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Can the Wine Cork Help Save the World?

There is a recent movement away from using traditional cork closures due to some inaccurate and bad press. In investigating the cork for this blog and for the Spaz on Wine, Uncorked Podcast,  I was delighted to find that there are many reasons, all good, to buy wines with natural cork stoppers. The history, romance, and earth saving qualities of the natural cork is captivating. Read on, my friend!

History of the Wine Cork

Even though the natural cork is under hot debate right now, the cork as a stopper may date back as far as the ancient Egyptians. Modern legend often attributes its promotion to Dom Perignon, the famous 17th century French monk. Wine myth contends that he may have popularized the use of cork stoppers over the more commonly used wooden plugs. Four hundred years later and the cork continues to be a topic of discussion. The good news is the wooden plug is out, but the concern now is that screw caps and plastic stoppers are gobbling up market share in the world of wine closures (Gifford, 2016). These competitive stoppers are eating away at the tradition, the ceremony, and the sexy sizzle of the traditional cork.

Let’s face it, it’s the wonderful anticipation when the bottle is offered, the unwrapping of the foil capsule, the dignified pull of the cork, the gentle pop of its release, and the presentation of the cork that sets the scene for that marvelous first sip of wine. The slow expectation heightens the total wine experience. Just as it’s the sizzle that enhances the taste of the steak, it’s the looking forward to, the delayed gratification of that first sip that builds our anticipatory desire.

The Sexy Sizzle of the Wine Cork

For centuries wine enthusiasts, both novice and expert alike, have waited for the cork to be pulled, and when in public, presented to them. (Listen to Why Does Your Waiter Hand You the Cork? on Green Ink Radio to discover the answer to this age old question.) It was the love affair of ritual that continued to entice the modern wine consumer up until the last couple of decades.  Sadly, the pomp, the sizzle, the anticipation has all begun to fade. Other players have entered the wine closure field and devoured almost 40 percent of the traditional cork market share (Gifford, 2016) and in many ways are stripping it of its old world elegance and tradition.

Fast forward to the aluminum screw cap; in terms of ceremony, it just doesn’t measure up. Sure, it’s quick and easy, but it’s about as romantic as a TV dinner. Yes, it does reduce spoilage, a little. And yes it is convenient as hell. But it’s sort of like putting on sneakers with a prom dress, practical but inelegant. Nonetheless, it has gained popularity, particularly amongst millennials, and now accounts for 20 percent of the wine-closure market. Then there’s the plastic stopper. Need I say more? A plastic plug in a living thing? Eegads. Nevertheless, it too has extracted 10 percent of the stopper trade from the cork industry (Gifford, 2016).

What’s so Great About a Cork?

There’s such a rich history of the cork, it is infused with legend, romance, and a little mystery (answers found on Spaz on Wine, Uncorked Why Does Your Waiter Hand You the Cork?). But in addition to that, there are numerous economical, enological, and environmental reasons why we should select natural cork stoppers when making our wine purchases:

  • It is made from the bark of the evergreen oak. No trees are killed and it is sustainably harvested (mantoncork).
  • The cork is biodegradable, aluminum screw caps and plastic plugs are not.
  • The Mediterranean Cork Forest is comprised of over 7 million acres, which would be neglected or chopped down if not for the production of cork (Gifford, 2016).
  • It’s environmentally friendly. The Mediterranean Cork Forest offsets 20 million tons of Co2 annually (Gifford).
  • The Portugal Cork Forest has the greatest plant biodiversity of anywhere on the planet, with over 135 different thriving and unique species (Gifford).
  • It provides a safe habitat for the endangered Iberian lynx and the Barbary deer (Gifford).
  • It offers the ecological benefit of providing over 100,000 wine cork related jobs, which are among the last well-paying agricultural jobs available (Gifford).
  • There is very little risk of getting a tainted wine from a natural cork stopper (currently about 1 percent due to recent technological advances) (Gifford).
  • Corklins! Corks are made from the bark of the evergreen oak, so using them as stoppers creates some of the same effects as aging in oak barrels (Pomranz, 2018). The phenolic compounds released are tannins, polyphenols, and phenols (Schmitt, 2018). These phenols interact with catechins and malvidins and form different, enhanced compounds, named Corklins (Pomranz).

