emanix: (emanix)
Diagram of a sick bunny. Image from www.chaosbunny.com.

This post initially arose out of a discussion about homeopathy (and indeed most other 'alternative' styles of treatment), about which, having trained in pharmacology at university, I usually end up in a paradox loop.

Yes, according to all of the research available, everyone who is saying that homeopathy is no better than a placebo is correct... BUT the placebo is one of the safest and most powerful treatments known to medical science. So I'm torn. When someone has a virus (for example, the common cold) or some other condition that is otherwise untreatable, is it worse to say 'I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do for you.' or to give someone a sugar pill and say 'this will make you feel better'... and it does? If a placebo treatment is effective, is it even a lie?

I also think the reason we have such enormous trouble getting rid of 'alternative' unscientific treatments is because they genuinely do offer something that empirical medicine doesn't, and that is often the simple sense of being heard, cared for and of being able to 'do something', where medical science might just say 'wait this out'.

Which is why I feel so excited about having found something of a middle ground: When I or my friends have an infection, I 'prescribe' a whole list of foods known for antimicrobial properties (usually resulting in a rather nice curry!). It's not 'medicine', precisely, but evidence suggests that each of the individual items themselves should help at least a little bit more than a placebo would, good nutrition is *always* useful and the sense of being able to 'do something' about the situation is an enormous relief.

My personal infection-fighting shopping list is as follows (I will try to come back and edit this later to add proper references and update it with new possibly bug-fighting foods as and when I spot them):

Garlic (evidence of some antimicrobial properties, including antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal)

Onions (evidence of some antimicrobial properties)

Ginger (evidence of some antimicrobial properties)

Cinnamon (evidence of some antimicrobial properties, also kills insect larvae)

Cloves ("")

Cardamom (evidence of some antimicrobial, and some anti inflammatory properties)

Hot Chilli Peppers (you guessed it, evidence of some antimicrobial properties. Also stimulates endorphin release for pain relief, and is a pretty effective decongestant)

Sweet peppers/bell peppers (super-high in vitamin C)

Tomatoes (high in vit. C, which is good for the immune system, and lycopene- antioxidant, lowers stroke risk, apparently good for asthma sufferers)

Lemon (more vit. C)

Something high in zinc, which is known for helping the immune system along (lamb is supposed to be good, as are quite a lot of nuts, and iirc a fair few kinds of fish as well.)

Something that's a good source of protein, to help build and repair new cells (usually chicken, fish or lamb, also eggs, cheese or pretty much any sort of nuts).

[ Tea and Cookies are not on the list yet, but I can always hope!]


...All of the above can be referenced via pubmed. It's not a coincidence that a lot of those items on the list are strongly flavoured 'aromatic' foods - a lot of the pungent flavours we find so fascinating turn out to be the plants natural chemical defences against invading bugs. I've probably missed off a few, but a rule of thumb seems to be that if it's a strongly flavoured spice, fruit, or vegetable, then it probably has some bug-killing properties.

It turns out that all that's pretty close to a recipe for a lamb doppiaza right there, which coincidentally happens to be my favourite curry (other kinds of curry are available)! Also quite a lot of thai food (A good tom yum soup is also great for keeping hydrated, too, as well as containing lots of anti-bug foods!).

I'd love to see more recipe suggestions and additions to my list in the comments here!
emanix: (emanix)
I have seen a couple of articles recently with a very similar theme: Porn is bad because well... it's bad, mm'kay. And also kids might see it.

I'm not going to address the question of whether porn is 'good' or 'bad' for adults (I think the answer, as with so many things, is somewhere in the region of 'it depends'), but I made a couple of comments on facebook in discussion about these articles specifically regarding children's access to pornography that I wanted to retain for later use, so I'm going to publish them here to refer back to.

[Comment one]
Critiquing the existence of porn by objecting that children might see it is like criticising the existence of cutlery because toddlers might hurt themselves on it*, or of horror films because underage children might see those too. Yes, it happens, and sensible folks should take precautions against it happening, but kids are not the target market for porn in the same way that toddlers are not the intended market for knives, or for horror movies.

On the whole the folks who make porn are also in agreement that it's not intended for children, and take steps to avoid it. The people who make porn easily accessible for children are the people who steal it/share it/pirate it, and not the people who make it. Nobody is making porn with the *intention* of kids seeing it, so I think that 'what about the kids who see this?' is not a terribly useful criticism of its content, or of the industry itself, only how it's distributed - and again, that's usually more down to folks other than the makers and publishers of said porn. I think most folks would quite rightly be annoyed at someone leaving knives around where kids can get at them, without blaming the person who made the knife, or trying to ban the manufacture of knives outright. We can accept that there is an appropriate place for knives, and for horror films. Why is the same standard not applied to porn?

