Archive for March, 2010

P&G’s New Personal Hygiene Product

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

CINCINNATI (April 1) — Procter & Gamble announced plans today to launch a new personal hygiene product based on the long-term success of the company’s Head & Shoulders line. The new product will be identical to Head & Shoulders shampoo, but will be marketed as body wash under the name Buttocks and Genitals, said Robert (Bob) McDonald, company CEO.

The body wash will be packaged in smaller containers than the shampoo and sold at a higher price. Different packaging will be used to target male or female consumers and the product for women will be priced higher. “We expect this to be a blockbuster,” said McDonald, who said the company conducted extensive market research and rigorous clinical studies before moving forward with the launch.

“Our research showed that consumers will readily pay more to get less,” he explained. “Just look at the shelves at your local supermarket. Remember when there was enough tuna in a can to make sandwiches for two or three people? Nowadays a can of tuna is so small you’re lucky to get one sandwich out of it. But I don’t complain and I don’t hear anyone else complain either.”

McDonald noted that the pharmaceutical industry has also found it profitable to use the technique. “When Merck found out that men taking Proscar to treat prostate cancer grew new hair, they marketed smaller amounts of the active ingredient in Proscar as Propecia … and charged more for it. It just makes good business sense.”

Thousands of consumers took part in the Buttocks & Genitals clinical trials, which compared the new product with other leading body washes. Participants were randomly assigned to use Buttocks & Genitals and a different product to wash one or the other butt cheek. Validated questionnaires were used to determine consumer satisfaction with each product. Significantly more participants agreed with the statement, “My buttocks feel clean and fresh” after using Buttocks & Genitals. The findings were similar for men and women of all ages, races, sexual orientation and political persuasion.

“Only two participants withdrew before completion of the study,” said McDonald, “but the withdrawals were deemed not related to the products. Both were members of the ‘tea party’ movement and they just couldn’t find their buttocks with both hands.” Trials involving the genitals are currently under way, with interim findings indicating a trend in favor of Buttocks & Genitals.

A massive advertising campaign will accompany the launch, culminating in a Super Bowl ad featuring the cast of The West Wing. Zest of Orange has obtained an advance copy of the ad, which opens with the president somberly addressing a cabinet meeting. “I think the time has come for America to address the canal problem.” “The Panama Canal?” asks a cabinet member. “No,” says the president. “The Suez Canal?” asks another. “No,” replies the president, “I mean the anogenital canal!”

Michael can be reached at

On Adolescent Cruelty

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

Dear Oliver S. and Stanley A.,

I read the story in The Times about Massachusetts authorities charging nine high school students in the death of a young girl who committed suicide rather than face more of their taunts, bullying and physical attacks. And I thought of you. And I thought of me.

Looking back to the late Fifties, I’m tempted to say that Forest Hills High School was a building full of 4,000 snobs or would-be snobs – young people living up to the sweet cachet of the words “Forest Hills” with its wealth and status. But this wouldn’t be fair. The fact is that there were some really decent kids at that school. You (whose identities I have fudged) were two of them. I wish I’d been one of them.

“Forest Hills” conjured coolness, prestige and privilege, and I – the son of working-class parents – should have known better than to strive to be part of it. Not that it ultimately mattered. I was never accepted by the student elite, those people who basically ran the social life of the school. They set the standards and if they thought your crew cut was goofy or if they saw you in the corridor with one side of your Ivy League button-down collar forgetfully unbuttoned they’d let you and everybody nearby know about it.

I remember the school as a place where a lot of kids wished they could be somewhere higher in the pecking order of adolescence, which was – and probably still is – the pecking order of misery.

Was the staff at Forest Hills aware of the pain and misery the cool kids inflicted on you? I don’t know. But at South Hadley High School, the district attorney says, teachers and administrators knew full well about the physical attacks and verbal abuse being heaped on Phoebe Prince, 15, and did nothing to stop it. Phoebe Prince is the girl who hanged herself in January. The charges against some of the students include statutory rape, and I’m forced to wonder if a staff member’s silence makes him guilty of being an accessory to a felony.

