Worth it all?

And so we go from one breath to the next

One ray to the other

And we can’t help but think

And that’s ok

But it sure is busy

and it sure is quiet

wondering, obsessing

focusing, staring

We does not mean all of us

And I does not mean me

around the corner is the vanity

of the next end of the next rainbow

no I don’t think that forever is now

and I don’t feel that substance is void

But a part of me understands the journey

of getting to nowhere and back again

I love it and them and her and this

but I desire that and these and those

and I am preaching a message

that is not saving me

and I am reaching blindly into the darkness

only for the sacred prize to be out of reach

and I care

I do

And I scorn

I do

what about the children in Nigeria….

What about them?

And what about my children?

How much hunger is ever going to be justified

and how much loneliness is ever going to be full

how painful does it have to be in order to be recognized

simply as painful

Come Lord Jesus

I heard you in the garden

and I hid myself

for I am naked

and ashamed

I am a fornicator and an adulterer at heart

and my bed is undefiled?

I am guilty of manslaughter

I think

but I am the mouth of God?

This pain is never going to go away

or is it

am I simply feeling sorry for myself?

temporal becoming is an illusion?

but I am stuck in the now

it should have been enough

so why isn’t it

my consciousness is me

and I leave my body

only to be sucked back in

I cry for them

only to end up crying for me

this can’t be right

is it

what is right

and so we measure, we compare, we strive

and we bask, we sigh, we bow

and we groan, we grunt, we inevitably…

inhale deeply….

and we push on

although at some level it all feels so wrong

there is still air

but it is going

there is still light

but it is fading

every now and again

life seeps through

a glass of red wine

a laughter – searing through our soul

a promise of eternity

an affirmation

a compliment

an act of worship, adoration

bewildered awe

“it is really good”

it’s all good

it’s all bad

I am stuck in between

I want it to be…

but I am not always sure

if it’s

worth it all….

I hope it is

I hope it will

although I don’t believe it

although I don’t always see it

It’s all good

It’s not at all bad

although I don’t hate it

although I hate it

it is life

it is mine

I don’t want it

I want to share it

what’s the worth

if I get to keep it

if I find it

I will lose it

and if I loose it

I will find it

so please take it

because i can’t take it anymore

that sounded better in my head

a moment ago

seconds in the future

i might, i should, i will

fuck them if they can’t take a joke

bless them for who they are

they are precious

so fucking damn precious

and beautiful

and fragile

and special

and rough

and lovely

and dirty

and worth it all

In loving memory of Tannie Oufie

My wife and I feel like we have lost a family member.  Even though we saw this person only once – and each of us separately at that.

In fact I am not even sure that the Tannie Oufie that I saw is the same as the one that Carla met years later :-).  But I suspect there are only so many Tannie Oufie’s out there.

Tannie Oufie was one of those people who may just restore a person’s faith in the charismatic movement.

Whatever she shared was done with complete honesty and openness and ‘accurate’ to the degree where it defied my logic.  And to top it off she even declined an offer for financial support.

Tannie Oufie literally saved my life on more than one occasion.

And now she is with God.

And I cannot remember when is the last time that I felt such a loss over the passing of a person while not actively mourning the fact that they are not present with me anymore.

I would have ended by saying “rest in peace tannie Oufie”…

But I don’t really believe she is resting 🙂

Untitled (but scripture quotations is from the ESV)

Today the darkness is all around me.

It could be possible to say that I feel forsaken but the cliche has been taken – and anyway it doesn’t sound cool 🙂

I woke up this morning with vanity in my heart and I have been wrestling insignificance for the whole day.

In the past no amount of medication could persuade me that everything is not vanity.  That is not an emotion it is a conclusion.

On days like this pornography calls very loud.  So far so good but not because of me.  Possibly because of my prayers for deliverance.

Insignificance would have been fine if the possibility of hedonism existed but the mere pain of existence has rendered any possibility of even socially acceptable hedonism null and void.

One of the worst things is that I am hurting the ones I love.

I stopped telling them that I want to die because I see the pain in their eyes every time I do so.

It is probably time to go for counselling again but counselling is expensive and 45 minutes a week only.  Not going to see keep me alive.

And I don’t expect God to come to my rescue.  I suspect God to do just enough to keep me in pain.

And I don’t expect the world to care.  And I don’t blame them because I sincerely understand that my story is a dime a dozen in a broken world.  Not looking for pity I promise.

A very good friend and a sincere brother in Christ recently separated from his wife.

