May 28

Sex for Fun and Profit—Part 3

In Brief — The author presents a thought experiment that may upset some but is guaranteed to make you think not just about sex as a central part of society but whether we are locked in propaganda and tradition. [Written in February 2017.]


Sex is Popular Because It’s Centrally Located—

Are we locked into traditional ways of thinking? Are those ways helpful or a hindrance. This is a thought experiment. It’s a challenge to all of us if for no other reason than we are unable to peek around the corner to see what the future holds. While we can’t predict the future, there are some tantalizing hints of what’s ahead. Now let’s do some thinking.

But first, its necessary to understand that we’ll be thinking about just the individuals involved, not the impact of society or the law.

A Thought Experiment—

Joe, a randy sixteen-year-old boy, gets Sue, a rebellious but equally naïve girl of fifteen, to try out their sexuality in the back seat of a car. Sue gets pregnant and, with her parents’ angry push, puts the baby up for adoption. The baby is adopted by an anonymous couple unable to have children of their own.

Years pass, and the baby named Joan grows up to be an attractive, liberated young woman. By chance she meets Joe who is older and wiser. They fall in love and, not knowing that Joe is Joan’s father, move in together. Their sexual relations are wonderful. They enjoy sexual intercourse frequently; their love for each other and their commitment to one another grows.

Stop! Here is the first question of the thought experiment.

A) Is this relationship acceptable or unacceptable? Why? Remember that they are deeply in love and committed to one another. Remember that they are unaware of their relationship. Answer this question now before going on to B.

B) Now, let’s add an additional element: Joe and Joan belatedly learn that they are father and daughter. What should they do? Why? As before, answer this question before going on to C.

C) Now let’s add another element: Joan becomes pregnant with their child.

1) If Joe and Joan are unaware of their relationship, should the pregnancy continue? Why? Why not?

2) Joe and Joan become aware of their blood relationship, but their love and commitment remain strong. What should they do? Joan gets an abortion? Take the risk a negative genetic outcome? Why? Answer these questions before going on to D.

D) Finally, let’s add that hint I mentioned earlier: Science eliminates or edits any negative genes in Joan’s and Joe’s baby. Does this change your answers or have your answers remained the same?

I said at the beginning that this is a thought experiment. Your answers say much about you and your commitment to rationality or tradition. It reveals your imagination, your compassion.

Regardless of how you answered, this experiment makes you think and realize that reality is not as neatly arranged as you once thought. The important thing is that you thought…and that’s always good.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on March 2015

 

May 21

Sex for Fun and Profit—Part 2

In Brief— The author reaches back in memory to reveal a few of his adventures with sexuality during his tossed salad life.


Sex Is Popular Because It’s Centrally Located—

Once a long, long time ago I was a child who was, like most kids, curious about lots of things, not least sexuality and, more specifically, about my own sexuality. This is the tale of how my curiosity about sex led me to where I am today. It’s unique to me, but readers may see bits of themselves in this tale.

Sexuality Sends Forth a Bud—

In the 1930s, when a kid started asking questions like “Where does a baby come from?” enlightened parents gave the kid a book that was supposed to answer those questions. For me, a recitation on the sex life of an insect or basic human anatomy served only to raise more questions. But I didn’t ask.

It was a soft summer day when I was ready to see if the other kids were right in saying, “I peed in my pants when I came down the hill.” I ran and did a belly-flopper onto the Flexi-Flier and headed down the hill. It wasn’t long before the vibrations made me pee in my pants. Years later, I realized that it wasn’t pee…I was ejaculating. My sexuality was showing itself.

Like most pubescent youngsters, I was critical of what I saw as my physical shortcomings. “I’m too skinny.” “My scrawny legs don’t have big muscles.” So what did I do? I read sex manuals on female anatomy and how to sexually satisfy a woman. On finding an upper body exercise device in my dad’s closet, I began working out. I was so compulsive that my alarmed mother said, “Stop, you’re getting a bull neck!” That sublimated sex drive opened doors in later life.

A Youngster Grows Up—

I was thirty-years-old before discovering that females found me attractive. Like a turtle slowly coming out of its shell, I began experimenting with this new-found power. Becoming a lawyer accelerated the experimentation…and the attraction.

