Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Bad News!" . . . as in "Bad Dog!"

The article under discussion starts like this:
In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognized the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-colored candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognize how toxic news can be.
Now, I don't know what to say about this. All my life I've been a news junkie. I can't get through the day without knowing what's going on, I read editorials and commentary incessantly, and I look forward to watching the PBS news every weekday. But I have to confess I have not been happy with the way news is gone, particularly mass media news, over the past 20 years. More and more mindless. Ever more dumbed down. Fluff, celebrities, so-called "human interest" stories, and thin thinking. I've even begun to be disgruntled with the PBS news, which I think is following the larger trend, although they're a great pains to deny it.

Here the catalog of sins committed by the news media according to this piece which makes it unprofitable if not to say discomforting to read the news and especially follow it on TV.
  • News misleads: Car drives of the bridge, bridge collapses. Focus of the news: the car and the person, not the structural integrity of the bridge, which is the real news. "News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.
  • News is irrelevant: Name one article out of 10,000 or so that you watched or read last year that helped you make a better decision about some serious thing affecting your life, job, or career. Can't do it. But media organizations try to convince you that if you don't know the news, you are at some sort of disadvantage. Lots of people fall for this. We get anxious when the cut off from the flow of news. "In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have."
  • News has no explanatory power: accumulating facts will not help you understand the world. "The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that developed below the journalists' radar but have a transformative effect. The more "news factoids" you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand."
  • News is toxic to your body: the bottom line here is bad news, panicky stories increase your stress level, and since that's just about the only kind of news there is, the stress is chronic. There are number of other baleful effects. Read the piece.
  • News increases cognitive errors: "News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias in the words of Warren Buffet: 'What a human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.' News exacerbates this flaw.' also exacerbates another cognitive error, story bias. We want stories to make sense, even when they don't correspond to reality. The "news" always explains stories so they make sense, and unrealistic and cheap way of explaining the world.
  • News inhibits thinking: "Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. Not only does news make us shallow thinkers but worse, it severely affects our memory. anything we want to remember has to pass through the long-range memory/short term memory choke point in our brains. "If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension."
  • News works like a drug: This is really scary, and I've noticed the symptoms myself. "His stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientist used to think that the dense connections formed among the hundred billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time he reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It's not because they get older or their schedules become more onerous. It's because the physical structure of their brains has changed."
  • News wastes time: Think about it. How much time every day do you spend snatching this piece of news or that piece of news? And then the distraction and the refocus time. How much does it add up to? Probably more than half a day a week.
  • News makes us passive: You cannot influence things you learn in news stories. Their daily repetition makes us passive. "It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitize, sarcastic, and fatalistic."
  • News kills creativity: things we already know limit our creativity. If you want to come up with all solutions, read news. If you're looking for new solutions, don't.
The author of the article ends with this paragraph: "I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It's not easy, but it's worth it."

I'm not at all sure that I can do this. I'm afraid I'm hooked like a druggie on news, and I have been all my life. But I've noticed and worried about my shortened attention span, my lessening ability to focus, my impatience with long reads. Not good. Not good at all.

Don't know if weaning off news is possible. But I sure would like to give it a try. Monday's coming, start of a new news week. Hmmmmmm.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Someone Was Murdered, Take 1

Susan and I have a just right-sized retirement house. No room wasted. So my "Boss" chair and ottoman is located in living/TV room. It's where I read the morning paper. Well, since the George Zimmerman trial has started, Susan's been watching it and by osmosis, if not by interest--and I cannot deny there has been more than some of that on my part--I have absorbed a good bit of the court proceedings in Florida. The American legal process is something to behold in its nitty gritty. The prosecution's star witnesses, a 19-year old girl named Rachel Jeantel, daughter of a Haitian immigrant mother and father from Santo Domingo, spent the better part of two grueling days of testimony most of it from the defense attorney about the conversation she had with Treyvon Martin on the night he shot to death in Sanford, Florida.

You will recall that she was on the phone with Treyvon Martin as he was being followed by George Zimmerman and at the early part of the confrontation between them. It is amazing to me that a lawyer can ask the same questions of the same witness numerous times before finally (and mercifully for the viewers and the witness) the judge puts a halt to it. To me, it was perfectly obvious that the defense lawyer was trying to catch her in an inconsistency. One slip, not answering the same question precisely the same way, and he would pounce.

