What Secular Anti-Choicers Are Really Saying

Giliell,  professional cynic, -Ilk-, has decoded the language of those secular people who think women (or trans men) who had the temerity to have sex (or get raped) should carry the resulting pregnancy to term:

Secular arguments against abortion I’ve heard are usually:
-She had sex, so she should bear the consequences*
-She had sex, so she should bear the consequences**
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-It’s a continuum and I’m going to dismiss the one actual clear-cut point that we have which is birth
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-There aren’t enough healthy white babies for us to adopt
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-The straw-abortion of a healthy, almost-term fetus because the woman has suddenly decided she’d like to go clubbing at the weekend
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-I don’t know anything about pregnancy, HELLP, Potter syndrome, childbirth, ectopic pregnancies, post-partum depression, but I held a baby once and handed them back to their loving mother when they cried/pooped.
*Fuck them for thinking of children as “consequences”
**Quite often combined with the idea that men shouldn’t have to pay child-support for the offspring of their one-night stand, because consequences are for women only

I think that explains matters clearly enough. I encourage you to read the rest of that comment, which is an education for anyone who thinks they can decide when a pregnant person can no longer choose to become not pregnant. If you have time, read that entire thread. And for those hot and heavy about the “it’s fine until 20 weeks” bullshit, read this right now.

Oh, and Dave? You can fuck right off. You don’t get to throw my reproductive rights under the bus to attract more assholes to the movement. American Atheists won’t have my support unless and until your organization makes a woman’s right to abortion non-negotiable. Think about what’s more important: trying to win the support of a tiny number of conservatives who are probably going to tell you to piss up a rope regardless, or keeping the support of the much larger number of atheist women who are already here – but won’t be for long if leaders in this movement keep throwing us away.



A (Metaphorically) Magical Review of Dr. Offit’s Magnum Opus on Woo

Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Dr. Paul Offit.

Cover of Do You Believe in Magic. It has got all sorts of herbs emerging from a top hat. Very cute and clever.I have friends who drive me mad with alt med crapola. People who shun vaccines, people who chug mega-doses of Emergen-C (and catch colds regularly anyway – but still swear it worked!), who go on and on about natural this and herbal that, until I wish to scream. There aren’t enough links to enough studies to explain why I get heartily sick of this bullshit.

Fortunately, I can now direct them to download this quite-reasonably priced ($1.99 for Kindle, last I checked – yowza!) book by a man who 1. knows his shit, 2. thoroughly mucks out the bullshit, and 3. is just kind enough to the placebo effect of some alt med treatments to placate these people.

Those of you who’ve been in the trenches of the vaccine wars probably know Paul as one of the despised enemies of anti-vaxxers. This book is an excellent example of why they hate him: it’s clear, concise, and full of citations to studies that make it very, very difficult to counter him. Also, he’s fair almost to a fault. Alt-med? He’s tried it himself. He’s given things like glucosamine a spin. He’s had less-than-satisfactory experiences with conventional medicine, so he gets why you might like something different. Sure. But then he says, let’s look at the studies – and there we have bad news. No better than placebo. Oh, dear. Better stick with the stodgy stuff, then, unless your condition is amenable to treatment by placebo, in which case, alt-med yourself out (on the safe stuff, anyway).

That’s the book in a nutshell.

Within these pages, many darlings of the alt-med scene are given a harsh dose of reality. Fans of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Depak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Suzanne Somers, Stanislaw Burzynsky, Jenny McCarthy, Joe Mercola, and other such purveyors of woo will become distressed as their darlings are demolished. People who pop vitamins are in for some very severe shocks. Supplement sectarians are about to get a rude awakening. Most of the book is merciless, and rightly so.

Most of these fatal blows are delivered with calm precision and gentle reliance on the facts, but the message is driven home with the occasional zinger, like this (my favorite line in the book): “Unfortunately, Vitamin O [oxygen] users lacked the one thing necessary to extract oxygen from water: gills.” Beauty.

I felt he went a little – perhaps a lot – too easy on the purveyors of placebos at the end (a trait he shares, interestingly enough, with Mark Twain, who had a big softy for Christian Science for just that reason: the placebo effect). I’m afraid those prone to such things will seize upon this and shriek that their pet nostrum really and truly works. I would guide their attention to the paragraphs in the final section that throw a bucket of cold water over the love fest. These are the four ways Paul divides practitioners of placebo medicine from outright quacks. For those who are curious, or need the crash course as an immediate inoculation against woo for self or others, they are these:

“First, by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful.” If it quacks that you don’t need that chemo, it’s a quack. Run.

Second, “by promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning.” If it quacks that its horrid green goo is 1000% safe despite being full of arsenic, it’s a quack. Run.

Third, “by draining patients’ bank accounts.” If it quacks it can heal you, but needs extravagant amounts of money to do so, it’s a quack. Run.

Fourth, “by promoting magical thinking.” You know the drill by now.

After reading this book, I feel much better prepared for the next dissertation on the wonders of alt-med I’m subjected to. And I have a handy tome to hand them that may, just possibly, save their lives. At the very least, it should make them wiser about their medical choices, save them some coin, and promote some harmony between them and the skeptics in their lives. Not bad for one little book, eh?

Dr. Paul Offit is a gray-haired man with brainy-specs and a suit, posing at a podium, smiling the smile of a man who's quite famous and just a bit embarassed about it.

