September 9th, 2016
We’ve seen the awful sights of Syria’s ruined cities, smoke emanating from the rubble of buildings that used to be homes. The story of those abandoning the destruction is well known to newspaper readers and television viewers via the images of the Syrians trudging towards transportation and the hope of shelter.
Earlier blog posts here at the Armchairactivist spoke of homes I’ve been forced to abandon when sudden symptoms of serious illness emerged for no apparent reason. Ignorance and disbelief sometimes led to my remaining inside some of those quality structures, unaware they had turned into equivalent forms of ‘rubble’ practically overnight. Whether I walked or crawled out of those buildings depended upon my ability to relate environmental events with possible reasons for sudden illness. Toxic events that can lead to chronic health problems are numerous be it living too close to a golf course or next door to a home that is one day tented for termite treatments. Construction problems may also come from electrical sources to drywall brands.
Around 430 people die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning. My knowledge of the symptoms had grown after taking a fire safety course. The knowledge proved invaluable when high levels of CO required my evacuation from a new rental with a leak, and again when damage to my car raised interior cabin levels well above safe limits. The EPA tells us repeatedly that hazardous indoor gasses may be more harmful to our health than dissipated industrial fumes encountered outdoors. Listening to the language of your bodily organs protesting invasion by hazardous substances will lead residents to look for external events, like the sight of a retreating lawn chemical truck leaving a neighbor’s yard. Children and adults have had demonstrable nervous system damage sometimes leading to death as in these cases.
Poisons can end the ability to work and even life itself. There is a turning point when a home is transformed from that long sought-after dwelling you’ve purchased or rented and becomes a ‘toxic hell’. That is a test of each person’s willingness to examine seemingly invisible realities of modern life. The ease of selecting the wrong paint for interior work can alter the quality of your life for years to come. It wasn’t until 1977 that lead-containing paints were banned because the public refused to analyze the safety issues and independently cease to purchase the product. The government cannot wrap each citizen in cotton-wool to protect us. The market place speaks based upon dollars used to chase the least hazardous products. After all, our supermarkets sell chlorine bleach and pesticide foggers.
The Syrians suffered from an insurgency involving chemicals, ultimately confiscated by international rulings and transported to Russia for destruction. Newspaper reports after that point spoke of people buying chlorine bleach and making gasses from it, indicating a full scale war was in motion. The death toll is noted to be around half a million.
The death toll from our own voluntary toxic exposures is counted in cases of cancer, auto-immune diseases, strokes, diabetes and organ failure (kidney and liver predominantly). The toll is well into the millions and requires us to think about whether the Syrian conflict is limited to that country. Perhaps we need new glasses to see whether our well-appointed western homes aren’t significantly different from a Syrian home.
Optical illusions of whole habitats tend to go hand in hand with denial.
Categories: Articles, CDC, commentary, Daily Mail, EPA, Life Observations
August 24th, 2016
In my slow travels through the warmer places of the world, I’ve visited countries where neo-Nazis like ‘Golden Dawn‘ hold parliamentary seats. But then, I’ve lived in New Hampshire, USA where swastikas adorned the necks of young men who beat up elderly Jews in supermarket parking lots. In Holland, two elderly Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were beaten by into helplessness. The couple was forced to move into a nursing facility, yet another home lost to violence.
People laughed when the term, ‘secular humanism’ was declared a religion, something I’d urged in a letter written to Bill Mahr, the libertarian entertainer. In discussions overheard about minorities and ‘outsiders’, along with direct verbal and physical assaults upon myself as a Jew, I realized the foreign deity we all fear most is ‘Politics’ with a capital ‘P’. Small letters are best utilized when speaking about the ways people organize life in our communities.
Interestingly, early and later emerging religions espoused human values that were written into constitutions and tort laws. When humans began to believe they were too intellectually advanced to abide by those ‘primitive’ values, (like, thou shalt not murder), their codes of honor were turned into a combination of graceful concessions to the fair sex (thank you Sir Walter Raleigh for the mantle over the mud puddle) and various political systems.
The wars of the world were fought between political systems for resources, (like water rights), and power over those who would potentially enslave them. When humans “assimilated” into these political realms of thought, the religious/humanist principles faded away. When Scarlett O’Hara felt guilty about manipulating others for food security after the Civil War left her destitute and starving, she would say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Obviously the author of ‘Gone With the Wind” did not envision a world where thought police would ensure those reflections upon Scarlett’s own behavior would never recur.
Humanist, thy valued ideals are religious in nature. Do not assimilate because tomorrow you may not be able to find the visions you hold today in the recesses of your mind. There is a disease of government we may refer to as ‘Political Alzheimers’. That’s called fascism and the children of its acolytes (Nazis) and proponents/victims (communists), learn to equate less oppression with freedom.
