Category Archives: A blogger’s musings

Explaining a lengthy hiatus

We’ve been offline for some days now, and for those who follow our meandering musings, an explanation is in order.

It begins, of course, with that chemotherapy that so dominated our life following the removal of a cancerous bladder and prostate some 16 months ago.

Chemo’s no picnic in itself, what with the attendant nausea, constipation, and general enervation that comes when your flood the body with a noxious, toxic brew designed to bring you close to the brink of death in order to kill off something even more deadly [and of the two malignancies we contracted, the micropapillary variety that had ravaged our bladder had also escaped the organ and spread to at least one lymph node — necessitating the chemo].

But what has been worse in many regards has been the accompanying neurological damage wrought by the chemo — something we weren’t anticipating.

In brief, the chemo has left the soles of our feet tingling, both benumbed and painful, as when sensation begins to return after they “fall asleep” and begin the reawakening process. And in the same way as walking becomes awkward and somewhat painful in that state because the brain isn’t getting feedback critical for balance, so now is every step we take.

And the attempt to stand on a chair to grab a photo becomes almost impossible, because the balance has been critically, and we fear, permanently impaired.

If that weren’t enough, there’s the hearing. Or, rather, the increasing lack of it.

For some thirty-fove years or more we’ve also been afflicted with another ailment, rheumatoid arthritis [RA], in which the body’s immune system is somehow reprogrammed to attack the connective tissue, in particular, the sinovial tissue that protects the joint, in a process that’s quite literally inflammatory.

To battle RA, doctors prescribe a mix of immunosuppressants [including one drug, methotrexate, also used in cancer chemo and which in itself can be carcinogenic [go figure]. But another class of drugs is used to treat thre inflammatory symptoms, the so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, of NSAIDS.

Now one of the side effects of long-term NSAID use is loss of high frequency hearing accompanied by tinnitus, more commonly known as rining in the ears.

Now, thanks to chemo, our high frequency hearing loss is accompanied by low frequency hearing loss — effectively masking out much of the sounds of everyday life. In consequence, going to movies has lost much of its pleasure, and everyday conversations have become a chore, as we miss much of what is said.

There’s no effective treatment for the feet, and the cost of hearing appliances [which offer minimal help] is beyond our means.

There’s also another neurological impact of chemo, and that’s on the hippocampus, a tiny seahorse-shaped organ [hence the name] buried deep in the brain that plays a critical role in memory function.

During and immediately after the chemo, we had noticed significant impairment in memory function, and while there’s been noticeable improvement since, we still don’t feel entirely up to snuff.

And then there’s the whole question of work, of finding a way to put our skills to work in a way that brings in a modest flow of revenue to keep the whole game afloat.

So what happened?

Basically, we hit a wall.

Pondering the next step

We’ve spent much of the last year working a dozen or more hours a day to assemble collections of headlines revealing patterns of exploitation at work in nations across the globe as those already rich exploited the global crisis to consolidate wealth and power and transform populations into indentured serfs, shackled by debt.

We left conclusions to readers, assuming that those who chanced upon our efforts could discern patterns emerging from seemingly disparate events.

Then came Edward Snowden’s revelations of the deep forces at work within our newly digitized world, as well as emerging “security” crises exploited by the same forces which had broiught the world to the brink of financial disaster.

In time, the cumulative impact of all our reading — combined with the impacts of the chemo and our relative isolation — took its toll.

So now we’re left, at age 67 and still an agry young man, pondering what step to take next as our physical and fiscal resources dwindle.

Also up for question is what shape esnl will assume next.

We have no answers. . .

Grandpa alert: Sadie Rose pays a visit

Sadie Rose, her mom and dad, Grandma B, and mom’s old friend came for a visit, and we headed out for a delightful lunch at Berkeley’s own Easy Creole.

After lunch, we cleared the table and mom put her down on the nice, cool ceramic tile tabletop. The first reaction, uncertainty. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

And the tile feels so strange, so cool on her hands. . .

    18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.6

And decides she likes it. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

And so does mommy, and whilst daddy’s busy textin’. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

Sadie discovers she can crawl! Mom, dad, and Grandma take delight!

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

And Grandpa’s happy too. . .and so is Sadie Rose!

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.34 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.34 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

Grandpa alert: Sadie Rose, leanin’ in

Another shot of granddaughter arrived form Grandma, and how could we not share?:

BLOG Sadie Rose leanin in

Hail and farewell: Sid Caesar, a legend, now gone

For a child growing up in a Kansas farm town in the 1950s, Sid Caesar came as a revolution. Along with Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen, Caesar brought a brilliance to network television never quite seen since.

