Monday, November 23, 2009

Protests at Home and Abroad?

Robert Reich's Blog post of November 17th: Obama, China, and Wishful Thinking About American Jobs is very interesting. You can find it here

He quoted Pres. Obama: “We cannot go back...”
“...we're taking out a bunch of credit-card debt of home equity loans, but we're not selling anything to them.” Dr. Reich is discussing here the wish that the many Chinese will become consumers of American goods and services.

He went on to describe one reason the Chinese government will not, cannot, let that happen. Why they are building more factories to produce more than they can consume. If they do not create more jobs for the poor that are heading for the factories, they face possible “massive disorder”.

Thus China wants American “know-how”. So in order to sell products in China, US companies must cut deals to make goods in China not in the US. He ends this blog post with the following:

Both societies are threatened by the disconnect between production and consumption. In China, the threat is civil unrest. In the U.S., it's a prolonged jobs and earnings recession that, when combined with widening inequality, could create political backlash.

Why is it that in the U.S. The fear is only of political backlash? Why isn't there more “civil unrest” here? Of course civil unrest here doesn't need to be the same as in China. We don't need to worry about deaths to the demonstrators. We don't need to worry about trials for the demonstrators. Well mostly we don't have to fear these reactions. Why?

There are many questions in that paragraph. Maybe you have some good answers? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Maybe we are getting older and lazier? Maybe we are too busy watching TV? Maybe we are just too depressed to march? Maybe we no longer feel we have any way to make changes- “Our government doesn't listen no matter what we do.” ? Maybe we don't have the money to make the trip to ...? Maybe we have so much going on, or not as the case may be, we are in a state of confusion? (Sometimes that is me) Too many groups asking you to email, write, call, or march about so many good causes?

As for the last Why: Maybe the government and the politicians have figured out that if you let people march in protest without a lot of push back they won't get much coverage and they will pack up and go back to their meager little lives after their little protests. Think about it.

With all these questions and the many answers, the vote becomes more important than ever. My idea is that maybe instead of dread and disgust with politicians and politics we should start to study them now.
Remember 2010 could get very interesting.
Don't forget Vote Smart. It is a good way to keep up to date and keep track.

Photo is an edited photo taken by my Baby Brother.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thank You Vets, but ...

It seems that Veteran's Day this year was more solemn than usual. I know I felt more than in previous years. Yes, we are still at war but we were at war previous Vet's Days; I don't recall the same feelings for myself (could be age) or the difference in the coverage. The celebrations, if you call it that, I saw were smaller and quieter.

Some research I am starting for my self is on the guilt of those who didn't actually go to war. I don't mean that in the usual way. I don't mean the ones like my dad who was turned down because of health. I mean those who were drafted or chose to enlist during war but stayed somewhere in the U.S. Instead of “shipping out”. Their work was important but not in the movie way.

In the case of my spouse, he asked to go to Vietnam when he enlisted but the military said no-he spent the whole 4 years in the U.S. We were talking about the guilt of enlistees that stayed states side. He said he didn't feel guilt because he tried to go, actually the dope tried to go more than once. He was angry when he didn't get to go. You may have guessed he was very young when he enlisted. He just wanted to get away from home and had a yen to be a world traveler and or a helicopter pilot. Now he will tell you he is glad the military gave him those tests and assigned him where they did.

We know now that the WWII vets that did “ship-out” just “sucked it up”, didn't usually talk about it, many came home to drink and become unruly, one of my uncles, some probably committed suicide. Only now are we understanding or trying to understand. Then too what about those who served and serve in Korea? I was engaged years ago to a guy who went to Korea when it was no longer called the Korean War. He was definitely changed by the experience. He wrote to me about how surprised he was that it was still a dangerous duty that people here did not realize. So you know many Korean Vets suffered and suffer in silence too.

However, are there other Vets that have self-recrimination because they did not get sent “over seas” but yet they felt relief? I am sure there are. Do they suffer quietly for years or even know why their lives are not quite the same? I'll bet they do have changes with which they need to deal. I just doubt too that anyone would help them understand their own version of war-changes-all. If the military is just beginning therapies for PTSD and more, they probably aren't even thinking about this one.

I just wonder.

I looked up some notes from (yes, I keep notes when I really like a Twain piece of wisdom) another Mark Twain favorite of mine I would like to share part of it with you. It is sometimes called the War Prayer. Please read it carefully and more than once. Put it aside for a while, let it nag at you, then read it again. You can find the whole thing here or here.

Here is a part of it from my notes. The speaker is a messenger from God to a small congregation after they prayed for victory over their enemy.

Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! Lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it. “You have heard your servant's prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently...”

When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. ...

There is more but at least you have a good part of the point here.

Read the whole thing alone first if you can and think it over then share with someone.

