Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why do Canadians care about the U,S. Health Care Bill?

I was sitting with a group of Canadian tourists last week in an Israeli hotel when word got out that the U.S. Congress had passed a long awaited health care bill. A cheer went around the room. I found the whole thing odd since most in the room probably don't follow Canadian legislative bills that closely. Why would they care?

I'm not that concerned about how health care is delivered in America or Germany or Gabon. I can only explain it as liberal Canadians rejoicing over the adoption of a liberal piece of legislation by the U.S. Only I think they even have that wrong. This isn't analogous to the Medical Care Act (1966) or the Canada Health Act (1984) which introduced government-run health insurance in Canada with comprehensive coverage, universality and portability. These features provide all Canadians with adequate level of heath care and do not exist in the U.S.

The care bill is little more than a watered-down corporate bailout disguised as law and purposely mislabeled reform. The passage of this bill has been hailed as historic. But all I can see is a lot of politicians dealing in bad faith, whittling away at the idea of health reform. I see Democrats who threw every special interest group, progressive cause, and minority under the bus in order to make this bill more palatable to Republicans who were never going to vote for it in the first place--and who, in the end, didn't.

The bill has no real cost controls and almost no enforcement and does not create competition. And it does nothing to address the real flaws in the American health care system, like lowering premiums. 15 million Americans who still won't have medical coverage after this "reform." And many who are now covered are only covered because they're now mandated to buy health insurance or else face a 2% penalty from the IRS. I see employers now switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services because of the excise tax.

Maybe the excitement around the bill passage is because people expect that Congress will be "fixing it later". But realistically, politicians are going to wipe their hands, say "Job done," and never touch this political hot potato again.

Mug Shot of the Week

Fergie is 35 today

Doctors baffled by man with huge breasts

Chinese doctors claim to have discovered the biggest case of man boobs in the world after a 53-year-old dairy farmer turned up at a specialist chest clinic in Beijing. Doctor Zhang Lilan at the Jinan Chest Hospital said: "The man is in every way male except for his enormous breasts. He is a farmer and says they are extremely uncomfortable as he has to do a lot of manual work and they get in the way of everything.

"He said it has also attracted a lot of attention in the village where he comes from with people turning up to point and laugh at him, so much so that he now has to wear a heavy coat to cover up his figure even in the hottest weather."

The man, 53-year-old Guo Feng, said: "About 10 years ago my chest started to get larger but I didn't think much of it as I was putting on weight all over - but in the last few years it's become unbearable and I have been from one hospital to the other with nobody able to help me.

"I have spent all my money on examinations and tests and am still no nearer a solution - in fact my breasts are now bigger than ever. I sometimes think the doctors don't want to help me with this because they find me a medical curiosity."

This reminds me of another famous Seinfeld episode.

This week we're recognizing Bad Parents

How about a bluegrass version of Owner of a Lonely Heart?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy 70th birthday to James Caan

Seeking divine intervention for the Toronto Maple Leafs

There is a much publicised practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers into the crevices of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is an important Jewish religious site located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great. The remaining wall is not part of the actual Temple but part of the retaining wall to the Temple Mount where the Temple was found.

More than a million notes are placed each year. The notes are collected twice a year and buried on the Mount of Olives.

So when I visited the Wall last week I decided that 43 years of despair for Maple Leaf fans required divine intervention. I left the note above in the Wall.

Let's hope it works.

French TV contestants made to inflict 'torture'

A French TV documentary features people in a spoof game show administering what they are told are near lethal electric shocks to rival contestants. Those taking part are told to pull levers to inflict shocks - increasing in voltage - upon their opponents.

Although unaware that the contestants were actors and there was no electrical current, 82% of participants in the Game of Death agreed to pull the lever. Programme makers say they wanted to expose the dangers of reality TV shows.

They say the documentary shows how many participants in the setting of a TV show will agree to act against their own principles or moral codes when ordered to do something extreme. The Game of Death has all the trappings of a traditional TV quiz show, with a roaring crowd chanting "punishment" and a glamorous hostess urging the players on.

Christophe Nick, the maker of the documentary, said they were "amazed" that so many participants obeyed the sadistic orders of the game show presenter. "They are not equipped to disobey," he said. "They don't want to do it, they try to convince the authority figure that they should stop, but they don't manage to."