He gave us 90 minutes of scripted live comedy every week, written by a crew that included Mel Simon, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, and Larry Gelbart — each of whom developed into stars.

His humor was nothing short of surreal, and his curfew of actors were sumply brilliant.

Caesar gave a farm town kid a whole new take on the world, daring, outrageous, and profoundly subversive.

And now he’s gone.

First, the story from Reuters:

Comic showman Sid Caesar, a pioneer of American television sketch comedy as the star and creative force of “Your Show of Shows” during the 1950s, died on Wednesday at age 91, according to his friend and former collaborator Carl Reiner.

Reiner told Reuters he learned of Caesar’s death from a mutual friend, actor and writer Rudy De Luca, who had recently visited Caesar at his Los Angeles-area home. He said the veteran entertainer had been ill for at least a year.

One of the most ambitious and demanding of all TV enterprises, “Your Show of Shows” was 90 minutes of live, original sketch comedy airing every Saturday night, 39 weeks a year. It is widely considered the prototype for every U.S. TV sketch comedy series that followed, including “Saturday Night Live.”

Some clips for your consideration of live, prime time comedy at its best.

From Kovacs Corner:

Sid Caesar: “Big Business” with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris

Program notes:

He is perhaps not considered as “avant garde” as Ernie Kovacs, nonetheless Sid Caesar (along with co-stars Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, and Nanette Fabray) created two of the most popular and funny comedy shows during the 1950′s, “Your Show of Shows” and later “Caesar’s Hour”. It is ironic that Sid was chosen by director Stanley Kramer to replace Ernie as the character “Melville Crump” in the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

And one his most memorable skits, based on a huge prime time hit, This is Your Life.

From Kovacs Corner:

Sid Caesar: “This is Your Story” with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris (Full Sketch)

Program notes:

[From “Kovacs Corner” on] – Before video tape, when a live prime time television series went on mid year hiatus, the networks would broadcast “summer replacements”. During the year 1957, “The Ernie Kovacs Show” was the summer replacement program for “Caesar’s Hour”. Earlier known as “Your Show of Shows”, it starred the legendary TV comedian Sid Caesar, with co-stars Carl Reiner and the late Howard Morris. With a writing staff that included among others Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon and Mel Tolkin, it was one of the premier comedy shows of it’s time. This particular sketch satirizes one of the most popular programs of it’s day “This is Your Life” which starred Ralph Edwards and it is, in my opinion, one of the funniest comedy sketches ever performed on television. Howard Morris’ over-the-top performance as “Uncle Goopy” put an audience in stitches 50 years ago and he can do it again with equal ease today! After Kovacs’ untimely death, Sid was called upon by director Stanley Kramer to replace Ernie in the role of “Melville Crump” in the1963 film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

Finally, and from Isabel Karp:

Sid Caesar: Health Food Restaurant

Program note:

Sid Caesar Performs Health Food Restaurant with Howard Morris, Imogene Coca, and Carl Reiner.

So farewell, Sid Caesar, the noblest comedian of them all. . .

South Berkeley Street Seens: New Year’s Eve

Sights encountered on a stroll to the Adeline Street post office.

First, a skyline seen at the end of the block. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 47.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.8

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 47.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.8

A fencesitter encountered in a town known for treesitters. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/320 sec, f4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/320 sec, f4

And a face-to-face encounter. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4 mm, 1/400 sec, f4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4 mm, 1/400 sec, f4

A fellow pedestrian. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 16.1 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.2

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 16.1 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.2

Traces left by a pedestrian past. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 125, 31.5 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 125, 31.5 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.4

Evidence of another past walker. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.4

Adeline Street Post Office parking lot skyline. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/1300 sec, f3.3

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/1300 sec, f3.3

The Stately Homes of Prince Street. . .

BLOG Stately r

And the latest sigil appearing on the wall near Casa esnl. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 31.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 31.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.4

And, after the jump, the obligatory selfie. . . Continue reading

Just emerging from a 14-hour power outage

Winds, magnificent air-clearing, street-sweeping. . .and power-line-downing.

From the Oakland Tribune:

Powerful winds that reached 65 mph Thursday night in parts of the East Bay and contributed to two deaths in Oakland had calmed by Friday morning, but thousands of PG&E customers were still without power and emergency personnel and cleanup crews were scrambling to new reports of fallen trees and power lines.

As of 7:45 a.m. 12,500 PG&E customers in the East Bay were without power, including 9,000 in Oakland and 3,100 in Berkeley, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said.

At the height of the windstorms Thursday night, 42,500 East Bay PG&E customers were without power, Morris said.

Read the rest.

