Friday, July 14, 2017

The Republican Party: Mean to the bone

By Bob Gaydos


Trump signs a bill allowing the shooting
 of bear cubs ... as they hibernate.

In much the same way that a broken clock is correct twice a day, so did our narcissist-in-chief (NIC) stumble into a truism the other day when he described a “health-care” bill approved by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives as “mean.”


Why did our clueless leader suddenly think a bill he had only recently pushed for and extravagantly celebrated at the White House was “mean”? Surely not because almost everyone who knew anything about it except for Tea Party Republicans thought it was mean. That’s never bothered him before.


I suspect it had more to do with the fact that he needed the Senate, also run by Republicans, to also pass a health-care bill so he could brag about it again and he just happened to be in the room, sitting there like a broken clock, when someone said if there was any hope of getting a bill through the Senate it had to be different from the House bill, which was, as he subsequently repeated, “too mean.”


Those are the kind of simple words the NIC understands. Big. Great. Best. Bad. Fat. Lousy, Mean. He likes to use them. A lot. Mean is not good. It’s bad. People don’t like mean things. How is the bill “mean”? Nuance is another matter.


Well, the bill that was presented to the Senate by a 13-member, all-white, all-male, Republican-only task force was apparently only a tad less mean than the GOP House bill, which means most of the country still thinks it’s awful policy, as do a handful of Senate Republicans. Actually, a lot of Senate Republicans think it’s not mean enough. In fact, not enough Republicans like it for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to a vote that would carry, so he put it off to allow for arm-twisting and bribing.


As he apparently demonstrated at a ballyhooed arm-twisting meeting with all the Senate Republicans at the White House, the NIC doesn’t know -- or even care -- how the bill works. He’s apparently confused about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, stuff like that. No matter. Mean or not, he just wants a health care bill passed so he can have another Rose Garden celebration and thumb his nose at Barack Obama. That’s pretty much the entire Trump policy.


McConnell, for his part, resorted to his favorite weapon --- bribery -- to try to get 50 Republicans to buy in to the bill. That comes in the form of billions of dollars in local projects for Republican senators who might face difficult reelection if they vote for the still-mean health care bill.


Tell me that’s not an awfully mean way to conduct public policy. And to no purpose other than to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans so they will continue to fund campaigns and vote for Republican candidates who promise to cut taxes even more, to eliminate pesky regulations that force businesses to be accountable for any harm they do, and to remove all those “deadbeats” Rush Limbaugh rails about from the Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and welfare rolls.


In other words, Republicans have totally lost the concept of governing for the public good. They have been against everything for so long they don’t know how -- or seem to even care to try -- to work with Democrats on creating useful legislation. I’ve been trying to figure out when “mean” became the Republican go-to word in policy. Maybe it was Ronald Reagan’s phony trickle-down spiel. The middle class and poor are still waiting for the first nourishing drops. A lot of them -- many Trump supporters -- are those supposed “deadbeats” of Limbaugh’s. Of course, they did have to suffer through a major economic disaster brought on by those rich individuals and corporations, who apparently didn’t have enough stashed away from the tax breaks so they had to simply cheat people out of their money. And they got away with it.


By the way, Republicans just voted to do away with an Obama regulation that required people dealing with other people’s money -- brokers -- to tell their clients what was in their best financial interests, not the brokers’. Bad idea, according to Republicans. Mean, I say.


Mean is slashing hundreds of millions from Medicaid, which pays for health care for 20 percent of Americans, including seniors in nursing homes, simply to cut taxes for those who don’t need it -- the one percent. The very wealthiest Americans. Mean is cutting funding for Meals on Wheels and food stamps. Mean is promising coal workers that their dying industry will be revived while creating no jobs for them, but allowing coal companies to dump their waste into streams from which the workers get their drinking water. Mean is putting the Environmental Protection Agency, which protects Americans from such things as water pollution, under the direction of someone who wants to eliminate the agency.


