Has Technology Become A Basic Human Need?

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One will not often find an interaction with another where at some point during the contact there will be the now familiar ringing, buzzing, chiming or some melodic sound coming from a smartphone. Once tools, these devices have replaced “Best Friends” and “Group Friends”, as the children of today measure their “friend circle” by how many contacts they have on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Insta-gram. However in many instances, there is no human contact with many of these people now referred to as “Friends.” Studies are being done throughout the medical community in an attempt to identify if there is a correlation between the use of these tools and social and emotional development.

 

Children appear to be losing the ability to talk to one another verbally, as the screen and keyboard have replaced audible and in some instances written communication. Long gone are the days of summer “Pen Pals” or writing a thoughtful note to a relative or friend. These have been replaced by text messages and electronic mail.

Social disconnection becoming a social norm

Researchers at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., concluded that children born since 1990 have almost 80 percent fewer instances of social interaction in elementary school than previous generations (Hillman, 2014). 80%! While children are in school, they are developing both social and academic skills. If these studies are accurate, appropriate communication both verbally and non verbally will likely suffer in both the short and long term.

It appears as though these devices may also be depriving children of understanding the visual emotions of one another. A 2014 study at University of California Los Angeles selected two groups of 11 and 12 year olds. One group had zero screen time, including television for  five days and the other group were allowed to text and tweet normally. The results indicated that the children deprived of electronic screen time showed significantly better abilities to identify with emotions than those using their electronic devices (Kellogg, 2014).

Closer to Home – Local Campground Prohibits Electronics While Child Connects With One Another and Nature

One of the author’s children attends a summer camp each year for two weeks in Napoleon, MI where electronics are strictly prohibited. Based on this, he contacted the camp to discuss their electronic free requirement  . When asked the question, “what challenges does the camp face when it comes to running an electronic free facility?” Associate Executive Director of Storer Camps, Brian Frawley said, “we try to teach the campers that technology is not the main focus of camping.” He went on to say that presently there are numerous debates and studies being performed surrounding this topic. Much to his chagrin, he feels it won’t be long before camps are using electronics as a marketing tool offering free wi-fi to their campers. When asked,  “Tell me about the camp counselors of today, say the 18-20 year old new hire.” Frawley chuckled and said, “they absolutely lack social skills that the older camp counselors possess.”

In addition to Frawley, the author interviewed a Senior Camp Counselor, Brett Winslow, from this same facility who interacts with the guests every day. Winslow has been involved with the camp for 15 years, 11 as a camper and 4 as a counselor and similar to Frawley, has noted the differences in socialization of incoming summer campers. When asked, how do the children act being without their “best friends” (their smart phones)? Winslow laughed and said, “It is most evident in the first time campers. As a counselor, you can almost immediately identify them, as they have the most trouble connecting and interacting with their peers.” He went on to say, which the author found quite interesting, “But, it’s almost as though the experienced kids can see this isolative behavior as well.  Within a couple days, they reach out to those who are not interacting and, should they choose, involve them in group activities. It’s really neat to see the transition for both the new campers and the leadership of the experienced ones.” Does this provide a ray of hope that as consumed as this generation has become with these electronic gadgets, when removed, most can revert back to age old socialization behavior?

When is the right time?

This issue is not limited to school age children and above. Boston University has raised questions surrounding this topic of children as young as 1-3 (toddler age) and completed a study. One scientist asked, of parents using electronic devices to pacify children, “If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?”(Walters, 2015). Additionally, Timothy Cavell, a Psychologist at the University of Arkansas states, “Parents who use phones and iPads as a substitute for their own interactions (with their children) are compromising the development of the attention center of the brain” (Bowden, 2013). Long established techniques of raising children are being abandoned as the results of traditional discipline are not immediately apparent whereas the effects of the tablet or phone are immediate, but in most cases the desired behavior will not be sustained.

