Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Reading by Charles Laughton

This recording consists of several different sections. 
It opens with a reading of something by Kerouac, followed by a long personal story of a sequence of events Laughton experienced during his career, and ending with a reading of Psalm 104 -- a poetic version transcribed here, which is slightly different from other translations.  

Psalm 104, unique to this recording

O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

The trees of the LORD are full of sap, where the birds make their nests. As for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! The earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will be glad in the LORD.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful for Pope Francis

I was thinking about Pope Francis as I worked on tomorrow's dinner. We have an abundance of food and will waste more tomorrow than some families will have altogether. One need not be part of the top 2% to be carelessly wasteful. Our national abundance has made us all complacent. 

I heard some anti-Obamacare political type quoted about how tough it will be for any Republican to run against an opponent after 2017 because the new law will by then have become such an embedded part of the economy. In the words of one Conservative, once they get to the sugar people will not want to give it up.

They are right, you know, because the subsidies to pay for health care insurance go way past the poverty level. Tax help is available all the way to 400% of the federal poverty level. This is unprecedented in my memory. Four times the poverty is still not the same as "rich" but it still falls short of what many would consider "middle class." That's what happens when the national wealth distribution looks like a wine glass instead of an iced tea glass.

Wealth distribution in America

We know that globally the rich have the lions share of wealth, but even the WORLD'S wealth distribution is not as extreme as what we have in America.

Wealth distribution for the world.

The US has a truly skewed distribution, with most of the country getting by on crumbs, and a significant number actually having negative net worth -- NO wealth at all -- and in debt to boot. At least the poorest of the poor in the developing world can't get further behind than utter destitution. With the creation of debt, America has succeeded in getting poor people to mortgage not only what is needed for today's essentials, but all that is forthcoming for years, sometimes generations yet to come.

Our Conservative friends would be better served if they followed the advice of Pope Francis and found ways to lift those at four hundred times poverty out of the income range so that subsidies to get healthcare would not be necessary. As Bernie Sanders says, wages should be enough to lift people out of poverty rather than trapping them in poverty.

Pope Francis gets it. He really does. 

And since he has been so forthcoming about what he believes, I am starting to worry about his safety. The rich and powerful may not like his saying stuff like he does, but I really don't think any of them would be a danger to the Pope's safety. But there is a large and growing sub-set of extremists further down the economic scale who are not that circumspect. Those are the crazy ones I worry about. And as long as this man is Pope, we must hope and pray for his safety. Jesus was killed for less. And he's behaving a lot like Jesus.

Boiled Custard Recipe

No Thanksgiving or Christmas is complete at our house without boiled custard. I just made two batches which yielded just over a quart and a half after I enjoyed the cook's tasting portion along the way. It took less than an hour, and if family members don't get too much while it is still warm, there should be enough left to serve chilled with dessert later today.

This is a Southern thing but mostly from the border states. My family is from Kentucky, so we have had boiled custard for generations. Think eggnog without the nog. This delectable treat is nothing more than milk, eggs and sugar with vanilla added for flavor. Like all wonderful foods, handling is more important than the recipe. This is how I make boiled custard.

The ingredients are simple...

4 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
1 Quart Milk
Vanilla to taste

...but that's not the recipe. The recipe is how to put them together.
  1. Heat the milk in a double boiler, stirring enough that it won't leave cooked milk at the bottom as it heats. I have found that a small boiler making one quart at a time works better than doing a large batch. I use a pocket thermometer to check the temperature.
  2. While the milk is getting hot, break the eggs into another container and mix in the sugar. A small hand whip works well for this. No need to mess up an electric mixer. When the milk shows about 120 degrees, put some into the egg-sugar mixture, mix it in to make it all pour better, then pour it all into the hot milk, stirring all the time.
  3. Continue to stir and monitor the custard as it heats to 180 degrees. As it gets hot, the eggs will be cooking and it will want to stick to the bottom of the boiler, so keep stirring. A wooden spoon is good, but I just use the same whip that I used to mix the sugar and eggs.
  4. Pour the hot custard through a sieve into some other container. I use a two-quart plastic kitchen measure with handle and pouring spout. It makes it easier to pour into jars to cool.
  5. Vanilla always goes into anything at the end. If you put it in as it is cooking the flavor will not be as good. (This is also true of herbs and most spices. The delicate aromas and flavors are never improved by too much boiling, baking or poaching.) I use about a teaspoon and the aroma makes me immediately pour off a little into a juice glass to make certain I didn't make any mistakes.
This sweet, simple treat will serve wonderfully with almost any dessert. Pound Cake or sweet potato pie comes to mind. Later in the day, I have been known to enrich boiled custard with something alcoholic. Bourbon is traditional, but liqueurs of all kinds are a possibility. The mind reels. Enjoy.
2009 Footnote: This recipe has been online for two years and to my surprise continues to be found by Google searches. As this 2009 Christmas season proceeds this post is receiving two or three dozen hits a day. The comments have been positive, so it must be working. Thanks for reading and have a festive and memorable Christmas celebration.
2013 Footnote:  I first posted this Thanksgiving, 2007, while taking a break from cooking. Google searches for "boiled custard recipe" continue to return the link, typically at or near the top of the first screen. Hootsbuddy's New Place replaces the original blog which I lost soon after the other footnote was written. Comments there have been positive.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Senate Colloquy on Defense Spending -- November 20

This half hour of Senate debate shows the US Senate in a way that makes me proud.

Everybody knows tons of money are wasted or misappropriated by the Pentagon, but only rarely does anyone actually say that out loud, especially in Congress.  This is a day to celebrate. I wish the popular media were able to pay attention to moments like this, but unfortunately it''s not dramatic and cannot be squeezed into a brief soundbite or two. 

Thanksgiving Recipe -- Muriel's Mango Mold

2. 1 can drained mandarin oranges. Add juice to saved pineapple juice. In large bowl, 3 oz package apricot jello & 1 cup boiled water.
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 02:59:09 PM PDT

3. When jello is completely dissolved, add 3/4 cup mixed orange/pineapple juice. Refrigerate. Let semi gel, about 45 mins. (cont'd)
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:01:51 PM PDT

4. Prepare one package Dream Whip according to their directions. When jello is semi-gelled, add Dream Whip using mixer. Mix thoroughly. cont
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:04:34 PM PDT

5. Stir in pineapple, oranges, & 1/3 cup crushed walnuts. Pour into mold that has been thoroughly Pammed. Refrigerate. Serves 6-8. (con't)
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:05:43 PM PDT

6. Can be made a day or two in advance. Fresh mandarin oranges/pineapple can be used, but really, why waste the time?
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:07:50 PM PDT

@quiltingmuriel May I ask a question? When does the mango go in?
THEToughCookie 07/Apr/2013 03:15:24 PM PDT

@THEToughCookie There's no mango.
QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:17:00 PM PDT

@DuffyM_ When it's done it's a gorgeous mango color.
Reply RT Favorite

QuiltingMuriel 07/Apr/2013 03:17:39 PM PDT


A recipe from the Twitterverse by Muriel, self-described thus:
"I'm 94 years young. I don't repeat myself. My dog Tiger gets me, my children aren't even on twitter! I'm 94 years young. I'm a champion quilter & baker. I'm 94."

Friday, November 22, 2013

When JFK Was Killed

One of those timeless moments in 1963.
Anyone old enough to remember will recall that time stood still. Those memories are frozen with every detail -- when and where we were, how the word was passed and how people around reacted. Later, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and M.L. King would have a similar impact, but it was the death of Jack Kennedy that shook the nation to its roots.
I sometimes think that the Sixties in all their madness were a visceral response to that event. Children who have lost parents are known to internalize that trauma as guilt. At least that was the theory a few years back and the basis of trauma counseling for kids. I have seen it expressed both in movies and real life so there must be something to it. It's an irrational reaction, of course. There is no reason that a child whose parent has died as the result of an accident or medical condition should feel personally responsible, but that is how it is perceived. It was my fault. I was not good enough. I should have done more to protect him or her. I must have done something wrong.

There are cases, though, where the child really did do something to bring about the loss of the parent. Playing with fire, distracting a driver, handling a loaded firearm... In these cases the guilt is earned. The parent really is lost because of the actions of the child. Forgiveness and release does not come as easily in these cases, but "life goes on," such as it is, as the pain of loss fades but never quite disappears. Such was the case of the Sixties.

Some of us glimpsed a better way. We knew there were social habits that had to change. We knew that a war was underway somewhere in South Asia that should not have been started. We knew that conscripting young men for that war was not the same as doing so for World War II. We knew that the government was not being faithful to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And we knew that if we didn't correct these wrongs then we would have to live with the results. Like the child whose horseplay in the back seat caused the death of a parent in a car wreck, we looked at life with exaggerated seriousness. We sought to correct problems in a generation that later we would learn are endemic to the human condition.

In the process we lost our innocence. And like the young person who has smoked the first pack of cigarettes, finished the first bottle of alcohol with his buddies, or waked up after that first night of lovemaking, a whole generation embarked on a decade or so of boundary-testing. We learned the hard way that boundaries serve a practical purpose. We learned that without boundaries there is no order. We learned that role-modeling good behavior is more important to generational development as saying Do as I say, not as I do.

Unfortunately, and this is the legacy of the Clinton years, we learned too late. It took nearly three decades for the Sixties to work its way through the system to become manifest at the highest office in government. Bill Clinton's presidency represents in many ways the culmination of what began in the Sixties, with all the excitement and hopes for the future, but also with its dark underside of moral turpitude. Having been there and done that I now hope that the lessons of that time have been learned and internalized. Unfortunately, it seems politically impossible for anyone to change his mind or behavior without being called a hypocrite. We saw that plainly in the last election with the pathetic and failed attempt of John Kerry to reconcile the contradictions of his past with mandates of the present.

