January 21st, 2016
The Fearless Classroom
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.
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
October 27th, 2015
The comedian, Jack Benny, used to answer this demand with the phrase, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” For Judge Wiggins of Marion, Alabama, that question was deemed part of the legal process in his courtroom. Life is no idyll for a judge in post-constitutional America but judicial review of process is not a dispensable part of the system. His Honor ordered offenders in his court with inadequate funds to pay their fines to donate blood or do time. The article (below) explains the issues quite well but merely flirts with the potential for abuses in prisons anywhere willing to engage in the ‘body parts and fluids’ trade.
Does this phrase in Leviticus 11:17 ring a bell? “The life is in the blood…”.
Your money or your life is indeed a real question today in the US of A.
News story here- http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/us/for-offenders-who-cant-pay-its-a-pint-of-blood-or-jail-time.html?_r=1
Categories: Newspaper Commentary, NY Times
September 30th, 2015
You have all been reading the ‘linked in’ website for too long and refuse to follow a single thread of policy, from start to finish, without a comparison being drawn.
There are no discussions of protecting the vulnerable populations without pointing at a less vulnerable group to blame for …, invulnerability perhaps? We can speak about the poor without reference to the wealthy because the wealthy Americans didn’t produce poor immigrants. Let’s return to subjects of opportunity instead.
There are no discussions about the vulnerability of the fetus without speaking about the right to choose abortion. Let’s talk about why half of all pregnancies in America end in ‘spontaneous abortion’, formerly referred to as miscarriages. When we solve the problem of THAT ‘miscarriage’ of justice we can return to issues of a right to choose. Right now, we are refused the right to carry a fetus to full term. Something in the air perhaps?
The equality gap is a form of mental illness. The gap is actually the distance you must mentally traverse between existence and life. There is no minimum wage that guarantees you have ‘made it’ when your discretionary income is spent in a stage 4 cancer ward worrying about your ten year old daughter and your eight year old son getting through school.
Please stop defining life and law through comparisons. We shouldn’t need to stand in each other’s shoes because we all have a single law of life in common that defies legislation- human physiology. Glenn Beck (Christian Right) said that the constitution was all that stood between the natural laws of men and their governments. Perhaps the NIH (National Institutes of Health) ought to be in charge of the next constitutional congress. Interestingly, Israel has no constitution and each person upholds life as an inalienable possession – not a right. Self-governance is natural.
Rules of grammar demand there be an “I” before a “We”. “I” is never a comparison term.
Categories: commentary, Life Observations, NIH
September 3rd, 2015
The United Nations Office for Armament Affairs offers up a history of agreements for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons begun in 1968. Extended indefinitely in 1995, there are 190 signers of this agreement limiting increases of these devices. While everybody has been involved in that endeavor, war has neither ceased nor desisted.
There is yet another means of nuclear proliferation that nobody appears to be trying to eliminate. Cancer is the proliferation of abnormal cells whose nuclei divide endlessly. The proliferation rate, as measured in the counting of cells in their mitotic states, is the predictor of death by this highly preventable disease.
Half of American men and a third of American women get cancer. The treatments are themselves barbaric. Our nation has developed a survivor mentality while awaiting a Superman (or woman) with an MD to utilize their X-ray vision and render a diagnosis.
As a breast cancer survivor,(for the present), I ask each person to evaluate the cellular type of proliferation doing violence to our health. Please raise your voice to limit the dissemination of carcinogens through the purposeful and accidental abuses of chemicals.
Next post: The Other Famine – Starvation With a Full Pantry
Categories: commentary, Life Observations, NIH
July 27th, 2015
A major legacy of each American president has been the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices. The main issues discussed throughout the preparation of those ‘short-lists’ of preferred candidates were called ‘litmus’ tests. Litmus paper measures the PH of a substance, also referred to as the ‘acid’ test. Without a proper balance, a plant, animal or human isn’t viable for life.
Among the litmus tests for Supreme Court nominees was abortion, the rights of minorities and so forth. Their very thoughts on such matters were recorded in casual conversations for leaks that might lead to a yea or nay vote by confirmation panels.
