Monday, February 28, 2011

Same Tired Thinking, Same Old Results

I remember so clearly learning about the World Wars in history class, and how each of them brought about “revolutions” to the old paradigm of how to fight a war. It occurs to me that these paradigms are being set and broken every day, up to and including the present day, but more on that in a minute.

One of the things that stuck with me was the fact that the “old school” officers in the armed forces tended to reject the paradigm shifts, while the young turks were off re-writing the ways wars were fought and won.

For instance:

At the beginning of WWI, wars had been fought in trenches and fixed, reinforced emplacements for over 60 years. The American Civil war brought about he first birth of trench warfare in the American experience, and throughout WWI, the paradigm of setting up fixed emplacements, and fighting and dying over 50 feet between these emplacements, ruled the day.

Also apparent was the overwhelming superiority of the iron battleships of the day. The “superweapons” of their time, they were judged by metrics of how many tons they displaced, and how big the bore on their guns were, and they were literally invincible.

WWII changed both paradigms, and quite violently so for those that hadn’t gotten the lesson. At the close of WWI, the French had developed the “Maginot Line”, a system of hardened, fixed fortifications that was designed to prevent any future German attack from entering France. They slept peacefully behind it’s bristling fa├žade for nearly two decades, with the confidence that it was unbreachable. They hadn’t gotten the memo that fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of men, in the words of Patton, and were beyond shocked when the Maginot Line was taken out of play, not by a stunning defeat, but because the Germans changed the paradigm, and instead of squaring off against fixed fortifications at the time and place of their opponent’s choosing, they simply drove their mechanized military machine right around it without Maginot even firing a shot.

The paradigm of the battleship was rocked to it’s core sometime around the same time, as it became clear that big, lumbering battleships were nothing more than big, lumbering targets for attacks from the air as torpedo and dive bombers proved time and again during the war. Their massive guns became useless against a swarm of mosquitoes, each of which had the power to single-handedly send the massive floating fortification to the bottom of the ocean.

Both of these paradigm shifts were missed by key people at key times at the beginning of the war, and the result was catastrophic to those unprepared. The British, for instance, felt secure with their massive battleship “Hood” and several others. They were proven wrong. The Japanese loved their battle ships, but many of them never even fired a shot in anger before they were sunk by lowly torpedo bombers.

The new paradigm shift has occurred, and many are not ready to accept it. It hasn’t been tested in real battle yet, but the simulations all show the same thing – surface naval fleets have become a thing of the past. They’ve become an anachronism just like fixed fortifications and battle ships. Our aircraft carriers are massive, lumbering targets just waiting to be taken out by a new technology that can be had for a price comparable to the purchase of a new Mercedes Benz.

Research the “Millenium 2002” war games that were had in the Persian Gulf in 2002. I won’t belabor the details because I will assume that you are going to follow the link and read for yourself. I will simply summarize the salient points, which are:

A fleet of Cessna aircraft and small pleasure boats, converted to carry silkworm cruise missiles, managed to destroy 16 out of 24 ships in the US task force on day two of the two-week war games, including a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, the largest warship on earth, in one massive, coordinated strike on the fleet. The estimated US Navy personnel losses was over 20,000 men and women.

Just so you know, the silkworm is the SCUD of cruise missiles. It sucks. It is cheaply bought, and easily obtained, and to convert a pleasure craft to carry one is about as easy as a bit of welding and wiring. If such rudimentary weapon could do such a thing, what about the most recent cruise missile developed by the Russians, designed to travel mach 3 and to not even be detectable by our missile defense systems before it has already struck the ship? What about the fact that the Russians specifically state that they developed the missile mainly to export it?

If that isn’t enough to convince you, then what about the Falkland Islands fiasco? How many crappy mirage fighters flown out of shitty Argentinian air bases does it take to sink a British warship (or three or four)? Apparently, just one. Oh, and the brits didn’t even know he was there because the exocet missile was deployed far outside of radar range.

Moms – don’t let your babys grow up to be in the Navy, unless it is to be a submariner. There are two kinds of naval vessels now that this new paradigm shift has occurred – submarines, and targets.

