Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Philadelphia Spectrum Openers Announced
by: John Reynolds
September 16, 2009
Philadelphia Rock FM station WMMR is showing the opening bands for Pearl Jam’s four concerts to close the Spectrum
◦Tuesday Oct 27 – Social Distortion
◦Wednesday Oct 28 – Social Distortion
◦Friday Oct 30 – Bad Religion
◦Saturday Oct 31 – Bad Religion
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
The View From Your Sickbed
by Patrick Appel
A mother describes her family's struggle to keep their daughter Sophie insured:
In fall of 2005, we decided to switch from our private, self-employment insurance that we had used for years to Blue Cross. There was a week long gap between the policies - something that we didn't think anything of, because we simply did not know better. Just as our Blue Cross plan was set to start, we received a notice from them stating that they considered Sophie to have a pre-existing pulmonary problem (due to the amount of doctor's visits for pneumonia), and that while they would cover her in general, they wouldn't cover any pulmonary/respiratory issues until she had gone two years without needing medication or problems.
Our reaction: OMG. Actually I believe it was OMFG. All of a sudden, Sophie was without coverage for pulmonary problems. This was absolutely terrifying. What if she got sick?! What if she needed to be hospitalized?! We spent the next couple of months researching every insurance company that we could, begging them to take Sophie. Nope, it wasn't going to happen.
And then our biggest fear came true: Sophie got very, very sick.
And I'm ashamed to say that although we knew that she was incredibly ill, we actually considered keeping her home from the doctor's office, as we knew that this would be yet another strike against her getting insurance. Luckily we pulled our heads out of our asses and took her to the doctor anyway, and it's good that we did, because Sophie was so critically ill that she was sent straight from the doctor's office to ICU. She was so sick that we couldn't even wait for an ambulance; they helped me throw our limp, blue daughter into our car, and I drove like hell to get her to the hospital next door.
Let me state that very clearly one more time: we almost didn't take our baby girl, who was in severe respiratory distress, to the doctor because we knew that it would hurt her chances of getting insurance.
I realize that your reality of living in the U.S. and of health insurance is likely very different than this. But I'm going to ask you to sit for a moment and imagine being in our shoes in that situation. Imagine the shame and guilt of almost keeping your child home from the hospital until it was too late, and then imagine the horror of seeing your child naked in ICU, hooked to many different machines. There is no way to describe how this felt.
One night in ICU? $10,000, not covered by insurance.
After this hospitalization, we were approached by a hospital social worker, who suggested we apply for SoonerCare. SoonerCare is Oklahoma's Medicaid program for kids. Luckily I'm a social worker who was working for a non-profit at the time, so we had no problems meeting financial criteria. (Ha ha. A little social work humor there.) SoonerCare does NOT exclude kids for pre-existing conditions, and it covers Sophie's medications and treatment 100%.
Since that horrible October in 2005, Sophie has needed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of treatments, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, testing, and interventions in order to stay strong and healthy, and in some instances, to stay alive.
She has required three bronchoscopies, the middle section of her lung removed, extensive genetic testing, cardiology work ups, dozens of x-rays, CT scans, and a two week trip to a pulmonary hospital in Denver. When she's healthy, she requires three steroids, twice a day, and when she's sick she is usually on five steroids, twice daily. She's been diagnosed with right middle lobe syndrome (though not anymore, since she had it removed), a genetic mutation of cystic fibrosis, severe uncontrollable asthma, and severe sinus disease.
Since SoonerCare is the only insurance that will accept Sophie, we have to meet their financial criteria, which means living at or below the poverty level. I have had to quit wonderful jobs because I made too much money to qualify for SoonerCare. At this point I can only work either part-time, or for a very small salary, because we CANNOT afford to lose Sophie's healthcare coverage. It's the most important thing in our lives. We structure every single financial and professional decision we make around staying eligible for SoonerCare.
And while we'll gladly continue to live at the poverty level in order to provide our daughter with the healthcare that keeps her alive, we SHOULDN'T HAVE TO. We would happily pay outrageous premiums and co-pays, and do whatever else it took to get Sophie covered by regular health insurance. But you know what they all tell us?
