Daily Archives: November 12, 2012

What do people with chronic illness need…

… from you, as a friend or relative? Or, more exactly, what kinds of often well meaning things do you say or do for someone with chronic illness that are actually hurting and not helping?

I have a good friend who, like many other friends actually, has a chronic illness that is sometimes painful, sometimes scary, sometimes annoying, and at any given time, I think, is one or more of those things, and she has written a blog post listing over a dozen things that people often do or say that she wishes they wouldn’t. Most of these are really simple things, often unintentional, but not without consequence. Some of these, I think, are things people do because they are talking to themselves or about themselves rather than to the person their mouth is pointed at while exuding noise (which is what most humans do most of the time anyway). Or, they are extolling a belief or two that they need everyone else to hear even if it is irrelevant at best, likely very wrong, and just plain harmful in some cases.

Now, as soon as I read this post by my friend I immediately emailed her and said “I’M SO SORRY I DID ALL THOSE THINGS, HOLY CRAP, SORRY” but it turns out that that I was cool. But, honestly, it is easy to see how some items on her list would be so easy to do by accident (and one would naturally be forgiven), which is why you need to read this post. Even if you think you are doing this right, you may well be accidentally doing it wrong.

Have a look at Let’s Talk About Chronic Illnesses! by Sarah Moglia.

Explaining Republicans

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what the Republican party and its members were up to this election year. Racial slurs and lynching chairs, being mean to recent immigrants, and voter suppression directed at minorities could hot have helped to get the non-white vote in line for last Tuesday’s elections. A ramped up attack on women in general and their health care in particular could not have helped to get the none-male vote in line for last Tuesday’s election. And, importantly, white males in large numbers are annoyed at attacks on women and minority, so the Republican approach could not have helped get the white male vote in line for last Tuesday’s election. Then, we had Romney making everyone wait 2 hours for his concession while Karl Rove bloviating on Fox about how you can never tell who wins, and the apparent fact that the Republicans really thought they were doing well enough to win the White House and the Senate … all this together makes me wonder if there might be something wrong with their brains.

And then, when I was thinking that, I remembered that I forgot to add a particular book to my recent post on resources on Science Denialsm. So, I added it (go have a look) and also, I’m mentioning it here.

Chis Mooney’s The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality

…uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality—it’s just part of who they are.
From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won’t Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.

  • Goes beyond the standard claims about ignorance or corporate malfeasance to discover the real, scientific reasons why Republicans reject the widely accepted findings of mainstream science, economics, and history—as well as many undeniable policy facts (e.g., there were no “death panels” in the health care bill).
  • Explains that the political parties reflect personality traits and psychological needs—with Republicans more wedded to certainty, Democrats to novelty—and this is the root of our divide over reality.
  • Written by the author of The Republican War on Science, which was the first and still the most influential book to look at conservative rejection of scientific evidence. But the rejection of science is just the beginning…
  • Certain to spark discussion and debate, The Republican Brain also promises to add to the lengthy list of persuasive scientific findings that Republicans reject and deny.

    I, for one, welcome our new female overlords

    This is the year of the woman in the US Congress and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of some to make sure that the opposite happened.

    This is the year in which the Right Wing carried out the most anti-woman campaign ever since suffrage, or at least, so it would appear, along with a continued attack on non-hetero persons. A defining moment in this campaign occurred in February, when the Republican controlled House carried out a nearly comical hearing on women’s reproductive rights. Continue reading I, for one, welcome our new female overlords

    The Disappearance of the Rainforest of the Sea

    Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea by Kennedy Warne has been out for about a year, but if you’ve not seen it you may want to have a look at it. Warne, editor of New Zealand Geographic magazine, is a naturalist who writes about the embattled mangrove swamps, which are a key part of many oceanic ecosystems as well as local and regional economies.

    What’s the connection between a platter of jumbo shrimp at your local restaurant and murdered fishermen in Honduras, impoverished women in Ecuador, and disastrous hurricanes along America’s Gulf coast? Mangroves. Many people have never heard of these salt-water forests, but for those who depend on their riches, mangroves are indispensable. They are natural storm barriers, home to innumerable exotic creatures—from crabeating vipers to man-eating tigers—and provide food and livelihoods to millions of coastal dwellers. Now they are being destroyed to make way for shrimp farming and other coastal development. For those who stand in the way of these industries, the consequences can be deadly.

    In Let Them Eat Shrimp, Kennedy Warne takes readers into the muddy battle zone that is the mangrove forest. A tangle of snaking roots and twisted trunks, mangroves are often dismissed as foul wastelands. In fact, they are supermarkets of the sea, providing shellfish, crabs, honey, timber, and charcoal to coastal communities from Florida to South America to New Zealand. Generations have built their lives around mangroves and consider these swamps sacred.

    This is complicated. Mangrove habitats have a distinctive set of plants and animals and a typical set of ecological systems that reside in them, and are distributed around the world everywhere that is not too cold, where the continents meet the seas. But each region is different in the exact link to inland and oceanic system and the relationship between traditional human societies and natural resources. In addition, scientific, conservation, and political interests and stakeholders make up myriad stories of involvement. Warne deals with this diversity in Let Them Eat Shrimp by producing over a dozen separate essays chronicling his own investigations in disparate locations around the world, and in so doing weaves a rich tapestry made up of mud, funny looking trees, edible animals and the people who eat them, the natives, nations, scientists and other interested parties. Global warming, sea level rise, globalization of the food supply, indigenous rights, and numerous personal stories are all part of the weft and warp of this complex cloth. I’m actually thinking of using a few chapters of this book in an upcoming Anthropology class.

    I’m sure you’ve experienced this: You are at the grocery store, or in a restaurant, faced with a set of choices as to which vertebrate or invertebrate life form you will chose for your dinner. You left your handy dandy reference card that tells you which sea food to avoid, which sea food to eat, in order to do the least damage to the planet. You instinctively know that this is a rather complicated problem with many factors involved many of which you can’t even imagine. Read this book, then you can imagine, even know about, some of them!

    The question arises…What can we do to help reverse the mangrove decline? I suspect that our greatest contribution, as individuals and communities, is to be responsible consumers, aware that our economic choices ahve global consequences. We can demand that suppliers and purveyors demonstrate that the seafood we eat comes form sustainable sources, and we can vote with our palates and pockets if it doesn’t.

    Furthermore, we can insist that food be not just ecologically sound but socially fair–to the extent that fairness is possible in an unequal world. We can refuse to give our business to companies that are known to trade in the marginalization of the poor.

    Yeah, like that.