Archive for May, 2008

Now everybody knows that the only Republican I liked is Abraham Lincoln.  So what’s this?  Read on and you will see. 

As you know, I am a scientist and we just deal in intrinsic reality as it occurs in nature.  Not consensual reality, which occurs in human nature.  Personally, in matters of age I firmly believe it is not the years, but the mileage that matters.  As a person who has rolled over a few times so to speak, that’s not good news.  Let’s face it does it really matter how kind or few the years are… if the weekends are wicked… but I digress.  


We all know the big corporate terrorists attack America’s most vulnerable in the names of “remaining competitive,” “protecting us from foreign threat,” and what ever argument is handy to advance the agenda of the very few, appease and beguile the large crumb eaters, and keep the poorest and most unaware, poor and unaware.  We have all seen how unethical and irresponsible the media has been with Barack Obama.  We know racism; we know fear; we know predatory people. 

So, I do not want to talk about that.  I want to talk about the recent flurry of things attacking John McCain because of this age.  Let’s discuss this responsibly.  Consider this—the facts about the aging human brain. 

Information is stored in different parts of your memory.  Information stored in the short-term memory may include the name of a person you met moments ago.  Information stored in the recent memory may include what you ate for breakfast.  Information stored in the remote memory includes things that you stored in your memory years ago, such as memories of childhood.  Remember John McCain’s speech in the Middle East, when he forgot and misquoted key facts, not once but twice?  Look at this man closely.  He’s like all of us… weary, and doing what he believes to be the right thing to do—but at the end of the day, this man, as some of his public appearances have demonstrated has some issues with executive function.  

While I believe that people should do all that they can at any age—the fact is as you age, certain capacity decrease—I also believe that the aging process is highly individualized.  John McCain is 71-years old.  There are plenty of people who are 71, who exhibit no impairments in executive function.  John McCain is not one of them.  What I am saying here is not that an old person should not be president; I do not age grade—especially now when I have come to that age where the best thing about it is that I can no longer die unexpectedly.  Make no mistake about that.  I do not even believe in linear time, but I digress.  What I am saying is this person is at the point in their aging process where executive function is a concern—case in point those speeches in the Middle East.  


Bruce Yankner, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, is investigating how human brains change between ages 26 and 106.  If you are dragging 40, instead of pushing it the news is not good.  Of course, if you have hit 40, you already know that unlike 20, or even 30, 40 hits back.  Just for the record, 50 will not hit back—it will cut you.  But I digress.  Yankner and his colleagues at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard searched brain tissue from 30 people for changes in genes involved in learning and memory, and for damage to these genes caused by the normal stresses of living.  Now these are just the normal stresses, not the stress of say, something like trying to clean up the mess that we have made of this nation in the last 8 years, but again, I digress. 

Anyway, from ages 26 to 40 years, those Harvard Study brains show similar patterns of wear and tear and low levels of gene damage.  Brains 73 years and older exhibited more damage, as expected.  That’s because when you’re in your 20s, you begin to lose brain cells a few at a time.  Your body also starts to make less of the chemicals your brain cells need to work.  The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory.  Thus, the word on the brain research street is that aging affects memory by changing the way the brain stores information and by making it harder to recall stored information.  Different people are affected differently 

Aging is a part of the human process, and we have to be realistic about it. I hear all of these people carrying on about how John McCain, if elected, will be the oldest person to become president.  So what?  It’s not about his age.  It’s about his mileage that we need to be concerned with—as evidenced in the Middle East.  Now if you made a speech in front of thousands of people, and made a glaring error—was corrected—and then proceed to make the same error, again—would you not be concerned about your self? 

 Yes, I’ve seen the stuff on the Web.  True, John McCain is: older than nylon; older than the chocolate chip cookie; older than the shopping cart, the TV dinner, Velcro, Cheerios; the Cobb Salad, LSD, the Golden Gate Bridge, Scientology, the Slinky, and Spam (I am talking about the canned meat, not unsolicited e-mail)—but that’s not the point—I am older than the Super Bowl.  America is older than all of that and John McCain too—as a nation we need to know better by now. 

It’s not because John McCain is an old man that he should not be president, it is because he is not the right man.  The take home message is this is the United States… and the operative word is United not States, and while we reside in a collective of separate human states—we must remain united as one.  So do not let those among us who do not understand that “united we stand, and divided we will fall” divert our attention away from the issues, and towards things that are divisive and superficial.  So, before the noise starts, there are more important concerns here—like the voting machines in Ohio and Florida.  More importantly there’s a change train leaving the station, and there ain’t no room on this train for attacking people because of their age—a nation that does not respect their elderly can not respect any other population.  Change begins in the brain—not in the street.  So let’s start now, thinking a kinder, more salubrious America than we have known thus far. 

