Caught My Attention

Without much comment, stuff that attracted my attention for some reason.


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How come nobody who has hubris knows it? - Jane Juska in A Round-Heeled Woman

If we take [Rand Paul] at his word, he should move against the biggest obstacles to liberty and limited government in the federal budget: Social Security and Medicare. Since 1966, those two mandatory programs for old people have grown from 16 percent of the federal budget to nearly 40 percent. Medicare now covers about 45 million people. Those deficit-contributing citizens, all those people at Dr. Paul�s rallies with spare time on their hands, would be a logical target.


Where is the Tea Party anger at these mostly red-county, fat-cat freeloaders who�ve been given nearly $250 billion in handouts over the last 15 years? I wait for the credible conservative candidate to make the case that taxpayers should not be stuffing nearly a quarter-trillion dollars into the pockets of people who keep high-fructose corn syrup in the American diet.

Timothy Egan, NY Times, May 19,2010

I've been trying to understand the tea party movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that - although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. - San Jose Mercury News, April 25, 2010

And while critics have called some of [the tea party] supporters extreme, simplistic and hypocritical, the movement has drawn the likes of Sarah Palin and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck. - SJ Merc, April 15, 2010

"[Meg Whitman]'s vomiting money," said one media consultant who didn't want to be quoted by name because, well, he'd like to one day get in on the action. "It's overkill." - SJ Merc, March 28, 2010

Senate Sergant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer e-mailed senators and staffers Wednesday telling them to "remain vigilant." He said in an interview that the warning was meant to "assuage people's fears." - SJ Merc, March 25, 2010

Those same firms, [President Obama] said, which are "now handing out more money in bonuses and compensation than ever before in history, are now pleading poverty. It's a sight to see." - SJ Merc, Jan 17, 2010

Imagine 10,000 women age 40. Over the next 10 years, without mammogram screening, about 35 will die of breast cancer. With screening, 30 will die - five fewer. But of 10,000 getting screened, 600 to 2,000 will have at least one false positive leading to a biopsy, and 10 to 50 will be overdiagnosed. They will be told they have cancer, and they will undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, which can only hurt them since their cancer was never destined to cause symptoms or death. - Lisa Schwartz, Science News February 13, 2010

About 16 percent of Americans believe in the "evil eye" - that certain people can cast curses or spells. More than 1 in 10 white evangelicals who attend church weekly and 3 in 10 black Protestants believe in the phenomenon, which can be found in Islam, Judaism and traditional African beliefs. - SJ Merc News, Dec 10, 2009

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are." -- Somerset Maugham

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. - Einstein

Other people deserve to be warned more than sociopaths deserve to have you keep their secrets. - Martha Stout

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

"I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."

It is not the individual who typically makes major health insurance decisions but an employer's human resources department... A recent seven-nation study by the Commonwealth Fund found that people in advanced economies with single-payer coverage are substantially more satisfied with their health insurance than are American's today. A study published in the journal Health Affairs shows that elderly beneficiaries in Medicare (a U.S. government program) are 2.7 times more likely than those with private insurance plans to rate their health insurance coverage as "excellent." - SJ Merc 8/23/2009

In fact, bad activities often generate more GDP than good activities... In short, the more recklessly we use up natural resources, the more the GDP grows. As the economist Herman Daly once put it: "The current national accounting system treats the Earth as a business in liquidation." Or as three other leading economists dryly observed in an article in the Atlantic Monthly last year: "By the curious standard of the GDP, the nation's economic hero is a terminal cancer patient who is going through a costly divorce." - Bill Bryson in I'm a Stranger Here Myself

And why do we eat the few meager foods we do? Because, according to Wilson, those were the foods that were cultivated by our Neolithic ancestors ten thousand or so years ago when they first got the hang of agriculture. The very same is true of husbandry. The animals we raise for food today are not eaten because they are especially nutritious or delectable but because they were the ones first domesticated in the Stone Age. - Bill Bryson describing work by Edward O. Wilson in I'm a Stranger Here Myself

California's corporate tax rate, at 8.84 percent, is ninth-highest in the nation. It's top bracket-income tax is at 10.55 percent, second only to Hawaii's 11 percent. And its 8.25 percent sales tax is second only to Massachusetts. But there are other ways to determine the tax burden on businesses and the wealthy. A study by giant auditing firm Ernst & Young showed that, as of 2007, businesses in 34 states paid a higher share of overall tax collections than in California. California ranked 17th in tax collections as a percentage of income in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available. That's a more accurate reflection of effective tax burden, say Justin Garosi, an economist with the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office...

Even after the last round of tax increases approved in February, Californians in the top 1 percent - those making $2.3 million or more - pay only 7.8 percent of their income in state taxes, while those in the lowest rungs - making $20,000 or less - pay more than 11 percent...

