Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SHOCK TREATMENTS: Can off-the-shelf brain zappers improve your life?

    More to the point, could they enhance your gaming awesomeness?
Your brain is not a plaything, you crazy, reckless young lady!
     (august 2014) Oh great: Cool, clever marketers are using data about transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) -- which passes small electrical currents directly onto the scalp and theoretically stimulates the nerve cells in the brain -- to entice gamers, and whomever else they can think of, to buy their cute, futuristic-looking gadgets ((
    Since they are not making medical claims (in their opinion, anyway), the are not subject to regulatory oversight. One of their ads exclaims:  "Can you learn 20-40 percent quicker, reduce pain, feel better, increase energy or reduce stress with tDCS? Research studies say, YES!" (Don't these sound like medical claims to you?) Studies also indicate you could mess up your precious, incredibly complex and beautiful minds, you fools!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bless her heart: A gal from up north is here to write about us!

"Them nigras does such stupid-ass things, sometimes you just got to laugh."
      "We've alerted people to keep an eye out for you, but you’ll need to exercise caution,” my editor at the Rockefeller Foundation Journal told me. "It's like time stood still in these little backwoods Southern towns. The black poverty is stupefying. The Klan is king. And the whites will see you as a ‘bleeding-heart liberal’ who is there to stir up trouble. They’ll probably try to scare you, at the very least.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Restroom gig: A process of elimination

This is part two of a two-part series
Part One is "The black gentlewoman in the marble dungeon."
 It's "potty time" at the disco, y'all!"

    (8/23/13) "Do you think I'd be doing this crap job if I could find anything else?" the young lady at a local dance club exclaimed. She was pretty, with magenta streaks in her glossy dark hair. The vest of her neon pink uniform had the unconvincing motto, "Flushed with Pride," embroidered in silver above her breast. She was the present-day incarnation of the "powder room" attendant. Unlike her predecessors from a more refined era, who gracefully presided over elegant accommodations and served "the upper crust," today's "loo" lieutenants must cope with drunkenness, drug use, vomit, sex in the toilet stalls, feces in the urinals, and disdainful patrons, as they attempt to eke out a living in the nation's hip, jam-packed bars, trendy eateries, and throbbing, rowdy dance clubs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This has gotten old, says Elderly Girl

"I want to be alone."
    (feb. 14, 2013) Elderly Girl has flown the coop. She needed space. She wanted her own place. Frankly, we're surprised she hung out in this gaudy, clamorous venue for as long as she did, surrounded by ordinary people, slapstick theorizing, chronic diseases and confounding issues.
    She has ensconced herself in a new domain, "The Elderly Girl Experience" (,where her autonomy and solitude can be protected.

The Excess Baggage of Dr. Mehmet Oz

See the sags and bags, the wrinkles (no twinkles) for yourself!
Dr. Mehmet Oz shares his eye bags and beauty tips in a visit to Salt Lake City on December 9.
    (Dec. 15, 2013) Do you ladies remember all those astonishing, miraculous, effortless, surefire cures for under-eye bags, dark circles and wrinkles that Dr. Oz has bestowed upon us all these years? The spritz of rosewater, the sprigs of parsley, the teabags and cucumber, the yogurt and sea urchin, and even the Preparation H? Don't forget the tart cherry juice, the chard, the astaxathtin, and the brandy/milk concoction. It goes on.
    As I noted in an earlier post, a reporter who met him in New York noted that Oz has quite the bags and wrinkles himself. "He more than looks his age, and he has very dark circles," the writer added. 
    Even so, I was taken aback to see Oz when he was in town last week for a ski getaway. He is painfully scrawny -- virtually frail. His skin is pale and not glowing. His hair is dyed a terrible shoe-polish brown, and it was held up by some sort of super-strength mousse. He has apparently not managed to use his "3 easy steps" to achieve "perfectly restorative and restful" sleep. He seemed totally pooped.
    But then there were the eyes. I have never seen baggier bags. I have never seen darker circles. I have rarely seen more wrinkles, even under the eyes of men decades older. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hey Jude: You made it bad

Another charity that cynically manipulates the tender-heartedness of its donors.
Marlo Thomas and some of St. Jude's young cancer patients.
        (Jan. 1, 2014) Maybe you've noticed the recent flood of heart-tugging (and very costly) national TV ads seeking your "desperately needed" funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. These slick appeals have buttressed  the "nonprofit's" constant campaign to enrich its nearly $3 billion nest egg.
    I always liked the late Danny Thomas, who undoubtedly founded this organization with the purest of intents. His daughter, Marlo, has fought aggressively to "keep the dream" (and her dad's memory) alive.  
     But donors who have done their homework about how this "charity" raises money, and how it spends those hard-earned dollars of yours, are scathing in their assessment of St. Jude's priorities and integrity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The black gentlewoman in the marble dungeon

     This is part one of a two-part package on the difficult, 
often demeaning job of restroom attendant, then and now.

