Archive for November, 2008

Winning isn’t the only thing

November 26, 2008

A lot of people think that famous NFL football coach Vince Lombardi said,

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”   Not true.

Actually, he said, “Winning isn’t everything, the will to prepare to win is everything.”

This guy understood that:

This guy eventually didn’t:

And these women, lest I seem to be too focused on the men in this post, may represent the best expression of the spirit of Vince Lombardi’s words that I could find:



How did Thanksgiving become a yearly national practice?

November 26, 2008

It wasn’t easy to get us to just take a day and be thankful. It took a long campaign . We should perhaps take some time to thankher for all her hard work- an unsung heroine.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, and later, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She was fired with the determination of having the whole nation join together in setting apart a national day for giving thanks “unto Him from who all blessings flow.”

In 1830, New York proclaimed an official state “Thanksgiving Day.” Other states soon followed its example. The Territory of Minnesota celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day on December 26, 1850. The whole territory, including all of what is now the State of Minnesota plus the Dakotas as far west as the Missouri River, contained approximately 6,000 settlers but the book, The Frontier Holiday, describes a spirited celebration.

By 1852, Hale’s campaign succeeded in uniting 29 states in marking the last Thursday of November as “Thanksgiving Day.”

Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s passion became a reality. On September 28, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote a letter to President Lincoln and urged him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day “of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.”

Obama moves to the center

November 24, 2008

Obama is making some interesting picks for his cabinet, tapping into the experience of the Clinton adminsitration. Ironic that he campaigned for CHANGE, and we are recycling something old. I guess experience does matter. Also, when he said , YES WE CAN, he really meant WE, as he seems ready to pick Hillary for Secretary oF State. If you think you understand this guy, then hats off to you. Still feels like an incredible roll of the diceto me  by a jittery American electorate who was  reassured over and over and over and over about the virtues of Obama by the mainstream media and were finally numbed into submission by the crashing economy.   Some interesting speculation below about who Obama really is below.


First, it may be that Obama does not care all that much about national security policy and wants to leave it in capable hands while he rushes off to re-enact the domestic New Deal. He will be incurring enough conservative wrath there, so better to leave them pinching themselves with amazed joy on national security policy.

Another theory is that Obama never believed much of anything he was telling the left wingers during the campaign. It was all a carefully devised scheme to capture the nomination. The “cynical” view of Obama’s persona is that he has simply used one ultra-liberal affiliation after another (e.g., Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers’ Annenberg Challenge) to claw his way into power. Now there, he can relax and let his inner, thoroughly conventional and establishment self “loose.”

And yet another explanation is that he is entirely a political creature, devoid of well-thought out policy positions. Clinton was selected to get her out of the Senate. Gates will calm the GOP. Rahm Emanuel will keep a lid on Nancy Pelosi. It is all about power — consolidating it and preventing well-formed opposition.

Whatever your favorite theory, it is safe to say that the emerging Obama administration, at least so far, bears very little resemblance to the Left’s fantasy lineup.

Scary for Josie

November 24, 2008

Reena told me that Josie was watching a Saturday morning cartoon, one with puppets. It had a scene where a baby was to  be taken care of by a nanny type of lady. The baby’s Mom came to drop her off and Josie had tears welling up in her eyes. Knowing her history, it is little surprise, though it is amazing that she picked up on something like that off the TV.

I guess Santa will have to hold off on the Bambi DVD for awhile.

Phlegm Phest

November 24, 2008

Reena , Josie and I are all battling colds. Mostly it is a cough, not too much nasal congestion. It is rough.  

Josie sometimes gets snot on her eyebrows. If we don’t notice it on time, it dries and looks like she’s been shaving her eyebrows.

I notice that snot works a lot like the hair gel I use. It goes on slimy and then dries on hard, holding my hairs in place.

French soldier’s persective on US troops

November 24, 2008

This is a must read. “We Americans don’t even speak English.” But don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet Yankee, his words will make you very proud and grateful.

We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while – they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army – one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent – from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine – they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them – we are wimps, even the strongest of us – and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland – everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark – only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered – everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch  from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is – from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.

Thanks to

Diddly on Latino Public Radio

November 20, 2008

I was on Latino Public Radio today talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder and the holiday blues among other related topics. This is my second time on the show.  Talking with Dr. Pablo Rodriguez is enjoyable.

It is in Spanish.

click on the orange box with the headphones to listen on Windows Media Player

Jonestown and ‘confirmation bias’

November 20, 2008,0,2806746.story

Today is the anniversary of the tragedy at Jonestown. You can’t watch a political convention and not think of cults, unless …well…. you are a little caught up in the indoctrination yourself. How harmful is this? Were the Germans just stupid in the 30’s and 40’s. What makes us safe from cults? What puts is in danger?

In general, these types of belief systems are coherent and logically consistent when you are inside them. It is not until you step outside the group and gain a different reference point that the coherence and logic vanishes. This is why cults control the movements of their members, and especially their access to outside information and contact with friends and loved ones in the real world. (Jones moved his group to Guyana from San Francisco.) There also are well-known social psychological effects at work in these groups — such as the loss of individuality and the compliance of behavior and conformity of thought under group pressure, along with the diffusion of individual responsibility and group think.


But there is something deeper going on here that I think touches on cognitive processes in all of us as members of non-cult groups, such as political parties: confirmation bias. This is when we look for and find evidence to support what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away evidence that does not. And because we are so tribal by nature, we employ confirmation bias with extra vigor when it comes to defending the groups we belong to. Republicans tend to listen to conservative talk radio, watch Fox News and read the Wall Street Journal, gathering data and noting arguments that support their political beliefs. Democrats are more likely to listen to progressive talk radio and NPR, surf liberal blogs and read the New York Times. Everyone does it.
Thanks TMR

The dangerous rise of prescribing anti-psychotics to kids

November 19, 2008

As a therapist, I often don’t know what to say when I hear about kids being on psychotropics. This article talks about how far it has gone recently. It fits somewhat with the last post about secrecy and the DSM IV.  All I can say  is that if a ‘professional’ says they think your kid needs meds, start by telling them no. If the conversation stops there, than it probably is for the best. If they keep talking about it, let them talk until you are totally comfortable with the idea before you back off your ‘no’ stance. Let them talk and talk and talk. Ask questions, let them talk some more. Just listen, until you KNOW it is the BEST thing to do among all the options.

Powerful antipsychotic medicines are being used far too cavalierly in children, and federal drug regulators must do more to warn doctors of their substantial risks, a panel of federal drug experts said Tuesday.

The growing use of the medicines has been driven partly by the sudden popularity of the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder.

The leading advocate for the bipolar diagnosis is Dr. Joseph Biederman, a child psychiatrist at Harvard University whose work is under a cloud after a Congressional investigation revealed that he had failed to report to his university at least $1.4 million in outside income from the makers of antipsychotic medicines.

What you don’t know is none of your business

November 19, 2008

How do pscyhiatrists decide some people are ‘disordered’?  Well, some of them want to keep their methods a secret. It sure makes me more interested in what they are hiding. See excerpt and link to full article below.

Wrangling Over Psychiatry’s Bible

By Christopher Lane Los Angeles Times  November 16, 2008

Over the summer, a wrangle between eminent psychiatrists that had been brewing for months erupted in print. Startled readers of Psychiatric News saw the spectacle unfold in the journal’s normally less-dramatic pages. The bone of contention: whether the next revision of America’s psychiatric bible, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” should be done openly and transparently so mental health professionals and the public could follow along, or whether the debates should be held in secret.,0,5678764.sto

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