Now here’s a truism. One cannot feel bad about the world, at whatever scale, when one pets a dog. I have observed my wife, Jean, kissing and cuddling anyone of our three dogs and she is in a beautiful mental place. Same for me
I love all our three dogs but Oliver, below, is so in tune with me that I swear he practically understands what I say!
So when recently I read a post about the positive effects on mental health that owning a dog provides I just had to share it with you. It was first published in The Dodo.
Petting A Dog Is Good For Your Brain
As if we needed another reason to love them more ❤️
Dog parents already know that petting a dog is one of the best things ever.
And as it turns out, science agrees. While some studies have shown that petting a dog can both lower your stress and release the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin, new research suggests that petting a dog is good for your brain in other ways, too.
Scientists in Switzerland claim in a new study that when you pet a dog, you can get a boost of brain activity in the frontal cortex — a crucial part of the brain that controls attention, working memory, problem-solving, thinking and emotional reactions.
During the study, participants hung around a pup while fitted with a scanner. They started out just watching the dog from across the room, gradually getting closer until they could pet him. Then they did the same thing with a stuffed animal.
And when comparing both scenarios, researchers discovered there was a stronger boost of brain activity when the real dog was nearby and available for a few pets.
This study just goes to show how great therapy animals truly are, since they can boost the cognitive and emotional activity in the brain of their human in ways a stuffed animal can’t.
“If patients with deficits in motivation, attention and socioemotional functioning show higher emotional involvement in activities connected to a dog, then such activities could increase the chance of learning and of achieving therapeutic aims,” study lead author, Rahel Marti, told CNN.
While pet parents already know just how awesome petting a dog is, it’s good to know the positives of bonding with a pup are endless — just like their love for us.
I am at the age where I am very anxious to do all that is good for my brain. This “... frontal cortex — a crucial part of the brain that controls attention, working memory, problem-solving, thinking and emotional reactions.” hits the target.
This is a great article as I said at the head of this piece.
Dogs are the perfect companions for us humans; body and mind!
In the vast majority of countries our pet animals have few, in any, legal rights.
Thus it was a wonderful reminder of another example of how the Swiss government sets the lead in so many ways to read on the Care 2 site how that country looks after their animals. Laura Burge offers the details in this republication of an essay on Care 2.
10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet
Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including the farm animals that dot the countryside. Although far from perfect, it has a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals within the country, including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Specifically, it included a provision that allowed for the protection of animal dignity.
Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst.
1. Guinea pigs must live with or have regular playdates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.
2. The Swiss have your cat’s social life in mind, too — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.
3. Surprisingly, goldfish must also have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually social animals.
4. Rabbits’ enclosures must have a dark area that they can retreat to, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area of their enclosure helps ensure that bunnies are happy and less stressed.
5. Fish must live in aquariums that experience natural day and night cycles, and have at least one opaque side.
6. Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.
7. Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, and, as much as possible, off leash. Everyone knows that different dogs have different levels of energy, so whether someone has a lazy Great Dane who just wants to walk around the block, or a bouncing terrier who needs to run, the law accounts for it.
8. Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, and the rest of the time, must be able to move around in at least 20 square meters of space. While this may not seem ideal, since dogs are still allowed to be tied up, it means that there’s a national law on the side of the pet if the owner is using a choke chain or the dog is not getting time to run around freely.
9. Parrots, also considered social creatures, are required to have a companion to spend their days with. The legislation can be eye-opening in how many creatures need others of their own kind to have a relaxed and happy life as a companion to people.
10. Clipping the ears or tails of dogs is not allowed. It is considered undue pain and damage, and dogs get to live out their days with their natural floppy ears and wagging tails.
While Switzerland, like most other countries, are far from achieving perfect animal welfare laws and enforcement, they have made some good progress that other countries would do well to keep an eye on.
Photo credit: Laura Burge, author
Did you spot that four out of those ten laws that were described in the article were for the well-being of dogs!
And even better than that is a State in the USA that also comes to the rescue, legally, of abused animals. Tune in tomorrow for the full story.
At Wat Samphran in Nakhon Pathom Province there is a 17 storey building that has a giant dragon climbing to the roof.
The head is at the top where there is a shrine and the tail is on the ground floor. The dragon is hollow and it is possible to walk up some sections of it.
This house was designed by Rudy Ricciotti. The unique architecture includes a pool house, which is like a window in the living room where you can enjoy not only swimming in the water, but the person swimming in it with the effect of the outdoor landscape which is reflected through the window.
