Author: Dr. John

XXX-Box

Is the overuse of video games and online porn causing the demise of guys, asks Psychologist, Dr. Philip Zimbardo in his book, The Demise of Guys?   Researchers say yes, as young men become hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz.


Every compulsive gambler, alcoholic or drug addict will tell you that they want increasingly more of a game or drink or drug in order to get the same quality of buzz. But the tech buzz is different.  The gamer and porn addict wants new and different dopamine pushing stuff.  More of the same wears thin or is tolerated, and, according to Zimbardo, the consequences could be dramatic. The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-adverse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.

Young men — who play video games and use porn the most — are being digitally rewired – scary -  in a totally new way that demands constant stimulation. And those delicate, developing brains are being catered to by video games and porn-on-demand, with a click of the mouse, in endless variety.  In other words, there is no more waiting or earning time for reward.  So, the expectations, like the games and porn, are unrealistic.  Real life is swapped out for instant gratification.  Why date and chat and wait and beg, when – like in porn movies – the girl should just say, “Hiya,” and strip and lay down?  Why put up with a punk in school, when you can just aggressively take him out AND be rewarded?

In the zen teaching, we are instructed to cherish the present moment.  This new kind of human addictive arousal traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote as the present moment expands to dominate everything. That present scene is totally dynamic, with images changing constantly.  I don’t think that is what the zen masters had in mind.  But, who knows?  If the Buddha had porn or World of Warcraft at his disposal, who knows?  I do know that Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik reported during his trial that he prepared his mind and body for his marksman-focused shooting of 77 people by playing “World of Warcraft” for a year and then “Call of Duty” for 16 hours a day.  That alone, should be enough for any parent to take the XBox and set it on fire, kick the kid in the ass, and get him a job shoveling coal.

Haley Barbourous

One of the men controversially pardoned earlier this year by Mississippi’s outgoing governor could land back behind bars after being charged with driving drunk and causing an accident that killed an 18-year-old woman this past Thursday.  A Pontotoc County, Mississippi, grand jury has charged Harry Bostick with drunken driving leading to a death, felony drunken driving and fleeing the scene of an accident where a death occurred.

This guy, Harry Bostick, was convicted of felony drunken driving in 2009, just after having been convicted in 2008 – for drunken driving.  He was still going through a court mandated drug rehab program when he applied for his pardon last summer. On September 30, the Mississippi Parole Board sent its review of Bostick’s application to Barbour, recommending a full pardon in a 3-2 vote. Then… a week after Barbour let him loose, Bostick was again driving under the influence when he pulled out onto a highway and slammed into a car, killing Charity Smith.  Barbour had said that he wasn’t aware of Bostick’s October 2011 DUI arrest when he chose to pardon him.  But e-mails obtained by CNN show that the governor’s office did, in fact, know about it.  Amanda Jones, the governor’s chief counsel, and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann were told about the October car crash that killed Smith just days after it happened.
Jones and Hosemann were even urged by a lawyer in the firm that represented Bostick not to issue the pardon, according to the e-mails.

I tried looking up what some so-called experts had to say on Barbour’s move…Professors of American Studies and Political Science, Ex-Senators, and the like, and found nothing but standard jibber-jabber.  Liberals citing forgiveness, Conservatives saying Barbour’s career in politics is over.  LK and I feel that there is something stinky in Denmark – or in this case, Mississippi.  So, like Ex-State Senator, Jeff Smith said, “Do the pardons jeopardize public safety? We won’t know the answer to that unless we read about one of them in the newspaper someday.”  Well, there ya go, Jeff.  Read.  I will wait for someone to uncover the truth about the ex-Governor, and hope that in the meantime, no more of Haley’s pals go off.

Abbott (and Costello) Labs

Why is Abbott Labs, the monster pharmaceutical company, not being charged with crimes against humanity for mis-labeling Depakote?  I’ll try to cut through the technical stuff and make my point.

Depakote is a medication that has proven effective for seizure and also as a kind of leveling agent for the manic phase of Bipolar Depression.  However, Abbott admitted that from 1998 through 2006, it “maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the absence of credible scientific evidence that Depakote was safe and effective for that use.”  They also trained its sales force to promote the drug to health care providers and employees of nursing homes as better than anti psychotic drugs for controlling agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, and then went further and promoted the drug as a treatment for schizophrenia.

Though the company paid for two studies of the use of Depakote to treat schizophrenia, neither met the goals established for the study.
“When the second study failed to show proof of their claims, Abbott waited nearly two years to notify its own sales force about the study results and another two years to publish those results”.

During that time, the company continued to promote the drug for the treatment of schizophrenia.  Obviously, it didn’t work, and although no deaths were reported, there were cases of anorexia and dehydration and other side effects.