Tomorrow is now.
Categories: commentary, Life Observations
August 7th, 2016
This blog has a long history of detailing incidents of chemical poisoning by both accident and intent. Following the Environmental Protection Agency’s request that I litigate my own chemical injuries due to negligence, my medical and legal files showed ongoing harassment resulting from that action. A settlement offer was never made and my lawyer left the still-open case under a NYC courthouse. The unfortunately inadequate legal precedents regarding the use of chemicals to injure and harass are likely responsible for their increasing usage around the globe.
The Times of Israel has a chilling report of how Jewish children are being driven from Belgian elementary schools with Nazi rhetoric. In the above noted article, local children pressed cans of deodorant against the back of a Jewish boy, causing actual burns to his skin. Damage to his lungs was not detailed but we all know that aerosols are regarded as too toxic to allow on board airplanes. Must we now worry about whether boys are mature enough to handle cans of deodorant and girls, their perfume atomizers?
Belgium, host to NATO and the European Parliament, is also home to frequent incidents of anti-Semitism. I wear my Star of David when in Europe just as many Europeans wear crosses. The fact that I travel with Jewish books makes my identity open knowledge, so I may as well wear my own standard for life. Additionally, the pendant helps when making reports of problems illustrative of anti-Semitism, because my reports may then state the perpetrator(s) likely knew I was Jewish. That includes a Brussels police officer referring to the ‘Yid’ who called at midnight after a hostel manager objected to having a ‘Juden’ sit up overnight in his 24 hour lobby. Insomnia had required I leave my room to work where a light would not disturb my roommates. The manager merely wanted to sleep on the couch against his employer’s rules and I was in his way.
The article above is indicative of an even more serious problem. Children preying upon children demonstrates the failure to transmit values of tolerance from parent to child and points to an absence of adequate supervision in public schools. Is it any surprise that private school alumni are sought by employers as having a better quality of education than their peers?
Like many Jews, I’ve resorted to reading about defensive measures needed to survive the travel required by my health and budgetary limitations. Personal observations made in Central Europe and Scandanavia affirm the come-back in obvious disdain of Jews. The easily obtainable chemicals cited in the news report ought to be termed a modern method for conducting ‘pogroms’ upon the dispersed Children of Israel. Law enforcement professionals must learn new ways to document and prosecute those attacking others with toxic agents.
It’s so cheap and easy, even a child can do it.
Categories: The TImes of Israel
June 23rd, 2016
…of my missing suitcase. I’m sitting at the Fiumicino Airport like a Golem, with no suitcase due to the bizarre games people play with cellphones and MP3 players.
Following the favorable weather for my health and my pocketbook, I’m presently in Italy.
Taking a bus from Roma Center to the airport for lodgings, my youthful companions on the Schiaffini airport bus were playing a game I’ve already written about in prior posts about ‘smell-o-phones’. Rather dazed from the latest garbage in use by empty-headed teens, I exited the bus and forgot my suitcase stored beneath. Realizing the error after several minutes of fresh air had blown the cobwebs from my brain, I returned to the bus stop and found no evidence that it had been turned into their office by a company employee.
Definitely an unfavorable sign, I went to file a police report. Feeling silly about reporting the phone spray as I had in a past situation when a spray had induced a state allowing the theft of my cellphone, closely held to my body in an airport pouch. The report has been filed and I await word of the company’s search process here at the airport..
While the kids may have been indulging in play that would be forbidden in a perfume store where law suits by allergic and asthmatic individuals were successful, this trend is truly a hazard. Encouraged by this frequently encountered game, gangs of thieves in England are introducing anesthetic gasses into homes and caravans, robbing the inhabitants as they lie unconscious. This is happening with increasing frequency as reported here, in this British newspaper:
This renders the stupid play of mindless adolescents something of a screen for the real thieves out there.
Categories: Articles, Daily Mail, Life Observations
June 15th, 2016
The Netherlands is also the hinterland for international justice. An international appeal is now warranted to that August body for help with an international crisis.
We are faced with a quandary in the form of ISIS that you may not understand first hand from your living room sofa. I divide my time between America, where I experienced chemical terrorism, and Israel, where we prepare daily for all types of terrorism. The news from Syria is ‘next door’ to my Jerusalem sub-lets.
When an apartment of mine in New York was poisoned, it was comparable to a bombed-out structure in Syria. The building ‘fell upon my head’, in a manner of speaking. In Syria you can see the rubble. In a poisoned Western home, only the sick resident sees the dust of the ruined dwelling.
