Friday, December 10, 2004

Laughing out loud 

I'm sorry that I laughed, but what did you expect? You call yourself a bear, and have the scruffy beard to prove it, but as soon as I get your shirt off to play with those awesome pecs, I find a smoothly waxed chest and, of course, other finely manicured patches to match. I should have known; great abs don't usually occur in my line of lust.

I'll call you.

Deaf ears toward Congo 

The International Rescue Committee today reports that the Congo Civil War is killing around one thousand people per day, with the international response still "abysmal." Considering the six year cumulative mortality of the various conflicts therein is just shy of four million, it's difficult to find a more apt one-word description for an essentially unresponsive attitude that the nations of the west have taken towards what is essentially a cisis of which a significant portion is a major failure of health infrastructure under the oppressive duress of malnutrition.

Only around two percent of the deaths from the above figure can be attributed to war-related injuries, and almost all of those are from the Eastern parts of the nation. “More than half of all deaths are due to malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections and malnutrition. Children under five years of age accounted for 45 percent of all deaths, although they represent less than 20 percent of the population,” [IRC Health Director Dr. Rick] Brennan says. “One child in six born in Congo does not live to see his or her first birthday.” Measles incidence is increasing, as well. Failures of basic hygiene needs are obvious; one in fifteen Congolese women dies as a result of complications due to childbirth (which, compared to the U.S. rate of one in 5,600, is outrageous). Clinicians in the area are at the choiceless point of reusing disposable syringes with "cold water and soap" sterilization.

What is most striking about the conditions in the Congo is that these conditions leading to such high mortality, especially diarrheal illnesses, are are incredibly easy to treat with basic access to medical care. The trouble is, of course, that even humanitarian aid, which is present and desperately trying to infiltrate those in need, cannot operate without security. Indeed, without protection, local hospitals and clinics have been forced to close, and there we have the root of the trouble to begin with. In many cases, improving health outlook is as simple as mass vaccinations and doses of antibiotics.

Dr. Brennan again puts it best,
The international response to the humanitarian crisis in Congo has been grossly inadequate in proportion to need. Our findings show that improving and maintaining security and increasing simple, proven and cost-effective interventions such as clean water, immunizations and basic medical care would save hundreds of thousands of lives in Congo.

There’s no shortage of evidence. It’s sustained compassion and political will that is lacking.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Weekending revisited 

Occasionally, a few days will pass that, in sum, seemingly cancel one another out with almost perfectly antiparallel magnitudes. Even less frequently, the balance is titled dramatically to one side, then, instead of being cancelled out, the pendulum swings back the other direction in spades.

By Friday morning I had waited so long for my long-overdue student loan disbursal (and, by extension, paying my rent) that I had to hightail it to the university for an aptly named "emergency loan," which, I was told, could only be given to me in cash. I wasn't too excited about biking around DC with $400 cash on me, but since the other option was eviction and malnourishment, so I took it. After having spent the morning bouncing between school, bank, home, bank, school, class sucked and I went home, uphill, in a sour mood. Later in the evening, I cut out on my roommate, fanatically preparing for the following night's party, to kick it with the boys at Artiloop's new fab basement place (love the t.v., man). In the course of getting a little drunker than I'd thought (so I'm told) I also managed to have my bike stolen, as evidenced by the previous post's ichor. I apparently told the police officer who came to take my report, a few times, that I'd biked home after having it stolen, which embarasses/amuses me more than I'd like to admit. The bike theft didn't seem so bad, though, once I'd heard that another (stronger, manlier) guy who'd been at the same get together had been rather viciously beaten up by four attackers (by the way, way to go, assaulters, four-on-one makes me swoon at your pride and boldness) while no one helped. I hear that a drunk man in a taxi made his driver stop to finally lend a hand. Regardless, his black eye and broken laptop put my (undoubtedly cheaply resold) bike to shame. Hats off to you, my man, for making me feel better through comparative lack of physical pain.

I spent the next morning in a foul-ass mood, of course, until my roommate swooped in in a fury of manic excitement, immediately doling commands like Joan Crawford to her spiteful, adopted daughter. I obeyed, fetching beer and salsa and cheeses and whatnot, while she worked her magic on the place. Returning home with supplies, her infectious excitment caught me as our other roommate turned the radio to some swingin' jazz station and we started cooking and such. I made jell-o shots and phyllo pastries. Carolyn made fondue and steamed broccoli. We made PGA punch andset up music in all the rooms. People started trickling in and I felt the party spark, slapping me hard with the realization that Saturday is for abandoning self-control and that we had four quarts of Stoli. Long story short, the party worked, everyone had a good time, no fights bubbled up, and, aside from the predictable mess to clean the next day, we couldn't have asked for a better bunch of guests, all of whom came in high spirits and with an eye for abandon. When the salsa erupted from the den, I knew that the switch had been flipped, and the crowd poured in to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, for hours, fogging up the room with sweat and body heat and all of the lasciviousness that such things afford. I have, as a result, a camera full of dirty pictures and a hickey on my thigh (a Windows Media update has rendered my aged camera incapable of connecting with my computer--anybody got a compact flash card reader I could borrow?).

The moral of the story: when things are shitty, spend a lot of money on booze, invite a thousand people over, cook some food and you'll be yanked back out of the doldrums and reminded of fun. As I head into finals, thanks again, everybody, for coming, and come again soon. Pictures (foul and fair) to follow.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?