Nov. 28th, 2009 01:51 pm
tonyajot: (Default)
Okay, folks - here's how it goes. The more people that can get people to reply to my postings here (past, present, and future), regardless of content that put your username as their referral in their comments, gets a custom written fanfiction of his/her choice in the fandom of his/her choice (assuming I know the fandom even peripherally), with the pairing of his/her choice. Anything goes, gen, het, slash, threesomes, moresomes, whatever your little heart desires. One caveat - anonymous postings are automatically disqualified. The story is guaranteed to be a minimum of 650 words.

You can skip the posts of my personal bullshit. Frankly, it's pretty boring, but let's try to raise some awareness with the postings I've made that have some actual substance to them, huh?

The deadline is January 1, 2010 at 12AM. Votes will be tallied by me (and someone else, if I can convince them to assist.) A posting must consist of more then five words (that's not the same five words written five times) and CAN include flames. Bring on the heat, if you must. I can take it.

Just, please, try to get people aware of some of these topics. They're important to me. Important enough for me to do this. So, please, please do your part to pitch in.

Desperately seeking people who give a damn,

tonyajot: (Default)
I pondered long and hard before broaching this subject. There are public concerns, however, that I believe outweigh my misgivings. No matter how much you may think you trust a loved one, there are some sensible precautions that you can take. (And yes, just taking some of these steps could indicate a crack in that trust's foundation, but sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.)

1. Never allow anyone no matter how long-lived the relationship or how deep the trust to EVER take compromising photographs or videos of you. The fact is, that relationships do end, and even if they don't, you have no control over where or in whose hands they end up. If you've already made this mistake, do not be naive enough to believe that the pictures have been deleted or that the video has been erased. These are convenient excuses. If you don't mind that you might end up with an embarrassing photo somewhere you never intended it to be, then you can ignore this warning completely.

2. Technology is outpacing the law so fast that it just can't keep up. When you are talking about spousal or other close relationships, the lines are blurred even further. There are now cameras so small that even the tiniest of pin-pricks make them difficult to detect. Whether you are doing something worth spying on or not, remember that a joint reisdence in particular affords you NO legal protection whatsoever in regards to your rights to privacy. Video from these cameras can be set up to transmit wirelessly to off-site computers or telephones and is often A quality and sometime in living color with audio. Be forewarned. It isn't just Big Brother who is watching you these days.

3. Computer worms are tricky little buggers, some exist that no anti-viral software will pick up, particularly if the person you trust is also the one who helps you with your 'I.T.' issues. Some worms are sophisticated enough to detect every single keystroke you enter on your keyboard, they can track every website visited, every e-mail or diary entry. This doesn't even need to BE a loved one. Absolute strangers can access great quantities of highly personal information, including health records, DVD rentals, etc., using nothing more than your I.P. address. There is little to be done with this phenomenon until the law catches up. What you can do is get a very good anti-viral program and learn how to maintain it yourself. I recommend Trend Micro, formerly known as PC-Cillin. Keep your anti=viral updated regularly and do scans at least once a day, if not more. When downloadng any software, pictures, e-mails, or games, be sure that you don't accidentally agree to change something in your system's registry. This is crucial, because once your system's registry has been corrupted, you have left yourself virtually wide-open for this and many even more malicious attacks.

4. People will tell you that you can't have your phone line tapped. Those people would be wrong. Worse yet, if the person you've trusted lives in the same residence as you, they are perfectly within their legal rights to record any and all incoming and outgoing phone calls from that residence. There are devices on the market that can do this and do it very cheaply. If you suspect your phone is being tapped by someone with access to your interior or exterior phone lines, insist on having a phone company respesentative come out and inspect the entire phone system, from where the wires enter the house to where they meet in the interior junction box.

5. Other people will tell you that it is impossible for someone to remotely redirect outgoing calls from your cordless telephone. This is also patently untrue. While the products that can do this are very much more expensive than those previously mentioned, they do exist. An example would be, if you went to call 911 for assistance, but instead reach a grocery store. You hit redial and reach a bait and tackle shop. To the best of my knowledge there is no way to counter an attack such as this. 6. Spoofing/Static I.P. Addresses - Many households share one static I.P. address. What this means to you, is that your spouse or trusted loved one can do virtually anything in your name and you will have not one scintilla of proof that you were not the one who did it. This can set you up for financial, legal, or emotional hardships in the long run. If anyone out there has figured a way around this, I would be gratified to hear it. As it stands, this is one of the most terrifying bit for many of us. A person could theoretically visit a bunch of kiddie-porn sites, using your computer virtually with your I.P. address and leave you to face the consequences. This is serious stuff, folks.

