Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Happiness is love. Full stop."

The Grant Study began in 1938.. It was ongoing for 75 years and cost $20 million. It was part of a larger project The Study of Adult Development. Essentially the study tracked the lives of some 268 Harvard graduates and  "332 disadvantaged non-delinquent inner-city youths who grew up in Boston neighborhoods."  As an aside, Wikipedia informs us that among the Harvard group was a future president, John F. Kennedy. [Be advised that as of today the last update on Wikipedia was November 29, 2012.] The study was finally concluded and George Vaillant, the last director published a book summing  up and elaborating on the findings, Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study (2012). 

Scott Stossel, revisits the study's results in The Atlantic Monthly's, May 2013 issue.

  • Men who had “warm” childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men whose mothers were uncaring.
  • Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.
  • Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
  • On the other hand, warm childhood relations with fathers correlated with lower rates of adult anxiety, greater enjoyment of vacations, and increased “life satisfaction” at age 75—whereas the warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on life satisfaction at 75.
Thank You, Mommie Dearest


Monday, April 29, 2013

Donovan Campbell: Is This What Jesus Sounded Like?

Every once in a while someone comes along that's too good to be true and they usually are. The jury is still out on Donovan Campbell, but having seen people like him rise before … color me skeptical.

He is every mother's dream. Clean cut, brave, charismatic, very smart, charming and good looking. Donovan has a wife and two daughters and as I heard him speaking, I wondered what life was like living with someone wound as tight as he? You can read a bit about him here. But he has several other self-promotion sites on line.

He speaks a lot about virtue and leadership qualities much of which he learned at Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS). Without a shred of evidence, I believe he has a hidden agenda. I think Donovan wants to become a movement leader where he can maximize his following and implement his virtuous beliefs in the real world. Some would call this 'magical thinking'.

What's the potential danger? Everything he says is true to some extent. The quality of virtue does seems to be in decline and pervasive among leaders in churches, schools, politics, business and even us ... the wretched of the earth. The danger of people like Mr. Campbell is that they really, truly believe that they have the 'answer' and there is a hunger out there for someone with the 'answer'.

At this moment in time criticism or even questioning him will not be popular. His message is bullet proof. What worries me is the potential of a movement of true believers based on his core beliefs. Heaven on earth movements do not tolerate us sinners and that my friends seems to be Mr. Campbell's hidden agenda.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Music Section: George Jones Is Not Charlie Rich

George Jones died last week. Country music lost a mover and shaker and a legend, but he is not Charlie Rich.

I got them confused as I was looking for some jazz songs by Jones. There are none. It was Charlie Rich, aka The Silver Fox, who was an accomplished jazz vocalist's and his adherence to what we now call 'crossover' limited both his fame and fortune.

"Charlie Rich was simultaneously one of the most critically acclaimed and most erratic country singers of post-World War II era. Rich had all the elements of being one of the great country stars of the '60s and '70s, but his popularity never matched his critical notices. What made him a critical favorite also kept him from mass success. Throughout his career, Rich willfully bended genres, fusing country, jazz, blues, gospel, rockabilly, and soul. Though he had 45 country hits in a career that spanned nearly four decades, he became best-known for his lush, Billy Sherrill-produced countrypolitan records of the early '70s. Instead of embracing the stardom those records brought him, Rich shunned it, retreating into semiretirement by the '80s." [Read more here]

Ever heard of 'countrypolitan' before? 

The last 331/3 (You explain it to everyone 45 and under.) I owned of Charlie's was the 1975 album "Every Time You Touch Me I Get High". On it were two of the Billy Sherrill produced songs. Lush is an understatement, but they work very well alone and with a bottle of wine as does Jackie Gleason's LP "Music For Lovers Only".

Back to The Silver Fox, here are two of selections of his 'countrypolitan' songs:

Every Time You Touch Me I get High

This song was written by Charlie and Sherrill and released in 1975

Since I Fell For You

Buddy Johnson wrote this in 1945. Wikipedia tells us that the song didn't take off until Lenny Welch recorded it in 1963. Since then it has become a standard and performed by many great singers. But here's The Silver Fox.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Puppet Masters

I was listening to a discussion of the immigration bill this morning on NPR's "On Point". It was noted that now some senators are concerned about background checks.

Background checks during the gun legislation was pooh-hooed as expensive, not effective, etc. This was in the face of overwhelming public opinion in favor of universal background checks.

The only why I can make sense of this silliness is that "all politics is local" is no longer applicable to insure re-election. Thanks to recent Supreme Court rulings all politics is anything but local. Influential, extremely wealthy individuals and now corporations from various parts of the nation are in control of local politics. Philosophical inclinations are primarily libertarian/conservative, but liberals in Hollywood and the East Coast (i.e. Mayor Bloomberg) have used their personal fortunes in attempts to sway politicians in distant areas of the country. Just today we learn that Max Baucus is retiring because he is facing an expensive election challenge. This happens even though he voted against the recent gun control legislation in hopes the out-of-state puppet masters would not challenge him.

Probably, although not in my lifetime,  the citizens will wake up to the fact that money trumps constituent opinion and that the only remedy is both term limits and election financial reform. I am for shortening campaigns, make them clearly issue oriented, with very tight constants on financial contributions limited exclusively to individuals who have verifiable legal residence within the boundaries of the particular jurisdiction.

Presidential elections would also be shortened and clearly issue-oriented, but federally financed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Style Section: Heeeeeeeeee's Back

Today we learn that Christian Lacroix, primarily known for his pouf dresses and jackets during the late eighties and into the nineties is making a kind of comeback. His website posts a cozy men's fashion show from January, 2013. But, Jacob Bernstein reports in the NYT that Mr. Lacroix is working on "a 15-piece couture collection for Schiaparelli to be shown in Paris this summer."

Schiaparelli's website is a Spring, 2012 newsletter, however Style.com tells us that the new owner of the Schiaparelli house, Diego Della Valle, did confirm a July, 2013 show by Lacroix. 

Do we have a preview … no, but we have Katharine K. Zarrella's brief interview with Lacroix in which she describes the show as one of a series of interpretations of Schiaparelli's designs.

THE ART AND FASHION OF ELSA SCHAPARELLI (May not link on a mobile device.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Style Section

I have never read the Style Section in the New York Times nor any fashion magazine… never, ever. However, I have a friend who claims that everyone knows the Style Section is the best section of the NYT. So today I looked it over and she may be right.

Fashion just has never seemed relevant to my world. Unbeknownst to me I seem to have a seasonal style. In the summer I have been mistaken for a camp counselor and in the winter I have been offered change by strangers who believe I am homeless.

Back to the Style Section and specifically to this article by Eric Wilson. It dawned on me that style is art  with the big exception that big bucks are risked on the taste of the designer (I know… duh?). Mr. Wilson does a great piece on Hedi Slimane and pulls the curtain back on the business end of haute couture. That's the part I like. Fashion is not the ephemeral, trivial occupation I once thought. It is a competitive, bitchy, diva-driven, cut throat business. I now have more interest and respect for those who 'make it' in this business.

Hedi Slimane

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The "Truth Dump"

"Omitting risks from a consent form these days is relatively rare, experts said, as institutions often want to reduce the chances that they will be sued. The result is voluminous forms that do more to protect the institution than to empower the potential subject." One medical ethics person calls this the "truth dump".

Yet, Sabrina Tavernise, reports to us, that in a study conducted on premature babies, parents were not informed that eye disease, blindness and death could result from their child's participation in the study. They were informed however that a possible abrasion to the baby's skin could occur from an oxygen monitoring device.

Reporter Tavernise goes on to note that in a 13 page letter from the Office of Human Research Protections investigating the study, researchers were aware of possible consequences.

I don't have a problem with the study, because I have no expertise to criticize it, but the informed consent form was, in my opinion, a deliberate scheme to keep parents ignorant of the risks. The University of California at San Diego was the institution that actually wrote the consent form but it was reviewed and approved by all 23 institutions involved in the study.

So to make everything okay, Dr. Richard B. Marchase, said: "… he had assured the office [Office of Human Research Protections] that in the future, “we will to the best of our ability let the subjects or their parents know as thoroughly as possible what previous studies suggest in terms of risk.” He added, “We are going to be very sensitive to that going forward as we look at these consent forms.”

I think we will be hearing more on this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Correlations and In Place of Parents

You know how medical researchers thought what was good for you is now bad for you? Or what was bad for you is now good for you. These were based in many cases on correlations. Probably the most egregious correlation studies were done by tobacco companies.

There are other silly correlations based on urban myths. Right now the Hong Kong stock market is jittery over actor Adam Cheng's new movie. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Stock Index often plunges when Mr. Cheng launches a new project.

Adam Gopnik discusses correlations in his blog posting "Armed Correlations". He is building a case for gun control legislation by correlating gun control laws with gun violence. Just like the debate over global warming and carbon emissions the debate is over a causal relationship of this correlation.

So when can we be confident of a causal relationship of a correlation? According to Mr. Gopnik:

"What makes a correlation causal? Well, it should be robust, showing up all over the place, across many states and nations; it should exclude some other correlation that might be causing the same thing; and, ideally, there ought to be some kind of proposed mechanism that would explain why one element affects the other. There’s a strong correlation between vaccines and less childhood disease, for instance, and a simple biological mechanism of induced immunity to explain it."

Mr. Gopnik believes he has found such elements between gun control laws and gun violence.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/03/armed-correlations-gun-ownership-and-violence.html#ixzz2PcMCUhDW

Monday, April 8, 2013

Who's On First: Game of Thrones

I have been watching "Game of Thrones". It's not for people who like a simple tale of good and evil. Probably the most charming character of late and the most evil … even worst than Joffrey is Jamie Lannister aka King Slayer.

I can't keep things straight. Some characters I hated, like Jamie, now I like. I even have empathy for Joffrey.  Not only is  he the progeny of an incestuous relationship between twin siblings, Jamie and Cersel Lannister. Cersel manipulates him like a pawn. He can only rebel against her by being violent and impulsive.

"Game of Thrones" basically revolves around seven kingdoms and there are on again/off again alliances that further confuses. Even within these various kingdoms there are rivalries and not only for leadership of the kingdom but the iron throne which rules all the other kingdoms (Precariously held, at the moment, by the Lannisters.).

Given all the above, the entire production is top drawer, in my opinion. Good writing, acting production design, etc. So, I will stay with it and keep trying to determine, who's on first.

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

There is a woman in Britain, who back in 2008, set the world record for plastic surgery procedures. Why? Because she wanted to look like Barbie.

Doing a little cursory research I found this not altogether unusual. There are a number of Barbie wantabes and now with the advancement in Photoshop some people doubt authenticity of  the results?

This pales in comparison to Jocelyn Wildenstein, who wanted to look like a cat.

The Bride of Wildenstein

Jocelyn, if the facts are true paid $4,000,000 to look like this. I read about her in the April, 2013 issue of The Atlantic. 

From Wikipedia we learn that she suspected and caught her husband with a 19 year old girl. Mr. Wildenstein pulled out a gun, but apparently no one was shot. In the subsequent divorce proceedings the judge awarded Jocelyn $2.5 Billion in the divorce settlement but ordered her not to use any alimony for further cosmetic surgeries.