Monthly Archives: August 2009

Live Out Loud

Mice kept on a diet that is healthy (but absolutely no fun at all) in which their caloric intake was restricted to only 70% of what’s considered “normal” lived 30 to 40% longer than the usual lifespan.  The only downside of this restriction was that the mice were less fertile than their non-restricted counterparts. 

Most people can’t restrict calories for long, so, according to the New York Times, scientists are trying to find a drug that tricks the body into thinking it’s eating fewer calories.  The problem is that all of these restricted calorie experiments are done on captive mice, who are selected for quick breeding and who are fed on rich diets.  A low-calorie diet could be much closer to the diet that mice are adapted to in the wild, extending their life simply because it is much healthier for them.  Mice don’t live that long, anyway.  Humans have a longer life span, and that extended duration of time on the planet leaves us more vulnerable to cancers.

So, after 20 years of experimenting with caloric restriction on monkeys in captivity, studies found the monkeys were healthier (i.e., they had fewer incidents of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease), but their life span was not significantly longer.  Eating more prudently than we generally do, therefore, was good for quality of life, but not for quantity of life.

And that’s the point of my taking on this issue in the first place.  People call my radio program knowing they’re probably going to die of some particular terminal disease they have.  They call me, because they’re spending each day suffering emotionally over the realization that they will soon be dead.  My response to one woman in this situation was to wake up each morning and yell out loud:  “Damn – I’m not dead!  Today, I’m gonna LIVE OUT LOUD!!!”  The point of our being upset about death is the realization that we’ve lost all we value in life.  So, take each day that you’re not dead to live life to the fullest.  Enjoy that day you’re not dead.  Don’t waste one precious moment of it.

Come to think of it, that’s good advice for everyone, since at different times, and at different rates, we’re all terminal.  Don’t waste one minute of life.

Quote of the Week

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes
               – William James
                  American psychologist and philosopher
                  1842-1910

Live Like You Were Dyin’

This is a short (and not so sweet) blog.  Recently, I found out that a couple I know have been dealt a terrible blow.  Beginning last January, the husband noticed his wife stopped doing her complicated crossword puzzles.  Now he’s dealing with the fact that the love of his life has Stage IV Alzheimer’s disease.  While it is unusual for all of this to evolve so quickly, the horrible reality is that they have to deal with this news at a time in their lives when their only concern should be thinking of having fun with their grandchildren.

Also not long ago, I read a letter on my radio program from a woman who commented about a caller who complained that her husband wasn’t willing or able to properly install their child’s car seat.  The letter writer told a story about her own family – her husband, also, struggled to properly secure their child’s car seat.  Then, not long after doing so, a huge truck “T-boned” their car and killed her husband, injuring his wife (who was the one who wrote to me), but leaving uninjured their 2½ year old child who was saved because of the properly secured car seat.

The lesson here?  You NEVER know what the day is going to bring.  For those of you who work so hard to preserve the hate and hurt from your past (so much so that the present is ruined, and the future automatically looks bleak), hear me out now:

 Today really is the first day of the rest of your life.
 Today, YOU are the architect of your life
 Today is the day available to enjoy the blessings you do have.

There may not be a tomorrow.  Don’t live as though you had all eternity to get fit, stop smoking, and give up abusing drugs, alcohol or food.  Be nice to others, work hard at something, give of yourself to someone else, and let go of excuses and “blaming” behavior.  You don’t have all eternity.  You only know for sure that you have right now.

Don’t waste it.

Happy Anniversary to the Seat Belt

Here’s a trivia question:  Who invented the car seat belt?

The answer?  Volvo’s first safety engineer, Nils Bohlin, who invented it in 1959.  Prior to this invention, Bohlin designed a catapult ejector seat for airplane pilots. 

This month is the 50th anniversary of the three-point safety belt, an invention that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives globally.  Volvo also made the patent available to other car makers, because they were convinced of the life-saving potential of this invention.

Of course, just about everybody was against it at first:  it added cost to the car, no one wanted to promote cars as “death traps” by saying seat belts were there to save lives, and some people envisioned themselves trapped by a seat belt while a car was aflame or sinking into a watery grave. 

Facts eventually won out over emotional responses, and safety experts estimate that seat belts increase your chance of surviving ANY collision by roughly 50 percent (according to a Fox News story).

Of course, these days, there are many more safety precautions available to the average driver:  front and side air bags, pre-tensioners which tighten the safety belt straps when a collision is imminent, anti-lock braking system, and cars that talk to you when you’re too close to a wall or to another car. 

Nonetheless, all roads lead back to the seat belt.  You’re just plain stupid if you don’t use seat belts, and excuses like “it pinches,” or you don’t believe you’ll ever have an accident or you forget just don’t fly.

The facts are that you will more likely die by ejection if you don’t buckle up.  If you insist on not using your seat belt, please take out a million dollar life insurance policy for your family and friends.  That way, they can at least enjoy some benefit from your being so stubborn!

Lockerbie Bomber Treated Like a Hero

I am sick to my stomach and soul that Scotland freed the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, allowing the terminally ill creep to die in his homeland, Libya, and rejecting American pleas for justice in the attack that killed 270 people.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi served ONLY eight years of his life sentence.  Because he’s been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Scottish Judge Secretary MacAskill felt that since “Mr. al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power,” he should be set free to die in his own bed in Libya.  The mass murderer was convicted in 2001 of taking part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988 – just before Christmas.  The airliner exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, and all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground died when it crashed.

