"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bloated Public School System

A former state representative from Florida--Sandra Murman-- wrote an editorial for the Tampa Tribune today decrying the high percentage of the education dollars going into "non-academic services" (i.e. school system employees who aren't teachers). She stated that only about half of the 328,533 state employees are teachers, and that over $6 billion of the operational funds (1/3 of the budget) were spent on items with no direct link to "learning."

With home schools the non-teaching jobs are filled by the teachers, aka mothers and fathers. One doesn't need a Ph.D. in statistics to know which system is more efficient. The public schools were more efficient decades ago when families were more oriented to the Christian faith. As secularism and pluralism have extended their roots the public schools spend more money and produce more dropouts and school shootings.

Many of America's ills are served best by the analogy of the drug addict in dire need of deliverance from withdrawal symptoms, and this holds true for the world of academia. The cheapest, quickest and easist solution is more of the same. This ultimately leads to a quicker death. Apart from supernatural deliverance, the longer, sane and results-based solution is some sort of detox program. Public schools periodically experience symptoms it doesn't like and as a result dopes itself up (often producing more dopes in the process). The detox program removes federal, state, county and city intrusion with parents taking the reins again, reassumimg control of their children's edukashun. The state is addicted to the power that comes with controlling the education of children and young adults, and the flow of tax revenue that comes with it, so it won't go away quietly.

Yes, there are numerous examples of quality teachers training up prolific students within the public shool system who fulfill their calling admirably post-graduation. To say this justifies the existing system would require Marxist thinking and a hint of statistical spin. Smart teachers and bright students would not fail to be just as stupendous operating within the proper academic paradigm. The question is are Americans willing to take the risks incumbent with such a leap of faith?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brain Fog

One of mankind's great frustrations is the inability to bridge the infinite intellect gap that exists between its collective wisdom and the wisdom of Jesus Christ. Christ promises salvation by way of an unmerited gift that man often rejects for reason of wanting to have greater understanding of such matters first. If you suggest that if such a god existed--one that could be understood solely by way of intellect--he would be unworthy of attention and affection for his intellect is then not much vaster than ours.

Outside of outright spiritual blindness, huge numbers of people are likely dismissing Christ as someone He never revealed Himself to be--a spiritual giant waiting to be figured out. The spiritual blindness problem remains the greater stumbling block though. Most people aren't willing to devote themselves to theological matters because it's often not instantly gratifying, not does it positively affect your fuel gauge.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The New Bubble?

Wal*Mart is limiting the sale of certain types of rice due to supply and demand issues. Rice futures are said to be high. Apparently fears of a rice shortage are worldwide. So one wonders, is rice the next bubble? It certainly isn't home value anymore.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Interminable Democratic Debates

Barack and Hillary have had more than 20 debates and one wonders how much worth they've provided. In the modern era debating became significant when John Kennedy took out Nixon during the early days of television. One could argue that the lessons learned from that are valuable today. Sell yourself on television and win delegates--pledged and supers. I would argue this is still true today--television debates are more for manipulating the masses and less about getting one's message out.

There's this little nuisance called the world wide web that completely subverts the need for televised debates if the message is what's important. Visiting a candidate's web site, or most websites for that matter, is free, and nowadays fast. Candidates can go to great length to espouse their positions and direct people to their websites to get their message out. It's more exhaustive, dirt cheap, and easily revised as conditions warrant. Those without access can easily find access even if it's at a public library. With Google available a candidate and their surrogates don't even need to regurgitate their url but occasionally.

Candidates still revert to this outmoded debating thing because, like drug companies with their endless ads, they believe there's enough gullible Americans to fall for their pitch. The millions of dollars needed to obfuscate their positions and product on television is deemed a good investment. The media refrains from pointing this out because they too get great exposure televising and moderating the things.

The whole charade between the media and politicians makes one think of an exchange between Michael Corleone--son of Vito, the Godfather--and Nevada's Senator Geary from Godfather II, when discussing the Corleone's ownership and involvement with Vegas hotels

SENATOR GEARY (to Michael): "I don't like your kind of people. I don't like to see you come out to this clean country in your oily hair -- dressed up in those silk suits - and try to pass yourselves off as decent Americans. I'll do business with you, but the fact is, I despise your masquerade -- the dishonest way you pose yourself. Yourself, and your whole (expletive deleted) family.

MICHAEL (to Senator Geary): "Senator - we're both part of the same hypocrisy. But never think it applies to my family."