Sell the Sizzle, Baby!

My father often repeats the old sales saying, “You sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Well, my recommendation to the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance is Sell the sizzle, baby. Opening a bottle of wine with a natural cork is a sensual experience. It speaks of old world charm and days of yore that can be recaptured in that brief, timeless moment of drawing the cork away from the mysteries held within. A screwcap is just not going to be able to provide that sort of classy pomp. Let’s return to the prom dress analogy for a moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sneakers (probably more than I should), but nothing, and I mean nothing can compete with a pair of high heels to complete the overall prom look and experience. Go to a prom in sneakers or go in high heels. What is the more elegant choice?

The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance has a big job ahead of them. At Green Ink Radio we wish them the best! They are working to save the Mediterranean Cork Forest and its inhabits. Their slogan is “Pop a Cork, Save a Tree.” Hey, I’m doing my part saving the world, one bottle at a time. Why don’t you join me? Salute!

Resources:

Gifford, J. (2016, February 25). How millennials (almost) killed the wine cork. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/wine-cork-comeback/470961/

Mantoncork.com. The history of cork. Retrieved from: https://www.mantoncork.com/cork/

Pomranz, M. (2018, June 8). Are ‘corklins’ the reason wine bottled with a cork tastes different? Food & Wine. Retrieved from: https://www.foodandwine.com/news/wine-cork-taste-different-corklins

Schmitt, P. (2018, June 7). Compounds called corklins found in cork-stoppered wines. The Drinks Business. Retrieved from: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2018/06/compounds-called-corklins-found-in-cork-stoppered-wines/

 

Transforming Transgender Treatment

When did it Happen?

I don’t know exactly when it happened; I have no recollection of the exact moment in time when working with the transgender population became a focus of my therapy practice. Like all things in life, it was a confluence of events and knowledge, a synergistic melding of intention, experience, and information. It was a slow drip to the realization of one of my life’s purposes: to be there, to show up for people who need me.

It all started several years ago with a homosexual student at the college where I work. He began to educate me extensively about the LGBT+ community. I was enthralled and soon realized how little I actually knew. Then my nephew came out as a transgender woman (he has since gone back to his biological gender, so my pronouns are correct).  My sister struggled mightily with this decision and was genuinely heartsick and that led me on an odyssey of exploration in support of her. I’m sorry to say that I continued to call my nephew by his birth name during this time of transition. It wasn’t in defiance, in hindsight, it was because I didn’t try hard enough to break myself of the habit of using his birth name.

Tony Ferraiolo Blasts It

A transgender male college student helped me work through my confusion and ignorance. He is an advocate and activist and is changing the world, so thank you Ben Crowley! He graduated this May, so I will need him on speed dial to make sure I get it right when working with trans clients in the future. And then the brilliant Tony Ferraiolo came to town. He gave a presentation at Three Rivers Community College and showed his amazing, award winning documentary, A Self Made Man. Simply put, it shook my world. My lingering heterodominant and gender binary biases were blasted to smithereens.

We Reject it Because we Don’t Understand it

And just about then the calls started coming into my practice from trans folk looking for support. I took every client. They taught me so much about the human experience—not just the gender one—for which I am forever grateful. As we sit across each other in my little living room and they share their stories, I am profoundly attuned to how universal our experiences are… and how dissimilar. I have gleaned that it is within these whispers of difference that the world germinates its seeds of cruelty to trans people. Why? My guess is because we don’t understand it and so therefore we reject it. The bigger question then becomes: What can we do to make their world better? How can we ameliorate the transgressions? (Pun intended.)

Be an Ally

Well, I’m glad you asked! There are a lot of great resources out there. I suggest you educate yourself on how to become a true supporter. We can actively enhance the lives of trans people and be an ally by supporting the following National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Slate recommended initiatives:

  • Providing gender neutral bathroom facilities in all public places to keep them safe and promote laws that allow them to use the facilities of their identified gender. Remember: They are far more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetuate them.
  • Support the informed consent model for medical treatment not the gateway model that insists on medical professionals making the final determination of eligibility (Urquart, 2016).
  • Promote the ineffectiveness and actual harmful effects of conversion therapy counseling through legislative action.
  • Ensure that your state and insurance company support the medical necessity of transition-related medical care.
  • Promote social justice through advocacy for fair labor practices for transgender people.
  • Use their identified names and pronouns!
  • Refrain from asking them about their surgeries or treatments. You don’t talk to people about your genitals and they don’t want to talk to you about theirs. Geez.
  • Support comprehensive anti-bullying policies.
  • Advocate for gender identified justice system housing and fair treatment if incarcerated.

