Category Archives: science

Good People Don’t Defend a Bad Man

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Good People Don’t Defend A Bad Man

At times in this life it can be a challenge to figure out who the bad people are, but sometimes they help you.

Sometimes they do the work for you.

Sometimes with their every vulgar, bitter word from their mouth, they testify to their personal malignancy and they make it easy to identify them.

Generally speaking, there are things that good people do and things good people don’t do.

Good people don’t refer to entire countries as “shitholes”—most notably countries that have given birth to our very humanity; ones that for hundreds of years have been colonized and poached and mined of their riches by powerful white men; countries whose people have been enslaved and sold and forced to come and build your country. 

Good people by any measurement we might use—simply don’t say such things.

Of course good people also don’t say they could grab women by the genitalia, either.
They don’t defend racists and nazis and call them “fine people,” days after murdering a young girl and terrorizing an American city.
They don’t brag about their penis size during debates, or suggest protestors at campaign rallies should be roughed up, or crack jokes about captured war heroes, or make fun of the physically disabled.
They don’t.

Good people don’t tweet anti-Muslim rhetoric in the moments immediately following a bombing in order to bolster a position.
They don’t leave American territories filled with brown skinned people without power for months upon months, after publicly ridiculing their public servants and questioning their people’s resolve.
They don’t erase protections for the water and the air, for the elderly, the terminally ill, the LGBTQ.
They don’t take away healthcare from the sick and the poor without an alternative.
They don’t gouge the working poor and shelter the wealthy.
They don’t abuse their unrivaled platform to Twitter-bait world leaders and to taunt private citizens.

Good people don’t prey upon the vulnerable, they don’t leverage their power to bully dissenters, and they don’t campaign for sexual predators.

But this President is simply not a good human being, and there’s simply no way around this truth.

He is the ugliest personification of the Ugly American, which is why, as long as he is here and as long as he represents this nation, we will be a fractured mess and a global embarrassment. He will be the ever lowering bar of our legacy in the world.

And what is painfully obvious in these moments, isn’t simply that the person alleging to lead this country is a terrible human being—it is that anyone left still defending him, applauding him, justifying him, amening him, probably is too.

At this point, the only reason left to support this President, is that he reflects your hateful heart; he shares your contempt of people of color, your hostility toward outsiders, your ignorant bigotry, your feeling of supremacy.

A white President calling countries filled with people of color shitholes, is so far beyond the pale, so beneath decency, and so blatantly racist that it shouldn’t merit conversation. It should be universally condemned. Humanity should be in agreement in abhorring it.

And yet today (like so many other seemingly rock bottom days in the past twelve months) they will be out there: white people claiming to be good people and Christian people, who will make excuses for him or debate his motives or diminish the damage.

They will dig their heels in to explain away or to defend, what at the end of the day is simply a bad human being saying the things that bad human beings say because their hearts harbor very bad things.

No, good people don’t call countries filled with beautiful, creative, loving men and women shitholes.

And good people don’t defend people who do.

You’re going to have to make a choice here.

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here

The Excitement of it All

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This is, perhaps, one of the most exciting times in my entire life.  I am paving the way to begin walking an entirely new path toward new goals and it feels great.  I am probably busier than I’ve been since my children were little, but I have stores of energy, and tons of enthusiasm that keep me going each day.  I have a supportive partner….two supportive partners, really….and I feel like a million bucks.

One thing that I’m doing that might seem a little wacky for a woman my age, is I’m taking a singing masterclass from Christina Agulara.  Yep.  You read that correctly.

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While I do have a strong singing voice and I do sing, from time to time, I do not aspire to be a famous pop star.  Instead, I am taking the class to learn her teaching approach and methods. Virtually everything I do these days is to prepare for my new business, and this is far from all I am doing .

I have found a dedicated business partner who complements those areas that I lack, and I complement hers as well.  We are planning our first workshop/retreat for next April, and it is exciting indeed!  I’m running around like crazy looking at venues, working on marketing, taking pictures, writing curriculum, developing products, writing …writing…writing…networking…making new business connections.

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A lot of my workshops will be centered around music and musicians  (as this  is an important, special  part of my life,) so I am learning the inner bones….the when, where, why and how of the technical aspects.  Those things, combined with my background in psychology are what have me so geared up and ready to go with these workshops.

