Dispatches From The Edge: Pakistan: Reversing The Lens

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 05:01:00 PM

Terrorism is not a statistic for us.”—Asif Ali Zardari, president of Pakistan

This is a Pakistani truism that few Americans understand. Since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, Pakistan has lost more than 35,000 people, the vast bulk of them civilians. While the U.S. has had slightly over 1800 soldiers killed in the past 10 years, Pakistan has lost over 5,000 soldiers and police. The number of suicide bombings in Pakistan has gone from one before 2001, to more than 335 since.

For most Americans, Pakistan is a two-faced “ally” playing a double game in Central Asia, all while siphoning off tens of billions of dollars in aid. For Pakistanis, the spillover from the Afghan war has cost Islamabad approximately of $100 billion. And this is in a country with a yearly GDP of around $175 billion, and whose resources have been deeply strained by two years of catastrophic flooding. -more-

Wild Neighbors:The Curse of Drosophila

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday October 25, 2011 - 10:51:00 AM
Drosophila melanogaster, lab hero and kitchen pest.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I have a fruit fly problem. It’s recent—within the last month or so—and specific to the kitchen. This is a novel experience. We have Argentine ant invasions now and then, and a resident spider population, but never before fruit flies. So far they have me, as my father would say, buffaloed. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday October 25, 2011 - 08:27:00 AM

My politics are those of privacy and intellectual obsession. They look to Dante’s immemorial summons voiced by Ulysses: ”We are not formed to live come bruta, but to follow virtue and knowledge wherever these may lead, at whatever personal and social cost.” It may be that such a conviction is in certain regards pathological and self-indulgent . . . at the same time, (it) seems to me to justify man -more-

Eclectic Rant: Visiting Auschwitz

By Ralph E. Stone & Judi Iranyi
Tuesday October 25, 2011 - 08:06:00 AM

We just returned from a tour of Central Europe. We visited Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague. On our drive from Warsaw to Krakow, we stopped at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, renamed Auschwitz when the town and the surrounding area were incorporated within the Third Reich. -more-

The New American Revolution: Occupy Wall Street

By Bob Burnett
Saturday October 22, 2011 - 07:38:00 PM

While the organic Occupy Wall Street movement is similar to the spontaneous Arab Spring uprisings that began last December in Tunisia and Egypt, OWS is eerily reminiscent of the run up to the American revolutionary war.

Three ingredients fueled the original American Revolution. The first was egregious British taxation policy exacerbated by the fact that the colonies had no representation in Parliament. The second was the growth of liberalism and its concepts of natural rights and the social contract. Finally, Americans embraced the values of “republicanism” -- in its original form – which criticized both British corruption and the power of the English aristocracy.
For eighteenth-century American colonists, democracy was a novel idea, whose influence grew from 1763 onward and culminated with the publication of Tom Paine’s Common Sense. -more-

On Mental Illness: Children on Medication

By Jack Bragen
Saturday October 22, 2011 - 07:41:00 PM

Have you seen the television commercial that advertises a new medication for children with hyperactivity and attention deficit? The commercial shows a well-behaved, sedated little kid doing his homework and being an angelic little boy, while at the same time a list of possible side effects is being read over the sound portion of the commercial. If you’re paying any attention to those side effects, it sounds horrific. If you’re paying attention to the portrayal of the child, you ought to be horrified. No child should be that well-behaved; it’s not natural. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 04:29:00 PM

For the memory of another is like a ship which one sees coming down a bay—the hull and the sails separating from the distance and from the outlying islands and capes—charged with freight and cutting open the waves, addressing itself in increasingly clear outlines to the impatient eyes on the waterfront; which, before it reaches the shore, grows ghostly and sinks in the sea; and one has to wait for the tides to cast on the beach, fragment by fragment, the awaited cargo.

—Glenway Wescott, novelist (1901-1987), from The Grandmothers -more-

Senior Power… “Always my best day of the week.” Part 1.

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 12:01:00 PM

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), famous for his Democracy in America, wrote about Americans, “I have often admired the extreme skill they show in proposing a common object for the exertions of very many and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.”

The traditions of community service and citizen participation have long been at the heart of American civic culture, through town meetings, local school systems, political parties, hospital auxiliaries, and national and local organizations. Many Americans act on the need to give something back to their communities. There’s a good feeling that can come from commitment to an unpaid responsibility that impacts others positively. Some activities that are considered voluntary provide compensation or remuneration in kind. -more-