I am aching with him and for him.  One thing that is good about the darkness is that it makes you extremely sensitive to the agony of your kin.  Naturally I am not saying that God has a purpose with the darkness.  The darkness exists because the world is irredeemably broken.

At some point you actually feel that it is becoming ‘wrong’ to fight back and try to get up every time.  Since the general direction is never forward at some point it actually feels like the right thing to ‘give up all the way’.

If I had a dime for every time I heard a prosperity preacher say “if He did it for me he can do it for you”.  Yes and if He allowed scores of babies to be thrown into the Nile river He can certainly allow the same to happen to me.

Understanding the principle of justification does not make this any easier.

Pushing through takes faith.

Something that I have never had.

On days like today their isn’t even enough in me to say f*$k them if they can’t take a joke – and mean it.

I did invest emotionally in two courses on functional medicine.  Not enough hope to hope against hope but it will be nice if it pays off.  I am sick and tired of allopathic medicine.  It is a misguided prison at best and poison that deserves the fires of hell at worst.

Slowly coming to grips that my motives for wanting to study medicine was even worse than I thought.  Probably wanted affirmations just as badly as I wanted to make the world a better place.

Not even Watchman Nee is helping anymore.  Can’t figure out what it is I am not ‘reckoning’ correctly.

Just know that I am a disappointment.  Can’t get myself to swallow the frog either (swallowing the frog means to allow the thoughts to run their full course and not to resist them so that they are ‘proven as harmless’ even if true)

Not looking for pity – although it is understandable if it looks like it.

Wanted to really ‘capture the moment’.

Not easy to describe the feelings afterwards and since this is supposed to be a psychotherapy exercise thing, thought I might as well give it everything I have.

On days like today there is a huge empathy for the rest of us who also suffer.  And for the most part it is sincere.  The guys standing at the stop sign looking for work really breaks my heart.  I have the sincere desire to take food for them on a frequent (perhaps weekly) basis.  Just don’t have the strength – reaching out to them actually serves to remind me of how desperately incompetent I am.  I can imagine that their lives are not easy.  I am extremely thankful that they have chosen an honest work above the murders and rapists who threaten our existence in this country and I want to tell them every time I see them but I suspect it will be as empty to them as the one in ten patients who compliment me everyday.  I wish there was a way I could reward them.  Naturally there’s nothing – I made some pretty bad financial choices myself and the darkness saw to the rest.  Now there’s not even enough for a PS4 – pathetic but true.

And too tired to hate.  The politicians can kiss my ass but that’s about as far as I go.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

No faith here.  Don’t know How to get it.

Luk 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luk 17:6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

A part of me sees this as an encouragement.  To the dark part of me it is condemnation.

A poem in my native tongue

(a 'blatantly' religious poem about the biggest sacrifice ever and the overall discomfort   associated with it and life)

Dit is die dief wat gee
die kind leer ANC
dit is die poef wat val
dis al

Dit is die sink plaat deel
van snot en goud verbeel
as nog die crime wil val
dis al

En gee 'n bietjie om
vir die orphan wat se tanne uit wil kom
krap nog 'n krummel brood
langs die tafel kwyn die hond van hongersnood

En positief..
hierdie status maak my negatief
en dit gee my baie ongerief
want die grafte vat die plek waar ek bou
aan my koninkryk
en dit wil vir my so baie lyk 
asof ek dit nie sal mis kan kyk
hierdie bloed is glad nie reinig gehou

Kan nie die hande deel
die kleur is nog te veel
al is ons al te kaal
dis al

Kan nie op liefde teer
is bloed dieselfde kleur
en wysheid nie dalk mal
dis al

Maar gee 'n bietjie om
vir die snotkop-kind vas aan die selfmoordbom
bewaar net eers die dier
wat die ware toegang is tot ons plesier

En positief
elke status maak my negatief
en nog steeds leef ek in ongerief
want die kayas vat die plek waar ek bou
aan my aftreegeld
want die koue skouer is my held
en ek dink terug aan my pa se beld
is die bloed dan tog nie meer werd as geld?

Al is die antwoord nee
die hart van om te gee
dit is die sonde val
dis al

dis bloed deurdrenkte leem
die kruis weer op te neem
die einde aan te val
dis al

En gee 'n bietie om
vir die dienaar wat wil vra om in te kom
en krap 'n krummel brood
vir die koning 
binne in die kind se nood

En Positief
is die uitwerking van negatief
op die vlees se baie ongerief
en die graf is wel die plek waar ek bou
aan sy koningkryk
want dit will vir my so baie lyk
of hy elke een nog wil bereik
met die bloed gestort vir my en vir jou

HIV and the settlers – the one thing Thabo Mbeki might have been right about

This one is going to be hot so I need to clarify a few tings before I start.

