Thursday, December 27, 2012

TV as a time waster - another gem by Bill Bonner

I read this excellent financial newsletter by Bill Bonner, which has educated me more about life then many books I have read.
Here is another gem about TV and its awesome time wasting power. Some of the calculations are hard to digest - but truthful
The Bonner Family - Zombified!

Baltimore, Maryland

Yes, we have succumbed to the biggest zombie-maker of the last 50 years. As a Christmas present to the family, Pater Familias bought a large-screen TV and put it down in the rec room. But is it really a benefit? Or a curse?

The background: we have lived for 30 years happily without television. We watched neither the news, nor sports. Ask us a question about popular culture...we wouldn't know the answer. We had no conversation about what appeared on TV the night before, because we didn't see it. We didn't know how to operate a TV remote control.

If we watched more TV today, we'd know more about something. But what?
We'd know that the US was scheduled to go over the 'fiscal cliff' next Monday...or so. We'd probably think this was a very important thing. Heck, everybody's talking about must be important, right? Here's the Reuters' report:

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday warned that the United States looks to be headed over the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts that will start next week if squabbling politicians do not reach a deal.

    "It looks like that is where we're headed," Reid said of the likelihood of the U.S. economy going over the "fiscal cliff" - with tax increases on most working Americans and automatic spending cuts kicking in next month.

    Reid urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, to bring his chamber back into session and to avoid the biggest impact of the "fiscal cliff" by passing a Democratic-backed bill extending low income tax rates for all Americans except those with net household incomes above $250,000 a year.

We're programmed by millions of years of natural selection to pay attention to the news. Imagine sitting around in camp 20,000 years ago. A fellow runs in and tells us that an enemy tribe is about to attack. Better pay attention!

News was important. There wasn't much of it. But it could be a matter of life and death.

But what about today's TV news? Is it important? Does it matter? Or is it just noise...causing us to react to things that we can't really understand or control...?

The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV per day - 34 hours per week. In other words, the average American spends as much time watching television as the average Frenchman spends at work! If he has a job...

Since we have not owned a TV since 1985, we have missed out on a lot of "TV knowledge." If we had watched as much TV as the average American we would have spent 47,736 hours - or 1,200 work weeks - or the equivalent of 24 years' worth of 40-hour work weeks -- sitting on our fat derrieres watching the boob tube.

Which is why we didn't own one.

What did we miss? What do people who spent all that time watching TV know that we don't know? On the other hand, what do we know that they don't know?

Not every innovation increases output. Some make us poorer, not richer, by increasing consumption rather than production.

When the television was first invented, it was considered a huge breakthrough. People thought it would be used to educate the masses. The hoi polloi would no longer have to live in ignorance, said proponents. They imagined TV shows that taught people to use better grammar...or that taught history...or mathematics. They saw a whole range of TV programs that brought the lower classes into the offices, homes and lives of the upper classes...people who were better educated, people with better manners and better working habits. They thought the television would improve the quality of peoples' lives by showing them better ways to live.

We recall a childhood friend who, in about 1958, got up early to watch an educational show on TV. Our friend was trying to learn Russian. It didn't work. TV is too passive. It's too easy to turn to another channel. TV doesn't challenge the soothes sedates allows him to occupy his mind without actually thinking about anything.

The lower classes took to the TV in a big way. But they didn't use it for self improvement. They used it to waste time. They were zombified by it...spending hours...days...weeks...months...and years of their lives sitting in front of it. That's part of the explanation for why wages at the low end have gone nowhere in the last 40 years - people at the bottom are wasting their time!

What do people have to work with? Time...resources (including energy)...and skills. Waste time and you waste life itself. You will grow poorer. TV is a time-waster...a life-waster.

Fortunately, the Bonner family avoided TV for three decades. The children grew up without one. We spent most of our career without one. As far as we can tell we're better off without it.

Why then would we set up one now? Are we going soft? Are we getting stupid? Are we becoming zombies Stay tuned!

Last night, Edward, 19, and one of his friends were watching a Japanese crime movie. It had subtitles, which allowed us to see that Japanese thugs are no more eloquent than English-speakers. They were much more polite however. One lowlife bowed at his superior, who in turn bowed to his boss. Then, the lowlife got whacked. And then his boss got whacked. And it looked like they were all going to get whacked in a yakuza mob war.

"Hey, it's shouldn't be watching that sort of thing," we said. "Let's watch something nice."

We ended up watching Chevy Chase in "Christmas Vacation." Chevy was determined to have an 'old fashioned Griswold family Christmas.' But everything goes wrong. And having the extended family come for the holidays is not as sweet as he had hoped. But despite explosions, fires, auto accidents, kidnappings and a SWAT team all comes right in the end.
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters. 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Some really funny weight loss and diet quotes

1. I am a nutritional overachiever. 
2. I think I just ate my willpower.
3. Where do you go to get anorexia?  ~Shelley Winters
4. I have gained and lost the same ten pounds so many times over and over again my cellulite must have déjà vu.  ~Jane Wagner
5. I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has become since 1990.  ~Dave Barry
6. The biggest seller is cookbooks and the second is diet books - how not to eat what you've just learned how to cook.  ~Andy Rooney
7. Rich, fatty foods are like destiny:  they too, shape our ends.
8. I never worry about diets.  The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.  ~Mae West
9. I've decided that perhaps I'm bulimic and just keep forgetting to purge.  ~Paula Poundstone
10. Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out, but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake.
11. The cardiologist's diet:  If it tastes good, spit it out.  
12. I have a great diet.  You're allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people.  ~Ed Bluestone
13. I'm not overweight.  I'm just nine inches too short.  ~Shelley Winters
14. Flabbergasted, adj.  Appalled over how much weight you have gained. 
15. My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.  Unless there are three other people.  ~Orson Welles
16. Obesity is really widespread.  ~Joseph O. Kern II (simply brilliant!)
17. She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say "when." ~P.G. Wodehouse

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An interesting investing mantra

Today's investment mantra
"As time goes on, I get more and more convinced that the right method of investment is to put fairly large sums into enterprises which one thinks one knows something about and in the management of which one thoroughly believes." - John Maynard Keynes 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The new epidemic- Offendicitis ! OR Stop Being Offended Today: The Cure For Everything That Irritates You

There is an epidemic spreading across the world.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re all carriers of the disease.