This is art?

Danish-Norwegian artist Nina Maria Kleivan is behind a series of photos entitled Potency featuring her newborn daughter.

As Kleivan says: "We are all born as a blank slate. Who knows who we will become?"

There are more dictators here.

Nude gardener getting attention

A nudist in Boulder, Colorado who was threatened with eviction last spring for gardening outside wearing only pasties and a thong has caused another stir by gardening topless. At least four callers told police 52-year-old Catharine Pierce was in her yard topless. State law prohibits exposed genitals, but Pierce was wearing a thong and gardening gloves.

Police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said an officer told Pierce to consider wearing a shirt because children at the school across the street were playing outside.

Pierce's husband then complained to police. Huntley said a police supervisor agreed with Pierce's husband that Pierce wasn't breaking any laws.

Boulder is considering expanding its anti-nudity law which currently only covers the shores of Coot Lake - a popular gathering spot for nudists decades ago.

Family communicates by pen and paper for 11 years

Members of an Egyptian family have been using paper and pencils to communication for 11 years after the head of the family found a listening device in their apartment.

The bug was apparently installed by Muhammad's first wife.

The man moved to a new apartment but the bugs moved with him and the family decided to use notes for communication when at home.

Muhammad's six-year-old daughter had to learn to write early.

After eleven years, they got sick and tired of writing letters to each other and turned for help to specialists only when Muhammad's ex-wife died.

The family was shocked when they learned that the bug was fake and never worked.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

These may be the dumbest robbers of all time

Police in Connecticut say even they were surprised by the actions of these US criminals: two would-be robbers called a bank ahead of time to get the money ready and were arrested at the scene.

Fairfield police say they arrested 27-year-old Albert Bailey (in the above picture) and an unidentified 16-year-old boy on robbery and threatening charges at the People's United Bank branch on Stratfield Road.

Sergeant James Perez said the two Bridgeport residents called the bank and told a worker to get a bag of money ready. Perez says they showed up at the bank 10 minutes later, but police had been notified and arrested the suspects in the parking lot.

A burglar with an apparent appetite broke into a New Jersey sushi restaurant on Saturday, and made some time to cook up some rice and chicken before fleeing, police said. The thief got so caught up in satisfying his hunger, he didn't even touch the $200 sitting in the register.

According to Bergen County police, the modern-day chicken rustler pulled a bird out of the freezer in the Matsu Sushi Grill in Hillsdale and cooked it with rice in a frying pan.

Detectives say the thief entered through an exhaust fan in the back wall of the restaurant, cooked, and left the dirty dishes in the sink as well as the money in the register.

Police suspect that the person may have been homeless and in search of food. The break-in is similar to an incident last year at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken, when someone broke into the fast food restaurant, prepared a meal and left.

They have a smelly sneaker contest

An 11-year-old from Connecticut has the most disgusting shoes in America.

Trinette Robinson of Bristol, Conn., was crowned the winner of the 35th annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker contest in Montpelier, Vt.

Her sneakers were judged the most vile on the basis of their condition and odor. She says she got them dirty by playing hard in Girl Scout Camp and doing community walks for charity.

She was among nine kids ages 6 to 16 competing in the contest. She wins $2,500 and an expenses-paid trip to New York City. Hey no one ever told me about this contest. To win $2,500 I would get a camel to take a dump in my sneakers. She is 11 years old. How smelly could the sneakers of an 11 year be?


Boy has 16 toes and 15 fingers

The six-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, has 16 toes and 15 fingers. Hey with a few more toes and fingers and he likely would be able to get by without a calculator for most of his life.

One of the fingers is incomplete and appears on X-ray photographs as a "fork" sticking out from the right thumb.

Three fingers on each of the boy's hands are also fused together by skin.

The boy, from Shenyang in China's north-eastern Liaoning province, beats the current world record held Indian boys Pranamya Menaria and Devendra Harne, who have 12 fingers and 13 toes.

Fro those interested this condition is known as polydactyly.


When hockey fans act like hockey players

God I missed hockey when I was away. Here is a great fight between Canuck and Duck fans. They even try to pull each others jerseys over their head like the players do.

I survived the trip to Israel

I think the Arabic says "Please come pick the flowers"