senate via the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee within a matter of days. Conveniently, there will be no public hearing on the Senate side, because there is no Senate version of the bill. This is not exactly an anomaly, but it’s not Standard Operating Procedure, either. Almost no one likes the bill, as it involves using the force of law to impose cross-dressing, "transgenderism," and a range of related behaviors in public places. As written, the bill appears designed to intimidate average citizens, most of whom, despite Maryland’s liberal bent, still lean, in practice, toward traditional values and standards.

Because HB 235 defines gender identity as “a gender-related identity or appearance of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth,” the bill:

requires Maryland employers, including government agencies, to hire, promote, and include cross-dressers in all facets of the workplace without bias, with business owners facing threats of lawsuit or punishment if, say, men cannot wear dresses to wait on customers.
extends into public schools and day-care centers, which will be legally bound to hire cross-dressers and “transgenders,” if they apply, to teach and work with children.
normalizes "transgenderism," cross-dressing, and related behaviors and incites activists to promote bizarre sexual conduct through diversity-training workshops targeting businesses and school assemblies.
covers real estate transactions — further eroding the right of choice in renting or selling units and homes.
provides for easy access by “transgenders” — and sexual predators — to restrooms in stores, restaurants, schools, day-care facilities and workplaces.
forbids genetic testing to determine the actual sex of any employee or applicant.
It should be noted here that attempting to change one’s sex is biologically impossible, as every human cell’s chromosomes identify one as male or female. While it may be true that secondary sex characteristics occasionally get mixed up, there’s a medical term for that: birth defects. By lumping together homosexuals, exhibitionists and those with bona fide birth deformities (i.e., rare instances in which male babies are born with undersized genitalia or, at onset of puberty, breast development; and females who never menstruate), HB 235 is bureaucratic overkill.
Opponents of the bill are expected to fight it on moral and religious grounds. Advocates backing and promoting HB 235 are counting on that, because it gives them a psychological advantage. They already know that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Bill of Rights provides any stipulation about individuals having a “right” to choose their gender or change their mind about which sex they want to be.

Moreover, undercutting traditional norms and religious beliefs are, for advocates, only spin-off returns from this bill. Proponents have a larger stake — namely, compromising property and ownership rights, thereby diverting more authority to government to regulate people’s lives. Miss this causal relationship, and taxpayers lose — twice.

The fact that there is no Senate version of the bill to debate facilitates the process of taking what is essentially a “pilot project” in Maryland from the blueprint stage to a national mandate. Passage of model legislation in one state serves as a precedent for others. Once a number of states have passed similar bills, the national/federal version is usually a slam-dunk.

That is how the “medicinal” marijuana tactic helped normalize and legitimize marijuana use; how the “civil unions” approach assured passage of same-sex “marriage” in state after state; and how psychological screening of schoolchildren under the cover of health reform made privacy violations part and parcel not only of the educational experience, but normalized interrogations, searches and seizure projects that spread to other demographics.

A prime example is the New Freedom Initiative (NFI). It blazed a trail in federalizing unpopular state initiatives. What began as survey to identify troubled schoolchildren now covers nursing-home residents, pregnant women and others. More significantly, it promotes the use of newer, more expensive antipsychotics and antidepressants as a sop to drug companies which, of course, can bankroll politicians.

Here’s how the scheme worked: A 1995 blueprint called the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) was funded via a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “philanthropic” grant and support from then-governor George W. Bush. While Texas was enacting the TMAP blueprint, Illinois was drafting the national legislative model: Its state legislature passed the $10 million Illinois Children's Mental Health Act creating a Children's Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP), which promptly was picked up, with a phrase changed here and there, by other states. (Such well-coordinated efforts are frequently facilitated by the Commission on Uniform State Laws.) ICMHP required the Illinois State Board of Education to develop and implement a plan that — get this! — incorporated social and emotional standards as part of mandatory Illinois Learning Standards. Social and emotional standards became the benchmarks for universal mental-health screening — the New Freedom Initiative (NFI), ostensibly an early-detection strategy.

By 2004, pre-emptive mental-health screening was ubiquitous, even though it didn't work. President George W. Bush created the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002 and instructed more than 25 federal agencies to develop a nationwide implementation plan based on the old TMAP blueprint (Read "What? Are You Crazy?" by this author). NFI was born. The U.S. Congress passed it by a large majority, making behavioral “health” a priority, with assessment of private opinions, and referrals to psychiatric services. Other states jumped on the bandwagon with their own versions of mental health screening, expecting monetary “incentives.”