She has to go two years with no pulmonary medications and no doctor's visits because of respiratory problems before anyone will accept her. Sophie can't go two DAYS without her medications, let alone two years.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The View From Your Sickbed III
by Patrick Appel
A reader writes:
I wanted to second the reader who identified the non-transparency of health care costs as a huge part of the problem. He recited the issues with his wife's pregnancy receiving minimal coverage even though they had private health insurance.
My sister recently had a similar situation, when a needle she used for her insulin injection broke off in her thigh. She had to have it removed surgically in a brief outpatient procedure. She has good health insurance through her husband's job, but she wanted to know the cost of the procedure, to determine her copay. She asked the doctor's office how much the procedure would cost and was told between $5,000 to $6,000. (Don't have your heart attack yet over the insanity of $5000 for a simple outpatient surgery plus xray or scan to determine the location of the needle. As Dylan said, "Now ain't the time for your tears".) She had her uneventful surgery and got the bill for $15,000. For an uncomplicated outpatient surgery. After being quoted a price 1/3 that price.
Why did she even ask the price of the procedure if they were going to be off by 250% or more? If my sister wanted to call around to surgeons to get a better price (and she would, to reduce her copay, if nothing else), what would be the point? What if my sister had been uninsured - how would she plan to reduce her costs based on such misinformation? The price of health care procedures is nothing but a dart thrown at numbers on a dart board. The insurers, the doctors and the hospitals all have blame in this process. Unfortunately, the uninsured and the poorly insured - and both groups are gaining in numbers daily - pay these outrageous prices.
11 Aug 2009 11:09 am
The View From Your Sickbed
A reader writes:
A comment from this reader finally got me to write out my experience.
“To me, the worst part of the American health care financing system is that you can't tell what your treatment will cost.”
Amen to that. I am a graduate student at a large state school in Illinois. My wife and I wanted to start our family before graduating. Her biological clock was ticking, so she said. The first thing we did in planning was look into health insurance. The school provides insurance to its students at a low, subsidized rate. However, if a student wants to add a spouse, the rate jumps to about $1200 per semester (less for a child). Pretty high percentage of a grad student stipend, but at least it would cover a pregnancy within one year of purchasing the policy (nothing else I found would). It is a typical 80/20 plan after deductible. Naively, we thought this meant that after the deductible was met, they would pay 80% of the remaining cost. Not so. They pay 80% of what they call the “usual and customary” charges for whatever procedure you have. Anything over that magical number is completely your responsibility. How do you find out if your hospital/doctor/surgeon will charge you at or below this number? For all intents and purposes - you can’t.
This is how it was explained to me: There is a code for each procedure in every region of the country. And this code is the only way an insurance rep can look up what they deem usual and customary. They cannot look up the procedure name, only the code. So if you really want to know what, say a pregnancy is going to cost, you somehow have to get the hospital/doctor office to tell you what the insurance code is for every possible procedure you may have – a separate one for everything from a simple blood test, to an ultrasound, to a c-section surgery - and then tell you how much that procedure costs. Just imagine how much work this would be for everything associated with even a routine pregnancy. I certainly don’t have that much time to spend on the phone (assuming you can find someone who knows the codes and is able/willing to tell you). Then after all that, you have to call the insurance company and ask them what the usual and customary charges are for the codes and compare that to what you got from the doctor. Of course I have yet to mention that you have to figure out if there is a discount negotiated between your doctor and the insurance company (probably), which changes everything. We really had no idea if the prenatal visits and delivery would end up being thousands of dollars above the usual and customary amount. Maybe a vaginal delivery would be under, but a c-section wouldn’t. You don’t know. And what about emergencies? You’re supposed to do all this after realizing you’re having a heart attack so you know which hospital you should have the ambulance take you to?
Now here’s some irony for you. My wife had to quit working when she was put on bed rest at 28 weeks. This lowered our income enough that we qualified for Illinois’s All Kids program (thank you ex-Governor “Blago”). The entire pregnancy ended up costing us nothing. Now, a year later, we are extremely happy with the All Kids care my wife and son are now on. The money we save on medical costs just about make up for her not working.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The tension between the business interests of the conservative-industrial-complex and the Republican party is real. There is a huge amount of money to be made by selling to a segment of the country that alienates the critical middle that every party needs to occupy to remain a national force. And so the success of the movement risks the failure of the party. And the failure of the party - its permanent isolation from power - only fuels the resentment and alienation that make so much moolah.
This is the GOP's Fox problem. You ride that fox; it eats you in the end.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
A MUST READ FROM A READER OF SULLIVAN'S BLOG. ANOTHER REASON WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND HISTORY. . .
A reader writes:
Your obvious shock and dismay at the sheer angry ignorance of the health care teabaggers reiterates my largest problem with your rosy immigrant's view of America. You have often underestimated just how poisonously dangerous the American populist right is.
I don't blame you. You came to America after the rise of Reagan. Most of your life in America, you have lived under different Republican presidents who placated these folks with platitudes and campaign rhetoric. The one period when the populist right didn't feel they had a fellow traveler in charge was when Bill Clinton was elected(thanks to the reactionaries splitting their votes). You remember, no doubt, the level of crazy Clinton had to defuse and dodge, and this was a man who had the advantage of being a Southern bubba who has dealt which such people all his life.
For most of your time in America, this insanity has been muted by the success of
conservative politics. Since you live in Washington, you probably saw daily the
face of the successful conservative political establishment that milked the
populist right, and by milking them kept their bitterness at a manageable level.
That safety valve was stuffed up by George Bush's failed presidency.
So now, these people are facing their worst fears; actual change. A political and demographic re-alignment is happening before their eyes, and they are reaching back into their old bag of tricks of intimidation, violence, and apocalyptic fearmongering. You are British, Andrew. You love this country, and we love you for it. But you didn't grow up around these folks, and you don't realize what a permanent and potent part of the American political landscape they are.
They have always been with us, the people who believed in manifest destiny, who delighted in the slaughter of this land's original inhabitants, who cheered a nation into a civil war to support an economic system of slavery that didn't even benefit them. They are the people who bashed the unions and cheered on the anti-sedition laws, who joined the Pinkertons and the No Nothing Party, who beat up Catholic immigrants and occasionally torched the black part of town. They rode through the Southern pine forests at night, they banned non-European immigration, they burned John Rockefeller Jr. in effigy for proposing the Grand Tetons National Park.
These are the folks who drove Teddy Roosevelt out of the Republican Party and called his cousin Franklin a communist, shut their town's borders to the Okies and played the protectionist card right up til Pearl Harbor, when they suddenly had a new foreign enemy to hate. They are with us, the John Birchers, the anti-flouride and black helicopter nuts, the squirrly commie-hating hysterics who always loved the
loyalty oath, the forced confession, the auto-de-fe. Those who await with baited
breath the race war, the nuclear holocaust, the cultural jihad, the second
coming, they make up much more of America then you would care to think.
I'm always optimistic about America. We're a naturally rich and beautiful place. Every generation we renew ourselves with a watering of immigrants committed to the American dream, immigrants like you. But please, Andrew, do not for a second underestimate the price in blood and tears we've always paid here for progress.
I voted for Obama with my fingers crossed, because I knew that as the populist right lost power, they would become more extreme, more concentrated, and more violent. As to dismissing them as only a quarter or so of America, please remember that it only took a quarter or so of Americans to actively support the Confederacy.
HERE'S A LETTER WRITTEN TO ANDREW SULLIVAN'S BLOG:
The View From Your Sickbed
A reader writes:
Our twins are preemies - born at 34 weeks. While there were
no complications, it was cold-and-flu season when we brought them home. Their
health was a very precarious affair. We were under strict orders to keep them in
the house, to limit visitors, to always wash hands after coming back into the
house, etc. When we went to the pediatrician, she scheduled us on on a Saturday
afternoon when the office was empty in order to minimize potential contact with
other sick children.
At our first visit, she recommended a vaccination
for a common virus. This is a virus that everybody gets, and is generally mild.
With preemies, however, it can be quite severe and commonly results in
hospitalization and even death. It should have been done in the NICU, but it had
been missed. She scheduled us for the following week. She had to order the vax
since it was quite expensive (a total of about $16K.) Two days beforehand, she
notified us that our insurance company had denied the coverage as too expensive.
We then proceeded to try to get the insurance company to cover the vax.
Our doctor called. The NICU doctor called. We had conference calls with them and
the insurance company. We worked up the chain of command at the insurance
company. We had it done and paid out of pocket. What choice did we have?
Finally, we pulled in a specialist and managed to get high enough up the chain
to get it approved. By this point, it had become something of a crusade for the
various doctors involved. Two weeks later, my company's health insurance
premiums went up 30%.
Coincidence? Who knows. But when people talk about
rationing under socialized medicine, I always think, "You know, we have
rationing now, it just hasn't effected you. Yet." And mine was one of those
highly-vaunted "gold-plated" private health insurance policies.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE WIDE SCREEN VERSION:
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
WOW. . .
Sunday, May 31, 2009
WHEN HE RETURNS
The iron hand it ain't no match for the iron rod,
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God.
For all those who have eyes and all those who have ears
It is only He who can reduce me to tears.
Don't you cry and don't you die and don't you burn
For like a thief in the night, He'll replace wrong with right
When He returns.
Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow that it passes through,
He unleashed His power at an unknown hour that no one knew.
How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?
Can I cast it aside, all this loyalty and this pride?
Will I ever learn that there'll be no peace, that the war won't cease
Until He returns?
Surrender your crown on this blood-stained ground, take off your mask,
He sees your deeds, He knows your needs even before you ask.
How long can you falsify and deny what is real?
How long can you hate yourself for the weakness you conceal?
Of every earthly plan that be known to man, He is unconcerned,
He's got plans of His own to set up His throne
When He returns.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.
But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.
This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Around a hundred prisoners died during interrogation by US forces under George W. Bush.
While no human being is known to have died from staying awake, animal research strongly suggests it could happen. In the 1980s, a University of Chicago researcher named Allan Rechtschaffen conducted a series of groundbreaking experiments on rats. After 32 days of total sleep deprivation, all the rats were dead. Curiously, researchers still do not agree on the cause of death. It's possible that the rats' body temperature dropped so much that they succumbed to hypothermia. Another theory posits that the rats' immune systems became so depressed that bacteria normally sequestered in their intestines spread throughout their bodies—though Rechtschaffen counters that his rats perished even when they were administered antibiotics. A third explanation points to some evidence of brain damage among the sleep-deprived rats. It's also possible that extreme levels of stress contributed to the rats' demise.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The Avett Brothers combine bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock and roll, honky tonk and ragtime to produce a sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the "Heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of the Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones."
DON'T GIVE UP ON THIS SONG. IT GETS GOOD AT THE 2 MINUTE MARK. YOU CAN SEE HOW THEIR VIBE ON STAGE IS QUITE REFRESHING. . .
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
THIS IS A COOL ARTICLE.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The U.S. economy is in trouble, with financial institutions failing, millions of homes in foreclosure and unemployment rates rising steadily.
Some economists are calling the current downturn the worst since the Great Depression. Several of President Obama's closest economic advisers - including Christina Romer, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank - are scholars of the Depression and are looking for ways to avert a repeat of that catastrophic worldwide economic slump.
Though California's 11.2 percent unemployment rate is still far below the 25 percent unemployment the country suffered in the 1930s, the state is beginning to see tent cities of homeless people, bringing to mind the Hoovervilles of the Depression.
Some things, though, are different today because of the Depression. The country now has a social safety net - including Social Security, unemployment insurance and federal deposit insurance for bank accounts - because of policies enacted under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
As we struggle to make sense of our own precarious economy, we don't need textbooks to understand that earlier time. We have an even more direct link: the people who lived through it. The Chronicle spoke with Bay Area residents who grew up during the 1930s to gain perspective on the loss of jobs, homes and savings in our own uncertain times.
READ THE REST HERE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/19/MN0916O7G1.DTL
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Defending his brand of world politics, President Barack Obama said Sunday that he "strengthens our hand" by reaching out to enemies of the United States and making sure that the nation is a leader, not a lecturer, of democracy.
