Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

Speaking about healthcare…

Posted by Anthony on March 31, 2015

Well, as some of you may have noticed it has been a little while since I last posted here. Fear not, though, for there is a good reason and it has nothing to do with being lazy! Allow me to explain…

About a few months ago (late 2014), I began having bad night sweats. How bad? Bad as in having to get up in the middle of the night and completely change what I was wearing and change the pillow bad. I blamed it on the heat in the room (it was, after all, the chilly part of the year), on what I was wearing, on what I had eaten that day… basically on anything that would allow me to avoid having to recognize it as a symptom of something crying out for attention. During the time period from around the end of December until a few weeks ago I also suffered from numerous minor illnesses. A cold here, a sinus infection there… nothing either some NyQuil/ DayQuil or a quick trip to the doctor couldn’t fix! So it went on, week after week and the months rolled by.

Then, around the beginning of March, I suddenly began suffering from extreme fatigue and chills. I am, by profession, a teacher, and so (much to the chagrin of those who want to view us as overpaid babysitters), my day starts and ends on my feet. I am one of those teachers who likes to re-enact John Wilkes Booth leaping to the stage while yelling “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” and my imitations of multiple Presidents have garnered applause from my students. So I figured that this was just a matter of being a little extra tired. Except that it wasn’t… I found myself coming home, laying on the couch and pulling a blanket over my body. I could barely get up for dinner. Friends and family began commenting on my fatigue while I, stiff upper lip and all, would jokingly refer to the upcoming Spring Break that was about a month away as the time I would “catch up” on my rest and buck this trend.

The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, however, changed everything. I had consented to go get blood- work done to see if there was anything wrong, figured it was probably something minor such as an iron deficiency or the likes. That Saturday I felt chest pains for the first time. It was as if someone had my heart in their hand and was squeezing it every few moments. Again, quite stupidly, I did little more than mention it figuring this too was a result of the fatigue. I went to school that Monday, but after the typical falling to the couch with the chills and waking up a few hours later, I felt as if my chest was going to explode. It was pain I had not experienced before and, to be quite frank, it was actually scary. For the first time in four years of work I called out and went to the Emergency Room on Tuesday.

I’ll spare you, my dear reader, most of the details here regarding the next eight (8) days that I spent at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Suffice it to say that it was eye opening: I had numerous procedures done and, thanks to the excellent care I received and the attentive eyes of the doctors and nurses who took care of me, I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection on my aortic valve. How did it get there? Nobody really knows… it’s apparently a form of strep that made its way there, latched on to this patch I have from my previous open-heart surgery in 2010 (and which I had no idea was there in the first place) and then spread to my lungs and blood. Had I remained obstinate about treatment, I would probably be dead by now. Thankfully when it comes to the heart I am much more willing to err on the side of caution in large part because of my past history of heart related issues.

So while I do have a few articles I’m working on (and good ones at that I promise!) I have written this in an effort to help you understand why I did not write for a while and also to make a plea that will sound at once as a cliche and a “born again” moment (as close to born again as I’ll ever be): if you have chest pains, please go see a doctor. Don’t be an arse like me and wait until things get really out of hand. Also, if you have any recurring symptoms please see a doctor. Had I done that earlier, there is a good chance we would have probably solved this with minimal fuss. As it is, I now have a PICC line in (you can look it up if you wish) and need to administer medicine every four hours for one of them and every twelve hours for the other. It’s not fun.

With that, I plan on an article within the next two or three days… something to give you a weekend treat :) Thank you for your continued readership as always, and stay healthy.

 

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Who Thought Vaccines Were an Option?