It’s called Offend-initis, a skin condition whereby the thickness of our skin melts away to the point where everything offends us.

Symptoms may include: hurt feelings, indignation, irritability, disappointment, grumpiness and an all-around allergic reaction to anyone who says or does something we don’t like.

Fortunately, there is a cure.

But, before the healing begins, we need to start by acknowledging that there’s a problem in the first place.

For many of us, we don’t even know we’re walking around with this virus, but it’s there alright, destroying all the peace of mind cells we have in our body.

Being offended doesn’t just hurt our feelings, it compromises our whole “happiness immune system.”

So, go ahead, you can say it. It’s only three words: I get offended.

And don’t worry.

You’re not alone.

We all do.

In fact, there’s almost nothing we don’t get offended by.

We get offended by a roll of the eye or a shake of the head, as easily as we get offended when we’re ignored, picked on, talked about, not talked about, overworked, unappreciated, or taken for granted.

And, that’s not counting all those times in a day when we get offended by life disappointing us. You know what I’m talking about…those times when someone cuts us off on the road, jumps in front of us at the market, or doesn’t say thank you when we think they should.

We get offended by parents who can’t control their kids in restaurants, friends who don’t invite us to parties, neighbors who refuse to pick up after their dog’s mess.

Take your pick. There’s something for everybody.

Now, you might say being offended is nothing more than a collection of pet peeves—all those little annoyances that get under our skin.

And it’s true.

Of course, seeing as how the skin is the largest organ in the body, that’s a lot of room for these “pet peeves” to get into our system and thrive. We need to be careful of infection.

It’s time to let the healing begin.

Here is a simple prescription on how to stop being offended—three small pills to help clear up the irritation of life.

Pill #1: Don’t Be Offended By Anything You Can’t Change

This isn’t a pill as much as it’s an awareness we need to swallow. Let’s face facts. We’re not helping the world one bit by being offended.

And, yet, we often mistake our indignation for action, thinking that our being offended makes us more empathetic and caring, as if being upset by people who text while driving makes us pillars of the community.

In other words, we try to justify being offended.

I know I get offended at texting drivers—the indignation of someone putting my kids at risk.

And while it’s true that it’s dangerous, lets be real about this whole “justifying” business: my stink eye across the freeway isn’t going to save hundreds of lives, anymore than being offended at the guy who lets his dog poop all over someone else’s lawn will do anything to beautify my own.

Being offended without taking action does nothing to make the world a better place. It only raises our blood pressure and makes us agitated.

If we’re really offended by something, we should do something about it. Talk to the person who offended you, deal with the issue, elicit change.

And if I really wanted to do something about drivers who text, I should march to City Hall, call my congressman, blog about it, talk to my own kids, rally the troops. Take real action.

But, I don’t, so I stew in my indignation…and stewing does nothing but reduce the quality of my life. But, I can change that. We all can.

We can choose, from this moment forward, to not allow ourselves to expend one ounce of energy on what we can’t change. Rather, let’s change the things we can—starting with our own peace of mind.

Pill #2:  Stop Looking For Things To Be Offended By

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times: we find what we look for. And when it comes to being offended, nothing could be more true.

Somedays it seems like we’re on the lookout for things to be offended by. We’re waiting for it. It almost becomes a habit and, like any habit, the more we keep at it, the more it becomes an everyday part of our lives.

Fortunately, habits can be broken. If we choose, we can change our perspective. And this isn’t just looking at the world as if the glass is half-full, it’s making a conscious decision to look at our entire life differently.

Instead of always being the victim and looking for what someone is “doing to us,” we can start looking for all the things someone is “doing for us.”

We could thank the neighbor’s dog for fertilizing our lawn, or the slow driver ahead of us for making us stop rushing.

We could thank the texting driver for making us put our cell phones down, or the negativity dwellers for making us appreciate our positive attitudes, or the guy who’s always giving us grief for making us treat others nicer.

In fact, we could thank all those individuals who offend us for making us stronger, happier and more content.

Do this and the things that once irritated us, will now become our teachers, guiding us toward inner peace.

Again, it’s all a matter of perspective, or as Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.”

Pill #3:  Give Others The Space To Be Themselves

I know this is a big pill to swallow, but the reality is simple: most people aren’t out to get us. They’re not doing things to make us miserable and ruin our day. They’re doing it because they’re living their own life experiences.

Yes, that sometimes means they’re inconsiderate, annoying, unconscious, and not living up to our high expectations.

But, guess what, we’re not always living up to other people’s expectations. I’ve certainly offended my share of people. I’ve rolled my eyes, said things I wish I hadn’t, been inconsiderate, unconscious and annoying.

And while I’m not proud of it, I do know that I’m a better person today than I was yesterday, in the same way that the person who offended you today may be a better person tomorrow.

The fact is, we all need space to be ourselves—to have good days and bad days, and to not always be at our best. We need the space to change, grow, and evolve, and to do it on our own time.

And the more we adopt this “big picture” attitude, the less demanding we will be of those around us, reducing the likelihood that we will be offended in the first place.

And here’s the bonus: the more space we give for others to be themselves, the more space they’re likely to make for us. I know it’s a tough goal to stretch for, but it’s also one that could change the world. It’s called freedom and it’s a peaceful, energizing, and beautiful thing.

That’s it…three small pills to cure what irritates you.

Of course, it’s not that simple. If you really want to be cured from what offends you, you’ll need to stay on this prescription for the rest of your life.

But, that’s a small price to pay for the freedom to live every moment with the knowingness that your days of being chronically offended are once and forever over.
Written on 7/05/2012 by Bill Apablasa. Bill Apablasa is a writer, social experimenter, nomadic homebody and creator of, where he writes about reinventing your room at a time.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I really enjoyed a recent Hindi movie called " Gangs of Wasseypur". Brilliant acting, great direction, and an unusually violent but creatively conceived storyline. Something like the Godfather in Bihar.
It also featured some lovely songs that featured an interesting mix of English, hindi & local bihari dialects.
Here is an (adult) translation of one of my perennial favorites, titled O Womaniya....

