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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
FREEDOM. Mohammed Jawad has been finally ordered freed from Guantanamo by U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, after detention since 2002.
Jawad, you may or may not recall, was the youngest captive at Guantanamo:
Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan citizen, was captured in Afghanistan in December 2002. He was seventeen years old on the date of his arrest, and he is one of two prisoners at Guantánamo charged with acts allegedly committed as a juvenile. Jawad’s age is likely to be a focal point in his case.
Jawad is accused of throwing a grenade at a U.S. military vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan on December 17, 2002, and injuring two American soldiers and their Afghan translator. He was designated an “enemy combatant” at a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (“CSRT”) on October 19, 2004.
For what it's worth, an Afghan rights group claims Jawad was only twelve when captured.
You can read more about him here. The results of this case have been anxiously awaited by those following the cases of those remaining at Guantanamo, as Judge Huvelle has expressed ever increasing impatience at the government's behavior for a long time now.
As my first link states:
[...] The hearing drew a full audience at the courthouse, apparently in anticipation of a significant confrontation between the judge and government lawyers, who had earlier drawn her wrath over some of their tactics. Because the case also offered a close look at how federal judges are handling detention cases in the face of considerable government resistance, the hearing also had something of a dramatic air to it. Adding to the drama, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who like Judge Huvelle has engaged in some tense jousting with government lawyers in detainee cases, took a seat as a spectator in the jury box, perhaps as a gesture of solidarity with the judge.
In a formal order expected to be issued later Thursday, Judge Huvelle said, the government will be given seven days to prepare a report to Congress that is now required before any Guantanamo detainee is to be freed. Then, 15 days after that, the government must complete plans for Jawad’s transfer out of Guantanamo, the judge indicated.
By Aug. 24, a written report is due on Jawad’s status, the judge said. “By then, I hope he’s en route to Afghanistan,” she commented.
Told by a government lawyer, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ian Heath Gershengorn that Attorney General Eric Holder is still considering whether to pursue criminal charges against Jawad, Judge Huvelle said she hoped Holder would “give serious thought” about that prospect, saying she could foresee “some serious issues” surrounding such a case.
“I can tick them off,” she said, noting, among other things, that the long delay in bringing criminal charges — based on an alleged grenade-throwing incident in Afghanistan in 2002 — would raise issues of a violation of his right to a speedy trial. She also said there could be issues about his “competency,” since he was arrested when he was a teenager and has been subjected to torture since then. She added that, because of his age, it may be questioned whether he could form the necessary intent to commit a war crime.
Although the judge showed a willingness to accommodate the government’s “security and operational considerations” in working out the details of Jawad’s release, she did return to her former pattern of criticizing the government’s handling of the case in which Jawad was seeking his release.
She complained that one part of the government had apparently withheld information about the case from the government team appearing in her court, resulting in the court having to act “without a full deck of cards.” It is “not acceptable,” she said, for one arm of the government not to let another in on its information.
Moreover, she said, there “has been a consistent pattern” of government lawyers repeatedly asking for more time in preparing the case, putting the courts in “an untenable position.” Last year, she noted, the Supreme Court had ordered District Court judges to move quickly to rule on detainees’ challenges. “If the government had gone quickly, we could get going here,” she added.
In fact, a period of 13 months and 18 days had elapsed between the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boumediene v. Bush last year and Judge Huvelle’s order releasing an individual that the government still believes committed an act of terrorism, but that officials had just this month conceded they could not justify his continued detention.
Jawad is the only detainee at Guantanamo who had been directly accused of war crimes before a military commission — a case that has faltered over claims that evidence against him was obtained by torture — and then won his release by a court order applying the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision. One detainee who had been convicted by a military commission was transferred out of Guantanamo after he had completed his sentence and thus was not further detained.
Jawad’s lawyers, after Thursday’s hearing, called the ruling mandating his release “a staggering victory” because he was the first detainee who had been “on the verge of a military trial” who had now won his freedom.
Jawad's story, from his Wikipedia link:
[...] Jawad was studying at a sixth or seventh-grade level at a school the United States later described as "Jihadi". When his mother re-married, his new stepfather kicked him out of the house.
Several years later, he was approached by four or six men at Qari Mosque in his hometown. They asked if he would be willing to take a lucrative job in Kabul, Afghanistan where recent government attention had been called to the need to remove landmines, and help clear Soviet-era mines from the region for a promised 12,000 Pakistani Rupees.
Jawad agreed, but said he would first need to secure the permission of his mother. The men told him to tell his family he had found a job across the border, but not to mention the details lest they worry about his safety. Some of his relatives tried to discourage him, saying he was too young for a job, but since his mother wasn't present, he decided to accompany the men.
He's alleged, at this age of either 12 or 17, to have thrown a grenade at a U.S. Humvee.
[...] Four American Humvees cordoned off the site of the attack, and Afghan police near the area arrested three men, holding Jawad and Ghulam Saki, while releasing a third suspect. A police officer said that he had seen one throw the grenade, and the other tackled by a fruit vendor as he prepared to throw a second. Jawad would later tell his tribunal that he had been handed devices he didn't recognise by the men with him, and told to put them in his pocket and wait for their return. When he went into his pocket to purchase raisins from a shopkeeper, he was asked why he had a "bomb" in his pocket - and the shopkeeper advised him to run and throw the two grenades in the river. It was while running toward the river, yelling at people to move aside because he had a bomb, that Jawad alleges he was "caught".
[...] Jawad tried to kill himself in December 2003.
In May 2004, two months after the military announced that it had ceased its "Frequent Flier" program of sleep deprivation by forcing detainees to shift cells every 2–4 hours, Jawad was given the same treatment, being woken up every 2 hours and 55 minutes, and moved to a new cell; which happened 112 times.
His 22nd interrogation was held in September 2004.
At this point, no matter what he possibly did, we have enough Afghans hostile to us in Afghanistan already. Even if he turns out to have been or become a determined jihadi, one damn more won't make any difference, and he's suffered enough. He deserves to be let go.
That's not even discussing the notion that he might just be a completely innocent kid who might have been only twelve when all this started.
The problems won't be cured until we deal with the culture of profit-seeking doctors:
[...] The question we’re now frantically grappling with is how this came to be, and what can be done about it. McAllen, Texas, the most expensive town in the most expensive country for health care in the world, seemed a good place to look for some answers.
Gawande found them.
[...] Health-care costs ultimately arise from the accumulation of individual decisions doctors make about which services and treatments to write an order for. The most expensive piece of medical equipment, as the saying goes, is a doctor’s pen. And, as a rule, hospital executives don’t own the pen caps. Doctors do.
If doctors wield the pen, why do they do it so differently from one place to another? Brenda Sirovich, another Dartmouth researcher, published a study last year that provided an important clue. She and her team surveyed some eight hundred primary-care physicians from high-cost cities (such as Las Vegas and New York), low-cost cities (such as Sacramento and Boise), and others in between. The researchers asked the physicians specifically how they would handle a variety of patient cases. It turned out that differences in decision-making emerged in only some kinds of cases. In situations in which the right thing to do was well established—for example, whether to recommend a mammogram for a fifty-year-old woman (the answer is yes)—physicians in high- and low-cost cities made the same decisions. But, in cases in which the science was unclear, some physicians pursued the maximum possible amount of testing and procedures; some pursued the minimum. And which kind of doctor they were depended on where they came from.
“In El Paso, if you took a random doctor and looked at his tax returns eighty-five per cent of his income would come from the usual practice of medicine,” he said. But in McAllen, the administrator thought, that percentage would be a lot less.
He knew of doctors who owned strip malls, orange groves, apartment complexes—or imaging centers, surgery centers, or another part of the hospital they directed patients to. They had “entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. They were innovative and aggressive in finding ways to increase revenues from patient care. “There’s no lack of work ethic,” he said. But he had often seen financial considerations drive the decisions doctors made for patients—the tests they ordered, the doctors and hospitals they recommended—and it bothered him. Several doctors who were unhappy about the direction medicine had taken in McAllen told me the same thing. “It’s a machine, my friend,” one surgeon explained.
No one teaches you how to think about money in medical school or residency. Yet, from the moment you start practicing, you must think about it. You must consider what is covered for a patient and what is not. You must pay attention to insurance rejections and government-reimbursement rules. You must think about having enough money for the secretary and the nurse and the rent and the malpractice insurance.
