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May 30, 2006


Bush III: Extending the Dynasty?

Bush III? Continue the dynasty? Those are the questions some Republicans are asking themselves as political talk emerges yet again about President George W. Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The chief driver of the buzz is the current occupant of the White House, who has said twice this month that his younger brother would make "a great president."

Republican party leaders continue to talk seriously about a continuation of the dynasty, a Bush III administration, with Jeb as a candidate in 2012 or 2016, when the memory of the current president's dismal poll ratings will be less of a factor. That, you will recall, is exactly what happened the last time around. The first President Bush's unpopularity at the end of his term in 1992 did not hurt his eldest son when he ran for president eight years later.

"Look, I think he'd be a great president," the current President Bush said in response to a question about Jeb in Chicago last week. Less than two weeks before, the president was more expansive in an interview with a group of Florida newspaper reporters. According to the St. Petersburg Times, President Bush said he had "pushed" his brother "fairly hard about what he intends to do" and that his political future "is very bright, if he chooses to have a political future."

However, the president added that "I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not." Jeb, who was always considered the most likely to succeed in politics, was the original family favorite to run for president. But in a turn of events that has become a political parable, or debacle, George surprised even his mother by upsetting Texas Governor Ann Richards in 1994. That same year, Jeb lost by two percentage points to Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. Jeb easily returned to beat Buddy McKay in 1998, but by then his brother was already in line for the White House.

May 29, 2006


Memorial Day Memories: Remorse

They are at rest
Earth may run red with other wars — they are at peace
In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflicts
They found the serenity of death.

In Loving Memory of:
My Grandfather (World War I)
My Father (World War II, The Vietnam War)


War: The Freud-Einstein Letters

Freud and Einstein: Why War?
The thoughts involved my last the few postings have somehow led my thinking to this question: Why War? This reminded me of the letters between Freud and Einstein investigating the nature of war, thus hoping (although not optimistically) that we might find the means to prevent.

The letters were published as a very limited edition monograph (2,000 copies), entitled Why War? Careful readers of the Freud letters contained within that monograph will especially note that Freud conceptualized his professional identity here as a psychologist, rather than as a psychoanalyst.

I find the conclusion of the correspondences to be extremely striking. Specifically, the conclusion of their investigation into the causes of war was that its root lay in psychosis, and that war is a clear example of collective psychosis:
Because man has within him a lust for hatred and destruction. In normal times this passion exists in a latent state, it emerges only in unusual circumstances; but it is a comparatively easy task to call it into play and raise it to the power of a collective psychosis. Here lies, perhaps, the crux of all the complex factors we are considering, an enigma that only the expert in the lore of human instincts can resolve.

And so we come to our last question. Is it possible to control man's mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?

May 28, 2006


The Internet: New Technology and American Politics

Politics and The Internet
Jonathan Alter has recently discussed the potentially powerful effects of the internet upon future presidential elections. In his Newsweek article, A New Open-Source Politics, Alter writes that:
Bob Schieffer of CBS News made a good point on The Charlie Rose Show last week. He said that successful presidents have all skillfully exploited the dominant medium of their times. The Founders were eloquent writers in the age of pamphleteering. Franklin D. Roosevelt restored hope in 1933 by mastering radio. And John F. Kennedy was the first president elected because of his understanding of television.

Will 2008 bring the first Internet president? Last time, Howard Dean and later John Kerry showed that the whole idea of "early money" is now obsolete in presidential politics. The Internet lets candidates who catch fire raise millions in small donations practically overnight. That’s why all the talk of Hillary Clinton’s "war chest" making her the front runner for 2008 is the most hackneyed punditry around. Money from wealthy donors remains the essential ingredient in most state and local campaigns, but "free media" shapes the outcome of presidential races, and the Internet is the freest media of all.

No one knows exactly where technology is taking politics, but we’re beginning to see some clues. For starters, the longtime stranglehold of media consultants may be over. In 2008, any presidential candidate with half a brain will let a thousand ad ideas bloom (or stream) online and televise only those that are popular downloads. Deferring to "the wisdom of crowds" will be cheaper and more effective.

Excerpt From:
Jonathan Alter
June 5, 2006


Blog It Forward!!


"Blog It Forward"

What’s this all about? Well, just choose one of your favorite blogs/websites (or two or three) and take a little time to post an article on your own site, describing some of the reasons that lead you to feel that they are especially noteworthy. Why do you like them? Why are they given that special place of prominence for you? Are they funny? Are they wise? Do they provide you with valuable resources? Are they just "too good looking" to pass by? Let all of your friends and readers know about them.

At the same time, you might send an email to the author(s) of the site(s), letting them know that you've shared their site with your readers, let others know about them. For example, in the case of the site that I'm recommending and describing below, you can send an email to Andrew Sullivan at:

It just just might "make their day” to see their name in the spotlight! Remember, by taking just a little time to do this, you can help to extend friendly feelings across the internet, and in these times there can never be too much love amongst bloggers here in cyberworld.

Please read and pass along to your friends my own Blog It Forward of the Day:

Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.
Emails to:

Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Daily Dish, enjoys an international readership. His writings are considered to reflect one of the more rational and moderate conservative voices to be found on the internet. In more recent times, many of his articles have served as a major alert about and source of strong opposition to corruption in and increasing abuse of power by the Bush administration. Sullivan's sophisticated internet writings have always strongly supported the prohibition of any form of political/social discrimination based upon gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. As an added bonus, readers will find links to a number of valuable reading resources on his site.

Sullivan's Background

Andrew Sullivan graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a First in Modern History and Modern Languages. In 1984, he won a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and earned a Masters degree in Public Administration in 1986. While at Harvard, he was best known for acting, appearing as Hamlet, Alan in Peter Shaffer's Equus, and Mozart in Shaffer's Amadeus.

Subsequently, Sullivan worked as an Associate Editor at The New Republic, editing and writing for both the political and literary sections of the magazine, while free-lancing for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph and Esquire magazine. In 1989, he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Government Department Prize for a dissertation in political science. In 1990, he returned to Washington, D.C., where he free-lanced for The Telegraph and started a monthly column for Esquire. He was soon back at The New Republic as Deputy Editor; in June 1991, at the age of 27, he was appointed Acting Editor. In October, he took over as editor, and presided over 250 issues of The New Republic, resigning in May 1996. During his tenure , The New Republic's circulation grew to well over 100,000 and its advertising revenues grew by 76 percent. The magazine also won three National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, Reporting, and Public Interest.

