Friday, June 29, 2007

What Was Your Name Again?

When one is in the belly of a run of perimenopausal insomnia, there are some endeavors that are simply not safe to endeavor.

Proper grammar and spelling, for one.

Lion taming might be another.

That thing where the magician straps a girl to a spinning wheel and flings knives at her head, that might be something that would be safest to avoid. Unless you are the girl and really, really trust the guy throwing the knives.

Ditto pair juggling flaming torches. (damn, there goes Husband’s weekend)

I suppose I should put off trying to land that 747. Or swimming with sharks. Or coherent political debate. And above all, trying to compose amusing blogs.

Because this piece isn’t going the way I planned. With an elevator that stops short of the observation deck, nothing is going to go the way that I planned and I should probably stick to “safe” activities like operating the DVD player, making snacks that don’t involve sharp implements, and signing up for the Secret Service.

I didn’t see anything in the manual about driving an hour to my massage appointment, though.

I will drive a long way, even with a pounding headache, even on four days of crummy sleep, to get a good massage.

I will probably drive too fast, and rely on a sniff of peppermint oil instead of coffee, and sing very loud with the radio.

Don’t worry. That’s what keeps me focused. And if I’m pulled over by one of New York’s Finest, I will simply burst into tears.

And I won’t have to fake it. I’m getting pretty good at that, too.

I watched “Hitch” last night and cried at the ending, for Pete’s sake.

I cried at the end of last season’s final episode of “24.” And that’s pathetic.

And if I call on you to bail me out of the PMS tank this afternoon, please bring my pillow.

And a box of tissues. Maybe two.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A vessel of nothing and how it relates to the world around it

Paris Hilton must be Rupert Murdoch’s wet dream – she and her in-and-out-and-in-and-out of the slammer story can be linked to every segment of TV news and every section of the newspaper.

She’s the top headline in the entertainment and court news, of course.

Fashion and Beauty Reports. TV News. Celebrity Updates. Business.

Business?

Yes, I heard it this morning. Husband listens to the financial shows when he wakes up. And there it was. A teaser for the next segment: How does Paris’s release from prison effect the Hilton brand?

I almost dropped my tea.

And that’s all this media outlet has to say on the subject.

Because I don’t care.

I really don’t care.

Until she’s back in jail for something else, of course.

There was also a news story speculating if she would be getting as much media attention if she were overweight and ugly. And, perhaps, if didn’t have a trust fund, or at the very least, kept her underwear on in public.

Does that really require an answer? In this country? Please. It’s something we all grow up with as part of the fabric of our cultural footy-pajamas that thin, pretty rich people have it pretty good around here.

If Rosie O’Donnell went to the slammer maybe there would be a bit of hoopla for a bit but I’m certain there would be a segment of the population who would happy to see her there, and happy to see her there for a very long time.

And my overarching question still remains – why is Paris Hilton that important? What has she ever done to merit so much media attention, when kids are dying in Iraq and a whole bunch of sometimes-interesting people are dying to be President?

Certainly it would be more interesting to follow Barack Obama or Rudy Guiliani around for a day or so, just to hear what they’ll say to cut through the traffic than to lurk outside a prison at midnight waiting for a glimpse of an empty-headed heiress.

Clearly there is something wrong with us. Something of the order of when the British people looked up and noticed that the countries they used to control wanted them and their language and religion and lousy cooking off their property.

I’m half expecting gladiator battles to show up on the front page of the Sports section. I’m sure Rupert Murdoch is figuring out a way to get Paris on there, too.

She could always box Tanya Harding.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

FDA Approves First Fibromyalgia Drug!!

On June 21, the Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica (generic name: pregabalin) as the first drug to treat fibromyalgia, according to Pfizer.

This is a milestone, because prior to this FDA approval, those living with fibromyalgia (approximately six million in this country alone, myself included) had been forced to “make do” with drugs not officially approved for the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Medications were prescribed “off label” to treat the pain, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and digestive problems that are the hallmarks of the disease. Patients and their health care providers complained of needing to take multiple medications, and having problems with what their health insurance companies would cover. For instance, two of the most basic types of medications prescribed for fibromyalgia – anti-depressants and sleep aids – are classified by some HMOs as “mental health related” which not only perpetuates a long-fought-against stigma that fibromyalgia is “all in one’s head.” And in some cases, the HMO refuses to cover medications in these categories. (I'm still fighting this one.)

