So much time… so little life.

Or is it the other way around?

Me thinks that in response to this question is found the distinction twixt each of us. But I digress. What I sat down here to communicate about is the editor that died last week. I did not know him. But somehow his death has provoked me to thought.

And what I’ve found myself thinking are things too closely akin to an “as the plot thickens” chapter of Atlas Shrugged because, as I wrote to a fellow journalist recently, this is just one of those scenarios that don’t seem to add up.

That is, the facts as I understand them are that Allen R. Myerson, "A business editor at The New York Times fell to his death from the 11th floor of the newspaper's Times Square office building Thursday in what police said was a possible suicide." (New Haven Register/AP, August 23, 2002).

The obit published in the Times (also on 8/23/02) reported it differently, saying that Myerson “fell from a parapet above the 15th floor” but concurred the “preliminary finding was suicide.” Niggling incongruence aside, if Mr. Myerson’s death was indeed a suicide, out of respect to the family, no more than that needs be said.

But don with me if you will the skeptical eye and alert mind of a journalist. A journalist such as Mr. Myerson himself seemed to be. Ask yourself a few good questions; see where your mind wanders as you consider the background related to this sad case.

Manhattan born Allen Ruben Myerson began working at the New York Times in 1989, at the tender age of 33 or 34, as a copy editor. A Harvard grad and editor of The Independent, he once played trombone in the marching band. From there he pursued journalism at The Globe-Times in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, The Lexington Herald, in Kentucky, the Georgia Trend and The Dallas Morning News.

His credits in the Online Archive of the New York Times date back to January 1, 1996, which is currently as far back as the database goes. However, my search for his name in this archive produced 52,691 references. And from the sounds of the assignments he was covering back in ‘96 (ie: “A Tejano Singer Sets Out To Bridge Music and Nations”), he was certainly not making huge waves or ruffling big feathers, but it seems like he was getting a clue (“The South: Prosperity With an Asterisk”) that something slightly out of kilter seemed to be going on.

And titles of his previous work, such as "Solar Power, for Earthly Prices,” (NYT, 11/1994) seem to support this perspective. But factually, this is all a surmise because the Times archive which contains the full version of these referenced articles is available only by subscription and I, being one of the many among us who live somewhat hand to mouth, simply don’t have sufficient “disposable pesos” to spring for a $1 to $3 per view. Thus my extrapolation on this point is merely subjective conjecture, derived from the abstracts and titles indexed by the archive. But, given that peek into perception, let this imaginary entourage roll on…

By 1997, Myerson was being called an “emerging and refreshing regional identity, rising up against the mass homogenized retail world of franchises and chains.”

By November of 1998, Myerson was decrying the “energy orgy” indulged by Americans and by1999 Myerson’s reports were being cited by other journalists on matters pertaining to measuring how much energy we Americans use.

In May of 2000, Myerson addressed another hot topic in a piece titled “NEW ECONOMY; Divided against each other; united against the government,” the abstract of which talks about the “planned merger of America Online and Time Warner” explaining that “Some members of (the) panel on monopolies warn that planned merger… could turn Internet from open prairie into collection of fenced and gated estates.”

In fact, during the latter days of his 13 year career with the Times, Myerson wrote about such things as NAFTA, ENRON, the Nobel Prize, globalization, Microsoft, McDonalds, sewer sludge and the hob-knobbing bow and curtsey dance of political intrigue and big money maneuvering done by the regal rich and famous behind the penthouse scenes.

Anyway, bringing us closer to the present moment, in January of this year, a book by Myerson and two other authors, “The New Rules of Personal Investing: The Expert’s Guide to Prospering in a Changing Economy,” went into publication. And, taken at face value, especially by a person like me who is a journalist and aspires to produce the substantive type of work it seems Mr. Myerson was bringing forth, it is difficult for me to look at these facts -- that he was doing highly interesting work, was getting paid well for it, was garnering acclaim as a "cited expert" and had just published (what appears to be) his first book -- it's a stretch for me to believe that he took his own life.

But then we also have the fact that Mr. Myerson was married, which can be a two-edged sword. And of course we know nothing of his health. Perhaps he'd just been diagnosed with a terminal illness or gotten some other devastating news. Does any of us really know how we'd respond to such information if we were (God forbid) the recipient of it? And what about his personal finances... the stock market has devastated the pocketbooks of many. Which side of the scale do these measures of input go on? Obviously, there are some unknown values to resolve.

Of course, all intelligent people have probably had questioning thoughts about something like this; calling into evidence the facts; trying to decipher  what is real and what is imagined or perversely distorted by media hype. Wondering, pensively, "What actually happened?" and moreover "How much do I really want to know?"

Which is where the "Atlas Shrugged" version of my mind-walk comes back to consideration, compounded by thoughts shared on sites like cryptogon, coupled with Doug Mitchell's take on the "liberal survivalist," the landscape of my imagination exhibits a cluttered din.

And the fact of the matter is that I am 99% certain that far too many of these calibrated assertions are accurate, yet if I 100% accepted this as fact, I would feel doomed because I know that if the scenarios thus envisioned continue crescendoing unmitigated, there will soon be no "We the People" Democratic Liberty & Justice left on the face of the earth. And the saddest fact of this scenario is that there will, by that time, be no one remaining who accurately remembers what Liberty, Justice and Democracy *feels like* in the pit of his or her gut.

Thus I force myself to believe that those folks who toy with escapist and elitist behaviors (and the number of such "survivalists" and “anti-government” types is definitely growing) shall, at any moment, have some sort of glorifying epiphany, coming to the realization that the power *IS* in "our" hands, right now. All of history (and perhaps all of evolution) has been building to this moment of punctuated equilibrium, the "systems dynamics" handwriting is on the wall.

Thus it is up to those of us who are consciously aware of this phenomenon in motion to "make a choice" and "utilize" our GREAT power to CREATE something that is vital, healthy, alive and resonant with perfect well-being; because if we don't, well... there simply ain't no place to hide.

Anyway... getting back to the death of that editor, I found it interesting, in light of his great body of work, that the obituary run by the Times referenced only one of his numerous articles (National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame) and mentioned only in passing his “writing about the oil and energy business, corporate takeovers and transportation.”

Sincerely, I wish I knew Mr. Myerson’s wife. I'm sure she could lay rest to my questions. But I do not know her and would not intrude on her grief, except to I extend my most sincere and deepest condolences, admiration and respect.


Like it or lump it...
By Lou Holeman
Editor, Pack Rat Gazette

I found the cryptogon site very interesting - if somewhat scary, and unfortunately, I have to agree with most of it and take the rest into consideration. I say BRAVO for a single sole who is brave enough to take a stand against the world for the good of those who have created the problem; the ones who are too lazy, or too stupid to realize what they have done. I mean the generally apathetic, live and let live, "What can I do?" population of this country who complain about the government, but don't vote; complain about taxes, but don't vote; complain about the teachers, but never go to a conference, and are too content in their pile of warm shit to try to make a better place or find a better way.

And let it be known here that I DO UNDERSTAND that a generalization doesn't usually fit any one person. There are two sides to every story -- as we both know. And at times, we all fit my description. But I am running my mouth off about those who say "---someone should do something about that." But would never think that they just might be that "someone."

I also read your editorial, and the WNV triad. Well, here we go again. The government is deciding what is best for us, just as in the seatbelt, booster seat, child-discipline scenario. Every one must do it or be fined or otherwise reprimanded, but at least in the aforementioned cases, we have the choice of obeying or suffering the (legal) consequences. In the case of the WNV scare, which has not scared me in the least - I grew up in east AR where malaria was a given in almost every family - we have no choice.

