THE WAY HOME : EXITING SUBSTANCE ABUSE, PART 1

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FIRST STEP : TOWARDS A CULTURE OF TREATMENT, NOT PUNISHMENT

We see them on a daily basis — the disheveled, homeless person wandering the streets. For most of us, a first reaction to seeing our fellow human being in such a state is, “what set of circumstances brings a person to this condition?”

Or, “I have heard that this is a lifestyle choice. But why would anyone willing choose to live this way? “

This to many of us is the face of addiction and alcoholism.

Living on the streets and not seeking shelter is a choice often made by those who use drugs or alcohol.   Most shelters turn away people seen to be under the influence; yet to those who continue to “use,” enduring the perils of nature and dangers of living on the street is a price worth paying .

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those who estimate the cost of drug and alcohol abuse peg it at over $600 billion annually.  Breaking this huge amount down, we find $ 193 billion spent for illicit drugs, the same amount for tobacco, and $235 billion for alcohol.  From these immense dollar totals alone, we can conclude that substance abuse is not limited only to unfortunate men and women living on the margins of our society.

About drug and alcohol abuse, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service states this:

“Many Americans believe that drug abuse is not their problem. They have misconceptions that drug users belong to a segment of society different from their own, or that drug abuse is remote from their environment. They are wrong. Almost three quarters of drug users are employed.

“A majority of Americans believes that drug use and drug-related crime are among our nation’s most pressing social problems. Indeed, about 45 percent of Americans actually know someone with a substance abuse problem.”

Imprisonment dogs the substance abuser in America. Our nation’s Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the free world.  We imprison 743 of every 100,000, compared to 96 out of 100,000 in England and Wales and 71 per 100,000 in France.  The Center for Economic Policy Research says that 60 percent of all US prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent crimes.

Much of that 60 percent goes to prison for relatively minor crimes – because “three strikes” laws require lengthy mandatory minimum sentencing no matter what..

A criminal-system response  to the disease of addiction arises from our society’s perception that substance abuse is a moral failing rather than a medical condition.  By no means am I suggesting not holding people accountable for their actions. But accountability in the case of substance abuse should emphasize treatment and recovery.

The cost to our society  of substance abuse goes well beyond dollar figures.   Those afflicted with drug problems fill our emergency rooms, kill people through accidents and contribute towards violent crime.  Violence often arises from the intoxicating effects of drugs and alcohol.

We need to seek out and find alternatives to the familiar but wasteful, crime and punishment approach toward the scourge that substance abuse puts upon our civil society.  We do not punish people with diabetes, lactose intolerance or cancer.  We treat them.   Addiction is recognized as a mental illness, and often, in some cases it is a combination of both mental and physical ailments..

There are many collaborative efforts being forged to create a culture of treatment for drug abuse as a  chronic condition rather than one of punishment.   In upcoming blogs I hope to highlight and bring attention to those who are pursuing this course.

— John Shea III / The Way Home

EDITORIAL : THE SURVEILLANCE STATE WILL NOT WORK

photo of Eric Snowden : courtesy csmonitor.com

The recent revelation that America’s Federal government has access to everyone’s phone calls and all internet traffic on the nine most-used websites has shocked our nation. It should. The NSA and CIA claim legislation authorizes them; that the procedures for using such access are rigorous and scrupulously followed. Do you believe them ?

Less than a month ago it was learned that the Department of Justice, searching for whoever leaked intelligence info to the Associated Press, subpoena’d all of the AP’s phone records over a two-month period. Not only phone records relevant to the leaker, but ALL the AP’s phone records. Do you think that was justified ? The DOJ says that the subpoena was perfectly legal. Should it be ?

All of the above actions, most likely, would make sense, and be consented to by the nation,l if we were fully at war. During the Civil war, the writ of habeas corpus, as basic to free people as it gets, was suspended — and after the War, this suspension was upheld by the Supreme Court. World War I, not only anti-war actions but even anti-war speech was prosecuted. During World War II, blanket censorship of mails was put in place. Few complained; were gravely at war, and in war, many of the usual liberties of a free people understandably take a time out.

After the attacks of 9/11, our nation once again moved to a war footing — understandably so. The Patriot Act curbed many of the liberties of a free people and imposed rigorous searches upon anyone boarding an airplane — or even using a library book. Crossing the Canadian border now required a passport. The e-mails and phone calls of non-citizens were snooped on. As long as the emergency after 9/11 lasted, most Americans consented.

