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On Monday October 14 I attended what was advertised as a movie about homeopathy.  It was listed in the email that goes out to all staff, faculty and students at NUNM, the National University of Natural Medicine.  I was one of two staff present, the other one being there because she was required to for her job.

I attended this event because I am writing a book about homeopathy, or rather about the culture and psychology that surrounds it.  I am not a believer.  The people who at the event made the assumption that I was, and I made no effort to dissuade them.  I presume that NUNM hosts these events because Boiron donates money, but I could be wrong.

The man who greeted me at the event was the same man I had called to RSVP.  He was nice enough but he had terrible breath and I had to steel myself not to take several steps back whenever he spoke.  He also had a huge pot belly.  When I walked in the door he was telling his own conversion story, about how 30 years ago he'd been sick and had exhausted all the options given by conventional medicine.  Then he'd tried homeopathy and gotten better, and he had never looked back.  It is this kind of uncritical conversion story that gets repeated ad nauseum by homeopathy believers.  I believe they need to repeat it, to hear themselves repeating it, to maintain their belief.  His breath turned my stomach and his story gave me no reason to respect his critical thinking prowess, so I escaped as quickly as possible, but not before I learned that he is a rep for Boiron, one of apparently just two for the entire west coast.  The other rep was also present and made no better representation of the health that can be attained by way of homeopathy.  She engaged me in conversation for a little while, marketing her ND practice in PDX and eating M&M's one by one.  If this is the best Boiron can do for reps they are definitely going down.

They were giving away free pizza and the host had asked me on the telephone what my favorite kind of pizza was.  I answered jalapeno and anchovy, but when I got there my favorite was not.  Apparently the restaurant did not have anchovies and only jar jalapenos though fresh are easily available.  All but one of the huge stack of pizzas were gluten free, however.  I suppose they think that all naturopaths avoid gluten.

The talk that came before the movie was supposed to be a summary of the regulatory status of homeopathy in the US, but really it was an advertisement for Boiron.  The focus was on Boiron's efforts to influence the FDA's position, on a great personal connection that Boiron has in the FDA, and on how the FDA regs don't really stop the sale of homeopathy.  I was somewhat irritable because being in the supplement business I know a little bit about how the FDA has impacted OUR sales of homeopathics, and the Boiron rep was clearly ignorant of that situation.  We've discontinued all sales of LM's (compounded liquid homeopathics),  remedies made from DEA-regulated drugs (opium, etc), and nosodes (remedies made from diseased material, like medorrhinum).  These changes have been in response to shifts in the FDA's stance. 

There was also angry mention of the Australian analysis of everything known about homeopathy which resulted in them dropping it from their publicly funded healthcare program.  They decided it was not effective for treating any conditionFrance and other countries have dropped homeopathy from public funding due to lack of evidence, but the speaker at this event insisted that the Australian assessment was biased and wrong and would be reversed.  Yeah, right.

I learned little from this presentation but I did eat some pizza.  It was OK.

More interesting than the update about regulation was the bit that they said about the "grant" that Boiron had provided to the CEDH (Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy) to start a "Clinical Homeopathy" program, with the subtitle "Integrate Homeopathy Into Your Daily Practice".  It isn't really a grant, it is an expenditure on a marketing effort intended to brainwash more people into believing.  The CEDH exists to separate the name Boiron from the "educational" program. 

In the first "module" of the 4-part educational program they have 22 students enrolled, most of whom are NUNM students.  This makes sense as a lot of people enter naturopathic school already sure about homeopathy and intending to use it.  It also makes sense because shifts in the ND curriculum have removed all five of the homeopathy classes that I was required to take, and instruction in homeopathy is supposed to be blended in with the subject matter in "blocks" that address organ systems one at a time.  According to the students the majority of professors are not teaching much, if any homeopathy, and yet homeopathy is still on the ND clinical board exams.  The students are panicked about the exams and seeking training in homeopathy outside of the NUNM ND curriculum.  Boiron and the CEDH are taking advantage of this situation to secure their future market.

