03/30/17

Imogene

Imogene

By Janet James

    No, I’m not amused and I want to go for a smoke. I’ve been sitting here for two hours listening to nattering and bitching about how Johnny was caught by the schoolmaster for kissing Becky What’s-Her-Name and the trouble Mrs. Standish has with her cook. I wish they’d choke on their tea.

    When George and I moved here from the city, he assured me that I’d never be bored and that social functions would fill my calendar. Well, the daytime social functions turned out to be tedious exercises in perseverance while watching equally as tedious women get bloated on tea or tipsy on sherry. Whilst the evening parties are sustained by demure smiles and delicate conversations, like how many debutantes are coming out this year. Not a wicked book or a naked painting to be seen. The boredom is endless.

    Oh god – it’s nearly three o’clock. The rally must have begun already, but hopefully with the strength and conviction of the women attending, it would go on for some time. Maybe I could catch at least the end.

    If George discovered my involvement with the suffragettes or even that I smoke, he’d lock me away or pack me off to the country with some imaginary illness. But then husbands can be like that, so arrogant about tedious virtues. And with the company of these priggish biddies, I feel even more compelled to support what I’ve always believed. The rights of women – they’ve been ignored long enough, but I would find no advocates in this room.

    Oh, Mrs. Riddley, a woman of whopping proportions, is offering yet another round of sweet cakes, and after listening to her go on about the gown she’s having made for her daughter’s coming-out ball, I can’t help but wonder how many bolts of cloth were used, one dozen or two?

    I don’t suppose another feigned headache could get me away from this monotony. I’ve used that excuse for the last three parties. But oh god – can I stand any more of this drivel?

    Servants, planning parties, dressing up, pouring tea – that’s the best these women can do for excitement. What this bunch needs is a good scandal. Not just some maid, who’s become a fallen woman, and oh, how I hate that expression – but something totally unsavoury, rancid even. For that matter, I could light up a cigarette right here and then excuse myself with a sweet smile and say I’m off to the suffragettes’ rally. That would get some attention. Oh, but dare I? What’s to be gained and what’s to be lost? Self-satisfaction – yes, I would most certainly get that and my open support for the suffragettes would lend them strength. But, unfortunately the losses would be mostly George’s. His peers would not treat this lightly and aside from that, he may be totally extricated from his club.

    Ah, perhaps that’s too harsh. Two social disgraces in one day for George would be a bit much. However… “Ahem, excuse me ladies, I’m sorry to have to leave this little gathering, but I must be on my way. I am off to attend the suffragettes’ rally, ta ta.” I’ll light up another time.

 

 

07/28/16

My Colonoscopy, the Magic School Bus, Voyager I, and Some Unfortunate Truths – A Dense Essay

Chapter One

Born in the fifties and three years short of sixty, I seem to have been blessed with the genes and metabolism which seem oblivious to the abuse I have given them. Generally a healthy later middle aged male, I am fortunate to have been born, and still living, where I do here in British Columbia. But life is still life and when one is an anatomically and behaviourally modern Homo sapien, living in a body composed of mostly water and oxygen, things are bound to happen.

Beneath the hair of an average adult human, no matter the race, color, faith, or where they live, sixty per cent of their body’s weight and volume is water. Incredulously, it stands, can fall, and get back up. The body also contains about five and a half litres (just over one gallon) of blood, and about ten litres (two and a half gallons) of interstitial fluid, which washes and surrounds our trillions of cells. Other elements of the body include oxygen (sixty-five per cent), carbon (eighteen per cent) and other trace elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, sulphur, sodium chlorine, and magnesium, to name but a few.

human bodyMaterials include protein, connective tissue, fats, carbohydrates and bone, with operating systems that include mechanical, physical, and bio-electrical and biochemical functions, which make up such a life form, and the machine it is.

Naturally odd and kind of eerie, the vast majority of our cells in our bodies are not even human, but instead microorganisms and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship with our functions and make up. The largest proportions of these cells, about one hundred trillion of them, a number about ten times greater than the total number of other human cells in the entire body, live in the digestive tract. Such microorganism cells digest our food, gleaning the energy and fatty acids needed for us to exist, and keep all the body’s systems running properly. They also metabolize acids and synthesize vitamins, working closely with the liver, digestive tract, and even muscle tissue, with their combined efforts resembling an alien organ seemingly existing within us. Much like our skin is also considered an organ. But many believe, and rightly so, that for all intents and purposes in most living things, the digestive tract is running the show.

Chapter Two

One hundred years ago an average human never made it to sixty years of age. Today many do, though often are hurting units when they get there. That is the downside of living longer, especially in developed corporations, sorry I mean developed countries. As humans age their lives become filled with chronic pain, depression, cancer, ever continuing prescription needs, strokes, kidneys and knees shutting down, and increasing rates of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, among so many other ailments.

But when young we all thought and felt we were invincible, and became distracted by it. It distracts us even more today because we think it keeps us from going mad, and yet our survival depends on being aware, of ourselves yes, but also and more importantly, of our surroundings, including all the other thousands of living things sharing the planet with us, and most critically, the natural workings of the world. Having lost such awareness, it’s not surprising that the leading cause of death for people from the ages, one to thirty-four years old, is accidents.

Personally I have learned to embrace moderation of all things. And, am grateful and humbled that, as of yet, I do not live with pain on a daily basis. But besides the absorption of toxins, hormones and viruses  that exists in frighteningly increasing numbers, I have not always been nice and respectful to my body regarding what goes into it, whether food, drink and smoke, or given enough concern for the health of some of its operating systems.

I smoke cigarettes, which often makes me worry that since I have been a full time smoker for over forty years I would not be surprised for that shoe to drop, and the thing I thought was bound to happen does. Yet I continue to play ignorant and not even attempt to alter the outcome, which may yet still arrive, by hiding behind the excuse that I am basically a drug addict and allowing the addiction to control, in many ways, my life. As it is, the nicotine and the few thousand other chemicals in each cigarette I smoke have given me chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which shows up in my lungs as emphysema. Meaning the small air sacs of my lungs have been weakened and have ruptured, creating one larger air sac instead of the higher efficiency small ones. My lungs’ cavities are also filling up with black carbon deposits. So it takes longer for me to breathe out than in.

I am sure that the few thousand hours of bottom time spent as a commercial diver and seafood harvester, which took part of my right lung, caused calcified barnacles to form on my rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and living through multiple near death experiences, does not aid the cause.

M’lady has told me my breath rattles in my lungs as I sleep and I dry cough regularly throughout the day, though it’s a subdued and quick one. But as each year passes, the cough worsens and further embarrasses me with sometimes overwhelming grief for not doing anything about it. The worst is in the morning, when I cough for a few minutes until I give a couple of good nose blows in tissue, after which I feel relatively cleared up. It is curious that after we blow our noses, somewhat instinctively, we all take a second to examine what was expelled, like a forensic specialist or tea leaf reader. So far the coughs are rarely productive of any mucous, or blood or black tar, which is good I figure.

Of those who do smoke, about two out of ten will get COPD. For those who are life-long smokers, over half will develop COPD. Worldwide, it affects over 329 million people, nearly five per cent of the planet’s population. Along with chronic bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory diseases, it is currently one of the leading causes of death in the world, with over three million people dying from it each year.

In Canada, it is estimated that seventeen per cent of Canadians thirty-five to seventy-nine (over two million people) have some sort of airflow obstruction condition, with eight per cent, or 1.3 million people having severe degrees of it. Nearly twelve thousand Canadians die each year from COPD, somewhat close to the number of deaths attributed to all cerebrovascular diseases, mainly stroke.

Chapter Three

Though very aware of the importance of eating well, and the vital importance of stretching the body’s sinew and muscles each day, I rarely do. When I am with m’lady, I eat much healthier, as she is a seafood and salad gal and not as lazy as I am in the kitchen when eating alone. When alone, I eat as everyone else does, according to one’s pay grade. But the fact of the matter is that most days I plumb forget to eat, then, just before going to bed devour a large plate of something along the lines of a half dozen perogies covered in butter and a couple of scoops of cottage cheese, a couple of boiled Chinese sausages, a few olives, two slices of toast, one with just butter and peanut butter, which along with ketchup should be deemed a basic food group, and the other slice of toast lathered in peanut butter and honey, or perhaps cinnamon spread. For dessert, it is often a half litre of chocolate milk, a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D and a cod-liver oil, a small bag of either Hawkins Cheezies or salted corn chips and a chocolate chip muffin. A quick bite for me is usually sliced banana, yogurt, milk, ice-cream or raisin bran, in any combination thereof.

Though never putting much stress on my cardio, and not having much lung wind, I keep active and at least look fit, as in, I do not appear to have a basketball duct taped to my belly, and can still see my penis. Up to last year, I spent eight seasons on the ice a few times a week coaching midget hockey, which I miss very much. But other than sitting and writing, and because it’s my lot in life to have to work for a living, my employment usually entails physicality through good old plain hard work, using brush, ladder, hammer, paint, saw, wood and my hands, on buildings or the boat I live on. About the only actual exercise being the occasional karate kata, regular walkabouts, dog-like stretches, a physically active work life, and love making.

As for my bowels, just like my heart that somehow continues to beat regularly, I usually have to empty it at about six minutes and thirty-three seconds after arising from the bed in the morning. Which is also a good thing, one would think. Considering that the usual cause of death for a middle aged man in the industrial world, is colon cancer. But we will get to that lower down, as it were.

I am very fortunate here on Vancouver Island to actually have a regular doctor. He, of course, works out of a clinic with others, as lone general practitioners of medicine have become a rare species, whether in the city or in the country, and are booked solid.

A general practitioner (GP), works outrageous hours, and needs more than one assistant to deal with the tidal surge of paperwork created by having to submit endless reams of forms, charts and invoices, many of which go to the government, where payment could arrive anytime over the next couple of months. And they need large office spaces in which to store it all, because their basements are probably already full. And a great many new doctors want to specialize, further diminishing the number of GP’s.

Being a medical specialist, means one works in a silo and rarely communicates with doctors not in their field of study or department. So I can see why clinics are the way to go. For the doctors, sharing costs, space, and staff, and perhaps even sharing camaraderie with their team, instead of just themselves. And to think, advice could be two doors down the hall and to the left.

I was fortunate enough to have coached two of my doctor’s sons through their midget hockey years, and was grateful to work with him when he was the team’s manager. His sons are exceptional young men, as is he and the rest of their family. Thankfully he was able to take me into his stable. As such, his office calls me about once every year to set up an appointment for an annual physical.

Some people who own cars get them tuned up regularly. Some people just wait until something breaks or wears out and then gets it replaced. An annual physical on the other hand is a bit different and much more important. Instead of perhaps missing the chance to discover something early on before it breaks down, thus preventing further collapse, or even death, it may be wise to occasionally look under the hood. I have no qualms about letting a medical professional poke and prod the machine called my body and determine whether it shall continue to live or perhaps needs adjustment, therapy or replacement to sustain its life.

Chapter 4

Having an annual exam, is where they check our dipsticks and kick our tires, and go over all operating systems. This scares many people, often because of the absurd concept, that if something is deathly wrong, do they really need to know, or in the case of having a colonoscopy, the fear of someone sticking a finger up their butt. But when something is wrong with our bodies we know it. All living things do. Our dog eats grass when her stomach is upset and drags her bum along the lawn when it has been especially messy back there or she just needs a good scratch, and we do not have to tell her to do it. For over sixty years my Mom, has been drinking Coke whenever she feels under the weather, and to ward off all sorts of evils and ague. Whenever I feel something is brewing in me I take five cod liver oil pills with about the same number of garlic pills before going to bed, and in most cases feel much better in the morning. But anything to do with our rectum is uncomfortable for everyone involved, regardless of whether the doctor and patient are emotionless, or professionally smiling through it all.

While on the same topic, here’s a tip I learned long ago. When getting a physical and you are lying on your side and the doctor is getting the glove lubed up, of course it is going to be uncomfortable, but do not, I repeat, do not lean your head over and continue the discussion you had been having with your doctor, as he will politely ask you to please look the other way. But really people, we will allow doctors to slice open our chests and replace our hearts and other organs but heaven forbid if they should want to stick a well lubricated finger a few inches up our asses, one of the most frequent places for cancer to rear its ugly head in the human body.

One in fourteen Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in adults. Thirty per cent of all deaths in Canada, about seventy-two thousand people, die of malignant neoplasm or cancer, while twenty one per cent of all deaths are due to diseases of the heart.

Going global, of all the human deaths in the world in one year (about sixty million), 270 individuals out of every thousand people, will die because their hearts either gave out, or was diseased. It is by far the leading cause of death in the world. Stroke is the number two cause of death, followed closely by deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.

Much farther down the list and still globally, for every one thousand people, fourteen will take their own lives each year, comparatively, about three people per thousand deaths are attributed to war, yet this is where all the money is being generated and spent. Much like the trillion-dollar war on terrorism, where every year before and after 9/11, anywhere from eight to twenty American citizens died worldwide due to terrorism, less than the number of people killed each year from a bolt of lightning.  And that one is forty thousand times likely to die from heart disease or cancer than by terrorist actions. The leading cause of death for American civilians abroad, at least the few who actually have been off the continental United States, is actually car crashes. While in Canada, the number of deaths attributed to terrorism is minimal, and in fact, in the last thirty years, there have been four deaths.

Overall, in most developed countries, the largest increase in deaths over the past few years has been from Alzheimer’s, accidents and unintentional injuries, not from being victims of the blowback from the activities of the industrial military complex.

In related news, the Earth’s human population as of October 2015 is about 7.3 billion individuals. This is twice the number of people who lived on the planet in 1970. There are about 131 million births every year, meaning one million births every three days or 250 births every sixty seconds. For every one thousand people, nineteen are newborns.

At the other end, with an average life expectancy of sixty-seven years, for every thousand people on the planet there are about eight deaths (about fifty-five million) each year. It works out that two people die every second, while at the same time four babies are born.

Chapter 5

With a screech, thud, and oh my, we are back at the garage getting an annual physical exam. Starting on the outside of the body, the doctor begins to make his or her way through physically examining the human body by inspecting, feeling, tapping, and listening.

The body’s all important blood pressure (BP) is taken, because it indicates whether the blood has enough power behind it or is under too much pressure, as it flows around the body doing its sublime job of pushing blood around. It is measured as the pressure at which the heart contracts, called the systole, which is when it pumps blood out to the rest of body, over the pressure called the diastole, when the heart re-fills with more blood. The medical gadgets used to do this are a stethoscope, and a sphygmomanometer (nearly broke out in a sweat typing that). Less than one twenty over eighty (120/80), is normal, while something like one ninety over one hundred (190/ 100), it’s Houston we have a problem.

Later, at a lab, blood will be taken for a blood count, which determines the kinds and numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (thrombocytes) it contains. The red cells are the worker ants of the blood. They carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and once relieved of the oxygen, return carrying carbon dioxide (CO2) which is expelled as we exhale. Bigger than the reds but fewer in numbers, the whites protect the body from infection and act like a pack of wolves when doing so. The platelets meanwhile are the runts of the blood cells, and hang out in gangs called Clotters. Whenever bleeding occurs they gather together in a mob and swell themselves up like Pillsbury dough boys to form a sticky plug to stop the leak. They are relentless, and will continue to staunch any flow until it is stopped or the body simply runs out of blood and its organs shut down. At which time it becomes “aah, Houston….aah…we have another problem.”

Heart rate is checked, sixty to just less than one hundred beats a minute is considered normal, sixty being the optimum. Of course people, who exercise daily, by whatever means, usually have a much lower heart rate at rest. Joggers in particular, tell you that running is adding years onto their lives. Unfortunately, those years will have already been taken, by the years spent running.

Next up is a cold stethoscope held to your chest. Invented over 200 years ago, back when leeches were most often used for getting rid of any bad blood, the stethoscope was another way of seeing into the body, especially the chest. All one had to do was put their ear up against the chest, while today we do with technological imagery.

The typical respiratory rate for a healthy adult at rest is twelve to twenty breaths per minute. Anything above twenty is typically signs of a heart or lung problem. At birth and up to about six weeks we take thirty to sixty breaths every minute. If we make eighty years of age our respiratory rate could be as low as ten every minute. The doctor is also listening for any snaps, crackles and pops, wheezes, ticking or decreased breath sounds.

Temperature is then taken and should be as close to 37C (98.6F) as possible. Women going through menopause are occasionally exempt from this rule.

All joints are checked for movement, with the doctor standing back or to one side to protect themselves, as the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles are tapped with a small rubber mallet and checked for reflex. Our reflexes are crucial in determining the integrity of the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, which together coordinate the movement and activity of all parts of the body. Just as importantly, reflexes also determine the integrity of the peripheral nervous system, which is the communication link between the brain and the limbs and organs.

The abdomen is tapped to judge liver size and if there is any presence of abdominal fluid. Throat and tonsils are checked by going aaaah, just like when the doctor is holding one’s testicles checking for lumps. Similarly, women get their breasts checked for lumps and are also given a Pap test, to check for abnormal cellular changes to some of their pink parts.

The thyroid is especially checked, in both sexes. It is a butterfly shaped gland in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple, and is one of the body’s governors, controlling how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and produces hormones, which regulate other hormones throughout the body. Lymph nodes are important filters of the immune system and though located throughout the body, the ones under the armpits and in the groin are checked delicately.

Ears, nose and sinuses are checked by shining a little flash light into those orifices. Though dental is not included in BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) at this point and time, the gums and teeth are checked by simply smiling. Speaking of which, it is unfortunate that dental coverage is but a dream for anyone having only MSP. For due to my lack of attention earlier on, my teeth need constant attention and one by one are falling out, often painlessly as my gums continue to recede. Long in the tooth, as it were. Whenever the next tooth needs to be added to my upper or lower plate, it is only done whenever I can afford it, or have enough of a balance on my credit card to cover it, unlike my smoking habit, which somehow continues whether I am able to afford it or not.

Chapter Six

Once again we are back to the part of the body, where for some reason many people, especially men, do not bother to get a physical because of, the dreaded prostate exam. I know many men who have some sort of mental hang up about what a human is biologically, or they think they are far too macho for such a thing, and that no one is going to shove anything up their butts, including themselves. Yet all one is doing is lying on, usually the left side, with the doctor slowly inserting a very well lubricated gloved finger a few inches up the rectum and feeling around for a couple of seconds, checking the prostrate for size and any suspicious lumps. Although one’s eyes may bug out, it does not hurt nor is it a big deal.

The prostate is a gland of the males’ reproductive system. Over thirty per cent of its volume is semen, and it possesses muscles that expel the semen mixture, during ejaculation. The word comes from the Greek, prostates, meaning “one who stands before” and “the guardian”. Women also have a prostate, called the Skene’s gland or para urethral gland. It operates the same as a male’s prostate, minus the sperm of course, however it can also expel fluid during an orgasm. Anatomically, a women’s uterus is in the same position within her body as that of a prostate gland in his body.

With the physical exam complete, I’m sent for chest x-rays, which as usual confirms my lungs, should be classed as the vilest of porn. Then at yet another clinic, blood and urine samples are taken. The previously mentioned blood count is done, while the urine sample is used mainly to check on the kidneys since they deal with the waste products of metabolism and are the filters and expellers of waste material, minerals, fluids and other substances from the blood. They also contribute to the regulation of electrolytes, blood pressure and maintenance of an acid-alkaline balance in the blood.

Electrolytes are the substance that produces an “electrically” conducting solution, mainly sodium, when absorbed with water, and involves itself with fluid balance and blood pressure control. It also controls the electrical components of the body, such as muscle tissue and neurons.

The kidneys themselves are vital enough that there are two of them, with the ability of each to maybe carry on even if the other is lost. Each kidney has more than enough functioning renal tissue to do the job.

The exam’s final task is completed at one’s leisure at home – providing a sample of your pooh. A stool sample kit, called a fecal immuno-chemical test (FIT), is prescribed and bought at a pharmacy. Taking it home I read the directions three or four times and when the next bowel movement was imminent, I laid the piece of supplied paper over the surface of water in the toilet bowl.  I was going to paint target rings on the paper, but all that was handy was m’lady’s tube of lipstick, and I wouldn’t dare. Hovering over the seat I squeezed out just a little bit then puckered back up. Standing, I took the wooden popsicle stick provided with the kit and daubed a small sample, which I then put into the provided tube, stick and all, sealed well, and voila, a sample any forensics investigator would be proud of. Returning to the seat and finishing the task at hand, I was ready to deliver the sacred Fit tube to the lab.

Chapter Seven

A month or so goes by and I get a call from my doctor’s office that the results are in. A date is set. Upon that day and working within the ten-minute window given for appointments, my doctor comes in, and after the “how are you doings” and genuine “would love to talk but”, he sits down beside me with his laptop and we review all the tests given. Besides both being disgusted by my lung pictures, and me being deeply embarrassed, we move forward. I am told my heart is steady-eddy, there are no deranged things, icky or untoward chemicals, needles or condoms flowing through my blood, and that I have beautiful cholesterol. But there were traces of blood found in my stool sample. If average traces are eighty whatever, my trace amount was about a thirty, which is far from a death sentence I am told, but… we talk about it for a bit more then as nonchalantly as possible, he leans over and asks as Tom Waits sings “Happy Anniversary”, how about a colonoscopy. And I thought, why not.

On average fifteen per cent of people who get their stool examined are found to have traces of blood in them. This does not mean one has cancer, though four per cent of people tested with a colonoscopy will have. The pooh-test is strictly a diagnostic test looking for potential signs of cancer, but all it really shows is that one is bleeding from somewhere inside.

The majority of times the blood traces come from polyps, benign growths that hang off the wall of the rectum or colon, and which rarely show any symptoms. Polyps that do become cancerous usually take years to develop, which is why it is important for those of us over fifty to get checked.

Bleeding from the behind could also mean all sorts of other things, like haemorrhoids, which are sometimes painless or internal, ulcers, anal cracks or cuts, irritable bowel syndrome, a colony of polyps, simple inflammation or having the evil diverticular disease.

Diverticulitis affects more than ten per cent of the populations of Canada, Western Europe, Britain and Australia over the age of forty. Coincidently, these places all represent the world’s largest meat consumers. By sixty years of age, half will have some sort of diverticular disease of the colon. Seen as balloon-like extensions bulging out from the wall of the colon, they are sometimes filled with fluid. This happens, because of weakness of the muscle layers and are in serious jeopardy of becoming infected since they exist within the sewer pipe of a “civilized” human’s body. In severe cases abscesses develop which can perforate and begin bleeding into the abdomen, or exploding like a pimple. Other than the occasional cramping, bloating, expelling pooh gas, and irregular schedule of when you need to empty your bowels, most people are totally unaware of the fact that the make-up of their intestines has changed into structures that are not normally present or natural. It gets serious when blood is showing up much too often and in higher volumes in any stool.

Interestingly enough, in the rest of the world, mainly Africa and Asia, diverticular disease is not at all common. The reasons why are many, from the possibility that Africans, especially, eat a diet that contains more fibre than the Western populations, to the possibility that most people in Africa, India and Asia still use the natural squatting position to empty their bowels, as humans have done all through our evolution. The benefits include the stretching of limbs and muscles used in the act of squatting in the first place, which many “civilized” people, especially in Canada and the States would have a hard time doing, because of their obesity rates. The position allows the bowel not to be as compressed as it is when sitting on a toilet, thus, even with the larger loads, there is far less straining. In the West there is a long list of people dying, often with their hearts giving out, trying to expel their stool. In many countries, especially amongst Muslim and Hindu peoples, another benefit is that they clean themselves with water, instead of smearing the remains off with multiple sheets of eight-ply toilet tissue, which both happen to be far easier to do squatting then sitting on a toilet. The trick with using water to clean one’s nether regions is to always use your left hand; right hand is reserved for eating and hand shaking. As for lefties, it is unfortunate.

Chapter Eight

After my doctor and I agreed on a colonoscopy and that I would be contacted soon to set it up, I began to think about the Magic School Bus, which was popular when my son was five years old, and the episode where after being shrunk down to a tiny speck, they enter the body down the throat to explore the human digestive system.

yellow school busThe Magic School Bus was one of the best animated educational programs ever. Running from 1994 to 1997, it was about a class of kids led by the incredibly informative Ms. Valerie Frizzle, voiced by Lily Tomlin, who in 1995 won an Emmy for the role for outstanding performance in an animated program. Ms Frizzle and her class would take adventurous day trips in their yellow school bus exploring the whys and how’s of nearly every science known to man.

For example, of the fifty-two episodes created, “Inside Ralphie”, was about germs. Ralphie, one of the students, was sick with a fever and sore throat, so for that day’s outing Ms Frizzle shrunk their magic school bus down to a pin point and they entered their ailing classmate through a cut on his arm. They travelled to his throat to see what was making him sick, but white blood cells, the body’s attack hounds and defenders, saw the magic school bus as a threat and began to attack, and attempted to devour it. Ms Frizzle got them out real quick-like, in saliva the next time Ralphie coughed.

Same sort of thing happened in the 1966 sci-fi classic film, Fantastic Voyage, where instead of a yellow school bus filled with kids, a spacecraft-type ship filled with scientists made the inner journey. The premise was that when an important scientist developed a blood clot on the brain after being shot in an assassination attempt, a small group of medical specialists and scientists boarded the submarine Proteus, which was armed with a laser. They were then miniaturized, inserted into a needle and injected into the patient to remove the clot. They had one hour to complete their mission before they and the ship begin to grow back to its normal size and explode out of the injured scientist’s body.

Besides being constantly attacked by the same hyena-like white blood cells that attacked the school bus, they had to detour through the heart. A cardiac arrest was induced in the patient, to avoid turbulence as they passed through the atria and ventricles. Running low on oxygen, they flew into the lungs to replenish their supply, after which they arrived in the middle ear, where everyone inside the ship and those surrounding the patient outside had to keep very quiet and still, once again to prevent any turbulence. As they got to the clot in the brain, a traitor on board created chaos and the ship crashed. The survivors swam out via a tear drop, and surfaced in the lake of the corner of the eye and escaped by being sucked up in a syringe.

