Holiday Miscellany

Happy Christmas if you celebrate–and I hope you weren’t too inconvenienced by everything being closed if you don’t. I’m going to be absent for a few days, so here’s some wonderful written things from the past week. 

Ozy Frantz has this awesome post on the important difference between unhealthy relationships and abuse. Also this one about drunk sex vs. rape. What I really mean is, zie has a blog and–what are you even doing here anyways? Go read it.

Ithkuil, the language created from logic and philosophy to be maximally concise and precise.

Food stamp challenges and the importance of not speaking when we could be listening.

Armed guards are the solution? The NRA gets it wrong again.

A long but important article on how class is affecting outcomes of university graduates.

More stuff missing from the gun control debate:

Just because gun violence inflicted by armed citizens outnumbers police violence, it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to ignore the routine killing of unarmed people of color nor does it do anyone any good to pretend it’s not a serious problem with serious consequences.

An investigation published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) earlier this year found that in the first half of 2012 at least 120 black men, women and children, the majority of whom were unarmed, were killed by police, security guards or self-appointed law enforcers. That’s one black person killed every 36 hours by “good guys with guns”, as the NRA like’s to call them.

And today in rape culture, Swaziland has banned miniskirts and low-rise jeans…because they’re ‘rape-provoking’. Yes, because what really causes rape is what women wear. Not, you know, rapists. (h/t Ross)

PZ nails it.

Also once upon a time, content in my privilege of being a person of equanimity with few mental instabilities to trouble me, I was certain that the people who held those bad ideas, if not stupid, were surely insane. How could you believe the earth was 6000 years old or that gods existed or that prayer and UFOs and Bigfoot were real, all crazy ideas without a doubt, if you weren’t crazy yourself? And then, of course, it sunk in that most of the inhabitants of this country believe fervently in a god, so it would require a peculiar definition of insanity to argue that a majority of fully functioning, prospering individuals were all mad. They’ve got some crazy ideas, sure, but that doesn’t mean that the entirety of their behavior can be dismissed as the product of a damaged brain.

And then I met a great many smart, disciplined, hard-working, successful atheists and scientists who admitted to suffering from mental illness…and they were good people! “Crazy” isn’t grounds for rejection of individuals.

A how-to from Mad Art Lab on etching glassware: because sharpies on a solo cup just doesn’t work for dinner parties.

 

A National Database of the Mentally Ill

Subtitled: Has Anyone Here Heard of Client/Patient Confidentiality? No? No.

Today, the National Rifle Association had a press conference.

Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President spoke, and I, recently relocated back to Texas for the holidays, slept through it.

Then I saw the transcript, sat bolt upright in my bed, and got ranty on the internet.

The relevant bit (emphasis mine):

 The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can every possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school, he’s already identified at this very moment?

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.

A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? The fact is this: That wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class — killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation.

So, since the NRA seems long on rhetoric and short on facts, I thought I’d clear some stuff up for them.

Patient confidentiality exists even if you have mental illness.

Funny how that works, where you have rights still, when you have mental illness. Psychiatrists still have to follow HIPPA rules. In fact, notes on psychotherapy that are kept separate from medical charts are given even more protection. Was the NRA suggesting that we trounce all over patient confidentiality and require all diagnoses to be reported? Just the “dangerous” ones? Would someone like to clarify for me which ones those are?

Therapists are already required to report anyone who makes a credible threat, and warn any possible targets.

This is largely based on the Tarasoff Rule, which came out of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California. In essence, when a psychologist or therapist hears a client threaten harm, they are obligated to warn those people who may be in danger. “Protected privilege ends where the public peril begins.” This is one of several exceptions to confidentiality, which can be summed up as confidentiality except in instances of harm to self or others. (Which includes reports of child abuse while another child is in the home, risk of suicide, elder abuse, and any threats or injury or death to another.)

So, say there was a high correlation between being mentally ill and being violent. (There’s not.) And then say the Connecticut shooter was mentally ill and in treatment (As far as we know, he wasn’t.) And then, say he’d confessed his plan… oh wait, there’s already methods in place to deal with that. So your database does what now, NRA?

Not everyone with mental illness is diagnosed. 

So would you be requiring everyone to be tested for mental illness then? I mean, I’d be all over that if you didn’t then require that  the mentally ill be registered in a database à la sex offenders. 

Mental illness isn’t exactly uncommon. 

