Change your pillow to improve your poop

Bed of Nails Pillow

I don’t know. It honestly looks pretty comfy. I think it might actually help the muscles in my neck and shoulders, which are usually tensed so tight that they feel like rocks.

But here, along with a pillow that may or may not be comfy, is an interesting example of things you, as a skeptical consumer, ought to be on the lookout for.

Bed of nails may; improve circulation; increase energy level; relieve chronic neck and back pain; reduce stress & anxitey; improve sleep & relieve insomnia; improve skin complexion; relieve constipation; cellulite treatment; revitalizing and rejuvenating

Wow. All that? Well, no, there is likely no basis at all for these claims. If you’re looking for a cure for constipation, a pillow is unlikely to be any help. Maybe try eating a bit of fiber instead.

So many products these days claim to cure everything from hangnails to acne to constipation* even when there’s no plausible mechanism behind the claims, let alone any actual evidence that they do so. Since, in many ways, the US still allows snake-oil manufacturers to claim whatever they want under the guise of providing complementary and alternative ‘medicine’, it behooves every consumer to be aware of the stupid claims so they can save their money for safe and effective treatments.

*I don’t understand why CAM proponents seem to be so focused on intestines and feces. Orac wrote about it here and he’s the expert.

The difficulties of *isms in an professional environment

At my current job, there are many racist people. There are many sexist people. Homophobia is almost ubiquitous. These are people who have been at the company for 20 years and those that started 6 months ago. They say things like “Stupid girls”, “dumb bitches” or “East asian males are all slobby, inconsiderate, and ignorant.” They make fun of foreign names and men who are slightly feminine in their demeanor. Unfortunately, they are all people who I have to work with if I wish to stay employed.

I’d like to think that HR would do something about it if I brought it to their attention, but the sad truth is that they are there to protect the company from lawsuits not to protect the employees from harassment. In reality, the perpetrator would probably end up with a reprimand in their permanent file and I’d end up with a note about being a trouble-maker in mine and, come lay-off time, we’d both probably be among the first out the door. In the meanwhile, however, I’d still have to try to do my job with the whole department less willing to speak to me or work with me.

So how should I deal with this as a low-level wage slave with no support from anyone in power? I am ashamed to admit I was terrified the first few times I encountered these attitudes and just froze in shock. But, since I’m me, I can’t be happy just listening to this dross and not fighting back. I can’t go through official channels without risking becoming homeless, so what do I do?

I’m not sure how wise it is, but I’ve been trying out sarcasm and mockery along with gentle reproach depending on the situation. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into a rant about how stupid women were and spent the rest of the day pretending I was really stupid to annoy the ranter. He’d say something to me about X and I’d just say “What? What’s X?” When he got really angry at me, I said “Well you already think all women are stupid, so what’s the point of trying to be intelligent when you’re around?” I don’t know how effective it was, but I haven’t heard him ranting since.

If I overhear someone unfairly complaining about someone not fitting into some mold that they are unfairly trying to shove someone into, I usually just say “He’s a good engineer and I like him.” The response is usually along the lines of “Well yes, but he’s so effeminate” Then I can say “So what? He’s a good engineer and a good person.” I live in such a backward place that this usually means they’ve never thought up a response to this and don’t say any more on the subject.

Does anyone else have any other ideas?

Evils of Religion: 17 December 2011

Many things have been done to keep people considered unworthy by religion ignorant and powerless. Everything from killing people who translated the bible into the local common tongue to attacking girls who dare to enlist in school with acid.

Here’s another vile thing: Man cuts off most of his wife’s right hand because she wants to go to school. The victim, Hawa Akther Jui, is learning to write with her left hand.

Christopher Hitchens

He’ll be missed.

I’m sad that he’s gone, but happy he was here while he was. We are left better for his life. When I agreed with him it was like hearing the melody of my thoughts written into a symphony. When I disagreed, it made me think long and hard about why and work to wrap words around my reasons. His strength in living and dying was admirable and something I strive toward.

If I could, I’d buy someone who could enjoy it a whiskey in his honor.

I hope I can be well enough to fight like he did, though I’ll never be as erudite.

Thanks, Hitch. We’ll take it from here.

Evils of Religion: December 15 2011

What is it about religion that makes people value clumps of cells more than a fully grown woman?

It’s been a bad year for women’s bodily autonomy

I’ve often wondered, if I hooked myself up to a pro-lifer physically in such a way that it would kill me if they broke the connection, what would they do? Go around for the rest of their life tied to me? Or would they think it would be ok to kill me? I’m so much more than I was as a fetus.

There’s not anything in the bible about abortion. I often wonder where they get it from, too.