Friday, June 25, 2010

You don't know what you don't know

I’ve been reading this New York Times series about anosognosia. I’d never heard of it before, but it’s the condition where people have one sort of problem (originally partial paralysis, but it’s been applied to other disorders) and seem to be completely unaware of it. In the case of hemiplegia (or one-sided paralysis), if you ask the patient to pick up an object with the able hand, they do it immediately, but if you ask them to do it with the immobile hand, they’ll come up with all sorts of reasons to not do it – I’m tired; I don’t really want that; I’m busy. The big question is whether they are really not aware of their disability, or if they are trying to hide it somehow. Consciously or not, they will say anything to maintain the illusion that they are perfectly whole, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Wow. So interesting for so many reasons.

One is the amazing Schrodinger’s cat of human motivations. There’s almost no way that we can tell if an anosognosic is actually blind to their own disability or not. You can’t prove a fact that only lives inside a person’s head. When an anorexic looks at a skeletal frame and can still tell you how fat they are, are they saying that out of their own stubborn belief, or is their own brain fooling them in to a distorted image? Also, can an entire society have anosognosia? Does this explain why our ocean’s are being paralyzed, yet some people seem to be able to maintain complete ecological denial? (Looking at you Fox News.) And on another note, what about all those ghost stories that say that humans see evidence of the supernatural all the time, but ignore it, or just don't see it, because we can't deal with the fact that all that spooky stuff exists. Ghosts don't scare us, the existence of ghosts scares us. Spooky. But I doubt that's what the author was really getting at.

Needless to say, my brain hurts. But in the good way. Every once in awhile it’s good to jump in and look at something that’s too smart for you and see what you can whack out a little understanding on. And the introductory segment on people who aren’t bright enough to realize they aren’t very bright has got me so paranoid that I can’t see straight. How many things am I being a complete bonehead about and don’t even realize it? Am I really a lousy driver and in denial? Oh, mygod! Am I the idiot?

Anyway, if you’re in the mood for a good brainbuster, I can’t recommend the series highly enough. But eat your Wheaties before you try, it’s a mental triathlon. Or maybe that’s just my bonehead talking. Agh! Paranoid!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ah, Taro Gomi, how wise you are

Okay, this is kinda gross, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway. Doctors are mystified on what’s causing the health benefits of coffee consumption. Is it the antioxidants? Is some other compound?

Uh, guys? I think, at least in the realm of cancer prevention, there’s probably a much simpler answer – coffee is a laxative. And given the fact that most Americans don’t get enough fiber, eat too much meat and cheese, don’t get enough healthy fats or exercise, 2 cups of coffee may be the only thing in their overall diet that stands between them and a blocked colon. One of my life philosophies is that a tidy colon is a happy colon. I’m thinking of embroidering it on a pillow. And if one is keeping things tidy, that would mean that there are fewer toxins floating around one’s intestinal fortitude. Fewer toxins = fewer carcinogens. Ta da! Mystery solved. Where’s my grant money?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If luuuuvin' you is wroooownnnng, I don't wanna be right

Stretch. Velveteen. Overalls. Yes, I'm serious. Here's proof -,526&GEN1=Outlet+Sale&T1=N4933+GR+XL&dispRow=0&srccode=NE15184). Holy cats. What's not to love? So wrong it's right. I'm tempted to buy them just in case I ever again receive a party invitation that requests the WTF of all dress codes: "dressy casual attire." I mean, what says "dressy casual" more than velveteen overalls? It's what the well-dressed woman wears to any semi-formal farm occasions.

My heart beats in iambic pentameter

On Sunday I went to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Trinity Shakespeare festival. Much Ado is one of my favorites from Shakespeare. It really is a pull out all the stops show: take a bit of Romeo and Juliet, add a dash of Othello, a touch of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, a shake of Twelfth Night and a good size dollop of Taming of the Shrew and you have Much Ado. The show with everything (but Yul Brynner). Not that I would run to see any production. That’s a lot of dashes and shakes, and it frequently ends up a hash, rather than the tangy confection it should be. But this got a really good review, and last year’s Twelfth Night over at Trinity was quite fun. So we made the slog to Fort Worth.

So worth it. There’s a moment with live theater, when it’s really good, where you have a moment of heartbreak – this is so good, and I will never see it quite like this again. The good kind of sad, that makes your eyes cling to every moment. And my hear cracked in two during Beatrice and Benedick’s first verbal sparring match. She was quite perfect – smarter than she is pretty, but still quite pretty. Beatrice should be poised on the point of a social knife – smart enough to realize that if she was less smart she’d be more socially acceptable. And she should be a little pissed off about it. Benedick was less cast to type. He looked less like the happy playboy bee more than happy to pollinate any accommodating flower than like the happy soccer dad more than happy to run to the Home Depot for a bucket of primer. But. He starts talking and all that falls away, and damned if he was a very romantic leading man. He’s that good.

There wasn’t anyone in the cast who wouldn’t have been welcome in any Shakespeare production. They all actually were able to say the lines like they were just people talking, not translating from another language. The funny bits were really funny. The sad bits were really sad. And if I’d had popcorn, I’d have thrown it at the villain. What a Nasty McBaddy!

The sets was a delicious Italian villa. The costumes were all from the same early Regency period (it makes me frantic when they try to fob off costumes that are half Renaissance and half Medieval, or half Regency, a quarter Victorian and a quarter early Barbara Cartland novel cover – some people in the audience will know the difference, thank you). It was all quite lovely. And I’ll never see it again. Sigh.

TIME: Quotes of the Day