Censorship by WordPress: Vanishing Horst Wessel

In the post below on the catastrophic conditions in Greece, we wrote this paragraph:

The rise of the bloody-minded Golden Dawn, that cadre of thugs who give the Hitler salute and sing the Horst Wessel Song [missing words and links], accounts for most of the body count in this from Kathimerini English:

The missing words are these: “Greek version, the German original,” with YouTube links to the first and last two words. Yet when we published the post, there’s nothing but a space between the word “Song” and the comma.

It’s not a one-time fluke, as we have tried to include the original words and links no fewer than four separate times.

We loathe both Golden Dawn and their German predecessors, but we considered the links important, as they impart a visceral sense of just how powerful the melody and words really are to give the reader and listener a sense of the forces now being aroused in Greece.

This is the only time in our four years of writing this blog that we’ve encountered overt censorship by WordPress, which apparently has a program routine to block the linking of written reference to the song with You Tube videos.

A sad day indeed.

Sadie Rose meets Grandpa esnl for first time

Another shot of esnl‘s first encounter with Granddaughter Sadie Rose. . .

17 September 2013, Motorola XT907, 1/2 sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

17 September 2013, Motorola XT907, 1/2 sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

Chart of the day II: mulling suicide bombers

Fox News performed a fete of semantic legerdemain, transforming the suicide bomber into the homicide bomber. The term is inaccurate, because it encompasses, by the very definitions of the words, folks ranging from drone pilots, to order-giving generals, malcontents of all political types and degrees of mental anguish, and anyone else who kills another person by means of an explosive device.

No, suicide is definitely the right word. The bomber, deprived of drones, tanks, and missiles, uses him/herself as the delivery vehicle, with — for some Muslims — the belief that a sensual paradise awaits.

As the American navy neared the Japanese home islands, a new phenomenon arose, the Kamikaze, or Divine Wind — suicide bombers sitting in pilot’s seat, invoking the typhoons that saved Japan from Mongol invaders seven centuries earlier.

But the suicidal fighter is legendary in the West as well, starting the those 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. I also remember a comic book from childhood celebrating an American fighter/bomber pilot who refused to eject and remained at the controls of his disabled plane, steering it and its bomb payload into a Japanese cruiser. A real hero, that guy, right?

Recall, too, that all those who took up the Cross on those crusades that spread blood and gore across Europe and the Middle East were assured a straight ticket into heaven — a papal get-out-of-purgatory-free card — should they die in their endeavor to seize and hold that often-gore-drenched land they — and others — believed holy.

And all in the name of one who had taught his followers forgiveness and cheek-turning.

Recall also that during one crusade in France, a commander of the papal-sanctioned crusaders was legendarily said to have instructed his troops, when asked what to do to sort out the Albigensian heretics from the honest Catholics in a city just taken by siege, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” Or, and more formally, according to Wikipedia,

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. [Kill them. For the Lord know those that are His own.]

The bottom line: God would take care of those who died in His service, and to hell [literally] with the rest. If you happened to lose your head along the way, heaven awaits.

Consider also those American soldiers who’ve been honored posthumously for saving the lives of comrades by throwing themselves on grenades, a suicide by bombing of another sort.

Note also that most cultures honor warriors who knowingly gave their lives to save their comrades in honor of a cause.

Remember the Alamo!

And you can rest assured, occupants of German working class neighborhoods intentionally firebombed to disrupt military production certainly thought of the American and British pilots delivering the firestorms as homicide bombers. But target residential neighborhoods we did, using knowledge developed by bombing mockups of apartments built in deep isolation in the Utah desert.

Bombers suffered enormous casualty rates, and pilots who bailed out over Germany were often lynched as murderers [homicide bombers as it were] before police or troops could arrive. And instead of breaking working class morale, the bombing appeared to embitter them against the Americans and British. All of this was known to the bomber crews, along with the certainty that their chances of survival diminished with every mission [an interesting word in itself].

For today’s suicide bomber as for those ancient Spartans and so many others, believes their actions justified by their cause, even to the point of certain death.

And in most cases, the act is one of passionate sincerity, which can itself frighten those who don’t happen to espouse their own differing views with the same intensity.

Enough musings.

From Muslim Publics Share Concerns about Extremist Groups, Much Diminished Support for Suicide Bombing, a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project on a survey of 11 Muslim populations in countries “from South Asia to the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa.”:

BLOG Suicide

From the 1960s, by Walt Kelly and still timely

Walt Kelly‘s Pogo was a reservoir of delight in our Boomer youth, offering a wry satirical look in the most genial of guises. Here’s an example, one just as timely today as it was a half-century ago:


Sadie Rose, asleep and well protected

Granddaughter now three weeks old! Ahhhhh. . . .

