On Saturday, October 29, 2011, I had the honor of addressing a gathering Occupy Tacoma supporters in Lincoln Park, Tacoma. My remarks were a part of a longer statement. Several people asked me to post the entire statement here. Above is a video of the speech as it was presented on Saturday. Following is a full statement, including the parts I left out when speaking, slightly edited to make it suitable for posting purposes. This article was originally published on the Occupy Tacoma Website.

Hello all!

My name is Alan OldStudent, and I love what I am seeing here today. You are great! You are amazing!

In my long life, I have seen many amazing things. I saw how a mass nonviolent movement ended the infamous Jim Crow laws, — laws that legalized racial segregation, — laws that made it a crime to marry outside of your race. And now, I am seeing a how a mass nonviolent movement is ending laws against marrying the person you truly love, even if that person is the same sex as you.

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It has been around a year since my last post to this blog, and to my readers I must offer my apologies.

My wife Margaret, whom I was with for the better part of 3 decades, recently died, around the middle of April 2011. I was her full-time caretaker for many months previous to her death, working at home nearly full time, leaving me little opportunity to blog. Although most called her “Miss Margaret,” I called her “Sweet Margaret,” because she had the sweetness of spirit common in young girls.

In the year or so before she died, she required a great deal of care.  I sometimes had to carry her to bed or to a chair or the couch. I sometimes had hand feed her, help her dress, help her with personal hygiene, and supervise her medications. She nearly died around September of 2010, temporarily lost mental clarity, occasionally hallucinating, all because of strong pain medication. While this was going on, I was trying to recover from joint replacement surgery on my hand for an arthritic thumb joint, which made caring for her more of a challenge.

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Mark Twain wrote a scathing antiwar poem/story called “The War Prayer,” which he feared to have published during his lifetime. Decades after his death, this work was published.

I first ran into “The War Prayer” when a young woman sold me a copy at an antiwar demonstration during the Vietnam war. I was struck by the power of its language, as well as by the sentiments.

Several years ago, I found a a very effective YouTube animated version. This version is a bit long, which is why it is split into 2 videos. But it is well worth watching.

Then, just a few days ago while searching for this 2-part video presentation, I discovered a 1981 PBS adaptation of “The War Prayer“ which was part of a larger program on another of Mark Twain’s antiwar stories.

The actor who delivers the actual prayer of God’s emissary puts an experienced hell-fire preacher’s delivery into a decidedly antiwar statement.

The two-video version, which follows Twain’s text pretty much as he wrote it, appears below:

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According to The National Priorities Project, The United States passed a landmark on May 30, 2010. On that day, the United States will have spent 1 trillion dollars on the Iraq and Afghan wars, and on June 7, 2010, the Afghan war will become the longest war the United States has waged.

Moreover, the cost of the war in Afghanistan is currently 1 million dollars per soldier per year, according to this November 14, 2009 New York Times article.

One million dollars is a large number, but one trillion dollars is an unimaginably larger number. It’s easy to gloss over when the politicians and pundits toss around these numbers.

The thickness of a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches. So a stack of a million dollar bills would be about 109.22 meters or 358 feet tall. That’s as high as an office building 30 stories tall, counting a story as being approximately 11.9 feet tall (about 3.6 meters).

But a stack of a trillion dollars would be 63,516.5633 miles (109220 km) tall. That’s 2.5 times the circumference of the earth. That’s what American taxpayers pay for the Iraq/Afghan war. And the champions of small government say nothing about this.

Did you know that the United States just by itself has a military budget greater than the rest of the world’s countries combined? Or did you know the US military budget is more than 10 times  greater than that of either Russia or China’s? (Click here for the documentation of those figures).

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This article is part of a series on physical fitness and physical culture that I’m working on. To see a convenient summary and listing of my previous articles, please click here.

The bodybuilder and fitness guru Scooby is an impressive man whom I have covered elsewhere on this site. What I like about him is the way he cuts through a lot of hype about instant results.

Because I do lots of research on-line about medical procedures for my professional activities, and because I do lots of research on fitness and exercise for my blogging, I get more than my share of targeted ads, aimed at either enhancing parts of my body, like biceps, chest, and of course, sex organs. I also get lots of ads aimed at reducing belly fat, love handles, gray hair, and so on.

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This article is part of a series on physical fitness and physical culture that I’m working on. To see a convenient summary and listing of my previous articles, please click here.

Several videos have come to my attention recently. One is of a clip from the Ross Sisters, a trio of singers and dancers from the 1940s. Not only were they extremely good musicians, but they were in extremely good condition. Check out this video.

The first part is their very tight 3-part harmony 1940s-show style pop singing, and then the acrobatics begins. Each stunt is even more impressive than the former, and I know you’ll be as inspired as I was by these beautiful  young ladies.


The next one is of a 72-year-old Ernestine Shepherd, who bench presses 150 pounds and runs marathons. She leads a fitness class at a local church for other seniors.

Anyone who is that accomplished at half her age is impressive. And to look at her leading her class, one gets the feeling that she inspires all her students to do as well as they can.

Watch her interaction with the class members. She really tries to get each person to understand where they are and how to take small steps joyfully towards greater fitness.

Often, there is too much one-upsmanship in so many fitness classes, and Ms. Shepherd seems to delight in helping her class members feel good about the progress each of them makes individually without destructive comparisons to others.

She looks to me to be a truly inspiring teacher.




Alan OldStudent
The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living – Socrates

This article is part of a series on physical fitness and physical culture that I’m working on. To see a convenient summary and listing of my previous articles, please click here.

As mentioned in previous articles in the Physical Culture series of articles, I’m not heavily into weights or other such equipment. I much prefer bodyweight, self resistance, DVRs (dynamic visualized resistance), and similar modalities. Part of this has to do with my own likes and dislikes, part of it with my goals. I am not a super-athlete or a bodybuilder. And I don’t want my fitness routine to be the main focus of my life. But fitness is important to me, and I am pleased with the success I’ve had in looking and feeling vigorous and healthy, especially at my age. I like the emphasis that systems like Transformetrics puts on directing the mind to focus on the sensation of the muscles working under great tension instead of numbers of kilograms, pounds, and repetition.

However, I have learned much from people into weight lifting and bodybuilding that is of value to me in achieving my more personal fitness goals, and I do use very light 2-pound and 3-pound dumbbells aerobically in something called Heavyhands. I also recently have started using the Sierra Exercise Equipment’s “The Hook, which is a resistance band set-up. (If you click that link, it’s about a third of the way down) At a later point, I’ll probably review The Hook.

The first part of this article deals with Heavyhands, and two subsequent parts deal with weight lifting sites where one can find much general useful information on exercise physiology and practices.



I first did HeavyHands in the 1980s. A medical doctor, Leonard Schwartz, invented this system, which for a while became somewhat of a popular fancy. Although this modality became trendy, it was not just a fad. Unlike a common fad, Heavyhands as a system has much of value, but only if used properly.

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