Beware the Woo: Diet & Supplementation

A Meniere’s diagnosis is frequently a right turn into a blind alley filled with misleading information that the sufferer has a hard time navigating out of. The fact that the disease is a syndrome (a collection of symptoms) rather than a disease with a single cause and effective treatments only complicates matters. Treatments that work for one suspected cause have no effect on symptoms that emanate from another unknown cause.

This fact, that there are multiple unknown causes for the cluster of symptoms named Meniere’s Disease, stymies the efforts of the doctors and the sufferers who simply want to make the symptoms stop happening. Time and again the question arises “what else can I do to treat my symptoms?” Time and again I reiterate the kinds of suggestions that are in my treatment article:

You may notice in that article that I dismiss, almost out of hand, the John of Ohio (JOH) regimen of treatment with diet and supplements. Nearly every person who reads that article and thinks that they’ve gotten something useful out of following the JOH regimen (or some other less promoted diet and supplement con) feels they have to pipe up and protest that they get something out of elimination diets, like going gluten-free for example, or some other thing that they are convinced made their symptoms go away.

The problem with diet and especially supplement regimens is that the data is completely anecdotal and there is no way to improve on this quality. Gluten elimination, for example, serves no purpose unless you have Celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity is a chimera that can’t be substantiated; and yet I’m routinely pestered by do-gooders to give up gluten when I’ve never noticed any ill effect from it’s consumption. Over and over again I run across people with sage advice about how I can feel better if I only eat better. If I ate more greens than I do now I’d be an herbivore, and still I’m told to eat better. It drives me nuts.

Supplements themselves are a problem because they are unregulated and frequently do not contain what they claim. Fraud is rife in the supplement industry, by design. Most of the gingko biloba supplements only contain traces of it; and the effectiveness of ginkgo for treating anything is still an open question. I take fish oil on the direct orders of my physician, and I have to wonder at the plethora of choices and claims promised on the variety of fish oil supplements every time I have to go get more. Unless you have heart disease, save your time and money and just eat more fish. That’s the correct answer.

Every time I buy and take a vitamin pill I have to wonder at the compulsion we seem to feel to take just one more pill for something or the other. I tested and eliminated every supplement of the dozens I started out taking when freshly diagnosed. None of them had any effect that I could discover. Only the fish oil and the daily vitamin remain and I’d give up the daily vitamin if I could figure out which vitamin or mineral I seem to need to keep my skin reasonably healthy.

All of us engage in behavior that has no real benefit to us but makes us feel better. I like a cup of hot herbal tea when it’s time to wind down even though it’s health claims (written right there on the box) have no real meaning. So long as you keep your gluten obsession to yourself it makes little difference to me that you engage in it. It’s the insistence that everyone has to follow along in your routines or your belief in your cures is challenged is when it becomes a problem.

I would prefer that everyone found a cause and an effective treatment for their symptoms rather than be stuck with a Meniere’s disease diagnosis and left to fend for themselves, but that isn’t the world we live in. I’m doing what I can to help those people who have even fewer answers than I do by pointing them towards known causes and effective treatments. If JOH or any other diet and supplement scheme had evidence of their effectiveness I would happily suggest them too. They don’t and so I don’t. That’s the long and the short of it.

If you have the money to spend on supplements and special diets and they comfort your mind, it makes me ecstatic to know this. Please do whatever you can to feel better (just as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else to do it) with the knowledge that what you do with yourself is entirely your business. If a newly diagnosed person has the resources to try these things, great! I don’t have those resources and I don’t assume anyone else does either; so consequently my advice when choose I give it is crafted to appeal to minimum expenditures and maximum results. Feel free to embroider on it as you will, but also feel free not to tell me about it. I’ll keep enjoying my bread and herbal tea and we’ll both be as happy as we can be trapped in our little chronic illness blind alley.


Beware the Woo: Antivax

I come from a family of science deniers. My mother and her family were Christian Scientist, mostly without my direct knowledge, going back at least two generations. I haven’t established yet who in the clan started following Christian Science first and brought everyone else along with them to share in the fun; but the fact is that the denial of science, medical science, runs deep in my family.

