The Face of Cancer . . .

A woman walks up to the TV screen and says, “MD Anderson Cancer Center made my cancer history!” as she swipes at the word “CANCER” with an imaginary marker.  Another man approaches the screen in the next scene and parrots the same line as he swipes a large red splotch across the word “CANCER.”                                     

“Annoying isn’t it?” I say to my wife sitting next to me.

“Yes . . . very annoying!” she replies.  You see, she is battling stage IV cancer and knows that her cancer will never be history.  And I think to myself, Why is MD Anderson advertising?  Not enough revenue or patients?  Is there not enough cancer to go around? At any rate, the media stream of so-called “cured” cancer patients is doing nothing for those dying of the disease, except to remind them constantly that they are, indeed, dying.

Kris, my wife, is bombarded by radiation, infused with toxic chemicals and now watches endless ads that seem by their own design to remind her how lucky she is to have cancer.  But, she never complains, never seems afraid, and worries about all those around her.

It started with lower back pain, much like the symptoms of a bulged disc–  slight pain down one leg, numbness and tingling.  After a week of treatment with steroids and analgesics, she could barely walk.  She was sent for an MRI and the next day, she received a call from the doctor’s office.  She picked up the phone.

“Doctor Scharle would like to see you at five-thirty . . . and bring your husband with you.”

We arrived at the Doctor’s office and Kris shuffled into the examination room. Before the Doctor entered the room, Kris looked at me and said, “I’ve had a good life.  Thank you.”

“Wait a minute,” I said.

“You don’t think this is going to be good news, do you?”

“Well, no, but let’s see what’s going on first.  They do some amazing things now.  Let’s just wait and see what this is”

The Doctor and I helped her onto the table.  After a twenty minute examination, he helped Kris sit up, sat at his desk with her file in hand, looked at us and said, “The MRI shows lesions on the spine.”  There was a few seconds of silence.

“Where do we go from here?” I said.  He quickly explained that we could do testing on an outpatient basis or she could be admitted to the hospital.  We both agreed to go directly to the hospital.

From the first night on, everything was bad news.  The final diagnosis was Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer.  Stage IV, however, was a description that did not do this cancer justice.  It was in the pelvis, the entire length of the spine, ribs, collarbone, base of the skull, liver, brain and brain stem.  Technicians wheeled her back after every scan with sad faces and shaking their heads.  The usually tight-lipped medical personnel would utter the same words, “How does this happen to such a nice lady.”

We requested an oncologist called “Dr. Anna” for her aggressive approach and compassion.  She outlined the battle ahead with unnerving accuracy and truth. She could only extend Kris’ life.  Her prognosis was a three month period without treatment; with treatment,  a few more weeks, months, even years with some luck.

Beginning with radiation to ease the pain in her back and attack a small, but dangerous tumor lodged in the brain stem, Kris then endured massive doses of chemotherapy drugs, a regimen that required her to be infused for six hours every three weeks.  I would often sit with her while she slept during therapy and watch the other patients leave in two or three hours.  It was then I realized that there was “cancer” and then there was “CANCER.”

I watched her lose her hair, her appetite, thirty pounds, but she never lost her dignity, her smile or her empathy towards others.  And through it all, something amazing began to happen.  The tumors began to shrink . . . almost all of them.  The only exception was a five millimeter lesion in the brain stem.  A small tumor that was the equivalent of shoving a marble into an electrical conduit.  An area so delicate that no operation was possible.

Ten months after the diagnosis, I noticed small changes.  Changes that could be caused by the heavy therapy or the cancer.  By now, I logged thousands of hours in internet research regarding cancer.  I now knew more about cancer than I ever cared to know.  Kris began forgetting certain words by the end of June.  By July, she was unable to finish sentences clearly.  The beginning of August, her beautiful handwriting deteriorated.  The third week of August she was unable to speak or walk on her own.  She began to pull up the bed sheets to her chin with cramped hands and then push them off again constantly.  Her face was contorted and she appeared to be in pain.  I asked if she needed anything for the pain, and she rocked her head back and forth indicating “no.”

I sat in front of the computer in the bedroom, opening the many bookmarks on cancer and typed in the symptoms.  What appeared caused me to put my head on the keyboard . . . and cry.  All links read, End of Life Signs. It was almost over.  And we lost.

