Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health Care as it Should Be

Here is health care info by country;

United Kingdom: 8.2% of GDP spent on health care; physician and hospital services are free to all permanent residents.

Sweden: spends 9.2% of GDP on health care.

Netherlands: 9.2% of GDP spent on health care.

Australia: Spends 8.8% of GDP on health care.

United States: 15.2% of GDP on health care.

Canada: 9.8% of GDP on health care. Has a single payer system.

Japan: 8.2% of GDP on health care.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Public Enemies"

Saw this movie recently, the first movie I've seen in a theater in years. My brother and I saw it while on a camping trip; we went into the little town of Delaware and found a wonderful old theater in the downtown area there.

The problem which immediately comes to mind about the movie is that in the gunfight scenes it is hard to distinguish between the law enforcement men and the criminal gang. The camera jumps around between one shot and another, and everybody is wearing suits, so it is nigh unto impossible to tell what is supposed to be going on. When I mentioned to my nephew that it was "hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys", he responded, "who were the good guys and who were the bad guys".

This got me to thinking that maybe that was the point, the law enforcement officers had become just like the criminal gang; it was like two gangs were fighting it out for protection of their turf. This is in fact what happened in 1934; all the criminals the FBI was going after were gunned down in cold blood, with none being brought to justice. Pretty Boy Floyd was gunned down in Ohio in October; Baby Face Nelson was gunned down outside Chicago the next month; Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in Louisiana in May (even though Bonnie was not even a wanted fugitive); and finally, John Dillinger was killed outside a Chicago theater in July, having been betrayed by the infamous woman in red (who according to the film the FBI in turn betrayed by not preventing her extradition as promised).

The point is that in a free, democratic society, the cops have to adhere to proper standards; if they get down in the gutter and become just like the bad guys, then we have sacrificed our values and our freedoms. If President Bush understood this principle, he would not have invaded Iraq and would not have sanctioned torture. If Dick Cheney had understood this, then........well, this list would be endless.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gates Case

The Harvard professor who was arrested in his own home has been in the news lately. But I believe the most relevant angle of this case has been overlooked thus far. This is that the professor was arrested for the crime of "disorderly conduct". This is what the police arrest people for when they can't think of any crime to arrest them for. It is rarely the only reason for an arrest, as it was here; rather, it is usually added onto a list of other charges, when the suspect does not cooperate with the police, or is creating a disturbance and won't calm down when told to.

As the officer stated in his own report (stating the law involved), he arrested Gates for "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space." Ah, a public place. But Gates was in his own home!! The standard should be much higher for handcuffing and arresting someone who is in his own home. I believe the officer used extremely poor judgment in arresting a man in his own home as he did, on the pretext that the man was creating a "public disturbance". And it is surely true that a Black man has far more likelihood of being subject to this type of harassment that a White man does.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Famous Chapman Oak

Recently my dad told me of how Bluffton University's Rosenberger Drive was re-routed to save a rare white oak tree. The original design had the road going straight through from between Founders Hall and Lincoln Hall to Elm Street, but Ollie Diller, the board chairman and a tree expert, insisted the road be re-routed to save this tree. Dad said the architect of the road couldn't understand why a road would be rerouted to save a tree, but the design was changed and the tree saved.

When my sister Louise was here in June she and I went out to try to find this tree. All we knew was that there was a jog in Rosenberger Drive where the tree was situated, so we looked at the jogs but we found nothing. I believe the three of us also went out one day with no luck. Then one day Dad announced he had found it, and the three of us went out to look at it. It turns out the tree is much closer to Founder's Hall than where Louise and I had been looking. The "jog" in question is right after the road starts between Founders and Lincoln. The tree is right at the corner of the tennis courts located behind Lincoln Hall. Anyway, there were no leaves low enough to be picked, and it appeared that a stepladder was needed to get a leaf.

Today Dad stopped by and we went to look at the tree, stopping at the house to get a stepladder. I carried it over to the tree and got a leaf. Back home, I have checked everything I can and I am 99% certain that it is a Chapman Oak. Based solely on the shape of the leaf, I would be only 80-90% sure. But one source mentioned the leaves were "leathery", which fits this leaf perfectly, so based on that I feel 99% sure it is a Chapman Oak.

A maintenance man who happened to be passing by ventured the opinion that it was a "Pensacola oak". A google search of this revealed nothing, but I see now that the habitat is Florida/Georgia, so it is possible that "Pensacola oak" is a nickname based on the natural habitat of this tree.