The above list is just a very brief summary of a few of the things we can do to help and support our trans friends and relatives. For more comprehensive information and recommendations, please visit www.transequality.org

Pure Joy Podcast

I was recently interviewed on the Pure Joy Podcast about my work with the transgender population in my therapy practice, Spaziani Therapy. Co-hosts Joy and Jennifer approached the questions from two different perspectives—Joy’s questions were thoughtful and deep, even profound, and Jennifer’s were joyful and practical.  Listen to the interview on Green Ink Radio on Spaz on Health. But don’t forget to tune into our sister podcast, Pure Joy Podcast where Joy and Jennifer explore trans’ issues and a lot of other cool topics.

Please remember that when in doubt, err on the side of compassion and sensitivity. Trans folk are just that—folk. We are all in the same boat of human experience, reaching, evolving, grasping, and being. So, be kind and… show up.

Resources

National Center for Transgender Equality. Downloaded May 25, 2018 from www.transequality.org

Urquart, E. (March 11, 2016) Gatekeepers vs. informed consent: Who decides when a trans person can medically transition? Slate. Downloaded June 2, 2108 from http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2016/03/11/transgender_patients_and_informed_consent_who_decides_when_transition_treatment.html

Cool News: Silent Times is Opening May 25th

Official Silent Times Film Poster 2018Silent Times

The world is full of talented, amazing people. We pass them in the grocery store. We hear them singing in the car next to us at a stop light on a summer day.  We read their beautiful prose on blogs. We view their stunning photography on Instagram posts. We listen to their podcasts that team with artistry and information. And sometimes, when we are really lucky, we get to see them create their art in action.

Kat O’Reilly and I had just such good fortune when we dropped in on a filming session of the silent movie, Silent Times, being filmed in Mystic, Connecticut. Christopher Annino invited us to not only watch but also to participate in the film if we so desired. We opted to witness the magic rather than be part of the action.

In the midst of the mayhem of a film set, Christopher greeted us with an ebullient welcome and provided introductions as if we were visiting Hollywood film producers (our few boxes of donut holes certainly didn’t qualify us to receive that sort of welcome). There were jugglers juggling, flappers dancing, gypsies conjuring, pianists tinkling, and Christopher filming.

officer keystone played by David Blair and The Kid
Silent Times in Mystic May 25th

It was absolutely delightful. Kat and I stole about, watching, marveling, and trying to stay out of the way. It was equally impressive that everyone was very kind to us as we awkwardly meandered around.

The high point of the visit was that I was able to meet Kadrolsha Ona Carole, Queen of the Paranormal, in person. I had recently interviewed her on Tag! You’re It for Green Ink Radio. She was as gracious, funny, and kind in person as she was while being interviewed for Green Ink Radio.

Fast forward several months Christopher Annino and Tag Team Friendship Productions LLC of Mystic, Connecticut is now holding a world preview of the Silent Times film at the Mystic & Noank Library on May 25, 2018 at 6 pm. It’s open to the public; there is a suggested donation of $5 at the door. All proceeds will go to the Andrea Tegan Post Memorial Fund, which was created to help artists who are struggling financially. There will be an after party at the Jealous Monk 27 Coogan Boulevard Building #20.

