Archive for January 31, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday: Human Kindness

[Here’s a gentle thought for today.]

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”  —  Unknown

Help for Homeless Vets

Kudos to the VA!  Their Palo Alto facility now has an Employment and Housing Resource Center to serve homeless vets (remember that at least 20% of the homeless in our country are veterans).  It’s part of their five-year plan to end homelessness among vets.  The Center, open to all vets enrolled in VA healthcare, has free electronics that are essential in job-hunting–computer, Internet, and printers–along with staff help and employment guidance.  In addition, it offers resources related to finding affordable housing.

Many of these services aren’t new with the VA.  What is new is the fact that they’ve been consolidated into one Center where a person can go to get help in rebuilding his or her life after putting it on hold to serve our country.  Good going, VA!






Apple & Child Labor

Today’s news reported that Apple found they employed only .004% children in their workforce, including none in final assembly.  Sounds good, especially for such a huge corporation.  However, this doesn’t tell the real story: what’s going on with Foxconn, their supplier, and its suppliers.  One Chinese circuit-board-parts supplier uses 74 kids under age 16. Parents forging papers to say their kids are older is a common practice.  For more details, go to

Apple is trying.  I’ll give them credit for that.  But they need to solve the problem in the 5% of their factories that they audited that use child labor and go deeper into the supply chain to ensure that children are not victimized just so we can have our i-everythings.

Thoughtful Thursday: Life’s Purpose is not Happiness

 “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  —  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take God Out of the Inauguration!

Atheists are Americans, too.  Therefore, religion doesn’t belong in a Presidential  Inauguration.  That’s what I’m hearing from my atheist friends.  They don’t like the Oath of Office taken on a Bible and ending with “so help me God.”  And they certainly don’t like today’s National Day of Prayer at (gasp!) the National Cathedral.

My reply to them is this: When our country was formed, even atheists who helped frame the Constitution agreed to the inclusion of the Deity, as long as the rights of non-believers were secure.  The National Day of Prayer goes back to those same times, when George Washington participated.  Today we continue what has become a national tradition, one that harks back even farther, when Pilgrims sailed here so they could exercise their right to worship.  (I like to think that a few of them were, in reality, atheists and agnostics, coming along because they felt that they could help form a new nation in which they, too, were not persecuted.)

Is something right or good simply because it’s tradition?  Of course not.  But if it’s based on fighting injustice, and if it’s nurtured into something that allows justice for all…that makes it good and right.

Besides, if atheists are right, all we are doing is promoting good (although they call it “brainwashing”).  On the other hand, if believers are right…well, we and our country can use all help can get .

Earth-Friendly Tip: Cut Back on Meat

Hold off on that steak!  Eating less meat and more fruit, vegetables, and grains makes us healthier while using less land and energy. That pound of beef took 5 pounds of grain, 2500 gallons of water, and lots of fuel to bring it to your table.   In fact, since meat production accounts for 18% of greenhouse emissions, skipping meat one day a week is similar to removing 8 million cars from our roads.

[For more easy, Eco-friendly tips, download a FREE copy of Green Riches: Help the Earth & Your Budget. Go to view/7000, choose a format, and download to your computer or e-book device. Or download a free copy from your favorite e-tailer.] Cow

Why Bother with Recycled Paper Products?

Buy and use recycled paper products.  Obviously, doing so will save trees and wildlife habitat.  In addition, because it takes more energy to make paper from trees than from recycled paper, if all the paper cluttering our homes and offices were made of recycled materials, we’d save enough energy to go visit those trees and wildlife some weekend.

[For more easy, Eco-friendly tips, download a FREE copy of Green Riches: Help the Earth & Your Budget. Go to view/7000, choose a format, and download to your computer or e-book device. Or download a free copy from your favorite e-tailer.]

Only Married Women Can be Raped in CA?

“No, Your Honor, I couldn’t have raped her because she wasn’t married.”  In California, this is a valid defense, thanks to an old 1872 law.  Julio Morales admitted that he’s sneaked into a woman’s bed, pretended to be her boyfriend, and had sex with her until the light hit his face and she realized it was not her boyfriend.  She shoved him off of her and  reported  the incident to the police.  As his defense, he cited that old law.  He never impersonated her husband, he said, just her boyfriend.  The judge agreed and dismissed the charges.  Apparently, only married women can be raped in our fine state.

To be honest, this is a vast oversimplification.  But it goes without saying that it’s well past time to change this law.

Medicare Care & Cost for 2013

Medicare will be more user-friendly this year.  The Affordable Care Act addressed several problems the older generation was having with the program.  In 2013, these provisions kick in.

One is free preventative services (including help to stop smoking) to make us healthier.  Also, we’ll get a much clearer summary of benefits (larger print, understandable language, definitions of terms used). It will contain other useful information, as well, like how to read it and report what we feel is fraud.  Next, the “donut hole” that people who use the prescription drug plan have been facing shrinks.  It will take another seven years to close, but at least it’s getting smaller.  In addition, mental health coverage is increasing.  If you go to a psychiatrist, for example, your co-pay will be less, and many of the prescriptions he writes for you to treat your mental disorder will now be covered.

Of course, with all the improvements to the program, we’ll have to pay a little more this year.  Our premiums will increase by a few dollars per month.  However, I think those few dollars added up for a year will be a small amount compared to what I would have had to pay for the added services, meaning I’ll save money and get better care.  I like that idea.

What the Debt Ceiling is NOT Affected By

Confused by the talks about our nation’s spending?  How does raising the Debt Ceiling NOT create new debt we don’t already have?  Why is the drastically risen cost of programs that help the most vulnerable in our society only temporary? Why can Social Security NOT add to the national debt? Dollar Smiley Go to to read The Hoax of Entitlement Reform, by Robert Reich (Secretary of Labor under Clinton and Prof. of Public Policy at UC Berkeley).