Monday, October 15, 2007


Follow this link and see whether you perceive the dancer as spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. Then see if she changes direction on you.

For me, she was all about the clockwise--until suddenly in a blink she flipped the other way, then back a few moments later. I've found that while if I concentrate I can get her to flip directions, it's only for a few moments. The exercise appears to have right brain/left brain implications, though who really knows.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Consequences of ideas

As I said before, I supported the invasion of Iraq. I believed the slogans about peace and democracy in the Middle East, and I feared the weapons of mass destruction. So did Christopher Hitchens, who had written passionately about the rightness and good purpose of the invasion. Hitchens is a literate and persuasive man, and his words moved a young UCLA college student to join the Army and serve his country. That man, Lt. Mark Daily, was then killed in Iraq.

A friend sent Hitchens an article in the Los Angeles Times about Lt. Daily after noticing that Daily had been inspired by the writings of Hitchens to take the course that ultimately led to his death. Hitchens, who has since become deeply disturbed and disillusioned about the Iraq war, describes the moment he discovered he had influenced young Daily in his decision to enlist:
I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.?... I feverishly clicked on all the links from the article and found myself on Lieutenant Daily's MySpace site, where his statement "Why I Joined" was posted. The site also immediately kicked into a skirling noise of Irish revolutionary pugnacity: a song from the Dropkick Murphys album Warrior's Code. And there, at the top of the page, was a link to a passage from one of my articles, in which I poured scorn on those who were neutral about the battle for Iraq … I don't remember ever feeling, in every allowable sense of the word, quite so hollow.
Driven by remorse, Hitchens finds his way to speak and visit with Mark Daily's family. What follows is well worth reading, so I'll leave it at that.

The price that we are paying as a country for this war is a profound one. I won't bother to estimate the grief of those who have lost loved ones to the war. But I can't shake the feeling that aside from the obvious costs in dollars and strained military readiness, that we are not far from a public awakening to how deeply we were led astray and by the catastrophic failure of character that the Bush administration has demonstrated in its conduct of this war. And perhaps like Christopher Hitchens confronted with how his ideas had consequences he can never take back, that we may realize that the ideas and leadership that we consented to in the months after 9/11 have led to a nation that is not as good, not as strong, and not as right as the one we possessed in the days and weeks following that devastating day.