Mean is looking to do away with hundreds of regulations that protect people from health and safety risks posed by unscrupulous cost-cutting minded corporations looking to improve their standing with shareholders. If Republicans want to take an object lesson about such short-sighted governing, they need only to look at the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 79 people.


The fire is believed to have been started by a faulty refrigerator and spread rapidly up the high-rise, fueled by a highly flammable exterior wrapping, called cladding, that is banned for use on high-rises in the United States, but which its maker is allowed to sell in places where regulations aren’t as stringent. In the aftermath of the deadly blaze, Arconic -- formerly Alcoa -- said it would no longer sell the cladding, which has a polyethylene core, for high rise projects anywhere in the world. The company makes a more-expensive, fire-resistant cladding. Grenfell is a public housing project whose residents had complained for years that there were no fire alarms, no sprinklers, no safety tests and only one stairwell.


Public housing. No safety features. Total disregard for safety regulations. Cheaper construction material. Years of complaining with no response from British politicians more concerned with helping businesses save money rather than protecting people’s lives. Mean.


Since Republicans took control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they have eagerly worked to erase safety regulations issued late in the Obama administration, including rules to keep coal companies from dumping waste in streams and denying federal contracts to dangerous companies. And it’s not just people who are the target of Republican callousness. The NIC recently signed a bill to allow the shooting of bears and wolves -- including cubs -- as they hibernate. Heartless.


This list could go on and on and undoubtedly will so long as Republicans, once the proud party of Lincoln, now seemingly a collection of mean-spirited individuals lacking in compassion and tolerance, have access to power. Trump is not really even a Republican, but party leaders have been cynical enough to try to use him to advance their cruel agenda.


It is an utterly depressing state of affairs that calls for new Republican leadership or a new party entirely. If you’re a Republican and are offended by any of this, that’s your problem. The rest of us are appalled. It’s your party. You are responsible for what is being promulgated and promoted in the seats of power in Washington. Your silence is tacit approval.


Like the clueless one said, “Mean.”


bobgaydos.blogspot.com

'Daddy's an idiot, but we love him'

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump and his family.
“Daddy, to be honest, is an idiot. A lying SOB, too. A nasty drunk. As long as you praise him, he’s all smiles and charm. Disagree with him and he’s a bully, or worse. He likes to act like a big shot -- ‘I’m the smartest guy at the office ...,’ ‘the fastest runner …,’ ‘no one knows as much as me …’ ‘I really showed them …’ Yes, he’s somehow always late paying the bills, if he pays them at all, and he seems to owe a lot of people money. He’s not around much lately -- busy I guess -- but when he is he’s always telling us about how great it’s gonna be when we: a) get a bigger house; b) buy a new car; c) go on vacation; d) move away from this lousy neighborhood.

“We’re still waiting, but we know he’ll figure it out eventually because he’s Daddy and he said so. We love him.”

Welcome to another day in the life of a typical American family locked in the grip of massive dysfunction bordering on delusion. Actually, maybe they’ve already gone across the border.

Of course I’m talking about Trump. You know I’m talking about Trump. The only ones who don’t know I’m talking about Trump are members of the aforementioned family. The delusionals. They stuck with him before and they’re sticking with him now. He’s family. They’re stuck with each other. Hey, nobody’s perfect. “We gotta stick together or they’re gonna take away our jobs. Then our schools. Then our church. Then our kids. Then our guns. Then what’ll we do?”

“Don’t worry. Daddy will know.”

(But remember? Daddy’s an idiot.)

How do you survive in life when all your tools -- morals, knowledge, social skills, sense of self, pride, compassion, ethics, economics, tolerance, honor, curiosity, courage, ambition, faith -- have been conceived, nurtured and twisted in such a fashion that, although you know instinctively that up is not down, you agree with the head of the family anyway when he says otherwise and you defend him vigorously when others says he’s an idiot? To do otherwise, after all, is to admit your significant shortcomings in those areas and to invite the shame and ridicule you imagine you’ll receive for not recognizing reality. For not kicking Daddy out or leaving yourself.

