Thursday, June 30, 2005

50,000 hits!! :-) 


First and foremost; to all my readers, and especially my link-buddies; THANK YOU!! :-)

For both old readers and new, here's the "Omni FAQ," presented here because I couldn't think of anything more profound to commemorate this milestone:

Q: Why did you use "omniverse" in your URL?
A: It's all-encompassing, like my topics.

Q: Why do you post on other blogs under the name "Omni"?
A: It's short for "omniverse," and so connects my "posting name" to my blog URL... and it seemed simpler than making up a whole new name.

Q: Why do you use such a plain, low-tech template?
A: My blog isn't one you can really scan or skip around, it's one you have to settle in and read, and a simple layout with black text on a white background, and withOUT distracting colors and graphics, is what best lends itself to reading long posts.

Q: Why don't you get your own domain name?
A: Because they don't give them away for free, and because I don't want the confusion of multiple URL's for my blog.

Q: Tell me about you.
A: I'm a late-30's, happily-married (most of the time) American woman with no kids (unless you count my husband, lol) who doesn't get enough sleep, but nevertheless spends a great deal of time thinking about a variety of topics, and is on a protracted, if sporadic, spiritual journey.

Q: That's it? Why don't you give details, post a pic, etc?
A: I've gotta remain anonymous.

Q: Why?
A: If you posted the sort of stuff on this blog, wouldn't YOU want to be? Seriously, though, I've posted things about my friends that I want to be able to maintain deniability about... and I don't want any psychos tracking me down.

Q: You say you're a geek-does that mean you're chubby, with thick glasses and stringy hair?
A: No, I don't resemble the physical stereotype of female geeks in any way (other than my preference for geekish t-shirts).

Q: Why's there no way to comment here?
A: Again, the psychos; they come on here, read my posts obsessively, and then attack me on other people's blogs. Also: Just yesterday, I came across a blog that purported to be owned by a sexually-open 19 year old Asian girl (which means it's probably owned by a sexually-repressed mid-50's Caucasian man), with a 7-digit # of hits, that had apparently just added commenting; there were troll attacks that were PAGES long in every thread, and in several spots people had posted that, although they'd wanted to be able to respond to her posts, they thought she should REMOVE the commenting, because the troll posts were so unpleasant and distracting. If you think it'd be nice to have commenting here, believe me, we'd have exactly the same situation if I enabled it.

Q: Why can't I email you?
A: Because they haven't invented a filter that would block troll emails, and nothing could induce me to give trolls ANY way to contact me; I refuse to subject myself to abuse from belligerent strangers.

Q: Why do you use so many capitalized words (and parts of words) and ellipses ("...")?
A: That's my attempt to mimic my speech pattern as closely as possible; if you use the stresses and pauses as I've written them in your mind when you read my posts, you'll get a feeling for how I speak.

Q: Is that why you use words like "gotta" even when discussing a serious topic?
A: Yup; that's part of how I learned to talk to people, so as to not come across as quite so intense.

Q: You don't use curse words or vulgar language, though; are you a prude?
A: Gee, I hope not, lol; I want this blog to be readable by people of all ages and degrees of "social casualness," and in general I don't curse around people until I'm sure they don't find it offensive (eg they've done it themselves)... after which I curse as much as anyone else.

Q: Why do you typically use "1st, # and $" for "first, number and money"?
A: I'm a slow and horrible typist, and I've gotten used to using those sorts of shortcuts to speed things up.

Q: Do you realize that some of the contractions and compound words you use aren't accepted as actual words, and neither is "alot"?
A: Uh-huh; I use 'em because they're the fastest and simplest way to get things said... and just watch, they'll become accepted as words eventually, and then I'll be seen as a pioneer.

Q: You know that some people find short posts more enjoyable to read than the looooooooong ones you write, right?
A: There are a zillion blogs for those people to read, so they won't suffer from my posts not being the type they prefer. I don't go into every facet of a topic to be different, though, but because that's how I think... and that's what this blog is about, what *I* think.

I may add to the above as time goes on, but for now it should provide a decent bunch of answers for inquiring minds.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the downside of becoming a more established blog, with more "link buddies"; my link list of cool blogs keeps growing (and if you haven't checked them all out, including the ones I just added, you really should do so ASAP), but my available free time does NOT, with the unfortunate consequence that I've gone from visiting my favorite blogs every day, to every few days, to once a week, to closer to every other week as often as not, and, although I try to always leave a comment, I can rarely leave the sort of in-depth responses that I used to... my apologies, folks, I really am doing the best I can with my current schedule.

Time issues and trolls aside, my blogging experience continues to be overwhelmingly enjoyable, and it continues to be a source of daily joy that people from all over the world (130 countries and counting) choose to take time out of their busy days to come and see what I've ranted (or rambled) about; again, thanks!! :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Puzzled about parenting probs 

For this post, "parenting" will refer to the care of "fur babies" as well as the human kind; the confusion I have applies equally to both cases.

How many times have you heard "pet parents" complain about not being able to sleep in, or even sleep past dawn, because their pets are leaping around and clamoring for food? These folks all have something in common; they feed their pets right after they get up in the morning. Can someone please tell me why none of them see where the problem lies in that situation? Granted that I haven't questioned them all, but this one is so easy to solve that it wouldn't make sense for them to keep on suffering if they saw the solution... which is of course to STOP feeding the pet 1st thing in the morning, so that the animal stops associating morning, and especially early morning, with being fed, and loses its desire to stomp on mommy and daddy's faces at 5AM. To make REALLY sure the animal has stopped making the daylight=food connection, don't feed them until after dark, and maybe even wait until near your bedtime to fill their dishes, so that they'll most likely lay down to sleep when you do, and STAY asleep because they're not starving. (It should go without saying that giving in to begging and giving them food other than when you intend to do so will NOT help them to learn to eat only at night and not to pester their "parents" all day.)

When you suggest this solution to pet parents, they'll be stunned and speechless at 1st, and then will start making excuses like, "I'm used to feeding them then," "They're used to eating then," "My parents always fed our animals in the morning" and so forth; the only 1 of these with any shred of validity is that it's less than ideal to have a pet not be fed until a dozen or more hours later than they're expecting, but that's easily overcome by feeding them half their day's food in the morning to start, and the other half at night, and then gradually increasing the % they get at night until that's when they get it all... not totally effortless, but hardly a big deal.

The related situation where small kids are concerned is when you hear the parents complaining that their little ones are up and around at the crack of dawn. This one's even easier to see the solution for; however much earlier the kids are waking up before you'd prefer them to, put them down for the night that much later. Is that so hard to figure out? If the kids are already nodding off at their current bedtime, you can make it a few minutes later each night until you reach the desired time, and if sunlight is waking them up early, put blackout shades on their windows.

Again, the parents are astounded to hear this simple solution; the main rebuttal is that they "can't" put the kids to sleep at whatever time they'd need to to have them waking up at the ideal time... and if you ask them why they "can't," there's never a valid reason, just a repetition of how you "can't" put a kid down that late, that it's somehow "wrong" in a way they can't describe. If you pursue the matter, you'll eventually discover that someone told them that a child of age X should be going to bed at time Y, and they took it as gospel, totally ignoring the wide range of sleep needs that kids can have, and that the length of nap a child takes, if any, alters how much sleep they need at night, and thus when they should be put to bed. A healthy child will wake up and want to get up when they've had enough sleep; with that as a guide, you can ignore the "shoulds," figure out how much sleep your child needs and plan their bedtime accordingly (consult your doctor if that amount seems way out of line for their age group, of course).

And do please show some sense, not to mention sensitivity, about what bedtime you enforce after a child reaches school age; don't be like MY parents, who, despite the fact that I woke up over an HOUR earlier than I needed to to get ready for school every single day, refused to budge on my bedtime... even though the other kids my age were going to bed an hour later than I was, so they didn't even have the excuse of following the crowd. When you force a child to adhere to an unreasonably early bedtime, they feel punished, and that makes them tense as their assigned sleep time approaches, which can lead to insomnia... believe me, I know all about that one. As long as your child is awake, or easily rousable, when you need them to be up, that's all that matters; you don't get bonus points if you make the kid go to bed earlier and they then wake up at sunrise.

We're a desperately sleep-deprived nation; did you know that, before the invention of the lightbulb, the average adult slept TEN hours per night? Preventing our babies, of both human and fur varieties, from stealing even an hour or 2 of sleep a day from us is far from trivial, so it's well worth the effort to correct those things; as to how to get yourself to bed earlier, with so many movies to watch and emails to type (not to mention blog entries)... you're on your own, lol.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bank of America = STUPID 

My husband has a long and illustrious history of losing things, including bank cards (he typically misplaces several of them per year); this causes the expected problems and stresses each time, compounded by his foot-dragging, first in doing a real search for them, and then in getting them replaced the majority of times that they're never found. For this most recent episode, however, the incompetence and stupidity shown by Bank of America actually eclipsed his.

It started out typically enough; he came home without his debit/ATM card, but denied that he'd lost it... until I played him the message on the answering machine from a B of A branch informing him that his card had been turned in there, at which point he admitted that he must have left it at the store. {sigh}

Stupidity #1 from B of A: They claimed that if my husband didn't get to the branch the next morning, they'd "have to" destroy the card... which is utterly ridiculous, as they'd NEVER "have to" destroy a bank card unless they got hold of one after a new one had been issued (as they don't want people to have more than 1 card at a time). Unreasonableness and a threat; how's that for customer service?

Stupidity #2 from B of A: By the time my husband got to the branch the next morning, they'd LOST the card. You read right; their system recorded the card coming in, but there's no record whatsoever of where it went to after the call was made to us... and they NEVER found it.

Stupidity #3 from B of A: We were told that the replacement card that they were then required to send, which after all was just a little embossing and magnetic coding put on a card blank, was going to take up to TEN business days to reach us, when in fact they should have been able to print it up right away and get it to us in a couple of days... especially since their own astounding screwup was behind the need for it.

Stupidity #4 from B of A: When I tried to pay some bills via their online banking setup, I discovered that I couldn't log in, and there was a weird error message saying that our login name didn't exist... silly me, I thought the site was down, when it in fact was just the failure of their programmers to make an error message that actually explained what the problem was. What the error message was indicating turned out to be...

Stupidity #5 from B of A: Although the card was NOT stolen, and even if it had been it contained no info that'd allow anyone to access the online banking setup, when their system processed the request for a new card it shut down our ability to pay our bills online... and remember, this is in addition to being unable to use the ATM's or make purchases with the card-talk about adding insult to injury, not to mention having no clue as to how the online world is connected (or not, in this case) to the real world.

Stupidity #6 from B of A: Because the online banking setup had been signed up for using my husband's info, even though there was a joint account involved they tried to convince me that there was no way that *I* could get the account unsealed... I eventually talked them into it, and paid the bills I'd intended to, but I shouldn't have HAD to fight for access to my own @#$%^&* checking account.

Stupidity #7 from B of A: When the card finally got here, my husband followed the instructions to activate it over the phone, and they didn't work, and the system told him to use the ATM... and of course, when he went to the ATM, IT didn't work, and told him to activate it by phone.

Stupidity #8 from B of A: I went to pay some bills online, and... you guessed it.

Stupidity #9 from B of A: They tried to convince me that there was no way they could have any sort of interchange with me that would allow the account to be unsealed, despite the fact that they'd had that ability just last week, and yes, I told them that; my husband came home at that point, and to save time I just handed the phone over to him.

Stupidity #10 from B of A: My husband told them that he wanted me to be able to have access to the online banking regardless of what was going on with him, as I had every right to expect to be able to do, but they said they "couldn't" add me on as an equal user to the account; all they could do was add me on as another user with different login info... and there's no guarantee that I won't still get locked out the next time he loses a card, as all the accounts still have his name on them (would YOU trust anything they said?).

Stupidity #11 from B of A: They informed him that the payee info that I'd laboriously entered for every company we get billed from could NOT be copied into this new user account!! This one is the worst of all, really, because there's no possible security issue even in the mind of the most clueless person with all account holders being able to pay their bills without having to re-enter all the info, it'd be trivially simple to program, and it's a GROSS lapse in customer service and common sense to not be able to do it... so, even if I CAN still get access to online bill paying next time my husband loses his card, I'm going to have to use so much effort to pay anything that I'd be better off just writing out a check.

Stupidity #12 from B of A: When I logged into the new account area (with gritted teeth), I discovered something amazing; the account info for our savings account was on there... but it does NOT show up in the original user account's listing. An email has been dispatched to inquire as to WHY we're not seeing the savings account under the original login name, since now it's clear that the info IS available online. Their system claims that a reply will be sent within 12 hours, which tells me that either they're lying through their teeth, or they've outsourced some or all of their customer service stuff to other countries... neither of which option endears me to them. (Update: they NEVER replied to me, but the savings account info has appeared on the original user account.)

When I announced my intention to start up with online banking in my post of 3-25-05 (because my bill payments were vanishing into the nether regions of the postal system), I said, "I'm nervous about what disasters could befall me if I try to deal with $ online"; I wish my instincts had been off just this once...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Summer sun sense 

With the July 4th weekend fast approaching, it's time to give a little thought to not getting fried by the sun at beaches and BBQ's; not only is the pain something we can do without, sun damage is aging, and, worst of all, greatly increases the possibility of getting skin cancer. Most of us are bright enough to glop on sunscreen before spending a day in the rays, but it turns out that this might be doing more harm than good, according to a blurb in the June 2005 issue of Cosmo:

"Many sunscreens only protect against UVB (or burning) rays because it was thought that those were the only beams that caused cancer. However, there's new evidence that UVA rays, which age the skin but don't burn you, are carcinogenic too, says dermatologist Nick Lowe... 'A sunscreen that doesn't protect against UVA rays can be worse than none at all, because it allows you to stay in the sun all day without burning, but you're still damaging your DNA,' says Sheldon Pinnell, MD, professor emeritus of dermatology at Duke University Medical Center."

WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!! After all those years of telling us we'd be safe as long as we used sunscreen and prevented burns, now it turns out that people who've used sunscreen to be able to enjoy being out in the sun all the time have been putting themselves at INCREASED cancer risk, not to mention enduring photoaging (aging by sunlight)? Why do we EVER believe it when doctors tell us that XYZ will make us safe, when we know perfectly well that they don't know all the facts about ANYTHING?

The updated advice for selecting sunscreen is:

"Your best defense is a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone (also called Parsol 1789); it will likely be labeled as full- or broad-spectrum or indicate UVA and UVB protection. It's also good to choose a block laced with antioxidants like vitamins C or E or green tea. They help your sunscreen do its job by fighting off free radicals generated by UV light."

Other articles I've read have claimed Parsol 1789 to be the best sun protection ingredient available in this country (there's a supposedly better one available in most of the world outside of the US called mexoryl, but without FDA approval no accurate comparison can be made), so that's the one to go for if you can afford it (the others are cheaper). They tell us to use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass to cover our bodies, or an amount the size of a golf ball, but most of us only use 1/4 that much, which, according to Dr. Pinnell, "turns SPF 30 into about SPF 4" (I guess SPF doesn't work according to basic math), so it's best to use the highest SPF you can find and NOT to trust that you're getting the level of protection the # suggests, by a wide margin.

They say you should wear sunscreen every day, which would be honestly unbearable for ME, as, perhaps because I have sensitive skin, I can feel the nasty stuff sitting there on me, and it feels AWFUL; also, despite what they say, you can NOT put it under makeup... even the concealer that comes in a hard stick can't hold on very well to those greasy chemicals. The closest thing there is to an exception is the one I'm going to recommend:

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, UVA/UVB Protection with Parsol 1789... in SPF 45. It's non-oily, contains antioxidants (A, C and E), and is waterproof, sweatproof, rub-proof and non-comedogenic (won't clog pores and cause acne); it's one of the more expensive options, but, as much as I love to pinch a penny and get a bargain, this is one of the areas where I'd say it's crucial to go for the best. You may notice a few moments of "sunscreen ick" before it's absorbed, but after that you won't have that gross feeling of wearing sunscreen, and you can put some makeup on over it (I haven't tried liquid or cream makeups, but powder and stick are ok), so you can protect your face from the sun without having to show your undereye circles and blotches. It's available most places where sunscreen is sold, or you can order it online


If you forget the sunscreen and end up burned, take a cool shower as soon as you can (like regular burns, sunburns develop slowly, and cooling the skin can stop the process), take ibuprofen and vitamin E, slather your skin with moisturizer and hydrocortisone (and a first aid or waxing-prep cream with lidocaine or pramoxine if you need extra pain killing); you can also puncture an E oil capsule and apply it directly to your skin, which works well but stains, so you can't use it under or near your clothing, or on skin that's about to be in contact with bedding.

My final tips:

Men, your greatest skin cancer risks are the tops of your ears and, if you're bald(ing), the top of your head, so be sure and protect those areas... a hat would be a good idea if you're comfortable wearing one (NOT a cap, as that doesn't protect your ears).

Ladies, I've read that as much as 95% of facial aging is photoaging, so for extra protection you might want to consider a wide-brimmed hat if it fits in with your style, or, if not, carry an umbrella or parasol to shade your face... with the big bonus of the latter being that you can twirl it coquettishly and attract admiring male glances.

And the most important tip of all; make sure your KIDS are covered in sunscreen every time they're going to be out in the sun... their future skin cancer risk will be determined in large part by how many burns they get in their first couple of decades.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The development of the soul 

My contemplation of what sort of soul, if any, an evil person might have in yesterday's post got me thinking:

The soul is formed from the energy of thought and feeling; does the KIND of thoughts and feelings you have affect the size and quality of your soul? If you're not much of a thinker and/or are unemotional, do you have a stunted soul? If your soul is of the wrong kind or not sufficiently powerful, does it fail to form a spirit when you die?

That's a BIG question; is there any reason to think that EVERYONE has a soul, much less that everyone has a spirit after their death? Does every soul eventually become a spirit? Can negative energy, can evil, make something wonderful like a soul, much less an eternal spirit? If not, how much of that can you have before your soul can no longer reach "critical mass" to form a spirit, or falls apart entirely?

Negative energy isn't just evil, violence, hatred and other "bad" emotions, but things like fear and sadness as well; if you've had an unhappy or anxious life, does that affect your soul? I sure hope not, but from a cold-blooded viewpoint of analyzing energies it seems as if it MUST have an effect. If you go through life thinking unpleasant thoughts, no matter how justified, no matter how appropriate for what life has done to you, what sort of soul are you creating?

If you produce positive energy and thoughts, does that counteract the negative stuff, as if opposing charges were literally canceling each other out, or do they mix together like white and black paint to make ever-changing shades of gray whose darkness or lightness depends on how your life is going?

If you die when your life is at a low point, can you be cheated out of having a spirit, even if most of your life was good? If you get your life in good shape before you die, can you overcome years of strife and stress and be assured of having a spirit? Or, does it all average out, and that average is what counts when you die?

Does this sound crazy? It does, yes, even to ME, but when I consider that humans can be born lacking, fail to develop, or lose literally EVERY other piece and part (sometimes leading to death, of course), I have to accept that it's only realistic to see the soul as being variable, and destructible, as well.

I've always said that, for the sake of your karma, it's important to try to avoid negative thoughts and emotions, and to cultivate positive ones, because you draw to yourself what you put out; now, I'm facing the realization that our souls, and our ability to continue to exist after the death of our bodies, may depend on this as well.

No horror movie could ever be as terrifying.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Intuition or eccentricity? 

Interesting, isn't it, how people are always telling you to listen to your instincts, trust your instincts, go with your instincts... unless of course said instincts point you to doing something they disapprove of, at which point they'll tell you to "use your head." That exception applies x10 where the unknown is concerned; the general opinion is that, in this area, instinct is ALWAYS wrong... although how instinct could have this inexplicable lapse in just one area they can never explain.

I've been thinking about this because I saw the movie "White Noise" tonight; it circles around the concept of EVP (electronic voice phenomena, which is when voices from an unknown source are heard on electronic media; I posted about it on 5-18-05), which is vaguely interesting since it could be authentic at least some of the time, and there were some cool effects and plot twists, but it was ultimately disappointing because they gave no hint of explanation of who the 3 evil supernatural creatures were, or how and why they made the things happen that they did, or... anything, really, and I don't like it when a movie creates mysteries and then gives no explanation. More important than my mixed emotions about the movie is that, although some of it WAS scary, particularly the effect where out of the blue something dramatic happens reallyreallyfast (also used very effectively in "The Forgotten"), I got no sense that the concept of there being possible danger from studying EVP's had any truth to it (aside from the danger of being frustrated to death), even though they had a psychic warn the hero against meddling to create just that belief, and the last bit of the movie was a claim that 1 in 12 EVP's are overtly threatening. I know that spirits exist, and that they can at least be mischievous and bothersome, and my mind is staying open about the possibility that they do sometimes try to contact us via electronic media, but I get no feeling that this is a source of possible harm... perhaps because I've come to believe that evil people are literally soulless, or at least have very impaired souls, and thus wouldn't be likely to form spirits after the death of their bodies, OR, perhaps because my instinct, which taps into my subconscious and naturally has access to far more information than my conscious mind does, has decided that reality just doesn't work that way.

Ok, so I didn't believe a horror movie premise to be factual; so what? Don't we all usually disbelieve the concepts that these often-silly films are based on? Sure we do... but for me, there's an exception, and, when I'd gotten far enough into "White Noise" to be sure that it wasn't setting any alarms off, that other movie came into my mind:

"The Mothman Prophecies."

As I posted on 4-5-04, the supernatural creatures in this movie, which is based on actual events and claims, have from the moment they started being referred to the 1st time I saw the film given me the creeps so intensely that I've felt unable to research them; when they showed the scene where the expert on the mothmen warns the hero that to focus attention on them will draw THEIR attention, with possibly dangerous consequences, the reptile portion of my brain was screaming "YES!! YES!! HE'S RIGHT!!", and at no time in the years since then have I been able to pursue a train of thought about them without my mind veering off, and the admonition to not even THINK about them in an inquisitive way coming forth to forestall further attempts.

Nothing else in my entire life has created this sort of reaction, and now more than ever I have to wonder; is this some sort of odd eccentricity deep in my brain, or... an intuition?

Friday, June 24, 2005

How easily our eyes are fooled about looks 

I just saw "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and saw a major example of something amazing; how little difference there actually is between beautiful and ugly. As a woman who's been known to do a full face of makeup, and with friends who wear makeup (including some drag queens), I'm well aware of what a radical transformation it can make, and we've all seen people get bad haircuts and look dreadful, or get a perm or highlights and suddenly look far more attractive (when you think about it, these things shouldn't make a big difference, but they do), but I was still amazed at how the babelicious Johnny Depp, who was voted People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2003, manages to look homely to the point of unrecognizability in this movie... and withOUT a prosthetic big nose or bad teeth or other added-on deformity. If I hadn't known Depp was in the movie, I think it would've been a while before I realized it was him (my husband said the same thing); in the 1st scene, I wasn't sure it WAS him, that's how extreme the situation was.

What made this radical transformation of one of the most recognizable actors in the world? His usually-ample hair was cropped short, which both reduces his level of looks and alters the perceived contours of his face, he had big, gaudy sunglasses that totally obscured his most stunning feature, those deep, dark eyes, and made his face look cartoonish and sort of top-heavy, and he had a goofy hat squashed down on his head, throwing his proportions off... and when he did NOT have the hat on, he was very bald, and that high dome REALLY made him look like a whole different person, and not a very pretty one-can you imagine? His face was exactly the same, but just with hair and accessories, and probably some acting (my husband commented that he was doing some unusual facial expressions, which may have been intended to keep his face from having its normal harmonious appearance), he managed to look dopey (in both senses of the word, lol) and unattractive.

I'm sure it's not a coincidence that I saw this concept at work earlier in the evening on this week's episode of "Beauty and the Geek," in which we saw that an improved hairstyle and some less dreadful clothes could make the guys look wildly better; the clothes had ALOT to do with that, granted, but the hair made a big difference too, and it's amazing how making even the typical short hair of men a little fuller, sleeker, taller or flatter could change the way their faces looked.

What we see as beauty depends largely on angles and shapes and proportions all working a certain way on a face; fellas, if you've never given any thought to how your hair, and hats and/or glasses if you ever wear them, are affecting how you look, you really should. Beauty also depends on whether you've got any features that're particularly lovely, so if you've got great teeth, smile, if you've got gorgeous hair, don't get a crewcut, and if, like Johnny Depp, you've got dreamboat eyes, don't hide 'em under glasses (especially ones with brightly-colored lenses like in the movie, ICK) or bangs... if you haven't been paying attention to this stuff, you may actually be far better looking than you think.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"What The Bleep Do We Know?" 

I'm periodically asked if I've seen this movie and/or been influenced by it, since my worldview blends physics with metaphysics; I've also been accused several times of having garnered/stolen my entire spiritual belief system from it, which, although a rude and ugly thing to suggest, always amused me because I'd never SEEN the movie... and enjoyed telling the accusers so. It's also amusing how people can be so eager to be insulting that they don't take the time to make SENSE; after all:

(A) People don't get their spirituality from movies.

(B) There's no actual belief system put forth in this movie.

(C) My beliefs bear little resemblance to what's said in it.

How do I know the last 2 things? Because I've finally seen it, thanks to Blockbuster... and am at a loss as to what the fuss is all about, either + or -, because there's not much to it. The movie is a bunch of disconnected quotes from scientists, vague mystical ideas, and a great deal of odd special effects; it's also full of utter nonsense, like about how you "can't see" a thing if you're not familiar with it (and I mean PHYSICAL things, NOT esoteric concepts), which any child knows is NOT the case, and how water crystallizes differently if certain words are wrapped around containers of it, which would be VERY easy to prove scientifically if true but significantly has NOT been either tested or proved.

Given the accusations, I expected elaborate descriptions of the workings of the engine of karma to be shown, but this concept, the one on which my spirituality IS based, is never even mentioned, nor are ANY of the associated concepts I've discovered or incorporated. Yes, the movie mentions quantum physics and ideas that are mystical/metaphysical in nature, but those things cover alot of ground... heck, they didn't even mention string theory, which sort of negates their having a remotely similar science/spirituality connection to mine, and is, when you think about, a very odd thing for them to NOT include.

I find it vaguely scary that, by suggesting that this movie "must be" the source of my spiritual ideas, a person would have to be assuming that this is the 1st time that the connection has been made between physics and metaphysics... despite the fact that Jung, for example, saw it and wrote about it nearly half a century ago, and despite it being a fairly obvious connection to make for anyone who reads about quantum or theoretical physics, whether or not they use that thought as the basis for their spirituality.

Anyways, the movie was vaguely entertaining, but what little truth it contained is old hat for me; the primary value of having seen it will be an enhanced ability to rebut the next accusation that my in-depth spiritual analysis bears any resemblance to it.

Just FYI; to the best of my knowledge, no one, NO ONE, but me possesses my exact belief system, or even more than bits and pieces of it. If you've ever wondered how I come up with all this stuff, rest assured that it's all based on my own experiences, my studies of science, a sprinkling of interesting ideas picked up from different sources, and a great deal of skull sweat. Is it possible that it's all wrong? Sure... but either way, it's all MINE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How can we test telepathy? 

Thanks to seeing the story of the telepathic parrot (see my post of 6-19-05), I've been thinking about how human telepathy works, and why attempts to "prove" it have been spotty at best; the short answer is, the tests used, without exception, fail to mimic the circumstances that nature developed this ability to be used for... it's as if aliens landed and wanted to test our ability to move ourselves from place to place by asking us to flap our arms and fly.

Mother Nature gave us telepathic ability for the same reason she gave us every other ability; because it provided us with a survival advantage... and that advantage does NOT come from being able to reach out and "read" whatever and whoever we want at will, or to see minute details, so why do people expect psychics to be able to do those things, and why does every test of telepathic powers include them? From where comes the dead-wrong assumption that if you have any telepathic ability at all, it means that you can do things like read playing cards that a random tester is looking at, which has no connection whatsoever to survival, and thus to what we were designed to perceive? Most telepathy that I've heard about from reasonably trustworthy people doesn't involve sight at all, just a sudden surge of knowledge, so why does testing always focus on visuals, on people trying to send and receive images? Am I the only person who realizes that when they say, in essence, "It's just a coincidence that you knew the exact moment your sister was in a car crash, and the exact parts of her body that were injured, because we did a bunch of tests with the Zener ESP cards


that show abstract symbols that didn't even EXIST in the world of early humans, and didn't find anyone able to do better than random chance with them," that they're comparing apples to oranges, or rather apples to elephants?

Telepathy emerged to bring us information that could protect our lives and those closest to us (who can in turn help us survive, and probably also share the DNA that we're biologically programmed to perpetuate); the element of telepathy that's to our biggest and primary advantage is the one I used above, the one you non-coincidentally hear about the most... the ability to know if a loved one is in extreme pain and/or emotional distress (think how many times you've heard people report being hit like lightning with the certainty that a loved one has been hurt, or even has died). Primitive humans depended on their little family groups for their lives, therefore it was clearly to their benefit to know if something had gone very wrong with one of those individuals, so that they could offer help, escape a similar fate, prevent their children from meeting that fate, or all 3; the catch is that if it goes much beyond that, if everyone were getting signals all the time, they'd be overwhelmed... we already screen out the vast majority of sensory input that we take in, and if we had input regularly coming from other people our minds couldn't handle it, and in fact would likely automatically block it... and come to think of it, that may be WHY we don't pick up readings from people that often, because our minds are designed to block all but the most powerful (eg emotionally charged with feelings like pain and fear), and thus important, readings.

If we want to do VALID testing for telepathy, we have to replicate the circumstances it was designed to work in as closely as possible. First, we need to pair the test subject with a loved one, the closer to them the better; twins, mother and child, or siblings close in age (and probably of the same gender) would seem to be the best bets... forget using a stranger to "project" information, or expecting folks to read what's on the other side of a piece of cardboard. The next part is trickier; obviously, we don't want to kill or harm anyone, and it'd be unethical to subject a person to, say, a non-injurious level of electric shock even if they were willing to endure it, so how do we create the intense emotional state generally necessary for someone to project a telepathic signal, and what sort of signal can we send... which of the 5 senses would be the most effective? The best I've been able to come up with is to have the prospective "sender" watch a really scary movie, to get their adrenaline pumping and their brain buzzing, and then surprise them with a stimulus of some sort; grab them from behind, yell in their ear, or, if all else fails, I guess we'd have to fall back on them sending images, but images of simple, natural things, NOT complex scenes or abstract symbols... maybe we could stick a big pic of an attacking lion in front of them and play a loud lion's roar at the same time? Assuming that things were set up so that the prospective receiver had absolutely no chance of seeing or hearing the sender or what was going on with them, if the randomly-done attempted sends caused a simultaneous reaction in the receiver even some of the time, we'd have some concrete proof at last; this is still so far from creating the actual circumstances under which telepathy usually works that it may be doomed... it's like trying to test how we can get superhuman strength and lift cars off of our kids when their lives are in danger-nothing producible in the lab could generate that sort of emotional intensity, or the corresponding adrenaline boost.

Still, we should TRY; we can't go around patting ourselves on the back about how self-aware we are compared to other animals if we can't even figure out the extent of our own abilities.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Musings on the Mafia 

I'll never get answers to any of these questions, because nothing on this Earth could induce me to get near enough to killers to ask them anything, but they're still worth contemplating:

Is there any shred of similarity between how wiseguys are portrayed in movies


and what they're really like, I mean other than very basic things like them being Italian and criminals? We Americans find them glamorous and fascinating, to our everlasting shame, but are they REALLY more so than any bunch of thugs that operate in this country who're NOT being the theme in a steady stream of films and HBO series, or is that just the myth that's inexplicably developed around them?

Very few Mafiosos die of old age... so why does anyone not born into one of the families ever even THINK of joining? Can people really believe themselves to be so invincible that they're certain they'll have a long and happy life in La Cosa Nostra?

Tangentially, why would anyone enter into any sort of business agreement with a Mafia family? I don't mean the businesses that're forced into paying protection $, I mean the accountants, lawyers and others who could choose to NOT take dirty $ but don't make that choice. Is there anyone whose stress level is so low in the fast-paced modern world that they need to have that constant fear of ending up dead, or wishing they were dead, because they ticked off some guy in a shiny suit whose last name ends with a vowel?

And the really big one; knowing that the Mafia will pursue anyone who steals from them until the end of time, with a hideous death to follow in the very likely event that the thief is found, why, WHY, is anyone stupid enough to cook the books or hold $ back or in any other way appropriate their funds? If you've got a death wish, there've gotta be easier ways of fulfilling it; what's the psychology of those who convince themselves that they're going to cheat the Mafia and get away with it?

I'd be interested to know how Mafia types see US. Do they view everyone outside their circle as weak, foolish, maybe less than human? Are they amused or disgusted at our obsession with them, or just indifferent? Do they ever wish they had normal lives and could hang around with us, or would they never want to mingle with us even if they could?

What's it like to be one of them, to be inside their heads? How do they incorporate thoughts of who they're going to murder that day with their mental reminders to pick up their dry cleaning and buy some wine for dinner? How little of an excuse do they generally think they need to kill someone... how do they reason through the pros and cons of, say, blowing away someone who gets into a fender bender with them? Are there certain crimes that're beneath them, such as stealing a pack of gum? How do they view women other than their sainted mothers, when the women they get to know tend to be from Mafia families, or prostitutes? Given their patriarchal-ness, do they automatically look down women? Do they have female lawyers, for example, or do they only trust men? Do any of them watch cartoons, or eat Captain Crunch, or are they all "dead serious" because of what they do for a living? Are they allowed any individuality, like if one of them loved rap and wanted to dress accordingly, could they do that, or is there an explicit rule for everything... or a desire to all be alike? Do any of them enjoy things like fine art and poetry, or is that sort of appreciation unable to coexist with the necessity of being a killer?

I guess it all boils down to; how does their psychology differ from that of ordinary people? What's the mentality of a member of a group dedicated to a rule of terror, not from a military or political standpoint, not in reaction to poverty and deprivation, but because... I can't even give a because, other than the desire of evil to express itself. Is that why this has been in the back of my mind all day, because I've finally noticed that with evil people of any variety we only hear about what makes them do violent, anti-social things, and nothing about how their minds work in general? Why do we think we can figure them out without the big picture? To understand the nature of evil, you need to know more than just what might have led directly to them doing evil deeds, you need to know everything about how being evil (not crazy, which complicates things, but "just evil") makes a person different in EVERY aspect of mental functioning from a normal person; is this why evil so often goes unchecked, because we simply don't understand evil people and so can't outthink them?

As far as I know, no study's been done about that sort of thing; isn't that odd, when you think of it? And a little scary...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Father's Day 

This one's a toughie; my father is a genuinely sick and evil person, who was pretty grim during my early childhood, and by the time I was 12 had decided that I was a "monster not fit for human company" and treated me accordingly. Still, only a 2-dimensional comic book villain never has a single positive moment ever, and here's what I've come up with:

We were at a mall shopping for Christmas gifts for my mother, and he was inexplicably willing to go into a t-shirt shop; I can't remember how it happened, but he ended up buying me a t-shirt, which he said he'd "surprise Mom" with by putting it under the tree for me... and that was probably the 1st cool shirt I ever had.

There was a Mexican restaurant that we used to go to that had a blended fruit drink (licuado) that, because it cost more than the soda I'd usually have, my mother didn't want me to get, despite it having nutritional content that a parent should WANT a kid to consume, and my father voted her down, admonishing her to "not be cheap about food," and to let me have it.

I could only think of one more, but it's a biggie, because he actually went well out of his way for me; in the days before we had a VCR (we were the last people in the Western hemisphere to get one), there was a very special program that was coming on towards the end of a school day that I was naturally still desperate to see. The timing of the show was such that all I had to do to see it was leave school during last period, which was study hall, so I wouldn't miss any classes... but my mother refused to come and get me early. I was willing to part with some of my precious birthday and Christmas $ from my grandparents to pay a senior to drive me home, but my mother declared them unable to safely drive a child around (despite the DMV thinking differently), and vetoed that as well. There was no public transportation available, and a cab ride was outside my reach, so I was out of luck, as always... until I saw my father walk into the library. Once the shock wore off enough for me to move my legs, I gathered up my books, went home with him and watched the show, which was frankly enhanced by my mother hanging around with her lower lip out, sulking because she'd failed to prevent me from seeing the show and him from taking an action against her wishes.

He didn't manage to carry off the day perfectly, as he lied to my mother and told her that I'd been "rolling around on the floor" with my boyfriend when he showed up, which, ignoring the fact that it would NEVER occur to me to do anything that would surely get me in trouble, was physically impossible in the narrow walkway we and a bunch of other kids were lined up along the floor in, AND we were under the ever-watchful eyes of several adults at all times, who could hardly be imagined to be willing to ever let us do such a thing even if it WERE possible; fortunately, my mother was a library volunteer, and, although she automatically discounted any protestation of innocence I ever made, she knew that what he was claiming simply could never have happened, but he sure TRIED to convince her otherwise. Why he'd make such an outrageous accusation on a day he'd felt kindly enough towards me to make a once in a lifetime effort on my behalf is best left to psychologists; what's most astonishing was that he made the effort itself.

If YOUR father made at least a cursory effort to raise you decently, I hope you showed him a little love today; if you yourself are a father, I hope you're making sure YOUR kids never have to make posts like this, and that your Father's Day made you feel happy to be a dad.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Crunches and the telepathic parrot 

I think that may qualify as my coolest title ever.

Something happened tonight that's left me spooked and distracted. I did 1500 abdominal crunches (no, that's not a typo-not bad for a woman pushing middle age, don't you think?), which is my normal #, and towards the end my lower back was feeling sort of odd, but I wasn't paying attention, as the crunches kill my neck and I have to focus on holding it steady to minimize the pain. When I was done, I stood up, and discovered to my dismay that my lower back was NUMB, and that pins and needles were shooting down my backside, which was also a little numb. I've never had any hint of this happen before, and it's making me nervous, because I don't know if I'm suddenly pressing on a nerve the wrong way or some such thing, or if next time it'll be worse, or if I'm doing actual damage, or... well, I can come up with all sorts of scary scenarios, but I'm going to stay rational and try to find a site that lets you ask exercise-related medical questions and see what I can figure out.

Also tonight, there was a Jane Goodall special on Animal Planet called "When Animals Talk," which featured, among other interesting critters (such as giant rats that locate land mines), an African gray parrot called N'Kisi, who has a vocabulary of 1077 words, speaks in sentences, and shows the ability I've read of before in parrots to demonstrate that he knows what the words he's using mean (see the article "Polly Wanna Ph.D.?" in the January 2000 issue of Discover)... all of which pales beside what double-blind testing (using photos in sealed, unlabeled envelopes) shows is an astounding ability to know what's in his owner's mind:



They did full-on scientific testing here, and N'Kisi wildly outperformed what he could have done by random chance, even though, being an animal that couldn't understand that he was being tested, he tended to chatter on about things other than what they wanted him to focus on when they were doing some of the tests. Makes you wonder if maybe some of the other people who think their pets are reading their minds might be onto something; after all, it'd be pretty odd if only this one creature had developed telepathy... that'd be a heck of a mutation. From my own experience as an animal communicator, I know that we humans can pick up on their mental state, and send simple commands, but it's fascinating to have some scientific confirmation that they can read US.

Goodall's explanation of why an animal might have telepathic ability will sound familiar to my long-time readers; since a creature's survival depends in large part on its ability to sense what's going on around it, and with its fellow creatures, telepathy would have clear benefits. Maybe we'll see some more tests being done on telepathic animals now that they've achieved such impressive results, and maybe, just maybe, that'll lead to some brave scientist somewhere being willing to do some real testing on humans, not with nonsense like trying to guess playing cards, which involves tiny, precise details that our telepathy would NOT be designed to pick up (as that sort of thing would NOT confer an additional survival advantage), but with simple photographic images sent between, say, twins, or mothers and children ... and who knows what they might discover we're able to do if they just TRY.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How honest should you be? 

The sad truth is; not very.

I read an article today that claimed that people who sucked up at job interviews were far more likely to get hired than those who spoke, GASP, about their qualifications for the job; pretending that you think the company and/or the interviewer are wonderful wins over, not just being open and honest, but over what's supposed to be the procedure for being interviewed... and let's not forget that that procedure is itself often filled with gross distortions of the truth, with successful liars having a better chance at being hired than if they'd been honest.

A movie I saw a few days ago included women talking about how it was necessary to lie about how many men they'd had sex with to their current men, because no man wants a woman who's had too many partners, or more partners than he's had... and then went on to cover how men lie about THEIR # of sex partners to seem more studly.

These things made me remember something in Discover, from the R&D section of the October 2002 issue, called "Lies and Nothing but the Lies";

"Our penchant for bending truth is so pervasive that we delude even ourselves, says Robert S. Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He and his colleagues videotaped 121 pairs of unacquainted college students during 10-minute introductory conversations. The researchers then asked one student from each pair to watch the tape and report every instance in which he or she had lied. Before viewing the tapes, most of the subjects said they had been completely honest. But faced with the evidence, 60 percent realized they had fibbed at least once. Those who lied did so three times per conversation, on average, with one subject squeezing in 12. 'We were surprised that the level of lying was quite high-and so were the students,' Feldman says. He also found that men and women lied at roughly the same rate but apparently for different reasons. 'Women tended to lie in order to make the people they were talking to feel better about themselves. Men tended to lie to make themselves look better,' he says. One male student told a woman he was the lead singer in a rock band that had just signed a recording contract, although the band did not exist. The research has made Feldman wary of day-to-day conversation: 'I'm more skeptical about what I hear, and I'm much more sensitive to what I say.'"

So, even in casual conversation, lying is more likely to happen than not, even if we aren't aware of doing it... and when we do something automatically in social situations, it's usually a sign that it's what we as a culture subconsciously see as "correct" behavior.

Then, there are the endless lies that we ARE conscious of; if our opinion is sought about something personal to the questioner, we'll usually lie if we don't consider whatever it is to be genuinely praiseworthy, whether the subject is a new haircut or sexual technique. When we're trying to get people to like us, we pretend to agree with what they say and to enjoy what they enjoy. When we speak to people in authority, we tell them what we think they want to hear. When we're trying to get an ambivalent person into bed, we'll say ANYTHING.

We SAY we value honesty, but the truth is that if we were ACTUALLY honest with the people in our lives, I mean 100% honest, we'd be resented and disliked by everyone, including those who've said that "honesty is the best policy" all their lives, and if the people in our lives were 100% honest with US, we'd be devastated and outraged by what we'd learn, and shun them as a reward for their honesty.

People don't really want to hear the truth, they want to be told whatever will make them feel good... and that's exactly what you'll tell them, for the most part, if you want to get ahead at work, get along with your family, have friends, and have a romantic partner who's willing to sleep with you.

Is that why some of us, especially those who, like me, keep their identities a secret, have blogs... so that we have somewhere we can pass along our truth to other members of the human race without negative repercussions in our lives? Hmmmmmmmm...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Another way I differ; perceived value 

One of the countless ways that my psychology differs from that of the rest of the human race (if this were a movie, that line would be moving you towards grasping that I'm actually an alien planted here on Earth for probably evil purposes, but that's not what it means here, honest) is the way any sacrifices I make to obtain something, whether object or goal, affect the value I place on whatever it is... and, as always, it greatly puzzled me when I discovered how everyone else looked at it.

If you're normal (and granted, the fact that you read my blog means you might not be, lol), if you purchase something with your own $, especially $ you worked for, you value it more than if it were given to you, and if you invest significant time and effort into achieving a goal, you value it more than if you just lucked into it.

I, on the other hand, was excited to learn the term "opportunity cost" in economics class in college, because it meant that one of my most basic principles had an actual name; the concept is that every choice you make means that you lose out on all the other choices you could have made, in other words all the other ways you could have spent your time, effort and $. I'm sure you've figured out how that applies to the topic; from my earliest childhood, if I had to pay my own $ for something, I suffered endless agony over all the things I COULD have had with that $ and never would, and so of course valued something given to me MORE than one I paid for, as the given thing meant that I still had that $, and I likewise valued things I got effortlessly more than those I had to work for, because the former meant that I hadn't given up any of my limited time and energy to get something, and the latter meant that I HAD.

But, didn't I FEEL anything, such as excitement or pride, when I'd earned $ or achieved a goal, to make me value the end results? I was brought up to believe that everything I did fell under the heading of the minimum that was expected of me, not as praiseworthy or even noteworthy, so I viewed anything produced by my toil about like a military trainee feels after digging a hole as punishment; worn out by the effort, not seeing anything to brag about, and probably got alot of abuse along the way. These days, I might feel a vague satisfaction when I accomplish something, and sometimes I'm briefly excited when something at the far edge of my abilities works out, but all of that pales beside how happy I WOULD have been if someone else had come along and done it all for me.

Now, if only someone could read my mind and type up my blog entries for me... ;-)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A lesson in psychology from "Beauty and the Geek" 

This series continues to be interesting. In tonight's episode, they showed another romantic attachment forming, just as I predicted; the guy used the massage techniques they'd been taught to relieve the tension and back pain of one of the girls, with them alone in a bedroom and her lying down on the bed, and what usually happens under those circumstances happened... they started sharing a sense of intimacy.

What was really exciting, though, was what I learned about human behavior; have you ever wondered why some people, especially men, with poor social skills seem to go out of their way to make matters worse by being loud, rude, pushy, bossy, or just plain manic, often done in a way that implies that they think they're doing a Robin Williams imitation, although they have only his freneticism, not his funniness? I've always seen a variety of possible reasons for this; desire for attention, immaturity, lack of understanding of what others find appealing, trying too hard and overshooting the mark, burning off nervous energy... and I still think that these sorts of things are probably present to some degree in most of these cases, but when one of the geeks explained why one of his fellow geeks was acting this way, I instantly understood that he'd nailed it, as only an "insider" could. He said something along the lines of:

"It's better to be a buffoon and think that people are disliking you because of that, than to be yourself and have to accept that people dislike you for who you actually are."

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I used to feel somewhat impatient with this type of person, realizing that they'd be better liked and accepted if they made no effort than all that negative effort... but now, I feel really sorry for them.

If you, or someone you know, has adopted that method to shield yourself from the dislike of others, here's my advice; yes, if you're socially awkward, physically unattractive (it's hard for a good-looking person to NOT learn social skills, since they're in such high demand), and intelligent, yes, some people will automatically dislike you, and there's no point in telling you to not take it personally, because often it IS personal... but it's not going to kill you, and after a while you'll barely notice, so give up the used car salesman routine and just be yourself, and you'll be disliked overall by FAR fewer people than currently. Even better, if people like you, they'll be liking the REAL you, not the goofy persona... and isn't that what it's all about?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A different life 

Is it human nature to wish we had totally different lives... at least some of the time? I don't suppose a dog wishes he lived in some other house, or a bear wishes he lived in some other forest, but we humans seem perpetually dissatisfied with our lives, even though in America nearly every one of us has a life that 99% of the people who've ever lived would do ANYTHING to have.

We all fantasize about being rich, famous, sexually irresistible, etc, but that's not what I mean about different lives; I mean when we think about having a realistic life, just not the one we have. It seems like everyone I know periodically says something about wishing they had a life that bears little resemblance to the one they're blessed with; they might keep their same loved ones in this other life, but they'd work less, play more, have less stress, more $, live in the country rather than the city, or the city rather than the country, be running marathons instead of being coach potatoes... all stuff that's possible, but that they don't think they can get from where they are.

My husband, for example, has dreams of living out in the country, despite the fact that the 1st time he realized that it'd take a 2-hour round-trip drive to get to an electronics store, a Thai restaurant, or a supermarket that sells blue corn tortilla chips, not to mention that we probably couldn't have DSL or digital cable, he'd be scrambling back to the city... and more to the point, he's far too lazy to do the upkeep work on the acres of land he envisions our home being on, or to care for the farm animals he imagines having.

I'm sure that some people's other-life dreams are similarly bad fits for their personalities, but I'm curious about the rest; if there's another way to live that's attainable by you, or at least mostly so, why not go for it? And; if you had that life, would you be fantasizing about the one you have now? Is it just that humans always think the grass is greener, that we're never satisfied?

All of this came into my mind today while watching an episode of "Twilight Zone," the one where the actor believes himself to be the man whose life he's portraying in a movie; dissatisfied with wealth, fame and a glamorous ex-wife, he longs to be a simple businessman with a regular family, and wills the movie set to become real... and when the wife from the movie shows up, he hustles her out of his "office" before it can change back into a set, vanishing from our reality into the one he's created with his thoughts.

There are several other episodes of "Twilight Zone" that deal with being able to get a very different life; a bored millionaire goes back a few decades to the time of his youth with the help of the devil (played by Julie Newmar!!), a time-travel helmet takes men between a recent time and a while ago, with dissatisfaction all around, and a harassed man dreams of a simpler time and a town called Willoughby that doesn't actually exist, but that he reaches anyways when... well, I won't give it away, as that one's too good to not see it without knowing the kicker. Interesting, isn't it, how the earlier, simpler time seems to be the goal more often than not? Is there something in us that rebels against our ever more complicated, mechanized, computerized lives, which we're not remotely biologically programmed to live, or is it just that life in the past was different than life now?

Are we too far from our true nature... or just a contrary species... or both?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Medical surprises from Discover 

You've probably read many times that there's no such thing as an aphrodisiac, that people who think that consuming a given thing boosts their libidos are just experiencing the placebo effect or wishful thinking, that all the things that people have believed for centuries were having an effect were just the result of thousands of people fooling themselves... and now, from the June 2005 issue of Discover, page 11, comes the following:

"Oysters do boost the libido, say U.S. and Italian chemists. They find the shellfish are rich in rare amino acids that, especially when eaten raw, trigger an increase in sex hormones."

Just watch, it's only a matter of time before other supposed aphrodisiacs are also found to contain something that boosts libido; this is yet another case of the arrogance of scientists who figure that if they haven't found proof that something works yet, it in fact doesn't work, no matter how many people say otherwise from personal experience.

The BIG surprise in this issue was from an article entitled "Discover Dialogue: Physician Nortin Hadler, The Doctor Who Doesn't Check His Cholesterol":

"For three decades Nortin Hadler, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been rigorously examining statistics generated by his medical colleagues' practices and arriving at startling conclusions about their effectiveness... He has also taken on heart treatment, testifying before Congress and the Social Security Advisory Board and publishing papers arguing that very little data back up the value of modern treatments like bypass surgery and angioplasty."

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!! These VERY serious medical procedures, which we've been led to believe are not only beneficial but necessary, are being done withOUT there being all sorts of proof that they do what we think they do? :-O

When the interviewer asks him, "Under what circumstances do you think bypass surgery is appropriate?," his reply is:

"None... there's only one subset of the population that's been proved to derive a meaningful benefit from the surgery, and that's people with a critical defect of the left main coronary artery who also have angina. If you take 100 60-year-old men with angina, only 3 of them will have that defect."

Alot more than 3% of those men are being given the surgery, though... major, MAJOR surgery, when there's almost no chance of it helping them. That's absolutely terrifying.

What about the many people who've had the surgery who claim it's helped them? Hold onto your hats:

"In one controlled trial of surgery for angina, half the people with the condition underwent an operation in which doctors merely made a skin incision and closed it up; in the other half, the patients had a particular kind of bypass. The numbers from each group whose symptoms were significantly alleviated were about the same. Angina is particularly susceptible to the placebo effect because the anticipation of pain adds to the intermittency of it."

Is it just me, or does this seem INSANE? Why have I never heard this before, why didn't they scream loud enough for every one of us to hear that the surgery didn't do any more than a placebo? And it gets worse:

"Even if surgery could be proved to alleviate the discomfort, you'd have to consider if that offsets the risks of bypass surgery-about half the patients suffer severe depression after the surgery, a third suffer measurable memory loss, and many never go back to work again. Then there are the added risks of any major surgery."

Given all of this, why are they still doing these surgeries at all, much less as a standard treatment? WHY?

And guess what else is apparently a waste of time? When asked, "why do you object to the widespread prescription of statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs?," he replied:

"In men with normal cholesterol levels, the risk of death for those between ages 45 and 65 over the course of the next five years is only a fraction of 1 percent lower than it is for men with high serum cholesterol in the same category. The most thorough study to date had some 3,000 men with 'high' cholesterol levels take a statin every day for five years, while 3,000 similar men took a placebo. When all was said and done, there was no difference in cardiovascular deaths between the two groups."

No difference. We've been whipped into a frenzy about our cholesterol levels, good cholesterol, bad, HDL, LDL, the whole 9 yards, for many years now, and... no difference. This ties in with something I've read several times; that high cholesterol does NOT cause heart disease, that there's never been any actual proof that it does.

Still, they prescribe like mad, and again we have to ask; why? Heinlein used to say that the answer to "Why do they?" is almost always "Money"; when Dr. Hadler was asked, "If the data are not prompting so much interventional cardiology, what is?," he answered:

"Money. Interventional cardiology is what supports almost every hospital in America-it's an enormous part of our gross domestic product. Every year in this country we do about half a million bypass grafts and 650,000 coronary angioplasties, with the mean cost of the procedures ranging from $28,000 to $60,000. There are a lot of people involved in this transfer of wealth. But no Western European nation has such a high rate of those procedures-and their longevity is higher than ours."

Greedy doctors, greedy hospitals... that's the one thing about all this that's NOT a surprise.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Odds and ends 

And now we've reached the part of our program where I disgorge bits and pieces that are worth a mention but not complex enough to merit a full post:

First and foremost: my squirrel came back!!!! My husband spotted her and called me; by the time I got there, she'd scampered most of the way to a tree (she doesn't like him very much, and will sometimes run if she sees or hears him), but I saw enough to know it was her and not one of the babies (who are smaller and much slimmer), so I know she's alive and in good condition... she couldn't run and climb like that if she wasn't. I don't know if she's only going to visit sporadically, or if she's lost her tameness, or what else might be up, but as long as she's still here that's enough for now.

There's a show on Oxygen called "Talk Sex With Sue Johanson"; Ms. Johanson is a somewhat elderly woman... and isn't that what you expected? After all, what other kind of person could do a sex-talk show? An older MAN would be seen as a dirty old man. A younger man would put off men because of the idea of homosexuality, and put off women because of discomfort with sharing with a man, and suspicion of his motives. A younger woman would be someone that women feel competitive with and men want to impress rather than confide in. Is it a coincidence that the most famous sex therapist of all times, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, is a wizened little gnome of a woman?

And finally, a tidbit from Joel Osteen: In a past sermon, he talked about how God "can't" do good things for you if you're holding on to the hurt and pain of bad things that happened to you in the past (see my post of 8-16-04); tonight, he said that if you feel jealousy of, or even fail to feel happiness for, those people who seem to be getting all the goodies (even if undeservedly), God "can't" give you what you want... again, we have from him the karmic idea that radiating negative energy of ANY kind blocks good things from getting to you (and of course can bring the bad ones), and that radiating positive energy draws good stuff to you-kinda cool from a minister, don't you think?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

"Embrace Diversity" 

You've probably noticed a little something new in my upper right corner; I saw one like it, but with a different message, on someone's blog, followed the link to where you can get the so-called "webbands" of different kinds


and chose the one that I thought both looked the best with my minimalist decor and had the message I liked the best. I enjoy the thought of such a positive message being one of the 1st things a visitor to my blog will notice, and it'll give people who're surfing via "Next Blog" a little pause... especially since it overlaps that button and keeps it from being usable, lol.

Believe it or not, I don't have a story about how I struggled to get it to work; I copied the code as directed, and it worked perfectly the 1st time... who said miracles don't happen? ;-)

One of the greatest things about America is the access most of us have to diversity; it's also one of the best things about the internet. It's always amazed me when people fight AGAINST diversity; women who complain when men don't act according to female standards, men who do the same with women, people of every religion who can't stand it if someone worships a different deity (or none), or even worships the same deity in a different way, people who think that a trivial thing like skin color is so important that they'll hate people of a different color, people who think that anyone whose ancestors didn't live on the same patch of dirt that theirs did is to be disliked and distrusted, and, perhaps most astonishing, people who can't bear the thought that what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms might be different than what they do... what possible justification, moral, ethical or even intellectual, can there possibly be for having any of these attitudes?

Diversity doesn't just mean differences in big things like religion or race; it also means being different in the little details of our lives. I think one of the reasons that people from other countries see Americans as childish is that as a culture we're mired in the teenage idea that we're all supposed to be alike; if someone wears different clothes, or styles their hair a different way, than the current fashion, we gossip and snicker as much as any high school student ever did. Once a new gadget becomes popular, anyone who doesn't have it is looked at askance, as if they didn't really belong in our society; as someone who refuses to get a cell phone, I can tell you that people act as if their lives can't roll smoothly on if I don't do everything they're doing... again, a totally teenage attitude. Embracing diversity applies at this level, too; it means letting people live their own lives, without taking it personally if they make different choices, and, and here's the kicker, realizing that unless some people dare to be different, new ideas will have a hard time making it into the public consciousness... and every advance we make, whether in art, science, politics or whatever, starts with a new and different idea, put forth by someone who's a little different than the rest of us.

What a bland, boring world this would be if we were all alike, or even if we were significantly more alike than we currently are. Diversity gives us many kinds of food, art, dance, music and other products of different cultures and experiences. Diversity gives us more paths to science, philosophy and spirituality. Diversity gives us an infinite # of different ways to be beautiful. Diversity is absolutely, positively, incontrovertibly a GOOD thing, and therefore we SHOULD embrace it as the enhancement to our lives that it truly is.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A rebuttal to skeptics 

I finally saw "Before Sunset" today, and in it there was a mention of something Einstein had said about the importance of "magic and mystery"; this naturally intrigued me, so I did a search, and finally came up with what I think is the quote that was being referred to:

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery--even if mixed with fear--that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man."

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh..... :-)

That quote is one of several translations of what he actually said, so we can't get too sucked into a word-by-word analysis, but think about what he's saying in general; that the mysterious (aka the unknown) is the basis of everything that we can discover or create, that if you can't perceive it you're not truly seeing, that our perception of the unknown is the basis for religion, and that his own religious feeling is based in it... this from the man who had arguably the greatest mind in human history.

This is where skeptics, and those in general that don't think anything exists beyond the matter and energies detectable by science, get stalled in their grasp of reality; they ignore the simple facts that we possess primitive senses that evolved to help us find food and mates and avoid predators and other dangers, NOT to perceive the fabric of existence or many of the things that make it up, and that our scientific instruments, far from showing that we now know everything that exists, prove that many things exist that we can't perceive with our senses, and that as time passes we're able to perceive more and more things that were always there, beyond our reach. These deluded folks point to science, and then ignore how wildly what science tells us is true has changed over the years and is continuing to change, and proclaim with arrogance and, let's face it, stupidity, that anything that hasn't already been discovered via science doesn't exist.

Even if I personally hadn't had many experiences with the unknown, I hope that I'm intellectually honest enough at my core to be certain that *I* wouldn't take that path, and would instead admit that we must be certain that we WILL keep finding ways to perceive things that we currently can't, that eventually other things will be shown to exist, just as radio waves and such have already been... that we do NOT know it all, and thus that when we sum up reality, we MUST include some element of the unknown to allow for future discoveries.

If you want to understand everything that is, as opposed to just chanting "no no no" about anything you can't see proof of rightthisminute, it's absolutely crucial to keep an open mind, because it's not likely that every aspect of existence will show up on your doorstep and reveal itself to you, or will be proven to exist by science in your lifetime; it may not be possible for us to grasp The Truth while bound by physical brains, but if you want to get as close as humanly possible you have to start by accepting that whatever you currently believe is an accurate analysis of the universe is almost certainly wrong, because you haven't seen it all yet... and then, you have to will yourself, FORCE yourself, to start seeing, and believe me that's not always easy (my "conversion" to accepting that animism exists is a good example; see my post of 3-16-04).

The thing that helped me let go of the idea that nothing other than "scientific reality" and those unknowns I'd personally experienced up to that point (ghosts and psychic phenomena) exist was a concept put forth in the movie "Contact"; the religious guy tells the scientist something along the lines of that she can't be the representative of the human race because 95% of people believe in something religious/spiritual, and she doesn't, and for her to think that nearly the entire human race is deluded and she's in the right meant that she was too arrogant to go on the mission... WOW!! This made me take a close look at what I believed, and made me realize that for any unknowns to exist there has to be a framework for them, they had to be made of something, guided by principles of some kind, tied into each other and physical reality in some way... in other words, there had to be a religious, spiritual or metaphysical backdrop for the things I knew to exist.

So here I am, forcing my mind open every day to see what drops in, blogging my way ever closer to... whatever it is I'm going to find out.

I challenge YOU to take your personal grasp of reality, of The Truth, as far as you can take it; be hardheaded, yes, be a doubter, don't believe everything you read, not even on this bog (you don't know me personally, so why should you believe anything just because *I* say it's true?), but if you or anyone you trust has had any experience beyond scientific explanation (if they haven't already revealed anything of this sort to you, ASK), and it's almost certain that one or more people you know HAVE had brushes with the unknown, take those things as a starting point for your own explanation of how the universe works. Try to describe reality in a way that includes all the unknowns provided for you as part of the whole, as they MUST of course be. See what you come up with... and don't forget to post it on your blog.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Lessons from "Everybody Loves Raymond" 

One of the things that made this one of the funniest shows of all times is that the writers had a solid grasp of human nature, and are able to show us things that seem extra-funny because they really nail how people think, feel and act. Today, they showed some classic manipulator ploys:

The manipulator (Peter), showed up at the home of his sister (Amy) and her still-new husband (Robert), and... never left. Manipulators realize that regular folks find it almost impossible to say "Get out" or "Stop it," and thus that they can just show up wherever they want to be and do whatever they feel like doing, knowing that no one is willing to point out that they're making life unpleasant for others.

Peter cooks some food and washes some dishes... and gets Amy to give him not only Robert's shirt, but his underwear as well (much to Robert's dismay). Manipulators realize that if they do a couple of nice things, they can use that as currency to get all sorts of stuff that they want, including things that aren't reasonable for them to have.

Here's the big one; Robert and Amy have a movie date planned with Ray and Debra, and when the latter couple shows up, Peter acts as if it's a given that he's invited (which is itself a manipulator ploy), and, when Robert informs him otherwise, he turns to Ray and Debra and asks if THEY have a problem with him going... asks smugly and pointedly, KNOWING that there's not one person in a million who's able to say something like, "Yes, I have a problem with you coming along" to anyone's face, and thus that Ray and Debra would say they had no problem with him going even though of course they did. This allowed Peter to turn on Robert and announce, "It looks like it's just YOU that have a problem with me going," which makes Robert look like this mean person who isn't doing what the others want, with the added benefit of forcing him to protest in his own defense, which in turn makes people see him as defenSIVE, and thus somehow in the wrong, when in fact he's defendING, a totally different thing... a true manipulator's masterstroke.

In a recent episode, light was shed on a mysterious manipulator pattern; why verbal attackers will so often tell an intelligent person that they're stupid, or someone with a particular skill that they're bad at that thing, when those specific slights are glaringly untrue (see my post of 7-21-04) and so seem like they couldn't possibly have any impact on the intended victim. Robert pulled a trick on Ray and Debra that was part of his police training; he gave them alleged intelligence tests, and then told them, 1st that Debra had scored higher than Ray, which we of course expected as she's clearly the smarter one, and then later on that he did the scoring wrong, and Ray's score was the higher of the 2. This revelation caused Debra to go to pieces, which it turns out was the entire point of the trick, which teaches police officers that to break through a person's defenses you attack whatever it is that they base their sense of self most strongly on.. which shows why attackers use this ploy, and why it usually works.

A stunning example of this concept in action came on an ad I saw for the new season of "The Real Gilligan's Island." I'd seen a piece of the 1st episode, enough to grasp that some of the contestants don't like one of the Mary Anns, a woman who, as one might imagine, is beautiful with a dead-perfect body (on which she wears nearly nothing); in the ad, these folks are shown going on and on about a tiny mole she has between her eyebrows, and how it's driving them crazy, and they just can't stand it... in other words, they've zeroed in on the only element of what we know is the biggest deal about her, her looks, that can remotely be construed as a flaw, and that's what they've chosen to slam her on-the psychological equivalent of a bullet to the heart.

Manipulators suck, let's face it, AND they win most off the time, because even the stupidest of them have an instinct about how to push our buttons; if you can remember that you need to speak up when they're behaving inappropriately, and NOT get sucked in when they attack you where you're most vulnerable, though, you can beat them every time... thus striking a blow for us all.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Are rats psychic? 

The area where I live is periodically plagued by rats; now, sadly, is one of those times. We have birdbaths for our beloved avian visitors placed by our patio, and this year the rats have decided to use them for their water supply; I'm literally seeing rats drinking from them about every 10 minutes or so all night long... and these rats are so huge and bold that no amount of yelling, brandishing blunt weapons, or banging around the landscaping deters them in the slightest. After many days of being badgered, my husband has belatedly put rat traps on the patio cover around the opening they climb down to the hanging birdbath from, on the bush they climb down to the pedestal birdbath from, and on the latter birdbath itself. There was no way they could get to the water without getting caught in a trap, or so we thought, so we prepared for a night of rodential slaughter.

Yeah, right.

Although you'd think that the only rats that could know anything about traps are those that died in them, they went from making almost non-stop trips down the chains to the hanging birdbath to not going near it; how did they KNOW? Yes, the traps have human scent on them, but so does everything out there; what would make them stop using their well-worn path to that water, the evil creatures? Are they PSYCHIC?!!

The only trap that went off last night was the one on the bush; it either fell off due to poor placement, or sprung off when it got set off by the bush shaking from being climbed on, and, with typical laziness, my husband refused to put it back, so the rats figured out how to jump past the trap on the birdbath (how did they KNOW not to jump onto the trap?) and drank their fill all night.

Rats: 1 Us: 0

Tonight, my husband somehow lost the ability to attach a trap to the bush, but laid extra traps along the lip of the birdbath; the only trap that closed tonight was when one especially thrill-seeking rat tried to leap past them to a clear spot and had a near miss... we had a few minutes of levity speculating that the rat had had to "go change its fur" because it had undoubtedly "pooped its pelt."

It was looking like we'd at least be able to block their access to the water, causing them to hopefully go hang out in someone else's back yard, when I heard a rustling, and looked out to see a rat stretched from the bush nearest to the hanging birdbath to the birdbath itself, and then scrambling onto it and drinking; as much as I loathe the filthy little beasts, I've gotta admit that I was pretty impressed. I thought I could make a sudden loud noise and scare it into scrambling up the chains and onto the traps, but even in its panic it remembered to jump across to the bush to make its escape.

Rats: 2 Us: 0

I sent my husband out with clippers, and he cut back the bush to the point where he thinks it won't be possible for the rats to cross to the birdbath; I'm not sure they won't show up with ropes, ladders or hang gliders, or at least have the courage to make a leap across, but we'll see. We'll also be putting out more traps tomorrow, assuming my husband can manage to remember to swing by Home Depot, and... if that doesn't work, what next, barbed wire? Land mines?

For any long-time readers who might be concerned about the safety of the squirrels, who also run around where the traps are being used, fear not; the traps don't go up until it's pitch black out, and come down before we go to bed. It's interesting, though, how one small rodent is loathed, and another is loved; as my husband said when one of our conversations went from how to kill the rats to what food to put out for the squirrels, "What a difference a fluffy tail makes"... to which I replied, "What a difference bad, destructive behavior makes." Not much he could reply to that one, given his own history of wrongdoing...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Husband = MORON 

Until recently, my husband's greatest claim to moron fame was constantly leaving a small fortune in equipment clearly visible in the back seat of his car, and treating my warnings about theft with the arrogant condescension he uses for anyone who's so foolish as to consider issues of safety, culminating in, you guessed it, his car being broken into and cleaned out (I blogged about this on 9-1-04); originally, he tried to pass off the value of the missing items as "only" $1000, but, knowing his policy of lying to me to downplay the severity of his wrongdoings, I gradually changed my comments about the missing items to having them be worth over $1000, then $2000, and now OVER $2000, and he's never tried to correct me, so I know I still haven't reached the ACTUAL value of the missing items.

A few months after the theft, he set an even greater act of moronicism into motion; he had a piece of equipment that needed to be mailed to its company of origin to be repaired, and he put it in a (very large) box, sent it out... and we never saw it again, and it's been a year and a half. How did this happen? He lives his life around task avoidance, so he resists making necessary phone calls to check and follow up on things, even when it's wildly to his disbenefit to act that way; although he received NO contact from the company about the item (as one would normally expect to get, about what they wanted to do to it and how long it might take), he refused to contact THEM and see what was up, despite repeated and increasingly impassioned requests for him to do so, and ample opportunity for him to do so. Finally, as the weeks and then MONTHS passed, he claimed he was calling and leaving messages, or calling and getting promises of callbacks that never came; he refused to hammer them with more frequent calls, or, finally, to give ME the # and the technical info necessary to explain what I was trying to find out about... and he always gave me the impression that he was trying to find out what was happening with the item within the repair center, that they were dragging their feet getting it fixed and sent back.

Something snapped in my mind a couple of days ago, and I demanded that he tell me the name of the company and the product, went to that company's website, registered to use it, and sent them an email asking where our item was and when they were going to send it back. Today, I got an email from them, informing me that they'd NEVER GOTTEN IT. Horrified, I confronted my husband, and he admitted that he'd found out over a YEAR ago that they'd never gotten it, and, as he'd long since lost the tracking info, he had no way to find out where the post office had actually sent it, and knew it was gone forever; he'd been LYING to me all that time, trying to keep alive my belief that the stupid thing was sitting on a shelf at that company, unrepaired and waiting for someone to figure out how to fix it rather than having to replace it (we've had past experiences with it taking big chunks of months for other tech items to be fixed), or that they'd lost the identifying info for who owned it and it was just a matter of contacting the right person who'd figure out which orphaned item was ours... anything other than that the post office, which granted sucks big time, could permanently lose such a big box that had been sent registered and certified, and thus was trackable (unless the sender is STUPID enough to lose the tracking #), and that he'd deceived me about his never having had any indication from them that they'd received the item. I've had over a year of extra stress about this issue because my husband's priority was to put off for as long as possible my finding out that he'd LOST a piece of equipment worth $2200 due to stupidity, stubbornness, and laziness on his part.

You know what, I should change the title of this post, because I'M the one who's the moron in this scenario; I know, I KNOW that he's a pathological liar, that he can't be trusted with pretty much anything, that he's utterly incapable of handling any shred of responsibility or of doing anything right without endless supervision and assistance, and that the central tenet of his existence is to conceal his endless screwups... so I NEVER should have allowed this situation to even get past the 1st couple of weeks without results or the phone # to call, not where such an expensive piece of equipment was concerned. It's just that I'm always so busy, so stressed, so TIRED, and I have to handle all of my stuff, all the household stuff, all the couple stuff, AND monitor all of HIS stuff even though he gets nasty about it despite his extensive history of fouling up, and even though he's supposed to be an adult and thus capable of handling his own personal issues... and I never considered that there was a worst-case scenario beyond any that I'd ever imagined going on, and that he was covering it up and preventing me from taking action when there was still time to.

To my husband, who reads my blog, I send a 2-word message... no, not THAT one, because I don't put profanity on here, but this one: NEVER AGAIN. From this point on, I don't care HOW nasty you get when questioned about tasks and processes you haven't completed; *I* can be WAY nastier than you can, and if necessary I'll prove that as part of making sure that you don't get any more chances to throw thousands of dollars away because you can't be bothered to hold onto important documents, make a frigging phone call, act in a timely manner, or show an ounce of common sense... whatever it takes, there will NOT be a repeat of your recent performance.

Count on it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The war on... sick people 

If you're not sick, you will be once you've read this:


which gives us the latest from the Supreme Court:

"In a 6-3 decision, the court on Monday said those who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it to ease pain can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, overriding medical marijuana statutes in 10 states."

There are disclaimers about how they're not going to be targeting sick people, but if that's so, why go to such lengths to be sure they CAN? I don't buy the idea of, "Don't worry about this new restriction on you/new power we have over you, because we're not gonna use it, honest"; if they weren't ever going to use it, they wouldn't be laying the groundwork.

Groundwork to deprive sick people of, and take legal action against them for, something they need to control their level of suffering.

The justification for this is:

"The Bush administration, like the Clinton White House before it, has taken a hard stand against state medical marijuana laws, arguing that such statutes could undermine the fight against illegal drugs."

Um, excuse me, aren't there already countless drugs that a doctor can prescribe that are illegal to procure withOUT a doctor's prescription, including many that are used "recreationally," like marijuana usually is? Just because marijuana's been illegal for a long time, well before its medical uses were discovered, why should that make a difference? When people are SUFFERING, isn't the more important issue the relief of that suffering, NOT whether something that would help them has been made illegal because people were smoking it and... eating lots of cookies?

The point is made in the article that

"John Walters, director of national drug control policy, defended the government's ban. 'Science and research have not determined that smoking marijuana is safe or effective,' he said."

This is of course true, but it's a valid argument against allowing marijuana use by the ill if and only if it's followed by a statement along the lines of, "... and therefore, we're going to invest lots of $ starting right now so that we CAN determine these things"; the lack of such a statement tells me that the concern that marijuana might not be helping, or could even be hurting, the sick people is FAKE, and is just being mouthed to make them sound better.

Know WHY there's no research backing up the medicinal value of marijuana? Because it's an illegal substance, even for medical researchers, and they'd have to get special permission to possess it in order to study it, AND get someone to pay for what would be controversial research, which would be made harder by the fact that they couldn't expect any gov't $... and they KNOW that. Pointing to the lack of a sort of research that's been made essentially impossible to conduct is grossly disingenuous... SHAME on them!!

Doctors need to be allowed to do their jobs as best as they can, and that means that they should be able to prescribe ANYTHING that will reduce human suffering; if they discover than HEROIN would help these desperate people control their agony, I think it should be given to them, and marijuana should be permitted without a moment's hesitation.

The Yahoo article fails to mention a more prevalent medical use for marijuana; the suppression of nausea, which can literally be a life or death issue for patients with things like AIDS and cancer, for whom the nausea can be so horrific that they can't eat. One of my own uncles owes his life to marijuana; his nausea was so bad that he couldn't keep ANYTHING down, not even water, so he'd smoke half a joint, take his medicines and vitamins, eat a meal, drink some fluids, and hope it'd all be far enough into his body to not come shooting back out when the nausea returned. Why are they no longer talking about the nausea-relief angle... is it the connection to AIDS? There's a grim thought for you...

The Yahoo article DOES make the final important point on this issue:

"Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, which favors legalization of marijuana... said the decision points up a large difference between the administration and the public.

'The disconnect is so wide here,' St. Pierre said. 'In no circumstance where voters have the opportunity to weigh in have they said no to medical marijuana.'"

Damn straight. Wake up, Washington; the American people want all possible treatments to be made available to those who are sickest, and if you're smart you'll back down gracefully on this one before the media starts showcasing dreadfully ill people whose suffering you won't allow to be relieved... before the voters start contemplating the need for greater compassion in our elected officials.

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