After mulling some things over last Saturday, I posted Ten Things I Wonder About -- And Maybe You Do, Too. I drew from mysteries surrounding history, politics and pop culture.
That post didn't satiate my curiousity. There are still some things I am wondering about. Maybe some of you are wondering about them, as well.
Ready for some food for thought? Of course you are. So let's explore more of the unexplained:
1. Was Karen Silkwood murdered?-In 1974, anti-nuclear power activist Karen Silkwood was killed when her car was forced off the road while she drove to an interview with New York Times reporter David Burnham. Apparently, she had some very damaging information in the files she was going to present to the reporter.
The FBI (fresh from the Watergate stink)concluded this was an accident. Her files were missing from her wrecked car. Drunken teenagers out for a drive? Like they would have taken these files from her car and sold them? By the way,1974 was a time when the New York Times courageously investigated nuclear risks - rather than relying on questionable Iraqi exiles for this info.
2. Did Donald Rumsfeld give a pre-wink and a nod to Gitmo, Abu Ghurayb prisoner abuses?- I have no evidence that he had, and Rummy has always denied it. This is pure speculation, mind you, but I can sort of compose a soundtrack in my mind in which Rumsfeld exclaims in a closed-door meeting: "what we need to prevent another 9/11 is advance intelligence. We have all these Islamist prisoners. So the question is, how do you get information out of these men? The way to do this is to find a way to break these men down. The Muslim man has an awful time with humiliation. Especially if it comes from a woman, or a barking dog..."- you get the idea.
3. What's the true story behind President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich?- In his final days in office, Clinton pardoned the financier, allowing him to come home from refuge in Switzerland. This pardon was well within his Presidential authority. A benign view would be that Clinton had the case thoroughly reviewed, and released Rich on the review's merits. A less than benign view would be that Clinton identified with Rich's legal troubles, and he issued the pardon out of empathy.
A totally jaded view would have noted Clinton's friendship with Marc Rich's former wife, and wonder if the request for clemency had less to do with a review of legal briefs than other factors. Maybe even other types of briefs?
4. Why were so few athletes and entertainers drafted during the Vietnam War era?- The obvious answer would be "connections." Yet few specifics have ever come to light. The media of the time was guilty of contemptible failure to fully investigate this cancer on America's social fabric.
But it is probably too late. Nearly 40 years on, I assume that many of the slick lawyers, politicos and other fixers who brokered these arrangements are dead. But just as dead - and far less honorably so - than the 59,000 whose mostly non-famous names are on that Wall in D.C.
5. Why are so many liberals prejudiced against Scientology?- Sure, Tom Cruise's Scientology-driven rants against pharmacology and psychology are controversial. And Scientologists can be forceful in their advocacy. But so can many advocates- both religious and not. Yet for believers such as Cruise,this forcefulness comes from an understandable urge to defend their faith.
But I don't make fun of it. And yes, I personally can't really wrap my mind around most of what Scientology teaches. Yet rather than crack jokes, I just simply choose not to believe. It's sad to me that so many of my fellow liberals - most of whom would proudly call themselves tolerant - seem to leave tolerance at the door when the subject of Scientology beliefs and practioners come up.
6. Why are so many religious conservatives big Hooked on Phonics fans?- I've heard the ads on many Christian radio stations, but I don't really get the connection. I have an open mind, though.
7. What causes "suspension of disbelief"?- You go into a movie theater, watch a tv show, attend a play. Unless the presentation is really bad, most of us buy in to the belief that what we are seeing is real.
It isn't a case of realizing how much we paid for the ticket, and then talking ourselves into buying in. On one level we know that what we are watching is fiction, but on the other hand, there's something that happens to our brains that blots out that reality-check. I've never read anything that explains this process. Perhaps some of you have?
8. Are there any ungoverned, unclaimed places in the world ?- Excluding Antarctica, I wonder if there are any spits of land that are unclaimed by any nation. If this is true, such land might be tiny islands the size of your broom closet that have temporarily been created by undersea volcanoes in international waters. I've posted this question on trivia sites, have "Google-d" it, but no one seems to know.
9. - How did backpacks become so popular with students?
Back in the day, many of us carried our books to and from school. Yet several years ago, I began to notice that backpacks - formerly used mostly by campers and hikers - became the conveyance of choice for students from pre-K to Ph.D.
The funny thing is, unlike many other social trends, this one was not handed down from the top by some thunderous,focus-tested marketing campaign by backpack makers. It seems to have started organically with some early adopters, then progressed to the Targets of the world. I am more interested in triangulating and analyzing the moment in time that backpacks made the hiker-to-schoolbooks leap. Thoughts, anyone?
10. What was so funny about "Monty Python"?-I like brainy comedy, but I never "got" Monty Python. Didn't "get" "Firesign Theater" either. But then again, maybe it's just me. I loved The Three Stooges - and both "Beavis & Butthead" and "South Park" make me roll on the floor.
And, truth be told, both programs are brainier than you think.
Maybe, just maybe, I am, too.