Wednesday, September 27, 2006

fear is not really a phobia but…

A phobia (from the Greek φόβος "fear"), is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made. – Wikipedia

What I really fear is what power has done to America – the politicians, the business owners and the poeple. Why do we tolerate it? How do we sleep at night knowing that someone, somewhere is being tortured all in the name of democracy. I do not condone in the slightest the evil or the twisted reasoning that those who attack the United States and other like minded, freedom loving countries. Nut it is no wonder they hate us so much.

This is an exerpt from an editorial in the Washington Post.

Are We Really So Fearful?
Ariel Dorfman

He confessed to anything and everything they wanted to drag from his hoarse, howling throat; he invented accomplices and addresses and culprits; and then, when it became apparent that all this was imaginary, he was subjected to further ordeals.
There was no escape.

That is the hideous predicament of the torture victim. It was always the same story, what I discovered in the ensuing years, as I became an unwilling expert on all manner of torments and degradations, my life and my writing overflowing with grief from every continent. Each of those mutilated spines and fractured lives -- Chinese, Guatemalan, Egyptian, Indonesian, Iranian, Uzbek, need I go on? -- all of them, men and women alike, surrendered the same story of essential asymmetry, where one man has all the power in the world and the other has nothing but pain, where one man can decree death at the flick of a wrist and the other can only pray that the wrist will be flicked soon.

It is a story that our species has listened to with mounting revulsion, a horror that has led almost every nation to sign treaties over the past decades declaring these abominations as crimes against humanity, transgressions interdicted all across the earth. That is the wisdom, national and international, that has taken us thousands of years of tribulation and shame to achieve. That is the wisdom we are being asked to throw away when we formulate the question - Does torture work? - when we allow ourselves to ask whether we can afford to outlaw torture if we want to defeat terrorism.(...)

Can't the United States see that when we allow someone to be tortured by our agents, it is not only the victim and the perpetrator who are corrupted, not only the "intelligence" that is contaminated, but also everyone who looked away and said they did not know, everyone who consented tacitly to that outrage so they could sleep a little safer at night, all the citizens who did not march in the streets by the millions to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace its darkness?

Are we so morally sick, so deaf and dumb and blind, that we do not understand this? Are we so fearful, so in love with our own security and steeped in our own pain, that we are really willing to let people be tortured in the name of America? Have we so lost our bearings that we do not realize that each of us could be that hapless Argentine who sat under the Santiago sun, so possessed by the evil done to him that he could not stop shivering?... (more)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Back Yard

When you live in Riverside and renovate an old house, you never know what you might find - or find out. My house has yielded some pretty interesting things. Last week, a man showed up at my door and wanted to see the place. He grew up in the house in the sixties and seventies. It seems that Lynyrd Skynyrd actually jammed on my porch numerous times. He told me all about the missing plaster in our house and the history of some of the renovations that were made. He told me how the huge magnolia in our back yard was used to hoist engine blocks out of his friends' cars to work on them and how the gouges can to be in the bathroom door. We always thought that the owners we bought the house from were responsible as they hacked up the kitchen cabinets fairly well among other destructive things.

The stories from the past are certainly amazing. I can't imagine what we don't yet know, but it's the yard where the best treasures are found. Every time I work in my yard (and believe me, it needs work) the earth yields another secret. Recent finds include Batman and Power Ranger figures, a rubber lizard that has been keeping all the Cuban lizards company and a Ronco-matic type hair trimmer comb. Every time the earth is tckled, she yields another secret. The most amazing by far is the unidentified copper work of art my oldest dug up while weeding. If you know what it is, please drop me a line. I am going to start a new feature on the Rap blog for others who have found unusual treasures from the past.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rube Goldberg Lives

I generally HATE getting impersonal, forwarded e-mail. It's not that I don't appreciate something funny, emotional or moving. It's just that they are… impersonal. I guess to good part of it all iss that my friends are thinking about me. And that in itself is a wonderful thing. And even though I HATE it, it is like watching a car wreck, I find I just can't help myself. Maybe it's because I am hoping that I will actually find a personal note attached. More likely, it's because I just don't want to miss anything.

Here's one of those "moving" ones. It's not the spiritual kind of moving, it's something else. It's actually a Honda commercial. There are no computer graphics or digital tricks in the film. Everything you see really happened in real time exactly as you see it. The film took 606 takes. On the first 605 takes, something, usually very minor, didn't work. They would then have to set the whole thing up again.

The film cost $6 million to make and another small fortune to run because it is a two minute commercial, but it is one of the most watched ads on the net and is actually paying for itself. The voiceover is by Garrison Keillor, but I didn't hear it because I

And you thought those people that set up a room full of dominos to knock over were amazing...


It is said that change is the transition that occurs from same to different. While that may be the rule, sometimes it is the other way around. I am getting ready to go into a focus group this morning. While I do enjoy the dialog and ideas that focus groups can offer, most of the time the outcome of the focus group encourages the dumbest that a group can offer.

Our society is influenced and manipulated by marketing and advertising agencies. Pollsters and lobbyists control our political parties. And the almighty dollar has become the Almighty.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone is a victim of the dumbing down of the world. There are mavericks who do what they feel is right and have the courage to stick by their ideas. I applaud them and encourage you all to refuse to change to fit in.