White Coat Underground

Incoherent rant #37

Now, both of my readers may note that: 1) the number “37″ appears to be randomly assigned, and 2) “incoherent” would appear to be redundant. But let me explain.

Many, many years ago I injured my back. It got better. Until 3 a.m. this morning. Since then, I have been a walking question mark, except when I’m laying on the X-ray table or floor trying to find a flat surface from which I might just have a chance to get up again. It’s both humiliating and humorous to hobble through an enormous American hospital holding onto the walls. Normally, I stride rapidly from room to room, down tunnels and hallways. Today, I limp—when I’m lucky.

There’s a couple of things about severe low back pain. First, it almost always gets better all by itself. Second, it makes me really short-tempered. If I were to take a little bit of cyclobenzaprine, I’d be even crankier, so I’ve eschewed that particular muscle relaxant in favor of other pharmaceuticals.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of right-wing wackaloons lately, and their stultifying dishonesty makes my skin itch. They bitch and moan about how Obama stole the election by coercing votes from the downtrodden, by enrolling the illiterate, and by some other ill-defined shenanigans. They conveniently forget that Bush won his first election by fiat, and the second by borderline voter fraud. The fact that turnout was the highest in recent history and the margin was sound seems to be lost on them. Sore. Fucking. Losers. (Damned medication again).

But worst than the right-wing wackaloonery of the conservatiariat is the re-emergence of the (so-called) intellectual libertarians. These folks are very well-read when it comes to their favorite political philosophers, and like to go on about Spooner this, Bakunin that, Rand the other…it’s really quite erudite—AND FUCKING IRRELEVANT TO REAL LIFE! Some of these folks are textual originalists, believing that any law passed after the consitutional convention is unconstitutional, or that the Constitution itself is a tyrannical document. Lovely. Fucking anarchist pigs.

It reminds me of my late nights in Ann Arbor discussing post-modernist and critical/Marxist interpretations of, well everything. It was fascinating, but had nothing to do with the real world.

In the real world, we have a Constitutional government, which is made up of millions of citizens who disagree about all sorts of things, but who live by the law and the founding documents. Many of these citizens are struggling, looking for work, homes, food, jobs. When another libertarian crawls out from some survivalist cave and denounces government involvement in anything, they reveal how little they are able to empathize with real people, people who live among other people, who are stuck with the world (approximately) as it is, and not as some Randian “paradise”.

Hey, reading Heinlein was fun…IN 7TH GRADE! In the real world, citizenship isn’t contingent on “service” or even literacy. Individuals are citizens because the Constitution designates them as such, and no one can take that away.

OK, look, I know this is an uncharacteristically frank rant, but dammit, my back is killing me and I’m cranky, and feeling less than tolerant of intellectual game-players who are busy publicly masturbating while America burns.

Here’s my invitation for you: join the real world, with real people in it, or shut the fuck up.

(yeah, i’ll regret this when the pain and medication wears off…so the fuck what!)

Comments

  1. #1 jc
    January 27, 2009

    Fucking anarchist pigs.

    HA! Did you follow Dr. Physioprof’s orders to take your meds with motherfucking Jameson? You’re a hoot when you’re jacked up. Feel better Pal:)

  2. #2 Noadi
    January 27, 2009

    Wow, your back must really be excruciating. Not that I disagree with your point but either the meds or the pain has totally thrown all your inhibition control out the window. I hope you feel better soon.

    By the way, I think most libertarians have a total lack of ability to empathize as well.

  3. #3 Egaeus
    January 27, 2009

    But, but, but….Ayn Rand proved that government is bad, and that unrestricted free markets make for a perfect utopian paradise!

    Yeah, Libertarians are a special kind of crazy. Anarchy…err…I mean libertarianism is like communism. It’s a perfect system as long as you have perfect people, but perfect people seem to be in very short supply.

    Feel better soon. I feel you pain. Between mild scoliosis and a “lift and twist” injury that gave me sciatica, it’s always a crapshoot for me whether I’ll be able to move normally from one day to the next, so I can empathize.

  4. #4 Mike Dunford
    January 27, 2009

    Man, that sucks. I slipped a disc in November, and it took about a month for things to really improve. I’m not sure how I’d have made it without the cyclobenzaprine. Of course, it was easier for me to take it, since it just makes me comatose, not cranky.

  5. #5 Comrade PhysioProf
    January 27, 2009

    Dude, I’m sorry your back hurts, but it sure is good for your blogging! w00t!!!

