Archive for the ‘iApprove’ Category


iApprove: The Internet./DoNotWant: Herpes Simplex.

July 18, 2009

This might seem like a “duh” one. Everyone knows that the Internet is awesome and that anyone with half a brain in their head will use it if given the opportunity. Heck, without the Internet I wouldn’t be able to write blog entries (or procrastinate them half as effectively).

But I think it’s about time that I give the Internet dues for a little more than the basics.

See, I learned a few “medical” basics from my mother.  Don’t eat raw meat, stay away from rust, don’t kiss anyone while you have a cold sore; the usual.  Most of it is pretty basic, and most of it is pretty sound.

But a lot of it was shrouded in good, old-fashioned, down-home country hogwash.

Raw meat?  Perfectly safe (if prepared properly).  Rust?  Not a magical “spawning point” for tetanus.  Cold sores?

Hoo… cold sores.

Otherwise known as oral herpes (and there’s a reason for that, folks), cold sores are a lip-based invasion of the herpes simplex virus.  And, like Mom said, they’re especially contagious when you have a blister.  What Mom didn’t say is that they’re also contagious when you don’t have a blister.

Nor did she tell me that the repeated cold sores I suffer are manifestations of the same viral infection. Or that a bit of adventurous lovemaking could give my hypothetical partner a nasty case of lower blisters – or, as they call them in the medical industry, genital herpes.

Yup.  Thanks to some overzealous relative who thought it was an absolute must to kiss the cute little kid, I have a proper STI.  Cool, huh?  In other words, I have to take care – even when I don’t have a huge, painful blister on my lip – not to transmit the bugger to any sexual partners.

I don’t think I can adequately describe how mad I am right now.   I feel on some level that I was being taken advantage of.  I was three years old – barely old enough to understand what a cold sore was, never mind that I could catch it from a seeming innocuous kiss or that the infection would last me the rest of my life.  The darling relative to whom I owe the infection obviously had no clue either, or she wouldn’t have gone around kissing little kids.

I know I certainly don’t feel like kissing anyone right now.

Am I overreacting?  Probably.  It’s not a big deal to prevent infection (in the genital area, anyway) – basic protection should cover it.  And an oral infection, while annoying, is hardly a lifebreaker.  But I’m mad.  One of my family members, whom I trusted implicitly, gave me a virus that I will never be rid of and will impact me for the rest of my life.  Darn right I’m peeved.

(Edit: Mom says that I may eventually get over it.  She’s probably right.  But I’m still irked.)


iApprove: “Judgment Day”.

June 13, 2009

Now lest you think I’m going to start yammering about some upcoming Armageddon or a fearmongering apocalyptic Christian film, let me clarify.

During the 1950’s, racism was still going strong.  Black people were considered, for reasons we now know to be completely bunk, to be inferior to white people; this was taken as an acceptable cultural and biological assumption.  Suggestions to the contrary were few, far between, and desperately needed.

Enter the comic industry, producing – among other comics with similar messages – Judgment Day.

The premise of the comic is as follows: On an alien planet ruled by robots, a human has just arrived.  His job is to tour the planet, check out its technology and social norms, and determine whether the robots’ society has advanced enough to join the United Federation of Planets Galactic Republic.

Initially, he is impressed – they have made great technological strides, and have very spiffy systems in place to allow new robots to be constructed and taught in a hurry.  They do appear to be ready.

But then the astronaut discovers something off: the robots are practicing segregation.  While the orange robots live in privilege in a clean and pleasant city, the blue robots are shuffled off, made to scrape out a meager living in a dingy, unpleasant area.

The astronaut is disenheartened by this discovery, and informs his orange-robot tour guide that until they abolish this practice, they will not be allowed to join the Galactic Republic.  He offers some advice to his guide on how he could begin to change things, then blasts away in his spaceship.

Safely in his ship, blasting back to Earth, the man finally removes his helmet.  It is revealed that he is black.

Almost as soon as it was written, the story began to make a stir.  The Comics Code Authority kicked things off, telling the writer that the hero could not be black – effectively proving that it needed to be published.  And published it was, in its original form, where it received a tremendously positive response from its readers.

