Saturday, February 15, 2014

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) in Recalcitrant CRPS

If you've heard of the drug Naltrexone, it's likely to have been according to its most known context, as explained by the good Wikipedia:

Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. It is marketed in generic form as its hydrochloride salt, naltrexone hydrochloride, and marketed under the trade names Revia and Depade. In some countries including the United States, a once-monthly extended-release injectable formulation is marketed under the trade name Vivitrol.
Yet, there is a movement calling for low dose Naltrexone clinical trials, as anecdotal evidence accrues that it is improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson's Disease, Crohn's, Multiple Sclerosis, and several cases of pancreatic cancer.

I tend toward skepticism but try to remember that Ketamine, which has proven useful to many CRPS patients, and others with unrelenting pain from things as diverse as advanced cancers to phantom limb pain, also came on the scene as the result of a single case study.

If you -- like me -- would like to read up on LDN therapies, a sort of clearinghouse of information is available through the efforts of doctors and researchers calling themselves "The LDNscience™ Team" HERE.


This is the first article I've seen dealing specifically with CRPS and low dose Naltrexone.
Full text available online courtesy of SpringerLink

Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
© The Author(s) 2013
Received: 7 November 2012
Accepted: 4 March 2013

Published online: 2 April 2013

Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Using Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Pradeep Chopra (1)  and Mark S. Cooper (2)
(1)Department of Medicine, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, 102 Smithfield Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860, USA
(2)Department of Biology, Graduate Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1800, USA

Pradeep Chopra (Corresponding author)

Mark S. Cooper

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a neuropathic pain syndrome, which involves glial activation and central sensitization in the central nervous system. Here, we describe positive outcomes of two CRPS patients, after they were treated with low-dose naltrexone (a glial attenuator), in combination with other CRPS therapies. Prominent CRPS symptoms remitted in these two patients, including dystonic spasms and fixed dystonia (respectively), following treatment with low-dose naltrexone (LDN). LDN, which is known to antagonize the Toll-like Receptor 4 pathway and attenuate activated microglia, was utilized in these patients after conventional CRPS pharmacotherapy failed to suppress their recalcitrant CRPS symptoms.
Keywords Chronic pain Complex regional pain syndrome CRPS Reflex sympathetic dystrophy RSD Neuropathic pain Naltrexone Fixed dystonia Allodynia Vasomotor Ulceration Dystonic spasms Conversion disorder Functional movement disorder LDN

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a neuroinflammatory condition that is characterized by a combination of sensory, autonomic, vasomotor, and motors dysfunctions. One of the characteristic symptoms of this condition is that the pain is out of proportion to the initial injury. Diagnoses of CRPS are often delayed because it is under recognized (Binkley 2012). If effective treatments are given early enough in progression of the disease, there is reduced chance for the spread of regional pain, autonomic dysfunction, motor changes, and negative sensory symptoms, such as hypoalgesia (Marinus et al. 2011). As CRPS progresses, it becomes refractory to sympathetic nerve blocks, conventional analgesics, anticonvulsants and antidepressants.

During neuroimmune activation, TLR4 (Toll-Like Receptor 4) is upregulated in microglia, resident immune cells of the central nervous system (Watkins et al. 2009). After transection of the L5 spinal nerve in the rat, TLR4 expression is increased in spinal microglia. This correlates with the rodent developing neuropathic pain (Tanga et al. 2005). From a post-mortem analysis of a CRPS patient, activated microglia and astroglia in the central nervous system (CNS) have been implicated in the generation of CRPS symptoms (Del Valle et al. 2009).

Activation of TLR4 in both microglia and CNS neurons augments the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines via the NF-κB pathway (Milligan and Watkins 2009; Leow-Dyke et al. 2012). NF-kB is a multi-functional transcription factor that is activated by c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK), or p38 (Milligan and Watkins 2009). In activated glia and neurons, NF-κB activity promotes the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and neurotoxic superoxides (Milligan and Watkins 2009; Leow-Dyke et al. 2012; Fellner et al. 2013), which act as mediators for neuropathic pain, as well as other neurological dysfunctions (Liu et al. 2000; Barbosa et al. 2012; Besedovsky and del Rey 2011). Pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as the neurotrophin BNDF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), induce enhanced excitatory tone and diminished inhibitory tone in nociceptive neural networks, leading to hyperalgesia or allodynia (von Hehn et al. 2012). Sustained TLR4 stimulation in microglial populations can also lead to neuronal injury and death (Fellner et al. 2013).

