April 21st, 2006

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Good Morning!!

Yesterday, Elaine suggested that American Ginseng is good for radiation fatigue, and I had one cup of tea around five yesterday and I felt calm and energized. I woke this morning feeling like a million bucks, ready for my day, so I now have it in capsule and tea form, and am feeling this will get me over the radiation fatigue hump. If it is psychological, that works too. Also, my breast feels fine today, so I think the fatigue came out in all sorts of ways, or I was tired because my breast hurt, but however, it was, I am feeling quite ready for this day, and am up and rarin' to go. I also have time for breakfast this morning, and enter this day feeling calm and ahead of the eight ball, instead of behind. It is the way to go. I hope you also are calm and energized, and enjoying the unique cloud cover of this day. It comes only this once. Good cheer to All and Happy Trails!
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Medical Studies -

I think marijuana should be legal and taxed.

That said, I see, today, that the F.D.A. dismisses a medical benefit from marijuana. My personal experience supports that. Right before I started chemo, I heard Melissa Etheridge saying she could not have made it through chemo without marijuana. I got prepared for the onslaught of misery she predicted. I started chemo on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and nausea began. I did not want to ruin Thanksgiving since we planned to go out to a beautiful restaurant, so I used marijuana Thanksgiving morning through a vaporizer. There was no affect on the nausea for me. I sat facing the restroom in the restaurant ready to bolt. I, like many people, rarely vomited with chemo, but I certainly felt ready to a good deal of the time. I did not take the legal pills the medical community prescribed because I didn't like the side effects.

Anyway, I bring this up because it seems there are studies proving both sides. I think the placebo effect is proven, and that scientists often see what they want to see. In my case, I didn't like the idea of using anything. Perhaps that is why it didn't work for me, or maybe it doesn't work, or it only works for certain people. Who knows? We are all different. We are unique. Let's toss that in the mix.

A woman, who waits with me in the morning for radiation, tests drugs used for AIDS. She thinks the testing is key. She agrees with the F.D.A. on this. I see how complex it is. I asked her what she thought of Arimidex. If she were me with what I have have/had, she absolutely would take it. Her case is different. She didn't have chemo, and she thinks Tamoxifin, which is what would be prescribed for her condition, is not worth the risks, so she is not taking it.

Certainly if marijuana helps people, it seems they should have it. If it were legal like liquor, it would be much easier for us all. That's where my vote is on this one, on what I see as common sense.
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Donald Revell chooses the pick of the day for today and comments on www.poems.com.
Here is "Wonder."

by Thomas Traherne (1636-1674)

How like an angel came I down!
How bright are all things here!
When first among his works I did appear,
O how their glory did me crown!
The world resembled his eternity,
In which my soul did walk,
And everything that I did see
Did with me talk.

The skies in their magnificence,
The lively, lovely air;
O how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!
The stars did entertain my sense,
And all the works of God so bright and pure,
So rich and great did seem,
As if they ever must endure,
In my esteem.

A native health and innocence
Within my bones did grow,
And while my God did all his glories show,
I felt a vigor in my sense
That was all SPIRIT. I within did flow
With seas of life like wine;
I nothing in the world did know
But 'twas divine.

Harsh ragged objects were concealed,
Oppression's tears and cries,
Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes.
Were hid; and only things revealed
Which heavenly spirits and the angels prize.
The state of innocence
And bliss, not trades and poverties,
Did fill my sense.

The streets were paved with golden stones,
The boys and girls were mine,
O how did all their lovely faces shine!
The sons of men were holy ones.
In joy and beauty then appeared to me
And everything which here I found
While like an angel I did see,
Adorned the ground.

Rich diamond and pearl and gold
In every place was seen;
Rare splendors, yellow, blue, red, white, and green,
Mine eyes did everywhere behold.
Great wonders clothed with glory did appear,
Amazement was my bliss.
That and my wealth was everywhere:
No joy to this!

Cursed and devised proprieties,
With envy, avarice,
And fraud, those fiends that spoil even paradise,
Fled from the splendor of mine eyes.
And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds,
I dreamed not aught of those,
But wandered over all men's grounds,
And found repose.

Proprieties themselves were mine,
And hedges ornaments;
Walls, boxes, coffers, and their rich contents
Did not divide my joys, but all combine.
Clothes, ribbons, jewels, laces, I esteemed
My joys by others worn;
For me they all to wear them seemed
When I was born.

