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Bob Herbert has a sobering Op-Ed in the NYT this morning, The Ultimate Burden. He describes a book of color photos by photographer Peter van Agtmael of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how most Americans have conveniently put these two absurd, obscene conflicts out of their minds.

So, who the Hell in America does fight these wars? Answer: less than 1% of our population of 300 million, and where does that 1% predominantly come from? Certainly not from children of the upper classes, from children of the economically advantaged.

So, where’s the draft? Funny we can’t pass one, isn’t it? I wonder why that is?

Here’s the most popular comment to Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed. It says it all:

I wish we could pass a new Constitutional amendment that said that a Congressional vote authorizing a war or any other overseas military action would immediately trigger a draft of males and females between 18 and 25 and that the first young people drafted would be any 18- to 25-year-old children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews of members of the House and Senate, the Cabinet secretaries, and the president and his/her staff.

Would Bush have been so quick to authorize an invasion of Iraq if he had known that doing so would subject Jenna and Barbara to the draft? Would Hillary Clinton have voted for the Iraq War Resolution if it had meant that Chelsea would be headed for boot camp?

If the rich and powerful are not willing to send their own children into combat, then the war is bogus. Note that most members of Congress had a child or grandchild in the armed forces during World War II.

Thank you, pdxtran from Minneapolis, for that insightful comment.

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Concerned as we were about our flight north yesterday — those 90% snowflakes in the weather icon for Denmark, Maine, were worrisome to us — we arrived without a hitch about 2:30pm in Portland and found the weather not so bad after all. The sudden shock of cold air was even a bit invigorating. But it was lovely warm down there in Ranchos Davies, about twenty miles from Fort Lauderdale, in upscale horse country. We even stayed on Thoroughbred Lane. Laurie and Roberto “Faibi” Tuchman have a large home, guest house where we stayed, and a large barn plus paddocks for the six horses (two belong to them) they currently board. I snapped a lot of horse pictures plus a number of others, 78 in all (see MY FLICKR in my right sidebar). We visited a couple museums, the Viscaya in Miami and the Flamingo Park nearby. I loved those bright orange flamingos standing, perhaps asleep, on one leg.

I managed to get some reading in: over half of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Then I completely re-read The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self by Susan Greenfield because Faibi Tuchman is a noted neurologist and I figured I might have a chance to ask him some questions about the brain. Sure enough, I did, and he gave me two books to read: On Deep History and the Brain by D. L. Smail, and In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric Kandel. I’ve started reading the latter, a fascinating part memoir, part history of brain science, and I’m up to chapter 9 out of the 30 chapters in the book. As a would-be philosopher of mind 😆 the least I can do is try to understand what scientists know about the brain before I philosophize about it? 🙄 😆

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After Snow

Looking out toward the road. See sand barrel covered with snow.

From our driveway looking west. See top of water well.

Looking northeast. See mountains. Deer camera was on edge of garage.

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Well, not really headlights, just the red glow from my Cuddeback NOFlash infrared camera tirggered by the heat and motion of the deer. It’s the red glow that’s got the deer transfixed. The camera is screwed into the side of our garage and the deer’s about eight feet away. The time is off by two and one-half hours. Should be closer to 9:30pm, not 6:58pm. I’ve fixed that now. We’ll see what happens tonight.

UPDATE 12/12/2007: Here’s that doe again. Same one? This time apparently more at ease with the camera. Her nose looks cold….

Putin’s Buddies

Take a look at this photo of the Presidents’ row. Who would like to take on these guys? Not many smiles there? (Except maybe the tall guy on the left is suppressing one.)

Here are the names, right to left: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkmenistan’s President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Would the Turkmenistan’s leader mind being called Kurby Berdy for short? Rhymes with Herdy Gerdy. Noo, I doubt it. Would it be funny if it weren’t so serious?

Bear Trap

No, it’s not about Bulls trapping Bears like in the financial markets, it’s about an old Native American trap to capture real bears! Or maybe it was an early settlers’ trap rather than Native American. Hard to know at this point. Anyway it’s a structure made out of stone slabs with an opening for a bear to enter and begin hibernation. Here’s a picture of it I took yesterday afternoon:

Note the stone slab in the lower left with the two holes in it. When the bear is sound asleep, a group of people can lift this heavy stone slab, using the two holes I would imagine, and place it across the opening of the structure, thus trapping the bear. Of course, if the bear is strong enough he could push that heavy slab away and escape. But they probably can back the slab up with more slabs and make it impossible. Not nice for the bear, eh?

It was such a beautiful day here yesterday, cool with a completely cloudless sky, that I couldn’t resist driving over to the wooded area where the bear trap is located. It’s about a twenty-five minute walk from the parking area up the hill through a path in the woods to the bear trap. Also, on the way there’s an old quarry that was last used over one hundred years ago. Here’s a picture of the remains of that:


A few posts back, in a post I called “Where I Am”, I mentioned that I was in Prince Edward Island with my wife and her sister. The trip was from August 17 to 26 and we stopped for overnights at St. Andrews by-the-Sea at both ends of the trip. On the well-worn assumption that one picture is worth a thousand words, let me direct your attention, whoever you may be reading this, to the Flickr pictures under MY FLICKR on the second sidebar here. I don’t have them all edited yet, but have edited a good lot of them. However, they start backwards in time: the last shall be first. Just click on the picture at the upper left under MY FLICKR and away you go. In fact, I’ll include the first peekture here, as a sort of teaser:

Let the lecture begin?

Today we finally got our rain after over two weeks of heat and dryness. We think maybe an inch came down before it let up in late afternoon. What a difference in the air, the ground, the grass, the trees, everything! I took a walk down the hill on the dirt road outside our house. Nary a horse fly attacked me. The air was cool and fresh and delicious. The view of the not-so-distant hill straight ahead of me was partially covered by fog and lifting clouds, but suggestive of a rain forest after rain. No, I didn’t take a picture of it but here’s one of a rain forest after rain on the far away island of Pulau Tioman off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, sort of but not quite like my view of Little Fitch Hill in Bridgton, Maine.