Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: The Thing I Never Want To Hear Again On Good Friday 2014-04-17
When I was in seminary and doing field education at my first church, I was handed a script for a Good Friday service a few minutes before we were to begin. And it went something like this:
Me: And then the Jews said...
Congregation: Crucify him, Crucify him!
I heard myself say the words and take part in this ritual and it made me physically sick. I couldn't believe that this was the liturgy that this kind, little church had been using for the past decades, maybe longer. But even worse, I found myself participating in it; perpetuating an anti-Jewish theology of deicide that I knew was wrong, but feeling helpless to do anything about it.
I swore that I would never be a part of such a service again. And I wasn't, until I went to a Good Friday service at my progressive church last year that has a penchant for high liturgy and a reputation for superb music. They sang -- in beautiful tones, in a lovely sanctuary -- the same crucifixion narrative told in the Gospel of John that claims that Jesus was crucified by the Jews, and the blame is upon them. To make matters so much worse, the liturgy was followed by a sermon that never mentioned the anti-Judaism in the liturgy, as if it didn't warrant a correction.
And I felt betrayed by my church all over again.
It should not matter that I am from an interfaith family and my closest cousins are Jewish. All Christians should be disgusted by the continued use of this kind of language in our liturgy that blames the Jews for Jesus' horrific death on the cross.
Stating that the Jews killed Jesus is untrue, it has led to violence against Jews over the last two thousand years, and it betrays Jesus himself on the very day when we observe his crucifixion.
I spoke to Professor Mary Boys who teaches at Union Theological Seminary and recently wrote a book called Redeeming our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations between Jews and Christians. Professor Boys explained that, "the Gospels are not a playback documentary of what happened two thousand years ago."
Professor Boys emphasized to me what crucifixion really was: "Crucifixion functioned as a state sanctioned punishment to terrorize and pacify the population for Roman rule." In other words, Christians need to understand that crucifixion was simply not something that the Jews could order.
Ignorant or willful misunderstanding of the death of Jesus has led to horrible oppression of Jewish people over the last two thousand years. Christians celebrating Easter should remember that Good Friday was a day when Christians went on rampages against Jews often leading to their deaths. If you need any proof there is a fun lemonade drink popular in Spain around Easter called "Matar Judios" or "Kill Jews."
Of course, the most obvious reason to get rid of this horrible language is because it obscures the fact that Jesus was a Jew, and that all his followers were Jewish, every disciple, all the early people of the Jesus movement were Jewish. To say Jews killed Jesus erases Jesus' true identity -- which was as a Jew.
I asked Professor Boys what we should do about the problem of anti-Jewish narratives within Christian churches and she was very succinct: "We have to change the liturgies. The passion narratives should not be read without commentary on who Jesus was and what his wider ministry was about."
Now I should interject here that most religions have passages that foster animosity towards outside groups. Certainly Judaism has passages in their liturgies that are similarly uncomfortable. What I am calling for, in a broader sense, is an educational effort across the board on these difficult and often violent passages in our scriptures, and to develop some consensus on how to deal with them.
The great scholar of the Gospel of John Raymond Brown was acutely aware of the presence of anti-Jewish language in the text having spent his life studying it. Here are his thoughts:An initial response is... to omit the anti-Jewish sections from the public reading of the passion narrative. In my opinion, a truer response is to continue to read the whole passion, not subjecting it to excisions that seem wise to us, but once having read it, then to preach forcefully that such hostility between Christian and Jew cannot be continued today and is against our fundamental understanding of Christianity.
I have to say that this seems like probably the best solution. We can't pretend like these texts don't exist, but we can explain why it is impermissible and a betrayal of Jesus to use these texts to continue the horrible anti-Jewish sentiment that has plagued Christianity.
For more resources go to Critical Reflections on the Passion Narrative of the Good Friday Liturgy by J. Frank Henderson.
Mudit Kakkar: Why The Future Belongs To Google -- Part Ii 2014-04-17
If you have read the first part of this series, I have written about the strengths and foibles of two enormous tech giants -- Apple and Microsoft. In the final part of this series, I am turning my attention to another giant and delving deep into the big G.
Big as a Galaxy
They're responsible for a sixth of Korea's economy, played the protagonist in the Miracle on the Han River, tower above giants in an elite group of conglomerates called chaebols; and if you happen to visit Seoul, the name 'Samsung' is a leitmotif and its influence, epic.
Most people do a double take when they're told that a brand we associate most with phones and televisions was also the primary contractor for the world's tallest building, are the second largest shipbuilder around, fancy aeronautics and weaponry and own a theme park to round it off. Reminds you of some sovereign ruler? This is Samsung, and its $288 billion empire is huge, multifarious and flourishing.
Samsung electronics is the crowning jewel of the Samsung group, a powerful arm which has earned it high praise, immense recognition and multiple billions. It employs more than 370,000 people and prides itself on being the world's largest maker of LCD screens and mobile phones. Founded as a trading company, Samsung forged its legend through the Korean War and a prolonged period of economic turmoil to become the titan that it is today.
Their rise to prominence in the consumer electronics segment has been accentuated by some stellar mobile devices they've produced. When no smartphone could hold a candle to the mighty iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy SII got heads turning with its brilliant execution of an Android OS which was still nascent. It was fast, bright and asserted that the world will not be dominated by just one company's ideas. Following it up with an even more imperious Galaxy SIII a year later, Samsung really took the bull by its horns. While the competition was still learning the ropes of creating truly great devices, Apple, dented by Samsung's increasing prowess, took the Koreans to the courtroom to ban handsets, dictate interfaces and allege theft. It wound up to be a vicious, protracted battle fought with such ferocity that at one point, the judge held up an iPad and a Galaxy Tab above her head for a Samsung attorney to tell them apart. He couldn't.
Yes Samsung's devices changed their profile radically in the wake of the iPhone because they had to compete with an entirely new animal. The iPhone fired everyone's imagination when it came out and continues to inspire designs even today, but that's perfectly alright; they're inspired, not ripped off. Samsung's Galaxy line is their interpretation of the smartphone, just like the iPhone is Apple's. If Apple wants to blur the line between inspiration and copying, well I am afraid, they themselves owe the court an explanation for a few new iOS 7 features then.
Samsung has already paid Apple more than a billion dollars in 'damages' and if Apple has their way, Samsung will have to shell out a couple more billions. Notwithstanding the steady courtroom, jibes, Apple still continues to ink deals with Samsung in the boardroom. Irony abounds!
Still, Samsung has its own problems, and they're not about the megapixels in their next camera.
People inside Samsung describe a state of crisis, abetted by a persistent fear that the company might lose everything at any moment. There are no breaks to celebrate wins; there's only what's next. The workplace is run by martinets. It's normal to see employees bow to their superiors. With little power vested in small teams, innovation entails going through a labyrinthine hierarchy to get approvals, and yet being coerced into rushing a product to the market, even if it's not truly first-rate, just like the unwieldy Galaxy Gear.
Never known for producing top-tier applications, Samsung has lately been panned for choking phones with slipshod apps that are, at best, show boats. Truly well designed, practical interfaces have been regular fair in organizations like Apple and Google. Samsung though is either yet to hire those developers or give them the laissez-faire to write elegant code. While an iPhone 5s or a Nexus 5 will never be manufactured ingenuously in Apple or Google, their operating system is coded to the T by the Americans. It's an open secret the installed software creates experiences; hardware is just a vessel to host it. Samsung puts together probably the best hardware available but the same can't be said for the software they push. Looking into the crystal ball, they want to ship devices with a home-grown operating system, creating a seamless experience for the user and maybe forgoing Google's Android in time. It is a far-fetched idea, one that is still a reverie, but first Bada and now Tizen are determined to get a foot in the door.
One of the people behind Samsung's new-fangled focus is David Eun, a Korean-American executive who has worked at AOL and Google. In a stroke of genius, he suggested that some top Samsung executives go round Silicon Valley and explore software's polestar.
The road trip proved illuminating. Samsung decided a base in Silicon Valley was in order if it truly wanted to compete with software giants.
Lee Kun-hee did not take long to execute perhaps his most ambitious move yet; trying to bring a bit of the Silicon Valley culture to Samsung. A 10-story building geared towards research, sprouting in the tony San Jose, a bold accelerator program and a little startup ethos are signs of things to come. They welcome the fading puritanism in the Korean powerhouse, and underpins that Samsung could really be onto what they've painted on a wall in their upcoming 1.1 million square feet office -- "The Next Big Thing."
This company has a canny knack of knowing where you are, what you're about to do next, when you leave for that meeting and for the club later in the evening.
It's extraordinary that a service which occupies so much mind share uses a an absolutely stark homepage. What seems like brilliant design now was actually born out of its creator's thirst for express searches and some ineptitude at HTML. Early tests on the website had users gawking at their screens, waiting for the page to load, which it already had, seconds ago. Simplicity is a feature and limited knowledge, a latent advantage.
What this spawned, over the next few years, was the true democratization of the Internet. As with most things, we did not know we needed better search before it became indispensable. We did not know that threaded conversations were better than disjointed emails. We wished for, but never knew that cars might seriously be driven by computers in a not so distant future.
This is Google. By their own proclamation, they do "cool stuff that matters" and prefer not being evil, a claim validated when they rent goats instead of lawn mowers to trim weed at the Googleplex, in an activity they say is both "cute" and "low-carbon."
