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Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 06:11 AM PDT

Thoughts on Syria

by nathanfl

There is a lot going on right now regarding Syria and our government's seeming desire to do something.  We have some anecdotal evidence of a purported gas attack that occurred in Syria, evidence that experts say prove that sarin gas attacks occurred.  The UN is preparing an investigation but was stopped with sniper fire.  Right now there is a lack of independent confirmation, however Doctors Without Borders has issued a statement:

"The reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events -- characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers -- strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent," said Dr. Bart Janssens, director of operations.

Circumstantially, it would appear that a chemical weapons attack was used in the Ghouta region of Syria.  Statements by people within Syria, including medical doctors, and images of the dead certainly strengthen the case for a chemical gas attack.  

It seems that the acceptance of the use of chemical gas attacks is merely a formality at this point.  What has not been established is who actually performed these attacks.  Was it the Syrian government who gas suburbs of the capital city?  What about the rebels? They are alleged to have already carried out chemical attacks in the past.

Two questions remain: who did this and what shall we do about it?

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I read the President's speech and I really liked what I had heard.  It was a very positive speech and called out the ridiculous obstruction of the House and the Republicans.  I like his plans, I can't wait to see how everything progresses.

Could he go further?  Sure, I'd like him to pull out some of that sweet single payer action - single payer health care, single payer colleges and the American Public.  Not THAT's some hot action.  It's also something that won't happen until we step up and throw back the Tea Bagger extremists.  When '10 rolled around, their party was fired up and ready to go.  '14 is coming fast, let's be the ones who roll over this nation like a blue tide!

Thanks President Obama, we all needed to hear your speech.


Much is being said about the bill to require business to start collecting sales tax for online purchases.  The detractors of the bill say it will be harmful to the poor and middle class (let's face it, it will).  The proponents of the bill believe that this will some how help local businesses by making them more competitive.  Still others seek to win the hearts and minds by accusing people of being tax evaders by shopping online - a ridiculous proposition to say the least.  Additionally, people seem to be dodging the fact that shipping and handling on virtually all purchases.

In addition, many online retailers are already charging sales tax.  Apple has been charging sales tax through their iTunes store for awhile now and this has not affected revenue, sales growth, nor has it benefited local music stores at all.

So why do people shop online?  Surely it is more convenient and the ability to do research before you purchase the product is handy.  Additionally, many times you just cannot get the item you are looking for locally anymore.  And to be blunt, in many towns across America, non-local corporate stores have largely replaced mom and pop shops, so spending money locally is only marginally better and sometimes worse.  Case in point, my local grocery store is Wal-Mart, so I have to leave town to avoid a retailer I hate.

But these are all just extras.  The real reason people shop online is because you are buying from a global bazaar and there is a large opportunity for price arbitrage.  Massive savings can be had online without sacrificing quality.

In the recent past, I've purchased a few items that illustrate that point dramatically:

1)  I purchased a Delonghi EC702 espresso machine today.  Local retailers are selling it for $220.00 (Bed, Bath, and Beyond) or $360 (Macy's)!  Online, I purchased it for $160 + $11 s/h.  Unless the sales tax will be increased to 31.25%, I've somehow managed to save $50 on this purchase.

2)  I have purchased many used textbooks on Amazon (for my personal education) for $0.01.  The market price for these books locally often hits $150, but I've picked them up from between $5.00 - $0.01.  

3)  I just purchased 3 bottles of 24.5 fl. oz. Torani Hazelnut syrup for $17.50 + free shipping from Amazon.  A single 12 fl. oz. bottle in the store costs $6.99.  This is an enormous savings.

So, in reality, the sales tax issue is a complete wash.  The savings that can be had online virtually always beat shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.  The sales tax issue was always going to be implemented at some point.  So let's not worry too much about this because I guarantee no one will be purchasing offline over a measly sales tax.


Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 09:22 PM PDT

Thank you President Obama

by nathanfl

It is never too late to start making a difference, and I for one would like to thank President Obama for making a speech on jobs.  I think overall it was a good speech and that he consistently pounded the point: pass this jobs bill!  Over and over, like a hammer on the anvil, he used this phrase.  This was a fundamentally Democratic speech and it took the fight to the Republicans.  I can honestly say this is what I have wanted all along and that I felt proud of our President, something that I have not been able to say for a long time.

Mr. Obama is on the attack, he has the momentum.  We need to reach deep down and help the Democrats and Mr. Obama to continue this momentum and wash over the Do Nothing Republicans in Congress.  This wasn't a "Change you can believe in" or "Win the Future" BS speech, is was one that espoused Democratic values that everyone can believe in and support.

