March 28, 2009

The Word "Men" Does Not Always Mean "Mankind"

I'm finding it harder to believe that one day there will truly be equality for all in this country. Despite a black man and a white woman competing for the presidency, there is still racism, sexism, and patriotism. 

This is why I say "patriotism" like it's a bad thing.

Gardasil sparked widespread debate when it came out a few years ago, with some touting it as a miracle vaccine and some insisting it would encourage pre-teen girls to start having sex. Neither idea is true in any way, shape or form. Gardasil is designed to prevent the spread of the four most common, and most dangerous, types of HPV, which often lead to cervical cancer, one of the most deadly diseases in women. It is FDA approved for girls aged 9-26. Because very, very, very few women will be virgins until death, this vaccine is an investment in life. 

Women are marrying later in life these days, after taking time to live alone, get degrees, and travel the world building friendships. Because of this, the chances any given woman has of not only being a virgin on her wedding night but also marrying a virgin and then staying with him 'till death do them part (and not remarrying) is miniscule. I would love to know how many of the parents who are teaching their daughters the value of a pure wedding night do so because they themselves had one, and not because they're terrified their daughters will be like they were when they were her age. 

This is how I break it down, generally speaking: The women who do remain virgins until marriage are more likely to come from religious backgrounds and are more likely to marry at a young age. Their husbands, however, are not necessarily virgins and can still pass the disease to their virginal brides on their wedding night. So, though these women remained "pure" until being bedded by their "maybe not so pure" husbands (who's really to know/care if a man isn't a virgin on his wedding night?), and believed there was no need to vaccinate themselves against a sexually transmitted disease, they could still die of cervical cancer. Sucks.

The best way Gardasil works is to vaccinate kids before they become sexually active, which is why it's recommended for middle schoolers. It does not prevent any other STD or pregnancy, so it's not like girls will think they're home free to bang the football team (and I bet there's a strong correlation between the people who think Gardasil will cause their kids to start having sex and the people who don't want sex ed in public schools) and it doesn't take the place of responsible sexual education.

Now the makers of Gardasil are seeking FDA approval to vaccinate boys so they won't be HPV carriers. What's the excuse for parents now? It's not fucking cost effective. Because the benefit for men is minimal, the vaccine isn't worth it. There is so much bullshit in this it makes me sick. Let's not vaccinate the girls because it will make them all whores, and let's not vaccinate the boys because it's not worth the money. Oh, and don't mention sex because that's not something that will ever happen to MY kids. MY kids are good and pure. They even wear rings that say they're good and pure! 

Even the most responsible kids will make the choice to have sex before they're married, and many will make this choice before they can legally be married. Can't we prepare them, so that when they do make that choice they will make it with the least amount of damage to their health, rather than condemn their actions, ensuring they won't ask for help? Is it fair to damn them, as adults, to an increasingly more common death because they made the same choice most parents made? I hope not.

March 26, 2009

The "Secret" Link Between Diet and Health

Or don't eat like a fatty.

I come from three very food-oriented cultures: the Irish love them their potatoes, the Italians treat pasta like a god, and Americans, well, we all know how Americans eat.

It's not difficult to see how eating healthy foods can contribute to a healthy body. These past few weeks of marvelous unemployment I've become a regular gourmet in my kitchen, dishing up gnocchi with tomatoes, chicken sausage, bell peppers, onions, garlic and cheese, and  a plate of baby greens topped with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and balsamic dressing, and some broccoli rice and chicken sausage. I even made goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pizza!

However, very shortly before unemployment started, the same week in fact, I discovered I have eczema. (This "discovery" involved a trip to urgent care, some ointments, two days off work, and over $400. And there goes nearly a third of my severance pay. Bastards.)

I've been researching what I could do to keep the disgusting rash at bay. The following are lists of "Do's" and "Don'ts."

Eat shitloads of the following:
  • Water based fruits and vegetables, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, and green "peepers." I love finding typos in others' work.
  • Vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, carrots, and leafy green veggies.
  • Sulfur rich foods, like eggs, garlic and asparagus.
One website even published a sample menu.
  • Breakfast is a raw fruit smoothie with "golden flax seeds," "wild crafted blue green algae," "green drink mix," and "probiotics." WTF are blue green algae and green drink mix? 
  • Lunch is vegetables added to any of the following: salmon, rice, potatoes, and miso soup. Boredom not allowed.
  • Dinner is a glass of vegetable juice. That you juice yourself. V8 is cheating.
Here's a list of things to avoid like the plague:
  • Fried foods and animal fats (and apparently every meat except salmon)
  • Soft drinks, sugar, chocolate, potato chips, or any other junk food
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Hot water (seriously)
  • Fun (not so seriously)
There is such a thing as going too far. You'll look like the orange patient in "Scrubs" after a few weeks of eating nothing but colorful vegetables.

Not the guy I meant; he apparently doesn't exist on the Internet.

I'll just stick to the recommended 8 glasses of water a day. When filtered water was free and chilled at work I'd go through about 2 liters every day. My happiness would suffer if I were restricted to juicing vegetables three times a day, and don't they say the placebo effect can have as much to do with health as many cures?

Or maybe the simplest solution is on the tip of my tongue... There have been cases of eczema that have been "cured" due to a major hormonal change. I couldn't afford health insurance with my paycheck, so when my free birth control ran out and Planned Parenthood wanted me to pay for more I took a hiatus. Luckily (?), after a week I lost my job and qualified for free pills again. I had recently tried Ortho Evra, or the Patch, which caused weight gain and "enhanced" emotions. All of this was exactly at the time my eczema began. I'll be a happy, happy camper if all I have to do to keep the itchy away is take the pills I'm used to taking. I'll update in a month or so.

March 20, 2009

In Which People Tend to Resemble Their Pets

This is not news.

Studies, stories, and certain stereotypes surround the concept of inter-species look-a-likes. Consensus has long been that married couples begin to look alike, and Rachel Toor combined both concepts by pointing out how her pets resembled her husbands and lovers in The Pig and I, cleverly capitalizing on the theory.

A couple of days ago one of my clearance fish died and the survivor was listless. After being frustrated with PetsMart for telling me plants would be in Wednesday... no, Tuesday... no, Monday, and not having plants for three weeks I bought plants and a few small fish (elsewhere) to keep my clearance fish company. As soon as I got the new fish in there he started swimming around them, but curiously didn't join their mini school. It was enough company just to know they were in the tank with him, and he stayed nearby, keeping a tiny distance. Most of the time I know that my friends are nearby and I can see them any time I want to, and contentedly live alone the rest of the time. However, this weekend it seems most of my friends are gone: off on spring break, on a camping trip, or generally too busy on weekends to get together. I feel kind of like my clearance fish felt before he got companions.*

No, we just don't like him.

Chloe, on the other hand, is both very much like me and very much not. Her tolerance for company is painfully limited; she prefers solitude, but when she wants attention she's rather enjoyable. You don't go to her, she comes to you. Of course, sometimes she's plain crazy and will attack your ankle simply for walking past her. Lucky she's cute enough to get away with almost anything, except standing in the potted plants, which happens to be her new favorite flavor or mischief.

Sure, she's cute now.

*EDIT: Clearance fish #2 died Sunday. Figures.

March 19, 2009

The dignity of Facebook is pretty much out the door.

Here is a note of feedback I submitted to Facebook today:

*EDIT: All of our complaints made a difference! More than 2 million users petitioned Facebook to cut it with the ridiculous changes (though that's only 1% of all users, it's still the most feedback they've ever gotten) and they're listening. Thanks for the link, Dan!

Seriously, it's terrible. The fact that you can control status updates of friends who post "sleeping, then going to work, then eating..." is useful because no one cares to know those things. This is not Twitter and anyone who feels the need to update the world on their minute daily experiences by the hour can just go to Twitter. That's what it's there for, that's why I do not have a Twitter account. I switched to Facebook from MySpace because Facebook, back then, was for college students. Then you decided to let professionals in, which was cool because we could benefit from that. Then you decided to let the whole world in and that was OK at first because the layout and style were still cultured. But then your ads started targeting me as someone who obviously needs to lose weight, get married, and get pregnant (not necessarily in that order)* and you started "updating Facebook to follow whatever silly fad was happening at the time. The dignity of Facebook is pretty much out the door. Something was created that was original and a great idea. It catered to the fewer, and those fewer were happy. But then it started getting all concerned with popularity and things went down the toilet and now, since it's so entertaining to know the hourly details of everyone's lives, Facebook has pretty much become Twitter with more elaborate profiles. Get a backbone and decide what "Facebook" wants to be and stick to it. You'll piss off more people trying to stick with whatever popular fad is out there and changing shit up all the time than you will by maintaining one personality.

Since you say you listen to feedback (do you really read every letter? I think this one deserves a response) and change Facebook solely based on the input of your users, I can only assume the rest of the world is telling you to change all the time to be more like MySpace and Twitter. But seeing as how the majority of the top "Help" searches are about how to go back to the old Facebook I'm guessing not. And if so, then it only makes sense that I leave, because this is not what I signed up for. 

Oh, and by the way, there HAS to be a way to get rid of the "Highlights" section on the home page. Really? Those are highlights? People I don't see anymore, don't really care to see anymore but can't "un-friend" because they still live with my sister get drunk and sing karaoke and those videos are what I see EVERY single time I'm on Facebook? I can't remove them? The sound on my computer is busted, so I can't watch them even if I wanted to. But no, these are apparently the "highlights" of my "friends" lives so I'm forced to be reminded of their antics and how they felt the need to post Karaoke and Soju parts 1-5. Really? I wasn't there, I wasn't invited, I wouldn't have gone anyway because I really don't like Karaoke and really don't like the drama that follows these people everywhere they go, and I must be reminded that my drunk former roommates like karaoke. I'm just sick of it all. This is nowhere near the Facebook I signed up for, the Facebook millions of us signed up for, and at least some of us want out, i we're not going to be heard. We do not approve, Facebook mods. The new home page sucks ass. 

Thank you kindly.

*About those ads: whatever happened to the Victoria's Secret and study abroad ads? Why must my entire life be about losing weight, getting married and having babies? Did that petition that was circulating around a while back to get rid of the "lustful" VS ads really make you guys take it down? I love VS! I do not love babies. And I do not have the need for a wedding photographer. I want my sexy underwear back, dammit.

March 13, 2009

Corrective Rape

Even if you're a South African man who believes lesbians can and must be "cured" of their sexual orientation, and even if you know you won't be prosecuted, gang raping lesbians is probably not the most effective way to go about your business. 

Just saying.

In the US rape is prosecutable to the fullest extent of the law... if you can prove it happened, of course. It's your word against his word. Not a fight I want to be in. It's not fair that the penis, something that can do *so* much good can turn into a weapon when you're at your most vulnerable. I read about the anti-rape condom today. Reminded me of "Teeth." Seriously though, it's a creepy idea all around. If there weren't women who wrongly accused men of rape it would be pretty easy to punish rape with castration. At least it would humiliate them to no end, and at most it would pretty much guarantee they'd never rape again. 

In other news, California recently decided, apparently, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and gays can just have their little "unions" and pretend they're like real people. They get the same rights, so who cares? A week or so ago there was a petition brought to the legislature that wants the word "marriage" to be removed from all California law, and in it's place write "domestic union." It gives everyone the same rights, so who cares?

I voted down Prop 8, but I have a problem with removing marriage from our laws. If I end up getting married I want to be married, dammit, not in a "domestic partnership." It sounds like a high school government project, but it's not like your whole life rests on that one grade. Seems like everyone these days is waking up to realize their shotgun marriages of eight days or their 25-year marriages aren't worth it anymore. And maybe they aren't, I'm not one to argue staying together if it's a bad relationship. But we aren't looking at marriage as that long of a commitment. I don't think we ever were, what with arranged marriages, pregnancy marriages, or to keep your girlfriend's mouth shut after your kid went missing

Just let the gays get married; then everyone can have a husband or wife. I do pity the couples who believe that allowing gay marriages will somehow discredit their own marriage to someone of the opposite sex. Doesn't sound like those relationships are really that strong. Having a strong relationship is like a lawyer making a good case: you can't argue your point if you don't know what the prosecution is going to say, and you can't win if you don't back up your point with facts and examples.

But, if you are a South African (or otherwise) man who wants to cure lesbianism by gang raping them I do hope someone is wearing the anti-rape condom and I do hope retribution is a bitch.

March 11, 2009

On Sleepless Roads the Sleepless Go

What do chocolate, tortilla chips, dessert, sex, sodas, and now the news have in common?

They're all things I've at one point given up for Lent (some not so intentionally...). The week Lent started in 2009 the economy took my job, so along with chocolate I've given up all news outside of, The Daily Show/Colbert Report, and the occasional NPR when I'm in the car. Since I'm not driving daily anymore and I don't have TV, this is easy enough. It's hard to keep your spirits up about finding a job when you keep hearing how 700 people applied to one janitorial job in Ohio. So I'm going for the easy solution: pretend the news doesn't exist!

To be honest, I've made a good time of unemployment so far. In between e-mailing and calling prospective employers I've gone on walks through Balboa Park and the beach, gone to lunch, seen a movie, and read a whole bunch. I even did my taxes, which nailed me rent for another month. 

This blog more or less marks the beginning of me trying to take myself seriously as a writer. The lay off was a blessing in disguise, I told myself, and to keep that true I need to use my time wisely and start getting some revenue. One of the things I'd like to use this blog for is for philosophical discussion (mostly with myself). Now, however, it's time for me to go play hide and seek with my cat.