Beyond the basics, however, many physicians are remarkably oblivious to the financial implications of their decisions. They see their patients. They make their recommendations. They send out the bills. And, as long as the numbers come out all right at the end of each month, they put the money out of their minds.
Others think of the money as a means of improving what they do. They think about how to use the insurance money to maybe install electronic health records with colleagues, or provide easier phone and e-mail access, or offer expanded hours. They hire an extra nurse to monitor diabetic patients more closely, and to make sure that patients don’t miss their mammograms and pap smears and colonoscopies.
Then there are the physicians who see their practice primarily as a revenue stream. They instruct their secretary to have patients who call with follow-up questions schedule an appointment, because insurers don’t pay for phone calls, only office visits. They consider providing Botox injections for cash. They take a Doppler ultrasound course, buy a machine, and start doing their patients’ scans themselves, so that the insurance payments go to them rather than to the hospital. They figure out ways to increase their high-margin work and decrease their low-margin work. This is a business, after all.
In every community, you’ll find a mixture of these views among physicians, but one or another tends to predominate. McAllen seems simply to be the community at one extreme.
In a few cases, the hospital executive told me, he’d seen the behavior cross over into what seemed like outright fraud. “I’ve had doctors here come up to me and say, ‘You want me to admit patients to your hospital, you’re going to have to pay me.’ ”
“How much?” I asked.
“The amounts—all of them were over a hundred thousand dollars per year,” he said. The doctors were specific. The most he was asked for was five hundred thousand dollars per year.
He didn’t pay any of them, he said: “I mean, I gotta sleep at night.” And he emphasized that these were just a handful of doctors. But he had never been asked for a kickback before coming to McAllen.
Woody Powell is a Stanford sociologist who studies the economic culture of cities. Recently, he and his research team studied why certain regions—Boston, San Francisco, San Diego—became leaders in biotechnology while others with a similar concentration of scientific and corporate talent—Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York—did not. The answer they found was what Powell describes as the anchor-tenant theory of economic development. Just as an anchor store will define the character of a mall, anchor tenants in biotechnology, whether it’s a company like Genentech, in South San Francisco, or a university like M.I.T., in Cambridge, define the character of an economic community. They set the norms. The anchor tenants that set norms encouraging the free flow of ideas and collaboration, even with competitors, produced enduringly successful communities, while those that mainly sought to dominate did not.
Powell suspects that anchor tenants play a similarly powerful community role in other areas of economics, too, and health care may be no exception. I spoke to a marketing rep for a McAllen home-health agency who told me of a process uncannily similar to what Powell found in biotech. Her job is to persuade doctors to use her agency rather than others. The competition is fierce. I opened the phone book and found seventeen pages of listings for home-health agencies—two hundred and sixty in all. A patient typically brings in between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred dollars, and double that amount for specialized care. She described how, a decade or so ago, a few early agencies began rewarding doctors who ordered home visits with more than trinkets: they provided tickets to professional sporting events, jewelry, and other gifts. That set the tone. Other agencies jumped in. Some began paying doctors a supplemental salary, as “medical directors,” for steering business in their direction. Doctors came to expect a share of the revenue stream.
Agencies that want to compete on quality struggle to remain in business, the rep said. Doctors have asked her for a medical-director salary of four or five thousand dollars a month in return for sending her business. One asked a colleague of hers for private-school tuition for his child; another wanted sex.
“I explained the rules and regulations and the anti-kickback law, and told them no,” she said of her dealings with such doctors. “Does it hurt my business?” She paused. “I’m O.K. working only with ethical physicians,” she finally said.
About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this. But they failed to discourage those who did. So here, along the banks of the Rio Grande, in the Square Dance Capital of the World, a medical community came to treat patients the way subprime-mortgage lenders treated home buyers: as profit centers.
And that's the problem that none of the health care reform proposals addresses. Hardly the only problem, of course, as has been endlessly discussed. But a crucial one.
McALLEN, Tex. — One of the largest sources of campaign contributions to Senate Democrats during this year’s health care debate is a physician-owned hospital in one of the country’s poorest regions that has sought to soften measures that could choke its rapid growth.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee collected nearly $500,000 at a reception here on March 30, mostly from physicians and others affiliated with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, financial disclosure records show.
The event was held at the home of a prominent McAllen developer, Alonzo Cantu, a hospital founder, investor and board member who has raised prodigious sums from the Rio Grande Valley for an array of Democrats.
Another event at Mr. Cantu’s home, in September 2007, brought in at least $800,000 for the committee’s House counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to disclosure reports. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was in attendance and cut a ribbon at the hospital’s new women’s center while in town.
The hospital, which is in Edinburg, adjacent to McAllen, is working both sides of the aisle. Its political action committee, Border Health PAC, split $120,000 last year among House and Senate candidates, including Republicans.
Although Congressional negotiations over health care legislation are continuing, Doctors Hospital seems to be getting much of what it wants. Thus far, physician-owned hospitals have been insulated from some of the most onerous potential restrictions in the health care legislation moving through Congress.
Representative Pete Stark, a California Democrat who wants to clamp down on physician-owned hospitals, said their formidable lobbying had helped eliminate his proposal to limit physician ownership to 40 percent at any hospital.
“Particularly led by these guys in Texas, these guys who have been raising tons of money for contributions,” Mr. Stark said in an interview. “I am sure that some of my colleagues have been willing to hear them out.”
On at least three occasions in the last two months, delegations from McAllen have made the rounds of Capitol Hill to discuss their concerns, and blunt the effects of the New Yorker article.
One key provision would limit a hospital’s ownership by doctors to the level in place at the time of enactment. That is a change from previous language in House bills to restrict physician ownership to 40 percent. It would have forced Doctors Hospital, where physicians have an 82-percent stake, to be sold or required some of its owners to divest.
Mr. Stark said the change had been made “at a higher pay grade than mine.” The physician-owned hospitals, he said, “just thought they could buy their way out of it, and it’s a sad commentary on the Congress.”
Speaker Pelosi supported the tougher provisions in previous bills but aides said she was willing to accept a compromise to win the new restrictions.
Aides to Senator Max Baucus. Democrat of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee, and to Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican, said the Senate would never have adopted the 40 percent limit and that it was only fair to allow existing hospitals to maintain their ownership structures.
Whether or not there is cause and effect, some of the hospital’s beneficiaries have passionately supported its position. In November, the South Texas doctors raised nearly $60,000 for Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston. Last week, Ms. Lee, who has a physician-owned hospital in her district, inserted comments in The Congressional Record against restricting the hospitals’ growth. She did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
Disclosure reports show that about 220 donors from the McAllen area contributed to the Senate Democratic committee for the March event. Receipts totaled at least $425,000, about 2 percent of the group’s collections for the first half of the year.
“We’re not naïve,” said Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, a pediatric surgeon who gave $5,000. “We understand that politics plays a role in everything.”
EXPANDED VERSION, July 29th, 6:41 a.m.: Some quotes:
[...] Marquez was the first infantry soldier in his brigade to murder someone after returning from Iraq. But he wasn’t the last.
Marquez's 3,500-soldier unit — now called the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team — fought in some of the bloodiest places in Iraq, taking the most casualties of any Fort Carson unit by far.
Back home, 10 of its infantrymen have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter since 2006. Others have committed suicide, or tried to.
Almost all those soldiers were kids, too young to buy a beer, when they volunteered for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Almost none had serious criminal backgrounds. Many were awarded medals for good conduct.
But in the vicious confusion of battle in Iraq and with no clear enemy, many said training went out the window. Slaughter became a part of life. Soldiers in body armor went back for round after round of battle that would have killed warriors a generation ago. Discipline deteriorated. Soldiers say the torture and killing of Iraqi civilians lurked in the ranks. And when these soldiers came home to Colorado Springs suffering the emotional wounds of combat, soldiers say, some were ignored, some were neglected, some were thrown away and some were punished.
Some kept killing — this time in Colorado Springs.
Many of those soldiers are now behind bars, but their troubles still reach well beyond the walls of their cells — and even beyond the Army. Their unit deployed again in May, this time to one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions, near Khyber Pass.
This month, Fort Carson released a 126-page report by a task force of behavioral-health and Army professionals who looked for common threads in the soldiers’ crimes. They concluded that the intensity of battle, the long-standing stigma against seeking help, and shortcomings in substance-abuse and mental-health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes,” but more study was needed.
Marquez, who was arrested before the latest programs were created, said he would never have pulled the trigger if he had not gone to Iraq.
