Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"I am the Mona Lisa. My true identity is shrouded in mystery."

Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting speaks!
Dr Matsumi Suzuki, who generally uses his skills to help with criminal investigations, measured the face and hands of Leonardo da Vinci's famous 16th century portrait to estimate her height at 168 centimeters (5 feet, 6 inches) and create a model of her skull.

"Once we have that, we can create a voice very similar to that of the person concerned," Suzuki told Reuters in an interview at his Tokyo office last week.

"We have recreated the voices of a lot of famous people that were very close to the real thing and have been used in film dubbing."

The chart of any individual's voice, known as a voice print, is unique to that person and Suzuki says he believes he has achieved 90 percent accuracy in recreating the quality of the enigmatic woman's speaking tone.

Speaking of M.L., I've always enjoyed this song, sung by the incomparable Nat King Cole.

In the comments: I've been asked to explain my love for NKC's "Mona Lisa." I guess it's because of the haunting melody and the line "do you smile to tempt a lover, or is this your way to hide a broken heart." I've done that - smile when my heart hurt, that is. I've only had my heart broken by a woman one time, and that was in college (and, no, it wasn't by The Wife).

Something is (not) shocking in Amsterdam!

The Netherlands has probably the most liberal social policy of any country on the planet. They allow use of recreational drugs on the streets, open prostitution, and gay marriage. However, something seems to shock even the Dutch:
Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage. (Reuters)

Come, now. This really isn't shocking that this would happen, is it? I mean, I don't want to step onto a slippery slope here, but still...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

ADHD and social disinhibition

Once again I shall post another little paper for my class on diagnosing mental disorders. This one is on ADHD, a highly controversial subject to be sure.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that typically appears during the individual's early childhood years and has an enormous impact on interpersonal and social functions (Hersen & Van Hasselt 2001). Approximately 2% to 4% of children will develop symptoms of ADHD, although some estimate that it can occur from 3% to 5% of children (Goldman, Genel, Bezman & Slanetz 1998). The primary symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Although initially diagnosed in childhood and usually before age seven, individuals can continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD well into adulthood. These primary symptoms can be greatly impacted by secondary symptoms of the disorder, which may include a low tolerance for frustration and emotional lability (Hersen & Van Hasselt 2001).

One secondary symptom that can impact the individual's behavior is social disinhibition, or the inability to control oneself and act appropriately in social situations (Hersen & Van Hasselt 2001). Social disinhibition affects all three major symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. Children with ADHD may have great difficulty cooperating with the wishes of teachers or other perceived authority figures because they disregard established rules (Butcher, Mineka & Hooley 2004). Children who are able to follow class rules may react negatively and look down upon those who seem unable to keep the rules. Children with ADHD have difficulty working on school projects in groups with other children because they may talk loudly or make inappropriate comments. Teachers may have to give extra attention to these children, which may stir jealousy in other students. The child with ADHD needs near-constant reminders to stay focused and to diminish impulsive behaviors.

Gaining and maintaining friendships is a particular problem for the child with ADHD (Wodrich 2000). These children miss the normal social cues and competencies that children without a mental disorder are able to develop. These children typically fail to get along with other children who are able to focus on quite and/or time-consuming activities. The child with ADHD may speak loudly and talk incessantly or out of turn, thereby dominating conversations. "Although social immaturity is not an inherent characteristic, because of these children's inability to concentrate on social cues, it becomes increasingly problematic. The sense of social isolation often makes these children try harder, which only serves to perpetuate the problem "( Moss & Dunlap 1995, p. 24).


References

Butcher, J. N., Mineka, S., & Hooley, J. M. (2004). Abnormal Psychology (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Goldman, L.S., Genel, M., Bezman, R.J. & Slanetz, P.J. (1998). Diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. JAMA, 279(14), 1100-07.

Hersen, M. & Van Hasselt, V.B., Ed. (2001). Advanced abnormal psychology. New York: Springer.

Moss, R.A. & Dunlap, H.H. (1995). Why Johnny can't concentrate: coping with attention deficit problems. New York: Bantam.

