Sunday, 30 June 2013

Women's Reproductive Rights

Final Word
"Thou shalt not mess with women's reproductive rights." -Fallopians 4:28

I offer my sincerest thanks to About.Com for putting together dozens of these political messages. *sobs* Now please don't sue me! - I'm just showing the ones I found particularly amusing.

When I ran across this yesterday, I was absolutely howling. (Keep your Boehner out of my uterus? OMG! Ha ha ha!) At several points, I had tears streaming down my cheeks I was laughing so hard. Funny? You bet but it was all even funnier because of the subject material. I've said it during the 2012 Election campaign that the GOP has completely lost their minds. They open their mouths and spout the most absurd notions that are in no way reflective of reality, science, and fact. I don't even know how they can say some of this stuff with a straight face. Am I the only one?

In one picture above, two very nice ladies - heck, they could be suburban housewives - are holding up a sign which reads, "If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd f**k a senator." That's hilarious! And gutsy. But it is also indicative of just how stupid this debate has gotten. As I tweeted during the 2012 election campaign, "Ladies, if you vote Republican, you can kiss your vagina good-bye."

Now what's going to happen? "If a candidate threatens female choices, a woman's body has ways to shut that down." Amen. If the GOP doesn't look out, they'll end up alienating everybody. *Beep* Too late!


About.Com: Political Humor
Funniest Responses to the War on Women
Pro-Feminist Memes, Cartoons and Quotes Supporting Women's Rights
About.Com, Hats off. This is terrific of you to show this stuff and disseminate the message. Up with Women's Rights. Down with the far right.

my blog: Rape? No problem! Women must have an orgasm to get pregnant. Aug 21/2012
During an interview, Representative Akin was questioned about his no-exceptions view on abortion. When asked in the case of rape whether a woman who became pregnant should have the option of abortion he replied:

"Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."

my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U Mar 14/2012
Recently, the world has been atwitter on Twitter and other social media commenting left, right and centre about one Rush Hudson Limbaugh. Of course, it is easy to pile on by calling him an anal orifice or a Neanderthal or a meany... (I consult my notes) oops, that's a f**kin' meany... however I can't help feeling there is more, much more not just to this particular story, but to what the story represents. This is the tip of the iceberg.

my blog: Why are we talking about gay marriage? Feb 7/2013
The economy needs improvement. Global warming is a concern. Unemployment must come down. People are starving in various parts of the world. Collectively we have to deal with pestilence, war, famine, and death. Gay marriage? This isn't at the top of my list of major concerns. In fact, it's not in the top ten. Not even in the top hundred. How about we all start paying attention to what's really important?

my blog: Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends Dec 13/2012
This all started on November 20, 2012 when CollegeHumor, a New York City based web site posted a video called "Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends". In an amusing fashion, the clip puts forward the notion that if gay guys can't marry one another, they will marry the girlfriends of those men supposedly against gay marriage. Obviously CollegeHumor was on to something.

my blog: If you're a woman, this is why you should vote Democrat Oct 13/2012
You are a woman. You have the right to choose for yourself. It's your body. You have the right to choose sex education, birth control, and even abortion (but let's hope the first two choices minimize the third choice). I repeat: it's your body. It's your right. If you vote Republican, you are voting to give up those rights.


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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Wikipedia: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less is a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.
-quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004

Barry Schwartz's thesis
Schwartz assembles his argument from a variety of fields of modern psychology that study how happiness is affected by success or failure of goal achievement.

Attempts to duplicate the paradox of choice in other studies have had mixed success. A meta-analysis incorporating research from 50 independent studies found no meaningful connection between choice and anxiety, but speculated that the variance in the studies left open the possibility that choice overload could be tied to certain highly specific and as yet poorly understood pre-conditions.

Final Word
"The secret to happiness is low expectations." Mr. Schwartz punctuates his statement with a cartoon by Michael Crawford. It shows the bride and groom standing in front of the minister and the guy turns to his blushing bride and says, "You'll do." Ha ha ha. As Mr. Schwartz suggests, sometimes we need to settle?


Uploaded on Jan 16, 2007 by TEDtalksDirector

Wikipedia: Barry Schwartz
Barry Schwartz (born 1946) is an American psychologist. Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.

Amazon: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
In the spirit of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret. This paperback includes a new P.S. section with author interviews, insights, features, suggested readings, and more.

Whether we’re buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions--both big and small--have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.

We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice--the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish--becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice--from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs--has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counterintuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

Journal of Consumer Research 37: 409–425
Can There Ever be Too Many Options? A Meta-Analytic Review of Choice Overload
Scheibehenne, Benjamin; Greifeneder, R. & Todd, P. M. (2010)
Although strong instances of choice overload have been reported in the past, direct replications and the results of our meta-analysis indicated that adverse effects due to an increase in the number of choice options are not very robust: The overall effect size in the meta-analysis was virtually zero.
In summary, we could identify a number of potentially important preconditions for choice overload to occur, but on the basis of the data on hand, we could not reliably identify sufficient conditions that explain when and why an increase in assortment size will decrease satisfaction, preference strength, or the motivation to choose. This might account for why some researchers have repeatedly failed to replicate the results of earlier studies that reported such effects.

* An odd thought. The cartoon by Michael Crawford might have been funnier if it was the bride saying to the groom, "You'll do."


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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Erotica vs. Pornography: What's the difference?

Erotica vs. pornography. Good vs. bad. Desirable vs. vile. A welcome part of the human experience vs. all that is perverted in the world.

Recently on Twitter, I have been following along with and occasionally contributing to #AdultSexEdMonth, June 2013. This brainchild of Ms. Quote @GoodDirtyWoman strives to bring together bloggers, experts, and anybody interested in the topic of sex to share information and personal experiences in an effort to educate people and demystify one of the most fundamental and natural aspects of the human condition. I have certainly harped on it enough that in our puritanical society, it is more acceptable on television to watch two people kill each other than to watch them have sex. Yes, in our culture it is more acceptable to make war than to make love.

The other day, somebody made a curious remark which made me stop and think.

I'm not big on porn, but I'm a big fan of erotic photography & art.

What struck me as so odd about the above statement was that the person in question, a woman, is the author of erotic fiction. It was almost as if she had said, "I'm not big on sex (porn), but I'm a big fan of sex (erotica)." Maybe all roads don't lead to Rome.