While I do have my masters in psychology, I am now actively working to enhance that with life coaching certification classes from the Integrative Wellness Academy.  I feel that the two credentials integrated will help me with my workshops. Should take a few months to earn my certification.

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In other news….my songwriting efforts are progressing in leaps and bounds, as is my guitar playing. Taking classes for both.   I have really had a breakthrough and feel as though I am soaring.  I am so happy.  I love my life.  Honestly.  It is a good life, one that is far from perfect, but that is filled with and operated by love.  I could not ask for a better and more supportive family-family AND family of friends. Being confident in my love is a wonderful feeling.

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I have signed up for a new yoga program that will also be integrated into our workshops.  I am making art by the hour.  I am on a roll…..like butta.  Man, this is good.  I have never felt happier.  Love helps. 😉   It is what I live for.

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Happy Leap Day…well, I think…

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On this, the last day of February, I recall how I used to pity those poor kids who could only celebrate their birthdays on the actual date, every couple of years.  I felt uncomfortable about the ambiguous nature of the leap year birthday. I mean, those poor kids had to hesitate and figure out an understandable response to the question, “How old are you?”.

I have always had a distaste for ambiguity.  Therefore, I ask a lot of questions.  (Liars HATE it that I ask a lot of questions.  I catch them off guard, it seems…)  I ask people a lot of questions, not because I’m nosy but because when I have all the facts about a given situation, I can make better decisions for myself.  It isn’t a judgement issue.  It’s more like:  “If you’re going to do this….then I’m going to do that.”   “If you are going to call back later, I’ll leave my phone on.  If not, I’ll turn it off so I won’t be disturbed while I work.”  It isn’t that I’m asking someone TO call back.  Whatever their decision about this is, will be fine with me.  I just want to know one way or the other so I can take action accordingly.

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Turns out that science has now substantiated why ambiguity bugs me ( or all of us) as much as it does.   The phenomenon  actually screws with our heads.   According to a study published in the Journal of Science, the reason lies in how the brain responds emotionally, and sometimes, even illogically, when forced to make decisions based on conflicting or little evidence.   These so-called ambiguous decisions are different from decisions that we think of as risky decisions.  No wonder the person who is being lied to, for example, appears so nutty to the rest of the world. That person is being fed conflicting information.   The heart hears what it wants to hear, but the head says, “Um….hold on there just a minute….That doesn’t make sense!”

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Wait….If it looks like a duck…then, it IS a duck….but it also looks like a rabbit.  Which do I choose?

When faced with a risky decision, one  is not sure about the outcome of a particular choice but can have a notion about the probability of success. In an ambiguous decision, a person is ignorant of both factors.  Thus, the uncomfortable feeling….the uncertainty, and sometimes illogical and absurd behaviors.

Brain specialists  would say ambiguity is the discomfort from knowing there is something you don’t know that you wish you did.  This probably stems back to the fight or flight area of the brain, the hippocampus, and is a matter of survival.   In the previously mentioned experiment,  subjects were given the opportunity to place  ambiguous bets while their brains were scanned using a functional magnetic resonance imager (fMRI).  In this part of the experiment, participants  were given the choice between placing a monetary bet  on the chances of drawing a red card from a “risky” deck that had 20 red cards and 20 black cards…that is, where the probability of choosing either color was 50-50, and making the same bet with an “ambiguous” deck where the color composition of the cards was unknown.

In the majority of  cases, the participants  decided  to place the risky bet. Logically, however, both bets would have been equally good because in both cases, the chance of pulling a red card on the first draw was 50-50.

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The brain scans taken during the experiment revealed that ambiguous betters were often accompanied by activation of the parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).  These are  two areas of the brain that are involved in the whole emotions processing thing.   The  amygdala has been found to be closely associated with fear, which, again, harkens back to being in survival mode.   If you think about it, a correlation between aversion to ambiguous decisions and activation of emotional parts of the brain makes  perfect sense from an evolutionary point of view.  Do I go into that dark cave or don’t I?  Well, first, I need to know if a saber toothed tiger is in there, right?  And I’m going to be a little nervous about it until I find out.  Should I leave my boyfriend or not….Well, first, I need to find out if he really IS cheating on me.  In the modern human brain, this translates into a reluctance to bet on or against an event if it seems at all ambiguous.