Posted by Anthony on February 4, 2015

 

As we have just turned over a new year (well, for those following the Gregorian calendar in any case), it is always a good idea to take stock of where we are, how the past year has been, and where we’re going from here. I had a discussion the other day with a friend who asked about how much longer I thought the human race would manage to keep itself on the universal stage. An interesting question, to be sure, since it requires one to contemplate any number of the myriad situations that might bring about the extinction of humanity (even if not rendering the Earth a lifeless globe). Some are, of course, beyond anything we can stop: a rogue black hole finding its way into the Solar System, or a Gamma Ray Burst that happens to annihilate the atmosphere. Some, however, are preventable even if to certain degrees: we could, for example, take measures to stop an asteroid from obliterating our planet though it would require a tremendous effort and cost, just as we could make the inevitably required move off of our planet and either onto Mars, the most likely candidate as a planet, or to a ring-world of sorts, which is not nearly as fantastical as it might seem. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Turkish Non-Delight: Facebook and Freedom of Speech

Posted by Anthony on January 26, 2015

First, allow me to start off this entry with a blanket statement: I love Turkey. I visited Turkey in 2012, and can honestly tell you that there are very few places in the world I have been that were as enjoyable. For me, it contained the perfect mix of ancient, medieval, and modern along with the fine balance so difficult to find these days of European and Middle-Eastern mixed into one fantastic city: Istanbul. The people are about the best you will find anywhere, the food is excellent, and history is everywhere you step which, to me as an historian, was quite thrilling. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Wealth is Enough?

Posted by Anthony on January 19, 2015

Anti-Poverty charity Oxfam released a report the other day wherein their studies show that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% of the global population will own more than 50% of the wealth. By 2020, that percentage is due to rise to 54%. Whereas the elites have been getting wealthier, the poor of the world have seen a marked drop in the amount of wealth they posses: the same report explains that the bottom 50% has seen their wealth drop by $750 billion in the last four years. This bring us to some interesting observations… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Africa, Americas, Culture, Economics, Europe, Middle East, Politics, South Asia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Few Thoughts on Freedom of Speech

Posted by Anthony on January 13, 2015

At the time of this writing, the streets of France are once again quiet (or at least quieter), and the world leaders who had gathered there to express solidarity with the Republic have gone home. Except, of course, for the one glaring omission: who exactly did the United States send again? One cannot seriously make the argument that there was no way to send a high profile individual to represent the States. While it is true that the President most likely could not have gone (President’s don’t usually go on spur of the minute trips because of the immense background work that has to go in to him going pretty much anywhere), but one could have at least expected the Vice-President to go, or perhaps even better to have a former President who is well known for his ability to show compassion for the cameras (yes, it’s Bill Clinton) march arm in arm with those heads of state. A no-show, or rather, a minor-league show just seems in bad taste for the the United States at this critical time.

Discussing this issue with others, I am amused to think back on the Satanic Verses travesty and how that matches up to this current issue. Back then, the majority of the “free world” hammered Mr. Rushdie and even the liberal left came out against him. How dare he create an allegorical story that had a section eerily similar to the foundation tale of Islam! How few were they who stood up for his freedom of speech, for his right to write what he wanted regardless of whom he might offend. Today, thankfully, we do not see the same attitude being shown in the western world: almost to a one, the leadership of Europe has come out in steadfast defense of the right to offend and for freedom of expression. One wonders here if the last thirty years have taken their toll on the desire of those in Europe to stay silent, or at least to beg not to offend. One is perhaps not so afraid of Iran exporting her (now completely discredited) revolution to Shia Muslims worldwide, nor is one apt to back down as much now that the threat of violence has been realized rather than imagined. Whatever the reason, it is refreshing to see from a dozen states and then some the impassioned voices of millions rising up as one in claiming the (yes, I’ll use the term) sacred right to offend, or at the very least to feel one can write/ draw/ say something and not have to worry about being murdered for it. Finally, we may stop blaming the victim here and turn our collective finger in an accusatory fashion at the real villains of this travesty: those who murdered individuals because they wished to silence them.

Finally, a comment on Charlie Hebdo itself: good on them for going ahead and printing a cover with a picture of Muhammad on it. This was really the only feasible reaction: answer back the sword with the pen, a long arm from the grave, and show that although you might be able to kill some people, you will never be able to kill off all voices who cry out for justice against such a heinous act. When Creedy had finished pumping bullets into V, only to have the latter stumble forward and grab him by the neck, he asked him in an almost pleading manner “Why won’t you die!?” V‘s answer, of course, was brief yet eloquent: “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”

Indeed they are, and so long as that remains the case we have nothing to fear from these ruffians.

