From Muse to Reality

Fiction, Politics and Essays


2 Comments

Dear Senator

Honorable Richard Durbin,

Keeping up with the news, several issues have troubled me.

The Department of Labor said Illinois’ unemployment rate is 8.6% (rarely to they report unemployment among people of color, which is generally more than 3 times higher). Also bothersome is the reduction in the food stamp program (hidden the Farm Bill). Hanging in the balance is denial of continued emergency unemployment compensation benefits will rock this nation.

“Worse, a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts projected Illinois would be dead last among 50 States for job creation in 2014.”

How is it possible that this “Great Nation” can be so callus?

I will listen very closely to President Obama‘s State of the Nation speech this evening, but I must say in advance, he cannot run this nation alone.

Retired but still connected.

~~~ 0 ~~~


2 Comments

AGING AND HEALTH: Different Views

Aging and Health: Different views

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/why-i-hope-to-die-at-75/379329/

Ezekiel Emanuel.

“OpEd in The Atlantic” Excerpts

September 2014

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90.

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

Let me be clear about my wish. I’m neither asking for more time than is likely nor foreshortening my life. Today I am, as far as my physician and I know, very healthy, with no chronic illness. I just climbed Kilimanjaro with two of my nephews. So I am not talking about bargaining with God to live to 75 because I have a terminal illness. Nor am I talking about waking up one morning 18 years from now and ending my life through euthanasia or suicide. Since the 1990s, I have actively opposed legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. People who want to die in one of these ways tend to suffer not from unremitting pain but from depression, hopelessness, and fear of losing their dignity and control. The people they leave behind inevitably feel they have somehow failed. The answer to these symptoms is not ending a life but getting help. I have long argued that we should focus on giving all terminally ill people a good, compassionate death—not euthanasia or assisted suicide for a tiny minority.

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.

Americans may live longer than their parents, but they are likely to be more incapacitated. Does that sound very desirable? Not to me.

This was confirmed by a recent worldwide assessment of “healthy life expectancy” conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The researchers included not just physical but also mental disabilities such as depression and dementia. They found not a compression of morbidity but in fact an expansion—an “increase in the absolute number of years lost to disability as life expectancy rises.”

~~~0~~~

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/what-happens-when-we-all-live-to-100/379338/

If life-expectancy trends continue, that future may be near, transforming society in surprising and far-reaching ways.

Gregg Easterbrook
Excerpts

September 17, 2014

Should research find a life-span breakthrough, the proportion of the U.S. population that is elderly—fated to rise anyway, considering declining fertility rates, the retirement of the Baby Boomers, and the continuing uplift of the escalator—may climb even more. Longer life has obvious appeal, but it entails societal risks. Politics may come to be dominated by the old, who might vote themselves ever more generous benefits for which the young must pay. Social Security and private pensions could be burdened well beyond what current actuarial tables suggest. If longer life expectancy simply leads to more years in which pensioners are disabled and demand expensive services, health-care costs may balloon as never before, while other social needs go unmet.

Postwar medical research has focused on specific conditions: there are heart-disease laboratories, cancer institutes, and so on. Traditional research assumes the chronic later-life diseases that are among the nation’s leading killers—cardiovascular blockage, stroke, Alzheimer’s—arise individually and should be treated individually. What if, instead, aging is the root cause of many chronic diseases, and aging can be slowed? Not just life span but “health span” might increase.

Drugs that lengthen health span are becoming to medical researchers what vaccines and antibiotics were to previous generations in the lab: their grail. If health-span research is successful, pharmaceuticals as remarkable as those earlier generations of drugs may result. In the process, society might learn the answer to an ancient mystery: Given that every cell in a mammal’s body contains the DNA blueprint of a healthy young version of itself, why do we age at all?

~~~0~~~

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/

Olga Khazan
Excerpts

October 8, 2014

Why Americans Are Drowning in Medical Debt

Healthcare is the number-one cause of personal bankruptcy and is responsible for more collections than credit cards.

After his recent herniated-disk surgery, Peter Drier was ready for the $56,000 hospital charge, the $4,300 anesthesiologist bill, and the $133,000 fee for orthopedist. All were either in-network under his insurance or had been previously negotiated. But as Elisabeth Rosenthal recently explained in her great New York Times piece, he wasn’t quite prepared for a $117,000 bill from an “assistant surgeon”—an out-of-network doctor that the hospital tacked on at the last minute.

It’s practices like these that contribute to Americans’ widespread medical-debt woes. Roughly 40 percent of Americans owe collectors money for times they were sick. U.S. adults are likelier than those in other developed countries to struggle to pay their medical bills or to forgo care because of cost.

California patients paid more than $291,000 for the procedure, while those in Arkansas paid just $5,400.

Earlier this year, the financial-advice company NerdWallet found that medical bankruptcy is the number-one cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. With a new report out today, the company dug into how, exactly, medical treatment leaves so many Americans broke.

Another contributing factor is that hospitals charge wildly different amounts for the same procedures. In the most extreme example NerdWallet analyzed, the highest charge for an inpatient stay for severe intestinal bleeding was 54 times higher than the lowest charge. At most, California patients paid more than $291,000 for the procedure, while those in Arkansas paid just $5,400.

It’s worth noting that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and Medicaid expansion might alleviate some of this debt strain over the coming years. But otherwise, patients have few options beyond attempting to research hospital charges ahead of time—which is probably the furthest thing from a person’s mind when they are most in need of a hospital.

