Friday, September 28, 2007

Cure for Cancer, page 7 below the fold

I don't know how closely it's being followed, but the drug developed at the University of Alberta that has been shown to stop and shrink cancer cells in rats is going to human trial. This is taking place without major funding from pharmaceuticals and is relying only on grants and donations from private citizens. I'm not surprised that the pharms are hedging their bets by shutting down a drug cash cow like cancer. If tumours can be stopped from growing or shrunk, they're going to have to rely on AIDS and athlete's foot to fill their coffers. Whether or not major pharmaceuticals intend to sue for restraint of trade is unclear. At the moment a doctor who took an oath to help the sick with his expertise is going to test his new drug on patients with large tumours in their brains. The funding will last for one year during which extensive testing will be done on the patients who receive the treatment.

I know I should be excited, shouting in the streets and so on. I should be screaming that this progress is underwhelming and no-one is making enough of a fuss. The police opened fire in Myanmar yesterday, they shot into a crowd of protesters and they've been hauling monks off in trucks. No-one knows where they are being taken too and that worries me more than the rest.

A woman in Ohio was electrocuted last night during her arrest. The officer claimed she wouldn't calm down. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned beating? Was this officer too self-conscious to physically subdue a small woman? And how did he expect her to calm down with 50,000 volts going through her body? These police actions deeply disturb me. I notice our government making no protest. I notice no member of the leadership discussing these events. I worry that these electrocution devices are in the hands of our police officers too. I can't help but wonder how long it will take for this to happen here.

We should be in a state of euphoric rage today. We should be passionate about the chance to kill a nefarious disease. We should be appalled at the actions of the police in Burma and enraged at the actions of police in the US. We are quiet, we don't want it to be us. Don't single us out with your high-voltage spotlight, we're just going along.

This is where to donate funds to cure cancer. Cure it. Not stop it, stymie it, manage it or live with it. This is where we can save each other from something bigger than our own hubris. Why in times to come, we may end up taking it as a preventative in order to live peacefully next to solid, reliable cooling towers.

This is a cure that doesn't milk the ill. While police assault us the world over, let us help each other live today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"tazering" is not a verb

I haven't yet been able to process what I've seen. I'm glad there was a protest, I'm glad there are some people who were upset that students present at the incident in Florida (why is it always Florida?) did nothing.

I have only been able to come up with one thing so far, surely there will be more to follow: there is no verb that means "to tazer" or "to administer shock with a tazer or stun-gun". The verb is electrocution. A tazer is a small, portable electrocution device designed to administer a non-lethal dose of electric current to a human body. We haven't written human rights laws to address such a thing. We have technology originally designed to drive cattle being used on humans by police. Apparently because it is "non-lethal" the practice is seen as effective and thoughtful instead of the administration of a bullet from a gun or a beating with a baton.

In order to properly subdue a person of average size, a huge amount of electricity is needed. The body must be stopped in a seizure where muscles and nerve endings do not respond to weaker electrical impulses from the brain. Doctors were condemned for the harmful and inappropriate use of electric shocks administered as "therapy" to the mentally ill. So much so that if it is to be used now in the most extreme cases, the patient is properly anesthetized first.

We all saw the photos of Abu Ghraib and now it seems that the use of electrocution is becoming both more public and identifiable. Not only is this practice used in prisons, but if the practice is seen outside of a prison, the person being electrocuted must have deserved it somehow.

Would Jon Stewart be talking about how much this child was a douche bag if he hadn't been publicly electrocuted? Probably. He was. But was he such a nuisance that police needed to administer 50,000 volts to his body? I have to say, I doubt it. If that were an applicable ratio, Ashcroft would have been barbecued alive for his soaring eagle karaoke number.

I can't make sense of it at the moment, I haven't yet wrapped my raw, uncooked brain around it. I have only this as an offer and a reminder: tazer is an acronym. It stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. The word for what the weapon does is electrocution. That is the verb. But it's not what we're talking about.

He wasn't "tazered", "overly restrained", "improperly subdued" or anything else we're hearing. He was silenced by only one act:


Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy B-day Lou

It's today guppies, the annual reminder that my time on this earth is finite. Year after year I am reminded of who I share this day with. What celebrities, what historical figures, what great dramas took place etc. Outside my own life, the dramas seem a little ho-hum, and although I enjoy the fact that Jim Henson makes my birthday auspicious by sharing it (albeit 40 years earlier) what struck me today was a third person who also will be cutting cake and tipping tiny conical hats to health and good fortune today. And he'll need it! Lou Dobbs will be cracking the champers and on today of all days, I am thrilled to realize that perhaps the polar opposite of me is winking and singing too.