Friday, April 18, 2008

Music and Grey Matter

This article superficially discusses the relationship of brain organization in musicians versus non-musicians. As one who has dabbled with drums for 35 years (mostly in high school) it rang somewhat familiar--the body learning a lick or a beat then the mind storing that info for later use. Conversely, it rings true that when you hear something musically you don't initially understand, yet alone can play, the brain makes you fully aware that its on standby waiting for your next move. Give it up, or try to learn it and "store it."

In music, as one progresses in skill and variety one's willpower somewhat beacons to stay in that comfort zone resisting thoughts of improving and expanding one's lexicon. As practice slides, skill slips as does variety. This is frustrating, a continual battle, and a roadblock to be acknowledged, conquered or both. This function of the brain likely has cross-application and isn't just for musicians and athletes as the article states.

Somewhere in the world are the most accomplished musicians, vocalists, athletes, etc. You can decide for yourself who they are. They too have the same frustrations that we rank amatuers have--the encountering of ruts. The virtuosos of the world have immeasurable talents that the rest of us can't dream of comprehending or duplicating. Nevertheless, we marvel at skill, or hear things that move us, and therefore accept it, not caring whether we can't duplicate the feats or not. Normally we can't. In fact, they elites probably marvel at one another's gifts and wonder, "why didn't I think of that? Could I do that?" Look at these short videos of different drummers. Notice how great, yet how different they are.

Thomas Lang

Simon Phillips

Buddy Rich

Tony Royster, Jr.

Music and art aren't amoral, but when it's moral and good, we like it. It's good that the grey matter cooperates.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

President Bush Accidentally Disses the Pope

In greeting the Pope yesterday President Bush resurrected a "strategery"-like faux pas. He used a quote of St. Augustine (uh-GUS-tin) in his White House greeting, yet pronounced his name like the city of Florida--"St. Augustine" (AW-gus-teen).

"My fellow Americans, please welcome to the White House, Aberaheem Lincolon."

One wonders if a presidential handler was fired since yesterday?

Vitamin D3

As mentioned in the previous post on Vitamin K2 (menaquinone), the role of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in the functioning of multiple health processes, is gaining more and more prominence in some medical community ghettoes. I say "ghettoes" because mainstream medicine has not adopted routine testing of Vitamin D blood levels, but a handful of physicians are testing patients and finding many with low levels. With Vitamin D receptors having been discovered in a wide array of tissues Vitamin D is taking on more of a hormone status than it is a mere vitamin. Research has shown that adequate Vitamin D stores play a role in reducing the risk of contracting many types of cancers, bone problems, type II diabetes, autoimmune disorders and more. Known as the "sunshine vitamin," for sun exposure at the right time and duration to bare skin, rapidly produces Vitamin D3 in the body, much more so than that which one can obtain from dietary sources. As one ages the ability to convert sun exposure into Vitamin D3 declines. Older people often spend a lot of times indoors, especially if it's hot outside and credentialed weatherpeople are freaking out about possible heat stroke deaths in the elderly if they fetch the morning paper.

And whereas many forms of cancer, depression and osteoporosis are rampant in the West, one might consider having their Vitamin D levels tested (the appropriate test is called 25 (OH)D, not to be confused with 1,25(OH)D, which is a much less reliable test.) In plain speak it's known as "25-Hydroxy D."

Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is another proprietary product that boosts Vitamin D levels. It's synthetic and only about 20-40% as effective as the D3 (cholecalciferol) form in equivalent doses. The handful of Vitamin D toxicity cases are all related to the use of Vitamin D2, except for one D3-related case (an accidental case of massive ingestion). It is a fat soluble vitamin so it's important not to self-medicate irresponsibly.

For a more scholarly primer on Vitamin D read this journal article by Vitamin D specialist Dr. Michael F. Holick. He must be good because he was asked to resign from his position in the department of dermatology at Boston University Medical School because his conclusions were deemed suspect. One wonders if manufacturers of sunscreen products were financial supporters to some degree of said "department of dermatology." More time in the sun without sunblock to get Vitamin D produced means less sunblock sales at the local store. D up, bling down.

For a good launching pad for your own Vitamin D study a good place to start is at vitamindcouncil.org. One of their links includes a list of "Vitamin D scientists."

Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only, and not intended to diagnose, treat, manage or cure disease. Consult your personal physician for any and all health-related matters.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vitamin K2 - Kicking Butt and Taking Names

The mighty vitamin K2. Not K1 (phylloquinone or phytonadione) or K3 (synthetic) but K2 (menaquinone)--the forgotten giant. Vitamin K2 is a necessary cofactor for facilitating the removal of calcium from arteries and for its deposition into bone . Think decreased chance of cardiac-related death, and osteoporosis and hip replacement prevention. The protein found in atherosclerotic plaque that depends greatly on vitamin K2 for getting rid of calcium is known as Matrix G1a-protein (MGP), and in the bone the vitamin K2-starved protein is known as osteocalcin. Calcified plaque is more prone to burst so one can appreciate the benefit of not having excess calcium loaded into his or her arteries. Osteoporotic bone is vulnerable to breakage so calcium assimilation there is da bomb.

