Friday, February 20, 2015

From The New York Time: Essay by Oliver Sacks

My Own Life

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

Photo
Credit Hanna Barczyk
A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well). 

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.


Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, is the author of many books, including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

John Ikerd: Vote No on Amendment One

Published on Jul 16,
2014 John Ikerd Ph.D. speaks against Missouri's Constitutional Amendment 1 also known as "Right to Farm"
St.Joseph MO Missouri's Food For America VoteNoOn1.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Trip to the Mt. House with Roy (Photos)

















For The Torture Apologists



by Dee Newman

As I wrote back in 2009, I’m sure, there are those who would love to watch Dick Cheney waterboarded until he cried “Uncle” and confessed that waterboarding is torture. But, most of us who recognized that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized by the Bush/Cheney Administration was actually torture have no interest in vengeance or retribution. What we have is a fervent desire and interest in upholding the rule of law and in preventing our government from ever again torturing anyone in our names.

What we are hearing from the “torture apologists” today is merely the re-hash of the same old rationalizations we heard Karl Rove and other spew out on Fox News and other networks six years ago.

Unlike President Clinton’s affair with an intern, it seems, to the torture apologists, the issue of torture is not serious enough to warrant moral outrage or legal action. Unlike the Japanese soldiers we sentenced to death for waterboarding our servicemen in World War II, the torture apologists, believe to prosecute those in the Bush Administration for doing the exact same acts would be “irrational vengeance.” To the torture apologists the decision by Bush&Co. to use waterboarding is just a “policy difference” between one administration and another.

What these folks seem to not understand is that this is not just about “policy differences,” as they would have us believe. No, this is a hell-of-lot more serious. It is about morality, the rule of law and the leaders of our precious country violating not only the international prohibition on torture, but also a number of federal statues and the United States Constitution, sanctioning and carrying out inhumane and illegal acts of violence against others.

Furthermore, it is about the fate of Americans captured behind enemy lines in future conflicts. The Bush Administration’s use of torture dramatically increased the likelihood that our servicemen and women will be tortured in the future. Failing to hold them accountable for their immoral and illegal actions, has only intensify the risk to our servicemen and women.

But, more than anything it is about who we are – our character and integrity!

According to the apologists, (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) waterboardering a person 183 times (six times a day) in less than a month is justifiable because they have convinced themselves it worked – that it kept our nation safe.

It always amazes me how rational people can rationalize anything. Apparently, the torture apologists 12-year-defense of the Bush administration has left them hopelessly attached to an immoral and illegal strategy of torture that they must now defend no matter how morally corrupt their efforts appear.

As Shepard Smith said six years ago on Fox News, (And, I paraphrase) It doesn't make any difference whether it kept us safe or not, THIS IS AMERICA! WE DO NOT TORTURE! no matter what.

The end can never justify the means even in a ticking-time-bomb situation, which we have never experienced. Two wrongs never make anything right.

I believe it is better to lose our lives than our values. That is what I call – true courage.

And, if you believe otherwise, you should, at the very least, have the courage to face the truth and consequences of you own actions in a court of law and let a jury of your peers determine your fate.

To continue to relentlessly defend the indefensible is not courageous – it is craven – so lacking in courage as to be worthy of contempt.

I have no desire for retribution. All I want is for those who authorized the so-called "enhance interrogation techniques" and their apologists to recognize and admit that what they did was WRONG!

Until they do the investigations should continue and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

AJ Lee Sings Sugar Moon with The Tuttles



AJ's debut CD – A Song for Noah has just been released. If you would like to order a copy click here.

http://www.aissalee.com/