Monday, December 31, 2007
Years past have yielded many nice mental excursions. Chile, Spain, Ireland, Malta and Tahiti were happily considered in prior times. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and Switzerland are more current choices -- although Switzerland could never be more than a summer home for me (ditto Iceland). I try to be realistic about things like hurricanes (hence no carribean countries are on my list) and ease of fitting into the culture. Lately southern France has been on my mind, traceable back to seeing "SICKO" earlier this year. Once I fixate on a country, I have to select a likely region. So I decided, why stop at the southern shore of France? Why not head out INTO the mediterranean? Let me take you on a little tour of the French Region of Corsica:
CORSICA is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, located west of Italy, southeast of France, and directly north of the island of Sardinia. It is considered one of the 26 regions of France, although it enjoys powers slightly more important than other regions due to its territorial status. It has wonderful coastal beaches, but is so mountainous, I don't think global warming rising tides will do it much harm. It's a quick bunny hop to/from the French Riveria.
The island has a Mediterran-ean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The natural vegetation is forest, woodland and shrubs, and includes a national park which protects thousands of rare animal and plant species & is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to the island's pleasant climate, tourists seek out the beautiful mountains and breathtaking coastlines. However, the island has not had the same level of intensive development as other parts of the Mediterranean and thus remains relatively unspoiled.
Ever the realist, I must note there is much political violence in Corsica's long history which has not yet resolved itself peacefully. The island has had blood feuds that make the Hatfields and McCoys look like lovebirds. They invented the word "vendetta" and mafia activity is not unknown. There are several movements on the island calling for Corsican autonomy, generally focusing on preservation of their native tongue, more power for local government, and additional exemptions to their already generous exemptions from the notoriously oppressive french taxes. They opposed Nicolas Sarkozy in the last election, so they can't be pro-bush -- I should've realized that after learning this factoid: the constitution of the Corsican Republic, written in 1755, was used as a model for the American Constitution.
Here is a little Corsican villa on a private beach that accepts pets and is available to rent by the week or month. Not convinced? Here's more photos of "our" villa environs, similar to my idea of heaven.
I even know what we could do to support ourselves there, if we made it our home! You see, Corsica is a habitat for Cork Oak (Quercus suber), a valuable and protected resource. Now, I know about Cork Oaks. They don't grow just anywhere. In fact, they are confined to particular areas of southwest europe and northwest africa. I learned about them in researching flooring products. Not too popular (yet) in America, cork flooring has many desireable qualities. In my opinion, it is a perfect flooring material. Unlike hardwood floors, cork has a resilient/spongey feel & is easy to maintain. Unlike tile floors, cork doesn't freeze your feet (it is temperature-neutral) & it doesn't echo (it absorbs sound). There are cork floors in libraries that are 100-yrs old & have never cracked or needed much maintenance. And what's even better -- cork is a renewable resource. Yes! The bark of Cork Oaks is harvested without harm to the trees! After a few branches or partial trunk is peeled, a new layer of bark forms which can then be harvested in a few years. Since Cork Oaks live 150-250 years, that's a lot of cork bark harvesting. Now, the peeling of cork bark is a skill usually passed on through generations of cork growers, ALWAYS done entirely WITHOUT machinery, but there is NO reason a motivated person couldn't learn & thus find themselves in the vanguard of providing a rare renewable raw material for a useful housing product. Remember you heard it here first!
So Corsica is my choice this year -- an island of France that enjoys all the famous french social benefits without the onerous taxes, a mild climate, relatively unspoiled coasts and mountains, our own private villa, and if we're lucky, a grove of Cork Oaks that we can harvest for the rest of our lives in a manner that is easy on the environment. Anyone care to join me on my island?
It's not perfect: the language barrier might prove difficult. The people are mostly of italian descent, speaking a dialect known as Corsu, which is considered italianate, but sounds decidedly french (much the same as portuguese sounds a bit like spanish with a french accent to american ears). My italian is Godfatherish (with many hand gestures) and my french is neant. Quelle sinistre!
