Sunday Poem

Breaker Bar

Every now and then I get the urge to lift
the simple slender breaker bar in my hands,
snap a socket on the square pivot fitting

and go hunting for a big fat frozen bolt,
one that hasn’t budged in ages, rust bound
threads that yearn to give held fast by a split

spiral washer, a tense marriage of wedge
to pent up tension, for no reason other
than to feel the sheer unbridled joy

that comes from applying Archimedes
Law of the Lever, set to deliver
a stunning verdict proclaimed with a sharp

dry crack that travels through my hands
my arms to light up some forgotten
constellation in a dark and dusty

corner of my brain, closing a circuit
that began with the simple slender
breaker bar bequeathed but rarely wielded,

a conjure stick to summon you back to
throw your weight around, tip the scales in my
favor, balanced absurdly on the business end.

by Dave Hardin
from Epigraph, Issue II

Breaker bar

The New Essayists or the Decline of a Form?

Adam Kirsch in The New Republic:

ScreenHunter_121 Feb. 24 16.08Books of essays regularly turn up on the best-seller lists; many of their authors are stars on the radio, especially on the cult program “This American Life.” In the HBO show “Girls,” the character portrayed by Lena Dunham declared her ambition to become a writer and “the voice of my generation,” but she did not hope to write the Great American Novel: she wanted to produce a book of essays. Here as in so many of its details, “Girls” proves to be a faithful stenographer of its moment. A talented writer such as John Jeremiah Sullivan might, fifty years ago, have tried to explore his complicated feelings about the South, and about race and class in America, by writing fiction, following in the footsteps of Walker Percy and Eudora Welty. Instead he produced a book of essays, called Pulphead, on the same themes; and the book was received with the kind of serious attention and critical acclaim that were once reserved for novels.

But all is not as it seems. You do not have to read very far in the work of the new essayists to realize that the resurrection of the essay is in large measure a mirage. For while the work of writers such as David Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Davy Rothbart are described as essays—My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays, is the title of Rothbart’s new book—they have little in common with what was once meant by that term. The new essay, like the old essay, is a prose composition of medium length; but beyond that the differences are more salient than the resemblances.

More here.

Unsteady odyssey: A travel writer seeks a tonic in the world of Islamic prohibition

Barney Thompson in the Financial Times:

ScreenHunter_120 Feb. 24 16.01A few pages into The Wet and the Dry, somewhere between a Milanese bar and a Lebanese vineyard, Lawrence Osborne outlines the purpose of his “drinker’s journey” to a group of Arabs watching him work his way through a series of martinis. “I say I am taking a few months off to travel and wander, drinking my way across the Islamic world to see whether I can dry myself out,” he writes. “… I am curious to see how non-drinkers live. Perhaps they have something to teach me.”

If they do, Osborne is an unwilling pupil. Rather than experiment with Islamic prohibition, the novelist and travel writer lurches from one bout of boozing to another, from long lunches with winemakers in the Beka’a valley to the fabled bars of Beirut, to an Abu Dhabi hotel room where he wakes up fully clothed and wet through, piecing together the escapades of the previous night second-hand (“Don’t you remember passing out in the pool?”).

And so on – to a brewery in Pakistan, the nightlife of southern Thailand and the faded grandeur of the watering holes of Cairo. It’s as if Osborne has set out not so much to engage with the world of prohibition as to subvert it all by himself. The very notion of a Muslim alcoholic, he says, “gives me hope that the human race can be saved”.

More here.

What Our Brains Can Teach Us

David Eagleman in the New York Times:

23eagleman-oped-img-articleInlineAfter President Obama’s recent announcement of a plan to invigorate the study of neuroscience with what could amount to a $3 billion investment, a reasonable taxpayer might ask: Why brain science? Why now?

Here’s why. Imagine you were an alien catching sight of the Earth. Your species knows nothing about humans, let alone how to interpret the interactions of seven billion people in complex social networks. With no acquaintance with the nuances of human language or behavior, it proves impossible to decipher the secret idiom of neighborhoods and governments, the interplay of local and global culture, or the intertwining economies of nations. It just looks like pandemonium, a meaningless Babel.

