In which I state my opinion. An opinion literally no one has asked for, or is even interested in!

OMFG, fitness trackers. Waste of money and resources for the collection of so-called ‘data’ you can mentally jerk off over while learning absolutely nothing of use!

Most of what you know about how your body works is either so incomplete as to verge on useless, or is just plain wrong. Like that whole calorie theory thing turned out to be bullshit, for instance, so knowing how many calories you’ve “burned” while, I don’t know, walking on your lunch hour, is “information” that basically means nothing in the real world and so why the fuck should you be tracking it?

But fitness trackers record how long you’ve worked out! Super useful! Because, what, clocks don’t exist? You don’t need a device to tell you how long or how hard you’ve worked out, and you know it. You know every moment of your life how you’re eating, how you’re moving, how you’re feeling. A device can’t tell you shit about those things you don’t already know. Nor can a device make you care about things you don’t actually care about, or cause any change in your behavior whatsoever. Only you can do that.

And sleep problems? Bitch, please. Quit the drugs and alcohol and stimulants, stabilize your schedule, and go to bed earlier. That’s it. You don’t need a high dollar toy to tell you what you need to do to sleep better, and you fucking know it.

Your nifty new toy — and the charts and graphs it generates — will not strengthen your willpower, relax you, or increase your health. It’ll just give you a bunch of useless data and increase whatever anxiety you might have about your body or your health. I mean, come on. You already know that software has never truly changed your life for the better; generally the trend is that avoiding software is the best choice for mental, emotional, and physical health. Who doesn’t know this already?

“Fitness” tracker is an oxymoron because there’s no fitness — of anything — involved whatsoever. It’s just another high tech gadget, the mass production of which is wasting more goddamned resources so that upper class white people can learn absolutely nothing meaningful about themselves while still seeming to be doing something.

Knowing how many steps you took today is important in a total of absolutely zero ways to everyone except perhaps people in physical rehab after foot surgery. Knowing how often your heart beat today is useful only if your numbers are far, far out of the range of the norm, in which case you’d best get yourself off to a doctor and wonder how the fuck you’re so out of touch with your own body that you never noticed you were dying before. Knowing how many calories you ingested or burned is useless too, considering that the quality of calories is far more important than the quantity in terms of intake, and incredibly complicated in terms of fat storage or calories burned, so much so that these numbers are effectively meaningless.

If you really want to quantify yourself, please find some other metric (like maybe how much money or time you donated, or how many minutes you spent with friends, or how many times you think about love per hour). Unless you’re a professional athlete, having a fitness tracker is dumb. Everything you might think a fitness tracker can tell you, you already have methods of measuring: you have clocks and the internet. With clocks you can measure how long you exercise, how long you sleep, and what your pulse rate is. With the internet you can find out in an instant that your spaghetti squash Alfredo has an incredibly low G.I. for such a delicious dish. You do not need another piece of plastic and rare earth-wasting electronics to tell you shit you already know.

Plus nobody actually uses the things! They end up in random drawers within weeks. Tell you what: rather than buy a stupid piece of future landfill, just send me the a hundred bucks and an email about what you’ve eaten, and I’ll send you back a pie chart explaining that you need more fat in your diet and that you should go to fucking bed already. Win/win!

Feminism, college students, and #BLM

December 29th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (2 Comments)

In which no one will ever truly understand you.

...just like everybody else

In which I freak out. Seriously. Not even kidding.

I haven’t spent much time in chans or forums because they’re stupid, but even so I’ve seen countless nerds type “kill yourself” at each other, and sometimes it’s hilarious. In IRC it’s practically a tradition to tell chatters to go commit suicide — preferably immediately, by gun, and live via Skype. It’s typical shock-based online shenanigans and it’s funny.

BUT THEN THERE’S MOTHERFUCKING FACEBOOK, AND THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT EVEN KIDDING.

I’ve been ranting forever about the impossibly dumb shit people post about — the anti-vaxxers and the New Age hippies and the holistic practitioners with their weekend retreats and cooking classes or whatever — but after today, I think I really just can’t afford to look at Facebook ever again.

Because today on Facebook, I saw someone I went to university with tell somebody with cancer to do the Gerson “protocol” instead of taking his chemo.

Which is literally one person saying to another, “lol go kill yourself fgt,” only it’s not even mildly funny.

If you have the kind of cancer that would have chemo prescribed in the first place, you have a type of cancer that has a record of responding to chemo. (If your cancer historically doesn’t give a fuck about chemo, they’re not gonna recommend it.)

Chemo is demonstrably effective and does save lives. The evidence is literally everywhere, because basically everybody knows someone who has survived cancer through chemotherapy. Fuck yeah, chemo sucks. Fuck yeah, nobody likes it. But we do it when indicated because even though it sucks ass, doing chemo is much more effective against certain kinds of cancer than not doing it. People telling you that 2% bullshit are trying to sell you something.

Juicing, on the other hand, DOES ABSOLUTELY FUCK-ALL FOR CANCER*, and all the other wacky shit in the Gerson ‘protocol,’ like the no-salt diet and the liver injections, is actively fucking dangerous:

Between 1980 and 1986, at least 13 patients treated with Gerson therapy were admitted to San Diego area hospitals with Campylobacter fetus sepsis attributable to the liver injections. None of the patients was cancer-free, and one died of his malignancy within a week. Five were comatose due to low serum sodium levels, presumably as a result of the “no sodium” Gerson dietary regimen. As a result, Gerson personnel modified their techniques for handling raw liver products and biologicals. However, the Gerson approach still has considerable potential for harm. Deaths also have been attributed to the coffee enemas administered at the Tijuana clinic.

…A naturopath who visited the Gerson Clinic in 1983 was able to track 21 patients over a 5-year period (or until death) through annual letters or phone calls. At the 5-year mark, only one was still alive (but not cancer-free); the rest had succumbed to their cancer.

And forty years before that:

In 1947, the NCI reviewed ten cases selected by Dr. Gerson and found his report unconvincing. That same year, a committee appointed by the New York County Medical Society reviewed records of 86 patients, examined ten patients, and found no evidence that the Gerson method had value in treating cancer. An NCI analysis of Dr. Gerson’s book A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases concluded in 1959 that most of the cases failed to meet the criteria (such as histologic verification of cancer) for proper evaluation of a cancer case. A recent review of the Gerson treatment rationale concluded: (a) the “poisons” Gerson claimed to be present in processed foods have never been identified, (b) frequent coffee enemas have never been shown to mobilize and remove poisons from the liver and intestines of cancer patients, (c) there is no evidence that any such poisons are related to the onset of cancer, (d) there is no evidence that a “healing” inflammatory reaction exists that can seek out and kill cancer cells.

These idiots have been torturing human beings (and not curing cancer) for over forty years! And yet it’s the real doctors we hate?

Using woo and pseudo-science to scare people off an effective, proven tool like vaccines is one thing (because you’re likely to be far removed from the real-life results of your stance, alternately known as “other people’s dead babies”), but telling someone diagnosed with cancer to buy a fucking Vitamix? Seriously?! Someone freaked out and terrified and grasping at straws, you’re gonna give them half-assed off-the-cuff advice about shit you know nothing about and are UTTERLY UNQUALIFIED TO DISCUSS? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU EVEN SLEEP AT NIGHT?

I mean, I know. I know. You’re not trolling, you really do believe in this stuff. You’re nice people and you have big hearts and you’ve dutifully internalized everything you’ve been told about “healing” (which is not the same as actual medical science, which is fine… until you’re dealing with actual disease) and you hardly ever truly contemplate the sources of these teachings. You honestly think you’re being helpful and insightful and open-minded and you pride yourselves on being alternative. Shit, a lot of you have undergone various numbers of years of training in these things, and make your livelihoods from selling your services to the worried well.

You’ve bought the conspiracy hook, line, and sinker, and you really do think that “natural healing” modalities are being suppressed by The Man because money. You haven’t stopped to deeply consider that “natural” not only doesn’t mean anything (everything that exists is “natural”), but that even if it did it wouldn’t matter because natural isn’t intrinsically better. Which is why we take aspirin, which is dosage-controlled, uniform, and well-understood, rather than willow tree bark, every example of which will vary wildly in terms of strength and effectiveness. It hasn’t really occurred to you that the vast majority of the time, Reiki and yoga and Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine and herbs and homeopathy and The Secret are fine because they give people a very deep and very needed sense of agency — I myself do Sun Salutes and eat kitcheree and throw I Ching on occasion — but that for actual life-threatening diseases, these approaches universally fail to produce measurable, repeatable results**.

Which means, in a nutshell, that they’re placebo. They don’t work. They don’t work because the Universe is orderly and full of laws, and regular ol’ unenlightened people only get cured when the cures actually work.

So you’re not malicious or even truly stupid, I know that, but I just don’t think I can stand it anymore. It’s not just the political nonsense; I can’t count the number of times some addle-headed creature I’m friends with (usually but not always from Fairfield) has posted some pseudo-scientific jargony bullshit on Facebook and I’ve replied with the appropriate Quackwatch or Snopes or Wikipedia link… and then gone back and deleted it ten minutes later, because these are nice people and their intentions are good and they’d probably be really hurt if I called them gullible addle-headed twats right on their own Facebook walls.

But the truth is that Reiki doesn’t cure anything, homeopathy doesn’t cure anything, and The Secret just make terminally ill people feel guilty for being sick. Making the worried well feel better is something, obviously, but it’s NOT THE SAME AS ACTUAL MEDICAL SCIENCE. We need to develop the discernment that allows us to tell the fucking difference between a healer-prescribed smoothie diet for your psychosomatic fibromyalgia and chemo-fucking-therapy for your actual cancer: The first does nothing, is not detectable, and operates only in the so-called sufferer’s head. The second is measurably effective in the real world. Which is what you need if you’re unenlightened and sick.

Most of the time, believing in bullshit is harmless. Most people, regardless of their Facebook posts, do get their vaccines before international travel, and they do take chemotherapy when they get cancer, so what they “believe” in between times is essentially irrelevant.

But man, these posts! I’m like, HOW DO YOU EITHER NOT KNOW (OR NOT CARE) THAT JOE MERCOLA HAS BEEN SANCTIONED BY THE FDA… MORE THAN ONCE? He sells diagnostic equipment as a breast cancer “cure,” for fuck’s sake! He lives in a multi-million dollar dwelling and repeatedly claims he’s not in it for the money! HE’S TOTALLY A FUCKING QUACK! JUST LIKE OZ AND JOHN OF GOD AND CHRISTIANE NORTHRUP AND EVEN CHOPRA! How do you not know that mercola.com and whale.to and naturalnews.com and acam.org are not news sources but stores, selling snake oil to the ignorant masses?!

Well, you do know. You obviously know, because you’re the ones buying all the pills and capsules and drops and teas and herbs and mushrooms and salves and books and tapes and retreats and seminars and cruises. You people are a multi-billion dollar industry. You’re making Oz and Oprah and Mercola and Chopra filthy fucking rich.

It literally takes only seconds, to vet anyone who’s ever been on Oprah for quackery, using an internet connection and a search engine. Seconds! I’d never even heard of this horrific and crazy Gerson therapy until I read that Facebook post, but I knew in less than 90 seconds that it was bullshit, and unsafe bullshit at that.

Those of you who continue to believe in your ridiculous “vaccine reform” nonsense are doing real damage. Infants are dying of fucking whooping cough now, because you think your feelings and half-assed, biased internet “research” equals real expertise. Well, you’re not fucking experts, you don’t understand most of what you read, and you’re not qualified to think what you think, period. I’m totally unqualified too, WHICH IS WHY I READ ACTUAL EXPERTS RATHER THAN FAME-SEEKING RETARDS LIKE THE ENTERTAINERS ON FUCKING OPRAH. You want to get involved in “vaccine reform”? Go get a BS in molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or microbiology. Until then, shut the fuck up because you literally do not know what you’re talking about, regardless of your feelings. Seriously.

Those of you who tell people who are genuinely sick and suffering to turn their backs on the sum of human scientific and medical knowledge and let some unqualified, credulous woo practitioner direct their treatments ARE DIRECTLY CAUSING HARM by choosing not to vet your own goddamned idiotic beliefs! HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS AND FIND WITHIN YOURSELF A DEEP AND URGENT DESIRE TO CORRECT YOUR FAULT?

Yes, yes, karma, blah blah blah. Somebody may be “destined” to logon to Facebook, see a link, and fire their oncologist because they’re “supposed” to die an awful, unmanaged, hideously painful death at the hands of charlatans. What the fuck ever. I’ve read my scripture and damn right it’s my duty to at least try to stop the tide when it gets to the point it’s doing actual damage.

Listen. Any modality that blames the patient for not getting well is not medicine, it’s woo. And all woo does this. Sick? Stressed? Dying of cancer? It’s your fault! You deserve it. We were unable to cure you because there’s something inherently wrong with you, you didn’t try hard enough, you’re not pure. It’s your karma.

I just don’t know if I can deal. While I do learn a fuckton of (mostly useless!) knowledge looking up every second or third claim I see while scrolling down that Facebook feed, I just don’t know what to do when grown-ass adult human beings are posting Mercola and naturalnews.com claims as if the shit wasn’t all utter garbage, or when people are telling each other NOT to do chemo and let some fucking hippies inject them with liver extract and withhold sodium until they’re in a goddamned coma, or even just when people make claims about welfare fraud or the non-existent gender-based pay gap that I can disprove with a single URL.

I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THIS BRAVE NEW WORLD OF SOCIAL NETWORKING. Do I tell you you’re a total fucking retard? Or do I scroll on by and let all that insular, awful, Dark Age-level “belief” in totally made-up stuff continue to snowball? What’s that old adage about just standing by and letting shit happen because it wasn’t your job to do anything about it?

The following random ER doctor’s blog post sums up my conflict perfectly in a piece about a young woman “treated” with Gerson who is probably dead now:

Most woo is harmless — but that’s because most woo is directed at chronic, ill-defined, or otherwise incurable conditions. Think chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Wave a magnet at somebody, get them to do a lot of enemas and go on a special diet, and you get to write a book and go on Oprah and collect a lot of money. If the subjects of the “magical thinking medicine” think they are better from the intervention, then so much the better.

“But the really pernicious thing about allowing fantasy medical theories and treatments into the mainstream is that when they gain enough credence among the masses, they will tend to be used in place of real medical treatments that work.

Tons of so-called “alternative medicine” is placebo, and that’s fine. It’s fine because much of what ails us is psychological and we need the time, the attention, the touch, and the feeling of agency we get when we have capsules to take and exercises to do at home — these things help us feel like we’re doing something to combat our “illness.” But woo doesn’t heal actual maladies, people. There’s a huge difference, and I know we’re all smart enough to recognize this.

I got so much more satisfaction visiting a midwife — who scheduled 45-minute appointments, and listened to me and paid attention to me as a whole person — than I ever did seeing a gynecologist. But believe you me, when it turned out I had a fucking prolapsed fibroid cyst coming out of my uterus that was about to get infected and kill me, I went to a surgical gynecologist and not a nutritionist. Because I’m not a total fucking idiot.


* Unless you’re so sick you’re having trouble swallowing; then smoothies can be a good way to get nutrition inside you. But they won’t heal your fucking cancer. Because cancer is CANCER, not fucking scurvy. Of course life-long dietary influences must have a part in cancer-causing, but there is absolutely zero evidence that feeding people sugars is beneficial.
** Yes, I know modern science has and does and will prove that certain ancient modalities do work: the Neti pot, for instance, and Artemisinin. But Ayurved is also responsible for killing people with lead poisoning and traditional Chinese medicine prescribes toxic herbs too, and the wildly divergent dosages from one plant to the next… don’t even get me started. And the majority of treatments offered by either tradition, in terms of measurable results, are entirely indetectable. Which means they don’t actually do anything.

More reading:
Weighing up claims about cures and treatments for long-term conditions

I Don’t Know What to Believe, about evaluating scientific claims


Update: A few days later, someone else in my timeline solicited the medical advice of Facebook on the topic of an iron shot. Apparently she’s chronically anemic and her doctor recommended the shot to, I assume, alleviate this condition. She cancelled the appointment due to her concerns about “toxic” side-effects and is looking into woo iron supplements. Because at least they’re unregulated, arbitrarily dosed, and “natural.” *headdesk*

In which I talk about shit that happens on social networking! And about PEOPLE WHO ARE MAD ON THE INTERNET! And other meaningless irrelevant crap! In fact, don’t even read this. You should go giggle or meditate or get wine drunk or something.

xkcd: Duty Calls

I make people mad on Facebook all the time. I frequently type “LOL” beneath political videos posted in earnest. I often find Snopes rebuttals to absurd infographics and post them right on people’s walls. When I see rants against aspartame, I type paragraphs about stupidity, gullibility, laziness, and that Egyptian river we’ve all heard about.

This behavior, of course, gets me ignored or attacked, but I’m too old to feel bad when someone wrong tells me I’m unfeminine.

Our culture-wide belief that experts, due to the existence of corruption, are irrelevant, and that the common man, sans education but with an internet connection and his feelings, is equal to any and everyone who’s spent decades in study… it’s complete fucking lunacy.

At this point, it’s all idiots versus experts. See: the anti-vax movement. See: chiropractic patients buying absurd supplements that don’t do anything. See: young women trying to abort early pregnancies with non-regulated herbs they bought at a Whole Foods. See: numerous articles claiming exposure to protective doses of fluoride is an “endocrine disruptor” (no evidence, unless heavily over-exposed). See: billions of words on the internet that are lies. Lies about medicine, lies about our food supply, lies about government and moon landings and modern pterodactyls.

Worst of all is the fact that most of the time the people producing this untrue content don’t even know they’re lying. They really believe what they’re saying is true. They think feelings are facts, and that feelings qualify them to disagree with reality.

I call it hysteria and ignorance. Rich (compared to global standards of living), mostly-white, mostly-educated people absolutely railing against century-old breakthroughs that have saved millions of lives, because they don’t remember what it was like before these breakthroughs were in place… and because they’re prone to the same ignorant, superstitious nonsense our ancestors were prone to (but without even the excuse of the church to blame for it).

It’s an extension of those who rejected electricity because they decided it was deviltry, or those who laughed at hand-washing for surgeries or births because germs hadn’t yet been discovered. You may think it’s hilarious that someone somewhere once thought a photograph could steal his soul, but in the same moment you might also believe in ridiculous crap like chelation therapy or an alkaline diet or detoxing.

In my own personal belief system, conquering self-delusion is the whole purpose of existence. Observing the process of clinging to ego (beliefs, identity, thoughts, feelings) is the entire point of the game. Learning you’re wrong is an experience to be embraced, not avoided. I mean, of course it totally fucking sucks at first, but eventually you get used to it and can see the progress that being wrong affords you.

You are not what you think about. Having your thoughts challenged is good. Being disagreed with is good. Having your feelings hurt is good. Change is not only the primary quality of the entire fucking universe, but it’s good.

And yet every single person I disagree with online responds immediately with an ad hominem attack against my intellect or my femininity, and demands haughtily that I should attempt to contribute something useful to the alleged discussion.

(Please note I only disagree with shit I can back up with facts! I never disagree with people’s feelings, even when they’re maudlin as fuck — “repost this if you have a brother you REALLY love!”, as if by not re-posting it I’m announcing to the universe that I don’t love my brother — or seriously ignorant, like the man-hating or childishly romantic relationship memes single women often post. Because you can’t disagree with people’s feelings. They’re feelings. Duh.)

Well, I did contribute something useful: I pointed out to you that you’re wrong, thereby gifting you an opportunity to learn, which is an opportunity to grow. Whatever dumb shit you just posted about aspartame/vaccines/fluoride/politics is demonstrably untrue, and here are the links to experts who can prove it! You’re welcome!

But people do not want discussions. They want validation, permission to keep believing whatever wrong stuff they believe because it somehow shores up their worldview. They want Likes on their Mercola link about THE DANGERS OF ASPERTAME even though there is, in actual fact, zero evidence that aspertame is harmful.

When I laugh at posts or link to experts, it’s instant rage and/or condescending replies about how my tone isn’t translating through text and how it’s my responsibility not to hurt people’s feelings on the internet, but zero actual interest in pondering the foundations of the whole thing, in unpacking the actual ideas behind the post in the first place.

I mean, listen, this shit is super cool to think about! On the topic of aspertame alone: WHY do we feel like lab-made stuff is bad? WHY do we think we’re getting away with something when our treats have no calories? (Do we even know yet that calorie theory, just like lipid theory, has turned out to be wrong? If we do, does that relieve our guilt? If so, WHY? Why do we feel guilty enjoying a no-calorie treat? Do we have a belief that indulgences should be costly? Why? How far back can we trace this belief? Can we link it to our Puritan forefathers? Do other countries have these feelings too?)

How do we feel when we learn that aspartame is actually nothing but two amino acids, the sweetness of the combination of which was discovered entirely by accident? What parts of patent law and marketing, as brought to bear on the artificial sweetener market, are upsetting to us and why? Why do we think people are so willing to believe anecdotal stories about artificial sweeteners even though 25 years of epidemiology have failed to find any credible links between artificial sweeteners and hyperactivity or cancer or seizures or migraines or pseudo-science’s not-medically-defined so-called neurotoxicity?

Nope. It’s really more like Fuck that, fuck you, and fuck your complicated and complex questions, you’re an elitist, you’re attacking me, you’re wrong, aspartame IS toxic poison! I just know it! As are vaccines! And GMOs! And cancer can totally be cured with herbs! I DON’T HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT, OR EVEN BE ABLE TO HOLD A COMPLEX IDEA IN MY HEAD, TO KNOW MY OWN FEELINGS ABOUT ASPARTAME!

True. You don’t need to be an expert on anything to know your own feelings. Your own feelings which are not the topic of discussion and which are quite literally irrelevant. But, hey, whatever.

(I think people think that the love they read about in scripture is a feeling, and that all feelings are therefore spiritually important. They’re wrong on both points. Most feelings are egocentric nonsense, really.)

And no amount of truth can be presented, because every single time, the person you’re engaging with will: demand that you prove your assertion even though you already have; reject every item of legitimate proof you offer (usually as ‘tainted by corporate greed’ or ‘manufactured by enemies of the true cause’), offer loooooooong and irrelevant anecdotal stories with frequent appeals to emotion but zero data as “proof,” and finally hurl boringly similar ad hominem attacks in which I’m told I’m stupid (which almost makes sense as an online insult) and unfemininely abrasive (which is hilarious to me, this apparent belief that pointing out my success or failure at feminine modesty will somehow make the truth less true).

I seriously have to limit my exposure to my Facebook feed, because it is almost entirely full of untruths that people are violently determined to believe. I read it for the posts about new babies, new jobs, new marriages, and other interesting life experiences, the very funny group chats around my online friend John’s Question of the Day, and the rare grown-up conversation about, say, the political situation in Syria. Usually when I take a moment to point out that someone’s crazy article about Chinese imports was disproved by Snopes three years ago, there’s resounding silence or I get unfriended. When I reply to an over-simplistic meme about Social Security’s insolvency with evidence that whatever being implied’s not actually true, there’s an occasional “oh thanks I didn’t have time to look it up,” but more often than not a reply accusing me of being delusional because I don’t agree with the poster’s feelings about the government’s previous fiscal behaviors.

What I don’t get is why you’d rather be wrong than suffer the brief and completely transient feeling of having been wrong and learned something. What you’ve learned about is irrelevant; it’s the process that matters. Maybe you, like me, once thought chiropractic was a respectable treatment modality, but learned later that of the 45 minutes you spent with your chiropractor she was only practicing chiropractic for about five minutes and the rest of the session was woo. Maybe you further learned that chiropractic’s fundamental tenant is woo, too, in light of advancements after it was invented, but that certain manipulations performed for certain conditions are measurably and repeatably effective. Maybe you went through a whole journey of discovery and release and change and understanding and nuance that introduced you to a more refined inner state, one you are encouraging because it is the path to equilibrium and non-attachment. Chiropractic, and our belief about it, in and of itself is irrelevant. So is fluoride. So are your feelings about vaccines. But don’t you see that letting yourself evolve is imperative? Even when it’s really uncomfortable?

Especially when it’s uncomfortable?

Maybe not. Maybe you’d rather publicly post untrue things and get angry and aggressive when I laugh at them. Which is cool too, I guess. But it’s public, and I can laugh at you if I want. But yes, all of you who get so very angry about being disagreed with online, I am laughing at you, at your little grumpy egos, and I am poking you deliberately even though I know exactly how you’ll react.

It’s both baffling and funny to me. Baffling because all you have to do is decide: it takes a split second and suddenly you’re free of being angry and ashamed and embarrassed and uncomfortable when someone disagrees with you and OH MY GOD WHY WON’T YOU DO IT, JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT RIGHT THIS SECOND? You should totally do it!

And funny because, well, it’s funny. People getting so upset about words on the internet. People choosing to feel attacked and victimized because you posted a link to the Snopes page and typed “LOL” a couple times under their idiotic little rants and memes and conspiracy theories and thoroughly debunked causes! What’s not to laugh at, really? You’re a rich Westerner on the internet, with access to damn near the whole of human knowledge almost instantaneously, and yet you still choose to believe in ridiculous shit!

Well, kiddo, I know it hurts your feelings, but you’re just plain wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, you’re not even remotely qualified to lobby for vaccine reform regardless of the exquisite depth of your feels, motherhood does not confer scientific ability, fluoride is safe, aspartame is safe, correlation does not imply causation, social security was partially de-funded by a Republican congress, detoxification as used by woo practitioners is a nonsense concept, cleanses are useless at best and dangerous at worst, chiropractic is good for a very narrow set of manipulations but is mostly gibberish, homeopathy has no measurable effect, “rape culture” is a (fairly skewed and crazy) worldview and not an actual fact, NASA did land on the moon, medical cancer treatments do work, naturopaths are not real doctors, Obama’s a citizen, and welfare fraud is neither common nor rampant.

But you’re a self-proclaimed expert, qualified in the secret method of knowing real reality from GIGANTIC CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENTAL COVER-UPS, and I’m just some dumb bitch on the internet! So you just keep on believin’ your silly stuff and I’ll try not to laugh at you*.


*lol no i wont that’s an internet lie ill totally never not laugh at you 😉

Old Fashioned Frosting

August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Family | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a recipe from my grandma.

I came across the image below from a few years ago, remembered how really delicious that frosting was, and realized that I have no idea how to make old fashioned frosting.

So I googled it. Weird results.

(I mean, I’m off carbs right now, but it’s unlikely that I’ll never eat another cupcake. A girl never knows when she might be called upon to produce, you know, delicious treats for some event or another. Best remedy this lack of knowledge!)

Low tea

So I emailed my G’ma and asked her for the recipe. This is what she said:

Somewhere out there there is probably a recipe for that frosting with accurate measurments but this is my way.

You will need powdered sugar, butter, or if you want white frosting use shortening, and some liquid.

I melt about two tablespoons of butter, add about equal amount of cream, and slowly add powdered sugar. A little liquid absorbs a lot of sugar, so add slowly mix until spreadable.

Then the fun begins, add any flavoring you like or spice, food coloring for fun. Powdered cocoa if you want chocolate. A tiny touch of mint is good in choc. Orange juice or lemon juice can be used instead of cream. Top with whatever.

I have used molasses in place of cream when frosting a spice cake. The more sugar used and liquid the more frosting you get till finally you can frost dozens, so that is why you add sugar slowly. After a few times you will have it perfect for your project.

Basically a procedure for making delicious frosting in any flavor in any quantity! And much better than that crap in a tub from the grocery store, in my opinion, although I have been known to eat that stuff by the spoonful on occasion.

In which there’s some crap I more or less stumbled across online.

Today I came across a site that told me that some stupid product for women to wear under tight clothing — Camel No — IS THE WORST THING EVER AND SHAMES WOMEN AND IS ANTI-WOMAN AND ANTI-VAGINA.

Because obviously the woman who developed the product is a card-carrying misogynist, and not just trying to hide her labia in tight pants. Takeaway: modesty is anti-feminist, and everything that ever happens, ever, even if a woman does it, victimizes women.

The next post I read told me that calling Jenner ‘Bruce’ instead of ‘Kaitlin’ is A METHOD OF SILENCING AND SHAMING, because clearly not giving a fuck about Bruce Jenner is the same as being transphobic which is the same as being Hitler. “Not prioritizing trans experience” is now a heinous a social faux pas, even though taking the recent explosion in the number of so-called trans people they still make up less than a single percent of the population. Because “It’s not that Caitlyn was formerly anything. Judging from everything she’s said about her life, it’s more that she has always been Caitlyn even if she didn’t know it.”

Takeaway: SO IF I’M REALLY SOMETHING ELSE, EVEN THOUGH I DON’T KNOW IT, WHEN I PULL THIS SOMETHING OUT OF THIN AIR, YOU ALL HAVE TO PRIORITIZE IT EVEN IF IT’S RIDICULOUS. Riiiiight. People don’t really believe this shit, do they?

Then I read an article in which a black woman calls a white woman giving her advice — true, stupid and unasked for advice, but still: just advice — RACISM. Instead of just plain ol’ stupidity, which is more likely what it was: one feminist saying stupid feminist “don’t let the man — literally — get you down” dogma to another.

Takeaway: even though we’re all women, any white woman talking to any black woman, ever, unless she’s not saying something stupid, is a racist.

If this site is legit and not just another so-called ‘satire’ site publishing ‘news’ it knows to be untrue, then it set off every YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN cell in my body.

In which I’m very sorry, but you do not get to pick your race, your age, your orientation, or your sex. You barely even get to pick your tax bracket or style of education. We all struggle with things; your struggle is most likely an unfortunate mental disorder. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I myself periodically live in terror that I’m about. to. die. any. second. now. and it’s just the configuration of my brain and not a literal medical emergency. This is the power of our oversized human brains… and their very convincing disorders.

Don’t Let Your Doctor Do This To Your Newborn is an hysterical, almost violently pro-transgender article about the crushing dangers of so-called “gender assignment.”

The author claims that calling an infant a “boy” or a “girl” collapses its infinite choices into a narrow, limited, single gender, and that while it’s safe for many it’s basically a death sentence to a few.

Peanuts are “safe for many, but basically a death sentence for a few,” too, I can’t help but point out. Fucking peanuts, okay? And you don’t get to have feelings about fatal peanut allergies; either you suffer from one or you don’t. You’re just born that way. And you stay that way until you die, because that allergy is just part of who you are, down to your genetic coding.

You were expressed that way. Just as you are expressed as male or female. (Don’t even start with the intersex topic; it affects fewer than those with fatal peanut allergies.)

Listen. If it’s wrong to acknowledge a person’s sex — which is an actual thing, coded into nearly every cell, and not a feeling — at birth, it’s also wrong to take high school kids on careers field trips, because you’re collapsing their potential by showing them how adults work at the factory or mine or lab or bank or retail store, cruelly exposing them to a future they should be aware of in advance, in order to help them make informed decisions about adulthood.

How terrible it is, to acknowledge your little girl is a girl, and let her observe other girls being girls, so that she will have some prior knowledge of the condition her chromosomes have expressed in her, as her life unfolds!

One of the doctors who pioneered gender reassignment therapies and surgeries now wholly rejects it based on the results: research indicates that most post-ops do not find their dysmorphia is assuaged enough after transitioning to keep them out of psychiatric wards, and many — something like 40% — suicide in spite of “becoming” their preferred sex/gender.

Such numbers are poor support indeed for the concept that transgenderism can be “fixed” with reassignment surgery, and strong support for the theory that it’s a disorder like anorexia or body integrity disorder.

If you think there are male and female brains, you also think there are males and females. Period. Because if there are male brains, those brains are the expressions of the conditions of being male: genetic, hormonal, environmental, and physical. And undergoing hormone and surgical treatments does not change your sex. If you were born male, nearly every cell in your body will attest to this throughout your entire life no matter how many breast implants you’ve had.

Just as dysmorphia is most certainly a disease in the anorexic (and one we treat with the therapy they need, and not the liposuction they want), I’m nearly certain it’s also a disease in the transgendered. I’m sure it’s just as painful as depression or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or any other illness. And I bet it sucks mightily to suffer from it.

But I don’t think chemical, hormonal, and surgical therapies are appropriate treatment for the condition. Once you have your skull shaved to feminize your face, you can’t go back. Once you have your genitalia permanently mutilated altered, you can’t go back. Once you have your earlobes gauged or your cartilage punched or your skin scarified, you can’t go back. Many of the decisions of youth are permanent and can’t be undone. Which is exactly and precisely why your parents forbade you from doing such things when you were a kid, and possibly even made you beg just to get your ears pierced.

Want to live as a woman for a few years, or the rest of your life? Be my guest! I’ll absolutely support your right to buy bras and do your makeup like a hooker and wear nail polish and learn about the ins and outs of leg shaving and the hand-washing of delicate intimate garments. I’ll talk girltalk with you and include you in girls-only excursions; I’ll tell you anecdotes to inform you during your journey through my female world.

I’ll be your friend. I’ll totally be your friend, just like I would if you had a violent bipolar disorder and pruned all my fruit trees to death in a manic episode. I’ll still think you’re you and I’ll still see you, the exact person you are, warts and all. Crazy and all. Just as I hope you’ll see me through my own crazy.

But, while I’ll be vaguely flattered that you, a man, are so pathologically fascinated by my sex that you’re trying to join it, and I’ll probably be amazed by your inherent femininity and by how much you’re not like men, and I’ll probably even seek out and show you brain scans of men living as women and enthuse with you about how much they look like the brain scans of actual women and be amazed with you about the plasticity of the brain in general, I’ll still know you don’t menstruate. I’ll still know you were never a 12-year old girl growing her very own tits. I’ll still know you were and are a man, although one with issues I don’t really understand, and I’ll love you anyway, just like I love people with chronic pain I don’t have, or mental illnesses different from my own, or who have lost body parts I still have.

Same the other way. If you’re a female who wants to live as a man, I will absolutely treat you like a man. I’ll help you learn to flirt with women. I’ll ask you to carry the heavy things and fetch the drinks and kill the spiders and fix the car and pay the tab. But I’ll also know that you know what it’s like to have boobs, and menstruate, and network horizontally like a woman rather than vertically like a man, and I will not share with you the experience of not wanting to be what you are, because I’ve never once wanted to change sex, not even for an instant. Because sex doesn’t fucking matter. And gender is already plastic.

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In which many exciting changes — a move, a job change, and not one but two opportunities for travel — are afoot!

The lease is up here, and while this apartment has some incredible amenities — such as southern exposure, a gas range, amazing cross-ventilation, and a wonderful view of a park with a pond in it — it also happens to be located in a rather industrial-sized, non-walkable bedroom suburb, so we’ve recently signed a new lease for an apartment in or very near Uptown.

“Uptown” is the neighborhood directly south of downtown Minneapolis, and it’s eminently walkable as well as featuring access to Eat Street, the Midtown greenway, and lots of groceries and bars and venues.

The new place has off-street parking for Scott and a storage locker for my bike (I’m hoping), wood floors, a larger kitchen, a bathroom practically identical to the one we have here, A GAS RANGE, a residential neighborhood that will probably be quiet, and a killer location for walking and biking to stores and bars and restaurants. (Well, during the nice months of the year, anyway.)

We’re still waiting on a move-in date from the new landlord (the current tenant hasn’t moved out yet), but it should be within the next few weeks.

I gave notice at Home Depot a couple of days ago. It’s been… interesting employment for me, and required a lot of comfort zone-stretching (sharing a desk, never sitting down, limited online access, steady physical exertion, etc). I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed any of it nor that the physical component hasn’t been good for me, but I’m incredibly happy to have a concrete end date in sight (since knowing it was temporary was sometimes the only thing that kept me sane).

The very day after giving notice I got a call back from a credit union two blocks — 600 feet from door to door, as the crow flies — from the new apartment! After signing the lease I’d used Google Maps to reconnoiter the area looking for work, and lo and behold there was a job posting for a part-time teller! In the neighborhood!

How great would that be? A two-block commute to a part-time job in a quiet environment? No nights or weekends or holidays? To work when Scott’s at work? (They’re open 9-6 on weekdays and 9-12 on Saturdays. I’d never have to work two solid months of 8-hour weekend shifts again! Even if I have to work every Saturday morning forever, it would still be a thousand thousand times better than the insanity that is the home improvement warehouse retail schedule.) Had a lovely pre-interview by phone today with the credit union’s HR; I have an in-person interview at the branch next Tuesday. So excited!

If it doesn’t work out — which it might not, of course, because they don’t post the pay range even in the job description and it might be minimum wage, which I’d probably pass on even with the ideal location and nearly-ideal schedule — I think I’ll just take a couple months off and get back into some semblance of a routine.

After a year of being scheduled anywhere from 6 AM to 10 PM, seven days a week, 363 days a year, I now have nothing like regular mealtimes and am usually not hungry when I have to eat or am starving when I can’t. Sleep schedules are utterly blown, and I’ve nearly lost my ability to sleep when I have to because I’m either inappropriately not tired or totally exhausted for whatever my schedule requires of me. I’ve never really considered myself a routine-oriented person, but that might be because I always had much more of one than I’ve had this past year. Random scheduling fucking blows and I feel deep sympathy for all those who are trapped in it.

Anecdotally, the new place is two blocks — normal city blocks, not the monstrosities here in the old apartment’s neighborhood — from a 30-year old breakfast joint called The Egg and I. HOW COOL IS THAT. There is nothing that close to this apartment but grass, trees, other apartments, roads, and weeds. Oh, and a pond.

So, the Employment Of Misery is basically over, a new lease is signed, I’ve started packing, and I already have an interview for a highly desirable position in the new neighborhood. On top of that, we’re going to see Amma in Chicago in a couple of weeks, and we have plans to visit Walla Walla in mid-August for a Morgan family reunion/get-together!

Totally stoked. Now I just need to put more stuff in boxes and find something nice to wear to next week’s interview!

The overpass

May 21st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I rode my bike to work, and four-and-a-quarter hours later I rode it home again.

My apartment is technically only six blocks from work; it’s just that they’re such gigantic, industrial blocks that those six blocks actually equal 1.2 miles. (A mile usually contains 17 typical city blocks, that’s how big these blocks are.) The route is more or less a straight line from the edge of the apartment property and down a giant street over an I-394 overpass.

This overpass:

Love locks

When you look at the cars, well over ninety percent of them have only one occupant. And that one occupant is hell-bent on getting on, off, or through, and is on the phone far more often than you’d like.

Even with a constant and rather vigorous wind, the whole area generally reeks of exhaust, unless it’s very early in the day. Where ‘reeks’ is a value of ‘you’re not really sure if you can breathe.’

At about half-past four today, when I came home, it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. So many individual people in their big-ass SUVs going home from work.

What ever happened to the sedan? Why is literally everyone driving a truck? There’s no way these people need to tow shit; maybe they think they’re safer in the winter months? Regardless, everybody’s driving WAY more car than they’ll ever need.

I realize people are primarily just doing what they need to do to get by, but it’s obscene, the sheer bafflingly huge amount of wealth and waste represented by rush hour, as viewed from a single overpass in a metro area of the United States.

The infrastructure alone runs to the millions, and then all those cars. All the gasoline. So much money, so many resources used for this: the afternoon traffic jam, a wasteful ritual that nobody even likes.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

It’s just so stupid that we didn’t earnestly invest in trains and convenient public transportation back the 70’s when we first realized we were having concurrent air pollution and fuel acquisition crises. Sure, most cities have a light rail or three, but we’re still installing lines like it’s a brand new clean-and-green idea instead of old hat, and the lines that do exist are useless unless you live right up on one. We just never prioritized, so what we have today is millions and millions of people all over the country driving themselves to and from their jobs, which are basically never in their actual neighborhoods, because there’s just no convenient alternative.

It’s such a massive, heartbreaking waste.

I bike, but I pretty much hate it. It’s not convenient; it’s dangerous. This area IS FOR CARS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and although I ride as defensively and with as much paranoia as possible, I’m still pretty much always on the verge of being hit by a driver who is distracted, in a hurry, on the phone, pissed off, or just not expecting a pedestrian or bicyclist to be fucking around on a freeway overpass, because everybody drives.

When I was a broke college student, I never really understood what they meant when they called America “the richest nation in the world.” Like, I didn’t have any money, and nobody I knew at the time was rich. We were all living hand-to-mouth, growing our debt, struggling. I didn’t really understand that all the infrastructure around me counted toward that national wealth, and that it reflected the decisions we made collectively as a society.

Decisions like choosing to live in an entrenched and wealth-destroying car-centric manner, forever and ever, amen.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

Now, I understand the history of the Interstate Highway Project and how it helped with jobs and transportation of goods; it’s hard to be against it, really, even knowing the consequences. BUT WHY OH WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN TRAINS.

Had it been trains, we would have designed everything differently. People would just expect to be able to walk or bike or take convenient public transportation to the store, the doctor, the school, and the job. Instead of sprawling, wasteful, ugly suburbs, we’d have communities.

We wouldn’t blindly accept the idea that it’s normal to live and work so far apart, that we should drive to the grocery and the dentist and the bowling alley; we wouldn’t have all these impossible-to-walk mega complexes; we wouldn’t waste so much space.

Around here, an old Minneapolis suburb, there are giant, wide streets that take half a minute to walk across, many without sidewalks. There are giant shopping complexes (like the one I work in, which is two huge big box stores and two multi-business strips containing nail salons, coffee shops, and pet stores) that were never intended to be walked across: the sidewalks go nowhere when they exist at all, and the whole layout is intended to keep motorists from speeding, not to make it possible to walk from business to business. (There’s a pond in the center with some grass, like a nod to a park-like setting, but it’s a bitch to get to without getting HIT BY A CAR so only employees of nearby businesses ever really use the space. Everybody else just drives around it.)

The complex is so car-centric in its design that most of the time, people drive — they literally drive from the Costco parking lot to The Home Depot parking lot, even though they’re right next door to each other: that’s how badly designed the space is for humans.

And this is repeated pretty much everywhere. Nearly every Walmart you’ve ever been to is out in the middle of nowhere and it just sprawls; if other businesses spring up near it, you can’t walk to them. We just don’t design economically because we have so much space to sprawl out in, and people won’t walk if it’s uncomfortable or difficult.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

Our lease is up and we’re apartment-hunting. I want to live as close to downtown as possible; I want regular-sized old-fashioned city blocks and I want sidewalks and I want to be able to walk to a corner store for eggs. I hate the massive, industrial Cub we shop at here. I hate the artificial, wasteful, unwalkable shopping complex it’s in. I hate that my job is SIX HUGE FREAKISH BLOCKS AWAY instead of, like, twenty normal, sidewalked, business-inhabited blocks. Between our apartment and my job there could be tens or hundreds of businesses; instead there’s a fraction and the rest of it is space designed for cars: wasted space.

Cars are dirty and expensive, but the vast majority of Americans cannot survive without one because of the way we’ve designed our communities.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

I was looking at Minneapolis on Google Maps the other day while apartment hunting, and found this little greenway… in the middle of nothing. The website was so excited about turning the area into a greenway for everybody to enjoy, blah blah blah.

In order to enjoy it you’d probably have to drive your bicycle there, park, and then ride around. Because it’s not really convenient to anything, and nobody’s going to use it organically because it’s not on their way from A to B.

Which is a perfect example of how utterly, impossibly car-centric our culture is.

In which I think people are being a bit irrational.

So, a pudgy British comedian calls out this chick trophy hunter on social media and, like anything that ever gets traction these days, for no apparent reason it absolutely explodes all over the place.

gervais

In the last couple of days I’ve seen dozens and dozens of comments on Facebook alone, literally all of them aghast and negative and offended. And written by meat-eaters. Because trophy hunting is the absolute worst, obviously, but eating meat and eggs and wearing leather is totally different.

Well, no. The distinction is imaginary. Some broad with the budget to do so goes abroad and hunts an exotic animal and everybody reviles her. Meanwhile, that same everybody is blithely buying and eating meat. “But we don’t eat that much meat,” they cry, “and it’s usually organic and humanely raised,” or “We actually know our butcher socially, and those animals have wonderful lives!” or {insert any other generic “but my contribution to this atrocity is miniscule!” denial here}.

To which I say: WHATEVER, NERDS. They have wonderful lives up until someone kills them, usually in the first quarter of their natural lifespan. That giraffe was organic and humanely raised too, and, like all organic and humanely raised meat, it’s fucking dead. What real difference does it make that it was killed by a hunter rather than a butcher? Is the giraffe somehow more dead because its killer posed with its corpse and gloated? Would your own death be so much better if someone promised not to waste your meat? To tan your skin for raiment and eat all your organs and render your fat for candles?

You won’t care either way. You’ll be dead. The subtleties of various degrees of wastefulness and respect are for the living. And we, the living, are being big fat irrational babies about this dead giraffe.

Listen, we’re horrifically wasteful. We don’t use all of the animals we kill by a long shot. Leather is made from animals killed just for their skins (their meat is discarded) and the skins of meat animals are thrown away. While the offal market is growing, it’s still very small because most of us refuse to eat liver, heart, brain, or anything “gross.” Some animal parts do go into pet food or are rendered for other uses, but those piles of what looks like dirt in the fields around packing plants are leftover, unused animal parts — parts for which there is no market. We are wasteful, choosy, entitled motherfuckers, and that waste means more animal death than is strictly necessary.

giraffe

habitat

I’d say those differences are irrelevant. Regardless of endangerment of species or habitat, of poaching versus legal killing, the end outcome of both scenarios is identical: some human being killed an animal, because that human being believed that s/he had every right to do so. Hunter or butcher, you kill because you believe it’s your right, that you’re entitled to, and that your desire — to hunt for sport or to kill for meat — in every way outweighs the life of that animal. The rest of the circumstances are just details.

We kill 150 billion animals a year. And yet the death of a giraffe is more important than 150 billion other lives, somehow, because it’s endangered? At least it didn’t starve to death, or spend its entire existence in a cage or on a concrete floor, what what?

Outsourcing the whole killing and butchering thing does not mean you don’t believe that it’s your right to kill animals. Setting rules about what, when, and where an animal can be killed does not mean you don’t believe that it’s your right to kill animals. It just means you’re making (mostly irrational, in my opinion) judgements about the fact that you believe that it’s your right to kill animals. As long as it had a good life first! As long as it doesn’t suffer! As long as it’s a common cow and not an exotic giraffe! As long as nobody enjoys it! As long as we’re all suitably ashamed in respect to our Puritan backgrounds!

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