If you’d like to learn more about Silent Times please read the details of the film from their press release:

Directed by Christopher Annino, “Silent Times” is a Roaring-Twenties escapade set in a fictional New England town. The story centers on Oliver Henry III (played by Westerly native Geoff Blanchette), a small-time crook turned vaudeville theater owner. From humble beginnings in England, he immigrates to America in search of happiness and fast cash. He becomes acquainted with people from all walks of life, from burlesque performers, mimes, hobos to classy flapper girls. As his fortunes rise his life spins out of control. The film is a loving homage to the silent films of the 1920s and 30s, and features a wide cast of characters based on archetypes and personalities common in those films, such as Charlie Chaplin, Emmett Kelly, Annie Oakley, Buster Keaton, Keystone Cops, Gypsy Rose Lee and many more. Much of the written comedy was inspired by Benny Hill, Mr. Bean, and Monty Python. Notably, it is the first silent feature film of its kind in 80 years. Shot in black and white the film speed was also sped up to match with 1920’s film speed. The film features local talent drawn from Groton, Hartford, New London, Stonington, New Haven, and Westerly, RI. Some of the local talent who starred in the film were David Blair, Bill McNally (Essex Steam Train Conductor), Enzio Marchello (Clown), Brian Olsen, Kim Laabs, Kristina Joyce Utt, Joel Melendez (acrobat), Tyquan Anderson from (CT Sun Dance team Solar Power), Row Dasilva (Sister Funk), (former Ms. Fabulous Ct) Melody Lucas, Elena Bright, Veronica Convery, Anna Convery, Dexter Herron (Retired Groton Town Police).Celebrities such as WWE Legend Brian Blair, Olga Kurkulina star of “Kick Ass 2,” Queen of the Paranormal” Kadrolsha Ona Carole, Sunny The California Girl from G.L.O.W. , (Patricia Summerland), Ric Silver the creator of the “Electric Slide” dance, comedian/ magician Skip Daniels, and WWE Legend Ron Bass appear in the film. The film is produced by international award winning film maker Biju Viswanath.
Director and Co-Writer Christopher Annino, is a graduate of Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut and won best community outreach award at the 2017 ICONIC film festival for his film “Trans Rights are Human Rights.”
Co-Writer Geoff Blanchette is a graduate of The University of Rhode Island and Co-directed “Waves” with Annino which won Best Romantic Drama at 2017 The Avalonia Film Festival.

We hope that you’ll attend the preview of Silent Times on May 25th. We saw it being filmed; the scenes were like the beginning pieces of a puzzle, and even without the larger context, it still appeared enchanting. I can fully appreciate how wonderful the finished whole will be. My guess is that there will be no words to describe the film (get it?).

Marley’s Mother of a Brunch

Recipes by Tricia Spaziani

Doggone Good Cooking

Tricia Spaziani is a down-home, modern day hostess and self-taught chef. She serves up old style hospitality, great food, and good fun. The proud mom of 13 rescue dogs, every meal she cooks is witnessed by her keenly observant pack. They are her official taste testers. They usually approve. The humans she hosts always do.  With Mother’s Day fast approaching, this is a hearty, quick and easy menu that will wow your guests.

We featured Tricia’s Marley’s Mother of a Brunch on Spaz on Health on Green Ink Radio because home cooking is a far healthier alternative to eating out. How, you ask? Because it is far less expensive, you can control your portions, and you can adjust ingredients to your liking. Also, cooking and hosting at home builds connections with family and friends and enhances intimacy in a way eating in a restaurant does not. Pull up a dog, a flute of mimosa, invite family and friends, and try these delightful recipes!

Bone appetite!

Marley’s Mother of a Brunch

Marley’s Honey Blueberry Muffins

Marley

 Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

3 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries-rinsed

1 Cup Milk

4 Tablespoons Honey

1 Egg Beaten

1/4 Cup Melted Shortening

Preheat Oven to 350F

Directions:

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and blueberries together. Mix milk, honey, beaten egg, and melted shortening. Add dry ingredients. Stir quickly just to incorporate. Fill a greased muffin pan half full. You may also use muffin liners. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown.

Marley’s Italian Torte

Ingredients:

2 Tubes of Crescent Rolls / Divided

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1 Package of fresh baby spinach- 6 to 8 ounces

1 Cup fresh mushrooms – I use cremini

7 Large eggs

1 Cup fresh grated Parmesan- I use Strevechio

2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning

Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced good Deli Ham – I use Black Forest Ham

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced Hard Salami

1/2 lb. Thin Sliced Provolone Cheese

12 ounces of Roasted Red Peppers- drain them and pat them dry – another option is sun dried tomatoes packed in oil

Preheat oven to 350F

Directions:

Place a 9-inch spring form pan on heavy duty foil and wrap it around pan. This prevents leaking. Then unroll one tube of crescent dough and separate into triangles. Press onto bottom of pan to form a crust. Seal seams well with fingers. Bake 10-15 minutes or until set.