Dr. Paul Offit, bane of woo-meisters everywhere. Image courtesy Michael Spencer for the National Institutes of Health Record via Wikimedia Commons.

The Saga of the Salivary Gland

Look, it’s not a tumor.

Image of white kitten on top of a larger white cat that is grumpily saying

Not that you’d know that from the reaction. You know how they tell you to see your doctor if your sore throat doesn’t go away or worsens? Well, going in to week three of this wretched illness, everything was improving except my throat, which was busily getting worse. My regular doctor has taken a sabbatical to be with her kids, and it seemed rather asinine anyway to drive all the way to Totem Lake and see a real doctor over a silly little illness like this, so I went to our on-site clinic. One torture session with a cotton swab and a needle-stick later, we’d decided it wasn’t mono or strep, just a persistent virus. No worries. Come back if it gets worse.

Later that night, I got a sharp pain in the roof of my mouth where the hard palette meets the soft, near where all that crap drains from your sinuses down your throat. Felt like a canker sore, and there was a little bump that night that was a large painful bump in the morning. [Read more…]

Adventures with Cumulative Trauma Disorders

I finally gave in and saw a doctor about my horrible wrists. The verdict: thumb tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and possible arthritis in the finger joints. Whee! This means the doctor pulled me off of typing duty until I’ve seen a neurosurgeon, and I get to navigate the byzantine byways of our company’s medical leave and accommodation policies.

This should be fun.

I loves me nice, comforting ACE bandages, but they're no longer enough.

I loves me nice, comforting ACE bandages, but they’re no longer enough.

We’re not sure yet if I’m going to need surgery. [Read more…]

Sunday Song: Out of the Dark

Now that I’ve gone and gotten treatment, I’ll tell you the story of the Dark.

I’ve always been subject to black moods. Getting raped at 18 didn’t help, I’m sure. But those moods were always transient, usually correlated to known issues like severe stress, and predictable. They didn’t affect my day-to-day functioning all that much, and I could always find my way out. I just joined up with the part of my brain that was laughing into the darkness and walked out on it. I’d change up my routine, do whatever altered my mood toward happy, and the Dark would go.

So I wasn’t overly concerned when I began to slide in January. Vaguely and pervasively sad in Seattle in the middle of winter, during a time of high stress at work and home? Whee, SAD! Yay, environmental triggers! Time to take a break, then, watch some Agatha Christie, do busy work, wait for the Dark to go away.

But it started getting darker. [Read more…]

I Just Gave Away My Emergency Pack of Cigarettes

For those breathlessly following my quitting saga, and who might have missed the update yesterday: the deed is done. I’ve not had a single puff since last Saturday night. Haven’t even stood downwind of smokers inhaling deeply. In fact, I walked past the smoking area at work Thursday and quit breathing because it smelled bad. My nose is changing its opinions.

Quitting, I will not lie, has been hell. A primal part of my brain has spent the last two weeks frantic, believing it’s going to die. It was merely unhappy as I was cutting down. It had a few bad moments on Sunday, when I told it sternly that it could do without. And then came Monday, and work, and I thought it was going to end one of three ways: with a suicide, with a homicide, or with me busting into that unopened pack I’d got in Oregon assuming I wasn’t actually quitting completely on Sunday.

I survived, others survived, and the pack stayed closed. Barely.

[Read more…]

Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

A few items on the agenda, here.

Firstly, I’ve got a G+ friend named Craig DaGeek who is investigating the possibility of getting into grad school for geology. He could use some insight from those in the know: what’s the new GRE like? Do you know of any good study resources for it? Any info you can give him would be much appreciated. Let’s get another geology major into grad school and out in the field!

[Read more…]

Dude. This Shit’s Actually Working…

Just a quick Chantix update. I’m almost done with Week 2, and I was despairing, because I still wanted to smoke. I made myself cut back a bit, but the cravings came on pretty strong, and I was all like, “Shit. My body isn’t going to let me be in that group that just loses interest, is it? It’s burning through this just like it does Demerol (and believe me when I say penchant for blowing through painkiller 5x faster than normal people sucks leper donkey dick when you’re dealing with kidney stones). We’ll have to treble the dose to get any result, and no doc in their right mind will ever do that. Wah!”

[Read more…]

Dreaming on Chantix. Plus, Answers to Reader Questions, Including Some Nifty Geology.

Yeah, I meant to have waterfalls ready for ye, and then I fell asleep. I’m not sure if massive sleeping will be a side effect of Chantix or if it’s just a result of finally having time off after a strenuous trip to Oregon. I can tell you, after my first dose of Chantix, that sleeping is far more interesting than it used to be.

[Read more…]

In Which I Admit I Am Not Noble and Can’t Do This Alone

It’s been a day. I spoke to my mother, who had sounded better the last time we spoke. She sounded much worse today, and informed me my grandfather’s in the hospital, although she can’t say for what. A rehabilitation center of some sort. She thinks he’s going to die soon. And then she wants to move to Washington.

I’ll admit that cold dread fills me at the idea.

We have a history. I spent a considerable chunk of my twenties trying to extricate her from a horrible situation. She’d call me in tears every time her husband went back to drinking and began beating her. She’s really leaving him again, this time, she’d say, and so I’d tell her to come on down. She’d live with me for a few days or weeks, interrupting my writing, putting my life in disarray, and inevitably, just when we’d got things sorted enough she could begin to live a life of her own, she’d go back to him. Always. This went on more times than I can remember.

[Read more…]