The Heart of Corruption

I love “The Hunger Games”! Both the books and, so far, the movie.

Jennifer Lawrence was  completely relatable and I could just hug Josh Hutcherson and tell his character “Peeta”  to stop being so chivalrous and just go ahead and kiss Katniss. Off course, if he did that, Katniss would most probably stick her arrow in his throat.

I read all three Hunger Games books in my Kindle. Mockingjay and Catching Fire are due for a repeat reading. I want to re-read books I love before I watch their movie. It would be easier for me to nitpick.

Okay, spoilers ahead …

In Book 2 (Catching Fire) and Book 3 (Mockingjay), we saw Peeta captured by the Capitol; which subjected him to some very sophisticated forms of torture that resulted in him having distorted memories about Katniss. Prior to his torture, Peeta was hopelessly, irrevocably, undyingly in-love  with Katniss. In most of “Mockingjay”,  all he wanted to do was kill her.

***

That got me thinking about the recent political scandals in my country, particularly the pork barrel scam which involved (involves ?) billions of pesos.

I can hear Carl Sagan say “billions and billions” in my head — yes Carl, billion and billions.

Of money that could have gone to the food, clothing and shelter of destitute Filipinos …

… money that could have been given over to programs that would benefit a lot of people instead of Jeane Napoles only and her penchant  for expensive foreign brands …

… and, yeah, I will be so selfish here to wish the darned money had gone to my salary so I wouldn’t feel so used by the government, making me just this inch away from accepting an offer to work somewhere in the Middle East. Which, I think, has a more twisted government and social structure, but that is another story.

Corruption has been with humans for most of their history, I would imagine. Ever since humans realized that resources are scarce (whether nominally or relatively) and that one can get ahead by scamming other people. Ever since humans learned to torture and do mind games on others weaker than themselves.

Human-invented systems like “governments” or “taxes” or “PDAF” can be corrupted because humans and their malleable hearts can be corrupted.

More’s the pity. Sometimes I wish I were a computer, but where’s the fun in that?

The thing is, PCs can be corrupted too! There was this time all my files were wiped out because of a goddarned troll (or a virus, I'm not sure which). The difference between computers and humans is ... hmmm, sometimes, I think, not much. Their programmability and algorithms will soon be in sync. In the not so distant future, an 2D2 in a distant planet will wonder at Human that created it and will probably wait for something like a "Second Coming".

The thing is, PCs can be corrupted too! There was this time that all my files were wiped out because of a goddarned trojan (or a virus, I’m not sure which). The difference between computers and humans is … hmmm, sometimes, I think, not much. Their programmability and algorithms will soon be in sync. In the not so distant future, an R2D2 in a distant planet will wonder at Human that created it and will probably wait for something like a “Second Coming”.

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Surgeons

The thong about Grey's Anatomy is that it makes you believe that the guys and (girls) who cut you up are actually this good-looking. Nope -- not by a long shot :)

The thing about Grey’s Anatomy is that it makes you believe that the guys and (girls) who cut you up are actually this good-looking. Nope — not by a long shot 🙂

Yes, I still maintain that Surgery is an old boyfriend that I am extremely fond of, but was never passionately in love with.

In my opinion, the world of Medicine can be divided into the country of Surgeons and the country of Non-Surgeons.

There are those who straddle those 2 countries — call them “people with dual citizenships”. To this group belongs (among others) ophthalmologists, otorhinolaryngologists and dermatologists (who, recently have dared to go beyond injecting botox and have attempted “Aesthetic Surgery”, a current rage in my society).

I love McSteamy more than McDreamy. In my opinion, he's a more dashing surgeon in and out of the OR.

I love McSteamy more than McDreamy. In my opinion, he’s a more dashing surgeon in and out of the OR.

I can pass as a passable surgeon. The problem with me is I can easily sleep in the OR, which of course, is a no-no.

Despite my aversion to doing pelvic clean-up with lymph node dissection, omentectomy and random peritoneal sampling (believe me, I hated standing up for >3 hours straight and chasing after a rogue spurting artery), I can still say that …

 

 

There is Something About The OR Which I Love:

the adrenaline rush, the urgency

the hurriedness, harriedness, the life-and-deathness

the clear-cut white-and-blackness

of it all.

Scalpel slicing supple skin

laid down like sacrifice

amid sterling steel (table, bed, even the lights)

perfectly sterilized

immaculately sanitized,

just in case, one never knows

what it might meet on The Other Side.

Am I a butcher or a healer?

The intriguing question runs through and through my mind.

Not during, but after

a procedure — for the mind shuts during a surgery.

The brain functions like a warrior

bent on vanquishing that bleeder,

tumor, adhesion

with as much precision

as technology permits.

Ah, the OR, my battlefield, my theater, my basketball court.

All the mundane that I am is elevated to some degree of greatness

for 30 minutes to an hour.

Deep in that which passes for my heart, though, knows

that I am not a surgeon.

I couldn’t ward off sleep even during CS

(sometimes I doze over hys

or, god forbid,

while attempting pelvic clean-up)

Snoring over a woman with her abdomen open, uterus jutting out.

I zoned out at the blood bank while waiting

for rbc’s to arrive; to reprieve the coming

of that which

comes to us all.

I resented being responsible for a body that was not mine.

And for what compensation?

The bragging rights that one saved a live.

When one doesn’t care, not in her heart of hearts,

not at all.

Soldiers

A few years ago, I went to Hawaii. I visited Pearl Harbor; took a peak at the USS Missouri and at the Marine Corps Base.

At that time, the US was still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. What struck me most during that brief visit was how much the Americans respected and positively adored their soldiers. There is a bit of  envy in me, as well.

Filipino police man a checkpoint. Photo from www.nst.com

Filipino police man a checkpoint. Photo from http://www.nst.com

I did mention in an earlier post that a person I love very much, was also a soldier. He was my mother’s older brother. And he joined the Army at a time when it seemed unpopular to do so.

My country has a long history of corruption as far as the Armed Forces are concerned. A long history of corruption, and a far longer history of … injustice. Also, as the leftists in my country would add, a long history of human rights violations, as well.

Picture from pcij.org

Picture from pcij.org

But I want to be fair here — which sucks because it’s preferable (and easier) to see the world in black and white. Even if, when it comes to those you love, you feel justified in seeing only shades of gray.

In 1896, my country went to war. In as much as a caged parrot can go to war with the human being that considers himself its master. That war has not yet ended. After more than 100 years, we are still at war with “colonialism” in all its forms.

Filipino soldiers circa 1899. Photo from Wikipedia

Filipino soldiers circa 1899. Photo from Wikipedia

I started thinking about soldiers because of a recent disturbance that erupted in what used to be a very quaint, very friendly city in the southern part of my country. That disturbance sent some 100,000 civilians into refugee status.

Mobilization of my country’s soldiers in their old scruffed well-worn boots was done to repel a group of poor criminals who were pretending to be “rebels”. At the helm of these “rebels” are a group of politicians who, of course, will not admit to their perfidy.

The thing about soldiers in my country — as in other countries, most notable of which is the USA — is that, at best, they are used as weapons; and at worst, they are used as pawns. In any case, they are used — whether willingly or unwillingly is up to the men (and women) in uniforms to answer.

The soldier whom I love with all my heart, is called Rolly. Were it not for him and his job, my mother wouldn’t have had an education; and would probably have died an earlier death than she eventually had.

Rolly is no longer on duty. He is currently … disabled.

So, klutzy civilian that I am, who did not even go through citizen’s army training — I would  like to muster all the backbone I have; all the conviction left after all the compromises I made; all that remains in me of that thing called “integrity”; all that I am. I would gather all that, and give Rolly…

… a salute.

On Progenies

Babies can get so hysterically cute. And messy. The good this is, they will not remain so forever. Drawing from www.pencil-portrait-drawing-artist.com

Babies can get so hysterically cute. And messy. The good thing is, they will not remain so forever.
Drawing from http://www.pencil-portrait-drawing-artist.com

I don’t have anything against reproduction.

The world would benefit if the people who are dying (or who will eventually die, which we all will do, no matter what) would have somebodies to replace them.

Take Japan and Singapore, for example. They are currently encouraging their populace to Make Love and Have Kids.

Granted, making love (a.k.a. having sex) may be regarded separately from “being a parent” — which is what having a child/children is all about. Well, ideally … because let’s face it, some creatures have progenies but fail to become parents.

(I am actually talking about hamsters and sharks and lions who eat their young. But yeah, humans can do that too … if they are so inclined.)

I sometimes wonder what the point of reproduction is.

There have actually been books written on the subject, like Christine Overall’s “Why Have Children” (which I have yet to finish reading) and “The Ethics of Parenthood” by Norvin Richards (which I have yet to read).

Sometimes, I look at the mothers at the clinic with their newborn babies, or at the pregnant girls/women about to give birth; and I wonder: why do you even bother?

I would ask one of them pointblank, why did you get pregnant? And they would also look at me with blank expressions.

Again, at the risk of sounding defensive, I don’t have anything against children. At their best, they can be these wonderful creatures who will someday become adults (if they don’t die).

But sometimes, I look at them, and at the process of bringing them out and raising them, and I just feel tired.

Death In The Open (or as Harry Potter had put it: “I open at the close”)

Once upon a time, a doctor named Lewis Thomas wrote these words:

“Everything in the world dies. In the middle of a meadow, at the edge of a hillside, everything you can catch sight of is in the process of dying. And most things will be dead long before you are.”

I read those 3 sentences when I was 12, in a Biology book. It made such a great impact to me that I can recite them from memory more than 20 years later.

Yesterday, I celebrated my mother’s 7th death anniversary.

My mother and I have the same birthday; in my morbid moments, I would wonder if we will also have the same death-day.

That concern made me particularly nervous when the bus I was riding was going at top speed along EDSA. Thank God an MMDA officer halted it before it can send me and the other passengers to our untimely (?) demise, or disability.

The thing about humans is that we create rituals to celebrate our deaths. Animals do their dying more quietly. Lewis Thomas mentioned elephants who leave one of their dying in a special place to die alone. Other creatures, the one-celled amoeba, for example, don’t seem to die at all. They break off into two cells, then 4  then 8 (in  a process called binary fission), that one is wont to ask, so what happened to the “mother” amoeba? Is there a “mother amoeba” at all? What does it mean “to die” for one-celled organisms?

I blame the eukaryotes, and the sexual revolution that they have initiated, for our shenanigans about dying.

True, sexual reproduction has its benefit — orgasms, for one, but that’s another story 🙂

Sexual reproduction, biologists surmised, is responsible for the increased amount of variation among organisms. In lay-speak, we are different (even if we are the same) because our ancestors shagged each other. If they reproduced by binary fission, then you and me would look very much alike. In the end, this variation within a species makes our DNA (and by extension, us)  “stronger” and more fit to conquer the vagaries and cruelties of our environment — please read Mr. Richard Dawkins’s ‘The Selfish Gene’ or ‘The Extended Phenotype’ for further explanation as I am too lazy to write a dissertation about that.

In any case, Mr. Dawkins, for all your erudition and insight, I have yet to find comfort in the fact that my mother is now dead and I am alive.

Sometimes I wonder: does having progeny increases one’s predisposition to dying?

I can cite several examples:

1. Harry Potter lived because Lily Potter died

2.Bella Swann-Cullen died as a human (and was reborn a vampire) because of her spawn, Renesmee (without whom Jacob Black, would not have had a soulmate, so there …)

3. If Cory Aquino did not die of cancer in 2009, Noynoy would not be president … ooops … that’s another story …

Yesterday, I was half-expecting my mother’s ghost to appear as I entered the house she bought with her hard-earned money that she had amassed by selling pork.

No, there was no ghost.

The irony: I am afraid of ghosts. If Casper appeared, i would probably call the Ghostbusters. Image from i-love-cartoons.us

The irony: I am afraid of ghosts. If Casper appeared, I would probably call the Ghostbusters. Image from i-love-cartoons.us