  1. I believe that HIV infection will undeniably progress to AIDS in all but a very small population of people who do not have the relevant CD4 membrane receptor for the virus to attach on.  These people may still spread the virus but apparently will not develop AIDS
  2. I advocate for all South Africans to screen themselves for HIV on a regular basis and if positive to monitor their CD4 counts.  As per our national protocols I advocate for anybody with a CD4 of less than 500 to go onto anti-retroviral medication.
  3. I understand that, outside of blood transfusion, needle stick injuries, unnatural amounts of body fluids on open wounds and mother to child transmission, the only way of contracting HIV is through sexual contact.

However there is another couple of facts about HIV that need to be reviewed before I can get to the ‘juicy’ stuff

  1. The World Health Organization bought into the idea that there is compelling evidence that HIV transfer is considerably less from women to circumcised men than uncircumcised men.
  2. Although it is true that the amount of sexual accounts outside of stable relationships in South Africa is unprecedented.  The SABC reported that, in 2014, 20 000 of our learners fell pregnant and that 223 of that number came from primary schools.  The question however is not, how many people are having casual sex, the question is rather:  can we correlate the extreme ‘promiscuity’ with our numbers of HIV.  What about countries where prostitution is legalized like Holland and Eastern Asia where westerners go for ‘the experience’.  I won’t say anything about human trafficking in East Asia as I don’t have numbers but suffice to say that, as bad as things are over here, I do think casual sexual encounters are extremely ‘prevalent’ in those countries.  Yet HIV is almost exclusively a sub-Saharan problem.
  3. In researching the effect of vitamin d on various diseases I found a massively interesting article on a study done in Tanzania.  The web-site is vitamindcouncil.org I refer to them for most of my vitamin d information.  The article can be read here and it confirms an association between HIV disease progression and vitamin D status.  The article speculates on whether Vitamin D may play a more active role in prevention but nothing is confirmed.
  4. One of the most sensible articles I have been exposed to from an HIV denier (an HIV denier is somebody who denies that HIV infection alone is sufficient to cause disease progression to AIDS) is from Dr. Bathmanghelidj and can be read here.  Dr. B has three articles on HIV on his web site watercure.com.  As much as you may hate HIV dissidents one thing that cannot be denied is that, at least in the early stages, a significant number of the HIV deniers were highly sophisticated scientists.  These people were driven into a corner and publicly discredited (which is a damn shame because their papers are ‘real scientific papers’ about honest speculations – I have read some of these papers and at least the preliminary conclusions make sense to me) following the success of ARV’s but I personally have a feeling if less politics were involved a lot of these scientists would have assisted us in finding a cure much quicker than we are.

So enter our former president Thabo Mbeki.

The man was really into ‘black consciousness’ and ‘African renaissance’ and all that.  However he introduced a very nasty ‘seed’ that Madiba worked hard to get out of our systems.  During Madiba’s reign I distinctly remember that no emphasis was placed on ethnicity at all.  Every label possibly distinguishing black from white etc.  were removed.

However after a short while into the ‘new president’s’ appointed term I remember having an emotional reaction when I had to fill in an x-ray form and it had the names:  black, white, indian and coloured  on it.  I can’t remember the exact details so I could be totally wrong about this but I do remember that Mr. Mbeki subtly moved us towards distinguishing again that we were, in fact, not the rainbow nation that Madiba and regime insisted we were.

Seemingly Mr. Mbeki had a vision for black people.  If time allows please read Mbeki’s african renaissance speech in 1998, the very beginning of his term.  Look we can say what we want but this is a good speech.  He apparently wanted black people to ‘rise out of the ashes’ and throw off the stereotypes that he perceived were hanging around them at the time (in a way I actually agree that those stereotypes were present in the minds of a lot of people but I would argue that he failed to realize that the stereotypes were racist and not worth his time and effort).  In his view rather than denying that black people were different from white people and claiming a ‘rainbow nation’ they were to rather embrace the whole idea of being black (and different) and push it to even greater accomplishments.  I have an idea he wanted to establish black people independently of everyone else.  Nothing wrong with the idea in essence but his timing was flippin’ terrible.  At that time most of us were still hurting from the realization of what ‘really went down’ and the truth and reconciliation commission utterly failed to breech the gaps that existed at the time (in my view the truth and reconciliation commission would have worked if they simply waited a few years.  I understand that there was a ‘need’ for amnesty for the so called ‘war criminals’ but I believe that matter could have been handled more effectively on a separate basis).  So all he eventually succeeded in doing was opening up the gap between black and white a little wider.  And this in a time where crime was beginning to sky rocket and while white people are nowadays just as much in the news as their black counterparts at the time false stereotypes were abounding.  Something we really did not need back then.