One young woman taught me that my inherent shyness was hindering the excitement of love-making when she tactfully asked, “Don’t you ever talk when making love?” I was forty-years-old, for crying out loud! Forty! But I learned a valuable lesson about sex. Spin fantasies, be blunt about what you’re experiencing. You’re never too old to learn…even about sex.

One incident during my hippie lawyer years exposed me to the world of spouse-swapping. In our hippie garb, this leather-clad, long-haired lawyer and two or three lovely young women of my acquaintance entered a notorious swapping club. Around the dance floor sat a number of straight-looking couples, at least half of whom probably didn’t want to be there. The curt waitress who served our drinks clearly felt these hippies didn’t belong there.

We were watched by the couples frozen at their tables. We slowly danced and sexily circled around each other. We were the show and knew it. When I paid the bill, I laid a big tip on the waitress who was obviously completely stunned. In just seconds, the manager appeared, obsequious to a fault, to invite us to come again. We never did, but it was an interesting learning experience.

Then there was the time when, as a well-muscled lawyer whose compulsive nature led me to being offered to teach pottery on weekends, I jumped at the chance. I’d observed that most of the students were females between 18 and 40. I was like a kid with unlimited credit in a candy store.

Needless to say, I acquired a reputation as a ladies man. That reputation not only introduced me to several wonderful women but it nearly cost me the love of my life. I learned that sexuality is a double-edged sword: it can bring great pleasure, but it can destroy as well. As I said, you’re never too old to learn. All it takes is paying attention.

Now I’m an old man basking in memories of earlier years. My lovely wife of nearly forty years visits me and is my strong right arm doing for me what I can no longer do for myself. Sex is past, but remembrance fills my days and fuels this blog. I’m glad for the experiences described here and for all the experiences that have filled my life.

Next week is the final part. It’s a thought experiment that may shock some readers but is guaranteed to generate thought. Thinking is always good. Let me know what you think about this part and check out Part 3.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on February 2015

 

May 14

Sex for Fun and Profit—Part 1

In Brief— A both prurient and serious look at our midsections, the ecstasy, the warnings and the dangers. [Written in February 2017.]

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Sex is Popular Because It’s Centrally Located—

Prostitution. It’s said to be the world’s oldest profession. Why? What’s so special about sexual intercourse? Why do so many of us, from politicians and prudes to kids and elders, both males and females, gravitate to it like iron filings to a magnet? This piece examines the attraction we all feel with this intimate part of our bodies.

“Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it…” goes the old Cole Porter song. Humans have copulated since before we came down out of the trees and continued our evolutionary climb. Contrary to what religion tells us, procreation was merely a secondary result of the instinct that exists in many of Earth’s species. It’s a way for nature to perpetuate the species, but the instinct comes first.

That short prelude of Biology 101 is merely an introduction to today’s anything-goes society in which we find aging stars writing tell-all books to titillate a voyeuristic audience, young people “sexting” on their smartphones, politicians bragging about their sexual exploits and married couples risking divorce by swapping spouses. As I said at the outset, our sexuality is at the center of not only our bodies but of society.

Dangers, Warnings and Exploiters—

What are some of the dangers to be found in the realm of sex?

There are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, crabs and others. Often a person with an STD doesn’t even know s/he is infected, but they can result in an inability to have children or even death if the disease is untreated.

What about HIV/AIDS? While the ones mentioned above can be cured or eliminated, this life-long viral disease can only be treated but not cured. Sure, there are protections, but how often are sexual partners so eager to ball that protection doesn’t even flicker through their overheated minds? Face it, the contraceptive pill isn’t a protection against anything but pregnancy.

This little blog is not designed to answer questions. For that, Planned Parenthood or a doctor should be consulted, but I would be remiss for failing to mention the danger of the exploiters. These people, males and females, are in the sex trade for the money, the “profit” of the title.

“Trafficking,” providing sex to ready buyers, doesn’t take place only in Asia, Latin American countries or Europe, it takes place in America and every corner of the world. The exploiters often take advantage of the vulnerable young victims by promises of jobs, fame and money only to exploit or brutalize them into submission and servitude. Sex sells whether it’s a vulnerable victim or a willing prostitute.

