Sunday, April 29, 2007

Merck Sleeze Factor

There is a sleeze factor of which we're all aware, that we can't put our finger on exactly, but we know it when we see it. Imus calls a bunch of college kids racist names and he has met that sleeze factor. Bush lands on an aircraft carrier in front of a sign that says "Mission Accomplished" and 3 years later things are worse than ever in Iraq--that's a sleeze factor over-the-line.

Merck, that famous drug manufacturer caught with it's pants down denying that Vioxx was dangerous when its own internal memos showed that it knew facts to the contrary--Merck, who runs ads on TV about the integrity of its history in developing patent medicine for the cause of public health, when in fact all the drugs are "me-too" copies of generics already on the market in order to boost it's multi-billion-dollar bottom line for the sake of it's public shareholders--Merck is now running full-page ads every few days in national newspapers to warn about the problems of Shingles. The ads state that we need to be aware of this painful malady, and we need to ask our physician what to do about it.

And that's IT! The ads don't say specifically what the remedy is, nor does the Merck web site listed in the ad offer any obvious solution. So the assumption from reading the ads, and the web site, is that this Merck company is so in-tune with offering free unsolicited help to the public that this public should be thrilled and beholden to Merck for thinking of it - us - in such a generous and non-binding manner. After all, what does Merck have to gain from simply informing us of a medical condition that we could all have because we contracted chicken pox when we were children--that's what causes the painful shingles of older age--childhood chicken pox.

Doh!! I just got it! If you get the chicken pox vaccine as a child, you won't grow up and get shingles as an older adult. And now, with the newer recommendations that adolescents should get "booster" chicken pox vaccine shots, since the vaccine is short-lived and not proven to have life-long immunity effect as does the actual disease--Merck wants to shake everyone up into getting repetitive doses of its chicken pox vaccine in order to not get shingles, that dread malady, in later life.

Thar's MONEY in them thar shots! Big bucks! Worth paying for full-page color ads in national newspapers day after day for WEEKS! So what's the problem? Why shouldn't we get these shots and avoid shingles, and let Merck have its cash cow payola?

That answer is up to you, dear reader. If you think Merck, and the big drug manufacturers, are really pummeling you with ads for your sake, then go ahead and get vaccinated. If you wonder about the thousandfold increase in cases of autoimmune diseases in children like asthma, autism, and type II diabetes, and you think it might not be from air pollution or gamma rays, and might correspond to the same increase in vaccine dosages for children, then don't get the shots. The despair of having a vaccine-injured child, which big pharma, the CDC and FDA won't admit is from vaccine injury, is an experience without which, you absolutely won't miss.

Big Crowd--Borders Book Signing

Cindy Goldenberg had a huge turnout at Borders in Mission Viejo yesterday for her book signing. Here is what one Borders executive had to say:

I had the great pleasure of working with my new friend today for her book signing. Cindy and I met at Borders Books in Mission Viejo, Ca, after she inquired about how we went about setting up signings. Randomly, (though we both agree there is no random), I took the call from the back office. We connected immediately, and it was friendship at first sight. That’s generally the way I am though, and she feels about the same. To details first. She has written a very cool book along the lines of The Secret, but more focused on personal growth than monetary gains. It’s called Forgiveness: The Divine Connection. Aside from being wonderful as a person, she writes in a very clear manner, that grabs you and also holds you. (Please see the end of the article for information on getting the book.)Cindy started out as a mom, and entered into a world of horror as her son became sick, and the world of doctors and education seemed to come crashing down around her. Through the process of healing that she started during these dark times, she has grown into a brilliant example of her own teaching. I don’t want to spoil any of the wonderful material because it is really a walk along with her soul, and not just a great read. Having met her, she is even more captivating in person. Aside from her personal struggles and triumphs, she also covers a great deal of material related to her work with forgiveness, and the spiritual world that she sees very clearly. The one thing that makes Cindy so great, (aside from the hundered others), is that she is willing to enter your world view. You don’t have to call them spirit orbs, or angels, but there are things that influence and affect our lives, and she has a way to talk about them. I grew up in a Christian world view, where such things were worse than sex and drugs. But I think Cindy said it quite well; She sees angels because that what she expects to see. Manifestation occur to us in the manner that we are accustomed. It’s a function of the brain, everything fits into our deep metaphor, our explanation of reality. This is a powerful ability that she has brought to a book, so that many more can access her wonderful commitment to life and to people.

