Category Archives: Mental Health

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Friday


“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” — Johannes Kepler



Happy birthday to good old Johnny Kepler, who would have been 441 years old today.

Befitting his Teutonic heritage, Kepler was the guy who essentially ordered the universe. It was his work in determining his eponymous laws of planetary motion that led to Isaac Newton’s great universal gravity breakthrough some 40 years after the German’s death.

Kepler's Laws/Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Astronomy

Too bad a brainiac like K. couldn’t have been around in today’s world. I bet he’d have been happy to tweak his verbiage a tad, perhaps including a single intelligent woman in his short list of preferred critics.

Kepler penned his own epitaph, engraved in stone at his burial spot in a churchyard in Regensburg, Bavaria. Here it is:

“Mensus eram cœlos, nunc terrae metior umbras

Mens cœlestis erat, corporis umbra iacet.”

(“I measured the skies, now the shadows I measure

Skybound was the mind, earthbound the body rests.”)

[ED: h/t to Astrid Weltz Laimins of Tampa, Florida for the heads up.]


Sticking with science, Mental Floss offers us 5 pieces of evidence we — Homo Sapiens sapiens — are still evolving. Here they are:

  1. We Drink Milk
  2. We’re Losing Our Wisdom Teeth
  3. We’re Resisting Diseases
  4. Our Brains Are Shrinking
  5. We Have Blue Eyes

Homo Habilis

Auntie Amma

Click on the link for details.

Then ask yourself why we still have to argue this point in 21st Century America.


Only three days left in this  momentous year, 2012, and I’m proud to say I still haven’t seen the viral Gangnam Style vid.

Here’s another vid I haven’t seen: The Grumpy Cat (Tartar Sauce).

BTW: I still haven’t figured out that Ermahgerd chick. I ask you, who on this Earth ever talked like that?

Intentionally avoiding all these memes and rages is now an honor thing with me.


Have you seen this chart yet?


If this graphic is accurate, what happened between the Aurora bloodbath and the Sandy Hook killfest that made us start taking these things seriously?


The author of the bestselling “A Universe from Nothing: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing,” Lawrence M. Krauss, penned a heartfelt think piece for the other day, in which he wonders why everybody and his brother is telling us we have to lean on god as we grieve for the Sandy Hook kids.

Obama at Newtown Memorial Service

The Prez Tells Us Our BFF, God, Will Get Us Through This

Krauss is a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University and a noted atheist. He’s one of the hottest popular science writers around these days.

“Why,” he writes, “must it be a natural expectation that any such national tragedy will be accompanied by prayers, including from the president, to at least one version of the very god, who apparently in his infinite wisdom, decided to call 20 children between the age of 6 and 7 home by having them slaughtered by a deranged gunman in a school…?”

He wonders why TV news shows in times like these have to call out the clergy to tell us that “they have something special or caring to offer.”

Lawrence M. Krauss


Some talking-head clerics and politician-talk show hosts have even claimed that the agnostics and atheists among us lack the ability to fully grieve, sympathize, and even process these travesties. Krauss calls this kind of thinking “offensive” and “nonsense.”

I, natch, am with Krauss on this one. All these preachers, rabbis, and imams are telling us Sandy Hook was “god’s will” and then turning around and saying non-believers lack a moral foundation.

Are you kidding me? We’re not the one’s worshipping a god that decides to let massacres happen — you are!

GUN CRAZY, PART 1,624,583….

Gary, Indiana’s finest political writer, Monroe Anderson, has written an excruciatingly personal account of the dangers of the mentally ill toting guns around.


Monroe Anderson

Do yourself a favor and read it. If the piece doesn’t elevate your pulse and respirations, you’re probably dead already.

What he doesn’t say is that when it comes to guns in this holy land, we’re all pretty much mentally ill.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Wednes II


“Raised by two mothers? Wow. Most of us barely survive one.” — Woody Allen



Our town’s international gumshoe reporter, Doug Wissing, is gearing up for a second trip to the wilds of Afghanistan.

