Saturday, March 17, 2018

Schroedinger's concussion

My contemplations of whether I underassess my own pain aren't purely academic.

A few weeks ago, I fainted and hit my head.

At the hospital, they seemed much more interested in the cause of my fainting, but ruled out a concussion because I did not report any of the symptoms on the list.

And I did not report any of the symptoms on the list because I did not perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms on the list.

Nor did I perceive myself to be experiencing any of the symptoms that I was told to seek medical attention for if I should experience them in the days that follow.

But I wasn't functioning at 100%. I was moody and my eyes got tired easily. Focusing visually was harder work than usual.

About a week after the incident, I found myself crying myself to sleep because I hadn't been diagnosed with a concussion - if they'd told me I had a concussion, I reasoned, I would have rested my brain and probably felt better by then!

Then I realized I didn't need a diagnosis to rest, so I spent my weekend doing strict brain rest like you're supposed to do after you have a concussion.

It helped enormously, but didn't completely fix my problems.

So I scaled back my work and other responsibilities and made myself a program of brain rest that could fit around my work and other responsibilities. (Working from home was a lifesaver here!)

And it helped, slowly but surely.

It's been a month. I'm doing significantly better, and I'm still not completely 100% yet. Most days are better than the day before, although sometimes there's weird slippage. (For example, today my eyes were extremely fatigued in the morning, and I haven't a clue why.)

I have no idea if I had a concussion or not, and I don't know if I can ever know.  I can't blame the doctors for not diagnosing me, because they asked me if I was experiencing symptoms, and I reported what I perceived. I wasn't trying to be brave or tough or heroic by minimizng what I was experiencing, I was accurately reporting what I perceived.

And I can't help but wonder if my own perception has been skewed by my experiences with menstrual pain. And if it hadn't been skewed, might I have reported symptoms and been diagnosed with a concussion? And gone home with doctor's orders to rest, taken a few days off work, and been completely better by now?

Friday, March 09, 2018

What if societal minimization of menstrual pain causes women to underassess their own pain?

Recently tweeted into my timeline: menstrual cramps can be as painful as heart attacks.

We've all heard of doctors taking women's pain less seriously. But this makes me wonder if the fact that menstrual cramps are considered just something you have to deal with make us underassess our own pain?

The first time I got menstrual cramps, at the age of 11, I was curled up on the floor unable to move.  But it's part of being a woman, and everyone deals with it. So I eventually learned how to work through it. The pain was the same, but, in those horrible years between menarche and birth control pills, I learned how to stand and walk and pay attention in class and pull in straight As while experiencing that same pain that left my 11-year-old self immobile on the floor.

And because it's so ingrained in me that it's just part of regular life, it would never have occurred to me before reading this article to see medical attention for something that's "only" as bad as those menstrual cramps that left me immobile on the floor. Even if it was debilitating, I'd try to work through it, maybe take an Advil if it was particularly bad.  It would never have crossed my mind that pain comparable to menstrual cramps could even be something serious!

Now I think back to all the times I've experienced something I didn't perceive as pain: "I wouldn't call it pain, I'm just weirdly...aware of it." "It feels like it needs to stretch, but when I stretch it, it doesn't feel better." "I can feel it pulsing. I wouldn't call it throbbing because that implies pain, but I can feel a pulse there." "My body is telling me not to move it that way, but it doesn't hurt when I do move it that way." "It's uncomfortable." I would never have sought medical attention, I would never have taken painkillers, because I didn't perceive them as pain.

But what if they were?

Just a couple of years ago, it occurred to me for the first time in my life to take Advil (which is an anti-inflammatory) for something (I forget what) that was inflamed. I perceived it as "uncomfortable", but would never have described it as pain.  The Advil got rid of the inflammation, and the discomfort never came back.  Prior to that, from the point of view of Advil = painkiller, I would have lived with the inflammation and discomfort for a couple of days, because I didn't perceive what I was experiencing as pain.

How much other needed, helpful medical treatment might I be missing out on because I wouldn't have characterized my experience as pain? And might I have characterized these experiences as pain if I hadn't internalized the idea that we're supposed to be able to cope with menstrual cramps?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Books read in February 2018


1. Life on the Ground Floor by James Maskalyk
2. The Mask That Sang by Susan Currie


1. Indulgence in Death
2. Possession in Death

Thursday, February 15, 2018


When watching both Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville, I've had moments when I find the technobabble unconvincing.  My visceral reaction is sometimes "No, that will never work!" or even "WTF? It doesn't work that way!"

Which is ridiculous, because it's technobabble - it doesn't reflect any aspect of reality, and if the writers say it works that way, it's works that way. (And every technobabble I've questioned did end up working on screen.)

Nevertheless, I find myself convinced that it doesn't work that way, even though I don't actually know how it works.

I wonder if this might be due to translator brain. Some of my work involves translating things that I don't fully understand - sometimes the author and the audience know exactly what they're talking about and I don't, other times I'm learning the technical terminology and how the processes work as I go. Even when I don't fully understand the text, I still need to understand its internal logic. Should this be a "however" or a "moreover"? (Sometimes the source language vocabulary is ambiguous and I need to look at the actual logical structure.) Does this sentence support the thesis of the text, or is it a counter-argument to be refuted?

It's been over a decade since I watched new-to-me Star Trek (and for the purpose of analyzing my response to technobabble, The Orville can be grouped in with Star Trek), so it's quite possible my translator brain has developed significantly since then. Of course, it's also possible that my understanding of science and technology have developed significantly, so I'm more sensitive to meaningless technobabble.

And it's also possible that Television Writers Today are simply not as good at technobabble as the Star Trek writers of my youth.

I've just started watching DS9 (which I wasn't able to watch when it first came out), so we'll see how I handle their technobabble.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Books read in January 2018


1. Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
2. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
3. Love and Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stilman


1. Fantasy in Death

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Do tone and aesthetics make TV audiences self-selecting?

Even before the PTSD plotline, there was some discussion around whether Star Trek: Discovery was appropriate for children.  Some have fond childhood memories of watching Star Trek and want it to be suitable for their children, others pointed out that even if children did enjoy it, it was always intended for adults.

TNG is my primary Star Trek, which I watched and enjoyed starting in my preteen years.  However, when DS9 and Voyager came out, I wasn't able to enjoy them because they were too dark for me at that age.

The interesting thing is I could tell by looking at them that they were too dark for me.  I perceived this to be a function of lighting and set design, although incidental music may also have had an impact (I wasn't mindful of incidental music at the time, and blithely allowed it to manipulate my emotions without giving it a single thought.)  I watched like half an episode of each, and I just felt like "This is going to be too scary or sad for me," so I stopped watching.

Aesthetically as well as tonally, Discovery is even darker than DS9 and Voyager.  So I wonder if my child-self's reaction to the aesthetic darkness of DS9 and Voyager is typical and, if so, people who aren't ready for Discovery will screen themselves out?

As an interesting side note, other shows that I found too dark aesthetically as a child were Cheers and MASH.  I've watched both of them in adult life and they worked for me, but I do think they were too adult for my younger self.

My parents watched Doctor Who in the mid-80s, and I found the theme music so scary that I'd leave the room. Many people talk about hiding behind the sofa when the scary parts of Doctor Who came on, but I didn't even get that far because the theme music so accurately conveyed to me that it would be scary!

I wonder if TV shows also work this way for other people?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jedi theory (no spoilers, but formulated while watching TLJ)

This post does not contain any specific spoilers, but it was formulated while watching The Last Jedi. 

Movie canon states that Anakin Skywalker did not have a biological father and was instead conceived by midichlorians.

I propose that that holds true for all force-sensitive people just not everyone knows it.

How many mothers of force-sensitive people have we seen in movie canon?  Shmi, Padmé, and Leia.

Padmé is married to Anakin, so it is assumed that Anakin is the biological father of her children. Leia is either married to or in a relationship with Han (I'm not sure whether it's explicitly stated that they got married), so it's assumed that Han is the biological father of her child.

But for all we know, they could have been conceived by midichlorians too. The couples could have been having regular marital relations as well, but it was the conception by midichlorians that ended up sticking.

Many women are in relationships with men, and therefore would assume their male partner is the biological father of their children.