It might not be best product possible when Google releases it, but they will iterate and hone it so quickly that version 1.0 would soon become a relic. The sheer speed and tenacity with which Google moves to augment functionalities and simplify interfaces is a study in itself. Every now and then, when you open Gmail, YouTube or Search itself, a revised look or a fresh feature appears, dissolves without a trace and cumulatively improves the quality of the service. Gmail was infact famously kept in beta even after it had been widely adopted. Chrome too, has quietly been through thirty-four iterations. Its innards have been tweaked and fine-tuned for an experience which Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox aren't capable of, despite a huge head start.
With Google, change is constant and happens fast; within two years Android has gone from clunky to elegant, Maps have been redesigned from the ground up, Drive, with peerless pricing has truly arrived, and good old search just keeps getting smarter.
Continuous improvement is precisely what separates the companies that stay relevant from those which don't. There's hardly any room for slack in organizations which are truly committed to their cause. People ask, 'Why fix it if it isn't broken?' To which I say, 'Why wait for it to break?' Why can't we honestly assess ourselves and work on our weaknesses? Didn't we learn that prevention is better than cure?
Design -- changing it before it breaks
Traditionally, Google was never known for excellent software or hardware design. That honour was always Apple's to enjoy. The summer of 2011 however, was going to wreck the status quo. Within a week of taking over as CEO, Larry Page got together the people in command and presented a vision of a revamped Google which is so delightful that searching for something seemed more like doing magic than using technology, one where all apps look consistent and speak the same design language. He called it "One Beautiful Google." They did not appoint a Jony Ive. Instead, they gave free rein to design leads and their teams to collaborate and concoct what they feel would appeal to the user. There were no design 'standards' to conform to. There was just an appeal -- to make it great.
Google's designers employed an enduring design trend called the card. These little white boxes of information are designed to serve up nuggets of information, display items of importance and strip away distracting gradients. Carrying neat typography and sharp icons, cards soon became a dominant design motif and made their way to Google+, Google Now and even Google Glass.
Always strutting its data-driven efforts, Google has been known to examine traffic logs to find out which of its 41 shades of blue garner the most clicks on the search results page. A rather progressive analysis of user data was carried out to design Gmail's new compose window which was going to sit in a corner instead of overlaying the inbox view. Designers burrowed into logs to grasp the average length of sentences and arrive at the right size of the window. They also realized that most people never used to format text, so they hid all those buttons for formatting inside one single button. Neat.
That Google really empowered its designers to create something new came to the fore during the inception of the intelligent mobile assistant Google Now. The key technologies for accomplishing this were well in place. What wasn't, was a way to articulate the reams of dynamic information. Here for the first time in Google's history, designers determined how a product would work. Teams from search, mapping and the likes worked together, prototyped and polished what turned out to be a truly remarkable interface for providing answers when you need them.
Google's approach to beautiful design is a company-wide thrust which is also rubbing off on Android and Chrome OS. The Chromebook Pixel is a another shining example of stellar industrial design with a price to match. The immensely popular Nexus family of devices on the other hand, is proof that good-looking, cutting edge devices can be sold at very attractive prices.
The design revolution at Google is real. There was never a better time to be a designer at Google.
Android -- it came, it saw, it conquered
The world's most used mobile operating system, loved by millions and the sole reason why a certain fruit company is bleeding. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to acquire Android, Eric Schmidt wasn't even in the know. Andy Rubin sold it off at a price so low that it has never been revealed.
It was one of those acquisitions which Google makes every week and would have probably gone unnoticed had it not made it big. The earliest version of Android was an experiment, a callow project, whose potential no one fully understood. HTC Hero, the first Android powered smartphone looked exactly like one of those devices from the time which stood up to the mighty iPhone only to be humiliated. Only a few sagacious minds said that Android could at least make a mark if not a crater. What Android did- created a crater, invited everyone to contribute to the party and presented free desserts to the rest of the world. Android advanced at breakneck speed, its features multiplying with every release and optimizations coming in thick and fast. Geeks loved its openness, Symbian users went gaga over the fluidity, iPhone users were hard to convert, but secretly admired the ability to customize a phone. Google knew it needed a Herculean effort to match the eloquence of iOS, let alone surpass it. Eventually, Android dethroned iOS in spectacular manner. The fledgling software, came of age; from a frail 1.5 Cupcake to the now mature 4.4.2 KitKat, and the difference between the two is like night and day.
Yes, the fragmentation issue is unsettling. It hurt the Android of yore terribly. Moving forward, a bit more benevolence from device manufacturers in issuing timely updates has greatly mellowed the din against the biggest F word for Android. Moreover, the latest version of Android is designed to run smoothly even on lower-end devices, bolstering its endeavor to have everyone on the same page and ease development.
Today Android represents the wide gamut of opportunities present in gadgets that had long been accepted as being far removed from computing. With Android Wear, Google is making a serious foray into wearable computers. Moto 360, running on Wear, looks like someone has finally cracked the smartwatch after several failed attempts. Expect to be notified of heavy traffic, unaccomplished fitness goals or cab reservations at a flick of the wrist. It won't take long to erect a sizable app selection for wearable tech given Google's affinity for open-source development. More importantly, unlike with Android, Google wouldn't have to work its tail off to stay ahead of the curve; it just created the curve. Android Wear gives it a real shot at transforming more electric gadgets into electronic ones.
What Google has created from Android is unmatched. They have shaped a malleable operating system which is free for all and can be installed on everything from refrigerators to game consoles. Everything is tied into one giant ecosystem and controlled from simple gestures or voice commands. That is one big inroad into obtaining the keys to the future.
Having their cake and eating it too
While Google strives to sharpen existing products, it never loses the foresight to work on some completely offbeat projects which might have no connection with their current line of businesses. Called 'moonshot' projects by Page and conceived at the clandestine Google X Labs, this is where Google aims to generate truly disruptive ideas. Google Glass, driver-less cars, robots and internet delivery via balloons are dogged about creating reality from fiction. They are harbingers of tomorrow. Thermostats, drones, watches -- seemingly humble devices are being thrown into the web of boundless power. They are a peek into the future -- crazy ideas which could be called brilliant inventions in hindsight. As Internet companies like Amazon and Google start infiltrating markets with tangible products, it is becoming clear that they want to interact with customers at a more personal level. This isn't just organizing information and making it easily accessible, it's much more.
When the air conditioners and ovens in our households finally start talking to our mobile devices, it wouldn't be a battle for supremacy between a Hitachi or a Siemens but instead between companies whose customers are connected to the Internet. It is an opportunity for anyone to grab, yet very few tech companies seem genuinely interested. Imagine asking your self-driven car to open the door to your house, ignite the fireplace, set off ambient lighting and park itself in the garage when you return home from a busy day at work. Sounds like a ton of convenience, but in Google's world, we're barely scratching the surface of technological dexterity.
Google knows when to acquire a company and when to retire an existing service. The Nest acquisition was perfectly timed. Motorola's acquisition did not exactly turn out to be a money-spinner, but it did give them rights to an enviable dossier of patents which won't be leaving their hands even after Lenovo overtakes Motorola. Likewise, it is swift when it comes to shutting down services which never really took off or are no longer relevant, allowing them to focus on stuff that really matters.
For a company whose revenues have grown multiple folds on the back of targeted advertising across all its services, it is but natural that at some point, these had to begin feeling intrusive. The adage goes 'If you're not paying for a product, you are the product being sold'. Truth is, ads have been here since before the dawn of electronic media and are here to stay. Commercial breaks have been fed to us since time immemorial. Brands pay millions every year for a few seconds of presence at the Superbowl. The only difference between online and offline advertising is that the former can be made relevant to each user. Therein, lies the key to making ads likable. An example -- if a search for a 'Blue striped polo' throws up sponsored results from e-commerce websites where I have a history of making purchases and am inclined to again, ads are helping me out and I am all in. However, if the sponsored results are sprinkled with bleak, obscure websites which I've never heard of and which can't guarantee good service, the chorus against advertising will just get shriller. Tailor ads to really be helpful, make them more personal and meaningful, and attitudes will change.
At the moment, Google is hard at work to make our lives easier, more connected and rather enjoyable. This has always been a company with a proclivity towards the human touch to keep its customers smiling. This becomes evident with those clever easter eggs, well-timed doodles for very occasion and impassioned product videos; the one which tells the story of a reunion of two childhood friends separated during the partition of India and Pakistan really warms the cockles of the heart.
There are many things which sets Google apart from its contemporaries. Beneath it's facade of a crusading Silicon Valley giant, it has got happy (and well-fed) employees which make it happen. It fosters innovation and has been continuously rated as one of the best places to work for. Despite an enviable suite of services Google is more than just a sum of its parts. It understands the power in people and their potential impact on technology like no one else.
It is often said that on the Internet, nothing is too big. Everything eventually crumbles and makes way for new order. But what if one held the keys to the future and the resources to start working on it today. That is Google, and the future belongs to them.
Mudit is an engineer, analyst and writer. Register for the soon to be launched ProsePot.com
Yongjun Min: How Korean Media Got The Ferry Tragedy All Wrong 2014-04-17
On Wednesday 16, Korean media broadcasted the news about the sinking of the ferry in Jindo during the whole day. It was horrible. And the current state of Korean media is as horrible as the news.
