View from a limb of the crooked tree

Out of the crooked tree of humanity no straight thing can ever be made - Immanuel Kant Dear Uma: Being stylish can be deadly: Thailand's health authorities have had to warn young women that wearing the in-fashion black leggings may attract dengue-carryi

Out of the crooked tree of humanity no straight thing can ever be made – Immanuel Kant

Dear Uma:

Being stylish can be deadly: Thailand’s health authorities have had to warn young women that wearing the in-fashion black leggings may attract dengue-carrying mosquitoes. We need to come up with something scary to discourage the wearing of leggings in our country; it is not a good look for anyone over the age of 10.

Obesity in Chinese kids is increasing at the same dizzying rate as in the rest of the world and the same solutions are being attempted. The ‘fat camps’ are popular with those whose parents can afford the $1,400 for a month of grunting and sweating for their chubby children. Seeing as how it is the parents who feed these kids into social oblivion and chronic ill health, wouldn’t it be obvious it is the parents who can stop?

Vietnamese provincial authorities are refusing to prosecute three men who police say gang-raped a transsexual woman. The woman had a sex-change operation four years previous to the rape and had not reclassified her legal gender from male to female. Vietnamese law only covers rape of women by men. One cannot overestimate the importance of getting the paperwork done no matter where one lives.

A Tokyo man believed to be 111 years old was found to be dead. Police discovered his three-decades-old skeleton in his bed; his family is now being prosecuted for pension fraud. The event led city halls around Japan to do some serious investigations finding thousands of centenarians registered as alive who may in fact be dead, including a man born in 1840 at the time of the first Opium War. It gives a whole new meaning to the skeleton in the family closet.

In Kuala Lumpur a security guard shot dead two of his colleagues who accused him of dozing off while on duty. The emotional toil of trying to get along with others is at the top of the list of workplace stressors. In our enlightened country it costs our economy $51 billion per year in lost work days due to mental health issues. What may make companies pay attention to this if no one else does is the news that mental health leave costs them twice as much as a physical disability leave. If you have a short term physical disability such as a digestive disorder, or an injury, the average work days lost is 33 days, at a cost of $9,000. A mental illness like depression, or anxiety, leads to an average 65 day leave and a $18,000 bill.

All of the above news was taken from the Asian Post; I find it comforting somehow to learn that it is not the decadent Western world alone that suffers from having an abundance of folk who can only be described as floridly psychotic. Really, our only hope is that someday the mother ship will take them because for sure we seem to be less and less able to cope with anything or anyone who is outside the ubiquitous Box.

In a sustained effort to avoid getting to work I have been reading anything and everything that comes my way, except the National Enquirer. The NE’s long history of having a penchant for the lurid and bizarre is no longer their exclusive genre, however; most of the ‘respectable’ newspapers and magazines feature stories worthy of the NE’s ink and paper.

How about the news that weight loss can cause rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension? When the fat breaks down during weight loss industrial pollutant compounds that have been stored in fatty tissue get released into the bloodstream and can affect one’s health in a variety of ways. These compounds are called persistent organic pollutants (POPS) and with a catchy acronym like that it could be the very thing to turn the tide of weight worry. Those poor kids at fat camps may lose weight only to become chronically ill with diabetes anyway – from losing weight.

New evidence has connected dental floss and the brain, in a good way. Flossing at least once a day can prevent gum disease, which being an inflammation, is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and makes the likelihood of memory glitches nine times higher than normal.

A man named Les U. Knight began the ‘voluntary human extinction movement” in 1996 and can now boast an international membership of thousands. His treatise begins thusly: “Some of the words in the following message may be offensive to those who find certain combinations of letters offensive.” Mr. Knight bases his ideology on the belief that the biological urge is to have sex, not make babies. We must stop procreating, he insists. If sex is an urge to procreate then hunger is an urge to defecate, he claims. The organization’s motto is “May we live long and die out.” The Discovery channel’s Bob Woodward featured Les U. Knight on one of their programs.

In the US, a spurned wife has won $8.5 million in damages from the woman who was deemed responsible for the breakup of her marriage, using an ancient state law of ‘alienation of affection.’ The woman came to decorate the nursery for the pregnant wife and stayed to redo the husband.

The Micro Kitty, a solar powered vibrator, is now available for Greens who are into self-pleasure, and of course, the merely curious. Not only does it not need batteries but it is free of toxic phthalates, which must be an enormous relief to those users bringing the sun to where the sun don’t shine.

And of course everywhere there are the politicians who have poisoned the well and stolen the goose. The governments who not only rob Peter to pay Paul but now rob Peter to pay Peter.

I think Western culture, with its gigantic vanity, can still claim the title of silliest and scariest, with our fast food spiritualism, scattered families, and now the maelstrom of paranoia in which we live our daily lives.. A Gallup poll shows us a population where 25 per cent believe in ghosts; 36 per cent in mental telepathy; 47 per cent in UFOs; 49 per cent in ESP; 49 per cent in being possessed by the devil. This is a poll of adults: people who can vote, serve on juries, and operate motor vehicles.

After a couple of days of this sort of reading I feel as though I am Alice, fallen through the rabbit hole. I emerge, blinking, into the sun of another day in this little town which now seems an oasis of sanity and normalcy.

‘Seems’ is OK with those of us living comfortable lives, ensconced in loving families and financially free of immediate worry, but all the sensational media coverage of the above-mentioned discoveries can have a negative effect that could, if one allowed it, lead to some of that expensive depression. Almost worse, it is leading to a growing sense of distrust among people.

This seems to be especially true with northerners; most reveal a deep dis-ease with the notion of living in cities, those places populated by the very people they read about in the newspapers and magazines or watch on TV or computers. Through the mainstream media we are constantly reminded that we inhabit a planet full of life forms earnestly engaged in trying to kill one another and that any moment we could be next. We tend to regard one another more and more with suspicion, a wariness that does not lend itself to building community, let alone a wide and varied circle of friends. For those of us who want our circles tend to be made up of folks who look and act just like us: comforting, but not very interesting or challenging, these little northern towns are the answer.

This town is like anywhere else; it has its heroes and its clowns, its villains and its victims, its audience and its players, but mostly the folks who inhabit the place know who is who and which is which. There are rarely surprises, which makes for a comfortable place in which to dwell. Yes, the guy allegedly set fire to his home and business, but we all figured he’d end up doing something extreme sooner or later, and more importantly, we knew who and what would be his target – not us. The daily acts of domestic violence for which our town is famous for the most part take place out of the sight and sound of the public and are rarely discussed. If it does not directly concern us, personally or professionally, we can safely disregard the pain and the suffering around us.

I am still waiting to hear from you regarding a mini holiday. I’m ready to step outside this comfort zone for awhile, especially if we go to a place where we won’t have to deal with foreigners and their tricky languages, the ones that have a different word for everything. Now that would be stress.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.

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