Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just This Last Two Weeks, I Learned

For months, no bills were paid,
And cash from payments was mislaid.
I fixed or followed up these flaws
That threaten to undo us all.

The electricity almost went out.
The gas, the water, and what about
The sewage and the garbage? Late,
And the repairmen have had to wait.

Piled paper covers my dining table.
Because each owner is unable
To discover what they owe.
And you stop me when I try to know.

Tomorrow, I see you at two.
To show you what you need to do.
You get paid, and we do precision
Because you cannot make decisions.

I'm tired of coaxing, training, reminding
And fixing the mistakes I'm finding.
It overflows my coffee cup
And I'm not yelling. I wrote you up.

Okay, I vented. And, Dear Readers, how are you?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hagakure: Moving Inward and Outward

A certain person said the following.

There are two kinds of dispositions, inward and outward, and a person lacking in one or the other is worthless. It is, for example, like the blade of a sword, which one should sharpen well and then put in its scabbard . . .

If a person has his sword out all the time, he is habitually swinging a naked blade, people will not approach him and he will have no allies.

If a sword is always sheathed, it will become rusty, the blade will dull, and people will think as much of its owner.


When you are listening to the stories of accomplished men and the like, you should listen with deep sincerity, even if it's something about which you already know. If in listening to the same thing ten or twenty times it happens that you come to an unexpected understanding, that moment will be very special. Within the tedious talk of old folks are their meritorious deeds.

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by Yamamoto Tsunetome. Trans. William Scott Wilson.  Kodansha Press, pp. 91-92 and 94.

The first quote seems to have so many applications. The second one is a good reminder that classics can be interpreted over and over again to yield a new solution. At least, that's how this Scholar reads it. Any takers on new or alternate readings?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Confronting the Unknown

Sometime last week, I read Michael Lewis' The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. It rambles a little, but overall it's quite good.

I had already seen the movie last December. And while I loved Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in that film, I found the book allowed everyone else to speak a little more. Face it, Sandra Bullock took that movie past the script and the (low-key or no-key) style of the other actors. She rocked that film into the All-American, turning it into an anthem for Christian charity, The Second Amendment, designer clothes, and enlightened self-interest, all wrapped up with a big red bow.

Michael Lewis cautions us that we don't watch and understand what happens on a football field very well. We look at quarterbacks and where the ball goes. We don't look at those who make quarterbacking possible, and thereby miss a great deal of the skill.

And then there's the personal narrative working its way through.

I think it's nothing short of miraculous that Michael Oher managed to hold onto the good he found. He had little loving care when very young or attention until Big Tony and then Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy stepped into his life. (Since Mr. Oher's main adventure starts at Briarcrest Christian school, Big Tony's role in getting him there is probably not given the scope it should have. You could say we left him holding the line, while the book ran to the goal.)

A Homeless Child
In any case, Michael Oher learned how to do for himself in the most basic sense. The way the book explains it, he could fend for himself, but had no good horizon to look forward to, no "way of being" except emotionally self-enclosed and minimally self-sufficient by our generally stated standards of wealth.

Still, he had some spark that enabled him to appreciate those whom he met--and to gain the interest of others. You could say that he led into the blind side, constantly, his whole life.   A child learned to survive. A young man who had not known sufficient love believed in emotional attachment. He held onto one commonplace and usually futile dream (to be Michael Jordan) until new dreams opened up--and he did not pass them by, but worked for them. He learned everything by memorizing, because he is intelligent, but so underserved by parents, education and social services that he was disabled and disadvantaged.

Simple Minded? Hardly.
They say the Mr. Oher feels that "The Blind Side" made him look stupid. But Michael Oher has to be emotionally and intellectually intelligent. I am willing to bet he is the most complex person in the book. This is a deeper story than we know.

He could make the leap into the utterly unfamiliar, over and over again. Now he is an accomplished man with a future--with tools as well as a character that will take him  past athletics.

And the entire world has the chance to see, a little, what the gifted ones who live behind our range of vision truly need from us. I can find a way to meet some of those, just as Big Tony and the Tuohys did, and thereby see the world more fully. I can learn to take risks into my blind side the way Michael Oher has, and therefore live more fully.

I wish him the very best. And I can't wait to read his biography, which is coming out in February of next year.

You can find out more at the Michael Oher Web site. The picture below is just the start for him.

In other notes: no, I'm not done with Lincoln, of course not. Just have Zombie Work to do. Then the meeting Tuesday night. Hagakure on Tuesday, so I'm thinking later in the week for Lincoln. And who knows what else?

Have a great day, everybody! The adventure is just beginning.

Walt Whitman: Me Imperturbe

from Leaves of Grass.

Me imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all or mistress of all, aplomb in the midst of irrational things,
Imbued as they, passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less important than I thought,
Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahatta or the Tennessee, or far north or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of these
      States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada,
Me wherever my  life is lived, O to be self-balanced for contingencies,
To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What is the G-20? Why the Fires?

Sometimes I wonder if any of the protesters against the G-20 have any idea what it is the organization does. Same with the protests against the World Bank and the International Money Fund, the IMF. Both of these last two, usually referred to as separate entities, are actually major agencies of the United Nations.

The G-20
The Group of 20 is a worldwide financial diplomatic venture of 19 of the most prosperous countries in the world plus one representative from the European Union. Their members include financial leaders from these countries. Officials from the World Bank and IMF are also invited to attend the summits. These are completely devoted to world-wide financial stability. There's a G-8, also, with less territorial diversity.  In these expanded, pluralistic times, the G-8 is ceding decision power to the G-20. Quite simply, the "money majority" requires more members and more locations to fine-tune the global economy.

Right now, they are talking about rising national deficits in this world-wide recession.
A bunch of suits talking about important things. (

Member countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Brazil, and Australia. All big economies that can move money or act in concert when there is a money supply crisis. All regions have immediate reportage. All races, creeds, continents, faith traditions are represented. In short, everybody's moving up.

The start of the G-20:
Asian Financial Crisis
About the time the USSR was financially failing--the 'Golden Tigers' of Asia were mopping up on the international manufacturing scene. A big wave of speculation ran through Asia. This big mess, dubbed the Asian Financial Crisis (1997), started in Thailand which was in huge government debt. This created a local panic and recession, which quickly spread through Asia for various reasons (still being argued). It then proceeded to panic financial markets around the world.  The G-20 was created in response to a less Euro-centric model of world money movement.