The signing itself was spectacular. We had one of the biggest turnouts in recent years. She went on for an hour and a half, and nobody even flinched. It took another forty-five minutes before the last people cleared out. They all wanted a signed copy, and what’s more they wanted Cindy. It wore her out, but she kept giving anyway. It was inspiring to watch. She spent ten minutes holding a woman’s baby and just talking, all the time the baby happily flapping its arms around. (I was helping a lot of customers, so I apologize to this young individual for referencing him or her in the neuter.)
Meanwhile, I got a chance to meet her friend, Barbara, who is also an author, with a great book on dreams. She is sending me an advanced copy, and I look forward to reading it. My dream since I was young, is to teach and write. Meeting Cindy has sparked me to begin that. Along with her, the perseverance of my friend Jill with her own novel, and a calming self realization of my own worth, I have come out of the last two month two fifths of the way through my baby, and about four other books just dying to get out.

Then at lunch I met another friend, Grace, who is also working on a book, but this time about her postpartum depression and its affect on her own spiritual development. Miraculously, she was a special education teacher for many years, and I found yet another ally in my quest to save genius from madness in children. It was a very powerful day. In fact, she and her husband David, are also responsible for me getting my butt in gear, and starting a blog. Therefore it seemed only fitting that I devote my first entry to them.
To get the book you can go to a number of sources.I can get the book for you, through my store.You can order, or download the book at is also available through some internet sources as well (Amazon, and Booklocker among them.)
Thank you Cindy, and your friends, and whomever else dead, alive, or transcendent happened to be hovering around today. (Apparently I have a Larry, but I’ve yet to figure out who that is. But it looks like I also get the Metatron. All in all, I seem to have a great group of guys.) Seriously, read the book. You may find that your tradition comes at odds with the words, but the concept of love and forgiveness is truly universal. I have come to believe that there is a god, and I am most definitely not. Aside from that, I think a little more love, a little more forgiveness, and a whole lot of trust sound like a pretty good place to start.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Deaths in Iraq, Parental Abuse, and Forgiveness

Presidential meltdown candidate of the year John McCain sings "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of my favorite oldie "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys, and takes a justified skewering in the media.

Alec Baldwin leaves a ripe roaring rant message on his daughter's answering machine which is displayed on and discussed by every pundit you can think of. This tirade is difficult to hear if you're 1. a child who has ever gotten dressed down by a parent, and 2. a parent who doesn't believe in verbally abusing a child.

I watched Matt Lauer take on a quietly-incensed tone and remark about how "awful" Baldwin's call to his daughter was. I don't recall Matt ever looking quite so personally and emotionally involved in any story about Iraq or the terrible carnage of human lives there--not that he certainly isn't upset by it, but the Baldwin story obviously really affected him.

In the way that one person on TV can represent the attitude of millions who are watching, I wondered why it is that Americans can't get as moved and emotional about the presence of US military in Iraq, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, as well as several thousand American military personnel, all for the sake of a misbegotten crusade by an imbecilic president and his cabal of cronies. Imus gets fired, appropriately, for abusing his air wave privilege and speaking racial and gender-biased insults. Why doesn't Bush get thrown out for causing murder and mayhem and lying to cover up his reasons? There is no objectivity here--Matt Lauer is inflamed over Alec Baldwin's recorded telephone message to his daughter, but the Iraq occupation is treated as news the way the traffic report and weather is--it's always there, we just report about it.

IN the worst bombings in Iraq since the troop level was elevated, 195 people were killed in three explosions in Baghdad this week. Bush said Wednesday's carnage, in which four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad and killed 230 people, had all the "hallmarks of an al-Qaida attack." Bush said the two-month-old security crackdown under which he is adding 28,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq was "meeting expectations" and the ongoing violence reflected an expected reaction by insurgents.
"There are still horrific attacks in Iraq such as the bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday, but the direction of the fight is beginning to shift," Bush said.

I can't listen to Bush anymore--I am interested in keeping abreast with international events and political news, which includes hearing what the most powerful person in the world has to say--but I can't listen to him talk. It's like trying to hear the music, but all the instruments need tuning. Even if I disagree with him, it's his inability to articulate, his outlandish gestures that to me are his attempt to compensate for his lying and impish greed. McLuhan said the "medium is the message." In this case, how right he was.