    (8/14/13) The candlelight, the rose bouquets, the champagne, the maroon brocade walls and the quiet lilt of chamber music in the air ensconced  me in a world I had only seen in the movies. My escort and I were having dinner in a lavish hotel restaurant shortly after I moved to New York City. The tuxedo-clad waiters moved about, carrying large silver trays aloft, as debonair as Astaire. Everything was muted, yet sparkly.
    As we finished our entrees, I told Mitchell, a Park Avenue lawyer, that I needed to use the restroom. "I'll order the chocolate souffles while you're gone," he said. Then he handed me a five-dollar bill.
    Ever since I had arrived in this crazy, beautiful city, men had been buying me things, taking me places, putting me into cabs and slipping me twenties. But getting paid to pee? Could things possibly get any better?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is there a Lupus Doctor in the House? We need answers.

(or is it?)
     Why is it so hard to get answers to basic questions about autoimmunity? I have raised the issues below with several highly regarded experts, and I have gotten virtually no useful information.  I spoke to a professor of immunology who said, "The questions you pose are the very questions we are trying to answer. You have actually painted quite a clear picture of this complex, baffling disorder just by framing it as you have."
    I don't buy this. I am starting to wonder if they have any idea what they're doing when they "treat" us. How can we trust either their diagnosis or their "medical advice" if these fundamental issues remain a "mystery"?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I "Went Postal," and there were casualties

USPS serves you.png      (Jan. 22, 2013) I “went postal,” but it was the United States Postal Service that created the casualties.
     For six months in 2010, my 89-year-old aunt had been confined against her will, and without legal representation, in a locked dementia facility in South Carolina. She was desperate to get out. After doing some research about her case, I was thrilled to locate a document that all she had to do was sign to regain her freedom and autonomy. I sent it to her by certified mail -- since we knew her regular mail was being confiscated (she was also denied phone access).
    The care facility's front desk refused twice to accept delivery. I was livid. I contacted the office of the United States Postmaster General, and asked that my aunt's right to receive mail be enforced. After "intense negotiations" with care-facility executives, the postmaster general's chief counsel declined to press the matter. The document was returned to me, and the postal service said, “the case is closed.” My aunt remained essentially a prisoner, illegally isolated from the outside world, and the declaration that could have saved her remains on my desk to this day, unopened.
    We have just learned that she died weeks ago, having never again been allowed any contact whatsoever with her beloved "big sister," my 94-year-old mother.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I could have danced all night with the Prophet of Polygamy

I felt as if I were twirling ecstatically with Arthur Murray.
     I have found myself in numerous unusual situations over the years (oops, I did it again), but one of the most memorable was the time I spent in the arms of Rulon C. Allred, the prophet and spiritual leader of an  estimated 10,000 Mormon polygamists in the U.S. and Mexico.
    No, we were not in the throes of “replenishing the Earth,” as Dr. Allred, a homeopathic physician, regularly reminded his flock to do “with vigor, pleasure and the love of God.”
    We were dancing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Heroin Chick, Harley Dude and Feathered Keith

He didn't speak English -- he spoke a caregiver language of acceptance and hope.
        (8/1/2011) I could see the needle tracks on her bony arms as she stood on the porch, smoking, in her chartreuse tank top and skinny jeans. There were no boobs that I could discern. Instead, she had a rack of prominent ribs.

    Her hair was a wild, bleached-to-death mess. She was the most scrawny, caved in and wrecked person I had ever seen. On the shoulder of this shell-shocked stick figure always sat a gorgeous green parrot, who seemed to be murmuring something into her ear, in comforting tones. 
    She and her hugely muscled, Harley-riding boyfriend lived in a dilapidated shack that people in our tidy neighborhood sorely resented.