So it goes with the brain. We are the aliens in that landscape, and the brain is an even more complicated cipher. It is composed of 100 billion electrically active cells called neurons, each connected to many thousands of its neighbors. Each neuron relays information in the form of miniature voltage spikes, which are then converted into chemical signals that bridge the gap to other neurons. Most neurons send these signals many times per second; if each signaling event were to make a sound as loud as a pin dropping, the cacophony from a single human head would blow out all the windows. The complexity of such a system bankrupts our language; observing the brain with our current technologies, we mostly detect an enigmatic uproar.

More here.


From Xroads:

Cakewalk2Its origins in slavery and the plantation south, the Cakewalk was the sole organized and even condoned forum for servants to mock their masters. A send-up of the rich folks in the “Big House,” the cakewalk mocked the aristocratic and grandiose mannerisms of southern high-society. Much bowing and bending were characteristic of the dance, which was more a performance than anything else. Couples lined up to form an aisle, down which each pair would take a turn at a high-stepping promenade through the others. In many instances the Cakewalk was performance, and even competition. The dance would be held at the master’s house on the plantation and he would serve as judge. The dance’s name comes from the cake that would be awarded to the winning couple.

Carnival in full effect, the cakewalk festivities turned convention on its head. The time of the dance was one in which typical order was set aside. Lowly slaves and servants were encouraged to mock the masters to whom obedience was mandated at all other times. The dancers donned fine clothes and adopted high-toned manners, and for the length of the performance they were not slaves but the stars of the show, their racial and social standing transcended. As much as the cakewalk managed to overcome these barriers temporarily, however, it reinforced them the rest of the time. Because the dance was generally sponsored and judged by the plantation owner, he became master of ceremonies, and became master of the joke as well. If the master is in on the jokes that mock him, then the jokes no longer harm his standing with the slaves. So it was with the cakewalk, which further reinforced the master’s authority in allowing him to name a winner and thus make even his symbolic overthrow an attempt to appease him and an act of his decree.

More here. (Note: At least one daily post throughout February will be devoted to African American History Month)

The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History

From Smithsonian:

First-Blood-Bernard-Bailyn-2Enter Bernard Bailyn, the greatest historian of early America alive today. Now over 90 and ensconced at Harvard for more than six decades, Bailyn has recently published another one of his epoch-making grand narrative syntheses, The Barbarous Years, casting a light on the darkness, filling in the blank canvas with what he’s gleaned from what seems like every last scrap of crumbling diary page, every surviving chattel slave receipt and ship’s passenger manifest of the living and dead, every fearful sermon about the Antichrist that survived in the blackened embers of the burned-out churches.

Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased.

More here.

The Eye of the Beholder: How Bad Data, Scrambles for Funding and Professional Bias Shape Human Trafficking Law and Policy


Dina Francesca Haynes over at The Interdisciplinary Project on Human Trafficking:

One of the most cumbersome issues stymieing anti-trafficking efforts over the past twelve years since the adoption of the Palermo Protocol and the subsequent US Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA) is that far too much of the discussion has centered on sex. Media, politicians, movies, celebrities, prosecutors, law enforcement and even academics have focused their attention almost exclusively on human trafficking for sex.

So much discussion of human trafficking now centers around sex, most audience members attending a talk or reading about human trafficking expect that sex trafficking will be the focus of discussion, even when the discussion is specifically slated to center on human trafficking into domestic servitude, for example. Because the audience has been primed by the media focus on trafficking for sex, they envision an entirely different sort of “victim” when experts talk to them about human trafficking. The audience is prepared for (and expects to hear about) sex and so other areas of human trafficking are ignored, regardless of the fact that the varieties of ways in which humans have been exploited by traffickers abound. In the United States, for example, victims of human trafficking have been forced into severely exploitative labor (domestic service, nannies, agriculture, factory work; cleaners and maintenance crews); misled about the work that would be available and then trapped by their debt and/or lack of immigration status or visa portability (teachers, welders,); adult sex workers deprived of their earnings and coerced or forced into work that they do not wish to do and children forced into sex work and other types of indentured or forced labor (hair braiding). Internationally, people are trafficked from their countries of origin to countries of destination for all of the foregoing reasons, as well types of forced and indentured labor as yet unknown in the United States (camel jockeys, massage on the beach, inherited servitude). People are also trafficked within the interior of their own countries.