That’s life with an abusive (often alcoholic) parent. Donald Trump’s America. The drug of choice in this case is applause, not alcohol, but the behavior is the same. Me, me, me. Predictably unpredictable. Trump’s diehard supporters are stuck with each other and with him -- one, big, dysfunctional family, lies and betrayals notwithstanding. Indeed, to question Daddy is disloyal, to leave, a betrayal. And where would you go anyway? It is, after all, a scary world out there. Daddy said so. Many times.

Breaking away from any such family is no easy task. It’s who you are, after all, isn’t it? You and your brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and … Heck, it’s like daddy told you -- it’s your brand. “Us against the world.”

Breaking away from the family of Trump -- acknowledging that he is a fraud, rejecting the brand -- would take enormous courage. First of all, it would mean admitting you have been wrong all this time to have placed your trust in a man with no moral compass, no sense of duty, no trace of compassion for the less fortunate, no regard for the truth and a total lack of interest in anything that does not feed his ego. (Get him a beer!) To admit that, one would have to be a fool, right?

Secondly, it would mean learning an entirely new set of life skills and placing your trust in people who believe pretty much the opposite of everything Daddy has told you. Talk about scary. Besides, how can you be sure those people aren’t lying, too.

“Everybody lies. Don’t believe what the media say. They all lie to make money. Daddy knows. He used to be on TV. He was great. At least Daddy has the guts to stand up to the liars and fight to get what we deserve. Maybe he hasn’t gotten it yet, but at least he’s trying. He’ll come through for us eventually. He has to, doesn’t he?”

Of course, there are 12-Step programs for people who grow up in this kind of ill-functioning, mis-functioning, dysfunctioning household with an unpredictable, abusive, addictive parent at the head. But one has to first admit there’s a problem before those programs can help. Then, one has to be willing to change -- to break the chains of denial and dependence on the parent and learn to live one’s own life. To be honest with oneself.

Rather than being the act of a fool, it takes a lot of courage to say, “Daddy’s an idiot and if I keep depending on him, excusing his behavior, I’m going to wind up an idiot, too. I have to face reality.” Sometimes, it take an intervention or a profound spiritual experience, a moment of clarity, for this to happen. Both have been known to work miracles and either one would be acceptable right now.

In the meantime, the key for the rest of the more-functional families in the neighborhood is to continue to recognize that the family down the block has an addictive idiot for a Daddy and that to try to tell them so is to invite insanity into your home.

