The brother of Thomas Kinkade claims that the painter of angelic scenes battled demons. The 54-years-old's death last week allegedly followed a relapse, after a long struggle with alcoholism. Known as "the painter of light," Kinkade's bucolic nature scenes and quaint pastorals adorn dentists' offices, coffee mugs and calendars across the country. But the serenity of his paintings seems to reflect a reality far from his tormented personal life. Despite fetching up to $100 million a year in sales, Kinkade's syrupy works were openly despised by the art world. And he suffered under the contempt of his critics, says his brother Patrick Kinkade, a professor at Texas Christian University. "As much as he said it didn't bother him, in his heart deep down inside it would sadden him that people would criticize so hatefully his work and his vision." Patrick says his brother battled alcoholism over the past half-decade—in 2006, the LA Times reported that he drunkenly assaulted a woman at a book-signing, and urinated on a statue of Winnie the Pooh at a Disney Hotel. Kinkade had supposedly been sober for some time but is said to have relapsed shortly before he died at his home in Montesereno California last Friday. "Apparently he's been drinking all night and not moving," a dispatcher is heard saying on a recording from the day of his death. Kinkade's girlfriend, Amy Pinto, offers a contrasting account, claiming he "died in his sleep, very happy, in the house he built, with the paintings he loved, and the woman he loved.”
A video mockumentary that features children as kidnappers, corrupt cops and drug traffickers is stirred a raging drug war-related controversy in Mexico. Titled "Ninos Incomidos," or "Discomforting Kids," the four-minute film shows boys firing machine guns from huge SUV's and a kiddie-version of alleged drug lord Edgar Valdez being dragged off to an overcrowded jail by kiddie cops. It was funded by private companies and universities with the aim of sending a strong political message to the candidates in Mexico's July 1 presidential election: a little girl facing the camera declares: "If this is the future that awaits me, I don't want it. Enough of working for your political parties instead of for us. Enough of cosmetic changes." The video has won support on both sides of the political spectrum, including leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative National Action Party candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota (from the same party as current president Felipe Calderon). But not everyone is happy. Congressman Miguel Angel Garcia Granados objects to the video's use of children and called on Calderon to ban it, while TV critic and newspaper columnist Alvaro Cueva brands the video manipulative, and a "very clear violation of the (electoral) law."
Manipulating addicts' memories may be a way to treat drug addiction with out pharmaceuticals, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The research—built on an earlier study from New York University—focused on a simple behavioral procedure that reduced the cravings of heroin addicts and may even prevent relapse. "We used a very simple classical conditioning paradigm in which a blue square was paired with a mild electric shock to the wrist," said lead researcher Liz Phelps. The participants then associated the blue square with the shocks, which would lead to a fearful response when looking at the square. After the classic conditioning sessions, the participants were then shown the square with out receiving any shocks, this is called extinction procedures. "We did the extinction training during reconsolidation, and what seems to have happened is that we somehow updated the old fear memory," says Phelps. "In those particular subjects we didn't see any evidence of the fear memory returning. We brought the subjects back a year later and showed that the fear did not come back in the group that got extinction during reconsolidation." The results of the study show that the memory retrieval-extinction procedure could be a non-pharmacological method for tackling drug addiction and preventing relapse, which helped the development of a new procedure in development that, like extinguishing the blue square's fear response, will eliminate the association of paraphernalia and its usage with a high.
- Marijuana Laws: Up in Smoke [The Economist]
- Memory "Trick" Relieves Drug Cravings [Nature]
- Stanton Peele: Is Almost Alcoholic a Useful Concept? [Huffington Post]
- Are Cigarillos Any Better Than Cigarettes For Jack White? [Washington Post]
- Walmart Janitor Discovers Meth Lab in Women's Restroom [Opposing Views]
- Woman Naked In Airport Was 'Smoking Mad' (Video) [Examiner]
- Charlie Sheen's Post-Rehab Distress Soothed by Bavaria Lemon [Fast Company]
"A bridge back to life" is a metaphor often applied to Alcoholics Anonymous. But perhaps no one could find more truth in this phrase than a suicide addict. "Suicide Anonymous" is a 12-step group for people who are hard-wired to crave death, in the same way that an alcoholic or drug addict is hard-wired to drink or use. Modeled on AA, the group emphasizes personal responsibility, mutual support and belief in a "higher power" to help members recover from an addiction to self-destruction. The SA community is small; there are currently just five regular meetings in the US, in Philadelphia and Memphis—where the program was founded in 1996. SA founder Kenneth Tullis, 68, attempted suicide seven times. He credits extensive 12-step work and therapy for his own recovery. A psychiatrist and addiction specialist, Tullis explains that suicide addicts are "hooked" on the high they get from contemplating suicide, just as alcoholics are addicted to the relief they get from drinking. "If the '12 Steps' work for everything else," Tullis says, "why not for preventing suicide?"
Phil, a member of Philly's Westhampton group, thanks SA for saving his life. "I wanted to rid the world of me," he says of the time when he slit his wrists and swallowed a mouthful of pills. "I would never have attempted it if I'd had SA." Janet, a 54-yr-old artist and mime, thinks the groups provide a vital place for sufferers like her to open up about a widely-stigmatized subject. "People don't want to talk about suicide," she says. But in SA meetings, "We have no secrets." Perhaps the most stirring tribute comes from Eric, a 52-year-old man who has a terminal illness. The program "helps me keep going," he says. "Even on my deathbed, I want to live."
To add insult to literal injury, a pair of British sailors who woke up from their blackouts with mysterious injuries were asked to testify against their aggressors—a pair of 13-year-old girls. The drunken shipmen were beaten in the street by the teens—who were also inebriated—at one in the morning after an argument. Neither sailor remembers what happened on account of alcohol's memory-erasing qualities, but their injuries were serious enough to stand as evidence: one man reported tenderness on the back of his head and a grazed knee after being slammed into a shop window, while the other bears scratches and a swollen face. CCTV footage of the night's events depicts a scrimmage so vicious that one of the teens was “appalled” when she was made to watch her own violent actions. One girl pleaded guilty to two charges of assault, and the other received a reprimand from the judge. Despite one of the teens having a previous violent offense on her record, defense lawyers argued that they were not completely at fault since the sailors had cussed at them: “There was some provocation from these two much larger men.”