Beware the Woo: Nausea Relief Bands

Once upon a time there was a show that specialized in debunking the myths that surround us on a daily basis. That show was called Mythbusters. Unfortunately for those of us still trapped in the real world of today, Mythbusters only ran for 20 seasons and their last season was in 2016. The show ended the year where it seemed we needed mythbusting the most and the real world has only gotten more mythbegotten since 2016. Beware the Woo is a tribute to the science that was present in-between the explosions that were in pretty much every episode of Mythbusters.


The Wife handed me a set of flimsy little fabric sweatbands. On the insides of the bands there were these little plastic dimples. I just looked at her.

“Those go against the bottoms of your wrists.” She said. “They worked wonders for me when I was pregnant. Give them a try, please? It can’t hurt.”

She was right. It couldn’t hurt. Nothing else had worked for me so far in the vertiginous hellhole that had opened up and threatened to consume me since my Meniere’s symptoms had accelerated and started to occur almost weekly. So I placed the little plastic bumps in what I thought was the right place on my wrist and wore the glorified sweatbands around for weeks. It felt like weeks, at least.

The vertigo, nausea and vomiting happened anyway so I threw them away in disgust and went on to the next thing, which was probably dosing myself with meclizine if I remember my timeline correctly. Who can say? I really can’t say for certain because I had forgotten everything about those silly little wristbands until this post appeared on the subreddit a few days ago:

I was wondering if anyone else had tried a ReliefBand yet and what their experiences were.

r/Menieres

I didn’t understand the reference at first. I though they meant Sea-Bands, which was the sweatband with the plastic pimple on the inside. So I riffed on that subject for a bit before I even googled ReliefBand and discovered that it was basically a wrist-mounted TENS unit that sent electric shocks into the point on the wrist that the Sea-Bands just pressed on. A wrist-mounted TENS unit that costs a few hundred dollars. I would have sworn I’d never heard of them before. Then I googled a little further and I discovered that there was a Mythbuster’s episode on the subject:

youtube.com

…an episode where they not only tested the Sea-Bands but they tested a version of the ReliefBands and about a half-dozen other anti-nausea myths. The only thing that proved to work reliably was taking a ginger tablet when you feel nauseous. I drink a ginger beer when my stomach starts to give me trouble, so this result doesn’t surprise me. I probably picked up the idea of eating ginger for tummy troubles from watching this very episode and then forgot all about it.

In a nutshell the idea that you can quell nausea by poking the P6 spot on your wrist is quackery. There is no established (or establishable) mechanism for these bands to do anything at all, much less reduce nausea. The Sea-Bands that I was mistaking the ReliefBands for work on exactly the same (non)principle. The P6 spot is an acupuncture point:

This wrist acupoint is known by various names: the Nie-Guan point, pericardium 6 or, more commonly, P6. Look for the skin crease that denotes where your palm ends and your wrist begins, and go down the wrist two to three fingers’ width, and you will have found P6.

mcgill.ca/oss

…and acupuncture is a pre-scientific attempt to explain why people get sick by ascribing healing and or sickness causing powers to rivers and streams of Qi (Chi) energy that supposedly flows through the body, power that can be harnessed by doing an oriental version of bloodletting; now reformed into sticking needles into your body, although some practitioners will still practice a version of bloodletting in certain circumstances. (see cupping. –ed.) The premise that both these types of bands are supposed to work on is the same one as the acupuncture point they utilize. One type of band is just more expensive than the other and has electrical stimulation to make it seem more effective.

…On the other hand if you convince yourself that these bands work and that stops the symptoms then there is no reason not to keep using them. I mean, you’ve already spent the money, might as well get your use out of the device. Half of the problem of dealing with symptoms is just reassuring yourself that you are dealing with them, even if the thing you are doing is just reassuring yourself. There is no arguing with what works. However, if all you are doing is tricking yourself into a feeling of non-nauseous normalcy, you could also trick yourself with a free piece of string tied around the same place on your wrist. Or any old bangle that creates the sensation that you associate with preventing the nausea.

The Wife says I’m an asshole on this subject. She still swears the Sea-Bands worked for her. She swore that even after watching the same Mythbusters episode that I now remember watching with her and the children; although she did question the wisdom of a wrist-mounted TENS unit when I brought up the subject of the ReliefBand. Then and now. I’m certainly not going to buy one.

The price of these woo devices varies based on the misery of the group being pitched to and their relative level of wealth. Sports teams pay a fortune for the silly tape they put on players and that is every bit the same kind of snake oil that all of these bands are. Magic magnetic or electrical surface contact that alters the perception and makes the person who is being treated believe that something in them has altered. Which is, as I already observed, half the problem.

If there is any doubt remaining on this subject after the Mythbusters deft analysis is over, a Pubmed article should put it to rest:

Neither band nor placebo prevented the development of motion sickness, regardless of whether the bands were used correctly or incorrectly.

nih.gov

Save your money for the ginger beer. You’ll enjoy that more anyway.

Purposefully Dark

I just finished watching the Netflix series Dark. To say I enjoyed the series would be an overstatement; my emotional state while watching it was more akin to the emotional state you might have while watching a train wreck in progress. I sat up and watched the last three episodes back to back this morning before tumbling into bed and sleeping like the dead for twelve hours.

When I woke up the show was still there in my head and so I felt compelled to write something about it here. Felt compelled to write something if not for other people, then for myself so that I can at least get this dark mess in my head out where I can analyze it. I have enough dark shit in there of my own to deal with.

I was dissatisfied with the conclusion of the show, but I was happy that there was a conclusion. There is nothing worse in the entertainment world than being teased along through dozens of episodes for a show only to discover that the story has no real ending. This story does end. Like LOST, like the director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect, the ending simply isn’t very satisfying and leaves you wondering what the message, the theme of the show, really was.

Set in a mythical town (Winden) in Germany next to a nuclear power plant, the story of Dark revolves around time travel and the ramifications of interfering in the progression of time. There are murders and missing children galore in the first season. There are mysteriously torn and variously mangled maps, books and photographs that are used as props in the show to keep you asking who is abducting and killing children and why?

The play of Ariadne (Araine, Tragedy by Thomas Corneille) that the character Martha is seen performing in during the first season is pivotal. There is a labyrinth to be navigated and a monster to be slain before the story is finished, but neither of these things are what we think they might be by the time we get to the end. Read on if you want to know more. There are spoilers beyond the break.

Continue reading “Purposefully Dark”

Shchedryk, 100 Years Later

“Carol of the Bells” returns to Carnegie Hall 100 years after its North American premiere on this stage, when New York audiences first experienced Ukraine’s unique choral tradition thanks to a historic tour by The Ukrainian Republic Capella. “Carol of the Bells” has since become a worldwide Christmas favorite. Hear it and other beloved Ukrainian carols in a once-in-a-lifetime holiday concert that also features contemporary choral works, a world premiere by composer Trevor Weston, and artists including conductor Daniela Candillari, soprano Janai Brugger, Ukrainian-Canadian singer Marichka Marczyk, the Shchedryk Children’s ChoirThe Choir of Trinity Wall StreetUkrainian Chorus Dumka of New York (as seen on Saturday Night Live), and Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America.

carnegiehall.org/Calendar
NPR – State of Ukraine – 100 years ago, ‘Carol of the Bells’ came to America — from Ukraine – December 2, 2022

Carol of the Bells is almost unique in the fact that it is a Christmas song that I don’t automatically loathe upon hearing the first chord. Every other Christmas song that gets airplay in the United States has been played so often to my unwilling ears that I can’t stand to hear the songs even one more time.

I never knew the history of the song before today. It’s a Ukrainian shchedrivka or New Years song that was introduced into to the United States back in the years between World War I and World War II, the last time that Ukraine was desperately trying to escape from Russian aggression, Russian oppression. Happy New Year, Ukraine. Here’s hoping 2023 finally delivers you from the Russia that you never wanted to be part of in the first place.

Bountiful evening, bountiful evening, a New Year’s carol;
A little swallow flew into the household
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
“Come out, come out, O master,
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have given birth
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, by selling them.
You have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife
If not money, then chaff from all the grain you will harvest
you have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife.”

wikipedia.org

The Carnegie Hall performance is tomorrow. Wish I could be there.

youtube.com/LindseyStirling
youtube.com/TSO

Sweeney Todd

I’m now solidly into my third year of giving myself haircuts rather than trusting someone else to not give me a communicable disease while trying to cut my hair, much less kill me under the guise of giving me a haircut.

I didn’t even know there was a thing called Sweeney Todd until I sat down and watched it with the Wife a few years before COVID struck:

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I had waited long enough to watch it by that point. It starred Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I really did need to see it even if the subject matter itself made me want to run away and hide. I don’t remember a thing about that movie. Not one moment aside from the blood shooting everywhere in a couple of scenes.

I can still remember how the barber in my hometown used to love to torment me with the buzzing clippers. I never got used to other people touching my hair, much less letting them near me with a straight razor. The one time a barber used one on me it was all I could do to stop myself from running away from the man who was just trying to clean up my hairline. Then I became aware that Sweeney Todd was a thing. Now I can’t stop thinking about him when I think about letting someone else cut my hair.

Yes, I screwed up my sideburns again. At least I won’t cut my own throat with the clippers.

Choosing Leaders

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

ChiCon 8 Day 5

With all of the masking we’ve been doing for the last three years I’ve begun to notice that there is something private and sensual about seeing other people’s lips. Or is it just me?

First panel of the day was What Does Justice Look Like? (Christine Amsden, Jean Bürlesk, Matt Mitrovich, Su J Sokol) The panelists all appeared to agree that criminal justice should look like restorative justice and not incarceration or revenge. I really can’t argue with that belief because it seems to be backed up by facts and experience.

Economic and social justice could best be achieved by simply establishing universal basic income (UBI). Once again, experience and evidence seems to suggest that it is the best way to address so many ills of the world and would go a long way towards saving society money since eliminating poverty with UBI would end most crime and address housing, food and healthcare problems. How do we fund it? Imagine that every moment in any life has an attached value that can be monetized and the individual paid some significant portion of that value. This is simply redefining what basic economic value is. An accounting trick that benefits us all. That’s my interpretation of the problem, anyway. Most people including the panelists seem to be caught up in the delusion of money.

How do we achieve this new justice? Talk. Consensus. Action.


My second panel of the day was Viewing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (David Stokes, Jack Glassman, Randall Roman, Vanessa MacLaren-Wray) I’ve had the date noted as a scheduled post on the blog for a few years now. I need ideas and text to populate that blog entry, ergo my interest in this panel. Eclipses happen because of Syzygy: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. This happens approximately twice a month. We don’t get eclipses twice monthly because the Earth, Moon, Sun system don’t quite line up, which leads to a lot of missed eclipses.

High ultraviolet and infrared light during low visible light portions of a partial eclipse is why you shouldn’t look directly at the sun without protection; at least until totality is achieved. Then you can look directly at it. Your pain sensors in your eyes protect you from overexposing and destroying your retinas during normal sunlight, however you can blind yourself by looking at a partial eclipse without ever feeling any pain.

So wear those protective lenses. There is a list of approved vendors on the American Astronomical Society website. One of the panelists had a handful of Rainbow Symphony give away glasses to pass out, the same kind of glasses that he hands out at eclipse events while performing his duties as a professor. He teased us with an image of the Coronado personal solar telescope. I’d still rather have a regular telescope and I’ll use the sun filters that come with one of those to look at the sun. A twofer.

There will be an annular eclipse in mid-October 2023, a preview of the total eclipse that will happen 177 days later in April of 2024. If you go to Albuquerque to see it you can ride in a balloon at the balloon festival and witness it, if that is your kind of thing.


The Wife and I broke down her art show display and packed it up for transport back to Austin. Very little art going back with us, which is the kind of thing you want to happen when you bring art to sell at a convention. We aren’t going to break even on this trip but we did sell enough to cover part of the costs at least.

After I finished lugging all the art back up to the room, I popped in to catch the last half of What Is Our Climate Future? (Angeli Primlani, Eli K.P. William, Mike Fortner, Vincent Docherty) I don’t know what was talked about before I got there but they seemed to be hung up on why mass transit sucks so bad in the US when it clearly works pretty much everywhere else in the world. I can answer that question. Social norms dictate structural development. Japan has better mass transit because social norms value the collective in ways that do not occur in the West and certainly don’t occur in the US, not even in the largest cities. If we want to limit climate change by getting away from individual car travel we are going to have to change social norms in the US. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that subject. Better to hope that auto-drive becomes a thing and that we can convince everyone to value shared resources like public vehicle transport. It’s a dream I have.

I discussed one of the subjects near and dear to my heart with one of the panelists as we walked down the hall. I may have to embroider the catalyst that I had in mind for one of the stories that I’m eternally working on.


Then it was closing ceremony time. The guest of honor for ChiCon 8 was originally going to be Erle Korshak. He died a year ago in August. None of us would be attending WorldCons today if it hadn’t been for the contributions of Erle Korshak. The convention became the open annual event that it is because he and the other early founders of speculative fiction fandom rebounded from the first convention in New York city and set about creating a repeating event that has continued until this day. Thank you Erle. We are all in your debt.

Steven Barnes and his wife Tananarive Due were tapped as Guests of Honor after Erle passed. I have read quite a few books of his that he co-authored with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Their podcast is at lifewritingpodcast.com. The Glasgow gimlet won best drink. Royal Manticorian Navy won best party. That’s it. The show’s over. Hope to see everyone in Glasgow in two years.

ChiCon 8 Day 4

Wind and light rain all day today in the Windy City, so Sunday morning was spent shopping in the dealer’s room. What I have learned over the many cons that I have attended is that parties and the dealer’s room are beasts of the same color. The less time spent near them the better off you will be. I’ve also discovered that if I don’t buy gifts for the women in my life while near a dealer’s room then I will regret ever being born until the next time I’m near one. So I decided to hazard a few minutes and a few dollars in exchange for future familial harmony.

While there I ran across Stonekettle again. As we sat briefly talking over the finer points of Presidential theft of classified documents, a handful of my fellow minions wandered up alongside me to bask in his presence. One of them just happened to be Brenda Cooper (Yes, that Brenda Cooper) I recognized the name from Building Harlequin’s Moon. I don’t think there is a Larry Niven book out there that I haven’t read. On my way to my first panel of the day I just happened to share an escalator with David Gerrold (yes, that David Gerrold) a truly weird random circumstance since I had just been listening to how Bob of B Cubed Press (the table where I found Stonekettle) was working with David on writing a novel in which Stonekettle was a character. Just another day at a WorldCon.

The panel I eventually ended up at was The Art of Eric Wilkerson. He played this Alan Watts speech as his advice for artists and creatives who think they can’t pursue whatever it is that they have a passion for:

Alan Watts – What do you desire?

I like this quote too:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

Alan Watts

Although that one could easily be seen as being in contention with the message in what do you desire?

Then we rolled into the Remembering Nichelle Nichols (C. Taylor-Butler, David Gerrold, Tananarive Due) panel. Rather than write more about that subject here I will simply link to my previous article:

The panelists referred back to the documentary that I reviewed in that piece many times. This was another airmeet.com event which means that if you paid to attend the convention you should have access to the video stream for the month of September.

As day four came to a close I realized that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Even at the slow pace that I’ve set for myself at this event, I am completely zapped and it’s not even 8 pm as I type this. Off to bed soon unless the Wife drags me out to the parties again tonight.

ChiCon 8 Day 3

Decaf today. It’s a good thing I’m planning on walking around outside this morning, I need to decompress. Unfortunately the architectural walking tour was a bust, poor communication between the convention planners and the museum that schedules the tours. We made up our own walking tour. We walked down the river to the lake front and then along the lake to Randolph and back uptown to the Cloud Gate. Then home to the hotel. It was a fun adventure in spite of the planning failure.

Today was mostly a rest day con-wise. I sat in on Using SFF for Science Communication (Annalee Newitz, Gretchen McCulloch, Jack Glassman, Leadie Jo Flowers) reference was made to Devs by the creator of Ex Machina. I’ll have to check it out along with the book Timescape. New concept learned today: repressive desublimation. Try to work that into a 15 second reference clip that can be summoned like a meme of Vogon poetry. Not doing that today. New podcast to check out: Lingthusiasm. Then the Wife and I went to see the entrants for the masquerade before turning in early. We had plans to go see John Scalzi DJ but just couldn’t find the energy to party. Early morning again tomorrow.

ChiCon 8 Day 2

Coffee for the second morning in a row. I think I may be pushing my caffeine limit. First panel was Technological Solutions to Environmental Problems (Claire McCague, Jill Engel-Cox, Karl Schroeder, Leadie Jo Flowers, Leon Perniciaro) I think the thing to avoid is screwing up the world worse than it is now by trying to fix it, al la The Colony or Snowpiercer (what does it say about us that we worry more about freezing to death than we do about frying? See Ministry for the Future for that scenario. My earliest memory of climate catastrophe scenarios was Silent Running. Not quite the same thing) A sun shade at Lagrange 1? In the scheme of things, that’s not as far fetched an idea as you might think. At the very least we’re going to need taller sea walls. Nine feet of ocean rise is already in the cards. We’re just waiting for the warming to catch up to the CO2 levels now.

BBC EarthThe Future Of The Oceans | Blue Planet II – Dec 10, 2017 (a suggestion from a fellow attendee)

The real thinker on the panel was Leadie Jo Flowers, in my opinion. Her idea is to get the next generation thinking in terms of doable scenarios, not overwhelming them with the hopelessness of an unavoidable dystopian future. Her education coordination website isn’t online yet, but it would be a worthy effort that I would devote some of my time to if it ever comes to fruition. (I think she said it would be called what if) Recommended reading from the panel:

A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet by Sarah Jaquette Ray

Waiting for collective efforts to manifest is probably a fruitless endeavor. It will take individual effort combined with government subsidy when they finally come online to get the majority of people to move in the right direction. In the end, the electric car will sell itself because it’s just a better car. I’ve owned one for nearly ten years already and I want a second one.

The next panel in the room I was already in at that time was for:

Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller by Alec Nevala-Lee 

Cult leader, conman, self promoter. He even designed a car, the Dymaxion. When it crashed and killed someone, he invented a story for why that happened that didn’t include the top-heavy design of the vehicle itself. He is the influence behind innumerable tech personalities whether they know this fact about themselves or not. Norman Foster was the architect who worked with Fuller, who had no formal education or licensure in architecture. Fullerene, the carbon Bucky ball, is probably one of the main reasons that people still encounter the name Buckminster Fuller.

I had an idea for standing seam triangular dome panels to prefabricate the geodesic domes with while I was listening to this talk. Not sure if that would help with the drainage problems, though. You still have corners all over the place that will trap and probably wick water into the structure. I’ve always been fascinated with Buckminster Fuller, like most people who stumble across the man’s legacy. It’s hard not to be, and that was by his design.

Then it was off to Yoga and Juicing Isn’t Fixing This (A. L. Kaplan, Amy Henrie Gillett, D. H. Timpko) a panel about coping with chronic illness. I write about the subject so often here that I felt I ought to at least pop my head in the room and see what was happening. People writing about their disabilities on their own websites is apparently a rare thing. Not a single person in the disability panel did what I do with this blog. I always knew I was weird. Giving yourself room to be sick in, while also striving to at least get out of bed and do something each day. Lessons I had already learned in the years I’ve been fighting chronic illness. The fact that I’m here at all is a testament to that.

I shook Stonekettle’s hand in the dealer’s room today. That would be my trip to Worldcon completed now. There were more panels to attend anyway after I had ravaged a few more portals in Ingress Prime. The Resistance rules the Worldcon portals. I missed the meetup for Ingress players today, but I did complete the mission for the convention on Tuesday, two days before the convention started. Yay me.

I had heard part of the discussion held for Science in Science Fiction Shows: The Good, The Bad, and the Amusing (Catherine Asaro) and the moderator didn’t venture into Discovery’s magic mushroom land so I had very little to say on the subject. I did manage not to get drunk at the bid parties tonight. That would be a first for me at a Worldcon. Goodnight all.

ChiCon 8 Day 1

We got here Tuesday afternoon and promptly crashed almost as soon as we got in the hotel room. TSA protocols about volumes of liquid kept us from traveling with the distilled water our CPAP machines required, so we hazarded our lungs with the remains of our bottled drinking water before passing out.

Wednesday was spent setting up the Wife’s art table display and the wall hanging display for her and the Daughter. There were frequent bouts of crowd anxiety battled by retreating to the hotel room to read the souvenir program (which doesn’t contain the actual program for the event. That’s online) and mapping out the events we plan attend once the starting bell is rung at 10 am. Today.

With my loosely planned agenda as a map, I head out onto the convention floor. Wish me luck.

S.C.Essai (SCSI) & Batting Ideas

10:24 am. Bumped into the con tour in progress (Dave Howell) outside the art show that I spent all day yesterday setting up. I can tell you all about one artist, at least. If I had been on time for the tour I would have known where to go for the table talk that I wanted to go to later.

The Wife and I bailed out of the first meeting we had on our schedule, a panel discussion of how to create things on the cheap. It was a useful discussion for people who hadn’t done 14 films on the cheap already. As I told her when I suggested going to the event “you should probably be on this panel.” The things you learn when you need a dozen millions to do effects and the producers barely have a few thousand in the bank.

My next event was a table talk with Jill A. Engel-Cox on the subject of renewable energy. She mentioned subjects that I had heard on a recent episode of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, the possibility of being able to generate geothermal power pretty much wherever we want to by simply drilling down deep enough to be able to harness the energy gradient between the surface and the deep mantle of the earth. Fascinating subject. It reminded me of the subsurface air conditioning systems that I had encountered in some high-end houses I had worked on back in the day, but with the opposite purpose. It’s always 68 degrees Fahrenheit just under the ground. Very effective cooling if you have the funds to do the drilling it requires.

We also talked about books and movies that involved environmental disasters, a subject that she will be discussing on a panel later this week. Of the many titles mentioned, Station Eleven was the only one that I hadn’t heard of before. I’ll have to check that one out soon.

This was the movie that I kept trying to remember:

Rotten Tomatoes TrailersThe Colony (2013) – Mar 19, 2013

The Wife and I finally tracked it down after we got back to the room. It wasn’t Snowpiercer (the title that kept being suggested by Google) because I hadn’t seen that movie and yet I knew that the movie that I had seen did exist. It took at least an hour of digging before I ran across a reference to the Colony on a message board somewhere. While I was spending time browsing dystopian films I took the time to buy and watch Snowpiercer. Weird movie. Weird movie starring Captain America, err, Chris Evans, the guy who will always be Captain America as far as I’m concerned.

The last event that I made it to was one that I had missed the signup for, but was allowed to sit in on anyway. Michael Green Jr. talked about effective outlining strategies for stories and debuted his web app Lynit. As the hour progressed I had a flash of insight. It was while he was manipulating the character/plotline linkages on screen that I saw the correlation to design and planning of buildings. An outline is to a novel or short story as the construction documents are to the finished building. An almost exact correlation that I had never realized before. I also see some possibilities in the web app structure that could be applied to online home design software that would allow the people who want to take an active hand in their new home design to be able to show how they want to use spaces and the connections between those spaces.

Valuable insights that I hope to put to good use soon.

The final event of the day was the opening ceremonies (Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane Anders) I was so tired that I feel asleep before they started. Luckily for me they were available online to watch later:

Chicon 8 Opening Ceremoniesairmeet.com

First day down! On to the next.