29 November, 2013

Hospital Daze

From Eva's Facebook timeline, posted between 3 and 4:00 this morning:

Trying to sleep in a hospital bed is rather like trying to sleep in a subway station and the heat is on full blast!

There is much more frustration behind this comment than you can probably discern. You see, it was at that time -11C (12F) in Guelph where Eva is. No wind chill. Eva's sole concession to a temperature like that, normally, is to turn one of the four fans in our bedroom from high to medium.  Oh, and she'll probably don one (1) thin blanket to go with her sheet. (In case you're wondering, if there's a temperature at which the bedroom window gets closed and the fans get turned off, we have never experienced it.)
Also, we have a Sleep Number bed, which is the most comfortable bed anyone has ever slept on by definition because you get to make it that way. In hospital beds, the number is permanently set at 666. Eva actually slept for four hours last night, which is about five hours more sleep than I thought she'd get. (I, meanwhile, damned near slept the clock around. The night before Eva's surgery, she slept just fine. I got three hours, and then from 11:42 on, I was up. Partly that was me stressing, partly it was the fact I'd just worked seven straight night shifts, but by the time I got home yesterday I was almost asleep on my feet.)

Nobody likes hospitals, right? It has nothing to do with the doctors and nurses (usually)...the ones I interacted with yesterday before and after my wife's surgery were all of them professional, courteous and kind. It's the atmosphere. Everyone's combined sickness percolates in the air and gives you a low-grade case of the yuck. Everywhere you look, you're confronted with the realization that you are not at home. Even when they try to go out of their way to make things look comforting, the same green that in your living room reminds you of a grassy dell just looks like snot; the soft brown you earth-toned your bedroom with last autumn is, you suddenly realize, a very unappealing shade of shit.

Eva was whisked away from me at about twenty after seven yesterday morning. I'd been told the surgery would start at 8 and take two hours. I was, of course, skeptical. Hospital time is elastic, and estimates like "two hours" often don't include things like the pre-op incantation sweat lodge ceremony, the post-op cooling down period, the middle-of-the-op round of golf...
So I have to admit I was a little surprised when. at just 10:30, Dr. Reid came out and assured me all was well. The operation had gone smoothly, and my wife was resting comfortably.  By this point the waiting room had developed a loose camaraderie, and the whole room would share in the relief each time a doctor came out to tell a loved one that things were fine. You kind of half-expected applause and bows from the triumphant doctor.  At any rate, Eva was in recovery and would rest there for 60 to 90 minutes...then I could see her.
I immediately set about my task of texting everyone in our world. Well, not immediately....I'd already gleaned from my waiting room relief buddies that Bell cellphones were useless inside the hospital walls, so out into the parking lot I went, armed with my wife's iPhone and ready to do battle with its tiny on-screen keyboard.
One simple text took me more than five minutes to compose. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate texting? I have? Yeah. I hate texting. My fingers are not the size of pins.
The ensuing wait for Eva to get out of Recovery and into whatever they call the rest of the hospital --not "Relax", not "Relapse", hell, I don't know--dragged on. At 12:30 I was informed there wasn't a bed for Eva yet, and I'd be told when there was. I bit back what immediately came to mind -- so what, she's standing somewhere? sitting somewhere? -- and focussed on calming thoughts. Like how the last minute took 43 minutes to pass. Like how much I really wanted to see Eva with my own eyes. Like how the hell could there not be a bed available for her when they presumably knew how many surgical operations they had today, count 'em up one two three thirteen twenty seven we need twenty seven beds go get 'em count make sure yes twenty seven there we go. Like how I'm 99% certain she's in a bed RIGHT NOW and had been ever since she left me five hours ago for her two hour operation. You know, nice calming thoughts like that.
At 1:30 I steeled myself and approached the day surgery inquiries desk. "I'm sorry to be a bother", I said with all the calmness I had manufactured over the last seven point three eternities, "but I'm just inquiring about Eva Breadner. I was told she'd be in recovery for sixty to ninety minutes and that was three hours ago." They told me they were waiting on a clean bed, and then told me they'd make an exception and allow me back to see her....where she was, of course, resting in a (hopefully) clean bed.
She looked a little pale, a LOT tired, and more than a little like somebody had just ripped her open and rearranged her insides. She said her pain level was "medium", which for her means "I'm really in a great deal of pain but I'm not going to tell you how much". Post surgery she was given six shot glasses of water. Each one, she was told, represented an hour's water intake. I really am going to have to get used to this living on nothing that is her new normal.