I have a sample for you! This YouTube is "Fields of Gold" sung by Sting and I Muvrini, a band from Corsica. Listen carefully to their Corsu accent. How easily could you pick up that patois and have a meaningful conversation? I'm already practicing. (3.6 minutes):
Consider this my New Years present to you, my blog friends! The scenery is stunning, the men handsome, the women gorgeous, the song reminiscent of the true meaning of Auld Lang Syne, and that big smooch at the end is much like a New Years Eve midnight kiss...10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!!!! ... Happy 2008, Everyone!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
They were all back home, all the Fathers and Mothers, the Sons and Daughters, the Sisters and Brothers.
They were no longer the same as before we sent them away, but they were finally back home. We gave them a heroes welcome, even though some of them knew they weren't heroes. We treated the wounded in body as well as the wounded in mind and spirit. We promised them that their sons and daughters would never be sent and spent like this again, and we meant it. We gave the kind of love a caring society gives, the whole-hearted love that comes when people share a common dream. We had so much love, we held public funerals for the dead. Then we as a nation started to heal. And a funny thing happened. As we were healing, other nations also began to heal, even ones that had sworn enmity in their hearts. Pretty soon, the whole earth started healing. And it all started when they came back home.
Bring them home now!
Jefferson Airplane 1967 "Comin' Back to Me" ...
This has always been a tearfully emotional song for me.
I close my eyes and listen with my heart.
Friday, December 28, 2007
TIME's PERSON OF THE YEAR IS VLADIMIR PUTIN
Every year, TIME Magazine profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or worse has done the most to influence the events of the year". Many times this is a controversial figure, not an admirable person. Examples in the rollcall of the infamous are: Adolph Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1939 & 1942, Khrushchev in 1957, Richard Nixon 1971 & 1972, and The Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
There was massive public backlash in the U.S. over Khomeini as Person of the Year. After that, TIME began steering away from those generally viewed as having a negative influence on historical events. Still, even with this newfound sensibility, TIME named Newt Gringrich in 1995, Kenneth Starr in 1998, Geo W Bush in 2000 & 2004, and Rudolph Giuliani in 2001 (even though Osama Bin Laden, by all possible criteria, was the Person of the Year for 2001).
Last year, TIME named "YOU" (yes, YOU!) as the Person of the Year for 2006. This gave many people a grand sense of self-importance, and perhaps led to unreasonable expectations for 2007. After all, once YOU have been named as Person of the Year, I think it's pretty much time to retire the whole catagory, don't YOU?
In contemplating a list of possible 2007 candidates for TIME Person of the Year, I must admit, I never even considered Putin. Here are a few possibilites I entertained (in no particular order):
BARACK OBAMA -- for capturing imagination & providing a bright ray of hope as the first african-american with a real chance to be elected president.
AL GORE -- nobel peace prize, academy award for a world-changing film, and (hello!?!) helping to bring the world's attention to bear on saving our planet.
GENERAL PETRAEUS -- for being the scapegoat and/or willing shill in the incredible months-long bush build-up to his flat squish of an assessment of the Iraq Occupation/War (complete with graphs & charts).
BENAZIR BHUTTO -- for risking her life in a self-appointed mission to return Pakistan to democratic government and dedicating her efforts toward a moderate Islam that would marginalize extremists.
THE MONKS OF BURMA -- for standing up & speaking out against a repressive regime, leading the people of their country to protest, even at the cost of their lives and torture of their bodies.
Nope, no Putin anywhere on my list. I guess I should be glad it wasn't Geo W Bush again. But truthfully, one person who scares me more than Bush is Putin. (note: to learn more about Putin, and why TIME selected him, click on above links for multiple-page articles, but I have to say, the more I learn about him, the more I dislike him.)
**** UPDATE: Click here to see the TIME runners up and People That Mattered. Am I nuts? I can't believe some of the names: Gates, Gonzo, Barry Bonds, Don Imus, B-B-B-Britney?!? (I'm speechless) ****
OK, What about YOU? If there is any validity to the concept, who did you think would be the TIME Person of the Year for 2007? Or, if you don't care about TIME and their criteria, which public figure would you say most influenced your events this year? In that catagory, I would nominate Keith Olbermann, for his "Special Comments".
It may not be everyone's cuppa, but I can't get this song out of my head today. The loss of Benazir Bhutto is a failure of humanity.
Monday, December 24, 2007
And after seeing the mall parking lots full of cars & stores full of people not looking too happy today, I surely hope everyone has completed their holiday shopping. The Culture of Consumerism is alive and well in America!!!
My favorite Christmas poem/song/wish:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men!
------by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Click here to read the complete poem. It's not all sweetness and light. Written during the civil war, there are two stanzas usually omitted from the familiar holiday song that are particularly dismal, but sadly applicable to our current global excursions. Expect more on that subject next year.
OK, now you know I can't leave it that way, not for Christmas Eve. I'm not that cruel! I had too much fun with this Three Little Pigs & Big Bad Wolf vid (1.5 minutes). The look on the reindeers' faces at the end is priceless. I think Santa's sleigh must've landed on the big bad wolfie, which just goes to show ... Santa is not Dick Cheney.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
We had this Christmas routine in my family: My brother, sister & I would all go to bed very early Christmas eve, so that we could wake ourselves up as early as possible and secretly open a few Christmas presents. Not Santa's presents. You see, I don't recall ever believing in Santa Claus. Later, for my youngest sister's sake, I went along with the Santa story, but for myself, I have no memory of ever believing in a jolly old fat man sliding down the chimney & therefore no shattering memory of finding out I'd been lied to.
For some reason, my brother & I were convinced that my parents waited until midnight to set out our Christmas presents. We never conceived that they would just wait until we were all asleep. No, to us, midnight was the magic hour. There was somewhat of a competition between us to see who could wake up shortly after midnight in order to be the first one out to inspect the goods. Whoever woke up earliest would sneak out & very quietly open a few presents. Extreme patience & stealth was necessary to peel back the wrappings without making too much noise. If you were the first one out, you could usually get a few open before anyone else woke up. Once all of us kids were out opening presents, the noise level rose appreciably, which brought the parents out. My mom would then order us BACK TO BED to wait until daylight to open the rest. Oh, we were greedy little ones, and we counted on the parents being too tired to make much of a fuss over our uncontrollable desire to quick-start Christmas Day.
I recall finding The China Doll near the Christmas Tree. She wasn't wrapped, but set up against the sandstone hearth & tagged with my name. I knew she was mine by the way she was looking at me. She was so big, she was really more like a friend than a little baby doll. She was the type of big doll a young girl could tell all her secrets to. She also guarded my bedroom at night, to make sure that no monsters could just waltz in & wreak havoc while I slept. She failed a few times, but I never held it against her.
For dolls to play with, my sister and I had the usual assortment of Chatty Cathy's and Betsy Wetsy's. For some reason, the idea of changing a wet doll diaper was highly desireable! We played the usual kinds of games with them ... like pretending the dolls were our babies, or teaching them school lessons, or setting up full place settings with tea & cookies to "feed" them & teach them table manners. We basically treated them like smaller versions of ourselves. I don't recall naming my dolls, but my sister named one of hers, "Sha-rue-ah", perhaps anticipating the whole Xena warrior phenomenon.
Now, don't tell me boys don't play with dolls. My brother played with our dolls! However, I must admit, his idea of doll "games" usually involved imagining new ways to "execute" them. Every one of our dolls was "beheaded" many times, usually preceded by an elaborate mock trial during which the doll was found guilty of some crime against humanity. They were accused of breaking various commandments, like hiding roller skate keys, or knocking over the dog's water bowl, or failing to replenish the toilet paper, sometimes they were spies-who-told-lies. The list was endless. Fortunately, the dolls' heads were removeable, so it was a simple matter to stage an "off with their heads" moment, complete with catsup on the headless neck. For my brother, I think these games with our dolls were an extension of his army men mock battles. We girls found it hilarious & used to giggle ourselves silly defending our dolls. Alas, none were spared, all received the executioner's sword. Our parents probably hoped we'd become lawyers or judges, hah!
So, what happened to The China Doll? She disappeared one year during a move! Whether my mom had decided that I wasn't really playing with her much anymore & therefore it was time to donate her to The Rez (a story for another day), or whether she was truly lost in the move, I don't know. I do know she had seen me through some frightening childhood nightmares by exerting a calming influence in my bedroom. But I quickly rebounded from her loss when I received a Barbie Doll for Christmas that same year. An original brunette 1960 in a zebra suit, just like this photo! Barbie was definitely an eye-opener, an all-american girl's dream. Hot-Cha-Cha! Never mind that no one except some freakazoid starving model can live up to that dream, Barbie made me wish fervently for a magic visit from The Boob Fairy. And Barbie was a doll that my brother NEVER messed with ... out of respect or intimidation, I'm not sure.
