Thursday, June 28, 2007

The perplexity of Paris: I surfed the channels last evening and slid past Larry King's interview of Paris Hilton thinking I was not going to watch the insipid immersion into all things Paris which has overtaken this country. I decided, however, to focus on the interview to see if an intelligible sentence could be uttered by her glossy lips. I thought that, despite my skepticism of Paris's motives and knowledge that zebras cannot and, most likely, do not want to change their stripes, Paris Hilton's appearance and interview on Larry King helped her image if that is, in fact, what she was trying to do.

I don't have a clue and do not care what her motives really are. Who can tell? I do not claim mind reader status. She did, to me, appear controlled, articulate and much smarter than I thought she was. I was surprised at how decent she sounded.

I changed my thought about all things Paris and decided she represented more than originally met the eye. I thought, perhaps, I would wax philosophical about her as I think she was given gifts by nature, God, accident of birth, chance or whatever controls our destiny. She has beauty, her health, money and intelligence. What more could one ask? At her age I had to struggle and did so all of my life. She, though, I perceive, is a lucky woman. Fate has shown brightly on her and I hoped she realized that.

If I were she I would take advantage of every gift. She should, I believe,complete her education, become proficient in her interests including achieving academic excellence for its own sake. I thought, she should, too, attain a degree and use it. Then, I thought she should give back to those who were not bestowed that kind of good fortune. She appears to have it all and I would like to see her use it wisely. Is she what she appeared to be on Larry King? Only time will tell.

Although I am not religious, Biblical thought can, I think, sometimes be very rich. She was asked by Larry King what her favorite Bible verse was since she has made statements that she was, while in prison, reading the Bible and to some extent became religious. To my surprise, she could not formulate an answer. To Paris I would say: I think good New Testament passages include: "If you have done something unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me." I have always liked the Beatitudes as well. In the Hebrew Bible a/k/a The Old Testament, Ecclesiastes has been a favorite of mine: "There is a time for every purpose under heaven -- a time to be born and a time to die." If I could talk to her I would say to her use now what you have so fortunately been given by a sometimes benevolent universe. As the poet John Donne iterated so eloquently in 1624: "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Paralysis of Polio: I read a review in the Boston Globe by Gail Caldwell of what appears to be an interesting book about a memoir of a polio survivor entitled "Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven" by Susan Shreve. I am a polio survivor.

I caught the virus in 1954 at age five. What seemed like the flu at the time turned out to be a life long affliction. I was one of -- as they at Children's Hospital in Boston called me at the time -- "lucky" ones because I had polio in only one leg. It did, however, completely paralyze my right leg and I wear a long leg brace even to this day.

You are right when you say polio was not a simple virus because it struck for life. It was and remains today, for those who are unlucky enough to be born in third world nations which still have not entirely eradicated the disease, a fantastically expensive and orthopedically catastrophic disease especially if one did not or does not get the proper care and even if one does. Luckily, I received the best care that was available at the time to treat the after-effects of polio. After I contracted it I spent one year in bed confinement, wore casts, crutches, braces, corsets, orthopedic shoes, had continuous x-rays, skin temperature tests, spent, it seemed, half of my life at clinic visits and had two childhood surgeries all in an attempt to ward off the orthopedic deformative effects of the disease. I was not free of Children's Hospital visits until age 16.

As a child I had few complaints. As a teenager and then as an adult I had plenty. The psychological ramifications of polio never deserted me. I obviously did not die from it but I did not begin life at the same starting gate as my able-bodied friends. Yes, I know, life is not fair but I still resented my plight. Polio, in my experience, mattered in life's game and it still matters to me today.

No one told me that when I reached middle age, my leg bones would be thinner than normal or that my fatigue level would be increased or that I would be much more prone to falling or that I would fracture my femur bone of my polio leg THREE times and have my occupational life turned upside down. No one told me as a child that the nature of attraction between the sexes is physical first. A person may love you for your brain but as a youth it is one's body first that attracts. I believe that is our DNA dictate and a woman's legs are a big part of her sexual package. Our Madison Avenue culture does not help the situation either. I had a hard time as a teenager because, although I was fairly bright and perhaps better than average looking, my leg was not the least bit sexy. Blind dates would turn around and walk away when they saw me walking toward them. I was not what they expected! In addition, I was as physically active as I could be and loved sports but I was limited because a seemingly innocent microscopic virus took the goodies of life as a young adult away from me. That vacuum was never filled for me no matter how intelligent I was or am, no matter how much I love to write or how talented I may be at it. I still, when I go into a shopping center, avoid looking at long-length mirrors or my reflection in a window.

I wanted to write to you because I get tired of hearing all the rosy Oprah-like stories about so many people who think that their disease is the "best thing" that ever happened to them. I do not. I never overcame its damaging psychological effects. Polio impacted my life and left its paralysis in more ways than one. I am still angry about it and have resented its onslaught. I have accepted the fact that, as long as I live, I will never accept what it did to my life. I wanted to present to you another side of the story. I suspect there are more who feel as I do but it is simply not the politically correct way of being in our sugar coated, reality denying, sometimes stupidly optimistic culture. It is, though, the way I feel and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brian William's interview of an Iraq war widow: Brian, really your dewy eyed basset hound look when interviewing the wife of a soldier killed in Iraq is simply media staged. If the news conglomerates can make a buck especially off a women's tears and sadness they'll do the story. What on this earth would someone who has lost a loved one in Iraq say about Iraq? Would she/he say that they died for nothing? How many times do we the public have to hear those meaningless explanations that freedom is not free? I get that BUT Iraq had NOTHING I repeat NOTHING to do with our freedom. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was based on lies, misplaced revenge, the attainment of power, corporate money, delusional neocon politics and pure hubris. The Iraqis never attacked us or our freedom. Osama bin Laden did. Where is he? Why wasn't there an all out effort by the hugest, strongest military on planet earth used to get the REAL perpetrator? Iraq got in the way of Afghanistan where the real culprits lie. I might add the preponderance of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia. Why didn't we attack them?

Guess what? Reality speaks. Iraq was an epic mistake and all nearly 3600 and counting have indeed died for not a thing except to put this country and the world in an even greater danger. If there was no Al Quaeda in Iraq before the war there certainly is now. I feel great empathy for that woman but if one wants to, in fact, do the right thing by all our soldiers and to show true empathy get them out of that dastardly hell called Iraq immediately. Our soldiers were commanded to invade a country which did nothing to us. They are in that country to kill because that is the military's purpose. It is NOT nation building.

My freedom feels to me to be more at risk now than directly after 9/11 when the world was with us. We now stand alone and are considered by many to be a rogue nation. What happened between 9/11 and now? George Bush took us to an unnecessary war and our soldiers went voluntarily. Our 3000 lost on 9/11 have NOT been avenged. Bin Laden is still alive crawling around a mountain somewhere with kidney dialysis machine in tow on the Pakistan border and the strongest nation on earth has done nothing about it. According to George Bush in one of his speeches he does not care!

When Bin Laden is captured or killed I could say THAT was a rational response. With all due respect to that woman who lost her husband in Iraq, so called freedom was not the rationale for going there in the first place. It was to allegedly find WMD and for other vacuous reasons. When we found no WMD all of a sudden it was about some trumped up platitude called Iraqi freedom. Attacking a nation that did not attack us is CERTAINLY not free it is damn expensive!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thoughts on War: I saw one picture of graphic violence with respect to the latest insane Iraq mosque bombings. How can anyone steal the beauty of those mosques? They were simply gorgeous edifices constructed by the mind of man. The destruction of them is so sad and the annihilation of people even sadder. The carnage is unimaginable. It simply staggers me. I think with all the glory, all the parades and all the hoopla about war this is what war really is. It's not glory and it's not flag waiving. It is bodies ripped apart so one can barely identify that the corpse was once a human being. The man on a stretcher in an Iraqi "emergency room," the remnants of whose body I saw, was somebody's son, somebody's brother, husband or friend. The love of him has been drowned in a river of blood. His identity covered soon by the dust. Most of us who live here are lucky. We are not used to this kind of violence except if you were so unlucky to have been at Ground Zero on 9/11 or in the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Generally speaking, we do not know the carnage that exists in Iraq except for the few who were so unlucky to be sent to that God forsaken place and are among our dead or wounded.