O Womaniya: Lyrics, Translation (Gangs of Wasseypur)

Movie: Gangs of Wasseypur
Music: Sneha Khanwalkar
Lyrics: Varun Grover
Singers: Khusboo Raaj, Rekha Jha

Once again, tried to keep the meaning/translation of the song as much as possible for me. Thanks to @Rohwit for help. The lyrics are same for the regular version (Womaniya Live) and remixed version of the song.

taare jo babuna, tarti babuniya
babuna ke hatthe na chadhti babuniya

When the guy stares, the girl stares back,
the lady doesn't get caught by the guy..

O womaniya,
A aa womaniya..

Maange jo babuna prem nisaniya
bole jo thodi katiho kaniya..
badle rupahiya ke de na chawaniya
saiyyan ji jhapte to hona hiraniya

O woman, O woman..
When the guy (her husband) asks for token of love,
if he asks for a kiss on chin, bite his ears..
In exchange for a rupee, don't give him twenty five paisas,
and if the husband attacks, be a doe (run away like one from lion)..

reh reh ke maange choli bataniya
jee mein lutaye, lot-lataniya
chaahe muhjhaunsa jab haath sikaniya
kandha mein dena, daant bhukaniya


if he asks for buttons of blouse repeatedly,
while thinking about love playing,
when the wretched guy wants to warm his hands,
dig your teeth into his shoulders..

bolega babuna chal jaiho patna
Patna bahane wo chaahega satna
daiho na babuna ko ticket kataniya
patna na jaana chahe jaana sivaniya


The guy would ask you to come to Patna..
In the name of Patna, he'd try to be touchy with you..
Don't let the guy get a ticket done (for Patna),
Don't go to Patna, even if you go to Siwan..


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Croquet Party - the funnest Financial newsletter ever !

Ouzilly, France 

The sun rises slowly this time of year. And then, it disappears. 

That has happened almost every day since we've been here. It has been the summer that hasn't been. No sun. No heat. No summer. 

Normally, the weather south of the Loire river is supposed to be better than north of it. But this year it has seemed about the same - cloudy, windy, cool...more like November than August. Last week, we had a fire in the fireplace during the day...and a thick quilt on the bed at night. 

Usually, it is much different. We are outside all day long, with breakfast out on the lawn...lunch and dinner on the porch...and in between spent at the river or the pond. 

This year it has been too cool to swim in the river and too breezy to eat outdoors. Inside, it is dreary...dark...and a little depressing. And we worry; maybe autumn will come before summer! 

And then, we reminisce. What a glorious summer we had 2 years ago! 

We remembered it over dinner last night. Sunny, clear after the other. We thought they would never end. It was like paradise. We sat in our deck chairs, under the trees...reading. Or, we rowed across the pond in the late afternoon...admiring the ducks...and occasionally taking aim at a giant water rat - a 'ragondin' - which invaded Europe from South America. 

But the high point of the summer of 2010 was 'the war against the moles.' Last night, we recalled it, more or less as it actually happened. 

On the 8th of August, 2010, the Bonner family decided to schedule a croquet tournament. Friends, family, and neighbors were invited - dozens of them. Stores of alcohol were laid up. Vast quantities of hors d'oeuvres were planned. It was to be the social event of the season. 

But you don't put together an event like that overnight. It takes weeks of planning. 

"Mr. Bonner," said our gardener, Damien, long before the night in question. "We've got a serious problem with moles." 

"Well, don't worry about it....a few molehills don't bother me." 

"But they bother me. I'm the gardener. It's my reputation at stake. If people see molehills in the croquet court they'll wonder what the hell I've been doing. But don't worry. I'll get rid of them." 

Damien, a man of 40-something, with the hardened hands of a manual laborer and the soft heart of an artist, opened the back of his truck to show off his arsenal. He had poison. He had traps. He had things that made such a high-pitched noise we couldn't hear it; allegedly the moles could hear it, and they disliked it so intensely that they would move to the neighbor's lawn to get away from it. 

"You can't play croquet on a lumpy yard," Damien continued. 

Then, he brought out his secret weapon. His V1 rocket...his atom bomb...a funny-looking contraption that looked as though it was attached to a hand-grenade. 

"What's that?" we wondered. 

"It's a mine. An AME. An anti-mole explosive. You bury it under the ground. The moles get near and it blows up." 

"Seems a little extreme." 

"'s very effective. But only as a weapon of last resort." 


Meanwhile, the cook was busy too. She was a robust American from Minneapolis, of middle age, red haired, whom we'd hired from a little ad on Craigslist. 

Every August, we try to hire a cook. Just for the month when we have an 'open house,' with family and friends coming to visit. It is always an adventure, because we never know what we'll get. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes they cook well, but are ill-tempered. Sometimes they are pleasant, but cannot cook at all. Sometimes we get a real gem, like Karina, our cook last year. She could cook...and was very pleasant to be around. But itinerant cooks like Karina are rare. 

Cooks must be under a lot of pressure. So many deadlines. So much can go wrong. The best of them turn to alcohol. Some crack up. Some do both. 

Jenny had been holding up well. But our mother, 90, who spends most of her time in the kitchen, had begun to notice the strain. 

"I think she's drinking..." she told Elizabeth. 

"Well...just so long as she gets the food out on time." 

"She seems so nice...I'm sorry to see her feeling so bad..." 

"She doesn't seem to feel bad. Every time I go into the kitchen she's smiling and laughing..." 

"That's because she's drinking." 

"Then, I hope she continues." 

As the day of the event approached, people - guests, relatives, friends -- gathered at the house. It is a huge, rambling excuse of a house...with wings tacked onto wings...and architectural eras piled on one another, like a top hat with a pair of bell bottom jeans. Many of the rooms haven't been used in many years. The whole house is closed up most of the year. It is far too expensive to heat it in cold weather. Only once a year is it the summer. Then, arriving in July, we throw open the shutters...take off the sheets covering the furniture...brush away the cobwebs...and settle into a graceful warm weather occupation. 

Occasionally, such a big house is useful...such as when you have a lot of visitors coming for a croquet tournament. 

The cast of characters was long...and colorful. A cousin, Calvert, was the source of croquet knowledge. Calvert looks a little like Prince Charles and speaks with a soft, southern accent. He smiles pleasantly and sounds like a gentleman. 

Behind the gracious demeanor, however, is a croquet shark. Calvert plays to win. And he usually does. He goes up and down the US East Coast playing what might be called 'semi-pro' croquet. We were lucky to have him with us in France. He showed us all how to play, and not just how to hold the mallet and how to strike the ball. Croquet, we learned is mainly a game of strategy. Calvert, a former military officer from the Vietnam era, approaches it as if he were conducting the besieging the Russians at St. Petersburg or outflanking the yankees at Chancellorsville. At dinner, he is charming and civil. At croquet, he is Carl von Clauswitz. 

