Wednesday 29 May 2013


When reporters of the Globe& Mail investigated Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, they were told that his brother Doug Ford and his logistics manager David Price had been partners in a hash dealing enterprise. Is that the kind of news you want to hear about your mayor? Of course not. To avoid such unpleasantness in future, skip the media and ask family friend Tara Sweeney instead. She tells us that the Fords are tough, fun-loving and welcoming folk (Globe 29 May). Now isn’t that nice?

Tara doesn’t mention the video in which the Mayor appears to be smoking crack or the photo in which he appears to be drinking with two men who were later caught in a shoot-out. One of them, Muhammad Khattak, survived. Were those guys involved in anything illegal? If you want to avoid bad news, ask Khattak’s mother. She’ll tell you that her son is a very innocent kid (Metro 28 May). I am hoping someone will ask the mother of the machete attacker in London – I bet he was a very innocent kid, too. Or else why did he stay behind and wait for the police to arrest him? If that’s not innocent, I don’t know what is.

Then there are the nasty reports about Ariel Castro. The media describe him as a man who kidnapped three women and kept them imprisoned on his property. You want to hear ugly stuff like that and spoil your day? No, you don’t. So let’s go and ask Castro’s former neighbour. Castro was a nice guy, he says. He would come around and say hi. Well, that clinches it! Castro said hi. Wasn’t that nice of him? (Toronto Star, 7 May)

I don’t know about former neighbours of Sohel Rana, the owner of the building that collapsed and led to the death of more than a thousand garment workers. None of his friends or relatives has come forward to say that Rana is a nice man, so Rana himself had to speak up and tell us that he is innocent. It was the fault of the owners of the garment factories in the building forcing the workers to get inside (

There you go! If you don’t want to hear all that horrible stuff the media push on us, don’t ask reporters. They are the worst cynics. Go right to the source and ask the alleged culprit or his mom or his Facebook friends, and everything will turn out right.

You know what I personally think is really ugly? Rumours of Nigel Wright wanting to obstruct justice by writing Senator Duffy a hush-hush 90,000 Dollar cheque. So I’m warning you now. Don’t ask the media. Ask Wright’s boss, Prime Minister Harper. He tells us that Nigel did “what he felt was the right thing” (Metro 23 May). How nice of him! And in spite of that the media say harsh things about the Conservatives. Can you believe it?

But don’t despair. In future, we won’t have to deal with ugly business like that, because the police is working on preventing rather than uncovering crime. One way to do that is total surveillance. You have heard of Google’s new wizardry, Google Glass, a seamless and empowering device which allows us all to be paparazzi all the time. Isn’t that an exciting new development? But the media are already spoiling it for us by muttering darkly about loss of privacy. Don’t believe the media! Go to the source and ask Google exec Eric Schmidt. He will set you straight: If you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing, he says, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place (NYTimes May 26).

And if you don’t want to know about ugly things, don’t look for them in the first place.

Thursday 23 May 2013


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford having fun
To quote Scott Fitzgerald: the rich are different from you and me. So are politicians. And here is what makes them different.

Multiple residences. Senator Mike Duffy has two residences, a place in the city and another one in the country. So do you? Yes, but can you charge a per diem and travel expenses for whichever one is farthest from your place of work? Duffy did, until somebody clarified the rules for him. You can only charge if Ottawa isn’t your primary place of residence. Well, what can I say? Politicians have their own ideas about

Geography. For example, Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house. I bet you can’t duplicate that. Don Quayle loves California because he “practically grew up in Phoenix”. Apparently the border between California and Arizona doesn’t exist for him.  And according to, George W. Bush doesn’t go in for continents.  Africa is simply “a nation that suffers from incredible disease”.  

Politicians are also special when it comes to
Videos.  Someone made a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford doing things he shouldn’t be doing. So what? Lots of people put pictures of questionable activities on their Facebook page. Yes, but are they worth $200,000? Because that’s how much the photographers expect to get for the Ford video even though the quality stinks.  See, that’s the difference between politicians and ordinary jerks like you and me. Generally speaking, it’s best not to incriminate yourself. So stay away from

Confessions. Unless you are a politician, that is. In that case confessions might get you votes. That’s why Christine Quinn, candidate for NY mayor, confessed she once had an alcohol problem. And New Jersey governor James “Chris” Christie confessed that he had lap-band surgery. Dominique Strauss Kahn on the other hand refused to confess that he forced himself on a hotel maid. Not sure how that works. Do only politicians with the syllable “Christ” in their name benefit from a confession? Or does it have to involve a medical intervention? For, example, if Strauss Kahn had lap-band surgery somewhere further down in his lap, around the testicles or so, would confession have worked to his advantage?  

But back to Senator Duffy. The most amazing things happen to politicians, in fact, I would go as far as calling them
Miracles. When Duffy was told he had to pay back $90,000 for inappropriate expense claims, the chief of the PMO miraculously came to his help and cut him a cheque for that amount. He said he was just being friendly. Do you and I have friends like that?

The political miracles started in 1972, with Richard Nixon.  An 18 minute gap miraculously appeared on a tape in which he was talking about the Watergate break-in.
Similarly, in 2009 Carolina governor Mark Sanford hiked the Appalachian trail and miraculously disappeared. Next, he found himself miraculously in Buenos Aires, consorting with a woman friend.
Obama can only lay claim to an almost-miracle. Until 2013, his administration was miraculously scandal-free. You and I can go scandal-free all our lives, but American presidents can’t, statistically speaking.  I began to harbour suspicions about Obama. Maybe he was only pretending to be a politician. But no, he finally came up with his very own IRS and AP scandals. So the statistics are valid, and Obama is a politician.  Whew!


Monday 20 May 2013


Bixi, the company behind bike rentals is losing money. They can’t figure out why – it’s such an attractive idea, isn’t it? I agree. The idea of renting rather than owning is attractive, but bikes aren’t the right product. The guys running

Community guns have no financial problems. In fact, the business of renting out guns to fellow criminals by the day or by the week is flourishing, according to Metro (15 May).  It makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean how many cheating wives and mortal enemies are you going to kill? Two or three at most. Is that worth going through the hassle of buying a gun? Renting is definitely the better way to go. It works best in situations involving short-term or one-time use. Such as coffins. So how about

Community coffins? Unless you are into reincarnation, you need only one, and only if you are determined to impress the people at your funeral. Otherwise a body bag will do fine. Let’s face it: you yourself won’t feel the difference. But if you want to please the esthetes among your nearest and dearest, go ahead and set aside money for renting a nice solid oak casket.

Community spouses, as in wife swapping, is an old concept, but

Community children is an idea whose time has come. Children are becoming a scarce commodity in the West, so why pay a baby-sitter? Why not charge rent to prospective parents who want to get a sense of what it’s like to mind a child or who need to practice parenting skills. In fact, given the complexities of modern parenthood, couples should be required to obtain a licence. A 500-hour hands-on apprenticeship should be mandatory. In areas that are less important than child-raising or totally useless, such as the humanities, we might have

Community licences and degrees. I mean, really, how often do you use a BA with a major in English or history?  Some people frame their degree, hang it in the den, and fondly reminisce about cheating on exams and plagiarizing essays, but the majority keeps them rolled up in the back of a sock drawer. So why , not rent it out to someone who has a keener appreciation for the symbolic value of a degree and the bragging rights that go with it? Speaking of bragging, I think it would be great to have

Community reunion attendees. Rent a glib talker for the day, preferably someone good-looking and ten years younger than you. Your former class mates will be green with envy, and that’s the whole purpose of reunions, isn’t it? To make people envious of your good looks and career. You don’t think impersonation will work? It does – it totally works in my novel, PLAYING NAOMI. I also think we need

Community interpreters. No, not to translate foreign languages into English. Google has that niche covered with hilarious results. No, I mean, people who will update my English. For example, “don’t rain on my parade” is out.  “Don’t harsh my buzz” is in. Plug that into Google and what do you get? “Don’t abrade my hum.” You know what? “Don’t abrade my hum” has a certain ring to it. Let’s tweet it and start a new meme.