Wodrich, D.L. (2000). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: what every parent wants to know. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

2nd season finale of "Lost"


So many things to consider now:

1. Were you as confused as I am by the last 15 minutes or so? It's nice to see that life is still going on beyond the island, but man... what's with the Portugeuse guys?

2. I guess NotHenry actually DID push the button that one time, considering what happened in the finale tonight.

3. Clair is soooooo doomed now that she and Charlie are apparently going to get cozy.

4. Are Michael and Walt going to really leave the island? Is Michael going to ask, like any normal person would, what Walt meant by "they're not who they say they are," and if he can really be at different places at night? And what exactly did The Others glean from Walt?

5. What's up with the statue and the four-toed foot?

6. Ole Smoky didn't show - I'm upset.

7. Is NotHenry "Him"?

8. When will Kate's horse reappear? How about another polar bear? And was that flying thing that croaked Hurley's name a pterodactyl, or this?

9. Need a job? Consider applying here.

10. Do you plan to add this book to your summer reading list? Maybe you should...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To: Brownie's family

Yo: to those who occasionally leave comments for me. Are you seriously kidding me with the paltry few that you leave? You totally need to write more. I'm posting good stuff here. I'm talking about Madonna and the Naked Cowboy, for heaven's sake! What more do you want? Doug Masson was kind enough to leave two comments for me in the same post - two! And he's not a blood-relative... (Thanks, Doug!)

Yo: to those who have never left comments for me. I know who you are.... I KNOW. You think you can sneak peeks in here and just leave? Ah, no.... That's right, Jessica - I'm talking to you.

Yo: to those who ain't Brownie's family. Thanks for stopping by! Please pardon my little family admonition. If you leave a comment, I promise I'll be nice. If you don't leave a comment, I'll still be nice, but I'll be a little sad.

Yo: to those who think I sound completely desperate and ridiculous. If you ask my family, they'll tell you that I'm often one or the other.

Rumble of the Godbloggers

Yo, check it. Joe has messed with a hornet's nest.

More: Oh, yes, Joe has more - and it's even more important than what he wrote the first time.

[Blank]'s faith worries [Blank]

You know whose name goes in the first [blank], right? I mean, there's almost no question as to who it is. You know it's not going to be John Kerry's name or Hillary Clinton's name or Dennis Hastert's name - heck, it's not even Tom Cruise's name. You know FOR CERTAIN that it's not going to be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name there, although that is certainly a cause for worry. You also know that even though he is reportedly a Christian, Tony Blair's name isn't going to be in there.

Okay, I'll say it. It's George W. Bush - but you knew that already. Now, the next issue is, what "faith" is being talked about here? Is it Bush's faith in the power, power, wonder-working power in the faith and goodness of the American people? No. It's the faith that always seems to be causing concern these days. I'm not talking about Islam here. I'm talking about Bush's religious faith, Christianity. Someone is worried about Bush's Christianity - how it affects him, what he thinks about it, how it guides him. You can be sure that when person A worries about person B's religious faith, and there's some article in the media about it, that faith is going to be identified as Christianity - not Islamofascism, not Scientology, and not whatever-those-Heaven's-Gate-people-actually-believed.

The second [blank] is Madeline Albright, AKA the second Secretary of State under Clinton. She's written a book, see, and it's called The Mighty and the Almighty. She's expressing her concern about Bush's Christianity. She recalls with fondness the days of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and how their personal religious views never influenced their political actions (although I believe that there are certainly arguments to be made that those two individual's religious views DID affect their political actions).

"President Bush's certitude about what he believes in, and the division between good and evil, is, I think, different," said Albright, who has just published a book on religion and world affairs. "The absolute truth is what makes Bush so worrying to some of us." (CNN)

Yes, Madame Secretary, we should all be worried about absolute truth. Our only safety is in relativism. We certainly don't want a president who identifies what is good and what is evil in this world. Better to be completely uncertain about what to do...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Martin Luther thought WHAT??

