Category Archives: Observations

17th Installment – Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER. Special Prince Edition.

jukebox-11296573473NeNThe news that Prince passed away yesterday was shocking. I hadn’t heard anything about him for quite a while, so it was a shock that suddenly he was gone.

Prince’s music was the soundtrack of my 30’s… as was ALL 1980’s music, more or less.

I’m dedicating this “17th Edition of the Favorite.Lyrics.Ever.” to the lyrics of songs written or performed by Prince.

See all installments in this series.

As always, enjoy!

  • “Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb, // We could all die any day // But before I’ll let that happen, // I’ll dance my life away.”  1999. Released October 27, 1992. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Touch if you will my stomach // Feel how it trembles inside // You’ve got the butterflies all tied up” — When Doves Cry.  Released 1984.  (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Act your age, mama // Not your shoe size // Maybe we could do the twirl.”  Kiss. Released 1986.) (Video and lyrics.)
  • “But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right.” – Little Red Corvette.  Released 1982.  (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Are we gonna let de-elevator // Bring us down // Oh, no Let’s Go!” – Let’s Go Crazy. Released 1984. (Video and lyrics.)

And Prince also wrote songs for other artists.  Here’s one of my favorite lyrics from a song he wrote that was a hit by Sheila E.:

  • “Boys with small talk and small minds // Really don’t impress me in bed” // The Glamorous Life by Sheila E. (Video and lyrics.)

Although not one of my favorite lyrics, the following has been making the rounds on social media the past couple days:

  • “Dearly beloved // We are gathered here today // 2 get through this thing called life.”

Here’s to the performer formerly (truly) known as Prince.

 

16th Installment – Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

jukebox-11296573473NeNIt’s time for the 16th installment of my Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

See all installments in this series.

As always, enjoy!

  • “So baby straighten up, come on and fly right / It’s no catastrophe, yeah” –   Baby, Baby Don’t Cry by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. (Video and lyrics.) [NOTE:  I couldn’t find a video of Smokey & the gang performing this. If you Google it , you’ll find a video of what is actually The Four Tops performing something, but it’s NOT Baby Baby Don’t Cry.)
  • “Well you’re windy and wild / You got the blues / I’m your shoes and your stockings”   –  Bang a Gong (or is it Get It On?)by T-Rex. (Video and lyrics.) [Note: According to Wikipedia: “In the United States, the song was re-titled ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’ to avoid confusion with a song of the same name by the group Chase.”
  • “There’ll be good times again for me and you
    But we just can’t stay together, don’t you feel it too
    Still I’m glad for what we had, and how I once loved you” – It’s Too Late” by Carole King. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.” – Ramble On by Led Zeppelin. (Video and lyrics.)

Such Entertaining Cranks They Be

“America’s always been a great place to be crazy. It just used to be harder to make a living that way.”
Charles P. Pierce, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

I am NOT amused.  I am sad. I daresay I am afraid.

I’m not afraid of ISIS, not particularly anyway.  I’m not afraid of global warming (well, I am, but not in a gut-wrenching way…yet). I’m not afraid to drive my car, even though my odds of being in an accident each time I drive is about 1 in 16, according to this film by The Science Channel.

What I’m really afraid of are the cranks that abound in this country, and the fact that it’s quite possible that one of those cranks may — heaven help us! — someday be elected President of our great nation.

The main premises of the book “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free” are:

  • Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
  • Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
  • Anything can be true if someone says it loud enough.

These points are taken from this review of “Idiot America.”

The book also introduces the concept of “cranks” in America’s history; and I can recognize a lot of them on the GOP side of the aisle. But the crank that scares me the most is The Donald.  There is a fair chance (as of this writing) that he will win the nomination at the  Republican National Convention.  And, depending on who the Democrats send from their convention to run against him…?  Things appear to be up for grabs when a Commander in Chief is elected.

“Together, this new ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world – a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining.” — p. 77, Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”

I also can’t help but think of the entertainment value of all these cranks. They are water cooler fodder, just as the TV show Lost and the trial of O.J. Simpson were in their day. In the 60’s and 70’s, Americans used to watch the same news on TV; we all participated in the same reality.  Today, we get our news elsewhere (cable news channels, on the Internet, or other sources)n and so we  have individual realities now.  And it’s packaged as entertainment, or maybe info-tainment.

The election cycle in the U.S. is a protracted affair, with daily polls, occasional “debates” among the candidates, and coverage of candidates’ speeches.  (As an aside, does anyone remember when audiences were silent during debates? Moderators asked them to refrain from applause until after the proceedings concluded.  Those attending complied.  Not now.  Now it’s more like a pep rally than a debate.  And we all know that a pep rally is more entertaining than a debate, right?)

A book I read several years ago, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” (quoted above) by the brilliant Neil Postman, has really changed the way I look at our culture and the way we are presented with and consume information. The book, published in 1985, is a timeless work.  Read it and you’ll be changed forever (I know I was).  It will be impossible NOT to see nearly everything as having the quality of entertainment. 

Even the nightly news: let’s stand up, let’s hold our copy, let’s have more and more “fluff” pieces in that precious half-hour.  Why is that? Because people won’t stick around for straight news.  They want to be entertained. 

But, getting back to the cranks.  America is entertained by these cranks; can’t you see it?  And if America elects one of these cranks to the Presidency, well, as an original crank from way, way back once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

15th Installment – Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

jukebox-11296573473NeNIt’s time for the 15th installment of my Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

See all installments in this series.

As always, enjoy!

  • “Sail on silvergirl, / Sail on by. / Your time has come to shine. / All your dreams are on their way.” – Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkle. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “I made a fire and watching burn / Thought of your future / With one foot in the past now just how long will it last / No no no have you no ambition/ – Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Every child had a pretty good shot / To get at least as far as their old man got / But something happened on the way to that place / They threw an American flag in our face. ” — Allentown by Billy Joel. (Video and lyrics.”

 

 

Installment #14: Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

jukebox-11296573473NeNIt’s time for the 14th installment of my Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

See all installments in this series.

As always, enjoy!

  • “With every mistake we must surely be learning / Still my guitar gently weeps .” – While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles. (Lyrics and video.)
  • “Now they call you Prince Charming / Can’t speak a word when you’re full of ‘ludes / Say you’ll be all right come tomorrow / But tomorrow might not be here for you. (Yeah you!)” – That Smell by Lynyrd Skynrd. (Lyrics and Video.)
  • “But now it’s so much better (it’s so much better) / I’m funking out in every way.” — Play That Funky Music (White Boy) by Wild Cherry.  (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Sail on silver girl, / Sail on by. / Your time has come to shine. / All your dreams are on their way.”  — Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkle.  (Lyrics and video.)

What a Long, Strange Twip It’s Been

I know, I know. I’ve succumbed to the urge to add “Tw” to everything, in this case, it’s the word “trip, when related to Twitter.

I just rediscovered a site that has links to all sorts of Twitter tools, one of which is Twopcharts.  One of the reports Twopcharts provides is “My First Tweet.” Here is my first tweet, nearly 7 years ago.

1stTweet

 

 

It is, unfortunately, highly representative of the reasons many people hate Twitter.  Some feel that it is loaded overwhelmingly with “self-indulgent” tweets.

Like my first one.

Like anyone really cared about  my little jaunt to the CVS (or why I was picking up pictures).

I like to think that my tweets (closing in on 10,000 as if this writing) adhered more or less to the 60%/40% balance described in this article.  There’s no way I’m going back to measure it all; but I have a gut feeling that I’m close…and probably maybe closer to 80%/20%.

I wonder what my 2nd Tweet was.

You can reach me on Twitter @Kickstand447.

When Web Pages Die (Yes. They Die.) and How To Save Them

120px-404_SymbolI came across a great article today in the online journal First Monday. This journal is always the source of a good, albeit scholarly, read.  I’ve been reading it for many years.

One of the articles in the current edition, Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing Web site, by Francine Barone, David Zeitlyn, and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, caught my web-nerd eye.  It also sparked some memories of an Internet research project I managed way back in 1996-97; but more about that later.

Although it seems to be a universal truth that what you put on the web stays on the web, that’s probably a valid conclusion only for social media (Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk).  Studies have shown that links do die; and that there are many more than previously thought.  Sometimes even the data owners don’t know that their links are broken.

The First Monday article discusses the “Gone Dark Project” at Oxford University which addresses dead URL’s (Uniform Resource Locators) and the resulting “link rot.” The case studies discussed in the article can also “inform practical recommendations that might be considered in order to improve the preservation of online content.”

“We wanted to examine what has happened to Web sites, valuable archives and online resources that have disappeared, been shut down, or otherwise no longer exist publicly on the Internet.” (From the Introduction)

This article seems like the the polar opposite of the project I managed way back in 1996 and 1997.  Try to remember the Internet as it existed back then …

  • The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee
  • The first graphical browser, Mosaic, was released in 1993.
  • There was no Firefox. (Version 1.0 of Firefox was released in 2004.)
  • Google was barely on the radar at that time. (First funding for Google was in 1998.)

(For more information, see Hobbes’ Internet Timeline. This decidedly old-school web page has been a favorite of mine since the mid-1990’s after I met the author at a work function. It’s still my favorite.)

So you see, it was truly the Dark Ages.  The contractors doing the work were using Yahoo!, Hotwire, and other tools available at that time to locate and catalog Internet resources.  The pool of information at that time was likely at least an order of magnitude smaller than what is available now.  Sites (or documents) didn’t go dark then so much as they didn’t ever see the light of day.  It wasn’t that items weren’t private, per se; it was merely (usually) that a unique URL had not been assigned to it.

The two studies are

At the time of these studies, there was a dearth of information available about the information revealed by these studies. I was very proud that, because of that fact, my contractors’ studies were both accepted to peer-reviewed journals, both in print and online.

But,  17 years later, I’m learning that things have come full circle.  In 1996, we were looking to discover what was new. In 2014, the ” Gone Dark Project” was looking for what has disappeared.

Plus ça change……

The High Cost of Being Sick in America

rxThis is a cautionary tale. I just happen to have first-hand experience with it; but I know this is only one example.

A couple of weeks ago a blog I follow posted an article about the high cost of disease-modifying therapies (DMT’s) for multiple sclerosis (MS). It confirmed for me that the drugs offered to (some) MS patients are priced exorbitantly and are often too expensive for MS many patients to afford and cited a New York Times editorial on the subject. (Read the comments; they are wonderful. Leftist and wingnut comments are sprinkled in; but for the most part, the outcry against Big Pharma and Big Insurance predominates.)

But, back to my story.

I was diagnosed in 1990 with Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). For the first 3 years after diagnosis, there were no DMT’s available, only medications to manage any exacerbations (or “flare-ups”), of which I had a few. In the summer of 1993, the first DMT, Interferon-β-1b, or Betaseron™, was introduced. During production ramp-up, the company that produced it ran a lottery; when your number came up, you would get the drug. My number didn’t come up until early spring 1994. Then I began a years-long regimen of injections of the highest-cost drug I have ever taken.

Data point: My first months’ worth of Betaseron™ (15 doses), cost about $900. During the early years, the drug company had a plan that after 10 months, the next 2 months was free. I had health insurance through my employer, and the co-pay was very reasonable. (I think it was about $10.)

Fast forward to the “turn of the century.” In the early 2000’s, my insurance company started to use a “specialty pharmacy” to deliver my medication. Along about that time, I began to have visibility into the drug cost because the pharmacy included the cost of the drug in my “invoice.” I was astonished to discover that it was on the north side of $2,000. Per month! I was not surprised that my co-pay went from $10 to about $17, if I recall correctly. And, oh-by-the-way, the number of doses delivered went from 15 to 14.