So yes, I am saying stop the age assaults on John McCain, like I said stop the assault on Hillary, and the race assault on Barack… this is not about McCain, Hillary or Barack… this is about becoming the nation that we need to be… and we need to be a more intelligent nation–and intelligent people do not batter people on the basis of consensual reality.  So yes, I am standing up for John McCain’s right not to battered because of his age… because this is the USA and we are a smarter, better nation than that.   And that is wassup wit dat!

Be black!  Go Blue! 

–Dr G


Read Full Post »

You know, I was in the ER, and my personal physician said to me, “You’re for Obama, because he’s a black man.”  Now my physician is a woman, who has cared for me for 20 years.  This is a woman, who came to my house, on her day off, to treat my mother when she was dying.  This is a woman, who is not only my physician, but she is my friend, and has been for a long time.  She is an intelligent woman, although this comment certainly did not reflect that.  How can that be?  I bet you’ve experienced similar. 

I have dear friends that I watch desperately searching for excuses not to support Obama, and I know why, because he’s black.  They do not even realize it consciously.  I had another friend, a woman, who I consider more of a sister to me than my consanguine sister, say, “Isn’t there a part of you that just wants Obama to get it because he’s a black man?”  


 First, Obama is half-white, yet because his skin is darker than most white people, he becomes black.  Why, because we live in harsh, anti-black pigmentocracy.  Personally, there’s a part of me that wishes America was  not a Teutonophile Nation.  Personally, I take that as an affront. 


Second, why is it that every Black person that is supporting Obama, is accused of doing so because he is black?  Condaleeza Rice is black, would you vote for her?  I’m black, would you vote for me–of course not.  People are on the Obama train for the same reason they got on the Kennedy train—because change needs to come.  Because deep down inside, at the end of the day, when its all said and done, we love America, because we are America. 


That’s what so tragically sad about Hillary Clinton.  Once upon a time, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter.  Of course, that was long before I knew who Obama was and what he stood for.  The funny thing is, all of my white feminist friends, said the same thing to me, when I was a Hillary supporter… “not this woman.” 


Over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting.  I’ve watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, and encouraging racial fear and hatred.  She hurls the name “Farrakhan” out of nowhere to scare white people, pure and simple.  Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan.  “You cannot choose your relatives, but you can choose your minister,” she said.  

How sad it is to find out that Senator Clinton and her husband are more concerned about their personal legacy than America, or their child.  The tragedy is that Hillary Clinton, really did, devote much of her life to good causes and good deeds.  It is very sad to see her throwing it all away, because she cannot accept the fact that she is not going to get to be the first woman president.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House.  I understand that, I have a sister, I have nieces, I have goddaughters.  I am a feminist.  I know, there can be no free men, until women are free.  I also know, they day will come when America will have a female president, probably 2016, the current governor of Kansas. 

What we are witnessing is not just a candidate.  We are witnessing a profound, massive, public, movement for change.  Obama is an exceptional man, but the Obama movement is the train we need to be on.  What’s going on is bigger than him at this point, and that’s a good thing for the country, because, when he wins in November, that Obama movement is going to have to stay alert and active.  Corporate America is not going to give up their strangle hold on the American government, and the American people, just because we have a good president.  President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama.  Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Reverend Wright up in Obama’s face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Yet, when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky–who did she and Bill bring to the White House for ‘spiritual counseling?’ THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!  Obama will not throw that at her, because it is not the decent thing to do.  It simply is not right.  She has been through enough hurt, and so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.  We need a man like this to lead our nation.  You cannot be a decent president, if you are not a decent human being.  That’s why the crowds who come to see him are so large.  That’s why he’ll take us down that high road, as opposed to lead us to a pyrrhic victory. 

So no, my trusted physician and friend, it is not about the color of his skin, but the content of his character.  Now haven’t I heard that some place before?  Be black go blue!

–Dr. Billy G

Read Full Post »

About me…  I am, “Dr. Billy G”, Wilbert Anthony Gordon Jr., Ph.D., UMBAA President, 2008, (U of M LS&A, Class of 1997, drbillyg@umich.edu, etc.)   Briefly, I grew up in a tarpaper shack without indoor plumbing in Dowagiac (between Kalamazoo and South Bend).  I was a high school jock, student body president, homecoming king, etc.,etc., type–any given incoming freshman guy in any house, in Bursley, Mojo, Markley, or Quad–East, West or South.  

Except–I did not come directly to Michigan from high school. Instead, I joined a Roman Catholic monastery immediately after high school, then, came to the University of Michigan immediately after being asked to leave the monastery.  (The monks said I definitely had a calling, but it definitely wasn’t religious, although there were a lot more people screaming, “Jesus Christ!  Oh my God!” in my room than in the chapel per se, but I digress.)  