The HBO series "The Newsroom" is about people who produce news. This TV show, which realistically conveys the atmosphere of a newsroom centered around well-known anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), gives the impression of witnessing how real news is made through the integration of actual contemporary events. In doing so, it explores the value of fairness in televised journalism.
I think the most impressive scene was the ending of the first season's fourth episode, which depicts the process of collecting information and preparing the news broadcast following a sudden shooting that occurred one weekend in Arizona. The essence of this breaking news is the fact that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot while attending an event. As the shooting is reported on the radio, all cable news channels start to do a follow up on her death, and Will's newsroom starts to buzz as well. Yet the staff merely observe the situation and gird themselves for the official confirmation of her death instead of joining the other media's series of newsflashes on inaccurate pieces of information. But the broadcasting station's president's young son starts to press them about why they are not officially announcing Gifford's death, and he even storms into the newsroom in the midst of newscast. Then a staff member says, "It is a person's life. It is not the news but the doctor who should announce it." Finally we learn that the other media outlets carried a false report as the hospital announces that Giffords is still alive and undergoing surgery. McAvoy's newsroom has a chance to report the truth only by being patient and fact-checking the information.
It was a tough day, and another tough day continues. Since the morning of the 16, news reported the sinking of a ferry in the sea around Jindo. Around 10 am, a government brief announced that a total of 477 passengers were on board this Jindo-bound ferry, including 325 students of Danwon High School who were on a school trip. It was agonizing just to hear about it. Fortunately the follow-up news reported that all the students would be rescued, and at around 11 am the students' parents received text messages that they all had been. Further news, however, announced that this previous report was false.
The number of missing persons continued to change, and even the total number of passengers began to appear unclear. The government's announcement of the number of missing persons behaved like a rubber-band, increasing at one moment and decreasing at another. Accordingly, the media continued to correct their initial figures. The worst situation occurred at around 4:30 pm. The media corrected the number of rescues from 368 to 164, cutting the initial number in half, following the discovery of an error in counting. Not much progress has been made regarding the number of further rescues since this dreadful news had drowned people's hope for a fully successful rescue operation. As if encouraging this dark premonition, night set in, and my heart continued to sink.
A reporter sullenly expressed complaints that the government's data had never been so inaccurate. But was the government's data the only problem? The media race to report on the event, which started around 10 am, was widely inaccurate.
Without exception, online and television news, including public broadcast and cable channels, put up the sign "breaking news" for all information received from the scene of the tragic events in Jindo. All reported on the government's announcement. No one asked any questions. The will to report was stronger than the will to know. The speed of information was more important than its accuracy. It seemed like there were no reporters, only stenographers. The present state of media clearly came into view. Jindo became a battlefield for a media competing for breaking news and accelerated by online news portals. In the meantime, unspeakable things started appearing in the press under the guise of an accurate report. An article of The Etoday, inconceivably entitled "Titanic, Poseidon, and What Other Movies of Boating Accidents?" was published around 2.40 pm and swiftly denounced by the public. It didn't matter. For it was an "abusive" article that sought to attract more traffic by being controversial. In 15 minutes this media outlet displayed its full identity as media by publishing another article with the scandalous headline "SKT Sends Relief and Installs a Temporary Base-Station 'Handsome~Handsome'" (translator's note: SKT is a telecommunications company and "Handsome~Handsome" is the title of a song in one of their well-known commercials). The article has since been deleted.
On the other hand, a few internet media outlets started delivering articles focusing on the ferry's insurance coverage. Chosun.com released an article with the headline "Sewol Ferry's Insurance: Dongbu Insurance for Students and Meritz Marine Insurance for the Ferry." As if encouraged by these online articles, the public broadcasting company MBC reported a detailed analysis of how much compensation for the loss could be claimed based on the insurance policy. Such reports could have given rise to conspiracy theories about the sinking being a form of product placement for the insurance company. On the same day, News 9 of JTBC began with a long apology by the anchorman Suk-hee Son: "Today many audience members took offense at some questions that our reporter asked a rescued student during the news of the ferry's sinking. No excuses and explanations will be necessary. As a senior anchor and the chief executive of the news department, it is my fault that I didn't relay what I had learned to junior anchors. My sincere apologies." His apology felt like a ray of sunshine in the middle of the news media's daylong battle for fast information on Wednesday. Media's responsibility to acknowledge errors and apologize for them is as important as the imperative of impartial reporting. At least News 9, or at least Suk-hee Son stood up to that responsibility. How fortunate."We have to recover media. We have to make it an honorable profession again. We have to make sure that the evening news delivers information and provides a discussion forum suiting a great country and that it recognizes and respects etiquette and thus returns to its original mission. Forget the superficial, no more gossip or voyeurism. Deliver the truth to the public even if they are blind -- not the story people want to hear. Let the media become what binds us together."
These are lines from "The Newsroom". Ironically, today's Korean media behaves in a different way. Something horrible happened, and the media delivers the news. Before relaying the truth, however, a hideous tendency takes over. Their inaccurate reporting tramples on the wounded victims. We are still waiting to hear the information we want to know, yet incorrect information is rashly offered instead.
Somebody's tragedy becomes a show, sold and used up in a second. It appears as if all media outlets were on the same page because they were all shameless. The behavior of the press on Wednesday was no better than selling goods on the shelves of online shopping malls and home shopping channels. There was no courtesy for the news' source nor for its readers. Jindo was struck by a salesman's desire to sell anything. On social networks, reporters were called "Giregi" in mockery, which is a neologism of "gija" (reporter) and "ssuregi" (garbage). It is an attack that summarizes the current state of Korean media, a bitter analogy of how language is used and abused for the sake of profit.
The film "Good Night, and Good Luck" directed by George Clooney is about Edward R. Murrow, CBS's famous news broadcaster. He never gave up on the voice of truth during the wave of McCarthyism in America during the 1940s and was a persistent, contributing factor when Joseph McCarthy stepped down. Murrow said, "TV can teach us. It may even enlighten us and inspire us. But in order for it to do so, we must use it for that purpose. Otherwise, TV is nothing but a stupid box." It is always apparent that media must pursue truth. But pursuing truth requires resolution and ability. For the process of approaching truth is not possible through merely planning and aiming for justice. People in today's society are surrounded by many languages. They share all sorts of information via smart phones and see events all over the world. But being able to assess all this information is an individual responsibility.
The reader knows, can know, or must know. It is not only media that produces gossip. Delivering public information that potentially has a great influence on individuals' lives, which is commonly known as "the right to know," is the purpose of journalistic media. The most important thing is whether media is functioning properly or not. Next is whether we are capable of assessing the information it reports. As important as the appearance of a media with convictions might be the public itself who can make sure the media stays true to its mission.
Edward Murrow remarks, "To persuade others, you must be trusted; to be trusted, you must inspire confidence; and to inspire confidence, you must be honest." It is ideal that the public and media trust one another. A society that features a trustworthy media and a supportive public can move forward. And we can and must find better values. News is still being reported from Jindo. I just saw the news that the second part of the search has begun. We must not give up hope. Media must become a newsstand that banks on the public's desire for hope. Please promise to do your best today. Do not drive for simple gossip but for the truth that is necessary for everyone. Make the mere show go away.
Above all, I earnestly hope for the long-awaited news of further rescues. I pray.
And my warmest tribute to the memory of the deceased.
This post has been translated from Korean and was originally published on HuffPost Korea.
Michael Shank: Ukraine Diplomatic Deal: Necessary Next Steps 2014-04-17
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) urges Congress, the Obama administration and policymakers throughout the European Union to adopt policies toward the Ukraine crisis that deescalate the conflict while providing a constructive path forward. The diplomatic deal struck this week by diplomats from the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, who agreed to a framework plan designed to end violence in Ukraine, is a very positive step in the right direction.
As with many intractable conflicts and violence, the root cause of the conflict has to do with unmet basic human needs, whether identity-related or economically-related or other. Ukraine's political and economic institutions have struggled for years to provide sustainable livelihoods for its population, including Crimea's, making the country vulnerable to instability and susceptible to violence. Western engagement with economic aid should be focused on constructively supporting and strengthening the country's indigenous institutions and markets.
Beyond economic aid to Ukraine and other Eastern European nations, we have identified four overarching themes that should be reinforced and reaffirmed by Congress and the administration.
Uphold International Law
Russian President Vladimir Putin contravened international law in taking control of Crimea. But if the international community wants to ensure that international law is upheld going forward it must do a better job of holding all actors accountable. Calling for accountability in Putin's case requires the international community to also call for accountability in cases involving the U.S. government, current and recent. That means that the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq (which occurred without the support of the U.N. Security Council), Libya, Yemen and others, must be held to the same western standard that we are now holding Putin. For more on this, please read "Ukraine and the Crisis of International Law" by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.
The recent history of the United States and other governments supporting secessionist movements has further confused the international precedent in the case of Ukraine. Examples include the U.S. support for Somaliland and Puntland in Somalia and efforts to undermine sovereign Somalia and their government in Mogadishu -- as well as the West's support for changing borders in South Sudan, Kosovo, Falklands, Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and Kashmir -- must also be questioned and evaluated with the same rigor and regulations applied to Russia's moves in Crimea. Deescalate Military Momentum The Friends Committee on National Legislation is very supportive of the diplomatic deal that was struck this month to disarm, and provide amnesty for, separatist militants operating in eastern Ukraine. This is very positive nonmilitary move in the direction of de-escalation. Relatedly, FCNL does not support the expansion of NATO forces in Eastern Europe. The call for increased NATO presence is primarily coming from Washington and the NATO member states are not unified on this approach. While Eastern European countries, such as Poland and some Baltic states, are understandably concerned about Russian aggression, expanding NATO involvement will put their countries at greater risk of violence and instability, not less.