On the USAPA

On the conservative blogs on which I routinely commented prior to the creation of this little crap blog, and prior to the election of Barack Obama, I was constantly taking flak for being staunchly against almost every provision in the US PATRIOT Act. I told them that the Department of Homeland Security would become the Department of Homeland Tyranny, with no hyperbole intended. I told them that getting the Federal Government involved in airport security would not increase security, only offenses against innocent travelers and additional hassles (seriously, watch the whole thing. PLEASE!) and bureaucracy. I told them that the wiretapping provisions in the act would only be restricted to terrorist uses as long as the definition of “terrorist” remained inside the realm of reason, which it did, for about three months after passage. I warned them that all manners of violations of rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights could begin, unrestricted by any oversight whatsoever, as soon as they branded you a “terrorist.” I was right.

Of course, they told me I was an idiot for assuming that George Bush would ever see me as a terrorist. I asked them if they thought George Bush was going to be the president forever. They shut up quickly.

Now, we have Janet Napolitano using the PATRIOT Act against “right-wing terrorists” who the DHS defines as people with right-wing bumper stickers on their 4-wheel drive trucks, and returning veterans. It is being used to wiretap baby food smugglers in Maine (note that they said he had terrorist connections, but never backed that up. Convenient, right?). It is being used to deny US Citizens their due process and their constitutional rights simply because they are decided to be terrorists. It is being used to justify warrantless searches and seizures of property, in direct violation of the 4th amendment, simply because a person has been branded a “terrorist” by the loosest interpretation of the term possible.

If there is some chance that someone, somewhere might fear you, then you are a terrorist. I cannot find the link to the old news story about the drug dealer in Oklahom who was denied his rights under the 4th and 5th amendements because his neighbors were scared of him. I can guarantee that there are people in San Franscisco that would fear me and my beliefs, so I am a terrorist. Imagine that. I was right all along.

The Wisconsin Madness

First, I would like to open with a quote.

“What you wish for is irrelevant. What you have chosen is at hand.” Spock from Star Trek.

You can whine and complain and cry and bitch and moan all you want that the State is cutting into your pension, and reducing your benefits, and hurting you in ways we cannot describe, but the facts are very plain – Wisconsin does not have the money to continue providing gold-plated benefits packages and pensions-in-perpetuity, all things that workers in private industry (read, PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING) don’t get. The money does not exist. No amount of bitching and whining can fix that. You either take the cuts, or you expect a pink slip. Those are your options.

Skipping out of work on false pretenses, refusing to do your job, spouting vicious, violent rhetoric, subverting the democratic process by leaving the state and refusing to vote, creating signs that equate a man who was voted into office who is making tough decisions with Adolf Hitler, and actually being violent, are not helping your cause – it is just exposing you for what you really are – bloodsucking leeches attached directly to the throats of every hard-working taxpayer in the State of Wisconsin. It is far past time that government workers everywhere get knocked down a peg and actually start getting compensated for more along the lines of what they are producing for society.

A perfect example of someone getting paid far more than they are contributing is the average teacher in Wisconsin, who is costing the State $100,000 per year, getting the best health insurance money can buy, and a guaranteed pension for the remainder of their lives (instead of doing like the rest of us and getting back only what we put in) and then only working 7 hours a day and 9 months a year*. Yeah, you can go bitch about that on the streets of Madison, if you’d like. Can I trade you jobs?

Finally, I’d like to close with a quote:

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted to the public service“ – Franklin Delano (Hitler McUnionbuster) Roosevelt. Even he understood that public sector workers do not need collective bargaining, and that it would be ultimately detrimental to the nation, as a whole, if they got it.

*Yeah, I had a hard time writing that last part because my Mom is a teacher, but I have to post what I believe, and what I believe is that it is remarkably unfair for you to be working for people who do not get guaranteed pensions, who work at minimum 40 hours a week (but mostly more), who have health insurance that they have to help pay for that does not provide total coverage (copays, deductables, and so forth), and who work 52 weeks per year with the average being one week of paid vacation per year; all while you DO have a guaranteed pension, work less than 40 hours per week, have gold-plated health plans, and work only 9 out of 12 months (but continue receiving paychecks in the 3 months off), and on average, get paid more than the people paying your salary! Sorry Mom. I really am, but I promised myself that when I started this blog I was going to be honest, and this just ain’t right.

It isn’t that I don’t respect teachers – I do. It is just that I would expect a teacher to be paid more in line with their contribution. A typical skilled thought worker in America makes about 45,000 per year. Burdened with 401K costs and health benefits, the cost will go up north of 75 to 85 K for 2080 hours per year of work. That works out to $21.63 per hour take-home before taxes, and $40.86 burdened rate per hour.

A teacher at the same base salary (which is fair) would be north of 95,000 burdened, and over only 1,560 hours per year. That is $28.84 per hour take home and $60.89 burdened.

My Stance on Abortion

I was reading my own blog (I know, lame…) the other day and realized that I had made statements on the Dr. Kermit portions of the blog that would have people believing that I am anti-abortion and pro-governmental restriction on abortion, and that has prompted some to claim that I am a hypocrite and not a true libertarian.

I think I need to clarify a bit.

My stance on abortion is more nuanced than being strictly “for” or “against”. I will start by stating emphatically that I do not believe that the government should be involved in the decision at all, until 25 weeks. It is a valid function of the government to protect an individual from harm by another individual. At 25 weeks, the baby is viable and can live outside the womb, and so should be treated as an individual and protected against being murdered just as the government would protect any individual against being murdered. There is no issue with the baby trampling the mother’s rights at that point, either, because the mother is the one who made the decisions that got her pregnant, and is living with the consequences of HER choices, not the baby’s infringement on her rights.

Before 25 weeks, however, abortion is none of the government’s business.

My personal stance on abortion is that I think it should be avoided at all costs, whenever possible. There are other options, and I think that we could virtually eliminate it as a problem by teaching our children differently about sex and its consequences. The problem is that many people want to ONLY teach our kids about abstinence, and then we teach them about how their lives will be ruined – RUINED, I say! – by an unwanted pregnancy. This stuck with my wife for so long that we were thirty before she even wanted to try and have kids, because she was convinced that a baby would ruin her life by the after-school specials and the darkened-face “horror” stories told by her health teacher in High School.

If we were to throw out abstinence only education, and welcome an education that teaches that there are ways to keep from getting pregnant in the first place, and failing that, alternatives to abortion, like adoption, which are more upstanding and less destructive to life, then abortion may not be so prevalent. If we were to let our kids know that there is support, and a pregnancy won’t ruin your life (just change it), and it may be a blessing, well, then, abortion might just become quite a bit more rare. What I’m saying is that instead of scaring the hell out of these kids, lets educate them, so that they aren’t as apt to get pregnant (my wife and I lived together for 12 years without getting pregnant, and did not get pregnant until 4 months after we chose to do so – it is possible!) in the first place, and if they do get pregnant, they aren’t so scared by the prospect of it that their first reaction is to kill their unborn child.

My suggestion is that parents stop having these unrealistic expectations that their sons and daughters will remain celebate (did you at their age? Really?) until they are married, and take a more proactive approach, including helping them acquire contraception prior to finding out that they are sexually active, and also by talking with them about the parent’s expectations and what they would like to see the child do, while making it clear that they love them no matter what.

I think that the greatest crime of all is that we have 17 year old kids making life altering decisions out of fear or sheer terror instead of based on rational fact, because they have been taught some perverted version of the truth, and as a result, they will have to live for the rest of their lives with the horrible decision that they made at 17 years old, because they were scared shitless instead of informed.

And finally, no, I do not support any attempts by any governmental fiat, legislation, regulation, or otherwise, to prevent or regulate the provision of abortions to anyone who wants one prior to 25 weeks. It isn’t their place, and they need to be taught their place.

The Domino Effect

I find it strange that a mere 6 or 7 years ago, George Bush was standing before the nation suggesting that the installation of a democratic regime in Iraq could possibly cause a “domino effect” in the middle east, causing the people of the middle east to begin, one by one, to demand similar governance from their established regimes. The reason that I find it strange is because that very thing is happening, right now before our very watchful eyes, and it seems no one has the temerity to even consider mentioning that on any major news outlet.

I will go on record reiterating that I am not a fan of George Bush, and never have been. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that he was no defender of freedom (USAPA, DHS, TSA) and was fiscally about as reckless a President as we’ve ever seen (until Obama). I am not really even suggesting that his efforts in Iraq really started the domino effect that we are seeing today, because I don’t know enough about the root causes of these revolutions to really say. But the important point is that no one does so anyone waving off the possibility that Bush’s invasion and regime change in Iraq was the catalyst for all of this is just as honest as anyone claiming that they know that Bush caused it.

Of course, the reason it is being ignored isn’t because no one has thought of it. It is because it doesn’t fit the narrative that Bush was an idiot, evil warmonger Halliburton/oil company stooge that invaded Iraq to get oil. To present the idea that he was right as possibility, it would present as possible, also, that Bush was actually an astute and shrewd planner who had foresight that no one in the media bothered to have. They simply will not allow that.