Granted, it is not a perfect proposal.  I can't say I really care for this bill to be revenue neutral by tax cuts, but he did say that we need to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations.  He even called out the Republicans on their vows to Norquist!  But there are many good things in here:

  • Tax cuts for the middle class.  These are important to me and all of my family and friends living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Rebuilding our infrastructure - this is obviously important.  I will note that the most pressing infrastructure need in the nation is to have a gold standard subway or light rail system in the Triangle, NC (one can wish ...)
  • Rebuilding our schools!  This investment is also obvious.  Hard to argue against building new schools!  We just gotta make sure that Republicans don't close them down after they are rebuilt!
  • Hiring new teachers!  This will pay huge dividends to our country and really benefit our economy in the short, medium, and long term.

Over the jump, I've pasted my favorite part of the speech.  I invite you all to do the same.  

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 12:27 AM PDT

Let's Oil the Jaws of the War Machine

by nathanfl

There is current a diary called No, Obama Has NOT Crossed the Line on Libya which attempts to explain why President Obama was not wrong to order the bombing of Libya.  Interposed into the text of Pres. Obama's speech was this attempt to gain the moral high ground:

When you see the barbaric behavior of Qaddafi to killing peaceful demonstrators indiscriminately and when more than 8,000 of them dead before the UN intervention, what kind of "moral math" can justify to seat on the side line and watch genocide continue until we call it for what it is? Should we be waiting 100 days like in Rwanda or three years and 200,000 lives later like in Bosnia or may be we should just watch 100,000 or 300,000 or 500,000 or 1,000,000 die while some continue to politicize the intervention.

This is the very definition of the slippery slope argument and the exact same behavior that was satirized in the movie Team America: World Police.

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one of my favorite movies,
Lord, Save Us from Your Followers, has an awesome scene at the end of the movie where Dan Merchant has a "reverse confessional" and gay people go into the booth and Dan apologizes to them for the wrongs he has transgressed against them.  so, after reading Adept2U's diary on the rec list Why Adept2u will no longer participate here politically, i've realized that I apparently can't see racism as well as I thought I could.  

i would like to apologize for any racism that I have committed, whether by comission or omission.  i hope i can learn from the community to help eliminate racism not only here but in the world i live in.

thanks, nathanfl


Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:43 PM PDT

Why I'm demotivated. Can you help?

by nathanfl

I've been enjoying reading some of the diaries here about this whole motivational gap here recently.  I've just finished watching an excellent movie, "Lord, save us from your followers!" which was all about communication and decided I would try to explain why I feel the way I do regarding the upcoming election.  Hopefully, I can receive some positive feedback and we can all have a conversation - actually listening to each other.  So please, lets talk to each other and consider each others opinions thoughtfully.

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We've all heard the mantra of evidenced-based medicine (EBM) in the media, and perhaps in our personal lives, but what is it?  How does it help me?  Is the health care industry doing that now?  Hopefully I can explain one of the ways that EBM has made patient care better all around: core measures and protocols based off of this research.

Core measures pertain to certain disease processes that need quick and decisive care upon arrival.  These diseases need to be identified fast so appropriate and efficacious care can be given.  Core measures are research-based interventions that, together, have been shown to offer solid improvement in the patients status.  There are eight of them, which you can read up on at the Joint Commission site here: Joint Commission Performance Measurement Initiative.

Lets talk about how core measures shape the care given for heart attacks, also referred to as acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

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Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:14 AM PDT

Experience's from a Night Nurse

by nathanfl

I work as an RN on the night shift in a community hospital.  One of my biggest challenges involves the care of the elderly, specifically those suffering from delirium or some form of dementia.  It is difficult dealing with these patients for many reasons: they often refuse care, they frequently have worse symptoms at night, and the family often have a lot of stress, namely shock, at the patient's unfortunate condition.

Being in the hospital is hard for everyone, but oftentimes the elderly are particularly vulnerable to acute episodes of confusion and disorientation.  The least serious variety is the aforementioned delirium which is often quick in onset, short in duration, and the patient can usually be restored to their baseline.  UTIs can often cause delirium, but being transferred to the hospital can be enough to trigger an acute episode of delirium.  When this occurs within the hospital, this is an important red flag that the patient has had an important change in mental status (dubbed "altered mental status").

It is our fellow humans suffering from dementia that are more difficult to deal with.

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