We can see that there are dangers associated with the human libido that can lurk behind the joy to be found. There are sexually transmitted diseases and greedy traffickers, as well as the expected physical and emotional release we usually think of. There is occasional physical pain and the emotional pain of unfulfilled sexual longing.

Additionally, let’s not forget the physical and emotional pain associated with exploitation of vulnerable young people by repressed adults with power over their victims. Religion, and particularly the Catholic Church, has revealed this hidden crime. Here, we see the power of sexuality fully exposed.

Last of all, but definitely not least, is rape. It may be a mistake to call this a sexual crime. In fact, it is a crime of power, of coercion. Rape is more than a crime, it is a sign of moral weakness. The Catholic Church particularly must take meaningful steps on this front.

Sex for Young and Old—

Finally, sexual intercourse is a magnet for all of us whether in the vitality of youth or the complaints of the old. The young have very little real world experience or much sense but loads of flooding hormones. The elderly have both experience and sense (in most cases) but want companionship to ease the loss of virility or partners. Young people seek adventure and conquests while old folks look for comfort when faced with the inevitable guarantee of oblivion.

On that note, I conclude today’s lesson with an awareness that sexuality encompasses far more than what has been presented. Next week, I’ll expose a little of myself, but until then readers can tell me what I’ve overlooked today.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on January 2015

 

May 07

Further Thoughts on Free Will

In Brief— In an effort to expand on the author’s views on the mythology of free will, this piece looks at the issue from a different angle. [Written in February 2017.]

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Nature and Nurture Shape Us, But…

Okay! This article is a bit of a pause from the turmoil swirling around us, but it’ll take only a few minutes of your time and give you something to think about before you wade into the mucky waters that threaten to drown us. Thinking is always good.

Nature, or more accurately, our genetic makeup is a significant part of who we are, but our environment, or nurture, becomes dominant the moment we are conceived. Our parents endow us with the genes that shape us, but then the environment becomes the boss. Since it’s impossible to see the future waiting around the corner, I won’t speculate on scientists manipulating those genes and will instead discuss those environmental nudges that make us who we are.

So what does this have to do with free will? Indeed, what is free will?

Free will is basically defined as an individual’s ability to decide for him-or-herself what action s/he will take.

That developing embryo in the womb finds itself subject to assorted environmental influences. What if the pregnant female smokes, drinks alcohol, uses drugs? What if the pregnant female eats only healthful foods and experiences no anxiety-producing situations? What if the pregnant female is beaten or flees falling bombs? What if the pregnant female has lead in her system from a deprived childhood or survives a self-induced abortion? All of these scenarios and countless others affect the unborn child.

The Baby is Born and Grows Up—

Baby Adam or Brittany is raised by loving, informed parents who read to her/him and help the child grow into a healthy independent adult in an orderly, peaceful and democratic society. Alternatively, Adam or Brittany grows up in a dismal, dysfunctional, dog-eat-dog society where s/he eats flaking lead window paint, can be shot at any time and where there are no inducements to learn anything but survival. Yet another alternative is Adam or Brittany flees dying at the hands of the enemy or seeks a life free of grinding poverty, slow starvation and rampant corruption. There are, of course, numerous other options not touched on here.

These few examples illustrate the possibilities a person faces depending on the circumstances of that person’s life. Good fortune or bad can determine how that person reacts to forks in the road that face each of us.

Previously, I have pointed out that free will is a concept that survives mainly in religion and the law. In religion, free will is a cornerstone that allows religionists to believe that their deity gave humans the ability to freely decide whether their actions are right or wrong, good or evil.

The law — which originally grew out of religion — is largely lazy in refusing to recognize that humans are creatures shaped by their environment. The law, though it is beginning to change, too frequently turns a blind eye on scientific research that shows an undeniable link between a person’s environment and his/her actions.

In sum, free will is a myth. These few examples reveal how our genes and our environment influence our decision-making. Depending on the environment that a person is exposed to, whether pre-natal or after birth, a person is inexorably influenced in his/her decision-making. In short, free will is yet another myth that influences our lives. Failing to acknowledge that reality is indicative of an inability to acknowledge reality.

