Monday, January 30, 2012

No "Honor" in Honor Killings

A Canadian court just convicted a man, his wife and son of murder for the "Honor Killing" of their daughters and sister.

The girls' crime? Dressing in Western clothes, talking to boys, wanting to go to school. So they were drowned and put into a car that was dumped into a canal - to appear to be an accident. It was an act beyond sick.

It shows the danger of extreme conservatism and the intolerance it breeds --to the point that these people killed their own kids for doing the things that any normal American or Canadian or Asian or European teenager would do, like "tweeting."

The family immigrated from Afghanistan - where men feel they "own" their women. Until the U.S. entered the war in 2001 the Taliban had stopped girls from going to school.

The intolerant father brought his Afghan customs to Canada with them, including segregating men from women. He disrespected Canada's customs and law (which is similar to the U.S. and the rest of the world). Canadians don't kill their kids for wearing jeans and talking to boys and going to co-ed school! And the "horrors" that they Tweeted! How backwards can you get?

This should tell you what we are up against in Afghanistan, the country that America has been fighting in for nearly a decade. It is a conservative, primitive culture where each valley is a different group with their own weird, narrow beliefs - beliefs that iLinknclude killing a woman who isn't hidden under her clothes -- or talks to men who are not in the family without a male family member being present.

Just this week, separate news reports that a woman in Afghanistan was killed for delivering a girl baby - the father and his family ignorant that it was his sperm that controls whether it was a boy or a girl.

This problem is not limited to just one religion. I've seen this extremism in other groups as well. There was the Jewish rabbi in Florida who recently publicly called for the assassination of President Obama by Israel. There was a so-called "Christian" GOP official in Kansas who "prayed for the assassination of the President's so that his children would become fatherless." How sick is that?

In Israel, the ultra-orthodox Jews are demanding that women sit in the back of the bus and cover themselves. Some of these "religious" men shouted at and spit on a 8 year old girl who was simply trying to go to school. It is that same intolerance that leads to so-called "honor killings" by people who can't relate to anyone beyond their tiny, narrow group.

What kind of bizarre thinking is this?

There is no honor in killing your family for any reason. It's murder. It's beyond stupid. There is no honor in treating women as property. There is no honor in treating women as less than equal to men.

We have much to do to prevent this growing cancer of intolerance from infecting our world, and all religions.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Finally! A Flat Rate Doctor!!!

I discovered something new and cool in the medical field - a flat rate Doctor!

For years I have carried medical insurance, but as an individual the rates are high and the deductibles even higher. I have been getting popped with $100/month increases each year. When they wanted over $600/month for a $5,000 deductible policy I finally said "no way" and dropped it.

THEN, i had a medical issue I needed to have a professional check out. That's when I discovered close to me a "flat rate doctor" who doesn't take insurance. She is an internist and charges a flat monthly fee which depends on your age. For my age (62) the rate is $145 a month!

For $145 I actually got to see the doctor - and see her multiple times a month, if necessary, for the same flat rate. With insurance, I was paying almost $600/month and STILL had to pay for the doctor because I never used $5,000 worth of services in a year.

Now I actually get something (medical access) for a fraction of what i was paying.

Yeah, yeah, I know - if I have a "major" medical problem I am uninsured but so what. In three years I will be eligible for Medicare and in the last 30 years I haven't even been in a hospital.

I figured I'd rather have the treatment than the high cost of med insurance. If any of you are in the Clear Lake area and want a referral to my new "flat rate" doc, let me know. She is smart and even set it up so that blood work I needed was billed to her ($50) instead of me having to pay Quest diagnostics $325 for the same test!

Things change and times change. This new "flat rate" medical service could be a model for the future - she will even send emails to clients who have questions!

P.S. After her examination, I felt relieved (I was worried I had a potential blood clot but she found no evidence of it). When you have an issue, go to a PRO! Don't think you are the expert in a field you know nothing about (that will come as a shock to a lot of politicians!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Science Under Attack in America - The Ostrich Theory

What happens to a country that stops believing in science? Nothing good.

Does an ostrich putting its head in the sand really avoid the predator coming up behind it? Does putting our heads in the sand on an issue that will impact future life bode well for the survival of the human race?

The "hoax" crowd ignore the fact that the earth is now populated with 7 billion people and billions of emission sources. We are no longer a few cavemen with fires that existed when the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. Facts show that we are breaking a warming/cooling pattern that has existed for over 800,000 years. We are losing our polar ice caps that keep temperatures from turning us into a hothouse like the planet Venus.

Why is it only in America we have deniers - but not so among conservatives in other countries? Do they realize that if they are WRONG about our impact on climate that it will be their children and grandchildren who will pay the price in an overheated planet? A dead planet is the ultimate job-killer.

If the proponents of climate change prevail, we can minimize the damage by taking action now. If the skeptics of climate change prevail, then doing nothing until its too late will imperil life as we know it on this planet.

Which is worse?

