A Hamdog

A “hamdog” is a fast food creation in Australia that has become popular there. The concept is to make a hot dog-sized depression in the center of a hamburger patty before you grill it and separately grill a hot dog. Then, you place the grilled hot dog into the depression, which will cradle it when both meat products are placed on a single hamburger bun. I saw a story about this on the television news. The reporter said that “hamdog” is coming to America. Wow. I can hardly wait for that to happen.

The story made me think about other incongruous food combinations. Salads used to be simply lettuce with salad dressing. Over time, other raw vegetables made their way into salads. Now, people commonly put meat in their salad. Thus, we have tuna salad, chicken salad, fish salad, and we also have fruit salad. But “hamdog” seems to have crossed some line of respect. It is a presentation of two different critter meats. I say two, but who really knows what critter is in a hot dog?

Would you go to a fine restaurant and order “lambkin?” That would be lamb with chicken. How about “horsenpfeffer” (horse meat and rabbit stew)? They do eat horse meat in some countries. There is no reason why a meat-on-meat culinary creation cannot come to America from any country if the Australians can send us “hamdog.” In fact, the possibilities of what critter meat is in a hot dog expand greatly when you consider what Australian critter meats might be put in one of those.

My mom likes to eat fried chicken livers. Could “hamdog” inspire the combining of organ meats from different animals? If you are a vegan you may puke at the idea of that. Is vegan puke, combined with the puke of a meat-eater an enhancement of nausea? Maybe we had better take a stand. We should tell the Australians not to send “hamdog” to America, before we must learn to live with the “McHamdog.” If they don’t listen to us, we may have to retaliate. We could send them “gizzard-chitterlings,” which would be cooked bird stomach and hog intestines.

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New Successful Treatments for Depression Disorders

Ketamine, known as Special K on the streets, has become a surprise weapon in the war against depression. Pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop drugs that improve upon it, or can be paired with it. NeuroRx has made progress with its drug, Cyclurad which, when paired with ketamine, has the potential to treat bipolar depression which doctors have struggled to treat successfully.

History of Ketamine

Ketamine was first developed in 1962 as a fast-acting anesthetic that is still used widely in operating rooms and for pain management. Beginning in the 1970s ketamine became popular as a recreational drug, known for putting users in a “K-hole,” likened to an out-of-body, near-death experience.

Due to abuses, in 1999 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned nonmedical uses for ketamine and designated it a Schedule III controlled substance.

According to an article in Bloomberg Business, around the same time, researchers at Yale, including Dennis Charney, who’s now dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, stumbled upon the drug’s promise as a mood stabilizer. “We were not thinking at the time that ketamine would be an antidepressant,” Charney says. When patients started reporting that they suddenly felt better, the scientists were surprised.

The group’s findings, published in Biological Psychiatry in 2000, were largely ignored. The study was tiny, and because of ketamine’s reputation as a party drug, scientists were reluctant to follow up. “They didn’t believe you could get better from depression in a few hours,” Charney adds. “They’d never seen that before.” Standard antidepressants such as Prozac and Wellbutrin take weeks or months to kick in. As many as 30 percent of depressed patients don’t respond to conventional antidepressants, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Ketamine as Treatment

Six years later, Charney, who’d gone on to work for the National Institutes of Health, initiated a replica study with 17 patients. Within a day of getting one ketamine infusion, 70 percent of the subjects went into remission. Since then, scientists at institutions including Yale, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine have performed dozens more studies that corroborate the findings. Additional studies show that ketamine works by producing long-lasting changes in the brain, reversing neural damage caused by stress and depression and potentially decreasing inflammation and cortisol levels.

Ketamine has continued to gain widespread attention in scientific literature and the media based on the increasing popularity of off-label administration to treat acute depression. Dr. Keith Ablow has sung its praises in his blog for FoxNews, “I have now treated approximately one hundred patients with intravenous ketamine. The results mirror those of research trials on the treatment; more than two thirds of my patients have experienced dramatic recoveries. Their profoundly low mood, lack of energy, decreased self-esteem and even suicidal thinking very frequently yields entirely to the ketamine infusions. And while the results from ketamine may last weeks or months, that is often more than enough time to allow other medications and psychotherapy to permanently rid patients of their suffering.