I hope you didn't mind this little foray into christmas past. I realize Christmas isn't all about gifts, there's the religious aspect, as well as traditional celebrations with friends & family, even winter solstice recognizing that the days will now begin slowly turning slightly longer.
I'd like to show you the band of dangerous doll-beheaders in their prime, but those pictures are not digital. Here, however, is the gang in their current existence, this week, my dad & me sitting, surrounded by my sisters & brother. On Christmas morning, I'm sure my mom's soul will still be ordering us BACK TO BED until daylight. MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Oh no! I returned from the family pre-xmas trek late last night, feeling pretty sick. Probably something I picked up a few days ago, now manifesting as the flu from hell. All I know is by 2AM, I was thinking it would be so nice to just consign myself to a coffin somewhere. That was the fever speaking. Fever and stomach cramps. By 4 AM, when the fever broke & the tremors began (the kind where your whole body feels like a high tension live wire), I was a bit delirious. Becoming obsessive over the idea of a cool sip of water, I managed to part my clenched chattering teeth just enough for a couple swallows. A barfing bad idea! Now I know what a rabid dog must feel like. Finally fell asleep after 6 AM & woke up feeling like I've gone 10-rounds in a bantam weight boxing match. Bedrest and liquids (what I can keep down), and oh how I wish I could take an aspirin for this throbbing headache. But I don't want to tempt fate & have settled for a cool cloth laid across my brow. No one is allowed in my vicinity without a germ mask, I am TOXIC, I tell 'ya.
That's why finding this email from Rep. Wexler in my inbox today (copied below) was so important to me. It might be just the Rx I need. Wexler's call for impeachment hearings for Vice-President Cheney and the signatures he has received for his petition are an inspiration for all of us to keep pursuing justice and accountability. The media blacklisting of his efforts has not deterred him one whit. And tonight, Thursday Dec 20th, he will be live on Blog Talk Radio at 9PM (EST), 6PM (PST). If you haven't already signed his petition, click here to do so. I will be listening to him online tonight, coughing & sweating on the computer, knowing that while *I* will recover soon from this nasty flu bug, America may not find it so easy to recover from this administration's crimes and cover-ups. My thoughts about the program will be in the comments, if you're interested.
From: Robert Wexler; Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007; Subject: Reminder Rep. Wexler on Blog Radio Tonight 9PM (EST), 6PM (PST).
Tonight I will appear live on Blog Radio to discuss the tremendous momentum generated by your support for Cheney Impeachment Hearings. I will articulate our next moves and how we can translate this enthusiasm into concrete steps toward impeachment hearings.
Hope you can join me.
Congressman Wexler Live on Blog Radio:
WHEN: Thursday, December 20, 9:00 pm (EST)/6:00 pm (PST)
WHERE: Blog Talk Radio
if you have trouble with that link, you can click "Hear Wexler Live" at www.wexlerwantshearings.com
WHO: Rep. Wexler will appear live on Florida Progressive Radio with host Kenneth Quinnell of the Florida Netroots Caucus, Bob Fertick of Democrats.com, as well as Dave Lindorf, author of "The Case for Impeachment," and David Swanson with AfterDowningStreet.org.
With warm regards, Congressman Robert Wexler, PO Box 810669, Boca Raton, FL 33481
One final thought from the sicko (me). Dissent takes many forms. Props to the french translators who got this label through:
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Until then, there are still the 400 days to get through ... which reminds me of an old Francois Truffaut film. While the title literally translates to "400 Blows", the interpreted meaning is "Raise Hell". I'm sure Molly Ivins would agree that this is exactly what we need to do for each and every day of the 400 days remaining until January 20, 2009.
Here are a few interesting facts about the number 400: 400 is the square of 20 (note: the Mayans used a Base 20 system, the significance of which I will explore below). A circle is divided into 400 grads. 400 is a self number in Base 10 (the base system we use), since there is no integer that when added to the sum of its own digits results in 400. On the other hand, 400 is divisible by the sum of its own Base 10 digits, making it a "Harshad" number. That last fact brings up a fascinating relationship between numbers and our lives. The name "Harshad" is sanskrit for "Great Joy" -- as you can tell, I am taking great joy in contemplating what will occur 400 days from now!
Warning: for the balance of this post, I will become a "Woman of the Oak" otherwise known as a Celtic Soothsayer & issue stream-of-conscious revelations ... The ancient Hebrew alphabet had 22 letters; the FINAL letter was assigned a numerical value of 400. In Hebrew, that letter is called "Tav". In Ethiopic, it is "Tau". The final letter in ancient Greek is "Upsilon", which to us is the letter "U". Since that was their final letter, to represent what we would call "W", they would've used "U" twice. Is it a coincidence that the initial by which Bush is known is the official LAST letter of ancient alphabets, and that it was assigned a numerical value of 400, which is the number of days remaining until his LAST official day in office? As one of my sisters would say, Coincidence or Crap? Women who resembled the Celtic Soothsayer have been tortured to death for being "wise women". Their reputations were fueled by their phenomenal memories which reached back ... 400 years!
OK, now let's check the americas ... Meso-America! Mayans either invented the concept of zero or inherited it from the Olmecs (who disappeared circa 4th century B.C.). They perfected it in their calendars during 4th century A.D. (europeans eventually received knowledge of zero from the arab culture after 800 A.D. -- and yes, note all these appearances of 400 or multiples of 400). Zero was represented by the Cosmic Egg. Mayans believed that adding zeroes to any number imbued it with transformative change, intensifying the nothingness of death and the totality of life within the same circle (or egg).
Let's analyze what will happen 400 days from now as the Mayans would. As a new president is sworn in, we will embark on a new Life Path. The new path suggests "genius for planning, fixing, building & making things work". It also suggests "trustworthiness & practicality". Those are the positive aspects for the new Life Path which I fervently hope will materialize. Conversely, the Life Path just ending is characterized by "sheer stubborness & dogged beliefs". In addition, the intensification factor of TWO zeroes following the number 4 suggests that the Life Path just ending was "excessively obsessive and dogmatic, narrow-minded and repressive." Dum-de-dum-dum, sound familiar? Coincidence or Crap?
This is an image of the Cosmic Zipper, made up of a cosmic egg (or zero) with a rip in the fabric of time. I bring up this concept because the Mayans have a prophesy about cosmic cycles. Their long calendar predicts the current cycle ends in the year 2012 (Dec 21, 2012 to be exact), which also happens to be a presidential election year for us. They go on to predict the 4 sun years leading up to 2012 (that is to say, the years from 2008 - 2012) will be a time of accelerated change, both in the physical Earth and within human consciousness. Sounds like we have a lot in store for us during those 4 years (there's that number 4 again), all the more important to make sure our leadership and we personally are up to the task!
Coincidentally, the next Solar Max for sunspot activity will be in 2012 & it will be the strongest in historical records. Click here for a graphic correlation of Sunspots and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. Heights of civilization are associated with strong sunspot activity. Personally, I don't like the idea of reaching a height in 2012, because that would mean the crash is that much closer. And besides, one civilization's height is another's cultural trough.
I hope none of this numerical speculation scared you away. I find it all endlessly fascinating & wish everyone had as much fun with it as I did putting it together. Sources are cited in the coments. Too bad we don't have a Mayan candidate running for 2008. Maybe in 2012?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Please understand, I definitely do NOT approve of steroid use. But after seeing MSM sports steroid-humping news all day, I'm just wondering which is worse: BARRY BONDS or BLACKWATER juicers? Which has the potential to do more harm in the world? Why is the sports steroid story covered to death, when Blackwater steroid use increases likely deaths in Iraq and elsewhere? Many large corporations require their employees to provide random urine & blood samples; what about Blackwater? Who handles heavy artillery in a stressful situation: baseball players, corporate accountants, or Blackwater employees?