Russian Financial Crisis
In 1999, Russia had their financial crisis, a result of huge debt on the part of all those emerging nations, and a lack of business organization. The fact that their neighbor region of Asia was hip-deep in crisis was also no help, because money exchanges between Asia and Russia were already stunted. But Russia had bigger problems. People were getting shelled; people were starving; schools were closing; manufacturers could not get raw materials nor hospital supplies; and the ruble and other currencies were inflating rapidly. In Azerbaijan, for example, the banks were just printing notes with nothing to back them: neither gold, nor confidence, nor things to buy with that currency. Inflation rose to 400% a year from various factors. Nothing good can happen under such conditions.

Into the breach rose the G-20 and those previously not-so-spotlighted organizations such as the IMF and World Bank. In general, all of these groups (plus the other regional development banks) worked to stabilize currencies and provide business opportunities, back shaky governments, and also teach government officials what to do in order to Grow an Economy.

Unfortunately, this kind of teaching was all new to them too. While they had the correct elements of development, they only had laboratory models--not practical experience. In many cases, their timelines were too stringent.  Places such as Azerbaijan were flooded with refugees from war, non-production, stress and a lack of jobs. That does not look, to a besieged government or its populace, like a time to cut spending.

In time, the IMF and World Bank, the G-20 and the regional development banks helped cut corruption, provide capital for business start ups, forced new countries to prioritize their dreams and bank their resource wealth. By doing this, they provided  a chance for lasting investment (such as education, infrastructure)  for these emerging and poorer countries. Since the major economies are the most likely lenders to the Development Banks, and the Development Banks work together, it facilitates an orderly rate of growth for these countries, supplementing small dreams and helping refine and fund bigger ones.

Why the demonstrations, then?
Photo: UK, 1999. Blah, blah, blah. (

Well, it depends on which group is protesting.
1. They are seen by some as a precursor to world government--the G-20 is kind of like a world-wide Federal Reserve. It's a system that doesn't leave countries alone to fail or succeed on their own. It's about cooperation in money policy, not survival of the fittest. Of course in a world-wide economy with export and import, we do need our customers and suppliers to survive.

2. They are sometimes seen as a place where the rich countries make rules for the poor.
It is true that sometimes poor countries need to incubate their own small business before letting in major corporations in every industry. Other times, they can't develop it on their own.

For industries like oil or mining, those countries do not have the technical savvy nor the money to develop alone. When international industry does come in, the World Bank funds partner investment--so that the country gets a stake in production besides the rents of the land--and pushes for this money to be invested in the country.

In other industries, such as the insurance business or farming, small operators are sometimes considered necessary to grow a home economy--and can be pushed out of business by larger, international insurance or agribusiness firms.

In general, a mix of world-opportunity and home opportunity is good for any country. Developed countries by definition have grown a home economy and are looking for international trade. Therefore these developed countries do tend to emphasize international opportunities. Individual nations sometimes erect tariffs or restraints of trade in defense.

3. Whatever the G-20, IMF, or World Bank do, it's not enough.
There are always calls for the World Bank, the IMF, and the G-20 to Fund More, so that everybody always gets a fair shake. Sometimes, in international relations, I get the feeling that international financial institutions are supposed to dispense perfect justice. They now have a spotlight, and other actors (such as Presidents and Dictators) do not get the same scrutiny.

I don't say the G-20 is perfect, or the IMF or the World Bank--they're damned good at hardball, and they do have biases. Yet nobody else can do what they do, which is, create a space that evens out the cycles of failure and speculation into something less disastrous. We are too linked to other countries to be isolated any more. It matters what Saudi Arabia does, what Tanzania does, what happens in Thailand or Costa Rica.

Those that consider the G-20 as a form of world government should realize that the nations involved are actually performing complicated country-to-country negotiations. Furthermore, as a student of international relations, I have seen that many times their advice is not taken.

The international financial institutions help the poor, not with handouts, but with loans. They teach the poor how to prosper--they don't hand stuff over for nothing. They serve an absolutely essential function in the realm of charity as well as finance. They create business environments and therefore chances for prosperity.

The G-20 is good for everybody who wants to hold onto their money in a reasonable fashion and prosper the permanent way. With twenty different countries, and twenty different national agendas, they make a pretty good watchdog between themselves, too.

And my prayers and best wishes to the first responders in Toronto. 

This Black Bloc demonstration will never help the world's poor, 
and maximizes the amount of misery everywhere. (ynet news.)

Further Reading:
Wikipedia, G-20. and Republic of Korea-G-20 site.

Walt Kelly, Sunday Funny-man

I love Walt Kelly because I love Pogo comic strips. Both were before my time, but I found one of his books in my grandparent's house. It's an adult comic, although kids could always view it. They just wouldn't always get the nuance.

The Kelly family is building a Web site on their father's legacy of observations, aphorisms, humor, and all the characters of the Okeefenokee swamp.

LOL! Have a great Sunday, everyone! My brain's still on fire from Abraham Lincoln. And the Board.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Celebrations

This was just a happy thing, one early morning, a day slightly overcast. Enjoy and be happy, ya'all!

Zombie Recon

Not here. Safe to go to Basement. And Basement is where I'll be. Tuesday is the Board Meeting and they've Muffed it all Again.
Everyone Have a Great Weekend. I shall sail Joyfully into the Fray. I mean this.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How to Get Into The Best Pants

Nope, this isn't about diets or even interpersonal relations. It's about Tactical Pants--pants that began as the perfect trousers in which to tackle a mountain. Then they became the perfect trouser for tackling a bad guy. And the perfect pant or shorts for a man or woman who wants to climb a tree or even  carry around an i-phone or portable book reader, or even an extra hard drive on their way to their favorite coffee house.  They may look like a cargo pant, and therefore stylish, but they add Greater Function and Quality.

Other things you can do in Tactical Pants:
Sail around the world
Force your children to clean their rooms
Carry a three-course lunch with no hands
Go spelunking
Kick ass in Afghanistan (Military I.D. required)
Handle a bride when the cake is late
Design a computer language
Fight the Zombies in the Basement
Rush to class in the rain
Ride the bucking bull at Gilley's

Change a flat tire
Win the America's Cup
Sit on the porch and drink tea (after building the deck)
Drive a Mule Team through Death Valley
Endure through every page of Joyce's Ulysses

Jeanette K. writes the Tactical Pants blog, which I found through Slamdunk first, then a ning group after that. And what a site--informative and funny.  For instance, check out the many fashion-challenged T.V. detectives, all of whom (except perhaps Peter Falk) would have been much cuter in Tactical Pants.

For those of you who attempt the impossible every day, or just want something well made, convenient, and well thought out, Jeanette has done a huge service: she's written a Consumer Guide to every good set of Tactical Pants and Shorts in the Universe.

Check the Tactical Pants blog out for laughs, or to see what a civic-minded company is up to. Do great things. Let me know what they are!! Or tell Jeanette K.!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Lincoln Memorial (1916) and Lincoln's Statue (1920)

To be honest, much of the beauty of the Lincoln Memorial has nothing to do with Lincoln at all.

The architect of that monument, Henry Bacon, created a Doric temple with proportions that invite both majesty and contemplation. Inside and on the portico, one has air, space, light and dark. Beyond the portico, a flat rectangular pool stretches long, inviting stillness but also water birds, tourists, green grass.

The seated statue of Lincoln was completed by Daniel Chester French in 1920. Originally commissioned as a statue ten foot high, it was thought the statue would be dwarfed by its grand space. The statue stands 19 feet high. In it, Lincoln sits in a tailed coat and pantaloons, no Greek robes or other aggrandizing regalia. He is as, perhaps, he was: only larger than life. The statue reinforces the contemplative nature of the space.

One can read trouble, patience, resignation on Lincoln's face according to one's mood or primary take on our 16th president. We can contemplate the nature of individual sacrifice. But all around his image, the classical puts his virtues in the context of the widest and best traditions of Western scholarship: restraint in decoration, faultless attention to proportion, the call of history, the lure of philosophy, inevitability of death, and yet a lack of decay.  That lack of decay says that time may pass, but eternal verities continue.

Small wonder that Marian Anderson sang here for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt after the Daughters of the American Revolution disdained to have her; that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his "I Have a Dream" speech here; that others have sought to invoke Lincoln in their politics upon his portico. For it is not just Lincoln, it is art; it is design; it is a splendid work of monumental art.

Wikipedia has more on the Memorial. Also the National Park Service runs a Web site with good information.
Photos: Windy City Art; Three by Ann T. Hathaway; last by I love Oregon dotcom;

I leave you with Marian Anderson, the great coloratura soprano, at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.
I hope you enjoy. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Lincoln, Slavery, Despotism: Compassion or Expedience?

Speech in Springfield, 1854
According to Shelby Foote, at the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill (1854), Lincoln emerged from his short retirement from an even shorter political career to speak against Stephen A. Douglas, a proponent of that bill and "Popular Sovereignty":
"The doctrine of self-government is right, absolutely and eternally right; but it has no just application, as here attempted. Or perhaps I should say that whether it has such just application depeands upon whether a Negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, why in that case he who is a man may, as a matter of self-government, do just as he pleases with him. 
But if the Negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government; that is despotism. If the Negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that 'all men are created equal,' and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another."
According to Shelby Foote, Lincoln by this time believed that slavery was a "a moral wrong; he had not come to believe that it was a legal wrong . . . the words of his mouth came like meditations from the heart: "Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature, opposition to it in his love for justice."  (p. 27).

In the speeches of that day, the audience was not pre-selected. Lincoln had no TelePrompter, but a sheet of paper with his speech prepared. His voice was shrill, something you might not expect.  As in some other speeches, Lincoln prepared his remarks as a lawyer would, seeking to convey his thoughts to a jury without alienating them by being a know-it-all: is the slave a Man or not? This is called a rhetorical question. I have no doubt that Lincoln conveyed that a slave was a man and entitled to freedom, but his audience was the jury, the judge, and needed to come to it themselves.

excerpt from a Letter to W.H. Wells. January 8, 1859.
A mix of politics, policy, and moral fiber:
"His [his political rival, Stephen Douglas'] policy, which rigorously excludes all idea of there being any wrong in slavery, does lead inevitably to the nationalization of the institution; and all who deprecate that consummation, and yet are secduced into his support, do but cut their own throats. True, Douglas has opposed the administration on one measure, and yet may on some other; but while he upholds the Dred Scott Decision, declares that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up; that it is simply a question of dollars and cents, and that the Almighty has drawn a line on one side of which labor must be performed by slaves; to support him or Buchanan,  is simply to reach the same goal by only different roads."
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
There are more famous quotations from the Second Inaugural Address, but these are the ones that make reference to slavery, and to a change in what he, as President, was able to accept. He says he would have accepted a compromise four years earlier, which was not attained.
One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally  over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest, was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.  . . .Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
. . . .
Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."
So Lincoln never described himself as having a constant policy to free slaves, even as president. He also made no bones that his actions were part of his statesmanship--a number of issues, particularly the preservation of the Union, and the armies on which the Union depended, took up much of his time and made up large parts of his rhetoric. He did not build policies derived solely from his own opinion--because he was a President, not a despot.

It is my belief that we can find Lincoln to be advanced in his hatred of slavery on a personal level, without the range of experiences required to develop a full appreciation of a black person's potential. However, in all cases, he did make the steps required to open that gate for us all to understand it.

Like anyone who writes of Lincoln, I have cherry-picked my quotations. Below the references are two sets: one that says Lincoln was, indeed, the Great Emancipator. The other, a great hypocrite. We must all judge on our own, of course. But I utterly reject the notion that he was a hypocrite. Like all men, his wisdom came through a process. Like all men, his wisdom was limited somewhat by the scope of his own experience and his milieu. He transcended existing conditions,  but not infinitely. He had the help of a great many other people, starting with an illiterate but far-seeing stepmother and ending with every Union soldier that ever ate a bite of moldy hardtack and cursed the war.

Each of us has come farther than Lincoln, but it was Lincoln who opened the gate for us. Then it is for us to say how far down we walk that path he opened up.

Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol 1: Fort Sumter to Perryviille. (Prologue) Random House.
Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1859-1865. Library of America.
Library of Congress, "Abraham Lincoln: A Resource Guide", here.
Tibor Machan, (2002, June 1)  "Lincoln, Secession, and Slavery," The Cato Institute Web site, here.
Wikipedia, "Abraham Lincoln on Slavery." This is not as definitive as it could be, but the references are good.

Selected Quotes, very different sets:
National Park Service, (n.d.), "Lincoln on Slavery," Lincoln Home National Historic site, NPS, here.
Vernellia Randall, (Ed.), "Lincoln on Slavery," Race, Racism, and the Law site, University of Dayton, here.

Miss Ellen Becomes Even More Useful

The addition of a (legally-purchased) dairy crate gives her sass, style, and Back.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Emancipation Proclamation

Truly, this is hard to read, but this is a photo of the Actual Emancipation Proclamation.
A transcript appears below the jump.