Maria's 20-something friends arrived the day before the tournament. Her friends are all actresses, as she is. This area of "deep France" doesn't get many starlets. So when she and her friends gather, it makes a stir. 

The girls were invited over to a neighbor's house to go for a swim in his pool. They went over dressed in bikinis - three of them. They swam in the pool for a while, and then went in the house just as 73-year-old Henri was coming down the stairs. Maria embraced him on both cheeks, as neighbors here do. The other girls, English and Australian, unsure of the proper etiquette in the region, followed her lead. 

"Well, that doesn't happen to me every day," Henri reported the next day. 

"Three gorgeous girls - in bikinis, no less - came up to me and kissed me on both cheeks. Whew!" 

We were having a drink on the veranda a few days before the tournament. Damien was still at work preparing the croquet court. He was not happy. He should have left for home by this time. But his campaign against the moles was not going well. 

"Damned moles! I keep killing them. And they keep popping up. And now they are learning to avoid the poison and the traps. I may have to bring out the heavy artillery." 

Damien was at war. The normal rules wouldn't apply. 

"I've got a little surprise for them." 

The tournament was a dress-up affair. Guests were instructed to wear white. This was meant to be an elegant occasion. The girls interpreted this in their own way. They wore white. But they did not necessarily put on dresses that the people of rural France were accustomed to. One had on what appeared to be a white cocktail tight that you couldn't have wedged a nickel between the fabric and the girl...and so short that one false move would cause a scandal. 

"Oh my Lord," asked Calvert's wife, an attractive blond in her 50s. "How are you going to play croquet in that?" 

"Well, you told us to wear white," came the reply, "and this is the only white thing I have." 

Another decided that a gauzy, see-through shirt would be the eye-stopper outfit of the evening. It was. 

"Keep your eye on the ball," said Calvert's wife to her husband. 

Finally, Maria came down. She was more familiar with the local customs and more conservatively attired. Dressed in a flowing white dress, she looked a bit like Katherine Hepburn in a 1930s movie. The "Palm Beach Story" maybe. She was striking too...if less provocative. 

The local people - our French neighbors -- had never seen anything like it. When they arrived, there was Calvert, in dress whites, looking a little like Napoleon at Austerlitz, getting the lay of the land before the battle. Behind him were the three actresses...and a few other friends from America. 

One of the girls took up a mallet. Calvert reached around her waist, showing her how to use it. 

"Don't let her bend over," said Madame de Hugebert, an older woman, whose family is said to be one of the "old" and "great" families of France. "My husband has a heart condition." 

The Hugeberts are among the ancient aristocracy of the region. They have several immense chateaux and cling to a style of life that is both refined and successful. Madame and Monsieur are now in their late '80s. But they are said to still 'dress' for dinner every night...and send their grandchildren to Harvard. They have always been warm and welcoming to us. But their presence at any gathering seems to raise standards and lower temperatures. Men hoist their neckties. Women fix their hair and tell their children to stand up straight. Inviting them to our soiree put all thought of countrified barbecue or hoe-down out of the question. You didn't invite the Hugeberts to such an informal event. This was meant to be an elegant occasion. We would dress well, sip champagne from proper flutes...and dine al fresco after the game was completed. 

The girl struck the ball. It went off in the wrong direction. 

"I'll have to give you another lesson," said Calvert, his southern accent turning to honey. 

Pierre, meanwhile, is a farmer who lives next door. He is used to working with tools and equipment. He had no trouble with the mallet, hitting the ball square and sending it off towards the wicket. 

While the game was starting up, Elizabeth went to check on the food. 

"I think she's feeling nervous," mother whispered to her before she got to the kitchen door. 

But Jenny was beyond nervous. 

"Heeere..." she said with a sliding vowel and a sloppy grin. She pushed a tray of hors d'oeuvres towards Elizabeth. "They're all ready... We don't want anyone to go hungry, do we?" 

Elizabeth came back outside, carrying the tray. 

"Oh la la," she reported to her husband, "she's drunk." 

Then turning to our youngest child, then 15... 

"Edward...go in there and try to help her. And keep an eye on her. And take Gabby with you if you want." 

Gabriel lives next door. He and Edward are the same age. They share the same teenage sense of humor and may not have been the best choice to look out for a drunken cook. 

Outside, the game continued. Calvert planned the strategy, generously offering advice to all participants. He was particularly generous to the girls, showing them exactly how to grip the mallet and how to hit the ball. 

The Australian's see-through top might have gone unremarked, say, on the Cote d'Azur. There, topless sunbathers are common. Some sun lovers there are bottomless too. The locals become rather blase about it. 

But here in rural Poitou, she could not make a move without attracting notice. 

"Here," Calvert advised. "Bend over a little. Hold your left arm straight. Here, let me show you..." 

Calvert stood as close to her as matter allows. He stretched her left arm out towards the shank of the mallet. His right arm drew her right are up closer to her chest. 

Pierre watched with great interest. So did Henri. And Henry. And your editor too. At that point, it was perhaps not croquet technique that had our interest. 

"Ahem..." said Pierre's wife. "Is it my turn yet?" 

"Calvert, maybe you could give Henry some tips," suggested Elizabeth. 

"I would be delighted to do so..." said Calvert letting go of the Australian. 

The first rumblings from the kitchen began about this time. 

"You little bas***ds!" yelled a voice entirely out of keeping with the genteel event Elizabeth had planned. 

"Oh my..." said Elizabeth, smiling at Madame de Hugebert as she beat a quick retreat into the kitchen. 

"What's going on in here," she asked. The boys were laughing. The cook was angry. Neither offered an explanation. 

"Sorry," said the cook sheepishly...languorously stirring a pot of soup. 

With nothing forthcoming, Elizabeth returned to the party. 

Addressing herself to Madame de Hugebert: 

"You never know what you'll get when you advertise for a cook. We've had French cooks, Swiss cooks, American cooks. Every year we try something new." 

"Well, why don't you just find one you like and stick with her?" 

"I'd love to...but they never seem to come back." 

Both women looked at each other awkwardly for a moment. In some social circles not being able to keep a cook is worse than forgery and only slightly less embarrassing than pedophilia. 

Calvert was offering a lesson to the English girl. Henri was trying to be helpful too. 

"Allow me to show you," he said, putting his arm around her to show her the proper way to grip a mallet. 

We thought he had just learned himself, about 15 minutes earlier. But he seemed to have enough of the technique to be able to pass it on. 

"No...I think she should hold it a little higher up," Monsieur de Hugebert interrupted. "Let me show her..." 

"Hughes" said Madame de Hugebert... "You don't know how to play croquet." 

"Yes I do. I learned it when I was a prisoner of the English in WWII." 

"Why were you a prisoner of the English," Calvert asked. 

'What did you do during the war' is a question you don't ask in France. Everyone was in La Resistance. That's all you need to know. 

"It's a long story," Madame de Hugebert replied... "You Americans have a hard time understanding it." 

"She means he was on the wrong side," Pierre's wife whispered. "He was fighting for the Germans. They almost shot him as a traitor." 

Clang...smash...crash...suddenly an awful din arose in the kitchen. 

"I'll get you bas***ds!" 

The doors of the kitchen were open. We could see what was going on this time. The two boys were running around the big kitchen table...followed by the cook with a meat cleaver in her hand. 

Madame de Hugebert had a satisfied look on her face, as if she found a compromising photo hidden in the pages of the family Bible. 

The boys took a couple laps, easily outpacing the cook. After all, they had an advantage of about 30 years and 100 pounds on her. Then, they exited through the open doors and kept going around the side of the house. 

The cook slammed her meat cleaver into the carving board and then went back to stirring the soup. 

The crowd on the lawn was speechless for a moment. Henri still had his arm around the English girl in the very tight, very short dress. The Australian girl had sat down in a beach chair and was attended by Henry and Pierre. 

After a moment, Elizabeth smoothly picked up the conversation: 

"Well, you never know what you will get when you hire a cook from Craigslist." 

"Let's get back to the game," Calvert added. Turning to the Australian, "I think it's your turn." 

"I'll help her this time," said Pierre. 

The Australian girl in the see-through blouse bent over to drive the ball towards the center wicket. Pierre bent with her, giving her pointers about how to aim and swing the mallet. 

Henry seemed to bend a little too. And Calvert. And Monsieur Hugebert. All hearts beat in sympathy with the Australian girl...all eyes were upon her. She alone had her eye on the ball. 

She whacked it solidly. It missed the wicket, continuing on to the far corner of the croquet court. It looked as though it would go out of bounds. But just as it crossed the 80 yard line, it took off like a rocket...straight up...along with bits of grass and dirt. 

A loud ka-boom sounded. Everyone jumped. Startled. Mr. Hugebert ducked, perhaps guided by some ancient memory, and searched the sky for enemy aircraft. 

And then, Damien appeared from around the corner of the house. 

"Oh...I guess I forgot to take out one of the mines."

Author - Bill Bonner, President Agora Inc. Writes weekly financial newsletters for Equitymaster, and travels the world, giving great travel memoirs too !

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Inspiration:The Troubles Tree

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

After opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward, he walked me to my car. We passed the tree, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children, so I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home.

Then in the morning, I pick them up again." "Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Coffee Consumption Reduces Mortality

The largest prospective cohort study evaluated the impact of coffee consumption on all-cause mortality and involved 229,000 men and 173,000 women, who were followed for up to 13 years.

After adjustment for smoking status and other potential confounders, associations between coffee consumption (either caffeinated or decaffeinated) and reduced all-cause mortality were evident at relatively low levels of consumption (2 to 3 cups/day).
Compared to non–coffee drinkers, the risk of all-cause mortality among men and women who consumed 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily was 0.90 and 0.87.
The apparent benefit of coffee was similar for individuals with high levels of coffee consumption, including those who drank six or more cups of coffee per day. [UpToDate]
(Ref: Freedman ND, Park Y, Abnet CC, et al. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1891).
Commentary: I am a coffee addict - I have it daily, though generally 1-2 cups only, but I like it strong :)
It is heartening to note that even though my coffee may be heavy on my wallet, it's good for my health !

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ayurvedic doctors to perform eye surgeries

Jaipur: The National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur plans to hire modern ophthalmologists who will not only perform surgeries with a team of Ayurvedic eye specialists, but also train the postgraduate students of the department of Shalakya Tantra (eye and ENT) in cataract, glaucoma and other eye surgeries. “We will hire qualified ophthalmologists (eye specialists and surgeons) on part-time basis,” said Dr Ajay Kumar Sharma, director, NIA Jaipur, adding, “We will begin with cataract surgery, the most common form, and later cover other eye surgeries, like glaucoma.” The institute has already implemented two similar synergies between modern surgery and Ayurveda at department of Shalya Tantra (surgery) and department of Prasuti Tantra (gynaecology). “At Shalya Tantra department, modern surgeons have joined their Ayurveda counterparts in performing most common surgeries, like appendicitis, hernia, gall-stone and at department of Prasuti Tantra they are aiding to perform caesarean deliveries and other tubectomy,” Dr Sharma said. [Source: Bhaskar, Sunday, July 8, 2012]
Comments: I am cautiously optimistic about the concept. It seems like a good idea in that there are hundreds of thousands of blind Indians, especially in the rural areas who can easily be given sight by cataract surgery. The WHO/NPCB (National Programme for Control of Blindness) survey has shown that there is a backlog of over 22 million blind eyes (12 million blind people) in India, and 80.1% of these are blind due to cataract. (source) There is a significant dearth of eye specialists in these region, and trained doctors of alternative medicine can certainly help in this situation. However, my main concern stems from a quality point of view. The training of these ayurvedic doctors and the situation in many of there colleges is far from satisfactory. The regulatory body for these colleges is also not very effective. These doctors may lack knowledge of anatomy, physiology and other basic sciences, especially in comparison to their MBBS doctor counterparts. Finally, employing part-time ophthalmologists to impart training to Ayurvedic students may not be an ideal way to bring about a substantial change in the demographic of cataract surgery. Finally, many of these super-specialist Ayurvedic doctors are likely to practice in cities, defeating the basic purpose of this exercise. We need rural doctors in a large way (like the Chinese barefoot doctors) and this would probably be done better with the Ministry of Health proposal of creating a separate degree for Rural Medicine

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How can we prevent deaths at Amarnath Yatra ?