“If I was just a guy off the street, I might have hesitated to shoot,” Marquez said this spring as he sat in the Bent County Correctional Facility, where he is serving 30 years. “But after Iraq, it was just natural.”
More killing by more soldiers followed.
In August 2007, Louis Bressler, 24, robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.
In December 2007, Bressler and fellow soldiers Bruce Bastien Jr., 21, and Kenneth Eastridge, 24, left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a west-side street.
In May and June 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla, 20, and Jomar Falu-Vives, 23, drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.
In September 2008, police say John Needham, 25, beat a former girlfriend to death.
Most of the killers were from a single 500-soldier unit within the brigade called the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, which nicknamed itself the “Lethal Warriors.”
Soldiers from other units at Fort Carson have committed crimes after deployments — military bookings at the El Paso County jail have tripled since the start of the Iraq war — but no other unit has a record as deadly as the soldiers of the 4th Brigade. The vast majority of the brigade’s soldiers have not committed crimes, but the number who have is far above the population at large. In a one-year period from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008, the murder rate for the 500 Lethal Warriors was 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs.
The battalion is overwhelmingly made up of young men, who, demographically, have the highest murder rate in the United States, but the brigade still has a murder rate 20 times that of young males as a whole.
The killings are only the headline-grabbing tip of a much broader pyramid of crime. Since 2005, the brigade’s returning soldiers have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, DUIs, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides.
Why has this been happening? For the most part, these were good kids before they left, fine young men. But, of course:
[...] Eastridge, an infantry specialist now serving 10 years for accessory to murder, said it will take a lot to wipe away the stain of Iraq.
“The Army trains you to be this way. In bayonet training, the sergeant would yell, ‘What makes the grass grow?’ and we would yell, ‘Blood! Blood! Blood!’ as we stabbed the dummy. The Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill everybody, kill everybody. And you do. Then they just think you can just come home and turn it off. ... If they don’t figure out how to take care of the soldiers they trained to kill, this is just going to keep happening.”
[...] Ramadi, where Marquez landed, had a population the size of Colorado Springs but had no dependable electricity, let alone law and order. Sewage ran in rubble-choked streets. The temperature sometimes rose to 120 degrees.
And when roadside bombs blew civilians to bits, soldiers said, packs of feral dogs fought over the scraps.
Pat Dollard, a documentary filmmaker embedded in the area at the time, wrote that it looked like “Satan had punched a hole in the Earth’s surface, plopped down his throne, and set up shop.”
Soldiers went out day and night, knocking on doors — sometimes kicking them in. They set up checkpoints. They seized weapons. They clapped hoods over suspected insurgents. They rarely found terrorists, but the terrorists found them.
A few days into the deployment, a sniper’s bullet killed Marquez’s lieutenant. Then another friend died in a car bombing. Then another.
Combat brigades always take higher casualties than the rest of the Army because they fight on the front lines, but, even by those standards, the 3,500-soldier brigade got pummeled. Sixty-four were killed and more than 400 were injured in the yearlong tour, according to Fort Carson — double the average for all Army brigades that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the insurgents learned their craft, attacks became more gruesome.
A truck loaded with explosives careened into Eastridge’s platoon, killing his squad leader, blowing fist-size holes in his platoon sergeant and pinning the burning engine against the baby of the unit, Jose Barco.
Bombs meant to kill soldiers shredded anyone in the area. Women had their arms ripped off. Old men along the road were reduced to meat.
“It just got sickening,” said David Nash, a then-19-year-old private and Eastridge’s best friend. “There was a massive amount of hate for us in the city.”
One of the jobs of the infantry was to bag Iraqi bodies tossed in the streets at night by sectarian murder squads.
“First thing in the morning, all we would do is bag bodies,” Eastridge said. “Guys with drill bits in their eyes. Guys with nails in their heads.”
Eastridge said he was targeted by snipers twice. Both bullets smashed against walls so close to his face that they peppered his eyes with grit. He laughed at his luck. He loved being a soldier.
In February 2005, Eastridge was in the gun turret of his Humvee when it drove over an anti-tank mine. A deafening flash tore off the front end. Eastridge woke up a few minutes later, several feet from the smoking crater.
He sucked it up. He was bandaged up and sent back on patrol. He said cerebral fluid was leaking out of his ear.
That was the job of the infantry. Eastridge’s battalion was created in World War II and became known as the “Band of Brothers.” It parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In Vietnam, it helped turn back the Tet Offensive and take Hamburger Hill.
Men who heard the stories of past glory almost never got a chance for their own in Iraq. The enemy was invisible. The leading cause of death was hidden roadside bombs.
Sometimes, Marquez felt his only purpose was to drive up and down roads in an armored personnel carrier called a Bradley to clear away hidden bombs.
To unwind, soldiers spent hours playing shoot-’em-up video games. They even played one based on their own unit in Vietnam. They said it offered a release. They could confront a clearly defined enemy. They could shoot, knowing they had the right guy. They could win.
In Ramadi, Marquez and other soldiers said, it felt like they were losing.
“It just seemed like the longer we were there, the worse it got,” said Marquez’s friend in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, Daniel Freeman.
Freeman was knocked unconscious by a roadside bomb, but the most rattling thing, he said, was driving through the eerie calm, knowing an improvised explosive device, or IED, could kill every soldier in a Humvee without warning, or maybe just smoke one guy in the truck, leaving the others to wonder how, and why, they survived.
Hatred and mistrust simmered between soldiers and locals. Locals who waved to them one day would watch silently as they drove toward an IED the next.
“I’m all about spreading freedom and democracy and everything,” said Josh Butler, another soldier in the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. “But it seems like the Iraqis didn’t even want it.”
Soldiers said discipline started to break down.
“Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated,” Freeman said. “You came too close, we lit you up. You didn’t stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley.”
If soldiers were hit by an IED, they would aim machine guns and grenade launchers in every direction, Marquez said, and “just light the whole area up. If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked ’em.”
Other soldiers said they shot random cars, killing civilians.
“It was just a free-for-all,” said Marcus Mifflin, 21, a friend of Eastridge who was medically discharged with PTSD after the tour. “You didn’t get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong. And that was hard. So things happened. Taxi drivers got shot for no reason. Guys got kidnapped and taken to the bridge and interrogated and dropped off.”
Summary of much of the rest: more shit happened. Then:
[...] Post-traumatic stress disorder is like a roadside bomb.
The symptoms can remain hidden for months, then explode. They can cripple some soldiers and leave others untouched. And just like bombs disguised as trash or ruts in the road, PTSD can look like something else.
In many cases, it looks like a bad soldier. In addition to flashbacks and nightmares, Army studies say, symptoms can include heavy drinking, drug use, domestic violence, slacking off at work or disobeying orders.
You can often see it coming, said the most recent commanding general of Fort Carson, if you know what to look for.
When the brigade landed in Colorado Springs, most soldiers had spent a year in Iraq and a year in South Korea. Most had saved several thousand dollars. Many were old enough to legally drink in the United States for the first time. They had survived the worst of Iraq, and they were jonesing to blow off steam.
All they had to do was go through a few post-deployment debriefings that Fort Carson still uses.
Soldiers sit through classes that warn them that troops often have unrealistically rosy notions of home. They are told to be understanding with spouses and loved ones. They are cautioned to be careful with drinking and driving, and they are warned that the time for carrying a gun everywhere ended in Iraq.
All personal guns must be stored in the post’s armory — not in soldiers’ barracks, not in their cars and not tucked in their belts.
Then Fort Carson screens every soldier for PTSD and other combat-related problems.
If there are no red flags, the soldier can go on leave. If there are, they are referred for further diagnosis, officials at Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital said.
What inevitably happens? What do you think happens when something is put in front of your leave after a year in hell?
The screening asks soldiers a long list of questions about the deployment: Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you depressed? Did you clear houses or bunkers? Were you shot at? Did you witness brutality toward detainees? Did you have friends who were killed?
“Did you shoot people? Did you kill people? Did you see dead civilians? Did you see dead Americans? Did you see dead babies? No. No. No. No.” Eastridge said, mimicking how he answered the questionnaire.
“I had seen and done all that stuff, but you just lie to get it over with.”
Several soldiers said the same: They lied because they didn’t want the hassle of more screening.
Inevitable result: more crimes, lots of PTSD, lots of trouble adjusting to life no longer in hell, with reflexes developed in hell:
[...] Eastridge said he blew through almost $27,000, mostly drinking at bars, but the first thing he did was buy guns: pistols, shotguns and an assault rifle similar to the one he carried in Iraq.
