30
Jan 19

“Twitter will ruin us, and we should stop.”

So said Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times last Wednesday, in his opinion piece entitled “Never Tweet”.

He’s right.

And I’m stopping - as I said I would.  I’ve deleted my account permanently.  And I won’t miss what Manjoo rightly calls “the world’s most damaging social network”.

After getting chased off the platform last week, I returned briefly to Twitter on Monday to circulate my “Bitter-tweet” retort to the swarming I endured.

The response to my new post was overwhelming, and almost entirely positive – welcome proof that not everyone has gone stark raving mad.

It didn’t stay positive, of course: that’s not the Twitter way.  Twenty-four hours later the incessant natter of the trans-activist jungle had resumed its Chinese-water-torture cadence, its intellectual depth summed up nicely by a pungent “breathe in all my farts” dismissal of my essay. Read the rest of this entry »

28
Jan 19

(Note to my readers: This essay has been updated, “sanitized” of the hostile “tweets” that peppered the earlier version.) 

I was wrong.

I couldn’t take the heat.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” I wrote self-importantly last month, in response to Twitter blow-back to “Act One” of my trilogy of essays on gender identity.  “But I’ll stay in this kitchen, for now, no matter how hot it gets.”

But that little flare-up was a summer breeze compared to the white-hot Twitter-rage blasted at me last week by an angry mob of trans activists.

I fled the kitchen:  I deactivated my Twitter account, alarmed and demoralized - and frankly a little bit scared. Read the rest of this entry »

6
Jan 19

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said.

He was right, but he wasn’t saying anything new, as anyone familiar with the Bible can attest.

In Ecclesiastes you will find, as ancient precursor to Twain’s observation, this axiom from King Solomon:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

It was Solomon’s words that surfaced in my mind on New Year's Eve as the last hours of 2018 bled away.  I stared glumly into the bathroom mirror at yet another volcanic eruption studding my 51-year-old mug, echoes of my pimply-faced adolescence ping-ponging in my brain.  Zits don’t ordinarily occupy the same territory as hard-won wrinkles - nor should one ever need reading glasses to properly inspect them.

I have my oncologist to thank for this acned absurdity.  One year ago, as 2018 rose unsteadily from the ashes of 2017, the stubborn beast of a cancer in my head reincarnated itself alongside the new year, thumbing its nose at all previous efforts to slay it.  I wasn’t keen to risk another craniotomy after four mighty kicks at that can; I’m all for being “open-minded”, but preferably not surgically.  So, after lengthy discussion with my cancer specialist, I took a flyer on a novel drug, armed with lotions and potions to keep the inevitable side effects at bay. Read the rest of this entry »

28
Dec 18

Short men don’t slouch.

Every single height-challenged male carries himself as erect as he is able, straining to exert every last millimeter of vertical presence.  It’s a verifiable truth - just look around.

Short guys always yearn to be bigger.  Consider, as very public example, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.  By adding five inches to his pint-sized frame with platform shoes and another five inches by combing his hair straight up he stretches at full extension to five feet and seven inches of dictatorial pomposity.

And while most don’t go to the “lengths” of Kim Jong-Un to increase their physical presence, some diminutive males attempt to compensate for their size via out-sized impacts of a different sort.  Take, for instance, Ross “I’m all ears” Perot, dollars-per-inch the richest human alive.  Not content with proving his “big-ness” with massive financial success, the five-foot five-inch American took a bold run in 1992 at becoming President of the United States.  He fell, ahem, short, but took enough support from George H.W. Bush to hand Bill Clinton the presidency with only 43% of the vote.  (It’s a lesson that Canada’s Maxime Bernier, of commendable physical span but alarmingly short on political sense, seems determined to re-learn.) Read the rest of this entry »

15
Dec 18

I was crushed.

“No can do”, said the ethics review board, mustering all of its collective wisdom.

Project cancelled.

Months of work down the tubes.  Long hours burning the midnight oil, precious time carved from what little remained outside of my clinical duties as a trainee in emergency medicine - time spent assembling the countless pieces crucial to a successful research project, combing through hundreds of journals for data to support its premise, devising recruitment and randomization strategies, tweaking study design, and most painfully, stuffing myself through a crash course on statistical analysis.

Some folks take to “stats” as if to the manner born, soaking in the language of data analysis like parched cacti greedily sucking in water.  I’m not one of those people. I was caught one morning, during a mandatory meeting to discuss research protocol design, between two colleagues endlessly debating the relative merits of the chi-square test versus Fisher’s Exact Test. It was excruciating, like being trapped in a migraine sandwich. Read the rest of this entry »

12
Dec 18

The Birds and the D’s

If ignorance was bliss, my fellow humans, we’d be permanent residents of Nirvana.

Because we will always be ignorant.

