the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.


In human behavior on January 11, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Some thoughts:

1) Gun rights advocates should probably stop arguing that more handguns would have a preventative effect. The data are not on their side. The American Journal for Public Health released a UPENN study in a late 2009—unique in that it explored a gun-holder’s safety and/or risk at the time of a shooting—that found “people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.”

2) Representative Giffords was shot while engaging in an event that gets close to the ideal of democracy—the hyper-local, issue-based community meeting. A suggestion: for one week, representatives of both federal chambers, with a member of the opposite political party present and engaged, should hold policy discussions with their constituents. The President and our new speaker, John Boehner, should set the tone by answering questions about health care, the budget, Afghanistan, etc. in front of  citizens of Ms. Giffords’ district. Don’t televise it. Don’t beem it over the radio. Don’t tweet about it. Just talk. Rationally. Together.

3) I don’t want to try to glean the motive of a young man who unloaded multiple rounds into that crowd on Saturday. Nor do I want to suggest that his underlying mental health condition (I was one DSM subcategory away from diagnosing him with Schizoaffective disorder simply from anecdotes—tendency to wear bright clothing, persecutorial delusions, etc—about him in a NYT article) can or should wholly explain this crime. But any constituent of a Republican house member should realize what repealing the Affordable Care Act would do to Mental Health support in America. Linked here is a list of provisions that the ACA includes to help reduce the stigma and improve the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Tell your congressperson that we need to not just keep these reforms on track, but continue to explore new ways to improve this specialized care modality.

4) Diagnosis and monitoring remains the toughest aspect to treating psychiatric disorders, so my last suggestion is directed at Google and Facebook: Use all that private profile information, partner with national mental health professionals to establish algorithms that could flag accounts that have profile-updating or search patterns consistent with the behavior of those effected by specific mental illness, and design some sort of outreach to these individuals.


Weekend Diversions

In distraction! distraction! distraction! on January 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

To Watch: the hilarious new video for Destoyer’s “Kaputt,” the 70’s-sax-heavy title track of the canadian Dylan sound-alike’s upcoming LP: 

To Hear: Phillip Gourevitch, from a early episode of This American Life, discussing how Rwandan Hutus, while running from a genocide they committed in the early 90’s, used humanitarian aid groups to recast themselves as refugees and victims.

To read: Clancy Martin’s narrative essay on AA. It is exceptional for many reasons, foremost among them Martin’s ability to present all of the sides of the AA debate (concerning the efficacy of AA’s method, or its religiosity) not as a meta-analysis of alcoholism, but as a personal struggle to accept that the message or support he receives from AA shifts from meeting to meeting. Indeed, the meaning of sobriety comes in forms as diverse as the chain-smoking, coffee-chugging men and women that sit beside him.

To Jam out to: The first two singles off of the Smith Westerns’ Dye it Blonde. “Weekend” and “All Die Young” are just unfairly blithe—perfect pop-rock beemed down from some past or future summer, just in time for the coldest days of the year.




Eggplant Fries w/ Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

In foodstuffs on January 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm

These aren’t really “fries,” per se. If you cut them the size of large-ish baby carrots, they will keep their rigidity.

What you’ll need:

3 chinese eggplants, salt, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, creamy peanut butter, ginger, anise seed.

What you’ll do:

1) Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice each eggplant length-wise into 6 slender wedges. Salt generously and let sit in a bowl. Some of the eggplant’s bitter juices will seep out. After 10-15 minutes, rinse and pat dry.

2) While waiting, make your dipping sauce: dump a thumb-length of fresh, peeled ginger; 2 tbs of apple cider vinegar, a glug of olive oil, and several dollops of peanut butter into a blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate

3) Throw eggplant wedges into a plastic bag. Add 2 glugs of olive oil, and shake to coat the vegetables evenly. Add minced garlic (2 cloves), anise seed, and red pepper flakes and shake again to evenly distribute the spices.

4) Place the wedges on a baking pan. Bake until golden on both sides (flip halfway through the 20 minute baking time. Dip.