Friday, March 27, 2015

Folk Medicine Experiments: #1

Over the past several years I've occasionally had to battle with joint pains in my fingers.  Early arthritis or just the usual impact pains?  In any case, I've always cleared them up with my homemade remedy:

Take 1 dozen absolutely plain generic aspirin (no coloring, no buffering, no nothing), grind them as fine as flour, and dissolve in one ounce of DMSO.  Shake, stir, and filter through a coarse cloth until the fluid is clear.  Paint on the skin over the affected joint, wait until it sinks in and the skin is dry, then massage the skin vigorously to press the solution into the deeper tissues.  Apply twice a day.

This has worked reliably for years, until a couple months ago.  That's when I got pain and weakness in the joints of my right thumb, from wrist to tip.  I painted on my aspirin/DMSO solution as usual, and it stopped the pain and weakness from spreading, but didn't make it vanish as quickly as usual.  I told Rasty about it, and he worried that this was real arthritis;  he knows all too well about arthritis, having been damn-near crippled with it 20 years ago.  From what he could learn from a dozen doctors, what causes it is one's own immune system going crazy and attacking one's own cartilage.

I thought about that, and considered that the immune system doesn't go hog-wild for no reason.  Something has to set it off, and that something can only be some kind of an infection.  So, first solution: kill the infection.  Problem: just what kind of infection is it?  Not bacterial, I guessed, since lots of people with arthritis take antibiotics fairly often, for other ailments, and there's no record of them having any affect on the joint problem.  Not protozoans or parasites, I figured further, since those are quite noticeable in blood tests -- and, again, no correlation has ever shown up.  That leaves viruses and molds.  There are a number of mold-killers on the market, but where is there a broad-spectrum virus-killer?

Well, I know of an herbal mix that has a pretty good track record:

Grind up equal volumes of fresh raw garlic, fresh raw onion, fresh raw cabbage, and cured shredded tobacco.  For internal infections, swallow a teaspoon-full two or three times per day.  In this case, I painted the mixture on my skin, let it dry, then painted over it with DMSO. 

And looking further through folk-medicine accounts, I found something besides DMSO itself that's said to help with arthritis, and that's copper -- pure metallic copper, worn on the bare skin, as in a ring or bracelet.  After trying it, I realized that if you wear metallic copper on the bare skin, sooner or later the skin sweats.  Sweat is acid, and dissolves ions of copper out of the metal and deposits them on the skin -- thus causing the famous blue-green stain.  But not all of that stain stays on the skin;  some of it is absorbed through the pores, and eventually gets into the bloodstream, where the white blood-cells take up those copper ions and mix them into a chemical which kills all kinds of invading microbes -- but especially molds.  This isn't surprising, since molds (yeast, fungi, etc.) use a lot of copper in their metabolism, and therefore can't refuse to take in the stuff, no matter what else it's chemically attached to -- even if that something else is inimical to the mold's health.

At this point I mentioned my problem, and ideas, to my family doctor.  He agreed that mold infections do tend to make the immune system go frantic, and that both DMSO and copper have good track records for treating arthritis.  But he disagreed that the problem was caused by mold infections in the bloodstream, since "If you've got a mold infection in your blood, you're dead."  Hmmm, but how would the mold get to the cartilage in the joints if it didn't travel through the blood?  He also warned me to be wary of using too much aspirin, since it could burn the skin.  Well, of course: aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid, and acid can certainly burn you if you get too much of it.  And we still hadn't completely ruled out viruses.

So what I settled on was painting the DMSO-and-aspirin on my skin only once a day, painting the herbal mix on my skin and following it with DMSO two or three times a day, and also wearing a copper ring and a copper bracelet on my right hand and painting DMSO on the resulting stain twice a day.

I've been doing that for the past four weeks, and the pain and weakness in the thumb have been slowly but steadily fading in intensity and shrinking in range.  They're not entirely gone yet, but they're retreating.

I think I'm on to something here.  Does anybody else have any similar stories?

