Category Archives: Breast Cancer

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let us remind our poor men folk in deed and song:

There are two types of men in this womanly world:

Those who know they are weak,

Those who think they are strong.” — Philip Strax

SO FAR AWAY

Didja catch the sky show this weekend?

The thumbnail moon has been doing a celestial dance with the planets Venus and Jupiter. Man, it’s a fantastic tableau.

Tonight’s Arrangement

All three orbs are doh-si-doh-ing in the far western sky at sunset and for about an hour and a half thereafter.

Imagine: you can glance up at the clear sky at, say, 7:30pm any evening this week and literally see an object — Jupiter — that’s a hair less than 600 million miles away. Think of it this way, that’s 240,000 times the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Some Walk

Or, to put it another way, it’s more than 5200 times the number of miles the average American walks in a lifetime.

Don’t miss the show, folks.

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”

Just got finished reading Kurt Vonnegut‘s “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.” Fun book. Took me an hour. Give it a shot.

It’s a compilation of audio pieces Vonnegut did for Public Radio’s WNYC in New York. The idea being Vonnegut, working with the suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, repeatedly gets just enough lethal injection medication to bring him to a series of near-death experiences.

Life & Death

He travels down the bright blue tunnel and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven and is able to interview various dead folk. He speaks with such luminaries as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Shakespeare, and Clarence Darrow as well as people you wouldn’t expect to have merited entrance to paradise; Vonnegut interviews Adolf Hitler and James Earl Ray, too.

There is no hell in Vonnegut’s conceit, so everybody who dies gets to go to heaven. Hitler, for his part, tells him the world should erect a stone monument to his memory, perhaps at the site of the United Nations in New York. The monument should be inscribed, “Entschuldigen Sie” — I beg your pardon.

Anyway, the quote at the top of this post comes from one of the people Vonnegut meets in heaven. Dr. Philip Strax was the guy who convinced American women and their doctors that mammograms were essential in detecting early, treatable, forms of breast cancer. He and a couple of associates, Sam Shapiro and Dr. Louis Venet, published their ground-breaking study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1966.

No telling how many women’s lives have been saved by the Strax et al paper. Strax’s own wife died of breast cancer at the age of 39 and he devoted the rest of his life to fighting the disease.

One Way To Look At Things

Check out any magazine and you’ll naturally come to the conclusion that Americans have breasts on their minds from morning until night. Men, in case you didn’t know, even dream about them. At least Phil Strax turned a preoccupation with mammaries into a service to humankind.

C’MON, LET’S PLAY!

Friday, I put the challenge out there: Let’s play a game wherein we try to guess how outlandish the Republican Party will become by the 2016 presidential race.

After all, things have become so psychotic around POG world headquarters that smart-asses like me can hardly even make jokes about them anymore. The Republican candidates are the joke.

Comedy Competition

It can only get worse. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone thinks that the Republican attack strategy which has worked so well for more than 30 years has become so pervasive that this year’s nominees have turned on each other. The Republicans, Taibbi implies, have become cannibals.

So, I put out the call for Pencillistas get all creative and try to imagine how psychotic the GOP (oh, right, I forgot — the POG) will become in four years.

The game, which I dubbed the Electron Cool Test, is easily played. Just come up with some nightmarish slogan, a weird candidate, or a bizarre scenario that the Republicans will foist upon us the next time we stage a presidential beauty contest after 2012.

I started things off by suggesting Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump will be the frontrunners when primary season 2016 commences. They will face none other than Chelsea Clinton in my fever dream.

Commander-in-Chief

Pencillista Nona Schultz foresees the Republicans gobbling themselves to near-death this year, making them bit players in the political arena for years to come. “This is my delusion and I’m sticking to it,” she writes.

Bloomington City Council member Susan Sandberg pulled a comfy chair up to the keyboard and clacked out a dystopian novella. Running mates Mitch Daniels and Chris Christy will character-assassinate poor young Chelsea (who’ll indeed be 35 by 2016) and squeak past her in the election.

A Heartbeat Away

Daniels will preside over an economic depression forcing many Americans into bread lines. America under the former Indiana governor will be a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually starved country,” Sandberg writes.

Sheez, Susan, way to bum us all out.

It’s on you now, Pencillistas. What do the Republicans have in store for us in four years? Simply type your entry in the Leave A Comment section.

And remember, the winner will get a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

FORGET THE ELEPHANT

The elephant has been the mascot of the Republican Party for some 140 years.

That’s a shame because elephants are among my fave critters on Earth. Republicans, not so much.

So I suggest a switch. Follow me, now.

The Party needs an animal mascot that’s native to the United States — the elephant, of course, is not.

The animal must be the largest of its kind. Republicans, like Texans, like things big.

It can’t be a vegetarian, like the pachyderm. No, it must eat meat (or at least living, moving, noise-making creatures.)

It must have a certain burly quality, perhaps an upper body that’s heavily muscled. Republicans like their idols to be he-men.

Finally, the animal must have a mean disposition and weapons to back it up. After all, what’s a Republican without weapons?

Therefore, I hereby propose that the animal known by the zoological term Conepatus leoconotus be named the new animal mascot for the Party of God.

Conepati live in such definitively American spots as Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. If that doesn’t scream out GOP, I don’t know what does.

They have strong front legs and shoulders, like Chuck Norris. They have long, thick claws which, in the animal world, are the equivalent of firearms. The NRA should love these guys.

Speaking Of Symbolism

Finally, Conepati, when annoyed or frightened, spray a foul-smelling substance from a gland located near their anus. What could be more Republican than that?

Conepatus leuconotus is more commonly known as the hog-nosed skunk.

Perfect.

Grand Old Party

These critters are the whitest among the many varieties of skunks. Republican, right? Oh, and they have a dark underside.

