New Eyes from Kaiser; Was Ben Ghazi a terrorist? And an inaugural.


View 759 Thursday, January 24, 2013

The grandchildren are back in Washington, and I have new spectacles. Tri-focal with photo-grey for normal use, and bi-focal computer glasses. I think I invented computer glasses in an early BYTE column: I described how I got my optometrist to prescribe my corrective formula in glasses with a 28” focal length, that being the distance to the screen of Ezekiel, my friend who happened to be a Z-80 computer with Electric Pencil. Alas I didn’t think to try to patent or copyright or trademark the name computer glasses or the concept. Not sure it could be copyrighted, and in those days I was very much opposed to that kind of copyright and trademark. Still am, I suppose, but it would be nice to have a dollar for everyone who now has computer glasses.

In any event I have cataracts but they only degrade my sight to about 20/25 or so, so there’s no recommendation that anything be done, and since my last glasses were three years old the new ones are remarkably better than the old ones were. Didn’t take all that long to get used to them, either, although most of yesterday was used up getting my sight back after having the drops and the cataract examination. I note that almost all that is automated now, and much of it done by technicians. The actual examination was done by an optometrist, not an ophthalmologist as it was last time they did that. The eye examination equipment is all pretty well automated, and ePhotos were taken which presumably go to a specialist for confirmation – all saving money.

Once again I have been impressed with the thoroughness of Kaiser and how they work to make visits there a pleasant experience, with pleasant people, while they work to improve technology and bring in more skilled technicians. When I went out for my first eye examination there was a demonstration of some kind going on. It was at one (of at least five) entrance to a large parking area, and that was probably the least used entrance at that. Kaiser had one security guard observing at a distance, and there were three union-officer-looking guys in suits observing from about the same distance. The twenty or so people holding picket signs were unintelligible at fifty feet as they chanted “One Two Three Four something or another” and “What do we want? Justice something something.” They carried signs but I couldn’t make out what they said. Of course that was before I got my new glasses, but Roberta didn’t make out what they wanted either. Given the unemployment rate in Los Angeles I am astonished that there is anyone not happy to have a job in a pleasant place to work, and I’ve been unable to find an press accounts of the demonstration. Google shows me there is some kind of ongoing dispute by registered nurses against Kaiser –

I found this

Kaiser Permanente registered nurses across the state will begin a picket Wednesday afternoon, protesting what they say is a staffing shortage that has forced patients to be turned away.

Kaiser officials say that their staffing levels meet or exceed state requirements.

The union notes that nurses from 21 Kaiser hospitals across the region – including the three Sacramento-area centers – will participate in the picket, to happen from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Read more:

But that was for last month. Perhaps this is the same thing. Most of those in the picket line were women about 30 years old, and they may have been registered nurses. The union bosses watching over them were all male and dressed in suits.

But it was all controlled and civilized, and reminded me of Mort Sahl’s description of a strike at Disney, with the artists drawing cartoons of pickets and the supervisors drawing cartoons of strike breakers.

If I seem to ramble a bit about Kaiser there is a point. I conclude from long experience with the Kaiser system that it works. It’s pleasant, the people who work there are pleasant and helpful, and I haven’t had any haggles with administrators: I go there, I make a reasonable copayment for the visit, and that’s that. When they found The Lump in my head I saw a dozen specialists and had 35 sessions of hard X-rays, and once the treatments started I wasn’t even paying the nominal per-visit copayment. I ended up going to half a dozen different facilities, and they were uniformly well run by pleasant people. Even the security guards and parking attendants were pleasant and cheerful.

The problem, I suspect, is that any attempt to clone Kaiser would likely destroy it as well as produce a distorted copy that wouldn’t work as well as the original, and by the time you got to a fourth generation clone you’d be where socialized medicine establishments usually go. I could be wrong on that, of course; but it’s the way to bet. In any event, after more than thirty years experience with Kaiser in Southern California treating me for traumatic injuries, a hand broken while I was on a hike in the Sierra with the Boy Scouts, brain cancer, trips to the emergency rooms for various members of my family, prostate cancer examinations, and a whole lot of preventive medicine classes, I’m sold. I was assured by President Obama that if I like my current health care I can keep it under the new laws that take effect this month. I can only hope.


There is a lot of topical news but it’s hard to rate the significance. We have had the Benghazi inquiries by Congress and have learned little to nothing. What difference does it make whether this was an organized attack (as foreseen by intelligence analysts for the 9/11 anniversary date) or a local reaction to an obscure video that almost no one saw? Those brave State Department heroes are dead either way, and bullying the Administration about why, and why Susan Rice continued to harp the video days after everyone in the White House and Foggy Bottom knew that it was an al Qaeda operation is just mean spirited and an attempt to make the President look bad. It’s just mean.

Meanwhile there are various interpretations of President Obama’s inaugural address, but all agree that it’s a pointer to what will go on in future: either the full realization of the liberal dream, or the destruction of the constitutional republic established in 1789, depending on your point of view. Whatever your opinion, the government is taking over about 15% of the national economy as Obamacare takes effect. Add that to the government’s allocation of GDP and the US becomes far more like one of the European socialist states than the Republic of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, or Reagan. How far that will go is not so easy to determine, but the financial juggernaut is quite real: if we don’t cut spending or raise revenue, we’ll simply run out of money. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be a revenue raising solution to the impending bankruptcy of the states, and Federal entitlements can’t go on this way forever.

If a thing can’t go on forever, it will stop.

What happens when it stops?


Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. And freedom has been an elusive thing. Far more humans have lived their lives in some kind of bondage than have been free. The norm is that the strong do as they will and the weak suffer what they must. “To secure these rights” of life, liberty, and property, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. So said the Continental Congress, but it wasn’t true until they said it. The longest lived Republic in human history was the Most Serene Venetian Republic, and it had not long to live after 1776. It was washed away in a tide of Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! following the events in the public squares after 1789. The world would be made free, and equal, and all that would be carried across Europe on the points of French bayonets; and when it was over there were no Republics nor would be for decades. Except, of course, the Republic of 1789, born from the Revolution of 1776 coalescing in a More Perfect Union to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

But that was in another country.

At least one news commentator says that Obama’s Inaugural was more important than George Washington’s.

Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. A sentiment that has been around since the days of Sophocles and probably well before. It sometimes seems appropriate.


I have this from a future crystal gazer.

The Americans With No Abilities Act

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Senate are considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability (POI) to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing."

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons with No Ability (63 percent).

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million mid-level positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability (POI) into middle-management positions, and give a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the Americans With No Abilities Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, "Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?"

"As a non-abled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Mich., due to her inability to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. "This new law should be real good for people like me. I’ll finally have job security." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Sen. Dick Durbin: "As a senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so."


The President has warned the Congress that if it will not act, he can issue an Imperial Rescript, excuse me, Executive Order, and given the urgency of gun control he will not hesitate to do that.

"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
George Mason
Co-author of the Second Amendment
during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

Actually, converting the entire educated middle class into bondsmen in debt for life to the government will accomplish the result very well indeed. But George Mason had no experience with that level of expertise.


I’m still working on my essay on public education. The first question to ask is what is its purpose? If the just powers of government are derived from consent of the governed, what do those whose wealth is confiscated to pay for public education expect to get form their expense? For that matter, what do those who demand public education as an entitlement expect to derive from their dozen long years of compulsory exposure to classroom after classroom, rule after rule? As children they have no choice. As parents they compel their own children to the grind. What do they want, and are they getting any large part of it from the current system?

“If a foreign power had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightly consider it an act of war,” said the Glenn T. Seaborg in the report of his National Commission on Education in 1983. It is certainly no better now. Why are we subjecting our children to a system indistinguishable from a hostile act?


I’ll try to get a mail bag up tonight. We have a lot of good mail. As ususal.