For many of us the last year or two have been deja vu. [This was written in 2005, but the election of Barack Obama seems to have changed little. Substitute drones and NSA surveillance for images from eight years ago.] I know that Iraq is not Vietnam and the attack on the WTC is not the same as Kennedy's assassination. White phosphorus is not the same as napalm and Abu Ghraib is not My Lai. But our behavior as a nation strikes me as inappropriate and irrational as that of the Sixties. I almost said the "children" of the Sixties, but it was not all done by young people. Many of those whom we followed, who guided our behavior, were adults. They were mature, solid, wholesome, responsible adults. Some were already old and would never live to see the results of what they were encouraging, not because they were killed or sacrificed, but simply because they were too old to live that long.

To the degree that adults can make the same mistakes as children, that happened to us as a nation in the Sixties. And in many ways, the same thing is happening again today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mort Reichek (1904-2011) -- How my Dad downed a Nazi dirigible and became a "saint"

This Twitter message triggered a memory.
And this is the memory.  
I was a fan of The Octogenarian 
for several years until he died. 

MEMOIR: How my Dad downed a Nazi dirigible and became a "saint"

By Mort Reichek

According to a Jewish legend, each generation produces 36 righteous men--humble, spiritually-gifted individuals scattered throughout the Diaspora, who possess mystic powers that protect Jews from persecution and disaster.

Jewish literature abounds with folk tales about them. They are known as "lamed-vovniks" after two letters in the Hebrew alphabet that have a numerical value of 36. They are described as modest and upright men who conceal their identity and are indistinguishable from simple mortals. Their presence is revealed only in times of crisis.

In the Talmud it is written that "the world must contain not less than 36 righteous men who are vouchsafed the sight of the Divine Presence." In effect, these men are regarded as "secret saints."

My father achieved "sainthood" on May 6, 1937, the day the German dirigible Hindenburg arrived in the U.S. to begin its second season of trans-Atlantic crossings.

My father was educated in a yeshiva, preparing to become a rabbi like his own father, a Polish-born Hasid who came to the U.S. at the turn of the last century. Although my father was no longer religiously observant, he was highly respected in his community for his background as a Talmudic scholar.

As the Hindenburg flew only 600 feet over the Bronx on its way to its destination, the Lakehurst (N.J.) Naval Air Station, my father and a group of his neighborhood friends were standing on a street corner chatting. Staring up at the silver, cigar-shaped airship, they were infuriated at the bright red and black swastikas on the Hindenburg's tail gleaming brilliantly in the sunshine.

The Hindenburg was the technological wonder of its day, an object of awe, and a dazzling symbol of the glory of Nazi Germany. It was now four years since the Nazis had seized power, unleashing a wave of violence against Jews. The persecution of Germany's Jews was being widely reported in the press, and German Jewish refugees arriving in New York brought new horror stories. So to my father and his friends, gazing at the dirigible in the sky, the swastika-bearing Hindenburg was not a symbol of technological glory but an ugly provocation.

"If there is a God in this world," my father suddenly shouted in Yiddish, pointing to the sky, "may He destroy [the German dirigible]. May no trace or memory remain of it." He punctuated his curse by spitting on the ground. My father was normally a mild-mannered man, and his friends were shocked at his violent outburst. But they nodded grimly, putting their stamp of approval on his vehement declaration.

That evening as our family was having dinner, my mother turned on the radio. Through the crackling static, we heard a reporter broadcasting from Lakehurst. He was describing the intricate maneuvers required to bring Hindenburg down. Suddenly he began to scream that the airship had exploded.

While the landing lines were being tied to the mooring mast, the explosion ripped open the dirigible's tail and the Hindenburg burst into flames. In less than a minute, it was reduced to a mass of twisted, burning metal. Twenty-two crewmen, 13 passengers, and a U.S. Navy ground crewman were dead.

My father was horrified by the radio account. He sat as if paralyzed, the memory of the curse fresh in his mind. Many of the victims were Americans, and he had wished them no harm. He did not say a word all evening and went to bed early.

The next day, a Friday, word of my father's curse had circulated throughout the neighborhood. In the evening, as usual, he went out after dinner. As he walked four blocks to the candy store, where his friends gathered regularly, several men returning from Sabbath services at the local synagogue nodded respectfully at him. Other people pointed him out to companions, whispering solemnly that he was the man who had cursed the Hindenburg.

As he waited for the traffic light at a street corner, a man he knew casually came up and said tremulously to him in Yiddish: "We know about people like you from the old country. You are a 'lamed-vovnik'!" My father was bewildered. "What are you talking about?," he asked the man. "Are you crazy?" The man stepped back deferentially, touching his hat.

At first my father was amused by the man's remark. But as he pondered what "lamed-vovniks" mean to pious Jews, he became troubled. When he arrived at the candy store, his friends repeated the claim. "We heard you curse the Hindenburg, and we have seen what happened," one man said.

