For this week’s Top 10 I’m sharing ten Mental Illnesses (as listed in the DSM-IV) that I think you have not heard of before. Let’s get started!

10. Somatization Disorder

Somatization disorder is a long-term (chronic) condition in which a person has physical symptoms that involve more than one part of the body, but no physical cause can be found. The pain and other symptoms people with this disorder feel are real, and are not created or faked on purpose.

9. Pavor Nocturnis (a.k.a. night terror)

Night terrors are a sleep disorder in which a person quickly awakens from sleep in a terrified state. Night terrors occur during deep sleep, usually during the first third of the night. The cause is unknown but night terrors may be triggered by fever, lack of sleep, or periods of emotional tension, stress, or conflict. In contrast, nightmares are more common in the early morning. A person may remember the details of a dream upon awakening, and will not be disoriented after the episode, which is not the case for night terrors.

8. Transient Tic Disorder

Transient tic disorder is a temporary condition in which a person makes one or many brief, repeated, difficult to control movements or noises (tics) and is most common in children. Examples of tics are reoccurring motions without rhythm, brief and jerky movements like blinking, kicking, grimacing, clenching fists and opening the mouth. Vocal tics include clicking, grunting, moaning and hissing.

7. Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychotic illness with both schizophrenic and affective (mood) symptoms. While symptoms vary greatly, they may include depression, poor temper control, racing thoughts (affective), and delusions and hallucinations (schizophrenic).

6. Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a rare inherited disease that causes developmental and nervous system problems, mostly in girls and it is related to autism. Babies with Rett syndrome seem to grow and develop normally at first, though between three months and three years of age, they stop developing and even lose some skills. Symptoms include loss of speech, compulsive movements such as hand wringing, balance problems, learning problems or mental retardation.

5. Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is hair loss from repeated urges to pull or twist the hair until it breaks off. Patients are unable to stop this behavior, even as their hair becomes thinner. The person may pluck other hairy areas, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, or body hair. It may affect as much as 4% of the population and women are four times more likely to be affected than men.

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and control. OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, people with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. A person with this personality disorder has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin in early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person’s ability to complete tasks or have relationships, because their standards are so rigid.

3. Depersonalization Disorder

Depersonalization disorder is a dissociative disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from one’s mental processes or body. The symptoms include a sense of automation, going through the motions of life but not experiencing it, feeling as though one is in a movie, loss of conviction with one’s identity, feeling as though one is in a dream, feeling a disconnection from one’s body, a detachment from one’s body, environment and difficulty relating oneself to reality.

2. Pica

Pica is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive (e.g., metal, clay, coal, sand, dirt, soil, feces, chalk, pens and pencils, paper, batteries, spoons, toothbrushes, soap, mucus, ash, lip balm). For these actions to be considered pica, they must persist for more than one month at an age where eating such objects is considered developmentally inappropriate. Pica is seen in all ages, particularly in pregnant women, small children and those with developmental disabilities.

1. Shared Psychotic Disorder

Shared psychotic disorder is also known as folie a deux (“the folly of two”). It is a rare condition in which an otherwise healthy person shares the delusions of a person with a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, who has well-established delusions. For example: A person with a psychotic disorder believes aliens are spying on him or her. The person with shared psychotic disorder will also begin to believe in spying aliens. The delusions usually disappear when the people are separated.

This disorder usually occurs only in long-term relationships in which one person is dominant and the other is passive. The people involved often are reclusive or otherwise isolated from society and have close emotional links with each other.

The Spoon Theory

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoon
As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

by Christine Miserandino



Why Conversations Are Often So Boring

Having a decent conversation is something most of us imagine we can do without any problem – and certainly without much thought. These things just happen naturally. Don’t they?


But in truth, truly good conversations come along very rarely; largely because our societies fall for the Romantic myth that knowing how to talk to other people is something we are born knowing how to do, and not an art dependent on a little planning and a few skills. We rightly accept that total improvisation in preparing a meal is unlikely to yield good outcomes; but we show no such caution or modesty when it comes to how we might talk over the food once it has been made. Finding oneself in a good conversation can feel as haphazard and random as stumbling on a beautiful square in a foreign city at night ­– and realizing one won’t reliably know how to get back there in daytime.

The search for better conversations should begin with the question of what a conversation is ideally for. And here two basic functions suggest themselves: confirmation and clarification.