While my mother did stop going to prayer rooms to pray her diseases away, she never stopped repeating her mantra doctors don’t know anything. I believe she became a nurse later in life specifically to hack the system, to get her ideas about health and wellness into the practice of medicine. Ideas that included kinesiology and homeopathy and other things that I frankly didn’t start writing this article in order to discuss (those subjects are for another article. Or three. –ed.) I started this article many years ago without knowing that I had started it. I started it by being supportive of being vaccinated among the descendants of people who have questioned the validity of medical science all their lives.

Don’t get me wrong here. I have most of my vaccinations. I have them because my mother was not given any choice on the subject. Either I and my siblings would be vaccinated or we wouldn’t be allowed to attend public school in our small Kansas town, and she wanted her children to have an education even if she wasn’t especially fond of doctors and their poking, prodding intrusions.

So we got vaccinated because none of us had medical profiles that would have flagged us for being unfit for vaccination, as it should be. That didn’t stop our mother from sending us to Pox parties anyway.

Imagine my horror when it was brought to my attention that this was still a thing several decades after an effective vaccine for Chicken Pox was introduced. I doubt you can envision the state of rage that I was in at the time. Feel free to make the attempt anyway.

I had my moments of vaccine hesitation when my children were old enough to start getting their vaccines. By the time our son was old enough to get the last round of vaccinations, new vaccines had come out for Hepatitis B and of course we ran across enough internet cross-talk at the time to convince us to delay his course of vaccination for six months or so. But those fears passed because they turned out to be as baseless as all the other fears have been, and we went ahead and allowed him to get his last round of shots, shots that didn’t cause him to drop dead or get autism or any number of other stupid things that you read about on the internet.

If I’ve learned one thing about the internet it is that you don’t want to trust Dr. Google when it makes medical recommendations. Time after time Dr. Google gives me quack information layered in with solid information, and I have to spend time trying to sort out the difference every time I do a search on any subject that is medically related. Dr. Google and Dr. Facebook have done more to advance vaccine hesitancy in the last twenty years than any previous groups of quacks have done in their entire lifetimes.

It was because of this experience, attempting to treat a little-known and routinely misunderstood disease/syndrome in a universe seemingly dominated by quackery and fraudsters, that I stumbled across an announcement on a website and podcast that I know and trust:

…the antivaccine movement is more powerful than ever, having reached a level of mainstream influence that we at SBM would never have thought possible, even in 2019. Indeed, after the unexpected passing of Dr. Hall last week, antivaxxers swarmed on her social media, blaming her death on COVID-19 vaccines, as they have for so many over the last two years. That’s why we at SBM are happy to be holding a virtual screening of a new documentary on vaccines, vaccine hesitancy, and the antivaccine movement, Virulent: The Vaccine War.

I signed up to watch the movie almost as soon as I heard of its existence and the screening they were offering. If you too plan on watching it I wouldn’t bother watching the trailer:

I wouldn’t bother watching the trailer because it is essentially just the first five minutes of the movie, slightly edited. If you are even tempted to watch the movie, just ante-up and watch it. Don’t feel like you have to attend the panel next Sunday (7 PM, January 29, 2023) although I do intend to sit in and watch the Q&A myself. This is personal for me.

The movie could have been more hard-hitting, as far as I’m concerned. They could have gone into the fact that there is a fund for those people demonstrably harmed by vaccines, a fact that counters most of the arguments raised by those who cry foul because they believe they or a loved one was harmed. They could have taken apart the lies put forth by the leaders of the antivax movement in a point by point fashion (this is how I would have approached creating a documentary myself) what they did do works and probably will be persuasive to a large group of the population. The problem with this movie is the same problem that exists for vaccination itself. The people who need to watch the movie and take the lessons to heart will not bother to watch it, just as they will not bother to get vaccinated.

My version of Meniere’s disease is probably autoimmune related. My immune system was compromised when I was born and it has never recovered from whatever that initial shock was that has left me borderline asthmatic and seemingly allergic to everything I’m exposed to in the environment. I catch almost every communicable disease that I comes my way. I have never stopped wearing the N95 masks that COVID-19 made ubiquitous because I feel better when I wear one, even indoors.

…and still, I get all my vaccinations even though every single one of them makes me ill when I get them. I get them because the vaccination is easier to deal with than the actual infection is, and the vaccination is less likely to kill me than the pathogen I’m hopefully being immunized against. I get my shots because I care about the people around me. I get my shots because I care about maintaining my own health.

I should have stopped while I was ahead. I had a concession. She had said “I’ll get my flu shot and my kids a flu shot soon.” But I had already replied to her friend by the time she said this. Had already uttered the forbidden word mandatory in that next comment. So out the window went the concession. Out the window went common sense and decency. I was one of them. A state-ist. Someone willing to use force to ensure that the public good was observed.

This argument was about the flu vaccine. It wasn’t the first argument I’ve gotten into concerning health and safety, and it certainly won’t be the last. But this one was about the vaccine and the swelling influenza outbreak all across the US that year. Her friend had piped up that he wasn’t going to get a flu vaccination. Had never had one, had no intention of ever having one. The thread asked the question Anyone had a flu shot and still got the flu? This should have been my first clue about who I was dealing with. You can’t catch the flu from the flu vaccine. It simply can’t happen.

No immunization is 100% effective, and flu shots are less effective than immunizations for many other diseases, like measles. By one estimate, 33 to 100 healthy adults have to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza symptoms. But that one case might be you. It’s like insurance. How many houses have to be insured against fire for one house to burn and get a payout? Does anyone say, “I don’t need insurance because I’ve never had a fire”?

Immunization is a public health issue. Immunization protects the immuno-compromised from diseases that might kill them by providing a herd immunity shield around them, as well as protecting the individual from disease. So it isn’t just for you that you get a shot. You get it for any babies you might come in contact with, or any elderly that you might encounter. You don’t want to pass diseases to them and cause their deaths by accident. That is why you get your shots. Now, I’m a bit more militant on this subject than the average speaker. I come down hard on the side of the necessity of vaccination, even flu vaccination. I am one of those people who will likely die from catching some disease or other from someone who didn’t get their shots like they were supposed to. There is no demonstrable harm in getting the vaccination regularly. Vaccinations do n0t increase toxins. A flu vaccination can’t give you the flu. Antivaxxers pursue a demonstrably false narrative when they lay blame on vaccination for the many ills that plague modern man. There is no good reason out there to not get your vaccinations regularly other than out-of-pocket expense.

Are there people who become sick right after having gotten the flu shot? Of course, and it’s an illness they had likely caught before the shot and it took a few days for symptoms to appear, or it’s just coincidence (and it may or may not be the flu). The flu shot takes two weeks to confer protection, and it takes 2-5 days to incubate a flu virus. A person who does come down with the flu within a week of getting the shot was already infected when they got the vaccine.

Public health is where libertarian ideals, where the ideas of individualism, fall apart; and they fall apart because there is no way to address the needs of large groups of people if you don’t allow that the needs of the many can outweigh the whims of the individual. This is an error in US public health, this illusion of choosing whether you will abide by good public health practices. If a reliable universal influenza vaccine is discovered, I would push to have it put on the list of mandatory vaccinations given to children and adults, because no one should be able to chose to let someone else die from preventable disease.

This internet friend tried to insist that no vaccinations are mandatory! So how dare I try to force her to get one? However, vaccinations are mandatory in many places in the world, including most US states (the sensible states) some states have recently allowed religious exemptions that open the barn door to all kinds of kooky ideas that end up destroying the purpose of public health. California mercifully has reversed course and removed the non-medical vaccination exemption from the laws in their state. I wish more states would follow that example.

