Category Archives: Public Health

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

book cover

I had a hand in breaking all of this. I had to have a hand in fixing it.

When does helping become controlling? When does loving become smothering? When does zeal become interference? How does one do what one knows is best without crossing the line? Civil Townsend, a 23-year-old nurse in the Montgomery Alabama of 1973 has to figure all that out. Working for a federally funded family planning clinic, Civil is one of several nurses responsible for administering Depo-Provera shots to young women patients. The Williams family is her first case. They live in a cabin that is little more than a shack on a farmer’s property, Mace, the father, Mrs Williams, his mother, and two girls, Erica and India. Civil does her job, but after having administered the shots learns that neither eleven-year-old India nor thirteen-year-old Erika has had her first period. In fact, neither of the girls has even kissed a boy yet. So why are they receiving birth-control shots? She learns as well that there are questions about the safety of the shots, which had been found to cause cancer in test animals. She starts looking into what might be done about this.

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Dolen Perkins-Valdez – image from American University

Civil has the hard-charging enthusiasm of a rookie, eager to do all in her power to help those in need. Her background is nothing like that of her patients. Her father is a doctor, and her mother an artist. They raised her to do good, even named her for their aspirations of achieving civil rights for black people.

Civil learns how hard it is to go up against authority
She is complicated. She does not always do the right thing. She stumbles in her zeal.
– from the Politics and Prose interview

Civil does everything she can to help the family, gets them some public services, a decent place to live, schooling. And she has an impact, but, on a day when Civil is not working, the head nurse at the clinic tricks the family into signing papers agreeing to the girls’ sterilization. Civil’s alarm turns to rage, and then to fighting for change, so this outrage can never happen again to other unsuspecting girls and young women.

It is 1973, only a year since the infamous, forty-years-long Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was finally shut down. In that one, hundreds of black men were supposedly being treated for syphilis, but in fact no one was being treated. Of the four hundred who were diagnosed with the disease, one hundred died of syphilis directly or complications from the disease. Dozens of wives were infected, and children were born already afflicted. All this, to see how syphilis ran its course in the untreated.

Civil’s activity gets a lawsuit started locally. But soon a young civil rights lawyer, Lou Feldman, is brought in. He transforms it into a national cause célèbre, as the case shifts from looking at the individual harm done to the Williams family to the national disgrace of the forced sterilization of tens thousands.

Our research reveals that over the past few years, nearly one hundred fifty thousand low-income women from all over the nation have been sterilized under federally funded programs.

He wants the laws changed, to end this practice. It is a huge concern for the Black community, but the novel makes clear that there were other groups who were victimized by this heinous practice.

The story take place in two, very unequal timelines. The frame is Civil at sixty-seven, a doctor in 2016, returning to Montgomery after a long absence to see the Williams girls. India is dying. This offers us an ongoing where-are-they-now report. The bulk of the novel takes place in 1973 and immediately after.

Civil struggles with her guilt over having played a part in this horror. It is clear that the notions that had supported legislators allowing such things were not entirely unfamiliar. Civil talks with Lou about the history of eugenics.

“So the idea was what . . . to stop us from having children because we were inferior?” I whispered.
“Well, the ideas were often aimed at specific populations that included Black people, yes. But also the poor, the mentally retarded, the disabled, the insane…” Mrs. Seager probably put the girls in three of these misguided categories: poor, Black, and mentally unfit. Had I done the same? I had initially deemed the girls unfit to be mothers, too. Because they were poor and Black. Because they were young. Because they were illiterate. My head spun with shame.
“Did they target poor white folks, too?” Ty asked.
Lou nodded. “Back in 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled that compulsory sterilization of people deemed unfit was constitutional. People in asylums all over this country were sterilized.”

Perkins-Valdez offers a most welcome maturity of perspective. Lou, a young, white lawyer, is viewed with suspicion to begin, but earns the community’s trust with his dedication, brilliance, grueling work habits, and effectiveness. He is lauded as a hero, while Mrs Seager, the head nurse, is shown as a flawed person who, though she was doing something terrible, thought she was doing the right thing. Characters take or avoid difficult decisions for understandable reasons. Even a black Tuskegee librarian whom Civil admires has a hard time understanding how she did not see what was going on right under her nose. There is very little good vs evil going on here in the character portrayals, only in the broader horror of a dark-hearted, racist and classist policy.

One of the many joys of the book is the portrayal of a time and place. There are details that add to the touch and feel.

The first thing that hit me was the odor. Urine. Body funk. Dog. All mixed with the stench of something salty stewing in a pot. A one-room house encased in rotted boards. A single window with a piece of sheet hanging over it. It was dark except for the sun streaming through the screen door and peeking through the holes in the walls. As my eyes adjusted, I saw that there were clothes piled on the bed, as if somebody had stopped by and dumped them. Pots, pans, and shoes lay strewn about on the dirt floor. Flies buzzed and circled the air. Four people lived in one room, and there wasn’t enough space. A lot of people in Montgomery didn’t have running water, but this went beyond that. I had to fight back vomit.

Some are more cultural, like the perceptions middle class black people in Montgomery had of poor black people, and the less fraught parallel football culture in which Alabama vs Auburn, followed by white people, is replaced for the black population with Alabama A&M vs Alabama State. News to me. We also get a taste of the segregation of the time, how bathroom accessibility while on the road could be problematic for those of the wrong skin color, how a beach that used to be open to all, and featured black-owned businesses, now required one to pay a park ranger and display a piece of paper on your car, the businesses now long gone.

The case on which Perkins-Valdez based her novel was a real one, Relf vs Weinberger, filed in July, 1973 in Washington D.C. by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Joseph Levin, one of the Center’s founders, was the young lawyer who prosecuted the case.

