Tag Archives: HBO

The Prince of Denmark is Uncertain

turtle

Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark, enters the courtyard and sees Ophelia sitting by a fountain. She reads a book while warm sunshine cuts through the garden and shines a glowing light on her. Unbeknownst to the prince, Polonius, spies on them from a nearby tree. As Hamlet approaches the young Ophelia, he sees a pair of winged creatures of yellow and black stripes, chasing each other above his beloved. They drift and dash with frenetic energy, an entanglement of miniscule, winged fury. Unsure of the dangers they might pose to Ophelia, the Prince of Denmark asks her, “Two bees or not two bees?”

Act 3, Scene 4. Since the passing of poor Yorick, the young prince has taken to writing melodies to pass time in the castle. This proved to be quite fortunate, since he plans to add music to the play he is writing for his uncle and his mother. But to the recent dismay of many members of the court, he has taken to the stylings of ‘The Five Satins’ and doo wop songs popular in the 50s and 60s. Uncertain on how to finish a line in his song, “Baby, Not in the Ear,” he looks to the night sky and asks, “Doo bee doo or not doo bee doo?”

Act 4, Scene 2. Because of his erratic behavior, King Claudius, at the behest of Queen Gertrude, sent the young prince away from the palace to work at a humble town registry. He was tasked with keeping records of people in the kingdom.  Births, marriages, deaths… he saw all of life’s stages pass countless of times from his station. With the birth of Patroclus and Susanna’s first son, the new family came to the registry to proclaim the birth of young Tiberius. Unsure on how to properly put to paper the young man’s name, the prince of Denmark asked the couple, “Two Bs or not two Bs?”

Act 4, Scene 5. Unable to keep his employment due to his poor grasp of spelling and wanton soliloquies, young Hamlet decided to the United States. He was closely followed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to keep the King informed of his actions. Creating a life for himself in Pennsylvania, for the first in his life, he must now choose a proper representative for the US Senate on the 2016 elections. Hoisting the skull of poor Yorick which he brought from Denmark, he asks his old friend’s bones, “Toomey or not Toomey?” (See in 2016, it’s Toomey running against McGuinty in Pennsylvania for the Senate.)

Act 5, Scene 1. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern visited the young prince of Denmark at his home. They say Osric sent them gifts of wine and NBA 2K16, of which they wished to partake with him. The two were welcomed inside the prince’s apartment in downtown Easton (he can afford it), and they sat in front of the television. Playing the game with his two visitors, the prince chooses players for his starting lineup. He was never a fan of the Lakers, but 2016 being the last year of Mr. Bryant’s professional career, he wonders, “Kobe or not Kobe?”

Act 5, Scene 2. Tired of playing games, the young prince and his guests decided to watch the first episode of “Westworld.” A ghost predicted to him that he would someday watch this show. Everyone wouldn’t shut up about it. His beloved Ophelia recently wrote to him that it has become one of her favorite shows on television, although Laertes questions the believability of living in a “cowboy hellhole” as a dream vacation. With a few minutes of the show remaining, he can feel the urgent effects of the wine on his loins. He does not want to halt the show momentarily, but he could not enjoy it fully at his current state. The prince of Denmark asks himself, “Should I just pause it for a sec?”

(It’s election week in the US. I’d rather talk about when the smoke has cleared.)

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AIDS Cures on TV

Serial

My niece colors like a serial killer.

I saw Bill Maher interview Dr. Samir Chachoua, the doctor who is currently treating Charlie Sheen. He’s the doctor who advised him to get off his regular meds, use a treatment that he claims cures HIV (not therapy), and apparently even injected some of Sheen’s own blood to himself in order to assuage Sheen’s fears. It is a bit concerning that Bill Maher would give the doctor a media platform when prior to the interview, Charlie Sheen said in Dr. Oz’s show that his “numbers are back up” after getting on Dr. Chachoua’s treatment. Still, the booking was not much of a surprise. Bill Maher keeps giving questionable people platforms. He once talked to Sam Wurzelbacher or “Joe the Plumber” as if he was a serious person. He also basically birthed S.E. Cupp who often comes up with the most ridiculous points on issues.