Warning signs:

1. The person in question mentions casually something you only spoke aloud to yourself while in an empty house.

2. The person in question asks questions about a private telephone conversation that you had when he/she was not present and the conversation has not been brought up by you.

3. The person in question suddenly takes a dislike or insists that you cut communication off with an online friend or group, to which he has never been exposed to or introduced to.

4. The person in question asks leading questions as to how you spent your day and then questions something that you forgot to mention or even intentionally ommitted. For example: "Did you phone for that insurance quote today like I asked you to?" "Yes, I did. I'll get an answer soon."
"You did NOT! They put you on hold and you gave up after only a few minutes!"

5. You suddenly receive a gift that you never mentioned wanting to anyone other than a friend that the other person has little or no knowledge of and upon querying the friend, he/she disavows all knowledge.

Ask yourself, if the person that you have placed your trust in could have come by such knowledge in any other way and if the answer is 'no', please use sensible precautions. At the very best they are violating YOUR trust by such underhanded methods and the very worst they are extremely controlling and potentially violent when crossed. If you do find such intrusive invasions of privacy - do NOT confront him/her about it. Suggest counseling or leave immediately and get to a safe location. There is no telling how someone will react to being caught out like this, for some this invasion of privay is an addiction. ANd this is absolutely crucial - NEVER ingore the situation. It can lead to years of what is tantamount to living in a prison where everything you say or do is monitored at all times and you are never free to do or say aything that may end up on his/her surveillance equipment. We live in a very technological age. As such, we must do better at passing legislation to protect ourselves and our loved ones from such privacy invasions and we must arm ourselves with the knowledge of just what tools are out there that may be being used against us. My two cents.
tonyajot: (Default)
This is a time for giving thanks for the help and support of the politicians in office who DO care about civil liberties. Please take the time to go to the following website:

And remind those politicians that their efforts are appreciated.

We need every ounce of support that we can get to force our country into honoring the rights of all its citizens and these people are in the trenches, working for us all. So, let's let them know that we're aware of the flack they might be getting and that it's worth it to all of us that they continue to fight the good fight.

Also, if you get the chance, explore the site for ways that you can help make a difference and show your support. Those that can afford it, please contribute financially. Those who can't, please get the word out any way that you can.

That's it for now,

tonyajot: (Default)
The Crazy, The Poor, and The Sick - The Unspoken Caste System in America Today a social commentary by Tonya Trummer

Preface: Delving into the variety of reasons for my own personal bouts with mental instability, would serve only to detract from the greater message here. There are millions of people like me out there, without a voice, without hope. The many and varied ways that they've reached the ends of their individual tethers aren't what I intend to address here. Instead, I wish to focus on our greatest failings as a Nation. We, the American people stand and state proudly our superiority as a first world country. The sad truth is that most Americans have no idea what is going on under their very noses and the few that do know, couldn't be bothered to effect any kind of lasting change. There simply is no profit margin in helping the disenfranchised. Until people begin to stand up and demand that their rights have equal value, there is little hope for the most hopeless amongst us.

I choose NOT to dedicate this work to an individual, but to the throngs of people throughout our great land who have had no opportunity to have their voices heard.

Chapter One - Who Is Affected?

There are all kinds of wonderful euphemisms and political correct names for craziness these days. People are 'bi-polar' or 'schizophrenic' or just plain mentally ill. The vast array of illness and symptoms range from agoraphobia to social anxiety disorder or attention deficit syndrome or disorder or whatever the latest trend is. The fact remains that literally millions of people in this country have valid mental health issues that require help, from therapy and/or medication. Even more suffer from actual physical ailments. The sad truth is even more suffer from nothing more than the medical profession's pandering to the pharmaceutical industry.

What then, of the valid illnesses? How are they treated? What rights do the mentally ill or physically ill actually have when it comes to their own treatment and in the worst case scenarios, what protection does society have from those who are dangerously ill? The facts may astound you. There are several different classes of mental illness and physical illness and the not-so-hidden truth, is that they are divided primarily monetarily.

The first class of mental illness or even physical illness is formed by the elite. These are the rare top percent of those who do not require any insurance for treatment. They often do not require any actual meeting with a mental health professional at all. They simply phone a doctor 'friend' who prescribes whatever medication the self-diagnosing patient feels they require. It is in this sad state of affairs that we find celebrity overdoses and deaths. Regardless of the utter inanity, I cannot foresee any way that this sad condition will have any substantive change. A great deal of money can purchase just about anything from those greedy enough to sell it. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with being able to afford the best health care money can buy. This particular lass of ill people only suffer in comparison the further down the financial pyramid you fall. It should also be pointed out, that if and when illness strikes, this first class of patient rarely has a genuine job to miss time off from and even if he or she did, there would be no consequences for taking months or even years off to deal with a catastrophic illness.

