The Worship of Sports in America

Simply put, Americans take sports way too seriously.

How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

North Korea - The Cure For Our Complex World…A Cold War Imagination!

Two weeks ago, North Korea engaged in a military attack on South Korea, a long-time American protectorate…of sorts.
Now close you eyes for a moment and imagine that we were still living in Cold War America, a time when the world was more or less divided into three major political/ideological bloc: the greedy capitalism-driven, but free West; the evil state-controlled economies of the various communist East nations, and the self-interested states—often run by dictators—who often played both blocs against the middle in an effort to carve out their corner of that geopolitically bi-polar regime. In this world, very few of those smaller self-interested states are willing or even capable of challenging neither the resolve nor the policies of the leaders of these blocs, the United States and the Soviet Union, for fear of some kind of substantive response. In this world, military commitments are limited, military spending and constant nuclear weapons testing telegraphing to the world the resolve of both blocs is evident, and lesser adversaries know their place; major acts of terrorism were limited to areas of the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Europe.
Now imagine that a country, firmly entrenched within either bloc decided to attack another within the opposing bloc…say North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Il-sung, opting to stage an attack on U.S.-allied South Korea. Understand that in this world, political leaders within each country have to appear to be either “tough on Communism” or “stand up to the Capitalists” so as not to appear “weak.” And since these two countries have a history as a military flashpoint for the ideological clash between the two opposing blocs, the resolve to defend either by other members within each opposing bloc emphasizes how easily such an attack by one country on another can easily lead to a regional, if not global conflagration.

But that time is gone

No longer do we live in an America governed by a myopic, if not marginally accurate view of the world in terms of a democracy vs. dictatorship ethos, powered by resolve—both actual and that perceived by its adversaries.
Now come open your eyes to the world we live in today, a generation or so after the waning days of the Cold War.
Today’s world is one where America’s reign as the lone superpower is under an almost relentless series of challenges by small nations aligned with larger more powerful nations, as well as individual nations seeking to increase their influence in the post-Cold War multi-polar world. This is because these challenger countries have been shrewd enough to take advantage of America’s recent foreign policy blunders, some of which have resulted in a weakening of resolve to secure the nation’s interests. Faulty intelligence, arrogance of leadership, questionable single-mindedness, and a lack of intimate knowledge of whom were dealing with have all combined to squander America’s readiness on irrelevant “threats” which America’s enemies have used as a window of opportunity embolden themselves to do what North Korea did 2 weeks hence…attack American interests without fear of significant reprisal(s).

A photo of the North Korean leadership, with a doctored image of ailing leader Kim Jong Il superimposed on the image

The open defiance and belligerence out of the Middle- and Far East could have been avoided if America had maintained some of the more useful, more static policies from our Cold War experience with the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc.
Primarily, America should have kept its nuclear option open in dealing with Afghanistan after 9/11. A tactical nuclear strike (or two) on Taliban strongholds in the more remote regions of the then-lawless country could have gone a lone way to signaling to would-be pretenders to the throne how far America is willing to go to protect its interests in this new world.
Imagine being in Tehran, Kabul, Baghdad, Pyongyang or any number of regions around the world and knowing where you were and what you were doing when you heard from state-run television/radio about the first—actually second, Japan was the first—nuclear attack on a country harboring an organization responsible for an attack on the financial and political centers of the lone global superpower…that’s the impact such a policy would have had on those who would threaten American interests. Imagine how many American service personnel lives could have been saved by not having to invade countries who realized that a mushroom cloud umbrella could be their fate if they do not, say, allow United Nations weapons inspectors unfettered access to suspected facilities…or who unilaterally accede from nuclear non-proliferation treaties and then proceed to create nuclear weapons in violation of international law.
In a world where America’s enemies are growing by the numbers daily, and where countries are openly challenging America and it interests to the point of acting with impunity, maybe American leaders should go back to the old policy of Mutually Assured Destruction…a policy that projects the resolve that we give as good as we get.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Its 2010...Do You Know What Your Kids Are Smoking?

In working with at-risk teens, I find that both that their parents as well as those of us working to save them have to be more than vigilant…we have to virtually sleep with one eye open. Today’s youth seem more inclined engage their free time by pursuing questionable “pleasures,” most notably the fixation on getting high.
In regards to this to teenage fixation on pursuing chemically-induced altered states of perceptions, the methods of choice include illegally-obtained prescription medicines, “huffing” chemical inhalants, and smoking marijuana—by no means an exhaustive list. But with many institutions increasing their emphasis on drug testing and [the] increasing legal restrictions limiting access to excessive amounts of over-the-counter medicines (often used to concoct mixtures to chase cheap highs), teenagers are constantly seeking and exploring other alternatives to momentarily escaping reality.
One of these alternatives are plants and other exotic herbs that have been treated with synthetic chemicals, so that when smoked mimic both the form and function of marijuana. The way this “legal weed” works is that when rolled in smoking paper and smoked, produces a euphoric high similar to that of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chief psychoactive chemical in real marijuana. Instead of THC, this synthetic marijuana contains a mixture of synthetic chemicals known as JWH-018, JWH-073, and/or CP-47 that act on cannabinoid receptors in the brain in much the same way that true marijuana does.
This totally legal marijuana substitute (in most states) is manufactured abroad, shipped to the states, sold mostly in local convenience stores/corner markets, and marketed as “herbal incense” in order to disguise its true purpose as a way of obtaining a marijuana-like high…without the legal ramifications. Sold under the popular brand names such as “K2,” “Kush,” “Spice,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” and a host of others, these herbal blends have dangerous, potentially deadly heath issues attached to their use. Earlier this year, an Iowa teen who had smoked K2 died after suffering a panic attack caused by its use and shooting himself (http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/article_877e5512-aae0-58bc-b88b-8e3124f198dc.html).





As illustrated, smoking small amounts of the more potent synthetic marijuana can cause an increased heart rate, loss of consciousness, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychotic episodes. Regarding these health issues, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) calls these herbal plants a “drug of concern” and has moved to have these drugs placed in the same category as traditional illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Additionally, some 13 states as well as the military have banned either their sale and/or use (importation and/or use have also been banned abroad in the UK, Russia, Poland, France, and South Korea). However, in the jurisdictions that have been slow to respond—for whatever reasons—synthetic marijuana’s use continues to grow as young users take advantage of this legislative oversight (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/24/national/main7086373.shtml).
Besides the fact that legal loopholes help encourage access to this drug, the fact that it doesn’t show up as a positive reading in traditional drug screenings make it an even more attractive substitute for young people looking to get an easy and cheap high; small packets of these herbs cost between $15 to $40 dollars.
In cities and areas across the country, authorities should make themselves aware of this potentially deadly substitute for marijuana and move quickly to ban its import, sale, and use…or the federal government should speed up its efforts to ban the importation and/use of any product with these particular (or even similar) chemical makeup(s).
Given the level of talk and bragging I hear daily by teens who share stories about their particular experiences with artificial marijuana use, perhaps some enterprising future entrepreneur could create a drug screening which could detect this new drug, and make himself/herself a multimillionaire in the process…and help those of us who spend our time trying to keep young people keep their heads on straight.