Rachel Jeantel under the gun, Zimmerman trial, Sanford FL, June 27, 2013
It was relentless. Over and over, the same question. And not just two or three times. Eight, ten times. If it had been me, the lawyer would have probably gotten under my thin skin pretty quickly, and I would have been snappish if not downright confrontational after answering the same question two or three times. I personally thought she held up really well under the barrage, but her irritation was at times palpable. I remarked to Susan that this black teenager proved to be every bit the equal of the powerful white, beautifully manicured, impeccably spoken lawyer. She is not highly educated (she's a ghetto black teen, for Pete's sake), she doesn't speak the king's English, but she's not stupid. She refused to be tricked, refused to have words put into her mouth, refused to let her dead friend be blamed for his own death. She knew what she heard on the phone, and she knew what it meant. The bottom line here is: somebody got murdered, and this trial is about holding that murderer to account.

There's a flood of commentary about this witness out there. Here's a sample:

The Nation
The Raw Story

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Accent, Great! Sentiments, Better!

I do wish I could embed this video. I've tried for a little while to size it properly to play in the blog and I cannot do it. Therefore I'm forced to post just the link, which adds a layer of inconvenience to your getting to see this. Her name is Clare Daly and she's a member of the Irish Parliament, and she's got some trenchant words for our commander-in-chief. The kind of thing you're not going to ever hear on the floors of the Congress.

Before I forget, here's the link. (Whaddya know? As I was putting this up, I figured out how to embed the video. So how's that for convenience?)

She's upset about the hypocrisy of the American president on several scores, most of them having to do with his ever pious protestations about peace. I cannot say that I'm not similarly disgusted.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Killing the University

The title of the piece is "How the American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps." And it's appalling of course. I forget at this point exactly how I ran across this. But the subject always trips my trigger, so I thought I'd tell you about too. It's a long read, as these things go, but worth it, I think. Not only to get the argument, but to get it from the perspective of a guy named who's truly been victimized by the state of affairs . . . he's an adjunct professor somewhere, by definition overworked and grossly underpaid, and further a person devoted to learning and the life of the mind. This last description of course in this society designates him as somebody pretty much useless for any "productive" role in the economy. I was astonished to learn not long ago that 75 percent of the teaching faculty in American colleges and universities are temps and adjuncts. But upon reflection, I had to realize: but of course. It would have to be this way, given what the premise of the article is. That the American University is already dead.

Here's the way the argument runs, the five steps:
  1. First, you defund public education
  2. Second, you deprofessionalize and impoverish the professors (and continue to create a surplus of underemployed and unemployed Ph.D.s)
  3. Step #3: You move in a managerial/administrative class who take over governance of the university. 
  4.  Step Four: You move in corporate culture and corporate money
  5. Destroy the students
Obviously, all of these are filled out in considerable detail, but I want to highlight only the last "destroy the students." Let me quote:
This is accomplished through a two-prong tactic: you dumb down and destroy the quality of the education so that no one on campus is really learning to think, to question, to reason. Instead, they are learning to obey, to withstand “tests” and “exams”, to follow rules, to endure absurdity and abuse. Our students have been denied full-time available faculty, the ability to develop mentors and advisors, faculty-designed syllabi which changes each semester, a wide variety of courses and options. Instead, more and more universities have core curriculum which dictates a large portion of the course of study, in which the majority of classes are administrative-designed “common syllabi” courses, taught by an army of underpaid, part-time faculty in a model that more closely resembles a factory or the industrial kitchen of a fast food restaurant than an institution of higher learning.
The Second Prong:  You make college so insanely unaffordable that only the wealthiest students from the wealthiest of families can afford to go to the school debt free. Younger people may not know that for much of the 20th Century many universities in the U.S. were free – including the CA state system – you could establish residency in six months and go to Berkeley for free, or at very low cost. When I was an undergraduate student in the mid to late 1970s, tuition at Temple University was around $700 a year. Today, tuition is nearly $15,000 a year. Tuitions have increased, using CA as an example again, over 2000% since the 1970s. 2000%! This is the most directly dangerous situation for our students: pulling them into crippling debt that will follow them to the grave.
Under this same general rubric, he also alleges an unholy alliance between the leading lending istitutions, our friends the big banks, and university financial aid departments, a "shady partnership" developing between them. After we've learn what else these banks have done, can we truly doubt that they've got their greedy tentacles around this victim too? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Speaking of Dying

