Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Power Of Suggestion

Have you ever wondered about the power of suggestion and how it might impact your life??

I read somewhere once that "only crooks and grave robbers play on our unfounded insecurities and use those to manipulate and control us." I wonder if the power of suggestion is really that strong??

In the 1950's a professor of psychology did an experiment to test his theories with regard to "social pressure." and to see if such pressures could make a person say something that was obviously incorrect.:

Here is a synopsis of the test results that I found at the wikipedia site:

This experiment was conducted using 123 male participants. Each participant was put into a group with 5 to 7 "confederates" (People who knew the true aims of the experiment, but were introduced as participants to the naive "real" participant). The participants were shown a card with a line on it, followed by another card with 3 lines on it labeled a, b, and c. The participants were then asked to say which line matched the line on the first card in length. Each line question was called a "trial". The "real" participant answered last or penultimately. For the first two trials, the subject would feel at ease in the experiment, as he and the other "participants" gave the obvious, correct answer.
On the third trial, the confederates would start all giving the same wrong answer.
There were 18 trials in total and the confederates answered incorrectly for 12 of them, these 12 were known as the "critical trials". The aim was to see whether the real participant would change his answer and respond in the same way as the confederates, despite it being the wrong answer.
Solomon Asch thought that the majority of people would not conform to something obviously wrong, but the results showed that participants conformed to the majority on 37% of the critical trials. However, 25% of the participants did not conform on any trial. 75% conformed at least once, and 5% conformed every time.

Interesting that over one third of the people tested conformed with the obviously wrong answer. I guess they wanted to be part of the group. They felt comfortable in the first couple of tests and began to bond with those around them. Peer Pressure is what it is..

So what groups are you a part of? Maybe it is a Religious group? Political ? Are you Conservative? Liberal ? Maybe it's a combination of them all. Maybe religious people tend to find themselves locked into a conservative political group because they find that the liberal groups that are around tend to be at odds with their conservative religious views. After all, Liberals might as well call themselves Communists, right ??

Where do we form our opinions, beliefs? Do we come up with them ourselves or are they formed within our groups??

Maybe we share opinions that are popular and promoted by our favorite media outlets? Take Glen Beck for example. Here is a guy that has great popularity. If you are a fan of Glen Beck then it is likely that you are a conservative.

He describes his show as a "Fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" He has suggested that Obama's Health Care reform is a means by which he can effect reparations for slavery. If you are a fan of his then it is likely that you believe that. One because you like Glen Beck and two because you want to be part of the group that likes Glen Beck. Peer Pressure, just like in High School !! Cool (-:

His shows are filled with moral outrage and apocalyptic views of the future. Basically if you are part of his fan base, his group, then Glen Beck can scare the shit out of you. That is certainly not his primary purpose but it sure helps the ratings.

I am wondering these days where all the conservatives get programmed and I think I am on to something even bigger then Glenn Beck !!

Talk Radio !! Did you know that among Americans 12 and older, that 90 Percent of them listen to radio each week. That is more than the Television, Newspapers Magazines or even the Internet.

Through 1700 radio stations across the US, some 50 million Americans are listeners of the news/talk format every week. GUESS WHAT ??

Of the 257 News/Talk stations owned by the 5 top commercial station owners:
91 Percent of those stations are Conservative
9 Percent are Progressive or maybe prone to expounding on more Liberal Discussions of the daily news.

Which group are you in??

I got these stats from this report: The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. Read it if you dare!!

Of course if you like Glen Beck then you will likely dismiss me as a rabble rousing communist. That is, if you want to stay comfortable in your group of peers, even if they are wrong about so many things!!

Bottom line here is be your own group and step away from the traditional biased media and start trying to find the real problems in America. One of them is the News. Another is the Insurance Companies. Is Obama the enemy, I don't think so. The Savior, no. But he is someone trying to make a change? Unfortunately in this political climate that we live in. The money being thrown at Washington's legislators from the private sector will only dilute and muddy the change.

We need to make Health Insurance AFFORDABLE for everyone.

I didn't say FREE, I said Affordable.

Don't let the crooks, (The Insurance Companies) win.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crazy People At The Beach

Normally Long Beach in Rockport looks like this...

With a Hurricane offshore it's more like this..
Smart people are observing, morons are actually in it!!
It's all fun till somebody gets dragged out to see and dies.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lasagna Smack Down

On the banks of a local pond, at a house tucked away - on an island I never new existed -  in a town I spent a good part of my youth, was the first LASAGNA Smackdown I have ever been to.

I arrived at  the secret island location by crossing a bridge (Arrow top right ) And then found the home of Fred and Michelle's tree shrouded villa. (Arrow on left)

A cook off which put 6 variations of Lasagna up for tasting. 

While everyone at this gathering had good things to say about all the entries, for me there were 3 stand outs

There were 2 Mexican Variations of this Italian Classic, the Meat one , a bit spicier and the Chicken one, a bit milder  = BOTH delicious.

My favorite, prepared by the Hostess of this Food Fiesta, was the Cold Lasagna filled with vegetables and just seemed a perfect pasta dish for the hot summer night.

There was no official vote taken and all but one pie, which was good but found to have been purchased at an Italian Bakery and was entered into this contest under the guise of homemade,  could have been winners.  

A special note: the contestant that entered the illegal pie was later exonerated for his underhanded entry after he produced a bottle of Homemade Sambuca .=  Delicious!!

All in all I am looking forward to another food smackdown!

picture courtesy of Google Maps

Monday, August 17, 2009

ASk and you shall receive

The Bonster

My friend Bonnie, "The Bonster" Commented on my last post and one thing is certain, when it comes to this Health Care Reform that President Obama is trying to push, not everyone is on the same page.

Anyway, Bonnie asked me to post her comment on my main page. I'm's here....I always take a dare.

Thing is, I read the comments somewhere else already but I'll get to that later.

Bonnie wrote:
ok tom, there is no big conspiracy here these are lifted word for word out of the proposed healthcare bill that you think is sooo good for us our country etc.

Bonnie says:
page 30 sec 123: there will be government committee that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Tom's response:

Section 123 establishes a Health Benefits Advisory Committee that makes recommendations on what types of health insurance coverage will be defined as basic, enhanced or premium. The committee will be chaired by the surgeon general, with members appointed by the president, the comptroller general, and representatives of federal agencies. This committee makes recommendations on insurance regulations, so in that sense it does set standards for benefits. But it does not make decisions about treatments for individuals.

Currently an Private Insurance Company, with profits in mind, makes coverage decisions for you Bonnie

Bonnie Reports:

page 42: the heath choices commissioner will choose your health care benefits for you (No choice)

Tom Responds:
Section 142 outlines the duties of the Health Choices commissioner, who is charged with regulating insurers. The commissioner should seek insurers to offer different types of insurance, including basic, enhanced and premium. Individuals will be able to choose among competing insurers who are regulated via the exchange.

Bonnie tells me :
page 50 sec 152 Health care
will be proved to non -US citizens,illegal or otherwise.

Tom Responds:
Section 152 includes a generic nondiscrimination clause, which says insurers may not discriminate with regard to "personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services." It says nothing about "non-US citizens" or immigrants, legal or otherwise. In fact, the legislation specifically states that undocumented aliens will not be eligible for credits to help them buy health insurance, in Section 246 on page 143.

Bonnie Writes:
page59 lines 21-24 Goverment will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer

Tom Responds: First with a question, are you talking about the Patriot Act now, cause Bush pushed that one through and can already look at all you banking activitiess?? But with regard to the Health Care Bill:

Section 163 sets out goals for electronic health records. One of the goals is to include features that "enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation" between payment and billing. The legislative summary says the intent in the section is "to adopt standards for typical transactions" between insurance companies and health care providers. The legislation generically describes typical electronic banking transactions and does not outline any special access privileges.

Bonnie states:
page 85 line 7 Specifications of benefit levels for plans=the government will ration your health care! page 127
lines 1-16 the government will tell you what salary you can earn.

