Thursday, March 31, 2011

IMPATIENT: Just give me the stethoscope, and get out of here

Since you're all so busy
I'll take care of MYSELF!

  (March 31, 2013) Under today's greed-driven, production-line health-care system, doctors apparently don't have time to take care of patients properly. I have the time, and I have the Internet. I want to be the Doctor In Charge of Me. If I screw up, that's my problem. But I really think things are already about as screwed up as they can get.    
    Medical care has become a numbingly impersonal, sloppily organized, hugely bureaucratized, scarily negligent, and thoroughly exhausting process.
    I understand that most people are too busy to take charge of their own care, and the majority wouldn't want to, anyway. But I am tired of feeling like a slab of diseased meat on a factory-farm conveyor belt. I want to be cured --  at least as cured as cured meat! -- and I want the right to do it my way.

I'm not hungry -- I'm starving

Un ejemplo de anorexia

   I have recently felt myself to be in danger of slipping back under the incredibly seductive spell  of anorexia. The secretive thrill of seeing how well you can starve yourself has my heart pounding almost constantly.
    By coincidence, there was an article in the New York Times Tuesday about the epidemic among older women of eating disorders, which have generally been associated with girls in their teens and early twenties. For some in the 60-plus crowd, it is a new phenomenon. For others, it is the resurgence of an obsession with food from their younger years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

University Health Care is infected again with false pride

   University of Utah Health Care is once again revealing its unhealthy need for recognition and status that it hasn't earned. These people have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder that is manifested by manic braggadocio.
   Will somebody please grab a hypodermic and fill it with some dignity and integrity?? They could use a big shot of it.
   As we reported in February, the U. finessed its way to being named the Number One academic medical center in the country by essentially reverse-engineering a top-secret ranking algorithm, so it could focus on those criteria that were going to be measured. It was a brilliant strategy, but ethically dubious.
   Now it is claiming that it has been named first among the region's health care providers by U.S. News & World Report
   That isn't true. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who's Got Your Back?

    Tens of thousands of people are induced, one way or another, to donate their bodies "to science" each year. Those who sign up probably don't realize that their bodies will not be reposing comfortably and rather gracefully on a table, while the medical professionals of the future look on with quiet awe. Not by a long shot! Their bodies will be expertly butchered , as per customers' needs -- for various joints, limbs, organs, etc. -- then shrink-wrapped and shipped off on ice, like specialty cuts of meat. And it is very expensive meat, indeed.
   The demand for "human cadaveric material" has exploded, and, naturally, money-hungry entrepreneurs have rushed in to satisfy the need. They are all over the Internet, luring potential donors with soothing and uplifting words about the "priceless gift to mankind" that their donation would represent.
    Who's got your back if you make this selfless donation? Who is there to make certain that you are fully informed about how your body will be used? Who is there to ensure that the use of your remains is within legal parameters, including the prohibition against selling human cadavers, in whole or in part?
    Basically no one. As one body broker put it, "It's the Wild West out here."  
     Read more about it behind the "Busy Bodies" tab above.

Would someone please tell Suze Orman to shut the f**k up?


   Suze Orman's grand roll-out of "urgent changes" we need to make in our financial priorities is way, way too late. 
    The "New Reality" she's suddenly discovered has been my mother's reality for 92 years, and the reality of millions of others of her generation. It is the reality of cheerful thrift and charming modesty. It is the reality of living within your means, saving for the future, and shunning excess and extravagance. It is the reality of comporting oneself with dignity and class, not flaunting your gold-encrusted net worth. It is not "keeping up with the Joneses" -- it is keeping your eyes on the real prize: an emotionally and intellectually satisfying life.
    Orman has written about "The Courage to be Rich." It really doesn't take courage, Suze. It just takes blind ambition and questionable priorities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your crime: dementia. Your sentence: solitary confinement