When is the right time to introduce electronics to children? As stated in Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, establishment of relationships happens very early on in life where children learn to solve problems associated with relationships. Children learn to give and take, which is more difficult from competitive peers as compared to tolerant adults. They learn the sex role society expects them to fulfill and the approved patterns of behavior. The development of moral values and ethics are closely associated with socialization. Finally, children learn right from wrong, the standard expectations of society and assume responsibility for their actions during these interactions. (In Hockenberry, Wong, & Whaley, 2005, p. 94)

Anatomically speaking

There are many parts of the brain associated with attention to include the Frontal Lobe and the Cerebellum. The Thalamus, a portion of the Limbic system, is located in the center of the brain and plays a critical role with attention span and pain. It likely plays an important role in learning by helping us to direct out attention and to place importance on the right stimulus, thereby being more likely to retain that information (Hillman, 2014).

Cognitive Developmental perspective

Recalling Piaget’s theory, he believed that intelligence was not a fixed trait. Moreover, he pioneered the theory that biological maturation and environmental interactions were the contributing factors toward cognitive development. Conversely, Lev Vygotsky socioculture theory was that important learning occurred from social interactions from a skilled tutor (McLeod, 2014). There are countless resources available at the user’s fingertips, but one has to wonder if these devices are able to be substituted for teachers/tutors?

Education or Entertainment – Risk vs Benefit

With access to the internet, there are countless resources available for education and learning. However, in the case of children, often times the device is used more as a source of entertainment, which can distract and take away from learning. Throughout history, humans have not had a need to be entertained at all times – are these devices taking away this generation’s ability to identify with boredom and more importantly, how to cope with it?

The Good, The Bad and The Mystery

That is not to say that technology and smart phones do not have countless benefits. From being a super computer at one’s fingertips to finding a long lost relative across the globe. Also, who could forget the instantaneous gratification they provide by keeping us all up to date on most anything we wish to inquire about? It is easy to see why these tools have become so addictive and integral in the lives of most. The question is, if the world were to lose its ability to produce enough energy to power these devices – what cost will it be to society when the generations raised on technology cannot Google how to build a fire, cook without a microwave, identify which direction is North or assemble a shelter to keep themselves safe? Which brings us back to the original question; Has technology become a basic human need? 

Sources:

Bowden, W. (2013, December 12). Smartphones bad for children’s social skills? Retrieved March 26, 2017, from http://razorbackreporter.uark.edu/2013/12/smartphones-bad-for-childrens-social-skills/

 

Hillman, K. (2014, November 17). A List of Brain Areas and What They Do | psychology24.org. Retrieved March 26, 2017, from

http://www.psychology24.org/a-list-of-brain-areas-and-what-they-do/

 

In Hockenberry, M. J., Wong, D. L., & Whaley, L. F. (2005). Developmental Influences on Child Health Promotion. In Wong’s essentials of pediatric nursing (7th ed., p. 94). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

 

Kellogg, B. (2014, August 27). Study: Smartphones stunting students’ social skills | EAGnews.org. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://eagnews.org/study-smartphones-stunting-students-social-skills/

 

McLeod, S. (2014). Vygotsky | Simply Psychology. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html

 

Walters, J. (2015, February 2). Tablets and smartphones may affect social and emotional development, scientists speculate | Technology | The Guardian. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/01/toddler-brains-research-smartphones-damage-social-development

 

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Turn a $1 Basket Into $100,000,000

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Abstract

Profit will always be a challenge in the healthcare continuum. Healthcare facilities operating expenses are always increasing, meaning cost control projects become more and more important.The control of healthcare expenses falls on each person within the enterprise to not only manage the facilities expenses at an individualized level, but to also strive toward better overall controls for the organization. In this paper, research was performed analyzing supply waste with a simplified solution to reclaim some of these unnecessary expenses.

 

 

 

Turn A $1 Basket Into $100,000,000

            In 2011 the Commonwealth Fund reported that approximately one quarter of hospital expenses $215 billion were steered toward administrative costs. US hospital administrative costs are appreciably higher than other nations including; Canada, Germany, Scotland and the Netherlands. Were the US to reduce their spending to that of Canada or the  Netherlands, the savings would be greater than $150 billion dollars (“Comparison of Hospital Administrative Costs in Eight Nations: U.S. Costs Exceed All Others by Far – The Commonwealth Fund,” n.d.)

Unnecessary waste within the healthcare industry is frequently studied at the macro level i.e. drug cost increases, marketing expenditures, administrative overhead and hospital employee wages. There are many micro expenses that are overlooked which when scrutinized closely, can add up to significant revenue loss worthy of attention.

In general terms, salaries are the largest expense within most enterprises. Often, when institutions are looking to increase profit, naturally the first category examined is payroll. Economic studies can be done finding short term gains that will calm apprehensive stake and shareholders. Elimination of jobs, benefits or services provided may deliver some short term gains.  Although, once implemented, it may be found these draconian methods can result in long term detriments to the service piece of an organization. In the case of a hospital, this would refer to patient care. .

Nurses require several items throughout the day to provide appropriate patient care. A number of these supplies being items that are billable to the patient. A few tools of the trade would include; syringes, alcohol swabs, IV lines, IV caps, tape, wound care items, band aids, IV flushes, just to name a few common items. As with any supply, there is a cost associated for all items involved in patient care.

After completing the first clinical day, when arriving home, one located four alcohol swabs within my scrub pocket. Observing staff nurses the following clinical shifts,, several nurses had collected numerous items on their persons,  which one would assume the unused items may have left with them as well. Having a quality improvement assignment due by the end of the semester, observing and attempting to quantify these losses may uncover a significant expense to the institution.

Collecting data the next few clinical days from 3 different nurses per shift, the following results was compiled:

Overall Cost Analysis (retail) of basic supplies removed from unit  

 

Retail Price/ea

 

Average Removed/ Shift

 

 

Total $ Per Shift

 

  Total $

Per Week

 (4 days)

 

 

Total $ Per Year

(49 Weeks)

IV Cap (1) $0.50 5 $2.50 $10.00 $490.00
Alcohol Swabs (2) $0.02 3 $0.06 $0.24 $11.76
BandAid (3) $0.06 3 $0.18 $0.72 $35.28
Ink Pen (4) $0.12 1 $0.12 $0.48 $23.52
IV Flush (5) $0.46 4 $0.84 $7.36 $360.64
Annual Results of one nurse working 4 days/wk for 49 weeks  

$4.70

 

$18.80

 

$921.20

 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are over 3.1 million registered nurses nationwide. It is estimated that approximately 60% of these nurses are employed within a hospital setting, equal to 1,860,000  (“American Association of Colleges of Nursing | Nursing Fact Sheet,” n.d). If we were to assume half of that number, 930,000 were involved with Medical Surgical floors and following the researched data identified, $921.20/yr of lost supplies; that would result in an overall impact of $856,716,000.00! Seems a bit unrealistic, so let’s break it down further. Let’s cut that number of nurses in half, 465,000 and presume the hospital gets a much better deal than the retail price listed, for convenience we will reduce it 50%. With those reductions, the net loss is still $214,179,000!

When asked why the nurses end up taking supplies home, the common theme was, because these items are kept in a location other than the patient’s room. In an effort to improve productivity,  did not want to make extra trips back and forth to the patient’s room. Sensible, but costly.

A simple solution to this would be to raise awareness to the staff members of just how costly this problem is across the healthcare continuum. Some suggestions which may mitigate this would be to place a basket near the time clock with a sign reminding employees to “Save Money – Empty your pockets”. These supplies could then be collected and catalogued back where they belong for appropriate use. Another suggestion, a bit more organized, was to place clear plastic bags on a turn style like device where each item could be dropped into the appropriate bag, thus making restocking much more efficient.

A more practical solution, and one being utilized by some hospitals, are the deployment of inner space carts located in each patient’s room. These locking cabinets start at around $600.00 and depending on features increase accordingly. A local hospital utilizes one found online which retails for just under $1000.00. Based on the staggering statistics, $856,716,000.00, that is equal to nearly 860,000 of these carts. These carts would improve other efficiencies within the facility as well; centralize daily supplies required by nurses and other staff members dedicated to patient care, assist with medication distribution as they are locked and aid in infection control, especially in the case of patients under precautions.