As you can probably tell, I talk a lot about pop culture 'round here. Sure, it's not the only thing I talk about and I don't obsess about it in my non-blog life, but I do try to keep up. I have gotten better, though - I used to slavishly read Entertainment Weekly, but I dropped my subscription a year ago and I haven't really missed it like I thought I would.

However, I do stop by the EW website from time to time. I was greatly interested in their review of the movie that was #1 this past weekend. The review is here and it contains this interesting line: "Yes, a soup├žon of research reveals that the Priory of Sion is a hoax invented in 1956, and surely it can't be proved that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were ever intimate (though Martin Luther believed so)."

Yes, my jaw dropped when I read that line. Huh?!? Luther believed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were "intimate?" I had never heard of that! How could I have missed hearing that from my profs in my college Bible courses?

Well, I had never heard of that in my church history courses because Luther didn't believe that. I'll let Mollie explain.

Pick's on the brain


Once again I shall post another of my little papers for my class on diagnosing mental disorders. This one's on Pick's disease.


Pick’s disease accounts for 5 per cent of all the dementias, is more common in women than men, and is generally diagnosed when the person is between ages 40 and 60 (Kemp and Rosellini 2004). The shrinkage of brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes, and the presence of brain cell abnormalities (Pick’s bodies), generally confirm the diagnosis of Pick’s disease. Pick’s disease, the cause of which is unknown, generally progresses at a slow rate and is irreversible. Pick’s disease is sometimes known as primary progressive aphasia, or frontotemporal dementia (Sheth 2005).

It differs from Alzheimer’s disease in that it only affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, and Alzheimer’s can affect any area (Sheth 2005). Another noticeable difference from Alzheimer’s disease is that while Alzheimer’s primarily affects memory, Pick’s disease appears to affects an individual’s personality. A person who is normally extraverted may become withdrawn, and vice versa (Kemp and Rosellini 2004). Just as someone who is intoxicated may lose his or her inhibitions, someone with Pick’s disease may become rude, make inappropriate comments, or become sexually uninhibited (this is not to say that a person with Pick’s disease acts as if drunk, although he or she may increase alcohol intake; this is only to say that the person can lose inhibitions). The person also experiences abrupt mood changes, difficulties with maintaining attention span, and language problems (e.g., echolalia, mutism, aphasia).

A CAT-scan or MRI may be helpful in diagnosing Pick’s disease (Butcher et al 2004). However, there appears to be at this time no known cure. Speech and occupational therapists may help with some of the symptoms, but there is nothing to address the total aspect of the disease (Kemp and Rosellini 2004). Behavior modification may help with some behaviors, but formal therapy sessions may not show improvement. Much like the person with Alzheimer’s disease, the person with Pick’s may digress to the point where 24-hour care is required.


References

Butcher, J., Mineka, S. & Hooley, J. (2004). Abnormal Psychology (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Kemp, Gina and Rosellini, Cara. (2004). Pick’s Disease: Symptoms and Prognosis. Retrieved on May 22, 2006, from http://www.helpguide.org/elder/picks_disease.htm

Sheth, Keith. (2005). Pick’s Disease. Retrieved on May 22, 2006, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000744.htm

It's almost here....


The season finale of Lost.

Will you watch?

I'm personally hoping that (1) the Smoke Monster makes an appearance and (2) he discusses all the reasons why Chris Daughtry should have been up against Taylor in the finals.


Addition: I just got off the phone with ole Smokey, and he, like, totally thinks that Taylor has it in the bag.

Sports, Greeks, and hazing on the university campus

Hugo Schwyzer is a history and gender studies professor at the Pasadena City College in California. He also has a blog, of which I have a link - just look for his name to the right and *click*. He certainly appears to be on the more liberal side of the Christianity spectrum, but that doesn't mean he never says anything worth saying.

Although I don't consider myself a feminist in the strict sense of the word, Hugo's thoughts here are well worth being read, especially if any of you out there have a student in college who's into either sports or Greek life or both.

