Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mail Call Brane(Pt. II)

Continuation of questions from Brane Space readers:

Q. I am a young, married woman of 28, whose husband of 34 recently had treatment for aggressive prostate cancer. This included a radical prostatectomy followed by hormone therapy using a combination of luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone LHRH or  Leuprolide (marketed as Lupron) and a non-steroidal anti-androgen (Bicalutamide). The problem is that though this treatment ended six months ago (the doctors took him off the hormones since) he has no interest in sex at all! Worse, he’s still bothered by the way the hormones caused his breasts to enlarge so is very body conscious. We have tried everything including massage therapy and even trying to use mutual masturbation, but nothing works! Even watching porn videos doesn’t have any effect! Do you have any suggestions, as I noticed you wrote a number of blogs on your own treatment as well as ‘penile rehabilitation’. – Alissa J., Roanoke, VA

A. One of the awful aspects brought out in your question is the way prostate cancer is striking at younger and younger males. To this day, the base causes are still being explored, but my theory is that at least half the new and more aggressive cases can be traced to carcinogenic chemicals, toxins in the environment.
Anyway, as I noted in the blog you referenced (Oct. 14, last year) the real need for the penile rehab is on account of  post-op scarring of the erectile tissue, which - if it progresses too far- will prevent the patient from ever getting his own erections back and lead to an endless struggle with medication. This was according to Dr. John P. Mulhall ('Saving Your Sex Life: A Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer') Dr. Mulhall is the Director of the Sexual & Reproductive Medicine Urology Service based at the Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center.

He notes that "the incidence of erectile tissue damage, as measured by the presence of venous leak is very uncommon before the fourth month after surgery". However, at eight months after surgery it  "occurs in about 30% of men and at one year 50% of men". This is why it's essential, if men care at all about their future sex lives, they do everything possible to ensure erections of some mode (they are graded on a scale of 1-10 for hardness) occur before the 4th month after radical surgery. Why do erections need to occur? Because the absence of blood, and hence oxygen getting into the penis, leads to ongoing and progressive atrophy and tissue scarring. Mulhall invokes the "use it lose it" saying here. In some cases, indeed, prolonged disuse engenders organs which are badly misshapen (bent as in a U-shape) and essentially unusable because of unequal scarring in different tissues.

His aim in penile rehabilitation is for the patient to chemically-manually induce at least 2-3 erections per week as soon as possible after the surgery (this would be especially needed if HT was to be started after recovery).  In Mulhall's penile rehab program, the pre-op use of PDE5 inhibitors (such as Viagra)  is implemented up to two weeks before surgery. Recall the chemical pathways here: the cavernous nerves close to the prostate gland secrete nitric oxide which stimulates release of an enzyme (cyclic GMP) inside the smooth muscle cells, which promotes relaxation of smooth muscles and erection. (PDE5 blocks release of cyclic GMP, so PDE 5 inhibitors block the action of the cyclic GMP- blocking PDE5's.)

Now, the question is whether your husband was put on such a pre-op therapy. If not, as Mulhall points out, then it would be much more difficult to get success later. Post-surgery, the patient gets a prescription for a PDE5 inhibitor the day the Foley catheter is removed. He is then told to take a full dose of Viagra (100 mg) or Levitra (20 mg) once per week with adequate accompanying stimulation to attain at least a 6 scale out of 10 erection. On the other 6 nights he's told to take a low dose pill (50 mg Viagra or 10 mg Levitra) before going to bed.  Again, if none of this was done, the difficulties would be much much greater in gaining any success. The problems would be magnified if hormone therapy was delivered soon after.

There are, of course, other alternatives as I noted in the blog, including using vacuum pumps as well as the drugs Bimix or Trimix with a 29-gauge needle 1/2" in length for penile injection (as recommended by Dr. Mulhall). There is also the option of having a penile implant, but this also requires surgery.

In any case, the best option is discuss these with a urologist and see what strategy might work at this phase. By all means, explore every possibility since losing one's sex life so early cannot be any fun!

Q. if the Shroud of Turin is separately re-tested and found to be genuine, and more evidence also comes forth to show it really was Jesus, would that make you give up atheism? – Brenda K., Scarsborough, NY

A. Not at all. Merely because the Shroud is proven to be historically accurate, doesn’t prove the additional hypothesis that Yeshua was a God-man. As I noted in my blog on the Mithra-Mithras God-man mythology:

Mithraism provides the template from which Christianity adopted all its savior myths, including being born of a virgin, rising from the dead, etc. Heck, the Christians even copied Mithras' birth date on Dec. 25th.