In fact, the ILO estimates that 12.3 million people, possibly a majority of whom are women, are in forced labor at any given time. About one and a half million of these may be forced specifically into sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is horrific, to be sure, and must be addressed. But the foregoing figures would suggest that about thirteen percent of forced labor involves sex. Although not all exploitative labor would rise to the level of human trafficking (which requires that one be severely exploited), most forced labor arguably would. Even if more conservatively viewed, much of the world’s human trafficking market is focused on forced labor for work other than sex, while most of the discussions (and assumptions, and funding) focus on trafficking in humans for sex.

Blasphemy, Free Speech, and Rationalism


Ryan Shaffer interviews Sanal Edamaruku in The Humanist:

Sanal Edamaruku is a world-renowned author and rationalist currently facing a maximum sentence of three years in prison plus fines for criticizing the Catholic Church. As president of the Indian Rationalist Association, he is a fixture on Indian television where he provides a skeptical view about alleged miracles and paranormal claims. In 2012 Edamaruku investigated what was being called a miracle: a crucifix dripping water at Our Lady of Velankanni Church in Mumbai. He quickly discovered the dripping was actually caused by water seeping through the wall onto the crucifix. Edamaruku reported his results on TV-9 and criticized the Catholic Church for “creating” the so-called miracle and being “anti-science.” In response, the church demanded an apology and its supporters filed official complaints against Edamaruku. He was charged with violating 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code, also known as the “blasphemy law,” which prohibits “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” His lawyers are arguing that the law infringes on free speech and are requesting the courts declare the law unconstitutional. Meanwhile, he was refused bail and fled to Europe. In this interview he speaks about his work, his family, the criminal charges, and the dangers of the “blasphemy law.”

The Humanist: Tell us a little about your background.

Sanal Edamaruku: I was born in Kerala, India, and lived there until I came to Delhi in the late 1970s to study at Jawaharlal Nehru University. My parents were rationalists who came from different religious backgrounds; my father, Joseph Edamaruku, came from a Syrian Christian family. One of his uncles was a bishop. My mother, Soley Edamaruku, came from a Hindu family. Both my parents are from Edamaruku village and adopted the village name as their surname. Because they both came from religious families, the young couple faced a lot of problems and dangers when they decided to marry. The events around my birth were something like an acid test for their commitment to each other and to rationalism. When my mother was nine months pregnant, they were invited to my father’s parents’ house for the birth. They stayed there peacefully for some time. But the day my mother went into labor and my father happened to be out of the house, the family suddenly tried to force her to convert to Christianity. That night my parents made the hard decision to leave. They wandered—my mother travailing—through a rainy night not knowing where to go. I was born in the early morning hours under the open sky and rain before they could reach my maternal grandparents’ house.

Drone Pilots Are Found to Get Stress Disorders Much as Those in Combat Do

James Dao in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_120 Feb. 23 19.29In the first study of its kind, researchers with the Defense Department have found that pilots of drone aircraft experiencemental health problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as pilots of manned aircraft who are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The study affirms a growing body of research finding health hazards even for those piloting machines from bases far from actual combat zones.

“Though it might be thousands of miles from the battlefield, this work still involves tough stressors and has tough consequences for those crews,” said Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively about drones. He was not involved in the new research.

That study, by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, which analyzes health trends among military personnel, did not try to explain the sources of mental health problems among drone pilots.

But Air Force officials and independent experts have suggested several potential causes, among them witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible shift hours, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages.

More here.

Roxanne Naseem Rashedi interviews Porochista Khakpour

From the Los Angeles Review of Books:

1361131992POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR'S DEBUT NOVEL Sons and Other Flammable Objects is an award-winning dark lyrical comedy. The novel revolves around the Adams family — Darius, Lala, and Xerxes — and pays special attention to the father, Darius (who for all Persian readers will have an allegorical relation to Darius the Great, who ruled at the height of the Persian Empire), and his American-born son Xerxes. The Adamses immigrate to the United States after the Iranian Revolution. As Darius attempts to transplant his Iranian roots into Los Angeles’s soil, Xerxes tries to forget his hyphenated identity, a silent signifier for social stigma given the novel’s post-9/11 context. Eden Gardens, the apartment complex where Xerxes grows up, inverts the reference to innocent, prelapsarian human relations, re-envisioning Eden as home to “the not so fragile types like The Drug Dealer and The Sorority Girls…

Roxanne Rashedi: One of the things that struck me about Sons and Other Flammable Objects — and there were many — was the way you seamlessly shifted through varying geographic locations and temporal spaces. While the members of the Adams family are foreigners in America, they live in Los Angeles, home to one of the biggest Iranian diaspora communities in the world. I found it interesting that while there was a diverse community in the Eden Gardens complex, there was still no other Iranian family mentioned living there or in the surrounding area. Was this intentional? Or, was this a function of your own upbringing in Pasadena, removed from Los Angeles’s heavily Iranian-populated Westside and Valley?

Porochista Khakpour: Bingo — yes, I grew up quite isolated from Los Angeles’s famous Iranian diaspora. And by that I mean we were about 30­–45 minutes away depending on freeway traffic. We’d make weekend treks to Tehrangeles for Persian food and it was almost like visiting the zoo or going to Disneyland. It was another world. Back home in South Pasadena, I was the only Iranian in my grade and one of a handful of Middle Easterners in the entire school system. I was definitely friends with other immigrants, but I remember almost resenting the one or two other Iranian families in our tiny city, because it felt like we were obligated to be their friends. I wanted to write about that specific world of mine instead of writing about immigrants in a fairly homogenous immigrant enclave, which is what you always expect when reading about any immigrant or ethnic group.

More here.

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

20130212-banks-too-big-to-jail-600x-1360709012The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching­ sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated­ with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.

For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years – people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that “they make the guys on Wall Street look good.” The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.

More here.

Love and Ambition in a Cruel New World

Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times:

BookMohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” was an artful tour de force, a lapidary monologue delivered by a young Princeton-educated Pakistani that opened out to become a puzzlelike exploration of identity, and a suspenseful, post-Sept. 11 meditation on the nervous, mutually suspicious dynamic between America and the Muslim world. Mr. Hamid’s new novel, “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,” also tells a compelling story that works on two levels — in this case as a deeply moving and highly specific tale of love and ambition, and as a larger, metaphorical look at the mind-boggling social and economic changes sweeping “rising Asia.”

Set in an unnamed country that resembles Pakistan the novel chronicles the 70-odd-year-long life of an unnamed hero who journeys from an impoverished village to a sprawling city and who makes — and loses — a fortune in the water (“bottled hydration”) business. The story is couched as a kind of self-help book and told in the second person, with a protagonist referred to only as “you.” What might initially seem like a clumsy narrative technique is actually a device that allows Mr. Hamid to zoom in and out from his hero’s life, as though he were using a telephoto lens, moving in to give us up-close-and-personal glimpses of “you’s” enduring relationship with a woman he meets when they are teenagers (she is always referred to as “the pretty girl”) then moving back to show us the ways in which his entrepreneurial career mirrors that of millions of others as they become part of a new urbanized demographic that is changing the shape of the world.

More here.



“He appeared out of the glory of Hollywood, the mythos of Hollywood, the dreams of Hollywood,” recalls Ken Ross, one of Ray’s students, in Don’t Expect Too Much, Susan Ray’s fascinating documentary about the making of We Can’t Go Home Again, Nicholas Ray’s experimental feature film. “He was bigger than life,” says Ross. Richard Bock (then known as Richie) adds, “And he was cool, I mean, he was a cool guy.” Once at Harpur, Ray immediately enlisted his students in the making of We Can’t Go Home Again; a glimpse at Ray’s address book, full of stars’ names, gave some the idea that he might be their ticket to Hollywood. With his hang-loose attitude toward drugs, booze, and sex, and his receptivity to the countercultural zeitgeist, Ray related to his students on their own level, serving as a kind of scruffy Yoda –– teacher, mentor, surrogate father, and hip confessor –– to the group of kids. They coalesced into a filmmaking commune centered on the farm he rented in upstate New York.

more from Peter Winkler at the LA Review of Books here.

Ku Klux Klan

Historian Eric Foner observed:

Mississippi_ku_kluxIn effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party's infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life. To that end they worked to curb the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to keep and bear arms of blacks.[45] The Ku Klux Klan soon spread into nearly every southern state, launching a “reign of terror against Republican leaders both black and white. Those political leaders assassinated during the campaign included Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds, three members of the South Carolina legislature, and several men who served in constitutional conventions.”

Klan members adopted masks and robes that hid their identities and added to the drama of their night rides, their chosen time for attacks. Many of them operated in small towns and rural areas where people otherwise knew each other's faces, and sometimes still recognized the attackers. “The kind of thing that men are afraid or ashamed to do openly, and by day, they accomplish secretly, masked, and at night.” With this method both the high and the low could be attacked.[47] The Ku Klux Klan night riders “sometimes claimed to be ghosts of Confederate soldiers so, as they claimed, to frighten superstitious blacks. Few freedmen took such nonsense seriously.”[48] The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen's Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because these people had many roles in society. Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks. “Armed guerrilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites.” Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. “Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault.

Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant's opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.[50]In the April 1868 Georgia gubernatorial election, Columbia County cast 1,222 votes for Republican Rufus Bullock. By the November presidential election, however, Klan intimidation led to suppression of the Republican vote and only one person voted for Ulysses S. Grant.[51] Klansmen killed more than 150 African Americans in a county in Florida, and hundreds more in other counties. Freedmen's Bureau records provided a detailed recounting of Klansmen's beatings and murders of freedmen and their white allies

More here. (Note: At least one daily post throughout February will be devoted to African American History Month)

The Antonine wall


The Antonine wall, often running through suburbs and sprawl, lacks the romance of its southern cousin – and is less obviously well-preserved. (Built in turf rather than stone, the wall’s surviving trace is most frequently its accompanying ditch. Though often it’s no more than a dip in a field, it has many moments of beauty and drama at spots such as at Bar Hill and Rough Castle.) But its history is no less rich and fascinating than that of its southerly cousin’s. In the 18th century, it found itself caught up in the nascent industrial revolution. The gentry on whose lands it stood – some of whom were important antiquaries, collecting and preserving the inscribed stones that were found along it – were beginning to make serious money from coal and steel. Keppie points out that in some cases it was the same scholars who came to study the wall who also developed bright ideas about a canal that could usefully link the Forth and the Clyde: when the canal was built, it cut through parts of the wall, as did, in turn, the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway and the M9. These interventions destroyed but they also revealed.

more from Charlotte Higgins at The Guardian here.

Bitter Pill: Why medical bills are killing us

Steven Brill in Time Magazine:

Bitter1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years. Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance. Stephanie got her mother to write her a check. “You do anything you can in a situation like that,” she says. The Recchis flew to Houston, leaving Stephanie’s mother to care for their two teenage children. About a week later, Stephanie had to ask her mother for $35,000 more so Sean could begin the treatment the doctors had decided was urgent. His condition had worsened rapidly since he had arrived in Houston. He was “sweating and shaking with chills and pains,” Stephanie recalls. “He had a large mass in his chest that was … growing. He was panicked.” Nonetheless, Sean was held for about 90 minutes in a reception area, she says, because the hospital could not confirm that the check had cleared. Sean was allowed to see the doctor only after he advanced MD Anderson $7,500 from his credit card. The hospital says there was nothing unusual about how Sean was kept waiting. According to MD Anderson communications manager Julie Penne, “Asking for advance payment for services is a common, if unfortunate, situation that confronts hospitals all over the United States.”

More here.