Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I can tell you this... (Plus: Some remarkable news stories)

The problem with returning to Blogworld after taking a long sick leave is simple: What to say? You, the readers, have probably followed the news more carefully than I have.

So I have decided to tell you something you may not know. It's important.

Remember all that stuff you've heard about what a heart attack feels like? Don't bet your life on it. 

The most-ballyhooed symptoms are the classic tingle down the arm coupled with severe chest pains -- "an elephant stomping on your chest" is the commonly-heard metaphor. Those symptoms may indeed hit you or your loved one, but even in the absence of the elephant and the tingle, you may still have a serious event.

In my case, the symptoms were annoyingly similar to those of the flu: Lightheadedness, fever, a swollen and sore throat. Eventually, the sore throat became a generalized neck pain that resisted all attempts at comparison or description.

Those symptoms would swell and recede throughout the day, rather like the ocean's tide. I wrote a blog post about the new Star Wars movie during one of the "low tide" periods.

When the neck pain finally started to radiate down into the sternum, I made the call. The 9/11 dispatcher kept asking me to state my telephone number "for police reasons." For the life of me, I could not recall my own telephone number! Fortunately, he sent an ambulance anyways.

The reader may be wondering at what point the patient hears the actual words "You are having a heart attack." In my case, doctors refused to spill those beans until just before I was rolled into the surgery room.

Correction: They call it a procedure, not surgery. I remained awake as they routed a roto-rooter device and a tiny camera in through my groin.

"Do you feel anything now?" asked the doctor.

"Yeah," I answered. "In my chest. Hurts."

"That's me in there." What a thought! Trading bons mots with a fellow even as he is thumping my beating heart from the inside.

That doctor took roughly ten minutes to scrape clear an aorta that had become almost 100% blocked. Astonishing. We all live inside a science fiction story.

The doctor seemed unimpressed by his own life-saving prowess -- ho hum, all in a day's work -- and showed more concern about the entrance hole in my groin. It threatened to bleed out if the "plug" malfunctioned.

Afterward, the only pain I felt came from the IV needles that the hospital insisted on keeping in both arms. Such devices quickly lose their charm.

The search for meaning. I had suspected for weeks beforehand that a dire event loomed. There were constant palpitations, unlike any I had known before. A nearly indescribable feeling in the neck made me continually aware of my pulse, even though both my resting pulse rate and blood pressure never ventured beyond the "normal" range.

I'm not sure when it started. Before Thanksgiving? Yes, before then. All exertion (such as climbing up stairs) brought troubled breathing. Wooziness. A burbling, fluttery feeling in the throat. The inchoate understanding that something was just...wrong.

Though I told no-one, I became convinced that The End might be nigh.

How does one act when semi-convinced that time is short? If one is like me, one acts every bit as stupidly as one always has.

I made grand plans for future projects while becoming immersed in time-wasting forays and trivial research obsessions. A day or so before the attack -- half-convinced that The Reaper was beckoning, half-convinced that the inferno was about to open up just as it does in the big whammo finale of The Damnation of Faust -- I wasted hours trying to determine if Titian's favorite blue was Ultramarine or Azurite. (Turns out it was the latter. Nobody makes that color now, since Cobalt Blue does the same job better.) I also researched the strange case of Peter Parker's parents (they were spies) and learned how to make one 1-minute mug cookies.

The Styx is a river of trivia. A strong current of absurdity propels us to Dis.

I feel good now, better than I have in years. Bounding upstairs does not result in lost breath. Placing my head below my heart does not threaten unconsciousness.

What does one do with this unearned and undeserved new life? How to spend these unexpected extra hours? Does one discard the trivial and focus on the Truly Important?


I still make grand and unrealizable plans. I've watched a lot of nonsensical YouTube videos and old episodes of Big Bang Theory. Quotidian life retains a high silliness quotient.

Nevertheless, I have some serious business ahead of me. So do you. So do we all.

We have a war or two to stop. More precisely: We must stop the war mentality -- the lust for empire -- which governs a certain city about forty-five minutes south of where I now sit.

We have to figure out a morally impossible election. The contest will surely come down to Mrs. Awful and Mr. Awfuller. This, we cannot change.

What we can change -- I am convinced -- is the tyranny of Entrenched Opinion. Our leaders, however awful, will have less room to do awful things if we, the public, let them know that we will not accept their lies, particularly the lies that beget war.

This goal can bestow meaning on whatever is left of our ridiculous little lives.

And we must always be wary not to replace the lies of the warmongers with other kinds of lies. Deception and self-deception are everywhere, even among the rebellious and the ornery. Especially among the rebellious and the ornery. Discernment's great helpmate is self-doubt, so never scoff at the virtues of humility -- and from time to time, force yourself to reconsider what you think you know.

Reading list

Here are a few articles worthy of a peek.

1. When the Black Panthers first came to prominence, the FBI decided to discredit the group by cobbling together a coloring book -- yes, a coloring book -- filled with crude drawings of Panthers murdering white people. It's very droll. I suspect that more sophisticated variants of the same trick have appeared online in recent years.

2. Do you recall Sy Hersh's claim that U.S. soldiers raped children at Abu Ghraib? He made this assertion in various talks and interviews, although -- if I recall correctly -- he never wrote about the matter directly. Although many doubted Hersh's story, evidence suggests that he had it right. Caveat: I don't consider Mint Press News the most venerable and reliable source in the world -- the Iranians may lurk behind that operation -- but neither will I discard what they have to say.

