Archive for Health care

What’s WRONG With This Picture?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 10, 2012 by spinoza1111

In the United States, PET scans start typically at 2000 USD. My Hong Kong PET scan cost 1538 USD. The philosophy is that the efforts of the developers of PET scanners should be rewarded.

But this is absurd: I participated in the early development of the mobile phone, and yet do not feel entitled to, nor do I get, any of the massive financial rewards going to investors in mobile phone companies. Instead I worked for a fair wage which more than covered my expenses as a father of two and paid my health insurance premiums.

In 1979, nobody could have forecast the difference the mobile phone would make worldwide although the guy who recruited me onto the team did have an inkling based on the popularity of grassroots communication using “citizen’s band radio” in the late 1970s.

But who’s getting rewarded when a patient, especially one who let’s say ISN’T a smart little shrewd little cookie who’s shopped around as in the capitalist playbook, and who IS someone terrified out of her wits by the prospect of breast cancer, and she shells out 4000.00 USD? That is, what’s in her savings account? Only to have to pay for a CT scan a week later when she starts having pain in a new place?

I’m not, nor would I want such blood money had I worked also on PET scanner software. The very idea is obscene! Who can sleep of nights knowing that his money comes from ignorant or terrified people with fatal diseases?

I just wanted to work on the intellectual challenge of mobile tech and CT scan tech as well as opposed to payroll applications. What is this world in which the gentle nerds are forced to the wall, and everybody is always snatching at everyone’s else’s wallet?

In the early 1970s, businessmen merely patronized my enthusiasm, my desire to work in any computer language except Cobol, because they needed me. But in the late 1970s I met new men (and women, typically aggressive women who subscribed to the more sadistic feminisms) who were marked by a stunning contempt for intellectual curiosity, mathematical elegance, or indeed anything but golf dates with CEOs and cost-plus contracts. These wicked people by the year 2000 made it a terminating offense at at least one pharma company in Cary, NC, for PhD researchers to “talk unnecessarily” at work…and I am not making this up.

Basically as a nerd, when I produced novel forms of value (as when I discovered a non-working Fortran compiler and made it work, thereby enabling the teaching of this still-important language and its use for statistical applications), I want them to be available to all, since my model of capitalism is one in which “inequality would benefit the least well off” by converging (1) to equality and (2) a higher minimum than before.

This was the inequality of the 1950s. My father’s income and status was linked to the fact that if a family was unable to pay him for a surgical procedure, he might very well accept in-kind payment (once we all stayed in a farmhouse lent by the patient) or reduce the bill. His income larger that many of his patients (we rode Pullman sleeping cars and my Dad bought hardbound books) but nothing like what’s seen today where the patient in the USA emergency room might as well be a lower life form as compared with the medical staff, who may as well be visitors from another planet.


Et in Arcadia Ego: workout log 7 July 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 7, 2012 by spinoza1111

Nicholas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego (I, too, was [is] in Arcadia), 1637/8, Louvre

I think the Poussin scholar (and traitor, sad to say) Anthony Blunt was the one who noted that the name of the painting is ambiguous. It could mean either, I too was also in Arcadia, or I too (death?) is also here, in Arcadia. Literally I think it means “and in Arcadia I”.

Is Poussin mourning a former inhabitant of the land of Arcadia, the Isle of the Blessed, or, is he saying that Death is also in Arcadia? Actually, wikipedia’s article does a fairly good job on the meaning of the theme which indeed probably is that even in the sheltered, aristocratic and Arcadian world, death is a reality.

Be that as it may, another terrific morning, with the humidity lessened by a cleansing shower and breeze as I walked to Hung Shing Yeh Beach for a 30 minute water dance and swim. The elephant ears and banana trees were gleaming wet and dripping and all was most glorious indeed.

Nuts! “It was all…shining, it was Adam and Maiden…the spellbound horses walking warm…out of the whinnying green stable…on to the fields of praise” (Dylan Thomas).

Water a little dirty since this is what happens when it rains here but in this down-market Beggar’s Arcady, one can’t be too fussy.

Somewhat of a dirty night, sleeplessness, no pain. Quit Stilnox, had, as expected, rebound insomnia. Dealt with it using cognitive therapy:

1. When you are lying still you only think you’re not getting sleep usually are getting some

2. You often enter a state that was common before electric light one of watchful wakefulness, where people in “a world lit only by fire” would rise around midnight to talk and pray quietly until about one AM. This state is very useful for serenity and well-being in my experience because I’ve experienced it in Yosemite, and Minnesota, in the wilderness where there’s no electric light.

3. Don’t count sheep.

4. A window is best for looking out at the night. Most films (including, for me, last night, that Franco-American modern silent, The Artist) are either so good they’ll keep you up or so bad you’ll throw up.

5. Eventually, everyone except perhaps Funes the Memorious, a character in a Borges short story who remembers everything and cannot sleep owing to that fact, falls asleep. Insomnia, like many other diseases, is a self reflexive thing: the rash cannot dry and yet will not be healed by moisture, in insomnia we have to think about insomnia. We never feel ourselves let go, in general, although the physicist Richard Feynman did claim to know the moment of sleep, and I sensed it under heavy pain medication last month.

It might even be what Kant meant by the thing in itself which the sensory organs can never perceive.

So I just lay there and allowed myself to drift as the day came. I’ll probably get loads of sleep tonight and the goal is not to have to depend on an artificial sleeping aid. The last artificial sleeping aid for me, after all, was Jim Beam in 1984 and while Mr Beam has his charms he is a hard taskmaster even with club soda…you know, where you ride the bubbles down…ah yes…even though Mr Beam is a charming gentleman Mr Beam always gets paid.

I did go back to “Tramadol” a mild “opioide” with warm milk just at night, tho alongside Panadol. I have a considerable supply. This may be misuse since it’s for pain not sleeping, and the sciatic pain is almost gone. The goal remains getting rid of all pain meds followed by a sixty minute test run and evaluation to see if I’ll ever run again. But I had this irritating cough located in the throat based possibly on aspirating a little vomitus last week. It went away.

I need a personal physician but that again would be exploitation for it’s an infinite regress. It is cruel mockery in Republican BS about health care to speak as if the ordinary American is a sweet old lady who “wants to talk to her doctor” and is scared of death panels with Negroes on them (for this manipulation of white fear goes back to Reconstruction).

For one thing, the ordinary American ain’t exactly what you’d call a sweet old lady. For another, he don’t got no doctor except his new best friend, Dr Patel, in the ‘mergency room.

True story: I was getting my father’s medications in 2003 in the Valparaiso (IN) Walgreens, and had noticed with disgust “Easter baskets” for boys with guns in them. An actual sweet old lady is in line before me. Pharmacist sends her away empty handed since the medication wasn’t covered by her insurance and off she went.

In all fairness this was rectified shortly thereafter for some sweet old ladies by a much-ballyhoo’d Republican plan.

My personal health care mega-solution was something a little shop soiled since it’s out of the 1980s, it was just running my head off. It is true that this pretty much ended all forms of infectious disease in my case for twenty years. But it induced a complacency about getting regular medical checkups and now I’m perhaps paying the price…although many cancers are not caught in standard tests.

The Western world certainly thought its shit didn’t stink in the 1980s.

DIRECTLY comparable

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 29, 2012 by spinoza1111

The behavior of the Republicans around health care, and their sadistic delight in the idea of people with Stage IV cancers and sciatica, with PhDs, without health insurance, sweeping floors at the age of 62, is directly comparable to the behavior of Japanese prison camp commanders in World War II as shown here.


Japanese savagery during WWII was not a mysterious trait from the dawn of time. Instead, Japan had had a period of Enlightenment under the Meijii Emperor of the 19th century.

But when President Coolidge of the United States foolishly forced Britain, already a United States debtor from WWI, to abandon its naval alliance with Japan, Japan was in the position of the United States commencing on Sep 11 2011.

Militarily powerful but with a secret weakness.

In the USA’s case: the possibility of terrorism.

In Japan’s: no domestic oil.

This explains the savagery especially of second-rate commanders forced to witness the weakness of defeated men.

America’s post-911 weakness explains the foul absurdity of the Republicans who’ve lined up against the mandate that they proposed! And there is no limit to their savagery.

Please just vote for Obama. There is no sane alternative that can stop this nightmare.

A note on social vulnerability

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 21, 2012 by spinoza1111

The reality for me is a sudden onset of old age and its vulnerability. Nurse Mike at Queen Mary gave it to me straight. My secondary problem of sciatica is degenerative and progressive although it can be delayed by reasonable activity. I may never run again.

Cancer per se is not curable because the ultimate cause is not known beyond the fact that errors occur in DNA/RNA transcription: but we have no hard scientific theory as to why the errors occur, only statistical associations that only prove soft statements such as “smoking hmm seems to make errors occur”. We know pragmatically that “smoking causes cancer” and can explain this by way of the fact that smoking uses combustion which concentrates carcinogens in floating microballs of “tar” gunk but even today there’s apparently no grand unified theory as to the link between what’s in the tar and the transcription errors. A known cause would imply the design of nano-biological technology which would “always” correct errors (where “always” could be a number, such as the “six sigma” of industrial engineering, close to unity).

As the doctor said, what I have is incurable owing to metastasis (assuming we find the source in the PET scan I shall now pay the private price for, previous scans yielding no evidence of tumors so far as they are studied). My favorite theory is mere wishful thinking, that somehow a tumor developed, released cells gathered in the lymph nodes and then was destroyed by my immune system somehow; but I dare not trust this. My search for the source alongside the doctors (where the Patient is a Subject as well as an Object) has to be thorough, and include the expensive Pet scan.

So I am “feblit with infirmitie” and I read history in a different light: from the standpoint of a patient in a city that’s been invaded. From the standpoint of the newly vulnerable.

In Hong Kong after the Japanese invasion, there were deliberate assaults on medical staff and patients, on the vulnerable at hospitals by the Japanese. This rather resembles the Republican assault on public and private health in the USA, for the Japanese “frightfulness”, manifest in so many ways throughout Asia, was an overcompensating, post-Enlightenment reaction to specific historical events as is Republican “frightfulness”: the Republican assaults on women, on teachers, on women teachers, on health, on women’s health, on gay people, on the health of gay people in an ever widening gyre, almost mathematical in character are, like the Japanese atrocities, the result of fear of inner weakness.

According to the BBC documentary “Horror in the East”, Japan, which had had a period of rapid westernization and genuine enlightenment (not so much western as Japan’s own version) during the Meijii period of the 19th century but this was sharply reversed using mass media in the 1920s.

When Japan’s lack of raw materials exposed Japanese to the brute facts of international rivalry, and when the United States idiotically forced Britain to abandon its naval alliance with the Japanese in 1924, Japanese men were told by media that Western civilization, especially the changing role of women, was unmanning them.

Horror in the East includes a Japanese film of the 1920s in which a woman dressed in Western fashions is scolded on the tram.

The result was a complete change in Japanese military training and behavior: the Japanese soldiers of WWI who’d mainly fought the Germans in Tientsin and the South Pacific treated POWs well, to the extent that many German POWs decided to stay in Japan. Whereas the Japanese atrocities of WWII towards POWs alone (Bataan “death march”, Hong Kong) and towards civilians (Hong Kong and most tragically, Nanking in the 1930s) were close to the Nazis’ atrocities.

This was caused by military training that emphasized the abuse of recruits such that once released from restraints and his own abuse by officers and non-coms, the Japanese ranker had a tendency to go wild. This was controlled and massacres thereby prevented by good generals like Yamashita, “The Tiger of Malaysia”: POWs in Yamashita’s conquest of Singapore were well-treated inside Singapore itself but mistreated in prison camps which obviously, in wartime, would be commanded by fourth rate men, Tough Babies.

The reaction is one of a false strength to weakness such as a patient in hospital: if he’s of military age, the war criminal thinks he’s a malingerer or a terrorist. This is post-Meijii for part of the pre-Meijii Samurai code was the separation of society into combatants and non-combatants (including combatants hors de combat), whereas Klaus Theweilt’s “soldier male” (cf. that author’s book Male Fantasies) is post-enlightenment the only “real” man.

But in the Dialectic of Enlightenment as it applied to Japan post-Meijii, the Samurai distinction is lost for anyone might be an enemy in an aura of universal knowledge and universal suspicion.

Adorno’s “Tough Baby”, unlike the Samurai, needs to win at any costs because Job One is not showing weakness which validates attacks on women, from the vicious name-calling that goes on in American state legislatures when reproductive choice is on the agenda, to attacking a fashionable woman on a tram in Tokyo.

Feminism helps the process along in some ways by refusing to admit that women’s job in reproduction is more complicated than that of men resulting in a male instinct to protect women in reproduction. To some feminisms, “chivalry” was merely a tool of oppression, which of course ignores the fact that enough men believed in it to save some women’s lives during the general mayhem of the Middle Ages.