They are going to spray that poison in our water, on our land and in our air, and we can just like it or lump it. I work my butt off picking bugs off my squash, spraying my beans with dish soap and garlic, and grinding up everything we don't eat to use for fertilizer in order to have healthy, organically grown food, and what does the government go and do but contaminate the very air I have to breathe.

I loved your statistics, but then you know Mr. Huckabee can't use those. There would be no vote-getting, sensational, over-reactional publicity generated from just facing the fact that these mosquitoes are no more dangerous than the ones that bite us everyday.

And, by the way, about 6 weeks ago, after the first warning concerning WNV was aired, I found a dead bird in my yard. He had no signs of having been shot, or killed by my cats - who, incidentally, had refused him as a main course for lunch. Well I called our sheriff's office. Didn't get to talk to the man himself, but the person who answered the phone had not heard anything about checking out these birds, and the sheriff never called back, so I can only assume he had not either. Ditto the health department. So when did panic set in? Should I have called the governor? What I finally did was incinerate the corpse along with the rest of the trash.

OK, so I am running my "mouth" off again. You do inspire me to blurt out what I think!

Waging peace...
By C. Weiss, editor@gozarks.com

It’s Sunday morning and I’m tired of bitching….. Whoops, looks like you caught me thinking out loud.

But of course it’s not really “out loud.” I mean, my keyboard does clack as my fingers apply the coordinates set by my brain to engage the actions engineered by my mind which may or may not (depending upon your personal system of belief) be creatively inspired by the majesty of my God-given soul.

However this clickety-clack is long vanished by the time your eyes dance with the electromagnetically engendered pixels on the monitor of your ‘puter system; your brain ciphering away, neural-transmitters flashing and blinking, engrossed in the actions our society has agreed to label as “reading” and "thinking about."

These are silent activities, reading and thinking, yet we associate “sound” with them. “I hear what you’re saying” confirms “I know what you mean.”

And “meaning” is such an elusive object, not being an “object” at all. Meaning is intrinsic, multiplistic, inherent, engendered, inculcate and ideologically charged. Meaning resonates with emotional gusto… be it pro or con. Which brings us back around the loop to the point of beginning and what I was thinking about my personal frustration with all the bitching that’s going on.

Of course, there’s a lot to bitch about. The cryptogon site, for example, has been doing a remarkable job of pulling together news items from a diversity of highly credentialed sources that, taken simply at face value, weave together like the threads of an “in the making” tapestry which could be most appropriately labeled “Forget about civil rights – Homeland Security is here.”

More than frightening, stuff like this makes me want to scream. I want to climb the highest mountain and beseech the heavens, weep and grovel at the alter of our collective social consciousness, prostrate the entirety of my pitiful being in abject devotion to the Great and Powerful… begging and pleading for sanity to rise up and sweep like a plague across the land.

I want to bitch at someone. I want to kick someone’s butt and shout: Stop it, damn it! Don’t you see that we’ve walked this despicable path a gazillion times, bannering every flag of allegiance ever conceived by our arrogant, immature, selfish, and fear-based consortium of “daddy knows best” academia…?

Have we not yet learned our lessons? Do words like gulag and interment camps have no meaning to us? Can we not see the handwriting on the wall, recognize the iconoclastic symbolism and defeat the axis of evil that strangulates liberty, justice, respect and loving kindness for all…???

When do we grow up? When do we stop doing dastardly deeds in the name-sake of indignant self-righteousness and exclusively contrived self-justification? When do we stop behaving like insane fools and begin working diligently, with heartfelt determination, in the activity of getting along?

Because frankly, I feel like the bickering is killing me. Killing all of us, really. Slowly and painfully suffocating every glad tiding, constricting all the pleasure and meaning from our collective breast. And yet we are our own murderers. “We have met the enemy and it is us,” choosing over and over again, it seems, to make war rather than wage peace.