3. This article claims that the drug tests used by the police are hideously inaccurate.
The director of a lab recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for forensic science excellence has called field drug testing kits “totally useless” due to the possibility of false positives. In laboratory experiments, at least two brands of field testing kits have been shown to produce false positives in tests of Mucinex, chocolate, aspirin, chocolate, and oregano.
(This hits home. For health reasons, I've been advised to pop an aspirin once a day -- and very dark chocolate is quite heart-healthy.)

4. A while back, I offered a plea for a new website dedicated to the exposure of the neocon liars in our major media, particularly the New York Times. Here, perhaps, is the answer to that prayer. 

5. Why did Saudi Arabia commit the deliberate provocation of murdering 47 Shi'ites? The Saker argues that this atrocity presages a generalized attack on the Iranian troops in Syria and Iraq, where the Iranians have played such a key role in the effort to destroy ISIS.
In my opinion there is a good probability that these events are all the staging process of an attack against Iran, but not on Iran’s territory, but in Syria. I doubt that the Wahabis would dare to attack Iran directly simply because there is no way for them to defeat Iran. Not only is the Iranian military vastly superior to anything these Wahabi fat cats could deploy, but the geography of Iran makes this country really impossible to defeat. If the Saudis and their Wahabi allies cannot even defeat the Yemenis, they are light-years away from being able to take on a sophisticated major regional military power like Iran (not to mention that an insurrection of Shia in Bahrain could give Tehran a perfect pretext to intervene). So no, I don’t see the Saudis taking on Iran frontally.

But what they can do is to attempt to attack the (much smaller) Iranian force in Syria. Under the guise of an anti-terrorist operation the Gulf monarchies could justify sending even more troops and weapons to Daesh and further exploit the numerical advantage Daesh has over the Syrian forces. Considering what they did to the Russian airliner over the Sinai, I would not even put past these crazies to hope to maybe attack the tiny Russian ground force currently deployed in Syria. All that’s needed to this hellish combo is to have the Turks declare some “safe zone” and openly bring in their forces into northern Syria.
This makes sense to me.

6. By the way, here's a truth which our mainstream media will make every effort to ignore:
While the Saudis claim that Iran supports the Houthis in Yemen there is not the slightest proof for that assertion. There have been no Iranians found in Yemen and no Iranian weapons. The Houthis the Saudis fight in Yemen are not Shia like the Iranians but are nearer to Sunni Islam than to Iranian 12er Shia. There has been no evidence that Houthis have received anything from Iran and all stories about Iranian weapon shipment to Yemen turned out to be false.


You have my sympathies. I wouldn't wish the Big Bang Theory on my worst enemy.
Now that you are better, I noticed an uptick in the number of stories you were posting and had begun to wonder if you were on some type of mad crusade against time. Apparently yes.
I just came up with a conspiracy theory. As the stakes get more expensive for professional sports, the Cable Networks are gobbling up more and more of the major league sports telecasts, leaving very little for us Free TV'rs to watch. This could explain the turning of the world's affairs into almost a sport like contest in which Donald Trump is League Executive with many in the free tv audience watching every move, as if it were a sports contest, because Free TV has virtually zero live sports events on it these days when it comes to college football playoffs.
Joseph, you wrote a few weeks ago that Saudi Arabia is upset with the drop in price of their petroleum, can their mass executions be a way to shake things up in the middle east in an attempt to raise the price of oil?
Welcome back, Joe!
Welcome back, glad to hear you're feeling spry again. Thank you for the report of "how it felt". Husband has a stent, and he has told me that his experience was much like your own, though not as extreme beforehand. As he didn't feel as badly as you did he asked his Doc. if he could wait the several months until Medicare would kick in, but was told "only if you want to die first". :-(
igd says:
Congrats on coming through your cardiac event still breathing and with a good prognosis. We gentleman of a certain age need to pay attention to these sorts of things.

And the Houthis actually are Shi'ites, even if they're the comparitively primitive(i.e "Sunni like") Fiver branch or Zaydiyah. But the notion that they're the catspaw of the Iranians, as advanced by MSM, appears unsupported by any facts on the ground. The MSM also tend to gloss over that the Houthi's have considerable support from the former President and army units loyal to him.
Good to hear you feel better...
I'm glad you're back. Start taking some CQ10 in liquid form for cardiac health
Welcome back, Joseph. Sounds like you're better than new. Someone close to me had a similar outcome after treatment for a mild stroke. Capitalize on your good fortune!

The best reason I can think of for maintaining our good health is that we can continue to educate the young about the crimes of the Bushcists, we can continue to press for accountability, and we can hope to live long enough to see Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Feith, Addington, Libby, Wolfowitz, Yoo, Bybee, Rice, and Murdoch face their Pinochet moments.

Welcome back, Joseph. Take care of yourself.
Thank you, Phil.

Thanks for the tip about CQ10...

Thanks to EVERYONE.
The liquid form of CoQ10 is not readily avsilable...I've only seen it in Costco. My mother orders hers online. Made by Qunol. Glad to hear you're feeling better, and thanks for the symptom rundown!

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