But aside from the doctor’s many dubious claims on the program (“I’ve cured entire countries!,” “Sheen is HIV negative.”), I believe there’s value in the message that we shouldn’t be complicit with the status quo. We should have healthy skepticism of what’s being told as well as keep an open ear to what’s new. Is the current HIV and AIDS treatment truly the best science has to offer? Perhaps we should be looking at other options. I haven’t done much reading regarding Dr. Chachoua’s claims. But my skepticism goes both ways, to the established science which is married with corporate interests and to the unknown Dr. Chachoua. My skepticism for the doctor comes from Sheen himself. His numbers are back up. I already fear that he’s leading Sheen down the wrong path, whether the doctor knows it or not.

The many claims Dr. Chachoua put out on Bill Maher’s show paints a great picture of possibility regarding curing AIDS and other disease, but the media tries to ridicule him and his treatment based on arthritic goats. While he may indeed be a “quack,” we should not dismiss the possibility of finding cures in the least likely of places, even arthritic goats. There is value in looking at all alternatives and not just surrendering to what the established truth is. Scientists right now are looking at sloth hair clippings for new antibiotics. However, it all must be evidence and results-based. And right now, I still haven’t looked at evidence that supports the doctor’s claims.

I guess the fear here is that this will produce another Jenny McCarthy: more “experts” that would convince people to forego proven treatments to their detriment. This is generally a symptom of the mistrust against authorities, and unfortunately in many cases, people rail against scientific authority for the wrong reasons. This is why there’s a resurgence of flat earthers and creationists along with the climate change deniers. The Charlie Sheen/Dr. Chachoua HIV thing could very well be explained as a similar reaction against established scientific authority. I am hoping it leads to more creative zeal regarding the treatment of diseases, not necessarily from Dr. Chachoua who may or may not be a “quack,” but to many people in the scientific community. I’m hoping it doesn’t result in a wave of AIDS denialism. So yeah, for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about the doctor’s appearance on Bill Maher’s show.

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AIDS for Cancer

contortionist

I saw the VICE News report on new cancer treatment recently. I have to say; some things about VICE turn me off. I believe some pieces on VICE are being “edgy” just for edginess’ sake and really have no redeeming value.  But overall, VICE News is amazing. They do wonderful journalism and are not hindered by the news media’s myopic attention on issues. I’m so glad that they’re now on HBO. While the Internet is more popular than traditional media, it helps to get the show out there on TV screens for people who don’t even know what VICE is.

I remember when I was twelve and I was reading about Taxol on LIFE Magazine and how it was the miracle drug that could wipe cancer off the planet. While many cancer patients’ lives were prolonged by Taxol, it wasn’t the miracle drug that the magazine article made it out to be. People still died from many forms of cancer. Along with the lack of a reliable cure for cancer, treatment was still expensive, and the chemicals and radiation would often harm patients just as much as the cancer would.

The use of viruses to treat cancer looks very exciting. It’s heartwarming to see the patients in the documentary basically snatched from death’s door and given new hope, even new cancer-free lives. It is a shame however that much of the research still struggles to find funding. It is a shame that so much money is being spent on other useless things instead of helping find a cure to deadly diseases. There’s so much brainpower and genius wasted on products that don’t really help humanity in comparison. I don’t care much about the new Apple watch. I care more about using the AIDS virus to kill cancer cells. How about we all pool our collective intellects and resources to solving that one problem for a year? I wonder how far we could go.

While the documentary makes me feel hopeful for the future, in many ways, it depresses me as well. What have I done with my life? How come I’m not helping cure cancer? How come I’m not putting money out there for cancer research? Maybe I should start putting my money where my mouth is. We should all be invested in this. It’ll affect us one way or another.

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer years ago. She was misdiagnosed by a careless physician for months, and by the time they confirmed it was pancreatic cancer, she only had a few months to live. Perhaps if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might still be alive today. Or perhaps if more people cared about curing cancer…

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