Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I think everyone should be able to spend a quiet evening at home from time to time, making pate with a donated truffle (thank you, Nini) and watching oneself on television.

Who Do You Think You Are? 19 August, with Lisa McCune. My bit comes in at around 38:14.

And in the very next section is my chum Dr Deb Rosser, who works with the WA component of the Find & Connect Project! That was a nice surprise; I didn't realise she was taking part in this episode as well.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Too Harsh - or Too Soon?

My brother linked to my previous post on Ricochet, and I only just worked this out ...

So anyway, I went and dutifully read the comments, in light of the recent news that Robin Williams had early-stage Parkinson's, and that this may have been a factor in his decision to commit suicide.

Point One: The 'bipolar genius' crowd can just pipe down for a second. Williams appears to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder reasonably late in life - after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse. I am no clinician, but even I know that drug and alcohol abuse can lead to bipolar-style disorders. Especially cocaine, which is like dropping Alka-Seltzer into the brain. So Robin Williams' celebrated 'curse' of 'bipolar genius' may have been caused by his own freely-chosen recreational behaviours.

Point Two: Way to slap the Parkinson's groups in the face. No wonder Michael J Fox was so surprised - there's nothing like killing yourself to say to someone, 'Your life as a person with Parkinson's is so appalling, I'd rather be dead.'

Don't get me wrong. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for Williams. I thought he could be hugely funny. I also knew he could act seriously. He is in one of my favourite movies, The Fisher King. (Mind you, I'd still love this movie even if it had someone else playing Perry, because it's a Terry Gilliam movie with my kind of themes.)

It now turns out that he was also someone who spent his whole life running away from things, and/or who didn't have the kind of love in his life that gave him the courage to face the future with a long-term illness.

But I feel more sorry for his family, because they will now have to live - for the rest of their lives - with the awful trauma and damage done to a family by a suicide.

I wish people would think about this more often, rather than glamorising celebrity suicides. Try calling Lifeline instead? 13 11 14.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Not Joining the Grieving Just Yet

So I could mention a Hollywood actor who died by suicide, even though he was very talented, still had money, still had career options ahead of him, was doing OK with the alcohol issue, had no less than three wives, one of whom was still very fond of him, and three kids, all of whom were very fond of him, but who decided for reasons not entirely clear to end it all, and leave a lot of people gutted.

Or, I could mention a Hollywood actor who died of natural causes after a long, tough, productive, and interesting life, much of which was lived outside of the movie business. Because talented people who are prepared to work hard, and try other things, actually can and do find ways of getting by that don't involve public adulation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Guess who won?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Artist's Impression

Yesterday I gave my first lecture in Pharmacology 1101 (Drugs That Changed the World) at UWA for this year. The lecture was on 'Health and medicine(s) before the age of science'.

One student was so engrossed in my elegant rhetoric on shamanism, Hippocrates, Paracelsus and humoural theory, that she spent most of the lecture drawing a picture of me.

She very kindly presented this to me afterwards. And here it is.

I have removed the artist's name, just in case she fails this unit on account of not having listened to a word I said ...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Most of the contributions to the website SleeveFace are nothing short of brilliant.

I think, however, that my personal favourite will always be this one.