Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The problem of illegal migrants from Central and South America is directly related to the global economy, which the US plays the largest role in.
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Everything from US farm subsidies to tariffs to illegal wars causes an inordinate amount of poverty and death in other countries. In the case of Mexico, we also stop the Colorado River from flowing into what once was verdant farm land. Migration has been the catalyst for growth in human civilisation since we first climbed out of the trees. Read Guns, Germs, And Steel by Jared Diamond if you don't believe me.

If you and your wife and children were starving and saw abundant wealth and waste in the country next door you would pack your bags tonight and migrate north tomorrow. The US is a nation built by immigrants, for immigrants, and populated mostly by non-native peoples. Love it or leave it, at least you have the freedom to do so at any time!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Teaching Those With Autism - Part 3

Note: This is the 3rd installment in this series. The first article can be found at Teaching Those With Autism

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I find it much easier to teach people, of any skill level, if I know their communication style, including all the intrinsic patterns and vocabulary. It is so important to completely immerse yourself in the daily lives of the people with whom you intend to communicate. This is not easy to accomplish but worth all the effort it takes.

One of the problems I noticed about autistic adults, and continue to notice with adults from many cultures and backgrounds, is their resistance to communicate with anyone that does experience the world from their point of view. There is a tremendous sensitivity to feelings of pity, alienation, and exasperation that most 'normal' adults demonstrate in challenging teaching situations. In other words, if they sense you pity them, if they sense you are not willing to open up completely and share your world with them, if they feel you already have your mind made up about the outcome of a particular session, they will not open up. This is true about many extremely intelligent people as well as autistic people. Both audiences seem to feel if you are not 100% committed to their cause then why should they bother working with you?

I break through this barrier with by exhibiting extreme patience along with sincerely making a long term commitment to making my training a success. I go to great lengths to learn little things like the speaking rhythm, cadence, and volume they prefer to use when communicating. I study which days of the week, times of day, and places where they like to communicate with others. I make every effort to use the same vocabulary, including any jargon or even mispronunciations they might happen to use. I may or may not correct some small mistakes at some future time.

In the case of autistic adults and many foreign audiences, I make it a point not to look at them except directly into the eyes, if possible. I try never to allow my eyes to be distracted by different facial features, body movements, or other physical differences. I had to develop this style because I was in a unique position. I was driving the bus and could not look directly at them, I had to keep my eyes on the road. We could only make eye contact using a narrow passenger mirror, although many of them preferred that I did not look at them at all when we communicated. I learned to work entirely in a verbal teaching world, without visuals, if necessary. I do demonstrate some things, but do not put people on the spot by unnecessarily drawing attention to them. In other words, I sometimes do the opposite of what traditional teachers are taught to do, not looking students in the eyes, not studying my audience, and not forcing lessons on students, some of whom may be unwilling to learn at a particular time or place.

I use a tape recorder extensively when teaching foreign audiences. I learned to do this on my bus with my wonderful passengers way back in the 80s. With the autistic adults I learned that certain music appealed to some or even all of them. While classical music appealed to them it tended to make them less communicative. I had recordings of the early black blues musicians and other musicians that emulate this style. When I played these recordings, they really connected with the very emotional message in the singer's voice. Rev. Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday, and Blind Lemon Jefferson seemed to strike a chord that opened up their 'doors of perception." Another musician, Jorma Kaukonen, sings these same songs in contemporary recordings that I found very useful. I used this music to draw them out of the distant world they inhabit. I occasionally make recordings with the same tape recorder, using those recordings to better understand each individual's speaking style, vocabulary, and topics of interest.

Repetition and sincerity are two very important teaching tools. I had to repeat things I said because of road noise and the fact that some passengers would just be making odd noises as they usually do. I actually used the blues music to quiet down the spontaneous noises that autistic adults often emit. I repeated messages I wanted to get across and rewarded them with particular songs they enjoyed. After some time I even taught them the names of songs and musicians. Of course a few of them learned these right away while others needed many repetitions, often over many days. It took weeks to teach the most severely autistic certain things, like the use of the wheelchair lift. But I did it and let them enjoy their success in front of people that were important to them, including their peers and parents. It is something to see an autistic person learn something new and smile and laugh at having done so.