Now, consider that it was Barack Obama who had suggested the domino effect 6 years ago. Do you think that the media would have conveniently forgotten about it? Or would they be screaming on every headline about how Obama deserved credit for these revolutions, what with his clear, focused, forward thinking and almost omniscient ability to foretell the future and all? I think I know how I would vote. How about you?

Bullying - A Personal Experience

I was bullied in grade school. I was a dork. I still am a dork. I am not ashamed of my dorkiness, nor have I ever really been, except for a period of time in 7th grade when I managed to let my guard down and really let the bullies get under my skin.

When I say that I am a dork, what I mean is that I was very socially awkward. I think a good portion of my awkwardness was based upon the fact that I had a very advanced and above average intellect for a kid my age. My teachers called me an “old soul” and marveled at my ability to correct them when they were wrong in the lessons that they were teaching, almost on a daily basis. To do so meant that I was leaps and bounds ahead of my peers in knowledge and interests, because they were just then learning about things that I was so well versed in that I could catch the small errors, misconceptions, or mistakes in the curriculum that even the teachers weren’t catching. To get to that point meant that I spent a great amount of time learning on my own, reading ahead in textbooks from grade levels above, reading books with differing viewpoints, teaching myself algebra, and so forth. It was what I wanted to do with my life. I hungered for knowledge like it was sustenance, and most importantly, I found myself to be massively bored at school. It was all review to me, you see. The classes just couldn’t keep up with me, and so to stimulate my brain and keep from dying of boredom, I would read these advanced texts when other students went to recess.

I had a few very close friends, some of whom I am still very close to to this day. They accepted me as being who I am. They saw that just because I was awkward socially didn’t mean that I didn’t have something to offer as a friend. My friends all had a select few things in common, however, which I find to be interesting now looking back on it.

1.) They were all above average intellect. My closest friend of all ended up being valedictorian. I did not, unfortunately, because often times I didn’t focus on turning in the right paper at the right time. I was far enough ahead that it seemed remedial to me to have to write this paper or do that assignment, and so I often times ignored them because I didn’t see the benefit in doing them when I knew that I had mastered the subject, much to the chagrin of my teachers.

2.) They were all physically active outdoorsy types, like me, but didn’t find a lot of benefit to playing with our peer group during recess because the things they did – playing hopscotch of dodgeball or whatever – just didn’t interest them.

In hindsight, I realize that I had very few friends from my specific age group, and in fact most of my friends at the time were quite a bit older than I was. This is still true to this day. “Old soul” and all, I guess.

I was also a bit doughy. I was always big for my age, and have since birth carried too much fat for my frame. I was typically the tallest kid in my class, with few exceptions, and was nearly always the heaviest. I wasn’t massively fat, I was just really big, but when you take a physical difference and mix it up with social awkwardness, you have a recipe for a bullied kid.

I was no exception.

The funny thing about it all was that, looking back on it now, I never really let it bother me much. I knew at that time that I was so advanced in intellect over these other kids that them making fun of me was like some Harvard grad making fun of Einstein because he didn’t have an Ivy League education. In my mind, I was like an eagle being harassed by crows – so far above the crows in ability, stature, and concept that they were just a paltry annoyance rather than a real concern.

Until 7th grade. They found a chink in my armor sometime around 7th grade. To this day, I cannot put my finger on what exactly changed in 7th grade that had me go from a boy ignoring a bunch of hectoring annoyances to a boy mentally destroyed by horrible bullies. Something did change, and I was miserable for it.

I didn’t want to go to school. There was nothing there for me, you see. I wasn’t getting any satisfaction from 7th grade classes when I was already reading sophomore-level textbooks, and I wasn’t getting any good social interaction that I couldn’t get from a visit to my friend’s house after school, and so all I was getting was beaten down, hectored, and made to feel sub-human by a bunch of human parasites that acquired their motivation to live by sucking it out of others.

My friends, many of whom ran with the same crowd that bullied me when they weren’t around, to their credit, stuck by me to a man. When the popular girl would come and ask me out, and then, before I could answer, would laugh in my face and call me a fag, they would tell her to fuck off, as good friends should do, but none of them really came to blows over what was being done, and you could see that inside their eyes, they were conflicted about it all – stuck between two sets of friends and not sure which one to stick by.

