Cannabis the Wonder Weed

Cannabis the Wonder Weed

I’ve said before that it wouldn’t bother me if cannabis were legalized. I’m not a user, but I can’t think of any good reasons not to legalize the wacky weed, within reasonable limits. But as a service to cannabis proponents, may I offer this bit of advice: it does you no good to make spurious or doubtful claims in support of your cause.

Let’s investigate some of these claims and see if they hold water.

  • Cannabis stops cancer growth.

Nobody is really sure. According to Kat Arney, writing in the Cancer Research UK Science Blog, there has been plenty of research conducted on cancer cells in laboratories and on animals, but precious few clinical trials involving people. Nobody knows exactly how cannabinoid compounds, like tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), will work in an actual living patient. Only one clinical trial has been published, involving nine patients with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Although eight of the nine patients’ tumors seemed to respond to the cannabinoid treatment, none of them were cured by it; in fact, all nine patients had passed away within a year of the study. Furthermore, there was no control group for this study, so the evidence in favor of cannabis as a cancer treatment is inconclusive at best.

As always, I’d like to remind anybody who plans to tell me about how their mother’s uncle’s cousin was cured of cancer by smoking pot: anecdotes do not amount to evidence. So far the scientific community is ambiguous at best about the effectiveness of cannabis as a cancer treatment. I’m not saying that cannabis has absolutely no effect on cancer; I’m just saying that it’s not a slam dunk for the pot-proponents just yet. Better wait until the research matures before placing this as a point in your column.

  • Cannabis reduces neurological impairment.
  • Cannabis relaxes muscles / is an antispasmodic

The first statement is so broad that it’s virtually impossible to evaluate its accuracy. There are lots of “neurological impairments” and they display a wide array of symptoms. Some of the symptoms may be relieved by cannabis use, but again, there doesn’t seem to be much research showing that cannabis has any curative properties in patients with neurological impairments. Consider multiple sclerosis. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, clinical trials involving cannabis and cannabinoids have failed to demonstrate that they halt the progression of the disease. Furthermore, MS patients who use “street” cannabis are more likely to be described as “cognitively impaired” after the initial effects of the cannabis have worn off. Finally, a recent study of the effectiveness of cannabis on spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients showed something of a discrepancy between clinical and subjective results; in other words, their spasticity did not improve in any clinically-measureable way, but the patients themselves sure did report feeling better.

Now I will admit that I did not investigate every neurological impairment to determine if Mary Jane would help, but the author of this meme provided almost no information to work with. I submit that unless the pro-pot crowd is prepared to be a lot more specific, this “just trust me” statement isn’t going to fly with those who oppose legalization.

  • Cannabis prevents migraines.

Again, the research is lacking or inconclusive. ProCon.org holds that most evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis as an anti-migraine treatment is anecdotal. Dr. John Krusz implies a small possibility that cannabis may actually worsen headaches under certain conditions. On the other hand, Dr. Gary Wenk says in Psychology Today that cannabis has pain-blocking properties and that people who have stopped using cannabis have suddenly developed severe migraines. Whether the cannabis was preventing the person from experiencing the full brunt of their migraines, or whether the migraines started suddenly for unrelated reasons, is difficult to determine. We must be careful to avoid confusing correlation (two events happening near the same time) with causation (one event causing the other).

  • Cannabis treats glaucoma.

Cannabis does help lower the intra-ocular pressure (IOP, the fluid pressure inside the eyeballs) of glaucoma patients – with this much the medical community agrees – but some experts still argue that the effect is short-lived and that prescription drugs do a better job. According to Dr Henry Jampel from the Glaucoma Research Foundation, you’d have to toke up six to eight times a day to get round-the-clock relief from high eye pressure. That’s beyond the range of even the most dedicated weed-worshipper.

  • Cannabis treats ADD/ADHD.

