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MAGAFL, or the White Supremacist Football League that will be so third-rate that it will be laughable.


Will they use helmets?

The Vast Right-Wing Brain Trust is speckalatin’ that Vince McMahon sold $100 million of his WWE stock in order to resuscitate something like the disaster that was the XFL. I saw this news in the Charleston Post and Courier, but being the hard-digging journalist that I am, I followed up on Breitbart.com to get my finger on the pulse (Result: there is one at the wrist, but the carotid pulse was barely detectable–methinks the brains aren’t getting enough oxygen).

Apparently, there are a core of genius nuts out there that think that hatred of free speech, unquestioning love of the police, bigotry, and a desire to see more on-field violence, jingoistic half-time displays, and I can’t even imagine the lewd sexism of the cheerleading squads will be enough to sustain a football league. I’d say they were wrong with 100% certainty, but then again, Orange Mousselini did get elected. (When one commenter stated that the games should be filled with nationalistic demonstrations, I couldn’t resist saying that first downs should be followed with mandatory prayer,  and I actually got up-voted twice. )

“I couldn’t be happier, now that I’m  playing for the Memphis Grand Wizards!”

I’m scratching my head trying to think who would play in this league? Say someone doesn’t make the NFL draft. Say this someone is African-American, as are 68% of the players in the NFL. How many of those players are going to want to parade themselves in front of a half-full stadium where most of those in attendance are Black Lives Don’t Matter crackers? Maybe with $100 million they can get enough guys to field a team. I wouldn’t blame a guy who spent all of his effort trying to make pro, didn’t make the NFL and doesn’t have many other options from taking a job, but this sure doesn’t seem like a sustainable business model.

players taking a knee

I read the news today, oh shit.


How can you stay active in the world, try and fight the good fight, and still leave the news out of it?

Ya can’t.

But then you seen in the paper that a man went into a burning building 5 times to save people, but only came out 4. Or that the activist daughter of Eric Garner (strangled to death by the NYPD, officers acquitted) has died at age 27, subsequent to complications from an asthma attack.

The murderers of 4  in Troy, NY were found, but the police still can’t bring themselves to say how they were killed, due to the brutality.

I need a break.

The muse, not the news.

I remember the day my clock radio went off, and instead of hearing Brahms, the local NPR (I was in Madison, WI) at the time, had switched to an all-talk format.

I’m going back to music on the box.

New Year


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September. Elul.

Children back in school, since before Labor Day, which is some sort of obscene perversion, that we all put up with form some strange reason. The lawn is a riot of different species, while my neighbor spends hundreds if not thousands on the boring monoculture of something as uninteresting as fescue, or bluegrass, or whatever it is they waste drinking water on. Not on my property. Glad there is no property owner’s association.

Hurricanes. Summer starting to die, and the prospect of another long New England winter lies ahead.

President ends DACA, pardons Arpaio, threatens nuclear war, while life proceeds with the torpor of normality. The dog is an excuse to get out of the house for a walk, the cats view the world from the windows, just feet from a bird who must know that eating the pokeweed berries is safe, a screen keeping the cats at bay. NPR on the radio too much, I have to do something about that.

Jewish New Year about to arrive. Even though mostly stripped of the religious trappings, the imprint of the years and the habit of intense self-reflection, with all of its painful realizations, ameliorated by going to spend time with family, my 1,000-mile distant support system.

 

 

Rabies: 9 years and things are not getting better


 rabid dog
For about nine years now, I have been traveling to Baltimore on a semi-annual basis. I go to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and deliver, more or less, the same talk, year after year,  about rabies.
9 years, and more deaths.
It’s part of the vector-borne section of the course. While not a vector-borne disease (unless we wish to think of dogs as a vector between us and bats–a bit of a stretch, if you ask me), rabies is considered one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and because it’s a preventable cause of horrific and needless suffering it needs to be somewhere.
Opening Salvo
I always preface my talk with two informal survey questions:
  1. Does anyone know what the OIE is?
  2. Does anyone know what One Health is?
Answers:
  1. OIE stands for Office International des Epizooties, or World Organisation for Animal Health (yes, they use the British spelling of “organization, which I think is a political statement, but that’s another post). It’s kind of like the WHO for animals, and it is based in Paris.
  2. One Health is a concept advanced by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and other organizations. The CDC states “One Health recognizes that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The goal of One Health is to encourage the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines-working locally, nationally, and globally-to achieve the best health for people, animals, and our environment.”
I think that over the years, I’ve had maybe three ‘yes’ answers to these questions, combined. The conclusions are obvious:
  1. The OIE is failing in its mission to educate the other health professions, as well as the general public, on the importance of animal health, both as it relates to animals alone and to human health as well.
  2. The One Health concept is a failed attempt by the veterinary profession to assert its presence into discussions of public health. It represents the profession’s inability to move itself from the general world of agriculture (where it is also clearly important) and place itself among the disciplines of other health sciences.
(As a veterinarian, we are used to being the red headed stepchild of the medical professions, so this doesn’t really surprise or irk me. Sometimes, we even create brilliant concepts, like One Health, so we can pretend that it’s really a thing for those outside of our bubble.)
So, what’s the problem here, specifically regarding rabies?
Let me preface this by saying that , I don’t really trust rabies statistics. The latest updates I’m reading estimate the annual number of rabies deaths at 59,000.  Given that most of these deaths come from rural areas in Africa and Asia with poor access to treatment and prevention, I’m not sure how they come up with that number. (On my to-do list: contact a rabies epidemiologist.) What I do know is that when I first started giving the talk, the number was 25,000 – 50,000. The range itself, varying by 100% of the low number, inspires doubt in and of itself.
That noted, the trend over the past nine years is at best level, and at worst shows an increase of 18%. Rabies does not get a lot of attention. Most diseases of the poor—Chagas’ disease, cysticercosis, leishmaniasis, hydatid disease, and others—get little attention. AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are the exceptions, but two of those are not restricted to poor areas overseas. Rabies kills “only” 59,000 people a year, a number that pales in comparison to the other diseases listed here. But working on one disease does not preclude working on another.  Rabies is low hanging fruit. The numbers of rabies deaths are skewed towards children.  Rabies is not a medical mystery. The bottom line is that no one should die the horrible death that comes with rabies infection.

 

Father’s Day: The Most Important Holiday of the Year


No breakfast in bed, no sleeping in. I had to work on Father’s Day.

father's day

Before you start knitting your brow with sympathy, you should know that I teach sailing. It’s not like I sit in a cubicle, wondering why the hell I’m sitting in a cubicle on a beautiful day in June. I’m out on the water, loving life and trying to teach adults upwind from downwind (which can be astoundingly difficult for some).

My son was working from 3-8. He doesn’t drive, and I was going to be out on the water. I had to ask the former wife to drive him to work. She said that would be OK, but I had to leave him at her house overnight, because it’s too much trouble to drive to my house, all of less than 2 miles from her house. My daughter was already staying at her house that night. She doesn’t always tolerate the level of disorganization that I can, and that’s OK (and another subject).

I ignored the request and had my son sleep at my house anyway. I can’t count the number of trips I make every week over to the other residence, to pick them up, to retrieve a needed piece of homework, to get shoes for my 13 year-old daughter, who inexplicably arrived at my house without suitable–or sometimes any–footwear.  But the disparity in number of trips made is another raspberry seed in a stuck in a molar. Forget about it, it falls out eventually.

I knew I’d be out of the house hours before my dormouse of a teen-aged son even cracked his eyelids a wee bit open.  That didn’t matter. I don’t really need much for Father’s Day. In fact, I only need one thing: a single wish that I have a happy Father’s Day from both of my children.

That’s what I needed. I wanted a little bit more. I wanted to wake up with at least one of my children in the house, whether or not we’d be able to exchange good mornings. I can’t explain, but it meant a lot to me. I live far from my family, in a part of the country where I don’t have deep roots. Waking up  alone in a house on Father’s Day? I didn’t want to give myself a chance to brood about that idea. I’m very good at brooding.

Before I left for work, I wrote a note to my son: don’t forget to call my dad, my step-dad (if he hadn’t been seeing his mom later, I would have reminded him to call the former wife’s dad, as I have always done in the past), and to walk Genius Mutt.

This simple act made me feel contented as I left the house. It was the cherry on top of waking up as father, a child of mine asleep in his room. But it got even better: when I picked up Sam after his work, I learned that he had actually done all three things. Off to Smashburger and Ben & Jerry’s.

When I got home, my daughter was waiting for me. She was concerned that she hadn’t seen me yet, in order that she might wish me a happy day. She also wrote a letter to me–unintentionally sounding like it was torn from a page of Ulysses–enumerating the reasons why I was the best dad in the world.

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