Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stevie Joe Defines "Davenport"

Apparently, my use of the term "davenport" confused many. Here's the poop:

Main Entry: dav·en·port
Function: noun
Pronunciation: \ˈda-vən-ˌport, ˈda-vəm-\Etymology: probably from the name Davenport
Date: 1853
: a small compact writing desk
: a large upholstered sofa often convertible into a bed

Also, more detail can be found here.

What you sit on in the parlor,
Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, December 28, 2007

Stevie Joe Talks Socialized Medicine

So, another Christmas has come and gone in Junebug Holler. Snow is finally on the ground which means that our busted up old Junior is even less mobile than usual. As a result, the impression his butt makes in my davenport is getting deeper and deeper. Junior's dog, Junior Junior, has taken to following along. He's even taught himself how to let himself in the house when Junior is not around or just too inebriated to operate the door knob.

Not much is new in town. For once, there has been a welcome silence from the citizenry. Perhaps, it is just a reaction to the saga of our mysterious stranger. Now, I realize that you haven't heard much about him in quite some time. I will continue that story shortly, and the reason for my silence will become apparent. Let me just say for now that we all need a little rest.

Now, to the topic at hand: our American health care system. If you haven't heard, it's broke. I mean, it just plain sucks on many levels. Everyone seems to agree on this point, but there is great disagreement on what to do about it. Many of our current candidates propose offering "universal health care." None are very clear about what this means except that more people will have access to medical care, and it may or may not cost a bit less than today. Despite using the term "universal," most of these plans fail to provide coverage for everyone.

Then there is Dennis Kucinich, that guy from Ohio with the big ears. Now, Americans are a little hesitant about short, big-eared, quirky presidential candidates after Ross Perot (even though he entertained me so), and Kucinich has about the same shot at the nomination as Ron Paul. However, it's worth taking a closer look at his health care proposal: a single-payer, non-profit system.

Many folks have chosen to label such plans as "socialized medicine" and then offer less-than-enthusiastic descriptions of similar European systems (despite the fact that these countries have better health care statistics than the US across the board). I want to look at the phrase "socialized medicine."

This phrase implies that we now have some sort of free-market system. Well, it certainly is for-profit since a number of folks make themselves very wealthy from it. However, where is the consumer choice? In most towns, especially small ones like Junebug Holler, you get a choice of one hospital for most of your care.

Yes, America has a number of top medical facilities where the care is second to none. The problem is that regular folks like you and me usually can't get in. We sure as heck can't afford it on our own, and your dang lucky if you can get your insurance company to pay for it. For most folks, the local hospital is it.

When it comes to doctors, it's true that we often do have a choice. However, how do you compare? Doctors aren't exactly printing their prices in the Sunday paper. The same is true for prescription drugs. When the Doc says you need Medicine A, you go buy it. Rarely do you have the chance to compare prices and effectiveness with Medicine B. If the patent has expired, you can get the generic version, but many docs want to prescribe the latest and greatest cost be damned. So, where does that free market come into play?

The answer: it doesn't. It's a rigged system, and the folks making the dough make the rules. The largest health insurance company in the US is UnitedHealth Group. In 2005, they paid their CEO $122.7 million. The salary paid to one man could provide health insurance for 34,000 people.

It's pretty ironic that when common wisdom tells us that government is wasteful and private business is thrifty when the opposite is true in the health care industry. The operating overhead for Medicare is less than 3%. The overhead for private insurers is 15-30%.

According to Mr. Kucinich, 31% of the money we currently spend on health care goes to the cost of administering the system. Having hundreds of insurers and thousands of plans means a lot of bookkeeping. On top of that is the enormous profit being made by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

I don't know if Mr. Kucinich's plan is the best way to go. I do know, however, that what we have today is not a free-market system. It's a system where a small number of privileged folks get obscenely rich while the rest of us get substandard care. It seems like a no-brainer to change it.

