Thoughts on Sanctions

Earlier, I ran an international book giveaway. When I looked into the logistics of sending books around the world, it became clear that I couldn’t send them to countries currently under U.S. sanctions. Every other legal hurdle against running an international giveaway, I found some solution, but not that one. Therefore, I excluded sanctioned countries.

I doubt anyone from the sanctioned countries would’ve entered the giveaway anyway, but it made me think: what is the point of blocking the movement of books?

For years, I’ve seen references to how sanctions harm innocent civilians, such as the former sanctions on Iraq (here is a good article about it from 2001), but it took this to make me think about it for real.

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Sliding Into Low-Sodium Life (and Why Many People Don’t)

I switched to a low-sodium diet smoothly, but only because of my advantages. For most people, it’s much harder. Which means fewer people do it. Which means some people who’d otherwise live, die.

Higher sodium leads to higher blood pressure, lower sodium leads to lower blood pressure. People whose blood pressure is too low benefit from consuming more salt, but in the United States in the early 21st century, high blood pressure is more common. Way more common.

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The ‘Virtue’ of Avoiding Exercise

Due to the problem in my left chest I described last week, I’m avoiding unnecessary physical activity.

Well, not quite. I’m ‘cheating’ a little with physical activity, which isn’t strictly necessary.

(I’m lucky that I don’t depend on physical labor to pay my bills.)

I live in a culture in which ‘exercise’ is a ‘virtue’ as long as it’s not for low-prestige jobs. (Meanwhile, the physical work, for example, people who pick crops on farms, is devalued, though we eat the literal fruits of their labor). People reinforce the message that getting more exercise is virtuous, whereas not exercising is a weakness we often fall into due to our relatable flaws. We conflate health with morality, and getting more exercise is ‘healthy.’

It’s weird to be in a situation where avoiding exercise is what’s best for my physical health. That slipping in some exercise just for pleasure feels like ‘cheating.’

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I’m Pissed at the Medical System for Not Taking Covid Safety Seriously

A few weeks ago, I started having an odd sensation in my left chest, around my heart. It’s so mild the word ‘pain’ seems like overkill. I dismissed as just something weird at first, but I kept noticing it. Mild as it is, it’s not how my chest is supposed to feel.

What pushed me to act was remembering what happened to my uncle. When he felt something weird in his chest, he considered not doing anything about it, but he went to an urgent care clinic just in case. That choice saved his life.

I dug myself out of denial and did some reading on the internet. Based on my symptoms and my body, myocarditis seems like the most likely diagnosis. If this is myocarditis, odds are it will go away without treatment. There’s a tiny chance it will kill me.

I talked to a doctor. Upon hearing a description of my symptoms, he said, “you should go to a cardiologist.” He was the first to bring up the word ‘myocarditis’ in that conversation, not me, which confirms that it’s a likely diagnosis. He thinks that whatever I have is probably nothing and will resolve itself, but I should go to a cardiologist for peace of mind—and perhaps it’s not ‘nothing.’

Going to a cardiologist for a physical exam is a good idea, I agree.

Ah, but here’s the rub: viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis. Including Covid-19.

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