Some imperceptible change in the brain stem tumor was short circuiting the nerves, applying enough pressure to disrupt the delicate balance between thought and action. I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital.  She slowly nodded her head.  All the tests came back unchanged.  No evidence that the other tumors were not in check.  It was the last desperate attempt to find something else, something treatable.  The next step was hospice for comfort and care.

Once the living agree to place a loved one in hospice, the concept of legal euthanasia becomes reality as the loved one is disengaged from all the life saving fluids and monitoring equipment.  Like a slowly sinking ship in the dead of night, the dying become weaker and weaker as they dissolve into what Shakespeare described as the “undiscovered country.”

Eight days later, in a beautiful serene and comfortable setting, Kristina drew her last breath.  No fanfare, no pain, but a series of calm and ever shallowing breaths.  She was surrounded by friends and family. She was never alone.  Before the moment of death, all I saw was that young girl I met over thirty-five years ago– jeans, flip-flops and hair to her ankles.  After . . . it was the face of cancer, a countenance I hope never to gaze upon ever again.

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Merry Christmas, Again!

It’s that dismal time of the year again that is always brightened by the modern revitalization of the Pagan holidays by celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza. These festive holiday splashes help fight the psychological effects of the cold, snow and dimness that is the winter solstice.  And again, with keeping with the true meaning of the holidays, we must remember those less fortunate than we.  As I do every December, I’m publishing the poem, written by an anonymous author, that dates back at least to the end of the Eighteenth Century,  Little Tim’s Christmas.

Little Tim’s Christmas . . .

“I really don’t know what Christmas is,” said Little Tim with a sigh                                            As he stood on the corner, pale and cold, and watched the crowd go by.                       “Maybe it’s something nice and warm, or good to eat.” said he.                                          “They all seem to be carrying bundles home, most all of them but me.”

“I wish I had an overcoat, but anything isn’t mine,                                                                         I don’t believe there’s a Santa Claus, say Mister, have a shine?                                                   It really doesn’t cost much at all, as you already know,                                                               And it’s sure to be a lift to me, if only a cent or so.”

But the stranger hurried himself along with nothing cheerful to say.                                      He thought of his home, his family, and a gladsome Christmas day!                                       “There’s none of them want a shine tonight and nobody seems to see                                   How cold it is on the street tonight for a poor, little chap like me.”

But Tim never met with a comforting glance, nor even a pitying eye,                                       As he thought of a home he heard about somewhere up in the sky.                                             He saw a church with its open doors; the light and the warmth were there,                            so he thought he would follow the people in, if nobody seemed to care.

He crept in softly and through the aisle, he wandered with noiseless feet,                             And then he sat down at the farther end of a softly cushioned seat.                                          In the church, a bright and happy throng sang hymns and praises of joy,                             But no one noticed the shrinking form of the ragged and shivering boy.

They sang of peace, they sang of joy, and charity was their theme,                                         But of all the want there is in the world, they did not even dream.                                           The hymns were ended a moment more and when all was quiet and still,                               The preacher said, “I will speak tonight of charity’s sweet goodwill.”

“Go out into the byways and feed the poor, ’tis a blessed Christmas then,                                It is thus we show our brotherly love” and the people said “Amen!”                                           Then out of the church they went once more, to homes of love and light.                              They spoke no more of the poor, but said, “What a lovely sermon tonight!”

The sextant, after all were gone and the lights were low and dim,                                             In the vestibule saw a blackening box and the form of little Tim.                                            “Come boy, go out into the street!  This is not the place for you!” he said.                             But when there came no answer, the sextant saw that the little boy was dead.

O’ Friends be careful, there is so much more to do.                                                                         Be sure there is no one needy here, close by in a neighboring pew!                                        And when you go to your homes tonight, loved ones fondly to greet,                                   Remember that many a poor one lives on many another street.

There may be a form that is cold and others filled with dread,                                                   Or ragged souls that are begging, and small children crying for bread.                                 Too often they perish because the flame of charity burns too dim.                                              For many there are in this world of ours, alone like little Tim.

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Welcome to Jurassic Park!

We all know the story . . . rich man buys an island, re-creates dinosaurs to open the world’s most fantastic zoo, dinosaurs escape, eat rich man.  Such may be  the case with the Ebola virus.  This deadly little critter,  Ebolavirus, in now ashore in the United States thanks to Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife in their quest from God to save the African nations.  What does that mean for the North America continent?  Much like the movie,  Jurassic Park, it may very well mean some “oohing” and “ahhing” followed by “crying” and “dying.”