This particular piece of writing, by one of my favorite authors, made me reconsider my views on any war at all. I still wonder if there really is such a thing as a just war. Part of me says yes while part of me says no. If all the “regular”, non-governmental people said no to war then what? But it would take ALL of the “governed-every person everywhere. So, that is a dream. For whatever reason or reasons, We humans must have a “leader” and many of us are easily led. I repeat-THAT IS A DREAM.

I can be grateful to the Veterans for what they did and what the soldiers are doing now but I now question the logic and the sense of those who decide to send people into the horrible “theater” of war. (It is not a theater, people are not pretending. People are really dying.)

Now how to get out once you are in?????

(The photo caption reads Just Say No. The bird is a female summer tanager)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Forget Congress for a Few Minutes, Read a Book

Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

After listening to the House “debate”( right-that was a debate?) health care Saturday, I just want to run away. I will say here that the lone Republican to vote for the house bill was a surprise. Representative Cao voted for his constituents' needs One in how many?

But instead of thinking about the rest of the representatives, let us pretend our Congress has a collective brain-I know that is a real stretch. So let us pretend that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Well, no let us pretend we don't even have that fear to fear for a few minutes. (That stretch is not quite as large as the stretch about Congress having a brain.)

There is a little, but large in terms of information, book entitled: The “Have-More” Plan for A Little Land-A Lot of Living by Ed and Carolyn Robinson,Macmillan Company, NY, 1947.

My spouse and I have owned this book for years now. Every so many years after one of our many moves, we would drag it out and read from it. Though the book was written in in the mid-forties it is full of useful information.

The preface starts with a short rehash of the family of 200 years prior. Writing about the total self- reliance of family, here is a quotation from first paragraph of the preface:

There was no unemployment but no real security either. A drought, a flood, even a potato bug could mean ruin. Life was almost all work-men and women were old at thirty-five. Approximately one out of three infants died before the end of its first year.
(The “Have-More” Plan page ix)

(This chart is a good reference showing infant mortality since 1950. It is the one I found that didn't have a political bent. This chart shows 6.9 infant deaths, under 1 year, per thousand for all races.)

The author goes on: "In the past fifty years the completely self-reliant family has become rare indeed..."

And further the author writes about finding the happy medium between being totally self-reliant and totally dependent on others:

We believe such a man will fare better on the average over the years than the man who depends entirely either on himself or on other men for all the necessities of life.

Now part of what I love about this book is that some things don't really change at all.
These quotations below as found on page 85 are great examples:

Evidence is beginning to appear showing that soil and freshness all affect the mineral and vitamin content of the food we eat... Steam-table restaurant fare has a fraction of the value of properly home-cooked foods....
...Out at Ohio State, experiments show that about 43 per cent of the “fresh” vegetables sold in stores have lost the biggest part of their vitamin content.

The book is full of charts, illustrations, and pictures. There are quotations of letters the Robinson family received after the first publication. $50 From a Single Nut Tree is one such letter about the usefulness of suburban pecan trees in GA. (see page 124)

On page 105, Chapter 13 begins the information about berries and grapes. On that very page the mulberry is mentioned as one of the “something a little different” choices. How about that. But, what is a “youngberry”? (I found a definition ) a trailing bramble of the southwestern US that is a hybrid of a blackberry and dewberry with large sweet dark purple fruits.

Here is a suggested fruit tree “Simplified Pest Control”... “good sulphur-lead arsenate mixture” I don't know about you but I think that sounds a little on the WOW side of pest control-lead...! I don't like any pesticide but I sure don't want to mix my own. (page 123) On the same page-I do love this why-didn't-I-just-use-my-head idea: ...the fruit that falls before picking time can be saved if you put hay or straw beneath the trees to prevent bruising.”

Though around here, I would watch for insects and molds living in and under the hay or straw. Some may not be welcome depending on where your trees are located.

How about the section on “How Much Time Does a Cow Take?” found on page 213. On the following two pages are charts about the costs and the returns from your “Jersey Cow”. (I hope you don't have high cholesterol.) The Robinson's consumed and sold the dairy products from their cow. If you want to know for them “...Total expenses for the year that included her milking and dry period amounted to $158.07.”(215)

The last chapter in this wonderful book is Earning Money in the Country with the last section being called “Ribbon Cities”.
What is a “ribbon city”? ...By that I mean that stretching out from practically every city and town are roads where the traffic goes on all day”
page 314 (Note the all day).

A personal note here on the "ribbons". Where me and mine live now, the traffic on our ribbon has grown tremendously in the past few years. We were so spoiled by the “peace and quiet” after moving here from Atlanta 18 or so years ago we now sound like the old grumps we are. (Everything is relative.) Our dogs go crazy as the “city bicyclists” use our road now. “Why the traffic is so bad now it is unsafe to cross that road to the mailbox.” (It always was. We live at the top of an blind hill. When the wind blows hard, which it often does, you can't hear the traffic either. What does that tell you about the awful traffic now-a-days?)

Back to the book.

