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
Friday, August 7. 2015
Tuesday, August 4. 2015
A bit from the article:
Mental health care and treatment in America is a hodge-podge of state, federal, charitable, and private programs. That is not a bad thing that there is no "system," because caring can not be a "system" and because there are no cures for the most severe ailments like autism, schizophrenia, dementia, and so forth. That's why mental health care is not a problem in America any more than it is everywhere on the planet.
There is no better place on earth for those with manageable problems under the mental health umbrella than in the US. Perfection is unobtainable, because it can not be defined, and some people will always be beyond effective help if only because they refuse it.
Because so many problems lack cures, and so many patients resist possibly positive amelioration, what people lobby for are governmental and private "services," not utopian fixes. As always with medical issues, lobbyists lobby for their fad interests and fad approaches.
There is no "mental health industry." I do not necessarily agree with the premises of the article, but I do agree with this: "Congress needs to understand that throwing money at mental health is not the same as delivering effective treatment to the seriously ill." Caring, like education, is not intrinsically expensive.
Sunday, August 2. 2015
Saturday, August 1. 2015
The ideal fitness program for those over 35 is 2-3 days of an hour of varied, intense resistance work and 2-3 days of 25-40 minutes of focused cardio/endurance work. That's all it takes. This will keep you going strong and looking good until everything finally breaks down and you throw in the towel on vigorous life and write your wills, get a trust and estates lawyer, and set things up to await the grim reaper.
Plus, of course, your usual sports activities and Yoga, shopping, work, hiking, jogging, casual bicycling, swimming, sex, whatever which are fun but of no health benefit. (People with physical jobs don't necessarily need this stuff.)
We mentioned in the past that, except for the elderly (over 78-80 in the US these days) or those with serious cardiac or pulmonary problems, walking, fast walking, comfortable elliptical or biking, do nothing at all to improve fitness or to burn fat. For the otherwise healthy, I consider those to be little more than anorectic rituals or wholesome entertainment.
Cardio can be boring as heck. My cardio exercises use intervals to keep it interesting. Here's an interval program that even cardio-hating people can stick with because it mixes variety with challenges: A Way to Get Fit and Also Have Fun:
Their research showed that many do not stick with a prescribed program, making it all useless. Lazy does not work. To add interest, I rotate this sort of thing from bike to elliptical to rower with minimal rest in between. Depending on my free time, I quit it all after 30-40 minutes.
Wednesday, July 29. 2015
Back exercises are the best things for posture, generally. Dead lifts, especially. Not a bad idea to stick a post-it on your desk saying what your Mom said at the dining room table: "Sit up straight with your shoulders back." (She also always said "Stand up straight like a soldier.")
A few links on the topic:
You probably spend hours in front of a computer every day—so make sure you’re doing it right
Working Out Isn't Enough: Advice for Desk Workers
Tuesday, July 28. 2015
Our friend Dr. Schneiderman discusses Adolescent Cutting. After many years of addressing self-mutilation with youth and some adults, I have become convinced that various sorts of self-harm entail "integrative" pain - a discomfort which helps a person feel more centered, whole, and complete. In fact, it is not unusual for somewhat shakily-constructed people to create or to be drawn to chaos and crises for their strange psychologically-integrating effects.
There might be an entire new theory of masochism in general built on that idea, but I think Freud sort of began to get there first. Perhaps he over-sexualized masochism, or over-death-wished it, but he was on the trail towards an understanding of masochism and its perverse gratifications.
Sunday, July 26. 2015
Loneliness is a painful state. Social isolation feels terrible. Most people need friends and family around for company. It's a true cliche that alone in the city can be the worst.
I agree with Schneiderman that, no matter how much of an outsider somebody is, if you get involved in things sooner or later some kindred spirits will be found: The Loneliness of the Outsider
Saturday, July 25. 2015
Friday, July 24. 2015
Wednesday, July 22. 2015
Many Americans tend to overeat.
The experience of food satiety is mediated by a variety of physiologic signals, psychological states, and cultural factors, and some of that signaling may have some genetic tendencies. However, it is my experience that the main causes of overconsumption are three simple things: the ready availability of tasty carb things (unresisted temptation), feeding+sitting as recreation, and ignoring satiety. By the latter, I mean not paying attention to when enough is enough. In our world, there is always more, and gluttony, eating until "full," makes no sense at all on a routine basis.
In other words, ignoring your body's "enough" signals instead of one's maximum stretched stomach capacity. Some people will consume whatever is put in front of them regardless of hunger, while some will only consume until they sense that they have had enough. The former two are the buffet-killers while the latter do not consume their cost of the buffet. Living in a world of food abundance has a downside but nobody would choose the alternative.