The European Union has a substantial number of contracts and financial commitments in Russia that give these countries a huge stake in, and influence over, the continued negotiations. Given the strength of these economic ties, this network provides a basis for actions to encourage and, if necessary, apply pressure for a long-term solution to the Ukraine crisis.
Sanctions are often viewed as the best instrument to force a change in policy, but sanctions can force the sanctioned country to be more recalcitrant rather than more compliant (as many in the West publicly assume would happen with tougher sanctions). Germany's 6,000-strong business ties to Russia, for example, should be utilized to encourage constructive Russian action going forward. Incentivizing good political behavior often goes far further, in getting the desired action, than castigation from the international community.
Transition off Fossil Fuels Western Europe's partial reliance on Russian natural gas for its energy portfolio has led some public officials in the United States to call on Washington to supplant Russian gas with U.S. gas and crude oil. A move like this, which would take years to materialize, would increase fracking throughout America and increase America's carbon footprint -- thanks to energy- and-carbon-intensive crude oil. There is a reason why many of these exports have been banned up until this point. A careless and quick removal of that ban, then, is ill-advised.
The European reliance on Russia also should not be overstated. Germany, for example, imports roughly 35 percent of its gas from Russia (one of the largest European importers of Russian gas) but Germany's overall gas use makes up only 11 percent of its total energy portfolio. Germany, furthermore, is quickly transitioning to renewable energy sources, maintains some of the most aggressive targets in the E.U., and will soon no longer need gas imports on par with current precedent.
Rather than seeking to increase fossil fuel dependence, the U.S. government could use this opportunity to stress the importance of building up a renewable energy infrastructure, which will offer a more sustainable future politically, financially, and, of course, environmentally. For more on how and why this should be done, please read "Ukraine Crisis Underscores Need for Renewables Push" by Michael Shank and former U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan.
Support Multi-Track Diplomacy The only long-term solution to this crisis will come through diplomacy. The most important next step is developing increased communication across all available channels, among actors in Washington and Brussels and Moscow and everyone in between. This is an all-hands-on-deck diplomatic situation. While President Obama and President Putin started talking this month, much more dialogue is needed. Additionally, Secretary of State John Kerry's conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offer some solid foundation for continued conversation but, at present, remain insufficient. Comparing the present situation to the Cold War is unhelpful.
Going forward, the U.S. and the E.U. should engage public and private sector stakeholders who have pre-existing relationships with Russian counterparts to make fertile the ground for continued political diplomatic discussions and deal making. It requires business, civil society, religious and academic communities to leverage their cross-boundary ties for the benefit of Eastern Europeans who face instability and insecurity. The time is now before violence escalates, positions harden, and the conflict becomes completely intractable. For more on ways in which the West can defuse this crisis, please read "How to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis."
The other "step" that we think is needed is emergency, short-term economic assistance to Ukraine. Ukraine's economy was unstable before Crimea; it may now be on verge of a complete collapse. In addition to aid, the U.S. could suspend all import tariffs from Ukraine for the next two years and urge the E.U. to do the same. Other direct economic assistance may also be needed.
FCNL's Associate Director for Legislative Affairs, Michael Shank, recently participated in a high-level U.S.-E.U. transatlantic dialogue in Germany and Poland, sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German foundation, on the crisis in Ukraine and how the West should deal with Russia going forward. Since that trip, Michael Shank has been writing regularly on the conflict, suggesting alternatives and nonviolent solutions to this crisis.
Olivia Cole: Why Steve Harvey Needs To Have A Seat 2014-04-17
As Mimi Faust and Nikko Smith's sex tape makes the rounds on the Internet, I knew it was only a matter of time before the policing began. Sure enough, yesterday, a friend posted a recording of Steve Harvey on the radio, in which he earnestly advised "young women" against the making of sex tapes, etc.
The excerpt of his little speech that I heard begins with him explaining that the Internet is forever, and how what gets put online stays online forever. Case in point. And while it's true that many people -- young or not -- lack full understanding of the permanence of the Internet and how nothing can ever be truly erased, I already have a problem with the direction this sermon is going because..."young women?" Now, I haven't actually seen Mimi and Nikko's sex tape, but from what I understand... it's a sex tape with Mimi and Nikko. Not Mimi. Mimi and Nikko.
Steve Harvey-types view women and sex through the lens that misogyny has provided for centuries: The lens that renders men invisible when there is an instance of shame being doled out. Casual sex, unwed pregnancy; centuries of misogyny dictate that it only takes one to tango; that the shame of "illicit" sex falls squarely on the shoulders of one and not two. And those shoulders always belong to a woman. When it comes to wagging a finger or calling someone a whore for premarital sexual activity, the man involved somehow dematerializes into a puff of smoke, leaving the woman to bear the brunt of society's scorn alone.
In the radio recording, Steve Harvey goes on to rail against the Internet: "The Internet has become a playground for evildoers. You sit up and you listen to somebody and all the sudden they're making decisions and comments about you and they never even met you."
He then adds: "Please young women out there, think of yourself... think about what people will say about you when you're not around; stuff people will say behind your back."
What's annoying about Steve Harvey is that he delivers these little gems under the guise of being interested in the empowerment/protection of women and girls. A thin guise, I might add. Harvey warns girls about the backlash they will receive from random people on the Internet if they participate in a sex tape, but isn't Harvey pretty much exactly that: A random voice on the Internet/TV/radio making comments about girls and women he's "never even met?" He cautions us about the shame we will receive if we dare make a sex tape, but uses the same shame as the tool to keep us from doing it. Shamed if you do; shamed if you don't. According to Harvey, women's lives should be dictated by the expectations and presumptions of others. Our bodies are not our own: We exist at the will of laws perpetuated by people like Steve Harvey, who would have us covering our ankles in the name of modesty. Harvey isn't interested in empowering us; he only wants to lay red tape in tight boxes around us in his effort to corral us into his idea of the ideal woman.
And Steve Harvey's ideal woman is exactly what you would expect, fitting neatly into the virgin/whore dichotomy that has plagued women for lifetimes. "You're not here for sex," Harvey says in the recording. "You're here for life. God didn't create you for sex."
And why not? Why are we not here for sex? Isn't it part of life? But more importantly, how did this conversation go from talking about sex tapes to sex in general? It's one thing to say "Hey boys and girls, sex tapes are forever. It may be sexy now, but you may not want the whole world seeing that in ten years." Sure. Fair facts. But that's not enough for Harvey, and for some reason, he seems incapable of addressing boys. Only girls. Rather than using the Mimi and Nikko sex tape as a teachable moment about privacy, permanence and the longevity of Internet decisions, Harvey can't resist transforming that moment into a diatribe about shame and God's plan for women's bodies.
You see, those who are truly interested in empowering women and girls use different words. Instead of "Think of the horrible things people will say about you," people who are truly interested in empowering women and girls say, "Don't worry about what people say. You are autonomous." Instead of, "You weren't put here for sex," people who are truly interested in empowering women and girls say, "Sex is one of many beautiful parts of life when it is consensual. You can have as much or as little of it as you want; just protect yourself." These are the words we use when we seek to empower girls and women. The kind of shaming tactics Steve Harvey employs are not only tired, patriarchal regurgitations, but they fly in the face of actual women's empowerment and turn "sex" and "women" into painful opposites that should have nothing to do with another. And everything else aside: men and boys are still absent from Harvey's lecture.
This has all been written about before. Extensively. Yet, Steve Harvey still added this to the end of his little speech:You're putting your most precious gift out on display. For a pearl, you gotta dive to the bottom of the ocean... Ain't no diamonds laying on top of the earth: they don't grow like corn... This thing every man got to have: your body. Your precious jewel. You're sitting on a gold mine. Please act like it, young ladies. Act like you're sitting on a gold mine. Because it is what every man is after. And we will pay dearly for it.
Is anybody else creeped out? Is anybody else extremely uncomfortable about the fact that Steve Harvey is telling girls that they should treat their vaginas like a means of currency, because men will "pay dearly for it"? Let me tell you a few things, Mr. Harvey. I'll put them in bullet points so you don't miss anything:
Women's vaginas are not our most precious gift. Our minds, our souls, our personalities, are far more precious and will do more for us in our lives than the so-called gold mine between our legs. In fact, for vaginas to be gold mines, they don't bring us much gold just sitting down there being vaginas. Ever heard of women's struggle for equal pay? Come on, Steve. Diamonds aren't that f*cking great. In fact, they're intrinsically worthless. Their value is based on artificial scarcity, a system created by tycoons who seek to propagate the belief of their rarity to increase their worth. It's almost like the idea of chastity. Chew on that. If women "aren't here for sex," yet it's the thing that "every man wants," then does that mean that men are here for sex? Why would "God" make men for sex and not women? That seems silly. No, it doesn't seem silly. It is. Nikko was in the sex tape too. Where's your sermon for him? Aren't men and boys' bodies just as valuable? Is their sex not also precious?