“Congratulations to… the artist, and… the author, for the best story ever written by E.C.  We have never read a story in a comic with so much meaning and moral…”

“…The horribly accurate picture of the human race is drawn with bold, unmistakable strokes.”

“…Never have I seen the “race problem” handled so perfectly.”

You can read the comic – and the rave reviews, printed on a final page – at


iApprove: The Dude.

May 25, 2009

All of my recent success, I credit to The Dude.

I will elaborate: I have never been a motivated person.  When it comes to between what I want to do and what I need to do, I almost always take the easy route and do what I want (unless it would get me into trouble).  Consequentially, I procrastinate.  Studies get postponed, sometimes for days.  Housework gets stalled.  Even personal projects get put off.  I end up wasting a lot of time.

For this reason, I created The Dude.

To be honest, The Dude (“Dude”) to his face isn’t really a dude at all.  In fact, he (she?) isn’t even a proper split personality.  Instead he/she is… well, I suppose you could refer to him/her as a homunculus – a piece of my personality taken human(ish) shape.  Completely imaginary, but nonetheless influential.

See, it was like this: I can prioritize.  I know I can.  I can even focus on my priorities, if properly motivated.  But thanks to an unfortunate mental trait of mine – the tendency to believe everything my mother tells me, enforced through years of religious upbringing – I didn’t think I could do it on my own.  So I never learned how.

Finally, though, I struck upon a possible solution.  Rather than try to completely rearrange my personality – quite a feat for anyone – I decided to compartmentalize it.  The dominant portion, the one that only did what I had to as a last resort, became the “female” personality.  The other portion, who knew what I had to do and was willing to do it, became the “male” personality, whom I christened The Dude.  Rather than making the female personality get motivated – which is something like pushing a wheelbarrow with a hippopotamus in it – when I needed to do something important, I would call on The Dude.  I’d get his advice – which was, to clarify, merely me thinking about what I needed to do and deciding to do it – and force the female personality to get off her lazy butt and actually do something.

This worked pretty well for the first few days.  Every time I wanted to go loaf around, I’d ask The Dude, and he’d tell me about something of greater priority that I hadn’t done yet.  (Once I’d filled my priority quotient, it was all right to goof off.)  I ended up getting stuff done – putting in the garden, studying for my GED, going outside and exercising.

After awhile, though, something bizarre happened.  It didn’t fail – I am still prioritizing with surprising ease.  But what I realized is that, after a few days, The Dude had just… disappeared.  I no longer needed him to coerce me into doing what I needed to do.  The female personality had sort of absorbed him, and was now capable of making decisions by herself.


Now, the whole point of this lengthy, lengthy blog post is this: if you have problems bringing out certain aspects of your personality, you might consider The Dude method.  It doesn’t have to be a dude – you can choose any figure, real or imaginary, whom you respect but are not too intimidated by.

(The Dude was somewhere between me-as-a-guy and Zac Efron.  Your mileage may vary, but don’t use anyone you know.)

Whenever you enter a situation where you’d like to change your reaction, consult your personal Dude.  He/she will tell you what to need to do; do it.  Get into the habit of listening to him/her every time.  Don’t cut yourself any slack, but be realistic: don’t call on The Dude 24/7.  Give yourself plenty of times when you don’t need his/her help.

And finally, remember: The Dude is completely imaginary. He/she does not have his/her own personality (though it may feel like it at first).  Essentially, he/she is just a face that you are using to tell yourself what to do.  If you have a history of mental illness, particularly multiple-personality disorder or schizophrenia, it is not advised that you attempt The Dude technique.  If you choose to attempt The Dude, you will agree to hold gerimorgan innocent of any detrimental effects.


iApprove: Wear the Lilac.

May 24, 2009

It’s May 24, which means that tomorrow is Wear the Lilac Day. Formerly a fictional holiday to remember the fallen soldiers of the Revolution in the book series Discworld, the diagnosis of the series’ author with Alzheimer’s disease has lent a new meaning to the holiday.  May 25 is now Wear the Lilac: Alzheimer’s Awareness.

What’s it about?  For the most part, the purpose of Wear the Lilac is to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.  Many people know that the disease exists, but too few people understand it and recognize it as a problem that needs to be fought.

With that in mind, the folks at Gaia Online have set up a useful info thread to (1) raise general awareness of Alzheimer’s, (2) explain what Alzheimer’s is and why it is so problematic, and (3) provide support for friends, family, and sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.  On May 25, members will dress their avatars in purple clothes and go about the forum with links to the thread in their signatures.  Those who can manage will also wear purple clothing in real life, and encourage their friends and family to do the same.

Alzheimer’s disease may not be the most horrifying condition out there – it is, after all, a malady of the elderly, who were probably on their way off the mortal coil already.  But its effects reach far beyond the elderly.  Spouses, siblings, and children can only look on as their loved ones degrade into a self-centered, childlike state.  The sufferers grow increasingly frustrated as they lose both fine abilities and their memories of the people around them.

It’s no cancer, but Alzheimer’s disease can be equally as devastating to a family.

Learn about Wear the Lilac Day – and help to spread its influence outside Gaia – at


iApprove: The Louisiana Purchase.

May 11, 2009

History has always been something of a touchy spot for me.  Particularly US history.  I think the reason is because (1) there isn’t a whole lot of it, (2) it spends inordinate amounts of time glorifying the dudes who ordered genocide on the natives, and (3) as a Statesian, I am expected to memorize US history so that I can be Teh Patriotz.

I am not Teh Patriotz.  I don’t hate my country or anything, but I’m far from the mindless government-worshipper that some people seem to expect us to be.

Consequentially, when I heard about the Louisiana Purchase, I was less than impressed.  “They bought Louisiana?” I thunk to myself.  “Meh.  Whatever.  It’s not that fantastic.”

Nobody ever told me how big Louisiana was when they bought it.

Turns out it wasn’t just the state that we know today.  The Louisiana of 1803 was an enormous parcel of land – nearly one-third of what we now know as the United States – that effectively split the country in two.  It included land that would become six different states – Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska – and parts of eight others, as well as tiny fragments of what would later become Alberta and Saskatchewan.

(I also approve of Saskatchewan.  Very few places exist in North America with names that awesome.)

This map of 1803’s North America helps to put it into perspective:

Much cooler than one itty-bitty state.

Read more about the purchase at


iApprove: Where the Hell is Matt?

May 6, 2009

It’s a question I have heard many times: what do atheists have to be happy about?

Finally, I have an answer.

Where the Hell is Matt? (Dancing) is a video to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.  Simply put, it’s a compilation of short video clips of one man (Matt) dancing badly, frequently with company, in various places around the world.  It’s incredibly heartwarming to see this one man, using nothing but a video camera and some traveling money, bring the entire world together for an epic dance party.  Despite the sheer silliness, I was somehow moved to tears.

You can watch it at


iApprove: “Brownie Mary” Rathbun.

May 3, 2009

While browsing Oddee (a site of which I heartily approve, if only because I’ve been viewing it nonstop for hours), I discovered something rather surprising – an easter egg, if you will.  Something that may lay to rest many of the unfounded and rather disturbing claims made about certain American individuals.

I’m talking about Mary Jane Rathbun.

Mary Jane Rathbun, aka “Brownie Mary”, was what one might refer to as a medical activist.  She spent much of her life fighting to legalize cannabis – a plant better known as marijuana – in medicinal use for sufferers of “Aids, cancer, glaucoma, and other diseases” (Wikipedia).  One of her better-known stunts, for which she received her nickname, was the baking and distribution of several “Alice B. Toklas brownies” – that is, brownies made with cannabis.  She once said on the subject “my kids [people with AIDS and cancer] need this and I’m ready to go to jail for my principles.”  Before her death, she was named a living saint, and christened “Saint Brownie Fucking Mary” by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Wait… what?

Well, no real nuns would have touched Brownie Mary with a ten-foot pole.  She broke laws, after all (or bent them, anyway).  And she was promoting drugs (or something equally untrue). So Mary, a lifelong atheist, was honored by a (rather eccentric) humanist organization.

We could all learn a lot from Mary.  Atheists and humanists could learn to follow her example and fight for what they believe in.  And religious folks could learn that not all atheists take their cues from Joseph Stalin.