Flimsy Sanity: January 2006

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Home Improvement

I decided to replace the linoleum in my mud room. What a mess. The former handyman did not bother to remove the trim, but just butted the rug up to the quarter round. Of course, it curled and dirt worked its way under it. I don't know if this was the right way to fix it, but I cut the old rug back and tried to even things out with floor leveler. Thought I could do the project in a day, but it took three - lots of sanding and cussing. Still have to cut the basement door down.

Sobriety Checkpoint

Call me paranoid, but I think North Dakota is the most corrupt (per capita) state in the union. This article shows typical abuse of the legal system for a good old boy. Pretty soon honest cops quit and the system is rotted from stem to stern.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Martin Luther King Day

My bank has a sign posted on the window that says they will be closed Monday because it is a Federal Reserve Holiday, they will not say it is "Martin Luther King Day". They still think the holiday should never have been established. You find some of the strongest bigots in areas that have never been exposed to any variety.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Conservative mushrooms

Sometimes I slip over to the dark side where readers are fed Republican bullshit. Some of the poop they consume is that (1) the war is going well in Iraq and is justified (2) most lawsuits against corporate America (and the medical profession) are frivolous (3) that handguns are defense against crime and ownership is a right to be guarded (4) that capitalism is the best system devised and needs no government intervention (5) that higher education is a liberal indoctrination cesspool (6) that privacy is no big deal if you lead a healthy Christian lifestyle (7) illegal immigration from the south is draining our economy (8) welfare will bankrupt this country (9) fighting endless wars is what has kept this country free, (10) foreign aid is a free gift to unfortunates (11) faith-based charity would work best.

So here are my poorly thought-out retorts. (1) The Iraq war has bred more terrorism and created a more volatile world (2) rich corps have lawyers on retainer and can stall legitimate complaints for years - most get appealed and never pay publicized large damages, furthermore contingency lawyers will not take a case they cannot win (3) where was the NRA when all guns were confiscated from people in New Orleans and why is home-owner Cory Maye on death row for shooting an unidentified intruder - a little white bias perhaps (4) many corporations are completely amoral and show no allegiance to US or its citizens (5) empathy nearly always accompanies education so selfishness gets somewhat quashed (6) I cannot even fathom this virtuous prig (7) more than likely most underpaid illegal wage slaves are hired by Republicans (8) welfare money just gets rechanneled into local economies and is just 1% of the federal budget according to the American Psychological Association (9) our shores have been seldom threatened (Pearl Harbor yes, 9-11 was a criminal act, not an act of war) and we do not need bases in 144 countries...(how would we like other countries bases on our shores?) (10) foreign aid usually goes to American corps and to leaders who have US interests at heart rather than their own people's, i.e corrrupt. (I saw this when visiting Managua Nicaragua several years after their earthquake - all the rebuilt city was occupied by American companies while the people were still picking through rubble). (11) religious organizations main goal is to spread itself not help people.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Lai Hero Hugh Thompson Dies Friday

Friday, Hugh Thompson died of cancer at age 62. Hugh Thompson was a helicopter pilot in 1968, on a day American soldiers gunned down more than 500 unarmed civilians in a village called My Lai. The dead were women, old men and children. And even more of them would have died if Thompson had not confronted his fellow soldiers, stopped their murderous rampage and airlifted a number of civilians to safety. So how does the military treat someone who tries to stop murder? This is part of an old 60 Minutes interview:
But from the very beginning, the military tried to cover up the massacre. And that wasn't all. Thompson is uncomfortable talking about it, but before the Hall of Fame ceremony in Nashville, he and Colburn told 60 Minutes that the U.S. military had stopped providing him with adequate back-up on his chopper missions after My Lai.

“He was placed in a very precarious position as far as the missions that he was carrying out,” says Colburn. “He didn’t have any adequate cover in my opinion. Instead of being followed by two armed gun ships, he had another scout helicopter.”

Scout helicopters are not equipped with the machine guns and rockets carried by the larger Huey gun ships.

“It seemed like he was really going out on a limb when he was going out without adequate cover,” says Colburn.

How many choppers did he lose? “I think three or four, something like that,” says Thompson.

Actually, Thompson crashed a total of five times. And the last time, he broke his back.

Why has none of this ever been told before? “I don’t know,” says Thompson. “I just sorta like went underground. I didn’t mention it to anybody.”

Thompson may have clammed up, but word of what he had done followed him when he returned from Vietnam to the United States. And he kept paying a price for turning on his fellow soldiers at My Lai.