Here is another area where the research is in its infancy. TruthOnPot.com says that despite truckloads of anecdotal evidence, the scientific community has barely scratched the surface of the connection between cannabis and ADD/ADHD. Bear in mind that TruthOnPot is an unabashedly pro-pot website, so perhaps their lukewarm enthusiasm about the benefits of pot as an ADD/ADHD treatment speaks volumes.

  • Cannabis treats IBS and/or Crohn’s Disease.
  • Cannabis cures epilepsy.
  • Cannabis prevents Alzheimer’s

Peter Lipson, writing in Science Based Medicine, says that these claims are implausible at best. He goes on to say that cannabis use may actually be detrimental in people that already have Alzheimer’s. There appears to be no good evidence to support the validity of any of this meme’s claims.

  • Cannabis treats PMS.

Supposedly, Queen Victoria herself used cannabis to alleviate her menstrual cramps and labor pain. Did cannabis really help, or did she merely experience a placebo effect? I hate to sound like a broken record, but the research just isn’t there, according to Green Cross Patient Centers. Remember, there’s a wide gulf between clinical measurements of pain and patients’ subjective reports. Clearly there’s much research to be done.

  • Cannabis is an anti-psychotic.

You know what’s so difficult about writing about pot? Trying to find unbiased articles regarding its efficacy as a medical treatment. Just try it. Fire up your favorite search engine and type in “cannabis anti-psychotic”. You’ll get plenty of hits, but almost every one of them will have some sort of agenda. Half of them will be pro-pot pages whose sentiments reflect the ones expressed in this meme, and the other half will be rabid conservative “family values” pages that seek to portray cannabis as Satan incarnate. It’s incredibly tedious sorting through a heap of websites that are trying to push one way or the other.

Even Science-Based Medicine has precious little on the medical benefits and pitfalls of ganja, other than the article to which I previously linked. The most objective piece I could find was an article in Time, written by Maia Szalavitz. Szalavitz writes about a clinical study suggesting that cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in pot, may be effective as a treatment for schizophrenia, and with fewer side-effects than other commonly-prescribed anti-psychotics. That’s the first article I’ve found that partially substantiates any of the claims made in this meme.

I say partially because…the study was on CBD specifically, not cannabis as a whole. There’s no evidence, therefore, that cannabis is an effective anti-psychotic. The interactions between CBD and the other ingredients in cannabis may render its anti-psychotic properties null. In other words, just because one component of cannabis has potential as a medical treatment doesn’t mean you’ll be able to buy pot at your local CVS anytime soon.

  • Cannabis can be used to manufacture pretty much every product under the Sun.

While technically true, this series of arguments ignores one important detail: namely, the entrenched infrastructure that uses lots of materials other than hemp for construction, lubrication, clothing, etc. Here’s an example: the author insists that hemp can be used to make plastics, solvents, fuels, and lubricants – all things that are typically made from petroleum. Does the author really believe that hemp, even if it were legal worldwide, would be in a position to replace petroleum, which is (at the moment) relatively cheap and easy to obtain? Also, processing plants around the world are equipped to handle petroleum; simply switching to hemp is not an easy or attractive option. Perhaps when the oil wells finally run dry and oil shoots past a thousand bucks a barrel, hemp will become a viable alternative. But like I said before, even if the United States government decided overnight to repurpose all of its oil-processing plants for hemp processing, that still doesn’t mean that recreational marijuana would be legal. In my opinion, pot-supporters are barking up the wrong tree by singing the virtues of hemp.

  • Cannabis can be grown almost anywhere.

Hey, so can kudzu. What’s your point?

I’ve spent the better part of this entry dispelling some of the quasi-scientific medical claims made about cannabis, so the reader may be excused for being skeptical regarding my claims of pot neutrality. To reiterate what I said at the beginning: I actually support the legalization of pot; or at least I don’t oppose it. I just don’t think it’s wise for cannabis supporters to hitch their wagons to spurious medical claims. If you want to legalize pot, that’s fine: argue about how it’s not that dangerous and it would be a source of tax revenue. Argue about how it would save money in law enforcement and reduce the prison population. Just stick to reality and you might eventually prevail.

Of Knives and Sandwiches

Knives and Sandwiches

If a woman pulls a knife on you, you may conclude that:

  1. she is mentally unhinged and bent on doing you harm, or
  2. she is so threatened by your presence that she feels she needs a knife for self-defense.

In either case, belittling her distress and demeaning her womanhood is probably not the healthiest decision you can make in that situation.

Even if you’re not being threatened by a woman with a knife, passing this meme along is not a good idea. I hate to sound like a broken record, but you’re really just trying to bolster outdated ideas about a woman’s role in a relationship. I don’t know if any of you read the news, but some women are expanding their influence beyond the kitchen. They’re doctors, lawyers, architects, researchers, scientists, politicians. If you open your eyes, you’d just be amazed at all the cool things women are doing. These “womanly instincts” to which you refer, Mr Meme Maker, are really ambitions to succeed and to be a valuable member of society, and those instincts are just as powerful as any man’s.

To be sure, there are women who choose to be homemakers, and it’s perfectly okay for them to choose that path. But regardless of what position a woman has chosen for herself, whether she’s holding a knife on you or not, your first and last thought had better be respect. That means no more stupid misogynistic memes.

The Bed By The Window

The Man By The Window

You’ll probably accuse me of being overly picky if I break down this meme and the accompanying text, especially since there’s nothing controversial about either one. It’s just a simple story of hope and happiness, and what could be wrong with that, huh? Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t nitpick, so let’s see.

It will take just 60 seconds to read this and change your thinking..

You don’t know me. You don’t know how long it takes me to read a story.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

I’m no doctor, so can somebody please explain to me how sitting up helps to drain fluid from one’s lungs? My (rather limited) understanding of human chest anatomy indicates that the lungs’ major openings all face upward, which would make draining fluid especially difficult if the patient was in an upright position. Again, I’m not a doctor. I could be wrong.

His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

That is clearly not a window; it is a painting. Notice how the horizon is parallel to the top and bottom of the painting’s frame. If that were a real window, looking out on a real landscape, (1) we should not be able to see the horizon from this angle, and (2) even if we could see it, the horizon would be, well, horizontal. I realize this is a problem with the image and not the text, but I still call BS.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

Based on the picture, the other man could easily see the painting…ahem…”window“. I wouldn’t nitpick about this detail, but it becomes an absolutely critical plot point at the end of the story. So yes, let’s establish this right now: based on the patients’ positions as depicted in the image above, both patients could easily see through the window, even while lying down.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

Then why can’t we see the city skyline? I mean, we can see the horizon (although we shouldn’t be able to). Come on…did the person who drew the picture even read the story?

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

You don’t even have to do that, dude! Just open your eyes and roll your head slightly to the right. The “window” is right there! Also, if these men are both ill to the extent that they can’t even get out of bed, where the heck are all the tubes, bags, and monitoring equipment? What kind of hospital is this, anyway?

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band -he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

He couldn’t hear the parade? See, this should have been a major clue that something wasn’t quite right. There is nothing quiet about a parade. I used to live about five blocks from a town’s parade route, and I could hear every single one of them. If somebody told me there was a parade and I couldn’t hear it, I’d have said they were a lying liar who lies.

Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

Dun dun duuuuunnnnnnnn! I read a much more sinister version of this story in More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984) by Alvin Schwartz. The general plotline was old even then. According to Snopes, the story was first conceived by Allan Seager in 1934, and by 1946 it had been passed around so much that it appeared in a volume called 101 Plots Used and Abused. I wonder how Seager would feel to know that now, eighty years later, his creation is still being trotted out in electronic form.

One more thing: if only the hospital had used – I don’t know – some kind of monitoring equipment they would have known exactly when he died, instead of discovering his body in the morning.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this
window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’

Okay, no. Uh-uh. Not buying it. How did the surviving patient not know that his roommate was blind? Granted, he probably never saw his roommate walking around with a cane, but it seems that in the months they spent together, something would have tipped him off. Surely the doctors and nurses that visited on a regular basis would have done or said something to indicate that the other fellow couldn’t see.

Also, how did the blind patient even know there was a painting…sorry…”window” beside him in the first place. And how did the sighted patient, who could clearly see the “window”, not notice that there was a blank wall right outside it?

The only way any of this works is if there were a barrier between the patients, so that the sighted man couldn’t see his roommate or the window, and if the attending physicians and nurses never said a single word to indicate the window-side patient’s blindness. Of course, there is no divide mentioned in the story, nor is one depicted in the image; therefore, we can only conclude that the sighted patient was willfully ignorant of his roommate’s condition. In the back of his mind, he must have known that his roommate was making everything up, and he decided to play along. But in that case, he would have known there was no point in asking for the bed by the window, unless he had started to consciously believe the lies.

One more thing: how does this count as “encouragement”? The blind man knowingly constructed a fantasy world, and he knew his roommate could not personally “experience” it until he died or was discharged. Furthermore, he had no way of knowing whether his roommate would be thrilled or sorely disappointed when he finally got the window-side bed. The blind patient was writing checks he had no intention of cashing, and for what purpose? To delude his poor roommate into believing something that might or might not be true (and probably wasn’t). That’s not encouragement…that’s cruelty.

Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy. ‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .’

Oh barf. You promised me at the outset that my thinking would change. It hasn’t. I’m still just as snarky and cynical as I was a few minutes ago. Blogger: 1. Meme: 0.

In Which I Wax Poetic

Guns and Bibles

In honor of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo, to those in the know) which starts today, April 1, 2014, I would like to respond to this meme in verse. Now my poetic stylings are certainly not on par with literary giants like Shakespeare, Longfellow, or Seuss, but I hope you like it nonetheless.


Come now, brother pacifists, pick up your arms and shed your vows
Of peaceful co-existence,
He who made this meme has said that shunning guns is not allowed.
Americans must learn to
Shoot a gun and if they don’t then shame! Oh, shame! upon our schools
For leaving us defenseless.
Homes and lives will soon fall prey to outlaws vile and villains rough
Who plan to leave no witness.

Come now, Muslims, atheists, and Jewish folk, the man says we
Need Biblical salvation.
Schools be damned for failing daily to enforce the Holy Laws
(As he comprehends them).
He who made this meme no doubt has hope that ev’ry school becomes
A holy roller nation,
Let no girl or boy begin a day of learning without saying
Proper supplication.

The man who made this meme (or woman, boy, or girl, it matters not)
Has made this very clear:
You must, you MUST think, love, pray, shoot exactly as he does or else
You are no patriot.
The schools which fail to train young minds with harsh guidelines to which they must
Definitely adhere,
Are damning us, consigning us as children of a nation all
To live in mortal fear.

And yet I do not live in fear (what shock!) nor do I own a gun
Or read the Holy Word.
Somehow I’ve been American without the grace of God or gat
And with help from my school.
So when conservatives are wont to rant and rave and make their claims
Which are all quite absurd,
I chuckle softly to myself and blog about it, saying how
This meme sure is a turd.

Your Fault For Being Offended

Your Fault If You're Offended

Wow, I am really confused about what’s going on in this pile-up of emoticons. Only one-third of them seem to be enjoying it. Five of them look genuinely uncomfortable, and one is apparently trying to find his calm place. Whatever’s going on in this party, it probably needs to stop. But enough about the bizarre and possibly illegal emoticon orgy. Let’s talk about the heart of this meme: people who deny their responsibility to not be jerks.

I’ve seen several variations of this meme during my travels through this vast Internet. Though the wording varies, the message is always the same: it’s your issue if you’re offended by something I’ve said, written, or done. In other words: I’m blameless. In other other words: I’m too self-centered to care about anybody’s emotional well-being besides my own.

I wish that people who post memes like this, or who express agreement with the sentiments therein, would recite a simple daily affirmation:

I accept that some people are going to be offended by the things I do. I may not agree with the reason they are offended, but I will respect their right to be offended without trying to make it all about them. I will apologize even if I don’t really understand why, because I know that social cohesion is based on people playing nice even when they don’t feel like it. Also, I understand that my refusal to apologize for having unintentionally offended someone constitutes obnoxiousness in the first degree – that is, pre-meditated obnoxiousness. I accept and understand that the penalty for first-degree obnoxiousness is loss of esteem among my peers and a growing consensus that I’m sort of a jerk.

Surely everybody would be better off.

By the way…if anything in this post offended you, feel free to leave me a scathing comment. I won’t refer to you as “butt-hurt” or anything like that, and I might even apologize! I’m just cool like that.

An Obama-nation And A Ca-gas-trophe

Obama and Gas Prices

First of all, the word “the” appears twice, which makes me think this is the work of a Photoshopper and not somebody who had to climb up there and place these letters by hand.

Second, I don’t think gas stations could or would post “just kidding” prices on their boards, lest they draw the ire of their customers and their suppliers.

Having said that, let’s start by stating what should be obvious: The President of the United States of America has precious little to do with the price of gasoline. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to take a look at this list from Curiosity (the Discovery Channel program, not the Mars rover). While this list is by no means comprehensive, you’ll probably notice that at no point does it mention that the President is in charge of regulating the prices of goods and services. If gas prices are higher now than they were when Barack Obama took office in 2009, that has more to do with market forces than it does with anything Obama has or hasn’t done during his tenure. (I would also point out that gas prices were lower when Bush II took office than they were when he left, and that they fluctuated wildly during his presidency; if you’re going to unfairly blame Obama for the rise in gas prices, you should unfairly blame Bush as well.)

People don’t want to believe it, but gasoline prices really are driven by the same basic market forces that dictate, say, the price of a gallon of milk. Well, not the exact same forces, but the principle is the same. There are four basic components that influence how gas prices change over time: supply, demand, inflation, and taxes.

Supply


I assume that most people know that gasoline ultimately comes from crude oil, which must be extracted from beneath Earth’s surface. What people may not know is that not all crude oil is created equal. Oil is judged based on its viscosity (its thickness or resistance to flow) and its purity. In oil trading lingo, light refers to oil that has a low viscosity (is more runny) while heavy refers to thicker, more viscous oil. Highly pure oil is called sweet; oil with many impurities is called sour. Light sweet crude oil has always been highly sought after because it requires less processing; consequently, the price of a barrel of light sweet crude has been the market standard. Nowadays, light sweet crude is getting harder to come by, although heavy sour crude oil is still relatively plentiful. Heavy sour crude oil sells at a lower price due to its lower demand, but the trade-off is that oil refiners must invest more money in the equipment needed to process it. Not every oil refinery is set up to process heavy sour crude, which means that the actual cost of gasoline leaving oil refineries is determined by a complex mathematical formula so daunting that the combined intellects of Einstein, Hawking, and Feynman would be utterly stumped by it.*

It’s actually more complicated than that: oil buyers don’t buy barrels of oil now; they shop in the future, as this HowStuffWorks webpage explains. Therefore, the incoming price of oil is made even more muddled by the fact that they’re responding to market forces that may or may not actually come to pass. Truthfully, the revelation that the money I pay for gasoline is being drawn by vague auguries makes me a little queasy and uncomfortable, but such is the oil market.

Demand


Demand is a measure of how much people want gasoline, and they want it a lot. The growing middle classes in China and India, along with those countries’ announced intentions to develop thousands of miles of new roads, means that demand is going to continue increasing in the foreseeable future. Although demand isn’t the only factor that influences gasoline prices, it certainly does make an impact. We could decrease demand, but we’d have to start, I don’t know, walking, bicycling, or using public transportation. Right, let’s move on…

Inflation


This is where the President comes the closest to being able to directly influence gas prices, which means he’s still about one hundred light years from having any meaningful impact. A President does not directly control inflation, although his fiscal policies or tendencies to get us into expensive wars might ultimately prompt the Federal Reserve to print money like it’s going out of style. And of course, one could argue that President Obama’s Congress-approved borrowing has effectively driven up inflation, and by extension the cost of gasoline. But by how much? Well, not that much. If we assume that a gallon of gasoline was $1.84 when Obama took office in 2009, it would only be about $2.00 now (if you believe this handy inflation calculator), assuming that all other factors stayed the same. So even if Obama’s policies did have an adverse effect on the price of gasoline, it’s nowhere near as big as this meme author would have you believe.