The aristocrats at Forest Hills High School were the student government types, cheerleaders and athletes. They wore great clothes. They got great grades. To believe them, not one of them was still a virgin. Teachers loved them. The principal loved them.

I thought I could edge my way up, but of course could not.

And there were people like you, Oliver and Stanley. You didn’t fit into “Forest Hills.” Your scrawniness was an object of derision in the locker room. Oliver, you were the one who made a noise like a shriek when someone not-quite-playfully punched you in the arm while smirking and asking what you were doing on Friday night, when the cool people would hang out on Continental Avenue. Stanley, you were the one who giggled excitedly, loudly and almost uncontrollably when you won an argument in class or in the hallway.

The two of you could outthink any comer in that damned school. But you weren’t cool and so you were dismissed as weird.

But you were such decent guys. And if I had been a little more decent myself, I wouldn’t have stood there, mute, while the cool kids imitated the way you walked, mocked the way you talked, laughed at the way you dressed, and sneered at your very existence.

I could have said something. I could have stepped in. I could have been your friend. I could have told those assholes to lay off. I could have suggested that we go bowling, see a movie, or just go for a Coke on Continental Avenue.

But I – with my lousy grades, my proletarian background, my acne, my virginity – was a coward who had other business. That was to be accepted by people who despised me as much as they loathed you. But I said nothing in your behalf, for which I’m ashamed.

I just went along, playing the inelegant schlub to the elite, available for errand running. Such as the time a young blond knockout (very cool) said, “If you see Larry, tell him to call me,” which I did, and which assured my continued role as drone and the complete insanity of my even thinking about asking her to go out to a movie.

I haven’t seen you two guys since graduation, but have thought of you many times over five decades. I hope you are alive and well. I hope your lives have been happy and productive. I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you how I wish I had had the courage to be a better friend when they made your lives miserable with their taunts, and when I made your lives miserable with my unforgivable silence.

I am so sorry.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Sustainable Living: Disposing of Disposables!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce

At some point today, you will be offered a disposable cup. Before you take it, consider how disposable that cup really is. If we were to look at how much energy it takes to produce cups made from paper, polystyrene and ceramic, most people would automatically think the ceramic cup is the greenest choice.

You’d have to use the ceramic cup 640 times before it would equal a polystyrene cup and 294 times to equal a paper/cardboard one in terms of the energy it takes to produce the cups, according to In terms of air pollution, polystyrene produces the least amount of emissions to manufacture one cup. It also takes more water to manufacture a ceramic cup than the entire life cycle water consumption of the other two.

Before you toss out all your ceramic cups and replace them with Styrofoam, Treehugger went on to find the ceramic vessel much more functional and durable with up to 3,000 uses compared to single-use paper, plastic or polystyrene foam. 

“But for a reusable cup to be reused, it has to be washed,” says Martin B. Hocking, a professor of Chemistry at the University of Victoria, in Canada. Hocking authored a life cycle assessment of reusable cups made from glass, ceramic and plastic to disposable cups made of paper and polystyrene.

Hocking factors in the cost of energy to wash the cups which is almost equal to the energy expended to produce a single polystyrene cup. According to Hocking’s study; you would have to use a reusable plastic cup 450 times, a glass cup 393, and a ceramic cup more than 1000 times for it to approach the energy efficiency of polystyrene. You would only have to reuse a plastic, glass or ceramic cup about 20 times (on average) to equal the energy expenditure of a disposable paper cup. 

If you go by just the energy expenditures, Styrofoam cups seem like the way to go. However, there is much more to a cup than its function. What happens to these five cups after their useful life is over?

