Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hippies of medical science

For pretty much my whole life, my mom has encouraged me and my family to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle. She tries to feed us mostly organic food, and rarely gives us any form of microwavable dinners or fast food. She kicks us out of the house pretty much every day to get some form of exercise, and goes to extreme measures in order to make sure my sleeping patterns are relatively normal. While this kind of sucked as a kid, (as fast food and those kid cuisine dinners were freaking delicious on those rare occasions) it did actually help my body to develop a much stronger immune system and a fast metabolism. I rarely got sick, and when I did, I recovered fairly quickly. While a good diet and a fairly healthy lifestyle may have been a large influence on my overall health, I sincerely believe that a huge portion of it has to do with my mom's habit of being a medical science 'hippie'.

Some Background
My mom went to Marquette University to study to become a nurse. She graduated an RN (registered nurse), worked in several hospitals, started a hospice, worked for several years as a massage therapist and also became a teacher of CNAs (Certified nurse assistants). In addition, she did work for a network marketing company named Mannatech, a corporation based around 'glyconutritionals': the eight different sugars which your cells use in order to communicate with one another. After working with Mannatech for many years, my mom became privy to non-conventional and non-traditional forms of medicine and treatment, which I have affectionately nick-named: 'hippie medicine'.

Traditional Medicine
Americans in particular have become obsessed with with the traditional 'sick' rhythm: get sick, go to the doctor, get diagnosed, get a prescription, take pills, repeat. While this method isn't necessarily bad, as no one wants to feel like crap, and it's far easier to take a painkiller than to deal with a fever, being obsessed with this method is probably one of the root causes to mass sickliness across the United States. It is important to remember that majority of painkillers and prescription drugs are meant only to treat the SYMPTOMS of the disease, not to cure or prevent it.

This is partially due to the monetary advantage to never actually curing a disease, for example: cancer. If cancer was suddenly cured, imagine how many researchers, pharmacists and doctors would suddenly be out of work, or at least would lose a substantial amount of income. If no one was dying of cancer and needing chemotherapy, and someone could just take a vaccine, a huge income towards cancer treatment business would be lost. As corrupt and unreasonable a system this is, it is one of absolute truth. Remember, that this method of preventing the actual prevention or curing of a disease is the direct result of traditional, western medicine. This is where the 'hippie medicine' comes into play.

Non-Traditional Advantages
When I was a kid, and I got sick, my mom would do the natural motherly thing: call in sick for me at school, and put me in bed with a thermometer. However, unless the illness was severe, she would almost never give me painkillers to lower the fever, or cold medicine to treat symptoms. Instead, she told me to lie still and let my body do what it was designed to do to fight off the disease. While this may sound a little sadistic for a mother to do to her child, in the end it benefited me greatly. It empowered my body to build up a stronger resistance to pathogens, and the lack of antibiotics in unnecessary situations reduced the creation of far more dangerous antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

In addition to these basic, resistance of unnecessary treatments, there are several other non-conventional methods of 'hippie medicine' that have proven to be as good if not better methods of treatment and prevention of illness than those of traditional medicine practice:

- Placebo medicines: Generally, sugar pills that have zero real effect on the real body, but are sometimes prescribed to patients whom believe that the pills are going to treat their problem. Because the patient -believes- that the placebo is treating them, they feel better regardless of having no true treatment.

- Acupuncture: An ancient Asian technique of using tiny needles placed in specific parts of the body in order to re-allow the flow of 'chi' (energy). While there is no true science behind this practice, it has proved to relieve patients of some ailments, and is not harmful to the body.

- Herbs and plant-based treatments: While it's unreasonable to think that mushing up some leaves and flowers will help to heal a cut, it has been proven that certain herbs and plants such as aloe have very strong healing abilities, and can sometimes work better than traditional prescription drugs.

These are only a few of the many forms of non-traditional medicine techniques that have been proven to improve health, and offer alternative methods of treating ailments aside from the constant abuse of prescription drugs. It is important to remember that I am NOT against the use of drugs, only that I do not believe that they should be the main focus of treatment, when many other, safer and sometimes better treatment options exist. Unfortunately, however, it will take America a very long time to accept this reality, as we appear to have been brainwashed into believing that when faced with a problem, the quick fix is the best fix.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Examination of the Anthropomorphic Lifestyle

***As a disclaimer, let me make it clear that I am not a furry myself. Instead, I am an observer of the community as a whole, and have found it to be a very interesting group of people. While I have dabbled in some forms of their activities, such as drawings and occasional craft of furry costume accessories (Ears, tails, etc.) let it be understood that I am -not- a furry, and have no interest in becoming one. Moreover, I accept and study the fandom, and occasionally partake in their aspects to better understand the community.***

As an inexperienced blogger, I decided to begin my 'blogging experience' with a post about a group of people I have come to affiliate myself with a great deal, yet have managed to maintain a safe distance from in terms of joining into their 'lifestyle'.

**All art above is copyrighted to their respective creators. I do not claim ownership for any of the above images.

These people are known predominately as the 'Furries'. This fairly recent, and perhaps only about two decades old fandom has become on of the largest online and offline communities, without the assistance of any form of corporation or government promotion. To give an overview to those whom are unfamiliar with the furry fandom, 'furries' are traditionally and generally animal enthusiasts, whom in some sense wish to embody part of their personality or even their entire personality in the form of an anthropomorphic character. I.E. An animal with human-like traits, such as walking upright, human figures, human speech capabilities, etc. For the most part, the furries keep mostly to themselves and each other, and do not usually pursue Evangelical lifestyle to spread their ideas.

A Basic Overview
Unfortunately, very early on, the 'furry pioneers' had caused a great deal of negative assumptions about the community as a whole. This is due mainly to the fandom being primarily a fetish to the 'early furries', which quickly associated non-furries with the idea that to be a furry, is to have some sort of fur-related fetish. While this may have been somewhat true in the early days of the fandom, it must be understood that times have in fact changed, and the fandom is quite hardly associated with sexual affiliations and fetishes. Rather, it has become a vast, and very generic term applied to too wide a range of people. It is difficult to provide an accurate definition for a furry, as there are several different 'levels' and variations of being a furry. While its unfair to say that no furries are 'in it for the sex', (as there is of course a small portion of the community still interested in sex-related aspects of anthropomorphism) it can be assumed that majority of furries are on a minor level, and are minor level of animal appreciation, and merely wish to express their personal admiration for the beauty or strength of an animal, or to help reveal the 'animal within' themselves (similar rituals were preformed by the Native Americans, whom would align themselves with a spirit animal, or would wear the skin of an animal in order to embody the animal's strength).

While its uncommon today for furries to go out and hunt a bear and wear its skin to embody their 'inner animal' (as most furries generally have an acute appreciation and love of animals, and seem to have an inclination to taboo animal hunting / taxidermy), their is a small portion of furries that practice 'fursuiting'. This is simply the act of donning a (usually commissioned and custom) fursuit of the furry's personal character, and acting as their character would in a public setting (usually during furry conventions). Though fursuiters are generally a small population in the fandom, they are generally the embodiment of the fandom to outsiders, and are generally what gives the fandom its bizarre appearance.

** An example of a fursuit parade at a furry convention **

One of the most misunderstood assumptions about the act of fursuiting is the myth that furries only create fursuits to use them in 'furry sex'. While this myth is probably not untrue in some cases, for the most part it is completely false. Fursuits are heavy, hot, and and require a lot of skill to wear. To attempt to commit sexual activity while wearing a fursuit would most likely be similar to attempting to do so while wearing a sofa. In addition, to assume that all of these extremely expensive and difficult to craft suits are being used simply for sexual acts is an utter hyperbole, as many fursuit artists pursue the craft strictly for the creative experience (This is the same as assuming that every painter only paints pornography, which is quite obviously untrue.).

Examples of some prodigy fursuit artists:
Clockwork Creature:

(These are just some examples of many very talented artists in this craft, all of which generally pursue the art purely for its artistic and monetary rewards)

Closing - A Personal Outlook of Furries
Overall, my experience with the furry fandom has been one of positive nature. I have found this community to be one of the kindest, and least judgmental groups of people I have ever affiliated myself with. A possible reason for this is most likely due to the furries being some the most diverse, and sometimes some of the most socially awkward people. It may be judgmental to assume, but it very rarely appears that furries are the 'high school jocks', or the 'popular cheerleaders'. Instead, they are generally the quiet and occasionally socially awkward people not generally seen as the prom queen or elected 'most athletic'. This is most likely due to furries having a different outlook on life, usually driven towards a more enlightened or non-humanistic view of life (Perhaps one dedicated to a passion of animals rather than a humanly-dominated view of the world). Though this judgement may be unfair, and of course cannot apply to all furries, in my time of observation, these are the trends most commonly followed.

As time goes on, I will most likely add more to this post, but for now, I figure this is enough to give any person whom is unfamiliar with furries a look into the anthropomorphic lifestyle.