Easy Italian Torte Crust

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach, mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are tender. Drain on a paper towel or in a colander. Remove all liquid.

In a large bowl, whisk six eggs, the parmesan cheese, and the Italian seasoning and pepper.

Layer crust with half of the meats, cheese, red peppers and spinach mixture. Pour half of the egg mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining meats, cheese and vegetables, top with rest of the egg mixture.

Hearty Vegetables Are Key

 

Unroll and separate the second tube of crescent rolls into triangles, then press together to form a circle while sealing the seams. Once a circle is formed like a pie crust, place it over the filling. Wisk the remaining egg, brush over dough.

Bake uncovered, for 1 to 1/4 hours until done. During the baking process if the edges of the crust brown too fast, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Once done, loosen edges with a knife and remove spring form rim from pan. Let torte rest for 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe can be made without the meat, just add additional vegetables.

Enjoy, Trisha style!

Marley’s Easy Greens & Tomato Salad

Pour a package of spring mix into a bowl.

Slice grape tomatoes.

Shred a handful of basil leaves.

Splash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Marley’s Grapefruit Mimosa

Pair this delicious brunch with a Brut Prosecco and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to taste.

Blood orange sparkling water is also an excellent accompaniment.

Don’t forget to spay and neuter your animals!

Tune into Spaz on Health’s Marley’s Mother of a Brunch Episode to hear Marley’s cute rescue story. We dedicate this brunch to this beautiful girl. Don’t worry, she got a bite.

Volunteerism: Pre√ to the Afterlife

Volunteers Can Keep Their Shoes On

I suck at volunteering. I’m far too selfish, over-committed to other things, and, okay, lazy. I truly respect and admire people that volunteer their time and efforts. They will receive greater credits in the afterlife ledger. Volunteers? Move to the right for expedited check-in. No belts or shoe removal required and you can keep your laptops in your bag.

But what about those who donate money, but not time? Does that decrease our positive valence in the eyes of the eternal life judges? Is volunteering inherently more worthy than financial service? That entirely depends on what you value more. Personally, I treasure every spare moment, but not the pennies in my wallet. Donors also make the world a better place.

According to Harvard Health writer, Stephanie Watson, volunteering isn’t just good for the world, but healthy for us, too! It contributes to increased social connectivity by volunteers interacting with others during their selfless deeds, which in turn results in lower levels of loneliness and depression. It also appears to lower blood pressure and contribute to longer lifespans.

However, even with these perks (both earthly and celestial) clearly in mind, I cannot motivate myself to give up a Saturday out of my precious time to dish out soup, clean beaches, or even rally at the Capitol around causes I am passionate about. Why the hell not? Am I a bad person? No. I am not; I have my moments, but overall, I’m a decent person. I give a lot of money to charitable and philanthropic causes yearly (listen to Spaz on Health, Teammates for Life episode to learn the difference). Does that count? Will I get to move to the front of the coach, cattle-herding-like line in the afterlife because I was generous with a dollar? Maybe not so much. I never give more than I can afford. I never do without so that others can have. I give the little extra I can because I work two jobs and have a tiny amount of padding right now in my life (subject to change with any unexpected car or home repair expense).

Vianna Saves Girls Lives with Basketball

What makes someone deliver unselfishly of themselves to the universe? Are they born different? Are they more evolved? Yes. And yes. Take Vianna McGugan, for instance, who is my old friend and classmate. She retired from her work at Pfizer and now devotes her life to saving young girls from early pregnancy, rape, and even death in Uganda. Vianna is saving lives by introducing basketball to these young women and linking that with continuing their education in schools she is creating.  She created the organization Teammates for Life to provide the scaffolding for all the amazing lifesaving projects she does. This remarkable woman doesn’t just mail a check (insert sheepish grin); she goes and lives there, in third world country accommodations, fights entrenched misogyny and tribal antagonisms, digs wells, and recruits the young women she coaches. In her stateside time, Vianna is fundraising, sharing awareness, and collecting shoes and clothes not only for her girls, but for entire villages. She definitely has a spot in the expedited line to glory, glory in the highest. Her hopes are to grow the program from 30 girls to hundreds. See how you can help (if you’re an armchair do-gooder like me) by clicking here to donate. Even we lazy philanthropists can support Vianna so that she can get more girls out of their oppressive villages and into school and sports.