The Emancipation Proclamation is one of Lincoln's actions which many find ironic. He freed slaves only in states that had seceded from the Union, and left slavery alone in states which remained in the United States of America. Many have said "Lincoln freed slaves where he had no jurisdiction, and left alone the ones he could say something about."

Any diplomat could tell you that the deliberate use (or avoidance) of certain words conveys an acceptance (or refusal to accept) a political condition. We scrutinize our leaders for slips of the tongue in this regard. It seems to come up nowadays most often in reference to some blundering American phrase to a representative from China.

Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union, and sent troops to make sure that it was preserved. It would be fatal to the Cause of Union to abdicate the Presidency of any of the states that had seceded. In other words, Lincoln continually asserted that he had legal jurisdiction over the seceding states. Force was used--the force of what Lincoln would have called legitimate government--to bring those states to acknowledge the Union that in his mind (or in his official stance at least), they had never left.

You can argue that these states left. The point is, Lincoln could not afford to agree that they had. Had he agreed, there would have been no war, and no Union.

Hagakure: Constant Refinement

It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply thnk, "This is not enough."

One should search throughout his whole life how best to follow the Way. And he should study, setting his mind to work without putting things off. Within this is the Way.


When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not enough to say that one is not at all flustered. When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the saying "The more the water, the higher the boat."

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Trans. William Scott Wilson. Kodansha Press, p. 37 and then page 51.

I have to think through this second one in particular. It sounds on the one hand foolhardy, and on the other hand like a kind of prayer or attitude adjustment. Anyone have a reaction to this?

The print is by Hokusai, Tametomo against the smallpox. As part of the cure, people looked at depictions of heroes, summoning the strength to get well.

Taking the Heat on the Sun's Longest Day

Oh, you all, what a day for heat and new experiences!

1. Met new therapist. I will have to adjust. I think she is afraid (new student) but she is going to catch on fast to my fast-running train to success.  It's going to work.

2. Immediately afterward, I got a call from the Board President. He heard a rumor that our condo bills haven't been paid. I went down and saw that this was true. I asked and found out it was true indeed.

How can even a Zombie miss two months of electric bills? Do the Zombies know how bad it will be if they cut the power off? No light after dark? No refrigeration or air conditioning? We will have a riot around here. Unbelievable.

3. I went down and started THAT process. Then I took a way-long bicycle ride in the evening, the longest day of the year. It was fantastic. I watched the sun go down over the water. I don't know if the picture turned out though.

4. Guess where I am spending time today.  Oh, if only I could send them to the Zombie Highway today.

5. I am Empowered to kick ass by the League. So there it is.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Signs on the Street

This is a new one. I've seen it twice now, this yesterday--

Before that, on the 17th of June.

Is it related to the other new sign on this abandoned laundry? An 'open-hand' policy? Or 'a fair shake'? Or are the hands just an art project?

My paternal great grandmother, and both my maternal great-grandparents are immigrants. On my dad's dad's side, I can supposedly join the D.A.R. (provided, of course, that they'd have me, fat chance) which means our immigrant status is oh so very on that side. All of the more recent immigrants needed a boat and a stop at Ellis Island.

If they had been born in Mexico, would they have walked over that bold black line? I know they would have. Two of the three of them were renegades of a sort.

Just now we have drug wars, terrorism, unemployment. The unemployment question is no different--during the 1800's, there were numerous bank failures, losses of work, floods of people looking to better themselves. Neither is the terror altogether different, although it tended to be union battles (both sides) and anarchists. It's the drugs, and that's not different. Old ladies took tincture of opium every day, marijuana and cocaine were legal, and so forth.

To be honest, I don't think it's the immigrants at all. I think it's a crisis in our society, that more people are at loose ends but don't know how to do anything.

I am not for illegal immigration, especially with the drug wars we have going on now, in every city and state in America, much less those in Mexico. I see from studying gangs how all races and all confederations are getting their product from elsewhere and ruining lives, families, cities, tax bases. The immigration/deportation cycle we have is facilitating networking and product dispersal/money laundering for illegal groups. Preventing illegal immigration is a good step--far better than deportation afterward, in terms of tax dollars spent and crime risk.

At the same time, I see entire crews from Mexico working (legally) on my street, re-doing sidewalks with brick patterns, edging strips, concrete smoothers, shovels, sand, sweat on their backs. We have taught ourselves that the professions matter the most, that they are the ones worth emulating. As a society, we specialized in paper-pushing, and that was a mistake. As a result, we have left our poor behind, without training, and had to import the labor that fixes things for us. Our poor don't even look with longing at a bricklaying job. At least that's what I see around here. It just doesn't enter in.

Don't get me wrong: all races are on the job. It's just that the skilled work is coming from elsewhere.

The immigration issue does not break across party lines, it breaks across economic markets. Are you priced too high to hire? Can you afford to hire the American worker? Is your city paying for multiple free rides for cost-cutting employers and migrating employees?

Immigration (legal) and migration (legal or otherwise) is the natural behavior of an international labor  market. As such, it will always happen in response to wage differentials. And benefits differentials. People flock to prosperity, and this is a sign that we still have it, at least in relative terms.

From a city's point of view, it can only afford to offer services to those who pay for them via taxes. Immigrants pay sales tax.  But they send their disposable income elsewhere, which cuts down on buying/saving/investing at home. The Irish did this too. They sent money to Ireland during the Famine. I imagine all races, creeds, and nationalities have done this on their successive waves to America.

For their employers, this international labor market provides the wage differential (that's falling wages, folks) plus a lack of concern for items such as sick leave, harassment suits, expense accounts. First we priced ourselves out of the market, then we benefited ourselves out of the market. Then we gave up on entire markets. That's no way to roll.

1. When unions wake up from their torpid sleep, they'll figure out the only way to fix this is to go international, spend more time thinking in terms of markets instead of lobbying governments with jurisdictions that stop at big black lines on a map..

2. In the meantime, cities are fighting a holding action against international markets in labor--and international markets in drugs. Besides enforcement issues, which are deeply problematic, local jurisdictions are going to have to learn how to get the money and stop the free ride.

3. Workers are going to have to refine their ideas of a suitable wage. Not that this makes me happy.

We are undergoing a massive adjustment, whether we like it or not. No end in sight. But there's opportunity out there for many corrections that will work.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: The Great Pretender?

Recently I wrote Slamdunk that I had been to the Lincoln Memorial and as always, had an emotional reaction there. He wrote me back to say that Lincoln's reputation was nearing zero in many milieus of political thought. I think I have identified two. They are expansions of things I learned on Lincoln in high school.

The first one is that Abraham Lincoln was not sufficiently distressed about the plight of slaves. That he belonged to a political party that took a political or expedient view in regard to ending slavery. This diminishes his reputation among students of civil rights and African-American history. It makes him seem hypocritical.

Curiously, this argument is also used by those on another end of the political spectrum, those who believe Lincoln headed a government that intervened too much in daily life, especially in individual liberty as expressed by free enterprise. Lincoln instituted income tax. He suspended the writ of habeus corpus by Presidential Order. And there are a few other items against the libertarian point of view.

In this sense, the argument about Lincoln's sincerity is used as an ad hominem argument, that is, that his dilatory attitude on slavery showed him as a hypocrite in all other areas. Therefore, his thievery of civilian powers was just what you'd expect.

There are life-long students of Lincoln who surely could answer these questions in more detail and with more references than I will. However, that will not stop Ann T. from putting her two cents in.  I plan three posts: first to deal with hypocrisy and slavery. Second, on income tax and Lincoln's ideas on free enterprise--his philosophy of political economy. Third, on the suspension of habeus corpus with some side information on him as Commander-in-Chief and how it all fits together.

Mostly I will be using Lincoln's own words, from letters, speeches, and memoranda, as provided by the Library of America volume of his writings. But I will also use Web references, Shelby Foote's history of the Civil War, and a few other texts I happen to have hanging around the house.

I'm grateful to Slamdunk for bringing this to the front of my mind. And doesn't it fit right in with the kinds of things I like to think about?

Tomorrow is Another Day

Well, that's Scarlet O'Hara. I would have said tomorrow is another BIG day, because:
I meet my new therapist.
(Was there ever a point when we could NOT think that Vivian Leigh had issues?)

I've been a week between, which is not all so much, but I didn't want to break down progress. I think I may even have made some on my own (all progress is made on your own, anyway--no therapist can make you do squat. But they can help you re-frame your troubles so that you can move forward.)

In December or late November last year, I walked into assessment in complete and utter self-defeat. I will have at least two triumphant (but small) stories to recount on Monday. All that small stuff adds up to big stuff. I just have to keep moving. Nothing is going to stop me from winning my life back.

My next victory will be to be completely ready for the Condo Board next week. That will take some doing.

So I'll be dipping in and out with extra stories, but I have to get this done. Once it's done, I can concentrate on other, more personally relevant things.  Such as be more dynamic and more helpful, more interesting. Back to my novels, getting them out, things like that. All you first responders that I read have changed some of the implications in my already-written work. I plan to do some corrections. They will still be too much like the movies, but I think they will be more true to your gallantry, your despair, and your loyalty.

This Thursday there's a meet and greet at the lobby about personal and building security, hosted by our own volunteer committee. It's headed by a military doc who has a huge sense of community. Can't wait to see her. She is alive in every sense of the word. That's what I expect of myself.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Policing Gomorrah

Anyone who looks at my sidebar knows I follow blogs written by law enforcement officers. I ran into a new and fantastic one about a month ago.

The posts are short, brilliant, and true to life.

The pages there are black and white. The shades of grey are to the darker side. So are the stories.

The blog is Spark Check, authored by William Butler.

Spark Check recounts what hookers say when they're under arrest (ick),

what happens when a robber knows martial arts--sort of--and mostly

what really happens on curbs full of broken glass and road grit. 

It's not pretty. But it's beautiful.
The beauty is in the words, and in the understanding, and in his adherence to both art and truth.

Go check it out.

Book Illustrations: Gustave Dore

Gustave Dore (1832-1883) was a successful and brilliant engraver, draftsman, sculptor and painter. He is best known these days for his book illustrations. Masterpieces. Today I am amazed by the areas of light and dark that draw you in. Usually I am in awe of the line work.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by Gustave Dore. Beautiful!  Then the Ancient Mariner, who killed the albatross from foolishness and brought bad luck to all in his path.

And then Puss in Boots, scammer extraordinaire, with the Marquis of Carabas.

I just learned in Wikipedia that Dore collaborated on a book about London, published in 1872. I guess no one ever liked reality:
The book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial success, but the work was disliked by many contemporary critics. Some critics were concerned with the fact that DorĂ© appeared to focus on poverty that existed in London. DorĂ© was accused by the Art Journal of "inventing rather than copying." 
So here is "Third Class Passengers at the Station."

And then, here is the Prince discovering Cinderella after all. He seems a bit dumb-looking, but then he was a guy who tried a shoe on every woman on the planet. Maybe he should have been a shoe salesman.

So with this far-reaching talent and range of images, I wish you all a good weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

W.B. Yeats--The Second Coming

The Easter 1916 uprising failed, a huge effort for Irish separatism. Yeats knew all of its leaders and was in love with one of them. Domestic political revolution all over Europe was channelled into the "Great War", World War I. Most of the artists and many of the writers during that time, involved in anarchist, expressionist, futurist or other burgeoning art movements were either killed in Europe--or--went a little crazy afterward.

You can extrapolate to other fields and start counting the loss.

After the First World War,  ten years ensued where people tried to forget the past. I think that many believed that there was no future, or were completely disenchanted by what society seemed to provide.

So Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" in 1919 or 1920, after years of disappointment at home and abroad. In this lead-up, I have given my personal beliefs about the antecedents of this poem. A world gone mad, and nobody paying attention.

The first stanza especially speaks to me.  But I should let Yeats do the talking:

The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

--W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zombie Smoking Gun

Ha! I am finally  listening to my own advice. If I want something done by the Zombies, I have to do it myself. This is slow, but not as slow as Zombie Boss.
And not nearly as nasty as Zombie Assistant.
And as Treasurer, a volunteer position on my Condo Board, not nearly so expensive. But I can't afford to think about that.

In other news: I thought I had these zombies for sure. And I may VERY WELL have them--but I'm not quite there yet. A bill for too much money, paid by the Association, billed to an owner, who paid a different (smaller) amount. Neither the bill nor the payments have been added to the unit ledger.  The Association fronted the bill, and if it was padded, then somebody got a kickback. All still to be determined by Ann T., Private Deet (Volunteer), and  Forensic Accountant (Amateur) .

Still looking. Oh, how I am ready to kick Zombie Ass and pull Zombie Hair, turn the Ray Gun to Full and Disinfect Afterward.  And since I have developed all this muscle mass, getting leaner and meaner . . .

Wish me Luck! I need that missing piece and then: Bzzrammm!! Shazzzwhack!!!!!! Buh-bye!!!