And what happened to these crooks?  Fines.  Big ones, but to a company with Abbott’s assets, the fines amount to couch change.  Plus, they are allowed to continue to sell their drugs through government programs! They targeted the weak and the helpless.  Nursing homes.  Elderly people, already vulnerable and unable to make clear decisions about their care, got fed junk meds.  And even the sharpest doctors rode along, cause it is the drug representative’s job to not only sell the stuff, but to present an honest and accurate picture of their product.

Since no one is going to do jail time, I suggest that the CEO, COO, and the whole top level crew of Abbott be canned.  That is the least that should happen, because we put our trust in these companies, and they , by putting profits ahead of patients, throw that trust back in our faces, risking the health of our loved ones.

Cerebrating Cinco De Mayo

Hey, everyone… it’s almost Cinco de Mayo!   Yeah. Time to get blasted and eat tacos and get blasted some more cause – well…it’s Cinco de Mayo!

No offense, but why the hell would I celebrate the Battle of Puebla? Yeah, that’s – I just looked it up – what all the commotion is about. Some battle between the Mexicans and the French. I’m Italian. Do I ask everyone to celebrate the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre? No. We celebrate that quietly, here by lining up 14 pieces of fish against a wall and then eating them while making Tommy Gun sounds with our mouths.

Seriously, that’s how stupid this sounds to me. We have Labor Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, Groundhog Day, April Fools Day, Patriot Day, Women’s Equality Day. We got days for it just being a day. Do we need a Mexico verses France Day? Really?

And how come we don’t have any Night Days? Halloween used to be a night thing, but because we are such a sick society, any parent with half a brain takes his kid out way before the sun goes down. I want a Night Day. I want a celebration that marks the onset of nighttime. No one sleeps during the day of Night Day, so that when night falls we can emerge zombie-like and crawl from bar to bar in a gleeful stupor celebrating the dark. Of course the Catholic Church will see this as some Satanic thing and ban Catholics from participating, but that will just make it more enticing. In fact, I suggest that all Catholics wear a big “C” on their chest during Night Day. This will entitle them to one free drink at any bar of their choice. Sweet!

Hey, then maybe we can follow this up with Buddha Day, where everyone hits the streets with their fat bellies hanging out. And Brain Dead Day where we drink beers until our teeth are numb and then fire calculus questions at one another.

I should be Secretary of Holidays. Yeah. Then, of course, there will be another reason for yet another Day. Hey, let’s party…it’s Secretary of Holidays Day!

The Tone of Timber

I have solved the great Zen riddle; if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did the tree really fall?  The answer is, if the tree didn’t fall on me, I don’t care.

That, I think, is the answer that works in the world that we inhabit.  How else do we make it through all of the incredible ugliness of what is all around us and not snap our collective noggins?  How do we sit through the recitation of horrors in the Charles Taylor trial?  How do we absorb the slaughter by Assad’s regime in Syria, as they actually make a game out of following the UN observers and popping off a fresh group of their own people as soon as the UN guys move to the next village?  The answer again…if the tree didn’t fall on me, I don’t care.  Translation:  If the mayor of my town is not setting up the Chamber of Commerce on the roof tops of shops along Main street, and arming them with sniper rifles, or – - if the Governor of New Jersey is not chopping hands off and collecting little kids to be in his revolutionary army, I’m not effected.

We shake our heads and sigh in disbelief, as we go back to waxing our cars and trimming the bushes.  Me?  I give some money to Amnesty International.  I give some money to the International Red Cross.  Man, I even bought some mosquito nets so the African kids don’t all die so fast from Malaria.  Yeah.  I’m one of the good guys.  Of course, it takes me about 17 seconds to ‘internet’ my part and then I get back to the important stuff, like the cars and lawn.  But, hey… power to the people, I say!  I will strike my thunderous blows to evil and tyranny everywhere!

To be fair, denial is salvation.  Should we all be absorbed in the misery that is painting most of the 3rd World, we would shrivel and wilt like the daisies we are- – having been born here in the Civilized West.  We are not made of the same stuff…at least not that we are aware of.  Yeah, somewhere deep in our darkest recesses we feel it…that black, ugly sense that if pushed, we could turn into a Charles Taylor, but we spend every minute of every day – according to Freud at least – pushing that down, as we attempt to fit into some societal model.  I guess that’s best, so remember, if you actually do hear the tree fall, pretend it was thunder or God’s bowling ball and get out of the way!

Din-Din With Barack

I really am not interested in having dinner with Barack.  Not that he’s probably not a nice guy, and I certainly would be the envy of my friends, it’s just that – well there are not many people I would like to have dinner with.  Outside of my friends and family, I can’t even think of anyone famous I would enjoy sharing meat and words with.

