Category Archives: notes and musings from a big country

some (very) personal observations about America

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows – NYTimes.com

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows – NYTimes.com.

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows

Hospitals and doctors’ offices, hoping to curb medical error, have invested heavily to put computers, smartphones and other devices into the hands of medical staff for instant access to patient data, drug information and case studies.

But like many cures, this solution has come with an unintended side effect: doctors and nurses can be focused on the screen and not the patient, even during moments of critical care. And they are not always doing work; examples include a neurosurgeon making personal calls during an operation, a nurse checking airfares during surgery and a poll showing that half of technicians running bypass machines had admitted texting during a procedure.

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Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Harold Camping-October 21: Radio minister makes new end of days prediction.

Harold Camping-October 21: Radio minister makes new end of days prediction..

Harold Camping, Again, Preps for World’s End

The 90-year-old radio minister takes another swing at forecasting the apocalypse.

The end is near, again, probably. So get ready, maybe.Harold Camping, the 90-year-old radio host who famously predicted the world would end last May on the 21st, has confirmed that he believes the world will now end Friday, “probably.”

After God failed to deliver on the appointed date last spring, Camping, facing mockery from the press and crushing disappointment and anger from his followers, quickly produced a revision to his predication, setting the new, for-real-this-time, date of Oct. 21.

According to his revised explanation, the “spiritual rapture” did indeed occur on May 21, but the actual end-of-the-world rapture will occur Friday. Conveniently, the spiritual rapture passed virtually undetected to all but Camping.

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Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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Hollywood Dishonors the Bard – NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Contributor

Hollywood Dishonors the Bard

ROLAND EMMERICH’S film “Anonymous,” which opens next week, “presents a compelling portrait of Edward de Vere as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.” That’s according to the lesson plans that Sony Pictures has been distributing to literature and history teachers in the hope of convincing students that Shakespeare was a fraud. A documentary by First Folio Pictures (of which Mr. Emmerich is president) will also be part of this campaign.

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In dramatizing this conspiracy, Mr. Emmerich has made a film for our time, in which claims based on conviction are as valid as those based on hard evidence.

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Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide – NYTimes.com

Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide – NYTimes.com.

Currents

Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Let us begin by confessing that, if Sarah Palin surfaced to say something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition, many of us would fail to hear it.

That is not how we’re primed to see Ms. Palin. A pugnacious Tea Partyer? Sure. A woman of the people? Yup. A Mama Grizzly? You betcha.

But something curious happened when Ms. Palin strode onto the stage last weekend at a Tea Party event in Indianola, Iowa. Along with her familiar and predictable swipes at President Barack Obama and the “far left,” she delivered a devastating indictment of the entire U.S. political establishment — left, right and center — and pointed toward a way of transcending the presently unbridgeable political divide.

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She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

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Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Yes, Congress Is in Session for a Few Seconds, Anyway – NYTimes.com

Yes, Congress Is in Session for a Few Seconds, Anyway – NYTimes.com.

Yes, Congress Is in Session (for a Few Seconds, Anyway)

WASHINGTON — “Thonk!”

That’s the sound of the gavel smacking down as the people’s business got underway Friday in the United States Senate. It was also the sound, 59 seconds later, of the end of the workday. Mission accomplished!

That’s all the time two senators took to approve an agreement ending a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, which had been left in limbo as Congress left town a few days ago.

To the rest of the world, Congress appears in recess. […]

But Congress is actually in pro forma session, so at least one member of each chamber must show up every three days, gavel the session in, and, barring any bits of minor business, bang the gavel a few moments later and head back home.

According to the Constitution, neither chamber of Congress may adjourn for more than three days without permission of the other. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, did not seek a resolution of adjournment this week, because he knew that the House would not go along, lest President Obama grab the opportunity for a recess appointment of any of the many nominees being blocked by Senate Republicans. […]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Congressional grades: Congress shouldn’t be graded on passing laws. – By Shankar Vedantam – Slate Magazine

Congressional grades: Congress shouldn’t be graded on passing laws. – By Shankar Vedantam – Slate Magazine.

Why Congress Deserves an “A”

Don’t blame Congress for not passing laws. It’s designed that way.

Stroll around Washington, D.C., this summer, and you will see hordes of tourists thronging the national Mall. Parents ask their kids, “What’s the role of Congress?” And the teenagers respond, “The purpose of Congress is to pass laws.”

Most people who hear that nowadays feel an urge to laugh. Sure, that’s the purpose of Congress, but that isn’t what Congress actually does. Congress in theory is decisive, but Congress in practice is dysfunctional. If Congress were a student and its handling of the debt-ceiling crisis were an exam, it would get an F, if not expulsion or a referral to the juvenile justice system.

But what if the civics-textbook definition of Congress is wrong? What if Congress is working precisely as designed?

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Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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What it takes to run for Senate …

… is being good on the stump and being good at the chicken bake. At least that’s what you can gather from remarks by John Walsh, the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, on the possible candidacy of Ms. Elizabeth Warren for the US Senate: “I don’t know her, but I’ve seen her on TV, and if she’s as good on the stump or at the chicken bake as she is on Rachel Maddow, she will definitely have some support.

quoted from: The New York Times

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How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans – Magazine – The Atlantic

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans – Magazine – The Atlantic.

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans

An insider’s six-step plan to fix Congress

By Mickey Edwards

Angry and frustrated, American voters went to the polls in November 2010 to “take back” their country. Just as they had done in 2008. And 2006. And repeatedly for decades, whether it was Republicans or Democrats from whom they were taking the country back. No matter who was put in charge, things didn’t get better. They won’t this time, either; spending levels may go down, taxes may go up, budgets will change, but American government will go on the way it has, not as a collective enterprise but as a battle between warring tribes.

If we are truly a democracy—if voters get to size up candidates for a public office and choose the one they want—why don’t the elections seem to change anything? […]
Read tghe full story here: The Atlantic

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A way out of our dysfunctional politics – The Washington Post

A way out of our dysfunctional politics – The Washington Post.

Fareed Zakaria
Opinion Writer

A way out of our dysfunctional politics

In the standoff over the debt crisis, it’s easy to point the finger at the Tea Party. Even conservative commentators have argued that its uncompromising ideology is at the heart of the problem. But there have often been strong ideological movements in American politics, represented by politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern. Yet between elections, people still found ways to compromise and govern. What has steadily changed over the past three or four decades is not so much the ideological intensity (though it has grown) but the structure of politics, making it more beholden to narrow, specialized interests — including ideological ones — rather than broader national ones.

There was no golden age in Washington when people were more high-
minded than they are today. But 40 years ago, the rules and organizing framework of politics made it easier for the two parties to work together. Since then, a series of changes has led to the narrowcasting of American politics. […]

Read the full story here: The Washington Post

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Candidate Pledges Increase in Hope of Republican Victory – NYTimes.com

Candidate Pledges Increase in Hope of Republican Victory – NYTimes.com.

Election Cycle Emerges as the Year of the Pledge, but Some Candidates Resist

This is the year presidential candidates are being asked to take the pledge.

They are asked to state their opposition to abortion rights. They are pressed to pledge support for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

They have been asked to oppose pornography, women in combat and Sharia law — all part of a “marriage vow” pledge.

Candidate pledges, an incidental part of past presidential elections, have exploded this year as advocacy groups seek to hold a future Republican president accountable.

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Read the full story here: The New York Times

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