“I'd received death threats over the phone,” says Thompson. “We didn’t have caller ID. But it was scary. Dead animals on your porch, mutilated animals on your porch some mornings when you get up. So I was not a good guy.”

He said that when he went to the Officer’s Club, there would be “100 people in there after work, and five minutes after I was there, you know, it seemed like it was me and the bartender left.”

“This was because the truth, I don't think, was out there. This was, I was somebody that was crying and whining about a few people getting accidentally killed,” says Thompson. “There was no accidental killing that day. It was murder.”

But when Thompson testified about those murders to Congress in 1970, his testimony was kept secret. He says they didn’t want the story out: “Well, not when one of the senior Congressmen here in the secret testimony say if anybody goes to jail that day, it'll be that helicopter pilot.”

With the truth hidden away, Thompson admits he felt very much alone. For years, he remained silent about My Lai. The military, meanwhile, continued to give him the cold shoulder.

Ronald Ridenhour was an investigative journalist who played a central role in spurring the investigation of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. He heard of the massacre from friends while serving in Vietnam, and on his return to the United States sent letters to numerous congressmen and government officials. The only Congressman to respond was Morris Udall. Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, after extensive conversations with Ridenhour, broke the My Lai story on November 12, 1969, The only soldier prosecuted was Georgia's Lt. William Calley who was convicted and served three years under house arrest until pardoned by Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia, was instrumental in the state wide campaign to show support for Calley by urging people to drive with their lights on. Colin Powell also whitewashed the incident.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stealing Freaky Things

2-headed snake to be auctioned. Article says the snake was stolen once as was the famous Nunbun ripped off over Christmas. What does the thief do with his loot-you couldn't fence it and you couldn't show it to anyone.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Body and Mind Connections

Interactions between mind and body come out strongly in the surprising links between status and health. Michael Marmot's celebrated studies show that the lower you are in the pecking order, the worse your health is likely to be. You can explain away only a small part of the trend from poorer access to healthcare, or poorer food or living conditions. For Marmot, the answer lies in "the impact over how much control you have over life circumstances". The important message is that state of mind — perceived status — translates into state of body.

The effect of placebos on health delivers a similar message. Trust and belief are often seen as negative in science and the placebo effect is dismissed as a kind of "fraud" because it relies on the belief of the patient. But the real wonder is that faith can work. Placebos can stimulate the release of pain-relieving endorphins and affect neuronal firing rates in people with Parkinson's disease.

Oxytocin levels rise during orgasm and sexual arousal, as they do from touching and massage. There are defects in oxytocin receptors associated with autism. And the hormone boosts the feeling that you can trust others, which is key part of intimate relations. In a recent laboratory "investment game" many investors would trust all their money to a stranger after a puff of an oxytocin spray.

These few stories show the importance of the interplay of minds and hormonal signals, of brains and bodies.
~ALUN ANDERSON Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director of the weekly international science magazine New Scientist Partial answer to Edge question of the year.

Ride 'Em Brush Cutter!

Ride 'Em Brush Cutter!: "Political Cowboyism" through our history.
Taking a page out of Ronald Reagan's playbook, the Bush apparatchiks came up with a plan to buy some acreage in Crawford, Texas while George W was still governor and create a Western backdrop for the presidential campaign.

George W. Bush was now a Rancher and, by extension, a Cowboy, so he could wear a cowboy hat for the photographers and use cowboy jargon.

However, there remained a problem for Bush's handlers of presenting him to the media on his new ranch. What should he be doing, other than having barbeques and introducing his corporate pals?

The handlers had to be careful about the kind of work they designed for Bush lest he make a mess of it in front of a camera. Since he had apparently never done any physical labor in his life, his dexterity was questionable. For example, if you have ever seen Bush with a hammer in his hand, you would never trust him with an axe. Someone might get hurt. Other cowboy activities like riding and shooting could prove to be dangerous. He couldn't ride a horse, and the public didn't want a replay of Gerald Ford hitting people with golf balls, and Bush with a gun presented a similar scenario with fatal possibilities. So typical cowboyesque skills like riding, shooting, and chopping firewood were out.

Ultimately, someone came up with the image of George W Bush using a chain saw-a relatively easy to operate tool-which would provide some kind of action video for the president and the media. Thus, the American public has been treated to several years of videos of their president in shirt sleeves and cowboy hat dutifully cutting brush around his Crawford property and spouting carefully crafted sentences about erosion control and foreign policy: all the while projecting himself as a Cowboy come to straighten out the world.

Demolition gone wrong

A little movie for your amusement. This was the Zip Feed Tower in Sioux Falls SD.