Saturday, May 18, 2013

animals, shrinks, gays and scandal

Odds and ends...

-- It's not exactly a virgin birth, but zookeepers in Connecticut are scratching their heads about how a female anteater which had no known contact with her mate nevertheless gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

-- In San Francisco, the curia of the American psychiatric world is meeting this weekend to discuss, among other things, the latest updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Bible of their universe. What-is-defined-how always has ramifications (shit flows downhill after all) and in this case, the debates and pronouncements of the assembled Jesuits are likely to be -- politely and thoughtfully, of course -- as fiery as they may be abstruse. Those of us who are crazed in one way or another can only await the verdicts of the American Psychiatric Association and hope that those dicta bear some resemblance to the insanities we enjoy. And perhaps the APA can -- as a facetious side note -- shed some light on the "crazy ants" in Texas.

-- In France -- the 14th country to do so -- gay marriage has been signed into law. Bit by bit the discriminations of the past are seen anew ... and make you wonder why there was discrimination in the first place.

-- Last night, on public television, there was a retrospective on the 40-year-old Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon. The scandal bubbled up after the June 17, 1972, break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington. Republican operatives were seeking useful political data about their Democratic rivals. Nixon's resignation came when the answer to the question, "what did the president know and when did he know it" dealt the president a mortal blow: Three Republican congressmen came to his office and told him that impeachment proceedings were unlikely to sustain his presidency ... and probably noted that the presidency itself would be besmirched during any such hearings.

Two things stuck in my interest banks as I watched the TV: 1. It was Republicans who told a Republican to get out of town (imagine that these days) and 2. Up until Watergate -- and a coalescing distaste for  the Vietnam War -- public trust that government would act on behalf of the citizenry it represented ran at about 70%. Since that time, public trust has slid to something around 20%. Up until that time, there were real accomplishments that the country could point to -- Social Security, an interstate highway system, an educational infrastructure and achievement worth envying, an attempt at integration, and an economy rife with work among other things. There was less reason for anyone to proclaim himself a "proud American" because there was stuff to actually be proud of. It was a basis of trust, which, if not perfect, was at least largely warranted.

Trust at 20%. "What if they had a war and nobody came" morphs into "what if they had a government and nobody believed?" Perhaps the lack of trust will right itself at some juncture, but the odds feel pretty long to me. Who creates a Department of Homeland Security unless there is some sense that the homeland might be attacked ... perhaps by a rabble tired of being manipulated?

Distrust is so grating and deflating. But what else is there when trust has been so palpably betrayed?


  1. One of my mentors, a man for whom I had both affection and respect once said " Psychiatry is not a science. Its an art ".
    This ran clear counter to my crusading zeal on behalf of evidence -based medicine.
    So despite my respect and affection I received this view in sulky silence.
    The years have rolled by and as each succeeded the next I became more convinced that he was right.
    And no convocation and its rule book can ever capture that art..Which leaves the committee men
    with nothing to do but root out dissent.

  2. Employ your science, find your art ... kinda like Buddhism.