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Antonio

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  1. My daughter uses a wheelchair and her speech development is delayed because of a neurological defect that prevents some signals from passing accurately from the brain stem to her muscles. At school, she is in a regular classroom for the non-basic, or subject-based curriculum such as history, science, music, art and field trips. She goes to a special education classroom for core cirriculum, specifically reading and math (though she also does math in the regular classroom because she is at her grade level). Her reading development was also delayed because speech delays (including those that are solely of a physical rather than cognitive nature) delay language development, where that's not the case with numbers or other subjects. She has no problem interacting with other children and has only one friend who is disabled - another girl who uses a wheelchair. She plays tag and tether ball with the other kids, and thanks to her iBot she can be in an upright balance mode for either and she can even do relays and sports during PE. Her speech can be hard to understand, but my daughter knows it's incumbent upon her to slow down and be more understandable. And the kids tend to be patient enough to listen. What the other kids see is someone who is learning to enjoy life in spite of physical disabilities with the help of parents who obtain her innovations that extend her reach into places that, for instance, regular wheelchairs can't. She's so independent that she only needs help if something falls on the floor beyond where she could reach down or to use the lift that helps her use the bathroom. With regard to the kids with mental disabilities, yeah, even my daughter has problems with them when they act outside the mainstream (like the weird boy who always talks about guns but doesn't know what one is or how they work, and yet knows about shooting and pointing). Those kids spend most or even all of their day in the special ed class where they can get individual instruction. I've learned that the key with getting kids to understand disabilities is just to tell them the truth and confront it head on. What I see the problem is the altruistic notion of washing over the fact that these kids are different. Everyone is different. And I remind people there's nothing wrong with that, if nothing else because I sure as hell would rather be me than them. But that's hard to grasp in a collectivist or altruistic leaning society. When I tell kids the truth about my daughter's disability or even what's wrong with the kids who are retarded, autistic or have Down syndrome, and why they are that way, then it all makes sense and they are OK with it. Maybe that's why truth can set one free. But schools are good at lying to kids and that's the problem.
  2. Antonio

    A Fetus Is Human

    Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a "right to life." A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable … Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone's benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings. "A Last Survey," The Ayn Rand Letter, IV, 2, 3
  3. Case in point my own daughter. The internal sensor that triggers the brain to stop putting food in one's mouth because it's too full to chew does not work in my daughter, quite possibly one of the many signals between the brain and nerves that is interrupted - hence her inability to bear weight, delayed speech and other neurological disabilities. It is much easier for her now that she is used to it, but when she was little we literally had to watch how much she put in her mouth. Occasionally she still has to think consciously about it to prevent from overstuffing herself. But most of the time now she knows she has to watch how much she needs to bite and to wait a while between bites. No psych issues there for sure. She's happier and more positive than most kids we know - and she's the one who can't walk! The brain is complex, for sure. But frankly, this is one part of her disability that isn't on the short list of stuff we'd expect. I suspect that there are many people who have that or similar defects and that it contributes to weight gain. For folks like them, it can either be an obsession, or in my daughter's case, she just has to be careful.
  4. You're very welcome! I know it was long, but I guess I am pretty damn serious when people who don't know a damn thing about my daughter's life try to tell me what's good for her. If I weren't averse to initiating force upon someone, I'd probably smack this Sands_PhD person in the face and tell them to catch some reality. But you know, it's like that catch phrase "Whatever floats your boat." I'm all about choices. If people want to poo-poo genius, fine. Go ahead and live in misery. But just get out of my way!
