Posted in book review

Vet’s long-lost wallet comes home

RE: 8/26/2018 The Los Angeles Times article of “Long-lost wallet’s unlikely return”

For the times passed by, you can just look away and say, “they are gone away” because they are woven by your memories that you have collected through life, willed or unwilled. They become part of you, making you of spirit, fire, and dew, an unique star in a constellation of the universe. Hence nothing could be more pleasingly surprising than discovering that part of you or your beloved kept in photographic images or words of the frozen time, evocative of distant nostalgia that beckons you to reminisce about them, by a happy stroke of serendipity paired with benevolence of a stranger. Something like that happened to Ms. Sharon Moore, a daughter of one former army corporal Robert McCusker.

When Ms. Moore received a “Friend” request from a certain Frenchman named Patrick Caubet on her Facebook page, she deleted it. But then Mr. Caubet messaged her inquiring about the lost wallet of her father Mr. McCusker with the pictures and documents contained therein that he had accidentally found in a basement of his building presumably used as an America officers’ social club. This time she responded and verified that it was her father’s. Prior to Mr. Caubet’s contacting Ms. Moore, he had launched a campaign for locating the rightful owner of the wallet, which encompassed an aid of his English-speaking friend and inquiries to the Pentagon and the U.S. Embassy for help to no avail. Then the help came from a French military office in Paris that located the names of Mr. McCusker’s children in just days. Being a military man himself with a certain feeling of soldierly camaraderie, he was determined to succeed in his campaign, which ultimately came to fruition.

Thanks to this benevolent efforts of one French military man, Ms. Moore and her brother living in Dover, New Hampshire, could reminisce about the lost pages of his Korean War veteran father who had died in 1983. The wallet had pictures of their mother and aunt, military documents, Massachusett Driver’s License, and a Social Security Card, all of which were still kept in a mint condition. Ms. Moore said that since she had her father’s Purple Heart, her brother would be in possession of the wallet that their father had lost on his way from the Korean War to home. In return of her gratitude, Ms. Moore sent Mr. Caubet a lovely basket full of sweet jars of maple syrup she had made herself, some of the candy her father had enjoyed, and a New England Patriots Jerky. Thus, the wallet became their treasure of their beloved father’s memories that they had not known – the terra incognita of their father’s memories before they came to the world -. It became the part of their memories that bound them together to the legacy of their lineage, reminding themselves of their father’s valorous war efforts as a soldier and of his tender loving memories of their mother as a man.

Amid the news of endless politicking, peddling of social media that goes beyond reasonable measures, and a litany of social ills, this article stroke me as a bonanza of altruism that still thankfully kept alive in everyday life, a fresh breath of air that made me feel grateful and hopeful for our future in which so long as we don’t lose a thread of sanity and milk of human kindness, we can make constraints of our lives bearable with a lightheartedness. The kindness of the Frenchman speaks to us that no matter what language you speak, the feelings and emotions that you and I have can strike the chords of our humanness because the principles of reason and of sentiment are universal in all human creatures. The return of the lost wallet as the living record of Ms. Moore’s father attests to the truth.

 

Posted in book review

Fiddlesticks! – on Smartphones

RE: 8/20/2018 edition of The Los Angeles Times on “Your smartphone is a teddy bear”

We are swimming in a dazzling sea of modern technological conveniences, and we are drowning in it, whether we are against it or not. We have come a long way since the inventions of a talking telegraph (a telephone), an electronic toaster, a walkman, and all other apparatuses that have become inseparable from us, to arrive here in the 21st century where we seldom begin and finish our days without gazing into (or being glued into) monitors with our hands on keyboards. Surely, it’s a marvelous human cultural progress, a fantastic collective enterprise of the human minds for betterment. Hip, hip, Hooray for the magnum opuses.

Apart from the marvels of our ingenious inventions that have made our lives a bit more bearable to fulfill our daily tasks, how about our non-technological aspects of life then? Do we really think that smartphones provision us with the bells and whistles of our equilibrium? At least two researchers at UC Irvine declare the resounding “Yes.” According to their recent study of psychological impacts of smartphones on our behavioral tendencies, the high-tech gizmo guarantees a feeling of security by saving us from social faux-pas in awkward situations. In fact, they “conclude” that smartphones function as efficacious stress relievers.

John Hunter and Susan Pressman are the names of such revelation, and they want to debunk the infamy of a smartphone as a mindless gizmo used for killing away our otherwise productive moments. They conducted an experiment that involved 3 experimental groups of those who had (1) the phones but were not permitted to use them; (2) the phones and were permitted to use them; and (3) no phones among a control group of UC students. The results were all over but the shouting: that those with the phones displayed less degree of anxiousness and anxiety than those who had none when they were purposefully estranged from the control group. Conversely, those without the phones exhibited the highest level of the stress hormone alpha anylase in the saliva. Besides, those with the phone but were not allowed to use them showed the least level of the stress hormone. Consequently, the researchers raved about these results, rhapsodizing about the positive effects of a smartphone on our psyche.

Neither a luddite nor an anachronist adhering to a primeval way of living, I am all for the munificent technological largess of our time with open arms because I also, inevitably, use it myself in my daily life. But the researchers’ triumphant conclusion of their experiment seems rather precarious and cursory in relation to the following speculations: (1) What were the age groups of their experimental groups? Did the researchers target a specific age group? (2) What were the education and social levels of the experimental groups?; (3) were there any variables in the experimental groups and the control group?; and (4) were the researchers by any chance funded by technologically-based companies?  These are the questions that my heart suspects more than my eye can see.

The image of a devil’s advocate is what I am donning on this topic, but this article pushed me into the position on account of rather superficial results of the experiment devoid of the information on the aforesaid speculations. Also, looking at people wallowing themselves in small smartphones everywhere, especially on the subway and the bus, other than books or kindles, renders an apocalyptic image of the world nearing the doomsday or a scene of horror creatures that turn into zombies every night. “Magnas civitas, Magnas solitude,” Francis Bacon once lamented a great feeling of isolation in a great city. That says it, I should think so. Our sense of belonging and security is not bound by a possession of smartphones, nor does it replace your sweet teddy bears.

Posted in book review

The Ills of Gentrification

RE: 8/10/2018 article of “A Home for Homeless Vets” by Teresa Watanabe of The Los Angeles Times

It has always been the case that those who who have suffered from afflictions of life appear to give helping hands to the bearers of the suffering. In Vigil’s Aeneid, when Aeneas and his people arrived at the shore of Carthage after the fall of Troy, the beautiful queen Dido welcomed the refuge with open arms and provisioned them with food and shelter and told Aneneas, “because I was once a sufferer of the affliction, I know how you and your people feel.” Now the time and space is translated in modern day California, and this very noble act of humanity in the figure of an old veteran solder continues.

A certain Japanese-American WWII veteran campaigns to provide affordable housing for veterans as well as low-income individuals and families at the risk of homelessness. He has even gone out of his way by establishing “Go for Broke National Education Center” in order to develop a five-story building on leased city land that would house the center and as many as seventy affordable housing units for the aforesaid applicants who find themselves between a rock and a hard place on the threat of eviction from their homes by landowners.

The article in fact brings light to the increasing number of homeless population that results from urban gentrification by which private developers plan to evict low-income residents from their newly acquired properties, so that such reworked properties will accommodate to the level of comforts required by those who can afford high rents, and thus create a totally new residential and commercial environments commensurate to the economic levels of the gentry.

The projection of building a low-income housing complex should be put into action forthwith without fail; it’s not about creating Skid Row, pace the popular opinions on such project in fear of tainting the atmosphere of communities and affecting the economic activities adversely due to the substantive presence of exiguousness incarnate.

I firmly believe that there should be more consorted efforts of fellowships of humanity as aforesaid to actively, substantially and tangibly help people in need to the extent possible by providing them with many more supportive “permanent” housing programs, not ad-hoc homeless shelters. It makes my head swivel in wonderment why politicians do not champion such existential programs, instead of hackneyed willy-nilly metaphysical ideologies that only divide this nation built upon liberty and justice. For if people are ruthlessly kicked out of their abodes just because they are undesirable in the eyes of the businessmen, where can they find liberty and justice to live their sovereign lives as resonated by the Gospel?

Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” – if you don’t give them the necessities of life? (James 2:15-16)

Posted in book review, Miscellany, Novellas

Modernization of Fishery is no about-face

RE: July 30th 2018 article of “A Fight over Amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act” by Robert F. Bukaly of The Los Angeles Times

photo (4)Ever a voracious reader of good books and sensible, informative articles of The Los Angeles Times, Paul Collie is immediately steeped in a headline of today’s newspaper; that is, an article he has just read in the Times about a fight over the present fishing laws. It is reported that some amendments were made to the laws, which are called “The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act”, a 42-year old rules regulating over-fishing of New England Sea Scallops and Bering Sea Crabs, and that they were approved by the House of Representatives on Monday. Subsequently, these changes have stirred a projected friction between fishermen and environmentalists mostly consisting of researchers, scientists, and radical natural/animal conservatory activist whose viewpoints are normally out of touch with realities.

photo (8)

As Paul is perusing  the article word for word as if he were tattooing it on the cerebral globe of his brain,  Paul’s thoughts are embroiled in a swirl of agitation and indignation that begins to brew a collection of words in a form of cogent opinion. ‘The amendments were favorable to many people and will promote business growth, especially commercial and recreational fishing groups that need to hire many more people.  The changes relate to a provision of managers with flexibility and refocus of the Act on sound science. It’s all about modernizing the management of recreational fishing! But those recalcitrant opponents who know nothing or little about dealing with constraints of daily task think that it is a rollback of the landmark law! There is no risk of over-fishing delaying the re-population of depleted fish! Logical Fiddlesticks!’