The ketamine success stories I have witnessed include patients once hobbled by depression and out of work for years who returned to their jobs within weeks of treatment, patients whose anxiety made it nearly impossible to leave the house who can now go on vacations that require travel, and young people who were driven to cutting themselves by underlying stress and self-loathing, but have now stopped cutting and started creating their futures.”

Future Outlook

The FDA’s approval of ketamine for depression hinges on multiphase clinical studies, which are unlikely to happen. Pharmaceutical companies usually pay for clinical trials and can’t make money off a decades-old generic drug. “You can get a few years of exclusivity for a new use, but generally you need more than a few years to recoup the research and development costs of bringing a drug to market,” says Michael Thase, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania who’s consulted for various drug companies developing ketamine-like products.

Instead, companies are spending millions to develop similar, patentable drugs. According to Bloomberg Business, Janssen is seeking approval for a nasal spray made from esketamine, a variation of the ketamine molecule that’s about 20 percent more potent, says Manji. The spray could come on the market in a few years. Cerecor, based in Baltimore, is developing a pill that replicates ketamine’s effects. In June, the startup filed to go public and raise as much as $31.6 million. Pharmaceutical giant Allergan spent $560 million in July to acquire Naurex, an Illinois-based biopharmaceutical company whose main products are two clinical-stage ketamine-like drugs called rapastinel and NRX-1074. Both are designed to modulate the same receptor as ketamine, alleviating depression without inducing hallucination.

Instead of replacing it NeuroRx is trying to work with it. They claim Cyclurad is able to extend the effect of Ketamine in the treatment of acute depression. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Prof. Dan V. Iosifescu of the Icahn School of Medicine stated, “In this context, the study [of Cyclurad] represents an important addition to the emerging literature on maintaining clinical response after an initial Ketamine treatment… D-cycloserine has several advantages. It can be administered orally and has demonstrated safety and tolerability for long term use.”

Bipolar depression is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Currently, more than three million Americans have Bipolar Depression. 500 people with this condition tragically end their lives each day. Those with bipolar depression are far more likely to commit suicide compared with patients who have other forms of depression. Between 25% and 50% will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Overall, patients with treatment resistant depression from all causes cost the healthcare system more than $120 billion annually.

Why People Don’t Seek Mental Health Treatment

Because of the increase of school shootings across the United States, there is an ongoing debate regarding solutions. One of the most looked at causes behind mass shootings are the mental state of the shooters themselves. Most mass shooters have some things in common with each other.

1. Grew up in a fatherless home

2. Was on prescription psychotropic drugs

3. Had stressful events going on in their lives

For category #1, the solutions are obvious. We need to revamp the family law courts in way that there aren’t “winning” parents and “losing” parents. I speak about this topic in-depth in my published report sent to the U.N. titled, “Global Human Trafficking in The Family Law Courts”, which can be found on Amazon.

However, for the sake of this article, I want to focus on the mental health aspect. It is undeniable that our school systems and our healthcare systems are handing out psychotropic drugs like candy! Kids who aren’t paying attention in class are quickly prescribed Ritalin. Depressed teenagers are quickly give Prozac; the situation for adults isn’t much better.

Let’s look at modern rappers like, “Lil Xan”, “Future”, and the recently deceased 20 year old rapper, “Lil Peep”, who died from a Xanax pill laced with Fentanyl. The rapper was seen on Instagram frequently swallowing hand fulls of Xanax pills daily. His young fans who idolized him are most likely following suit.

According to the “business-insider” news site, the United States of America is the world’s leader in prescribing anti-depressant medication. According to one of its articles published, it was found that 12% of all Americans are on some type of drug used to treat mental illness.

There are pros and cons to these numbers. Take South Korea for example, a very developed nation, yet it is ranked #3 for suicides. In the Korean culture, seeing a doctor for depression is a social stigma that shows weakness, especially on part of a male. It isn’t surprising considering that 80% of all suicides in the world are attributed to men. Because mental illness is pretty much ignored in South Korea and among males in general due to society pressures to remain “stoic”, people are killing themselves left and right.

On the other hand, the United States, which is ranked between #30 – #40 (depending on the study), for suicides. So, there is some evidence that perhaps anti-depressant medications can work. Or is it merely cultural? Jamaica often ranks at the very bottom of the list for suicide rates despite being a poor country. Although the poor, the communities are very close knit, and their culture is very cheerful. Perhaps it’s because marijuana is legal to smoke in the country! Who knows!

