Friday, September 11, 2009

Oregon Jet Sprint Races - Sep. 12-13-2009

The Oregon JetSprint Track Website presents (this weekend only) their "Points Race' ... and it's located about 3 miles from the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club.

$15 entry fee gets you in all day. Gates open 8am, racing starts 10am, both Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets available from TicketsWest (which here in Corvallis is the local Safeway Store).

There's a map available, which shows the raceway is just north of Old Boston Mill Road and on the west side of I5. (You have to follow the Google map from it's starting place on Hwy34 (I5 exit 228).

There are also some videos on the website, and here's one of them.

Turn the sound up.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

09-09-09 O my!

This is a rant.

This is a rant about ObomaCare.

O my!

I apologize for writing so much about Politics lately, but it seems necessary. Besides, I haven't been to a USPSA match for over a month (don't get me started) and I'm getting a little testy.

If you don't want to read about my take on ObamaCare feel free to move on. But not to please.

President Obama had a lot to say today. In the morning he talked about ObomaCare to the children of America (in a broadcast which was controversial, even though the White House swore was not political. In the end he couldn't resist bringing it up during the Q&A period.)

In the evening Obama had scheduled a half-hour speech in front of congress. This as did not go as well as it might have. At one point, Congress interrupted his speech by shouting "Liar". when Obama "took a swipe at Sarah Palin's comment about Death Panels."

"Illegal Aliens":

During the speech, he also gave the lie to charges that the ObomaCare bill would provide free health care to "Illegal Aliens".

Actually, this is true. The bill specifically says that free health care will not be given to illegal aliens. Unfortunately, the bill does not specifically state that free health care will be denied to applicants who can't prove that they are not legally in America, nor does it allow health care workers to inquire about the legal status of applicants, nor does it specify any penalties for illegal aliens who attempt to acquire free health care under this bill.

In other words, there are no negative consequences for Illegal Aliens who apply for free health care under this bill. And no grounds for denial, or enforcement of any implied restriction.

In fact, its all smoke and mirrors and no substance ... not only on this point, but on several others.

"Death Panel":
This subject has to do with the accusation that the ObomaCare bill would allow the nation's inability to provide the maximum quality care for each individual to be undermined by the current economic situation.

And that concept is based on an interesting point.

Currently, you pay your insurance bills and your insurance pays for most procedures and medications, dependent on your ability to come up with the "Co-Pay" tithe.

Under ObomaCare, it doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination to conceive of a situation where the national economy is so strapped for case (either inflation or recession) that it's hunting for a way to minimize the expenditure of available funds.

Is that so hard to believe? How often have you read in your local newspaper that your state government is so strapped for funds that it must reduce "Essential Services"? Usually, this involves understaffing police and firefighters and Educational Institutions, or whatever your state considers a serious threat to your confidence that "We're From The Government, And We're Here To Help You".

At the state level, this is a threat which you probably interpret as meaning "either cops and firefighters and teachers gotta go, or your state senators will have to take a cut in pay. And you know we're not going to take a cut in pay!"

So take that same default bureaucratic stance and move it from the state level to the federal level.
The next time the national budget is 'at risk' (which happens every frickin' year, almost without fail, except for the first term of a new incumbent administration), you can expect to discover that National Health Care or ObomaCaree, whatever you want to call it, will be the Bogeyman with which your president threatens you.

Only, in this case, it's not a straw man. It's the real thing. Historically, countries with a National Health Care System (in England it's NHS, or National Health Service) don't bother to threaten you with cuts in service. They just ... cut the service, and boldly dare you to complain.

They won't listen to you. They don't have to. You, who have already allowed your national government to establish a NHS, no longer are a part of the decision making process.

Think of AMTRACK, the U.S. Postal Service, and any Department of Motor Vehicles office you have ever visited, and you should have a visceral understanding of how a NHS works for you.

So let's look at how NHS (I'm really tired of trying to write and format " ObomaCare") works in nations which have already been taken like the Monkey took the Miller's Wife.

We'll get back to ObomaCare, after we've taken a few pertinent examples from The Brits.

(1.) Sentenced to Death on the NHS

Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.
The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours.
It was recommended as a model by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government’s health scrutiny body, in 2004.

It has been gradually adopted nationwide and more than 300 hospitals, 130 hospices and 560 care homes in England currently use the system.
Okay, let's look upon this report as a basic Governmental policy that 'some people are just not worth the resource investment required to extend their lives'.

Maybe it's true. After all, Arctic cultures (frequently, if inaccurately, referred to as "Eskimos") have historically abandoned their old people to freeze/starve to death on the Arctic Ice, because they had become to great a burden on the tribe's ability to survive, without providing tangible benefit to the tribe. " the past some Eskimos did kill old people when circumstances were sufficiently desperate."

So we're talking about to reverting to a primitive culture which no longer even practices such draconian methods to preserve societal resources? Yes, if we adopt ObomaCare, which is an American adoption of the British NHS.

Oh, of course it's not that obvious. We would only, as do the Brits, counsel them on how much a burden they are on their family, and vaguely wonder whether we can 'in good conscience' reasonably continue to exhaust our 'clan' resources. And this is the kind of "End Of Life" counseling that ObomaCare espouses, in the bill if not in the speeches.

How about other limitations on Health Care?

How about an infant who is born prematurely, and is denied 'extreme measures' because the chance of saving a life is just ... not ... worth ... the ... effort.

(2) Premature Baby Sentenced to Death - today --

Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy - almost four months early.

They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatm
Guidance limiting care of the most premature babies provoked outrage when it was published three years ago.

Experts on medical ethics advised doctors not to resuscitate babies born before 23 weeks in the womb, stating that it was not in the child's 'best interests'.

The guidelines said: 'If gestational age is certain and less than 23+0 (i.e at 22 weeks) it would be considered in the best interests of the baby, and standard practice, for resuscitation not to be carried out.'

Medical intervention would be given for a child born between 22 and 23 weeks only if the parents requested it and only after discussion about likely outcomes.

The rules were endorsed by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and are followed by NHS hospitals.

The association said they were not meant to be a 'set of instructions', but doctors regard them as the best available advice on the treatment of premature babies.
Okay, so maybe we're making too big a thing of Obamacare. Maybe we can just ignore it (eg: continue as we are, even if we don't subscribe to a Health Care System, maybe even if we don't want to.) Why should we care?

We should care because a Congressman has proposed (congressmen never 'suggest' ... they "propose" that Americans who decline to accept available health care options should be penalized by a fine ... we're talking $3,800 per year.

When we're discussing ObomaCare, we're talking about a National Health Care System governed by Bureaucrats.

What is a Bureaucrat?
1. An official of a bureaucracy.
2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.

Note that we aren't seeing any mention of "value earned for money paid", or "concern for the patient". We're just looking at "administrative procedure", and that is the essence of obomacare, NHS or any other governmentally constructed and administrated National Health Care System.

If they can afford to take care of you, they may. If they can't, or think they can't ... they won't.

Bottom line, folks. They don't care about YOU. They care about "the details of administrative procedure". And as a state employee for umpteen years, I can tell you with some assurance that while the individual governmental agent may prefer to provide a service, the default mode is to find a way by which the agency can evade administrative procedures to that the bureaucracy is not obliged to spend funds which can either (a) be better spent on a better 'investment', or (b) spent on Office Furniture for the Bureaucrats so that next year's budget is not diminished because we didn't spend all the money we were allotted this year.

Why should we get so bent out of joint about this Natinal Health Care Bill, and the Obama Administration generally?

Maybe we should ask Jack Web. Isn't DRAGNET the American Icon that we grew up with?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Iran’s Universities Punish Students Who Disputed Vote

Iran’s Universities Punish Students Who Disputed Vote -
Iranian universities have begun disciplining and suspending students who took part in street protests after the disputed presidential election in June, reformist Web sites reported Friday and Saturday.

The new disciplinary actions came as officials reported that a presidential panel has begun an investigation of the humanities curriculums at universities, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. Although the panel was formed a year ago, it did not start work until after recent calls to purge universities of professors and curriculums deemed “un-Islamic,” based on the fear that the teaching of secular concepts helped fuel the political unrest following the June 12 election.

The investigation will report its findings directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mehr reported.

For weeks, the authorities have voiced concern about the possibility of renewed protests as students return for the fall semester, which begins Sept. 23. Some of the worst clashes during the post-election protests took place at universities in Tehran and elsewhere. Last week, five students at the University of Mashad who had openly supported an opposition candidate were arrested with no official explanation, several Web sites reported.
I've been an employee at a University for 15 years, and as such I have been very aware of the tongue-in-cheek axiom that "... this would be a nice place to work, if it was not for the students".

Students are ... difficult. They are irreverent, headstrong, and they think they know it all even if they flunked "History of Western Civilization" in their first term at school.

Both of those comments are, of course, offered tongue in cheek.

The fact is, the University (or College) is usually the first opportunity for young people be challenged by concepts which had not occurred to them in what may have been a sheltered life in a provincial culture.

As I walk across campus on my way to lunch, or just taking a strol as a break from my geekish labors, I sometimes encounter groups of students offering petitions, interviewing people for polls, handing out pamphlets or just standing silent vigil ... such as staking thousands of crosses in the ground to exemplify the numbers of babies killed in abortions during the past year, or the number of Iranians killed during the past year.

Those of us who encounter university students as part of our daily environment are often challenged by what seems to us to be contrary, often radical thoughts. It is part of the maturation process that young people try on various societal and political stances before they eventually find one that works for them. I agree with few of them, and sometimes they are obnoxious in their surety that their viewpoints are more valid than mine. I've had a half-century more experience to establish my opinions than they have theirs, but you just can't try to win an argument with them.

Okay, so you can ... but it's a lost cause and a waste of time. They are almost invariably confident that, although they may only convinced of this 'one thing' they are absolutely convinced that they know what must be done to make the world a better place.


Perhaps they're right; perhaps they're wrong. Either way, this part of the educational experience. They need to win a few arguments to teach them confidence. They need to lose a few arguments to teach them that, although they are clear in their opinions and they are able to voice their arguments clearly, that doesn't mean that they are always going to convince others to change their minds.

It's part of the education process that sometimes the most valuable lessons you learn at University are not taught in a classroom.

Which brings us back to the original news report.

Iran held a Presidential Election, and charges were made that the election was rigged. Students protested, as students will. Students were arrested, assaulted ... one was murdered. (Apologies for inappropriate commercial preceding the vide.)

The Strong-Arm National Government "won", in the sense that student protests were treated as riots and in the end, only the Government has guns.

There's a lesson there, but it's not the point.

The Government just couldn't leave it alone. Not content with merely "putting down student riots, with unfortunate collateral damage", the Government of Iran has initiated a policy of following up on intelligence gathered during the demonstrations. They have identified student leaders, and have initiated a concerted campaign to punish these individuals.

The new disciplinary actions have taken place at universities in Tehran, Tabriz and Shiraz, where the Intelligence Ministry forwarded the names of politically active students to the university authorities, according to a report on the Peykiran Web site that named several students.

Some were suspended for up to two years, while others were barred from dormitories or subjected to disciplinary proceedings, the report said. At Tehran University, 50 students living in the dormitories were questioned for hours by a disciplinary committee, according to Advar News, a student-run Web site.

Politically active students have long been vulnerable to disciplinary measures or outright bans from universities, but such exclusions have become more common in the past three years.

Meanwhile, political pressure to further Islamize Iran’s higher education establishment has intensified in recent days, with more leading clerics warning about the danger of subversive and secular ideas.
It seems to me that the Iranian Government has just made a major mis-step. The penalties being imposed upon dissenters may not be terribly burdonsome ... after all, the students are not being converted into ground meat by tree-limb chippers, as Sadaam Hussein's enforcers are notoriously said to do. So why is this such a bad thing?

As I said earlier, the University is how young people learn, and not all of the most important lessons are learned in the classroom.

What is the Iranian Government teaching these students?

  • You do not have a voice in your government.
  • You are not free; you are not citizens. You are an embarrassment, because you dared to speak out.
  • Your country ... or at least, your government ... will allow you to learn only those lessons which are pre-approved
  • You are not allowed to think for yourself. You are only allowed to adhere to the party line
  • When you protest the official Government line, you become vulnerable to arbitrary and unilateral punishment against which you have no right to defend yourself.
This is, I think, the policy and doctrine of a Government which cannot defend itself. And it will eventually come back against the Iranian Government and kick them in the ass. Hard. Eventually, it will be the downfall of this particular government, and some day these students will become influential members of this government ... if they do not indeed become the Iranian Government.

It has been forty years since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and the current regime has had ample time to exemplify a theocracy gone wild. For several years there has been much unrest among the citizens of Iran. They are beginning to see that an Islamic Nation has no room for free thinkers.

Perhaps today, the next generation of Iranians can see that unless they cleave to the politics and the religion of their fathers, they will have no say in the future of their nation. This is grounds for a New Revolution.

It may not happen immediately.

China had a mini-revolution in 1989, culminating in the events in Tiananmen Square.

The Chinese Government has not been overthrown, and perhaps it is this example which encourages the Iranians to impose draconian solutions to their own popular unrest.

Still, for the moment it may be sufficient that Iran has demonstrated their inability to evince popular support for the official Government position.

The next step is either increasingly draconian solutions to "student riots", or increasing popular dissatisfaction with the Iranian Government, or both. Probably both.

Revolution hasn't worked in China, to bring down an unpopular government. Yet. And it may take another 40 years before it works in Iran.

One thing is clear; the Iranian Government has just drawn a line in the sand, and they are waiting breathlessly to see if it works.

It may work ... today. Probably it will work tomorrow. Students are reluctant to accept limitations on their new-found philosophical and political freedom, and as long as their country permits no legal redress from governmental excess, it will remain a festering boil on the hide of the Iranian people.

These are not just Iranians, they are Aryans , they are Persians. They are a proud people, a culture of fighters. They are the people of Herodotus, Cyrus and Xenophon. Soldiers and scholars. They are the people who invented the Parthian Shot ... they do not yield easily, and even in retreat they have shown themselves to still be a threat to their enemy.

The Iranian Government may learn to regret their intemperate actions.

Let us hope this will come to be.