November 2005


Don’t get me wrong, I HATE cigarettes (at least the kind you buy at a gas station…I don’t mind pure tobacco either rolled at home or smoked from a pipe), but I’m a little suspicious of a study about which I just read. This study, from Japan, states that just 30 minutes of second-hand smoke exposure leads to hardening of the arteries. I’ll be honest…my gut reaction was “I knew it! Cigarettes are the devil!!!” But as my husband and I discussed it, he reminded me of the “junk science” of global warming and how similar it is to the left’s war on the tobacco industry.
I’ll be reading more about this – junkscience.com (my old buddy, Steve Malloy’s site) has a number of articles on the left’s hatred of big tobacco and the way in which they can manipulate “statistics” – and you can be sure that I’ll be writing more about it. In the meantime, go to Shamrock’s (On W. Walnut in Johnson City), buy some good old straight-from-the-fields tobacco and roll your own cigarettes (or smoke a pipe and look really dashing). At least that sort of tobacco smells good to us non-smokers…

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Our founding fathers, being keenly attuned to the goal of personal freedom, accurately analyzed the manner in which freedom was so trampled by the political systems from which they had fled in Europe. Their genius was the recognition that tyranny must be expected from unfettered governmental power. How wise they were, to separate our government into three branches, such that each could keep an eye on the other two.

But at this date, we’ve been inundated with another kind of thinking. John Dewey, from his post at Columbia University, exerted a socialist influence that has since spread to most of our educational system. Instead of a healthy distrust of governmental power, we look to it as our nanny. “Absurdity” is not too strong a word to describe many of the things that some folks believe government should do. A very recent example is the decision to spend tax money for sex-change surgery. We could write a whole catalog of such anecdotal cases, which to freedom-oriented people, are absurd to the point of insanity.

One might ask, “What does tax supported sex-change surgery have to do with freedom? Can’t we be a free society and also use our government resources to solve various and sundry problems?” In fact, we cannot. There is no bottom to the pit of various and sundry. With our focus on various and sundry, we lose track of the current status of the freedom which is being traded for various and sundry.

The Liberals, those who advocate a “nanny government”, are not in tune with the American people whose mind-set is oriented toward freedom. As one who has lived in a country with a totalitarian police state, where freedom is not even considered except as part of a lie, (the lie being that freedom means to live under their system) this writer knows some parallels between the totalitarian police state and our American Liberals and/or Socialists.

They both claim that the government is the solution.

They both assume the people are too stupid to take care of themselves.

They both assume that they, the elite, are somehow superior, and thus, have the right to rule.

They both are afraid of the people; so much so, that they try to eliminate free speech. (The police state does so by forbidding assembly; the U.S. Liberals do so by such devices as “political correctness”.)

They both fear an armed citizenry. The totalitarians, since they have the power, simply forbid it, while the American Liberals use all their propaganda machinery to make it appear that the right to bear arms is Neanderthal, and is not connected to the issue of freedom of the citizenry. (Would an emperor want his peasants armed?)

They both spring from the secular humanist philosophy which dictates that freedom is a gift from the state, as opposed to the thinking of our Founding Fathers, who recognized that freedom is God-given, thus the state must be suspected and prevented from taking the people’s God given freedom. Genius!
Liberalism is a kissing-cousin to Socialism, as Socialism is to Communism. Let’s check this out. Maybe I paint with too wide a brush. The parallels above reveal a kinship between Liberalism and Socialism. Let’s compare Socialism with Communism.

According to the dictionary, Socialism is the system in which the major means of production are owned by the state. My dictionary describes “Communism” as the state controlling the means of production, the distribution, and the consumption.

This all sounds so very sanitary, but in real life, it has not been so. In the Communist countries of China and Russia, millions upon millions of innocent citizens have been killed (the ultimate loss of freedom) for no just reason, whatever. Not in wars, just the fact that the government has the guns. The lucky ones are merely sent off to die in prison labor camps. The experience of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a prime example. He was a loyal officer in the Russian Army, fighting against Hitler’s Nazi forces, when he wrote a letter home mentioning his danger on account of the skill of a certain German officer who was directing the enemy forces. Solzhenitsyn had no rights, no freedom. His letter was intercepted, and his mention of the skill of the German officer was twisted. The Communist leaders decided that he was disloyal, on account of his “praise” of the German officer. For this totally innocent letter home, he spent eight years at hard labor in the freezing Siberian prison camp. After they let him out of prison, he was forced to live in Central Asia for another 4 years, before being allowed to return to his normal life.