When executive decisions are made to cut expenses at the macro level within an organization, short term success may be achieved, but sustainability can be challenging. A simpler solution may be to involve all stakeholders, educating and informing at all levels about simple economics; each time a $0.02 alcohol swab is opened and applied to a patient’s skin, there has to be more than $0.02 in return to counter this expense to the institution.

Some elementary solutions were suggested with very little research to support what may be a significant cost issue within the healthcare field. Were one to delve deeper into some of the most basic processes and procedures currently occurring within the healthcare industry – in many cases one may find that a simple $1 basket can lead to the $100,000,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

American Association of Colleges of Nursing | Nursing Fact Sheet. (2011, April 12). Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-fact-sheet

A Comparison of Hospital Administrative Costs in Eight Nations: U.S. Costs Exceed All Others by Far – The Commonwealth Fund. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/in-the-literature/2014/sep/hospital-administrative-costs

Special Thanks to Brigitte Keyandry for her help with this project and preparation of a fantastic brochure we used to present the above materials

The Undisclosed Drug Problem in America

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One of the most common interventions in health care are prescription medications. Long term care facilities in particular provide as many as 10-15 medications to a patient to include vitamin and mineral supplements. An article from the National Institute of Health points out that the quality of prescribing has long been criticized about inappropriate prescribing along with overuse of medications not clinically indicated or no longer required (Hughes & Lapone 2011).

In addition to the drug categories which could elicit harm and carry many side and adverse effects, the large quantity of medications many elderly are given, could potentially lead to medication errors. Polypharmacy is the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat one or more conditions. A study done in 2004 indicated polypharmacy (greater than or equal to  9 medications) occurred with 40% of the clients within nursing homes (Dwyer, Han, Woodwell, & Rechtsteiner, 2010).

The following are reasons why older adults are especially impacted by polypharmacy:

  • Older individuals are at greater risk for adverse drug events (ADEs) due to metabolic changes and decreased drug clearance associated with aging; this risk is compounded by increasing the number of drugs used.
  • Polypharmacy increases the potential for drug-drug interactions and for prescription of potentially inappropriate medications.
  • Polypharmacy was an independent risk factor for hip fractures in older adults in one case-control study, although the number of drugs may have been an indicator of higher likelihood of exposure to specific types of drugs associated with falls (eg, central nervous system-active drugs).
  • Polypharmacy increases the possibility of “prescribing cascades”. A prescribing cascade develops when an ADE is misinterpreted as a new medical condition and additional drug therapy is then prescribed to treat this medical condition.
  • Use of multiple medications can lead to problems with medication adherence, compounded by visual or cognitive compromise in many older adults. (Rochon MD, 2016)

Renal function with the elderly should be closely evaluated when prescribing any medication. For those elders who appear to have stable kidney function, creatinine lab results can be inaccurate due to reduced muscle mass. To protect against potentially harmful effects of medications, a suggested best practice for prescribers may be to initiate drug therapy at significantly reduced doses and then increase/decrease based on response, side effects and drug levels.

What if we were to break the paradigm? What if when a “new” sign or symptom was present, the health care provider started by ruling out inappropriate medication administration prior to prescribing additional medication? What if when an elder came into a long term care facility, their medications were stopped? Once new baselines were established, re- introduce medication slowly and methodically as symptoms return.  We may accomplish a number of things to include; discontinuing unnecessary medications, reducing dosages (or several) which should prove much easier on the patients aging systems and possibly improving their quality of life. Finally, it may reduce or eliminate an undisclosed drug problem in America – inappropriate medication use by the elder population.

 

 

References

Dwyer, L. L., Han, B., Woodwell, D. A., & Rechtsteiner, E. A. (2010, February 8). Polypharmacy in nursing home residents in the United States: results of the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20226393

 

Hughes, C. M., & Lapane, K. L. (2011). Pharmacy interventions on prescribing in nursing homes: from evidence to practice. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4110814/

 

Rochon MD, P. A. (2016, October 11). Drug prescribing for older adults. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/drug-prescribing-for-older-adults

Malnutrition of the Elderly Within the Continuum of Care

The National Institute on aging reports that undernourishment can increase the likelihood of infections, poor wound healing, pressure sores, immune deficiency, anemia, and abnormally low blood pressure (hypo-tension). Dehydration can also lead to problems such as constipation, urinary tract infections, renal disease, pneumonia, hypo-tension, and delirium. In addition, lack of adequate nutrition and fluids can negatively impact the person’s mood, behavior, and physical functioning as dementia progresses (“National Institute on Aging | The Leader in Aging Research,” n.d.).

One specific observation made while working within a long term care facility is that many of the clients (especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s) do not consume much of their provided meal. One could identify a number of reasons as to why this may occur, but one in particular could be limited staff available to assist.

The American Dietetic Association has conducted research indicating up to 85% of residents in long term care facilities are undernourished. Another statistic from the ADA states as many as 60% of these patients may also be suffering from dehydration (“Individualized Nutrition Approaches for Adults in Health Care Communities,” n.d.). Just because they are elderly does not mean they do not require adequate amounts of macro and micro nutrients for basic survival.

Attending the lunch session, I asked my preceptor if I could sit and help two clients both exhibiting dysphasia and severely contractured limbs, rendering them helpless. Upon sitting down, one of the nurses said to me, “Good luck with those two.” I wasn’t sure what to make of her comment but assumed it to be that I may encounter some challenges attempting to provide care to these two women.

Both lunch plates were fully pureed mechanical diet with some chicken, peas, potatoes as well as thickened liquids and applesauce. Approximately 40 minutes later, and a lot patience, both had consumed 80-85% of their meal most of their liquids and all of their applesauce. The same nurse walked back by, stopped and said, “Wow! They must have been really hungry today.” Since the patient is unable to advocate for themselves, how would we know were we to not at least exhaust all efforts in attempting to provide them much needed nourishment?

Within this same facility, some patients have a tray brought to the room – often times left there while they lay in bed. An hour or so later, someone from the kitchen comes to collect trays, the client is still sleeping so the tray is picked up and the person obtains no nutrition. Cachexia is defined as weakening or wasting of the body due to severe chronic illness. Could this failure to assist these people in consumption of provided food be causing them to become cachexicin addition to any other illness they may be enduring?

Health care expenses are monitored at every level. The demands on nurses and aids have and may continue to increase. Adding more staff to assist with the feeding of patients during the lunch hour is probably not feasible. However, during that hour, many facilities have numerous “other” workers throughout; kitchen help, administrators, maintenance, etc who could be educated on assisting those incapable of feeding themselves. This could be a Quality Improvement initiative within an institution to bring various levels of the organization back to what matters, the patient better identified as, the customer

 

 

 

 

References

Individualized Nutrition Approaches for Adults in Health Care Communities. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/practice/position-and-practice-papers/position-papers/individualized-nutrition-approaches-for-older-adults

National Institute on Aging | The Leader in Aging Research. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/features/promoting-successful-eating-long-term-care-relationships-residents-are-key

Retired Reporter’s Archives Reflect Journalism of a Better Kind

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Did you know that until 1952, the police department in the town of Milan Mi (aka small town USA), was located within the home of a one man police force by the name of Tom Goodridge. Deputized in 1923 (as a volunteer until 1935) Goodridge followed in his father’s footsteps as the town law enforcement until 1965 when he retired.

How do I know this … I stumbled across an article written on Feb 28, 1979 by then local reporter Isabelle Schultz from then newspaper named “The Milan Leader.”

Meeting Isabelle Schultz almost two years ago, I have learned a great deal about this well rounded astute “young lady.” To say the least, Isabelle is a vibrant and spirited 87 year old woman with deep roots within the Milan, Mi community.

Written Art in it’s purest form?

The box containing the aforementioned article contained 40-50 additional articles spanning over the 30 year period Isabelle reported for local newspapers. As Isabelle was sharing these with me, she would light up and say, “oh! This is a fun one – I remember this one like it was yesterday!” Then, it occurred to me, why I felt compelled to share the moment. It was based on Isabelle’s obvious ownership of her written art.

Try to remember the last time you read a news article and could tell the writer was fully engaged in their work? Picked up a paper and read about a World War I veteran finally receiving his forgotten Purple Heart? The story of a local man building a pig farm from the ground up and how he did it? Stories about ordinary people doing ordinary things? The “box” was full of gems such as these and I could have read each one word for word.

Back to Marshal Goodridge

Not only was it astonishing to see the Marshal’s salary of $22.50/week. Goodridge’s wife answered police and fire calls and issued drivers licenses at the couple’s dining room table, for no compensation!! In fact, for a number of years Goodridge used his own vehicle until Ford Motor Company provided him one for police business (Tom still paid for the oil and gas commenting the V8 was 110 horsepower and got 7 miles to the gallon).

Another thing that stuck out was the portion of the article where Tom talked about taking “young troublemakers home to their parents.” Of course that was far worse than spending the night in the fire barn single jail cell, as one was going to be accountable for their actions immediately to their folks.

Officers of the Peace or Racist Killers?

Enamored by this box of history, reminded me of being in an episode of “Back to the Future.” It wasn’t long ago when local police knew you and your family by name. In that era, a teenager being taken home by an officer for making poor choices had long lasting consequences. Shaming your family name was harder to face then a booking officer at the local jail. Goodridge knew this and used it to his advantage.

Fast forward a few decades. Turn on the medium that has replaced the newspaper (TV, smart phone or a PC) and our local police are made to look like instruments of death. Why are the youth of America taught not to “judge a book by its cover”, but yet extremists sensationalize the uniform of 21st century police as overkill and militaristic? One would have to assume a police officer’s goal is the same as a non officers, at the end of their work day, they get to go home…Alive and Unharmed.

Reports indicate these public servants are iniquitous racists with little regard for diversity or human life within their own communities. Do these type people exist? Absolutely! However, one would have to think for the most part, they are the exception and not the norm. In today’s society, wouldn’t someone “whistle blow” in the event this lawless behavior was occurring unchecked as often as the media would have one believe. A caveat, the statistics being reported with reference to our nation’s local police – the crime results involve more people than just an officer of the peace.

Enough about law enforcement – what about good journalism?

Mrs. Schultz was a marvelous reporter. For no other reason than she wrote to her audience and told them an interesting story. Something that may impact them and even if it didn’t, the reader could and often times were able to relate to it.

She wrote about things important to her and her audience and always kept in mind facts are far superior to individual opinion (or falsehoods) when it comes to reporting. Can the journalists of today make the same proclamation?

There is an Isabelle in your town. He or she may not have a box of articles spanning decades of local history. But they may! One thing is for sure, if we as a society would be more grateful and considerate of our elders – they would in many cases be able to provide us with significant guidance toward a simpler and more relaxed future.

Does Money Still Talk?

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Sunday evening brought about the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, presented from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, CA. Glamour and glitz are an understatement for the event from the technical stage presentations to the remarkable performances from various artists. Once finishing a rather comical opening number, the host, Neil Patrick Harris launched the proceedings indicating the 8 films nominated for Best Picture; American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash. Continuing the narrative, Harris provided a staggering statistic – these 8 films grossed around $600 million in revenue with American Sniper being responsible for $300 million! In fact, American Sniper accumulated more revenue than the 7 other nominations, combined! In case you missed it, here is a link for you to view – 300 Million dollar question. And by the way, a bit of research indicates that since it’s premier in late December, American Sniper has actually grossed a total of $428 million! (Daily Caller – American Sniper) This must be one heck of a movie!

Nominated for Six Academy Awards

Now – to answer the question, “Does money still Talk?” One would have to presume with that kind of financial performance in less than 3 months out of the box office – it was sure to win a lion’s share of the six categories it had been nominated for, right? The six categories included; Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. But wait… where is the nomination for Best Director? Surely with the success of the movie, “now considered the most successful war film ever made,” Best Director must have been one of the six nominations, yes? Sadly, no – Clint Eastwood, the Director of American Sniper, was not nominated and in the words of many mainstream media outlets, “snubbed”. Which bodes the question, had James Cameron or Steven Spielberg been the director, would they have been nominated, and in most cases awarded this coveted prize? All is not lost, American Sniper, the far and away hands down crowd favorite – did in fact win an Oscar – best Sound Editing. This should not come as a surprise, as it appears over the past few decades, war movies have often been selected the victor of this award; Saving Private Ryan – 1998, Pearl Harbor – 2001, Letters from Iwo Jima – 2006, The Hurt Locker (conquering Avatar) – 2009 and most recently Zero Dark Thirty.