"What kind of nonsense is this?" my father responded, exasperated. "You know me. How can you believe such religious foolishness." Nevertheless, his friends felt ill at ease in his presence. Despite his protestations, they were convinced that my father was indeed one of the 36 secret saints. After all, he possessed all the attributes. Although he did not attend synagogue regularly, he was a righteous and learned man. He was generous and lived unpretensiously. And had he not performed a miracle, smiting the accursed Nazis before their very eyes?

My father became a marked man. Strangers began to phone him with pleas for assistance--to cure a sick child, to obtain a job, even to find a mate for a husbandless daughter. Helplessly, my father said he could do nothing. Neighbors withdrew respectfully when he passed on the street. Others bowed to him and made entreaties for help with their personal problems. My father was no longer amused. The tribulations of his superstitious neighbors began to wear on him.

To escape, he changed his routine drastically. He used a different subway station to go to work. Held in awe by his cronies in the candy store, he was no longer comfortable socializing with them. Now he remained at home every evening, bemoaning what had happened to him. It was ironic, he complained to my mother, that he, who went to synagogue only on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kipper and did not observe the Sabbath, should attain such religious fame. He became a recluse.

Weeks passed. My father's absence from his usual neighborhood haunts surprised no one. According to legend, the "lamed-vovniks" resume their anonymity when their tasks have been accomplished. In desperation, my father decided to change his tactics. Nonchalantly he began to walk freely again through the neighborhood, unconcerned that some people still stared at him. And finally he took the ultimate step. He showed up at the candy store one evening.

His friends did not know how to react. "In the old country," my father assured them, "a regular 'lamed-vovnik' would disappear after he was discovered. He didn't hang around any more once he was recognized. So you see I am still here. I have not disappeared. I am not a 'lamed-vovnik'."

His friends reluctantly conceded that they had been foolish. They began to treat my father normally once again. And thus was sainthood in the Bronx--at least for my father--finally terminated.

Sunday Links -- November 17

This looks like a good morning for photos and videos. 
Here are two right away.
Go full screen and turn up the sound.

That's all I have this morning.  
Too many interruptions. 
Too little time...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Roubini Questions for Janet Yellen

Who, indeed? To coin an old Truman phrase, 
these guys don't know any more about monetary policy 
than a pig knows about Sunday.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

LtCol George Goodson, USMC (Ret) -- Burial at Sea

A reading for Veteran's Day.
Burial at Sea
by LtCol George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

August 13, 2004

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 37 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane
  • The smell of Nuc Mam.
  • The heat, dust, and humidity.
  • The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
  • Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
  • Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
  • Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
  • A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
  • The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina , Virginia , and Maryland .It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam . Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk , rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months this time.” Jolly breathed, “Jesus, you must be a slow learner Colonel.” I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.”

Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this G*dd@mn job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable.

Finally, I said, “Walt, what’s the h-ll’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here.. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

My third or fourth day in Norfolk , I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:
  • Name, rank, and serial number.
  • Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
  • Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.
  • Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.
A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina , about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina , I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John . Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper !

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Copper of (address.)

The father looked at me-I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me.

Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the store owner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk . Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.


Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation.” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder.

They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.


Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.


One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important, I need to see him now.”

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”


Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth…. I never could do that… and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland . The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam .”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my ass trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said,” George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.

I was and the Admiral did.. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed.”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the h-ll out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days.

Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever.

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me the f*ck out of here. I can’t take this sh_t anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!


I came across this remarkable remembrance in 2004 when I started my first blog. 
It has been republished several times since by me and others and always receives good comments.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday Links -- November 9

Morning coffee time now as I wait for the hectic Saturday ahead. Meantime, reports from the devastating typhoon in the Philippines are slowly coming in. The horrible stuff is yet to come...
Reminds me of this fascinating map and link. 

Our conventional way of defining regions—dividing the country along state boundaries into a Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest—masks the cultural lines along which attitudes toward violence fall. These lines don’t respect state boundaries. To understand violence or practically any other divisive issue, you need to understand historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.

Bloomberg News infuriated the government in 2012 by publishing a series of articles on the personal wealth of the families of Chinese leaders, including the new Communist Party chief, Xi Jinping. Bloomberg’s operations in China have suffered since, as new journalists have been denied residency and sales of its financial terminals to state enterprises have slowed. Chinese officials have said repeatedly that news coverage on the wealth and personal lives of Chinese leaders crosses a red line.

The perception among some Bloomberg employees that the company is now unwilling to cross such lines has left them unsettled. More broadly, it has cast new light on the dilemma that numerous foreign news organizations confront as they navigate the pressures of doing both journalism and business in China.

Here is Google's translation of the link. 
This is from R22 Blog. Check the photo.  
Guide to the "political Islam"
In the last two decades, a lot of talk about "political Islam". Whole terminology popular popularly received, carry this term along with some really tremendous amount of superstition. Historically, it was talking about Muslims and the lands of the Muslims. We had Islam not understood a porter for a specific political dimensions as we understand these things in the present era. Now, there are different types of "political Islam" contrasted with each other rather than contradict with other civilization

This is just too cool. 
Watch the video to the end. 