*Donald Revell comments:

Written more than one hundred years before *Songs of Innocence* or
"Ode: Intimations of Immortality" and entirely unknown to either Blake or Wordsworth (and unknown to us as well, if the manuscript had not been rescued from a rubbish fire and published early in the 20th-century), Traherne's "Wonder" freely offers a source of pure clear energy to our defaced and disfiguring time. Here is a poem proposing INNOCENCE not as want of experience or as helplessness, but rather as an active Capacity to be filled, to be illuminated and then thereafter to shine with all the virtues of every blessed thing to which it does no harm. Imagine an economic theory based upon harmlessness; here it is - "my wealth was everywhere." Imagine an aggressive environmentalism based upon harmlessness; here it is - "I nothing in the world did know / But 'twas divine." Imagine a polity in which one's birth is the only passport, only credential needed for man or woman to walk freely upon earth; here it is. I read this poem, and I can hardly wait for Thomas Traherne to be born.

Poet, translator and critic DONALD REVELL is the author, most recently, of *Pennyweight Windows: New & Selected Poems*. His collection *My Mojave* won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. He is also author of two translations and a collection of essays. Two-time winner of the PEN Center USA Award in poetry, Revell has been awarded the Gertrude Stein Award, the Shestack Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. Presently, he is a Professor of English at the University of Utah and Poetry Editor of the Colorado Review.
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Jon Carroll today -


Friday, April 21, 2006

Here's something we all learned in the schoolyard: If you're the guy who says, "I'm the decider," you're not the decider. Deciders just decide. It's like the guy who says, "I'm the boss around here" -- he protests too much. Bosses just boss. If you have to say it, you're already in trouble.

The Bush administration used to understand that. (I almost typed "George W. Bush used to understand that," but then I realized there is not enough evidence to support that. Who runs the Bush administration? I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I do know that George W. Bush is way down on the list of probable candidates.) The Bush administration embraced the arrogance of power with gusto. Its motto was "Never complain, never explain," which morphed into "Never explain, frequently complain," which morphed into "Always complain, pretend to explain."

"I'm the decider" is not an explanation. It may not even be a statement of fact.

It used to be that there was only one constituency George W. Bush did not ignore: the religious right. His dad got in trouble by ignoring "the base," as it's often called, and it was just not going to be like father, like son. No one was going to out-Jesus the president, and no one has. But suddenly he has to pay attention to another constituency: congressional Republicans. They're worried about losing their majority in the House. They're worried about the folks back home. They're worried about the down-ticket Republicans, the state candidates who may feel the heat, who may experience the wrath.

They're all fine when commie pinko lefty atheists attack the Bush administration; commie pinko lefty atheists are fun to run against. Thanks to the Karl Rove ad hominem playbook, Republican pols are able to paint people in the opposition as traitors and cowards and socialists.

What happened to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson is just the most public example; the Rove machine has been leaking lies about opponents forever. Ah, the greatest hits: John McCain has an illegitimate black child. Max Cleland wasn't really a war hero. Anthony Zinni is an embittered careerist.

But now, alas, it's a bunch of officers who served in Iraq saying the plan for the war was flawed from the get-go, and the flaws were never corrected because Donald Rumsfeld never listens to anything except the voices inside his own head. Hard to say they're not patriotic. Hard to say they're not in possession of the facts. Not that the Rove machine didn't try: The dissenting officers were just chewing sour grapes; they're mad that their pet programs were not authorized; they're mad because their branch of the service was passed over.

This line of slander is not flying, and everyone knows it's not flying. But Rumsfeld has been loyal (except, thinking long-term here, that leading your commander in chief into an unwinnable war is hardly the highest form of loyalty), and George Bush rewards loyalty. He says he reads the front pages -- according to reliable reports, he does not actually read the front pages, but let's call it a metaphor -- and he knows what people are saying, and he's the decider: Rumsfeld stays.

Meanwhile, the administration has spent a week putting out the fire-Rumsfeld fires, almost as though it had nothing else to do. This administration used to understand how to control the news cycle, but it can't do that anymore. It has to play the chat show game. Last week, it sent representatives scurrying to dismiss reports that it planned to bomb Iran as "wild speculation" -- not untrue, mind you, just not proved. This week it's devoting its resources to protecting Donald Rumsfeld.

This would all be gratifying in a "see Spot run scared" sort of way, were it not for the reality on the ground, the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, the obstructionism in the United Nations, the poisoned waters and the hungry children and the despairing immigrants, all put on hold by George "The Decider" Bush.

Not that the Bush administration is without power -- it is still much feared in Washington and elsewhere. As you read the news stories, see how many people ask to be quoted anonymously "for fear of retaliation." One Associated Press story last week quoted two Republican members of the House of Representatives who sought anonymity in exchange for candor. Presumably, they have home districts and political supporters and their own long-cultivated bases, but the big Bush whirlwind can come and knock them down anyway, and they know it. It's a cowardly form of dissent, but at least it's starting to happen. Who knows -- maybe even Democrats will join the chorus.