March 5th, 2014 is Ash Wednesday.
It’s the first day of Lent, a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Ash Wednesday is one of the only two remaining fast days. In the old days, all the weekdays (Monday through Saturday) of Lent, and all the Fridays of the year except major holidays, were fast days. Two days a year amount to a very easy observance by comparison. These are days on which we eat only one full meal, which must be meatless and penitential in character, and refrain from entertainments and frivolities. We can have up to two smaller meals, adding up to less than one full meal together, which must also be meatless and penitential. For this purpose, fish and eggs don’t count as meat.
People age 59 or older, or 17 or younger, or with health-related reasons to be exempted from fasting, don’t have to fast. People under 14 can eat meat, and there are also some health exemptions for meatlessness as well.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days to unite our suffering with Our Lord’s suffering, to examine our consciences and repent, to try to grow closer to Christ while reflecting on His sacrifice for us. On Ash Wednesday we should go to Mass and receive ashes, if we can.
All the Fridays of Lent are also meatless, and should be considered penitential days, not days to go to parties for example.
When I was 16, someone gave me an armload of Mardi Gras beads. “What’s Mardi Gras?” I asked. He said it was an early spring holiday celebrated in New Orleans, in which parade participants threw beads at the crowd. I didn’t know any more about it than that. But I loved the beads. They were hard clear colored plastic, in various shapes, with snap-tube fasteners, that could be chained together for yards or separated into chokers.
Today I know more.
Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, the day to eat up all the fat in the house, along with the meat, eggs and sweets, and finish off all the alcohol. Nowadays, it’s just time to eat all the meat and whatever else you’re giving up for Lent. but either way, the point is to prepare for Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow. It’s a time to go to confession, if possible, or to prepare to do so as soon as you can. The day is also called Fat Tuesday (of course), Pancake Tuesday (because people used up fat and eggs by making pancakes) and Shrove Tuesday (because they went to confession).
A custom is to make a King Cake, with purple, green, yellow and white icing, with a tiny baby doll hidden in it, representing Baby Jesus. The person who gets the piece with the infant is king for the day and provides the cake next time around. Sometimes the cake contains a pecan, fava bean or a little king with a crown.
The year I was in RCIA, my city put on a Mardi Gras event — on the first Friday of Lent. Wrong, wrong, wrong. So wrong in so many ways. Mardi Gras with no concept of Ash Wednesday is grotesque.
This is not a day to sin as much as you want (there is no time when it is ever appropriate to sin). This is a day to give thanks for the bounty of creation and to prepare our hearts for Lent, which in turn is a time to prepare our hearts for Easter.
Happy Shrove Tuesday.
Happy Pancake Tuesday.
Happy Fat Tuesday.
Happy Mardi Gras.
Brittney Cason, a sports journalist from North Carolina, said she responded to a job offer to cover the Winter Olympics, and was interviewed over a four-month period. Then the agency the “talent agent” claimed to represent said they had never heard of him.
The man Cason and another applicant had been speaking with had sent the other journalist a work visa without first looking at her work, and had said and done other things that made the two women suspicious. They inquired about him with the agency he had said he was from, which denied any awareness of the recruiter, and urged them to speak to lawyers. The FBI is investigating.
WCNC.com quotes Cason: “That’s what so scary,” she recalled, “the amount of effort he put into making this seem legit. I rearranged my whole life, my suitcase was packed. I had adapters, I bought new coats, everything.”
Cason believes that the man was a sex trafficking recruiter. The FBI cannot comment on the case.
Cason is working with All We Want Is LOVE to raise awareness of the danger of human trafficking.
Stimulants improve confidence, and interest in repetition. They don’t make people smarter.
Originally posted on Addiction & Recovery News:
Given the simultaneous explosion in ADHD diagnosis, prescribed use of stimulants and non-medical use of stimulants, maybe it’s time to look at the cost/benefit ratio. We’ll it’s clear that the benefits aren’t all that. What to make of it?
Researchers are beginning to address this paradox. How can medication that makes children sit still and pay attention not lead to better grades?
One possibility is that children develop tolerance to the drug. Dosage could also play a part: as children grow and put on weight, medication has to be adjusted to keep up, which does not always happen. And many children simply stop taking the drugs, especially in adolescence, when they may begin to feel that it affects their personalities. Children may also stop treatment because of side effects, which can include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and mood swings, as well as elevated heart rate.
Or it could be that stimulant medications mainly improve behaviour, not intellectual functioning. In the 1970s, two researchers, Russell Barkley and Charles Cunningham, noted that when children with ADHD took stimulants, parents and teachers rated their academic performance as vastly improved9. But objective measurements showed that the quality of their work hadn’t changed. What looked like achievement was actually manageability in the classroom. If medication made struggling children appear to be doing fine, they might be passed over for needed help, the authors suggested. Janet Currie, an economist at Princeton University in New Jersey, says that she might have been observing just such a phenomenon in the Quebec study that found lower achievement among medicated students1.
And it may simply be that drugs are not enough. Stimulant medications have two core effects: they help people to sustain mental effort, and they make boring, repetitive tasks seem more interesting. Those properties help with many school assignments, but not all of them. Children treated with stimulants would be able to complete a worksheet of simple maths problems faster and more accurately than usual, explains Nora Volkow. But where flexibility of thought is required — for example, if each problem on a worksheet demands a different kind of solution — stimulants do not help.
What about those non-medical users? Don’t they get a boost?
According to VOA News, an Italian bobsledder has been removed from the Olympics due to a stimulant, dimethylpentylamine, that allegedly turned up in a drug test. German officials say that a German contender tested positive for an over-the-counter stimulant as well, but they did not name the athlete. The drugs are considered performance-enhancing and thus are banned from the Olympic Games.
The article added that
The United States leads in the overall medal count with 25, followed by Russia with 24, Canada with 23, and Norway and the Netherlands with 22 apiece. In gold medals, Norway leads with 10, followed by Canada with nine and the United States with eight.