Steve Harvey's explicit advice to young women is that when it comes to our sexual activity, we should think before we act -- before we "give it away" -- because "think of what people will say about us behind our backs." And when it comes to a society that makes women's bodies and what women do with them a matter of scorn and shame, Steve Harvey knows which side he's on: The side that does the scorning and the shaming. His critique looks no further: It stops at the young women who are held prisoner by this ideology. He does not criticize the ideology itself; rather, he upholds it.
Steve Harvey is not interested in empowering or protecting young women. Instead, he joins the likes of Tyler Perry, Tyrese and Chey B, who sit on their towering soap boxes making money off policing the lives and bodies of women. Write a book about young boys for once, Mr. Harvey, if you want to impress me; write a book about rape culture and the way we teach young men that women's bodies are trophies, objects, status symbols, commodities.
Oh, wait. You already know. Because with all your jabbering about gold mines and diamonds and precious jewels, you're doing the teaching. The woman, Mimi, that you are criticizing is doing exactly what you suggest. You said what's between our legs is a gold mine, right? Isn't Mimi set to make a gold mine from this sex tape? Oh, but that's not what you meant, right? A little too much autonomy, mixed with too little care for "what people say behind her back." Have a seat, Mr. Harvey. Have this one. Or this one. Or this one. Just make sure you choose a sturdy chair, because times are changing: Women see through your crap and we're not here for it. Get comfortable. You may be sitting for a long time.
David Katz, M.d.: Of Salt, Saltation And Salience: The Case For Fixing What's Broken 2014-04-17
We have long had abundant reason to believe that most of us living in the modern world consume too much sodium and would benefit from consuming less. But whether the topic is salt, or saturated fat, or calories, or even the health effects of consuming vegetables and fruits -- saltation (the jumping from one position to another) seems to be the prevailing inclination in modern nutrition. Certainly it is the inclination that predominates in the popular press. Salt is just the latest nutrient to get caught up in that proclivity.
This isn't the first time salt claimed its 15 minutes of notoriety. Just less than a year ago, I was prompted to address this issue by an IOM report questioning the gospel of "less is better" with regard to sodium intake. Two recent studies compel me to revisit the topic now. For those who like the punch line up front, I can tell you my conclusion is much as it was. I remain convinced that most of us consume too much salt, and would benefit from reducing our intake. And yes, of course, it's possible to consume too little.
Of the two recent studies on salt intake and health outcomes, predictably the one that challenged the prevailing view garnered more media attention. That study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension in early April, was a meta-analysis examining sodium intake in populations around the world and its association with both all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.
The authors concluded that mortality and heart disease rates were higher among those with both low and high sodium intake, and lower for those with intake in the middle range. Because dietary guidelines from the relevant authorities, including the IOM, the CDC, and the USDA all emphasize a reduction in our customarily excessive salt intake, the more provocative message in this study was the potential danger in consuming too little. So "salt guidelines are too low" was the common pop culture assessment.
But there are a few problems with that conclusion. First, as the study authors stated, the increased risks of both heart disease and mortality were greater with high sodium intake, than with low. So if we were ranking our concerns based on this study alone, excess sodium would still be the bigger problem.
Second, the authors noted their meta-analysis was based almost entirely on observational, not intervention, trials. This meant studies simply looked at variation in sodium intake and compared that to variation in health outcomes. Studies like that beg the question: What accounted for the sodium variation in the first place? Some health conscious people may have a very low intake of sodium, but others likely to land there are people with maladies affecting the heart or kidneys, people who are under-nourished for any reason, and so on. The authors attempted to account for such considerations, but acknowledged a limited ability to do so. In other words, this study had limited capacity to tell us whether low sodium intake resulted in poor health, or whether poor health resulted in low sodium intake. Chances are there was some of both in the mix.
The more recent study, just published online in the British Medical Journal, took headlines in the opposite direction: Too much sodium is the problem after all. For this study, investigators tracked dietary patterns, including sodium intake, and sodium excretion, in representative samples of the population of England. Over the past decade, they tracked a number of dietary changes, and conducted analyses to determine the association of each with health outcomes. The particularly noteworthy findings were a reduction in sodium intake and excretion, associated with a population-wide reduction in mean blood pressure, in turn associated with a marked reduction in the mortality rate from both stroke and heart disease.
This study is subject to limitations of its own. But it does not suffer the problem of temporal association that bedevils the first. The gist is clear: A population-wide reduction in sodium intake over the past decade is almost certainly at least part of the reason for a population-wide reduction in blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality.
But conclusions about sodium in our diets should not be based on any one study, whatever its strengths or weaknesses, but rather the overall weight of evidence. That remains rather clear. Average sodium intake levels in the U.S. and much of the modernized world are higher than advised. Intervention studies, such as DASH, that have lowered levels to approximate prevailing guidelines, have lowered blood pressure as a result. Blood pressure reduction in turn has been strongly and consistently associated with reduced risk of both heart disease and stroke.
But there is more. Paleo diet enthusiasts rightly note that our native dietary intake pattern is likely to be "good" for us, since it is the pattern to which we are adapted. That adaptation is a powerful influence -- it's why koala bears should eat eucalyptus leaves, and lions should eat wildebeest. It stands to reason that adaptation is relevant to our species as well. There are many implications of "native" eating for Homo sapiens, but one of them is a much higher intake of potassium than sodium. The modern diet typically reverses this ratio. Arguments for sodium reduction thus derive from both modern science, and paleoanthropology.
Finally, the source of sodium is a relevant consideration. Roughly 80 percent of the sodium in the typical American diet comes not from personal use of a salt shaker, but from salt processed into our food before ever we get our hands on it. This implies that sodium intake tends to come down with consumption of less processed foods overall. While reduced sodium intake is likely beneficial in such context, the context of a less processed diet is apt to be beneficial in a variety of ways. With sodium, as with other nutrients of concern, if we get the foods and dietary pattern right, nutrients tend to take care of themselves.
Of course, the contention that we should reduce ambient sodium intake not by focusing on sodium, but by eating "food, not too much, mostly plants," invites the customary rebuttals: That's elitist, unrealistic, too expensive, and too hard. I disagree with these assertions and have addressed them in very practical terms. My group has studied the costs of trading up to better, less-processed, and among other things, less-salty options in any given food category, and found that it can generally be done without spending more money. We have developed and studied a nutrition guidance system and a free food label literacy program, showing that both can help people get there from here. Of importance to everyone who isn't a card-carrying member of the foodie elite, it is possible to trade up nutrition (and dial down sodium) without swapping out chips for chard; it's possible to make meaningful progress by eating better chips.
Sodium is an essential nutrient; of course we could, in principle, eat too little. We could, as well, drink too much water. Or exercise too much. Or sleep excessively. Or spend too much time fortifying bonds of friendship. I suppose we might devote too much of each day to hugging.
But really, what are the odds? We sleep and hug too little, work and stress too much. The theoretical dangers of overshooting are not a good reason to neglect what is currently broken.
Average sodium intake in the U.S. hovers well about 3,000 mg per day. While there is legitimate debate about health effects at levels below 2,300 mg per day, there is little about levels between here and there. Just to hit the targets in which we do have confidence, we have a long way to go. So it seems very premature to start encouraging people to worry about overshooting.
The prevailing fashion in nutrition, if not all of health news, is contrarianism. Cutting back on salt was yesterday's news. If today's news were the same as yesterday's news, we might not be confused, and desperately in need of tomorrow's news to help sort it all out. We can't have that! So as never before, contrarians and iconoclasts own the headlines.
But they don't really own the science, which is, as ever, a product of the gradual accumulation of data and genuine understanding over time -- not the single study that grabs 15 minutes in the spotlight. And they don't own our common sense -- which should tell us that worrying about doing too much is not a good reason to avoid doing enough.
The saltatory headlines notwithstanding, an excess of sodium is the salient, clear, and present danger for modern societies. While allowing for the hypothetical hazards of going too far, we should focus for now on fixing what we know to be broken.
Dr. David L. Katz is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Childhood Obesity, and President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is the author of Disease Proof, and most recently, of the epic novel, reVision.
Dr. David L. Katz is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Childhood Obesity, and President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is the author of Disease Proof, and most recently, of the epic novel, reVision.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-David-L-Katz/114690721876253 http://twitter.com/DrDavidKatz http://www.linkedin.com/pub/david-l-katz-md-mph/7/866/479/
Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Best-selling Author Jackie Collins 2014-04-17
Tonight on PBS, I have a conversation with one of the world's most successful writers, Jackie Collins. She started writing as a teen and, since then, has sold more than 500 million copies of her books in more than 40 countries and had 29 best-sellers, many of which have been adapted for the big or small screens. Collins reflects on her longevity as a novelist and previews her seventh book in the Lucky Santangelo series, Confessions of a Wild Child, and her new cookbook inspired by the heroine, The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook. In the clip below, Collins details the three things one has to have in order to write a novel.
For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley tonight on PBS. Check out our website for your local TV listings: http://www.pbs.org/tavis.
Neal M. Blitz, D.p.m., F.a.c.f.a.s.: Eli Manning's Ankle Arthroscopy And Prognosis -- A Foot Surgeon's Perspective 2014-04-17
As a New York City Foot Surgeon, I want to provide some insight on Eli Manning's "arthroscopic ankle debridement" surgery that was performed. The surgery has sparked concerns that his better days may be behind him. Of course, any surgery on a pro-athlete poses a threat to continue playing at high level. Before anyone can call it quits for Manning, its best to understand the surgery he had performed and what that really means in terms of recovery.
