List of Previous Titles

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Edward Snowden

Whistleblower or Traitor?

That is a question entirely between Ed Snowden and the government of The United States of America.

He has not been charged with anything as yet, so we do not know what the justice department is thinking. In the case of Bradley Manning, the officer who was charged with releasing classified information to Wikileaks, he was charged with, among other things, Aiding the Enemy, i.e. an act of a  traitor, but he was not convicted of that offence. (He was convicted of other charges and sentenced to serve 35 years in a military brig.) American opinion seems to be divided over what Snowden did, so for the time being I will go with the label of whistleblower.

He signed an agreement that he would never reveal any information that had to do with his work.  When we sign such agreements we know that to do otherwise is to expect sanctions, and in the case of the government, those sanctions will be severe. Therefore, to break our agreement is not something we would do lightly. Snowden was apparently so moved by what he was engaged in, and thought that in modern day America the program was such a repugnent thing that his government was engaged in as a secret activity, that he felt the American public should know it was happening. He seems to have been especially concerned about how the program could be manipulated to frame anyone at will.

The main question in my mind is whether whistleblowing should be a protected activity, or not?  I think it all comes down to this: if a person steps out into the public spotlight to divulge information that is clearly in the public interest, and particularly if there is an absence of a personal vendetta, then that person should be protected, and indeed, he or she should perhaps be encouraged.

My reasoning is that without the person who is responding to his conscience , all manner of harmful activity against the public interest could go on behind closed doors with impunity. "If good men do nothing, evil is free to flourish!" With that in mind perhaps the public should press our governments to protect the genuine whistleblower, because the other thing we must bear in mind is that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and that is not in our interest.

Personally, I have my reservations about the sense of responsibility in the activities of Wikileaks. The exposure of classified information has been so widespread in scope that the effect and the importance of the said exposure has not been reasonably considered. The net effect is that Julian Assange has locked himself up in a small building in England.
The ultimate irony is that Edward Snowden, champion of the people's right to know has gone to live in Russia, the country that wrote the book on the people's right not to know.

Next time, Mr. Snowden, make your announcement from within a country more palatable to you who will give you sanctuary.

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Growing old is Ugly! (Michael Jackson)

Two elderly people enjoying a moment of peace.

Mr Jackson and I are agreed that this is one of the rare joys of becoming old. You can take the time to smell the roses, but other than that, bascially, growing old sucks!

So, being Michael Jackson he decided to check out at the age of 50, which is when we start the long downward slide of the second half of our life. They all said he was weird, but I don't think so.

As young people, especially when we are in the prime of our lives, how proud we are of our bodies. We celebrate our magnificence, sometimes privately, and sometimes we seek to share our temple with all who will accept us. Some develop themselves as body builders and compete with others. Many  find their way onto the silver screen; and many others go absolutely naked, including those in the porno game. Whatever, we are right to appreciate what splendid examples of humans we are, while we are at our best, because it will not last forever.

If we are lucky, the degeneration is a slow process.  You know it has started when you find yourself going to more funerals than weddings. You know you're getting old when your back goes out more than you do. All your memories of significant events took place double-digit years ago, and many of those start with 3?, or 4', or worse, 5'.

My saddest moment of realisation that I was getting old was seeing more of my hair on my comb than on my head. I have to confess that I went through some serious angst during that period. I also came to realise that God is a woman, because no man would do that to another man. We do all kinds of other horrible things to one another, but we wouldn't pull out another man's hair.

When things stop working as well as they did in our youth it's time to panic. First the memory starts slipping, which is not always a bad thing; and then the hearing starts failing. The funny thing about that is in our minds the problem is not us, it's you lot who bloody mumble and speak so softly. How's a fella supposed to hear you? Speak up!

Failing eyesight is scary! Then you are given the big lie. It's only cataracts. We will cut those away and you will be as good as new.  Ya, Right!

