Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, April 22, 2005

Touch of the Flu 

I had a post last month about The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry, talking mostly about how the 'progressive' Wilson administration turned the nation virtually into a centralized police state to an extent that is astonishing from a contemporary perspective. Given the war, given the fear and panic engendered by the horrible influenza pandemic of 1918, it's still hard to imagine Americans submitting to the limitations imposed on them by Wilson.

The book tells another story of Wilson and the consequences of the disease that I found very interesting.

Apparently, severe bouts of the flu are associated with certain mental deficits which may be temporary or not. They are diagnosed as schitzophrenia and various other disturbances, but two thirds of those suffering from these "influenzal psychoses" recover, which is not the case with true schitzophrenia. These are caused by swelling in the brain and also by macrophages pursuing the virus into the cerebellum and meninges and attacking them so aggressively as to cause cellular damage. They can also cause vascular damage leading to stroke.

Most people are aware of the massive stroke suffered by Wilson in 1919 during which his wife and his doctor pretty much ran the country. Four months earlier, however, at the peace conference in Paris he was felled by what the finest doctors in the world diagnosed as influenza. For some reason that diagnosis has been largely ignored by the history writers and most people assume what he suffered was a smaller stroke. What was noted by all those around him at time, though, was a marked decrease in mental acuity and increase in confusion.

Shortly after recovering from the flu he suddenly abandoned all the principles he had been fighting for in terms of securing a just peace and acceded to the demands of Clemenceau and Lloyd George to punish the Germans. He basically said 'The hell with it' and went home. The subsequent humiliation and economic strangulation of the German state laid the groundwork for the rise of the Nazis and more deaths than even influenza had caused.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of his reduced faculties is the fact that what he extracted from the allies in return for abandoning his clear-headed instincts for peace making was the formation of the League of Nations. Thanks, Woody.

I've seen Bill Clinton described as a man of high ideals and no principles. Wilson was an illustration that high ideals combined with rigid principles is not much of a bargain either. I'm from Jersey. Give me self-interest and a healthy fear of getting caught.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Donald Trump may be a great salesman, but he can't sell me on the idea that breakfast with George and Caroline is a reward.

Bad People 

Prompted by this post by NRO's Jonah Goldberg, I went to this site which enables you to track registered sex offenders anywhere in the country. On New Jersey's registry you can look them up by county, street name or by zip code. It includes pictures of the offenders, descriptions, addresses and a brief offence and conviction history. None on my street, four in my zip code.

I don't imagine there's anything here (except maybe the pictures) that is not public record. Obviously the potential for abuse is significant, but I look into the blackness that is my heart and realize: I don't care.

Anyone who takes a kid to the park occasionally would do well to look at pictures of known sex offenders who live in the area.

Find Me on Monster.com 

I'd like to be Ambassador to the U.N. Lane would like to live in the city and a gig like that is probably the only way we could swing it. Also, for me, NYC parking signs might as well be written in Aramaic. I always get a ticket when I park on the street in the city. So a U.N. job would be very helpful and save me a ton of money.

Unfortunately, when I haven't gotten enough sleep I'm a kick-up, kick-down kind of guy, which is aparently not what the Democrats are looking for. When I have gotten plenty of sleep I go to kiss-up, kiss-down and I don't think that would get the job done.

I would consider being Pope, but the stumbling block there is my stand on the 'life' issues. A little too lax on the abortion thing and way too firm on the death penalty thing.

That guy who raped and killed Jessica Lunsford in Florida? He has to die.

A Brilliant Success 

Okay, I'll make this as brief and painless as possible. I was a couple hours late for work today because Grace's class put on a play this morning and there was no question that I had to be there. Under The Kapok Tree, was the name, which they adapted from a book and it was kind of a 'Circle of Life', save the rain forest deal. There were several theatrical moms involved so the set and costumes turned out to be somewhat spectacular. The whole play took about 15-20 minutes but the rehersal and preparation stages were brutal. It feels like this thing has been going on for months.

Grace was a tree porcupine, but the closest mask we could find was a mouse. It worked out fine, but Grace was adamant that tree porcupines have pink noses, not black ones. Which is how I found myself the other night spending an hour applying pink nail polish to four little mouse noses. It was a moment of realization.

She was the best.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lest We Forget 

April 19th wasn't just the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Ken Adams, of SmadaNek, was serving on the USS Iowa on that date in 1989 when an explosion of undetermined cause ripped through her Number Two sixteen-inch gun turret killing 47 crewmen.

He tells the story here.

Here's the Navy page on the Iowa.

Root and Roof 

Stolen from KateSpot:

Your Linguistic Profile:

50% General American English
30% Yankee
10% Dixie
10% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

For a Good Time in the Woods 

There's a place just north of Lake George where the family, Big G, Little G and me, goes at least once a year. It's just outside of Warrensburg, NY.

