Desperation and religion

Ferguson says Rogovy operated the Christian Prayer Center, creating fake religious leaders and posting false testimonials on its website to entice people to pay from $9 to $35 for prayers. The attorney general says Rogovy collected over $7 million from consumers between 2011 and 2015…

Consumers nationwide who purchased prayer services from Christian Prayer Service or Oracion Cristiana between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015 can receive a full refund…

The Eviction Epidemic

Throughout Evicted, Desmond underscores how eviction destabilizes both his white and black subjects, calling attention to this nationwide epidemic. But the book makes it clear that the problem is especially pervasive for low-income black women struggling to stay in their homes…

“If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women,” Desmond writes. “Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.” …

Surveying tenants at court in 2011, Desmond found that people with children at home were almost three times more likely to receive an eviction judgement.

“Children didn’t shield families from eviction; they exposed them to it,” he writes…

The book describes how families with eviction records are forced to find rentals with looser requirements, and end up in homes in poor condition or in more dangerous areas. Landlords make serious profits on the worst housing by exploiting desperate tenants…

A slow death sentence

I guess I should thank the New York Times for finally publishing an article that tells the side of pain patients. But, it’s a matter of too little, too late, so the Times can go jump in a lake.

I’ve been reading all of the articles on the CDC’s new opioid guidelines this week, and really, I just don’t know what to say. There are millions of pain patients in this country who will be affected by these new rules, and I know they are now grieving for the lives they’ve been able to live while under opioid therapy. And I grieve with them, for even though I’m not taking opioids at this time, I know that in the future, I may very well need them.

Under comments:

Kaleberg port angeles, wa 1 day ago
For God’s sake, look at these poor people, with their fractured bones, compressed spines, and stroke damage. Look at the pictures of their pain-wracked faces, and then ask yourself what kind of a society tells these desperate souls that their only relief is counseling, anti-depressants, and acupuncture.

J Earth 23 hours ago
My mother has been chronically ill for 16 years. She is in excruciating pain 24 hours a day. The pain is often so bad that she throws up. One of her many diseases includes a blood disorder that destroys her platelets. Because of this blood disorder, she cannot take standard over-the-counter medications, like Advil (Iburofin). She has tried every alternative treatment available. Nothing works. She takes approximately 1-2 percocet each day, which allow her to get a few hours a sleep at night, and perform some basic daytime routines. In the past few years, she’s been forced to jump through hoops to get these life-saving pills. She has had to sign a contract, like the one mentioned in the article. She has to have random drug screening from her doctor. It makes her feel like a criminal. When I told her about these new guidelines, it literally struck fear in our family. We know she will commit suicide if she cannot control the pain. Those who have not experienced this type of pain cannot imagine it. It destroys every part of your life — every part of your soul. A person in this much pain just wants it to end. I’m deeply afraid my mother’s only alternative will be suicide. The ‘war on the sick’ will continue until we start to reconsider this important question — whose rights are more important? Those of the very sick? Or those of the addicts? It’s clear that politicians have decided that addicts are more important. That’s a shame.

GLK Cambridge 1 day ago
Physical therapy, acupuncture, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, counseling. Have done it all. So much physical therapy in 2015 that I ran out the allowed number of sessions on my insurance. Counseling, mindfulness? Being mindful of one’s physical and mental state is counterproductive when you’re in constant, chronic, mind-robbing pain. Exercise, diet, all of that, there isn’t anything I haven’t tried. And after five years of being able to function reasonably on a never-increased daily maintenance dose of oxycodone, I gave it up voluntarily, because of the hand-wringing over addiction and misuse, because I felt ashamed filling the prescription; no, it would be more accurate to say that I was made to feel ashamed, by ever more contemptuous glances from the pharmacists, and the increasingly difficult task of finding a pharmacy that stocked the proper generic in the proper dose. So now I suffer, and don’t sleep, and work only by dint of intense, exhausting re-focusing. And I suppose some readers will think that if I was able to stop just like that, the pain couldn’t have been that bad to begin with. No, it’s just that I was raised old-fashioned, and suffering wins out over shame every time. Thank you, government scolds, and thank you, hyperbolic media, for this slow death sentence.

RC is a trusted commenter MN 1 day ago
A few questions for the investigative journalists at the NYT: will wealthy politicians or their relatives, when suffering intractable pain, be restricted to “aspirin and ibuprofen” or only 3-7 days of opioids? Will medical personnel, or injured soldiers, or famous celebrities, also follow the same restrictions? Are we potentially creating a two-tiered system, similar to income inequality, which forces those without “clout” to suffer pain unnecessarily?

Don’t Forget to Look Up

I checked on the rose bushes yesterday:

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Above the rose bushes lives my old pal, Fido:

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While other dogs make a fuss when I walk by taking pictures, Fido is quiet and never growls or barks at me. Unfortunately, in front of the rose bushes is a popular spot for the doggies to potty, making it like a minefield to traverse. (I was tempted to include a photo of dog poop with this post, but I’m happy to report that I was able to refrain… almost.)

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December 2015



November 2015



Most deaths from firearm violence are suicides, not homicides

I think we can trace the rise of Donald Drumpf back to the year 2009, and the creation of the Tea Party. They called themselves Republicans, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate label. Is Mr. Drumpf really a Republican? Is Hillary Clinton really a Democrat? Really?

Maybe we need to recognize that Mr. Drumpf represents a third party, neither Democrat or Republican.

Some people aren’t fans of labels, but I don’t think labels are always bad. After all, it’s good to know the names of things, including the labels we give ourselves. But in the American political arena, if you’re not a Republican or Democrat, you basically don’t exist. So, if you want to fully participate, you have to choose one label or the other, and Mr. Drumpf chose the Republican label.

The meanings of words can change over time, just like the meanings of labels. And since the meanings of “Republican” and “Democrat” have changed so much, from decade to decade, these labels have become almost meaningless (or they both mean the same thing).

If my only choice for a political label is Democrat or Republican, I choose neither. When I applied for my New Mexican driver’s license, I was asked if I wanted to registered to vote. I registered as an independent. (In New Mexico, only Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primaries.)

I can’t imagine that I’d ever vote for someone with a Republican label, but that doesn’t mean that I disagree with everything about the Republican party. What don’t I like about the Republican party platform? Well, there’s the denial of climate change. And the rejection of the separation of church and state.

And then there’s guns.

I’m trying to understand the side of gun lovers. I really am. I’m reminded of a Phil Collins song called “Both Sides Of The Story”:

White man turns the corner
Finds himself within a different world
Ghetto kid grabs his shoulder
Throws him up against the wall
He says
“Would you respect me
if I didn’t have this gun?
‘Cos without it, I don’t get it,
and that’s why I carry one.”

I guess there are many reasons to own a gun — for protection, and yes, for respect. Perhaps that means we should start showing other people more respect, so they won’t feel the need to own a gun.

Unfortunately, gun lovers refuse to address the issue of guns and suicides (and domestic violence). Which I don’t understand, since these suicides are mostly happening in the white, male population. It’s happening in the veteran population, known for their love of guns. And all of this gun worshiping and use has bled into our schools. Into our militarized police forces. Into our daily lives…

The handgun used in last week’s apparent murder-suicide of two 15-year-old girls found shot dead at their suburban Phoenix high school was furnished by a fellow student at the request of one of the girls, police said on Tuesday. Sergeant David Vidaure… said the girl had obtained the weapon from her classmate, a 15-year-old boy, on the eve of last Friday’s fatal shooting after telling him “she needed it for protection.”

Statehouse Republicans, including the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jake Highfill, said the the legislation was an issue of parents’ rights designed to correct “an injustice in Iowa code” that now forbids children 14 and younger from handling pistols. Highfill said his measure would bring the law on children’s use of handguns in line with regulations for shotguns and rifles, which don’t restrict the age of children using them under parental supervision…

During the ten years from 2003 to 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 313,045 persons died from firearm-related injuries in the United States. These deaths outnumber US combat fatalities in World War II; they outnumber the combined count of combat fatalities in all other wars in the nation’s history…

Most deaths from firearm violence are suicides, not homicides—60.5%, on average, over the decade ending in 2012. Over the past 30 years, suicide has exceeded homicide even when firearm homicide rates were at their highest, and it was also the case for most of the twentieth century. There has been a notable divergence in firearm suicide and homicide rates since 2006; homicides have decreased, but suicides have increased by a like amount…


Ty Hazlett handles an assault rifle on display at Westside Armory, Las Vegas, NV (CREDIT: John Francis Peters)