Summer Solstice Celebration

Summer solstice (Jāņi in Latvian) is celebrated on 23rd and 24th June where I live. And, yes, I do know that solstice is actually a few days before that. So it goes. Here Jāņi is one of the major celebrations, and some of the traditions, mostly remnants of the good old pagan days, are pretty fun. And somehow Latvian Christians who celebrate what is essentially a pagan holiday do not feel any cognitive dissonance. But hey, it’s fun.

Because of COVID-19, this year there was no large public celebration. Instead everybody had to celebrate at home with their family. Thus this time I will write about how Jāņi are usually celebrated in this part of the world in addition to what we could do this year. [Read more…]

Defining “Women” as “People who Menstruate”

Recently there’s been some talk about periods among Freethoughblogs bloggers. A rather famous TERF wrote some tweets about how women are “people who menstruate.” That’s not correct. It’s wrong to imagine that only women can menstruate (so can trans men and non-binary people). It’s also wrong to say that if you don’t menstruate, you’re not a woman (a lot of women, including cis women, do not have periods for various reasons). Periods are not what defines an individual as a woman. There are various groups of people who have been assigned “female” at birth and identify as women but do not have periods:

–Elderly women.
–Women who have had a hysterectomy.
–Some of the women who have had an endometrial ablation.
–Women who choose to continuously use hormonal birth control.
–Women who are malnourished or very physically active.
–Some women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
–Women with various genetic health conditions.
–Women who were born intersex.

And, yes, of course, there are also trans women who do not have periods either. Welcome to the club! Statistically, trans people are a small minority, thus trans women are only a fraction of all the women who do not have periods. It’s funny how in their attempt to redefine the word “woman” TERFs came up with a definition that excludes so many cis women. Simultaneously defining “women” as “adult AFAB people” and “people who menstruate” is impossible, because both of these groups of people overlap only partially. [Read more…]

Police Violence: It Is Not Normal

People have a tendency to imagine that whatever is happening around them is normal. They get used to how things are and don’t always think about whether something could be done differently. I have recently heard a few American citizens insisting that cops need to be tough on crime or else the society will collapse. Or that cops need to shoot suspects or else innocent people will die. And here I am, living in a country where police officers do not routinely shoot or beat up suspects, where citizens aren’t scared or wary of the very people who are supposed to protect them. And no, just because cops are capable of restraining themselves and not acting like murderous monsters doesn’t mean that crime is rampant in Europe. Personally, as a European, I perceive the overwhelming violence perpetrated by American cops as unbelievable and horrific. [Read more…]

Realizing that I am the weird one

People have a tendency to imagine themselves to be normal. Moreover, unless they have strong evidence suggesting otherwise, they also tend to imagine that other people think, feel, and behave similar to themselves.

It took me many years until I realized that majority of people differ from me in various ways. As a child and later as a teen, I didn’t realize that my experiences were not the same as those of other people. Instead, I rationalized their (from my perspective) weird behaviors and sought excuses for why they did all those odd things that made no sense for me. [Read more…]

Recipe: Sorrel Soup

Sorrel soup is a very common food in Eastern European cuisine. Another name for this soup is “green borscht,” but I’ll stick with the name “sorrel soup,” because in Latvian “skābeņu zupa” means literally “sorrel soup.”

Personally, I dislike throwing out anything that a human body can digest, which is why I regularly make various foods from ingredients that other people tend to deposit inside the trash container. Not only animal muscles, but also their bone marrow, cartilage, skin, fat, blood, and organs are edible, and can be turned into extremely tasty dishes. Today I will share my favorite recipe with animal bones as one of the main ingredients.

sorrel soup

Sorrel soup.

[Read more…]

How Doctors Harm their Patients by Prescribing Placebos

When it comes to human attempts to improve their health, placebos are among the most commonly used treatments. “Alternative medicine” consists of nothing but placebos. For example, acupuncture doesn’t actually work; instead it makes the patient feel better, because of the placebo effect—they expected that there must be some improvement, thus they feel like they have gotten better.

Unfortunately, it’s not just practitioners of alternative medicine who routinely prescribe placebos. Even in legitimate clinics you can get placebo prescriptions from people who are supposed to be legitimate doctors. Since placebos can make a patient feel better, somebody might ask what the harm is. Why can’t legitimate doctors prescribe some placebo to a worried parent whose child has a cold? After all, it will make the parent feel better while they wait for the cold to end. Unfortunately, carelessly prescribing unnecessary pills can result in serious negative consequences. [Read more…]

Embarrassingly Incompetent Politicians

Some politicians are incompetent. A few are so terrible, that it’s painful to watch. As of right now, Trump is among the worst.

Today in a Latvian news site I spotted an interview with Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, a former President of Latvia, who said the following words about Donald Trump: “This human is unimaginably, unimaginably incompetent! He doesn’t consult any experts, he doesn’t think, he opens his mouth before the brain has started to work! He is catastrophic.”* Note: This is my translation, the original statement was in Latvian. In this interview she expressed her opinions about how various politicians are dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic. Trump was the only politician who got such harsh words, her statements about everybody else were much more cautiously worded and diplomatic. [Read more…]

Why Late-Term Abortions Must Be Legal and Easily Accessible

Nobody has abortions for fun. Nobody wants to have an abortion. And I swear that, as a pro-choice advocate, I do not get any sadistic pleasure from knowing that there are late-term abortions happening in the world. I do want there to be as few abortions as possible. And I also want elective abortions to be done as soon as possible—when a pregnancy is terminated at the pregnant person’s request for reasons other than maternal health or fetal disease, it should not be a late-term abortion.* Nobody wants or enjoys abortions, and there is no evil conspiracy to abort as many fetuses as possible.

There is some fearmongering among pro-life activists that people will decide to have late-term abortions on a whim just because they got bored of being pregnant after a few months. Here’s what literally nobody is thinking: “My belly is starting to get big, this is getting annoying, because it disturbs my ability to exercise, I think I will get an abortion today morning, I’d like it to be quick, so that I can get to my hairdresser’s appointment today afternoon.” This is something that never happens. In reality, late-term abortions are performed on people** who wanted a child but lost their baby due to medical complications. [Read more…]

How I Started to Hate Pink Color

How do children (and also people in general) decide what kind of clothes they like? People don’t pick their favorite outfits in a cultural vacuum. They don’t figure out how to clothe themselves from scratch. Instead, they look at what their peers are wearing. Sometimes, they also look at what some role model like, for example, a movie star, is wearing. Never mind advertisements. Fashion companies market specific clothes directly to children, and corporations wouldn’t be spending so much money on marketing to kids if it wasn’t effective. [Read more…]