And I think about that… the activity of waging peace. And I wonder, just what does that look like? What would it look like, really, if we (being that entire group of us who see value and find meaning in the thoughts behind the words of this page) simply blinked an eye and in the effervescent lub-dub of a heartbeat managed to invert all our masterful tactical processes proactively upon the empowerment, enablement, and enactment of peace…???

But here, of course, is where the fly gets in the ointment because there is a faction of us who, with all the will they can muster, have chosen to believe that terroristic tactics are a necessity in order to safeguard the sanctity that *they* hold most dear.

And if “we” (being the “offended”) fail to retaliate, refuse to seek vengeance, and abstain from all forms of combative action, then we think ourselves to be fools, pantywaists, nincompoops, cowards and unpatriotic disloyalists. We convince ourselves that the way of life we cherish and the tenets we hold most dear are endangered, poised to be vanquished by some impending evil… and that we shall, like naïve innocents, fall victims to our lack of savoir fare.

And in this thinking, we blind ourselves to the truth: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.”

The simple truth is that until and unless we replace all adversarial efforts with aggressive policies for waging peace -- making it our #1 priority to ensure that ALL of us have clean water, nourishing food, comfortable and secure housing, excellent health care, necessary transportation, vital education and adequate livable space – the truth is that liberty and justice for all just ain’t gonna happen.

And the truth is that “all” includes each and every one of “us.”

You and me.

It’s stuff like this that makes me wanna bitch. But it is also why I choose to stand my ground and proactively turn the other cheek.

West Nile Virus...
According to an August 8 report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “State officials believe West Nile Virus will cost (Arkansas) counties $3 million to $5 million for mosquito control during a time when the state is experiencing a budget crunch.” In concert with this, Governor Huckabee has declared a “state of emergency” to qualify Arkansas for federal funds which will augment ongoing pesticide application and mosquito eradication programs.

Every commentary I’ve heard on this subject touts these efforts as a sane, humanitarian, and sensible thing to do. But something about this public service venture disturbed me, so I invested my morning surfing the Web, hoping to either dispel or document the cause of my personal alarm.

For background and statistical analysis, I explored the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Pesticides Programs websites. Wending my way through reams of studies, charts, tables, and highly technical digests, I learned much more than I really wanted to know.

According to the EPA, “Officials responsible for mosquito control programs make decisions to use pesticides based on an evaluation of the risks to the general public from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes… (and) select specific pesticides… in order to achieve effective control of mosquitoes with the least impact on human health and the environment.”

Boy, I thought, this really sounds good; having a team of scientific gals and guys measuring the pros and cons of pesticides, and weighing these alongside both the short-term and long-term human risks and benefits. This, I thought, is how I want my government dollars spent. I was ready to cheer “Bravo!”

But that annoying little voice in the back of my head -- the same voice that says “the kids are being too quiet… better see what they’re really up to” -- niggled me. So I read on.

Wading through terms like Microbial Larvicides, Methroprene, Temephos, Monomolecular Films and Malathion, I endeavored to draw some type of layman’s conclusion about the risks and dangers these toxins pose to humans, wildlife, water quality, food production and the environment as a whole. And the first thing I noticed was that the phrase “does not pose unreasonable risks” was used a lot.

This got me wondering, when it comes to evaluating the risks of mosquito eradicating substances, what is the supposedly “reasonable” risk that all of us are being subjected to on behalf of this common good? And, though I am neither a biologist nor a toxicologist, certain things at the common sense level became crystal clear.

For starters, nowhere in any of the several dozen reports I examined was there any form of pesticide that has been endorsed as 100% safe. Factually, the terms used to describe the known toxic effects of these substances on humans and all kinds of critters -- including wild birds, reptiles, Honey Bees, earthworms, chickens, fish, shrimp, minnows and, of course, mosquitoes -- ranged from “nearly non-toxic” to “very toxic,” which provoked me to wonder… What does “nearly non-toxic” mean?

Reading on, I discovered that the known and identified results of exposure to these substances is modestly well documented, at least as it applies to the “lower” species such as bugs, birds and fish. Consequences include such things as physical malformations, impaired abilities and, obviously, death.