Sullivan's editorship at TNR was often turbulent, controversial and pioneering. Under his direction, the magazine expanded its focus beyond politics to cover such topics as the future of hip-hop, same-sex marriage, and affirmative action in the newsroom. The magazine campaigned for early intervention in Bosnia, for homosexual equality, and against affirmative action. TNR also published the first public discussion of The Bell Curve, the explosive 1995 book on IQ. In 1996, Sullivan was named Editor of the Year by Adweek magazine.

In the early 1990s, Sullivan became known for being openly gay, and for pioneering such issues as gays in the military and same-sex marriage. His 1993 TNR essay, The Politics of Homosexuality, was credited by The Nation magazine as the most influential article of the decade in gay rights. His 1995 book, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality, was published to positive reviews, became one of the best-selling books on gay rights, and was translated into five languages. He followed it with a reader, Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con, and testified before Congress on the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. His second book, Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival, was published in 1998 in the United States and Britain. It was a synthesis of three essays on the plague of AIDS, homosexuality and psycho-therapy, and the virtue of friendship. Sullivan tested positive for HIV in 1993, and remains in good health.

In the late 1990s, Sullivan worked as a contributing writer and columnist for The New York Times Magazine, a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review, and a weekly columnist for The Sunday Times of London. His New York Times cover-stories, When Plagues End, a description of the changing AIDS epidemic in 1996, and The Scolds, an analysis of the decline of American conservatism in 1998, became national talking points. His 1999 essay, What's So Bad About Hate, is included in the Best American Essays of 1999. His 2000 cover story on testosterone, Why Men Are Different, provoked a flurry of controversy, as well as a cover-story in Time, and a documentary on the Discovery channel. Since 2002, Sullivan has been a columnist for Time Magazine, and a regular guest on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher and NBC's Chris Matthews' Show.

In the summer of 2000, Sullivan became one of the first mainstream journalists to experiment with blogging, and soon developed a large online readership with's Daily Dish. In January 2006, Sullivan took his blog to's home-page where he now writes daily. He remains a Senior Editor at The New Republic.

May 27, 2006


Research at Chicago

The University of Chicago
Research at Chicago introduces all of you to the people and ideas that make the University of Chicago an unusually rich intellectual community and one of the premier centers of research and learning. Through interviews, lectures, news stories and multimedia presentations, Research at Chicago shares the knowledge of research findings and provides a greater understanding of the innovative work taking place across the disciplines on campus and around the world.

Research at Chicago is produced by the Office of the Vice-President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the University Provost’s Office, the University News Office and a variety of university research centers. The content included on the frequently updated website has been selected from recent publications, press releases, newspapers and websites produced by the University of Chicago. It covers important contributions in the areas of Humanities & Religion, Society & Law, Science & Medicine, and Business & Economics. Contributions are presented as online news articles and research papers, as well as in audio and video formats.

May 26, 2006


The NSA, Spying and Freedom: Public Concerns

The NSA, Spying and Freedom
The chart above indicates the estimated level of interest or concern, over time, in issues related to the the National Security Agency, Spying and Freedom of Speech.

The National Security Agency= Blue
Spying= Red
Freedoms= Orange

In this comparison, the interest in and concerns about recent activities of the federal National Security Agency was by far greater in all of the rated top cities in the United States.

The a closer and more detailed view of this data is available at Google Trends.


Samson's Capture: The End Draws Near

Samson: The End Draws Near
Breaking the First Holy Law

"Samson in Love"

Out of the eater came forth meat,
and out of the strong came forth sweetness
Judges 14:14

This is the first time he has killed a lion.
Inside the ribs a swarm of bees lies
nested there, and honey comes.
He reaches down inside the ribs
to where a sweetness runs,
and he thinks of the woman he has seen today.

The bare form of her face today
came in stronger than this lion.
Now he takes one rib, and a foam of bees runs
around his wrist—a smell so strong he lies
down. Still in his mind her eyes black open, small ribs
rounding her heart. She comes and comes.

When he tears back the head, what comes
brings him toward prayer today,
and every day, remembering the ribs
licked clean. The flower of flesh from lion,
and woman, too—what love lies
near the place where one stream runs?

The lion’s flesh half gone, marrow runs
to ash. He claps the old blood down and comes
into Cities of Spring. A whole dry world lies
beneath his wish to touch today
with his bare hands both woman and lion—
to take apart the ribs.

Smoke swells up into her ribs.
She loves the way he runs.
The breath of bees humming in the lion;
yet around his wrist the woman’s breath comes
down hard and makes him stir today
inside his bones. He lies
to her about his hair. He lies

about the swarm of bees and the ribs
his hand scooped honey from today.
When she touches him with her bare hands, he runs,
so she closes up her palm, and sweetness comes
into the oldest honeycomb—inside her chest of lion.

She waits, so still she lies, too raw for mending runs—
with raging bees inside her ribs, the honey comes.
He does not know, today, if he has killed or loved this lion.

Elizabeth Cox

May 25, 2006


NSA: Domestic Spying on American Citizens

There comes a point when all of the signs seem to converge and achieve an increasingly strong and widespread source of public agreement. In such cases, it becomes foolish to be too cautious, trying to write one's fears off as simply an unbased instance of personal paranoia or oversuspiciousness. To the contrary, widespread public consensus points to the near-certainty that one's fears are based upon good reality testing.

So it is with regard to the fears associated with a conviction that the federal government has been and is now engaged in secretive, extensive domestic spying upon us, its own citizens. It would be ill-advised and unwise not to be convinced that these have become dangerous times.


NSA Domestic Spying Documents Published

Domestic Spying

On May 25, 2006, Sci-Tech-Today reported that Wired News had published documents on May 22nd that reportedly provide evidence that AT&T installed secret equipment enabling the National Security Agency to spy on AT&T’s customers.

The 29-page online file published by Wired is said to be the complete statement given by former AT&T technician Mark Klein. Klein is a key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The statement warns about the AT&T’s alleged collaboration with the federal National Security Agency (NSA) and provides technical information to support the wiretapping claim, along with a description of a "secret equipment room" used for eavesdropping.

Evan Hansen of Wired News stated, "We did not obtain the documents from Mark Klein but from an anonymous source." At that time, it was not known whether Wired could face any legal action as a result of its decision to publish the documents.

Specialists in the intelligence area state that the documents that were released do show that a secret facility is being maintained by AT&T with participation from NSA. However, they have suggested that the released material doesn’t provide clear evidence of exactly what the NSA and AT&T are doing in this facility. This more cautious approach to interpreting the materials points out that over the years, there have been many inflated claims about the NSA's technical ability to monitor telephone conversations."

