February 26th, 2008

Sanity Squad podcast: Kosovo independence (and laryngitis)

The Presidential campaign has so dominated the news cycle that other important events, such as Kosovo independence, have gotten short shrift. The Sanity Squad has attempted to remedy that in its latest podcast at Blog Talk Radio. So click and listen to Dr. Sanity, Shrink, Siggy, and me discuss the implications of Kosovo’s newly declared statehood.

I said “listen,” but listening to me might take a bigger effort than usual, since I’ve had a very mild cold and about an hour before the podcast last night my voice started to go. This morning it’s about ninety percent gone. That reminded me of the fact that yes, I’ve passed this way before. So here’s a rerun (ever so slightly edited) of an older post on having laryngitis:

It’s a funny thing, laryngitis; an excellent tool for making a person feel powerless. Something most of us ordinarily take for granted––the voice––mysteriously vanishes without a word of warning. Now you hear it, now you don’t.

In this particular case, I woke up one morning (to be exact, I was awakened by a phone call), fumbled around for the receiver, and opened my mouth to say “hello,” just as I had on so many other days of my life. But alas, this time no sound emerged. I tried again, to no effect. My voice had totally and utterly disappeared.

I’ve lost my voice perhaps five times in my life, invariably after a cold. The departure of the voice always comes as a surprise, because one of the odd things about laryngitis is that it usually cannot be felt at all. The sufferer (and that may be the wrong word, because laryngitis doesn’t ordinarily involve any pain) opens his/her mouth, does whatever one usually do with the vocal cords to produce the sound known as a voice––an act that’s second nature. But nothing emerges.

And it continues to be a surprise as long as the laryngitis lasts––both to the one who has it, and to those he/she encounters. If you happen to be someone who relies on your voice for a living––a teacher, for example, or an actor––laryngitis is serious. But to the rest of us it’s not much more than a nuisance, something to weather and endure; it too shall pass.

In the meantime, it’s even good for a laugh. Real laughter, of course, isn’t possible with laryngitis; just a silent strained shaking or some sort of whistling wheeze.

This time my laryngitis had a unique feature. I discovered, while doing some housekeeping, that every time I bent over a small seal-like squeal would emerge involuntarily from my larynx, turning me into something akin to a dog’s squeeze toy. I kept forgetting about the phenomenon, and then every time I’d bend over it would happen again, and my squeak sounded so absurd to me that it would start me laughing silently, which in turn seemed so absurd to me that it would make me laugh all the more in a helpless vicious cycle.

Going out in public garnered misplaced compassion from all I met. In the market, in a store––any time I had to encounter people and talk––I was the recipient of incredible concern. The more I tried to say my voice loss was really nothing, the more dreadful and noble I sounded, and the more concern they expressed, I’ve never gotten so much sympathy for so little effort.

It occurs to me that laryngitis would be the perfect illness for a hypochondriac: minimal pain, maximal concern from others. Also quite easily faked. Not that I’d ever do that, of course.

6 Responses to “Sanity Squad podcast: Kosovo independence (and laryngitis)”

  1. nyomythus Says:

    Kosovo, you know on the one hand in a prefect world, this situation would come before the Security Counsel, but that’s apparatus would only end up crippling the innocent and rewarding the guilty just like it did in Iraq. On the surface of things, declaring independence is a dangerous precedence; who’s next Chechnya, Georgia? However, the deeper issue is that Serbia brought this upon itself. To often the international media takes Serbia and Yugoslavia synonymously; Serbian Orthodox Militias went to war to hold this Yugoslavia together, which is a very important distinction because to not make this distinction we unfairly demonize Serbians in general. These militias, instigated by Milosevic and his cartel, committed their religious cleansing in Kosovo and for this, under the Genocide convention, Serbia forfeits her rights to sovereignty of those lands, what’s theirs is theirs and what’s everyone else is theirs, too. Sorry, but no banana. In this context, the birth place of people who are 90% Albanian trumps Serbian claims to cultural and religious territories, this again should illustrate how superstition overrides the happiness and real lives of real people.

  2. Sergey Says:

    Pandora box is now open. The next moves can proceed in many tracks, but all they lead to escalation of conflict and involving into it new states and non-state actors. Balkans in the third time became Europe’s powder-magazine, and a big regional war can result. This strategical blunder of US foreign policy stems from shameful ignorance of history of Balkan wars and Serbian mentality: now all factions of this society united on anti-American basis, and militants are true national heroes. Wait for re-opening of Bosnia war, guerrilla warfare devouring all Balkans and Makedonia, Russian army marshing to Tbilisi, and so on.

  3. nyomythus Says:

    …but superstitions rule the world, proceed with grave caution.

  4. David Says:

    I’m surprised that no one made the analogy between easier divorce and easier declaration of independence.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    Those that sought to declare independence from Britain, first went through as many appeal actions as they could. It was a genuine attempt to avoid breaking away from Britain, who they saw themselves as being subjects of.

    The same can’t be said for these upstart nations recently, however. And that is probably because of the UN. It’s an artificial entity that exists to keep people at war with each other. After all, it presided over one of the longest periods of cold war and threat of absolute human annihilation that we have ever seen between two great powers.

    Iraq and Kurdistan are proof that you need American military might or some kind of military might to uphold peace and prosperity. If you aren’t strong enough to defeat your enemies militarily, then you don’t deserve your own nation or economic prosperity.

    It’s natural for Pat to not want to get involved in problems Europe created. The problem is, Europe’s problems inevitably become our problems, given how Europe likes to perpetuate war and engage in conflicts that spread to the rest of the globe. America spend decades and millions of lives to cure this problem of Europe’s. Unfortunately, Eastern Europe kind of slipped through the cracks because of Soviet Russia.

    This benefits us in some ways because Eastern European countries find more use for us than say… France or Germany. Alliances are based upon mutual interest, and there just isn’t much mutual interest with France and Germany in the mix.

    Since there’s such high unemployment in Kosovo, I would propose, as a compromise, that the United States only intervene and put Kosovo under our protection along with Afghanistan and Iraq, if Kosovo gives us 50% of their suitable male population for us to form an expeditionary army out of. They must obey our laws and learn our language and are paid from half to equal wage compared to US forces, depending upon their combat performance.

    You got to squeeze the funds out of Congress, of course, but if you expend some funds for a propaganda campaign, then Congress will find it hard to refuse providing jobs to poor people.

    This requires Americans to accept our position in the world, without shame or guilt. And that’s the hard part, not the training of recruits from Kosovo.

    This kind of thing used to be called “sepoy troops” and the British has a similar system with the Gurkhas in Nepal.

    America needs troops that will stay a long time, while Kosovo needs security and economic stimulus. We can provide both, without giving them welfare checks. And we can do it while making ourselves stronger as well.

    These alliances of mutual interest would already be in place… if it wasn’t for the Un and false hope it promises for world peace, while at the same time working under the table for perpetual war.

  6. Ben Says:

    Great. Thank you USA.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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