Over at Vanity Fair, Hitch continues his series on his cancer treatment in a piece called “Tumortown“. He describes all the helpful advice he’s gotten from concerned friends:
. . . somebody has written to me from a famous university to suggest that I have myself cryonically or cryogenically frozen against the day when the magic bullet, or whatever it is, has been devised. (When I failed to reply to this, I got a second missive, suggesting that I freeze at least my brain so that its cortex could be appreciated by posterity. Well, I mean to say, gosh, thanks awfully.)
As usual, it’s honest and sad:
. . . this is both an exhilarating and a melancholy time to have a cancer like mine. Exhilarating, because my calm and scholarly oncologist, Dr. Frederick Smith, can design a chemo-cocktail that has already shrunk some of my secondary tumors, and can “tweak” said cocktail to minimize certain nasty side effects. That wouldn’t have been possible when Updike was writing his book or when Nixon was proclaiming his “war.” But melancholy too, because new peaks of medicine are rising and new treatments beginning to be glimpsed, and they have probably come too late for me.
Hitchens winds up discussing the treatment advice he gets from Francis Collins, which segues into an issue that partially divides them: stem-cell research.
As a believing Christian, Francis is squeamish about the creation for research purposes of these nonsentient cell clumps (as, if you care, am I), but he was hoping for good work to result from the use of already existing embryos, originally created for in-vitro fertilization. These embryos are going nowhere as it is. But now religious maniacs strive to forbid even their use, which would help what the same maniacs regard as the unformed embryo’s fellow humans! The politicized sponsors of this pseudo-scientific nonsense should be ashamed to live, let alone die. If you want to take part in the “war” against cancer, and other terrible maladies too, then join the battle against their lethal stupidity.
And over at Slate, Hitchens explains why Americans get the politicians they deserve.