Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

My Photo
Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday's Author

The author of the acclaimed novel Sugar-Baby Bridge, Brett Edward Stout is a man who personifies the current hot button topic associated with "Don't Ask Don't Tell." As a Marine, Brett struggled with finding his identity as a gay man and as a soldier fighting for his country. Brett once told me that he loved the Marines and that his love for them made him want them to be better. He didn't condemn the entire military for its policy on preventing its members from living their lives openly. On the contrary, he embraced what he loved about the Marines and set out to change what he found distasteful.

Brett doesn't shirk away from issues that cause controversy. He knows the issues and he is completely comfortable with his views concerning them. So comfortable in fact that he doesn't think twice when it comes to trying to affect the changes he would like to see take place. Brett sees all people as equal, no matter their gender or social status or life choice. They're just people to him. People who deserve the same rights as everyone else who shares the species.

A Bit On Perspective

Spongebob: "Patrick, you're the best starer I ever stared at."
Patrick: "Staring contest? I thought it was a blinking contest and I was losing!"

As hackneyed as Patrick's response is, there is some logic at work in those words. It's all in how you look at things. Two people can be doing the exact same thing and achieve separate ends. It all depends on how they approach the task at hand.

Life is the most immediate and tricky game any of us play. In life there are problems and in life there is suffering. The one trap most people fall into is confusing the two. They come to believe that their problems cause their suffering. The truth is what separates them.

In Buddhism, there is a tenent that says suffering is a learned behavior. We suffer because we allow ourselves to do so. Our problems cannot be the cause of our suffering unless we allow them to be. The problems we confront in life are lessons we learn along the way. Or rather, they're supposed to be lessons. The tragedy of most people's existence is that they don't learn from the problems they have. They keep repeating the same patterns only in different situations. They continue with this repetition because they lack the insight to apply the truths of life to their circumstances when times are not so good.

One can be reminded of the Old Testament story of Job. His life of happiness and wealth was taken away from him by powers outside of his control. Rather than allow the tragedies he faced to reduce him into becoming a victim, Job remained convicted in his faith and therefore found solace even at the lowest point in his life. He learned from his circumstances that his happiness was not dependent on anything external. It was incumbent on his state of mind.

This is a lesson that eludes most people because they associate their happiness with the state of their lives. They don't recognize that their state of being is a higher form of existence that needs the same nourishment to remain healthy as the body does to continue living. Only when we can separate the problems we face from our peace of mind can we find that lovely balance between the two; the balance that allows us to remain at peace with the universe because we don't see our problems as direct associations with our happiness. The impact our problems have on our lives can be greatly reduced by embracing this realization.

Suffering and living do not have to go hand in hand. We can affect our own present with tranquility if we learn that the simplest things we have are the most important things that we possess. Food, shelter, water, love, these are the ingredients we need to have the most basic form of living in our grasp and this is not a recipe that changes with time. The convolution doesn't occur until we allow the external forces we all deal with to change our perspective. Sadly it can take something life changing to bring us back to the state into which we are all born.

Nichiren Daishonin said; "Only when one has defeated a powerful enemy can he realize the true power he possesses."

Give the matter some thought. Make a list of what you need to be happy and then make a list of the things you see as preventing you from achieving the contentment you seek. Draw a line between the two. You'll see that one column has very little to do with the other.

Nam myo ho renghe kyo.

Young Married Couple Refused a Room in Bakersfield

From the Los Angeles Times. This is really DUMB. I hope the hotel has since reviewed its policy.,0,3459596.story

FDA Pulls Painkiller Darvon From The Market

From AOL News:

WASHINGTON (Nov. 19) -- The maker of the painkiller Darvon is pulling the drug off the market at the request of public health officials who say the more than 50-year-old pill causes potentially deadly heart rhythms.
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals had agreed to halt all U.S. marketing of Darvon and the related brand Darvocet, which have been subject to safety concerns for decades. The Kentucky company confirmed the move in its own statement.
The FDA also ordered generic drugmakers to stop making and selling low-cost drugs containing the active ingredient in Darvon, called propoxyphene.
Britain and the European Union decided to ban Darvon in 2005 and 2009, respectively, due to a long trend of suicides and accidental overdoses.
FDA officials said they decided to take action based on a recent study showing Darvon interferes with the electrical activity of the heart, causing irregular heart rhythms that can be fatal. Xanodyne conducted the study last year at the government's request.
"This last study, the cardiac study, was sort of the final piece of the puzzle that told us what the complete picture was," said Dr. Gerald Dal Pan, director of FDA's office of surveillance and epidemiology.
Dal Pan said patients should continue taking the medication until their doctor prescribes a replacement therapy. Other commonly prescribed drugs in the same class are oxycodone and codeine.
But public safety advocates said the agency should have acted much sooner to pull a drug with limited benefits and a long history of safety problems.
"The FDA's deadly delay in this case starkly illustrates how one of the most important public health concepts, the precautionary principle, was embraced by the UK and Europe, but was for too long recklessly rejected by the FDA," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, of the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen.
Wolfe estimated that at least 1,000 to 2,000 U.S. patients died from taking Darvon since the U.K. banned the product in January 2005.
Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to ban the drug in 1978 and again in 2006, pointing to its role in thousands of deaths reported by state medical examiners.
The most recent petition led to a January 2009 meeting, where a panel of outside experts voted 14-12 to recommend the drug be pulled from the market.
But the FDA disagreed, and later that year agency officials said they would keep the drug on the market with a bolder warning label about the risk of overdosing. Around that time, the FDA asked Xanodyne to conduct the study of the drug's heart effects.
"For the first time we now have data showing that the standard therapeutic dose of propoxyphene can be harmful to the heart," Dal Pan said.
Propoxyphene, which was first approved in the 1957, is an opioid narcotic used to treat mild to moderate pain. About 10 million people in the U.S. received prescriptions for Darvon and related drugs in 2009, according to the FDA.
The most popular form of the drug currently is Darvocet, which combines propoxyphene with the more common painkiller acetaminophen. At FDA's 2009 meeting, officials cited studies showing most of the pain relief from Darvocet came from the acetaminophen component.
Based in Newport, Ky., Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals is a privately held company focused on pain relief drugs.
A spokesman for the company said it does not advertise Darvon or Darvocet, which make up less than 1 percent of the market for propoxyphene-based drugs. The majority of medicines sold are generic versions, he said.
In the last two years the FDA has begun prodding drugmakers to develop more sophisticated pain relievers that are harder to abuse or misuse. recently developed products include pills that are formulated to lose their potency if they are crushed or dissolved.

Saturday's Flashback

A mainly underground hit until the Australian film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert made it a mainstream success, 1991's Finally firmly ensconced CeCe Peniston in popular culture as a disco maven of the 90's. This infectious tune makes audiences hit the floor dancing every time it plays. It's one of those rare songs that gets toes tapping, smiles breaking out, and bodies moving like mad. The chorus is unforgettable and that arrangement just catches on like fire. Nobody can be still when this one starts.

In the video, CeCe shows off what she's got with gusto. How this one failed to become a huge hit at the time of its original release still baffles most observers, but thanks to that irresistible Priscilla soundtrack Finally found its place in pop culture, finally.

Thought For Today

"Hand in hand, we're finding our way, and today is just tomorrow's yesterday." -- Tina Turner (All Kinds of People)