The results of this study could help those of us in the field of Psychology,  understand how humans make decisions in the real world, because the choices people make are often based on very limited information.  (i.e…..All signs point to cheating, but he denies it….or I’m not going to walk into that dark cave if there’s a tiger in there, because it will eat me alive. )

Makes sense to me.

Anyway….Happy Birthday, Leapers…er…Leap Yearlings…um…people whose birthdays are on leap year.  Here’s a nice mug.  Have some coffee.

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Want to Up those Seratonin Levels?

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Want to Up those Seratonin Levels?

Do you suffer from depression?  Dr. Michael Greger teaches us the scientific reasoning behind why eating an animal-protein diet may exacerbate the problem.

Tryptophan is one amino among many found in proteins, and they compete with one another for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. And since tryptophan is present in most animal proteins in relatively small quantities, it gets muscled out of the way. If you eat plant foods, though, the carbohydrates cause a release of insulin, which causes your muscles to take up the nontryptophan amino acids as fuel, and so your tryptophan can be first in line for brain access.

Animal foods can even make things worse: “When tryptophan is ingested as part of a protein meal, serum tryptophan levels rise, but brain tryptophan levels decline due to the mechanism of transport used by tryptophan to cross the blood–brain barrier.”

The tryptophan levels in those given a high protein turkey, egg, and cheese breakfast dropped whereas in the waffle-OJ group, their trytrophan levels went up.

This may actually explain the carbohydrate cravings one sees in PMS—your brain may be trying to get you to boost tryptophan levels to feel better. “Consumption of a carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor evening test meals during the premenstrual period improved depression, tension, anger, confusion, sadness, fatigue, alertness, and calmness scores—significantly–among patients with premenstrual syndrome.”

“Because synthesis of brain serotonin, which is known to be involved in mood and appetite, increases after carbohydrate intake, premenstrual syndrome subjects may overconsume carbohydrates in an attempt to improve their dysphoric mood state.”

 

It’s Official! 

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There is no greater feeling in life than accomplishing a goal that one has worked hard to achieve….well, maybe seeing my daughter receive HER masters degree was a greater feeling, but this is a significant personal milestone and I’m feeling pretty good about it today.  Congratulations, me. 😀  

Lavender for Migranes

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Lavender has been studied recently for several purposes including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as a number of other things. Its analgesic effect, however, its painkiller effect, is one of the widely studied properties. Surprising, then, that there hasn’t apparently been a single documented clinical trial to study lavender for the treatment of migraine headaches that affects tens of millions of Americans every year. Until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Migraine sufferers were asked to—at the early signs of headache—rub 2–3 drops of the lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period of time and score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group they did the same thing except they used drops of basically unscented liquid wax. Neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms, significantly better than placebo. Though in the study lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments, lavender appears to stack up pretty well compared to typical drugs. Lavender helped about three quarters of the time, high dose Tylenol only works about half the time, and Ibuprofen 57% of the time. The #1 prescription drug, generic imitrex, is effective 59% of the time, and then the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms where they inject you under the skin, 70%. All of these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drilled a hole in your head to let the evil spirits escape.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.

You can buy pharmaceutical grade lavender for $21 HERE.

Day #20 – Equal

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Let’s Get Physical! (and smell better!)

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Between yoga and visits to the Green Gym, my energy levels have really gone up and I’m feeling very good, particularly after a largely sedentary winter or heavy school and work/work.   All of my senses have sharpened, which is but one of many benefits of increasing physical exercise. But this leads to a less pleasant aspect of working out.

Body odor. 

When I was at the gym this morning, I had to exit the treadmill because the man lifting weights next to me STANK so badly!  I’m not a prima dona.  It’s a gym. You’re SUPPOSED to break out into a sweat….but this particular man smelled so vile that I could not stand it….

