Brian Keaney

Month: March, 2012

Crackheads, drunks, more or less the same thing

In honor of the great saint, and without further commentary, I want to share perhaps the least Irish (the man with the flute excepted) – Irish related video of all time.



The final ride

Here in the Hub of the Universe and surrounding environs, there is a debate ongoing about the merits of a bill that would allow doctors to write prescriptions to kill their patients.  Not all patients and all the time, but those who are suffering from a terminal illness and wish to call it quits.

I have a tough time getting worked up about it either way.  On the one hand, I say that if you want to shuffle off this mortal coil, who am I to say you should be forced to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?  On the other hand, I know that if I saw a distraught looking man standing on the precipice ready to jump, I’d do whatever it took to stop him.


Still, these are people who are likely in great amounts of pain, and are in all likelihood going to die soon anyway.  Additionally, it’s not as if Billy Costigan will be asking his doctor, “Why don’t you just give me a bottle of scotch and a handgun to blow my fucking head off?”  Presumably their deaths would be a little more dignified than that.

Still, I am ultimately pursuaded that the state should only be sanctioning death in the rarest of rare cases, such as during a just war, or when society has no other way to protect itself.  Even in other times when a death may be morally justified, it still should not receive the approbation of the state.  If every human life has an intrinsic value, and I believe it does, then society should not be condoning any taking of it.

I was also pleased to see in the press an argument made with a philosophical flair that is all too rare in the General Court.

“I think we as a society, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, using our intellect and our ingenuity and combined energies, we define ourselves not by allowing our citizens to die with dignity but by empowering our citizens to live with dignity while they’re dying,’’ said state Representative John Rogers, Democrat of Norwood. “And in that distinction, we define ourselves as a great, humane society.”

I do appreciate Rep. Rogers’ distinction, and hope that it carries weight with his colleagues.

On a related note, some time ago I noted in this space that

I’ve often said I don’t want to die an old man in my bed.  I’d much rather go out in a blaze of glory when a bolt on the world’s fastest roller coast snaps, or by falling off a 500 foot cliff after surmounting Everest.

Little did I know that I might be on to something.  In the roller coaster scenario, I had anticipated dying in a horrific accident that would likely leave tens dead, hundreds bereaved, and thousands scarred.  It need not, however, if the coaster itself is designed to kill you.

If ever built, the Euthanasia Coaster would consist of a 12-car train capable of holding a total of 24 passengers. Riders would climb 1670 feet before dropping down an equal distance on the other side, which would result in the train traveling at 220 mph. The drop leads to the first of seven clothoid inversions which get smaller and smaller before a sharp turn returns the train to the loading platform.

For a total of 60 seconds, passengers would experience 10 g forces, enough to incite cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen supply to the brain. The first two loops are designed to be lethal, while the additional five are added for good measure.

Those on board would feel no pain, but rather experience gray out, tunnel vision, and eventually black out as they lose consciousness thanks to the speed in which they enter the coaster’s several inversions.

Fortunately, the coaster is “[m]ore of a tongue-in-cheek social statement than a serious project.”  I can only imagine the battles on Beacon Hill over permitting for that thing, but man, what a way to go.

A proud moment

A few weeks ago I was out with some friends, and met someone new.  Towards the end of the night she said that she would like to have me as a bar trivia partner since I seemed to know things about lots of different topics.  I was flattered, but cautioned her that I probably wouldn’t be a good partner as I always get hung up on the pop culture questions.

I don’t know, and nor do I care, which ball player is dating which movie star.  If it is possible to care even less, I care even less what they wore on the red carpet or where they went on vacation.  To prove my point, I explained to her that my grandmother had to explain to me who Kim Kardashian was and why she was famous, and I’m still not sure as to the latter.

What I do know about pop culture comes almost exclusively from Barstool Sports.  A few weeks ago a friend posted this video to her blog, and had effusive praise for it.


The song wasn’t bad, in a mindless teenybop sort of way, and the high school kids in the video were somewhat entertaining, but not enough for me to stick around for the entire three and a half minutes.  If I had, there’s a chance I might have noticed the credits scrolling at the end of the video, but I doubt it.  Then, today, this video appeared on the Stool, and just before I clicked away I saw the name Ashley Tisdale in the postscript. I still couldn’t tell you who Ashley Tisdale is, but I knew she was someone famous.

Making that connection was enough to pique my interest, however, and so I went to my standard first stop whenever I want to learn about a new topic, Wikipedia.  There I learned that a bunch of the biggest stars – well, Justin Beiber, his girlfriend, and a bunch of other people I’ve never heard of but who are apparently famous – all starred in the video.

I was pretty proud of myself for not recognizing any of them.  There is only so much room in my head, and the fact that it isn’t cluttered with trivial nonsense like who these kids are gives me hope that there is still some room for important information, like that the Planck length is the shortest possible distance that has any meaning.

Yep.  Good thing I still have those wisdom teeth.

Very wise

A few years ago, when starting a new job, I had to pick a primary care doctor for the purposes of my  health insurance.  The last time this situation presented itself, I literally opened up the book of doctors, put my finger down on the page, and wrote down a number.  I never saw him.  In the more recent situation I was asked to put my zip code into a website and a list of doctors near me popped up.  In the alphabetical list I saw my grandfather’s doctor appear at the top.

Being both the first name, and someone I had met a few times before and liked, I picked him.  I mentioned this to a friend, and added offhandedly that his office was within spitting distance of my apartment.  That’s great, my friend said, you can walk there.  No I can’t, I replied.  If I am going to the doctor’s, it means that I am in such bad shape that I will not be able to walk.  Someone is going to have to carry me there on a gurney.  She knew me well enough to know that I was right.

It’s been more than a decade since I have been for a physical, and even longer than that since I’ve taken any kind of medicine.  I figure that if I am sick, I will go to the doctor’s.  If not, I am not going to waste my time having someone poke and prod me only to tell me what I already know, that I am healthy.  Even when I got the flu for the first time in my life, and had a fever high enough to make me delusional, I still refused pharmaceuticals.  A couple oranges, a bottle of Irish whiskey, and I got better.

The one type of medical care I do believe in is dental.  When you go to the dentist there is a benefit to it.  Sure, they check and make sure that your teeth are in good shape – the poking and prodding a medical doctor might do – but they also clean your teeth and put a protective coating on them.  That cleaning, I believe, is worth the hour of my life and small copay it costs.

This is not to say that I always listen to what they have to tell me.  In high school my dentist told me I should get my wisdom teeth taken out.  I told her no.  She told me that at some point in the future they might start to hurt.  I told her that I would take the posibility of pain tomorrow over guaranteed pain today.  In Honolulu my dentist agreed with me.  When I moved back, my new dentist began encouraging me to take them out again.

Of my four wisdom teeth, one of them has slowly been protruding through my gum since college.  A couple times since then a piece of it has broken off, leaving behind a sharp jagged remnant.  Aside from that, I believe my strategy of letting sleeping dogs lie has merit.  There has been no pain, and I haven’t wasted a day having surgery.  Additionally, I haven’t given anyone the opportunity to take a video of me while high on the drugs they give you.  While I think David After Dentist is still the gold standard, watching this on the Stool was pretty funny as well.


I’m not all the smart to begin with.  I need all the wisdom I can get.