Am I an alarmist?  To some extent, but while the CDC (Center for Disease Control), Fox News, ABC news, and the many medical professionals tout the safety protocols and literally “poo-poo” the dangers of this small, DNA-packed protein shell, consider this . . . the Ebolavirus ranges in size from 80 nanometers to about 800 nanometers.  These distances mean nothing to the average Joe and are generally not understood well by most doctors.  Compare it with a human hair that is 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers thick.  In other words, if the diameter of the Earth is one meter, a nanometer would be the width of a single marble.  Viruses are so small, they pass through porcelain filters used to remove bacteria from solutions. This is very small and we, as a species, are arrogant enough to believe we can control it.

Ebola Virus Disease, or EVD, is caused by four (4) different viruses in the Ebolavirus genus.  But to understand what a virus really is other than a very small “something-or-other,” think about a thing that is neither living nor dead, that invades cells and multiplies until it destroys the cell.  It parades from one cell to the next, destroying, multiplying, destroying and multiplying until it literally runs out of cells to infect or kills its host.  No living thing is immune– plant, animal or bacterium– and it is the upholstery of science fiction.

Described by biologists as an “organism at the edge of life,” a virus is a ball of nucleic acid surrounded by a protein shell, or capsid. Imagine a walnut shell with legs.  But our little “agent” is not stupid . . . even though it can’t reproduce without infecting a host (thus failing the test of a living thing), it’s much smarter than a walnut.  A DNA time bomb, these miniscule guys can figure out a thousand ways to Sunday to mutate and become a different virus.  Being the driving force for diseases from the common cold to all cancers, they are all but impossible to defeat.

With no known vaccine or effective medical treatment, the medical professionals and media statements that “it’s not very contagious, because it’s not airborne,” is ridiculous.  Transferred by touch, bodily fluids and the dead, Ebola need not be airborne for a dandy road trip, and now with four (4) deadly variations of the disease, it’s only a matter of time before it mutates to something else, perhaps a successful airborne pathogen.

We, as a species, are confident that science and technology will save the day.  Hopefully the words of Jeff Blum’s character, the chaos mathematician Malcolm, will never come true, “Nature will find a way.”

Welcome to Jurassic Park!

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Can We Conversate?

As the lead instructor of a federally-funded program many years ago, my manager walked into the office, looked at my desk and exclaimed, “You know, a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind!”

I looked at him and said, “Then, what’s the sign of an empty desk?”

The human mind loves clutter.  The less capable the mind, the more clutter.  Watch any news broadcast where the field reporter interviews someone on the street about a disaster, murder, explosion or accident. In an apparent attempt to look and sound like a big deal, people insert large, sometimes non-existent words.  The absolute  jumble kings in this department are the police spokesmen.  It’s like they never attended an English class in their lives as they talk about apprehending the perpetrators or assailants who purportedly executed a humongous act of criminality against an injured party.

O.K.  Can we conversate?

Conversate is the latest example of the many “back-formations” invading the English language.The first use of this word can be traced back to 1973 and finally, to the dismay of American language scholars everywhere, it is now an acceptable word.  But while Merriam Webster Online defines conversate as to “converse,” the Urban Dictionary (and bastion of sophistication) is not so kind:

Defined according to the Urban Dictionary – conversate; A word used by backwards, ignorant, illiterate inner city trash who mean to say ‘converse’.

“Yo, I just needs to conversate witcha!”

“Back-formations”are created from a backward form of another word, in this case, conversate is the back-asswards conjugation of “conversation.”

Back-formations are not new and can be traced back to a word that appeared in the 15th Century, “donation.”  Almost four hundred years later, the back-formation verb “donate,” was formed. The simple “pea” was formed from the word pease and “edit” from editor.  Over the ages, many of these back-formations made sense since there were no other simple words for these objects or actions.

Today, all back-formations do is frustrate academics and clutter the language.  Behold some of the more well-used back-formations below:

A better solution?  Use a smaller, simple word meaning the same thing.  Don’t use “converse,” when “talk” will do.  Don’t “cohabit” when you can “live with,” or “ask” instead of “solicit.”  Try using “now” and not “presently.”  I envisage, I mean, I think you get the idea.  Now . . . can we talk?

