Flowers #39A

The Columbine flower (scientific name: Aquilegia (Latin for eagle)), is a genus of flowers that consists of 60-70 species of plants that in nature are found in meadows and woodlands throughout the northern hemisphere.  These hardy perennials grows to a height of 15-20 inches and will grown in full sun, although they prefer partial shade and a well-drained soil.  Columbines come in a wide range of vivid colors and serve as food to many insects and butterflies.  Many Columbine flowers have very unique, distinctive petals (for an example see my previous post Flowers #170C).  One minor issue concerning these flowers is that they are not a long living plant, dying off after just a few years.

I have posted these three photographs (Flowers #39A, 40A & 40B) individually and not as a slideshow in order to post them to the size shown.  I have also yet to figure out what is causing the uploaded photographs to look slightly askew when viewing the finished posting.  This is not the case of the actual photograph scanned onto my computer (yes, I still proudly shoot film) nor when I first upload them to my WordPress.com blog page.  Again, I am sometimes embarrassed by the final product, as it appears that I care very little by their actual appearance.  As a neat freak and a perfectionist (both a blessing and a curse), this is far from the truth.

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #40A

The Columbine flower (scientific name: Aquilegia (Latin for eagle)), is a genus of flowers that consists of 60-70 species of plants that in nature are found in meadows and woodlands throughout the northern hemisphere.  These hardy perennials grows to a height of 15-20 inches and will grown in full sun, although they prefer partial shade and a well-drained soil.  Columbines come in a wide range of vivid colors and serve as food to many insects and butterflies.  Many Columbine flowers have very unique, distinctive petals (for an example see my previous post Flowers #170C).  One minor issue concerning these flowers is that they are not a long living plant, dying off after just a few years.

I have posted these three photographs (Flowers #39A, 40A & 40B) individually and not as a slideshow in order to post them to the size shown.  I have also yet to figure out what is causing the uploaded photographs to look slightly askew when viewing the finished posting.  This is not the case of the actual photograph scanned onto my computer (yes, I still proudly shoot film) nor when I first upload them to my WordPress.com blog page.  Again, I am sometimes embarrassed by the final product, as it appears that I care very little by their actual appearance.  As a neat freak and a perfectionist (both a blessing and a curse), this is far from the truth.

Steven H. Spring

 

 

 

 

Flowers #40B

The Columbine flower (scientific name: Aquilegia (Latin for eagle)), is a genus of flowers that consists of 60-70 species of plants that in nature are found in meadows and woodlands throughout the northern hemisphere.  These hardy perennials grows to a height of 15-20 inches and will grown in full sun, although they prefer partial shade and a well-drained soil.  Columbines come in a wide range of vivid colors and serve as food to many insects and butterflies.  Many Columbine flowers have very unique, distinctive petals (for an example see my previous post Flowers #170C).  One minor issue concerning these flowers is that they are not a long living plant, dying off after just a few years.

I have posted these three photographs (Flowers #39A, 40A & 40B) individually and not as a slideshow in order to post them to the size shown.  I have also yet to figure out what is causing the uploaded photographs to look slightly askew when viewing the finished posting.  This is not the case of the actual photograph scanned onto my computer (yes, I still proudly shoot film) nor when I first upload them to my WordPress.com blog page.  Again, I am sometimes embarrassed by the final product, as it appears that I care very little by their actual appearance.  As a neat freak and a perfectionist (both a blessing and a curse), this is far from the truth.

Steven H. Spring

 

 

 

 

Is President Obama To Blame For Outrageous Health Care Insurance And Medical Treatment Cost Increases?

Is it fair to place total blame on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul legislation, “The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act” (i.e., ObamaCare), for the outrageous cost of both health care insurance and medical treatment as both Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the Republican propaganda machine (i.e., the Fox News Network) are so to quick to do?  To blame the high cost of health insurance and treatment on the president’s attempt at giving all Americans affordable health insurance is a little like placing all blame on Santa Claus for the hideous gift you received last Christmas.  The rapid growth of health care spending has increased at a slower rate during the past two years than any other time over the past five decades.

As a nation, Americans pay twice as much yet receive half the health care benefits as that of all other developed countries.  Life expectancy in the United States ranks number fifty in the world.  With health care costs having risen more than one hundred and thirty percent between 1999 and 2009, it is this fact that is at the core of the problem.  From 2000 to 2009, profits for the ten largest insurance companies had increased two hundred and fifty percent, ten times faster than the rate of inflation.  Since 2008, the five largest health insurance companies had a combined profit of $12.2 billion, up fifty-six percent.

Part of the problem with our health care system is that doctors now routinely own the very clinics and labs in which they refer their patients for treatment and tests.  The Institute of Medicine estimates that unnecessary medical care costs this country more than two hundred billion dollars a year.  From 1996 through 2010, the number of ultrasounds performed has doubled, the number of CT scans has tripled and the number of MRIs has quadrupled.  Chemotherapy has been found to work on only three to five percent of the patients who undergo it, thus ninety-five percent receive no actual benefit but get both the toxicity poisoning and the bills.

