Friday, December 31, 2010

Witness: The Death of PRN

Jason Smith, ©2005 Endeavors magazine.
The fact that I pass this on here should not be misconstrued as blanket endorsement of PRN and its activities (more like a 50" x 58" "delightfully soft" throw), nor should you look to find any glee at the organization's demise.  You especially should not infer the slightest bit of agreement with any forward-looking political endorsements. 

What you should eke out from this visit is outrage at government excesses in prosecution and criminalization.  You should bring a cold and calculating eye to the activities of the Justice Department, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway and her dealings with PRN founder Siobhan Reynolds in the Kansas Schneider case.

At the end of the day...

It is what it is.

And so on

And so forth...

No, it's not that I don't care, or want you to.  I am tired.

The change needed to support real treatment of chronic pain requires such a paradigm shift by the larger society that I don't expect much more progress in my lifetime.  I mean, first, this medically supervised therapy must somehow substract itself from the ravages of the confused, confusing, and bloody Drug War.  And to do that, the Drug War must either end or be sufficiently infused with clarity and science that it will have moved beyond the horrible heuristics in which it is presently engaged.

One might wish to begin by subtracting doctors from the classification of "drug dealers," noting that the exception makes the rule, and that adequate penalties and avenues for redress are already in force.

Clearly, the Drug War, as currently prosecuted, is one of attrition.  Witness one of its casualties:

The End of PRN
To: The Pain Relief Network Community
From: Siobhan Reynolds
Dec 29, 2010

The Members of the Board of Directors and I have decided to shut down PRN as an activist organization because pressure from the US Department of Justice has made it impossible for us to function. I have fought back against the attack on me and PRN but have received no redress in the federal courts; so, the board and I have concluded that we simply cannot continue.

It is important to note that PRN has been refused standing in federal court to sue the federal government in defense of the patients’ Constitutional rights; this, when the Sierra Club has been given leave to sue powerful entities on behalf of insects. Even after changing tactics by suing under the names of persons directly injured both materially and Constitutionally, the federal courts in the 9th Circuit denied standing to a doctor and a group of his oppressed patients; preventing them from suing the State of Washington for their dangerous and lawless attack on the rights and personal welfare of Washington doctors and patients.

It certainly appears that the legal deck is stacked against pain patients and doctors. Despite this, others will keep trying because so very much is at stake. A group of us may bring another action in the Western District of Washington in the near future; but exactly how that will be framed is not yet clear. In any event, the action will not be undertaken under the auspices of PRN.

People in pain are still being abused, neglected, and left to die by the entire system. Physicians brave enough to treat chronic pain continue to be intimidated and prosecuted. It breaks my heart that we have to stop, but there is simply no way forward for PRN.

With the dissolution of PRN, I will be bowing out, but a group of former PRN leaders are going to keep the web site up (minus the donation page), as a resource for information. Members are free to set up their own talking area elsewhere. I suggest the PRN community put together a Facebook page where the conversation might continue. I would be happy to put the word out about any separate patient efforts. We will also continue to update the news on the site as a public service.

We are proud of all we have accomplished given how little funding we received. The Drug War is a beast. I believe the only legislative efforts that have a chance at changing the current state of affairs are those supported by Congressman Ron Paul. He and many of the groups he supports are aware of what patients suffer. If you want to continue to push for a change in the drug laws, I suggest you do what you can to support their efforts.

Siobhan Reynolds

Some background reading from Cato @ Liberty and Adam Liptak's NYT Sidebar.

To learn more about pain, I suggest visiting the site of the American Pain Foundation.

Mala Fortuna: Stanford Stops the Streak

The jinx lives on.

Shortly after having this thought, I decided to search my blog for previous uses of the word jinx.  Having written about both college basketball and professional tennis, there was no doubt that my deleterious impact upon the success rates of my favored teams and players would be documented here.  I have been more true to my jinx attribute than to any other character trait.

In an aptly titled entry, Blather, I explained the genesis of the curse, as engineered, and then painstakingly nurtured, by Brother-Unit Grader Boob.*  Begun as a common-sensical remedy to my native curse, the jinx method expanded to encompass our mutual academic pursuits, something that would otherwise be inexplicable:
Good morning. It is lovely here: warm, sunny, clear -- you know, when the whites of the sky are opalescent, surrounded by true blue. I am tempted to say "Carolina blue," out of fondness for an alma mater... but as we approach March Madness, I cannot lend support to UNC, or even to little Davidson, despite last year's excitement and the incredible Stephen Curry-- no, I am obliged, academically, to prefer the much deeper blue hue of the Devil. I can't wait for the ACC Tournament, then that inconsequential old NCAA tourney thang... It's my favorite time of year, despite the fact that my brother-unit, the Grader Boob (who owes no allegiance to the Gothic Wonderland), long ago convinced me that I am a bona fide jinx, making a rule that when Duke, or whoever, is in a tight spot -- the fault being me and the bad luck I bring by my proximity to the television set -- I must retreat out of the viewing room and not cross the plane of the doorway. So he would end up munching on Malted Milk Balls, stretched out on his bed, blocking the screen, while I jumped up and down trying to see over him from my position in the hallway. Brother-Units are such fun.