The Aiguille du Midi cable car leaves from the centre of Chamonix. It takes visitors up to 3,842m (12,605 feet) for a stunning view of the French Swiss and Italian alps.
Paradise! Jungfrau Mountain Range in Switzerland
HallgrÃmskirkja (244 ft), is the largest church and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland.
The Melisanni Cave, Greece. This beautiful cave, which was discovered in 1951 and is surrounded by forests, features in Greek mythology as the cave of the nymphs.
New Town Hall in Hanover, Germany.
Thermal baths inside a cave – Miskolc Tapolca, Hungary
Piva Canyon, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lake Mellisani on the island of Kephalonia, Greece.
Hope you found these photographs as captivating as I did.
Institutionalized insanity versus intelligent thinking – a reflection.
This appeared on Patrice’s Blogsite on January 11th and is republished with his very kind permission. You may want to bookmark Patrice’s blogsite, which is here. The sub-heading of his blog is ‘Intelligence at the core of humanism‘ and, trust me, that is not an overstatement of the wisdom that is contained within his blog, as the following nobly illustrates.
Aphorism January 2012
Species Shifting North, Intelligence Left Behind:
Nothing like raw numbers. In the last twenty years, Europe warmed up by one degree Celsius (about 2 degrees in the primitive, less meaningful Fahrenheit system). That’s equivalent to a thermal shift of 249 kilometers north.
Insects responded by an average shift north of 114 kilometers, and birds by only 33 kilometers. This is creating imbalances (fully obvious in Alaska, and high altitude North America, where the insects move faster than their predators, killing entire forests, which then burn).
This differential adaptation also illustrates an important point the stupid partisans of the “market” always neglect: being more intelligent can make you slower. Birds are more intelligent than insects, so they find harder to leave their families, friends, habits, and landscapes they are familiar with behind. (No, I will not say that insects are more like Americans, driven by the market, and birds more like Europeans, driven also by broader values. I shall resist, lest I move too fast, like an insect, and outrage part of my brainy readership…)
Thus, as the market dominates, so does the stupid.
Adaptation is not always a manifestation of intelligence, and inadaptation often a sign of intelligence. A well known experience is to put a fly, or a bee, inside an open bottle, with a light source opposed to the opening. The bee will search intelligently the bottom of the bottle, where the exit ought to be. The less intelligent fly will buzz around stupidly, and exit first.
It’s no wonder that the partisan of the markets, who are richer and thus more influential, are for something stupid, as they are faster, precisely because they are more stupid, with fewer values, besides the colossal greed which dominates their psyche. So there is a non linear vicious loop, the more the market dominates.
Thus, next year the candidate historically financed by Wall Street will confront the extremely wealthy businessman cum politician, son of his father, also a governor cum businessman. Market against market: the market should not lose. The birds will be left behind by the fast moving insects, once again. Change you can’t believe in.
Where is everybody?
“Lord” (!) Martin Rees, “Astronomer Royal”, Nobel laureate, etc., complete with pretty pictures and beautifully spooky music, speculates it’s teeming with aliens out there.
But as Enrico Fermi quipped:”Where is everybody?“
The situation is not helped by us understanding very little about what the universe is made of. In the latest numbers I saw the universe was made 4% conventional matter, and the rest was… Dark. Mostly Dark Energy, with some Dark Matter. Who said the Dark Side was not important?
There are no dominant theories of what the Darkness is made of.
CERN should be able to find stuff below its energy reach. So far, nothing.
We have detected more than 150 planets. It seems one star out of ten, at least, has planets. Some have been detected in the habitable zone, where liquid water is found. But the water has to be continuously present for billions of years. Continuously (which did not happen on Mars and Venus).
400 billion stars in our galaxy. The big question is how many planets can harbor advanced (=oxygen breathing) life. No inkling of that. There are plenty of planets out there, indeed, but most hostile to life. So far. How Much Intelligent Life Out There? On Earth, it took 1.5 billion years to go from advanced life to intelligent, civilized life. A lot of things can go wrong in 1.5 billion years.
That advanced life did not develop on Mars or Venus is not an accident: although on the outskirts of the habitable zone, either planet did not have what it took. Mars was too small, and, just like Venus was not protected by a powerful plate tectonic, with accompanying magnetic field, among other problems (so the solar wind blowing the top of the atmosphere stole the hydrogen, hence water, etc.)
My hunch is that most planets in the hospitable zone, when found, will be bereft of advanced life, although primitive life may be quite frequent. Reason? Too many miracles at work for billions of years in the solar system. Especially in light of what we find out there (We see plenty of Jupiter size planets in close orbits around their suns, presumably after sweeping their entire system clean; OK, that’s partly a result of the method used to find planets presently, but the fact is, we find such situations aplenty! The presence of Jupiter out there, as our guardian protecting Earth from comets looks quite miraculous…)
If You Want To Save the Biosphere, Push Tech:
Some people in the Netherlands have suggested building an artificial mountain. It’s feasible, and would be smart to do, not just there, but say in a place such as Saudi Arabia (technical variations on the theme could collect water, as in cloud, or fog forests found in California or Peru).
Another point is that artificial mountains could help protect biological diversity from the greenhouse heating. Cynics would point out that it would take an enormous amount of energy to build them. True, with present tech, and the energy would be dirty too, presently. But that would be another motivation to go green. Green and big.
Most wind-driven energy system in Europe? Denmark. Most CO2 polluting country in Europe? Denmark. Coal power plants pick up the slack when the wind falters. Another case where nuclear offers its smiling face. Future nuclear that is. Not your great grandfather’s nuclear. Past nuclear tech should be terminated, just like coal. However, there are 100 unexploited, un-researched nuclear energies out there, and only those with insignificant waste will be acceptable. (Nobody would accept a fossil fuel system where only 2% of the fuel would be burned, and the rest allowed to pollute all over!)
Reminder: as the greenhouse heating proceeds, winds will falter because the heat differential between poles and equator will sink, thus shutting down that thermal engine known as the atmosphere (yes, hurricanes will be rarer, but fiercer).
Institutionalized insanity Versus Thinking Right:
In Switzerland a nuclear plant was built one kilometerdownstream from a dam, along the same river. None of those two could resist the sort of very strong quake happening occasionally in the Alps. A flood cum nuclear explosion is entirely imaginable. This sort of insanity has nothing to do with nuclear power, it has everything to do with lack of intelligence.
This is all the more strange since some Swiss cantons such as Valais get 20% of their GDP from research. By the way themedical drug sector part of GDP is twice the banking sector in Switzerland. For those who wonder why Switzerland is so rich (the same holds for Sweden and other Nordic company). It’s not (just) about the banks.
(More) Direct Democratic Keeps Bankers At Bay:
The weight of direct democracy has forced Swiss banks into reserve requirements twice those of the future Basel III regulations. (In other words, banks are many times tamer in Switzerland than in the USA, if one uses reserve requirements enforced as a measuring device; Basel III does not cover most of the enormous derivative trading, though.)
The scandal of the central banker heading the Swiss Central Bank buying dollars days before taking the decision of making the dollar explode up against the Swiss franc keeps unfolding. Yes, he knew about the trades, and yes, he had days to stop them afterwards.
It is dawning over Swiss society that those with privileged information should not be legally allowed to exploit them. The whole planet has to follow down that line. But, although it has been obvious for years that American and European politicians and central bankers are rich from insider trading, nothing has been done. Yet.
The Plutocrats Cash Out And Shame Does Not Count:
What looked to me as the immensely stupid and arrogant wife of the Swiss Bank President, explained herself from Singapore, where she owns an art gallery. If she really wanted to make real money out of her husband’s job, she knew how to do it, she asserted confidently. And there she was going through a list (a), b), c), d), etc… of things she would have done if she wanted to make more than the measly $75,000 she made. And how to make them secretly, she insisted.
Her name is “Kashya”, appropriately pronounced “Cashia”. In this case, Cashia said, in her native American English, they were in a rush, because they just had some cash from selling a chalet to store, so that is why she hid nothing. That brings a few questions, such as whether she is used to exploit the mechanisms of further cheating she explicated so adroitly on TV. The central banker, the plutocrat Hildebrand, having resigned, will get a million dollar salary in the next year, from the People, while his fellow plutocrats will rush to propose him a much more protitable conspiracy to join. I propose to put him in jail, instead.
Another Claim Of Mental Decline. And The Agenda Behind It: There Is No Good Wisdom, Except Dead Wisdom, Say Plutocrats:
Supposedly some new test showed a decline in “cognitive capabilities” starting at age 45. Apparently people were asked to remember lists of words starting with some particular letters. It does not seem to have come to the mind of the experimenters that maybe older brains do not like to remember such stupid stuff.
Thinking means motivating. Without the right motivation, there is not the right thinking.
In the case of “IQ”, a decline is observed at 24, some say… Military officers would concur that it is better to send 18 year olds to die, because they are bright enough to execute orders well, but not so bright that they would know that they might die for no good reason.
A related point: no doubt a two-year old training to go potty remembers very well each time she goes. Whereas an adult tends to lose this facility of neurological retention for this sort of event. One generally observes. But it is not because adults have suffered mental decline that they do not remember every poop. Simply, they have seen lots of poop passing by.
Actually the argument can be made that consciousness and conscious memorization are needed to deploy automatisms, but once those are in place, they are not needed anymore, and so consciousness, and conscious recall should not be present.
When I was a young driver, I remembered everything I did when driving a car, but now I do it automatically, remembering very few of my gestures. When driving, my consciousness is mostly watching for the unforeseen.
Is there a political interpretation explaining such mental declines claims? Indeed, there is. As people get older, they elaborate higher wisdom. Thus, although the soldiers of revolution are typically very young people, because they have their aggression hormones less tempered by wisdom, the leaders of revolution are typically much older.
Let me explain this carefully: fascist and plutocratic leaders typically claim that they are “conservatives“. It means that they justify their mean rule by a refusal to adapt to changed circumstances.
As the French revolution stirred, the most esteemed leaders were senior citizens such as Voltaire or Benjamin Franklin, and everybody looked up to them, from Louis XVI to Turgot; on the Dark Side, many of the leaders, such as the Comte d’ Artois, were barely teenagers.
Closer to us, in WWII, the SS seduced many a 16 year old. In the last few weeks of the war, many of the most enraged Nazis fighting to the bitter end with the allies in the mountainous heart of Germany were school children with heavy weapons. In more than one case, disgusted American GIs, reluctant to blow up some more enraged children to bits, sent their school mistresses to negotiate with them!
If the (plutocratic) establishment can claim that revolutionary wisdom is actually the fruit of mental decline, presto, no revolution. It will be “conservatism” all the way.
Why Do We Want To Always Support Winners?
Supporting the home team is easy to understand: this is the tribal instinct. Human beings are social, they have to love the group, thus dislike what hinders the group, namely, other groups.
One has to love the leader(s) of the group, the alpha(s). In general, to abate social tensions, an instinct has got to exist, which makes the oppressed love the oppressor, or let’s say, the inferior love the superior. or even love the winning group, to be motivated to join it. Something more plausible to females. Hence Beatlemania.
If One Wants Happiness, One Should Prepare For The Worst:
Pe Romaneste: So happiness must be an accident.
Alexi Helligar: There seems to be greater power in the accidental than we imagine.
Patrice Ayme: Indeed, to a great extent, everything is accidental. Realizing this means that those who complain that something happened accidentally, and, thus, was not expected, have not understood the first thing about causality. Accidents is how the world happens. Wisdom consists in anticipating their occurrence, and having a plan B, should they occur.
Brutality Is Friendly To Plutocracy, Long Life Friendly To Wisdom:
Only wisdom can allow long life. Really very long life, lasting centuries, for individuals or civilization. Short lives are brutish, and this has the consequence in many a perpetrator, to spurn whatever life is offered. Indeed a good way to spurn something is by devaluing it. The brutality of the human condition is self reinforcing…
This why human life extension is a necessity, a preliminary, for the extension of wisdom. Because as long as lives are short and brutish, the short and brutish way of life is all too optimal, for all too many people (although those with children, or grandchildren they love will disagree, but they are not necessarily a majority).
This is something that life spurning plutocrats such as Mr. Jobs have been busy not understanding, as brutality is their friend.
Plutocrats Love Death Indeed:
Steve Jobs, despite leaving Reed College after six months, was asked to give the 2005 commencement speech at Stanford. Why? Did Jobs invent anything important? (Disclosure: My Mom offered me an ultra light Mac Air, and I love it.) No, he was just an artistic technology integrator, but not necessarily as mechanically oriented as a car mechanic (his partner Wozniak was the programmer, but even this one finished his college studies in computer science, 20 years later, at Berkeley, and found them hard!)
