Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Reckoning

It was the end of the Vietnam war. I was recently divorced and sitting by myself in the Midland Restaurant. Sitting in the table behind me was a family with a soldier wearing his uniform. He was confronted with this: "You are a baby killer!" I wasn't with him so I don't know what he did with his buddies. However, I did hang-out with Paul B. He was a Marine that was active in the Vietnam war. He told me multiple times that they took no prisoners. "We killed all of them." He also told me how effectively he could lob shells into a village. Paul didn't like the World Court. I sensed that he didn't want any institution to supersede the authority that gave him permission to do what he did. Another person told me, "It's a dirty business, but someone has to do it."

Paul with his Marine buddies were effective authorized killers. Furthermore, Paul had the personal authority to give authority to an indiviual to go somewhere to kill a specific individual in a Vietnam village. What all these people like Paul have in common is a need to avoid personal responsible for their behavior. The process of holding the people that executed the Gulf wars responsible for their behavior has begun. Here are a few links that give you more information about unfolding events.

War Crimes Trials: a cloud on the horizon
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld Not Likely To Be Prosecuted

Nuremberg Trials

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Trevor wants us to think about the way it was.

My Mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn't seem to get food poisoning. My Mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter and I used to eat it raw. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in icepack coolers, but I can't remember getting e.coli. Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool, no beach closures then. The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell and a pager was the school PA system. We all took gym, not PE and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked's (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can't recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now, flunking gym was not an option! I guess PE must be much harder than gym. Speaking of school, we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention. We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours wore a hat and everything.I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself. I just can't recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations. Where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed! We played 'king of the hill' on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48-cent bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked. Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat. We didn't act up at the neighbor's house either because if we did, we got our butt spanked there and then we got butt spanked again when we got home. I recall Donny Reynolds from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop, just before he fell off, little did his Mom know that she could have owned our house. Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amuck. To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that? We needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes? We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn't even notice that the entire country wasn't taking Prozac! How did we ever survive?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mirrors in the Mind

In this month's Scientific American there is an important article about learning. I'm delaying writing about it until I can link to it.

"A special class of brain cells reflects the outside world, revealing a new avenue for human understanding, connecting and learning."

1. "Subsets of neurons in human and monkey brains respond when an individual performs certain actions and also when the subject observes others performing the same movement."
2. "There "mirror neurons' provide a direct internal experience, and therefore understanding, of another person's act, intention or emotion."
3."Mirror neurons may also underlie the ability to imitate another's action, and thereby learn, making the mirror mechanism a bridge between individual brains for communication and connection on multiple levels." source: Scientific American, November 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's Halloween

It's a day after Halloween, close enough for this announcement. I bought a 3 year subscription to MAD. I really did. On the front page there is a picture of Barry with nettles sticking in him.

I haven't read MAD since I was a teenage. When my nephew Josh was in Jr. High, I went to his school to bring him home. There I found him in the library reading MAD. I has horrified. I thought, "Kid, you are wasting your time and education." That is true from many perspectives. But, from my perspective, it is now comic relief. When life gets to the point where I think I just cannot deal with it anymore. I read Mad and escape from reality. Two beers does the same thing, but Mad is better. I now have a 3 years subscription to MAD.

I hope yours was a scary Halloween.