Of course, he is jealous that I planned my academic career by the sporting accomplishments of the various universities I attended. It is a little known fact that admission to graduate programs is contingent upon one's knowledge of the money sports -- basketball and football. I went to every interview in full regalia -- the appropriate jersey, face paint, the giant finger. This and only this can explain my success.

As we promptly noted and celebrated in this space, on Tuesday, December 21, 2010, the UConn Women Huskies broke John Wooden's 88-game streak record for Division I college hoops.  They extended the record to 90 games, an awesome feat, but then ran smack dab into the Stanford Cardinals last night.

I had nothing to do with it.

I swear.

Stanford 71, UConn 59
Stanford Beats UConn to Halt Streak at 90

Published: December 30, 2010

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Connecticut Huskies had been undefeated during the Obama administration, untouched by the great recession, undeterred by the fiercest obstruction from any opponent in women’s college basketball.

No more.

Just as top-ranked UConn had feared, ninth-ranked Stanford was too big, too deep and too thorough inside and out on Thursday, defeating the Huskies by 71-59 at sold-out Maples Pavilion and ending Division I college basketball’s longest winning streak at 90 games.

UConn, which won by an average of 33 points during its streak and won all but two games by double figures, did not lead for a single second, falling to its first defeat since it lost to Stanford by 82-73 in the N.C.A.A. semifinals on April 6, 2008.

Just as Notre Dame bookended the U.C.L.A. men’s 88-game winning streak set from 1971 to 1974, so has Stanford bracketed the Huskies’ streak.

* I am pleased to announce that, on January 15, Grader Boob will be flying into the regional Tête-de-Hergéen supersonic transport hub -- a challenging landing on the southwestern slope of The Alp.  The Brother-Unit and I envision a leisurely manoral weekend with Fred, La Bonne et Belle Bianca, and the three extant Marlinspike felines.  G.B. has a longstanding and unrequited love for The Castafiore (and, truth be told, for the cats) -- I don't delude myself into thinking that filial love is behind this sudden need for a mini-vacation.  Anyway, great plans for great fun are in the works, thus far mostly involving food, flannel pyjamas, and U.S. American college basketball (with jinx provisions).

Oh God, Bianca is getting riled-up in anticipation of both Grader Boob's arrival and her chance to cheer on her favorite teams, an activity that includes dressing to the nines (elevensies and fourths) and operatic productions to beat the band.  As Spectator Athletes of the highest non-professional calibre, we take our Viewing Fashions seriously and can only wish that the athletes we visually support would likewise expend some money on appropriate couture.  Like words, it mattersDo you recall the incalculably noxious impact of Caroline Wozniacki's tennis dress back in September of '09?  I barely survived that Fashion Sentinel Event...

[...] I became somewhat upset earlier in the evening, after watching the Clijsters/Williams match. [Aside: Please note that my customary role as jinx and source of mala fortuna did not come into play; That is, my favored athlete did manage to win, albeit not in a way she, or anyone, liked overly much.]

Actually, I was babbling even before Serena was subjected to that IDIOTIC foot-fault call by The Timid and Conniving LinesWoman. No, the smashing of her racket at the end of the first set didn't set me off -- surprising, I know, given my reaction to Gonzalez yesterday.

No... it was Wozniacki's tennis dress. She is the second woman in the tournament to be a fashion disaster in what can only be described as a Failed Dropped-Waist Contraption. And it was beige. Ecru, if you like. Sand. Café con leche. Whatever.

All that beige really brought out Caroline's pale visage and blond hair.

Yes, I know that the dress is from the new fall/winter Adidas line by Stella McCartney. It certainly does not look bad on Wozniacki, a beautiful girl. But imagine it on your average woman. Imagine it on La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, for instance.

I'm sorry. No, I'm not! It reminds me so much of a schoolgirl's jumper, deliberately ugly, with a band that bisects the wearer at precisely her widest point. Oh, and then let's amplify that impression with... RUFFLES. Quite the philosophical construction -- all business up top, very hip, spare, monosyllabic, c'est-à-dire masculine -- and all fluff down below, very flouncy, excessive, babbling, c'est-à-dire feminine. Oh, the dichotomy. Oh, my. My.

Again, put The Castafiore in it and suddenly even the umpire would be howling "Foul! Foul! Fashion fault!" Alternatively, the tennis audience would cry out, in alarming syncopation, "My eyes! My eyes!"

Oh jeez-louise.  She is really gearing up;  She's deep into her favorite basketball chant-and-step routine, which has a rhythm that Bianca also employs to lend a pleasing cadence to her housework (an equally seasonal event):

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mumford and Sons: Timshel

{{800th post on elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle :::
balloons and confetti falling all about your pointy little head :::
::: and the crowd goes wild :::}}

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, "Lose your sight"
But I can't move the mountains for you

*with thanks to dr. smak