Archive for September, 2007

Resting the Mind, Wasting the Time

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I am on hiatus and will be back Monday or Tuesday next week–that’s October 8. It’s a relief, really, to not be blogging nonstop, but I am also suffering pangs of guilt daily. Blogging is a disorder.

Because of my location, I’m mainly getting my news via cable. There are three topics:

  1. The freak in Nevada who raped that little girl.
  2. Myanmar
  3. John Edwards’ racist remark about black men.

If I watched exclusively cable for my news, I’d be profoundly depressed. How do the news organizations live with themselves? They are so superficial and empty.

Other news:

So, Duke’s President apologizes. And he’s going to help other institutions navigate such difficulties? What horse dooky. Parents, don’t let your children to grow up to be Devils (for more than one reason.)

There is more Columbia talk. Meh. Who am I kidding?

I just don’t have the enthusiasm to pay attention right now. It’s not that I think there’s nothing important happening, it’s just that other, more important things are happening for me, here.

The important thing I’m doing? Nothing.



10 Rules For Health

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

With the ridiculous new research about getting precisely 7 hours sleep, I thought I’d review some ways to stay healthy, easily.

  1. Be happy. Happiness means a happy heart.
  2. Have lots of friends and family and pets.
  3. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full.
  4. Sleep when you’re tired.
  5. Eat 80% fruits and veggies 20% protein. Eat it if it’s walked the earth or grown on the earth. You’ll get your carbs, don’t worry.
  6. Exercise. Incorporate physical activity into your daily life–park in the back of the lot, climb the stairs, walk the dog, dig out the weeds, mow the lawn, ride your bike with the wife, play catch with the kids. Walking and swimming are the best aerobic exercises that protect joints. Thirty minutes a day will do ya.
  7. Avoid smoking, go light on caffeine, moderate on alcohol, and steer clear of recreational drugs. Pot might not kill you, but it won’t build your health.
  8. Learn something new. It will get you naturally high. Really. An active mind is a healthy mind.
  9. Viral and bacterial infections are a sign that you need to slow down and de-stress. Slow. Down. Rest. Drink water. Avoid dairy.
  10. Stay in the moment. Mental health problems come from dwelling in the past and being mad about it=depression. Or worrying about the future=anxiety. In the moment, you can’t do either. So stay busy.

Oh, and there’s another one. In fact, it’s the most important:

Go to church. People who go to church are healthier. Belief in God, higher thoughts, prayer, joyous worship (singing ups endorphins), and community help keep you healthy. Just make sure you clean your hands after shaking all those hands. Most bugs are passed by human contact, not through the air. And um, men, you’re the worst offenders. Wash your hands for Pete’s sake!



Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Good news. And it works better than medication.



A Country of Mass Murderers–UPDATED

Monday, September 24th, 2007

As more stories emerge from the Holocaust, many wonder at the average people doing above average work at jobs that never should have been. Truly, you must go look at the pictures. The jolly laughter during the photo shoot by the young women running toward the camera collides with the reality that these same beautiful girls were shaving the heads and sending women, men and children to gas chambers just down the road. Roger Cohen calls them “fresh faced and playful” in his Op-Ed Down Time From Murder. That’s right. By the way, they were mass murderers.

Americans were rightly horrified at the image of Lynndie England making fun of naked or semi-dressed, humiliated Iraqi prisoners. Her friends report that the person in the picture was not the person they knew before her time in Iraq. No doubt, this is true. But the woman did take a psychological journey with her physical one. What happened?

Clearly, she de-individualized the prisoners. One could make the psychological case for dehumanizing an enemy who would as soon kill you, exterminate you, as look at you. Especially for an angry young woman, taunting an ostensible misogynist or killer of a friend might be conceivable. That is, it is possible to rationalize how she got from soldier to persecutor. It is possible to understand how she might lose her humanity and debase herself facing an enemy who would kill her given the opportunity. It’s also why it was understandable to see men rejoice at the hanging of Saddam. It wasn’t comfortable to look at, one migt disapprove perhaps, but one could understand.