--Leslie <;)))><     

Thursday, March 19, 2015


--Leslie Fish

            People often ask me where I get inspirations for my songs, and the answer is: the damnedest places.  I've mentioned before how a passing phrase at Joe Bethancourt's memorial concert inspired a song – "High Desert Wind" – that I'm still working on, and how the inspiration lasted for only one chorus and verse, so I asked for suggestions from the fans to finish it.  I got some useful suggestions, a whole verse from Mark Horning and a lot of workable lines from other fans, but I still hadn't put together that last verse…
            At least until this morning.
            I was jerked awake by the sound of my cell-phone ringing, and swam up to consciousness as I reached for it, groggily aware that I'd nodded off in front of the computer again.  I peered at the blank screen even as I yawned "Hello?"
            "Leslie!" yelled a frantic male voice – somewhat familiar, a local fan, but I couldn't think of the attached name: Don?  Dan?  Dave?  Daryl?  "Make it stop!  Send him back!"
            "Whaaa…?" I managed.  "Stop what?"
            "That song!  The one you wrote at Joe's memorial, the one about raising ghosts from songs and forces of nature.  It worked!  He's here!  I can hear him outside!"
            "What the hell?" I wakened faster.  "Joe's there?"  I couldn't understand the panic in the fan's voice.  If my old friend's ghost should show up at my door, I'd welcome him in gladly.  And I'd ask for his help in finishing that song. 
            And why would Joe's shade drop in on Don-Dave-Dan-whoever, rather than me?  Ghosts appear unsummoned when (and where) they have unfinished business.  I didn't know half of Joe's friends or family, or what he had going on with them, but what urgency would have sent him there first?  …Did it have anything to do with the fan's terrified reaction?
            The fan's voice rose another octave as he screeched: "He's at the door!"
            I thought fast.  "Send him to me," I snapped.  "Toss him one of my tapes, or CDs, or books, and send him to me.  I want to see him."
            There was no answer but a single thump.  I wondered if the frightened fan had thrown the phone at the ghost.
            "What the hell?" I repeated, getting up from my chair…
            …And then I wrenched awake – really awake – and found that I wasn't sitting in front of the computer at all.  I was lying in bed among a tangle of coverlets and sleeping cats, and there was no phone in my hand.  Now I remembered turning off the computer, setting the phone in the charger, and coming to bed the night before.
            "What the hell?" I said, one more time.  I almost never remember dreams when I wake up, and when I do, they're only vague fragments – nothing so clear or coherent as this.  And I hadn't been thinking about Joe Bethancourt, or that song, before I went to sleep;  I'd been working on a novel I'm doing with Rasty.  So why that dream, and why now?  I started to get up…
            And felt an unmistakable sense of Joe Bethancourt's presence, as if he were standing in front of me.  It was there for only an instant, but it was unmistakable.  It was followed by a sense of urgency, which nudged me to get up and come into the livingroom.  I yielded to it, definitely intrigued.  So I plodded out to my desk…
            …And saw that the computer was turned on.
            Now I distinctly remember turning it off, as I usually do, before I went to bed.  Turning it back on would have required pressing a recessed button, set into the vertical face of the power-box at an angle the cats couldn't reach, with more pressure than a cat could manage.
            So how did the computer get turned on?
            I could make a good guess.  So I clicked up my Word document files, and started working – and, sure enough, I had an idea for that last verse.
            As I said, I get inspiration for my songs from some genuinely weird places.

May, 2014


            High desert wind won't blow the songs away.
            They pace the streets of Tombstone with Doc Holliday.
            Long as they blow the stronger souls can stay.
            High desert wind, come blow again.
For half the year it's blowing dust and blazing sun-fire heat.
Then twice a year the solstice rains flood gully, field and street.
Earth and water, air and fire, as any wise soul could desire,
Shaped by ancient songs upon the wind –
Sung before, and they'll be sung again.     (Cho.)

The sun burns down on shattered rock like fire from the sky.    
The stars at night burn like a dream that no one can deny.
Light and darkness, stars and moon, petroglyph and ancient rune,
Secrets whispered softly on the wind,
Sung before, and coming around again.   (Cho.)   (M. Horning)

The wind that spreads the flowers' call, the pollen and the seeds,
Bears life throughout the desert lands that serves the spirits' needs.
Bannered clouds in glowing herds, paint the sky in ancient words
Of powers from the oldest days of men.
Welcome in, old friend.  Come sing again.   (Cho.)

--Leslie <;)))><  )O(    

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Sorry it's taken me so long to get back, folks, but I've been a wee bit distracted for the past couple weeks.  'Tis because Rasty was scheduled for heart surgery, and there were complications -- not with the surgery, but with the scheduling.

He was originally supposed to get the operation two weeks ago, but there were problems with transportation -- ours and theirs.  First, no way was I going to let him drive 30 miles across the valley for his surgery, so we had to get ADA-mandated medical transport -- a.k.a. Dial-A-Ride.  For unknown bureaucratic reasons, Dial-A-Ride would provide us with a cab from here in Buckeye to the border of Phoenix, but we'd have to get off there and pick up the city's Dial-A-Ride bus from there to St. Joseph's hospital.  That meant waiting at the border bus-stop for nearly an hour, and that -- coupled with the traveling time -- meant that we had to get up at 5 AM.  How jolly.  And the weather that early in the morning was distinctly cold.

Anyway, we got to the hospital on time, did all the usual pre-operation things, settled in the pre-op room and waited.  And waited.  Some two hours after the operation was due to start, the surgeon came in and apologized.  It seems that the operation couldn't proceed because a vital instrument (he didn't say what it was, but I got the impression that it was the arterial roto-rooter) hadn't arrived.  It came from Boston Instruments, and hadn't been sent because Boston airport was snowed in.  *Sigh*  So 'twas all for nothing.  We re-scheduled the operation for the next Thursday, and -- thankfully! -- got Sharan to drive us home.  We also arranged for her to do the driving for the real operation day.

The next Thursday things went a lot better.  Sharan drove us to St. Joe's, we got there in plenty of time, the pre-op work went a lot quicker because they still had the previous week's records, and the operation started on time.  Rasty's daughter Cheryl showed up, and we sat down to wait.  It took a long time, and Rasty didn't get out of the operating room until noon.  While he was snoring off the anesthetics on the cardio-recovery ward, the surgeon and the main operating nurse filled us in.

Yes, the miniature medical roto-rooter had thoroughly reamed out Rasty's right main cardiac artery, the miniature medical vacuum-cleaner had sucked out all the organic debris, the delivery-tube had implanted no less than three stents -- adding up to 88 millimeters, or about 3-and-a-half inches -- and the artery held up so well that the surgeon planned to go and open up Rasty's other blocked artery sometime this summer.  In other words, success!  Of course Rasty had to stay overnight, so I did too (part of the pre-op preparations included packing a huge duffel-bag for just such a contingency).

By morning Rasty was awake and eager to get home.  He groused and grumbled at the interminable wait for the techs and nurses to clear him for release, particularly since Cheryl had to go to work and couldn't drive him.  Sharan came to the rescue again, and we made it home with no further stress.  Rasty's main problem after that was ravenous hunger, since he hadn't eaten for a day and a half.

So for the past week I've been hovering over him, watching developments.  At first he was too tired to do much more than haul himself out of bed to watch TV, and that worried him.  I explained that the fatigue was the result of his body spending energy on healing itself, and he should give it time to recover.  He grumbled anyway, and made effort to exercise a little more each day.  Today he managed to drive to the bank and post office before feeling tired out, which mollified him somewhat.  He's now been a whole week without any angina pains, which is a pretty good indication that his heart's getting the blood it needs.  He's cautiously optimistic.  I'm a lot optimistic.  He's looking better than he has for the past year.

So that's why I've been letting my postings slide a bit.  Patience: I'll make up for it.

--Leslie <;)))><    

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bill Cosby and the Media-Hyped Stampede

Rasty loves to watch John Stewart, Rachael Maddow, The Nightly Show, and all that crowd -- even in re-runs -- which is how I happened to watch the re-run of TNS that roasted Bill Cosby over those rape allegations.  I noticed that, after a few lines of lip-service to "innocent until proven guilty", the host and guest panel gleefully went after the usual Politically Correct topics of "nobody believes the woman" and "Cosby's nice clean media image" and so on, cheerfully assuming that Yes He Did It.  For evidence, they're quoting Cosby's refusal to say anything about the subject.  It's assumed that an innocent person would talk and talk and talk all over the media, the way Cosby's accusers did.  Uhuh.  It never seems to have occurred to all these media pundits that maybe Cosby's lawyer warned him not to say a word about the accusations, so as not to give away any of the facts he plans to use in his court case.  No, Cosby has to be guilty because he won't talk to the self-important media!  Rrrrrrright.