What's the distinction? Is there a difference between erotica and pornography? Or is the distinction one of a personal interpretation of words? Does the word porn mean one thing to one person and something different to somebody else? Without even beginning any research, just sitting here typing these words, I have to admit that somewhere in the back of my mind is some sort of unconscious impression that the word erotica is related to something good while the word pornography evokes something bad. Erotica I read on the subway out in the open. Pornography is something I carry in a brown paper bag. I don't know why. I can't put my finger on anything specific, but the distinction between the two words is there. Erotica vs. pornography. Good (somehow) vs. bad (somehow).

The Free Dictionary: erotica
Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.

The Free Dictionary: pornography
Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

Merriam-Webster: erotica
Literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality

Merriam-Webster: pornography
The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement

Cambridge Dictionaries Online: erotica
Books, pictures, etc. which produce sexual desire and pleasure

Cambridge Dictionaries Online: pornography
Books, magazines, films, etc. with no artistic value that describe or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting

Wikipedia: Erotica
Erotica (from the Greek ἔρως, eros "desire") is any artistic work that deals substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing subject matter. All forms of art may depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music or literature. Erotica has high-art aspirations, differentiating it from commercial pornography.

Wikipedia: Pornography
Pornography (often abbreviated as "porn" or "porno" in informal usage) (Greek: πορνεία, porneia, fornication) is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual gratification. Pornography may use a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games.
Pornography is often distinguished from erotica, which consists of the portrayal of sexuality with high-art aspirations, focusing also on feelings and emotions, while pornography involves the depiction of acts in a sensational manner, with the entire focus on the physical act, so as to arouse quick intense reactions.

The novel 50 Shades of Grey has been labelled an erotic romance. (Wikipedia)  There are profanities and explicit sex scenes. Yes, the protagonists are f**kin'. But I don't see anybody calling it pornography. I find this a curious splitting of hairs. What you like is erotica. What you don't like is pornography.

Let me return to the above definition from Wikipedia. Erotica, which consists of the portrayal of sexuality with high-art aspirations, [also focuses] on feelings and emotions. Certainly at the heart of 50 Shades is a romance; love triumphs over all and in the end Anastasia and Christian sail off into the sunset. Did I mention there's f**kin'?

Pornography involves the depiction of acts in a sensational manner, with the entire focus on the physical act, so as to arouse quick intense reactions. So, if I randomly remove a chapter or a specific scene from this erotic romance, a scene which goes straight for the groin with its depiction of sex, do I turn it from erotica into pornography?

Is somebody going to argue that no, this is not the case because I've read the book; I remember the larger context, and heck, once in a while I like to remember that really really hot scene of Christian and Anastasia f**kin' in the bathtub?

If I look at the above definitions of the two words erotica and pornography, I keep seeing the common theme of "arouse sexual desire" or "cause sexual arousal." From there, a refinement of the definition seems to qualify erotica as being more artistic with a focus on feelings and emotions while pornography is labelled as a sensational focus on the physical act of sex. Hmm, so am I back to all roads lead to Rome?

The Lightning Rod
In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court forever gave himself a place in the history books when he uttered during a famous case about hard-care pornography, "I know it when I see it."

From there, I don't think I would be unfair by saying the definition of the word has taken on an individualised and personalised meaning. The emotional underpinning of this word is such that the mere utterance of the word can evoke all sorts of mental images and reactions.

Wikipedia: Gloria Steinem: against pornography but not erotica
Along with Susan Brownmiller and Catharine MacKinnon, Steinem has been a vehement critic of pornography, which she distinguishes from erotica: "Erotica is as different from pornography as love is from rape, as dignity is from humiliation, as partnership is from slavery, as pleasure is from pain." Steinem's argument hinges on the distinction between reciprocity versus domination. She writes, "Blatant or subtle, pornography involves no equal power or mutuality. In fact, much of the tension and drama comes from the clear idea that one person is dominating the other." On the issue of same-sex pornography, Steinem asserts, "Whatever the gender of the participants, all pornography is an imitation of the male-female, conqueror-victim paradigm, and almost all of it actually portrays or implies enslaved women and master."

Ah, excuse me? Holy Hannah, just what pornography are you looking at? Has Ms. Steinem personalised her own definition of pornography to materials at the extreme end of the spectrum? Is this a question of interpretation? Millions of women were apparently enthralled by 50 Shades of Grey and newspaper articles were reporting that many a marital sex life had been rejuvenated by reading the books. By applying the standards set out by Ms. Steinem above (love/rape, dignity/humiliation, partnership/slavery, pleasure/pain), it seems that she would label 50 Shades pornography. And from the strength of her words so adamantly against pornography, that's a bad thing.

Is your perspective on 50 Shades one of just that, perspective? I am reminded of an old joke.

It's not a leer if the woman is interested.

Think about that. Think about that carefully. A man stares at a woman. The difference is not in whether the man stares or how he stares; the difference is in whether or not the woman wants to be stared at by that man.

The Definition of Pornography by Joseph W. Slade
Excerpted from Pornography in America: A Reference Handbook by Joseph W. Slade (2000)
Pornography" (or "porn") usually refers to representations designed to arouse and give sexual pleasure to those who read, see, hear, or handle them. Although sexual stimulation would seem to be a splendid goal, it is not always so regarded in a society still characterized as puritanical... the confusion [of misinformation] seems a deliberate means of demonizing enemies, achieving political advantage...
...the meaning of the term pornographic constantly shifts along a vast continuum moving between two equally slippery concepts, the erotic and the obscene. An erotic representation is usually considered socially acceptable... "Eroticism," says [Al] Goldstein, "is what turns me on. Pornography is what turns you on."
The problem, of course, is that not everyone uses the same measurements. Some Americans believe that sex is a necessary evil, sanctioned only by marriage for purposes of reproduction, and condemn sexual representations under any circumstances.
For most Americans, pornography means peep shows, striptease, live sex acts, hardcore videos, adult cable programming, sexual aids and devices, explicit telephone and computer messages, adult magazines, and raunchy fiction. Conservatives might add prime-time television programming, soap operas, Music Television (MTV) and rock music, romance novels, fashion magazines, and all R-rated movies. Conflating sexuality and violence leads some critics to think of sexual representations as inherently aggressive. Others, noticing that most sexual representations contain no violence, condemn only those examples that mix the two. As Walter Kendrick has pointed out, pornography is not a thing but an argument.

To avoid contentiousness, some theorists prefer a neutral term such as sexual materials over the charged word pornography. In any case, only a few things seem clear. First, what seems pornographic to one person will not necessarily seem so to another. Second, pornography is not monolithic: representation occurs in many media, and it adopts many forms and genres. Third, no group, gendered or otherwise, has a monopoly on sexual expression or representation. Fourth, our social, esthetic, political, legal, and economic attitudes toward pornography both affect and draw on complex responses to gender and sexuality. Fifth, pornography, an attempt at communication, conveys a host of messages, many of them contradictory. Some of those messages, in fact, are ancient.

