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According to several reports, Rush Limbaugh has been rushed to a hospitlal in Honolulu after complaining about heart problems or something.

The name of the hospital hasn’t been included in most of the newspapers, but one reported that it was the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

That sounds right because Queen’s is the flagship hospital in the State of Hawai, if not in the Pacific region, and it has some of the best heart specialists in the nation on its staff. In that respect, Rush is fortunate.

On the otherhand, he may feel a wee mite uneasy. Queen’s staff consists primarily of Asians or Hawaii residents of Asian and Pacific Islands ancestry. There are a few staff who look like Rush, but not many. And I wonder, considering Rush’s well-known antipathy to anything non-white, how he is managing his daily interpersonal relationships.

The people of Hawaii are quite nice and pleasant and they tend to say nice things to others because the nature of the culture of Hawaii is, for the most part, non-confrontational.

On the other hand, they do not like what they refer to as “loud mouthed Haoles.” The word Haole in its original definition means simply “foreigner” or someone from a different place, although somewhere in my memory banks, I have this feeling that it may have referred to a white flower.

Be that as it may, Haole has become, in one sense, a derogatory term, as in, for example, “that damned Haole” or “that freakin’ Haole,” usually with a variation of the spelling of the word freakin’.

Rush Limbaugh’s radio personality is a perfect model of the Hawaii concept of a loud-mouthed Haole–verbal volume on extra high, opinionated,  critical of local ways and customs, superior in all respects, and condescending.

One would hope that Rush wouldn’t invoke his entertainer’s persona while a doctor or nurse from, for example, the Phillipines was busily engaged in ministering to his medical needs. These professionals would continue their treatment, but eventually, somehow, the word would get around. Lips flap even in professional circles.

Given Rush’s monetary situation, he may have called in his personal physician in an advisory role or he may have asked for a referral from his doctor.

Another possibility is that Rush in real life may be a decent human being and, consequenty, he may treat the local folks with the respect they deerve.

Sadly, I am in Texas at the moment and have no access to the ever-floating gossip that goes around below the radar in Hawaii. One of these days, though, the story of Rush’s stay in a Honolulu hospital will get around.

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The world has ended several times in my life. Each time, I usually awakened the following morning, automatically checking for functioning body parts and mental faculties just in case my room wasn’t a replica created by some extraterrestrial force the way things often happen in The Twilight Zone or on a Hollywood movie set ala moon landings.

So far things have always checked out, although I admit the possibility of delusions implanted in my mind by those same unknown forces. Nevertheless, I went about my business as if the world remained unchanged. My life quickly returned to normal as I settled down and waited patiently for the next end of the world.

Now, the next one is rapidly approaching. If the mammography guidelines recently proposed by a federal task force are implemented, we’ll have breast cancer panels and God knows what else. The end of the United States is near. And we all know the U.S. is the world.

But there’s a discordant note in the current state of hysteria around us. As an occasional flash of clarity strikes, reason tells us this one just doesn’t track. We wonder, what does the word “guidelines” denote and connote?

Is a guideline a matter of law? Has Congress passed and the President signed a law mandating breast examinations based on some arbitrary number picked out of a hat? Has the President issued an Executive Order directing the establishment of a Breast Examination Panel tasked to decide who can and who cannot have an examination?

To the best of my knowledge, none of these has taken place. In fact, these same guidelines were recommended 12 years ago. No one to the best of my knowledge panicked then and nothing occurred to change the guidelines. So, what accounts for the current hysteria?

Perhaps this is just one more example of the politics of the slippery slope. We’re all intelligent people here. We understand that a slippery slope kicks in when a specified action is considered to be the first step that automatically and irrevocable leads to the complete and total destruction of mankind.

In politics, the slippery slope is a common political tactic employed by both major power-holding political parties to scare the crap out of the public. The purpose of a slippery slope accusation is to arouse public emotions and stir some sort of rebellion against the programs of the other party.

