Archive for the 'Matt H.' Category

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire?

So Newsweek published an article on 9 letters that the Morgan Library recently acquired from a 22-year-old J.D. Salinger.  Salinger had written the letters to a 17-year-old fan from Toronto, Marjorie Sheard. The article notes how Salinger had fibbed in these letters, perhaps in an attempt to woo the young girl.

And there in lies the rub. With fiction and the fiction writer you are never quite certain of what is truth and what is a lie. Whether the author is trying to woo a young lass or a middle age pugilist, a lie is still a lie.

Here is the link to the Newsweek article: http://t.co/nRb8rpKoKt

Yes, you caught me… I admit that I was two-timing Broken Spines…

As Gen. David Petraeus has demonstrated for us this last week, even a rock of moral authority can fall from grace.  I know my various interests and activities have kept me from posting on Broken Spines in quite awhile but I felt I need to come back to defend my honor.  There are allegations out there that I have been two-timing by first blog… Broken Spines.  Well, I am here to set the record straight… those allegations are true.  In a moment of weakness, I built a WordPress blog (A Citizen’s Primer) more than five years ago with the intent of recruiting some of my fellow Pugilists to join me to:

“document our positions, ideas, and conclusion on today’s complex political topics.  Why us?  Why not… we feel that we a relatively informed individuals and that when we are able to break down complex topics that are swirling in the political ether we can come up with some plausible solutions that make sense.  We are not claiming to be experts but we do work hard to stay informed on political topics – reading books, magazines, & blogs – watching movies & documentaries – and discussing the issues with friends, family, & colleagues.”

Well, five long years has gone by without a single post until yesterday.  I decided to dust off the cover and share an editorial that I had originally submitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  The post was based on my personal frustration with the Republican Party for sitting on their hands over the last two years without one iota of progress or one hint of compromise.  My article was titled “As Minnesota goes, so goes the nation? We need to move beyond a political zero sum game” and it includes ideas for both Minnesota and National Republicans and Democrats to move forward after the election.  Well, there I’ve said it.  Now let the accusations begin, or perhaps… thou who are amongst you who have not sinned shall cast the first stone?

Are you kidding me?

Ok… I know it has been a long time since I last posted but I am making a conscious effort to start blogging again.  What has got me so fired up?  Idiotic driving!  A few days ago I was making my usual morning trek across the Twin Cities.  As I approached the 494 & 35W junction (one of the busiest in the area) I made the mistake of looking over at the traffic merging and what did I see?  A woman merging into my lane of traffic while she was looking in the mirror applying her hairspray!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Granted I have seen plenty of crazy things on my morning commute, including: drivers eating a bowl of cereal, applying make-up, and reading books and newspapers but this was by far the most reckless in my opinion.  What is this world coming to?  Are we so time starved the we would risk our lives (and the lives of others – me) so we can squeeze in an extra couple of minutes?  Am I crazy or is this just the new normal?

Do We Really Think a Mosque Near Ground Zero Is Offensive?

I am amazed that this story still keeps going around and around but earlier this week the NY Times published another story quoting former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Giuliani said that building a “mosque near ground zero is offensive to families of 9/11 victims and should be built elsewhere.”  He went on further to say that, “if you are a healer, you do not go forward with this project. If you’re a warrior, you do.”

I find this rationale rather disturbing and these statements borderline racist or at a minimum with religious prejudice.  When “white” and “Catholic” terrorist Timothy McVeigh decided to attack his country killing 168 people and injuring 450 (with nineteen of the victims being small children and babies in the day care center on the second floor) he was not labeled as one of “those Catholic terrorists.”  We did not round up all of the Catholics in the country and demand information on their loyalty to the USA or the affiliations to the Catholic Church.  So how is it that America was not up in arms with what happened next… the Catholics of St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral built a “shrine in remembrance” of the event on the site (see location)!  Remember that this is the same Catholic Church that started killing unbelievers as early as the 4th century. The killing (often with torture) of heretics, church splinter groups, dissenters, atheists, agnostics, deists, pagans, infidels and unbelievers was supported by almost all mainstream Christian theology for over a thousand years, starting with the intolerant St. Augustine (died 430 AD).  The Catholics are no less culpable for the heinous acts commited in the history of their religion.

So Mr. Giuliani (Roman Catholic) how easy is it for you to lump the 19 September 11th hijackers in with the rest of their law-abiding Muslim citizens in this country but neglect the fact that your Catholic brothers and sisters have already raised a statue as a shrine of remembrance on the hallowed ground of the OKC National Memorial in Oklahoma City, OK?   Do you not think that the “shrine” might be found offensive to families of victims and should it have not been built elsewhere?

The dangers of “Fight Club”… someone might actually break a spine?

