Thursday June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017 Full Episode Transcript

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The Current Transcript for June 15, 2017

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag them a quarter million miles out and say Look at that, you son of a bitch.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: There's more than one way to get decision makers to pay attention to the planets. Neil deGrasse Tyson is fond of that idea by a U.S. astronaut but he's up for humor for engaging with kids and for making the wonders of the universe available for people in a hurry. This internationally renowned astrophysicist says we all need to understand the facts of science at a time when the politics of science get in the way of reality. Neil deGrasse Tyson joins me in just a moment. And some may want to grab politicians by the scruff of the neck. Others are aiming for other parts of their anatomy.

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VOICE 1: Thank you, Mr. President.

VOICE 2: For getting this country ..

VOICE 3: For keeping..

VOICE 4: We now have a very strong voice.

VOICE 5: The response is fabulous around the country.

AMT: It was a scintillating spectacle of the [unintelligible] around the Cabinet table in Washington this week as sycophantic secretaries tripped over themselves with fawning praise for the president. And who better to analyze all that adoration than Terry Fallis. The man who mocks the crass in democracy is here in an hour. And also today we introduce you to a small group of men whose chronic pain has taken them in directions they never imagined.

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Might start a little story much about suicide. For all intents and purposes my life as I knew it was over.

AMT: The Men Only Chronic Pain Support Group of Montreal in half an hour. I'm Anna Maria Tremanti. This is The Current.

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Why Neil deGrasse Tyson says learning about science is more important than ever

Guest: Neil deGrasse Tyson

AMT: Neil deGrasse Tyson is a well-known astrophysicist and science educator with a knack for making complicated science interesting and digestible. His space themed radio and TV shows Cosmos and Star Talk have given him star status. He's also famous for leaving Pluto out of a model of the solar system even before it was officially scrapped from the list of planets. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. His new book is called Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and he joins me from Charlotte, North Carolina. Hello.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Hello. Thanks for having me.

AMT: Can you hear this?

[Sound: Knocking]

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yeah I don't know what it is. But I can hear it.

AMT: That's Pluto. It wants back in.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh. No [laughs]. No it's people who want Pluto back in and I think Pluto's completely happy in its reclassified state.

AMT: I just had to ask [laughs].

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [Laughs]

AMT: There is a telling sentence at the very beginning of your book chapter one could you read it for us please?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Sure. In the beginning nearly 14 billion years ago all the space and all the matter and all the energy of the known universe was contained in a volume less than one trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence.

AMT: That is a wonderful way to begin your book but how am I supposed to get my head around?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh because before that sentence before the first sentence of the first chapter is the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.

AMT: So I don't have to get my head around that.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: You're supposed to read that first before you get to this first sentence. And it should allow you to recognize that there are things we know to be true about the universe that come to us not through our five senses. Our five senses were honed you know in the plains of Africa trying to not get eaten by lions right, or whatever might have been the predator. And once we developed and invented the methods and tools of science we are probing the natural world in ways that our senses have no access. And then you discover things that simply make no sense. But that is not the measure of what is true. The measure of what is true; is does it match the observations? Is it consistent with the behavior of nature? And so this book is it is like it's a it's a curated arc of stories about the universe that personally I think are completely mind blowing. But that's the fun part about it.

AMT :And of course you'd begin at the beginning and from that comes the big bang, the original shock and awe.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: [Laughs] I mean where else to begin but in the beginning.

AMT: What about you and me right now where do we fit in the universe?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Just to ask where you fit, that implies just even pose that question, that may be you don't you think you don't fit. But you fit in every possible way that science can imagine. Just consider that you're sitting there and whether you are actively aware of it or not in one centimeter of your lower colon, lives and works more bacteria than the total number of humans who have ever been born. And so you want to know how you fit in. So some people say well I'm greater than all these other lesser life forms. Or where do I belong in the universe. I'll tell you where you belong. Relative to those bacteria, [unintelligible] you think you are. You know what you are to them? You are a dark and anaerobic vessel of fecal matter. Okay? That's all you are to them. And so how do you fit. You are keeping them alive. And you know something else, they're keeping you alive. They're responsible for your digestion down in that part of your digestive track. And so you're not above them you're not below them, you are, we are common participants in this biological vessel called your human body, in this great unfolding of the biosphere. And so yes. You fit in. You're there.

AMT: So how do you think it would change humans if we viewed ourselves in that context of being part of something much grander and bigger and all of that randomness and all of those pieces of the puzzle if we all did that, if we viewed that in our in our day to day life on Earth?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: I think it would be transformative of the individual and as a consequence the world. And because so much of the world is changing at the hands of humans, not only the extinction of other animals but the climate and other important elements that are disrupting any previous equilibrium that was there. And so the general concept here is that it's a cosmic perspective. And when you get it it's kind of like a firmware upgrade in your awareness and sense of things. So I have a quote here I'd like to read to you from Edgar Mitchell who is Apollo 14 astronaut, so of course one of the astronauts who went to the moon. Here it is: “You develop an instant global consciousness of people orientation and intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon international politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and say: Look at that you son of a bitch. Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14.” That's the perspective. Just imagine if you could ship all of Parliament all of Congress to the moon every two years just has them chill there for a while and then bring them back. Imagine how different the world would be. What's interesting is today at least in the United States the space program takes one half of one penny of your tax dollar ,and it happens to be quite visible money because people who complain say why are we spending money up there when we should be spending money down here. Then I ask them how much money do you think we're spending up there. And to a person they over estimated by at least a factor of five. And in some cases a factor of 10. So that means NASA's doing some … The visibility of every dollar they spend is huge. So I say why are you coming to this. To say that that's what you should be spending on this other problem when there's so much of the rest of the budget allocated to so many things. So it becomes an easy target for people and they're not thinking, they're not understanding, they're not embracing what kinds of benefits we derive from it. And that's an educational challenge. It's not you know beat people on the head, you train them as to how their lives have been transformed simply because of this world.

AMT: Well let's talk a little bit about the educational challenge and your own story because you are the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. How old were you when you walked through its doors for the first time?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: For the first time I was nine and I was star struck. I grew up in New York City where nobody has a relationship with the night sky. It's just nonexistent. You look up you see a tall building you don't see the sky. And if you do see the sky especially when I was growing up there was not only light pollution which persists to this day. There was air pollution because every residence had an incinerator where they burn their own garbage. And so I don't even know the sky is there. So that visit showed me the universe as I had never, not only had never seen it, as I had never imagined it.

