Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Random Facts to Keep You Up at Night

Random Fact the First: Swine Flu vaccines, my Sister's pneumonia, and the novel Catch-22

There is a peculiar neurological syndrome which causes progressive weakness, then paralysis, starting with your feet and slowly climbing upwards, to knees, and thighs, and abdomen, until a person is no longer able to talk or…umm…breath, and often dies. It’s called Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome, and it strikes randomly across all demographics - beware.

In the 1970s, there was a massive inoculation effort against Swine Flu in the states, but an unintended consequence was a massive rise in the rate of Guillain-BarrĂ©, which caused the effort to be disbanded (which is why there’s still Swine flu, today, making trouble inside of my wee sister’s lungs.*) This has led many to believe that the disorder is autoimmune - or a result of a body’s immune system, turned homicidal and misguidedly attacking the self. Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, is among the illness’s most esteemed companions, and you can read about his illness in the co-authored non-fiction ‘No Laughing Matter.’

*Medical confirmation pending.

Random Fact the Second: Bill Clinton, Leonardo Dicaprio, and small, yappy dogs with tiaras

The country of Zimbabwe (and before that, a land mass containing Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi) used to be called Rhodesia, a title which paid tribute to the country’s principle colonizer and rapist of all things pure and good - the English Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902). Rhodes lost his territorial namesakes in 1964 and 1980, respectively, but that didn’t stop his vast empire, which remains massively profitable today.

You’ve likely seen his commercials - Rhodes was the founder of the DeBeers diamond company, which has at points owned 90% of the world’s rough diamonds. ‘Rough diamonds’ sounds slightly better than ‘blood diamonds,’ and Blood Diamond is a film starring Leonardo Dicaprio, which talks about the diamond industry’s disregard for African/human life. It’s a little depressing. If you’re getting a diamond, please buy Canadian.

(I am aware that not a single person who reads my blog is in the market for diamonds. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who regularly goes diamond shopping, but imaging such people, likely wearing monocles and coat tails or holding small, yappy dogs named Giblet, amuses me to no end.)

Also remnant of dear Cecil Rhodes is the Rhodes Scholarship, of Oxford University, of which Bill Clinton lists among the many eminent scholars.

AND finally… Craigslist, Tractors, and Manslaughtered Pedestrians

I am applying for a full-time job, but one of the many job requirements that I lack is a functional driver’s license and a car of my own. I want the job, and so may be willing to go through the song and dance required to get my BC license…and buy a car. If I do so, my tendency towards laziness, as well as my spiffy new job, will likely mean I’ll be driving, on roads, among people, in a city.

Fine line reading: I am a terrible, terrible driver, and my only driver experience was among gravel and tractors, which was absolutely terrifying.

God have mercy on us all.

No comments: