Who Needs Health Care Reform?

Monday, 15 February 2010, 19:56 | Category : Healthcare
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Certainly not the insurance companies. You just made a $2.7 billion – with a “b” – profit in the last quarter, so what do you do? You raise rates 39%. What a great country we have!

Strange Days

Monday, 15 February 2010, 17:17 | Category : Birds, Mississippi, Weather
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It’s been an unusual winter in central Mississippi, because for the first time in what seems like years, we’ve had winter. Some recent winters have seen only a few nights where temperatures got below freezing – which makes for a bumper crop of bugs the next spring. But we saw snow – very light, to be sure – in early December, and a spell of record low temperatures in January over an extended period. Then last week, this:

Snow in the front garden

I ended up with about 5″ of snow in the yard, along with a crew of hungry birds. This cardinal was waiting for his turn at the feeders:

Cardinal in the snow

as was this goldfinch:

and this house finch:

House finch

This little guy just looked cold:

Cold little bird

End Of An Era

Thursday, 11 February 2010, 22:35 | Category : Books
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I’ve been a subscriber to US News And World Report for over 30 years. For all those years, it was my favorite news magazine. But the next issue will be my last. A few months back, US News changed from being a weekly magazine to a monthly, with “digital editions” in between the once-a-month print edition. And it’s lost it’s value to me. I know that the new day of internet media and newspaper websites has made it tough for magazines like US News and Time to compete, but the formula that US News decided upon just doesn’t appeal to me at all. I still favor print over online, so maybe I’ll try Time or Newsweek, but I suspect their days as weeklies are numbered too.I think we’re losing more than we know.

In The Garden

Friday, 5 February 2010, 10:31 | Category : Gardening
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While Mississippi isn’t known for rocks, I do have some in my garden as accents. My in-laws own about 250 acres about 40 miles from my house. While wandering the property years ago, I found a small outcropping of some fairly large rocks, probably sandstone. I moved a few to my garden. Those rocks recently told me how old I’ve gotten. 20 years ago, I picked up each rock by myself and lifted it into the back of my pickup truck. Last year, when I wanted to move them to another part of the garden, I had to get a two-wheel dolly and roll them onto it. I doubt that they’ve gotten heavier!

I saw the first crocus blooms earlier this week, and early daffodils are putting up foliage. The tulips I finally got around to planting a couple of weeks ago (after being refrigerated for two months) are beginning to peek out above the soil. There’s still cold weather ahead, but in Mississippi, this is the time that winter begins slowly loosening it’s grip. Not a bad time at all, if the rain will just stop for a little while.

Scorched Earth In The Drug War

Thursday, 4 February 2010, 22:36 | Category : Mississippi
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The Mississippi legislature this week passed a bill that makes pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. Unless some miraculous event causes him to rethink his position, Governor Barbour will sign the bill, and many will consider this a major step towards defeating the meth labs. I’m not one of them. Pseudoephedrine already was held behind pharmacy counters, and you had to sign a log book when you bought it. Some advocated that perhaps an electronic registration system should be tried. But the Mississippi legislature, in an amazingly fast legislative process, passed this bill almost without debate. I hope it reduces the number of meth labs in the state. Because it will definitely cost Mississippians plenty of money and inconvenience. Today, if you have a cold, you can get pseudoephedrine at the pharmacy, after signing the log book, for about $5. Once Governor Barbour signs the bill, you’ll first have to go to the doctor, at a cost of $50-100, and get a prescription. Then, since prescription drugs generally are covered on the insurance company’s drug plan at fixed rates, I assume you’ll be paying $10-15 for what you once paid $5. Who will get that extra money? As for the meth lab crowd, they’ll simply drive to Memphis or Mobile or whatever town lies just across the border in Louisiana or Tennessee or Alabama. Will it be legal to transport pseudoephedrine across the state line? If I get sick while in Atlanta, and buy some, will I be breaking the law if I bring it home? It’s ironic that this editorial was in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And it’s ironic that the sheriff of Desota County was referenced in the editorial. Desota County lies right across the state line from Memphis, where pseudoephedrine is kept behind pharmacy counters. Meth dealers in his county will be among the least affected. I’m not discounting the effects of meth on our society. But this singles out one ingredient. Matches, acetone, starter fluid, paint thinner, iodine – all these are also ingredients used in meth labs. Will we restrict those too? Sometimes, what seems to be the obvious solution isn’t a solution at all.