Sunday afternoon

20 09 2015

Do not put on icy hot just after getting out of the shower.

Lotion out of the shower makes sense: you’re naked, and your pores are wide open and ready to soak in that moisturing goodness.

Pores wide open and ready for mentholated cream? Not so good.

Lesson learned.

~~~

“Planned Parenthood is profiting from [women’s] pain and that’s what we’re standing up to,” said Lila Rose, who founded Live Action when she was just a teenager and has been working to discredit Planned Parenthood for years, said at the rally last Thursday.

Extending that logic:

  • Oncologists are profiting from [cancer patients’] pain. . . .
  • Pain specialists are profiting from [pained peoples’] pain. . . .
  • Rehabilitation centers are profiting from [injured peoples’] pain. . . .
  • Hospices are profiting from [dying peoples’] pain. . ..

I’m sure you can come up with your own.

h/t Wonkette

~~~

I haven’t read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands (it’s on the list!), tho’ I understand it’s been generally, although not universally, well-received, and have read only a few reviews of his lated book, Black Earth.

Thus caveated: While I have no beef with the contention that Stalin was as great a criminal-against-humanity as was Hitler, and that it is useful to compare the Nazi and pre-Khrushchev Soviet regimes, I am skeptical that the great crimes of Hitler, et. al. are the same as those of Stalin, et. al.

I am even more skeptical that the Bolsheviks, bad as they were, were somehow also responsible for Nazi crimes.

~~~

Funny how back pain can migrate into leg pain.

I don’t know what happened—is a pinched nerve even a thing?—but my minor back problems flared up earlier this week, then decided to migrate down my right leg for the weekend.

Oddly, however, while sitting or standing upright is painful, walking isn’t that much of a problem, and running is completely fine.

The bike, however? Fuggedaboutit.

Anyway, I had to take my food scraps to the Greenmarket in Grand Army Plaza yesterday (and yes, I really did have to, as my little bin was full-up), so decided to hoof it instead of either biking or taking the train. It was not a comfortable walk (made worse by blisters—honestly!), but it was completely worth it, for not only did I unload my food scraps, I was able to score my most favorite fruit of the fall:

The cortland apples are back!

So even tho’ I looked bad enough waiting for the 2 train home that a woman stopped and tried to convince me to sit down (“Thank you, but really, no it feels better to lean against the wall than sit”), the five pounds of apples I scored was totally worth it.

I just hope next week I’m well enough to bike for my apples.

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Woman please let me explain

1 08 2015

Former governor and never-president Mike Huckabee’s recent discourse on Iran, the president, and “march[ing Israelis] to the door of the oven” led Ed Kilgore to consider how much Pastor Mike like’s his  Holocaust analogies.

. . . . Fact is, Mike Huckabee has a remarkably intimate relationship with the Holocaust as he sees it, and has been prone to violating the unwritten rule against Holocaust analogies for years. For one thing, he is one of many anti-choice politicians and activists who cannot resist the temptation of analogizing legalized abortion to the Holocaust. There was the incident from back in 2007, during a speech at a pro-life event, when he referred to the deaths of 45 to 50 million unborn babies from abortion as a holocaust—and then connected those deaths to the country’s worker shortage.

Comparing the number of fetuses killed in the US since 1973 to the Holocaust is not uncommon among pro-lifers although the usual reference is to “a holocaust” than “the Holocaust”. Kilgore notes that Huckabee, however, has no problems equating abortion to Auschwitz, as he did in 2014:

If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?

One of the problems with this analogy (in addition to all of the other problems) is the logical extension of this kind of thinking: women who have abortions are Nazis.

Oh, I know, Huckabee and the rest want us to think of Planned Parenthood and all of the rest of the “abortionists” as Nazis, and maybe to throw some shame on the rest of us as Good Germans, but if you think, as Huckabee apparently did in 2013, that a woman’s uterus “has become one of the most dangerous places for a baby to be”, then how can you avoid the conclusion that it is the women who endanger those babies?

It is the women, after all, who drive to the clinic, who walk into the office, who ask a doctor to perform an abortion, and who climb on to the table so that it may be done.

They are the one’s ordering the destruction of their children; the doctors are the ones simply following those orders.

Of course, that’s far too harsh a rhetoric to float in prime time; at most, perhaps, the women could be compared to sonderkommandos: victims themselves, if not wholly innocent.

That is the bind of the pro-life argument-by-Holocaust analogy: what to do with the women.

Which is not so far from the bind of the pro-life argument in general.

~~~

h/t Sarah Posner





Same as it ever was

26 07 2015

Medical research is gross.

No, wait, scratch that: biological research is gross.

There’s blood, and guts, and sawed-through bones. There are transgenic creatures, creatures which have been induced to glow, and shall we discuss fecal transplants?

Terribly useful, yes. But also gross.

And you’ve all seen the photo of the mouse with the ear on its back, right? Mother Jones helpfully compiled a list of weird experiments with mice, and while the naked ear-ed mouse doesn’t bother me, I cannot look at that last picture.

I just, I can’t, and you can’t make me. (This is me squinching my eyes tight.)

I find it profoundly disturbing.

So, on some level, I can empathize with those who are profoundly disturbed that Planned Parenthood donates fetal tissue for research. It sounds terrible.

Of course, much of the uproar deals with the alleged sale of said tissues and organs—an act which, if true, would be terribly illegal—but there is little evidence to indicate that Planned Parenthood has or does sell tissue.

They do charge for storage and maintenance, which fees are quite legal. The whole business is quite legal.

See Public Law 103-43, passed into law in June, 1993, in particular, Part 498A (a):

(1) IN GENERAL – The Secretary may conduct or support research on the transplantation of human fetal tissue for therapeutic purposes.

(2) SOURCE OF TISSUE – Human fetal tissue may be used in research carried out under paragraph (1) regardless of whether the tissue is obtained pursuant to a spontaneous or induced abortion or pursuant to a stillbirth.

There are important sections on the conditions of a licit donation, auditing of procedures, research and state law, and then:

PROHIBITIONS REGARDING HUMAN FETAL TISSUE SEC. 498B.

(a) PURCHASE OF TISSUE– It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.

Some statutes can be written in such a way as to obscure their meanings, but this one is not: fetal tissue sales are illegal.

(In fact, the sale of any human organ or tissue (with the exceptions of gametes, blood, and plasma) are illegal in the United State; only Iran (currently) has a legalized organ trade. It is a matter of serious ethical debate whether such sales should be allowed, but, again, under the current Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, they are prohibited.)

But what of the prices discussed? Scroll down to subsection

(d) DEFINITIONS – For purposes of this section:

. . .(3) The term valuable consideration’ does not include reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.’.

Et voilà: charging for fetal tissue is not illegal.

Again, this might be disturbing to those who are generally unaware of how biomedical research is conducted in this country (or around the world), or of the bloodiness of medical practice generally.

Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain specialist, responded bluntly to the alleged wrongs revealed in that Center for Medical Progress sting video:

Hearing medical professionals talk casually about products of conception may seem distasteful to some, but not to doctors. Medical procedures are gory by nature. Surgeons routinely cut skin, saw bones, and lift the uterus out of the abdominal cavity and then put it back in. We stick our hands inside people and it is messy. We handle broken limbs, rotting flesh, and cancers that smell. We talk about this calmly because this is what we are trained to do. It doesn’t mean that we are heartless; it means we are professionals and this is our norm for a clinical conversation. There is no reason a conversation about products of conception requires more or less reverence than one about a kidney or a biopsy specimen.

Furthermore,

Hearing medical professionals negotiate with a private buyer over the price for collecting tissue may also seem distasteful, but there is indeed an expense involved for the donor (in this case, Planned Parenthood). FactCheck.org contacted several researchers who work with human tissue, and the price range mentioned in the videos—$30 to $100 per patient—is on the low end. “There’s no way there’s a profit at that price,” Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Biorepository, told the website.

Again, anyone could reasonably be put off by all of this, just as anyone outside of a particular field may be put off by the behaviors and standards of those in the field. I don’t want to see what happens in even an humane slaughterhouse, and I regularly avert my eyes (when not otherwise avoiding) depictions of animals being killed. I find it distressing.

But just because it is distressing does not mean it’s unethical. Some proponents of the “yuck factor” theory of ethics believe that our reactions of distress and disgust can be signals of a deeper moral response, but I think it more a matter of unfamiliarity and cultural taboo, and thus a rather unsteady guide to moral behavior.

In other words, insofar as I accept that biomedical research and medical treatment are in general both good, and that such practices depend at least in part on research on human body parts, I accept that something that sounds terrible—legal trade in human body parts—may not be terrible.

That said, I do think the tissue market as it currently exists, legal though it may be, is also problematic, largely because it pushes the process of commodification ever further into our bodies. That tissue banks aren’t always upfront about the destination of donated tissues, e.g., that skin may be used for a cosmetic surgery rather than burn patient only adds to the murk of this market.

Most of those reacting strongly to the discussion in the video, however, are less concerned about the legal tissue market (and in fact are convinced that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law) than that this somehow reveals something extra-unsavory about both Planned Parenthood and abortion.

They don’t want to overturn PL 103-43 or the UAGA, aren’t calling for changes to the regulation of the tissue markets, or going undercover at tissue banks. They aren’t concerned about how gross it is to skin a cadaver.

No, this is about abortion, not fetal tissue, not alleged illegal activity, but about how abortion in general and Planned Parenthood in particular are terrible.

In other words, while the issue of fetal tissue donation may be new to some, the message overall is same as it ever was.

~~~

Also worth reading: James F. Childress on the Human Fetal Transplantation Research Panel of 1988. It was the report of this panel which provided the ethical argument in favor of research using fetal tissue.





I don’t want to spend the rest of my days/keeping out of trouble like the soldiers say

19 02 2011

So in the short time I’m a ghost. . . .

Tunisians drive dictator Ben Ali out of office.

Egyptians drive  dictator Mubarak out of office.

Jordan’s king fires cabinet, promises reform.

Yemenis gather to protest their government.

Bahrainis gather to protest their government, and are killed in their sleep.

Libyans gather to protest the leadership of the insane Qaddafi, are mowed down by snipers, and prevented from receiving medical care.

Iran’s pro-Ahmadi legislators get all shouty in their demands for death of opposition figures.

LiveAction doctors video shot at Planned Parenthood, slanders PP as enabling child sex-work.

US House of Representatives votes to defund Planned Parenthood.

US House of Representatives votes to continue Army sponsorship of NASCAR.

Senator Ron Paul wins CPAC presidential straw poll.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker proposes bill to strip government unions of most of their reason for being, as well as to effectively privatize UW-Madison; the Republican-controlled Senate attempts to slam this though in less than a week.

Wisconsin Senate Democrats abscond from the State, preventing action on the bill.

Tens of thousands of public union members and their supporters gather at the Capitol [nb: an absolutely gorgeous building] in support of their rights and dignity, and in opposition to Governor Walker.

My 50-year old sister and public high school teacher attends her first protest ever. Has a ball, and calls to tell me about it.

Packers win the Super Bowl.

~~~

And because I have been a ghost, I have had no time to say what I wanted to say:

Go Tunisians! Go Egyptians! Go Bahrainis and Yemenis and Libyans and Iranians and Syrians and everyone everywhere who wants to be free and is wiling to sacrifice themselves for that freedom.

You are strong and brave and beautiful and fragile and all the more strong and brave and beautiful for your fragility.

Women of these United States, it is well past time that we took our own lives in our own hands.

I salute Nancy Pelosi and Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier and everyone else, male and female, who stood up for us on the House and Senate floors. But it is not enough.

It is long past time for us, for more of us, for me, to stand up for one another, to stand up for ourselves.

And for my sister, my nieces, my friends, Badgers, countrymen:

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Stand up, Badgers, sing!
“Forward” is our driving spirit,
Loyal voices ring.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Raise her glowing flame
Stand, Fellows, let us now
Salute her name!

~~~

And the SuperBowl? That’ll do, Pack, that’ll do.