Friday, March 28, 2008

Catching Up: Best of 2004: July

Here's another installment in the continuing effort to distill the best postings from my personal mailing list. These are from July 2004. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Clippings Thousands of mentally ill American children, some as young as seven, are locked up in juvenile detention centers because there is nowhere else for them to go. In one recent study, children who sat in front of the TV for more than two hours a day were at higher risk of smoking, gaining excess weight, and having high cholesterol as adults. Ideally, youngsters should be rationed to less than an hour a day, researchers said. About one in six soldiers returning from the war in Iraq shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional difficulties. Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake." We have that on the authority of biographer Lady Antonia Fraser, who spoke on the subject at the 2002 Edinburgh Book Fair. Historians have known better all along, actually. A study published in Cerebrum in late 2000 demonstrated that childhood abuse and neglect results in permanent physical changes to the developing human brain. Anthropologists have long suspected that older people may have played an important role in the development of early human societies by providing extra care for children, helping to accumulate useful information and strengthening kinship bonds. Children taking cough syrups showed a dramatic reduction in cough frequency, but those taking the placebo -- essentially flavored water -- had the best results. On four other measures, the three treatments had virtually identical outcomes. Dr. Schneider said, "We've found that using virtual reality during chemotherapy helps relieve some of the symptoms that patients experience in the hours and days after therapy. I had one patient say after she was finished, 'That was fun! I was kind of frustrated when the chemotherapy ended because I didn't get to finish the game.'" * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * About Marijuana -- Police make about 700,000 arrests per year for marijuana offenses — roughly 87% of those are for nothing more than possession of small amounts. -- Enforcing marijuana laws costs an estimated $10-15 billion taxpayer dollars per year in direct costs alone. -- More than 50% of Americans between the ages of 18-50 have tried marijuana at least once. -- 72% of Americans favor decriminalization—applying a fine, not jail time. -- Unlike alcohol and many other drugs, no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose. -- Alabama locks up people convicted three times of marijuana possession for 15 years to life. -- The federal Higher Education Act prohibits student loans to young people convicted of any drug offense; all other criminal offenders remain eligible. -- More than 80% of high school students report that it's easy to get marijuana. -- In Holland, where cannabis is decriminalized, it is no more popular than in the U.S. [By the way, I don't use marijuana. I have tried it twice, however -- most recently in 1978.] Several websites name famous people who have tried marijuana, including: People named at those sites include: Margaret Mead NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Carl Sagan George W. Bush Winston Churchill Bill Clinton Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman Friedrich Nietzsche Pablo Picasso William Shakespeare George Washington Arnold Schwarzenegger Bill Gates Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * About the Law BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- A police officer stops you on the street, then taps something into a device in the palm of his hand. The next minute, he knows who your relatives are, who lives in your house, who your neighbors are, the kind of car you drive or boat you own, whether you've been sued and various other tidbits about your life. ... Recently the Supreme Court ruled that people who refuse to give their names to police can be arrested, even if they've done nothing wrong. Purna Raj Bajracharya was videotaping the sights of New York City for his family back in Nepal when he inadvertently included an office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was taken into custody, where officials found he had overstayed his tourist visa. Mr. Bajracharya wound up in solitary confinement in a federal detention center for three months, weeping constantly, in a 6-by-9 cell where the lights were never turned off. He might have been in there much longer if an F.B.I. agent had not finally taken it upon himself to summon legal help. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Website of Note Come up for air * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * George Bush Quotes "Like you, I have been disgraced about what I've seen on TV that took place in prison." —George W. Bush, Parkersburg, West Virginia, May 13, 2004 "Recession means that people's incomes, at the employer level, are going down, basically, relative to costs, people are getting laid off." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2004 "The recession started upon my arrival. It could have been — some say February, some say March, some speculate maybe earlier it started — but nevertheless, it happened as we showed up here." —George W. Bush, Meet the Press, Feb. 8, 2004 "Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004 "The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the — the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003 "See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." — George W. Bush, Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003 "I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003 "First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 19, 2003 "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself." —George W. Bush, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * A Few Kind Words One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to view the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot." After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists." That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. It is easy to forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. And pass this reminder on.