ON THE SCENT: COME BACK, SUPERMAN!

I was reading Andy Borowitz’ column this morning. He’s the guy who writes those parody “news bulletins” for “The New Yorker.

I’m pretty sure he’s on DJT’s hit list. It’s an honorable place to be.  I would be terrified, yet honored to join him. Anyway, in this particular post, he posits that Yates (acting Attorney General, hangover from Obama administration) was really fired for having a copy of the Constitution on her computer. He believes owning or reading (or maybe, merely knowing it exists) the Constitution in this administration are grounds for immediate termination. Read it here: TRUMP FIRES ATTORNEY GENERAL AFTER COPY OF CONSTITUTION IS FOUND ON HER COMPUTER

I tweeted the link and commented that this smelled true to me. I mean, seriously, DC is a comic book world, right? DC is the seat of the U.S. Government, yet DC is also from whence Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow originated. Coincidence?

I think not!

This gave me pause for thought. Suddenly, it all came clear! DJT — Number 45 — is actually a bewigged DC super villain!

Yes, he is … (trumpets, drumroll … long pause) …

LEX LUTHOR!


They smell the same, they think the same ... it's Lex Luthor and he's in charge! OMG!
They smell the same, they think the same … it’s Lex Luthor and he’s in charge! OMG!

He’s here and he’s got his finger on the button! Lex Luthor, the most insane, sadistic, crazoid ultra-super-villain in the DC universe. Superman’s bane. The baddest of the bad guys, the man whose goal has always been the total destruction of our world has made it to the top of the heap. He’s in the White House and he is set to destroy the world!

Reality? No? You can tell the difference? You sure? Because it makes a lot more sense (scents?) that we are now part of the DC world. The world as I understood it vanished a couple of months ago.

Remember the old “If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck?” Well … THIS smells like Lex Luthor. He acts like Lex Luthor. I’m pretty sure if you pop a bad rug on Lex’s bald head, you’ll discover he also looks like Lex Luthor.

Ergo ipso, he IS Lex Luthor. Or Humpty Dumpty. Take your pick. I’m with Lex.

Superman, we need you! Come back, Superman! Come home and save us! You’re our last hope!

SCENT | THE DAILY POST

WHY STUDY HISTORY? REFLECTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAST

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Sean Munger in Authors, Books, History /

Al Mackey, the Civil War historian who runs the excellent Student of the American Civil War blog, has today put up a very thoughtful and incisive piece on a book written by another one of our blogging colleagues, Dr. John Fea. Dr. Fea’s book Why Study History? is a clarion call for our times, when understanding of the past–or even appreciation of why understanding the past is even useful–is under serious attack. The themes Dr. Fea talks about in his book, and which Mr. Mackey echoes, are similar to those I recently dealt with in my own article about the dangers of “Fake History.” Please read the whole article at Al’s blog, or, better yet, buy Dr. Fea’s book!

This is an excellent book by John Fea, Associate Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College. Professor Fea is also a blogging colleague, blogging at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, which is also the title of an earlier book of his, subtitled, Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America. There he posts the normal history blog posts as well as personal reflections on current events, religion, politics, and the academic life, as well as videos. He also hosts a podcast that has already been featured on this blog.

In my opinion, everyone who would like to be a serious student of history needs to read this book. Professor Fea gives us an accessible primer on how to do history, from the obligatory “What Do Historians Do?” to “What Can You Do With a History Degree?”

So what is a historian? ” ‘In my opinion,’ writes Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood, ‘not everyone who writes about the past is a historian. Sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and economists frequently work in the past without thinking historically.’ ” [pp. 1-2]

Is history simply the past, or is there a difference?… [CONT’D]

Read the entire original article here: Why Study History? Reflecting on the Importance of the Past.

ANOTHER MONTH HITS THE ROAD – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: January 29, 2017


It was a peaceful Sunday. After the almost frenzied pace of the past week, it was welcome.

Cozy corner of the living room, late afternoon.
Cozy corner of the living room, late afternoon.
A virtual moment on a Sunday afternoon
A virtual moment on a Sunday afternoon
Out through the air shaft at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center
Out through the air shaft at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center

DIRECT CREMATION – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I was driving along I-95 in Connecticut when I spotted the billboard for “Direct Cremation.”

cremation with confidenceTraffic was just slow enough for me to read a few lines of the pitch. It promised no fuss, no delays, no middle men, red tape … and a money back guarantee if unhappy with service. I wasn’t sure who’d get the money back.

I started laughing over Marty Robbins and “El Paso” playing on the oldies CD. I was still laughing when Marty’s gunfighter died in the arms of his young sweetheart. Instead of a tearful funeral and the strains of “Streets of Laredo,” maybe the gunfighter should have had direct cremation. No muss, no fuss, no mournful Boot Hill farewell.

Direct cremation may be the latest answer to a world of violence. Mob hits, drive by killings, gang bang slayings with collateral damage. Stressed out serial killers and contract button men doing “jobs.” The bodies just keep piling up. Medical Examiners are overworked and cemeteries are running out of room. The U.S. government, in its infinite wisdom, only give each citizen a whopping $242 per body. What to do?

Direct cremation!

Speaking of overworked medical examiners, I’m reminded of a story I covered in Boston.

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72-Cemetary-OIL-Autumn-Uxbridge-GA_049

Goes back 40 plus years. The county medical examiner was, if you’ll excuse me, “under the gun” with some of his findings. He didn’t look like Quincy, Ducky, or even the sexy Lacey from the “Castle” series. He was a sad, tired, bleary-eyed man in the autumn of his years.

Your favorite intrepid reporter (me) was on the scene. The M.E. was momentarily diverted so I could check the autopsy lab and the morgue. I found the controversial corpse and made a cursory examination. I confronted the M.E. about his findings on the case. He insisted the victim was stabbed to death. I asked him about the several large bullet holes I’d just found. He was speechless.

Direct cremation would have avoided a lot of controversy and embarrassing questions. It’s an idea whose time has come.

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU

We used to live in a constitutional Republic. It’s a kind of representative democracy in which the Electoral College stands between the citizens and the final result of elections — like a water filter in a well. It’s supposed to keep the big lumps of dirt out of the system.

It isn’t working. Not the filtration on our well — that’s working fine. Our water is clear, cold and tastes as good as water can. It’s the government that is broken and getting more broken by the minute. Somehow, a huge lump of dirt strolled right past the filters and took the reins of power. We’ve got ourselves our very own despot! Holy shit! How did this happen?

I was not even a little surprised that Trump’s minions refused to obey the order of a Federal judge. Why would he? Why would they? He has declared himself outside and above the law and his followers have said YES! We want MORE!

He has declared the constitution obsolete and invalid. His followers have cried Lock them up! Shoot them down! Ban them! And all we said was “Can he do that?” while he did that. Then, we shook our heads sadly.

By “them,” the minions really mean us. You, me, and anyone else they don’t like. Reporters and writers. People with not white skin and anyone who doesn’t go to the right kind of church. We are the declared enemy. If we write stuff about him and he doesn’t like it, we are in his sights. Uh-oh!

We are in trouble. Proof positive this morning that the forces of the law are not going to protect us. They’ve declared that they’re with him, the one who is above and outside the law. Forget all that constitutional gobbledygook. Number 45 is calling the plays and he wrote his own book in sentences of 140 characters or less.

For all of you who skipped history because it’s irrelevant to “real life,” this is a full chapter out of the Adolf Hitler playbook. This is how it’s done, how a minority bullies the majority into kneeling down to a dictator. He does not need the consent of the majority, only that they be too spineless to stand up to him. A powerful bunch of thugs at the helm and a shipload of weak, indecisive “oppositions” who are bound up in not wanting to “make waves.” All the thugs need do is for their opposites to do nothing long enough to let them get a firm grip on the military and enforcement arms of government. Later should opposition develop a spine, it’s too late. The powers of darkness have taken over the army.

They’ve got the weapons and the power while we have gallant words. Which historically, have yet to bring down an armed dictator.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

LIVING WITH BI-POLAR PEOPLE by ELLIN CURLEY

Carrie Fisher was bi-polar. To her credit, she talked about her condition openly and honestly. She brought attention to the disorder and tried to reduce the stigma associated with this, as well as other, mental illnesses. It’s sad that we need celebrities with diseases to increase public awareness about their given malady. But mental illnesses are inherently hard to diagnose, treat and talk about. So as long as people get educated about them, I guess it doesn’t matter how or why.

I have an unwanted and involuntary expertise in Bi-Polar Disorder. Both my ex husband and my son had/have the disease (my ex is deceased). Each of them manifested the condition differently – my ex was mostly manic and my son was mostly depressed. One of the most difficult aspects of this disorder is the fact that it can look so different in different people. It makes it much harder to diagnose because there is no “one-size fits all” set of symptoms by which to identify the condition.

bi-polar-masks

It also makes it harder on the families, who don’t always get the support they need from the medical community. It also makes it easier for the bi-polar person to deny that they have an identifiable syndrome that requires treatment. This denial is very common in Bi-Polar Disease. Also common is the refusal to stay on medication. These factors just add to the difficulties and pain of the family members.

The families of bi-polar sufferers feel different from other families. We know that other families’ lives are not fraught with the unpredictability, volatility and often violence (emotional if not physical) that ours are. We seem to be the only ones living on a roller coaster. We feel inferior, ashamed and isolated. Family members, me included, try to ‘cover up’ the problem and cover for the often inappropriate behavior of the bi-polar loved one. I made countless excuses for the actions and absences of my ex. My daughter tried to avoid the issue altogether by going to friends’ houses and never having friends come to ours when Daddy was ‘off’ or ‘acting up’.

When you live with a bi-polar person, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you live like this. You wonder why you aren’t like other people. Your ego and self-esteem suffer. This is particularly devastating for kids. My kids are in their 30’s and are still dealing with these issues. They are moving on from some questionable relationship choices they made in the past because of their lingering psychological demons.

On the other hand, denial and defending are also big parts of life with a bi-polar person. While married to my ex, after one of his particularly bad manic episodes, I was advised by psychiatrists to go to a program for abused spouses. I thought that was ridiculous. I was in therapy already and I was clearly not in that pathetic category! That label did not apply to me! Of course I didn’t go. I often wonder what would have been different in my life if I had received the support and empowerment I needed at that point in time. I now realize that the whole family needs support and treatment specifically designed to deal with the mentally ill family member. My individual therapy was not enough.

The faces of comedy, tragedy and more in an ancient relief
The faces of comedy, tragedy and more in an ancient relief

Today, there are claims that too many people are being labeled ADHD or Bi-Polar, that it’s become a psychiatric fad to assign mental illness labels to people and ply them with drugs. To me, it’s better to spread a wide net to catch all the people with serious issues and get them the treatment they need. You’re not going to be misdiagnosed if your behavior is perfectly within the range of normal. Something is going on if a doctor thinks you might be bi-polar! If it’s not manic depression, then it certainly is something else that needs attention and possibly medication. Sometimes the only way to come up with an effective treatment is by experimenting.

I became very pro-active psychiatrically. My daughter started to have panic attacks at the age of eleven and I got her on medication immediately. She is grateful to me that she never had to go through the torture of years of horrible anxiety symptoms. She would not have been able to function effectively through school and in jobs without her anxiety meds. I couldn’t get my ex to stay on meds and get a stable life. But at least I got my daughter on medication early so she had fewer issues getting through life than she would have without my early intervention. At least I have one psychiatric success story to brag about!

ONCOLOGY AND AN INTERESTING BOOK

REPLACEMENT BREASTS – NOT QUITE ORIGINAL ISSUE


Anyone who has had cancer, no matter how many years have passed, knows you are never “cured.” The best anyone can say is “so far, so good.” Cancer isn’t a single disease. There is no test to tell you your body is free of cancer cells.

This is, of course, true of everyone from birth till death, but when you have had a run in with cancer, it stops being theoretical and morphs into something more sinister and personal. In 2010, I had a double mastectomy, losing both breasts to cancer. It wasn’t a prophylactic double mastectomy. I actually had cancer in both breasts. Two unrelated tumors at the same time. The odds against getting breast cancer in both breasts simultaneously are incredibly small. I seem to be one of the those people who manages to beat normal odds — not in a good way.

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After the mastectomies, I got instant reconstruction. Two silicon implants replaced my breasts. They do not, as people imagine, look like real breasts. When you are in the tunnel through breast cancer to (hopefully) recovery, you find yourself answering weird questions. Like “how large do you want them to be?” Do you want nipples? Saline or silicon?

I went with smallish and no nipples (they require two extra surgeries and they are entirely for appearance), and silicon, which feels more real. I suppose it’s all for appearance, really — the appearance of womanhood matters when the parts have been replaced with something that isn’t real flesh.

Everything went well — or as well as these things ever go. I hoped I was done with cancer. Imagine my surprise when I realized there was something hard underneath the scar across my right implant. Flat, hard. My first reaction was “What the hell?” Can I get breast cancer without breasts?

180-exam-room-dana-farber-270117_23

I hit the Internet to discover it is probably scar tissue. Or (unlikely but not impossible) a very rare form of skin cancer that grows directly under the mastectomy scar. Rare isn’t impossible. Not in my world, so reluctantly, I made an appointment at the Dana-Farber. It is the only dedicated cancer facility in Worcester County and has been where I’ve done all my follow-up since the surgery.

I had my surgery and reconstruction at the Faulkner Hospital in Boston. My surgeon and plastic reconstruction surgeon are the best. Anywhere. Literally described by my local oncologist calls “the dream team,” If you have breast cancer, this is as good as it gets and if life throws this at you, I strongly advise you to find the best surgeons, even if they aren’t convenient. You want to get this right the first time.

My oncologist thinks, as I do, that it’s nothing to get excited about, but we’ll watch it. If it seems to be growing, or starts hurting, we’ll move on to testing. In the meantime, I take a deep breath and can return to worrying about the lunatic pretending to be President who seems intent on making my personal angst irrelevant by blowing up the world.


As this was going on, I have been reading. A lot. Most of the books have been lackluster, to put it kindly. Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel by Camille Pagan grabbed me from the first page and kept me engaged to the end, wishing that it wouldn’t end. Which is a pretty unusual thing to say considering the book is about a young woman who discovers she has a very rare, aggressive form of cancer and her marriage comes unglued — at the same time. Literally, both things hitting her on the same day.

life-and-other-near-death-experiences-coverWhat takes the book out of the ordinary from other books that deal with life and death, is it never takes the easy way out. No cheap or easy solutions. It confronts real-life decisions that people in major life crises are forced to make. It does so with humor, wit, and realism.

The main character of the story freaks out when her life falls apart and needs time plus substantial support from family and friends to face her new reality. It’s the most realistic story about dealing with cancer I’ve read and it wasn’t depressing. Not a guffaw filled romp or a vale of tears. It reminded me that how we react to appalling news varies, but we all react. You cannot fail to be changed by facing death while realizing there’s no guarantee you’ll beat it, no matter what you do.

Once you’ve had any medical crisis that will kill you left untreated and might kill you anyway, even with treatment, you never look at life the same way. You don’t take life as a given. None of us should ever take life for granted, but most of us do. Until we come face to face with the dark angel and he’s holding our number.

This is a good book. A surprisingly good book. I hope it will get some attention. It is lumped into the category of “humor” where it doesn’t exactly fit … but I’m not sure where it would fit. Maybe humor is as good as any other placement.

Regardless, any book that can make you laugh in the face of death is worth a read.