aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
More on anti-gay love
Ah, yes. The danger of the Jews/Gays spreading their disease throughout society, their enormous power despite tiny numbers, their ability to pass, their threat to children, their flaunting of their disagreement with the New Testament. It’s all so familiar. I think the arguments now made by some Christianists are replicas of the old anti-Semitism, peddled by so many Christians in the past: that Jews are to be loved, but loving them is dependent on their conversion to Christianity; that you can love individual Jews while disdaining Judaism; that Jews’ stubbornness in resisting conversion is evidence of their inherent evil; that such evil, at some point, has to be segregated from mainstream society as much as possible. Gays are not the new blacks. They’re the new Jews. And the Church, in both Catholic and Protestant variants, is dredging up its old anti-Semitism in new guises. The GOP is along for the ride.
Anti-gay action rooted in love
In light of the action in the GA Senate today, I am compelled to quote again Russell Shorto in the Times Magazine last June, What’s Their Real Problem with Gay Marriage (It’s the Gay Part):
I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ‘’I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don’t believe gays should be allowed to marry.’’ Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself. [...]
Gay rights leaders say that gay marriage has become useful for their counterparts on the religious right in part because it allows them to tap into an antipathy toward homosexuality...In this calculation, gay marriage serves as a vessel for containing opinions that many social conservatives have but which in the past they might have felt were socially unacceptable to voice.
Robert Knight, the director of the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, conceded as much. ‘’People feel liberated,’’ he said. ‘’They feel like we don’t have to go along with this stuff anymore, the idea that we’re repressed backwater religious zealots just for wanting a decent society in which our children can thrive. It’s O.K. today to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. Saying so does not make you a hater or bigot.’’
But what’s the logical conclusion of their voting and their legal action? They are upset that the Supreme Court has said it is legal to be gay. I keep wondering if the inverse is true? If not legal do they then want us all rounded up and put in prison? Put into therapy to be cured? What is their public policy prognosis? Who knows… but their rhetoric says it’s rooted in love:
Indeed, a constant refrain among the anti-gay-marriage forces is that they are motivated not by hate but by love. Most of the activists I spoke with say that they know gay people—several said they have relatives who are gay—and that they have approached them, with love, to try to get them to change. Rick Bowers, a pastor of a nondenominational church in Columbia, Md., is the head of Defend Maryland Marriage, another activist group, which works with Focus on the Family. ‘’There are those extremists who say that if a gay person were on fire you would burn in hell if you spit on them to put out the fire,’’ he told me. ‘’But we’re not like that. We love the human being. It’s the lifestyle we disagree with.’’
I would say that neatly sums up the thinking around here, and of some in my family and in Doug’s.
At its essence, then, the Christian conservative thinking about gay marriage runs this way. Homosexuality is not an innate, biological condition but a disease in society. Marriage is the healthy root of society. To put the two together is thus willfully to introduce disease to that root. It is society willing self-destruction, which is itself a symptom of a wider societal disease, that of secularism.
And those of us on the left have to counter that argument directly, make positive arguments for a moral gay construct and the legitimacy of secularism.
Comparing the gay civil rights movement to the black civil rights movement has always seemed valid to me. Reading this article makes it ever more so. Like segregationist whites in the South, this attitude is so deeply felt and so entrenched that it is not likely to go away. But it can and it must be defeated.
GA Parents Permission to Participate update
You’ll recall that the GA House passed a watered down version of the Parents Permission to Participate bill. This version would give parents the option to withhold permission for public school students to join any club, but it’s widely accepted and arguably demonstrable that its intent is to keep students from joining Gaya Straight Alliances.
Today the Seante passed its version with the more restricive original language:
State Senator Nancy Schaefer, desperate to see her restrictive Parental Permission Bill become law, had the Senate amend another bill with her original language as was seen in Senate Bill 149.
The State Senate today approved Senate Bill 413 but only after amending it to include Schaefer’s language. The bill was passed on a voice vote meaning that no record of the vote was taken.
The bill now goes to the House where the House Education Committee will have the opportunity to remove Schaefer’s language, approve it or amend it. Since the House has already passed a less-restrictive “opt-out” bill, it is hopeful that the committee will not accept Schaefer’s language and instead substitute it for the language they approved in HB 661.
During the debate on the bill today, Senator Schaefer said that the bill has nothing to do with Gay/Straight Alliances and is meant solely to involve parents in the decisions made by students. However, Georgia Equality believes that Senator Schaefer’s action today was prompted by yesterday’s lawsuit by the ACLU against the White County Board of Education. She was clearly misrepresenting the facts when making her statement.
