Scott Cawelti

About Scott Cawelti -

Scott Cawelti was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1968-2008, and has written regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo / Cedar Falls Courier since the late 1970s.  He played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. Scott continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at UNI.

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  • Attention All Drinkalotics

    • Posted on Jan 19, 2014 by Scott Cawelti
    This appeared in the Sunday Courier today (Jan. 18) and grew out of personal experience--namely, a terrible New Year's Day.   Radical moderation works for me.  
    **************************************************
    Certain acts are illegal and/or harmful, yet vast numbers of us do them anyway.  Speeding.  Littering.  Appropriating employers’ property for personal use. 

     
    Most of all, drinking.  Alcohol, that is.  Good ol’ Al, my friend and yours.  He’s invited to every party, dinner, celebration, and sports event on the planet.   And he attends them all.  

    No news there.  Except that last week, the Head of the Centers for Disease Control issued a report that flat-out asserts we drink too much.  We’re not alcoholics so much as drinkalotics. 

    We stop long before passing out, but not before feeling really, really happy.  And thinking we’re very, very witty. 

    Until the next morning, when we feel like dog pucky.     

    Here’s the problem, according to the CDC: Few doctors ask patients about their drinking habits.  As long as they’re not passing out nightly, they’re doing fine.  Yet “social” or “moderate” drinkers are often heavy imbibers, don’t admit it, and happy their doctors don’t ask.

    At least 38 million Americans down too much alcohol, according to this new CDC report.

    How much is too much?  Drinkers, listen up:  more than one drink in 24 hours for women, and more than two for men.   If you’re drinking more, you’re a heavy drinker, says the CDC and other studies on alcohol consumption. In the long haul, that’s big trouble for heart and liver problems, cancer, relationships, jobs, lost potential.  

    A dear departed doctor friend of mine enjoyed a glass of wine or three now and then.  As a doctor he used to joke, “an alcoholic is anyone who drinks more than their doctor.”  We both found his definition amusing, since that meant none of his patients were alcoholics.

    He enjoyed his wine—and his life—immensely.   But he did understand moderation, and kept it under control.  We seldom binged, meaning five or more drinks within two hours.  Many drinkers consider that the start of a good night.  

    I have my issues with Al, though.   On a particularly bad morning last year—after a long hearty party, I noticed that everything about me was impaired.   Memory, energy, mood, outlook, all gone dark and negative.  It felt like a nasty case of flu, both physically and mentally.

    Not pleasant.  I made a list of all those impairments and created this acronym:  MEMHOC, to rhyme with “hemlock.”   Memory, energy, mood, health, outlook, clarity.  All seriously impaired or distorted. 

    So why not quit?   If Al makes us sick, why keep him around?  Good question, and easily answered:  He’s fun.  Really fun, and in small doses, even behaves like a health tonic.

    Up to two drinks, that is.  After that, Al’s poison.

    That’s the dilemma with alcohol.   When we drink two wonderful glasses of wine with dinner, a huge desire arises for a third.  And a fourth.  Then pass the fifth.   Then pass out.

    Vast numbers of drinkers actually drink heavily, bingeing several times monthly.  

    For them, in all its ugliness, addiction looms.

    Radical moderation is in order, and oxymoronic though that phrase may be, it’s the only sensible approach to keeping ol’ Al around without major health issues.  

    For all drinkers who think they’re drinking moderately, here’s a two-step idea:  First, quit for seven days.   Cold turkey, and immediately. 

    This will tell you how much you crave Al’s company.  If you feel lost and upset, or just can’t do it, you have a poisonous relationship. 
     
    Second, if you only miss him slightly around dinnertime, invite him back for short visits. Once, maybe twice occasionally.  Never more.  I guarantee better memory, energy, mood, health, outlook, and clarity.  A better life, overall. 

    Ol’ Al makes a fine friend--but a terrible roommate.    

               

     


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    • Health
    • Cedar Valley Chronicles
    • alcohol
  • Another False Urban Legend Exposed

    • Posted on Jan 12, 2014 by Scott Cawelti
    Last night (Saturday 1-10-14) I received an e-mail from one Cchuck902@aol.com that passed on an urban legend about Barack Obama.  It was actually based on a satirical bit written by a columnist.  Here it is, followed by the full refutation on Snopes.com.  


    DO NOT ADD A SINGLE WORD

    Yes, he told us in advance what he planned to do. Few were listening.

    The following is a narrative taken from a 2008 Sunday morning televised "Meet The Press'.

    From Sunday's 07 Sept. 2008 11 : 48 : 04 EST, Televised "Meet the Press" THE THEN Senator Obama was asked about his stance on the American Flag.

    General Bill Gann' USAF (ret.) asked Obama to explain WHY he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played.

    The General stated to Obama that according to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171...

    During rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present (except those in uniform) are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Or, at the very least, "Stand and Face It".

    Senator Obama replied :

    "As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides." "There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression..." "The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing."

    Obama continued : "The National Anthem should be 'swapped' for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing'. If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it. In my opinion, we should consider reinventing our National Anthem as well as 'redesign' our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It's my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we, as a Nation of warring people, conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails - - - perhaps a state or period of mutual accord could exist between our governments ...."

    When I Become President, I will seek a pact of agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation, have placed upon the nations ofIslam, an unfair injustice which is WHY my wife disrespects the Flag and she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past".

    Here is the refutation from Snopes.com.  See the full URL at the end.  

    Back in October 2007, one of the hottest e-mail forwards was a picture capturing Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama standing in front of a U.S. flag (at an Iowa political event) with his hands clasped in front of him during the playing of the U.S. national anthem (while other persons on the platform with him stood with their hands placed over their hearts). This photographic brouhaha soon


    We should consider to reinvent our National Anthem as well as to redesign our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. My wife disrespects the Flag for many personal reasons. Together she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago. She has her views and I have mine.
    mutated into a (false) claim that Barack Obama "refused to put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance" and then into the (even more false) claim that "he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance" at all (rumors which the Obama campaign soon provided evidence to negate).

    While this controversy was all the rage on the Internet, political columnist John Semmens included a bit at the end of one of his satirical "Semi-News" columns (found on the web site of The Arizona Conservative) offering a mock explanation from Senator Obama about his non-hand-over-heart stance, poking fun at the candidate by having him voice the opinion that "the American flag is a symbol of oppression" and that the U.S. national anthem is too "bellicose" and should be replaced by something gentler like "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."

    This bit of satire evidently came off as too believable to some readers, as it was excerpted from Semmens' column and forwarded via e-mail (without attribution) as a genuine statement from Senator Obama. However topical it might have been, it was just a bit of political commentary-cum-humor, not Barack Obama's own words.

    In September 2008, this same piece began arriving in our inbox headed by the claim that it was derived from the 7 September 2008 airing of Meet the Press and naming the interviewer as "General Bill Ginn, USAF (ret.)" It goes without saying that Senator Obama wasn't among the guests on that day's show (those were Senator Joe Biden and author Tom Friedman). Later versions also attributed authorship of the message to Dale Lindsborg of the Washington Post.

    The following (also fabricated) statement about flag burning purportedly made by Barack Obama was appended to later versions of the e-mail:  

    We should consider to reinvent our National Anthem as well as to redesign our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. My wife disrespects the Flag for many personal reasons. Together she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago. She has her views and I have mine. 

    Last updated:   15 November 2013 

    Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by snopes.com.
    This material may not be reproduced without permission.
    snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.


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