Photo by Edward F. Palm)

About Me

My photo
Forest, Virginia, United States
A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Postscript to My Alzheimer's Column

A Christian friend reminded me of a couple points I wish I had had room to make in my column "Alzheimer's:  It's All in the Family."  (The title to this post is a link to that column.)
     There is a theory of the mind that I think is consistent with Christian theology, although it is admittedly closer to the Eastern view.  This theory holds that the brain does not create consciousness; it receives it.  It makes perfect sense to me that as the Alzheimer’s plaques form in the brain they progressively interfere with the reception of consciousness.  However, I do wonder if, like a radio receiver with a loose connection or a misfiring diode (or whatever), sometimes, for brief intervals, reception returns to normal or close to it. 
      I say that because I remember how on my Aunt Jo’s 79th birthday, when the disease was fairly far advanced, she seemed to be her old self for a few moments.  When no one else was in the room, she stood looking at the cake and actually initiated a conversation with me.  Addressing me by name, she said, “Can you believe it, I’m actually 79 today?”  Sadly, it didn’t last.  She didn’t say anything to anyone else for the rest of the evening. 
      I suppose one could also call this a moment of grace.  I know that it is a common occurrence for terminally ill people to rally shortly before the end, almost as if they are given an opportunity to say their goodbyes. 
     In any event, what I witnessed on the evening of my aunt’s 79th birthday may just have been one of those examples of how science and faith intertwine. --Ed

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A New Twist on an Old Movie Theme

My friend and former Vietnam sergeant, Bill Cook, was just commenting on the shortcomings of today's electric-car technology. He pointed out that I would be hard-pressed to drive the 100 miles from my home to Forks, Washington, in an electric car. As I admitted to Bill, even if I made it to Forks in an electric car, there would be no recharging stations--only vampires and werewolves, according to Stephenie Meyer of Twilight series fame.
      But it occurs to me that this scenario would make for a good contemporary twist on a classic horror movie theme. I can see it now: It is a dark, stormy night, and an environmentally conscious young guy and his low-carbon-footprint, beautiful young girlfriend are motoring through Forks in their electric car when the battery gives out. They knock on the door of a spooky-looking old Victorian mansion hoping to find a place to plug in and recharge their car, and . . . .
     Well, you know the rest, except that the vampire of the manor could be a global-warming denier. That and his thirst for blood would make for a powerful motivation and some damned good acting. --S/f, EFP
P.S. to Stephenie: I expect to be paid if you use my idea.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Latest Newspeak

I just heard Newt Gingrich brag that he is the only candidate who can defeat a "moderate."  When did "moderation" become a bad thing?  Do we really need an uncompromising ideologue as our president?  The hard right has already redefined "liberal" and "progressive" as undesirable, subversive attitudes.  Now Gingrich has added "moderate," and sadly, no one seems to be challenging him on that point.
      George Orwell, where are you when we need you? --EFP

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Emerging Middle Classes?

What's wrong with this picture?
       I am watching MSNBC coverage of President Obama addressing people at Disney World in Florida.  He is touting his plan to ease visa restrictions so that the "emerging middle classes" in China and Brazil can more easily get to the U.S.A. to spend their money.
       Whatever happened to the emerging American middle class?  Over the weekend, I caught a snippet of an interview with two prominent political scientists who claim we have become essentially an oligarchy instead of a democracy.  I believe they are on to something, especially if Obama's vision of rebuilding our economy includes having more people working in service industries, accommodating foreign tourists.  See the Palm-Print above for a helpful hint toward thriving in this new economy.  --EFP

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alzheimer's--It's All in the Family

My latest column is on the web today and will be print tomorrow:  Alzheimer's--It's All in the Family.
       The photo is of my Aunt Jo, who figures prominently in my current column. I took this photo in 1982, when she was in the terminal stages of Alzheimer's. She is shown here with my son Daniel, whom she used to help care for when she was still in the early stages of the disease. (She loved to read to Daniel. Books such as "The Cat in the Hat" and "Go, Dog, Go!" never got old for her--an ironic benefit of the disease..) By the time I took this photo, she could no longer speak and didn't seem to recognize the rest of us. But, clearly, she still felt a connection to Daniel. 
       I'm pleased to report that the Alzheimer's Association of America did use this photo on their web site for a time. --EFP

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Latest Military Scandal

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was right to call the video of Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan “utterly deplorable.”  I agree.  There are certain values we cannot let go of, even in extremis, and remain human.  But I am not surprised that it happened.  Anyone wondering why should perhaps turn back to my column of Nov. 10:  Reality and Reflections on Veterans Day
      The one factor in mitigation I would point to is the nature of the enemy today’s Marines are now facing.
      I always felt that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army didn’t hate us.  It was just a war; it wasn’t personal.  They didn’t despise everything we stood for.  They didn’t behead American prisoners of war.  They only wanted us and our influence out of their country. 
     To the Taliban and al-Qaeda, however, we’re “infidels.”  Not just our presence, but our very existence threatens the theocratic paradise they envision.  Our troops certainly feel and understand that, making this a much more bitter war than mine was.  --EFP