AMT: And that sent you on your own path to where you are today.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yes. I am the director of the very place that shaped what I would become. By the way I out that that creates an extra level of a combination of urgency and commitment. When I see kids walk through the front door I say I have to make sure that I'm at least as influential on them as the scientists and educators were on me when I first came through those front doors.

AMT: So how much of an appetite is there? How much respect does science getting at the moment?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: How much appetite is there? I think it's huge. And I didn't previously think that this is an emergent fact. And the appetite comes about because I think as adults, since we've all had our curiosity beaten out of us, that I think we all retained a little bit of it. Even if it got lost within us even if the flame has dimmed to an ember, it's still there. And what I have found is I can talk to people about what role science plays in our lives what it is and how and why it works and how it can be transformative. And I see people's eyes light up and it's as though I'm fanning the ember and the ember burns a little brighter and then it ignites. And at the ignition point they say, “Wow I never knew that.” And then they run away and then watch documentaries and buy books and go to the library. And they they're their curiosities reinvigorated as an adult. I think that's there. And I'm not I'm not the only data source that can cite this. There's a website a Facebook page called IFLS. I frickin love science, okay? That has 30 to 40 million followers. The number one show on television for so many years and I think it still is the big bang theory, a sitcom. Now though they be caricatures of scientists and engineers, nonetheless it's a window into the lives of highly smart, highly geeky people. Just think about it 30 years ago. “I have an idea for a TV show. It'll have scientists and they'll tell science jokes and you won't necessarily understand the joke and they will talk about their geeky social lives”. They will say, “Next. We need a police drama we need the next Doctor drama’.

AMT: [Laughs]

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So I think the appetite is real.

AMT: Well it's interesting at a time when science doesn't appear to get respect on major issues such as climate change.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: For me, that's an educational matter because I think you can get people excited about what science can do. But when people find that there is a scientific result that conflicts with their cultural, religious or political philosophies Many people don't understand that when you have an emergent objectively establish truth by the methods and tools of science you do not have the luxury of standing in denial of it, because it is true whether or not you believe in it. And that appears to be a missing cog in the educational wheel.

AMT: This is where the politics does come in.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Exactly. Politics comes in. Once you recognize what is scientifically objectively true, and now you figure out what to do with it. Okay humans are warming the world with an increased carbon footprint. What do you do? That's where the politics should be.

AMT: Well it's almost like that's where the policies that politics is supposed to create come in but politics gets mired in that…Well I'll use the phrase alternative fact, right? The reality is that the science shows demand some kind of action as you point out but if you have a vested interest in not taking that action you use politics against it.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Here's what I would rather happen there. If you have a vested interest in not taking that action then be honest and say, “Okay, scientists I hear you. We're warming the planet. Sea levels are rising and it will jeopardize various low lying nations in the South Pacific and it will destabilize other nations, because it will create refugees and it will interfere with the food supply in ways that we cannot yet predict. And I just don't care. I only care about my own self-interest”. You know that would at least be an honest posture and then we can say, “Okay, I don't like you because you don't care about other people? But at no time in what I just said and what I just uttered is their denial of an objective truth.

AMT: So let me ask you what effect does having President Trump on the White House have on science and how it's viewed?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Everyone is focused on Trump I think because he's an easy target because he's the president and somehow people are forgetting that 60 million people voted for him. So you could bash him on the head and remove him from office. But how about the 60 million people who voted for him in a democracy? So there's the matter of the urges and the wishes and the desires of those 60 million people that feel sure that he is serving their needs. Okay? So I'm an educator so my task is to go to those 60 million people and say all right the policies that the person you elected and let these consequences and not all of these consequences are in your long term interest they may sound like they're in your short term interest but they're not in your long term interest. Here's why. If science is denied as a foundation for this decision that has consequences. Here's why. So if you do not have an educated electorate you do not have an informed democracy. So it's not so much that you have a trump in the White House is that you have 60 million people who voted for Trump. As an educator, that's what I focus on.

AMT: And you know we're talking at a time when space exploration is almost renewed. We see what Elon Musk wants to do. We hear people talking about wanting to go to Mars. What's your vision for the future? How will we explore and maybe inhabit space? What do you imagine happening?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: People mistakenly think that Elon Musk and SpaceX are going to lead the next generation of space explorers. That's just false. Well history shows that that's simply not how it will work. There is no business model for Elon Musk to send humans to Mars first. Think about how that meeting sounds right. He's got venture capitalists in the room. He says I have an idea. I'm going to send humans to Mars. And they ask how much will it cost. I don't know, possibly a trillion dollars. But a lot. Okay. What are the risks? Will people die? Well yes. Risk of very high people will probably die. What is the return on investment? I have no idea, probably nothing. Okay. That's a five minute meeting. It's not going to happen unless Elon Musk and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos get together and say let's pool our money and just do this because we want to do it. Well then it's a vanity project and I don't have a problem with that but don't report on this as though it is a new business frontier being opened, because that's just not what's going on in that first trip.

AMT: We need governments for that.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Exactly. This is just how history shows and history matters here. Unless you want to believe you are a fundamentally different kind of human being living today in the 21st century, humans have all the same motives and all the same loves and hates. And we are behind what gets funded. So what has happened the first European to the New World was Christopher Columbus, not including whatever the Vikings might have done. Who pays for that? Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand pay for that trip. Spain pays for this trip. They had monies from some private investors but that was about to leave the country made that a motive. And then once he came back and reported, “Okay, the Earth did not end its curved, took this long, here are the trade winds”, then the Dutch East India Trading Company followed. Then you had you set up trade routes. So no, Elon Musk is not going to be the first to Mars. Here's the closest scenario that could be that NASA… Countries or some consortium of countries say China says we're going to Mars, for whatever reason geopolitical militaristic whatever. We don't have a space ship to do that. Oh Elon Musk happens to have one on the shelf. So then Elon Musk gets paid to either build the first space ship to Mars or to use the one he perhaps was already building for this business case. So now the money that sends his spacecraft to Mars is not his own it is tax based money.