On top of that, movie canon states that traditionally, force-sensitive children were taken to the Jedi temple to be raised. Since they're forbidden from having family attachments, they wouldn't really talk about their parents, or their mother's relationship status, or even realize that their mother's relationship status might be significant.  The question of "so how did you get conceived?" probably wouldn't even come up.

So maybe all this time, all force-sensitive people have been conceived by midichlorians and nobody noticed.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The first stairs and the first upstairs

Which came first, stairs or upstairs (by which I mean multi-storey buildings)?

Maybe they could make multi-storey buildings with ramps or ropes to climb? Or ladders?  (Do ladders count as stairs? They seem like a fairly complex and creative invention in and of themselves.)

Or did someone invent stairs (to where?) and then later someone else thought "Hey, if we put these in a building, we can have a room on top of another room!"

I wonder how much instruction people needed to figure out the first stairs? I wonder if their purpose was readily apparent to the uninformed onlooker? I wonder if they seemed incredibly dangerous or unnatural to some people?

Monday, January 08, 2018

How the current Star Wars trilogy should end (no spoilers)

Evil is vanquished! Good has triumphed! Fireworks! Porg dance party! That couple you're shipping kisses!  All is right with the world!

Then, a "where are they now?" sort of epilogue, set 20-30 years in the future.  The most suitable of the surviving protagonists is now an eminent and well-respected political leader.  We see them, with a few dignified strands of grey carefully added by the make-up department, sitting in their office (carefully designed by the set department to look a bit more futuristic than the rest of the movies).

An aide walks in with a briefing note.

"Your Excellency," the aide begins, "Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute..."

Sunday, January 07, 2018


There are several places in my neighbourhood where developers have bought houses or lowrise buildings and boarded them up, waiting for approval to tear them down and redevelop.

And meanwhile we're having a brutal cold snap and the City of Toronto doesn't have enough shelter spaces.

Something has to be done with this.  Perfectly functional buildings are sitting empty for the convenience of developers, and people can't find shelter in lethal weather.

My first thought was some kind of fine for leaving buildings unused, but I'm worried that that would incentivize developers to tear down buildings faster. Then I had the idea that developers have to fund shelter/housing for as many people as the old building would house until such time as the new building is actually under construction.  But I'm not sure how that would go over, because the approval process takes time and is outside of the developer's control.

I can't figure it out.  But someone has to do something! There are empty buildings, there are people who need shelter, and the weather is lethal.  This needs to be fixed!

I do have a very early, provisional, inadequate idea that could be implemented immediately with very little effort:

Rule 1: if a building is empty and the owner's stated intent is demolition, the owner is prohibited from locking the building or preventing entrance to the building.
Rule 2: squatting in an unoccupied building that is slated for demolition is henceforth legal.
Rule 3: owners of empty buildings slated for demolition are not liable for any harm that comes to people squatting in them as a result of the building not being maintained.

This is obviously not good enough.  Abandoned buildings don't have heat or electricity or water. They might be structurally unsound. These rules might create a loophole where a malicious owner of an empty building could set up booby traps to harm squatters with impunity. There's no mechanism to connect people in need of shelter with abandoned buildings.  Basic human decency requires sheltering people in functional buildings under safe conditions.

But doing it would be better than not doing it.  Enabling people to shelter in buildings that happen to be empty is better than the buildings sitting empty and the people needing shelter.

 Survival issues are really something where we need a "Yes, but..." vote. We need to be able to take "better than nothing" measures while continuing to work towards adequate measures and perfect measures.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books read in December 2017


1. Forensics and Fiction: Clever, Intriguing, and Downright Odd Questions from Crime Writers by
D. P. Lyle, MD
2.  Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David Alexander Robertson, Scott B. Henderson
3. Flint and Fire: The Complete Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) 
4. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
5. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
6. The F-word by Jesse Sheidlower


1. Kindred in Death
2. Missing in Death

Friday, December 22, 2017


Toronto Star:

IF TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: This year you present a strong personality. Others innately know that you are not a person to fool around with. You also have an offbeat quality that draws a diverse group of people toward you. If you are single, you could find several of your potential suitors to be overly possessive. While their neediness might not have bothered you a few years ago, today you have little tolerance for that behaviour. If you are attached, you and your significant other make a major purchase that you both have desired for a while. As a couple, you are emotional spenders. AQUARIUS knows how to present new ideas.
When I try to think of Aquariuses from whom I might get new ideas, I come up with Poodle and Eddie Izzard.  So it's probably going to be someone else.  (Baby Cousin 6.0 is scheduled to be an Aquarius, so maybe there's some surprise infant inspiration imminent.)

