Thursday, July 21, 2016

On Goings-On

Is it information overload or underload? Because before this all started, I knew just what to do: find an issue that interested me, look it up, evaluate as much as my simple bear’s brain could do, and then come to a conclusion, presented as fairly as possible. So it was pretty easy. Clerical sex abuse! I came out, I’m proud to say, ringlingly (is it just happenstance that I’m inventing words today?) against it! Yes, others of a lessor moral backbone may have been taking the side of the pestering pedophile priests, but did this blog waver? Was it ever for a moment equivocal on the subject? Nay, a thousand times nay!

GMO foods—how easy it would have been to defend those pioneering scientists at Monsanto, who only wanted to grow better and better seeds, only so that the burgeoning third world hordes could go to bed at night with a morsel of food in their bellies! How facile to argue that the improved seeds were our only hope against global warming! But again, a thousand times nay!

Yes, I have crusaded. Gun control! It was I who pointed out that shooting a gun may have a significant addictive kick—based on the experience of my brother, the only person I actually know who has shot a gun. (And only because he was in the army….)

I tell myself—in my rare moments of self indulgence—that my father, a crusading journalist, would be proud. However many detractors apple pie, motherhood, and dimpled babies had, I was never afraid to take the unpopular view! No, no—St. George never took on as many dragons as I!

But something happened. Is it the lingering effect of my broken back, which goes along nicely for four hours, by feeling nothing, which is the proper state of body parts. But then the back announces itself, proclaims that it’s tired of the anonymity that it had been sharing with my legs, arms, kidneys, red blood cells—in short, all those organs and tissues and limbs that had been doing what they were supposed to, and doing it silently. No, after four hours, my back becomes the nagging mother-in-law, the bitter ex-wife, not the smiling politician’s spouse gazing adoringly at his or her mate. No, my back is demanding attention, love, a spa, a massage—something and everything, and it won’t be quiet until it gets it.

So maybe that’s it.

Or is it the general dysreality of the times, here in Puerto Rico? Because we had always done unreality quite well. But unreality is the opposite of reality: dysreality is reality that has been twisted, skewed, contorted, but still has some connection to reality. It is neither the opposite nor the absence of reality….

When did it start? For me, it was when the government decided to take all the (meager) sums of money from the Government Development Bank and put it in private banks. It was a story that had me stuttering, first, “but….but…but” in the first several paragraphs, “bu…buu.buuuu” in the middle, and simply gasping inarticulately by the end.

At this point, the menace of Zika had suddenly raised its unlovely head, or perhaps microcephalic (damn, there I go again!) head, and that was a puzzle, since the whole world had blithely ignored Chikungunya. Remember that? In two or three months, Puerto Rico became the island of Frankensteins: we were suffering agonizing joint pain, raging fevers, blinding headaches, all manner of diseases. And now the world was going crazy about a disease that is asymptomatic for 80% of the victims? Oh, and when you do have symptoms—generally because you’re immunosuppressed—they’re weak, and only last a week! But now, the CDC is telling women of childbearing age to postpone having children, in affected areas, until somebody figures out what to do about it.

OK—that’s bad enough. Now, the CDC came out with a recommendation that we fumigate the entire island—or as much as we can—with a chemical called Naled. And that would be? An utterly harmless to humans, but deathly lethal to mosquitos, substance that has been used for decades in the United States! So, not a problem, right?

Of course, those pesky Europeans and their silly EU—wonderful news about Brexit, by the way—well those fussy people have banned the stuff. Of course, they also have banned GMO foods, so that tells what sort of nonsense that is! Hah—be it on your heads, EU, when the bellies of the entire Third World, craving their irradiated food….

Well, of course, the naysayers were here as well. So we started in on the information over / under load. CDC: Naled kills 90% of the mosquitos. Environmentalists: Naled kills 10% of the mosquitos! And on and on it went.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole affair was the CDC saying that it recommended and would approve the use of Naled, if the governor of the island gave the go-ahead. This made sense to me. To the rest of the island? It seemed crazy.

“If they’re gonna do it, they’re gonna do it,” said one friend.

“The Americans are going to spray poison over us,” said another, though through Facebook, not to my face.

Full disclosure—it would not be the first time that the medical community, or the chemical / pharmaceutical companies have done exactly that. Remember those little five-year old girls who were fully-developed sexually all those decades back? That didn’t take place in Minnesota!

So the governor had to give the approval for the use of this chemical—that to me was simply following the long-standing arrangement / compromise of federal versus states’ rights. But to many here, it was a ruse. All well and good.

And then?

The news today is that the chemical has arrived on the island, but nobody knows how much, or where it is, or who authorized it, or whether it will be used, or whether it’s here….just in case. No, nobody knows, but the governor is calling the CDC this morning, and then we’ll have the answer to all these questions about which—have I said this before—nobody knows.


Don’t they?