BLOG Sadie Rose edit

A pair of blasts from the pasts: Price & Newhart

Back when esnl was a lad, during the first years of the baby boom, Vincent Price was a familiar figure to anyone who’d ever spent Saturday afternoons at the movies.

Back in Abilene, Kansas, a quarter would get you a ticket, a soda, a small popcorn, and a jawbreaker, plus two feature films, a short, and a half dozen or so cartoons — while giving mom and dad time of their own. All in all, a solid deal.

Saturday matinee films tended come in three flavors, western, comedy, and scary, with the occasional war film thrown in.

Scary films in those days weren’t today’s graphic gore-fests, and the actors often tended a bit toward the hammy. One staple of Boomer scary film fare was Vincent Price, he of the arch features and delightfully lugubrious manner of speaking. If Price was on screen, you were certain to be entertained.

We only ecountered Price once, when we did a freelance photo shoot of the pilot for a weekly television poetry series that never got off the ground. But we got to heard Price, Leonard Nimoy, and a half dozen other stars read some of the greaters, as well as their own compositions.

Here’s Price reciting the same poem on another occasion:

Another figure from Boomer childhoods is Bob Newhart, who gave up accounting for standup, most famously telephone routines in his early years.

Our high school honors history teacher played some of Newhart’s historical sketches to spark some interesting and iconoclastic discussions.

Newhart moved from standup into television sitcoms, starring in four of them.

Newhart’s humor is dry, relying more on wit than shock to evoke laughter, and managed to include a slightly subversive edge. His shows were always reliable for a least a chuckle or two, and lots of smiles.

On 22 May 1995, Newhart appeared before the National Press Club, an appearance that almost co-stars the club president, a journalist who sounds like Harvey Firestein and possessed the chutzpah to steal one of the comedian’s routines.

Here’s the video of the appearance, coming near the end of Newhart’s career in weekly television comedy. Enjoy:

Snowden = whistleblower, res ipsa loquitur

There’s only one relevant point to the argument, and it’s made in the Preamble to this nation’s foundational document, the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

The logic is simple: just powers only come with the consent of those over whom they’re exercised.

But esnl doesn’t recall consenting to the government arrogating to itself the power to monitor the most private thinking of every one of us who uses a telephone or connects to the Internet — indispensable adjuncts of human relationship in the course of daily life in this world of ours. Nor did we consent to the photographing of the exteriors of every single piece of mail we get, data to be stored away for if and when.

We have an absolute right to know of the existence of such a program, nowhere more evident than in the ways millions of people will be altering the ways threy communicate, ever conscious that other eyes may be watching, other ears hearing.

The full and free flow of ideas is the beating heart of democracy.

A paranoid, self-censoring citizenry is dystopian, and profoundly anti-democratic, but such is the populace Barack Obama would give us.

The “terror” cited as justification for our Orwellian world is largely a direct result of our own government’s meddling. We armed and inspired the folks who became the Taliban and Al Queda to use them against the Soviets, and we have long empowered the most oppressive regimes in the Gulf states, all the better to keep that oil flowing our way.

And when the violence backfires, more violence follows in other lands and more repression and surveillance happens at home.

Edward Snowden made us indelibly aware of how we are perceived by those who hold the reins of government. Each of us is a suspect, waiting to be confirmed by metadata and the contents of our digital communications.

We have a right to know that, and Edward Snowden was right to blow the whistle. We owe him thanks, not prison.

A Baby’s Tale, starring Sadie Rose

More photos of  the granddaughter arrived by email, and they seemed to tell a story. . .

Whoa, dude, what have I gotten into? SOmething doesn’t feel right!

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

and what’s with these giants? that’s just strange.

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

You say it’s gonna be all right? You can fix it?

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

Uhhhh. that was wet and sticky and. . .ohhhhh bunnies!

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. . . . . .zzzzzzzzzz

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

8 August 2013, Motorola XT907, ? sec, 4.36 mm, f2.4

Welcome to Sadie Rose Brenneman

Born at 20:05 on 29 July 2013, weighing eight pounds and two ounces, and taping in at 20.5 inches. grandkid by Number One Daughter Jacqueline Elizabeth!

29 July 2013, Motorola XT907, 4.36 mm, 0.7 sec, f2.4

29 July 2013, Motorola XT907, 4.36 mm, 0.7 sec, f2.4

Grandpa alert: Sadie delivery coming soon

Yep, esnl‘s elder daughter Jacqueline Elizabeth is in labor and expected to give birth to her first sometime around midnight down in L.A.

