AotM #14: King Tut Day

Happy Tutankhamen Day! Go to a museum!


  1. But before some serious stuff, let’s start it off with BEARS!!! Despite what Stephen Colbert may say, Bears are OK in my book—after all, they’re part of the international coalition fighting the war on terror! But that’s not too surprising, since bears have been fighting for us since at least WWII. And who doesn’t want beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking, artillery-carrying, Nazi-fighting large clawed mammals on their side?
  2. Another area where new studies are only confirming folk wisdom and old knowledge—TV makes kids more aggressive. I mean, it’s been ignored by the media and politicians for a decade, but we’ve known for a long time that violent imagery does indeed condition and desensitize people to violence (I highly recommend reading On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society for some fascinating research and discussion on the topic). And yet, it’s still a social faux pas to condemn violence in media, even while we’re still vehemently puritanical about love & sex. Time to grow up, America.
  3. Parental control and restriction is psychologically damaging anywhere, but here’s an interesting study that shows the differences between Eastern & Western parenting.
  4. Not only are over-the-counter pain meds the most widely used pharmaceuticals in the world, but turns out they can degrade your flu shot and depress your immune system. Pain is a wonderful thing, since it tells us when something is out of whack, so embrace it and work on the core problem—there’s not much to be gained from masking it, at least for most minor things.
  5. Retrospectives, books, and movies about our men and women in the military all too often focus on standout cases of elite heroes. But the story of an average recruit who spends time in Iraq or Afghanistan is equally important to share, as it reveals more of the realities of military life and war. So enjoy this fascinating and wonderfully open photoessay that follows the life of a young Army enlistee, from recruitment, through training, to Iraq, and back. Bad decisions, warts, & all.

On Chiropractic

I recently received a query from one of my readers regarding my opinions on chiropractic, so I’ll try to briefly address the subject here.

The majority of alternative and traditional medicines, remedies, and practices out there are definitely based on grains of truth. Especially since it has so many adherents who swear by it and/or practice it happily, chiropractic in particular must have some of that truth to it as well. However, having personally had experience with many other similar therapies like Rolfing, Feldenkrist, Alexander Technique, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, and more general manual therapy, I’ll say that chiropractic is definitely far cruder than most other body manipulation therapies.

As chiropractic revolves around relatively gross adjustments and spinal manipulation, when it does have an impact, it’s a very noticeable and immediate impact for the patient—hence the one area that chiropractic is actually proven to work with is lower back pain. Especially because of the Western public’s Big Media/Big Marketing-brainwashed desire for immediate gratification and sublimation of all pain, many people adhere to chiropractic’s offerings. And, for some types of stresses and injuries, such major adjustments can actually be quite helpful and therapeutic.

In general, however, it’s my view that chiropractic is actually one of the least beneficial therapies when it comes down to overall and longterm health and musculoskeletal fitness. The other techniques I mentioned above, plus many others, including self-administered yoga and even just regular exercise, can all be just as useful in not only relieving pain and curing ills, but also in preventing future issues. Additionally, most other therapies are much more low-impact than chiropractic can be, and since even popping your knuckles too often can lead to lower grip strength and inflammation, cracking one’s back too often, over the long term, can’t be too good.

There is one major caveat here though—as in many other areas, medicine (whether alternative or standard Western) is practiced by people, and even the worst person in a med school class can become a doctor. Therefore a lot of the bad press that many therapies get, including the recent spate of anti-chiropractic news out there, can often be traced back to individual idiots, bad practitioners, mistakes, and ignorance. A great chiropractor might be more knowledgeable and helpful than a bad doctor, and vice versa.

All that being said, as someone who tried a variety of such physical therapies as a child due to severe knock-knees, restricted breathing, and other physical problems, the mode that ended up fixing the issue for me (permanently, I must add), was manual therapy, an offshoot of osteopathy that deals with more minute manipulations of the fascia and other smaller connective tissues. There’s a good description of it here. Combined with a regular low-impact yoga routine, I’ve personally never felt better in my life.

So ultimately it’s up to you, as an individual, to find out what works best for yourself, by finding the best individual practitioners of whatever medical or therapeutic practice makes the most sense for your situation.

AotM #9: Babies!

It’s been a long time since the last Articles of the Moment (there’s a reason I call these Articles of the “Moment” instead of Day, Week, or Month). So to start things back up, what could be more appropriate than a Babies theme?


  1. Infant pain can have a number of repercussions on adults. And here’s some additional, older research in the same vein. Kinda puts an additional twist to the circumcision “debate” (which, FYI, I don’t see as a debate at all—circumcision is a version of male genital mutilation that’s completely unnecessary in any modern culture that has access to running water and education).
  2. Children who are spanked have a lower IQ. It makes perfect sense that additional stress hormones in youth can impact our long-term health. Thankfully physical punishment of children is down, worldwide.
  3. Breast milk should be drunk fresh, not stored for later use, since compounds in it are tailor made for the moment. It’s especially useful for regulating infant sleep cycles.
  4. Another reason why children’s imaginations need to be encouraged and developed, not smothered with modern media: imagination (through guided visualization) has a significant impact on perception of pain.
  5. Even just a sip of water can help to reduce pain response and anxiety in children and adults. Chocolate and sweets work too, but not as well as simple water. It’s because we evolved to take advantage of the resources in front of us while we can (like drinking water or calories). Unfortunately this response probably also contributes to our obesity problem.