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Which leads to this:

Since that nasty smoking vice was outlawed in  clubs and other public places, customers began to complain about unpleasant smells, such as body odors.  This prompted researchers in Europe to try to find ways to cover them up. They measured the effects of peppermint, for example on dancing activity,  and asked people to rate their energy levels from calm and quiet to fervid and frenzied…. and indeed people felt more cheerful, danced more.   So environmental fragrancing, such as the essential oil diffusers that I keep writing about,  may be expected to have a positive effects on future club revenue.   I recently read that some  innovative nightclubs are already inviting aroma jockeys to smell the places up.  Good move, so long as pure essential oils are used, and not heavy, ugly perfumes.

The business community caught whiff of this and thought, “Perhaps  we can get our secretaries to type faster.”

And it worked!

Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with the administration of peppermint odor. They also used an electronic memory device to measure memory, Milton Bradley’s Simon game.  Do you remember that?   I loved that game…BUT…the experiment didn’t work.

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Still, the researchers figured that if the scent of peppermint can increase typing performance, it might be able to do the same with athletic performance…..so the researchers threw some collegiate athletes onto treadmills and exposed them to  different smells.  The ones that were exposed to peppermint reported feeling less fatigued, more vigorous, less frustrated, and just felt they performed better. But did they REALLY perform better?

The first study was just about the psychological aspects of athletic performance. This study measured actual performance, and participants were able to squeeze out one extra pushup before collapsing and cut almost 2 seconds off a quarter mile dash with an odorized adhesive strip stuck to their upper lip. Interestingly there was no significant differences in basketball free throws. They think the reason is that free throws actually require some skill, and all the peppermint can do is really improve athlete’s motivation. If an athlete does not have the skill to make the free-throw, increasing the level of motivation will merely result in a more motivated athlete who still does not have the skill to make the free-throw.

Unfortunately follow-up studies were not able to replicate these results, showing no beneficial effect of smelling peppermint on athletic performance…… so how about EATING peppermint?  Well….the effects of peppermint on exercise performance, measured before and after almost 2 weeks of drinking bottles of water with a single drop of peppermint essential oil in them. And all their performance parameters shot up, churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion!!  Wow!  Powerful stuff!   With improvements across the board in all those fancy physiological alphabet soup parameters that all the exercise geeks love, indicating increased respiratory efficiency. They attribute these remarkable results to the peppermint opening up their airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery.

A word of caution, however.   You can actually overdise on the stuff. However, a few drops are ok and shouldn’t be toxic. I’d rather see folks blending fresh mint leaves in water rather than using peppermint OIL….sort of like a mojito without the rum and sugar.  The bad news is that may lower one’s libido. There are studies out there of men drinking four or five cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea and losing their sex drive.  Then again, as any good coach will tell you,  THAT  may improve athletic performance even more.  Because of the antiandrogenic, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just 5 days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day.

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There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can successfully be brought down with mint tea.

So there ya have it.

Go to the gym.  Do yoga.  Drink tea.  Chew peppermint gum.  Use deodorant.  Any questions?  🙂

References:

H N J Schifferstein, K S S Talke, D J Oudshoorn. Can Ambient Scent Enhance the Nightlife Experience? Chemosens Percept. Jun 2011; 4(1-2): 55–64.

S Barker, P Grayhem, J Koon, J Perkins, A Whalen, B Raudenbush. Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with administration of peppermint odor. Percept Mot Skills. 2003 Dec;97(3 Pt 1):1007-10.

B Raudenbush, B Meyer, B Eppich. The effects of odors on objective and subjective measures of athletic performance. North American Journal of Psychology, 2003, Vol 5 No 2 181-192.

B Raudenbush, N Corley, W Eppich. Enhancing athletic performance through the administration of peppermint odor. JSEP Volume 23, Issue 2, 156-160.

P Pournemati, M A Azarbayiani, M B Rezaee, V Ziaee, P Pournemati. The effect of inhaling peppermint odor and ethanol in women athletes. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2009;110(12):782-7.

A Meamarbashi, A Rajabi. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 15.

S S Nath C Pandey, D Roy. A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt. Indian J Anaesth. 2012 Nov-Dec; 56(6): 582–584.

M Akdogan, M N Tamer, E Cure, M C Cure, B K Koroglu, N Delibas. Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism. Phytother Res. 2007 May;21(5):444-7.

M Akdogan, M Ozguner, A Kocak, M Oncu, E Cicek. Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats. Urology. 2004 Aug;64(2):394-8.

P Grant. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8.