Tuesday, February 04, 2014

weather round 2

It was just on the verge of being freezing rain as I came in this morning. I think nothing will come of this, as it's going to get a bit warmer after this, but we're kind of in a donut hole surrounded by Winter Weather Advisories. It's supposed to be cold (well, southern Oklahoma cold: in the twenties) tomorrow, and then snow on Thursday and maybe Friday.

So I guess I will go out and refresh-buy my fresh foods (milk, vegetables) this afternoon. Also, the rest of this week is going to be busy; we're doing phone interviews for a retirement-replacement and the only time everyone can get together is after 5 pm. (Ugh, but I see why that has to be). So we have a couple of 5-7 pm slots this week.

Saturday is also supposed to be bad.

(I really hope my computer comes in this week. I'm ready to have internet access at home again.)


I went back to reading on"The War that Ended Peace" (after a detour to read an Inspector Alleyn mystery novel). I think the reason I like this book better than The Guns of August, and am learning more from it, is that the author goes into more depth about the individuals involved, and gives more of the background. There isn't as much of an assumption that you know the historical basics and can keep all the people straight.

Also, I finally got something cleared up. I vaguely remembered having read elsewhere something about "Kaiser Wilhelm, who had a withered arm." In this book, it's noted that when he was born, it was a very difficult delivery (his mother, one of Queen Victoria's daughters, nearly died), and in the rush to save her life, no one noticed his left arm had been dislocated. And apparently some damage was done, and the arm never had normal growth. (But the author also noted that the Kaiser's tailor was very careful and it was always concealed by the jacket sleeves).

The author also speculates - and this seems a bit extreme to me - that Wilhelm also may have been slightly deprived of oxygen at birth, and therefore had some deficits. I don't know that one needs to go that far to explain his actions; it seems a lot of the European rulers of that time had some pretty big blind spots as far as common sense was concerned. (For that matter, you could blame the high level of inbreeding in the royal families of Europe for that equally well, if you need a medical explanation). I suspect a lot of the poor judgment came, though, from people who had grown up being told how great they are, and who were largely surrounded by yes-men. The fact that they seemingly had more authority than responsibility seems to play into that.

(Ironically, every position of "power" - such as it is - that I've had, I hated, because it carried such a load - or what I perceived as such a load - of responsibility, I was always worrying if the decision I was making was right for the group, and having even one dissenter, even a person known to be contrary for the sake of such, made me doubt myself)

I really get the sense, from what I've read, that World War I was largely the result of a lot of poor decisions and miscommunications, and could perhaps have been avoided if people had been smarter, if Germany had not decided to retake that territory and do so by violating the declared-neutral Belgium....


I've also seen some of the news about Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. It makes me sad - he was such a talented guy, and he apparently had people who clearly loved him (a woman that I've seen described alternately as a "wife" and a "partner," so I don't know about the marital status. And children).

But what made me shudder a bit was the description of how he died.

Some of you know my sister-in-law is a forensic chemist. The heroin-cut-with-fentanyl isn't really anything so new; nearly 10 years ago when she was with the Illinois State Board of Investigations, one of the cases she worked on was trying to identify the source of some bad heroin that was causing people to die nearly instantly. (Maybe it wasn't fentanyl, but some other veterinary tranquilizer. I just remember her sad description of the case)

I don't know. I've never felt any curiosity about taking drugs - I even tend to refuse things like pain pills, preferring to tough it out with ibuprofen and ice or heat. But I guess for some people the desire to escape is so strong, and once given into, it's hard to break free. And I guess with some drugs or for some people, it gets to the point that they need it to feel "normal."

I don't know. It's just sad.


Nicole said...

I have the Guns of August sitting in my Kindle waiting for me. I keep putting it off. I think I just need to be in the mood for stuff like that and right now fluff is the prevailing mood.

Bob & Phyllis said...

Have you seen the piece called "If World War I was a Bar/Pub Fight"? It's amusing and pretty spot-on in describing what happened.
You are right, though. It was the snowballing of poor decision and spectacularly bad communication (hence the comparison with the pub or bar brawl).

Dyddgu said...

I meant to comment on this earlier, but forgot - you might like, if you can find it, a 1970s TV series called "Fall of Eagles." It follows the various great houses of Europe (all related, of course) up to the Russian Revolution, and explains a lot of the dynastic wossnames that went on. There is a suggestion, for instance, that Bismarck interfered in Princess Vicki's relations with her son the Kaiser, and soured things. Also starring Patrick Stewart as Lenin!

Lynn said...

I have also heard of lead pipe plumbing as an explanation for the craziness of some European rulers. It's possible that either all or none of the popular explanations had something to do with it but it seems that people can't resist trying to explain the unexplainable or to come up with complicated reasons for simple stupidity and/or evilness.