Ok, so it has been some time since I last posted on Broken Spines but it is with good reason.  Just over ten weeks ago I actually broke my spine… I woke up to sure agony.  I thought I had pulled a muscle in my neck/back and waited it out over night.  The next morning the pain was still there and I made an appointment to see my doctor and a chiropractor and a colleagues suggestion.  The chiropractor proceeded to tell me how messed up my neck/back was and gave me an alignment adjustment with no improvement.  My doctor saw me and thought that it was a pulled muscle and prescribed muscle relaxers and Vicodin.  After a week on the drugs, more chiropractic “help” and even acupuncture I was without sleep and still in excruciating pain (so much so that on some nights I honestly would have preferred amputation).  Talking with friends and colleagues I was convinced that I needed to see a specialist.  I called the recommended neck & back specialist the next morning and was told that I needed a referral from my primary doctor and an MRI before the he would see me.  I  called my primary doctor and after some pleading I was able to get an appointment the next day.  My doctor ordered x-rays, did an exam, and agreed to give me the referral and MRI request.  At the scheduling area for the MRI I was told that there was a mobile unit that came to the clinic on Mondays and Thursdays… and of course today was Tuesday – I had to make it clear to the scheduler that Thursday was not soon enough.  Sure enough there was one at a local hospital and their MRI was available that evening.  After the most painful 30 minutes in an MRI machine I get to go home and wait until the next morning for the results.  In the meantime, I called the specialist back and told his staff that I my referral and my MRI – how soon could they get me in?  The answer – three weeks!  I wasn’t going to last three more weeks with this pain and lack of sleep!  I explained that to the scheduler and she suggested that I leave a message with the doctor’s assistant and they would get back to me.  I decided to pull out all of the stops and left the voicemail informing them that my neighbor worked with the specialist, two other neighbors had seen the doctor and one had surgery with him, and that I was in EXCRUCIATING pain.  What do you know… they found room for me within seven days.  The next morning the MRI report was available online and I come to find out that I had herniated a disc in my neck/spine: C6-C7.  I meet with the specialist the next week and after three weeks of the most excruciating pain I have ever felt (even with the aid of the finest narcotics man has made) I was finally prescribed oral steroids (a.k.a. Prednisone).  Within hours the amazing anti-inflammatory medicine in Prednisone had started kicking in and the pain was almost gone.  The only lingering effect was numbness or tingling in my first two fingers of the my left arm.  I proceeded with six weeks of physical therapy which helped strengthen my neck and arm but still left the numbness.  The only problem now was the persistent numbness… my specialist suggested that I did not want it to go beyond 12 weeks or I could risk permanent nerve damage.  Last week was week 10 and I decided to proceed with surgery to remove the herniated portion of the disc that was causing the pressure on the nerve (posterior microdiscectomy)… five days in and still waiting for a final verdict if the numbness has gone away for good.  I’ll keep you posted…

The Third Man… neurological defect or a glitch in The Matrix?

With only 22 hours to spare I just finished our next tome on the existence of the Third Man. Author John Geiger distills the phenomenon of sensing the presence of another being with us during times of stress or panic as not a guardian angel or religious savior but as a neurological defect that enables us to triumph over our immediate appalling situation. He further suggests that we should learn to master this feature of the brain. While interesting, I am not sure I am sold on the “science” behind the idea but I do have a few tangential ideas…

1) Check out the TED video presentation by Oliver Sacks (the neuropsychiatrist who wrote Awakenings) as he describes the lucid hallucinations of visually impaired people and the discovery of the areas of the brain the recognize teeth, facial features and cartoons. Maybe this is just biological brain stimulation and nothing more?

2) What of Will Ferrell’s character in the movie “Stranger Than Fiction” who is an IRS auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.  Maybe we are all just characters in our own book?

3) Perhaps there is a much simpler story… Maybe we are all captives of The Matrix and much like Deja Vu is an example of the The Matrix re-writing code to fix a glitch or bug… the experience of The Third Man is an example of our minds transcending The Matrix to see that we are actually part of “the system?”

Recession Holding Back Education Too…

Great… not only is the recession hurting my income today but it is likely to have a much larger economic impact on education (and thus earning potential) of future generations.  It a NY Times article last week titled “Facing Deficits, Some States Cut Summer School” many schools are cutting back or closing their summer school programs to save money.  This is being done in spite of $100 billion in stimulus money being pumped into education and the Secretary of Education urging states and districts to keep their summer school programs open.

Summer school you say?  Who really really cares about summer school… unless of course you are talking about the classic 1987 movie Summer School with Marc Harmon and Kristy Alley.  The reality is that summer school can be critically important to those kids coming from low-income households.  In our most recent bout, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell we learned that the knowledge gap between the kids from the poorest families to the richest families is almost exclusively attributed to what knowledge is gained or lost during the summer (not technology in the classroom or classroom size).  As the Times article points out, children of working parents will be at the mall or in front of the TV instead of in the classroom preparing them for the next grade level.

If Gladwell’s analysis is correct, why is it that state governments or school districts would make such a short sighted decision?  Perhaps his research hasn’t made it back to the education establishment?


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