Friday, September 27, 2013

"Outside of a Small Circle of Friends"

good evening, i am going insane.  would you like to come with?

my eye surgeon opined, last week, that i was having an unusual inflammatory reaction in my post-op right eye.  this was no news to moi, as i experienced schizophrenic weeping:  one happy, bright eye;  one red, upset, hysterical eye leaking in much the same manner as my brain.

she got all scientific and crap, actually visualizing with her many shiny toys the aforementioned inflammatory cells.

[i make them nervous.  all of that ocular equipment is expensive, fragile, and often hanging around the exam rooms in odd and unexpected places and ways.  so in i come in a wheelchair, wielding a cane, doing wheelies, waving my shoulderless arms around like a spastic spastic person, losing my balance and reaching out to grab stuff -- anything, even expensive, fragile ocular equipment -- to avoid falling...  okay, so it's not anywhere near that bad -- but you should see their eyes, the fluttering of their hands.  they actually end up more on the twitchy end of the continuum than i am.  it's a gas.]

so... tuesday, we careened back over there, really giving them the heebie-jeebies because in addition to my usual ineptitudes, i was either having an extended asthma attack or developing a rapid pneumonia.  my pressures were elevated, which any layperson could have explained was the result of the hacking and wheezing with which i had replaced normal respiration.  i had called good old doctor go-to-guy and his supernurse, and arrangements were made for me to head over to get a chest film after getting my eye pressures and breaking the priceless ophthalmologic doodads.

no pneumonia, no asthma, just a rapid onset bronchitis, also right-sided, for which an equally rapid antibiotic was added to my collection of jewel-toned pills and capsules.

however, starting yesterday, the joys of hacking and one-sided weeping were augmented by the left eye kicking in, majorly.

i'm sure the surgeries were successful and that i can see again.

it's just that i can't see.

too busy dealing with bugged-out sclera and fuzzy, burning TEARS.  i asked tuesday whether any of the eye drops could actually get into an eye that is forever weeping, and got a throat-clearing sort of answer. doctors need to stand in front of a mirror and practice saying, in a normal, confident voice, "i don't know." who would think any less of them?  not me!

so i religiously apply the medications, and they all immediately join the downstream flow of salty goodness. they'd have a better chance of making it to mine eyeballs if i put them in mine ears.

in the realm of "too much information," phlegm chromatics have shifted from yellows to greens, and i can't remember, or care, whether that means something good or bad.

in other news, i played plumber's helper today as sven labored under one of the manor's thirty-two kitchen sinks.  it was a case of the doohickey not functioning and the plumber's clay or goo or whatever it's called having dried up.  a small leak.  but small plumbing problems still mean having to take apart major bits of pipes and whatnot.  i held the flashlight and turned water on and off when so instructed.  believe it or not, i actually made several small suggestions that were helpful, too.  sven was good-humored, my hand was steady, i felt like a wheezing, histrionic rock star doing community service.

i did a lot of reading, which clearly was stupid, but -- i ask you -- was it worse than spending the day curled up under a quilt listening to music?  there are many chores waiting but my body wasn't having that today. helping sven quell the drip-drip-drip was my best effort.

anyway -- my favorite segue -- one of the things i read was about how the online version of popular science magazine -- something i actually do read -- had reached an editorial decision to no longer allow online comments to their articles.

oh, i bet you think you know me.

"hmm," thought i, in a perfectly reasonable fashion, as i dabbed at my crimson orbs with a fresh kleenex.  "i wonder what brought that about."

knowing it to be a reasonable publication, knowing it, by deduction alone, to be science-based, i figured they had a good reason.  no, i did not phone, email, text, tweet or holler for the ACLU to come defend trampled free speech.  there was no wailing -- couldn't if i'd have wanted to -- about "big brother" coming home to roost, yet again, among my favorite chickens.  [i dunno, i just wrote it, i don't know what it means.]

the reason is sad, and it is one that all of us will understand:

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

for me, as an always correct progressive sort, this was a prophetic ringing of the bell.  i've been driven to distraction by otherwise intelligent people who want to so manipulate archaeological, botanical, geological facts, and other forms of substantiated historical record so that jesus had the opportunity to forgive the dinosaurs while lunching with sinful neanderthals -- just before the start of world war two and that whole charade of a story about the holocaust...