Still, in all the above cases ecept the aftermath of 9/11, the incursions upon basic liberties of a free people lasted only for a few years, after which the curbs were stopped. But not this time.

This time the American people are being asked to live long periods of our lives with many of our liberties curbed — get frisked and searched at an airport or the entrance to a court house and then tell us that your liberties aren’t being curbed — and our private communications available everywhere and always to government officials.

There is no limit to who these curbs impact. All of us are being treated as potential enemies, potential terrorists. The government’s position is that it cannot trust us. None of us. We are all suspects.

This attitude, if allowed to continue, will corrode the loyalty of the American people, and it should. Loyalty only works when voluntarily given. Loyalty induced by an official wearing a uniform or a CIA badge is no loyalty at all. Loyalty checked out by search and frisk is no loyalty at all. Loyalty proved only by an invasive eavesdrop is no loyalty at all, not even when that eavesdrop is legislated and made “legal.” Legal it may be; freedom it is not.

The fight we are in with terrorism — most of it initiated overseas, most of it (but not all) Islamic — is not a “war’ any longer as we understand the term “war.” No armies are clashing by night — and the armed forces we still have in Afghanistan are coming home. No navies are slugging it out; no air forces are bombing each other’s cities. The fight against terrorism is handled today by police apparatus and the regular courts with the help — maybe — of the FBI. The injuries caused by low level terrorism can be grievous — witness the horror of Boston on Marathon Day. But it was simple police work that responded and apprehended the two “perps,’ and it is in Federal Court that the surviving suspect will be tried, with full civil rights for his defense.

It is our glory as a society that we assure full civil rights to a defendant in a terrorism matter. But must we the American people have to be such a defendant in order to have our civil rights ? Ought not the entire nation to be assured the same, and our civil liberties as well ? Including our privacy ?

The Federal government needs to trust the American people. It really is that simple. If it won’t,  will eventually decide not to trust IT.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

GIRL TALK : DAVE AUDE’ at CLUB CAFE 06.07.13

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GIRL TALK DANCE : DAVE AUDE’ @ CLUB CAFE 06.07.13

Master re-mixer Dave Aude’ made a rare Boston DJ appearance last night at Club Cafe. The more than two-hour set by Aude’ was a highlight of Boston’s Pride Week. On the same night that Roger Sanchez, equally masterful as Aude’ and for just as many years, was dropping a two-hour set at a club not three blocks away, Aude’ rocked a dance floor full and excited.

There’s no mistaking what Aude’ does. He remixes pop bop dance tracks almost always featuring girly girl singers. In the studio, no one does it better, not many as well. His sound is creamy smooth most of the time but occasionally slap-nasty. Beats race along, synthesizers chirp and whoop, and the girl singer puckers her message of love-me, of go-away, of have fun and dance with me.

And so it was at Club Cafe. Aude’ played spiffy girl dances and nasty ones, hits new and old (Cazzette and Afrojack, but also early 1990s stuff such as Inner City’s “Good Life” and parts of tracks that echoed Snap, Ya Kid K, and Haddaway), and a long chain of racy giddy girls’ nights out — all of it segued with a smooth hand. He sound nudges the entire body. There’s roll and rumble, step and tiptoe for the legs and feet; shimmy shake sound effects for the hips and chest; and voices cute, chirpy, teasing, grungy — these and more; Aude’ has remixed an almost who’s who of star and wanna-be star girl pop voices — for the head and neck. In Aude’s sound each gets center stage only to give way — effortlessly in a dissolve mix, teetering on a quick cut — to its sonic companions.

Using the scantiest of equipment, two CD players and Club cafe’s stripped-down mix-board, Aude’ still managed to juggle his three-part sound without one flat moment, missed cue, or off-base segue. There were jet streak effects, twisty riffs, moody breaks, melodic serenades; sometimes he shaped his sound as a sharp slash, a kind of sword dance. But mostly he delivered his signature : girl going giddy, soprano soaring, heart a flutter. It was a night of girl talk and girlie action delivered mostly to boys for whom girl things are a necessary freedom to love and be loved in.