I found it probably fifteen years ago when we were looking for a cheap vacation. Lane (and, later, Grace) prefer the sea shore. I like the mountains. We'd been together a couple years and had gone away exclusively to the shore so I felt it was time to exercise my prerogative. I had an old ratty book of Adirondack B&Bs and started calling them. About the third number I called I got a guy with a mild Brooklyn accent and got into a conversation with him for about a half an hour. Nice guy, I thought. Or maybe he does no business at all.

We went for a week and had a great time. There's a fine old amusement park nearby and a water park. There's golf, there's rodeo, horseback riding, whitewatering. There's a joint up the road in Stony Creek that has great music. And, for Lane, there's discount malls.

But the best part is that at the place we stay there is nothing at all. It's in a beautiful spot, tucked in between a small ski resort mountain and the Hudson River. The river is only about twenty yards across and is right outside the door. It's quiet, it's peaceful, it's lovely. No TV, no computers, cell phones don't work there.

Steve and Sandi, who run it are great friends and great hosts. They know everything about the area and run the local Historical Society. We spend evenings playing Mexican Train and talking.

I had a great aunt who ran a boarding house in Asbury Park before it turned into Beirut. I was barely into my teens then but I loved the place because I loved talking to the boarders. They were quiet, respectable people, but their stories were so wild and unexpected and, of course, they loved the attention of anyone, even a twelve year old.

That's a feature of B&Bs I enjoy. The lesbian falconers and motorcycle riding polymer inventors.

We'll be going up in a week or so. TigerHawk had some news the other day that there was a mercury warning for large and small mouth bass. Grace is mad for fishing, but she's just graduated to baiting her own hook. I don't know that we would have gotten to cleaning and eating this summer anyway. All she wants to do these days is play catch, but if she sees somebody hook a sunnie she'll be there in a flash.

Anyway, there's a link to Country Road Lodge on the right under the title of this post. It definitely has the Sluggo Seal of Approval.

What About People of Law? 

Richard Cohen enters the hall of mirrors today in his column for the Washington Post.

And says hello to Sluggo. I blogged recently about my concern about the decision of Bill Frist to participate in a telecast attacking Democrats for opposing judicial nominees who are "people of faith". The way I see it, it's clear that there are right-wing Christians and left-wing Christians. Neither will be happy about the nomination of the other brand, but the issue of Democratic obstructionism of judicial nominations is a constitutional one without an inherent religious component.

In other words, in a (gak) Hillary Clinton administration, will the Christian right sit quietly for the nomination of a practicing Christian who favors abortion-on-demand? It doesn't do to simply declare the nominee not a "real" Christian. That game favors neither side from a legal point of view. My feeling is that Frist's job, regardless of his personal feelings, is to protect the president's right to get a vote on his nominees and leave the religious wars to their proper forum: Blogs. Kidding, a little.

What Cohen gets right is the fact that the phrase "people of faith" as used by the organizers of the telecast is as empty of substance as the phrase "people of color".

What he gets wrong is his assumption that the Christian right's definition of "people of faith" is narrow, exclusive and prejudiced.
I don't think a gay Presbyterian would be considered a
person of faith, no matter how devout, nor, for that
matter, a pro-choice Methodist -- say, someone such as
Hillary Clinton. The category would certainly not include
a Baptist such as Husband Bill or a Jew such as Chuck
Schumer or, I venture to say, an Episcopalian such as
John McCain, whose faith sustained him in a Vietnamese
prison. As for a Roman Catholic such as Ted Kennedy,
whose faith informs his liberalism, take it on faith that
he would not be considered a person of faith.
As opposed to the liberal view of the Christian right. He doesn't quite say that Ralph Reed would like to burn these people, but he's quite clear that conservative Christians are incapable of adhering to the First Amendment, establishment or free exercise.

I'm a person without faith myself, but I have been around these creatures all my life and I can tell you that born-agains, charismatics and fundamentalists, if you can characterize them at all, are commonly interested in and respectful of all faiths; Jews, Muslims and even non-monotheists such as Hindus.

By tarring a large swathe of Americans with the brush of a tiny minority of zealots Cohen simply lends credence to the charges of the telecast. So we have two camps accusing each other of bad faith and as near as I can see, they're both right.

Which is why Frist should stay far away.

Monday, April 18, 2005

All Snail, All The Time 

What a beautiful weekend it was. The Goddess has been working all weekend for a couple of weeks and will for a couple more so I'm in complete soccer dad mode. Just me and the kid all weekend long. She scored the winning goal with a minute to play in a 1-0 soccer game against the top team in the league then put on her baseball uniform and went out to third base to help the Royals crush the Pirates. I realize that had this been your kid you would have maintained a dignified silence, but that's you. This is me.

She's got a lot of talent, but she's also been very fortunate with her coaches and teammates. I'm just worried that she's getting to think that winning is always going to be this easy. Who knows? Maybe it will be.

Then Sunday she had a swimming party and then biking and then with what she had left she just ran around like an idiot for a couple hours. Man, if only she could break off a piece of that for dad. I didn't get anywhere near a computer all weekend and that was just fine with me.
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