May 23, 2006


Katherine Dunham: In Memoriam

Dancer Katherine Dunham Dies

Katherine Dunham, the choreographer, social activist and world-renowned dancer, died Sunday in her New York apartment. She was 96. The cause of her death was unknown Sunday evening, said Charlotte Ottley, Miss Dunham's executive liaison in the St. Louis area. Interested readers will find a highly detailed account of her extraordinary life and amazing achievements, as well as numerous media resources, at the website of The Katherine Dunham Collection at the Library of Congress.

Miss Dunham, for a quarter-century a part-time, but socially and politically active resident of East St. Louis (Illinois), long had been recognized as a leader in the field of black dance. In 1969, she was cited by Dance Magazine as the "forerunner of the numerous fine contemporary Negro groups now emerging and developing, the first of the fighters for the Negro dance company."

Choreographer Agnes de Mille once observed that Miss Dunham "pioneered in a difficult field, cutting away from all traditional cliches and presenting the Negro in fresh, astute and delicately observed moods." Dance critic Walter Terry wrote in The Saturday Review that Miss Dunham, more than any other black choreographer, "celebrated the strength, the fortitude, the faith, the prowess and the majesty" of her race.

Miss Dunham attended the University of Chicago, where she majored in social anthropology. In 1935, Miss Dunham was awarded the University of Chicago's Julius Rosenwald Foundation travel fellowship. After finishing her degree at the University of Chicago, she was hired as dance director for Chicago's Federal Theatre Project. This was, as historians have noted, a period of time when the South-Side of Chicago (especially the Bronzeville neighborhood) served as the home of many African-American artists (fine arts, music and literature), who went on to achieve national and international acclaim.

A fiery style, often as much erotic as exotic, yet always tasteful and impeccably researched, would characterize Miss Dunham's work for the next several decades. In the spring of 1938, she formed her own company with members of the Federal Theatre Project troupe and began to explore the connection of Caribbean dance to its African roots. After the Dunham Dance Company traveled to New York in 1940 and presented a program titled "Tropics and Le Jazz Hot," New York Times critic John Martin wrote: "Her performance ... may very well become a historic occasion."

In the World War II years, the Dunham Dance Company worked on Broadway and in Hollywood. The company also undertook a nationwide tour, in the course of which Miss Dunham successfully filed suits against hotels in Cincinnati and Chicago for racial discrimination.

In 1945, in New York, she opened the Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research. That same year her company performed in the Broadway shows "Carib Song" and "Windy City," and in 1946 it presented an evening-length dance event titled "Bal Negre." "Bal Negre," with sets and costumes by her husband John Pratt, was an enormous success, and in the next several seasons it traveled to Mexico, South America and Europe. The Dunham company toured Europe and South America in 1948 with a program called "Caribbean Rhapsody," and it continued to perform worldwide
until 1957.

Based in Haiti, where she owned property she hoped to turn into a tourist hotel, Miss Dunham spent most of 1958 writing her autobiography, "A Touch of Innocence," and setting up a medical clinic. A Chevalier in the Haitian Legion of Honor since 1949, in 1959 she was granted the title Commander and Grand Officer. In the same year, she re-established her dance company and embarked on another European tour.

In 1963, Miss Dunham was appointed to be the choreographer for a Metropolitan
Opera production of "Aida." That's where she met Sally Bliss, who was dancing with the ballet company. Bliss, who is now the executive director of Dance St. Louis, danced professionally in New York for 40 years. Bliss studied under Dunham for two months in preparation for "Aida." "She was scary," Bliss said. "When she walked into the room, she scared you because she was so great a woman. You knew you were in the presence of a great

In 1964, Miss Dunham was invited to take part in another opera, a student production of "Faust," at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill). It was in conjunction with the "Faust" production that she first visited East St. Louis (Ill.). She was deeply moved by the poverty she saw there, and she proposed an educational project that would reach "far beyond dance in the popular definition" and be concerned "with the fundamentals of human society."

In explaining her goals to a reporter, Miss Dunham said: "What we are trying to do is break through apathy. It's not so much teaching people to perform as it is teaching them, through performing, that they have individual worth and can relate to other
." Early in 1967, Miss Dunham was appointed visiting artist in the Fine Arts Division of Southern Illinois University. She later became the university's cultural affairs consultant and Director of the newly established Performing Arts Training Center and of a facility called the Dynamic Museum.

In 1976 the multicultural museum, now at 1005 Pennsylvania Avenue in East St. Louis, was renamed the Katherine Dunham Dynamic Museum. At about the same time, the Performing Arts Training Center evolved into SIU's Katherine Dunham Center
at 411 East Broadway in East St. Louis. Financially strapped for more than a decade, it was renamed the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities in the spring of 1991.

In 1983, Miss Dunham received a Kennedy Center Honor for her long service to the arts, and in 1990 at the White House she was awarded a National Medal of Arts. In 1986, the American Dance Festival presented her with its Samuel H. Scripp Award; in 1987 the Alvin Ailey Dance Company mounted a retrospective program
titled "The Magic of Katherine Dunham"; in 1988 the French government gave Miss Dunham a Special Presentation of Prestigious Honor; in May of 1989 Miss Dunham was among the first inductees into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in the University City Loop.

In the last years of her life, Miss Dunham's finances were in disarray. In October, she moved back to her newly renovated house in East St. Louis. A $200,000 state grant helped redesign the house to accommodate her and her wheelchair. But a month later, she and a longtime assistant moved back to New York. Friends
said she had run out of money. Miss Dunham's supporters argued about whether she should live in New York or East St. Louis. She had lived since 1999 in an assisted-living apartment on the Upper West Side of New York. She needed friends such as Harry and Julie Belafonte to help pay her bills.

Friends and boards had tried to find money for Miss Dunham, her museum and her dance program, but nothing ever seemed to come though. Some suggested that Dunham close her East St. Louis museum and combine her assets in one place, such as New York. Dunham wouldn't hear of it. For Katherine, it was too difficult to say that she would close the museum and move it somewhere else. She had originally come to East St. Louis to give the community hope. How could she ever take that away?"

Just recently, supporters say, Miss Dunham's finances finally appeared to be more in order. Planners put together a large celebration for Miss Dunham's 97th birthday at the Missouri History Museum. The event was set for next month, and included performers from The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico and Afriky Lolo.