The nature of the Syrian insurgency was so severe that the nation permitted those homes to fall, survivors casting themselves upon the kindness of strangers both far and near. However, the insurgents were unable to stop themselves even in flight. Be it the purchase of chlorine bleach in a market to manufacture gas, (after chemical weapons were removed from Syria), or the violence of migrants among the refugees leading to the burning of tent cities in Sweden, these androids of warfare have no place to go. As with ISIS, their countries of origin are varied and don’t want their return. That leaves only a promise of interminable warfare, declared or otherwise.
The Hague was designed for this kind of problem. United Nations peace-keeping troops are feared as much as they used to be desired, often an excuse to post Chinese troops on foreign soil. Given international approval, The Hague would offer true justice with approved judges and international prison facilities. At present, militant ISIS either tortures its prisoners or is tortured in the prisons where they are held. Surrender is not an option and therefore members escalate in ferocity to reduce the frequency of confrontations. With a reasonable expectation of justice, most might consider taking their leave of savagery.
Newer members might be freed quickly, before committing atrocities. Older members could be evaluated through a variety of parameters that includes a frank analysis of that brand of warfare. Victims, partially or fully censored in their own countries of refuge, would have an opportunity to have their stories told and their cases prosecuted. Costs would be amortized across countries.
The Hague may be the only remaining forum in our international ‘night’ to provide a glimmer of what Francis Scott Key would term, ‘the dawn’s early light’. Raise your voices and pens to demand forward movement in our backward march through the Middle Ages. We have ample daily evidence that barbarity doesn’t require modern weaponry so options must be created to lure what’s left of humanity back towards civilization.
March 27th, 2016
Aristotle Was Wrong
When “A” Doesn’t Equal “A”
by Barbara Rubin
Identity is among the most hotly debated ideas in the world today. Most people have stumbled across Shakespeare’s line out of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Singer Jim Croce ground out the claim, “I got a name, I got a name.”, in his gruff alto several hundred years later on another continent (Gimbel and Fox, 1973). We can hardly claim that identity was in absentia before the famed Greek scholar Aristotle invented the use of mathematical analogies to describe aspects of the human condition. Egyptians had already built granaries to their ancient, regional fame. The Children of Israel had invented a nation that defied the idea that actual borders are required to define a people. Nonetheless, Aristotle’s ‘Law of Identity’, expressed as ‘A is A’, stated that “Everything is the same as itself; or a statement cannot remain the same and change its truth value.”.(1) Upon examination, nation-states under the Greek Empire wavered between pride in their recognition by their Greek overlords as member states while keeping on their tribal names and traditions, until such time as assimilation eroded those ways. Perhaps that requires a reinterpretation of the formula into ‘Alpha’ equals ‘Alpha’, with Greece as ‘top-dog’, with a small ‘a’ equivalent to any other small ‘a’, from the overlord’s viewpoint. Interestingly, the Grecian inability to co-exist with the nation of Israel brings in another letter we can refer to as an ‘Aleph’. The variables introduced by different alphabets and cases, (lower and upper), already challenge Aristotelian math. There are multiple values for an “A”.
Survival has always required membership in a group for purposes of collective memory. Lost languages and generations of illiteracy eradicated numerous tribal identities after land and resources were lost in regional conflicts (e.g. the Canaanites and Hittites). Nomadic groups suffered the fate of Darwinism, forcibly sacrificing the lives of elderly and weak members to manage seasonal treks towards renewable food sources. Identity in those groups was not merely by name but by role within the group. Names defined how one contributed towards survival. Hunters, gatherers, healers and tool-makers were essential labels within a tribe. Settled populations eventually devolved into Lords and serfs, establishing customs within borders that changed overlords and languages based upon the fortunes of war. The maintenance of identity through occupation is still visible in surnames used today like Porter, Taylor, Smith and Miller. Land might not be handed down but utility within the group became a constant. Work became a new form of ‘A’ value independent of location and language. Mobility, while rare, was made possible.
March 27th, 2016
Men are faced with an interesting problem when a wife (or girlfriend) tells them they are about to become a father. Paternity ought to give leave to thoughts about a father’s role in the birth process. Perhaps paternity leave for fathers should be offered during the wife’s pregnancy instead of afterwards? It’s an undeniable fact that the woman will nurture and bear the child that both conceived together, for better or worse. However, the shaping of the mind and heart of the infant is the task of both parents.
In Jewish law, moral adulthood begins at twelve for girls and thirteen for boys. The fathers give sighs of relief for the delivery of that soul to its rightful owner. I believe the years between birth and puberty may be interpreted as the ‘paternal gestation’ period. Fathers can choose to avoid or observe the pangs of the actual expulsion of a newborn from the womb of a beloved woman. However, they cannot escape the moral imperative of that child’s ultimate expulsion from their own period of ‘protective custody’, before a son or daughter enters into adulthood and must vie with all the challenges of this world.
January 21st, 2016
Today’s campuses are in a state of war. The battle for an education needn’t draw blood when the teacher is prepared to rethink the design of the typical college classroom. Check your assumptions at the door and read this free, 12 page pamphlet to determine where the risks -and rewards- remain in higher education.
A Fearless Classroom
By Barbara Rubin
eBook (PDF), 12 Pages (1 Ratings)
A climate of intimidation unfortunately exists in many institutions of higher learning. These twelve pages provide a window into the creation of fearless classrooms, able to fulfill the inherent contract between teachers and students.
December 12th, 2015
Physicians today are faced with a problem in diagnostics that was historically rare rare in medical science. Formally, disease and injuries affected single organs or bodily systems. Today, the frequency of multi-system illness has led to remarkable discoveries in areas of autoimmune disease and the origins of multiple organ failure. A frequent cause of both is poisoning.
Poisoning through the ambient air of highly polluted industrial regions like China and India is associated with an enormous array of health problems from appendicitis to cancer. Local, self-induced poisonings usually happen accidentally. Pesticides, construction chemicals, and unsafe food preparation leading to salmonella infections cause illnesses that are ubiquitous throughout the western world. Overuse of medications can destroy intestinal functions and immunological systems.
Repeat accidents lead to an understanding of cause-effect relationships in exposure-driven ailments. Beyond that point of recognition, repeat injuries can be a sign of negligence in avoiding known harm. Ongoing harm involving minors may be a sign of criminal negligence by guardians or assault with intent by peers or other adults in their vicinities. Ongoing harm in adults can mean they are victims of negligence or assault by others. Lastly, ongoing harm from the same sources may mean an individual is engaging in self-harm, a psychiatric condition.
The new physician coding system that permits diagnostic records to authorize laboratory testing orders and bill insurance companies is called the ICD-10. It has novel categories permitting a specificity of diagnoses with the intent of identifying preventable harm. Medical costs are the single largest cause of debt in the USA today. Morbidity and mortality rates from infancy to the elderly relegate our status to that of a third world country. Tracking the causes of human suffering and fiscal instability calls our conglomerates in the industry of healing to action.
This system for diagnosing poisoning was more limited in the previous ICD-9 codes. My own disabling pesticide exposures were categorized under (989.9) Toxic Effects of Chemicals (NOS, chiefly non-medicinal in nature). No classification regarding the type of exposure (negligence) was noted in my medical records at that time. The newer ICD classes of preventable harm to various substances, be they pharmaceuticals or poisons designed to kill weeds, require a context for the harm to be identified. This example covers the official coding for a patient harmed by penicillins:
Poisoning by penicillins, accidental (unintentional) initial encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, accidental (unintentional), subsequent encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, accidental (unintentional), sequela
Poisoning by penicillins, intentional self-harm, initial encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, intentional self-harm, subsequent encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, intentional self-harm, sequela
Poisoning by penicillins, assault, initial encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, assault, subsequent encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, assault, sequela
Poisoning by penicillins, undetermined, initial encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, undetermined, subsequent encounter
Poisoning by penicillins, undetermined, sequela
The term ‘undetermined’ may include negligence and indicates the need for further
investigation. For example, an Emergency Room physician might neglect to look at
records of allergies and administer the drug. A non-custodial parent might give the
rest of a bottle of antibiotic medicine to their child, not recalling the custodial parent
had informed them not to do so. A homeowner might have notified their neighbor of
adverse reactions to their lawn care company’s activities only to suffer should the
company failed to follow new instructions by the neighbor.
Long-term sequela of toxic exposures are numerous and will assist in tracking the
ultimate results of various forms for preventable harm. Medical interviewing will
Become more comprehensive. Teachers might need to be interviewed by pediatricians
for more information than working parents can provide. Assistance to substance-abusing
teens huffing the contents of their chemically filled cell phones at school, might result
in a diagnosis of self-harm. Failure to address that returns to issues of parental neglect.
The economic implications are immense. Workplace insurance claims for illness might
be invalidated by medical histories as records follow people over the course of their
lifetimes under electronic record-keeping. It is often impossible to remove portions
of records that are inaccurate or defamatory. Long-term disability insurers can refuse
coverage after two years where mental illness is known to be present should self-harm
be part of the record. Repeated work exposures to acetone in a nail salon may, as in past
years, remove that class of workers from health care coverage. Private insurers may
refuse coverage to construction workers unless unions provide proof that OSHA
regulations are being followed (i.e. use of respirators and legally permitted materials).
Importation of hazardous materials like the banned Chinese drywall emitting hydrogen
sulfide, would lead to negligence suits by insurers for return of funds provided to sick
Financial benefits accrue to medical insurers with this system. They would be able to
insist upon restitution of funds provided for victims of negligence or assault from
criminally responsible parties. Self-harming persons would be referred for mental health
care (rarely funded in full on American policies) or suffer a loss of coverage. The legal
profession would be deluged with cases of negligence and purposeful harm. My own
legal case, (that has yet to get to court despite the passage of fifteen years since it was
filed), would not have languished for so long had prosecution been normal policy.
New Tech Industry Opportunity
The new emphasis in these codes falls upon two forms of developing technologies.
Firstly, the testing of bodily fluids will require economical and reliable methods of
Detecting residues of toxic substances. These include metabolites of pesticides and
herbicides beyond the normal three day period presently considered the time frame for
Most exposure investigations. Fragrance chemicals in unusual concentrations, tattoo
dyes, plastics known to be contaminants in some food imports, residues of un-combusted
fuels, aldehydes and other frequently encountered pollutants will be essential. Parents,
teachers and employers can assist utilizing new phone apps that analyze chemical
residues on surfaces of their surroundings. That makes the medical history more
productive in narrowing down the scope of inquiry.
Laboratories will need to expand the range of tests that can be performed environmentally
as well. I’ve personally used various tests to detect excessive formaldehyde in new
cabinetry and petroleum particulates from faulty heating equipment. This leads us into a
new era of science, medicine and accountability in the area of human health.
Categories: CDC, commentary, EPA, FDA, Life Observations, Litigation, NIH
December 3rd, 2015
From Sarin in the Tokyo subways to anthrax in the post offices of the Eastern Seaboard in the USA, biological injuries are not to be ignored. The public is remarkably reticent about reporting these problems despite a frightening familiarity with headache onset at the dry cleaner, dizziness at the nail salon and nausea when passing a freshly fertilized lawn. The frequency of chemical exposure is so great that many individuals can’t recall what their baseline for ‘feeling fine’ was before the neighbors tented their homes for termites.
When you go to an airport, this announcement can be heard around the clock: “If you see something, say something”.
The first report I made about possible terrorism was made in Boston’s Tip O’Neill Federal building, back in 2008. After a room of people awaiting passports appeared grossly uncomfortable, red-faced and coughing up a storm, I witnessed a woman leave the room and followed her. We entered the bathroom where she tossed a foul-smelling paper into a toilet and ran like hell out the door and down the corridor. Reflexes dictated I pursue her and I later showed her photo to a guard near the passport office. He said he’d call security but didn’t appear to be in a hurry about it.
The next time I made a report of this nature was in London, a few months ago. Enroute to my hotel near Gatwick airport, I knelt down by a camera-guarded waiting area with benches to tie my belongings more strongly to my luggage trolley. A moment later, a young man stooped next to my position and shoved an orange plastic sack against my face. Moist air rushed onto my skin accompanied by the crackling sound of a plastic bottle being squeezed. He ran off and I rose, rather astonished. Making my way to the taxi area, I began to feel very nauseated and dizzy. Upon seeing the security desk, I determined my best option was to file a report with the authorities. A West Sussex police officer arrived about twenty minutes after the station was called by local transit police. He was taking my statement when his phone buzzed, informing him that another person was waiting elsewhere in the airport to make an identical complaint. We rapidly finished the paperwork and I was sent an incident report number the next day. It’s true that reporters of these types of events are rarely given the results of such investigations but that doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility of making those reports.
My third report was in Jerusalem last week. While reading in the lobby of a hostel, a man who had been coming and going throughout the day stopped at the front desk around closing time. He pulled an envelope from his pocket and, oddly enough, ripped it partially open without removing anything from it. He left it atop the rim of a waste can near my seat and a sickly-sweet odor wafted from it. This being Israel, we take all oddities as potential dangers so I wrapped the envelope in several layers of plastic and taped it securely. The next day, I dropped it off at a police station as a suspicious substance. Hopefully, somebody will email the results of their findings.
I believe that too many individuals fear to make reports because they might be called ‘crazy’ or ‘paranoid’. It’s simply the normal response in a world whose daily headlines daily scream that terrorism and outright warfare are happening. Perhaps fewer real incidents would happen if each one were pursued appropriately. The police would rather see these over-reported than ignored.
Categories: commentary, Life Observations