We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, October 8. 2015
From an illuminating review of the MOMA show, How Picasso the Sculptor Ruptured Art History:
See it if you possibly can. It is a feast. Whatever visual adventures Picasso pursued, he did them with authority, some humor, dead seriousness, and perfect taste.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:59 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Common sense people take it all with some humor and many grains of salt.
By borderlands, I mean the areas in which there are only subjective, untestable, vague complaints. Of course, that applies to many disorders in the Psychiatric domain.
One of my favorite bugaboos is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I am told that one can obtain lifetime disability for this impossible disease which is, in fact, either fictitious in some cases and "hysteria" in others.
Another is "Chronic Lyme Disease," and another is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It used to be called Neurasthenia. Freud thought, at first, that it was caused by the chemistry of sexual deprivation. Every patient I have seen referred to me with this trashcan diagnosis has had a mood disorder and/or a personality disorder. No, one of them had an undiagnosed schizophrenia.
Nevertheless, the squeaky wheels get the grease: The Tragic Neglect of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Sunday, October 4. 2015
She said "I've been thinking all week about what you said about how I always focus on whether a boy likes me, and never think about whether I like the boy. I am changing this right now. What was wrong with me?"
Me: "Not worth thinking about that. You have made me a happy doctor today."
Saturday, October 3. 2015
Friday, October 2. 2015
The American lobbying and advertising Whole Grains Council has had huge success in selling their health scam. Just like Whole Foods. Food piety has two arms: the ignorant, and their commercial predators.
Enjoyment applies to OJ too. It's basically sugar with no other food value. Years ago, the Florida Citrus cabal convinced Americans that they should have it for breakfast. Tasty, but no different from a Coke. Scurvy is not a problem.
My point with my nutrition myth posts is that you should eat whatever you enjoy. If you have a weight problem or a health problem, that's another matter. Just don't pretend, for example, that an OJ is any "healthier" than a Pepsi, or brown bread is "healthier" than white bread. That is just marketing to the low-info shopper and gullibles like Michelle Obama.
We all love happy myths, do we not? The fantasy that we can control fate.
Wednesday, September 30. 2015
Sunday, September 27. 2015
I'd rather be on a flight with an EMS person than with a Dermatologist. Every person should know how to do CPR. The tricky part is knowing when it is needed. If they stop breathing and turn blue, probably yes.
People do die on airplanes, but they probably would have died anyway. Interesting factoid: airplane air has 10% lower oxygen than the air on the ground.
Monday, September 21. 2015
From Alva Noe's How Art Reveals the Limits of Neuroscience:
I am no skeptic about basic neuroscience. I am skeptical about its overeach, its hubris. Aesthetics can never be understood at a neuronal level of organization any more than a living cell can be understood at an atomic level.
Saturday, September 19. 2015
Many animals, like birds and reptiles, have a cloaca (or "vent" - hence the word "venting"), which combines urinary, defecatory and sexual functions. (Most birds copulate via a "cloacal kiss," but a few lucky birds, notably ducks, swans and ostriches, have penises.)
This reminds me of the Yeats:
Vl: Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop
Friday, September 18. 2015
American Citizenship: Energetic contributors, minor contributors, benign passive recipients, parasites, exploiters, and damagers
The problem with a powerful central government in the US is that it is a big place with many localities with highly-varying viewpoints on life and values. With all of our immigration and home-grown subcultures, and with divisive politics, the US has few shared values or foundational attitudes.
All we have is a bedraggled Constitution, and most Americans don't know what it says.
Thus the average American sees himself as a citizen of the US in the abstract, on national holidays, and in time of war, but lives life primarily as a citizen of a community, or communities, of some sorts.
As a New England Yankee myself of original heritage and thus with minimal respect and instinctive distrust for government, politicians, amd government power, I was led to this subject by the post about David Leff. He is a fellow who seems to be a pillar of his community.
Every community requires such people who jump in and participate in a positive way, with no personal advantage expected other than the rewards of positive involvement. It's been the American Way since de Toqueville described it so well. Other than the Founders, that Frenchie explained American Exceptionalism better than any American ever had.
I have written about the "Circles of Community" in which we all live, and their importance to a good life. Except for hermits, humans need that for pleasure and life enrichment if not for support and survival. Venn diagrams, circling around, with family circles, social circles, neighborhood circles, athletic circles, professional circles, club circles, civic circles, political circles, church circles, hobby circles, etc. Most circles end up overlapping. Much of life consists of these circles, but they do not happen by themselves. Somebody made them happen just as somebody organized the barn-raisings. Government did not do that.
However, I am just focusing on local community here. Big cities have local communities just as Mr. Leff has his little Collinsville.
JFK's famous inaugural line about "Ask not..." (who wrote that line for him?) can be better applied to one's local community and to one's circles of community than it can to this huge nation.
All localities, like all "circles," have energetic contributors, minor contributors, benign passive recipients, parasites, exploiters, and damagers of the social fabrics. It's probably a bell curve like everything else. Just paying your taxes does not count, nor does holding down an honest job or making some effort to obey the laws because those are the minimal expectations of residency anywhere.
What does count? Cub Scout Mom, Bible study, book club, Kiwanis, town meeting attendance or being on town committees, club committees, volunteering for virtuous or charitable purposes or at the library, organizing a block party or book club or softball games. It doesn't have to be big like being on the board of your local hospital or president of your country club, but if you are not engaged in positive ways without personal advantage, you are no capital "C" American Citizen in my book because you are a free-rider. A resident, not a Citizen.
We all ask ourselves daily how we wish to live, what example we wish to set, how we wish to be known, and how we wish to be remembered. Every human has a gift or gifts to offer and it is sinful to withhold them.
Tuesday, September 15. 2015
I have repeatedly insisted that a "healthy human diet" cannot be defined. As omnivores, humans can survive and thrive on many sorts of diets. Each culture has its own food biases, myths, preferences.
It is an imaginary First-world problem to obsess about food as if food were medicine, magical, or potential toxins in our civilization of revolutionary food abundance, quality, variety, safety, and flavor.
(We have discussed weight loss and physical fitness ad nauseum here, so this is not about those special nutritional areas.)
Old wive's tales, obsolete studies, superstitions, misrepresented press reports, etc. These are my own views via the literature. Do your own research if you want. This applies to otherwise relatively normal people without serious ailments:
- Coffee is bad for you. Wrong.
- You should drink X glasses of water per day. Nonsense. If you are peeing, you are hydrated.
- Beer and coffee are dehydrating. False. They are just enhanced water.
- Red meat is bad for you. Nonsense. Where did that myth come from? The Federal Chicken Board?
- Organic foods are "better for you." Zero evidence for that, but there is evidence that organic foods have fewer nutrients. Not that it matters; it is de minimus.
- You need roughage to prevent colon cancer. That is disproven. It will give you larger BMs if that is what you enjoy.
- Fruit and fruit juice is good for you. Nope, they are just flavored sugar, what I term warm popsicles. Tasty though. Fruit is just a dessert as the Italians understand, not real food. Worried about scurvy, are you? Fruits are not really healthy foods, but are good sources of sugar if you are sugar-deprived.
- Eggs are bad for you. Wrong. They are an excellent food, actually one of the few "perfect" foods (ie balances of fat, protein, and carb). A "perfect food" means you can thrive on it, alone, for a long time.
- Carbs and starches are bad. Nope. They are great foods as long as you are not dealing with a weight problem. With the egg, potato is the other "perfect" food item. Well, milk too.
- Eating fat makes you fat. Wrong. Excess carbs make people fat. Carbs, plus general gluttony.
- Three meals per day. Why? It's just a habit. For youth and manual laborers, certainly - plus snacks.
- Vegetarian diets are healthier. Utter cultish nonsense. Active humans and growing kids need plenty of good protein for normal growth and muscle maintenance and repair, which is difficult for vegetarians to obtain without extra effort and expense. Low-protein cultures generally have littler people with less strength.
- Gluten? Don't get me started.
- Salt is bad. No, it is essential for health. If you have dangerous blood pressure, take a pill.