  5. This is a response I put on the Wheelchair Revolution blog. I won't repost the whole original entry because it's long. But the gist of it is that someone lacking serious vision poo-poo'd the need for Dean Kamen's iBot technology. Mediocre people like that critic are part of the reason that so many insurance companies and the government programs such as Medi-Cal (our Medicaid in California) or California Children's Services, Medicare and even Tricare make poor excuses for refusing to pay for iBots. Many of these people who claim to want to help disabled children and adults have never walked a mile in their shoes or the shoes of their parents. So I don't expect them to understand. And nobody here should be surprised. Here is my reply to that blog entry: The comments by Sans_PhD and his claims are without merit because they are not backed up with any evidence to support them. I have found, even before embracing the iBot technology, that comments of those kinds come from people who are mediocre because they cannot get their minds around visionary ideas and innovation. In my experience these folks have been people who prefer the comfort they find in dependency or contentment linked to a victimization or inferiority mentality. Or they are people who are afraid of vision and innovation because they see it, either consciously or subconsciously as a threat to all or part of their way of life. Still others are people who believe that if an innovation or achievement can't be had by everyone, then it should not be had by anyone - one of the weakest arguments for collectivism. People like that don't like what geniuses such as Dean Kamen create because they lack the vision to understand what in economics is called "disruptive technology." If they can't stake a claim to the product of the mind of someone like Kamen, if they can't turn men like him into their slaves, then it should not exist. Here is the truth of our experience with the iBot: My daughter Sophia, age 8, is the youngest owner of an iBot. I have been told by the folks at Independence Technology that she is the first young child to have been tested for it, let alone pass the test drive, clinical evaluation and training with flying colors. She did her test drive soon after turning 7. It has changed my daughter's life in a way that no other innovation, medical treatment, piece of equipment or anything else has. It is as simple as the quiet dignity that she feels as a little girl who can stand, thanks to iBot's balance mode, to say the Pledge of Allegiance or to hear the national anthem. It was an astonishing sight because of its gentle simplicity, which masked the wonder of what ideas it took to conceive that three computers and six gyroscopes would catapult wheelchair technology into the 21st century. My daughter can dance. Granted, she could always dance, even in her manual wheelchair. But now she can <i>really</i> dance. She goes into balance mode, puts the speed to zero and then she can experience what those of us who can walk and stand on two legs only know. The iBot, like the Segway does, senses her body movements and moves with her. She can spin, she can turn and she can move forward just by leaning a little bit. It is liberating. And consider this: many of you who walk or who can stand would not understand what it means to be able to get off a Monorail at Disneyland on your own by rolling out flawlessly in four-wheel mode, with the attractions host looking in astonishment as he walks up with the ramp that Sophia would have had to depend on to get out. And the looks of some of the people in line showed a mix of bafflement and awe. Why? She did it <i>herself.</i> How about being to play on the grass like other kids? Or go to the landfill and to a local farm with her school peers on a field trip? My wife took her to a farm field trip in Sophia's manual chair and it was a disaster. The landfill - no problem thanks to the iBot! How about being able to play on the beach and see her sister surfing, instead of waiting by the pier or in the van? Do you, Sans_PhD, know what that means? Stairs? Well, for four years we had to pull Sophia in her manual chair up five steps to get into the old Victorian house that is now an office building where her speech therapist works. Before you whine about the Americans with Disabilities Act, it's a historic site that is exempt. Pulling her up in the manual chair wasn't easy. It scared her sometimes and it just was plain undignified and a little dangerous. With the iBot? No problem! There are no handrails, so with absolutely no physical effort on my or my wife's part, we use the rear assist bar and Sophia sails up the steps confidently in just seconds. This might also not seem like a big deal to some people, but as Sophia's friend had to sit and wait as the folks at their school tried to figure out what was jamming the lift to get them off the stage after an awards ceremony - and everyone was sitting their waiting and staring at them - Sophia could just make her way down the several steps and get down. Size and maneuverability? The iBot is taller than Sophia's manual chair because of the auto safety headrest and the placement of the computers, batteries and other equipment. But it's actually narrower. The iBot turns on a dime in four-wheel mode, so it's actually easier to get her into our minivan and turn her 90 degrees to have her face forward and tie down the wheelchair. The front-door threshold is no problem, and now it doesn't matter if we park in our driveway next to the grass, and we don't have to move our car so the van can park int he center of the driveway anymore. And inside the house? The iBot's movements are more precise than what she could do with her manual chair, and the tighter turning circle and narrower wheelbase has actually made it much, much easier for her to get around the house. And balance mode does wonders for her being able to get books off the shelf without having to ask us. Oh yeah, she can help us cook now, like kids in other families can do. A government official or legislator who would ban a Segway in a pedestrian environment is just another