Flimsy Sanity: April 2007

Flimsy Sanity

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Jon Stewart interviewed by Bill Moyers

(Talking about Gonzalez testimony)JON STEWART: And by the way, that was all just — that was a game, and he knew it, and the guys on the committee knew it. And for the President to come out after that and say, "Everything I saw there gave me more confidence in him," that solidified my notion that, "Oh, it's because what he expected of Gonzalez was" it's sort of like, do you remember in GOODFELLAS? When Henry Hill got arrested for the first time and Robert DeNiro met him at the courthouse and Henry Hill was really upset, 'cause he thought Robert DeNiro would be really mad at him. And DeNiro comes up to him and he gives him a $100 and he goes, "You got pinched. We all get pinched, but you did it right, you didn't say nothing."
BILL MOYERS: Gonzales said nothing.
JON STEWART: Right. And "you went up there and said nothing. You gave them no legal recourse against you, and you made yourself a smart man, a self-made man look like an utter pinhead on national television, and you did it for me."
BILL MOYERS: How do you explain that the Washington press corps, by and large, particularly the Sunday shows join the game with them? I mean, you watch those shows
JON STEWART: They don't all, I mean...
BILL MOYERS: No, not all of them do, but there's a kind of wink-wink questioning going on there. You know, I'll ask the devil's advocate...
JON STEWART: Well, it's because it's the Harlem Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals. It's they're the only teams playing, and they know they've got to play each other every week, and they all have sort of assumed their role. And, I mean, at this point, the government is just you know, blowing the doors off the media. And not everywhere, and I think, this is where you know, a lot of those blog reporters and all of those things are bringing a lot of urgency and a lot of momentum to stories that wouldn't normally carry any momentum.
Watch the whole interview here. What could be better than having these two in the same room?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth Day Redux

Energy conservation, what a joke!! I am just curious how many substituted flourescent lightbulbs equal the energy wasted by one private jet flight for a politician's junket. Gore's 20 room house heat bill? The energy used to fly warplanes? Even buying an energy efficient refrigerator seems goofy since they don't take into account the energy used to produce the fridge in the first place.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Great Essay on Being Quiet

This blog entry by Sumo Merriment is highly recommended to my multitudes of readers. It should be submitted to Education Journals, I think.

I solve the Massacre problem

This Wikipedia entry counting up the death tolls of various massacres in history is pretty staggering. Now I see the reason one is not supposed to talk about politics or religion, it can easily be the death of you. Political ones are usually in the thousands and the tens of thousands, next come the religious ones, and finally the individual shooters who are just in the one and two digit range. There is only one that was done by a woman, a postal employee who shot seven. All the hundreds of thousands of others were done by men. One can only surmise that women just don't enjoy killing as much as men do. I just think we should introduce estrogen to the water systems.

ps: I thought I should dress up this entry with a little graphic and put "woman" into yahoo images. I cannot believe how many women cannot afford adequate clothing!!!

Gun advocates will love this

Yahoo's top news story this morning is about an old Miss America that shot the tires of some thief. Now to my mind, the hero of the story is the dog who discovered someone was in the barn. Had the dog not been observant, the old beauty queen would have been oblivious to the unarmed robbery and her nasty old gun would have stayed in the walker basket. I say everyone should have a dog, I am not so sure about the gun.

Friday, April 20, 2007

McCain Self Destructs

Ann Coulter's Obsession

Too much doom and gloom lately and this brought a laugh. Apparently Coulter makes a habit of calling people gay or faggots.

The Abortion Question

Found via Omnipotent Poobah's comment section.

I feel every child should be a wanted child. Call me simple but it is clear to me. Please please, if you love children, volunteer to be a foster parent. The need is great for homes for abused, neglected and unwanted children.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

An observation

One thing that both this Blacksburg thing and the Columbine thing have in common is the reference to movies that the perpetrators watched which centered on revenge. Almost all action Dickflicks (as opposed to Chickflicks) have this as their theme.

This strikes me as delusional

"University officials announced Thursday that Cho's victims would be awarded their degrees posthumously."

My sister keeps her husband's voice on the answering machine even though he died over a year ago. I would never tell her (and she doesn't read my blog) but I think that is kind of creepy and macabre. My mom's neighbor visited her husband's grave every day for over a year and a half. Everyone grieves in their own way and that is their right, but an institution pretending someone is not dead by awarding them degrees doesn't strike me as an honor but instead as a reminder to the families of what was not to be. It seems especially cruel.

Why Advertisers Target Women

Personally, I hate shopping and would take the blue path. I know lots of women who love malls though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Drug War from a Police Perspective

The following is from essays on the drug war in the National Review. Joseph D McNamara was former chief of police in Kansas City, Mo., and San Jose, Calif. . Mr. McNamara, who has a doctorate in public administration from Harvard, is the author of four books on policing and is currently a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

``IT'S THE money, stupid.'' After 35 years as a police officer in three of the country's largest cities, that is my message to the righteous politicians who obstinately proclaim that a war on drugs will lead to a drug-free America. About $500 worth of heroin or cocaine in a source country will bring in as much as $100,000 on the streets of an American city. All the cops, armies, prisons, and executions in the world cannot impede a market with that kind of tax-free profit margin. It is the illegality that permits the obscene markup, enriching drug traffickers, distributors, dealers, crooked cops, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers, businessmen.

Naturally, these people are against reform of the drug laws. Drug crooks align themselves with their avowed enemies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, in opposing drug reform. They are joined by many others with vested economic interests. President Eisenhower warned of a military - industrial complex that would elevate the defense budget unnecessarily. That military - industrial complex pales in comparison to the host of industries catering to our national puritanical hypocrisy -- researchers willing to tell the government what it wants to hear, prison builders, correction and parole officers' associations, drug-testing companies, and dubious purveyors of anti-drug education. Mayor Schmoke is correct about the vested interests in the drug war.

Police scandals are an untallied cost of the drug war. The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and even the Coast Guard have had to admit to corruption. The gravity of the police crimes is as disturbing as the volume. In New Orleans, a uniformed cop in league with a drug dealer has been convicted of murdering her partner and shop owners during a robbery committed while she was on patrol. In Washington, D.C., and in Atlanta, cops in drug stings were arrested for stealing and taking bribes. New York State troopers falsified drug evidence that sent people to prison. And it is not just the rank and file. The former police chief of Detroit went to prison for stealing police drug-buy money. In a small New England town, the chief stole drugs from the evidence locker for his own use. And the DEA agent who arrested Panama's General Noriega is in jail for stealing laundered drug money.

The violence comes from the competition for illegal profits among dealers, not from crazed drug users. Professor Milton Friedman has estimated that as many as 10,000 additional homicides a year are plausibly attributed to the drug war.

It was such issues that engaged law-enforcement leaders -- most of them police chiefs -- from fifty agencies during a two-day conference at the Hoover Institution in May 1995. Among the speakers was our colleague in this symposium, Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who told the group that he had visited a high school and asked the students if the high dropout rate was due to kids' being hooked on drugs. He was told that the kids were dropping out because they were hooked on drug money, not drugs. He also told us that when he went to community meetings he would ask the audience three questions. 1) ``Have we won the drug war?'' People laughed. 2) ``Are we winning the drug war?'' People shook their heads. 3) ``If we keep doing what we are doing will we have won the drug war in ten years?'' The answer was a resounding No.

At the end of the conference, the police participants completed an evaluation form. Ninety per cent voted no confidence in the war on drugs. They were unanimous in favoring more treatment and education over more arrests and prisons. They were unanimous in recommending a presidential blue-ribbon commission to evaluate the drug war and to explore alternative methods of drug control. In sum, the tough-minded law-enforcement officials took positions directly contrary to those of Congress and the President.

Even the National Review can make sense sometimes.

Bumper Sticker for Today

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Mind is so Fragile

There are lots of books on diet and exercise but not so many about preventing mental breakdowns. The body has amazing abilities to heal itself, but once a brain is broken, it never completely recovers. Prolonged stress like that experienced by an abused child, a bullied school kid, a foot soldier at war, an abused spouse creates a lifelong brain handicap that can sentence the victim to a marginal, fearful existance forever. People think that the insane are some creatures to be feared rather than the victims they are. Even schizophrenia, the most dreaded of mental illnesses, shows a high correlation with childhood abuse according to Science Daily. The psychiatric business would have us believe that the chemicals in our brains are just unbalanced and it doesn't have a lot to do with life events. Maybe hypervigilance does change chemistry, I don't know.

Even short periods of intense stress can lead to some very irrational choices, and I think most people have had moments of insanity. Shooting strangers (except if you are uniformed) is insane. I am glad that the Blacksburg shooter was not labeled a schizophrenic, or bipolar or clinically depressed because the media would use it to churn up the public's prejudice against the mentally ill. They say he was a loner, but so are almost all creative people. Andrea Yates who was irrational (due to probably too much religion) was in the news for a long time. The 350 other children killed by their parents that year did not make the AP.

