Monday, March 16, 2015

Officers, respect our humanity

“A woman is a woman and a man ain’t nothin’ but a male...”
~Louis Prima, Jump, Jive and Wail

Honorable Public Servants,
          “Male” and “female” are properly adjectives, modifiers of nouns, not nouns themselves.  “Male” and “female,” when used as nouns to refer to people, are dehumanizing.  Any animal and some plants are male or female. We have perfectly good words for male and female humans that convey not only humanity, but age range as well: man; woman; boy; girl. 
The jazz tune from which the above quote was taken was written in the mid-fifties.  There is a long history of the words “male” and “female” being used to disrespect the people being referred to.  White, English-speaking men have a long called men and women of other races and cultures “males” and “females” and sometimes even the women of their own families.  
I first noticed the dehumanizing aspect of such words in the ‘80s, when a lot of feminists were calling men “males,” particularly “white males,” because they didn’t believe that they deserved the dignity of being called “men.”  I notice that black men and women rarely or never say “black males,” even when that was common among whites.  What’s interesting is that white men of a liberal persuasion still tend to talk about “white males” to refer to men who are conservative.  Some even refer to themselves that way.
          But the people I find using “male” and “female” to refer to people most consistently are police officers.  After that, there are reporters writing police logs from police reports verbatim without thinking about the disrespect they show. 
I have told enough reporters around this area that any animal is male or female, that they usually don’t use male, female, or that other dehumanizing police word, “subject.”  So I was greatly disturbed at the March 4th City Council meeting, when Chief Landis, before awarding medals of merit to officers who rescued a young girl from her mother, read the report of the incident, calling the mother “the female” many times, never referring to her as a woman and only once as the mother of the child.
          It doesn’t matter whether Chief Landis and his officers intend to offend when they use such language about the people they serve.  What matters is how the words are received.  People might not consciously realize they are being disrespected, but they feel it.
This may well play into our well-known and worsening lack of trust in government officials.  Police are the officials who are most likely to talk to us face to face and write about us.  They should respect our humanity and use words that show it.  How one speaks and writes comes from and becomes how one thinks.  We want our public servants to think of us as people, not male and female “subjects.”

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040

Friday, March 13, 2015

Don’t Overdo the Kombucha

Kombucha brewing.  The scoby is so thick because I have not made more since I stopped drinking it.

An afterword to "Make Kombucha Tea," August 2014.
After drinking too much of Kombucha daily for perhaps 8 years or 9 years, I've figured out that it was causing side effects.  I was told in the beginning that one should drink just a small glass first thing in the morning, before eating anything.  I like it so much that I just drank a pint all day long, putting it over ice first, and then diluting it more with water as the day goes on, so as not to ingest too much sugar.  I like the way a little sugar and acid make water less dry on the throat.
For a long time I had constant soreness in the muscles in my arms, a common side effect of statins, which are used to lower cholesterol.  I have never bought into the anti-cholesterol fad, any more than the anti-fat fad.  A few days ago, I got to thinking about red rice yeast, which is rice fermented in a fungal culture that turns it red, a natural source of statins.  It can cause the same sore muscles that synthesized statins do.  I thought that Kombucha culture might make statins as well.  So I looked up "Kombucha, statins."
          I found the American Cancer Society page on Kombucha, which didn't mention statins, and  said that there is no proven medical use for Kombucha. They also said that it is dangerous, based on two case histories, one of a couple of women who drank probably too much and got lactic acidosis, and a man who tried it once and got lactic acidosis.  
          A few case histories with no proof of cause are not very much evidence.  I figure that's par for the American Cancer Society, which is prejudiced against home remedies.  There are too many people saying how much it improves their gut function, particularly heartburn and acid reflux, to say that it is not good medicine for some people.
          I hadn't heard that a major part of its acidity was lactic acid, the acid that builds up in muscles from heavy exercise and makes them sore.  According to, "As lactic acid builds up, symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate or irregular heart rhythm, and mental status changes can occur."  I do enough strenuous exercise at work that I probably shouldn't have much lactic acid in my diet.  
          I next found an abstract of a study of how well Kombucha reduces cholesterol and increases anti-oxidant activity in mice.  They found that it did both, which fits with it having statins in its mix. 

            Lactic acid is produced in the muscles when they get low on oxygen.  They then have to use an anaerobic process to turn glucose to ATP, which your cells actually use for energy.   I just read an article in Science News, For athletes, antioxidant pills may not help performance.”   It turns out that oxidative stress is needed to build endurance and muscle strength.  Anti-oxidants in foods like blueberries and black currant juice seems to be helpful, but not the excessive amount found in pills.  But eating a lot of either every day is probably too much, just like drinking Kombucha all day, however diluted, is not good for me.  My arms aren’t sore now.  I probably shouldn’t drink it at all.