Happy birthday 118, Richard Buckminster Fuller

Bucky and AnneThe late and remarkable Bucky Fuller [with his beloved Anne], polymath, gentle genius, friend, and the subject of our first book, born this day in 1895. We shot the photo during the final interview session for the book. He told us this was the best picture of the two of them he’d sever seen, making our day.

150 years ago, a battle was fought

BLOG 19 November civil war

Back in 1902, a great-grandfather, Albert Coleman, paid a visit to the scene of a merciless fight he’d fought 39 years before. Here he stands on the left, bearded and bemedaled, in the rocks of Devil’s Den, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in the bloodiest war in the nation’s history in the late afternoon of 2 July 1863.

The Civil War broke one of Dad’s grandfathers, Lewis Geaque, who served in the 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry at the spear-point of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Ever afterward, he refused to speak of the war and suffered from severe depression. Today they’d call it PTSD. Then, they called it “nostalgia.”

NSA Spying: But is it good for the ‘Ray People’?

Way back in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, reporters working nights often received phone calls from troubled folks insistent that government spies [ours or “theirs”] were using secret rays to read their minds.

Never mind that most of the folks so afflicted had little in their minds worth ray extraction. They were convinced, and no rational argument would disabuse them of their illusions.

We remember in particular one fellow who called the newsroom of the short-lived Tucson Daily American back in 1967, complaining that “Red Chinese have taken over the grocery store on the corner, and they’re using to control my mind with black rays.”

It being a slow night and we being without any pressing duties, we allowed our caller to indulge himself in what turned out to be a florid, fluent, and effulgent cascade of paranoiac ideation.

We interviewed him just as we would have a non-paranoid caller, and found ourselves continuously amazed at the peculiar internal coherence and rationality of his rant.

The details are long faded from memory, merged with those of a dozen or so similar callers over the years. One thing stands out from each instance: Each caller was invariably the very last person real wielders of mind-controlling rays would ever seek to influence.

Another category of folks was both more numerous and slightly more plausible, folks who weren’t threatened with transformation into ray robots. These folk were those who merely insisted they were being spied on by Uncle Sam, their phones tapped, their mail opened. And some of these people would later turn out to be correct; the FBI really was wiretapping and bugging, and without benefit of legal cover.

But most of the folks who feared wiretapping, eavesdropping, and mail-reading were like the ray people, so insignificant in the scheme of things as to be irrelevant to the folks with the real power to invade their lives.

For this latter group, the revelation that their communications really are being captured and stored away in technological catacombs may actually be therapeutic. Or so speculates David Kimhy, director of the Experimental Psychopathology Lab at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry in an interview by Caitlin Shure of Scientific American:

“If you think the American government is spying on you, that’s one thing,” says Kimhy. “If you think it’s Russian intelligence, that wouldn’t have the same impact.” Still, he clarifies that in cases of individuals whose delusional narratives involve something resembling the NSA’s PRISM program, certainly, real-life manifestations of imagined threats could interact with symptoms of psychosis.

“Another piece of information added to other information, real or imagined, naturally would add some stress,” says Kimhy. However, he speculates that current events could alternatively offer a therapeutic benefit in such cases.

“The thought that the government is following everyone, in a paradoxical way, may take away from the delusion,” says Kimhy. Individuals with persecutory delusions usually feel that they are unique targets; thus, the broad net of surveillance that is so troubling to the NSA’s critics might reduce feeling of persecution in an individual who previously believed the government was only after him. Indeed, the therapist might use this broadness as a context in which to discuss the patient’s delusions. “You could ask, ‘What’s so unique to you? What special powers do you have? And by the way, why don’t we talk about those special powers,’” says Kimhy.

Read the rest.

In other words, as folks used to quip back in the ’60′s, “You may be paranoid, but they really are out to get you. Or at least your metadata.”

B ut he still doesn’t answer the real question, “Is it good for the Ray People?”

Elder daughter scores The Ellen Show’s loot

Elder daughter Jackie, a graduate of NYU and the UC Irvine Law School’s inaugural class, was lucky enough to score an audience seat for the Mother’s Day edition of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

She’s pregnant, you see, which was the primary requirement that also scored her a whole bundle of loot just for showing up.

She also scored some camera time, becoming the first audience member picked for a Q&A session with DeGeneres and pal Bethenney Frankel. The whole episode is a classic example of what every dad loves to hear a daughter discuss on nationwide television. . .

There’s a certain irony in all this, in that Jackie started college as an acting major before switching to anthropology as an NYU undergrad. But it’s only been in the last four weeks she got her breakthrough into national media, first on NBC News live from Boston talking about her experiences of the Marathon Day bombings followed by her appearance with Ellen.