But the Magic School Bus episode that I thinking about was the digestion episode titled, “For Lunch”, which seemed appropriate, considering my digestive tract, at least the bottom half, was soon going to be explored too. In reality, the undertaking of exploring the entire human gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), would be a daunting task, a truly epic endeavour. If it were a movie, the scope of it would put to shame “The Bridge over the River Kwai”, “Lawrence of Arabia” and any one of the episodes of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Chapter Nine

From mouth to anus the GI tract is, on average, nine metres (thirty feet) long, about the average height of a three-storey building. Besides the previously mentioned trillions of cells found in it, there are also about one hundred million neurons which the brain uses for its control and regulation.     digestive system

The entire gastric phase that food goes through takes from twenty-four to seventy-two hours, depending on what was eaten, how much and numerous other variables. But I find it odd that a McDonald’s Big-Mac seems to be given carte blanche to make it through me in under an hour, and a Magic School Bus episode was less than thirty minutes long.

In “For Lunch”, Arnold, another one of the students, gets sick after eating something, so Ms Frizzle comes up with yet another brilliant idea, and herding her kids onto the magic bus, they once again get shrunk down to nearly nothing and head on down Arnold’s esophagus. Though the episode could not detail all they would see and experience during such an epic journey, even though animated, I will ad-lib the narration and try to fill in the gaps.

After putting almost anything solid, other than a yellow school bus filled with kids and a teacher, in your mouth, the process of mastication (chewing) begins. While the tongue and cheeks position and move the food, chewing creates saliva (digestive enzyme) which immediately begins breaking down any starch and absorbing nutrients and energy from what you eat. How and for how long you chew can have a huge impact on your health. The best ways to retain the most energy from what you eat is to take smaller bites, chew until food is liquefied and lost all texture, then swallow completely before taking another bite. The importance of mastication cannot be stressed enough. Because, by the time the chewing is over, whatever is left splashes down into the hydrochloric acid and pepsin digestive juices of the stomach, where it quickly becomes either, if chewed properly, liquefied baby food and easily digestible, or a big fat bolus, a furry ball containing chunks of undigested food.

The stomach, which is a distensible organ and can normally expand to hold about one litre (about two pounds) of food, is where the mechanical and chemical digestion processes continue. It mixes the food down to molecules using peristalsis, which are waves of muscular contractions moving along the stomach wall like an arena crowd doing the “wave” at a hockey game, which furthers protein digestion. It takes a lot of energy to do this, and is why we often would love to take a nap while we digest a big meal. Most of the absorption of nutrients that is taking place goes to the circulatory and lymphatic capillaries through the actions of cellular biology, including osmosis, active transport and diffusion. But if there are chunks in the food it forces the digestion process to expend even more energy trying to break them down. Chunks that are unable to be digested in the stomach scrape their way through the gut, until they get to the intestine, where bacteria will cause it to putrefy and potentially cause a plethora of problems, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive tribulations.

So chew well and savour each bite. With the brain taking about twenty minutes to signal the stomach that it is full, studies show by chewing slowly, one ends up consuming about ten percent fewer calories and burning less energy to achieve it.

Chapter Ten

After whatever is chewed and swallowed, it mixes in the stomach for typically one to two hours, what is left then enters the duodenum, the top part of the small intestine, where a finer break down process takes place using digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile juice from the liver. Then it is onto the small intestine where ninety-five per cent of the absorption of nutrients into the blood stream takes place. This process gets a boost when the gallbladder, the storage tank for the excess bile produced by the liver, releases bile into the small intestine sort of like an automated car wash. This process breaks down even further what had originally been chewed and swallowed.

Another organ, the pancreas, besides being an endocrine gland, secreting insulin which allows glucose to move from the blood into the muscles and other tissues for use as energy, is also an exocrine gland, releasing glucagon when the blood sugar is too low. This allows the liver to break down the stored sugar into glucose, to re-balance the sugar levels. Another very important function of the pancreas, and which is pertinent to this story, is that also secretes digestive enzymes.

At this point in the Magic School bus’ journey, wise one, Ms. Frizzle, glances at her watch and announces that it’s time to return and her class and their yellow school bus head back out, hopefully heading for the nearest car-wash. Waving goodbye, we will continue the journey alone.

Where the small intestine joins the colon, the large intestine, whatever has made it through and still undigested will eventually make its way down the slalom course of the, on average, one and a half metre (nearly five foot) long colon. This process will take about three to four hours. Along the way any remaining water and minerals are re-absorbed into the blood vessels of the colon. The bacteria, which reside in the colon, produce such things as biotin and vitamin K, which are also re-absorbed into the blood. But at this point the bacteria are mostly just dashing madly about like chickens with their heads cut off, frolicking in what to them, is both a Garden of Eden, and a smorgasbord of delicious debauchery. More the chaos, the more the colon’s acidity rises.

Eventually the waste and indigestible make it to the rectum, the final portion of the colon. About twelve centimetres (four point seven inches) long, it is the only straight section in the GI tract, and the storage silo for stools about to be launched.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that after all the hoop jumping of the GI tract that so many of the human body’s problems arise in the colon. Considering all the unimaginable volumes of chemicals, hormones, pharmaceuticals and toxins a human takes in daily, from the food we eat, what we drink and air that we breathe, it’s no wonder our personal sewer pipes have become ever the more toxic and just plain nasty.

Staying between the legs, human anatomy is very functional, and so it should be after a couple of million years of evolution. But for those who believe it was achieved through intelligent design, perhaps Neil de Grasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, can better explain. “I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs. There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.”

Chapter Eleven

Back to the physical exam, and after the x-rays and body fluid samples, it was a couple of months before the party planner, a bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, contacted me with a date for an information/awareness meeting the following month. There were about seven people in my group, where a couple of very positive and perky nurses showed and told us what foods and drinks to avoid pre-op, what to buy to get the colon flushed, and not with embarrassment, the importance of a clean, thus happy colon. We all sat apart, equally uncomfortable. Of course one individual had a list of inane questions to ask, mostly about what could he eat and not eat, and then had to ask them again, all the while remaining just as confused.

We were shown slides on a big screen showing that a clean and happy colon looks like the inside of a light pink, ribbed water hose when inflated, but which usually lies flat. A weak attempt at cleaning a colon showed pools of yellow and brown gunk lodged along its ribs and caked along its sides. We were shown no slides of a colon when in use, as I’m sure we could all visualize the occasional brown train kneading its way down – sometimes firm, sometimes just a flash flood.

I thought we would get together when it was over and gather in a chanting group hug in the middle of the room, wishing each other the best, a “Remember the Titans” moment, but alas, everyone left rather quickly.

Another month went by, and as the date of the colonoscopy neared, the medical terms and conditions about being examined or operated on internally kick in. For a colonoscopy, one is to cease and desist in taking iron pills or supplements that contain iron, and immediately stop eating foods that contain seeds including whole flax, sesame seeds, berries and popcorn, because they stick in the folds of one’s colon, hindering further inspection and generally mucking up the whole exercise.

Three days before, you have to confirm your ride to and from hospital, review your diet for the next two days, and purchase one container of GoLytely (gotta love the irony) or Pico-Salax, both laxative solutions, and four Dulcolax tablets, which is a stimulant laxative. The solutions are intended to create a watery stool, basically they cause diarrhea by increasing the water in the intestinal tract to stimulate bowl movements, while the Dulcolax excites the bowel’s motion to help the flow along. To get the ball or should I say bolus, rolling, you take two of the Dulcolax, two nights before the procedure, the other two the next night on the eve of the planned assault.

The day before, stop eating any solid food, milk, milk products, non-dairy creamers, protein beverages or alcoholic beverages. Ensure-type nutrition drinks and the like are allowed, as they are non-dairy products and happen to taste pretty good in coffee. Only fluids you can see through are allowed, but stay especially away from fluids that are red or purple in colour because they stain the digestive tract. Clear fluids include water, of course, popsicles, though not red or purple, Jell-O, with no added toppings of fruit, clear broth with no vegetables, noodles or meat, clear tea and thank god, black coffee with sugar. Fruit juices without pulp, like apple juice and lemonade are allowed, but no milk, cream or soy. Pop of any kind and Gatorade, Power Aid, and all the other “ades” are taboo. Finally, add four litres of water to the GoLytely container and store in fridge.

Chapter Twelve

About three in the afternoon on the eve of colonoscopy day, it came time for the cleansing. During the upcoming bowel cleanse a typical adult will lose about three to four liters (a gallon) of fluid. So the day before and up to three hours before the exam, they suggest drinking about the same amount of the clear fluids listed above. Being on such a diet, some people get light headed and I’m sure more cranky, craving a Snickers bar, so instead a Gravol is allowed.

I stood before the kitchen sink, took a deep breath and began drinking the voluminous laxative solution. Eight ounces every fifteen minutes until the four litre container is half empty. At ten PM that night, I drank the remaining two litres, at the same rate. They suggest it is best to drink it back quickly and not sip it like a Martini. I happen to agree. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole process.

After you have begun drinking the GoLytely or Pico-Salax mixture, Ms. Frizzle or any other wise person, would stay within twenty feet of a toilet. It definitely begins to flush out the digestive tract, and quite quickly I might add. But on average it starts working within one to three hours, though it’s also known to take up to six to eight hours. After the first few “sit-downs” you have serious diarrhea, basically pissing like a horse out of one’s arse. With each flash flood down the colon scouring any debris and waste along its way. Each time the fluid became clearer, though I was quite taken aback and rather concerned when after about the fourth or fifth sit-down a waft of fish permeated the room.

But that’s the thing, as mentioned, the colon may look like the inside of a ribbed garden hose when inflated with air, but naturally it lies flat, and has been eerily known to hide objects there for years. Like the joke I heard on a TV program, where a singer had just ended their audition song and the oldest judge asked her how old she was. She answered fourteen years. The youngest judge looked over at the eldest and crudely half-joked about the likelihood that, “There are probably pieces of steak older than that in your colon”.

But speaking from experience, I swallowed four quarters when I was about ten years old after being sent to the store for bread. Was X-rayed and told all should be good, but that I would have to check my stools and confirm that all four quarters exited my body. Using a pair of chopsticks as tools, each stool was checked thoroughly. I believe it took about a week for all four quarters to make their way to the end and out of me. And to this day I am still reminded, when I am in contact with one of my sisters, that she did the chop stick check for a promised cut of the take, and that I reneged on the deal. She is still waiting for her cut, with interest of course.

Your bowels are considered clear when you are only passing liquid, though the liquid may be clear with yellow or coloured flecks of stool. If you are unable to fully clean your bowels out, you must contact hospital immediately, instead of wasting everyone’s time showing up with a dirty, unhappy colon.

Over the entire cleansing process I managed to read a few chapters of a book and completed two Sunday crossword puzzles. As to the toilet, I felt it handled itself very well with its porcelain intact. The next time I cleaned it I lifted the seat which was obviously the blast containment ring, and now understand why the underside of a toilet seat is concave. It allows it to withstand intense forces better and deflects blasts back down into the bowl. I love well thought out and innovative designs.

Chapter Thirteen

The next morning in the dark of the early a.m., I walked the three blocks to the hospital sans nail polish, jewellery, body piercings, make-up, perfume, aftershave or other scented products. I did have wads of toilet paper stuffed into both jacket pockets, espying the bushes and hedges lining the walk just in case.

Once received into the hospital you go to the proper ward and are given a bed which gets curtained off so that you may slip into something a little more comfortable, typically a thin sheet opened at the back, which in this case seems so apropos. For many medical procedures, especially a colonoscopy, people are given the most commonly used drugs of choice, a benzodiazepine, usually midazolam, and an opioid analgesic such as fentanyl, for preoperative sedation.

After asking around before hand, I had been told that other than slight pressure from time to time, the actual procedure did not physically hurt, but if drugged, you are impaired for up to twenty-four hours. The fentanyl alone is eighty to one hundred times more potent than morphine and forty to fifty times more potent than one hundred per cent heroin. Thus, no important decision making or signing of documents, no driving a car, nor travelling alone by either bus or taxi, no riding a bicycle, swimming or climbing ladders, going to work or doing business, nor drinking alcohol, smoking pot, taking sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medicines, or even being responsible for another person for a day after the procedure. So I passed on being given the midazolam cocktail.

Midazolam is a short-acting central nervous system depressant of the benzodiazepine family, and is marketed under the names Dormicum, Hypnovel, and Versed. Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of what is called the neurotransmitter gamma (amino butyric acid) in receptors in the brain, resulting in sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties, thus in this day and age it is widely used in millions upon millions of people’s lives, whether they are being operated on or not.

The main reason midazolam works so well is because, besides its other attributes, it produces amnesia. Indeed it calms you from most anxiety, but in actual fact it breaks down the brain’s ability to make memory. If what you suffer from gives you pain, when you take midazolam you still hurt, but you forget about it almost immediately. As such, midazolam and other benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medicines in the world for all sorts of things. It goes without saying, benzodiazepines of any type are also considered to be major drugs of abuse.

In combination with an antipsychotic drug, midazolam is also able to calm aggressive or out of control behaviour of those who suffer from schizophrenia, and is often used as a stop gap measure for treatment of psychiatric emergencies, such as acute psychosis, at least until the effects of lithium and other antipsychotics take effect. Midazolam is also routinely used at low doses on those in their final hours or days lying on their death beds or waiting to go to the other side, as it helps with calming any agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and accompanying twitches, jerks and seizures.

In combination with other drugs, such as vecuronium bromide, potassium chloride and hydromorphone, midazolam is also used in certain US states in executions by lethal injection. The midazolam renders the condemned unconscious, the other drugs are then injected stopping the prisoner’s breathing and heart.  It replaces pentobarbital, which was once used instead, but which was disallowed for use by the drug’s manufacturer.