“After being in Iraq, it feels like everyone is the enemy,” he said. “You feel like you need a gun so they don’t come to get you.”
His friends all felt the same way.
Nash slept with a loaded .45 under his pillow.
Butler kept a Glock .40-caliber with him all the time, even when he rocked his newborn baby.
Marquez bought three pistols, a riot-style shotgun and an assault rifle like the one he carried in Iraq. He carried a pistol constantly, he said, even when he went to church.
His buddy, Freeman, said he bought himself a “big, scary” snub-nose .357 revolver.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without it,” he said. “I took it to the mall. I took it to the bank. I even had it right next to me when I took a shower. It makes you feel powerful, less scared. You have to have it with you every second of every day.”
Some returning soldiers, especially those with family members to notice their behavior, went into counseling.
More than 200 Fort Carson soldiers have been referred to First Choice Counseling Center, a private counseling service in Colorado Springs. Davida Hoffman, the director, said her counselors were unprepared for what they heard.
“We’re used to seeing people who are depressed and want to hurt themselves. We’re trained to deal with that,” she said. “But these soldiers were depressed and saying, ‘I’ve got this anger, I want to hurt somebody.’ We weren’t accustomed to that.”
In units that have seen the toughest combat in Iraq, one in four soldiers can screen positive for PTSD, the director of psychiatry at Walter Reed, Dr. Charles Hoge, said in an e-mail interview.
How do people respond?
[...] When a soldier faces constant threat of attack, studies suggest, the brain is flooded with adrenaline, dopamine and other performance-enhancing chemicals that the body naturally produces in a fight-or-flight response. Over time, the brain can crave these stimulants, like a junkie for his fix.
When the stimulant of combat is taken away, soldiers often have trouble sleeping, said Sister Kateri Koverman, a social worker who has counseled people in war zones for almost 40 years. They can feel irritable, numb and paranoid, she said. They can sink into depression.
And they can search for another substance to replace the rush of war.
“Often they’ll use booze or drugs to mask their symptoms until they become explosive,” said Koverman, who moved to Colorado Springs from her convent in Ohio this year to help with the wave of PTSD. “We have a public disaster here, and no one really knows how to deal with it.”
Men from the unit mostly dealt with it on their own.
Mifflin got deep into smoking pot to ease his nerves.
Nash was mixing pills and booze.
Eastridge got blotto on whatever.
Butler said he and a lot of guys started doing Ecstasy and cocaine.
Marquez started destroying himself with the pills that were supposed to help him.
For his injuries, he said, doctors at Evans prescribed him 90 morphine pills, 90 Percocets, and five fentanyl patches every three weeks.
“They were for pain,” he said. “And I still had pain. But, mostly, I was using them to get high.”
He could not get Iraq out of his head. Doctors prescribed antidepressants and sleeping pills, but he said they didn’t help. He was saving up Percocet, then downing a handful on an empty stomach.
He said he started trading his morphine with other soldiers for an antipsychotic called quetiapine and an anti-anxiety drug called clonazepam. Improper use of either can cause psychotic reactions, anxiety, panic attacks, aggressiveness and suicidal behavior, but, Marquez said, injured soldiers traded them like children in a lunchroom swapping desserts.
“It was real common among the guys who were hurt,” Marquez said.
At one point, Marquez said, he ate his three-week supply of meds in half the time, then went back to Evans claiming he had lost his pills.
Eventually, with some, the crimes start. The initial result at Fort Carson?
[...] The psychiatric ward was overwhelmed by soldiers, he said. Cases of PTSD at Fort Carson had climbed from 26 in 2002 to more than 600 in 2006, according to the hospital. Getting an appointment could take weeks, soldiers said. Counseling in the ward, in most cases, was in group settings only.
Freeman said the hospital staff prescribed him antidepressants and told him they were so busy that he wouldn’t receive counseling for a month.
Some commanders punished soldiers for displaying PTSD symptoms, soldiers said.
Mifflin, who is now unemployed and lives in his mother’s house in Florida, went to a Fort Carson psychiatrist for counseling because he said he sometimes wanted to kill civilians in Colorado Springs. The psychiatrist checked him into Cedar Springs, an inpatient mental hospital in Colorado Springs. He stayed for about a week, he said.
“As soon as I got out, I had a scheduled bitching session with the sergeant so he could yell at me about what a liar I was,” he said. “After they found out a guy was getting evaluated for PTSD, they would try to find any little thing to kick him out.”
Dozens of soldiers who screened positive for PTSD received an “other than honorable” discharge from the Army — the equivalent of being kicked out — for infractions such as missing duty and drug use, Pogany said. If soldiers are kicked out, they often aren’t eligible for free health care, counseling or other benefits that soldiers who are medically discharged with PTSD receive. Often, Pogany said, that means veterans who need help the most don’t get it.
In one example case:
[...] On Oct. 22, 2006, three days before Marquez was scheduled to be honorably discharged, he limped down to the Widefield drug dealer’s basement, carrying a .45-caliber pistol in one hand and a 500,000-volt stun gun in the other. He shocked the dealer — 19-year-old Smith — with the stun gun and grabbed his stash of marijuana, according to witness statements to El Paso County sheriff’s investigators. When the dealer tried to fight back, investigators say, Marquez shot him through the heart, picked up the shell casings, grabbed the weed and walked out.
Prosecutors said he was planning a robbery. Marquez said he was just there to buy some weed and, when a fight started over the price, his infantry reflexes took over.
“When someone grabs you or something, you’re going to light ’em up,” he said. “It probably won’t even be that hard because it’s not like it’s your first time.”
And where would Marquez have been if not for this incident?
[...] The day Marquez was arrested, his brigade was on its way back to Iraq.
They were sent to tame the one spot in the country that was more dangerous than their first assignment: downtown Baghdad.
Imagine what happens when you're on multiple tours of hell.
A lot more shit followed. This is where you just have to read the whole story for yourself, from top to bottom. The stories are harrowing, and worse than you can imagine.
The one small item of good that can be pulled from all this is from early in the story:
[...] Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, who took command of Fort Carson in the thick of the murders and ordered marked changes in how returning soldiers are treated, said he hopes so.
“When we see a problem, we try to identify it and really learn what we can do about it. That is what we are trying to do here,” Graham said in a June interview. “There is a culture and a stigma that need to change.”
Under his command, nearly everyone — from colonels to platoon sergeants — is now trained to help troops showing the signs of emotional stress. Fort Carson has doubled its number of behavioral-health counselors and tightened hospital regulations to the point where a soldier visiting an Army doctor for any reason, even a sprained ankle, can’t leave without a mental health evaluation. Graham has also volunteered Fort Carson as a testing ground for new Army programs to ease soldiers’ transition from war to home.
[...] Graham, who had one son killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq a year after his other son committed suicide while training to be an officer, made mental health a focus after taking command of Fort Carson.
He said suicide and homicide are “different reactions to the same or similar problem. You treat both in the same way.”
Under his watch, Fort Carson more than doubled the number of mental health counselors. A new Army program will soon give each brigade a “master resiliency trainer” to strengthen troops’ psychological fitness the way drill sergeants strengthen their muscles. A special unit has been created to track soldiers who are too physically or psychologically wounded to stay with their battalions. Soldiers visiting a doctor at Fort Carson for even a sprained ankle are now screened for symptoms of PTSD and depression. And perhaps most important, Graham said, in the Army, where mental illness has long been taboo, commanders at Fort Carson are being trained to tell soldiers it is OK to seek treatment.
“There is a culture and a stigma that need to change,” Graham said.
It is unclear if the new measures can counter the entrenched Army culture or the effects of repeated deployments. Though some of the new programs have been in place for two years, the violence has not stopped.
Colorado Springs police arrested a Fort Carson soldier from the Lethal Warriors in May in the killing of a 19-year-old woman. Another soldier shot himself in the head this year. Another was arrested on suspicion of breaking a civilian’s jaw in March. Another is awaiting trial in the shooting of a pregnant woman.
Graham, who handed over command of the post last week, said Fort Carson is doing everything it can to help its soldiers. “I wish I could predict how all this is going to go,” he said. “I can’t say it is not going to happen again.”
So maybe more treatment can help. In some cases it will. Inevitably, in some cases it won't. As Estridge says:
[...] Eastridge, an infantry specialist now serving 10 years for accessory to murder, said it will take a lot to wipe away the stain of Iraq.