I read that there's been another example of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." It's not surprising to me that the incident takes place in Tennessee, a state renowned for its progressive views on just about any subject as long as it's barbeque or the UT Vols. Here's the scenario: a married couple, she's 26 and he's 40, are struggling over a loaded handgun--won wonders if the winner of the struggle got to shoot the other one?--with their six-month old baby at their feet. You know the rest. The gun went off and killed the baby. Both of the parents are in jail under a $1million bond apiece, and charged with reckless homicide. We also learn that both of these sterling citizens have extensive criminal records.

I cannot help but wonder what can possibly be going through these people's minds? Do they even have a mind in the commonly understood sense of the term?

But of one thing we can be sure, and we do know the answer: everyday tragedies like this won't have the slightest effect on our insane gun laws that make crimes like this inevitable every single day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Richly Distorted View

A couple of interesting studies out of the University of California, Berkley. Both of them, here and here, indicate that the richer you are, the less likely you are to behave in certain fundamental areas than the rest of us. One study says you're less likely to have empathy for your fellow humans. Another study indicates a certain predisposition to unethical behavior the richer you are. I don't need to tell you that these findings are controversial, but I ask you consult your experience on this. Of course, I can't tell you about your experience, but I can tell you I have no trouble believing the first of these propositions. A junky car with a working class guy is much more likely to stop and help you on the road than a Beamer or Lexus. Watch what kind of people give to beggars on street corners or cripples on the sidewalk. Again, it's been my experience that it's not the rich people who first step up here.

Here's a quote from the second study: "Studies conducted by psychology professor Paul Piff found those who drive luxury cars were less likely to stop for pedestrians, those with more money were more likely take candy from children, and the wealthiest among us were more likely to cheat in a game with a $50 cash prize."

I leave it to you as to what to make of these matters. But evidence also exists that these reactions are rooted in the situation, not the personality. If the rich get poorer, they tend to take on the characteristics of the poor and vice versa. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Livin' and Dyin'

"See ya, Dutch."
Yeah, I know it's a serious question that's engaged the philosophers, theologians, and other serious thinkers for as long as people have been able to think about the subject. And I hasten to assure you that I'm not about to delve into that subject right now, although I will admit to some fascination with the discussion. No, I'm going to talk about something only slightly less portentous as real life and death, and that's living and dying with a baseball team. It's next to impossible to explain this phenomenon to anybody who isn't a hard core fan of some baseball team. Forget football, basketball, hockey, and all those other sports that intrude on baseball season and claim to be of equal stature. That's another argument, and I'm not gonna talk about it either.

What I'm talking about is having the pace and general tenor of your life being shaped and influenced by the fortunes of your baseball team, whichever one it is. Unless of course you love the Yankees, in which case you deserve the sufferings of hell for loving the spawn of the Devil. A win for the day defines a good day, a loss, a really not so good day. If it's All-Star break or your team's got a day off or it's a travel day, everything is OK . . . unless there's been some intervening disaster. Like a major guy going on the disabled list (DL) or several major guys being on it at one time, or getting hammered by somebody, or losing to the Yankees. Or a losing streak. Which is what I'm talking about here.

All of my ten or dozen regular readers know that I live or die with the Texas Rangers, and tonight they lost their sixth game in a row, all of them in their home park. The gory details are not important. Suffice it to say that all of a sudden the bats have gone on vacation and the pitching is stinking up the place. The picture above is of Ranger manager Ron Washington taking the ball from leftie Derrek Holland, usually a reliable starter, who's on his way out of the game. Like other Rangers in the four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, he got lit up, but the guy after him, Kyle McClellan, was worse and let the game get totally away.