I could also do with a

Community namer, I mean someone with face-recognition technology. I’d love to rent an escort who can flash me the name of the person who has just greeted me so enthusiastically. She looks vaguely familiar. I might have met her at a conference, or else she’s somebody’s ex-wife, Jeannie, or Joannie, or something like that.  Help, I need a namer!

On a grander scale, we might have

Community fantasy rentals. Have you seen the production of Salome in Toronto? I suppose the soprano singing Salome was uncomfortable doing a striptease, so the Dance of the Seven Veils appeared on-screen in a dreamlike sequence created by Atom Egoyan. I think that’s a wonderful idea for overcoming embarrassing or inconvenient moments. I’d like to talk to Egoyan about creating a film-clip library to cover situations we just can’t hack. For example: instead of breaking up with your girl-friend in person or sending her a crude text, say it with a dreamlike movie clip. If she doesn’t understand metaphors, repeat. Eventually, she’ll want to break up with you. Need to fire an employee? Pink slips look great on video. Don’t like the weather outside? Watch a cloudless movie clip. That’s so lame, you say. Who would fall for that kind of fantasy?  The same people who believe they have 347 friends on Facebook. Which reminds me:

Community friends, anyone? Rent them by the hour if you feel an urgent need for a phone date or (gasp!) have descended into a full blown addiction to face time.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

QUANTIFIABLE RESULTS: Too much or too little?

The feds want the National Research Council overhauled and refocused. They want to leverage the NRC’s world-class resources (Globe&Mail, 7 May).  Say what? Can someone please translate that into English for me? Oh. They want more bang for their buck. They want quantifiable results. Preferably before the next election.

Okay. But as far as I’m concerned, I don’t need exact numbers.  Just tell me: Is it too much or not enough? For example:

Obesity: Not enough apparently. In 1998 the US National Institute of Health lowered the cut-off for a healthy body weight index from 27.8 to 25. Tweaking the numbers added 3 Million people to the ranks of the obese and 3 Million potential customers to the lists of the obesity industry. Bring on the lap bands! Get out the liposuction machines!

Gmails: Too many. But with Google’s Inactive Account Manager, you now have the option of leaving your old gmails and YouTube videos to your children! Great, don’t you think? A regular treasure trove for your heirs!

Working from home: Not enough (company, that is). That’s why people join co-working facilities (formerly known as “The office” and paid for by the employer). Now you pay for it, but it’s also a lot more fun than the old cubicles.  According to the NY Times (12 May) this new workplace is gamified and reflects today’s cafĂ© culture. Okay. As long as Starbucks doesn’t catch on to the trend and starts charging customers a fee for using its co-breathing facility.

Tragedies: Not enough. At least for Nancy Grace of Headline News. But finally it all came together for her in one fell swoop. The Seymour Ave kidnapping story and the Jodi Arias murder trial peaked on the same day. Whoo-hoo!

Traffic: Too much, but all that’s needed here is positive thinking. Say you are stuck in traffic on a highway in Florida. Suddenly a giant sink hole opens up in front of you. Now take a deep breath, think positive and say to yourself: Hey, finally we are moving.

Guns: Not enough. That’s why law student and crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson developed Liberator, a gun suitable for 3D printing. Thousands of people have visited his website, Defense Distributed. Most of his customers are from Spain, according to Metro (8 May). What’s going on over there? Have they changed the rules of bull fighting?

Brains: Not enough. But cheer up. The scientists are working on it. It won’t be long and you’ll be able to use your brain as a joy stick to control robots, surf the web, and change TV channels. Unfortunately, the technology to make war using just your brainwaves is still in the future, says Dr. Donoghue (NY Times, 5 May). Okay. So you can’t blast evil space invaders with a thought-controlled drone YET. But in the meantime, NeuroSky lets you control toy helicopters.

Okay, that’s nice. I’ll keep it in mind for the long weekend. But right now I urgently need brain waves to control the brain waves of Cody Wilson.

Sunday 12 May 2013


 I’M LOST. Night surrounds me, stalking me like a prey, waiting for me to lie down and surrender, ready to swallow me up. But fear keeps me going.  I walk on, putting one foot in front of the other, until the air turns misty gray and a sharp wind blows up and raises a cloud of dust, until the sky becomes translucent and turns purple, until the sun rises California-bright, and I see a peaked roof on the horizon.
It’s an abandoned cabin, surrounded by debris: an easy chair spilling polyester, a coffee table with splintered legs, broken patio stones in a heap, a rusting barbecue, shards of glass under a hollow-eyed window.
I walk to the front door, push it open and stand aside to let out the monsters -- spiders, scorpions, coyotes, whatever – I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been in the desert before. But nothing creeps or flutters or dashes out as the door swings back creaking on its hinges. Instead a man’s voice says:

“Don’t shoot. I’m unarmed.”

It’s a voice with a hint of Latino accent.  The possibilities flash in my brain: a felon on the run. An illegal border crosser. A madman. And the impossibilities: I can’t run away. I’m too tired, and he knows I’m here. I swallow hard, move my mouth, breathe in and out. I can’t talk. My voice has been trapped too long in my throat. I work my lips to push out an intelligible sound.

“I’m not armed either,” I say, taking one step over, risking it, showing the left half of myself to the invisible man.  Now he knows that I’m no danger to him. I’m slight, five foot two, a teenage girl.

 “I’m lost,” I say.  My mouth feels woolly.

He keeps a watchful silence. I stare into the dark space beyond the open door. I can see him now. He’s eighteen maybe, or twenty, short and stocky, with a blanket draped around his shoulders like a serape. He has a round face, half-moon eyebrows, a fleshy nose. The lower half of his face is shadowed by an incipient beard. He is unsmiling, unmoving, like someone carved in stone. Then his hands begin to stir, open and close, as if to limber up for a fight. They are large hands, capable of strangling me. Fear is swarming my brain.

“How’d you get here?” he asks.

I’ve caught him by surprise.  He expected a car engine to announce my arrival.

 “Walking,” I say. My voice sounds metallic, thinned by the fear in my throat.

He looks at me uncomprehending. No one walks in the desert.

 “Are you hiding from someone?” I ask. I am trying to keep up the conversation. We have skipped the introductions. I guess that’s because we are beyond the reach of civilization. We are in the wilderness, and neither of us is keen to let on who we are.
He looks down on the dirt floor and answers my question with a nod: yes, hiding.
We haven’t moved. We are still looking at each other from across the room. He has his back against the wall, and I am standing rooted in the doorway. Can he see that I’m afraid of him? No, my face is in the shadows. All he can see is my body silhouetted against the sunlight. He knows I’m no match for him, but he knits his brow and doesn’t relax his stance. He’s afraid, too.

“Who’re you hiding from?” I say.

            “The Migra.”

He’s afraid of being deported. He’s an illegal. A criminal. Or maybe not. I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought.  It’s not a crime like rape or murder at any rate. It’s just being in a place where you are not supposed to be. A type of misdemeanour. Or is it theft -- stealing someone else’s job?

“So what d’you want?” he says.

 I’m trying to answer, to come up with words, but I’m not used to talking.

“I’m hungry,” I say. “Do you have any food?”

            He drops his eyes. A ghost of a smile appears in the corners of his mouth, a smile of embarrassment, because I’ve asked for something he doesn’t have or doesn’t want to share with me?

“How old are you?” he says.