Globe and Mail:

Some of your ideas may be outlandish, even outrageous, but they can be made to work for you over the coming 12 months. There is no such word as "cannot" in the Capricorn vocabulary, so dream your dreams, then turn them into realities.

Also, when I look back on last year's horoscopes, I see "If you are single, romance will knock on your door."  Recently, a strange man of my approximate demographic knocked on my door for no apparent reason. (He wasn't wearing the uniform of a building employee, and I didn't hear knocks on my neighbours' doors so I don't think he was canvassing.) I didn't answer the door because I don't answer the door to strangers.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Analogy for why preserving unwanted fertility isn't caring for the patient's health

This post is a restatement of a previous analogy that needed further refinement.  I just realized that it wasn't the analogy itself that needed refinement, but rather the title. So I'm restating the analogy under a more accurate title.

Imagine you have a big, ugly mole.  You hate it and wish it wasn't there.

However, you live in a society that thinks beauty marks are attractive.

You've made inquiries about the possibility of getting your big ugly mole removed, but you get a lot of push-back (and some doctors outright refuse to do it) because there are a lot of people in your society who put a lot of time and effort and resources and emotional drama into getting plastic surgeons to give them beauty marks.

On top of all this, your mole has all the characteristics of a cancerous mole.  Unfortunately, your society doesn't have the ability to detect cancer before it starts metastasizing so you have no way of proving or disproving that your big ugly mole is cancerous, but it does have all the characteristics.

Now, within this context, suppose you have to get surgery in the general vicinity of you big ugly mole.  You ask the doctors if they can remove the mole while they're doing surgery in that area, but they refuse.  You try to emphasize to them that you don't like the mole and don't want the mole, but they are not swayed.  You beg them to, at the very least, not prioritize saving the mole - to give you the most effective surgery without regard for whether the mole is lost, but they still take specific measures to save it despite your protests. And, perhaps, their efforts to save the mole result in a suboptimal approach to the surgery as a whole.

And when you complain about this, people tell you "He's just looking out for your health!"

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What if they had completely separate hospitals for infectious and non-infectious patients?

One of the risks of going to a hospital is that you might pick up a hospital-acquired infection, like MRSA or C. Diff.

At the root, there are a lot of infections in hospitals because many patients are infectious.

But there are also many patients who aren't infectious at all. For example, if you're in the hospital for surgery or chemotherapy to have a broken bone set or to give birth, you don't present any risk of contagion to others - but contagion may present a greater-than-usual risk to you.

So what if they had completely separate hospitals for contagious and non-contagious patients?  Different buildings, different doctors and nurses, never the twain shall meet.

Apart from money, is there any reason for not doing this? The only thing I can think of is that a certain subset of patients may or may not be infectious, and we don't know yet.  (I can think of several potential ways to handle that, but that's probably something better left to medical professionals.)  However, at the same time, there are also patients who are definitely not contagious - the surgeries and broken bones and childbirth that I mentioned above.  Is there any medical or non-money-related logistical reason not to keep them separate?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Books read in November 2017


1. À la recherche du bout du monde by Michel Noël
2. The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew


1. Promises in Death

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Things They Should Invent: Stuff You've Already Tried filter

On my old computer, I had to do a clean reinstall of Firefox. A couple of issues subsequently cropped up, and when I googled around the new issues, I kept finding advice to do a clean reinstall. That's what caused the issues in the first place!  (With the combination of the new computer and the new version of Firefox, the issues are now moot.)

When my old computer died, it simply wouldn't power up. Pressing the power button had exactly the same result as not pressing the power button. The troubleshooting of first resort in this case is a power reset: unplug the computer, remove the battery, hold down the power button for about 30 seconds to drain any residual electrical charge, then plug in the power adapter only and try again.

I tried that several times, and it didn't work.

And my attempts to google for the next steps in troubleshooting were stymied by interference from instructions for a power reset. I found a single reference to replacing the CMOS battery (haven't tried that yet because the age of the computer and the low likelihood of success made me prioritize getting a new computer), but, even with my advanced google-fu (and trying other search engines as well), I couldn't get away from the pervasive suggestion of a power reset to the rest of whatever the appropriate troubleshooting protocol would be.

Our internet usage patterns are increasingly being spied on. Couldn't they at least make use of this data to give us the option of filtering out the stuff we've already tried.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The final score in the laptop battery management match-up

I bought my laptop in December 2010, and started indiscriminately plugging it in whenever possible, without regard for any battery management strategy. The battery stopped working in April 2013, for a total of 2 years and 4 months.

Then I started putting the laptop in airplane mode whenever it was plugged in, and completely draining and recharging the battery on the rare occasions when I needed to work from battery. The laptop lived until November 2017, for a total of 4 years and 7 months.

Shortly before the laptop died, the battery status said something to the effect that my battery wasn't working at top performance and it was time to get a new one, although I could keep using this one for as long as it lasted. (I don't have the exact message.) It didn't display this message before the previous battery suddenly stopped working. (I noticed there was a problem because the battery light was suddenly blinking orange.) I currently don't know whether the battery had anything to do with why the laptop stopped working.

Therefore, based on my one-person study, airplane mode is better for laptop batteries (at least the kinds of batteries computers used in 2010) than leaving it plugged in indiscriminately.

Note that this is the exact opposite of what all Dell online support said, but consistent with what every in-person tech said.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

More benefits of using mitigative language when editing

Seen on Twitter: this thread about using mitigative language rather than assertive language in the editing process:

In addition to the excellent points here about face, a few things occurred to me specifically about the nature of editing/revision in translation. (They may also apply to unilingual editing, but my experience in that area is far more limited.)

1. Some edits are objective and some edits are subjective

"This word is spelled wrong" is objective. "The alliteration in this sentence sounds silly" is subjective. By using mitigative language for subjective edits, you're making it clear that your objective edits are objectively necessary - and thereby increasing their credibility. If you're too aggressive about your subjective edits, you come across as someone who makes mostly arbitrary changes.

2. Sometimes the editor-as-reader's thoughts and feelings are what's relevant

In translation school, they taught us that if one reader gets a certain impression from a text, others will as well.  This also applies to the editor as they are reading the text. If the editor says something like "I initially thought the word "drink" was a noun, not a verb, and got very confused," or "I felt like the author was speaking to me condescendingly here," what is relevant is that the editor-as-reader had that reaction. What caused that reaction? Can we - and should we - eliminate the cause of that reaction? Which brings us to...

3. We don't want to get caught up in debating the objective truth at the expense of subjective improvements

I can best illustrate this with a story about user-testing a website design.

My task was to find a specific widget and put it in the cart as though I was going to buy it.  I first skimmed the website for something to click on that said "Widgets", but didn't find anything.  Ultimately, it took me four tries to find the right route.

During the fourth try, I scrolled down further than previously to see the bottom of the sidebar menu, and discovered that there was in fact a button that said "Widgets". However, there was a banner-like design element above that set of buttons that led me to think there wouldn't be any more relevant information below.

So my feedback was: "I was looking for something to click on that said "Widgets", and didn't see anything.  I didn't scroll down as far as the rectangular buttons because I got the impression that the banner above them was a placeholder and I didn't think there'd be any buttons below it. To fix this, I would suggest deleting the banner entirely. If that's not possible, perhaps consider moving it it below the buttons so the presence of the buttons is readily apparent."

Quite mitigative, not at all assertive, and effective feedback. The banner was promptly removed in response.

But imagine if I'd been assertive and non-mitigative, as though my perception were the objective truth.

Me: "There isn't anything that says Widgets."
Website designer: "Yes there is. See?"

I'd be wrong - there was a Widgets button. And because I'm outright wrong, the website designer's gut instinct would be to prove that I'm wrong and disregard my feedback on the grounds that I clearly don't know what I'm talking about.

