Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Normally I wouldn't think much about that, but tonight I was aware of how fortunate I am to be able to spend money on non-necessities (though the purchases may make sense in a cost-benefit analysis.) I was brought to this place of gratitude after having a late dinner out yesterday. Some younger friends (and friends of friends) headed out for some late night food and fellowship at a local diner. One of my good friends ordered a cup of tea; another ordered nothing. (The youngest two, an 18 and a 21 year-old, are apparently still to a large extent still on their parents' dime -- they had full meals.)
Two friends, both in their 30's and living independently, said that the economic situation had gotten to the point that they generally could not eat out; in fact, the $37.00 I spent on a few things at the store tonight was equal to each of their weekly food budgets.
When I got my home gas bill (nearly $120 for the month) today, I was a bit annoyed. For my friends and many others out there, such a bill may mean going without dinner, or making due with old ratty clothing for themselves or their children. Or all of the above. They have to decide between keeping their home warm and eating a full meal.
My friends (and more and more other people) are being affected by the economic downturn and the insecurity that brings. One friend makes his living providing "artistic" services which might be non-essential to many -- so customers who are feeling insecure financially are cutting back. And then he has to cut back. This financial insecurity reflects throughout the economy; as more people lose their jobs and more people become financially unstable, more people start to give up hope. And that is not a healthy development for our neighborhoods, our nation, or our world.
Now I had best get back to earning some money.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Most on-board fatalities are due to heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends that "All emergency personnel should be trained and allowed to use a properly maintained defibrillator if they're likely to respond to cardiac arrest victims. This includes all first-responding emergency personnel, both hospital and non-hospital. ***" They also recommend "that AEDs be available wherever large numbers of people congregate.") Use of such AEDs more than double survival rates over CPR alone.)
There is some controversy regarding whether oxygen should be administered routinely to victims of myocardial infarction (heart attack.)
[A]n industry commitment is needed to deploy more modern technology.... A 2001 report on the safety risk of in-flight oxygen by the Oxygen Working Group of the Flight Safety Foundation raised the issue, asking "if current oxygen systems are sufficient in scope and the training extensive enough to counter the new propensities for in-flight emergencies." ***
Many corporate aircraft are equipped to a higher standard, ....
The cockpit crews... generally are provided with adequate emergency oxygen equipment. In a telephone interview, [Garrett] focused her remarks on the emergency equipment cabin attendants may need in the event of a decompression, smoke and/or fire emergency, and on the equipment at hand for passenger first aid:***
For passenger treatment: *** "In a serious medical emergency, it would be preferable to have a minimum flow capacity of 6 LPM, possibly up to 10 LPM by reservoir mask for treatment of frequent events like chest pain," Garrett said. And supplemental oxygen is almost universally one of the first actions taken during an in-flight medical emergency to counter hypoxemia. "If the oxygen isn't on [the passenger] by the time they call us, it is when our doctors get involved," Garrett said.
Given the duration of some flights, and perhaps the need to continue the flight to reach an adequate medical facility, supplemental oxygen may have to be administered to a passenger for hours, not just for a few tens of minutes. Rather than carrying more oxygen bottles, Garret suggested that for this purpose "a therapeutic oxygen outlet could be a standard feature on all passengercarrying aircraft."
These outlets are being installed as an optional feature on more corporate aircraft, and might be offered as a manufacturer's option for airliners.
Inadequate oxygen equipment could increase an operator's liability exposure. Supplemental oxygen is an essential part of some of the most sophisticated "treatment modalities" on the ground. "The airlines are legally being measured against ground standards," Garrett pointed out. ***
[M]ore older and ailing passengers are flying, increasing the need for adequate, reliable and properly administered supplemental oxygen during flight. The problem is not restricted to the old. Children with chronic pulmonary disease are flying.