What is Ankle Arthroscopy Debridement?
Eli had a very common orthopedic procedure called an arthroscopy. It involves accessing a joint through very small incisions with the aid of surgical cameras and shavers. In Mannings case, the joint involved was the ankle.
The most common reasons a surgeon performs an ankle arthroscopy is to remove scar tissue -- a procedure called a debridement. Scar tissue forms from a variety of reasons -- most surrounding trauma to the ankle after sprains. Scar tissue can be in the form of thick bands inside the ankle that interfere with motion and cause pain.
Other reasons patients undergo ankle arthroscopy is to treat bone cysts and simple cartilage problems. Bone spurs can also be removed arthroscopically and in some occasions loose ligaments can be tightened.
The main benefit of performing arthroscopic surgery is that it is mildly invasive when compared to procedures where the joint is fully opened up.
What has been released with regard to Manning is that he had a "debridement" but what was not clear if he had scar tissue debridement alone or required bone debridement and/or ligament tightening.
A High Ankle Sprain: The Underlying Cause.
It seems that the underlying injury that prompted the ankle arthroscopy was a high ankle sprain. Its important to know that high ankle sprain is different than a regular (low) ankle sprain.
The ankle is made up three bones -- two leg bones (tibia and fibula) and one foot bone (talus). There are ligaments that hold the ankle stable on the inside and outside. The ligaments on the outside that are more commonly injured with typical "low" ankle sprains. A high ankle sprain has the characteristics of a "low" ankle sprain, but also involve a thick strong band that holds the leg bones together -- which is a more serious injury, also called a syndesmotic injury.
Acute high ankle sprain can vary in severity -- from mild to severe. Mild sprains can be treated with a period of immobilization, whereas severe injuries require more immediate surgery. The surgery for severe syndesmotic injury involves bolting the two leg bones together at the ankle -- something that was not necessary for Eli Manning when he had the injury.
Chronic ankle pain from syndesmotic injuries and ankle sprains is often caused by scar tissue within the ankle joint itself. Some people may develop instability of the ankle syndesmotic ligaments or ankle ligaments proper. Occasionally bone bruises and cysts arise that can be considered precursors to arthritis.
Prognosis After Ankle Arthroscopic Debridement
Depending on the indications for arthroscopic ankle surgery the prognosis varies. Removing scar tissue, the most common reason for ankle arthroscopy, often holds an excellent prognosis. Once the scar tissue is removed and the joint is rehabbed, patients can return to pre-surgery levels. This seems like Mannings situation.
However, if the high ankle sprain resulted in more damage to the strong ligaments between the leg bones then the recovery is less predictable. This is usually the case with severe syndesmotic injuries that require surgery immediately -- again not the case with Manning.
Its unclear if Manning was dealing with any instability issues. If he was, this may have been addressed in his arthroscopy, but severe cases of instability require more advanced procedures.
So, based on the information released, it may be a bit early to call it quits for Manning...
~~ Dr. Neal Blitz New York City
To learn more about Dr. Blitz, and bunion surgery NYC, please visit bunionsurgeryny.com.
Circle +NealBlitz on Google +
Arianna Huffington: Congrats, Graduates: Now Go Out There And Redefine Success 2014-04-17
We're coming up on one of my favorite times of the year: that time, just after spring breaks out but before summer begins, in which thousands of college graduates are released into the world. And as they go forth we give them advice, lots of advice. The advice varies, sometimes conflicts, but the general idea is: Here is what you need to know in order to succeed in the world. I've given a few of these speeches myself. Indeed, Thrive grew out of a commencement speech I gave last year at Smith College.
This year my book tour is taking me to a lot of colleges, and my first piece of advice is to start by defining success for yourself -- by being clear about what you want, what you value and what you are about. But before we can do that, we need to clear away the noise of the world to be able to truly listen to ourselves. And to do that, we need to abandon, or at least mitigate, some of the worst practices of the adult world that students are already mired in: burnout, sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety. And from that place of greater wisdom and perspective, graduates will be infinitely more effective at all the things they want to master: overcoming fears, taking risks, improving confidence, networking effectively, getting the job they want, getting a higher salary, etc.
This is all the more important because this generation is starting out their adult lives burdened with multiple deficits. To take the most obvious one, the total amount of student loan debt is now $1.2 trillion (greater than the total amount of credit card debt).
Graduating with this kind of burden would be overwhelming even if today's graduates were entering a robust job market, but of course they are not. Indeed, the effective unemployment rate (which factors in those who have given up looking for jobs) for those aged 18 to 29 is nearly 16 percent. For African Americans in that age bracket, it's nearly 24 percent.
It's no wonder that 14 percent of 24- to 34-year-olds are still living with their parents. It's not just because they can't find a job; half of those living with Mom and Dad are employed full-time.
Of course, thriving is about more than just financial and professional success. And there are few signposts for those in college encouraging a culture of well-being and taking care of our human capital.
Among those 18 to 29 years old, nearly half don't get the amount of sleep they need. We know that lack of sleep increases stress, but then stress also makes it hard to sleep. And according to the Journal of Adolescent Health, stress keeps 68 percent of students up at night.
"I sleep only three hours a night, and I can't keep doing it," a student told me at the Harvard School of Public Health last week. "And you are telling me something I had known all along: that it is OK to sleep, that it is OK to give time for the little things in life."
It's a vicious cycle that has made millennials our most stressed demographic, according to the American Psychological Association. And nearly 40 percent of millennials reported their stress increasing in the year before this 2012 study. But only 17 percent said they get "a lot or a great deal" of help in dealing with their stress.
We hear a lot about the dangers of binge drinking on campus (and rightly so), but much less about the effects of stress and sleep deprivation among students -- including the connection between stress and binge drinking and depression. But the evidence is all too visible. Today 44 percent of American college students say they've had symptoms of depression. And a 2011 study from the American College Health Association found that around 30 percent felt "so depressed that it was difficult to function" at some point in the previous year.
And the trend line is going in the wrong direction. According to a study in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, the number of college students suffering from depression doubled between 1988 and 2003. Screening for Mental Health found that from 2005 to 2010, depression grew in 18- to 25-year-olds by 17 percent.
Even worse, the likelihood of suicidal thoughts tripled from 1988 to 2003. In fact, we lose more than 1,000 college students to suicide every year, making suicide the second leading cause of death among college students, after accidents (including car accidents and drug overdoses).
These numbers reflect a wider, and very troubling, phenomenon in our culture. Since 1988 the use of antidepressants has gone up almost 400 percent, and they are now the most frequently taken drug by those 18 to 44 years old. More troubling is that between 1993 and 2005 the use of prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall went up 93 percent among college students, while the use of prescription opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin jumped a staggering 343 percent.
As any parent knows, what our children see us do has a much bigger impact on them than what we tell them to do. So if the lesson we're teaching them by how we live is that burnout, stress and sleep deprivation are the highway to success -- consequences be damned -- it appears that our college students are dutifully, and dangerously, following in our footsteps.
The good news is that the changes we are seeing in our workplaces -- adopting meditation, yoga and other stress-reduction practices -- are also beginning to be introduced into college life. According to a 2013 study by Robert Youmans of George Mason University and Jared Ramsberg, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, the side-effect-free way to get better grades is to meditate. Testing a random grouping of students, they found that students who meditated before a lecture scored higher on a quiz afterward than those who didn't.
Youmans, a practicing Buddhist, makes it clear that other forms of quiet and contemplation are as effective as meditation. "Basically," he says, "becoming just a little bit more mindful about yourself and your place in the world might have a very important, practical benefit -- in this case, doing better in college."
A study by researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that a two-week mindfulness training course boosted the working memory of students enough to translate into a 16-percent increase on the GRE (the standardized test required for most graduate schools). "We found reduced mind-wandering in every way we measured it and improved performance on both reading comprehension and working memory capacity," said professor Michael Mrazek. The researchers are now extending the studies to K-12 students.
In fact, Andrew Jones, a sociology teacher in the UK, wrote in The Guardian that studies have also found that meditation can lower the incidence of aggression in adolescents and children. Jones' own school has initiated quiet times during the day, which allow the students to meditate or simply reflect, and has even launched a lunchtime Zen club.
Back here at home, meditation resulted in higher English scores, higher attendance rates and higher rates of happiness in schools that introduced it in San Francisco, while in New Haven schools used meditation and yoga to reduce stress levels.
And there are an increasing number of organizations devoted to studying and implementing mindfulness programs. For example, MindUp, a program that's part of the Goldie Hawn Foundation, brings neuroscientists, education professionals and mindfulness experts together to help students "learn to self-regulate behavior and mindfully engage in focused concentration required for academic success." And a study at Johns Hopkins University found that the effects of meditation were actually about equal to those of antidepressants.
It's clear that we don't only need to change our workplace; we need to change how we prepare the next generation to enter that workplace. And thanks largely to research by our universities, we know what works. Now it's a matter of putting it into action.
Last week Nicholas Kristof wrote about Marina Keegan, whose first book, The Opposite of Loneliness, was recently published posthumously. Marina was tragically killed in a car crash days after graduating from Yale in 2012. In one of the essays in the book, she laments a transition she saw in her fellow students, from youthful idealism to an acceptance of "success"-driven practicality.
