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Skeptical Gardener

I’m very happy in my new home. I’m especially happy with my large yard. I’ve already picked a small patch for gardening, and may try to weasel my way to expanding the borders if I can get the BF to cooperate with my plans. As spring planting time is nearly upon me, I’m gathering all my supplies. Reclaimed wood, containers, seeds, and information.

As I’ve been researching for things to plant, I’ve found that some are being claimed to have special properties. For instance, I’ve often heard it claimed that marigolds repel aphids and that nasturtiums repel rabbits. Such a thing is incredibly useful to gardeners, if true. And even if it isn’t true, there’s no harm in pretty flower borders decorating the veggie patch, is there?

Still, I would look very silly if I said to someone who knew better that this magic flower over there kept pests at bay, only to have him turn around and tell me that it’s doing no more to ward of pests than it is to ward of tigers. Just because the pest isn’t around doesn’t mean my plant actually put up an effective force field. Why did I think it would? Because someone told me?

When I first heard claims of pest-control plants, I was eager to accept it as truth. After all, I heard it from gardeners, people who have been working the land longer than I’ve been alive so I’d think they know a thing or two. It would certainly benefit me if the claims were, indeed, accurate. But just wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so, nor does hearing it from a perceived authority. This is something I gave little though until I considered another kind of plant use claim, on that I doubt, that being medicinal plants.

I’ve always found the effects certain plants are said to have for humans very interesting. Some flowers and herbs, I am told, have medicinal properties and can cure things like headaches and stomach upset, can promote healing, or can help you lose weight. I’ve even heard such lofty claims as this or that plant can prevent or cure cancer.

Do some plants really have the medicinal effects claimed? Maybe. I mean, it’s known that some plants can have an effect on animals. I mean, as an example right off the top of my head, the effects (medicinal and otherwise) of cannabis on humans are well known. And if I’m not mistaken, the developers of pharmaceutical have been known to look to plants, on occasion, in the development of new drugs. Plants can affect people as more than just a source of nutrition, and sometimes do so in some pretty strange ways.

I’m not questioning whether or not plants can possibly have medicinal uses. It’s whether or not the specific plants claimed really work as claimed, and whether or not they are really more effective and safer than commercial drugs. I’m not one to just believe whatever I’m told. Not without proof.

Sadly, I’m finding research on the matter a bit difficult. Actual scientific studies on such matters are hard to come by, and definitive conclusions harder still. Meanwhile, there remain so many claims out there, and it seems like more are sprouting up all the time as the “alternative medicine” movement gains steam online. It is therefore difficult for me to determine which claims are true, or at least plausible, and which are just “alternative medicine” hogwash. Honestly, I’m inclined to doubt “alternative medicine.” I doubt that any plant is medicinal until I can verify that it is.

It would be nice if I could grow my own personal pharmacy. However, until I can find proof that the herbs and flowers I’ve been told can do this or that really do as advertized, I will have the lingering and uncomfortable suspicion that I’d just be doing the gardening equivalent of superstitiously throwing salt over my shoulder, getting, at best, a placebo effect.

This doubt in herbal medicine makes me also wonder about the pest-control claims of companion plants. These claims too would be nice if true, but are they really? I don’t know.

This feels like an odd post to write because I’ve basically proposed a problem and then didn’t follow with a solution, making this post seem somewhat incomplete. The truth is, as of right now, I don’t have an answer.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam…

Update: Dr. Berger has assured me that he has nothing to do with the spam bots.

I recently checked my blog’s automatic spam filter. It seems a number of not spam comments were falsely flagged as such. They are now up. I apologize for the delay to those comment authors. But as I was checking my spam notices, I discovered something weird. I have a disproportionate amount of spam related to infertility, including IVF and tubal reversals, the latter of which specifically advertising one, Dr. Berger. Yeah, kind of barking up the entirely wrong bush on a childfree blog. What’s weird is a lot of these spam comments are on posts completely unrelated to my tubal ligation, or fertility, or childfreedom, or children. Weird! This was on my Sticky: WARNING! OPINIONS AHEAD! post. It contained no pictures and no mention of children. And yet:

Hi Julie,I found your blog via Wendy’s class. I’ll be in it also.Love your photos. Such an aalodbre little boy you have. You have so much good info on here. I’ll come back frequently to check it all out.-Carol

I’m not currently in any classes and I don’t know any Wendys. I’m no photographer, most of the pics on this site are from my phone or just taken from random sites. I certainly don’t have any children, let alone any boys. Imagi-Gary is not real. I can’t think of who she might be talking about, or what photo. WTF?! It gets weirder. This was on My Childfree Rules Re-Write: About Being Childfree. Anyone who read that would have no doubt about my childfree status, and yet this was posted, apparently to me (and not to anyone else.)

Congratulations on your beautiful bludne of joy and the relief of problems from your tubal ligation. I too have have so many problems of the same nature since my TL 13 yrs ago. I received my TR surgery on my birthday 4/28/2009 and turned 41. I did it due to having the same problems and to also be able to conceive again if possible. I am kind of skeptical due to my age, but I am very healthy otherwise. My husband was concerned due to my problems and is hoping I will be better than before. He is more excited now than he was before my TR surgery to be able to conceive. He is so anxious he can’t hardly wait for me to heal to try and conceive. We both have children from a previous marriage but none together. We believe it will be wonderful to have a child together and raise it together. Thank you for your encouragement.Annmarie M.Tennessee -Gina

My only “bundle of joy” would be my adorable dog, Molly. And I have had NO problems with my tubal ligation as “post tubal ligation syndrome” is likely not even real. I’m sure as hell not encouraging anyone to pollute this already horrendously overpopulated world with more children, especially when they already have some, and especially when their advanced age is likely to result in children with health problems, because such actions are selfish and stupid. On the note of not giving a crap about any Infertile-Myrtle’s non-problems of infertility, I got these two nonsense spam messages. Both of these were on Sterilized On World Population Day, which, as you might guess, was about how I finally triumphed in obtaining permanent sterilization, and just happened to do so on a day that serves to remind us of our growing overpopulation crisis.

I am so glad to see this post. I’m 45 yrs old and had my tubes tied (cauterized) 11 yrs ago after my third child was born. Same as Penni, the fertility cilnic I went to would not perform the reversal because of my age. IVF is apparently my only solution. I’ve gone through all the hormone test (FSH, sonohystogram, etc.) and I was told that there’s follicles we can work with.I have finally decided to go ahead with my original plan to have my tubes reversed. My current partner doesn’t have any children while I had 3 with my first marriage. I would really love to have another child and I hope that someday, I can have another one. I am planning my reversal for September of this year. -Austin

Weirdly, this comment was in response to Beth, who wrote:

Just wanted to say a very sincere thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences pre- and post-TL; honestly, several of your posts have been the most helpful things I’ve read so far. I’ve got a TL scheduled in a couple of days, and was doing a bunch of web surfing to try to make sure I have a thorough understanding of what it will be like and what (if anything) I need to worry about for afterward. I found it refreshing to read something that’s not borderline hysterical. :-) -Beth

Yeah, I don’t think Beth and Austin are on the same page here. Here’s another comment on the same post, evidently posted to me.

What an inspiration to read your story. I will be 46 in Sept. Had my fsh tsteed and it came back 2.9! Thats when I really beleived maybe my eggs werent to old yet -like all the other websites statistics and Dr. tell us they are at our age! Like many of you I already have 4 wonderful boys 26-11 yrs old and my fiance has none. I am torn between invtro and TR. I also want to experience getting pregnant the natural way not through invitro. Thanks for posting your story of encouragement for all of us. Many blessings and prayers to all!! -Auth

Not only is this, again, a story bout a happily childfree person joyfully obtaining a tubal ligation, and doing so on World Population Day, but his is also the blog of a borderline anti-natalist and outspoken atheist. Ok, now I start getting ads for Dr. Berger tubal reversal. Oddly, they don’t even seem to be on the post where I dismiss “post tubal ligation syndrome,” as little more than a medical myth, according to current medical research. This was on Sterilized On World Population Day.

I just finished the first and prlobaby last IVF treatment that resulted in 45 shots over 10 days, surgical retrieval of eggs, only 2 fair to poor embryos that were transplanted, and a negative pregnancy test. I was told because of my age 45 that IVF was my only true hope of having another baby (I have 3 children already and my husband has 1 from a prior marriage). My husband is 12 years younger than me and we both want children together. After getting a phone call today from my doctor on the heels of the bad news, she doesn’t think I should try again because of my age. While devastated at this news, I am taking heart and hope from the testimonies on this page that all will be well for us. We will get pregnant the old fashioned way after a little help from Dr. Berger and his team. It certainly should be a heck of a lot more fun than what I just went through. -Miranda

IVF, it’s selfish, stupid, narcissistic, wasteful, and disgusting. I hope it fails every time. Stop breeding more people into this overpopulated world and adopt if you really must have kids. And stop wasting medical resources so your narcissistic asses can have your genetic replicants. This was posted to me on the post, Kids and Soldiers, which is about soldiers in my company, including myself, volunteering to help out in child-related activities. The comment below has nothing at all to do with the content of the post.

I just want to thank Dr. Berger and staff for helping my couisn Pamela and her husband to having a baby. She tried for the longest time after she had the surgery to have a baby and had 2 miscarrages(sp) and then she got pregnant with Baby Jesus (aka Porky as we call him) he is the sweetest lil baby. Pamela and Jesus are the loving parents of this beautiful baby boy. I speak for the whole family when i say THANK YOU for helping them get pregnant and having this miracle baby. We are greatful for what you done for this family. To all the women that want to have babies beileve in Dr. Berger and his staff at Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center they will help you in anyway possible to make a miracle come true for you!!THANK YOU GUY!!!! -Sachin

This next one was posted on A Kid Visited My Home. Nothing Broke. I’m Not Surprised, which is a diary post, which is mostly about how I actually don’t hate kids, and how the stupid advice given in various child-proofing articles is completely unnecessary when parents actually parent. So, again, the comment has nothing to do with the post.

Dr. Berger, I am a 28 years old woman hoping for anohter chance to have anohter baby. I have two boys and they are 14 and 11 years old. I had my tubes tied when my youngest was 5 years old Now I am with someone that doesn’t have any kids he loves my kids and is very good to them, but I would like for us to have our own .he is a good guy and at the beginning I was afraid to tell him about my tubes tied, but god helped me and I told him ..he was sad but then we found your website and we are very excited about meeting you and hoping you could help us !!!

I am not Dr. Berger. If it were up to me, none of these idiots would get reversals. If they can’t be bothered to think through decisions like permanent sterilization, then they aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with children anyway. Think through your actions, bitches! Worst of all, these thoughtless idiots make obtaining sterilization harder to obtain for people who actually are responsible enough to think their actions through very carefully. So thanks a fucking lot, assholes. As for infertility, get the fuck over it. It is not a tragedy, or anything anyone “suffers” from. No one needs children, especially not in an overpopulated world. If infertility is someone’s biggest complaint, I’d like to congratulate them on having no real problems in life. If you really want kids, adopt.

Happy Holidays

Have a merry, happy, holly-jolly…


Huh. Seems I’m forgetting something…

Oh, yeah, now I remember, how silly of me!

Fuck you, American Family Association (why do hate-groups made up of Christians so frequently include “family” in their name?), you misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, ignorant, fundamentalist pricks!

 

10 Reasons Santa Is Better Than God

    1. Santa doesn’t care if you believe in him or not. He’s not that insecure.
    2. Santa rewards and punishes people based on their deeds, not whether or not they kissed his ass enough. (see #1.)
    3. Santa’s punishment is, at worst, coal. Santa never flooded the planet (Gen.7:21-22,) had pregnant women be ripped up and have their little ones dashed upon rocks (Hos.13:16,) and never threatened anyone with eternal torment in a fiery pit (Matthew 13:41-42.) Santa isn’t fucking psychotic.
    4. Santa’s reward for goodness is presents. Something practical that you can use. Something you can get every year. You don’t have to be dead to get it.
    5. Santa doesn’t want you to be good for him, or for the reward of presents, or for the fear of coal, but to “be good for goodness sake.”
    6. No one has ever killed, waged war, interfered with school curriculum, attacked science, or interfered with laws and government in Santa’s name.Nor has anyone used Santa as an excuse for bigotry against minority groups. You don’t see any “Santa hates fags” signs around, do you?
    7. None of Santa’s elves have ever gone rogue and waged war with the North Pole. Santa is a competent leader and keeps his people in line. Or maybe hanging with Santa is just better.
    8. Santa does not demand brutal human sacrifice on a cross. He’d just appreciate some milk and cookies. And maybe some carrots for the reindeer. Torture? He’ll pass.Oh, and he doesn’t want any of your money, either.
    9. NORAD tracks Santa every year. That’s just awesome.

      You can also get your picture taken with Santa in stores. God has yet to pose with me or my dog.

    10. Although neither god nor Santa are real, no one judges your character for not believing in Santa.

“Higher Things” Part One: Atheists Know God, Apparently.

I once thought that the Washington Post was a legitimate newspaper with actual journalists, integrity, and interest in facts. Evidently, I was wrong, as has been shown to me by the mere existence of an ongoing column, Higher Things, written by Vasko Kohlmayer, man so devoted to his religion that he has completely divorced himself from reality.

The column is pure fail right from the title of the very first article. “Atheist or agnostic: We all know God” … As I pried my hand away from where it had impacted my face, I could tell already that this was going to be painful.

After I managed to stop smacking my face with my palm every damned time I read that nonsensical title, I started to actually read the article. It’s just as illogical as the title would lead any rational person to expect. Hell, maybe it was even worse.

Kohlmayer starts with an anecdote, which was passed along to him from someone else (because those totally make for compelling evidence, right?) about someone he’s known who had back pain until he started talking to himself god. A 55 year old man with back pain? It must be because he was an atheist. Obviously his relief couldn’t have come from his body’s natural ability to heal over time, or from the help he received at the hospital, it must have been GAWD!

And, being someone who believes the bible, you know that the author took this story as truth. Not only did this actually happen (no need to verify anything like a journalist might, but god heals everyone who asks (never-mind how many Christians yet have persistent health problems). Moreover, that this atheist man knew that there was a god to reach to in time of need, therefore all atheists secretly believe in god, an assertion that is the main thrust of the article.

Hilariously, the author tries to claim personal experience. He claimed to have once been an atheist who knew there was a god, despite the meaning of the word “atheist.”  I always laugh when people try to claim to be former atheists. Maybe some exist, but for the most part the speaker is just misusing the word to refer to the time before they converted fully (or were “born-again”) to their particular religion. Yeah, not really the same thing.

To back of his point, he does what any theist does when they have no real evidence to support their assertions, he quotes the bible. Paul says that god can be clearly seen, therefore everyone secretly believes not only in god, but in this particular version of it. Oh, well, I’m convinced. If a character in a book said it (even a book that has zero credibility with me,) it must be true.

It’s difficult to make serious refutations when all a writer does is make nonsensical assertions, with only a fantasy book to back him up.  The only response that an unsupported claim deserves is “no.” Like the claim that god exists, the claim that atheists secretly believe in god is completely without merit. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Seriously, the argument for the existence of god, in this post, boils down to “babies, flowers, sunsets, therefore GAWD!” I’m not kidding. I wish I was being facetious here, but I’m not. He really thinks that people secretly believe in god when they see those things.

 Therefore 

Obviously, atheists and agnostics don’t believe in god. That’s what those fucking labels mean. I no more “know” that god exists than I “know” that leprechauns, unicorns, fairies, and elves do. Despite what this guy claims, I have never experienced god (no one has) even though I have tried very hard to while I searched desperately for an excuse to cling to the label “Christian” which had be foisted upon me by adults when I was a child. The assumption that I have had the “epiphany” of feeling god’s presence is pulled completely out of the authors own ass and has no basis in reality. He’s just making shit up.

I may as well say that the author secretly believes that the Wizards described in the Harry Potter books exist, simply because I do (as far as anyone knows, anyway,) and use the Harry Potter books themselves as evidence. Maybe I’ll even pass along a story from someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone who had a broken arm, who cast a healing spell on herself and was healed (but of course it took several weeks.) Ta-da, Kohlmayer secretly believes in wizards. And he calls atheists “self-deceived.”

I don’t secretly believe in your imaginary friend, jackass. Get over yourself.  (Seriously, this sort of self-serving bullshit reminds me of all the natalism-obsessed people who obnoxiously insist that I want to ruin my finances, body, and life by having babies like them.) This guy has to believe that we secretly believe in god to make himself feel validated. Facing the fact that some people really don’t buy the religious bullshit that he’s fallen prey to might cause him to question the rationality of his own beliefs, and he can’t have that.

All atheists and agnostics secretly believe in this author’s particular version of god. Why? Because Kohlmayer is so insecure that he needs to believe that this is the case. Maybe, deep down, he knows that there really is no god and he’s only wasted years of his life on this bullshit.

There’s more where this load came from.

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