'Death to Arabs' sprayed on Palestinian kindergarten in Hebron
The only Palestinian kindergarten in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron is vandalized with threatening hate speech. Similar slogans found elsewhere in the H-2 part of the city.
Israeli settlers vandalized a Palestinian kindergarten in Hebron, spray-painting “Death to Arabs” on its wall, it was discovered this week. This is the only kindergarten in the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron to which Palestinian parents can send their three- to five- year-old children without them having to pass through an Israeli checkpoint.
“Death to Arabs” sprayed on door of Palestinian
nursery in Hebron (Photo: Breaking the Silence)
In other news...

Friday, November 8, 2013

HCR -- Insurance is Not Health Care

Attacks on Obamacare are getting on my nerves.

Lost in what passes for "discussion" is the simple fact that the costs and availability of health care are not the same as the costs or availability of insurance.
  • The role of insurance providers is the manage risks associated with payment
  • The role of health care providers is to manage risks associated with health care.
What the PPACA did, for the first time, is define clearly that minimal health care is now available for nearly everybody in America, and for the first time it will be "affordable."

To that end the role and limits of what we carelessly call "insurance" have been clearly defined. Those limits are still full of holes. The refusal of sixteen states to expand Medicaid has torn the holes open even further. And a non-health care industry is still sucking off twenty percent of "insurance" premiums for shareholder profits, sales bonuses, advertising, other marketing and contributions to executive compensation packages -- in addition to whatever administrative costs are incurred in managing the actuarial and administrative functions -- none of which, please notice, are costs of health care.

The fact is that most Americans were already "insured" to receive health care one way or another before the legislation, but only a few really understood how much that care is really costing. The reasons include employer and tax subsidies, a large number of beneficiaries actually receiving true "government health care" through the VA, armed forces medical services, community clinics, Medicaid and emergency care mandated by EMTALA. In none of those cases did the costs of care interfere with the availability of care -- sometimes excellent, sometimes barely minimal.

Now that those costs are being made clear through new insurance limits, many people are shocked, shocked I tell you, that those costs are so damn high.
Welcome to the real world, Virginia. No matter what you thought before your
elected officials finally did something to reveal the hemorrhage that was about to bleed the economy dry, you now know there is problem.

The problem is not, and has never been, the costs of insurance, but the costs of health care. What America is now facing is the economic equivalent of adult onset diabetes. If we don't control our appetites and cut back on sugar, we're gonna face consequences no one wants to have, up to and including a good chance of being dead.

It's time to face reality. This is about the bloated costs of health care, not the costs of insurance.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Morning Links -- November 6

Yesterday was election day. 
Despite all the trouble with the new insurance reform legislation (mistakenly called health care reform) Democrats and ordinary Republicans -- as opposed to Tea Party reactionaries -- did tolerably well. 
These links are in no particular order. 
I post them as I come across them.
Finding and blogging them is time-consuming enough. On days when there is plenty of time at my disposal I am better at organizing. But this morning I'm limited to less than two hours. 
...a small but significant example: the book says that Amazon has an edge over bricks-and-mortar retailers because it has a "negative operating cycle", meaning its consumers pay it upfront while it pays its suppliers later, meaning it essentially gets free financing from its customers, which is a very very valuable thing to have for a business (as the owner of a consulting business, I certainly wish I were so lucky). The thing is, the "negative operating cycle" is not a feature of online-vs-offline businesses, it is a feature of *retail* businesses, as opposed to most other businesses. It's dead obvious: you pay Walmart upfront while it pays its suppliers later, just as much as Amazon. It's a significant error. If you describe the negative operating cycle this way in a carefully edited book, it means you just don't understand the concept at all. And it is a thoroughly foundational concept of the financial analysis of business. More businesses are destroyed by poor working capital management than by insufficient revenues. How can you analyze an online retail business if you don't understand how working capital works? It would be as if someone wrote a book about Boeing and described planes the way you would describe helicopters. Even if every other fact was correct, you would doubt the writer understands what he's describing.