Raina Saves an Animal in Some Way Every Day 

Another volunteer that takes my breath away is my sister, Raina Spaziani. She is involved with so many animal charities that I have lost count. She donates over $40,000 a year to animal rescue organizations and initiatives. Additionally, she is in the process of developing her own no-kill cat shelter. She spends every spare moment raising funds for organizations like Pet Pals, providing transport for dogs and cats on death row from the South to shelters and homes in the North. She devotes a large part of her time petitioning and demonstrating for legislative change and tougher laws on animal abuse, building dog houses for neglected and chained dogs, and even going so far as to chain herself to a dog house in the blistering hot summer sun to raise awareness and create legal change around animal neglect and abuse. She is so committed that she suffered years of bullying and threats because she called out identified law enforcement agents for animal cruelty. The abuse still goes on. But, she continues to fearlessly speak out with a visceral rage against cruelty of those that cannot defend themselves. Raina literally saves an animal’s life every day of her life. For a while I had to stop opening her emails because every time I did, I ended up with a dog.

Lisa is a True American

My dear old pal, Lisa Middents, brings it in the activism category. She too will be in the accelerated afterlife line. She rallies, demonstrates, writes letters, coordinates and organizes protests, educates, and brings her family, too! She is a liberal for justice, so if that’s not your thing (if not, my suspicions are that you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, so I may be talking to myself right now) you may not agree with her politics, but you would still admire her dedicated fervor to truth, liberty, and justice for all.

She is an American fighting for the country and inhabitants she loves—all inhabitants. She takes volunteerism to a new level and is passionate about Meal on Wheels, and coordinated this walkathon too, all the while tending to a dying and beloved father.* Lisa is unfailingly kind, generous with her time, and passionate about the good fight. She’s most certainly another front of the line candidate. I am entirely confident that she won’t have to take off her shoes in the afterlife.

 She Ruined Designer Handbags

Not that long ago, I shared with my sister Raina that I owned a designer handbag that cost a small fortune. Aghast, she said to me, “Do you know how many animal’s lives I could save with that money?” And so now, I think about my purchases with that ruling the abacus—how many lives could this pair of boots, purse, new curtains, ring save? Both animal and human? I’m not saying that I will stop shopping and plan to give all my money to charity and philanthropy (you didn’t listen, did you?  And you still don’t know the difference, I suspect.) or to live in a hut without indoor plumbing . But I am far more considered. Sad news for Nordstroms: She has ruined designer handbags for me forever.

What Line Will we be in?

So, the big question: What line will we get in if we only donate but don’t volunteer? I like to think we help the rock stars of change make their music. Without funding, they are unable to accomplish their miracles. We may not be born equal in the do-good area, but we can certainly help the gifted change the world, which can’t hurt our cause either. (Let’s face it—it’s always about us.) My bet is maybe we’ll have to take off our shoes and show our laptops, but there’s a small chance we’ll be able to keep our belts on.

God Bless You

*Good night, Paul Middents, rest in peace. You were an amazing American, serving your country for 34 years as a Captain in the US Navy. You are upon whom your daughter modeled her dedication to nation and liberty. It was a privilege to know you. You were always kind, and you tolerated our teen years. God bless you.

 

 

Our Love Affair With Pharmaceuticals by Janice Messino

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 6.26.38 PM

I wanted to write about “Big Pharma” (aka the pharmaceutical industry) and how the industry affects all of us. I didn’t realize that I was personally affected, especially since I believed that, with my education and background, I knew better. However, in the past I, too, had allowed myself to be taken in. It all started coming back to me—all the drugs that doctors had, at the very least, suggested that I take; the flood of free sample I had been offered,  diagnosis after diagnosis. This was all before I started to take a close look at how I could use supplements, diet, and lifestyle to diminish or remove the physical symptoms I was experiencing. I don’t recall ever being educated by doctors as to how I could help myself through diet and lifestyle. As it turns out, I am not alone. 

