SocraticGadfly: 2/18/07 - 2/25/07

February 24, 2007

No regrets over regrets if they’re not properly handled

I know holding on to regrets too much can be a dangerous thing. But, I don’t believe anyone can emotionally force himself or herself to just jettison old regrets. I think you have to work through them first. (Emotional “forcing” doesn’t work in general on about anything, for that matter.)

First, I think, finding out how much of the emotion behind the regret is sadness and how much is anger is very important. Then, working through that emotion is helpful, or even necessary. After that, “mourning/grieving” the fact that whatever the issue is didn’t turn out the way I wanted is also helpful. If the issue is big enough, or has sat unresolved enough, this can take a while, just like the stereotyped DABDA, the denial/anger/bargaining/depression/acceptance process of grieving in general.

“Even a poor tailor journalist has some right to happiness”

I just got a remastered DVD version of “Fiddler on the Roof” from Amazon this week. Letterbox version with some add-ons.

It’s one of my top movies of all time, even if folks at the American Film Institute can’t see fit to vote it into their top-100 list.

The undercurrent theme of tragedy, the elements of change, and the way the three romances are played off of that, are all key to why I like it, as is the music.

Anyway, the remastering has cleaned up the soundtrack as well as the video. And, in part due to my current churned-up emotional state, I certainly probably had the most teary viewing of Fiddler ever.

The quote (the original quote, not with the strikethrough) is actually first from Tevye’s oldest daughter, Tzeitel. Motel the tailor, her childhood sweetheart, repeats it when finally getting the nerve to tell Tevye he wants to marry Tzeitel himself. It resonates a lot with me.

February 23, 2007

Fear of “getting stuck” or “getting trapped”

That was the “fear beneath the fear” that hit me when I moved to Far South Lancaster.

For those of you who know me well, and know my “story” well enough, the fears of getting stuck, whether in a place that I don’t want to relate to as a place (or don’t relate to it well), or with a point in my job or career path, or with people in or not in my life, or what I’m doing or not doing about that, and fears about all that …

It should be no surprise that this fear of “getting trapped” relates to much more concrete fears of getting trapped … literally. Which often happened.

February 22, 2007

In the top 2,000 at Amazon

Enough book reading, and classical music listening, and reviews of this, and my Amazon reviewer ranking continues to rise, in spite of me not being afraid to two-star or even occasionally one-star some items, and comment in detail about why.


Poignancy is
A gentle sadness tingeing life
A gentle, tender, humble sadness
One that does not diminish joys when they come
But knows that every joy has seeds of pain
Of limitation, of human frailty,
A caressing sadness, too,
One of connection
Of oneness with this world.
And so I am poignant
Upon seeing near-bare trees
Of late fall, or
Pale, thin sunsets
In February.
Or a love grown old and cold,
Faded out of my life.
I embrace poignancy,
Knowing that my feelings, from my gentle
Sadness-tinged soul,
Are from my heart
And if I let them,
As I walk the path of growth,
They can help my healing.


Lancaster Town Square: Will it ever reach “the old days” again?

While perhaps not as pessimistic as my Lancaster Today predecessor, Chuck Bloom, I think the tornado of 1994 did change things permanently.

As far as Town Square, how many merchants stayed open late on Musicfest Thursdays in the spring and early summer? Other than Pablo at Amaya’s, you know the answer if you’ve lived there long enough.

So, while I opined in the past that it was regrettable that the city of Lancaster’s Parks and Recreation Department moved more and more of Musicfest away from Town Square, can you really blame Gary and his staff? The community picnic of April wasn’t totally reaching newer residents (but “reaching” does have to go both ways, even if it’s still theoretically easier for a “majority” to reach out to a “minority” than vice versa).

Second Saturdays were nice, but there’s a lot of other stuff against which they compete. Of course, when a lot of newer residents not only still consider themselves Dallasites, but illegally vote in Dallas elections, that’s a tough pull to overcome.

Well, two months is better than nothing, if the News is finally looking at Lancaster High

Word is somebody from the Dallas Morning News is going to interview LHS students today about the canned former health sciences teacher Nathan Smith. Will Goolsby or whomever ask the students what if anything they know about the why of the thefts as well as the thefts themselves?

And, is LHS principal Phil Randall getting touchy? Pulling teachers into his office and accusing them of speaking against them?

Remember, Phil, Larry Lewis is going to want these same teachers on the street two months from now campaigning for the next bond issue and not against it.

Why you shouldn’t buy magazines from a door-to-door teen crew

The problems include drug use, beatings, something approaching involuntary servitude, theft and worse.