bobgaydos.blogspot.com

Monday, June 26, 2017

Government survey: Adolescents' drug use lessening

Addiction and recovery
By Bob Gaydos
Good news and drugs. It’s not a typical pairing in most people’s minds. Right now, for example, the United States is trying to come to grips with what many are calling an epidemic of deaths due to heroin overdoses tied to opioid addiction. The attorney general of the United States recently cited this serious reality in asking Congress for permission to prosecute states which have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This kind of political exploitation tends to confuse issues and make the bad news sound even worse. So I went looking for some good news.
It didn’t take long to find and it came, if you will, from the horse’s mouth, which is to say, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, which are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The government.
Since 1975, the NIDA has been conducting the Monitoring the Future Survey, which tracks drug use and attitudes among eighth, tenth and 12th graders in the United States. Its most recent report was released in December of 2016. It contained quite a bit of good news.
According to the NIDA: “Use of many substances is at its lowest level since the survey’s inception (1975), including alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, inhalants, and sedatives (reported only by 12th graders). Other illicit drugs showed 5-year declines, including marijuana (among 8th and 10th graders), synthetic cannabinoids (K2/herbal incense, sometimes called "synthetic marijuana"), prescription opioids (reported in the survey as "narcotics other than heroin"), hallucinogens, amphetamines, and over-the-counter cough and cold medications.”
And on that national epidemic, here’s NIDA again: “Despite the continued rise in opioid misuse and overdose deaths among adults, past-year misuse of prescription opioids has continued to decline among high school seniors. Over the past 5 years, misuse has dropped 45 percent, from 8.7 to 4.8 percent. Heroin use remains very low, with past-year use reported by 0.3 percent in all grades.”
Bottom line, in a lot of ways an increasing number of adolescents are getting the message to do what Nancy Reagan suggested years ago regarding drugs -- just say no.
Of course, it took a little more to achieve these results than just telling teenagers to not do something because it could be harmful to their health. The all-time low levels of use of tobacco and alcohol surely are a reflection in part of federal laws that a) required states to raise their ages for purchase and public possession of alcohol to 21 or lose 10 percent of their federal highway funds (it worked) and b) banned cigarette and tobacco advertising on TV and radio, required warning labels on the packages and regulated product placement and ads in stores. It took a concerted, community effort, in other words.  
That effort continues with regard to tobacco, as Hawaii in 2015 led the way to raising the age for purchase of tobacco to 21. More than 100 cities and counties, including New York City, Suffolk and, recently, Orange County have also adopted the policy. Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have set the legal age at 19.
These legislative efforts were accompanied by well-publicized campaigns that heightened awareness of the numerous health risks associated with smoking and drinking -- especially at a young age -- and the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Stiffer DWI laws accompanied the raised drinking age in many states, again, a reflection of communities coming to terms with an unhealthy situation, discussing options and taking steps to remedy it. These positive actions and attitudes by adults are not lost on children and are passed on through generations, just as the negative ones are.
In response to the current opioid epidemic, law enforcement agencies have cracked down on over-prescription of pain-relief medicines and stricter regulations have been put in place to monitor their use. In addition, many communities have formed action groups to provide information about the abuse of prescription pain medicines and heroin, as well as other drugs. Such efforts increase awareness of the issue -- including the fact that help is available -- and tend to reduce the shame that prevents many who are suffering from addiction from seeking help.
As with the changes in drug and alcohol use among adolescents reported in the latest Monitoring the Future Survey, these attitudes and actions could certainly carry through generations. That would be more welcome positive news.  

From the 2016 survey
--  Marijuana: Among both 8th and 10th graders, daily marijuana use decreased over the past 5 years from 1.3 to 0.7 percent and from 3.6 to 2.5 percent, respectively. Among 12th graders, 6.0 percent continue to report daily use -- that’s about 1 in 16 high school seniors. Among all grades, the perception of risk associated with smoking marijuana regularly continues to decline, with only 31.1 percent of 12th graders reporting that regular marijuana use is harmful compared to 58.3 percent in 2000. However, disapproval among 12th graders remains somewhat high, with 68.5 percent saying they disapprove of smoking marijuana regularly.
-- Alcohol: The percentage of high school students who reported ever using alcohol dropped by as much as 60 percent compared to peak years. This year’s survey found that 22.8 percent of 8th graders reported ever trying alcohol, a 60 percent drop from a peak of 55.8 percent in 1994. Among 10th graders, lifetime use fell by 40 percent from 72.0 percent in 1997 to 43.4 percent this year. Among 12th graders, there was a significant 25 percent drop in lifetime alcohol use from 81.7 percent in 1997 to the current 61.2 percent.
. MTF logo
FYI
Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students from more than 300 schools are surveyed (12th graders since 1975, and 8th and 10th graders since 1991). The survey is funded by the NIDA, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and conducted by the University of Michigan.
For more information about the Monitoring the Future survey:
-- http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/
 bobgaydos.blogspot.com 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trump, turmeric and Taoism

By Bob Gaydos
Fit ... or fatigued?

So ... turmeric.

C’mon, admit it. You’ve jumped on the bandwagon for the latest health “super food.” Well, super spice.

If you haven’t yet discovered it, turmeric is a major ingredient in curry. It also makes mustard yellow. It also is believed to have benefits in fighting several chronic debilitating diseases including Alzheimer’s, arthritis and even cancer. It’s also supposed to be a mood enhancer. Side effects appear to be minimal. It can be ingested in tea, via tablet supplements, cream and, of course, in Indian food.

