Monday 24 December 2018

Let's make Canada sane again!

Let's make Canada sane again!

Jordan Peterson and Canadian sanity.
   Canada is a very different country today than the country  I emigrated to fifty five years ago.  I didn't make the decision to emigrate to  Canada lightly.  I was already a physician and although penniless, I knew I would be able to make a living anywhere, even in my native Ireland.  Although I was born there, as was my father and although I had some very close Irish friends, there was really no doubt that they really didn't consider me one of "them".  My brother, who always was predisposed to Ireland and Irish ways in a  manner I could not understand, once told me how shocked he was when his closest friend, a nice Catholic lad commented to him, when they were both about ten years old,
   "Well, you're not really Irish"
   My brother was astounded.  "Yes I  am, I was born here and so were my parents.  How could you say that?"
   "It's not in your blood,  You're Jewish, not Irish."
   It was a message that stuck with him all of his life.
   I myself felt that Irish antisemitism was a by product of Catholicism.  I was wrong.  Now, many years after the Irish have largely cast Catholicism aside, antisemitism is stronger than ever in Ireland.  Alas, it seems it was a vital component in their mother's milk.  Now, it  seems, they take the leadership in  propagating antisemitism and the only reason I would visit that bigoted little country would be to visit the  family graves of those I  loved.
   My alma mater, Trinity College Dublin, seems to have taken  the lead in the anti-semitic thrust, describing a professor, a distant relative of mine as a 'fucking Jew'.
   I emigrated to Canada for many reasons, it seemed as near to an  ideal choice as possible, for reasons I will discuss elsewhere.

   When  I first heard of Jordan  Peterson and the pronoun fiasco, I thought here's an academic that I can sympathize with.   As a Professor in the department of Family Medicine in the University of Saskatchewan and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, I recognized that this man had  the considerable courage to stand up for  something he believed in, despite the fact that he had little to gain and much to lose.  The vultures of academe can devour their victims more effectively than most predators.  Peterson stood strong against their attacks.   Then I started listening Peterson's podcasts and 'Lo and Behold' this man was saying things I had been thinking for years!  He talks about de-masculinized men (pathetic weasels)who are afraid to be men and hyper masculinized women. He talks about parental incompetence and inability to control their children and to teach them independence and responsibility.  He talks about parents afraid and unable to discipline their children, afraid to apply the most minimal measures of restraint and punishment, who wonder why their off -spring behave as they do, certain that the acts that they commit as adults will be as free of consequences as those of their childhood.  He explains how the attempt to ameliorate the responsibilities that they should bear must ultimately result in disaster.  The well intentioned parents who attempt to remove all stress from the life of their children deprive them of one of life's most important skills - the ability to provide for themselves and their family.  He talks about and emphasizes the differences between men and women, something that terrifies most men today.
   I started listening to his book, "Twelve Rules to Live By." as one of the books/podcasts that lull me to sleep nightly.  ( I may not have told you that I am  a chronic insomniac).   Well, instead of lulling me to sleep, it woke me up!!  This man whom I regarded, as some sort of over-rated guru, really turns out to talk common-sense!   Instead of sending me off to sleep, his audio-book keeps me awake but it is worth it! 
     I'll keep you posted!

Thursday 20 December 2018

A Wonderful Friend.

   The friend of my geriatric years, John Dell, shuffled off his mortal coil last night. It was not a surprise, though it's always a surprise when someone you care about no longer exists. We were very close friends and I was honored when his son included me with the immediate family in what in Ireland we would have called a Wake. It was an informal, heartfelt gathering, that was more the celebration of a creative well-spent life, than a mourning. As was appropriate to this man who loved music, 'Johnny' as I always called him (I never found out whether he liked that appellation or not, that's what I always called him and he never complained) went to meet his maker surrounded by music and by those who loved him. I was one of those people.
   Johnny and I had discussed our long-term outlook. He was a God -fearing man and I an agnostic. Johnny used to kid me.
   "If I'm wrong, I'll never know it. If you are, you're going to have a lot to answer for!! But I'll do what I can for you." he laughed.
   We first became friends in 2004, soon after my coronary by-pass surgery, when I started frequenting the Aquatic Centre to develop an exercise program as advised by my physicians. Johnny and I, both of us talkers, struck up a friendship almost immediately and when he suggested coffee at the next door Tim Hortons, it was the beginning of a long culinary relationship as well as a unique friendship. There weren't many eateries within a reasonable distance that Johnny and I hadn't tried and given some (pardon the pun!) feedback. For a while we actually kept a notebook commenting on the quality of the eats. When a waitress once asked us about it, Johnny had no difficulty in assuring her we were developing a food column to be published as soon as we could find a paper interested. We even convinced ourselves that it might come about! Soon it became a regular date and two or three times a week we went swimming and scoured the local eating establishments that were a little different.

   We always celebrated the beginning of summer by taking a drive in his old seventies convertible, a Chrysler New Yorker I think, to  Port Stanley, where we sat on the patio of an old lakefront hotel, now gone and ordered a large plate of fresh perch and a jug of beer.  We would overlook the drawbridge going up and down every half hour or so.  John loved that car and when two 'girls' (at least in  their seventies) came over to our table and commented, "nice car you boys are driving!" John glowed with pleasure.  On our way home we always stopped at Shaw's Ice Cream for a spectacular ice cream cone.  It was the first place that I ever tasted a 'Cinnamon Bun' Ice Cream cone!  I loved it- and like so  many of the things I loved, it isn't available anymore. 
   He had some amazing stories to tell of an era when men were men and women were women. He was WW2 come alive. He joined the Canadian Navy when he was sixteen, below the age when it was permissible to serve in the armed services. When he was found out, he was transferred to the Norwegian Merchant Navy, where his adventures extended from being locked in the Freezer of a food conveying ship, to falling overboard.
"That must have been terrifying, John," I had said to him.
"Yes, I thought I was finished and I could imagine what my mother would say! I was lucky, because the ship was anchored. Otherwise I would have been a dead man!"
   He had been a cop in Niagara Falls for a number of years and had a rich cornucopia of stories. A big man, both literally and metaphorically, I wouldn't have like to be on the wrong side, when Johnny gave the bad guys the "eye".
   I managed to match his stories much of the time, regaling him with tales of my years in Regina, as physician to and a Special Constable in the RCMP.
   He and I particularly enjoyed the summers, when we took over my son's swimming pool and lolled around the pool before checking out the restaurants in Lambeth.
   In the past year, he wasn't able to swim and so we played a different sort of pool - eightball!   He complained about being almost blind in one eye, particularly when he missed a shot. When he played a difficult shot brilliantly, as he sometimes did,he would say,
   "Not bad for a blind man, Eh??"

   A wonderful friend to have made in this stage of both of our lives. I will miss him sorely.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

A Kid shit/puked in my Pool today!

    I schlepped out of my bed this morning against all my better instincts.  I was warm, cosy and had been having pleasant dreams.  For some reason, quite incomprehensible to me most of my dreams are pleasant, to the extent that waking up is a disappointment!  Still,  knew that I had to go swimming, lest the muse of eternal youth desert me.  So, reluctantly I dragged myself out of my warm, comfortable slumber, to go about my self-imposed task of swimming quite actively, for an hour.  My OCD requires that it be an hour, no less and my innate laziness requires that it be no more!  I usually start at eleven and I swim quite actively until all three hands of the clock are at twelve!   
   This morning, I hit the pool a little early, ten fifty to be precise and felt quite self-satisfied at my accomplishment.  This was going to be quite a morning  for life prolongation, especially after that little extra shot of a very fine single-malt that I took before going to bed.   
   I started off well.  Guy, a relatively new friend and I, managed to share a swimming lane to ourselves, no easy task on a busy Monday morning!  We were well into our exercise program, well at least ten minutes into it, when our favorite lifeguard, an animated young woman, with four young daughters who sometimes accompanied her to the pool, came racing over.
  "Okay guys," she said to us,"You've got to get put of the pool right now"
   We laughed at her.  "That sounds pretty urgent.  Got a bomb threat or something?"
   "Yep," she said.  "Some kid shit in the pool!  We've got to shock it.  You'll be able to swim this afternoon.  And by the way, they think she threw up as well!"
   We got out without further ado.  

   So, Guy and I got a chance to know each other a little better.  He had been an police officer in Ontario for a number of years and had a number of stories to recount and I had a few to tell him about when I was a Special Constable in the RCMP.  
   Funny how my late friendships seem to be Cops and Docs!
   Go figger!  

Saturday 8 December 2018

A Christmas Story, or Baby It's Cold Outside!

   Last night, I watched "A Christmas Story".  I had always regarded it as a fun filled family film, that emphasized the family closeness of Christmases past and made the point that  when the past was reviewed through the lens of family closeness all  the little conflicts and  exasperations of family life were as nothing compared to the richness of the close life-long relationships within the nuclear family.  
   Following the  furore regarding "Baby it's Cold Outside", I thought I ought to look at some some of  the racist prejudices behind the much beloved "A Christmas Story", and lo and behold, I found it to  be as innocent as anything that a Straight White Racist could pen!  Imagine, I used to find the whole story a hilarious recounting of the minor trials and tribulations that every family dealt with as it matured, leading to the magnificent bonding that develops in some, but not all families.  Alas, that is not the way the humorless society of the troglodytes of the Left see it at all.  I am assuming that you have seen the movie.   Perhaps, this is the way they see it. 
   Early in the movie it becomes apparent that the father in this family is some sort of weirdo!   He wins a prize of a lampstand and lampshade in  the shape of a womxn's high-heeled net stocking clad leg topped by a little bit of frilly lampshade.  In addition, he insists in placing the monstrosity in the living room window, to be admired by all his Straight White Racist neighbours, presumably to humiliate his poor wife, who does not seem at all humiliated! 
   Meanwhile, said poor wife, does not hesitate to punish the poor, inveterate lying Ralphie, by sticking a block of soap in his mouth every time he is caught lying.  Such a toxic practice would surely have landed her in jail today.
   Ralphie himself is no angel.  He lies, without remorse and is potentially violent.  His life's ambition is to  have a Red Ryder Rifle, with which, as everybody knows, (even Santa Claus) an eye can easily be taken out!  When he finally rebels against a bully whose bullying he seemed to acquiesce to, he looked as though he would pound him into oblivion, had not his own mother been called to  intervene.  
   Finally, Santa Claus himself, seemed a little suspect.  Admittedly, it was near closing time in the store, but the way he talked and bumped the kids off his knee and down a chute, to get rid of them as quickly as possible, seemed to rankle of capitalistic greed.  Perhaps his time has come.
   No, I don't think this movie meets the requirements of todays empathetic, LWL,whining snowflakes!
                IT HAS TO BE BANNED !!