Instead, call the police if you can get a name of a company from an adolescent seller; at least they can be moved out of town for not having a license. If the seller talks about boosting their chances to win a trip to DisneyWorld or similar, you know it's a fly-by-night scam artist company.

Then, from that young adult, see if they’ll talk honestly about how they’re doing and encourage them to get the hell out of the business if they talk about any problems.

How Mental Health Mental Retardation and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have failed, and crushed a man: the local story

My news story and column on a local mentally ill person's horrors in the criminal justice and mental health systems.

News story: The nightmare: Mental illness George's ultimate jailer; county staff, funds 'jailed' too

For many years, Aaron George has all too often been trapped by prisons of his own mind.

Unfortunately, when George is mentally incarcerated due to the effects of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, plus post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder - and, for the last year, a brain cyst - he often winds up also being physically confined in a jail cell.

His current residence, since Thanksgiving Day, is the Grimes County Jail.

Sheriff Donald Sowell has the unpleasant, and often frustrating, duty of being his jailer.

He, too, is incarcerated, in a sense. He is "locked up" by a small county's small jail budget, which includes not only a relative lack of manpower but no special facilities and no special training to give full care to people like George, who is the worst but not the only casualty of the state's, and nation's, mental health system to end up in his custody.

Read here for the rest of the news story:

And the column: The state of Texas' mental health care: It's criminal

Aaron George sits in the Grimes County Jail, deteriorating every day, becoming less and less functional, less and less himself, less and less "human" as a human being, all while leaving the sheriff and jail staff frustrated and helpless.

Sheriff Donald Sowell, through no fault of his own, is in an unenviable position. District Attorney Tuck McLain is left to potentially prosecute a case he'd rather not, even as the wheels of the judicial system grind so slowly George's case has not even gone before the grand jury yet for possible indictment.

It's criminal.

Whether Aaron George is a criminal now, or was in 1992, it's criminal that a bipolar schizophrenic sits in a county jail cell rather than a state mental hospital.

It's criminal that he sits there without proper medication, literally beating himself against the walls because voices and compulsions tell him to do so.

It's criminal that Donald Sowell, a small-county sheriff has to deal with cases like George's because jails like his become dumping grounds for mentally ill people who may commit crimes because of inadequate treatment.

It's criminal that the state mental health system leaves them stuck there, sometimes for a year or more.

It's criminal that mental illness, besides any actual crimes committed by a mentally ill person, still has a quasi-criminal taint to it, whether in Grimes County or anywhere else in the state.

It's criminal that many people may still think mental illness issues can just be swept under the rug.

It's criminal that state officials believe this enough that the prison system faces another serious lawsuit, this one from advocates for mentally ill inmates.

It's criminal that the Mental Health Mental Retardation budget gets slashed year after year.

It's criminal that MHMR doesn't have more state hospitals and beds, along with halfway houses or group homes.

It's criminal that more and more of the functions of Child Protective Services get privatized to untrained people by Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature.

Read here for the rest of the column.

For an excellent blog with more on Texas criminal justice issues, including mental health and due process, read Read Grits For Breakfast.

For information and links on the new lawsuit against the state of Texas, alleging that criminally confined mental health patients are being deprived of Constitutional due process due to their cases taking WAY too long to process, read Read this post of his.

February 20, 2007

Guantanamo detainees get swatted down again

Shock me that the D.C. Circuit Court rejected their habeas appeals.

The case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. And it may have a fringe benefit.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was accelerating efforts to pass a revision to the law that would restore detainees’ legal rights, noting that some 12 million lawful permanent residents currently in the U.S. could also be stripped of rights.

The new provision, introduced by Leahy and then-Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter R-Pa., narrowly failed last year on a 48-51 vote.

Of course, some GOP nutbar like John Cornyn could always filibuster.

February 18, 2007

LaSalle likely WASN’T killed in “Far South Lancaster”

Far South Lancaster’s biggest claim to fame is that, nearly two centuries before it was even incorporated as a city, famed French explorer Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle, was killed hereabouts by men of a portion of his expedition that he was taking back to the Illinois country to get help, from French outposts there.

Instead, Robert Weddle, in “The Wreck of the Belle, the Ruin of La Salle” (La Belle being one of the ships of La Salle’s misguided expedition to settle the”Mississippi,” which wrecked in Matagorda Bay), says previous La Salle interpreters have gotten their entire Texas river system off by one river, miscalculating admittedly difficult measurements extracted from diaries of some of the men in the group that accompanied La Salle to the northeast to go for help.

Weddle argues, rather persuasively, that La Salle was instead murdered in 1685 just east of the Trinity and not the Brazos. So, there probably should be a statue of La Salle about 20 miles east of Huntsville or Madisonville, and not in downtown Far South Lancaster.