Then, there is my absolute conviction that the greatest lesson humanity--that's each of us--can learn from the Holocaust, is that to stand by with the knowledge of what's happening, and to do nothing about it, is the reason it happened, and could happen again. Criminal behavior, breaking the human moral code, killing innocent people on behalf of a bizarre half-baked notion that they rightfully should be killed because they are a threat to the rest of the community--that is the mechanism for the Holocaust, or Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign, or the slaughter of innocents in Africa, particularly the Darfur region of Sudan.

But the way this carnage can take place in a "civilized" world--a society which holds enlightened values like every life is sacred--is when the "good" people turn their heads, knowing what's what, and don't do anything about it. And these "good" people--most of us--don't acquiesce to the bad guys out of bad intentions. On the contrary, any moral person is appalled when confronted with the facts of the massacres taking place in Darfur, or the incidence of AIDS among African men and women. We just have so much on our plates there isn't a priority there for us to spend the time to get informed, or lend a hand in person.

That's the lesson learned from the Nazis--when we see it coming again, we have to plant our feet in the ground and hold up our hands and say, "this is not going to happen again. This will stop now." There are some very concerned and interested parties involved in taking this stand. Entertainment personalities who get the exposure, like George Clooney and his father Nick, and Mia Farrow, who have gone to Darfur and reported on the status and jerk the chains of congresspeople and the media are heroes and doing their part. But the media does not do enough to put this in the face of our society. Oprah does, and with all her power and presence, it's not enough without the participation of everyone. Otherwise, in fact, the lesson I think is most important from the past, has not been learned. And innocent people in a part of the world we don't think about very much, people just like you and me, are being hurt, put out of their homes, and killed because we didn't want to pay attention. We're outraged by Alec Baldwin, but Africa is on the back burner.

And of course there was the heart-wrenching, terrible, incomprehensible tragedy of the young man shooting and killing 33 people in Virginia. I have nothing to say about this--it is indescribable, just like 9/11 or any other strange event where human life is lost and injured by another human being, who is also tormented and sick. My wife, Cindy, is a spiritual counsellor who deals with events like this in people's lives. She wrote a newsletter this week to describe her point of view on what happened, and I defer to her discussion of forgiveness:

With regards to the recent university shootings, I'm sure we all feel great sadness and despair. Let us not forget that we are all made of light-even those who do us harm. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, the Virginia University, and to all of those who are made to feel vulnerable and afraid by this young man's actions. He is made of light, however it is very apparent that he forgot this.

Sending light to him, this situation, this fear, this sadness doesn't mean condoning it on any level. Instead it means "sending light" to purify it in all ways. To surrender the condemnation, anger, and rage-all those ingredients that fueled this incident in the first place, are what's most effective for healing to take place in all ways of time. What does this mean? That we send healing energy to all the issues, intentions, confusions, and fears. We send our light to the dark. Sending light to any matter is never a waste of time or energy. In fact, it is the most effective declaration of love that we can send.

"If God's Will for you is complete peace and joy, unless you experience only this you must be refusing to acknowledge His Will. His Will does not vacillate, being changeless forever. When you are not at peace it can only be because you do not believe you are in Him. Yet He is All in all. His peace is complete, and you must be included in it. His laws govern you because they govern everything. You cannot exempt yourself from His laws, although you can disobey them. Yet if you do, and only if you do, you will feel lonely and helpless, because you are denying yourself everything. [This is the] illusion of isolation, maintained by fear." (A Course in Miracles, p. 143.)

Remember, what we focus on expands-and therefore, create more of the same. Send love, blessings, healing, and resolve; otherwise, what we react to-we become.

"Light does not attack darkness, but it does shine it away." (ACIM p.144.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Things Your Mother Never Told You--This Isn't One of Them.

When I was young(er) and my mom told me there are Jews who are anti-semitic. At that innocent idealistic time I thought how awful is it, that a Jewish person would look at Jewish people with the same bigotry as a...bigot.

Then I got less idealistic and less ignorant and found out what was up. Even before I was born, an exchange between an anti-Jewish Jew and her boss, who she thought was Jewish, was recorded in the movie
Gentlemen's Agreement

Elaine Wales: You just let them get one wrong Jew in here, and it'll come out of us. It's no fun being the fall guy for the kikey ones.

Phil Green: Miss Wales, I'm going to be frank with you. I want you to know that words like yid and kike and kikey and coon and nigger make
me sick no matter who says them.