Lou's fictitious War on the Middle Class has done more damage to middle class values than many of the right-wing anti-family "values" proposals of the last few decades have. The Middle Class in America was created out of nowhere and has been under attack since it's inception. The rich cease to get as rich as they can, excuse me, cease to "fully realize their potential" when the gap between rich and poor is bridged. True the bridge is mostly white, heterosexual couples trapped in backbreaking indentured servitude, but in exchange they get to pass on their debt to their children and live in slightly less squalor than other unfortunates.

Lou's position on the matter is that import/export trade and immigration are to blame. Companies downsizing and outsourcing to where labour is cheaper are the bedrock of his argument. He also decries the embarrassing national habit of hiring illegal immigrants in order to pay employees at rates below the poverty line. What he never seems to get at in these arguments are the qualities of life of the american or mexican, indian, shri-lankan or any other people who do these degrading and exhausting jobs. It is his view that americans would prefer to have the jobs offered to citizens of other countries and that import/export trade is only agreeable with protectionist tariffs that stymie any profitable resource exchange between competing countries.

You'd think that someone in this frame of mind would talk about the femicide happening in Juarez linked directly with the conglomerate factories these women work (ed) at. You'd think that he would speak ashamedly about his country's leaders stand on the softwood lumber fiasco. You'd think he might decry the disgusting treatment of factory workers who sew shoes and pj's together for a pittance. What he actually discusses more than anything else is xenophobia and how it directs his judgment. "These people" a phrase interchangeable with any non-american person who takes a job they are offered by an american conglomerate either in the US or outside, is how he describes the "thieves" who are sucking dry the economic stability of a strong and prosperous nation. Nonsense. He makes out any country interested in trade or employment as a conniving, currency-controlling vizier who profits off the losses of downtrodden american heroes.

Dobbs fails to ever hold accountable american companies who raid pensions, bust-unions, manipulate markets and outright steal from anyone with something they want. He fails to discuss the humiliation that faces anyone who works in the new plantations and factories of today. He fails to discuss the indentured servitude of middle-class workers across the board whose savings deteriorate to the favour of market investment, whose public education is compromised by faulty system management and lack of funding, whose health is in jeopardy from day one as insurance companies gobble what they can from the healthy and the sick (much like a virus will). Dobbs addresses only the most sensationalist items in his "war on the middle class", a position perfectly acceptable in his position as "upper middle class", a journalist on CNN.

He gravely waggles his jowls when discussing leprosy, but fails to address the rampant tuberculosis on native reservations and small-pox in ghettos. He condemns the outsourcing of jobs to lower-wage workers in other countries, but fails to address the deliberate wage suppression of women in north america. He refuses to admit that the entire basis on which we trade with ourselves permits and endorses segregation, suppression of innovation, cannibalization and of course monopolies. Anti-trust laws and fraud prosecution are a joke I would spend more time laughing at if the non-prosecution of rape weren't a more pressing comedy to me.

Happy birthday Lou. We share this day with many greats and many mediocres. This is the accepted date of the Prophet's completion of his migration to Yathrib, now called Medina where God, through an angel and then him codified the freedom of women to inherit property, get a divorce, the condemnation of female infanticide and the ability of women to attain paradise on their own merits independent of their husbands. We've come a long way baby.

Crack some bolly, you can afford it. And do give yourself a pat on the back for creating and circulating the most useful propaganda today to ignore the human rights violations and fraudulent practices of the most powerful companies in your country. And all under the guise of claiming they are declaring war on your middle class! Well played Dobbs, well played.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Is it coincidence that an epic battle between me and my father came just last Friday as the troops donned their helmets and walked out into the glory of by-election campaigning? It had been going on for a while already, but the crunch came on the weekend when the Liberals finally remembered to show up for a bit to find the riding's dance card already full.

I had crazy dreams and weird hyperactivity while the good people of Ontario drew conclusions about the nature of church and education. I can't help but notice how often I get to yelling about a change coming, and then when it all seems out of control, the tide turns left.

The gains by the Conservatives in other ridings bother me. There is a huge xenophobic vote in this province which the sovereigntists have always made off with like bandits. This time it's Blue or Bust and the battered Bloc looks on amazed. Dion looked sad, truly sad. He can see the end of his political career from here, and some are now speculating if the Liberal party should start putting resources into Quebec. Too little, too late. The memories here are long, and the tolerance of pandering is at an all time low these days.

The NDP win fundamentally changes the political landscape of my beloved country. The most progressive, social and steadfast province in the country has usually held her ground with a strong sovereign message. Using it to stand up to federal negotiations, for good or bad, always gave us a trump card. Now the federalists are going to have to stand face to face with each other instead of the glacial blue stare of a self-interested nation-leader. The ground fights will be filthy and entertaining.

If it can be seen that the NDP can stand for the values and desires of Quebec as a province, we might have some hope yet for the rest of the country. I shall not be careful what I wish for today, the next federal election certainly won't happen this year as neither the Liberal or Bloc party can benefit from it. I'm betting on 2009, just enough time for Danny Williams to found the Progressive Conservative Party of our time. Imagine for a moment how much fun a clash of the giants would be with Williams head-to-head with Layton for leadership of this country while simultaneously ousting Harper to the oil-slicked ring of hell I've carved out for him! He and Preston Manning could open a small taco-stand in Medicine Hat and console each other on cold winter nights.

I can see it now, a joyful if far-fetched circumstance. An election with a choice of leaders to vote for instead of against.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

exorcism: in case you should need it.

Get thee where satan?

Behind me? No. I want you right in front where I can see you. I know you're there, you were able to implant your thoughts into my mind, your beliefs that disguise themselves as mine. I know what happens when I sound the triggers. The self-destruction device also implanted at the time of my creation activates at certain words. When you get trapped, when you feel less like a victim, when you demand my attention, when you suddenly have to stand on your own. These are times of fear and discomfort. These are times that you see as unfair. This is when the red button flashes and I start to shake and melt. Chunks fall from me and splat gelatinous at your feet. You can feed on them or pick up my acidic frame to console yourself with.

Get thee before me devil, so I can prod you along at the length of a choke-staff. Keep your hands where I can see them always. I command you now: step out from behind my right shoulder, stand and face me coward. Do not turn as I exorcise your tantrums, your demands are yours, not mine to nurture.

Get thee before me devil, turn and stand upright to hear my confession. Spout your lies and refusals; they are of no consequence. Face me and see what you have done.

Get thee before me devil, your redemption is not in my power or responsibility.

Leave devil, turn and be your own. Get thee before me, that I turn and leave you in your circle. Wail to all you wish, your screams are dense enough to float me peacefully to freedom.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

lest we remember

It's the next day after the 6th anniversary. I didn't know what to say then, I don't know what to say now. We all shook, there was a little shock, a little awe, and then the dumbest excursion since the Bay of Pigs which is still going on even now.

I'm a grudge-cuddler. I don't tend to give in when it comes right down to most things. As I recall I still haven't heard a retraction or apology for Canada's border being blamed for the incident. I haven't heard any kind of accountability for the torture of Maher Arar from either government involved. All kinds of freakish nonsense was slung back and forth during the second election since the war started. We seem to be exhausted, our minds wishing for some small relief while we are asked by our leaders almost daily to stretch and wrap our cranial taffy around the most insidious, self-destructive stupidity they can contrive.

Shall I wail today? The body count of women in Juarez is over a thousand now. Flowers flutter on pink crosses in the desert. We wait for respite, an end to the killing. New Orleans is quickly being gentrified into an acceptable back-lot for Trent, whose house needs a better view than the poor and the desperate. Darfur is a memory, the Sudan a country that doesn't matter, that never has mattered to anyone who stole a generation of it's citizens to haul cotton in the newly-gentrified homeland. The First Nations people stand smaller and more forgettable daily. Native women are still sterilized routinely, there is no need then to continue to hunt them.

We are a world and at times when the profiteers can and do, we lose ourselves. We see our connections, so fragile, torn to pieces amid exchanges of paper and knowing looks on white faces. Shall I remember today that hundreds of people who's full-time work required them to know about terrorist attacks warned the sitting "president" that such an attack was imminent? Shall I recall today that he did not win the presidency, but sat anyway, where he was told. Shall I recall the faces of those who didn't want any of this? Who never imagined this was a good idea? Shall we mourn for Uncle Milty, who was so proud these last few years?

I have wrung demands over and over for a leader with intelligence, charisma and vision. Another anyone who can and will stand for life and illumination over death and circular nonsense. I have heard no answer, no apology, no intention to change the "status quo", to "disturb the peace" to insist on better.

Today, the sixth anniversary of the next day, let us look to who we are now, lest we forget that all of us everywhere, were born human.