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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

September 6, 2023 - Floaters, Debatable Rights, a Trivia Quiz, Drug Ads Revisited, Labor Day, and TV Adverstising

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Is that a bug creeping

Down the wall where I had

Thought Insect sprays and baits

Had rid me of such things?


I turn to look elsewhere

In the room and can see

Its brother making that

Same trail before my eyes.


Or are they all just spots

Before those eyes some call

Floaters that in minutes

Will be just memories.



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Three Highly Debatable Rights

There have always been Americans who believed the most important rights we have are (1) the right to own property in a totally unencumbered manner (before the Civil War, that included owning slaves), (2) the right to take down a government with which they disagree (as was done in 1776), and (3) the right to force others to adhere to a moral code that they follow.  (that’s what those anti-abortion laws passed by State legislatures are all about).

These ideas motivated the country's earliest settlers, and they persist today.  They even played a role in bringing about the Civil War.  A big chunk of our population still thinks that way almost two and a half centuries later. And they vote to preserve these ideas in government, especially at the State level. Telling them to 'Get Over It, You Live in a Democracy' doesn't solve the problem.  We are still seeking a solution.


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Revisiting Drug Advertisements

The previous blog touched upon an ad for a highly advertised drug, Rinvoq.  It is used for several condition, and honestly, I really don't know which one the swim coach in the ad had.  Actually, according to www. drugs.com, Rinvoc is used to treat adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, active psoriatic arthritis, moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease, active ankylosing spondylitis, and active non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis That’s a lot of stuff, more than psoriatic arthritis which affects the skin, which I thought was the coach’s problem. 

The Harvard University Medical School offers a web site keeping an eye on drug ads that appeal directly to consurmers (‘DTC’ drug ads) which is well worth checking out.  The ads don’t always tell everything (including their cost) about the drugs advertised. It can be found at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/harvard-health-ad-watch-what-you-should-know-about-direct-to-consumer-ads-2019092017848 or by CLICKING HERE.  Of course, because these are prescription drugs, discuss their use with the physician prescribing them for you.


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Trivia Quiz #4 – Famous Streets (There might be others similarly named, but try to match up these famous ones with the listed locations.  Eight out of ten is passing.  More than that means you really know your ‘trivia.’)

1.    Pennsylvania Avenue

2.    Beale Street

3.    Sunset Boulevard

4.    Basin Street

5.    The Street Where You Live

6.    Arthur Avenue

7.    Kensington Avenue

8.    Biscayne Boulevard

9.    42nd Street

10. Peachtree Street



a.   New Orleans

b.   NYC (Manhattan)

c.   Miami

d.   Washington

e.   Atlanta

f.     Los Angeles

g.   In the broadway musical, ‘My Fair Lady’

h.   St. Louis, where the ‘Girl Next Door’ lived

i.     NYC (the Bronx)

j.     Memphis


Answers To Trivia Quiz #3, published on August 29.

 1.   Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy (His puppet)

2.   Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn  (His co-star, on and off the screen)

3.   Bud Abbot and Lou Costello (The chubbier of the two comedians)

4.   Rodgers and either Hammerstein or Hart (Broadway lyricists)

5.   Bausch and Lomb (Make optical instruments)

6.   Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Eventually his wife and co-performer)

7.   The Lone Ranger and Tonto (Sidekick)

For those who are interested, Roy Rogers’ horse was ‘Trigger’ and the Lone Ranger’s was named ‘Silver,’ of ‘HI-Yo’ fame.

8.   Penn and Teller (Magicians)

9.   Horn and Hardart (Remember the ‘Automat’ eateries in New York?)

10. Lerner and Loewe (Broadway composer)


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Monday was Labor Day 

Monday was Labor Day, commemorating its first celebration in 1882.  What the labor movement echoed then was based on some of the same ‘economic’ theories expressed by Karl Marx only fifteen years earlier in ‘Das Kapital.’  These summed up the historic exploitation of workers Marx believed was inherent worldwide in the capitalist system, workers whose labor benefited the wealthy and businesses, leaving them to suffer a lifetime of impoverishment.  That still exists in many parts of the world, but to a lesser extent today in Western Europe and the United States. 


Crediting Marx with any these ideas on the first Labor Day in 1882 was already anathema in Europe and the United States because of his earlier work with Frederich Engels in 1848 in their ‘Communist Manifesto,’ that laid out a ‘political’ agenda for reaching the goals their ‘economic’ theories called for. That document’s concluding words, a call to revolution, were frightening to many then, and still are today:  The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite.’  Our labor movement, then and now, avoided, and still avoids, going in that direction. 

Thus, ‘Marxism’ was already a dirty word, not only in this country on the first Labor Day, but in the entire Western world, because of those revolutionary 'political' proposals in the 1848 Communist Manifesto.

Republicans and libertarians today scream out 'Socialism' and 'Communism' whenever our government attempts to do things that directly benefit the majority of the people, identifiable as middle class but none the less, who are today’s workers.  And even our labor movement, as manifested by unions, goes out of its way to oppose any hint of an association with Marx, socialism, or Communism. 

But in 1882, capitalism was undeniably exploiting the workers in this country, and it didn’t take quoting Karl Marx to make that evident.  So they didn’t. 

Not mentioning his name is also a part of the story behind Labor Day.



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Some Thoughts on TV Ads – Read the Small Print

Many of the statements appearing in TV commercials don’t tell the whole story.  To avoid being sued, some of these ads include ‘caveats,’ I suppose warning the consumer who reads them, and hopefully, getting the advertiser off the hook, if someone ever tries to sue them.

The best example are those ads for law firms who are inviting viewers, if they qualify, to join in a class action lawsuit suing a company or other entity for supposed wrongdoing.  These ‘caveats’ are often lengthy, in very small sized type, and just shown on the screen for a few seconds. I believe that no viewer, anywhere in this country, even professional speedreaders, has ever been able to read their content in the time it is on their TV screen. 

Related to these 'lawyer' ads are those in which lawyers are seeking clients who have been in accidents.  Check out the small print in them too. 

There is also a lot of small print in the TV ads for Medicare Advantage plans.  Few viewers ever get past the statement that the advertiser is not a government agency but a private sales organization and do not fully realize that despite any desirable benefits these plans (Medicare Part C) offer, they involve replacing the government’s benefits provided by traditional Medicare Parts A and B with supposedly equal benefits. But they really may not be equal, because Medicare Advantage plans may restrict the hospitals and health care providers an insured may use.

And then there are the pharmaceutical ads for the latest prescription drugs, particularly those which might enable those with certain cancers to live longer.  The small print in those ads usually quotes studies which show a survival rate four or five months longer than that of someone with a particular type of cancer undergoing some other kind of treatment, far shorter than the longer period the cautiously reassuring tone of the advertisement suggests. And while the drug’s possible side effects during those additional months might be mentioned in that small print, these ads don’t mention possible unpleasant lifestyle changes that might be necessary during that period.

And although they don’t include ‘small print,’ I have yet to see a TV ad for reverse mortgages that comes out and says that the mortgagor is really taking out a loan or a series of loans, putting up the equity in their home as collateral for the loan or loans that need not ever be repaid, their cost being the ultimate loss of the home to the mortgagee. Remember, the pitchman in such ads is a paid actor, just as the person who has switched their cancer treatment to gain a few more months of life is, and whose reassuring smile, part of the script, can be bought.



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Housekeeping on Jackspotpourri

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Forwarding Postings: Please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it. Friends, relatives, enemies, etc.

If you want to send someone the blog, exactly as you are now seeing it, with all of its bells and whistles, you can just tell folks to check it out by visiting https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com or by providing a link to that address in your email to them.   I think this is the best method of forwarding Jackspotpourri.

There’s another, perhaps easier, method of forwarding it though!   Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is prepared, makes that possible.  If you click on the tiny envelope with the arrow at the bottom of every posting, you will have the opportunity to list up to ten email addresses to which that blog posting will be forwarded, along with a comment from you.  Each will receive a link to the textual portion only of the blog that you now are reading, but without the illustrations, colors, variations in typography, or the 'sidebar' features such as access to the blog's archives.

Either way will work, sending them the link to https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com, or clicking on the envelope at the bottom of this posting, but I recommend sending them the link. 

Again, I urge you to forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.



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