Elaine Wales: Oh, but I only said it for a type.

Phil Green: Yeah, but we're talking about a the word first.

Elaine Wales: Why, sometimes I even say it to myself, about me, I
mean. Like, if I'm about to do something I know I shouldn't, I'll say,
"Don't be such a little kike." That's all.

The big news today is Imus, his racial remarks, and he's getting bumped from the simulcast on MSNBC. (I seem to remember him ranting one morning that MSNBC delivers under 400,000 viewers of his show, while his radio syndication is heard by over 11 million--think MSNBC banning him matters?)

What strikes me is the various firm conclusions we come to based on the flavor of the day. I am as guilty of this as anyone I criticize. The only difference is that I see the shades of grey, while so many of my fellow humans follow the need to categorize, stereotype, and label--to make judgement easier and filing neater. I'm not that organized.

in another in a series of meaningful coincidences in my life (if you have read prior posts, you know I don't believe in random coincidences) I was meant to read several book reviews by very intelligent Rabbi Jack Riemer in the latest issue of Orange County
Jewish Life
. (Sounds like an oxymoron, but the increase in minority
percentages in Orange County over the last two decades is, well, a factor of that increase everywhere.)

While I woke up this morning thinking once again that there was nothing more I needed to know about the place of the Jewish status in the local community, or for that matter, in the world--that Jews are the universal scapegoat, hated by pretty much everyone who is not Jewish; that Jimmy Carter's book rightfully points out the mistakes Israel is making in the effort to defuse fighting and make peace in the Middle East; and that despite this dichotomy, in the end, Jews will have to stand up for themselves in the absence of any gentile aid--I was in for a "rude awakening," or better yet, an enlightening refresh of my preconceived notions, no matter how recently preconceived they are.

You (I) learn something new every day. But you (I) have to keep an open mind.

Then I read the opening of Rabbi Riemer's review of David Mamet's
(yes, THAT David Mamet who writes plays and screenplays) book, THE
; And Semitism, Self Hatred, and the Jews, by David Mamet,
Schocken Books and Nextbook, N.Y. N.Y. 2006, 189 pages, $19.95

"David Mamet begins this book by telling us, "It is for the Jew who in the sixties envied the Black Power movement and in the nineties envied the Palestinians; who wept at the movie Exodus but jeers at the Israeli Defense Forces; who nods when Tevye praises tradition but
fidgets through the seder; who might out of curiosity go to a dogfight
or a bordello or an opium den but who finds ludicrous the notion of a visit to a synagogue; whose favorite Jew is Anne Frank and whose second-favorite does not exist; who is eager to learn about Kwan-zaa
and unashamed of his ignorance of Tu Bishvat; who dreads endogamy more than incest; who bows his head reverently at a baptism and makes crude jokes at a bris — to you — who finds your religion and your race repulsive, and your ignorance of your history satisfying — here is a
book from your brother." '

I was embarrassed because this rabbi was talking to me personally! And his final words were no further comfort for me either:

"We are not used to reading books as blunt and as forthright as this one is. If you know anyone who is Jewish but who bends over backwards to be objective on all Jewish matters, if you know anyone who believes that the Jews must be in some way to blame for the hatred that they endure, buy him this book. It is a real mitzvah to do so."

OK OK--I'll buy it ASAP!

Now I think OK so I'm not as informed as I want to be, once again I've made judgmental conclusions about Carter's book, Israel, the Middle East crisis which stands on end for several decades now, and I need to see all sides. The little right jabs have awakened me, now I get the left hook which leaves me reeling, and ready to learn more.

Rabbi Riemer reviews two more books about the heroes who risked their lives to save the lives of Jews before and during WWII, and they were all not Jewish. Here is the summary of the Rabbi's reviews, which has stayed with me since I read it:

"So here are two books that Jews, as well as Christians, ought to read. They will help Jews overcome the sense of isolation and the belief that the whole world is out to get us, which does no good to our spiritual health. And it will help Christians learn how a few brave and determined people, who followed their consciences instead of their instructions, saved many lives, and how one determined scholar restored the honor of Judaism to many of his Christian brethren."

by Mordecai Paldiel, Ktav MPublishing Co. Jersey City, N.J. 241
pag-les, $29.50

HE ALSO SPOKE AS A JEW: THE LIFE OF THE REV. JAMES I PARKES, by Haim Chertok, Valentine-Mitchell, London, England and Portland,Oregon, 516 pages, $30.