AMT: And when it does happen, what's your vision of that future?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: So I think the first trillionaire will be the person who first mines asteroids. I think we might one day go really far in the future a terraform Mars would be fun to redirect some comments to have them slant. Once we decide Mars doesn't have life or never had life or had with it once it's been studied scientifically we'd say okay, now let's turn Mars into earth why not. We're running out of space on Earth. So let's last through a comet have it slam into Mars. Increase the water supply that's there maybe seed it with microbes that would generate oxygen that would be kind of fun. What else might we do have it set up a colony on the moon and have not a permanent colony but just a visitor's colony. So it'll be like a vacation outpost. You'd go to the moon and drink in that cosmic perspective that Edgar Mitchell had tried to share with us. If the cost of access to space drops significantly as Elon Musk wants it to, and that's a major goal of his, then other ideas that previously were not affordable might come into play for what you might do in space. The fun part about it is I don't know that I'm creative enough to come up with what might be the first round of creative ideas people get, if they know they can go into space for something highly competitive and affordable.

AMT: As soon as we realize what's possible we can think about what else might be possible, correct? Well thank you for all your work. Well thanks for talking to me today.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Uhmm.

AMT: Neil deGrasse Tyson astrophysicist and director of the world renowned Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. His book is called Astrophysics For People In A Hurry. He joined us from Charlotte, North Carolina. The CBC News is next and then finding comfort and strength in numbers.

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Anaesthesiologist tried to control the pain with medication and that didn't work. So basically I live with crusading pain all day every day.

AMT: We will hear from four men whose lives have been slowed by pain and how a man only support group is providing much needed relief. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio 1 Sirius XM Online on cbc.ca/the current and on your radio app.

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How this men-only support group helps sufferers struggling with chronic pain and stigma

AMT: Hello. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

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AMT: Still to come. They go by many names Butt Kissers, Yes Men. Yes People. Sycophants. They are the people who act extra nice to gain an advantage by saying things such as this;

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On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President we thank you for the opportunity and blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda.

AMT: That is White House chief of staff Reince Priebus praising the vision of his Commander in Chief Donald Trump. We will dissect Monday's unusual U.S. cabinet meeting and ask what it says about the Trump presidency, in half an hour. But first, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your pain.

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VOICE 1: I have tried Morphine, Codeine, Marijuana, Methadone, Neurontin, Dilaudid, Oxymoron…

VOICE 2: Tylenol, Aleve, Lyrical, Naproxin, several more that I can not name.

VOICE 3: Opioids, Lyrica, I am at a point now where I am just taking Aleve or taking Advil.

AMT: The men you just heard live with chronic pain. Despite the medications and the other treatments they continue to experience sometimes excruciating pain. It's estimated that one in five Canadians lives with chronic pain and the physical and psychological effects can be debilitating. Richard Hovey calls this a life penciled in.

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So you pencil in your activities or your life or your identity. Then you have to erase. Remember the old pencil you would erase, and then you start to wear off the paper to the point where it's almost transparent and then it rips and tears. I mean it's an interesting metaphor to describe life with pain that you're still trying to get down onto paper what your life should be. But it's constantly being erased to worn down.

AMT: Richard Hovey not only lives with chronic pain he's a chronic pain researcher in the faculty of Dentistry at McGill University. He also belongs to The Chronic Pain Support Group of Montreal which has just run a pilot project group for men only. The hope is that the men will bond over shared experiences and find some relief in their dark times. New research in the US has found a dramatic increase in suicides among men over the age of 50. The factors are complex but chronic pain is to consider is considered to be one of the main factors. And as we've discussed here on The Current in the past couple of weeks comfort doesn't come easily for those who live with pain. So our producer in Montreal Susan McKenzie brought together four men from that support group to talk about their experiences of living a life penciled in. Here they are.

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VOICE 1: My name is Richard Hovey and my pain is a result of a cycling accident which ended up causing lower back pain and severe pain down into my foot and I have this radiating pain and burning pains to my foot for close to three years now.

VOICE 2: Hi my name is Eugene Feig. I have a condition called cervical myelopathy which was caused. By a fall which I was holding my daughter who was 18 months old at the time and I was falling forward tripped on ice. Today my daughter is graduating in electrical engineering at 21.

VOICE 3: I'm Shane Conway. I live with a diverse type of pain it's caused by compression of my L4 and L5 in my lower back. When I don't have a sore back. I have sort of like pins and needles that could be but more like a hot pain if anybody is familiar with the hot pain. It would be anywhere on my body from head down to my toes. Often the most painful is in between the toes.

VOICE 4: Hi my name is James Tellier. I've been living with chronic pain for almost seven years now. Re-edits starts in my scrotum and radiates through my lower back and down my right leg. It's undiagnosed.

VOICE 2: I have had let's see itchy burning pins and needles spasms radiating from my arms legs and my neck and shoulder blades. My pain never goes below a 6 out of 10 for the last 21 years. The anesthesiologist tried to control the pain with medication and that didn't work. So basically I live with chronic pain, excruciating pain all day every day.

VOICE 3: Then I have a sore back and totally limited I can't do anything I can't lift anything. My mobility is extremely limited and when I have the, what I call the zaps they can come at any time and they're quite perturbing and they can be shocking to those around me because I end up screaming yelling sometimes. There's a depression that comes with that because I think that what happens with a lot of men when they and I'm speaking personally for myself but I don't think I'm unique is that we focus most of our lives on our family and our occupations. And so what happens when you get into a situation like men living with pain is you've had that perspective for myself anyway, where I've put these things to be done later because I now have to focus on you know paying the mortgage getting the kids through school. And so when this happens to me these pain things, it's a shattering situation because you've heard all this sort of imaging in your brain about how you're going to unfold your life as you become more available and when it doesn't happen it's a bit shattering, everything sort of falls apart. And you can see in the broken image of shattered mirror all these different fragments no longer making one piece of a picture. So that's what happened for me is that my life became very fragmented. It was a moment to moment because I didn't know how I would make it through that day or make it through what's going to happen tomorrow. What are my dreams how can I do those things.

VOICE 1: Well what I learned through my pain experience and being around these gentlemen is that you know your perception of self-changes quite dramatically and that's the hardest part. The pain itself is not necessarily the worst part. It's what it does to your life so you look at pain being a part of your body. It's the suffering of loss of identity, work, friendships, socializing all these things that really are the ones that we need to work towards. So I remember my experience. I went from being a very active outgoing person, love my job love what it's doing. And also only within a course of hours I could barely get out of bed. I spent so much time in health care and I still had expectations that I could come back and do what I was doing before but virtually my life became penciled in. So with all good intentions I would say to people yes I'll meet you there I'll do that and I'd have to cancel last minute. And what happens with that is that people don't really understand that. And eventually you stop getting contacted and you get less and less socializing. And so you can't control it. So we understand that among ourselves that it's perfectly legitimate to know it's the unpredictability of it. And so what we're trying to do is to support each other as one to create that understanding but also to educate people outside that it's nothing beyond that we can control. You know, my pain moderates my activities and for the most part I win, but frequently enough occasionally enough the pain wins.

VOICE 4: Not really sure if I have completely embraced my new situation with chronic pain but and I definitely still practice some avoidance which is not healthy at all. I agree that you should that I should stay active. People with chronic pain should stay active. I do try to do that but I am very much discouraged when I try to put forth an effort for many things now that I took for granted. I practice a lot of avoidance. I feel sorry for myself, sometimes. And I've definitely had a hard time moving forward and accepting or becoming and embracing my new self. So I think that I still have a long way to go. I'm definitely I'm definitely still feeling the pain and not quite past it. So I suffer psychologically and emotionally quite a bit as a result. I try to stay upbeat that effort is significant because it can get pretty dark. I have to be very very careful about that, and so far so good.

VOICE 1: Well I mean certainly is the dark side to chronic pain and the contemplation of suicide I guess has always been in the distance. And unfortunately I've had to close family members in my life commit suicide and I realize the devastation it causes to people. You leave them wounded forever. And I think having that experience not only made me more sensitive to you know trying to do something for other people who may be lost, but also you know to you know look at a lot of these trials and these things we go through as Eugene referred to as a gift. And the gift of pain for me I was talking about this last week to some people is that if I hadn't had my own pain experience and interesting enough I was doing pain research before my accident. I never really truly understood what it was to have chronic pain. I understood it theoretically I understood empathetically I didn't understand it. I had no clue.

VOICE 2: Mine touches a little story about suicide. I had this operation they where they tried to stabilize my spinal cord. I came out of this operation. I had no feelings in my legs or arms. For all intents and purposes my life was as I knew it was over. I went into a spiral depression where I went into a room and I don't want to come out, I did not want to see anybody, associate with anybody. I just wanted to sit there and die. My daughter comes in and asks me to help her with her homework. Again I blew her off. She was very persistent. So anyways, okay, I'm going to help her. And I did. I mean she did all the work I like basically was there to support her. A couple of days later she comes beaming into the room again I'm feeling sorry for myself I'm not talking to anybody. I'm in a state of isolation. She comes in and shows me we got an A. So from that point on I went from my lowest point to my highest point. Like that. The situation just gets so horrible and so overwhelming that you seriously have no exit out, okay? And my daughter I can honestly say saved my life.

VOICE 3: It's when you're in those dark dark days when all you can see and all you can feel is pain that that's when people really need to be reached out to. And one of my biggest struggles early on was that I was reaching out and not finding anything to grab hold of. When you're in a real dark place and you don't see how you're going to shift your paradigms or how you're going to be able to carry on or how you can in some cases continue a relationship with your significant other. And so it's it challenges everything when you have a real serious injury and that it sort of touches every aspect of your life. So I can say that it's definitely crossed my mind. I don't think I would ever get to the point where I would act on it. But the idea of ending this kind of suffering and pain, that I pretty much realize now will only probably get worse as I get older and my mobility will probably become severely sacrificed. But it's a challenge because in our life to be successful we are sort of given the idea that it comes with bounty and all these good things. And you know a real quality of life does not necessarily involve suffering. I've got to the point where I now know that that might not be true and it might not even be a healthy attitude but at this point I have so many things to look forward to and I'm grateful for that.

VOICCE 4: I have not reached the point of hopelessness yet. I try very hard not to get there. And so far so good. I hope to go through this life for several more decades and I have a feeling that it might be painful and maybe painful until the day I die but I want as many of those days as possible. And I can't think of anything that's more important to my emotional well-being than a support group.

VOICE 2: Running a support group. I can tell you that men are not forthcoming in sharing their feelings sharing… I mean they're supposed to be a strong part of our society. And when a man loses his ability to create he loses his identity. Men tend to seclude themselves whereas this particular this idea this concept will stop them from doing that. Because secluding yourself is not going to solve, it's going to create more problems. And of course there's no solutions when you're secluding yourself.

VOICE 1: Support group does a lot of things and I think the opportunity for people to come together is an opportunity to make friends and again the judgment part is tough on us. I mean there's a fair amount of stigma that goes along with living with chronic pain especially with the opiate debates that are going on. I mean you know the generalization that everybody is claiming they're in pain just to get drugs is unfair and incorrect. And I think it's very careful because you know pain for most of us is invisible. I mean if you look at us you'd say you know walking down the street you would know that. But you know on the other hand there are easy ways for people at work for example not just on my case but in other people's cases going well you look fine. Are you over that yet? It's on your head. Are you trying hard enough to get through this and actually just it's upsetting. And it also doesn't help us to go on with our lives and to try to read… Not just to manage or our pain but to learn to live well with it. So that's what the group does that helps us with that.

VOICE 2: It starts off with pain dominant but it does mean once the initial pain, reason for you being in the group in the first place, you get over it then all of a sudden you start to converse and talk and current events and Trump and you know I mean… And eventually what happens you go from a sorrow to a smile. OK. Because you are first of all you're in in an oasis where you feel comfortable and for many many many people feeling comfortable is a precious untouchable gift. Like Richard said you're constantly being bombarded for being at a certain level in society. And if you are not at that level in society, society has no need for you. Where is in a support group you are part of the group, okay? So it's an association which is very important, you know, mingling amount of peers which is extremely important. And you walk out feeling good and this is what is our primary objective, is that you come out feeling better than when you went in.

VOICE 3: When you get together over beer you want to enjoy yourself. And you want to keep things light and there's no real reason to say what's been going on that others might not know about. Whereas with a pain support group that is the reason we're there. So it may take a little bit of a little extra effort to get out the door and to get there. But if you're able to achieve that then usually I think people will find that at the support group they even if they don't talk, they can listen to people who have similar experiences who have similar problems challenges, frustrations, dilemmas, solutions and it's very hard to find that elsewhere.

VOICE 1: We need to provide safe transitions for people. So from healthcare to the community who's out there a mentor, you know. Where do you go to exercise safely? Who's a physical therapist that could help you? Because we don't have that. We have to sort of find it on our own. And as Shane was saying we're reaching out but we often get doors closed. So part of our process is to create something that the moment you leave health care there's a community of people who care who will help you with the next transition.

VOICE 4:I know when I first started with the support groups and when it first started it was in the hospital and really it was a chance to get out at that point it was because I felt really isolated and I wasn't able to really function. And at first I wasn't even sure if I could go and get there, like come from the West Island to Montreal to get to downtown. And so that was a big challenge for me and from the beginning it was all about kind of challenge. Challenge yourself, do this, get out, do these things. And it was then it became the thing that I could look forward to. Oh .I'm going out you know like I have actually something to do other than you know, if I get out and walk around the mall and I can and would only want to do that for so long and boring. And so for me it was really the getting out. And it was that beginning of socialization in the beginning of knowing that I was not alone, that there were other people in the situation whether it be male or female. And otherwise would be in the house and sort of like a shark because I couldn't sit down to sit too long, I couldn't stand up too long and I just be sort of moving all the time. It was sort of the door way to developing my new life.

AMT: Well, some very powerful and candid thoughts from James Tellier, Shane Conway, Richard Hovey and Eugene Feig who runs the group they are all members of the chronic pain support group of Montreal. It offers both mixed gender and men only groups. If you live with chronic pain and want to add to the conversation let us know especially as you were listening to this if you're a man and you can relate to what you just heard them say. Send us an email by going to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. Just click on the contact tab. You can also find us on Facebook or tweet us @thecurrentCBC. We have talked about pain a few times here on the program over the past few weeks. Back pain, migraines, ways to treat pain especially in light of the opioid crisis. If you have missed those conversations if you want to find and share them go to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent and you can also find our stories on the CBC Radio app which is free at the App Store or from Google Play. Well I have a minute to tell you about a guest I'm looking forward to meeting in the next week not our usual guests. Gobi. Gobi is a little dog. Not any little dog. Gobi was a stray. Gabi decided she didn't want to be a stray and when she met Dion Leonard It was love at first love at first a nip of the leg. This is not your normal man meets dog. Dog meets Man bites Man kind of story. This one involves a community of ultra-marathon runners and a 250 kilometer race across the desert and mountain passes. Dion Leonard didn't have the time the focus the food or the inclination to take a dog along on that journey but he did anyway and that's not all. Here he is on the U.K.’s ITV television talking about how he met Gobi and what ensued.

SOUNDCLIP

So I'm running a hundred fifty five mile race. It is six days seven day race of across the Gabi Desert. Gabi decides to start running with me on day two of the race. And I saw her on the night before around the campsite and I thought to myself she's pretty smart dog. She's getting lots of food off all the runners but she took a real liking to me. We didn't know whose dog it was a stray dog. We have just arrived. And for her to have this connection with me just come from nothing. I didn't encourage her to join the race with me as such. And then we finished day two together and the bond was formed she'd sleep with me during the night. I saw something in her. I had a tough upbringing, a traumatic childhood and I saw that she needed help and she needed someone to be looking out for her. So I made a promise to her in the desert to say I'm going to take her back to the U.K. and give her, you know, the best time that's possible. I received a phone call I was back in Edmond trying to work out how to bring her home and you know a lot of paperwork involved a lot of medical conditions needed to be checked. Unfortunately she went missing in a city of Urumqi, three million people. So I was devastated heartbroken. I thought that was the last I was going to see of Gabi. I flew back to China. And set up a massive search team. It was such an emotional time searching for her, and we've been through so much So many ups and downs throughout. Finding is one of the most difficult things that I've ever done. But her finding me also have been one of the best things that ever happened to me as well and I go into detail in the book as to how she has helped me overcome things from my childhood and the experiences that we've had together have helped me through that.

AMT: Well that is Dion Leonard talking about meeting and saving Gobi and how Gobi saved him. The book is called Finding Gabi An Amazing True Story. Dion Leonard and Gobi will be my guests next week on The Current. And stay with us in our next half hour former U.S. President James Monroe once said a little flattery will support a man through great fatigue. Could that explain why President Trump's cabinet use Monday's meeting to heap praise on its leader.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1:I want to thank you for being your commitment to the American workers.

VOICE 2: Absolutely right. We are going to be able to take care of the people who really need it.

VOICE 1:I can't thank you enough for the privilege that you've given me and the leadership that you've shown.

VOICE 3: I want to congratulate you on the men and women you placed around this table...

AMT: We are going to talk about what that was all about very shortly I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio One

Back To Top »

Trump's cabinet meeting shows 'sense of unreality', says historian

Guest: Terry Fallis, Anthony Gaughan, Lynda Shaw

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: It was [unintelligible]. They were so honest. And the one thing they, guess what? His grandfather and his father were great leaders. And he is such a proud man. His proud. His country like him. Not like him, love him. Love him.

VOICE 2: Uhmm.Yes yes. We know this.

VOICE 1: And guess what?

VOICE 2: You can understand [unintelligible]

VOICE 1: Yes, yes. I love him. The guy is awesome.

AMT: The guy is awesome. That is former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman paying homage to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in 2013. It was one of his first visits to the Hermit Kingdom. Mr. Rodman is visiting again this week. And as you heard in that clip he has a lot of praise for his host. Sucking up to the leaders of totalitarian states is often expected by the person in power. And for the person doing the groveling it's a good way of not winding up behind bars or worse. Earlier this week U.S. President Donald Trump, also a friend of Mr. Rodman held his first cabinet meeting. And what struck a lot of pundits was the adulation his cabinet secretaries directed to the commander in chief. We wanted to take a deeper look at the role flattery plays in politics today and to help us do that. I'm joined by one of Canada's greatest and smartest political satirists I'm honored to have Terry Fallis here with us in the studio today. Terry Fallis worked in Ottawa as a political staffer before turning to novel writing. He's the author of The Best Laid Plans. His brand new book is called One Brother Shy. Terry Fallis, I just I… You are awesome. Thank you for being here with us today.

TERRY FALLIS: Ana Maria may I just say what a privilege and an honor it is to be on your fine show helping you advance your noble agenda. I'm just overwhelmed.

AMT: OK I'll try not to be sick... If you not lighten up, Terry, okay. There were more than 20 gushing introductions around that cabinet table earlier this week. We're going to focus on three. So I would like you to hear the first one. This is President Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus. Here he is.

SOUNDCLIP

On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President we thank you for the opportunity and blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people. And we will continue to work very hard every day to accomplish those [unintelligible]

AMT: What do you think?

TERRY FALLIS: Well it's embarrassing and cringe worthy. I think of it because I'm a writer. I like alliteration. I think of it as a festival of fulsome flattery.

