Brotherhood of the Traveling Beam

I was reared all over the world due to my parents’ peregrinating professions, that of an international consulting mining engineer [my father] and an exploratory geologist [my mother] and learned to make friends quickly even as a preschooler. As I became a little older my mother kept gently encouraging me to really get to know people, as in her view, “everyone has a (life) story to tell.” Fortunately I was pretty social, friendly and forward for a boy and enjoyed meeting people. It helped witnessing my parents having “foreigners” over to our home constantly for dinner and wide ranging conversations exchanging life experiences. I learned very early on that all one had to do to get a more than ordinary conversation going, beyond simply saying hello or how are you, was to ask people something about themselves. Almost everyone except a CIA or NSA operative responds positively to that opening conversational gambit and I early on learn to revel in the unique and never-the-same life stories that I would hear from children my age and even adults. As one might guess, I became quickly comfortable talking with adults.

And I suppose this is one of the earliest and most telling background reasons why I became a psychiatrists. I love hearing others’ experiences even when tragic and pained and that is how I answer the perennial ordinary citizen’s constant question to me of “how do you stand hearing all those sad stories?”

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Get Cured In North Korea!

As a physician and subscriber to the biweekly humor newspaper Funny Times which I consider the printed equivalent of Jon Daily’s old The Daily Show, MY wacky insuppressible sense of humor,could not pass on this blog article in the blog I follow, Quickfire. entitled NORTH KOREA SAYS IT HAS ‘CURE’ for MERS, EBOLA, AIDS. [Here is the link if you have to paste it into your browser URL address window: ].

Although I am psychiatrist who started literally in neurosciences, operating on brains of mammals, helping in the labs that initially tested LSD and discovered the “pleasure center” as it was called in those early days, I have had several other long abiding medical subspecialty areas of interest. Neurosciences and infectious diseases being two of them

So when this article popped up on one of my trusty Googlebot search alerts for these terms, I was immediately intrigued. The post must be seen. I have included one of the more ludicrous pictures here.

Your medical team in North Korea

My thought when I first glanced upon this was, “How terrifying would that be to me to have those guys as my rounding attendings and residents, interns, and medical students each morning?” I also riffed uncontrollably in Kurt Vonnegut like wild associations such as, “If you give the wrong symptom, the guys in the Generals’ hats whip out their Russian Makarov pistols and kill you on the spot?” Or maybe if you happen to cough on the Supreme Leader by mistake…

One of the questions that occurred to me was based on the premise that there is NO FRIGGIN’ WAY the North Koreans could have come up with any medical advance that does not involve torture. I am not a reader of the North Korean Journal of Medicine (their counterpart to our esteemed New England Journal of Medicine), but my dear and ever efficient search bots keyed to AIDS or HIV have not turned up any recent links to articles and breakthroughs in the North Korean medical literature.

Why would the NK’s (short for North Koreans, might as well use an acronym as I sort of detest giving them even the recognition of typing the name and if I came up with my own typed sarcastic name for that despotic blight on the earth, would likely get me killed “rubbed out.’ I think things are so crazy in NK that now their propaganda offensive has to start claiming humanitarian elements of the regime. They certainly have had years of bad PR and press and most of it true and deserved from what little I know. Three generations of families of political dissidents are imprisoned to atone for the crime of say, the grandfather, two generations before. BAAADDDD Berries if I ever saw it.

So what better way than to claim medical breakthroughs cures for AIDS/HIV, MERS, , EBOLA that make the Karolinska Institute, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, The Maudesley Hospital, Stanford, Michigan, Baylor,  UCLA, and Mayo, all look like slaggards and slackers. It’s a pity they left out the common cold and athlete’s foot.

My own suppositions are that their “cures” are based on the following premises:

  • total denial; these disorders do not exist
  • paranoid projection onto the West; us evil scientists in the West conjured up these maladies as scare tactics
  • worst still, the evil Western world of science intentionally invented these dread diseases and sent infected agents into NK to spread these maladies
  • these disorders do exist in NK and have been eradicated by putting all patients with these conditions into the lifelong gulags.



Too Many of This and That In North Carolina

During the week of September 22-28, the Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, and winner of the Gov. Rick Perry Talk Alike Contest, made the remark that North Carolina has too many journalists, and I quote: “We’ve frankly got enough psychologists and sociologists and political science majors and journalists. With all due respect to journalism, we’ve got enough, We have way too many.” The Governor was “reportedly” offering his views on career options facing present and future workers. The Governor went on for some reason to buttress his reasoning with the additional riposte that his economic policies were “too complex for the journalists.” [Source: The Charlotte Observer,, September 28, 2014].

This naturally brought forth howls of protests from wounded journalists and huzzahs from the crowd that wishes to ship all intrepid, nosy, bothersome reporters and paparazzi off to North Korea “where they would have a lot more material” as one political wag and sarcastic friend of mine declared. All this got me to thinking. The Governor could be starting a “How much is enough (or too many) campaign” to carry him for three more years in North Carolina. By way of explanation, in North Carolina, the gubernatorial elections are held in the off year, the year after the national Presidential elections. For instance, the next Presidential election will occur in 2016 while North Carolina’s Gubernatorial Election would be in 2017. Apparently this was decided political eons ago so that the campaign backers and Super PAC funds would be so broke that North Carolinians would not have to hear the non-stop headache-inducing political ads that are descending on us now. So  the Governor of North Carolina is starting early with a few test issues and you can never start too early in political campaigning.

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