I have found that overweight people can be easily trained to identify satiety if they want to. We know a few things about this:
1. Protein seems to trigger satiety best.
2. Fast eaters tend to ignore their satiety signals far more than slower eaters. That's why it's called piggish.
3. Food impairs mental alertness and physical capacity for a while so it's best not to eat for a couple of hours before exertion. Hydration is necessary, though. If at your ideal weight or underweight, a little carbs an hour before difficult exertion is a good idea. After heavy resistance work, a little protein, or a regular meal if at target weight, is an ok idea.
Tuesday, July 21. 2015
Reposted by popular request. If the reader is strong, fit for most physical challenges in life, and in good shape, then this is all irrelevant and should be ignored.
- Weight loss is mostly a separate subject from physical fitness training. Adipose tissue (fat, the revolting yellow lard that burdens your body and heart especially, and drives surgeons nuts by makes their scalpels greasy and slippery) is very easy to accumulate and difficult to burn off. It's like the opposite of money.
- Your energy storage consists mainly of carbs stored as sugar (glycogen - the petty cash drawer of energy) and carbs converted into sugar and then into fat if the sugar isn't burned right away (the long-term investment which is more difficult to access and burn). It's been calculated that the average Western citizen has enough stored energy to walk 600-1000 miles. A gift of evolution.
- To burn fat as fuel, you have to restrict sugar (ie, carbs). The resulting condition is known as ketosis, and can make your breath smell funny. It is thought that your body can speed up its ability to mobilize fat as an energy source, when carb-limited.
- There is a myth about good carbs and bad carbs. This really only applies to diabetics. All dietary carbs are converted to sugar, even potatoes. That's why all the talk about dietary sugar itself is nonsense. We've all seen people have a Splenda in their coffee with their whole wheat bagel. Are you kidding me? A little sugar is 10 calories and the bagel is 300 calories. Many people do not understand that all carbs become sugar during digestion. Yes, even brown rice and whole wheat bread. If you need the microscopic amount of protein in them you are in real trouble.
-To attain a target weight, you have to restrict but not totally eliminate carbs from the diet. One or two slices of bread and one apple is plenty of daily carbs for a weight loss program, along with the relatively small amount of carbs in vegetables.
- As I have posted in the past, exercise, especially intense exertion, has numerous health and life benefits but is an ineffective way to try lose fat without the primary dietary component. The reason is that the body burns carbs preferentially. It's easier for it to do. The body is set up to protect its long-term investment in case of starvation conditions and it is happy to store as much as you will offer it. It's a sponge.
- In middle age, metabolism slows for both men and women. Menopause, especially. Caloric needs drop substantially regardless of activity level. Accumulating fat becomes easier, and getting rid of it becomes more difficult. Best just not to accumulate it.
- It is true that, the minute your feeling of hunger goes away, you have probably had enough to eat. Also true that, in the prosperous Western world, feeding has become a recreation, an event, or a self-soothing therapy or a cure for boredom, and a clockwork routine, and both hunger and satiety signals are thrown to the winds. For example, many sedentary people will eat a lunch simply "because it's lunchtime."
- It is also true that intense daily exercise reduces appetite in most people. It has to be intense, though.
- The less you eat, the more your stomach shrinks and thus the quicker you are satisfied. If you pay attention to it, that is.
Now to fitness, not weight loss
- As for physical conditioning (but not for weight loss), it is true that anything beyond full-day sedentary is good. Maintaining mobility and ordinary functionality is a good thing. Use it or lose it. The more activity demands you put on yourself during the day, of any sort, the better off you will be.
- To maintain good conditioning in middle age and later age requires either day-long physical labor or a more compact, more intense, daily or every other day effort and commitment for those whose lives are basically sedentary. That is most of us in our luxurious, decadent era. (Walking around counts as sedentary as does weekend sports or yard work.) Otherwise, there will be more physical deterioration than we want.
- I agree with all who say that serious weight training is the best way to do that. I agree that intense weight training and high-intensity aerobics are the most efficient ways to improve or maintain physical conditioning at any age.
- a physically-stressful weight training program requires some protein for muscle repair and construction. It doesn't require very much, but it requires some small amounts during the day. A whole steak or fish filet is not necessary, but an egg or one slice of meat 3 or 4 times daily is plenty sufficient protein for a demanding program. Adult humans do not need much protein - except for pleasure.
- It is true that light, high-rep workouts and non-intense aerobics (meaning if you can breathe relatively comfortably) have minimal benefits, but they do make people feel good, reduce anxiety, and help with sleep. That counts for something. Better than nothing.
- Being fit will likely not extend your life, but could make it more pleasant, energetic, and functional. It will make you more attractive too.