Jeff Bezos is, for my money, the greatest business genius alive today. I certainly don't think you can argue he shouldn't be in the Top 10, or Top 5. And it's much too soon to draw a full account of some of Amazon's most daring adventures, such as Kindle and AWS. So it is perhaps an impossibly high bar to expect outstanding analysis of Amazon from any book written in 2013. But my hunger was not sated. The book is great at cataloguing facts, but not so great at analysis. I am reminded of the point John Gruber made about Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio: that it may be the definitive book on Jobs's life, but not on his work. Regardless of the controversy around the factual accuracy of the book, it's certainly not the definitive book on the work that is Amazon.
Nelly Ally doesn't post frequently, but when she does her stories can tear out your heart.
My name is Nelly Ali, I am Lecturer and a PhD student in the department of Geography, Environment and Development. My research is with Street Children in Cairo. I lecture on Childhood Studies at the Institute of Education, Birkbeck College, University of London and Anglia Ruskin University. I am also an active commentator on the socio-political situation in Egypt.
It was a few months and 15 group therapy sessions later that I found out why Amal was at the shelter. She had been raped for the last 4 years by her stepfather. Yes, reader, that was a full stop after that sentence. It’s a full stop because how can I cage the horror of that event in the form of words I type and you read?! For four years Amal had been subjected to the daily sexual assault of a father figure. It was only when Amal’s mother had walked into the house unexpectedly, that she made out the shrieking sound of her 9 year old daughter screaming, her husband grunting, and found him raping her young daughter, did the father’s sexual abuse come to an end.

Read what happens when KSA cracks down on "illegal immigrants."  In this case they are not immigrants but "foreign workers" using fake passports. 
Hello, America... anybody listening? 
Crackdown cripples life
JEDDAH/RIYADH – Residents and citizens woke up on Tuesday to a day crippled by a lack of necessary services as illegal expat workers, who failed to rectify their status, stayed indoors for fear of being arrested. 
Streets were less crowded where taxi drivers charged exorbitant fares, markets wore a deserted look, many commercial establishments and hospitals reported no-shows, shutters were down on many grocery stores and eateries, street vendors were no where to be seen. Customers were forced to fill grocery bags themselves at super market counters in the absence of expat workers who did this job. 
A Saudi national in Jeddah summed up the scenario: “It seems that the country was full of violators. Shops are closed, streets are empty, restaurants are empty. I counted 30 cell phone shops on one street closed. God help us! Where are the citizens?”

In Jazan, a number of Saudis said that they had to go to their workplaces, wearing un-ironed thobe and headgear (shemagh) as most of the laundries remained closed. “There was no way for me to wear a washed and ironed thobe and shemagh as I saw doors of the laundry where I deposited my clothes closed without any notice,” said Muhammad Qassem. Even the dead had to suffer. 
About 13 facilities for washing dead bodies were shut down in Jeddah due to the absence of workers. Those who wash dead bodies at these facilities are part-time workers who are scared of inspection raids.  [More at the link.]

Boosting startup companies need not mean giving them a blank, undated check not to pay taxes when they become prosperous.  This is not only crazy. It's stupid. 
When employees are paid in corporate stock options, the issuing companies can take a tax deduction for the difference between what the employees pay for the options and what the stocks are worth when the options are exercised years later. 
"Tax breaks for executive stock options have become an increasingly effective corporate tax avoidance tool," CTJ said. 
Twitter has $107 million of unused stock option deductions it can apply to future earnings, the report said.

President Vladimir Putin has proposed that the government use smart cameras to identify immigrants.
He said such technology would be able to help the Federal Migration Service keep track of the many migrant workers from former Soviet republics who can enter the country without a visa.
The president made the proposal Tuesday after meeting with the head of a startup company that is using smart cameras to identify people's faces and vehicles for secure access to bank machines and parking areas.
Public discontent over rising numbers of foreign workers has heated up in recent months, and in Moscow thousands of migrants have been detained in police raids.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chris Christie & Public Education -- Symptoms of a Problem

This link appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. 
Brave Teacher Speaks Out in SCATHING Letter After Chris Christie Berates Her!
Posted by: Howard Crane 

November 3, 2013
During a campaign stop at a Rutgers football rally on Saturday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was confronted by Mary Tomlinson, a public school teacher at Buena Regional Middle School, who showed up to ask the Governor one simple question: “Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?” 
Apparently, Governor Christie was none too pleased with the question as he lashed out at the teacher, violently pointing his finger and yelling, “You people! Just do your job!” 

Christie cut more than $1 billion in state aid to schools in his first year in office. Last month he gave a speech to the Orthodox Union in Teaneck stating 
“I would be happy to take as many dollars as possible away from failure factories that send children on a non-stop route to prison and to failed dreams, if we could take that money and put it into a place where those families have hope.” 
Melissa Tomlinson merely wanted a rational and much deserved explanation to her question. Unfortunately, all she received was the typical immature bullying we find all too often among Conservatives. This teacher refused to back down though, writing a SCATHING letter to Christie [which you may read here].

Christie is tapping into a growing theme in politics, an atavistic revolt against free compulsory public education, which has been the foundation of progress all over the world for generations. Without going into the origins of this grassroots impulse, I am disturbed, if not disgusted by a move to take the most promising students from public schools to attend ostensibly "better" schools. Private secular schools (or where I live, places advertised as "Christian" schools), magnet schools, charter schools, home schooling... all of these alternatives to old-fashioned free public education are having a terrible, self-fulfilling, toxic feedback impact on teachers, administrators and students being left out in growing numbers. Not only do students remaining in public schools become more challenging to teach as a group, they have the added disadvantage of not having as many high-achieving peers to serve as better role models. The challenge to teachers is that they are expected to get better results, even as their most promising students -- those with involved, supportive families, often the ones with the most important values of hard work, appreciation for learning and typically the financial means -- those most likely to succeed are being selectively removed from their classrooms. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had 
a heated exchange with a teacher 
on the campaign trail this  weekend.
The teacher penned a note to him.
I'm all for a few good private schools. I know personally both faculty and students from some of the best private schools, both secular and religious, in places where I have lived. There is no question that private schools offer a better educational product than the public alternatives. One of our children was in an excellent private school for two years where we as a family and she as a student, were given a golden opportunity to "learn how to learn" when a learning disability (and no, that does NOT mean a lower level of intelligence) is part of the challenge.

But what I am observing now is a contamination and destruction of public education from many of the very people who claim to be most concerned about the education of their children. We live in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. America is history's most ambitious experiment in determining how and whether people from all over the world can live together peacefully and productively. But driven by a desire to shield their children from alien ideas and values, fearful that the next generation will be somehow less successful, less diligent, less accomplished than they, a growing number of parents with good intentions are closing ranks with others who share those fears, and removing their children from public classrooms. This is a serious loss, not only for those left behind and their teachers, but the students themselves who are being robbed of the interpersonal skills and strength of character needed to live an prosper in a multi-dimensional social matrix.

I hope Chris Christie is wrong in his political instincts. But I'm afraid he may be tapping into a not-too-subtle trend to vilify public schools generally and public school teachers and administrators specifically. Last year's ugly confrontation in Wisconsin was symptomatic of a large and growing antipathy toward public service generally and school teachers as a group. My memory is that teachers were a big part of those demonstrations. Those events were not as violent as the demonstrations that marked the political landscape of 1968 but they reflected a similar level of outrage against a core of the political class. I am personally aware of a vague paranoia regarding the new national Core Curriculum and more people than I like to admit are trying to cause it to fail rather than look for ways to make it work. There is a Facebook page dedicated to what they term "inappropriate core curriculum" values or lessons with over two and a half thousand members.

My children became adults years ago and have children of their own. Thus far the grandchildren old enough to be in school are in public schools. But I know and appreciate the misgivings their parents have about what they perceive as a deterioration of the public school system. They make decisions about where they will live based in large part on the reputation and feedback they receive about the schools their children will attend. In fact, when we relocated from downtown to suburbia, it was the availability of advanced teaching techniques in the public schools that was the deciding factor. But that is exactly the point. We were leaving the private school environment and moving to a place where public schools had a good reputation -- not to a place where our children would be removed from their peer group and sent to the sheltered environment of a private, magnet or charter school.

Take a look at this video. It's three years old. Forget what Christie says -- that's already well known. 

Pay attention instead to the response of the crowd when he does his bullying act on a teacher.  No, I said that wrong. It's not an act. This man is a bully. He's not pretending. 

Here is another video featuring Melissa Tomlinson as guest on the Ed Show.
She mentioned the crowd's supportive response to the governor's behavior as well. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nick Kristof on Obamacare

I'm too pissed off to write anything rational 
about this so I copied it in full. 
Kristof says it well. 
Just read it. 

This Is Why We Need Obamacare
By Nicholas D. Kristof

THE biggest health care crisis in America right now is not the inexcusably messy rollout of Obamacare.

No, far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore. His problem isn’t Obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that may kill him because Obamacare didn’t come quite soon enough.

Nicholas D. Kristof
Streeter had health insurance for decades, but beginning in 2008 his employer no longer offered it as an option. He says he tried to buy individual health insurance but, as a lifelong smoker in his late 40s, couldn’t find anything affordable — so he took a terrible chance and did without.

At the beginning of this year, Streeter began to notice blood in his bowel movements and discomfort in his rectum. Because he didn’t have health insurance, he put off going to the doctor and reassured himself it was just irritation from sitting too many hours.

“I thought it was driving a truck and being on your keister all day,” he told me. Finally, the pain became excruciating, and he went to a cut-rate clinic where a doctor, without examining him, suggested it might be hemorrhoids.

By September, Streeter couldn’t stand the pain any longer. He went to another doctor, who suggested a colonoscopy. The cheapest provider he could find was Dr. J. Scott Gibson, a softhearted gastroenterologist who told him that if he didn’t have insurance he would do it for $300 down and $300 more whenever he had the money.

Streeter made the 100-mile drive to Dr. Gibson’s office in McMinnville, Ore. — and received devastating news. Dr. Gibson had found advanced colon cancer.

“It was heartbreaking to see the pain on his face,” Dr. Gibson told me. “It got me very angry with people who insist that Obamacare is a train wreck, when the real train wreck is what people are experiencing every day because they can’t afford care.”

Dr. Gibson says that Streeter is the second patient he has had this year who put off getting medical attention because of lack of health insurance and now has advanced colon cancer.