Paul has cogent reasons for his argument for the amendments to the Act: the purpose of the changes is to remove unscientific time frames that unnecessarily restrict access to fishery, which encompasses an revocation of a requirement for annual catch limits for certain fish species as aforesaid as well as amending rules about requirements to rebuild the stocks. He strongly believes that reauthorizing of the Act seems and is believed to be long overdue. As a matter of fact, Paul cannot help but link the article with The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley that he read last year with relish. In it, Ridley tries to enlighten the reader about the necessities of changes as part of cultural evolution for the betterment of mankind and the world itself. However, Ridley lays bare the the pressure of militant environmentalists who are evermore against any changes made to the agricultural as well as fishing industry. To Paul, their flagrantly truculent opposition to any such changes is a luxury disguised in the package of humanity/nature that only pampers their far-flung elitist attitudes that disregards or overlooks the need of everyday life.

Such is Paul’s axiomatic opinion on the article that he feels strongly. It’s not because he has a means of business, nor is his conservative tendency, nor his hereditary solidification of genes in the Proud Scottish Collie Family; but because the Act was unnecessarily binding the hands and feet of independent fishermen and other proprietors of the business tied to and related to fishery to overtly harsh conditions in which their households suffered under the strains of financial hardship. Which also brings Paul back to Act I, Scene 2 of Hamlet that illustrates the the hypocrisy of environmentalist dogmatism:

The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?

 

thanks-for-reading-Rok-Hardware

 

Posted in book review

Playing a legal gambit – Immunity under the aegis of the 2002 SAFETY ACT:

RE: July 28th 2018 article of “Immunity in case of attack: the 2002 SAFETY ACT would prevent legal claims from survivors by Matt Pearce of The Los Angeles Times

The cardinal purposes and functions of law in any civilized society per se are: (i) establishing standards; (ii) maintaining order; (iii) resolving disputes; and (iv) protecting liberties and rights of citizens, all of which transcend the subjectivity of time and culture in the universality of Reason as illustrated in the canons of the Decalogue, the Hammurabi Code, and the Napoleonic Codes. Since the law itself is immaterial – that is, devoid of feelings, emotions, and thoughts, its intrinsic nature is neutral. There is nothing either good or bad, but interpretation and applicability makes it so in the execution of justice.

That is exactly what MGM, the owner of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is trying to do with the law called the 2002 SAFETY ACT (“The SAFETY ACT”), which the company wants to use as an indemnity against their liability from last year’s Las Vegas shooting survivors’ lawsuits. The SAFETY ACT is an acronym for “The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act” passed after the Sept, 11, 2001, which allows companies to apply to the Department of Homeland Security to seek verification that their security products and services were beneficial. In exchange, Homeland Security would provide certification under the law, which is a portent immunity claim in federal court in case of a terrorist attack.

The SAFETY ACT defines the nature and kinds of terrorism in its own terms, discrete from the traditional counterparts based on an ideological agenda of law, thus leading to multitudinous interpretations of the law. To illustrate, the SAFETY ACT defines terrorism as acts “intended to cause mass destruction, injury or other loss to citizen or institutions of the United States.”

Could MGM, then, successfully escape from liability for the massacre of fifty eight people at a concert in Las Vegas last year on the ground of an act of terrorism under the protection of the SAFETY ACT with certification issued from Homeland Security? It all seems to me that human nature has not changed at all throughout the history of civilization. For example, indemnity from liability in the form of certification reminds me of the sale of Indulgence by the church in the medieval times, especially in Germany, which ultimately gave rise to Reformation led by Martin Luther. Or shall I compare it to a letter of Marquis from the Crown kept and carried about by English privateers (or more popularly known as “pirates”) because it protected them from being pursued by the Navy and gave free rein to pirating in open seas?

In my opinion, defendant MGM’s argument of the massacre as an act of terrorism does not hold water, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing because the company was responsible for duty of care owed to the concert attendees on the ground of a breach of duty by neglecting an assumption of unforeseeable and foreseeable risks. For if the case is rendered in favor of the company, it could be all systems go for all other negligent companies to misappropriate the otherwise sovereign protection from the  SAFETY ACT over any incident that lacks such political motive, such as this Vegas case. The authority of law should lay bare the facts and the truth, and there should be no fettering of authority in deliverance of justice.