example of the truth of the inefficiency and lack of originality in government. Many of these politicians, bureaucrats and administrators don't have a creative bone in their body. What passes as vision in government is proof of why most people in the government are in government and not in the private economy, where people actually produce something. If you expect them to come to your rescue or you depend on them for your salvation, you'll die doing so. Like stairs, curbs or a trash can left in the middle of a sidewalk, they're just in the way. We prefer to just go around them. And we can with the iBot. If you want to wait for someone to move my allegorical trash can out of your way, we'll wave as we go past you and move forward. I have no problem leaving you behind because you're welcome to find the future with us. I don't expect everyone to understand all of this. And you can laugh at the tongue-in-cheek quote by the fictional author Jose Chung on the television show "Millenium:" "This is how it will all end. Not with floods, earthquakes, falling comets … or gigantic crabs roaming the Earth. No. Doomsday will start simply out of indifference." Yeah, it was a comedic line delivered by the late great Charles Nelson Reilly, but its true. We're changing the world. And some people just don't get it, or they just don't like it. I leave you with this: What Albert Einstein once said is very true - that "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
  6. Antonio

    Media

    In this story on rising gasoline prices, here is another example of an angle often missed by the mainstream media in economic and business stories: the fact of inflation and relative value of fiat money over time. Some of this is that the phrase I wrote above would make the head of many mainstream journalists explode. It's simple economics, and most journalists are smart enough to understand it. But too many are too lazy to bother. For one, sensationalism or emotional extremism sells more papers and brings higher ratings. So they think anyway. The result is sometimes inaccuracy or incomplete reports. In this instance, my paper picked up a New York Times story on gas prices because it was focused on a small coastal hamlet not far from our circulation area. I had the good fortune to edit this story to tailor it for our local audience, so I was able to add the context of price inflation in addition to the average gas price for our region - which is historically much higher than the rest of the nation. On the latter, I never understand why local news outlets, particularly here in California, almost never bother to look up what the regional average is for the markets they serve. It's very easy and it's an important context. In our case the average here is even higher than most of the rest of California. The original New York Times story didn't mention inflation or, obviously, any regional context. What's great about this though, above all, is that the Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com) picked up our version of the story. This is great because when Drudge picks up our links, they go through the roof with hundreds of thousands of readers visiting - and hopefully activating a little spark in the brain with the more useful context I was able to edit into this story for our readers' benefit. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/304197.html
  7. That might actually be very smart advice. If that lobbying group is worth its salt, it woud know the current conditions of California's legal climate quite well enough to know whether there is a strong liklihood that a case could backfire. It would not surprise me if that were the situation. The Legislature is controlled by big-government Democrats whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to get along with in order to get his priority proposals approved. Sure, Arnold can issue rhetoric as he has criticizing the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling, but that's where it would likely end regardles of what he says publicly. This is not a fight worthy of torpedoing other priorities for the sake of a relatively small constituency. My newspaper was given similar advice when we had sought to obtain the 911 call tapes and surveillance recordings from a restaurant where a murder-suicide had taken place a few years ago. The police department was going to give us what we asked for on the advice of the city attorney. But the corporate owner of the restaurant chain sued to block that, arguing under subjective emotional reasoning, and a lower court judge granted an order as such. We sought to appeal that to the 2nd District, citing that it was a public record as defined by the California Public Records Act. However, our attorney and that of the California Newspaper Publishers Association suggested against it. Citing some court cases and opinions released by the attorney general, they advised that it could backfire and actually result in a precedent-setting published opinion against our interests and that of every other media outlet in California. Given that most of the time we get what we want, we backed off in this case. The homeschoolers might be well to do the same.
  8. I think that must have been what I saw during one visit a few years back. I noticed that there were two prices on a box of Picot (an OTC antacid) and some Naprosyn I was buying before it was available off the shelf here. The pharmacist asked us if we had a "receta," which for me (my family is from Spain and Cuba) always meant prescription. I ran into this same scenario in Spain, where my cousin told me after I bought some meds on my own that it woud have been cheaper with a prescription. Presumably, that means either that a private or state-run health plan would then subsidize or control the price. In my own health plan, a medicine that I take ends up costing me less than the minimum copayment because the negotiated price between my Rx plan and the drug store chain is lower than the cash price. If I'd pay cash, this medicine would cost me about $16, where it's just over $10 for me, even though the health plan is paying zero.
  9. This happens to some extent with the Ebola virus. It has not spread into something that is killing us all because it kills so quickly. That is why you see sporadic mass dieoffs dotted around from place to place where, say, a whole village is killed off but then it suddenly stops and all the surrounding villages aren't affected. That's because the virus has killed off its hosts so quickly, it limits its ability to propogate.
  10. Probably because most people are too poor to buy them in most of the countries in question. I know from experience that in Spain and Mexico drugs are cheaper with a prescription than without. For some reason one gets a discount when a drug is dispensed with a prescription from a physician. This goes both for controlled substances that you have to ask the pharmacist for and off-the-shelf stuff like cold meds. It's some kind of price control afforded regardless of income. Why they'd charge someone buying without a doctor's note is puzzling. I'm not clear on the policy or economic purpose of that. Don't know if it's to discourage self-diagnosing or self-medicating. If that's the case, then a poor person (which is most of the population in places like Mexico) can't self medicate because they couldn't afford it. On the other hand, they could go to the doctor at no cost to them, and then get the meds at a huge discount.
  11. That would be the biggest difference - how decisions are made. Hopefully, that could lead incrementally to a freer market and reverse the incremental incursions toward a state-controlled or state-run system that liberals have made in recent decades. This is different from having government compete with McDonalds or other services because health care has become a service that a huge part of the public believes should be guaranteed to people. That doesn't mean that they are right, but that view is shared by a majority of those in control of government. This proposal would at least offer a choice for people who do not want to be a part of that. It is a way for us to coexist with the irrational majority by at least giving us an abiity to break away.
  12. Using refundable tax credits would compensate part of the general taxes that Mutt pays by offsetting the cost of private insurance. I submit that this could be done without modifying the tax laws significantly. For instance, I pay about $5,000 a year for mys hare of my family's health insurance premiums. That mone is pre-tax, so that reduces my tax liability by about $1,200. Elininate the deducatin and my taxes would go up by $1,200. But no, if I were refunded a tax credit fo the same $5,000, tha wold offset my premiums.
  13. The party sub-group is selling it as a workable solution. It's my own commentary that folks would see that the private system is better after the differences between the two come out. From what I have read on the Libertarian Reform Caucus web site, they are not doing this to pander their way into office. They're tired of losing elections and being stuck with labels like "Losertarians," which come mostly because the party is full of anarchists and people who rigidly refuse to work with people of other viewpoints or coexist in the real world. The caucus is running on the premise that if zero Libertarians get into office, then there would be zero Libertarian influences on public policymaking. Whereas if Libertarians could get elected, they could officer policy alternatives that could actually get some serious attention and then promote libertarian and free market ideas from within. The Republican Liberty Caucus functions this way within that party. They're basically Libertarians sans all the conspiracy theory, wishing to end the hold on the party that the blackhats have. It is an improvement if it promotes free-market ideas and actually gets some of them into action. Under the Libertarian Party's current practice, its members would rather be right than be elected. It's pointless to be right and complain if you're purposely putting yourself in a position where you're automatically shut out.
  14. This came in my e-mail, in which as a newspaper editor I am priviledged to receive my fair share of propaganda. Where I get a boatload of sick time as part of my company being competitive about its compensation, this bill would nullify the value that my employer is giving me by voluntarily providing sick pay - something that makes my pay better than someone who make the same salary, but doesn't get sick pay. --- PRESS ADVISORY February 26, 2008 Contact: Anastasia Ordonez, California Labor Federation, (510) 663-4028 Nick Hardeman, Office of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, (916) 319-2012 Ronald Coleman, ACORN, (916) 475-7156 Press Conference Tomorrow to Announce California Paid Sick Days Bill WHAT: The announcement of a landmark bill that could make California the first state in the nation to guarantee paid sick days for all workers. WHEN: February 27th, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. WHERE: San Francisco City Hall, Polk St. between McAllister and Grove in San Francisco WHO: Featured speakers will include Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D- San Francisco), sponsor of AB 2716, the paid sick days bill Kathleen Martinez, a single mother of three with two part-time food service jobs and no paid sick days. Several other workers will also share their personal stories about how they would benefit from this legislation Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, a co-sponsor of the bill Dr. Mitchell Katz, MD, director of health with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Martha Kuhl, RN, a registered nurse WHY: Six million Californians - 40 percent of all workers in the state - do not get any paid sick days through their employer. Going to work sick creates an unhealthy work place and puts