Six games lost in a row is like having a really rotten cold that will not go away . . . and you have no hope that it will any time soon. Know how I found that picture? I googled "baseball losing streak." A whole bunch of Ranger pix came up. That, my friends, is no bueno.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wine Cork

Another of my recent poems. Hope you enjoy it.

Wine Cork

Even with that hole in your head
you still catch my eye, lying supinely
on your side, feet glowing red
kissed by your claret companion.

I don’t envy your future, though,
headed to the heap, some distant
landfill, where gulls will raise a row
over lesser treasures than you.

Can’t help but wonder from where you came
—likely Portugal or Spain—and who
else but me feels the same
about your family’s tomorrow?

You’re on the way out: that’s a given.
Screw tops are screwing you out
of your honorable living.
Lighter, easy, and most of all, cheaper.

No heft required, no special tool,
no grunting, straining, or contraptions
that make you feel like a fool
puzzling out how to work them. 

Yet to uncork a bottle to get at the wine
seems natural as breathing, the way
God intended from the dawn of time,
long ere the Market became divine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Luther Footnote

Remember I told you the other day about Luther and the amazing lost and found story that revolved around him? Well, here's a footnote. I finally remembered about going back to where he turned up to see what else I could find. Specifically, I was looking for the carrying strap. So I drive there this morning, put on the emergency flashers and hoof back along the side of Chatauqua Avenue and, I'll be damned, there it was, just a smidgen the worse for wear. It's back where it belongs now, attached to the bag, as God intended. Good things do happen--just not often enough for enough people.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our Defunct Fourth Amendment, Part 2

Have you noticed where all the lamestream media attention is going on this NSA snooping story? The inevitable villain, Edward Snowden, the spook contractor with a conscience, has become half the story. Boehner called him a "traitor." Mitch McConnell is calling for his blood. The Justice Department is after him, and the majority of the country thinks he's a criminal. The other half is a large discussion about the merits of the policy. Is it really in our best interest as a nation to have the National Security Agency recording and keeping terabytes of metadata on every American using one of the major telephone companies to make calls? I submit that both of these issues are bogus. Completely. The real issue is secrecy. All the things that the security apparatus of this country is doing in the dark, out of sight and purview of the American people.

What's really the problem the NSA and the rest of the federal government has with Snowden? You don't think it's that these two NSA programs--the phone listening and PRISM--that are the issue, do you? As if the terrorists aren't aware of what the U.S. is doing to combat them? You think anybody with half a brain can't figure out that the U.S. is engaged in electronic snooping to some degree? You think Snowden let some kind of really gigantic cat out of the bag when he went public? Are you kidding me? No, brothers and sisters, the real sin is that Snowden told the whole population of America what was going on. He told the people who are being snooped on, who are paying for all of it, and who were not consulted about this program that wasn't even debated in their hearing. That's the problem. NSA got caught treating every American citizen as a potential enemy. If these programs are so good for the country, if they're protecting everybody, then why the hell are they secret? Why are they locked away under layers of classification.

So don't let all this smoke screen jabber about Snowden and all the other peripheral issues distract you. The issue is SECRECY and how it makes a mockery of Obama's promises of transparency. Things are more Orwellian under him than George W. Bush. The issue is the creeping massive power accruing to the police and security agencies of the government.

I heard today on NPR that George Orwell's 1984 is and has been the best selling book on Amazon since this spying on Americans story broke. Don't doubt it. 

This CNet story explains all about PRISM. Wikipedia already has a pretty expansive article on Snowden here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How Cool is This?

This would definitely make you forget what you were paying for the groceries. Bravo!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Tale of Luther

I think I might've mentioned that my daughter went off to Morocco with her husband about 10 days ago. Anyway, she did. And they came back on Thursday night. It was a hell of a trip to the airport and a hell of a wait when I got there – but that's another whole story. Suffice it to say that they were unable to pick up their luggage for about 30 minutes because some luggage handler had an accident, and we had a hold-up while an ambulance negotiated three lanes of vehicles parked there to pick up passengers. Waiting around and wasting time was the last thing I want to do at this point. Here's why.

