the news/germ gap kills without
pausing for your vote
the news/germ gap kills without
pausing for your vote
Between that company in Germany Trump tried to get to exclusively make a vaccine for a America, and this latest story about him asking 3M to start shipping everything to America instead of other countries… it’s starting to feel like the story of some kid who wants to steal the exam he forgot to study for.
As usual, I am having trouble with the fact that Donald Trump’s base of support would eat a shit sandwich if he said it was a big brown chicken nugget.
As Agent Orange spitballs ideas such as paying people who don’t have sick leave, massive financial stimulus packages, and other socialistic methods to help patch the smoldering wreck that was his ‘beautiful stock market value’, I can’t help but wonder why no Republicans are screaming about Trump’s sudden socialist shift. I mean, this is obviously going to taint the free market.
Just to be clear, right now the biggest difference between Bernie’s version of socialism and Trump’s is that Bernie’s would actually be part of a cohesive plan, and not part of some knee-jerk, radioactive act of desperation.
In the world of material worship, socialism is an old testament god that may only be summoned in the event of an apocalyptic event. Specifically one that threatens the wealthy, as well as us lowly serfs.
I work in IT. And I have always felt that if your tech department is doing a really good job you don’t really see them around much. And, that’s actually a good thing.
But some people don’t always think so. Some people start to wonder what these techies do all day. Because, when everything is working certain people sometimes forget that things are there in the first place, and that there may actually be competent people behind them who keep things functioning.
Unfortunately, when all you care about is cutting costs, it can be easy to ignore the fine details. Besides, they just make things messy, and they only slow the necessary cuts. Just rip that bandaid off!
The thing is, eventually emergencies happen. And, in every life a little rain must fall. But, that’s also when you get to see where that roof you’ve been neglecting is leaking from.
Emergencies always exploit the weaknesses created by aggressively rapacious mismanagement (And remember, never underestimate the lengths those responsible for that systemic damage will go to in order to hide their culpability).
And that’s just doing tech support in most small business these days! HAHAHA! Could you imagine if that happened on a bigger scale? Like, if the President of the United States did something stupid like partially defunding the CDC, and hamstringing its ability to respond to something like a worldwide pandemic. And then to really F- things up, he puts a science-denying religious zealot in charge who would much prefer to take up snakes against us sinners, than to have to coordinate a scientifically based, global health effort meant to save our eternally damned asses.
Wake up at about 11:45 PM for an unknown reason. Decide to watch Dixville Notch vote at midnight. See 5 people check each other in to vote. Same billionaire wins both parties primaries. Lose faith in humanity. Try to go back to sleep, have trouble. Wake up again at 5:30 AM with a migraine that rivals some of the worst I’ve ever had. Wonder out loud (in colorful language) how I can drive to work today, let alone vote in a fucking presidential primary. Realize my problem is some sort of representative microcosm of American healthcare and politics. Lose a little more hope. Post about all of it in the hopes that I can convince more people to vote to compensate for everyone who can’t, or won’t, or who’ve been disenfranchised. Proceed to lay on couch while Bruce Cockburn’s ‘Call it Democracy’ bounces around inside my head.
Please get out and vote. Thank you
This is a repost. But since it’s 2019 and we’re dealing with a fucking measles outbreak in the United States, I think it needs to be said again!
There have always been those who feel that it’s best to allow our natural immune system to grow stronger by exposure to diseases and the like.
I agree. Kind of…
In fact that’s exactly how we ended up developing the concept of vaccinations. It was really based on the idea that limited exposure to the most virulent and deadly of human diseases could help the body build resistance to something so that when it was exposed to a full blown attack, it would now have sufficient defenses built up.
So far, so good. Right?
In fact it worked so well that within a number of decades many of the most dangerous and deadly diseases became controllable and some were even wiped out of natural existence. Ethics aside about the rights of the life forms themselves, it was a clearly a huge win for the science of vaccinations.