This evil man has been given three months to live, or so the doctors guess.  He is being given the luxury of dying in his country, in his town, in his home and with his family.  Is that appropriately compassionate?  Well, my take is that this is definitely compassionate, but definitely NOT appropriate. 

It is an appalling, disgusting, sickening decision made by misguided notions of compassion.  Compassion for this man is an insult to all the victims.  The compassion should be directed to the victims and the ongoing, permanent suffering of their families.  This is misplaced compassion, misdirected compassion, and inappropriate compassion.  All the families of the victims got the bits and pieces of their loved ones returned to them in a box.  The same should happen to al-Meghari. 

Why is this happening?  As one wise man once said, “Follow the money…or the oil.”  Libya’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi collected al-Megrahi on his private jet.  Western energy companies (including Britain’s BP PLC) have moved into Libya in an attempt to tap the country’s vast oil and gas wealth.  Gadhafi, as reported by FoxNews.com, has renounced terrorism, dismantled Libya’s secret nuclear program, and accepted his government’s responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.  He has paid compensation to the victim’s families.  I don’t know why he wants this vile creature back in Libya to die.  Perhaps it’s because there’s more to the story…

When al-Megrahi landed in Tripoli, more than 1,000 young Libyans gathered to welcome him, cheering and waving Libyan flags.  You should know that large public gatherings are rare in Libya, and tightly controlled by the government (especially on the tarmac where Gadhafi’s private jet lands). For a country that is supposed to have turned its back on terrorism, protecting, nurturing and celebrating a terrorist murderer is perplexing.  Perhaps it means that the roots of Libya are still firmly planted in extremist mentalities.  Or maybe it means that, having bowed to economic and political pressure, Libya wished to flex a bicep at the expense of 270 victims and their innumerable family members and friends.

To have put al-Meghari on a plane and then to welcome him as a hero, allowing him to die in peace is, in my opinion, an insult to the values of all civilization which believes that life is precious.  He forfeited the preciousness of his life when he thought it righteous to murder, killing men, women and children who didn’t mean him or anyone else any harm. 

Shame on Scotland.  Shame on Libya.  Shame on Scotland again, for not inflicting a death penalty on an unrepentant mass murderer.  We do not show the world that we value life when we impose minor consequences on those who devalue and steal lives.

Quote of the Week

So often time it happens, we all live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key. 
               – “Already Gone” 
                  Recorded by The Eagles (1974)
                  Written by Jack Temchin and Bob Strandlund

Michael Vick Returns to Football

Every time a celebrity does something egregious (and only when they get caught doing it), they appear on Letterman (or previously on Leno) or some network morning show to self-flagellate as a method for gaining sympathy.  It’s a rather standard public relations maneuver, and I usually find it to be an example of false contrition.

There’s a big difference between having remorse because you were caught, as opposed to before you were caught.  Most people just say “Sorry,” because they were caught, and not because they have actual remorse for doing something wrong.  In other words, their “Sorry,” actually means “Geez, I’m soooo sorry I was caught,” which is vastly different from “Oh, I’m soooo sorry I hurt someone.”

This brings me to Michael Vick, who, with his own hands, perpetrated some of the most horrific torture of fighting dogs that I have ever heard about.  Frankly, it was hard to imagine the kind of dissociation from all compassion and emotion that goes into looking into the eyes of suffering animals, and enjoying watching the pain and enjoying having that much power over an agonized, terrified animal.  To me, that is sociopathic which is over the top in cruelty.  I would not like to see that person on the streets ever again.

Vick is now out of jail, and has been on 60 Minutes to explain his behavior and to make the case for his repentance.  Repentance has four parts:  1) taking responsibility for your actions (owning what you’ve done and giving no excuses or blaming others for your own actions), 2) feeling remorse (i.e., being truly regretful for the hurt caused), 3) repair (for example, going to the Humane Society and/or giving talks to change people’s minds and hearts about how they treat animals – and, by the way, Vick has been doing that), and 4) no repeat behavior.  Those are the Four R’s of Repentance.

On 60 Minutes, Vick took total responsibility for his actions.  He was even pushed by James Brown, who asked: “Who do you blame for all of this?”  Vick said, “I blame me.”  He didn’t use the words “but…” or “it’s just…” which I hear all too often on my radio program.  Instead, he just took responsibility.  He talked about his first experience watching dog fights at age 8, and, as a boy of 8, thought it was cool, fun, and exciting.  It was something a lot of men friends did together. 

It was poignant when he pointed out that it was time for him to pay the price with jail time, he did that alone, because all his so-called “friends” were gone.  He said, “I deserve to lose the $130 million.”  He also admitted to being lazy and arrogant while at the Atlanta Falcons. It seems he took his prison time to really assess his own moral character and his life.  He spent 2 years in jail, and was suspended from playing football, and he lost all his sponsorship dollars and his reputation. 

None of that really impresses me…not at all.  What does impress me is his statement that “football doesn’t matter at all,” because “…I should have [taken] the initiative to stop it all.  I didn’t.  I didn’t stop it at all.”

So, I’m okay with the Philadelphia Eagles giving him a job.  I think he’s taken a right-hand turn onto the correct road toward being a decent human being.  I’m willing to stand out of his way and let him do just that.