Today, on college campuses there are children who have yet to register for a single class in subject matters of import but are required to chant magic incantations that urge the financial starvation of millions in the Middle East. All the more satisfying, if the millions are the extended ‘familia’ of the students who identify as Jews. The movement underlying the latest form of hazing to enter the ‘club’ of campus existence is known as ‘BDS’, Boycott Divest and Sanction. The movement is directed solely against Israel in order to ensure economic isolation through by refusing to patronize companies in the Land. The targeting of disputes about Israeli borders while ignoring real occupation entities like China’s illegal presence in Tibet (and their recent appropriation of air space and sea lanes in the South China Sea), demonstrates the established habit of targeting the national identity of the Jewish people wherever we dwell.
Students are no longer left in peace to pursue dreams of learning and advancement. Ignorants stalk them and insist they profess opinions, with or without study, about the oppression of Palestinians in and around the nation-state of Israel. Woe betide the student who fails the litmus test presented with a reasoned reply of any kind, including ‘I don’t know’.
Just as religious and political leaders must profess support for gay marriage or suffer sanctions equal to those imposed upon Iran (on a miniaturized scale), so the Jewish student is imposed upon. That torturous path is the new distraction from open speech about radical, militant Islamic violence and work-wide economic failures. No one wins that day.
I’ve been to colleges and universities. I’ve taught in colleges and universities. Public and private funds are being funneled into these naïve and destructive indulgences of students playing out adult roles for governance of nothing. They have no real authority to do more than divorce the student body from pursuit of the individual freedom to learn about the realities of life in today’s world.
Suggested Rules for Student Political Engagement:
All politically oriented groups should have privately funded offices away from campus property. Universities get public funding and tax exemptions so it’s on our ‘dime’ when students play at thwarting one another instead of studying.
All political rallies should be held off campus and require the usual permits for such gatherings.
Debates should be encouraged on campuses within the various disciplines of study. However, participants should have resumes documenting study in those areas through completed coursework to avoid immature displays of ignorance masquerading as authority. Genuine debate is real preparation for discussions held everywhere from parliamentary floors to boardrooms.
To summarize, our young and aspiring intelligentsia still need a framework for the preparation of their hearts and minds to deal with the cold reality of a world filled with the loss of opportunities available a few years ago. Jewish students learning about a standard of excellence in peace and in war, represented in the Star of David, are threatened into donning the uniform of the week and denouncing Israel. Participation in a baseless hatred of policies poorly analyzed and harmful to both Palestinians and Israelis is on the record. That record might later lead to blacklisting from jobs and block immigration to Israel as per the Law of Return to the Jewish homeland.
Bastions of higher education are the last places where action should be taken upon unfounded statements presented as facts. While we needn’t go as far as Europe in criminalizing lying, (e.g. Holocaust denial), neither should we pay teachers to tell outright lies or fund children to attend classes taught by those who lie on our school properties. Youth today should not be granted the right to turn American campuses into a student-run version of Tiananmen Square. The politics of peer coercion are like tanks and recriminations follow in those tracks, perhaps destined to last a lifetime.
July 14th, 2015
The late humorist Alan King published many a tale lamenting the problems of travelers parted from their possessions. The dearly departed luggage was often better travelled than the owner by the time a suitcase reappeared from orbiting the earth. In my own situation, my trusty hard case met with an accident that should rightfully be called manslaughter. I will never meet with my promised replacement because I, alas, am a tourist without a firm travel itinerary.
I’ve been lax in posting these past weeks while working on the edit of my novel, a saga posted some months ago. Leaving the hot summer sands of the Middle East before my body became an advertisement for intra-venous hydration, I grabbed an Easy Jet flight to London last week. Arriving in the cool midnight air of England, I was faced with the unfortunate discovery that my rolling hard case had met with a dreadful accident. The metal handles that rise from the luggage and allow it to be pulled along by Homo Erectus had been snapped on both sides in a challenging feat of mechanical derring-do. Fairly new, this was plainly not a case of metal fatigue but attempted murder.
Only five feet tall myself, I now stooped to conquer this new height discrepancy in order to move the 18 kg item along the floor on its two wheels by pushing against its sides. A luggage trolley that I’d tied to the case for just this type of incident, had also failed to arrive intact. That marvel of nineteenth century engineering now graces a British land-fill in some remote corner of the realm.