I added it to my daily regimen of B’s, D, aspirin and cod fish oil a couple of weeks ago. That regimen, along with a health-conscious diet and exercise, I can honestly say has helped keep me in relatively good health, especially for a guy who has recently been banged up in an auto accident. (Not my fault and I’m doing fine.) I do believe the diet and supplements are a main reason for my (usually) not looking, feeling or acting my age, which is several years older than the man who likes to remind us that he’s the president and we are not.

Volumes have already been written about the emotional health of Donald Trump, our narcissist-in-chief (NIC), and many more are sure to come. Frankly, I don’t care anymore. Everything about him is not normal and I refuse to normalize it. But I do wonder about his physical health.

How does someone with great wealth and access, literally, to any food, treatment, fitness coach or exercise regimen that would keep him fit and healthy for many years to come and allow him to continue to enjoy the fruits of his ill-gotten gains well into his nineties — a man also obviously obsessed with his appearance — how does he allow himself to become a belly-hanging, fried-chicken-eating, two-scoops-of-ice-cream guy who had to excuse himself from an event on his diplomatic trip to Saudi Arabia because of “exhaustion”?

Makes me wonder if maybe all those short speeches and quick, in-and-out visits to museums and sites of special interest aren’t only because of a short attention span. Maybe he gets tired quickly. Not that we’d ever know. In fact, we know remarkably little about the health of the man who, at 70, was the oldest ever first-time elected president.

The most recent “update,” as it were, from Dr. Harold Bornstein, who says he has been Trump’s personal doctor for 36 years, came in an interview with the New York Times in February. He told The Times that Trump undergoes regular physical checkups, gets all the important tests and takes a statin to keep his cholesterol and lipid levels at a healthy rate.

Bornstein, who could fairly be called a character, said Trump is healthy, while alternating between telling The Times that Trump’s health is “none of your business” (which is not true, since he is the president) and volunteering that he takes a prostate drug that promotes hair growth. Well, at least we know what’s important healthwise to the NIC.

Bornstein caused a stir during the presidential campaign when asked if he was concerned about Trump’s health, given his age and the fact he was running for the presidency. The doctor replied, “If something happens to him, then it happens to him.’’

Nice to know the doctor is in touch with his Taoist side. But really, who’s looking after Trump’s health on a daily basis? If he’s like most men in their 70’s (I’m going to generalize here) he’s inclined to skip doing some healthy stuff and do some not-so-healthy stuff instead. I don’t think it’s sexist to suggest that a lot of older men sometimes depend on someone else, usually a woman, to remind them about taking vitamins, or medicine or exercising or going easy on the dessert or getting enough sleep, etc. I’m speaking from my own experience here, not lecturing.

What we do know about Trump is that, while he’s at the White House, his wife, Melania, spends the week in New York City with their young son. Also, she doesn’t like to hold hands with him when they’re together. We know he watches a lot of TV and gets up early in the morning to tweet angrily about whatever bothers him — and apparently it’s a lot. Does he go to bed early? Don’t know. We know he likes chocolate cake and Big Macs and french fries and well-done steak with ketchup on the side. Exercise? Well, there is that golf every weekend.

Let me say here that, like a lot of other Americans, I haven’t spent a lot of time worrying about the good health of the NIC. Rather, I’m curious about who is and wondering why the man himself doesn’t seem to care much. Maybe he thinks he’s perfect just the way he is. Or maybe no one dares to mention that he could use to lose a few pounds and maybe even take some turmeric to improve his mood. Skip all that TV and read a book before bed.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” One out of three is good only in baseball, Mr. NIC.  We know, because you told us, that you were surprised to discover how hard the job of being president is. It can be emotionally and physically demanding. Everyone wants something from you and no matter what you do, someone is unhappy. It could be exhausting even for someone who’s not going to be 71 in two weeks, as you are.

