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Jun. 25 2009 — 2:56 pm | 5 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Spark notes for Sanford, et. al.

Note to philandering middle-aged male politicians everywhere: if you’re going to wander and thus subject us to your romantic email messages, at least take a writing course first.

This excerpt: 

<<I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding  yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light – but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner – and unlike you I would never do that!>>

leaves me feeling as if I were reading the scribblings of a frat boy.  If you were in my Comp class, I’d flunk you.  If you were sending this to me, I wouldn’t f**k you.

Take, instead, the master of missives, Cyrano de Bergerac.  On contemplating a kiss he gave his lover he wrote:

<< A kiss..but what is it?  A pledge properly sealed, a promise seasoned to taste, a vow stamped with the immediacy of a lip, a rosy circle drawn around the verb ‘to love.’ …infinity captured in the bee’s brief visit to a flower…an aftertaste of heaven, the pulse rising from the heart to utter its name on a lover’s lip: ‘Forever.’“>>

 It’s even better in French:

<<Un baiser, qu’est-ce qe?>>

But be careful because while “un baiser” means “a kiss”  the word “baiser” itself means…well, it means what you and Maria were doing in B.A.

Anyway, always check your translation and before you dip your stick into the inkwell-so to speak-please dip first into the classics.  It will make my reading much more interesting.

Jun. 24 2009 — 5:31 pm | 12 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald who treated her own breast cancer at South Pole, dies

BOSTON – Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer before a dramatic rescue from the South Pole, has died. She was the only doctor among 41 staff at the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in winter 1999 when she discovered a lump in her breast.  Rescue was out of the question. Because of the extreme weather conditions, the station is closed to the outside world for the winter. She had no choice but to treat the disease herself, with help from colleagues she trained to care for her and U.S.-based doctors she stayed in touch with via satellite e-mail.

She performed a biopsy on herself with the help of staff. A machinist helped her with her IV and test slides, and a welder helped with chemotherapy.  “More and more as I am here and see what life really is, I understand that it is not when or how you die but how and if you truly were ever alive,” she wrote in an e-mail to her parents in June, 1999 from the South Pole.

Doctor in dramatic South Pole rescue dies at 57 – Yahoo News.

Jun. 23 2009 — 11:18 am | 16 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Hillary Clinton: shadow or shadow maker?

Democratic presidential Senator Hillary Clinto...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, and what can be the use of him is more than I can see”, wrote RL Stevenson.  Some have implied the same about the Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton is said to be toiling dutifully in the shadow of Barack Obama..but no one understands more than Ms. Clinton how to emerge successfully from the shadows of very strong presidential personalities.

And as Stevenson’s poem admits, sometimes that shadow “shoots up taller than an Indian rubber ball”–overshadowing and even eclipsing the original.

Clinton toils in the shadows – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com.

Jun. 19 2009 — 12:41 pm | 3 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Gotta have some skin in the healthcare game

When I talk about healthcare, I have some skin in the game-and I mean more than the parts that hang out of the hospital gown during exams.

No I mean I’ve been paying my own healthcare for 19 years because I’m self-employed.  I might have become one of those 70 million uninsured but healthy 18 to 34 year olds but I rapidly had two children after starting my own business and with babies you just don’t get the uninsured option.

In almost two decades I have been through HMO’s, HSA’s, private plans, minimal plans and plans that cost close to $800 per month.  I can tell you, as a self-payer, that no matter where you start your plan, it will increase by 20% in six months and by 30% on the renewal date.  So to keep it reasonable, you have to keep moving.

Luckily, we’re all healthy. My two sons are athletes and I work out several times a week.  Unfortunately, being healthy has no impact on health insurance premiums.  I’m with Blue Cross now and despite the fact that I have very low body fat and am on or underweight for my age, I pay as much for my policy as a woman who is diabetic and 100 pounds overweight. I have called and complained many times but the health care system just isn’t set up to reward healthy people.