Here’s the smarmy story of the White County Board of Ed.
Pornography: The Internet changes everything
This post has been percolating for a while; it’s tricky and not fully formed. My thesis is that while we’re fretting hysterically about predators preying on children online, we’re busy producing a whole new kind of predator via Internet porn.
So how to explain?
I’ve quoted and accepted the statistics I’ve come across that say that most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the victim. But I’ve also taken very seriously the December NYTimes piece that found a boy and his webcam garnered 1,500 - fifteen hundred! - perpetrators. The article makes clear that this individual boy is but one of many, many more.
That I believe. And, significantly, the perpetrator is no longer known to the victim.
The Times article didn’t identify the perpetrators - I expect that will come - but the recent ”To Catch a Predator” Dateline series did. We find that they are lawyers and rabbis and doctors and teachers and yes, one or two losers and run of the mill sex addicts.
My questions about the methods of that particular program aside, there is clearly a big bad ugly bear of a problem here. And much as we might like to think that these folks are just sick monsters who should be hung, it looks to me like they are your neighbors and mine, or worse, our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends and co-workers. People we know and like. And it’s my supposition that the roots of this growing problem are in Internet porn.
Now I’ve never been big on porn myself, maybe because I was a gay child so my father’s hidden Playboys found by my brothers did nothing for me. But those magazines had built in limits. There were only so many photos. And if we wanted more, we had to go to a store and get some.
The Internet’s supply is unending. And as one clicks from site to site, fantasy to fantasy, they really may just accidentally run into something of questionable legality. The other element at work here is that, sitting in the privacy of wherever they are, they can kid themselves that they’re really doing no harm; that they are not actually physically doing anything.
I’m lost here, out of my league. I’ll explore it more. I’m not trying to say that these perpetrators are sweet innocents, but it seems to me that if we don’t do something about the cause, our problem will just keep getting bigger.
Social networking sites: teen menace or teachable moment?
I just listened to John Shehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in this ITConversations podcast warn of the threat that social networking sites pose to children and teenagers who share personal information. I came away decidedly unimpressed.
I’m not at all convinced that awareness requires the scare tactics of inflammatory rhetoric and sensationalistic terms; I actually think adults - and probably chidren too - respond better to honest and accurate asssesments. I know there are real threats and real problems; I’m just not sure we’re looking at them.
In this instance, I think the truth is closer to what Wired reported yesterday:
The most oft-stated concern about all this [personal information revealed on social networking sites] is that predators might use it to track down the kids, then abduct or attack them. Actual cases of this happening are hard to find. Instead...the teens themselves are being treated as offenders, garnering punishment for writing about their teachers, school administrators or each other.
In November, a 16-year-old girl at Paramus High School in New Jersey had three days added to an existing suspension for posting mean comments about another student on her MySpace page. Last month, seven students in Lincoln, Nebraska, were suspended from their high school basketball team after a MySpace message mentioned they’d been drinking alcohol.
Early this year, administrators at Powell High School in Tennessee suspended two sophomores and a junior for as long as 30 days for posting off-color messages under a teacher’s name. Last week, under threat of an ACLU lawsuit, Littleton High School in Colorado reluctantly readmitted a 16-year-old MySpace user who had been suspended for posting a satirical commentary on the school.
In many of these cases it’s clearly the adults who are misbehaving. Under a 1969 Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, even on-campus student speech is afforded First Amendment protection at public schools, unless it “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”
Educators should buy-in to the “teachable moment” notion and use the opportunity to guide safe internet habits:
“Maybe the MySpace medium is another channel where we can be working with our students,” says Fenger. To that end, he’s forming a student-teacher committee to explore positive uses of MySpace. “The reason I think a lot of schools don’t go this way is it takes staff, it takes resources. It takes faculty time and it takes students’ time.”
Boyd argues persuasively that MySpace is serving an important role for teens who need to interact with one another away from adults as part of the normal socialization process. “We all forget that teenage years are all about hanging out,” she says.
Teens are doing this on the internet, in part, because there are fewer public places they can claim as their own, and safety-conscious parents are more reluctant than past generations to let their kids go out into a real world unsupervised.
