Thursday, April 24, 2008

A moment of perfect beauty

Acclaimed Japanese performer Yoshikazu Fujimoto dances with a sword while a singer accompanies him hauntingly.

Kull wahad! said Muad'Dib ("I am profoundly disturbed").

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Last fall, I spoke at a session arranged by Professor Janice Williamson and author/professor Thomas Wharton (Icefields) at the University of Alberta. I read from From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain (which, incidentally, received the Special Citation of the 2007 Philip K. Dick Award). I also answered questions afterward.

Here's the audio. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I love this White man

I wish Obama had talked like Father Mike Flager when it came to defending Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Powerful words. Great job, Father. I might've stayed Catholic if you'd been my pastor.

Some debate has ensued as to the authenticity of this interview. Read that debate here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

US, Canadian and French collusion to destroy the Haitian people

John Maxwell writes: "...the US, Canada and France, acting on behalf of the so-called 'civilized world,' decided on the basis of lies that, as in the case of Iraq, a free and independent people had no business being free and independent when their freedom and independence was seen to threaten the economic interest of the richest people in Haiti and, by extension, the wealthiest countries in the world.

"Today, and especially for the last few weeks, the starving people in Haiti have been trying to get the world to listen to their anguish and misery. Along with some other poor people in other countries the Haitians have been driven to desperation and the edge of starvation by the rapidly increasing price of food. Unlike all the others the Haitians are over the edge, they are starving, refugees in their own proud country, many forced to eat dirt to survive, however tenuously.

"Only the Cubans, the Venezuelans and the Vietnamese appear to care about what is happening in Haiti. The rest of us are too concerned with 'wealth management' and the prospects of foreign investors with bursting wallets floating down from the sky to make us all rich."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


6 PM Mountain Time

In the West, when one thinks of medical experimentation on unwilling human subjects, the country that comes to mind most readily is Germany under Nazi rule.

Few people think of the United States.

And yet since at least the 1800s, numerous doctors in the United States conducted barbaric experiments, sometimes leading to death, on patients of Afrikan descent. Indeed, grotesque gynecological experimentation on Afrikan women was the 19th century equivalent “boon” to medical science that Nazi medical atrocities were to the 20th century.

Yet while the Nazi regime rose and fell within a generation, Afrikan women and men were subjected to “scientific” Whitesupremacy for hundreds of years. As we’re about to find out, some of that experimentation continued into the modern era, with a mindset whose terrifying results continue to this day.

A few selections from Reuters news service help illustrate the racial gulf in American medical care:

“African Americans continue to receive poorer quality healthcare compared with their white peers, and racial stereotyping by American doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers is at least partly to blame.... Black patients are less likely to receive potentially life-saving treatments [and] were more likely than whites to receive less-desirable treatments, such as limb amputation... or removal of the testes in the case of prostate or testicular cancers.”

Some relevant Reuters headlines include:“Study Finds Racial Differences in US Cancer Care” (March 8, 2003)“Poorer Care for Blacks Found in Medicare HMOs” (March 12, 2003)“Race May Be Factor in Young Patients' Chronic Pain” (March 18, 2003) and“Death Risk Higher in Black Ovarian” (March 15, 2003).

See also:
Racial discrimination & health: Pathways & evidence and
Physicians’ Ethical Responsibilities in AddressingRacial and Ethnic Healthcare Disparities

Speaking to extreme racial discrimination in American medicine is Harriet A. Washington. She’s the author of the groundbreaking book Medical Apartheid:The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.

Washington has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard School of Medicine, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, a Knight Fellow at Stanford University, and a senior research scholar at the National Centre for Bio-Ethics at Tuskegee University. She has worked for USA Today among other media outlets. Her work has appeared in the Harvard Public Health Review and the New England Journal of Medicine, and has received numerous awards.

Washington’s book Medical Apartheid explores how historians have ignored the vicious reality of race and medicine in the United States, obscuring how the ugliness of racial hatred contaminated the supposedly saintly role of scientists and doctors.

Last week, in part one, we heard about the origins of the regime of medical terror, and the horrific results for its Afrikan subjects. Tonight on the April 16th edition of The Terrordome, we present the conclusion, in which Washington explores the ways in which the terrors of the past have continued in the 21st Century.

Washington spoke as part of a lecture series at the Science Museum of Minnesota, in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race."

