Two Witches Walk Into A Bar

My first stab at fanfic.  It's a Harry Potter/Buffy The Vampire Slayer crossover.  This first chapter is G rated.  It's set about twenty years after the end of the Second Wizarding War, and the collapse of Sunnydale.  Comments welcome, please be gentle.  Standard disclaimer, I don't own any of the characters, and am not nearly creative enough to have come up with the Potterverse or Buffyverse. 
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Dumbledore's Failure

I was reading Red Hen's Out On A Limb (I want to be Red Hen when I grow up! : ) and noticed in her discussion of what we know about Dumbledore something rather interesting.  As she points out, Dumbledore is big on second chances, and as she also points out he doesn't give one to Tom Riddle.

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Moral Sloppiness

In the several days since the death of Al-Zarqawi, I've heard several people say something along the lines of, "Is it appropriate to celebrate the death of someone?"  I've heard one person come out with how we should all be ashamed rejoicing in the death of another person, and how doing so cheapens the value of human life.  Assuming these people are actually sincere they are showing an astounding level of moral sloppiness in their thinking.  (If they are not...well, let me say I'd rather think they are sincere.)

If the moral principal which we are hoping to uphold is that human life is a thing of value to be held sacred, then we must agree that there is a time to kill.  Because to do otherwise is to assent that it is preferrable to roll over and die than to protect the self and the other.  A concrete example, a man loaded with explosives is in your sight, he is holding the trigger of his bomb, if you shoot him in the head, you will stop him from blowing himself and a kindergarden up.  If you say you value human life, you will shoot him.  And you will rejoice that you did so, because you have just saved the lives of eveyone else in that kindergarden. 

If the value you espouse is human life, this is a no-brainer.  Granted, it would be preferrable not to kill people.  If we lived in a nicer world, we wouldn't need to kill anyone.  If we get to the point where we can capture, restrain, and incarcerate people perfectly, those who wish to argue against killing anyone will have better ground to stand upon.  But for the time being, the ability to kill provides one with the ultimate protection of human life, because killing is the ultimate tool to remove those who would destroy life.   We know from examples  that there are people who will murder, and keep right on doing so until they are dead.  People who have been put in jail who then murder other inmates, and prison personell.  Killing someone like that is the moral equivilant of putting down a rabid dog, you do it not because it's fun, but because you need to do it to protect the greater number of people.

In the case of Al-Zarqawi, who masterminded scores, if not hundreds of deaths, we just put down an extremely virulent rabid dog.  

A Rational Defense of Gay Marriage from a Conservative Point of View

To my fellow Conservatives, I know many of you are sick of being called bigoted-homophobes because you are against legalizing gay marriage in the United States.  I’d like to take some time to argue with you on a higher plane as to why from a Small Government Conservative point of view legalized gay marriage is the rational choice. 

As Conservatives we can usually agree on what the purpose of government is, namely the defense of the people and their property.  Usually we agree that the smaller said government is, the better.  When it comes to the federal government most of us envision a world where pretty much all said government does is help create the infrastructure to allow us the freedom to live as we so desire.  As part of the creation of said infrastructure we have designed a legal structure for the implementation of contracts.

Thus we come to the first point.  A valid action for government is to provide a forum for the registration and enforcement of contracts between willing adults.  Marriage, for legal purposes, is a contract entered into by willing partners.  As such, legally, it is no different than an incorporation, or bill of sale.  Since a small government concerns itself with protecting those who enter into contracts, from those who would breach said contracts, this would be part of protecting the people.  Limiting what kind of contract a person can enter into, when there is no clear harm to either party, is not a function of protecting the people.

This brings us to point number two, many conservatives are sure that gay marriage does clearly harm other people, especially any potential children who may be adopted, or naturally born to one or the other members of the gay couple.  This brings us to another bedrock of conservative thought, equal treatment before the law.  In this country we will allow almost any male/female couple to wed regardless of possible harm to possible children.  We do not ban murderers, drug users, addicts, rapists, child molesters, felons, and the extremely unpleasant to wed.  Since anyone in any of these categories could be of danger to any potential children, we are looking at a violation of the idea of equal treatment under the law.  Why should we allow the potential for harm from gay couples to ban them from contracting a marriage, but not allow the potential for harm from murders to ban them from contracting a marriage?  Also, when did conservatives become so interested in protecting people don’t necessarily, and will not necessarily, exist?  We aren’t exactly known for our pro-active positions on the protection of those who do not currently exist in any other cases. 

Many of us conservatives are strong believers in the concept of states rights.  Many of us are familiar with the idea that states would be able to make different ideas legal, and then see what happens.  Part of the idea of having a federal system is so we could do this.  Would not a re-writing of the current legal structures that make anyone married in any state, married in all states, and then allowing each state to decide, be more in keeping with our view of how the government is supposed to work, than a blanket federal law? 