Contradictory messages? Ancient messages? Remember what Gloria Steinem said above.

Cosmo Great Female Sex Survey 2011
"being dominated" ranks as your top sexual fantasy—35% say it’s the sexual act you most often fantasize about.

Psychology Today - Jan 14/2010
Women's Rape Fantasies: How Common? What Do They Mean? by Michael Castleman
Rape or near-rape fantasies are central to romance novels, one of the perennial best-selling categories in fiction. These books are often called "bodice-rippers" and have titles like Love's Sweet Savage Fury, which imply at least some degree of force. In them, a handsome cad becomes so overwhelmed by his attraction to the heroine that he loses all control and must have her, even if she refuses--which she does initially, but then eventually melts into submission, desire, and ultimately fulfillment.

Romance novels are often called "porn for women." Porn is all about sexual fantasies. In porn for men, the fantasy is sexual abundance--eager women who can't get enough and have no interest in a relationship. In porn for women as depicted in romance novels, the fantasy is to be desired so much that the man loses all control, though he never actually hurts the woman, and in the end, marries her.

Feminist Focus
Rape is bad. But when Gloria Steinem looks at pornography, is she correctly interpreting what she's sees? Christian and Anastasia are having sex. Oh hell, they're f**kin'. Is he raping her? Is he dominating her? Is he doing something the purveyors of all things moral should be rallying against? The series has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. (Wikipedia)

Andrea Rita Dworkin (September 26, 1946 – April 9, 2005) was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women. (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia: Andrea Dworkin: Intercourse
In 1987, Dworkin published Intercourse, in which she extended her analysis from pornography to sexual intercourse itself, and argued that the sort of sexual subordination depicted in pornography was central to men's and women's experiences of heterosexual intercourse in a male supremacist society. In the book, she argues that all heterosexual sex in our patriarchal society is coercive and degrading to women, and sexual penetration may by its very nature doom women to inferiority and submission, and "may be immune to reform."

Think about what Ms. Dworkin has proposed. The very act of sexual penetration itself subjugates women. This takes feminist analysis to the height of absurdity. This applies a personal interpretation to life which is not reflective of reality. A bolt was designed to fit in a nut. The bolt does not subjugate the nut. A penis was designed to fit in a vagina. The penis does not subjugate the vagina. Yin and yang are two parts of a whole. There is no subjugation. There is synergy.

As a further FYI, I would add that studies have shown that as the availability of porn goes up, the rate of sex crimes go down.

"I do not believe that this research [The Meese Report] demonstrates that pornography causes rape. ... In general the scientific evidence clearly indicates that if one is concerned with the effects of media on rape, the problem lies in the prevalence of violence in the media, not on sex in the media."
-Murray Strauss, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director, Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire

If convicted mass murderer Ted Bundy had said that watching Bill Cosby reruns motivated his awful crimes, he would have been dismissed as a deranged sociopath. Instead, Bundy has said his pornography addiction made him do it--which many people treated as the conclusion of a thoughtful social scientist. Why?
-Dr. Marty Klein, Why “Sexual Addiction” Is Not A Useful Diagnosis — And Why It Matters

Visual vs. Literary
It is ofttimes said that men are visual and women are cerebral. Men are turned on visually while women are turned on verbally. Is this genetic or is this social conditioning? After all, in our culture women have been taught to repress their sexuality out of fear of being labelled the S word. (Hello, Rush Limbaugh!) Does a good book about f**kin' hit home better than a video clip of f**kin'? On top of it, a good back story allows for a justification to avoid all those nasty social condemnations like the S word.

Could I say that erotica is literary and pornography is visual?

On a related matter, men are taught to repress their sensuality. We guys have to be tough and unemotional. Why? Part of the caveman act?

Social conditioning has affected both genders. Women are taught to repress their sexuality while men are taught to repress their sensuality.

Final Word
Final? Heck, I could go on and on and on. And I have elsewhere on this blog. There will be no resolution to this question. The answer, if there could possibly be one definite answer, is currently left up to the individual in question. The answer is personal. The answer is taste. The answer is based on your childhood, your religion, your education, your experience, your parents, your community, your peer group, the news, and social media.

There is no doubt that for some, maybe for a lot, the word pornography has taken on a meaning representative of all that is bad about sex and relationships. Certainly the grievances enumerated by Gloria Steinem have marked the feminist movement. But Ms. Steinem's preference for erotica tells me she is not against sex per se.

I am convinced that at the heart of it all, everybody would like to have a wonderful relationship and great sex. Now how to get there is open to interpretation and what constitutes a wonderful relationship and great sex varies from person to person. We all are very much a product of our environment but that doesn't mean our environment has been the best and left us as well-adjusted, clear-thinking, and fair-minded individuals. We may demonstrate a spot of the quirky. We may be a tad off of centre. We may very well be shy, confused, and ill-informed. Doesn't this seem more like a recipe for disaster?

Here's hoping we all figure it out. Good luck with your porn... ah, erotica? Oh heck, with your "sexual materials."


Erotica is read with two hands. Porn is read with one.

my blog: Pornography: What is it?
I know it when I see it. — Justice Potter Stewart

my blog: Pornography: Defended by... what!?! Feminists?
Wendy McElroy, Nadine Strossen, Candida Royale, Gloria Steinem

Wikipedia: I know it when I see it
The phrase "I know it when I see it" is a colloquial expression by which a speaker attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly defined parameters. The phrase was famously used in this sense by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to describe his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964). In this case obscenity was protected speech under the Roth test, and could not therefore be censored.

Wikipedia: Erika Lust
Erika Lust (Born 1977 in Stockholm as Erika Hallqvist) is a Swedish screenplay writer, director, producer and author. She is a pioneer of feminist pornography. She lives and works in Barcelona.

Published on Dec 21, 2012 by selfservetoys
Erika Lust- Erotica v Porn
Erika Lust of Lust films discusses the language of porn vs. erotica. Erika is an award-winning, feminist filmmaker that creates aesthetic, sensual, erotic independent adult cinema. Interview by Molly Adler of


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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost your way
War, children, it's just a shot away

It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away


Uploaded on Oct 5, 2009 by ReinaldoUPR

Wikipedia: Gimme Shelter
"Gimme Shelter" is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones. It first appeared as the opening track on the band's 1969 album Let It Bleed. Although the first word was spelled "Gimmie" on that album, subsequent recordings by the band and other musicians have made "Gimme" the customary spelling. The Rolling Stones first played the song live at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO on 7 November 1969. Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone, once said of it, "The Stones have never done anything better."

Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone,

"Well, it's a very rough, very violent era," said Richards. Vietnam War. "Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense..." As for the song itself, he concluded, "That's a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It's apocalypse; the whole record's like that."

Similarly, on NPR in 2012:
"It was a very moody piece about the world closing in on you a bit ... When it was recorded, early '69 or something, it was a time of war and tension, so that's reflected in this tune. It's still wheeled out when big storms happen, as they did the other week [during Hurricane Sandy]. It's been used a lot to evoke natural disaster."

Wikipedia: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are a British rock band formed in London in 1962... Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list... In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked the Rolling Stones at number ten on "The Billboard Top All-Time Artists" and as the second most successful group in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Wikipedia: Gimme Shelter (1970 film)
Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin chronicling the last weeks of The Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after "Gimme Shelter", the lead track from the group's 1969 album Let It Bleed.

Wikipedia: Altamont Free Concert
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was an infamous rock concert held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in northern California... It featured, in order of appearance: Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue. "That's the way things went at Altamont—so badly that the Grateful Dead, prime organizers and movers of the festival, didn't even get to play," staff at Rolling Stone magazine wrote in a detailed narrative on the event, terming it in an additional follow-up piece "rock and roll's all-time worst day, December 6th, a day when everything went perfectly wrong."

Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a "Woodstock West." Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into a documentary film titled Gimme Shelter (1970). The event is best known for having been marred by considerable violence, including the death of Meredith Hunter and three accidental deaths: two caused by a hit-and-run car accident and one by drowning in an irrigation canal. Four births were reported during the event. Scores were injured, numerous cars were stolen and then abandoned, and there was extensive property damage.


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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Movie Review: World War Z

Zombies, love'em or hate'em. I've been through a few Resident Evil films, a post-apocalyptic view of the future. I laughed at the 2009 comedy Zombieland with Woody Harrelson. I watched the end of life as we know it in 28 Days. But I'm not a true aficionado. If I run down a list of all the zombie films ever made; I haven't see very many of them at all. However, I do see one glaring omission if I look at the entirety of the zombie opus: no Brad Pitt. Well, consider that oversight now remedied.

The film has the same name as the 2006 book by Max Brooks. For some reason I haven't yet discovered, the screenplay for the film is apparently different from the book. Unfortunately, I haven't read the book so can't give any insightful comparisons but have noted over the years that filmmakers sometimes feel their version of the story works better on screen than the book. Go figure. Maybe painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa would improve Da Vinci's masterpiece.

With a budget of $200 million, the film certainly aims to bring something to a genre which stretches back decades usually in the form of a low budget B horror film. While there are plenty of run-ins with the walking dead, the film does portray the breakdown of society. How quickly we go from working together to every man for himself. Okay, zombies might be a little far-fetched but the idea of a pandemic is not unbelievable. During the 1300's the Black Death in Europe killed an estimated one hundred million people. Between 1500 and 1900, 95% of the Native American population was wiped out by smallpox, measles, typhoid, etc. In the 1918 flu pandemic, 75 million were killed worldwide. AIDS, starting in 1981, is now estimated to have killed 25 million.

Center for Disease Control
If you are unfamiliar with the term zombie apocalypse... Wait. You're not familiar with this term? Holy cow, I would have thought it had entered mainstream media and everybody was using this as something of a humorous slant on a potentially bad situation. Back in May, 2011, The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted a blog entry entitled "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" written by Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan, Director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. The purpose of this tongue-in-cheek metaphor was to raise public awareness about emergency preparedness.

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency. -Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan

Khan goes on to compare the up-coming hurricane season and possible pandemics to this end of civilisation scenario and says that answering the question "How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?", the CDC wants to share tips about preparing for real emergencies too.

Amusingly enough, the posting of the CDC blog occurred just a few days before May 21, 2011, the date predicted by the evangelist Harold Camping as the beginning of the end. (see my blog: May 21: The End of the World (Afterword May 22)) Obviously, Mr. Camping's prognostication did not come true but the media coverage certainly generated a lot of interest in the CDC preparedness blog. A sharp increase in Internet traffic supposedly crashed the CDC web site!

Back to Brad and the Story
Oops. I forgot to review the movie. Ha, ha! Pitt plays the part of a hero, and here I mean that in two ways. Yes, he saves the day but his character is the devoted father of two young daughters, the loving husband who has three ladies in his life and who would do anything to protect his family. If you're a woman reading this, you may now swoon. If you're guy, smarten up.

I suppose this film provides a few details about this zombie infection that struck me, at least, as new. While the direct transfer of blood seems to be the method of infection, the time to be transformed into a zombie can be as little as twenty seconds to ten minutes. In one scene (spoiler alert) a soldier gets bitten in the hand and Pitt, after a moment's hesitation, severs her hand with a chop from a large knife. Yes, she loses a hand but she doesn't transform.

Zombies seem to be hell bent on spreading the infection, that is, biting and infecting healthy human beings. Pitt notices that zombies sometimes ignore certain people and begins to speculate the zombies sense those people are unhealthy in some way. (Oops, another spoiler alert.)

When not running around attacking other people, zombies become dormant. They stand about moving little, and will only jump into action is they sense a healthy human being or hear a noise. Hmmm, doesn't the engine need fuel? Don't they have to eat something? Yes, they are supposedly cannibalistic but does this mean they eat each other?

The horror genre is a niche market. You've got to be something of an adrenaline junkie to enjoy getting the bejesus scared out of you. I'm not. I seat in the theatre trying not to jump out of my seat by repeatedly saying to myself, "The monster is going to come out now! ... Okay, now!" Sometimes it works; many times it doesn't and usually whoever is sitting beside me has a good laugh when I jerk in my chair. Yes, I'm hilarious. (Read more about me, the funny scaredy-cat, at another horror film: Movie Review: Prometheus (plus a recap of a few things Alien))

Final Word
I walked up to the counter to purchase my ticket and said, "I'm Canadian and I insist on saying World War Zed." The lady gave me an appreciative chuckle which was much better than the occasional nervous laugh I get meaning something like, "I wonder if he's out on a day pass and might be dangerous."