The official story of what life is like leaves out a daunting amount about who we really are. Too much of what we feel can’t normally be disclosed for fear that we’ll be humiliated or cause undue alarm or upset. Our envy of colleagues, our disappointments in love, our true feelings towards our families, our embarrassing habits and petty fears, our wilder political daydreams… little of this ‘silent normality’ has the chance to be discussed; until we find ourselves in a good conversation, by which is meant a conversation that – artfully, without prurience or judgement – manages to confirm the fundamental acceptability of until now carefully guarded emotions and ideas.

Shyness takes a lot of the blame for poor conversations. We get scared of opening our souls because we falsely exaggerate the difference between ourselves and others. We display only our strengths, vaunt only our successes, lay out only our conventional proposals – and bore others as a result because it is in the revelation of our weaknesses, in the display of our frailties, in the confession of our wilder fantasies that we grow interesting and likeable. It is almost impossible to be bored when a person tells you sincerely what they have failed at or who has humiliated them, what they long for and when they have been at their craziest.

Then come the pleasures of clarification, conversations in which another person sharpens our ideas by correcting our tendencies to mental blankness and distraction. Thinking alone is hard, our minds jump away from the pressure to bring ideas into focus, preferring the charm of daydreaming or the internet instead. How helpful, therefore, to be able to embark on the job of thinking with someone who can hold us to the issues we need to refine, lend us courage to keep going with our hesitant opening thoughts and pollinate our analyses with their insights.


In too many countries, a misplaced fear of ‘pretension’ holds people back from raising the large rewarding topics – as though only very special people had the right to consider head on what it really means to be human. But is permission necessary to probe at the central assumptions of human life? When else are we meant to ask: What is the point of work? What makes a good relationship? How are we to raise children? What should we travel for? What should our nations be?

We should be braver and more demanding about the conversations we fall into. Rather than seeing successful examples as a gift, we should strive to become their regular engineers and cultivators.

3 Mind-Blowing Lateral Thinking Puzzles



Have you ever wondered if your mind is normal (i.e. average) or somehow different? Here are 3 lateral thinking tests. The answers are published below, but do not go immediately to read them! Think up your own answers first.



Here is the story of a young girl. At her mother’s funeral, she saw an unknown young man. He was charming, really the man of her dreams. She madly fell in love with him. After a couple of days the young girl killed her own sister… Question: What motive did she have to do it?



Take at most 10 seconds to do this test, otherwise it will not work. Find how many ‘f’s there are in the following text:




Do the following reasoning exercise, answering the questions one by one, without going to the next question if you have not answered the previous yet. It is not necessary to write your answers. How much is:

15 + 6 =

3 + 56 =

89 + 2 =

12 + 53 =

75 + 26 =

25 + 52 =

63 + 32 =

Yes, these are a bit more difficult but the exercise is really worth doing, so be patient:

123 + 5 =

Now think of a tool and a color!




She hoped that the young man would appear again at the funeral.

Explanation: If you gave the correct answer, you probably think like a psychopath.

The test was developed and used by a famous American psychologist to determine whether a person has murderous mentality. Several criminals who did the test correctly answered the question. If you did not give the correct answer, it is good for you! If someone of your friends found it, keep away from him!


How many ‘f’s did you find? Three? It is wrong, there are six!

If you don’t believe, go above and count them again! Explanation: The mind cannot process the ‘OFs’. Awesome huh? Anyone who manages to find six ‘f’s is a genius, those who find four or five are really rare, three – are normal… Less than three – change your glasses!


Did you think of a “red hammer”?

It is the answer given by 98% of people who did this exercise. If you thought of something else, then you probably are one of the 2% of the people whose mind and thinking are quite different.

The Incongruity Of The ‘Plus-Sized’ Woman

by Geevie

“Can A Good Man Love A Size 16 Woman?” 

This was a search phrase that brought someone over to the blog in recent weeks. I had written a diatribe against the notion Rubenesque romances were unrealistic simply because most men (and certainly all “good” ones) couldn’t possibly want a fattie. For the (female) blogger who made this assertion, this included any woman over a size 6. So me being me, I proceeded to feature hot superbabes who ranged in size from an 8 (bootylicious Beyonce) to a size 16 (model Crystal Renn) in order to show how beauty comes in all sorts of packages.

Trust me, when straight guys are looking at women like Sofia Vergara, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson and Christina Hendricks, they couldn’t care less what the number is on the label of their clothes. They’re kinda too busy doing this…

In my “Groupie” Rubenesque series of romance novels, my heroine Andy Foster is a size 16. She catches the eye of a rocker on the rise who finds himself insatiable for her fuller, more luscious curves. The books come with hot, sexy scenes and I never apologize for Andy’s size because she doesn’t feel the need to. She is comfortable in who she is, and it’s that self-confidence – along with her hourglass figure – that keeps Giovanni Carnevale coming back for more. If you have a hard time believing that a size 16 girl could have that kind of effect on a hot bad boy rocker,

I present model Kaela Humphries.


Also for your consideration, model Ashley Graham:


How about Fluvia Lacerda?


So is it really unrealistic to think a size-16 can be a beautiful, sexy and desirable woman? Only if you swallow the bullshit we’re sold as women in this culture, and I most certainly don’t.

I’m a proud writer of Rubenesque fiction because I refuse to buy into this cultural mindset women only are as valuable as the size dress they wear. Femininity is a beautiful mosaic that we forfeit for some tired ol’ paper doll template with very little wiggle room. (Literally.) We’re inundated in the media with this physical ideal of what women are supposed to look like, which is reinforced in movies and in books to drive it home that if you want a prince charming, you have to be perfect (i.e. young, thin, beautiful.) Any woman who finds love, then, should fit into this narrow example. We see this perpetrated over and over again to the point we accept it as the ultimate “fantasy” of what our happily ever after should look like. All you have to do is dye away the drab, fix or prevent those wrinkles, stuff down those love handles, pluck, tuck and otherwise change everything about you.

If you go by this media standard, then I guess the answer to “Can a good man love a size 16 woman?” is “Are you freaking kidding me?”

By no small coincidence this mindset helps sell magazines and fuels multi-billion dollar diet, beauty and fashion industries. No matter what is wrong with you, there’s a product on some shelf to help fix it. How convenient is that? We are continually (and successfully) sold this bill of goods that the only things we need to worry about are how to lose those pesky extra pounds and how to find/land/keep a man. Go stand in any grocery store checkout line anywhere and peruse all those blurbs meant to entice you into picking up and buying a woman’s magazine.

What is the media telling you about yourself? It’s telling you that you are one hot mess, and only their sage and all-knowing advice can save you from your biggest problem. You know… YOU.

I’ll let you in on a little secret and save you about $5 on that magazine…it’s all hogwash.

Men aren’t nearly as obsessed about our weight as we are. They know what they like when they see it, and that runs the gamut between slender and athletic to voluptuous and “womanly”. Many men like curves. Studies have even suggested they are biologically predisposed to. They salivate over buxom beauties that are closer to a double digit size than a size 0. They sing happily about Brick Houses and Big Butts, while we give more and more of our money to those who get rich off of convincing us we’re fat and ugly (and that fat always equals ugly.) We fixate on that stupid scale while, honestly, “good men” are more concerned with how confidently we carry what we got. This is why the average American woman can be an unforgivable size 14 yet still find a husband, have a family and generally enjoy life despite what the media would have her believe.

Let’s put a face on an the average woman, shall we? Meet model Robyn Lawley, whose UK size is 16, which happens to be the average woman size of British women.


In the US, the average size is a size 14. Know what that means? THIS is the body of the “every” woman.


Yet in our media we have to congratulate Christina Hendricks for being “brave enough” to buck the norm and flaunt her curves – when her curves ARE the norm. These are the folks who want you to believe there is something wrong with you, ladies. Why on earth are you listening to them?

Fortunately the real world application of sexual attraction is a little more complex than some arbitrary number. Women are, and should be, three dimensional humans who have value above and beyond what size dress they wear, and men – particularly good ones – will find themselves attracted to all sorts of women for all sorts of reasons.

Some men even find what we consider our fatal flaws kinda sexy. It means we’re not perfect. When you think about it that’s a lot of pressure to put on a mate.

In fact, judging that all men can only love a certain size woman isn’t giving guys a whole lot of credit. Sure they are visually stimulated creatures who have a propensity to think with their penises. But shouldn’t the guy you’re with be able to love all the things that make you uniquely you the same way you love all the things that make him uniquely him? I mean… isn’t that what the ideal of love truly is? Being unconditionally accepted and valued for who you truly are, warts and all?