Mary Alice was 14 and Minnie was 12 when they became victims of the abusive practice of sterilizing poor, black women in the South. Their mother, who had very little education and was illiterate, signed an “X” on a piece of paper, expecting her daughters, who were both mentally disabled, would be given birth control shots. Instead, the young women were surgically sterilized and robbed of their right to ever bear children of their own. – from the SPLC

The story ultimately is about the horror of forced sterilization on poor black people and other classes deemed unfit to breed. You will learn a lot about a crime against humanity that was perpetrated by our own government, and the story of how this injustice was fought. But if the story does not engage, you may not get the benefit of the new knowledge it delivers. Thankfully, there need be no concern on that score. While we may echo the commentary of others to Civil that she did not bear any responsibility for what was done, that her guilt was helping no one, here is a very full-bodied portrait, of a flawed character. One who makes mistakes. A young person who has not yet learned when to push forward, when to take a step back. We see her learning this and can applaud when she takes steps in the proper direction. We also get to see the difficult family dynamic she must negotiate with her own parents, the burden of expectation that has been fitted to her broad shoulders, and the challenge of loving the Williams family, but not too much. And we have a front row seat to her relationships, her struggles, with friends and colleagues.

Take My Hand is a wonderful addition to the Perkins-Valdez oeuvre, begun with her outstanding 2009 novel, Wench, and followed by Balm in 2015. She has a fourth in the works, due to her publisher in October 2022, set in early 1900s North Carolina. So maybe a 2023 release?

A helping hand is often that, kindly meant, but maybe, sometimes, before you put your hand in another’s, you might want to know where it has been, and where it might be taking you. If the hand is attached to Dolen Perklins-Valdez, grasp it and hold on. It will take you somewhere wonderful.

I had never known that good intentions could be just as destructive as bad ones.

Review posted – April 22, 2022

Publication date – April 12, 2022

I received an ARE of Take my Hand from Berkley in return for a fair review. Thanks to Elisha K., and thanks to NetGalley for facilitating.

This review has been cross-posted on GoodReads

===================================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, FB, Instagram, and Twitter pages

Profile – from Simon & Schuster (mostly) and her site

Dolen Perkins-Valdez, PhD, is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Wench. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Dr. Perkins-Valdez taught in the Stonecoast (Maine) MFA program and lives in Washington, DC, with her family. She is currently Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and is Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University.

Interviews
—–Publishers Weekly – Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s ‘Take My Hand’ Reaches for Hard Truths by Jen Doll

there was something about the Relf sisters she kept coming back to. “The thing that struck me about it was that, even though they’re only really mentioned in passing whenever we talk about this, it was a big deal at the time,” she says. The sisters’ ordeal was heavily covered in the press, and they appeared before a Senate subcommittee led by Sen. Ted Kennedy. “There were so many parts of it, to me, that felt absolutely remarkable. I think some people had heard a little bit about it, but they didn’t know enough. I wanted people to know enough.”

—–Politics and Prose bookstore – Dolen Perkins-Valdez — Take My Hand – in conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray
The sound level is uneven, which often makes it difficult to hear. But if you have a sound system the Q/A kicks in

My review of earlier work by the author
—–2010 – Wench

Songs/Music
—– Booker T. and the M.G.s – Behave Yourself – chapter 14
—–Mahalia Jackson – Precious Lord Take My Hand – the epigraph notes MLK requesting this be played on his final day
—–Stevie Wonder – You Are the Sunshine of My Life – chapter 20

Items of Interest
—–Eunice Rivers – re the Tuskegee syphilis experiment
—–Mayo Clinic – Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera is a well-known brand name for medroxyprogesterone acetate, a contraceptive injection that contains the hormone progestin. Depo-Provera is given as an injection every three months. Depo-Provera typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. It also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

—– Mississippi Appendectomy
—–Southern Poverty Law Center – RELF V. WEINBERGER – the real-world case on which the novel is based
—–Wiki on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

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Filed under American history, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Public Health

Fiddling While America Burns – I Alone Can Fix It – Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker

book cover

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who worked in Lyndon Johnson’s White House and closely studied many presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, said, “I have spent my entire career with presidents and there is nothing like this other than the 1850s, when events led inevitably to the Civil War.

Here’s the deal, guys: These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II,” Milley told them. “Everyone in this room, whether you’re a cop, whether you’re a soldier, we’re going to stop these guys to make sure we have a peaceful transfer of power. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”

I did not intend to write a full review for this one. It came out in July. I did not start reading it until August, and did not finish reading it until late September. That is what happens when I read a book on my phone, in addition to the two I am usually reading, one at my desk and the other at bedtime. But I was going to offer a few thoughts. Typed a line or two and then my fingers started pounding away at the keyboard pretty much all on their own. I astral projected myself to the kitchen to whip up a sandwich, make some tea and when I returned they were still banging away. I am sure there is a lesson in there about compulsion.

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Phil Rucker and Carole Leonnig – image from Porter Square Books

There have been, currently are, and no doubt will continue to be many books written about the Trump years. I Alone Can Fix It tracks the final year of Trump’s presidency, notes that he had faced no major problems until 2020, and then proved incapable of managing the ones that presented, seeking only his own aggrandizement, while clinging to power at all costs.

If you read books of this sort all the time, if you read The Washington Post, The New York Times, or other world newspapers, watch CNN, BBC, MSNBC, and other at-least-somewhat-responsible news sources, much of what is in this book will not be all that surprising. In tracking Trump’s 2020+, I Alone Can Fix It offers inside looks at the actions and discussions, the conflicts and challenges inside the White House, almost day-by-day. Much that is detailed here has been reported before. And a lot of the new material has been outed in leaks to newspapers and TV political shows. Interviews with the authors chip away even more at the new-ness of the material, if you are coming to it any time after its initial week or two of release.

Trump’s rash and retaliatory dismissal of [Acting DNI Joseph] Maguire would compel retired Admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden, to write: “As Americans, we should be frightened—deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security—then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.“

I am betting it is not news to you, for example, that when 1/6 was happening, Liz Cheney screamed at Trump toady Jim Jordan (who, as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University, had participated in a coverup of sexual abuse of wrestlers within the program) “Get away from me. You fucking did this.’” Or that Trump wanted to use the army to put down demonstrations in American cities. Or that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley was concerned that Trump wanted to use the American military to keep himself in office.