To the women readers, there is a “Letter to the Wives” from Carolyn Robinson found on page 11. Here are some sentences you might enjoy:

Out here on our wee farm my husband really needs me and I, in turn, could not get along without him.
(page 12) and on page 13,
“...One secret I have found is not trying to keep a spotless house-I have decided it's a waste of time....”
(She is assuming I keep a spotless house. I gave up years ago when “we” retired and our son came back. I still would like a spotless house if anyone wants to volunteer.)
A little further on the same page:...
”In fact, many duties are easier. Children require less attention and time while they are playing.”

That last part can be true but be careful if your “wee farm” is too close to the “ribbon” or you have a child that likes to roam far and wide in the blink of an eye. I taught mine how to pound and poke the trails in the wooded part of the hill with a walking stick so the snakes and other critters knew he was coming. “They don't want you any more than you want them.” I said. Turtles were fair game though when they came into the yard. Oh, but that is another tale.

So here you have it another book review of a great older book. I hope you can find a copy and read it for yourself even if you don't intend to have a “Have-More” Plan for A Little Land-A Lot of Living. Maybe you can find it through your library.

Now here is The Have-More Plan in today's world: Detroit

A couple of places you can purchase the book The "Have-More" Plan. and Or Google it and you will find many places to purchase the book.

The picture is from my oil of our "wee farm" facing our "ribbon".

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Addendum to Klinger Syndrome Post-Mark Twain on Religion

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven....The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

- The Lowest Animal essay, 1897 (Mark Twain)
We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.

- Following the Equator (ibid)

By the way can anyone remember exactly when to use ibid? Is it ok from the first note on or every other one? Now I find that in so using I am committing a grievous sin.

Mark Twain quotations

Friday, November 6, 2009

Corporal Klinger Syndrome? Or No Way Out!

After reading and watching the news about the Ft. Hood disaster, one picture being drawn of the shooter is of a psychiatrist that treated soldiers returning from these two stupid wars. A man who apparently was re-finding his religion. A doctor that heard such horror stories he feared his own deployment with more than the usual fear of soldiers being deployed. Think about it. Some of us can understand that picture. Of course another picture is of a religious terrorist or another-someone making a statement concerning the ills of society. The portrait is probably a mixture of all these. People are complicated.

Before I go on with this post I would like to say, for what it is worth, I am so sorry that this happened.

I am sorry that we live in a society where opening fire on groups of people is an answer to anything or for anyone. The families, the personnel at Ft. Hood, and many of our military, must be devastated. Our sympathies to all of them. This loss must feel just about as strange as when a parent losses a child-so wrong, so backwards, so out of the norm of death.

Without researching just think back through recent memory, it seems as though this type of suicide is becoming more common. I call it suicide because generally the shooter is killed or removed from living within this society of ours. There are various themes on this type of suicide. One type that comes to mind “death by cop”. Do we now add that to our law enforcement requirements? Does a law enforcement recruit have to be good at “death by cop”. The things we ask of the law enforcement agencies...

But back to the original thoughts on the shooter.
Maybe we should call it the Klinger syndrome. Do you remember MASH the movie and the TV show?
Corporal Max Klinger was the one who wore women's clothes trying to get out of the military by way of a section 8. We laughed at his attempts but did we pause to think how far these attempts could go. "I am going to live through this even if it kills me" (Corporal Klinger).

Do you wonder has this violent-take-others-with-you suicide been going on forever but not in public?
How many charges up San Juan Hill, that is just the one that popped into my head, have actually been a version of this NO WAY OUT mentality​?

The questions in my mind at this point concerning the shooter are many.

Why did the military decide the young high-school graduate would be educated as a psychiatrist in the first place? What did the recruiter tell the young Muslim American to get him to sign up? Or maybe he, like many others, just wanted the education. Had he felt he had to prove something to the rest of us, or himself, about Muslim Americans?

Actually, I doubt some of these reasons apply. This man apparently had been in the military for years. Too many years for his initial enlistment to be swayed by the Muslim reasoning mentioned here.

According to one story, report, this shooter was harassed because he is Muslim. Why did the military decide that a Muslim psychiatrist should be treating soldiers returning from combat where religion is in their face every day and many have radical Muslims trying to kill them and killing many of their “buddies”? Is it just not possible that any psychiatrist treating PT SD over and over might develop a version of the very disease he treats? How often did this psychiatrist get treatment or at least counseling?

We would hope that the military would periodically check the mental health of their mental health therapists. When this shooter sought a way out because of his religious beliefs, did the military have an analysis done? Or, did they just see the need for retention of all soldiers?

I know that hindsight is 20/20 but I still wonder about how this shooter in particular got missed. I realize too that it has to be difficult to get out of your “contract” with the military or most of the “volunteers” would leave. But I think there should be studies and thought about those who really should be allowed to break that contract.

For more on the story go to the NY Times articleshere

(I call the photo art here Wings of Peace.) The quotation from Corporal Klinger is here.