AMT: I like that.

TERRY FALLIS: It was, well it was it was embarrassing to me. And clearly Mr. Trump enjoyed the whole thing. I feared that he was going to ask them to go around the table a second time at the end but, yes just embarrassing.

AMT: What more could he have done to really get the president to like him do you think?

TERRY FALLIS: Well not much more. Well not nothing that I can say on radio.

AMT: [Laughs] Okay we have another clip here. This is Tom Price. Health and Human Services secretary.

SOUNDCLIP

What incredible honour is to lead the department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can't thank you enough for the privilege that you have given me, the leadership that you have shown. It seems like there's an international flavor to the messages that are being delivered. I had the opportunity to represent the United States at the G-20 health summit in Berlin and at the World Health Assembly in Geneva and I can't tell you how excited and enthusiastic folks are, about the United States leadership as it relates to global health security.

AMT: What do you like best about that little bit of flattery?

TERRY FALLIS: Well I thought there was a bit of hyperbole at the end there. I can't imagine other leaders in the world of health around the world being really excited about the arrival of Donald Trump and the dismantling of Obamacare and removing insurance for millions of American citizens. So I mean I think… so that was a bit of fake news there on his part I think. But you know Trump is used to that.

AMT: OK well we have one more here. I mean before we go to that we've got Sonny Perdue waiting in the wings. But he spoke about himself too though and he when he talked to the president it's a good thing.

TERRY FALLIS: Well it does personalize it. And Trump is very much a one on one person. The way he grabs you and draws you in as he does. So I think it's… I'm not sure it's wise but it probably works with Donald Trump to personalize it and to make Trump feel that they are personally in his debt for the position that they now enjoy. And he commands loyalty and I don't think it's unusual for leaders to expect loyalty from their cabinet but when loyalty veers into idolatry I think it's a there's a problem.

AMT: It was interesting to watch them go around the table, to watch him watching them praise him.

TERRY FALLIS: Yes. Oh, he was nodding. He was enjoying and lapping it all up. And you know it's it just reveals the narcissism I think, that is driving this presidency.

AMT: Well let's hear one more. This is Sonny Perdue the agriculture secretary.

SOUNDCLIP

I want to congratulate you on the men and women you've placed around this table, the holistic team are working for America is making results in each and every area. This is a team you have assembled that is working hand in glove for the [unintelligible] of America, and I want ot thank you for that. These are great team members and we are all [unintelligible].

AMT: What do you think of that?

TERRY FALLIS: Well there was a lot of team work going on there. The team word was being used. Often I thought that was pure sycophancy. He was really just trying to blow some smoke up the president's ego, shall we say. And yeah it was you know the obsequious Olympics and that may be the gold medal performance.

AMT: So when somebody like you listens to this, like you know because some of this would be… I'm thinking oh I'm taking notes, maybe I can use that in dialect. What do you think, as someone who writes political satire as you listen to this?

TERRY FALLIS: Well as I listen to this it really takes the pen right out of the satirists hand because I cannot create something that can compete in fiction with what is actually unfolding in reality. So I think it really…Despite the great performances we see on television every night from Stephen Colbert and others who do a very good job of satirizing it, it does make it a challenge when we can't create something as unbelievable [laughs] and incomprehensible as what we see unfolding in real life.

AMT: So in a way by being what they were around that table they have actually stopped you [laughs].

TERRY FALLIS: In a way, I mean I…

AMT: It is a plot.

TERRY FALLIS: [Laughs] Exactly. It is a plot to take the satire, the satirist life away from them, their career away from them. It makes it very difficult to write because we can't… I mean if I'd written that before it did happen, that would have a light little piece. Let's imagine Trump's first cabinet meeting and I could write that and it would be very funny. Well maybe after listening to three cabinet ministers fictitiously it would be very funny. I'm not sure after 21. It would be funny.

AMT: It's interesting to listen to them all going around the table too because they each built on what the other I'm going to say and so be it becomes a blessing it becomes. You have put such an amazing team together but that kind of looks at them like you're saying you're great because you picked us right. That takes away from him a little bit, maybe.

TERRY FALLIS: It's a bit self-serving and I'm sure it was scripted because there was some repetition amongst their adulation but not a lot. And it makes me think that this whole thing was orchestrated with the exception of Secretary of Defense James Mattis who seemed a bit uncomfortable with this whole orgy of ingratiation. And he really referenced and paid tribute to the men and women in the armed forces or the U.S. armed forces and what their sacrifice is to protect the country. And he sort of refused to prostrate himself in front of his leader and I thought that was you know one bright spot in that that circular little well, that carousel of complements.

AMT: [Laughs] Carousel, a spectacle of the sort of [unintelligible]. I didn't notice it because he was sitting right next to General Mattis and it was like, okay your turn. And there was a little bit of body language there are very subtle but it was there.

TERRY FALLIS: It was. And I think you could see it on Secretary Matisse's face. He wasn't quite he wasn't beaming the way some of the others were in kind of, you know worshipful beaming. He just went right to his point and didn't really mention the leader at all.

AMT: You know you make the point that this takes the pen out of the satirist hand, but when you write something like this what's the message that you're doing? Like this is real, this was real reality television. But what's the political message in what we just witnessed? If you had written that what would have been your political class?

TERRY FALLIS: Well normally in satire, satire it shouldn't just make you laugh. It ought to make you think and I think the underlying point here, the more serious issue that the humor was kind of obscuring, is that governments whether here in Canada or in the United States they work best when leaders invite and then seriously consider honest advice from their advisers from their cabinet members. And sound public policy does not generally emerge from a room filled with sycophantic advisors and you know the public interest is not served by Cabinet members who simply play back what they're know their leader wants to hear. That's not how you get sound public policy. That's not how you get good government in the public interest. So that would be what I would be getting at, were I to satirize this by writing the scene that we saw in reality that this does not lead to good government.

AMT: And you didn't get a chance to write it because it happened.

TERRY FALLIS: [Laughs] Exactly the pen. I put the pen down.

AMT: Well I think you should go fight for your job [laughs].

TERRY FALLIS: [Laughs] Exactly.

AMT: Terry Fallis, you know you have to go fight for your job now.

TERRY FALLIS: Indeed. I'm on my way[laughs].

AMT: Thank you for coming in.

TERRY FALLIS: Thank you, Anna Maria.

AMT: It was wonderful to have you. I feel very honored that you were here.

