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November 2003
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January 2004

Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals

Don't believe everything you read in medical journals. It seems that pharmaceutical companies hire ghostwriter's to write up studies that tout their drugs and then get physicians and other scientists to agree to put their names on them.

Can't believe it? Read the investigative article linked below in the Guardian Unlimited in UK published on December 7, 2003

The Observer | UK News | Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals

Brain Rewards Us for Laughing


My daughter, Maureen, just got married on December 13th, 2003, to Rodney, a great guy. When they were visiting a week before the wedding, late one night we were talking and Maureen said to me, "Dad what do you think is the most important thing in marriage?"

I only had to think a second and I said, "Having a good sense of humor."

"Really?", they both said to me looking surprised.

I felt kind of defensive. I wondered to myself what they expected me to say? Probably something like "good communication" or "sharing your faith" ( you know the old cliche about families that pray together, stay together), or "never go to bed angry" which is absolute garbage because sometimes couples need to "sleep on it" and things don't seem as big and important, or as urgent, in the morning when people are rested.

Well, here is the report of a study that shows that ole Dad may be right after all.

Laughing makes us feel good and we are attracted to humor. On the contrary, one of the earliest signs of stress and depression is the loss of a sense of humor. And then there is the idea that "humorless people" have problems in relationships.

I know when I am getting irritable, and not likely to be much fun to be around, I tell myself to "lighten up".

Laughing may be one of those trigger symptoms. It is kind of like a reading on the barometric pressure. When we loose our sense of humor we need to check out what is going on and deal with it and lighten up.

In other studies of happily married couples, when they are asked what makes them happy they say something like "We laugh together" or "We have the same kind of sense of humor." or "He/she makes me laugh."

So humor is no laughing matter to use the overworked cliche. Rather it is one of life's most valuable coping mechanisms. As they say, "You can either laugh or cry." I recommend a good balance of both.

MEDLINEplus: Brain Rewards US for Laughing: Study

Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the film


Do you know who the Funk Brothers are?

This group of musicians have played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music.

"In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers."

I loved this movie distributed in 2002. It is the story of the studio musicians who made the Motown artists so popular and number one hits.

I highly recommend this film if you are over 50.

If you are under 50 and interested in music history you would love it too.

Even though you may not know who the Funk Brothers are/were by name, you will instantly recognize their guitar riffs, their base lines, their drumming rhythms.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are a new beginning for improvement. A life is a work of art in progress and we can always make our life more satisfying and fulfilling. The end of the year and the beginning of the new is a time for stock taking and assessment. We think about our goals for the coming year and make plans to achieve them.

Paul Pearsall, a psychologist who specializes in psycho-immunology says that there are only three important questions: 1. Why was I born?, 2. What is the purpose of my life?, and 3. What happens to me when I die? No one has a definitive answer to these questions, they are existential questions which must be worked out as we live our lives, as we go along.

The custom of making New Year’s resolutions is an opportunity to revisit these questions of Dr. Pearsall on an annual basis. You might consider a slightly different form of Dr. Pearsall’s questions as you consider your New Year’s resolutions.

1.If I only had one more year to live what would I like to do with this last year?

2. What will people say about my life after I am gone?

3. What do I need to do to die with peace of mind?

Talk these questions over with someone you feel understood by and trust. They might help you get clearer and focused on what is really important to you and what you want to do with the time you have in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

Pumpkin, the film


"Perky, perfect Carolyn and her Alpha Omega Pi sisters plan to win Sorority of the Year by impressing the Greek Council with a killer charity: coaching mentally challenged athletes for the regional Challenged Games. When Carolyn's assigned to coach Pumpkin she's terrified at first, but soon sees in him something she's never seen before: a gentle humanity and honest clarity that touches her soul. To the horror of her friends and Pumpkin's overprotective mother, Carolyn falls in love, becoming an outcast in the process. As Carolyn's "perfect life" falls apart, Pumpkin teaches her that perfect isn't always perfect after all."

This is billed as a querky comedy distributed in 2002 about a sorority girl who falls in love with a mentally retarded young man she is supposed to be coaching in track and field events for the Special Olympics type event.

In some ways this is one of the last prejudicial barriers to be crossed with a "normal" person falling in love with someone "developmentally disabled".

I found the film awkward, clumsy, and not very believable, but as someone who has worked with people with develomental disabilities I find it positive to find a film that deals directly with the prejudices about the developmentally disabled that exist.

While I didn't find it all that entertaining, it would be an interesting film to assign to a class of human services students or other people who are interested in the topic of including people with developmental disabilities into maintstream society as a discussion starter.

Pumpkin (2002)

Kids , the film


Disturbing, dark, low-budget independent film distributed in 1995 about teen-agers growing up in poverty in New York City. The story focuses on Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), a teen who has a goal to de-flower as many virgins as he can. When one of his old encounters discovers that she is H.I.V.-positive, after only one encounter with a male,Telly, she tries to find him to warn him of his HIV status and finds him in bed with another girl yet again.

While many of Telly's friends abuse alcohol and marijuana he seems addicted to sex. He says in one place that sex is all he can think about.

This movie is very disturbing because of its graphic sex, substance abuse, and violence, and yet it seems to portray honestly the activities of unsupervised youth in our urban society today. The older teens, 16 and 17, are socializing their younger siblings who look to be 11, 12, 13 into this same lifestyle.

This is a film for adults. It is not entertainment. It may be a discussion starter for human service professionals and other adults who care about kids. It might be used with caution with street wise kids to get them to consider the dangers they face in our contemporary culture.

Kids (1995)

The Jaundiced Eye, the film

The Jaundiced Eye is a documentary released in 1999 about a man who is gay, Steven Matthews and his father who are accused of molesting Steven's 5 year old son in Monroe, Michigan. The mother of the child and her new live in boyfriend press the charges and Steven and his father serve about three years in prison before they are released on appeal. The whole case takes about 10 years to go through the courts, and then is dropped for insufficient evidence.

There were many of these cases in the 80s and 90s where sexual abuse was trumped up and many lives were ruined. The McMartin case is one of the largest and most famous. This time in American History will be looked back upon as another version of the Salem Witch hunts.

This documentary is a balanced depiction which interviews all of the principle characters involved in the situation.

The idea that our criminal justice system, which is basically adversarial, is a good way to resolve human relations problems is seriously flawed. This documentary is just one more example of how years of time, energy, and money is spent ruining people's lives for no good reason or outcome.

I believe that restorative justice approaches are much preferred which hold offenders accountable directly to victims in a way that restores a sense of justice between all stakeholders involved.

I recommend this documentary to anyone who works with people in the forensic psychology, social work, human relations area.

Jaundiced Eye, The (1999)