I use a great deal of vocal variation, to overcome background noise and capture attention. Altering not just my volume, typically a little louder than many instructors are comfortable with, but varying tone and emotional content. I have also trained myself to use different accents, like British, Australian, East Indian, southern U.S., and even that of a French speaker of English. Many groups warm to this touch, especially when they might otherwise be losing interest or even falling asleep. I don't do it for long but I do it long enough to get those who want to learn back on board the lesson.

When they were quiet I engaged those that were receptive to communication. I would involve others that seemed to indicate an interest in the conversation. I never let on that we had to learn something new. Even though I considered their understanding of the wheelchair lift essential in the case of an accident I did not let this rush the learning. Most of the topics we learned about together, in question and answer format.

I shared appropriate details about my personal life with them to let them know I was really a friend, not just their bus driver. Sincerity is so vital to communication; people are very sensitive to this, though it might not be evident at first thought. I strive hard to know when people are upset or joyful and make sure to let them know that I know this and understand what they are going through. Since people can be pretty good at hiding emotions, I let them know when I was sad or happy.

With autistic adults, and scientists, it is very hard at first to read emotions, they have a knack for hiding them, but I gradually learned to identify various emotional states from the moment I come into contact with them. I take time to get started and often work with the emotional issue before I begin any other lessons. No adult instructor that I know of attempts this though teachers of young children often do.

I also left more time for them to 'digest' new ideas that I was teaching them. This 'time to digest' is an extremely important component of my teaching style to this very day. I find most instructors fail because they feel they have to rush lessons into a pre-set time frame. I relax when I teach and recognize that all adults learn at different paces.

One note I must end on is this: I never forget that I am always a student when I am teaching others. The stream of knowledge flows both ways, no matter how much more I may know about a topic than my audience. I consider the knowledge that flows back to me during teaching to be like diamonds or great secrets that I treasure and work very hard to understand myself. Effective teachers must also be students of their own lessons. Teaching never ceases to be rewarding if the instructor holds this notion to be true always.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Letter From An Uninsured Person:

NEWS: Health Care Spending to Double
Maryland Boy Dies For Lack Of Dentist

Dear Congress,

I am one of those 45 million people without health insurance you don't give a damn about. I realize you are too busy taking bribes to pass laws to benefit rich criminals but I thought I would write you anyway. I am at work but I am really sick today and do not feel up to doing my job. I wonder if that has any impact on our nation's industrial productivity?

I am not unemployed or on welfare. I do not have a family that needs me to support them. In fact, I have no dependents whatsoever so maybe it is quite okay that I will die sooner than you. I have several ailments that I carry around with me, not that you care about that but I thought I would tell you anyway. One of my ailments, a fungus, is something I picked up in a tropical country several years ago. Some of these things I have are pretty serious a friend once told me. I wouldn't know, without insurance I am not allowed to see a doctor for proper treatment.
Ananda Nagar, Purulia District 100008
When I get the flu or a virus, I keep going to my office. I need the money to pay my bills so I cannot afford to miss one day. Some times I notice that my co-workers get sick not long after I have gone to work sick. I have no doubt that some of them caught their bug from me. It no longer matters to me who else gets sick or what caused it. I do not even bother to take over-the-counter medicine any more. Who cares?

I do try to avoid getting sick or injured but without health insurance I must do this without the help of a doctor. Every few years I have to go to a hospital, the ambulance driver always refuses to just take me to my apartment to die alone. When I get to the hospital the Emergency Room nurses are really kind to me, until they learn I have no health insurance. Sometimes they make me go to another hospital in the poor part of town, it depends on if they can stop the bleeding or not. The hospital in the poor part of town closed so that situation is no longer a problem for me.

I write "Indigent" on the hospital forms along with "No fixed address." The hospital hates when I do this and they threaten me but I have no other choice, the doctors would take my last dime if I told them where I live. I make up a Social Security number just like the illegal aliens do. I give my wallet to a friend just before the ambulance gets there. I never get the prescription filled, it costs too much and just makes me sleepy. Besides, I need to be back at work the next day. At least my Emergency Room visits are free, right? I should be thankful of that.

I have tried to obtain health insurance several times. The best offer I get is a policy that costs $350 per month and covers almost no health problems. The annual deductible would be $5,000 so I never do actually sign up for a policy.

Funny thing is, I have a college degree, no debt, and a little savings in the bank and I still cannot afford health insurance. Do you see anything wrong with that picture?