It’s a very effective tactic. We Americans are quite susceptible to fear-mongering for a couple of reasons. We are distinctly uneasy about the domestic economy and its direction. We fear a loss of our hard-earned gains and for the future of our children.

Compounding our domestic fears, America’s perceived fading influence on the international stage fuels fears of a takeover by unspecified enemies somewhere out there. Recently, there has been a reactivation of out fright response engendered by talk of a murky New World Order and the Illuminati. And United Nations forces are rumored to be secretly patrolling remote roads in the United States.

Taken together, domestic and international factors create a sort of free-floating anxiety that hovers over us like the proverbial raincloud hanging over Joe Blitzfit In this environment, nerves are on edge and any change from the comfortable and known is bound to be met with panic.

Here’s the reality. There is little if any chance the proposed guidelines will negatively affect women’s health. When it comes right down to it, women are going to ignore the guidelines and continue their self-examination followed by a mammogram if their examination finds something.

Further, no doctor in his or her right mind is going to refuse the request of a health-conscious woman who wishes a mammogram. It’s insanity to think so. Obstructive medicine is a sure road to professional death. A few doctors in the past have hung up their practices because of the cost of liability insurance or a plethora of government regulations. And some have refused to perform certain medical procedures, primarily abortions, because of a moral conviction, but in my judgment there is no similar moral bar to a mammogram.

Will insurance companies refuse to pay for a mammogram beyond the limits suggested in the guidelines? That’s highly doubtful. The trend lately has swung toward a strong belief that medical treatment is a matter between a patient and his or her doctor. The era of a remote figure that may or may not be a physician sitting in an antiseptic office somewhere and automatically disapproving certain claims immediately is slowly fading.

True, insurance companies make a little money by denying claims. But I would almost be willing to bet that the amount of money collected on premiums far exceeds the amount of money paid out in claims.

Insurance companies aren’t going to jeopardize those premiums by adopting highly unpopular practices that might drive away institutions such as the federal and state governments, which pump enormous amounts of money into the coffers of insurers through government-offered group health coverage plans. The insurance companies are greedy but they aren’t fiscally dumb.

I know it’s easy for a man to be blasé about this matter. Men have breast cancer, too, but compared to the rates for women, the numbers are few. We thus tend to downplay the problems of women. That’s wrong on the faced of it.

It’s equally wrong for the federal task force to base its recommendations solely on statistics. Ignoring the human factor is a surefire road to irrelevance. As well, it calls into question the validity of the panel’s findings. Governments, all governments in the U.S., federal, state, and local, do not possess a great deal of credibility as it is. The feds insensitive treatment of this matter has lowered its credit score immensely.

In the final analysis, the anxiety and hysteria over the panel’s recommendations constitute nothing more than wasted energy. For once in our lives, we ought to ignore the slippery slope. Let’s send a signal to fear-mongering politicians. Let’s resolve that the end of the world is not at hand.

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This morning I was chatting with a Facebook Friend about finding a suitable blog platform. She’s a professional writer, so she’s a little pickier than me. She’s looking not just for an audience but for the right audience. Professional writers need the exposure that could lead to a paid gig. And, of course, all professional writers write to be read widely. Otherwise, why write.

I’m not a writer myself. I write basically for my family and friends. A blog is a good way to reach them beyond the bounds of E-mails and letters. Oh, sure, it’s nice when others write nice comments about the things I write, and I have met some fine people through my blog. Can’t deny that, and I hope to meet more good folks with interesting things to say.

My own approach to blogging is simple. I am not at all good at writing about myself. My inner feelings are boring even to me, and I am sort of bored right now. That’s why I tend or have tended to write about external events. And since my interests are quite broad, I am inclined to write according to no particular pattern. Today, I might write about a political event, tomorrow a blurb about an article I ran across in GQ magazine. Whatever strikes my interest at the moment will likely be the topic for the day.

