We’re juiced up and running


Right now I’m sitting here downing a can of diet soft drink, revved on caffeine and aspartame — OK, not too smart. And I’m juiced up.

Like Vice President Joe Biden during his debate. He was juiced with jeering smiles and frequent interruptions. His slap-happy smirks looked like caffeine and aspartame wrapped in steroids, but he’s a nice guy anyway.

Forty percent of surgeons have said they felt burned out, according to the Annals of Surgery. Turning that around, one supposes that 60 percent of firemen have felt like cutting up on the job.

Being juiced up seems to be the dossier of the day right now. Even our home appliances and power lines are affecting us. The electromagnetism weakens the cancer-battling hormone, melatonin. And the radiation from mobile phones seems to damage the blood-brain barrier, which is the membrane that keeps harmful substances out.

So when Felix Baumgartner jumped from a capsule 24 miles above the Earth some time back, maybe it was his brain barrier that was invaded, rather than the sound barrier.

“It was harder than I expected,” he said.

The entire outdoors are more juiced up this year. Plants in England blossomed weeks earlier than they had in four decades, which one naturalist says is “the strongest biological signal yet of climatic change.” These changes cause viruses, bacteria and fungi to flourish in plants, animals and humans, all of which is alarming scientists.

And, juiced up — that’s what Lance Armstrong was all along, they now say. Seven times he topped the Tour de France on his bike, but 26 people claim that he and his team-mates used performance-enhancing drugs. They say he was the driving force — in more ways than one — behind a doping conspiracy of which he was the king pin.

That was nothing, though. The American military has been on the take for quite some time, with the U.S. spending nearly $8 trillion on defense since 9/11. The U.S. has 1,000 or more bases around the world and spends as much on its military as the next 14 powers combined. The expense of all this is blowing a hole in our treasury, with the national security budget of 2013 at nearly $1 trillion, according to National Priorities Project analysts. The national security budget must be high on something.

Then, if you happen to have a TV set, you’ve been privy to the most giganticized super-election of all time. It started earlier, has scores of super PACs, hundreds of focus groups, thousands of polls, hundreds of thousands of TV ads, $3 billion given to political consultants, and reams of commentaries about what could be the dreariest election ever.

Not that there aren’t advantages to getting high. A new study says that anger in the workplace earns more respect from colleagues and more chances for advancement. There’s even good news about that friendly juicer-upper, coffee. Drinking three or four cups a day for several years is now said to keep Alzheimer’s disease away. Austerity, it seems, doesn’t work with your morning cup of coffee, any more than it does with the economy — though it does with those ugly, dangerous power-drinks we see around.

The best news, though, is that lying around doing nothing is good for your health, according to a German researcher. Moderate exercise is helpful, but “people who laze in a hammock instead of running a marathon, or who take a midday nap instead of playing squash, have a better chance of living into old age.”

Whether nowadays we prefer to run at full-throttle — juiced up — or lie back and take it slow, you decide. As for me, I’m heading for my easy-chair — for health reasons, of course.

Kozeny has worked as a teacher, counselor and in pastoral ministry. He can be reached by email to tko-z@sdc.org.