And then the Aids controversy.

I don’t think he ever realizes how much he, by himself, has weakened the case of the HIV dissidents / deniers.  At the time there was a documentary “House of numbers” that really fueled the controversy and spiked it way out of proportion.  The documentary, I believe, has been uploaded onto Youtube.  I did not watch the full documentary.  I only watched ‘behind the scenes trailers’ and read a lot of the comments and controversies surrounding the documentary.  Being me I thrive on controversies so naturally that was where you would find me during those days :-).  House of numbers essentially claimed that the HIV question was far from settled but that the HIV theory was mostly driven by pharmaceutical companies.

The politics of the whole thing were most unfortunate because people like Mr. Mbeki latched onto it.  I have tried to understand his motivations for saying the things he said.  He was obviously not stupid but he said things that were so obviously devoid of truth and afterwards he acted like he never said it.  For a smart man to act that dumb he had to be extremely passionate about not seeing what was in front of him.  Consider this quote:

(Start quote)

Interestingly, in a recent article Professor Willie Esterhuyse of Stellenbosch University discussed issues about perceptions of Africa that are related to the matters raised by the two Members of Parliament.

He quoted one writer as having written that, “Africa has been effectively demonised in a post-colonial discourse of perpetual catastrophe and unnatural disasters”. Another, referring to the way the West discussed the issue of the incidence of AIDS in Africa, said: “we are witnessing a fundamental reorganisation of Western racism, as the constitutive colonial analogy between race and class is dissolved, and African blackness is re-conceptualised as an analogue of the sexually perverse.”

With regard to the latter, Professor Esterhuyse quoted “a respected academic” whose comments were published in ‘Rapport’ on 27 January 2001. The academic had written: “Because (Mbeki) refuses to confirm the white perception that blacks are promiscuous, he fails to give critically important leadership on the Aids epidemic.”

This “respected academic” wanted us to accept the age-old white stereotype that we as Africans are sexually depraved, which he/she described as “the white perception”. The leadership we would then provide would be to act as the loud black propagandist communicating this “white perception” to the black majority.

According to this “respected academic”, the task of leadership in this instance would be to confirm the gratuitous insult directed against Africans, which has been part of the armoury of white racism for at least the last 300 years, that as the academic said, “blacks are promiscuous”.

All these examples relate to the phenomenon described by one of the authors quoted by Professor Esterhuyse who wrote that “Africa has been effectively demonised in a post-colonial discourse of perpetual catastrophe and unnatural disasters”.

(end quote)

I found the above from the Nelson Mandela foundation website at this link.  It is from a letter written by Mr. Mbeki in which he goes off on a report written by Professor Esterhuyse.  Seemingly Mr. Mbeki was deeply troubled by the stereotypes that he perceived as “blacks are promiscuous”.  He was deeply committed to eradicating this mind set and ‘showing the world how wrong they are’.

So why am I writing this?

Because ironically I find myself believing – with or without him that the prevalence of HIV among black South Africans has only somewhat to do with promiscuity.  Make no mistake – promiscuity is a problem in this country.  For a deeper ‘insight’ into some of the ‘politics’ that drive our young towards behaving the way they do I encourage people to visit the site:  diaryofazulugirl.co.za.  One of the ‘blogs’ there is ‘confessions of a sugar baby’.  One of my black, female colleagues told me that the stories written there are all too true even though the work is considered to be fiction.  Sure promiscuity is an issue but what we have to constantly ask ourselves:  Is the promiscuity that we see in sub-Saharan Africa enough to account for the massive discrepancy that we see in our HIV numbers?

Of course to a lot of conservative people this is a no-brainer.  No sex, no HIV they reason.  It is simply ‘God’s punishment on a promiscuous life’.

Sure – whatever, but my problem is “why is God only punishing sub-Saharan black people?” (naturally I don’t think it’s God but you get the point).

Enter vitamin D once again.

I believe that vitamin D is hell’s best kept secret.

You see.  If we take any plant and we put it out in the sun.  But we don’t give it water – it will die of course.  However nobody would go as far as saying that the sun is bad for a plant.  Everybody knows that the chlorophyll inside the plant converts CO2 into glucose and Oxygen with the help of sun light.  The solution is not to remove the plant from the sun but to give the plant more water while keeping it in the sun,

Turns out the same might be true for our skin and vitamin D.  Vitamin D apparently is so important to our bodies that every single layer of skin is able to synthesize vitamin D from cholesterol and

guess…

wait for it…

Sunlight!!!