I came to U of M in January 1973.   I joined the Gay Liberation Front, the Rainbow People’s Party, and was on the steering Committee for the second Black Action Movement (BAM II).  It was the 70’s–what can I say?  The last thing I remember was somebody stepping on my writing hand when I was walking home from the Hash Bash and Dog Orgy of 76, or was it 77?   Anyway, the next thing I knew, I was in Beverly Hills (California—not the one by Detroit) at the Polo Lounge, with Eggs Benedict on my breath, and some rich, Black Republican on my left. 

That led to a brief career as a male model and actor, which led to an extensive career as a female model, actress, author, and screen writer—you have all seen “the old me” on TV (no pun intended), in movies, or certainly in print. 

Moving on, my great nephew was brutally gunned down over a $200.00 drug debt–not in Harlem, not in South Central LA, not in East Detroit, but in Dowagiac–my little town,  on the very street where I learned to ride a bicycle.  In her tears and grief, his mother said to me, “don’t you dare cry–you television writers glamorize crime, drugs, and depravity and it is killing black kids across the nation.  Did you really think that it was not going to come home to our family?” 

As I told her at the time, I really had not thought about it.  So, I did think about it.  I decided to turn my rage and grief into something proactive.  I left my career as a television writer, actress, model, etc., etc., etc., to get a Ph.D. in neuroscience, so I could speak to my colleagues in television and film, with authority about the neurobiological implications of broadcast media on the neuroplasticity (brain development) and interoceptive awareness (how we feel what we feel) of African Americans. 

At the time, one of my agents at William Morris, (who was a little distraught because I refused to renew my contract with a German Tobacco Company as “the West Cigarette Girl” to pursue this goal) said, “Well we’ll have a funeral for your career, let us know how this stealth-nerd thing turns out for you.” 

Well this is how it turned out.  I traded in my weave and acrylic nails, finished my degree at Michigan in 1997.  Subsequently, I completed an interdisciplinary Masters in Psychology and Sociology then completed my doctorate in Integrative Behavioral Neuroscience in 3 ½ years. (When you are all partied out, these things don’t take as long.) 

Currently, I professionally reside at UCLA.  I am a post-doctoral scholar at the UCLA Center for Research, Education, Training, and Strategic Communication of Minority Health Disparities. I am also a member of Dr. Mark S. Cohen’s Lab in the Center for the Cognitive Neurosciences Semel Biobehavioral Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA, and serve as Chair of the Advocacy Committee on Collective Concerns in Medicine at the DGSOM-UCLA.

I use functional neuroimaging technologies (fMRI) to do human brain research, investigating the biological substrates of human behavior.  Generally speaking my research focuses on the neuroanatomy of emotion and in particular the pathophysiology of racism and its connectivity to negative physical health outcomes in African Americans.

I remain active in the WGA-west.  I am part of Western Sandblast, a collective of film and television practitioners (WGA and DGA writers, directors, whose members credits include movies like Manchurian Candidate, Sum of All Fears, Any Given Sunday, and television shows such as House, etc.)

Aside from being President of the UMBAA, my other University of Michigan alumni affiliations are: African American Alumni Council, Alumni Cheerleaders,  UM Club-LA, Alumni Council, U of M Southern California Alumni Club, U of M Entertainment Alliance, and the UMAAC-Los Angeles Village.  I am involved in student recruitment and I am proud to say that my God son, who was Captain of Princeton Basketball Team, will begin his first year of Medical School at Michigan in the fall. 

At this point, some of you, perhaps, like some of my colleagues in medicine, think that I am “very strange”.  I admit at times life has taken me to extreme places, but only because I was trying to fulfill essential human needs and satisfy basic emotions that we all have.  So in essence, can there be that much difference between you and I?  I have laughed and cried, been courageous and cowardly, loved and lusted.  I have known extreme joy and utter sorrow, been praised, admonished, and misunderstood.  I have been confident, uncertain, lonely, decent, and wretched.  I have been extremely sober and exceptionally drunk.  As humans go, how strange is that? I believe there are no victims, only volunteers.  I work hard, I do not surrender, and I will not quit.  I come to win, not to play the game.  So in terms of Michigan alumni, is there any question that the blood is maize and blue in my veins. 

About this Blog:  Being that I am running this Blog, and you have now read the sordid tale.  You know who I am, or can at least, you can somewhat imagine.  So, this Blog, like the 70’s, is a place to express and explore.  (Unlike the 70’s, there will be no drugs, disco or orgies, but I digress.)  This is a place to share, learn, and grow.  It a place to vent, to re-boot, revitalize, and get in the game—it’s the part of Ann Arbor and the Michigan experience that should never end.    So, this is a place for Michigan alums, like you and me—to escape the loneliness in this life, because loneliness is an absence of kind not a lack of company.  And the greater a purpose here is to share ideas worth spreading, because after all, humans are a social species, and ultimately, the caliber of the interaction between any two humans is at that place and time the state of human society.  So, what is this Blog about?  You and time, will tell me, although I do not necessarily believe in linear time, I am prepared to believe in you.  

Read Full Post »