November 26th, 2012


[links] Link salad finds a bustle in its hedgerow

Mini-libraries have curb appeal

Who Made That Emoticon? — The history of a simple thing. I also like the list of Japanese emoticons. (Via my Dad.)

Mehrangarh Fort — More amazing South Asian architecture from BLDGBLOG.

Psoriasis drug 'slows dementia' mice study suggestsDrugs used to calm inflammation in psoriasis may also help to combat the effects of Alzheimer's disease, a study on mice suggests.

Newly evolved gene may have changed humans' brainsNot the only gene that separates us from other apes, but an interesting one.

Antarctic marine wildlife is under threat, study finds — This "science", with it's liberally-biased "data" and "facts", can of course be safely ignored by the ideologically correct conservative. For the rest of us who actually live in reality, it's scary stuff.

Boeing Said It Will Deny Equal Pension Benefits to Married Gay Couples — Classy move, Boeing. And this will save just how much for your bottom line and the benefit of your stockholders. How typically conservative, to trade away ethics for profit.

Susan Rice And The Power Of Postracial Thinking — Ta-Nehisi Coates on the nonsensical GOP attacks on Susan Rice.

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy — This is the dreadful evil that we do in the world today, that most Americans are barely aware of. That we would never allow on our own soil.

Sale of Guns Soar Following Election — Because the Obama administration did so much to curb gun rights during his first term. Or not. This is another example of what I keep saying — liberal-progressives fear conservatives because of what conservatives themselves say they will do, conservatives fear liberal-progressives because of what conservatives themselves imagine those liberal-progressives might do. It's just another facet of the endless GOP War on Reality.

The religious liberty right to believe that algebra is an abortifacientSay you have a public school student who is an observant Jew. That student has a reasonable religious liberty objection to being offered only school lunches containing pork. But what if this student were to refuse school lunches containing beef, asserting that he believes beef to come from pigs and therefore to violate his religious commitment to keeping kosher. Does the school have an obligation to accommodate the delusional belief that beef comes from pigs? Tyndale House says yes. The Christian publisher says it has a right to its own sectarian facts and sectarian reality, and that no such thing as objective truth exists that might constrain that. Slacktivist Fred Clark with more on the endless lunacy that is the Religious Right. And remember, these nuts are the backbone of the GOP. Every time you vote Republican, you're voting to further empower this intellectual cesspool as a prime mover in American government and policy.

Why Marco Rubio Needs To Know That The Earth Is Billions Of Years Old[T]his economy, at its root, is built on a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe. Speaking of the intellectual cesspool that is the Religious Right. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Walter Russell Mead and the “Fretting” Realists — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison on Obama's likely cabinet changes. [A]voiding groupthink and excessive uniformity [in the Cabinet] would be desirable no matter what the prevailing view happened to be. While quite true and to the point, this is an odd comment, to say the least, coming from a conservative. The Republican collection of intellectual and policy litmus tests, and their ferocious punishment of any of their own who stray, make the old bugaboo of "political correctness" look like a playground game. Thanks to figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist, as well the eternal pandering to their deeply irrational and paranoid base, the GOP is about nothing if not about groupthink and uniformity.

?otD: Are you alarmed now? Shouldn't you be?

Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (2,600 words to finish "Rock of Ages" in first draft)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (30 minutes on stationary bike)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid)
Weight: 219.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block shutting down Evangelical churches and closing gun shops: 0
Currently reading: Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold


[dreams] Organ Pockets

Saturday night, I dreamt I'd started a novelty toy line called "Organ Pockets". Basically, I was selling 1:1 replicas of human organs in either plushie form or as foam rubber, and each came in a tailored pocket with zipper and snaps, where the pocket was available in leather, latex or various flannels. One of my production challenges was that human organs to scale have a rather wide size range, from the vast and ropy intestines to the tiny little gall bladder.

The weird part is, I suspect somebody could actually make money doing this.


[personal|cancer] Why I write about cancer so much

Recently, in various online venues, I have been characterized both as oversharing and as being overly dramatic with respect to my cancer blogging. (No links, I don't want to embarrass anyone.) Beyond the cancer, I'm pretty sure I don't overshare otherwise, unless you happen to find my political opinions inappropriately strong or ill-expressed. If that is the case, I invite you not to read them. (I do [tag] my post titles for a reason.)

I have a very specific purpose in talking about cancer as openly and plainly as I do. That is to be as honest as possible about the long-term journey of being a cancer patient, without sparing any of the details. That includes the deeply personal, the downright embarrassing, the silly, and the icky. Stuff that's particularly TMI I try to remember to put under a cut so that, for example, my digestive and sexual dysfunctions don't just spill across people's desktops.

But guess what? Depression, fear, anger, terrible bowel problems and all the rest are part of cancer and its treatments. More to the point, they're a part of cancer a lot of people are very uncomfortable talking about. Including, in my experience, clinical practitioners in the field. For example, to date, four and half years in, I've met exactly one oncology professional who was prepared to have a frank and honest conversation about sexuality with me. That's after seeing eight different oncologists and about as many oncology nurse practitioners so far.

So in addition to the clinical stuff, I talk about the icky stuff. About the wretched cramps and the violent bowel movements and inability to reach or maintain an erection. Just like I talk about the depression and the fear and the social attenuation. Because this is what happens when you struggle with cancer over time. I put out a lot of clinical information about myself as well, mostly as a reference point and to provide context.

Who am I trying to reach with all this?
  • Anyone who has cancer.

  • Anyone who knows or loves someone with cancer.

  • Anyone caring for someone with cancer.

  • Anyone treating someone with cancer in any clinical capacity.

  • Anyone writing about cancer (fiction or non-fiction).

For some readers, this is oversharing. Well, ok. Read my writing posts and skip past my cancer posts if that's better for you. Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't care what you think about these cancer posts. Those posts on this blog are first and foremost for me, and as a close second, for the people who can benefit from them. Talking about my experience in exhaustive detail helps me cope. It also offers insight to people who sometimes desperately need that insight, or the words that come with that needed insight. This isn't my ego or my imagination talking, I know from the sometimes wrenching e-mails that I receive how much these words help some folks.

Is it well-socialized or polite to talk about this stuff? Hell no. Can it even be triggery for some people? Hell yes. But cancer isn't well-socialized or polite, and doesn't care if it's triggery. One of the very few positive things I can wring out of this miserable experience is using my skill at words to characterize the situation so that others can better understand. Oversharing, yeah sure. But it beats the hell out of shamed silence.

Welcome to cancer, one of the uglier corners of life.

As for being overly dramatic, see above. I'm talking about my experience. Sometimes my experience is dramatic — not in the sense of me being a drama queen and pitching a fit in a passive-aggressive bid for support, but in the sense of fearing for my life in a literal and immediate way. To the extent that I can do so while trapped inside, I document my emotional experiences as well and carefully as I document my medical experiences. Cancer isn't Interesting Soap Opera disease where one becomes artfully pale and acquires special dying person wisdom to dispense to one's family and friends before passing gracefully. Cancer is dirty and messy and ugly and crazy-making, a thief of body and soul. I talk about my sense of alarm just like I talk about my moments of acceptance.

It's my experience, damn it.

Besides which, cancer isn't trivial. It's the second leading cause of death in the United States (after heart disease), and something between a third and a half of people who are diagnosed with cancer every year will die of it as a result. It's not dramatic to be freaked out about having cancer, it's normal.

So follow along or not as it pleases you. I'll think no more or less of you either way. But grant me the integrity of my own experience and my right to document it regardless of your approval.