Adapted by the Author from:
Shane Graber
Sunday, May 21, 2006

May 22, 2006


KGB Official Report: Cyberquote of the Week

Political observers are reporting that the following assertion, attributed to a well-known government official, was posted this week on the official Russian KGB Report website. The statement described the American system of government as a ruling body characterized by total depravity:

"Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They've got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen."

Who made these comments? Huey Pierce Long (August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935). Huey Long was the American politician who served as the Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a United States Senator from 1932 to 1935.

But, to be sure, that was back in the days when American politics was quite different.

May 21, 2006


Slap!! : On the Maltreatment of Children

Slap: Punishment and Deprivation
This is indeed a story that, while apparently pulling at the emotional heartstrings of parents, is a striking illustration of how not to enhance positive psychological growth in children. Please read the story presented below with your greatest sense of misgivings:

My Son, The Stranger

The sweet boy I raised is gone, replaced by a sullen, scornful teenager. It may be a phase, but it's breaking my heart.

By Anne Lamott

May. 22, 2006 | This is the story I would have most loved to come upon on last week, when I was as crushed and hopeless as I've been since becoming a mother.

My nearly 17-year-old son, Sam, and I had a fight last Saturday that was so ugly and insane that it left me wondering if anyone in the history of time had ever been a worse parent, or raised such a horrible child. I believed the answer was no, because I had not read anything that would dispute this, except perhaps for Lionel Dahmer's great memoir of the mistakes he made in raising his son Jeffrey.

Our fight was ostensibly about the car. We have an old beater that I let Sam drive whenever he wants, although because I pay for the insurance, I have some leverage. It's a good deal for him. But I had taken away his car privileges earlier that week because he'd been driving recklessly, hit a curb going 20 and destroyed the front tire. So he felt mad and victimized to begin with, my huge, handsome, brown-eyed son. And actually, so did I. That morning, I asked him to wash both cars, as partial payment for the tire I'd had to buy. It was a beautiful sunny day, and he had other plans, which I made him postpone. Then, with perhaps the tiniest bit of sanctimony, I went for a walk with the dog, to let him work in peace. When I got back, though, the cars were still gauzy with dirt.

I mentioned this, as nicely as possible. "I washed them," Sam said, defiantly. I called him a liar. He produced two filthy washrags: "I'm not a liar," he said. "I just did a lousy job."

And I lost my mind. I slapped him across the face, for the first time in our lives. He didn't flinch and, in fact, barely seemed to register it. He gave me a flat, lifeless look, and I knew I was a truly doomed human being, and that neither of us could ever forgive me.

Then I grounded him for the night.

I felt I had no choice. Slapping him did not neutralize his culpability: It simply augmented mine. He looked at me with scorn. "I don't care what you do or don't do anymore," he said. "You have no power over me."

This is not strictly true: He has little money of his own, and loves having our old car to tool around in. Also, he realizes that families are not democracies, and he's smart enough to obey most of the time.

We stood in our driveway looking daggers at each other. The tension was like the air before lightning. The cat ran for her life. The dog wrung her hands.

I felt a wall of tears approaching the shore and, without another thought, got in my car and left. Nothing makes me angrier and more hopeless than when someone robs me of my reality by trying to gaslight me. I started to cry, hard, and not long after, to keen, like an Irish woman with a son missing at sea.

Recently I have begun to feel that the boy I loved is gone, and in his place, a male person who so pushes my buttons, with his moodiness, scorn and flamboyant laziness. People tell me that the boy will return, but some days that is impossible to imagine. And we were doing so well for a while, all those years until his junior year of high school, when the plates of the earth shifted inside him. I've loved and given him so much more than I ever have anyone else: And I'll tell you, a fat lot of good it does these days.

I should not have been driving, but since I'd restricted Sam's driving privileges, I couldn't make him leave. So I drove along, a bib of tears and drool forming on my T-shirt. Why was he sabotaging himself like this, giving up his weekend, his freedom and his car, and for what? Well, I sort of knew the answer. This is what teenagers have to do, because otherwise they would never be able to leave home and go off to become their own people. Kids who are very close to their parents often become the worst shits, and they have to make the parent the villain, so they can break free without it hurting too much. Otherwise, the parent would have to throw rocks at them to get them out of the house. It would be like in "Sky King," when the family has nursed the wounded animal back to health, and tries to release it back into the wilds, shooing it away -- "Go ahead, Betty! You can fly!"

So even though, or because, I understood this, I cried harder as I drove than I have since my father died, 27 years ago. God invented cars to help kids separate from their parents. I have never hated my son so much as when I was teaching him to drive. There, I've said it, I hated him. Sue me: It's actually legal, because sometimes he hates me too. He always drove too fast, cut corners too sharply, whipping around in the '95 Honda like it was a souped-up Mustang convertible. But still somehow a few weeks ago, he tricked the California Department of Motor Vehicles into issuing him a license. I hate the way most young men drive, so cocky, reckless, entitled. I suppose they hate the way I drive too -- careful, pokey, all but shaking my puny fist at them as they pass.

I started letting Sam drive himself to and from school, which I loved, and to his appointments, events, practices. I also ordered him to make emergency runs for milk, and ice cream sundaes. But then watching him leave recently, I saw him peel around the corner nearest to our home, endangering himself and anyone who might have been on the street. I threatened to take away his driving privileges, and he slowed down, for two days. Then he sped up when he thought I wasn't looking, and lost his rights for a week.

What has happened? Who is this person? He used to be so sane and positive, so proud of himself. He used to call himself Samwheel when he was 5, because while he couldn't pronounce Samuel, he knew it was a distinguished name. He used to care about everything, but now he mostly only cares about his friends, computers and our animals. He threatens to run away because he wants his freedom, and the truth is he is too old to be living with me anymore -- he wants to have his own house, and hours, and life. He wants to stay out late, and sleep in, and smoke, and because I won't let him do any of this on weekdays, he sees me as a prig, or a dominatrix, John Ashcroft, or Ann Coulter.

I wept at the wheel on a busy boulevard in the county where I live. At first people were looking over at me as they passed in the next lane. I wiped at my face, and snorfled. Then I noticed that people were dropping back. Eventually, there were no cars in my immediate vicinity. I felt like O.J. in his Bronco on that famous ride. I started calling out to God, "Help me! Help me! I'm calling on you! I hate myself, I hate my son!" I wanted to die. But I have to believe that Jesus prefers honesty to anything else. I was saying, "Here's who I am," and that is where most improvement begins.

You've got to wonder what Jesus was like at 17. They don't even talk about it in the Bible, he was apparently so awful.