A little background: when I lived in Germany, 20 years ago now, it was not at all unusual to see guys carrying what is properly described as a male handbag. Very handy and useful devices. I bought my first one when I was still living in Europe, and it immediately became just plain essential. I always say, "I keep my life in there." Almost literally. Credit cards, insurance cards, pocket knife, membership cards, business cards, writing implement, notepad, money clip, etc. But since I knew I was coming back to Oklahoma, a state well-known for its broad mindedness, I made the decision before I even left that I would never talk about my "male handbag" or (even worse) "male purse." So then and there my handbag was named "Luther," and he would always be referred to by anyone who knew about him--family and close friends--as "Luther." Which is really a great name for a purse when you think about it, kindest, suggesting "leather" and "Protestant" which fairly well describes somebody male who would carry a purse in Oklahoma. (And we're not talking about Protestant in the religious sense here, obviously.)
This is not Luther, but kinda like, so you can get the idea.  For one thing, Luther is leather, and another, he's bigger with a carrying strap.

 Plainly, the historian in me is taking over with all of this background. Long story short: I'm helping my granddaughter get her stuff packed up into the car on my way to the airport to pick up Tanya and Mitch--I'm going to drop her at her house on the way--and I put Luther on top of the automobile while I'm fiddling with stuff for the trunk and backseat. And I drive off with Luther still on the top of the car. I did not discover that he was gone until I got to the airport and went to get my reading glasses out so I could discern the words and symbols on my iPhone. Panic pretty well describes what ensued when I couldn't find him. Naturally, I freaked out – and then had to wait for all of the airport delay until I could get home and retrace my route on what I was sure was going to be a fruitless search for Luther. I was not a happy camper.

I will shorten what could certainly be a much longer story by my adding details about how my heart sunk with the futility of of this, and how Susan prayed and prayed (I have to admit I did too, but I can guarantee not as hard.). Lo and behold, I find Luther laying in the middle of the street right past Highway 9, which is where I would've accelerated since it was out of the neighborhood. He was none the worse for wear. It appears the car rolled over it because one handle for a zipper – I guess that's a handle, what you call those things? – was gone; one side had a couple of small nicks; the leather strap has disappeared (I'm not sure I wouldn't be able find it in the same place or in the vicinity even right now.); and some contents inside were destroyed: three ballpoint pens none of them expensive, and my reading glasses, of course, but not the glasses case. Everything else survived: money clip, credit cards and cash intact; pocketknife; and all the other stuff. No harm done. Amazing!

Susan says it was prayer, and I'm cannot argue with that. All I can say is that there was a purse of some sort laying right in the middle of a public, well-traveled street for about an hour and a half and nobody touched it. You had better believe that I have implemented corrective action on Luther's departure from home procedures to go with his already rigorous departure-from-other-places procedures.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our Defunct Fourth Amendment, Part 1

I cannot say I'm really surprised by the bombshell revelation that the National Security Agency has a gargantuan (and growing daily) database containing the phone and electronic records of every person in the country. I worked for the Fed in the military long enough to know how these people who are purportedly concerned with "protecting our freedoms"--that of course would include the entire "security" establishment, law enforcement, and the Dept of Justice--don't really care about constitutional protections of those same freedoms, not when they get in the way of what they want to do, which in the context of the paroxysms of paranoia launched and nurtured by the Bush and Obama administrations is by definition intrusive, drastic, and dangerous to civil liberties. Moreover, the attitude is to use the latest technology can offer (and remember, always at a handsome, if not obscene, profit to the government contractor) to the greatest extent possible. Believe me when I tell you that monolithic focus on the "bad guys" simple blots out concern for our basic constitutional liberties. And of course, this is all cloaked from the American people by classifying the programs, the technology, the locations, everything, under blankets of secrecy. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sweet Virtue

Latest installment in the ongoing series of theraputic poetic efforts. Old Catholics will definitely get it. The rest of you probably also.

If you are completely unfamiliar with the Baltimore Catechism, there's an online edition at: For the purposes of the poem, you'll find the stuff about virtues at #10. A real blast from the past. 

Far from virtuous, Whitman's candy was (and is) sinfully good

Sweet Virtue

From here, on the cusp of the globe’s

final capitulation to the whirlpool of ignorance,

arrogance, and lassitude swirling us all

to kingdom come—the final drain—remembering

a world that demarked good from evil

as starkly as digital Wall Street from analog

Any Other Street—I say remembering, not imagining.