Today she looked a lot better: just tired, and homesick. She should be out tomorrow morning and back home where she belongs, which will be a colossal relief.

Incidentally, the fact I do not drive doesn't usually bother me. Over the last two days it's bothered me plenty. Guelph General Hospital is 32 km (20 miles) from our house, one city over. It takes about forty minutes to drive there, door to door. Unless you're on a bus. I left here this morning at 9:50 and got home at 6:30...and thanks to the vagaries of two city transit systems, I saw my wife for all of an hour. Plus we've had to rely on the kindness of family (thank you, Jim) to get Eva to and from hospital in the first place.

Thank you, everyone, for your love and support. It has meant a great deal to both of us.

27 November, 2013

A Very Important Weighpoint

My wife is undergoing bariatric surgery tomorrow.

I have kept mum about this surgery to all but close family and a very few trusted friends. This has been, obviously, out of respect for my wife's privacy, especially given the very personal and sensitive nature of the surgery. Since Eva has broken  her own silence on Facebook, I have, with her permission and review, written this in hopes people will understand what's entailed here, and most of all that this procedure is not an end but a means; not a cure but a tool; not the destination but really a waypoint (a weighpoint?)  on the journey towards a prolonged healthy life for her.

I'm sure you, dear reader, are not so crass as to suggest to Eva or myself that this surgery represents anything like "the easy way out". Though you might be thinking it, which is  forgivable because bariatric surgery is not well understood and rarely discussed at any length. So perhaps I can give you some snapshots of my wife's journey thus far, and describe in some detail  what is yet to come for her.

To begin with, you can't just walk in to a hospital and demand bariatric surgery. You need a doctor's express permission to even apply for the program, and doctors don't recommend it idly. Being fat won't cut it...there have to be underlying conditions making it impossible, or at least extraordinarily difficult, for you to lose weight.

Permission granted, you are invited to a seminar on what surgery  entails and what it means for your future life, especially as regards food and drink. I can tell you from having attended that seminar with Eva that most people who thought they were interested in surgery decide then and there that they aren't and never will be, for reasons I'll get to shortly.

But suppose you decide you still want the surgery, as Eva did. Then the real grilling begins: it reminded me of nothing so much as our failed adoption process. Her complete state is scrutinized: a complete physical, as well as a few sessions with a social worker to assess her mental, emotional and spiritual fitness, as well as the strength of her support network. She was put on a diet and closely monitored to see if she could stick to it, because post surgery, sticking to a diet is absolutely critical.And I'm only touching on some of the steps here.  At any time, you can be told 'sorry' and booted out of the program.

Should you clear every hurdle--I got the distinct sense they try very hard to trip you up--you're put on a strict liquid diet for a minimum of two weeks pre-surgery. This is not something you can buy in a store. It's called Optifast and at that seminar, I watched people's eyes light up like pinball machines when they found out they could drink nothing but this for two weeks or a month and skip the surgery entirely. I can confidently suggest that many people took that option...and very few of them will maintain their weight loss. If it was that easy to keep weight off, Optifast would be outselling food in grocery stores. Nevertheless, the stuff does work. If I told you how much weight my wife has lost in the past fortnight you wouldn't believe me. Nine hundred calories a day will have that effect.

So then we arrive at the surgery.

The operation is called a Roux-en-y gastric bypass. In normal digestion, what you eat passes through your stomach into your small intestine, where most of the nutrients and calories are absorbed, and what's left goes through your colon and gets excreted. This surgery creates an egg-sized pouch to serve as your new stomach, and then bypasses the upper part of the small intestine. This has several consequences. The obvious one is that Eva will not be able to eat very much at any one time. In fact, her meals are to be no more than half a cup total. That half a cup is to take her half an hour to eat: her intestine will not be able to aid her digestion, which means she'll basically have to liquefy the food before it gets there. If she eats too much, or eats too quickly, this happens to her. Apparently everybody who undergoes this surgery experiences gastric dumping syndrome once and vows "never again". In researching this to better understand Eva's position, I read vivid testimonials wherein people earnestly wished they were dead.

Nausea and vomiting may become Eva's constant companions for a while even if she follows every instruction to the letter. There is a very delicate balance in play here: the surgery and reduced diet lowers the absorbance rate of food, which increases the amount of stomach acid. Eva will be put on something to lower that acid content, but if it goes too low...you guessed it...nausea and vomiting.