Similarly, in the example given in #2 above, if, instead of "I felt like the author was speaking to me condescendingly here," you assertively say "This is too condescending," the author's visceral reaction could be "No, it's not condescending at all."  And then you're caught up in arguing over whether it's condescending, rather than determining (and, if necessary, fixing) what gave you that impression.

Your goal in editing and/or revising is not to win, but to make the text as good as possible. Conveying the nuances of your response to the text helps achieve that goal. Trying to be assertive takes the focus away from that goal.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to make your children feel that you love them unconditionally

I've recently seen quite a number of pieces of advice suggesting that making sure your children know you love them unconditionally is parenting panacea. I've seen it mentioned as a way to protect children from predators, prevent children from growing up to be predators, ensure success in life and prevent all manner of ills.

I can't vouch for whether or not it's as miraculous as people say it is. But, as a child of parents who want me to believe their love for me is more unconditional than I actually think it is, I have some thoughts on how to convince your children your love for them is unconditional.

To make your children believe you love them unconditionally, you have to pay attention not only to your words and actions towards your children, but also your words and actions towards and about others.

The more you speak disapprovingly or contemptuously of people in certain situations or with certain characteristics, the more likely your child is to think you won't love them if they should ever end up in that situation or develop that characteristic. 

Even if you tell your child every day that you love them unconditionally, and even if you actually love them unconditionally every day, the more you speak disapprovingly or contemptuously of Those People, the more likely your child is to question whether you would love them if they became one of Those People.

For example, the more your preteen child hears you commenting on how disgusting it is that overweight people don't have the self-discipline to manage their weight, the more your child is likely to think you'll stop loving them after the puberty fairy comes along and gives them a body that's prone to plumpness.

The more your child hears you saying that unemployed people are lazy ungrateful bums who deserve to starve if they don't pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, the more your child is likely to think you'll stop loving them if they should ever struggle to find work.

And it's not just the things you say to your child that you need to be careful of. You also need to be careful of the things you say in their presence - conversations with other adults when your child is in the room, or things you post on the internet now that your child might read when they're older. (Don't you aspire for your child to grow up to be savvy enough to track down things people posted on the internet decades earlier? And don't you aspire for your child to be interested enough in your opinions and in you as a person to look you up?)

"Surely you're not saying that I have to express unconditional love for every random person I might ever speak to or about within my child's sphere of awareness!"

You don't have to express unconditional love for random people for the simple reason that our baseline feeling towards random people isn't love.  Our baseline feeling towards random people is neutrality.

So what you need to do is express unconditional neutrality for the random people you speak to or about within your child's sphere of awareness.

For example, compare the following two statements:

1. "That disgusting piece of scum drove drunk and killed three people! I hope he's raped repeatedly in prison and then dies of AIDS!"
2. "I hope he's isn't ever allowed to drive again so he doesn't kill anyone else."

In the first example, the speaker veers into hatred and contempt for the drunk driver.  In the second example, the speaker still wants the drunk driver to be suffer natural consequences, but maintains baseline neutrality towards them.

Children who hear their parents lose their baseline feeling (neutrality) towards people who are in certain situations or have certain characteristics may conclude that the parents will also lose their baseline feeling (love) towards their children in similar situations. And the more they hear their parents react to different situations by losing their baseline feeling, the more likely they are to think it could happen to them.

"But my child would never do that! My child would never become one of Those People!"

I'm tempted to point out that Those People's parents most likely didn't think they'd turn out that way either, but I doubt that argument would be effective.

Instead, think about it in terms of leeway.  If you end up not being entirely successful in making your children feel you will love them unconditionally, they might still feel you'll love them functionally unconditionally if you can convince them that you wouldn't lose your baseline feeling of love in the face of things they would never actually do.

For example, if I felt it was plausible that my parents would continue to love me if I did something so bad that I went to prison, I wouldn't even question that they would continue to love me even if I were unemployed.  I would never actually do something so bad as commit a felony, so, if I felt my parents would continue to love me if I did so, that would be functionally equivalent to unconditional love.

"But some things are Very, Very Bad and as a parent I need to make that clear to my child!"

That's your decision to make as a parent. Is it more important to you that your child knows you disapprove of Those People, or that your child feels you will always love them unconditionally? Only you can decide.