How one obtains an Oscar

The “Academy” is made up of approximately 6.000 undisclosed folks in the film industry. Once a year these folks have a list submitted to them and they vote for the category they are assigned, directors vote for directors, actors for actors, etc. to determine the nominees. Best picture is voted on by all members. The winners are then determined in a second round of voting where all members are allowed to vote in most categories. So, even though these 6,000 people appear to have had a different opinion than the viewers who have spent $428 million dollars on American Sniper, the end game is…wait for it … Revenue! Oscar could be considered dessert.

The Moment of Truth

Regardless the outcome for Mr. Eastwood and the crew of American Sniper, the moment of truth was not a gold statuette. It was not, the customary “thank you” to 34.6 million people watching in America (which reports have indicated was the poorest viewership since 2008 and third worse overall in history). Last night’s award was seeing Taya Kyle, widow of this American hero, Chris Kyle, being present for the ceremony, amidst the trial for her husband’s killer, with his dog tags in hand. When asked about her attendance, Mrs. Kyle said, “I am here to represent my husband, military families and the beautiful people who put more than they had to make this movie happen.”

Palestine to endure repercussions for joining International Crime Court – Why?

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Did you know, Israel and the US are opposed to and withholding taxes and aid from Palestine for joining the International Crime Court? In fact an unnamed official stated to Reuters last week regarding this matter, “It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review.” Review? Review what?  read more here … The Jerusalem Post.

For  additional information, take a look at the following link for a balanced breakdown of Palestine joining ICC. The author gives a good look at the pros and cons, as well as quiets some of “the noise” mainstream media has attempted to use to fuel this “non supported” move by the Palestinians. This bodes the question; what business is it of Israel and the United States to withhold consideration and oppose these wish of these people to become a part of the International Criminal Court?

Why does Palestine want to be a part of the ICC? Many theories presently exist. This link is the best graphic I could locate to visualize my theory – Shrinking Palestine 1948 – now. Imagine if that were the United States. Over the past 66 years, Palestine has essentially gone from nearly 15,000 sq/miles to 2,410 sq/miles. Reducing the United States to 560,000 sq/miles (slightly smaller than Alaska) from its approximate 3.5 million sq/mile is comparable to that which Palestine has endured for the past six decades. One has to wonder, how would we as Americans respond to such property reduction? Would America be another country in constant turmoil, as many are in the Middle East? Would other countries around the world be providing us with millions….. billions in annual considerations?

Lame Duck or Cooked Goose?

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Did you know, 29 of the elected officials voting “Yea” on this past weekends CRomnibus bill are either retiring or elected out of the office in the midterms? In other words, 29 people without any accountability just helped pass legislation appropriating (isn’t it ironic, appropriate is synonymous with the word “steal”) $1.1 Trillion dollars of additional debt piled onto the backs of America’s citizens and her already infinite debt load.

Some Definitions for clarity

Often times, words that come from media are new to many of us. Omnibus evolved to “CRomnibus Bill” last week in Washington. Being less than familiar with both terms, I decided to examine them closely. For those of you also unfamiliar,

Omnibus –

noun – a volume containing several novels or other items previously published separately

adjective – comprising several items

Omnibus Bill – 

An omnibus bill is a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means “for everything”. An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects.

CROmnibus – 

To get the “CR” in Cromnibus, one must know that the CR is an abbreviation for “Continuing Resolution.” Which defined by those in Washington is a type of appropriations legislation (there’s that word synonymous with steal again).