Workout Log 15 June 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by spinoza1111

May this man’s Adventure in the Far East make me a New Man, for the trumpet shall sound and we shall all be changed. Listen!.

30 minute free dance with weights and cardio!

Yesterday at Queen Mary was a slog.

One media lie about public insurance: the media image of standing in queue with strangers (some of whom might be eek black folks) in a one-dimensional line. So in all mixed systems such as Britain and Hong Kong the rich man can walk past the queue and into the ER before your children (try to image in contra media, what that would mean in a natural disaster).

But the reality even in a purely public “Communist” system where it would be illegal to buy entry is triage, and people are scored by computer, so a grievously ill child precedes a codger like me. The science, for once, is but precise common sense and dignity…labeled by goons and hysterics as death panels.

It’s not a queue it’s a tree, dammit.

Anyway, I was coded as not urgent, so not only was the initial ER wait two hours, their were further waits, at Station 11 to see the doctor, at 12 to wait to see the nurse for the actual treatment and at the pharmacy. Big deal, I had a book.

Unseeing impatient Yuppie man
Don’t give me that look:
For I have a book.

Internally I felt a great deal of serenity and security, probably because when I was a kid in the fifties, hospitals were happy places to me where Mom and Dad worked and the nurses made a fuss over me.

Chinese nurses don’t fuss over me. I described how I was treating the skin rash that had developed at the site of my nodes, washing it, placing a Mannings alcohol pad over it and gritting my teeth. The nurse was horrified but didn’t say “so brave”!

They pull off dressings slow: I show ’em how. Even if there’s hairs under the dressings you pull ’em off in one swift motion, taking the pain. They fail to be impressed.

For my self medical care is based on kill or cure, like the Royal Navy. Poor little Peter, my son, had a fever. So I used ice water like Mom had. The poor little perisher did not like it but the fever went down quickly and I held him in my arms singing the Dutch National Anthem (15 verses, puts ’em to sleep like a light). He awoke the next morning with an enormous dump in his pants happy as a clam. He was good!


My remedy for stomach flu? Throw up your guts and chomp on ice chips. All things must pass.

However, the nurses frowned at using Tiger Balm and alcohol on a rash. More generally my self-care has to become less crude, since any pathology may be a result of my cancer.

My sciatica pain now well managed so instead of a cab, I took Crazy Minibus back to Central in the night after everything was done. I looked at the streets with fascination as if Dad had decided to practice for the British Army after his residence and I was growing up in Hong Kong.

Arriving at IFC, I felt internal serenity, but sudden anger: I was trying to cross the street but there was one of these metal fences that prevent you from getting to the sidewalk in Hong Kong’s car-dominated, pedestrian and cyclist hating environment.

I exploded when I made it across, doing a Bruce Lee on the fence.

I went through the fancy mall to the Lamma Island ferry and I was itching for an old fashioned fight.

You never see a man abusing a woman today although I did get to run downstairs when my wife and I were on Orrington Street next to a hotel and a guy was whaling on his wife in the open air cafe and calm him down.

I wanted an excuse to whale on some prick out of my anger over my diagnosis. I was actually hoping to see some bespoke suited drunkassed Brit who was old enough to have gone to public school before “fagging” was eliminated under Blair because “fagging” is legitimized bullying…see the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence for an example: the plot is David Bowie’s failure to stand up for his little brother in “public” (posh and actually private) school and how he amends for it in a POW camp.

I have a superior gaze that can start a fight and I was itching, owing to this onset, to use it. At the same time I was thinking, whoa, what the hell is this?

It’s me absorbing the diagnosis is what and possibly a stilnox side effect. Bears watching.

In an interview, John Cleese said of his character in Fawlty Towers, which Mom and Dad loved, that Basil was good in the War and rather useless thereafter. Here he is using an ancient British symbol of male dominance on a car which is, when you think of it, completely useless without petrol.

If I see a man abusing a woman I will jump his ass, sciatica and all. But these negative feelings are toxic and my father’s spirit which needs to be released.

I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love–

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Sometimes I wonder if this is such a big deal, this diagnosis. According Dorothy H Crawford (The Invisible Enemy, A Natural History of Viruses) one in three people have cancer.

I do not buy the admonition that I should zip it because so many people are in pain. That social suffering creates the pain. But whaling on upper class Brit bankers is OUT.
(She’s OUT. What time you want me to bring the bitch home…).