It only lasted for two years, thank Christ, because I matured, grew into my body, and lost a bunch of fat. My Freshman year in High School, I was bench-pressing 275 pounds, which was 100 pounds more than my body weight. I also developed socially and became gregarious, witty, and not nearly as withdrawn as I’d been for most of my younger years. These factors, put together, meant that I graduated from being a fatty social pariah to the popular crowd, to being a person that they wanted on their “team”. At first I was flattered to be able to be friends with the “in” crowd, and even found myself watching them torturing another person in much the same way that they’d previously tortured me, and to my everlasting shame, though I did not take an active part in it, I did nothing about it.

That lasted about a month or two, before I realized that these were not the types of people that I wanted to be friends with. I moved on, keeping my old friends close and growing as a person, socially, but for the most part, I kept my head down and didn’t do much with the bully crowd, either with them or against them.

I found my last two years of High School to be some of the best of my life. I was no longer socially awkward – quite the opposite, in fact, as I’d suddenly become to life of many a party. I was no longer fat, per se, although as I said before I was and always will be heavy. Think of the “me” back in those days of resembling Magnus Vermagnusson in that I was certainly not a skinny man, and was definitely blessed with an overabundance of body fat, but that I was not fat in the classic sense. I was barrel-chested, tall, and big. By my Senior year in High school, at 17 years old, I was bench pressing 350 pounds and weighed 230 pounds, and stood 6’4” tall. This, more than anything, may have been the reason that the bully crowd left me alone. I could have physically destroyed any one of them in an instant if I’d so chosen, and if there is one thing universal about bullies, it is that they are all, to a person, cowards.

It was in my Senior Year of High School that it really sunk in that I had not been alone in being bullied. It seemed to helpless at the time, and I felt so alone, that it hadn’t really occurred to me that other kids had been living the same hell that I had been. Many others, of whom most hadn’t been blessed with a spontaneous social blossoming or massive size and strength, meaning that their torment had continued while mine was abating, were still out there, living the same hell that they’d lived since first grade. They hadn’t had the same armor that I’d had in my formative years, and a decade or so of being beaten down by their peers had left them convinced that they were useless, and that all of the things that they had been told all of those years were actually true.

One boy in particular caught my attention. I am ashamed that I cannot remember his name after all of these years (I think it was Josh. Pal, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry), but I can tell you that I remember the rest of him very well. He was slight. At 16 years old, he stood to maybe 5’ 4”, and weighed a blush over 115 pounds. He had white, wispy hair almost like an albino (although he was not true albino), and had a very low self-esteem, and a corresponding very low IQ. He sat next to me in German class. I helped him in his studies every day, but soon realized that he needed a lot more help than just getting past German class.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight, I realize that the poor kid probably came from an abusive home. He was obviously malnourished, and was so beaten down that he truly thought that he was incapable of even the simplest of tasks, and died a thousand deaths of embarrassment and shame every time he misspoke or made even the tiniest of mistakes.

All of which made him the perfect target for the fucking coward bullies. He was too small to fight back, even if he’d been sure enough of himself to give it a shot. His home life had already beaten him down into tacitly accepting his worthlessness, and so it came as second nature to him to absorb the heaps of abuse that were pushed upon him by the cowards in the commons.

It was this poor boy that made me realize that I had the ability to do something about this torment, and so I did. I made friends with him, even though I wasn’t really interested in being his friend – he wasn’t even remotely close to being my intellectual equal, and his only interests were getting across the school commons without being abused, so we shared no interests and had nothing in common except for the fact that we’d both been victims of the same bullies, only he more viciously than I. I began to tutor him after school on my own time and for no other reason than because I wanted to help him.

I made it clear to everyone in my school that he was my friend, and that anyone who decided to treat my friend with anything other than respect was by extension doing the same thing to me. I had recently gotten in one of the three fights that I’ve ever been in in my entire life after a punk pulled a switchblade on one of my friends while I was nearby. The guy with the knife lost horribly, and so I’d gotten a reputation as a guy that would and could defend his friends. The second fight of my life occurred shortly thereafter, when Josh accidentally got a piece of wood bound up in a table saw in the woodshop and it got bound up and shot across the shop, hitting a popular kid in the back.