If you looked online for mandatory vaccinations back in 2018 when I had this argument I’m relating here, you would have seen that the woo was strong with Natural News and other purveyors of the antivax hysteria. Google ranked their sites as being worthy of quoting on the first page of results, as if those sites were an authority on the subject of public health. In the years since the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant pandemic of misinformation lead by the then-sitting President, Dr. Google has started to wrest back control of what gets spread as truth on the internet. I wonder if their discovery that they were destroying confidence in public health has happened soon enough, or is it already too late?

The argument with my online friend went rapidly downhill from the point of disagreement about mandatory vaccinations and she blocked me and went her separate way shortly after that revelation. Letting her children and herself be plague spreaders, no different than the zombies they resemble in behavior if not in appearance. Libertarian zombies roaming free across the land, spreading plague wherever they go.

If we don’t want to be forced to vaccinate, then the public health systems have to be crafted in such a way that rewards accrue towards acting in a positive public health fashion. The US currently has the world’s best cancer outcomes. No one treats cancer better than the US does because there is a lot of money to be made treating it, and desperate people with money who also have cancer will pay all of that money to be cured of their cancer. Anyone with money will spend all they have to enjoy one more day of life. We just don’t bother preventing cancer, or engaging in most other preventive strategies.

Like what you ask? How about bonuses for getting your vaccinations? Rewards for used rubbers turned in at a pharmacy as proof of safe sexual practice? OK, that’s a little gross, but how about not punishing women for taking precautions before engaging in sexual behavior? Birth control pills, morning after pills, all free and available for the asking. If the system was set up to reward good behavior, you would be paid to go to your annual physical. Paid a bonus for getting a cancer screening. Paid to get your vaccinations regularly.

The list of things we don’t do to encourage good health is dwarfed only by the things that produce bad health outcomes that are rewarded in the current system. Poor people economize on health because it costs money they don’t have. They don’t get regular checkups. They don’t get vaccinations. They go to work sick because they can’t afford to stay home. They eat cheap food which also happens to be bad for them because economics dictates what food is cheapest, and sugars (all carbohydrates) are cheap and plentiful while protein is harder to find and more expensive to buy. Bad health gets more expensive the longer it is left untreated, and in the end society picks up the cost because we don’t want to see people dying penniless on the streets. We pay more for healthcare now because we designed the system to perform this way.

That is the movie I’d like to see made, one that details how we could improve on the ductape and bailing wire assemblage that barely manages to maintain public health in the United States. The vaccine war is being fought today precisely because of the failings of our current healthcare system and our unwillingness to prosecute fraudsters like Andrew Wakefield, Robert Kennedy Jr., Del Bigtree, Bob Sears and so, so many others. We have to come to grips with the fact that fraud is a crime and that lying about known facts for the purposes of profit is fraud and should be prosecuted as such. If destroying the organized antivax movement doesn’t prove enough to see 90% uptake on life-saving vaccinations, then we can talk about moderating parental control in such a way that we can ensure that children grow up as healthy as we can reasonably be expected to guarantee.

Whether a free society can exist or not is going to be dictated by individuals being motivated to do the right thing without being compelled to do so. If you really cherish your freedom, you had better be sure that you are operating based on the best information available and not just the information that makes you feel better. Information that panders to your innate fears.

There is a price for knowledge. When we say that a vaccine is effective, there is a price for that. There is probably no better example of that than the Polio story. When Jonas Salk made his Polio vaccine there was going to be a big so-called phase three trial. 420,000 children were going to get his vaccine, 200, 000 children were going to get placebo. So the trial was completed and it was found to be remarkably safe and effective; and then Thomas Frances stood up on the podium and said three words: safe, potent and effective.

He knew it was effective because sixteen children died from Polio, all in the placebo group. He knew it was effective because thirty-six children were permanently paralyzed in the placebo group. That broke Jonas Salk’s heart. He couldn’t conscience giving 200,000 children salt water in the midst of what he knew was a yearly Polio epidemic. So it’s those gentle heroes we left behind who were never acknowledged because we were so busy celebrating that vaccine that we forgot exactly how we knew it was effective.

Paul A. Offit – Virulent: The Vaccine Wars

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.


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:

…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.

…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.