co-workers and customers at risk, but many workers have no choice. Nearly 90 percent of employers report employees coming to work with contagious illnesses. This bill, AB 2716, would allow workers to earn paid sick days that can be used to care for themselves, a sick family member, or to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault. This legislation puts California at the forefront of a national trend, as several other states, including Maine, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington, DC are considering similar measures. For more information, visit www.paidsickdaysCA.org <http://www.paidsickdaysca.org/> . California Labor Federation • Office of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma • California ACORN • Labor Project for Working Families • Young Workers United • 9to5, National Association of Working Women- Los Angeles and Bay Area Chapters • California Nurses Association • Legal Aid Society- Employment Law Center • California Commission on the Status of Women • Parent Voices- California Child Care Resource & Referral Network • Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving ####
  15. The Libertarian Reform Caucus — a group that is trying to change the Libertarian Party platform and campaign strategy to actually win some elections rather than just "be right" — has an intriguing suggestion for providing universal health care. The caucus proposes a dual system. Everyone would be guaranteed coverage by a state-run single-payer system. And people would be taxed accordingly. However, if you like your individually purchased health insurance or your employer-sponsored plan, you would be free to keep that coverage, and would not be taxed to finance the state-run coverage. Essentially, they are saying "OK, you want state-run single-payer insurance, fine. Go for it. And you'll see it sucks. So then when you want out, you can get out." It is an interesting idea that would, if done right, give people the ultimate power of choice. "Need the safety net or want to be part of the collective? Go ahead, but leave me the hell alone!" It could allow a free market in health care and health insurance to exist so that the choice is there for those who want it, but also throw a bone out to the leftists. One way to fund this would be to maitain the existing structure tax system but give refundable tax credits for the money spent on health insurance premiums as an incentive to have people opt for the free-market system versus the state-run system. This could provide a way to shut up the statists while at the same time giving people who want freedom the freedom to choose (and hopefully prove how much better the private system is than the public one). Currently the only break we get on health insurance premiums is that they become a pre-tax deduction in our paychecks, reducing our taxable income the same way a deduction on the 1040 form would do. They are also deductible if you itemize deductions, which only becomes worthwhile if your deductions exceed the already high personal exemption, because you can only pick one or the other. This system could also work with other services that have popularly been under government control or traditionally run by the state, such as education. Allow any child to attend any publicly run school in any school district anywhere in the state. I have not checked, but I believe Minnesota does this based on what a colleague of mine who grew up there told me. Though she is a flaming liberal, she didn't understand why school choice is rare in California. Then on state taxes, give a refundable tax credit for private-school tuitiion. The difference between a refundable and a nonfredundable tax credit (for our readers who might not have such a system in their states or countries for income taxation), is that a nonrefundable tax credit could only reduce tax liability to zero. A refundable credit could result in a negative integer, essentially a negative income tax. By making it refundable, you could get a payment that makes up for the property taxes paid to support the local school system. This would work well in California in particular because all property taxes are collected by the 58 counties and almost all of it goes to the state government. The state also sets tax rates at a uniform 1 percent, allowing only 2 percent annual increases in assessed valuations under Proposition 13, the voter tax revolt passed in 1978. The state then pays each school district based on a guaranteed-funding formula in the Constitution that is designed to ensure equal funding for all students. However, some school districts are "basic aid," meaning they get only a small payment per pupil from Sacramento, and they actually get the local property taxes. This happens only when the sum total of the share of property taxes that, before Proposition 98's funding guarantees, is greater than the funding that would come from the state. Therefore, a refundable credit could offset that. Even renters would benefit because property taxes are passed through in rents. How about roads? Sure, most here are state, county or city run. But there are private toll roads and public/private joint ventures. If you buy one of those prepaid or debit account transponders, or you have a tally of your year's tolls, (you could do this the same way you would for the charity giving deduction) you'd get a tax credit to offset the fixed per-gallon gasoline taxes. With the tax credits, you get to exercise choice. It is almost like the mantra in the Libertarian Party platform (not sure if they took this one out, but I remember the wording was there for years) of "End taxes. Have user fees instead." Well, this way everyone's covered, but the statists could leave us alone, give us the power of choice and our tax money back too.
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