Sunday, January 29, 2012

map of binge drinking

I wrote a book chapter celebrating (?) the 75th anniversary of the publication of Andrew Carnegie's commissioned book, "Alcohol Control."  His book was written by his commission, funded by him, to show state governments how they could control the sale and distribution of Alcohol once prohibition was repealed.  He was an alcoholic, leading member of the anti saloon league.  (I got paid $3000 for a  31 page chapter, the most i have ever made at writing.) anyway, as you can see from the map, Pennsylvania is one of the biggest binge drinking states in the US.  Who cares?  ATOH (alcohol) is one of the few drugs that can penetrate the blood brain barrier, the only drug i believe that can be purchased over the counter, if you are 21 yrs old, or have a fake ID.  So what?  Alcohol can sedate the vagus nerve, which controls breathing.  so you can die from binge drinking, because you can stop breathing.  as someone who once had an allergic reaction and almost stopped breathing, i can testify that breathing is very important, especially if you ever faced not breathing and lived to tell about it.  Woody Allen once said that his brain was his second most favorite organ:  after my anaphylactic shock, i can safely say that my brain is my third most favorite organ, and my lungs my most favorite.  you can guess at number two.  anyway, binge drinking is a killer, and anyone who binge drinks needs counseling fast.  binge drinking is 5 drinks for a man, or 4 for a woman, drunk in a short period of time.  binge drinking can be minutes (chugging contests) or days.  binge drinking can be a measurement of society's decay, or social depression or social anxiety; for example, after the fall of the soviet union, binge drinking in Russia dramatically increased, life expectancy decreased, diseases of alcoholism (coronary and heart disease, cirrohsis), increased.  So what is wrong Pennsylvania?  how come so many of us are sedating ourselves with over the counter alcohol?  state wide depression?  Social anxiety?  Freud wrote a book, "Civilization and its Discontents" about societal mental illness, how a society can become psychotic (think Nazi Germany, think.....Khmer Rouge, the 700 club, Oral Roberts University, PA state system of higher education....)  can there be a societal anxiety in PA that leads its citizens to sedate themselves?  jesus, just writing about this makes me want to drink, but i am trying to lose the 8 lbs i gained last semester so nooooooo)

Just noticed: binge drinking increases with longitude.  binge drinking increases the further north you go.  this is also true around the globe: highest levels of alcoholism in countries closest to the artic circle.

And south dakota and tennessee have no data, i guess the state statiticians were too drunk to send in the numbers.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Rabbi's Gift: A Parable about building a culture of respect

The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. It was once a great order, but because of persecution, all its branch houses were lost and there were only five monks left in the decaying house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. Clearly it was a dying order.
In the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi occasionally used for a hermitage. The old monks could always sense when the rabbi was in his hermitage.  It occurred to the abbot that a visit the rabbi might result in some advice to save his monastery.

The rabbi welcomed the abbot to his hut. But when the abbot explained his visit, the rabbi could say, "I know how it is" . "The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore." So the old abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and spoke of deep things. When the abbot had to leave, they embraced each other. "It has been a wonderful that we should meet after all these years," the abbot said, "but I have failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me that would help me save my dying order?"

"No, I am sorry," the rabbi responded. "I have no advice to give. But, I can tell you that the Messiah is one of you."

When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, "Well what did the rabbi say?" 

“The rabbi said something very mysterious, it was something cryptic. He said that the Messiah is one of us. I don't know what he meant?"

In the time that followed, the old monks wondered whether the significance to the rabbi's words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks? If so, which one? 
Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand, he might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows that Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even though he is a thorn in people's sides, when you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for always being there when you need him. He just magically appears. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. 

Of course the rabbi didn't mean me. He couldn't possibly have meant me. I'm just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. I couldn't be that much for You, could I?

As they contemplated, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.

People still occasionally came to visit the monastery in its beautiful forest to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, even to meditate in the dilapidated chapel. As they did so, they sensed the aura of extraordinary respect that began to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and permeate the atmosphere of the place. There was something strangely compelling, about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery to picnic, to play, to pray. They brought their friends to this special place. And their friends brought their friends.

Then some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another, and another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi's gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.r

others, and expects to receive the best from others in return. It is the type of culture everyone deserves, and it is up to us to make it happen. In our daily lives, we can create a culture of respect with every personal interaction we have, whether it is with a store clerk, a dignitary, or a colleague.

Iron Lady: film about Margaret Thatcher, starring Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep never makes a bad movie (wait i will have to research that) and this film, Iron lady, is no exception.  the film is not so much about PM Thatcher and the 1980's, though that is shown, but it is more about maggie, the grocer's daughter, who had to rise up against a male dominated government and prejudice against her modest background (she actually waited on customers at her father's grocery store before going to Oxford.)  Much of the film is about Margaret as a senior lady, grieving the death of her husband, and of becoming slightly (?) dementia prone.  It begins with the Prime Minister visiting the local grocery store for a pint of milk, thoroughly out of touch with the diverse, modern London.  Or so it seems.  I really enjoyed the performance of ms. Streep, but wonder how the director, producers, selected her.  Its a british film, with an
american actor.  then again, I think Meryl has probably appeared on the London stage, and American actors enjoy a good presence in London (I am thinking about woody allen and the three films he made in London).  anyway, great film.  Much better than i anticipated.  And there was no Ronald Reagan appearance in it either - so much is made of Reagan and Thatcher by the reagan lovers - she was uniquely British, ronnie had nothing to do with her policies.  but she was an admirer of the american enterprise spirit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Karen Santorum, Rick Santorum's wife, and her abortion history

Dr. Tom Allen, an obstetrician gynecologist, was a pioneer in abortion rights in Pittsburgh even before Roe v Wade 1973.  His story is here  So what?  He was the doctor who delivered Sen. Rick Santorum's wife, Karen Garver.  Forty some years later, Dr. Allen and Karen began a live in relationship while Karen was a student at Duquesne Univ School of Nursing.  As the story here tells, Karen at one point accompanied a woman to an abortion performed by Dr. Allen.

Ok, so what? Can people change their opinions? Sure.  Only she has written a "book" about abortion, and she is married to a Presidential candidate who regularly preaches against abortion and alternative relationships.

Why hasn't this been publicized more?  It probably will if Santorum is more than a spoiler candidate.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Newt and Calista Gingrich's sordid past: more details from a Meme

by now you have read about the sordid details of Newt Gingrich's life, including his sexual affairs and his penchant for "open" marriages (whatever that is...).  Turns out, Newt and Calista's history is far more sinister, they were photographed as a loving couple at Auschwitz but a Google search shows additional photos (a Meme) that show a sinister side of their past involvement: yes, they were there in Haiti, they were there at the JFK assassination, even at Lincoln's assassination (Abe was too generous to African Americans, the Freedman's Bureau was just a precursor to the Food Stamp rip off, Abe had to be eliminated), and even at the tragic results of global warming.  Are these two traveling in Dr. Who's tele booth?  With these two in the White House, it will be Armaggedon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

marine snipers urinate on dead enemy

Ok i admit its gross, but these guys are marine snipers, trained to be killers.  there is a great book about how to train normal, regular people to be killers called On Killing: the Psychological Cost and its by a retired Lt. Col.  His point is that normal people dont want to kill, and training them to kill, esp killing up front and personal, is very difficult.  Marine snipers are normal people who have been put through intensive training to spot a person, and kill him at a long distance.  by surprise, usually.  they are killing people who want to kill them.  On journalist asked a sniper what he feels after he kills a terrorist, the answer?  "Recoil."  the mistake the marines made is (1) making that dumb video (2) sharing it with anyone.  what is more obscene, killing or peeing?  Ok its over the top to pee on someone after you kill them, then again, i have never been trained to become a killer by my government, so I dont know what kind of dehumanization i might feel for a bad guy i just killed.  Its war.  What do people think happens in war?  Of course, the marines involved will get punished, but not their high ranking officers who probably knew about this.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

early results new hampshire

Looks like Mitt is outpolled by the the alternative conservative candidates, Gingrich, Santorum (surging from behind) and Ron Paul.  We shall see what South Carolina holds.  Santorum will probably surge some more down there.  After SC the republican race will be clearer, and Mitt's position as front runner will be clearer.  Big question is what happens when its just Mitt and 2 others, or just one other republican - will Mitt be outpolled then?  Mitt will do better in Nov than any other republican candidate, but will he get the nomination?  Or will this be a Barry Goldwater year? (popular conservative gets republican nomination but nation rejects candidate)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Romney and Santorum (surged from behind) fight, Ron Paul third

I think Romney will have a tough time in New Hampshire and South Carolina with Santorum.  Rick Santorum (surged from behind in Iowa) is conservative alternative to Romney, he might give Romney a long nomination race.  If Romney drops out, then what happens to Ron Paul?  Ron will stay in for the long haul, he has no problem raising money, and he has fanatic supporters, and he knows how to run an inexpensive campaign if he has to.  So this republican race may go on for some time.  Ron Paul will survive past South Carolina, the longer he survives his improbably nomination becomes less improbable.  Romney i think is in trouble.  Even if he gets the nomination, he has little chance of beating Obama, unless the Republican party unites behind him, unless the Republicans can convince voters Romney really is conservative (Romney-Santorum ticket?). 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Headquarters Gentlemen's club closed New Year's Day!

what is this world coming to when NYC's premier gentlemen's club is closed New Year's Day ??  Did Tony Soprano close Badda Bing titty bar on holidays ?  The only good thing about this is that it gives Dennis Rodman a day off to field his topless women's basketball team.  Turns out there is already a topless team from a strip club in texas (I dont know who they play if they are the only team...does it matter? the whole idea is watching them run and jump up and down) and Dennis wants to challenge them to a game.  On the one hand, its good to see Dennis back in basketball (great rebounder) but why the strip club thing?  Why doesnt he just hand over his money to Goldman Sachs - thats a safer investment than a strip club.  Dumb question i guess.

"Santorum surges from behind..." in Iowa

This is a real headline, "Santorum surges from behind...."  The article refers to Santorum's recent increase in the alleged public opinion polls in Iowa.  Wait a minute: a rural, conservative at time populist state, has an important role in selecting a Presidential nominee for a global empire, and we pay attention to public opinion polls based on hundreds of republican voters (those who identify themselves in some way as republican voters) even though there is constant instability in the polling results.  And even if Santorum does well in the caucus votes, so what?  That means he isn't nuts?  That he doesn't say offensive, at times, intellectually stupid things? That he could never provide a challenge to Pres Obama?  Can you imagine Santorum in a debate with Obama?  He would have a better chance playing pick up game of basketball against Obama, one on one.  The joke is of course Dan Savage's web site devoted to Santorum:  Dan is an advice columnist, and is gay.  His columns are ....well...entertaining, not exactly Dear Abby stuff.  I read Dan Savage's column every week in Pittsburgh's city paper, and learn something everytime.  We need Dan Savage.  At any rate, Dan has a web site that has been hit so many times, that anyone who does a google search for "Santorum" gets his site, which is devoted to exposing Rick Santorum's intolerance, and ignorance, toward anyone with a sexual orientation different than Rick's.  I just can't believe that Rick doesn't have some kind of kinky, weird, elicit sexual outlet that hasn't been exposed so far: there has got to be an teenage intern, a pregnant staffer, a transgendered prostitute somewhere who has a story to tell about Santorum, i mean, Rick Santorum.  The real question is how Santorum will ever distance himself from his crazy anti gay remarks, equating the Supreme Court's decision on state sodomy laws with man on dog sex, with child abuse (anything other than man-woman sex is wrong, is the same as man-dog, man-boy, sex).  Can a gay man have oral sex with a woman and not have it be considered sodomy? just struck me....has Rick Santorum ever had ......I won't go there.  To understand Santorum, you have to understand his unhappy childhood (see above picture) - does that picture look hetero?  

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Michelle Bachmann and Oral Roberts University

This is strange: Occupy protesters gathered outside of several republican candidates' headquarters in Iowa, including Michelle Bachman's HQ.  She was advised to use a side door to enter her HQ, since the front door was blocked by protesters.  She said the protesters were Pres. Obama's advance team, and showed how frightened Obama is of her campaign.  So she enters the building and is met by applause from her volunteers, many of who are volunteers from Oklahoma - what????  It turns out that volunteers from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa are helping Bachman, since she received her JD (law degree) from Oral Roberts University, back when ORU had a law school (it used to have a medical and dental school, and a large hospital). Thats why she wears so much makeup:  ORU women always wear lots of makeup to look "feminine" (seriously, the slutty look is considered feminine by right wing christian men).   A joke: what is Oklahoma's greatest oxymoron?  "Oral Roberts University." Another joke: the praying hands were once at the entrance to the hospital (moved when the hospital was sold), and intended to be open, welcoming people to enter the campus, however, during construction a worker on top of the hospital lost some loose change from his pocket, the coins fell down to the big open hands, and the hands mysteriously closed shut to catch the money. That's how they became the praying hands."  
One student told Bachman: 
"I appreciate your Christian faith," said Afame Ooceeh, a 29-year-old pre-med student. "I support you with all my heart."
Ooceeh, originally from Nigeria, is part of a contingent of 42 students from Oral Roberts, a Christian university where Bachmann attended law school. The group, which arrived Thursday, is chaperoned by Winston Frost, a professor who was in Bachmann's class.
"She was one of the most diligent students in the class," Frost told NBC News.
You can read about her law school days, and her curriculum, here.  Michelle was brainwashed at ORU.  Her positions on the Constitution, law, and christianity are nuts.  Flawed reasoning.  She makes statements that are historically inaccurate.  

Iran demonstrates 1950's technology - probably based on the missiles Reagan sold them

Pres. Reagan secretly sold surface to air missiles to Iran, during the Iran- Iraq war, ostensibly to free hostages in Lebanon, but also make profits and use the money to support the Contra rebels in Nicaragua who were fighting against a Parliamentary democratic socialist government.  So Iran launches surface to air missiles in the straits of Hormuz - so what?  I dont get what the big deal is about.  The technology is from the 1950's.  I remember surface to air missiles in place on lake shore drive in chicago during the cold war, to protect the city from a nuclear attack (seriously, this is no joke).  included is a picture of Nike missiles in Hyde Park, Chicago, from the 1950's - to defend chicago against a russian nuclear attack !  too funny....