Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

Of Riots, and Causes

April 29, 2015

The president has condemned the rioters, as have most politicians.
I’m not happy with them either. They did indeed burn businesses, loot them, put their neighbors out of work. All those and more beside.
I read a few statistics about that neighborhood in Baltimore. I hope you’ll take the time to look up things for yourself. I certainly don’t know everything about it. I don’t know anything at all about the police who arrested the young man or what they did to him. I’ll only say it’s suspicious, and that officials are looking into the matter. Six officers have been suspended. Some will probably be charged, although it hasn’t happened yet. An investigation is ongoing, although it seems to be moving far slower than a similar investigation would take that involved a civilian.
So what’s the neighborhood like, other than that it’s filled with minorities who are likely overwhelmingly black?
Less than half of the residents have jobs. Why?
One in four young men have been arrested by the police in the past. Why?
There are gangs in the neighborhood, criminal gangs. We know that because the police know it and implied that they’d received intelligence that major gangs were allied and were going to ‘take out cops’. The gangs quickly responded and said that no, there was no such alliance and they weren’t going after the cops. Duh.
I wonder how these folks live? You can be sure their income is less than the official poverty income. So how do they buy food, buy clothing, pay for electricity and gas service, things like that?
And of all those politicians, from President Obama all the way down to the mayor and city council, how many have had an opportunity to do something about the impoverished, black neighborhoods of Baltimore?
And decided that no, it wasn’t worth fighting the entrenched interests who insist on no taxes. No taxes to improve people’s lives. No taxes to build good schools, hire good teachers, hire enough policemen to suppress the gangs and the drug trade that supports them. No taxes for urban redevelopment.
It’s a vicious slope. The residents don’t have enough money to do anything, including pay the necessary taxes. State and federal politicians aren’t willing to spend the money on a blighted neighborhood filled with blacks.
And then, when a trigger point is reached, the riots erupt. Arson. Looting. Violence and vandalism. Police cars torched. Rocks thrown, sometimes shots fired.
Most major cities have neighborhoods just like the one in Baltimore. And, before Baltimore, Ferguson.
It will happen again. Los Angeles? New York? Kansas City? Atlanta? Birmingham, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston…
I expect a long, hot, summer of unrest.
And all the politicians, including the wannabe’s, will wring their hands and condemn the rioters.


On Mortality, Memory Loss, and Alzheimer’s (Reference today’s CDC Report)

May 10, 2013

Well, phooey!
I was supposed to attend a Marine Corps dinner tonight, and I forgot. We only got the notice yesterday, and I never put it onto my calendar.
Meantime, that leads me into a discussion (you knew that was coming, right?).
The CDC is now publishing alarming reports that suggest that there will be a surge in the numbers of Alzheimer’s patients. They base this on the numbers who report memory loss.
That would be me.
I first noticed symptoms of memory loss around 1975. I was speaking German regularly, and I noticed that when I spoke English I would sometimes hesitate, not being able to think of the word I wanted. Often enough, I COULD think of the word in German! So I wasn’t worried.
But it’s gotten worse. I find that frequently I can’t think of the word I want; often my sons, who are accustomed to this, supply the missing word.
But I have a huge operating vocabulary. I can either think of another, not so exact, word, or if I’m on the computer, I can think of the definition and use Google to find the one I’m unable to bring out of memory. Google’s been very helpful to me.
So…is Alzheimer’s in my future?
A couple of things to consider. I’m now 73. Statistically, I don’t have much of a future. Add to that one heart attack (the bad news), but that was 16 years ago (the good news). No more blockages, but I do have an enlarged heart as a remembrance. I’m also diabetic. The good news here is that medical science can do a lot to treat diabetes and the secondary effects. I spoke to a man who’d had a femoral artery replaced and another friend had some of the blood vessels in his leg cleaned out, ‘roto-rooted’ so to speak.
I also have an enlarged prostate. The difference between BPH and prostate cancer is the number of indicators in the blood; below a certain percentage, it’s ‘benign’ prostate hyperplasia, or enlargement. Above that point and it’s prostate cancer. Again, good news/bad news. A lot of such are so slow-growing that doctors elect to do nothing, since the patient won’t survive long enough to die of prostate cancer.
So, is Alzheimer’s inevitable. Maybe not.
I began really working on mental or cognitive processes about the time I turned 70. I joined Mensa so that I might have a chance to sharpen my thinking against those who are already noteworthy for thinking skills. I found I could be on an equal footing with Mensans, and without tooting my own horn too loud, I tend to write longer, more thoughtful essays and commentary. So, equal or possibly slightly ahead of the pack. You Mensans can make your own determination; your mileage may differ with this conclusion.
And I became serious about music, which is thought to help with cognition. Plus I’m now adding one or two new songs to my repertoire every week, adding them to memory so that I can perform without aids. This indicates that perhaps my memory might be improving, at least in some sense.
And, FWIW, I wrote this little essay without pausing to look anything up. I called it all from memory and assembled it into a coherent whole. That, too, requires both memory and cognition functioning.
I can analyze current trends, extrapolate from those, and make conclusions about what is probably in the future. I’m more confident about the relationship between my conclusions and the near future than I am about the distant future. And yet, I cannot make any predictions about my own future. It’s a statistical certainty that it won’t be long. Ten years? I’d be 83. Twenty years? Yep, 93. Few achieve that. Many don’t even make it to 73, but I have.
Meantime, if I go bonkers, there’s Jeff.
Maybe we should recruit another moderator for my group, The Intelligent Round Table? 🙂


