Well, perhaps you heard about this big, important international AIDS Conference in Toronto that finally, mercifully, came to an end.
Sure, it's pretty much a professional boondoggle -- free trip, hotel, etc, etc. Of course, the best perk was simply to bask in the warm glow of all that is AIDS -- with other like-minded drones. Also, don't forget to thank your corporate sponsors-- Pfizer, Merck, Glaxo, Gilead, Abbott -- for such great hospitality!
Anyway, if you hadn't heard of this international conference or didn't attend, well, that's okay. You're not alone. In fact, most sane people didn't know or care about it, either. The altogether atrocious AIDS
stenographer journalist, Laurie Garrett, summed it up nicely from one of the panels:
[T}here's a story in today's Globe and Mail. It's part of their package set up of this conference. The story is all basically alluding to the conference as being a total waste of time, just a bunch of glitz. Why is everybody here? Maybe that explains why there's no banners welcoming us to the city as we come to the airport, why this is the first international AIDS conference I've been to where there's no visibility, no red ribbons, nothing about AIDS on the streets. You don't see it. You'd think we'd gone to the moon. (Transcript, pg 57.)
No visibility, red ribbons, or banners? Mon dieu! The horror......the horror.....the horror.....
Umm, I hate to break it to you, Laurie, but... Nobody on the planet cares about this irrelevant jive. It most certainly is a waste of time. We wish you would simply pack up and go away!
The estimable Ms. Garrett --stenographer to the AIDS stars -- continues in glorious fashion:
The Globe and Mail has a long article that's basically one voice. It's Robert Gallo saying this conference sucks and that's why I didn't come. Why didn't they interview the organizers to find out that Gallo was insisting he could only come if he could have a plenary speech[?] (Transcript, pg 57.)
Robert Gallo? You mean Bob "Scientific Misconduct" Gallo -- the man who rediscovered the AIDS virus thru the French Postal Service? Where has he been all these years?
Well, if I may speak for the esteemed organizers and attendees, NO, Bob, you can't give a plenary speech, and NO, Bob, you shouldn't even come -- but, Yes, Bob, we agree -- the conference does suck:)
But, let's not jump to conclusions and give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, Bob just had another "family emergency" (wink, wink)
In any event, Ms. Garrett is merely begging the question: The effect -- the AIDS international conference sucks. But what is the underlying cause? Is it boring speakers? Is it too much hype? Is it that few people care about this farce anymore -- except the ones milking it?
Ahhh, my gentle readers, never fear. These probing questions and keen investigative mind are why 'ole Hank gets paid the big shekels.
Out of curiousity, I sifted thru the truly wretched conference website to identify said organizers. There were about 15 committees consisting of about 526 concerned AIDS activists/scholars on the committees. That's right -- 526. A whole lotta cooks in the Canadian kitchen, as they say. Do you really need 526 people to put on a conference?
Then, I checked out some of the health statistics on AIDS data in Canada. Bingo! -- a blockbuster finding!
So, humor me, friends, How many Canadians do you think were diagnosed with AIDS in all of 2005? Hold on to your hats, Sports Fans.
For 2005, in all of Canada, there were a grand total of.....272 Total AIDS cases.
Let me repeat that paltry, trivial figure: 272 -- in a country of 32 Million people. No wonder why the prime minister, Stephen Harper, snubbed these bozos. For you math wizards, that's an odds ratio of -- pretty goddammn low:)
So, to recapitulate:
There were more AIDS researchers, activists, lapdogs and sychopants mooching free meals in Toronto than actual AIDS cases in the preceding year!!!!!!!
But, the absolutely best part -- the creme de la creme -- the piece de resistance -- comes when old Doc Nancy Padian gets dragged from the audience to make a few meaningless comments. I quote old Nancy Pants:
What really strikes me about this is I'm shocked actually at how few people are here. Now I don't know how well this has been advertised, but to me this is such an essential thing......(Transcript pg 64).
The video then pans on the audience, and, there's maybe 3 or 4 bored guys in the seats. Again, memo to the crack organizers: Here's a good rule of thumb: if there are more panelists than audience members, that's usually bad:)
Well, I hate to break it to you AIDS do-gooders, but here on Planet Earth, we are not shocked. Frankly, we are sick of you jerks. It would be much better for humanity if next year y'all just stayed home -- or even better -- formed an international scientific bowling league...something like that. Hell, it would save Pfizer and Glaxo a lotta dough and give you some well-needed exercise to boot!
And, so my friends, the curtain drops, once again, on the international magical, mystery tour where the best and the brightest of AIDS scientists search for meaning, search for faith, and, most of all, search for viruses. I guess, a virtual cornacopia of bogus tests, condoms and toxic drugs just ain't enough to draw a crowd these days.
To close, in the rebellious 1960's, one perceptive cultural observer once asked, "What if you held a war and nobody came?"
Well, 40 years later, we ask, "What if you held an international conference on AIDS, and nobody cared?"