The term "properly administered" oxygen relates to a training issue. Cabin staff may not be practicing oxygen-related drills often enough for assured proficiency. As an example, it may be useful to look at the time it takes for flight attendants to break out emergency or supplemental oxygen and get it to the passenger. >> MedAire, tel. 480/333-3700; www.medaire.com <<
The above article goes on to discuss the risks of hypoxemia -- oxygen deficiency, which can cause significant impairment of body functions, particularly at higher altitudes, and which is not uncommon.:
"Virtually every study regarding hypoxemia calls for administering oxygen during flight, and during nearly every area of rescue the most valuable therapeutic component was oxygen."
Functioning oxygen does need to be present on commercial flights, as do AEDs - along with personnel properly trained in the use of such equipment during medical emergencies.
The attorney for the medical doctor who had assisted in the care of the passenger, after initially declining comment, has now stated that the defibrillator was not used to "shock" the passenger's heart in that the unit "indicated Desir's heartbeat was too weak for the unit to work."
This story is a good reminder that initial accounts, especially when coming from individuals who are emotionally involved with the situation, may not be fully accurate.
The balance of the original story, from AP accounts, follows.
From the Associated Press
9:07 PM PST, February 24, 2008
NEW YORK -- An American Airlines passenger died after a flight attendant told her he couldn't give her any oxygen and then tried to help her with faulty equipment, including an empty oxygen tank, a relative said.
Desir said she was having trouble breathing and asked for oxygen, but a flight attendant twice refused her request, Oliver said Sunday in a telephone interview.
After the flight attendant refused to administer oxygen to Desir, she became distressed, pleading, "Don't let me die," Oliver recalled.
Other passengers aboard Flight 896 became agitated over the situation, he said, and the flight attendant, apparently after phone consultation with the cockpit, tried to administer oxygen from a portable tank and mask, but the tank was empty.
Two doctors and two nurses were aboard and tried to administer oxygen from a second tank, which also was empty, Oliver said.
Desir was put on the floor, and a nurse tried CPR, to no avail, Oliver said. A "box," possibly a defibrillator, also was applied but didn't function effectively, he said.
Oliver said he then asked for the plane to "land right away so I can get her to a hospital," and the pilot agreed to divert to
Miami, 45 minutes away. But during that time, Desir died, Oliver said.
"Her last words were, 'I cannot breathe,"' he said.
(Image found here.)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
“The American people will find it baffling that on a day that House leaders are trying to put off passing critical legislation to keep us safer from the threat of foreign terrorists overseas, they are spending scarce time to become the first Congress in history to bring contempt charges against a president’s chief of staff and lawyer,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino wrote in an e-mail.What compromise had been offered by the White House to satisfy the desire for Congressional investigation into the purge of "disloyal" U.S. Attorneys?
“If the House had nothing better to do, this futile partisan act would be a waste of time.... The 'people’s House' should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the fantasies of left-wing bloggers.”
White House counsel Fred Fielding has offered to allow senior Bush administration aides to testify behind closed doors, but with no transcript kept and no possibility that these staffers could be subpoenaed again.
Fielding also was overheard telling members of Congress that they should "put in your earplugs, put on your eyeshades, you know where to put the cork."
Article here: House readies for key contempt vote
Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? By PATRICIA COHEN
A popular video on YouTube shows Kellie Pickler, the adorable platinum blonde from “American Idol,” appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?”
Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe was a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”
Such, uh, lack of global awareness is the kind of thing that drives Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason,” up a wall. Ms. Jacoby is one of a number of writers with new books that bemoan the state of American culture.
T. J. Jackson Lears, a cultural historian who edits the quarterly review Raritan, said, “The tendency to this sort of lamentation is perennial in American history,” adding that in periods “when political problems seem intractable or somehow frozen, there is a turn toward cultural issues.”***
But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.
Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.
Ms. Jacoby decided to write her book when she stopped in a bar on 9/11/01 while walking home, "overwhelmed and confused..." and overheard the following conversation between two neatly dressed men in suits:
“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.
The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”
“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor,
and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied."
In part, she lays the blame on a failing educational system. “Although people are going to school more and more years, there’s no evidence that they know more,” she said.
Ms. Jacoby also blames religious fundamentalism’s antipathy toward science, as she grieves over surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution.
Ms. Jacoby doesn’t leave liberals out of her analysis, mentioning the New Left’s attacks on universities in the 1960s, the decision to consign African-American and women’s studies to an “academic ghetto” instead of integrating them into the core curriculum, ponderous musings on rock music and pop culture courses on everything from sitcoms to fat that trivialize college-level learning. ******
Full article at above NY Times link; check out comments on the article there as well. (Of course, comments are always welcomed in the comments section of this blog as well.)
Monday, February 11, 2008
Tom Lantos online office.
Wikipedia entry on Tom Lantos
and, one of the contrary views of Tom Lantos, on war in the Middle East.
Finally, excerpts from the NYT article on Rep. Lantos' death, taken largely if not entirely from the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Tom Lantos, who as a teenager twice escaped from a Nazi-run forced labor camp in Hungary and became the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in Congress, has died. He was 80.***
Lantos, a Democrat who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee, disclosed last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He said at the time that he would serve out his 14th term but would not seek re-election in his Northern California district, which takes in the southwest portion of San Francisco and suburbs to the south including Lantos' home of San Mateo.***
Lantos, who referred to himself as ''an American by choice,'' was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping from the labor camp and coming under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews.
Lantos' mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust.
That background gave Lantos a moral authority unique in Congress and he used it repeatedly to speak out on foreign policy issues, sometimes courting controversy. He was a strong supporter of Israel and a lead advocate for the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war, though he would come to be a strong critic of the Bush administration's strategy there. In 2006 Lantos was one of five members of Congress arrested in a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy over the genocide in Darfur.
He joined the Bush administration in strong support of Israel and was a lead advocate for the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion, though he would become a strong critic of President Bush's handling of the war.***
Lantos, who was elected to the House in 1980, founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1983. In early 2004 he led the first congressional delegation to Libya in more than 30 years, meeting personally with Moammar Gadhafi and urging the Bush administration to show ''good faith'' to the North African leader in his pledge to abandon his nuclear weapons programs. Later that year, President Bush lifted sanctions against Libya.
Tall and dignified, Lantos never lost the accent of his native Hungary, but his courtly demeanor belied the cutting comments he would make in committee if the testimony he heard was not to his liking.
''Morally, you are pygmies,'' he berated top executives of Yahoo Inc. at a hearing he called in November 2007 as they defended their company's involvement in the jailing of a Chinese journalist.
''This is about as believable as Elvis being seen in a K-Mart,'' was his retort to a witness testifying before a subcommittee he headed in 1989 that led a congressional investigation of Reagan-era scandals at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Lantos credited Wallenberg's protection, his own Aryan appearance -- blond hair, blue eyes -- and a good measure of luck with helping him survive the war. But he said that at the time he didn't think he had much of a chance of staying alive.***
''My life today, given my background, is something I cannot believe possible...."
Tad Devine, Vice-President Walter "Fritz" Mondale's delegate counter in 1984 and Al Gore's chief political consultant in the 2000 race, calls on the superdelegates to "back off" -- hold off pledging themselves to any candidate until they can move "as a block" to the candidate who has proven him/herself the strongest candidate for the general election.
Here's a snippet from Devine's OpEd piece in the Sunday NY Times (likely to be abbreviated by me in the future as NYT or NYTimes):
"The superdelegates were never intended to be part of the dash from Iowa to Super Tuesday and beyond. They should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.
"The party’s leaders and elected officials need to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama, the two remarkable candidates who are locked in an intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"If the superdelegates determine the party’s nominee before primary and caucus voters have rendered a clear verdict, Democrats risk losing the trust that we are building with voters today. The perception that the votes of ordinary people don’t count as much as those of the political insiders, who get to pick the nominee in some mythical back room, could hurt our party for decades to come."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Shades of Florida?
From the Seattle Times, January 10, 2008:
Huckabee challenges "dubious" caucus count, sends lawyers here
Posted by David Postman
"Republican Mike Huckabee's campaign is sending attorneys to Washington state to investigate what happened with the count of yesterday's Republican presidential caucus. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued this statement: