First impressions

Slutwalks have been getting a lot of publicity lately, and I must say I totally don’t get it. How one dresses conveys a lot of information to the person who does not know you as an individual. If I see a woman in a ḥijāb, I can reasonably assume that she is a Muslim. If I see a man wearing a turban, I can reasonably assume that he is a Sikh. A man in a suit conveys a different set of assumptions than a man in baggy-pants with boxers visible.

So what I don’t get is this: what exactly is the message the slutwalkers are trying to convey? Sure, dress however you want – it’s a free country – but what are the impressions you want others to draw from your attire? Last I checked, “slut” wasn’t considered a complimentary term. I can’t quite see someone bragging that their spouse was a huge slut, for instance, and I also can’t imagine that this would be a term one would want applied to one’s daughter. Certainly what comes to my mind are adjectives like “easy” and “of loose morals.”

Yes, rape is bad. Rapists are criminals, and should be punished severely.

How does self-denigration do anything to improve the situation one way or another?

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On a related note, I saw a sign held by a slutwalk demonstrator: it read “Things that cause rape: () revealing clothes () alcohol (x) rapists”

That is absolutely true. However, it misses a big point. Consider this thought experiment: if a mid-to-large size university, perhaps Georgetown, or maybe UMCP, were to (a) ban alcohol on campus, and (b) strictly enforce minor-in-possession/contributing-to-delinquincy-of-a-minor laws (i.e. one ticket is academic probation, two is expulsion), do you think that the incidence of rape on or around that campus would increase, stay the same, or decrease? I know where I’d put my money.

So there is a pretty obvious thing which should be a policy priority, if you’re actually interested in the incidence of rape decreasing. Why aren’t more of the slutwalkers calling for this?

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An Answer at Last!

I got my results today from Optimal Health, and now I have some results. I have confirmed cases of lyme, bartonella, strep (!), and a suspected case of babesia.

Apparently there’s a sign up in the microbial world: “come on in, the plasma’s great!”

Here’s the scary parts: first, both the really awesome rheumatologist and the excellent neurologist performed assorted Lyme tests, including of spinal fluid (!), and yet the infection did not show up on standard tests. This goes to show you that the standard tests completely suck. OHP uses Fry Labs, which has really, really thorough methodology of actually looking for organisms themselves. Here’s what Bartonella and the biofilms look like:
Bartonella smear
biofilm smear

In addition, they use IGeneX labs which in their work provides a much more thorough Lyme analysis, looking at more bands and providing more detailed results, and this was how they confirmed my Lyme and got the inconclusive babesia.

Second, OHP’s working theory on this is that when I got the wicked-bad parvo infection in February, and swelled up, the steroid treatments I got (which were absolutely necessary, and reduced the swelling) dampened my immune system enough that latent infections were able to become active. They believe that tremendous numbers of people in the mid-Atlantic region have latent infections of this type, which cause subclinical symptom levels. Yikes.

Third, it turns out that both Lyme and Bartonella can be transmitted sexually, so it may be the case that I got this from Sarah, or perhaps she got it from me. This is an unpleasant line of reasoning, and I don’t think I’ll go very far down that path, but it needs to be more widely known, so that if one partner gets a confirmed Lyme, the other should get checked as well.

So then there’s treatment. There’s a whole bunch of dietary changes (argh – pizza is *so* far out…), a metric ton of supplements, along with two antibiotics and an antimicrobial solution. The OHP approach is “low and slow” – it’s designed to get rid of the parasites as fast as possible without killing the patient. Emotionally, I’d prefer the bazooka-size antibiotic dose, but that wouldn’t kill the infections any faster, and would just make me more miserable, so maybe that isn’t such a hot idea after all.

But in the words of a real American hero, “knowing is half the battle.”

Nothing to see here

It is unfortunate that our political leadership (on both sides) seems to have been a product of the US educational system, and thus are unable to perform simple mathematical calculations. I noted before that defense and discretionary spending could be entirely zeroed out, and we still would be spending more than we are taking in.

Clearly, we will need to raise taxes. But even more clearly, the spending rate needs to be cut far more drastically. The Senate has not managed to pass a budget in years, and the rest of the leadership is wholly feckless.

Here’s an idea: let’s start with the 2007 budget, balance it, and then let folks argue for their favorite interests starting from balance.

We have met the enemy and he is us

Walt Kelly, who famously said the title of this post, did not live to see a specific case of this phenomenon. I just learned about the new FDA guidelines for doctors regarding opiate medications, and I’m not pleased with what I’m learning. As background, both my wife and my mother are disabled and suffer from chronic pain which can be pretty debilitating. I’m in the midst of a significant pain episode – possibly due to Herxheimer reactions caused be one of the 20 pills I took this morning (or maybe one of the 16 I took tonight – who knows?) – so as would be easy to imagine, making it more difficult for doctors to prescribe cheap, effective painkillers is not something which gives me a warm fuzzy.

I know about the abuses: about the so-called “doctors’ offices” which are the size of a closet, where “patients” are bused in from all over the country; I know about the straw purchasers and about how some of those meds can be crushed and snorted to significant effect; and I even have a family friend who is wrestling with the demon of addiction to opiate painkillers. All of these cases speak to a significant question: why are we doing this? Who, precisely, benefits? What is the harm we are trying to prevent?

When I’ve asked that question of multiple very smart people today, the answer I was given was “it’s a big problem if people take morphine and drive” – which of course has nothing whatsoever to do with whether they took it legally.

So I come back around to a more pointed phrasing of the question: given that many of the societal problems we are experiencing are the direct and indirect consequence of the prohibition regarding an individual’s use of these substances, is the cure worse than the disease? It sure looks that way to me.