The not-so-obvious consequences to this surgery involve things Eva may not, or definitely will not, be able to eat ever again. In the 'may not' category are red meat, milk, and pasta, none of which digests particularly easily and in her case may not digest at all. The things to avoid are caffeine, alcohol, and especially carbonated beverages like pop or mineral water. That last is an absolute no-no: it can actually be lethal. At the very least it will rapidly expand her new stomach, provoking that dumping syndrome. Too much will rip things that aren't supposed to be ripped, with repercussions I'd rather not imagine.

Because meals are so small, inadequate nutrition is a real concern. Accordingly, Eva must be on several supplements for the rest of her life.  Protein is her first concern: much of what she eats will be protein


For the first week or two post-op, Eva will be eating applesauce and broth and she's looking forward to the applesauce on the grounds she can at least pretend to chew it. It has been two weeks since she has chewed anything at all and she dearly misses food. I have tried to be as considerate as I can short of going on this Optifast with her.  (I did try a sip: the chocolate kind tastes like chrome-flavoured chocolate milk. This is not something you would choose to drink, believe me.)  I eat hot stuff in another room and my recent diet consists (mostly) of food she has never liked: pea soup, clam chowder, salmon sandwiches...occasionally I've had something she finds a little more palatable, like Kraft Dinner. I have been informed that Kraft Dinner smells good when it's cooking. I was unaware KD had a smell.

We'll gradually be reintroducing solid food: after a year, with the restrictions noted above, her diet looks almost normal, albeit those portion sizes I find ridiculous. I'll grant you my sense of portion size is not at all appropriate--that Kraft Dinner is one box, one serving as far as I'm concerned--but half a cup meals unto eternity, no pop, no booze, no sweets, and people think this is the EASY way out?

The damnedest thing is your weight loss isn't even guaranteed. If you are bound and determined you can gradually, over years, stretch your stomach back to its pre-op girth and beyond. Gastric bypass is not a cure for obesity. It is merely a tool. And as I've been saying, it has some very sharp edges.

Now let's talk physical appearance. By the time all is said and done, Eva will have cut her weight roughly in half. While this is obviously an unalloyed Good Thing (tm), it might not look as good as she'd like it to. The fat will be gone, but the skin that wrapped it will remain. I have joked with her that I'll be able to take her for walks by yanking on her 'leash' and I fully intend to start calling her my little caramel bonbon...she knows I love her no matter what, but she's understandably worried about her appearance.
 There are operations she can undergo to tighten things up. Unlike the bariatric surgery itself, they are not covered and they are not cheap.  But we'll be doing whatever is necessary because Eva's mental health and self-esteem are a least as important as her physical health.

So with all of this awful stuff detailed, you're probably wondering what the benefit is to this surgery...besides the weight loss, which as I said isn't even a sure thing. So here we go.  The surgery will not likely prolong Eva's life any, but it will DEFINITELY prolong her healthy life. Up to ninety percent of patients see their type-2 diabetes cured, sometimes within days. Her energy level will dramatically increase. She's always been the fittest fat person I know, but in a year I suspect she'll be able to outrun me. Her hormones will stabilize somewhat, the pain she lives with will be markedly decreased if not eliminated, and most importantly? She'll have slain the last of her demons. This will allow her to get her final tattoo, something she has not felt worthy of even though she really is: Durga, the multifaceted, supremely powerful woman I know Eva to be.

--------

One more thing. This is not trivial surgery. The rate of complication is not quite Russian roulette level, but it's definitely not minuscule either. Any positive thoughts you can send our way are more than welcome, they are greatly appreciated.

16 November, 2013

Love of Music and Music of Love

Music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy, it made him feel so good
And he sang from his heart, and he sang from his soul
He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole
--Harry Chapin, "Mr. Tanner"

I can thank my parents for my love of music. I grew up in a home where music was a constant. I can still remember many of the songs I used to dance around to when I was a wee lad...everything from Knock Three Times to Nightflight to Venus to Stayin' Alive...it's safe to say my Mom's musical tastes didn't stray too far from the Top 40 of the time, but 70s Top 40 was richer and more varied, it seems to me, than it has been since, and much richer than it tends to be today. There are undoubtedly gems scattered throughout today's music, but they don't tend to chart...or at least chart as high as they should. 

