Saturday, December 02, 2006

Clueless PR

Wouldn't it be nice if the clueless PR places that send out PR spam would at least take the time to read or at least look at the blogs they send this crap to? Here is a typical letter I get from "fans" who want to send me free stuff:

Dear Dr. Helen,

As a fan and avid reader, congratulations all around for the big victory this last election, definitely a team effort.

And to spread the holiday cheer this season, I'd like to send you, on behalf of our publisher (a staunch Dem), comp. copies of our official 2007 George Bush Out of Office Countdown Calendar.

It's our bestselling contribution to the cause, and it's flat hilarious; with a countdown to the glorious day when W gets the boot, and classic Bushisms on the dates he said them. Thought you might get a kick out of it. (

Whether you use them as a stocking stuffers or dartboards, thank you (and all the bloggers) for what you do. Again, I'd like to send you comp. copies for a gift, email me a shipping address and I can get them to you.


Tony Viardo
Sourcebooks, Inc.

"Can’t stand the prez and his posse? Then look out for two new items in your local bookstore: The 2007 George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown wall calendar: Two Years and Counting and George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown Handbook: Hang in There, It's Almost Over!,both filled with Dubya’s bloopers. Creator Deb Werksman says, ‘The experience of reading it is one of horror and hilarity at the same time…’

—U.S.News & World Report, “Whispers,” August 14 issue

My reply? "If you actually read my blog and were an 'avid fan' you would know that I would never want such a calendar." As readers of my blog know, I just love "staunch" Democrats--yes, this blog just sings their praises all day. Right. Honestly, are PR people that damn lazy?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pop Rock

What can I say, I am a sucker for pop rock; over the years I have tried to keep this to myself because I have been made fun of for this "fetish" by everyone who I let in on my dirty little secret. In my personal and professional life, I have a love of the complex, offbeat and unusual, but when it comes to musical taste, my ear leans towards those songs with the most mass appeal and mainstream sound; I love boy bands, teenybopper singers and ballads. So you can imagine how happy I was when Columbia records sent Glenn and me some music CD's to review, with the majority being pop music. I picked out a couple of CD's to listen to while I surfed the internet and was fairly pleased with the choices I heard. I will tell you about two of the CD's although I doubt either of the musicians would appreciate being called a "boy band" or teenybopper and neither one is--certainly not Five for Fighting, who appeals to an adult audience.

First up was Five for Fighting's CD, Two Lights, which I found to be an incredible combination of good lyrics, wonderful melodies and great vocals. Usually on any given CD, there will be a number of songs I will skip over, be bored by or plain not like, but with this album, each tune was remarkable and I noticed a war or soldier's theme in a few of the songs. For instance, the first song of the album, "Freedom Never Cries" has some interesting lyrics: "I never loved the soldier until there was a war or thought about tomorrow 'til my baby hit the floor, I Only talk to God when somebody's about to die, I Never cherished Freedom, Freedom never cries." I wasn't surprised to read in an interview with John Ondrasik that "'Two Lights' was inspired by a conversation with a Vietnam vet and his son, who was going back to Iraq for his second tour. It illuminated to me the sacrifice families make for our way of life." Ondraskik also stated that he spoke to many people when researching "Freedom Never Cries" including Tom Ridge, the Ex-Head of Homeland Security. Interestingly, Five for Fighting's song Superman served somewhat as a theme song for America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Next up, I listened to John Mayer's Continuum which starts out with the popular song, "Waiting on the World to Change." I loved the tune which is catchey, straightforward and simple; I hear it often on the radio and like it fairly well. Not sure if I like the lyrics much but heck, most songs, like most art, I just invent my own interpretation of what I think it means to me--regardless of what the artist wants me to come away with. There are other good songs in Continuum including "Stop this Train" that deals with growing into adulthood. "So scared of growing getting older, I'm only good at being young, So I play a numbers game, To find a way to say that life has just begun." I think all of us can identify at some level with the speeding train of life but Mayer's lyrics and amazing vocals can help the journey. Other songs like "Bold as Love" and "Belief" are just fun because they include some really great guitar playing. I was surprised to see that like me, Mayer has had a problem with cardiac arrythimias and subsequent panic attacks. I guess that's where he gets the introspection.

Well, that is some of the music I am listening to these days and enjoying. I hope my readers are not too put off by the fact that I like pop music and will still respect me in the morning.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

How Many Husbands has this Woman Killed?

I was looking at our local news online and came across this story about a local woman who was just indicted for killing her second husband:

The widow of a former Knox County District Attorney now faces first degree murder charges for the death of her second husband, a popular West Knox County barber. Raynella Dossett-Leath was free on bond Thursday night. She is charged with the 2003 murder of David leath.

David Leath was shot in the head on March 13th as he slept in the couple's bed. The death was ruled a homicide, but it took 3 years for a break in the case.

Late Tuesday a Knox County grand jury indicted the widow. She posted a $5,000 bond after turning herself in.

The crime scene was the family's 165 acre farm on Solway Road where Raynella still lives. Her first husband, former DA Ed Dossett also died there in 1992. That death was ruled an accident. In a wheelchair and weakened by cancer, authorities believe Dossett was trampled by cattle.

In 1995, Raynella Dossett-Leath was charged with attempted murder. She was accused of firing several shots at a man inside her barn. She was never convicted in that case.

I remember when this woman's first husband died--everyone said he was trampled by cattle but it sounded a bit suspicious then. Now that she has been indicted for the murder of her second husband, I wonder if there will be any investigation to see if there was any foul play in the death of her first husband?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A New Birth Control Pill for Men?

Is a new male birth control pill the answer for guys who don't want to be parents? (Hat tip: Salted Slug)

British scientists have developed a revolutionary pill that men could take as a one-off contraceptive just before a date.

The tablet would prevent a man from being able to impregnate a woman, but within a few hours his fertility would return to normal......Rebecca Findlay, of the Family Planning Association, said: "It gets really tiring for women to always be the one in charge of fertility.

"For women, it would be another form of liberation. It's great."

Yes, it's all for the women, but sexism aside, any guys out there who would feel comfortable taking this pill?

Podcast Interview: Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is a New York Times bestseller; he is the author of Ender's Game, a book that has been cited as one of the sources of the Afghanistan battle plan and is currently under option for a Hollywood movie by Warner Brothers.

He has a new book out today, Empire, a fascinating thriller set in 2008 that tells the story of what will happen if the political polarization in America continues to divide this country on the issues. Card believes our country is divided between the urban, academic, and high-tech counties and the suburban, rural, southern, and conservative Christian counties. Can this polarization lead to another American Civil War? What can the average person do to make sure this doesn't happen?

Join us for this futuristic podcast with Mr.Card by clicking here to listen directly or for dial-up users by clicking here. You can visit our archives here to view our previous podcasts.

This podcast is sponsored by Volvo at

Monday, November 27, 2006

Would You Mind Growing Old if You Were Treated Like You Were Young?

“I think inside every old person there probably is a young person screaming to get out, but your audience doesn't let you."--Estelle Strongin, FRONTLINE: "Living Old"

I found this quote from a 94 year old woman on the PBS site advertising their documentary, "Living Old" about how people cope with aging in America. I haven't seen the documentary and perhaps I don't want to; from what I can gather, aging in America sucks.

But not just for the physical reasons one associates with age such as illness, limited mobility, nursing home stays etc. but mainly because of the psychological ones: the loss of one's work, the way one is treated in society and the prejudice and dismissal that others often have for those who are older. It would be easy to say that other people's opinions of us don't really matter as we age, but in truth, they do, unless you live as a hermit which as far as I can tell, doesn't add to the well-being of the elderly.

I have always wondered why people tend to try and put those who are older in boxes--perhaps it is fear, denial or stupidity, or maybe just plain selfishness and prejudice. How many times do you hear people say, "Oh, so-and-so is just like that because they are old." I have and I can tell you that it makes me mad as hell. Does being old mean that people no longer have opinions, desires, the need for autonomy, longing, dreams, needs? Of course not. People are still themselves, just with a few more birthdays than some. Big deal.

But apparently, it is a big deal and it starts early. Jennifer Anniston is now referred to as "looking good for her age." She's 37. Mention Brad Pitt and people pop up with quips such as "he looked better before he got old." He's 42. Sure, these are stars and have to look good etc. for their roles, but talk to other people 37 and older and you hear a lot of the same complaints about the general society.

The ironic thing to me is that people seem to go on and on about how young they or others are up until about 37 at which point you are told you are old. Isn't there any in-between? And if we are told we are old starting by our mid to late thirties, what if we live to our 80's? What are the psychological repercussions of being viewed as "old" for 50 years? How depressing, and unnecessary. Why don't we just give each other a break and start treating people as individuals with ideas, interests, opinions, and worth regardless of age? Because if we gave the same respect and time to those who are older as we do to those who are young, maybe the fear of growing old would not be such a burden.
Dr. Sanity takes a tour around the Psychosphere to check out the various psychbloggers. Go take a look.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"They Disrespected Our House"

Is that really any reason to stab a sixth grade girl to death? Apparently, it was reason enough for this female murderer in Chicago:

A police source said Jones claimed she stabbed Laura and her older sister, Mattie Bryant, because "they disrespected our house." Brooke Wright, 20, the older sister of both Laura and Bryant, said the woman who stabbed Laura had come to their block looking for a fight at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

When the woman she wanted to fight refused, she picked a fight with Bryant, Wright said. Laura got in the middle of it, and was stabbed in the chest and neck.

I thought women only killed in self defense, at least this is what so many "feminists" tell us. I wonder how they explain a woman on girl murder like this?