Preventing Amaranth Yatra Deaths

This year again people have died during the Amarnath Yatra. There have already been 67 deaths in 16 days of yatra. This is despite medical examination being made compulsory. Probably the organizers are accepting fake medical certificates. The certificate required is only from a GP. The fitness required for travel to altitudes above 10,000 feet usually should be from a specialist.
I think the easiest test which the government should stipulate is the 6-minute walk test. The purpose of this test is to assess exercise tolerance in chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. The test is also used as a performance-based measure of functional exercise capacity in other populations including healthy older adults.
The six-minute walk test measures the distance an individual is able to walk for six minutes on a hard, flat surface. The goal is for the individual to walk as far as possible in this duration. The individual is allowed to self-pace and rest as needed as they traverse back and forth along a marked walkway.
The six minute walk distance in healthy adults has been reported to range from 400m to 700m. The median 6MWD is 580 m for healthy men and 500 m for healthy women.
When the 6MWD is reduced, a thorough search for the cause of the impairment is warranted. The following tests may then be helpful: pulmonary function, cardiac function, ankle–arm index, muscle strength, nutritional status, orthopedic function, and cognitive function.
A fall in SpO2 of more than 4 % (ending below 93 %) suggests significant desaturation.
A 6-minute walk distance of ≤300 m is a simple and useful prognostic marker of subsequent cardiac death in patients with mild-to-moderate heart failure (Tex Heart Inst J 2007;34:166–9).
According to the American Thoracic Society, patients of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) who can cover less than 680 feet (200 m) during the six-minute test are four times more likely to die than those who can walk greater distances.
Minimal clinically important difference (MCID) is defined as the smallest meaningful change, judged by the patient or experts, determined by questioning or observing the patient. This change is necessarily larger than the change due to measurement error and day-to-day variability.
An improvement of more than 70 m (54-80) or 10% in distance walked appears to be clinically important and noticeable to patients.  Estimates of the minimum decrease in distance walked that are important to patients range from 24 to 54 m.
To sum up, it can be said that anyone with less than 200 m distance covered in the 6-minute walk test should not be allowed to go to the Yatra. Those who can cover a distance of 200-300 m need further tests.  Only those who can cover a distance of 500 meters should get a clearance from a GP without further testing.
My take: A very important piece of topical medical news, which is easy to do, requires no special expertise, & makes a lot of common sense, something not always seen in the field of medical testing !
I would also like to highlight that this practice of issuing 'fake' medical certificates needs to be curbed by at least sensitizing the doctors or sending notices to the ones responsible for giving certificates, regarding people dying on Amarnath Yatra. I believe that most doctors are not doing this for extra money, but to make it 'convenient' for people to travel to Amarnath Yatra. This is taken as a simple formality, and unfortunately leads to avoidable deaths. I recently read about a 24 year old mother of a child from Chandigarh, who died during this yatra, and I can imagine what trauma this would cause to the entire family. I would shudder to think that a medical certificate for this mother could have been issued by me, if they had come to me. This has made me even more careful regarding medical certificates, and I would urge other doctors to do the same. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Few Words About Breasts - Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron  