Just judging from the few facts we know, I don't think he did it.

For that matter, I didn't think that O.J. Simpson Did It either -- based on observable facts.  That is, I don't believe it's possible to kill one's ex-wife and her new boyfriend, clean up the evidence, run home, play a couple rounds of golf, get in a limo and be driven (at normal speed) to Los Angeles airport, check in, and get on one's plane -- all in one hour.  I have personally traveled through LAX airport, and believe me, it's impossible to get through that airport and get on your plane -- even for a red-eye flight -- in less than an hour.  The timeline just doesn't fit.  The fact that the restaurant Nicole visited that night, and which her new boyfriend worked at, was a notorious cocaine distribution center -- and that Nicole was into coke -- is beside the point.  I think O.J. was ruined -- by the media -- for nothing.  The only people who profited from the whole incident were the media and the family of Nicole's boyfriend, who -- after O.J. was cleared in criminal court -- sued him in civil court, won, and walked away with most of O.J.'s millions, leaving him ruined for life.

Now let's look at Bill Cosby.  What we do know is that this obscure woman went to the police and, especially, the media, claiming that Cosby had raped her some 30 years earlier.  She gave considerable detail: that Cosby lured her to his home with promises of making her a star, gave her a drink full of Roofies, and raped her.  She claimed he did this several times, using his "charisma" to "hypnotize" her into compliance, and this is why she didn't complain for 30 years.  Since this story broke, some 35 more obscure women have made the same claim, repeating the exact same details.  We also know that Bill Cosby was born in 1937, which makes him 77 years old now, and that (like O.J. Simpson) he made himself very rich over the years.

Now let's start drawing some connections.  At the time when Cosby was supposed to have been playing Svengali to some 35 young women, he was a) married and raising a family, b) starring in a weekly TV comedy show, c) still doing stand-up comedy at any venue that could afford him.  From my own experience in showbiz, and what little I've seen of TV production and live gigs, I have to ask: when did he get the time -- let alone the energy?  Entertainment is a very time-and-energy-consuming business.

Another question: why did all these women wait more than 30 years to complain?  Cosby obviously didn't make them stars, or their names wouldn't be so obscure.  If he used them and tossed them away, that would have ended his "hypnotic" control over them;  such stuff has to be renewed constantly to remain effective, even when done by an expert psychologist.  Without such constant reinforcement, it wears off within a year -- and one thing Cosby has never been is a hypnosis-trained expert psychologist.  The only reason I can think of for the delay is that, over this many years, the witnesses' memories of that time would have grown a bit fuzzy.  For example, I can clearly remember my move from Chicago to northern California;  I remember the incidents well, but damned if I can recall what day I arrived in Albany, or what time (other than "afternoon"), or even what month.  If asked what I observed on December 14, 1983, I couldn't begin to say.

And why do they all tell exactly the same story, with the same details that the first woman spread around the media?  Even a compulsive serial criminal never repeats his crime exactly the same way, every time, and over the years needed to seduce that many women, even a serial rapist would vary his technique somewhat.  These reports sound as if all the women were reading the same script.  Ahem.

Finally we come to the question of motive.  What do all these women have to gain by making accusations against a 77-year-old comedian with an image as a kindly family man?

Well, first, he has a lot of money -- and remember what happened to O.J. Simpson.  When, not if, Cosby is cleared of criminal charges, the inevitable media-circus will color the attitudes of the public so that it will be hard to collect a jury that's really neutral -- and the rules of evidence for a civil lawsuit are much looser than for a criminal case.  35 women could divide up Cosby's millions quite handily between them.  That's not counting the money they could get for peddling books and media appearances;  any good public relations expert could tell you how to make money on a scandal.

For another thing, this will give them the one thing which they claim Cosby promised them, but they never got -- fame.

--Leslie <;)))><   




Monday, February 2, 2015

Politics and Poking: Critics and "American Sniper"

I haven't seen "American Sniper" and I'm certainly not going to comment on a movie I haven't seen;  what I'm interested in is the official reactions to it, and the underlying politics thereof -- which can get pretty blatant.  I remember when I was in 9th grade and came across an old issue of Readers' Digest, which contained an article denouncing that "communistic" and "misrepresentative" movie "The Grapes of Wrath";  I remember laughing my @ss off at the obvious political bias of the author, so visible at that remove of history.  I'm seeing the same kind of bias in the reactions to "Sniper" today, only in a different political direction.

For starters, there's Matt Taibbi's review in Rolling Stone where he complains at great length about how the movie is too shallow and superficial, because it concentrates on the hero's experiences and "panics at the idea of embracing more than one or two ideas at one time".  He goes on at great length about how the film doesn't mention "the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation", or "the failed WMD search" or "Abu Ghraib" as if these were facts that everyone accepts.  Now in fact it's known that Hussein did have WMDs -- Sarin gas, specifically -- because he used it on the Kurds, as the witnesses attest.  It also turns out that the Abu Ghraib photos, as both the army and the Red Cross determined, were a hoax.  Both of these could be subjects for whole movies by themselves, and the morality of the war is a subject for a documentary mini-series, at least..  Just how much political back-story does Taibbi expect to cram into a single 2-hour movie?  If he wanted to see film get seriously into the moral philosophy of politics, he should have watched the Atlas Shrugged trilogy.  Ah, but those three pretty obviously have the wrong sort of moral philosophy for him!

Seth Rogen won better than 15 minutes of fame for his Tweet comparing "American Sniper" to the fictional movie about a German sniper within the movie "Inglourious Basterds".  This is interesting, because less than five minutes of that fictional film actually appear on screen, and "Inglourious Basterds" is a blatant fantasy about a World War Two that never happened.  This is a rather off-base criticism, seeing that "American Sniper" is a biographical film about a real shooter in a real war.  Rogen seems to be implying that the film is pure government pro-war propaganda, when in fact the Obama administration has been trying to disentangle itself from Iraq and the whole developing Jihadi war, and "Sniper" -- as no less than Michelle Obama noted -- is at least partly about "the stresses of balancing love of family with love of country, and the challenges of transitioning back home".

And then there's Michael Moore's now-famous Tweet: "My uncle killed by sniper in WW2.  We were taught snipers were cowards.  Will shoot u in the back.  Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse."  He went on to add: "But if you're on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who've come 7K miles, u are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor."  This reveals much more about Moore than about "American Sniper".  He overlooks the fact that in World War Two the American troops were invaders, such as at D-Day, and that if you're shooting from "the roof of your home" -- or any other building -- you are a sniper.  If indeed he was "taught that snipers are cowards", this reveals something about the logical capacities of his teachers.  In modern (post 1600) warfare, 99% of all killing is done from a distance: with bullets or artillery or (in the last 100 years) bombers.  If anything, the sniper is more selective than the artilleryman, let alone the bomber.  The complaint about fighters who shoot and kill at a distance probably began with the first cave-man who was hit by a thrown rock instead of a swung club.  In fact, how "brave" or "neighborly" is the fighter who disguises him/herself as a civilian, hides among harmless civilians or uses them as human shields, and plants hidden bombs to be set off with a radio signal?  There's no logic in Moore's claims except "Americans bad, Arabs good".  This is particularly ironic when one considers that Moore has never served in any kind of real combat.

Frankly, I think these criticisms are motivated mainly by plain old jealousy.  "American Sniper" has proved hugely popular, and since its release a little over a month ago it has raked in a whopping $248 million.  None of Moore's or Rogen's movies have ever done anywhere near that good (and Taibbi's name isn't even known outside of Rolling Stone).  Rogen, who doesn't have total control over his movies, might be forgiven, but Moore -- who runs his whole show -- has no such excuse.  Moore's films have no plot, little continuity, indifferent or worse camera-work, flatly dishonest editing, and themes that are entirely preaching to the choir;  his success is due entirely to flattering the egos of those who share his political views.  Frankly, he couldn't convince anybody who knows anything real about his subjects.  As somebody who has studied and occasionally performed political propaganda, I can tell you that Micheal Moore is a lousy propagandist.

Whether or not "American Sniper" was even intended to be political propaganda, it has done a fine job of winning over far more of the audience than its critics ever have.  For that alone, it's worth seeing -- and I'll do that little thing first chance I get.  Only then will I venture to write a review about the movie itself.             

 --Leslie <;)))>< 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Watching History Repeat

To anybody who studies history, even as a hobby, it should be obvious by now that World War Three will not be fought between the US and Russia. Despite Putin's blustering -- most recently, sending his spy-ship to Havana harbor during the opening meeting between US envoys and Cuba (which earned the ship the nickname of "RS Showoffsky") -- it's clear that the glory days of the USSR are over, Russia is mired in the economic mess which the old regime brought on and can't afford anything like a major war.

No, World War Three will be fought between the Jihadis and everybody else.

Nobody else is so willing to ignore economics, politics, science, or anything else in their passionate bid to conquer the world.  Nobody else is so eager to believe their own propaganda, let alone try to sell it to the rest of the world.  Nobody else since... well, the late 1930s, which they seem determined to repeat.  For more similarities, go up on the Internet and search for Jihadist cartoons, films and TV shows which specifically attack Jews (followed by Christians, Hindus and Buddhists), not just Israel.  You'll find some incredibly offensive stuff, often copied directly from old Nazi examples.  Jihadis have been churning out this stuff since the end of WWII, and continue to, even as they howl outrage and death threats against a handful of cartoonists who pen much milder insults against Muslims, and they see no hypocrisy in it.  Besides fitting neatly any definition of fascism, the Jihadis copy faithfully the progress of the Nazis -- save only that they base their passion on religion instead of race.

Even more sobering is the Jihadis' faithful copying -- updated with modern tools -- the Nazis' strategies and tactics.  There's the infiltration of all available countries with a Third Column of immigrants/settlers who go recruiting among the natives, the artful suborning of native news media into pushing the Big Lie ("The Jews stole our land!"  "The West stole our oil!"), the preparatory -- or premature -- attacks intended to scare governments into submission, and finally the all-out takeovers of small neighboring countries. 

One can even see a parallel to the late '30s in the democratic countries' slow and unwilling awakening to their own danger.  Then, as now, the western press and politicians insisted that the "extremists" were only a small number, really not that dangerous, and everybody must be very-very careful not to insult or offend the "peaceful" majority.  Then, as now, the calculating fascists played on that tendency with claims that they'd been insulted, and the offenders must pay.

The major strategic difference between Nazis then and Jihadis now is the lack of a charismatic unifying leader.  The Jihadis have no Hitler, though plenty of ambitious sheiks and mullahs have vied for the job.  The secondary difference is that, being scattered over several countries rather than bound with nationalistic pride to any one, the Jihadis also fracture and factionalize into several sub-groups, which often compete with each other -- like Al-Qaeda competing with ISIL.  The third difference is their passionate impatience, which makes them underestimate their enemies and strike too soon.  The first attack on the World Trade Center, more than 20 years ago, was meant to economically cripple the US but can more accurately be compared to the Beer Hall Putsch.  The second, on 9/11 -- along with the other two hijackings and crashes -- was likewise meant to ruin the US's military and economy, but came off more like Pearl Harbor (except that the US did not follow through with the focus and energy our government had the first time around).  Also, the serious attacks began before the current Depression really started, and the 2008 Depression wasn't nearly as severe as the first one.  This means that, despite their intense recruiting among the poor -- particularly Black -- the Jihadis don't really have as big a Third Column as they claim or believe. (Likewise, as recent police raids around Europe have shown, thanks to modern police techniques, the various western governments do know who and where the Jihadis are.)

Despite the differences, particularly in timing, the similarities are striking.  History is indeed repeating itself, and only by understanding that can we forestall World War III -- or at least keep it from being as bad as either of the first two.

--Leslie <;)))><  



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Une Suggestion Pour le Securite de France Contre les Terroristes

Fait comme les Suisses faisant.

Arme et instructe toutes les gens.  Fait de toutes votre citoyennes un armee en reserve, observant et vigilant, prepare a agir immediatement contra un attaque terroriste.  Le danger des arretes faux est moins que le danger de la vulnerabilite a terroristes.

Nous somme toutes Charlie.  Laissez Charlie se defende.

...Et pardonne ma Francais terrible;  je ne l'ai etudie depuis 1978.

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish