Author: romiesays

Iran Nuclear Deal

Reality Check 1: Trump is not able to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Only Congress can do that. Only Congress has treaty power. It’s in the Constitution and is also how it works in practice. They have 60 days to decide whether to stay in, which I think most adults would acknowledge is a good idea, including the many many congressional incumbents who are the ones who signed the deal in the first place. Also, the head of the senate foreign relations committee is Bob Corker and if you don’t know why that’s significant, search his name it’s fun.

Reality Check 2: National media needs to stop cutting to live Trump press conferences. He just makes stuff up. It’s not news. It’s like cutting to a puppet show, but a scary puppet show. C-SPAN can air all of it live and unedited because that’s their thing. The rest of you, come on.

Advertisements

Quick Hormonal Birth Control Science Explainer

Yesterday, I saw a guy suggest that women who lose insurance coverage can go buy one of seven birth control brands offered by Walmart for $9—and that sounds like a broadly-applicable solution, but only if you don’t understand hormonal birth control. Most birth control pills have two hormones in them: one which convinces your body it’s producing a hormone it isn’t producing, and one which binds with a hormone in your bloodstream to mask it and convince your body it isn’t there. There are more than a dozen variations of each of these components, and hundreds of ways they could be combined.

How a given hormonal combination reacts with the body of an individual woman varies widely. The same pill will raise one woman’s sex drive and kill another’s. It’ll clear up one person’s acne and give another one acne. It’ll cause one to gain weight and one to lose it. It might be mood stabilizing, or cause severe depression. There are hormonal sliders the pill is moving, and you have no way to know in advance what this woman’s presets are, let alone how responsive her sliders will be to a set of chemicals she hasn’t tested personally.

Think of birth control pills as if they’re chili. There’s a whole bunch of different things called chili, and even if you know you want chili, a particular batch might have no ingredients in common with another batch. It might include elements you’re allergic to, or might be too spicy, or it might have none of the characteristics you want when you say “chili”. Beans v no beans, white v red, chicken v beef v vegetarian – the world of chili is vast.

Unlike with chili, you need a prescription for hormonal birth control, because although you’re probably safe if you’re on the same pill you’ve been taking for a while, you don’t really know how your body is going to react to a new one and it could react by forming blood clots that try to kill you. Testing a bunch of different kinds is strongly discouraged, and also impossible because your pharmicist wouldn’t give you a different kind of pill than the one prescribed to you. On top of that, the first month after you switch or start a pill variant is the most dangerous – is the time you’re most likely to have a life-threatening adverse reaction. When you think about switching types, you weigh that risk against the side effects you’re already experiencing.

(Why not opt out if it’s so dangerous, you might say. The answer is that pregnancy is even more dangerous. Sincerely, that is the reason the FDA thinks the risks are acceptable for female hormonal birth control but not male hormonal birth control.)

To make this less abstract, here are three forms of hormonal birth control I have used and how my specific body reacted to them:

Microgestin (norethisterone acetate and ethanyl estradiol) is great for me. I feel totally normal for the most part, with better skin and a slightly increased sex drive which is enough to be fun but not inconvenient.

Microgynon (levonorgestrel and ethanyl estradiol) is what I was prescribed when I moved to England, where Microgestin was not available. It makes me way more teary than my normal self. Not for the most part depressed, but more likely to burst into tears over something small. During two of the seven days of the month when I took spacer pills (the ones with no hormone that allow you to experience withdrawal bleeding, aka fake period) I felt delicate and bereft and wanted to be held by my partner – felt like I was mourning a very early miscarriage. This is a strange experience to get from a pill you take to ensure an egg will never be released and fertilized, and it felt simultaneously real and fake, the way “hangry” feels falser than angry.

Qlaira (dienogest and estradiol valerate) is what I was prescribed in Italy. The first month, I had terrible headaches. Those cleared up, but for the entire two years I was on this, I was emotionally flat and had no sex drive, and experienced constant dryness in parts of my body that shouldn’t have been dry. I didn’t get my libido back until more than a month after I stopped taking it.

None of this is a guide to what other women could expect. We can’t compare notes and say “I liked this one; you should try it” or “you have almond-shaped eyes, so clearly the best pill for you is lavender-colored.” However, you can see why maybe it could be a significant daily burden not to be able to take your preferred pill formulation. Of the three pills I listed above, Migrogynon is the only one with generic $9 Walmart equivalents. Otherwise, they offer progesterones I haven’t tried: norgestimate, norethisterone (not the same chemical as norethisterone acetate), and desogestrel.

Had She Never Asked Me

Watch this video; it’s an excellent 6-minute blackbox dance and spoken word piece. You’ve probably seen this style of performance done badly before; this is what it looks like done well.

The central performer is Daniel J Watts, who you maybe know from Hamilton or from the protest flashmob Love Terrorists Unite.

New BBC shortform doc about the Great Green Wall

Watch it here.

The most sci-fi moonshot project going on right now isn’t the hyperloop—it’s the Great Green Wall. They are literally fighting a battle to hold back the desert with a gigantic created forest that cuts all the way across Africa. It’s like the Wall in Game of Thrones, but with heat and not cold. The African Union has been building it since 2005 (I don’t know how to get across how huge it is) and I love it and will always post news stories about it. Hats off to Senegal particularly.

Criminal History

In general my life has been very free of crime except that my copy of The Police greatest hits CD has been stolen at least three times. Also one year my car window was smashed multiple times in multiple locations but only when I had a Pixies CD in the car. (This is a trick correlation because I always had a Pixies CD in the car.)

There was one time it seemed like I was about to get mugged but instead I got directions to the train station. Literally, I was on the wrong side of the tracks and didn’t seem to belong around there. I appreciated the help.


Raiff: Were three different copies of the CD stolen or was the same CD stolen three times?

Romie: Three different copies. It would get stolen, I would replace it, and it would get stolen again. I might have undercounted; it happened a lot of times. At this point I think of it as a public service I do for people who think the Police are really catchy but who are for some reason too embarassed to walk up to the counter of a record store with such a poppy collection.

Vengeance Demon at Heart

A pretty common narrative in stories of male misbehavior is that the woman is told to keep it quiet because “do you want to ruin his career? do you want to break up his family?” This is apparently a very effective (and very messed up) way to take some of the best parts of socialized femininity (empathy, concern for community) and warp them into something harmful, which is my least favorite kind of con.

But also it draws my attention to how much of a vengeance demon I am at heart, because yes absolutely I want to ruin his career and break up his family. That’s exactly what I want—it sounds great. I’ve never been sexually assaulted and I’ve never met this guy, but I am basically a tornado in human form. If you’re reading this, I have probably considered breaking up your family and ruining your career at least once and probably right now. I think about doing it to my own self, even. I might actually be one of the Furies.