White Salmon River

Another water post! But this time it’ll be a lot more lighthearted. Instead of talking about the fragile state of our planet’s water system, I’ve decided to talk about a white water rafting trip I took this weekend.

I love water. I love being around it, in it, you name it. I’ve always been into kayaking and rafting, but I’ve never taken a guided trip. My girlfriend’s sister recommended we try a tour on the White Salmon River, and I can honestly say it didn’t disappoint.

A little background. The White Salmon River is a 44 mile stretch of water that empties into the Columbia River. There used to be a damn up there, Condit Dam, but it was demolished in 2011. Part of the trip was a little history lesson, and we went right through where the dam used to be. You could still see the high water marks on the canyon walls, and holes in the rock where they blasted. Our guide was also very familiar with the geological history of the river and the Columbia Gorge in general, which was pretty cool. Oh, and there were Steelhead everywhere.

Now, for the trip. The launch site is up in Washington, right across the river from Hood River, OR. It took us about two hours to drive there from where I live in Portland. Very reasonable drive, and very scenic.

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The bridge from Hood River to Washington

Once we got the launch site, there was an orientation for all the newbies who weren’t used to being on the water. Then we all got to gear up. Each raft holds up to six people (not including the guide). In our party were: me, my girlfriend, my girlfriend’s sister and her boyfriend, and her sister’s boyfriend’s brother and his wife. Wow, what a convoluted chain of people. Anyway, here we all are, suited up and ready to depart:

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Yours truly is third from the right

As it turned out, it was the perfect day to be on the water. It was about 85 degrees out, and the water was about 40; it’s snow melt from Mt. Adams. Needless to say, being soaked felt nice in the heat. It was also perfect because the water level was low enough to allow us to run Husum Falls, which was what I was most looking forward to.

Husum falls is the largest commercially navigable falls in the US. It’s about a 10 foot vertical drop. That doesn’t sound like much, but in a rubber raft it’s monstrous. And a hell of a lot of fun. Luckily, part of the package was to have pictures taken as you went over the falls (For those souls not brave enough or not old enough to go over the falls there was the option to portage). I was lucky enough to be one of the people at the front of the raft (it was super awesome!). I’m the one on the front left of all these pictures.

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The approach
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Weeeee!
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Splash
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It was brisk, to say the least
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Nobody fell out! My girlfriend, Kelly, raising her fist in triumph. Or doing her best Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club” impression.

We were the first ones to make the run, so we got to chill out and watch everyone else behind us go over. It was pretty entertaining. Nobody else fell out either which is both wildly successful and not very entertaining. After Husum falls was Rattlesnake Run. Our guide had us all sit up at the front of the raft as we ran the rapids.

 

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This doesn’t seem so bad…
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Oh God, what have I done?!

And this time, someone fell out! My girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend took a tumble out of the raft on ol’ rattlesnake. It was hilarious.

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Bwahaha
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Nothing to see here, folks!

All in all it was a pretty epic day full of laughs and adventure. If any of my readers are in the Pacific Northwest or ever plan to visit, I highly recommend this trip.

Where’s the water?

I read something deeply disturbing to me the other day in a CNN article. You can read the story here. The disturbing part of that story isn’t that Trump and Clinton are virtually tied in Nevada. Well, actually, that is disturbing. But it isn’t the *most* disturbing part. No, the most disturbing part comes at the very end of the article, where it talks about the top three issues for Nevada voters.

  1. Jobs and the economy
  2. Terrorism and national security
  3. Supreme court picks

On the surface, these aren’t really very surprising. I’d guess that they reflect national concerns as well. But there’s something missing from this list that I would think that Nevadans would be particularly worried about.

Water.

In case nobody has ever been, Nevada is literally entirely desert. The whole state only receives 9″ of rainfall annually on average. For some perspective, my hometown of Portland, OR gets 39″ per year. That’s a pretty big difference. And it’s especially important given the fact that Nevada is running out of water.

Actually, a lot of states are running out of water, but you never really hear about it with the exception of the California drought. What’s amazing to me about California is that, although the plight of their water system and supply is reported on in the news, people don’t really seem to care. Which is really a shame, because, you know, you can’t live without water…

You’d think that California’s neighbor to the east would be paying very close attention to that situation. But alas, polls seem to indicate otherwise. But there’s something that Nevada can’t escape from: a dwindling water supply.

Lake Mead is created by the Hoover dam, and supplies most of Nevada (and several other states, including California) with water. The problem is that for the last 14 years, Lake Mead has been shrinking. In fact, according to one estimate, since the year 2000 the lake has lost 4 trillion gallons of water. That’s a metric shit ton of water. And it only gets worse.

As of writing this, the lake is currently projected to hit 1,079 feet at the end of December; federal guidelines call for a shortage at anything less than 1,075 feet. And there’s a 59% chance that the government will have to declare a shortage in 2018. The reservoir hasn’t been that low since 1937. Why are these levels a big deal? Because the water pumps sit at 1,000 feet–anything below that and the pumps won’t have anything to pump (AKA nobody gets water).

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A little before and after. Lake Mead hasn’t been filled to capacity since 1983.
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The white on that hill is where the water level used to be.

To be fair, Nevada has done a good job at enacting efforts to conserve water. Even though the population has grown, water consumption is down. But conservation only goes so far, because people watering lawns is only a tiny fraction of the problem. The biggest problem is that the planet is warming and drought is increasing, and flushing a toilet less isn’t going to stop that pattern.

The problem is actually twofold. First, an increasing population has a greater demand for water. Second, a warmer planet means less snowfall, and decreasing snow packs mean less run off, which means rivers and lakes receive less water. And this problem isn’t limited to the Southwestern United States. It’s global.

In fact, in 2015 the World Economic Forum declared the water crisis the world is experiencing to be the #1 risk to the globe based on impact the society. Think about all the clean water does.

Obviously you need water to drink. But we also need it for sanitation. And for agriculture. No water, no food. No modern sewer system. Industry relies upon water, too. You can’t have life and you can’t have an economy without water. Let’s take one of those examples, agriculture, and look at it further.

It takes 1,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of wheat. It takes 1,400 liters to produce the same amount of rice. And it takes a whopping 13,000 liters to produce 1 kg of beef. In Nevada, agriculture consumes 80% of the water supply. In point of fact, the USGS estimates that 38% of freshwater withdrawal in 2010 was due to agriculture, but that agriculture accounts for 80%-90% of consumptive water use. You can read the report here.

There are certainly things we can do to help mitigate things. Better irrigation systems. Growing less water-intensive crops. Simply growing less. We currently produce more than we consume and export, which is a huge waste. But the problem won’t be solved until we address climate change, since that’s the biggest contributing factor to the problem, and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on and we continue to burn fossil fuels.

Which is why it’s so disheartening for me to see that in our political system, the link between the environment and the economy and jobs and security is either ignored, downplayed, or outright denied. It’s preposterous to me that people who are actively experiencing drought that will significantly impact their lives for potentially generations to come care more about who gets to pick supreme court justices. And I know conservatives get a lot of flack for being science deniers, but the left has their share of it too, especially when it comes to this issue. I was very dismayed to hear Bernie and Jill Stein talk about the evils of GMO foods. Not only is their no evidence that they’re harmful, but genetically engineering crops to use less water is going to be a very important part of future conservation strategies.

Ultimately, though, I’m waiting for a candidate to really spell it out for the people: all of the petty political things we argue about mean diddly squat if the environment collapses. Some politicians kind of dance around that or pay good lip service to the environment on the campaign trail, but inevitably the conversation returns to creating jobs and ISIS. There is no economy without water. There is no life without water. Who gets to pick supreme court judges is important, but not because of abortion or trade deals or gay marriage; it’s important because of who gets to rule on future cases involving conservation and the environment. And at the same time, realize that taking action on the climate *is* taking action of the economy, and jobs, and national security. They’re all tied together.

 

The media is the problem

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that the media does a real disservice to American society in terms of our elections. I’d go so far as to say that next to money in politics, the media is the most damaging thing to our electoral and political processes.

This all started because of something that happened on Facebook. An acquaintance of mine who’s very pro-Hillary posted something about how scary it is that Jill Stein is “Anti-vaccine.” The post came with an article, which I read. In the article, Stein says nothing about vaccines being evil. What she said was that people have “A lot of questions about vaccines.” That’s definitely true. People do indeed have a lot of questions. Some of those questions are either stupid or unwarranted, but they’re questions nonetheless. What she said specifically about vaccines is that she has a problem with the FDA being so closely tied to the medical industry. The words straight from the candidate’s own mouth:

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In reality, there is no anti-vaccine controversy here because Stein isn’t anti-vaccine. The next criticism is, well, that just plays into the conspiracy that Big Pharma really controls everything.

While that might be true, it’s also true that Stein’s position is all about social responsibility, and that extends to corporations. But being anti-corporate isn’t the same thing as being anti-vaccine, and it isn’t even the same thing as confirming or suggesting that the government and drug companies know that vaccines are bad and conspire together. But that fact is lost on the media, which only cares about ratings and clicks.

I considered unfollowing (not un-friending) this person on Facebook, but then I realized that she wasn’t the problem. It seemed like everything I was following in social media had something to say about politics. Even pages that have absolutely nothing to do with political issues seemed to throw their two cents in. So I made the step to give up social media until the election is over. After November, I’ll re-evaluate and determine if it’s worth going back.

But the experience made me realize just how detrimental the media is to our national political discourse. The media doesn’t report at all on Stein or Johnson, who in my mind are just as viable candidates as Trump or Clinton. But the media gets to control the narrative, to direct the conversation. And the direction they take the conversation frequently seems to be at odds with what would in my mind constitute a healthy political environment.

It used to be that the news just reported the objective facts. But we’ve all seen how over the decades, and especially in recent years, this has devolved into opinion and commentary as news. This devolution of course meant that things began to separate along party or ideological lines. Entities like Fox News and MSNBC cater exclusively to ideas that their viewers want to hear, not information that their viewers need to hear. And so we get conservative and liberal folks who live in bubbles where the facts that support the other side of the argument don’t exist, and everyone else is wrong. The echo chamber is created.

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Go fuck yourself with a broomstick 

And social media only reinforces the echo chamber. It gives everyone a chance to repeat the talking points and the headlines, and the more people who do that, the more something like “Jill Stein is Anti-Vaccine” becomes a fact in the minds of many people. It gives people like Glenn Beck a chance to stir the pot and make opinion and drivel sound like news. I mean, honestly, who would argue that politic discourse wouldn’t be more productive and civil if the likes of Rush Limbaugh didn’t pollute the airwaves?

But the media loves shock jocks because they drive up the ratings, and more ratings means more money. Perhaps along with getting the money out of elections we should also get the money out of the news. As long as money is the prime motivation for reporting the news instead of informing, we’ll always get sensationalizing and editorials en lieu of actual facts and objective information.

Ultimately, though, this leaves me wondering how anyone is supposed to get legitimately objective information about politics in this country. I suppose you could limit yourself to what the candidates themselves say. Watch their conferences and rallies, read their press releases and websites, watch their interviews and ignore everything else. But the “everything else” is so pervasive and ubiquitous that seems like a huge task, especially if you’re not a person who’s adept at evaluating informational sources.

But something has to change, and it has to change soon. The media gave birth to Donald Trump by feeding that machine until it became a reality. Hopefully people will also rise up and take control of their media when they take back their elections.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Let’s talk about the booing.

Suffice it to say, the Bernie supporters at the DNC this week simply weren’t having any of it. And I can’t say that I really blame them, in light of the DNC emails that surfaced right before the convention. I’m angry as hell, too, and I would have booed as well had I been there.

It’s one thing to tell Bernie supporters, “Get over it, he lost fair and square.” But there was nothing fair or square about it. There’s now ample evidence to show that party officials actively colluded to make sure that he didn’t get elected. That’s horrible on a lot of levels.

What was particularly galling to me was how so many people on that stage could get up and talk about principles and integrity at a convention where the heads of the party basically cheated to get their candidate the nomination. That’s not the Democratic party I want to be in. That’s not any political party I want to be in. It’s major hypocrisy.

What role did Clinton play in any of this? I have no idea, but it probably was a stupid move to make Debbie Wasserman Schultz her campaign chair right after the scandal caused her to resign from the DNC. That doesn’t look good, Team Hillary, if you’re reading this. It’s why nobody trusts your candidate.

In an election where democrats are already split, it’s especially upsetting to hear idiots like Sarah Silverman telling people who are upset that they’re “being ridiculous.”

Really? If that’s your attitude toward cheating, Sarah, then you’re a shitty human being. It wasn’t funny and it wasn’t poignant. What it was was demeaning. You don’t win over a coalition of voters by denigrating and bullying them.

And yet…come November, I’ll still vote for Hillary. Only because I don’t want Trump to win. Come 2020, I sure as hell hope some other candidate challenges her for the nomination.

But just like Republicans have reaped what they’ve sown with Donald Trump, so too will the Democrats regret their actions when 2018 rolls around. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they simply don’t care about their voters. And when those congressional midterms roll around, it’s probably a safe bet to say that they won’t be taking back control. They’ll win a few seats, but it won’t be enough.

Because people will remember how they were treated. Especially young people.

This is what should upset people the most about how the DNC behaved. Young people don’t support Clinton. They don’t support the status quo. They support the likes of Sanders, Stein, and Johnson. The future of the party is probably going to be very rocky, because I’d guess that young people will turn away from it in droves. Whether that means they’ll all identify as independents or join third parties is anyone’s guess.

Personally, I hope more of them join third parties, because it’s clear that the two parties we currently have just don’t give a shit about the people anymore. The smartest thing Sanders can do going forward is to help found a new political party for progressives. His followers are loyal, numerous, and on the right side of history. He could start a party that could actually challenge future mainstream candidates; he could help make third party mainstream.

I’ll vote for Hillary through gritted teeth this November. But I’ll be on the lookout for candidates and parties that actually support progressive and liberal ideals for future elections. Maybe Bernie would have still lost even without the plotting of the DNC. That’s certainly possible. But it’s also not what happened.

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The real problem with American healthcare

There’s a healthcare crisis in America. This is at least one fact that both sides of the aisle can agree upon here. Of course, each side thinks that the crisis is happening for different reasons, and they both have their own solutions. I have a feeling, though, that both of their solutions are going to incompletely solve the problem, because they don’t address the root cause of the problem.

Let’s delve into the specifics.

Costs associated with healthcare are out of control in America. We spend more than every other country in the world on healthcare, and our results are middling at best. How much more do we spend?

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We spend twice as much as many of the countries on that list. Healthcare costs in America run into the trillions of dollars every year. A lot of people point to the high price of drugs. Yes, that does indeed play a role in the high price of healthcare in the US, and it does need to be addressed. Other countries on that list are able to directly negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies because the government is the insurance provider. Here in the US, pharmaceutical lobbies spend tons of money to get lax standards passed in congress, and private insurance companies are more than happy to charge you higher prices because it makes them more money too. To be sure, it’s an awful system, but it’s only one factor among many that contributes to the overall failure of our healthcare system.

Still some say that there’s too much bureaucracy involved in our healthcare. To some extent that’s certainly true. There are way too many cogs in the healthcare machine, so to speak, and frequently you get situations where the right hand doesn’t talk to the left hand because the system is so convoluted and bloated. There’s redundancy and waste. That’s obviously a contributing factor and should be addressed.

People also argue that we should either reign in or do away with insurance companies altogether, and go back to a simple fee-for- service model that’s left to the providers. This model makes the most sense, but it still has plenty of flaws. Unless you reign in drug prices, this kind of model isn’t really going to save you money at the pharmacy. It also doesn’t address the fact that there are plenty of treatments out there that cost more than the average person can pay (more on this later). Even if you got all of the insurance and government mumbo jumbo out of the way, open heart surgery is still going to be expensive because it’s complicated and risky with a long recovery period. Cancer treatment is still going to expensive. There’s no getting around that. But a model without insurance companies might work for simple primary care visits, and could serve as a patch or a bridge within the system.

All of these problems skirt around the real issue here, the real reason why the price of healthcare continues to skyrocket in this country: the burden of disease is high and keeps getting higher. In short, Americans pay more for healthcare because we’re sicker than almost everyone else. In my state we have an insurer, Moda, that’s in financial trouble because once the ACA went into effect, they very quickly realized that people were much sicker than anyone realized.

And that’s why the ACA is struggling a bit. The very people that the ACA brought into the healthcare fold were the sickest among us—the people who previously had no or sporadic access to healthcare and the people living in poverty. But that’s not exclusive to the lower socioeconomic groups. Americans in general are unhealthier than ever, and that’s an upward trend. What are the most common causes of death here?

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The striking thing about that list is that many of those things are preventable. Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans, and it’s also the most preventable. Diabetes is also preventable (at least Type 2 is) or at least manageable. Respiratory diseases and even some cancers can be prevented, too. The common trend here comes down to ONE simple thing: lifestyle factors.

Unlike your genetic predisposition to something like high cholesterol or cancer, lifestyle factors are completely modifiable. And they play an important role in your overall health and the burden of disease within our healthcare system. In fact, there are four things that have tremendous impact on your health:

1) Sleep

2) Exercise

3) Diet

4) Stress

You’ll notice that all of those things can be addressed quickly and, more importantly, basically for free. You don’t need to spend money to go for a walk outside every day. You don’t need to spend money to eat less every day. Sleeping doesn’t cost anything. And you might also have noticed that all of these things have a profound effect on your immune system. Chronic stress will suppress your immune system. Not enough sleep will screw up your immune system and your metabolism. An imbalanced diet will screw up your immune system. And, for our really “with it” readers, you might also have noticed that all of those things affect each other; exercising and eating properly will help you sleep and they reduce stress.

In short, the problem with healthcare in America is this: IT DOESN’T PROMOTE HEALTH.

And because of that,  too many people get fat and stressed and sick and then burn out the healthcare system, which isn’t designed or able to support hundreds of millions of chronically ill people. Just how much of an influence do those four factors have on health? Well, let’s look at them.

Sleep. We all know that you need sleep. That’s when your body heals, replenishes all of its neurotransmitters, grows, etc. You can’t function properly without the proper amount of sleep. How much sleep you need depends on your age and to some extent the individual, but here’s what the facts have to say. A whopping 45% of Americans say they get poor or insufficient sleep. The same report reveals that 67% of people who report getting “poor” sleep also report having poor or “only fair” health.

Exercise. It’s recommended that you move around for at least one hour every day. Yet most Americans lead very sedentary lives. The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day (7 if you’re over 65). In case you were wondering, here’s how our television watching compares to those in other countries:

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If you’re like me, this doesn’t really surprise you. But it does reinforce the fact that Americans are exceptionally sedentary. And what about exercise specifically? The CDC reports that only 20% of Americans over 18 meet the recommendations for aerobic and weight-bearing physical activity; that statistic jumps to just below 50% if you remove the weight-bearing exercise.

Diet. Again, there probably won’t be any surprises here. Take a look at this info from the USDA:

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As you can see, Americans eat too much fat, salt, and sugar and not nearly enough lean meat and vegetables. The average American consumes 3,770 calories per day, which is about 53% more than is recommended. The average American also eats more processed foods than ever before:

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Stress. Stress is hard to quantify, but we can certainly try. Let’s think about some of the things that cause us stress. Work is one thing. We do work more than people in other countries:

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Money or financial things also cause people stress. 63% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. 21% don’t even have a savings account at all. Good luck replacing the refrigerator or repairing the car. This also partially why you’ll never be able to just get rid of insurance companies (as much as we’d all like to). This survey from the American Psychological Association shows that while overall stress levels have decreased since the first survey in 2007, they’re still way above what the survey defines as a healthy amount of stress.What’s more, how Americans manage stress is also horrible: we eat, watch TV, drink, or smoke.

So what does all of this mean? Well, for one thing it means we’re fat. 62% of adults are overweight, and 27% are obese. What does that mean? It means more heart disease. It means more strokes. It means more diabetes. These are all things that happened to be in the top ten causes of death, by the way. It also means things like more arthritis. If you’re diabetic, which about 10 million people in America are, it means chronic wounds, visual problems, kidney failure, etc. That number is expected to jump to 44 million people by 2020, with spending on JUST DIABETES related problems expected to climb to $336 BILLION dollars a year.

And none of this is taking into account all of the effects that hypertension associated with these things have on individuals. Or the fact that 16 million Americans have asthma. And I’ve left out the effects that diet has on oral health, as well. The dental situation in America is out of control, but that’s almost another post. The bottom line is that these things profoundly affect the health of America and the burden on our healthcare system, and they’re all modifiable.

Of course, we don’t do that in this country. For philosophical reasons we let everyone engage in whatever self-destructive and detrimental behavior they want, then we balk at the price tag when the bill comes and can’t understand what went wrong.

But it obviously doesn’t have to be that way. Yes,  waste exists and we should try to eliminate it. But prevent the disease in the first place and you prevent the spending. There are lots of ways this could be done. I personally favor taxes on soda and fast food. I don’t care about “It’s my right to drink 7 Pepsi’s a day,” arguments. We tax alcohol and cigarettes, two other substances that raise the disease burden on the healthcare system. We could do the same thing with soda and fast food.

I also think we could do a better job providing incentives to people (as if not dying a slow, fat diabetes death isn’t enough in the first place). If you’re classified as overweight or obese, why not grant people tax breaks if they lose weight? Everyone loves saving money. I’d also be a proponent of publicly funded gyms that anyone can access for free. Start a public awareness campaign about diet and exercise. We did the same thing with smoking and teen pregnancy and the rates went down. Perhaps all that “This is your brain on drugs” money would have been better spent on “This is your body on sugar” commercials.

But until the way we conceptualize health and the role of healthcare systems changes, the price tag attached to healthcare won’t change. If we don’t address the root causes of disease we’ll never be able to stem the tide of rising healthcare costs. If we don’t promote and encourage health, we’ll never be healthy.

The vitamin and oil conspiracy

Folks, if you read me regularly then you know there’s nothing in the world I hate more than pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Which is why I’ve been fairly perturbed as of late by my social media feeds being inundated by posts about “Natural cures they don’t want you to know about!” I’m sure a lot of you have seen the ads or sponsored pages pop up on Facebook or Twitter. Bullshit like this:

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Look at that. 100k people think that cannabis just cures cancer. That’s something I’ve seen pop up quite a bit these days. Crap like, “Man with stage 4 cancer gets rid of it in a month with simple cannabis trick!” It’s the worst kind of social media offender: it’s simultaneously clickbait AND pseudoscience.

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Just a cursory Google search yields all kinds of wacky bullshit results:

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I mean, come on guys, this is totally on the up-and-up. If you can’t trust premier research institutes like Leafly, MedicalJane, and cureyourowncancer.org, just who the hell can you trust? I mean, just take a look at what this promises. Seven months of cannabis oil treatment and poof, goodbye cancer. Six terminal patients taking illegal cannabis oil?! Holy smokes. Of course, this kind of nonsense isn’t relegated simply to cannabis. “Natural cures” are the herpes of the pseudoscience world.

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Which prescription meds is turmeric better than? For what diseases? Who knows! I think it’s safe to assume, though, that the claim will be something along the lines of “All of them, of course!” But we can climb one more rung up the bullshit ladder and arrive at the detox fad:

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Well look at all of the stuff lemon and flax does. Not only will it “detoxify” you, but it’ll also cure your diabetes and get rid of that pesky cellulite. Simply amazing. Especially in light of the fact that “detoxing” is complete and utter horse shit, with all of the evidence in the world pointing to the inescapable fact that such cleanses do literally nothing for your health. And would you like to know why? Because your goddamned body already has an amazing filtration and detoxification system that works 24/7 your entire life. Folks, meet the real stars that keep you free of harmful toxins, your kidneys and your liver!

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The unsung heroes

And there’s the granddaddy of all the natural cure bullshit: vitamin C. Motherfucking vitamin C, everyone. It cures everything, didn’t you know? Like, literally everything. Here, just take a look at this complete and utter drivel. What are some of things Natural News claims vitamin C therapy can cure?

  • Chickenpox
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Tetanus
  • Polio

Wow, that’s weird, exactly the diseases that vaccines eliminated. Almost as if these people are, I don’t know, trying to market something to a specific group of people, an untapped economic niche. It gets better, though. Here’s what else vitamin C can cure:

  • Herpes
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis
  • Mono
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Glaucoma
  • Alcoholism
  • High cholesterol
  • Ruptured intervertebral discs

The crux of this therapy is receiving high doses of vitamin C intravenously. Because somehow science. Who knows what the alleged mechanism of action here is because it’s never explained. In fact, no evidence or explanations are offered at all. Instead, the sell is in the fear.

Manufactured drugs are poisons that are slowly killing you all to make a profit! These natural cures are, like, way better, because natural always equals better. Duh. You can’t trust the government and Big Pharma. They’re all evil and just want your money. That’s why they make you sick, so that they can take your money!

Okay, let’s take the stupid one step at a time here.

First of all, vitamin C is water soluble. Meaning that whatever your body doesn’t absorb gets peed right out. In other words, there’s a saturation limit with vitamin C–cramming more than your body needs or can absorb into your veins is going to do precisely dick. Then there’s the matter of overdosing. Yes, even though it’s water soluble, you can still overdose, by doing something like, I don’t know, RUNNING IT INTO YOUR SYSTEM IV. Then you can suffer the nausea, vomiting, and kidney stones that nature apparently wanted you to.

Which speaks to another irony: there’s nothing “natural” about injecting vitamin C into your body intravenously. If you wanted to get your vitamin C the way nature intended, you’d fucking eat it, because that’s how your body was designed, to obtain vitamin C through diet.

As to the conspiracies, there are plenty. First, the idea that vaccines and modern medicine are a way to poison people and depopulate the planet. If that’s the plan, I’d say that they’re doing a super shitty job, considering the population continues to grow. Plus, isn’t it a rather stupid business model to kill your customer base? How the hell are you supposed to make money if you kill everyone?

Second, creating cures for things is not an excellent business model if you’re part of a conspiracy. Why bother creating vaccines when letting people just catch the diseases would result in much more profit? You’d think that the last thing Big Pharma would want to do is eradicate polio and smallpox, and yet…that’s precisely what they did. You’d think that they wouldn’t develop a cure for Hepatitis C, yet that’s exactly what Harvoni is. Again, this doesn’t really jive with the conspiracy theorists’ models.

“Well follow the money!” That’s what all of these people who think Big Pharma is out to get everyone and suppress the truth say. That’s an excellent idea. Why don’t we indeed follow the money…right over to the Natural News store! Well, that’s funny. Why are these guys making a profit if the only people who are motivated by profit are the bad guys?

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I mean, fuck getting vaccines for free (which actually causes doctors to lose money, which again speaks against conspiracy) when you could just spend $650.00 on a stupid herbal medicine cabinet. 

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Or you could spend $164 on a single bottle of vitamin E. Seems totally legit. But you know what, guys. Before you do any of that, you have to know what health dangers are lurking in your house in the first place. But don’t worry, because the Natural News store has you covered again!

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Better fork over that $379.00 to detect those electromagnetic fields before they fuck up your chi or reiki or whatever other bullshit you believe in. Never mind the fact that every electronic device and appliance in your house will emit an EM field, so the product is guaranteed to make you think you’re being besieged by electromagnet fields –electromagnets are killing you and giving you cancer! Ahhhh!

I mean, why on earth would you pay a $20 copay for a visit to a medical professional and get a generic prescription for $10 when you could fork over $1,029 to Natural News for an EM detector and some herbs? I mean, you don’t want those money grubbing physicians to win, do you? They’re only after your money!

Do vitamins play a role in health? Yes, obviously. Does cannabis have the potential to lead to new cancer fighting drugs? Yes. But simply claiming that if you shove the shit raw into your veins you’ll cure all diseases known to man is stupid in the highest degree, without a single shred of evidence or science to back it up. And, by the way, most drugs on the market are based in some way on something completely natural, like how aspirin is derived from willow bark, or ACE inhibitors came from the venom of pit vipers–most medication you think of as poison really comes from completely natural substances anyway.

Okay, one last thing to convince any natural cure advocates reading this. Let’s grant for one moment that cannabis really does cure cancer. And let’s say that vitamin C really does cure all of the things that they say they do. And let’s say that all those herbs really are curative. Why on earth wouldn’t Big Pharma take advantage of that? I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that if all of those things really did work, then drug companies would have already patented them and the only way you could get your vitamin C or lemon and flax detox would be by prescription. At the very least, if the conspiracies were true you’d think that the drug companies would still patent them and then just make them inaccessible to everyone so nobody could cure themselves. What kind of a stupid conspiracy is it to sell everyone poison but leave well known cures out there for anyone to use?

Maybe it’s because there is no conspiracy. Maybe the drug companies do rip you off as far as price gouging goes, but at least their products work. Or you could just fork over your cash to Big Vitamin and literally piss out all of your hard earned money.

You want a fair election? Let everyone debate.

Now that we’re so close to the Democratic and Republican conventions, all anyone can talk about is what Bernie will do and how much of a circus the GOP version of events is going to be. But every time that I hear about this, I can’t help but think one thing: we’ve already had two conventions to pick presidential nominees.

Libertarians picked Gary Johnson and the Green Party picked Jill Stein.

Of course, that was barely reported, a singular blip on the radar of mainstream media. Indeed, the media is doing everything it possibly can to perpetuate the two party system that we’ve all come to loathe. Johnson and Stein get next to no screen time or print dedicated to them. But something is different this year, something which just might cause those other “fringe” parties to finally enter the national spotlight.

Voter ire and dissatisfaction are at all time highs. Clinton and Trump have unfavorable ratings that are through the roof. We say every election is a choice between the lesser of two evils, but this time it seems it’s literally that depending upon who you ask. If only there were more than two choices! Ah, but there are! And I think people are finally starting to realize just how badly the two party system screws them over and just how untrue the two party narrative is.

Gary Johnson polls at around 11%. Jill Stein is polling somewhere around 5%. That might not seem like a lot, but 16% of the electorate is nothing to sneeze at. Certainly, elections have been swung by far less people. And I imagine that the more time passes, the more people Trump will drive into Johnson’s camp. And once the final nail is in the coffin of Bernie’s campaign, I suspect a lot of his followers would jump to Stein’s ship rather than vote for Hillary (something like 55% of Sanders supporters say they won’t vote for Clinton). Hell, could you imagine what would happen to Stein’s campaign if Bernie endorsed her instead of Hillary? (He won’t do it, but he probably would if he didn’t think it would help Trump become president)

One exciting thing about Johnson’s poll numbers is that he’s very close to that 15% threshold needed to included in the general election debates. If that happened, even more people would realize they aren’t stuck between a Democrat and a Republican. Of course that 15% threshold is absolute bullshit, and just goes to show how rigged the entire system is. In my opinion, if you’re going to be on the ballot, you should be allowed to debate. It’s fair, it’s simple. And to my knowledge, both Stein and Johnson are are on track to be on the ballot in all 50 states.

And really, a diversity of ideas and choices is a hallmark of America. We can’t stop talking about how our greatest strength, our secret weapon, is our diversity. But apparently that doesn’t extend to politics. This country deserves a robust discussion about where we’re headed, and there needs to be seats at the table for EVERYONE, not just the two parties with the most money. Because when you slice down into it, the number of people who actually support Democrats or Republicans specifically is small–about 25% for each party. Over half the country is up for grabs, not defined by either party. Free agents in a sense, who could support whoever they want or form whatever political parties they want. At the very least, one could say that Democrats and Republicans do not represent that majority of Americans (myself included)–so there must be other seats at the table.

In the past, people have said that voting for the third party is wasting your vote. Everyone remembers the crap Nader got, right? But more and more, that seems like a cheap threat, a sleazy ploy by the two parties to keep you from voting for someone else. This election is a perfect storm or discontent and epiphany. It seems abundantly clear that the major parties don’t represent America anymore. People see Democrats and Republicans as two sides of the same corporate, oligarchic coin.

In short, people are starting to come to conclusion that it’s really a vote for the two party status quo that’s a waste. If voting for a Democrat or Republican has a negligible difference, people have nothing to lose by voting for Stein or Johnson. The more people who realize that, the more of a chance we have of actually electing someone to office who’s willing to truly try something different.

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