In rodents, the TLR4 antagonist, naltrexone, is able to suppress allodynia arising from bone cancer (Mao-Ying et al. 2012). In rodents, naltrexone is able to cross the blood–brain barrier, suppress glial cell activation, and reverse neuropathic pain arising from chronic constriction nerve injury (Hutchinson et al. 2008).

A recent study reports that low-dose oral naltrexone reduces pain in fibromyalgia patients (Younger and Mackey 2009). Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) refers to doses approximately 50-fold lower than doses of naltrexone typically given to patients addicted to opioids (Rea et al. 2004; Younger and Mackey 2009).
Opiate antagonists differ from opioids through a replacement of the characteristic N-methyl group with a N-cyclopropyl, N-allyl group. At low concentrations, naltrexone is able to antagonize TLR4 on activated glial cells, without inhibiting other opioid receptors in the CNS (Hutchinson et al. 2008). This allows endogenous anti-nociceptive pathways involving μ-receptors to continue operating.

A recent paper has reported positive benefit of ibudilast, an oral glial attenuator, for the treatment of neuropathic pain in several CRPS patients (Rolan et al. 2009). Below, we describe positive outcomes of two CRPS patients treated with low-dose naltrexone, in combination with other CRPS therapies. Low-dose naltrexone was utilized in these patients after more conventional CRPS pharmacotherapy failed to suppress their recalcitrant CRPS symptoms. Each patient met IASP criteria for the diagnosis of CRPS.

Here are two sets of photos from the article of the first case study, before and after treatment with LDN:

Fig. 1
Advanced CRPS symptoms in Case 1. 4.5 years after onset of the disorder. a Allodynia and pronounced vasomotor dysfunction are present in the lower right extremity (photo taken 9/18/2008). b One week later, the leg has developed numerous ulcerations.

Fig. 2
Case 1. Certain symptoms are attenuated following treatment with low-dose naltrexone (LDN) in a long-standing case of CRPS (6 years after onset). a Allodynia is greatly reduced in both legs after LDN. However, bilateral trophic changes remain in the lower extremities. Slight swelling is present in the distal portion of the right foot. Within 2 months of treatment with LDN, the patient was able to bear full body weight, and walk without assistance. Before LDN, the patient utilized a cane for 6 years. b One year after LDN treatment, the patient still has persistent long-term trophic changes in the skin of both lower extremities (taken 1/16/2013)

Causalgia, which is often a salient feature of CRPS, has long been viewed as having a neuroinflammatory etiology (Mitchell 1872; Sudeck 1901). Although centralized neuropathic pain has been connected to activated glia in rodents (Milligan and Watkins 2009), it is an open question whether the symptoms in CRPS in humans are linked to activated glia in the CNS. The positive responses of the two patients discussed above to LDN are among the first reported benefits of glial attenuators for CRPS symptoms. A prior study described moderate pain benefit to several CRPS patients enrolled in a clinical trial of ibudilast, another glial attenuator that is unrelated to LDN in its molecular action (Rolan et al. 2009).

The second case study addressed in this work is based on a teen who suffered from several other disorders, including  Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It's unfortunate (and, on a personal note, infuriating) but her instance, in particular, the evidence of "fixed dystonia" was glossed over as a probable conversion disorder.  That seems to be the state of things in areas of study that are a bit removed from clinical experience.

It's also important to recognize the limitations of all case study reports, and in these cases, there not being, for example, the exclusions and protocols of a clinical trial, both patients received a variety of concomitant treatments, and the methods of evaluation were diverse, and sometimes, lacking.

That said, it's something else for those of us with advanced CRPS non-responsive to treatment to check out. There is a large amount of anecdotal evidence/support among MS patients for use of Low Dose Naltrexone, but no sufficiently rigorous clinical trials to date.  It has also gained much support in the treatment of Crohn's disease, but again, more in popular media than scientific.

There have been accusations that LDN may fall into the frustrating category of "an unprofitable cure."

To read about both case studies and further discussion, click HERE.

Friday, February 14, 2014

dearest literate friends

Here follows a group email just sent to the people in my life whom I consider both important and of a literate, if not literary, bent.  It follows here because it occurred to me that some of my dearly beloved readers make up that group, but we don't habitually correspond.

