Saturday, November 28, 2009


Wow! As I'm sipping my coffee I'm hearing about new "apps" -- to run your small business, to run your life. Hey, I need an app on how to get a good night's sleep, not see the clock at 1:30 a.m., 4:10 and 6 :15 a.m. and think about what to write about today.

Apps are the latest got-to-have thing for people with state-of-the-art cell phones. "These days, keeping up with apps can be a full-time job," said Daniel Sieberg, CBS Science reporter on the morning news.

He seemed knowledgeable, nice -- as he gave us the statistics. Two billion apps have been downloaded from Apple's App Store. Back in July 2008, there were just 500 apps. Today there are more than 100,000, including apps to keep lists of your apps.

His guest, the slightly freaky looking, knowledgeable CEO of Tapulous, the maker of "Revenge" games, bragged -- "We're providing mindless distraction -- what I call disruptive technology. Our dozen "Tap Tap Revenge" games put your rhythmic skills to the test in all new ways, as you tap with the beats, or shake left and right as the arrows fall, and you're taking on your friends in the game's head-to-head, two-player mode."

(It sounded like a mindless, disruptive, boring, waste-of-time game to me.)

The not-likable CEO and the nice reporter agreed -- technology was providing innovations that improved our lives, like the automobile did, like the Internet did, and now -- "Ta Ta! -- our every day, more amazing Smartphones.

"Phones with apps are the future," they said at the end of the segment. "Phones are bringing you everything, including friends, social networking, fun and games."

I heated my cold coffee and took a gulp that burned on the way down. It sounded as if we're going to be saying goodbye to books, the few remaining newspapers that haven't gone under, magazines, PC's, even laptops.

Whoa, I'm thinking -- what happens to me -- a proudly up-to-date, skilled, computer literate writer?

I don't have a Blackberry, IPod, IPhone, or any kind of "Smart" phone -- just a dumb cell phone that doesn't work inside our home, and land-lines (thank goodness we've got two of 'em -- one is often out of order, or staticky).

I hit the TV's off button. The broadcast made me feel not good, not merely old-fashioned, but light years behind the times, out-of-date, obsolescent.

I try to stay in the know -- I've read about the latest new things. Some sound good, most sound like non-essential, complicated gizmos, for which I'd need an instruction book, a "help" number, and patience -- waiting in a queue for a techie.

I've read the ads in Facebook, for the games you play with your friends. Click "Farmville," and you're buying a plot of land, planting crops, harvesting, selling them -- earning points you trade, or spend -- when you're playing "Mafia Wars," as a don -- building your business, doing favors for your family, earning points to spent on gifts for your friends, or for yourself.

Whoopee -- you can buy more fish for your virtual aquarium in"Fishville," (the latest new game that got ten million players in ten days ) -- breeding, feeding, selling and trading fish with your friends. Click, and buy whatever you want -- virtual goods -- that's what "Farmville" is actually hawking. (Bargains from Netflix, and other advertisers, with rewards, discounts, inventive incentives for you to buy what they're offering, but most of the time you're charging a lot of nothing on your credit card.)

I can't believe it, but it's true! That's what the game is -- players (an awful lot people), are handing over real money for make-believe merchandise.

... THIS is a game ... ?

Alright, okay -- I guess we're already in the new "World of Today," where rubber is made from dandelions! It is -- guys in Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology & Applied Ecology did it! They switched an enzyme, and they're getting great latex (a fungus is ruining the world's rubber trees).

Phew! All we need now is one of those hats fitted with electrodes, that can monitor brain activity. and enable you to use EEG to send Tweets.

I'm not kidding -- tweeting by thinking has already been done by a University of Wisconsin doctoral student. While wearing that cap, he focused on one flashing letter after another on a computer screen -- he tweeted "USING EEG TO SEND TWEET." ( 23 letters.)

It was slow going -- he can currently do eight characters a minute. How soon he'll be able to do a 140 character Tweet isn't as significant as the fact that the invention is going to help paraplegics.

(In case you haven't noticed -- "Em" is not a fan of Facebook, My Space, or Twitter. I can't even consistently manage to sign in!)

Anyhow, I don't need electrodes in my hat to focus and send this message ... Life without apps and cyberfarming is plenty full, tangibly rewarding, and fun -- as far as I'm concerned.