Esquire, 1972
I have to begin with a few words about androgyny. In grammar school, in the fifth and sixth grades, we were all tyrannized by a rigid set of rules that supposedly determined whether we were boys or girls. The episode in Huckleberry Finn where Huck is disguised as a girl and gives himself away by the way he threads a needle and catches a ball—that kind of thing. We learned that the way you sat, crossed your legs, held a cigarette, and looked at your nails—the way you did these things instinctively was absolute proof of your sex. Now obviously most children did not take this literally, but I did. I thought that just one slip, just one incorrect cross of my legs or flick of an imaginary cigarette ash would turn me from whatever I was into the other thing; that would be all it took, really. Even though I was outwardly a girl and had many of the trappings generally associated with girldom—a girl’s name, for example, and dresses, my own telephone, an autograph book—I spent the early years of my adolescence absolutely certain that I might at any point gum it up. I did not feel at all like a girl. I was boyish. I was athletic, ambitious, outspoken, competitive, noisy, rambunctious. I had scabs on my knees and my socks slid into my loafers and I could throw a football. I wanted desperately not to be that way, not to be a mixture of both things, but instead just one, a girl, a definite indisputable girl. As soft and as pink as a nursery. And nothing would do that for me, I felt, but breasts.
I was about six months younger than everyone else in my class, and so for about six months after it began, for six months after my friends had begun to develop (that was the word we used, develop), I was not particularly worried. I would sit in the bathtub and look down at my breasts and know that any day now, any second now, they would start growing like everyone else’s. They didn’t. “I want to buy a bra,” I said to my mother one night. “What for?” she said. My mother was really hateful about bras, and by the time my third sister had gotten to the point where she was ready to want one, my mother had worked the whole business into a comedy routine. “Why not use a Band-Aid instead?” she would say. It was a source of great pride to my mother that she had never even had to wear a brassiere until she had her fourth child, and then only because her gynecologist made her. It was incomprehensible to me that anyone could ever be proud of something like that. It was the 1950s, for God’s sake. Jane Russell. Cashmere sweaters. Couldn’t my mother see that? “I am too old to wear an undershirt.” Screaming. Weeping. Shouting. “Then don’t wear an undershirt,” said my mother. “But I want to buy a bra.” “What for?”
I suppose for most girls, breasts, brassieres, that entire thing, has more trauma, more to do with the coming of adolescence, with becoming a woman, than anything else. Certainly more than getting your period, although that, too, was traumatic, symbolic. But you could see breasts; they were there; they were visible. Whereas a girl could claim to have her period for months before she actually got it and nobody would ever know the difference. Which is exactly what I did. All you had to do was make a great fuss over having enough nickels for the Kotex machine and walk around clutching your stomach and moaning for three to five days a month about The Curse and you could convince anybody. There is a school of thought somewhere in the women’s lib / women’s mag / gynecology establishment that claims that menstrual cramps are purely psychological, and I lean toward it. Not that I didn’t have them finally. Agonizing cramps, heating-pad cramps, go-down-to-the-school-nurse-and-lie-on-the-cot cramps. But, unlike any pain I had ever suffered, I adored the pain of cramps, welcomed it, wallowed in it, bragged about it. “I can’t go. I have cramps.” “I can’t do that. I have cramps.” And most of all, gigglingly, blushingly: “I can’t swim. I have cramps.” Nobody ever used the hard-core word. Menstruation. God, what an awful word. Never that. “I have cramps.”
The morning I first got my period, I went into my mother’s bedroom to tell her. And my mother, my utterly-hateful-about-bras mother, burst into tears. It was really a lovely moment, and I remember it so clearly not just because it was one of the two times I ever saw my mother cry on my account (the other was when I was caught being a six-year-old kleptomaniac), but also because the incident did not mean to me what it meant to her. Her little girl, her firstborn, had finally become a woman. That was what she was crying about. My reaction to the event, however, was that I might well be a woman in some scientific, textbook sense (and could at least stop faking every month and stop wasting all those nickels). But in another sense—in a visible sense—I was as androgynous and as liable to tip over into boyhood as ever.
I started with a 28 AA bra. I don’t think they made them any smaller in those days, although I gather that now you can buy bras for five-year-olds that don’t have any cups whatsoever in them; trainer bras they are called. My first brassiere came from Robinson’s Department Store in Beverly Hills. I went there alone, shaking, positive they would look me over and smile and tell me to come back next year. An actual fitter took me into the dressing room and stood over me while I took off my blouse and tried the first one on. The little puffs stood out on my chest. “Lean over,” said the fitter. (To this day I am not sure what fitters in bra departments do except to tell you to lean over.) I leaned over, with the fleeting hope that my breasts would miraculously fall out of my body and into the puffs. Nothing.
“Don’t worry about it,” said my friend Libby some months later, when things had not improved. “You’ll get them after you’re married.”
“What are you talking about?” I said.
“When you get married,” Libby explained, “your husband will touch your breasts and rub them and kiss them and they’ll grow.”
That was the killer. Necking I could deal with. Intercourse I could deal with. But it had never crossed my mind that a man was going to touch my breasts, that breasts had something to do with all that, petting, my God, they never mentioned petting in my little sex manual about the fertilization of the ovum. I became dizzy. For I knew instantly—as naïve as I had been only a moment before—that only part of what she was saying was true: the touching, rubbing, kissing part, not the growing part. And I knew that no one would ever want to marry me. I had no breasts. I would never have breasts.
My best friend in school was Diana Raskob. She lived a block from me in a house full of wonders. English muffins, for instance. The Raskobs were the first people in Beverly Hills to have English muffins for breakfast. They also had an apricot tree in the back, and a badminton court, and a subscription to Seventeen magazine, and hundreds of games, like Sorry and Parcheesi and Treasure Hunt and Anagrams. Diana and I spent three or four afternoons a week in their den reading and playing and eating. Diana’s mother’s kitchen was full of the most colossal assortment of junk food I have ever been exposed to. My house was full of apples and peaches and milk and homemade chocolate-chip cookies—which were nice, and good for you, but-not-right-before-dinner-or-you’ll-spoil-your-appetite. Diana’s house had nothing in it that was good for you, and what’s more, you could stuff it in right up until dinner and nobody cared. Bar-B-Q potato chips (they were the first in them, too), giant bottles of ginger ale, fresh popcorn with melted butter, hot fudge sauce on Baskin-Robbins jamoca ice cream, powdered-sugar doughnuts from Van de Kamp’s. Diana and I had been best friends since we were seven; we were about equally popular in school (which is to say, not particularly), we had about the same success with boys (extremely intermittent), and we looked much the same. Dark. Tall. Gangly.
It is September, just before school begins. I am eleven years old, about to enter the seventh grade, and Diana and I have not seen each other all summer. I have been to camp and she has been somewhere like Banff with her parents. We are meeting, as we often do, on the street midway between our two houses, and we will walk back to Diana’s and eat junk and talk about what has happened to each of us that summer. I am walking down Walden Drive in my jeans and my father’s shirt hanging out and my old red loafers with the socks falling into them and coming toward me is... I take a deep breath... a young woman. Diana. Her hair is curled and she has a waist and hips and a bust and she is wearing a straight skirt, an article of clothing that I have been repeatedly told I will be unable to wear until I have the hips to hold it up. My jaw drops, and suddenly I am crying, crying hysterically, can’t catch my breath sobbing. My best friend has betrayed me. She has gone ahead without me and done it. She has shaped up.
Here are some things I did to help:
Bought a Mark Eden Bust Developer.
Slept on my back for four years.
Splashed cold water on them every night because some French actress said in Life magazine that that was what she did for her perfect bustline.