Look, it’s up to you, but I think I speak for a lot of Americans in saying if the demands of the job are taking a toll on you physically, no one would think less of you if you said you were stepping down for the good of the country to spend more time with your young son and young wife. Actually, it’s a very patriotic thing to do. Ask John Boehner.

Me, I’m going to stick with the turmeric and hope it improves my mood.

bobgaydos.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pick a book, any book; now be it

By Bob Gaydos

... recent reading
Remember books? You know, lots and lots of words on paper strung together in some sort of sensible, occasionally poetic, way to tell a story. No pop-up ads. Not textbooks. Book books.

I’ve been acutely aware of synchronicity in my life of late and books have played a part in it. Let me admit straight up here and now that my relationship with books had grown cool in recent years. Not a complete break, but sporadic at best. Technology lured me away.

Recently, though, life hit me head-on, leaving me mostly immobile and homebound. No TV. After a while, even I-phones and laptops lose their charm. I picked up a book: “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” by Tom Wolfe. Here’s some synchronicity: The only reason I had this book in my possession is that I had just finished reading Wolfe’s “Hooking Up,” which was one of several I picked up at the library’s used book store because my son, Max, said he was looking for something to read. “Hooking Up’’ reminded me that I liked Wolfe back when he was writing for the New York Herald Tribune. I also liked his “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

So I went back to the library and found “Electric, etc.” and “A Man in Full,” which I just finished and whose main character is an older gent recovering from knee surgery, like me.
I’m good on Wolfe for a while. Now, I’m reading “Contact,” by Carl Sagan, which I also found at the library store. I started thinking about my most recent choices in books and was thinking about asking friends for recommendations for some more recent books they found worthwhile.

Then, synchronistically, a Facebook friend in Seattle, Jim Bridges. posted an item informing me it was National Book Week. There were rules about finding a sentence from the book closest to you and posting it without telling the title of the book. So I did. Something from “Contact.” I also realized that Jim had just reminded me that, not too long ago, Facebook was regarded as social media, a place where people shared such information with friends as what they had for dinner and what book they were reading.

As far as I know, no one responded to my Book Week post. They probably thought it had something to do with, yes, politics. That’s just not right. Not long ago, when I started writing a blog for the Internet, friends routinely participated in discussions of whatever the topic was. Now, I feel a sense of frustration and fatigue on Facebook, which has become highly politically charged.

And so, I’m writing about books. Pay attention. I’m still looking for something to read after “Contact,” which I’m enjoying. As I said, my most recent reading -- the past 18 months or so -- has consisted of nothing new. Actually, nothing from this century:
“Slaughterhouse Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut; “A Prairie Home Companion,’” by Garrison Keillor; “1984,” by George Orwell (I had a suspicion.); “Hooking Up,” “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and “A Man in Full,” by Tom Wolfe; and the current, “Awareness,” by Anthony De Mello and “Contact,” by Carl Sagan. Vonnegut and Orwell I read on Kindle, the rest on paper. I’m partial to paper, but not fanatical.

I would really like to know what you’re reading or have read recently that you would recommend. I plan to share the information in future columns, the way we used to do a while back. I’m also going to post it on Facebook and elsewhere at least often enough for friends to notice and have an opportunity to reply. You know, socially.

I have one other book-related item to share. My partner and I recently watched “Fahrenheit 453,” the 1966 movie version of Ray Bradbury’s futuristic tale of a society that burns books. (Again, I had a suspicion.) In the film, Julie Christie and other members of the secret resistance to the ban on books live together in a secluded community. Each member picks a favorite book and memorizes it so that the words will never be forgotten. The title of the book becomes their name. “Wuthering Heights,” meet “David Copperfield,” for example. 
They spend their days reciting themselves to each other and pass the books on to younger members before passing on. A living library.

