Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Sunday morning to you all. We didn't get out of the 40s yesterday but we, hopefully, will see 60s today and for the next couple. The fall temperature roller coaster is definitely here. At least I will get the last of the plants pulled and the garden containers capped for the winter.

As I said yesterday, I have been on a crocheting binge for the last little while. The tally to date--two pillows and 7 doilies. The one on the left here is the latest. It was supposed to be a 12 inch doily. The mat it is sitting on is 17x28 inches. That is what happens when you use a heavier thread than the pattern calls for. I am not sure what I will do with it. I had thought to stitch it onto a fat quarter I have but the fabric is a bit too small. I will have to look at my stash and see if something else will do or if I can dye something to fit my mental image. I may try this pattern again with lighter thread. That is the nice thing about a stash that is 30+ years building. I have a lot of options.

I like movies and tv--or usually do. That is why our talk here of discontinuing our cable service is only talk. Like most Americans my age, I grew up on both and those visual media are as much a part of life as breathing. Every now and then a scene or theme comes up that resonates with what is happening in the culture at large. One of our favorite fairly recent movies is Ocean's Thirteen which, in the early moments,has an interesting take on aging. Danny Ocean tries to talk his friend Ruben out going into a partnership with a man who has a reputation of 'screwing' all his partners. Ruben tells Danny that Eskimos "put their elders out on an ice flow when they can't hunt anymore. Me--I can still hunt!" That reminded me of comments a professor made in a sociology class I took some 25 years ago (thereabouts) concerning the tendency we sometimes have of romanticizing more technologically primitive people. He cited specifically the documentary 'Nanook of the North' (filmed in 1921-2) and its depiction of the sharing out of a successful hunt. Every one in the extended clan got a share depending on his/her relationship to the successful hunter. Nice system--as long as the hunting is good. The professor remarked that months after the film was released Nanook and his family died of starvation as the game disappeared and most hunts were unsuccessful. The extended family/clan broke up into single family units that wouldn't have to share the meager results so that some might survive. (Note: I have found several different accounts of Nanook's death on line. I don't know which one is factual.) That is a triage system found in many hunter/gather/pastoral cultures. I remember another image from a much later documentary that a history professor showed (History of Technology, this time) on nomadic pastoralists in the area of Pakistan or Iran. The tribe had make its way over very rugged country and one old man was too old and frail to make the trip. In the last view of him he was sitting on a rock by a gorge as the tribe passed over and left him.

Why do these images come to mind? Well, stories like this one bring them to mind. Texas conservatives, now that they have an large majority in the state legislature, are exploring the possibility of withdrawing from medicare--to save the state money. Right now the talk is about money--how much the state would 'save' if they opt out and whether they can afford to lose the matching money that the Federal Government puts into the program. They aren't saying what they would do, if anything, about the 3.6 million children, disabled, and others who depend on the program. And I remember all too well the stories about effect of the economic melt down on health care in Nevada--the women who were going to lose the cancer treatments they were already receiving. The situation has faded from the news media, but I am sure it is still there, if anyone cared to look. It looks like our society is in 'triage mode' and I wonder how many of us will be pushed out on the ice flow. And I am appalled at how little human life is worth to a party dominated by 'right-to-lifers.' Oh, I forgot--we have a right to life only before birth. But that brings back another memory from this former would-be historian's brain. Everyone knows that 6 million Jews from across Europe died in Nazi camps. But another 6 million also died. The slaughter started among the German people themselves--homosexuals, the mentally deficient, those suffering from long term and expensive-to-treat diseases, the frail and ill elderly. The Nazis had a lovely term for these groups: useless eaters. I am sure our conservative ideologues won't be so crass as to use that term but does that matter?

And then there is this bit of idiocy from Senator Lindsey Graham. We have been engaged in a war in Afghanistan for the last 9 years. We have been engaged in a war in Iraq for 8 years. These two together have cost trillions of dollars as well as the lives of 2.5 times more soldiers than the number of civilians killed on 9/11. We have gotten a lousy return on this investment and now Lindsey Graham wants to 'double down'???

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