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November 2007
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Trying to be perfect is not always perfect

The_scream WBUR had another great show on 12/07/07 hosted by Jacki Lyden on The Perils of Perfectionism. Here is a summary from the On Point web page:

Nobody's perfect, but perfectionism is a virtue -- right? Great athletes, star CEOs, and Nobel laureates embody it. But where does the perfectionist tendency lead? Great success for some -- but then there are the crazy bosses, pushy parents, and high-striving students on the edge of a breakdown.

New research on perfectionism reveals that the urge to get things just right can go too far. It's linked with compulsive behavior, eating disorders, and depression. The perfect, it turns out, really is the enemy of the good -- or, at least, of good health.

There are a number of things which make perfectionism bad for one's physical and mental health. The first is relentlessness. When is enough, enough? Second, is the failure to enjoy one's successes because there is always more that could have been done or some other aspect that could be improved on. Third, is the toil that one's perfectionism takes on others when anxiety and tension escalate if things aren't just right. Fourth, is what I call catastrophizing, that is, when the sky is constantly falling and the person is living in constant agitation and fear over small things making a tempest our of a teapot, and/or a mountain out of a molehill.

You can listen to the show on line or download it.

Link: On Point : The Perils of Perfectionism.


Involuntary outpatient mental health treatment in New York State, Kendra's law, may be a model for others

Bag_lady Chris Jenkins wrote a good article in yesterday's, 12/30/07, Washtington Post about involuntary outpatient mental health treatment. In New York State there is such a law known as Kendra's law and it appears to be successful. It is being looked at closely by other states such as Virginia as a model to replicate.

Susan Wezel had been committed to the city's hospital wards more than a dozen times in 10 years. Her psychosis was so deep and debilitating that she lost her career and her relationship with her son, as she refused to take her medication or follow treatment.

But because of a New York state law, Wezel hasn't been hospitalized in more than a year. She doesn't wander the streets alone at night anymore. She takes her medication willingly. She even has plans to follow her dream of singing at a neighborhood nightspot, something that was unthinkable 18 months ago.

Wezel and her caseworker agree that the transformation occurred because of the law, which allowed officials to force Wezel into an outpatient treatment program after she was discharged from a hospital.

Known as Kendra's Law, it is considered one of the most far-reaching mental health statutes in the country. It gives great latitude to doctors, social workers and relatives to take mentally ill people before a judge to force them into treatment, and it provides money for clinical services.

If you are interested in involuntary outpatient mental health treatment, the article is worth reading.

Link: N.Y. Law Raises Issues of States' Reach in Patient Care - washingtonpost.com.


Hillary supports illegal and immoral force around the world.

Stephen Zunes has a great article on the Foreign Policy In Focus web site published on 12/11/07. Hillary, like Bush and the neo cons, supports a disregard for international law. Here is part of what Zunes writes:

The UN Charter forbids its member states from using military force unless under direct attack or authorized by the UN Security Council. Customary international law allows for pre-emptive war only in cases of an imminent threat, such as troops massing along the border or missiles being loaded onto launchers. Senator Clinton believes that the United States had the legal right to invade Iraq, even though it constituted no threat to the national security of the United States and there had been no authorization by the UN Security Council to use force. Indeed, when the United States launched its invasion of Iraq in March 2003 in defiance of widespread global condemnation of this act of aggression, she voted for a Republican-sponsored resolution categorically declaring that the war was “lawful.”

Senator Clinton has tried to rationalize for her support for this illegal war by claiming that the UN authorized member states to take military action against Iraq in November of 1990. However, that resolution (687) only referred to using such means to enforce resolution 678, which demanded that Iraq withdraw its occupation forces from Kuwait. Once Iraqi forces withdrew – which took place more than a dozen years prior to the 2003 invasion – the resolution was moot.