Glass takes over a million years to decompose, but it is recyclable, and when recycled it reduces pollution by 20 percent according to California’s Project New Leaf. Paper can be recycled, but most paper cups are coated with plastic or wax and cannot be recycled. Even coated paper will biodegrade in five years, while uncoated and unbleached paper will be gone in a few days according to  Styrofoam and plastic do not biodegrade, instead they photodegrade breaking down into smaller and smaller particles that will eventually wind up in our bodies.

Scientists are just now learning the effects of photodegrading plastics and polystyrene on the environment. These substances have only been around about 50 years, and are just now breaking down into microscopic sizes. As plastics get smaller, they are eaten by smaller creatures. As these creatures are eaten by larger creatures up the food chain, these plastics (and toxins) get concentrated inside living bodies, even in our bodies.

“Except for a small amount that has been incinerated,” says Tony Andrady, a senior research scientist at North Carolina’s Research Triangle, “every bit of plastic manufactured in the world for the last 50 years or so still remains. It’s somewhere in the environment.”  

Nothing is really disposable. Many of the things we consider disposable, will probably outlive humanity as a species.  The greenest choice is to cup your hands and drink out of them as our ancestors have for millennia.  That may not go over to well in the school cafeteria, so get in the habit of bringing your own cup.

Here are a few alternatives to paper and polystyrene:

— Replace paper and polystyrene with biodegradable, compostable clear drinking cups made from cornstarch, pack of 50 for $8 from

— Offer a discount to customers who bring their own beverage container if you own a fast- food restaurant or take-out place.

— Commit your whole office to zero waste and have each employee bring in his own cup, plates, and utensils.

— Don’t host large events with “disposables;” include in the budget the cost of renting or buying real dishes and the staff to wash them.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Orange County.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week, 03/30/10

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Tiger Cat

Tiger Cat

By Carrie Jacobson

Anyone who lives with cats knows that we don’t own them. And while it might be tempting to say that they own us, I for one believe that no cat would deign to own a human. We’re big and loud and messy and don’t spend half the time we should doing what they want. So they’re OK with having us as their loyal subjects or, at the very least, employees. But own us? No way.

Every once in a while, you get a cat who likes to cuddle, and is willing to do it when you want. But really, that’s a very doglike thing to do. Most cats want us to behave like big, warm beds. We should sit quietly and adjust ourselves until they are comfortable, and then hold stock still.

When we’re not acting as warm pieces of furniture, we should spend our time using our handy opposable thumbs to open cans of food, clean their litter boxes and supply them with fresh water. Also, we should grow catnip. Whole fields of it in the summer, and pots of it all over the house in the winter.

Three cats live with my husband, myself and our dogs. The cats tolerate us, but are repelled by the dogs. You can see the disdain on their faces. One of them, Puffy, takes it out on any dog she can get, swatting pretty randomly at the big, smelly creatures whenever possible.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about cats, as I am painting a dozen cat portraits for a project for Center Framing & Art, the gallery in West Hartford, Conn., that represents me. This painting is one of the 12. It makes me think of George Carlin’s line that when a cat looks at you, it’s like he’s testing a new set of eyes.

Interested in this painting? Contact Lori at Center Framing & Art, 860-233-7804 for price and delivery options.

Shawn’s Painting of the Week, 3/30/10

Monday, March 29th, 2010


By Shawn Dell  Joyce
“Fallow Fields” is a pastel of Benedict Farm painted during the winter. The painting incorporates dramatic winter skies and dark rich purples and yellows.

Gigli’s Photo Of The Week, 3/30/2010

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Photography by Rich Gigli

Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886.

Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886. - THERE IS A SOLITUDE OF SPACE - There is a solitude of space, A solitude of sea, A solitude of death, but these Society shall be, Compared with that profounder site, That polar privacy, A Soul admitted to Itself; Finite Infinity.

