Kaci Hickox, Ebola and Politics

Kaci Hickox riding her bike

Kaci Hickox riding her bike in Maine. Photo from BBC: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/78644000/jpg/_78644964_78644963.jpg

Kaci Hickox went to West Africa as a volunteer, nursing Ebola patients. With a 70% mortality rate in those medically underserved areas, most were dying. Death from Ebola is a painful process with awful symptoms that I won’t go into here. Unlike in Africa, the survival rate in America seems to greatly exceed the  mortality rate in Africa–with only one death among nine patients treated here.  For her compassionate efforts in Africa, Kaci came back home to treatment as a latter day leper. Confined first to a tent for three days on the order of New Jersey’s Governor Christie, she went home to Maine where that state’s governor sought to enforce a 21-day quarantine to her house. This despite the absence of any observable or detectable symptoms of the dread disease—simply because she was in the presence of and treated others who did have Ebola. Quarantine is supposed to prevent the spread of communicable disease. But when it does not appear that a person has a disease to spread, it amounts instead to a house arrest for which no crime has been committed. For being a good Samaritan she is to be punished rather than honored. In politics, science is often ignored, in favor of the admonition “don’t try to confuse me with the facts; I already have my mind made up.”

None of the politicians clamoring for quarantines and travel bans are old enough to have memories of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But surely most, if not all, have seen or heard Roosevelt’s famous quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The pols, of course, do not fear Ebola nearly as much as they fear the result of the next election should they fail to heed hysteria among the populace to do something—anything and everything, actually. The fact that a substantial majority of the public may be convinced that the sky is in imminent danger of collapsing is more than enough to move a politician to action. Statesmen are in short supply in governor’s offices across America. Ebola is giving populism a bad name. Fortunately, a judge in Maine has not seen fit to go the full ten yards with Governor LePage in quarantining Kaci Hickox. Thankfully, the legal system requires facts, not fear, to restrict someone’s liberty. In case  you didn’t notice, the news media clustering around Hickox on her bike ride apparently do not share the pols’ fear of catching Ebola from her.

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It’s All Obama’s Fault

It rained today. Weather forecast from National Weather Service said sunny. So who supervises those people at NWS? Obama appointees. It’s his fault my picnic was ruined.

The stock market went down today. I lost money. See, Obama keeps bashing Wall Street, the economy is not as good as if Mitt were President. It’s Obama’s fault I lost money.

My dog is sick. Traffic is too heavy and slow on my commute to work. My wife/husband is angry at me all the time. It’s Obama’s fault–all of it! He is the President–he is responsible for everything wrong with America and with my life! He can’t do anything right! Just wait until Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans take over the Congress and the White House–then you’ll see! No more whining then–just cheese.

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Who Do You Write For?

An answer by Hemingway quoted by  Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress, among other things) is this:

I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.

— Ernest Hemingway to Arthur Mizener, 1950 Selected Letters, p. 694.

I, too, do write for myself and her but as much or more for the rest of the world–who I want to share my thoughts, my life, my experiences and my philosophy with.

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The Cat Who Danced–Using Technology as a Writer

 

Hula dancing cat shared on Google + by Els jacob

GIF from Els Jacob, shared publicly on Google + at https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-nZ9CCiHwtGg/VBP3tMyqIyI/AAAAAAAA1EY/OG-mR-J1wLo/w346-h282-no/download_20140913_081016.gif

Technology offers new adventures for the writer—venues for commentary and simple observations. On Google + a GIF of a cat, forepaws atop a low patio wall, watches grass skirt clad dancers perform a hula. The cat, wearing a lei around its neck, keeps time with the dancers, butt swaying to and fro. With CGI and various apps, the short video is undoubtedly  skillfully enhanced. In any case, it suggests a story title—“The Cat Who Danced.” Tell your story  via YouTube or create a video trailer for your magnum opus. Use Vine, Instagram, Pinterest or any of many other apps. Or even tweet about it. For myself, I must confess being on my way to curmudgeonhood. Much as I am willing to embrace technology, Twitter is a bridge too far; a waste sending or receiving. On the receiving end a useless distraction of ill-thought out observations which are often TMI on personal topics or wind up requiring retraction amidst the consequences of the tweet or when the sender comes to his or her senses. On the sending end, too tempting to send out rants of my own, unthinking, only to regret them later. A many decades old saying from the last century, “better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubt,” could be updated to the 21st by substituting “tweet” for “speak.”

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Book Review–The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

Something new that will be repeated–the occasional book review. This review originally appeared on my Goodreads page.

The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

I loved it. It’s a great narrative, with entertaining and interesting conversations with people all along the route from Key West to Deadhorse. The political observations were spot on. The running commentary on Fred (the Tundra) and Ethel (the Airstream) were funny, especially for someone like myself who has had the experience of once being a newbie at traveling with an RV–not exactly the same as a trailer but most of the same issues with refrigerators, hookups, etc. We also have had the experience of traveling with dogs and the challenges that poses, when going to new and out of the way places. Having lived in big cities for years and now living in a small town in the Southwest, the friendliness and openness of the latter is something Caputo captured. Probably most of all, I liked the style, the feel of this book. This is what Caputo does best; it his journalistic background. The mystifying thing is the ostensible “expert” Vine reviewers on Amazon–one calling it a biography (?!) and another saying Caputo has ventured into the “travel genre.” I would suppose, but maybe I am ignorant of current genre parlance, that “travel” would mean a guide to locales to visit. That’s NOT what this book is. Nor is it anyone’s biography. What it is, is a very intriguing look at the question Caputo tried to pose to everyone–what holds America together (if anything) across the very disparate cultural enclaves from the furthest south to the furthest north.