Problem is a couple of years ago scientists discovered that there is a link between sun exposure, sun burn and skin cancer. Subsequently everybody was told to “get the hell out of the sun”.  All fine but what happened is that we neglected the most vital component in vitamin D synthesis.  And vitamin D is important.  Boy is it important!  Vitamin D does everything from boosting the immune system to keeping the healthy integrity of blood vessels to ensuring bony and mineral health to reducing inflammation.  The list goes on and on and on.

And apparently Vitamin D plays a role in the disease progression of HIV.  And Yes almost all HIV infected people just ‘happen to be’ significantly deficient in vitamin D.  It’s just that at the moment there is not enough evidence to tell everybody to “get the hell back in the sun”.  We do not really know what the ‘water’ is that our skin needs and since everybody acknowledges that there is a hole in the ozone we seem to be between a rock and a hard place for the moment.

This is where I actually think Thabo Mbeki was right.

I don’t think the supposed level of promiscuity in South Africa is enough to account for our infection rates – I know that’s not what he said but bare with me.

I suspect that the level of promiscuity in countries where prostitution is legalized comes close to rivaling our own and yet they do not share our numbers – and no I do not think HIV is punishment from God.

I think the fact that Vitamin D is observed to play a role in disease progression coupled with the fact that cysteine is also observed to be deficient in HIV individuals should play a much more important role in looking for a cure.  Of course I won’t call this “eating more beetroot and garlic”.

Black people have been ‘misled’ by the ‘settlers’ into thinking that the African sun is bad for them.  Turns out that the black skin is ‘perfectly adapted to the African sun’ and needs a lot of it to make enough vitamin D.  I suspect that the same is true for the white skin and the ‘European’ sun.

The difference between me and Mr. Mbeki is that I:

Don’t think people should be denied access to health care / ARV’s while we see if ‘onions, beetroot and garlic’ really works

I refuse to go back to Europe.  I do not consider Europe to be my home after all.  But you don’t see me lashing out on the ‘English speaking South Africans’ because their ancestors colonized ‘my home’ just two or three generations ago.  Let’s stop this bullshit and agree with Nandos that the Koi people were here first :-).

And please all people of all nations – no matter what color you are

Please go and check your vitamin D levels at your nearest doctor 🙂

And get back into the sun but don’t tell anybody I said so…

The life and times of Cronk and Zephyr

This post will contain spoilers for most of the Ratchet and Clank games on PS3.  Although I doubt anybody cares I am just saying :-).

In anticipation of the up and coming Ratchet and Clank reboot Carla and I have been playing through all the Ratchet and Clank games.

I am not the world best player but after having spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing every single Ratchet and Clank game on PS3 more than once I have become a bit of a ‘connoisseur’ when it comes to these games.

Carla and I just finished episode 3 but somewhere in between studying for my exam today I skipped ahead and played ‘Nexus’ during my study breaks.  So naturally being the ‘connoisseur’ that I am I started playing the game on legendary.  Not bragging – just bragging :-).

And boy was I surprised at how much I enjoyed the game.  I played the whole thing in one afternoon, granted it is a very short game, and I had one heck of a time.

Because as you might know.  The first time I played it it was a complete miss hit.

Why?

Because of Cronk and Zephyr…

You see – Ratchet and Clank is one of those rare video games where the villains are written so well that they almost always make return cameos or appearances and frequently end up becoming ‘anti-heroes’.  It started with Quark back in episode two and shortly thereafter – doctor Nefarious.  My kids like doctor Nefarious more than they like some of the other ‘good’ characters in the game.

And then they’ve got these amazing side characters.  Like the plummer who I strongly suspect represents God.

Since ‘tools of destruction’ Insomniac did bank on Talwyn Apogee to become Ratchet’s girlfriend but so far none of the story writers wanted to commit.

Her adoptive parents were two old war bots named Cronk and Zephyr.

Now the IGN review said that nexus was written as an epilogue to the future series??  Did the future series even need an epilogue?  See the original IGN review here – although I strongly suspect that everybody who even cares have already done so :-).

Now you need to appreciate where I come from:

When Dr. Nefarious’ space station blows up in ‘a crack in time’ there is a moment in which Ratchet realizes that he and Crank will not survive the explosion and there’s no immediate way off the ship.  In that moment Ratchet turns to Clank and says “Clank – it’s been a hell of a ride”.