But then I said the stupidest thing: I said, "I'll do anything you say."

Now this always gets God's attention. I could feel him look over, sideways, and drum his fingertips against each other. "Hello!" I heard him say. "Go deal with this, dude."

So I drove home, wiping at my eyes, and when I stepped inside, Sam said, his voice dripping with contempt, "What do you have to cry about?"

I staggered to my room, like Snagglepuss onstage. I sat on the floor, and thought about his question. The answer is, I don't have a clue, but all the honest parents I know -- all three of them -- are in similar straits. Their kids are mouthy now, and worse; they could care less about school, and some are barely passing at this point. They drive like movie stars from the 50s, like Marlon Brando or James Dean. You can see in their driving that everything in them is raw. No wonder teenagers make such good terrorists.

And me. I think the moment Sam was born, it was all over. I recognized that the things I hated about my parents -- their fixation with homework, and getting into a good college; their need to show us off, and make us perform socially for their friends -- were going to be things Sam hated about me some day. I also knew that I would wreck his life in ways my parents couldn't have even imagined because I was single, broke and barely sober. I knew that God had given me an impossible task, and that I would fail. I knew deep down that life can be a wretched business, and no one, not even Sam, gets out alive.

It turns out that every kid has this one tiny inbred flaw: They have their own skin and their own will. Putting aside for a moment the divine truth of their natures, all of them are wrecked, just like the rest of us. That is the fly in the ointment, and this, Sam, is what I had to cry about.

When I finally stopped my sobbing, I called my friend Father Tom, who is actually one of Sam's dear friends, too. I told him my version. He listened.

"You're right on schedule," he said. "And so is he. And I was worse."

"You swear? Thank you! But it's still hopeless," I said. "What should I do?"

"Call the White House and volunteer him for the National Guard."

"Anything else?"

"Let the hard feelings pass. Ask for help. Mary and Joseph had some rough moments, too. See if you can forgive each other a little, just for today. We can't forgive: That's the work of the Spirit. We're too damaged. But we can be willing. And in the meantime, try not to break his fingers."

I sat on my floor and after a while the dog came over and gave me a treatment. Somewhat revived, I tried to figure out the next right thing.

After a while I went and kicked my son's door in.

"Go clean the cars properly," I said. "Now."

And he did, or rather, he hosed them down. Then he went back inside and slammed the door. I went inside and filled a tub with hot soapy water, and took it downstairs to Sam.

"Go wash it again," I said. "With soap, this time. And then rinse it."

I went inside and did everything I could think of that helps when all is hopeless. I ate some yogurt, drank a cool glass of water and cleaned out a drawer. I took my nice clean car to the market and bought supplies: the new People, a loaf of whole-wheat sourdough and a jar of raspberry jam. I lay on the couch, read my magazine and ate toast. Then when I started to doze, I turned on CNN softly and watched until I fell asleep. I woke up a few times.

The first time, I was still sad and angry and ashamed, and knew in my heart that things weren't going to be consistently good again for a long time. I was willing for the Spirit to help me forgive myself, and for Sam and I to forgive each other, but these things take time. God does not have a magic wand. Also, I kept my expectations low, which is one of the secrets of life.

Then when I woke up again, I saw the last thing on earth I expected to see: Sam in the same room as me, stretched on the other couch, eating yogurt, and watching CNN too.

"Hi," I said, but he didn't reply. His legs hung over the sides of the couch. Then I dozed off again. When I woke up, he was asleep, too, with the dog on the floor beside him. He was sweating. He has always gotten hot when he sleeps. He used to nap on this same couch with his head on my legs, and ask me to scratch his head, and before that to crawl into bed beside me, and then kick off all the covers, and earlier still, to sleep on my stomach and chest like a hot-water bottle. He and the dog were both snoring. Maybe I had been too, all of us tangled up in one another's dreams.

Everything in the room stirred, dust and light, dander and fluff, and the movement of air, my life still in daily circulation with this guy I have been resting with for so many years.

Anne Lamott
Copyright: Salon Magazine


The DaVinci Code: The Louvre

"Life isn't made of stories that you cut into slices like an apple pie. There's no standard way of approaching a story. We have to evoke a situation, a truth. This is the poetry of life's reality."

By: Henri Cartier-Bresson


100 X 100: 100 Tiny Homes in Hong Kong

These pictures are from a series of 100 photographs that were taken by Michael Wolf of residents in their apartments located in Hong Kong's oldest public housing "estate." All of the 100 apartment-rooms are only 100 square-feet in size. Only eight of the picures are shown here; the many others can be seen on Michael Wolf's website.


Double Bind Communications

Double Bind
The world of electronic communications exponentially opens the door to some very interesting comments. For example, I recently read a comment that exhorted its readers to focus their attention upon the need to ensure that something had to be "squashed." "Squashed?" I thought to myself. I don't hear that word too often in everyday life. It seems like an attitude that opposing elected political figures might develop, or what one nation would attempt to do to its enemy (declare) in a state of war.

"Squashed"---crush, suppress, stifle, subdue, forcibly squeeze something into a tiny space. The conclusion of the entreaty was somewhat of a shock: "With warm regards."

Squash, crush, stifle, subdue---with warm regards?

"What is this kind of statement?", I thought. Then, I realized, it's the form of communication known as the double bind. Like a road sign that you're looking at that says: "Do not read this sign." You cannot do both what it asks and implies simultaneously. The double bind or paradox gives the illusion of space between the opposites, but the space isn't really there. The effects of such paradoxical communication can be devastating, especially to those already experiencing disturbed emotions.

Unless the less sturdy are helped to untangle or unravel themselves from being trapped within the double bind or paradoxical communication to which they are exposed, they will become consumed by doubt, which will in turn reinforce enactments of repetition-compulsion. This, I propose, is the real path, simply stated, to the development of repetition-compulsion states, designation of which has been so elusive for many years.

The only way out of such traps is an intersubjective approach, which is why models based upon behavioral techniques boast of great promise, but never really work. In fact, the latter techniques only make matters worse, since they add feelings of guilt and shame to the already present sense of anguish about being trapped.

My following discussion will begin to examine in some detail a hypothesis about perhaps difficult work should can done in order to resolve a potentially co-constructed cycle of double bind or paradoxical communition.

May 20, 2006


Clyde Kennard: Justice 50-Years Later

Clyde Kennard
In the late 1950s, Clyde Kennard attempted to transfer from the University of Chicago, where he was as student in good standing, to the University of Southern Mississippi. The segregationist leaders of the time framed him for the crime of receiving stolen chicken feed.