With my own eyes, I saw the bullet chips on the statues and marks on the pavement left by the army tanks, which had run over the tents where the students slept in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China in early June of 1989. These students were accused of being criminals and enemies of the State. What did they do, to be judged thusly? They had PEACEFUL demonstrations asking for a bit of FREEDOM. They were totally unarmed. They didn’t even have sticks or stones. What did the Socialist state use against them? Guns and tanks! Under Socialism, the people have no rights. There is no appeal for justice. In the totalitarian socialist state, justice is whatever the government leaders SAY it is. If you don’t like it, tough beans, Charlie!

Why get all worked up over things that happen in other countries? The reason is that Liberalism, Socialism and Communism are LINKS IN THE SAME CHAIN. The chain designed to destroy freedom. If we are so foolish as to be blind to the connection between American Liberalism and the living Hells of Socialism and Communism, we will suffer the same fate as the forgotten heroes who were killed by their government in Tiananmen Square.

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Wesley Bailor, a native Oregonian and teacher, taught school in Arizona and Michigan. For three years, he lived in China, teaching and working with a people-to-people organization.

On November 8, San Francisco voters decided to ban handguns in their city (I’m supposing because it worked so well in Washington D.C. – you know, the murder capital of the country…). I’m dumfounded. Criminals break the law. This is what makes them criminals. Do the residents of San Francisco really think their gun ban is going to take guns out of the hands of criminals, or just out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who feel comfortable asserting their 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms? Shall I repeat myself? Criminals break the law. A gun ban is not going to take guns out of the hands of law-breakers; it will merely ensure that the criminals have a leg-up on their victims.

I challenge gun-phobes to put a sign in their front yard that reads “This home is gun free!!!” (Don’t really do this – you’re just asking for a break-in). What is the one thing that makes thieves think twice before breaking into a house? That the resident may be a gun owner. No, I’m not making this up – Public Defender for the 1st district, David Bautista (a gun-owner), routinely asks his clients that very question…and gets the same answer just about every time.

Another interesting point…it would seem that those who favor gun bans only like some of the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. They like freedom of speech, freedom FROM (not of) religion, and, God forbid anyone take away their freedom of choice. But that pesky old 2nd amendment gets ’em every time. Are you afraid of me because I own a gun? Unless you plan on attacking me sometime in the near future, you shouldn’t be. As a law-abiding citizen I shall only use my gun if my life is in danger (or to decimate a target at the shooting range!), but what happens if my right to carry that gun is taken away? What defense will I have against a gun-wielding rapist? Do pardon me, but I’ll be damned if anyone is going to take away my right to protect myself (so I clearly won’t be moving to San Fran anytime soon.)

While the 278th has received a wonderful welcome home from Iraq, it was recently brought to my attention by Dustin Goforth (ETSU student and SGA member) that our local Lima Company has also recently returned from service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rumor has it that the PR director for Lima Company “dropped the ball” in letting the public know about their service, but I would like to take this opportunity, in my tiny little spot in the cyberspace, to let you know that Lima Company also deserves a big “thank you”. If you know the names of any of the service members in Lima Company, feel free to post a personal thank you in the comments section of this post. Or, if you would like to thank any or all of our service members, feel free to do that, too! THANK YOU, LIMA COMPANY, FOR YOUR SERVICE!!!

The Madman is heralded as the piece that opened the door for postmodernism as it relates to the acceptance of meaning from places and things other than God (Wikipedia, para.2). Though most point merely to the line, “God is dead” (Kaufmann, p. 95), to assert the end of the meaning of life as based on religion, the text in its entirety could suggest just the opposite. I will here argue that The Madman, when taken by itself, may actually suggest that God is not dead; however when taken in conjunction with Nietzsche’s later works The Madman implies that, in his opinion, reason has, in fact, essentially killed God.
Additionally, throughout Nietzsche’s work he asserts the improvements to existence that are possible once God is dead. The major improvement that Nietzsche believes will stem from the death of God is the rise of the over-man (or over-men), although he also argues that mankind will be happier and more successful without a belief in God hindering our progress. As it relates to postmodernism, Nietzsche’s work undoubtedly ushered in an acceptance of meaning from values that did not stem from religion, and made rejection of God an acceptable humanitarian and intellectual endeavor insofar as a Godless society has room for the over-man and an expansion of philosophical thought.
We must first discuss who God must be if He is, in fact, something that can be killed. If God can die or merely cease to exist, then He must not be what the Judeo-Christian tradition has conventionally believed Him to be – an all-powerful, infinite being. According to Nietzsche, God is an idea that was manifested through the misery of mankind. Those who were unhappy with existence came up with the idea for another world in which there would be justice – the poor and miserable in this life would be rich and happy in the next life, while the rich and happy in this life would have the opposite fate in the next. Citing this, Nietzsche asserts that God is merely an idea that stems from human weakness; as an idea, God can cease to exist, die, or be killed.
There are two different ways one could interpret The Madman. The first is that God really is dead and those in the marketplace and in the churches simply do not yet realize it – or don’t care, as in the case of those in the marketplace who don’t believe in God. If this is the case, then God is not what traditional Christianity thinks that He is. According to standard Christian metaphysical beliefs, specifically those put forth by Descartes, God holds the earth in place, keeps us from falling into nothingness, maintains the laws of nature such as gravity, makes the sun rise in the morning, regulates the temperature, and so on. If it is true that God is dead, then it would stand to reason that, based upon the ideas of Descartes and/or traditional Christianity either the earth is falling into nothingness, or God is not what He was once thought to be. It appears that Nietzsche is implying the latter. In his panic over the apparent death of God, the Madman says:
Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? (Kaufman, p.95).
Because the earth has clearly not fallen out of existence, if the Madman is correct in his assertion that God is dead, then God, rather than being the one who maintains the universe, is merely an idea. For how can one kill God if He is really what Christians claim that He is? The madman does, however, say, “I come too early…my time has not come yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering…” (Kaufman, p.96). It could be that God is not yet dead, but well on His way to being so.
It is telling that Nietzsche uses a Madman to be the one to herald the death of God, rather than a scientist or philosopher. A scientist or philosopher would most likely not experience panic when considering the death of God as the Madman does, either because the scientist or philosopher never believed in the existence of God, or at least lost his or her belief more gradually. One may say that the scientist and the philosopher are the ones who killed God; the scientist through his theory of evolution and the philosopher with his reason. If this is the case, then the scientist and the philosopher would certainly not be surprised or concerned about the death of God. Many of those who are in the marketplace when the Madman arrives to announce the death of God did not believe in His existence in the first place, and find it rather amusing that the Madman believes that there was a God to kill, or, at the very least, a God who was important enough for His death to cause such distress. These people – the scientist, the philosopher, and those in the marketplace – could be in the early stages of being over-men, by Nietzsche’s definition. Although to a lesser extent among those in the marketplace, these people have created values through their reaction, or lack thereof, to the news of the death of God.
Another possible interpretation of The Madman, however, is one in which God is exactly who Judeo-Christian theology claims that He is and, because the earth has not fallen out of existence, He is surely not dead. Taken by itself, The Madman can reasonably be understood in this way. One may say that the Madman is foolish to believe that God is dead, and those in the marketplace are merely those who never have and possibly never will believe in God. Although there is a slightly sarcastic tone in Nietzsche’s writing, one may overlook the irony of the Madman crying out in despair over the death of One who cannot, by definition, die and assume that Nietzsche is attempting to prove just the opposite – that God is not dead. In this interpretation one may assume that Nietzsche chose to make the Madman the one who heralds the death of God in order to show that only an idiot would claim such a thing. For if God is who the Christian believes He is, then nothing can kill Him, and only a fool would claim that He is dead. It could also be assumed that the Madman really did “come too soon” as he asserts after his announcement to those in the marketplace. It could be that God is not yet dead, although science and reason have paved the way for the end of mankind’s dependence on someone not of this world against which we measure ourselves. This interpretation, however, may only be gleaned if one takes The Madman entirely out of context.
Throughout The Gay Science Nietzsche asserts his disdain for standard religious and moral thought. Nietzsche believes that religion is a failure of the intellect and that the reason for the growth and progression of religion can be traced to dissatisfaction with existence (Nietzsche, p.196). The origins of belief in an alternate universe, according to Nietzsche, stems from, in addition to the dissatisfaction with existence mentioned earlier, the two-world thesis of Platonism. According to the two-world thesis there is a super-sensuous world, which is the true world, and the sensible world, which is the world of appearances (the empirical world). The super-sensuous world is that for which we strive while the sensible world is merely the world we must endure until we reach the super-sensuous. Nietzsche disapproves of the Platonist two-world thesis as well as the Christian version of heaven and earth in that it places focus on that which we can never experience in this life. As an Existentialist, Nietzsche believes that the focus of one’s life on something that can never be achieved is detrimental to the life that one actually lives, and should thus be disregarded. In striving toward the super-sensuous world (or heaven, or utopia, or whatever) Nietzsche believes that we miss out on what could, realistically, be the only world in which we may ever live.
Without God, Nietzsche believes that we may live happier, more colorful lives in which we may doubt without guilt, fear not of demons, and strive toward something that we may actually achieve (Nietzsche, p. 196-197). Doubt, for many in the Christian faith (although I will not concede all) is a sin; one must believe in the existence of God and the death on the cross without question for fear of retribution. If God has been killed by reason, then we are free to doubt the one who no longer exists. Nietzsche believes that the death of God will mean the advance of philosophy for “What was philosophy when doubt was experienced as a sin of the most dangerous kind – as mistrust of all that was good, high pure, and merciful?” (Nietzsche, p.197). So long as God is dead, the philosopher may examine ideas that were closed to her in the past, such as the creation of values. Nietzsche does not, however, take into account those who will not believe his message for the very reason he claims to be destroying through his writings – their refusal to doubt God for fear of doubting being a sin. There are many who will not accept the death of God because they have already examined their beliefs and are comfortable with the evidence or because they are still afraid to doubt. It is not necessary, though, for one to believe that God is dead to be a philosopher or an over-man; so, while Nietzsche’s world may be improved by the death of God, it is not necessary for God to be no more in order for one to doubt without guilt, fear not of demons, and strive toward something that we may actually achieve.
Nietzsche claims that without God we shall not fear demons and may now have passion for those things that we were once afraid. So, for those practicing this religion to which Nietzsche refers, this may be the real temptation for the ones who are and remain fearful of doubt as a sin. Even though one may not doubt the existence of God, the passions are an attraction that not all may be able to resist, especially if reason destroys belief in demons (and we may hope that it does!). If one may consider that demons are not something to be feared, simply because they do not fit with reason, then we are free to pursue passions that may improve mankind (although there is the chance that these same passions may destroy mankind). As man strives for those passions, some men will become great, and we shall then have something new against which we may measure ourselves. When man relies on God for his ultimate goal, we are forever disappointed in our inability to achieve perfection. When, however, we gain our striving from man, we may realistically believe that we may one day achieve that for which we are striving.
The question now is who is going to become the one that is our new goal. The over-man is one who has come to despise himself and the world around him and, with his own energy and desire, has become someone better than man once was. Once one has come to believe that God is dead, one may feel desperation or a lack of purpose. However, according to Nietzsche, this, in certain individuals, will lead to an overcoming of his or her dismal surroundings. This person may or may not know what sort of impact they will have on the world, but through his/her actions are creating or altering values. Take Nietzsche, for example; Nietzsche may have felt sadness or despair (or possibly anger) at the state of mankind, which made him want something greater toward which to strive. Without God, Nietzsche could have chosen another person after which to model himself, he could have given up and allowed his illnesses to overtake his body, or, through his writings, could have shown the importance of philosophy. Nietzsche was frustrated by the focus of the people of his day on the afterlife. Nietzsche wanted to focus on existence as it is now, not what it may or may not be at some point in the future. Because of this, Nietzsche focused on his writing, making it clear that he believed present existence to be far more important than the religious afterlife touted by his peers. In this way, Nietzsche created values, which is the primary objective of the over-man, whether or not the over-man is aware of his doing so.
Then again, there is a possibility that the over-man will not show himself for a long while and that during that time spent waiting, mankind could fall into an irreparable despair. For ages man has defined and measured himself against God, the highest being. Once reason kills the idea of God, then we must have something that will replace him or there is a risk of falling into an irredeemable mediocrity. Nietzsche claims that mankind created God to fill a void; without something to fill that void, what shall we then do?
Throughout The Gay Science Nietzsche builds either a straw-man of Christianity or gives a characterization of only a certain sect of Christianity (I am assuming that Nietzsche’s assertions are primarily against Christianity, as he speaks of the saints and refers to God rather than Allah or Buddha). There are many branches of the faith today, as I am sure there were at least a few in Nietzsche’s day, who do not distrust philosophy or find doubt or questioning to be a sin, as the sin of doubt is not scriptural (although many may admittedly take the story of Doubting Thomas as some indication that doubt is a sin, there is no biblical command forbidding doubt). There are also many Christians who either do not believe in demons or who feel that they are certainly nothing to be feared, again because any biblical reference to demons are used to show the power of God, not to provoke a fear of them. While one may realistically argue that striving to be Christ-like is frustrating, for it is something one will never achieve, this particular striving does not lessen the importance of the over-man. One could easily argue that St. Paul, St. Augustine, and John Calvin were over-men like whom we should strive to become, and this in no way diminishes either the importance of the over-men or the importance of Christ; and as Paul, Augustine, and Calvin were all members of the masses until they overcame mankind, it is not unreasonable to believe that we could become like them.
While Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God more than one hundred years ago, belief in God has remained consistent, if not growing slightly in the last decades. Although, it would seem, that we have become a more reasonable people with more information available to more individuals each day, belief in God has not waned. Can reason truly kill God? There is little doubt, when taken in conjunction with his other works, that Nietzsche believed that God (or, more accurately, the idea of God) was dead. His disdain for religion, passion for present existence, and devotion to reason gave cause to Nietzsche’s claim that reason had killed God; that does not, however, make it so. Even if God is merely an idea, dissatisfaction with life, it seems, has and shall continue and the desire for an afterlife in which justice is the rule will persist.
One may sensibly assume that the Madman did, in fact, come too soon. Although reason has made it not only possible but also acceptable for some to reject the existence of God, reason does not make it possible or acceptable for all. Those who face the evidence and find it to be adequate, those who are afraid to doubt, those unhappy with their existence, or those who think not apart from the teachings of their childhood – even with the influence of the over-man – will not give up their belief in God, and thus He shall not be killed.
Despite Nietzsche’s strong beliefs that religion is detrimental to the progression of mankind, reason and his Madman’s declaration of the death of God was simply not enough to actually kill God. God, even if He is only an idea, is alive and well just as He was during Nietzsche’s time. Neither has belief in God hindered mankind’s progression over the last century, as science and philosophy continue to advance by leaps and bounds (although this is arguable, in that some may point to stem-cell research as an aspect of science that has been hindered by religion). This is not to say, however, that Nietzsche’s work was without impact. An over-man himself, Nietzsche created values by declaring (although arguably falsely) that God is dead, in that he made it acceptable to turn from traditional standards and find meaning in one’s present existence rather than in some future world.
References:
Kaufman, Walter. The Portable Nietzsche. Viking Penguin Press, 1982 (latest printing).
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science.(Translated by Walter Kaufman) Random House, Inc., 1974.
Wikipedia, Definition of Postmodern Philosophy. Retrieved on October 29, 2005 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodern_philosophy

RIGHT ON! I just saw a report on the Today Show (I don’t have cable, so my morning news options are limited) about restaurants in the Chicago area who are enacting rules for children who are dining in their establishments. One coffee shop has posted a sign politely asking parents to ensure that their children use “inside voices”. I say, “IT’S ABOUT TIME!” Don’t get me wrong, I love children. My husband and I want a house filled with children…but we, unlike so many parents today, plan to teach our children to behave.
Working in the customer service industry I can remember wanting desperately to be able to admonish parents to get their kids under control, so I am glad that stores and restaurants are taking the initiative to not only teach children how to behave in public if the parents aren’t going to, but also to ensure that patrons who are irritated by the behavior of out-of-control children are not driven out of their minds when trying to eat or shop. I can remember, when working at Victoria’s Secret, being on dressing room duty and seeing a couple of little boys sticking their heads under the doors to see the women in the changing rooms. The mother said and did nothing – and neither could I for fear of insulting the mommy who thought her little boys were “just being boys” (and thus losing my job.)
The funny thing is that the parents with the monster children are upset that anyone would ever dare tell them how to raise their little darlings…they’re staging boycotts and whine-fests. I like the boycott idea…if you can’t keep your children under control and you don’t like going to places where the owners force you to keep your children quiet, then that’s just fine with me. I would never advocate the state coming in and telling you how to raise you’re children, but business-owners have every right to say “keep your children under control, or leave.” Don’t like it? Go someplace else.
I have recently heard that some establishments, however, are banning children altogether. With this I do not agree. We cannot punish the entire population for the flaws of a few. I have a number of friends whose children are better behaved than a lot of adults I know, and to forbid them from frequenting certain establishments is ridiculous.
So, business owners, my suggestion to you is to take some initiative and set up some behavior guidelines for children (and maybe grown-ups, too) who enter your establishment. “Inside voices” is a nice requirement, as is not using the store as a playground. But don’t dare ban children altogether, or you may miss out on some wonderful patrons.
And parents, children need rules (oh, and they actually need to be forced to follow them). Swallow your pride and admit it if your kids are out-of-control. There is nothing good about letting your children do what they want…how will they learn to be productive members of society if they don’t understand that certain behaviors are simply unacceptable? (such as peeking under the changing room doors at the Victoria’s Secret.)

As an unbelievably high strung, naturally anxious individual, I started taking Paxil years ago to control anxiety and panic attacks. When Effexor came on the market claiming to be a “cure” rather than a “take this little pill for the rest of your life and you’ll be fine”, I asked my doctor about it and we decided that it would be the best option for me. Over the last couple of years I have taken Effexor and have been cured, as far as my doctor and I can tell, of anxiety disorder. Overall I’ve been pleased with Effexor.
When I began discussing with my doctor the possibility of pregnancy in the near future and my desire to stop taking Effexor for the health of the baby, I was told that Effexor was safe to use during pregnancy (and it may even be better to continue taking the medicine rather than risk the stress levels associated with anxiety disorder.) Because I have quite a healthy distrust of the medical profession in general, I did my own research on the subject of the use of Effexor during pregnancy and discovered that, other than withdrawal symptoms in infants following birth, Effexor has been deemed safe. Nevertheless, I decided that, having been symptom free for well over 6 months, I wanted to start the process of being weaned off the medication (it is terribly unsafe to stop taking anti-depressants cold turkey – which made me wonder how it can be safe to suddenly stop the medication to an infant following delivery.) Over the last year my doctor and I have been working on slowly decreasing the medication, finally dropping down to the lowest dosage and stopping the medication altogether. I have never been so violently ill in all my life. For the last week I have been fatigued beyond belief, going to bed around 7 each night and still feeling ill-rested. I feel feverish but have no fever. I’m starving, nauseated, and sickened by strong smells (no, I’m not yet pregnant…although the thought did occur to me.) I have tremors, cold sweats, hot flashes that involve shivering, and bouts of violent shakes. I have missed more school in the last two weeks than I have in the last year and a half combined. I went to the doctor yesterday only to find out that the culprit is my body’s reaction to Effexor withdrawal.
I know that each person is different, and each reaction to medication is different, but I can’t help but wonder that if my reaction to being weaned off the medication was so violent, what in the world would it do to an infant being taken off the medication following delivery.
Please don’t take your doctor’s word for anything! I have a wonderful physician who, I am certain, would never intentionally encourage me to make a decision that would be detrimental to my health or the health of my family. But even doctors make mistakes. Please stay informed. Do not let someone else make decisions about your health. WebMD is a wonderful website that will help you understand everything from coughing to cancer and the medications associated with each. While you’re there, look up Effexor XR and the symptoms associated with stopping the medication…