There’s a very strange novel by Tom Dulac, published years ago: The Stigmata of Dr Constantine. A researcher in a lab where animals are tormented to make cosmetics, a careless man, is stricken with the wounds Christ received on the cross. He lays in his flat in agony for days and, if memory serves, is released by his female assistant who loves him.

He becomes a homeless man and filled with the Spirit raises his still bleeding hands in the middle of Times Square. Nobody notices, hey, ya see everything on Broadway.

He laughs his ass off for he realizes that what comes to one comes to all and wisdom cries out in the streets:

Wisdom cries aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open square:

She cries in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she utters her words, saying,

How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? and the scoffers delight in their scoffing, and fools hate knowledge?

Proverbs 1:20

Edward G. Nilges, “An Androgynous Awareness at Tung O Wan”, pencil, pen, computer enhancement, copyright (c) 2012 by Edward G. Nilges. Moral Rights asserted.

My health care financial plan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 10, 2012 by spinoza1111

Right, you swine, this will read well in the Morning Post… – George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman and the Dragon.

To finance care for this cancer deal, then:

1. Use my residency in Hong Kong to access its high quality and low cost care, which is financed by land rents, taxes paid by financial firms and my own relatively flat tax.

2. For procedures such as Pet scanning as needed (if the public scans do not find the source of the cancer cells in my lymph nodes), which aren’t available on the public option, go to Thailand where these procedures are inexpensive.

It may seem rather obscene that the son of a doctor, who’s himself worked hard all his life (but had a perhaps unfortunate tendency not to take shit) doesn’t have private coverage but I accept this obscenity. I am after all responsible for what has happened to me.

It is also obscene that the right-wing Heritage Foundation rates Hong Kong as the most free market in the world but yet high quality public care is available here, and is not in the United States.

A Brief Note on Paying for Health Care

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 2, 2012 by spinoza1111

It makes little difference being sick in the USA versus here in Hong Kong.

Two nights at Queen Mary, including the bone scan, three squares a day and all other tests cost 400 dollars (about fifty dollars US).

You may now get up off the floor after pitching a faint, ma’am.

The same would have cost much more in San Francisco.

But there’s a caveat. It is that I would have gotten much the same in the US as of right now in a public hospital. I would, however, have to pay a huge bill, and to pay for all care, I’d have to sell a screenplay, and I am not even a screenwriter.

But that’d be cool: I’d be a survivor of cancer, which I am already for a small amount of time, and a cynosure with all sorts of babe attention assuming I still have a hot body, which I probably would, since working out is key to my handling this thing.

Six of one, a half dozen, of the other.

But the option to get care irrespective of ability to pay is under threat in the USA. The ACA health insurance mandate can fund this, but the wack jobs on the right in the Supreme Court may “find” that it’s not covered under the Commerce clause or make up a lot of fancy-assed words to prove it ain’t because they like to hurt people.

Which means that the United States will become a less-developed country precisely as Brazil and China advance to being developed countries, and Hong Kong already is, and a less-developed country is where your betel-chewing mate drags your sorry ass to the hospital gate and hopes Mother Theresa comes along.

I shit you not.

I must of course adjust to the open wards, the aging men groaning, and the use of Cantonese by the staff (from which occasionally emerge frightening English medical terminology such as “scarlet fee-vah”). The meals which are magical but bland. The lack of mateyness which is an aspect of Chinese sagacity and reserve.

I also have to adjust to queueing. Immediate tests, or a Pet Scan, are only had by paying much more than I can afford. I am very blessed in my legacy, although I’d planned to use it to sniff about Europe and shall not be able to do so, at least this summer: but my Father’s gracious ghost admonishes me that perhaps this was in some way intended. Even given the public option, not being able to work and no money in Hong Kong or San Francisco would be a nightmare.

And Queen Mary sits upon a beautiful hill next to Hong Kong University and there is a magical pathway from the hospital to the university traversed by stream-beds and nullahs, a path on which one expects to meet Empire ghosts like Aldous Huxley, one’s children, or one’s Mantuan, or mentor:

O anime cortese Mantoana (Dante)

Edward G. Nilges, “Postcard from Edward Joseph Nilges, Captain, United States Army, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (“Nisei”, “Go for Broke”), 1915-1945, KIA Mount Folgorito, Tuscany, 6 April, 1945. Silver Star: Purple Heart.”, acrylic painting assemblage. Copyright (C) by Edward G. Nilges. Moral rights asserted.