Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: August 2005

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I never thought I'd ever really do yoga. I went to one class once in college, and they turned the heat up so high that I thought I was going to puke sweat before it was over. I sweat when it's hot, and turning up the heat just to make stretching better has absolutely no appeal to me.

Besides, after years of training my body to be powerful and strong for football, after squatting and bench pressing hundreds of pounds at a time, the whole thing seemed a little lightweight for me.

Fast forward a few years...

I'm out of shape, not as strong anymore, and still fairly inflexible thanks to years of plyometrics, bench presses and power cleans. After loading up so much strength and weight onto my arms and shoulders, my back hurts every morning when I wake up, and many nights as I go to sleep. My posture is bad, and my middle back only stops hurting when I distract myself with something else.

My friend Ed (another former lineman) told me how his back had been feeling so much better thanks to the yoga practice he had been doing. So I finally tried it for real, 5 days a week for the past 2 weeks, and my back is sore but feeling better. Sore from stretching and strengthening, not sore from bad posture and disproportional weight. I still wake up stiff every morning, but after 45 minutes of my usual dvd routine and some additional stretching, my back feels elongated and relaxed.

Not to mention the fact that Baron Baptiste's Power Yoga is no fucking joke. It's as good a workout as I ever got in college during those hellish "speed school" sprinting, agility and plyometric workouts. My arms feel about as tired after my routine as they did on any normal lifting day, but since I'm not power lifting they're not bulking up any more than they already are.

So I guess if there are any ex-football players out there who have endured the pretty normal fattening, stiffening, and painful transition from working out 6 days a week to 0 days a week, give it a shot. It's not a miracle cure. My back still hurts, but it certainly feels better and so does the rest of my body.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Post-war Stress Hits Home

A former "U.S. Marine of the Year" suffering from post-war stress after serving in Iraq shot into a crowd from his window outside a Boston nightclub. A 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man were wounded.

Now, I have been known to shoot water balloons at loud, obnoxious groups of people, but this was clearly more dangerous.

Marine Sergeant Daniel Cotnoir says he fired a "warning shot" after 30 people had gathered below his window and someone threw a bottle, shattering his window. His lawyer claims that Cotnoir cracked under post-war stress in the mob-like situation, responding in a military manner to what was a civilian situation.

Cotnoir was awarded the 2005 Marine of the Year award by the USMC Times for his work as a military mortician -- working with the remains and belongings of fallen soldiers, most killed by explosions. Speaking with the Boston Globe last year, Cotnoir said, "What you see out there, it's a real smash to reality," as he described retrieving charred pieces of Marine bodies.

Boston Globe: Marine Held in Shooting

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Tort Reform Legends

There was a very interesting story in the LA Times on Sunday about the fictitious nature of many famous "legal jackpot" stories that circulate online and in the columns of so many mindless pundits.

Now, I'm not one to say that some true stories of jury pay-outs can be incredible, but the fact that the tort reform lobby has used complete fiction to convince the country that people are fleecing our poor corporate friends and lining the pockets of trial lawyers is pathetic.

Maybe you've heard of this one:

Merv Grazinski set his Winnebago on cruise control, slid away from the wheel and went back to fix a cup of coffee. The rudderless, driverless Winnebago crashed. Grazinski blamed the manufacturer for not warning against such a maneuver in the owner's manual. He sued and won $1.75 million.

Outrageous! And completely false.

LA Times:

Legal Urban Legends Hold Sway

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Shields: Moral Logic of Common Sacrifice

Mark Shields wrote a very interesting piece this past Monday on the vast socioeconomic chasm that lies between those who make the decisions to go to war and those who are most impacted by those decisions.
The people who make the fateful decision for the nation to go to war are, themselves, subject to no personal consequences. Their children and the children of their friends are not at risk. Without apparent embarrassment, they champion a policy of military escalation with no personal participation.

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of enlistees come from the lower-middle-class and blue-collar families. The affluent stand above and apart from military service, especially from the enlisted ranks -- the privates and the sergeants, from whose ranks have come more than 90 percent of the casualties and fatalities. This class exemption from service and from sacrifice produces an ethical failure that a democratic and moral people cannot tolerate.

Citizens on the home front who do not have loved ones in the service are asked to pay no price, to bear no burden. The Bush administration does not even ask us to pick up the cost of the war, already in the hundreds of billions. That burden will be borne instead by our children. We, patriots, will keep our tax cuts. Do our leaders think so little of us that they are afraid to ask us to make any real sacrifice?

I've said some of this before. Where is the common cause? Where is the call for this country to sacrifice -- even just a little bit -- for something that is being shouldered by so few? Where are this war's versions of victory gardens? Instead, we just get a few tax dollars back and a pat on the ass, saying, "Go on, spend money! Buy that new television! Or maybe a nice American flag or ribbon magnet to show you support the troops..."
That those who called most loudly for this war are not standing in line to volunteer at the recruiting offices is noted by the nation's premier military sociologist (and ex-Army draftee) Charles Moskos.

"Only when the privileged classes perform military service, only when elite youth are on the firing line, does the country define the cause as worth young peoples' blood and do war losses become acceptable," observes Moskos, adding that "the answer to what constitutes vital national interests is found not so much on the cause, itself, but in who is willing to die for that cause."
Let's look back in history. How many sons of powerful families fought in America's wars of the past? Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy, HW Bush, Pierce, Benjamin Harrison... and those are just former Presidents. Contrast that to a scene I witnessed several years ago:

I was visiting a friend at Stanford University, and at an on-campus party we witnessed an extremely drunken frat boy stumble onto the dance floor, running into people and spilling beer as he shouted out mangled lyrics to the song playing at the time -- Outkast's "Bombs over Baghdad". My friend turned to me, and said, "You want to know something funny? That's Paul Wolfowitz's son."

Full Article


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Marc Cohn Shot

--Poor Taste Warning--

"Walking in Memphis" singer shot "driving in Denver."

In an apparent outburst over seeing the famous walking musician driving -- and driving in a city other than Memphis, no less -- a man tried to jack Marc Cohn's rented van and then shot him in the head.

Miraculously, Cohn's doctors removed the bullet from his temple and he is said to be recovering with his attractive news anchor wife at his bedside.

Just goes to show, when you contradict the lyrics of your own hit song, you're going to get it.

This incident serves as a warning to such artists as Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and of course Will Smith. They could be in danger's way should they be found by the wrong fan to be: paying for skydiving, driving with a full tank of gas, or generally not jiggy wit it, respectively.

E!: Singer Marc Cohn Shot in Denver.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Bad News Alarms

My computer alarm that automatically wakes me up to NPR's Morning Edition every day has been a real downer lately.

Last week the first words I heard while waking up were, "14 Marines are dead after a deadly explosion..."

Not long after that I woke up to, "US casualties in Iraq especially heavy this week..."

Then this morning, "Peter Jennings died last night, succumbing to cancer..."

I know the news media tends to focus on the negative things in our world as they occur, with the sporadic "kids selling acrobatic kittens to raise money for tsunami victims" story thrown in on occasion. But just one morning I want to wake up to this:

"In a series of stunning developments this morning, Islamic militants have become a non-violent political party, the Pentagon has surrendered a percentage of its budget to the department of education, and the streets of Greater Boston today are a little bit sticky after an overnight downpour of Starburst and Reese's Pieces..."

That would be the best (and most delicious) morning wake up ever.

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