Paul Farmer has died

I read the tragic news of his death at the young age of 62 in Rwanda. Farmer was one of the truly inspiring people. A highly trained doctor who came from humble beginnings, his mission in life was to bring high quality health care to some of the poorest nations in the world, starting with Haiti. A strong believer in the need for global justice and equity, along with Ophelia Dahl (who happens to be the daughter of children’s author Roald Dahl and Academy Award winning actress Patricia Neal), he co-founded the organization Partners in Health which I have supported for many years. They sent me an email announcing the sad news and saying that his death was due to an ‘acute cardiac event’, which I understand to be a heart attack. The Miami Herald has a report.

Dr. Paul Farmer, the renowned infectious disease specialist who devoted his life to fighting deadly epidemics and spent the last several years working on four continents delivering health care to millions, has died in Rwanda, his organization Partners in Health confirmed. He was 62.

A Florida native who lived in Miami with his wife and children when he wasn’t traveling or teaching at Harvard University, Farmer was co-founder of Partners In Health, a nonprofit health care organization based in Boston with a sister organization, Zanmi Lasante, in Haiti.

The recipient of many awards, one of his most recent being the 2020 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, and its $1 million cash award, Farmer told the Miami Herald that his personal mission was to change the way humans think of infectious disease and address social inequalities in health care delivery.
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An unenviable hat trick

In football it is highly embarrassing, to put it mildly, when a player accidentally puts the ball into their own goal. Such ‘own goals’ are rare but they do happen.

So imagine how a player must feel when they score three own goals in a single international game. This happened to New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore in a game against the US.

Moore’s nightmare started early when she tried to stop a cross from Sophia Smith but instead redirected the ball into her own net. A minute later, Catarina Macario’s header was going wide until it glanced off Moore’s head. Her unenviable hat-trick was completed after Margaret Purce’s cross from the right wing. Moore stuck out her foot to clear the ball, but again it went horribly wrong. She was substituted four minutes later.

I found the commentator’s use of a very extended ‘g-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-a-l!’ highly irritating. He did not do it when she scored the third goal. I hope it was out of sensitivity for her, so as not to be seen as exulting in what was, after all, a mistake and not an achievement to be proud of.

Wikipedia has an origin story for the term ‘hat trick’, a term that originated in cricket but has spread nto many sports and even non-sports.

A hat-trick or hat trick is the achievement of a generally positive feat three times in a match, or another achievement based on the number three.

The term first appeared in 1858 in cricket, to describe H. H. Stephenson taking three wickets with three consecutive deliveries. Fans held a collection for Stephenson, and presented him with a hat bought with the proceeds. The term was used in print for the first time in 1865 in the Chelmsford Chronicle. The term was eventually adopted by many other sports including hockey, association football (soccer), Formula 1 racing, rugby, and water polo.

Canadian trucker protests end with whining and finger pointing

The trucker protests in Canada seem to be coming to an end as the police have moved in with force, arresting people who refused to leave and towing trucks that were blocking the streets. For reasons that are unclear to me, some protestors seem to have been taken by surprise at being thus evicted when to me the puzzlement was why it took so long. This inaction by the authorities, coupled with false assertions by protest leaders, apparently led the protestors to think that they were in the legal right and had widespread support and could dig in for the long haul. And like the January 6th protesters in the US, they now complain about how unfairly they are being treated.

When thousands of protesters against Covid restrictions arrived in Ottawa last month, it would have seemed unimaginable that they would take over parts of the Canadian capital with little resistance.

To their own disbelief, the rightwing protesters soon controlled the streets outside parliament, brazenly flouting the law in the belief nothing could or would stop them.

This weekend, however, the blockade ended in incredulity, accusations of betrayal and questions over the future of the protest movement.

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Confessions of a bitter-ender

In a recent article about going back to watching films in theaters, the author referred to people like me as ‘bitter enders’.

As you would have noticed, in the theater as soon as it is clear that a film has ended most of the people get up and head for the exits. There are a few, and I am one, who are bitter-enders who sit tight and watch the all the way through to the last credits until the projectionist turns off the machine and the lights come on. Films have increasingly large numbers of people involved and waiting for the list to end can take a few minutes. This apparently annoys some people who have to squeeze past people like me to leave.

Why do I do this? One reason is that I like to know who played the various roles, especially the minor ones. While it is true that I can always look it up later, I usually am most curious at that moment. But why do I stay after those have scrolled past? Am I really interested in who was the Best Boy or the Gaffer for the film? The answer is not really, but sometimes I like the music that is playing and sometimes there are clips that play alongside the credits and sometimes there is even a small coda scene at the very end. In the film V for Vendetta, the closing credits were accompanied by Street Fighting Man by the Rolling Stones. Why would anyone leave during that? But the main reason I stay until the end is that there is a satisfying sense of closure that comes when I feel that the film has well and truly ended and I am sure that I am not missing anything.