See the article, and take action -- if not for yourself then for your children:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The End of the "Dr. No" Gatekeepers

Physicist/attorney Jerome Rubin said in 1989 that technology would make the printed book obsolete. He died a few days ago, at a time when people are buying over 1 million e-readers a month.

He was right. I have seen the change first hand.

In 1990, I had written a fiction book whose plot line would become real while I was in the process of trying to get published --a flash war in the Middle East involving Saddam Hussein and a terror attack on the U.S.

To get it printed I found out I first had to get an agent (preferably in New York) who dealt with fiction. Then the agent had to try to find a publisher to print it. The process would take a year I was told. In the end we found a publisher but they declined to print it.

Why? They reasoned that after the Gulf War of 1991 Saddam Hussein would be "out of power within a year" so the book by an unknown author would not be timely or worth the risk to print it. (Never mind that Saddam was around for another ten years, as it turned out). The costs of binding it, transporting it and trying to sell it were too high to justify. So I dropped it.

Fast forward to 2012, and a whole new world predicted by Mr. Rubin. I'm preparing to release a nonfiction book I've had in manuscript form for the past two decades. Since it doesn't involve ax murderers or a sex scandal I figured it would not attract a print publisher. However, this time I am releasing it as an e-book.

With an e-book, I discovered that I don't need an agent - or a printer. All I needed was a good editor to go through it, a cover designer to produce an attractive thumbnail, and someone to then put the book in "HTML" code: one for Kindle and another for the Nook and the Ipad. That's it! Cost? About $300.

When that is done (in the next day or two) all I will need is to go to the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites and upload the book. Viola! I have been published! No gatekeepers saying "no."

It is a revolutionary democratization of publishing unlike anything the world has seen. My e-book won't need to be trucked anywhere. Almost magically it can be distributed internationally in the blink of an eye to billions of potential readers via their computers, Nooks, Kindles, Ipads, Smartphones, etc.

My e-book will kill no trees. Nor will it take a year to be printed, hauled around to distributors and placed on bookshelves where it would be lost among hundreds of thousands of other books crying out for attention.

In the e-book world, the author can even set his/her own price! My e-book will generate a royalty which can be 70% of the sales price at Amazon, if the e-book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99, a fraction of the cost of a printed book. Even at $2.99 the royalty will yield the same author's fee as a $20 printed book.

People will hesitate to spend $20 on a book, but not $2.99, so it makes it easier for a new author to attract readers to become established. There is no risk of books getting dusty on the bookstore shelves. Amazon and Barnes & Noble will even pay electronically via PayPal, so the whole process is automated.

In the brave new world of e-books, all I have to do is what any author has to do with any book - marketing. And the Internet makes that easier than it was in 1990 as well -- not to mention social media like Facebook.

Mr. Rubin was a futurist who saw what has become real. Technology has made the printed newspaper and book obsolete. Most of us get our news off the Internet, not from fumbling through the morning newspaper. E-books and the Internet have made it possible for the little guy who isn't an established author to have a shot at publishing success.

Unlike 1990, there are no more "Dr. No" gatekeepers. If you have something to say, there are no more barriers to getting it published -- other than the author's commitment to put pen to paper, or more accurately, electrons into a word processor.

Better Times Ahead: April Fool? Surviving a Layoff on a Global Scale will be available -- any day now -- at the website:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to Keep Manufacturing Jobs in the U.S.

The Houston Chronicle published an opinion piece today by a writer proposing "solutions" to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Here is the link:

I was a Fortune 500 attorney who spent a decade negotiating overseas and setting up offshore companies. I can tell you that NONE of it was due to our U.S. tax structure or because our corporate taxes were "too high" - so that argument in his article is groundless.

We set up oversees operations for other reasons: either to get lower cost labor, to avoid import tariffs or access to a market like China. So the tax argument is bogus. While the gross corporate tax rate appears high, the NET U.S. taxes are the 2nd LOWEST in the world because we have so many deductions and special breaks, including the foreign tax credit. That's why General Electric, who made millions in profits, paid ZERO income taxes last year.

But yes, I agree with the article's author that we do need more skills training here. We just aren't doing it.

Here is the shocker: Despite the 8.5% unemployment rate, the U.S. currently has 3 million UNFILLED JOBS OPEN TODAY--enough to bring the unemployment rate down to 6%! These are high paying jobs of $70,000 a year or more. They remain unfilled because there aren't Americans with the skills for them. Ninety percent (90%) of the applicants who apply for these jobs fail to even qualify for training!

So companies either have to leave these high paying jobs unfilled or hire foreign workers who DO have the skills to come to the U.S. -- or ship them overseas where workers have the needed skills.

None of the Presidential candidates are talking about this fact, of course, since states are cutting education. And THAT loss of education and training, not taxes, is gutting our future competitiveness in a high-tech global economy.

You'll find more details about how the U.S. can compete and win in the global economy in my upcoming eBook, to be published later this month. Subscribe for updates.