C-SPAN Image

Wissing on C-SPAN

Wissing, a noted freelance investigative journalist, has a hot item on the Book Corner‘s shelves these days, entitled “Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban.” During his first foray into the Afghan theater of war and corruption, Wissing learned that much of America’s dough wends its way through a maze of unsavory characters and entities into the hands of the very people we are shooting at.

Now he’s headed back to Southwest Asia. He’ll catch a flight in that direction on New Year’s Eve night. Wissing tells The Pencil he’ll stay in Afghanistan for a month or six weeks, with an eye on writing a second book on the 12-year-old conflict.

BBC Photo

Afghanistan (image from the BBC)

“I’m interested in seeing how the end game is turning out,” he says. He wants to get back in touch with American soldiers, many of whom hipped him to the cat’s cradle that includes venal US officials, greedy private corporations, Afghan kleptocrats, and the Taliban.

The new project will be Wissing’s seventh tome.

The Pencil advised him to stay out of trouble in those dangerous environs. Wissing replied, “That’s what I go there for.”


So, now Liza Long is taking heat for her viral “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” blog post.

Image from Blue Review

Liza Long’s “Crazy” Kid

In the immediate wake of Friday’s mass assassination of schoolkids and teachers in Connecticut, Long’s essay on raising a child whom she diagnoses as, well, crazed struck a chord. According to early sources, the Sandy Hook shooter also had psychiatric problems as a child. Ergo, Long’s post was originally viewed as a plea for help from a Mom who feared her kid might one day take up assault weapons against seven-year-olds.

Long was characterized as a trail-blazer, courageous in her everyday life as well as her willingness to reveal the most embarrassing details about her troubled son.

Image from NBC News


The more we’re exposed to revelations like this, the thinking went, the easier it might be to prevent the next Sandy Hook.

But blowback is inevitable in our info-tainment culture. Another blogger posted that maybe — just maybe — Long’s heartfelt tale of life with a disturbed kid isn’t all it was first cracked up to be.

Anthropologist and communications scholar Sarah Kendzior, who earned an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University, wrote that an in-depth reading of Long’s blog revealed a “series of vindictive and cruel posts about her children in which she fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away.”

Funny thing is, most of the mommies and daddy-os I know have expressed similarly dramatic dark thoughts about their kids despite the fact that none of them would go so far as to describe their little angels as clinically deranged.

In fact, Kendzior herself writes, “In most of her posts, her allegedly insane  and violent son is portrayed as a normal boy who incited her wrath by being messy, buying too many Apple products and supporting Obama.”

Fairey Poster

If Your Kid Has This Poster, Institutionalize Him

Still, for at least a few days after Sandy Hook, Liza Long was the poster mom for heroic parents everywhere who’ve brought whacked out kids into the world.

My immediate guess is the name Liza Long will be long-forgotten by the spring.

As for her kid, well, some team of shrinks is going be putting down payments on luxury yachts after he reaches the age of thrice-weekly psychotherapy — even if he’s not certifiably cracked.

Millions in this holy land now know him as that mentally ill kid who’s somehow tied in with the Sandy Hook shooter. Thanks, Mom.

And now, Kendzior and Long have kissed and made up. They issued a joint statement the other day. Kenzior wrote in her blog, “We do not want to be part of a ‘mommy war’….”

The statement reads, in part: “We both agree that privacy for family members, especially children, is important… We love our children and hope you will respect their privacy.”

Natch, the best way to maintain your kids’ privacy is to write about them using a media technology that can be accessed by billions of inhabitants of this weird, weird world.

Personal to Long from a veteran blogger. You don’t have to post your every thought and feeling. Sometimes what you write needs to stay unpublished. Take it from me: Any number of times I’ve clacked out a post that I’ve deemed not ready for the light of day. And often I won’t have a replacement post in me on those particular mornings. Ergo, The Pencil skips a day.

So far, no one’s psyche has been damaged by those missed days.

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