Then there is the contest – Dinner With Barack.  You get picked.  The Secret Service – those randy bad boys – send you a ticket to somewhere.  Right.  You don’t even know where you are going.  I mean what if it’s Oklahoma?  No offense to Oklahoma, but I’ve been there and swore to Jesus and a bunch of Saints that if I ever made it out of there I would become his servant.  So, you see I can’t go back there, cause I welched on my part of the Agreement.  You also don’t have a date or a time until the last minute.  Okay, so what if I was planning on cleaning my old vinyl albums, or my wife had plans to paint the living room?

Na.  I am not interested.  I mean, it’s not like I could sit there and say stuff like, “Hey B, why, after Karzai keeps insulting you, are you really going to wait until 2014 to leave Afghanistan?”  Or.  “Yo, Mr. P., did you ever feel like smacking that guy, Hannity in the face?”  See, that is dinner conversation.  It’s also chit chat that I am sure is off-limits with Barack.  So, what’s the point? And what if my wife doesn’t hit it off with Michelle, or they show up in the same dress?  Whoa, that could make for an awkward evening.

It’s better I stay here and just say stuff behind the President’s back and under the protection of my microphone.  That just feels more American to me.

Kill-adelphia

It’s time to call in the National Guard to Philadelphia.

Out of the nation’s 10 largest cities, Philadelphia’s homicide rate is the worst. Last year ended with 324 homicides, up from 306 in 2010, and as of January of this year, 34 murders and counting.

Philadelphia’s mayor has made it clear the city is waging an all-out war against violent criminals.
“If you want to act like an idiot, if you want to be an a-hole, if you want to be a low-life in this town, we will track you down like the dog that you are.  At the news conference announcing the measures, Mayor Nutter put it this way: “To every criminal out there: I just put a $20,000 bounty on your head.” He raised some eyebrows last summer when he took to the pulpit to call out the predominantly black youths involved in the attacks:

“You damage yourself, you damage another person, you damage your peers, and quite honestly, you damage your own race,” said Nutter, who is black and has two children, and is the only way he could get away with making such an inflammatory statement.  Blacks make up nearly 84% of the homicide victims, according to police data.

We’re blue in the face from calling on people of all stripes to take responsibility for their children, stop letting them run in packs; calling on education and more programs focused on gang mentality, calling for more positive social outlets, and locating absentee fathers.  Obviously none of that is working because none of that is a reality.  What is real is Northeast Philadelphia where, unless you are armed, you can’t even cross the street, much less stop at a traffic light without being killed for your pizza or your car.  It doesn’t matter which, as the ultra violent street crime is there simply to show who’s in control of the streets.

Instead of spending lives and money in Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, we need clean up our own messes, because otherwise this is only going to turn even more Mad Max and start spreading to , gasp, the suburbs!   Mayor Nutter, I suggest you phone up that urban peacekeeper, Marshall Law, and call the national guard into our own war zone here in Philadelphia.

Serenity Prayer: Fully Re-Designed 2012 Model

God grant me the serenity ?to hide from the things I cannot change, ?the courage to avoid the things I can, and the wisdom to know I am helpless against the machine.

To live one day at a time like everything is just swell; ?To send me a Rolex so I can really enjoy one moment at a time; ? To learn to avoid and run from hardships as the pathway to peace;  ?And not taking, as He did, this sinful world? as it is, but imagining it as I would have it; ?Trusting that He will make all things right instead of me trying to do it. ??That I may be unbelievably and screamingly happy in this life ?and even more super duper happy with Him in the next.

Amen.

Like you , LK…I too am done!  Toasted. Fatigued, infuriated, and feeling helpless.  A voice in a void that, unless I say something completely idiotic, hateful  and ruthless enough to go viral on You Tube, rises like a silent cloud to nothingness.  A voice that on Tuesday had so much more meaning as it screamed GOAL!!!! while my wife and I sat in hockey bliss, munching $9.00 fries and $10.00 beers.  A voice that delivers joy and pure devotion as it whispers “I love you,” to my sleeping wife.  Otherwise, a voice that is basically unnecessary.

We – more-so  you – rant weekly about all the horrors, cruelties, political gaffs and corruption, illegal and un-winnable wars, genocide, and on and on and on.  And yes, it’s a good thing to enlighten, to make people aware.  But even too much awareness bloats the psyche.  Like a therapy session that lasts longer than an hour because the brain shuts down from too much information, enlightenment and awareness become so much white noise, or worse, crying wolf.

And so, at least for now, I am washing myself clean of any and all responsibility of everything and anything that goes on outside my immediate circle of loved ones.  I imagine this will last for two or three days, but right now, it feels really, really good!

