Battle of the Sexes: On Bonsai Trees & Suburban Myths

    A quote recently about men's role in the changing state of affairs (pardon the pun) struck me as rather bitchy and dismissive: "Oh, how fragile is the ego of a man. We must never let him feel like a bonsai in a grove of California redwoods..." The same article goes on to note men's time spent with children nearing women's (ignoring any Roy Moore jokes there). So why the insult and calumny? It's not like men aren't evolving to meet the changing societal situation, whatever the headlines. It's also not like men aren't on the brutal receiving end of many of these changes.

    Four Tumors

    John McCain came out of the hospital this week yet again a hero, with all of America cheering him on. Never mind that he was off to do battle against the type of health care that had just saved his life - the free health care that had made his life livable for 50 years since his horrid Vietnam days, while so many other lives slump by.

    But it was 10 months ago that America went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for supposedly hiding something sinister - presumably a tumor tied to a blod clot a few years back, or maybe just maybe Parkinsons, or something else, Wikileaks even going as far as to offer a poll to guess. The Media was hardly down with sympathy at her moment - why hadn't she said she had pneumonia, gasp!?!? why had she covered things up? and lots of bets on when, not if, her demise would come.

    Leftbehinds

    Our techno selves are gaining ground, but despite the Kurzweil singularity and all the promises of our cyberfuture, I'm more interested in stuff.

    A few groups reviewed Lennon's Imagine, with the usual questions of whether it's the drippiest sappiest song ever written, or something of noble spirit with timeless scope.

    But me, I'm looking at these pieces I find strewn about and wonder who's going to take care of them, archive them, re-imagine them in other forms and colors and textures and mashups. An old postcard, a record, a nice rock, a ticket from a concert, an unfinished sketch...

    Our humanity will be determined by what we cling onto. No one will save us from the responsibilities of our own space, no one will clean out that room - that bit's ours, to love, honor and cherish, or simply dispose of through neglect. It's us.

    We keep getting stuck in what other people define for us. How about we just think about what we want to think about, develop what we want to develop. At the end of time, it might just be us, a tent, a campfire, and a tin of beans. Who ever needed more?

    Poof. Like Quinn in space - that's all it ever was, just a promise. And we know about promises.

    The 15%, pack mentality & unrolling stupidity

    Smoking still accounts for a half million deaths a year  in the US, 1 of every 5 deaths.1 out of every 650 Americans dies from cigarettes yearly.

    This isn't news. MAD Magazine used to run iron lung parodies in the 60's. We know smoking kills, a lot faster than global warming.

    Driving has 1/15th the number of fatalities, and we make Google self-driving cars take precautions.

    15% of adults - 36.5 million Americans - smoke. More than 16 million have a smoking-related disease - slow suicide.

    You might think it's looking better, only 15% compared to 21% 12 years ago - but that's still an awful lot of stupid. *MORE* people smoke in the 25-44 range than over 65.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Infinite Meta: How To Fight at Dagblog

    So, my plan has been to only blog about Infinite Jest until I'm done with my second read of the book.  That also gives me a nice chance to play in the comments on the other posts and not be one of the loudest voices in the room re: The Primary.

    That said, we've seen rising tensions re: The Primary.

    Now, I've played my fair share of War Games online...

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    Ramona's picture

    We Need Paid Sick Leave Because Workers Are Humans First

    There's a fuss going on in Michigan over whether the state should mandate paid sick leave for all workers.  It's the Democrats who are proposing it but the Republicans dominate the government, so at this point it's not a question of winning the issue, it's a question of how far their bill gets before it fails.  (The sad backstory:  This same bill was first introduced in 2012.  The Republicans made sure it didn't get to committee for consideration. It was reintroduced in 2013.  Same story.  Now, in 2015, the Dems, bless their hearts, are trying again.)

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Nudge the Anti-Vaxxers

    At least on the internet, the anti-vaccine people have become social pariahs.  But, life is not the internet.  Life is more complicated than that. Phil Plait at Slate reminds us that the anti-vaccine movement is not a growing, nationwide phenomenon.  In aggregate, people are getting more vaccines, not less.  But pockets of anti-vaccination sentiment are growing and hardcore pockets can do damage even if overall numbers rise.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Typhoid Mary and the Anti-Vaxxers

    The measles outbreak in Southern California has been generously made possible by California law's "personal belief exemption," which allows adults to refuse vaccinations for their children or themselves based on their so-called "personal belief" that vaccines cause autism. Here "personal belief" is extended to include not simply religious and moral teachings -- the question here isn't that religion teaches that vaccination is morally wrong -- but factual errors.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Public Service Announcement: Ebola and New York City

    Our mayor just tried to calm the populace:

    "There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," de Blasio said at a news conference. "Being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk."

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Stop Panicking About Ebola

    Hi. I'm at Logan Airport in Boston. Unfortunately, CNN is on in the departure lounge. They are raving (indeed, nearly foaming at the mouth) about Ebola.

    And it seems, according to CNN, that the CDC has quarantined a plane from Liberia (oops, my bad: Dubai) where some passengers have fallen ill. They have quarantined that plane here at, well, Boston's Logan Airport.

    Should you be worried about Ebola? Let's put it this way: should I be worried about Ebola? No, and no.

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    Ramona's picture

    Should I Die At 75? Oh Wait. Too Late.

     

    On September 17, the very day--I mean, the exact day I turned 77, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's essay, "Why I hope to Die at 75" appeared in The Atlantic magazine.   You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Really?  (We old people say, "really?" while you say, "seriously?".  There's one difference right there.)

    Ramona's picture

    The Dark Sadness Claims Another Victim

    The news that comedian Robin Williams has succumbed to deep depression is sparking thousands of conversations on the airwaves and throughout the internet.  Once the shock is over, once the tributes and the memories and the RIPs have been delivered, the talk turns, as it always does when someone commits suicide, to what it was that could possibly make someone do such a thing. He had everything going for him and it still wasn’t enough. . .  Suicide is a selfish act. . .  A cowardly act. . . Look what he’s done to his family. . .

    Ramona's picture

    Why Self-Help Almost Never Is

    Here’s the thing about self-help:  If you’re reading a book or an article about how to fix your current miserable existence, or listening to a self-described “expert” tell you and hordes of others how to fix it, it’s not even close to being self-help.

    It’s not that these folks don’t want to help you.  They do!  They really, really do!  The goal is to help you to let go and try their tactics on your own. (But not to such a degree that you won’t be buying their next book or watching their next program.)

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    Ramona's picture

    Medicare and Obamacare: Same Old Story

    Note:  Thanks to Alan Colmes, I am now a regular contributor on his website, Liberaland.  He posted this piece this morning, so if you're interested in reading the complete piece it continues over there.  Thanks.

    In the next town over from us the recycling station is in a huge semi-trailer.  You have to climb six narrow metal steps to get up into it, but there is an aisle you can walk down and there are huge open boxes in which to throw your stuff. 

    Ramona's picture

    Remember Transvaginal Ultrasounds? They're baaack.

     

    You have to hand it to those Republican legislators in Michigan, my beautiful, besieged state.  I swear, they must stay awake nights trying to think up ways to protect our wicked womanly bodies from the fools who happen to own them.  (That would be us, ladies.)  In late December, Gov.

    Ramona's picture

    Hark! Some Doctors admit they might be for Obamacare. Oh, Right. Shhhh.

    Lately I've been hearing from certain friends that Obamacare is EVIL.  They're hearing it, they say, from their doctors, and I have to believe they're telling me the truth.  I don't understand why any doctor would favor health care profiteers over a plan--watered down as it may be--that at least makes an attempt to bring some relief to health care abuses, but my own dentist seems to be one of them.  He objects to Obamacare for reasons he didn't make entirely clear, but since he was railing against it while puttering around with a drill deep inside my tooth, I wasn't much for talking about i

    Donal's picture

    Will BF Skinner Make You Skinnier?

    My wife packed a chef salad for lunch—two cups—and I've eaten most of it. With the leftover chicken and lettuce, she included little cherry tomatoes that giggle as they dodge my fork. I eat them just before chasing the garbanzo beans around the bottom of the bowl. Also called chickpeas, they look like tiny brains and taste about like I'd expect brains to taste after soaking in two tablespoons of oil and vinegar. Then I get a peach Stonyfield Farm yogurt, a half cup of red grapes and a 3 1/4" apple. I eat much better when she's in town.

    I'm measuring what I eat so I can enter it on LoseIt, a website designed as a sort of group hug for dieters. In, The Perfected Self, David Freedman discusses his brother Dan's diet, BF Skinner, behavior modification, people that don't like Skinner and prefer cognitive therapy, fat farms, Weight Watchers and eventually sites like LoseIt. I never took Intro to Psychology, but my roommates did, so I at least heard about Skinner and his boxes while they were studying.

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    Donal's picture

    Diesels: So Bad?

    My mama didn't hate them, but I never knew much about diesels. During the late 70s fuel scare, one of my many bosses bought an Olds diesel, probably with the 350cc engine, to try to get better economy without buying a small car. He complained about it constantly, and the 350 is now considered one of the worst engines of all time. I drove my aunt's big Mercedes turbo-diesel a few times, but never, ever considered buying a diesel myself. But diesel keeps cropping up in articles, and clean diesels regularly figure in green car competitions. If you've got a pile of cash, you can buy the world green car of 2012, the Mercedes Benz S 250 CDI Blue Efficiency (below) for under $70,000, except that it doesn't seem to be sold in the US.

    Ramona's picture

    About those Ultrasounds: What if Doctors just say no?

     I've been wondering--haven't you?--why primary care physicians, and especially OB/GYNs, aren't speaking out about the current creepy Rightward trend toward using ultrasounds as punishment against women who dare to sign up for an abortion.  Turns out some of them are.

    They're angry, they're anguished, they're dumbstruck.  (Join the club.)  And they're speaking out anonymously--sadly--because we live in a country where medical doctors can no longer talk freely about abortion, a legal medical procedure, without fear of retribution.

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