More stuff? Virtual other stuff? I've got no room, no space, no place -- no use for it.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Picture from last week's Time Magazine.
It's frightening ... not a storm cloud.
It suggests something's in the air ... an odor, some substance, that's not usual, not normal.

A chemical from a factory? A laboratory?

Time Magazine's says "Members of the 'International Cloud Appreciation Society' are buzzing about a new kind of cloud. Known as 'undulatus asperatus,' this ominous-looking formation has been described as resembling a rolling seascape – seen from below."

The Latin words mean "turbulent undulation."

What does it portend? Warmth ?

Hey, gee -- we're on the verge of winter -- spring is months away, isn't it?

I've spent the last few weeks commentatoring -- filling my brain, eyes, ears, each day with new information -- declarations, announcements, hopeful events, and Oh-My-God, where are we heading -- blogging about "Doom," bums rush for Russ, dead M.J's "Thriller," sanitary hands, Dolphins, stripteasers, circumcision, 13 murders, blackouts, Palin, Kennett, MO., mammograms, Psalm 109, 8, 9 ...

I am turbulent, churned up, roiling underneath an infinitely beautiful, scary sky.

I am wondering ... in a whisper ... if ... could we, should we expand my blog, Em'sTalkery into a John Cullum and Emily Frankel podcast? Hmm ... what a scary, beautiful thought ...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


You've seen the news, heard the news, about these four young, good, patriotic, average, men?

They killed/murdered four Iraqis. They're in the United States Disciplinary Barracks, the military prison on our Army post located in Fort Leavenworth, in Leavenworth, Kansas.

They're guilty of a crime, a horrendous shocking crime. They say they had no choice. They feel they had no choice. They were trained to kill, and they killed.

They executed four men. The criminality, the threat from these four dead men – was it real, a true threat, were they enemies, were these four soldiers in danger of losing their lives if they didn't kill the four Iraqis?

That's for the lawyers -- army rules, generals, the pentagon, our laws, our sense of "American Justice," and all those same categories from the Iraqi standpoint.

But four young American soldiers are in prison cells, marked forever, their lives ruined -- their families marked, ruined, also being punished for this crime, and it lays heavy, heavy on my heart.

I can dig up the facts, re-examine them, not take for granted that what I've seen and heard is accurate.

What difference would it make. Each day these soldiers, now civilians, wake and live and spend their hours as criminals in prison.

Knowing their names, ages, names of wives, lawyers, generals, what defense has been offered, what appeals may be in the offing won't make any difference.

It is an American crime, to have been in that war in Iraq, to keep our soldiers in Iraq, protecting or defending or maintaining what America bought and didn't win, in a war we shouldn't have fought.

It's crimes on top of crimes, wrongs that can't be righted, dead soldiers, broken families -- it's winning the war we cannot "win."

It's not over. Mistakes, misconceptions, convictions of many wise men are stacked up like a wall around the idea of WINNING.

We've won sorrow, grief, lost men, spent money that would have helped many Americans be in a better place right now. Yet Win the War is still echoing, louder than anything in men's minds -- men who make decisions for our country.

Stop the war. We lost the war. We're fighting another one like it, that we're losing in the same way.

Bring our soldiers home from Iraq. End the war in Afghanistan. Release and exonerate these four men, who were doing what soldiers are trained to do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My friend Fran and I were talking about the way things are right now -- the news -- worse than ever -- agreeing -- each generation says that, but today we've got leaders, fanatics, crazed people who are capable of pushing a button and destroying the world ...

"Gosh," I said, chuckling, remembering when I was pregnant -- "If I were a mother-to-be .... enceinte -- like Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy ..."

"Gee, Fran," I said, shaking my head, "I wouldn't want to be ... What kind of future would my baby have?"

That was yesterday's conversation.

What about the new bad news about Iran hiding its Nuclear facilities far far below the earth, and the bomb we've developed that finally can penetrate far far below the earth. So, if there's a confrontation with Iran, or North Korea (they've probably got underground Nuclear labs working away), at least we've got a threat -- a chance of stopping them, far far below the earth.

Our Massive Ordnance Penetrator (the Pentagon calls it MOP), has been tested at least once. It's a very large, precision guided, 30,000 pound "bunker buster" that can penetrate -- depending upon the thickness of the reinforced concrete wall, or rock -- 130 to 200 feet.

So, IF they ...... Then we ......

It's the conversation we heard years ago when the atomic age began, that terrified us as children, and made us ask, "Mommy, Daddy, if they -- then will we ... get killed?"

