Monday, September 24, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

Ignorance is bliss. It really is true.

Wendy has a subscription to “Time” magazine and every Tuesday a new one comes in filled with enlightenment. I eagerly look forward to a new issue. I love the quotes, the statistics, the little vacation destination spot reviews, the politics and learning more about the world. Seriously, I think if you want to sound smart to anyone you meet, just read one “Time” magazine a week and you’ll be impressive.

This week's interesting story is how scientists/doctors are now using a small electrical current to calm Parkinson’s disease tremors, ease depression and awaken coma victims.

“We pinpoint the part that needs stimulus, and provide it.”

Seems simple enough to me. The brain runs on electric current, it stands to reason that maybe some of it isn’t getting enough. So, doctors open up the skull and stick a wire into places they think might need help and crank up the mild juice until they see results. Such as Scott Stipp who had the procedure done. On the operating table, his arm shakes violently enough to shake the table. Doctors insert an ultra thin wire into his subthalamic nucleus; give it some volts and the shaking stops. For the first time in years he can control his hand, even sign his name.

He’ll have to return once every couple years to get a new battery, but the operation should null his symptoms for ten years until the disease becomes too pronounced.

Fascinating right?

Too bad all the stories aren’t like that.

When I was little, I believed that humans were destined for great things among the stars. I didn’t just think we were a big thing here on Earth, I was sure that we were unique and amazing in a way that other life on other planets never could be. More intelligent, more determined, more heroic, more… everything. Just more. Special.

I lost that feeling as I got older and by the time I was thirty, I not only no longer held that belief, I wasn’t even sure I cared if the human race went extinct. The crimes, the abuse, man’s inhumanity to man, the selfishness.

All of that feeling was erased when Marilyn got cancer. The way people tried to help, showed there support, cared about me and us and were so understanding and wonderful brought back all that love and hope for humanity.

I guess its all perspective.

My love of “Time” has lessened in the last few weeks. While the stories are still informative, the world just has a lot of bad stuff happening in it right now. Every week is another story (or three) about how badly things are going in Iraq. How many people died. How selfish and childish the Iraqi parliament is. More American’s dead. More Democrats, somehow impotent to implement policy change. Impotent and unwilling to subpoena this administration which has caused so much damage to America and American soldiers. How big the deficit is. How low the America dollar is – which affects me greatly since I’m living off American dollars. Do you know how many Euros I get when I withdraw a thousand dollars out of my account? Less than seven hundred.

Ignorance is bliss. The knowledge I’m getting these days is largely negative. While Iraq is woefully depressing, Africa is a close second. When you think of Africa, I’m sure you think of Africa the way I do; of the barren lands, the dust, the heat, the starvation and the never ending poverty. Sadly, this doesn’t have to be the way, and could have been much different even today if I wasn’t for man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s desire to constantly be at war with his neighbors.

What many people don’t know is that Africa is rich in oil, diamonds, gold and natural gas. What they also don’t know is that usually, the money from these natural resources never goes to the populace of Africa for building infrastructure, providing jobs and lifting the country out of desolation, but rather to a select few corrupt African politicians who store billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts while children starve not even a mile away.

Here’s a startling statistic – Less than one percent of medical aid to Africa actually made it to hospitals.

Here’s another - 11% of financial aid to Africa was illegally channeled into the military. Because when your population is starving some politicians think it is better to make war on your neighbor than feed your citizens.

To top things off, primary’s are coming up and the guy in the lead in the polls for the Republicans (Giuliani) has one message for his base –

Fear.

9/11.

Only I can protect you.

This is the guy in the lead?

Has America learned nothing?

2 comments:

  1. You're disillusioned with the Democrats? Hell, I'm disillusioned with them 10x that. I marched against the war, I called and emailed my Congresswoman and Senators. I opened my wallet. What do I get? More war. I distinctly remember in the runup to the 2006 elections that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid promised they would end this war. That they would stop this runaway train and bring our troops home.

    They played me for a fool and it worked. I trusted them and all I got was a knife in the back. They don't really care. It's just a game to them. Musical chairs for the seat of power.

    I'm glad you get a lot out of Time Magazine. You should probably take advantage of some of the other magazines like Le Monde, The Economist and Der Spiegel. It'll give you a more complete perspective.

    Cheers!
    JoeG

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  2. No, no the American public doesn't seem to have learned much and I cannot even begin to express how fucking pissed I am about it. 2006 was supposed to be a watershed election, right? The American public was fed up with Iraq and changed several seats in the Senate so that the War could end, right? Enough that the Senate changed to Democratic control. So with this latest military funding bill, Russ Feingold proposed an amendment (cosponsored by 9 other Senators) that said very simply, we should begin withdrawing troops, we will give them the funds they need for operations during the withdrawl time period, we will continue to fund limited operations against al-Qaeda, fund security for American personnel and property, fund Iraqi security training and Military personel and equipment necessary to support those pursuits.

    It was voted down 70-28. WTF?!? There are only 49 God Damned Republicans in the Senate! At least they have the excuse, as boneheaded as it may be, of blind partisan loyalty. By my count, that leaves 23 little chicken shits.

    I mean, okay, the bill did set a deadline. 90 days from passage the first troops should be brought home and a plan extant for the withdrawl of the rest. After 6/30/2008, no more funding for expanded operations except as detailed. Now I understand, dates are intimidating, even with clear language allowing for exceptions, and maybe that scares a few of the pussiest Democrats into caving before Bush's "Fuck your constituents . . . you can't tell me & my generals how to fight a war" line. But nearly 1/2 of the Democrats? And are every one of the Republicans really brainless loyalista bots?

    At least my two Senators voted for the amendment (On Wisconsin!). But man, even though the public says it wants to end the war, I despair that enough people really pay attention to who is actually doing anything to end it. I hope I'm wrong. I hope there are millions of Americans taking note that the Senator they voted for is letting them down and I hope they're willing to vote some more out of office in 2008. I doubt it will happen, but I wish it would. Man, I wish it would.

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