Taxes


Before you start smirking and convincing yourself that you’ve won this argument, Mr Meme Maker, please allow me to remind you that under United States laws, the President does not have the power to levy taxes. That can only be done by Congress, but of course the President can make suggestions. The United States does demand a federal excise tax on gasoline of 18.4 cents per gallon. Surely Obama – the tax-monster of so many conservatives’ imaginations – has driven that to historic highs?

Nope. The federal excise tax on gasoline has been 18.4 cents per gallon since October of 1993, or so says the Tax Foundation (and they ought to know, right?).


So what’s the take-home message here? Well, you can blame a lot of stuff on the President – but you can’t blame him for high gas prices. If you’re that concerned, buy a more fuel-efficient car, drive less, walk more. Those are the only choices that are going to have a real impact on how much money you shell out for gasoline.


*But probably not really. I mean, those are/were some really smart guys.

Miracle Madness

Car Crash

This disastrous image was accompanied by the following text, which I shall pick apart in my usual snarky fashion. You might say that I should cut the author some slack, especially where grammar is concerned; however, when you reach the end and see that this was little more than a subtle variation on a chain letter, perhaps you’ll agree that no slack is owed.

My name is James.

Hi James. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – you know what? I’m sorry…this is your story, not mine.

I and my wife Sandra got married 14yrs ago and since then we had no child.

James, I’m going to stop you right there. I’m sure you meant to say “My wife Sandra and I”. It’s just polite to put others first, especially your wife. Sorry…carry on.

As Christians, we still believed God for a baby at the due time.

What if it wasn’t part of God’s plan for you to have a baby at all? Seems like you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment if you believe that God will give you what you want in due time. But hey, I’m not here to tell you how to follow your religion.

Finally, my wife got pregnant and everything was alright.

Or all right, if you’re really picky. But never mind that. You were saying?

On the day of delivery, I was driving her to the hospital and suddenly our car collided with an on-coming lorry and we had a fatal accident.

Okay, Jim (May I call you Jim?), I’ve just got a couple of issues. You say your car suddenly collided with an on-coming lorry…as opposed to gradually colliding with it? I’m just trying to establish a mental image of what went down. Also, about that fatal accident you had…I skipped ahead to the end of the story and (Spoiler alert) you’re all still alive. I’m not sure you understand what the word fatal means.

Oh wait…did the truck driver die? I mean, you never mention him again, so I’m not sure. Boy, I’d feel like a real jerk if that were the case.

My sister narrated it thus:

THUS SPAKE MY SISTER!!!

”We had a call from the police through the identification found on you that you and Sandra were in the hospital.

Wait a minute, Jimmy: The police called your sister through your identification? Does your driver’s license have a tiny cell phone built into it, or does an iPhone now count as legal identification?

When we came to the hospital, the Doctor asked us to sign some documents so that an operation could be performed on Sandra to bring the baby out.”

Whoa hang on, Jimbo. You’re glossing over some pretty important details here. Did your wife appoint your sister as her healthcare proxy prior to the events on that fateful day? Was there nobody higher on the surrogate decision-making hierarchy who could have been consulted? I have to say, Jim, not knowing these critical details lessens my emotional involvement in the story.

The baby came out alive but Sandra was declared dead while I was in comma with my two legs broken.

Another innocent victim claimed by punctuation! Damn you, commas! Damn you all!

Also (and not to downplay the seriousness of your wife’s temporary demise), I’m glad you confirmed that you are in fact a biped, James. So many authors forget to remind their audience exactly how many legs they have.

