New: Dispatches From The Edge: Arms, China & the Obama Administration

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday September 22, 2011 - 12:43:00 PM

The recent decision by the Obama Administration to sell $5.8 billion in arms to Taiwan is a bit of a head scratcher, rather like the hunter who goes into the woods with one bullet. Seeing a deer to his left and a turkey to his right, he shoots in the middle. It will annoy Taipei, irritate Beijing, stir up the China bashers in the U.S., and increase tensions in a region of the world that is already pretty tense. -more-

New: Laura's Law in a Nutshell

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday September 22, 2011 - 02:36:00 PM

Laura Wilcox, a 19-year old sophomore from Haverford College, was working at Nevada County's public mental health clinic during her winter break from college. On January 10, 2001, she and two other people were shot to death by Scott Harlan Thorpe, a 41-year old mental patient who resisted his family's attempt to seek treatment. Thorpe was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Atascadero State Hospital and was later transferred to California's Napa State Hospital. -more-

Senior Power… The Only Disease

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday September 22, 2011 - 11:43:00 AM

Alzheimer’s disease (AD,) the only disease among the top 10 causes of death for Americans that has no known cure or treatment, already affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans, at a cost of $183 billion a year. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Thursday September 22, 2011 - 11:49:00 AM

The works of a man, bury them under what guano-mountains and obscene owl-droppings you will, do not perish, cannot perish. What of Heroism, what of Eternal Light was in a man and his Life, is with very great exactness added to the Eternities, remains forever a new divine portion of the Sum of Things.

—Thomas Carlyle (1795—1881), prolific essayist, satirist, historian -more-

New: On Mental Illness: Something for Nothing

By Jack Bragen
Thursday September 22, 2011 - 10:53:00 AM

I spent most of my life with my mind dominated by magical thinking, and this caused me to have a lot of problems. My mind seemed to be on a different wavelength than those of other people’s. Without knowing it, I had a poor grasp of reality. When I made mistakes, ones that could create bad consequences, my mind didn’t acknowledge those mistakes. The rule was that my mind had to believe that everything was always O.K., and my perceptions of the world were warped to conform to that. Partly, I lived in a world of wishful thinking. Also, I was protecting my mind from the often upsetting nature of the truth. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Post-Communist Birds

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday September 21, 2011 - 03:07:00 PM
Eurasian Jay in Berlin: a post-Cold War winner.

Earlier this year I reported on a study out of Finland that contended that, in Europe at least, passerine (songbird) species with relatively larger brains made out better in urban areas than did smaller-brained species. Winners included corvids (crows and magpies), tits (relatives of the North American chickadees), nuthatches, and wrens. Buntings, Old World warblers, and Old Word flycatchers were among the small-brained city avoiders. -more-

The Public Eye: Job Wars: Republicans Strike Back

By Bob Burnett
Monday September 19, 2011 - 09:14:00 AM

One week after President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and proposed the American Jobs Act, House Speaker John Boehner responded for the Republicans. Not with a plan to address the US jobs’ crisis, but with conservative talking points that indicate how difficult it will be to pass meaningful legislation.

The Problem: The two Parties disagree on the origin of the crisis. In his September 8th address Obama indicated the crisis resulted from erosion of America’s social compact: “[belief] in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share -- where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits.”

In contrast, in his September 15th response Speaker Boehner blamed the Federal government, “there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the economy that leads to a lot of bad decisions in Washington, D.C.” “Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been… slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation.” “Job creators in America are essentially on strike.”

Neither side admitted the real problem, the American economy is broken. A healthy economy depends upon steady consumption by working Americans. But starting with Ronald Reagan, Republican ideologues have assumed that rich folks buying yachts and vacation homes would catalyze the consumer economy. This didn’t happened. In 2011 average Americans aren’t consuming because they either don’t have the money or are saving it because they are fearful. Republican dogma fractured the US economy and caused massive unemployment. -more-

Senior Power… Where's the Lavender Soap?

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday September 19, 2011 - 08:56:00 AM

Nearly two-thirds of Americans age 70+ have hearing loss. According to a study led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers, persons of the black race seem to have a protective effect against this loss. And older or male subjects were more likely to have hearing loss or more severe hearing loss than younger or female subjects. It is believed to be the first nationally representative survey of older adults on this often ignored and under-reported condition. Past studies have strongly linked hearing loss to such other health problems as cognitive decline, dementia, and poorer physical function. . Relatively little is known about risk factors that drive hearing loss. [Feb. 28, 2011 Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences] -more-

On Mental Illness: Permission to Be Happy

By Jack Bragen
Saturday September 17, 2011 - 10:01:00 AM

The truism: “life is what happens while you’re waiting,” is very applicable to people who are struggling to recover from mental illness. Frequently, people are unhappy because they believe they should not be happy. A lot of people believe that before they can be happy they need to fix their perceived adverse life circumstances. This is not always true. This partial erroneous belief is present in the minds of people at large and not just those who have a mental illness. Abe Lincoln said: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” -more-