This film is well done; it's a good piece of craftsmanship. But it is a horror film so you have to have a special (read quirky) taste for this sort of thing. I have heard the book is quite original so if you end up seeing the movie and reading the book, be prepared for two different things. Good luck to us all for the zombie apocalypse. Don't forget, you should always go for a shot to the head.


Rotten Tomatoes: World War Z: 67%
It's uneven -- and fans of the book may be annoyed by how thoroughly it diverges from the source material -- but World War Z still brings smart, fast-moving thrills and a solid performance from Brad Pitt to the zombie genre.

Wikipedia: World War Z (film)
World War Z is a 2013 apocalyptic action horror film directed by Marc Forster. The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a retired U.N. employee who must travel the world to find a way to stop a zombie pandemic.

Wikipedia: World War Z (book)
World War Z is a 2006 apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks. It is a follow-up to his 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Rather than a grand overview or narrative, World War Z is a collection of individual accounts, wherein Brooks plays the role of an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission one decade after the story's Zombie War. Other passages record a decade-long war against zombies, as experienced by people of various nationalities. The personal accounts also describe the religious, geo-political, and environmental changes that resulted from the Zombie War.

Similar in style to Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka, World War Z was inspired by The Good War, an oral history of World War II by Studs Terkel, and by the zombie films of George A. Romero. Brooks used World War Z to comment on government ineptitude and American isolationism, while also examining survivalism and uncertainty. Critics have praised the novel for reinventing the zombie genre; the audiobook version, performed by a full cast including Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, and John Turturro, won an Audie Award in 2007.

Wikipedia: List of zombie films
The following is a list of zombie featured films or list of zombie movies with non low-budget. Zombies are creatures usually portrayed as either reanimated corpses or mindless human beings, in both cases cannibalistic.

Urban Dictionary: zombie
The Walking Dead. Scientific name Homo Coprophagus Somnambulus.

Urban Dictionary: Zombie Apocalypse
1. Zombie Apocalypse
A party or gathering at which a large group of elderly people will get up and shuffle around under the guise of dancing. [Ha, ha, ha!]

The Straight Dope
Why do the British pronounced the letter Z "zed"?
As usual in most of these matters, it's we the people of the US that changed it, not the other way around. "Zed" comes from the original Greek zeta via Old French zede, and pretty much all English speakers worldwide pronounce it that way.

Published on Sep 17, 2013 by Screen Junkies
Honest Trailers - World War Z
Ha ha ha


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Saturday, 22 June 2013

New Radicals: You Get What You Give

Wake up kids
We've got the dreamers disease
Age 14 we got you down on your knees
So polite, we're busy still saying please
Fri-enemies, who when you're down ain't your friend
Every night we smash their Mercedes-Benz
First we run and then we laugh till we cry

But when the night is falling
You cannot find the light
If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight
You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget we only get what we give

Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile
We're flat broke but hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God's flying in for your trial

But when the night is falling
You cannot find a friend
If you feel your dream is breaking
Just mend

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget we only get what we give

This whole damn world can fall apart
You'll be ok follow your heart
You're in harm's way
I'm right behind
Now say you're mine

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget we only get what we give

Don't let go
I feel the music in you

Fly high
What's real can't die
You only get what you give
Just don't be afraid to leave

Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion shoots with Beck, Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You're all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We'll kick your ass in!

Don't let go
One dance left


Uploaded on Oct 8, 2009 by NewRadicalsVEVO

Wikipedia: You Get What You Give
"You Get What You Give" is a song by the New Radicals. It was an international hit, the first and most successful single from their album Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. It reached No. 30 on Billboard Hot 100 Airplay in January 1999, No. 36 on the overall Hot 100 and No. 8 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. It reached No. 5 in the United Kingdom and No. 1 in Canada and New Zealand.

Music video
The music video for "You Get What You Give" was filmed in the Staten Island Mall, New York and directed by Evan Bernard. New Radicals' front man Gregg Alexander said he chose this setting because he sees the shopping mall as a metaphor for society—a fake, controlled environment engineered to encourage spending. The video showed a group of teenagers led by Alexander, going through the mall wreaking havoc—tossing nets on security guards, placing businessmen in animal cages, knocking over merchandise, hijacking Lambrettas, and moshing in the foodcourt.

Wikipedia: Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too
Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too is the debut album by the New Radicals, released in late 1998 by MCA Records. Two singles were released off it in 1998 and 1999, "You Get What You Give" and "Someday We'll Know".

Wikipedia: New Radicals
New Radicals (stylized as Иew Radicals) were an American alternative rock band active for only two years between 1997 and 1999. The band centered on frontman Gregg Alexander, who wrote and produced all of their songs and was the sole constant member. They released one album, 1998's Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, an alternative album heavily influenced by the rock and soul of the 1970s, containing—among radio-friendly modern rock tracks and love songs—strong criticism of corporate America.


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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Twitter: #AdultSexEdMonth

Update for 2014

This hashtag, this movement, this interactive community of bloggers is the brainchild of @GoodDirtyWoman, creator of the web site "A Good Woman's Dirty Mind", further defined as "erotic stories, pleasures in photography, relationship ramblings, seductive soundtracks & seriously sexy fun." This writer of erotic stories (first book published on Smashwords) and blogger and tweeter extraordinaire, describes herself in her About: "Who am I?"

Me? I could be any woman. Possibly the woman you pass by on the street without giving her a second look or a second thought.

Actually, I prefer things that way.


I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I have a professional life that’s semi high-profile. I have a deep and sensuous carnal side that few have understood and respected - one in particular - and he’d like to keep his private, too. But I’m an also bit of an exhibitionist with thoughts to share in a way that I hope to change the world in the way we treat women and value sex and sexual relationships.

In her blog posting "June is Adult Sex Ed Month (#AdultSexEdMonth)", she explains this online campaign via the Twitter hashtag:

Hooray! It’s June!

I get especially frisky and I’m always looking for ways to amp up my sexual repertoire and enjoy sex more than usual this time of year.

I also get frustrated when I read a lot of misinformation and lack of information about particular sex topics.

That’s why I’m taking part in an online campaign to promote Adult Sex Ed Month (#AdultSexEdMonth).

She goes on to list the numerous contributors to this June campaign on Twitter. As I scan down the dozens of names, I see numerous people working in the area of sex education including a Ph.D. and a M.Ed. plus a few titles of Dr.'s. This is a distinguished crowd. (I have no idea how my name got on the list.)