In the night, a man clothed in white appeared to me and touched my head.

Yeah, that was the doctor. He was checking on you. It’s what they do in hospitals, especially when you’re in comma. (If you’re in exclamation mark, they have a whole team of doctors rotating through on an hourly basis.)

From that moment, I started sneezing.

So you had never sneezed prior to that moment? That’s odd.

After 5mins, I sat up and became a little strong.

You sneezed for five straight minutes and then felt stronger? That’s the opposite of how I feel after a marathon sneezing session. I always feel like I want to dunk my head in a bucket of warm salt water and then die.

Then I asked, ‘where is my wife’? Then, somebody the next door started sneezing too. That was Sandra. ‘She’s alive, she’s alive’, the nurses shouted.

Something doesn’t add up. If the nurses thought she was dead up until now, why hadn’t anybody taken her down to the morgue? I’m no expert on hospital policy, but I doubt they leave recently deceased patients lying in much-needed hospital beds in the hopes that they’ll suddenly sneeze themselves back to life.

Sandra also narrated that the same man clothed in white who touched my head also touched her head.

One doctor visited two patients? UNTHINKABLE!

Few days later we were discharged from the hospital. My broken legs have also been restored and I can walk perfectly too.

Yes, broken bones often heal quite well when tended to by medical professionals. I mean, it would be different if your legs had been shattered so severely that the doctors gave you zero chances of ever walking again, but since you didn’t mention that, I have to assume that your injuries were not that severe. Good for you, Jimmy-Jammy!

Today, I, Sandra and our daughter named Miracle are all alive.

Jim, I’m really happy that the three of you are alive, but I must remind you: Sandra, our daughter Miracle, and I. Respect, Jimmy. Respect.

What was supposed to be our happiest day turned out to be a sorrowful day but we thank God for today.

But you survived, and you’ve got a child! All in all, you came out ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen, God exists and still performs miracles, even the miracle of bringing the dead to live.

Okay James, I’m not going to argue with you about whether God performs miracles, or even if he exists. But your story thus far, while certainly…um…interesting?…hasn’t really put me in mind of anything miraculous. You said your wife was declared dead, but people die and are revived all the time. How long was she gone? Obviously not long enough for them to move her to the morgue, and they certainly weren’t keeping her body around for your benefit, since you were in a coma and they had no way of knowing how long you’d be out.

James, let’s be honest: you survived a terrible accident, as did your family, but nothing that happened to you falls outside the realm of physical possibility. None of these events should be counted as a miracle, unless you’re willing to broaden the definition of the word “miracle” to such an extent that it becomes utterly meaningless.

Now let’s say that the lorry had mysteriously vanished just before hitting you, only to reappear intact on the other side of your car, thereby preventing a collision. That would be a miracle. Or let’s say that your wife was really dead – like eight hours dead – and she suddenly sat up, alive as ever. That would be a miracle. Anything that utterly defies scientific explanation is a miracle. Your story, inspiring as it is, is no miracle. Sorry to pour a metaphorical glass of cold water on you, James, but that’s how I see it.

Now I decree that:
1. Nothing will cut your joy short on the happiest day of your life in Jesus name.

I think you meant to say pray instead of decree, Jim-a-lim-a-ding-dong. Not to pick nits, but when you decree anything in Jesus’s name, it sort of implies that you think you have the authority to boss Jesus around. But once again, I’m not trying to tell you how to be religious.

2. I command every dead thing in your life to come back alive in Jesus name.

What? Hell no, I don’t want that! I’d be up to my eyeballs in decaying goldfish zombies!

3. This year, may you receive a miracle that will attract the attention of the world in Jesus mighty name.

I don’t know, Jimbo-Tron. Your idea of a miracle seems to require a huge personal tragedy as a catalyst. I’d just as soon not, thanks just the same.

Type AMEN in the comment box to claim these prayers. Share this testimony.

Once again, we are reminded of the awesome power of Facebook to guide the hand of God. Zuckerberg be praised.