I also like to add a humorous touch to most of the topics I am interested in. That doesn’t mean everything is funny. Some topics are absolutely without humor, child abuse, domestic violence, murder, and suicide, for example, are devoid of laughter.

That’s why the current run of murders in this country is disturbing. Thirteen soldiers murdered at Fort Hood, Texas, one murdered and mayby 15-plus wounded in Orlando, Florida; these are just two of the most egregious examples of recent violence in America today.

Of course, the perpetrators of these crimes will always have an excuse. The guy in Orlando was fired from his job two years ago and he was mad at the company. Oddly, the individuals he murdered are not, “the company.” But somehow in the mind of this deranged individual, the employees who worked for “the company” became “the company.” So, he decided to murder as many human beings as he could.

He may or may not have known or cared that he was shooting individuals rather than “the company.” Is this insanity, or is it a failure of the ability of some people to understand distinctions?  One individual is dead but “the company” lives on. Similarly, thirteen dead but the United States Army survives.

In addition to the damages done to the survivors of these monstrous acts, the perpetrators have harmed the United States in more ways than one. Globally, they’ve added to the perception that this is the most violent country in the world. Say what you wish, but the perceptions of other nations are important within the global system when it comes to the achievement of the vital national interests of the U.S.

Domestically, the current rash of violence has exacerbated the feelings of fear and parnoia among ordinary Americans.  Who among us might be the next mass murder? That guy down the street who looks odd with his little round glasses and close-set eyes? Or a respected Army psychologist?

The most disgusting cipher in the equation is society’s failure to deal with the violence that seems to be a part of our cultural DNA. Why are we as a country so reluctant to tackle the issue? Is it because we feel helpless? Maybe we think its someone else’s job. Or have our leaders failed us? We have a justice system that excuses criminal behavior and a penal system that has become a breeding ground for violence and gang activity.

Whatever the answer may be, it’s a puzzle. As far as solutions go, my own personal impression is that the violence has largely missed the elites of our society. As long as people below the elite level murder each other, as long as the elites do not find themselves the targets of random and mass violence they will continue to largely ignore the issue, appearing on television and uttering meaningless words after a mass shooting or an especially egregious murder.

Somehow, in America, we tend to look at the moment and at the situation. Broader ramifications seem beyond our comprehension.

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This is probably a meaningless post unless you know a little about San Francisco. But if you are somewhat familiar with the city, you may recall or have heard about the Jack Tar Hotel.

This relic of another era at the corner of Van Ness and Geary in San Francisco is going to be demolished and eventually replaced by a hospital.

Once upon a storied time, the hotel was one of many in a chain of Jack Tar Hotels. I’m working from memory here, but I believe there was also a Jack Tar in Dallas and several in the Caribbean. I don’t know what happened to any of the hotels in those locations, but the San Francisco Jack Tar somewhere along the line was sold and became the Cathedral Hills Hotel.

I mention all of this because the Jack Tar Hotel has occupied a central part of my life’s story. No, I didn’t attend any galas or other social events there. I didn’t hang out in the bar. I didn’t meet beautiful women in the hotel lobby who took my hand and whispered, “I love you so.” In my eyes, The Jack Tar was a 400-room monstrosity, a garish blot on San Francisco’s otherwise pristine landscape.

Why, then, and how has the hotel remained in my memory since I first became aware of its existence as a young, very young male, hovering in that twilight zone between adolescent stupidity and age-of-consent certainty?

I received a moving traffic violation in the hotel’s underground parking garage. It happened this way.

I was accustomed to driving in Oakland where a U-Turn was legal unless a sign specifically said “No U-Turn.”

One day, I had some business at the Jack Tar. As usual when I drove to San Francisco, I came off of the Bay Bridge and headed North on Van Ness. On this day, the traffic was heavy, and as I reached Geary, I had to wait in the left-turn lane for the light to change.

