Overdue notes

As has been noted elsewhere, my good friend Pia Savage is now a writer for Psychology Today. Her first piece is here, and it comes with my recommendation. Ms. Savage is welcome to test how much money one must add to that to pay for a cup of coffee.

What's remarkable about Pia's case is that despite having been raised in a family with the means to pay for mental health issues, it was only very recently that she had a diagnosis to go with her problems. A sign of the times, sure, but while medical world has made leaps and bounds in understanding mental health, how have the rest of us been doing? 

This is the point in the post where I make an uncomfortable logical step between someone I love and respect and a deranged madman. Please mind the handrails.

Four years ago I had this to say about the response by some to the classification of  Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho as a victim. Or even, more mildly, as someone who fell through the cracks. These days I don't listen to talk radio even by accident, so I don't know how similar remarks about Jared Loughner have been taken, but I've gotten the general sense that the loudmouth morons haven't been pushing back on the mental illness angle this time around, save with the facile supposition that mental illness is in and of itself an explanation for violence. It pretty evidently isn't.

Clearly we need to do better by our more vulnerable citizens, including the mentally infirm, but unless we're aggressive in dismantling outdated notions and misconceptions regarding mental health, those efforts are in danger of taking the shape of "how can we protect ourselves from the mentally ill" rather than "how can we, as a nation, become more mentally healthy?"

The political climate that many-- myself included--  have claimed made the Tuscon shooting more likely may have a silver lining. The pushback against any sense of responsibility amongst political figures for the potential impact of their political rhetoric has satisfied the Right's need for knee-jerk bloodlust, and in an attempt to cover their own asses, have admitted that we have a mental health problem in this country.

That's a first step.  Pia is now helping us out with the second: understanding that the nature of that problem doesn't solely extend to the lack of support structure for the mentally ill. Our society as a whole needs to change its attitude, and stop treating mental health as the concern for "other" people.

Bravo, Pia..

For tonight:

There have been many guides circulating on the Interwebs suggesting State of the Union drinking game rules.  My construction is rather simple:  Drink once on every fifth applause line,  twice on every use of rhetorical balancers (eg "keep employment high and taxes low"), twice on every metaphorical use of the word "call," and drink thrice if anyone heckles. Rules can be added mid-speech provided that a consensus exists. Each player has ten exemptions, and the last person to run out of them (or run out of coordination or consciousness) wins.

For this speech in particular, drain your cup when Obama says the word "Sputnik"

A note here: When I say "drink," I don't mean, "take a shot." There were over a hundred applause lines last SotU, and I'm inclined to believe that this one will have more. Keep that in mind when altering this framework for your own purposes, and when deciding what it is you're going to fill your cup with.

Also, I hope the Disqus comment boards work for everyone.  It scored over other options, including the default blogger, in that it integrated well with my template, it allows for non-Google registered commenters, and that it didn't charge me to set it up.


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