But at the “higher” end of the food chain – including cows, deer, pigs and humans -- consequences are largely unknown and are, quite honestly, fundamentally unknowable. The chemical compounds of pesticides are too complex and the opportunities to purposefully test for side-effects on humans are non-existent. I mean, who in their right mind would sign up to be a volunteer in a “let’s drink some pesticide and see what happens” research program?

Thus to my self-preservation instincts as a predator at the “top” of the food chain, all this seems to add up to a hugely uncalculated risk which carries the legitimate potential to do all of us life-threatening harm.

Especially when you take into account that some studies suggest that the theoretically inert “impurities” which account for roughly 5% of pesticide content may be more toxic than the pesticide itself.

Thus what I derived from my morning of research was that we, as a scientific community, know very little about either the immediate or long-range risks and ramifications of pesticides, except that they are all toxic and are known to have grossly un-healthy effects. Obviously, they are intended to be this way because they are designed to kill.

With this information as a backdrop, I took a look at the U.S. Census and discovered that in the year 2000 something like 2,673,400 people lived in the great state of Arkansas. I also discovered that about 10% of our population dies every year.

This is a sorrowful statistic. It hurts to lose a loved one. But death is not synonymous with tragedy or disaster because, at base line, death is unpreventable. It is a natural consequence of life.

Considering this undeniable evidence, I thought some more about those scientific and government types who are, theoretically, evaluating the risks the general public is exposed to by the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus (WNV), alongside the risks posed by the pesticides we’re using to reduce this public health threat. With data provided by the CDC and my trusty calculator in hand, I began doing a bit of my own hypothetical yet pragmatic math.

I supposed that all 2,673,400 Arkansans were, right now, bitten by mosquitoes infected with WNV. This being the case, roughly 1% us (26,734 people) would develop a severe flu-like or more serious illness and of that 1%, about 10% (2,673 people) would die as a result.

Wow, I thought, that’s a goodly amount of people. But then, that little voice countered, remember that this is as if EVERYONE in the state got bitten, all at the same time. The scenario is unrealistic, thus the calculation is patently false.

Seeking to be more realistic, because “risk assessment” is *supposed* to take known information and project probable outcomes from it, the likelihood is that even over a 10 year span only a small percentage of our population – let’s guess at 10% -- would be infected with WNV. And the factual reality is that no “real number” can be estimated because the great majority of those folks who are exposed to the virus will never in any way get sick.

But wandering a little further down this imaginary trail, let’s suppose for a moment that every year 1% of our population (26,734 people) are bitten by a WNV infected mosquito. Of these, only 1% (267 people) will experience a severe flu-like or more serious illness. And of these possibly 10% (27 people) will die.

Now consider that roughly 263,740 Arkansas folks are going to die every year anyway from old age, auto accidents, suicide, cancer, other infectious diseases, and so on. And also consider that, statistically speaking, environmental causes of disease (such as drinking water and food crop contamination by pesticides) are known to be on the rise.

Given all this information, quite frankly I have to wonder: Are the unknown consequences of the undetermined environmental and health risks we all must endure by exposure to a compounding build up of toxic chemicals in our environment a good trade off in the hopes of possibly preventing an estimated total of 27 annual deaths?

For my part, if death itself were entirely preventable I believe I would be inclined to say yes.

But the facts, logically handled, strongly indicate that we are endeavoring to preclude a predictable and ultimately unpreventable attack of the headless horseman on a surmised few at the expense of the identifiable many… subjecting ourselves, our children and our children’s children to the unknown consequences of an undetermined yet absolutely foreseeable environmental and health risk by contributing to the build-up of toxins in our environment… and wasting millions of dollars that could otherwise be spent on viable life enhancing measures (like finding a cure for WNV and other dastardly diseases) at the same time.

