margonaut blog archive (2004-2014)

28Feb/050

buried treasure

The tsunami that destroyed so much in Asia has also uncovered an important archaeological find!

Tsunami Throws up India Relics
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4257181.stm
Archaeologists say they have discovered some stone remains from the coast close to India's famous beachfront Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu state following the 26 December tsunami.

They believe that the "structures" could be the remains of an ancient and once-flourishing port city in the area housing the famous 1200-year-old rock-hewn temple.

Filed under: miscellaneous No Comments
26Feb/050

believe in your inner compass

be careful of
the protector
who feeds you
fear or doubt

Filed under: poetry No Comments
25Feb/051

sex is a gift from Heaven

In the United States, there has been an emphasis on "abstinence only" sex education. This means that they tell kids that sex is bad and that they shouldn't do it except inside marriage.

NEWSFLASH: teenagers are horny and have always had sex. For most young people, "saving it for marriage" is a ridiculous, antiquated idea. Do we really want to encourage people to get married young to the first person that they fall for?

A new study shows that these programs actually encourage teens to have MORE sex. This should not surprise anyone.

I wish we would teach young people the consequences of having sex with the wrong person for the wrong reasons and the joys of sex when combined with love & respect.

Teen sex increased after abstinence program
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6894568
Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

“We didn’t see any strong indications that these programs were having an impact in the direction desired,” said Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed the study.

Sex And The Disgruntled Teen
More proof that *not* having sex is sad and dangerous -- even in Texas. What is wrong with us?

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2005/02/25/notes022505.DTL&nl=fix
Which is to say, you want to virtually guarantee more unsafe sex and increased rates of teen pregnancy and more disrespect for the flesh and a tragic ignorance of all things sensual and delicious and naked in the world? You want more sullen teens and violent youth culture and a virulent 50-percent divorce rate among people who have no idea what good sex is really all about? Keep advocating those abstinence programs, senator.

24Feb/050

encouraging our future innovators

When I was young I was slow at those multiplication tests where you had to answer hundreds of 6x8 type questions. A teacher told me, "Don't worry honey you're just not good at math." Can you imagine saying that to a child?

Many smart girls are taught to think they're stupid and pushed away from learning about math, science, and technology.

However, things are changing. This project of the Girl Scouts of America is quite encouraging!

Girls Go Tech
http://www.girlsgotech.org
Even if you don't realize it, math, science and technology play an important part in your life. It is all around you! During your lifetime you will have to depend more and more on your understanding of these subjects, but you'll be surprised how much fun you can have, and are already having, with math, science, and technology.

Filed under: kids No Comments
21Feb/050

a future classic on staying healthy

Dr. Andrew Weil writes about and practices complimentary medicine. This means that "normal" medicine is combined with an openness to explore alternative and traditional healing techniques. There is an emphasis on prevention over waiting until disease sets in to start treatment. Dr. Weil has dedicated his life to studying different healing paths and finding which ones are good.

I just finished reading his book Spontaneous Healing and think that anyone who is sick or wants to stay healthy should read it. It includes specific recomendations for dealing with a large number of conditions, including cancer. This is one of those books I'm going to buy as a gift for a lot of people.

Here's an important excerpt about conventional doctors (allopathic medicine) versus alternative medicine:

Let me summarize for you what allopathic medicine can and cannot do for you:

CAN:

  • Manage trauma better than any other system of medicine
  • Diagnose and treat many medical and surgical emergencies
  • Treat acute bacterial infections with antibiotics
  • Treat some parasitic and fungal infections
  • Prevent many infectious diseases by immunization
  • Diagnose complex medical problems
  • Replace damaged hips and knees
  • Get good results with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery
  • Diagnose and correct hormonal deficiencies

CANNOT:

  • Treat viral infections
  • Cure most chronic and degenerative diseases
  • Effectively manage most kinds of mental illness
  • Cure most forms of allergy or autoimmune disease
  • Effectively manage psychosomatic illnesses
  • Cure most forms of cancer

Filed under: diet & health No Comments
19Feb/050

a hilarious book about growing up female

I love Susan Jane Gilman's new book Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress! Each chapter consists of a story from different points in the writer's growing up process, from childhood to marriage. I really enjoy her funny and intelligent writing style.

She is unashamed to tell her own most embarassing stories, which made me feel not so weird about my own in a few places. I love the way she approaches life and as a result has grown as a person.

Here are a few selections, so you get an idea of what I'm talking about.

On childhood summer vacation:

To call Silver Lake a resort would be an exaggeration. It was a summer colony founded by Socialists, people either too exhausted from manual labor or too unfamiliar with it to care much about landscaping. Small bungalows had simply been built on plots of land, then left to recede into the woods back around them. Dirt roads led to the eponymous lake, which shimmered, mirrorlike, at the start of each summer before deteriorating into a green porridge of algae by late August.

On teen sex in 1970s New York:

But as far as I and my equally smug, pretentious friends were concerned, virginity was what separated the girls from the women, and we knew which camp we wanted to be in. We scoffed at the idea that "saving yourself" was a matter of morality or willpower. Who was anyone kidding? If you were a virgin, it was simply because no one wanted to fuck you. "She is chaste who is not asked," my friend William liked to say.

"Really? Getting laid meant all that to you?" said a friend of mine later - a friend who had, in fact, come from one of those very God-fearing farm communities I'd imagined beyond the Hudson. "Jeez. For us, sex was just something ot do once we ran out of beer."

And on working for a Senator on Capitol Hill:

Worse yet, as I surveyed the cafeteria, it seemed that nobody else in the entire Longworth House Office Building looked old enough to drink legally. While the top senior staff positions in the House tended to be held by lawyers and middle-aged politicos, most of Capitol Hill was staffed by people who'd graduated from college so recently they still referred to time in terms of "last semester" and "sophmore year." Mainstays of their vocabulary were "awesome," "dickhead," "Beer Pong," and "roommate."

Coincidentally enough, I used to eat at that cafeteria, and what she says is true. I could have been one of the young people she saw as we were both there in 1996 (though the vocabulary part would not have applied to me.)

Filed under: books No Comments
18Feb/054

why are some drugs considered bad and some medicine?

While it's possible that this is a sign that the US Government is relaxing its stance in the ridiculous war on drugs, I think this is more a symptom of desperation. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the very real consequences of war, and one of the major reasons it should be avoided. This is not something being done to "the enemy" (whatever that means) but to America's own people. Those who bravely go to war are often emotionally damaged for life.

I would love to see the results of this study. I personally think MDMA will help the soldiers but won't cure them.

Ecstasy trials for combat stress
http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1416073,00.html
The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.
...
The South Carolina study marks a resurgence of interest in the use of controlled psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs. Several studies in the US are planned or are under way to investigate whether MDMA, LSD and psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can treat conditions ranging from obsessive compulsive disorder to anxiety in terminal cancer patients.

17Feb/051

stranger in a strange, beautiful land

When I was young I was so shy I couldn’t look people in the eye and say hi to them unless I knew them already. This kind of shyness came across as snobbishness and I had a real talent for making bad first impressions. This plus a tendency to throw out really mean zinger comments was not a winning combination.

When I realized that all of my best friends were highly forgiving and loving people that were able to see what was beautiful about me despite the rough edges, I decided to start working on getting over the shyness and learning not to say the evil comments, especially since I don’t really mean them! I’ve since learned not saying them isn’t enough, and I’m learning not to think them anymore either. This defense mechanism is not part of my essential personality and I can do without it. It certainly doesn’t defend me from anything. I’ve made a lot of progress in these areas, though I’m far from perfect about it.

I recently moved to the West Coast from Toronto, and have been dealing with a fair amount of culture shock. People definitely relate to one another differently on this side of the continent and I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my behaviour again.

I've had to learn to not talk so much, to relax more, and to really tune in and fully BE with the people I'm with instead of letting my mind wander, etc. I'm getting better at it and quite frankly I think it's making me a better person.

A lot of old feelings from when I moved to a new city in the middle of a school year as a 13 year old geeky tomboy resurfaced too, which was super-weird but cleansing. Oh man, being 13 can suck.

The most important thing I've learned about the awkwardness is that I have to not be so hard on myself about it & just embrace every step as part of the growth process. The truth is that I'm making great progress.

I truly have respect and admiration for the people here, though I’m not always so good at showing it. Special blessings to those who have been kind and supportive despite my rough landing on these shores.

16Feb/050

science & politics

I got an email today about my stevia article telling me that such and such study (with no reference!) invalidates what I've written. Science is just human observation and not law! I asked him for more information about how the study was carried out and who paid for it.

Here's a story about how science is also affected by political corruption...

U.S. Scientists Say They Are Told to Alter Findings
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-scientists10feb10,0,4954654.story?coll=la-home-nation
More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.
...
A division of the Department of the Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with determining which animals and plants should be placed on the endangered species list and designating areas where such species need to be protected.

More than half of the biologists and other researchers who responded to the survey said they knew of cases in which commercial interests, including timber, grazing, development and energy companies, had applied political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions deemed harmful to their business.

Politics Trumps Science at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release.cfm?newsID=459
Political intervention to alter scientific results has become pervasive within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), according to a survey of its scientists released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, endangered and threatened wildlife are not being protected as intended by the Endangered Species Act, scientists say.

Filed under: politics, science No Comments
12Feb/050

someday my file will be HUGE

Here's another one about people working hard on the PR front to counteract those pesky disgruntled citizens. This article is from 2002, I'd love to hear some more recent stories about this sort of thing, especially from the big firms! I'm sure it's going on now more than ever.

Spin on This!
http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2002-02/05ainger.cfm
Three years ago at a party, a woman I hadn’t seen since college told me she was now working in PR. ‘How interesting!’ I lied. ‘So, what kind of PR do you do?’

‘Oh, you know,’ she shrugged. ‘Our clients are all the big ones.’ ‘You don’t you don’t work for Burson-Marsteller do you?’ I said. ‘Er… yeah. How come you’ve heard of us?’ ‘I’m an activist. And a writer.’ ‘Oh!’ she said. ‘In that case, we probably have a file on you.’ As I choked on my peanuts, she told me she’d watched videos of activists as part of her training, named organizations working on shoestring budgets such as Corporate Watch in Oxford.

This kind of PR is the counter-offensive that flourishes in activism’s wake, increasing in direct proportion to public distrust of the corporate sector.

Filed under: news & media No Comments