Similarly, her claim that invading Iraq constituted a legitimate act of self-defense is particularly disturbing. Even if Saddam Hussein had been developing chemical and biological weapons as Senator Clinton falsely alleged, Iraq would have been just one of 40 countries to have developed such arsenals and Iraq had no delivery systems left that were capable of attacking other countries, much less the United States. Her belief that the United States somehow has the right to invade another country simply on the suspicion that it might be developing weapons for future use constitutes a radical departure from international legal norms and is a clear violation of the UN Charter. Hillary Clinton, however, believes the United States should not be bound by such restrictions and that the United States has the right to invade any country that the president believes could even potentially be a threat some time in the future.

A politician who supported preventive war in the past might do so in the future as well. Indeed, Senator Clinton has criticized Bush for allowing the Europeans to lead the diplomatic efforts with Iran over their nuclear program, insisting that the United States should keep “all options on the table,” presumably meaning military force.

The vast majority of Americans are now against the ghastly Iraq war and the saber rattling with Iran. Hillary apparently wants the support of the neo-cons and so she has supported in these pre-emptive, immoral, and illegal war policies. It is hard to know whether she really believes in these policies or is just pandering to the right for their votes. At any rate, the disasterous consequences are the same regardless of her motivation.

Link: Foreign Policy In Focus | Hillary Clinton on International Law.


Markham's top ten films of 2007

Film_awards I don't watch much TV. Rarely.

But I do watch a lot of movies which I get mostly from Netflix.

I love independent films, foreign films, and documentaries. I don't like horror films or sci fi, but I do like drama, comedy, and sometimes a thriller if it isn't too violent. I also love TV series which I can get from Netflix with three or four episodes on a disc and no commercials. Some of the best TV is on HBO and Showtime.

Here is a list of all the movies and shows I watched in 2007 which comes to 81. Following this list, I will give you my top ten. My selection is not based on any criteria other than I enjoyed them and thought that they were a good use of my time.

Must Love Dogs

Tsotsi

Akeelah and the Bee

Take The Lead with Antonio Banderas

The Night Listener

Children Of Men

Venus Beauty Institute

The Sisters

Jesus Camp

An Unfinished Life with Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and Jennifer Lopez

Once Were Warriors – New Zealand Maori film about domestic violence

Radio Flyer

The Five People We Meet In Heaven

After Innocence

My Wife The Actress

Tuesdays With Morrie

Madame Bovary

Marie Antoinette

Wild Hogs

C.R.A.Z.Y.

Raising Victor Vargas

Northfork

The Reckoning

P.S.

300

Amazing Grace

Another Day In Paradise

Half Nelson

The U.S.vs John Lennon

The Shooter

Mi Familia

The Age Of Innocence

Candy

Running With Scissors

Pursuit of Happyness

Spider Man 3

The Wire, season 3

I Am A Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School

Spring Forward

Thou Shalt Laugh

Madea’s Family Reunion

Mozart and the Whale

Rocky Balboa

Weeds Season one 2005

Deadwood, Season 3 2006

Shortbus

Dave Chapelle’s Block Party

30 Days first season (2004)

Live Free of Die Hard

Harsh Times

Sicko

Bobby

Shut Up And Sing – Documentary about the Dixie Chicks

Driving Lessons

Lost In La Mancha

Bourne

Hairspray

No Reservations

I Heart Huckabees

The Same River Twice

The Cockettes

Death At A Funeral

One Day In September

The Thing About My Folks

Being Julia

Miss Potter

Reign over me

Man Pushcart

You Kill Me

This Boys Life

Sense and Sensibility

10 Items or less

Soul Food, Season 2

Brothers and Sisters, Season 1

Offside

Venus

I am Legend

Gracie

Little Women

Jane Eyre

Charlie Wilson’s War

My top ten films of 2007

  1. Children Of Men
  2. Jesus Camp
  3. Amazing Grace
  4. The US vs. John Lennon
  5. Sicko
  6. Shut Up and Sing
  7. Miss Potter
  8. You Kill Me
  9. Gracie
  10. Charlie Wilson's War

I also recommend the TV shows: The Wire, Deadwood, and Soul Food. 