NOTE: The photo is a stilll of NYU’s Siva Vaidhyanathan being interviewed by Demetri Martin for a Daily Show Trendspotting segment on Social Networking. Demetri’s got 9,000 friends… now that’s an issue. Not a “problem” but worth looking at. It’s also a fun segment!
The Fish School promises to help teach your aquatic pet to “swim through hoops, jump, limbo, eat from your hand--even play soccer,” according to its site, which was compelled to add: “This is NOT a joke.”
Dean Pomerleau, one of the creators, told Blogma that the school will soon be featured in Discover Magazine. “And just last week we learned that our best pupil (Albert Einstein) is going to be recognized as ‘the trained fish with the most tricks’ by the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Golly, I can’t even make my dog fetch!
Monday, February 27, 2006
I didn’t really have an opinion on the question of whether or not New Orleans should celebrate Mardi Gras. I do now.
It was totally the right decision to do it.
I’m among those who think that New Orleans has fallen off the national map too quickly. They’re not getting the kind of help they should be.
Not only have they earned a break to celebrate in their tradition, Marti gras puts them back on the media map. I hope it helps.
Six months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a city of revelry --- and a city of despair. A city where some neighborhoods are up and running, and others are a wasteland. A city where some have found a new calling, and some can no longer cope. Robert Siegel and Michele Norris report from New Orleans.
UPDATE: Harry makes an excellent point in the comments; what’s true for New Orleans is doubly true for the Mississippi coast!
Close down all groups to ban a gay group. Then cheat!
That’s what a White County High School did.
Last week the Georgia House passed a watered down Parents Permission to Participate bill widely understood to be targeting gay-straight alliances in high schools.
This week it is alleged in a lawsuit filed today by the ACLU and students that a ban has been unfarily applied in order to keep a gay-straight alliance from meetting on school grounds:
In the ongoing battle to reinstate a gay-straight alliance club at White County High School in northeast Georgia, the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal court against school officials, claiming they illegally banned the club. Several students, led by The Advocate’s 2005 Person of the Year, Kerry Pacer, started the club to address rampant antigay harassment at the school.
Last year school administrators reluctantly agreed to let the club form after several months of stalling when the ACLU of Georgia stepped in and negotiated on the students’ behalf. A few days later school officials announced plans to ban all noncurricular student groups for the 2005-2006 academic year.
The GSA, called PRIDE, hasn’t been permitted to meet on campus this school year, but several other clubs-including a shooting club and a school dance team-continue meeting at the school even though they don’t participate in activities relevant to the curriculum, academic credit is not provided for participation in them, and participation in them isn’t required for any course.
...that he believed the clubs allowed at the county high school were legal and tied in some way to the school’s curriculum or athletics.
He said in June that the elimination of all noncurricular clubs had been in the works for months.
“Clubs have not lived up to what they are supposed to be doing. ... Plus, we want to focus on academics this coming school year,” he said at the time.
Uh oh, the update
Well, I guess the bottom line is that if you ever wake up with sudden complete hearing loss, go to an ear, nose and throat specialist immediately.
I got to the doctor at about 11 a.m. today. Great doctor, I like him. That’s good because I gather I’ll be seeing a good bit of him over the next few days. He gave me great gobs of information; I could only absorb so much, but what I get is that there are only two possible causes of my hearing loss: a brain event or an infection of some sort.
We don’t think it a brain event (my term, I don’t recall what his terms were but what he said was that if it is the brain it could be one of many things so I’ve reduced all of it down to “brain event"). I’m not exhibiting other neurological symptoms; if I were I’d be in the hospital. As it is, I have an MRI at 4 to rule this option out.
The other option, the infection, also could be a number of things. Herpes was in there somewhere though he said not the kind of herpes we’re used to, maybe 7 or 8? He also said the word “stroke” though that might have been under the heading of brain event. The trick with the infection is to treat it aggressively and quickly because, and here’s the rub, the earlier and the more aggressive the more likely the possibility of recovering hearing.
I never heard the word “full” as in recover full hearing, but he seemed to indicate that there was a good shot at recovering my hearing. So I’m taking the meds but the problem is that the vertigo and dizziness is so severe that nausea is a problem - sorry if I’m being too graphic. Now I’ve got to take meds to help me keep the meds down.
Interestingly, the computer is my friend in this regard. By focusing on the screen, the doctor explained, I minimize the vertigo and dizziness. In fact, as I sit here typing I have virtually none. His office has wireless so I was blogging away (corrected my misspellings in the previous post) and emailing my friend in New York (who, in typical New York fashion, was saying, “get out of there and get to Emory in Atlanta!")