Geek v. Hardware Store, Round Two

My new Geek T-Shirt came in the mail: Four Ancient Greek Scholars in Horn-Rims taped together at the nosepiece. Late this afternoon,  I put it on before heading to the hardware store. My bed frame needs to be tightened again, and I thought maybe the bolt was stripped. This is my second try at a fix. Both times, I have Seriously dented plaster in the wall, owing to being alone for this task in the Valley of Falling (Box) Springs. So The Geek wants this Over and Done.

So: Hardware Store. Enter: the Geek.
One of the regulars is waiting patiently in his reading glasses at the front counter. I stride right up, dig in my computer bag, and pull out the bolt. It does have screwdriver scratch marks on it, which always make me squirm. The screwdriver, to this lefty, is like Waterloo.

"I think the bolt is stripped, so I'd like two like this one."
He looks at it and carefully not at me. "No, see, it's a locking bolt." He shows me that there's nothing wrong with it, and the cap keeps it from screwing down all the way. He's using the voice of the Patient Teacher.

"Well, darn," I say. "I'm not bitter about this, but I did tip the guy so he would do it right."
He looks at me with soulful eyes and shakes his head. "Even after a tip." Then he pauses a minute over the outrage of it all.
"What you need is a wrench and a screwdriver. You hold one and turn the other."
I had done this before, but obviously not well--with a pliers and a tiny flathead screwdriver.
"Okay, I have a wrench. I  bought it here. I know just what you mean."

But no, he takes a wrench out of the package. He takes the price tag off of the universal screwdriver so it will fit flat-head side out. Then he demonstrates. He looks at me expectantly.

"Okay, I can do that," I said. "I need a new screwdriver though. I can't find my bigger flathead one."
He shakes his head. I get the Soulful Look again.

"You know what will happen if you buy one."
I look at him. "I'll find the old one, right."
He nods, sympathetically. 'It's just the way of the world."

I ask, and the screwdriver is $5.99. He gives me a warning look.
"Be sure and take the price tag off like I did, or the shaft won't fit in the socket."
"Okay, I'll do that."

I hand the onlooking cashier my debit card. But it's self-swipe. The cashier hands it back to me.

"Don't worry, just read the screen," he says. "It has all the instructions you need."

The last time I wrote about the hardware store, I was gently patted on the head while buying the aforementioned wrench. I thought it was so funny that I wrote about it here.

Now maybe you think, as a person who believes in equal opportunity for women, that I would be offended by these condescensions. I figure it's a win-win. We enjoyed the encounter. He sold a screwdriver, and my bedframe is all right and tight. I also got a lesson on how to plaster an outside corner. Ah, owing to many sculpture lessons, I know how to do that too. I just don't know which plaster to get.

Everything's good. Miss Ellen and I even had an hour of quality time.

Refs: This t-shirt art is from, which looks closed. My shirt was from They're sold out. I may be the last Geek in the Universe with a t-shirt to prove it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hagakure: The Omnipresent Now and Worldly Affairs

From Hagakure of Yamamoto Tsunetomo:

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is the succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.

Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as if he thought it were somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact.  But grasping this firmly, one must pile experience on experience. And once one has come to this understanding, he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bear it in mind.

When one understands this settling into single-mindedness well, his affairs will thin out. Loyalty is also contained within this single-mindedness.

It seems to me that almost every sentence in this passage is worthy of a separate meditation. Does anyone want to try one and see where it leads them . . . I'll go first in comments . . .

Art Work and Credits:
Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, p. 74. Trans. William Scott Wilson. Kodansha Press. Available.
ToshidoYoshi,  "Cherry Blossoms" (1970). A ukiyo-e or wood block print, frequently presenting "the floating world" but has other genres.
Toshikato Mizuno, "Samurai with Long Bow" (c. 1900). A kuchi-e or frontispiece to a magazine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

For Friends in Trial

All over my blog community,  people are encountering huge obstacles in their geographical communities: floods on their property. Untimely, unexpected death in the family. Troubles of other kinds.

How I wish I lived close to you all--I would be happy to wash dishes, shovel crap, launder blankets, and bring over some soup and coffeecake. In the meantime, you have my thoughts and best wishes, my hopes for good outcomes and relief from the tragedies. Keep me posted when you can. Until then, just know the candles are lit, on the tile table next to my red wall, for you all.

The Unsinkable Rocky Gause

Major Damon "Rocky" Gause was an Army Air Corps pilot stationed in the Phillippines approximately two weeks after he married Ruth Evans in October, 1941. Therefore, he was in Manila when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. MacArthur found out about Pearl Harbor sometime late on the 7th. On December 8, Japanese bombers started the air siege on the Philippines. The only reason MacArthur had any forewarning is that heavy fog interfered on December 7th.
Manila, post WW2: most of the bridges down, many bombed houses after invasion and re-invasion. [Manila Hub.]

On December 31, 1941, Gause was ordered to Manila to pick up radio equipment that had been left hehind when U.S. troops evacuated Manila to defend Bataan. Thus, Gause and a companion Connors were some of the few soldiers in Manila when the Japanese closed on Manila. They made it out, the second-to-last convoy. The last convoy lost everyone except one. Gause was part of the defense of Bataan and a major 'scrounger' for supplies for the starving, sick, and surrounded U.S. and Philippine troops there. When Bataan fell, he was off-site with a Sergeant "with whom he'd always had good luck locating supplies". They avoided the Japanese for days by staying half underwater, in mud, and even stealing through Japanese camps.

They tried to get to Manila Bay and on to Corregidor. Sergeant Connors either drowned or was attacked by sharks. A day or so later, Rocky was captured. He made a break for it, returned to the beach (he says, running faster than Jesse Owens in the Olympics) and swam to Corregidor through shark-infested waters, about 48 kilometers away.
[Satellite photo from Wikipedia.] 
The entrance to Manila Bay. Corregidor is of strategic importance, the large tadpole-shaped island in the center.]

When Corregidor fell, he and two Philippine soldiers left immediately after informing the CO; Rocky knew he was already a 'person of interest' to the Japanese. One of the Philippine soldiers was shot. The other two grabbed a bamboo pole, and Gause plus the other able officer swam, holding the bamboo pole between them with the wounded hooked to it. The wounded man, Arrasanzo, knew he was dying. When they got to shore, he distracted the Japanese soldiers, allowing Gause and his friend to escape yet again.

Through means of the Arrasanzo and other Philippine families he knew, Gause hid, eventually securing a boat. He met another escapee, Captain Osborne, who joined him in a fifty-two day island-hopping boat trip to Australia--3000 miles--for a total of 159 days of running, starving, hiding, scamming, enduring, and fighting like hell.