Ultimately, I resigned myself to a bad toss and began to wear padded bras. I think about them now, think about all those years in high school I went around in them, my three padded bras, every single one of them with different-sized breasts. Each time I changed bras I changed sizes: one week nice perky but not too obtrusive breasts, the next medium-sized slightly pointy ones, the next week knockers, true knockers; all the time, whatever size I was, carrying around this rubberized appendage on my chest that occasionally crashed into a wall and was poked inward and had to be poked outward—I think about all that and wonder how anyone kept a straight face through it. My parents, who normally had no restraints about needling me—why did they say nothing as they watched my chest go up and down? My friends, who would periodically inspect my breasts for signs of growth and reassure me—why didn’t they at least counsel consistency?
And the bathing suits. I die when I think about the bathing suits. That was the era when you could lay an uninhabited bathing suit on the beach and someone would make a pass at it. I would put one on, an absurd swimsuit with its enormous bust built into it, the bones from the suit stabbing me in the rib cage and leaving little red welts on my body, and there I would be, my chest plunging straight downward absolutely vertically from my collarbone to the top of my suit and then suddenly, wham, out came all that padding and material and wiring absolutely horizontally.
Buster Klepper was the first boy who ever touched them. He was my boyfriend my senior year of high school. There is a picture of him in my high-school yearbook that makes him look quite attractive in a Jewish, horn-rimmed-glasses sort of way, but the picture does not show the pimples, which were air-brushed out, or the dumbness. Well, that isn’t really fair. He wasn’t dumb. He just wasn’t terribly bright. His mother refused to accept it, refused to accept the relentlessly average report cards, refused to deal with her son’s inevitable destiny in some junior college or other. “He was tested,” she would say to me, apropos of nothing, “and it came out a hundred and forty-five. That’s near-genius.” Had the word “underachiever” been coined, she probably would have lobbed that one at me, too. Anyway, Buster was really very sweet—which is, I know, damning with faint praise, but there it is. I was the editor of the front page of the high-school newspaper and he was editor of the back page; we had to work together, side by side, in the print shop, and that was how it started. On our first date, we went to see April Love, starring Pat Boone. Then we started going together. Buster had a green coupe, a 1950 Ford with an engine he had hand-chromed until it shone, dazzled, reflected the image of anyone who looked into it, anyone usually being Buster polishing it or the gas-station attendants he constantly asked to check the oil in order for them to be overwhelmed by the sparkle on the valves. The car also had a boot stretched over the back seat for reasons I never understood; hanging from the rearview mirror was a pair of angora dice. A previous girlfriend named Solange, who was famous throughout Beverly Hills High School for having no pigment in her right eyebrow, had knitted them for him. Buster and I would ride around town, the two of us seated to the left of the steering wheel. I would shift gears. It was nice.
There was necking. Terrific necking. First in the car, overlooking Los Angeles from what is now the Trousdale Estates. Then on the bed of his parents’ cabana at Ocean House. Incredibly wonderful, frustrating necking, I loved it, really, but no further than necking, please don’t, please, because there I was absolutely terrified of the general implications of going-a-step-further with a near-dummy and also terrified of his finding out there was next to nothing there (which he knew, of course; he wasn’t that dumb).
I broke up with him at one point. I think we were apart for about two weeks. At the end of that time, I drove down to see a friend at a boarding school in Palos Verdes Estates and a disc jockey played “April Love” on the radio four times during the trip. I took it as a sign. I drove straight back to Griffith Park to a golf tournament Buster was playing in (he was the sixth-seeded teen-age golf player in southern California) and presented myself back to him on the green of the 18th hole. It was all very dramatic. That night we went to a drive-in and I let him get his hand under my protuberances and onto my breasts. He really didn’t seem to mind at all.
“Do you want to marry my son?” the woman asked me.
“Yes,” I said.
I was nineteen years old, a virgin, going with this woman’s son, this big strange woman who was married to a Lutheran minister in New Hampshire and pretended she was gentile and had this son, by her first husband, this total fool of a son who ran the hero-sandwich concession at Harvard Business School and whom for one moment one December in New Hampshire I said—as much out of politeness as anything else—that I wanted to marry.
“Fine,” she said. “Now, here’s what you do. Always make sure you’re on top of him so you won’t seem so small. My bust is very large, you see, so I always lie on my back to make it look smaller, but you’ll have to be on top most of the time.”
I nodded. “Thank you,” I said.
“I have a book for you to read,” she went on. “Take it with you when you leave. Keep it.” She went to the bookshelf, found it, and gave it to me. It was a book on frigidity.
“Thank you,” I said.
That is a true story. Everything in this article is a true story, but I feel I have to point out that that story in particular is true. It happened on December 30, 1960. I think about it often. When it first happened, I naturally assumed that the woman’s son, my boyfriend, was responsible. I invented a scenario where he had had a little heart-to-heart with his mother and had confessed that his only objection to me was that my breasts were small; his mother then took it upon herself to help out. Now I think I was wrong about the incident. The mother was acting on her own, I think: that was her way of being cruel and competitive under the guise of being helpful and maternal. You have small breasts, she was saying; therefore you will never make him as happy as I have. Or you have small breasts; therefore you will doubtless have sexual problems. Or you have small breasts; therefore you are less woman than I am. She was, as it happens, only the first of what seems to me to be a never-ending string of women who have made competitive remarks to me about breast size. “I would love to wear a dress like that,” my friend Emily says to me, “but my bust is too big.” Like that. Why do women say these things to me? Do I attract these remarks the way other women attract married men or alcoholics or homosexuals? This summer, for example, I am at a party in East Hampton and I am introduced to a woman from Washington. She is a minor celebrity, very pretty and Southern and blond and outspoken, and I am flattered because she has read something I have written. We are talking animatedly, we have been talking no more than five minutes, when a man comes up to join us. “Look at the two of us,” the woman says to the man, indicating me and her. “The two of us together couldn’t fill an A cup.” Why does she say that? It isn’t even true, dammit, so why? Is she even more addled than I am on this subject? Does she honestly believe there is something wrong with her size breasts, which, it seems to me, now that I look hard at them, are just right? Do I unconsciously bring out competitiveness in women? In that form? What did I do to deserve it?
As for men.
There were men who minded and let me know that they minded. There were men who did not mind. In any case, I always minded.
And even now, now that I have been countlessly reassured that my figure is a good one, now that I am grown-up enough to understand that most of my feelings have very little to do with the reality of my shape, I am nonetheless obsessed by breasts. I cannot help it. I grew up in the terrible fifties—with rigid stereotypical sex roles, the insistence that men be men and dress like men and women be women and dress like women, the intolerance of androgyny—and I cannot shake it, cannot shake my feelings of inadequacy. Well, that time is gone, right? All those exaggerated examples of breast worship are gone, right? Those women were freaks, right? I know all that. And yet here I am, stuck with the psychological remains of it all, stuck with my own peculiar version of breast worship. You probably think I am crazy to go on like this: here I have set out to write a confession that is meant to hit you with the shock of recognition, and instead you are sitting there thinking I am thoroughly warped. Well, what can I tell you? If I had had them, I would have been a completely different person. I honestly believe that.
After I went into therapy, a process that made it possible for me to tell total strangers at cocktail parties that breasts were the hang-up of my life, I was often told that I was insane to have been bothered by my condition. I was also frequently told, by close friends, that I was extremely boring on the subject. And my girl friends, the ones with nice big breasts, would go on endlessly about how their lives had been far more miserable than mine. Their bra straps were snapped in class. They couldn’t sleep on their stomachs. They were stared at whenever the word “mountain” cropped up in geography. And Evangeline, good God what they went through every time someone had to stand up and recite the Prologue to Longfellow’s Evangeline: “... stand like druids of eld... / With beards that rest on their bosoms.” It was much worse for them, they tell me. They had a terrible time of it, they assure me. I don’t know how lucky I was, they say.
I have thought about their remarks, tried to put myself in their place, considered their point of view. I think they are full of shit.

Love the article, and enjoyed reading it. Gives a tantalizingly new perspective on a subject that I spend time thinking. Hope you have fun too :)