TERRY FALLIS: It was a privilege being on your show.

AMT: Terry Fallis political satirist and novelist he's the author of The Best Laid Plans. His new book is called One Brother Shy. He joined me in our Toronto studio. Well any political meeting conducted in front of the media is more for show than it is to get a lot of work done, real debate amongst cabinet ministers what happened. Cabinet secretaries what happen in private. To help us understand how a real U.S. cabinet meeting plays out we've reached Anthony Gaughan and he is an historian and a professor of law at Drake University. He's in Des Moines Iowa. Hello.

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Hello.

AMT: What did you make of that cabinet meeting?

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Well I certainly agree with Terry. I think it was an embarrassing display. It was clear that several members of the cabinet including, as Terry mentioned General Mattis were very uncomfortable in really throughout the whole thing. At least the body language suggested they felt it to be demeaning, whereas there were other members who like Reince Priebus the president’s chief of staff who could not resist the opportunity to sing the president's praises. The bottom line is I really think this did not succeed in projecting an image of success for the president. I think it just underscored the sense of unreality that surrounds the Trump White House.

AMT: How does that meeting compare to what you've seen in the past?

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Well certainly, Anna Maria, historically cabinet meetings have been used for photo op purposes. So in that sense what happened on Monday was not unusual, presidents for most of the last century have used photo ops to project an image of unity. But what really made this unusual was the fact that the president was demanding that each member of the cabinet tell the world how great the president is. That was a very strange and bizarre part of the meeting.

AMT: Just remind us the main function of a cabinet in the U.S. and how it serves in relation to the president.

AMT: Cabinets are made up of the various department heads and cabinets in the U.S. system really don't play the same role that they do in Canada or in the United Kingdom, in that you really don't typically have Cabinet meetings in which them the Cabinet heads exchange ideas and how the government should approach public policy issue. The Cabinet officials normally meet one on one with the president to discuss their specialized assignments such as James Mattis talking with the president about foreign policy or Rex Tillerson talking to the president about diplomatic efforts. It's not an organization, the cabinet. That's designed to really serve as a general collection of advisors to the president. The president's got a political staff that plays that role for him.

AMT: Have there been any other presidencies where the cabinet has been filled with loyalists rather than advisors?

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Well it's certainly true that historically presidents have attempted to identify political supporters to appoint them to important Cabinet posts. But in general those presidents have had political experience and so they had a pretty good sense of the qualities and strengths of the individual people they are pointing and often would have some sort of pre-existing relationship with the people that they were appointing to Cabinet posts. An example would be the first President Bush George Bush appointed his long time staffer and supporter James Baker to the secretary of state position in the late 1980s early 1990s. Here President Trump is someone with no political experience and so most members of the cabinet, in fact almost all of them are really people he's just gotten to meet in the last few months. And so I think it's perhaps revealing of the president's psyche that he felt the need to require each of these members of the cabinet to pledge their support and loyalty to him since obviously he doesn't seem to be completely convinced that they do have such a positive view of him otherwise why would he have gone through this charade.

AMT: Well yeah I really can't picture a vice president Dick Cheney doing that publicly to George W. Bush, back in the days of the Bush administration.

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: That's exactly right. There's a perfect example of how normally top advisers of the president or the vice president are not used as political props other than as I said for photo ops but to actually sing the president's praises is really remarkable.

AMT: So is this relationship sustainable?

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Well there's no doubt that President Trump is under an immense amount of pressure we really have never seen in history a presidency that's under this much pressure this early in the presidency. The last president who was under this much pressure was of course President Richard Nixon in the 1970s but Watergate broke four years into his presidency and it really didn't become a major story until early in his second term. President Trump has been under siege almost from the first week that he took office and at the present he has no legislative accomplishments. He's facing an FBI investigation, special counsel investigation into his Russia ties and potential destruction justice. So I think the president has a sense that things are slipping away from him and this cabinet meeting on Monday reflected one effort on his part to try to retake control of the narrative.

AMT: Okay. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out. Thank you for your thoughts today.

ANTHONY GAUGHAN: Oh my pleasure.

AMT: Anthony Gaughan, historian and professor of law at Drake University he's in Des Moines Iowa. Well that display of flattery toward President Trump by his cabinet secretaries has drawn its fair share of mockery. There is also concern about how it will play in the end and the president's decision making. Linda Shaw is a cognitive neuroscientist and a business psychologist. She is a regular contributor to Forbes magazine and she's in London England. Hello.

LYNDA SHAW: Hello there, Anna Maria.

AMT: Some commentators have said President Trump's cabinet members were acting like sycophants in the way they were praising him at that meeting. What do you think of that description?

LYNDA SHAW: It is accurate, but embarrassing. [unintelligible] sycophants, where they are trying to outdo the last person who last said something flattering to President Trump. It became almost competitive. I thought it was incredibly undignified.

AMT: How would you describe a sycophant?

LYNDA SHAW: A sycophant is somebody who will say anything to please the person they are speaking to, whether they believe it or not. [unintelligible] so they would just they would just agree and all that it is really brilliant, thank you so much, yes I was thinking this way myself, you always come up with such fantastic ideas. Politics has in the business world that people are feathering their own nest. This what’s in it for me. And this person, clearly President Trump can offer quite nice pay packet and can offer [unintelligible] of business venture for these people and they don't want to be on the wrong side of that. So they are saying everything that President Trump wants to hear. And equally they know that President Trump is the sort of person would [unintelligible] if they did not say what he wanted to hear. So, everyone is frightened, basically. It is a sign of an enormous bully.

AMT: It's interesting that you say that they're interested in the sort of that business parallel to enriching themselves because one of the criticisms of Donald Trump is that his presidency will be used, the allegation it will be used to enrich the Trump family. But you're saying it's not just they want to enrich themselves politically but they see a benefit down the road to being on his side?

LYNDA SHAW: OK. I think so. What's in it for me is always the bottom line. And you've got intelligent people there, eloquent people and they look like puppets. He actually had them giving testimonials about him on camera. How they are going to get back on what they have said. And they can't. It's very clever. He's actually manipulated them to trap them into saying whatever he wants them to say in the future

AMT: Does it matter if someone doing the flattery really believes what they're saying?

LYNDA SHAW: I think it matters enormously if you're not going to feel authentic in you flattery there's an intention, reason isn't there? It's not because you are trying to compliment a person. There is clearly something, another reason that the reason why you're be saying something that you don't believe.

AMT: Why do people in power need that kind of praise?