That's the cost of our "success" in Iraq.
Always remember that, and this is what sending our young, even our finest, to war does to them, and to us.
All your life, whenever someone proposes war as a solution, even a non-protracted "military intervention" to help: remember: this is among the results. This is the cost we pay, just to ourselves alone, let alone the foreigners we kill and whose way of life we destroy.
Freedom isn't free. Killing to create freedom? It kills.
And this is how we leave some of our bravest and finest:
[...] After two tours in Iraq, Eastridge was depressed, paranoid, violent, abusing drugs and haunted by nightmares. But because he was other-than-honorably discharged, he said, he was ineligible for benefits or health care. He was no longer Uncle Sam’s problem. He was on his own.
“I had no job training,” he said. “All I know how to do is kill people.”
This is what war does.
And, very last of all, what's going to happen in Afghanistan with our trained and experienced soldiers being redeployed?
[...] With every arrest of a fellow soldier, he was shocked, he said, but he does not think it is just coincidence that so many guys in the unit are now in jail.
“These are all younger guys. They are just kids, straight out of high school, from mom’s house to basic training to Iraq. You throw them in a tour like this, and there is going to be an aftermath,” he said. “Time was, before I really understood it, my reaction would have been ‘fry ’em.’ But now I can empathize. . . If they did what they did, fine, they have to answer to the justice system, but these guys like Eastridge who tried so hard and loved the Army . . . they are a casualty of war. Their psyches are casualties of war.”
He agreed that the deployment to Afghanistan will be different from the ones that he said screwed up his friends.
“There is much more attention to the mental side,” he said. “I’ve been trained to do stress debriefings and suicide prevention. I remember a time in the Army when mental health was taboo. It was career over. That’s not the case anymore.”
But, he said, the stigma is alive and well, especially among infantrymen.
“There’s still a feeling that if you got to go see the doc, you’re a punk. There are a lot of people who still feel that way. I’m not going to lie to you, I do,” he said.
Real soldiers, he said, “just suck it up.”
“That’s what I do. I think I was given a God-given talent to suck it up. Horrible things happen, I suck it up. I don’t let it bother me.”
In March Cardenaz was arrested in a felony assault.
He was walking with his wife past The Thirsty Parrot on Tejon Street, in full dress uniform after the Lethal Warriors’ annual ball, when some civilians hanging out in front of the bar said something. Or maybe Cardenaz said something to them. Witnesses say the sergeant dropped one with a single punch. When another guy came after him to ask why he did it, police say, Cardenaz broke his jaw.
The soldier posted bail and did not show up for his court hearing July 15.
His lawyer told the judge that Cardenaz had deployed to Afghanistan.
WE NEED A NEW PLAY. As here: "Now he might not have said these things if he was thinking more clearly. And they don't justify or excuse retaliation by Crowley, even if Crowley rightly thinks they are unfair."
Myself, I tend to think that more than enough has been said all around, in the blogosphere and mainstream media, about Officer Crowley, and Henry Louis Gates, and their roles in this incident. What's important here isn't at all these individuals.
They're just characters in a play, a play that plays all over our country, with slight and large variants, every day, every place.
What's useful is discussion of the meaning of the play, not of the characters. In the variants of the play that play out every day, after all, the characters change, but the play remains basically the same.
And this is a play that has run its course. It has seen too many variants, and not enough variety. It has become a play so dull no one pays it any attention any more.
I RAMBLE ON THE NATURE OF POLITICShere: "In short, what Gary Farber says about our two-party system."
This isn't to say that all the other systems, such as proportional representation in its many forms, having a multitude of parties in a parliament/congress, etc., don't have major problems, as well.
Government is hard. Democracy is hard. This is why I value the people who put much effort and thought into improving them, and don't so much value those who simply are convinced that government is nothing but evil.
Rather, government can, and often will, be used for evil, and that's why it's up to us to do our best to prevent that as much as we can, and to do what we can to get government to do good, insofar as we can incrementally make agreements amongst ourselves by, at least, working majorities, since few things are subject to consensus, human beings being disagreeable and opinionated sorts, and coming from many different subcultures and points of view and differing beliefs about all sorts of matters.
But we really have no other choice in the matter.
One can, of course, choose to walk away as far as possible from the system, but that doesn't get you out from under it; it just means you're choosing, for better or worse, to accept no responsibility for trying to improve it.
There is, of course, a viable argument that improvement in government is so difficult that it verges on impossible, and thus the only responsible response is to walk away from it, if not actively rebel against it, in one form or another.
I don't think our government in America is nearly bad enough to warrant armed rebellion, myself. Nor do I even believe that incremental improvements are impossible; I think we've seen them, along with periodic retrograde steps, throughout our history. I believe we can continue to make such two steps forward, one step back, one step forward, two steps back, improvements.
But it's a long, hard, slow, frustrating-as-hell, downright infuriating, depressing, process, that most people can't take for very long without suffering either terminal cynicism or burnout, if not outright corruption.
(Corruption is arguably a product of cynicism and burnout combined, assuming there was any idealism there to start, which isn't, unfortunately, always a safe assumption; there's something to be said for the fact that government is also a form of power, and attractive to many people who wish to exercise power of one sort of another for reasons that are not what I, at least, would deem a good).
I wish more radical change were possible far more quickly. But even I have a limit on how radically I'd want things to change, and how quickly: people are inherently conservative, in a non-political sense, and understandably suspicious of change. And people are fallible and not gods, and the Law Of Unintended Consequences is always there. This is why I think some of the original principles of old-fashioned conservatism, as well as those of liberalism, are also valuable, at least to consider, and maintain some balance between the poles of necessary change, and change that is too ill-thought-out, that might wind up making matters worse.
But I'm back to still wanting more radical change more quickly than we can get, within the above stated caveat. I don't seek a communist revolution. I don't seek a revolution, in the classic sense of any kind. Not any violent one, god knows: they eat their young, and endless numbers of people suffer, as in any war, no matter the ideal originally sought, or even ultimately gained.
I wish there were a way to have my cake and eat it, too: to have what one might oxymoronically call "moderately radical change reasonably quickly."
And that brings us back to the boring, frustrating, mind-numbing, horrors and frustrations of being incremental.
If anyone has any better suggestions, that don't involve arms, I'm all ears. More Gandhian protest over issues such as torture, perhaps. More education, always. I think blogging is a public good. There are all sorts of little things we can do in our daily lives: small steps. Talking to our neighbors and co-workers and friends and relatives and people on the internet. Volunteering in organizations whose goals and efforts we support. Those who have money can contribute. We can all try to contribute where we can.
But now I'm wandering into the banal, so it's time to stop.
My sum: we try what we try, and it's necessary we try, and best of luck to the anarchists and extreme libertarians who think they can more or less make it on their own, or more to the point, that we all can.
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.
But I've so long been in the habit of writing so much at Obsidian Wings, without being a blogger there, only a commenter there, I thought I'd try posting a few of my more substantive comments here, and see how it goes. Beg pardon if I become too gaseous. As usual, I say more in that thread, though, if you're interested.
7/26/2009 03:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
I'VE LOST TRACK OF HOW MANY TIMES I've said a variant of this, too: "Is there an objective standard by which to measure actions; or is 'racism' a state of mind separable from action wherein a true kindness becomes a racist act if the doer has a 'racist' frame of mind?"
I'll repeat again that "racist" isn't a binary thing, and I'll also repeat again that it's usually far more helpful to think of racism and the other isms as things that we might do or say, rather than as identities people are.
It's something to discuss as a matter of degrees, often small degrees, rather than as a Definer Of A Person's Evil Nature. Saying someone let slip a racist comment, or treated someone in a perhaps only faintly different manner, or a moderately different manner, than they would someone they categorize otherwise, and make other assumptions about, is not an accusation the equivalent of being in the KKK, and people have to stop thinking of racism in such dated terms.
They really do. It's just destructive to making any progress on racial issues for people to keep thinking in these "all or nothing" terms, and in these terms whereas someone is either defined As A Racist or As A Not-Racist.
That's. Just. Not. How. It. Works.
People are not, save in extreme cases, "sexist" or "non-sexist." Instead, on some occasions, they'll make a sexist assumption. Somethings they'll then catch themselves, sometimes they won't. Sometimes they will if someone points it out to them, and/or explains it, and sometimes they won't. And so on, through degrees of frequency of both doing such things, and catching such things, and then in how we choose or are able to respond to such words or acts we have made and may then regret, or may not.