~~~0~~~
Links are from The Atlantic. The operative word in all these articles is AGING.

My side note: When I was bleeding internally researching hospital costs was the furthest from my mind. All I understood was I was hemorrhaging and needed help immediately.

Minnie E. Miller
Writer, Essayist on social reform

http://msminerva.wordpress.com/

minniemiller247@gmail.com
minnie247@sbcglobal.net

draft of edit


Leave a comment

Publishers Weekly Tips on writing

Re-blogged from Publishers Weekly

Notes from PW’s Tubler.com/

October 3, 2014
PW’s 5 Writing Tips

Our ongoing series, 5 Writing Tips, now has 9 iterations from the most respected and talented practitioners of the craft. Here are all the posts we’ve done (so far). Click the author’s name to see the full article.

[Sorry, not included here. Go to the website for links.]

Jane Smiley: “My favorite thing to remember about novel-writing is an observation I saw taped to a friend’s wall in her office in graduate school: “Nobody asked you to write that novel”. Therefore novel-writing is a choice—you can always stop, always keep going.”

Dinaw Mengestu: “Be generous to your characters: kill them, save them, break their hearts and then heal them. Stuff them with life, emotions, histories, objects and people they love, and once you’ve done that, once they are bursting at the seams, strip them bare.”

Paul Harding: “Don’t write your books for people who won’t like them. Give yourself wholly to the kind of book you want to write and don’t try to please readers who like something different.”

Tana French: “Kill the dream sequence.”

Max Brooks: “Drafts. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank page. Writing in drafts helps to diffuse some of that pressure. My rough draft has one goal; to write “The End.” I have the next 200-300 drafts to make it good.”

Laini Taylor: “Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh. This is not wishy-washy, polite, drinking-tea-with-your-pinkie-sticking-out stuff. It’s who you want to be, your most powerful self.”

Blake Bailey: “Be funny.”

Chelsea Cain: “Write the stuff that makes you feel nervous.”

Mary Sharratt: “Research remains ongoing, in parallel with my writing until I reach the final page proofs—just in case I’ve missed any tiny detail.”
“Nabokov’s handwritten margin notes on Jane Austen.”

[Ha! Looks like my first drafts.]

Featured image

Everylittlebithelps…

Peace and Love
Minnie E. Miller
Writer, Essayist on social reform

http://msminerva.wordpress.com/

minniemiller247@gmail.com
minnie247@sbcglobal.net


4 Comments

Love of Writing

March 9, 2014

Primarily you must be in love with writing. Like most love affairs, it will have its difficulties. You will laugh, cry, starve yourself, and lose sleep over writing. You must also watch your temper when you receive your edits back. They are necessary to improve, not slander, your work. I feel for the brave souls who write their butts off, work day (or night) jobs, and rise raise families.

A bit about Minnie E. Miller, the writer: I have self-published three books (2 of them novels). I do not have an agent. I only shopped my first manuscript and received 10 rejections out of 30 queries. It was clear to me that at age 56, I could not wait for a publisher.

My first book consists of three short stories titled “Catharsis” (published March 2003). One reviewer was woeful, but congratulated me on the clean, clear writing. She said I had a “voice.” Damn, I thought.  Guess that’s good to know. There is so much emphasis put on finding “your voice.”

The first story in “Catharsis” is about two vampires rescuing slaves from plantations. Of course, Moses is the name I gave the driver of the horse and wagon delivering escaped slaves to the Underground Railroad. Most readers enjoyed it and wanted more. The second, a vampire love story–uh-huh, they love too –, and the third a paranormal contemporary love story. Many said the love story is also too short. As I said, this was my first self-published book. I have had a professional editor from the beginning of my writing career; IMO, this is very important.

My second novel is “The Seduction of Mr. Bradley” (published November 29, 2006). I tried writing it from a female POV, but Mr. Bradley was not having it. He stole the show with his struggle to change his lifestyle after he meets and falls in love with a straight, beautiful lady. Yet, he still loved his paramour/father image. He straddles the so-called fence, not sure if he wants to change. If you name your books according to your feelings about them, I call this one, My Baby. Allow me to brag here. I believe this novel was before its time.