The Institute of Medicine has also estimated that seventy-five billion dollars in insurance fraud is committed every year and nearly two hundred billion dollars are wasted each year in excessive administration costs.  Then there is the cost of our prescription medication.  Americans pay twice what Canadians do for the very same drugs.  It wasn’t all that long ago that local news was reporting on the busloads of senior citizens driving up to Canada to get their meds.  So many, that the FDA issued a report informing us of the hazards of taking medication purchased across the border, despite the fact that the very same pharmaceutical companies were manufacturing them.

With nearly fifty million Americans without health insurance, these uninsured people receive their health care via hospital emergency rooms, which compounds the problem in that this is the most expensive method of receiving treatment.  President Obama should be given credit for trying to insure all citizens have adequate health care.  As a nation, we should be ashamed of this statistic.

Steven H. Spring

 

 

 

 

What Is Mitt Romney’s Actual Effective Tax Rate?

When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney finally released his second year’s worth of tax returns, there was an uproar over the fact that Mr. Romney paid just a fourteen percent federal income tax rate, much lower than most working Americans all the while earning $13.7 million and paying $1.9 million in federal tax for the year ended 2011.  What was somewhat interesting was that Romney claimed a charitable deduction of only $2.25 million despite actually donating more than $4 million.  For what reason could Romney possibly have for not taking the entire charitable contribution?  The only possible explanation was if he had taken the total $4 million deduction, his effective tax rate would have been an astounding nine percent.  It is for this very reason why George W. Romney, Mitt’s father, stated during his unsuccessful 1968 presidential campaign that he was releasing twelve years worth of tax returns because one or two years could be an abnormality.

I forget which candidate stated not long ago that “I don’t pay more than legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.  I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”  Oh yeah, it was Mitt Romney.  By his own standards, Mitt Romney is unqualified to be the president of the United States.  I guess he changed his mind on this issue too.  In a sadly ironic twist to his 2011 tax return, Mr. Romney could still deduct the entire charitable contribution by amending his taxes during the next three years.  It would not surprise me one bit if Mr. Romney has already filed an amended return for calendar year 2011, claiming the entire $4 million charitable deduction.

However, compounding the injustice concerning Mr. Romney’s lack of paying his fair share of taxes, is that by claiming his entire $13.7 million as capital gains, he is legally obligated to pay absolutely no social security tax, which is currently 7.65% of one’s income (6.2% FICA tax and 1.45% Medicare tax), thus greatly reducing his real effective federal tax.  Why should Mr. Romney pay a payroll tax when, in his own words he is “unemployed?”  It is because his fellow barons and titans of Wall Street report their working earnings as capital gains as well, thus avoiding a tax that the working class is compelled to pay in addition to paying an income tax rate far less than most working men and women.  Not only do these millionaires avoid paying their fair share of income tax, but their corporations also avoid paying the employer share of the payroll tax as well, costing the U.S. treasury who knows how much in greatly needed revenue.  I guess the golden rule is indeed true, he who has the gold, makes the rules!

Steven H. Spring

What’s Wrong With The U.S. Presidential Debates?

Why are the U.S. presidential debates so tedious to watch when there is so much riding on the outcome?  Why are these debates so gosh darn uninspiring, so much so that most Americans do not watch when just the opposite should be the attained goal?  Why are these question and answer sessions called debates when in all actuality there is very little, if any debating going on?  The audiences are warned at the start of each debate that applause is completely prohibited.  The audiences are allowed to applaud only when both candidates enter the television studio and then at the conclusion of the debate.  There are no momentum swings, no home-party advantage, no heart nor any soul to these nearly scripted conversations.  Tonight’s debate will be a question and answer session with the audience.  However, both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will have rehearsed their canned answers to any possible question well in advance.  To call these political discussions debates is a little like calling fast food fine cuisine.

One of the greatest all-time memorable moments in presidential debate history occurred in 1988 when Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas remarked to Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy.  I knew Jack Kennedy.  Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  The crowd reaction was a combination shock, roar and rambunctious applause.  This is what is greatly lacking with the current setup.  Compared to round one of Barack Obama-Mitt Romney, the Joe Biden-Paul Ryan debate was a boisterous affair.  Martha Raddatz was a great moderator, intelligent and very well-informed.  Republican consultant and former McCain-Palin senior adviser Steve Schmidt, a Republican I greatly respect said it best just moments after the debate ended; “It was a fiery debate!”  What would have been a truly entertaining debate this election season would be Vice-President Biden going up against Mr. Romney.

I am not implying that we need some sort of Jerry Springer/Maury Povich style confrontation; however, these debates are truly absent of any signs of enthusiasm, compassion, heart and soul.  What these debates truly lack is any sign of humanity.

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #320A, 321A, 322A, 323A, 324B, 325A & 327A

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These lilies were located in the partial shade of a small tree.  As such, I wasn’t sure if there was enough adequate lighting.  The next day, I went back to my neighbor’s yard to re-shoot them using a flash.  That roll of film has yet to be developed (yes, I still proudly shoot film).  If those photos are more spectacular than these, I will post them at a later date.

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family.  There are many plants that have lily in their common name, however, not all are true lilies.  Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies.  True lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climatic regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although the range can extend into the northern subtropics as well.  This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow.  They are not especially particular about soil type nor pH level.  Their only requirement is well-drained soil.  Lilies grow best in full sun, however they may thrive in partial sun as well.  An interesting fact about this plant is that most lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

Steven H. Spring