If the MRI turns out bad I’ll head to Atlanta. I wonder if they have wireless at Emory? Otherwise I’m staying here in the good hands of the good people who are taking good care of me. Remember, I believe that genius is evenly distributed, we just don’t know it yet.
UPDATE: The MRI’s all clear.
Parsing the MySpace backlash
Wired has a major article on MySpace that finds the media and politicians who criticize the site are guilty of scapegoating and overreaction:
The spate of MySpace-related sexual predation stories undeniably has the feel of an epidemic, and it stands as the most persuasive evidence for the “parent’s worst nightmare” viewpoint. But put in context, it’s also the most overblown.
In actuality, the incidents that have been publicly linked to the site are dwarfed by the overall number of such cases historically prosecuted nationwide. An August study by the National Center for Juvenile Justice estimated there were about 15,700 statutory rapes reported to law enforcement agencies in the United States in 2000, based on an analysis of data collected by the FBI. That amounts to 43 cases per day. In fact, with a reported population of 57 million users, MySpace is arguably safer from such crime than other communities that haven’t been the subject of the same scrutiny. One example: California, which averaged 62 statutory rape convictions per month in the late 90s, in a state population of 33 million.
We’ve been down this road before:
Parents in the 1950s were horrified to discover that the comic books their children were reading contained violent and sometimes gruesome cartoon imagery, leading to congressional hearings and the formation of an industry “comic book code” that held titles to wholesome standards.
In the 1980s, parents opened their kids’ bedroom doors and were buffeted by heavy metal music, leading to another round of panic and “Parental Advisory” labels on albums. In the ‘90s, it was rap. In the wake of the Columbine massacre, wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt to school could be grounds for suspension.
This time, though, the target of the crackdown is content created by teens and not just consumed by them.
The very design of a teenager’s MySpace page can be shocking to adult eyes. A highly customizable amalgam of blogging, music sharing and social-discovery services, a typical page is a near perfect reflection of the chaos and passion of youth: a music-filled space, rudely splattered with photos and covered in barely-legible prose rendered in font colors that blend together and fade into the background.
“The profiles are hideous,” says a technology specialist at a southern Oregon school district that’s recently started blocking the site for safety reasons. “I’ve seen yellow text on a red background before.”
I am aware that there are real issues to be explored here, but (anecdotally & locally) I see a huge dollop of anti-technology bias in educators’ discussion of the topic.
We need to embrace and understand this part of the modern landscape that is not going away, then work from there to help teens negotiate the terrain appropriately.
Reports of blogging’s demise are bosh
Jason Fry in the Wall Street Journal:
Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers’ dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can’t get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate’s Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was “somewhere between nil and negative.” From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross’s name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.
Reports of blogging’s demise are bosh, but if we’re lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.
My bet: Within a couple of years blogging will be a term thrown around loosely—and sometimes inaccurately—to describe a style and rhythm of writing, as well as the tools to publish that writing. This is already happening: One of the chief problems with some chronicles of blogging’s demise is their confusion about definitions, a confusion that’s mirrored in efforts to measure blogs’ popularity or to say anything that can apply to bloggers as a group.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Gladwell changes his mind
Apparently Malcolm Gladwell’s argument on the wrong side of the national health care debate, opposite Adam Gopnik in the Washington Monthly some years back, has gotten some recent attention in the blogosphere.
Well today he says, “I shudder when I read what I said back then:”
Why have I changed my mind? Some of my reasons are in the piece on moral hazard I wrote for the New Yorker last summer. The bigger reason is simply that I woke up one day and realized what much smarter people than me (Adam Gopnik) realized a long time ago, which is that the idea of employer-based health care is just plain stupid Ã‚- and only our familiarity with it and sheer inertia prevent us from rising up in rebellion.
I always try to think of a suitable analogy and fail. The closest I can come is to imagine if we had employer-based subways in New York. You could ride the subway if you had a job. But if you lost your job, you would either have to walk or pay a prohibitively expensive subway surcharge. Of course, if you lost your job you would need the subway more than ever, because you couldn’t afford taxis and you would need to travel around looking for work. Right? In any case, what logical connection is there between employment and transporation? If you can answer that question, you can solve the riddle of the U.S. health care system. And maybe I’ll change my mind back.
Via Kevin Drum, who got first dibs on the wonderful Gladwell Blinks headline!
