Restaurants Must Serve Mentally Ill Diners

Diner abandoned

If you’re anything like me, and I hope for your sake and the sake of your children that you are not, you’ve wrestled with your mental illness secure in the certainty that society cared about you only to the extent that it fervently wished you would excuse yourself from the room and be scarce in the way voles are scarce; that is to say, demonstrate your respect for “nice” people by remaining invisible to them.

Frankly, there is something soothing about looking at the ladder which leads up and up to society’s golden promises only to realize that the first few rungs of yours have been sawed in half and you won’t even have a chance to fall off, much less climb. Soothing because, in life, it is comforting to know where one stands, or, as is the case here, doesn’t stand.

If you aren’t shocked and surprised by every disrespectful snub and injustice, you cannot be disappointed and consequently, will harbor no resentment. (To put it differently, it is the illusion of a just world that causes heartache, not the sting of an unjust one.)

Having said all this, I will admit to slight pangs of bitter jealousy as I watched the PC-Police catch up with one social inequity after another, leveling the scales by means of bare-knuckled intervention and, in some cases, even legislation. The foot in the door arrived when restaurants were divided into Smoking Sections and Non-Smoking Sections.

Suddenly, non-smokers, who up to that point had languished in a social lagoon reserved for the insufferably sanctimonious and self-righteous, were accepted and treated, albeit begrudgingly, like regular members of society.

Curb cuts, aisles wide enough for Buicks, much less wheelchairs, and ATM keypads in Braille followed soon thereafter until it seemed like everyone, everyone, had been accommodated – everyone but us, that is.

That is why I am so happy to report that, starting in September of this year, all restaurants will be required by law to provide designated areas reserved exclusively for the mentally ill. There will be booster chairs for anyone suffering from low self-esteem and, instead of asking if a dish was satisfactory, wait-staff will always inquire, “How did that make you feel?” Other compensatory features will be discussed as details become available.

About The Author

Lord Byron - Original

About the Author

Alistair McHarg spent his early years in Edinburgh and Amsterdam, moving to Philadelphia with his father, Ian, and mother, Pauline, at age six. He attended Germantown Friends School, Haverford College, and the University of Louisville.

The prestige of an M.A. in Creative Writing enabled McHarg to secure employment with one of Philadelphia’s least reputable taxi cab companies, where he pulled 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week, for a year.

Other forays into dead-end employment have included deckhand on a Norwegian tramp freighter, BLM forest fire fighter in Alaska, cross-country truck driver in Colorado, and guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp.

Alistair has been arranging words for a living since 1983. He is the author of a bipolar memoir entitled Invisible Driving, and two satiric novels, Moonlit Tours and Washed Up. His poetry has been regularly featured in Exquisite Corpse and other literary journals.

In addition to a vast catalog of original cartoons, Alistair is also the creator of Taz Mopula, whose enigmatic epigrams have become an Internet staple.

All three of Alistair’s books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and ebook.  To Purchase Books Click Sign

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The Internet Thought Leader Quote Quiz

No Dying Man Ever Wished He Had Invested More Time

Internet Thought Leader Quote Quiz

The intrepid Internet surfer eventually discovers that – packed in between wise cracking cats and vapid affirmations – some highly intelligent social commentary awaits. But how familiar are you with the Internet’s most influential thought leaders? Below are 20 carefully selected nuggets, with multiple possible authors. Can you source them accurately?

1. “With all the expertise being volunteered on the Internet, ignorance is rapidly becoming a priceless commodity.”

a.) Mark Zuckerberg
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Larry Page
d.) Jack Dorsey

2. “I avoid all political discussions because the doctor told me to reduce my daily intake of anger and stupidity.”

a.) Karl Rove
b.) Michele Bachmann
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Glenn Beck

3. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me every day and you’re ready to run for office.”

a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Sarah Palin
c.) Reverend Al Sharpton
d.) Jeffrey Dahmer

4. “New app enables users to bravely condemn global injustice and insult authority figures without budging from comfy recliner!”

a.) Anonymous
b.) Abbie Hoffman
c.) Nelson Mandela
d.) Taz Mopula

5. “There are no guarantees in life, not even death and taxes, especially if you’re a corporation.”

a.) Paul Volcker
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Alan Greenspan
d.) John Wayne Gacy

6. “American liberals, celebrated for their tolerance, stalwartly defend the right of wretched refuse to agree with them.”

a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Noam Chomsky
c.) Maya Angelou
d.) Idi Amin Dada

7. “Democracy guarantees the right to choose the wrong person.”

a.) Ronald Reagan
b.) Vlad the Impaler
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) George W. Bush

8. “Political Correctness: An experiment in social engineering which holds that renaming dung mousse au chocolat makes it edible.”

a.) Oprah Winfrey
b.) Ellen DeGeneres
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) David Berkowitz

9. “The problem with Democracy is that it allows absolutely everybody to participate; fortunately they don’t.”

a.) Will Rogers
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) H. L. Mencken
d.) Mark Twain

10. “Often it is through the process of explaining a concept to others that we come to fully appreciate the depth of our ignorance.”

a.) Rush Limbaugh
b.) Ann Coulter
c.) Pol Pot
d.) Taz Mopula

11. “Learning how to ask for help is essential; but beware of zealots, all zealots, they will help you to death.”

a.) Moammar Khadafi
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Rumi
d.) Yanni

12. “Think about it. If I knew of a way to make loads of money without working hard, would I share it with you?”

a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Tony Robbins
c.) Wayne Dwyer
d.) Pema Chödrön

13. “Those who would do the right thing because it is, conveniently, also the expedient thing, are already morally bankrupt.”

a.) Jesse Jackson
b.) Janet Jackson
c.) Andrew Jackson
d.) Taz Mopula

14. “There is only one truly effective way to defend yourself against terrorists; stop creating them.”

a.) Dick Cheney
b.) Robert McNamara
c.) Barbra Streisand
d.) Taz Mopula

15. “War is extremely useful for those eager to disprove evolution.”

a.) Charles Darwin
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Gregor Mendel
d.) Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

16. “Having a poo-flinging monkey on your back may be tiresome, but it’s far worse for your adversaries.”

a.) Duane Chapman
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Dian Fossey
d.) Steve Irwin

17. “History repeats itself with tedious insistence; mankind seems determined to perfect its imperfections.”

a.) Nostradamus
b.) John Edward
c.) Christopher Hitchens
d.) Taz Mopula

18. “If your efforts have assuaged the suffering of just one road-weary, hopeless soul; you probably aren’t trying very hard.”

a.) Dalai Lama
b.) Charles Manson
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Arsenio Hall

19. “WWIII is over; don’t you remember? It was US against US; and we lost.”

a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Ludacris
c.) Gil Scott Heron
d.) Fatty Fat Boy

20. “Should you meet someone who claims that visualizing a thing makes it so; tell them to visualize being flattened by a bus.”

a.) Wayne Dyer
b.) Joseph Campbell
c.) Glen Campbell
d.) Taz Mopula

Answers will be posted in tomorrow’s blog.

How Managed Care Is Changing Mental Health

Gin Lane Hogarth

Those with an interest in the history of American medicine will recall how the delivery infrastructure has evolved through the years, from careless care to poorly managed care to mismanaged care to the paradigm currently in vogue, managed care.

Seems simple enough, and yet, there are as many definitions for managed care as there are for quincunx, so let’s cut through the clutter and have a look at what it actually means, especially in a mental illness/mental health context.

Historically, care could only be denied on a case-by-case basis, which was very time consuming for care providers. Insurance companies struggled with tremendous overhead because it was necessary for them to maintain large departments staffed by professionals skilled at denying claims one at a time.

Then, in the 1980’s, computer technology changed all that when the first integrated health networks were formed. These sophisticated health delivery systems linked hospitals, physician practices, labs, rehab facilities and other participants with insurance providers creating a vertically integrated continuum of care! For the first time, all members of the healthcare delivery infrastructure were able to communicate on-line real-time, sharing vital patient information and updating the data pool on an ongoing basis.

Suddenly the healthcare denial process was brought into the digital age, and with it, a whole new level of care inaccessibility. For the first time in many years, health insurance companies were able to offer a truly inspiring panoply of mental health care options since they could be certain there was no chance they would be delivering them.

Muckrakers, malcontents, and professional whiners complained about this, calling managed care a “devious, disingenuous, deleterious, dastardly dupe designed to fatten the pockets of capitalist bloodsuckers by draining the life from unsuspecting hod carriers.” Managed Care industry spokesman Reginald Entwhistle responded thusly.

“The human body is an astonishing mechanism. Chief among its virtues is the ability to heal itself. Indeed, as that government which governs least governs best, so that healthcare delivery system that heals least heals best. Now, specifically how does this work? Let’s start with a real life example.

“You are overcome with an attack of Munchausen By Proxy. Panic stricken you hop a cab to Holy Guacamole Hospital where you are denied admission because, thanks to access to your Online Medical Record, it is revealed that your plan, Criss-Cross of America, only covers regular Munchausen’s – without Proxy.

“They refer you to Whassamatta U., (a teaching hospital), which sometimes takes on psychiatric cases pro bono as long as patients don’t mind participating in studies.

“On the long cab ride across town you have plenty of time for your body’s natural healing process to take place and you arrive at Whassamatta U fit as a fiddle, sound as a dollar, strong as an ox, and healthy as a horse. With luck, your insurance company picks up 85% of the cab ride, after you have met your deductible.

“Elegant in its simplicity and made possible by the magic of computers!”

Our Preeminent Mental Illness Humor Blogger

Alistair Sheriff Cropped

When you get to be my age you start asking yourself questions like, “What time is it?” and “What am I doing in Tijuana?” and “What is Martinizing and why does it only take one hour?”

If you are about to celebrate a birthday, (if celebrate is the right word), you may be tempted to gaze across the seemingly endless succession of impulsive decisions, high-speed car chases down cul-de-sacs, and manic spending sprees littering the ravages of what you generously describe as “your life” and wonder how you managed to squander the cornucopia of opportunities strewn at your feet as a child. Or not. With a birthday looming large there is no time for such whackadoomiousness because I stand before you now, (imagine I’m standing), a man who has reached the pinnacle of his profession, the Everest he set out to conquer decades ago. That’s right, I am the Preeminent Mental Illness Humor Blogger in The United States! Do not imagine that I reached the pinnacle of my profession through some quirk of fate, some whim of circumstance, some chance twist of unpredictability, some like it hot, oh no, anything but. My ascent to this lofty height came about through the execution of a carefully constructed plan well in place before I received my first pair of full-length trousers. Without any further adon’t, here it is: First I learned to write. Then I developed a sense of humor. I did this by carefully studying the creative output of Garrison Keillor, Sacha Baron Cohen, Andrew Dice Clay and Gallagher to make absolutely certain my work never resembled theirs. Then came the exciting part – choosing my mental illness. The selection was vast, almost dizzying. I wanted an illness I could take with me on trips, couldn’t be bothered with a lot of heavy equipment. Affordability was also a factor; some mental illnesses are prohibitively expensive! I was also looking for a mental illness with a little style, flare, panache, je ne sais quoi – whatever that is. At last I settled on bipolar disorder, which came with a very impressive pedigree including many of my favorite writers, painters, and composers. The rest, as we say, is show business history. So remember, most people don’t plan to fail, they plan to plan, and fail to do so long before they ever get around to it.

5 Ways Internet Use Causes Mental Illness

crazy drawing icon

The Internet is a repository for mental illnesses of every description, but did you know that the Internet is also one of the leading causes of mental illness? That’s the conclusion of researchers at The Institute for Advanced Study of Studied Institutionalization (IASSI).

At a recent press briefing, IASSI spokesman Reginald Frampton elaborated.

“Mentally Ill People, referred to as MIPs in our document, are particularly susceptible to the sustained level of psychosis that characterizes Internet traffic.

“MIPs are already having difficulty sorting out what’s real from what’s not, and extended immersion in the stew of dementia found in Facebook and other so called ‘social networking’ sites – which we at the institute call ‘nutworking’ sites – exacerbates an already worrisome situation.

“Unlike most think tank studies, which are roughly as deep as a Frisbee or the typical TED Talk, we have provided 5 action steps which, if aggressively implemented, will make the Internet safer for MIPs, and a whole lot less tiresome and irritating for non-MIPs. Here they are.

No more photographs of bacon. Everybody likes bacon; bacon does not need advocacy. The obsession with bacon is wreaking havoc among MIPs with eating disorders.

The word ‘awesome’ must be eliminated, that’s right, eliminated, except in cases where others are being told that the word ‘awesome’ must be eliminated, such as this one.