Blackwater's private army-for-hire (oops, "security force") is accused of failing to control steroid use [<--- nice, quick read] among its mercenary goons (oops, "contractor guards") which helps foster the culture of lawlessness (oops, "legal immunity") known as Order Number 17 [<---excerpt from The Nation].
Beyond the physical changes associated with steroid use, some of the troubling mental side effects are: increased aggression & anger ("roid rage"), hypomania (inflated self-esteem, psychomotor agitation, uncontrollable impulsivity), hostility, arrogance, paranoid personality disorders, and impaired judgment.
Any doubts? Watch this youtube Blackwater Psycho Killers (5.25 minutes) and tell me these guys aren't juicing ...
Or watch Jeremy Scahill who wrote the book on this Shadow Army.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Click to read the full CNN poll. Warning: reading polls can cause brain damage/death. I will save you the trouble by summarizing:
REPUB ...... vs ...... DEM
Guiliani = 45% vs Clinton 51%
Guiliani = 45% vs Obama 52%
Guiliani = 44% vs Edwards 53%
Romney = 43% vs Clinton 54%
Romney = 41% vs Obama 54%
Romney = 37% vs Edwards 59%
Huckabee = 44% vs Clinton 54%
Huckabee = 40% vs Obama 55%
Huckabee = 35% vs Edwards 60%
McCain = 50% vs Clinton 48%
McCain = 48% vs Obama 48%
McCain = 44% vs Edwards 52%
Now, I'm no statistical whiz, but there are a few things about these numbers that fairly JUMP off the page. All 3 dems beat Guiliani by about the same margin. All 3 beat Romney, but it is Edwards who destroys him (by 22-points). Same with Huckabee (Edwards whups his evangelical ass with an amazing 25-point spread there). McCain beats Hillary, ties with Obama, and loses to Edwards (by 8-points). Edwards does the best head-to-head against Republicans!
Does anyone recall The Third Man Political Theory? Edwards is losing ground in the democratic party right now, while Hillary & Obama vie for top place. He is "the third man". But in a national poll of registered voters of all parties, Edwards beats the opposition by greater margins than Hillary or Obama. The Third Man theory involves a scenario where the top 2 contenders are closely tied, but neither side can stomach throwing their support to the other. This stalemate enables the third man, as everyone's second choice, to win the day (although my preferred scenario would be for Edwards and Obama to join forces).
The margin of victory becomes extremely important in the General Election, because thanks to our new improved electronic voting system, in a close election, the ability to manipulate results almost guarantees a republican victory, regardless of the actual vote results. I'm sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but the democrats will need the strongest candidate to overcome electronic prejudice.
OK, I grant you the full impact of Oprah's endorsement of Obama has yet to be felt. He may emerge way out in front in the next few days. Now, I would truly be happy with Obama as my candidate. He's an inspiring man with a fine legal mind, and it would make me proud to see him in the White House. But there remain some issues on which I lean strongly to Edwards. How we achieve universal health care is one. Here is Edwards' current health care policy statement. Too long? Cut to the chase, which for me is the final paragraph:
"New Competition for Private Insurers: The Edwards plan creates new choices for American families. The new Health Care Markets will be available to everyone who does not get comparable insurance from their jobs or a public program and to employers who choose to join rather than offer their own insurance plans. Families and individuals will choose the plan that works best for them. The markets will include a new public plan similar to Medicare. If enough people choose the public plan, then the US will evolve towards a single-payer plan. As a result, private insurers will face new rules and competitive pressures to hold down their costs and deliver better coverage. "
Only Edwards and Kucinich have addressed the Single-Payer issue to my satisfaction. Another important issue difference for me is nuclear power development which I reviewed in a previous post about Yucca Mtn.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
There are large binder displays to assist finding specific names on the wall (over 58,000 names) allowing searches under various criteria. We quickly located one name, the young marine who'd inspired E.K., by example, to join the Marine Corps College Officer Training Program in 1966. He died in Quang Tri 1968 at age 22 (before E.K. had even finished boot camp).
The second fallen marine proved a bit more difficult to locate ... so difficult, there was a discombobulating moment when E.K. wondered if maybe he had been mistaken all these years, if maybe his friend did not die afterall?!? For that brief moment, the emotions did run very high. However, we joined the lines at the computer where a quick search revealed his name was safely on The Wall. This marine volunteered to stay behind when the marines were deploying out of Vietnam in 1971. He was killed in country a year later when an enemy rocket mortar hit his tent. E.K. was in the last marine artillery battalion to leave Vietnam. It would be a few more years before we met & married.
We also spent time looking at the various displays. The Wall was very controversial when it was first built. Many people called the design a nihilistic black wailing wall, or a dark pit of despair. However, from its opening ceremony to today, it has become a powerful memorial as people quickly appreciated the opportunity to honor the soldiers' sacrifices, their service and courage, and draw from the experience lessons for today's life and life in the future. Was Viet Nam the precursor to today's oil wars? If so, as more people here stop supporting those wars, will they end the same sad way, with so many pointless deaths? Or are we at a point in our military prowess, with oil profiteers at the civilian helm, where the ending will be much MUCH worse? These are just a few of the real questions for our country to be thinking about, instead of whether Mitt Romney is a christian or Barry Bonds takes steroids.
So, were we *personally* healed, did we find some peace, in our visit to The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall? I think the answer is partially yes, demonstrated by our conversation as we departed in advance of a big rainstorm:
E.K. : "What was the war for?" ... D.K. : "Nothing."
As E.K. nodded his head in agreement, I realized this is not how that conversation would have happened in years past. There would've been passionate analysis and much discussion of motives & details. However, just seeing all those names there, starkly etched on the long black wall, had said it all. The names of the fallen, those who died, now live only in our memories. So, the conversation ends, trails off .... the war was for NOTHING! Sadly, I foresee another generation repeating this same conversation in a few years.
People leave many things on the wall. Here are a couple (click up):
As This Old Brit reminds us, today, Saturday, December 8th, is the anniversary of John Lennon's murder in New York. For me, as the war in Vietnam drug on, he verbalized the rational anger we were feeling back home here in the states as our friends and loved ones were serving in SE Asia. I'd like to leave you with Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" which remains the message I felt then and still feel today (plus! check out footage of Callaghan Hall @ UC Berkeley) 5-minutes:
ps, our visit to the wall replica was very timely considering that Friday, December 7th, was Pearl Harbor Day, the event that propelled my father and his brothers into the Pacific Theatre of World War II. The Wall reminded me that soldiers serve where we send them. It's up to us to ensure they are always and only sent wisely. The alternative is what we saw in Viet Nam and are seeing today.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Now, this shell-shocked feeling reminds me that Naomi Klein's new book, "The Shock Doctrine", might make a nice holiday present. Her ideas are quoted on many blogs I read, like Proud Progressive and Dada's Dally and Tomcat's Politics Plus. You can read more about "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" on Naomi Klein's website, where you'll also find links to many of her recent articles.
Doesn't it feel like we've been in Shock'n'Awe since 2000? We're acting like a nation of shell-shocked soldiers who've been exposed to horrendous unspeakable acts. Regularly, we are subjected to new crises that seem deliberately planned and exploited. Our responses range from acute panic attacks to who-cares-anymore mental & physical paralysis. Those are typical symptoms of shell-shock. Other symptoms are depression & nightmares. Sound familiar? I hope Naomi Klein is correct in her assertion that we can work our way out of this mental morass once we recognize WHAT has happened and WHY it has happened. I look forward to reading her book.
Meanwhile, here's a little promotional video (6.75 minutes):
ps, a traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall replica is coming nearby soon. We've never seen one before and are not sure what to expect. Husband is ex-marine viet vet. I've heard it can be very powerful ...
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Enjoy the great Patrick Edlinger in the Gorges du Verdon:
Yes, the latter part of this video is without ropes or shoes or gloves!
Patrick Edlinger, a native of Dax, a spa town in Southwest France, is one of the living legends of free climbing, solo, bare-handed & bare-footed, the dizzying cliffs of Verdon. He has distinguished himself in high-level cliff climbing and in competition. He continues to practice and live his passion.
Need inspiration for your weekend workout? Watch Patrick Edlinger "training" (3-minutes). Must be something in the water there in Dax, France!
Now, equal time for women! Here is Catherine Destivelle, another french climbing legend, solo climbing not too far from where I currently reside (and she's not even breathing hard at the end):