Now, if I can just get one particular no-brainer off of my davenport,
Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stevie Joe, JC, and Mike Huckabee

As regular readers of the Stevie Joe Parker's Guide to Life Know, I am pretty tight with JC. I'm not exactly a Bible-thumper, but I'm close to the Big Guy. So, I take notice when folks express a similar interest. Like Mike Huckabee. Mike is using JC in his latest political ads (not sure if he is being paid an appearance fee). So, I wanted to see how Mike's stand on various political issues stacked up with my impression of Jesus' teaching. A little What Would Mike Do (WWMD) versus What Would Jesus Do (WWJD):

War in Iraq/War on Terror
• "Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror."
• "I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. This war is not a conventional war, and these terrorists are not a conventional enemy."

• "Blessed are the peacemakers."
• "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar."
• "Put your sword back in its place for all who take the sword will die by the sword."
• "My command is this: love each other as I have loved you."

• "As President, I will oppose any efforts to lift trade and travel restrictions on the Cuban dictatorship and will veto any legislation seeking to lift these restrictions . . ."

• "Love thy neighbor."
• "Love your enemies."

• "Securing our borders must be our top priority and has reached the level of a national emergency."
• "I oppose and will never allow amnesty."
• "I oppose and will not tolerate sanctuaries for illegals."

• “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”"
• “There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
• "Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."

[Of course, JC himself was an undocumented immigrant and refugee.]

Death Penalty
• "I believe there is a place for a death penalty. Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible that the only response that we, as a civilized nation, have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix."

• "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
• "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."
• "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... Repay no one evil for evil... do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I Will repay,' says the Lord."

Somebody say, "Amen!"
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How to be Smart Like Stevie Joe

People write me all the time and ask, "Can I be a genius just like you, Stevie Joe?" The answer is "probably not," but you can become smarter than you are right now. One fellow asked recently how to do just that, and I told him to Google "Mortimer Adler."

Mortimer Adler is a damn genius himself and perhaps the most important education theorist of the 20th century. If you work in the field of education and do not know Mortimer Adler, either resign right now or get on the ball.

Your study of Mortimer Adler should begin with the book How to Read a Book. In fact, if all you want to do is read a book, read this first. It is not only a guide to getting the most out of a book, but to how to make learning a life-long affair. You cannot become as smart as me and Mort if you stop learning once you leave school.

Mortimer Adler developed the Great Books program at the University of Chicago. You may have heard of this. It is the study of particular subjects as discussed various authors through the course of written history. For example, if one wants to study the proper role of government in society or the ideal form of government, one might begin with Plato's Republic. From there, one might read some Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Locke, and Mill.

You read Plato not because he is inherently right or wrong but because many other great minds took what he wrote and expounded, elaborated, disagreed, and debated. The Great Books provide a front row seat to the greatest discourse in Western civilization. As such, they provide quite the training in critical thinking as well as the subjects under consideration.

In a similar vein, today we are blessed with something called the TED Conference. As the TED website explains:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

The best part for those of us unable to attend or participate in these meetings is that the presentations have been recorded and placed on the internet. Again, there is an opportunity to listen in to some of the world's great discourse. You can find out more here.

So, I've given you a start. It is no guarantee that you will become a damn genius like me or Mr. Adler, but it'll get you going in the right direction. Have some fun!

Your philosopher-king,
Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some of Stevie Joe's Favorite HST Quotes

I don't know why, but I just love Hunter S Thompson. Here are some of my favorites quotes:

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.

The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.

In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.

There is a huge body of evidence to support the notion that me and the police were put on this earth to do extremely different things and never to mingle professionally with each other, except at official functions, when we all wear ties and drink heavily and whoop it up like the natural, good-humored wild boys that we know in our hearts that we are..These occasions are rare, but they happen — despite the forked tongue of fate that has put us forever on different paths...

So much for Objective Journalism. Don't bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

The Rumsfeld-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgivable sin in America.

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us; they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them.

We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear — fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.

And my all-time favorite opening lines:

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive . . ." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

The possibility of complete mental and physical collapse is now very real,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stevie Joe is Free of Junior

So, Junior got his smaller casts, and he is no longer recuperating at Chez Parker. For the good of both Junior and the community, I have hidden his bottle of Vicodin. However, that ain't going to stop Junior. Nosiree. He hobbled on home, grabbed some cash, and began his long, painful journey to the Holler News and Booze. He was intent on getting some kind of inebriant in him no matter what.