Mr. Bradley was not an easy story to write. I felt the need to get into his head and heart at the same time. A lot of research went into bisexual men. When I asked to interview them for this story, none came forward. Most of the information came from gay men and my personal experience. (That’s another book.) During my research, I learned bisexuals deal with pressure from both sides of the lifestyle – some women generally felt they are simply cheaters. Gay men said bisexuals are gay, just in the so-called closet. Interesting thought, there are many bisexual career men, CEOs.

“The Seduction of Mr. Bradley” is also an eBook.

The third novel, “Whispers from the Mirror” (published 11/29/2006), is also close to my heart and contain streams of my life. It, however, is not a tell-all. I believe all writers have a bit of their lives mixed in their stories. It’s only natural — most everyone has lived through a wealth of experiences that sit in their subconscious. Most waiting for a word or a thought to attach to a story. For me, that’s one of the pleasures of writing — bringing alive those subconscious thoughts.

The protagonist in “Whispers,” Brianna, is an activist hiding behind a mask of feminism. She realizes at age 52 that she has been living in her mother’s shadow for years and needs to know more about the older Brianna. “The Mirror” in her bathroom shows Brianna her life, insists she must change. She must open her heart to love or she will die a lonely woman.

My writing career includes fiction, essays, and highly political articles. Moreover, when I feel it necessary, I send emails to President Obama, my Senator, and U.S. Representative in Congress. You might say I am a lobbyist for children and the poor. Nevertheless, I do not pay for political help, nor am I paid for my activism.

I cannot express strongly enough how important it is to keep writing; anything, anywhere, and about anything (but not in the bathtub, that doesn’t work too well), if you have chosen writing as a career. Write with value and purpose. Keep up with the literary world and our Nation – always have your say in both worlds.

After running from city-to-city and outside the United States, trying to shake a deeply painful relationship, I returned to Chicago, Illinois, aged and wiser. Now my days are devoted to writing and reading. Oh, and trying to understand this thing called aging.

Peace…
Minnie E Miller
Writer, Essayist, and Humanist

http://msminerva.wordpress.com/

minnie247@sbcglobal.net

minniemiller247@gmail.com

 


Leave a comment

Spies of Mississippi

Bob Edwards Weekend, February 9, 2014, featured civil rights issues. Below is part of the information to be aired on PBS this Monday.
 
Please allow me to add that I read the book (in 1965), “Three Lives For Mississippi,” by William Bradford Huie, a reporter. I still possess this book. Huie writes about the murder of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, young students who came to Mississippi to assist Negroes in the deliberately constrained voting process. Huie summed up his feelings in “A Personal Word.”
 
“Even those citizens who fear Negroes voting are beginning to understand that the Nobel Prize was won for Martin Luther King by Bull Connor and George Wallace … that passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was helped by George Wallace and Byron de la Beckwith … and that the Civil Rights Bill of 1965 is the handiwork of Wallace, Sheriff Jim Clark’s posse, and the murderers of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman.
 
