I do not pay attention to many things that are covered in the news, but I do tend to watch what happens in the Balkans.  An article in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal (27-28 January, 2018) covers an ongoing dispute between Greece and Macedonia regarding the latter country’s name. The dispute, because of Greece’s resistance to the use of the name, keeps Macedonia out of NATO and the EU, which severely limits their prospects globally.

Greece claims ownership to the name Macedonia because of its reference to their own region of Macedonia. The WSJ article states that the countries may have reached an agreement which amounts to Macedonia changing or adding to its name- “New Macedonia” is one possibility.  I have been holding on to another idea that may solve the problem for years now.  What if Macedonia just offered Greece a few hundred dollars for the name? I mean, this is Greece ware talking about, and I am sure they could use the money.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

27 January 2018

Happy Birthday Mozart! Born 262 years ago today, there is little question that he was one of the most amazing and gifted musicians who ever lived. Read more about him at Wikipedia.

I make it a point to not pay much attention to what is going on in government- my time is much more valuable. Health care is the one issue that I cannot ignore, at least once a year, as I see my family’s insurance bill rise yet again. This year it was slated to go up another $275 per month- and that would have been for coverage only on the Front Range of Colorado where we live and a few other locations! If we traveled to Utah for example we would not have been covered! If someone can explain the logic behind this, and the legality, I would like to hear it.

For some background, before the ACA- the Affordable Care Act (which I like to call the Affordable Care my Ass act), before health care became affordable, my family had very adequate coverage, a low deductible, low copay, and we were covered wherever we went and whatever we did. We paid about $450 a month for that coverage as part of a small business owners’ group plan.  That plan become illegal under the ACA (not enough money in it for Big Business).

Now that health care has become affordable, to get the same coverage would cost us around $2200 a month.  As it stands, this year we chose a short-term plan, the cheapest option available at about $650 per month.  From my perspective it amounts to nothing more than a payoff to keep the government off our backs, as we essentially have no health care. We have a very high deductible, no copay, and nearly everything is paid out of pocket. Basically none of us will go to a doctor this year. But at least we are “covered” beyond our own back yard. If we are injured on a trip outside of Colorado, we do have “coverage”, whatever that means.

 

 

 

I love coffee.  Bosanska Kafa, right from Bosnia and Herzegovina especially.

Sunday morning Bosnain coffee

Sunday morning Bosnian coffee.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that Facebook has acknowledged that use of its service can be harmful to mental health, explaining the vacancy, disinterest, and general ennui so pervasive in society today. Studies outside of Facebook found using the service but failing to interact with other humans face to face- not being able to process the information adequately and properly-  had negative effects on mental health. Imagine that. Facebook countered with their own, internal research that showed the answer to such lack of interaction with others and said negative mental effects could be remedied by, are you ready for this, spending more time of Facebook! I will keep my eyes open for the publication of their future studies. Perhaps they will join with the tobacco industry and find that smoking is actually healthy once again. Or maybe they will start peddling alcohol and drugs to their… users. Hey kids, remember that users are losers! Don’t use drugs! (Or Facebook.)

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic has been sentenced to life in prison. Reports state that he was “fighting” till the end, being disruptive, and flew into a tirade before the verdict was read. He was convicted on 10 of the 11 counts against him, more than 20 years after the fact. In an interview on the BBC a survivor of Srebrenica pointed out that it would have been more fitting, more prudent, and certainly more meaningful had the verdict been handed down 10 or 20 years ago. Either way, justice has finally been served.

Read more about the verdict at the Radio Free Europe website. For full information on the trial, see the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia website. If you are unfamiliar with the Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkans, the former Yugoslavia and the war they endured there after the fall of the Soviet Union, see my recent post for some background.

Food for thought from the Dalai Lama:

“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” – Dalai Lama (Seattle Times, 05-15-2001).