Oh, and one more just because Google’s definition was near sardonic, given the current state of affairs –

Lame Duck – 

1. an official (especially the president) in the final period of office, after the election of a successor 2. an ineffectual or unsuccessful person or thing

Now the $1.1 Trillion Dollar question

What is it all about? That was my question when this hit mainstream media a week or so ago. Amnesty? Government Shutdown? Change in Administration from primary’s in November? Without wading through 1600 pages and another hundred or so of other attachments, the clear answer is here – CRomnibus Bill Pay Off. Read this article in it’s entirety to learn more of the “Why’s”. And pay particularly close attention to the highest paid Republican. (Too keep you interested, I will let you discover it for yourself.)

Which leads me to another question – will any present elected official voting Yea or Nay, feel the pain of the squeeze these decisions must be placing on an already insufficient United States?  Many will be dead and gone long before anyone realizes this money they are “appropriating” isn’t worth the 1600 pages that this bill was printed on. So, needless to say, it is of my less than expert opinion that in order to close the budget deal prior to the 11/Dec/2014, our elected officials may have provided us a meal of lame duck and once again over cooked goose.

Political disconnects – Abridging the Freedom of Speech?

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Did you know on 04/Dec/2014, the House of Representatives agreed to House Resolution (abbreviated H. Res.) 758 which, “Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation under President Vladimir Putin which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.” View here – https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hres758

As one can clearly see reviewing this piece of legislation, the United States appears to be on the brink of war with Russia. So, while we revel at the lower fossil fuel prices, chatter around the water cooler about racial tensions in America and worry about where the money will come from to pay for holiday gifts, let alone the mortgage, the elected officials of our great nation have all but fired the first shot at an enemy that has been lurking behind the “red curtain” for decades.

This legislation went through 411/10 with 13 not voting. This is equal to 95% of the House of Representatives. Who says we can’t be “bi-partisan?” Now, since finding out about this, I have asked a few people, do you think we should go to war with Russia? Care to guess their response? Unanimously, “No”. How about you? Based on what you know today, does America need to start World War III?

After review, I was compelled to find out the 10 Representatives which exhibited the courage to vote against such propaganda and falsehoods. Being from Michigan, I have to say I am proud to say one of our Representatives, Justin Amash from Michigan’s 3rd District. was willing to stand up to the establishment and vote “Nay.” Selecting his name to me took me to the following site,  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/justin_amash/412438 where I found a link to “Amash’s Official Site” – http://amash.house.gov/. Similar to most websites, there was a Contact button and when selected, there was an option to “Email Me”, which I selected and ended up here – https://amash.house.gov/contact-me/email-me. What I found, is why I titled this post political disconnect – abridging freedom of speech. Here is a screenshot:

Step One – Zip Authentication

* marks required fields of data.

Your Zip CodeRegrettably, I am unable to reply to any e-mail from constituents outside of the district. Please enter your zip code to verify residency and go to the next step:
* Zip Code:

Of course, I went ahead and entered my Zip Code even though I live in District 12, only to receive the following message:

Zip Code Authentication Failed

The zip code entered indicates that you reside outside the 3rd Congressional District of Michigan. Due to the large volume of US mail, emails and faxes I receive, I am only able to accept messages from residents of the 3rd District.

If you are a resident of another district, I encourage you to use the Find Your Representative Service available at www.House.gov to learn how to contact your Representative in Congress.

Regrettably, I do not want to contact MY state representative. I did however want to email and thank a fellow Michigan resident and State Representative Justin Amash, urging him to continue the crusade to vote based on his constituents and not be swayed to change to the tune of “the establishment.” However, the USGOV site (paid for with American Tax dollars) has determined that only those within the Representatives zip code area may reach out to them electronically and those not within their District, well, I suspect one would have to find another way to communicate to them. Violation of Freedom of Speech? Probably not, but, in this lightening fast technological world we reside, I must admit, I cannot tell you the last time I sent a letter via US Mail to a relative, let alone a State Representative. Of course this raises another question; if I were to send a hand written addressed letter to Mr. Amash, or any other State Representative (other than my own), is there a filtering mechanism that if the zip code from the sending address on the envelope is outside of the Representatives area of responsibility, does the letter immediately “Return to Sender” or re route to a circular file?