While Lyrica may not treat every symptom of fibromyalgia, it has been shown to help the major ones, and it also lends stronger credibility to the medical and health insurance communities that the disease is real and should be treated as such.

“This is an important day for people with fibromyalgia and a real opportunity to help physicians effectively manage this disorder,” said Dr. Don Goldenberg, M.D., co-chair of the fibromyalgia guideline panel for the American Pain Society and professor of medicine, Tufts University. "Having a medication approved for use in fibromyalgia, along with research advances, will go a long way to improving our understanding and treatment of this common disorder."

Fibromyalgia is thought to result from neurological changes in the perception of pain, specifically a heightened sensitivity to stimuli that for most people would not normally be painful. Lyrica binds to a specific protein in these overexcited nerve cells and works to soothe damaged nerves. This is thought to reduce pain in patients living with fibromyalgia, although the exact mechanism of how Lyrica acts in fibromyalgia is not known.

Lyrica is not a completely new drug. It was developed in January of 2005 by Pfizer to treat the peripheral neuropathetic pain often suffered by diabetic patients. But after a number of studies, it was found that the medication showed some benefit for fibromyalgia, and it has been prescribed “off label” ever since.

While many patients enjoyed a reduction in their pain, improvements in their sleep and energy levels, some disagreed. Dizziness and daytime drowsiness were the most commonly mentioned side effects. For some, these side effects dissipated over time, but for some, they were too disruptive to continue taking the medication. Anecdotal evidence also showed that for some, lower doses improved sleep but higher doses were needed for pain control.

“I had to give up my career and I wasn’t able to participate in a lot of my children’s activities,” said Carolyn Bishop, a fibromyalgia patient and participant in one of the Lyrica clinical trials. But since she started taking Lyrica, she’s “had less pain and felt better.”

"I've been on Lyrica for over a year," said Opus P. Penguin. "It's really knocked down the pain except I can't dose up to the optimal level because then it keeps me awake. But I have weird reactions to drugs."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Can We Please Move On Now?

I can’t decide which media story I’m more disgusted with – Paris Hilton, or the legions of people who should know better saying that the 2008 election will be a backlash against President Bush.

The Jailbird Heiress deserves not an agate more space in any media but the entertainment outlets, so I’m reluctant to put her name out there once more. But here’s a news flash to those who keep perpetuating the latter story: Bush can’t run for a third term.

It’s in the Constitution.

I’ll repeat myself one more time to make it clear. President Bush is not running in 2008, and neither is the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff nor a single member of his administration.

Not even his wife.

Even the slate of hopefuls for the 2008 nomination is quietly (and some, like probable candidate-to-be Newt Gingrich, not so quietly) sneaking away from any association from or agreement with the fiasco that has been the Bush presidency. In fact the candidate who has worked the most closely with Bush & Co. has been Democrat Bill Richardson, former US Ambassador to the UN, a Clinton appointee, who has accepted various diplomatic missions for the current administration when asked.

But I hope that what Latifa Lyles, VP for membership with the National Organization for Women, meant by her recent remark that the ’08 vote will be a backlash against Bush is that the election will be a referendum against the Iraq war and all things related.

And that I’d agree with. Yet somehow I don’t think that that’s what she meant.

Yes, at this stage of the campaign, it’s almost a requirement that the Democratic candidates Bush-bash to beat the band. Because they know that throwing out a big old slab of red meat will rally the base faster than you can say “impeachment.”

What they are conveniently ignoring is that the current administration will be gone by the time the next punching bag – I mean president-elect – puts his or her hand on the Bible (or the Koran, for Barack Obama).

And then it will be time to look forward. At least I hope so.

Pushing the half-truth that the election is all about Bush does us no favors. It deflects the conversation from what comes next. After all, who wants to hear “boring” plans for nationalized health care when you can get a guaranteed quote on the news if you say that Bush got us into an illegal war and you’re going to make it right, or that you were against the war earlier than the other guy was against the war. So we can at least attempt to move on, the candidates have to get over something and they have to get over it now: They lost to Bush in 2000. They lost to Bush in 2004. It doesn’t matter any more.

What matters is what comes next.

