Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recession! LA LA LA LA LA

So I'm sure you've all heard about the Fed's scrambling attempts to stave off a recession....

And I'm sure you've hear the White House's take on the situation:

"I have not heard at all that we have changed our outlook, and we are not forecasting a recession," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters traveling with President George W. Bush to California for the start of a tour of western states.

Anyway, Roy had a twitch of deja-vu and sent me this link about a 2004 statement made by our administration's favorite hulkish dialysis patient, OOoooooOOOoosama bin LADEN. Pertinent quote?

"We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat," bin Laden said.

He also said al Qaeda has found it "easy for us to provoke and bait this administration."

As Roy put it, "dude, nobody, myself included, really pays enough attention."

The worst part? I kind of don't even know what a recession means. Like, I know conceptually what it is, but like...what's going to happen? Everything will get more expensive? Our dollar will be devalued? If you're in a recession long enough, then our big corporations can't compete in the global market and the US job market begins to crash? These are guesses, and I'm sure they're only part of the picture. I hate shit like this, when you realize, oh, hey, I'm a fucking grown-up, this is actually pretty scary.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mean Science

You may remember the naked mole rat from studies a while ago on longevity: they live to be like, 30. Also, they are the only known coldblooded mammal, which may explain the nakedness. Scientists have now found that the naked mole rat is immune to certain types of burning pain, including the sting of acid and chili peppers. These findings may help scientists working on chronic pain management solutions.

"Their insensitivity to acid was very surprising," Park told LiveScience. "Every animal tested — from fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and all other mammals — every animal is sensitive to acid."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some orphans that need stabbing.

Honestly, animal testing is one of those things where you can argue either side. I get it. But something like pain management--honestly, if you have so much pain that you need to manage it, then you have some kind of underlying problem. Making the pain go away will only make the problem worse because you won't be able to feel what's going on. The field of medical pain management has produced more prescription-drug addicts than any other field of medicine. Yes, I know there's no point in blogging about this. It's the least of our billion too-complex-to-solve problems. Blah blah blah blah blah.

God sometimes the hardest thing to admit is that I just don't care.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Morning! You're a Drug Addict.

New studies show that caffeine is Bad. How bad? Like...Super Bad.

But only if you have type-2 diabetes.

Or if you're pregnant (and not hoping for a miscarriage, aka free abortion).

Okay, let's face it, it's gotta be bad for everyone, they just haven't found enough things to test yet in a controlled study.

It's like, coffee is my last bastion of sin. I barely smoke cigarrettes anymore, they make me sick after one night. Alcohol has gotten really annoying. All the real drugs are just too much trouble to bother with. But coffee, I still love to love coffee. This is even after I discovered that soy milk is bad for you (not because it makes you gay, but because it lines your stomach with soy-wax, preventing you from absorbing nutrients), so I am drinking not-as-scrumptious cow's milk lattes, but STILL. I still love it. So, so much. So so so much.

Consolation: at least I've still got premarital sex. FOR NOW.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I've been thinking recently about the President. No, not him. Just the role of President, specifically of the United States.

I've been thinking that for some reason, most presidents seem to be former lawyers. Like, they're lawyers, and then they become prominent and then they go into politics and then they become president. I'm not actually sure if this is true or if this is just what I've always thought, but whatever, go with it. I mean it makes sense that a lawyer would go into politics, because they have to learn a bunch of stuff that relates to civics in general just to practice.

One of my friends who is a psychologist was telling me that he thinks the reason that Hillary won't get elected is because archetypally she's a fighter. And we are all really, really sick of fighters--Bush is a fighter too. We're sick of having our country led by someone who wants to defeat everyone.

So I was thinking, like...what is a lawyer but a fighter? I mean that's what lawyers are paid to do. A client gives them money, and they go on to use every resource at their disposal to defeat the opposition so that their client can win. To me, this is creepy. Because that's what the presidency has become in a way. That is bad, even if the 'client' were the American people, which it isn't. I think we're all well aware that the client in this case is people with money. You know, big soul-less corporations, Saudi sheiks, other jerks. And I'm not just talking about the Bushies, because economic neoliberalism gets its rocks off in the democratic party too. Sure, it's a benchmark of neoconservative policy, but that shit went down in the Clinton era too, and it goes down in Congress as we speak.

Honestly, that's one of the things I like a LOT about Obama. He was a lawyer, and he quit to become a community organizer. He was working in poor communities to organize people. In fact, I quote: "What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer?" (Barack Obama, quoted in the Chicago Reader 12/8/95) No, SERIOUSLY. What is the president but an organizer of people? The organizer of this big community of Americans? The fact that Obama sees himself as an organizer and not a fighter is apparent in his speeches and his policies. Because to a fighter, there is always us and them. To republican fighters, the them is the immoral, the muslims, the hippies. To democratic fighters, the them is big business, the religious right, etc. Obama never tries to polarize shit like that. To him, everyone is part of the community that he must organize to help itself become better.

On that note, here is my favorite part of Obama's SC victory speech:

What we've seen in these last weeks is that we're also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It's a politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon, a politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us, the assumption that young people are apathetic, the assumption that Republicans won't cross over, the assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor and that the poor don't vote, the assumption that African-Americans can't support the white candidate, whites can't support the African-American candidate, blacks and Latinos cannot come together. We are here tonight to say that that is not the America we believe in.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Whale Hunt

You know what's beautiful? 3,000 photographs of a whale hunt.. Particularly the end of the series of photographs, where you see all of these people, it seems like the whole village is out there to help. And then the colors, of the blood and the whale skin and the meat and the snow. I've got that color palate stuck in my head now, I think that when I finally getting around to designing my website I'm going to use the whale hunt colors.

I recommend auto-play at first, and you can use the timeline to skip around. From the about section:

Running along the bottom edge of the screen is a timeline, representing the entire whale hunt trip, beginning with the taxi ride to Newark airport and ending with the butchering of the second whale, seven days later. The timeline is pictured as a medical heartbeat graph whose magnitude at each point corresponds to the photographic frequency (and thus the level of excitement) at that moment.

(From Shane)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The top four sickest things about being on the rag that no girl will ever tell you

1. Pooping
You have to time your pooping. Why? Because there is a string hanging out of your vagina. It's like a little tail, and it's also like a little poop magnet. If you try to poop without also changing your tampon, you risk getting poop on the tampon string. It's not super common, and you can avoid it by being careful, but it's a lot to manage when you can't even see most of the area in question. Also, it is so so disgusting when it does happen that it's worth being hypervigilant. So you have to like pull the string up, poop, wipe very carefully. Sometimes when you poop the tampon starts to come out a little, like it's pushed out by whatever kind of intravaginal pressure results from the poop coming out. Then you have to change the tampon, because having it partway out hurts. So it's important to time your poops so you can just change tampons at the same time and not have to worry about any of it. But, as a coffee drinker, sometimes this is not so feasible. Even if it is, there is still the toilet full of bloody poop.

2. Scraping
The reason you have to time the poops is because if you take the tampon out too early it scrapes. This is not so much painful as just gross and unpleasant, like imagine filling your mouth with cotton balls. The tampon has to be soaked enough with blood so that it's moderately lubricated when you pull it out, otherwise it's rough cotton dragging across dry parched vagina. This is not such an issue on your heaviest days, but there are a good 3-4 days every month where you have to be careful of this.

3. Chunks
It's funny because like you would imagine the blood coming out of your vagina during menstruation to be a bit like the blood that comes out of your arm or leg when you get cut or scraped. But it's not. It's got all sorts of chunky tissue in it. Mostly they look like little jellies, or little blobs of glue, but sometimes they're more textured. These chunks don't sink into the tampon, but rather just kind of cling to it, so when you pull the tampon out they like to wave and say hello. Sometimes I just sit on the toilet and peer between my legs as they hit the water. They look like some kinda sick cross between a jellyfish and a maggot, only blood red, and when they hit the water they sink to the floor of the toilet, leaving a trail of bloody water coming off of them. It's kind of pretty, only also disgusting. I read once that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester, and that the women don't even know it because they're passed with the menstrual flow. Consequently, I always wonder when I see those chunks if one of them may be my son or daughter.

4. Cramps
Yeah yeah yeah. We've all heard how bad they are. You know what? No you fucking haven't. Menstruation is the lining of your uterus--all those chunks we talked about--being shed. It's sort of like an internal scab being ripped off--and that's what it feels like. Imagine the lining of one of your internal organs being sloughed off. The closest thing that I can direct you to for an example of what this feels like is when you are bleeding from a wound. Do you know how when you cut yourself, the aching feeling of losing blood? Great, now imagine your entire pelvic area feeling like that. If you let yourself focus on it, you will inevitably think Oh god, I am going to bleed to DEATH.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Conversations with Rudy

How do you feel about your sixth place finish in Iowa, Mr. Giuliani?
None of this worries me. September 11, there were times I was worried.

Would you care to comment on Hillary's emotional moment, Mr. Guiliani?
This is not something I would judge anyone on. The reality is, if you look at me, September 11 — the funerals, the memorial services — there were times in which it was impossible not to feel the emotion.

Would you like paper or plastic, Mr. Giuliani?
It's interesting that you would ask that because one thing I learned on September 11 was that nothing--not paper, not plastic--will make up for the lost lives of innocent American citizens.

Mr. Giuliani, would you like fries with that?
Yes, I would like fries with that. For who am I to the victims of September 11 if I do not honor them by living every day to the fullest? If I do not relish in the small pleasures? Make those chili fries, good citizen. Supersized.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Obama on Healthcare

You know, I can ignore most of the bullshit that comes out of Hillary Clinton's mouth. But now she's getting I think a bit desperate and is attacking Obama on healthcare. Hillary says that Obama's healthcare plan will leave 15 million people uninsured. When she said that all I could think was Oh, warping the facts to create fear. Familiar strategy.

There are two major differences, in my mind, between Hillary's and Obama's healthcare plans, and this "leaving 15 million people uninsured" soundbyte refers to the first difference. That difference is that while Hillary's plan makes it mandatory that all Americans purchase health insurance, Obama's plan does not. They both will make it cheaper for poorer Americans through subsidies, etc.--but Hillary's plan states that you will be punished (with a fine) if you do not buy this new cheaper subsidized health insurance. Obama's plan says that yes, the government will help out, but if you don't want it or still don't think you can afford it then we will not force you to purchase insurance. So yes, Hillary, Obama's plan may leave people uninsured, because he won't have forced them to do something against their will. Fuck you.

The second difference between Obama's healthcare plan and the plans of both Clinton and Edwards is subtle but massively important. Obama's healthcare plan has a real and viable strategy for lowering the ridiculous costs of healthcare that pad the wallets of insurance and pharmaceutical company CEOs. The problem with healthcare in this country is that the system is fundamentally rigged, and Obama demonstrates not only an understanding of that and a willingness to go to work on it, but also that he knows how to work on it. These issues are complex and largely invisible to the public, but he totally, totally gets it--more than I do, more than you do, more than anyone else in Washington does. Check it:

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on why Obama's plan is better than not only Clinton's, but also Edwards' strategy of overruning the special interest groups by excluding them from the discussion:

Obama's idea is a better one: Get every special interest out in the open on television, where the new president can cross-examine them and expose their phony rationalizations for charging $100 a pill or denying coverage to sick people...Then, having triumphed over the drug and insurance companies in the court of public opinion, the legislative victories will follow.

Also, here is a long but easy-to-read blog post that does a great job of explaining why Obama's plan for healthcare reform is a-fucking-mazing. If you want to really understand his plan (without the burden of working in the healthcare field for years and years), you should definitely read this. Quote:

Most amazing of all, Obama’s speech shows deep understanding of health-care economics. It recognizes that real solutions to real problems require more than just points on a list. Obama seems to understand the quantitative effect of his proposals—i.e., how much each point will likely improve things—and his priorities reflect that understanding. That fact alone puts him so far ahead of most politicians that he seems to be from another species. It is as if he were Homo sapiens, and the rest Neanderthals.

The thing that's driving me nuts here is that people, like Hillary and this guy Paul Krugman from the NY Times, are criticizing Obama's plan not because it's bad but because they don't understand it. And Obama doesn't waste time trying to explain the complex nuances of his brilliance: He's got the platform he's chosen to be elected on and the brilliance will sneak in the back door. Sadly, in this country, you can't be elected on the merit of being smart enough to comprehensively solve major, seemingly unreconcilable problems that ever American citizen faces. That's not a good soundbyte.