Clearly the streaming services feel that the credits is a dead time where they lose audiences because they cue the next item as soon as the credits begin. I have to act very quickly to select the option to watch the credits.

When I go for films with friends and family, some of them are the quick exiters and forget that I am a bitter-ender and get up immediately to leave and when they realize that I remain firmly seated, they of course resignedly sit down again.

So be warned. If you ever go to see a film with me, I will not be leaving until the lights come on.

The Trump family’s terrible week

The legal troubles keep piling up for that band of grifters, so rapidly that it is hard to keep up. It is quite extraordinary how almost everyone in the family seems to be made of the same cloth. The only people who have not been implicated in one scheme or another are the youngest daughter Tiffany (age 28) and youngest son Barron (age 15).

On Monday, Trump’s longtime firm of accountants Mazars said in a statement that they would no longer represent the Trump organization and further added that the financial statements that had been issued for the years 2011-2020 could no longer be relied upon. The Trump organization has long been accused of playing fast and loose with the valuation of his properties and this seems likely to be connected to that.
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Jordan Klepper visits the Canada trucker protesters

As part of his ongoing series of videos where he talks to those who are part of the anti-vax, right-wing, QAnon, Trump-supporting movement, he went to Ottawa in Canada and finds that the people who are blockading the city center say pretty much the same things that people who attend the Trump rallies in the US say, which is mostly nonsense veiled in rhetoric of freedom.

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Why are these young women contacting me?

Recently I have been receiving some chat messages on WhatsApp.

The first read: “Hi, Mr Robert, long time no see. How are you?”

The second read: “Hello Kevin, I’m sorry,I forgot the meeting address I gave yesterday. Can you give me a new address? I’m sorry to disturb you.”

The third read: “Why does my address book have your number, have we done business before?”

They all seemed innocuous, as if people had contacted me by mistake. Usually, when I receive what I think is an email or chat message in error, and I think it may be important to the sender or the actual intended recipient, I reply and alert them that I got it by mistake.

But these three cases had one common feature that aroused my suspicions and that is that all three senders had profile images of young East Asian women. That seemed like too much of a coincidence.
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An example of white privilege

The phrase ‘white privilege’ is often heard in discussions about race and ethnicity. In a recent post on how some people seem to be drawn to using the N-word, I linked to this cartoon by Keith Knight, in which he provides an example of what it looks like in practice.

I became curious about a parenthetical comment written in tiny letters below the last panel so I did what he suggested and did a search on the terms “25 blacks 1 white” and this was the story from 2017 that was returned.

According to CBS affiliate WCSC-TV, Michael Brown and 24 of his family and friends were at Wild Wing Cafe celebrating his cousin’s final day in Charleston, S.C., last month when the group was suddenly told to leave.

The reason? The shift manager allegedly told Brown that a white customer felt “threatened” by his party. When one of Brown’s companions started filming the exchange, the shift manager is said to have told the group to leave.

“[That] totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,” Brown told the news outlet.

WCSC-TV reports that a representative at the chain reached out to Brown to apologize and offer a free meal for the group.

That is a good indicator of a privileged mentality. It would never occur to me to inform the management of any institution that I felt uncomfortable by the mere presence of someone else, unless they were directly targeting me. To not only feel that I can complain but actually have the management ask the group to leave because of my mere discomfort is a good indicator of the privilege that some groups of people feel.

Disturbing trend in murder mysteries

As regular readers of this blog know, I am a fan of mysteries in books, films, and TV shows. I am a sucker for the genre, even though some of them leave me feeling dissatisfied at the end either because the plot is ridiculous and full of holes or because the characters behave too implausibly.

But recently I have noticed changes in the central premises of the shows. It used to be the case that the murders (and there is almost always at least one murder involved and often more) involved motives that were either financial or had some kind of love triangle in which an inconvenient spouse or lover needed to be got rid of or blackmail over a dark secret or something of that sort. The basic idea was that it almost always involved adults. But nowadays, many of the stories seem to involve minors and there is usually sexual abuse and pedophilia involved.
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Great moments in religion

A Catholic priest in Arizona has resigned after it was revealed that he had used the phrase “We baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” during the baptismal ceremonies, not only invalidating those baptisms but all the sacraments that the unbaptized people subsequently went through.

Father Andres Arango resigned from the St Gregory parish church in Phoenix earlier this month after diocese leaders discovered he had mistakenly used the phrase “we baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” for years.

His error means that countless baptisms – an irrevocable requirement for salvation in Catholic theology – will have to be performed again. And some churchgoers could find their marriages are not recognized.
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