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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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Charlie LeDuff reports reality at Times

Change of pace for readers used to HIV∫AIDS fictions

Let’s hope Altman, Broad and Wade read it

A literary gem of a story, Body Collector in Detroit Answers When Death Calls by Charlie LeDuff today (Mon Sep 18) is a nice change of pace for those readers of the New York Times who like us are tired of reading of fantasy represented as fact in the paper that coined the phrase “HIV the virus that causes AIDS.”

The most interesting fact in this gritty encounter with the actuality of existence is Mike the corpse collector’s report that “80 per cent of people die naked and 70 per cent die in the toilet.” Apparently it wasn’t just Elvis.

A tough reminder that we are all human and that old age and/or death will be upon us one way or another, however fervently we may share Woody Allen’s sentiment that “I am not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens”. We will be there perforce, and all our earthly acquisition of money and power won’t amount to half a can of baked beans, whether gained through public lies or not.

This is something which joins all of us in our humanity and as far as we are concerned it makes a pleasant reminder of that shared predicament given all the trivial, hysterical and irresponsible emotions aroused by the HIV∫AIDS debate which are so inappropriate when put in the proper context, which is this is a life or death matter for many.

Good for LeDuff. Let’s hope the story gets read and has a salutary effect of Larry Altman and also William Broad and Nicholas Wade, who seem to forgotten what they wrote in 1982 in Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science”, which described everything that is happening today in HIV?AIDS and cancer research, and ends with this comment:

Time and again, the truth has been betrayed by scientists, whether unintentionally, or for their owns ends, or because they presumed to lie on truth’s behlf. Scientific authorities deny that fraud is anything more than a passing blemish on the face of science. But only by acknowledging that fraud is endemic can the real nature of science and its servants be fully understood.”

Well, as Bacon remarked, “truth is the daughter not of authority, but time”, and much time has passed since they wrote those lines together. What is it that now prevents their older and wiser selves from seeing the truth of what they wrote as young men?

What is it that, with these well informed old hands of science sociology who presumably know of the barefaced censorship of review of the blatantly inconsistent HIV?AIDS theory by the NIAID’s director, Anthony Fauci, prevents them from recognizing that we now have the greatest fraud ever perpetrated in the history of biology, and perhaps in the history of science?
Maybe they should hobnob with Charlie LeDuff a little while, just to regain contact with the reality that they so easily observed 24 years ago.

The New York Times September 18, 2006
American Album
Body Collector in Detroit Answers When Death Calls
By CHARLIE LeDUFF

DETROIT: With all the spectacular ways to die in this dying city, the fate of a man named Allan was almost pathetic. There he lay, in a weedy lot on the notorious East Side, next to a liquor bottle, his pockets turned out.

But as it goes with such things, one man’s misery is another man’s money. The body retrievalist for the county morgue had arrived on the scene. He was happy. He sang strange little ditties. Cracked odd little jokes. Said things like: “We got plenty of room in this here van, yes sir.”

Do not judge him. A happy attitude is necessary in his profession. It keeps the mind from shattering, salts one’s sanity. Call the job dirty. Call it 14 bucks the hard way. $14 a human body, $9 an animal. He said he made $14,000 last year. He made most of it at night.

His tax forms officially read ‘body technician. Unofficially, Mike Thomas calls himself body snatcher, grim reaper, night stalker, bag man. Whatever you call it, it is one man’s life.

For Mr. Thomas, the demise of Allan was a cheerful occasion because, you see, work had been dead. There had been an odd lull in homicides, suicides and even natural passings here in one of the most violent American cities. It was the height of summer and people were supposed to be outside and killing each other, dropping dead from sunstroke, etc. Mr. Thomas wondered how he was going to feed his children the next week.

“I ain’t making nothing on these bodies,” he said on his porch, the screen door half gone. “I know that’s kind of weird to hear; I mean waiting around for somebody to die. Wishing for somebody to die. But that’s how it is. That’s how I feed my babies.

script>StartShowHide();He is happy to have the job, there are so few in Detroit. Unemployment hovers around 14 percent, more than twice the national average, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The slow death of the car industry has led to the slow death of the blue-collar Motor City and now the State of Michigan in general. About 300,000 jobs have disappeared from the state since 2000 and another 65,000 factory jobs are expected to be gone by next year. Mostly car-related jobs.

One of the few people working long hours most weeks, it seems, is Mr. Thomas.

There used to be money in Detroit. Known in the 50’s as the Paris of the Midwest, it had a population of 1.8 million, 83 percent white. It now has fewer than 900,000 and is 83 percent black. It is the poorest big city in the nation, with a third of the population living below the poverty line.

Detroit is an annual competitor for the ignominious title of Murder Capital. Last year there were 359 homicides. Halfway through this year, there were 220. There are about 10,000 unsolved homicides dating back to 1960.

Mr. Thomas, 34, subscribes to a simple theory: Unemployment leads to drugs. Drugs lead to misplaced passion. Misplaced passion leads to death. And that’s where he comes in.

“There’s 360 ways to die, and I done seen them all,” he said, dressed in black, waiting on a hot evening to be summoned to the latest body. “I seen an old lady standing dead at her stove, her purse hanging on her elbow. I done picked up the pieces of a man who stepped in front of a train. I done picked up people just around this corner, here, from my house.

People he knew. People from his neighborhood, like Steve, who Mr. Thomas said should have known better than to rob a stripper. Like a prophet on the hill, Mr. Thomas explained the meaning not of life, but of death to guys from the neighborhood congregated on the porch, who robbed the beer truck in the afternoon and so came bearing gifts.

“You see,” he begins, “80 percent of people die naked and 70 percent die in the toilet. That means most people die naked in the toilet. I can’t explain it. It’s like Elvis. But as far as the afterlife goes, I believe through what I seen that those who commit horror and sin are doomed to repeat life, which is hell.”

He is a macabre observer of the economic times. Mr. Thomas and some of his workmates say they notice some disturbing trends. By midyear, 8,559 people had died in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, and more and more, technicians see bodies remaining in the cooler longer because family members don’t come to pick them up. They attribute this to the breakdown of family values as well as the lack of financial resources of people to bury their loved ones.

According to state statistics, the vast majority of homicides occur in the predominately black city, and the preponderance of suicides occur in the mostly white suburbs.

“My theory?” Mr. Thomas offered. “White people kill themselves. Black people kill each other. Chinese people don’t die.”

“True, true,” shouted one young pilgrim, though no sighting of a white or Chinese man could be made within a 20-block radius of the porch.

Michael Thomas was born in rural Alabama in 1972 and moved with his family to Detroit a year later when Coleman A. Young was the city’s first black mayor. Like most people in the city, black, white or Arab, the Thomas family came for the factory jobs and achieved the middle-class life. Mr. Thomas grew up on the East Side, raised through his teenage years by a white stepfather, for whom he was always having to go to fists with the other black kids in the neighborhood. He is short and broad-shouldered.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Thomas was sent to prison at the age of 17 for carjacking. He served four years, kept to himself, got out safely and worked a string of hamburger jobs until his uncle connected him with the job at the morgue five years ago. He supports three children and has a fledgling rap career on the side. The autobiographical song Transporters is a neat little trick that can be found on the Web (www.myspace.com/gangstaclyde).

“One thing my stepfather taught me was the value of work,” Mr. Thomas said on his way to another scene. “A man who don’t have work don’t feel much like a man. A man without work, well, he takes the only way he can and that’s usually no good.’

A call came from the southwest side of town, with its Tudor style homes with brick and aluminum siding. A man had killed himself. He was white. Early 50’s. He had lost his job at the boat yard earlier that day, a detective said. He came home, drank himself into a depression and put a bullet in his head, the second white man to kill himself this day.

It was a sad, quiet scene on the street. The man’s family standing there silently stunned. Cans of cheap beer in their hands.

Mr. Thomas was sanguine. “We got plenty of room.”

Beautifully written, capturing reality on several levels.

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