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Migrant Crisis

Friends,

It’s been a lukewarm minute since I last posted here. Beyond indolence, there was a practical difficulty in that I didn’t have a computer and I absolutely abhor typing with my thumbs.

But no need to labour my absence. Here I am. Back in Canada of all places after 10 months on the road which saw me a tear a righteous strip up and down Arizona with my thumb, have a 4-month, beachfront war of the roses with my ex in Nicaragua, and then spend a similar amount of time in Utila, Honduras getting my divemaster certification (also having my first threesome).

And now I’m back in Canada. Not for long though -in 6 days I’ll be flying to Berlin to move in with my Frau, Anna, whom I met in Honduras. I’m excited to move to Berlin because it will be an opportunity to immerse myself among a critical mass of high-functioning people and see how it affects me.

Also excited to see mein frau -she’s teaching me to speak the German

But how does it feel to be back? Like shit honestly. Everything is falling apart at the seams. I feel unhealthy, depressed, angry, repressed and apprehensive. I don’t wanna be in this fuckin’ country. If I don’t hate it I feel hatred toward it. I didn’t want to come back and it’s only because Canada is kinda on the way to Germany that I decided to stop here.

It hasn’t all been bad of course. For starters I get to see family and friends which is always lovely. Particularly I was fortunate in that my two-week window back here happened to coincide with my cousin Sarah’s wedding


Smaller in stature; Larger in retardation

And of course, I got to see my grandmother, Sheila who has been struggling with cancer for the better part of my absence. After seeing her briefly at the wedding this past Saturday (her first foray out of the hospital since being admitted months ago), I again saw her at the hospital the next day. and we talked and joked in a very familiar way, almost oblivious to the sterile surroundings. As we left, I lingered behind to say what I understood might be my final good-bye to her.
We spoke some more and then I grabbed her hand and smiled -it wasn’t an affected smile trying to fight back tears or hide hurt, but rather a large and genuine smile as one soul may give to another as they part ways after a brief (30 year) and benevolent time together.
She said to me, “I guess this is good-bye for a long time.”
“Yes,” I responded, immediately aware that she was talking about more than just my upcoming departure to Germania.
At that she gave me a kiss and told me to take it with me. After one final squeeze I backed away from her still smiling, feeling more closure and peace than anyone in my position might reasonably expect to feel. She’s right, it is good-bye for a “long time,” but I’l see her again, either in this life or the next.

***********

The upshot of all this is that I’m ready to be on my way. As I mentioned above, I don’t feel healthy here. Three years ago was the last winter I spent in Canada and my health suffered drastically, partly as a result of the lack of light and probably partly as an indirect result of depression induced by coming out of a major break-up. From what I understand, Berlin’s weather is more comparable to southern Ontario’s weather than it is to Latin America’s and so this gives me pause.
As well as my concern for my own health, I know that in winter people tend to clam up, stay indoors and generally not be as open. I tend shine brightest in the sun and from what I can tell I have more power to uplift those around me in said circumstances. Bearing that in mind I will have to make extra efforts to engage and interact, rather than resign myself to wintry isolation.
I’m scared though.

Another thing that troubles me about being in Canada is the politically-correct culture. It has in the last few years had such a deleterious effect on me and my confidence as a man that repeated excursions to the developing world became a must; Say what you will about Central America and it’s problems with violence and machismo, but at least you can call something what it is without people complaining that you’re being offensive.
This PC culture, or perhaps more accurately this Socially-Sanctioned Self-Delusion, has indeed fallen to the periphery of my awareness in my absence from Canada, but it never quite disappeared as I was always plugged into social media. However, coming back here, even for a brief few weeks I’m sickened by the atrophied spirit of people.
Is it the weather getting people down? Perhaps.
Is it my own projections bringing me down? Likely that too.
Still, there is a resignation that people have to their own inability to say the things they’re inclined to say and act the way they’re inclined to act. I say “inclined” instead of “want” because I get the sense that people have convinced themselves they don’t want to speak truth. I recognize this behaviour because I suffer from it too and I’m trying to recover so perhaps I’m more sensitive to it. Yet even catching snippets of SNL and Seth Meyers I am reminded constantly that ostensible taboos are framed as “I can’t say _____” rather than “If I say ____ there will be consequences.” The latter is true but the former becomes a limiting belief and it’s a limiting belief that is pushed forcefully on the masses. This is perhaps what I object to most: the snarky voice of progressive western culture saying “You can’t do/say that!”
Don’t ever believe anyone when they tell you that you can’t do something -they are misguided devils trying to limit the godliness within you insofar as it finds expression through your voice and hands.
Normally it wouldn’t be too much of a problem cause I’m only here for two weeks, but I’m moving to Berlin which from what I understand is a very “progressive” city, and unfortunately the experiences I’ve had show me that progressiveness often goes hand in hand with repression. So in the same way I’ll have to double my efforts to keep my energy up, I’ll have to double my efforts to speak my own truth. My first order of business will be getting a job chopping vegetables -I need a few weeks of some mundane labour to process all the experiences and info I’ve been gathering over the last two years and I think prep work in a kitchen is the route I’ll go.