Well, Russia now has the Father of All Bombs. They developed it a couple of years ago, and tested a "Thermobaric Vacuum Bomb"-- 44 tons of TNT / 80,000 pounds.

In the picture you see a mushroom beginning to form -- not forming -- it's not deadly in the way an atomic bomb is.

The Father of All Bombs (FOAB), according to the Russian Chief of staff, will "merely evaporate all that is alive." It's four times as powerful as our MOP, which is now called MOAB, the Mother of All Bombs.

So Russia has, and has tested the most powerful, non-nuclear weapon in the world.

So, we do ... They do ... Then, we do ...

The U.S. Air Force has developed a collection of massive-sized, penetrator and blast weapons. They call it the BIG BLU collection which includes the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst Bomb). They're working on it in Florida.

Last month, ABC News reported that the Pentagon got permission from Congress -- to shift some funding, so they can get the project done right away.

Along with other scary-named weapons -- "Earthquake Bomb," *Grand Slam Bomb," *Tallboy Bomb," "The T-12 Demolition Bomb.'

We're doing more ... they're doing more ...

And the wall of threats is rising.

The Father (FOAB) can be carried on a big bomber, and guided by GPS (Global Positioning System), and the so can the Mother MOAB. They do ... We do ....

Why did the media lay this on us today? Were they running out of terror/murder/death alerts, and figured this would get us riveted to the news all day long? This bomb stuff has been building since 2007, getting more so, accelerating since October of this year.

Why are we bringing children into the world?

What do we do? Tell our younger friends, don't have babies?

I remember how hard it was to fall asleep after Dec 7th. 1941, when we were catapulted into World War II. Now we're in two wars, with other wars looming, and the Mother of All Bombs, and the Father of All Bombs.

Wasn't there a pact, a promise, an alliance, against Nukes? Is that still around, and is that why we've got to have bigger thermo-something-or-other bombs that'll "merely evaporate all that is alive?"

Do we build a bigger MOP? Do we give up the idea that a newborn baby will become a toddler, or go to kindergarten, grade school, high school?

And just live for the moment, and don't make plans for the future?

I've been living and have a good life,, but what about my son, my daughter and their children, what about your son, and your daughter and their children?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Look at what's on that T-shirt.
People are buying it and wearing it.

It's from the Bible, Psalm 109. 8.

"Let his days be few, let another take his office ..."

Some shirts include the next line:

"May his children be orphans and his wife a widow."

Okay ... We've seen and heard the Tea Partiers," and "Birthers."
People shout " Obama's a Muslim." "Obama wasn't born in America." People shout out "You lie!" They talk about "Let's Secede From The Union." People say Obama's a Hitler, He's planning to euthanize our elders. We see pictures of him with his face painted white like the"Joker."

And more, even worse.

Now, a fringe element of the far right Republican Party seems to believe it has a license to incite threatening behavior in the name of God.

They've already called him the "Antichrist."

They've resorted to lies and intimidation, trying to stop every change that he's set in motion.

They're inciting violence, and they've got militias, with angry, unhinged people who are well armed.

Frank Schaeffer, best-selling author of two books on this looming threat, asks, "Has the Craziness hit a new high?" and quotes others who see a direct line from hate talk, to hate language:

"...Centrists like David Gergen are saying that enough is enough. David Gergen said that the racial attacks on Obama are reminiscent of the atmosphere leading to the killing of President Lincoln. Speaking for moderate progressives, Thomas Friedman wrote, in the New York Times, that he saw this same disturbing play of religious hate shortly before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Israel. And Roger Ebert warned of the rise of the fringe in the GOP and how they are undermining democracy..."

On those T-shirts, that you can buy for $16.95 each, that quote from Psalm 109.8, and 9 -- "Let his days be few ... Let his children be orphans and his wife a widow ..." -- the issue is the Fringe people invoking the God we believe in, to act as executioner of those with whom they disagree.

Since the day, the night, thousands gathered in Chicago's Grant Park and rejoiced with tears in their eyes, we've had joy and hope again. Obama won. He's the president. We want to believe that assassinations belong in the past, and the good man we elected will go on being what he is, and doing what he's doing, but can he -- will he be shot down by one of the crazies?

Here's a clip -- Frank Schaeffer and Rachel Maddow. They say what I've said, but say it better.

