Thursday, December 30, 2010


As the year draws to a close it is time for Joyce's Take to look back at 2010 in our annual "Year in Review."
Ahh, since we didn't do one last year this is actually our first one. Well let's hope to make this a yearly tradition, and hope nothing happens tomorrow that is important enough to be included in this post, so I'm calling for a worldwide day of inaction.
Now you may be surprised to learn that there were a whole bunch of things that happened during 2010 that are not included in this post. I'm surprised too! But I try to make these posts manageable to take in (read) on a daily business, with the average length around 1, 000 words. Quite often it's a little bit more than that, sometimes quite a bit more when I get carried away, or there's just so much information that needs to be included. This will probably be one of those posts. I don't know, I haven't written it yet. Let's find out, shall we?
I've included some of what I consider the major stories of the year, deaths of individuals that were of particular importance to me, or influenced me in some way, and a few things that happened to people I know, or friends of Joyce's Take.
2010 has been a year of personal growth for me. Two whole inches. There's been a few setbacks in the country as a whole, but we've made some gains as well. That's how life is sometimes. I hope 2010 was a prosperous year for you dear readers. It hasn't been for too many of us.
And I hope 2011 is a better one for all of us.
Well let's get started shall we?
We might as well start with January.


The year stated off poorly with a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti at seven minutes to five o'clock on the afternoon of Jan. 12th, one of the poorest countries in the world, and one of the lest prepared for this catastrophe. The government estimated that 230,000 people were killed, 300,000 injured, and over a 1,000,000 made homeless. They also estimated that 250,000 homes and 30,000 businesses had collapsed or were severely damaged. It was the region's worst quake in 200 years. Today, due to the country’s abysmal roads and lack of adequate health centers cholera is killing at least one person every 30 minutes.

On January 21 democracy died in the United States of America...
...when the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision ruled that corporations had the same rights as people (but not the responsibilities) and that money equaled free speech, in the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission case. The conservative "activist judges" paved the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections, even foreign corporations, thus allowing them unduly influence in the election process. The Republican Party, the Corporate Party believed to be the major beneficiary of this decision, approved the ruling claiming it was a victory for free speech. The President during his State of the Union Address, said, "Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities." It is unclear how much influence this ruling had on the November 2010 midterm elections as any and all money the Republicans raised seemed to be matched by Democratic donations. We shall see.

On Jan 27 one of my favorite authors (The Catcher in the Rye, Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters, 9 Stories), Jerome David Salinger died at his home in New Hampshire of "natural causes." He was 91 years old.

Some of us from both hotels also went on our first bowling expedition to Pasadena on that day, with case managers Paul and Erin.

They lost.

On January 29, Scott Roeder was found guilty of the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. This was a clear signal to the so-called "right to life" crowd that it is not okay to kill people in their efforts to protect the rights of embryos.


On February 2nd, my lovely case manager and I had breakfast at the International House of Pancakes due to the fact that I had won the Case Management Appointment Contest.

I was the only contestant.

We both had the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruitys.

February 18th, Joseph Stack III, 53, of Austin, Texas, crashed his private aircraft into an office of the Internal Revenue Service, in Austin, killing himself and one employee. Apparently he was upset after the I.R.S. had taken all of his money.

February 23rd, Jaxen Lee Johnston, my grandnephew, was born. He was 0 days old at the time.

He's much older now.


One goes in, one goes out. On March 6th, my friend Robert Bray passed away in his sleep sometime during the previous night.
He is till very much missed.

The veteran actor Peter Graves also passed away, on March 14th, four days before his next birthday. He battled giant grasshoppers in Chicago in the film "Beginning of the End," accepted impossible missions in "Mission Impossible," let us learn about others on the "Biography," T.V. series, and was Captain Clarence Oveur in the two "Airplane," movies. He was 84 when he died of a heart attack.

On March 21st the House of Representatives passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a bill to overhaul the country's health care system, and sent it to the President to be signed into law. Along with the The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (signed into law on March 30th) the bills, among other things, allowed children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26, prevented insurance companies from denying coverage due to a patient's "pre-existing conditions," subsidized private insurance for low- and middle-income Americans, and required all Americans to have some sort of health insurance. The budget office estimated that the law would reduce the federal budget deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years. This was the greatest attempt at change in the nation's health care system in over 100 years. It did not please everybody. Progressives lamented the fact that a single payer, universal system was not put into place (or even considered, despite promises to the contrary), and the Republicans, calling it Obamacare, we're against anything that President Obama did, even if it was beneficial for the majority of Americans, and want to repeal it.

Good luck with that.

On March 24th the United States and Russia agreed to lower the limit of deployed strategic warheads and launchers (that would be those big intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles that can still wipe out the entire planet) by 25% and 50% respectively, along with a new inspection regime. That's a pretty good thing. This treaty would still have to be ratified by the legislative branches of both countries.

That day actor Robert Culp of "The Outer Limits," and "I Spy," fame, died, also of an apparent heart attack, near his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 79 years old.


On the 5th of April an explosion caused the deaths of 29 people in the Upper Branch mine, the worst mine disaster since 1970. The owner and operator of the mine, Massey Energy, in 2009, was fined a total of $382,000 for "serious" unrepentant violations for lacking ventilation and proper equipment plans as well as failing to utilize its safety plan properly. In the previous month, the authorities cited the mine for 57 safety infractions. In the two days before the explosion the mine received two citations, and in the last five years has been cited for 1,342 safety violations... this would indicate a certain pattern of disregard for the safety of its employees. The CEO of Massey Energy, a Don Blankenship, has received criticism for his apparent disregard for safety, and considering Massey Energy is the sixth largest coal company in the country, that's all he's likely to receive.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (former bass player for Led Zeppelin) announced April 9th, that he would retire next summer, after serving on the bench for 35 years. Justice Stevens, the most senior member of the court, had proved to be one of the most reliably liberal-voting judges. President Obama nominated United States Solicitor General (the person appointed by the federal government to represent the U.S. to the Supreme Court) Elena Kagan to replace him. She was confirmed by the Senate and joined the bench on August 7, 2010.

On April 20th the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded killing 11 people and resulting in what many consider the greatest ecological disaster in the history of the United States:
An actual Washington Post Headline for April 26th: "Amid Outrage Over Civilian Deaths In Pakistan, CIA Turns To Smaller Missiles."


On May 5th I won the SRHT "Tenant of the Year" award... among many other prizes:

On May 27th the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised previous figures, and estimated that 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil per day were spilling into the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon collapse of the previous month. The government previously believed that the rig was leaking only 5,000 barrels per day. Given these new estimates, approximately 30 million gallons of oil spilled thus far, becoming the worst spill in America's history.

The veteran actor Dennis Hopper died on May 29th:


On June 16 my lovely case manager, Erin visited the Veteran's Administration's Los Angeles Downtown Clinic... and joined the army:

June 21st saw the Supreme Court uphold a ban on Giving Aid to Terror Groups. In a 6–3 decision on a free speech vs national security case, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law that made it illegal to give "material support" to foreign terrorist organizations, no matter how the aid was meant to be used. Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito supported the majority decision, claiming that any support, even if intended for peace-keeping operations, "bolsters the terrorist activities of that organization." The decision is considered by dissenting groups to be an affront to the protections accorded in the First Amendment, namely the right to freedom of speech. For instance peaceful advice, or just communicating with organizations deemed "terrorist," by the United States government, would be violations of law, and therefore liable for punishment. Many domestic anti war groups have recently been raided by the FBI with the authority this decision provides.

On July 15th Congress passed a landmark Financial Regulation Bill. The bill overhauls the regulation of large financial institutions, credit cards, exotic credit default swaps and derivatives, provides stronger oversight and a brand new consumer protection agency. Many have stated the bill is the strongest measure of reform taken since the Great Depression. Others consider it did not go far enough, pointing out it orders 68 "studies," leaves major decisions up to regulators prone to lobbying and industry influence, includes loopholes, including exemptions for auto dealers who make car loans, etc. The Republicans of course say it is just more big government trying to control business.

That very day British Petroleum finally capped the leaking oil well caused by the explosion of the Deepwater rig after 86 days of crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, releasing approximately 205.8 million gallons.

That's it for July, and this is getting pretty long with over 2000 words, so I'll break it up into two parts for your reading convenience, dear readers.

But let me leave you with one of my favorite 2010 segments from the lovely Rachel Maddow, taken from The Rachel Maddow Show:

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