Far-Right ‘Wingnuts’ Pose Threat

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

By Michael Kaufman

Results of a new Harris poll reveal just how successful the hatemongers of the far right have been in influencing the thinking of rank and file Republicans. High percentages of Republicans polled agreed with statements that President Obama is “racist,” “anti-American,” “wants the terrorists to win,” and “wants to turn the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government.” Many agreed that the president is a “domestic enemy,” the same term used by Marine Lance Corporal Kody Bittingham last year in his letter of intent to assassinate the president. Bittingham called his plan “Operation Patriot.”

I was particularly struck by the news that 38 percent of Republicans agree that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did.”  The attempt to link Obama with Hitler came to the fore early in the “tea party” events and in the organized disruptions of local town hall meetings on health care. When followers of Lyndon LaRouche came to Warwick last year to petition against health care reform, their heavy handed use of Nazi imagery, including a doctored photo depicting Obama arm in arm with the Nazi Fuhrer, sparked outrage among many local residents. But many others gladly signed their petitions, donated money, and honked their horns in approval as they drove by. Robert Krahulik, a leading Republican honcho in Warwick, was compelled to write a letter to the editor of one of the local weekly newspapers denying a link to the activities. Another letter is in order now.

Let us be clear: Whether one agrees or disagrees with health care reform, the likening of Obama’s policies to Hitler’s is so outrageous as to be almost beyond words. Not surprisingly, the less-educated the Republican, the more likely he is to agree with the preposterous statements. Thus, a brief lesson on health care in Hitler’s Germany seems worthwhile. Thanks to Michael J. Franzblau, M.D., for providing the information that follows.

By the time Hitler came to power in 1933 there were already 23 chairs of “racial hygiene” in German Universities. As early as 1908 one of the “fathers” of the racial hygiene theory, Dr. Eugen Fischer, became so  concerned that German settlers in West Africa were cohabiting with native women and producing babies of mixed race that he got the German government to revoke the citizenship rights of the German settlers. He also published an article suggesting that the children were basically inferior and should be given only the barest of economic support, with the hope that they would die. Fischer would go on to play a significant role in the continuing evolution of racial hygiene and its place in German  health care for the next 30 years.

Under Hitler, racial hygiene became the basis for many laws. The first, passed in 1933, required all members of the federal government to be Aryans. All Jews who held government jobs had to leave public service.  The second was the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring. It mandated the sterilization of all Aryan Germans who had schizophrenia, bipolar-disorder, Huntington’s Chorea, intractable epilepsy, chronic alcoholism, or “asocial behavior” (opposition to the Nazi Party). The basis for the law was “negative eugenics,” a plan to discourage procreation among those who were viewed as a threat to the purity of the sacred German germplasm.

All physicians were required to report patients meeting the criteria to a central authority. Loyal Nazi physicians sitting on genetic health courts then ordered the sterilizations. Approximately 250 of these courts were established. The sterilizations were carried out in local hospitals throughout Germany (with no record of opposition from the German Medical Association). The program lasted six years, during which 400,000 Aryan Germans were sterilized and 2,000 died. The program ended in 1939 in spite of the pleas of Fischer and other racial hygienists that it not stop until approximately 15 percent of the Germans were sterilized.

Next came the infamous Nuremburg laws to ensure racial purity, one of which forbade Aryans to have sexual relations with Jews.  German physicians became expert witnesses and some made a good living testifying as to the racial origins of their clients on the basis of physiognomy. This became a subject in medical schools and in continuing medical education courses for German doctors.

A national campaign was instituted to encourage more Aryan births. As an incentive, any woman giving birth to eight or more children was awarded a gold medal; if she gave birth to six she received a silver medal; and for four, a bronze.

Meanwhile, as Hitler and his cronies planned for the conquest of Europe, they worried that there would be inadequate hospital facilities to care for wounded German soldiers. Hence was born the T-4 Program, so named because it was drafted at Tiergartenstrasse 4. T-4 was a carefully conceived plan to kill all inmates in German mental institutions who could not work for the Fatherland.  The phrases “Useless Eaters” and “Lives Not Worth Living” were effectively used to convince the medical profession, and the general public, that this form of “euthanasia” was in the best interest of the nation. In addition, Aryan German children with severe birth defects or disabilities were included in the program.

Organization of the T-4 program required the resources of the national German government, local health officers and physicians generally, who had to report the mental patients or children who met the criteria. The decision to kill the adults was made in Berlin by three eminent psychiatrists reviewing questionnaires sent to them from all over Germany. The children were selected in the same manner by three pediatricians.

The program was well planned. Six “Healing Centers” were established throughout Germany. Transportation by bus or rail was provided. The methods of killing included starvation, phenol and alcohol cardiac injections, and carbon monoxide gas delivered in hermetically sealed rooms built to simulate shower rooms. Volunteer physicians were involved in the process at every step of the way.

When the T-4 program ended, 400,000 inmates of mental institutions were killed, as were between 70,000 and 200,000 children. Heinrich Himmler, who as head of the S.S. was responsible for the programs, was pleased.

The T-4 program can be viewed as the research and development program for the mass exterminations of Jews and others in concentration camps in Poland and Germany that followed. Many of the same physicians, nurses, and technicians who participated in the T-4 Program were transferred to the East in the early 1940’s to use their skills in mass extermination.

Any comparison between these Nazi atrocities and health care reform in the United States is obscene. Anyone who says President Obama is doing “many of the things that Hitler did” is an uneducated moron. The Harris poll tells us there are a lot of them out there.  I wonder how many have guns.

Michael can be reached at

Got Change of a $50 Bill?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Jeffrey Page

Some Republicans in Congress believe that in the great scheme of things, Ronald Reagan ranks one step behind God and a billion steps in front of everyone else. And so, they’re calling for the U.S. $50 bill to be redesigned. Off would go the bewhiskered Ulysses S. Grant, the Union general and 18th president, and on would go Reagan, the movie actor and 40th president.

Such a switch would be a mistake. I’m not interested in preserving Grant for Grant’s sake. If the United States is tired of Grant, it could opt for Eisenhower or Truman, Kennedy or Albert Einstein.  In fact, the nation has redesigned its money before. The dime, for example, used to bear the image of the goddess Liberty wearing a winged cap. And in 1946, just one year after he died, Franklin Roosevelt’s image replaced Liberty’s.

But Reagan?

If for no reason other than his moronic decision to lay a wreath at the German military cemetery at Bitburg in 1985, Reagan’s picture ought to remain in the family albums and the scrapbooks of his followers, and not on American currency.

Twenty-five years ago, Reagan was asked by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to visit the cemetery where 2,000 German soldiers were buried. Also interred at Bitburg were the remains of 49 others.

Those 49 had served with almost 1 million others not in the Army but in the SS, the military-police wing of the Nazi party that amounted to Hitler’s personal army. The SS was the muscle for some of the greatest atrocities the Nazis inflicted.

In one of the more embarrassing screw-ups of his administration, Reagan’s people were unaware of the SS graves until after he had accepted Kohl’s invitation. Informed, finally, Reagan refused to change his plans. To Bitburg he would go.

Reagan, whose eyesight kept him out of combat during World War II, spent the war years in California making movies for the Army. As president, he ignored the requests of World War II veterans to cancel or change the visit. The vets weren’t concerned so much about the 2,000 regular troops buried at Bitburg. It was the 49. And vets had something to say in this matter. Nearly 410,000 Americans troops were killed in the war against Germany and its ally Japan.

Jews, too, asked Reagan to avoid Bitburg. Jews knew something about death in great numbers as well. Even the House and Senate got into the dispute, both adopting resolutions opposing the visit to the Bitburg cemetery. But Reagan was determined to go.

It was to persuade Reagan not to visit the cemetery that Elie Wiesel uttered his much quoted plea: “That place, Mr. President, is not your place. Your place is with the victims of the SS.”

It made no difference. Reagan preferred to ignore American veterans, Congress, and Jewish Americans rather than confront Kohl, tell him that a mistake had been made, and insist on finding a cemetery without graves of SS murderers.