Okay, now you can return to the turmoil that threatens us…but you’ll have something to think about in your spare moments.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on December 2014

 

Apr 30

Capitalism Plus Human Nature Equal Extinction

 

In Brief— An explanation of how capitalism coupled with human nature is leading inexorably toward the extinction of humanity. [Written in January 2017.]


Eat, Drink, Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die—

Imagine we are on an eastward-bound train from Chicago to New York. Now substitute “Life’s Goals” for Chicago and “Death” for New York. Next imagine that we are walking from the front of the eastward-bound train toward the back (i.e., toward Chicago). We may think we are headed for our life’s goals, but we are, in fact, headed for death. Put simply, despite what we think, we are going to die.

The title of this piece— Capitalism Plus Human Nature Equal Extinction— is deliberately intended to provoke thought and possibly debate. I may be wrong in my conclusion, but I don’t think so.

Capitalism is generally defined as an economic system based on trade that is intended to give its owners a profit. This is a summation of assorted definitions, but the key concept is “profit.”

Human Nature is essentially those aspects of human personality that are found in all of us regardless of gender, origin or financial position. Human Nature includes both positive and negative aspects. Examples are benevolence, selfishness, energy, laziness, social consciousness, power-seeking and so on. Think of an adjective and it’s probably part of the human species. The title of this piece is actually redundant because profit-seeking is part of being human.

I have said that humanity has a no better than 5% chance of surviving this century. I have been accused of being pessimistic to which I point out that I’m a realist and actually optimistic in giving humanity a 5% chance of survival. Odds are it’s lower.

Why do I give humanity a no better than 5% chance of surviving this century? The answer goes back to the train analogy in the opening paragraphs of this piece.

Let’s consider an example of the scientist or technician who comes up with a new widget. S/he doesn’t do this out of the goodness of her/his heart. S/he gets paid a salary. In some cases, the inventor files a patent or sets up an organization to exploit that invention and make a profit. There’s that word again…profit.

Profit is entirely normal and part of human nature. How then does making a profit lead to extinction? Look at human nature and what it means. Humans want their efforts, their investments, to be successful. They want their businesses to grow. They want their profits to grow. They look for ways to assure that growth. Enter politics, greed and more, parts of human nature.

The world is built on a capitalistic framework. Every person, every company, every nation works to assure that their system succeeds, that their system becomes dominant. Human nature assures that whatever is needed, whether fair or foul, will be used to guarantee that their system wins. For them to win means others must lose. It’s a zero-sum world. Game Theory.

As long as there is a profit motive, there is the effort to outcompete the other guy. As long as there are winners and losers, the road leads only toward extinction. Why so?

Human nature again. It’s a big world in which the governing rule is survive or die. Since humans don’t want to die—although we all tend to forget that The Grim Reaper awaits us all—it is necessary to beat the other person regardless of what it takes.

Is extinction the end station on humanity’s trip? Try as I might, I can think of no alternative. Am I overlooking something?

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on November 2014

Apr 23

Global Climate Change is REAL

In Brief— A presentation of facts verifying that humanity and other species are endangered by man-made climate change. [Written in December 2016-January 2017.]

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Neither Science Nor a Deity Will Save Humanity—

Whoosh. Splat! Representative Ignoramus throws a snowball in congress exclaiming that because it’s snowing like crazy in Washington D.C. climate change is a hoax. Not only is he ignorant but he believes that the local weather is indicative of the climate all over the globe.

Otherwise intelligent people believe this myth proving once again that people will believe what they want to believe even though they are proven wrong by solid evidence. If some of Donald Trump’s appointees say human-caused global climate change is a hoax and this nonsense is reported on television by guests on Fox News or is written in Breitbart News then that’s good enough for credulous people who want to believe it.

If crazy Uncle Charlie—who dropped his pants and danced on the table before astonished guests at last Saturday’s wedding—says global climate change is a hoax, that’s enough reason for some people to buy Uncle Charlie’s hogwash.