The real-world answer of “Can a good man love a size 16 woman” is a resounding yes. Thankfully for all the people who don’t fit in the paint-by-numbers boxes of mainstream media (which is the majority of us) love isn’t a formula. Good men can love a size 12, a size 2, a size 24 and a size 10. It’s not about the *size* – it’s about the WOMAN. It’s a novel idea, really… that someone can be loved for the sum of their parts and not something likely in a constant state of flux like one’s dress size.

Many people will tell you that what they thought they wanted and where their hearts eventually landed were completely different. Love is funny like that. If you create within you a woman worth loving, which has nothing to do with the size dress you wear, a man is going to find himself falling in love with you. The trick is to be the kind of woman he never knew he wanted/needed, which is kinda what happened with my darling hubby, Steven. I’m sure 14 years ago if you would have asked him to conjure the woman of his dreams, it wouldn’t have been me. Instead he got more, in almost every sense of the word.

Men are fully capable to appreciate all the things that make you the fully realized person that you are. In my not-so-humble opinion this is the very quality that makes them “good men.” If you’ve been dumped on your ample fanny because some guy couldn’t handle your extra padding, the problem isn’t really yours. It’s his for being a superficial jerk. Wipe that dirt off your shoulder and move on. One day you’ll be so thankful he dumped you so that a truly good man could find you and give you all the love that other guy didn’t think you deserved.

But let me also propose this: if a “good” man dumps a size 16 woman, it probably has nothing to do with her size. More than likely it has everything to do with how she views herself because of that size.

See, this is really the crux of the whole problem. I can bet you the woman who asked that question had just been dissed by the guy she fancied and it probably wasn’t the first time. This is a pattern that has repeated, so she ended up in that spot where she wondered, “What’s wrong with ME?” since clearly she is the common denominator.

If you’re being continually dumped by otherwise good men, it may indeed be something you’re doing wrong. But that has dick to do with the size you wear. Despite what our culture will tell you, being overweight is not a personality flaw or inherent failure. It’s simply a physical condition. Carrying a few extra pounds isn’t really even a “bad” condition, despite being “aesthetically displeasing” to many. Some detractors will jump on the “health” bandwagon of fat-shaming but the simple truth is you can’t determine someone’s health by the weight they carry, and that’s usually just a straw man argument anyway. The teenage boy mooing at you at the grocery store couldn’t give a rat’s ass if you are in more danger of developing heart disease or diabetes; anymore than that guy at the bar sizing up the hot chick with a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other cares much about her liver or her lungs.

It’s not about health, it’s about fat. And here’s the great thing about fat… you can lose it. No, really. You can. If you think your weight is holding you back most of the time there are steps you can take to change your current physical condition. The problem isn’t with the weight. It’s with your attitude. If you don’t love yourself you’re not going to do the things you need to do to take care of yourself. Period. So whether you plan to stay a size 16 or not, eventually you’re going to have to give up hating your own body.

A remarkable thing happens the minute you do. The people around you then begin to treat you with the same respect you show yourself. The person most guilty of not being able to love the size 16 woman is the size 16 woman. Societal distaste aside, odds are the one beating you up most for being a size 16 is you. You’ve bought into the fantasy the media sold you. If you were a size 4 and a guy didn’t love you, you wouldn’t blame your size. So that means you accept inferiority based on nothing more than some dumb ol’ number on a label, which kinda makes you the superficial douchenozzle and not the guy at all.

Worse…if you think no one can love you because of your size then that sadly becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. You’re never going to believe that a man could love you despite your size because you clearly don’t. Even if you do luck out and find “a good man,” he begins the fruitless endeavor to fill the holes you keep gouging in your own self-esteem. Anyone trying fill that bottomless pit of validation will inevitably tire from the strain.

Even some of those “good” men.

Can a good man love a size 16 woman? I argue that only the best men can. So do your part to hang onto them… love yourself as unconditionally as you wish to be loved and give these poor guys a break. If you have a good man who wants to love you, he already thinks you are the body beautiful. Own it, diva!


In addition to being a full-time freelance writer, Ginger Voight is an optioned screenwriter who has completed eight feature length screenplays. She is also a published writer with several Kindle edition books available through Amazon, including “Love Plus One,” her “Real Woman Romance.” An avid blogger, Ginger earned a faithful following on several websites, including Twitter, AOL, Myspace and WordPress. Her topics cover everything from pop culture, travel, diets and weight loss, movies and books as well as news and politics. Additionally she has had poetry published in several anthologies as well as several websites. Ginger was also included in the best selling book by Smith Magazine “Not Quite What I Was Planning”, featuring her six word memoir. Ginger lives in Texas with her husband, two amazing sons and menagerie of pets, all of whom provide fodder for her rich storytelling imagination. You can join her official Facebook fan page for all new updates of upcoming projects.