J.M. Robertson, author of Pagan Christs, observes (op. cit.)

The celebration of the Mithraic mysteries, of the burial and resurrection of the Lord, the Mediator and Savior, the sacrament of bread and water...all these were in practice long before the first Christian Gospel of a Lord who was buried in a rock tomb

Robertson (op. cit., p. 121) also cites other common symbols that the Christians appropriated from Mithraic traditions, including the Agnus Dei, or "Lamb of God". As he notes:

"The Christian assimilation of Mithraism is still more clearly seen in the familiar Christian symbol in which Christ is represented as a lamb, carrying by one forefoot a cross."

What about the way in which Christians have consistently copied images of Mithras and used them for Jesus? Robertson again (op. cit.) supplies an answer (p. 124):

"The Christian imitation, took place, be it observed, because the features imitated were found by experience to be religiously attractive."

It’s clear from this that the Mithras mythology sticks in the craw of many biblical literalists and even orthodox Christian non-literalists, since their dependency on the notion of one unique "Savior" exposes their egocentric certainty they alone possess the truth. But they are deluded. They merely possess an ancient God-man myth stolen from earlier sources.

More to the point, Oxford Scholar Geza Vermes in The Authentic Gospel of Jesus, dismisses the notion that Christ himself believed himself to be special or a God. Vermes points out any such belief on Christ's part would have been interpreted as self-idolatry. He never ever referred to himself as "Son of God" only as "Son of Man", nor did he dictate any belief be accorded him. All such references were fraudulent later additions.
Given all of this, if the Shroud is proven to be historically valid, all I’d be prepared to admit is that a man actually lived at the time indicated and this may well have been Yeshua.

But he wasn’t a special divine creation!

Q. Your blog on the next stock market crash (March 19) really has me worried with my 401k and all. From my reading, it seems like almost a 63% chance we will have a major correction and maybe as much as 90%. Couple of questions: 1) How long would it take to make up losses if there was a big crash or correction? And 2) What other places can a person put his money to get anything?- Regis M., Seattle, WA

A. The math for recouping major losses after stock market corrections is pretty straightforward. For example, a stock – or mutual fund- that drops in share price from, say $20 to $10 has suffered a 50% loss. But for that $10 stock or fund share price to return to $20 it must gain 100%, or double. This may take not just two or three years, but more than TWENTY! In some cases it may NEVER return!

Many cheerleaders, as well as innocent lay folk, do not know that if a share of anything goes down by 20%, it requires an advance of 25% to get back just to the breakeven point. If the value of a share drops 40 percent (as has occurred with some recent mutual fund hits since 1999), you need a 66.7 % advance to break even. If the share drops 50% - as already noted- a 100% gain must be registered to return to ‘break-even’ (i.e. you’re not losing more than what you already paid).

Let’s assume then that this current bubble bursts in October, and there are 50% losses across the board, ‘blood in the streets’ as it were. Let’s say in the wake, with the arrival of austerity budgets and consumer retrenchment, the new increases are more on the order of 1%- 1.5% a year. (More realistic returns as predicted for example, by William Wolman and Anne Colamosca in their book The Great 401k Hoax, 2002)

Then you could be looking at about a thirty year time horizon to just get to the break event point. But in that thirty years inflation will likely have risen at least 2% per year, so in many ways you are in even worse shape and more so- because you’re likely at an older age when employers cease being interested.

The best advice one can give, then, is simply not to chase yield. If you are looking for a safe investment, always be wary of anything promising more than 4-5% in our current Fed cheap money environment.

My personal wake up call appeared in The Wall Street Journal, from Nov. 27, 2003, page D1,
'A Harsh Truth: Most of Your Investments Won't Make Money- Even in the Long Term'.
The piece showed that when stock or mutual fund investors actually include fees, commissions, taxes, expenses etc. they essentially don’t “make” any money at all. They’d be better off just staying with totally safe investments. The piece showed that when stock or mutual fund investors actually include fees, commissions, taxes, expenses etc. they essentially don’t “make” any money at all. They’d be better off just staying with totally safe investments.

People need to know the basic Wall Street pyramid game has never changed in over 70 years and is elementary to grasp. Pundits, wags and paid whores hype the various stocks, funds or instigate a "buzz" about them - to get suckers to buy in.

The increasing buy in inflates the price-to -earnings ratio (P-E ratio) and produces a bubble of high profits. The "Big boys" (large, institutional investors) get tipped 1-2 days in advance and cash out, leaving the little guys to sink. If they're lucky they may earn a few bucks. Not much.

The thievery works eventually because most manjacks are conditioned to "buy and hold" rather than fold when the share price dives below a certain threshold. (Which ought to be the tip off). Thus, there are always ample marks left at the end game to be properly fleeced. Amazingly, they're always ready to play the game again, and pile their newly saved up money in.

Q. I found your blogs on exegesis and the Shroud so powerful and convincing that they have me thinking of becoming an atheist or at least agnostic. Meanwhile, out of curiosity, I checked your fundie brother’s blog (through the portal you gave in the Amazing Race blog) and see he’s bitching about ‘NBs’ having the chronology of the resurrection events all wrong. Is there any more you can add to what you already showed to bolsters arguments for the Fundies getting it wrong?- Carol, Los Angeles, CA

  1. There is a lot more that can be added, but we can always be sure of one thing: People (fundies) like my bro will always worm their way out and find more rationalizations, excuses and nonsense. For example, any proper Materialist or physicalist could ask why reports of supernatural beings vanishing, talking and materializing out of thin air, along with long-dead corpses coming back to life, and people levitating should be given serious consideration at all. At face value, this is the stuff of psychosis and in any other setting the propounders would be locked up and the key thrown away!
In this light it’s really funny that traditionalist Christians (including Protestants and Catholics) seem to have no trouble applying healthy skepticism to the miracles of Islam, or to the claims of Eckists, like my sister-in –law. But if they do that they have an obligation to scrutinize their own supernatural stories.. Why should Christians treat their own outrageous claims any differently? This is one of the things I detest almost as much as nationalism, the religious exceptionalism!

But again, we go back to the numerous contradictions in quadriform gospel accounts which the rational person is obligated to see as the first indicator that they don’t add up. Let’s list some:

Who was at the tomb when the women arrived?

• Matthew: One angel (28:2-7)

• Mark: One young man (16:5)

• Luke: Two men (24:4)

Where were the "messengers" situated?

• Matthew: Angel sitting on the stone (28:2)

• Mark: Young man sitting inside, on the right (16:5)

• Luke: Two men standing inside (24:4)

• John: Two angels sitting on each end of the bed (20:12)

• John: Two angels (20:12)

When Mary returned from the tomb, did she know Jesus had been resurrected?

• Matthew: Yes (28:7-8)
• Mark: Yes (16:10,11)

• Luke: Yes (24:6-9,23)

• John: No (20:2)

When did Mary first see Jesus?
    • Matthew: Before she returned to the disciples (28:9)

• Mark: Before she returned to the disciples (16:9,10)

• John: After she returned to the disciples (20:2,14)

Could Jesus be touched after the resurrection?

  • Matthew: Yes (28:9)

• John: No (20:17), Yes (20:27)

After the women, to whom did Jesus first appear?

    • Matthew: Eleven disciples (28:16)

• Mark: Two disciples in the country, later to eleven (16:12,14)

• Luke: Two disciples in Emmaus, later to eleven (24:13,36)

• John: Ten disciples (Judas and Thomas were absent) (20:19, 24)

• Paul: First to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. (Twelve? Judas was dead). (I Corinthians

Where did Jesus first appear to the disciples?

  • Matthew: On a mountain in Galilee (60-100 miles away) (28:16-17)

• Mark: To two in the country, to eleven "as they sat at meat" (16:12,14)

• Luke: In Emmaus (about seven miles away) at evening, to the rest in a room in Jerusalem later that night. (24:31, 36)

• John: In a room, at evening (20:19)

Did Jesus stay on earth for a while?

  • Mark: No (16:19) Compare 16:14 with John 20:19 to show that this was all done on Sunday

• Luke: No (24:50-52) It all happened on Sunday

• John: Yes, at least eight days (20:26, 21:1-22)

• Acts: Yes, at least forty days (1:3)

Where did the ascension take place?

  • Matthew: No ascension. Book ends on mountain in Galilee

• Mark: In or near Jerusalem, after supper (16:19)

• Luke: In Bethany, very close to Jerusalem, after supper (24:50-51)

• John: No ascension

• Paul: No ascension

• Acts: Ascended from Mount of Olives (1:9-12)

There are so many contradictions, that in the end NONE of the claims can be trusted. SO they amount to exactly what Rev. Thos. Bokenkotter has said they are: PR efforts to try to convert unbelievers.

Oh, the fundies will always try to rationalize a way out, but the problem is that this only works for irrational, ignorant or stupid people - who refuse to consult the sources themselves! Far from trying to "take anyone's faith away" we skeptics are trying to show that these ancient books written by semi-literate nomads, are the last place one ought to invest faith!

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