Then in the late 1990’s a fraud of a researcher named Andrew Wakefield released the results of a study that showed a direct link between vaccinations and autism. Since then his work has been completely discredited, but the false link between vaccinations and autism that he completely fabricated lives on in a lively group of followers, affectionately named “Anti-Vaxxers”.
Anti-Vaxxers believe in going back to the roots of our natural strength against disease, our amazing immune system. And in some cases, smaller and less lethal cases, they have a strong point. There is ample evidence that the more substances we are exposed to in our daily lives, the less allergies we develop. The more we live indoors breathing canned air, the less we tolerate those little bits of nature that irritate and bother us.
So what’s my point to all of this?
Chicken pox, mumps, etc. These are all things we dealt with in my childhood. There’s no doubt they made some people very sick, and were even deadly in some cases. But on the scale of virulent human diseases they were on the lower end of the scale, nothing like polio or even small pox.
I’m writing all of this because today I was visited by the memory of a man I knew when I was a kid. His name was Richard (Dick) Chaput. Dick was an author of the motivational/religious variety. He touched a lot of people’s lives, and was a bright light in a dark tunnel for many people who were suffering. He died many years ago, but even today there is a small blessing he wrote that stands outside of the little chapel at Storyland Amusement Park in Glenn, NH.
Why was he able to help so many who suffered? Well you see Dick was a victim of polio, a disease that we no longer see, quite simply because of vaccinations. He was confined to something called an Iron Lung, and spent his life without the use of his body, locked in this ancient machine that gave him the breath of life.
My friends and I used to love to go visit him and take him on a walk around the facilities he lived in. Since he could only be outside the Iron Lung for short periods, the nurses would load him on to a gurney and away we would go for a quick trip in the sunshine. He spoke constantly about God on these walks, and about God’s love. Dick saw God’s beauty in everything around him. I don’t care what your religious leanings, you can’t spend time around a person like that and not be inspired, even just a little.
And then there were the bells. He had a huge collection of bells all over his room, on shelves, in cabinets, just everywhere. He loved the sounds they made. I’m sure at some point he told me what they signified, and I could make a guess what it was, and I might even be right. But in the end he found joy in them. Simple joy in simple bells. To this day we have a strip of reindeer bells that hang on our door during the Christmas season that was originally meant as a gift for Dick, now it is a regular reminder of him for me.
But here’s the real point: Below is a picture of a man in an Iron Lung (it’s not Dick, I wish I had one of him). This is how I saw Dick every time I stopped by to visit. This is what polio did to him. Polio is now a preventable disease because of vaccinations. But it may not remain so. Just because something says “natural” or “organic” on it doesn’t mean that it’s superior. While there are a great many benefits to natural and organic things, science is not a fad. Vaccinations have done wonders for humans.
People used to have to live like Dick, locked in an iron prison in order to live. As time has passed less and less people remember these images, and the lack of memory somehow makes the history less real. But the diseases are real, and they can come back, and if they do they will kill.
There’s a limited amount of people like Dick out there, those who inspire. There are far more who prefer to profit from fear, who insinuate connections and conspiracies, and prey on our doubts. People like Wakefield.
So here is what I’d like: Just take a minute to look at the picture below. Does a vaccination with no proven link to autism really scare you more than living in a metal tube like this? Do you remember the real history of mortality in America only a generation or two ago?
It would be nice if Dick could somehow inspire people just once more. Even if it’s just to bring their kids in to get their shots so they won’t get themselves, and especially others, sick.
*The following is repost (technical difficulties) of the first part of a multi-part series on the rise of cannabis as a medicine, how it affects alcoholics and addicts in recovery, and how to go about changing the information we have in our minds.
On June 10, 1935 the modern recovery movement was born when Alcoholics Anonymous came into being. And with it came an entirely new way for society to view alcoholism. While this isn’t the only method for people to recover, it’s going to be my primary starting point for now.
AA presented alcoholism as a disease, and one with no known cure. They also offered an ongoing “treatment” for alcoholism that would help the sufferer keep their illness in remission. It soon became very well respected, primarily for the recoveries that it had helped foster. Rather than branching out into other problem areas in society, it instead offered up its 12-step formula to other organizations, to adapt as they saw fit to help other populations with different needs. AA also offered its help to the world of science and health, helping to catapult much of the medical research on alcoholism and addiction that we now benefit from. They firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another. AA also tried very hard to foresee the future in order to avoid falling prey to medical fads, or fickle politics. In doing so, it necessarily took a step back, offering no opinions or endorsements. It’s that kind of foresight that has allowed the program to help as many people as it has over the years. It also gave the mistaken impression to many that the organization itself was mired in the past, advocating faith-healing over science, and allowing people to blame their problems on a disease instead of taking responsibility.
On August 2, 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marijuana Tax Act, setting in motion an eighty-year assault on plant that had previously been cultivated for a variety of uses by Americans up until that point. The bill itself was drafted by Harry Anslinger, who served (not at all coincidentally) as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. There is more than enough evidence indicating that cannabis was already under assault on different fronts prior to this point, but history has also shown that Anslinger played a pivotal role in cannabis prohibition. And, like many of the other substances that were being regulated, and prohibited during this particularly active period of American puritanism, cannabis went from being a plant of many uses, to a fast and efficient way to ruins your life just from the penalties alone.
So, for 80 years those two worlds existed on parallel planes, rarely interacting. As the 12-step world grew and expanded to include organizations like Narcotics Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous, the idea of members using any sort of medicine that alters consciousness became taboo in church basements around the world.
It’s here where I need to step and explain something. I have and will use the terms organization, program, members, and culture to describe things like AA, and that isn’t accidental. It also needs to be pointed out that they aren’t synonymous with each other, something that becomes important as this narrative continues.
The organization of Alcoholics Anonymous is just that, the parent organization that exists to serve the groups, and individual members with information to aid in their recovery. This is the same type of organization that I mentioned had “firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another”. Unlike most organizations, they never set rules or requirements for their members to follow, at most they will offer suggestions. Not everyone at the organization is a member, let alone an alcoholic or addict. If asked about their position on different forms of cannabis being legally prescribed as medicine, or about recreational legalization, they would very likely say that they have no opinion on those kinds of issues.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous are those 12-step things you hear mentioned in TV and movies all of the time. If you actually use these twelve things to help you in life, you are following the program. You don’t need to be a member, or even an alcoholic or drug addict to use them. They were designed to be “open source” long before that was a term of use.
The members of Alcoholics Anonymous are just that, the people in the seats. Someone becomes a member when they say they are, that’s all there is to it. Of course, because the membership is made up of people who get to decide if they are members, or even if they are alcoholics at all, it is as flawed as and varied as people are in general. And while that means no one person is in charge, it also means that anyone who thinks they are, will try to be. I invite you to someday attend an AA meeting someday, and then randomly suggest they move their coffee pot across the room. Watch to see how many people think they are in charge. This will become is a crucial point in this narrative, because they are people with lots of opinions, who talk to each other all the time.
Finally, there is the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where most misunderstandings and conflicts arise within the world of recovery. And it’s here where opinions become dogma, regardless of evidence.
To be continued…
The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.
A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.
Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.
He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.
Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.
I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.
I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.
Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.
Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.
You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.
I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.
Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.
My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.
What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.
Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.
As funny as I find this entire story, let’s face it, healthcare in America should be treated like the criminal conspiracy that it is.
Don’t agree? Then by all means, please explain to me why helping other human beings stay alive and healthy should be monetized.
For example, despite the actual wording in these statements, tell me how these two situations actually differ:
1. “If you ever want to see your child again, you must pay $10,000 in small unmarked bills.”
2. “I’m sorry ma’am, but your son has a serious health issue that is fatal if not treated properly. However, it appears as though you have not hit your insurance copay limit, so this would cost you about $10,000 out of pocket… and it’s your only option.”