A Skewed Semiotic: When a Picture Speaks the Wrong Thousand Words

Nicholas Kristof wrote a fascinating couple of opinion articles for the NYTimes over the last two weeks, and the reason for some reader dissent and confusion in the first story appears to stem from a core misunderstanding — purposeful or not — about the image.

Here’s what Kristof wrote on February 22, 2014:

As an infant, Johnny was deaf but no one noticed or got him the timely medical care he needed to restore his hearing. He lives in a trailer here in the hills of rural Appalachia with a mom who loves him and tries to support him but is also juggling bills, frozen pipes and a broken car that she can’t afford to fix.

The first error Kristof makes — but has yet to apologize for, or clarify — is labeling Johnny “Deaf.”  Deafness is a cultural condition from which one does not get “healed” so the proper term should have been “hearing loss” since the “Deafness” was not actual, but imagined, by Kristof.

The real outrage aimed at Kristof was not over his inappropriate use of “Deaf” — but rather the way some of his readers felt he was celebrating a degenerate lifestyle of poverty in this image:

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Living 200 Years and Knowing the Date of Your Death

If you had the choice to live to age 200, would you take up that blind offer?  My beloved wife Janna would not.  She’s perfectly content with her life and, if she died today, she would feel satisfied with the accomplishments of her life.  I, on the other hand, would love to live to age 200 if, of course, there were no sort of Twilight Zone curse involved where I was confined to a bed in a coma for 125 years, or I became a pack mule in the Himalayas for a century, or if I had to live in an active sewer and never see the light of day for 110 years.

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The Farce of Busy Lifestyle Syndrome

Medical fakery has a sadly long history going back to snake oil salesmen and going on even until this day. Many times, the lies that are sold to us by those who purport to only have healing in mind for us are made because the truths would be far too difficult for us to digest. If you have been wondering why you may have trouble remembering things more now than ever in this Age, there is now apparently a syndrome custom-made just for you — Busy Lifetime Syndrome!

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When Doctors Fire Patients

There is a fantastic new move afoot in the medical community where doctors are taking control of the healthcare debate and firing their patients — not because they have the wrong insurance, but rather because they think they know more than their doctors.

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The Jack of All Ills: How the Internet Democratized Medicine

I’m old enough and just craggy enough to remember the pure disdain medical doctors had  for the internets in the early 1990’s when the web was growing by bounds and grabbing the brains of any and every eager mind.  The reason doctors hated the internet was because open access to information diluted their expertise by egalitarian dissemination of research and the democratic propagation of information; and they resented it when patients knew more about a drug or a condition than they did.  Eager patients are hungry for information and becoming the master of a single pill or a defined diagnosis is much easier than having to worry about every single chemical condition and biological solution studied at medical school.  Patients are the masters of their ailments; doctors are the jack of all ills.

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Beating Cervical Cancer with Vinegar

My brother used to play this song for me after which a bonus section would play — the band being The Swirlies and the song being Wrong Tube from the album Blonder Tongue Audio Baton — their discography is freely downloadable from their site — about how interesting it would be if it turned out that the cure to extremely distressing diseases and cancer came from seemingly bizarre combinations, like twigs from the Brazillian rainforest mixed with Mountain Dew. I have been a life long advocate of more natural remedies, stemming from the fact that my mother subscribed to Prevention magazine as long as I could remember and we were always taken to homeopathic and natural doctors in addition to the more traditional doctors — both were consulted before decisions were made.

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Killing Cancer with Vegetables

I have long felt that the real cure for cancer would not come in the form of a pill or chemotherapy treatment but grow straight out of the ground. As a person who has long tried to avoid conventional medicine so-called cures that are really just bandages that sooth us while the immune systems of our bodies are hard at work actually fighting illness, I have just known that it would be just a matter of time before it was discovered that a good diet would go a long way to even fight the dreaded C word — cancer.

Continue reading → Killing Cancer with Vegetables