- Vegetables and greens are "healthy." Not especially. They are just cheap, sometimes tasty, tummy-fillers. If you hate all veggies and greens (even steamed spinach with garlic), take a multivitamin once or twice a week and forget about it. Otherwise, enjoy them.
- Low cholesterol diets? There is no meaningful relation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease unless you have severe familial hypercholesterolemia in which case you take a pill and hope for the best.
- Alcohol is unhealthy. Nope, good for body, soul, and cheerful companionship if not abused.
- White vs. Brown breads, rice, and sugars? The brown thing is pure foolishness, except for flavor preferences. If you need brown rice for the microscopic protein in it, you need Food Stamps desperately. Get an EBT card and buy yourself a Big Mac.
- Fish oils are healthy. A health-food scam, same as "organic." Fatty fishes are delicious, though: shad, tuna, swordfish, trout and salmon, bluefish. Even a baked mackerel with garlic and rosemary.
- "Free range" is better. If it's a cultural, moral, or flavor thing for you, go for it if you can spare the cash. I'd like to see a blind tasting. I do hate to see animals raised in meat factories, but all animal husbandry is meat factories. Nursery schools and day care are caged meat factories too, but we don't eat the product.
Where am I in error?
Wednesday, September 9. 2015
I've always been told that the pursuit of personal "identity" with its "personality integration" and "self-realization" was a distinctly modern and Western notion. Perhaps a too-precious conceit of artistes and suchlike.
In recent years, we have even used something called "identity diffusion" as a diagnostic marker. It's a thorny topic that very few people ever think about.
When I meet a new patient (or sometimes just a new person), I never ask "Who are you?" I just ask "Tell me about yourself" or "Tell me about your life." I once met a fellow who told me that he was an "unresolved self." He was one of the most pleasant, well-put-together people I have ever met.
It is often said that psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are about inventing comprehensible, presumably explanatory narratives. Well, our narratives change with time. We evolve with time and experience; sometimes with awareness of our flaws and sometimes with awareness of God.
Some of these topics discussed here: I am not a story: Some find it comforting to think of life as a story. Others find that absurd. So are you a Narrative or a non-Narrative?
Saturday, September 5. 2015
Thursday, September 3. 2015
Tuesday, September 1. 2015
In the softer "sciences," even more so: An expansive new project is able to replicate results from fewer than half of its psychology experiments in question.
Monday, August 31. 2015
Sunday, August 30. 2015
Friday, August 28. 2015
Friends have just returned from a week in Ravello, While there, the whole family (all 5 of them) took a full-day cooking class with Mama Agata. Despite their other holiday pleasures, they all agreed that was the high point of their trip. Mamma Agata (click on cooking classes - reservations required).
They stayed at Hotel Villa Cimbrone, which they recommend.
Thursday, August 27. 2015
I enjoyed this subtle satire on the self-centered Western obsession with identity, self-realization, and self-actualization: How to Be Yourself When You Don't Know Who You Are - with JP Sears
Yes, it is as dangerous, or more dangerous, than drunk driving
How to Stay Awake on the Road: Tips to Combat Drowsy Driving. Those are some reasonable ideas, especially the quick nap in the car or a stop with a little walk. If it's a frequent problem that you have, and you need to drive long distances often, you might persuade your doc to prescribe some low-dose amphetamine or adderal for the purpose. That's what truck drivers do. Call it "Driving Narcolepsy."
It is odd, isn't it, that when you arrive at destination you can feel just fine?
Wednesday, August 26. 2015
"If it's dry, wet it. If it's wet, dry it. If it looks funny, cut it off and send it to the Pathologist."
Walter Isaacson: Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricane:
"The problem with storms is that they pass."
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:47 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, August 19. 2015
Tuesday, August 18. 2015
A good, personal description of one form of what we put under the umbrella label of "depression":
Having anxiety & depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It's the fear of failure, but no urge to be productive. It's wanting friends, but hate socializing. It's wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely. It's caring about everything, then caring about nothing. It's feeling everything at once, then feeling paralyzingly numb.
Thursday, August 13. 2015
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