NASA photos and 97% of climate scientists believe that human-caused global warming is taking place. Note that these are scientists who have researched the world’s climate and have written peer-reviewed papers that show how humans are affecting our planet. Only about 3% refute that percentage and attempt to cast doubt on the causes of global warming, often saying that what we are seeing is merely a temporary phenomenon. One wonders if they may have an ulterior motive such as support for the fossil fuel industry.

 Human-Caused Global Climate Change Examples—

Let’s look at a few examples of how global climate change is affecting the planet.

Coral in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, particularly the northern part of the reef, is bleaching, dying or already dead. Why? As you may know, warmer ocean water heated by global warming is deadly to coral which is made up of colonies of little creatures that require cooler water to survive. The coral is like a nursery for numerous fish that feed the hunger of the world’s people. Those fish are disappearing along with the coral.

How about the North and South poles? At the North Pole, the sea ice is melting at such a rate that during the summer of 2017 ships will probably be able to transit from one great ocean to the other. What this portends for the near future has climate scientists alarmed. The New York Times points out the impact of the melting sea ice on the polar bear population indicating that the bears are headed for extinction thanks to human activity.

The South Pole presents a different picture. Wind patterns result in a small increase in interior ice but coastal areas show a marked increase in melting. Within months, scientist expect to see the collapse of an ice shelf that will create an iceberg the size of Delaware. That iceberg will melt in the warming waters of the sea. Ice melts; oceans rise. Global warming strikes again.

Now let’s move to little Sweden. The glacier atop the country’s tallest mountain, Kebnekaise, is shrinking because it is melting. The tree line of Sweden’s pine forests is climbing. Insects previously seen in the southern part of the country are now regularly found in northern Sweden.

The glaciers in Glacier National Park will soon be only a memory. I’ve personally seen a glacier on South Island in New Zealand that used to reach the sea but now requires a hike of several kilometers before one arrives at the face of the glacier. The rivers that supply the food and water to millions of Asians depend on the glaciers of the Himalayas. Those glaciers are melting. The story is the same wherever you go on Earth. This era is known as the Anthropocene. Humanity is making its mark on the climate, on Earth itself.

Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States. Contrary to the overwhelming evidence and simple common sense, he has taken steps to reverse America’s commitment to lowering the amount of of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Although America’s commitment is already inadequate, the impact of a further assault on global climate change guarantees the extinction of numerous species and possibly humanity itself.

Global climate change is real. We are going to experience its wrath. Check the evidence out yourself and prepare for the worst.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on October 2014

Apr 16

America: Torture “R” U.S.

In Brief — With Mike Pompeo — who believes in torture and “black sites”— as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it’s time to look at America’s use of torture since the earliest days when colonists arrived on the country’s shores and stole the land from the natives. This piece examines the American use of torture against those deemed to be the “enemy” du jour.


Torture Reveals the Stupidity of the Torturer—

Torture!

Every nation on the planet has used torture, but since the overwhelming majority of this blog’s readers are Americans, this piece discusses the use of torture by America. Despite what some want to believe, America is NOT exceptional.

The United Nations passed a treaty known as the Convention Against Torture. The U.S. signed and ratified that treaty and is bound by it. Essentially, it defines torture and sets forth the conditions binding the signatories to abide by its provisions. You can read this treaty by clicking on the highlighted portion above.

In Salem, Massachusetts and elsewhere in the American colonies during the 17th Century, the inhabitants, overwhelmingly religious folks, believed there were witches among them. To get the accused to confess, the accusers often believed it was necessary to torture the accused individuals into confessing before executing them. Though a person subjected to torture will normally admit anything to get the pain to stop, the accused was nevertheless executed—often in a cruel way — regardless of a confession or a claim of innocence.

Then there was Slavery. It’s right there in the Christian Bible approved by God. It’s what made capitalism successful and was widely used, even by several of the founding fathers. It was certainly an essential part of the culture of southern states before being abolished after the Civil War. As a matter of fact, slavery survives today in America although it has changed appearances. A number of corporations, and even the American government itself, take advantage of America’s large prison population, disproportionately people of color, to maximize profits.