And I’m one of those all-important woman voters waiting to be courted by a shiny Democratic hopeful. I want to know why you’re qualified for the job. I don’t give a flying hurrah how you were against the war now but not then, then but not now, whether you voted quietly or rancorously or while wearing a Richard Nixon mask, for Pete’s sake. And I don’t want to hear what a lousy job Bush is doing.

I already know that. I want to know what you’re going to do. I don’t want sound bites, or poll numbers, or spin.

I want to know where you stand on troop deployment. I want a long-range plan for giving Iraq back to the Iraqis. I want to know your views on immigration, on employment, on health care. Not every jot and tittle, because I know you’ll have to work with Congress and they have a way of chucking a president’s dreams off the White House balcony.

I want acknowledgment that despite the bumper stickers, some of us aren’t satisfied merely with “anyone but Bush.”

Maybe it looks as if the average citizen is too fat and happy to care about dull things like presidential elections. Like we’re all parked in front of American Idol waiting for the latest starlet’s trip to rehab. Heck, (as I've written before) even Cindy Sheehan gave up and went home. I don’t blame her. It can’t be easy standing out in the Texas heat holding up a banner when no one is paying attention.

But we’re just waiting for someone to raise the level of the discourse.

Or for a certain heiress to get released again. After all, we’ll always have Paris. (you had to know I was going to try to work that in somewhere)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Wrong Trousers

Apparently with the Anna Nicole Smith trial mostly straightened out and Paris Hilton in jail, lawyers are looking for something to do.

Or someone else to sue.

They’re scraping the bottom of the legal barrel with the case of the Roy Pearson, DC lawyer (excuse me, Administrative Law Judge) who is suing his dry cleaner for $54 million dollars for losing his pants.

And frankly I’m worried less about the state of rampant litigiousness in this country and more about this guy’s sanity.

Because not only has he brought this absurd case – which is something I’d expect to see on “Boston Legal” or “Ally McBeal” – but he is representing himself. Which either means that Pearson is deranged or he couldn’t get another lawyer to stop laughing long enough to choke out the words, “Get out of my office, you blithering unpanted fool.”

Heck, if I tried to sue everyone who caused me “mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort,” I wouldn’t have time to put on my pants, let alone sue anyone over them.

But this gets even more ridiculous. Because Pearson has had dealings with the Chungs, the Korean dry cleaners, in the past. According to the defense attorney, Pearson was recompensed $150 in 2002 when they lost an earlier pair of pants (ironic, that in DC some have trouble keeping their trousers zipped, when this guy can’t even find his), and was banned from the store after, presumably, some exchange of words. Pearson “begged” to be let back in because he claimed he didn’t have a car and this was the only dry cleaner in his neighborhood. (has he not heard of the DC Metro?) Three years later he returned and yet another pair of pants went missing.

Now, for the average sensible person, this would be a sign not to do business with this particular dry cleaner ever again. Heck, get a taxi, get on the subway, find a dry cleaner near your place of employment, but don’t go back to these guys.

Pearson apparently didn’t make that link. Because he kept going there.

With this final pair, I guess Pearson had had enough. He and the three owners of the store kept swapping offers of recompense and the figures went higher and higher. The negotiations dragged on for two years and Pearson multiplied the damages by the number of days since the incident and by three for each of the three owners of the store, which is how he got the stupendously insane figure of $54 million. And that was knocked down from $67 million.

There hasn’t been this much fuss about a garment in Washington since a certain little blue dress.

Pearson’s claim got so huge that the first judge dropped the case, and now there will be a new one. What I want to know is why the first judge hadn’t dropped the case earlier. Every trial lawyer that has been interviewed calls it in embarrassment to the legal profession, so either the first judge had a sadistic streak and just wanted to see how ridiculous this case would get, or she’s just as deranged as Pearson in thinking the case has merit.

Meanwhile the Chungs have spent thousands of dollars defending themselves. So much sympathy has developed since the story first aired that there has been a massive Internet campaign to collect money for them.

And yet Pearson marches on. Pants or no pants. My hunch? As one in the legal profession, eventually all pairs of Pearson’s trousers will self-combust.

So a liar’s pants do indeed burst into flames.

Let that be a lesson to you.

If you're going to practice law, get yourself a few Nomex suits.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Right Message, Wrong Messenger

There are some who will always have an albatross around their necks, and no matter how many good deeds they do, the smell of that dead bird will follow them into the grave. Think about Bill Buckner, and the easy grounder that rolled through his legs to cost the Red Sox Game Six of the ’86 World Series. Think about Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick tragedy (Google it, kids).