Eventually comes the Change of Life for women when they have used up all their eggs. Now, the only reason to have sex is for love and recreation, but what do they do? They can't be bothered, or now is a good time to go and become the bride of Christ. If we are lucky, husband's supply of testestorone will run out about the same time, leaving him holding his dick and wondering what he is supposed to do with it. His memory will have gone, so that won't help him.

That's the way its been for centuries, but science steps in and offers creams and lotions and viagra and the couple can continue to have fun times, if they can remember what that's about; and if that wasn't enough, now scientists, due to significant breakthroughs in the field of stem cell research are suggesting that you really don't have to die from old age after all as it seems possible to simply regrow all those aging cells to allow us to live forever. Well, that nice, but after a couple hundred years everything will get a bit boring, don't you think?
It is a fact that we are living longer, and we are enjoying better quality lives. There was a time when the Queen sent a note of congratulations on your 100th birthday, and you were always in bed to receive it. These days people have got to go find you to tell you there's a message for you.

The past 75 + years have been intensely interesting for anyone who has lived through them and is still alive and kicking. It has been anything but boring and change continues to come down like the falling rain. So, yes, we might want to complain about the aches and pains and restrictions of growing old, but there are so many interesting things as well to make it worthwhile.

Now, I must excuse myself while I go and learn this new fangled thing that allows me to do countless things while holding it in my hand. Apparently I can also send and receive telephone calls. Amazing!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Your Family; My Family

Family: More important than all the wealth in the World!

At the heart of every individual is family.  At one extreme is the family unit that is fully functional and loving, and at the other is the non-functional family at war. Both extremes, and those in the middle are still family that represent the beginning and the end.

I have been priviledged to attend a family reunion on my wife's side which was a loving event. As reunions go, this was a small scale affair, but that gave everyone a chance to interact and to grow a little closer. For many of us it was a welcome opportunity to meet again after many years had passed. The last time I had seen some of the young people they were mere babies, but now they are young adults who have embarked on their career paths.

The meeting took place in Cornwall, England during a period that England was experiencing a heat wave. It was wonderful to see the country actually having a Summer, but just to remind us that we were in England some days were very rainy and quite chilly. However, on the main day of our reunion the weather was perfect for sitting in the garden in a circle and getting caught up with developments.

As is always the case with events of this sort, there was the inner family and those of us who were the fringe as the spouses. However, as spouses we were not made to feel any less welcome. It was good to be able to observe from a little distance the inner family bring together relevant facts about those who had gone on before, and a visit to the local church and cementary was obligatory. One of the highlights was the chance meeting between one of our elders and a woman he had not seen for 70 years. Magic!

The idea behind the family reunion at this time was that it should have happened without the need for someone to get married, or to die. Well, a  respected and distinguished member of the family did come to the end of her life anyway, and at the end of the reunion we said our goodbyes to Barbara Wills, (October 14, 1923-23 July, 2013).

Although I never did meet her in person, I obtained a really good impression of her life. Apart from being a mother and grandmother and a significant cog in the famly wheel, she was a person who contributed to the world in a way that ensures her legacy will live on. She was an artist who committed her view of the world to canvas. Her paintings can be found around the world, and she cared about people in third world countries. She was a firm believer in the U.K. charity, "Send a Cow" that can be found at
Barbara Wills lived a life that was indeed well lived and one that touched people in a delicate way that softened the heart. She even managed to have that effect on people she did not actually have a face to face with. Her funeral would have been a very sad affair were it not for the fact that her life was cause for such celebration.

The reunion was wonderful, and in the process Lorna and I met with many of her friends. I often think that we should make it a point to visit Bermuda and England at least once a year to keep abreast of events and to touch base with friends and family. Time moves entirely too quickly and we lose touch with those who are important to our own lives. Before we know it, life comes to an end, and of course, we are not living a rehearsal.

Live life now, for as someone once said, Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is a promissory note, and today is the here and now. That is why it's called The Present.

Copyright (c) 2013   Eugene Carmichael