Mendel's Gardener

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A lot of other people are sick

I've been away for a while doing other stuff, but something pissed me off enough recently to overcome my activation energy and blog about it. Now, I'm not normal and my reactions to things are, predictably, not normal. OK, normal's a bad word. Let's go for I'm not like other people. I get violently reminded of this sometimes. Like the other day while I'm driving home. In Indianapolis one of the radio stations has what they call the Daily Dilemma. People write in to the DJ with their problem and the DJ and callers comment on it. So, click on the link and scroll down to the November 9th entry.

Let me summarize this for you:
  • friend finds out woman showers with her 9-year-old son because it's convenient
  • friend freaks out that this is gross and writes to radio station
  • DJ and all callers say this is sexual abuse and Child Protective Services should be called

Now, I wanted to call in and say that I was far more appalled by the reactions of the callers and DJ than by the supposed transgression of the mom. I mean they were making comments like, "she's not just naked she's soaping herself up..." (guys who shower together at the gym must be gay, then, IMHO) and "my son freaks out if he sees me in my underwear." Really? Could you have maybe taught him that??? I saw my parents naked lots as a child and I was never sexually abused in any way. My kids see me naked all the time, it's normal for us. I'm not sexually aroused by it in any way, shape, or form.

Only in America is nudity associated with solely with sex. In countries like Japan and Finland family bathing is a ritual to be respected and brings closeness. What the hell? What kind of sick mind automatically equates taking a bath with your kid with child abuse? I didn't. You know why? Uhh, cause I don't associate sex with my kids? Unlike you sick bastards. You would call CPS and get this kid taken away from his Mom for this? It's disgusting.

People who think things like that are the problem. They are the ones sexualizing a totally mundane activity. They're the same sort of people who work at the Wal-Mart photo lab and call the cops when you have pics of your toddlers in the bathtub developed. Obviously it's child pornography. Nevermind that a toddler playing in suds is about the cutest thing out there and you may someday want a memento of it. And people who agree with me would be too afraid to say anything because they might get reported to CPS and their kids taken away.

What comes next, you get reported for hugging your kid too long or giving them a kiss?

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

A birth control problem I never expected

If you read one of my posts below, you know I went off the pill. I replaced it with a diaphragm, which, so far, has worked fine. But, recently, I encountered a problem I had never really considered before. So, here's the situation. You have to leave the diaphragm in for six hours after intercourse. That's fine, except that, as a woman who has given birth twice, I have the version with the heavy-duty spring to hold it in place. You CAN leave it in for six hours, but if you're doing a lot of sitting, it starts to hurt around hour four. (Bicycling is definitely a bad idea.)

Here's the problem: if you're at home you can just take it out and wash it off, but what if you're out in public?

Let's say, hypothetically, that you and your partner make good use of the diaphragm when you wake up. T+6 is around noon. You're, oh, I don't know, out with the kids at the aquarium. It's really starting to ache and has GOT to come out. You go to the women's room (hopefully you've remembered to stick the case in your purse). Taking it out is easy; you do it in the stall. Here's the thing: how am I, uh, I mean, the hypothetical diaphragm wearer, gonna wash it off? See, 'cause the sinks are not enclosed. You could stand there with it wrapped in toilet paper and try to soap it up and rinse it off in a manner carefully timed so that the other patrons won't notice what you're really doing. Or, you could chicken out and take the nasty thing out to your car and rinse it with a bottle of water until you get to a more private place. I had to opt for option two.

Which brings me to my point. Should I have been embarrased to wash my used diaphragm out in the public bathroom sink? In a perfect world, no. I mean poopy diapers are changed there. Why is my gooey diaphragm different? Maybe in a couple of years I won't care anymore. Unfortunately, my mother raised me properly, so I can never wash my twat tent in public any more than I would get a tattoo or have a beater on cinder blocks in my front yard. Several generations of Presbyterians would look over my shoulder in horror.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Creationism Thoughts

I was reading this page out of curiosity, when I came across a great quote:

Evolution is not a good theory—it is just a pagan religion masquerading as science.

Really, which one? I'm a pagan, and there's nothing in my religion that explains evolution. Maybe they mean ATHEISM. A lot of fundamentalist Christians think atheism is a religion. WHY I cannot fathom. Here are the dictionary.com definitions of atheism and religion:

re·li·gion: Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

a·the·ism: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

So, atheism cannot be a religion (it especially can't be paganism). That's just a distraction from the real discussion, however. Again, let's turn to dictionary.com for a definition of evolution:

Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species.

If you believe the Intelligent Design crowd, all they want to say is that such a process was directed by an intelligent creator, i.e. somebody who's got a big plan. Creationists believe that we were created as we are now by God.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I think that the same fundamental reasons drive both creationists and ID'ers :

1) They do not want to believe that life is random.
2) They do not want to believe that humans are animals.
3) They do not want to think that humans are not as good as we could be.

I can understand #1. Randomness is scary. Say the unimaginable happens and someone in your family becomes ill and dies. Why is the thought that God is responsible better than that they simply got sick? To me, that's actually worse. If God truly makes every decision regarding our fate, wouldn't you be pissed that He let your Mom die and somebody else's live? See, this is a cop-out. In my book, you make a bad life choice, that's your fault, you get to go accept that and deal with it. If you believe that God made that decision for you, then it really wasn't your fault, was it?

Number 2 I have no idea how to approach. As a pagan, I believe that we are a part of the circle of life. I'm not going to suppose that I am superior to any creature. Maybe dolphins have a very rich literature, but how would I know? I can't speak dolphin. That doesn't mean they aren't intelligent. The other facet to this belief of mine is that I'm pretty non-judgemental about human behavior. If we are animals, then we are driven primarily by our biology with a thin coating of societal rules plastered on top. Does that mean we don't behave like chimps most of the time? No, it means we deceive ourselves. We're chimps who have mastered the concepts of lying and hypocrisy.

On to number 3. If God created humans in his own image, and he is infallible, we must be the absolute, best possible humans that could be. This is a cop-out just like #1. It relieves the believer of the responsibility of a) wanting to improve oneself (because you can't) and b) worrying too much about his/her behavior.

So, to summarize, I suppose that I believe creationism is a manifestation of moral and intellectual cowardice. It is designed to relieve the believer of responsibility, rather than provide a religious answer.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Older men, younger women

OK, fine, so I read gossip blogs. You know why? It's new information (of which I require an almost steady stream) and it's safe. Very few dead kids, just people acting rich and stupid. Anyway, I'm reading Tabloid Whore today, and she has this quote:

Donald Trump's daughter Melania (35), um, I mean wife, gave birth to a baby boy named Barron William Trump at 5am this morning. The couple is said to be thrilled, unlike his four other children who are probably pissed off they have one more kid they have to share daddy's fortune with. Trump (59) called the Imus in the Morning show to make the birth announcement proclaiming, "I continue to stay young, right? I produce children, I stay young." Blech.

And it got me thinking because it kind of pisses me off. It irritates me because I really don't see what the problem is with a 59-year-old man marrying a 35-year-old woman (I also don't have a problem with the converse but I won't get into it today).

What people really mean is that an older guy shouldn't want to have sex with a young woman. Well, why the hell not? Look, when we get right down to it, the point of life is to have sex. Sex makes babies and the human race continues. If a guy in his fifties wants to have children, he's pretty much gotta go for a woman under 35. For the woman, it's a slightly more complicated decision. She has two choices to father her children: smart babies or sexy babies. In the days when we were all hunter-gatherers, you could go for the virile young hunter and pass on the hot, muscular genes to your kids. Or, you could go for the older guy. Now, he's obviously survived into middle age, so he's got to be pretty smart and have a pretty good immune system. Plus, he can obviously hunt well enough to keep himself fed. AleWife goes for the smart, older guy (the husband is 13 years older).

Note: Yeah, I wrote this in March and forgot to post it. Get over it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Birth Control Pills Reduce Testosterone

Studies like this really piss me off. I've been on birth control pills off and on for most of my adult life. Anecdotally, when I go off I feel more sexual, stronger, I lose body fat and gain muscle, and generally feel more competitive and attractive. On the pill, I feel fatter, sluggish, less attractive. My gynaecologists have always told me I was imagining this and switched me to a different brand of pills. Well, who's right now?

It turns out that maybe I'm experiencing the effects of reduced testosterone levels. Now, I'm not denying that a) I've only gotten pregnant when I chose to go off the pill and b) (much less importantly) my face clears up on the pill. The authors of the study state that decreased testosterone may decrease libido. What about other effects? If a woman's testosterone levels decrease, the most obvious effect is on her sex drive? This is sexist garbage. What about other behavioural effects? Are women on the pill less aggresive? Does it change us, the way we think? Sure the Pill freed women sexually. We could have sex with any guy we wanted and not have to be married. Sex and pregnancy were now separate activities. But, did it also hurt us? I really worry about this. Sure, we could put off having kids and go forward in the workplace, but did it also guarantee that we would be less competitive, weaker, have lower self-esteem?

Realistically, birth control options still suck. If you want to be 99% sure to not get pregnant you have to go on the Pill. Take some artificial steroids that they tell you may make you nauseous and your boobs may hurt for a couple of months, but you're acne will clear up! Oh, and you won't feel like screwing, and you'll be emotionally ultra-female.

Here's what I want-reversible sterilization. I want little plugs I can put in my Fallopian tubes but remove later. Magnetic clamps are OK, too. I want a birth control option that leaves my hormones intact, gives me 99% protection against pregnancy, and goes away when I choose. That's all I want. Come on, people, it's 2006, get cracking.

Confusing medical studies

I was watching the NBC Nightly News tonight and they ran this story about people being confused about medical studies. The tone of the piece implied that women were upset that, amongst other things, recent studies have determined that calcium supplements do not prevent bone fractures and low-fat diets do not decrease your risk of heart disease.

Well, let's review what the studies actually show. What the calcium study shows is that if you compare one population of women not taking calcium supplements to another that does take supplements, there is no statistically significant difference between the two populations in terms of number of hip fractures.

All well and good, but what if there are some women who do benefit? The real problem with medical experiments is that they depend upon large sample groups to derive statistical significance. The optimal way to conduct such as experiment is to use the experimental subject as their own control. The best experiment would be, for example, to throw me down a set of stairs before I've been on calcium supplements and see how many times I break my hip. Then, put me on calcium supplements for a while and then repeat the throw-AleWife-down-the-stairs experiment. If I break fewer hips the second time around, then clearly I benefitted from the supplements, yes? The problem, of course, is that this is completely unethical. Ergo, we are held captive to statistics. Here's a great quote from the story:

It just shows how hard it is to find simple, one-size-fits-all answers in medicine.

Really? Here's a thought-maybe everybody is different? Maybe every person absorbs drugs at a different rate, clears them at a different rate, reacts to them differently, has different needs for optimal health? Oh, sorry, that would mean that doctors would have to treat people as individuals. That would be hard. Then they couldn't use the cookbook approach to medicine.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Fat Kids More Likely to be Bullied-DUH

Somebody in the UK actually did a study on bullying and childhood obesity. The conclusion? Fat kids are 50% more likely to be bullied than their "normal-weight" classmates. Really? They had to interview over 8,000 kids to find that out? Next time you want to know something obvious, call me. I cost less in the end and I'm much faster.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The mystery of the enormous tampon

Occasionally my Dilbertesque work life is interrupted by interesting happenings. Not really often, but enough that I'm not zombified.

So a couple of weeks ago I find myself in the women's bathroom. Under the best of circumstances our bathroom is an adventure. About a year ago they had a problem with women not flushing. Eeeww. The building management decided to install self-flushing toilets, which seemed like a good idea. The nasty notes on the inside of the stall doors sure weren't helping. Anyway, the new johns then flushed several times during each transaction, which was also not good. The automatic flushing was disabled, resulting in the fact that ALL of the commodes were always, uh, full, because most people were either a) too stupid to notice that it didn't flush itself or b) couldn't figure out how to make it flush (clue: it's the big button on top). Next step, paint the flushing button safety orange and put up more signs reminding everyone to flush. It only took A YEAR for this to finally work. Remember boys and girls, I work in an area where people are developing new drugs and most have college degrees. Scary, hmm?

Back to the main story. I go into the stall closest to the right wall. I choose this stall because it is the only one whose door reliably stays closed for long enough to finish my business; the others all eventually pop open. This stall is also home to the dime and penny that have been plastered to the stall wall by dredging them in the grime of the floor. (Really. Yes, it is very nasty.) So, I'm sitting there and on top of the plastic toilet paper holder is the biggest tampon I have ever seen. It's just sitting there in a plastic Ziploc bag. I looked away and back again. The damned thing is as big in diameter as a quarter. Now, I don't know about the rest of the women out there reading this, but I couldn't get that thing in, and I've had two children naturally. In defense of my husband, his wang is bigger than that, but the situations are different, aren't they? I mean, a penis (or its artificial substitute) is one thing, but tampons aren't lubricated, just the opposite. I can barely stand the smallest tampons I can find. I left it there, but it stayed for most of the week before disappearing.

My quandry, of course, is that I'm insanely curious as to which of my coworkers has the ginormous coochie. There's no way to find out. I could catch them in the bathroom and make a joke about the tampon and see if they laugh, but if it's them they'd get horribly embarrassed and so would I. There's also the fact that the poor woman must practically need a blood transfusion every month. Do you suppose she takes an iron supplement?

Check back next month for more enormous tampon sightings.