On the other hand, I'd far rather kids were watching people having a nice time with each other than, for example, people being beheaded - which is apparently perfectly acceptable in mainstream TV, even before the watershed, while images of naked people enjoying themselves are not."

*By comparing porn with knives, I am not saying that I think porn is 'dangerous', just that neither is a tool intended for children (and it was the first analogy that sprang to mind)

[Comment two]
Coming back to this after pondering for a few more hours, it follows that tightening up on copyright infringement would probably have a far more pronounced effect on reducing children's access to pornography than any newly created obscenity laws, but to do so in a way overtly linked to porn would probably be political suicide as the government would be accused of protecting the pornographers' interests. Bah. Politics is rubbish.


So is that the answer to kids accessing material not intended for them? Tightening up on copyright infringement? It's already 'wrong', but currently it's a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. What would be the impact of making copyright infringement a criminal offence, and would it be effective without international cooperation? Would a public organisation chasing down incidents of copyright infringement help or hinder artists? Would it cost more or less than hunting down 'obscene' materials? Who would get caught up in the collateral damage?

What other ways exist or could exist that might be more effective in preventing children from accessing material not intended for them?

I don't have the answers, only lots more questions, but I think these are more important and relevant questions to be asking than simply 'Why don't we ban EVERYONE from watching porn in case children also see it'. Or you know... while we're at it, we could ban kitchen knives, alcohol, all prescription drugs ever, heavy metal music, horror films and the manufacture of cars, too. After all, everyone knows that children shouldn't have access to those...
emanix: (emanix)
Ever put up a blog post and then realise only days later you've left out the most important part?

So I posted yesterday about the concept of Self-Evident Epiphanies, but forgot what the burning reason I wanted to talk about it actually was.

Last week I had another Self-Evident Epiphany that I found both utterly banal, and yet deeply inspiring, and it goes as follows:

Every person I have ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

I mean, honestly, take away the crowns, the robes, the uniforms, the bodyguards, the sound technicians, special effects artists, hyperbole and magical thinking, and what have you got? Just people. Making the best decisions they know how.

I mean, think about it. George Bush... is a person. Margaret Thatcher... is a person, Winston Churchill... was a person. Che Guevara, now a near-meaningless T-shirt icon... was a person. Queen Boadicea was a person. Martin Luther King was a person. Emmeline Pankhurst was a person. Lucy Stone was a person. Einstein was a person. Stan Lee, creator of so many superheroes, is a person. Joan of Arc was a person. Buddha. Was a person. Mohammed. Was a person. Jesus Christ. Was a fricking person. Every hollywood actor you know about... is a person. Every musician you've heard of, is a person. Britney Spears, love her or hate her, is a person. Pretty much everyone you've ever heard of, with the exception of fictional characters (and even including some of those - I mean, for example, Saint Nicholas, before he was Santa Claus, he was a person), everyone who had a part in building the world we live in is or was a person. Some of them started out with advantages, others didn't, but every single one of them is or was a person, making the best decisions they know how.

Clearly I'm not the first person to have this sort of thought - After all, it's Self-Evident. Here's Richard Feynman talking about having a 'Healthy Disrespect For Authority'
(Ed. 6/1/2012 - Oops, link broke! A new one can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhD0MxacnIE )

But why is this important? Because sometimes I catch myself making excuses, telling myself it's okay to not even try to change the world, even when it hurts me, because it's a big world, and I'm just one person. Sometimes I make decisions that are a bit feeble, and I tell myself it's okay, because I'm only human.

But everyone I've ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

And so are you.

emanix: (Default)
I was introduced to the concept of the Self-Evident Epiphany by a friend of [livejournal.com profile] seinneann_ceoil over a large pot of tea one afternoon. The example she gave was the realisation, several weeks before, that on days when she went out wearing a sweater, she felt warmer. Astonishing!
I introduced her to another on the spot: that the phrase 'Self-Evident Epiphanies' not only has a poetic elegance to it, but also has the most perfectly apt abbreviation: SEE!

Every one of us put our heads to one side, and let out a sigh of delight at the beauty of this newly formed acronym. Ah, the sweetness that is the love of geeks for wordplay.

So the Self-Evident Epiphany, or SEE, is a thought, or a realisation that is perfectly obvious in hindsight, but somehow your brain had failed to register it until just now. A favourite one of mine, which despite its obviousness often fails to stick in my mind: if I keep my room tidy, I don't have to spend so much time Looking For Stuff. I realise this on a fairly regular basis, and it surprises me every time!

What Self-Evident Epiphanies have you had, or heard about?
emanix: (Default)
On a lighter note to my last couple of posts, last week, [livejournal.com profile] werenerd and I went to see a part of the now finished Yarn Festival, a performance of the Odyssey split into a dozen different performance styles including film, acting, music and animation (including a finale by the Strumpettes, who I hadn't seen before and were brilliant).

The story involves Telemachus travelling around looking for his father, and I found myself thinking how 'convenient' it was that he, without being particularly famous in his own right, was able to seek out so many other historically important figures and speak to them in person to say 'have you seen my dad?'. Of course, nymphs and sea monsters and so forth being present in the story suggest a suspension of disbelief may be necessary anyway, but that got me thinking further...

Was it in fact, easier to be famous in Homer's time?

Population has been increasing massively over the last couple of thousand years - and it's a long time. The estimated time of Homer's life was around 850BC - estimations of population for that time are around 50 million. In contrast, the population of the UK alone is currently around 61 million, and world population in 2008 was recorded at 6,707 million* - that's 134 people around today for every one person who was alive then. A village of 100 people becomes a town of 13,400 - imagine shouting to be heard!

So how would you define fame? By the number of people who have heard of you, or by the percentage of people who have heard of you? And does it matter?

*Statistics from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
emanix: (Default)
Last night, I'm up at silly o clock in the morning, trying to draw, but distracted, and I come across mention of a woman online with a tattoo on her arm. It reads 'strap-on' and pictures a naked woman straddling a tool, and I find myself thinking 'that's a bit tasteless, what if she regrets it when she gets older?'

Then I realised there were a lot of things wrong with that thought.
First, who appointed *me* queen of taste? I'm an artist, yes. That gives me a perspective, not the whole rule book.
Second, what has it got to do with me what she wants to do with her body?
Third, what kind of hypocrite am I, forgetting I have my own tasteless tattoos (just because they're in latin doesn't make them any less tacky, does it? Maybe a little?).
Fourth, what's this obsession with people changing their minds?
I realised a whole lot of that response was about my having internalised attitudes straight out of the western media. Good old family values type journalism in which y'know, everybody could maybe have a future as a politician, or a respected public figure, and you wouldn't want to jeopardise that with a silly tattoo now, would you?
Worse still, I realised that if it was a man, I probably wouldn't have had the thought at all - but society tells us that women in particular are prone to changing their minds.

I've been thinking a lot about life choices lately. Decisions are often a hard thing for me. It's not that I lack confidence in the choices I make, on the contrary, when I actually do make a decision, it sticks. It's just that I rarely feel strongly enough about anything for me to want to make the choice. Often, the decisions I've made were based on what gave me the most options farther down the line. I realise I'm always, always thinking 'but what if  I change my mind?' There comes a point though, when choices have to be made. One can't remain in the bud forever.

I recently volunteered to run an event called Polyday (http://www.polyday.org.uk) - a day of workshops, entertainment and social meeting point for Polyamorous people from across the UK. I thought long and hard about the decision before I made it - not so much because of the work involved, or about taking on the responsibility, but about making the declaration "I am poly" to the world. It would be rather ridiculous after all, to run a national level event and have any thoughts about remaining in the closet. And closets, like overstuffed suitcases at the end of a holiday, are notoriously hard to go back into. I considered the possible repercussions all the way into the future, and found that I cared far less about any possible negatives to myself, than about the sad image of a future where events like this didn't exist.

But it wasn't really until last night that I realised there's been a part of me still waiting to decide what I'm going to be 'when I grow up', and always thinking about the 'what-ifs', without ever really focusing on the what I AM.

I'm probably never going to have a career in politics. If at any point I do though, it would be against who I am to try to hide behind a screen of assumed 'virtue'. I have accepted myself, and have no dirty secrets, they're simply a part of who I am. Sex-positive, perpetually curious and wanting to explore everything the world has to offer. I have a past, which of course has made me who I am today, and I'll wear the marks, and the scars, with pride.
I realise now I'm thinking about it that I'd rather have some people running the country with a little colour, some character, some history than the dull grey figures we have today, as career politicians. The idea that the people running the country ought to be pristine married-when-virgins, never modified their bodies, not even an unusual hair colour, never experimented with anything out of the straight and narrow, never had any *fun*... it's crazy. No wonder it's hard to live up to the standard, and all the political parties seem to be the same.

So back to Ms. Strap-on, I want to make her a little apology - sorry about my patronising response earlier. Congratulations on having the courage of your convictions. If you should happen to run for some sort of public office in my area (and your views aren't totally off the wall crazy), then you just got my vote.

July 2015



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