Winter is coming. My watch has just begun. But if there is any silver lining, it’s that I understand Germany is quite amenable to unskilled fighting-age males with darker complexions.


This is the face I’ll endeavor to face this new challenge and all new challenges with.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

#MigrantCrisis

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The Cancer That’s Killing Facebook

My Friends,
   Pardon me for the tongue-in-cheek title of this post, but its a reference to a commonly-used phrase on a website whose name the first two rules of the internet forbid me from mentioning.

Now that you have absolutely no idea what the fuck I am talking about, let me reassure you that facebook is (mostly fine), but I did spot a post from my sister which caught my attention.  It was a CTV report by Lloyd Robertson (evidently from a few years back) which talked about the use of a cheap chemical called DCA which was showing success in curing cancer but whose efficacy was for some reason being denied by the Canadian Medical Association?? Canadian Drug Administration?  Well, whatever the Canadian equivalent of the FDA is anyhow.
   The posting of the video sparked some enmity from two of her friends, one a microbiologist and the other a cancer researcher (its funny how people who post online are always the undisputed experts of whatever topic they are talking about.
   Ian (the cancer researcher) posted first:

Ian: I don’t even have to watch this to know it’s fake. I work in cancer research – anyone claiming to have ‘a cure for cancer’ doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Cancer is hundreds of different diseases, not a single condition that has ‘a cure’. It’s like saying “I have discovered a cure for disease”.

Then:

Ian: Yeah, DCA is an old story. For some reason it keeps popping up despite the fact that it’s been shown to be based on terribly shoddy science over and over again:

http://scienceblogs.com/

insolence/2011/05/

the_dca_zombie_arises_again
.php (I never checked out the link)


I love a good argument, especially with someone who seems to have so flagrant a conflict of interest, so I had to chime in.  But alas I was at work and a calculated response would simply take too long.  So I waited…
   When I got to the computer half an hour ago, the microbiologist, Jas had said his piece:

Jas: Yup, this video is nonsense and dishonest

There was some banter back and forth between Jas and my sister and then I decided to weigh in:

Me: Ian, if cancer is “hundreds of different diseases” why are you even researching it? surely you must see the hypocrisy… 
As well, the venom with which you attack the video (before watching it no less) betrays an interest in not seeing alternative medicines work Cancer research is big business which carries both fortune and prestige for the researchers.

I am unfamiliar with DCA (the video is playing as I write) but I have heard of Dr. Stanislaus Burzynski and his antineoplastins which have had amazing success in Texas but have been brutally suppressed by the FDA and the American Cancer Association (http://www.youtube.com/

watch?v=1qG_ZWs04es). I suppose he is a quack as well?

I will agree with you that in the broader sense cancer has no simple cause or cure: Removing asbestos from a worksite for example does not solve the greater structural problem of an exploitative labour-market system which will negligently subject workers to the next harmful substance with impunity until specific legislation is passed to prevent it.
There is a definite tendency to look at causes and cures too reductively and not consider the socio-economic factors which contribute to the proliferation of diseases.

However, what makes the formal institution of cancer research (the institution I assume you work for) so different? Do you, in your work, address the social factors or look at the more localized (i.e. physiological aspects?) If so, wouldn’t that be no better than someone claiming to have a cure?

You can’t even cry make a cry of “misinformation” at this video, because normal people (me and Tanya for example) are incredibly UN-informed. These alternative medications which presume to threaten the formal institution of cancer research get almost no airplay in mainstream media and that’s no accident.
Unfortunately, people are getting fed up: Years of research and all you guys can offer us is radiation and chemo?
“No” you say? There are other treatments available? Well to the initiated researcher those cures might be known but for the lay-people (again, me and Tanya) you cancer researcher types don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to protesting alternative cures until you show & prove.