"Students here have passion," she wrote. "Passion for public service and education policy and painting and engineering and entrepreneurialism. Standing outside a freshman dorm, I couldn't find a single student aspiring to be a banker -- but at commencement this May, there's a 50 percent chance I'll be sitting next to one. This strikes me as incredibly sad."
There is nothing wrong with being a banker in itself; Keegan's point was that so many graduates choose professions based on the lure of jobs that fit our traditional notion of success. "Perhaps there won't be fancy popcorn at some other job," wrote Keegan, "but it's about time we started popping it for ourselves."
And for those who do create their own path, and for those who don't, my final bit of wisdom is that the one absolutely certain thing you can expect is that things won't turn out the way you expect. As John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
I recently came across a remarkable and moving speech given last year by Kathleen Donegan, an English professor at Berkeley. She was tasked with talking about how female academics find life/work balance. She began by noting that when women talk about balance, they often use the practical language of accounting, even making to-do lists complete with charts and columns. "It's not that I don't live by lists and charts and calendars, because I do," she said. "But tonight I want to talk about what might happen if one loses confidence in the accounting and the balance sheets."
She then related a quotation by Eudora Welty that deeply impacted her and guided her desire to be a writer. "Writing fiction," said Welty, "has developed in me an abiding respect for the unknown in a human lifetime and a sense of where to look for the threads, how to follow, how to connect, to find in the thick of the tangle what clear line persists."
Donegan had charted a clear line for her own story, how she would have three children in graduate school and how they would be scheduled to fit into the timetable of her studies. It didn't work out that way. "In my experience, being willing -- or being forced -- to let go of the story you're following is what brings you closer to that line," she said. "One day after my son Leo was born, he died." She was forced to let go of her charts and calculations and connect with deeper truths.
The ability to accept life's inevitable twists and turns, losses, defeats and surprises plays a profound role in how resilient we are and how we thrive. And to harken back to freshman philosophy class, true happiness can only be found in our own attitudes and inner life, which the outside world cannot control or take away. This is not about indifference or resignation but, rather, a concept very much on the minds of young graduates: freedom. As one of the most famous Stoics, Seneca, said, "once we have driven away all that excites or affrights us, there ensues unbroken tranquility and enduring freedom." So as our new graduates go into this next phase in their lives, I hope they find the freedom to realize their own story in their own way.
Evelyn Lauer: Why Life In Your 30s Is Better (and Worse) Than In Your 20s 2014-04-17
Recently, one of my friends (actually, an ex-boyfriend) said, "I was just telling someone life gets so much better in your 30s."
He was right. And wrong.
It gets better: more simple, more meaningful, more established, more fulfilling, more STABLE. You'll have fewer fights, cry less tears and make fewer bad decisions.
But you'll also have less fun. Here's the best way I can put it: Life will feel less magical. (Probably because it becomes more predictable and less spur-of-the-moment).
When I was 20, I skipped Friday classes and spent a three-day weekend on the road with one of my favorite rock bands. I cannot write that same sentence about my 30s: "When I was 36, I skipped work, got fired and forgot to pick up my kids from daycare," sounds like the first line of a bad memoir. Your responsibilities change. Big time.
If you wait until your 30s to have children, you'll start to realize the special quality of life in your 20s -- the independence and craziness.
Having kids is amazing, but you will have to give up a lot. Movies, for one. Sleep. Taking a shower (when you have a newborn). If your 20s are like mine, you'll be a world traveler. This hasn't completely stopped, but it's definitely slowed down.
What will be more established, hopefully: your career, your friends, your life partner, your family, your home (mortgage).
You will have everything you dreamed of those nights coming home from a bar when no one asked for your number, crying yourself to sleep because you felt so alone. In fact, you will never feel alone -- and what you once prayed for will feel like a curse and a blessing.
Most days, you will go about the machine of life -- alarm, kids, shower, kids, breakfast (maybe), coffee (definitely), kids, door, car, road rage, kids singing "Wheels on the Bus," daycare, work, work, lunch (at your desk), work, kids, car, road rage, home, kids, dinner, bath time, bedtime, TV, glass of wine (much-needed), sleep (interrupted by to-do-list, kid crying, partner snoring, etc.) -- and you will not even notice that life is passing by so fast that somehow suddenly you're 38 and you're not really 30 anymore.
But other days, you'll reflect. You'll think back to those college days, the days before kids, the days you slept until noon and spent the afternoon at bars watching football, day-drinking and wasting time. No-agenda days. Days you could do whatever you wanted even if that meant Ryan Reynolds' movie marathons.
Most of all, you'll want that time back to do something productive, like write a novel. Those days will seem long-gone -- and lovely. And, if you're lucky, you'll occasionally be gifted (by your partner who will take the kids) a few days like this in your 30s -- but, after a few hours of freedom, you'll feel alone again, you'll think of your child's laugh, and you'll wonder what it was you really missed.
So which is better? Your 20s or your 30s? Discuss.
This post originally appeared on Evelyn's blog, First Page Last. Follow Evelyn on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thomas E. Perez: Investing In Skills To Build A Secure Middle Class 2014-04-17
In today's economy, access to training for in-demand jobs can help American workers punch their tickets to the middle class, and it can help American businesses continue to grow. However, as our economy continues to expand, too many businesses can't find the skilled workers they need, and too many people don't know how to access training that can help them find good jobs.
The good news is that we have an invaluable resource that can help deliver the world-class job training that prepares workers for the jobs that need to be filled: our community college system. Community colleges provide higher education where people live, helping to build strong ladders of opportunity that allow people to secure a foothold in the middle class.
That's why President Obama and Vice President Biden went to the Community College of Allegheny County outside of Pittsburgh, Pa., this week to announce the fourth and final round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, known as TAACCCT.
From the outset, the Obama administration has recognized that building a robust skills infrastructure means building strong partnerships with community colleges. Since 2011, the U.S. Labor Department has invested nearly $1.5 billion through the TAACCCT program to strengthen the links between community colleges, employers, and the public workforce system to create pipelines of skilled workers. These regional partnerships are essential to growing the economy, strengthening the workforce and creating opportunity in the 21st century.
The Community College of Allegheny County was part of a statewide consortium that received $20 million in the first round of funding to expand training in advanced manufacturing, energy distribution and healthcare technology. To date, more than 2,200 students have enrolled in the school's training programs, which is one of more than 800 colleges across the country that have received funding.
The department is now making an additional $450 million available to help community colleges expand their capacity to train workers for 21st-century jobs. The funding will make sure adult learners are getting the credentials and the certifications that will allow them to move into jobs that actually exist in their communities. Community colleges across the country can apply for funding, and every state will receive at least $2.25 million for community college career training programs.
In this fourth round of funding, we are focusing on expanding best practices from previous rounds −- scaling up what works in local areas to state-wide partnerships. We're also focused on expanding partnerships with national industry groups, ensuring that education and training pathways can build on each other, and improving statewide employment and education data integration. Grant applicants that address these priorities may be eligible for additional funding.
TAACCCT is making a profound difference in people's lives. Since I started in this job, I've had the chance to visit a handful of colleges around the country and meet some amazing people like Ken Dover, Gary Pollard and Sheri Dron who are using these innovative training programs to build a better future for themselves. I can't wait to see what this next round will bring.
Join the conversation about job training using the hashtag #FindYourPath.
Mike Weisser: Cue The Nra: 'bloomberg's Coming For Your Guns' 2014-04-17
I can see it now. The NRA annual meeting is about to kick off in Indianapolis and I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that every speaker at the banquet and other public events will be told to say something nasty about Mike Bloomberg's new campaign to "get rid" of guns. What's going on is that Bloomberg has announced that he's going to spend 50 million bucks to bankroll a new organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, to build a grass roots movement across the country that will mobilize voters to enact background checks at the state level to counteract the NRA whose power at the federal level has prevented an expansion of national background checks from taking place.
Bloomberg and many other gun-control activists are convinced that the key to cutting down the rate of gun violence is the ability of the government to keep guns out of the hands of disqualified individuals (felons, mentally ill, etc.) by requiring pre-transfer clearance for anyone who wants to acquire a handgun regardless of whether the transfer occurs in a retail store, a gun show, or two people simply standing in the street. The evidence supporting this argument can be found on the Everytown website, and it goes like this.
According to Bloomberg's organization, in 2010 there were 14 states plus DC that required background checks for all handgun sales, and together these states had a 3.17 rate (per 100,000) for gun deaths, whereas the remaining 34 states (CO and DE were excluded due to new laws) registered a gun homicide rate of 5.09; a difference between the two groups of 38 percent. If Bloomberg's group is correct in asserting that universal background checks would bring the gun homicide rate in the country as a whole down to 3.17, we would be talking about at least several thousand fewer gun deaths each year -- and that ain't chopped liver, even if you're the former Mayor of New York.
But the moment that anyone comes up with a plan to curb gun violence, I always try to figure out whether the plan really aligns itself with the data that is used to explain how and why it's going to work. Or are we looking at what we often encounter in the gun debate, namely, a confusion between coincidence and causality which has a way of somehow obscuring the facts? I'm afraid that in the case of Bloomberg's continued love affair with background checks, it may be a little of both. Here's what I mean.