Specially designated "enterprise zones" get nearly $500 million in tax breaks, benefitting companies like Wal-Mart that locate their distribution centers in those areas. Businesses are able to avoid taxes on gains from the sale of commercial property, at a cost to the state of $350 million. And California stands alone in giving oil companies a pass on taxes for oil production, leaving about $1.3 billion in the companies' pockets.

- SJ Merc News 6/15/2009

Homeopathy sprang from the inventive mind of German physician and chemist Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s. Experimenting on himself, he became convinced that if an ingredient causes a symptom in a healthy person, it will treat the disease that causes the same symptom. He also theorized that diluting ingredients to minuscule, even untraceable, concentrations paradoxically makes them more powerful. In 1938, Congress passed a law granting homeopathic remedies the same legal status as regular pharmaceuticals. The Law's principal author was Sen. Royal Copeland of New York, a trained homeopath. "He did it in such a sneaky way that nobody really noticed or paid attention," said medical author Natalie Robins...Very often, the only active ingredient is alcohol, and patients don't know that, and they get a buzz on. The therapeutic effect is no greater or less than a martini," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, an expert in pharmaceutical safety at Harvard Medical School...Active homeopathic ingredients are typically diluted down to 1 part per million or less, but some are present in much higher concentrations. The active ingredient in Zicam is 2 parts per 100. The FDA has set strict limits for alcohol in medicine, especially for small children, but they don't apply to homeopathic remedies. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said no medicine should carry more than 5 percent alcohol. The FDA has acknowledged that some homeopathic syrups far surpass 10 percent alcohol. - SJ Merc News 6/18/2009

I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs - including my own - on nonbelievers. - Barack Hussein Obama

In St. Louis the bow tie was characterized as "very Charlie McCarthy," while in Chicago a young man defined it as "the pierced eyebrow of the Republican party." ... It's a pretty sorry world when wearing a bow tie amounts to being "out there." I'm just not sure which is worse, the people who consider it out there that someone's wearing a bow tie, or the person who thinks he's out there for wearing it. ... It was my friend Frank, a writer in San Francisco, who finally set me straight. When asked about my new look he put down his fork and stared at me for a few moments. "A bow tie announces to the world that you can no longer get an erection." [LOL - ed] - David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Letter to Merc News Answer Line - Our family would like to seek your help in preventing the experience we had from happening to other people. Our 91-year-old aunt, never married, was admitted to Regional Medical Center for a hip fracture Jan. 27. We just found out Feb 25 that she passed away Jan 30, which is 27 days after.  blah blah blah What can we do to keep this from happening again?

My Answer: Don't wait a month to go visit you dear aunt when she is admitted to the hospital with a broken hip!!!

Queried about eavesdropping, Stefan Tafrov, Bulgaria's representative to the UN, told CBS News that there is actually a "prestige factor" in being listened to, as one's maneuverings must be of some consequence to attract such attention. He added, "It's almost an insult if they don't listen." - Chatter

"It is an axiom, or article of faith, that the best way to structure society is to maximize openness and democratic procedures, to offer a robust deliberative process. The question is not why information should be open, it's why shouldn't it be open. Everything should be open unless there is a good articulable reason why is shouldn't be. So I resist the question why should this be disclosed." - Chatter

In 1998, the Supreme Court concluded that "there is simply no way to know in a particular case whether a polygraph examiner's conclusion is accurate, because certain doubts and uncertainties plague even the best polygraph exams." - Chatter [And the rest of the Western world thinks we're nuts to use polygraphs. The rest of the world believes "lie-detector" tests are scientifically proven to be crap. - ed]

California teachers - the nations highest paid, with salaries about 25 percent above the national average - are emblematic of the grip government employees unions have on the state. - SJ Merc News 5/3/2009

To peel a grapefruit cleanly, including its pith, boil it for 5 minutes first. - SJ Merc News 5/22/2009

But for those of us who believe that government has a role to play in promoting opportunity and prosperity for all Americans, a polarized electorate isn't good enough. Eking out a bare Democratic majority isn't good enough. What's needed is a broad majority of Americans - Democrats, Republicans, and independents of good will - who are reengaged in the project of national renewal, and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interests of others. - Barack Hussein Obama

In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments about how we draw the line when it comes to government action. That is how our democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect: if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their rights to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship. - Barak Hussein Obama

"Make these changes," the senator told Rove, "and not only will I vote for the bill, but I guarantee you'll get seventy votes out of the Senate." "We don't want seventy votes," Rove reportedly replied. "We want fifty-one." - Barack Hussein Obama in The Audacity of Hope

What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God's will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all... For those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do, such rules of engagement may seem just one more example of the tyranny of the secular and material worlds over the sacred and eternal. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Almost by definition, faith and reason operate in different domains and involve different paths to discerning truth. - Barack Hussein Obama. [And if you don't like that, then remove yourself from these great United States and join some intolerant nation state that better suits you. But you should make sure that fascist nation really agrees with your values or else you'll be in a world of hurt. - ed]