A tired, but understanding, arrivals clerk validated that the redesign of my luggage was just plain wrong. No plastic surgery had been requested. A replacement article was ordered to arrive within nine days.
“And where should this be delivered?”, he’d asked with a straight face.
That had also turned into a bit of a problem from an email that had arrived that morning. “My plans were altered by a mix-up in reservations at a B&B so I can’t say. I’d prefer to pick it up here at the airport.”
Wrong again. Some days later my return to sophisticated Gatwick airport revealed that this portal of international travel and shipping had no mechanism for a tourist to pick-up a promised replacement for damaged luggage. I shudder to think of how unaccompanied minors reach their parents when traveling home alone to London. Apparently no deliveries of property can be made but must be ‘dropped shipped’ to a home address instead. The offer to send the replacement to another continent where I had an address didn’t seem useful when my books were here in my considerably shortened suitcase. I don’t bother with clothes but only pack important items.
“Well what about a hotel then?”
“I can buy luggage for less than the charges of taking a place in London just to wait for a luggage delivery.”
It’s official – luggage cannot be delivered to Gatwick via Easy Jet Airlines customer disservice. Next time I’ll carry my case between my teeth like a toothpick.
Categories: Business, commentary, Life Observations
April 16th, 2015
My first visit to Israel was two years ago where I was thrilled to meet many other visitors from places I’d never been in Europe and Asia. Fortunately, good manners among the young have declined so I was able to hear their sincere views about Jews in general. The advantage was our ability to speak honestly about their misconceptions. Some Chinese business majors held the opinion that Jews had all the money; Russian youth professed the view that Jews owned the US Federal Reserve bank; still more wanted to know about ‘Jewish occupation’.
I generally laughed and began our talks by saying I must have misplaced my savings passbook (really, we were meeting in $25 per night hostels) and that the Federal Reserve ‘heads’ were appointed by the US government. It was most disturbing to hear college students who’d never taken a course in Jewish history talk about occupations. Students do not get credit for being admitted to institutions of higher learning but gain both credit and credibility from finishing classes in their areas of interest.
Had they taken classes in this subject matter, presently consuming a great deal of campus time, they would learn that Israel did not begin with the modern efforts of Ben Gurion in 1948. The Herut party formed in 1948 by Menachem Begin means ‘Freedom’ and happens to be a word engraved on coins (Herut Zion) minted in Jerusalem back in the days of the Roman Empire. Coins issued by the nation of Israel at that time were called shekels and prutah.
Among the signs of life for nations of the world is the ability to issue money. Jews have lived here throughout the ages and re-issued coins by the same names in 1948. Our identities remained unchanged. Knesset (parliament) minister Naftali Bennet spoke to this issue in this CNN interview.
There are few better learning opportunities than travel and Israel offers a wealth of history and heritage for view. However, you will pay for your stay using coins of the realm and those are of very old vintage indeed.
Categories: commentary, Life Observations
April 12th, 2015
Dear Mr. Maher,
Thank you, along with many other comedic pundits who have helped so many of us laugh in understanding over the years. Tonight, I’m writing to look into your opinions about humanism, as opposed to religion.
I truly enjoy your pokes at ‘dogmatism’ but also believe that to be a characteristic of humanists as well. The other week, you interviewed a reverend and questioned him repeatedly about how he can believe in an invisible deity whose scribes, (by inspiration, if not via dictation), approved of slavery and sacrificial offerings of meat.
My question to humanists (not to infer that religiously oriented people lack those attributes), is whether you believe in ‘freedom’. I ask this question because freedom is an invisible idea(l) that few have seen in their lifetimes, yet express the firm belief that it exists.
We are all bound to the dictates of human physiology, laws that – if broken – take away our abilities to breathe, eat, sleep, think and procreate, absent painful impediments. We are also bound to levels of expression and action congruent with those at the lower end of our community spectrums. Those at the higher end must then spend most of their time guarding their advantages from the remainder who view the remote concept of freedom as a privilege they can either transfer to themselves, or revoke for everybody. A humanist must address the fact that ‘humans’ commit atrocities daily and huge numbers profess to have no religion under various political regimes.
Apparently, humanists will have to prove ‘freedom’ is alive in the world today if you expect anybody to believe in that English word.
Palm Desert, CA. And