It’s a tad embarrassing; scary, too,

to grasp the gulf I’ve crossed to stand

at the present precipice.

All the way from Baltimore Catechism,

that compendium of answers

to every vital question about the sole

vital matter of existence: that is,

the eternal fate of your eternal soul—

all, all that mattered. All the way, I say,

from celestial certitude to beyond

WTF, here, peering over the precipice.

Everything Catholic dissolved in Mystery.

But the Catechism brooked no doubt,

condemned all query, banished logic

to the Kingdom of Tautological Truth.

The meaning of life? Death? Answers galore!

Virtue? Questions #122-135 dispatch thorny

questions about that, laying virtues out

as neatly as Whitman’s Sampler bon bons.

Hierarchical, of course. Theological virtues  

(God their “proper object”) on top row:

Glistening foil-wrapped faith; dark chocolate

hope, swathed in silver; and cherry-creamed charity,

wrapped in red, the one you save till last.

Strewn beneath and layered below

a veritable host of gifts and fruits

of the Holy Ghost. Virtues in glorious,

oft perplexing profusion. Virtues moral and

cardinal: hard-shelled fortitude, jelly-filled justice.

Continency, that unknown nougat. Long-suffering,

which nobody chose on purpose. Modesty,

curled in the corner of the box. And those

nutty ones: benignity and sugary filial piety.

And chastity: the one everybody tasted

and put back in the box.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Abbysinians - 1995

Love that roots reggae music. And these guys are masters of it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gods of Olympus Taste a Little Bit of Earth

So there they were all arrayed in their tin soldier finest regalia. Beribboned like Christmas presents, or rather I should say, like M&M and Ju Jubes graffiti, stapled to their manly chests, their dutiful, worshipful minions arrayed behind them in the first row at the Senate armed services committee hearing on sexual assault in the military. The committee in general was not buying the united front from the service bosses that they were going to make this issue priority one, etc., etc. What a treat to see women senators McCaskell of Missouri and Gillibrand of New York give these guys the ass-chewing they so richly deserve. (I could not help but think how our "heroes" in uniform will privately vilify in the vilest way possible these two women. I remember real well what they had to say--and probably still do--about Hillary.) All you have to do is imagine them in the same shoes as the service women who have the courage to report sexual assault and what happens to them. We know what happens. They get persecuted by the chain of command and other members of their unit. I suppose the prevailing ethos is that if you get raped, just "suck it up." Only it will be worse for the ladies of the Senate who have the temerity to dress down the uniformed gods of Olympus and who are attempting to get commanders out of the business of shielding sexual predators in the ranks.

And how I hope they succeed. I'm not really expecting that they will, though. The military is going to get its way, it always does.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Aches and Pains

So I get ready to go back to room to read last night after the Ranger game– which they won 3 to 1 over the Royals – and the toe on my left foot is just killing me. And I know what this is: it's a flareup of my gout, for which I take a pill every day so I don't get flareup of my gout. I keep thinking about all those famous kings and queens hundreds of years ago to use to get this and often for long periods of time, and I always thought well, that's really too bad. But I'll tell you, I've got a lot more sympathy for them now. It hurts. We are waiting right now to get a prescription refilled for some pills that I used to have to take when one of these attacks came.

And I've got these various aches and pains in my back, ribs, sometimes upper left of my chest. They just come and go as they please. I'm just resigned to it. All of this crap comes with the territory of a deteriorating bodily constitution. As I approach what has to be jocularly referred to as "the Golden years," I become ever more aware of how important your health, and especially as we know now, your gene pool, has to do with all this. Susan keeps telling me I'm real lucky because I've got "good genes". But I don't give a hoot about my genes or whatever pool they came out of when my toe is throbbing.

Our granddaughter Libby has been staying with us while her parents are enjoying the 20th anniversary trip to Morocco, of all places. And I'm sure she's got have all kinds of tales to tell them about living with a couple of old people for two weeks. It has sure been a delight having her, especially because we get to know her better and vice versa. I assume, perhaps without a good reason, that that is a fairly even trade.