Yes I’ll admit that I shed a few man tears.  That was deep man – deep.  Even as I type here I feel the emotions :-).

And then came nexus.  Bloody hell.

Enter Vendra and Neftin Prog – two psychopathic criminals.  In the very beginning Insomniac establishes these two as the worst that Ratchet and Clank has ever seen by killing off Cronk and Zephyr with a bomb that was also meant for Ratchet and Clank.

Ratchet breaks the news to Talwyn and even though she pleads with him to come back to Meridian City, Ratchet swears to make things right.

And then things go really south.

Eventually Ratchet corners Vendra and and Neftin but they succeed in summoning the Nether Overlord and it turns out the Never Overlord is the real villain and he was just using Vendra to get to our dimension?? What??  These are the killers of Cronk and Zephyr for crying out loud.  Show some respect.

Afterwards we are told to believe that the dimensionator is available in Meridian city and that Neftin can somehow fix it in a couple of minutes.  Ratchet and Clank goes in and ‘steal’ the dimentionator – is this suppose to make us go soft on Vendra and Neftin?  No I’m sorry – show some respect for the love of the plumber!  These people killed Cronk and Zephyr – how many times do I have to say it.  Then Ratchet strikes an alliance with Neftin and the agreement is that Neftin will willingly go to prison afterwards.  And guess what they seal it with – a flippin handshake.

Then to add insult to injury Ratchet never hooks up with Talwyn, he never locates his parents, the dimensionator is broken ‘again’ and now suddenly Neftin can’t fix it because he is in prison?  At least the end scene shows Clank grabbing it – perhaps to keep on working on it or whatever.  Excuse me – an epilogue to what?

Needless to say I was not happy when I finished the game for the first time.  The problem is not that it was a bad game.  As a mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed my replay of it.  The problem is that Insomniac pulled the same stupid stunt that Bioware did with Mass Effect.  Somehow the writers fail to realize how attach we get to these characters.

This could have been so epic.  The Nethers could have invaded the dimension with the Lombaxes (Ratchet’s family) in and Ratchet could have hooked up with his parents.  Then something could have happened in the Solana galaxy that forced Ratchet to go back and ‘save Talwyn’ or whatever and then due to some weird circumstances Ratchet could have been forced to choose between saving Talwyn and being with his family in a Final Catastrophic event that completely destroyed the dimensionator.  Perhaps they could even have thrown in a few minutes of Clank talking to Orvus – somewhere in between dimensions.  Or whatever :-).

Please, grey morality belongs to the Witcher universe.  Not to Ratchet and Clank.  Why off Cronk and Zephyr in the beginning only to redeem their murderers less than eight hours later and in a most unbelievable fashion?  At least with doctor Nefarious it took a whole new game and still hours upon hours of game play to ‘sort of’ get him redeemed.  I haven’t forgotten that Dr. Nefarious killed Orvus (or at least was intimately involved with his death) but my kids had a lot of fun in ‘All for one’ and at least it is consistent with the characters’ growth over time.  Frankly we are asked to believe that the sole redeeming factor for Vendra is that Neftin came after her.  That suddenly changed her from murdering psychopath to ‘loving sister’.  Hell no!  Cronk and Zephyr are worth more than that.

Please stop this.  Don’t give us epic stories where the ending is like a cold shower just because you ‘need’ the story line open for the sake of making future games.  Why couldn’t they just give the future series a proper sendoff and start during a later time line.  Who knows perhaps Ratchet and Talwyn could have married and have kids.  How epic would that be?  We end up playing as Ratchet Junior.

One of the reason the Uncharted series is doing so well is because Amy Hennig understood this.  I have to confess I am worried that the ‘two boys’ from last of us are going to give Uncharted the same ‘interrupted’ send off.  We’ll have to wait and see.  I agree that ‘the last of us’ is the superior game but the kind of character development that we see in uncharted is unprecedented in any game series.  Do not kill Helena.  And if Sully has to die – do it in a manner that’s worthy of the time we spent with him.  We care about these characters damn it.

We’ve seen it with Assassin’s creed 3 and Desmond’s send off.  What started as very epic sci fi ended as open ended bullshit.  Mass effect 3.  Even Deus Ex human revolution.  Excellent writing, characters and intrigue with endings that my seven year old daughter can improve on.  We are being set up only to be dropped in the middle of nowhere.  It’s just cruel.

So at least I have stopped pre-ordering.

I will wait for reviews but frankly I will buy Uncharted 4 even if the reviews say it’s crap which, granted, is extremely unlikely to happen.  But I’ll do it for old times sake.  The problem is that the last excellent Ratchet and Clank game was Crack in time although I did enjoy ‘all for one’ for what it was.  ‘Q force’ wasn’t really a Ratchet and Clank game.  I think they were just doing for the sake of a birthday celebration.  It might have been more fun if my kids were older and we each had our own copy.

So we will definitely watch the movie.  Since it’s going to be a reboot I wonder if we’ll see anything of Cronk and Zephyr.  And Talwyn.  I heard the main villain is going to be chairman Drek again but apparently he is getting a make over.

It hurts that it may be years before we see any real progress in the saga.

Here’s to hoping they don’t screw this one up…

And here’s to Cronk and Zephyr…

Rest in peace guys

Allopathic medicine vs Alternative medicine and sharing your story

As part of my assignment for my course in bio-medicine I was asked to give my understanding of the relationship between conventional and complementary and alternative medicine and the issues that we need to be aware of when using complementary and alternative medicine alongside western medicine.

I thought I would share my essay here.

Needless to say I think allopathic medicine is in very bad shape.  In 2013 Forbes once again reported on the crazy amount of people that die in American hospitals due to preventable deaths.  The article can be read here.  They estimate the amount of deaths, due to preventable causes, at 440 000 per year which apparently places it at, leading cause of death, number three.

Naturally the situation in South Africa is ten times worse.

The essay limitations were frustratingly short.  We had to make our point in 400 words.  I don’t think I have ever been able to make my point in 400 words.  Obviously I also did not succeed this time :-).

So let me copy and paste the thing and end with one or two clarifications.  This is my own opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the college of natural health.

(Start of essay)

To understand the relationship between conventional science and complementary and alternative medicine we must have an appreciation of the failures of, the allopathic medicine, that resulted from conventional science.  I will not dwell on the high number of preventable deaths resulting from allopathic care in hospitals.  Although this is a major concern alternative but comparable problems can conceivably be found for complementary care.

The biggest conceivable deficit of allopathic care is its insistence upon objective evidence that can be replicated and its refusal to even consider anecdotes.  One only have to ponder the fact that the etiology of more than 90 percent of illnesses are extremely poorly understood to appreciate how patently absurd this approach is.  For the sake of argument I will give one example but it cannot be overstated that thousands of examples can be imagined.

Let us consider magnesium as a treatment of headache (magnesium has been established to be effective in treating migraine).  Imagine a hundred people presenting with headache.  Now imagine that of those hundred people 10 have a headache that is related to Magnesium.  However 3 of them have conditions that make it difficult for them to absorb Magnesium.  When compared to a placebo in a double blind randomized trail it is obvious that Magnesium will not fare much better than the placebo.  Add to that, the fact, that paracetemol disrupt prostaglandin synthesis 99 percent of the time and one cannot help but feel that Panado will forever remain the GP’s choice :-).

Also it cannot be overemphasized that medicine is the “ultimate seller’s market” (thanks to Steven Brill from Time magazine for this analogy).  Since “randomized controlled trials” cost a lot of money the only people who are willing to invest are ones who will make a profit.  Even if we exclude the biased results that everybody believes exist but refuse to disregard we must still appreciate that the amount of “things that work” are extremely limited.  Since the “clients” are in an extremely weak position to negotiate this results in absurdly inflated prices because there is no “healthy” competition.  Finally add the extreme regulations placed on medications, by governments, and we can only throw our hands up in the air.

I believe that while there is a place for medicine and complimentary medicine, side by side – a strong, eagerly focus on reconciliation misses the bigger issue.  Allopathic medicine needs alternative care to keep it in check and to fill up the massive gaps that it leaves in its wake.  Since the internet lay people and alternative healers who don’t have money to publish have been able to share “anecdotes”.  This has resulted in an explosion of “possibilities”.  I.e. – “this has worked for me – try it as long as it is safe for you.”  This approach makes much more sense given the above mentioned poor understanding of the etiology of disease.

So alternative modalities exists as:

  1. A necessary buffer for the gross financial indulgence of the allopathic system
  2. An anecdotal alternative or complimentation to the lack of results in obtaining a “cure” for disease
  3. Frequently to provide safer alternatives that have not been “proven” in cases where the outcome of allopathic techniques is understood to be “limmited” either way or “simply not worth it”.

The only thing necessary for alternative healers is humility to incorporate a diagnostic opinion from a professional and, all be it anecdotal, knowledge of the limitations of their products as well as knowledge of possible interference with allopathic approaches.  If this can happen we have a good thing coming.

(End of essay)

I don’t think the average person understands how poorly the causes of disease (etiology) are understood.  Apart from infections and gross undernourishment the rest is a bit of a “haze”.

What bugs me, a lot however, is when the etiology is partially understood and doctors are not ‘allowed’ to act on it because it is not “guaranteed” to work because there is not enough evidence.  Doctors have become ‘priests’ that tell people what they ‘must’ do in order to achieve ‘everlasting life’ instead of being ‘trusted friends’ who give expert advise within different contexts.

For example the whole sodium-potassium and hypertension thing.  We have understood for a long time that cutting back on salt reduces hypertension for some people.  And we have long known that conditions that increase sodium retention and potassium secretion results in hypertension.  What is not so well known (at least by me) is how much the diet involvement of lots of sodium and almost no potassium plays into this.  Can we even attempt to treat hypertension by supplementing potassium instead of cutting back on table salt?  If you have the time visit the site watercure.com based on the work of Dr. F. Batmanghelidj.  This remarkable guy discovered the effects of drinking water on histamine and sodium/potassium balance.  The site can be found here.  Naturally his theories do not cover every disease under all circumstances but it is telling to me that his theories never even made it to a discussion during med school.

Also consider this story here about a woman who developed hypertension while drinking too much tea with liquorice.  What frustrates the living crap out of me is that she had to go a homeopathic web site before receiving the information that she needed.  And I actually remember being taught that liquorice is an important cause of low potassium and blood pressure.  However the approach that we were taught is to walk through these things if the blood pressure remains uncontrolled despite treatment or if hypokalaemia develops.  Not that I think most doctors even remember the relationship five minutes out of med school.

So while I am weary of the absurd promises that some natural healers make, my experience is that most people are capable of understanding the principles of health and discerning the shit from the shoes.  I think the amount of money that is spent on ‘keeping antibiotics regulated’ is not worth the one or two people that ‘die from resistant infection’.  Frankly, I believe, most of these got the majority of their antibiotics from doctors anyway.  Will ‘smart’ people, who are educated about the dangers of antibiotic overuse, really bugger themselves up by causing resistance through taking an antibiotic every time they have a runny nose?  Right now a good (3rd of 4th generation) antibiotic will cost you 250 to 350.  A private GP appointment is another 350.  Symptomatic efforts and herbal support together with one or two cheap supplements can come close to another 200.  Conservatively speaking a ‘bottom priced’ doctors visit will net you between 600 – 800 rand.  Now, as far as I know, in a place like India antibiotics are apparently not regulated.  Are they struggling with the prophesied resistance?  And in India antibiotics are a tenth of the price in South Africa – even the expensive ones.  Nobody their dies from medicine not being accessible economically.  I think.  Of course I did not research this – I am just venting :-).

The price of maintaining ones health has become very unhealthy.  At the same time the advise you can expect from doctors consists of an elaborate system that, at best, will most of the time only succeed in managing your symptoms and makes it possible to ‘carry on with a normal life while remaining sick’.  Of course I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories that says this is all planned.  Sure money motivates the majority of research efforts but no – not every doctor is a self identified nihilist who cares nothing for anybody other than him/herself.  Most doctors really want to believe that they are making a difference.  And in a way they do but fuck – people are dying and as the stats show – often because of doctors.  The only thing left for someone like me is to spend the rest of his life looking for an acceptable solution to the problem because to me ‘balancing the energy and vital forces of your body’ is just not gonna cut it :-).

But at the moment we desperately need alternative medicine to fill up the gaps.  It says a lot when the causes of disease are almost never understood but the only treatment that is ‘deemed acceptable’ is the kind that is ‘proven beyond a shadow of doubt’.  What surprised me, when I wrote this, is how logical it all sounds.  If we are going to tackle a process that we do not understand surely we have to experiment with what we do not understand?  That is if we want real and lasting results.  And, for sake of all things good, can we at least consider that anecdotal stories sometimes contain a shred of truth in them?

I cannot be the only one who has ever thought of this?!

I would have been proud at the thought if the results of it wasn’t so sad.

But more than alternative medicine – we need people to share anecdotes.

DO NOT BE SCARED OF THE INTERNET

The problem is – what you do not know may also kill you.

In my mind we only have to discern the immediate safety of a product before we start to ‘experiment’ with it.  Of course ethically you have to establish that something is safe first.  Usually this happens on rats first.

But fuck that.  Not the rats :-).

We are dying and our Priests are killing us.  Albeit not on purpose….

I really think so.