- It has become clear to me that fitness and fatness is a class- and culture-related topic. In the US, poor people tend to be fatter and less active. I don't know why that is. For what's it is worth, Pres. Obama does a tough workout for an hour each morning with a trainer before he does anything else. So did Bush. Good examples for those of us who sit on our behinds most of the day to earn a living.
- Gluttony is a sin, deadly spiritually and literally like lust. Prosperous Romans ate until over-full, puked in the vomitorium, then went at it again. For fun. Their slaves were healthier than the patricians. Adult people do not need much food to be healthy and strong. On the other hand, fitness is a secular, esthetic, and practical virtue. I have never been able to think of my body as a temple but it sure comes in handy.
- Why are Americans overweight? Cheap food, habit, hedonism, TV, internet, prosperity, machines, minimal hard work to be done. It's no mystery.
A fairly good piece on the physiology: Fat Metabolism During Exercise: New Concepts
Friday, July 17. 2015
Yes, Cialis can help many women, especially post-menopausal women, experience more sexual enthusiasm and more pleasure.
If there's a problem, it is worth a try. You can buy it online. Sometimes it is labelled "Female Cialis," but I think it's the same thing men take. Check with your doctor, of course, but it's not a dangerous drug. Start with a low dose, and work up if needed.
I prescribe it often to women, and I'd guess that most find it helpful. A better sex life can improve a relationship in surprising ways, regardless of age.
Thursday, July 16. 2015
Tuesday, July 14. 2015
And it is driving doctors crazy and wasting their time: Death By Documentation
Nobody goes into medicine to do paperwork, to be bossed, or to be a rule-follower. Quite the opposite historically, but the new breed seems more submissive and less defiant.
Friday, July 10. 2015
There are many common words which, if you drill down into them, you just find turtles all the way down. What are those two things? Are they emotions, instincts, behaviors (ie adjectives turned into nouns), effortful behaviors, or just vague and ambiguous words?
We know that courage, for example, is a word for doing something we feel fearful or anxious about. But what is that?
Your thoughts, please. (And Gwynnie, please do not answer with a simple "Yes.")
Wednesday, July 8. 2015
People grow best in relationship with others. Ideally, a Virgil, or lesser ordinary amateur virgils.
It's difficult to grow religiously without a confessor, a director, or an intimate small group. It's difficult to explore one's own neurotic hang-ups without a therapist. It's difficult to grow in strength and endurance without a trainer or a group. You can read Bertrand Russell's book, but you can learn western philosophy better with a good prof as a human guide. In business, a mentor can be essential. And so forth. Self-protective isolation, which I term insulation, is deadly but feels safe.
A post we had earlier about placebo effect (morphine administered by a gentle nurse can be twice as pain-relieving as morphine machine-administered) showed how much the umbrella of relationship can help people by providing a human umbrella, a human container, which makes it easier to push the envelope of life. All things can be done alone, but far less effectively because that's the way humans are. Alone, we are limited, self-limited. Others with whom we are in relationship can push us, confront us, challenge us, correct us, and that helps us grow.
I like doing group therapy. It doesn't cure any mental illness, but it helps people grow in life regardless of their limits or emotional problems. AA the same.
A problem I have with the modern, bureaucratic idea of the commodification of technical medical care is that it ignores, or negates, the historical and, I believe, essential component of the personal relationship. Cookbook medical care is terrible.
The human connection provides the lift. Of course, that's why we need parents and siblings when we are kids.
Tuesday, July 7. 2015
A generation or two ago, many or most middle-aged people acted and looked old, stodgy, and even weary. This Youtube is good, re fitness for the over-50 set. It's not an ad for Crossfit but it does show what the middle-aged can do to keep on truckin'. I think the group experience adds something extra to it all, besides lowering the cost of the training:
Monday, July 6. 2015
Sunday, July 5. 2015
He talks about business people, but neglects the frequency of psychopathy in politicians. I think it's more common in the latter.
Over the years, I have told some number of people that psychopathy is their problem. They are good at "feeling your pain," in all senses of the term. Empathy? Sociopaths are experts at expressing that. Manipulation. Leave a trail of self-interest and damage during their lives. Much of it is not jail-worthy. Dumb sociopaths are more likely to go to jail.
Is it a mental disorder? Not really. Just rotten people who might exploit you or hurt you, with strong, minimally-governed predatory instincts.
Thursday, July 2. 2015
Fit, strong, and sexy yet? At this point, I have offered enough advice. Take it, or do not. Take it, or donut. It's your life, as I say all day long to people regarding all sorts of things. Brief as that of a butterfly, from God's view.
Sunday, June 28. 2015
Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry,by Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., with Ogi Ogas: A Critical Discussion
Dr. Friedman's discussion is excellent and interesting. One quote: