Country music and suicide

Just came across this on my twitter feed this morning:

This article assesses the link between country music and metropolitan suicide rates. Country music is hypothesized to nurture a suicidal mood through its concerns with problems common in the suicidal population, such as marital discord, alcohol abuse, and alienation from work. The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate. The effect is independent of divorce, southernness, poverty and gun availability. The existence of a country music subculture is thought to reinforce the link between country music and suicide. Our model explains 51% of the variance in urban white suicide rates.

Hmm. “Country Music.” How can you generalize about a genre that encompasses  both bluesy, soulful, melancholy Merle Haggard AND upbeat country heartthrob Kenny Chesney?

I would like to suggest a further experiment.  Expose one group of lab rats to nonstop booze and heartbreak tunes.  Williams, Jones, Haggard, Cash. The other group gets to listen to nothing but the  life-affirming paeans to domestic fidelity and small-town life that dominate contemporary country.

See which rats try to claw their way out of their cages first….


Pentagon’s presentation of budget only off by half a trillion bucks (give or take a hundred billion)

This much?

There has been a lot of hand-wringing of late about budget cuts undermining America’s Defense capabilities. Google the term “budget cuts undermine military” and you’ll come up with 2,970,000 results. That is a LOT of hand-wringing.

Is it possible that the situation isn’t nearly as dire as we have been led to believe? That the military-industrial complex that towers over the rest of the world’s combined military might might just be able to squeeze by?

Hell, yes, it’s possible. But even if you’re highly skeptical of Pentagon pronouncements, you might be staggered to learn just how off-base the House of War’s numbers are. Winslow Wheeler, who has been doing this for more than three decades, does what no one in the papers of record could be bothered to do: see if the Pentagon’s numbers add up.

And .. are you ready? They. Don’t.

His conclusion is a pretty good question.

After all the chatter, some of it still quite hysterical, about “defense cuts,” I find no cut; I find “defense spending” (defined generically) going up by $8.2 billion, from $986.1 billion to $994.3 billion.

Given the rhetoric we hear out of Washington about “devastating” cuts that fail “to adequately address threats” you have to wonder how much more than $1 trillion do these people want to spend?

Read the whole article….

A footnote: It’s slightly a case of apples and oranges, but for some time the War Resisters’ League has been pointing out the vast disparity between what the Government says and what it does in its “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” pie chart.

“The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the equator”

Channeling Larry King’s old USA Today “News and Views” column. The title of this piece is just one of many flashes of random brilliance from Norm Macdonald’s priceless SNL spot…..

1. Madonna never made an album as good as “Femme Fatale” or a song as perfect as “How I Roll.”

2. I haven’t met a bourbon I don’t like. I’m a W.L. Weller Special Reserve man, but am currently on a detour through Very Old Barton and Old Grandad land.

3. Nothing tastes as good as fried polenta right out of the oil, tongue-burning hot.

4. Making up ways in which Iran threatens us is such an easy game to play.

5. Did they do a poll and find voters want More War, Austerity, Surveillance, and Prisons? No? Tell the Republicans! Tell the Democrats! There must be some mistake.

6. I just love to watch cows walk.

7. Aaaannnddd … this is one special chicken.