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

What Would Bunk Do?

He was known as Bunk to friends and family and he carried that nickname all his life. He earned that name fair and square at a very early age by retorting “that’s a load of bunk ” after being told something that he thought was bullshit. Bullshit was the kind of word he would reserve for private reflections on the bunk he encountered, but he knew bullshit when he smelled it all the same. You don’t have to be offensive in your rejection of other’s ideas. It was enough to simply dispute them, and he did that with emphasis.

He was a science man through and through. If you could prove a thing through trial and error, then that thing was a true thing and he stuck with it. His family grew to accept his judgements after awhile. What he said proved to be the thing that needed doing so often that most of them rarely bothered to disagree with him publicly. Sometimes when they encountered problems in their own lives and he wasn’t there to ask, they would even quietly ask themselves “What Would Bunk Do?”

He grew set in his ways, like most of us do as we get older, certain of many things that could not be proven. More and more of them as time went on. Not all experts are wise, and not all wise men are experts. The doctors that advised his last cancer treatment were of the first variety, and neither he nor they thought to look for men of the second variety to double-check their diagnosis. Blind faith in the practitioners of science can kill you just as surely as blind faith in anything else will.

The moral of this story is to always ask for a second opinion if not a third opinion and a forth one if necessary. Do not ask to find an opinion you agree with. Ask to find one that you disagree with, and then figure out why the disagreement exists. New technology can be a weapon when wielded by the wrong hands. Make sure you understand how it works, or at least that the experts you rely on understand it.

Bunk died in 1997 and so was spared from the insanity that has plagued this country he loved so much since that time. Still, I have little doubt that he would have declared today’s COVID vaccine hesitation a load of bunk given the situation we are in today. The science denial has gotten too obvious on its face. Its adherents too strident in their denial. The costs to the country and to the world are too high to not concede that vaccination is the way out of this mess.

I got my COVID booster shot today. I got my first dose as soon as the vaccine was available:

I had my doubts about mRNA vaccines at first. I had even more doubts that a vaccine created by Donald Trump’s (lack of an) administration could possibly create anything that worked.

Planet Money – Moonshot in the arm – November 5, 2021

It wasn’t until Dr. Fauci accepted the vaccine that I knew it was probably safe and that I could accept it for myself. I got second and third and forth opinions, too. Then I got my vaccination and tried to pretend that the world would go back to normal.

Unfortunately the Trumpists whose God-Emperor had decreed that the vaccines be made won’t allow themselves to be vaccinated because he also said the pandemic was a hoax and that the virus was no different than influenza or a cold. This is demonstrably untrue.

That all kinds of other treatments work against this hoax virus better than vaccines do. Why you need a treatment for a hoax is beyond me, but that hasn’t stopped dozens if not hundreds of people from poisoning themselves with the fake treatments that these con artists that work for and off of Trump are selling.

Six months have gone by since I got my first shot, which makes me eligible to get my booster shot.

Short Wave – How Long Does COVID Immunity Last Anyway? – September 21, 2021

This is the way immunology works. Some people get break-through infections after being vaccinated. This is what the percentage means when they say that a vaccine is XX% effective. the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective against the SARS2 virus that was circulating a year ago. They are both going to be less effective against the mutations that are currently circulating.

Why? Because the unvaccinated give the virus a chance to bypass the protection a vaccine offers by carrying their mutations near the vaccinated and thereby giving the virus a chance to test itself against the vaccine. Each new infection of a vaccinated person brings us one step closer to a new virus that can bypass the therapies completely, and then we will be back to square one again. Locked in our houses and hoping that something will happen that will release us from this hell that science denial has brought on us.

I’m beginning to doubt that we deserve to be saved from our own stupidity. But I got my booster anyway because there is still a chance that we might beat this thing. If we grow up. If we accept that science is real. If we ensure that the virus can’t spread by making everyone on the planet get their vaccinations.

Don’t tell me you are afraid of needles because you can’t be more afraid of them than I am (see the vaccination article) Don’t tell me that you don’t believe in vaccines or that this is all political bullshit. Science is real and people are really dying. Bunk would say “get your shots” in spite of the fact that some other sciences in today’s world would give him reason to question their veracity. Vaccinations are proven technology and they work if you get them. So get them so we can put this pandemic behind us. Please?

And someone wrote new words to an old hymn, and crowds sang it for the weeks it took to end the rotten regime. “Bring out your dead, there is no need for shame. Show every face and let us hear each name. Better to know, how many we have lost…than lie and say that no such deaths have cost…”

The pandemic has cost more than 793,000 American lives to date and we can’t afford to allow the unvaccinated to continue to help this illness spread and mutate. The vaccine has been cleared for almost all ages, all health conditions and is by far safer than risking the effects of the disease.  The Winter holidays are happening as I write this. Prove that you love your family by ensuring their best possible chances of health and prosperity in the new year by being vaccinated and making sure your family is vaccinated.

Tell that uncle or aunt, grandmother, grandfather or even young nieces nephews and cousins. Tell them to get vaccinated or they are not welcome at family gatherings. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts and read dozens of news stories about how to thread the conflicts of this time we find ourselves in. I don’t understand why opening the conversation with the truth is a bad thing. “Get vaccinated or don’t come to my home. Get vaccinated or I won’t go to your home.” This strikes me as a completely reasonable position to take, especially if you know that there are going to be people who could die from airborne diseases at the family gathering. State the rule clearly and right up front. Claiming any excuse to not be vaccinated is just a load of bunk.

Beware the Woo: Pox Party

Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker

Friedrich Nietzsche

Back at the dawn of time, before there was modern medicine, there was the flawed notion that the thing that didn’t kill you made you stronger. A broken bone healed back stronger than the original bone. Surviving a childhood disease meant that you had a better chance of surviving being exposed to the disease as an adult.

None of this is actually true. A broken bone is more brittle at the point of breakage and will tend to break again. Childhood diseases can cause adult diseases that are even worse. Adversity can hone tenacity, but adversity also hardens hearts and warps desires. One does not walk causally into fire hoping to get scars. That would be stupid.

My mother was a Christian Scientist. She didn’t believe in science or medicine in a general sense. Medicine had killed her mother as far as she was concerned, and she never forgave it for doing that. This was also not true, but there was little point in arguing with her about the facts of health, disease, and the slow acquisition of knowledge. My mother went to her death denying she had cancer and refusing treatments for the cancer that she had been diagnosed with. This is what happens when you deny science. When you deny reality.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of staying a few days at a friend’s house for a pox party when he was infected with some disease or other that caused little red pustules to appear on your skin. This had been a common practice in generations previous to mine. In the time before vaccines were available for the many kinds of infections that can kill us. Some diseases, it was decided, were better to catch as a child because the disease caught as an adult could kill you much easier.

The people back in the early 1900’s didn’t know about Shingles or the fact that it was caused by the same virus that caused Chicken Pox because they had no tools that could discover these tiny bits of life code that float freely around us and in us. Not until the creation of more powerful microscopes could they see that there were infectious agents even smaller than bacteria, and it was decades after that before they could sequence the DNA and determine which viruses did what things to people.

They just knew that sickness was all around them, and that children were stronger than adults were. Sometimes these children died from the infections they were exposed to, but those were the weak children anyway. At least, that is what the parents of the surviving children told themselves. By 1968(ish) when I was taken to the pox party that I remember, there were vaccines for most of these infectious diseases, and the children around me had been vaccinated with the early versions of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) That vaccination is on my shot record as being given to me and it would have been required of all the other children, too. There was no vaccine for Chicken Pox until long after I was too old to get it, though.

Ever anxious to engage in whatever alternative medicine that was being practiced around her, my mother dutifully surrendered me to the quarantined house and I was exposed to whatever it was that my friend was sick with. He had a pretty bad infection, and several of the children who stayed with him also had pretty bad infections. None of them seemed to lead to any complications, but it is hard to judge the harm of an action until some time afterwards. The virus that causes Chicken Pox is one of the herpes family of virus, it stays with you all your life once you have caught it and causes Shingles in old age.

I had been exposed to some form of herpes virus when I was born. Being exposed to its cousin may or may not have done anything to my immune system, it is really hard to say. What I do know is that I never had a rash like the other children had and I always wondered why that was. Knowing what I know now, I wonder if the previous encounters with herpes had primed my immune system to ward off its cousin, or if the same immunity blindness that allowed the one to persist would also allow the other to persist?

In any case, I wasn’t interested in experiencing the slow torture that Shingles wreaks on its sufferers so I opted for the Shingrix vaccine a month or so ago. I just wanted to see what the vaccination did to my system and whether it altered the symptoms of Meniere’s or not.

Contrasting that vaccination with the COVID vaccination and my previous experiences with other vaccines, I have to say that the pain levels came close to echoing the Pneumococcal vaccine without the golf ball sized lymph nodes that made the experience so weird and hard to endure. I can’t tell yet if the vaccine will do anything positive or negative with Meniere’s symptoms but at least I probably won’t be getting Shingles anytime in the future, knock on wood. (promptly bashes self in skull)

For all you young mothers out there I just want to say, don’t take your children to pox parties. Just don’t do that. You never know what the other children are sick with; and if you think you do know and trust the doctor’s diagnosis of the disease (this is the only way to be sure) then why don’t you trust his recommendations for treatment too? Get your children vaccinated and stop this insanity please.

Beware the Woo: Weatherx

The WeatherX app on the Google play store is just a promo for buying their damned ear plugs. Ear plugs will not help me, what I need is an extremely sensitive pressure gradient app or for someone to buy a weather monitoring station for the house. Gifts are accepted.

The Wife calls me her human barometer:

Even so, the only time I’ve noticed symptoms directly correlating with pressure changes has been mad swings of over an inch or more. Most often the onset of symptoms is retroactively attributed to weather changes because weather change occurs so frequently that it’s easy to mistake the coincidence for causation.

This is aside from the days that are high pressure with dense cloud cover where I end up sleeping all day and only wake up if the weather lightens or it starts raining, which mysteriously seems to change everything for me. I can be started awake in an instant of good rain and I don’t know why.

I briefly installed the Weatherx app hoping for some insights into a linkage between pressure and symptoms. What I found was the observations above. The app only exists to get you to use your Weatherx earplugs, which I didn’t own and so consequently was annoyed by its notification to “put in my earplugs” when I didn’t have their earplugs to start with and wasn’t ever going to buy them.

I fail to see how plugging the outer ear makes any difference when the atmospheric pressure we’re swimming in is exerted on every inch of the body and is reflected directly in internal spaces by the fluids in our bodies. This is why I never bought their earplugs in the first place.



I appended some further thoughts to the brief paragraph that I originally wrote in frustration on discovering the truly pointless use of the Weatherx app. Their earplugs cannot solve the problem of pressure changes in the ear because the pressure changes are everywhere not just in the ear, whose pressure is not magically kept unchanged by sticking a plug in it.

I dismissed the Weatherx earplug scheme almost immediately upon learning what it was they were trying to sell me, and for what reason. I’ve now appended further thoughts because several Menierians have bought these things and can’t figure out how to use the effectively. There is no effective way to use them. They are a scam.

Beware the Woo: Karma

Karma is about feeling comfortable, rather than acknowledging the cold hard truth: he got away with it. Sometimes, people get what they deserve, sometimes they don’t. If we value truth over superstition, only then can we learn more about how to actually avoid these problems in the future. As long as we have perspective by which is determined by probability, there is no reason to think that karma actually exist.

Josh Bocanegra
Why Coincidences Are Meaningless – Richard Dawkins (YouTubeDailymotion)

Probability is the best avenue of attack against the concept of Karma, but the fact that bad happens to good people demonstrably defeats the notion of Karma.

Supernatural? Try zero-time quantum tunneling, for example. heh.

Earl Cooley III

Comments from Facebook on this image I shared. I miss Earl.