Guns, Cancer, Money & National Priorities

cancer-gunI’ve written a number of posts in response to the gun violence problem in this country, mostly expressing my dismay and outrage that our government has done little to nothing to address the problem, while thousands die every year.

Thankfully, my life has not been directly touched by gun violence. No one I know has been a victim of a shooting. But I abhor violence of all kinds, and I feel genuine pain and sadness with every death reported in the media and at the thought of the thousands that I never hear a thing about.

And all the while I find it unconscionable that nothing is being done about this.

Over the same period, namely the past few years, another trend was going on that I didn’t see as connected … until this week.

While no one I know has been a victim of gun violence, over the past few years an increasing number of people I know, as well as people I have admired and have been inspired by from afar, have been diagnosed with and/or have died from …

… cancer.

In the past few months alone I have simply lost count. Cancer feels closer to me than ever before, even though I lost my mother to the disease years ago, and even though I’m a survivor myself, of a rare and not terribly dangerous deep tissue skin cancer, diagnosed and treated in 2001, and cancer-free ever since.

It seems that every other day I hear of someone else battling or losing the battle with cancer. Just this past weekend I visited a dear friend in the hospital who has been through unimaginable hell during his treatment.

And today, the thought suddenly occurred to me:

If I’m outraged by the lack of action from our government on gun violence, what about our government’s efforts to address the cancer epidemic, which kills MANY more people per year than guns?

guns-cancer

Looking at the $5.21 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute — the U.S. federal cancer research organization — it might seem like our government is doing a heckuva lot.

BUT, when you consider that the U.S. government spends over 100 TIMES THAT ($599 billion) on the military, with over 10 TIMES the cancer budget alone ($64 billion) spent specifically on our new-normal perpetual war, and if you consider that another national and international crisis needing urgent attention, climate change, only gets $21 billion…

… well, that’s a clear case of fucked up national priorities.

Video Fridays: Pavement

pavement-quarantineSo, it’s happened again.

I’ve written before about how I fancy myself quite the student of music, and yet, despite my diligent efforts to know what’s going on, I occasionally discover that a particular band or artist has somehow escaped my attention.

Well, this time it’s ’90s indie, alt, rock, or whatever you wanna call it band, Pavement.

Yeah, I know, I’m only just getting into a band that officially broke up in 1999 and was insistent during their 2010 reunion tour that they were not getting back together again.

I’ve heard of Pavement for all of these years, heard just as much about their frontman, Stephen Malkmus, and his other projects, but it took coming across a video clip of one of my favorite bands, Wilco, doing a cover of a Pavement song for me to finally get it.

I’ve been listening to their stuff all day and find I really enjoy their punk-attitude-infused sound, very electric-guitar-centric, and yet melodic at the same time.

Only time will tell as to just how deep I’ll plunge into Pavement, however painful that sounds, or how long I’ll be as into them as I was today, but for now I’m happy to discover some great music that is new to me.

For today’s Video Fridays installment then, I hope you enjoy, as much as I did, this full show from the 2010 reunion tour.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Headline of the Day: Threats To Male Genitalia, Part II

pacuA few weeks ago I posted a Headline of the Day installment, featuring an article in British newspaper/website The Guardian, with the cringe-inducing headline: Penis transplant patient to become a father

Well, I don’t know what it is with British newspapers, but they seem to have a very specialized interest in threats to male genitalia, evident by this latest cringe-inducing headline from another UK newspaper/website:

Testicle-munching fish species found in US lake

The Telegraph

OWIE!!!!!!!!!

You gotta love the drama they’re reaching for here:

A species of fish best-known for attacking human testicles has apparently invaded America.

It’s an invasion!!! Protect your reproductive organs! Run!!!

LOL!

And could they have picked a better photo to accompany the article? I think not! Coupled with the following bit of information, it makes for a very effective argument that men should avoid these fish at all cost!

I know I will!

“The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off…”

Headline of the Day: Not Your Ordinary Organ Transplant

adamandeveIt’s difficult to know where to start with this Headline of the Day installment, so perhaps I’ll just get right to it.

Dear readers, especially all you guys out there, brace yourselves:

Penis transplant patient to become a father

The Guardian

As cringe-worthy as the subject might be, I have to admit that I was powerless to resist reading the attending article.

And, I really wish I hadn’t, as several quotes induced sympathy pains the likes of which I’ve not experienced before and hope never to experience again.

The man’s penis was amputated three years ago after life-threatening complications arising from a botched circumcision. His penis had developed gangrene…

The man, whose identity is being kept secret, received his new penis from an organ donor in a nine-hour operation…

The professor said that even now there remains some risk of organ rejection. Evidence would include lesions on the skin…

Nine years ago, a Chinese man had a penis transplant, but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.

OWIE!!!!!!!!!

I know, it’s childish of me to exploit this man’s story for entertainment. But, I promise that I AM deeply sympathetic to what he’s been through and thrilled for him and his partner, that they were fruitful and able to multiply.

Sincerely!

Really, I mean it!!!

Cognitive Dissonance: Trader Joe’s Edition

cheese-foodYesterday, while browsing the sizable cheese selection at Trader Joe’s, scanning for any organic choices available to me, the product you see in the photo here caught my eye. (click on the photo to enlarge)

Now, I’m a HUGE proponent of buying organic products, but the questions this one inspires are many, important, and even funny. Here are just a few:

Rumors That Fish & Bicycles Was Dead Were Only A Little Exaggerated

basscycle2Forgive me readers, for I have…

It’s been 10 days since my last post.

And while there really weren’t any rumors of my death, at least none that I know of, for part of my absence it very nearly felt like I was dying.

It started out so innocent: a brief report that I was taking a mini vacation, then I was off to Los Angeles for a 5-day visit with old friends. And yet, on the day I was to return to Fish & Bicycles, I suddenly became very ill, I missed the entire week at my job, and I’m only just now feeling able to write something.

I’ll spare the gory details of whatever flavor of flu it was that got me, but suffice to say it kicked.my.ass.

On the bright side, the trip to L.A. was everything I’d hoped for. Reconnecting with my longest-standing, dearest friends felt like wrapping myself in a cozy old wool sweater I’ve had since high school.

I’ll be back tomorrow with something more typical for me, inspired by my grocery run to Trader Joe’s today.

Hint: It has something to do with food. (/wink)

Being Sick Sucks, Revisited

(Since I’m bedridden by some bug or another, and consequently not feeling inspired to write anything new, I thought I’d re-post something from about four years ago on the topic of being sick. I did edit a bit, because I didn’t like the ending. Hopefully, I’ll be back with something new tomorrow.)

Seriously! Being sick really sucks.

When I was a kid, a sick day at least had a silver lining, it meant missing school. But now, every hour I miss at work is an hour I’m getting behind in my work.

I wrote back in August about how vacation is a double-edged sword, a badly needed break from the daily grind for sure, but that there’s often so much prep work to prepare for a vacation and so much catch-up work when you return, that the time off might not register as having been as relaxing and renewing as one would like.

Well, sick days are worse. There was no warning, no chance to prep, I’ll have tons of catch-up when I’m back at the office, AND I’m lying here in bed in physical distress.

I, of course, am very thankful that I have plenty of accrued sick leave and good health insurance. And so now, in addition to being sick, I feel guilty for complaining about being ill, while millions of people on this planet don’t have the luxury of calling in sick and getting paid for it; while millions of people don’t have any health insurance or access to adequate healthcare.

Being sick sucks, indeed, but for me and my fellow First Worlders, hopefully it engenders compassion for those less fortunate than us.