Yet Another Op-Ed

Oh I need sleep like nobody’s business. I started writing another blog entry and it expanded and became another op-ed column called, Why Not Diarrhea?





I suppose part of my reason for writing it is to see if some magazine will actually publish something with such an unpleasant title. More importantly, the article explores an important question. I’ve been championing tsunami relief for days now, losing much sleep over it. After all, 160 thousand people have died. But more people die every month from each of diarrhea, malaria and HIV/AIDs (as was discussed in this week’s Diplomatic Immunity). To me, this doesn’t mean we should spend less on tsunami relief. Rather, it means we should triple the international aid budget! Please tell me what you think about the article.

My original tsunami articles (here and here) are getting a lot of attention. I’m rapidly becoming a fan of web publishing for op-eds, since feedback is much faster and much more likely. Also, your work lives on well past the publication date.

My Head Hurts

I have this perpetual migraine these days. Being stressed out is not good. Too much work to do, too far behind in getting it done, and too much emotional turmoil, both in the personal life (read: love life) and the international life (read: tsunami). Aieee.

Speaking of the latter, our group finally has a fundraising event in Ottawa coming up. It’s a benefit yoga class (hey, why not?) to be held Jan 30th. Watch this space for more details. The funds are rushing in, and our first mission to Sri Lanka will occur in the begining of February. It is unlikely that I will be part of that mission since there are others better prepared and more personally invested. It’s a dangerous undertaking, and I hope they will remain safe.

If anyone out there has a contact with Air Canada or another airline, please think about sharing it with me. We’re looking to get an airline to donate a couple of seats to Sri Lanka. Surely there’s a generous carrier out there somewhere?

We are approaching, in some respects, one of the more dangerous periods in disaster relief: that moment when the disaster slips from the front pages, but the death toll continues to rise. This is not a short-term thing. What is required is pretty much the reconstruction of whole nations…. and this time, the people will welcome our efforts, unlike in the more disingenous attempts at nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But let’s end today’s update on an up note. Congratulations to my beloved parents on their 48th wedding anniversary, one day before Elvis’s birthday.

Aid This, Beeeyatch

“The vast majority of scientists studying climate change agree that the

basis for concern is scientifically sound. Media reports often tend to focus

on the more controversial elements of the science related to the details of

climate change, and to talk to those scientists who represent polarized

views of scientific understanding. They also frequently fail to place new

science within the context of the large body of existing knowledge, hence

ignoring the considerable agreement within the expert science community on

the fundamental principles and processes involved. Hence such reports are

not a good representation of the understanding of the expert science

community.” –Meteorological Service of Canada

Back to business, huh? That’s a great link above, by the way. It really spells out the problems with climate change deniers’ insistence that the “scientific community” is divided on the issue. Points out that several of the more famous “declarations” by “scientists” opposed to the Kyoto Accords had signatories who were very often TV weathermen! Yep, I want the dweeb on my local newscast deciding international industrial policy.

Okay, this is incredible: Ann Coulter’s latest irrational diatribe. In it she defends the US foreign aid record as one of the “most generous” by –get this– lumping the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as “aid” since they occurred, according to her, to rescue the indigenous populations from dictators. Lord save us from any more of such “aid.”

I’m exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Just want to lie down for a week.

Life, Culture and the Arts

Here is a touching story. The people of the Russian town of Beslan, where terrorists killed a bunch of kids, is giving US$36000 to tsunami relief, out of the funds the world sent them after their ordeal. That’s the kind of thing that gives me a little hope.

In fact, everyone’s response to the tsunami crisis –with the exception of George Bush and the Ayn Rand Institute– has been so passionate and genuine that I, ever the grey cynic, am actually moved. The response in Toronto and Ottawa to our call for help has been grand, with, for example, entertainers organizing themselves into fundraising events. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about yourselves, people; you’ve earned it.

Meanwhile, the US military is looking for a way to legalize the lifetime incarceration of terror suspects without trial. An official policy of torture -in some cases to death- and now of lifetime imprisonment without due process: welcome to Orwell’s 1984 two decades too late.



On a completely unrelated note, a new movie called
Guiana 1838 finally tells the tale of the arrival of Indian indentured servants to Guyana. Those people were my direct ancestors, and I’m happy their story is finally being told.



And
this Guyanese fellow has some personal good news. For a while now, my work has been studied at Cornell and Columbia Universities in New York. Last year both, Ryerson University (in Toronto) and the University of New Brunswick (in Fredericton) added my bibliography to their English classes. And today I learned that my short story “Motherland” is being included as material for a new undergraduate course called “India, Life, Culture, and the Arts.” Whoohoo!

Don’t forget, if you live in Toronto, try to attend our fundraising event at Andy Pool Hall tonight!

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