“Fifteen,” I say.

“You talk like a child,” he says. “I’ll get you something to eat, but then you have to go.”

He shrugs off his blanket and opens a closet door in the back wall. The door is crooked, hanging awry and scraping against the floor. I can see a few cans piled in there. He bends down and picks one and takes a can opener to it. It’s a can of baked beans. He sticks in a plastic spoon and hands it to me.

“You can have half of it,” he says. The muscles on his arm are corded. He has a worker’s rough hands.

There are bottles of water in the closet as well, and he gives me one that’s already been opened. “You can drink the rest,” he says. “That’s all I can spare.”

His voice has no ups or downs. He doesn’t want to sound inviting.  Better not talk to her, his face says.
I step into the room and accept his gift of food and drink…

I am ashamed of my manners, scraping the spoon against the sides of the can, gulping the food like a dog. It takes me only a minute to suck the water bottle dry, to eat my portion, and hand back the can reluctantly. I would have loved to eat the rest.

“Thanks,” I say.

“Now go,” he says, jerking his head in the direction of the door.

            “I’m too tired. I’ve been walking for hours. I need a rest.”

He looks away, avoiding my eyes. He doesn’t want to see my need. I know what he’s thinking. I’m lost. What if they come searching for me and find him instead?

“You can’t stay here,” he says.

“Please,” I say. “Half an hour?” My shoulders droop, and he relents…

There is no furniture in the place except a wreck of a sofa. I take off my runners and lie down on the sofa. I close my eyes, but before I can go to sleep I have to say my prayer. I call it a prayer because I use the same words every night when I go to bed and I’m afraid if I skip it even once, I’ll forget. It’s a formula I’ve worked out, an invocation of memory, a chronicle. I can’t afford to lose any part of my prayer. If I drop one syllable, it will drag down the rest, and everything will collapse and vanish, like all my other memories of the beyond.  I have to hold on to this last bit of my prenatal life. The history of life after birth doesn’t matter. That’s shared property, family history, repackaged in anecdotes and brought out every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t care about that part of my story. It has been handled so much, the fabric is soiled and frayed. It has everyone’s paw prints on it. It has been dragged through the mud of their memories and chewed to pieces. Only my prayer is left intact, and I mouth it quietly, barely moving my lips, guarding it against the stranger whose hideout I am sharing:

I was scheduled to be born in 1962, in a city 50 miles north of Saigon, but I preferred staying in limbo, and who wouldn’t, considering what was going on in Phuoc Vinh at the time. I fought hard against the call, and my would-be mother was glad of what passed for a miscarriage, a bit of clotted blood in a rag. She was on the move with all her possessions bundled on her back and a five-year old trudging beside her, silenced by exhaustion. She was glad it had turned out that way and vowed to celebrate Buddha’s 2527th birthday with special devotion, and she did, but government troops fired on the celebrants, and she was killed. 
I had another call in 1974, this time from New York. The situation was more promising. My would-be mother was set up nicely in a brownstone in Manhattan. Her family was wealthy, but she was a drug-addled teenager. I didn’t think I could handle crack, and I’m sure she, too, was glad when the pregnancy test turned out to be negative.
In 1995 the powers that be finally had enough of my recalcitrance and kicked me out. I ended up in a petri dish in California and was implanted into a thirty-eight year old housewife who decided to have one last shot at motherhood. And that’s when I was born.

I put together my prayer a long time ago, in words I brought along from the beyond. But do they even have words there? I’m no longer sure. I can’t remember. That’s why it’s important to keep reciting my story, to engrave it on my brain, so it will always be there for me, to carry me back to my pre-birth world.
I paid for fighting destiny. Fate doesn’t alter its timetable for a stubborn embryo. The growth and development of my brain was arranged eons ago, when atoms bonded into molecules and the planets started orbiting. There is no way to stop the motion and reset my brain to zero. That’s why I was born lopsided, with a ’95 body and a ‘62 brain. Later, there was some give and take between my infant body and my thirty-something brain, an exchange of essence and energy, with my brain trying to lift off and my infant body hanging on like deadweight, dragging it down, but never all the way down to its own innocent condition. My brain is still ahead of my fifteen-year old body, by ten years or so. I am a fairytale creature, half teen, half adult, fantastic, monstrous, unbelievable like a mermaid.
          My mother is tracking my life in a scrapbook. She likes cutting up time into regular squares and taking the coordinates, putting coloured dots on graphs. Everything about me that can be weighed and measured is noted down in her scrapbook. My name is on the first page, MELANIE in felt-tipped pink, wreathed with a daisy garland.  After that, no more flowery nonsense, just the facts, pounds and inches traced on a chart, a perfect time line of sitting, crawling, and first steps, but on the page marked FIRST WORD: nothing.  A blank page. I couldn’t get myself to speak. I didn’t want to shock people with the contents of my ‘62 brain spilling hot salsa, when they expected the milk of innocence. I decided to delay the business of speaking until I could reasonably be expected to talk in full sentences and say clever things.


Thursday 9 May 2013

AS YOU LIKE IT. Life tailored to your wishes (and your wallet).

Get the information you want. Porter Airlines recently offered to finance a study about the impact of increased air traffic at its Toronto hub.

Hmm, let’s see now. Would you trust a study about the impact of crack, financed by your local drug dealer? How about the stuff in “promoted tweets”? Or in Facebook’s “sponsored stories”? Hard to tell hard facts from paid facts nowadays.  So educate yourself and attend the PAID CONTENT Conference in New York, 17 May. 
For one thing, you can update your vocabulary. Remember the term “admen”?  They are now called the ATTENTION INDUSTRY. Remember infomercials? They are now called NATIVE ADVERTISING. And it’s not about profit, says Tumblr founder David Karp. Not at all. That METRIC is of no importance! (Globe & Mail, 26 April)  Oh, sorry. I totally misinterpreted the motives of the Attention Industry, but now I get it.  They are into relationships – the PERPETUAL DIGITAL RELATIONSHIP with their customers. For other buzzwords check out: content.

Get the big wedding you want without the expense normally associated with it. If that METRIC is important to you, I suggest you invite friends, colleagues, and family to a pre-wedding fundraiser (formerly known as a wedding shower). And

Get the style of bump you want. Choose between trashy and classy -- between Kim Kardashian’s in-your-face clingy outfits and Kate Middleton’s barely-there haute couture dresses. If you prefer the latter and care about THE METRIC, why not introduce a pregnancy fundraiser? The schedule will be tight, mind you. You’ll have to squeeze it in between wedding and pre-birth fund raisers (formerly known as baby showers).

Get the reputation you want. After the building collapse which killed 600 people, the Bangladesh garment industry is facing a severe crisis. They need to learn to MANAGE better (Globe & Mail, 30 April). And we are not talking about safety and building codes, silly. We are talking about MANAGING their image. I suggest reps of the Bangladesh garment industry visit the Paid Content Conference for creative ideas. Promoted tweets are an excellent option – Long and elaborate lies may be tricky, but 140 characters are a MANAGEABLE length.  You could quote Finance Minister Abdul Muhit’s explanation that the disaster was NOT REALLY SERIOUS….IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE (South China Morning Post, 4 May).

Get the food you want with Gwynneth Paltrow’s latest cookbook It’s All True, which involves cutting out coffee, bread, and alcohol. Oh wait – that IS the food I want! I may have to cut out Gwyneth Paltrow.

Sunday 5 May 2013


Here are ten questions for you:

Yes or No? You live in a place where people pay millions for a piece of cardboard measuring 2x1.5 inches.
Example: An Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $ 2.8 million at auction.

Yes or No? You have to choose between a latte and a T-shirt.
Example: Headline in the Globe & Mail, 30 April, “Shouldn’t a T-shirt cost more than a latte?”

Yes or No? You build an edifice as a concrete reminder of your existence (and pay for it out of your own pocket).
As opposed to dictators and ex-presidents who use other people’s money. See for “edifice complex”.

Yes or No? You commit sociology or search for root causes.
Example: Stephen Harper tut-tutting about Justin Trudeau’s attempt to analyze the Boston bombing.

Yes or No? You are a female journalist visiting the change room of male athletes.
And no one objects except Canada’s “National Daft Old Uncle”, Don Cherry.  

Yes or No? You write an autobiography that makes you look bad.
Example: Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska. Does this spell the end of triumphant/redemptive/inspirational autobiographies as we know them?

Yes or No? You ask yourself: How high is too high for a high-waisted skirt?
For an answer go to fashion expert Amy Verner, Globe & Mail, 4 May.

Yes or No? You need to go back to 1812 for a war fought in your country.
Example: Bicentennial celebrations in Canada, 2012.

Yes or No? You jog to keep in shape.
Unlike the women who keep in shape by walking three miles to collect water and three miles back, carrying it home in a jerry can.

Yes or No? You pay for your child to reconnect with nature.
And we aren’t talking summer camp here. We are talking “forest bathing”-- the benefits of which Japan has researched at the cost of $ 4 Million (Globe & Mail, 3 May).

Just asking.

Thursday 2 May 2013

STOCKMARKET BETS. Let the Diagnostic Manual guide you.

Hedge fund manager Vijai Mohan was looking for an instrument that would…make him a lot of money. He found it according to the Globe & Mail, 27 April. He is betting that Canada’s housing market and banking system will come apart at the seams. Apparently betting against the Canadian dollar is a popular sport among financial analysts these days, but I can think of safer bets, gentlemen.

Is there a hedge fund for marriages?  Betting on them coming apart at the seams within, say, seven years of signing the register strikes me as a solid investment. Or gun control. Wanna bet the NRA will trump the people’s will again? Or the weather. It can only get worse, right? But maybe those things are too obvious to be listed on the stock market. Let me think now – Tada! I’ve got the deal of the century for you, Mr. Mohan. Why not bet on the rise of grief and anxiety?

I know you are slapping your forehead and moaning: Why didn’t I think of that while reading the daily headlines about mass shootings, terrorism, earth quakes—

No, Mr. Mohan, I’m not talking about that old stuff. I’m talking about the new edition of the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), which has introduced something called somatic symptom disorder. What does it mean? It means you may be sick when you worry about losing your job or your girlfriend. You may be suffering from a mental illness when you grieve over the death of a loved one. If you detect any of those negative feelings, don’t wait! Make an appointment with your psychiatrist and start popping pills to overcome the symptom burden. 

But before you place your bets, Mr. Mohan, let me clarify. We may not actually experience higher levels of grief or anxiety once the DMS is out, but we’ll definitely experience more hype from the pharmaceutical industry and their hacks (oops, I meant to say key opinion leaders).

So here’s your instrument, Mr. Mohan. You can’t lose with the DMS. You don’t believe me? Read the stats, my friend. When the authors of the DSM first included Attention Deficit Disorder in their lists, the disorder tripled in the USA.  

And now the pharmaceutical industry has its eyes on any excessive and disproportionate thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Watch them include undue happiness (UH) in their next edition. They mean well, of course. For example, you might get excited about landing that dream job. DON’T. As soon as you feel any palpitation, speed-dial the psychiatrist. You need medication to relieve the symptom burden and get back to your normal joyless existence. Writing an exam and feeling the adrenaline kick in? – WHOA, pop that pill, and get your brain back to its normal idling position. Jumping up and down after winning the lottery? Think about your functional status and get a prescription that will lower your spirits from an UH high to the normal DUH.

Feeling upset after reading this info? Feeling the symptom burden of uneasiness? Oh-oh. Time to take your medication. And invest with Mr. Mohan.