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Returning to the Fray…

Posted by Anthony on January 11, 2015

When I had initially begun this blog, it was to be as a repository for my published articles while I was in graduate school and wrote for the Rutgers (Newark) Observer. The idea was that I would put the articles out for consumption in case anything ever happened to the website for the paper, a wise decision in hind-site. I did write a few articles after the fact, but as life often can do to one I found myself flooded with all sorts of distractions and so felt that the time had come to cease my publications here. This would simply be a testimony to my past for anyone who cared to read the articles.

No longer…

The recent events in France involving the massacre of cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo has galvanized me and reminded me of why I began writing in the first place: the need to wield the pen as a weapon against ignorance and violence is as real today as it was when I first started writing this blog almost eight years ago. The assault on freedom of speech and expression has now entered (in fact, it has been going in this direction for a while now) a new phase where the theocratic encroachments on us threaten to render us all mute. This is something up with which I will not put.

So, for those of you who have read this page in the past, I welcome you back. For those of you who will find this page in the future, I welcome you in general. And for those of you who truly and earnestly believe that you can silence a civilization through blood and terror, you have another thing coming…

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The Blood is on Your Hands (J’Accuse)

Posted by Anthony on September 1, 2010

By Anthony J. Aschettino

There is not much time left; nobody really knows how much, but we feel that a number less than ten years is probably a good ballpark to go by. Ten years. That’s how long Americans have to decide the future of Islam in America. Ten years to decide what kind of a future society Americans want to build, and what sort of social atmosphere they want to exist for their children in the coming decades.

Of course we are not speaking to all Americans here; rather, we are speaking to “Americans™”. We are speaking to the conservative, right wing denizens of this country who are doing their best, and sadly succeeding in many respects, to drive a definitive wedge between America and Islam. Their constant demonizing of the religion is sowing the seeds of a future harvest that will see the crippling of the America that most ordinary people know and desire, and that grim visage will be an unalterable fact after a certain point. The event horizon is looming in the near distance, and the right wing in this country is hell-bent on diving head-first into it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cowardice and Appeasement: The AAP and Female Genital Mutilation

Posted by Anthony on May 8, 2010

By Anthony J. Aschettino

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sometimes referred to euphemistically as “female circumcision”, is a cultural practice in which young girls have parts of their genitalia removed in order to “tame” their sexuality. The practice ranges in its severity from a simple “trimming” of the genitalia (hence the reference to “circumcision” allusion) to a wholesale cutting and shaving of both the labia and clitoris. Often performed by unlicensed individuals in unsanitary conditions, and without any form of anesthesia, it is horribly painful both physically and emotionally. Read the rest of this entry »

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Banning the Burqa

Posted by Anthony on January 31, 2010

By Anthony J. Aschettino

In the post 9/11 world it has become increasingly common to link any and all visible manifestations of Islam to that of at least a passive support of terrorism or, at the very least, Islamism. Gone are the days in which a woman who chose to wear a covering across her face was viewed as a novelty in the West; today she is seen as being part of the vanguard for Osama bin Laden and his horde of mujahideen seeking to overrun the free world.

In France, a bastion of secular liberalism in the west, there is currently debate on whether or not to ban the wearing of a full face veil (the niqab), as it has been deemed a “challenge to the Republic”. Truly the burqa, often described as a tent-like garment draped over a woman, can be seen as alien to western, liberal cultures especially when coupled with the face-covering aspect of the niqab; to many women in the west, it represents repression, misogyny, and a backwards way of living for those women who don it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Americas, Culture, Europe, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

What We Have Learned From Iran

Posted by Anthony on July 11, 2009

By Anthony J. Aschettino

Looking at the Iranian post-election uprisings of 2009 from several weeks’ perspective, it becomes much clearer as to what the results of the protests have accomplished: they have affected the regime as much as the voting electorate and they represent a new chapter in potential discourse with the Islamic Republic.

The first, and most important, result of the protests is that Iran no longer can maintain even an air of legitimacy about the “democratic” process within the state. In the past there was a general consensus that, if not entirely democratic (the oligarchy of mullahs still runs the show), there was the potential chance for change on more practical levels such as the economy and collective security. This illusion has been smashed beyond repair: Iran will, as long as it retains the current regime, never again have a legitimate election.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Middle East, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

 
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