  6. #6 leigh
    January 27, 2009

    you’ve taken something else that gives you just a wee bit of disinhibition, i see! feel better soon. back pain is a real beast, i get cranky too.

    also- psst, reality is too complicated for some people.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    January 27, 2009

    I sincerely hope it doesn’t take your back hurting for you to do more of this around here. The blog I was getting this sort of thing from recently seems to have closed up shop.

    Feel better and no regrets, please.

  8. #8 bad Jim
    January 28, 2009

    During one of my many bouts with severe back pain, I was able to obtain an evening’s complete remission with just a liter or so of red wine. Wonderful!

    I was no better the next morning, of course.

  9. #9 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 28, 2009

    Libertianism shares many things with communism, one of them being absolutism.

    When you’re back isn’t hurting, remember the rage, and post more like these.

  10. #10 Juniper Shoemaker
    January 28, 2009

    Great post!

  11. #11 kaelsleeps
    January 28, 2009

    Don’t regret it.

  12. #12 Cannonball Jones
    January 28, 2009

    Hehe, that cheered me up for the day. Must say I get much the same when my back plays up, been intermittently awful after lifting for too many kitchen tiles than was sensible a few years back. Will have to remember to blog the next time it happens, see if I can digitise the same amount of venom :-)

  13. #13 Dianne
    January 28, 2009

    I hope your back is feeling better. And there’s nothing wrong with the post except that it throws out a lot of points that I’d like to see you rant about in detail in later posts.

    May I also suggest that if you haven’t already done so you get a colleague to cover your patients until you’re feeling better? You can’t do your best for someone else when you’re in severe pain or taking mind altering substances to control the pain. (I hope this advice is redundant but doctors are notorious for ignoring their own medical problems because they are under the delusion that they are indispensible and the hospital will fall apart if they’re not there. Trust me, it’s a delusion. Your colleagues may grumble at the extra work but they’ll survive and they’ll take care of your patients.)

  14. #14 D. C. Sessions
    January 28, 2009

    By the way, I think most libertarians have a total lack of ability to empathize as well.

    Please do us the favor of distinguishing between the lower-case L libertarians (the “civil liberty” wing, if you will) and the anarchist loons who get most of the headlines. Not all of us, after all, are living in a world of coin-operated streetlights.

  15. #15 PalMD
    January 28, 2009

    I’m not so sure there’s a real difference.

  16. #16 Orac
    January 28, 2009

    Libertianism shares many things with communism, one of them being absolutism.

    It also shares many things with fundamentalism, in particular a worship of a document or a few key documents (the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) that lead to insisting on a literalist interpretation of said documents, along with a tendency to insist on the narrowest possible reading of the parts of said documents that fit in with the ideology and to be willing to–shall we say?–interpret, ignore, or dismiss parts of said documents that do not.

  17. #17 Rev Matt
    January 28, 2009

    I use Rand as a critical litmus test for evaluating how seriously to take someone. I figured out she was completely detached from the real world when I was about 15. How anyone much older than that can take her any more seriously than the they do the sociopolitical philosophy of J.K. Rowling* is beyond me.

    *an almost immeasurably better writer than Rand, to be sure.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    January 28, 2009

    Hope you feel better soon.I might add that if you watch *any* political or business news channels lately there is a surplus of rant-inducing material.Speaking solely for myself,if I hear “tax cut” or have to see House Minority Leader Boehner one more time…

  19. #19 James Pannozzi
    January 28, 2009

    PalMD unwisely stated:

    “There’s a couple of things about severe low back pain. First, it almost always gets better all by itself.”

    NO, it most certainly does NOT if there is disk degeneration, nerve impingement, herniated disk or any of a large number of other conditions causing the pain.

    Now go read some “Atlas Shrugged” and you’ll soon be laughing so hard you’ll forget all about the pain.

    PalMD also sometimes gets things exactly right as in this statement:

    “They bitch and moan about how Obama stole the election by coercing votes from the downtrodden, by enrolling the illiterate, and by some other ill-defined shenanigans. They conveniently forget that Bush won his first election by fiat, and the second by borderline voter fraud. The fact that turnout was the highest in recent history and the margin was sound seems to be lost on them. Sore. Fucking. Losers. (Damned medication again).”

    Wow, me in full agreement with PalMD, well miracles do happen.

  20. #20 libertarian democrat
    January 28, 2009

    Hope you feel better soon.

    I am mainly commenting to defend libertarians; I would like to share my personal story as a counter-example.