So, friends, if you were a book, who would you be? I’m going with “Catch-22” for now. Joseph Heller. Please join me. Let’s be social again, at least until the impeachment.

bobgaydos.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Technology opens up new avenues to addiction

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

Which came first, the Internet or the addiction?
That existential question is at the heart of a debate among psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals in the addiction treatment field. Is all that time people spend on their laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones a sign of addiction to the technology itself, or is the technology merely an extraordinarily convenient vehicle by which to accommodate the addiction? And, either way, is there potential harm?
The answer to that last question is yes.
Internet addiction disorder (sometimes called technology addiction or Internet Use Disorder) is not listed in the latest DSM manual (DSM-5 2013), which is used by psychiatrists to officially diagnose addictions. However, Internet gaming disorder (video games that are especially popular with men in their 20s and 30s) is listed as a condition worthy of further study.
The only non-substance related addiction included in the manual is gambling disorder. And yet, it doesn’t take a scientific study to know that there are people who spend hours online looking at pornography, still others who will shop at e-bay and other Internet sites as long as PayPal will allow them to and still others who have become day traders (and night traders) on the stock market -- either because it’s right there in their living room or because of some other less obvious reason that might come out in therapy.
And, of course, there are the those who frequent social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (often at work), as well as ubiquitous texters (mostly teenagers) with smartphones at the ready wherever and whenever it’s necessary to share some news, or photo, or, you know, whatever.
Officially classified or not, some researchers believe that some of these behaviors -- hours of gaming, sex-related surfing or non-stop e-mailing or texting in particular -- have a lot in common with recognized addictive behaviors. To wit:
  • A high tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Negative repercussions.
The researchers say people who use their cell phones or computers for hours at a time may feel a “high,” similar to substance-centered addicts, as well as a feeling of restlessness when cut off from technology.
Some video gamers have been known to play non-stop for several hours, eating junk food, drinking soda or energy drinks for the caffeine, and ruining their eyesight and posture. They may have trouble sleeping or may feel depressed. School work goes undone. Job performance suffers. In-person friendships suffer. Hobbies and other interests that do not involve technology disappear. Life revolves around the game.
For gamers, or those who spend excessive time shopping online, looking at pornography, taking selfies or constantly checking Facebook postings, it’s possible, even likely, that there are issues involved beyond the constant use of technology that would benefit from the expertise of a psychotherapist.
Which brings us back to that which-came-first question. Given the constantly expanding role of technology in our daily lives -- work, school, social communication depend on it -- treating the harmful behavior is not as simple as don’t pick up the drink, the drug or the credit card, or stay out of bars or casinos, or knock off the french fries. It’s more likely to consist of recognizing when the behavior is getting out of hand and working with a therapist on a plan to address it.
There are, for example, apps that will tell you it’s time to shut off your smartphone or do it for you and others that will shut off your computer internet connection or block specific Web pages. Figure out if any of these could work for you. If you’re a concerned parent, talk to your child about cutting back before arbitrarily confiscating the phone.
Whatever the addiction is --  whether it’s in the official DSM manual or not -- it’s all about control, or lack thereof. Bottom line: If a behavior is causing problems in your life, it’s a problem.

There’s a movie about it
With all addictions, it’s always comforting to know you’re not alone. With Internet addiction, there’s an award-winning movie that discusses the challenges and struggles of young people growing up in the digital age. SCREENAGERS” explores family conflicts over video games, social media and academics. Screenings are available only through community events at a school, community group, church, synagogue, workplace, theater, etc. The Warwick Valley School District hosted a screening last year at the high school. It was followed up with a discussion featuring a panel of teens at the Albert Wisner Public Library.
More  information: http://www.screenagersmovie.com/host-a-screening/

bobgaydos.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Behind the bluster, the GOP sacks America

By Bob Gaydos

Ryan, Trump, McConnell ... the unholy alliance

One of the major problems in living with a narcissist is that everything is about him. He dominates the conversation, the day-to-day business, in sum, everything. It's easy to forget that there are other things going on in the world other than those revolving around him. He demands constant attention. He seeks constant attention. And if those around him are not aware of what is going on, he gets constant attention, whether he deserves it or not.