According to Fierce Pharma, 9 out of 10 drug companies spend more on marketing than on drug research. CBS News reported in 2016 that the pharmaceutical drug industry spends $5.2 billion annually on drug advertising, a jump of 60% in just four years. This would account for the nonstop ads for pharmaceuticals. All the ads end with the same phrase: “Ask your doctor” about this drug or that. Thus, your doctor is also subjected to an onslaught of pharmaceutical marketing in a variety of delivery methods to the tune of $24 billion a year.

The Drug Pushers Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 5.49.32 PM

Sales representatives are the connector, foot soldiers in every drug maker’s attempt to reach us through our doctors. You might think that drug representatives would have a science or medical background, but this is not necessarily true at all. Pharmaceutical sales representatives do not come empty-handed. They visit doctors with samples (how many of you have been given these samples by your doctor who is overly positive about this new drug?), brochures and pamphlets, “swag” (branded products), personal gifts, and invitations to dinner. They may also invite a doctor to “educational” meetings where industry-paid doctors speak about particular drugs. Typically, these meetings are like infomercials; highly biased in favor of the drug with evidence taken from research that was designed, run, analyzed, and funded by the drug company itself. Sales reps are schooled only in promotional material, not in the science or medicine behind pharmaceuticals. To be fair, many doctors will take this into consideration.

The Crimes

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 6.10.33 PM

Most drug companies have been fined a substantial amount for ethical issues. For example, Seroquel, made by AstraZeneca, is an anti-psychotic intended to treat schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and has life-threatening side effects. It was being marketed for sleeplessness, dementia, and depression. This is known as going off-label and is a dangerous practice. When a drug is marketed for an off-label purpose, it has not been approved by the FDA for that condition and has not been studied for risks or dosages related to the condition. AstraZeneca did not admit any wrongdoing but settled for half a billion dollars, according to Lew Morris, former Chief Counsel for HHS office of Inspector General.

Just about every drug company has paid out for similar problems; it’s not just one drug company for one drug. According to the Corporate Research Project website,

  • Johnson & Johnson paid out 2.2 billion for criminal and civil allegations involving off-label marketing of a psychotropic drug and kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists to encourage off-label usage;
  • Eli Lilly and company agreed to pay 1.4 billion for off-label marketing of Zyprexa, another schizophrenia drug;
  • Glaxo Smith Kline was fined $3 billion for kickbacks paid to doctors and other health professionals to get them to prescribe and promote Wellbutrin (an anti-depressant) as not just an antidepressant, but as the happy, sex-drive-increasing, and skinny pill. 

This list is but a scratch on the surface of the myriad false claims, marketing fraud, and bribery payouts made by pharmaceutical companies. After all, pharmaceutical companies must make a profit and answer to their shareholders, but at what cost? If you would like to learn more about your doctor and their dealings with the pharmaceutical industry, go to Open Payments Data and search your doctor, hospital, or drug company for more information.

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http://www.revenuesandprofits.com

Sources for data in order of appearance:

https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing?page=0%2C1

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-ads-5-2-billion-annually-and-rising/

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2013/11/11/persuading-the-prescribers-pharmaceutical-industry-marketing-and-its-influence-on-physicians-and-patients

https://www.i-lawsuit.com/seroquel-linked-serious-life-threatening-side-effects/

https://www.corp-research.org/jnj

https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/

https://revenuesandprofits.com/understanding-the-new-pharma-business-model/

 

Lies About Love

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Ah, sweet love!! We all know what it feels like to be in love, even if we’ve never actually been in love. How do we know?? Our media tells us so! Movies, TV series, magazine articles, websites, Facebook, cartoons, TV commercials, print ads, billboards, song lyrics, music videos, wedding pageantry, advice columns, greeting cards, probably even cereal boxes are eager to show us exactly what love looks like, who is supposed to have it, how to know when we have it, how to know when we don’t have it, and what to do about that. The moderators of culture are so eager to inform us about love that, by the time we’re 4 or 5 years old, most of us are fully informed on romantic love (although pretty far away from needing the information).

