“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” — Theodore Parker, paraphrased

It’s been a very long, eventful, tire-fire of a week, but, the older I get, the more I believe in things like karma and the law of averages. Sure, I’ve had a catastrophically unlucky life (which is what happens when you get chronic brain cancer at age 17), but there are also children born into supportive homes with massive inheritances. And I know, based on what I’ve seen in the cancer center, they’re going to implode and die at the words, “Stage 4.”

But that’s not what this essay is about. This is about starting the week in a raging inferno tire-fire of news — perhaps literally, in the case of the Amazon — a hailstorm of psychotic claims, subtext, and implications on the part of Fearless Leader (including the bizarre claim that he could be president for fourteen more years)(he’s 73 and in lousy shape; he’s going to be lucky if he’s still alive and not in a nursing home)(or stuffed and mounted in his sons’ trophy room), Disney and Sony getting into an ugly tiff that threatened the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Tomi Lahren starting a bizarre athleisure line (I say “bizarre,” because it includes — and this is true — a set of pants that you can use to hold your pistol)(perfect for everyone who’s fumbled with their iPhone, except the iPhone’s loaded).

Well, I can’t say it’s all better; King The Donald is still in power, although everyone’s starting to treat his claims with the healthy skepticism and vetting that really should’ve started with that escalator ride in 2015. Sony and Disney are still “in talks,” although the Internet rumor mill suggests they’re close to hammering out a three-film deal for Spider-Man that keeps him in the MCU (We just lost Cap and Iron Man; civilization would not survive the blow of losing Spider-Man, too), Sean Spicer has been banished to Dancing with the Stars (which is especially delightful because none of those words should be in the same paragraph with him); and Bolsonaro has decided to do something about one of the planet’s major carbon dioxide sinks being turned into a smoking lounge ( https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/world/americas/brazil-military-amazon-fire.html). Admittedly, that’s a long way from fixing the problem, but it’s like getting the Russians to come to the table for arms limitations talks (possibly the wrong metaphor given that we’re restarting the arms race, but, again, focusing on the positive); it’s a solid step in the right direction.

Oh, and David Koch died this week. As a society, we’re taught not to speak ill of the dead, to which I say, “Why not? It’s not like they can do anything about it. If they didn’t want us collectively talking behind their backs, they shouldn’t have died.” If that seems like spiteful or hurtful rhetoric, let me just remind that is exactly the rhetoric the GOP has felt safe espousing on-air about sick people. Those extremist, toxic views, BTW, were furthered by David and his vile brother, Charles, who funded the John Birch society, the Tea Party, and basically enabled the wealthiest 1% to come out from the sewers and walk in the light, instead of forcing them away from decent people and into secret groups. In particular, D. Koch and his odious brother essentially bought Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, and had them briefly installed in office, much to the disaster of the American public (and Wisconsin, especially). They worked hard to make public corruption and kleptocracy main-stream. And, like all successful human endeavors, it worked so well, the success became problematic (the erasure of the Republican Party and replacement by extreme libertarians is now so complete that the current president is rapidly dismantling the checks that hold him in place). And they successfully dismantled most major public transit initiatives, from Ohio to Arizona ( https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/climate/koch-brothers-public-transit.html). I have to wonder at the financial acumen of a brain that says, “As goes Phoenix or Cincinatti, there goes America.” Not to bash both places, but I think even locals would admit that their city governments aren’t exactly setting the national agenda. Or, they weren’t, until the Kochs got involved and offered seven-digit campaign contributions to fellate their wasteful policies (BTW, according to Rolling Stone, Koch Industries is in the top 5 biggest corporate polluters). Now, every craven con-man in the world can run for public office, propose insidious policies that give hand-outs to the energy industry, and hope for a bright, shining career (the flip side of that coin is, you can fly too close to the sun and wind up on a third-rate reality show). David and Charles didn’t directly give America Trump or Neo-Nazis, but they financed the political scene that allowed them to thrive.

And, in a development furthering the hypothesis that there are benevolent deities looking over us, Ruth Bader Ginsberg finished radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer, and was classified as No Evidence of Disease (welcome to the club, Justice Ginsberg). Representation and visibility matter to minorities, and now, the cancer survivor community has a member on the highest court in America. We haven’t fixed the world’s problems, but, for a rather gloomy start just six-ish long days ago, things are looking a little better.

Written by

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store