There is nothing simple about girl feelings. That’s why dancers — boy or girl — who embrace girl moves adore them. Aude’ focuses his sound and subject matter as narrowly as any DJ this writer has seen; yet at Club Cafe he made it serve an almost horizon-less expanse of tones, moves, talk, and beats. The many young DJs who play girl-voiced pop bop to party people often settle for sameness and surface. Not Aude’. His mixes at Club Cafe went inside a melody and turned it around and out, this way and that, changing on the fly and doubling back. Challenging, Aude’s rhythm action sure is, to a girl playing vixen, vamp, or Betty Boop. At Club Cafe Aude made sure that all of his chosen singers commanded her chosen role — and his chosen music.

— Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music

KAT GOT YOUR TONGUE : SIZE MATTERS ? MAYBE IT DOESN’T.

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So we meet again, dear Kat readers !!

For those reading Kat for the first time, I’d like to inform everyone that all content here was derived from reputable sources. You are NOT reading pseudoscience !

Now that I’ve disclaimer-ed you to death, my topic and question is, “Does penis size matter when finding a mate?”

Although, this topic arouses a banquet of controversy, even my own curiosity was piqued here. How exactly does one tackle this age-old question, one so perverted and distorted by stereotypes? I’ll tell you how! Science!

People have been obsessed with penis size since Eve first discovered Adam eventually had an additional bone for her. Considering all variables surrounding my topic, I chose a source that remained most objective : research and experiments from the University of Ottawa and from the Australian National University appeared most suitable as to the methods used to obtain and reinforce the data I will be using here. (Ummm, thanks Canada for your unsung obsession with male genitalia. A double thanks to Australia for supporting the findings of our frigid northern friends!)

Both universities performed experiments using computer generated naked male images to gauge sexual attractiveness. To paint a better visual picture, those artificial images gave no relevance to facial features or hair. Giving ugly bald guys out there a fair chance. These life sized pictures varied in height, physique, and complete with flaccid penises. All women participating in the experiment were instructed to rate the images by sexual attraction.

Each image’s starting length was a 3-inch pinch, and as the images progressed, so did penis length. Interestingly enough, with the growth of penis size so did the image’s polarity ranking. As an image’s penis size continued to increase, its appeal slowly decreased when compared to proceeding images.

Yet another plus one for men lesser endowed! Please don’t get discouraged, gentlemen, this data could be a manifestation of evolutionary principles embedded in the female subconscious. Penis size once was a primeval indicator of a male’s ability to sire genetically desirable offspring. Which would explain why the human penis has evolved at an accelerating rate in comparison to other primates.

Turns out, though, that the experiments in research of penis size only had relevance when considered in tandem with body type : taller images with smaller penises scored higher than shorter images with larger penises, and shorter images with smaller penises ranked the least favorable. The image ranking highest in scores seemed to be the tallest image with the largest penis trumping over all other images. Both the tall and short images scoring the best all shared the same mesomorphic qualities. ( “Mesomorph” is just a fancy way of saying a body type with broad shoulders, wide chest, and narrow hips. ) According to the data gathered, penis size is nowhere near as important as a nice body. Which doesn’t surprise me considering men don’t wear their penis outside their pants while on the dating scene. First we gals must be seduced by what we see on the surface. Only after can we experience any sexual gratification or disappointment.

A penis will not find you a mate; but it will definitely help you keep her. Best way to find a mate, guys? A Macy’s credit card & gym membership! And even if you’re not well-endowed, fear not Vienna sausage packing dudes! Learn to speak in tongues to better communicate with the whispering eye.

Conveniently enough, a woman’s cervix is between three and five inches long. It only expands slightly upon arousal to accommodate a man’s penis. So what’s all the commotion in the ocean ? There are plenty of fish in the sea that’ll take your bait no matter what size. Uh, ladies not everyone fishing wants a large mouth bass hanging off their poles. Kegels…Google it, or just wait for my next blog.

— Kat Gottlich / Kat Got your Tongue

WHAT IS GOING ON IN TURKEY ?

photo : courtesy gloablpost.com

Photos and reports from Istanbul in Turkey of late, and now from Ankara, the capital, chronicle yet another Middle Eastern nation engulfed in popular unrest. What started as a peaceful protest in Istanbul by people who wanted to save a major city park from urban development metastasized in just days into a violent confrontation with Turkey’s government police.

To many, this looked like Cairo, Egypt all over again.

Turkey, however, is no Arab country in long-suppressed need of an “Arab Spring.” Turkey is by no means an autocracy. It does not deny rights to women. It does not persecute Muslims. Its big city, Istanbul, is a modern, cosmopolitan, tourist destination place as alive with nightlife, fashion, restaurants, and money-making as Paris, Rome, lor Barcelona. It hardly looks, to the outsider, like ground zero for major anti-government riots, even though in Byzantine times, when then Constantinople was by far the most populous, multi-cultural, and commercial city in the Western world, mobs and riots were common. Justianian and Theodora, famous as a team, famously put down the most dangerous one, the week-long Nika riots of 532.

Since 1920, when Kemal Ataturk and his fellows overthrew the last Ottoman sultan and established a secular democracy, Turkey has – at least on paper and intention — devolved power to its people. Ataturk’s constitution, moreover, proclaimed Turkey a secular society. Religion there was but not in the government. This was radical; but it held. Until about twelve years ago, when an Islamist political party challenged for power — and soon won Turkey’s Parliament — Turkey was governed by rational designs, not those of faiths.

However, there has always been a dark side in Turkish society — a tribal mindset, an ethnic exclusivity that has done more than its share of harm. In 1915 it was the Armenians who suffered from Turkish ethno-ferocity: more than a million Armenians were slaughtered; another million emigrated (many to Watertown, Massachusetts). At war with Greece from 1920 to 1923, the victorious Turks expelled milions of Greeks from their almost 3000-year homelamds on the Ionian coast. Greeks remained in Istanbul — to them, Constantinople — but were never fully accepted, and today less than 10,000 Greeks remain in the city that was, for more a thousand years, the capital of the Greek Byzantine Empire. More recently it has been the turn of Turkey’s Kurds, a Persian-related people who number many milions and dominate the country’s large southeastern portion (a pie-slice shaped area abutting Kurdish zones of Syria, Iraq, and Iran) to feel the steel of Turkey’s armed forces suppressing them. Until recently even the Kurdish language was banned; the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan remains imprisoned even while negotiating some kind of accomodation with Tiurkey’s Islamist government.

This intolerance has now developed a religious taint. Outside the big cities, women are forced to cover their heads, as in other Islamist countries. Religion in politics has led to Turkey’s estrangement from its long-time, major Middle Eastern ally, Israel. The Islamist inclinations of Turkey’s Erdogan government have now made it almost impossible for Turkey to join the European Union — in the 1990s it looked sure to win admission, only to be stopped by Western European nation’s concerns about Turkey’s long record of human rights violations. (in fairness, Turkey’s human rights record looks good compared to what is commonplace in the Arab Middle East.) And the Euro Zone’s rejection of Turkey’s application to join has, in turn, generated a backlash in Turkey that has taken the nation down a path that Turkish urbanites cannot accept.

Since Erdogan and his Islamist, Justice and Development (in Turkish, the “AK”) party first came to power in 2002 — winning a two-thirds majority in Parliament — Turkey has reformed its economy significantly; as a result, the AK was re-elected handily in 2007 and again in 2011. In addition, as Erdogan’s Wiki entry notes, Erdogan’s government, seeking membership in the EU, gave the European Court of Human Rights supremacy over Turkish courts, reduced the powers of the 1991 Anti-Terror Law, and abolished some restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.

Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan

Nonetheless, during recent years, as it became apparent to Erdogan that the European Union was not goinbg to admit Turkey to membership any time soon, he and the AK moved away from the reforms they had put in place and instead have embraced the rural, reactionary, religion-ist people who were from the first the AK’s power base. Politically, that bis what advanced political forces sometimes do when they appear to have advanced too far. Unfortunately for the AK, it has let the cat of freedom too thoroughly out of the bag for it to be easily belled. Freedom is a sticky thing; once people have it, they find it glued into their souls. Freedom becomes who the free are. And rightly so.

Thus in today’s NY Times we find a full page ad, on page A13, in which the “democracy Movement” procaims “People of Turkey have spoken ” WE WLL NOT BE OPPRESSED.

As the ad then asserts: “Millions are outraged by the vioolent reaction of their government to a peaceful protest aimed at saving Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

“Outraged, yet not surpriosed.

“Over the course of Prime Minideter Erdogan’s ten-year term, we have winessed a steady erosion of oyr civil rights and freedoms. Arrrsts of numerous journalists, artists, and elected officials and restricions on freedom of speech, minorities’ and women’s rights all demonstrate that the ruling party is not serious about democracy.”

And on from there, for an entire NY times page reciting a list of grievances as long –and evidently as true — as those itemized in our own 1776 Declaration of Independence.

What is going on in Turkey  is the opposite of what happened in the “Arab Spring.” The Arabs of Spring were rebelling to gain rights they had not had. The rebellious in Turkey are rebelling to re-secure rights they have already had — but now see taken away. Clearly the events at Gezi park were not the beginning. The anger has been stoking for years. Better that it act now than wait till the repression-minded Erdogan government make future resistance too little too late.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NEW JERSEY SENATE SEAT l CHRISTIE CHOOSES CORRECTLY

photo : courtesy of minnpost.com

New Jersey Governor has chosen to hold a special election in October to pick a successor to Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey’s five-term US Senator who died last week. We at Here and Sphere applaud Christie’s decision.

When a US senator dies, in most states it’s up to the Governor to appoint a successor or schedule a special election. Whichever choice he makes, he is bound to anger this or that interest group or political party. Governor Christie is up for re-election in November, and all polls show him likely to win a huge victory. His willingness to do what he thinks is right for the people of New Jersey, regardless of party interests, is the primary reason why he is so popular. Rightly so. People in America are fed up with political party goals taking precedence over the needs of the nation. In particular people see the GOP as putting itself first, America second. Chris Christie, though, has spurned this GOP-first agenda — and has won the trust of his state’s voters by doing so.

It looked as though the death of Senator Lautenberg might, finally, trigger a false move by Christie. He, a Republican, could appoint a successor — a Republican, certainly, replacing the Democrat Lautenberg — and schedule no election until November 2014. That is what the national GOP wanted. Or he could have called a special Senate election, to be held on the same November day that he himself is up for re-election. That is what the Democrats wanted, because their preferred Senate candidate, Cory Booker, could bring out a large vote, win the Senate seat, and maybe even threaten Christie’s re-election.

Instead, Christie decided to schedule a special election in October. The decision has angered both parties. It also will cost the state maybe $ 20 million dollars and so has angered some state budget hawks. Governor Christie’s response ? “the people of this state are entitled to choose a new senator, and as soon as possible, and if it costs $ 20 million to do that, I don’t care.”

It’s the right response. $ 20 million spent to ensure that the voters choose their Senator quickly — and to do so separately from Christie’s own re-election, thereby not confusing the two races with one another — ensures that the interests of voters, not of political party interests, will prevail in New Jersey. And if his decision angers both parties ? So much the better.

No political message is more needed in today’s America; and no politician in today’s America has shown anything like Christie’s boldness and consistency in pursuing it. We congratulate him.

— the Editors

Time for the ” Question of the week “

Does better insurance affect quality of care?

We have all been there, sitting in a Hospital waiting room – waiting, and waiting, and waiting…Where it feels as though we are living every minute in dog years. We sift and skim through the pamphlets, magazines, and what’s left of the daily paper….

On to the vending machines we go, rummaging through our purses, wallets and pockets in hopes of having just enough.

Finally the TRIAGE doors swing open. The clipboard-clad nurse decked out in flowery scrubs looks down at the list of hope and devastation, scrupulously giving it a twice -over.  As she looks up…. breaths are held…hope is high….fingers are crossed….And then……Nope instead of you, and your feverish, achy, flu ridden self……She has the AUDACITY to summons “Mr. Snazzy sniffles Fancy pants”!

……………??? WHAT???………………

What makes him so special?, He got here after me, didn’t he? He looks fine to me! Everyone mumbles, grunts, and complains….including yourself.

Now perhaps he was the last one to join in the wait, maybe he was far less critical than others waiting, he may have even been non- emergent completely…

So poses the question of hospital protocol, and politics.

Was he indeed called, triaged, treated, and sent on his merry way simply because:
HE HAD BETTER INSURANCE???

At Here and Sphere we would love to hear from you. Give us your thoughts,opinions, and feedback….

Drop us an E-mail at Here_and_Sphere@yahoo.com. Make “Question of the week” its subject. Maybe your response will be featured in the follow-up…

—- Heather Cornell

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