When that narcissist occupies the most powerful position in the world, it sometimes seems as if there's nothing else worth paying attention to or worth writing about other than whatever mean-spirited, idiotic statement or executive order emanates from him. Every headline, every news report, virtually every social media posting involves him. It is a nation taken hostage.

I have shaken my head in bewilderment every morning as I awaken since Nov. 9 and desperately look for something to write about that does not involve him. Let those whose jobs require them to write about him do their jobs and do it well and honestly and courageously. I'm still hung up on what the others in his party of convenience are doing to this country while everyone else is busy watching his Twitter feed.

The Republican Party once upon a time had a conscience, a sense of duty and had enough members with the guts to stand up and call a liar a liar, a bully a bully, a fraud a fraud, a bigot of bigot, and a crook a crook. Even when that crook insisted he wasn't one.

No more. Their leaders have sold out to Wall Street, to big corporations, to right-wing fanatics, to white supremacists, to hypocritical evangelicals. To the people who donated millions to fund their election campaigns. And so, while the narcissist in the Oval Office has rained havoc around the world, diverting everyone’s attention, Republicans in Congress have been taking a hatchet to every conceivable program or regulation in place to protect or serve the American public.

They helped coal miners by saying it is now okay for coal companies to dump their waste into the rivers and streams where their employees live. They say we don't need a law designed to keep mentally incompetent people from getting gun licenses. They say endangered species don't need protection from man. They say funding for PBS and the arts is unnecessary. They also say funding for Planned Parenthood is unnecessary. And one of their leaders, Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, he of the constant smirk, now says he will somehow manage to find $20 billion to pay for a wall between Mexico and the United States. That's the wall, you will recall, the narcissist said Mexico would pay for. Mexico said no way. That wall will never be built.

Also, and maybe you hadn't noticed, but congressional Republicans also say there's no reason for the narcissist-in-chief to show the rest of us taxpayers his tax returns. And that plan to repeal and replace Obamacare -- which apparently many Republican voters don't realize is also known as the Affordable Care Act? It still doesn't exist, after eight-plus years. Former GOP House speaker John Boehner said the other day, ‘’It's not going to happen.’’ 

He ought to know.

And finally, the piece de resistance, that $1 trillion, job-creating, infrastructure plan that the narcissist was going to design with his Republican colleagues in Congress? Haven't heard a word. Folks, they're making it up as they go along, stepping on people with little power and running away from questions by citizens who dare to show up at Town Hall meetings.

If you watch the movie, ‘’You've Been Trumped,’’ you'll realize this is all just the same plot over and over again. In place of the Scottish government that rolled over to the narcissist and let him wreak havoc on the Scottish coastal environment, bully people, ignore laws and build an ostentatious golf course, we have congressional Republicans, smiling and nodding and saying in private to other nations, ‘’Don't pay attention to what he says.’’

Don't worry, Europe, we’re still on your side. That Russian thing? Overblown. Fake news. You know how reporters are. Besides, we've got Mike Pence warming up in the bullpen. When, not if.

I digress. A recent posting on social media suggested that perhaps our narcissist-in-chief would benefit from a dose of LSD. At first glance, I thought this was somewhat bizarre since the aforesaid seems to already have a bizarre sense of reality. But what the heck, I read the article since there's nothing else on social media. The idea is that LSD strips the ego, lays it bare. Hello? This is me. Now. The article further said that the psychedelic drug was now being used again in legitimate research as a possible treatment for various illnesses.

 I'm reporting this mostly because I came upon the article just after finishing reading Tom Wolfe's ‘’The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.’’ Yeah, I was late to the party, but synchronicity, you know?

I have my doubts that any drug could shrink that narcissist’s ego, much less induce a sense of reality that inspired love for all people. Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey were searching in different ways for something universal deep within the human spirit through the use of psychedelics. As far as we know, they didn't find it. Then the government made it illegal.

But hey, if they're really doing research with LSD again, I’d just as soon they use Mitch McConnell as a guinea pig. Wouldn't he be a blast on the bus?

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