The traffic in the opposite direction was also heavy, and I knew if I didn’t make a quick U-Turn ahead of the oncoming traffic, I’d have a long delay. Since I saw no sign prohibiting a U-Turn, I decided to chance it.

So, the instant the light hit green, I immediately stepped on the gas and swung around, catching the right lane on Van Ness. From there, I immediately swung right again into the entrance to the outside parking area before the oncoming traffic had moved into the intersection. I had good reflexes in those days.

As I drove slowly into the parking area, I heard a deep-throated motor behind me. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw an SFPD motorcycle officer. Thinking nothing of it (I was also oblivious then), I continued through the outside parking lot into the underground area looking for a spot to pull into.

The parking garage was virtually full but I finally found a lonesome spot as far into the bowels of the garage as I could drive without bumping the back wall. All of this time, the motorcycle officer hung right with me.

By the time I had parked and stepped out, the officer had already placed his bike directly behind me and dismounted. He said, “You made an illegal U-Turn.”  He asked for my driver’s license and car registration, inspected them, and began writing me a ticket.

Like every idiot who has ever been surprised by a ticket, I tried to explain my way out of it. “I live in Oakland and we can make a U-Turn unless a sign says we can’t.”

This is the old out-of-towner excuse that might work in a tourist area, but I was no tourist and the officer knew it. He merely continued to write the ticket, all the while saying nothing.

I don’t remember now whether or not I signed the ticket. I probably did. But one thing sticks in my mind. The officer never said a word beyond his introductory remarks. He merely wrote the ticket, handed it to me, re-mounted his bike and cut out.

I probably would have argued a little more, but a couple of things gave me second thoughts: the officer’s silence and the knowledge that my company would pay the ticket.

Oh, and one other hint of my absolute stupidity in those days. While I waited for the light to change, the officer who followed me into the Jack Tar parking garage had been sitting on his idling bike in plain sight on Van Ness. I remember he looked very professional.

Little known fact: Jack Tar is a British Navy slang term for a sailor.

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Be honest now, men. If you had a chance, would you pose full-frontal nude in Playgirl Magazine if the editors invited you?

A lot of men have actually exposed all in the pages of that publication, including Burt Reynolds when he was still a hunk. Now, Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin’s grandson, is getting ready for a nude photo shoot. His unadorned pecs and abs and er…equipment…are expected to grace the centerfold of Playgirl’s next issue.

Why is Levi opting for his 15 minutes of fame in the nude? He’s a hardened Alaskan male who, if he wants to pose, would make a more lasting impression as a really masculine guy shooting at a rabbit with an AK-47.

But standing or sitting or whatever in a position carefully calculated to demonstrate his manliness in another way is dangerous. A lot of men are going to see him in Playgirl. Men are not kind when assessing the endowments of other men. In fact, regardless of the size and appearance of his equipment, Levi is going to wish he were on the moon to escape the inevitable razzing.

Besides, his fame may be short-lived. It may dissipate long before his 15 minutes expires. America’s magazine buying public prefers female over male nudity. Playboy is still going strong after 35-plus years. Playgirl’s print version is already out of business. The mag is strictly an on-line publication now.

Which brings me around to the question I used to introduce this post: would any of you men pose full-frontal nude in Playgirl like Levi?

Here’s my take. Your courage would be directly proportional to the length and girth of your appendage. If you were well-endowed, hell, you’d catch the red eye to New York in a heartbeat. If you were lacking, you’d kill any son of a bitch who came within a hundred yards of you with a camera.

This is why I believe Levi is well-endowed. And I think we can expect an exciting Playgirl issue when it hits the internet.

I’m wondering, though, if money plays a role here. I’m sure Levi will be paid for his services. But in your own personal case, how much money would it take to get you to strip naked on a beach on Maui and pose in front of a bunch of gawking giggling tourists?

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When the story first broke, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to CNN News. CNN is the news outlet after all that continually flashes “Breaking News” or something similar across the ticker at the bottom of the screen. Every thing is “breaking” or “developing.” My mind numbs itself in self defense.