They sentenced him to prison in order to set an example that they hoped would ensure that no African-American would ever again attempt to enroll in the University Of Southern Mississippi. To compound the tragedy, he became gravely ill in prison, was badly mistreated and died shortly after receiving clemency, based upon his medical condition.

Some fifty years later, in an unusual legal move, a Mississippi judge on Wednesday (May 17, 2006) tossed out the civil rights-era conviction of the unjustly imprisoned African-American former University of Chicago student.

The decision to exonerate Clyde Kennard elated a group of students at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, who have worked to clear his name. "All traces of the conviction are erased, the record is expunged, and Clyde Kennard is officially innocent," said Barry Bradford, a teacher at the Lincolnshire school. "Today we've seen justice established."

Kennard, who died of cancer in 1963 while on an "indefinite suspended sentence," was declared innocent in the same Hattiesburg courtroom where he was convicted in 1960 and sentenced to 7 years' hard labor for stealing $25 worth of chicken feed, a charge disproved this year when the lone witness against him recanted. Historical documents show how segregationists discussed framing Kennard for trying to integrate Mississippi Southern College, now the University of Southern Mississippi.

As recently as last week, the students at Stevenson High School and their legal expert, Steven Drizin of Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions, were deeply disappointed when Mississippi's Parole Board refused to recommend that Kennard be pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour, who already had said he would not grant one. Barbour instead issued a proclamation declaring March 30 as Clyde Kennard Day.

Searching for a solution, Bradford, the Stevenson High School teacher, called former federal Judge Charles Pickering, the famous father of an acquaintance. On Friday, they agreed to take the fight back to the Forrest County Circuit Court where it all started decades ago. Pickering, whose activist civil rights record helped trigger a partisan fight years ago over his nomination by President Bush to a federal appeals court, quickly secured the signatures of 15 other prominent Mississippians on a petition asking that Kennard's conviction be overturned.

"A basic premise of all of our law is you don't convict innocent people," said Pickering, who had followed the case. The petition, which Pickering read to the court, included the signatures of Ellie Dahmer and Vernon Dahmer Jr., the widow and son of slain civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., and former Mississippi Gov. William Winter.

Also in the crowded courtroom Wednesday were Kennard's friends and family, who exchanged hugs and cried after the verdict, said Rev. Willie Grant, Kennard's brother-in-law and a Hattiesburg preacher. "I'm happy with it," Grant said. "[The judge] just told the truth: He's innocent. It's been a long, long time."

Pickering, Judge Bob Helfrich and District Atty. Jon Mark Weathers said that although the case was perhaps unprecedented because Kennard is long dead, they were on solid ground. "Legally, there probably is not a vehicle for relief," Helfrich said in an interview. "[But] I don't believe I'm prohibited from declaring it null and void."

Weathers entered an order that ensures the case cannot be prosecuted again without taking new evidence to a grand jury. "And that's not going to happen," said Weathers, who supported the claim of Kennard's innocence.


Bush in Grief: Dumb and Dumber

A Very, Very Sad President Bush
I have been trying to restrain myself from poking at President Bush with jokes about his periodic (?) lapses of wisdom, but this particular one is just too hilarious not too pass along:

Dick Cheney came into the Oval Ofice one morning this past week to give President Bush his daily briefing on the previous day's events in Iraq. "Mr. President," Cheney began, "I have very good news about yesterday's progress in Iraq. Our puppet government is still standing, and Condi Rice managed to get out of the country alive."

"Wonnerful, wonnerful," Bush replied sleepily, still munching away on his breakfast muffin.

"There's only one small, rather unpleasant event to report," Cheney continued. "Three Brazillians were attacked or killed just outside of Baghdad"

"THREE BRAZILLIANS!!!" Bush exclaimed. Then, with a deep sense of grief, his body slumped over and his head drooped onto the desk. Then, slowly looking up at Cheney with an immense sense of sadness, he quietly asked, "Dick, tell me, err..I mean remind me, three brazillians… just how many zillions is that??


On Raging Political Strife: A Long Day's Journey into Night

Katherine Hepburn
Current political events and discourse are somehow somehow reminiscent of the exhausting experience of witnessing a production of A Long Day's Journey into Night.

As if achingly punctuated by Katharine Hepburn's natural tremors, the tenor of discourse embedded in the current American political landscape can so easily thrust one into remembrances of Eugene O'Neill's harrowing and devastating autobiographical tale of horrific turbulence, replete with all sorts of critical character assassinations, addictions to polarized social positions and distateful rejections of historical legacies.

How difficult it is to keep all of this from utterly wearing one down as the horrible political journey continues from chapter to chapter, seemingly unabated. Welcome, one might be tempted to sometimes muse, to the world of Hell.

May 16, 2006


HOPE Redux: On Confronting Terrors

The Restoration of Hope
Securing the Safe Haven:

I was quite tempted to write a structured review of the musical piece that is opening now. Instead, I just hope that you'll take notice of the music that’s playing, enjoying how it seems to emerge almost simultaneously from a near-silent landscape of nowhere, somewhere, anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps these unusually relaxing sounds might encourage you to feel comfortable and stay awhile, listening as you read, reading as you listen. I would be very pleased if it does.

Gliding from non-melodic to immersive melodic waves, moving forward or towards one (or you) with a certain discrete, almost quiet sense of calm. Soaring confidently, yet carefully between the equally dissatisfying realms of either elaborately creative illusion and fantasy; or a tyrannical pre-occupation with the transitory nature of physical existence, leaving one exhausted by a depletion of reality.

This gentle touch of balance might be considered as one element of the sense of transformative hope. Not the greedy sense of primitive of hope for the wrong things, but rather a constructive and progressive sense of hope.

It is the hope born of patience, the hope of Pandora’s box, the hope buried beneath greed, vanity, slander, envy and the myriad other sinister forces of human experiences, but which manages to break free with promises of inspiration in the face of suffering.

Strong feelings of pessimism may understandably arise from the imagination of and concerns about the potential dangers and malignant forces of domination that were suggested in my previous two discussions. In the face of those perils, we are encouraged to turn once again toward the solace and resolution that can be provided by a renewed sense of hope.

May 14, 2006


Thoughts on the Holocaust Redux: Janusz Korczak

Auschwitz: "Good Work Will
Make Men Free"

To emphasize my previous discussion of Sigmund Freuds's 150th Anniversity, and its concluding remarks related to the federal government's surveillance of our own citizens, I am republishing my earlier essay on The Holocaust, which memorializes one man's historic resistance to totalitarian atrocities.