Same goes for racism, homophobia, antisemitism, anti-Islamic prejudice, anti-transgender prejudice, and simply all the various ways that people can put other people into a category of peple, where they can make an assumption or speak of that category, rather than purely of a person solely as an individual. And, frankly, it would take some kind of Martian to be that free of our culture and all its assumptions and images we are more or less daily programmed with to one degree or another.
And, no surprise, people who fall into one or more of the categories that tends to be disrespected more than others, or is more minority than others, tend to have more experience with what it's like to deal with the ill effects of other people's such assumptions and stupid remarks and acts and responses.
Which probably means that it's more worth listening to the people with more experience with the problem than to the people with less experience. As one would observe of any topic.
"This, after all, is one of the preeminent scholars in the nation of the black experience in america. Does he have clear perceptions?"
At every single moment of his life? I don't know Professor Gates, but I'm sure the answer is "no," given that he's a human being, not a god. I'm sure that like everyone else, when he's very tired, and ill, he's more cranky than he otherwise would be. I think those are safe assumptions.
Similarly, I'm sure that any cop getting less than abject obeisance is apt to start getting more riled the less abject the person he's dealing with is. Period.
COMPUTER BLEG. So, can anyone tell me what steps you can take if you had a program -- a game, say -- installed on an external drive that no longer exists -- and when you try to reinstall it via DVD, the program on the DVD first believes that the program is still living on your computer, but won't "uninstall" it because it can't find it, and yet won't allow you to reinstall it because it believes it's still there.
I've tried using CC Cleaner to clean the registry; most of my other maintenance programs disappeared with the primary external drive that died. Neither does the "programs" control panel that's part of the OS find the relevant programs to uninstall them.
I should make clear I'm running Windows Vista 6.0, Service Pack 2. I'll be happy to answer any other questions for anyone who can help with this problem. Thanks.
I'VE LOST TRACK OF THE NUMBER OF TIMES I'VE LIVED THROUGH ONE OF THESE.
I went to sleep last night around 1:15 a.m. I was awakened by banging on my room's door around 6:10 a.m., and a shout of "the house is on fire!"
Sleeping naked, I pulled on some shorts, not stopping for underwear, as quickly as possible, and a shirt, and ascertaining that the fire was apparently very small and unthreatening, after running outside to establish this, ran back inside to unplug and grab my external hard drives, throw them in a bag, along with my cash, and run back outside, to stow them in my landlord's car. Shortly thereafter, I went back for the recently acquired replacement computer for the one that had died just a handful of months ago.
And then watched the firefighters from the three trucks, as they pulled material off the wall on the side of the house, hose it down, etc.
The fire was small, causing only a few square feet of damage to the outside of the house, and a small hole in the wall to the 16-year-old's bedroom.
At present, there remains no power upstairs. The cause appears to have been a lightning strike last night, around 3 a.m., that I slept through, but which woke everyone else up, and which seems to have caused a short in the house wiring, thus causing the eventual fire, which wasn't noticed until about 6:10 a.m, by virtue of my hostess, my ex-girlfriend, smelling smoke.
The insurance evaluators have already come and gone. The electrician is supposed to be arriving this afternoon; one thing to be determined is if I'll be able to get all the power back on in my room, which has had circuit failing problems before.
Meanwhile, I'm working downstairs on the MacBook that Nicholas Weininger so incredibly kindly donated to me a couple of months ago. I'm still very unused to the Mac OS, as well as this keyboard, as well as the use of the trackpad, as well as plenty of other quirks of working the Mac, so my online communication will be more limited than usual until such time as either I can start using my desktop computer in my own room again, or I get a lot more comfortable with this MacBook, which is still a godsend from the god, Nicholas Weininger, to whom all thanks.
I've lost track at this point how many fires I've lived through. There was the major one in 1991, in the five-story walk-up, that I barely survived, being unable to get out down the stairs, due to the severity of the flames, and which led to me having to dive through flames emitting from apartments below me on the fire escape, which also took place in the dead winter of December, in Washington Heights, Manhattan, and I had to grapple with the fire escape being encased in ice, one of the biggest blizzards of the season having just taken place; I dropped into two feet of snow, barefoot, after barely managing to dislodge the ladder at the bottom of the second floor, which was severely stuck; hysterical strength came through, and I got out a woman and her child following me who couldn't have lifted the ladder; we would have had to jump two flights, instead of one, otherwise.
That fire started in the apartment diagonally below mine, after some kids stuffed firecrackers in their air conditioner.
Then there was the small fire at the house in Seattle in the early Eighties, where someone aggravated by the people living in the small basement apartment below us, who were drug dealers, pulled a metal garbage can filled with wood and flamnable material up against their door and wall, and set it alight, sending a small fire up the wall, but mainly just causing a lot of scorching before we got 911 to send firefighters to put it out.
And I'm sure I'm blanking out right now, on some earlier fire experience.
I don't care for fires in dwellings, I must say, but in this case I'm immensely grateful it was so relatively minor, and completely non-life-threatening, and didn't even damage any of my possessions beyond a dented file cabinet from the firefighters throwing it around, along with other of my stuff, to get at a crawl space.
Whereas in the previous fire, of 1991 -- in which I lost three quarters of my stuff -- I was convinced for a time that I was about to die, when I realized there was no possibility of getting out through the major flames in the main stair well, and before I realized the fire escape was a possibility, but then again was unsure of what would happen with trying to descend the fire escape through flames shooting out of windows below from the five-story walk-up. Fortunately, I got only trivial burns. And after a while, a nice neighbor noticed I was standing barefoot in two feet of snow, and sent her son to get a spare pair of sneakers, which she donated to me. People can be good and nice, an observation that has sustained my life, and made up for all the examples of people being shitty assholes I've also had occasion to witness.
So how have you been?
ADDENDUM, 8:28 p.m.: In the category of good news: while I was asleep for a couple of hours, the breaker got replaced, and power restored for the time being in my room. I've reconnected various fans and other devices. The password for the house router was changed, but after some problems, I've been able to get the PowerBook to recognize it, and have internet access on this PowerBook again.
In the category of bad news: remember the computer I had to get just couple of months ago? That's my destop computer, that I use for everything. This MacBook, while a godsend, is just an emergency backup, and I still haven't figured out how to do the most obvious things with it, such as write a note to myself, or do anything that's the equivalent of right-clicking on a Windows machine; I can barely use the keyboard; etc.
Anyway, the external lights and fans come on for the new desktop computer, and the monitor seems to be working fine, and they seem to be connected, but I can't get any result other than a blank black screen, no matter what I've tried so far.
Now, the computer was turned on and off a bunch of times in the course of the various power failures. Plus, we had a lightning strike in the backyard last night, which is what caused the whole power overload that shorted the wiring in the wall that started the fire.
So I'm definitely worried that some internal component of the new computer is fried and inoperable. At the moment, I can't think of what else to do about this. If possible, I'll try, when I can, to arrange for testing both computer and monitor with someone else by respectively plugging them into someone else's respective monitor and computers and seeing what works or doesn't. I don't know how soon that will be possible; my relationships with all but one of the people in this house are not good, and the one who is okay with me, the owner, has left for the weekend. (And is a Mac person, besides, fwiw.)
Anyway, right now I'm left only with the PowerBook for communication, and not much else, until I can figure out if the desktop computer problem is just something I'm not figuring out. (It can't be very complicated, from an external perspective: there's power to both computer and monitor, but when put together, there's no visible result.)
I'm naturally in no position to be paying for diagnostics and all, let alone the idea of having to buy another computer within two months of buying one that already took up most of my savings.
So that's my primary concern right now, on top of all of my other, longer term, worries. But at least the fans are on, I have internet access in a very clumsy way, and even tv. Etc. So things could be much much much worse, and I'm very grateful that they're not.
More update when something significant happens; I won't be doing casual blogging until I get the desktop computer working again, as it's just too much of a pain in the butt to use this PowerBook, for me, for now, more than minimally.
Donations via the PayPal buttons more than welcome.
ADDENDUM, 9:23 p.m.: I spoke too soon about having tv working. For some reason, I can't get it to produce sound; it's not the cable box; the same problem exists via the DVD player. No sound. Yes, I've checked the plugs. Will eventually figure it out, presumably.
I sure wish I could get my main computer working; right now I just want to sit back and try to relax with one of my computer games. Oh, well.