Her lecture is part a series at the Science Museum entitled "From Eugenics to Deadly Medicine and Back," a series which began Feb. 27 and which concludes May 4, 2008.

Part 2 of Harriet Washington on Medical Apartheid begins with Washington describing how in the 19th Century, the expectation of the role of doctors was anything but the provision of compassionate medical care for Afrikans in the United States.

Watch Harriet Washington on Democracy Now! below. The transcript is here.

Review by Alondra Nelson, an assistant professor of African American studies and sociology at Yale University, who is writing a book, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Politics of Health and Race.Harriet Washington responds to a critic here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My predictions about Battlestar Galactica’s final season

I’ve been considering for a week whether to post these predictions, since there’s a great likelihood I’ll be wrong about most or even all of them. But what they hey, hey?

1. The “Final One” is either literally or metaphorically everyone.

Why? Even before I watched Season 4, Episode 2 (“Six of One”), I’d come to the conclusion that both humans and Cylons would reach Earth and be forced to accommodate each other—live together in peace, and eventually intermarry to produce children. After the outbreak of the coup/Cylon civil war in “Six of One,” it seems that the Cylons in revolt will need new allies.

Given that this revolt is led by the Sixes, in collaboration with the Sharons and the Leobins (I can’t keep track of all the numbers), who are the most human-loving (in both senses) of the Cylons, inter-creation (a preferably term to “cross-breeding”) seems inevitable as an outcome—if not an actual goal.

Both species are depopulated... we don’t know yet how many Cylons will be boxed or prevented from attaining resurrection. After all, the surviving Cylons might simply pull the plugs on all resurrection-ready Cavils and others. The humans are down to around 40 thousand. Perhaps the only way to ensure survival of both is inter-creation.

Kara—if that’s who she is—and Leobin will create hybrid children. The Chief (if he is a Cylon; remember, the Cylons are masters of deceit--only Anders has been confirmed as of this writing) and Callie have already done so. Ditto Helo and Athena. Perhaps Baltar and Tori? Or Baltar and Caprica Six?

If so, then BSG is following in the footsteps of the Matrix trilogy. Although episodes 2 and 3 in that series were disappointing as drama, their thematic triumph over much of SF and fantasy is that they exhort accommodation with our foes towards eventual understanding, rather than the destruction of enemy forces that Star Wars prescribes or the outright genocide that Lord of the Rings recommends.

BSG goes further, saying that our survival will not only depend on accommodation but in love, union and children. A powerful and hopeful message indeed.

If the Chief, Tigh, Tori and Anders truly are Cylons, it’s possible that they actually had the families they remembered having, rather than their memories being implanted. They may be the inheritors of enough ancient/future (see below) Cylon DNA that they are the Cylon equivalent of Dune’s Kwisatz haderach.

2. Earth is the original Kobol, due to some sort of time-travel or space-folding or whatever the hell mcguffin.

Why? I don’t remember if the series explained why Kobol was abandoned. Was it due to a natural disaster? Even Kobol’s location was lost. Why? Perhaps when Kara visited “Earth,” she’d gone back in time to visit ancient Kobol.

So this would mean that in the future of the recolonisation (?) of Earth, or the creation of New/Old Kobol, the species which arises is a human/Cylon hybrid, which one day, due to war or natural disaster, goes out to seed the stars, creating twelve colonies.

Eventually someone creates Cylon servants; those servants rebel; the free Cylons evolve and create twelve models; and in the cyclic time of the BSG universe, “everything has happened before, and everything will happen again.”

Perhaps some Cylons and some humans remained apart from the general intermarriage--separatist humans and Cylons who changed their minds. These groups might be among those who left to found colonies; or perhaps separatist (fundamentalists? "Humanists"?) wiped out the others in war... without realising that even among their numbers, there was some Cylon blood?

(If so, it's not hard to imagine that Roslin would represent the extreme end of separatism / anti-cohabitation.)

Someone creates Season Three’s “Temple of the Five” (as eventually discovered by the Chief)—a temple in honour of the Final Five. Did Cylons create it? Did the Final Five? Was it a Cylon/human temple, or a hybrid temple?

Some remaining questions:

A. Who left the diseased buoy, and why? Was it human? Cylon? Hybrids?

B. Who created and programmed the Cylons in the first place? Were these evolved Centurions, or someone or something else?

C. Which of the remaining characters will die by the final episode?