Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Random Pieces of News

I. Support the Troops


In yet another example of how rhetoric clashes with actions, some in the VA have decided to discourage its caregivers from diagnosing PTSD. CREW and VoteVets.org obtained an email from Norma Perez, PTSD Program coordinator at the Olin Teage Veteran's Center suggesting:


The military has always had trouble believing in PTSD. It's expensive. It doesn't quite fit the image of the heroic soldier. It's difficult to deal with. It's not something you can see. But since the Rand Corporation estimates that about 300,000 could be diagnosed with the condition, along with 320,000 with Traumatic Brain Injury, it's a serious problem for the military and the Veterans Administration. What takes this week into the Idiot Zone is the Army's decision on where to house Fort Benning's PTSD patients. They are right next to the firing range. There might be a better way of ensuring flashbacks. I can't think of one.

The Secretary of Defense is doing the right thing in his attempts to destigmatize PTSD and encourage members of the Armed Forces to seek treatment. He has criticized the Army for being slow to recognize the health threat it poses. That excellent message is being undercut within the government. VA Secretary Peake and Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) who describe it and traumatic brain injury as "akin to what anyone who played football in their youth might have suffered, Peake told Guinn."


II Food For Your Inner Frog

Insects are easy to grow. Fed properly they are clean, easy to digest and excellent sources of cheap protein. Humans in 113 countries eat a recorded 1700 six legged species from wikkity grubs in Australia to Mormon crickets in Utah, cane grubs in West Africa and giant butterfly larvae in Taiwan. The Torah forbids insects other than the locust, the grasshopper, the cricket and the "black headed beetle", but considering how many forbidden things people of various religions eat voluntarily and how many unconsciously that's hardly a concern. It's really more a problem of marketing and image than anything else.

This article in the Daily Mail provides some mainstream support for serving them in the West. Works for this Amphibian-American. Compared to the way hogs and chickens are raised and processed grasshopper looks pretty good. I suppose it would be easier if people could invert their stomachs to clean out the chitin. If there's commercial potential some bright engineer somewhere will come up with a solution.

III Next Up: People Eating in Restaurants and Drinking in Bars

A three year investigation has revealed "rampant" prostitution in Seattle-area strip clubs. Next up: Fish swim. Birds fly. Rain is wet.


IV Warrior Posture for Warriors

Researchers working for the Indian Army have concluded that yoga is good for soldiers.

after three months new soldiers of the Bengal Engineering Group, who did 50 minutes of yoga a day combined with 40 minutes of traditional exercise, had steadier hands, stronger grips and leaner muscles than peers who underwent a gruelling 90-minute military work-out instead, according to a study.

...

"The yoga group showed an improvement in skilled activities requiring co-ordination and concentration, as well as muscular strength and endurance."

That shouldn't surprise anyone. Yoga has a long and well-documented connection with fighting arts. There were different yogas for different jobs including priests and scholars, peasants and soldiers. Each was designed to meet the physical and mental needs of that way of life. For a very good modern example consider Scott Sonnon's Prasara Flow Book and Video material.

V Poetic Justice, Or Maybe Tiel Can Get a Homeland Security Grant

A group of about fifty vandals broke into Robert Frost's House for a keg party. They ended up doing about $10,000 in damage - that's almost $100 Canadian these days. The two dozen who were caught have to do the usual community service and restitution. The one who bought the beer is spending a few days in jail. The judge added another piece to the sentence. They have started mandatory classes on the Frost and his work.

I don't know how much they'll get out of it. But it seems like a good idea. A few of them might learn something.

VI Raising the Titanic: The Secret History

The Intelligence community gets involved in a lot of research from social science and art to physics and cartography. Sometimes it's the results that are interesting. Better specialized semiconductor technology will come back to them like bread on the waters. Sometimes just having a hand in cutting edge developments in culture and politics keeps them up to date on the people who will shape opinion in years to come.

Sometimes the cover story is almost as interesting as the real project. According to articles in National Geographic and ABC News the 1985 discovery of the RMS Titanic was a byproduct and a blind. Robert Ballard developed the submersible technology for the exploration that led to the location of the wreckage. But he was under contract to the Navy which had funded development for a completely different purpose. They needed to find out what had happened to two lost nuclear submarines, the USS Thresher and USS Scorpion. Ballard was permitted to look for the Titanic only after he had completed his primary mission.

Update: Now that's the story of how the Titanic was found. If you want the real story you gotta go here to read and hear Jamie Brockett give you the real dope in The Legend or the USS Titanic. Yes sir, 497 and a half feet of Mexican rope

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