March 17, 2013

I’m a moderate in most things, but I frequently get called “liberal” because I don’t accept much of the Neoconservative silliness.
I got involved in a discussion in my Facebook group, The Intelligent Round Table, and the general commentary favored the rights of citizens and Americans and how the government was intrusive and spied on all us innocent people. So I wrote this in answer:
Turn the situation around and look at it from the other side.
Say you’re charged with the task of protecting your people and your government. You accept that responsibility.
Now what? Are you going to decide that you can’t possibly spy on people inside the country? Knowing that there are enemies who are going to universities, working at jobs, taking classes, suborning others? Not fiction; it’s happened and continues to happen.
Or are you going to exempt citizens, while realizing that naturalization or even native birth won’t prevent them from actively working against your country by raising funds for terrorists and attempting to encourage others to attempt terrorist attacks?
Do you believe, if you’re in that situation, that you could excuse failure by taking the high moral road?
Recall something I posted earlier, about military officers: a commander is responsible for everything his command does or fails to do.
Excuses aren’t acceptable. The costs of failure are high, even extreme. Remember Poland in 1939. France. Belgium, Holland, Norway, Finland. Or Nanking, or for that matter all of China under Japanese control, and other places like the Philippines.
Or more recently, Kuwait. Without foreign intervention, Kuwait would now be a conquered province of Iraq. And even when the Iraqis were driven out, they hauled everything they could steal with them until finally being forced to abandon their loot.
I can’t prescribe a solution for this dilemma. I can only say that it’s much more complicated than simplistic suggestions are prepared to accept.
Older, educated, trained, and presumably competent people get to make most of the decisions. But the final decision often comes down to a young person with little education or training or judgment. And at that level, things aren’t straightforward at all. Act, or don’t act? Follow orders, or deviate while accepting responsibility (think Wikileaks). Even then, those responsible people exercise poor judgment, as evidenced by the documents that were leaked. And some of those younger people command aircraft and have literal life or death at hand.
It’s not a perfect world. Indeed, it’s quite messy, because we are discussing humans and human behavior.
If this makes you think, then I’m happy. I don’t care which side of the question you eventually favor, so long as you think about it and then accept responsibility for your conclusions.


October 7, 2011

With all the discussion of bullying that’s going on now, it seems to me that some of it is establishing the pecking order, to see how far a child can be pushed before he/she will fight back, and to see how determined the bullied child is when they do fight back.

But this doesn’t condone the mass bullying where gangs of children choose to bully one individual and where they continue on past simple aggressive behavior to mass assault. it also doesn’t excuse the behavior of other children who know this is happening and do nothing to prevent it or stop it. Even in childhood, there should be limits to misbehavior and those limits are best imposed by the rest of the children who have knowledge of what’s happening. But it seems to me that there are the active bullies and the passive ‘fellow-travelers’ who also share in the responsibility for what happens. No one appears to be addressing this. The society of children doesn’t appear willing to set limits on behavior. Possibly they don’t know that they need to do this. There’s no person or agency teaching any sort of morality, any sense of self-responsibility, any ideas of ethical behavior.

So some children pass far beyond any limits that we adults consider reasonable. It’s a part of the overall change that has come into being, the idea that children aren’t to be responsible in any way or to be held responsible for their actions.