Thursday, January 30, 2014

Michael Bronner -- Another Tour de Force

Our Man in Africa
America championed a bloodthirsty torturer to fight the original war on terror. Now, he is finally being brought to justice.

This long read will make you sick if you read it closely, a highly-recommended
journalistic tour-de-force. When history looks at the last three decades of the
Twentieth Century, America will be the star player on the stage. And our executive
leadership, beginning with the systemically corrupt Nixon years, lubricated by the
blood-soaked thirty-year period we call the Reagan Revolution, will make the lies
and corruption of the Vietnam Era look like just another day's business.
FP Magazine also employs a Web-friendly format that makes reading, copying and
note-taking much easier than usual. It's an improvement over the "single page"
format. This quote, for example, can be found in section/page #2:
>> Guengueng was dragged to a cell, disappearing into a horrific purgatory. Overtwo and half years, the gentle bookkeeper would be held in three different jails --
first in solitary confinement, then packed so tightly with other prisoners he couldn’t
lie down to sleep, unless someone died. Which they did, every night, at which point
the living would sleep on top of the dead. When the guards deemed the body count
high enough to justify the effort -- five or six -- they would remove the corpses. In a
long, moving interview in N’Djamena recently, ClĂ©ment Abaifouta, Guengueng’s
friend and fellow former inmate, described being forced daily over four years to bury
hundreds of prisoners claimed by execution or illness. <<
This is why I don't watch movies showing gratuitous violence. When we watch
movies we know those images on the screen are actors enhanced by the magic of
digital creativity. We tell ourselves that such things cannot really happen. But those
images -- and in some way even reports like this -- have a pornographic appeal to
those who embrace savage conflict resolution and internalize the Myth of
Redemptive Violence.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blogging Break

Note to readers:
Thanks for visiting and reading.
My blogging will stop for an undetermined interval for personal reasons.
The comments sections are still active as is my Twitter account (@Hootsbudy) and Facebook page which is public.
Feel free to write or tweet. I have all the Facebook "friends" I can handle, but anyone can "follow."
Back soon, I hope,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Twitter Talk -- Marriage and Other Matters

This Twitter conversation is worth keeping. 

Noah Smith ‏@Noahpinion17h
Almost none of the discussions I see about the decline of marriage bother to ask the question of *why people get married*...

@Noahpinion really? I thought it was widely accepted that female economic parity with men, and welfare, reduced marriage incentives.

@oddblots But @Noahpinion mentioned an example that runs counter that---Japan has lower marriage rates and definitely not parity.

@adamgurri @Noahpinion   Japan is always a special case... Is there a good writeup of why that is, besides the "hikkomori" phenomenon?

@oddblots @Noahpinion No clue. That a similar phenomena is occurring, though, does make one question received wisdom on this subject.

@oddblots @Noahpinion My pet theory is that a lot of it can be explained by simply the transition away from agriculture.

@adamgurri @oddblots @Noahpinion Europe is post-agriculture, but non-marrieds still live together. Why the decline in -families-?

@Celt_Englishman @oddblots @Noahpinion They live together but don't get married or have kids. Not sure if comparable.

@adamgurri @oddblots @Noahpinion Even those having kids aren't getting married. EU has family formation without marriage; US neither. Why?

@Celt_Englishman @oddblots @Noahpinion Good question.

@Celt_Englishman @oddblots @Noahpinion gets at Noah's initial question---why do people get married at all?

@adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots Related question: Why don't people marry their best (platonic) friends?

@DrPhilofEconomi @adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots In other words, why do we bundle romance, cohabitation, and child-rearing?

.@Noahpinion @adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots Conformity. But the non-glib answer should be sought when institutions were still new.

@DrPhilofEconomi @adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots Saving marriage would seem to require a deep rethink of human relationships.

.@Noahpinion @adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots "Rethink" implies Cartesian rationality. idk if I'm ready to swallow that pill.

@DrPhilofEconomi @adamgurri @Celt_Englishman @oddblots I'm the Cartesian Demon himself, so it's a cinch for me.

@Noahpinion @DrPhilofEconomi @Celt_Englishman @oddblots burn the witch!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Following the Ninth -- Must-see Movie

Next must-see movie...

I don't need to see this film to know it will be good. 
There is no way it can be otherwise. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

HCR -- Another End of Life Case

Among the New Year's Day tragedies is the case of Jahi McMath, brain dead at thirteen following surgery gone horribly wrong, whose grieving mother cannot come to terms with the reality that her child is dead. This story, though somewhat different, is receiving national attention similar to other end-of-life cases have in the past. This Facebook comment sums up what is happening:

...there's a cottage industry of escalating cases such as these to scandal status, and they all seem to follow a familiar script:
  • weeping family harbors unrealistic hopes; 
  • family makes ominous or outrageous accusations against hospital; 
  • hospital cannot respond due to medical confidentiality; 
  • wingnut supporters rush in to grind their particular religious and political axes; 
  • family & supporters trumpet unbelievable but unchallengeable reports of medically unlikely improvement; 
  • huge outcry by misinformed public develops. 
The hidden agenda is both to create precedent in law and public opinion for right-wing control of end-of-life decision making, and to paint medicine and science as evil and untrustworthy, to promote their general anti-science outlook. Tedious, familiar, and infuriating. The families often seem to be only marginally responsible. 
You have to sympathize with their hopes, even when unrealistic. It's the religious-right provocateurs who turn these cases into circus shows.

End of life and beginning of life issues are intensely personal and should never be subject to public debate except in the most extraordinary circumstances, especially in today's polarized political environment. That said, here are a couple of links to end-of-life readings I have been collecting for some time, a few of which deal with children and infants. 

When filling out my own advance directive I checked the following detailed instructions:
I want this Directive For Final Health Care to become effective at the time it is signed and to continue in effect until my death or beyond my death if an organ donation, autopsy or disposition of remains is authorized...
I notice the current Georgia form is not that specific, but that is a minor quibble. 

I urge everyone to take the time to prepare an advance directive, no matter what your age, and review it every five years or more to keep up with legal and scientific developments and to make sure none of your agents for care has died or changed their minds about the responsibility.  I'm sure forms vary from state to state, and this is an area still evolving in the public debate, so everyone has a responsibility to themselves and their families to keep up.