The innate sense of justice most people have recognizes the eye for an eye. Capital punishment is a form of justice that equalizes the losses. A murderer, by his choice, forfeits his life. The world is rid of his potential further harm. The family of the victim knows that the perpetrator won’t get the benefit lost to the victim: life.

But what of innocent victims? How did German “nurses” justify killing children?

Actually, it’s probably rather simple. The Germans viewed the Jews as villains. Eventually the Jews very existence was a threat. The Jews deserved to die. Step two is to dehumanize the villain. They aren’t really human. Step three is distance oneself from actions. Rationalizing can be I’m only cutting their hair or I’m only giving them a shower or I’m stuck in this job so I need to do my best. Step four is denying responsibility, i.e. engaging in group think. John is doing it, I respect John, so it must be OK. When the group is responsible the responsibility is to the group members.

Germany demonstrated psychopathic tendencies en masse. Here’s a description from the Slate article about the Columbine killer Eric Harris, deemed by experts as a psychopath:

“Psychopaths are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders,” writes Dr. Robert Hare, in Without Conscience, the seminal book on the condition. “Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised.”

The German people, though were rational and aware of what they were doing and why. They chose.

Were the German people especially evil or do all people have the seeds to do something equally destructive? I think it’s the latter. I remember Stalin demonstrating how difficult it was to brave and morally courageous in the atmosphere he created. The quote eludes me. Expedience rules the day, eventually.

For the victims and the world, it was incomprehensible what Hitler, his minions and his thousands of servants planned to do. And that’s the point of a telegenic guy like Ahmadinejad. Too many people can’t imagine he means it. His population hasn’t bought into his rhetoric and that’s the difference between Iran and Germany, at least thus far.

A whole country desiring to externalize blame for internal misery, an hypnotic speaker, authoritarianism, bureaucratic detachment and dehumanization make a powerful stew to breed psychopaths. The whole society reinforced asocial behavior.

Because humans can choose, they can choose badly. Ironically, the desire to control free will ends up resulting in the unintended, or too often, intended, consequence: a monolithic, authoritarian Borg-like creature imposing its will on the masses and eventually their enemy.

The only possibility is to guard as individuals against the impulse to control. It’s also important to pick leaders who will guard against the impulse to control.

UPDATE: One of the big problems with the Left these days is their projection and utter lack of perspective. Painting the country in fascist terms displays a lack of respect for true fascist regimes and the death and destruction those regimes wrought. Here’s an example that John Hawkins highlights:

When *ss-kissing chickensh*t David Petraeus lied his *ss off before Congress about the failed “surge”, capitol hill police tackled and arrested a pentecostal minister, damaging his ankle in the process.
…If you think America isn’t undergoing the same slide into fascist dictatorship today as Germany did in the 1930s, you’re kidding yourself.

…Those two reasons, more than the brutal assaults on people and the First Amendment, are why America is devolving into a bad replay of Nazi Germany. The lack of national outrage, to the point we do something about it; and the support of it by mindless groupthinkers in society who are so stupid they think it’s a good thing that we’re being subjected to tyranny.

John says, “It is nothing less than borderline mental illness masquerading as political thought and it is the rule, not the exception, on the Left today.”

These people ignore the obvious: no jack boot is kicking them in the head, putting them in jail or denying their free speech. It’s called disagreement and diversity of opinion. That the whole populace doesn’t drink the same crazy juice doesn’t mean they’re fascists. But the Left continues display complete intolerance for a differing opinion about policies, diplomacy, and strategy.

It is exactly those intent on imposing their views who make me nervous. And the fascist rhetoric needs to be saved. It’s insulting to people who endured real fascists.

UPDATE AGAIN: From LGF, a simpler explanation of Why?