Successful revolutions, it appears, are made as much by their opponents as by their proponents.”
William Bradford Huie
March 29, 1965
~~~ 0 ~~~
 
I’m anxious to see Spies of Mississippi on PBS Monday.
 
From The Bob Edwards Weekend Show
HOUR TWO:   In the mid-1950s, the government of Mississippi created the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a secret organization that spied on Civil Rights activists.  Director Dawn Porter’s documentary, Spies of Mississippi, tells its history and airs February 10th on the PBS series Independent Lens. http://www.bobedwardsradio.com/bob-edwards-weekend/
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
Minnie E. Miller

http://msminerva.wordpress.com/ minnie247@sbcglobal.net minniemiller247@gmail.com


Leave a comment

Then and Now 2014

Originally posted on From Muse to Reality:

 

Then and Now

By Minnie E. Miller and countless others.

This work is based on historical events, facts, and today’s affairs.

I have been watching this case progress up to the jailing of George Zimmerman, and release on bond. He is (or) was a Sanford, FL volunteer, 28, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, 17, during an altercation on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman says Martin attacked him and he shot Martin in self-defense citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. This law gives broad legal protection to anyone who used deadly force because of fear of death or great bodily harm. The shooting did not come to the attention of the media for two months after the parents of Trayvon complained that Zimmerman killed their son, who was unarmed.

Bruce A. Dixon, April 4, 2012: The murder of Trayvon Martin by a vigilante and son of a retired Florida judge has sparked more media heat, more column inches…

View original 1,271 more words


3 Comments

Then and Now 2014

 

Then and Now

By Minnie E. Miller and countless others.

This work is based on historical events, facts, and today’s affairs.

I have been watching this case progress up to the jailing of George Zimmerman, and release on bond. He is (or) was a Sanford, FL volunteer, 28, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, 17, during an altercation on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman says Martin attacked him and he shot Martin in self-defense citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. This law gives broad legal protection to anyone who used deadly force because of fear of death or great bodily harm. The shooting did not come to the attention of the media for two months after the parents of Trayvon complained that Zimmerman killed their son, who was unarmed.

Bruce A. Dixon, April 4, 2012: The murder of Trayvon Martin by a vigilante and son of a retired Florida judge has sparked more media heat, more column inches, and more protest marches than anything since, well, the murder of Troy Davis only a few months ago. The fact is that literally millions of people have prayed, demanded, forwarded emails, shown up at meetings, marched in the streets and searched for concrete ways to contribute to changing the system that killed Davis, Martin and will continue to kill countless others.

Don R. Barbera, April 2012: My first move would be to sue the Republican Party for incitement. Since the infamous Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon, the GOP has played the race card to bring disaffected whites to the voting booth by playing on white fears. They admitted as much a decade ago and they still do it. It is the same as yelling “fire” in a theater and someone gets trampled to death. They have incited, cajoled and encouraged racist thinking and should have seen something like this happening, therefore, they have been reckless and endangered the lives of homosexuals, blacks, women, and Latinos. Although not directly responsible, they have created an atmosphere that made it okay to act out. They are accessories before and after the fact.

Now, to the “just us” legal system. It is a fact that more black men are in prison than ever before. Hispanics are a close second. The death penalty is administered unfairly especially if a black man murders a white.

 I have no sympathy for any criminal, but meeting a prison payroll isn’t on the list of things any prison system should be concerned with. The list of things wrong with the American justice system cannot be lucidly discussed in just a few paragraphs, but it is fair to say that it is horribly misaligned and criminal in and of itself.

Dixon: What would a real movement for justice in the wake of Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin look like? How can we actually engage the authorities, and the Obama administration with concrete demands to prevent the next Trayvon Martins?

Malcolm X, April 3, 1964: “The question tonight as I understand it, is, “The Negro Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here?” or “What Next?” In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet.”

Yours truly, April 2012: Our younger generation doesn’t understand what’s going on. It is imperative that they read about their history. I can image how confused and frightened that son must have felt facing a gun without reason.

Parents have had to deal with issues without reasons other than what modern-day media and activists say. Parents and their kids need to understand the mind set of individuals attacking our kids, young men today, and why. They need to understand that it is a learned attitude, rote thinking, innate in some American Caucasians’ mind over 200 years ago.

Douglass: These then-called Trade Slavers kidnapped Black individuals and complete families from their homeland, brought them by ships to America, and sold them as chattel.

“Oh, be warned! Be warned! A horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away; and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!”

Dixon: The black political class has nothing to offer here because they too are deeply tied to the prison state, and to the corporate interests that profit from it.

Barbera: Prison systems becoming privatized is a case of the fox guarding the hen house. It presents serious opportunity for corruption. A private prison doesn’t make money without prisoners. How do they get prisoners? From the “just us” system come the majority of prisoners, that are sentenced by mostly white judges and juries.

Dixon: While they will admit that the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin and the state sanctioned murder of Troy Davis are distinct threads in a seamless garment, their advocacy remains limited to a handful of exemplary cases. The last thing they want to see is a movement independent of them and of the two parties emerge on this or any issue. The last thing they want to hear are concrete demands for real change, demands they are prepared neither to make or to deal with themselves.

Douglass: “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to Him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

“Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for republicans?” Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood?…To do so would be to make myself ridiculous and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”

“What, then, remains to be argued?”

There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”

“The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them.”

“In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenseless, and diabolical intent, this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. . . . I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute book.”

“Long-established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness.”

Yours truly: The Obama Administration is fighting to open doors to affordable, higher education. Then it will be our move.

In 2012, America continued to struggles with brief pains of lynching (yes, lynching), lack of higher education, sexism, and prejudice. Many Americans—Black, Negro, brown and Caucasian—are slowly slipping into poverty.

“It’s been a long time comin’ but I know a change is gonna come. Oh yes it will.”

~ ~ Sam Cook

NOTES

> Bruce A. Dixon, Managing Editor, Black Agenda Reports.

> Don R. Barbera, a print journalist—wrote for several major newspapers, serving as his own photojournalist—and a researcher/writer concerned with social issues, the quality of life, and the pursuit of knowledge.

> Malcolm X, April 3, 1964 at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. “The Ballot or The Bullet,” Great Speeches by African Americans, Dover Thrift Editions, Edited by James Daley.

> Minnie E Miller, (Yours truly), Founder of Mz Minerva Publishing, Writer, Essayist & Humanist.

I have not altered or corrected the words of individuals.

Minnie E Miller

Mz Minerva Publishing Writer, Essayist & Humanist minniemiller247@gmail.com

minnie247@sbcglobal.net

https://www.amazon.com/author/minniemiller

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.