Friday, August 20, 2004

Jane is Bi? Gone Polar too? sheez.

None of this is meant to be a critique of mental illness as a whole.

Looks like Jane Pauley has decided to come clean with her "disease": Bipolar disorder. Awesome. Looks like we got another one. Anyone else see this the same way they see ADD/ADHD/AOADD what-the-fuck-ever? A bunch of hooey? Not that there aren't any legitimate cases. The statistics are all over the board, and no one can honestly rule out the possibility that there are personality "defects" (moodiness, daredevil tendencies, suicidal thoughts, difficulty concentrating sometimes, etc) which can be measured as existing in varying degrees between humans, thereby giving way to the theory that some individuals may be "overcome" by the magnitude of their "defect" and may require treatment for it.

But come on. Let's be reasonable with how relaxed the definitions are allowed to get. A 7-year old child that cannot seem to sit still, tends to endanger themselves (maybe others), has no discernable control over their immediate mood, exhibits emotional mania, and refuses to follow directions... sounds like your garden variety 7-year old to me. They're just trying everything out, pushing boundaries, and breaking everything to figure out how it ticks. Destructive: yes. Disturbed: no. Just like puppies, it is usually the quiet and well-behaved ones that have issues (or are soon to parish). The obnoxious ones who refuse to fall in line, recognize order, or control themselves in public are the ones who survive and prosper. Seems like the use of drugs like Lithium and Prozac (most mood stabilizers, or even stimulants) are the result of parental laziness above anything else. Don't get me wrong, I'm lazy too, and I'm not even a parent. Hell, I understand. Ever try to corral a 9-year old at a busy mall, ten minutes after they inhaled a triple banana split? I wanted a tranquilizer gun, full sedation formula, hair trigger, and quick release. And a really strong net.

But that wasn't the child's fault. My desire to drug the kid into a mold that I could handle was the result of my laziness. In the face of judgment in society, I didn't want to "deal" with or be wholly responsible for a being who has no concept of:

Mortality (kids play in full dumpsters)
Social grace (kids eat their boogers at napkined restaurants)
Shame (children will pick their butts and pee themselves)
Lewd behavior(s) (all children strive to be naked in public)
Rule of law (shoplifting, reckless behavior, and arson are kid-acceptable)

So, to curtail my responsibility (and thus my risk of running into any extraneous trouble) I would consider drugging the kid into a pliable zombie. Then put them on a leash. Inside a crate. In a basement somewhere (preferably not at my crib). That way, there's no risk, and I can lazily continue to do my worthless bit of parenting with no effort whatsoever.

Ten years later, I'll be wondering why: my teenager already has kids of their own, hasn't talked to me since being paroled, and had a limb chopped off because getting their privates pierced "wouldn't make [them] feel alive enough."

Maybe it is just me, but the diagnosis of what I would hope is a very complex disorder seems to happen too often, and too quickly. I would not surprise me to learn that the pharm companies that bank on the distribution of mood enhancers, stabilizers, and stimulants back a majority of the muddled research.

To anyone who honestly believes that they have the following personality "defects", you are not alone. Here is a quick rundown of several "indicators" or "symptoms" used to mark Bipolar and/or ADHD.

1. Hyperenergetic (too much sugar)
2. Distractibility (too much sugar)
3. Grandiosity (you haven't failed enough to humble, but you will)
4. Elated Mood (everyone gets happy every now and again)
5. Daredevil Acts (risk is inherent in everything)
6. Flight of ideas (everyone has ambitions, and then thinks better of it)
7. Racing thoughts (welcome to the post-Nintendo era)
8. Hypersexuality (Procreation is our most obvious purpose in life)
9. Decreased need for sleep (common sign of aging)
10. Suicidal thoughts (everyone gets down every now and again)
11. Suicidal thoughts WITH plan (this is indicative or symptomatic of nothing other than being suicidal, if you ask me)

I hope my comments make my opinion clear, because I cannot really think of a better way to state the obvious.

So. Jane is Bipolar, according to herself and her psychiatrist. She's on Lithium now. If she was feeling bad before, and this diagnosis and subsequent treatment have made her feel better, then that is fantastic (cure by placebo is just as valid to the patient, as long as it cures). Good for her, or whoever owns that patent. But I shall remain skeptical of the hype.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

oooohhhh sharks.

By report, a 16 - 18 footer took a 50 year-old abalone diver for his head, off the coast of Cali (Mendocino). I have what would probably be seen as an unhealthy fascination with sharks. Especially the apex predators of the group (however, the Six/Seven Gills-Goblin-and Greenland sharks are all very fascinating niche predators) - the Pointer (White), Tiger, Bull, Mako, Thresher, Galapagos, Lemon, Blue, and Oceanic White Tip (Pelagics are hella tight, son!) in particular (and in that order).

This Mendocino incident could only have been the half-assed work of a curious (or confused) Pointer or Tiger. I don't believe any other shark in that region has the size necessary to decapitate a human.

Side note: the 16-18 foot size estimate comes from an "eye witness" account - this has not been expertly verified, the shark has yet to be identified, and witnesses usually have understandable difficulty in estimating the size of some underwater creature that was devouring their friend. So, for all we really know, this whole shark-attack-story is little more than a red-herring, and that Peterson fellow may have slit home-skillets throat and blamed it on a shark. But, I will plot forward with shark comments with the comforting knowledge that that dude is locked up while his P.T. Barnum-sponsored trial plays itself out like a Milli Vanilli record.

A Pointer could have done it, easy. Probability points to the Pointer. Their tendency to attack abalone fishermen is well documented. Abalone are a standard part of any healthy seal's diet, and seals are a standard part of any healthy Pointer's diet. So, any human standing between a healthy White and his healthy prey, may be in for some deep sea menacing. I would bet the guy was surfacing, knowing that the shark was in the area (curious Pointers typically pester abalone fishermen for a spell, before taking a chunk out of them. Which is why they have what are called "abalone cages", which fit like a big, reversed umpire mask-like backpack for diving fishermen to guard them from a sneaky nibble by a White from behind while the fisherman carves abalone from the sea floor) and the Pointer seized the moment to strike from below, after stalking the dude for a bit. The Pointer got his head, decided that whatever the hell kind of animal he was: was not very meaty (human skull rarely is), and turned its attention elsewhere.

Leaving the headless body for the current to dance with.

A Tiger would have returned, I believe. They have shown a tendency to do so with surfers in Hawaii (but only when the surfer stays in the water long enough). Normally, when attacking large enough prey, a shark will strike and then allow time for massive blood loss to bring the victim death. That way, there is no struggle (sharks don't have hands to hold something still while they eat it, so they really prefer it be either dead-limp. or a wholly willing meal), that way they don't lose as many teeth during the process. So, they will typically stick and move, then lurk in the vicinity, watching their victim pass, and protecting their well-earned meal from any opportunistic passers-by.

Plus, Tigers will eat anything (tires, license plates, jugs of bottled water, Louis Vitton luggage sets, etc...). So that whole body would have been gnawed on, at the very least, if not completely devoured.

Sleek and cruelly efficient creatures.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gay governor? Who the hell cares?

Gay governor in Jersey. That, to me, is absolutely awesome. The best thing about it? No one is outwardly denouncing the guy for being gay. Awesome. That tells me that our society is showing signs of honest acceptance of the fact that not everyone will fit into the hetero mold. Not that I am patting us on the back for finally recognizing the historical facts surrounding sexual preference. But, better late than never.

They are, however, denouncing the guy for being what I consider a "standard case" politician. He is a philanderer. Seriously? No. Say it ain't so! A politician? Immoral? No fucking way!

Of course he was an adulterer. I believe it stands to reason that many who get involved in politics do so because they have control issues, not because they believe that they will fight the good fight. They enjoy competition, they enjoy the squabble, they enjoy the scratch and claw of debate, they revel in the destruction of their opponent, and they typically love - above most other things - admiring their trophy cabinet. You may disagree, but I believe it would be to your detriment to ignore the simplicity of the thing. Public offices are not won by those who are most capable of doing the duties as assigned (voters rarely understand the nature of these duties anyway, so how could they judge intelligently on that basis?), they are won by those who are most capable of winning, whatever basis that may require.

That being the unfortunate state of affairs (term carefully selected), it definitely stands to reason that most public offices will be held by those most capable of winning (some exceptions and statistical outliers to this rule, I am sure). This would, more than likely, be comprised almost entirely by: Lawyers, the most successful sales people, and those born into huge sums of money and "turn-key" political connections. To expect a governing body made up of such substance to refrain from taking liberties borders on the idiotically absurd. I don't believe it fair to require the winners of such competitions (public office) be held to the same moral constraints as you and me. After all, they typically come from backgrounds where ethics and morality are only studied for purposes of "work-arounds", "loop-holes", and harness/control. Within their lines of work, morality and ethics are a severe handicap rather than a strict behavioral guideline. To ask them to suddenly change gears might be downright cruel. If you hire a wolf to guard the chicken house to protect against other wolves, then you have to hire the biggest wolf, and the biggest wolf didn't come to be the biggest by being a vegetarian. You will lose some chickens. More than likely, you will lose all your chickens. But honestly, it would be your fault for considering the problem (wolf) as a potential solution (wolf) to begin with. “We" elect them because they are winners, not because they are capable or good people. Winners take all. That includes extra-marital sexual encounters (highly coveted, even amongst the most staunch moralist), bribes, land-grabs, kick-back schemes, and every ounce of your support. All gratis.

Quick counter-point: to avoid being suckered into believing the above load of caca, push to actually educate yourself before voting. Figure out who is up for what office, what that office entails, what the proper qualities are, and what qualities the candidates have. And after any election, always continue to judge the judgment of whoever was elected (regardless of who you voted for), and if they (or their supporters) don't like it: fuck 'em. They're un-American for allowing what would be a perfect system of checks and balances to fritter away by lack of use. Questioning authority is no longer the mark of a revolutionary, it is the mark of responsibility (understanding that ultimately YOU are responsible for what your elected leaders do and do not do).
As for me? Hell, I might even vote in this upcoming election. But I won't be voting for anyone. Think about it...