Inevitably, such federal incentives to state and local entities translate to government dictating how citizens must live. As columnist and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly stated in her March 2005 analysis of TeenScreen, an integral part of NFI aimed at youth depression, parents find themselves facing coercion and threats from school staff; permanent, stigmatizing labeling of their children; charges of child neglect for refusing privacy-invading surveys; and an avalanche of unproved, even deadly, medications.

What does this have to do with Maryland’s HB 235? Just this: The route to nationalization is following a familiar course, in the name of pre-empting discrimination in housing, education, employment and providing tax-supported social services.

In an effort to explain her support for the bill, Maryland Senator Karen Montgomery wrote to this author in an e-mail that “[t]his bill is just clarifying that it is not acceptable to discriminate against people regardless if it is a choice, part of their genetic make-up, or a ‘shifting psychological state’…. ”

So, HB 235 isn’t about disability. It is a blank check aimed at providing sexual license and, in so doing, also restricting the property rights and decision-making prerogatives of citizens who balk.

Consider: Most people with embarrassing medical conditions do not wear a sign announcing their ailments. An individual with migraine headaches or kidney disease may approach a potential employer with the caveat: “I get migraines and occasionally need to lie down,” or “my kidney condition requires dialysis at specified times. But I'm good at what I do; please hire me anyway." If the job-seeker’s credentials and background are otherwise solid, many employers would go the extra mile.

If, on the other hand, a job-seeker approaches an employer (or an apartment owner) loudly announcing his or her sexual proclivities, then that candidate is a provocateur. In an era when special keys or codes are required to enter an office restroom and abductions and sexual murders by deviants are almost daily news, accommodating exhibitionists is counterproductive — unless, of course, there is another agenda entirely, one that utilizes sexual license as a side-show to divert attention from ulterior motives.

Let’s hope Marylanders see through this one before HB 235 goes from state model to federal law. Right now, most of the advocacy seems to be on the side of the bill’s proponents, while its real originators sit back and watch outraged traditionalists miss the larger issue — again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Got Meds? Not Necessarily, Say U.S. Hospitals

FRIDAY, 03 JUNE 2011 14:37

Over the Memorial Day weekend, while many were getting their first taste of summer — ergo, not reading the news — it was reported that U.S. hospitals were experiencing shortages of both common and specialized drugs, so much so that they are looking for substitutes and combing the globe for overseas suppliers. An Associated Press story announced that some “89 drug shortages occurred in the first three months of this year, according to the University of Utah’s Drug Information Service (UUDIC)…which tracks shortages for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacies.”

Turns out, this is not a new problem. According to Linda S. Tyler, Pharm. D., FASHP, Pharmacy Manager, Drug Information Services, University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics, the first drug shortages in the United States occurred in 1996, during the Clinton Administration, when data collection on the topic began. At the time, there were only five drugs affected, but that number rose swiftly to 20 drugs between 1997 and 2000, according to UUDIC tracking. In 2001 the number of shortages grew to 120, most of which were resolved by the following year because they didn’t rise to the level of adversely affecting hospitals and patient care. Today, that has changed.
Shortages are not only inconvenient, but expensive. Tyler wrote that “[c]hanges in drug supply can alter the way medications are prepared in the pharmacy, the way they are administered to patients, and, in some cases, whether patients receive medications at all.” She estimates that “many organizations spend between one-half and three full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel on the management of drug shortages. These extra FTEs spend their time investigating the reason for the shortage, finding alternative agents, working with wholesalers, finding alternative suppliers, compounding a replacement product internally, or communicating with other practitioners.”

The knee-jerk public response to this news is along the lines of: Do we make anything in this country anymore? Is there anything that is not still outsourced, imported, or subject to rationing?

The real factors are more complicated, and more disturbing. In 2003, Tyler categorized several reasons for shortages, summed up as regulatory issues (7 percent), product discontinuation (20 percent), raw materials issues (8 percent), manufacturing problems (28 percent), and supply-and-demand (10 percent). In her updated publication, Tyler notes that this leaves some 27 percent of shortages unexplained. Deeper, more hidden, reasons include “Grey” Market Vendors, Prime Vendors and Just-in-time Vendors, Industry Consolidations, Market Shifts, Manufacturer Rationing, Restricted Distribution, Manufacturer Discontinuation — and the fact that sometimes drug companies are loathe to reveal the details of shortages for fear of a public, legal or other backlash.

Most of these categories appear to be self-explanatory, although the motives pretty much revolve around demand (read: money). Thus persons with legitimate, but rare, disorders who rely on particular drugs may find their doctors hard-pressed to locate a new source or alternative (the National Association for Rare Disorders helps), while well-hyped, trendy complaints (like attention-deficit “disorder” and depression) see a new pill on the market several times a year. War is certainly a factor, when soldiers require an unexpectedly large quantity of a certain product, creating temporary shortages in the U.S.

But “grey market vendors” are more troublesome. Tyler explains that “the profitability of [certain] pharmaceuticals attracts vendors who [then] create artificial shortages by selectively purchasing excessive quantities of products, … thereby depleting the available stock. These vendors then re-sell the products back to the users at inflated prices.”

“Prime Vendors and Just-in-Time Inventories” are another development that makes for concern. Tyler explains:

The increased use of prime vendors may have contributed to the drug shortage situation by reducing the amount of product available in the supply chain. It is no longer easy to weather shortages by relying on stockpiled inventories because both wholesalers and health systems maintain minimum levels of stock. As a result, manufacturer supply issues are transmitted directly to the user without the benefit of an inventory buffer, thereby increasing the number of short-term shortages that may impact [larger] institutions.

The practice of maintaining minimum supply levels could be disastrous, especially as we contemplate bio- and chemical weapon attacks, not to mention out-sized, super-toxic strains of E. coli that have now killed some 18 Europeans and sickened 1,600 via an unknown, salad-vegetable-borne contaminant. Persons who get any E. coli infection can suffer horribly (somewhat reminiscent of Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola)/Renal Syndrome [HFRS]), as this one attacks the kidneys, too, and is apparently drug-resistant.

Furthermore, many of the drugs that are ubiquitous and easy to get are also the most misleading (e.g., Exedrin Migraine and Extra Strength Exedrin contain identical ingredients, including the percentages of each compound; Eli Lilly’s antidepressant Prozac gets only a new color (pink) and a new name (Sarafem) for treatment of so-called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), dubbed a mental illness in women.

Warehousing medicines are not in the same category as warehousing books. A case can be made for no longer warehousing books, as computerized printing and the Internet have made doing so unnecessary, given easy on-demand operations. Warehousing medicines, however, is critical, even as a stop-gap measure until a better drug can be researched.

Moreover, the medical and pharmaceutical community may need to work to get a handle on the supply-and-demand problem quickly, giving the heave-ho to misrepresented drugs and quick approval and distribution for critical ones, including those for rare diseases. Shortages are not an option.

Conservatives Lose Ground on Social Issues

The Agenda Game: Part I -

Conservatives and traditionalists appear to be hopelessly outclassed when it comes to organizing and strategy. How else to explain the lack of bang for the conservative buck, even with umpteen nonprofits, volunteer groups and lobbying organizations devoted to promoting a traditional approach to social issues? Inboxes overflow with “urgent” admonitions to contact members of Congress over one issue after another: the Defense of Marriage Act, gays in the military, women on submarines, pro-homosexual curricula. This past May, it was the politically-correct censorship of six year-olds (“Candy Cane Case”) and transgendered classrooms.

The very concept of marriage now appears to be in trouble—a cornerstone of the pro-family, conservative movement—even as celebrities brag on and on about conceiving out of wedlock. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, in an interview just published in WORLD magazine, allowed that pro-family leaders probably are losing the battle for traditional marriage among younger generations of Americans, “as casual ‘hookups’ continue to replace the romance of dating”. A combination of factors has contributed to this result: teen magazine articles; hypersexual advertising; and age-inappropriate, graphic sex education. The one in four girls reported to have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 2008 hasn’t changed much from year to year—a little more among some demographics one year, a little less in others.

Any way you look at it, promiscuity is pervasive, and risky sexual behaviors increasingly are expected and normalized, despite the emotional and physical toll on girls, in particular.