Best of Luck.


I linked this video.  Please watch it and pass it to your friends.

Jas shot back:
Jas: You know what they call alternative medicine that works? Medicine.

Then me:

Me: No. “Medicine” is the name for solutions which can be patented and sold for a profit.

The (dis)qualifier “alternative” denotes a more democratic, less profitable solution.In much the same way, solar, wind and geothermal are all “alternative” sources of energy.


Then Jas again:
Jas: Well, you’re right about wind and solar being less profitable, and wrong about “alternative” meaning the same thing in both cases.

“Medicine” is any substance or therapy that has been proven to improve patient outcome. This is why there is no such thing as proven alternative medicine because at that point it becomes medicine.The first sentence you wrote on this thread is ridiculous btw – nobody sees the hypocrisy but you. Cancer is hundreds of different diseases and we will never find a cure in our lifetime. This is obvious to anyone who’s spent a moment learning about it.


Finally, me: Nobody sees the hypocrisy but me? Story of my life…


What I was implying is that someone who gets paid to research cancer in the economic paradigm in which we live has an interest in not seeing other cures taken seriously. I don’t mean to imply that Ian is knowingly lying to anyone, but I would suggest that by being so immersed and ingratiated in any system, one would be inclined to disregard information which falls outside of the realm of approved knowledge. i.e. Einstein was probably considered crazy at first by scientific minds who had made their careers as champions of the Newtonian physics paradigm

Call it overly suspicious, but why would the heads of international cancer research give up willingly the profitable racket they have eked out for themselves by supporting a cure? Like you said, “we will never find a cure in our lifetime.” Imagine that, a perpetual source of income and access to all the research funds you could want. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

I’m not sure where you got your definition of Medicine (a textbook or dictionary I will assume) but I mostly agree: medicine at its core should be benevolent. With regard to the appellation “alternative,” it is simply a disagreement on what constitutes alternative and we will have to agree to disagree.

I’m hurt by your last comment which implies I have never spent a moment studying cancer; I read all of your posts in their entirety.Be well


   This is where the conversation rests right now and I am not entirely certain that Jas will respond (I just posted that last bit like literally two minutes ago).  I figure once people start attacking your credentials they are preparing to bow out while maintaining the illusion of superiority.  
   Now I should say that I did relish the chance to get into an argument (I’m kind of a dick sometimes), but its not like these guys didn’t deserve a check.  Science has to be held accountable and a scientist who does not wish to have to explain himself can very easily attack his opponent’s ability to understand the esoteric concepts with which he deals.  But that in itself is an admission of failure, failure to perform his prime social responsibility as a scientist: to demystify complicated concepts and communicate his findings to the masses.  Not simply attack another voice. That shit seems mad suspicious to me.  
   As well, oh wait, more posts—
Jas: I just don’t think you understand science or the scientific method. All research on cancer is available via published articles and all hypothesis are hotly disputed until the best answer becomes the model (until a better model emerges). Ian is doing cancer RESEARCH, which simply means that he is attempting to elucidate the signalling pathway or mechanism for whichever one of hundreds of cancers he is studying and simply gain understanding. He is not directly researching a cure, or at least, not at all directly.


There is no world conspiracy to suppress knowledge of disease – no entity has that kind of reach.


Me: It sounds like you are at least trying to be more reasonable and fair here and the effort is appreciated. Perhaps if Ian had taken the same approach from the outset my spider-sense wouldn’t have tingled. But he didn’t; he flamed a video and divulged his credentials at the same time. This made it look very suspicious considering that however you look at it his livelihood right now depends on DCA not being effective. You at least see that don’t you?

And your use of the “C” word is not appreciated. Implying someone is a conspiracy theorist is like calling someone crazy. Its dismissive and attempts to invalidate their argument without refuting it. You, as a scientist, should be able to do better. I expect better from my scientists because I put all of my faith in them.Without divulging my credentials, which are modest, I will say that without having the specialized knowledge of you and Ian, I do have a knowledge of science and the scientific method, we simply have different vantage points.


I was going to write a last paragraph but I think I think this last bit of banter will suffice.  Besides, I forgot what I was going to say.  Trust, it was going to be good.  If more posts come up I will use my discretion to see if they warrant posting  and either add to this post or start a new one.  In fact I think I will link this post to the thread.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
   





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