Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dentistry still seems a bit barbaric to me.

The Good Book

There are lots of versions of the Bible – The King James version, a version for each language, and even one interpreted by the pastor of my Church. But I haven’t seen one written and signed by God himself. Therefore, every version of the Bible available to us was written by human hands and influenced by human bias, opinions and laws of the time it was written.

Add to that the fact that each person that reads the words of the Bible will get a different meaning from them subject to their own opinions, biases, and laws of the time it is being read.

Therefore the Bible can only be used as a GUIDE and not an absolute rule. And it should be YOUR guide only.

Happy are those that find salvation in their hearts and not in a book.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pay Attention to Your Party

I hope Republicans are paying attention to how their political party is reacting to recent events. The rash of scandals in the GOP party may certainly be due to near election politics, but how the party is handling those accusations should be noted.

The Mark Foley scandal is a perfect example. Rather than owning up to the charges, which are most likely true, they simply whisked him off to rehab and tried to blame his actions on a drinking problem. Then, even worse, they broke the news that poor Mark was molested as a child by a Priest. If true, in either case, these are not excuses for Mr. Foley's actions. He is a grown man in a very powerful position and he should be held responsible for his behavior.

If I were a Republican (gasp!), I would be very concerned at how quickly and easily their political leaders can twist the facts to hide their misdeeds. Can they really be trusted at all?

The Republicans made a very big deal about President Clinton's sex scandal to the point of impeaching a very good President. Its time they own up - not cover up their own scandals.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A bizarre Theory

The more I look at the amazing pictures from orbiting telescopes like Hubble and some of the newer land based telescopes, the more I ponder what it is all about. Everything is swirling and circulating about in a manor that used to seem random, but the more we see the more organized it becomes. I think I'm going to officially declare a far-out theory (pardon the pun) which I have hinted at before. After all, many fantastic discoveries in the past began as a ridiculous theories - so here goes.

I believe that what we are looking at out in space is a flow of energy through a confined space - of which we haven't seen the boundaries yet. I think we are part of a "blood stream" of sorts for a much larger "organism". The energy from stars and galaxies feed this "organism" like our blood cells feed our bodies. Earth and it's inhabitants are rather insignificant to this total picture, much like a bacteria or smaller organisms are insignificant in our bodies - but all are needed to support the "organism" in some way.

This, of course, would be nearly impossible to prove with our current technology. But who knows, maybe someone will look back one day and say I was visionary. I hope it happens before we pass through the "heart" and get all mixed up.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Ominous Cloud of AIDS - Part 3 of 3 "The Future"

In the first two parts of this series I discussed how the fear of HIV / AIDS has affected many decisions in my life. I also talked of how the disease itself has progressed from a certain death sentence to a “manageable illness” – at least in the United States. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to imagine a world without AIDS? Sadly, that prospect seems unlikely for several reasons. Normally I consider myself an optimist, but when it comes to this disease I’m not so optimistic about the future. While great discoveries have been made in the treatment of HIV, I believe political and social issues will keep us from having a real cure any time soon. Let’s explore each of those separately.

What does politics have to do with HIV? Plenty. In developed countries like the United States, many treatments are becoming available every day but these treatments are always quite expensive. Thankfully most people are covered by some sort of health insurance so their own costs are minimized. But this only makes the scandal easier to perpetuate. The pharmaceutical companies learned many years ago that there is no money in a cure. They know they can make an incredible fortune by just treating people with expensive drugs to keep them alive and somewhat “normal”. A cure would certainly cut into those profits. We live in what I call a “subscription society” these days in everything from electronic services to health care. People are actually renting their health. It’s sad.

Perhaps that view is a bit of a conspiracy theory, but the social issues are very real. You will notice that my discussion so far has focused on life here in the United States were people are living near normal lives with HIV. Such is not the case in most of the rest of the world. Less developed countries are experiencing AIDS in the worst way. It is spreading out of control and millions of people are still dying. Lack of education on safe practices and denial have fueled this pandemic to a point where entire generations of people have died – their children left orphans, their economies in shambles. The pharmaceutical company’s visions of profits do not apply in places where people can’t even afford to eat and so they are left to simply die.

Denial is even worse. AIDS is still considered a “gay” disease and many people in developing countries, and even here in the USA, don’t get tested because of that negative stigma. Not knowing they have HIV allows them to pass it along to their partners at an alarming rate. But this pandemic isn’t a gay disease anymore. It affects straight women more than anyone else these days and mothers can pass HIV on to their fetus. Until people get past this hatred of gay people and the disease still connected to it, AIDS will continue to spread out of control.

With these political and social issues preventing a cure for AIDS I think I am justified in being a bit pessimistic on the future. But it has been said that time heals all and I pray that a cure for AIDS will be made available to everyone in the world very soon. Until then the ominous cloud hangs over those infected and affected and the decisions they make – including me.

The Ominous Cloud of AIDS - Part 2 of 3 "The Present"

I thank God every day for my health and for keeping me safe from HIV / AIDS. But even though this disease is no longer the death sentence that it once was, the ominous cloud still hangs heavy over my life and my decisions.

After my last real relationship ended (suddenly and unexpectedly) I began to explore my new found sexual freedom. But STD's of all sorts, including the ever present HIV, are alive and well and I find that I am living in the middle of one of the highest risk areas in the United States. It’s still terrifying.

Times have changed and now a hot sexual encounter is only a click of the mouse away. In a person’s on-line profile right next to their age, height, eye color etc., you will also find their HIV status. The problem is that many people lie or simply omit that critical information because it cuts down on their prospects. My theory has always been to treat everyone as if they are HIV positive and hopefully that will help keep me safe. It’s a good theory but in practice it is not so simple. Oral sex has always been an area of question as far as safety goes. Many studies have proven that the risk is low – but it is still a risk. I find that I am much more likely to have oral sex with someone if I think they are a safer risk. If I know for sure that someone is HIV positive, I tend to omit oral sex. In fact I try to avoid sexual encounters with known HIV positive people as much as possible. It is not good logic – especially since people do lie – but it does help me mentally. Of course condoms are the rule for me EVERY time for other activities. I know people who actually believe they won't catch HIV if they are only a top, or if they stop before climax. They are fools.

The “ominous cloud” that I have been speaking of is heaviest and scariest when it comes to the HIV test. I take the test every year and typically more often. Thankfully we no longer have to wait a whole week or two to get those results. That was pure torture several years ago with the mind going in all directions while I waited for the results. It’s only been in the last year or so that we can have the result within an hour. Still the test is scary - very scary, especially when one is sexually active in a place like S. Florida. But it is important to know your status, weather or not you think you might have HIV. I pray God will continue to keep me safe.

After having a bit of sexual freedom, I think I am ready for a real relationship again. I’ve met a couple of guys that I thought might be right for me. But as luck would have it, I found out they are healthy HIV positive people. I’m again faced with the decision of having a relationship with someone who is already positive. Perhaps it is a bit selfish to only want a long term relationship with someone without HIV, but it is a heavy mental burden for both people when one is positive and the other is not. The risk is always there. If I do find someone I feel strongly about, I hope I will not let the fear of HIV interfere with that relationship.

Today in the United States, HIV has become a “manageable illness”. Great advances have been made in the treatments available. But they are expensive and come with many complications and side effects. We haven’t gotten to the point of living a “normal” life with HIV but its close. So what does the future hold for those infected and affected by HIV? I will cover those views and opinions in part three of this series.