But, I do know one thing; anti-depressants and other drugs used to treat mental illness carry many side-effects. “Suicidal Thoughts”, is often listed as one of the major side-effects of Prozac. Imagine that! A medication designed for suicidal people which may cause suicidal thoughts! There is no doubt that taking psychotropic drugs alters the brain chemistry, just like alcohol or any other intoxicant.

It is in my opinion that occupational therapy, talk therapy, and community interaction are among the best treatments for depression. However, yet again, there is a draw back to these types of therapies as well.

Anytime an American sees a counselor for depression, suicidal thoughts, or any mental health concern, they are then “logged” and “stereotyped”. Those who frequent a mental health counselor could have such activities used against them in a custody battle or those who seek to purchase a firearm.

Imagine you are battling depression, so you go see a counselor, only to have it used against you in the future. This is why many, myself included, fear the idea of seeing a mental health specialist during times of great stress. Once you visit these people, you are very “labeled” and will be “marked”. If you find yourself facing any future litigation, the courts can uncover your medical records whereas they will say,:

“Ahhh! You went to a mental health counselor several times for depression! You aren’t fit to own a gun or have custody of your kids!”.

In some cases, this may true, whereas in others, it could be an unfair stereotype. When people mentioned that they see a counselor or take anti-depressant medication, people will often sneer at you or perhaps take a step back. We associate mental health concerns with schizophrenia or severe manic depressive types. The fact is, we are all suffering with some form of mental illness.

If you are too happy, the doctors will say you are “manic”. If you are too grumpy, they will say you have “type A” personality. If you are too sad, they will say you are suffering from severe “Depression”. It is much like going to a mechanic. If you talk long enough, they will find something wrong with you!

The truth is simple. Visiting a mental health counselor could result in you losing rights to your child, to your firearms, and your reputation as a person. It is a sad truth. Under our current system, most people do not seek help for fear of being demonized.

The top ways we can prevent mass shootings is by encouraging a friendly community, surround yourself with loving people, do your best to be involved parents, seek natural therapies to mental health disorders over drugs if possible (Sports, work therapy, etc..). If you are hearing voices or are frequently attempting to complete your suicide, then you should certainly seek medical intention.

Requiring mental health screenings to purchase firearms sounds like a great idea until you realize that most don’t seek help so that they can purchase a firearm! Why not screen people’s health condition before they purchase alcohol, get a driver’s license, or board a plane? Mental health can make nearly any activity dangerous. Our country must stop looking for “quick” fixes and start looking at the true cause of our demise.

Our fast-food, sex-violence, entertainment, glorification of misunderstand anarchism. There is “freedom” and then there is “responsible” freedom. Make choices in life, however, make those choices in respect of how it will affect your society at large. Legislators cannot solve these issues. These issues are ones that will require families to step up, unite, and take back the reign of traditional values without going overboard.

A middle ground between progressive thought and traditional values must be balanced. We mustn’t be afraid to advance our society, but we must also not totally disregard traditional ways of living which have served our humanity for so long.

Lastly, we must encourage more anonymity within our mental health departments. Must like the “confessionals” at a Catholic church. If people can be anonymously treated without so much of a paper-trail to stigmatize them, I am sure that many more people would step forward and ask for help.

As a boxing coach, this job often requires me to be a counselor, talking with my students, building up their confidence. If you are depressed and need help, but do not trust or fear doctors, a great alternative in my opinion is to stay active in group settings. Building relationships are essential in combating mental illness. In poor countries, suicide rates are often low because their communities are so tight knit. They may be poor, but no one is as lonely as the isolated modern man who types away in his cold artificially lit office cubicle.

Be Aware of the Negative Influence of Newspaper and Media News

Newspapers are in business to sell news and media news is driven by ratings. Bad news sells five times faster better than good news which is why they don’t publish “good news” newspapers.