Think about the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Actually, a lot of people who were living in the Mid-Hudson Valley in the 1980’s don’t want to think about Al Sharpton. It’s hard to shake memories of the damage he did with the Tawana Brawley case. Sharpton, along with lawyers Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, defended an African-American teenager who claimed a group of Dutchess County police officers sexually and racially attacked her. A year later Brawley admitted it was a hoax, which cost county residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and ruined the reputations of the accused officers, including then-assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones, who sued Sharpton for defamation and won.

The case, like many the reverend has become involved with, only served to deepen the racial divide, only served to hurt rather than heal, and only served to help Sharpton get more media attention.

I’m glad that he’s doing something positive with his new campaign to clean up the lyrics in hip-hop music (including collecting symbolic bars of soap), but from what I’ve seen of his actions, I can’t help but be skeptical.

Is Sharpton, given his past and his penchant for self-promotion, the right messenger for the task?

For instance, where was Sharpton when hip-hop jumped the tracks to the dark side in the early 90’s, going from energetic dance music to an in-your-face hand-grenade with lyrics glorifying shooting cops and rape? Was it not important to Sharpton then, to clean up the obscenities that were making their way into American pop culture?

Not then, apparently. Sharpton was spreading his own hate speech. In an address at Kean College in 1994, he said, “White folks was in caves while we was building empires ... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” (Yet he’s leading a grassroots campaign to eliminate homophobia in the black church.)

Was it not important to Sharpton when “Gangsta” rappers were shooting each other dead and flooding the cosmic atmosphere with language I will not repeat here? Apparently it was only serious enough for him merely to make the occasional statement on his web site, even though the media had bestowed celebrity status upon him and he could have had the ears of so many more who were in a position to do something about the problem.

Or perhaps he was too busy whipping up hatred between African Americans and Jews following the Crown Heights riots. And again, in the Freddie’s Fashion Mart case in Harlem, where the Jewish tenant of clothing store wanted to evict his African-American subtenant. Sharpton told the protesters, "We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.” Following this speech, one of the protesters burned down the store, killing seven customers and himself. Yet Sharpton, while regretting the violence and his use of “white interloper,” claimed no responsibility for inflaming the protesters.

Meanwhile rap lyrics were weaving their tentacles into the minds of our children. I lived in uptown Kingston around that time, and it seemed that every day I’d hear young African-American boys calling each other the “n” word. Once I asked a couple of the boys why they called each other such denigrating names. One of the kids looked at me like I had two heads and simply said, “It’s a black thing.”

But it wasn’t just a “black thing.” White kids, too, were quickly adopting the language, the culture, the giant pants hanging below their underwear. The words they used were a noxious cloud so impervious that I was afraid that some day soon I’d open my online dictionary and find them there.

And when Sharpton called for Don Imus’s resignation after the morning shock jock uttered his infamous comments about the Rutgers women’s’ basketball team, he was accused by Jason Whitlock, a Kansas City Star journalist, of using the victims to further his own agenda of raising his profile in the media. Instead of drawing attention to himself, Whitlock wrote, Sharpton should have been doing everything he could to clean up the lyrics of hip-hop music that glorify indignities toward women.

Yet at the same time Sharpton was criticizing Imus, the reverend was on the agenda to give an award to Island Def Jam music group, a record label that boasts foul-mouthed rapper Ludacris as one of its artists. But realizing how bad this would look, Sharpton had the good sense to cancel. It makes me wonder: when Sharpton had already begun his “campaign” against hip-hop lyrics, why he was on the award agenda at all?

How can we look upon Sharpton as a leader in the fight against hip-hop music when he’s lauding the creators at the same time, and when he can’t even keep his own hate speak in check?

Perhaps Sharpton should take one of those iconic bars of soap he hopes to collect and use it to clean up his own act first. Then use the rest to wash away the smell of the albatross still hanging around his neck.

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's Enough To Make You Crazy

Insomnia is a mental illness.

Or so my HMO says. And since my particular HMO, partially sponsored by New York State, does not cover mental health, in turn it won’t cover medications prescribed for mental health disorders.

This includes anti-depressants and sleep aids, which are commonly prescribed for conditions that have nothing to do with depression, anxiety or any other “mental illness.”

So since, by their classification, insomnia is a mental health disorder, and since insomnia is a side effect of both the perimenopause and fibromyalgia that I’m living with, then these disorders are mental illnesses.

I beg to differ. In fact I beg to differ so strongly I want to strap the person who thought of this into a chair and slap them very, very hard.

That said, I told my HMO that I would like to appeal their decision. I wanted to go off on them like Alec Baldwin, but then they might get the idea that I do have a mental illness, and would blacklist all of my medications.

Unfortunately I only had a limited amount of space in which to record my appeal, but if I had more room I would have told them that with one numerical classification, they’ve set back the Fibromyalgia Awareness movement back thirty years. All the studies that have been done, all the doctors weighing in, all the people living with fibromyalgia – forget the progress they’ve made. Let’s go back to the years when doctors thought you were crazy, that your symptoms were all in your head, that you just needed to get a hobby and get some exercise and a psychiatrist and get a life.

But I’m deluding myself if I believe HMOs are the business of helping people get the proper care they need. They’re in the business of refraining from spending money so they can make more money. They’re in the business of putting people into categories to make life easier for their employees and further help the companies hold onto their profits.

This must change.

But how? Everyone is making money out of this deal: the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs, the doctors (though doctors aren’t making as much as people think), and the lobbyists and politicians. Whichever candidate or elected official truly gets elbow-deep into this muck will find that it is not the easy five-step plan they claimed it to be.

They might spend some sleepless nights fretting over it. And if the insomnia turns chronic, I hope they have better health insurance than I do.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way

As so many with more politically savvy minds than mine have noted, when the Democrats attained the majority in the 2006 mid-term elections, newly-elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi promised to do a lot of things in the first hundred days, one of which was to stop Bush from continuing the war.

I’m still waiting.

I learned enough from high school civics classes to know that aside from writing lots of angry Letters To The Editor, the only influence I truly have is over my own political representation: two Senators from my state and one Congressional Representative from my district. And, more specifically, in my power to get as many people as I can to choose the other guy (or gal) next time the elections come around.

And, occasionally, there are people like Cindy Sheehan, but she got tired and went home. I don’t blame her. I guess there’s only so long a person can bear to stand out in the Texas heat and wave a banner when no one is paying attention anymore.

As I’m really not the type to chain myself to a tree or get myself dragged away from a presidential speaking engagement wearing an uncomplimentary message on my t-shirt, I guess I’m stuck with the latter forms of influence.

However I’m not placing much faith in the hands of my two Senators. Hillary Clinton has already written New York off, although she “vowed” when reelected to finish out her term. We’re bluer than the blue sky of Wyoming, here. So she figures she doesn’t need to court our votes, and can spend all her time frantically trying to spin herself into a position that won’t alienate too many potential voters at either end of the political spectrum. However, she did “vow” to do something about the war “when” she becomes president.

Frankly I’m losing faith in her “vows.”

Then there’s Chuck Schumer. What rock did he crawl under? A check of his web site shows that he’s racking up frequent flier miles jetting around doing all kinds of wonderful things for the state (as he’s New York’s only working Senator these days). And that’s terrific. Go Chuck. He’s one of my favorites in Washington, if one can have such a thing. But one more wonderful thing he can do for the state is to keep our men and women from dying in Iraq by bringing them home. But his record shows that all of his committee involvements and legislative work is on domestic issues only. Re Iraq, other than a token (and very quiet) vote against the spending bill, he’s been laying as low as Don Imus.

My last hope is my own Congressional representative, Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, who is as left as they come. Here’s a taste of what he’s doing now:

1. Trying to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine” (which requires political balance in public media) so he can get his mug on more Sunday talk shows and further his own agenda (most of which includes getting reelected).

2. Leading Congressional efforts to stop the Department of Energy from putting a 200-mile long power line through upstate New York.

3. Helping the House pass a bill to punish “gas gougers,” that is, fuel vendors who artificially inflate their prices. (also known as the piece of news that could have the most unintentionally funny headline of the week)

4. Pushed for answers in a “friendly fire” incident involving a local soldier. “It’s time for misleading answers and half-truths to end,” Hinchey said. “We must lift the cloud hanging over Eddie Ryan’s case and obtain the Bronze Star medals for the marines who put their own lives at risk in order to save Eddie.”

Which are all wonderful things. Any non-Republican looking at Hinchey’s record would be proud that he’s working so hard for us.

But my hopes were raised when I saw, in a note further down on his web site, mention that he voted against the Iraq spending bill. His explanation, taken from his web site:

"Congress has an obligation to our servicemen and women and the American people as a whole to use the power of the purse to end this illegal occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home. Unfortunately, the new Iraq spending measure fails to include withdrawal dates and readiness standards for our troops. This new spending measure pretty much amounts to a blank check for President Bush who has shown himself to be the most incompetent president in our country's history. It makes no sense to continue giving President Bush the keys to the car when he has repeatedly crashed into a wall with every other time.

"I fully recognize the tough position the House leadership faced in trying to put together a bill that would pass and ensure our troops in Iraq have the resources they need to stay safe. However, I personally cannot support a measure that does not come close to adequately holding President Bush accountable and does not put this country on a timeline for getting out of Iraq. I refuse to buy into this false argument that the only way to support the troops in Iraq is to fund their operations there. The real way to support our troops is to fully fund their withdrawal from Iraq. It is well past the time our troops begin to redeploy home and to other parts of the world where they are truly needed such as Afghanistan where the Taliban is regaining strength and al Qaeda continues to operate."


I agree with one or two things here. Yes. Absolutely. Fully fund a withdrawal from Iraq now. Get thy equipment on a bunch of C-5A Galaxys and get thine selves home.

But why can't they, those who are in the positions to do so, do anything more than bitch about what is or isn't happening?

I might be politically na├»ve, but don’t the Democrats have the keys to the car? Can’t they simply rise as the majority and take away the checkbook? Heck, deal with Bush’s accountability afterward, if that’s what’s holding up the legislation. He’s not going anywhere until the next sucker puts his or her hand on the Bible (or Koran, if the case may be).

If they feel so strongly about ending the war, why not simply push to get what needs to be done now? I’m not buying what Joe Biden tried to explain to Dennis Kucinich in last night’s debates, that they don’t have the 67 votes it would take to override a presidential veto so therefore they can't do anything. Can they still rise as a body and send a stronger message to the White House without denying the funds that the troops need to stay safe until WHOEVER grows a pair, writes some clear legislation and decides that this nonsense should come to an end?

Unless…unless Hinchey and Biden and Clinton and the other Democrats WANT to keep us in Iraq. So they can continue to hammer Bush about it, oh, right through the 2008 election or thereabouts, assuring that they get to keep their jobs. So when they get one of their own into the Oval Office, they can proclaim, like Hillary kept beating it into the ground last night, that this is “Bush’s War,” and they will be the big heroes and get out troops the heck out of there.

No. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. Would a responsible member of our government actually put his or her own office and keeping their party in power ahead of the life of a young man or woman in Iraq?

Now who would be that cynical?

Not me.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Attack with a Deadly Legume


The debate has now been settled, once and for all.

Guns don’t kill people.

Baked beans kill people.

Or at the very least, they can cause some nasty burns and a really big lawsuit.

But fortunately, if you have a lot of money and are a big celebrity, like Hugh Grant found out recently, you can make the lawsuit go away.

Only the stains are left behind.

But because Hugh Grant (despite the recent tossing out of the lawsuit for lack of corroborating evidence) might have intended to use the tub of baked beans as a weapon to repel photographer Ian Whittaker from snapping pix of ex Liz Hurley, the potentially dangerous picnic food should be added to the “no-fly” list and confiscated if found in passenger’s belongings.

After all, the trained professionals who pat us down with wands before we can get on the plane are going after food now. My mother told me that before a recent flight, security personnel gave her breakfast a once over, and said that they would not allow her to bring a small container of yogurt aboard.

When she asked why, she was told that she was “over the limit” for liquid-type products.

Yeah. I can just see a terrorist (in the form of my 5’2” mother) leap from her seat, grab the nearest flight attendant around the throat and threaten to hijack the plane using a plastic container of live and active yogurt cultures.

Yet they let her keep her banana.

And you can do a lot more damage with a banana than you can with yogurt. You could put someone’s eye out. Or slowly poison them from the pesticides in the peel.

But baked beans?

Hell. You don’t want them, or any kind of food aboard.

Just ask Ian Whittaker. Or my mother.