Lt. Damon Gause (R) and Capt. Lloyd Osborne stand by the "Ruth Lee," named for their wives, in the Philippines before taking off on their long, daring journey to Australia during World War II. Since motor oil was rarely available, they often used coconut oil for the boat's motor.  [Picture and Illustration from the Jackson Herald/Jefferson, Georgia.]

I won't go over the whole book: I think you'll want to read it yourself.  But I can't resist giving you the end: Gause and Osborne, just out of medical tents, clean at last but their feet still too swollen for shoes, go to their appointment with General MacArthur in his posh hotel.
"Sir, Lieutenant Gause reports for duty from Corregidor!"
MacArthur stood up.  "Well, I'll be damned!"
Major Gause was 5 foot 5, 165 pounds, a boxer, flyer, renegade, scamp, decision-maker, patriot, and warrior.

He was killed in the European Theater when his plane crashed in the defense of Britain. He left behind a trunk of memoirs and memorabilia from his Pacific adventures, a son he had seen for only two hours, and a young wife. His son caused his memoirs to be published in 1999.

Among the memorabilia: Gause's ship log. His diary, made of paper pressed between cardboard and bound with copper wire, and a first draft of the book. Major Gause also saved the last American flag flown on Corregidor before the Japanese took over.

And though I didn't start this post thinking of today's holiday, there it is: Happy Flag Day, everyone!

The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause. Hyperion Press. Still available.
In 1999, supposedly Miramax bought the film rights, but I can't find anything on a film.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Accuracy of Memory in Stressful Situations

This from the D.C. Local portion of the Washington Post: one new police officer, one drunk, one trial. One clusterfuck. Excuse my language.

In 2009, Officer Dina Hoffman dealt with a drunk in a car. Uncounted incidents later, she had to testify on that case. Her recollection was that the man was in the front seat, and that is what she testified. Surveillance video shows that the drunk was in the back seat.  Officer Hoffman was charged with perjury.
At her trial, Hoffman acknowledged testifying incorrectly. But she said it was not willful.
"I made a mistake," she said this week. "When I testified [in the 2009 trial] . . . I believed I was telling the truth."
She and her attorneys said her erroneous testimony was based on a memory that had become cloudy nearly a year after the original arrest, and on having read another officer's incorrect report that was handed to her about 30 minutes before she took the stand.

Yesterday, the jury acquitted her of all charges after a prosecution by a D.A. from another jurisdiction and an eleven-hour deliberation. She has two years in on the job, months of this on administrative leave and under suspicion. She wants to return to work and get on with her life.

Memory and Crime Studies
At least two sets of assumptions permeate the research of memory. The first is that stress aids memory: it has a tendency to set events firmly in mind. Therefore, witnesses are able to remember the perpetrators of crimes they have seen. This has a lot of common utility--who else will you ask, except someone who saw? I know I have been able to identify wrongdoers in two incidents. It all stuck through grand jury or trial. And I still remember all of it.

The second is that traumatic stress causes memory to fail. I also know this first-hand--I was a pedestrian in an auto accident. I remember parts of it very clearly, and not the minutes I knew I would be hit and was hit. In a less traumatic story, in my first job, I remembered no isolated incident the first three months: just a blur. (That's what working for Dairy Queen will do to you.)

Memory Study Methodology: The T.V. Generations
In C.A. Morgan et al (2004), one of the first things the researchers note: Most studies of memory take place under lab conditions.  In other words, a lot of words have been written about the memory of viewers of traumatic filmstrips.  Then this work has been applied to real-life stress in regard to survivors of combat, crime, and tense situations. This is the kind of study that has been guiding law enforcement training and going against or influencing real-life wisdom.

Other industries study memory using film presentation--the advertising industry proves that non-stress memory is short.  Consumers don't remember the name of the brand or what the actor said, unless there's a catchy "hook" and a lot of repetition of context along with the brand. The recognition devices repeat the "seen things" that are indeed, not very important. This research suggests that trauma aids memory. I would say preparation and cues aid memory, and one study I looked at seems to agree. You could even go so far as to say marketers are paid to increase stress for consumers and therefore build memory.

The U.S. military is also studying memory in regard to stress. U.S. Army survival school, for instance, is looking like a far better place to examine the accuracy of memory under high stress and life-threatening conditions than a laboratory with films of crime scenes. And their study suggests the opposite--that stress leads to inaccurate memory. Different arena. Different level of stress.

Better Study Conditions
In one study reviewed at link above, using abusive enemy prison guard scenarios, survival students were found to have better memory under low stress. Under high stress, they had to see more 'cues"--the same clothes on their guard/tormentor in order to identify him, or a series of memory encounters, starting with a photo array of cued or even un-cued images, before an un-cued lineup.

In addition, time has shown to change the effects of memory. High-stress memory needs to be consolidated, partly through REM sleep and partly through a chance to access all the parts of the incident. As early as 1992, Christianson reviewed memory study literature and hypothesized that "emotional events receive some preferential processing mediated by factors related to early perceptual processing and late conceptual processing". This means, I think, that the emotions have to be dealt with first, in a random stack, in the order of personal significance--before the narrative can be built for a testimony.

Plenty To Study vs. My Experience
There's a ton more articles on this, and I just parsed through a few. In my experience, memory in trauma works if you are prepared to have that trauma. Even realistic research is being conducted under controlled conditions (and what else can they do?)  Therefore, I think anecdotal understanding is also very important to understanding memory and its falsities. I offer my own examples, small though they are:

In both incidents where I testified, I knew before the time of the stressful incident that I had trouble on my hands. I had time to describe my troublemakers to myself. When I was hit by a car, I had no warning, and thus do not remember. For that first job at Dairy Queen, I had no training or experience, it was busy, and I didn't remember individual events.

Somebody correct me if I am wrong--but I think stress and memory follows a kind of Bell Curve, although certainly more round than this one. At no stress and great stress, memory approaches zero. In middle degrees of stress, memory is better.

We don't remember the unimportant--and we can't remember the all-important without training, experience, and preparation/"cues".  Thus, I imagine eyewitnesses who have advance knowledge of names and habits are better able to recount events because they have "cues" already embedded.  In short, if you know Joe Blow beforehand, he doesn't have to be wearing the same shirt for you to recognize him. If you've been down a tough road before, you can cue yourself more quickly.

I believe that Officer Hoffman was relatively new at her job, and therefore even a routine event had a certain level of stress. I believe she may not have had time to "cue" herself in a breaking situation.

I also believe this drunk was an unmitigated jerk, and that ratcheted the stress. Because it had more significance to her than it might have had five years down the road, her memory was not as good. It was not reinforced by proper 'cues', (an inaccurate report by another; she should have been Advised of the Video by the D.A under disclosure in advance) and was made to pay for her inexperience.

Now she has this traumatic trial on her agency record and in her mind. If she can dominate that stress, and gets some luck, she should be okay. She'll probably write the best reports ever. Does she have time to do that on an ordinary shift in a hot summer?

This drunk demanded too much. He was in the wrong, and he tried to hide it by a counter-accusation. The court system on all sides failed her. [NOTE: In comments, it's considered that she also failed herself by not relying on her OWN report.] Those other parties to disaster will never know the consequences of this legal proceeding on her: if it affects her performance, her promotability, her timeliness and confidence. I am glad the jury saw clear to acquit her. I hope she got some further training on memory and preparation, even in some informal manner. Reassurance and discussion would make a difference.

If anyone sees inaccuracies in the above assessments, please write in. I will add information if it becomes available. In the meantime, best of luck to Officer Hoffman, and all her brothers and sisters out in the streets, keeping us safe.

Story in the Washington Post, linked above.

C.A. Morgan, et al, "Accuracy of eyewitness memory for persons encountered during exposure to highly intense stress," International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 27(2004): 265-279. Linked above.

K. L. Keller, "Memory factors in advertising: the effect of advertising retrieval cues on brand evaluations. (Abstract). Journal of Consumer Research (1987). Linked here.

S. A. Christianson. "Emotional stress and eyewitness memory: a critical review." (Abstract). Psychological Bulletin, 112: 2 (1992, September), 284-309. Linked here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Picnic Time with Mrs. Fuzz

I think school lunches are done for the season. In its place, day-camp lunches and short picnics begin. Then work lunches continue as usual.

I don't generally write about food, but Mrs. Fuzz does. She packs the most gorgeous lunches I've ever seen, American food in the Japanese style of presentation a la Bento boxes. She packs lunches for a husband on the run and for her children, as below. Nothing blah about her lunchbox!

Here is one picture. She has the healthy, the fun, the finicky appetite, and the presentation all figured out.

In many of her examples, such as top left, she cuts the food to fit the size of the box, instead of opting for a huge, unwieldy piece of food storage with hard-to-eat, huge components flopping around inside. That's pizza, ya'all, as finger food. I have seen her do the same with a banana, one short, easy-to-peel fitted piece in another style box.

This thoughtful lunch includes two different flavors of muffin but the calories of only one, sliced and ready to eat. Fresh vegetables. Fresh fruit. The sky's the limit.

Design at its best includes both function and beauty. Check out all sixty-odd bento boxes--different shapes of box, different colors and foods--and a host of other good things, at Fuzz Food. I daresay her design sense will inspire you in other aspects of life. Mrs. Fuzz also blogs about her daily life. She's civic-minded, personal, funny, serious, and a wonderful writer--over at a police wife.

I have ordered a couple of Bento-style food storage items . . . . so inspiring. She's an artist.

Miss Ellen Takes Me to a Peaceful Place

This week, unbeknownst to me, Miss Ellen had an agenda. On Monday she went South instead of North and East instead of West. We ended up in a fabulous green park with sidewalks, trees, water, and wild ducks: a restful place.

The Vietnam Women's Memorial
Two minutes later, I saw Glenna Goodacre's very fine statue of the women of the Vietnam War. This is our nation's Pieta: one nurse holds a soldier in distress. One nurse grieves. One nurse stands, looking for incoming rescue or disaster. Her back is straight. Her hand is on the first nurse's shoulder. 

The Wall
I parked Miss Ellen in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial and went there first (to discuss another day). Then I ventured to the Wall.  It is just as magnificently stark and stern as ever, just as reflective of the surroundings as ever. The grass that grows there is green lawn, but has the look of nature, not a golf course. The visitors are all casually dressed, of all races and family situations. Strollers. Canes. Walkers. A lot of tennis shoes and cameras.

Red carnations lay below the names. Tributes are still laid there: one page with a pink plastic Rosary for all the mothers who prayed for their children in Vietnam. One class must have visited, part of a field trip. Each student had written something to the soldiers and left a gift. One model of a Navy destroyer was accompanied by a note:  "because you had to be tough outside and had life within".  An angel Christmas ornament. "My favorite from my collection, the one my grandma gave me, she is in heaven with you."  Those were the ones that I remember.

Also, there were a few petitions. Not large petitions, as you might make for a saint to cure your disease or get Uncle Tommy to straighten up, but petitions that they watch over our soldiers now. That they help guide us that still live. The reflection begins at the wall's polished granite and extends to its visitors.

The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall states, and explicitly limits, a stark truth. Its starkness causes people to respond to it. I remember how afraid many people were to have Maya Lin's design built, because it was something new in style, not fluffy or pictorial, not creating grandeur. I love this memorial because it creates greatness out of simplicity. It invites us to answer back. It influences us to touch our own better nature.  Ms. Lin had in mind the feeling of an epic poem, a list of warriors such as in our great mythologies, and she was right. But I don't think she could have known the personal response it would call forth, year after year, even  from people who have no memory or connection to the war.

The Three Soldiers
The Three Soldiers' statue by Frederick Hart is undergoing restoration. Parts of its bronze has worn away. In a sensitive move, the statue remains on-site, in a temporary building with windows, so you can still see it. It looks like the restorers clean up after themselves daily, so that we get the best view possible. What I saw, the arms of all three, their veins almost lifelike, are losing luster. I had the feeling those arms had been stroked many times by those seeking to recapture, momentarily, the people they loved.

The National Park Service is taking good care of our memory and heritage at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. I found Miss Ellen. She and I passed through the green and trees again, listening to the evening calls of water birds.

Hemet California Update-Links to Check

A new summary of attacks, including the latest attack with a shoulder-fired bazooka toward the building, is at Officer-dot-com. (Source Riverside CA Press-Enterprise.)  Bunkermeister at SGT Says briefly discusses it here.

Though the attack was unsuccessful, it remains a terrible warning. Yet only the local paper and the law enforcement news aggregators are documenting it. This is home-grown terrorism. It's dangerous to our civil society, and sets a terrible precedent.

Law Enforcement: stay safe out there. And citizenry: be aware. Your security will dribble away, drop by drop, without attention to items of this nature.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) also has some posts on this at their Muckraker.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rain on Pavement

Twelve photographs of rain and pavement. These were the ones I had posted in my journal. I'm still on Project.

I think my favorite in this bunch is # 4.