Markham's Top Five non fiction books of 2007

Nonfiction_books I read a lot of non-fiction books which I never finish. I often just read parts of them. Here is the list of non-fiction books which I read or listened to all the way through in 2007.

Chalice and Blade by Riane Eisler

An Outlaw In My Heart by Stephen Gaskin

American Fascists: The Conservative Right and the War On America by Christopher Hedges

Understanding the Borderline Mother by Christine Anne Lawson

A Chosen Faith by John A. Buehrens

Amish Grace by Donald Kraybill et al.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Here are my top five non-fiction books in no particular order

  1. Understanding the Borderline Mother by Christine Ann Lawson
  2. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
  3. Amish Grace by Donald Kraybill et al.
  4. An Outlaw In My Heart by Stephen Gaskin
  5. American Fascists: The Conservative Right and The War On America by Christopher Hedges

Markham's Top five fiction books of 2007

Fiction_books I have a lot of books. People say, "Dave do you read all these books?" I say, "Probably a chapter."

I read before I go to sleep at night. So it takes me usually 3 or 4 weeks to finish a book. Many I start and don't finish. My life is getting too short to waste my time on books I don't like. Here is the list of the fiction books I read or listend to all the way through in 2007..

Book Of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Disobedience by Jane Hamilton

The Heart Is Its Own Reason by Natalee Caple

Mackerel Sky by Natalee Caple

Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Thinks by David Lodge

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

The Secret Ever Keeps by Art Tirrell

Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Hercules by Jeanette Winterson

Living With Saints by Mary O’Connell

Molokai by Alan Brennert

Water For Elephants by Sarah Gruen

Postcards by Annie Proulx

The Winder of My Discontent by John Steinbeck

Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris

My top five in no particular order are:

  1. The Heart Is Its Own Reason by Natalee Caple
  2. Molokai by Alan Brennert
  3. Water For Elephants by Sarah Gruen
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  5. The Book Of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

I recommend all these books and by far have given more copies of Molakai away as gifts than any other book in my life.


Local communities stand up to corporate power

43pibel_bumper165_248 What's wrong with our democracy?

The corporations have all the power, and the people in the communities in which corporations have a vested interest be damned.

How did this happen?

The Supreme Court said in 1819 that corporations are persons and have the same rights as a human person would have.

Douglas Pibel has a great article in the Fall 2007 issue of YES! magazine entitled "Communities Take Power". Here is what Pibel writes about corporations being given the rights of humans:

In 1819, the Supreme Court declared for the first time that corporations are entitled to protection under the Constitution. That case started in New Hampshire. Since then, corporations have been granted virtually all the rights constitutionally guaranteed to human beings. They use those rights to site polluting feedlots, dump toxic sludge, build big-box stores, and take municipal water to sell, all whether citizens want them to or not.

Corporations get into "site fights" with local communities when they want to put a Wal-Mart in a rural town which will kill off many of the local businesses, or open a mine, or take their water as they tried to do in Barnstead, NH.

One-at-a-time regulatory battles over a single project—whether sludge dumping, a Wal-Mart, or a nuclear power plant—are called “site fights.” They are sometimes successful, although only about one time in 10. Even then, defeated corporations are free to try again, as Wal-Mart frequently does when citizens defeat its siting plans.

The problem is that the system isn’t set up to protect the rights or interests of the average human. Rick Smith of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) says that when people realize that corporate rights override community rights it’s “shocking to them.”

That the rights of a legal fiction, the corporation, trump the rights of human beings is the result of years of work by corporations to bend legislation and court rulings in their favor. Since the Supreme Court first cracked the constitutional door in 1819, it has steadily opened it wider, giving corporations virtually every protection in the Bill of Rights.

The Court, for instance, held that corporations have First Amendment rights to free speech and, in a later case, said that free speech includes spending money on political campaigns. Corporations have acquired full due process rights, a right to Fifth Amendment compensation for governmental “takings,” and a right to require search warrants, even for OSHA safety inspections.

