(June 20, 2005)
Where is John Steppling's Review of Swans?
[Ed. Unfortunately and sadly, John Steppling is going through some hardship: His antique computer crashed for the nth time, and financial conditions are such that he needs to focus on making some money. While he enjoys and thinks the work he's been doing on Swans is useful, conditions in Krakow are such that, in his words, "I just can't do what I want at this point. It takes up too much time.....I enjoy it and think it's important....as you know....but I just can't spend the time right now. Alas. We are on the edge of not eating, etc." John hopes he can get back to doing those reviews in the fall. Meanwhile, you can find more about John's writing on his personal Swans' cove.]
Schiavo FolliesSwans Editor:
So now the autopsy results are in: Terry Schiavo was beyond brain dead. In fact, half of her brain had literally dissolved away, turned to water. These scientific findings have produced typical political responses: The true believers refuse to believe it, and the opponents of federal intervention in the case (very muted at the time beyond Floridians directly involved) have embraced the smug satisfaction of "being correct," with no intent to parse the broader implications of the case.
In the politicized run-up to the denouement of this sad spectacle, we were treated to a 15-second video clip, played over and over again ad nauseam in the televised media, of Schiavo purportedly responding to communicative interaction with her parents. And it wasn't just Fox News either, it was on all networks. Over and over again. The absolute pinnacle of this spectacle was reached on the Senate floor with the actions of Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist. Senator Frist, purportedly a heart surgeon before citizen duty called him to political service (practicing in the chain of corporate hospitals founded by his father, no doubt), made a grand act on the Senate floor of "diagnosing" Schiavo as not brain dead based on his "professional interpretation" of these video clips.
Consider the situation today. His "patient" has been proven to have had no sentient brain capacity, and unquestionably no visual abilities. Half of her brain had melted away. Now what does this say about the most influential member of the Senate, a heart surgeon no less? At least, that he reached beyond his professional abilities, to politicize an unfortunate situation as a sop to his fervent pro-life constituency. At worst, perhaps, that he would undermine the credibility of the scientific community he so loudly proclaims membership within. That Senate Majority Leader Frist would renounce the validity of science and any scientific practitioners that don't align with his political goals. The most alarming thing of all is that this is not a major line of assault against Frist, Republican leadership, and President Bush (don't forget he returned from vacation in Texas -- unprecedented! -- on a Sunday night, to sign emergency legislation to allow federal meddling in the case).
This fiasco is consistent with the Bush administration's politicization of the funding and practice of scientific research over the last five years. Yet the cowardly Democratic Party (a redundancy, I know) is so obsessed with proving their religious bonafides to an uninterested populace that they can't even take a stand for Enlightenment principles and our belief in scientific practices. If they are unable to frame to their advantage the ignorance fostered by the untethered relativism of knowledge apparent in the Schiavo case, and proven by the autopsy, Democrats deserve their fate.
Thumb suckers and twiddlers don't make history, they watch and say "oh no!" or "gee, ain't it bad," all the while convinced that their commitment to "what is right and good" and "speaking truth to power" means something. If they can't even defend science in the face of such philistine assaults by cut-rate actors like Bill Frist, their facile contributions to US politics will remain in the dustbin of history.
Lansing, Michigan, USA - June 16, 2005
P.S. Where the f*** is Bruce Anderson, anyway? Our lonely eyes turned to Bruce for sanity for so long that his loss is even greater than the passing of Anne Bancroft (well, almost).
Joe Davison's A Plea To The US Antiwar MovementTo the Editor:
The commentary by Joe Davison is squarely on the mark. The US anti-war movement isn't moving anywhere and that is sad as it is reprehensible. The big two of the so-called movement (UFPJ, ANSWER), are for the most part only interested in gathering donations. One can get solicited on a daily basis from both organizations and it gets annoying. The exact cause of the malaise that hangs over the peace movement is a mite elusive. Maybe the answer is as simple as, no one cares anymore. The horrors that are waged by the Bush administration and the astounding silence from the American people over these revelations as they are made give much credence to the "no one cares anymore" confrontation. Calls to protest that are scheduled months in advance lack the spontaneity and energy necessary for mobilization of concerned folk. I believe the actual reason for the movement's inaction is that the American people on the left and the right are just lost. The American political process is corrupt beyond salvation and this corruption is in the process of doing its evil work throughout America, and our democratic republic is done. But hey, that's just me.
Murray, Utah, USA - June 6, 2005
Not In Our Name: Genocidal policiesTo the Editor:
The Ruler is responsible for the Ruled. However the latest UN demographic data show that grossly insufficient provision of life-preserving requisites by the Occupying Coalition has been associated with a post-invasion under-5 infant mortality of about 0.3 million in Iraq and 1.2 million in Afghanistan -- 1.5 million in total, 0.4 million per year and over 1,000 under 5-year-old infant deaths EVERY DAY.
Anglo-American and Australian mainstream media knowingly and resolutely IGNORE this horrendous passive genocide -- for details see "Orwellian Anglo-American War on Muslim Women and Children" in News Central Asia.
"Holocaust denial is utterly repugnant -- whether it is denial of the World War Two Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims), the horrendous but 'forgotten' man-made Bengal Famine in World War Two British-ruled India (4 million Hindu and Muslim victims) or of continuing First World-complicit avoidable mass mortality in the substantially Muslim non-European World (total post-1950 avoidable mortality now 1.2 billion including a Muslim Holocaust of 0.6 billion)."
Respect for women and children is a fundamental norm of decent human societies. In the face of horrendous man-made mass mortality, decent people are obliged to ACT ETHICALLY and INFORM EVERYONE.
Dr. Gideon Polya
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - June 17, 2005
Dr. Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text, Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is currently writing a book on global mortality; numerous articles on this matter can be found by a simple Google search for "Gideon Polya" and on his Web site. See also "Global mortality, Iraq and the Muslim Holocaust," Media Monitors Network, July 23, 2004.
Accolades from a proboscidean confrèreDear Gilles,
Been meaning to fire a short but deeply felt note of appreciation to you for the tremendous quality of your site. If there is any way we can collaborate and mutually reinforce our work, please let me know. I run a site dedicated chiefly to cultural and media reform topics, CYRANOS JOURNAL ONLINE (http://www.cjonline.org/). This site is an Internet re-incarnation of our hard-print edition, launched in 1982 (no longer available). At the time, Cyrano was this country's first independent radical media review.
In solidarity with the struggle toward a saner world,
Editor in Chief
Cyrano's Journal Online
Stratford, Connecticut, USA - June 8, 2005
We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, sign your e-mail with your name AND add your city, state, country, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. Send your comments to the Editor. (Letters may be shortened and edited)