This should be our next civil-rights battleground
Don't feel bad. He doesn't even know he exists.
    Do you ever envision yourself as old and alone? Can you imagine that you -- that active, attractive, sociable you -- might someday essentially be a prisoner in an institution that runs your life? And that nobody will care -- you will be forgotten?
    Maybe your memory and your volition will have deteriorated, but you will still be you. No one seems to realize that. Each day at the nursing home, you get washed off, spoon fed, strapped into a wheelchair, and abandoned in your darkened room. Deeper and deeper you sink, into inconsequentiality.
    You grow pale and gaunt. Your eyes are increasingly haunted. You will be here until you die. Someone needs to be shouting: "WAIT A MINUTE ! THERE'S A PERSON HERE!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dreama wants your body

   She really, really does. Not right this minute, though -- she isn't that kind of girl. 
    The totally dreamy Dreama wants your body, but not until you're dead.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

As a whole, they're doing fine

     But they won't be whole for long. These donated bodies will be dismembered piece by piece as  medical students learn what is appropriately referred to as "gross anatomy.'
   "The body is destroyed once the year is over," a Northwestern University medical student says. "There's nothing left."
    He won't be donating his body to science, and he doesn't want his mother to, either.
    On a rational level, this humane gesture makes perfect sense. But very few people -- a small fraction of one percent -- actually go through with it.
    My father did, and I regret it. The story is above, behind the tab, "Daddy." 
    In an upcoming post, I'll explore the sordid, multimillion-dollar marketplace for body parts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obit site's CEO claims heavenly motives


We received a cordial email last night from the CEO of, the online obituary site that is affiliated with 124 of the country's 150 largest newspapers. It features obituaries and Guest Books for more than two-thirds of people who die in the United States. In total, it services 800 newspapers in North America, Europe and Australia.
    As our previous posts have noted, Legacy not only charges you for access to the obituaries you have written and paid handsomely to have published. It also -- without your knowledge or consent -- claims a sweeping array of rights with respect to your intellectual property and to details about your family. Its business model, plain and simple, is to make money from the writing, the stories and the grief of millions of people while giving NOTHING in return.
    Judging from the email sent by Legacy's CEO, Stopher Bartol, either he is stupid or he thinks that we are.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Large panel of experts calls Dr. Oz's "miracles" bogus, a new study concludes

The show is all about him, and his disrespect for his audience..
    (12/20/2014) Nearly three years ago, I posted a 30,000-word expose of The Dr. Oz Show (Oz1, Oz2, and Oz3, behind the tabs above). These articles, plus those titled "Saving Face: Dr. Oz escorts us into a wrinkle-free world," and "Is there a Dr. Oz in the house? Millions of 'large ladies' eat up his miracles" have attracted tens of thousands of readers, and are still going as strong as ever.
    Now my assertions about the absurdity and fraudulence of his claims has been proven by a large group of physicians, pharmacists and other researchers from Canada, who have written in the prestigious British Medical Journal that The expert researchers were able to find "only 11 percent of the recommendations made on the show could be backed by "somewhat believable"evidence. 
     "Nearly 4 in 10 of the assertions made on the hit show appear to be made on the basis of no evidence at all," they add. In other words: He just makes things up, for your amusement and his financial health. As I have written, he has sent his huge audience of trusting women on countless scavenger hunts to buy up his latest "game changing," "astonishing," and "miraculous" products before they disappear from store shelves, which they always do. Even so, viewers remain fat, wrinkled and exhausted as ever. His "tricks" and "cheats," and his exotic potions, lotions, teas and rain forest discoveries are generally worthless.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Saint Joseph's Day, My Saintly Joe

Guido Reni 042.jpg
   The first time I saw Joe Costanzo, more than 30 years ago, I had no idea that his Italian immigrant parents had named him after a saint, but what I saw in his face was a serene glow of saintliness, and that is truly the word that entered my mind that day. What I have experienced ever since has reaffirmed that perception time and time again. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reclaiming Our Legacies: a progress report

    Thanks to those of you who have offered financial support for our legal challenge of the "terms of use" agreement imposed by, the online site that handles obituaries for the vast majority of U.S. newspapers. I will be happy to contribute the relatively modest fees needed to proceed, and we have found a lawyer who is excited to be involved. He will represent us on a pro bono basis. He retired just a few months ago from a New York firm, where his primary focus was estate law, but doing First Amendment and intellectual property law is what launched his career, and he said he is "psyched" at the prospect

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Muscle Your Way Into Lifelong Brain Health

Move over, Mr. Tiny Pants!
     (5/17/12) Let's all drag out our inner Schwarzeneggers and say to ourselves, affectionately but sternly:
"I am going to pump you up!"    
     Weight training doesn't just give you a toned, shapely body. It also offers powerful protection against Alzheimer's, according to a new study.
     The recently released MRI evidence is too dazzling to ignore: Strength training vividly lights up areas of the brain responsible for problem-solving, decision-making and memory. It can can prevent or delay cognitive decline, and even reverse it. Plus: You'll feel like Wonder Woman!

NPR's purple prose shows little mettle


   Wow, NPR reporters finally did some investigative reporting this morning! They had to have someone to hold their hand, though, so the excellent ProPublica team was brought in to help uncover a TERRIBLE SCANDAL: Some soldiers who get concussions are not receiving Purple Hearts. 
   Surely NPR could have found an injustice somewhere in the world -- and probably in any American city -- that is more worthy of what little investigative energy it has.
   More than 45,000 Purple Hearts have been hauled out

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

The question is: Can a once-obscure hormone, synthesized and squirted up my nose, make me a more loving, generous and trusting person? Or will it just make me lactate? I'll keep you posted as the possibly disastrous, possibly hilarious Oxytocin Chronicles unfold.

   Several years ago, I was watching one of those wonderful "Nature" programs on PBS. This one was about elephants, which I have come to regard as some of the most poignant animals on Earth, although I have become quite emotionally attached to most animals, thanks to public broadcasting.
   An elephant was giving birth, and as the big little baby came slopping out of her massive behind, she turned her head to see what she had wrought. It was at this moment, the narrator said, that a hormone called oxytocin flooded the mother's bloodstream, and forged in her a strong maternal bond with her perky, adorably clumsy newborn. 
    That was my introduction to oxytocin. I learned that in the animal kingdom it not only instigates maternal behavior but also can create "pair bonding" among monogamous species and cooperative relationships among tribes of animals.
   What was interesting to me was that just as the narrator was describing the hormonal surge in the mother, I felt a surge in myself, and I felt that I was falling in love with the baby right along with her.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Scar Tissue
    I've always admired the actor James Earl Jones for his dignity and his deep-voiced diction, but there was something about the way he spoke that subtly distressed me. I felt an uneasiness -- which  was almost like a mild fear response -- and I couldn't figure out why.
   Then, a couple of years ago, an interviewer asked him how he had developed such a refined elocution, and he replied that he had endured a terrible stuttering problem in his youth. Even now, he added, he had to speak with care and control to avoid relapsing into his old impediment.
   It was a revelation to me to realize that I -- a former stutterer myself -- had been so attuned, subconsciously, to his ongoing anxiety and that it produced anxiety in me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Appointment with Disappointment

Part Three of "Impatient"
    (april 14, 2013) How do people who are really sick -- who hurt, who are weak and dizzy, who are feverish and nauseated -- manage to survive the arduous process of getting help in today's vast, dread-inducing health-care monstrosity?
      It is a test of endurance that really ought to be reserved for those of us who are flushed with robust vitality. We need to march in there, and confront a doctor, and say: This system is terminally ill!

Inside the Bubble: Breathing Room

       The past few weeks in Salt Lake City have given us by far the longest stretch of decent air quality that I can remember. I still can't have my bedroom window open at night, though -- which I have enjoyed for most of my life -- because of all the wood burning. And there are still people who insist on warming up their cars in the morning, which fills the air with toxic fumes when I'm jogging.
   But for the most part, it has been incredibly refreshing not to regard breathing out of doors to be hazardous to your health.
   Over the past many years, though, the air has been so bad so much of the time that it has had an impact on me psychologically as well as physically. It was very ominous and oppressive. I felt trapped and powerless. Ultimately, though, I found a solution.

Monday, March 14, 2011

An Eye for an Eye: Compassion in the Flesh

      In a city park somewhere, dozens of ducks float contentedly in a large pond while dozens of others roam around on the surrounding grass, taking in the sun, pecking at the dirt and occasionally squabbling. One duck is far away, waiting expectantly at the curb, her head raised in anticipation, but for what? At last he arrives, zooming up on his metallic red scooter: A nice-looking gray-haired gentleman who takes off his helmet and warmly greets his feathered friend.
      They were featured in a story on the national news last week, which showed them taking their daily, amiable walk together around the lake. She looked up a him with such affection and joy as she waddled along beside him, and when he looked down at her, it was obvious that the feelings were mutual. If any other duck, or any other person, approached, she warded them off. This was her man. It was incredibly touching.
       When a reporter asked the guy if the relationship had changed him, he promptly replied, "I don't eat poultry anymore."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Sabbath: On the Religion of Running

     Today is a Sunday, as it was then. I was jogging through my beautiful, tree-lined old neighborhood near Liberty Park. It was a mild, fragrant spring morning with all the Disney effects: chirping birds, scampering squirrels, daffodils and violets, and a coral-colored glow in the clouds. I had been running for an hour and hadn't seen even one other person. Then, in my peripheral vision, I sensed someone across the street, on the sidewalk, going in the opposite direction. I didn't look over there, but I soon felt that what had gone past had a rather odd silhouette. I came to a full stop in the street and looked back. At the same moment, an elegant deer with a face of pure innocence stopped and looked back at me. (She must have thought that I had an odd silhouette as well.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dead Right  
In some situations, suicide can be a dignified,
 rational, generous and courageous act.
    It was very sporting of the Founding Fathers to let us have the right to life and liberty, but I am claiming a human right that is just as fundamental, which is the right to die, whenever I decide I want out. I refuse to be bound by any official criteria (“terminally ill"), or to seek anyone‘s permission, or to travel halfway around the world to get it taken care of “legally.” My life is mine and only mine -- it doesn‘t belong to the state (that‘s a medieval concept that we can “live“ without). My right is not subject to the ideologies of those who regard suicide as immoral or those who believe we are obliged to bear our burdens with dignity and humility until a “natural death" comes to the rescue. Go ahead, if that’s what you’re into. But leave me -- and everyone else who disagrees with you -- out of it  What we do with our lives is none of your business.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Controversy over obituary site takes on a life of its own

    Since my first post on February 22, I have received 192 emails from around the country regarding the fraudulent and predatory policies of, the online obituary web site. I answered them for awhile, but I apologize for not being able to keep up.
    The controversy has become national thanks to Jim Romenesko, who graciously placed a link to my coverage on the widely read media site 
    And it is a national issue,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paddling pleasantly through a lame-duck life

Long-lasting relief, without quackery.
     (3/10/2015) Several years ago, a former newspaper colleague who was nearing retirement confided that he had just bought the last pair of dress shoes he would ever need.
    What did he mean by that?
    "I don't wear them very often, so they last about thirty years," he said. "I expect to be gone by then."
    This struck me as sad and scary at the time. But now that I've reached that stage of life, I'm finding that it's a relief to start winding down and closing shop. It's a lame-duck life, and it's strangely exhilarating. I feel positively presidential, freed from all those hassles that come with the desire to hold onto your position. At last, the finish line is visible! I will buy one more mattress, and I'll never have to do it again. I'll replace my 25-year old car with a newer-model used one, and that will be my last car, forever! I am enjoying this premature -- yet oddly mature -- approach to the end-of-life issue.

How Stupid Can Education Be?

   University tuition, we learned yesterday, is going up again because of a “tight budget,” while hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated for fabulous, “top of the line” and “state of the art” campus buildings, some designed by "world class" architects.
    Do we in this country EVER get our priorities straight?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I know who you voted for, and I'm telling the whole world!

   Several years ago, I was doing a bit of Googling to see if I could find some long-lost friends. Many had died, including some of the most fascinating people I'd known in New York. A couple of them had gone to prison for white-collar crimes (those bad boys, but they sure took me to some fancy restaurants before they got caught). An anxiety-ridden, henpecked former city employee I worked with had become one of the wealthiest and most ruthless large-scale developers in the five boroughs (way to go, Bruce! But don't you hate being hated?).
   I found numerous fascinating stories about my old pals, heartbreaking and heartwarming ones, a couple worthy of a feature film. Even so, I have never grown completely comfortable with these idle searches, despite my benign (usually) intentions.
   What really bothered me, though, began when I searched for a delightful doctor friend, who had escorted me to the kind of parties you read about in Vanity Fair (a United Nations ball and a soiree at Gloria Vanderbilt's mansion). Having known him for many years, I had never learned -- because he probably didn't want me to -- that he is a right-wing Republican.

NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE: Doctor, please take your filthy hands off of me!

Doctors deserve the claps. Plain folks merit applause.

     (march 29, 2015) A new study of 4,000  hospital personnel at 37 hospitals found more than 14 million instances where a caregiver had contact with a patient and should have washed his or her hands and did not, according a report on NPR last week. "Thousands of patient deaths and millions of infections occur,  and tens of billions of unnecessary dollars are spent" as a result of medical personnel's failure to wash their hands, the study authors concluded.
    This is important: In a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, hospital workers who were not aware they were being monitored washed their hands less than 10 percent of the time. 
    If a doctor won't wash his hands between patients, he should be fired -- not seduced with the promise of free pizza if he'll change his ways. On May 28, 2013, the New York Times described the extraordinary -- and truly pathetic -- lengths to which hospitals are going in order to entice doctors, and other front-line personnel, to practice basic hygiene.
    Some hospitals are handing out gold stars (I'm serious) when medical personnel comply with this fundamental imperative (yay! back to kindergarten!), but they're awarding dining-out coupons and other prizes as well. Some turn it into a contest, with an Honor Roll, a big jackpot and a buffet dinner party.
    This got me thinking: Why should these overpaid hotshots be the only people in the workforce who are given gifts simply for doing the basics of their jobs? I propose that the dear ladies in that same hospital who diligently and thoroughly scrub toilets, cope with fecal incontinence, and clean up vomit be treated to a Hawaiian cruise.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweet Dreams are Made of This?

The expression "sleep on it" acquires a nightmarish new meaning.
Carcinogens, endocrine and neurological disruptors, and respiratory
irritants, enfolded in satiny luxury, as depicted on the site.
   (10/04/2014) I was very pleased to find a handsome, solid memory foam pillow on sale at an excellent price a few weeks ago. It was "Made in America," which was a nice touch. At least that's what I thought at the time.
    When I removed it from its package, I was hit upside the head with a stunningly toxic, chemical odor. Undeterred, I put three pillowcases on it, and jumped into bed.
    Even with the cool, fresh air from the swamp cooler blowing over me, the poisonous fumes were intolerable. I didn't last five minutes.
    I thought airing out the pillow for a couple of days on my balcony would probably take care of the problem. Two weeks later, the stench was as bad as ever.
    I wrote to the pillow's manufacturer, international conglomerate Carpenter Co., to lodge a complaint. What I learned within a few hours was a nightmare -- not what one might expect from a "respected innovator" in the "sleep comfort" industry.

Monday, March 7, 2011


After 30 years of psychic pain, I embarked on a sort of "cuckoo's quest." I underwent a therapy I never dreamed I would have the courage or recklessness even to consider: shock treatments. All they did was to blow my mind, but a growing, profitable electroconvulsive-therapy industry is targeting both younger and older patients -- and claiming overwhelming success. Meanwhile, there is new evidence that it damages the brain in ways that were never anticipated. A detailed overview, both personal and journalistic, is behind the "Shock Treatments" tab above.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Obituary site's lawyers ponder a grave dilemma

   One of my darling, ever-vigilant whistle-blower elves -- this one in Illinois -- has informed me that has retained a high-powered Chicago law firm to determine whether its so-called user agreement will hold up in court. I say 'so-called' because the user never agrees to the "agreement," and is unaware of the rights and privileges that Legacy is claiming with respect to its stash of millions of obituaries.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Narcissistic NPR deserves its "whiny critics"

called NPR critics "pseudo-intellectuals" and "the stodgiest, whiniest, most self-importantly insufferable snobs of all time." (that sounds like a description of NPR's top personalities to me)  
   They "see NPR as their own," he added, "a 'safe,' high-minded palace that should never be sullied by" popular culture, celebrity scandals and other lowbrow, sensationalistic ephemera.
   I agree for the most part with those whiny people.

We like big butts, and we cannot lie

"When a girl walks in with an itty-bitty waist
and a big thing in your face, you get sprung!"
Jennifer Lopez hit rock bottom, and then she rocked it some more.
    (march 3, 2015) Bounteous butts have become the cool new thing in physical attributes in the 23 years since Sir Mix-a-Lot's irresistibly funny, vulgar song -- "Baby Got Back" -- was released. It is quite a turnaround. As recently as a few years ago, a great big ass was viewed as an embarrassment, a sign of low class & laziness, a trigger for snickering and ridicule. Whole exercise programs were dedicated to flattening your posterior into a cute, modest little derriere. Today's exercise programs are devoted to building up that behind into a vast mound of fertile sexuality. If you don't want to work out, just get butt implants, or buy undergarments with soft, proudly protruding, built-in buttocks. There are even "magic creams" that do the job.
    It seems that J Lo started this mass stampede toward robust rumps, although they have been highly prized in the black community pretty much forever.
    J Lo was getting so much attention for her bum that Beyonce recently got jealous and had some nice blossomy implants inserted. That pissed off J Lo, who promptly got even bigger ones for herself.
    And thus began the "arms race" for butts. To what lengths will people go? I guess I shouldn't even use the word "length." That's a whole different subject, and one of my least-favorite.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Good Heavens! Media One gives obituaries "eternal life"

Media One CEO Brent Low called Tuesday to say he had exceeded his own original intentions by extending the longtime 30-day limit for free online access to obituaries that have appeared in the two Salt Lake City dailies. "Forever" is the new limit. He had stated on Monday that he would immediately change the allotted time to one year as an initial step in reforming obit policy, but he decided not to bother with incremental change, and to go all the way right now. I expressed my support, but reminded him that the more serious issue is's unconscionable and illegal commandeering

2013 Resolutions: Running Out of Excuses

    (1/1/13) You can always find excuses not to go jogging. At the moment, my cat is dying. My herniated discs are inflamed. I have lots of housecleaning and kitchen work to do. I have a writing deadline looming. The temperature outside is in the single digits, and air quality is poor. I just had surgery, for pete's sake! It would be stupid to exercise.
    Anyway, who cares? Pretty much everyone else is still in bed. When they do get up, they'll be cramming themselves with sausage, pancakes with syrup, and fried eggs. Sure, it's nice to be healthy and slender, but is it worth the effort? Why pressure yourself? Why not just be a regular person, and purge yourself of those wild and crazy jogging fantasies?
    Now is a good time to kick the excuses out of your head, and hit the road. You may soon regard it as the most profound resolution you ever made.