LYNDA SHAW: I think it starts with a little bit of how you think once we get a surge of power we are rewarded with a surge of dopamine, which is a feel good neurotransmitter in the brain and then we think oh that's actually quite intoxicating and it feels really good. I'd like to have that again but the next time we tried for it we can't do the same things to get the same fix of dopamine, we have got to go a little bit further. So this means that we will push the power button and ask a little bit more from people. And you keep going around in a big circle until, as we can see Big President Trump he has hubris, in which his sycophants around him, he is losing a handle on reality. He believes he is omnipotent, so he is losing the reality that a president really needs to have.

AMT: And so what's the downside of a president or a business executive who surrounds himself with people who treat them like that, who are sycophants?

LYNDA SHAW: Well the downside is he could easily slip off because you are going to be told what you want to hear. Leaders around the world get this hugely, royal families, presidents, they are not being told the truth about what's going on out on the street. Then you will make very bad decisions. I mean Marie Antoinette was told that people didn't have any bread to eat, so she said let them eat cake. You know that shows how much she was completely naive. Not knowing if anything was going outside because she couldn't find out for herself and because she was surrounded by advisers who were giving her inaccurate information.

AMT: So if you were an adviser to President Trump what would you tell him about accepting advice and flattery?

LYNDA SHAW: If you want to be a good president, you need to know truth. You need to know what's really going on out there. And if you just listen to what you want to hear you will be missing a trick and you could become one of the worst presidents in history.

AMT: Linda Shaw thank you for your time.

LYNDA SHAW: You're welcome?

AMT: Linda Shaw a cognitive neuroscientist business psychologist. She's in London England. Wow, what do you think? I did not even introduce you [cross talking] [laughing].

GUEST: Hello, random human being. What do you think? [Laughing]

AMT: Piya Chattopadhyay host of Out In The Open. My colleague at CBC Radio has just entered the studio.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: And so elegantly, didn’t I?

AMT: So elegantly. It is an honor to have you here as well. You're hosting The Current tomorrow.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: I am.

AMT: You're helping me get through some feedback. This is like an issue with a lot of issues.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Uha, uha. No shortage of controversy around this idea.

AMT: Paid period leave, paid menstrual leave, the option of days off work for womenf they're having pain during their menstrual cycle it Italy is considering it. Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, parts of China already offered as does by the way Nike.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Huh.

AMT: As a corporation.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: And we were just talking about it debating ideas as we do sometimes.

AMT: Yes. Okay. A clip from yesterday Chella Quint, menstrual educator approves of this idea.

SOUNDCLIP

I think that companies that list this in their company values are showing that not only can people if they want to but they can talk about menstruation generally in that workplace. And I think that's the most important message.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: And on the other hand, Chris Bobel, the President of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research has concerns that menstrual leave would have unintended consequences.

SOUNDCLIP

I worry that menstruators might hit, and forgive the cheesiness, but a sort of red sealing will be used as a sort of quiet basis for bias.

AMT: Okay well red ceiling, red flags. Our listeners lined up to defend both sides Josie Ann Akhmann tweeted I'm worried a woman might be singled out again as weak needy not able to cope. The stereotypes as per Trump and Putin are still alive and well regardless of how far we think we may have come at.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Chile Vada agreed and she tweeted period leave will result in a lack of gender equality. And also I do not want or need to hear or talk about periods. I don't see the value.

AMT: Taylor Boulieu of Ottawa sought from the other side and writes Although I agree that it may repress or delay careers in the same way that maternity leave does I feel period leave is an important step for women's rights. The workforce was largely designed for men however were not men and biologically we have different needs. We shouldn't be required to push through and burn ourselves out to live up to the standards of a male oriented work environment. To refuse to take the steps toward a more supportive culture for women because of fear of naysayers would be to let oppression win.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Mary Rose Mikhail's wrote the two views about this reflect the shift we are making. It is a hopeful sign that women want to design a world which reflects their priorities, their bodies, their work experience. If someone feels it sets women back then hopefully women will not join that company unless they want to join the old mail order.

AMT: @ourteamosrex tweeted this is a joke, right? Should men get paid for higher sexual drive leave. Surely that can be distracting.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: And finally Anna Marie Sewell tweeted about the cultural issues around menstruation Judeo-Christian religious taboos and women's “dirtiness” are key colonial damage for sure.

AMT: OK lots of opinions on that. So what are you doing on the Friday show that is going to get people writing in.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: OK well this is something that whether you're a man or woman you have experienced, I believe. What is the worst longest line that you've ever been in Anna Maria?

AMT: The Vatican in Rome. Vatican City waiting in the heat. Two and a half hours I think so.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: You know a lot of your day waiting in a line.

AMT: Yeah I started like you know doing an anthropological study.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Did you start talking to people in line.

AMT: Yes I did.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: OK. And then so you got in two and a half hours later..

AMT: And I could have gone in underneath [unintelligible].

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: OK. And then there's the traffic line ups and depending where you are daily.

AMT: Hello Toronto, yes.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: So tomorrow we are going to be talking about lineups or as the British call itqueues at new documentary by Josh Frade, talking about the taming of the queue what Lineup say about us culturally why they work why they don't and what we need to do about it.

AMT: Okay, Piya Chattopadhyay, I will be here tomorrow. Hosts of out in the open this week's Friday. Host of The Current talking about cues not to be mistaken for q which is waiting next in line in the queue on CBC Radio One Tom Powers's there. We are going to leave you with a nod to the people who make the show possible. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thanks for listening.

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GARY FRANCIS: Hello, I'm Gary Francis the technical producer here at The Current.This week the show was produced by: Idella Sturino, Donya Zeyahi.Howard Goldenthal, Inas Colabrese, John Chipman, Lara [l O'Brien, Shannon Higgins, Sujata Berry, Kristin Nelson, Karin Marley, Liz Hoath, Samira Mohyeddin, Catherine Kalbfleisch, Willow Smith, Eunice Kim, Pacinthe Mattar and Graeme Steel. Special thanks to our Network Producers: Susan McKenzie in Montreal, and Suzanne Dufresne in Winnipeg. The Current's writer is Peter Mitton. Lisa Ayuso is our web producer and Ruby Buiza is our interactive producer. Transcriptions by Rasha Shehata. Our documentary editor is Josh Bloch.Our senior producers are Richard Goddard in Toronto and Cathy Simon in Vancouver. The executive producer of The Current is Kathleen Goldhar.

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