In his Stanford address, delivered after Mr. Jobs was told he had cancer, but before it was clear that it would ultimately claim his life, Mr. Jobs told his mesmerized audience of naive sheep that “death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent.”
In this light, the invasion of Iraq by Bush and his fanatical followers made sense: by visiting more than one million deaths upon Iraq, the USA brought the single best inventionof life. Everybody, or more exactly 83%, including a majority of Stanford students, agreed, at the time.
Is this love of death why Jobs refused conventional medical treatment initially, until it was too late? Jobs insisted that the benefit of death, is you know not to waste life living someone else’s choices. I guess that extended to the medical.
Verily, death came first, and was denied by life. Life is the denial of death. Life did not have to invent death.
Hormuz Crisis Versus Suez Crisis: Spot The Difference!
Why did the USA not get upset when Nasser seized the Suez canal, in 1956? And actually why did the USA instead use the occasion to threaten Israel, Britain and France? Not just that, butpresident Eisenhower aligned himself with the Egyptian, and Soviet dictators. The Soviets, while invading Hungary, killing at least 40,000 Hungarians, threatened to atom bomb London and Paris. With the loud acquiescence of the USA… Which got France and Britain, not the mass murderous USSR, condemned at the United Nations’ general Assembly. What a crazy week it was.
And now, 55 years later, lo and behold, the USA is getting all upset as Iran wants to stop what’s going on below its nose in the strait of Hormuz? Just asking. Inquiring minds want to know.
Is it that in 1956, France and Britain were viewed as preys of the USA? And now that the USA has grabbed everything from France and Britain, they want to be friends again? Because the rich need servants, maybe? In any case, the Suez Crisis was an incongruous reminder that, in 1939, the USA was allied with the USSR and Nazi Germany, against France and Britain (oopss, something one should never say!)
And my advice would be to be very careful with Hormuz. If one wants long life, one does not want long wars. And one does not want fossil fuels. The sooner we get rid of fossil fuels, the better, and if Hormuz helps that way, so be it. The messy Iranian theocracy will not win a waiting game.
No Change, No Life!
What the USA needs to do is to do what all serious countries do, and have always done: change its constitution, since the changed circumstances require it.
Cool Is Not Cool:
“Cool”. Why is “cool” such a popular word? Is it supposed to correspond to an attitude? Is it a mark of, and a tool for, our subjugation?
So Obama is confronted to the greatest financial thievery in the history of civilization, and that leaves him “cool“? Having rebooted the perpetrators with public money he goes to them to ask for a billion to campaign for re-election? Cool? I mean: we are not supposed to blow our tops when we contemplate such injustice in the name of change we can’t believe?
In Europe, pretty amazingly intricate financial and semantic engineering is presently deployed to save the banks and the sovereign states entangled with them. There again the bottom line is that the resources of the countries are deployed for the exclusive enjoyment of the few, who happen to be the greatest swindlers ever. Although they are presented as too big to flay.
Actually the same technique as in the USA, Quantitative Easing, is being deployed, and on a similar scale. But, as the head of the European Central Bank, an ex Goldman Sachs partner, pointed out sardonically, a scornful smile on the corner of his mouth, Europeans use a different semantic: they don’t call it Quantitative Easing.Therein the difference. Is not that cool too?
Is the greenhouse effect already that bad that cool is the ultimate state one ought to strive for with all of one’s being? Or are we supposed to reject our mammalian inheritance? Mammals, by being warmer, could do more. So, when climate change happened 65 million years ago, they survived (so did the very warm birds, who evolved from bird-like dinosaurs). Are we supposed to do less now, and not survive? Or then survive like crocs, deep in the mud, super cool, eating carrion?
Is “cool” imposed on us so that people know no higher emotional state than iguanas? Become cool like barnacles, as we cling to the existence the plutocrats condescend to leave us to enjoy? Being so cool we would not be like the American and French hot heads who came forth with new constitutions in 1789?
So is the celebration of “cool” what forces us to not be outraged, as plutocrats steal and burn the entire planet to forget about their megalomaniac angst? To forget they are just crazy critters in need of some restraint? Is “cool” the state slaves are supposed to be in to optimize the enjoyment of their masters? Is it only cool to be cool like corpses?
France anti-genocide law denounced by Turkey:
Now this is hilarious. France passed a law punishing convicted holocaust deniers by up to one year in jail and 45,000 euros fine.