I understand that President Bush is pushing the idea of Health Savings Accounts. That man has lied to me so many times I do not believe a word he says. Hell, he is trying as hard as he can to kill more poor people with his new war in Iran. I am too old to die in Dick Cheney's fantasy world. Even a dumb little person like me can see that Health Savings Accounts are just another way to trick people into paying outrageous hospital costs that mostly just go to pay lawyers and malpractice insurance premiums anyway.

My employer used to offer health insurance but hardly anybody except the boss could afford the premiums so they stopped offering it. Many of the other women are covered by their husband's health insurance so they do not care. We make more than the current minimum wage so raising that a few pennies will not solve this problem.

I understand why the rich drug companies and hospital owners block all efforts to start a National Health Care plan. They need to make exorbitant profits for stockholders and public health care is unprofitable. The insurance companies simply want to sell expensive policies so I understand their opposition to national health care.

In a few years I'll be eligible for Medicare, if I live that long. I hear you are planning to provide more and more money to the Medicare program. At least you are doing something for the sick old folks.

What really burns me up is that doctors and the American Medical Association also want to keep millions of Americans from receiving affordable health care. Elected officials like you and other people in Congress go so far as to call national health insurance a "Third Rail". You figure you will get burned by the voters if you even touch the issue. It seems that all the rich people in America would rather that the poor people just die off instead of getting proper health care.

Most rich people making millions each year have no clue a health care problem even exists in the United States. They are too busy planning their next vacation or boat purchase. Just exactly who do you think will paint your big houses, cut your vast lawns, and sell you cigarettes at the convenience store when all the poor people are gone? Oh, I forgot, you think the illegal aliens do a better job and they hardly ever get sick, right?
19th Century Horse-Drawn Hearse 48769

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mercury Poisoning Cover-Up

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) covered-up accepted studies proving Thimerosal (a mercury-based drug preservative contained in children's vaccines) causes brain damage. (full story)

In 2000 the CDC met secretly with doctors and drug company executives to come up with a plan to hide the fact that 1 in every 160 children were being diagnosed with various forms of autism, also known as ASD.

U.S. Capitol 19914

Why did the CDC and Congress cover-up the poisoning?

They did it to protect the people that give them political donations. Senator Bill Frist and hundreds of others doctors, pharmaceutical employees and government employees participated in this cover-up to protect the profits of drug companies.

Oh, they also did this to fight terrorism. If the drug companies are hit with big lawsuits they may decide not to work on vaccines to fight any biological attacks the terrorists might be planning. In that case most people would die anyway, including the people that work for any drug company.

In return the drug companies made substantial donations to Senator Frist's war chest.

Why was this story not printed in the major newspapers or shown on TV?

Have you ever noticed how many drug company ads are shown on TV or printed in all kinds of publications?

Don't worry, you will probably not be impacted by this act of Congress. The problems with the vaccines only impacted little babies and children for the past ten years or so. If you are a parent your child may now be suffering from ASD or autism, but don't worry, you will be just fine. Your children may just need to depend on you for the rest of their lives. The U.S. government may apologize for this little oversight but do not hold your breath waiting for them to do so.

However, the few of you that still trusted your doctors or elected officials to do the right thing, well, you are out of luck. They are still trying to maintain the cover-up using false medical studies. Sounds like way the cigarette manufacturers covered-up lung cancer, doesn't it?

Once the government discovered this problem they did the right thing. They shipped all the mercury-tainted vaccines off to Third World countries. I'm surprised they did not throw in a few carton of cigarettes and a few automatic weapons while they were at it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mending Iraq: Concise Solutions

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In the normal course of creating a new government licensing of all businesses would naturally be part of the standard operating procedure. In the case of Iraq, authorities currently in-control need to immediately register and license every truck & auto repair shop, auto parts dealers, and all machine shops with enclosed spaces. Expediting this government function, beginning with larger commercial shops and the smallest auto repair facilities at once, will unveil multiple sites where car bomb assembly occurs. The mere act of publicly inspecting some auto repair facilities will certainly cause disruptions to other sites engaged in car bomb manufacture. These facilities are not that difficult to detect based on traffic patterns, distinctive scents, neighborhood knowledge, road stains, and especially the presence of parts suppliers. However rural auto repair facilities in areas known for increased violence should be suspect. This was the case on February 20, 2007 in Karma, Iraq, where four vehicles were found in the process of being converted for nefarious purpose.

