Reader Response #5 Gary Musisko

* Professor: Some of my earlier posts are sort of embedded in the title section.

Perhaps it’s my current exhausted state, or maybe it’s the weather or something like that, but the Kalichman article is only absurd. Only. Freire and hooks illuminated some aspects of institutions that are deliberately destructive to our students, economy, and culture. Institutions can achieve a kind of demonic sentience when the formula is just right, and the AIDS machine is not immune. Denying the connection between HIV and AIDS seems foolhardy to even laypersons like me, but the criteria for necromancy have been met; which is to say humans and money and time in their awful synergy. The Ockham’s razor explanation to all this is that people are insane, which they are. Kalichman can be outraged or sad, but this situation may call for the bar guy answer. The bar guy answer is shorthand for Ockham’s razor, so it can be called “short-shorthand.” It is the hasty, reckless simplification of something a drunken toad will never, and can never understand. If people, even in light of all the information available in our age, are choosing to abandon their treatment regimens and subsequently die, it is because they should. The bar guy invokes “Darwin,” and the conversation is “over.”

hooks should have said something like this: “Human life is but a footnote to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.” The Jonestown mass-suicide is jarring and horrible, even now, but such a nadir is effective and necessary when viewed through the lens of composition.

Gary Musisko

Reader Response #6 Gary Musisko

In “The Banking Concept of Education,” Paolo Freire examines the traditional educational structure, and proposes fundamental changes in the way teacher-student relationships are considered.

Freire’s focus is the narrative character of the classroom, where the instructor is the subject and the students are objects. The author asserts that this event–classical Western schooling–is really about the teacher, and the students are to memorize the spoken words of the teacher. It is in this way Freire compares students to receptacles which are to be filled to differing degrees by the instructor, according to his or her talent.

In this “banking” style of education, the students’ involvement in the process of education is limited to a passive role, one which Freire considers to be dehumanizing. The old form, Freire posits, is more suited for the meek and uncreative. The author identifies an overt dualism in the classroom, where the teacher is knowledgeable and the student knows nothing, to name but one among an extensive list.

I respect Freire’s potent mind, but it seems unfair to so barbarically attack the system that produced the Hadron Collider and “On the Origin of Species.” But, things change through such activism; you know, “out with the old.” Also, Freire’s article is couched in some pretty revolutionary language, so he probably knows what he is talking about. Whatever he is prescribing for the future is probably fair, so I am comforted.

The article invokes the pendulum everyone talks about, however. Power is finite, or I think it is, anyway. And I really think Paolo Freire is talking about power, here. One way to view such sweeping systemic changes is that people, heretofore subjugated, can gain (long) deserved power. That is tough to condemn, unless you are the human being who happens to hold the power today. Are those who hold power covetous and exploitive by nature, or is theirs the de facto role played by “them?” Should people who have, from the Darwinian perspective, “earned” their power be expected to willfully give it away to those who feel they deserve it by virtue of sentience alone? And what happens when the new people get the power? Do they give themselves so much credit that they believe they will break the cycle of human nature?

Freire’s message is clear where group work is concerned in this course because we have to get things done, and dictation is inefficient at best, and impossible without a viable threat to make to our compatriots. Futuristic, synergistic thinking is good for this project, so thank you, Mr. Freire. Is Paolo a man’s name? I think it is. Thank you, Freire!

Gary Musisko

Go-To Baby is the working group of Gary Musisko and Djebar Kacini. “Go-To Baby” is an organization dedicated to empowering young women with HIV/AIDS so they may lead normal lives. “The Go-To Baby Book” is the name of the pamphlet a young woman on campus who has HIV/AIDS may consult in order to directly contact support entities. The name is arguably clandestine, but necessarily so in order to minimize stigmatization.

The public health issues Go-To Baby addresses are two-fold: To reduce perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to reduce transmission rates among sexually active people in Allegheny County. The CDC in 2005 reported that an estimated 92% of AIDS cases in children under age 13 were attributed to mother-to-child transmission. Practices such as routine HIV screenings, use of antiretroviral drugs for treatment, cesarean deliveries, and avoiding breast feeding have been successful. These forms of intervention have reduced perinatal HIV transmissions to 2% from 25-30% (Center for Disease Control, 2005).These forms of intervention require resources, from money to education, and all things in between.

Our group’s focus is on young women of lower socioeconomic status in Allegheny County. Lack of socioeconomic resources is linked to riskier sexual practices; such as having sex younger and not using condoms (APA, 2014). Housing is part of the issue, as “individuals who are homeless or in unstable housing arrangements are significantly more likely to be infected with HIV” (Cullhane, Gollub, Kuhn & Shapner, 2011). Research also shows that “up to 45% of people living with HIV are unemployed” (Rabkin et al., 2004). A distinct correlation between low socioeconomic status and HIV has been consistently represented in scientific studies, as well.

Our group seeks to provide channels to upward mobility for poor young women. Go-To Baby provides direct contacts to local support organizations so that young women may stay out of desperate situations. Our brochure provides contacts at the Allegheny County welfare office, which the young women can use to secure a reliable food source. The brochure provides simple links to free credit counseling and monitoring for women to build credit and financial wherewithal. Young women who pick up a copy of the Go-To Baby book can find information on subsidized bus passes to maximize independence and adequately enable employment. Legal issues or jail can put a stop to a person’s progress, so the pamphlet includes links to the Office of the Public Defender.

Mental health issues are numerically prevalent among young people with HIV, so Go-To Baby provides local contacts like Mon Yough Community Services so the young woman with HIV can have invaluable access to a psychiatrist at no cost. Mental health issues can make it harder for the young woman with HIV to take all her HIV medication on time, and impair her ability to cope with the stresses of normal life (AIDS.gov, 2012). We also provide details of the Pfizer Helpful Answers program, through which a qualifying woman can get free psychiatric medication for a full year at a time.

The research says education is essential in reducing transmission of HIV, so we provide in the Go-Too Baby book direction on how to receive Pell grants, as well as options for child care. The internal goal is to have all the vetted contact information to these resources in one place. Our group researches the resources and finds the least bureaucratic means possible to help the woman get on track, instead of providing generic numbers into an abyss.

Our mission is not to persuade, nor is it to educate the public through our literature. Instead, our goal is to provide a modest means to stay out of poverty and desperation. In doing so, we seek to reduce the transmission of HIV as a by-product of helping young women in Allegheny County enrich their own lives.

The Wrong Tree.

The arrival of AIDS in the United States in the eighties called for political action.  According to The Journal of Health Communication in 2001, the Reagan administration saw fit to use television as the preferred medium to combat the spread of the new disease in America. The use of commercials continued through the Clinton years. Television was determined responsible for 72% of the public’s knowledge of AIDS. The message was conveyed in 30 to 60-second commercial segments, and was confined to facts about the disease. These commercials were produced under the oversight of the center for Disease Control. In considering the information provided in the Dejong report in the context of Elizabeth Pizani’s  TED talk of 2010 and the AACC Research Brief on AIDS, important omissions, or missteps come to the fore.

 

Pizani emphasizes the high degree to which homosexual men are susceptible to AIDS, yet from the Reagan through Clinton administrations, only 4% of the public service announcements targeted homosexuals. Young people have the highest rates of infection, but less than 12% of the PSAs were directed specifically to people under 21.

 

It should be noted that Pizani had the advantage of time, and therefore evolving attitudes, on her side. But the contrast of the two presentations illustrates a government that was grossly out of touch, or unwilling to confront a touchy political issue at the expense of the lives of its citizens.

 

Pizani

On the Eve of My Execution.

I quit smoking more than six months ago. I smoked for twenty years. I finished smoking on a combination of American Spirits and Winstons. I smoked electronic cigarettes for one month after I smoked my last real cigarette. Prior to smoking Winston, I smoked Camel. Before Camel it was Marlboro Reds. I had a long stint with Camel Wide Menthol, for some reason. I smoked Lucky Strike unfiltered and Pall Mall unfiltered when I was totally young, like sixteen. I started with Kool Mild, the brand my dad smoked. My dad quit smoking when I was eighteen, which put him at around 48 years old at that time. Smoking has somehow become a hallmark of the lower class, so I’m glad I quit. I can feel myself becoming the guy who smoked for 20 years and becomes a self-righteous ass six months after he quit. There never really was any choice for me. All my life has been pointed in one direction…I have finally unified all the title belts of hypocrisy.

R9: The Urban Drama

All the world is a stage, but especially the city. I sit in a place that is comfortable and familiar to me. If I were blindfolded, I’d know every sound and every voice and I’d hear the buses rumble past me and whine as they Doppler away. I hear them on Carson, suddenly way louder if someone pulls open one of the jangling old nicked-up purple doors. I am in a public place, and yet I am more habituated to this place than I am to my own little divorce apartment. By far.
The man in the window has begun his sex change transition in the way I believe is mandated by the doctors; he is dressing like a woman. His taste in clothing is conservative and he looks like Hillary from the neck down. Actually, let’s just say from the chin down, because he has Hillary neck.
There is a man behind me who I believe to be acutely mentally ill. Scratch that-I KNOW he is mentally ill because I’ve seen him for the last 100 days and he makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think he is going to “do” something, I just feel his suffering. The gentleman’s condition is untreated, and I often think I should try to talk to him and guide him to the help he critically needs. But I know how hard it is to “make” a person get treatment. It is a job for close family or professional, not strangers with their own delusions. My inner conflict over this matter falls squarely within the Urban Drama.
Some of my classmates are understandably critical of Mr. Lynch’s apparent urban favoritism, but the suburbs do not provide as many opportunities to be in close quarters with strangers. There is also a lack of compelling architecture.

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(This restroom is periodically painted over with a dark color. It is said to look like this in less than a month.)

There is an historic precedent in play when the city is the stage. Women’s Suffragists Conveyed their message in town. If your dad wanted a loan, he put on a suit and went to town. The serious court cases take place downtown.

(This photograph depicts a confrontation between a police officer and an Occupy protestor. the occupy protestor was my friend. He is gone.)

There is a saying that “justice unseen is justice undone.” It points out that whatever the magnitude of a given event, it must be witnessed by people in order to be admitted to the record. It is the Cartesian disconnect. The city is where the action is.

Gary Musisko

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Time Does Not Fly For Children.

I love pickles! I have always loved pickles, but only kosher dills. Well, now that’s not true. I like Deli Style pickles, or are they considered kosher as well? I guess I should say instead that I dislike sweet pickles. I like all pickled cucumbers except for the sweet kind. I specify cucumbers because I know some bastard will remind me about all the other things one can pickle. To me, and everyone I know for that matter, a pickle is a pickled cucumber. People who would point out other kinds of “pickles” are the type who must say, “not ALL politicians lie” when a person is making a point. That type of petty, self-indulgent devils’ advocacy should be punished by 6 years in prison. I’d say 666 years in prison, but I’m better than that. Please view the photo below.

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I feel, if this photo has not been shopped, that these pickles are rather too green. Perhaps it is an indicator of my being brought up wrong, but pickles ought not be quite so verdant. Aside from the aesthetic divergence, I have some empirical issues with such pickles. A pickle this green is usually very crunchy, which, I’ll admit, is a desirable characteristic. But it is not desirable crunchiness when it can be correlated with lack of flavor. I believe pickles this green are so because they are under-pickled. I can start my own pickle company to make my fortune, and I shall call it the Wet Cucumber Co. That way, the consumer will not be in the dark about the product they have chosen.
It is my belief that a pickle should look about like the picture below, apart from size.

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Any serious visual departure from what this photograph illustrates will fling me into a pit of lamentation.

Seven.

So, I am a gentleman who is guilty of the Seven Deadly Sins every day. meaning, I commit all of them every day. I am also guilty of beginning a sentence with the word “so.” While I’m at it, I’ll point out I unnecessarily capitalized “seven deadly sins.” I am not going to google the seven deadly sins right now, before I list them. They are: Pride, Wrath, Lust, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Greed. the Latin Mnemonic SALIGIA covers the originals: superbia, avarita, luxuria, invidious, gula, ira, acedia. Okay, that’s not the point here, although the Latin terms give insight into the original connotations of the sins.

Gandhi, a man ostensibly personally acquainted with his share of deadly sins, came up with some interesting derivatives, or expansions on the theme. Gandhi said the following were the deadly sins: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, and worship without sacrifice. All right, pretty deep. I am slothful.

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