Not Ready to Apologize


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Many of the Agent Orange victims of our war effort in Laos and Vietnam are still alive. They are still hideously malformed, requiring constant care from family members. We have never apologized, much less sought to make things right. We have never offered to pay reparations of any kind.

When you search the Internet for Agent Orange Victims, you come up with posts about our soldiers who were injured dumping Agent Orange on Vietnamese and Laotian civilians, and the forests and farmland in which they lived. Many people ask for compensation to be paid to our soldiers, but nobody is suggesting we pay the people on whom we dumped this toxic chemical.

Nor has anyone suggested that the stockholders of Dow Chemical or Monsanto (now Bayer) ante up. That was a long time ago, and even though we were embroiled in an undeclared war, those unfortunate people were “the enemy.”

Speaking of undeclared wars, the conflict in Korea was also such an affair “a United Nations police action” enforced by the country who gave the world napalm. We dumped plenty of the sticky, jellied gasoline on North Korea, and night-time bombing runs by Curtis Le May’s newly formed Air Force burned millions of civilians to a crisp as they slept.

Neither the Korean or Vietnam Wars accomplished what they intended. After hostilities ceased, the borders remained as they were at the start. Millions dead, billions spent, and few lessons learned.

Mae-On Cave, Doi Saket Hot Springs


You can ride it in a loop from Chiang Mai. Total driving time is a couple of hours. Simply head east on the 1147 (highway goes by Promenada mall) , go to the cave, entrance fee 20 baht, 10 baht to park a motorcycle. There are monkeys. Too many monkeys. Nasty critters. Climb the steep staircase up, and then a treacherously steep on down into the cave.

It’s not a huge cave. It’s dry. The usual number of Buddhist statues.

After we left, we ate lunch and then continued on another half an hour or so to Doi Saket Hot Springs, one of our favorite hangouts. You pass through the most beautiful scenery, and it’s not yet been developed. That’s the good thing about being surrounded by mountains on all side. It doesn’t take long to get out of town and all that development.

One hour soak in hot mineral water is all you can take.  Get too limp and you won’t be able to drive home. A private cabin and tub is 200 baht, then a massage for 150 baht. I fell asleep. Then after drinking a coke to wake up drove home, 45 minutes. Highway 118 is under construction, so that part is kind of scary.  A wonderful half day trip.

 

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The Futility of Addiction


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Released from the obligation to work, many retired people find themselves to be unsuspected addicts. With plenty of time on their hands, they are free to finally ruin their lives through addiction. Alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex…almost any activity can be ruinous if taken to an extreme.

Addicts usually spend a great amount of time rationalizing their addiction before daring to confront it. It’s not that bad yet…You’d do this too if…I only do this because she doesn’t…I’m just letting off steam…besides, what else is there to do in this stupid place?

Addicts often wishfully conclude that if only they take their addictive behavior to an extreme, they’ll somehow “break through to the other side” and prove to themselves that this way lies folly. They’ll tire of the game. They’ll have finally had enough. By “maxxing out,” they’ll find freedom from the compulsion.

You can never get enough of what you don’t need.

An addict is like a man digging a hole so deep he can’t climb out of it, but he’s convinced himself that if he digs faster or harder or more efficiently, he’ll finally find a way up and out. He can’t face the fact that he won’t be able to take any action to climb out of the hole until he first stops digging.

To use another metaphor: if you’re walking down the wrong path, walking faster won’t get you where you want to go. Imagining your goal around the next corner won’t help. You’ll simply have to realize that you’ve taken the wrong path, stop, turn around and painful as it may be, retrace your steps until you get back to the place where you made a wrong turn. You’ll have to chalk up all the time and energy you spent going the wrong way as loss. There is no other way around it.