This morning I decided to look for news that not everybody may consider good, but it gladdens my heart nonetheless. Let’s put it this way: if the outcome is in line with what I consider morally upright and spiritually uplifting, then I say it is good. I think you’ll get it right away with the following story, from yesterday’s Syracuse Online.
1. N.Y. GAMBLING’S UNLUCKY STREAK
The recession has interrupted more than $900 million in construction work on a Seneca Indian casino in Buffalo and a gambling-themed resort in the Catskills. In addition, New York officials have yet to persuade federal officials to reverse a Bush administration ruling that has blocked the long-planned debut of Indian casinos in the Catskills (Yeah, Bush Administration!). And a contract to introduce video lottery terminals to the Aqueduct Racetrack, in Queens, appears shaky amid an investigation into how it was awarded.
Since I consider gambling to be one of the most corrupting habits in our culture, alongside alcoholism, drug abuse, and compulsive eating, if this scourge is even slowed down a little, it’s good news.
And since I consider it particularly revolting that my state of New York would close its budget gaps on the backs of gambling addicts and their ruined families, you’ll understand why I’m ticked off by the reporter’s statement: "All of these projects would bring revenue into a state starving for money, whether from the $300 million Aqueduct franchise fee or a cut of the proceeds from new and bigger gambling operations." I’d be much happier if New York State opted to take its cut from brothels, where the customer gets an honest return on his buck. (New York endures gambling slump)
2. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BANK
I have to admit that I do most of my personal banking with a local bank, which practices giving small loans to starting businesses on the Lower East Side. Still, I was impressed by the following story in Ireland’s Independent:
Convicted brothel keeper and money launderer Thomas Carroll cleaned up his cash by receiving €854,000 in a single deposit to his credit union account, it can now be revealed. The single deposit was only part of millions of euro the Carlow-born criminal amassed from his prostitution empire which stretched all over the republic, Northern Ireland and the UK. (Pimp laundered cash through credit union, by Jerome Reilly)
How can you not love a pimp with such a strong sense of civic duty? And he’s a champion of equal rights for women, too. Even the judge in the case described the pimp’s daughter and accomplice, Toma Carroll, as an "intelligent and capable young woman who should have been content to follow a career in the law."
I’m getting a headache just thinking how many punch lines are packed into that single statement…
3. BORSCHT BY ANY OTHER NAME
All of which should explain why I was delighted by this item from WTNJ News Radio in Milwaukee: The Town of Cedarburg is reaping the benefits of beet juice. At a time when road salt is costing crews $55 per ton, local municipalities are turning to the red root vegetable to keep their roads clear. The more technical name for the juice is "geo-melt." Crews simply spray it all over the road salt. It works better and faster than regular road salt treated with corrosive chemicals. Plus, it's natural, bio-degradable and non-toxic. (Town Uses Beet Juice to Clear Roads, by Aaron Diamant and Rachael Glaszcz)
I knew Mom’s borscht was good for something!
But, alas, there’s a dark side even to borscht (beyond the taste). A 2004 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported dead fish and other signs of pollution linked to sugar beets that apparently spoiled and leaked an unknown amount of foul-smelling juice into Buffalo Creek, in south-central Minnesota. The runoff spilled into a ditch that drains into the creek, where it is thought to have killed more than 1,000 fish. The dead fish have included channel catfish, carp, walleye, big mouth buffalo, and smaller numbers of northern pike and small mouth bass.
Like I said, borscht takes getting used to…
4. WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?
A 55-year old businessman was forced to undergo an emergency operation after his viagra-problem firmly persisted for 21 days. Doctors at a hospital in Kolkata, India, eventually performed the surgery to put the middle-aged man out of his misery. The hour-long operation was successful, but it rendered the man impotent. (Man's Erection Lasts 21 Days, Surgery Required, Fox News)
Dr. Avishek Mukherjee said, "The treatment has to be sought within six hours; otherwise it could even lead to death, besides the degeneration of the penis." The man was suffering from a condition called priapism, triggered by a nervous system disorder, which prevents blood from draining out of the penis. The name comes from the Greek god Priapus, who was noted for his disproportionately large and permanent erection.
Talk about being god-like…
Stories like this will probably encourage men who use the blue wonderpill to seek out medical help sooner than after three weeks. But it might also, hopefully, encourage men to do without the pill and concentrate instead on seeking intimacy with their mates in the bedroom. Am I the only one who still believes that good sex is not about a long-lasting erection, nor even about orgasm?
5. COOL BRAINS PREVAIL
Marnia Robinson, about the health benefits of sex without orgasm, which happens to be an ancient Taoist principle. In Pulling Away (After Sex), Robinson argues that the yearning for higher levels of dopamine is at the core of our sexual drives and survival needs, motivating us to engage in fertilization behavior to make more babies, and urging us to move on to new partners to create greater genetic variety among our offspring.
Your primitive brain accomplishes these goals of more progeny and promiscuity by manipulating your brain chemistry, and thus your desires and thoughts. High levels of dopamine increase sexual desire, encouraging you to behave recklessly. The thrill of a new affair and the rush from using pornography are examples of high dopamine. Unfortunately, consistently high levels of dopamine lead to erratic behavior and compulsions that are not conducive to survival.
Robinson explains that humans have the potential for on-going, dopamine-driven sexual desire, but an "off switch" kicks in after too much sexual excitement.
Two events happen simultaneously. Dopamine plummets and prolactin soars. Dopamine is "go get it!" and prolactin is "whoa!" This mechanism shifts your attention elsewhere: to hunting and gathering, taking care of babies, building shelters, and so forth. Without this natural, protective shutdown, you would pursue sex to the exclusion of all other activities. When rats were wired so that they could push a lever in their cages to stimulate the nerve cells on which dopamine acts, they just kept hitting the lever until they dropped. Dopamine is highly addictive; the rise in prolactin puts the brakes on.
We are such ignorant lab monkeys when it comes to our sexual appetites. A balanced level of dopamine is necessary for our mental health. When dopamine drops, says Robinson, we feel like something is dreadfully wrong. Too much dopamine also leads to reckless behavior and restless anxiety. We project those uncomfortable feelings onto our partner. Suddenly, he or she doesn't look so appealing.
This is why the ancient Taoists and other sages throughout history have recommended making love without conventional orgasm. By avoiding the extreme highs that over-stimulate the nerve cells in the primitive brain, you also avoid the temporary lows that accompany recovery. You keep your dopamine levels within ideal ranges. This produces a sense of wellbeing, which promotes harmony in your relationship.
What a trip we had today: from gambling to prostitution to food as snow clearing substance to three-week erections to Taoism in the bedroom. I for one am exhausted. Of course, it’s just my prolactin kicking in…