    Not all of us libertarians like Ayn Rand. Personally, I think her writing is full of more straw men than a Wizard of Oz convention. I also find a large segment of libertarians to be extremely short-sighted and not particularly open-minded.

    But not all of us are like that. Some of us live in the real world. Personally, I work in neuroscience research and am applying to medical school. I’ve spent hundreds of hours volunteering to work with autistic children, and I hope to work as a primary care pediatrician specifically focusing on working with developmentally children of low-income families, because I think that’s where I personally can do the most good (and, of course, I think I would enjoy it beyond just the feeling of satisfaction).

    We aren’t all as crazy as the fringes make us sound, nor are we all suffer from antisocial personality disorder.

  21. #21 libertarian democrat
    January 28, 2009

    I could, however, use a copy editor to check my grammar when I make changes.

  22. #22 moneduloides
    January 28, 2009

    Spooner, Bakunin and Rand all in the same sentence?

    I’m never personally offended when people assume I love Ayn Rand when I say I am an anarchist; I just politely suggest a few very short documents that outline the massive difference (see, Rand and Bakunin fall on exact opposite ends of the political spectrum) between American libertarianism (a.k.a free market capitalism) and libertarianism proper (a.k.a libertarian socialism, libertarian communism, anarchism, etc…).

    I, however, do take slight offense when I’m labeled as not “living in the real world.” The critical eye I use everyday in my work as a scientist does not simply end when I begin to read historical and political documents. Your statement that the political philosophy of the far left (and far right, you seem to have trouble differentiating the two) is irrelevant to everyday life may be true in some sense, in the sense that every political philosophy is irrelevant until it possesses the backing of enough of a population to actually change lives.

    My political philosophy is developed by both history and my life experience, and has led me to be involved greatly in labour activism the world over. Real change has happened due to me and other people like me gathering together for a common cause, and I really can’t see a more real way I could be living in the “real world.”

    Anyway, I hope your back feels better. After standing for an eight hour latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction yesterday I can definitely identify with at least some of what you’re feeling. What exactly happened to your back – the original injury?

  23. #23 PalMD
    January 28, 2009

    Results: 15 studies of variable methodological quality were included. Rapid improvements in pain (mean reduction 58% of initial scores), disability (58%), and return to work (82% of those initially off work) occurred in one month. Further improvement was apparent until about three months. Thereafter levels for pain, disability, and return to work remained almost constant. 73% of patients had at least one recurrence within 12 months.
    Conclusions: People with acute low back pain and associated disability usually improve rapidly within weeks. None the less, pain and disability are typically ongoing, and recurrences are common.

    BMJ 2003;327:323 (9 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7410.323
    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/327/7410/323

  24. #24 Noadi
    January 28, 2009

    D. C. Sessions: Of course I make a distinction between the two as I’m a firm supporter of civil liberties. Unfortunately the name libertarian has been hijacked by the lunatics, the sane might want to either get their name back or find a new one.

  25. #25 D. C. Sessions
    January 28, 2009

    I’m not so sure there’s a real difference.

    I presume that’s a reply to “anarchists vs. civil libertarians.”

    The simple test is this: A Libertarian is fine with the telephone company listening in on your conversations and offended if the Government interferes with their right to do so. A civil libertarian is offended if the Government doesn’t defend your privacy against the phone company.

  26. #26 DuWayne
    January 28, 2009

    First, I can totally sympathize with the pain. After I spent almost six years as a roofer, followed by years of handywork that often required contorted positioning and working over my head, I have come to live with a significant amount of pain. I have basically accepted it and learned to live with the baseline of “ouch, that hurts.” It’s the days when I wake up, unable to move my neck, or wishing I could actually stand up straight that really make me empathize.

    I’m not so sure there’s a real difference.

    There is a very big difference. On the one hand, you have folks who just believe that principal must always trump the reality of a given situation. People who flat out believe that agencies like OSHA are inherently unconstitutional and an unnecessary evil. Then you have folks who believe in the principle, but accept that the reality of human nature requires that such principles should not trump necessity.

    I may often disagree with little l libertarians (my brother among them) when it comes to issues such as welfare and healthcare, they are a far cry from rabid Libertarian extremists. They tend to have a lot of liberal values that transcend traditional political divisiveness, accepting that many of their allies on a particular issue, may well fight them tooth and nail on others. They also tend not to allow their beliefs to get in the way of rational discourse. They usually have a lot of respect for those who thoughtfully disagree with them.