After the talking they finally started the movie, a good hour after the email had said it would begin.  Entitled Magic Pills, the movie is another brainwashing effort along the lines of Just One Drop.  This one attempts to directly address all the complaints that skeptics have about homeopathy, talking about confirmation bias as a reason that scientists won't even consider homeopathy, and repeating the usual homeopathy hypnotic anchor of "it works" (kind of like "build a wall" for Trump).  They also expressed quite a bit of anger at moles such as myself who do not believe but show up to their events and practices wanting to gain information to undermine their efforts.

From my perspective Magic Pills was a weaker piece of brainwashing than Just One Drop but the believers in the scant audience were nodding along.  The use of the title was an effort to take one of the phrases used by skeptics and turn it into a hypnotic anchor for the believers.  I was keeping a tally of all the mentions of "it works", all the testimonials by lay people, medical professionals and PhD's, and all the conversion stories.  These are the standard approaches of homeopaths in getting people to believe.  In the future it might be worth tracking "magic pills" references.  Skeptics should be aware that believers may have been brainwashed to specifically resist the terms that they are using.  Repetition is one of the essential tools of hypnosis/brainwashing.  I had to leave before the end which could be have been more powerful than the anti-skeptic lead-in, but I confess I did not regret leaving.  I had to take a shower when I got home.




 
 
 
 
On Tuesday this week I attended the opening lecture of a lecture series hosted by the nonprofit organization Portland Literary Arts.  I had little idea what to expect.  The speaker was someone I hadn't heard of, or at least didn't remember, but I will remember him now.  The name is George Packer.  He was a staff writer for the New Yorker for a long time, and now is on staff writing for The Atlantic.  He also has written some books and essays, largely about culture and politics.

I was impressed.  He was there to promote his latest book, Our Man, which is about the controversial diplomate Richard Holbrook and the old America that he symbolizes.  The new America is something different.  Packer understands the changes in our culture better than most and I fully intend to seek out his writing in the future.  I have probably read him in the past but the name did not stick in my head.

Our Man is written in an unusual style for a biography.  Rather than being overfull of dates and details, it is told in narrative style by a fictional narrator who is older than the author.  The narrator was "there" for the whole story, and tells it in a style that the author repeated calls "a yarn".  I'm sure it will be a good read, and I will read it as soon as the demand for it at the library goes down a bit.

The book that he wrote in 2013 is called The Unwinding and it is about the cultural shifts that led to the election of Trump--except that at the time nobody knew it would lead there.  It is on my reading list.  The NY Times says it explains why Trump was elected.  For many of us that bears some thought.

When Packer first took the stage he looked up at the audience in the Schnitzer auditorium and he said that Portland is not the biggest city, but it was the biggest crowd.  The auditorium is huge and a beauty.  It holds 2,500 people, and it was full.  After his talk he took out his phone and photographed the crowd from his view on the stage.

Portland, Oregon is an interesting place, full of many highly educated individuals who dearly want to save the world.  They share Packer's sadness and fear about the changes that have come to our country and our politics in the last 20 years.  The patterns of applause during the Q&A period at the end reveal the overall agreement of this crowd with Packer's assessment of what is happening because of Trump.  His answer to the question about Syria (after the Trump-licensed Turkish bombing of the Kurds) made the situation more clear to me than months of reading in the Times.

Packer recommended three books to read (not his own) at the end of the talk.  I put them all on my library list but the one that really excites me is more current.  It is called Intellectuals and Race, by Thomas Sowell.  Amazon says it is an inclusive critique of the intellectual's destructive role in shaping ideas about race in America.  Other sources talk about how much ruckus this book has raised.  Intellectuals don't like to be criticised but in this day and age, they need to respond to criticism rather than dismissing it.

I would say that the ivory tower has made some missteps in shaping ideas about sexuality and gender, too.  I have been subject to some pretty strong progressive brainwashing in this town and witnessed it being misused to shame and alienate.  We would do well to pay attention to George Packer and other thoughtful people in the future as we try to find a way out of the stalemate we are in culturally and politically.  Our democracy is on its way toward failure and if we care about this experiment enough to continue it, we need to find a way that we can talk across the rather deep divisions.

 
 
 
 

Proud Boys in PDX

 
I didn't mean to have anything to do with the protests in PDX yesterday but by accident I visited the fringe.  I worked until 1pm and then I went into SE PDX for an appointment.  My appointment was on Morrison, just a block east of the bridge.  When I parked at 1:15pm, the first oddity I saw was two large trucks loaded to the gills with PDX cops dressed out in riot gear.  The trucks are set up such that the police can stand around the edges of the back and hang on, and when the truck stops they all step off.  They had helmets with face guards and a large assortment of weapons.  There appeared to be a medic on each truck.

There was a helicopter hovering overhead, and another helicopter roaming.  Soon two more truckloads of police came by my parking spot.  I got out of my vehicle and walked around.  There were drunken white tourists coming out of a bar.  They climbed onto one of those big bicycle carts and rowdied off down the street.  Then a crowd of black and camo-clad men sauntered by, wearing masks and armor and carrying medieval looking weapons.  There was at least one woman with them.  They were scary, intentionally so.  I think they were anti-fa.  They appeared to simply be making their presence known.  Two truckloads of riot police unloaded from their trucks and stood on the street corner.  Another two truckloads of riot police came through behind the anti-fa after they left.  I read this morning that Rump is talking about treating the anti-fa as another terrorist org.  I don't think so.  Their goal is not violence.  Their goal is to be there and intervene in bigoted violence when the cops aren't around.  I am grateful, frankly, that there are local citizens willing to step in and stop white supremacists from hurting/killing for their "cause".  I'm not about to risk my own neck.

I walked around the area for a while because I was early to my appointment.  I saw three very clean black suburbans slowly creeping through the blocks.  I presume those were the feds behind bulletproof glass.  Large ford trucks were arriving and parking in the area, and from each truck spilled four white men.  They were mostly wearing polo shirts and blue jeans, and were mostly young to middle-aged and in good shape.  They looked like they were ready for a brawl.  Itching for a fight, maybe.  I presume those were the so-called Proud Boys in spite of the fact that none were wearing black polos with yellow trim which is their uniform.  That group is required to physically fight for their "western chauvinism" cause in order to reach the top level of membership.  They are racist and misogynist and I was glad our local anti-fa and the cops were there ready to suppress their efforts to beat up gay and brown people.

I am proud of Portland with its bubble of relative safety for LGBT and brown people.  Oregon doesn't have the finest of history in this regard, but at least now there are a lot of people willing to stick their necks out to stop hate.

Below are some of the links I visited on Saturday morning when trying to understand what is going on.  I think McInnes and his crew will continue to come here because they get attention, and that is what they want.  Attention and a fight.  The PDX goal was to stop the fighting.  After the protests the word was that they plan to return every month.  It will be expensive for the city to continue to provide the kind of police presence that I saw.

I find it interesting that they call themselves boys.  Oh yeah?  Not men?  So desperate to belong that they'll revert to boyhood?  And proud of what, exactly?  Their white skin?  They had nothing to do with that, they were just born with it.  Their tatoos?  Their toughness?  Not very proud of their independence I guess.  Not too proud of their critical thinking or compassion.  They may be proud but we are not proud of them.

Wiki on Proud Boys
The Proud Boys say they have an initiation process that has four stages and includes hazing. The first stage is a loyalty oath, on the order of "I’m a proud Western chauvinist, I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world"; the second is getting punched until the person recites pop culture trivia, such as the names of five breakfast cereals; the third is getting a tattoo and agreeing to not masturbate; and the fourth is getting into a major fight "for the cause." 

CBS
No one has applied for permits for today's protests
FBI will be there
 
SPLC
Proud boys = "general hate" white supremacist, misogynist, antisemitic

Gavin McInnes
Gavin's website: http://streetcarnage.com/
 
Rollingstone
 
Israel
https://www.newsweek.com/ilhan-omar-rashida-tlaib-palestine-israel-bds-trump-boycott-proud-boys-1454613 
 

Sex and Sexism

 
It's 3:44 am and I've been restless, unsleeping.  I slept at first then woke with thoughts of Epstein, who just suicided because he didn't want to sit through a long trial about his sex trafficking of young girls.  He didn't want to be someone's bitch in prison after having made so many young girls serve as his bitch.  According to one report I read he wanted to inseminate as many women as possible to bear his children.  I wonder how many of his progeny already exist in the world.  According to another report he wanted his head and penis cryogenically preserved after his death.  I wonder if his penis is frozen somewhere after his ignominious suicide in prison.  I wonder how many American men secretly hold him as a hero.  He got stinkin' filthy rich though I read that it's not because of his skill as a financial manager.  He must have got that rich because men will pay a lot of money for girls they can abuse and get away with it.  This is one horror of our culture.

Then Lorena Bobbit came to mind.  She's the woman who cut off her husband's penis and threw it out the car window as she was driving away.  I saw a recent news bit about her, she's doing fine.  She did remark that everybody was fascinated about the penis, which was found and reattached.  Her husband went on to be a porn star, I imagine abusing women on camera.  People weren't nearly as interested in why she did it.  Why did she cut it off?  I'd bet she was furious.  She said it was because her husband "forced himself on her".  Not just once: many times.   She didn't use the word rape but I will.  Her husband considered sex with her to be his right and he raped her, so much and so unpleasantly that she was angry enough to cut off his penis.  Temporary insanity sounds like a nice plea deal but not the truth.  The truth is something more like justice.  If rape doesn't sound like a bad enough crime to you to justify that punishment, you are probably a man.

Another thing that comes to mind is this article, The Female Price of Male Pleasure.  This is truth.  Men get their rocks off and women tolerate.  The woman's pleasure is rarely a priority, much less her orgasm.  Men just want to get off.  If she's uncomfortable or in pain, they ignore it.  If she seeks medical help for her discomfort in sex, her care is not as well covered by insurance as his is for getting an erection.  As if men have more of a right to a big fat erection than women have to not be hurt.  Part of the obliviousness of men is because testosterone makes them that way.  They are impulsive and aggressive because their hormones make them that way.  Sex is an obsession dictated by evolution.  But their selfish behavior is in part due to a gender imbalance in our culture.

How many husbands have wives that never have orgasms, with them at least?  How many even know that or give a damn?  I know only about a few, but that's because they've confessed to me in private.  Usually the blame is on the woman for not doing what it takes to have an orgasm.  What if the whole experience is so unpleasant that women wait for the man to get off and fake orgasms so that they can be set free from the imbalanced sexual process for at least a few more hours?  Lots, that's my estimate.

I know all of this from my own experience.  My best lover ever was a woman.  We didn't have the hottest sex in the world, but she made the effort to give me orgasms.  She was sensitive and curious enough to learn how, and she taught me the lesbian creed of reciprocality.  Our orgasms might not happen at the same time, but we can each give the other one.  Lesbians emphasize this.  It just doesn't happen in many male-female relationships.  The male's orgasm is all that matters--the female can "take care of herself".  The male gets resentful if he has to "take care of himself".  This is disgusting.

My lesbian lover knew from her own experience how sensitive a woman's breasts are, how they can be used to excite, and how easily they can be hurt.  I can't tell you how many times a man has been cruel to my breasts and painfully pinched the nipple or grabbed one in his hand and squeezed it like a water balloon.  My breasts are not for men.  If men cannot use them to give me pleasure, they do not get to touch them.