Then, of course, I think of Hiroshima or Nagasaki as recently I had the misfortune of seeing the graphic pictures of that too. It is unimaginable. Every day I think of the Holocaust and the ovens, the torture and death. I search for meaning where there is none. How can we do this to one another? Why? It is such a waste of humanity. Somewhere among the dead of recent wars perhaps lies a scientist, an artist, a playwright, a mathematician or a biologist who cures disease. Why do we waste life with such ease? What religion tells human beings to do this to one another? It is beyond my understanding. I simply do not know. I have been told history is written by the victors and that I believe is so. Really, though, in the end we are ALL the losers. War today, I believe, has no winners. I shake my head in disbelief and wonder if I will ever live to see the senseless violence end.
Homosexuality -- a Biological Imperative and Biblical Fallacy: In my opinion, there is no question that homosexuality, generally speaking, is biologically determined in-utero probably due to a combination of hormonal and other genetic factors. It is impossible to think that most would choose a life which is fraught with difficulty if there were not an overwhelmingly compelling nature-driven dictate orchestrating man's sexual symphony.

As man's knowledge increases I hope there will be a time when the issue of gay marriage will be moot. I trust some day the Biblical edicts which some interpret to frown upon and exact brutal punishments for homosexuality will be understood in the same context as the Biblically fallacious ideas that once believed the earth was the center of the universe. Through science and observation we absolutely know the earth is just a small part of huge universe and that it lives because it revolves around the sun. We can, therefore reject much of which is undeniably scientifically and fundamentally untrue about the Bible. Likewise, I hope, someday science will verify the fact that biology itself determines sexuality. When this happens it would be nice if the murderous behavior of all those religious fanatics who base their cruelty against homosexuals on Biblical veracity would finally see the error of their ways.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Our Prescient Founders: Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
— James Madison
Iraq the Continuing Debacle: The Bush administration has committed a foreign policy blunder of epic proportions. It has brought our country to an abyss. It is staggering how any one administration could have done so much damage to our country which was once the envy of the world. Our, country, the beacon of liberty's light where so many came to enjoy its endless possibilities seems to be on the precipice of a disaster from which we may never recover. Our enemies are now salivating at our weakness and unlike WWII we have very few allies in Europe and elsewhere we can count on for true support. The Bush administration, its cronies and political hacks have forfeited the credibility we once enjoyed.

Iraq has been an unmitigated failure promulgated by lies to the Congress and to the American people. This adventure has dismembered our military, spent our treasure and has mired us in foreign entanglements about which our prescient Founding Fathers warned. This administration has opened up a hornets nest and, in the process, squandered our best opportunity to dismantle Al Qaeda when the world was with us. How could they have done this to our nation? They have fractured the Middle East by opening up a war which could set the entire region on fire. The president has compromised our own civil liberties by dismembering our rights one by one.

President George Bush ignored the warnings before 9/11 which appeared on his desk. The Bush administration, with Cheney at the helm and Rove in the background, have committed endless illegalities and have taken this nation possibly to the brink of destruction. I really do hope prayer works because I am saying one for our nation. This is a grave and extraordinarily serious time, perhaps, even worse than the rise of the European tyrannies of the 20th century. I hope our president sleeps well. I can assure you I am not.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Movies-- "Gidget": I LOVE watching films of the 1950's which say so much. Well, they say so much about the 1950's. What a ridiculous bunch of substantively nothing some of these films were. The plots are so thin as are the women. I think when one looks at these films ... really looks at them ... one can see why there had to be a feminist movement. All the cliches apply. The women surely do not seem to have a brain in their head.

In this film Gidget's friends simply do not know what on earth will happen to poor Gidget if she doesn't have a successful summer which means getting a steady boyfriend. She cannot even return to school if that doesn't happen. Gidget, well, she just ruminates and hand wrings wondering why oh why she just does not have the right stuff. Maybe there is something "wrong" with her that she simply does not care about men. She's such a cutsey tomboy. Uh oh..Nope, not to worry, gay is not an issue. Gay is an impossibility in that era and not even eluded to even though one of her friends seems ever so lesbian to me. Worry not though, her friend who helps her dress for the loowow and listens while Gidget worries about men but says nothing, is pinned, to a guy of course. Gidget's mother reassuringly stands by and tells her everything is AOK and she will know that man when she meets him. Whew, I was SO worried.

We know, all's well that ends well and Gidget does finally get a man (Moon Doggy)in the hunky form of James Daren and, of course, remains virginal to boot. She realizes there is nothing "wrong" with her at all. She simply did not meet the "right" one. Thank God. She's saved OR thank God she saved IT! How could this ever-so bleached blond with an 18 inch waist, those platinum looks and pancake makeup whiter than white skin not meet anyone? One could never mistake her for a black woman that's for sure. Of course, in the 50's there were no blacks right? Did anyone of that era really have Gidget's hair and skin that color? If one cared to notice Gidget's eyebrows were brown! No one notices as blond, whiter than white skin, and an 18 inch waist, especially for women, are what America in the 50's wanted everyone to be.

What was her character all about? If one expects her to discuss War and Peace, Dickens, Steinbeck or even Louisa May Alcott forget it. How about she discusses James Baldwin, Alan Ginsberg or Lenny Bruce? No way. Will she talk about Jim Crow laws in the south, the Brown v. Board of Eduction Supreme Court decision or American foreign policy post WWII? I don't think so. Gidget is about worrying though. It is worrying about learning how to surf, attending loowows in the right clothes, hunky guys and Gidget's lack of attraction to men err lack of attraction to the RIGHT man. After all, this is serious stuff.

Perhaps, the film is about innocence. Innocence, though, without some reality is simply trash. That is what the Gidget films are. They are pure and simply ridiculous trash. Sandra Dee had talent however as evidenced by movies such as "Imitation of Life" and "A Summer Place." It's too bad her talent was wasted on the Gidget genre of film. Obviously, those films made money and THAT was what the Gidget films were all about. They made money because America wanted women to be like Sandra Dee. If you weren't like that then too bad--life is tough.

Oh well, I will admit watching those films is like taking a drink. It's utter escape into a life of pure fantasy and into the innocent life of a 1950's that really never was all that innocent. No, Gidget is surely not reality. For a moment, though, when I watch it, I can pretend, indeed, it is.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Terror of TB: Everyone connected with Mr. Speaker's extreme drug resistant TB is at fault. In my opinion, the very first time Mr. Speaker was aware, initially in January after a rib injury, that he had a case of extreme drug resistant TB, a prohibitive no travel possibly quarantine order should IMMEDIATELY have been issued by our government. It should NEVER have been suggested he not travel but it should have been DEMANDED AND LEGALLY ORDERED he not travel. Where was our much touted Homeland Security? After all biological risk is said to be on their agenda. Being a lawyer, he certainly should have known he should not assume the legal (not to mention moral) risk of travel harboring a contagious disease. I don't care if he was marrying the Queen of England. He should not have traveled legally and he should not have traveled morally. Who the hell does the moral thing these days? It's every man for himself. He fits right in to our right wing leadership which does not REALLY care a wit about society as a whole but loves non-governmental intervention especially in cases of public need (but not in cases of unnecessarily bombing the hell out of other countries which did not attack us.)

This shows one, I believe, that the individual cannot be trusted to do the right thing because many care only for themselves. It is the law of self preservation. The initial medical establishment who treated Mr. Speaker is at fault and the CDC is at fault when both became informed that the TB was drug resistant. Mr. Speaker himself is culpable for not having a shred of decency to consider the other guy. Of course the border inspector in Canada who knew and thought Speaker looked "well" and let him back into the US should, without question, be fired.

Speaker failed and, most especially, our system failed. Welcome to the Age of Katrina and the Bush administration's DEemphasis of governmental responsibility. God help us. I say get this accursed administration out of our nation's highest offices fast and elect a human being with intelligence as the chief executive who will hire people of expertise to control the critical arenas of public protection. Elect a chief executive who does not simply spout platitudes about morality but one who REALLY does something to ensure the nation survives.

This president has appointed moronic cronies to the most sensitive positions caring for the public welfare. Whether it's the security of this country compromised by disease, disaster, or terrorism we need INTELLIGENT leadership in offices which have dictates over public safety. We need ACTION and not rote cranked out speeches that tout feigned action. Most especially we need this administration to be held accountable.

This TB episode, in my view, is a reflection of a higher reality just as the Katrina response was. Our country's leadership at every juncture is an utter and abominable failure. It is the WORST in history and it is humiliating that the world sees a complete nincompoop and his cronies control the nation's highest echelons of power catapulting this nation over a cliff.

Natalie Rosen