Of the 14 states that required background checks for all handgun transfers, nine of them had rates of gun homicides lower than the national average going back to 1970 and before. The fact that many of these states at some point instituted background checks at the state level wasn't necessarily the cause of lower gun homicide rates because most of these states had lower homicide rates before any gun control laws were put into effect. For that matter, Mike Bloomberg's own city, New York, had the most severe background check system, the Sullivan Law, on the books since 1908. But the city experienced a severe increase in gun homicide between 1988 and 1993, and then saw the greatest drop in gun violence of any major city in the United States over the next twenty years, a trend that started under Rudy Giuliani but increased even more during Bloomberg's stint in City Hall.
Don't get me wrong. Study after study has shown that when you pass gun control laws, the number of gun owners goes down, which no doubt leads to fewer guns, which probably results in less crime. But Mike Bloomberg's successful effort to make New York City safe from gun violence was not, according to his own testimony, due to any change in the laws. It was the result of smart and aggressive policing. And his 50 million bucks wouldn't cover the costs of such a strategy across the river in Hoboken, never mind across the United States.
Huff Tv: Arianna Shares The Most Important Habit Of Successful People 2014-04-17
Arianna appeared on Morning Joe to discuss her new book 'Thrive' and the upcoming Third Metric conference.
Sitting down with Mike Brzezinski, who is cohosting next week's event, she discussed the importance of not burning out on the path to success.
"This is not about not working hard, it's overworking at the expense of recharging ourselves, renewing ourselves," she said. "If we are lucky, we have 30,000 days to play the game of life and how we play depends on what we value... money by itself is not going to make us feel fulfilled."
Watch her full interview below and find out more about the Third Metric conference:
Jessica S. Henry: Killing To Heal?: One Year After The Boston Bombing 2014-04-17
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. The bombing was a stunning display of domestic terror that blew apart an April day that should have been full of celebration and accomplishment. Three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed and two-hundred people were injured, some severely, in the explosion. A fourth man was killed during the police investigation.
The crime, indeed, was heinous, and the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was not particularly sympathetic. It perhaps comes as no surprise that this past January, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder announced the federal government would seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev. But the death penalty, even in this horrible case, is unlikely to serve the interests of the people of Massachusetts and the taxpayers of America. Instead, it only likely extends the suffering of all involved, and hurts the credibility of the United States in the international human rights arena.
The people of Massachusetts and the residents of Boston specifically, are not clamoring for the death penalty. Indeed, a 2013 survey of Boston residents, conducted several months after the bombing, found that 57 percent favored life without parole over the death penalty for the suspect. In other words, a majority of residents believed that the death penalty was not the answer in this case. Boston's ambivalence toward capital punishment is consistent with the State of Massachusetts at large. The last execution in Massachusetts took place in 1947. In 1984, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts declared capital punishment to be unconstitutional. Attempts by then-Governor Romney, among others, to reinstate the death penalty gained no traction.
But this is not a Massachusetts prosecution. It is a federal prosecution, spearheaded by Holder, who is personally opposed to capital punishment. The Tsarnaev prosecution will be the most high profile death penalty case since Timothy McVeigh was charged in the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead and over 600 wounded.
The McVeigh prosecution cost taxpayers over $13.8 million dollars. And that trial took place in 1997. Federal capital prosecutions are expensive. The average cost to the taxpayer of defending a trial in a federal death case is $620,932. This is roughly eight times more expensive than a non-capital murder case. Capital cases, by definition are bound to cost more -- a lot more -- because as the Supreme Court has said, "death is different." In capital cases, for example, pre-trial motion practice and jury selection are far more complicated and extensive than non-capital cases. Defendants have a bifurcated trial in which the jury first decides guilt and second determines the penalty. And then there are years of protracted appeals. All of this takes more time and resources than non-death penalty cases, and comes with a much higher price tag.
Yet, for all that expense, the federal death penalty rarely results in an execution. Since the reinstatement of the federal death penalty in 1988, over 70 defendants have been sentenced to death, but only three have been executed. One of those three was Timothy McVeigh, who was executed in 2001 only after voluntarily dropping his appeals. The vast majority of federal death row inmates, however, will languish on death row, serving a sentence that is rarely implemented and often only after lengthy years of litigation. This draws out the pain and uncertainty for victims, defendants, and their families alike.
If cost and uncertainty were not enough, the federal government also could have declined to bring capital charges simply because the use of capital punishment is hurting our moral legitimacy in the international arena. The United States is an international outlier in the developed world for its support of the death penalty, ranking only behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in its use of death penalty as a lawful sentence. Since many nations consider the death penalty to violate human rights, the United States' continued support of capital punishment makes it hard for us to have legitimacy when we seek to police human rights abuses.
The federal government also risks enabling Tsarnaev to martyr himself in front of the entire world. Tsarnaev could use the capital trial as an opportunity to broadcast his radical views and to accept the punishment of death as a moment of extremist jihad. A non-capital trial would have diluted that argument, and allowed Tsarnaev to fade into obscurity, inside an anonymous prison cell, for the rest of his natural life; a punishment that is as slow and tedious as it is severe.
Perhaps, as some have suggested, the federal government brought these capital charges to push Tsarnaev into a plea agreement for a life without parole sentence. The irony, of course, is that a state prosecution could have resulted in exactly the same outcome and just as effectively would have spoken for a majority of the people of Massachusetts.
Tsarnaev, if found guilty of these charges, committed a terrible crime. Proponents of capital punishment argue that if ever a case deserved a death sentence, it is this one. But perhaps it is time to rethink whether any case should be punished by death. Tsarnaev can be appropriately punished without an execution, with less expense, more certainty, and no loss to the United States of international standing.
Jennifer “jay” Palumbo: The Question That Gives You A 1 In 8 Chance Of Being An Insensitive Jerk 2014-04-17
Maybe I'm naïve or maybe it's because I went through years of infertility treatment but I'm continually stunned at how many people ask the question, "When are you going to have kids?"
It's true that there are people out there who don't plan these things or put a lot of thought into whether or not they will have kids. They get married, their husband sneezes on them and they get pregnant. (Ok, a slight exaggeration in how biology works but you get my point.) In general, when you imagine starting a family, the majority of people picture romance, music, having sex perhaps only one or two times and bam -- you're posting a picture of a positive pregnancy test on Facebook.
This is not the experience of those struggling to conceive. Our journey usually entails blood work, sonograms, injecting ourselves with hormones and not telling a soul you're pregnant (if you are even lucky enough to get pregnant) until you're well past your first trimester out of total fear.
Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the United States. So it's entirely possible that the next time you ask someone, "When are you going to have kids?" you have a one in eight chance of unintentionally being an insensitive jerk.
Through my job and my personal blog on infertility, I've connected with those who have had multiple miscarriages, male factor fertility issues, egg quality issues, PCOS, Endometriosis and/or financial strains trying to pay for their fertility treatment. To then have some well-meaning nimrod at a family function casually say, "What's the hold up? You know you're not getting any younger!" not only doesn't help, but this relative should feel lucky they don't get punched in the face.
I once knew a couple who had an extremely long and difficult time having children. Whenever anyone asked them when they were having kids, they would immediately respond with, "When do you plan on trying anal sex?" Yes, this is a blunt and graphic retort but, boy, was it effective! It made it clear that perhaps asking them about their plans to procreate is not up for an open forum.
Whether you're fertile or not, to me, asking someone when they are going to have children is personal. Even before I knew I had fertility issues, this question as well as the, "When are you getting married?" "Are you gay?" or "How much do you get paid?" inquiries were on the top of my "Don't ask, don't tell" list of questions. In all of these cases, these are topics that unless someone volunteers the information, are probably best to stay away from.
One could argue that if everyone knew that someone was having fertility issues, no one would ask when they were going to have a family. I'm here to tell you that's not the case. Instead, what ends up happening is you then open yourself to a slew of anecdotal or silly advice.
Between me and my fertility-challenged friends, we've been told that having long hair causes miscarriages (when your hair is too long, all of the nourishment goes to your hair and not a baby), if you buy a new mezuzah, you'll get pregnant without any issues, you should stop jogging, douching is the key to conceiving or the ever popular, "just relax and you'll get pregnant in no time!" line.
The fact that your friends or relatives think they can tell you why you're not getting pregnant when your reproductive endocrinologist (who specializes in infertility) can't, never ceases to astound me. I saw some of the top doctors in Manhattan and I assure you, if any of them believed that my husband wearing his socks made any difference, they would have mentioned it.
Infertility is an actual medical issue. Imagine you're speaking to someone who has been recently diagnosed with diabetes. Their blood sugar levels are high and they are worried about it. Would you say to them, "Have you tried going on vacation?" or "Don't think about it so much and your sugar level will drop on its own!" You wouldn't. You know why? Because it's dumb and you're not a doctor.
If someone confides in you that they haven't been able to get pregnant, just say, "I'm so sorry. Please let me know how I can support you." I also recommend not asking them every day thereafter, "Any luck yet?" I always tell anyone who shares this information with me, "Please know that I'm not going to ask you about this as I don't want to add to the pressure. If you want to ever talk about it, just let me know."
Ultimately, I know no one out there thinks that asking when you plan to have a family can be hurtful, but the odds are that it really can be. So I'm requesting that you think before you ask or comment about someone's parental status. It will not only avoid possibly hurting someone's feelings but it might save you from provoking the wrath of a frustrated and hormonal person.