My first sales job was with a newspaper advertising department and it was while I was there that I learned the only kind of news that sells is bad news. If a newspaper was set-up to publish only good news, it would rapidly go broke. It seems the public at large, has a morbid fascination with other people’s problems and tragedies. I was 30 years of age when I learned this and since then over the past 50 years I have never bought a newspaper for that very reason. Similarly if you stop to analyze the content of the incessant stream of news that is bombarding your mind all day and every day from the television newscasts, you will find at least 90% of it is bad news. Imagine the impact of all this bad news on the public psyche over time. Is it any wonder that there is a worldwide increase in depression, anxiety and stress. The reality is you can get through life successfully without subscribing to the practice of avidly following local and world events just to stay up-to-date.

If there is something of importance that will affect your life, it will be “in the air” and someone in your environment will be only too glad to tell you about it, without you having to go looking it.

This approach has two benefits,

1) It frees up the time for you to pursue more positive actions in your life.

2) It makes other people feel rewarded when they are able to tell you the bad news.

Let me remind you of just some of the things you could be doing instead of spending more time than necessary watching and reading the news.

You could read a good book.

You could do some exercise.

You could go help a needy friend or some other community activity.

You could enrich your mind with further education.

Any of these alternative activities will keep your body and mind in better condition than if you simply spend the time watching the news more than you need.

Put’in On The Ritz

When Irvin Berlin wrote “Put’in On the Ritz” in 1927 the roaring 20’s was in full swing. The days and nights of dapper sophistication was all the rage. Whit tie and tails as they say. Where this generation of women wore Flappers and Speakeasys is where the action was. The culture of the 20’s flourished and made Put’in on the Ritz the benchmark of society until the early 1930’s. Practically everywhere you looked at that time from New York to Chicago the gaiety and revelry transcended cultures and exposed the world to the dance craze of the Charleston.

The refinement of that era defined a nation. Sad, though the Great Depression soon griped the world where too many were trapped into a downward cycle toward poverty. Many sought refuge by watching the movies visualizing what it would be like to revisit those carefree days of yesteryear. Captivated by the performances of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and others made those days of misery more bearable.

As the world moved closer to World War II a new ear was emerging. The 1940’s where the sights and sounds especially in music moved society away from the dapper sophistication that prevailed 20 years ago. The swing age of Benny Goodman, Crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra set the tone for a departure of the times where people were putting on the Ritz. For us baby boomers it was our parents who experienced the gaiety the 1920’s, danced the Charleston, endured the tough times of the Great Depression and freed the world from the scourge of World War II who through it all managed to instill in their children much of the moral values, integrity, and social mannerisms that endured for more than 40 years.

Even though we were instilled with the same moral standards of our parents sad to say a sociological shift was already underway. As world War II ended the emergence of Rock and Roll was taking off and by the mid 1950’s another sociological shift was underway. Many can say the cause of the way society as a whole again shifted was linked to the emergence of a new acceptance in music, entertainment, and social norms. A gradual departure from the strict behavior and dress that was the accepted norm years ago also helped societies shift.

This sociological shift during the 50’s and again during the 1960’s displaced the refinement, the etiquette, and mannerisms that enabled society to avoid all the pitfalls that are embedded in our society today. Our schools were the first to show a deterioration of codes of conduct, respect, and discipline. The baby boomer generation faced almost insurmountable odds in trying to instill what they were taught only to find outside forces from the Dr. Spock mentality craze and entertainment. It has been the entertainment industry from much of the music like hard rock, hip hop and rap to the video games of today that have turned our society inside out. We have to also realize that the Viet-Nam War along with many Supreme Court rulings have undermined societies retrieval of a certain amount of the Dapper Sophistication when Put’in on the Ritz would not only be possible but more acceptable in our society today.

The accustomed norm of today is a far cry from the days of Irvin Berlin. When I look back to how my parents and those parents of the kids I grew up with all had the same qualities in the way they carried themselves. By today’s standard though it is such a shame because to many today could not fathom the way our parents behaved let alone dressed during the times of my youth. And, yet in our upbringing we managed to avoid so much of the violence, the lack of moral judgement and the lack of respect that is displayed today and not just by our youth either.

We all should remember and embrace Put’in On The Ritz for that craze and phrase symbolized a nation. The Dapper Sophistication America embraced is one aspect of our society that transformed our culture into refinement and elegance that has been lost. As my farther told me when I was growing up Chicago even with Al Capone the 1920’s was one of the best periods that shaped how my father was to become and how he instilled in me the values and moral integrity that made so many of us baby boomers able to as they say ” live long and prosper.”