Carol Leonnig (National investigative reporter focused on the White House and government accountability) at the Washington Post and Phil Rucker (Washington Post White House Bureau Chief) are top tier political reporters. They sat with many of the principals in the administration, including Trump, and amassed a vast store of materials in pulling this tale together. It is a horror story. In doing so they have unearthed considerable detail that did not make it to the pages of daily reporting. It is a portrayal of Donald Trump as someone who is generally disinterested in the well-being of the nation, concerned only for himself, which comes as a surprise to exactly no one with eyes to see and an ability to reason.

I take issue with the clearly self-serving nature of some of the interviews. Spinners are gonna spin and twirling is the name of the game in Washington politics. Bill Barr, for example, attests to his devotion to the law. How Leonnig and Rucker allowed such tripe into the book is beyond me. This from a guy who routinely politicized the Department of Justice to subvert justice, seek punishment of Trump enemies (otherwise known as truth-tellers) and neglect to trouble those accused and even convicted of crimes. Puh-leez. He also pretends that he was practically dragged from retirement to serve as AG when, in fact he had actively campaigned for the job. Sure wish they would have called him out on that steaming pile of poo.

Esper, Milley, and Barr—were tracking intelligence and social media chatter for any signs of unrest on Election Day. They and their deputies at the Pentagon, Justice Department, and FBI were monitoring the possibility of protests breaking out among supporters on both sides. The trio also were on guard for the possibility that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act in some way to quell protests or to perpetuate his power by somehow intervening in the election. This scenario weighed heavily on Esper and Milley because they controlled the military and had sworn an oath to the Constitution. Their duty was to protect a free and fair election and to prevent the military from being used for political purposes of any kind.

Plenty more seek to burnish their records (the phrase polishing turds pops readily to mind) for history, eager to remove the fecal stench of attachment to the most corrupt administration in American history. I could have done with a bit more of Leonnig and Rucker pointing out for readers where the spinning ends and the truth begins.

One of the heroes of this story is General Milley. Were his actions not confirmed by multiple other sources, one could be forgiven for suspecting that he was polishing his own…um…medals in reporting to Leonnig and Rucker his role in staving off Trump’s desire to use the military to suppress domestic dissent, and in working with other defense leaders, legislative leaders, and foreign military brass to help prevent what could easily have become a shooting war with China. But what he told them checks out. The man deserves even more medals, pre-shined.

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General Mark Milley – image from New York Magazine

One of the things that is most remarkable for its absence in this book is mention of Afghanistan. Really? That deal with the Taliban was not worth including? It makes sense, though. The MSM paid little attention to it when the deal was made, and largely ignored the fact that the actual Afghani government was not a party to the talks. They were more than happy, though, to jump on Biden’s back for implementing the shitty treaty by actually getting our troops out of an endless no-win war. Trump was rarely mentioned, and the awfulness of the deal, THAT TRUMP HAD NEGOTIATED, rarely merited serious coverage. Disappointing that Leonnig and Rucker seem to have skipped over this in their book. It was significant.

It is an avocational hazard for those who consume political news in mass quantities that when there are so many books out about aspects of the same thing, namely the Trump disaster, it can be difficult to impossible to keep track of where particular stories originated. Also, each of the Trump era books is heralded in the press in the weeks leading up to publication with the juiciest bits from the opus du jour. The cacophony of revelations can make it impossible to discern the altos from the tenors from the sopranos from the basses. It all becomes one large chorus. Did I read about that in this book or that one, or that other one? Maybe I heard a piece about it on CNN, or BBC, or MSNBC, or one of the traditional network news shows.

And no sooner does one finish one of these books that there are ten more peeping for attention like baby birds in a nest far outnumbering the worms their poor parents are able to scrounge. Thus, we get by with the news and political talk show interviews and daily early peeks at the books, hoping to be able to read at least enough of these things to get a clear picture.

Like AI learning systems, there is a constant feed of information. At some point (although hopefully one has already achieved such a state) one internalizes the incoming stream, somehow manages to sort and categorize it, finds some sort of understanding and can use the collective intelligence to face new questions, problems, and situations with an informed base of knowledge, and generate a wise, informed decision, or opinion. At the very least we should have a sense of where to look to check out the latest claims and revelations.

“A student of history, Milley saw Trump as the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose. He described to aides that he kept having this stomach-churning feeling that some of the worrisome early stages of twentieth-century fascism in Germany were replaying in twenty-first-century America. He saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides. “The gospel of the Führer.”

To that end, the Leonnig and Rucker book is a welcome addition to the ongoing info-flow. We live in dangerous times, and they offer some of the nitty gritty of how the sausage is made, how the perils are generated, and sometimes averted, who the players are and how they acted in moments of crisis.

In the long run it probably does not matter if you heard the relevant information in this book, in a Woodward book (I am currently reading Peril) or in one or more of the gazillion others that have emerged in the last few years. What matters is that we get the information, that it is brought to us by honest, intelligent, expert reporters and/or participants, and that it is presented in a readable, digestible form. Leonnig and Rucker are both Pulitzer winners. Keep your eyes out for any irregularities, of course, but these two are reliable, trustworthy sources. Add their work to your data feed and keep the info flowing. We need all the good intel we can get to counteract the 24/7/365 Republican lie machine and to face down the next coup attempt. Knowledge is power. Acquire it. Learn from it. Remember it. Use it.

Review posted – 12/3/2021

Publication date – 7/20/21

This review has been cross-posted on Goodreads.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the Carol Leonnig’s WaPo profile and Twitter pages

Links to Phil Rucker’s Instagram, WaPo profile, and Twitter pages

Interviews
—–Face the Nation – “I Alone Can Fix It” authors say former president learned he was “untouchable” from first impeachment – video – 07:46
—–The Guardian – Inside Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by David Smith
—–Commonwealth Club – Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker: Inside Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Yamiche Alcindor – video – 57:01
—–NPR – Fresh Air – Investigation finds federal agencies dismissed threats ahead of the Jan. 6 attack – audio – 42:00 – by Terry Gross – more about Leonnig’s book Zero Fail but worth a listen

Items of Interest
—–NY Times – Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol– By Dmitriy Khavin, Haley Willis, Evan Hill, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan, Cora Engelbrecht, Christiaan Triebert, Stella Cooper, Malachy Browne and David Botti
—–Washington Post – The Attack: Before, During and After – Reported by Devlin Barrett, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Peter Hermann, Spencer S. Hsu, Paul Kane, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. — Written by Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman — Visuals and design by Phoebe Connelly, Natalia Jiménez-Stuard, Tyler Remmel and Madison Walls

Items of Interest from the authors
—–Washington Post – list of recent articles
—–Washington Post – list of recent articles

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Filed under American history, Bio/Autobio/Memoir, biography, History, Non-fiction, Public Health, True crime

This Chair Rocks by Ashton Applewhite

book cover
I have had a life. I married twice, was in the room when two of my three entered the world. I helped them grow through infancy and childhood into beautiful, talented, bright and loving adults. I have lost both parents three sisters, and in-laws as well.