Tom says: Ration is one of those scary words people are using to frighten people..It isn't used anywhere in the bill, the benefit levels are set in three categories and if you want to pay additional amounts for those enhanced plans you are welcome to, the bill basically says the following......
Section 203 sets rules saying that plans must offer basic plans before they can offer plans with extra benefits. These extra benefits are defined as enhanced plans and premium plans. (The unstated assumption here is that enhanced and premium plans will be more profitable for the insurance companies.) But this isn't the page number that requires health plans to participate in the exchange. Technically speaking, private insurance plans are not required to participate. Rather, only insurance sold on the exchange will satisfy the mandate that people have health insurance. In effect, private health plans that want to sell to individuals will have to sell through the exchange, under the terms of the bill. The current subsidized health care benefits available in Massachusetts are based on the Salary of those applying, certainly if you are applying and exceed those Salary Levels you would not be approved for any subsidy.

Bonnie says:

page 145 line15-17 ; an employer must auto enroll employees into the public option plan. there will be no choice.

Tom replies:
It says that individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid only if they have "not elected to enroll in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan." So the auto-enrollment only happens if they have not chosen another plan.

Bonnie Says:
page 167 lines 18-23; any individual who doesn't have acceptable health care according to the government will be taxed 2.5 percent of income. page 170 lines 1-3; any non-resident alien is exempt from individual taxes. ( AMERICANS WILL PAY ) page 195: Officers/ Employees of the government will have access to ALL Americans finances/ personal records.

Tom Replies as best he can to all those things one at a time:

Section 225:discusses payments for physicians who choose to accept the public option insurance. Again, there may be a broader case to be made that the government can compete with private insurers through the public option, but this section of the plan only applies to payments to doctors for patients who are part of the public option. The government does not set wages for doctors because doctors are free to decline to see the patients.

The 2.5% tax, xouldn't find that number anywhere; however if one does elect a Private Insurer that hasn't met the Standard approved by the government. But again, Private insurance, more than likely the plan you already pay for, will be available through the Health Exchange and should not be TAXABLE!.. Tax is another one of those Scary words!!

Going back ( AMERICANS WILL PAY ) the legislation specifically states that undocumented aliens will not be eligible for credits to help them buy health insurance, in Section 246 on page 143.

Bonnie Says:

page 241 lines 6-8 Doctors , no matter what specialty they have will be paid the same.

Tom Replies...Other than what I said earlier about Physician Payments I couldn't find anything...I hope this means we can pay Dentists less..They are Highway Robbers !!

Bonnie Says:
page 253 line 10-18 Government sets values of doctors time, profession, judgement, etc. Literally the value of humans.

Tom Replies:
Well this sounds like a contradiction to what you said earlier about Physician payments...Doctors time, PROFESSION, and Judgement should be considered.. Especially BAD Judgement but in any case there should be standards for those things.

Well, this is not my typical post but I value my readers and felt that when one of my favorite people asked me to post her comments on my fron page...Well I had to do it!

Thanks for adding to the discussion Bonnie. Certainly there are so many views about this legislation. My feeling is that even though I believe that it is time for health care reform, the major insurers that I mentioned in my earlier post will infiltrate congress and shape the bill more to their liking by buying off our elected officials with campaign promises and what not. The other big impedement to change is fear. So many Americans that are already insured and have voted for or against Obama are scared that the coverage they have now will be taken away from them. I

They have been made scared by Viral emails and Media outlets with agendas of their own. I think the big winners in all this will be the Health Insurers and that is really too bad.

Another huge cost associated with health care is the TORT Reform, eliminating frivolous lawsuits that force doctors to pay outrageous Insurance premiums in order to be able to do their jobs. Again, Insurance Companies don't want the government to address TORT reform while working out the Health Care reform.

Why not? Certainly lowering the costs Doctors pay for insurance would lower the cost of delivering care!!

One last note. My mother, and she's gonna hate being used as an example as she thinks just like you. BUT, My mom just had Brain Surgery recently and a couple days ago she made a Blueberry Pie, She's walkin and Talkin and Baking and guess what ???

Both of her insurance plans are, that's right, from the Government !! So I guess they can do it...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some Facts

The top 5 Insurance Companies made some serious money in 2008

Company Profits: CEO Total Compensation:
UnitedHealth Group $2,977,000,000 $5,030,000
WellPoint $2,490,700,000 $4,070,000
Atena $1,384,100,000 $38,860,000
Humana $647,000,000 $2,390,000
Cigna $292,000,000 $30,016,000

In 2009 they are waging a battle in Washington to keep those profits coming and believe me it's war.. January through March of this year the health insurance industry and their lobbyists spent 1.4 MILLION DOLLARS A DAY to fight or rather structure health care reform so that they won't lose a penny in profits.

The cover of the Aug 17, 2009 edition of Business Week Magazine - "Health Reform - Why Insurers Are Winning"

These guys don't want to see there Billion Dollar profit margins go away and they will do everything they can from greasing the palms of fiscally conservative Democrats like Congressman Jim Matheson, leader of the Blue Dog Coalition,
to scaring the general public with expensive commercials insinuating that the government will somehow deny care to the sick

(Nearly 54 percent of the Blue Dog PAC’s haul this year comes from the energy, financial services and health care industries, up from 45 percent in 2004: according to analysis of CQ MoneyLine data by the Center for Public Integrity:

And yet those same insurance companies pay doctors in their own employ bonuses for DENYING care to their own customers.

What totally mystifies me is that there are so many people out there don't realize that the President of the United States is fighting to make changes in this broken system of health care, they just see him as the enemy!!

Guess what!! 5 percent of the U.S. Economy is spent on health care and what does all that money get you?? The worst results of any Western Civilized Nation.

Here are some links to those better informed than myself...

American Lives vs Insurance Company Profits

CEOs Reap Benefits While Insurance Companies Systematically Deny Care to Ill Policy Holders

Insurance Company Rules

Daily Dose

The Work Room

Don't believe that because you currently pay for private insurance that you will be covered for more about those people in the same position as you that are paying the far higher price of watching a loved one suffer because their insurance company has denied them for the care they require.

The Insurance companies are spending over 1 million dollars a day to keep things the same, to slow reform or to make it more profitable for them than it is already. It's hard to compete with that.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Sun Going Down

August 8th, 2009

Sunset over Essex , Ma from parking lot of Woodman's Restaurant &Clam Bake

Same night, great sky, looking from Bridge St. Bridge crossing over to Salem, Ma from Beverly.

I did not re-size these pictures so they can get pretty large and could be used as Desktop Backgrounds or whatever you might want to do with em..

They are free for the taking (-:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Calories are Making a comeback this week.

Just a little over a week ago....

1. I was of jumping up on the Elliptical Machine and burning off 800+ calories in a sweaty 45 minute workout.
2. Taking multi vitamins and having a low sodium vegetable juice followed by a bowl of plain shredded wheat and low fat milk.
3. Making sandwich wraps for lunch at work filled with lettuce, onions and a scant slice of 99% Fat Free Turkey
4. I was losing weight and against all odds quitting the cigarette habit all at the same time !!


While I have slipped with the cigarettes a couple times, I have gone nearly a week again without those awful things but the calories have made a comeback and the Elliptical may need to be dusted off.

I found that calories come in a lot of exciting shapes and sizes !
  • Chocolate Ice Cream topped with toasted coconut and walnuts !
  • Grey Goose Dirty Martinis with a side of sliders served at an Oceanside bistro
  • Key Lime Pie
  • 5 Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Sam Adams Summer Beer served in 22oz frosty glass
  • Pot Roast with mashed potatoes and GRAVY
  • Egg sandwiches grilled on Scali Bread with CHEESE
  • 3 Egg Omeletes with everything and a side of BACON

So I figure that what I need to do is fight one demon at a time !! While I did feel guilty, more like a guilty pleasure really, after eating a 5 Guys Hamburger and Fries which I followed up by eating a Bacon Cheese HOT DOG too. Yes food is a DEMON, the smell the taste but cigarettes are worse because they really don't have any added benefits...So...

I walked home about 3 miles yesterday after work hoping to reduce some of those calories as I knew I was headed to a family dinner of Pot Roast, mashed potatoes and GRAVY!!

I am going to stay away from cigarettes and slowly work on the diet..One thing at a time!!

Martinis are sooooo GOOD!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Wedding Made the Fox 25 News

John's due back for surgery and we all wish him the best of luck in his recovery.