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Most sports-minded folks know the story of the Greek runner Pheidippides.  After the Athenians defeated the Persians at the Greek city of Marathon, he’s the gent who ran back to Athens to tell of the victory.  When he arrived, he yelled, “Nike!” and dropped dead.  Some 2500 years later, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight named a shoe after Pheidippides’ historic howl.

Sad part is, this “first” marathon most likely never occurred and is a myth.  Pheidippides’ earlier trip is more noteworthy and demonstrates that a 26 mile trip to Athens was a mere mosey in the park.  Pheidippides was one of many Greek messengers or runners who delivered news about the city-states of ancient Greece.  Before the battle of Marathon,  Pheidippides ran 140 miles to Sparta to encourage the Spartans to assist the Athenians against the Persians.  The Spartans couldn’t leave Sparta until the full moon for religious reasons (wouldn’t you know it) so Pheidippides ran the return trip, all 140 miles of it, back to Athens.  It was a 36 hour trip each way! It’s doubtful that a simple “marathon” would kill such a man.

At the turn of the 20th Century, a distance race commemorating the myth of Pheidippides’ run was born.  The first marathon distance run was 24.8 miles, but was lengthened to 26.2 miles at the 1908 London Olympics.  The distance had little to do with the distance between Athens to Sparta and more to do with the distance from Windsor Castle to London’s Olympic Stadium.

The marathon tradition continued throughout the Twentieth Century for many great hardcore distance runners, but as of late, say the last 10 years, the marathon is an”every man, woman and child” bucket list ambition.  Today, marathons and many other difficult sports events for amateurs are clogged with people who are satisfied with “finishing” the event with little interest in competing.  It never occurs to these so-called athletes to look at the clock and realize one simple fact–  it’s a race!  You are supposed to train, prepare, learn and compete.

Triathlete injured by "corinthian" biker

The boating industry uses a great term for someone to knows nothing about navigating waterways or boating safety–  corinthians.  These “sports” corinthians are as dangerous as those on the waterways with their blatant disregard of the rules and cheerful self-indulgence as they step on others or cut them off on the course.  Nice people, but not athletes.  They are an insult to true amateur athletes who train, learn the rules and compete with all the nerve and sinew humans can muster.  They push into starting corrals with faster paced runners or competitors clogging the course when the real athletes are forced to pass them.  They are a danger to themselves and others and many die due to overexertion and stress, or in the case of triathons, they drown during the swimming portion.

Marathons, shorter distance runs and triathons are full of corinthians as the number of participants swells each year.  The Philadelphia Blue Cross 10-mile Broad Street Run is one race that suffers this fate, as the number of runners now tops 40,000!  Because of this, many of the races now only allow admission by lottery, leaving many top-notch athletes out of the race.

If you’re not serious about an event, except to finish or show your friends “you can do it,” do something else.  Find a fun run, walk-a-thon or just sit on the couch where you belong!  Don’t dream about being an amateur athlete unless you’re willing to go the distance– learn the rules, train and practice sportsmanship.  Anything less and you’re a threat!

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Indiana Wants Me! Lord, I Can’t Go Back There!

Much the buzz at the Miss America Pageant this year as Miss Indiana sashayed across the stage during the swimsuit competition.  As contestants go, she was the veritable “chunky  monkey” of the group.  Twitter was alive with comments regarding the “normal” look of Mekayla Diehl.  Most complimented her on her normal body appearance and one woman stated it was nice to see someone was was not just “a bag of bones.”

The majority of the tweets, oddly enough, were from women and compared Miss Diehl’s average shape with their own.  Others quickly fired back that Miss Indiana was hardly normal.  According to, the average American woman in 2010 was 5’4″ tall and weighed in at a hefty 166 pounds.  Miss Indiana wears a size 4 and the average American woman dons a 14.  Miss Indiana is a towering rail next to Jane Average.

So, are women deluding themselves when they compare themselves to Mekayla Diehl?  To understand this subject a little better, let’s consider the female form throughout the ages.  At the dawn of enlightenment, namely the Renaissance, women and men, weren’t concerned about a few extra pounds on a lady. In fact, voluptuous women were the order of the day and like a good pizza, men preferred their women with a little “extra cheese.”

When the Victorian age came into being in the early 1800’s, women became body conscious and cinched waistlines were born.  Of course, this didn’t mean that the body beneath the torturous gear was thin, but the look was there.

The roaring twenties brought the first skinny women of fashion onto the social scene, as “flappers” hid their curves, bobbed their hair and danced around waving a finger at everybody, but the following decades took a turn for the curvier.  Women were conscious of muscle tone and began lifting weights, besides laundry baskets, which accentuated natural curves in the hips and breasts.  Then tragedy struck!

In the 1960’s, curves went to hell in a hand basket!  One word sums up the worst figure in modern history– Twiggy!  A apt name and the antithesis of a healthy looking figure in a world full of food.  It was a turning point for the Madison Avenue look regarding models and other advertising figures.  Big name designers now preferred skinny women in their photo shoots as not to”distract” potential buyers from the product.

Since the 1960’s, many young women starve themselves, literally, to achieve that All American cover girl look, a look, unfortunately, that most others find displeasing.  Anorexia and bulimia ruin many young teen women’s lives simply because they wish to emulate this look.  Sadly for them, most men still prefer their women they way they like their pizza.  Hugh Heffner knew this when he cast Marilyn Monroe as his first cover girl in December 1953.

So when the average American women praises Miss Indiana as the new “normal” and compares herself to her, is it a delusion?  Or maybe, just maybe, women are becoming comfortable again with their looks, shape and weight.  And if you’re a guy reading this, go kiss your wife or girlfriend and order a pizza.

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To Thine Own Self Be True!

Magic Johnson and I have one thing in common–  neither of us is going to a Los Angeles Clippers game any time soon.  Los Angeles Clippers owner, for now, Donald Sterling and I also appear to share something–   neither of us likes Magic Johnson.  Not for the same reasons, however.  Although Mr. Johnson is a fantastic basketball player, I find him reprehensible as an athlete.  Why?  Because I feel that athleticism and sportsmanship are qualities that you don’t leave on the playing field, court, or diamond.  When Mr. Johnson contracted aids through one of his many sexual partners and endangered the health of his pregnant wife, Cookie, he ceased being anything that is good or applaudable in sports.  An athlete he is not.

Donald Sterling’s problem with Magic Johnson?  I’m not sure.  After listening to the infamous “unverified” audio tape released by TMZ, I’m more confused than ever.  In a private conversation, Donald Sterling told then girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that he was upset over an Instagram posted showing her with Magic Johnson.  The whole sports world and the National Basketball Association deems the taped conservation a racist rant and wants Sterling out as the team’s owner.  By what authority, I can only imagine.  However, it’s clear that being taped by your ex-friend while telling her you’d rather not see her in public with blacks, and who you are now suing for embezzling $1.8 million dollars from you, resulting in her saying she’ll “get even,” is a bigger crime than screwing a bunch of whores with STD’s, thus endangering your wife and unborn child.  Do the math:

Billionaire team owner + Chick with a tape recorder =  Racist bastard who loses team

Basketball star + illicit affairs with diseased sluts = Sports hero/wealthy businessman

Now, put aside for a moment, that the taped conversation sounded more like an interrogation, was almost studio quality and that Sterling said Magic Johnson should be admired, that Stiviano could hang with blacks, bring them “in,” or sleep with them, which, by the way, confuses the hell out of me, let’s assume that Sterling really, really thinks blacks are inferior in some way.  This qualifies him as a full-blown racist.

Black athletes certainly don’t want to work for a racist team owner, and I’m sure many whites prefer not to play or associate with any sports team owned, operated, or coached by bigots.  But, with the enormous salaries involved, I really can’t blame someone of any color for playing the game under the direction or ownership of morally bankrupt people.

The top three players for the LA Clippers are paid approximately $11 million to $20 million each.  Considering the Clippers play 82 games per season, a twenty million dollar salary is almost a quarter of a million dollars per game.  This is a big incentive to not piss off the boss, but in this case, no one could blame a black man for quitting a team owned by a racist.

The players didn’t quit the Clippers.  They didn’t even boycott one game.  They staged a silent protest. During the team warmup, they removed their warmup shirts showing the red Clippers T-shirts inside out! After the warmup, of course, they played the game in their regular uniforms– a game which they lost.  Wow!  Shades of the sixties racial riots!  What a protest!  That’ll show old Donald Sterling!

They didn’t walk off the team, they didn’t skip a game or two, they didn’t engage in a sit down strike or give back some the racist’s money–  they turned their T-shirts inside out, careful not to jeopardize those million dollar salaries.  Way to go, guys, to thine own self be true.

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Eugenics! It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore!

The term eugenics conjures visions of evil in today’s world.  Literally meaning “good birth” from the Greek words eu (good) and genos (birth), eugenics is study of improving the human race, particularly through selective breeding.  Images of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the 1930’s fill our heads as history reminds us of Hitler’s fallacy of creating a “tall, blue-eyed, blonde-haired super race of Ayrans” by eliminating those people with unfavorable characteristics.  That whole idea was off to a bad start, since “Aryan” describes prehistoric Iranians.  The characteristics Hitler was describing are “Nordic.”  More fascinating, however, is how a short, bombastic, dark-haired, brown-eyed Austrian convinced the German people that he was the man qualified to build a master race.

Fictionally, eugenics never fared any better than in real life.  Armed with the belief that human beings are imperfect and can be improved, the fear of the end result caused writers and playwrights to “throw a monkey wrench” into any story involving the improvement of humankind.  Whether it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Homunculus, The Island of Dr. Moreau, or Frankenstein, the message is pretty much the same–  don’t fuck around creating the perfect being!

Of course, all these writings were based on creating soulless creatures and were prior to the little skit put on by the Nazi’s in the 1930’s and 40’s.  Most “eugenics” based writings were considered wild science fiction that could never happen or dealt with the new theory of evolution and natural selection as described by Charles Darwin.  After World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust, much novel writing and movie producing of fresh or derivative works were tailored around the Nazi model.

Not until after the Watson and Crick model of the DNA molecule was presented in 1953 did fictional stories develop based on the mechanism of eugenics–  the DNA molecule itself.  As the boundary between fiction and non-fiction started to erode, stories took an eerie course through the land of make believe and reality, as for the first time, we realized we can change the way we look, feel and act without sewing, cutting or breeding.

This new knowledge allowed Dr. Bruce Banner to screw up his DNA with gamma radiation and for Khan Noonian Singh to nap in a sleeper ship for 300 years before taking over the Enterprise.  But true to the liberal arts, we all know that the Hulk won’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it and that Captain Kirk will eventually slip a control rod from an engineering console to beat the shit out of Khan.  Why?  Because we fallacious, imperfect humans win in the fictional, fantasy world; Bruce Banner’s compassionate soul and James Kirk’s fiery, if not flawed, determination or “inner madman” protects us from a world of superior beings.

More frightening than any Hollywood production is the notion that eugenics and the sterilization of human beings was not a Nazi invention, but was imported by Germany from none other than the United States.  Decades before Hitler’s antics, the U.S. practiced ethnic cleansing by restrictive marriage laws, “segregated” colonies and sterilization.  Laws for forced sterilizations, forced segregation and restrictive marriage laws were enacted in over 27 states in the union, and nothing prohibits the practice of eugenics today.

The idea of ridding the world of unfit humans was funded by some of the world’s leading financiers, such as the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman Railroad.  Scientists in noted institutions like Stanford, Harvard and Yale all studied and supported race theory and race science.  In fact, the Rockefeller Foundation funded several eugenics programs in Germany before World War II, including one that with Josef Mengele just before he went to Auschwitz.

California’s eugenics kingpin and founder of Sacramento State College, C.M. Goethe, grabs the all time 20th Century Adolf Award in eugenics.  Besides establishing a program that helped California lead all states in forced sterilizations (over 20,000 before 1964), Goethe proudly told a colleague:

“You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought . . . I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.”

Naturally, California is not going to let a little Nazi history get in the way of staying in the lead as the state prison system spayed 148 unwilling women inmates between 2006 and 2010.  So pull up a chair, grab your knife, fork and a cold glass of orange juice any time of the day– it’s not just for breakfast anymore!

Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune – See more at:
Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune – See more at:
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The Sum Of All Fears . . .

You looked relieved when the doctor handed me your 8 pound daughter.  Her small pink, blood-smeared body wiggled and squirmed as I headed out the door to the nurse who would weigh her, measure her and pinch her skin.  I returned to find you hovering over a cereal bowl and grinning because you could drink tea again.