In the Courtroom of Honor, The Judge Quoted His Dylan

              Guess which songwriter gets cited most in legal briefs?


Bob Dylan 1966


I mean, in a way, who did you expect, Lindsey Buckingham? Of course judges quote Bob Dylan more than any other songwriter when passing down their opinions. (Other contenders: Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M.) But according to this interesting LA Times piece, the degree to which judges identify Dylan with the principles that sent them into careers in jurisprudence remains strong, despite how the years may have changed the reality of those principles—or the ideological/politica​l affiliation of the judges themselves.

By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer

On summer nights in the mid-1960s, while black-and-white television crackled elsewhere in his Staten Island home with news of Southern violence and Vietnam, Bobby Lasnik would stretch out in his bedroom to let the righteous soundtrack of the civil rights movement waft into his impressionable teenage soul.

Tuned in to WBAI-FM, coming across the water from Manhattan, he heard baleful laments about injustice that he would carry with him for a lifetime.

“Suddenly there was someone speaking a certain kind of truth to you. You’d say, ‘Wow! That’s something I’m not used to hearing on the radio, something that moved me,'” Lasnik said of the first time he heard the lyrics of Bob Dylan. “I don’t even remember which song it was, but I loved the imagery, the words you wouldn’t think about putting together and the concepts that would emerge in your mind when you heard them.”

Now the imagery flows in the other direction. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik — Your Honor, not Bobby — has been known to invoke the voice of the vagabond poet in rulings from the federal bench in Seattle. He has recited lines from “Chimes of Freedom” in a case weighing the legality of indefinite detention and “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” the battle cry of the civil rights movement, in a landmark ruling that excluding contraceptives from an employer’s prescription drug plan constitutes sex discrimination.

Lasnik isn’t alone in weaving Dylan’s protest-era pathos into contemporary legal discourse.

No musician’s lyrics are more often cited than Dylan’s in court opinions and briefs, say legal experts who have chronicled the artist’s influence on today’s legal community. From U.S. Supreme Court rulings to law school courses, Dylan’s words are used to convey messages about the law and courts gone astray.

His signature protest songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” gave voice and vocabulary to the antiwar and civil rights marches. His most powerful ballads, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “Hurricane,” have become models for legal storytelling and using music to make a point.

Dylan’s music and values have imprinted themselves on the justice system because his songs were the score playing during the formative years of the judges and lawyers now populating the nation’s courthouses, colleges and blue-chip law firms, says Michael Perlin, a New York Law School professor who has used Dylan lyrics as titles for at least 50 published law journal articles.

Perlin and others lured to the law by the moral siren songs of the 1960s credit Dylan with roles in passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, federal sentencing guidelines that purport to ensure more equitable prison terms and due process reforms prohibiting racial profiling.

“Everyone wants to believe that the music they listen to says something about who they are,” says Alex Long, a University of Texas law professor who has researched the penetration of political songwriting into the legal system.

“Being a judge is a pretty cloistered existence, having to crank out these opinions in isolation. Dylan was popular at the time they were coming of age and trying to figure out who they were,” says Long, a 41-year-old exposed to Dylan’s musings as a child at the foot of his parents’ record player. “The chance to throw in a line from your favorite artist is tempting, a chance to let your freak flag fly.”

During a semester in 2007, Long combed legal databases to identify lyrics in court filings and scholarly publications, finding Dylan cited 186 times, far outpacing the rest of the top 10: the Beatles, 74; Bruce Springsteen, 69; Paul Simon, 59; Woody Guthrie, 43; the Rolling Stones, 39; the Grateful Dead, 32; Simon & Garfunkel, 30; Joni Mitchell, 28; and R.E.M., 27.

And it doesn’t end with musicians. In apparent efforts to add rhetorical flourish to their rulings, judges have also often cited famous writers and humorists. In a U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruling last year, Judge Francis M. Allegra lamented the perplexity of the 1982 Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, writing that it “is the sort of law that brings to mind the old Mark Twain line: ‘The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.'”

But to date, it is the songs of the 1960s that seem to have the judges’ ears.