Fine, indeed. Who would turn into a partisan, a defender of holocausts? Is not holocaust denial a form of hate speech? Holocausts remain a problem, because when one has killed most of a human group, there is nearly nobody to complain on their behalf: other people move on, as herbivores do, once one of them has been seized and devoured.
France’s national Assembly passed the anti-genocidal law, with bipartisan support. And what do you think happened?
Erdogan, the three time elected Prime Minister of Turkey, had a fit: how does France dare make holocaust denial a crime? He forbade French fighter jets to land in Turkey (so I guess the no fly zone over Syria will be delayed), recalled the Turkish ambassador to France, and stopped all talks with France.
And the questions are: why does the present government in Turkey love holocausts so much? Are holocaust such an endangered species that Turkey has to protect them with all its might?
Why does Turkey consider that a general attack against holocausts is an attack against Turkey? Is it because holocausts are intrinsic to the Turkish character? Or is it because holocausts are mentioned positively in the Bible and the Qur’an, and the present Turkish government is obsessed with the religion of the child molester Abraham? Is this why Erdogan is angry?
We Are Truth Machines.
That monkeys now build cities has not changed that truth. No hallucination added in the last 6,000 years has changed that truth either. Science is what we do, and what stands in the way of that fundamental truth, faces extermination.
“In a world dependent on fossil energies, Solar Impulse is a paradox, almost a provocation.”
Press release gobbledygook? Absolutely. But you’ve got to give it up for any company with the guts to try designing and building a true solar airplane.
We’ve written about Solar Impulse — it’s a consortium of European financial and technology parters led by the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland. The group is working on a solar-powered plane that can take off under its own power without generating any emissions at all. The general idea is that sunlight would not only power the plane during the day but would also charge its lithium batteries, allowing it to fly around the clock pollution free.
That was written May 12th, 2008. This is now! Landing at Brussels International Airport, May 2011.
With grateful thanks to John and Janet Z who sent this the other day.
Dear Ma and Pa,
I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.
I was restless at first because you get to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing!
Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there’s warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon when you get fed again. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.
We go on ‘route marches,’ which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it’s not my place to tell him different. A ‘route march’ is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks!
The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don’t bother you none.
This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why… The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don’t move, and it ain’t shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don’t even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes!
Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain’t like fighting with that ole bull at home. I’m about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake .. I only beat him once… He joined up the same time as me, but I’m only 5’6′ and 130 pounds and he’s 6’8′ and near 300 pounds dry.
Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.
There is currently a merry old ding-dong spat going on between the German and Swiss governments. Basically, someone has got hold of information about German citizens with bank accounts in Switzerland where they are hiding large sums on which they should pay German taxes.
This or these enterprising whistleblower(s) are offering to sell this data to the German government for a hefty fee. The German government is on the point of accepting to buy this “illegally-obtained” information from the (from the Swiss point of view) criminals who have stolen their secret bank data.
This story raises a large number of fascinating questions. It has long been common knowledge that Switzerland offers banking facilities with few questions asked. Any self-respecting criminal or tax evader has or had a secret, numbered Swiss account.
What has always amazed me is how they have got away with this for so long, stuck as they are in the centre of Europe. How is it possible that other countries have allowed Switzerland to become a haven for money obtained illegally in other countries?
For it is clearly immoral to profit from the illegal activities of foreign nationals, isn’t it? What exactly is the difference between this behaviour and “receiving stolen goods”? Worse, we have to remember that the largest sums come from drugs. Anyone willing to look after (or launder) drug money is complicit in the misery and deaths of millions of drug addicts worldwide. Yet the Swiss have pulled off this trick for decades. The Swiss banking (and government) fraternity has never shied away from shady dealings, being until the end of WWII covert supporters of the Nazis.
Well, Angela Merkel is going to do a deal with presumably Swiss “criminals” (according to the Swiss government) in order to recoup money it is owed by German criminals (according to Germany). What a merry old moral maze we have here. But in truth, the world is now too small and inter-connected to allow either tax evasion on a vast scale or the safeguarding of criminal funds.
Switzerland has to decide whether to remain as a supporter of tax evaders and gangsters (including of course African Presidents who have ripped their countries off in a big way) OR to join the real, civil, honest and inter-connected world.
The rest of us should stop tolerating this connivance with crime. “Client secrecy” is no excuse for condoning and profiting from crime.
More on the whole Nazi gold in Switzerland story is here.