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who are older and those would like to be. Ashton Applewhite’s book, This Chair Rocks, shines a bright light on a labeling system that affects everyone on earth. Whether we are called addled, senior citizens, golden agers, coots, old farts, old fucks, old bitches or a host of other derogatories, we are separated from the rest of humanity when such labels are applied, separated from the presumed (younger) norm. We become outsiders. Just as black athlete is somehow a separate species, a woman president is presumed to be less capable, and an Islamic terrorist more unspeakable than a garden-variety terrorist, we can be cast into the soylent sphere by labels. And such casting harms not only those being tossed but those doing the tossing.

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Ashton Applewhite – from Seniorplanet.org

I have had a life. I cheered for Mets and Jets since their birth, and wept more times than not. I played on championship teams in my youth and led youth teams as an adult to both glory and painful defeat. I have hit for the cycle and swung and missed.

Applewhite covers a wide array of subjects while considering things like how ageist attitudes legitimize maltreatment of olders, the impact of internalizing false notions of aging, and how the world pathologizes getting on in years. She looks at the language of ageism, the realities of aging and mental acuity (there are some surprises there), and how this impacts health care, physical and mental. She looks at the stigmatization of disability, at sexuality for olders, retirement and self-esteem.

I have had a life. In the 1950s, I watched a black and white from our living room floor, saw it change color, go big, go flat, go small, go cabled, go tubeless and go wireless. I listened to radio dramas on our kitchen radio, saw the arrival of transistors, and now hear bedtime podcasts on a charging iPad. I saw phones go from rotary to digital and watched them cede their wires to the past, and even go all Dick Tracy. I saw as much 50s sci-fi as I could, saw 2001 when it was new, and still in the future, and Star Wars and Star Trek from the Start.

Applewhite goes into considerable detail in showing how the bias towards older people (she uses the term olders, so I am going with that here) that pervades this and many other societies, is based largely on falsehoods, and causes real harm,

Condescension actually shortens lives. What professionals call “elderspeak”—the belittling “sweeties” and “dearies” that people use to address older people—does more than rankle. It reinforces stereotypes of incapacity and incompetence, which leads to poorer health, including shorter lifespans. People with positive perceptions of aging actually live longer–a whopping 7.5 years longer on average—in large part because they’re motivated to take better care of themselves.

She includes several sections titled PUSH BACK, in which she offers suggestions for actions we can take to resist ageism when we encounter it, and things we can do to keep ourselves healthy.

I have had a life. After my world was thrown into turmoil I was fortunate enough, to my great surprise, to find deep love to last the rest of my life.

Lengthening lifetimes is one of the ways we measure human progress, and by that measure, we have done quite nicely. We live ten years longer than our grandparents. In the USA, in the 20th century, life spans increased a jaw-dropping 30 years. But our culture has not yet caught up with the facts. There are many things in here that will surprise you. Applewhite has separated the bull from the…um…poo, and pointed out many of the inaccuracies in what passes for common wisdom.

We reinforce the association with constant nervous reference to forgetfulness and “senior moments.” I used to think those quips were self-deprecatingly cute, until it dawned on me that when I lost the car keys in high school, I didn’t call it a “junior moment.” Any prophecy about debility, whether or not it comes true, dampens our aspirations and damages our sense of self—especially when it comes to brain power. The damage is magnified by the glum and widespread assumption that, somewhere down the line, dementia is inevitable.

I have had a life, but sometimes it is difficult to remember all of it. Of course this is not because of my age, in particular. I began keeping a diary when I was 15 because I could not remember all the New Year’s Eves of my short existence. I recently mislaid my glasses, and was never able to find them. But then, when I was ten years old, I lost my treasured baseball glove. I never found that either. Some traits seem to follow us through the years, however many there may be.

Applewhite points out that there are plenty of ways for labeled groups to move forward together. Social Security is in no danger of going bankrupt or of devastating the nation’s economy. It can be sustained by marginally increasing the range of salary that is subject to Social Security tax. Medicare could fare a lot better if the rules that forbade it from exercising its market power were relaxed. Really, Medicare is not even allowed to try to get the best prices from drug manufacturers? Whose interests are served by that particular form of insanity?

I have had a life. I’ve been Everly’d, Diddly’d, and Valens’d, and Darin’d. Been Elvis’d and Berry’d, and Buddy’d, and Ray’d. I sat in the mud with the hundreds of thousands, alone in the mass as the heavenly played. Near the stage at the Bitter End for Ronstadt and others, and loudly at Max’s KC for the Dolls. There just was so much music, I caught a few notes, but wished there was some way to go hear it all. I’ve been 4-Seasoned, 4-Topped, Beach Boy’d, Supremed. Been ELP’d at Wembley, and at the Garden, I got Creamed. Saw Towshend at the Round House, stood for Tina at the beach. Saw Zeppelin rock in Flushing. And I wish that each and every band I’ve seen up close could keep on playing. Some are gone, but I’m just saying. I’ve been Peter, Paul and Mary’d. I’ve been Dylan’d and been Seeger’d, and seen a stage or two where all the players looked beleaguered. I’ve been Yessed, and been Pink Floyded. I been Bowied and been Banded. I’ve been Beatled, Stoned and Dave Clark Fived, and I’ve been hotly Canneded. I dared to breathe at the Filmore East when the ever Grateful Dead made it seem that life and youth were qualities that we would never shed. I’ve been Ike’d and I’ve been Nixoned, JFK’d and LBJ’d. I’ve been Reaganed, Bushed and Bushed again, and I’ve been MLK’d. I’ve been Cartered and been Clintoned, been Obama’d. Fate decreed that by the time you see this we will all be DJT’d.

Applewhite looks at many of the canards that prevail, like olders taking jobs from youngers, the old benefiting at the expense of the young, the relative flow of resources, the inevitability of cognitive decline. As for the senior boom, that we have so many more older people than we once did should be seen as a benefit not a problem. Older people have experience that can and should be employed to help solve old, new, and ongoing societal problems. Not all old people are wise, any more than all younger people are energetic, but we have a considerable base of been-there-done-that from which to draw. Enough of us have valuable and relevant experience and skills that could be put to good use.

Especially in the emotional realm, older brains are more resilient. As we turn eighty, brain imaging shows frontal lobe changes that improve our ability to deal with negative emotions like anger, envy, and fear. Olders experience less social anxiety, and fewer social phobias. Even as its discrete processing skills degrade, the normal aging brain enables greater emotional maturity, adaptability to change, and levels of well-being.

I have had a life. I’ve gone to college and grad school. I have studied abroad, and had a broad or two study me. (sorry). Been hired, laid off, fired, went back to school and started over, back at the bottom. Then was laid off again. I have toiled in several lines of work over the decades. Drove a cab, went postal, was a planner of health systems and a systems analyst for employers large and small, a guard and a dispatcher, and a few things beside. In 2001, I was laid off from my job as a systems analyst, after spending thirteen years at the firm, and over twenty in the field. I was not only never able to get another job in my chosen profession, I was never able to get an interview. It’s not like I was God’s gift to computer programming. But I was certainly competent enough to have been kept on by one of the largest financial institutions on the planet for over a decade. It’s not that I was priced out. I would have accepted pretty much anything. I was essentially kicked out of my field because of my age. AT 47!!!! All that experience not put to use by some business because they could not see past the age label. What a waste.

We all know, or should know, that Republicans are particularly gifted at the old game of divide and conquer. It worked great in the UK recently, when right wing-xenophobes persuaded working people, yet again, to vote against their own interests by stoking fear of the other. It has worked pretty well in the USA too. It is what’s the matter with Kansas, and has a long and shameful history here. Faced with electing people who would work to bolster union rights and voting for people who promise to keep those damned immigrants and minorities in their place, far too many working people seem more than ready to vote to enslave themselves further. We are as addicted to labels as the residents of a crack house are to their pipe. Fear-mongering is being used today for the same purpose it has always served, as a way to gain working and middle class support for policies that are anti labor, policies that pad the wallets of the already rich. Bush the junior tried his best to persuade the nation that privatizing Social Security would prevent the elderly from taking unfair advantage of the young. Labels are used as a way of manipulating people. They can do real damage, even if they sometimes fail to accomplish their mission.

I have had a life. I saw Rocky in the West End before it crossed the pond and Sweeney Todd and Lovett’s first repast. Sondheim’s a god. Saw Shakespeare in the park, Hair, and Oh, Calcutta, Cats, Les Miz, The Phantom, Cabaret, and more, but really that’s not nearly enough, off Broadway or on. Saw my kids in all their school shows, and survived some of my own.

Homo sap is a species that revels in labels. Us/them, Commie/Nazi, Winner/Loser, Black/White, the more dichotomous the better. And we seem to have more of the negative sort than the positive. Labeling offers shorthand, a macro reference, one word, maybe two, that allows us to redirect our brains away from the difficult and energy consuming task of considering and examining whole lives, freeing them up for the more satisfying activity of indulging our desires and impulses. How many are doomed to invisibility beneath labels? We are labeled because it makes things easier, and we are a species that values simplicity.

I have had a life. I walked London streets in almost Victorian twilight as the energy crisis dimmed English streetlamps. I hitchhiked in the USA, in Britain and the continent. Saw sunset from Ullapool, played guitar and sang in a club in Copenhagen, had the best breakfast of my life in Rotterdam, saw the most beautiful city ever, in Paris, twice. I lived a while in Saint John’s Wood. I have seen a fair portion of North America and visited a decent sample of Europe. I have taken photographs of an active volcano from a helicopter with no doors. I have seen some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. I’ve been to Coney Island, Hershey Park, and Disney World and Land, and Freedomland, Six Flags and Universal, Palisades and Rye and a World’s Fair or two that raised my spirit high. Seen the sights that one can see in NY, Boston, and DC. There is so much history, in Philly, Baltimore and Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, as much to learn as you could ever want.

There are many who, if they spotted me sitting or standing in a subway car, or walking down the street would see the color of my hair, note its retreat from my forehead, spot the lines that brace my eyes, and the forward tilt of my spine and see one thing only, age. All the rest would remain forever hidden beneath the large sticky-backed label that fits so nicely over another human being.

I have had a life. My hair has been military short and long enough for a real pony. I have smoked and toked, popped and snorted, but stopped before I self-aborted. I am tall, although not as tall as I once was. I am a little bit fat and my body has less speed and strength than it once possessed. Maybe the additional mass is because I am a storehouse of the history of my time, a sculptor of my experience into an image of my era. I have read thousands of books, tens of thousands of newspapers and magazines, and untold on-line articles. I have participated in a vast number of discussions, attended god-knows-how-many lectures, and watched a gazillion hours of documentary and news on TV. I know a thing or two.

I have had a life. I have been mugged, been in fistfights, and suffered a near catastrophic injury in an industrial accident. I have protested war and inhumanity and been struck with billy clubs for daring to speak. I have seen a thug slam a boy’s head into a brick wall.

There is a wealth of information in this relatively short volume. The chapters are divided up into many short sub-sections, so you can take it in a bit at a time if you like. I found some of the sections repetitive, and found one famous quote misattributed (it was from Anatole France, not Voltaire). There is a significant shortage of humor here, but, then, this is not a particularly funny subject. It is rich with surprising facts, which is one of its great strengths. For example, older people suffer from depression less than younger people.

I have had a life. I was chilled by Sputnik’s beep, and was warmed as I watched, along with all humanity, an ageless dream realized with a single step. I have seen my city burn, flood, and go dark. I stood in the wind-blown unspeakable snow when my city was ravaged, and saw a new tower sprout on the memory of the lost.

I have read quite a lot in my time, and it was inevitable that some of the material here would be old news, but I still found many new things to be learned in This Chair Rocks. I found, also, that Applewhite’s manifesto caused me to reconsider some attitudes and behaviors that I had thoughtlessly indulged. Consciousness raised. Check. It will make you more aware, too, of many things you had not noticed before. I cannot thank Ashton Applewhite enough for writing This Chair Rocks. It most certainly does.

I have had a life. It is diverse and rich with experience, memory, history and emotion. But listen up. I am STILL having a life and intend to for as long as I possibly can. Do not dismiss me because of my white hair. My white hair dazzles in bright light. Do not dismiss me because of my wrinkles. They are the evidence of a lifetime of laughter. Do not dismiss me because I am slightly bent. I can and will straighten up if I need to throw a punch or block a blow. I am a smarter person than I have ever been. I am a more knowledgeable person than I have ever been. I am probably a wiser person than I have ever been. I am a better writer, photographer, and I would say a better person than I have ever been. I have loved and I have hated, and wept until the tears abated. Jimi Hendrix said “I’ll die when it’s my time to die.” I will certainly do that. I may not be wealthy; I may not be important, I may not be particularly athletic; I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed; and I may not be beautiful. But I am somebody, and I have worth. I may be older but I will be here a while yet and I have plenty to offer, a lot left to experience, and a lot still to accomplish. I realize that I may not have had the best of all possible lives. There is much I have not done, much I have not seen, much I have not experienced. But I do not need an angel named Clarence to tell me that it’s been a wonderful life. I may or may not be having the time of my life, but I have definitely had a life of my times. Do not bury me under a label. Do not make me invisible behind a number. I’m still here, much more in store. I am older. Watch me SOAR!!!!

Now get the hell off my lawn, you goddam kids, before I call the cops.

Review First Posted – July 29, 2016

Published – May 23, 2016

Applewhite sent me the book in return for an honest review.

=======================================EXTRA STUFF

Rather than add in a bunch of links here, I suggest you check out Ashton’s site. There are links aplenty there.

Applewhite got her start in an unusual way, writing joke books. Not just any joke books. She wrote Truly Tasteless Jokes One, as Blanche Knott (my kinda woman), had four of these things on the NY Times best seller list at once. But she began writing with a bit more seriousness. In 1997 her book Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well , landed her on Phyliss Schlafly’s shit list, a signal achievement for anyone with a brain and a heart. In October, 2016 she is delivering the keynote address at the UN for the 36th International Day of Older Persons. No joke.

Items of Interest from the author
—–9/3/16 – Applewhite has a strong piece in the NY Times, on age discrimination – You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch

Items of Interest
—–NY Times – 7/12/2016 – A pretty interesting piece by Winnie Hu – Too Old for Sex? Not at This Nursing Home
—–NY Times – 9/29/2016 – Who’s Really Older, Trump or Clinton? by Gail Collins
—–NY Times Sunday Review – 4/7/2017 – To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old by Pagan Kenned
—–NY Times – 7/24/2017 – Another Possible Indignity of Age: Arrest by Paula Span
—–Scientific American – Why Does Time Fly as We Get Older? by Jordan Gaines Lewis
—–NY Times – 12/16/2017 – Are You Old? Infirm? Then Kindly Disappear by Frank Bruni – Definitely worth a look
—–NY Times – 12/21/2017 – Facebook Job Ads Raise Concerns About Age Discrimination – by Julis Angwin, Noam Scheiber and Ariana Tobindec
—–AARP Bulletin – December 2017 – Age Discrimination Goes Online – by Kenneth Terrell –

As more jobs are advertised and applied for online, evidence is mounting that it is easier to discriminate against older workers.

Definitely worth checking out.
—–NY Times – 6/22/2018 – NY Times – The Snake Oil of the Second-Act Industry – by Alissa Quart – on how unscrupulous private colleges are taking advantage of those looking to reboot their careers
—–NY Times – 3/11/2019 – The Fight to Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor – by Steve Cavendish
—–NY Times – 1/3/2020 –Older People Need Geriatricians. Where Will They Come From? by Paula Span
—–NY Times – 1/11/2020 – Everyone Knows Memory Fails as You Age. But Everyone Is Wrong. by Daniel J. Levitin (a neuroscientist)
—–NY Times – 2/12/2022 – Making ‘Dinobabies’ Extinct: IBM’s Push for a Younger Work Force by Noam Schreiber – IBM caught in their documents soylenting their seniors’ careers

Songs
—–I’m Still Here – Elaine Stritch from Sondheim’s Follies
—– When I was 17
—– Running on Empty
—– When I’m 64 – (a cover)
—–We Didn’t Start the Fire
—–Everything old is new again – from All That Jazz

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Filed under Activism, Non-fiction, Psychology and the Brain, Public Health, Public policy, Reviews

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

book cover

There are many words a woman in love longs to hear. “I’ll love you forever, darling,” and “Will it be a diamond this year?” are two fine examples. But young lovers take note: above all else, the phrase every girl truly wants to hear is, “Hi, this is Amy from Science Support; I’m dropping off some heads.”

You have all seen The Producers, right? The version with Zero or Nathan, in the cinema, on TV, on the stage, whatever. Those of you who have not…well…tsk, tsk, tsk, for shame, for shame. Well, there is one scene that pops to mind apropos this book. In the film, the producers of the title have put together a show that is designed to fail. The surprise is on them, though, when their engineered disaster turns out to be a hit. During intermission of the opening performance, to Max and Leo’s absolute horror, they overhear a man saying to his wife, “Honey, I never in a million years thought I’d ever love a show called Springtime For Hitler. One might be forgiven for having similar thoughts about Caitlin Doughty’s sparkling romp through the joys of mortuary science, Smoke Gets in your Eyes. If you were expecting a lifeless look at what most of us consider a dark subject, well, surprise, surprise.