these same people can be shown facts about the frightening sang froid of the bush-cheney-wolfowitz-rumsfeld invasion of iraq by means of deliberate, repeated lying and manipulation of a grieving citizenry and a watchful but essentially trusting group of allied nations... and within minutes, these folks are parroting the lies again, but now they're also impugning your patriotism as an added lying lie.

i could start on the political right and the same process of regurgitating lies about obamacare, the economy, the ecology of the planet, or the overt racism of their entire endeavor -- how dare that smartass, dumb kenyan jigaboo socialist claim the right to try and govern the greatest country on god's formerly green earth?

and i think popular science magazine has it right.  this is grotesque aping of a very sick media culture that feeds jacked-up pop rocks to the brains of already slightly-twisted thinkers.  there's this woman whose tweets i read (because i generally care for her well-being) who grows apoplectic but also eerily HAPPY when she explains how obamacare puts the control of patient care under the devious thumb of insurance companies. you see, before now, her doctor rang up the insurance company and told them how he wanted things done, and the insurance company said, "yes, doctor... of course, doctor."  she thinks obamacare is behind insurance companies' drug formularies -- that they never existed before this black man dreamed it all up.

she is, of course, an isolationist and a fan of us/them constructions, but especially of "not me" verbiage.

her grasp of foreign affairs ends at the end of shock jocks' thought organs and smarmy rants,  and she's simply orgasmic over anything amenable to a conspiratorial story line.

facts, proof, science -- forget about it!  being a lying liar with no responsibility to transmit truth is just plain more fun.

she's not the best example, and far from influential -- i just sometimes despair over the death of common sense, science, critical (and original) thinking in ordinary people.  you know, the salt of the earth.

it makes me want to weep, except that i'd do most anything right now to stop crying a river.

i love political back-and-forth and am guilty of over-the-top yapping just to keep the shuttlecock flying until closing time... but i am, in truth, fiscally conservative, naive about political intentions, a slave to history and yet a poor student of it, and, oh, i could confess my own knee-jerk sins for far too long.  but i research the "other" side of issues as much as i can, and question my self and my opinions sans cesse.

there is also a guilt that i think only a prof, a teacher, can feel -- a sense of truly having failed at one's job, even if that job amounted to nothing but foreign language skills and the literature of "different" people.  every prof, every teacher knows that the mastery of critical thinking and stuff like logic, communication, and learning skills (for a forever plastic mind that forever thrives at learning) are the real objects of our labor, be we football coaches, french profs, or charged with special education.

by the way (another fan-freaking-tastic segue) -- did any of you follow the story of the 80-something year old adjunct french professor who dropped dead from the accumulated effects of lifelong systematic abuse and relentless poverty?  hmm?

[see "The Sad Death Of An Adjunct Professor Sparks A Labor Debate."  you'll be mumble-humming the refrain to "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" before the end of the third paragraph. I've seen estimates ranging from 45 to 75% as the rate at which adjuncts are bearing the undergraduate teaching load at universities these days.  When I taught at UC-Berkeley in the haze of a far distant past, the number was already abominable.  This is why Brother-Unit Grader Boob breaks into frightening bizarro laughter when an angry student throws the ultimate retort his way upon receiving a bad grade:  "yeah, well, i guess you're just in this for the money..."]

if i had any voice at all, i'd be singing some dear old pete seeger piece.

or phil ochs. lately, i've picked up that old fascinator again.  not that i'm calling phil ochs an odd bit of millinery.

why not... let's finish this evenings weeping and coughing up of lung with... "outside of a small circle of friends"?  it has just the odd divergent lightness of tinny piano and tone with the rock-in-the-stomach ring of truth that this whole post has been struggling so to convey.

© 2013 L. Ryan

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for filling me in on the Popular Science comment decision--I'd seen something about it in passing but hadn't slowed down enough to take it in.

    I agree, comment sections can be nests of vipers---I don't think a journal has to have one.
    Hey, maybe they could just print comments that people took the time to write and send in the mail! Like the old days.

    I hope your eye is better soon!


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