Archive for June, 2008

Pixar’s WALL・E

June 27, 2008

As my brother put it when we left the theatre for the 12:01 am showing of “WALL・E”:

“Pixar just totally shits all over every other animation studio…nobody else even comes close!”

Shits all over them indeed. The movie kicked serious ass. I am wildly impressed, yet again, at Pixar’s ability to be marvelously creative and still create a top-quality film accessible to all ages…as well as one which is filled with sometimes thinly veiled satire.

The sincere and touchingly humorous romance betwee WALL・E and EVE, the two robots, is perfectly portrayed with no more than three actual words spoken…almost brought tears to my eyes. On the flip side, the movie has a powerful message about our ever-growing dependency on technology, the price we will pay for our wasteful, polluting ways, and the subsequent costs of our insatiable consumerism. Its a bleak future, and a bold statement by Pixar embedded in a beautiful movie about A.I love =)

See the movie. You know you want to.

Penicillin, erradication of Polio, treatment for HIV/AIDS…and your problem with modern medicine is what exactly?

June 27, 2008

“I really hate doctors”

What the hell is that, really? Okay, okay – maybe you’ve had some “bad” doctors in your lifetime: some asshole who makes you buy this fancy prescription drug which you *know* only costs such an ungodly amount because your doc is in cahoots with BigPharma; or the MD who told you to not to compete in that race because your knee was fucked up and just would not prescribe you extra Vicodin so you could participate…or maybe s/he just had a real shitty bedside manner. Sure, I can understand developing a distaste for that smell of disinfectant and that ice-cold stethescope and the pushy way the doctor insists that you say “ahh”, but to say “I hate doctors”?

What would you prefer instead?

Something au-naturale, I imagine. How about some arsenic diluted in water (a.k.a “homeopathy)? How about getting that kink out of your neck with a side of stroke (a.k.a “chiropractic medicine”)? Maybe we should grind up some Tiger bones and throw it around the room and pray to a heathen god?

You know what? Fuck all that. Lets just smoke some weed and call it good.

No, seriously. I must have grown up living under a rock, because it just blows my mind that there are really people out there who pooh-pooh conventional medicine in favor of so-called “Complimentary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM). Its kind of like atheism and religion: one of them [dares] to say “We don’t have the exact answer to that, but here’s what we do know, and here’s what we think will work based on the evidence…” and the other says (holding out a tattered book written by any number of lunatics sometime around 1000 B.C.), “This. Is. It. BEHOLD! TRUTH!!”

I think you know which is which.

Alright, I admit: I’m on a tirade. I’m being biased and unfair. I’m being sarcastic and I’m using uncouth language.

And I am not an MD.

I’m not even a scientist.

But here’s what I do know: conventional medicine, based in science, has been keeping civilization from collapsing under its own ignorance since Hippocrates. Medicine that does not continue to update itself according to contemporary research and withstand the scrutiny of scientific testing is not medicine: its B.S. Conventional medicine is not perfect, and science is not perfect. But asking for perfection is asking for the impossible, so instead of miracles, what you should be asking for is the best that there is. And nothing in the course of human history has proven to be as consistently and enduringly effective in explaining and pradicting the behavior of the world as the scientific method, and it is upon this which modern medicine is based. It is in a constant state of evolution, changing and improving as more information becomes available and methods of testing and measuring become more sophisticated.
This process if not without failures and mistakes, because error is an inevitable part of the human condition. But the traditions of CAM are archaic and obsolete – they are based in ignorance and misunderstandings that can no longer be tolerated when knowledge and the techniques exist and are readily available which far surpass them.

Chiro-quack-tic

June 26, 2008

Okay…first rant…aaaaannnnddddd…..GO!

—>I have a low threshold of tolerance for stupid. On a person by person basis, and because I’m fickle about choosing my face-to-face battles, I generally hold my tongue and smile and nod or simply decline to comment, and save my ranting for the few people who know me well enough to endure my long-winded raves. I’m pretty liberal, and while generally open-minded and live-and-let-live about things, I take a very firm stance with regard to a few particular things: religion and non-scientific/illogical B.S.

These encompass a large, potentially hugely inflammatory subject spectrum, particularly being that my own opinion is generally, “You don’t really buy in to that fucking nonsense, DO YOU???”, and so, for the sake of my relationships with people whom I care about but who might not take kindly to having their world-views pissed on, I try to avoid talking about these things, or at least disagreeing as neutrally as possible.

So then, lets get some context for this rant: my boyfriend has posture-issues and some other slowly worsening but non-life-threatening back problems, and his love for powerlifting is not likely doing his poor spine any favors. Soured somewhat by a number of bad experiences with MDs (who invariably reccommend as a first course of action that he stop doing the thing that is making his back worse…which is of course, lifting weights. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go over very well with him), he now sees a chiropractor several times a week. Now, up until just about a month ago, I admittedly knew very little about the actual practice and held a mild distain for chiropractors in general for no other reason than I had, on more than one occasion, heard from reliable sources that the profession was essentially bunk. Eddie Izzard also did a funny stand-up routine which reduced the whole concept of chiropractic therapy to indiscriminate “bone-cracking”…and I really like Eddie. Anyway, my reaction was to be skeptical and mention that, from what I’d heard, it was a waste of money and he’d be better off going to a masseuse. He agreed, sort of, but felt that in spite of all the obviously quack theories about “subluxation” and the like, it had been shown to be effective for many people and he felt he was benefitting from it. I mentally rolled my eyes and just dismissed it as a harmless waste of time. Whatever. Not worth arguing about.

A few weeks ago, he invited me to come and meet his chiropractor and watch him get his back “done”. Cool. I was interested to see just what went on, and eager for what would undoubtedly be a first hand demonstration as to the true crackpot-tery of chiropractic “medicine”. I expected to come away feeling validated in my skepticism.

What I didn’t expect, at least not in the forefront of my mind, was to watch that fucker snap my boyfriend’s neck.

Fucking hell….

That sent chills right down my spine. Of course, he was fine and apparently had it done every time he came in (!?!?!?!), but my decidedly vocal and sometimes over-bearing voice of reason just had an absolute conniption fit in my head: “AHHHH!! NO FUCKING WAY! That is soooo dangerous! You so DO NOT snap a person’s head like that, NO NO NO and NO! TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!!! You could have broken his neck you damn retard!!! Every heard of fucking WHIPLASH!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING, YOU RAVING LUNATIC—–”

….and so on and so forth. My brain has a dirty mouth, too. And an explosively low tolerance for stupid.

So I clenched my teeth and just kind of watched, silently horrified as he repeated it on each side, recalling the numerous assassin/kung-fu movies where I’d seen the very same maneuver deftly applied to stealthily drop an opponent in one swift jerk. *shudder*

“Did you see what I just did there?” The asshat has the nerve to ask me, eager for me to parrot-back some bull’ from his previous schpeal and see how many pearls of wisdom I had gleamed.

“…..it looks like you just tried to break his neck….” I respond with a set jaw.

*chuckles* “Looks like you’ve been watching too many kung-fu movies!”

Hardy-fucking-har.

Maybe I’m overreacting here, but as far as I’m concerned, there is no conceivable benefit that would justify snapping someone’s neck like that (watch this video
at about 1:20. That’s what my boyfriend’s chiropractor did, but with even more of a rotation. Now, tell me, people: DOES THAT LOOK SAFE TO YOU???). Unlike your lower back/spine, which is quite snugly embedded and supported within your torso, your neck is just hanging out there, like a fucking twig, with your gargantuan head balanced on top. Being that it connects your brain to your body, I’d say that, since it is indeed a necessity to your continuing to live, but is nonetheless sadly lacking in protection from injury and incredibly fragile, under no circumstances should you do things like JERK and SNAP it around. I think that’s just fucking common sense.

If it made me feel ill to see it knowing only what I did then, it made me even more horrified to research the subject and find that, while “rare”, there is an INHERENT risk for stroke by means of tearing either or both of the two large arteries woven into the cervical vertebrae. The danger of stroke could also be increased by an individual’s pre-existing risk factors…like a long history of smoking (He only quit a few years ago after having smoked very heavily for two years straight in Japan, where he was also constantly bombarded with second-hand smoke, no doubt, and stressed out all-to-shit by the culture). The stroke may not happen at once, but tears in the arteries which do not in themselves cause a stroke would certainly precipitate one…in other words, set-off by neck manipulation, or created/exacerbated by neck manipulation over time.

And I was just worried about dislocated vertebrae and possible paralysis.

*grinds teeth*

His response, however, when I, as patiently and calmly as possible, asked him if he was aware of this risk:

I may stop having it done if I can establish with him that there is

some inherent risk. If I had to choose between a stiff neck and being

dead, I’d take the stiff neck, of course. So far, most of what I’ve

read about it is the usual back and forth you get with anything.

*grips monitor and thrashes about incredulously*

IF he can establish WITH HIM that there is SOME INHERENT RISK???????????? USUAL BACK AND FORTH??????

Oh, baby, you are sooooo much smarter than that! Where has your common sense gone? Your sense of self-preservation?? WHERE IS YOUR HEAD??

I can’t believe, frankly, that he doesn’t take the problem seriously on the basis of his own every-day sensibilities. NECK + SNAPPING = BAD…Period. Any reasonable person should know this.

It’s like wearing a seatbelt: sure, in all likely-hood, you could go the rest of your life without wearing one and never have a problem. BUT – and the “but” is really the key, here – at any given time, unpredictably and without warning, you could just as easily be in an accident that propels your hapless body through the windshield, or simply lets you get throttled and contorted because you’re floating about freely in the vehicle, and if you’re very, very lucky, you’ll make it out alive without permanent injury. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll live, but odds are you’ll never be the same again physically. Or, you could be dead. But the odds that you survive, uninjured, increase by huge orders of magnitude if you just do one, simple thing: WEAR YOUR FUCKING SEAT BELT!!!!!!

…or, in this case, DO NOT HAVE YOUR NECK SNAPPED. Pure and simple. The risk-to-benefit ratio is non-existent: all risk, no benefit.

GAH!!!

More to the point, though, watching him have his neck “manipulated” like that just plain scared the shit out of me. It deeply frightens me in ways I can’t even begin to describe to think of anything happening to him, and the sensation of fear I felt for his life in that instant was so sharp I’m sure I couldn’t even have drawn breath for a few seconds after…

I remember the one time he was joking around and pretending his ‘pacemaker’ was going out because I was talking on my cellphone. It did not even register with me that we’d just been talking about cellphones and pacemakers when we left the clinic – rather, the first thing I thought of was that he often has difficulty swallowing because of his acid reflux, and that jumped immediately to the panic button which went “Oh my god, is he choking???” I didn’t freak out, per se, but he told me later (after I’d made it clear I failed to get the joke) that he’d never seen me look at him like that before and apologized for scaring me. Apparently I blanched pretty good and looked as horrified as I felt – which was pretty damned horrified. That was also the first time I realized even the thought of him getting hurt was not something I was going to be able to deal with very well….let alone the thought of him dying.

…and what my reaction to him “tells me” about my feelings for him, well….that’s for another entry.

*sigh* Admittedly, when I do get my hackles up about something, I know I tend to take it too far. Which is why I’m still mostly keeping my mouth shut. We haven’t yet had a real fight, and I don’t want to go overboard abou this, but I have a feeling this is going to be an issue. I will also admit that my own experience with medical doctors has been nothing but confidence-inspiring and almost always “good”, and so I have no personal negativity towards conventional medicine. On the other hand, I have never heard anything but negative views on CAM, and the few positive views always sound like a reverent glossing over of reality with superstitious nonesense. Not to mention the oodles of research which all point to the utter lack of viability and startling potential for serious harm. We’ve already kind of mutually decided that it would be best if I just don’t come with him to his appointments…and that we try not to talk about it. But it still bothers me. It bothers me because of the senselessness of the risk he’s taking. It bothers me because he already does a number of other things that are not condusive to his living a long and healthy life. And his not having a long and healthy life bothers me most of all. My boyfriend is no idiot – in fact, he’s easily one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met – but I just find the evidence, coupled with my own intuition, to be so overwhelmingly in opposition of these practices that I cannot help but feel a little dumbfounded as to how he can continue to tolerate them, no matter what his dislike for conventional medicine. But I do loathe being a nag, so now that I’ve said my piece, I’m going to wait it out and hope he realizes on his own that he’s putting his very life at risk for a stiff neck on the basis of pseudo-scientific quack-medicine. I really, really do…

Information about Stroke and Neck Manipulation:

Science-Based Medicine: Chiropractic & Stroke

Confessions of a Quakbuster:Links to blog articles, research papers, and news stories

 

 

[…]

June 26, 2008

I don’t expect this blog to get much attention, but occassionally I feel the need to rant, and it feels somehow fruitless to just fill my desktop space with random word documents whenever the urge strikes…not to mention I can never find anything when I want it. A word of warning (to my as-yet non-existent readers): I am a raging, liberal atheist and I will tend to write in that mindset, most likely on things that are inflammatory. I also swear a lot.