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Replicators, the Need to Earn a Living and Wall Street

"BuckminsterFuller1" by en:User:Edgy01 (Dan Lindsay) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg
“BuckminsterFuller1″ by en:User:Edgy01 (Dan Lindsay) – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg#mediaviewer/File:BuckminsterFuller1.jpg

Buckminster Fuller thought, some time ago now, that we should do away with the notion that everyone must earn a living. It’s a good thing my son never read this; it would only confirm his own views on the matter. An inveterate Star Trek devotee, he believed for some time (perhaps he still has a lingering hope) that the time would come when all would be provided by replicators. No need to work to get your food, your clothes or any other items to satisfy needs or wants—just make your selection on the replicator and out pops your stuff. Let’s not even go there in discussing the conservation of matter and energy; just consider the missing logical steps like: Who builds the replicators? Who fixes them? Who supplies the energy (and matter) required to power them? Hah, just little details. Fuller meant, of course, that people should be free to pursue creative endeavors rather than having to punch clock at a job. That the efficiencies of technology should aid in the process of transitioning from a mercantile/manufacturing economy to something more free. In truth, today there are a great many people who do not “work” in the traditional sense of producing goods or services that add value to society—they work on Wall Street as investment bankers, hedge fund managers, arbitrageurs, etc.

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Irony Abounds as Female UAE Pilot Leads Attack on ISIS

Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the United Arab Emirates’ first female fighter pilot, prepared for takeoff on a flight last year. Credit Emirates News Agency, WAM, via Associated Press

In ISIS controlled territory within Syria, women are required to be covered from head to toe. Among the five Arab countries participating in strikes on ISIS positions within Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent squadron leader Major Mariam Al Mansouri on the bombing run. Learning of this must set the hair aflame on the heads of the ISIS wackos.  Western news media, in the meantime is happy to supply the story. See more on this from the New York Times.

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Hope and Self-Reliance

Hope is a town in Arkansas, birthplace of Bill, that American president of a few terms ago. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” the Clinton theme song, expressed how he turned his birthplace into a virtual motto—a cris de couer for all that needed doing, that needed fixing. Bill had hope. He passed it on. Many people had it when Barack Obama took office. Not so many among the GOP, of course. Fewer now than in 2008, even among some fellow Democrats. But that is the way of politics and of people. Many prefer to look to others for hope and inspiration. To look to others for the solution to all that ails them, spiritually, economically and otherwise. A foolish thing to do, that, expecting others to be one’s salvation. More often than not, such misplaced reliance leads to disappointment. Better to find hope within. Better to have faith that through one’s own thoughts and one’s own efforts whatever obstacles one may encounter can be overcome and one’s goals accomplished. Scary though it may be, having such self-reliance, it is and always will be not simply the best way but the only way likely to succeed.

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Foiling Foragers of the Office Refrigerator

Like many workplaces, my office had a refrigerator in which the cubicle farm dwellers stored the lunches,  snacks or drinks they brought from home. Most labeled their containers, of course, but that never kept the poacher’s paws from what he or she found palatable—and free. One could never manage to connect the thief to their booty, let alone catch them in the act. They knew better than to leave telltale evidence in their own cubicle. I’m not proud of my response, but it proved effective in foiling the thefts. As parents of young children at the time, we always kept a small bottle of ipecac in the medicine cabinet—in case one of them swallowed something they shouldn’t. I withdrew a quantity of the syrup and injected it through the navel of an orange. Sure enough, the orange disappeared from the office refrigerator. Soon after the poaching stopped.

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13 Years Since 9/11–What it Means to Me

In 2008 and again in 2011, I posted commentaries on 9/11. It is time to do so again, adding a different perspective. At the outset, I offer my profound sympathies to those who lost friends and loved ones to the actions of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist followers. Today it is ISIS or ISIL who would target America as well as people of Iraq and Syria. While death comes to us all, it is  disturbing when it comes unnaturally at the hands of another. From my Buddhist perspective, this is a function of karma–the effects one receives as a result of causes one has made. Calvinists might have a different perspective–predestination or what others call fate. It seems preferable to the minds of most, I suspect, to absolve the victims of any blame and place it squarely on the terrorists who commandeered the planes and flew them into their targets. Blame is undeniably correctly put on the terrorists but that is missing the point–they are the instrumentality of one’s karma. There are those people who rush to get onto a plane that turns out to have a mechanical problem that causes it to crash, killing all aboard. At the same time, others are delayed by traffic and miss the plane. Different than a terrorist plot? Yes, in terms of how it happens but not in result.  Continue reading

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