Of course, some of you think I'm crazy, and I haven't been overly driven to dissuade you of that notion -- although this ought to do it:

dearest literate friends:

i am considering finishing the second chapter of my novel, after i rewrite the first, of course.  however, the monkey on my back is driving me batty.  therefore, this email, akin to a gentle overnight laxative made for women.

in reference to references some of you have repeatedly made (or thought), mostly in the form of formulaic admonitions, written in the guise or attitude of "wise, successful writer/person" to "naive, unpublished scrivener/person," i have found my own formulaic defense! 

to what references do i refer?  well, nicely put, my tendency to muddle and befuddle, to compound, to render complex what the poor reader needs reduced to the pure seasonal note of a finely reduced sauce, wherein what began as excess is reduced to mere teasing hints of possible meaning.  those references, spoken, written, smirked, thought, and printed on the occasional organic cotton tee.

why should i need a defense, as my detractors intend not to detract but to aid, smooth, glaze, and lovingly correct?  well, mostly because i am considering a return to a website fairyland full of know-it-all writers. i love them, they love me, but we will never, ever be family...

john dewey shall be my apologist, as foretold at my birth, and the announcement of his anachronistic endorsement of my efforts to creatively write will clear the cluttered path to my writing, and shoo away the nincompoops who cannot sit placidly in my messes of zen.

so here it is, my new signature "look," er, quote:

"I should venture to assert that the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context " --John Dewey

Clarice Lispector
(What? you were expecting John Dewey?)
loosa lee
bianca castafiore

© 2013 L. Ryan

Sir Gay on Comedy Central

First off, just to get it in, as it will make my more dedicated readers fall off their chairs -- I LOVE the LOVE of country that prevails among all the Russians interviewed.  I LOVE the answer given by the four or five gay men to the idiotic question, "Why don't you just come to America?"

Now, the important thing:

I want "in" on that hug... You know there's a good God, vibes of grace, and unfathomable heart in this world when you catch a glimpse of people like this Russian woman quoting "Angel"!

Angel: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there's no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters... , then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is. What we do. Now. Today. I fought for so long, for redemption, for a reward, and finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.
Kate Lockley: And now you do?
Angel: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because, I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Kate Lockley: Yikes. It sounds like you've had an epiphany.
Angel: I keep saying that, but nobody's listening.

Tom Perkins: I've Got Your Million Votes Right Here (Genteel Gesture, Mine)

Tip o'the hat to Scarce at Daily Kos and to CNN Money for digging deep, journalistically, to find something redemptive to throw at the story --

The audience at the Commonwealth Club reacted with laughter. But Perkins offered no immediate indication that he was joking. Asked offstage if the proposal was serious, Perkins said: "I intended to be outrageous, and it was."
Perkins, the great wit, is author of the phrase "the war on the 1%," as well as his nervous twitch of an exposition thereupon in the WSJ on 24 January 2014: 

Regarding your editorial "Censors on Campus" (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich." 
From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these "techno geeks" can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a "snob" despite the millions she has spent on our city's homeless and mentally ill over the past decades. 
This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?

Giving you a moment to recover from the shock of the abject cruelty of the SF Chronicle besmirching San Francisco's "number-one celebrity" as a snob... I hope that knowing Steel's net worth of $375 million will bring her enough electoral clout to somehow right that wrong may be of some comfort to you.

Clearly, though, Perkins doesn't read enough of the Chronicle, as SFGate (the e-version) covered Steel's altruism in sympathetic depth quite a few years ago. An excerpt on how her efforts to help battle homelessness began tells part of the tale:

But almost no one, except for the crew she worked with, her children and two close friends, had any idea that for 11 years, beginning in 1998, Danielle Steel would slip away from her Pacific Heights home under midnight shadows into a van filled with supplies to assist homeless people she sought out in the dark, dingy corners of San Francisco. 
Last month, the prolific author released three books: A novel, "The Sins of the Mother"; the paperback of a previous novel, "Hotel Vendome"; and a nonfiction title, "A Gift of Hope: Helping the Homeless" (Delacorte Press; 144 pages; $20), about her work with the homeless and her outreach foundation, Yo! Angel! 
"I started this during a very lonely, desperately unhappy time in my life," says Steel, in a drawing room of her home. "After Nicky (her son who committed suicide in 1997) died, I went to church and prayed for a way to help. Nicky was always very kind to homeless people, buying them a sandwich or a pack of smokes. And 'helping the homeless' is what kept returning to my mind." 
As a child, Steel's first vocational dream was to become a nun.

Hell's Bells!  Perkins should have some provision in his voting scheme for doubling, nay, TRIPLING, the number of votes that a 1%-er philanthropist / artist like Steel ought to receive.  Not everyone can see past the need for mental health reform, substance abuse rehab centers, and affordable housing to the overwhelming essentials of sandwiches, smokes, and thousands of small teddy bears ["The bears were magic. Somehow, with that single gesture, we had restored not only a memory of their childhood, but a tender part of their humanity that had been missing."]

When her love affair with the city on the bay ended, due to her discovery of embezzlement by a longtime associate, and the failure of her art gallery, Steel did what all dedicated philanthropists do -- she started several foundations and moved to Paris.

To be fair, and I rarely strive for that attribution, she did discover that there was a mental health problem among San Francisco's homeless people -- mostly, in her opinion, that they "are off their meds."

Ah, I seem to be wandering again.  That's what happens when those of us who pay no taxes -- because we live on private disability (and not that nasty, besmirchable public dole!) that keeps us below the poverty line -- are allowed a computer and free access to Google's Blogger.  We just jabber on and on, wasting everyone's time.  There's no rancor in me, nary a subatomic bit, because I started work on a novel based on life at a shelter for homeless men -- a project that, clearly, I now have to call off, both because I'm worthless as a citizen and even less effective as a writer.  I am, in every way that matters, no Danielle Steel;  I am bereft of apologists with Tom Perkins' incisive ardor and bucks.

So, Dear Beloved Readers, I shall endeavor to leave you today with a trail of gratitude bread crumbs, the last being to thank Crooks and Liars for the video...


Grand Theft, Sibling Style: 35 Months Since the Disaster at Fukushima Daiichi

My eldest brother is my wisest one.  He also has the kindest heart and the most natural, unpolluted concept of living well and peacefully in community with one another and the Earth that is our gracious home.

I haven't ripped anything off from his blog, American Idyll in what seems like YEARS but is actually months.
Tonight, I'm scratching that itch, I'm cracking my knuckles, I'm gearing down for a casual five-fingered discount of digital thievery.  Ah, but thievery rich with attribution!  Go to American Idyll, browse, travel, dream, and learn - laugh, point, giggle, fall into awed silence the way you once were able to collapse into a bean bag contraption (and get up again).

He's democratic by nature and virtue, and so I'm hoping he won't hitch a ride on Elvis the Crow, leading a bazillion of the pointy-beaked creatures to peck on my head for violations of propriety, property, boundaries.

Not many of the voices raised or calmly modulated to float over the chaotic cacophony of the Fukushima accident and subsequent disasters are being heard.  Who wants to hear that stuff?  Unfortunately, the righteous question remains:  How dare we continue to play at being deaf, and prove our stupidity and arrogance, even if those attributes are the natural afterbirth of fear?  Fear is fueling our history of poor decisions, and our poor decisions are fueling the death power of these ecological man-made radiation disasters.  My brother-unit seems to recommend that we educate ourselves on what happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as well as what is happening at nuclear facilities around the world by staying abreast of this news via Energy News.

Hot off the presses at Energy News, by just minutes?

Radioactive cesium levels “never seen before” at Fukushima — New record as totals nearly double in under 24 hours — Officials admit ‘there may be a new leak’ — IAEA urging for ‘resumption’ of dumping contaminated water into ocean; ‘All options’ need to be considered...

The IAEA suggestions, by the way, are being roundly criticized, though I cannot discern, with what little I've read, what viable alternatives are being offered.  Here are, however, some of the reactions to the UN agency's proposals:

AFP, Feb. 13, 2014: Fukushima should eye ‘controlled discharges’ in sea: IAEA — The UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday urged Japan to consider “controlled discharges” into the sea of contaminated water used to cool the crippled reactors at Fukushima. [...] “This would require considering all options, including the possible resumption of controlled discharges to the sea.” [...] local fishermen, neighbouring countries and environmental groups all oppose the idea. [...] The agency also called for a careful assessment of the company’s plan to create a subterranean “freeze wall” to prevent radioactive groundwater from leaking into the ocean — an ongoing problem that has stoked fears about dangers posed to marine life and the food chain. [...]
Shanghai Daily, Feb. 13, 2014: TEPCO is still eyeing dumping toxic water into the Pacific Ocean as it fails to contain in makeshift storage tanks [...] a massive daily influx of water needed to cool the battered reactors, while nuclear experts believe that other methods need to be traversed before contaminating the ocean. Dumping radioactive water into the ocean is of grave concern to local fisheries cooperatives as the potential for radioactive materials to spread to marine life remains a distinct possibility, despite TEPCO’s assurances the levels of radioactivity will be kept well below the government’s and regulator’s limits. [...] Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka [...] said that even though three years has passed since the reactor meltdowns at the plant, TEPCO is still utterly inept when it comes to taking accurate readings of radioactivity [...] and “lacks a basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation.”
NHK, Feb. 14, 2014: IAEA: Consider discharging contaminated water — [The IAEA] advised [Tepco] to examine all options to treat contaminated water. These include resuming controlled discharges of radioactive water into the sea. [...] [IAEA's Juan Carlos Lentijo says] the situation remains very complex [...] the IAEA team believes it is necessary to find a sustainable solution to the problem of managing contaminated water at the plant. It says that this would require considering all options, including the possible resumption of controlled discharges to the sea.
Xinhua, Feb. 13, 2014: [TEPCO] said Thursday that samples of water tested contained radioactive cesium at levels never seen before by the embattled utility. TEPCO [is] admitting there may be a new leak at the site of a well located just 50 meters from the adjacent Pacific Ocean [...] The utility has failed to locate the source of the leak, in another major failing [...]
Tepco Handout, February 13, 2014: “The highest dose among the results previously announced” — 130,000 Bq/L of Cs-134, 137. Previous record set the day before at 76,000 Bq/L of Cs-134, 137.

I'm proud of my brother's voice joining with other activists' ways of speaking to the world.  But, as sisters do, I think his way of leading us to the information is gentler, and inspired.  (This is the part where I steal his post, all the while reminding you, Dearly Beloved Readers, that TW is its author, the artist who makes these beautiful collages of words, photography [his own], and subtle spell casting.  And maybe, right here, lost in all my verbiage, I can slip in how very much I cherish him, love him, and wish to sooth his brow.)


The mysterious manner in which this growing sense of unity commingles with a sense of utter goodness is worth noting. It arises by no effort of mine; rather does it come to me out of I know not where. Harmony appears gradually and flows through my whole being like music. An infinite tenderness takes possession of me, smoothing away the harsh cynicism which a reiterated experience of human ingratitude and human treachery has driven deeply into my temperament. I feel the fundamental benignity of Nature despite the apparent manifestation of ferocity.
Like the sounds of every instrument in an orchestra that is in tune, all things and all people seem to drop into the sweet relationship that subsists within the Great Mother's own heart.
--Paul Brunton
A Hermit in the Himalayas: The Journal of a Lonely Exile



A Highway Of Diamonds With Nobody On It

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept dripping
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleeding
I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warning
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazing
Heard ten thousand whispering and nobody listening

Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughing
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-going back out before the rain starts a-falling
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest dark forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Bob DylanA Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Simple, Brilliant Innovation: Still Looking for Lindsey Baum published this article two days ago,  and in the very simplicity of the project lies its brilliance.  It seems like a wonderful idea to be taken nationwide, worldwide, in the search for missing persons.

PACIFIC, Wash. — On Wednesday, aged-progressed posters of missing child Lindsey Baum will be added to Gordon Trucking trailers as part of the Washington State Patrol's Homeward Bound Program.
Baum was last seen on June 26, 2009, in McCleary.   She was 10 when she disappeared.

Posters of Baum have been traveling around the country on 10 Gordon Trucking trailers since 2010.
Members of Lindsey Baum’s family will be at the event at Gordon Trucking.

An age-progressed photo of Baum was created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children last summer.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Lindsey Baum should call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tip line at 1-800-THE-LOST.

More information about the Homeward Bound program can be found here  and a gallery of Washington State's Missing Children can be found at this link.

The Winter Garden Biosphere

Given the heaviness of the scones I made this morning, if I'm a foodie, I'm a failed foodie.  But when we see beauty, we know beauty.

White House Chef Cris Comerford describes the Winter Garden Salad in the White House blog, taken over by that fine kitchen so as to show some behind the scenes prep for the State Dinner with French President Hollande -- via Instagram.

The salad features herbs from the White House Kitchen Garden, and the dressing uses honey from the beehive on the South Lawn.
A tiny biosphere, pristine, a look at what Mother Earth can due when both nurtured and left alone:

About Chef Cristeta Comerford:

Chef Cristeta Comerford credits Obamas with change in White House food

Cristeta Comerford - White House Executive Chef

White House Menu for State Dinner with President of Ghana
September 15, 2006

Cristeta Comerford White House Chef

© 2013 L. Ryan

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Presidential Poetics: "No woman ever played the whore / Unless She had a man to help her."*

source of my titular tease:

Whatever Spiteful fools may Say—

Each jealous, ranting yelper—

No woman ever played the whore

Unless She had a man to help her.


Thought I'd share this, as I never knew that President Lincoln wrote in verse.  I admit that not much would astound me.

"President Lincoln leads the Nordic Combined after soaring over the heads of the fans gathered at the bottom of the Normal Hill, for an estimated distance of 145 meters.  Having forgotten his cross-country skis at Knob Creek Farm in Kentucky, Lincoln himself fashioned a fine pair of Sochi birch, sharing a drink of warm black birch nectar with all comers.."

Anyway... once again I sing the praises of the Academy of American Poets and their Poem-A-Day program. It would not occur to me to search for The Poems of Abraham Lincoln while wandering the aisles at Amazon.

Only three poems can be attributed to Lincoln with certainty, and all are in the public domain.  I like the remark, though, that reviewer fredtownward threw down:

OK, I have to admit, this one has me a bit stumped. Who WOULD appreciate a gift edition of the only complete narrative poem (though sometimes treated as 2 or 3 separate poems as it is here, the author considered it a single poem in three cantos with differing subjects) attributed to Abraham Lincoln with absolute certainty? (There are several short scraps of verse scattered throughout his writings and one anonymous poem, "The Suicide's Soliloquy," that has been attributed to him by some scholars.)

Well, poetry lovers are a good possibility, as are teachers of poetry, and they might also appreciate the uniform edition of John Quincy Adams' poem The Wants of Man. Abraham Lincoln had a lifelong interest in both reading and writing poetry, and as these verses prove, he was no slouch at it. Another are would-be poets who could use a little encouragement to keep at it: if Abraham Lincoln could keep at it,... Admirers, students, and teachers of Lincoln and his times are good possibilities, too, and they might also appreciate the uniform edition of The Emancipation Proclamation.

Note: One could complain that this book is available online for free. Well, yes, what part of in the public domain do you not understand? However, trying to get away with giving someone a printout as a gift will earn you the nickname of cheapskate.... 

Someone had the nerve to pretend the praise of "home-spun" in describing Lincoln's work.  I have a knee-jerk issue with that phrase that I will have to get over, for spinning from his home, like some knob-kneed spindly spider wending his web, mending his land... is perhaps what best describes the words Lincoln wrought, fraught with more care -- and cares -- than I can imagine.

Okay, Lincoln gets to me.

Here's the poem the Academy dropped in my email box today, perfect for the frozen tundra that quiets Marlinspike Hall today.  We are somber, we admit it.  The Castafiore feels the weather in her bones, and chose to cuddle with our Maine Coon, Buddy, an ever ready and egalitarian cuddler, over the opportunity to nuzzle her darling Sven Feingold.  "Mein Prof," she whispered, "I don't want to brush my teeth or fight the laces forsaken by God on that damned red satin bustier... Please find some Maze Emergency that Sven and only Sven might tend to?  A bevy of frigid beavers to rescue, something!"

Sometimes Bianca confuses our fledgling marshlands with the centuries-old English Boxwood Maze, star attraction of bright summertime's ManorFest.  I spared Sven a pointless romp in the icy mess and gifted the Milanese Nightingale with an ordinary headache, instead.  He borrowed Dobby on his way back to the Domestic Quarters, claiming that his adult son, Cabana Boy, was a bit blue -- Dobby's purview. 

Since that left me and Fred with but one feline, and as Marmy Fluffy Butt is bent on practicing her hauteur, we decided to treat our own sobriety of spirit with poetry.

My Childhood Home I See Again
by Abraham Lincoln

My childhood home I see again, 
And sadden with the view; 
And still, as memory crowds my brain, 
There's pleasure in it too. 

O Memory! thou midway world 
'Twixt earth and paradise, 
Where things decayed and loved ones lost 
In dreamy shadows rise, 

And, freed from all that's earthly vile, 
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright, 
Like scenes in some enchanted isle 
All bathed in liquid light. 

As dusky mountains please the eye 
When twilight chases day; 
As bugle-notes that, passing by, 
In distance die away; 

As leaving some grand waterfall, 
We, lingering, list its roar-- 
So memory will hallow all 
We've known, but know no more. 

Near twenty years have passed away 
Since here I bid farewell 
To woods and fields, and scenes of play, 
And playmates loved so well. 

Where many were, but few remain 
Of old familiar things; 
But seeing them, to mind again 
The lost and absent brings. 

The friends I left that parting day, 
How changed, as time has sped! 
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray, 
And half of all are dead. 

I hear the loved survivors tell 
How nought from death could save, 
Till every sound appears a knell, 
And every spot a grave. 

I range the fields with pensive tread, 
And pace the hollow rooms, 
And feel (companion of the dead) 
I'm living in the tombs.

from blog January Magazine

The Privilege of Abuse

The television is fuzzy and my hearing is off.  I thought the NBC announcer called two women lugers "losers," and was getting ready to write the proverbial letter. Then it occurred to me that the women seemed to be taking the insult pretty well, and that I hadn't eaten in a good while, and the room was spinning, as well -- perhaps an example in surfeit.  Sharp as a tack, the phonic similarity of luge and lose eventually asserted itself, as well as my recollection that Lester Holt is an excellent commentator and, to my honed intuition, a good man.  The overweight Italian diva draped over the foot of my hospital bed loves him, but not to the degree that she adores Tom Brokaw (get well, Tom!), over whom she desires to one day exert her seductive powers.  Luckily, Bianca Castafiore has never had occasion to share space with the dignified Brokaw.

It'd be really cool were that a segue.

However, had the NBC announcer called the winter sportswomen "crazy nut-jobs who must have emerged from really twisted childhoods," I'd not even have blinked.

No, wait. Maybe that's how I feel about the skeleton sliders.  In case you've forgotten:

Skeleton is a fast winter sliding sport in which an individual person rides a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down, during which athletes experience forces up to 5 g.

Unfortunately, my mental plasticity slid over to my email, reading some, tossing most. The plastics in my skull never seem to completely gel with the desired mold, never seem to attain that waxy smoothness that so aids really smart and able people. In part to protect my defective neuroplasticity,  I usually avoid WSJ columnists, not "like the plague," but as "not my preferred source of editorial information."  However ThinkProgress headed one of their magazine-like "come hither, dah-link" ads for today's content with this:

Wall Street Journal Columnist: Rape Victims Are Just As Guilty As Rapists 
If They’re Both Drunk

The headline spoke to me, having been drunk on some of the finest campuses in the world, academically-speaking, including one famed for its motto "Work hard, play hard," and because I owe the loss of a good half-cup of brain cells for my work to bring the "top party school in the USA" accolade to one of my undergraduate institutions.  (I did a great deal of endeavoring, undergraduately.)  I was not raped at any of the eight universities I attended, although I would say, of three sexual encounters, that there hasn't been a label invented to do them justice.

But it is of the North Carolina Gothic Wonderland that i think, automatically, after reading James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" opinion piece, entitled "Drunkenness and Double Standards: A balanced look at college sex offenses."

It almost makes you itch, doesn't it, that title?  Makes you think of Title IX, almost!  Fair is Fair!  This must be yet another meditation on the "Equal Opportunity in Education Act"!  But it would be shallow to judge a work by its title, as it may have been chosen all willy-nilly by some ersatz editor, and besides, that is how Taranto chose to début his own thought piece -- by vigorously shaking his editorial tail, much like Buddy my Maine Coon, when riled, in an attempt to mark it with odd conservative pheromones. 

It's an old odd tail, er, tale.  It begins with false accusations of rape (all instances he discusses treat rape of women by men).  We all detest unjust accusations, particularly of the sort that taint the accused no matter an ultimate determination of innocence, or lack of legal guilt.  

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics annually publishes a report on Criminal Victimization, the latest being from October 2013.  This paper, covering 2012, estimates that only 28.8% of rapes are reported.  Remember that when you hear bandied about the FBI assertion that 8% of reported rapes are false accusations or "unfounded" reports.  Take a moment to contemplate -- I mean, really get down and zen with it, mindfully -- the FBI definition of what constitutes an "unfounded" rape accusation: "if the victim did not fight back, if the attacker did not use a weapon, if the victim did not sustain injuries, or if the victim had a prior relationship with their attacker."

The mathematical adjustment brings the 8% level of "unfounded" rape within the norm of all falsely recorded violent crime, to approximately 2% -- for rape, 2.2%.

In a very FOX-y News echo, Taranto wants to bring a "balanced approach" to college sexual assaults, by making alcohol consumption some sort of levelizing force, a strike for equality.  He compares a car crash (I'm imagining his neuroplasticity invites further interpretation of this roadway danger as a fender-bender) to drunken college co-eds having sex, which will, of course, end with the woman falsely charging the man with rape. Elementary!

Taranto writes:
If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex. But when two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.
I hate it when I run into a penis, don't you?

Unfortunately, Taranto writes from a mindset that seems steeped in an insurance lexicon, in some sort of automoblile accident outline drawing, with arrows and dotted lines, much as might be used to determine a sub-$5,000 monetary verdict of culpability by the ever astute Judge Judy.

He jumps too quickly, as well, to another paradigm -- from a reported, possible crime to the openly adversarial environment of the courtroom.  He refers to every accused man as a "defendant," which should make every woman, college-educated or not, guffaw.  Snort Diet Coke out her nose.  Gasp, even.

For a woman desirous of reporting rape, the road from report, rape kit, ridicule, mental and physical anguish, ruination of relationships... to an identifiable male being labelled by the judicial system as a "defendant"?  That road is arduous, long, and full of surprises, such as exposure of her sexual history, her habits of dress, her use of drink and drug, and the discovery of the stereotypes of ethnicity, lifestyle choices, and socioeconomic status.

Aw, leave Taranto with his banging cars, and yes, with the real cases of false accusations among college crowds, where binge drinking is truly a dangerous epidemic that compromises good decision-making.

I have personal knowledge of college women who practically "begged for it" when the college man in question was from a famous, infamous, or rich family.  Toss in an abject Greek system, and digging the good earth for the original kernels of truth becomes a muddy mess.  I have personal knowledge that money was often that honest germ, and, just as often, money was the muddy mess solution.  Society weddings have been based on less.

Colleges and universities are evolving, some ahead of the curve, some behind, keeping the Bell Curve theory alive, if gasping.  There are more advocates, more guidance counselors trained in sexual trauma, and there are vastly improved campus police agencies, better able to work with local law enforcement. One major obstacle still to be successfully managed in the insular campus world is the role of college athletics, and how collegiate athletes survive on amplified reputations, and sometimes steroids, and occasionally via well-placed good-old-boy pedophiles... and how that contributes to sexual coercion.

But I want to leave you with something that should shock whatever side of this "the booze made me do it" argument you support -- if it is even an argument, and not just another way to render complicated one of the least complicated of crimes.

Basic forensic evidence gathered from the body and clothing of the person claiming rape is called a "rape kit." It's important.  It takes hours to complete, feels invasive and degrading to someone who may have just undergone a violent and humiliating attack.

It's important.  And the backlog in processing these kits, combined with their incorrect storage, and their mysterious propensity for being "lost," leave me sputtering.  So I'll close, because it's my night to cook dinner, with this excerpt from The Joyful Heart Foundation, itself originally part of an article by Sarah Tofte for the Shreveport Times in Louisiana, published November 6, 2013:

Every year, thousands of individuals take the courageous step of reporting their rape to the police. They overcome the social stigma of being the victim of sexual violence, the warnings sometimes uttered by the rapist to keep silent, the suggestions that these issues ought not to be spoken of; and they speak up. During a forensic exam of their bodies which can take between four and six hours evidence is collected in a “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit” — a rape kit.

Experts estimate there are hundreds of thousands of rape kits sitting untested throughout the country. Over the past several years, this rape kit backlog has become a fixture in the national media, with reports of untested rape kits piling up in police and crime lab storage facilities across the nation.

Rape kit evidence is an invaluable investigative tool for a country that has struggled to respond adequately to sexual assault. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, affirm a survivor’s account of the attack, connect a suspect to other unsolved crimes and exonerate innocent suspects. And yet, hundreds of thousands of times, a decision is made not to process the evidence. Even when a member of law enforcement does send a kit for testing, it can sit unprocessed for months and, in some cases, years. Each untested kit represents a missed chance for justice for survivors and accountability for offenders.

Of all violent crimes in the country, rape has the lowest reporting, arrest and prosecution rates. According to FBI crime data, rape has a 24 percent arrest rate — the lowest in nearly 40 years of tracking such information. This means that a survivor of rape has a one-in-five chance of seeing the perpetrator brought to justice. It also means that a rapist is likely to get away with the crime and, in many cases, to rape again.

We have seen the difference that testing every rape kit makes. New York City cleared its backlog of 17,000 kits and now tests every kit booked into police evidence. Proof of the value of testing every kit: the city’s arrest rate for rape has jumped from 40 percent to 70 percent.

Detroit is another city that now faces the massive task of clearing its backlog — more than 11,000 untested kits. After a National Institute of Justice grant allowed the first 850 kits to be tested, 46 potential serial rapists were identified. From those first kits, prosecutors have already secured two convictions, and traced assailants to crimes in 12 additional states and the District of Columbia.  [READ ALL OF MS. TOFTE'S ARTICLE HERE.]

© 2013 L. Ryan