The second class are those who are relatively well-off financially. These are the CEO's and their families. Contrary to a lot of bad press directed at the upper echelon of companies these days, many are very hard-working concerned people who are working under some pretty tight constraints to keep their budgets under a certain bearable level for their boards. These people who pick and choose the health coverage the others in their companies are forced to live with their decisions. Sometimes they choose wisely, sometimes the bargains that they are dealt are quite Faustian.. They themselves, are covered by insurance to a great extent, but certainly have no trouble meeting out deductibles or paying out of pocket expenses for those items not covered under company plans. They often see the most well-educated and 'elite' physicians in the country. Their conditions are taken quite seriously and exhaustive testing is done to ensure that any other underlying ailments are quickly discovered and treated accordingly. This class of worker often has an almost obscene number of sick days or even indefinite leave to deal with an illness that is not speedily recovered from.

The third class are those who work for those industrious companies and their CEO's. These people may be given token choices between Plan A or Plan B, told they can choose their deductibles to reduce the amounts of their premiums, which can be quite high proportionate to their annual salaries. Often they are informed that they may NOT opt out of company insurance at all, unless they can show coverage under a spouse or parent's policy. Here the terminology of insurance becomes somewhat murky. All of a sudden you have to adjust to seeing an 'approved' physician under the plan. Then there are co-pays, which can sometimes be of great benefit, but at other times, only kick in after a large deductible is met. In effect, you get the lowest bidding physicians providing bulk care to employees for whom the company bottom-line is often 'get them back to work asap' or get them out of our workforce so we can replace them with someone healthy who won't run up a bunch of medical costs. What this equates to, is sub-standard care with the goal NOT the health of the employee, but the productivity of the employee in the workplace. It should be noted that often at a later date, when billing time comes around, the employee is shocked and horrified to discover that many of the items that they believed to be covered under their company's policy have been 'disallowed' and that no amount of arguing can relieve them of the burden of this debt, leaving the worker no option but to work longer and harder hours to try and meet the unexpected expenses. It should also be noted that these workers often have a very minimal number of sick days and can often be 'docked' or even fired for taking time off beyond what their company policies allow. In my personal opinion, this type of insurance and company cooperation smacks a little too closely to the 'company store' of old that held workers as virtual slaves to their places of employment, indebted to them to the point where they see no way out of the void their medical bills have left them swirling in.

The fourth class are those who have lost their insurance for any number of reasons (one of which, is that their health costs have simply been deemed to expensive and the company in question has searched for and found a semi-valid reason to terminate their employ). This disenfranchised person is then offered by law COBRA. Now COBRA is intended as a stop-gap measure ostensibly to prevent people from becoming completely uninsured, especially when they already suffer from a pre-existing health condition. The primary problem with COBRA is that it is so exhorbitantly cost-prohibitive, expecially to those who are now recently unemployed, that there is simply no way for a person to afford this coverage unless they've managed to set aside a substantial nest egg that they can chisel away at to keep their coverage. Once COBRA is either declined or lost due to expense, the pre-existing condition then becomes un-insurable and the former employee then must try to pay for all medical costs out of pocket. Something quite impossible for almost every single American in that situation. I personally find this quite galling. As Americans, we should not and must not allow people to suffer and die because they hae suddenly become un-insurable. This is a travesty, people!

The fifth class of patients fall under the auspices of Medicare. Now a great many people who are on Medicare are also on Social Security. From personal experience, I can tell you that SSI benefits barely cover the necessities of daily life. Add to this, the government then taxes what income you receive from SSI. Even more appalling, they take out a 'premium' from your benefits to cover your Medicare plan. Whichever plan you are on, A, B, or D, there is a cost to be paid. There are deductibles and co-pays. There are specific doctors that will refuse to see you. The doctors who will see you, can and often DO bill you substantially more than your Medicare coverage will allow for, leaving you with a great debt that with a limited income you are quite unable to pay. Worse yet, if you are lucky enough to qualify for Part D, which covers prescriptions, an outrageous number of mental health prescriptions are simply not covered at all, leaving the patient to carry the burden alone or simply go without the necessary medication. All of those so-called crazy homeless people living on the streets, off of their meds and making you scared enough to cross well away from them when you pass? I'll lay odds that a good percentage of them could and SHOULD be helped with proper medical care and prescriptions, but for whatever reason, they have fallen through the cracks. This should shame you. I know it shames me.