The Age of Enlightenment upended that dreary calculus, seemingly, by highlighting mankind’s powers of reason, transforming the intellectual and philosophical landscape of 18th century Europe and ushering in unprecedented discovery and inquiry.  “Sapere aude!” proclaimed Immanuel Kant, summing up the exuberance of that era: “Dare to be wise!”  Or, more loosely, "Dare to think for yourself!"

And on that foundation of reason we’ve built a towering edifice of science and knowledge - towering, that is, compared with what was known before.  As I’ve written elsewhere, every era finds us basking in an age of unprecedented enlightenment – until the rear-view mirror of history exposes it as an age of slightly less ignorance.  We scale mountains of knowledge and swim oceans of discovery - only to find mountains more magnificent to tackle and oceans more vast to explore. Read the rest of this entry »

4
Dec 18

The Birds and the Bees

Imagine, for a white-knuckled moment: you are hunkered down on a battlefield, commanding officer to a platoon of shell-shocked soldiers.  Ahead of you lies an open stretch of scrubby terrain peppered with concealed land mines, beyond that the safety of a sheltering bunker; behind you, hard on your heels, a swarm of enemy soldiers.  You have no choice but to go forward, to lead your squadron across that booby-trapped pasture, desperately hoping that your troops aren’t exploded to splatters and tatters of blood and gore.

But at the last second, as you’re about to order that gut-wrenching dash for refuge, you find in your rucksack a detailed map of those landmines.  Drenched with sweaty relief, you and your platoon pick your way quickly and safely across to that bunker. Read the rest of this entry »

18
Nov 18

A Crisis of Identity

One hundred and three.  The number leapt out at me from the little slip of paper.  An incandescent flash of comprehension flooded my brain.

It was fourteen years ago: I was standing beside the trauma bay bed, holding one of Jack’s tiny clenched fists in my hand as I gazed worriedly at his contorted face, his tongue thrusting rhythmically, eyes rolled insistently upward.

His spasming little body was submerged in a beehive of activity, medical personnel busily supplying critically needed oxygen, readying resuscitation equipment, and delivering intravenous medications and fluids.

Paramedics had crashed through the doors ten minutes earlier, wheeling Jack on a stretcher.  It had been a sleepy Monday morning in the ED to that point, the mundane chit-chat of nursing staff disturbed only by the raspy breathing and occasional seal-bark cough of a young boy with croup.  After dosing the young lad with dexamethasone and settling a misty mask of epinephrine over his face to ease his breathing, I sat in the doctors’ cubicle with my resident, killing time by quizzing her on the case we had just seen. Read the rest of this entry »

5
Jun 18

I’ve been keeping my head down a bit, lately.

My recent essay on guns and dead kids, cheerfully captioned Make America Grieve Again, wasn’t likely to generate much in the way of warm and fuzzies, I suppose.  I’ve taken a few shots since I blasted that dark bit of satire onto my blog.  Two shots, to be precise.  Which represents two-thirds of my usual audience - the other third being moi.

Since it’s been rather nice to have a following, no matter how tiny, after decades of muttering only to myself, I thought it best to raise my head carefully above the parapet to respond to my critics.  Maybe they’ll (please) come back.

“You should mind your own damn business,” was the gist of volley number one, courtesy of my lone American reader. (I took a stab at reproducing his comments verbatim but my keyboard caught fire in protest.)

Fair enough, I say.  My talents are few, and minding my own business isn’t one of them.  But I certainly didn’t mean, by any stretch, to suggest that he and his countrymen are nought but a gang of murderous nutcases, or that every street corner in the U.S. is bristling with weapons.  I know perfectly well that’s not true – I lived peaceably and pleasantly in America for years.  That piece I wrote was satire, people.

Read the rest of this entry »

26
May 18

The globe is staggering, reeling under the burden of more than 7 billion people.

We’ve figured out how to feed ‘em all, for the most part, but they’re wrecking the planet with carbon-spewing, globe-trotting, meat-eating recklessness.

And we keep replicating, like viruses, adding 360,000 souls to the teeming mass of humanity every twenty-four hours, with only 150,000 folks gracious enough to shuffle off this mortal coil each day to make room.  We’re not winning.

It’s not for lack of trying.

China fearlessly led the way with its infamous “one child” policy, but the People’s Republic is on the cusp of abandoning that approach after generating a slightly unworkable male:female ratio of 18,000:1, roughly – welcome to toxic masculinity.

We’ve introduced sex education to preschoolers and employed birth control methods up the wazoo.  Long gone are the primitive days of fending off pregnancy by optimistically hanging weasel testicles around one’s neck as foreplay:  the modern world is awash in oral contraceptives, IUDs, condoms, diaphragms, vasectomies, and tubal ligations; and if none of those suit, one always has abstinence as trusty backup, or the rhythm method, or the timing method, or the “running the neighbour’s son off with a shotgun” method – or, in a pinch, the Lorena Bobbitt method, for the aspiring surgeons among us. Read the rest of this entry »