Communities sometimes rally around a single issue whether its the siting of a new super store, dumping sludge, opening a landfill, etc., but the problem runs deeper in terms of local control. The corporations have the time, the resources and the expertise to exhaust regulatory oversite and usually prevail in time in spite of what local community people desire. Corporate power trumps local democratic processes.

They already had experience with the regulatory system, having worked to get the town to ban local dumping of Class A sewage sludge. Once that ban was in place, the corporations shipping the sludge simply got it reclassified as Class B biosolids, and the town was back to square one.

“That was my first introduction to the regulatory process which actually does not allow citizens to say ‘No’ to anything,” Darrell says. “All corporations have to do is change a word and they get their way.”

If screwing with the wording of the regulatory process doesn't work, corporations just get new laws written.

If corporations don’t get the results they want in court, they can take the more direct approach of tailoring their own legislation. In a world where politicians depend on money to get elected, having a constitutional right to write big checks gains valuable access. Having a say in federal legislation is particularly useful since the Commerce Clause of the Constitution says that federal law trumps state law on matters of interstate commerce.

What's the answer?

Thomas Linzey, the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, CEDLF, thinks he has a possible strategy.

CELDF’s model ordinances go beyond zoning or other efforts to control corporate behavior. They ban corporations from specific operations altogether, citing the Declaration of Independence, international law, state law conferring rights on citizens, and the general rights of human beings to govern themselves and take care of their own communities.

Does the CELDF strategy work?

So far it has saved the water in Barnstead, NH township when USA Springs wanted to start pumping millions of gallons of water from their water table for corporate profit.

Barnstead is located just south of New Hampshire’s lakes region. The Suncook River runs through town, and four lakes are within the town limits. It’s a water-rich community sitting on a big aquifer.

Which puts it in the crosshairs of corporate water miners. As bottled water has become a “must have” commodity generating nearly $10 billion a year in consumer spending, corporations have descended on communities like Barnstead and set up pumping operations. They extract hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day, bottle it, and ship it out for profit. Taking that much water raises the specter of lowered water tables and dry wells, infiltration of pollutants or saltwater, and damage to wetlands. The townspeople lose control of one of the necessities of life.

Barnstead residents watched as nearby Barrington and Nottingham fought to block multinational corporation USA Springs from taking their water. They saw those communities work through the state regulatory system and, after years of labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, find themselves without a remedy. Corporations, they were told, have constitutional rights that limit what regulators can do with zoning or other land-use controls.

To read more about how local communities are standing up to corporate power click on the link below and visit the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund web site.

Link: Communities Take Power by Doug Pibel - Barnstead NH fights off USA Springs.


Andy Borowitz offers his predictions for 2008

Andy Borowitz is a funny, funny guy. He usually gets a laugh out of me. His latest piece describes his predictions month by month for 2008. Here are just a couple:

February: Responding to the controversy over the CIAs’ waterboarding videotapes, President Bush will reaffirm his administration’s opposition to videotaping.

April: Monica Lewinsky will announce her candidacy for President of the United States. She will offer herself as an alternative to Hillary, saying, “It worked before.”

You can read the whole piece by clicking on the link below.

Link: The Borowitz Report .com.


The Innocent Man, the book

The Innocent Man by John Grisham, his first non-fiction book, is an important book which tells the story of the perversity of the criminal justice system when prosecutors are narcissistic despots, cops are corrupt, judges are officious functionaries, and juries are prejudiced mobs who care nothing for facts, evidence, and the truth.

Ron Williamson, a mentally ill ex professional baseball player, is framed for a murder he did not commit and was a couple of weeks from being executed before some diligent indigent defense attorneys finally got a decent judge to review the error riddled original trial and put a stay on the execution. Barry Sheck's Innocence Project finally did DNA testing which found that Williamson and the other man framed, Dennis Fritz, could not have committed the crime.

If you have the misguided notion that our criminal justice system is fair, impartial, and accurate, you will be quickly dissuaded from that notion reading this book.

This is one of Grisham's most important books, and it is a book every American who cares about the criminal justice system and human rights should read. I highly recommend it.

Link: Amazon.com: The Innocent Man: Books: John Grisham.