ADDENDUM, July 25th, 7:01 p.m.: I've discovered that in addition to apparently having blown out the speakers of my tv, along with the house's router and cable modem, and my new computer, that the lightning strike also killed my (donated; thanks, Phil!) X-Box. It's a good thing I remembered I can play DVDs on this MacBook, or otherwise my only remaining entertainment would be, gasp, books, but it's all still pretty sucky. At this point, it seems clear that something got fried in the new computer. I also can't get two out of three of the external drives to boot up on Mac Book. I'm going to look into paying someone to diagnose the computer, at least, and see what can or can't be done, but it's all costs I can't afford, of course, when my whole income, for now, such as it is, is subscriptions/donations. Anyone who would like to help out by either taking out a subscription, or sending a donation, per the PayPal buttons on the sidebar, is more than welcome to. Many thanks, if you do.
UPDATE, July 25, 9:57 p.m.: Very good news, along with some remaining annoyances. Biggest news: I've restored the main desktop computer. Er, turns out I'm an idiot, and simply forgot that there were two places to plug the monitor into: the primary monitor slot, and the graphics card monitor slot. I had been plugging it back into the primary slot, where nothing showed up. I finally realized this a couple of hours ago, and realized the computer itself was basically fine.
One of my external hard drives seems to have definitely died, though; it won't work on either this machine or the MacBook, although la-di-da, it does light up. But won't connect, so that seems to be that. On the plus side, it was primarily just my back-up drive, so although I've lost my back-ups, and a bunch of games, and some minor programs and such, I don't think I've lost anything vital. The games can be reinstalled, at the cost of some time, and if I find there are any programs I've lost that I really need, the same applies.
Remaining on the annoying side: for some reason, I've lost the ability to generate working sound out of the computer. It has "Realtek Digital Output," and the Sound manager in the Windows control panel says that's working, but that its "speakers" are "not plugged in." This despite it being an internal device.
On the plus side, I had this problem once before, and eventually figured out how to fix it. On the down side, I have no memory of how, it was so complicated, so who knows how long it will be before I'll have sound again. So I have a tv with no sound, and a computer with no sound. (Although I can haul out the MacBook if I just want to listen to music, or make a special special effort to see something on YouTube.)
There's a long list of other problems I had to fix I won't bore you with. And the other remaining mid-sized problem is that my USB hubs either aren't working, or are simply not yet reconnected properly; hopefully, the latter.
UPDATE, July 25th, 10:53 p.m.: Sound problem on the computer fixed. Once more, I'm not really sure what I did, but it happened. Anyone want a tv with no sound output, though?
And I still haven't figured out if the external DVD drive is dead, or what. Seems like, since I can't seem to get it recognized by the computer any more, but I haven't quite given up entirely yet. But all that's endurable for now. And all in all, even with a hard drive to have to replace, a dead x-box, an unusable tv (I can't even figure out how to get closed captioning on it to work), and maybe an external DVD drive dead, given that the computer is okay after all, I count myself lucky.
UPDATE, July 25th, 11:29 p.m.: Oh, crap, the internal DVD drive, though recognized by the computer, doesn't seem to be actually recognizing any discs put in it.
UPDATE, July 26th, 12:01 a.m.: I realize this is boring the crap out of anyone who isn't me, by now, but for the record, I've discovered that one of the problems is that two of the USB ports on the back of the computer no longer seem to work; probably for the same reason the internal DVD drive is being recognized, but not enough to actually work. This does mean I can run the external DVD drive, which is working, after all, but does still cause considerable problems I'll try not to bore you further with.
MAKE.MONEY.FAST. So far as I can tell, this is a site that actually hires spammers en masse.
It claims that "You'll NEVER be asked to SPAM Anyone" and that your "ads" go to "over 1,000 premium classified sites" (this quote comes from this embedded video, not from text at that link), but so far as I can tell, it's a site that hires you to spam professionally.
Tell me I've got it wrong.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 if you've ever wondered how they hired people outside of China.
IN WHICH I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF, HILZOY, AND OBSIDIAN WINGS, while Hilzoy is in transit to Rwanda, that I am:
# Dana - If you look up the definition of dickhead in the dictionary, I believe Gary’s picture is still there.
I believe it appears under several other entries as well, many having to do with the concept of dishonesty.
Comment by Patterico — 7/18/2009 @ 10:28 pm
It’s my uninformed opinion that hilzoy is running away. As the disaster of Obama unfolds, she doesn’t want to be available. Lefties never really take responsibility.
Comment by Ken Hahn — 7/18/2009 @ 10:38 pm
That post and comment thread sums up nicely why I don’t comment at Obsidian Wings any more–it’s just another moonbat colony these days, and Hilzoy’s presided over the sliding into the ooze phase of things there. Good riddance.
Comment by M. Scott Eiland — 7/18/2009 @ 10:43 pm
Though the idiot brigade supporting hilzoy, such as Gary, seem to ignore it, Karl’s post did contain a retraction and correction. It was a serious attempt to discuss legislation that is being rammed through. It was a boring, but strong example of how to blog honorably. The assumptions made in that post and its comments are so sloppy and lazy and biased that it’s apparent that all hilzoy wants to do is say ‘left=good right=demon’. Hilzoy’s had plenty of time to correct her error, and hers is a great example of how to be dishonest and a jerk.
Comment by Juan — 7/18/2009 @ 11:21 pm
Rawanda? Yeah, I am in Rio right now and Bariloche later.
Comment by HeavenSent — 7/19/2009 @ 6:50 am
Farber is a mendoucheous twatwaffle of the highest order. When he is not lying, he is prolly felching underage goats. NTtAWWt.
Comment by JD — 7/19/2009 @ 8:09 am
Save your pixels if you are considering having a discussion with imdw. You are more likely to have an honest discussion with that mendacious Farber person.
Comment by JD — 7/19/2009 @ 9:00 am
Gary Farber - when you got donkey punched by Michael Moore, did it hurt, or did you kind of enjoy it?
Comment by JD — 7/19/2009 @ 9:50 am #
Okay, maybe that was a tad bit inappropriate, and not at all fair to goats and Michael Moore.
Comment by JD — 7/19/2009 @ 9:54 am
And my very favorite at all, signed aptly by "eric blair":
The interesting question is this one: why the bile and anger from that left-leaning blog?
Read The Rest Scale: usual temptest in a blogpot stuff.
And in conclusion, without summarizing all the rest of what I wrote to Patterico, or he to me, in this thread, Patterico's gracious concluding responses to me are that:
My claim that Gary Farber will not admit errors by people on his own team was based on the evidence of this thread, in which I made a very simple point -- that hilzoy had erred in accusing me of being a blogger who had "repeated" a claim -- the truth of which Farber repeatedly refused to acknowledge.
The evidence is now different. Now I can see that Farber is someone who will refuse to admit an error by people on his own team -- unless repeatedly pressed on the point. In that case, after initially avoiding the issue and throwing up all sorts of blatant strawmen, arguments premised on unsupported assumptions, and other torrents of meaningless, catty words, he will eventually acknowledge the error. Leading observers to wonder why he didn't simply do that to begin with.
Posted by: Patterico | July 19, 2009 at 03:49 PM
That said, I am willing to accept Gary Farber's apology for initiating the unpleasant tone of this thread with an unnecessarily sarcastic reply to my first comment.
Posted by: Patterico | July 19, 2009 at 04:14 PM
That was his reply to my attempt to reach out across the partisan divide with some courtesy, by being willing to take my share of the blame for being sarcastic, after immediately replying to the question he asked, as soon as I got to it.
Did he ever respond to any of the points I made to him, or questions I asked of him, or with any acknowledgement of his many personal attacks on me as a human being? (I made no attacks on his own person, of course; I was merely sarcastic in making some of my points about his failures in labeling on his blog, and failure to respond substantively to almost anything I wrote, including the most basic point of all, that his initial comment to Hilzoy was a simple tu quoque.)
Take a guess.
It's all as charming as it seems.
ADDENDUM, 8:55 p.m.: and the personal attacks on me continue.
ADDENDUM, 9:33 p.m.: Patterico further concludes, among many other accusations, that:
[...] as I eventually forced you to admit, my comment was accurate [...] Falsely stated [...] Falsely claimed [...] Falsely accused [...] Misrepresented [...] Mischaracterized [...] Engaged in a lengthy and irrelevant tirade [...] Throughout this breathtaking display of serial dishonesty — yes, dishonesty — addressed me in your characteristic this-is-why-I-was-beaten-as-a-child sneering faux-polite tone (your speaking voice is nasal and high-pitched, isn’t it? how did I guess?)
and concluded that comment with:
[...] I’d say that was a major concession on my part.
Your apology for your wrongdoing does not entitle you to an apology from me when I have done nothing wrong. Nor am I required to pretend that I like you. If your apology was tendered as nothing more than an opening gambit in an attempt to extract concessions or apologies from me, then it’s not sincere and you are free to withdraw it.
Did you expect good-faithed discussion from Fary Garber?
He displays the characterist Glenn Greenwald tactic: he lies and distorts, and then if you get angry, he strikes a pose of civility, bats his eyes, and with a million (insincere) pleases and thankses, wonders why in the world you’re so upset.
I list his numerous dishonest tactics in the lengthy comment above. Since I don’t do dishonesty, I can’t and won’t fight fire with fire, leaving me with no recourse other than to document the dishonesty and write him off as a result.
My very final response to all this:
“as I eventually forced you to admit”
How you think you “forced” me to do anything, I can only attempt to imagine.
But I’ll take that as your final word on all this for now. Maybe someday you’ll reconsider, maybe not. I always try to think the best of people, if they give me any opportunity at all to.
And just as I haven’t bothered to leap into refuting all the other accusations and insults and ad hominems made here about me, I’ll leave you with whatever final word you wish to have, be it your comment #80, or something further. I’m sorry we couldn’t come to a better mutual understanding on this exchange. Be well.
And his last word:
# I always try to think the best of people, if they give me any opportunity at all to.
Yeah, that’s why you made a series of false assumptions and accusations about me as I documented above. Your politeness is a thin smear over your innate nastiness, and anyone with the weakest bullshit detector (even with old batteries and a short in the circuits) can see that.
Give me someone who is honest and direct over the faux-polite bullshit any day of the week.
You are full of shit. With that, I bid you a very good day indeed and hope you have a very pleasant week.
FOR HILZOY. I refuse to say "goodbye." I shall say fare thee well in all your travels and in the words of Patrick O'Brian, I wish for you joy of it, for all love.
I will also leave you with some other Patrick O'Brian quotes, just because.
One, completely out of context, but therefore fitting, because it is my hope for the future: From The Surgeon's Mate, page 176:
'It shall be as you wish,' said Stephen. 'Yet before the consultation proper begins, I beg leave to observe, that the spectacle of a swimmer who has reached the edge of the Maelstrom, who can leave the vexed waters, the whirling turbulence, and who voluntarily plunges back again, is one that would have made my philosopher cry out in wonder.'
From The Mauritius Command, page 346:
[At a the Governor's dinner celebrating yesterday's triumph.]
Something, reflected Jack, something came over officers who reached flag-rank or the equivalent, something that made them love to get up on their hind legs and produce long measured periods with even longer pauses between them. Several gentlemen had already risen to utter slow compliments to themselves, their fellows, and their nation, and now General Abercrombie was struggling to his feet, with a sheaf of notes in his hand. 'Your Excellency, my lords, Admiral Bertie, and gentlemen. We are met here together,' two bars of silence, 'on this happy, eh, occasion,' two more bars, 'to celebrate what I may perhaps be permitted to call, an unparalleled feat, of combined operations, of combination, valour, organization, and I may say, of indomitable will.' Pause. 'I take no credit to myself.' Cries of No, no; and cheers. 'No. It is all due,' pause, 'to a young lady in Madras.'
'Sir, sir,' hissed his aide-de-camp, 'you have turned over two pages. You have come to the joke.'
And now the appropriate farewell joke for Hilzoy: From The Letter of Marque, page 215:
[Jack is the honored guest at an exclusive dinner party.]
'Mr Aubrey,' murmured Blaine, interrupting the flow [of Jack's story] just where the Surprise was sinking a Turk in the Ionian, 'I believe the Bishop means to drink to you.'
Jack looked down the table and there indeed was the Bishop smiling at him and holding up his glass. 'A glass of wine with you, Mr Aubrey,' he called.
'With the utmost pleasure, my lord,' replied Jack, bowing. 'I drink to your very great happiness.'
This was followed by several more glasses with other gentlemen, and Stephen, half way down the table on the other side, observed that the colour was coming back into Jack's face: perhaps rather more colour than he could have wished. A little later he also observed that his friend had launched into anecdote. Jack Aubrey's anecdotes were rarely successful - his talent did not lie that way - but he knew his role as a guest and now with a candid look of pleasure at his immediate neighbours he began, 'There was a bishop in our part of the country when I was a boy, the bishop before Dr Taylor; and when he was first appointed he made a tour of his command - of his diocese. He went everywhere, and when he came to Trotton he could hardly make out that such a scattered place - just a few fishermen's huts along the shore, you know - could be a parish. He said to Parson West, an excellent fisherman himself, by the way; he taught me to sniggle for eels. He asked Parson West . . .' Jack frowned slightly and Stephen clasped his hands. This was the point where the anecdote might so easily break down again, an unhappy echo of the word place appearing as plaice in the bishop's question. 'He asked Parson West, "Have you many souls here?"' Stephen relaxed. 'And Parson West replied, "No, my lord; only flounders, I am afraid."'
Source. If you find the time, Hilzoy, you will find there, and in O'Brian, a very great deal about birds, amongst other topics.
And, again, I wish you, of your travels and life, joy of it.
And to the rest of the Obsidian Wings community, a quote from another British writer:
[...] I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything. Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.
And another, from the same source:
[...] Though I do not ask for aid, we need it. It would comfort us to know that others fought also with all the means that they have.
And yet I cannot help but think:
[...] If all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay.
[...] I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.
And finally, the words I shall live to hope to hear from Hilzoy, sooner or later, as a front-page blogger:
ADDENDUM, July 19th, 1:27th p.m.: Patterico feels I'm picking on him in his accusations against Hilzoy, and that I'm not among the "intellectually honest" because I "don't acknowledge errors by people on your team"; I am terribly sad to learn these things.
Also, for those that missed them, previously on the Hilzoy Farewell Tour: Hilzoy's announcement, July 13th, Bare-Faced Go-Away Bird.
DON'T MAKE YOURSELF LOOK STUPID. This is a fantastic three-year-old essay about writing online that I only just read, thanks to commenter Robin Z here.
It's by Eric Burns-White, of Websnark, both a writer and blog I'd managed to never notice before, because I only follow a very few webcomics, indeed, and don't follow the form as such, at all.
But I have to quote the following part, while urging you to Read The Whole Thing, though you probably did three years ago, because I'm the only one dumb enough to have not heard of these folks.
[...] Support your thesis. It's easy to write "the webcomic Anime Treacle sucks donkey." Heck, I just wrote it, and it took less than five seconds. However, declaring that Anime Treacle sucks donkey doesn't do anyone any good if you don't support what you're saying. You need to demonstrate why it sucks donkey. You need examples. You need evidence.
Now, you might not understand why this is important. "It's just my opinion," you say. "No one can claim it isn't my opinion." And that's true. No one can.
However, if someone who likes the webcomic Anime Treacle reads that, all they can say is "wow, what an asshole." And then they'll never believe anything else you ever write. They'll assume you're stupid. If you weren't stupid, you'd agree with them about Anime Treacle. They'll tell all their friends "wow, this guy is stupid." The word will spread. The word "stupid" will appear in many peoples' descriptions of you.
And people who agree with you that Anime Treacle sucks won't come to your defense, because there's not enough there to defend. All they can say is "well, I think it sucks too!" And sooner or later, you'll post that one of their favorite webcomics sucks too, and you'll lose them. Ultimately, every person on the planet -- including various people in the third world who have no electricity, will think you're stupid.
Which honestly isn't the point of blogging, now is it?
On the other hand, if you explain why you think Anime Treacle sucks, and give examples, you give people a chance to see where you're coming from. You'll convince some of them. Others will disagree, but they'll have a sense of why you came up with that opinion. And yes, a couple of people will disagree and say you're stupid, but it will be easy for other folks to come to your defense. You will begin to build a reputation as not being stupid. Life will be better.
As a side note -- saying that Anime Treacle sucks, and then linking to a particularly suckful example strip? Doesn't much help if you don't go into why that strip is an example of sucking. Any time you figure it's self evident? It's not.
This is so my entire philosophy of writing since I was twelve years old!
I kid you not. Though I'd have to find copies of my old apazines from around age fourteen to prove it.