Then, there are ongoing issues like crime, low academic performance, loss of personal privacy, the practice of sending naughty and/or “slow” children to psychiatrists for therapy and drugs, human trafficking and dozens more that have seen little or no gain for traditionalists since heaven-knows-when.

Even when we win one, it’s soon back to Square One. For example, the organization MassResistance gleefully reported May 23, that Kevin Jennings will be leaving his post as the U.S. Department of Education’s “Safe Schools Czar” this coming July. Jennings has been the driving force behind pro-homosexual curricula and “tolerance,” as well as founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN), which has so much money invested in getting its message out that it even managed to register-trademark (®) its own slogan. Jennings is credited with helping to introduce Bill 4530 in Congress that would require normalization of homosexuality, transgenderism, cross-dressing, etc., in America’s public schools. (Two copycat “transgender” bills at the state level are already taking a toll in California schools; AB 433 and SB 48 are poised to be passed by the California Legislature, but at least one elementary school in Oakland is already indoctrinating kids starting in kindergarten about “gender diversity.”)

No sooner had Jennings announced he was exiting as Safe Schools “czar,” than he was slated to head up an outfit called Be the Change, described by MassResistance as “a turbo-charged community-organizing organization founded by well-known Massachusetts liberal activist Alan Khazei,” who is poised to run for U.S. Senate against a Republican. Khazei, a fellow whom most conservatives never heard of, founded City Year in 1998 as a program for organizing youth, in the spirit of Hitler’s Youth and the communists’ Comintern and Young Pioneers, his goal being to “put their idealism to work” through “community transformation.” (This is the type of “community activism” Barack Obama cut his teeth on in Chicago.) The organization now has 22 offices across the US, and also in places as far removed as London and South Africa, given its slew of high-profile corporate sponsors. Jennings’ new role will not only give him access to Khazei’s fortune and influence, although he may have had it all along, but he will now be poised to include adults and take City Year to even greater heights once he takes the reigns of Be the Change.

With the 2012 election less than a year and a half away, conservatives are asking why things like this keep happening. Why, they wonder, can’t conservatives slam the lid shut whenever a new radical activist-turned-“expert” comes out of the woodwork?

They are finding that, just as housing prices are all about location, location, location, success in politics is all about strategy, strategy, strategy. Conservatives keep trying to recycle the same strategies—and sometimes even the same candidates—year after year. That is one factor in the rise of the Tea Party: the feeling that it’s time for some new blood.

It’s not that conservative ideals are blown off by the public—in fact, most Americans, when push comes to shove, actually identify more with the traditional social mores than not. Polls show that most people value their privacy; they don’t want to be snooped on. They zealously guard what they see as personal property. They expect schools to turn out knowledgeable kids and to instill discipline, not just kids who will be “team players.” They still admire the traditional white wedding, and they’re a bit squeamish about sharing bathroom and sleeping quarters with homosexuals.

So, what exactly is the problem?

It’s the hostile political environment. By the mid-1980s, even with the Reagan Revolution in full gear, the Marxists and anarchists of the 1960s had been trained to carry the day. They became the wealthy, the focused, the movers and shakers. They knew exactly how, and where, to invest their money (media, media, media) and learned to push conservatives’ hot buttons over and over so that traditionalists were left flailing about, hopelessly divided, at each other’s throats, disorganized and angry.

For 35 years, the left has used “the dog-bone strategy.” It tosses one outrageous issue after another to conservatives, and the conservatives always bite. Today, “medicinal” marijuana, tomorrow government bail-outs, the next day gay pride, and the day after that universal government health care. Pretty soon conservatives are left sputtering, grasping at straws, desperately latching on to something they hope will be the issue that carries them to victory—Medicare, school “standards,” energy shortages, taxes. They rarely have time to think anything through, so as to have something substantial to bring to the public table. Just about the time they do get a proposal together, they get kicked into another outrageous “crisis” that must be addressed—right now!

Every month, conservatives must seize a new crisis—climate change, the deficit, sex scandals—launching yet another pitiful exhibition of outrage, while the left-wing laughs all the way to …well, the presidency.

Many conservatives now realize they need to change the dynamics of this game. They know they must take the debate—and the agenda—away from the Left and devise a means of getting the leftist-liberal-anarchist cabal to debate on conservative turf. To do that, conservatives must first figure out where the conservative turf is.

That topic will be taken up in Part II in this series.