One oft-cited line comes from Dylan’s first top 10 hit, which half a dozen California appellate court rulings have included to convey that expert testimony is unnecessary to make a point obvious to any layman.

You don’t need a weatherman

To know which way the wind blows.

— “Subterranean Homesick Blues

Georgetown Law School Professor Abbe Smith describes Dylan’s “Hattie Carroll” as “an almost perfect ballad, a little bit of story and a little bit of lecture.” It mocks the injustice of a six-month jail sentence given a wealthy Maryland socialite, William Zantziger, for the 1963 beating death of black barmaid Hattie Carroll for being too slow to bring his drink.

Devoted Dylan fans now teaching law have incorporated into their curricula that ballad and “Hurricane,” the story of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s murder trial in Paterson, N.J., as models from which aspiring trial lawyers can hone their craft.

The traffic stop during which the Paterson police found shell casings linking Carter to a triple murder should have led to exclusion of the evidence because the police had no “reasonable suspicion” of a crime having been committed when they stopped him, said Allison Connelly, a University of Kentucky law professor and former public defender.

His trial is a textbook example for young attorneys on the value of digging for evidence and challenging the authorities’ side of the story, Connelly said. She asks her students to draw on Dylan’s lyrical account of the case to identify flaws in the prosecution’s theory, find witnesses and set up parallel time lines to create an alibi for the defendant.

All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance

The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance


The song tells a story of racist cops, a crooked judge and a biased jury that sent Carter to prison for two life sentences. A federal judge ultimately overturned Carter’s conviction, saying the prosecution had been “based on an appeal to racism rather than reason.”

Dylan’s portrayal of the case as a frame-up may have influenced the enactment or enforcement of laws prohibiting traffic stops without cause and barring prosecutors from dismissing jurors because of their race, Connelly speculates.

In one of his first important cases after being named to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1998, Lasnik quoted Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom” to evoke the artist’s sympathy for the downtrodden and mistreated. The case centered on a challenge by deportable undocumented immigrants who had been detained for years.

We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing

As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds

Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight

An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night

An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

—”Chimes of Freedom”

But while judges like Lasnik, 60, pay homage to Dylan, the respect doesn’t appear mutual, notes David Zornow, a partner at the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

“This is a guy who doesn’t have a lot good to say about judges,” says Zornow, who in the voluminous archive of the artist’s lyrics found only two references to judges that cast them as caring and professional. Most refer to corruption and caprice.

Like a suspect invoking his right to remain silent, Dylan declined through his spokesman Larry Jenkins to talk about his role as legal muse.

Dylan’s lyrics are often identified with the left, but the two citations in U.S. Supreme Court rulings were made by conservatives. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. ruled in 2008 that billing firms hired by payphone operators didn’t have standing to sue because they had no claim on the money they collected, slightly misquoting Dylan with his comment: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

The lyrics:

When you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

—”Like a Rolling Stone”

Last year, Justice Antonin Scalia brought up Dylan when he scolded his high court colleagues for declining to rule yet on the evolving question of when employees have an expectation of privacy in using company email, arguing that ” ‘The Times They Are a-Changin” is a feeble excuse for disregard of duty.”

Lasnik, who has also quoted Paul Simon’s line from “The Boxer” about willful ignorance — “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” — feigns distress at the justices’ emulating of his habit of referencing Dylan.

“When Chief Justice Roberts quoted Dylan, I thought, ‘Oh, no!'” said Lasnik. “Now it’s not cool anymore.”


Props to percy thrillington


‘Kurt Vonnegut’s’ Commencement Address

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT in 1997. It’s great stuff and a beautiful piece…


Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Engineers and Managers


A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”
The man below says: “Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.”
You must be an engineer” says the balloonist.
“I am” replies the man. “How did you know.”
“Well,” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone.”
The man below says “you must be in management.”
“I am” replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” says the man, “you don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”

Rick Fischler

TV shows to watch in 2014

New series like The Leftovers and Salem take their place among old favorites like Orange is the New Black and Mad Men

It’s going to be tough to top the staggering array of high-quality TV shows that aired in 2013, which included Netflix’s aggressive forays into original programming, top-tier dramas from England, and the triumphant end of AMC’s Breaking Bad. It’s been said time and time again, but it bears repeating: We’re in the midst of a golden age of television — and fortunately, 2014’s lineup is just as promising.

