Thursday, April 22, 2010

The empowerfulment concern troll

Pleasure is not a zero-sum pursuit. The skeptical reaction to the Boobquake has centered a lot on the fact (and I'm paraphrasing) that men like looking at scantily clad women, so obviously this simply perpetuates patriarchy. I see this attitude a lot when it comes to ladies who wanna be naked: Erykah Badu shouldn't have gotten naked in her video because men are titillated by her nudity. That's not her fault, and it doesn't mean she can't use her body to express herself. Not everyone will get it, but when does that ever happen? Especially with boundary-pushing?

It's a concern trolling technique that really gets to people. Oddly enough, it tends to put a lid on female sexual expression in the end. The collective clitoris will never be avenged. I just don't believe in revenge (especially when the score is spread across generations. *I* have not been oppressed for tens of thousands of years - just 27). An age of matriarchy would give women a boost, but male oppression wouldn't. Schemes of supremacy do not liberate or avenge, when all it takes to "win" is to come out the least badly.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where Have You Been All My Life Pea Soup




Yesterday I made one of those recipes that makes me feel stupid for not having invented it or even heard of. I'm not a practical cook. My repertoire of go-tos is very small. Pesto pea soup is going in that mental file. It's easy, cheap, healthy, and delicious. The recipe is so simple I hardly need to write anything. It's exactly what you think it will be: carrot, onion and celery are simmered in stock until tender, add a pound or two of frozen peas and simmer a few more minutes until it seems done, then blend the hell out of it.

I used one onion, one carrot, and one rib of celery, plus 2 lbs of frozen peas, and a quart of chicken stock (the final product had a thick texture, about the consistency of heavy cream). To this I added a quarter cup of basil pesto. The recipe calls for using more pesto to garnish the soup when you eat it, but I found the pesto I stirred in to be almost more than enough. The sweetness of the basil and peas needs to be tempered with a little salt. I prefer to leave fine-tuning like that to the diner, so keep a salt shaker handy when you sit down to eat this.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Push-polling the medical literature

I'm a person with many medical problems, none of which are doctors. As a feminist and sometimes invalid, I'm supposed to feel mistreated by the medical system. While I do have the being a freakish lady thing working against me, I also have a background in science working for me. In general, I'm a well-informed consumer of medical services, and my doctors know it. Being sick makes medicine as a subject pretty compelling, so I read a few medical blogs, including Kevin, MD. The mood around Kevin's is pretty darn anti-patient, and this post was the last straw for me. Take out the words you'd skip on a google search, and you get a title that says chronic pain patients are disobedient children. Patients with weird conditions: threat or menace? The quote from the article that really got me was


“The study of life-course influences on chronic pain is still in its infancy,” the researchers said.

This layperson is not surprised at the results, nor is she suspicious of their validity. I'll bet the researchers had a similar perspective when they put the study together. If a field is still in its infancy, why start with something you are pretty sure will make patients look bad*?

I'll give practitioners and researchers the fact that chronic pain is a sticky wicket; there are addicts out there seeking drugs from you just cuz they want 'em, and the process of sifting them out insults the people you're really trying to help. An objective diagnosis is a hard sell without blood tests or x-rays. Things get a lot simpler when you can say that the distinction isn't important to make because it's all in the "real patients'" heads. So you look for some data that support that conclusion. I respect the fact that many docs take up this challenge and treat sufferers of chronic pain, but I still feel pretty betrayed seeing this hostility laid so bare.

I don't really go in for "a few bad apples" explanations, mostly because of this talk by Dan Ariely [He talks about how almost everyone cheats a little, but there are only a few Lynndie Englands out there, so the aggregate adds up to a lot of cheating. Subtitles are available for the video]. I want a reasonably skeptical doctor. In case all this waffling doesn't make it clear, I am not willing to unequivocally condemn a whole group of medical professionals.

[I got rid of a bunch of equivocating stuff down here, because it was boring the hell out of me. Ambivalence: who cares?]