It’s not really set up for those without insurance, either.  I’ve been reading a lot about how low income people use the ER as their primary source of care, but I don’t see how.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the ER-both of my sons play football and rugby and I have two aging parents.  I am there so much I know some of the staff by name.  But about 18 months ago the mother of one of the other boys on the football  team called me about her son.  She is not from this country-though she is here legally.  He had had a concussion during practice a week earlier and had been okayed but he was now beginning to slur his words and his arm was losing strength.  She had called the large, urban teaching hospital where he’d been airlifted after the concussion-but they told her she couldn’t bring him in because she didn’t have insurance. 

I didn’t doubt this because I had sat in the ER two years earlier for a broken bone and watched a woman with a broken leg be turned away because she didn’t have insurance.  She couldn’t even drive home because it was her right leg.  She just sat in the wheelchair and cried.

The football mom called me on a Monday evening-I remember this because he had first exhibited these symptoms on a Friday at a school event.  I am familiar with stroke symptoms because my dad has had them and it sounded as if this 18 year old boy was having a stroke. I asked her to meet me at my local hospital.  Long story short, I bullshitted my way past admissions and got him into the ER and in front of a doctor.  He was in fact having a stroke, but he was treated and today he is fine.  But it still scares me to think that his mom had held off taking him in-and in fact had been refused admission at another hospital-because she had no insurance.

I believe health care is a fundamental right for all citizens.  We don’t need to deliver the $800/month plan for everyone, but we do need to guarantee ER access and annual or semi-annual preventive and well-care visits.  Like income tax, people should pay towards the plan, even in a graduated fashion.  And we need to incentivize good health-not penalize it.

The problem with the debate in D.C. this week is that most of the debaters have never lived without insurance.  I doubt most of them have ever spent any real time in an ER, watching people be turned away.  They need to spend a weekend there to fully understand what’s needed.

Then maybe they too will have some skin in the game.

Jun. 17 2009 — 5:17 pm | 32 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Czarina for a day

Tymoshenko in 2005.

Image via Wikipedia

The Obama administration is apparently big on czars  (somewhere between 18 and 21) but if they were looking for a real czarina they need look no further than Yulia Tymoshenko, the ballsy, blonde and braided Prime Minister of the Ukraine who last week announced her candidacy for President.


Born in the Ukraine in 1960, Yulia received her PhD in Economics and worked for several years as an engineer/economist.  In the late 80’s she laid the groundwork for her personal wealth by opening a video store rental chain.  In the 90’s Tymoshenko became General Director of one of the Ukrainian petrol companies and from 1995 to 1997 she was president of a natural gas company that was the largest importer of Russian natural gas into the Ukraine.  It was during this time that she made millions, some of it allegedly not quite legally. 


Yulia was first elected to the Ukrainian parliament in the mid-90’s and rose to become Deputy Prime Minister of Fuel and Energy.  She is rumored to have survived an assassination attempt in 2002 (there is no love lost between her and the Russian government).  Tymoshenko became Prime Minister in 2005 and then lost it less than 9 months later.  It took her two years to win it back, which she did in December of 2007.  She has gone toe to toe with Vladimir Putin, refuses to have Russian named the official second language in her country and is pushing for the Ukraine to enter the EU.  Forbes has twice named her one of the most powerful women in the world. 


Yulia is married and has one daughter who recently married the lead singer of a Russian heavy metal band. On top of all that, her signature look includes long blonde braids that call to mind Heidi or Red Ring Hood.


How can you not love this woman?


This week Yulia is visiting the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and if you’ve been there you’ll understand why it’s such a perfect backdrop for her.  Luxembourg ville as well as the country itself, looks like something out of a Perrault story and Prime Minister Tymoshenko looks like one of its central characters.


But her push to be president is only a fairytale in the U.S.


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    About Me

    My parents voted for McGovern in 1972.

    I applied to the CIA in 1984.

    I always split my ticket.

    I've written for the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, MIT Press and have syndicated columns to Reuters and the Chicago Sun Times.

    My interest in women in politics began when I read about Eleanor of Aquitaine who, in the 12th century, ruled both England and France--and launched a full scale war against her husband when she caught him cheating on her.

    IMO, no one has bested that record yet.

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    Contributor Since: December 2008