The sixth class of patients fall under Medicaid. While I never mentioned the unbelievable amount of hoops necessary to jump through for SSI and Medicare, you can triple it for Medicaid. You are completely subject to whatever your 'case-worker' decides is best for you. Any forward thinking person should be able to make the correlation between the terms 'case-worker' and 'case-load'. These people may start out with the best of intentions, but face it, they have unbelievable amounts of work stacking up everyday and their primary goal is not necessarily the welfare of the person needing their assistance, but clearing their desk for the day. A case-worker can force a loved one to leave their own home with little or no justification for the decision. A case-worker can reject a request for a part-time nurse to help administer meds or assist a disabled person into and out of the bath. A case-worker can INSIST on placing a patient in a care facility, either on a day-care basis or on a full-time live-in basis. This person has almost complete authority over what happens to someone in this sixth class and it's controlled almost entirely by the government. If you don't find this at all disturbing, I worry for you.

Chapter 2 - Practical Solutions

Let's begin with what won't work. President Obama has been heard to call for 'health care reform'. Here is why that will never work as the system stands now. There are four - count them - FOUR major pharmaceutical companies that are basically in charge of every single medication out there today. Pharmaceuticals are BIG business, people and don't let these companies try to fool you into thinking that the high cost of medicine is due to research and development. They spend more then ten times the amount in ADVERTISING than they do on R&D. Ten times. Thanks to the WTO and other organizations like it, these companies have held a stranglehold not only over the United States, but world-wide. Until legislation is brought to bear that forces these companies to act not just fiscally responsibly, but ethically as well, no real change will ever be seen in this arena.

Alongside these BIG pharmaceutical companies, you have the FDA. The FDA is ostensibly a government agency that oversees the safety of the food and drugs that are brought into the marketplace. In the past decade or longer, the FDA has begun to pay little more than lip-service to drug testing, food testing, or quite frankly any preventative measures that are put in place to protect people from being hurt by the things big business puts on our store-shelves. There are far too many examples to list here (and I certainly don't want to get sued), so let me just remind you of the enormous number of bad pharmaceutical recalls in recent history. When and why did our government decide that selling out to big business was the best thing for the American people? And why didn't we get a vote on it?

Then, there are the clinical tests. These so-called blind studies are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry themselves. Just look at the fine print on the multiple page booklets that accompany any medications brought to market today and you should be shocked and horrified that people are being given these drugs at all. The tests themselves are often stacked with researchers from the big companies and the doctors that oversee them are bought and paid for, perhaps not with actual cash, but with trips and golf-outings, awards, and dinner banquets. There have been documented cases where physicians' names have been attributed to drug studies that they never even were aware existed.

Now, how do we fix something so very, very, broken? First we start with the pharmaceutical companies. We legislate the living heck out of them until they fall into line. No more excuses about lack of funding for R&D. No more exclusive patents. If another company can manufacture a medication for a more reasonable rate, let them.

Then, let's clean up the insurance industry. Put caps on premiums and deductibles. Stop allowing them to disallow pre-existing conditions. Let patients see the doctors that they choose to see without penalties.

Next, the doctors and hospitals. Let's make them accountable for their costs. Allow them a REASONABLE mark-up for inflation and even a bit of profit, but cut them off, if they try to charge more than what the fair market value is for their equipment and services. It's nice to see a doctor driving away in his brand new BMW, but it's even nicer when my mother can afford her chemotherapy treatments.

Clean up Medicare and Medicaid. Privatize it, if necessary. Just because someone is poor, does not mean that they deserve sub-standard care or no care at all and NO ONE should have the right to send someone to a home for the aged, if there is no medical basis for it. NO ONE.

As a side-bar, it's imperative that patients become smarter consumers. Know what your insurance coverage is and how it affects you. Take advantage of free or cheap preventative measures provided. Get a prostate exam or a mammogram. Know your rights as a patient to refuse or question care. Get second or even third opinions whenever possible. ASK QUESTIONS. Find out what medications your doctor is prescribing and how they might interact with other medications that you may already be taking. Find out what happens to your insurance if the worst should happen and you lose your job. If you are on Medicare or Medicaid, get to know your case-worker. Don't become such a pest that he or she begins to feel irritated by you, but try to be sociable and ask questions of him or her that keep you HUMAN in his or her mind. Get to know your local pharmacist and try to use only one pharmacy. When you get your prescriptions refilled or filled for the first time, ask questions. Find out if he or she thinks that you may have a drug interaction. Doctors are NOT perfect and it cannot hurt to check before taking any medications. Ask if it would cost less or be less effective to use a generic version of the same medication. If a dosage seems wrong to you, ask about it. Doctor's aren't known for legible handwriting and typos can and do happen. Whatever you do, try to never give up hope. A positive attitude can often do more to aid the treatments you are given than anything else. Don't stop treatment to follow a homeopathic remedy, but don't be afraid to try something new in conjunction with a prescribed treatment, as long as there are no anticipated side-effects.