With respect, I wish we had a Governor and other public leaders that would compile scientific information, evaluate it with logic and reason, factor in percentages for ALL the known risks, and make decisions that are truly supportive of our immediate and long-range common good.

Sadly, it seems like what we’ve got are folks who would rather declare statewide emergencies to aggrandize political prowess and reap financial gain while putting the health and well being of the general populace at risk.

Another day at the office...
I've been taking a break from thinking these past few days. I've simply had too much to do.

And what, might you ask, is it I've been so busy doing? Well, truth be told, I rightly don't know. I can't remember because, like I told you, I wasn't thinking!

Honest and truly, don't you find this is true? Like when you're driving home from work and your brain and body just sort of go on autopilot while your mind drifts off somewhere... and suddenly you realize that you've turned the corner right in front of your house but have no conscious recollection of getting there!

I've done that... though not recently. And it scared the Dickens out of me when I came to my senses and realized what I did.

Boy... did I ever say sweet prayers of thankfulness that evening!!!

But I still do it... "lose myself in the moment," that is. Except I no longer allow myself to do it behind the wheel of a car. If I was a risk-taker, I'd learn to sky-dive or climb rocks.

Yet when I'm sitting here at my desk, immersed in "the project of the moment," giving myself over to the images I jostle and playing with the pixels on this screen, my brain and body still shift into automatic and my mind cruises on overdrive. Which brings us back to the place where I started this merry message... because that's precisely what I've been up to these last several days.

But enough of this Tom-foolery. Time to get back to the business at hand which is, first of all, to point you in the direction of a little pictorial of the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races, held in Heber Springs last weekend.

And now that you're feeling really good about life (Wasn't that dip in Greers Ferry Lake just great!), let's put on that thinking cap:

On Saturday, August 3, starting at 12noon, there was a gathering of folks dedicated to forever removing the sales tax from food here in the Great State of Arkansas with a Constitutional Amendment. My hubby and I attended the public meeting, held at the  Community Center, 273 Factory Rd. (east off U.S. Hwy. 65)  in Clinton. Their "Ax the Tax" pitch is good. To get your very own copy of the the petition, click here for a PDF. For details, contact R.L. Reed, rlreed@hypertech.net, 501-745-6341 or visit www.lpnweb.org.

Next on the agenda, on Thursday, August 8, Governor Huckabee made an appearance in the fair city of Clinton at the Western Sizzlin' Steakhouse on U.S. 65. The purpose of his presence was (who can guess?) of a fundraising nature and entry to the "dessert & coffee" program lightened  wallets by $25 each.

Christine Weiss
editor@gozarks.com

Hey! Come visit us at SassafrasWilds!!!

 

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CLICK HERE
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<< MUST READ >>
Blowing the Whistle on West Nile Virus



Looking for some
"good news"???
Read about
Wilma Walker

or enjoy one of these
Essays by Alice
 

September 6
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
Mara Leveritt, Award Winning Arkansas Journalist, speaks out on failed drug policy.
 click for details


UN Calls on World Leaders to Commit to a Sustainable Future
Johannesburg Summit Opens With Calls for Credible Action
click for details


Herbal Heath Care professionals challenged by
State of Arkansas.

Say what...???
click to read more...
 


Click here to see what readers are thinking  about this West Nile Virus and other stuff.


Commemorating Elvis
Elvis.com - The Official Site
By Alice Chambers


Wanna know more about West Nile Virus and pesticides?
ABC News report.

And for the real nitty-gritty on mosquito borne diseases, here's something from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

West Nile Virus and Bioterrorism... is there a connection? What do the experts think?

(Thanks to our dear friends Mary Alice and Paul for sharing the above info-links!)

 

 

 

In the interest of fanning the most valiant flame and adding fuel to a vibrant fire, Gozarks is pleased to debut our brand new Liberty, Justice & Democracy section... which we hope will become a personal treasure for you!!!

Visit the brand new Website of the VBC Special School!

HEY!!!
My house is
for sale!

CLICK HERE


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