Chemically braver

By David Grima | Jul 04, 2019

Facebook is all abuzz following a question posted on behalf of Rockland Main Street: which businesses will be open the Fourth of July?

As of Monday morning in this Glorious Week, I counted nine that will be closed and six that will be open at least part of the day.

This business of businesses' not staying open on holidays or later in the evening is a perennial hot topic. Now, in my humble opinion, holidays spent at work are not holidays. It is convenient for the general public, of course, to be at liberty to eat breakfast out on a holiday, or to be able to shop for groceries. After all, there is nothing more festive – dare I even suggest wildly celebratory? – than the sheer, delicious insanity of grocery shopping.

But at what point do we start to realize that the people who have to be at work on these occasions, to cater to our general lackadaisical convenience, are losing out on something we all consider to be valuable?

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Furthermore, wasn’t it this very principle that caused a number of innocent vacationers to be eaten by a giant mechanical shark in the popular Massachusetts island resort of Amity over the July Fourth holiday in the summer of ‘75?

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I see there is quite a frenzy in our respectable neighborhoods about the terrifying possibility that people who have served time in prison might be living among us.

It sounds a reasonable concern, until you start to plot on a map all the places where people with a criminal record actually live.

With an estimated 1,200 people released from custody by the Maine Department of Corrections every year, there are now thousands of these people living all over our Blessed State. If I understand things aright, the only rational solution to this massive problem would be to forcibly round them all up, load them onto secret midnight convoys, and transport them to special concentration camps in Washington County, so they will never been seen by a righteous person again.

Another fact apparently being overlooked by one and all is that there is already at least one house where former prisoners can be accommodated in Rockland. And it is not the first to be here in the Lime City, either.

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The stripping and repaving of Limerock Street a few weeks back, after it had been repaved only a year ago, seems to have a rational explanation.

I was told the other week that the company that did the work last year did it all wrong. (Possibly they paved it from Broadway up toward Old County Road, whereas the contract required it to be repaved in the opposite direction? Or something else vaguely wrong, like that.)

Anyway, I am assured the street has now been repaved properly, and at no expense to the city.

For which we can all be grateful.

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Speaking of traffic, we almost lost our lives at the hands of a motorized tourist Saturday afternoon on Route 90 near the Rockport Diner.

Apparently the tourist driver in question comes from a state where the law only allows one vehicle on any road at any given time.

This would be why the idea that it is perilous to turn left across the oncoming lane did not, at first, seem obvious to the driver in question. Only a violent screeching of our brakes, garnished with a glimpse of my most extremely severe cross-face through the windshield, seemed to impart the necessary basic knowledge to the chap in the other car.

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According to “Secrets of the Dead: World War Speed,” a show broadcast last week on public television, the armed forces of Germany, the UK and, eventually, the USA, pretty much operated throughout World War II on amphetamines.

This is from the show preview at

“During the war, one in three Allied soldiers were incapacitated without a physical scratch on them. Modern weapons and warfare proved so terrifying that almost as many men were shredded by combat fatigue and shell shock — now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — as by bullets and shrapnel. Allied commanders believed Benzedrine, an amphetamine similar to Pervitin, was the answer, hoping the amphetamine would defeat not just the need for sleep, but anxiety and fear among troops. How this drug affected the course of World War II is an ongoing controversy.”

An argument put forward in the show by British author and historian James Holland is that the military use of Pervitin and Benzedrine left millions of men with a habit after the war that they would never have picked up if the governments involved had not made drug use compulsory.

I wonder that we do not hear more about this. Is it because of the frightful implication that our troops were made chemically braver than they already were? You can quickly understand why this might not be a popular point of view.

Think, for example, what might have been the case when Gen. Washington confronted the colonial power during the Revolutionary War. The fighting began in the spring of 1775, and ended around Labor Day in 1783 (except we did not have Labor Day then.)

It took the Continental Army eight and a half years to deal with the British, whereas World War II required only seven years to deal with a far nastier array of bad guys. Question: would the British have been defeated much sooner if our troops had the use of amphetamines? I don’t intend to be facetious.

But one of the lesser-considered effects of war is to convert what might not ordinarily be considered normal behavior into something that is demanded by the force of circumstances. Teaching perfectly decent civilians to slaughter other civilians when ordered to do so is perhaps the most obvious one, but it’s not the only one.

Today, our governments are engaged in a seemingly fruitless war against the use of debilitating drugs. Funny to think it was governments that helped cause it in the first place.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 04, 2019 14:12

Tu chez David!

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