Clowns and mimes are universally loathed and feared, but nothing arouses existential dread quite like a talking baby. MIPs are okay with the occasional magician or ventriloquist; but the world of big pharma simply isn’t big enough to handle what happens when a MIP sees an infant cracking wise in a Brooklyn accent better suited to a 45-year old, beer swilling stevedore.

Magical thinking – ‘Click Here to End World Hunger’ – posts. These posts, which collect signatures for morally attractive liberal causes in hopes of influencing the powers that be so as to ultimately alter social policy for the better, thereby making the world a cheerier place inhabited by unicorns crooning Frank Sinatra tunes – never work. We know this, but MIPs do not. They click ‘Like’ for hours and, when nothing happens, become ever more despondent.

GIFs of people shooting themselves in the foot, walking into moving cars, or exploding. MIPs are no more appalled by lowbrow violence than the average citizen, however, the problem is that these twisted mini-movies repeat endlessly, thereby locking MIP viewers into a kind of video prison. Many a MIP suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) has been rendered catatonic by the incessant, repetitive cruelty that only GIFs deliver.”

At that point, Mr. Frampton reached for his smart phone and concluded the conference.

Scientists Believe Neanderthals First To Be Depressed

Neanderthal

We have known for some time about genetic predisposition to various forms of mental illness, snarkinuss eruptus and clinical depression to name only two. But if an illness is to be passed down from one generation to the next, it must have a point of origin. Now, researchers at the Department of Anthropological Psychology at the University of Basingstoke-on-Trent think they have discovered the answer.

Professor Chumley Meriwether Throckmorton announced that a recently completed in-depth study demonstrates conclusively that Neanderthals were the first humans to experience what is now referred to as clinical depression.

Professor Throckmorton elaborated at a recent press conference. “Neanderthals looked upon the world very differently than modern man. For them the world was vast and unknowable, an endless expanse of hostility and weirdness. Animals, inclement weather, and a noticeable lack of indoor plumbing loomed malevolently, providing an ongoing cavalcade of hazards.

“Unlike today’s human, who feels bolstered by an unwarranted illusion of mastery over the elements, supported as he is by a cornucopia of technological gizmos resting like arrows in his quiver, which, he trusts, with endearing naiveté, are at the ready to defend him from whatever the universe may fling in his path; the poor Neanderthal had little, if anything, at his disposal. Animal pelts for clothing, sticks and stones for defense, and for comfort, well, only the sweet oblivion granted to the truly clueless.

“But if the Neanderthal knew of no other reality couldn’t we assume he was happy in his lot, no matter how modest his circumstances? Yes we could, but we would be wrong. While certainly this state of blissful ignorance characterized the earliest part of Neanderthal man’s suzerainty of the earth, knowledge, like the proverbial garden apple, crept into his consciousness on velvet slippers, had velvet existed at the time, which it did not.

“It became obvious to Neanderthal man from gazing at his reflection in ponds and other glossy surfaces that he was, bluntly, unattractive. Thusly did low self-esteem enter our collective unconscious, setting the stage for poor self-image in millennia to come.

The prospect of a rapidly approaching Ice Age, if an Ice Age can be said to approach rapidly, played negatively on Neanderthal man’s view of the world and contributed to his feeling that it was inhospitable and beyond defeat. Worst of all perhaps were the occasional skirmishes with homo sapiens who, combining cunning, cruelty, and superior tool-making skills, crushed Neanderthals with relentless consistency.

“This overriding anticipation of inevitable doom settled into a dense crust of depression, gradually overtaking Neanderthals.

“Once depression had burrowed into the marrow and encoded in Neanderthal DNA, the die was cast. Next came dating, or intermingling, if you prefer, with homo sapiens, which transmitted the DNA through generations all the way to you, me, and the rest of humanity.”

Passive/Aggressive Olympics

You Will Never Never Make Me Happy

Passive/Aggressive Behavior ( PAB ) plays an integral role in various kinds of mental illness. Historically referred to as Obnoxious Behavior ( OB ) or just plain Irritating Behavior ( IB ), Passive/Aggressive Behavior has been identified as both symptom and cause of a dizzying assortment of psychological maladies including, but not limited to, paranoia, paranormia, pareschewed, and Chumley Standpipe Syndrome ( CSS ).

Early psychiatrists, realizing PAB to be a very sneaky and elusive foe, adapted an innovative approach to treatment. They reasoned that, rather than causing patients to feel guilt about passive aggressive behavior, long-term recovery goals would be much better served by luring PAB out of its lair with promises of rewards, praise, and lucrative commercial endorsements. Far easier to treat a condition after it’s ventured into the open, they reasoned.

Dr. Zick Meind Phrawed stunned Zurich’s psychiatric community with the publication of his breakthrough paper, “So What If You Don’t Like My Paper? I Don’t Even Care!” In it, he argued passionately for a venue where passive/aggressive individuals (PAI) could proudly showcase their skills in a competitive context.

Dr. Phrawed managed to have his idea reviewed, and ultimately approved, by The International Council Of Psychologically Based Sporting Events (TICOPBSE). The first officially sanctioned games, held in Zurich, either were or weren’t a great success depending upon whom you ask and when you ask them.

Popular Events At The Passive/Aggressive Olympics

1. The exasperated sigh.

Extra points awarded when combined with eye roll and impatient foot tap. (World-class practitioners of this subtle skill have been known to train in high altitudes to build up lung power in oxygen-deprived environments.)

2. Conversation Hijack

Points are awarded for speed, abruptness, and implausibility of transitions. Once the conversation has been successfully hijacked, additional points are awarded for duration of control.

3. Pin The Blame On The Flunky

Blame may be shifted to an opponent, teammate, or referee. Points are awarded for shamelessness, smarm, and chutzpah.

4. Excuse Me!

The goal of this event is to provide excuses for failures that make the opponent appear to be responsible for the competitor’s fault. Extra points are scored if the opponent himself is actually convinced.

5. Going My Way?

This event seeks to discover just far out of the way an opponent can be gradually nudged into going. Extra points awarded if the opponent is manipulated so far out of his comfort zone he cannot find his way home.

Don’t miss a minute of this year’s Passive/Aggressive Olympics! Or do.

Wing Nut or Phony?

Mannequin Chair Sidewalk

In a culture as deeply superficial as ours it is often difficult to tell the authentic from the false.

It is easy to sympathize with the phonies, poseurs, affected wannabe’s and disingenuous empty vessels passing off pilfered ideas as original, skating past any serious analysis or criticism by others as an ant might slide across a non-stick sauce pan slathered with extra virgin olive oil.

Their dilemma is not unfamiliar. How does one stand out in an atmosphere of mass homogenization where, thanks to the constant recycling of mediocre ideas discarded by others, we are reduced to virtual clones, unable to generate anything original or even recognize originality in others?

With apps ever ready to do the work and thinking for us, today’s Johnny & Jane Lunchbucket simply don’t have the energy or ability to develop attributes sufficient to earn the name “personality”. So what’s a faker to do?

Simple – steal one! This is not as odd as it sounds, indeed, throughout history residents of society’s inner circle – where tedium is sought out and bland banality honored as a virtue – have looked beyond the castle walls for character, creativity, flair, vision and style. Shamelessly pillaging the campsites of society’s least loved minority groups they returned home with loot enough to pretend they were interesting.

And thus, gentle reader, do we arrive at the crux of this tale. You see, crazy is the new cool – and so – these days there are a lot of creeps passing themselves off as wing nuts when in fact they’re square bears in chicken outfits. This leaves the average citizen with the challenge of separating the honest to goodness wing nuts from the phonies.

Keep an ear out for these phrases; they will help you differentiate.

“I’m crazy, man, I’m dangerous, man. I could snap just like that.” Phony

“I am perfectly sane, no need to worry about me!” The Real Thing

“When I walk down the street, children run and hide.” Phony

“I stepped onto a Moebius strip to get to the same side.” The Real Thing

“My thoughts are too advanced for society.” Phony

“Wearing my underwear outside my clothes makes laundry day easier.” The Real Thing

“I hear voices and they all sound like Oprah Winfrey.” Phony

“I hear voices arguing with each other and ignoring me altogether.” The Real Thing

“I drink to forget something I’ve forgotten because I’ve been drinking.” Phony

“The more you drink the more talented I become.” The Real Thing

Hope these help! Be on the lookout, poseurs are everywhere!