Has the global Christian community lost its moral bearings?
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington in todays WaPo:
It’s no secret that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are engaged in a bitter internal struggle over the role of gay and lesbian people within the church. But despite this struggle, the leaders of our global communion of 77 million members have consistently reiterated their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians. Meeting last February, the primates who lead our 38 member provinces issued a unanimous statement that said in part: “The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us.”
We now have reason to doubt those words.
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria’s government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions. [...]
Surprisingly, few voices—Anglican or otherwise—have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?
I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop’s many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?
In his June NYTimes Magazine article, Russell Shorto suggests the answer, What’s Their Real Problem with Gay Marriage (It’s the Gay Part).
Bankruptcy filers really are broke
In what will undoubtedly be the first of many ‘’I told you so” reports, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys has found that, overwhelmingly, people who file for bankruptcy protection aren’t deadbeats who went on shopping sprees with the intention of shirking their debts.
That’s quite contrary to what was being charged by supporters of a federal bankruptcy law that went into effect last October.
For years, those proponents argued that billions of dollars were being lost because people were simply being allowed to walk away from their debts. [...]
Now, in the first analysis of the tens of thousands of people who have undergone credit counseling since the law passed, the bankruptcy attorneys association found that nearly all (97 percent) of the debtors truly couldn’t pay their debts. [...]
Four out of five filers felt forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of a job loss, catastrophic medical expenses, or the death of a spouse, according to the report, ‘’Bankruptcy Reform’s Impact: Where Are All the Deadbeats?”
RELATED: Christopher Hayes wrtingin In These Times on How to Turn Your Red State Blue last March suggests building a movement around credit reform:
Americans Coming Together (ACT), a massive voter organization group, could, in a future incarnation, select 100 red counties in red states with high bankruptcy rates and pay for two organizers and an office in each. The organizers would use the extensive e-mail lists of groups like MoveOn and Democracy for America to recruit volunteers from among local progressives, and reach out to people in the area who are in serious debt through canvassing, fliers and other means...At the same time as organizing and outreach is happening on the ground locally, ACT could begin a national media campaign around a “credit reform” platform that would reregulate the credit industry, empower those filing for bankruptcy, cap annual interest rates and outlaw predatory lending practices...Success would build on success.
The people in my circle here in Georgia believe it’s a message that would resonate. Let’s do it!
PersonalDNA is a web service that does a sophisticated and rigorous personality profile in about 15-20 minutes (I know because I just took one). It makes use of lots of cool ajaxy things like sliders and buckets.
At the end you get a result which you can publish.
The test is quick and fun, and pulls you in (and seems accurate enough in its conclusion) but the niftiest Web 2.0 part promised is the ”psyche you/psych me” feature:
Invite people to assess you! They’ll be given reports that will represent their versions of your personality. If they share those reports with you, you can collect everyone else’s version of your personality and compare personalDNA strips and personality maps side-by-side with yours. You’ll also get a match percentage to see how well they know you (see a sample report here).
That said, and after sending off a link to friends, it’s not looking entirely intuitive as to how it works. This is my link; try it!
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Kristof on Dubai Ports World
Even if you believe in racial profiling, you have to look beyond the profile. Senators talk about Dubai in dark tones that suggest they’ve never been there. Dubai is the Disneyland of the Arab world - it’s the place people go to relax, to shop, to drink. It is staunchly pro-American and pro-business, and its vision of the Arab future is absolutely the opposite of Osama bin Laden’s. If we want to encourage Arab modernization, we should be approving this deal - not engaging in quasi-racist scaremongering. [...]
If Democrats want to improve national security, they can tackle it in a thousand ways. The biggest vulnerabilities in our ports could be addressed by increasing customs inspections abroad, by adding radiation detectors, by examining more containers or by making containers tamper-proof. And if the aim is to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, then how about more support for the Nunn-Lugar program to secure Russian nuclear materials?
Democrats have so many legitimate reasons to criticize President Bush - from ruining our nation’s finances to despoiling American wilderness - that it’s painful to see them scaremongering in just the way that Mr. Bush himself has.
RELATED: Pro-American and pro-business, maybe, but anti-gay for sure:
Twenty-six men arrested at what police in the United Arab Emirates called a “gay wedding” have been sentenced each to five years in prison.
The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law, although police acknowledged that non of the men were engaged in a sexual act when police raided the event.
