You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for April, 2005.

What would Jesus do?

April 29th, 2005

I’ve been working on a post about the political obligations of liberal and progressive Christians for a while, but I just can’t get it right. I can’t say what I want to say. Lucky for me, Gary Vance did get it right. This was written back in October 2004 in the context of the last election, but it is even more relevant today:

Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history…. He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies. He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive, and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.

Liberalism isn’t a dirty word. It was part of the Word and should be trumpeted by lefty religious folk loudly. The right doesn’t own Christianity, and it doesn’t own Jesus.

I am glad that conservative Republican candidates advocate for the family and a few Christian issues, but we must quit pretending that they are the only ones that Christians should consider voting for. People should not call themselves pro-life if they are only anti-abortion and yet feel no twinge of conscience over the unfair application of capital punishment or wars fought for dubious motives. A true pro-life position cares just as passionately for the born as the un-born and views war as a last resort when all other options are exhausted.

Christians should look for candidates that will work for issues that are of importance to Christ and that can be tackled legislatively…. Issues such as eliminating poverty and homelessness in America, true equal rights for all citizens, environmental protection, a fair minimum wage, affordable health care, and lowering our infant mortality rate….

I have some questions for the Christian Right. Why have you not held our current elected majority officials accountable for their failure to address the full spectrum of Christian issues? Why would you vote for them again?

Why, indeed [Link via Holy Weblog!].

The evil of aspartame

April 28th, 2005

I was once a diet coke fiend. I drank it with breakfast, with lunch, with dinner, and all day in between meals. In college, I found out that I was slightly lactose intolerant, and my school’s cafeteria didn’t offer much else to drink, so I drank soda.

After about 3 years of heavy diet coke consumption, I began to get hard core tension headaches. This was about 11 years ago. These headaches are at the base of my skull, right where my neck ends and my head starts. When I have one of these headaches, I get painful, but soft, lumpy knots right at that spot — about the size of gumballs. Kneading or rubbing these knots sometimes helps, but only until I stop kneading. Pushing my forehead against something, like a wall or someone’s hands, also helped the pain go away briefly. The pain is indescribable — it’s like something sharp driving into the back of my neck, pinching my brain and sapping my energy. The only thing that makes the headaches go away is two ibuprofen and a nap, and after that I usually feel hungover.

At first I would get one of these headaches once a month or so. As of about 7 years ago, I got them about 3-4 times per month. Two years ago, I was getting 3-4 per week, and they started outlasting my ibuprofen — I’d have to take the ibu 2 or 3 times before the headache would go away completely. I was popping ibuprofen like vitamins.

I saw several doctors about these headaches. They were universally unimpressed, and usually handed me a prescription for some painkillers or muscle relaxants and sent me on my way. I asked about diet or other possible triggers, and was told that those were usually only related to migraines, and I wasn’t having migraines, so it must be a muscle problem. When I asked about exercises or stretches I could do to shore up those muscles, most doctors shrugged and said they didn’t know of any. A few handed me a poorly photocopied sheet with indecipherable drawings of a man in shorts standing in odd poses. I never did figure out how to do any of those exercises.

I came to accept these headaches as my fate — as just a part of being me. I missed work, meetings, dates, movies, lunches, parties and other events because of them. I yelled at people because of them. I gave up on trying to understand or control them. I kept ibuprofen everywhere — at home, in my car, at work, in my purse, in my desk. I was never, ever without it.

The headaches were sometimes triggered by stress, but not always. During my wedding festivities, a friend of mine served as my “ibu bearer” — she handed me two ibuprofen every 4 hours and I swallowed them. I didn’t want my wedding spoiled by a headache. But I got a killer headache anyway, one that woke me up crying the night before the ceremony. That same friend was nice enough to knead the knots for me until I fell back asleep.

About 2 years ago, I decided to give up diet coke. This wasn’t about the headaches — it was about the sodium, the chemicals and the cost. I didn’t like that I was so dependent on such an unnatural thing, and that I had to buy it, and that it was so full of salt. I didn’t want to give up caffeine, so I started drinking tea instead.

After about 6 weeks without diet coke, I got a headache. And as I downed my ibus, I realized that I hadn’t had a headache since I gave up coke. I did some research about aspartame (nutrisweet) and headaches, and while the link between the two is scientifically unproven, I found enough anecdotal evidence to convince me that most of my headaches were probably triggered by aspartame sensitivity.

I still get those headaches occasionally, but I’m down to 5-6 per year, and they are usually triggered by aspartame that I unknowingly eat — in dessert at someone else’s house, for example. I’m really glad to have these headaches under control — but I’m also really, really pissed at all the doctors who handed me a prescription and moved on to their next patient. I endured 10 years of pain that could have been eliminated if someone had paid a bit of attention. I’m pissed about all the lost moments of my life, the movies I didn’t see, the parties I didn’t go to, the fun I didn’t have, the people I didn’t talk to. I’m pissed that I didn’t take control of things sooner and try to find out for myself what was causing the headaches. I’m just plain pissed about the whole experience.

What’s different for me now? I have a different approach to doctors and medicine now, I’m more active in my dealings with them — it’s my health we are working on, after all! And these days, when I decide to not go somewhere it’s because I want to stay home, not because blinding pain prevents me from leaving the house. I’m a lot happier, and I’m sure I’m easier to live with. I also really like tea.

Baseball!

April 27th, 2005

I just discovered, via Now This, that the DC area has a minor league baseball team (single A), called the Potomac Nationals. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I do love minor league baseball. I’m really looking forward to seeing the P-Nats sometime soon!

Feeling better

April 27th, 2005

I’m finally feeling better. Yay me! Just yesterday I started to get my sense of taste back, so look forward to some tea notes here soon. I have a few greens and one white that I have been wanting to try, but I wanted to be able to taste them when I tried them, so I delayed. I’m also impatiently waiting for a few samples of the new 2005 first flush harvests to arrive. So look forward to some tea notes soon.

Poor me

April 20th, 2005

Ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis. That’s what I have right now. None of it is contageous, all of it sucks.

What I like

April 18th, 2005

At a book group meeting Saturday night, I was asked to name a book that I like. To my shame, I couldn’t come up with one (I am somewhat notoriously critical). So here’s a short list of books I like:

Non-Fiction
Mary and Elizabeth, by Jane Dunn
The Little Ice Age*, by Brian Fagen
The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford

Fiction
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
I, Tituba*, by Maryse Conde
Esperanza’s Box of Saints*, by Maria Amparo Escandon
The Salt Roads, by Nalo Hopkinson
Midaq Alley*, by Naguib Mahfouz
The Intuitionist*, by Colson Whitehead

The asterisks note links to my comments about the book. Other links are to Amazon.com.

Gas?

April 15th, 2005

We watched Sideways last night. I quite enjoyed it. This may qualify as the most inane comment ever made about the movie, but here goes: Toward the end of the movie, the two guys stop for gas before heading home, and the price on the station sign is $1.71. I was shocked — it is starting to feel like gas has been over $2 forever!

No taste

April 15th, 2005

I’ve had a bad cold or allergy thing going on all week — I’ve missed about 1-1/2 days of work as a result. The only thing that makes me feel better is tea — it warms my chest, eases my cough and soothes my throat. But I can’t taste it. At all! It might as well be hot water.

So I’m taking the opportunity to drink up all the teas I don’t like — mostly flavored teas like the samples of rose petal tea, ginger pieces tea, vanilla monk’s blend, pumpkin pie spice tea that I have left from the tea swap. Right now, I’m drinking them all mixed together — monk’s pumpkin ginger rose vanilla pie tea anyone? I can’t believe that I can’t taste such a vile concoction. But it does make me feel better.

Pollen nation

April 12th, 2005

Check out the pollen levels in Washington, DC today. No wonder I can’t taste my tea this morning — my sinuses are all irritated from the particulate (I’m not allergic, but that many particles in the air will bother even the non-allergic). Here I was thinking I had made it incorrectly.

Science matters

April 12th, 2005

Today is the 50th anniversary of the formal announcement of the successful polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk and a team of researchers.

When I was a teenager, one of my parents’ friends walked with the assistance of crutches. She was a tall, imposing woman, and as she walked she lurched a bit. I came to understand that she had had polio as a child that left her legs partially paralyzed. I did a bit of reading in an encyclopedia in the library, and I learned about polio and about the vaccine. I tried to imagine how scary it would be to have my school closed due to a polio outbreak, or to one day wake up and be unable to use my legs. The vaccine must have seemed like a miracle to people who had lived with that kind of fear. A miracle of science.

Given the anti-science rhetoric and actions of our current government, the story of the polio vaccine is useful reminder of why science matters. Science has created the world we live in today — a world of synthetic clothing, consumer electronics, smart bombs, and, importantly, the polio vaccine. My parents never had to fear that I might suddenly become paralyzed like their friend.