Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Note: I'm experimenting with posting photos. If I can get this to stick I'll publish the accompanying post (which I haven't written yet) soon! Thanks for your patience...all five of you!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Favor of Kids and Their Cochlear Implants

The tax warriors are at it again, and this time it’s personal. We have an eight-year-old daughter who was born deaf and has two cochlear implants which allow her to hear. The reason she has these implants and the necessary technical support that goes with them is that we have fought, fought, fought our insurance providers over their attempts to classify cochlear implants as “hearing aids” and therefore not medically-necessary and therefore none of their concern. They are, of course, correct. Health insurance providers are concerned with making maximum profits, not with childrens’ health. Duh. But that’s the system that’s been forced on us and our kids and trying to wriggle out of their ethical responsibility to cover cochlear implants (a relatively new technology to Pleistocene-era insurance executives who have a tendency towards cannabalism) has been common-scheme robbery for them for a couple decades.

Now it appears that Medicare and Medicaid bureaucrats are feeling the political clout of this hopefully-soon-to-be-extinct species, executes mafiosus, and are giving this sham a try themselves. “In Order To Save Money” (makes you want to kneel down a pray just thinking about it, doesn’t it?) This proposed rule change, to declare certain cochlear implants “medically unnecessary”, would make this technology that should be as universally accessable as cell phones virtually inaccessible to most deaf and hard of hearing kids who depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their healthcare needs.

Yes, I’m overreacting, and no, I don’t have all the factoids right at the tip of my brain ready to do battle with some corporate shill. But anger is a legitimate response to the barrage of crap these bastards keep throwing at us in the name of “austerity for the poor” and below’s all you need to effectively broadside them with your public comment about how they spend your public dollars! A relatively-technical but far-reaching issue like this probably doesn’t get too much response from an unaware public, so even a handful of aware responses could make a difference. My goal is to generate ten.

Please take a minute and visit and use their link CMS' comment site and ask CMS to reject rule change #CMS-1640-P. Pass it on.

My Comments to the Center for Medicaire/Medicaid Services (CMS)
“Regarding CMS-1640-P: My eight-year-old daughter has two cochlear implants and, because of that, can hear. We had to fight, fight, fight with our (various) insurance providers to force them to admit that cochlear implants are not superficial "hearing aids" and therefore not in need of their coverage. I see this proposed rule-change as yet another example of the heartless heavy hand of a soulless industry that should have been banished in 2009 in favor of Medicare-for-all/ Universal coverage, a solution to this despicable healthcare train wreck we suffer under that a large majority of American taxpayers still favor. If you adopt this rule-change, our daughter will suffer, we will suffer and thousands of kids born deaf will never get the chance to hear because their parents simply can't afford this readily-available technology.

As always, the "tax warriors" who wish to impose restrictions like these on citizens favor political expediency over reality and I, as the parent of a deaf child, am getting heartily sick of it! If taxpayers are the only concern in this rule change, as it must be because the kids sure aren't, please consider how much more money it's going to cost to keep thousands of lower-income kids deaf.

Medicare and Medicaid managers: Do your jobs! Quit wasting time and resources with this political pandering to the Crazy Right. Why are you forcing parents like us , who clearly have enough on our plates due to all the local tax-warrioring in our school districts that provide little to no services to our child in order to "save money", to even comment on this nonsense. It's a no-brainer. You work for us and you owe it to the kids to reject this see-through rule change.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Antidote

Funk and Wagnalls Logo


Bigotry has not the capacity.
Superstition the knowledge or discipline.
Fanatics have not the patience.
Intolerance the disposition.
                                                                      “To draw out and twist…
                                                                       To extrude…
                                                                       To whirl or cause to whirl rapidly…
                                                                       A downward spiral motion.”

                                                            Paraphrased definitions from a 1946 Funk and Wagnalls’ Dictionary

When definitions get out of hand --as they surely have these days--when public information becomes less and less so and you have a yearning to recall the sound of reality—as you should—I recommend you find yourself an old dictionary. They are so valuable at countering today’s corporate spin that if the spinmeisters were doing their jobs correctly—which, despite what they constantly tell you, they’re not—we would be bombarded with idiotic messages that old dictionaries are the seditious documents that they are. In fact, by merely taking a rough sampling of our cumulative public discourse and observing its general trajectory, I have no choice but to conclude that things will get so out of hand that our plutocrats and their hirelings will soon find it necessary to locate all remaining “hard copies” of this damning evidence and burn them. That's why I'm posting some of my favorite definitions ahead of time. You can't burn cyberspace...can you?

            I found my old Funk and Wagnalls set in the early eighties at the Missoula dump (as “sanitary landfills” were known in those far-off times). The old guy who leased his land to the city was still allowed to be there in those days, his portable shack stationed at the entrance of whatever fill site was currently being used. Everyone entering the dump was required to pass his inspection before they entered so that he could high-grade their pile of obsolete or broken consumer crap and pull out the still-useable nuggets, which he’d display on the dirt around the shack in the tradition of an open-air flea market, a moveable feast, now extinct.
I forget what I brought up that day—probably a small pile of unredeemable consumer crap--but I remember it was drizzling, and after the old guy gave my pile the nod I parked my van and perused the goodies like I always did when I visited the dump, and there, in the rain and dirt, I found my two-volume set of Funk and Wagnalls’ NEW PRACTICAL STANDARD DICTIONARY. They were still in pretty good condition and, after over thirty years of nearly constant use, they’re still in good enough shape for an old guy to pull out of someone’s unwanted pile of refuse and set aside for a another pass at Being Useful.
America’s Depression-era generation, which this Gatekeeper of Knowledge was a member of, was just emerging from World War Two in 1946 when the volumes were published, and the word “hubris” wasn’t in common use then, because it isn’t in my old Funk and Wagnalls. But it was hubris that put the volumes in the dirt and drizzle there for me to find, and subsequently to endlessly peruse and to cherish as I chased down an old-time thread of a word as though I were reading my grandparents’ minds--which I am. Isn’t it funny?
I sleuth Depression-era insights out of my volumes, along with their antonyms and synonyms which, if you give them enough time, put any e-thesaurus to shame. The lack of definitions for words like hubris only serves to speak volume about that over-serious word and about our over-serious selves. It’s no exaggeration to say that I have loved and used this two-volume set of old books more than any other hundred books in my personal library. They’ve helped shaped my thought. Why not? You gotta start somewhere, and I, for lack of a better imagination, am starting in 1946.
   Think about melting ice caps and the rare-earth minerals now available for exploitation below what by worldly rights should have remained the stomping grounds for polar bears and penguins. Think about Newspeak and the language-o-cide of our tweety techno-spin world we have created for ourselves and have forced our youth to come to terms with. Think about how they’re messing with words these days, horribly so. Isn't it important to draw a baseline in the sand before the whole English language, perhaps our only recourse to counter the P.R. gibberish emitting from a billion cyber-gizmos, gets washed out to sea with the rising shorelines?
An old dictionary is the antidote to the ballyhooing bastards. I rank an old dictionary on the top-tier among our most valuable, ubiquitous and readily-obtainable historical records of what our society used to think, rather than what some seabed-mining monster who bears a striking resemblance to Godzilla or a Koch brother wants you to believe they thought. An old dictionary is usually heavy enough to serve as an anchor, if nothing else. Try anchoring yourself to an “app”.
Anyone who makes their money selling souls by bastardizing language should fear an old dictionary. Think what you want but, please, think.

Note: It appears this website has deemed it proper or proprietary to make it difficult to post photos anymore, even ones I have taken myself. I suppose I'll have to figure it out, and maybe there's an innocent-enough techno-explanation. But don't you think this copyright mania has been carried to culture-killing extremes? The bastards...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guy M. Brandborg (left), Nez Perce Forest, 1930s

"No more fine words. No more nifty websites. Hard deeds. Now.”  Bill McKibben

All who seek to heel the wounds inflicted on the Land by our species
Passively or with hearts purple in anger
You have to know
The reason why so little progress has been made.

There is a spot in your head that—You!--are not using yet.
It must be activated now.

Nobody knows what or where that little spot is
Anymore than the whole combined world of scientists
Knows of the existence of 90% of the species on this Earth
Let alone the name given to them by Catholic.

For the sake of argument
Let’s call it a bit of fat with nerve endings
Or religion
Who cares?
Just dig 

Until you find your way
And then
Figure out the thousand other ways
To give directions to the one in a thousand 
who will give a damn.
because remember:
only one in a thousand 
will give a damn
And that's all that's needed 

From us 
Now! To merely seek the end of a Thousand Paths 
where the stone in the creek lies just right
at the crossing
to be worth the first step across.

Stretch your brain goddamit!
Is all I’m saying.
How else do you think we made it to this sorry point to begin with?
It's been done before
and is not Rocket Science

And by the way
There’s nothing worse
Than a conceited monkey
Don’t you agree?
Evolve, my friends.
Why not?