And then there is porn.  You don't have to look much to know that one of the biggest themes is domination and abuse of females by males.  To start with females are expected to be unnaturally shaven and denuded of protective hair.  To follow up with that we're supposed to enjoy being tied up, abused, ejaculated on.  Maybe some do enjoy this but I can tell you that the vast majority of women want to be caressed and adored, we want to be seduced, not raped.  But a whole lot of really sad young men have their only sexual experiences interacting with this twisted porn, and it makes them even more messed up than they were to start with.  How are they going to learn how to seduce a woman from this?

So in addition to all the other crises facing our time, there is this.  Women are deeply angry because we've come to realize that we've been mistreated and it does not have to be this way.  The sexual imbalance in our culture has come into very clear focus.  We are furious.  Sexism in sexuality is an ugly thing.  Men can't help that they have testosterone and are horny, but they can decide to be egalitarian, they can learn to be good lovers and sensitive partners.  They can take on the lesbian practice of reciprocality in pleasure and orgasm.  For many in the boomer generation it may be too late; they are stuck in their ways.  But for Gen X and onward I think there is still hope that men and women can find a new equilibrium in which women's pleasure is given at least equal priority and men don't think they have a right to sex in spite of how unpleasant it is for their partner, much less license to rape little girls or their wives.

I suppose we have the creep in chief to thank for this nexus.  His naked misogyny in addition to the nasty racism has emboldened a lot of creeps to act out, and women have had to defend ourselves more and more.  A supreme court justice who probably had some fun at the expense of many young women is just one of three accused on our highest court.  The reversal of Roe v Wade is on the horizon, and with that men will be able to legally hijack a woman's body for the purpose of propagating their sperm.  Add to that the fact that abortion is getting harder to access even before the Roe reversal, and that in some states rapists have parental rights, and we have even more reasons to be furious.

I'm not in favor of abortion in general, I think it is an archaic solution to a problem that should be addressed much earlier in the sequence of events.  No woman should be raped or in any other way get pregnant when she is not prepared to raise a child.  But this is another issue that would require all night to even just begin writing about.  Then there's income equality which puts women in a dependent position, and many more sticky wickets.  The pit is deep.

But just one more thing.  We have every right and reason to be angry.  Women have been through a lot of crap in service to men's desires, and it is our turn to serve ourselves.  It is our turn not just to have pleasure instead of pain, but to run this place and change the culture.  We are not bitches, we are justified and motivated.  We don't need men; we only need sperm if we want babies.  Justice may be a ways off but I can smell it through my tears.  Look out all you creepy guys who buy and bully for sex.  The world is changing.

 
 

QotD: Eagles Don't Flock

Eagles don't flock. 
You have to find them one at a time.

--Ross Perot 1930-2019 

Letter to Dog Owners

Maybe you're not like my neighbors.  They're fine people, decent people.  However, their two poodles are currently gated on the front porch of their house and barking at everything that goes by.  The constant noise pollution is not welcome.  I will remember this if I ever want to have a loud party or run a saw at 5:30am.  Consideration gets consideration.

This morning when I was done working in the garden I headed for the house only to realize on the steps that something was on the bottom of my sandal.  I scraped it off on the edge of the steps and it was dog shit.  I hosed off my shoe and the steps.  It may seem like a small thing to you, that your dog does not come when you call it and loves to shit in my garden, but it is not a small thing to me.

Yesterday I went for a walk with a girlfriend who has two dogs.  She wanted me to walk one but I begged out.  The one that she did bring, an American pitbull, was kept on leash the whole time.  It took the treats which were offered regularly regardless of behavior, and appeared indifferent to the kiddie talk tone taken in her speech.  It kept jumping on me, and slobbering on my legs whenever we stopped.  Slobbering may be normal in your world, but I don't want it in mine.

I live across the street from a park, and people walk their dogs past here all day every day.  I have a cat.  My cat hates dogs with a ferocity I have never seen in another creature.  She will go out of her way to draw blood if the dog is clueless enough to get in range.  But some dogs would kill her if they caught her, and she recognizes that kind and runs, climbs, escapes.  The park rules are that all dogs are to be on leash at all times except for when inside the dog park, which is always available.  I believe city rules are the same.  Any dog owner stupid enough to let their dog in my yard deserves the vet bill.  Any dog that is hunter enough to threaten my cat should be on leash.

My last pet was a dog.  I loved him deeply.  I did a real dog obedience training with him, with a lady who trained German shepherds for the police.  We both learned, and we had a language.  He did not run off to shit in someone else's yard.  I could call him off a chase when other dogs were still chasing.  He would sit and watch quietly when I spotted wildlife.  He would heel, really heel without a leash on, and stay.  He would stay laying in the shade while I had lunch in a restaurant.  So when you say your dog is well trained, at a bare minimum I expect that you can call them back to you and they will come.  Every time.  If he's not well trained, he should be on a leash.

Postscript: I texted my neighbors to ask for some quiet and admitted that the dog barking was getting to me.  They took the dogs indoors and the noise has stopped.  I can feel my blood pressure gradually dropping back toward normal.

I think that when this cat dies I will not have any more pets.  It is very American to have pets, it helps us with the isolation.  But I would rather hang out with my neighbors than listen to their pets.  I would rather make love to my partner than pet the cat.  I would rather not have a litter box to clean or warm piles of dung to pick up with a plastic bag.  The numbers are astounding about pet ownership in the US: could it be that we are substituting cats, dogs, computers and phones for having real connections with other people?

QotD: Life Will Break You

 Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
~ Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

YOGA BUTT

 A friend came to me recently complaining of yoga butt.  It isn't what you might think--unless you've had it.  Yoga butt is, in medical terms, a proximal hamstring tendinopathy.  For those who don't speak medicalese, that means that an injury where your leg muscles attach to your butt bones (ishial tuberosities) hasn't healed right and is hurting for too long.  Muscles attach to bones with tendons as the connector, and when a tendon gets torn off the bone or otherwise hurt, it can be very slow healing.  This is because tendons are kind of like plastic--they're tough and hard, and not as "alive" as other tissues.

I got my yoga butt from doing a cartwheel without warming up first.  It took me 20 years to heal it because it took me that long to get serious about it.  It was just a bothersome ache at my butt bone that was worse with sitting.  Lots of people get yoga butt from doing hamstring stretches (forward bends) without building strength or warming up first.  You'd think that the muscle would be more fragile than the tendon but there's a weak spot where the tendon attaches to the bone--this is usually where the injury is.  Once it get injured, people tend to keep re-injuring it.  Especially yogis who are ever so slightly prideful about their ability to bend. 

Tendons get strong from being tensioned, but you have to start gradually.  Work out your hamstrings to make your hamstring attachment tendons stronger.  This is part of the treatment for yoga butt.  The thing is yoga doesn't have a lot of poses that strengthen the hamstrings, but it does have a lot of poses that require you to be able to touch your toes, or fake it.  And faking it teaches you all kinds of bad habits that leave you imbalanced, strong in places and weak in others, and prone to injury.

Lots of thoughts about this but I must go.

Tags:

QotD: Gatofeo

An ugly cat.
Vast desert.
Smoke and fire.
Flying lead makes holes in parchment.
The ugly cat is much amused.

--- Gatodamus (1503-1566)
(Source: https://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/107438-jarbidge-nevada-monster/)

QotD: Dickey on the River

The river and everything I remembered
about it became a possession to me,
a personal, private possession, as nothing
else in my life ever had.  Now it ran
nowhere but in my head, but there
it ran as though immortally....
In me it still is, and will be until I die,
green, rocky, deep, fast, slow, and
beautiful beyond reality.

--James Dickey in Deliverance 

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