“But marriage between man and a woman is the bedrock of our society.”  It may indeed be.  But I do not see marriage between man and woman falling apart because homosexual couples are allowed to wed.  (If anything is likely to endanger the coupling of men and women it would be our current worship of the idea that all life should be easy at all times, satisfying at all times, and if anything ever stops working perfectly for a second it can be disposed of.)  Men and women have been forming couples since before the idea of contracts existed.  I doubt they’ll stop anytime soon.  And, from the conservative point of view, when did we decide it was the job of the government to enforce societal norms.  Don’t we usually believe that is best left to the individual, his conscious, his faith, and his community?

God says homosexuality is wrong.  Yes, He does.  It takes quite a bit of training and advanced degrees to come up with the ability to read Leviticus and not see that.  But once again, we’re Conservatives, we are usually against having the Government enforce religion upon us.  Many of us come from people who came to this country to get away from enforced religion.  And, as Jews/Christians, don’t we believe that it is our job to cherish the sinner, and help him back to the path of righteousness ourselves?  Not have Big Brother do it for us.  Jesus does not say, “Go forth, and make laws, so that you don’t personally have to interact with the undesirable to show them the light.” 

Lastly comes the argument that goes something like this, “Well, yes, I agree with you, in theory, about all that small government stuff, but our society is so messed up, we can’t afford it.”  If we as Conservatives stop standing for limited government because it’s convenient, we’re going to end up where we are, facing a huge intrusive morass of federal tentacles snaking their way into every aspect of our life.  If we aren’t consistent in our values, we will be overcome by those who are.

Medical Rant

In the real world, when I'm not busy writing about Harry Potter, I'm a massage therapist.  I work very hard to be an ethical practitioner.  This means that I don't go beyond my scope of practice.  I make no claims about curing disease, releasing toxins, etc.  What I do is make people who hurt feel better.  And, I'm pretty blunt about how I can't always do that either, but I'll try, and if I can't, I'll work with you to find someone who can.

Legally I'm not allowed to diagnose conditions.  In that I've got 600 hours of training in all things medical, this makes sense.  However, (behold the beginning of the rant) my job would be quite a bit easier if those who legally can diagnose did a better job of it.  When I started practicing if the patient told me they had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, I took it at face value they had carpal tunnel syndrome.  I have since learned that unless the condition is something like cancer, that I need to ask, "How were you diagnosed?"

For those of you who can diagnose, (you know who you are) please pay more attention to your clients.  Especially when it comes to certain pain causing conditions.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not diagnosed by wrist pain and too much computer use.  Yes, the person may indeed have carpal tunnel, but judging by the number of people who are walking about with scars on their wrists from Carpal Tunnel Surgery, and no pain relief, a bit more work on figuring out what is wrong would be nice.  Among other things, if you can reproduce the pain by palpating the forearm, or neck, the problem isn't likely to be not enough room for the nerve between the carpal bones.  Another hint, if a muscle relaxer makes the pain go away, but an anti-inflammatory doesn't, don't schedule surgery.  I'll just end up working on a very irate person who will never see a doctor about anything again.

TMJ is not a clicky jaw and headaches.  Once again, the person may indeed have TMJ, but it is often not the cause of the pain.  I've seen more people with useless jaw surgery than any other condition.  If neck and scalp palpation recreate the pain pattern, don't start looking for someone to clean out the cartilage of the joint.  Also, if the pain is coming from jaw dysfunction, it's unlikely that a muscle relaxer on its own will ease the pain.  If it does, it's time to start thinking that perhaps the muscle tension is causing the jaw dysfunction, not the other way around.

Stop telling women who are 35+, with pain (especially localized), and sleep problems that they have Fibromyalgia.  Some people do have genuine Fibro and it's a mess.  But the number of women I see who are mainly stressed, who have been told that there is nothing that can be done, they will hurt forever, because they have Fibromyalgia, is unconscionable.  If you don't know what's wrong, tell them that.  Please, learn to tell the difference between a tender point and a trigger point.  I can make a trigger point better, tender points don't respond to any yet known treatments.  I have seen everything from stress, to Lyme's disease, to Narcolepsy diagnosed as Fibromyalgia.

Here's a hint, she hurts all over, it never really stops, pain can be elicited on palpation of at least 11 of 18 standard spots (and if any of those spots radiate pain, they aren't tender points) she can't sleep/never feels rested, her digestion is awful, she gets sick all the time, and usually runs a fever, it's likely she's got Fibro.  If we're looking at a woman who is tired, has headaches all the time, palpation finds head/neck/shoulder tenderness with referred pain, and is otherwise healthy, don't tell her she's got Fibro.  She's most likely stressed.

Arthritis is not diagnosed based on age of client and joint pain.  At least check and see if there is some swelling in the joint.  Remember that's what itis at the end of the world means!  Same with Bursitis.  Stop telling clients they have Bursitis until you've seen the damn thing.  Likewise Tendonitis.  Find the swelling first, then diagnose.  Massage shouldn't cure Arthritis, Bursitis, or Tendonitis.  It may, due to endorphin release make the condition feel better for a bit.  But if you get a series of massages (3 or 4) and it makes the pain go away, and stay away (I mean for weeks or months, not hours), you probably didn't have any of those conditions to begin with.   But it can do wonders if the pain is actually caused by trigger points.  Another hint, if any of these conditions don't respond to anti-inflammatories, you've probably got the wrong diagnosis.

Speaking of conditions massage really shouldn't cure: Sinusitis.   There is no reason on earth my massaging the muscles of the face should make sinusitis go away, and stay away.  There are very good reasons why a snort or two of Affrin should alleviate the pain for a bit.   Please stop medicating people with clean sinuses for sinusitis.

Stop telling patients who come into the emergency room for a sprain or strain to put heat on it when they go home.  Please!  Especially don't give them a cocktail of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and then tell them to put heat on it for twenty minutes every hour for the first two days.  In case of sprain or strain all the muscle relaxer does is make the patient loopy.  If they've torn a ligament then the relaxer is useless, if they've torn a muscle, once more useless.  You aren’t treating a muscle spasm if you’ve got a tear.  The anti-inflammatories are great, but when you've got the person putting heat on the area, it cancels out the anti-inflammatory.  Analgesics are great, make sure they get good ones.  Heat is stupid, not just cause it cancels out the anti-inflammatory, but because it makes the area feel better for a little while, increases blood flow which then stagnates in the muscle, causing stiffness and more pain.  I've gotten a reputation as a miracle worker by telling clients to switch from heat to ice.  Also, basic first aid, RICE  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  Note:  Heat is not on that list.

I know that it is not easy to be a doctor.  I know your time is short, and your patients don’t always know what to tell you to get a good diagnosis.  I know that some of the clients I see are dopes and just didn’t understand what was said to them.  But since a good 80% of my client base are people diagnosed with problems that miraculously get better through massage therapy, I have to assume they can’t all be idiots.  Likewise, after more than five people tell you the same practice told them to do the same thing for the same condition, (heat for sprain) and no one has ever reported that practice telling them to use ice, you’ve got to assume that said doctor just doesn’t get it.

So please, make my job easier.  Take better histories.  Learn to ask the questions your patients don’t know are important.  Palpate!  Your fingers will tell you wonderful things.  Your patients will love you for your concern, and will be much less likely to sue if something does get messed up.  And, I’ll be able to look at my intake sheet, see Fibromyalgia, and treat accordingly, without having to spend the next hour trying to figure out if I’ve got someone who really has it or not.   


An Open Letter...

So the 2006 political season is starting to heat up, and once more abortion is on the list of things to be beaten into the ground.  So here is a challenge I'd like to lay at the feet of any pro-choice person running for office.  Please provide me with a logical, philosophically consistent defense of legal abortion if you are also in favor of keeping drug use illegal.

Or put it this way, if it's my right to choose what's in my uterus, why isn't it my right to choose what goes in my lungs, veins, nose, etc.?  Heck, I live in Virginia, where I can't get into a car without a seat belt.  Why do I only have sovereign rights over one organ of my body?  Why do men have no sovereign rights over any parts of their bodies?   In states like New Jersey a female child can get an abortion, without telling her parents, but she can't ride a bike without a helmet.  Once more the question stands: Is it her body, and if so does she have sovereign rights to that body? 

If, as it is so often said on posters and shouted by protester, "My body, my choice!"  why is only one part of said body protected? 

Does this double standard make sense to anyone?  Either we own our bodies, in which case abortion, drug use, right to die issues, seat belt laws, helmet laws, are all issues to be determined by the person who owns said body.   Or we do not own our bodies, in which case the law has every right to decide these issues for us.  But, if we do not own our bodies, please stop yelling about "My Body, My Choice!" and come up with a more honest justification for legal abortion. 

Take Umbridge

One of the best indicators of the HP world growing up comes in OOTP where we are introduced to a new kind of character.  Someone who is evil, and not a Death Eater.  It’s the first time we see a blurring of the traditional  Us V. Them lines.   It is also the first time we see a main character (Hermione) act in a manner that could, probably would, get someone killed, on purpose.  I’d like to take a few moments to look at who Umbridge is, and why Hermione’s actions are appropriate to the moral lessons she’s been absorbing in the Potterverse over her five years at Hogwarts.
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