So, to those Republicans protesting Obamacare: You’re right that there are appalling problems with the website, but they will be fixed. Likewise, you’re right that President Obama misled voters when he said that everyone could keep their insurance plan because that’s now manifestly not true (although they will be able to get new and better plans, sometimes for less money).

But how about showing empathy also for a far larger and more desperate group: The nearly 50 million Americans without insurance who play health care Russian roulette as a result. FamiliesUSA, a health care advocacy group that supports Obamacare, estimated last year that an American dies every 20 minutes for lack of insurance.

It has been a year since my college roommate, Scott Androes, died of prostate cancer, in part because he didn’t have insurance and thus didn’t see a doctor promptly. Scott fully acknowledged that he had made a terrible mistake in economizing on insurance, but, in a civilized country, is this a mistake that people should die from?

“Website problems are a nuisance,” Dr. Gibson said. “Life and death is when you need care and can’t afford to get it.”

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council this year ranked the United States health care system last or near last in several categories among 17 countries studied. The Commonwealth Fund put the United States dead last of seven industrialized countries in health care performance. And Bloomberg journalists ranked the United States health care system No. 46 in efficiency worldwide, behind Romania and Iran.

The reason is simple: While some Americans get superb care, tens of millions without insurance get marginal care. That’s one reason life expectancy is relatively low in America, and child mortality is twice as high as in some European countries. Now that’s a scandal.

Yet about half the states are refusing to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured people — because they don’t trust Obamacare and want it to fail. The result will be more catastrophes like Streeter’s.

“I am tired of being the messenger of death,” said Dr. Gibson. “Sometimes it’s unavoidable. But when people come in who might have been saved if they could have afforded care early on, then to have to tell them that they have a potentially fatal illness — I’m very tired of that.”

Streeter met with a radiologist on Thursday and is bracing for an arduous and impoverishing battle with the cancer. There’s just one bright spot: He signed up for health care insurance under Obamacare, to take effect on Jan. 1.

For him, the tragedy isn’t that the Obamacare rollout has been full of glitches, but that it may have come too late to save his life.d care and can’t afford to get it.”
  • The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council this year ranked the United States health care system last or near last in several categories among 17 countries studied. 
  • The Commonwealth Fund put the United States dead last of seven industrialized countries in health care performance. 
  • And Bloomberg journalists ranked the United States health care system No. 46 in efficiency worldwide, behind Romania and Iran. 
The reason is simple: While some Americans get superb care, tens of millions without insurance get marginal care. That’s one reason life expectancy is relatively low in America, and child mortality is twice as high as in some European countries. Now that’s a scandal. Yet about half the states are refusing to expand Medicaid to cover more uninsured people — because they don’t trust Obamacare and want it to fail. 

The result will be more catastrophes like Streeter’s. “I am tired of being the messenger of death,” said Dr. Gibson. “Sometimes it’s unavoidable. But when people come in who might have been saved if they could have afforded care early on, then to have to tell them that they have a potentially fatal illness — I’m very tired of that.” Streeter met with a radiologist on Thursday and is bracing for an arduous and impoverishing battle with the cancer. There’s just one bright spot: He signed up for health care insurance under Obamacare, to take effect on Jan. 1. For him, the tragedy isn’t that the Obamacare rollout has been full of glitches, but that it may have come too late to save his life.

Saturday Links -- November 2

Evan Hill is a staff writer for Al Jazeera America living in Cairo. 
According to his FB page, Sammy Nour lives in Cairo. 

Sammy Nour
7 hours ago  near  El `Agûza, Al Jizah, Egypt ·

Worst Halloween ever. Best friend, 3 other random guys, and a random girl get arrested by the army after an awesome party at the US embassy cuz they are dressed in egyptian army and Air Force Halloween costumes. They did not roam the streets in their outfits. They simply walked out to a brigade of soldiers pick them out one by one. All of them have been sent to prison for 4 days so the security can make sure they are not a threat to society. Please pray for them to get out safe and sound.

==>  They will don't worry it's just because these days are not safe specially that MBs wore army suits before and still doing tht inshallah everything will be ok

==>  Let's hope they don't get jailed for impersonating military personnel
==>  I was talking to Mohamed now and told him about that he told me that its forbidden to wear military suits its a law in the whole world rabena ma3ahom inshaallah
==>  Yeah, happened to a friend of mine too.. He got in so much trouble like 3 years ago.. But his dad was able to get him out
==>  Who's his dad?
==>  Any help would be great.
==>  His dad is a doctor, it took him around 3 months of talkin to different people to get him out, I don't have much details though.. Things are different now, people in power changed

How can one discern the difference between the writer and her ghost writer? More to the point, why not pay attention to the message and forget the messenger. 

   Death Mtookin ‏@sethmnookin1h

Ate, went up to shower, heading back down in a sec. Will ping you when leave my room.

   Daniel Drezner‏@dandrezner

#TMI RT @sethmnookin Ate, went up to shower, heading back down in a sec. Will ping you when leave my room.

And more, maybe?