Obama's foreign doctrine emerged across his four-day trip to Latin America, his first extended venture to a region of the world where resentment of U.S. power still lingers. He got a smile, handshakes and even a gift from incendiary leftist leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and embraced overtures of new relations from isolated Cuban President Raul Castro.
"The whole notion was that if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness," Obama said, recalling his race for the White House and challenging his critics today.
READ THE REST HERE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/04/18/international/i003028D24.DTL
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one's mental equilibrium. It is your window on time's infinity. Once this window opens, don't try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.-Joseph Brodsky
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Sound quality is good. So enjoy!
Ameneh Bahrami poses on March 5, 2009 in Barcelona. Bahrami, of Iran, was blinded by a man who threw acid in her face. In 2008 an Iranian court ruled that the man -- identified only as Majid -- a spurned suitor who poured a bucket of sulfuric acid over her head, leaving her blind and disfigured, should also be blinded with acid, based on the Islamic law system of 'qisas', or eye for an eye retribution. Ms Bahrami has said that she is now waiting for a letter from the court to go back to Iran for the punishment to be carried out. By Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Just in case here's the original:
Here's the clip from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Pretty amazing!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
I've learned for two years now not to under-estimate Obama. I watched from the very start of the campaign how he strategized a path to achieving his goals partly by eschewing the kinds of tactics that Washington has come to see as political skill. I think of him in some ways as the Un-Rove. Karl Rove mastered the art of petty and nasty political tactics in the South of the post-Reagan era. And he never had a solid grip on conservatism as a political philosophy or of political strategy. And so Rove today endures as the architect of the biggest and deepest political implosion since the Democrats in the 1970s. It was all tactics, no strategy; all politics, no governance. He remains the worst single political strategist of modern times.
Now look at how Obama has framed the debate since the election. Every single symbolic act has been inclusive and sober. From that speech in Grant Park to the eschewal of euphoria on Inauguration Day; from the George Will dinner invite to the Rick Warren invocation; from meeting the House Republicans on the Hill to convening a fiscal responsibility summit; from telegraphing to all of us Obamacons that he wasn't a fiscal lunatic to ... unveiling the most expansive, liberal, big government reversal of Reagan any traditional Democrat would die for.
Smart, isn't he? He won the stimulus debate long before the Republicans realized it (they were busy doing tap-dances of victory on talk radio, while he was building a new coalition without them). And now, after presenting such a centrist, bi-partisan, moderate and personally trustworthy front, he gets to unveil a radical long-term agenda that really will soak the very rich and invest in the poor. Given the crisis, he has seized this moment for more radicalism than might have seemed possible only a couple of months ago.
The risk is, at least, a transparent risk. If none of this works, he will have taken a massive gamble and failed. The country will be bankrupt and he will have one term. His gamble with the economy may come to seem like Bush's gamble in Iraq. But if any of it works, if the economy recovers, and if the GOP continues to be utterly deaf and blind to the new landscape we live in, then we're talking less Reagan than FDR in long-term impact.
It's going to be a riveting first year, isn't it?
Monday, February 23, 2009
A man working in a gold mine is pictured on February 23, 2009 in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in Congo has often been linked to a struggle for control over its resources. Congo is rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt. The Democratic Republic of Congo government and the main former rebel group reached preliminary agreement on a wider peace deal for the east of the country on February 22, sources on both sides said. By Lionel Healing/AFP/Getty Images.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
GREAT ARTICLE DESCRIBING OBAMA'S DESIRE TO BE IN THE "KNOW."
You can stiff the president on a policy issue and defy him on a political one, but who can turn down an invitation to the White House?
Using one of the world’s most famous private residences as bait, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are unleashing a bipartisan charm offensive and exploiting every square inch of their new home to make friends and influence rivals. The social calendar suggests a return to the days of Camelot.
Since moving into their new digs, the first couple has hosted a half-dozen gatherings — from bipartisan cocktail receptions to a public open house to the more intimate Super Bowl party two Sundays ago — ending many of their days past midnight. Most recently, on Wednesday, the Obamas opened the White House doors to House caucus leaders from the moderate Blue Dog Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus. White House aides say the couple hopes to make the Wednesday cocktail parties a tradition.
HERE'S THE REST OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/18635.html