Hey, Newt Gingrich might already be a hog-nosed skunk.

There. I’ve solved the mascot problem for the GOP. Now I’ll get cracking on the Dems — although it’ll be hard to top the jackass as a symbol for that gang.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” — Thomas Merton

THE FUTURE KING OF THE UNITED STATES SPEAKS

I played hooky from these precincts yesterday. It felt deliciously bad to be irresponsible.

On the other hand, it wasn’t as though I lolled on a beach. The Loved One had invited a pal over to watch movies last night and had asked me to clean the house. So I had a perfect excuse for not posting.

Cleaning the house reminds me: when I become King of the United States (a position last held by Garfield Goose), I will issue an edict that everybody must scrub their own toilets.

Humbling

This isn’t as fatuous as you might think. I know of no sane human being who enjoys scrubbing the toilet but it’s a task that must be done. It’s one of the most humbling chores we have to do. Maybe the only thing more humbling is emptying bedpans at a hospital or nursing home. I did that when I was in and out of college in the late ’70s. It took me months to learn how to eat dinner without mentally flashing on what I’d done at work that day.

Anyway, emptying bedpans and scrubbing toilets remind us that, honestly, we as a species ain’t anything special, kids.

Now, we have to assume people like Donald Trump and Oprah do not scrub their own toilets. They have, after all, far more important things to do.

“I Certainly Will Not Scrub My Own Toilet!”

But the truth is there’s very little in life more important than scrubbing the toilet. On a practical level, we have to do it or else our bathrooms will essentially become oversized Petri dishes for the cultivation of dangerous microbes. And psychologically, it makes us feel invigorated to do our business in a relatively clean cube.

Perhaps most important of all, though, the simple but awkward task of sprinkling cleanser, brushing, and rinsing reminds us we’re no better than any other human being on this planet.

A lesson, I’m sure, that might benefit someone like Donald Trump.

THE BREAST CANCER RACKET

Lousy news the other day about the Susan G Komen gang and Planned Parenthood, no?

(An update: the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has reversed its earlier decision to cut off Planned Parenthood funding.)

I have a confession to make. I became sick of the color pink long ago. In fact, this whole breast cancer thing is getting to me.

Pink Baseball Bats At The Louisville Slugger Factory

Now don’t get me wrong — I realize breast cancer is a horrible problem and I hope nobody gets it and all the rest. I know a number of women who’ve suffered from it. For them I hope a cure is found by five this afternoon.

Early Detection

But years ago it occurred to me that the “battle” against the disease was becoming more of a cottage industry than something people wanted to see won and finished.

The cure walks and the swathing of everything up to and including the Sears/Willis Tower in pink seem more like in-group partying than anything else. Perhaps I’m wrong, wrong, wrong but I suspect that if breast cancer were suddenly and magically wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow morning, a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on “battling” it would be, well, bummed.

Anyway, if the Komen mob’s decision to cut off funding PP is any indication, preventing and curing breast cancer is less important than making sure women stop their nasty habit of having sex.

For a brief moment I was hesitant to write this screed. Surely, I thought, somebody’s gonna rake me over the coals for not genuflecting in the direction of those who walk or race for the cure. But then last night I caught a Facebook post from sexologist Susie Bright and I decided, hell, I’m gonna go with it.

Susie Bright wrote: “Am I the only one who’s thought Komen is full of shit since day one? They’ve always been nauseating, a pink GOP branding machine.” Bright then links to a fascinating bring-down of the Komen myth that ran on a website called Butter Believer.

Susie Bright Reading From Her Book, “Big Sex, Little Death”

The article’s author looked over Komen’s annual report and discovered that the organization spends fully 60 percent of its money on public health education, fund-raising costs, and administrative costs. And while that public education line might seem noble, it’s really mostly the tab for their pink-washing and self-congratulatory events.

Those things are, for all intents and purposes, advertising.

The author also charges that only a penny of every dollar spent on Komen’s licensed pink products actually goes to research to find a cure for breast cancer.

And, by the way, don’t try to start any kind of charitable organization using the word “cure” in its title. The Komen-ites likely will sue your ass off. “Did you know,” the author writes, “that Susan G. Komen for the Cure spends nearly a million dollars annually suing small charities over the use of the word ‘cure’…?”

The Real Cure

There is a silver lining to this story. Donations to Planned Parenthood have gone through the roof since the Komen cut-off was announced.

THE FIENDS

What’s the worst crime you can commit in these United States? Arson? Kidnapping a child for nefarious purposes? Robbing a bank?

Nope. The answer is messing with the Super Bowl.

WRTV Channel 6 in Indy breathlessly reported Thursday that union members unhappy over the Indiana State Legislature’s passing of its union-busting bill are threatening to disrupt the Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday Service

The Super Bowl, of course, is this holy land’s holiest event. I’ve long endorsed the idea that Super Bowl Sunday should be declared a national holiday. Football is a game that is run by men, involves violence, employs strippers disguised as cheerleaders, and rakes in literally billions of dollars a year for teams, television, bookies, athletes, anthem singers, halftime entertainers, orthopedic surgeons, criminal defense attorneys, and many more.

What’s more American than that?

Game day coverage of the Super Bowl this year begins at eight o’clock in the morning — kickoff is scheduled for ten and a half hours later.

Guaranteed, more people know the name of the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots than can identify the current Secretary of State of the United States.

As for the aggrieved unionistas, they’ve been overruled by their higher-ups. Indiana AFL-CIO chief Nancy Guyott promised union members will not blaspheme Sunday’s sacred rite at the Lucas Oil cathedral.

House Of God

She probably figures union membership has suffered enough in recent years and Super Bowl security forces likely will shoot to kill anyone who messes with the event.

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