Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vargas Llosa

The Nobel, he won. 


Not a fan, not a fan at all. 

Nary a bit.

But it's an Occasion and I'm nothing if not a Celebrant.  So while everyone is tippy-toeing around this decision, undoubtedly mentioning Garcia Marquez within their first two paragraphs, let's commemorate an entirely different event -- one that really did bring the two together, whirligigs, 34 years or so, ago.

For extra credit, who'd win in The Hulk v Vargas Llosa?
Okay, that was too easy...

For an honorary doctorate, then:  100 words on Vargas Llosa and deceit.  (Show your work.)

Vargas Llosa is teaching at Princeton this semester, How to write novels, or something like that.
In a feat of swell timing, he has a book coming out in November.

Feud sensation! Why Vargas Llosa thumped Márquez!Now it can be told: the amazing truth behind the Latin American literary giants' legendary ding-dong.

It is 31 years since Mario Vargas Llosa punched Gabriel García Márquez in the face. It happened like this. "Mario!" exclaimed Márquez happily on seeing his old literary chum after a film premiere in Mexico City. He marched towards the Peruvian, arms outstretched as if for an embrace. "How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!" Vargas Llosa reportedly shouted and decked the Colombian with a right hook. Mexican writers ran around looking for steaks to put on the Colombian's eye. Patricia, it turns out, was Mario's wife.

The two men have reportedly never spoken since. So began one of the greatest rows in literary history, right up there with the Gore Vidal-Truman Capote feud (in which Vidal suggested Capote had "raised lying into an art - a minor art". Capote retorted: "Of course, I'm always sad about Gore. Very sad that he has to breathe every day.")

But the details of what Mario said to Gabriel in Mexico City that emerged earlier this week beg more questions than they answer. What happened in Barcelona? What did Gabriel do to Patricia? Did Patricia like it? And what about the mystery Swedish woman? How does she fit into the story? Why didn't Márquez duck in Mexico City? How could Gabriel not know Mario was angry? Why didn't Gabriel hit Mario back? After all, Peruvian novelists punch like girls, don't they? [Read the rest of this Nobel-Announcement-Day-Worthy piece, HERE...]

[[Thank you, Stuart Jeffries!]]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Three Truths of Grader Boob's Birthday Eve

1.  It is late, in that I haven't gone to yesterday's bed yet; 

2.  I'm desperate, in that loosey-goosey, self-referential, golden-red patina sort of way common only to the truly ultra-diuresed; and...

3.  The research citation, below, from title to conclusions, is hilarity, itself (although dependent on:

1.  bug-eyed insomnia; and...

2.  the attenuated aridity of my kidneys):

End-of-Life Treatment and Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance:
A Potential Association

Phillip D. Levin, MB, BChir, Andrew E. Simor, MD, Allon E. Moses, MD and Charles L. Sprung, MD, FCCP

Chest 2010 Sep 138:588

Correspondence to:
Phillip Levin, MB, BChir, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, POB 12000, Jerusalem 91120, Israel; e-mail:

Background: Great variability exists in the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in ICUs around the world. The contribution of specific ICU care variables to these geographic variations is unknown.

Methods: ICU patients from two ICUs (in Jerusalem and Toronto) who were admitted for > 48 h and who grew a resistant bacteria in any culture during ICU admission were compared with those without resistant organisms across a range of demographic and ICU care interventions. Significant variables were investigated with logistic regression to identify factors predictive of infection/colonization with a resistant organism.

Results: Resistant organisms were acquired by 82/423 (19%) patients. Patients acquiring a resistant organism had a higher incidence of diabetes mellitus (21/82, 26% vs 52/341, 15%; P = .026), were more frequently admitted from another ICU (17/82, 21% vs 33/341, 10%; P = .005), received more antibiotics in the ICU (19 ± 17 vs 14 ± 14 days; P = .005), and had more ventilator (10 ± 10 vs 7 ± 8; P = .031) and central line days (10 ± 8 vs 7 ± 8; P < .001). These patients had a lower incidence of limitation-of-therapy orders (9/82, 11% vs 78/341, 23%; P = .015). Only the absence of a limitation-of-therapy order (odds ratio, 2.62; 95% CI, 1.21-5.68; P = .014) was independently associated with the acquisition of resistant organisms. Further, among ICU fatalities, 5/45 (11%) patients acquired a resistant organism prior to withdrawal vs 17/44 (39%) nonwithdrawal fatalities (P = .003). Nonwithdrawal fatalities received significantly more third-line antibiotics (7 ± 14 vs 2 ± 4; P = .031) despite similar ICU lengths of stay (15 ± 21 days for nonwithdrawal fatalities vs 10 ± 11 for withdraw fatalities; P = .210)

Conclusions: End-of-life treatment is independently associated with acquisition of resistant bacteria. Patients dying without withdraw orders receive more antibiotics and develop more resistant organisms. These patients may represent a reservoir of resistant bacteria in the ICU.

In honor of Grader Boob's very literateness, in lieu of a gift card, in memory of all the poèmes trouvés (volés! volés!) in the cafés and bars of the East Bay Scene, a bit of poesy:

These patients may
represent a reservoir.

Of resistant
bacteria!  Of


ICU, in the

I dunno, Brother-Unit, it just struck me as funny.  You could have taken those same precious research dollars and used them in a way much more advantageous to The Species.  But, in that case, my pome wouldn'ae a-been borned. 

We'll be giving you the Birthday Buzz in the morning, before you head out to do your duty among The Uneducated, The Great Unwashed, The Hoi Polloi. 

Never forget, they pay your salary.  (I'm passing away from mirth.)

In any event, from the instant of your arrival in the back of that London cab, to the moment of your far off departure, a reservoir of resistant bacteria, you've been, among a good many things, a stringent proof of God's existence.  (With extra points for showing your work.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


From Graphis Annual 71/72 by Enrich Huguet, Ad for Diuretic
Courtesy of Jaime Morrison, The Former Nonist

There will be no further meandering blog posts of any substance here at elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle,  until and unless I am allowed to lower my dose of Lasix from its present 80 mg to something that will allow a substantial block of time to be spent outside the bathroom.

(With a blood pressure.)
(And discernible ankles.)