Other popular benzodiazepines, which have replaced the seriously harmful and once well-used, barbiturates, include Alprazolam. Available under different generic names it is best known as Xanax, and much like other benzodiazepines is short-acting with a median half-life of only one to twelve hours. Similar to midazolam, Xanax also goes straight to the brain, and having the same, as already noted, anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and amnesic properties. A psychoactive drug, Xanax is commonly used for the medical treatment of panic, anxiety, and social disorders, as well as for most forms of depression. Xanax is one of the top ten selling drugs in the world today.

Chapter Fourteen

Meanwhile back at the hospital, a nurse has wheeled me into an examination room. She prepped me by saying the procedure will take from thirty minutes to an hour and introduced me to the gastroenterologist, his assistant, and the star of the show, the endoscope, who I instantly dubbed Snoopy. I was told to lie on my left side, where a large television screen sat before me, ready to record Snoopy’s walk-about up my anus and through my rectum and large bowel. It was going to be an eye opener.

Snoopy is a long soft flexible tube armed only with a camera and a light, but can perform all sorts of feats. Sort of like a Swiss army knife. As it entered my anus it began to pump air in ahead of itself. The pressure of the air to keep the colon expanded like the ribbed water hose it was described as and the initial entry of the doc’s finger inserting Snoopy were the most uncomfortable parts, but did not really hurt. The cramping that occurred at various times simply felt like the passing of a really bad case of gas.

Because the colon is usually lying flat, the air Snoopy pumps in expands the walls of the colon allowing it to see the now well-lit surfaces.  Any fluids, now lying in pools of yellow brown water, are sucked up and out so that no surface area goes unchecked. The live footage on the big screen became fascinating, especially in Snoopy’s dogged determination to check every surface of my bowel. Could not see his tail wagging, but I bet you it was.

You are asked to change your position a little whenever Snoopy has to make his way around a dogleg of sorts. After the rectum, the course starts with a turn through the sigmoid colon, another turn up through the descending colon, and then across the belly to the entrance of the coiled up small intestine, where a stop sign awaits. Snoopy cleans and inspects on the journey in and inspects again on the way out.

Snoopy is even able to have instruments passed on down within itself. If there is bleeding in the colon, a laser, heater probe or needle to inject certain medicines to stop any bleeding, can be quickly sent along. In case of severe bleeding, Snoopy can tie off a rupture using a loop of blue string. If this does happen one is warned not to worry about the length of blue string that will appear in your stool in about seven days. He can also use a steel clip to stem bleeding, which takes about seven to twenty-four days to make its way out and is also harmless. They suggest if you are having an MRI scan or going through airport security, be sure to tell staff that you have a clip attached to your colon.

Snoopy can also perform a biopsy by taking small tissue samples and removing any abnormal growths, such as the previously mentioned polyps, which can be brought back out and sent to a lab for testing.

Snoopy found a small one in me and went right up to it. It looked like a skin sac hanging from a short umbilical line on the wall of my colon. Snoopy seemed to sniff it then deftly slid a wire loop around the base and tightened it up, pinching it off, then instantly cauterized the base to prevent bleeding. Though I watched it on TV I felt no pain.

Though incredibly good at what they do, during a colonoscopy there is a one in two hundred and fifty chance that there could be a complication, such as reaction to the medication or soreness of anus. And there is a one in one thousand chance of bleeding or puncturing of the bowel, and a slight risk, because of medication given, that your stomach contents will aspirate into one’s lungs if you throw up. But the most important risk is the possibility of Snoopy missing a polyp or small tumor. This is why it is imperative that you have a happy and clean colon. If not, you will have to come back and do it all over again. Supposedly they guarantee that Snoopy will be removed from your ass once the exam is over and samples have been taken. And that he will leave the place as if he wasn’t even there.

Chapter Fifteen

Waving Snoopy good bye, I was wheeled back to the general patient dorm and curtained off. A bit of confusion occurred with the nurses when the first one said they will be allowing me time to relax and come down from the medication. “I did not take any medication”, I reply. She frowned, and then told me she would call the person picking me up from the hospital because I would be still drugged up. She left, but a few moments later returned to confirm I had not taken any medication, but really just wanting to ask, why not? I then explained that I was farting and felt a bit bloated but other than that I was fine and not pregnant or retaining water. She chuckles “that’s good”, and explains it’s probably all right for me to get dressed and wait for my pickup. She leaves.

Another nurse quickly appears and asks if I would like juice or water as I wait for the drugs to dissipate. I said I was not on any drugs. Considering I had not eaten for over twenty-four hours, my bowel had just been cleaned, probed, detailed, and a polyp hanging off its wall had been snipped off, I asked if they had the food of champions and another important food group – chocolate milk. She frowned and smiled at the same time, said no and left me alone to dress.

Thereafter, if you do not get chills, fever, severe belly pain, gas pains that do not go away by farting; shortness of breath; rectal bleeding of more than a half a cup of blood, or black tarry “baby pooh”, you are good to go, and will hear back after Snoopy’s job performance report, and whether his inspecting and tissue retrieval work were up to par and a success.

One is able to eat and drink thirty to sixty minutes after the procedure, so after eventually being released, it was off to a little restaurant where m’lady watched me eat. After being dropped off at my place I just took it easy, though later that afternoon did spend some time stomping foot wide mushrooms, which had blossomed up through the building’s parking lot’s sixty-five year old asphalt layer. As they grew upwards, reaching for the sun, they did not see that they had peeled back three inches of asphalt like petals sprouting from a bud. I was in awe, and sad that they had to go.

That night I dined alone on half of a classic Italian sub from Subway, piles of cottage cheese and potato salad sprinkled with shredded Kale and garlic stuffed olives, a couple of honey garlic pepperoni sticks, two chocolate fudge cookies and a nuked cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese. Later I read in bed munching on a bowl of pecans. Then slept like a baby.

Here in Victoria, the wait for results can take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months. Mine arrived by phone, by the same bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, who had contacted me in the beginning. Results were negative, meaning good, but it was suggested that I have another one in three to five years. I smiled right back at her over the phone, thanked her very much and sincerely agreed I would.

Chapter Sixteen

So there you go the tail exploits of a physical exam and a colonoscopy. Seriously, if you are an adult over fifty, especially a male, and you have not had a check-up or a colonoscopy recently or ever, and if you are able to afford one or have coverage, do yourself a favour and get one.

Besides watching what one puts into their digestive tracts, take care of your teeth too, they are important in being able to properly chew whatever it is you swallow. Stay away from cigarettes, and exercise the best you can, because heaven knows there is not much in the way of hunting and gathering going on these days to keep us fit.

And although I often don’t practise what I preach, but will never stop trying, once again, please be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether the air you breathe or food and drink you ingest. Try to make it food which is the least compromised by human added hormones, pesticides, herbicides and chemicals. Eat food that still has the earth’s life energy within it. It’s the perfect fuel for the human body’s digestive system. It is easily distributed throughout the body, and leaves all systems running smoothly, with the power behind them making it easier for them to expel any waste, do any repair work, or fight off any germs, and as a reward, you’ll hopefully possess one of the happiest colons around.

One of the best indicators of what is going on in the body and its overall health, besides keeping an eye on what we cough, spit and blow into a tissue is, yep, you guessed it, observe, assess, and report if needed, our bowel movements. Keep an eye on your stool. It can detect all sorts of things, from bacterial infections to cancers, immune dysfunctions, stress levels, hydration and nutrition.

Pooh itself is about 75% water, 25% fibre, dead and living bacteria, other cells and mucus. The perfect stool is a sausage or a snake that squeezes out quite easily like it has a life of its own, and knows where it’s going. Medium brown in colour and possibly up to 45 cm (18 in) long, with a 5 cm (2 in) diameter. To improve on an ideal stool, drink lots of water and chew fibre, especially hemp, flax, psyllium and chia. Of course there should be a slight odor to it, but it shouldn’t reek and peel paint. Remedy is to take a pro-biotic and eat more greens, nuts, and fruit.

Be aware of the colour of your stool. Light to dark brown, even some shades of green are ok. Pretty obvious what the problem is if your stool is red, while a black stool also could mean bleeding or too much meat consumption. Yellow stools typically mean gallbladder issues or parasitic problems, while white or grey, could show liver disease, pancreatic disorder or heavy antacid use.

If stool is under high pressure and dense, it’s often hard to pass, even painful, so take deep breaths to avoid any injuries to anus, and just take it slow. Allow the muscles to expand and do their job.

If the stool is a bunch of little lumps or balls, like deer or rabbit turds, it’s commonly a sign of dehydration and/or lack of fibre. Greasy and hard to flush often means heavy consumption of drugs, inflammation in digestive tract or food intolerance. And a high sugar intake, heavy spices, food sensitivities, especially hot sauces, makes a stool sticky and wetter.

Beyond the stool, we enter the realm of explosions. Smaller explosions out of the anus is often mild food poisoning, too much sugar or food intolerance. Basically, stuff the body is trying to expel as fast as it can. Do take note, when explosion is larger, and diarrhea like, and lies like an oil slick upon the surface of the toilet water. This could either be severe food poisoning, bacterial imbalances, food intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease. Get checked out, seriously.

If there are white spots in your stool and you have one of the itchiest asses around, it is probably a parasitic infection. Get treatment as well, and wash hands more than often. And if you ever wonder why we even eat corn, since it just shows up seemingly intact in our stools, it is because of the most easily ignored, yet most important and best thing we can do to for our digestive tract, is to slow down when eating. Take three deep breaths before you eat and chew each bite and chew it well.

Chapter Seventeen

Thinking back on the whole experience, I will end this essay with what I feel was the ah-ha moment for me.

When Snoopy was almost completely pulled out, but before popping out of my anus, he stopped and slowly arched his back, bending around to take a visual of my anus looking back from whence he came. It reminded me of the Voyager space probes.

Launched in 1977, the 722 kilogram (nearly sixteen hundred pound) robotic spacecraft, the Voyager I, has been using instruments on board, including infrared spectrometer, magnetometer, cosmic ray, radio-astronomy, plasma-wave and photo polariser systems, to study atmospheric properties and the composition of space as it bee-lines away from Earth.

It has been travelling at 67,000 kilometres per hour (40,000 mph) for nearly thirty-eight years and as of September 2015 is currently a staggering, and hard to fathom, nineteen billion km (nearly thirteen billion miles) away. She is followed by her sister, Voyager II, which was launched three weeks before her, but lolly-gagging along about three billion kilometres behind.

It took Voyager I two years to pass Jupiter, three years to pass Saturn, nine years for Uranus, not my anus, and twelve years to pass Neptune. It has also passed over forty-eight moons. To send a signal travelling at the speed of light (approx. 300,000 kilometres a second), to the Voyager I today would take over sixteen hours.

Since 2004 it has been leaving the sun’s solar system and entering interstellar space, the space between the stars, where the outward motion of the solar wind of our star, the sun, ceases. Though most of the Voyager I’s instruments have been shut down, she is estimated to be able to carry on until about 2025. But even if she were able, the next nearest star is about forty thousand years away.

In 1990, when the Voyager I was only about six billion kilometres (four billion miles) away, and after nine years of having its camera turned off, astronomer and author Carl Sagan, Candy Hanson of NASA, Carolyn Porco of the University of Arizona and the rest of the Voyagers team of scientists and engineers turned Voyager I’s fifteen hundred millimetre (fifty-nine inch) high-resolution narrow angle camera back on. Rotating the camera around to face from whence it came, sixty frames were taken and are the last photos from the Voyager I. Sending the frames back to earth took nearly six hours. One of the frames shows a nearly black backdrop with a smattering of light rays from the sun amidst thousands of pricks of light. In the lower left hand corner amongst the six hundred and forty thousand pixels that make up the image is one of those mere points of light. It measures less than a pixel, zero point twelve of a pixel in fact. A tiny dot against the vastness of space, but blown-up and peering really close or using a magnifying glass, one can see that it is pale blue in colour, and happens to be where all of Earth’s history has happened. And if the whole world consumed as much resources as the United States does, we would need four of them.

Within the vastness of space, one little planet out of many. Moving and spinning around at the perfect distance from the sun for the last four and a half billion years. But this little planet is abnormally heating up, much more quickly than in the past. Reason is because of the way only one, of the millions of other living species that inhabit the planet, has lived over the last microsecond of the planet’s history, over the past few hundred years.

But the nearly seven and a half billion people that inhabit the planet today are not entirely to blame for the ever dwindling and extinction of its resources, and changing climate. In fact where population is growing the fastest today, is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Where all the areas, and countries, that lie south of the Sahara desert, include some of the poorest parts of the world, and lowest carbon dioxide emissions producers in the world. The consumption habits of only about 10% of the world’s population of Earth are to blame, and are responsible for the vast majority of both, carbon dioxide emissions, which of course will change things, and wealth.

Whilst believing in unlimited growth in all human endeavours we also believe this is possible upon this one finite planet. But then as American author, philosopher, and libertarian socialist, Noam Chomsky, has stated,

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.”

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why, besides the cancers erupting with abandon within us, immune systems dying, toxic digestive tracts, and hearts giving out, the soon-to-be number one health problem for humanity is expected to be, if not already, our state of mind.