    Then we have the “civil libertarians” such as myself, who believe that while government has an important role to play in securing not only our rights, but our safety, individual liberty is also important. While I can wax poetic about the financial cost of the war on vice (for one example) and many other pragmatic considerations, my belief in the individual right to do with my body as I please is tantamount. Keeping in mind that I also believe strongly in health and safety regulations and a comprehensive (if not very different approach to) welfare system.

    There are just a whole lot of shades getting lumped in here, that amount to very significant differences.

  27. #27 moneduloides
    January 28, 2009

    I just now read Orac’s comment above, and this all just seems to be a case of over-generalization. Communists come in different flavours, and if you’re discussing Marxists-Leninists then you are right in saying that they worship the documents upon which their philosophy is founded. If you go to a forum like revleft you just see people arguing the details of Marx’s treatise day in and day out. Not all leftists are Marxists-Leninists, though, not all leftists are even communists, and if you were to check out a place like libcom.org (libertarian-communism) you might see that there are a few people in this world that treat the foundational documents of their political philosophy with just as much of a critical eye as any one of us interested in evolutionary biology would treat ‘The Origin of Species’. In my experience libertarian-communists tend to be more critical of Marx than most liberals.

    Anyway, I am certainly not going to convince you here in the comment section of a blog post that it’s possible for somebody to be a leftist and intelligent (see, not a lunatic), but if you want a good example I would say that Noam Chomsky is probably the most popular individual I could name that meets these criteria. If you don’t care to look, then that certainly isn’t my problem.

  28. #28 MattXIV
    January 28, 2009

    Grammar Note:

    Libertarian with a capital L refers to the Libertarian Party while libertarian with a lower-case L refers to the ideology. It works the same way as Democratic vs democratic. The party names are proper nouns, so the adjectives derived from them are capitalized – that’s all there is to it.

  29. #29 PalMD
    January 28, 2009

    I’m not sure where it came across that one cannot be lefty and intelligent…i consider myself both.

  30. #30 libertarian democrat
    January 28, 2009

    moneduloides,

    I believe he was talking more about those of us that are closer to the minarchists/constitutionalists/anarchocapitalists than traditional libertarian socialists/communists.

  31. #31 MattXIV
    January 28, 2009

    Duwayne,

    You don’t get how PalMD/Chris/Mark think. All libertarians disagree with them, and the only reason someone would disagree with them is if they were advancing an argument in bad faith or some kind of mental or moral cripple, thus there is no need for them to address specific lines of libertarian reasoning because they’re all evil subhumans who stomp on kittens in the name of the almighty dollar. And if you disagree, you’re one of them too.

  32. #32 D. C. Sessions
    January 28, 2009

    Unfortunately the name libertarian has been hijacked by the lunatics, the sane might want to either get their name back or find a new one.

    I’m getting tired of having to rename myself because the more appropriate label has been redefined. I am, if you will, something of an 18th century “liberal:” primarily focussed on liberty, and not so much on any particular social program. Once you filter out marketing and self-deception, most public controversies over social programs turn into nuts-and-bolts pragmatic resource allocation issues.

    From time to time, those most opposed to liberty have been members of either the left or the right, and those most dedicated to it from all over the spectrum. I need a label, though; calling Barry Goldwater a “liberal” is likely to cause traumatic cranial overpressure in most audiences.

  33. #33 PalMD
    January 28, 2009

    I actually consider myself a pretty hard-core civil libertarian, but the larger philosophy of anarcho-libertarianism is very troubling to me.

  34. #34 DuWayne
    January 28, 2009

    Why, when I have a lot of homework to do, did I even think of reloading this page? I really should be researching for my paper on addiction……

    MattXIV

    Sorry, but I do not use Libertarian to refer to the Libertarian political party. When I use the term big L Libertarian, I am using it in a very specific context to denote a very specific group of people. When I am referring to the Libertarian party, I throw the word party in there. Similarly, when I am talking about idiots who believe in absolute democracy, I refer to them as big D Democrats (though with more then contextual denotation that I am not referring to the political party).

    You don’t get how PalMD/Chris/Mark think. All libertarians disagree with them, and the only reason someone would disagree with them is if they were advancing an argument in bad faith or some kind of mental or moral cripple, thus there is no need for them to address specific lines of libertarian reasoning because they’re all evil subhumans who stomp on kittens in the name of the almighty dollar.

    I am good and goddamn well capable of judging for myself, what I think those gents think about the topics they write about, thank you very much. It is ironic that in a comment bemoaning the simplistic thinking you accuse others of, you are engaging in it yourself. I happen to disagree with Pal on this topic, but I am not narrow enough to think that he’s incapable of making a few distinctions. Because I respect Pal and generally agree with what he has to say, I’m more than happy to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Pal -

    I actually consider myself a pretty hard-core civil libertarian, but the larger philosophy of anarcho-libertarianism is very troubling to me.

    But there is a great deal of distinction outside those two positions. I think the thing you’re missing in this, is that there are a lot of libertarians who believe in anarcho-libertarianism as an ideal to aspire to, but realistically understand that an ideal is what it is. Honestly, I have enough faith in humanity to believe that someday the human race may actually achieve the ideal, even though it is obviously an impossibility right now. And I think that is the position of a lot of small l libertarians, though most of those who actually consider themselves libertarians are at odds with many political positions that I think are critical.

    I think the best way to express the distinction I’m trying to make is this; Small l libertarians see anarcho-libertarianism as an ideal for humanity to aspire to. Big L Libertarians see anarcho-libertarianism as their absolute right, damn the consequences. And I think that’s an important distinction to make. The former has a fair grounding in reality and evidence, while the latter is simple selfishness.

    Must not reload this damned page again. Must – Not – Do – It……..

  35. #35 Dianne
    January 28, 2009

    Must not reload this damned page again. Must – Not – Do – It……..

    He says, reloading the page.

  36. #36 The Perky Skeptic
    January 28, 2009

    @ D.C. Sessions– ROFLOL! I feel the absolute same way about having to re-label my own sociopolitical leanings once someone else has made a laughingstock of them. Now I call myself “cautious.” ;)

    @ PalMD, you need a chiropractor to look at those subluxations! Which are real. But subduction is fake, ’cause the earth is expanding. And the reason you’re still in pain is because you don’t really want to be pain-free. Do you think your back injury was more likely caused by vaccines or by chemtrails? Have you tried magnet therapy?

    (There! Now don’t you feel better? :D)

  37. #37 moneduloides
    January 28, 2009

    So, it appears we’re all just confused on labels.

    Libertarian

    - In the United States this usually refers to the libertarian party, which is a philosophy of the (almost) pure free market.

    - In the rest of the world it is a synonym for anarchism. In fact, the word was first used in France during a time when the word ‘anarchiste’ was banned from use in print, as a sort of replacement.

    When you speak of Ayn Rand you are speaking of “Anarcho-capitalism” which is a term that makes most leftists want to “slap a bitch”. Bakunin, on the other hand, was a collectivist anarchist. He was the antithesis of Marx at the International, and would be placed on the other end of the political spectrum from Rand. People like Noam Chomsky hover around the libertarian-socialist/libertarian-communist philosophy, which descends from individuals like Petr Kropotkin and Nestor Makhno.

    Not that anybody really cares…

  38. #38 MattXIV
    January 28, 2009

    Duwayne,

    I’ve been familiar with denialism blog since it’s inception and I feel justified in my low opinion of it’s residents ability to have intellectually honest disagreements with people who don’t share their politics, especially with regard to libertarianism.

  39. #39 Frank
    January 29, 2009

    I have had back pain like yours. It very unpleasant. I hope you recover soon.

  40. #40 Joseph Hewitt
    January 30, 2009

    I really hope that your back feels better soon, but in the meantime that was a beautiful rant.

  41. #41 NonNun
    January 30, 2009

    PalMD, having been directed here by a like-minded friend I am delighted to see the end result of your analgesic use. I wouldn’t call your statement a rant, however. I would call it a very basic and practical description of the Libertarian obsession.

    My usual responses to Libertarian posturing are full-blown rants, but that’s a different story. Take care of that back. Spasms are nature’s way of keeping us humble.

  42. #42 NonNun
    January 30, 2009

    PalMD, having been directed here by a like-minded friend I am delighted to see the end result of your analgesic use. I wouldn’t call your statement a rant, however. I would call it a very basic and practical description of the Libertarian obsession.

    My usual responses to Libertarian posturing are full-blown rants, but that’s a different story. Take care of that back. Spasms are nature’s way of keeping us humble.

  43. #43 Curt
    February 1, 2009

    There are so many damn labels in politics every time a political discussion commences it inevitably turns into an argument over semantics.

  44. #44 youtube
    February 3, 2009

    Libertianism shares many things with communism, one of them being absolutism.

    When you’re back isn’t hurting, remember the rage, and post more like these.

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