During the month of June, it has been fascinating to read the myriad of tweets with 140 characters of facts and opinion about this most primordial and personal of the human experience, sex. As well, there have been links to full-blown articles expounding on theory and practice for the development and perfecting of said experience. Good knowledge leads to good sex. Great knowledge leads to, well, the sky's the limit. It is, in a way, quite startling to see the number of contributions, the level of expertise, and the willingness to share with others what is, for the most part, one of the most misunderstood and vilified aspects of the human condition. America, more so than other countries, is the bastion of all things puritanical and its public persona is one as pure as driven snow, that is, nonsexual. The comedian George Carlin noted decades ago that in media, it is far worse to have sex with someone than to kill them.

A TV network censored a sequence of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, which showed a mare giving birth, but broadcast the rather hideous sequence from The Godfather showing a beheaded horse.
- Youth, Sex and the Media, CyberCollege

An Example about the Polarization of Sex
@TheCSPH, The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was founded by Megan Andelloux, a "sexologist and sex educator". I won't go into all of this woman's accomplishments but suffice it to say, she merits an entry in Wikipedia.

On June 18, 2013, @TheCSPH tweeted:

Make a point of teaching your kids about masturbation & genital self-esteem, they'll appreciate it #AdultSexEdMonth

The link takes you to a YouTube video produced by the CSPH with the description:

Use Your Words! is a Sex Positive series for parents who want to talk with their kids about sexuality in a fun, honest, healthy and comfortable way. In this episode, Melissa provides some conversation starters for talking with your teens about masturbation and shares some masturbation facts.

This all seems perfectly normal as if Melissa was discussing something mundane like don't eat junk food, get plenty of sleep, or exercise regularly.

During the 2011 Republican campaign to select the GOP candidate to run against Barak Obama and during the campaign leading up to the 2012 election, I wrote a number of articles detailing how the far right of political spectrum was promoting a vision of America which was Conservative, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-sex, anti-woman, and patriarchal. I reported on the various candidates and laid out the details of the Republican party platform. With links to my articles, I tweeted more than once, "Ladies, vote Republican and kiss your vagina good-bye."

In my posting "Planned Parenthood: addicting children to sex!!!", I describe how the pro-life organisation American Life League views sex as only for procreation and anything which interferes with procreation such as condoms, birth control, IUDs, etc. is verboten. They have put Planned Parenthood in their sights as enemy number one in their campaign to bring their vision of a moral America back to Americans everywhere. Sex education? Never! Abstinence is the only way.

In direct contrast to the above video about masturbation, ALL published a YouTube video "Hooking Kids on Sex II" comparing Planned Parenthood to a neighbourhood drug pusher trying to get children addicted to sex. PP's "gateway drug" is masturbation and that's how PP gets kids drawn in and hooked.

Are these two videos representative of both ends of the political, social, and sexual spectrums in society? Is this the fight raging in America over the future of our bodies? Is sex a disgusting, vile, sinful weakness or is it a God-given right for every human being? Is pleasure bad or good?

On June 13, 2013, HuffPost Live presented "Ageless Sex" to answer the questions, "Are couples ever too old for sex? If you're healthy and capable, is there any reason people well into their 80's shouldn't have a sex life? How do older couples keep love alive?" (A recorded version of the 20 minute program is still available online) It is thought-provoking to hear a panel of people all over the age of 50 (some over 60) talking about sex openly and freely as a wonderful part of their lives. There is no shame; there is no embarrassment. This is my right and God damn it, I'm going to enjoy myself. In reference to the question of masturbation, Joan Price, author of several books about sex and aging, reminded everyone to "use it or lose it." Yes, even when you're alone, you have to work out. If you don't stay in shape, someday you may not be ready when opportunity knocks.

Final Word
I have always found it odd how we live for the most part alone, not necessarily in contact with the rest of the world. As a consequence, we may not quite know what's normal or not; what's acceptable or not. The "public face" of society is not necessarily what's truly going on in society. Oh, we may get whiffs of other things but we do not know for sure. Then one day, you run into somebody, or a group, or even the hashtag #AdultSexEdMonth and you become startled at an aspect of life you may not have fully appreciated existed.

In 2011, I followed the campaigns of the various GOP candidates vying to become the Republican presidential hopeful. One of them, Michele Bachmann had come out strongly against homosexuality. In fact, her husband ran a treatment facility based on the idea homosexuality was a disease and could be cured.

During a few of Bachmann's public speeches, a young man, a gay young man from her home state, interrupted the proceedings to shout out how Bachmann's ideas were making life intolerable in his own home town. It occurred to me that if this man moved to, let's say, San Francisco, a more gay-friendly community, he could live openly as a homosexual and nobody would look askance. In other words, this man being sick was not based on anything objective, it was based on the company he was keeping. Change the crowd he hung around with and he would became normal.

Hang around in the puritan atmosphere of the far right, follow the ideas of the American Life League, and you are doomed to a life of shame and guilt over a part of the human experience which is as natural as any one of a number of bodily functions. Every month should be #AdultSexEdMonth. (Hats off to Ms. Quote, @GoodDirtyWoman.)

Postscript: 2014
Ms. Quote has been laying the groundwork for the new year and what's looks like will become an annual event. Sign up, follow, like, but stay in touch for an interesting month and an interesting year. Let's collectively work towards making a better society for ourselves. Sex is nothing to be ashamed about. It is an integral and important part of the human experience. Let's make that experience as wonderful as possible for everyone.

blog: Adult Sex Ed Month

Facebook: Adult Sex Ed Month

Twitter: Adult Sex Ed Month


I have written a number of articles about politics, sex and relationships, and women's issues. Click on Site Map at the top and bottom of any page of my blog to see a full listing. As an aside, be patient. I like to be detailed and can get wordy.

Specific references for this article? There are a zillion of 'em. But the best place to start is at the beginning and that would be Ms. Quote.

June is Adult Sex Ed Month (#AdultSexEdMonth) by Ms. Quote (@GoodDirtyWoman)
Other writers, bloggers, podcasters, sex professionals and sexual health professionals participating in #AdultSexEdMonth include...

Adult Sex Ed Month Stories by Topic by Ms. Quote (@GoodDirtyWoman)

Twitter: #AdultSexEdMonth

Let’s Talk About Sex … Like This by Ms. Quote (@GoodDirtyWoman)
[Ms. Quote talks about The CSPH and HuffPost Live. I mention above.]
When I came up with the idea for Adult Sex Ed Month (#AdultSexEdMonth), one of the main things I wanted to do was to open up communication about sex … how we talk about it and how we learn about it. What I didn’t expect was to see some of the best examples come from the youngest and oldest adults in online conversations.