The picture shown above displays the deceitful welcoming message above the entry to the Auschwitz death camp in Austria. This memorial tribute is written for Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jew, and his acts of resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto.

A few years after graduating from medical school, in 1912 Korczak became the director of the Jewish orphanage of Warsaw, providing empathic, clinically insightful care for children from the slums. From then on until his death, he worked at the orphanage.

Shortly after the beginning of the Nazis occupation of Warsaw, an order was made by the Germans demanding that all Jewish persons had to live in a small area of Warsaw that came to be known as the infamous "Warsaw Ghetto", where they would be destined to perish. The orphanage that Korczak directed was also ordered to relocate to the ghetto, and he continued his work at the orphanage there.

On August 6, 1942, the Nazis issued an order that the two hundred children living in the Jewish orphanage of the Warsaw Ghetto were to be taken to a train station and packed into railroad cars. Korczak, like other Jews in the ghetto, knew that the train's destination was the Treblinka death camp, where all of the children would be murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.

On the designated day for their arrival at the train station, Korczak appointed the oldest boy in the orphanage to lead the group, carrying a flag of hope, a four-leaf clover on a field of green--the emblem of the orphanage. Korczak walked immediately behind this leader, gently holding the hands of the two youngest children. Behind them, in excellent order, marched all the other children of the orphanage. The impression of the children's self-confidence struck the policemen, who previously had been whipping and cursing the Jews into the railroad cars, so much that they immediately snapped to attention and officially saluted them. One of the guards was so deeply moved by this unexpected event that he told Korczak to leave--adamantly stating that only the children had been ordered to board the train. As he tried to move Korczak away from the children, Korczak refused to separate himself from the children and went with them to Treblinka, where they all would die.

Korczak's freely chosen death would signify the utter righteousness of his life. After World War II, Janusz Korczak became a legend in Poland, Europe and other countries outside of Europe. He was posthumously awarded the German Peace Price and honored on the hundredth anniversary of his birthday by UNESCO officially declaring that year to be Korczak Year, as well as by Poland and many other countries. Pope Paul II stated that in our modern world, Janusz Korczak was a symbol of true religion and morality.

He should be memorialized today, serving to provide a true example for those who continue to work with young persons, as one who devoted his own life's work as the most devoted friend of children.


On Sigmund Freud's 150th Anniversary: "Finis Austriae" Redux

Sigmund Freud: 150th Anniversary
Freud tried to teach us that frustration is part of the price we have to pay for the preservation of civilized life. From his own experiences of the Nazi brutalities as but one example of totalitarian atrocities, he knew well that it was a price well worth paying. He believed that we were but a veneer’s thickness away from barbarism.

This is a lesson we all need to re-teach each other at the very moment that we have just learned that, as Americans, we have become victimized by tools of mass surveillance, capable of totalitarian control and domination by the very governmental regime to whom we had entrusted the guarantee of our democratic freedoms.

Sigmund Freud was born 150 years old this week, and the general sense of regard for him has never been lower. In modern times, there is almost no intellectual or character fault that hasn’t been attributed to him or his body of work. It is now as fashionable to revile him as it once was to revere him. His theoretical investigations and hypotheses have been the object of obsessive historical and biographical research aimed at the subversion of almost any major element of clinical worth. Nevertheless, the feverish tone of the myriad attacks upon him paradoxically gives life to a suspicion that he might well a greater man than any of his detractors.

If Freud were truly as worthless a figure as he is now claimed to be, why would it be so important for so many to bury him so often and for so long? It is perhaps precisely because that no matter what aspect, what major perspective or minor detail, is thrown aside, Freud and reconsiderations or reconstructions of his ideas continue to reappear. As Dr. Anthony Daniels recently observed,
“With Freud, it is not easy to say precisely what his achievement was; but a man who created, in [W. H.] Auden’s phrase, a climate of opinion the world over must have been out of the ordinary.”
The criticisms leveled against Freud and his claims have been widely ranging, with varying degrees of sophistication and justification. The differing focuses of the attacks have have included questions of scientific validity, the reliability of his accounts of the origins pathology and mutative factors of treatment, as well as the detrimental effects of some practical applications of his theories.

Nevertheless, even if many of the charges against Freud are true, a man is not necessarily responsible for the uses to which his ideas are put. Moreover, Freud clearly was exceptionally gifted. It is clear that from the time that his reputation began to appear upon the world-stage that he was a very brilliant man, and not simply in the less admirable art of self-promotion. He was possessed of literary gifts reserved for only the rarest of intellectual giants. His creatively inventive attempts to overcome mankind’s enduring emotional suffering were awe inspiring; his uncanny, profound ability to find significance in small details (and the gift of that legacy) cannot help but leave us feeling that we have been afforded the rare opportunity to be in the company of a genius.

Although his writings were not scientific in the positivistic empirical sense, there is no doubt that it was the body of his work that made us aware of just how hidden and inaccurately understood human motivation can be, as well as how little credence we can assign to what we claim to be our consciously avowed intentions. It follows that it should be needless (although in fact, time proves it crucially ever-needful) to show just how important, though also how difficult, it is for us to know ourselves.

Freud’s thinking has had an enormous influence upon all of us was, and it is unimaginable how there could be a return to a pre-Freudian way of thinking. Despite how rigorously, and regardless of the many ways, that we have thrown him away, yet he continues to return. We just cannot rid ourselves of the potent, even if seldom clearly visible, fact that he enunciated deep if unprovable truths about ourselves that had never been so clearly enunciated before.

Freud’s views were not simplistic, certainly not as simplistic as those of his critics. His view of human life was a tragic one, rather than a naively optimistic. He tried to teach us that frustration was part of the price we have to pay for the preservation of civilized life. From his own experiences of the Nazi brutalities as but one example of totalitarian atrocities, he knew well that it was a price well worth paying. He believed that we were but a veneer’s thickness away from barbarism — and in the light of subsequent events in the 20th century, who can say that he was not prescient?

And just as crucially important, it is a lesson we all need to re-teach each other at this very moment that we have learned that, as Americans, we have become victimized by tools of mass surveillance capable of potentially totalitarian control and domination by the very governmental regime to whom we had entrusted the guarantee of our democratic freedoms.

Let us remember the two words that Freud wrote in his diary when the Gestapo came to turn him out of Vienna. They have a poignant, moving and infinitely dignified greatness about them: "Finis Austriae." Let us also hope that those two words are not returning to haunt America.

May 12, 2006


Transitional Planning in Mental Health Care: Formidable Challenges to Good Enough Endings

Madness: Suffering To Carry On

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing:

Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970's, a nationwide movement began to "de-institutionalize" severely mentally ill people. Energized by a growing public perception of the deplorable conditions in many large state psychiatric hospitals and the advent of anti-psychotic medications, the doors of the hospitals were suddenly unbolted. The overtly stated public policy position was that the primary motivation for the de-institutionalization movement was a humanitarian one, specifically people could be prescribed effective medications, then followed by outpatient psychiatrists and clinicians in community mental health centers. However, there was a less humane political motive, namely the wish to begin a drastic reduction of funds provided by the national government in support of mental health services for the American public.

For example, the initial NIMH start-up grants for community-based mental health facilities was 90% or more of the costs for the first year, with supposed commitments for ongoing financial support. In fact, the financial support commonly diminished by 10% each year, leaving the generally impoverished neighborhoods, in which the mental health centers were established, to struggle to meet the financial needs on their own. As a rule, as one might expect, those efforts, doomed from the beginning, were spectacularly unsuccessful.

Cast Them Unto These Mean Streets:

The reality, then, has been disastrous. A relatively small proportion of those persons previously in care was lucky enough to be able to live with some semblance of independence or was able to depend upon long-term care resources living with family members. However, as is so apparent by the sight of those patients wandering the streets of cities across the nation, many could not. Because of the predictable unavailability of sufficient funding for outreach and follow-up programs, a lack of leadership from the medical community, and inadequate structure and support, too many former state hospital patients relapsed.

Despite the development of new medications and the arduous work of advocacy groups such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the situation remains tenaciously persistent. A very large group of disturbed persons remain untreated, homeless and without services (it is estimated that one-third of the total number of homeless suffer from severe mental illness, usually schizophrenia). Some have ended up in jail (16 to 24 percent of prisoners suffer from psychotic disorders, severe depression or bipolar disorder). Some have been re-institutionalized. Others stay in the community, going into inpatient psychiatric units during acute episodes and being released when they stabilize.

All the while, the “de-institutionalization” movement marches on unabated. This is nowhere more evident than in the field of therapeutic group care for children and adolescents, where transitional services have become the mantra of the past decade. The push to constrict group care services, while pushing for programs that claim to promote independence sounds, as with the earlier “de-institutionalization” of state psychiatric hospitals, like a noble and deeply humane goal. It can be accompanied, however, with a potentially severe emotional cost.

No one can argue against the importance for people to feel autonomous and independent. However, in our sometimes tunnel-visioned focus upon independence, we too easily can become blind to the life invigorating fact that it is just as vital for people in care to be able retain an important, nourishing sense of attachment and connection. Those professionals who organize frequently ill-planned and hastily improvised transitional services often lack a sophisticated understanding of the underlying psychological structures and needs of those for whom they make such plans. They repeatedly are unable to be empathically attuned to one of the major suffering involved in the state of emotional disturbance, specifically that it is a state that almost invariably isolates people and impairs their abilities to form and maintain close, intimate relationships.

In the more desperate of scenarios, the so-called independence is accompanied by neighbors and acquaintances who steal money and cigarettes from them, even sexually victimize them. Autonomy becomes identified with lives too often characterized by fear, boredom and ongoing anxiety. While more independent, they are also much lonelier.

Stubbornly Committed to Working the Trenches:

And what of the lives of those who are committed to working with the marginalized disturbed young people and adults in this difficult atmosphere. One writer has described it this way: "Dealing with clients is easy -- dealing with disgruntled [mental health] workers is hard." They are disgruntled: They earn 20 grand for an intense, high-pressure little-recognized job. "Oh, you are so noble to do the work you do," is what people say. What they really mean is, "Jesus, what fools you are."

You have to be stubborn, willfully blind to the fact that you might be looking at retirement when you're in your 80s with zilch in savings. You have to believe that it's God's work, even if you doubt that he or she exists or gives a damn. You have to be willing to get down and dirty, to be a soldier in the trenches where everybody -- clients, doctors, case managers, concerned family members -- can take potshots at you. Once you're prepared to be in your 40s and still renting, to work in a residence that's nicer than your place, with clients who get more in disability income than you get in take-home, well, step into my office and fill out an application.”

“…our task is to help people be as independent as possible, but in the politicized effort to get state funding and answer to tax
payers, that mission is often translated into a need to demonstrate "movement" toward independence, even if we're not sure it's in the resident's best interest. The …who pay our salaries, are decent, smart people who understand that real life is messy and that it can be difficult to know when someone is ready to move on, to go from a staffed residence (more expensive) to [a less structured setting]. But, inevitably, they feel pressured to lower costs, to provide services as cheaply as possible -- and that in turn becomes a pressure we feel.

Constructing Good Enough Endings

When it comes to creating independent lives, we often have been at best only partially successful. But we need to realize that for many in our care, there many other meaningful roles they can fulfill. Thus, in response to the often overly adamant directive for us to push those in care with us toward positions of independence, we must also pay close attention to the lessons that those for whom we provide care try to teach us about themselves along the way. To fully attend to the detailed messages that they convey to us also means that we need to willing to identify and admit to our own most tender, the weakest, immature and vulnerable parts of ourselves. Our attempt to broaden the scope of their possibilities inevitably requires that we do the same. Further, to a major extent this depends upon our own capacity and willingness to openly admit that at times we know nothing, that aside from the fact of our own mortality, we all must embrace the uncertainty of life.

May 08, 2006


"The Time 100": Some of Theirs and Some of Mine

A Short-List of Nine:

Time Magazine recently published its 2006 list of The 100 Most Influential Personalities. The following list is an abbreviated one, which includes some personalities that I think were the best choices made this year by Time Magazine. This list also includes some personalities who, I feel, by their own right deserve a similar recognition. So, the somewhat customized list presented here includes (pictured from top to bottom):

1. Hillary Clinton.
2. Studs Terkel. Also see Terkel's Commemorative Site.
3. Paul Simon.
4. Ellen DeGeneres.
5. Barrack Obama.
6. Bono
7. Clinton and Bush.
8. Minnie Minoso.

And awarding the last position on my list to the increasingly unanimous choice for the most ineffectual personality of the year, shall we say quite sadly:

9. Mr. Bush, in his habitually embarrassing and befuddled state

Studs Terkel

Paul Simon

Ellen DeGeneres

Barrack Obama


Clinton and Bush

Minnie Minoso


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