On the same day he visited the Bitburg cemetery, Reagan also visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where 50,000 people are buried, and served up some of his typical sentimental tripe. “Here they lie,” he was quoted by The New York Times. “Never to hope. Never to pray. Never to love. Never to heal. Never to laugh. Never to cry.”

I’m not sure about healing and laughing, but I imagine that anyone caught in the Nazi killing machine did plenty of hoping, and plenty of praying, loving, and crying.

If Reagan believed a visit to Bergen-Belsen somehow balanced his wreath-laying at Bitburg, he was a fool.

Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill would be an absurdity.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Sustainable Living: Lower Your Bills!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Shawn Dell Joyce

We may not be able to do much about taxes or the economy, but one thing we can do is lower our cost of living thanks to a program started and run by Montgomery resident Alice Dickinson.

Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corporation, RDAC, is a non-profit housing counseling and development agency that helps people keep their homes by avoiding foreclosure, as well as lower their cost of living through weatherization and energy efficiency.
In January, RDAC received state funding to provide free energy efficiency retrofits for homeowners and tenants in eastern Orange County.  This area includes the towns of Newburgh, Montgomery, Crawford, New Windsor, Hamptonburgh, Cornwall, Blooming Grove, Highlands, Tuxedo, Woodbury and Warwick and all the villages within these towns. RDAC can assist homeowners, landlords or tenants to reduce utility costs, conserve energy, increase home comfort, and improve health and safety. The funds are free to qualifying household in the moderate income range.

What this all means is that a family of four would qualify for free service if their income is $46,836 or less.  That same family may spend over $9,000 on heat and utilities yearly. RDAC’s trained professionals will come to their home and seal all the cracks and holes in the house, insulate attics and walls, repair or replace heating systems, and provide efficient lighting and refrigeration.

Dickinson notes, “Households who earn less income tend to spend a disproportionate amount of income—upwards of 20% of their annual income—on energy, compared with approximately 5% for higher income households. If we can reduce a home’s energy consumption with energy efficiency, it  puts in place measures that continue to save money every year.”

RDAC has been at the forefront in bringing green jobs to our area, and has worked with the state to implement Green Jobs-Green NY legislation. RDAC is also working to bring the new PACE program to our area which would reduce the cost of renewable energy to homeowners by tying it to the property taxes.

RDAC is proving that retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency will stimulate public and private investment in green small businesses, as well as manufacturing of more energy-efficient materials including insulation, caulking, doors and windows, heating and cooling systems, and home appliances.

“It just makes sense, said Dickinson.  Even someone who is not particularly committed to reducing carbon would like to save money and air sealing and insulating your home can save up to 40 percent on your utility costs.  Who wouldn’t like that?”

If you would like to take advantage of this new program, there is an application to determine program eligibility, then an energy audit of the home is conducted to identify needs. Both homeowners and renters are eligible, subject to federal low-income guidelines.  If a household contains a member who receives Supplemental Security Income, Public Assistance, Food Stamps, or Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits, the household is considered automatically eligible for weatherization services.  All services are provided without cost to the occupant of the home.  However, owners of rental buildings must invest funds toward the cost of weatherization services performed on their property.

Please find more details on RDAC’s energy services, as well as WAP application available for download, at or call (845)524-HOME (4663)

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery, NY.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 03/22/10

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I Know Something About Love

I Know Something About Love

By Carrie Jacobson

This week, I painted in May-warm afternoons, and I turned my face to the sun and my heart to springtime, and I let my soul warm until winter’s wrath was something barely there and unremarked.

I’ve made a vow this spring to smile more, to accept more, to give and forgive and in relationships, to be willing to settle for “good enough.”

As I painted these pine trees and their reflections on a warm Friday afternoon, I felt alive – and lucky to be alive.

“I Know Something About Love” is oil on canvas, 10×30. Contact me at for price and delivery information.