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Yes we are, and dead-ender Caitlin is happy to help with the cleanup

Caitlin Doughty has cooked up a book that is part memoir, part guidebook through the world of what lies beyond, well, the earth-bound part, at least, and part advocacy for new ways of dealing with our remains. Doughty, a Hawaiian native, is a 6-foot Amazon pixie, bubbling over (like some of her clients?) with enthusiasm for the work of seeing people off on their final journey. Her glee is infectious, in a good way. The bulk of the tale is based on her experience working at WestWind Cremation and Burial in Oakland, California, her first gig in the field. She was 23, had had a fascination with death since she was a kid and this seemed a perfectly reasonable place in which to begin what she believed would be her career. Turned out she was right.

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Caitlin Doughty from her site

Smoke Gets in your Eyes is rich with information not only about contemporary mortuary practices, but on practices in other cultures and on how death was handled in the past. For example, embalming did not come into use in the USA until the Civil War, when the delay in getting the recently deceased from battlefield to home in a non-putrid form presented considerable difficulties. She also looks at the practice of seeing people off at home as opposed to institutional settings. There is a rich lode of intel in here about the origin of church and churchyard burials. I imagine churchgoers of the eras when such practices were still fresh might have been praying for a good stiff wind.

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No Kibby, no smoke monsters here

Doughty worked primarily in the cremation end of the biz, and offers many juicy details about this increasingly popular exit strategy. But mixing the factual material with her personal experience turns the burners up a notch.

The first time I peeked in on a cremating body felt outrageously transgressive, even though it was required by Westwind’s protocol. No matter how many heavy-metal album covers you’ve seen, how many Hieronymous Bosch prints of the tortures of Hell, or even the scene in Indiana Jones where the Nazi’s face melts off, you cannot be prepared to view a body being cremated. Seeing a flaming human skull is intense beyond your wildest flights of imagination.

Beyond her paying gig, Doughty has, for some time, been undertaking to run a blog on mortuary practice, The Order of the Good Death, with a focus on greener ways of returning our elements back to the source. (Would it be wrong to think of those who make use of green self disposal as the dearly de-potted?) One tidbit from this stream was meeting with a lady who has devised a death suit with mushroom spores, the better to extract toxins from a decomposing body. I was drooling over the potential for Troma films that might be made from this notion.

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No, not pizza

One of life’s great joys is to learn something new while being thoroughly entertained. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes offers a unique compendium of fascinating information about how death is handled, mostly in America. Doughty’s sense of humor is right up my alley. The book is LOL funny and not just occasionally. You may want to make sure you have swallowed your coffee before reading, lest it come flying out your nose. I was very much reminded of the infectious humor of Mary Roach or Margee Kerr . Doughty is also TED-talk smart. She takes on some very real issues in both the science and economics of death-dealing, offers well-informed critiques of how we handle death today, and suggests some alternatives.

If the last face you see is Caitlin Doughty’s something is very, very wrong. The face itself is lovely, but usually by the time she gets her mitts on you you should be seeing the pearly gates, that renowned steambath, or nothing at all. Preferably you can see Doughty in one of the many nifty short vids available on her site. You will learn something while being thoroughly charmed. Reading this book won’t kill you, even with laughter, but it will begin to prepare you to look at that event that lies out there, somewhere in the distance for all of us, and point you in a direction that is care and not fear based. If you enjoy learning and laughing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is dead on.

Review posted – 12/11/15

Publication date – 10/15/2014 (hc) – 9/28/15 – TP

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Well, not really. I mean they specifically said that there was no obligation to produce a review, so there is no quid pro quo involved, but it does seem the right thing to do, don’tchya think?

=======================================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, Instagram and FB pages

You MUST CHECK OUT vids on her site. My favorite is The Foreskin Wedding Ring of St Catherine . All right, I’m gonna stop you right there. Go ahead. I know you wanna ask. No? Fine. I’ll do it for you, but you know this is what you were asking yourself. “If she rubs it does it become a bracelet?” Ok? Are ya happy now? Sheesh!

If you are uncertain about making a final commitment to reading this book you might want a taste of the product first (That sounds sooooo wrong) Here is an article Doughty wrote about her first experience with death as a kid, from Fortnightjournal.com . There are several other Doughty articles on this site as well.

Another book sample can be found here , in The Atlantic

Doughty offers a nifty list of sites to use for dealing with death, your own (presumably, you know, before) or others.

Interview in Wired

You might want to check out one or more of the following
—–The Loved One
—–The American Way of Death
—– The American Way of Death Revisited
—–Six Feet Under

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Filed under Bio/Autobio/Memoir, biography, Non-fiction, Public Health, Reviews

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

book cover Hi, welcome. I’m happy to see you are settling in to read this now. But…what?…really?…please…ignore that chirp that just told you a new e-mail arrived. It is probably just another add for Viagra or penile enlargement. It is almost never something critical, so…hey…come back. Son of a bitch. (Taps fingers on desk, plays some solitaire, checks watch) Ah, you’re back. Took long enough. Geez. All right, can we get back to it now? You remember? The book is A Deadly Wandering, a pretty amazing look at attention, the demands on it, how it functions, how it is being compromised, and what the implications are for some aspects of that. Stop, no, do you have to answer the phone now? Can’t it wait? (sighs loudly, checks e-mail on a separate screen; weather.com lets us know upcoming conditions in another tab; who is pitching for the Mets tonight?) Oh, you’re back, sorry. Been there long? I must have wandered off. Focus.

I know a little bit about distraction. My job entails constant blasts of it. I work as a dispatcher for a security company. I have a dozen or more sites checking in every hour to make sure our guards are not sleeping (or that they know how to set the alarms on their cell phones). People call asking for their schedules. People call at 2 in the morning to let us know they will not be showing up for their 6am shift. They call because they just turned the wrong way and the cell phone in their pocket somehow redialed the last number they’d called. They call at 4am to let us know they will not be coming in for their 6am shift. They call asking for direction when there is some event at their site that requires handling. Our clients call, sometimes asking for emergency ASAP coverage in diverse places across the continent, sometimes to add ridiculous increases to the number of guards they want for a morning shift at a large institution. Our security guards call to ask if their check is at the office, or to inquire as to why the totals on their checks did not match what they expected. They call to let us know they have arrived at their post. They call to let us know they have clocked out for the day. They call at 5am to let us know they will not be in for their 6am shift because they have a newly discovered “appointment.” There are many, many calls. It makes it damned tough to keep a log of all the calls, particularly when half a dozen arrive at the exact same moment. It makes it tough to prepare the multiple reports of overnight activity, all of which have to be transmitted during the busiest time of the morning. In the middle of this, the boss comes in, drops papers on my desk and asks when this or that person arrived at or left from a post sometime in the last week or so. For someone who is, shall we say, not comfortable with being interrupted, this presents some challenges. And it presents a real problem. I write the bulk of my reviews while at work. And to enter notes, do research on items, and then compose actual reviews of books during this time can be a bit difficult. Thoughts that have not made their way into a file are in constant danger of vanishing into the ether with the next barrage of incomings. I scream sometimes. I frequently forget what I was doing before the latest set of calls. And, struggling to remember, I am interrupted yet again by the next set. The one good thing about this blitzkrieg of interruption is that I am not enduring it while behind the wheel of a ton-plus hunk of metal hurtling down the road at 60 mph. My sanity may be in jeopardy, (or long gone) but I present no existential threat to the rest of humanity. The same cannot be said for the main character in Richtel’s story.

By all accounts nineteen-year-old Reggie Shaw is a decent young man. A Mormon, he was eager to serve his community by preparing for and then undertaking an LDS mission. His first try had come up short, so he was back home, working until he could build up enough moral credit to try again. In September, 2006, while driving a Chevy Tahoe SUV, Reggie had his Cingular flip-phone with him and was texting with his girlfriend. A witness reported seeing him weaving across the center line multiple times. Finally, Reggie weaved too far. The results were fatal. Reggie came through ok but two scientists were killed as a result of Reggie’s texting, leaving wives and children to pick up the charred pieces of their lives and go on without their breadwinners, husbands, fathers. Reggie denied he was texting when the accident occurred.

Matt Richtel is a novelist and top-notch reporter. He won a Pulitzer for a series of articles, written for the New York Times, in which he detailed the national safety crisis resulting from increasing use of distracting devices by drivers. He has written a few novels and even pens a comic strip. There is nothing at all amusing, however, about the tale he tells here.

book cover

Matt Richtel – from his site

The core of A Deadly Wandering is how constant distraction, particularly while in a car, kills. Richtel looks at the case of Reggie Shaw as a prime example of how the distractions that have become embedded in our lives have unintended consequences. Richtel spends time with Reggie, with the cop who pursued the case when most officials wanted to brush it off and move on, the surviving family members, and a victim’s advocate who pursued prosecution of the case. Richtel also talks with several neuroscientists who have been studying the science of attentiveness. That material is quite eye-opening.

There are legal questions in here regarding where responsibility lies for such events, and how far communities are willing to go to punish violations and even to establish that such behavior is not permissible. Where does your freedom to act irresponsibly interfere with my right to stay alive? There are scientific questions about how the brain functions in a world that seems to demand multi-tasking. How does the brain work in dealing with attentiveness? What is possible? What is not? Where are the edges of that envelope?

When drug companies want to bring to market a product for public use, they must go through a significant review process to make sure their product is safe to use. Before auto manufacturers can bring a vehicle to market they must put it through safety testing.

But neither Verizon nor any other cellphone company supports legislation that bans drivers from talking on the phone. And the wireless industry does not conduct research on the dangers, saying that is not its responsibility – From – Dismissing the Risks of a Deadly Habit

And the corporations know what they are doing with their techolology.

If you take yourself back millennia, and you’re in the jungle or you’re in the forest and you see a lion, then the lion hits your sensory cortices and says to the frontal lobe, whatever you’re doing, whatever hut you’re building, stop and run.
Well, here’s what scientists think is happening in this data era, is that these pings of incoming email, the phone ringing, the buzz in your pocket, is almost like we get little tiny lions, little tiny threats or, let’s say, maybe little tiny rabbits that you want to chase and eat, you get little tiny bursts of adrenaline that are bombarding your frontal lobe asking you to make choices. But these in some ways aren’t these modern bombardments; they’re the most primitive bombardments. They’re playing to these most primitive impulses and they’re asking our brain to make very hard choices a lot.
– from the Terry Gross interview

In addition, and in a chillingly similar impact to other addictive substances, our communications technology knows how to make itself feel crucial to us.

when you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you hear a ring – you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get a little rush of adrenaline. So you’re getting that more and more and more and more. Well, guess what happens in its absence? You feel bored. You’re actually conditioned by a kind of neurochemical response. – also from the NPR interview

Richtel follows Reggie’s story through to the end, at least for some of the players here. Laws have been changed. New knowledge has been gained. Responsibility has been allocated. Amends have been attempted. It is a moving tale. In addition, you will learn a lot about what science has found about how our brains handle multiple concurrent demands. You will learn about change in how distracted driving is being addressed by our legal system. But most of what you will get from reading this book is a chilling appreciation for what is involved in distracted driving. You might even be persuaded to switch off your phone the next time you get behind the wheel. At least I hope you are. I would like to live a bit longer and not be taken out before my time because someone was talking on the phone with their friend, texting with their significant other, or trying to order penile growth products from the road. I would like to live long enough to spend at least a few more nights screaming at the phone to stop ringing at work so I can get some writing done. That call you were thinking of making while in the car can wait. It really is a matter of life and death. A Deadly Wandering is must read material. Please, please pay attention.

Review posted – 7/18/14

Publication date – 9/23/14

This review has been also been posted at GoodReads

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

A list of Richtel articles in the NY Times’ Bits blog

The Pulitzer site includes links to all the pieces in Richtel’s award-winning series. Very much worth checking out

Another article Richtel did looked at the benefits of uninterrupted face time free of technological intrusion, from August, 2010, Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain

There is some great material in Richtel’s 2010 interview with Terry Gross on NPR, Digital Overload: Your Brain on Gadgets

There are some interesting pieces on Oprah’s site. Distracted Driving: What You Don’t See is pretty good. And it is worth checking out Oprah’s No Texting Campaign

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Filed under Non-fiction, Psychology and the Brain, Public Health, Reviews