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Swimming Pool Tales.

    As I was dressing in the men's 'Locker Room' after my work-out at the Y swimming-pool and squeezing for some room to change, the man next to me struck up a conversation.
     "Looks like winter is here." A common enough opening gambit in Canada.
     He was a  fit- looking man, of about seventy-five.
     I answered, "Are you going to get away this winter?"  A common enough retort to his comment.
     "I'd love to, but my wife and I just got back from an extended holiday."
     I asked. "Where did you go?"
     " Israel," he responded, "ever been there?"
     "Yes," I replied.
     "I went as part of a tour.  As a matter of fact, our pastor  is of Jewish lineage and was a wonderful guide.  Only one month ago I was standing on the Golan heights overlooking the Galilee.  A magnificent sight!"
     "And you know who are the happiest people in Israel?"  he asked.
     I waited for  the answer.
     "The Palestinians," he answered.  "They are happy they live in Israel, not on the other side of the line.   To tell the truth, I would never have known there was a war going on.   I  felt safer than I do in Toronto.   When we went into a restaurant or a coffee-shop and saw the boys and girls with their machine-guns hanging over the back of their chairs, it was  re-assuring, not threatening!  It's an amazing country."
      He had volunteered all this before I had told him I was Jewish.  
     "Ever been there?" he asked.
     I told him I had spent several  months in  Beer Sheva at Ben Gurion University on sabbatical as a visiting professor and of my journeys in the Negev Desert with a Bedouin family medicine resident assessing outpost medicine in the desert.
      He said, "I couldn't believe it.  The whole country is a Silicon Valley.  Microsoft here, Google there, Alcatel-Lucent, BMC, Intel.  There was no end to them!  The whole nation is abuzz with industry and creativity.  An amazing country!"
      And it is!  I often ponder the sickness that leads so many who benefit from their creativity and inventiveness consistently malign the State of Israel.
     But then I really do know and understand it; and so do you.

    Recently, while swimming my laps at the Y,  I ran into an almost middle-aged man, who used to be one of my residents soon after I moved to London, a mere twenty or so years.   I recall being at a resident party when he and his wife and young baby were guests a few years later.
   Although I hadn't seen him for a long time when I asked him how old the baby was now and he told me fifteen I was taken aback.  He also proudly told me she was a upwardly bound competitive swimmer.   I learned about the ridiculously early morning swimming meets that he was committed to driving her to.
   "How old are you now?" I asked him.
   "Forty - five." he answered.
    I couldn't resist telling him that my parents, loving as they were, sent me out to play in the street, where I almost became a cricket star, until I hit the ball through someone's glass window!  Anyway, I got more exercise than I needed bicycling to and from school each day, about 45 minutes each way.
    He understood and smiled.

     I'd hardly parted company with my ex resident when I saw an  old surgeon acquaintance who I hadn't seen for quite a while.  He was one of the  'fit' geriatric group and I  knew he was a lot younger than me.
     "Still doing eighty laps each  time you come out?" I asked cheerily."That must be about five km, "
     "Actually it's two," he  said, smiling.
     "I haven't seen you for quite a while," I said.  "Finally giving up the ghost ?"
     "No," he answered, " my wife is seriously ill, and not doing very well after cancer surgery.  I don't like to  leave her alone for long, but I just have to keep swimming or I'd be no  use to her or to anyone else."
     "That's terrible," I said, he had shared the diagnosis with me and there really wasn't much hope. "I hope she'll do better after the surgery," What else could I say?.
      He smiled sadly, "Thanks, I better keep swimming and try to complete forty laps today before I go home."

      I kept swimming, hoping I  would finish off my exercise program, such as it is, on a more happy note, when I ran into my Dutch lady.  Once folks know you were once a doctor, you have access to their innermost secrets (including what they think of their own current doctor).   Nevertheless, this delightful lady was born during WW2 in Holland and has some stories she tells in her upbeat animated and humerous way that would make your hair stand on end.  She swims energetically and when I remarked on it, she said she has to because she is booked for knee replacement surgery, first one next month and the second in a few months time.
     "I have to do at least forty lengths (a kilometer!) several times a week. I've got to keep really fit, so they don't cancel my surgery," she said and added,"and to maintain my sanity!"   
     She lives out in the countryside, won't be able to drive for a while and her aging elderly husband seems on the brink of losing his driving license due to increasing cognitive impairment.    
     Getting old ain't for sissies!