Monday, November 23, 2009


We have been cajoled, pressured, brain-washed -- educated, thoroughly, carefully taught, warned, reminded -- YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A YEARLY MAMMOGRAM!

Associated Press Featured News quotes the latest, recommendations from the "US Preventative Services Task Force, (USPSTF):

●Women in their 40's do not need yearly mammograms. Dr. Diana Petitti, vice-chairman of the Task Force panel, says benefits are less, the harms are greater if you start in the 40's.

(Huh? So later is better? Um ... what are the "harms?" Are Diana's conclusions based on numbers, like medical costs?)

●Susan Pisano, spokeswoman for America's Insurance Plans, an industry group, says the insurance coverage isn't likely to change because of the new guidelines.

(Um... who is in the industry group? Insurance companies?)

● The Task Force panel says that women 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every other year until they turn 75, after which the risks and benefits are unknown.

(I thought the old guidelines had no "age" limit, and suggested "every year or two. What made them modify this? )

● Value of breast exams by doctors is unknown. And breast self-exams are of no value.

(Does that mean my doctor can't feel a lump? That I can't feel a lump? What about those cards in women's shower-rooms that depict the circular motion we should use to feel for lumps? )

●The latest Issue of Annals of Internal Medicine supports the new recommendations.

●The World Health Organization agrees; It says screening should start at age 50; and be done every two years. Great Britain doctors say every three years.

The American Cancer Society says they're wrong.

Their Chief medical officer, Dr. Otis Brawley, responding to the new guidelines, said, "This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over." And Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, Brawley's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, says "Our concern is that as a result of that confusion, women may elect not to get screened at all. And that, to me, would be a serious problem."

And the AP report on the American Cancer Society and the USPSTF goes on and on:

There are 192,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths from breast cancer expected in the U.S. this year. There are numbers about risk factors -- probabilities of dying of breast cancer in your forties are 3% – ages fifty to seventy, the risk drops to 16% -- five lives will saved per thousand, versus only one death more, if you start screening at forty, but with early screening there will be approximately 470 false alarms -- a huge cost in terms of unneeded biopsies, medical expense, and worry ...

(Expense for whom? Worry? Each year every woman worries as her mammogram looms. Not testing will NOT take away the worry that's been drilled into us for more than thirty years.)

It's a blizzard of information, and I want to know how this new, shocking, turnaround got to be front and center, major, seriously significant, urgent, BIG DEAL NEWS -- bumping Health-care, Obama bowing to an Emperor, Guantanamo, and the Fort Hood Murderer out of the spotlight?

I think it was a couple of facts -- tidbits, life and death statistics with more than a modicum of shock value -- landing -- kerplunk -- on some producer's desk, waking him, jolting him into a "hey, WOW -- this is soap! deodorant! Jenny Craig, Nurtisystem! Olay! Pantene, Revlon, Loreal look-your-best Bowflex, bottom-line bonanza!" And kazoom -- the producer's got this mammogram ball rolling down the money hill!

Whoa ... says Dr. Em, backing out of the way. doing what she's been doing with medical rules in order to survive.

1. I never got yearly mammograms.

2. I don't mention that anyone had breast cancer in my family.

3. I make medical decisions for myself, based on what I've learned.

4. If I'd followed medical advice, I'd be leading a sedentary life, NOT able to dance, eating a limited diet -- no pears, celery, string beans, popcorn, grapes, plums, cherries, apples -- green apples, one of my favorite foods!

5. I checked the USPSTF index on Osteoporosis, Arthritis, and back pain -- subjects I know a lot about -- its conclusions are not directives , they are qualified IFS.

Go with what you feel you ought to do. We're being sold an idea on top of the idea that we already bought. You can't return the old one to the store and get a refund. Your daughter can't get a refund on it, so she'll buy when she's old enough to pick out what she prefers.

Be your own doctor. And have a little laugh ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


What to believe? Whom to believe? Why is this such a big deal? CNN, NBC, AOL, the Associated Press, the NAACP, ACLU, and black leaders from all over the country are in the courtroom.

Heather Ellis is 24. She was arrested almost three ago at Walmart's in Kennett, Missouri, and charged with two felony counts of assaulting police, one count of disturbing the police, one count of resisting arrest.

The Associated Press reports: "Police say in court documents that Ellis refused requests to calm down and leave Walmart's, allegedly kicking and striking policemen, while resisting arrest."

She faces up to 15 years in prison for allegedly cutting into the cashier's line.

In 2007, while still a student in college, Heather Ellis joined her cousin who was already at the front of the cashier's line. Other customers in the line objected.

Did she, or didn't she push aside a white woman's purchases on the conveyor belt? Did the white customer push Ellis first, or was Ellis the one who pushed first? There was a ruckus -- cursing, screaming, fighting. The cashier called the manager who called the police.

Pastor Jesse Bonner of the local NAACP says Police grabbed Heather Ellis's shirt. When she jerked away, they shoved her down. She sustained multiple bruises from the fall, and cuts on her arms from the tightness of the handcuffs. At the station she was made to wear someone's uniform that was soaked in urine. The police report notes that she requested a doctor, and was released to obtain medical attention for her injuries.

The affidavit obtained by the local newspaper tells a very different story. The policeman (in the affidavit) said, "I tried to convey to Heather Ellis, as best I could, that all she had to do was leave peacefully. It was incredibly and abundantly obvious that [she] had absolutely no desire and/or intention of complying.”

According to the affidavit, police attempted to arrest Ellis. She became combative -- struck one officer in the mouth causing it to bleed and kicked the other one, before she was handcuffed.

In "AFRO" (the magazine's Website), in the "New America Media" that bills itself as the "First & Largest Collaboration of Ethnic News Organizations, I read many, many comments by blacks, who strongly voice their belief that Heather did nothing wrong. Also, many, many --remarkably many -- other comments, from blacks who feel she acted over-aggressively -- saying, she's pulling the race card, creating a racial issue.

The case generated a firestorm of national controversy when the Ku Klux Klan sent threatening cards to Ellis family when the Ellis family announced they were holding a rally at the courthouse, two days before the trial began Wednesday, November 19th.

Heather's father, the Rev. Nathaniel Ellis addressed the crowd at the rally. "We are summoned here today from all over America," Ellis said, "because Dr. King, Jr., was right when he said, 'An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' Your presence here today has proved that love is thicker than hate."

"This young lady happens to be my first born daughter. The daughter of a Church of God in Christ pastor who pastors in this town and an adjoining town, who happens to be an educator. We are here to voice our outrage and to publicly say that Heather Ellis is innocent of all bogus charges and I demand that all charges be dropped and her record be expunged."

The crowd of roughly 200 people stood outside in the mist, listening to Rev. Ellis -- in the pauses chanting “No justice, no peace” Counter-protesters, standing across the street, were holding confederate flags with swastikas and skulls, shouting their protests.

Protesters and the counter-protesters are at the courthouse every day.

The attorney who represented Shawn Bell’s wife in a New York courtroom is in the Kennett courtroom. Bell was shot and killed by New York police officers the day before his wedding. Sitting near him is Dr. Boyce Watkins, founder of the "Your Black World Coalition," Professor at Syracuse University, who has told reporters, “We will be watching carefully. We will be pursuing this with the Justice Department of the State of Missouri. We will be calling Attorney General Eric Holder because the case is bigger than Heather Ellis and we know that.”

Ellis is charged with two counts of the Class C felony of assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of the Class B misdemeanor of peace disturbance, and one count of the Class A misdemeanor of resisting arrest.

Class C felony carries a punishment of up to seven years in prison, or one year in jail and a $5000 fine. or jail and a fine. Class B misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to six months in jail, or a $500 fine, or a combination of both. Class A misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to one year in jail, or a $1,000 fine or a combination of jail time and a fine.

Yes -- a storm is brewing in Kennett. The mood of the protesters, the pros and cons are ... well, I feel it's part of the media madness I've been writing about -- the media selling an event in order to sell itself. Also, it's a part of where we're at with a black president whom some people love and others hate and revile.

I think, from all the versions of the story that I've read -- Heather Ellis behaved badly. Her family is making hay while the sun shines. The media are making hay while the sun shines.

The black people's comments give me hope -- that, with our black president, the sing-song of racial injustice is changing. There's less of it, and 1000 percent more awareness of it. And that's good.

No. Don't jail her. Fine her, reasonably. Get apologies from the police and from her, and get the ACLU and NAACP, and the family, and the Dunkin County Police in a picture, with someone saying, thanks to the president and the people of the United States who elected him -- and all them reaching across to each other, shaking hands.

Am I dreaming? Well ... that's what I'm hoping for.