The misdiagnosis crisis
The doctors on weekend duty ordered blood tests, which showed that the boy had leukemia. There were a few things about his condition that didn’t add up, like the light brown spots on the skin, but the doctors still scheduled a strong course of chemotherapy to start on Monday afternoon. Time, after all, was their enemy. [...]
What the doctors didn’t know was that the boy had a rare form of the disease that chemotherapy does not cure. It makes the symptoms go away for a month or so, but then they return. Worst of all, each round of chemotherapy would bring a serious risk of death, since he was already so weak.
With all the tools available to modern medicine - the blood tests and M.R.I.’s and endoscopes - you might think that misdiagnosis has become a rare thing. But you would be wrong. Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 percent of the time. So millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease.
As shocking as that is, the more astonishing fact may be that the rate has not really changed since the 1930’s. ”No improvement!” was how an article in the normally exclamation-free Journal of the American Medical Association summarized the situation.
Don’t be happy, worry
Psychology has an improbable new rock star in Steven Hayes, a 57-year-old University of Nevada at Reno professor whose newest book, “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life,” coauthored with Spencer Smith, earned him a splashy profile in the Feb. 13 edition of Time magazine. The arresting headline of the Time story was “Happiness Isn’t Normal”—and while that’s not a sentence Hayes actually penned, it has quickly become the catchphrase associated with his controversial school of “acceptance and commitment therapy.” ACT, as it’s known, is an approach to mental and behavioral health that flies in the face of traditional cognitive therapy and is being referred to as “third-wave” psychology (following second-wave cognitive therapy and first-wave behavior therapy).
From the interview:
Western culture promotes feel-goodism. In part it’s a side effect of having technology to make things easier or feel better. It’s natural progress, so we don’t have to do the sweaty, hard things our forebears had to do. But inside that is a meta-message, which is that you’re supposed to feel good from morning to night. And add on top of that commercialism and medications—because they feed it too: If you consume the right products, eat the right pill, drink the right beer, drive the right car, you believe that you’re not going to feel anything you don’t like. What I’m saying is that that is not the definition of a meaningful life, and I’m saying people know it.
Oh. I agree.
Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta), previously no fan of the General Assembly’s affinity for designating official symbols, filed legislation Thursday to name Georgia red clay the state’s official dirt.
“I grew up in Alabama and we always talked about Georgia clay,” Franklin said. “It’s known all over the world. We’ve got practically everything else under the sun listed.”
In all, Georgia has about 45 “official” things. In recent years, lawmakers have designated grits the official “prepared food,” the green tree frog the official state amphibian, and the big peanut off I-75 in Turner County the official state peanut monument.
Here’s the dirt bill.
I woke up this morning with complete deafness in one ear. This is the “I’m feeling lucky” Google hit.
LATER: Better hit, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Some patients recover completely without medical intervention.”
Of course, they do say, “It should be considered a medical emergency.” Have you ever tried to get a doctor in rural Georgia on a Saturday?
LATER STILL: Option 1) drive an hour each way to wait 2 to 5 hours ("best guess") to see a random doctor with no particular expertise at an “Urgent Care” facility. Option 2) wait until Monday.
My doctor and Doug’s doctor’s advice, wait until Monday. Expect a smattering of future posts grumbling about health care in America…
Friday, February 24, 2006
Anagram MARTA map
UPDATE: As if that wasn’t enough, Cory posted more this morning.
Moyers in CA on money & politics
Truthout has the full text of Bill Moyers’ prepared remarks for an eight-day speaking trip in California on the issue of money and politics:
I will leave to Jon Stewart the rich threads of humor to pluck from the hunting incident in Texas. All of us are relieved that the Vice President’s friend has survived. I can accept Dick Cheney’s word that the accident was one of the worst moments of his life. What intrigues me as a journalist now is the rare glimpse we have serendipitously been offered into the tightly knit world of the elites who govern today.
The Vice President was hunting on a 50-thousand acre ranch owned by a lobbyist friend who is the heiress to a family fortune of land, cattle, banking and oil (ah, yes, the quickest and surest way to the American dream remains to choose your parents well.)
The circumstances of the hunt and the identity of the hunters provoked a lament from The Economist. The most influential pro-business magazine in the world is concerned that hunting in America is becoming a matter of class: the rich are doing more, the working stiffs, less. The annual loss of 1.5 millions of acres of wildlife habitat and 1 million acres of farm and ranchland to development and sprawl has come “at the expense of ‘The Deer Hunter’ crowd in the small towns of the north-east, the rednecks of the south and the cowboys of the west.” Their places, says The Economist, are being taken by the affluent who pay plenty for such conveniences as being driven to where the covey cooperatively awaits. The magazine (hardly a Marxist rag, remember) describes Mr. Cheney’s own expedition as “a lot closer to ‘Gosford Park’ than ‘The Deer Hunter’ - a group of fat old toffs waiting for wildlife to be flushed towards them at huge expense.” READ ON.
Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.
It’s a Dick Cheney world out there
More from the text of Bill Moyers’ prepared remarks for his California speaking trip:
Watching these people work is a study of the inner circle at the top of American politics. The journalist Sidney Blumenthal, writing on Salon.com, reminds us of the relationship between the Armstrong dynasty and the Bush family and its retainers. Armstrong’s father invested in Rove’s political consulting firm that managed George W. Bush’s election as governor of Texas and as president. Her mother, Anne Armstrong, is a longtime Republican activist and donor. Ronald Reagan appointed her to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board after her tenure as Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Ford, whose chief of staff was a young Dick Cheney. Anne Armstrong served on the board of directors of Halliburton that hired Cheney to run the company. Her daughter, Katherine Armstrong, host of the hunting party, was once a lobbyist for the powerful Houston law firm founded by the family of James A. Baker III, who was chief of staff to Reagan, Secretary of State under the first George Bush, and the man designated by the Bush family to make sure the younger Bush was named President in 2000 despite having lost the popular vote. According to Blumenthal, one of her more recent lobbying jobs was with a large construction firm with contracts in Iraq.
It is a Dick Cheney world out there - a world where politicians and lobbyists hunt together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together and prey together, all the while carving up the world according to their own interests.
Here’s the Blumenthal article he’s talking about. None of it is metaphoric.
The WORST PROFESSOR EVER! (Vote early & often)
Who is the world’s worstest professor? Per the FrontPage magazine poll, as of now, it’s Michael BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ©; In fact, Michael is about 1000 times worse than Ward Churchill, the guy who, only a few months ago, was worse than Osama bin Laden. Michael is c. 5000 times worse than Bernardine Dohrn, who was part of the leadership of the Weather Underground, and even made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. And ProfessorBÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© is more than 10,000 times worse than ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers.
(Ayers, as we are reminded by Jamie Glazov in an interview David Horowitz consented to give to FrontPage about his book, “was the leader of the terrorist ‘Weatherman’ cult” who accidentally blew up his girlfriend while making a bomb. But Horowitz reveals something even worse about Ayers “Even when I was a leftist Bill Ayers struck me as a superficial human being, and essentially thoughtless.")
So, you can see just how evil BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© must be.
And with your help, he can be even worse. Vote now to ensure that Michael gets the recognition he deserves. (And since you can apparently vote as many times as you want, your opinion can really make a difference.)
The last time I quoted Michael BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© was when he called academic freedom a cornerstone of a free society (and pointed to the $1,000 popcorn maker). That’s bad Bad BAD! But to see what he’s been up to lately I moseyed on over to BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ©’s place and dug around a bit. Shortly I found my way to this:
[Y]ou know, dear friends, I resent being called “the very professor who calls [Horowitz] a liar without checking the facts.” The truth—and I use the term advisedly—is that I called Horowitz a liar while hyperlinking to the facts. Horowitz lied about the student in Colorado, he lied about the biology professor who allegedly showed Fahrenheit 9/11 to his class, he has lied about me (actually, the line about how my “entire political focus since 9/11 has been in getting our terrorist enemies off the hook” comes closer to actual slander), and—I can’t believe I forgot this one!—he lied—to O’Reilly, on one of his many Fox News appearances—about his speaking engagement at Hamilton College. Or, as Horowitz put it at the time, “I fibbed about my invitation to Hamilton and about my Academic Bill of Rights . . . because it was truer to say that I had to be invited by students . . . than to say the faculty there—the Kirkland project in particular, which is what we were talking about—would invite me.”
Whew! That’s ONE BAD PROFESSOR. I’m going to place my vote (again) right now.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
South Park boycott backfires in New Zealand
You know the same would happen here:
An appeal from the Catholic Church for New Zealanders to boycott an episode of South Park has resulted in a record audience there for the controversial cartoon.
The “Bloody Mary” episode of South Park drew more than six times the normal audience, New Zealand broadcaster TV Works announced Thursday.