From my Dad I got an appreciation of music you don't normally associate with children. On one of the last days of grade three, just before the moving for the first time in my life, I got up in front of the class and sang all three verses of this:


I still have this memorized.  It really is kind of frightening how much of my mental storage capacity is taken up with song lyrics. 
Roger Whittaker was my first concert. I haven't been to many in my life. This may sound strange, but it's hard to appreciate music in a crowd, or at least I find it hard. Depending on the artist or group, there's too much screaming and/or singing along (and few in the audience can lift the damned tune, much less carry it). 
Concerts I have been to, aside from that Roger Whittaker:

Glass Tiger (London, sometime in the mid-eighties, a concert my wife also attended, and for all I know we saw each other. Our paths have crossed more than once, long before we actually met

Chicago (Canada's Wonderland, late eighties) 

Roxette (Maple Leaf Gardens, 1991)--my first and probably last large arena concert, this was at the height of Roxette's popularity and sometimes it was hard to hear Marie and Per over the screams of countless girls and not a few boys

The Proclaimers at Lulu's here in town, twice...yeah, I loved 'em that much

Prozzak in London--I went with a friend and her sister, having barely heard of the group, and came away something of a fan

and finally John McDermott at Center in the Square, twice, with Eva. John McDermott is another musical gift from my father, a Scottish-Canadian troubadour with an angelic voice. I'd listen to this guy sing his grocery list. He's one of exactly two Toronto Maple Leaf anthem singers I don't rush to mute.

I tend to go through phases, musically, that last a year or two, from which I pluck a few artists and songs out for my 'eternal playlist' before moving on. One year I listened to a whole hell of a lot of new country. I don't listen to much now, but when I do it's usually Brad Paisley.  Then there was my Celtic phase -- I actually toyed with learning Scots Gaelic at one point before realizing just how insanely difficult that language is to pick up -- and I still listen to Capercaillie (and of course John McDermott) out of that. 

I actually appreciate Eminem, and to those who say rap is crap, I suggest you watch 8 Mile with a mind as open as you can make it. Done the way that man does it, rap is an art. It's hyperkinetic wordplay, and I'm a wordsmith at heart. Is it crude and occasionally obscene? Yeah. So is life. Also, Eminem is a persona, occasionally a persona of  a persona, and some people don't seem to understand that. 

He's penned a number of empowering, uplifting songs, too. Perhaps my favourite is this one, which perks me up at the end of a shitty day like few other songs can.  
And if Eminem is too dirty for you and you still think rap has nothing to recommend it, try this Canadian contribution...and I defy you to get through this without growing a grin on your face.

My latest musical loves, at least in English,  are Janelle Monae (her Dace Apocalyptic is the catchiest tune I've heard in about five years) and The Heavy Blinkers, a group that crafts orchestral soundscapes as far from pap as pop is apt to get. 
Of course, that's pop. I'm still in a classical piano phase by and large, enjoying everything from the heavyweights (Liszt, Chopin) to the unjustifiably unknowns (did Cat Stevens steal 'Morning Has Broken' from this female composer?)

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the songs that I've actually learned from over the years, and two of those in particular. The songs that have something to teach me tend to be about love. I have some rather unorthodox views on that subject, and sometimes I need a little musical kick in the chops and swift excursion back to reality. The first is an old Moxy Früvous tune called "Horseshoes". The sound quality of the various YouTube videos is uniformly terrible, so I'm just going to type out the lyrics here...

My sister Sue and I were doing stunts with electric trains
She said she'd do my dishes, so I handed her the reins
And she engineered a collision steered by a hand-eye protegée
Before my train set started burning, I heard my sister say

 (Chorus) Look straight at the coming disaster
Realize what you've lost
You keep handing out horseshoes
Horseshoes have gotta be tossed

I dreamed I went to heaven 'cause I told my lover lies
When I woke up I went to her and looked her in the eyes
I said, "help me cry 'cause I can't deny this union's feelin' wrong"
Then I flashed back to the dream, and angels singing songs... (chorus)

Don't push the river, if you love it, set it free
I said 'Go on and see him, you can still come home to me"
I was satisfied, God was on our side, 'cause we're freer than the birds...
she wrote me a letter, I didn't read it, I already knew the words (chorus)

That third verse...I lived by that, once, and it bit me. I still think love isn't a prison, and of course I realized that 'he' was better for her than I could ever be...but there's still a bit of bitter truth in 'horseshoes have gotta be tossed'. 

I am, as I may have mentioned before, a reformed cheater. Back in my young-and-stupid days, I didn't really care for anyone more than I did for myself. I don't harbour many regrets in my life, but I do so regret my behaviour in those years. One of the things I learned from those experiences is that some mistakes can't be fixed and regret means little to nothing no matter how sincerely it's expressed. Another is neatly and heartbreakingly encapsulated in 'Reste avec elle' (Stay With Her) by Québécois artist Lynda Lemay:




I'm still not able to translate this line for line -- I'm getting closer, but the language is quite poetic in places, which makes it much harder -- the general gist is this: it's sung by a mistress who spends three verses and half of a bridge praising her lover's wife, telling him over and over to stay with her. That bridge I can translate, though, and I find it emotionally devastating:

She, who you have chosen
She, who is your safe harbour
She, who is your country
She, who you adore
She, who also you forget
when your eyes linger on my body
when you look at me a little too strong
when you leave her in a time of madness
when you leave her in a time of thrills
Go, right now, rejoin her, I beg you
Go, right now, rejoin her, otherwise

Stay with me...

---------------

My first reaction, hearing and understanding this, was to really question if 'she' was all that to him if he'd cheat on her after a single lingering look. Then I thought of course he would, it's just sex.

Except it usually isn't. In affairs of the heart (and despite the proliferation of so-called 'hookup culture', most of them turn into affairs of the heart even if it's the last thing either party wants), the emotions run hot and they can burn everyone they touch.

The lover has emotional needs too, however poorly their object has been chosen, and this is something that tends to blindside men in particular. You think you can keep an affair secret from your wife? Good luck with that. You might be the best actor on the face of the earth and you'll find yourself completely helpless when your mistress gets upset with you for any reason at all and suddenly blurts out that she's about to call up your partner and reveal her existence.

The most mindblowing sex you've ever had isn't worth what'll ensue then, folks. Don't cheat. Just don't.

It's worth noting, I think, that in that final verse of the song that begins 'Stay with me', the lover lists out just a few reasons why she thinks she should. Only one of them has to do with anything she'll do for him as opposed to her own aching need for him...and that one (I'll give you hugs that never stop) is word-for-word something she'd earlier praised/accused his wife of doing for him. I find that more than a little telling, and it jives with my ancient experience. Usually -- not always, but usually -- the person you're cheating with is a pale imitation of the person you're cheating on.

There's even more emotional depth in this song, having to do with love in general, and I may come back to it at some point.  In the meantime, if you know any songs with deep lyrics that really speak to you, I'd be curious to hear them.








  

10 November, 2013

Harris Rosen and a Real Helping Hand

I had never heard of Harris Rosen until a few minutes ago. Thanks to Reddit, I've heard of him now...and I think everybody should hear about him. He's a self-made millionaire in the hospitality industry, and his story is inspirational on so many levels, it practically left me breathless reading it.

Here's a man raised in Hell's Kitchen in the 1940s and 1950s--an aptly named stinkhole of poverty and disease--who was launched into the hospitality industry by a chance encounter with Marilyn Monroe...and propelled after launch by his mom, who told him the ticket out of Hell's Kitchen was education.
After spending some time chafing under Disney, Inc. -- he developed the Polynesian, Contemporary, and Fort Wilderness resorts, but never felt entirely comfortable -- Rosen took all the money in his savings account and put a downpayment on a Quality Inn. From there, his empire blossomed: it now includes 3500 employees overseeing 6300 rooms, not to mention the premier hospitality college in the United States.

Oh, yes, and Tangelo Park.

Tangelo Park...it sounds like another Florida hotel. It isn't. It's an isolated Orlando neighbourhood, and until Rosen adopted it, not a nice one. Much like the Hell's Kitchen of Rosen's youth, Tangelo Park was riddled with poverty and crime. Over ninety percent of the population is African-American and more than half of the people in the neighbourhood are either families headed by single mothers, or not families at all.

Rosen "fell in love" -- his words -- with this place, and set out to do something about improving it. Here's what he did. He offered free daycare all children between 2 and 4, free parenting classes, free vocational training...and free, all-inclusive scholarships for any neighbourhood child that graduates high school.

Needless to say (or at least it should be), the elementary school in Tangelo Park became a model school very quickly;  the high school graduation rate has dramatically increased; and three quarters of Rosen scholarshiip recipients graduated with post-secondary credentials...the highest rate among an ethnic group in the U.S. The students who have been through the program stand to collectively earn over a million dollars more (pdf) through their lifetimes than they would have without the program. And that's not even accounting for the dramatic decrease in the crime rate that has seen fewer people incarcerated.

All because one man gave about nine million dollars...a lot for one person, no doubt, but pocket change for a nation, even a nation as indebted as the United States undoubtedly is.

A MATTER OF PRIORITIES

There is this mentality running rampant in both our countries that just giving people money is counterproductive, even evil. What have they done to deserve it? People wedded to this attitude can find plenty of justification for it...how many billions of dollars have been spent on Africa over the decades? How much money does Canada spend per Aboriginal? And most of the Native reservations resemble deepest darkest Africa, still, in their poverty and despair. (Though it bears mentioning that many people living in Africa, particularly, have been unaffected by the affluenza virus that has swept the Western world and thus remain happier than many of us would, or even can, imagine). Still, it is my contention that every least one of us deserves, by virtue of being born, access to the basics. Those include nutritious food, clean drinking water, shelter against the elements, reasonable health care, and an education. Those five things are fundamental to success. They don't guarantee success for every individual, but they give everyone a fighting chance. To me, access to these things should be guaranteed in any Constitution worthy of the name...especially one from a country which takes as its motto "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". 

Dauphin, Manitoba tried a Mincome program between 1974 and 1979.  Dauphin, at the time, was a town of ten thousand: every family in town and in the surrounding rural municipality was included.
Strangely, despite some positive outcomes, the program was scrapped after four years and much of its data was either destroyed or never collected properly in the first place. The reason was political: both the provincial and federal government shifted rightward in the face of an economic recession and helping poor people suddenly became less of a priority.
There were some grave administrative faults behind this program. Perhaps the biggest was that, although the benefit was (quite properly) indexed to inflation (which was becoming a real issue in the late 70s), the actual budget for the program was not. The cost overruns were then cited as a good reason to kill Mincome entirely. The oversight here is so glaring that the cynic in me suggests it was intentional.

But both testimonials and academic analysis show that MINCOME had a positive effect in many areas, some of which may not seem obvious. For instance, hospitalization rates in Dauphin decreased by eight percent over the MINCOME experiment. This is attributed in part to a decrease in domestic violence, better mental health, and a decline in workplace-related injury (which tends to occur when people continue to work in dangerous situations when ill or fatigued).
The most interesting thing, to me, is that the employment rate actually increased. This finding runs counter to everything we're told about welfare: give people money and they'll sit on their asses and thumb their nose at doing anything productive, right?

Wrong.

Two groups of people did tend to stay home: new mothers (who suddenly could) and adolescents, who no longer needed a job and could devote more time to their studies. The rest of the population kept their jobs, or acquired new ones. That's what having the basics provided for will do: oddly enough, most people aren't satisfied with just the basics...not only that, but they think it's fair to work for anything beyond those basics if those basics are provided for. But when a large part of the money you make goes to food and shelter, with little left over, it stands to reason you will be stressed...and probably resentful, too.

It seems to me that our current civilization--I use that word guardedly, since we often don't seem very civilized--places a higher priority on maintaining wealth than it does on eliminating poverty. What's more, the definition of wealth is exceedingly narrow. To me, wealth, like anything else, only truly exists when it is shared. That's something Harris Rosen obviously understands, and it's something the rest of us could stand to learn.

Whenever I have ventured into enemy territory and brought this thesis forward, it has been seen as an attack. Fair enough: it is. But it's not a personal attack. I try very hard not to do that, because (a) it hurts and (b) it never works. I do believe it's possible to attack attitudes rather than people, though, and the attitude that 'what's mine is mine and you can fuck right off' is one that should be vanquished if our society is ever to evolve.

 I'm not naive enough to believe that communism will ever work on anything other than a very limited scale (although its precept, 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs', is possibly the most beautiful guiding sentiment penned by man since 'love thy neighbour as thyself'.) I would suggest, though, that the raw capitalism favoured by certain elites nowadays is every bit as corrosive to society as unalloyed communism has proven to be. There is always a happy medium, and whether it comes from benevolent wealthy people with society's best interests in mind (there are damned few of those, it seems)...or governments that are supposed to have society's best interests in mind...well...that happy medium is the place to be.




04 November, 2013

Put That In Your Pipe And...

So it goes without saying that Rob Ford has been kicked off Eva-world. It shames me to think I was once a card-carrying member of Ford Nation, even though I've never been eligible to vote for the guy. Even after his mayoralty sprouted its own sideshow, I blogged: "I like Rob Ford and I can't say why".
I can say why now, now that the like has curdled. I liked Rob Ford not just because he imposed some much needed fiscal sanity on his city, and not just because he seemed exactly like the sort of brook-no-bullshit type I wish I was myself.  (One of my life's great balancing acts: knowing when to call bullshit and when to keep my mouth shut. Sadly, I usually find myself doing the latter, out of what I think is self-preservation. But bullshit is corrosive. It burns internally).
I also liked Rob Ford because the media hated him from day one. The Toronto Star, a paper so politically correct it squeaks, has used words describing Ford that it won't even use to describe Stephen Harper; the normally staid Globe and Mail published an article that mentioned Ford's weight seventeen times. You know me: start harping on somebody's physical appearance, particularly their weight, and I'm going to leap to their defence.

But Ford sure hasn't done me any favours over the years. While there are politicians everywhere who let their private lives tun into a circus act which eventually overwhelms their political lives, I can't say I've ever run across one quite so brazen as this man is. It can't be a coincidence that Brazen 2 is the name of the police investigation that targeted, among many others, Ford's friend and sometime driver Sandro Lisi, and by extension Ford himself. Personally, I would have named the investigation Project Edsel. That might have provoked an even more apoplectic fit from Ford's lawyer.

It seems everyone everywhere now knows that the police have in their possession a video which purports to show His Worship smoking crack cocaine. In the absence of any other evidence, unfortunately that video doesn't prove anything, not to a legal standard, at any rate. Even if the video clearly shows Ford smoking a crack pipe, you can only infer it's crack he's smoking, not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

I don't want to sound in any way shape or form like I'm defending Ford. I find it well-nigh incredible how many people still do that. And by gar, they do. With a will.. When the story first broke in May, quite a large number of people scoffed at the existence of the video--just like Ford did himself, actually. It never crossed my mind that the video might not be real...the story was first broken by Gawker.com, an American website the majority of whose readers (justifiably) don't care about Toronto or its mayor one iota. It just didn't seem plausible that they, of all people, would make this up. And now that the police have announced they have the video -- well, it's obviously a fake. And never you mind that faking such a video is impossible.  These Ford supporters are not the sort to let facts like that intrude on their delusions of persecution.
And even if it is true that Ford smoked crack...so what? It's only a highly illegal hallucinogenic drug. It's not as if he's ever done anything, you know, wrong....he has? Whatever. He's kept taxes low and that's why we voted for h--

He's raised taxes?

...

...Well, not as much as that libtard leftist pinko commie egghead David Miller did, sonny boy. Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it.

I swear, if we ever find out that Rob Ford murdered somebody, there will be people right there saying he obviously needed killing.

And Ford himself has vowed he's staying on. He's admitted to "mistakes", and even detailed two of them--two separate public events where he was intoxicated, or "hammered",  "a little out of control", in his phrasing. The words "crack" or "cocaine" did not leave the mayor's lips; he did, however, urge the police chief to release the video so the people of Toronto can "judge for themselves".
Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Ford. Brass balls you have, I'll give you that, but you really don't want this video circulating any more than it already has.

Here's the thing I don't get, though. I really wish somebody could explain it to me. Why is there a video at all? So the Mayor allegedly decided to smoke some crack. Why let himself be recorded? For posterity? I mean, what the hell?  I'm sorry, the question has to be asked. IS HE ON CRACK?

It's naive enough to think you can delete a video like that simply by deleting it.. Actually taking it in the first place is...there aren't words for how stupid that is.

It goes way beyond Ford: it's astonishingly common these days. Bounce around YouTube for any length of time and sooner or later you will see somebody doing something illegal. Often they don't even bother to hide their faces. Or the felon commits a crime, seems to get away with it, and then brags about it on Facebook. There are dumb criminals, I get that, but the level of stupidity you have to have to pull something like that is off the charts. I can't help but wonder what kind of reaction the killer has when the cops turn up. "You saw that on Facebook? I didn't send that to no cops!"

*sigh*

This is a strange new world we find ourselves in, folks. Where a man with Rob Ford's admitted 'mistakes' and a whole lot of unadmitted crap under investigation can still garner such support; where even crimes just gotta be shared. At some point this stuff goes beyond entertaining into sad and scary. I think that point is right about...now.