Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let's Be Nice to Each Other Hormone

The drug/hormone Oxytocin is a natural chemical found in the bodies of men but especially women in labor and infant nursing.

Wikipedia says:

Oxytocin (Greek: "quick birth") is a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In women, it is released mainly after distension of the cervix and vagina during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding, respectively. Oxytocin is released during orgasm in both sexes. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and might be involved in the formation of trust between people.

Trust. That's it. A drug that lessens the distrust between people; the 'trust drug.'

The June 2005 edition of Nature has an article titled, Oxytocin increases Trust in Humans. It opens with:

Trust pervades human societies. Trust is indispensable in friendship, love, families and organizations, and plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country’s institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success.
Imagine that: trust contributes to economic, political, and social success. I suggest that all 535 members of Congress as well as the entire Executive Branch be mandated to begin Oxytocin hormone therapy at once. Just think how much progress our nation could make with the folks in power 'trusting' each other.

Useless Political Pander vs. the Security of the United States.

The American electorate is grossly ignorant and so easily hornswoggled that it isn't funny. Not funny at all, especially when the security of our nation is left to amateurs and charlatans.

The Christian-right panders for support and props up legislators who will toe the line in support of their religious beliefs, but have few other qualifications to be representatives of the people. Their agenda, it seems, is God, the flag, anti-gay, prayer in schools, vouchers, the 10 commandments and anti-abortion. Other issues are of little importance to these religious zealots.

As a result of this numskullery, a group of incompetent congressmen and women have been elected throughout this nation, a group whose sole ambition and only talent is addressing the Christian-right's laundry list.

They are supposedly 'pro-family' yet they sit by and watch thousands of businesses and factories close as the jobs are outsourced to China and India. They do nothing to quell the spiraling medical costs and prescription drug prices that threaten the life savings of the family. They sit by idly as oil prices soar and home heating/cooling rates continually rise forcing the family to spend more of their hard-earned dollars for basic needs.

They confirm incompetent people to 'serve' the nation: directors of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, FEMA, the EPA, and FDA. Directors who clearly have no idea how to manage such important federal agencies.

They allow the Executive Branch to extend their authority way past the Constitutional provisions of the branch. They support the War in Iraq, sending tens of thousands of our soldiers to their deaths and to rehab centers while authorizing tens of billions of dollars on the ill-conceived war.

The Christian-right in Ohio were largely responsible for the re-election of Bush/Cheney. Astonishingly, we heard yesterday that al-Qaeda is stronger than they were on 9-11. Despite that fact, Mr. Bush said yesterday, "Al-Qaida is weaker today than they were on 9-11." An outright lie.

Iraq has become al-Qaeda's their new training camp, allowing recruits hands-on experience in bomb-making and other deadly tactics. Afghanistan is no longer important. Apparently so as it was announced that the largest crop of poppies was harvested there, poppies to be made into cocaine for the American drug users.

Our food supply is in danger of being poisoned, yet the department in charge of inspections has been slashed; only 1% of the food imported into this country is inspected. Think about that potential gap as an opportunity for a so-called terrorist attack just waiting to be made.

Port security is no more than a joke. Few of the tons of cargo off-loaded at American ports is inspected. Again, a ripe opportunity for terrorists. The border with Mexico is wide open yet cars and trucks have to wait in long lines to enter Windsor, Canada from Detroit.

Incompetent people in high places spells disaster. One needs only to look at Michael "Brownie" Brown, L. Paul Bremer, Scooter Libby and Don Rumsfeld to understand that many people confirmed to important national security positions are no more than political hacks.

Back to the original point: the citizens of this nation have been duped, pure and simple. They allowed themselves to believe that, because a person is a 'good Christian' that they were competent as government operatives. Let's face it: there is more to running a nation well than going to church. Here's the question, though, that yet needs to be answered: will they be duped again? Will they fall for the Christian-right's banter and blather again in 2008? Will they elect 'good Christians' to office who know little more than Bible verses?

Don't bet that it won't happen again. American voters are not known for wisdom.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Revisiting an Old Book: Future Tense

While cleaning up today I found Gwynne Dyer's book, Future: Tense, a book I had read 3 years ago. While thumbing through, I focused on the highlighted sections I had marked when I last read the book.

His website can be found here.

Coincidentally, today we Americans were subjected to the latest warning of an al-Qaeda threat by the Bush/Cheney team. Remember: be afraid. Fear-filled people are obedient.

In the front matter of Dyer's book is a quotation from Sydney J. Harris that befits today's warning nicely:

'Terrorism' is what we call the violence of the weak and we condemn it; 'war' is what we call the violence of the strong and we glorify it.

To be sure, we Americans do glorify war, of course, encouraged by the neocon artists in the White House. Today is also the 'debate' going on in the Senate about the War in Iraq. The shill for the White House, Mitch McConnell, is attempting to kill any motions on the floor to terminate the war. Good old boy Lindsay Graham of South Carolina thinks what we are up to in Iraq is of vital interest to our nation. The gaggle of 'loyal' Bush Republicans that hold the Senate hostage may succeed in stalling the anti-war vote, but our troops will pay the ultimate price for the filibuster.

One of the most troubling statements made in Future: Tense is this especially challenging statement that neither the Bush/Cheney cabal nor the Loyalists in the Senate will abide:

The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq."

No doubt, that must make Cheney boil with anger. Dyer, further in the book, says this about the so-called 'terrorist threat' that the Bush-Cheney team calls out so often:

The fact is that neither the Europeans nor Asians nor [above all] Middle Easterners agree with mainstream American political opinion any more. They don't think al-Qaeda is a global menace. They don't live in fear of rogue states. They don't think we are living in the opening stages of a 'clash of civilizations' [though they worry that Washington's efforts might yet make it happen.] They don't agree with pre-emptive and preventive wars, and they don't believe that 9/11 'changed everything.'

Dyer concludes his book with this statement which will be very difficult for Americans to digest:

The hardest thing Americans are going to have to do in this generation is to get used to the idea that the United States is just another country. Still a very big and powerful country, to be sure, but not the “indispensable nation;’ not a beacon of liberty shining into the darkness, and not the only great power that really matters. Most other countries are now democratic too, and they do not look to the United States for example. No other country yet rivals the United States in military power, but that is not as important as Americans think because their enormous military machine can only be used, in practice, against very weak countries: war with a serious opponent would lead to a level of American casualties that the U.S. public would not tolerate for long. And the world does not need America in the same sense that it did when totalitarian Communist powers controlled the heart of Eurasia. But neither does it need America to go into a gigantic sulk about its lost status.

I'm glad that so-called synchronicity occurred today with the book, the DC cabal, and the Senate. Which one tells the truth is, however, a roll of the proverbial dice.

Nothing New: Study Finds Americans Don't Understand Others Too Well


Rugged American individualism could hinder our ability to understand other peoples' point of view, a new study suggests.
And in contrast, the researchers found that Chinese are more skilled at understanding other people's
perspectives, possibly because they live in a more "collectivist" society.
"This cultural difference affects the way we communicate," said study co-author and cognitive psychologist Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago.

Americans, the study reports, find it difficult to empathise with others. The Chinese, on the other hand, are much better at that. The report goes on:

Collectivist societies, such as the Chinese, place more value on the needs of the group and less on the autonomy of the individual. In these societies, understanding other peoples' experiences is a more critical social skill than it is among typically more individualist Americans.

I suppose this 'rugged individualism' characteristic of Americans explains why there are so many people who hold onto that right-of-center political philosophy: the boot-straps philosophy. That government has no responsibility to the society as a whole; that government ought to get out of our lives; that the only thing government should do is maintain the Armed Forces to defend the nation.

The so-called 'common good' factor is quite absent from their view of the role of government. They scoff at the current European model, the philosophy that it is the duty of the government to take care of all of its citizens, especially in the area of health care. They deride the Canadian health care system as well. President Bush is ready to veto a bill in Congress that would give health care insurance to millions of American children. 'Too costly,' he says.

Odd stuff. His party, the GOP, has voted for spending multiple billions of dollars over the past 6 years for all sorts of issues benefiting corporations and business as well as the military. Billions upon billions yet denied many social programs, educational programs, and health programs for the citizens.

These days when I hear a Republican tell me that they are for less government, I say to them, 'Oh really? Where have you been for the past 6 years?' That fairly well catches them off guard.

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