Each day, as that little girl grew, you played, nurtured and loved her as if nothing else, or no one else, mattered. Each night, you read her to sleep, a habit that serves her to this day as she consumes a veritable library of books. You’re proud of her accomplishments and all her academic milestones.

You dressed her as if she were royalty, never taking time to fit something for yourself.  You scrubbed her and cleaned her as if she was a fine diamond, taught her manners and did not tolerate sloppiness.  You traveled miles so she could partake in anything she wanted.  You were, and are, always there for her, watching, hoping for the best.  And when she left for college, you cried because you thought she would never return.

You worried that you were not a good mother and that some day your daughter would forget you.  You followed her for what seems to be your whole life.  Now, you face a late-stage incurable disease, but your first thought is of your daughter.  You’re glad you spent all those hours with her.  There is no remorse for the path you took.  Today you ask yourself, what of her painWill she forget me when I’m gone? No denial or anger on your part; just acceptance– acceptance and the willingness to fight– fight for each day and more.

Yesterday, you sat and thought how much you wanted her here with you on Mother’s Day, but you know she’s a young woman with a busy schedule and much responsibility.  You tell yourself you understand when really you’re not sure.  What you didn’t know is that later that afternoon when you walked into the kitchen, she would be standing there.  Your quivering chin and tears tell the tale.  You are still in awe of the daughter you wrought.  She hugs you and tells you she wanted to be with you on Mother’s Day.  She will never forget you and will always be with you.

Happy Mother’s Day . . .

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The Eyes Have It!

Thank God for college surveys and studies!  Without them, life is not worth living!  Harvard is the leader of such copious investigations and once such work is released, well, the world is a much better place.

The Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS) was started 1992 and continued for 14 years.  The conclusion?  Ban beer kegs at college dormitories and fraternities and the general matriculating student body will sober up.  It also coined a new term, binge drinking, so that if you really aren’t an alcoholic, but drink up to four beers at a sitting, you too, can be saddled with a pejorative label like real drunks.  Problem solved!

Now students buy cases of beer, tape black trash bags over the windows, and slosh down the cans or bottles with a couple of friends in a couple of hours as not to get pinched by an undercover cop.  They’re sloppy drunk, but at least they don’t get caught.  And as a bonus, if someone stops by with a “drinking questionnaire,”  they won’t remember a thing, so after the next “alcoholic survey,” statistics should dramatically improve.

But what of the little children of the world?  Can’t we do something for them?  Well,  Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab (yes, a Food and Brand Lab!) is saving the little tykes from the monstrous marketing techniques of cereal advertisers.  So what’s going on here?  As James Doohan of Star Trek fame would say, “It’s a ploy!”  Of course it’s a ploy, Scotty!  That’s what cereal makers do; they sell cereal!  And,by golly, Cornell caught them in the act!

To expose the crafty black art of breakfast food advertising, click the graphic on the right.  You’ll notice that Cap’n Crunch is staring a hole through the middle of your child just like Mom did you she caught you drinking milk from the carton.  Everyone in that drawing is ganging up on your kid– Mr. T, Trix the Rabbit, Papa Smurf, 3CPO and more.  You do see it, don’t you?  ‘Cause I can’t.

Cornell’s “Cereal Box” crew would have us believe that, like Leonard da Vinci or Thomas Gainesborough, industrial cereal box artists can reproduce a cartoon character whose eyes stare at you as you stroll down the supermarket aisle with your little one.

The Director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, Dr. Brian Wansink, calculated the angle of the listless, two-dimensional gazes down to the tenths!  Grocery store stock personnel are apparently trained in trigonometric functions as they carefully place the cartoon characters strategically on the shelves so that it catches the attention of your little precious at an exact angle of 9.6 degrees.  Huh?!?

Pretending for a moment that such eyeball-o-metric guesstimation is accurate, consider the eyes of Trix the Rabbit below.  Take a good look at those iris-less, flat-black peepers and ask yourself which one invokes 16% more trust.  I thought so.  I don’t know what the hell this stupid rabbit is looking at and neither does your kid.  And should one of the these goofy caricatures catch the conscience of the kid, tough!  Cereal’s too expensive, too sweet and too unhealthy.  Let them eat cake.  Until next time, here’s looking a you, kid!

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