Info for Teens: Myths and Facts About Masturbation by Planned Parenthood
[video: 20 questions in 60 seconds: We all should watch this!]
Masturbation. Most people do it — yet so many people worry about doing it! That's because there are a lot of myths out there that masturbation is dirty, dangerous, or something to be embarrassed about doing.

my blog: Michele Bachmann: the next president of the WTH!?! (July 2011)
Ms. Bachmann has now signed a pledge (Washington Post) written by a socially-conservative advocacy group in Iowa called the Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats, an unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidate and evangelical Christian leader in Iowa. The pledge “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family” endorses the view that homosexuality is a choice rather than a biological trait. It condemns adultery, “quickie divorce,” infidelity, pornography, cohabitation and Islamic sharia law. It also suggests that more African-American children are born out of wedlock now than they were under slavery. By signing this document, Ms. Bachmann is certainly declaring to the world her stance on a number of issues.

my blog: Whether I'm crazy or not depends on the company I keep
Alan and I spent quite a bit of time together in high school. We chummed around, talked about chicks, did all the normal stuff guys do in high school. We went to concerts, drank beer at pub night and even played in a rock band together. When high school was over, we both went our separate ways. From time to time over the years, we might have caught one another at Christmas but other than that, we never saw each other.

Twenty-five years later I had an opportunity to visit with him just six months before he died from AIDS. He was married. He had children. How? At this time, dementia had partially set in and it was somewhat difficult to talk with him but I did manage to surmise the whole story. Alan and I had grown up in an environment and an era where homosexuality just did not exist. I am convinced he hid this from me, his friends and probably his entire family. He had lived a lie his entire life but sometime towards the end, the repressed part of his life pushed him to be reckless. He paid for it with his life.


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Monday, 17 June 2013

Health: Exercise, Kinesiology, and Trying to find my Groove

When I run across the expression "in the groove" or "finding your groove", I can't help thinking of the 1998 film "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" based on the book by Terry McMillian. I'm old enough to remember when "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" first came out by Simon & Garfunkel. (1966!) However, the connection between groove and health isn't for me just about a state of mind, it is about a body part, the bicipital groove.

One of the many self-infected injuries of last year involved yanking one of the tendons in my left arm out of place. It was out of place for months without me knowing about the injury but more importantly, my G.P. and another doctor in emergency, while correctly determining I had not torn my rotator cuff, failed to diagnose this little problem, the subluxation of the tendon. Subluxation is a medical term meaning out of place.

How did this happen? Surprise, surprise, this problem turns out to more common than I had imagined. Baseball players, weight lifters, tennis players, golfers, etc. all may be susceptible to this injury. When you lift something, the biceps are contracting to bend the arm. Lift something too heavy or stretch the arm too far and there is the risk the tendon is either pulled out of its proper position or the tendon could be damaged or detached. Ouch. My research has shown that with age, body parts like tendons may deteriorate and suddenly and unexpectedly problems crop up where once there were none. One day, you're on a trip and you reach up to the overhead storage to get your carry on bag and your tendon pops out or worse, you tear it. Ouch again.

The biceps muscle, as the name implies, consist of two heads. The lower part is joined to the forearm by a single tendon attached to the radius. (There are two bones in the forearm: the radius and the ulna.) The upper part splits into two parts with the long head and the short head connecting the muscle to the shoulder. The short head crosses in front of the shoulder joint while the long head sits in the bicipital groove of the upper end of the humerus, the single bone of the upper arm. You see what happens? You have a health issue and you learn all sorts of things about medical science that believe me, you really would have liked to skip.

The Magician
Before this past year, the quintessential life upset, I was gloriously blessed with good health. I was traipsing through life ignorant of most things medical. Have yourself an issue, like a really big honkin' issue and you start finding out about things you didn't even know existed.

Landon, the kinesiologist, had me put my arm out straight then bend it at the elbow pointing up. He pushed my elbow slightly inwards (abduction) so my forearm was at a bit of an angle, then pushed down on my arm close to the elbow. I couldn't resist his pushing and my arm easily fell. He dug his fingertips into the front of my shoulder and felt around. Telling me to take a deep breath, Landon pulled something. I didn't feel any pain.

Landon retested my arm. This time, I could resist him pushing down on my arm. In fact, he couldn't push my arm down. It felt like my strength had shot up a thousand percent. I was stunned.

It turns out that kinesiology is the study of the body movements, the mechanics of the body. Our bodies are, after all, machines. They are biological machines. We don't consist of gears and levers per se, but we do have component parts that mesh together to work as a cohesive whole. Landon works to get the various parts of the machine back in working order.

If I have learned one thing in going to see Landon, it's that we all may be suffering from mechanical problems but don't know it. My tendon being out of the bicipital groove? I had no idea. I carried on living my life but was completely unaware that something was wrong. Landon explained that our bodies will attempt to heal themselves and do a pretty good job at it. However, from time to time, it can't quite heal itself so it will then adapt to the condition. We may have tendons out of place or bones not quite seated properly and yet we continue to live our lives. We may suffer from odd pains. We may have a certain weakness in a limb. But overall, it isn't enough to completely stop us from going about our day. Of course, these problems over the course of years may eventually grow into something more substantial but for the moment, out of sheer ignorance, we may be unaware of the gravity of the situation. Then again, even if we think something is wrong, who to you go to who can knowledgeably assess and deal with the issue?

In the past year, I have visited a number of professionals (neurologist, sports medicine specialist, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist) and walked away with an incomplete diagnosis or gone through an ineffectual remedial treatment. If anything, my injury has shown me in a frightening manner that getting my body back into shape has for the most part been left up to my body to heal itself. If I thought I was going to walk into a doctor's office, undergo some treatment, then walk out a well man, I was dreaming in Technicolour. It's been over a year and I am still fighting to get back on my feet. I may have stopped taking pain medication on a daily basis last August, but regaining my mobility and my strength has turned into some sort of rest of my life health plan.

On top of it, I do not know how much of a factor my age is. Landon tells me to not worry about the aches and pains of exercising or doing stuff as it is all perfectly normal. Sounds good but Landon is 35 and I'm 60. Does he heal better and faster than me? But more importantly, I have worked out all my life. I'm not a health nut but I have always exercised, stretched, and jogged for over 45 years. I know the difference between your normal aches and pains and something which is an injury. Unfortunately, this time around injury has manifested itself as something very very substantial and very very persistent. As I said, I have suffered from good health all my life. What a surprise to have an injury which lasts longer than a week or two.

The longest I have ever been out of commission was when I was 18-years-old and broke a bone in my foot. I had to wear a cast for six weeks. My current condition started on April 7, 2012 and I am still dealing with the fallout. (I would trade this past year for six weeks in a cast any day of the week!) Then again, I've wondered if this is really the fallout of my original injury or if this is the accumulation of a lifetime of living. I've heard tell that everyone can look forward to health issues later in life and maybe, at the age of 60, this is my later in life.

Honestly though, I don't feel 60 and I don't feel old. (What the hell does old feel like anyway?) Once in a while, I have a feel good moment and I say that I'm firing on all cylinders. The other week I did my isometric exercises, did a resistance band routine, went to the gym and lifted weights then ran three kilometres. That was a euphoric moment when I said to myself that I felt great and everything was close to being back to normal. Now my right shoulder is mucked up and I've had to stop all weight training and my left knee is wrecked and I'm having trouble walking never mind jogging. Gee-sus H. K-rist. One step forward, two steps back.

I concluded a couple of weeks ago that I am not completely out of the woods. I booked therapy sessions once a week for the next two months in an effort to deal with these issues and ensure that my body remains in good condition. Health is everything and health has turned into my number one preoccupation or should I say obsession? Without health, you can't do jack squat. I'm willing to exercise. I'm not asking for a free ride. I am not expecting a miracle drug, a one-shot treatment, or somebody waving a magic wand. I am willing to work. But most importantly, I want hope. I would like the idea, however slim, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train.

Psychology and Health
Is our mental well-being connected to our health? If you are suffering from issues, even illness, are you feeling good? I mean are you happy?

I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious. The answer is a resounding no. Ever since my own health issue cropped up, I can emphatically state that my quality of life dropped off considerably. Living wasn't fun; living was hell. Chronic pain meant that each day was an ordeal, not something to look forward to. Even though I'm much, much better, I am still having on-going issues which weigh heavily on me.

2013. Spring. The start of jogging season. As I have done for decades, I start slowly with the idea of building myself up to my usual summer routine of doing my route of 5.5 kilometres (3.42 miles). I get up to a couple of clicks (kilometres) and am feeling good about my progress when my left knee starts to act up and I have to stop.

I work out with resistance bands for four months and am feeling great. I'm making progress; I'm ready for the next step, so I join a gym to start doing weights. I don't know what I've done to my right shoulder but I have pulled the biceps tendon out of place three times in the past two months. I go back to only doing isometric exercises but I keep feeling bones clicking in my shoulder. My left shoulder, the one I hurt last year, is oddly in great shape and seems to be working one hundred percent correctly. Now it's my right shoulder which is misbehaving. Even though I've had the tendon put back in place, bones are still clicking. Is something else out of place?

One step forward and two steps back. I feel I'm making progress and move to the next step then end up with something else happening and I have to stop. It's depressing.

Last year, at the height of my troubles, I couldn't walk thirty feet without feeling pain. Going to the store or walking to work was a painful chore. I remember looking out the window and seeing people go jogging by. I couldn't do that. Hell, I couldn't even go for a stroll.

I get back out jogging and wham, my left knee goes out and I have to stop.

I get to the gym then my right shoulder goes out and I have to stop.

It's depressing. Sometimes I'm sitting in my apartment all by myself, all bummed out, and I could cry. On-going work problems, turning sixty and feeling old, going through a bad divorce, then having a health issue unlike anything I have ever experienced before which essentially socks me in the jaw and knocks me to the ground adds up to a pretty full plate.

My uncle Bradley is 98 years old. He has so many health issues, it's not funny. Heck, he's 98! Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live but it has turned out the cancer is very very slow moving. His doctors say that it's a miracle he's still alive. But according to my cousin, his son, Bradley has said many times that he's tired and wants to go. He's had his time and now it's over.

I know from experience that when your health goes in the toilet, your sense of well-being takes a nose dive. You don't necessarily have the energy to carry on. Your will to survive is directly connected by your physical ability to survive. Get tired physically and you get tired mentally.

For me though, I always remember some wise words from my father: sleep on it. Get a good night's rest then look at things in the morning. Invariably you look at it with a renewed vigour. Surprising or maybe not so surprisingly not being tired does make it a little easier to carry on the good fight. But in carrying on the good fight do I have to start consider making changes?

Two years ago, I stretched, did sit-ups and push-ups, put on my running shoes and went out and jogged five kilometres (3 miles) without thinking about it. That was normal. I did all that without incident.

Now? I am so hyper-aware of my body and every single ache and pain, I wonder if I'm ever going to return to the way I was just two years ago. I have had moments when I was "firing on all cylinders" but then keep hitting these stumbling blocks.

Years ago, I heard tell that later in life people become preoccupied with health. I see why now. The joke was that sooner or later the wheels start falling off the wagon and I am now wondering, no I'm scared, that this is what's happening to me. Is there anything I can do about it? Hell, I thought I was in half decent shape. Most of the horror stories I've heard are based on people not taking care of themselves. Then again, is this all a sign of age? A couple of years ago I heard the story of a 72-year-old man who played squash on a regular basis and had never had any sign of heart problems. His doctor gives him his regular check-up then the next thing this guy knows, he's in having a triple by-pass. Go figure.

Final Word
I don't actually have a final word. I think it's more of an on-going word. I am willing to do the work. I will do the exercises. All I need is for the mechanics to work right. I need tendons to stay in their grooves and bones to remain properly seated. I will do the work; you body parts just stay in position.

Last year, for about eight months in a row, I slept on my right side curled up in a fetal position because that was the only position which was pain free or almost pain free. Sometime in December, I remember returning to sleeping as I had before my injury. I rolled over on my back. I rolled over on my left side. I laid on my stomach. I swished my legs and arms between the sheets all over my bed. I was mobile and I was pain-free. It was a glorious moment of enjoying clean sheets and stretching all of my limbs to the four corners on the bed. It was a simple pleasure but one which I now savour each and every time as a precious experience in life. Lose something and realise how important it is.

Health is everything. Wishing you good health.


Wikipedia: Kinesiology
Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics, is the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms. Applications of kinesiology to human health include: biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise.

Wikipedia: Applied Kinesiology
Applied kinesiology (AK) is a pseudoscientific technique in alternative medicine claimed to be able to diagnose illness or choose treatment by testing muscles for strength and weakness. Current evidence does not support the use of applied kinesiology for diagnosis of any illness.

my blog: Health: One Year Later, One Year Lost
April 7, 2012, this is the red letter day in my personal annals marking the worst physical injury of my entire life. At the one year anniversary, I am much much better, thank you very much, but I am still trying to climb out of the hole and still have a way to go.


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