Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flu don't kill people, guns kills people

I'm trying hard to figure out the hysteria, yes, hysteria, over swine flu.

36,000 people in this country alone, give or take a couple thousand, die each season from flu, and it never even causes a ripple in the headlines. Roughly 650,000 people in this country die of heart disease each year, give or take 10,000.

Roughly ten children between the ages of 1 and 4 die every day from homicide and accidents in this country alone.

Yet swine flu, which has claimed one toddler's life in this country (a toddler who had "other complicating health problems") causes hysterical panic. Schools are closed. Vacations are cancelled. But mostly, an entire people, Mexicans, are vilified.

I think we are a people in search of a panic. We seem to need to feed our fears each day: the economy, the threat of terror, and now, the flu.

According to our very own torture-mongering CIA, the infant mortality rate projections for Mexico this year are 18.42 deaths/1,000 live births. For the good old US of A ? 6.26 deaths/1,000 live births.

Oh, and 89 people in this country die every single day of the year from homicide or suicide with guns.

Now there's a statistic I can get hysterical about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Month is almost gone

This is today's pick from the fine folk at Poetry Daily. A good day to drink beer and overeat, and celebrate.

"Terence, this is stupid stuff”
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

"Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, 'tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad."
Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,
There's brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.
And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
The mischief is that 'twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I've lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.
Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour
The better for the embittered hour;
It will do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul's stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.
There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that sprang to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
—I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

No turning to salt

We've turned a big corner in the development world.

After Benjamin’s swimming lesson on Thursday, the last one of this session, I got into the pool with him for a while. A lifeguard asked us if we would mind playing with this other kid. The “other kid” was Darell, who, unlike all the other kids in the family pool, looked to be about 14. He had some obvious differences, looked forlorn, and needed to have some fun. I invited him to join us in Ben’s game of jumping into the pool.

He did join us, and pretty soon all the kids in the pool joined us, having a total blast, although Darell’s splashes were the biggest of all. Ben really loved it, and, after we got out of the pool and showered and he was in his jammies, he insisted on walking back into the pool room and saying good bye to his new friend. Darell gave him a hearty high five, and we said good bye. Ben was disappointed he had to get into his jammies, because that's "for little kids." No more home-from-the-Y-in-jammies.

Yesterday, after dinner, we went back to the Y. Ben’s new pal was there, and once again we all played. Benjamin kept swimming away from me to play with the kids. He barely noticed I was there. He got out of the pool to go pee all by himself, and came back with his swim trunks actually pulled up all the way.

When we got home, he got himself into his jammies, because we had taken a clean set of clothes to the Y for apres swim wear. This morning, he dressed himself completely.

Today, he has been outside most of the day, playing with his friends, coming back once in a while. He has learned that we are number 112, and picks the number out of the line of buzzers outside, opening the outside door when I buzz him in. Just a moment ago he came back in to get his hooded vest, and his Obi Wan light saber, to play jedi with a new friend, Evan.

I just heard him give away his ride-on excavator, a prized possession since his auntie gave it to him three years ago. He gave it our neighbor, three year old August, because "I'm too big for it now."

Unlike the first few steps he took when he learned to walk, he hasn’t even looked back to see if I am there.