Courting Killer: Columbia Was Chosen For A Reason

Monday, September 24th, 2007

It now seems that Ahmadinejad chose Columbia (they didn’t invite him) because of Columbia’s storied past. Columbia invited Hitler’s envoy. This was what then President Butler said:

In response, President Butler harrumphed something about how Columbia “does not ask what a man’s opinions may be but only whether he is intelligent, honest, and well-mannered in their presentation and discussion. There is no subject which a company of scholars such as that assembled on Morningside Heights, is not prepared to have presented to it by a man or woman of high intelligence and good manners, and to hear fully discussed and debated.” When the “well-mannered” Herr Luther made his appearance on Morningside Heights, it seems only to have whetted the Nazi lust — and to have established a precedent for abasement. It turned out that the only kind of intercourse the Nazis understood was the kind conducted by General Eisenhower, who not only liberated Europe but went on to Morningside Heights, where he brought great distinction to the presidency of the University.

Columbia’s modern president shows the same kind of moral obtuseness and it’s astounding. Because Ahmadinejad spits his venom at a common enemy, George Bush, a good portion of the Left don’t mind that the poison would ultimately kill them, too.

This is where consuming hatred gets a person: the line between rage and suicide blends. Would Dean Coatsworth rather die than honor his own country? If Ahmadinejad has his way, everything Western, American, Israeli, Jewish and Democratic will give way to Sharia and death squads and extermination. Dean Coatsworth would not be spared this fate, his lofty ideals notwithstanding. Back to a quoted Jeff Goldstein post of yor:

And so we have Islamic fascists exploiting the postmodern rhetorical assumptions of a western socialist / progressivist left in order to bring about the spread of totalitarianism.

Goldstein says today:

“Of course we’d invite Hitler to speak”
So says the Dean of Columbia. Sadly, no follow-up question asking how he might react should der Fuhrer get a little tipsy at the post-speech cocktail party and order his band of traveling storm troopers to stuff a dozen or so gypsies, a gay couple, and 6 million Jews into one of the caterer’s mobile convection ovens.

Which is a shame, really, because I think there’s half a chance we’d have been treated to a bit about “respecting cultural differences.

It is doubtless that Ahmadinejad knows Columbia’s history. He chose Columbia for a reason. He knows our history even if the scholars choose to forget theirs. These Western elites don’t mind being played for fools. Again. That’s why I don’t call them Useful Idiots. They are worse than useful because they are not idiots. They are intelligent. They know the game and they have chosen a side and they don’t stand for freedom, no matter how they spin it. They stand for oppression and extermination. Anyone with any sense will revile them. Men like Dean Coatsworth are disgusting human beings.

P.S. This is the same institution who wouldn’t allow the Minutemen to engage in the free exchange of ideas. Some ideas are more “correct” than others.



Israeli Rabbi Disses Christians

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Well, this seems weird. For over twenty-five years, Christian groups have traveled to Israel to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, but this year, Israels Chief Rabbi is calling the practice into question because he believes Christians are trying to proselytize:

“According to information that has reached the chief rabbinate, there are participants in this conference who convert Jews to Christianity and perform missionary activity throughout the year,” said Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Rehovot, who took part in committee discussions of the matter. “This is against the law, so the chief rabbinate is calling upon Jews not to take part in the conference.”

Israel has laws against missionary work, and for many here, proselytizing is dangerously close to the forced conversions European Jews endured for centuries.

****

According to the Old Testament Book of Zechariah, all nations will make pilgrimages to Jerusalem in the messianic era to celebrate Sukkot. Christians have interpreted this to mean that Sukkot is a holiday where Jews welcome non-Jews to join them in celebration in Jerusalem.

With all the danger from without, I hardly think a hardline stance against Christians makes sense. They seem to be the least of Israel’s worries these days.



Hillary Clinton: The Teflon Girl

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

It seems to me that Hillary Clinton’s ubiquity plays to her favor. As grating as her voice is, as phony as the laugh is, as contradictory as her stances are, her willingness to go everywhere is the meta message. She wants it. In case anyone doubted that fact, which no one does. But Americans admire the fighters. And right now, I think that Hillary looks like a fighter.

In her language, she still, without irony, casts herself as the underdog. Can a woman be a big dog? The women candidates campaign as little women. That’s tiresome, but I guess it works.

She’s playing politics like a big dog, scandalizing like a Clinton big dog, and playing the election like a little girl.

Hillary Clinton may just be the Teflon Girl.



Yom Kippur: A National Holiday?

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007


Ed Cone has a point:

Yom Kippur is a day of introspection and not eating, and if there was ever a culture in need of introspection and not eating, we’re it. Raised on hedonism and credit cards, Americans make every day a holiday and every meal a feast, to the point of devaluing actual holidays and feasts. We have name-branded golden calves and a television show called American Idol. At the same time, we are encouraged to think of ourselves as victims, not to take responsibility for ourselves. We could all use some of the dermabrasion for the soul that Yom Kippur promises.

On Yom Kippur, the idea is to take responsibility for who you are, and how you conduct yourself, how you treat other people, and how you are planning to do better at all those things in the year ahead. You are obligated to make things whole with those you have wronged, and to come to terms with those who have wronged you. This is the occasion to get right with God, which traditionally involves hours of prayer and fasting, along with a semi-annual visit to temple for twice-a-year Jews.

I would like to add this about the Day of Atonement (which I observe, yes I’m a strange Christian): Spending 24 hours without food and drink does tend to put the self in perspective. With a full belly, the world is yours. Starving, head-achy, empty and intensely food-focused, it becomes abundantly clear how fragile we humans are. Hunger is humbling.

In addition, the absence of food makes thinking easier. I don’t know why, exactly, but even healthy food can bloat and release toxins, free of food, the mind thinks better. So, it’s a great time to take stock and atone and seek forgiveness and forgive.

Ed Cone’s idea is a good one. Americans can be fat and stupid. Better to be slim and smart–at least for one day a year.



How Civics Smart Are You?

Friday, September 21st, 2007

I only got 80% right. Who here didn’t take an Econ class and went to public school? That would be me. How’d you do? (Go here to take the 60 Q test.) After homeschooling my kids, though, I expect to ace it.

H/T Anchoress



Doctors Are Too Rich

Friday, September 21st, 2007

According to the informed New York Times readership, doctors are too rich. Ann Coulter doesn’t buy it. I can’t think of any doctors who do either. Here’s what Ann says:

In college, my roommate was in the chemistry lab Friday and Saturday nights while I was dancing on tables at the Chapter House. A few years later, she was working 20-hour days as a resident at Mount Sinai doing liver transplants while I was frequenting popular Upper East Side drinking establishments. She was going to Johns Hopkins for yet more medical training while I was skiing and following the Grateful Dead. Now she vacations in places like Rwanda and Darfur with Doctors Without Borders while I’m going to Paris.

Has anyone else noticed the nonexistence of a charitable organization known as “Lawyers Without Borders”?

She makes $380 for an emergency appendectomy, or one-ten-thousandth of what John Edwards made suing doctors like her, and one-fourth of what John Edwards’ hairdresser makes for a single shag cut.

Edwards made $30 million bringing nonsense lawsuits based on junk science against doctors. To defend themselves from parasites like Edwards, doctors now pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical malpractice insurance every year.

You know, it’s amazing. The Democrats will defend to their dying day, an ineffective, outdated, unaccountable educational system while going after people who sacrifice a good chunk of their lives going to school to help heal people.

I fear that a Democrat as President will have a chilling affect on innovation, research, and creative care. They want a one-size fits all solution, they want one-size-fits-all doctors to bring that solution. The only problem is that people are not one size. Both patients and doctors are unique beings.

Why does it seem like this next election we’ll be getting Jimmy Carter if the Republicans can’t put up a decent candidate? Health care won’t be the only thing to suffer.