The Ideology of Intimacy                     Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 11.59.20 AM

Okay, so what are the hallmarks of true love? A group of sociological researchers outlined the following very specific expectations for intimate relationships that are recognized in our society as markers of that very special kind of love:

♥︎ One True Love

This tells us that there is one and only one perfect “other” out there for us; one person who fits us exactly for always and forever. This love is completely unique and irreplaceable. We must relentlessly search for the One and never let go once we’ve found them.

♥︎  Love at First Sight 

This is the idea that True Love can occur without prior interaction, that it is an on-the-spot choice that is clear and decisive. We either know it or we don’t and we can tell immediately. If that doesn’t happen, then what we have is just a passing fancy, not the Real Thing.

♥︎ Love Conquers All

With this aspect, all we need is love! We come to know True Love as the answer to all of our problems. Once we have met the One, we are transformed. It can be a means of salvation, a lifeline. True love also prevails over all obstacles and outsiders. There is nothing that cannot be solved once we have true love!

♥︎ Happily Ever After

This is the clincher—once we have found True Love, we will be happy for the rest of our lives. Unhappiness means that the person we’re with isn’t the One. True Love endures to the end of time and if it doesn’t, it wasn’t the Real Thing and we were just fooling ourselves.

I have no doubt that, if you have been exposed to mainstream Western culture, you are quite familiar with this way of thinking about romantic love relationships. It’s all so obvious, isn’t it? Sure it is! Until you actually fall in love…

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When we actually fall in love, we find that this model of love is full of holes. Real life almost never matches up to this ideal and when the ideal fails to happen, we may decide that we ourselves are unworthy of love or that we are unlovable. Belief in the Myth of True Love can bring about feelings of deep disappointment, frustration, anxiety, stress, depression, or anger. How is that good for us or our partner?

Let’s look at a different model, a model much closer to reality. I call this one the Truths of Intimate Love. Here’s how it goes:

♥︎ Many Loves & Ways to Love

The truth of love is that we can love many people in a variety of ways. We can—gasp!—have the same feelings of love and attraction for more than one person at a time and it doesn’t make us horrible people; it makes us complex, mulitlayered humans. We may also consider that someone who was “right” for us at one stage in our lives may be “wrong” at another stage in our lives. Again, that doesn’t make us horrible people!

♥︎ Love Grows As We Do

Love does not require a sudden illumination or dramatic moment of choice. It may happen by accident, or something that emerges from certain life circumstances, or even just by going along with whatever is happening. Not only that, but more often than not, love is ambivalent or confused. There’s so much to know about another person and so much changes all the time. Some days we’re all in; some days we’re not.

♥︎ Problems Happen

Love alone cannot solve our personal problems or problems in the relationship. Love is not the answer to dissatisfaction with out lives. Love can’t save us from ourselves, erase our destructive patterns, or resolve interpersonal conflict. That kind of thing takes applied intention and problem-solving skills. Relying on love alone will only dig the hole deeper.

♥︎ No Guarantees

Long-term love relationships require open, honest communication. To be in an enduring love relationship, we must be willing to negotiate, compromise, and change. True intimacy is contingent on the ongoing satisfaction of both partners and true happiness is found within. If we aren’t happy, the first place to look is at ourselves, not at someone else who is “making” us unhappy.

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If I’ve burst your True Love bubble, I apologize. I think it’s better that I burst it here rather than you having your rosy expectations come crashing down around you. It’s important to be aware of when your expectations for your partner or your relationship are coming from the Myth of True Love because the Myth is usually a set up for disappointment and disillusionment. Shift your perspective to the Truths of Intimate Love and you’ll probably find what you were searching for. Because your partner isn’t the problem—the myth is.

Interested in learning more about the different types of love? Tune in to Love Is In the Cards (https://www.greeninkradio.com/tarot-talk-with-mystic-kat-1/), for details on nine different kinds of love that we may experience in our lives.

Reference

Lantz, Herman R., Jane Keyes, and Martin Schultz. 1975. “The American Family in the Preindustrial Period: From Base Lines in History to Change.” American Sociological Review, February 40(1):21-36.