With so many new and returning TV shows hitting the air, which ones are your best bets? A guide:

Game of Thrones (HBO, April 6)

Game of Thrones fans have spent the past nine months poring over every minor update from the set of the fantasy drama. To be fair, there’s plenty to obsess over; after a third season that included several of the series’ most memorable moments — including the long-anticipated Red Wedding — Game of Thrones has set the bar very high. Fortunately, George R.R. Martin’s source material lives up to the task; with major storylines ahead for characters like Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys, fans have more reason to be excited than ever.

Fargo (FX, April 15)

FX’s adaptation of the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning 1996 noir Fargo inspired a fair amount of skepticism. But in the months since the project was announced, there have been more than a few heartening signs that the network could actually pull this off. First, the Coen brothers themselves signed on as executive producers. Next, Fargo assembled a top-tier cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Kate Walsh, and Colin Hanks. Finally, FX revealed that Fargo would be a 10-part limited series — which, like the network’s American Horror Story, will allow for a story with a definitive beginning, middle, and end.

Orphan Black (BBC America, April 19)

There were plenty of snubs at the Emmys last year, but none stung more than the omission of Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, who played seven different characters over the course of the sci-fi drama’s serpentine first season. Fortunately, Orphan Black’s second season, which promises to double down on the first season’s brainy thrills, will give everyone who missed Maslany’s remarkable performance another chance to see her range.

Salem (WGN America, April 20)

WGN America is aiming high with Salem, its first original scripted series and a surprisingly graphic supernatural drama set during the witch trials that earned Salem its infamy. Salem is shot on an impressive recreation of 17th century Salem in Louisiana, and populated with a cast that includes Shane West as a roguish war veteran and Janet Montgomery as an icy villager with a seriously freaky secret.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, May 11)

Showtime’s upcoming horror series — which combines the origin stories of horror icons like Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dorian Gray into a single narrative — is still largely shrouded in mystery. But between The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, the genre is having a bit of a renaissance on television, and it’s long past time for Showtime to get some skin in the game. Also intriguing: Penny Dreadful’s eclectic cast, which includes Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and Timothy Dalton.

Halt and Catch Fire, (AMC, June 1)

AMC’s enigmatic new drama aims to do for the 1980s what Mad Men has done for the 1960s. Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace stars as Joe MacMillan, an early innovator in the burgeoning personal computer market whose success threatens the stability of giants like IBM.

Orange is the New Black (Netflix, June 6)

House of Cards got all the early buzz, but Netflix’s sharpest and most groundbreaking original series turned out to be last summer’s Orange is the New Black, which uses its women’s prison setting to tell a story that’s far more diverse than you’d normally see on television. Anticipation is at a fever pitch for the next batch of OITNB episodes, which pick up after the eventful finale of the first season. If you haven’t yet succumbed to the show’s charms, it’s not too late to start binge-watching season one — what are you waiting for?

The Leftovers (HBO, June 15)

HBO’s newest original drama, which is based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name, chronicles the fallout of a “Rapture-like event” in which two percent of the Earth’s population suddenly disappears. The Leftovers follows the people who didn’t disappear as they attempt to figure out what the inexplicable event means for their own lives. It’s a rich, intriguing concept, and showrunner Damon Lindelof — who co-created Lost — is no stranger to crafting a sprawling TV mystery.

Rectify (SundanceTV, June 19)

After a brief and highly acclaimed six-episode run last year, SundanceTV’s first original series — which tells the story of a Georgia man who was exonerated in the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend after spending 19 years on death row — returns in June. Despite its CSI-worthy premise, Rectify isn’t just another police drama; it’s a quiet, thoughtful exploration of the unexpected and far-reaching consequences that one terrible crime can have for an entire community.

The Strain (FX, July)

FX’s other big project comes with a similarly impressive pedigree. The Strain is based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s co-written vampire novel of the same name, but the project actually began life as a TV proposal. The story, which follows a group of humans attempting to combat a vampiric epidemic, will be carried over to the small screen by creator del Toro and a host of veteran TV actors that include House of Cards’ Corey Stoll, Game of Thrones’ David Bradley, Alias’ Mia Maestro, and Veronica Mars’ Francis Capra.


Test Of Three

In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance, who ran up to him excitedly and said,
“Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me,
I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three.”

“Test of Three?”

“That’s correct,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to test what you’re going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man replied, “actually I just heard about it.”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued, “You may still pass though because there is a third test – the filter of Usefulness.
Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really…”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

The man was defeated and ashamed and said no more.

This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.