Inspectors must document all services rendered, fluids maintained, weights and measures. A stringent European Union vehicle repair facility inspection procedure should be utlilized.

IMPORTANT: This practice may cause car bomb manufacturers to outsource operations to other provinces or even neighboring countries. Increased inspection of all vehicles entering the country will be required.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Have You Had Your Vaccine Today? Recently talk of vaccines has been all over the news:


In the United States a very wealthy drug company is sending slick hucksters to visit every elected state government politician. These con artists are trying to get laws passed in every state that will force your daughter or wife or sister or mother to buy a $400 dose of their brand new vaccine. Did that drug company even bother to study the possible American woman's response to their effort? I realize they spent a whole lot of money on this new medicine but forcing it on every female might not be so easy. The other question is: How many years did they spend testing this new vaccine? Five years? Ten years? Does the entire American female population now become the next test population?

Don't get me wrong, Gardasil may be a great cancer vaccine but the maker, Merck, needed to spend more time thinking about how it would gain acceptance for this new product. It seems User Acceptance Testing and Marketing are taken more seriously in industries other than the pharmaceutical industry. Now Merck is having second thoughts about their approach.

But Dr. Richard Haupt, executive director for medical affairs in Merck's vaccine division, said that Merck would continue to provide health officials and legislators with education about the vaccine and would continue to lobby for more financing for vaccines in general. Is this about corporate profits or better health?

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In Russia the "Emergency Situations Ministry" announced that 128 million doses of bird flu vaccine have been distributed and that more than 94 million birds had been vaccinated. Whoa! Where to begin with that whopper?

First, the "Emergency Situations Ministry" department name and that announcement sound like they were taken straight out of George Orwell's novel come true 1984.

Second, 128 million doses of bird flu vaccine TO ADMINISTER TO BIRDS??? When was the last time you tried to stick a needle in a sparrow or robin flitting around your backyard? So the only birds that received the bird flu vaccine must be birds people like to eat; chickens, ducks, ostriches, plus a few parrots. Chickens and ducks probably do not take a shot any easier than a squirming little kid. No, I have never eaten a parrot but I understand that people in some cultures do. I guess the scientists do not care if the wild birds, especially the migratory birds, pull through this outbreak. That guy up there flying around with the geese is about the only one those birds might let stick a needle in them.

Third, WHY VACCINATE JUST THE BIRDS? What about the humans? Where is the bird flu vaccine for humans? When you travel on an airline they always tell you to put on your emergency oxygen mask before helping your child. What good will it do just vaccinating all the birds people eat? If all the humans die in the epidemic that will surely put a damper on the global economy.

That old movie with Charleton Heston should have been called "Planet of the Chickens." Those birds may be the only ones to survive the next global pandemic.

Monday, February 19, 2007

All The Liars In Washington

In everything except this he had the usual reinforced truth programming. We believe his truth programming and the instructions to lie, gradually resulted in an incompatible conflict, and faced with this dilemma, he developed, for want of a better description, neurotic symptoms. - HAL's breakdown in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Aide to Vice-President Cheney, Lewis Scooter Libby, is accused of acts of perjury before a grand jury. Dishonest statements made before a jury must not be tolerated by any society that upholds trial by jury as a method for enforcing the laws of the land.
Cyclists, Lincoln Memorial 15787
Aide to President Bush, Karl Rove, somehow avoids all prosecution for perjury or violations of the Espionage Act.

Cases where elected leaders and their assistants are found to be making false statements to any jury must be vigorously pursued. Leaders must be held to a higher standard of conduct or they are not in fact good leaders. Vice-President Cheney, Libby, and others cannot hide behind the assumption that Valerie Plame might no longer need any cover while on overseas assignments for the CIA. Cheney and other members of the Bush Administration clearly initiated conversations about known U.S. intelligence agents with people that did hold the necessary clearances. In fact, Cheney and staff deliberately discussed CIA employee Plame with members of the press in order to draw public attention to her work as a CIA agent.

Besides the various provisions in the Espionage Act of 1917, this issue was clearly addressed by the court in 1985 in US v. SAMUEL LORING MORISON. (Court Case) Public officials must not be allowed to spill the beans about classified intelligence for nefarious purposes.