But back to torture. Many slave owners, some of whom were alleged to be kind to their slaves, forced sexual intercourse on them. We call it rape. The Southerners were afraid their chattel would rebel and used assorted methods of torture to keep the slaves passive and cooperative. Brutal whipping was a common method of assuring cooperation. When whipping was not felt to be adequate, lynching uncooperative slaves was an accepted remedy. Fear of excruciating pain or death usually did the trick.

Moving on, we come to the 19th Century’s Spanish-American War and its offshoot in the Philippines. There are documented cases of American soldiers using waterboarding against the “enemy” of that period. As we now know, waterboarding is simulated drowning that has been used against prisoners, often repeatedly, at Guantanamo and in assorted black sites in America’s ongoing “War on Terror.” For the record, waterboarding is torture. Indeed, Trump-appointed CIA Director Pompeo and numerous Republicans would like to bring back not just waterboarding but other so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods.

How about the Vietnam War that resulted in ignominious defeat for America? It should be noted that the Vietnamese refer to the war as the American War. Though we remember the infamous My Lai Massacre, torture was routinely part of American policy, notably in the Phoenix Program, the failed policy that was designed to undermine Viet Cong advances. My Lai and Phoenix were only the tip of the iceberg.

Putting aside the execrable mistreatment of suspects by police and the horror of America’s prisons, we have the well-known Abu Ghraib tortures and America’s rendition of Muslim suspects to countries known to torture prisoners. Sweden, America’s poodle, participated in rendition, by the way. Despite what American apologists claim, the American government knew that torture was routinely used in those countries. That’s why suspects were delivered there.

I have barely touched on the issue in order to show that America is eyeball-deep in torture and oppression from the earliest days and, indeed, wants to return to that execrable policy. Want to get educated? I suggest you read history scholar Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” or check out America’s history of torture on the Internet.

Another source that will enlighten readers is “Beyond Homan Square: US History is Steeped in Torture” by Adam Hudson. This piece and Mr. Hudson’s article on police torture will strip away any ignorance that exists about the shameful stain that runs through American history up to the present. CLICK on the highlighted area to get the horrifying truth.

Torture is an American staple. It is said that “The truth will set you free.” If that is the case and despite the Trump administration’s effort to redefine “truth,” let’s make America live up to its motto, “The land of the free.” As in “free of torture.”

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on September 2014

Apr 09

Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home—Part 12

In Brief— The author’s experiences in the warehouse we call home. Sometimes there are surprises from the gray-haired residents. And then, there are other more serious matters.

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Everybody Dies One Day—

It seems a trivial thing to fight over, but that’s what happened recently. “I’m going to kill that S.O.B.,” preceded the fisticuffs between the two old men. The personnel had to separate the two. So what was the source of their ire? A bowl of potato chips and candy! I said it was trivial. The good news here is that hope remains: testosterone still flows in wrinkled male bodies.

As I write this on Friday the 13th, several thoughts strike me: 1) In my last posting I mentioned that a new man with Parkinson’s joined our little group; 2) There was briefly another vacant room when one of our number reached her destination. It has now been filled by an old woman who sleeps a lot but waves to me when she’s awake; 3) This being Friday the 13th says “Superstition” may be a good topic for a future blog piece. Of course you won’t read this until April, and there won’t be another Friday the 13th until October.

By the way, that fantasy I mentioned in my previous Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home has been written and will go public for a week starting on March 5. Remember, although it may ring some bells, it’s a fantasy.

Since I have little to do but think any more—and assuming the personnel who care for us survive the assorted ills that afflict humanity—it occurred to me that they will someday wind up in this or another warehouse for old folks and that they will eventually shuffle off the mortal coil. As if that fact isn’t sobering enough, the people who visit us will also get off the train at their own destinations. In fact, everything living has an expiration date. Indeed, not just plants and animals, but the planet itself… the solar system…the universe.

Recently, prompted by a book I read, I wrote a blog piece on immortality asking readers if they would want to live forever. One of the immortal characters in the book looked with envy at a dead man. Though impossible, it’s a tempting fantasy to think of living forever, but think about the Trump presidency and ask yourself if post-Trump America will be a democracy or an autocracy. Would you want to live in a dictatorship? Or, what if you are imprisoned and tortured? Both negative and positive, the possibilities for America and the world are too numerous to contemplate.

