Monday, September 30, 2013


Our civilization is more and more dominated by omniscience.

The telegraph, and later the telephone, allowed news - especially bad news - to travel at the speed of light. Indeed, sometimes we are lucky. The worst news I have ever received came with the incredible delay of 24 hours. So I have an undeserved, extra happy day.

If you happen to be messenger of omniscience, to avoid the dreaded phone call, you will go to deliver the news face to face if possible. If the recipients are your loved ones, they will greet you with joy (before they see your face), and you will realize that you are witnessing their very last happy moments. You will remember to tell them to sit down before you start talking, but you will have forgotten to bring any sedatives.

When we have to talk with others - especially children - about the death of someone they love, we wish we could sincerely say that he has gone to Heaven. But being omniscient like gods, we cannot find comfort in the blind hopes of religion. Knowledge comes at a price, shutting out of Paradise those who acquire it.

We have no choice but to find ways to live with omniscience. If you have adopted a child, you know it is best to tell him early that he is adopted. Otherwise, some "kind" neighbour will do this, just to demonstrate his omnipotence.

Or the truth will surface after a banal medical test. These tests are another realm of omniscience. If you suspect that some unwelcome condition could develop in you or your child, you in most cases can get tested. If the result is negative, you will be reassured. If it is positive... you "at least will know".

Nothing can remain hidden. We know this and, nevertheless, still try to keep some things secret. And when, predictably, the secret gets out, we feel miserable and cannot ourselves explain why.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Letting breast cancer patients die is government policy in Bulgaria

Translating from a yesterday's report in Dnevnik daily paper:

"Cancer patient will seek asylum abroad because of genocide by the health care fund

The (Bulgarian) health care fund refused to fund the treatment of 50 cancer patients with the argument that theere is "serious deficit" in the fund's budget. Hence, Diana Borlakova who last week told her story of fighting breast cancer and Bulgarian health care system in an open letter to media, and 49 other Bulgarian women will remain without a treatment on which their lives depend. It is based on the drug Afinitor costing over EUR 3500 per month and currently the only option for Diana Borlakova and the other cancer patients...

"Government must clearly realize that it is sentencing us to death by refusing to pay a treatment that exists. Let them bring down the flags even now, let them declare national mourning and in the World Breast Cancer Awareness Month (i.e. October) let them not sing and make concerts but order a mass funeral service instead... This is genocide, and genocide dressed in government policy," the patient said. She is indignant that even Veselin Ivanov who represents patients in the board of the health care fund has voted against funding the breast cancer treatment because allegedly there was no money. She says that "no money" is not an excuse because health insurence money has been spent on other purposes...

Borlakova heard that the board discussed a proposal to fund only her treatment. "I would never accept this. I would not leave the other women behind. Why have they proposed it? Most likely to shut my mouth, because I am talking loudly," she says.

Her next step will be to write official letters to the President, Prime Minister and all ambassadors in Bulgaria. "Let the former renounce us, and the latter see whether they could take us. I am seeking a humanitarian asylum..."

"It is very difficult to struggle with the thought that you have this disease and at the same time to fight for your treatment. How many other struggles need I?" the distraught woman asks rhetorically. She says that she has not even taken sick leaves. "Here I am, at my desk, though I am returning from the hospital. Because I must work in order to pay my health insurance that someone will steal again tomorrow. And I must also provide for the salaries of the arrogant bureaucrats," she says."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First grade

Today is Sept. 15, the beginning of the school year and one of the sacred dates in Bulgarian education. My father remembers that in his childhood the date was indeed so sacred that even when Sept. 15 happened to be Sunday, teachers, kids and parents after church went to school to open the academic year. We are less strict nowadays, so because today is Sunday, summer was extended by a day and schools open tomorrow.

The video above presents the song First-grade (lyrics by Matei Stoyanov, music by Boris Karadimchev). The music and the pictures in the video are more important than the text, so I shall translate only the chorus:

We are saying loud and clear,
First grade is an awesome year!
"First" means also "best, most valued";
as first-graders we are proud!

Good luck to all first-graders (my younger son and niece included) and their families!