Junior, not being as smart as your average Yorkshire terrier, decided to buy himself a case of beer. One of the stock boys helped him get it outside, but then he had to sit and ponder how he was going to get it home what with him having two broken legs, a pair of crutches, and a dislocated shoulder.

About this time, Dickie Jensen had wandered by. He stopped and silently looked Junior up and down. Then, while staring at the case of beer, he came to realize Junior's predicament. Now, a true friend would have helped poor, old Junior take his beer home. Unfortunately for Junior, Dickie ain't such a friend to Junior or anybody else. So, as you might have already predicted, Dickie grabbed a handful of beers for himself and continued on down the road. While Junior got mighty irate and cussed Dickie out good, he was powerless to prevent the theft.

Finally, Junior came upon the idea of putting the beer into a shopping cart which he then could push home by bumping it with his chest as he hobbled along. Tired, sore, and with a newly bruised sternum, Junior arrived home inspired to begin a round of therapy. I can hear him next door right now, singing along with "Cisco Kid" by War. The medication must be taking effect.

"Eat the salted peanuts out of can,"
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stevie Joe Ponders All of Our Stuff

Ever wonder about "stuff?" Most folks don't give it any thought beyond the George Carlin routine. I've been pondering it lately, and this website has some excellent material on the matter.

Trying to make do with less,
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Where the Heck is Stevie Joe?

Everyone has been writing asking where the heck I've been since Thanksgiving. Busy, that's where. And it all started on Turkey Day.

As with most Thanksgivings, the local residents of Junebug Holler dined with their respective families and/or in the church basement then traveled over to my house to watch the TV. Since I own the town's only High Definition Widescreen Television complete with satellite dish and Surround Sound system, I get quite a crowd for major televised events like NFL Football, tournament bass fishing, or swamp buggy races.

It so happened that Mayor Barney and Anne-Marie Bohansen were both guests on that fateful day. If you are a regular reader of the Stevie Joe Parker's Guide to Life, then you know Mayor Barney. However, I don't believe I have written about poor Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie moved to Junebug Holler about twenty years ago. As a result, she is viewed amongst the natural born population as a newcomer and outsider. Just recently, she purchased a lot from Mayor Barney and built a house upon it.

I know what you are thinking. You think she bought a lot in Mayor Barney's Mudslide Estates, but she did not. Instead, she bought a lot smack in the middle of town. See, Junebug Holler is kind of crescent shaped. There is a big section right near the downtown that has never been built upon. This section is right in the crook of the crescent where Anne-Marie built her home. Folks who grew up here know this area as the former location of the Junebug Cement Mines which closed up over a hundred years ago. Every kid around explored these mine caves until the state said they were unsafe and filled in the entrances about forty years back.

The thing is, these mines are very shallow. Most passages are within 20 feet of the surface. Now you know why nobody has built on them before and why Mayor Barney got the land so cheap.

So, you must be thinking, what does this have to do with why we haven't heard anything from Stevie Joe in three weeks? Well, just before Thanksgiving, Anne-Marie's brand-new house decided to develop itself a new basement. A big sinkhole opened up and cracked her foundation. Having heard from a few other residents about the mine and Mayor Barney's knowledge of it, she had become a bit irate it would seem.

So, when she spied old Mayor Barney in my parlor, she ran up and gave him a big old shove. Just then, Dickie Jensen was speeding down the hallway riding upon my wheeled ottoman. Mayor Barney fell onto Dickie and said ottoman thus altering their course. The two men and ottoman then plowed into the back of Junior as he was standing in the foyer sipping a beer and eyeing Juanita through the pass-through to the kitchen.

The result was two broken legs and a dislocated shoulder for Junior. Since, the fool has nobody to care for him, he has been parked in my barcalounger ever since. He is effectively immobile, meaning that I have to be his damn nurse. This is a full-time job since Junior will indeed find his way to his bottle of Vicodin and/or my liquor cabinet given the opportunity. I have to be on my toes to prevent an overdose of one sort or another.

On Monday, the doc might put him in some less restrictive casts. If so, he'll be able to get around, sort of, on crutches, and I can get him out of here. Hopefully, I can post more then.

Get me a 100 cc's of Jack Daniels, stat!
Stevie Joe Parker