The planet on the other hand, is losing its forests, its fresh water, while its seas, rivers, skies, lakes, cities become acidified, and ever quickly changing climates become extreme events. Its resources being consumed by greed, and to feed an ever growing population, both of which are already far larger than what this one small planet can supply. A planet which Carl Sagan describes in his 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space”.

“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

pale blue dot

Imagine that, as happen stance would have it, a small blue dot called earth, also in dire need of its own colonoscopy, and a date with Snoopy.

 

 

10/9/15

Sticky Notes and Random Quotes I

pliny the elder

  “Man is the only animal that knows nothing and can learn nothing without being taught. He can neither speak, nor walk, nor eat, nor do anything without the prompting of nature, but only weep.”

-First century Roman, Pliny the Elder (23 – 79), lawyer, author, naturalist, natural philosopher, army and naval commander, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian, comparing humanity to the wonders of the animal kingdom. He died at the beachside resort of Stabiae, on the south-west coast of Italy, sixteen kilometers (nine point nine miles) away from Mount Vesuvius when it blew its stack in the year 79, and which also took out the nearly twelve thousand residents of nearby Pompeii, almost instantaneously.

 

“Fascism is capitalism in decay.”lenin

-Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), also known as Lenin. Russian communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist, he was head of the government from when the Russian Empire was dissolved and replaced with the Soviet Union, a one-party socialist state. He remains an ideological figurehead behind the political theories of Marxism and Leninism.

 

 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

mussolini-Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) also known as ll Duce, was an Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1945. He was the founder of fascism, a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, and venomously anti-liberal, anti-communist and anti-conservative.

 

 

 

“What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. naziism

                                                  (Political poster for the 1932 Nazi Party)

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, regretted. Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing) … You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”

-German professor after World War II describing the rise of Nazism in the 1930’s, to a journalist.

 

“Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause, but by non-participation of anything you believe is evil.”

einstein-Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German born anti-racist, socialist, agnostic, and Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist, who developed the general theory of relativity, also known as the geometric theory of gravitation, which describes that gravity is a geometric property of space and time, in a United Nations radio interview recorded in his study, at Princeton, New Jersey, (1950)

 

 

 

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries – the realists of a larger reality. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”le guin

-American author and staunch critic of the publishing world, Ursula K. Le Guin, (born Oct. 1929) as she accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th annual National Book Awards ceremony, in November 2014. She believes rightly that capitalism has turned writers into producers of market commodities rather than creators of art. Much like it has for most of all the arts.

 

 

 

“We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, hedgesand our banks destroy the economy.”

-Chris Hedges, born in 1956, is an American journalist, activist, author, Presbyterian minister and socialist.

 

 

 

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know. And as long as the general population is passive, apathetic, and diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”chomsky

Noam Chomsky, (born 1928), is an American author, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, libertarian socialist, traditional anarchist, and political commentator, whose ideological position revolves around “nourishing the libertarian and creative character of the human being”.

 

 

 

 

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

-Frank Zappa (1940-1993), American social critic, satirical rocker, jazz-rock fusionist, guitar virtuoso, electronics wizard, orchestral innovator, atheist, anti-censorship, and perhaps one of rock and roll’s zappasharpest musical minds. He strongly believed that the United States was becoming a “fascist theocracy”.

“I believe that people have a right to decide their own destinies; people own themselves. I also believe that, in a democracy, government exists because (and only so long as) individual citizens give it a ‘temporary license to exist’—in exchange for a promise that it will behave itself. In a democracy, you own the government—it doesn’t own you.”

 

 

 

 

 

05/6/15

Leaving – a poem by Owen Kavanagh

Leaving

I’m a romantic to the depth of my soul
profound is my loss for unattained goal
dreams of sharing life with a mate
all I can manage is living with fate

I’m fatalistic – life’s passing me by
caught in a muddle of stuff that I try
like so many others… alone at my core
not even seeing the world at my door

Reincarnation may be the best hope
back to the future just hoping to cope
I’m not actually planning to die on this day
but when my time comes I’ll be thankful to say

“I’m leaving now, for places unknown
I trust you’ll continue to do well on your own
I’ll call when I get there … wherever it be
I’ll send you a postcard when I’m actually free”

You don’t seem excited but didn’t before
you’re not a believer in fortunes of war
somedays may be lonely may even regret
all the years that we lingered after we met

Life has many facets you proudly proclaim
then back to ignoring the love that you shame
you don’t know you’re hurting or being unkind
it’s narrow horizons that make you half blind

When love is so foreign it must seem too strange
when joy’s unfamiliar it’s not in your range
perhaps the kindest thing to be done
is to leave
and good wishes for your life thats to come

twochairs garden

09/28/14

Nuke Me Nuke You

 

NukeBlast

If you are thanking you’re lucky stars for being born in a commonwealth country such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand because, according to the release of The Economist – Intelligence Unit’s, “the best cities to live in the world” report, nine of the top eleven are in these countries, be glad and grateful. Based on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, and including such things as education, what type of crime is prevalent, levels of censorship and availability of good quality housing and goods, the top ten cities to live in the world are Melbourne (Aus), Vienna, Austria, Vancouver (Can), Toronto (Can), Calgary (Can), Adelaide (Aus), Sydney (Aus), Helsinki, Finland, Perth (Aus), and Auckland, New Zealand.  Such places are also some of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you would like to gloat for awhile, please, I didn’t. Because in reality, no matter where one lives, many find life is a struggle most days, especially trying to keep ones sanity intact. But if you are jumping around and fist-pumping, the following article should perhaps not be read at such a time.

It is a piece that formed in my head August 6th, the day of remembrance of Hiroshima, and I started thinking about some research into radiation sickness I had been doing, my knowledge and research over the decades of the accuracies of World War II, and not the Hollywood version, and how in a heartbeat, everything could change, because a few countries have nuclear power in both warheads and reactors, with most of the reactors run past their forty year life-spans. So if you do not need distraction from your distractions, or your bubble popped, the following might be a downer. But then as stated, it could all shatter in seconds anyways.

Such a looming threat though should only make us more concerned into making each day count, for ourselves and those around us and within our communities, and to be aware of such threats, and most importantly, allowing ourselves to talk about such things. If you are going to venture forth and read further, next time you have to vote, think about to whom you will be bestowing upon such a right and who you are hiring, and that your concerns will be acknowledged.  It’s supposed to be our voice, not theirs. And if being the eternal optimists, to remember it is not too late to stop nuclear madness.


 

In the final months of World War II the States were in the process of becoming the new and dominant world empire, since the British Empire had torn her guts out over the course of two world wars and had roared its last hurrah. As for those still alive who actually think Germany would have stormed North America, and we’d all be speaking German are delusional. They could not even take Britain. As for the Japanese, they had no interest in North America, there plan was to delay the Americans, while they took control of the natural resources in Southwest Asia. They felt they had only about a year to sixteen months to take what they could, before the industrial might of the States would produce enough to stop them. They were correct. On a side note, if the American carrier fleet was not at sea the day Pearl Harbour was attacked; the Japanese might have had a few more months’ leeway, at the most.

All over the world, many countries were shaken to their cores, on their knees retching after the previous years of war. Some countries lost a generation of their population, especially when the majority of deaths in World War II, by far, were civilians. All together, including deaths from war-related disease, famine, and in captivity, 85 million people died in World War II, nearly four per cent of the world population at the time.

Military deaths totaled 22 to 25 million, the remainder, 55 million, were civilians. It was what war would become in the 20th century. Drop bombs on cities. Where destroying another’s industry, was deemed far more important than nearly exterminating entire populations. And as the war went on, the bombs became only bigger, and more and more civilians felt their wrath.

In Nov 44’ the Americans were close enough in their island hopping to begin fire-bombing Japanese cities. The majority of Japanese homes and businesses were made of wood and paper. It was a turkey shoot.

By March 45’ a typical bombing raid over Japan had escalated to operations such as Operation Meeting House, carried out that month, where 279 B-29’s, flying at an average altitude of about 2100m (7000ft) above Tokyo, would drop 1665 tons (3.3 million lbs) of incendiary bombs, mostly 230kg (500lb) cluster bombs, which would explode at about 659m (2250ft) releasing 38 napalm carrying incendiary bomblets.  The effect was total destruction.  Forty square kilometers (15.8 sq mi) of the center of Tokyo disappeared in firestorm tornados.  Twenty-five per cent of the city ceased to exist. Over 280,000 buildings and homes were destroyed.

At the time, Tokyo was the most densely populated area in the world, with about 103,000 people every 2.59 sq km (one sq mi). And while there is an array of estimated deaths, with such a density, logic would dictate that it was probably much worse than the estimated 90,000 to 150,000 deaths, and over 200,000 injured.  It would become the single most destructive bombing raid on a civilian population in history, more than even Hiroshima and Nagasaki, four months later.

By June 45’ sixty-seven cities had been firebombed in such a way, with over half a million civilian dead, untold numbers injured and burned, and over five million people homeless.  In contrast, and if you do not include the 9,500 members of the US Merchant Marine who died, the States lost only 2,500 civilians over the course of the entire war, while the Soviets lost over 19 million.

After breaking the Japanese military code in 43’ the Americans had been listening in on Japanese communications, and after June 45’ were receiving a lot of traffic concerning the Japanese perhaps surrendering.  Though officially the Japanese, like Winston Churchill, continued to give word that they shall never surrender, behind the scenes steps were being made towards peace.

The Japanese Islands were surrounded, with nothing going in and nothing coming out. Forty per cent of the urban areas of their largest six cities ceased to exist, with the guts of what remained of their industry totally devastated. And having lost nearly five per cent of their population, over twenty-five per cent of both their army and navy, millions injured, and cities no longer existing, there was no doubt the Japanese were losing the ability to continue or even defend their homeland.

Their last ditch effort kamikaze and banzai attacks, expending men, aircraft, and ships were their last gasps. It’s getting desperate when after losing one of the heaviest and most powerful armed battleships ever made, the Musashi, in Oct 44’ during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, sunk after absorbing seventeen bombs and being torpedoed nineteen times, the other, her sister-ship the Yamato, would steam out with a full complement of crew (3,332 men), and a full payload of ammunition on a one way trip to Okinawa in April 45’. The Americans were on her like a pack of wolves, and after eleven torpedoes and six bombs had crashed into her, she keeled over, her magazines exploded and scattered what was left of her into dust and pieces.  Of the crew there were only two hundred and eighty two survivors.

The Japanese and the Americans, also knew that Russia was on its way, with the Trans-Siberian railway running full out since the defeat of Germany in May 45’, as Russian troops and material were being priority posted to their east coast in preparation for the assault on Japan. The Japanese also knew that if the Russians were to assault them, Stalin would not worry about how many of his soldiers died to take Japan.  And no matter how well they defended their island, the Japanese people knew they would no doubt be nearly exterminated. As it turned out, over the coming months the Americans would give a shot at doing the exact same thing.

The Russians had already beaten the other Allies to Berlin, now their intentions were on beating them to Tokyo as well. This was something the American leadership could not accept. So in typical American logic, to speed up any peace negotiations, they decided to obliterate even more Japanese cities and force them to surrender to America alone. Further deciding to drop nuclear bombs instead of conventional bombs, and call them funny names like Little Boy and Fat Man.

But proving karma can very often be a bitch, after delivering parts and enriched uranium for the Little Boy atomic bomb (destined for Hiroshima) to Tinian, in the North Mariana Islands, the heavy cruiser, USS Indianapolis would continue onto Guam, leaving there on July 28th 45’ and steaming for the Philippines.

At ten minutes past midnight on the 30th, the Japanese submarine I-58 would put two torpedoes into the Indianapolis, and a mere twelve minutes later three hundred sailors would go down with her, while the remaining nine hundred went into the water. Four days would go by until by chance, a PV-1 Ventura, patrol bomber on routine patrol would spot men adrift. Doing a flyby, all they could do was to drop a life-raft and a radio transmitter and get the word out. Later that day a PBY Catalina arrived on scene, and against orders landed on the open sea, picking up fifty-six survivors. Thereafter, the destroyer Cecil J. Doyle would show up and begin coordinating the rescue. Within twenty-four hours, six more destroyers would show up to assist.

While nearly nine hundred went into the water ten days previous, by Aug 8th, when the search was called off, only three hundred and seventeen would come out. The sinking of the Indianapolis is the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy.

Meanwhile, on August 6th Little Boy had been put together, armed and loaded into a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named the Enola Gay. Named by its pilot, Paul Tibbetts, Jr, Enola Gay was his mother’s name, who he honored for her support and strength when earlier he had given up a medical career to become a military pilot. So instead of healing and caring for people, he could instead drop bombs on them.

Before this mission the Enola Gay had practised by participating in the fire bombings of Kobe and Nagoya, two of Japan’s most populated cities. To simulate dropping an atomic bomb, they dropped five-ton pumpkin bombs. Similar in size and shape, as well as ballistic and handling characteristics, they proved to be nearly as destructive, carrying 6,300 lbs of explosives each.

On August 6th, Tibbetts and a crew of eleven would take off from Tinian, and soon rendezvous with two other B-29s, The Great Artiste, carrying instrumentation, and the Necessary Evil, to take photos, because they still did not have any idea how it’d go and how destructive it would be, nor did anyone know anything about how radiation affected humans. They were like babes in the woods thinking they were explorers.

Hiroshima was selected because of the three possible choices, the weather was sunny and clear, which was excellent for the Americans because they wanted to take pictures and see what these atomic bomb things could do. Little Boy was dropped from 9,470m (31,000ft) and detonated at about 600m (1968ft) above Hiroshima, which at the time had a population of about 350,000. Though considered very inefficient, with only perhaps 1.7 per cent of its fissile material (140 lbs of uranium) fissioning, it still created a blast equivalent to sixteen kilotons of TNT (14.5 million kg / 32 million lbs).

One square mile of Hiroshima’s center disappeared, with resulting fires destroying an estimated 12 sq km (4.4 sq mi) of the city. 80,000 people would die, with more than 70,000 people injured and mostly burnt. Nearly 70 per cent of Hiroshima’s buildings ceased to exist.

The Enola Gay was 18.5km (11.5mi) away by the time they felt the shock waves from the blast. Looking back, pilot Tibbetts would describe what he saw as simply “that awful cloud.” It was undoubtedly the moment when some say that the possibility of the apocalypse was passed from the so called gods’ hands, and into our hand.

08/20/14

Teabags by Mrs. Henderson

 

 

Tilling the Soil

 

Whilst making my tea yesterday afternoon I was compelled to ponder. What effect did tea bags have on the staple  industry when our modern world discarded their trusty kettles and Brown Betty combinations steeped just right to perfection, to on the fly zap it in the microwave. Hence having glue fasten our strings on. How relieved must the string suppler have been. How rejoiced the glue factory must have been …. Did they see this shift in demand coming ?

 

 

 

 

08/13/14

Robin the Mensch

RobinWilliams

Robin Williams 1951 – 2014

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

At first I thought it was just me and my often silly human mind. But I felt the earth move yesterday. Not in the physical realm but in the global consciousness we all share. After bumping into people all day who are close to me, I found I was not alone. Prolonged hugs seemed to be the norm, instead of just saying see you later.

08/6/14

The Day that Robert Newhouse Died by C.K.Baker

The news today this twenty-fifth day of July, Twenty Fourteen.

“Man”ing up in Texas

Geldof overdose

Needles at the bed stand

Starlet comatose.

California dreaming

Killer meets demise

Hurling in a taxi

Puke fee on the rise.

Fighting in the Gaza

Jordan’s Holy war

Rebels on a mission

Jihad underscore.

The North Korean riddle

Pales in grand design

Crisis on the border

Planes fall from the sky.

Cooking on a deadline

Tempting tapenades

Herbs are in the spotlight

Wines that give a nod.

Brewers fill the beast

With pork a starring role

50 shades of gray

A freckle and a mole.

Google maps the body

DOW at record highs

Uber hits the market

Corn is on the rise.

Apple on its earnings

Caterpillar dead

European sanctions

Banks have shit the bed.

Clippers threaten boycott

Longhorns follow purge

Lynch is out of training camp

James is on the verge.

Leinarts taking pot shots

Coughing up a lung

Lions take a licking

Fans are throwing dung.

Another day in Vegas

Primm from A-Z

Rolling out an ankle

A flying SUV.

Quiet tempting spaces

Made better by design

Multicolor pea coat

Silence fuels the mind.

Stabbing in the subway

Goat caught in a well

Apes are selling tickets

(but leave behind a smell).

Puberty on trial

A man without a head

Teachers feel alone

(Take them to the shed!).

Jonah’s tomb destroyed

Wreckage in Mumbai

“Sugar Daddy” sites

Freedom 85.

The immigrant debate

Russia’s mounting toll

Unions on a mission

“heads are gonna roll”.

Beaches for the nudist

Hotels are on the cheap

The best generic brands

A list you HAVE to keep.

Planning your estate

Questions from the camp

A mansion up for sale

Where once they filmed “The Champ”.

Midwives threaten action

Aboriginal act

Truckers want a “push”

That train has left the track.

Sharks are found in Fundy

A prized but perilous catch

Food we love to hate the most

An irrefutable batch.

A family on the brink

“I want my kids to fail!”

Politicians drains all hope

A ban on Israel!

Follow out each headline

Let media be your guide

All these things did happen

the day that Newhouse died.

07/29/14

My “Peace in the Middle East” Piece

Quick as a bunny, where is this picture taken?

tehran

 

It’s not entering Vancouver BC, nor any other similiar city in the States. But it could be.

It is but a large, typical human city, with the only differences perhaps being in diet, language and skin color. But then in most major cities today around the globe, multiples of such differences are coexisting within their own populations, and makes such cities, as the one shown here, so cultural, vibrant and alive. People, who are young and old, whether man, woman or gay. Of different beliefs and traditions, yet still get along with one another. A few have too much; far too many have nothing at all, while some are actually comfortably happy in the middle. Such cities are populated predominately by good folk; whose lives sometimes only get disrupted by wayward souls not handling today’s society, elected officials, middle management, entitled and rabid by-law aficionados,  fools, or the occasional true bastard or bitch. Life in the city.

Most are not concerned with world affairs at all, because instead, they are trying to focus on their own life, their own world-view, and the lives of the individuals who make up their life. Just doing the best they can, and trying to make each day count, and perhaps mean something, for not only themselves but for their friends and family as well. Hoping to make a difference and being happy with what you got, and with what one can achieve. All the while simply trying to put food on the table and have a roof over your head where you can crash, quietly, securely and safely. And each day go out into the world and do whatever you need to do, just don’t hurt anybody or yourself doing it.

The picture above is of a city that once the Nazis get done with persecuting, starving and killing, especially those who resist and shoot back, the Jews held within the Warsaw Ghetto, then move into the realm of trying to exterminate them…….. Oh my, I am sorry, wrong century.

The picture above is of a city that, once Israel is done with killing as many Palestinians in the Gaza Ghetto as they can, and then afterwards continue to persecute and starve the survivors, because such people have been made into “the other”, thus looked at as less than human, much like they themselves once were, will be next on Israel’s agenda and list of things to do, and kill if they have to.

Making their enemies, less than, is why in Israeli mathematics, perhaps one, maybe two, Israeli soldier deaths equal, or as often the case, be of greater value than, five hundred Palestinian civilian men, women and children killed.  Or that they stress to the media that they warn beforehand a neighborhood which will be reduced to rubble and that for the Palestinian people to run and hide. Run to where?

The Gaza strip is surrounded. For all intents and purposes it is a large concentration camp. To their west lies the Mediterranean Sea, where offshore an Israeli Naval armada sits and pounds them daily. Their 11km (6.8mi) southern border is heavily fortified by Egypt, who doesn’t like Sunni Muslims, which make up much of the Gazan population. To the east and north is their 51km (32mi) heavily fenced, mined, and armed border with Israel.  While the sounds of jets, helicopters and drones, hum from the overhead sky 24/7. All together, the Gaza Strip is 41km (25mi) long, 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5mi) wide, with an area of only 365 km sq (139 sq mi). Within this space 1.8 million people live, well sort of live, with over half under the age of eighteen. The density is 5046 people every squared kilometer (13,000 people every square mile), making it one of the most densely populated parts in the world. Somebody farts and others will smell it, so of course a tank round’s explosion will kill and maim everyone around it, whether one is hiding or not.

Because in reality, Andrew Exum, a former US army officer and defence department special adviser on the Middle East, and who has studied Israel’s military operations, says this about what is going on in Gaza today, and how difficult it really is to target individuals and not have any collateral damage, “There are good strategic reasons to avoid using air power and artillery in these conflicts: they tend to be pretty indiscriminate in their effects and make it difficult for the population under fire to figure out what they’re supposed to do to be safe.” 

Military analysts and human rights observers say Israel is still using predominately, unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, which are totally inappropriate for use on the Palestinians in Gaza. Exum adds, “[Israel’s 155m howitzer] shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres.” Obviously meaning, the Israeli’s are killing Palestinian civilians on purpose.

As for rockets fired into Israel, it’s a war; and being the elected body, Hamas is allowed to defend themselves and fight for the end of their apartheid, much like what went on in places like Soweto and Belfast back in the day. Besides, their crude rockets are often either shot down, land harmlessly in open areas, or yes sometimes, even fall short. As far as the Israeli population in range, all they really have to put up with is occassional falling from the sky debris, which has only killed three people. Meanwhile the Gazans are getting the holy book thrown at them. Military technology and hardware being tested, missiles, jets, cruisers, tanks, drones, helicopters, ever more heavily armed and supported ground troops, and who knows what, because this time, the Israeli’s are intent of finally ridding themselves of these lesser people they have locked up in Gaza. Especially the children.

According to Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field office in Gaza, it is estimated that so far roughly “373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and the thousands left wounded.”

After Gaza, and with flared nostrils, filled with racism and exceptionalism, Israel will no doubt once again focus and be obsessed with the city pictured above, and its country. But not before world leaders will stand in front of podiums, and in strong voices, once again announce that we must never forget what just happened in Gaza, but must remember it always, so that such a thing may never happen again.

Government controlled mainstream media in Israel, the States, and to an ever greater extent as of late, in Canada, already deems the country pictured above, “the other” as well. So when Israel actually does something, the no doubt disproportional casualties and destruction will be easier to swallow. If they do go in, I’m sure the States especially, but a few other countries as well, like Canada perhaps, will continue to obediently stand behind them in lap dog like support. Hopefully the saner people of these countries, as they are increasingly doing, will stand up and tell those whom they voted for to cease and desist, though I highly doubt such a fantasy happening.

As to the situation in Gaza today, it looks like I’ll sadly have to add an attachment to The Borborygmus Which is Palestine – An Essay on Apartheid, which I posted in December/2012, and after the human atrocities are over in Gaza, I will be able to compare it to the transcripts of the Nuremburg Trials, oops did it again, wrong century. Sorry. I mean compare it to possible future war crime trials against Israel. Though in reality, the States will never allow such a thing to happen, because they are complicit, with no one to hold them accountable for anything they do, much like the Israelis, nor do they both seem to even hold themselves accountable anymore, perhaps they can’t, I don’t know.

As a superpower the States does seem to be fading in many parts of the world, not so much militarily, but the disdain, lack of respect and actions other countries now show, and act upon, towards American diplomats, who are still clothed in attitude and so-called ideals, like so-called democracy, speaks volumes. Much of the chaos in the world today was created by the States, and many sociopathic hawks and beurocrats, running many governments all over the world, are not buying the American loud and proud bullshit anymore, and are willing to take the risk and simply take what they want. Alas, the madness which is human history continues.

 

The picture above………Tehran, Iran   Sept.2012    Photo: Fred Dufour/ AFP/ Getty Images

 

 

 

06/13/14

Prologue to Plague of Guns – A Dense Essay

The border between Canada and the United States is nearly invisible when compared to the sieve of a steel and concrete wall being built between the States and their southern neighbor Mexico. And though there are many similarities between Canada and the States, there are also just as many differences. For instance, Canadians are clearly distinctive, while Americans have to tell everyone that they are. Canadians are also very aware, thus, cautious and resistant to being assimilated by the Americans. At least that’s what we’d like to think. If others look at Canadians and Americans as being cut from the same cloth, they would be grossly mistaken.

The States seems to be filled with characters written by someone else for their own reality show. Their corporate and government leadership and oligarchy obviously psychotic, much like Canada’s as of late. All so out of whack from reality that many of them actually believe they will come out on top even after the earth’s climate is devastated. They trust that they’ll be able to withstand monster tornados, food shortages, earthquakes, oil spills, or a lack of drinking water, or the insanity of the current gun epidemic. And still make money doing it.

But no matter the shock or what the Americans do and say, we watch them like we watch for a train wreck. And though we still peek through our fingers, their ever increasing immoral societal stench those at the top have created, keeps our noses turned away, but you can still smell it. Not only does it cloak us Canadians, but also people all over the world. They have no idea how ignorant they look on the world stage, nor how much their fear and hopelessness is shining through what is a closing window, which when closed, furious anger will shatter.

Their blatantly obvious psychopathic military industrial complex’s foreign policy has made them simply bullies, creating mortal enemies worldwide, which will last generations, all to keep America safe and secure, and of course creating perpetual profits for the American arms-manufacturers.

Guns in particular, have become a plague upon the planet, especially in the States, to the point of being a flesh-eating disease. And much like some other diseases; obesity, consumerism, perpetual war, incarceration, addiction, and ever growing disaster capitalism, the gun epidemic has become a highly profitable venture to a few, while wounding or killing the rest of us, kind of like cigarettes.Plague Mask

With almost as many guns produced during Obama’s first four years of office than in all eight years of George W. Bush’s administration, such a love and proliferation of guns has brought only blindness to the reality that America’s gun epidemic has also become one of its biggest health crisis, something Obamacare could never cure. And even though over 70 percent of Americans want gun reform and more controls, the right-wing white guys will never let it happen. Indeed, the majority of the population in many democracies, including Canada, have no impact on public policy, economic elites like organized lobbying interest groups do.

With cracks in the fabric of present day society splaying out in all directions at a cheetah’s pace when in pursuit of their next meal, the States has become a country that one could swear is either trying to act out a national suicide attempt, or trying to pull off the largest home grown terrorism operation of all time. Like Jim Jones in Guyana, but on a much grander scale, because the kool-aid has already been greedily gulped back. Much of this has to do with the abundance of guns now available, because when unbridled capitalism, marketing, firearms manufacturers, the Republican right wing and the NRA, along with hundreds of their lawyers, got together in the seventies, the epidemic of gun violence in the States began to ever increase in frequency.

These mad organizations and economic systems which have created the current gun violence epidemic, the differences in gun laws in the States and Canada, and remedies and suggestions will be covered in the Epilogue of this essay. A brief history of Canada and the States before and after, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was enacted, will be discussed in the middle of this essay, in what I call the Background Check, because how each country was raised has a lot to do with the perceived need to be armed or not today. This Prologue will let the numbers tell more of the story.

What got me shaking my head, lighting up a candle and pulling out the quill and ink in the first place, was finding out that in the United States there now is nearly one gun for every man, woman and child with little or no regulation in how to obtain one. It was a cry and laugh moment. It is insanity.

When speaking of guns I am including handguns, rifles, shotguns and certain assault weapons, which Americans need in case one of the few remaining big-game animals or a lone rabbit bobbed and weaved fast enough that the first twenty rounds missed it. But I’d also like to add that hunting has never been the issue with guns. It’s been what other people do with them and how easily available they are that has been and is the issue.

In my article, Murder by Gun, posted in September, 2011, I cited the gun numbers at the time; 45 million Americans possessed over 200 million firearms, including 66 million handguns. Nearly three years later, with a current population of 317 million, American citizens now own well over 300 million guns, including 115 million handguns. A further half a million guns are bought by Americans every year, and shockingly, only 12 percent of all these guns are registered.

In comparison, the second most armed country in the world is India. Their current population is 1.27 billion, with over 6 million more people added each year, and yet they only possess 45 million guns.  Today there is one gun for every ten people on the planet. If you include the States in the statistics, that changes the ratio to about seven guns for every ten people in the world.

Over 47 percent of households in America own at least one gun, with 20 percent of the population owning a handgun, which many can walk around with at any time, because of course, just in case. National Rifle Association vice-president, spiritual leader to some, and Mad Hatter of the club Wayne LaPierre, refers to ownership of a firearm as morally obligated vigilantism. Vigilantism I suppose against an out of control federal government, whatever the party, or against perceived enemies, which can only be themselves, and their fellow Americans.

But then LaPierre also sees the world as a place: “where there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping-mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all”, but fails to mention and include the paranoid and psychopathic, which would sum up his breed nicely, as well as his followers. And the fact that all those killers he mentioned are American. While in reality studies show that the gun the American suburban family buys to protect itself and which is kept in the home, is 43 times more likely to kill a household member than to be used in self-defense.

In Canada, with a current population of 35 million, there are about 9.9 million guns, including 1.1 million handguns (a restricted weapon in Canada). Nearly two million Canadians (5.4 percent of the population) currently hold a valid firearms license for almost 7.5 million registered firearms and 350,000 are handguns. Only 15 percent of Canadian households own a long gun, and only 3 percent possessing a handgun. Overall, it works out to about 23 guns per 100 Canadians, while in America, as already noted, there are now basically 100 guns for every 100 Americans.

The American military possesses three million guns, in addition to everything else they have acquired, including the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. They work with an annual budget of $750 billion (20 percent of their country’s federal budget), which is more than the next 16 largest military budgeted countries combined. And though they are not threatened by any nation and are a military without equal, supposedly fighting the war on terror by way of protecting American and corporate economic interests globally, yet totally ignoring the fearful commercial interests, ineffectual politicians and government officials, and the home-grown terrorist, back in the States. And though the States have the most heavily armed populace in the world, their people still live in fear and continue to be the utmost in paranoia and narcissism in one fell swoop.

China has the second highest military budget in the world, spending $119 billion a year, with Russia spending only $59 billion. Canada’s military budget is $20 billion, with the military in possession of 233,949 firearms.

American Law Enforcement who try to keep it together and protect citizens, instead, are faced with two out of every three 911 calls being concerned with addiction and mental illness. This is also the situation in Canada, but in the States the police forces are increasingly being made up of ex-military personnel with skeletons and demons rattling in their own closets as a result of their war experiences. These people possess over one million guns. And much like the country’s military, they exist in perpetual war. In Canada the police forces hold 124,270 firearms.

The States don’t just use their guns to kill each other though; they also produce enough to supply the world. They are the biggest provider of guns globally, selling 70 percent of all guns made. To feed these guns, 14 billion rounds are manufactured worldwide every year, enough bullets to shoot every human on the planet, twice. The States provides 40 percent of them (5.6 billion), or enough bullets to shoot every American 17 times.

Because the States has weak gun laws and few controls regarding access to guns, what an American can buy easily and legally is often just as easily sold illegally to a country like Canada which has more controls. In many States one could buy a handgun every week. Why one person would need perhaps fifty handguns every year is anybody’s guess. But some States have recently “come down hard” and have changed this rule to where a person can only buy one handgun a month. I know. Wow and big deal.

Of the handguns seized in the course of a crime by the Toronto Police in 2010, 70 percent originated in the States and were trafficked illegally to Canada. In Mexico, 68,000 people have died from guns since 2006. Of the guns recovered, over 90 percent were smuggled from the States.

The majority of industrialized countries have some form of gun licensing and registration of firearms, with strict controls on access to assault weapons and handguns. However, only two countries, the United States and Yemen, treat gun ownership as a basic right. The remaining countries view gun ownership as a privilege.

Therein lays America’s problem. In the States nearly every citizen living their life within a society on a planet swirling down the toilet of environmental and moral disaster can get a gun. Furthering the madness, since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection, while in eighteen States; you can walk around in public with a gun on your hip. So of course it is more often the norm that over half of homicides happen after or during an argument between two people who know each other.


There are believed to be about 30,000+ deaths by gun every year in the States, about 20,000+ by suicide / 10,000+ by homicide, with 2 percent of them being children. Guns currently kill more children than cancer does. Not included in this number are the additional 1,000+ deaths per year from unintentional firearm injuries. In Chicago in 2012 alone, 500 people were murdered by gun. This by itself is more than double Canada’s total gun homicides in any given year of about 200 people, or 0.6 people per 100,000. The States averages about six gun homicides per 100,000.

Since 1960, there have been 1.3 million gun deaths in America. Currently 282 people are shot every day; of these, 32 are murdered, with another 51 committing suicide. Examples for context, in Vietnam from 1955 – 1975, 58,000 American soldiers died. These numbers match the American civilian population that dies by gunshot every two years. In the first seven years of the Iraq debacle, 4,400 US soldiers died, the same number of civilians currently killed by gun in the US every seven weeks.

Sadly, considering the States is perhaps the most economically advanced nation in the world, there have been about two mass shootings every month over the past five years, with Americans 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of all other developed nations. As it stands today, one in three Americans knows someone who has been shot. While every year on average, roughly a hundred thousand Americans are killed or wounded by guns.

American males have a 1 in 2,317 chance of being shot at least once in their lives. While the odds of either winning a lottery or dying in a terrorist act in North America, is the same, about 1 in 20+ million. And while one person out of every 100,000 dies by bee sting, at least five people out of every 100,000 will die by gun.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are about 5.4 million violent crimes committed in the United States every year. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders.  Of these, about 436,000 or 8 percent were committed by offenders armed with a gun. And though the US homicide rate (per 100,000), committed without guns, is less than twice the Canadian rate. The rate of homicide with guns in the US is six times higher than Canada’s, with American homicides with handguns seven times higher than Canada’s. This pattern can also be seen in robberies without firearms where the rates are comparable for the two countries, yet in the States, of the half a million robberies every year, 36 percent of them are committed with a gun, a rate of 55 per 100,000. In Canada there are about 32,200 robberies each year, with only 14 percent of them involving a firearm, a rate of only 13 per 100,000.

Though the States has higher homicide, aggravated assault and robbery rates than does Canada, Canada has higher rates of motor vehicle thefts, break and entering, and arsons, with both countries sharing the same rates for theft, about 2,300 cases for every 100,000 people.


Another big difference between these societies relates to the issue of privilege versus right. Holding a driver’s licence and owning a gun should be privileges not rights. No one should be allowed to carry or shoot off a gun or drive a car without proving to the public that he or she can safely and responsibly do so.

The States has 679 impaired drivers per 100,000. Canada’s rate is 277 per 100,000. And while drunk-driving fatalities have decreased over the last couple of decades in both countries, in the States they still represent 31 percent of the over 33,000 traffic deaths in the States each year. Today about 10,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, 30 people every day, one death every 48 minutes. This is coincidently, the same number of homicide deaths by gun each year.

Of the 1,200 traffic deaths involving children younger than 14 years, 17 percent were caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. And while 1.4 million Americans are arrested for driving drunk each year, it only represents about 1 percent of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among adults. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes, injuries and property damage in the States totals more than $51 billion.

In 2010, of the nearly 300,000 Canadians injured in motor vehicle crashes 2,541 died, and of these fatalities 1,082 were impairment-related. It’s estimated that about 63,800 injuries happen every year due to impairment related crashes in Canada – roughly 175 per day. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes, injuries and property damage in Canada, is estimated to be about $20 billion.


Much like the alcohol and drug addiction epidemic, from drunk drivers to crack heads, America’s gun epidemic is not a race problem either. Guns offer equal opportunity tragedies, no matter what the mainstream media crows. And though Afro-Americans do indeed account for the vast majority of homicides by gun, a white person is almost six times more likely to be killed by another white person than by a black person. According to FBI homicide data, in 2011 there were more cases of whites killing whites than there were of blacks killing blacks.

Within corporate-mainstream media, gang-related deaths in the States are thought of as an Afro-American problem, while in fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for the period of 1980 to 2008, a majority (53.3 percent) of gang homicides were committed by white offenders and the majority of gang homicide victims (56.5 percent) were in fact white. According to statistics from the Justice Department collected from 1980 to 2008, white men are more likely to kill than any other racial group. However in gun related homicides, black men outnumber whites, especially when it comes to drug-related offenses. White men top the list in most of the other categories, showing that they were more likely to kill children, the elderly, family members, and their significant others, and tend to commit more sex-related crimes and gang related crimes, and are more likely to kill at their places of employment, than Afro-Americans. Most gun murders involving Afro-Americans are between men and usually over a drug deal. And despite racial biases, studies show that Afro-Americans are no more likely than whites to use or sell drugs, in fact, Afro-Americans make up only 14 percent of addicted American drug users.

Eighty-three percent of gun deaths by white people are suicides, 14 percent homicides, and two percent accidents, with a white person five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, as opposed to being shot with a gun. For each Afro-American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns, the gist being that whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, while blacks are far more likely to shoot others.

In Canada, there are approximately 600 suicides by gun each year or 1.79 per 100,000. In the States there are 20,000 suicides by gun each year (6.03 per 100,000) and as previously mentioned, over 80 percent are white males. One can also include the twenty-two American military veterans who are currently taking their own lives with a bullet every month. Men and women who enlist to serve their country, to make a difference, be deployed to another country and culture, which in most cases are people who wish they could be simply left alone, and hope to help, lend a helping hand and give guidance. Unfortunately they try to accomplish this while holding an automatic assault weapon in their hands. After they come back heavy guilt enshrouds their lives, the nearly schizophrenic disconnect from being told you were helping and defending America, but knowing deep down you were not doing either.

Although the number of suicides by gun is double that of homicides by the same means, they tend to be subdued tragedies, very hush-hush affairs, and only whispered about between family and friends, if talked about at all, though a celebrity taking their own life is big news. Suicide is also absent from any discussion of gun policy, instead it is all about murders, especially mass killings. Yet reality dictates that the availability of guns does indeed increase the risk of suicide, because it allows for impulsive suicides that otherwise might not occur. And while 2 percent of Americans do kill themselves every year, heart disease and cancer still accounts for nearly 48 percent of all deaths in the States and in most of the industrialized countries of the world.

Then there are the non-fatal gunshot wounds. For every two firearm deaths, there are five non-fatal firearm injuries. Of the 30,000+ people who die by gun every year, an additional 65,000+ are treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal gun injuries, while over 30 percent of traumatic brain injuries and 15 percent of all spinal cord injuries in America are caused by gunshot wounds. It is estimated that another 24,000+ gun wounds were either superficial or treated privately. Direct medical costs for non-fatal gunshot wounds tops $6 million per day and are the leading source of uninsured hospital stays, of which half are paid by the taxpayer.


There has been much recently in global news, of the escalating wave of mass killings involving guns. In the States from 1982 to 2012, over one thousand people have been killed or injured in 62 mass killings and counting, with this number rising every month, and as of late, nearly every week. One in five who are killed are 12 years of age or younger.

Half of these mass killings happened in the last seven years. Yet over the same time frame, more people died from migraines and accidents than by mass murderers. In fact, three times as many people died from sunstroke. But still, fifteen of the worst mass shootings in the last 50 years among developed countries happened in the States, with Finland in second place. The States is currently three times more violent than most of the developed world, with the most violence taking place in their southern States. But then American society was built upon slavery, genocide, aggressive racism, euro centralism, and exceptionalism, so what would one expect?

According to the FBI, a mass shooting is where at least four people die and is usually at the hands of a lone shooter, who blasts away in a public space, half the time doing so in a school or workplace. Of the past 62 mass murderers, 48 were white and only one was a woman. Average age was 35 years, with the majority having problems in their lives, just like everybody else. Seventy-one of the 143 weapons used were semi-auto handguns, along with 20 assault weapons and 42 weapons which had multiple, high capacity magazines. The vast majority of weapons used in these cases were obtained legally, only twelve were not.

Yet compared to all gun related homicides, mass killings only account for less than 1 percent of all deaths by gun. But the corporate controlled media loves telling the repeated and hyped-up stories about them, as we obediently follow along, enrapt, and inching ever closer into thinking that perhaps we too should buy a gun – you know, just in case. It’s called marketing.

How we treat mass killings via mainstream group-think, is we focus on the shooters’ skin color (mostly white), or their manner of killing, such as gruesome violence, or whether children are involved, or religion, or national identity. Such events are looked at as simply being a bunch of disconnected incidents that can’t be helped and have nothing to do with each other. Besides, mass killings are always done by the lone shooter, a terrorist, or someone mentally ill, thus, the “crazy man.” But you’ve got to wonder, killings or assassinations, especially when most of the victims in mass killings are either Muslims, immigrants (illegal or not), gays, liberals, women, intellectuals, comrades in arms, students or Afro-Americans.

Many of the mass killings over the last couple of years, especially in the States and Europe, were carried out by white men who often are a member of the racist radical right, and who either immediately killed themselves afterwards or surrendered, mugging proudly for the camera – a terrorist claiming to be a patriot, with their acts not thought of as terrorizing anyone, but instead, hate crimes.


The American laws in some States are such that you can be packing while enmeshed in road rage and completely out of control, or dealing with neighbours, especially if they are a different colour, or the kids in the truck next to you whose music is too loud, or simply someone who’s pissed you off and you feel threatened, as you shout-spit in their face, as a matter of fact, I do own the fucking road and what are you going to do about it. Or as is often the case, with gun in hand, they manage their nagging spouse, because for some Americans, it seems to be in their nature that only through violence and threat of force can they communicate with people. They already entertain themselves in such a way.

The right of every individual to possess a gun in the States also allows people who might be depressed about their life or with lack of future opportunities, at least can own a gun. One can also be panicked and armed, confused and armed, dying for your next crack hit and armed, in a jealous rage, or lost in body and soul, and simply overwhelmed with life, but be packing. In reality, the vast majority of deaths by gun are committed by very sane people, who feel weak or threatened or just pissed off with their life, and have the capability and power that they lack, to even up the score by the use of a handgun that can fire off huge numbers of rounds in a heartbeat.

Such a distorted world view, especially in the southern States, is fueled by intense anger and impotence in controlling one’s own life, which leads to, it’s always somebody else’s fault: the fault of the “other.” People are unaware of having been programmed to act in such a way. Chauvinism, cruel retribution, a perverted Christianity, and the celebration of a mythical white Anglo-Saxon history through cinema, have separated these people from reality, with the next destination along their road – American fascism. They’ve become unrepentant of the past and misinterpret the expectations of a privileged society, simply because one is white. They are also scared of the future, and with their ignorance still believe that a white man’s life exists at the center of the universe.

Most of the people defined above don’t look at the gun epidemic as a problem at all; rather their concern is the right to have a gun epidemic. America has become orthodoxy, where they actually believe they are the greatest country, not only presently, but in all of human history. From the git go, American society has viewed itself superior to other classes, races, origins, habits, diets, cultures and political preferences. They are taught to believe in their own subjective superiority. They feel unique and nearly a divine race. I call it arrogance of the ignorant, simple bravado. And it has distracted them from hearing that the toilet has been flushed on their society.

This facet of American society is, unfortunately, the driver behind their country’s gun problem, because beneath it all there’s nothing but fear and helplessness, with hope and love seemingly unattainable anymore. In the countries in the world where there is an ever widening gap between those who have money and the vast majority who do not, such as in the States and Canada, research shows that more begin to suffer health and social problems, lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, more suicides, more murders, imprisonment, teenage births, less trust, obesity, mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction, than other developed countries. If you add in the fact that people have little or no influence over government policy, with most political decisions being made with no thought to the people. And an ever widening social polarization, deep racism, disintegrating family values, hunger, joblessness, and violence, it’s no wonder many Americans believe that to be disarmed means being further disempowered. But whether actually psychopathic, mentally ill, uneducated, ignorant, abused, or just having a bad day, an American can be reassured that they will survive, as long as they are armed. “Having a gun in one’s hand erases human inequality and alters human possibility.”


As mentioned, mass killings are always big news, good for the advertisers who support the media business, and a boon to the cinema and television industries, because they know such things as evil and madness contain the elements of the unintelligible, things which resist explanation. We watch, grimly fascinated, by such events, yet also feeling guilty for it for some reason, perhaps because we ourselves feel the fear and helplessness against such evil and look for an answer based on the killer’s upbringing and psychological history, desperately seeking an explanation on why they choose that victim, when in fact, an explanation may not exist. And at the same time knowing each one of us has such evil within us, and the ability to lose control or exact revenge. It’s all about how it can be controlled, and having the daily discipline to do so. It is hard work, but peace and love have always worked pretty good.

Some look at mass killers as individuals who are simply responding to the world in which they live, revolting against an injustice upon themselves, whether imagined or otherwise. Individuals confused about their identity, yet fatalistic at the same time, believing they are creating their own actions, thus their own destiny. Others believe a mass killer’s violence comes from conspiracy or influence, where the killer’s self is moulded by others, and somehow deemed more meaningful.

Someone, often adolescent, immature and white, who walks into a school or theatre and starts indiscriminately blasting away, has probably done the same thing on video games hundreds of times already. He has, no doubt, since birth seen literally thousands of images of death, killing, and guns on all sizes of screens, fiction or otherwise, and just maybe, had a typically bad childhood where he was abused, beaten and bullied, and though that person might not even have serious mental problems, we must say they do, and say they are serious ones at that.

A 2001 study done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine looked specifically at 34 adolescent mass murderers (under 19 years) between 1958 and 1999. All were male, 70 percent were described as a loner, 61.5 percent had problems with substance abuse, 48 percent had preoccupations with weapons, and 43.5 percent had been victims of bullying. Three out of four did not have a documented psychiatric history of any kind.

In the States, 6 percent of their population suffers from serious mental health illnesses. If one were to include minor mental health disorders, 26 percent of their population or 58 million people have to deal with this form of illness. In fact the leading cause of disability in the States and Canada today, is major depressive disorder. But these people are not all running around shooting people, far from it. But in the States, when they do decide to kill, they are able to kill in greater numbers because they are armed with a gun, which is usually plural.

Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, and one of the leading researchers on mental health and violence says that:

“just because someone has a mental illness and they committed a crime, the illness isn’t necessarily why they did it. Among these people with serious mental illness, the risk factors for committing a violent crime appeared to have more to do with the overall risk factors for violence: being young, male, socially disadvantaged, and involved with substance misuse. But on the face of it, a mass shooting (for example) is the product of a disordered mental process. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist: what normal person would go out and shoot a bunch of strangers?” “People with serious mental illness are 3 to 4 times more likely to be violent than those who aren’t. But the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent and never will be. Most violence in society is caused by other things. Even if we had a perfect mental health-care system, it won’t solve our gun violence problem. If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, which would be wonderful, but overall violence, would go down by only about 4 percent. I’ve done these back-of-the envelope calculations. If you were to back out all the risk associated with mental illness that’s contributing to the 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the last ten years, you could probably reduce deaths by about 100,000 people. Ninety-five percent of the reduction would be from suicide. Only 5 percent would be from reducing homicide. Mental illness is a strong risk factor for suicide. It’s not a strong risk factor for homicide.”


When we humans are evil, as many of us can be, I’m sure we tend toward being slightly psychopathic for brief moments, for some it can be ongoing, but such behaviour as murdering a group of one’s fellow citizens is not a mystery so much, because it can be socially explained; it is a reflection of our societies. Bad people in the world doing bad things to others are more often than not, simply products of today’s society, with logic dictating that when guns are prevalent there will be more killing, whether mentally ill, or as in most cases, not.

While the adage, that if everyone was armed it would be a real safe place to raise the kids, is utter bullshit. If every talking, stumbling, imperfect, smarter than we need to be human being surviving today’s quickly changing world were armed, the only thing holding our societies back from a blood bath would be for everyone to trust each other unambiguously, and actually expect everyone to act sensibly, empathic, calm, and in control of their emotions: In other words, pure fantasy.

Meanwhile we believe every mass killing is committed by a crazy person, because it makes us feel better. But if the mass murderer is a young Arab man we deem him a terrorist, while a white extremist bombing a mosque or abortion clinic is a hate crime. One of the murderers of the five hundred killed in Chicago in 2012 is a just a gangster. The distraught father killing his family, he seemed like such a good hard working man his neighbours refrain. An American who joins the military and participates in unspeakable actions overseas, returns with no support from government and is often times trying to cope with serious issues in their head, and prone to shooting themselves once returned home, a hero.

The current gun laws in the States, of course also allow the monsters and psychopaths to be armed, for they have every right to do so, though many of them don’t need to be armed, because they surround themselves with bodyguards and henchmen. In fact, many of them are those manufacturing the guns and passing them out like party favours. And though psychopaths by nature are morally insane, they are usually people who “are intellectually above average and understand the nature and practical consequences of acts that are forbidden by law and society, and although they are often highly intelligent, they are simply unable to accept the moral nature of their choices”.


When we humans were still hunters and gatherers, the ones with psychopathic natures were made to disappear and/or be banished, because often their decisions would, could and did, affect the safety and survival of the group. But ever since we began gathering in villages and towns, the psychopaths took control of the food and water and rose to the top of society. Like the gods they created to control us, we can no longer banish them, lock them all up, or make them disappear, because it would decimate Wall St, Washington D.C., offices in Ottawa, and most of the corporate elite, including many dictators, prime ministers and presidents of the world. Though not all are insane, many are undoubtedly highly psychopathic, if we abide by the definition. I am referring to the true definition and not slang. That “People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others, using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get with they want. The symptoms of psychopaths include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others.” It is also not curable, because being psychopathic is not a mental illness.

Though there is no treatment for it, eminent criminal psychology researcher, author, and Order of Canada member, from the University of British Columbia, Dr Robert Hare, stresses that most psychopaths don’t commit murder, but are all social predators, pointing out that, “Much of a psychopath’s behaviour, even the neurobiological patterns we observe, could be because they’re using different strategies to get around the world. These strategies don’t have to involve faulty wiring, just different wiring.”

I bring up the topic of psychopaths within this article on gun violence, not because they are running around shooting everybody in sight because they’re not. Most of them are simply human sharks, moving through their communities, taking what they can from usually the weak and unaware, strictly for their own gratification and egos. And yes many are also at the top of society, who feel and act similarly, with each having their own projects to work on and corporations and governments to run. They operate with greed dictating their methods, no longer worrying about a curtain to shield them from our view, or considering an iota of anyone’s feelings, and are supported by legions of drone-like underlings consisting of lawyers, managers, brokers, bankers, and middle managers.

Two of the worst psychopaths running around today, are the American weapon manufacturers and the National Rifle Association, who have combined to bastardize the Second Amendment of the American Constitution to basically achieve sales targets and ever more vast amounts of cash, which is actually being very American. This is all accomplished because those elected, rather, those who have spent the most money get elected by getting people to vote for them by promising the world. Then when in office they abide by what young bureaucratic whips, party leadership and lobbyists, who have paid the most, tell them what to say and do. What has been produced by such people has created the world’s current gun epidemic. They deal in death for the almighty dollar and nothing else.

In reality, the majority of homicides, whether by gun or not,  arise from arguments, fights, drug deals and domestic disputes, while half of all murders involve a family member or intimate partner. We kill those closest to us. If guns are easily accessible, of course they will be used.

Gun violence is happening around the world, but it should not be so surprising that much of it is happening in totalitarian states disguised as democratic industrialized nations, populated by people who have simply become self-sufficient individuals, who only hang out with others who make similar personal consumer choices. Most are living paycheck to paycheck, if you got one, in a world that has become but a marketplace, which itself is based on fantasy and celebrity culture, with many brainwashed into thinking guns are cool. Many of us are living in communities where the politics are warped, and common sense, morality, and empathy have been lost or significantly undermined. Throughout the population, people are strutting around like it’s all about them, staring deeply into their phones, possessing the personalities of peacocks and attention spans of hummingbirds, maybe even thinking a camera crew is following them around,  This is not the case everywhere of course, but it is spreading as fast as obesity.

All the while climate change continues to affect our only true necessities as human beings, food and water, as our urban infrastructures, social services, education and health care erodes and fall down around us. But we still put on a mask each day and go to work. We are programmed to be proud of what we do, no matter what that may entail. Meanwhile everyone is so overwhelmed with information that they are stupefied, and finding it ever harder to believe what they are told. Underlying all this is what is hidden and ignored, and what is damaging us mentally, the reality that the majority of us are nothing but slaves, with little or no passion, nor love or peace left anymore in what we do; instead many of us are left with nothing but lust and greed for all the things out of our reach. And yes, many of us are depressed in some way, and yes, many of us will experience what could be classed as breakdowns or psychotic breaks from trying to fathom the contradictions that make up our lives where nothing is black and white anymore, just a sickly grey. Into this mixture the States adds insanely vast numbers of guns, colouring the world a far deathlier shade of grey, which inevitably bleeds red.

 

To be continued………