Dad, me, and sister Cath. Christmastime at our house, 1970
Our parents tried to instill in us a variety of traits. If they were more or less successful in that effort, it is for others to judge. But it was important, at a minimum, that they tried.
The goal of the books, podcasts and webpage is to share the family ethic. In a nutshell this was to maintain a lifelong commitment to learning and open discussion; engage in dogged searches for meaning and truth; accept individuals and their differences; reframe intractable arguments and convert them into solvable problems; incorporate lessons from history, philosophy, religion, science and the humanities into everyday discourse; and –really, it’s only life– never to take ourselves too seriously.
As kids in the 1970’s we grew up amidst tremendous societal change in response to intense and large-scale problems: cold war-nuclear holocaust, civil rights, and women’s rights, to name just three. While protests of every variety transpired in the streets, my parent’s social and family groups managed to discuss matters and share ideas [usually] without the same rancor and vitriol implicit to the bigger stage.
That family + social group spanned the political spectrum: Frannie (Mom), who as an 18-year old left home to work for the Young Christian Workers (YCW) encouraging women to unionize, stood somewhere to the “left” of Joan Baez; her brother my Uncle Tim (God rest his soul) a former Jesuit priest, held a set of political beliefs somewhere to the “right” of Genghis Khan; my Dad, Frank (for whom the webpage is named after), he did not fit into any particular schema rather he took each issue on independently.
Today’s dialogue is probably worse than that of the 1970’s and my personal belief is it is being hijacked –whether you’re in North America or Europe or Australia or the Middle East or elsewhere. Hijacked by whom? Difficult to pinpoint. My response is actually, “by what?”
The invention of the internet is something as profound for humanity as Prometheus’ discovery of fire, and over time will be just as transformative. It’s a worldwide neural network, a communal brain for the globe, and more significantly a psyche for the entire globe (see blogpost dated May 21, 2022).
As a species we have not figured out how to handle the internet and we’re being severely burnt by the new discovery: in the West the invention is controlling us and as a consequence we’re hyper-polarized and fractious and have lost contact with (a) the truth, and (b) our sensibilities; whereas in the East they (the Chinese Communist Party) are controlling it, commandeering the internet + artificial intelligence + ubiquitous surveillance + big data as a comprehensive mechanism for domination of their citizens’ every waking moment (ref: China’s “social credit system”).
I don’t have a fix for any of it. And getting back to our hometown Chicago, I don’t know how to fix that, either. Nor, in fact, has anyone has asked me to. Nevertheless, small and insignificant as I am, I would like to do my best to try. “But how?” I ask myself. “How to do something useful with however much time I have in which to try?”
I developed an idea: I’m going to use the internet, too. Thank you for joining. Hang on for the ride.
“Remembering Frank Exchanges”
Remembering Frank exchanges in a room
Got kitchen-lovely in an amber dance
Of light and ice –a golden circumstance
Predictable as laughter, soft as doom–
I drink to him who could not suffer gloom
In others lest his own supply perchance
Diminish. Wasn’t his a rascal glance
That promised laughter even from the tomb?
I feel his blessing still, a kind of grace
That helps the eye remember holding joy,
Not only in the glass but in the boy
Who winked behind that melancholy face.
A small unfairness gives my heart a stir:
He stays the same; I slip from where we were
–Chris FitzGerald; March 12, 1996
Frank Roach, MD (1925-1986), a husband and father, a Psychiatrist and VA physician, served in the US Navy during the Korean War [Panmunjong; Echo Company field hospital supporting USMC; Bronze Star with “V”]. He and Mom (Fran) fielded a rollocking household of seven kids and maintained a vibrant group of close friends, one of whom wrote this poem (see above) in remembrance of Dad after his death [lung cancer].
Fran Roach, alive and well, is seen in the photo below. She raised all seven of us and is a force of nature all her own. Classy and funny and smart and kind, strict in her own way, she’s an amazing women who raised three amazing daughters and four of us so-so sons.
PODCAST: Fixing Chicago
“IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS COMES OPPORTUNITY” (SUN-TSU)
Chicago, weighing in at 2.7 million souls, punches well above its weight as a world-renowned city of Arts and Culture, Industry, Finance, Retail, Education, Architecture, Transportation, Politics, Science, Innovation, Healthcare, Dining, Tourism, Sports, and more. It is also notorious for over a century of violence, crime, and political irregularities. Add to that decades of generally low performance within the Chicago Public Schools, the persistent scourge of a drug culture and broken families, plus Covid-19’s recent rampage across all sectors of society, and quickly our fair city teeters on the brink of chaos and failure. “Fixing Chicago” seeks to better understand —in a non-partisan manner— how we got here, and importantly, how to move forward with regard to achieving peace, restoring vitality, and reinventing ourselves, in order to lead the world once more into and through the 21st century.
Goals: Interview engaged, invested, connected citizens to identify, define Chicago’s most pressing issues and their origins; achieve a clear, sober (apolitical) narrative untangling them; articulate short, medium, and long-term civic goals that are reasonable, practical, valid.
“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.” John Stuart Mill, 1867 inaugural address at the University of St Andrews.
PODCAST: So… It’s Cancer
Two Cancer Specialists and a Graphic Design Artist Discuss Cancer
Leaving the doctor’s office it’s normal to ask your spouse or friend or Mom or daughter, “What just happened? What did he say, exactly?” or perhaps a dozen or more other questions regarding the new diagnosis. The visit to get the biopsy results went so fast. You heard, “So, it’s Cancer…” and then everything after that went blank!
This is a podcast dedicated to that moment, that feeling, that problem, and all that it entails. We’ll work through the diagnosis, the etiology, the treatment options, the team, course, prognosis, impact, quality of life, and the overall experience of being the patient and the family and to a lesser extent, of being the physician or nurse. We may not cure cancer with this podcast, but we will explain it.
Hosts: Paul Roach, MD, FACS, is a practicing Surgical Oncologist.
Peter Schelegel, MD is a practicing Medical Oncologist
Michael Riordan is a graphic design artist, owner/instructor DigitalDesign Labs. http://michaelriordan.com
Description: Each month we will work through different elements of the overall problem, “from soup to nuts” as they say, beginning at the beginning such as the the basics of what cancer is, who may be at risk, who is involved in the treatments, why treatments differ so much from one cancer to another, or even within the same type of cancer? The podcast will work through to the various possible outcomes, and quality of life.
Why? Need for physician-led podcast series that is patient centric. It helps to have a chat with your physician, only, that chat is usually short, emotional, hard to remember, and often only a beginning.