UPDATE: I guess he was taking medication for depression as were other school shooters in the past.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bumper Sticker

Friday, April 13, 2007

Persecution complex

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

Man oh man, could this man cut through the crap! Dead at 84, another hero gone.
I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy—because we’re experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that’s what’s going on now.
-Appearance on The Daily Show (September 2005)

How do you say goodbye to a fellow humanist except to thank him for all the excellent thought provoking essays and yes, the novels too. As he said,
Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead

Sunday, April 08, 2007

My Favorite Easter

Our family never made a big deal of any holidays although we usually observed them by eating a big meal. I remember only one Easter egg hunt and that was for boiled eggs dipped in dye - no pursuit of chocolate bunnies or marshmallow chicks for us. I don't think it was a poverty issue, more just a no-nonsense, unsentimental approach to everything. And yes, dyed boiled eggs are just as bland but uglier than non dyed ones but we ate them because we did not waste. If I had been smarter I would have tried to find fewer.

I do have one memory of one Easter that I cherish. Our family was what I like to call "casual Catholics", not quite fallen but not what one would call a "Good Catholic" either. We would go to church on Sunday occasionally, and more often than not ate chicken on Fridays in those days when the practice was forbidden. Our church had (and still does for all I know) a thing called "perpetual adoration". This means someone is praying in the church at all times and "Good Catholics" sign up for a "church hour" in which they do an hour on their knees - even at 2 in the morning. We did not sign up for duty.

Anyway, back to my favorite Easter story. Our family did not arrive early to the church this particular Easter and all the pews were full, so we stood in the back. When it came time for the service, the priest said, "If you can't come every Sunday, don't just come on Easter." My dad was a quiet man and would never do anything to make a scene. If someone wronged him, lied to him, or sometimes just irritated him, he would ignore them for the rest of their life (I do the same). So we stayed for the rest of the mass but we took the priest's advice and never went back. All I can say is Hallelujah for the Easter that freed me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


So sorry. I had every intention of writing exciting entries on this blog but things have been happening fast here. I put my house up for sale on one of those For Sale by Owner sites and it sold the first day. Makes me think I priced it too low as the buyer didn't even counter offer. He just casually looked around and said "I'll take it". And to think I spent all that time painting the insides of cupboards.

So this is one busy old lady sorting, selling, and giving away stuff so that my load is just the essentials. I like going to rummage sales and thrift stores so replacing things is a fun thing. If it weren't for the books that make up my business I think I could just go in my car. So soon I will be in the land of Garrison Keillor and Al Franken - green, lush, lake-filled Minnesota. For too long I have lived in dry, dusty climes with mean spirited mostly delusional (read Republican) people and I want to live in a blue state and a bigger town. Why should anyone live in a place that is hostile to them? I can be the exchange person for this guy's nephew who went to Montana.

Minnesota prankster makes waves with crop circle joke
"After I got to the edge of (Curtis') field road I pushed the stake into the ground," Olson explains. "I hung onto to the string, tied one end of twine to the stake and started stepping the corn down. And voila, after a few minutes you got a perfect circle about 30 feet across."

Then he made a second circle and singed the leaves with a butane torch. He even went so far as to grind up radium from his watch with a mortar and pestle. He mixed the radium with dirt and sprinkled it in the center of each circle.

Coincidentally, Olson says, on the same night a police officer drove into a ditch and reported seeing a flying saucer about a mile from Olson's circles.

The next day, when Olson's nephew discovered the formation, he called his friend who was a deputy sheriff. Olson says the deputy came out to the farm and detected a radioactive substance with his Geiger counter. Then word spread quickly. And suddenly Curtis Olson's farm was swarming with reporters and police officers.

"There were barriers, 'Do not pass beyond this point,'" Olson recalls. "There were cop cars. There was a CBS sound truck. There were people walking around in uniform and my heart sank. I thought, 'oh my God, I'm going to go to jail for this one.'"

So Olson remained quiet. He waited for seven years for the statute of limitations to expire. He worried he'd face criminal charges or have to pay for the cost of the investigation. In the meantime, FBI agents and paranormal activity researchers investigated. Reporters and camera crews also visited the site. Olson's nephew told reporters he believed they had been "visited."

In 1986, Olson decided enough time had passed for him to fess up. He read about a professor at the University of Minnesota studying the paranormal and the so-called "Lake City landing." So Olson sat down with the professor and a Pioneer Press reporter and told them his story. Olson was surprised to see his confession on the front page the next day, and his family was even more shocked.

"They were flabbergasted. They were upset. I think it was such a big deal because I revealed a hoax of what a lot of people believed was a landing of flying saucers. The biggest believer was my nephew. I didn't mean to make fun of him but I think he took it that way. He hasn't talked to me in almost 23 years," Olson says. "It isn't that I don't believe there is intelligent life out there. I believe there is. But I don't think it's going to manifest itself in a cornfield."

Olson's nephew Curtis, who now lives in Montana, was unavailable for comment. Olson says the rest of his family can now laugh at the incident.