• Spartan Considerations

So I thought I would provide you, my dear reader, with an update on the Mental Health front. Am I intentionally trying to normalize discussions on this important topic, or am I just putting off writing another political article? You decide. No skin off my nose said the skeleton. Halloween. Topical.

I am doing the things you are supposed to be doing with depression, anxiety, and a newcomer to this psychological three-way, ADD (minus the H). I started working out again at the gym - on the day the Lions lost to the Ravens. Not a coincidence. Cardio and weights. Doing that five times a week. Working on undoing 20 years of damage to this temple of sloth. Which I know is a Process. I haven't hulked out and ripped any of my guayabera shirts...yet. Pics to follow.

On the pharmaceutical question, it took me several weeks to locate a physician who is accepting patients. This is completely unacceptable. About three or four weeks ago, I thought I found a qualified professional who could push some pills in my direction. I was going through what you might call a "crisis" and was unable to connect with a health care provider who could help me out; a completely avoidable situation in a country as rich as ours.

Anyway, we were all good to go with an appointment with a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Finally, progress. The video conference appointment was set for 5 pm...nothing. 5:05, 5:10. I call the number. Nothing. Then around 5:20, I get a callback. "Mr. Booms, it appears as though you didn't fill out a form or two, so we can't meet you today.”

Suffice to say I didn’t handle the news with the grace and aplomb of a young Cary Grant. Or a middle-aged Ed Asner. I kirked out. Her fault for having a voice mail system. Did I also send the “doctor” a follow-up email which disparaged her in sailors’ language? Absolutely. Miserable excuse for a medical professional, may she rot.

At this moment I would like to thank one of our sponsors: MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society. Like their tagline says, “MedChi: Give a doctor a hug” or whatever their motto is. You have Bing, look it up.

So I found a psychiatric nurse practitioner who put me on a new prescription. One of the potential side effects is, I kid you not, hallucinations. So if you want to sign up for my car pool, dm me.

Vivid dreams are a more common side effect. And they have definitely been kicking in. Last night, I dreamt of my cat. I won’t give his or her name because I’m 95% certain 100% of my readers are Russian scammers looking for password clues. This one is for you!

Anyway, I could literally feel my cat (who passed in the ‘80s, by the by) walking on the bed and curling up on my legs. The warmth from the fur, the whole nine. I have to say, if these are the hallucinations, then bring them on.

In short, as always with such posts – I encourage those who need help to seek it out. It is amazing how many people are willing to listen, even those who you would not consider close friends. Talk to a medical professional, there are more good ones than bad. Don’t self-diagnose. And, for God’s sake, read about the side effects before taking any new medications. And that, as they say, is “a tip from your Uncle Lar'.”

In solidarity.

*With apologies to Huey Lewis only, not the News

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  • Spartan Considerations

I wasn’t planning on writing anything further on the topic(s), beyond the social media posts I have already made.

However, after seeing the disparagement and invectives hurled in the direction of Ms. Sabina Taj and Ms. Ainy Haider-Shah, I felt compelled to pen this article.

Let me approach this from a couple angles.

On a personal level, I believe that Ms. Haider-Shah and Ms. Taj are honorable, ethical, and civic-minded residents of Howard County; each with a genuine interest in furthering the common good through public service.

On a political level, I don’t agree with either of them on multiple issues. However, when I see baseless claims that these women are part of some nefarious schemes, claims that are simultaneously risible and infuriating, I can’t leave those wild-eyed statements unaddressed.

We live in a time when the spectre of creeping authoritarianism is just an “election” or two away. Of course, how valid will many elections be in states adopting truly draconian voter suppression laws or engaging in practices which have the same effect? Within that environment, we need people of the caliber of Ms. Taj and Ms. Haider-Shah, people who are willing to step up and, through their public service, help restore integrity to a damaged society.

For having opinions, they are called “divisive.” For being willing to spend hours upon hours on local boards and commissions that serve as linkages between local government and the governed, time away from their families and professional obligations, their motives are impugned.

Many of the attacks are coming from those who supposedly share their values in terms of how government can best serve the people. I would call upon these “cut-and-paste” testimony scribblers operating in the dark, especially those who call themselves Democrats, to reflect upon their words and actions. Yes, I know these are non-partisan boards and commissions, and yes, I know some will be all too eager to point this out or twist my words. And yes, I will be accused of carrying water for the “Establishment” but in a time when the Big Crunch threatens our small d-democracy, I want folks – even neoliberals – who I can trust and who I know put the people’s interests first and foremost in such (relatively) small yet important roles.

I wholeheartedly support the confirmations of Ms. Haider-Shah to the Compensation Review Commission and Ms. Taj to the Board of Library Trustees.

In solidarity.

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The quote by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould keeps flashing across my mind:

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” [italics added]

Meanwhile, as we approach what would have been his 80th birthday, the sedulous ignorance which infects our population has somehow managed to turn the undeniable into the debatable; the horrific into the somehow acceptable. While some labor to shift the Overton window towards a more compassionate society, others are loud and menacing proponents for shattering the glass…or burning the house down entirely.

I had the misfortune of reading a post that originated in the HoCo Neighbors Something-or-Other today. So, I revisited what I could see of the group (having long since been shown the door, much to my mental well-being). Too many remembrances of screeds past.

A cursory glance at some recent posts revealed, in no particular order:

· Klan apologia

· Reflexive, thoughtless nationalist triumphalism

· An anti-busing statement within the context of a thread on slavery and genocide in the United States as well as the Holocaust

· Downplaying the public health threat of the Delta variant

· Blatantly incorrect definitions of racism (including the non-existent “reverse racism”)

· Teacher-bashing

· Critical Race Theory denunciations

· Conspiracy mongering

· A complete misunderstanding about the removal of Confederate statues. Hint: books are for learning; statues are for celebrating. Think of it this way, I am certain many of us can agree that learning about Nazi Germany is important while also being opposed to having statues of Hitler erected. Of course, I am far less certain about that “many of us” contention these days.

· People amplifying factually inaccurate statements about COVID and the science behind its transmission, prevention, and overall public health impact.

In short, a poisoned gruel of hate and incomprehension. And yet, as has been noted, the purveyors of malice do not merely exist digitally. They reside in our own communities. We walk past them in grocery stores, we see them shopping at the Mall, we hear their horns honking as we wait at lights.

Knowing what might be going on in the darkest space above their shoulders, how can anyone let down their guard, even for the briefest of moments?

I will close with this from Bertolt Brecht:

“Whose tomorrow is tomorrow? And whose world is the world?”

What is to be done?

In solidarity.

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