Where does one find Vitamin K2 in the food pyramid? In foods demonized because they're either fat-, salt- or cholesterol-infested. Foods like meat, egg yolks, fermented cheese, curds and natto. We've all heard that vitamin K is plentiful in green, leafy vegetables, but that's a reference to vitamin K1, not K2. There is slight conversion of some K1 to K2 in the body but the average American is likely low in K2 body stores. Perhaps this is a reason our milk-happy and calcium supplement-happy nation is still awash in heart disease and osteoporosis. Plenty of calcium but an element finding its way into an unwanted locations--arteries, and not finding its way into a desired location--bone! Vitamin D3 and the need to put away the sunscreen is a big player too in this calcium shuffle but that's a topic for another day.

In what is known as the Rotterdam Study (2004), scientists followed over 4,000 Holland residents for several years and monitored nonfatal heart attacks, coronary heart disease-related death and death from all causes, inclusively. Not surprisingly, the people with the most (but not too much) Vitamin K in their blood stream died less often both in the all-cause category and relative to coronary heart disease-related death. With respect to coronary heart disease-related death the relative risk reduction for the group with Vitamin K2 intake > 32.7 mcg/day was 57% less than group that consumed <21.6mcg/day.> Some propritary products that are likely suitable for supplementation include MenaQ7, Synergy K , Jarrow's MK-7 and mercola.com's Vitamin K2 .

And of course if you're taking the medication Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), aspirin or any other medication or product that "thins" the blood (increases your INR) never take a vitamin K supplement without consulting with your physician first. The same holds true if you have any condition(s) that affects your ability to clot. Vitamin K1 is used quite often in hospitals to combat bleeding or to lower the risk for bleeding.

Disclaimer: This post on observationhubie.blogspot.com, or any post on this blog for that matter, is NOT to be construed as medical advice. These posts are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or manage disease. Consult with your personal physician with regards to all health care matters.


Earth Day Facts

Another Earth Day is almost upon us and you can almost sense the earth cringing. For "Mother Earth" it will be like undergoing terrestrial root canal. According to the American Earth Day Association (AEDA) , accredited by the Joint Commission for the Association of Environmentalists, this Earth Day is not without its global insults. Here are the facts:

21,467 - Number of Earth Day Conference Leaders taking private planes to give keynote speeches on reducing the burning of fossil fuels

23,757,536 - The number of trees needed to produce the flyers, pamphlets and handouts announcing Earth Day activities.

456,368,236 - Number of gallons of gas Earth Day participants will burn getting to and from events.

567,456 - Metric tons of carbon dust that will spill into the ozone layer on Earth Day (the expectation for a typical, non-holiday is 2 tons!)

10 - Number of Earth Day references in speeces on Earth Day by Barack H. Obama and Hillary Clinton.

56,987 - Number of flat tires from Earth Day celebrants that will be deposited in land fills the following day.

1,345 - Number of countries that want the USA to ratify the Kyoto Protocol so its citizens can throw more money at a bad idea.

These facts are indisputable. To question the facts of anything that leads with "American" is simply... un-American.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Apple Hackers and JCAHO

In a computer hacking contest Apple's MacBook Air was commandeered by the winning hacker in 2 minutes. One can imagine how many man-hours went into preventing such an event by Apple team members. Such is the nature of "success" when a broader scope of personnel are participating. In other words, Apple was at the mercy of a small company staff in comparison to numbers equated to the openness of a hacking contest. This is the nature of business--you're a product of your finite group of people, notwithstanding the sovereignty of God.

Of a more serious nature is the world of hospitals. Like Apple and its small number of team members, hospitals spend untold amounts of bling prepping for JCAHO (Joint Commission on the Accredidation of Healthcare Organizations) inspections on a year-round basis. JCAHO's import to a hospital's ability to collect reimbursement is akin to the needs of marine life for sea water. However, if the inspection process was reasonably open to vast numbers of small time inspection organizations then you, as a prospective hospital patient, would have a benefit equivalent to that which the hackers provided prospective Apple computer purchasers. As long as JCAHO is the King Kong of the hospital inspection business, and claims that a hospital is first rate and safe, think of the Apple team members who assured their team leaders the MacBook Air was quite McFort Knox-like. Those pesky hackers.