The word “fuck” primarily means to engage in sexual intercourse and predates the modern abbreviation “sex”, which originally referred to what we now call “gender” and don’t get me started on what gender used to mean or we’ll be at this all day. “Fuck” is only a dirty word because people use it as a profanity, and it has come to be used as a profanity because people are uncomfortable talking about fucking. If you don’t like people referring to a divine union of bodies with impolite language, then stop interpreting the correct English word for the act as a profane word. I don’t mean to be harsh about this, but it is people taking offense to the correct usage of English words which has crippled our language and made every other word a euphemism for a body part or something people may do with it and robs us of the ability to talk frankly about the issue at hand. Fear of fucking has made our entire language about fucking.

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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in Uncategorized



naseema_apple_jul_06“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.”
-Sir Winston Churchill

Having suffered at mouths of overly verbose lecturers who seem to believe the information will sink in more effectively if the words are large, obscure and all delivered at a similar frequency, I have been confused by other’s use of language and do not like to inflict the same abuse upon people. I consider myself to have a relatively large vocabulary but I’ve found that the right word is more often than not one of about five hundred or so that cover the majority of needs
I teach first aid. I’ve found that in every single instance “High Blood Sugar” is more memorable than “Hypoglycemia”, “grinding popping bone sounds” more descriptive than “Crepitus” (though I do love that word), and “Can’t Breathe” more immediately understandable than “Asphyxiation”. Some of my smarter students have worked out that every instance of medical jargon in my course is an indicator that it will be in the exam. I wouldn’t use it at all if not for that…. Except “crepitus” though. That word is cool.

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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


About Vaccines

The non-antibiotic part of the immune system really is incredible. The stomach to blood barrier is so effective that in a healthy and uninjured person, ingesting infected bodily fluids even the HIV virus which is infamous for tricking the immune system will be destroyed long before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream.

The flu virus actually bypasses that as its primary point of infection is through the eyes and directly into the bloodstream. A lot of other viruses travel through the same pathway and no amount or diet and lifestyle choices can protect us from having airborne viruses in our bloodstream (short of wearing goggles any time we leave the house).

The blood based immune system also has some incredible tricks up its sleeve. The blood itself (well, the white bits in the blood) will attack anything that shouldn’t be there and there are things the body does such as expelling contaminated mucus and elevating body temperature to become inhospitable to heat sensitive microorganisms. Sometimes the immune system is a bit too focussed on killing the infection and will accidentally kill the patient too which is still good for the species as a whole because the virus can’t spread as far… at least that was the case before air travel and densely packed cities.

The thing is, the human immune system works faster when it has encountered something before. A virus that we’ve had and survived we will never have again, and if we do encounter a mutated form of the virus, our body is only a few short steps from creating the antidote. Being exposed to a range of dead virus cells from the particularly nasty varieties at a young age gives the body a chance to learn a few basic tricks for fighting them, and if it does encounter something similar but mutated, the symptoms are reduced and so is the recovery time.

As long as we keep immunising kids, the really nasty viruses can’t gain enough of a foothold to mutate into something our body can’t manage. Some of them will continue to spread because of high mutation rates, but the symptoms will be reduced. It is a clever way of teaching kids’ bodies how to fight off particular types of infection for the rest of their lives. It bypasses the skin and stomach wall guards because that’s what viruses that actually cause infection do.

There is the concern of heavy metals in an immunisation. A single vaccination shot contains around 25 micrograms of a mercury based anti-pathogen (Thimerosal) to protect the vaccine from contamination by harmful bacteria. To put this into perspective, this is more mercury than a single tuna sandwich but less than the build up of mercury from a tuna sandwich in the lunchbox once a week for a year. You’d be exposed to greater quantities of heavy metals by drinking two litres of tap water per day over the same duration. The benefit of this additive is that it prevents dangerous pathogens from entering the bloodstream with the dead virus cells and reduces the likelihood of the injection causing an infection.

We have an amazing immune system. Vaccines don’t bypass the system. They strengthen it.

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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Medical


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Why Save an Endangered Species?

Protecting endangered species is important to maintain biodiversity in an increasingly unstable environment. We don’t know what the future holds or where our next medicine will come from and every unique adaptive genetic pattern may hold unforeseen importance. It is important to protect keystone species which are foundational to ecosystem balance. Natural selection has its place, but when humans are wiping out mass quantities of biodiversity and the only reliable survival trait any species has is how effectively it can survive on human waste, a lot of potentially valuable genetic coding is being lost. To the best of our ability, we should attempt to protect the existence of all endangered species because we do not yet fully understand every interaction a single species has on its surroundings of the potentially irreparable damage the the ecosystem which could be caused by the removal of any one species. When it is not possible to save all endangered species, a decision must be made to focus on protecting the important species which are known to be crucial aspects of the ecosystem of which we are also a part. 

For example, if sea acidity continues to increase, it will reach a level high enough to wipe out all sea algae at once. When this happens we will lose half of the oxygen producing plant life on the planet and large mammals such as humans will disappear shortly after. Sea algae is therefore a keystone species which should be protected if we value our own continued existence.

Cute and colourful rare birds probably don’t fit into that category. The Orange-bellied Parrot isn’t even a particularly well known Australian iconic animal. The main thing it has going for it is that it is pretty, and I’d like to live in a world where we don’t just let all the beautiful things die just because they aren’t profitable.

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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Health Insurance

health-insuranceI just got a letter from my health insurer informing me that my monthly premiums are going up and no longer cover gastric band procedures. Looks like I’ll have to leave that seventh box of tim tams in the cupboard then.

The good news is they have a service where doctors will come to your home outside of normal working hours. I think they are planning to call it “house calls” and it is available to people who live within an ever expanding range of postcodes. Hang on. I DO live in an ever expanding range of postcodes.

They are also telling me that my extra $10 a month will go toward their global network of over 50,000 specialists. I’m not sure how many of them will fit in my house and I hope I’m not expected to make them all tea.

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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


Sodomy or Hospitality

tent-flaps-eveningFor the original readers, Sodom and Gomorrah was a story about hospitality and treating travelers properly.

Immediately before they go to Sodom, God’s spies pass Abraham’s tent which he keeps all the flaps up on so he can sit in the shade while scouring the 360 degree horizon for weary travelers. When he sees them he runs out, drags them back to his drafty home, brushes the sand off some food he had out when a sandstorm hit his unprotected tent, and is generally a lovely host.

Shift to Sodom and again there is a good host who meets the strangers in the town square and takes them in. When a mob of locals shows up wanting to rape the outsiders and put them in offshore processing facilities, Lot protects his guests to the extent that he is even prepared to offer up the virginity of his two daughters. By the cultural understanding of the intended audience, this would actually be a lot worse than a gang rape. The girls would consent because it is what their father told them to do, but it would destroy any prospects of respectable marriage and long term security after Lot’s death. Basically, Lot would rather end his own family line than allow harm to come to his visitors.

A lot of Christians think that the story of Sodom is about God punishing people for bumming. I’d say those people have an unhealthy anal fixation. The story is about hospitality. The fate of the daughters is meant to sound horrific. It is there as an exemplar of how far a good host will go for his guests.

This story is about how a town or country treats travelers who arrive in their lands unannounced and uninvited. Do they invite them in and share what they have or do they say “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” and imprison them if they don’t arrive in the correct manner?

There is a moral in this story, but it isn’t “God hate teh gayz”.

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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Political, Religious, sexuality


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On the topic of Destroying the Institution of Heterosexual Marriage


An argument I frequently hear against marriage equality is that marriage exists primarily as a heterosexual institution for the purpose procreation. This usually comes up after I’ve pointed out that marriage in its current form is relatively new and there are a lot of differences between modern marriage and traditional marriage already.

Marriage seems to be generally accepted by both sides of the discussion as a union between consenting equals. As such, it is not a millennia old institution but a modern interpretation and would not involve pets, children, or inanimate objects. Slippery slope arguments which suggest otherwise really are quite dismissible. For the sake of conclusiveness, those and other arguments are addressed here.

Earlier interpretations of the definition of marriage in the West including adults marrying 12 year olds as late as the mid 1800s’ when special interest groups pressured the government to establish a minimum age of consent. Go back further and it was common and acceptable for wealthy men to take several wives. The definition of marriage has changed many times and contrary to popular belief, the majority of human history did not define marriage as between one man and one woman for life.

Marriage has been redefined constantly throughout history. The institution which our ancestors called marriage would be considered appalling to most conservatives these days, as will this current debate appear to future generations.

Before the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, Roman and Greek same-sex unions were common with as much range of ceremony as formal and informal marriages of the time.


As an aside, there most certainly were marriages which existed primarily for the purpose of producing offspring. The point I am wanting to make in this post is that the idea that marriage exists for more than procreation is not new.

Marriage became an exclusively heterosexual privilege in the West in 342 AD when the Christian emperors of Rome abolished same sex marriage and ordered all such married couples to be executed. The Canon of Same-Sex Union came much later and while being a church ceremony uniting two members of the same sex for life at the exclusion of all others, it avoids any suggestion of becoming one flesh and refers primarily to a spiritual union.  Stories from the Song Dynasty show that same-sex, marriage-like relationships are not limited to Europe. There is strong evidence that same-sex marriage was common across Mesopotamia in pre-Christian times.

So no, marriage is not exclusively symbolic of an inherently reproductive relationship. Adding same-sex couplings to the institution can no more destroy the institution than removing same-sex coupling from the institution could have destroyed it when that change occurred. The only thing which is destroyed by allowing marriage equality in a modern context is the heterosexual privilege which was established in the West during the waning days of the Roman Empire. It is heterosexual privilege which is the aberration in modern marriage, not the threat of removing it.

On the topic of Destroying the Institution of Heterosexual Marriage

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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Uncategorized