As for Imus and the rest of what's wrong with information on the airwaves--it took a week for MSNBC to assess the amount of problems keeping Imus's simulcast on the air would cause--a week. Then the
MSNBC honchos decided to cut the cord.

A friend of mine in high school once said I sounded like a Kike when I talked. He was no longer my friend in that instant. It didn't take a week, or a day, or an hour to figure it out. When MSNBC considers a comment about "Nappy headed hoes" an insult to everyone, and not just one group, then the real lesson will be learned. Until then, despite my mistakes and judgments, at least I feel like I really know that we're all in this together, and that with all we have to learn, the first thing is to get along as if there were no differences between us.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Let's Call a Spade a Spade

In cards, a spade is a spade. In real life, a bigot is what a bigot says. Imus has been getting away with his borderline semantic shenanigans for years. I stopped listening to him when he admitted he was a fan of former Senator Santorum, a true throwback to antebellum Southern ideals of happy slaves and big plantations.

Now the veteran radio broadcaster has dug himself a hole even his die-hard followers can't haul him out of--He referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy headed hos" last Wednesday. Now it's true he did apologize on air. And it was a thorough and complete apology. So I still think he should "resign," as is the courteous reference to being thrown out of your job on your ass.

It's about time in this great land of ours that those among us with the character to resist our prejudiced natures call for a zero-tolerance on bigotry, racism, and any kind of anti-humane treatment and refernce to any group of people who are either in the minority, and/or are not hurting anyone. This especially goes for the commonly-accepted and tolerated put-downs and denigration, both socially and legally, of homosexuals. And it includes immigrants from anywhere in the world, since we are all members of that quasi-group, unless one is a descended Native American.

And Imus should be done. He's over, history, old news, and bad news. That much negativity on the airwaves put out into the universe is--too much. As Al Sharpton so simply and eloquently put it--"I accept his apology, just as I want his bosses to accept his resignation."
UPDATE 4/12/07:

Newsweek today -- (you do the math...on why Imus won't be fired)

Imus' show is syndicated by Westwood One, which CBS partly owns, and draws an estimated audience of 2.25 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing the trade publication Talkers. According to the Journal, the “Imus in the Morning” show accounts for 25 percent of the revenues of WFAN in New York—or roughly $20 million, The New York Times reported. That figure swells to more than $50 million when ad revenue for affiliates and cable outlet MSNBC are added, according to the Times.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Press Helps Spread Big Pharma Lies

Nice piece in "Tom Paine" today by Bill Scher about big pharma's stifling PR to negotiate medicare drug costs--and the PRESS is helping spread the lies!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wolf's Video in Sheep's Clothing

This isn't as funny or sexy as it is scary.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Can it be? A Ray of Hope?

The biblical parallel to the story of Armageddon which the Middle East strife represents has shown little positive movement toward peace recently. If anything, the fear with which we go to sleep is that we will wake up to another war, with Iran, or between Israel and a neighbor. And that fear includes the vision of a (excuse the double entendre) mushrooming escalation that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

Today, Newsweek reporter Chris Dickey gives a reason to latch on to a laser-thin ray of hope that some minds actually seek peace as means to this conflict:

...[King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia] was on a roll. He used the Arab summit to relaunch a peace initiative he first proposed five years ago. It promises full peace for Israel with all Arab states if the Jewish state withdraws to its 1967 borders and an equitable solution is found for Palestinian refugees. Far from dismissing the plan, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has left the door open to further talks. "Saudi Arabia is the country that in the end will determine the ability of the Arabs to reach a compromise with Israel," he said. To Abdullah, who has seen so much, peace now looks like the best way to revive the beleaguered Arab world—and stifle Iran's ambitions.

The details of the story indicate the same old misreadings and missteps of the Bush administration in the complex world of the Saudi royal family, Palestinian inter-fighting, Jewish statehood, and Iranian ambition. Dickey understands the motivations and the history better than most people, and he gets to the meat of the issues with the players themselves. That's a lot more than can be said of the incompetent brokers-of-peace wannabes--Rice, Cheney and Bush.

The rationale of the Saudi king, and the Israeli Prime Minister, along with patience until the next US President comes to leadership, may stave off the Armageddon long enough to extinguish its real possibility.