Three Pre-Apocalyptic Wishes

Okay, it’s the end of the world according to Nostradamus, the Mayans and the Alex Jones Infowars channel.  Thinking about being ended this year made me realize that initially at least, I have the capacity of being a shallow, pathetic dope.

I asked myself what I would do if this was it. If I knew for sure that say by next Wednesday everything was just gone.  My immediate bonehead ideas were 1.  Buy the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport…the fastest car in the world – and drive it as fast as it can go , which is 253 mph.  2. Buy the L115A Long Range Rifle – the best sniper rifle in the world, and shoot a bunch of Taliban guys just as they were getting ready to rape someone.  3.  Move next door to Angelina Jolie and take her for a ride in my new Bugatti.  And 4.  Drive Angie and me to NYC to find Donald Trump and punch him in the face.

Now of course, all of that is just simple self-entertaining nonsense, and I fully realize that I would do none of those things because none of those things have any true meaning.  But then comes the puzzle – why bother with meaning if this is all over – including my inherent awareness of myself?  And then that irritating God thing comes up and I have to start all over.  Was it the fear or love of God that kept me from just letting go of all restraints and tearing through this life like a mad dog?  Or was there some gene plugged in during mom and pop’s coitus?  The truth – at least my truth when giving this some heavy thought, is that one dies like one lived.  I believe that having gone so many years traveling what I assumed to be the correct path, the right thing to do, the way to be, and so on, has been so deeply deposited into my psyche that even now, knowing that Wednesday next is the end of everything, I would behave in exactly the same manner I did all those hundreds upon hundreds of past regular Wednesdays.

And so, if the Mayans are in fact correct, there will be people stealing, raping, killing, and doing all kinds of bad stuff. But I believe that those people have been struggling with keeping themselves under control all along.  The majority of us will just sit, realizing there is nothing else we can nor need to do.

As for me, my Bugatti -Jolie imaginings washed away for the comical absurdities they were, I would gather my family and try to keep them from the panic and fear that accompanies any unknown.   I would hold them close, and laugh and cry and run through memories and even discuss what is next for us since we all, my family that is, have a belief in an afterlife.  And whether that afterlife is man made fodder created to keep everyone from cracking up at the thought of death, or a mystical, spiritual truth doesn’t matter.  Hope is what has helped me and my loved ones through this life.  To drop it now would be as illogical as shooting up the Taliban.

Still, there is a tiny part of that sniper thing that gives me a smile.  Gonna have to talk that over with God next Wednesday.

An Open Letter To Kim Jong Un

An open letter to Kim Jong Un:

Dear Young Leader,
You have in front of you, two paths.  The one is that which you know.  A sheltered life of luxury and protection from the outside world.  The other is quite extraordinary, as it has the potential of running parallel with that of Siddartha Gautama, or the Buddha.

You see, when Prince Siddhartha was a few days old, a holy man prophesied he would be either a great military conqueror or a great spiritual teacher. His father, King Suddhodana preferred the first outcome and prepared his son accordingly. He raised the boy in great luxury and shielded him from knowledge of religion and human suffering. The Prince reached the age of 29 with little experience of the world outside the walls of his opulent palaces.  One day, overcome with curiosity, Prince Siddhartha asked a servant to take him on a series of rides through the countryside. On these journeys he was shocked by the sight of an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse. The stark realities of old age, disease, and death seized and sickened the Prince.

For a time the Prince returned to palace life, but he took no pleasure in it. Even the news that his wife had given birth to a son did not please him.

One night he wandered the palace alone. The luxuries that had once pleased him now seemed grotesque. Musicians and dancing girls had fallen asleep and were sprawled about, snoring and sputtering. Prince Siddhartha reflected on the old age, disease, and death that would overtake them all and turn their bodies to dust.

He realized then that he could no longer be content living the life of a prince. That very night he left the palace, shaved his head, and changed his prince’s clothes for a beggar’s robe. Then he began his quest for enlightenment.

The Buddha tirelessly traveled and taught until his death at age 80. His last words to his followers:  “Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”

Dear Young Leader, you have that same choice before you.  You can become a Buddha if you merely dare wander outside of your encapsulated world and look at your people who are living in misery.  You have the capacity within you to open your heart and embrace humanity; to shower those who blindly followed your father with the things he denied them.  You, like Siddartha can change your country from a land lost in time and poverty to a place of peace which the nations of the world can look to and perhaps reconsider their own gross misgivings.

And, you have the choice to die truly alone surrounded by minions who are only there because they were purchased or in fear for their lives, or by a people who truly love you for your gentle kindnesses.

I am wishing you the wisdom and openness of heart to make the right choice.