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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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My Own Alternative Medicine

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2012 23:26:07 -0300

I've been thinking a lot recently about alternative medicine.  For
understandable reasons, I imagine.

In theory, I am quite supportive of the idea.  In practice, I also found some
serious objections:

 * It takes time.  When you're ill, quite a bit of time is consumed doing
   stuff related to your illness.  Going to the doctor.  Going to the clinic
   for medication.  Taking medication at home (the semi-nightly ritual of
   injections).  Shopping for medication.  Sleeping.  Just sitting there
   feeling crap.  It adds up.  So time becomes precious.  Being able to have a
   normal, worry-free day is a pleasure in itself.  And chasing alternative
   medicine eats into that.

 * It's largely out of context.  Take, say, acupuncture.  Or rather, reverse
   that.  Take "western medicine" in the context of a culture where
   acupuncture is the norm (assume such a thing exists).  Who is your "western
   medicine guru"?  Is it a doctor from a nice hospital in London, or some
   random dropout from London who has hitched his way to acupuncture-land and
   can't see how else to make money?  Now switch back and qestion the
   credentials of your acupuncture specialist, in this western-medicine
   context.  It's worrying.

 * It's hard to trust people.  What I'd *really* like is someone who says
   "look, I am buggered if I understand why, but I seem to make people
   better".  Instead, you have to trust someone who "knows" that it's all down
   to magnets and inner energy.  It's not that they are wrong - they may be
   right (although, damn, if it's magnets I've spent some quality hours in MRI
   recently...).  It's that they are *convinced* they are right without the
   kind of evidence that I find convincing.  What kind of person is like that?
   Not the kind if person I instinctively trust.  (Incidentally, it would be
   neat to mine hospital records and see if you could find nurses who just
   "naturally" - unknowngly - were curing people...).

So.  What to do?  What to do if you think western medicine is missing
something?  And if that something is kind-of present in "alternative
medicine", but not in a way that you find appealing (or efficient)?

Well, my idea was to invent my own alternative.

That's not so dumb, right?  After all, placebos work whether you know they are
pacebos or not.  I've been told (actually, from what I've read - I bought a
collection of papers from a conference on placebos a while back - placebos are
actually horribly complex and poorly understood, so almost any general
statement about them is unlike to be correct).

So what should an alternative do?

Mine is based on coffee, chocolate, and meditation.  At 3pm you make a good
cup of coffee and fetch a line of chocolate from the fridge (the chocolate
should be stored in the same box as the Betaferon).  You put a Chris Watson
album (nature sounds) on shuffle.  And you sit in a comfortable spot.

You have a sip of coffee.  Nibble some chocolate.  Start to think about
thinking.  Listen to what's in your head, and put it aside.  Have some more
coffe.  Listen again.  Clean and tidy your head.  Empty out.  Feel good about
the light coming through the window.  Taste the chocolate.  Go back to your
head.  Place any ideas in a neat row of boxes for later.  Feel good.

It's not so bad.

That's the 3pm part.  There's also the jogging, but whether that is part of
the medicine or something else I'm not yet sure.  Maybe the medicine becomes a
lifestyle.  It's a work in progress.


Light and Tea

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2012 13:39:05 -0300

A nice cup of tea can be substituted for the coffee (especially when on days
when my head feeks like it's gonig to explode).

Light is important.  Sunlight on leaves.  Maybe this is a religion.  We
worship dappled light.


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