The offended kid was big, fast, and mean, and he saw the accident as an affront to his dominance, and after class, proceeded to kick the ever loving shit out of Josh. I almost cried when I saw him later, because he needed to go to the hospital, but didn’t even think that he was worth the nurse’s or doctor’s time to fix him (such was his level of self-worth). He talked about limping home that night and killing himself. I called the school counselor, who came and helped him with that, and who also got him medical attention (that which his parents would allow, which wasn’t much). In the mean time, I went looking for the bully responsible. I didn’t plan on getting in a fight with him for two reasons. First, I don’t fight. It isn’t me, and I’m not the kind of guy that does stuff like that. Second, I was scared of this guy. He was faster than me. He was certainly meaner and more confident in his fighting abilities, and at the time, I was certain that he was stronger (although that proved to be incorrect).

Turns out when I found him that he wasn’t interested in talking about what he’d done, because I think that subconsciously he was ashamed of it. There is no honor in beating the shit out of a wisp of a kid like Josh, and he knew it. Instead of admitting that or discussing it like a rational person, he decided to escalate the situation and fight me over it. I didn’t strike him, although he got a good right to my cheek that stung like blazes. I was a wrestler, and decided to try to wrestle him into submission. I got him into a particularly painful submission hold and made him promise to apologize to Josh and admit to the main office that it was him that had beaten him. I doubt very much that he did either, because I never checked up on him later, but it didn’t matter. My point had been made, and I had proven that this guy wasn’t as tough as he made himself to be.

Three weeks later, I graduated, and never saw Josh again. I don’t know where he is, or what he has done with himself, but I can only hope that he found a way to overcome the adversity that he lived through in the first half of his life and has done better with the second. What I do know is that for at least three weeks, Josh got a reprieve from being hectored and heckled, because none of the coward pieces of shit that were bulling him were brave enough to do so once they knew that there would be consequences.

It is for this reason that I do not care what horrible things happened in a bully’s life to make them a bully. Every man makes his own decisions in life, no matter what has happened to you in the past. The decision to be a bully is simply a pertpetuation of whatever bad thing happened to the bully to make him the way he was, and this inability to break that cycle sits low in esteem with me. I lived through a short period in hell because of these cowards, and I’ve seen people ruined over it. I won’t waste any breath defending a bully. They’ve made their choice, and if I’m around while they ply their horrible trade, they’ll have me to deal with. While that may not be as big a thing as it used to be, before I hurt my back and got sick, it is still 6’ 4” and 300 pounds of stronger than average mean that will be coming after your ass, so think about that before you try to lift yourself up by beating another person down.

Unsolicited Medical Advice

What is it about illness that opens a person up as a free-for-all repository of the worst, most condescending advice imaginable? You find out you have cancer, and you go to work the next day and tell your co-workers about it, and suddenly, you are getting “drop-bys” from people you hardly know and e-mails with links to every type of “alternative” medicine that you could possibly imagine, all of them breathlessly guaranteeing you that if you don’t do it this, that, or the other way, you are surely going to die – oh, and don’t listen to those “medical professionals” that say you need “medicine” or “radiation therapy” because those don’t work, but if you change your diet to only nuts and raw meat, then your cancer will miraculously and spontaneously die. Oh, and don’t ask why the actual “medical professionals” don’t know about this, because they are in the pockets of “big pharmacy” who apparently single-handedly have decided that we will not do things that actually work and save lives because it doesn’t sell as much drugs because these are evil companies without question because, well, you know… profit.

My favorite thing to do is point out that no drug company has a patent on the drug “radiation”, so if it is the case that “big pharmacy” is killing us all (because, well, profit) then how does a technique like radiation therapy, which makes them no money, slip through the cracks, but nuts and raw meat didn’t?

I do not believe that this is coming from any attempt to help (for the most part, anyway). I’ve paid attention to the types of people that provide this type of unsolicited advice, and have found in general that they are the same people bragging about the things they’ve owned, done, or how many people they’ve outsmarted. It is an ego trip. It is them assuming that you are not smart enough to have done all the research yourself. It is an opportunity to stand in front of someone and say that you are smarter than not just them, but the entire medical establishment, and that your way is better because their way… well… profit!

Take my friend Jack. I love Jack like a brother. I enjoy my time with him and we have great times. I see past Jack’s faults, just as he sees past mine, and we accept each other for who we are, as-is.

That being said, Jack is a braggart. He loves to brag about things he’s done, things he owns, and things he knows, and hates to be in a situation where he might be “one-upped.” This personality has lead Jack to be a very successful, highly driven person who simply refuses to come in second. It has also lead him to become the type of person who gives out unsolicited medical advice.

Jack has minor psoriasis on his scalp. It is something he’s dealt with for most of his life, and believe you me, I feel for him. He has been able to control his psoriasis, and even get it to go away, by using a special type of shampoo, which he swears by. He recommended it to me when I was having my very severe problems a few years back. Being as I was 80-some-odd percent covered in the stuff, it was only going to work on my scalp, if it worked at all, but what the heck, I was willing to try anything.

Problem was, I had already tried it. I had tried everything. None of it was working. Jack continued to insist that I try his special shampoo, and told me it would solve all my problems. I told him that I’d tried it and it hadn’t worked. In a display of cognitive dissonance that was startling coming from a guy as smart as Jack, he continued to nag me about it every time I saw him, despite the fact that I’d told him clearly that it didn’t work. He insisted that it did, and that I was either using it wrong or not enough or, or, or…

Yeah, he was so stuck on being right that he was actually accusing me of not being able to use shampoo properly. It was an ego thing, and had nothing (or very little) to do with Jack actually wanting me to get better. He wanted the shampoo to work because it would mean that he was right.

Another person that I know came to me insisting that I try UV therapy. Despite the fact that I told him that I did try it and it hadn’t worked, and that the side-effects were untenable and that a goodly portion of my problem was in body areas where you can’t do UV because of radiation damage issues, he seemed to not hear me at all and insisted that his aunt’s roommate’s brother’s cousin’s psoriasis had been cured completely with only two UV treatments, and went on to tell me that I really ought to try it. I explained again, almost in the same breath as the last, that I had tried it and found it lacking, and he went into his tirade again about how it would cure me and I should give it a shot. At that point, I walked away, shaking my head.

Finally, I had another person insisting that they’d read somewhere that turmeric would cure eczema, and that I should try turmeric because, hey, if it fixes one rash, it would fix another, right? I tried to nicely explain his logical fallacy to him, by telling him that psoriasis is an auto-immune condition, of which one symptom is a rash, whereas eczema is (to the best of my knowledge) an allergic response to a topical irritant, and that there is no cure for an auto-immune condition, and that to make the rash go away, you either suppress the immune system, or use an anti-inflammatory to reduce the effect. It seemed to go nowhere, and the next words out of his mouth were “yeah, but they are both rashes…” Again, walking away.

Like parenting, dieting, and many other things, medical problems will get you a massive ration of unsolicited, condescending advice. It would do everyone some good if maybe you thought about that before proffering your own.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Sorry for the writer’s block of recent weeks. It wasn’t writer’s block, per se, because I had plenty to write about. It was more a physical writer’s block – things were physically keeping me from having the time, or when time was available, the reserve energy, to actually write my thoughts on paper and post them to this blog.

Still no baby, as of today, but my wife told me that her contractions were uncomfortable last night and kept her up for a good portion of the night. Blissful in my ignorance, I slept through the entire thing. I’ve told myself to get used to the guilty feeling I get every time my wife is up doing something and I sleep through it, because I am nothing if not a very heavy sleeper; but I still feel bad.

I got sick two weeks ago yesterday, and have been sick ever since, with a slight reprieve as the viral portion of my illness subsided and the bacterial portion kicked into high gear. The medications that I take to control my immune system can exacerbate a common cold into bronchitis and even pneumonia quite easily. I am on day 5 of a 6 day antibiotics regimen, so I feel much better now. Two weeks is long enough, as they say (I’m not sure who says that, but whatever).

I went pheasant hunting again last weekend, coughing and hacking my way through the entire mess. I was not happy, but the clients I took with me were really happy and had a great time, so there is that. That, however, has been the extent of my outdoors endeavors since Christmas. Usually at this time of year I find time to go coyote hunting, but it isn’t in the cards this year. I’m just too sick and too busy. Maybe I’ll go in March, but since the baby will be around by then, I doubt it.

April signals the beginning of the really good time to go Sturgeon fishing. The big lunkers will bite all year, and fishing is open in most places all year, but spring and fall seem to be the most productive time of year to fish for them (when the heat of summer and cold of winter have abated). I’ve made it a point to have some of my friends from the west side of the state meet me at the fishing hole, and also to take some folks here from Spokane that I would like to get closer to.

But enough about me… back to happenings and such.