A taste:
I think initiation rituals can be very valuable. Requiring frosh or rookies to go through a series of steps before they are accepted as full-fledged members of the team is healthy. It is axiomatic that to suffer together is one way to build community. But not all suffering is the same. Forcing the frosh to run extra laps or do extra push-ups or go through a weekend of brutal fitness camp can build community and fellowship just fine — all without a drop of alcohol and without a single lap dance. Requiring frosh to put on silly skits that don’t involve vulgar humor, nudity, or intoxication (or asking them to memorize all the verses of an ancient school fight song) can have a similar bonding effect. The problem is not with the nature of sports teams/fraternities/sororities, or with initiation rituals — the problem is with a culture that connects that valuable process of initiation to ritualized sexual degradation and binge drinking.

Madonna on the cross (?)


The pop singer can't seem to stray very far from it, can she? Controversy, I mean. Her latest foray into controversial territory is her decision to perform her song "Live to Tell" (which is actually one of her best tunes) while suspended from a cross formed by giant mirrors - she does this on her current world tour, which is called Confessions (I admit it has a Christian ring to it, but it's actually taken from her recent album Confessions on a Dance Floor).

Madonna has a long history of actions that raised eyebrows: she performed "Like A Virgin" at the first MTV Music Awards while writhing on the floor and wearing what appeared to be a wedding dress; she had romances with Sean Penn (a marriage, even), JFK Jr., and Dennis Rodman; she wrote a sexually explicit book that was titled, cleverly enough, Sex; she was the title character of the psychodramatic film Evita; she wrote children's books that were filled with Kabbalah teachings; she kissed both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera during a performance.... I could go on and on if I had the time.

The question is, is she doing this as open mockery, and not just to Christianity as a religion but to Jesus Christ as a Person? I'm questioning her intentions behind her actions here. Or, is this just another stunt in her very long list of controversial behaviors, done just so that people would talk about her? Either way, it's putting it mildly to say that it's in very poor taste.

(H/T: Drudge Report)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Oh, my..... STOP THE PRESSES!

Dr. Al Mohler (who really couldn't possibly be more conservatively Christian) actually agrees on something with Bishop John Shelby Spong (who really couldn't possibly be more liberally Christian) - read about it here.

It brings to mind Pontius Pilate's ages-old question - "What is truth?"

Montenegro to Serbia: "I DO wish to quit you!"

Okay, that was a bad allusion to the most famous line from this movie. But, it is historical to note that Yugoslavia, a previous host of the Olympic games and the country from which this car came, is now truly dead.

Ouch! That smarts!

Dan Edelen over at Cerulean Sanctum has some convicting words to say about the "heresy watchbloggers." Very well written - check it here.

I had some frustrating experiences with one blog of note. I commented on several posts there, but they were never accepted in the meta. Probably not accepted because my comments were not in agreement with the person's posts, but I was certainly not disrespectful towards them. Going through the meta of most posts, I saw very little disagreement with what was being said. It's one thing to monitor comments for language-control purposes (e.g., blocking out curse words or slanderous statements), but it's quite another to only disallow comments just because the person disagrees with you.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"The Da Vinci Code"

Even though critics at the Cannes Film Festival grew restless while watching it (more about that here), "The Da Vinci Code" will be #1 this weekend at the box office, though its difficult to tell how much money it will make. "Mission: Impossible III" made some good numbers two weeks ago, but didn't do as well as expected. Will "TDVC" be the same way? That remains to be seen.

I have two books by Dan Brown on my bookshelf: the one on which the movie is based, and Angels & Demons. A&D features the first literary appearance of Robert Langdon, the "hero" of TDVC, and has a similar style to its more famous sibling: small chapters (most have a cliffhanger-type ending) and conspiracy theories surrounding the Catholic Church.

Many people are blogging about this movie, but you really only need to look at one blog to get a Christian perspective on the controversy - this one. Also, this article and the links that follow in the online Christianity Today will give you even more info.

Addition: Hmmm.... I don't think I can like Gandalf as much after reading this.