Fast forward again to the 2010’s. The cost of the medicine slowly climbed, and was a little over $4,000 when the pharmacy stopped putting that information on the invoice. My co-pay also went up again, this time to $150. About 2 years ago I switched to an oral medication (Yay! No more injections!). My co-pay stayed the same. But, I don’t know how much the medication actually costs, because the pharmacy does not include that in the invoice.

A study of DMT’s for MS that was published in the journal “Neurology” indicates that the annual cost of the nine DMT’s on the market today is between $51,247 and $64,233! (By the way, the annual cost of Betaseron™ when it was introduced in 1993 was $11,532.)

The average annual cost of DMT’s at the time of their introduction has risen steadily.

  • The drugs introduced in the 1990’s (Betaseron™, 1993; Avonex™, 1996; Copaxone™, 1996) had an average annual cost of $9,516.
  • The drugs introduced in the 2000’s (Rebif™, 2002; Tysabri™, 2004; Etavia™, 2009) had an average annual cost of $24,646.
  • The drugs introduced in the 2010’s (Gilenya™, 2010; Aubagio™, 2012; Tecfidera™) had an average annual cost of $53,913.

The study in “Neurology” concludes:

“… the unbridled rise in the cost of MS drugs has resulted in large profit margins and the creation of an industry “too big to fail.” It is time for neurologists to begin a national conversation about unsustainable and suffocating drug costs for people with MS — otherwise we are failing our patients and society.”

I can’t help but agree. Some people with MS can’t afford their meds. I know some people for whom this is the case. Profit is good; but excessive profit is not, in my opinion. In all fairness, some drug companies offer prospective customers help with paying for their drug. This is a good thing; but is it also the recognition that the drug is priced too high?

Drug manufacturers bemoan the high cost of developing drugs and bringing them to market and say that the drugs are priced to recoup that cost. Well, at least for my first DMT – which was introduced in 1993, you may recall – they should have recouped their development costs in the intervening 23 years.

Both DMT’s (Betaseron™ and my current one) have been a godsend for me. Since beginning the therapy in 1994 I have not had an exacerbation. This speaks to the benefit of these types of drugs on my type of MS. I’m thankful that I have a health insurance plan that doesn’t cap my total drug costs. Yet.

This is just some food for thought regarding the price of MS therapies. The same price curve might apply for other drugs. Let me know.

Kent State: “Four Dead in Ohio”

kent_state_massacre(This post was orininally published in another blog I manage, SeeBee Sez.  I’m  repeating this quote today, the 45th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State. There have been shootings on campuses since then — too many of them, unfortunately.  The difference here is that representatives of the State — in this case, the State of Ohio, not other students or mentally unstable private citizens — fired on unarmed students.  This should be a cautionary tale for our nation. We should never forget the lessons of Kent State. The original SeeBee Sez post from 2011 follows. You can find more info about SeeBee Sez here.)

On this date in 1970, four Kent State University students were fired on and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen during an antiwar demonstration.  Twenty years after the event, a May 4th memorial was built at Kent State.  The words “Inquire. Learn. Reflect.” are inscribed at the threshold to the memorial.

Neil Young wrote the song “Ohio” after reading about the shootings.

For more about the events at Kent State, check here.

Installment #13: Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

jukebox-11296573473NeNIt’s time for the 13th installment of my Favorite. Song. Lyrics. EVER.

See all installments in this series.

As always, enjoy!

  • “Precious people always tell me / That’s a step / a step too far.” — Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? by Culture Club. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “Consider this, the hint of the century.” – Losing My Religion by R.E.M. (Video and lyrics.)
  • “As long as old men sit and talk about the weather, / as long as old women sit and talk about old men.” – Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis. (Video and lyrics.)