I wonder when the train we’re on will stop at my destination. For several generations on my mother’s side of the family, the longevity is extraordinary. To live as long as they lived is a nightmare, a curse, for me. On the other hand, my father’s side of the family is short-lived. The longest they have lived is into their seventies. I’ve already exceeded that. Like that immortal man just described, I look with envy on my father’s side of the family. I hope and I wonder.

Good friends tell me my writing can be an inspiration for others. Beyond the facts that I harbor suspicions my friends are being kind in stroking my ego and that I’m nowhere near as skilled a writer as I want to be, this little blog will stop one day and the world will go on its merry way as if I’d never existed. Anyway, I hope and I wonder.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on August 2014

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Apr 02

Creatures Large and Small—Part 2

In Brief— With apologies to James Herriot, the author rambles through some of his experiences with the beloved dogs who enrich our lives and are a part of the animal kingdom that shares the planet with us.

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Man’s Best Friend—

“Oh, you shouldn’t do that, Nikko,” she said in a simpering voice. Her dim-witted King George Spaniel, probably the stupidest breed in the world, was on the table eating the snacks intended for us humans. No doubt my daughter would chide me saying, “It’s the owner, not the dog,” but in this case it was both.

For a change of pace and a jump up the intelligence scale, we bought our first family dog in early 1995. Our children, ages 9 and 12, were delighted. My wife and I were hooked. Although we had narrowed the list down to two breeds, I predicted that we’d get the first dog we saw. I was right. We bought a Blue Merle Shetland Sheepdog—usually called a Sheltie—who was five months old and the only pup left. He was relieved and we were smitten.

One fall afternoon when Zerro was less than a year old we met with a group of mothers and children on a hillside field. Our daughter proudly displayed young Zerro. A little boy begged to hold the leash and promptly dropped it. Frightened, Zerro took off up the hill into the forest. I gave chase, but the puppy was scared by the clatter of the plastic handle dragging behind him. I was no match for the fleet-footed puppy. While my wife and distraught daughter headed for the car and alerted the police, I searched the forest.

The late afternoon sun faded as darkness fell. Still no Zerro. I feared he might be snagged somewhere in the forest. At last, my wife and daughter found him sitting in the parking lot at the exact spot where we started. He had returned to the place he remembered from earlier in the day. Smart? Is the pope Catholic?

Zerro was a cat chaser. One day, he chased the neighbor’s cat up a tree. Since the cat was too scared to come down, the neighbor had to bring a ladder and bring the frightened cat down. Did I tell him how the cat got there? No, I was too embarrassed.

Zerro figured out that if he brought a snowball to me I would throw it. He had me well trained. Many hours were spent with me throwing the snowball in the hope that it would reach the street. It never did, but my arm sure got tired.

When he was about ten, we figured he needed a canine companion. Millie, the ultra-independent sobel, entered the picture. As a puppy, she felt it was her duty to harass Zerro. Ever the gentle and patient dog, he downed her with his chin, but she’d get up and come right back and he’d down her again. Eventually, she grew up…or he got too old.

Little Millie fell in love. Our neighbor’s huge Leonberger was the object of her affection. As soon as she saw him, she’d race down the hill to lavish him with her enthusiastic affection. He ignored her, but the love continued until he died. Millie missed him.

As his fifteenth birthday approached, Zerro declined. On one occasion I had to carry him outside to do his duty beside the gooseberry bush where he used to pluck and eat the berries. I like to think he looked at me with appreciation. The medicine helped for a while but the vet told us Zerro was going to die.

Two days before he was to be euthanized, we took him for an outing in the country. The photo I have of him on that day shows an old dog, a well-loved family member, looking at the camera with a sad awareness that time was short.

On the appointed day, the entire family was there to say goodbye and reassure him. The smells of the animal hospital made him anxious. He was nervous and tense. The vet gave him a tranquilizing shot and he finally lay down and relaxed. We stroked him and murmured reassuring words as the final shot stopped his gallant heart. He was gone and part of me went with him that day.

I have told my wife that when Millie’s time comes to depart, I want her to be in her own home surrounded by the family who loved her.