If any other citizen were on trial for something they did at work you might expect their manager to be expected to testify in court. If the manager still holds the employee in high esteem the boss may sing the employee's virtues. If the employee is in disgrace the employer may shed some light on how such a thing happened. In the case of Lewis Libby, Vice President Cheney was not called to testify during the actual court proceedings. Once again, the Bush Administration changes the laws for their own benefit while setting a poor example as leaders.

The press reports try to apologize for the all this dishonesty by proclaiming that everyone is telling lies most of the time.

The script from 2001 continues like this:

It's not difficult to suppose that these symptoms would centre on the communication link with Earth, for he may have blamed us for his incompatible programming...At this point, he, presumably, took whatever actions he thought appropriate to protect himself from what must have seemed to him to be his human tormentors.

If I can speak in human terms, I don't think we can blame him too much. We have ordered him to disobey his conscience.

Well, that's it. It's very speculative, but we think it is a possible explanation. Anyway, good luck on the rest of the Mission and I'm giving you back to Bernard.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Was That A Murder of Crows or a Business of Flies?

How many times do you think about what to call a large number of creatures gathered in one place? A herd of cattle or a flock of sheep might be common sights for some people. When was the last time you saw a pod of pelicans or a bale of turtles? Personally, I prefer to say a squadron instead of pod, pouch, or scoop  of pelicans. Have you stumbled upon a generation of vipers or a congregation of crocodiles recently? Pelicans Key West 49461
More than once I came upon a rhumba of rattlesnakes in the deserts of New Mexico. When all our walnut trees starting getting eaten in Pennsylvania I noticed an army of caterpillars up there in the trees along with a murmuration of starlings. Personally I have never seen a spring of teals or a mutation of thrushes but perhaps I was just not paying attention. A murder of magpies, shivers of sharks, or a smacks of jellyfish are not easily forgotten.

Humans may live in tribes but larks fly together in an exaltation. Too many flamingos can rightfully be called a flamboyance. A gathering of wombats is called a "wisdom" while woodpeckers form descents, pigs join up in droves or sounders, and many finches form a charm. A troubling or glint of goldfish is perhaps less worrying than a cloud of grasshoppers or plague of locusts. A romp of otters might not seem threatening at first until you notice your brood of chickens has vanished.

Penguins and humans share colonies, in name only. Some people like hanging out in their dens as do snakes. Owls and government officials have each named their collective bodies "parliaments." Congress is what you call a pack of baboons or is it the other way around?

Musicians and gorillas prefer to work together in bands, just not the same bands. Looking around at each other, coteries of high school kids or prairie dogs share certain similarities, you must admit. Heads popping up every now and then to check out what's going on. Schools for whales, fish, or children work for most parents.

Many lizards come together as a lounge, go see one someday, you will understand. Playing with a bevy of beautiful blonds may prove more interesting than a bevy of quails. You can listen to a flock of seagulls, without streaming music. Then again facing a mob of emus is probably preferable to facing a mob of angry men. Gangs of elks, like hoards of gerbils, seldom carry the knives and chains found among other organized criminals. Safer to hang with a party of jays, a pandemonium of parrots and a trip of widgeons.
Key West Sunset 49839
Never try to outrun a leash of greyhounds but make every effort to avoid bloats of hippotami, leaps of leopards and prides of lions. A bazaar of guillemots, a skein of goslings, and a deceit of lapwings I leave as mysteries for you to google until they become a clear as a flush of ducks or a chain of boblinks. Don't you dare google a gaggle of geese, they may take flight and thus become a skein (that's my old, old French coming from le mot escaigne).  If they form into a perfect wedge, well that is precisely what you may call them!

The ones that worry me include an unkindness of ravens, a mutation of thrushes, and especially those fleets of mudhens. I get visions of excited University of Delaware fans showing up along with an aircraft carrier. I certainly would not mind having a fling, though not with sandpipers. I do not currently attend a congregation, of magpies that is!

A chine of polecats is not uncommon but outside of Africa a bloat of hippos is rare. A journey of giraffes is quite beautiful to watch running across the Serengeti but watch out for those clans of hyenas, gangs of elks (especially near Pennsylvania towns), and a beautiful bevy of roe deers. So the next time you see a flink of cows, a cowardice of curs, an obstinacy of buffalo, or an intrigue of kittens, call them exactly that!

San Diego Zoo
Fun With Words, Collective Nouns