But then something caught my attention. I heard the words “Richmond High School.” There are other Richmonds in the U.S., including Richmond, Virginia. I went back to my latest issue of Country Weekly magazine.

As I read, I heard the announcer, I think it was Kyra Phillips, mention California. My ears perked up. The gang rape occurred on the grounds of Richmond High School, Richmond, California. Once upon a time, I attended that very high school. My tenure there was brief, but still, things stick in the mind.

Richmond when I lived there was a classic All-American town, or perhaps I should say a classic California town. However, I’ve lived in many towns and the habits of teens weren’t substantially different from the habits of Richmond’s teens.

In Richmond, as in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, cars were a big deal, and every Saturday night, McDonald Avenue, Richmond’s main drag, would be lined with cars full of kids dragging the street from 23rd Street in the east to the train depot at the west end of town.

If the kids weren’t tooling up and down shouting at one another or at a gaggle of girls walking along the street toward the movie, they were parked in or just idling in any available spot near a drive-in with real live and often good-looking girls taking and delivering orders.

If you want to get a good idea of Richmond then, watch the movie American Graffiti. The movie wasn’t filmed in Richmond but in several nearby towns like Petaluma (the primary filming location), Pinole, Concord, Larkspur, Mill Valley, and San Francisco.

Mel’s Diner in the movie was filmed at a diner (since torn down) on South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. And 4th Street in San Rafael was used for many of the street scenes. Another coincidence: my wife and I lived on 4th Street shortly after we were first married and then later in Petaluma.

Times have changed since American Graffiti was released in 1973. Most of the towns where the movie was filmed have undergone dramatic growth spurts accompanied by an influx of people from other areas of the United States and from foreign countries.

Richmond has also experienced its share of changes. But unlike the positive changes in many other Bay Area communities, the changes in Richmond have been mostly negative.

The reputation of Richmond today is a place to avoid. The town is widely known as the murder capital of the state. In 2007 (last year I have a figure for), there were 37 murders in this town of roughly 100,000 people. And, the part of I-80 passing through Richmond has achieved dubious standing as a war zone based on the number of shootings that happen along that short stretch of the highway.

To compound these negatives, the Richmond-San Pablo area has become rife with gang activity that often erupts in violence. And lesser crimes such as robbery and burglary are beginning to spill over into once small and peaceful enclaves like El Sobrante.

The causes of Richmond’s decline have often been attributed to its ethnic shift. While the town was once overwhelmingly white, today whites make up about 25 percent of the population. The balance consists mainly of Blacks and Hispanics.

However, the attribution of Richmond’s ills to its ethnic balance is a specious argument. So many variables come into play that it’s difficult if not impossible to narrow the root cause or causes to one factor. More likely, the cause lies in both economics and a failure of civic leadership to address Richmond’s burgeoning crime rate and rapidly declining infrastructure. McDonald Avenue, for example, that one-time image of Americana embodied in American Graffiti, became an absolute, decaying roadway to nowhere before the civic leadership seemed to wake up.

Regardless of the reasons for Richmond’s decline, there can be little doubt that many of the students at Richmond High School are products of the current culture of violence, poverty, drugs, decay, and a nation-wide attitude that drives individuals to seek the immediate gratification of their own desires.

Given such an environment, it was probably inevitable that violence would eventually reach the ground of the high school. In fact, at least one of the active participants in the gang rape apparently wasn’t a student and shouldn’t have been at the homecoming dance to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the school’s students are undoubtedly decent individuals doing their best to make it in a cruel environment. Moreover, the high school wasn’t exactly pristine when I attended it. There were fights, usually between individual boys over a girl, and other students would gather and watch, cheering on one or the other of the gangly teens.

But there were no rapes on campus, gang or otherwise. Those were different times. In retrospect, so innocent. Sadly, once upon a time will never come again.

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