Macho News

Well, here we are — still locked in a struggle with … Okay, let’s not bore each other with the details.  None of us can escape Doom Scrolling these days.   Personally, I find the numbers have gotten so big I quit trying to comprehend them — back in September.  However, I’m still planning the party for when we finally strangle the life out of this wicked little virus.  And the first toast is going to go to anyone in the medical profession.

But, despite our current global predicament, apparently no invisible bug can put a stop to macho, that strange phenom that turns normally reasonable people into WWE wrestlers.  But in the real world, they’re half as comical and twice as crazy.  Here are a couple of examples from the current news feed.

1 – For some unknown reason, they’re shooting at each other in some place I can’t pronounce in Central Asia.  Call me a cynic, but when Google’s Auto-correct can’t even find the place, there can’t be that much there to fight over.  Folks, look around you!  The world has problems, and who owns which bit of real estate 100 kilometres south of Tbilisi isn’t one of them.  Mother Nature is killing enough people on her own these days.  You don’t need to add to the carnage!

2 — There are a couple of games of “You-did-not/I-did-so” going on.
The American media reported somebody (read “the Israelis”) killed Al-Qaeda’s #2 man in Tehran.  The Iranians are saying, “No, they didn’t.” But, strangely enough, Abu – uh – (I don’t actually care what his name is) hasn’t showed up for his Suicide Bomber classes since August.  (You decide!)
Meanwhile, allegedly, the Chinese military used microwaves to literally cook the Indian army out of a disputed border area in the Himalayas.  The Indian government says, “No, they didn’t.”  But, given what we’ve recently discovered about Chinese culinary traditions, I wouldn’t be too quick to poo-poo the idea.

3 — In America, they’ve whipped out the lawyers to keep fighting the presidential election that was over several Tuesdays ago.  I’m not surprised: litigation is as American as baseball.  But given the various and sundry lawsuits circling the White House, this is rapidly turning into a 21st century rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

And finally:

4 — The folks at Big Pharma are acting like a bunch of schoolboys.  First of all, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective.  Right after that, Moderna said “Oh, yeah?  Well, our vaccine is 95% effective!”  Then, right after that, Pfizer and BioNTech told everybody their vaccine was 95% effective, too, with no measurable side effects.  Not to be outdone, this week, the researchers at Oxford jumped into the fray and said their vaccine was almost 100% effective for old people.

Hey!  Just stop it!  Instead of dickin’ around, playing my-vaccine-can-beat-up-your-vaccine, how about getting it on the market?   There are 7.8 billion people on this planet who’ve been holding their breath since March, waiting on you.  I mean, thanks and all that, but really!

Free Crack Pipes: A Stupid Idea

Last week, Vancouver Coastal Health, the organization in charge of keeping me and a couple of million other people healthy, set off the stupid alarm.  They announced a pilot program, beginning in October, to provide free crack pipes to drug users (Stay with me!) as part of their Harm Reduction Program.  Their rationale is crack and crystal meth smokers are transmitting dangerous diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C when they share old and damaged pipes.  Also, they say that providing a kit with a new pipe, mouthpiece, filter and a condom to addicts will bring them into direct contact with healthcare workers who can offer health information and encourage them to seek help for their addiction.  Dr. Reka Gustafson, a Vancouver health officer, was quoted in The Vancouver Sun as saying, “We know there’s a demand and chances are what we’re going to be able to supply won’t last very long.”  So, apparently, this offer is good only while supplies last and will cost between 50 and 60 thousand dollars.  What wrong with this picture?

At the risk of being labelled an anti-crack crank, does anybody down at VCH realize these folks are smoking crack?  The Risk Reduction train has pretty much left the station, folks.  I’m no expert, but I’d wager a few loonies that smoking crack is generally detrimental to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  And providing addicts with the implements of their own destruction simply can’t be the best strategy available for risk reduction.  I might be missing something, but I’m not following the logic here.  To me, giving these people pipes is like handing a guy with emphysema a carton of Marlboros to reduce the risk he’ll encounter walking to the store to buy his own.  Call me old-fashioned, but I remember a time when local health agencies were there to promote health and well-being, not aid in their destruction.

I have no argument with the idea of trying to control the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C among any segment of our population.  These are high-rent diseases that cost all of us a boatload of bucks to treat every year.  Nor do I have a problem with Coastal Health doling out dollars for preventive medicine programs, especially if they’re as cheap as this one seems to be.  Honestly, 50 or 60 thousand is nothing.  That kind of money doesn’t even buy a good-sized nurse these days.  Besides, I’m fairly certain that Coastal Health administrators and executives eat more than that in expense account money.  My problem is nobody in the glass towers has thought this thing through.

Here’s the deal: the entire program seems to be based on one single item of hard evidence: crack and crystal meth addicts share their pipes.  From that, experts have deduced, that chances are good, diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C and others are spread across the addicted population.  There haven’t been any studies to prove this, but it seems a logical conclusion.  Now we have cause and (probably) effect.

Unfortunately, here’s where Coastal Health turned on the stupid machine.  I hate to be rhetorical but how does providing crack addicts with brand new pipes prevent them from sharing their new toys with the less fortunate who didn’t happen to go down to Coastal Health that day?  I would venture to guess that straight-out-of-the-wrapper pipe gets infected on its first use – and re-infected forever after.  I would also venture to guess that your average crack addict is not going to discard or sterilize the new pipe they’ve just used.  It’s been my experience, that crack and crystal meth users are not the most logical of our neighbours.  They’re not going to go back to Coastal Health until they either break or lose the pipe they’ve been given — or, the cops (who are mandated to seize drug paraphernalia, regardless of where it comes from) take it away.

So, in the end, how does this Coastal Health program keep me and a couple of million other people healthy?  It doesn’t.  It’s a proven fact that addicts share their pipes; giving them new ones doesn’t add or subtract from that fact.  If HIV and Hepatitis C are spread by shared pipes, then these diseases will continue to spread.  Fifty thousand dollars later; we’re still in the same place — except by providing the necessary equipment, Coastal Health may have actually contributed to the destructive addiction of several thousand people.  They’ve continued (and perhaps even enhanced) the unholy connection between the addict and the dealer.  And they’ve probably unwittingly assisted in maintaining all the social ills — like poverty, theft and prostitution — that characterize widespread drug use.

There is a cure for addiction, even on the scale that my city faces.  However, as comedian Ron White has said many times, “There’s no cure for stupid.”