Saturday, May 23, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY

I am not much on memorials but they are reality. What invariably happens after wars, a nation builds memorials. A nation of those who give a F..k which ain't Vietnam was different. For sure, nobody gave a hang about that war and especially those who fought in it. Vietnam is probably the only war where the Warriors got blamed for the war. 

This Memorial Day I wanted to do something different. 


FAST TRAIN TO NOWHERE

In Iraq, there's a sure thing: ISIS mounts an attack. The Iraqi Security Forces bug out, leaving valuable American equipment which ISIS takes for their own. 

THE AMERICAN STRATEGY
The Americans agreed to expand and speed shipments of military equipment to Iraqi Security Forces (ISIS). 
                                From the WSJ

Thursday, May 21, 2015

STILL ALICE

Delivering bad news in a medical setting is never easy. The Docs (not criticism, physicians want to heal and when they can't, they often don't know how to handle it) were notoriously inept in talking to patients and giving them the "word" if it was bad. Most, even older physicians, struggled with their bedside manner in this arena. 

I am in the early thought processes of putting together a book of my time in an Army Medical Center and was reminded of the "bad news" delivery when I recently saw the movie, "Still Alice." Julianne Moore received an Oscar for portraying Dr. Alice Howland, a linquistics professor with early on Alzheimer's (50). Although a hard movie to watch, a wonderful one in terms of facing a difficult subject. In fact, my wife would not see it, too sad. 

Julianne Moore began to have little lapses in memory and when she got lost while running, she knew something was happening. As the movie portrayed it, without hesitation, she checks it out. The actor who played the Doc was great. Unlike many I've known where delivering less than good news was tough, the Doc in the movie said to Julianne Moore's character something like, "You have early on-set of Alzheimer's and it is only going to get worse." 

In "Still Alice," it does; denial starts and the drama of dealing with the disease in everyday activities begins. Lots of lessons to take from the movie. Her character, Dr.Alice Howland makes this wonderful speech, where she acknowledges what is happening to her.  She says something like, I am still Alice but struggling.  

The family mostly comes around with the exception of Alec Baldwin who plays the husband. I thought he was good. Most of the critics weren't all that kind to him, however. 

Without a doubt, the best scene is where she has planned to end her life. It is one of the best positively contrived I've ever seen. There are so many good points in this movie, one among many are the lines she delivers, "I had rather have cancer. " And, the Doc's suggestion, something like, "we can't turn this around but there are little tricks you can do."

 Force yourself, however painful, to see this movie. I have been totally unsuccessful in getting family/friends to see it. This is one of those movies that could truly do something for you, other than entertain you. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE WIRE

My wife and I are rewatching the HBO series, "The Wire." Since it is set in Baltimore and Baltimore has recently been the poster child for race relations and Police in "Merica," we thought, "is this a case where art, so to speak, imitates life. Uncanny are the similarities. After viewing an episode recently, She asked, "Is there a character in the show that is not corrupt, dealing drugs, overly ambitious, adinfinitum? NO, not really--a pretty sad commentary, if you translate that to life. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

POTSDAM and Goebbels

My misgivings of the WSJ's editorial positions aside, I do have a love/hate relationship with the Journal but love their book reviews; mainly because of length. Two books they reviewed, I am going to read. Goebbels, a f..king crazy who along with his crazy wife, poisoned their six children in a show of fanaticism for Hitler. In a sense, fanatics like ISIS are not any worse that nuts like the Goebbels. 

The second book is "Potsdam," the Conference of Allied World Leaders, at the close of WW ll in Europe; at least from Truman's perspective, if I could guess, he was searching out the peace. 

In a sense, a little tidbit that I hadn't thought about: Roosevelt suffered from heart failure. He knew it and did not expect to live through his fourth term. Consequently, he chose the little known Truman as his VP for his ending. (Much speculation, why?)

Potsdam, the summit, established Truman as very much seeking peace while all those around him clamored for more war. 

Truman's management style seems much like our current President. On the "Myers Briggs Type Indicator." Both, I think, are ENTJs. For instance, all around the Prez, are the Republicans wanting more involvement in the MidEast when it has already proven we can't do s..t. The Iraqis couldn't get their act together when we were over there in full force and now facing ISIS, they definitely can't. 

I get so f..king tired of the "talking heads,"  'The President isn't engaged enough" Bullshit! The President gives someone a job, he expects them to do it. We don't want him farting around with a do nothing Congress. We want him trying to run the country. 


Friday, May 15, 2015

A Good Life Wasn't Enough

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber, now sentenced to death is more than tragic. First of all up front, let me say as a rule, I don't believe in the death penalty. It seems too extreme to me for a civilized society; but, that having been said, I think the jury got it right. There are some crimes so heinous that someone like Tsamaev forfeits his life among civilized people. 

What fascinates and saddens me about him is that our way of life was not enough to make him resistant to this heinous act. To such a crime, the question, is religion that strong? Islam apparently is. A handsome kid, introduced to all that America has: education, warm and comfortable existence; friends, family, not perfect but supportive: no telling what other opportunities. And, he is stupid beyond belief. 

My belief? F..k yes but the only one I have. Maybe I am deluding myself but how this kid could be this callous: way beyond me. WTF. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BRER RABBIT

TEAM OF TEAMS
Upfront, I need to announce that I don't like Generals. Why? More philosophy  than actual. I haven't had good experiences with the "stars." Most of the time, I've seen that generals begin to believe their own press. I think that McChrystal is one of those. I confess too that I haven't read the book, rather this long review in the WSJ. I will not bore you with my view of the "Journal" either. 
 
I don't doubt that some of his/co-authors view of good leadership is OK but not much. It is hard not to look at several decisions in Iraq where the public, because they didn't know or understand, just accepted decisions at face value. The so called "surge" is one. First of all, it wasn't some general's idea, rather a young battalion commander who had the idea of separating the factions. And it didn't involve new tactics. Simply, it paid off the Sunnis who were killing us. They switched sides, the killing stopped and all was great until we stopped paying them and they switched back; the killing started again. What a way to fight a war!

 Where, from The Review, it seems that military style leadership can be added to a civilian mix. Noway. There are too many variables. Danger and killing or dying just to name a couple. Being in combat is no day at the beach and not a time to test leadership principles. 

From the "Review," there's a really good example from Starbucks. Since I am writing this at SBs, not sure where this is suppose to go. I do know that SBs is a business that "gets it." If SBs is a "Team of Teams," example, they've nailed it. 

I hate to put the bad mouth on my fellow North Carolinian but I laughed big time as I had a conspiracy theory about how McChrystal lost his job. He set it up. Bad mouthing the Prez in front of a reporter. He knew Iraq was a "fast train to nowhere," which has proven to be true; and he wanted out. Talk about Brer Rabbit in the Brier Patch. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HAVES AND HAVE NOTS

There is absolutely no area where the "haves and have nots" are as visible as in health care. If you have the "means" you can exhaust all possibilities for healing. 

This is not to take away from Tom Brokaw and his book, A Lucky Life Interrupted...thanks to his considerable financial resources, his friends in high places, this statement is simple fact. 

There is absolutely no area where the "haves and have nots" are as visible as in health care. If you have the "means" you can exhaust all possibilities for healing