Addition 2: My friend Brian, whose piano playing I sorely miss, has some good points here.

Mark, although using some different words, essentially says the same thing as Brian.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me....

Big news in the music world: Paul and Heather appear to be splitting up.

For the record, Sir Paul is 63, which means he is not yet 64.

The statement:
"Having tried exceptionally hard to make our relationship work given the daily pressures surrounding us, it is with sadness that we have decided to go our separate ways.

"Our parting is amicable and both of us still care about each other very much but have found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives, and we have actively tried to protect the privacy of our child.

"Separation for any couple is difficult enough, but to have to go through this so publicly, especially with a small daughter, is immensely stressful.

"We hope, for the sake of our baby daughter, that we will be given some space and time to get through this difficult period."

Did he really expect something else?

Dr. James Dobson is upset. I realize that he is upset a lot these days, especially when we have award-winning films about gay male lovers being released in the theaters and on DVD. But at this moment, he's not particularly upset about that. He's not upset about the plight of homeless people, or about the situation in Darfur, or about the immigration issue.

Dobson is upset with the Republican politicians, including the president, because they're not doing what he thinks they should do.
"I can't tell you how much anger there is at the Republican leadership," Mr. [Richard] Viguerie [a conservative direct-mail pioner] said. "I have never seen anything like it."

In the last several weeks, Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential Christian conservatives, has publicly accused Republican leaders of betraying the social conservatives who helped elect them in 2004. He has also warned in private meetings with about a dozen of the top Republicans in Washington that he may turn critic this fall unless the party delivers on conservative goals.

And at a meeting in Northern Virginia this weekend of the Council for National Policy, an alliance of the most prominent Christian conservatives, several participants said sentiment toward the White House and Republicans in Congress had deteriorated sharply since the 2004 elections. (NY Times)

Oh. My. Gravy. How absolutely shocking. Politicians not doing what we think should be done. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

See, this is what happens we put too much faith in politicans to do something which we believe will further God's Kingdom. We will be ultimately dissappointed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"I made up some sneaky ways of wiping my nose without making it look like I was wiping my nose."


Allergies can be so terrible... and embarrassing. Aryeh Friedman, a real estate lender, describes how he handles allergies: "... making a fake cough as an excuse to get your hand up toward your nose a little bit, or leaning down to fix your shoe and turning your head to wipe."

Hay fever can be a special problem.
A hay fever sufferer, Steven McBride, owner of VisualMax, an interactive marketing company, found himself lost and "winging it" during a conference call with a client. "I was bridging over from Allegra to Zyrtec because the Allegra wasn't working," Mr. McBride said. "I was also taking Sudafed for nasal decongestion. It's a mixture that doesn't let you sleep well and cuts into concentration."

Don't you feel embarrassed for the poor woman in the picture? For her sneezing, I mean, not for her unfortunate hairdo.

Steve Taylor got it right


It seems that so many churches today will do almost anything to attract people to their church. The church leadership must believe that the Gospel plus some form of entertainment is the only way to pack the pews. They seem not to consider that the Gospel is powerful in itself - powerful enough to convict the sinner and call humanity to repentance. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Steve Taylor has always been one of my favorite musicians, Christian or otherwise. I believe that a great many of his songs on the church (and the world's occasional impact upon it) are very perceptive. One of my favorite Taylor songs is "This Disco (Used to be a Cute Cathedral)," which seems to speak directly to these types of churches. Here are the lyrics, originally performed on the album On the Fritz.


Sunday needs a pick-me-up?
here's your chance
do you get tired of the same old square dance?
allemande right now
all join hands
do-si-do to the promised boogieland
got no need for altar calls
sold the altar for the mirror balls
do you shuffle? do you twist?
'cause with a hot hits playlist, now we say

chorus 1: This disco used to be a cute cathedral
where the chosen cha-cha every day of the year
this disco used to be a cute cathedral
where we only play the stuff you're wanting to hear

Mickey does the two-step
One, Two, Swing
all the little church mice doing their thing
boppin' in the belltower
rumba to the right
knock, knock
who's there?
get me outta this limelight
so, you want to defect?
officer, what did you expect?
got no rhythm, got no dough
he said, "Listen, Bozo, don't you know"

chorus 2: This disco used to be a cute cathedral
where the chosen cha-cha every day of the week
this disco used to be a cute cathedral
but we got no room if you ain't gonna be chic

Sell your holy habitats
this ship's been deserted by sinking rats
the exclusive place to go
it's where the pious pogo
don't you know

Update: iMonk asks, How far is too far in using creative methods to “reach” people?

Monday, May 15, 2006

To the family members in pain

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 (KJV)


You will be thought of and prayed for through this difficult time. Know that you are not alone.

"My day is filled with being the Naked Cowboy, working out, eating -- but mainly reading."

Who knew that the Robert Burck, a.k.a. the Naked Cowboy, was a prolific reader? He even reads Kant! You can read about the N.C.'s reading habits here. I wonder if he's read Beloved - it's the best American novel of the past 25 years, you know.

By the by, Burck isn't actually naked when he walks around New York City with his guitar, boots, and cowboy hat. If he did walk around naked, he'd be arrested for public indecency. He wears a thicker version of the classic white brief, which is basically what many wrestlers on WWE wear (albeit in various colors); also, it's really no different than competitive swimmers walking around in Speedos. The N.C. strums on his guitar while walking around Times Square, and people pay to pose with him for pictures. He has a website, I believe - no, I'm not going to offer a link (there is no actual nudity on the site, but there are many photos of Burck in his underwear).

Why in the world is Brownie even posting about this guy? Well, one more interesting thing about Burck is that on his right arm, he has a tattoo of a head that appears to be Jesus. I don't know if this is some form of spiritual statement on Burck's part or not, but I don't believe it to be very Christ-like to walk around in public wearing only underwear, a hat, and some boots.

"He is necessary for my mental health."

Health care professionals have recommended animals for psychological or emotional support for more than two decades, based on research showing many benefits, including longer lives and less stress for pet owners.

But recently a number of New York restaurateurs have noticed a surge in the number of diners seeking to bring dogs inside for emotional support, where previously restaurants had accommodated only dogs for the blind.

"I had never heard of emotional support animals before," said Steve Hanson, an owner of 12 restaurants including Blue Fin and Blue Water Grill in Manhattan. "And now all of a sudden in the last several months, we're hearing this."

The increasing appearance of pets whose owners say they are needed for emotional support in restaurants — as well as on airplanes, in offices and even in health spas — goes back, according to those who train such animals, to a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation. It clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness. (NY Times)


As I have written before, I work as a crisis therapist for a hospital in Indianapolis. Only once, since I have worked at the hospital, has someone come and sought admission while having her emotional-needs dog in tote. The doctor denied the admission because the person said she didn't want admission if the dog couldn't be with her.

The article mentions that American and Delta airlines have allowed "emotional support goats" on flights. Sure, people can easily form attachments to dogs and cats, but how does someone form such a strong emotional attachment to a goat that he believes he can't go anywhere without? And, what if that goat reacts negatively to strangers, which it would surely run into if the owner believes he must take the goat everywhere he goes?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Paxil and suicide

If you or someone you love takes Paxil, you may want to read this, especially if the Paxil-taker is under 30.
A recent analysis of clinical trial data on nearly 15,000 patients treated with both Paxil and dummy pills revealed a higher frequency of suicidal behavior in young adults treated with the drug, according to the letter.

The FDA reported that there were 11 suicide attempts -- none resulting in death -- among the patients who received Paxil in the trials. Just one of the dummy pill patients attempted suicide.

Given that small number, the results "should be interpreted with caution," the FDA said. Eight of the 11 attempts were made by patients between the ages of 18 and 30. All trial patients suffered from psychiatric disorders, including major depression.

Just so you know, all antidepressants carry a warning label about suicide.

Best work of American fiction of the last 25 years

Check the list here. Have you read any?

The top book, Beloved, is by Oprah's favorite author, Toni Morrison. Oprah even produced and appeared in the film adaptation of the book; the film did not meet with any great commercial (or critical) success.

The only one I've read is The Plot Against America. I own but haven't yet read The Known World.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Do you spank your child as a means of discipline?

Jason Robertson has found a better way.

"...[they're] loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco"

This sounds rather inflammatory, doesn't it? I'm sure you think that this quote was said by some intolerant, bigoted fundamentalist Christian about the homosexual/bisexual/transgendered population of San Francisco. Right? I mean, only Christians would be so mean-spirited as to say something as obviously hateful as this.

Wrong. This was said by Democratic Assemblymen Mark Leno, and he was talking about young Christians who were assembling in San Francisco for a rally. Yes, that's right - a person who supposedly favors tolerance as the new virtue was caught saying something that sounds extremely intolerant. I mean, it doesn't get much more intolerant than to tell someone they should "get out," does it? Read about it here. This is old news (the rally was held in March), but it's still important to know.

More from: Ordinary Everyday Christian, Right on the Left Coast, Weinkopf

(h/t: Christianity Today)

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

a new, improved TTLB

If you have a blog, then you really should check out this site. N.Z. Bear has updated and improved his site.

If you have a blog and you haven't joined, do so today. And remember, a little link-love goes a long way. The more links you have, the higher your number in the ecosystem.

Discerning Reader

Tim Challies, who some call "the world's most famous Christian blogger," has a new site - www.discerningreader.com. Tim is quite the reader and has reviewed many books - his reviews, which are mostly of works by Christian authors, will be featured on the site.

Tim's wife recently gave birth to their 3rd child - a daughter. Congratulations, Tim - get used to pink dresses and dolls around the house!

An aside: I finally write something that Challies links to, and I get no noticeable bump in hits. What does a fella have to do to get a little bloggy lovin' these days? Man, you'd think some notice by Challies and Centuri0n would get me somewhere. Ah, well.

At least Pastor Mark has linked to me several times - he knows how to give some link-love! I have to admit I'm a little jealous of him though - he's got a link from this big-time blogger.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Congrats to Lucie Mays-Sulewski

She won today at the Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. And she's from Westfield, where I live. Represent!

I am alone. I am *completely* alone.

Once again, I found myself living temporarily (thank goodness!) as a bachelor. The Wife has gone down to Tampa for her job this weekend, and the girls are with my mother-in-law until I get them tomorrow afternoon. I have been alone in my house since Thursday afternoon.

It's not been all fun and games. I've worked extra shifts at the hospital, both yesterday and today. I'm completing my project on schizophrenia for my licensure class. I have to mow the grass tonight, or else the neighbors will surely knock on my door and demand that I do so. I did pick up Capote and Flightplan from the neighborhood Blockbuster, so I may blog about those movies if I find time to watch them.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Terminator 4: the rise of the uninsured

The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage, a study released on Wednesday found.

Moreover, more than half of the uninsured adults said they were having problems paying their medical bills or had incurred debt to cover their expenses, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private, health care policy foundation. The study of 4,350 adults also found that people without insurance were more likely to forgo recommended health screenings such as mammograms than those with coverage, and were less likely to have a regular doctor than their insured counterparts.

The report paints a bleak health care picture for the uninsured. "It represents an explosion of the insurance crisis into those with moderate incomes," said Sara Collins, a senior program officer at the Commonwealth Fund. (Associated Press)

We seem to have a growing medical crisis on our hands, with the rise of people with no insurance and the amount of people having problems with the Medicare/Medicaid system (I linked to another news article and commented about it here on how this affects those with mental illness).

Thursday, May 4, 2006

original "Star Wars" films to be released on DVD

George Lucas is only doing this for the money, right? For years he had said that he would only have has improved vision of the films on DVD. Now, he plans to release the films as they were seen in the theaters in 1977 and 1980 and 1983. They will be available on September 12.

I'm a big fan of the saga - I'm not as obsessive as others are, but still, my wife will tell you that I enjoy the series. I haven't decided yet whether I will get the original films, but probably not at this point.

UPDATE: Lucas is a real trooper.

University presidents & blogging

Do you know of any college/university presidents that are blogging currently? I only know of two - Bill Brown of Cedarville University (my alma mater!) and Al Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both are on my blogroll to the right, so you can look for the links there. There's a nice little article on Brown's blog in the Dayton Daily News.

Do you know of any state or non-religious private university presidents who blog? I haven't heard of any.

Just so you know: Although I have an uncle named William Brown, he's not the same person as Dr. Bill Brown.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

"I'm sorry..." BANG!

Did you see it coming? I must confess, I did not. The episode does give a convincing argument for gun control, does it not? Maybe Sawyer SHOULD keep all the guns hidden.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it will take too long to explain it.

The People Who Shape Our World (?)

The current issue of Time lists 100 men and women "whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world." These are the people whom the writers and editors of one of the three major news magazines (Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report being the other two) believe are the mover and shakers of Earth.

The most interesting picks come from the Artists & Entertainers section, which in itself seems to be growing more enormous and diverse even as I type these words. Practically anything these days can come in the form of entertainment. Even the simple idea of inviting friends over for the evening and serving them dinner is seen as entertaining (I know that I step into Andy Rooney territory when I ask, "Why is that?"). When our children say they are bored, we encourage them to find ways to entertain themselves. A few of the people in this section are J.J. Abrams, Tyra Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachael Ray, and Howard Stern.
I'm not sure how the list is organized in the magazine, but on the Time website, the Artists & Entertainers are placed on the top of the list. At first glance it is assumed that this is an alphabetical choice, but this is not the case. Builders & Titans are at the bottom of the list; just above them are the Heroes & Pioneers. The Time readers (or at least those who visit the website) are led to believe that Time places the highest value upon those that can entertain us. Out of twenty-five Artists & Entertainers, eighteen are American-born.

If you take a closer look at the other groups, you will find that even they are infiltrated by entertainers. Oprah (her last name is given on the website, but when she has a magazine called O and everyone knows that its hers, does she really need a surname anymore?) shows up in Leaders & Revolutionaries. Bono, Angelina Jolie, and Paul Simon are featured in Heroes & Pioneers; Katie Couric is also in this section, and she can certainly be counted as a celebrity if not quite an entertainer.

Clearly, Time thinks that entertainers are the most powerful, "transforming" force on earth. If they are, what does that say about the world we live in?

UPDATE: Tim Challies has more on the list (go here). [Welcome, Challies readers!]

Monday, May 1, 2006

good photos

I greatly enjoy my nephew's photography, but Joe Thorn just might give Dusty a run for his money. :)

Curt Weldon: paranoid ???

I work as a crisis therapist in an Indianapolis hospital. Most of the clients I see struggle with suicidal thoughts, but I occasionally see people who suffer from hallucinations and/or delusions. Delusions are false beliefs; an example is someone believing that the government is out to get them. Representative Curt Weldon of PA-7 seems to fit the criteria of someone who is experiencing delusions.
Veteran Rep. Curt Weldon has a proclivity for calling out shady government doings that have him in mind as a principal target. A year ago, for example, after the No. 2 Republican on the House Armed Services Committee published “Countdown to Terror,” a frontal assault on the CIA’s track record before Sept. 11, he claimed that Clinton administration veterans with ties to the agency were out to get him.

So it’s not surprising that as Weldon girds for the most difficult re-election bid during his two decades representing the Philadelphia suburbs, his campaign is alleging that the CIA is probably abetting the opposition. Last month, his campaign manager Michael Puppio Jr. announced that Weldon’s expected Democratic opponent, Joe Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral, had taken campaign contributions from Mary McCarthy, the CIA operative recently fired for allegedly leaking secret information to the media. McCarthy, who was specifically accused of being a source for The Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story on secret CIA prisons overseas, has denied that charge through her lawyer. (Congressional Quarterly)