To my final day, I’ll carry Zerro in my heart.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on July 2014

 

Add The Weekly Sampler. July 2014.

Mar 26

Creatures Large and Small—Part 1

In Brief— With apologies to James Herriot, the author rambles through some of his experiences with a few of the furry and feathered creatures that share this planet with us.

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Anyone Who Loves Animals Can’t Be All Bad—

The little lady squirrel sat on my knee eating sunflower seeds out of my hand. Bold as brass with her soft little paws, teats testifying to a brood of baby squirrels in a nearby tree, she cracked the shells and ate the nuts within as if she hadn’t a care in the world. Sated, she slowly hopped across the yard and disappeared into the forest.

That was just one incident that not only enriched my life but showed me that our fellow creatures are smarter than we ever imagined. They showed me that it is essential for humanity to preserve and nurture earth’s creatures for the future. We are all part of that great web of life that has endured since we evolved from the seas all those millennia ago.

That little squirrel came from the feeding station I erected next to the forest when we moved to Sweden. It consisted of a pole atop which sat a small platform that I stocked each day with sunflower seeds for the birds, squirrels and deer that regularly emerged from the forest, particularly during the late fall, winter and spring when their food was scarce. Four large bags of sunflower seeds was not unusual. The deer fed on the seeds that dropped on the ground, but the other creatures relied on the elevated feeding platform.

Intelligent Feathered Creatures—

How many times have you heard the put-down “bird brain?” Youtube features a clever crow figuring out how to get food from a device to measure a crow’s intelligence. I can personally attest to the fact that magpies, members of the intelligent crow family, are unbelievably smart. Magpies mate for life. Watch one magpie and you will usually see the mate nearby.

Two incidents stand out. One day I watched a magpie struggle with a long stick intended to be part of a nest being built next to the warmth emanating from our chimney. That in itself shows their intelligence. Try as s/he might, the magpie was unable to get the long stick to the chimney top. S/he called his/her mate to help. One bird held one end while the other took the opposite end. Together they flew the stick up to the chimney. What I watched was cooperation.

Every winter, stores sold suet balls coated with seeds for the small birds. Each ball was enclosed in a plastic net. Knowing that the magpies would steal the suet balls if they could reach them, I suspended a ball from a tree branch so it couldn’t be reached from above or below, but the little birds could easily cling to the net. A magpie landed on the upper branch, paused to consider the problem, then grasped the string and reeled in the suet ball until s/he could reach it. S/he ripped open the net with his/her beak, the ball fell and s/he picked it up to carry to the nest. Stupid? Not!

Our Large Furred Friends—

One evening I started down the driveway for the evening constitutional with the dog when the dog suddenly reacted. I looked to the right and saw two large moose in the neighbor’s driveway about fifteen feet away. Since moose can sometimes be aggressive, I froze in my tracks as we eyed one another. Slowly, the moose moved down the driveway and crossed the street into the trees. Only then did we continue the evening walk.

So why was I leery of two moose? Earlier, a good friend was chased down the street by an angry mother moose who felt her young calf was threatened. Only an oncoming car served to break off what could have been a very dangerous encounter.

For those who aren’t familiar with moose or possibly only at a distance, when they are accidentally hit by a car at dusk they cause considerable damage to both moose and car. As an aside, it should be noted that a moose’s fur is coated with oily lanolin that protects it from the weather.

Just outside of town is Moosegarden where tourists can see moose up close and personal. In the nearby shop, they sell stationery made from moose droppings. “Ugh,” you say, but those droppings are pure cellulose that is turned into paper. Want to drop an unusual note to Aunt Lulu? Stop by Moosegarden.

One other occasion occurs to me. Our train was moving ver-ry slowly through the deep winter snow. At last, a curve revealed the reason for our snail’s pace: a moose thought it was easier to walk on the railroad right-of-way than fight the deep snow. Eventually, he decided the iron monster following him wasn’t going away.

It helps to live close to both nature and civilization, but I’ve run out of space so I’ll continue in Part 2. Meanwhile, your pet may not be part of nature in the raw, but is smarter than you think.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15 blog for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on June 2014

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