Remember, I'm nobody. I'm you. Not a doctor, not a pharmacist, or insurance adjuster. Just a human being who has to rely on the same flawed system that you do. The only way we can exact change is together. When the President held is 'Open Forum' simultaneously with online questions being fielded, I watched time and again as anyone who asked a single question that did not serve as a public relations tool was ignored. Not a single question of mine was even acknowledged or addresses other than by other online participants who seemed as frustrated as myself. There seems to be a very large segment of this government who seem more interested in de-railing sources of the truth in favor of political propaganda. This troubles me greatly. I am just a layman with an editorial opinion here. We are allowed to have vastly different opinions on a variety of different topics. That's what makes democracy work. When that debate is refused a forum, we're all in such poor shape, that it will take a miracle for things to improve. A single voice can capture the attention of a few, an entire choir commands the attention of all within listening range. Let's be a choir for change, together.
tonyajot: (Default)
I've never considered myself to be particularly naive. Perhaps, that was naive of me. Before delving into the topic below, please be aware that I support all freedom of religion that does not infringe on the rights of others or sublimate the basic human rights of individuals. People can worship giant Chicken-People from the land of Chickendonia for all I care. I also accept that hate speech, such as that espoused by discriminatory and prejudicial groups as a necessary evil, if I am to be assured that my own freedom of speech is not to be curtailed as well. I don't have to like it, listen to it, or support it, but I will stand up for the people's right to say what they will. To paraphrase a great man, who I will stupidly recall the name of later on, free speech is the last bastion of a great democracy.

All this being said, I've never spent much time pondering L. Ron Hubbard or his Church of Scientology other than a few rather ignominious incidents regarding celebrities duking it out (ala Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields). If people want to believe we're all decended from aliens or what have you, no amount of logical, scientific reasoning is going to dispel them from those beliefs. I alternatively believe in the elegant design that only a great Creator could have had a hand in, to agnostism, Paganism, and the ocassional spirl into atheism. The more information I take in, the more evervescent religious concepts become to me. I call myself frequently spiritual and rarely religious. My own personal beliefs tend to lend themselves to the thought that organized religion of any faction or sect have been proven historically to be far more divisive to a population than helpful and have been the tool of politics, used to subjugate specific groups of people, more than to lend a hand to a neighbor in need. If I'm going to be critical, even editorially, about something, I feel it only fair that I share my own potential biases up front.

I am now speaking editorially. That is, it is not my intention to libel, defame, or otherwise legally entangle myself with a group of people with far greater resources and waaaay more followers than I'll ever attain. The following is to be considered my personal opinion and nothing more. I hold the personal belief that The Church of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard were and are bigots, that their closely held beliefs regarding any number of issues are prejudical and discriminatory and that the 'solutions' that are suggested by their own literature are in theory an assault on human rights that is almost unparalleled in human history.

If, as some have suggested, this organization has managed to infiltrate our financial and political system as deeply as has been proposed, it is little wonder why America the Beautiful cannot seem to make even the slightest of strides forward regarding the topic of 'gay rights'.

I seldom like to refer to outside source material, especially that which has not been carefully vetted by myself and has been verified by at least several outside sources. I am about to provide a link for you to follow. What you read, should you go there, should shock and horrify you. It has me. The material in question has been verified to be from original source material and, while it may or may not be taken out of context, the words themselves are quite damning from a civil rights stand point.

From what I garner, in my opinion, the text clearly labels any homosexuals as perverted deviants who need to be quarantined from society and barring that, they must undergo some kind of 'purification ritual' performed by Scientology members to 'cure' them of their illness. I have a pretty strong constitution and an even bigger voice. This, in what my opinion is worse than tripe, makes me throw up in my mouth more than a little bit.

If you are gay or support gay rights, be warned that what you read here may be upsetting.

Go. Read. Think for yourselves. I'm going for some warm gingerale and some saltines. Blecch!


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