Twenty six percent of American adults meet criteria for a diagnosable disorder in a given year. That, for those of you inclined towards fractions, is one quarter of the population. Since I’ve noticed that it’s somewhat less than a quarter of the population that’s having trouble committing violent crimes with guns, I’m going to posit the radical notion that having mental illness and being near weaponry does not a killer make. Of course, there are some mentally ill people who shouldn’t be near guns. I’ll agree to that easily. There’s also some mentally sound people that we’d rather not have near guns.

Discrimination against the mentally ill is actually a problem. 

Nifty research here. (Abstract only if you’re not at a university, sorry.) Basically, the neurodiverse are more likely to be discriminated against by their employers and coworkers, as well as facing disadvantages in competing for jobs. So maybe we could try to avoid making that worse? Like say, by avoiding the creation of a searchable database of those with mental illness?

Note: I’m fully aware that some people with mental illness are violent. So are some neurotypical people. I’d be all over a psychometrically sound test of impulse control/aggression/etc, that tested abilities related to using a gun responsibly. Using science to determine safe gun owners–great! Using a highly stigmatized population to avoid discussing gun control–jerk move.

NRA Press Conference — More Guns in Schools!

The NRA has finally spoken on the tragedy last week in Connecticut and how I wish they hadn’t.  Not because it isn’t telling to hear how crazy they are, but because it is depressing to know how much they hold sway over the people in the government.  The amount of money they have to push their agenda is obscene.  As is the agenda itself.  As is their unwillingness to take questions after their press conference.  But I digress.

There has been a big push in response to the shootings to tighten gun laws, but the NRA, unsurprisingly, doesn’t think guns are the problem.  In fact, they think guns are the solution.

I have spent much of the last week trying to find good, solid information on gun policy in the US, but I’ve had a lot of difficulty.  Everything has been done by a special interest group or just written in political blogs and forums.  There appear to be no studies of the efficacy of things like the Gun Free School Zones, just arguments that mass shootings happen in Gun Free Zones.

To use a cliché here, the plural of anecdote is not data.  Yes, a lot of public shootings have happened in Gun Free Zones, but that’s partially because so many public places are Gun Free Zones.  Statistically, it’s not surprising.  But if we’re using anecdotes to make points, let’s look at a couple of things that don’t survive the bad things don’t happen if someone armed is in the audience, people don’t shoot there — just from the last few years.

2009 Fort Hood Shooting

If there’s any argument against the idea that trained people with weapons have the ability to stop this sort of thing, it’s the Fort Hood Shooting.  One gunman killed 13 people and wounded another 29 on a military base. Almost everyone he shot was a trained member of the military or police force.  He had a shoot out with police, which he won, and continued to shoot more people.

2011 Tuscon Shooting

Gabby Giffords was shot at a public event in a gun-friendly state and one of the men who helped subdue Loughner was carrying a gun.  You know how they stopped the shooter?  He had to reload, at which point there was an opening for people to tackle him.  He was not shot, he was tackled and held down by several people in the crowd.  If that’s not an argument for smaller clips, I don’t know what is.  And it certainly doesn’t support the evil people hear “gun free zone” as a smorgasbord opportunity.

2012 Empire State Building Shooting

11 people were shot — one by the gunman, one was the gunman himself, and 9 people who were shot by the police trying to get the gunman.  Yes, more guns are clearly the answer to keeping people from being hurt.

And, of course, the mother in the most recent shooting was well-armed and well-trained and she didn’t managed to stop her son from killing her and the kindergarteners.  This is not victim blaming, it’s the reality of the power-differences between someone who is crazy and wants to shoot people and even the most well-trained person who finds themselves suddenly faced with insanity in the middle of their routine day.

And then there are all the other incredibly wrong-headed things that the NRA said, I’ll just put them here for you, but feel free to read the whole thing yourself.

A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?

Yes, I think every person who ever took a Xanax should be in a registry to stigmatize them and make them seem like killers despite the fact that this would be such a huge registry that it would be useless and it would only serve to make sure people who needed mental health care would avoid seeking it out to avoid being on the registry.  GREAT IDEA.

 And the fact is, that wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade.

You know what else is at the lowest levels?  Crime.

With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school?

The average police officer makes $50,406, there are 138,925 schools in the US, which makes the budget of doing this just over $7 billion, without including the extra budget of training and oversight or the fact that most schools would probably need more than one officer.  I’m not saying it’s not worth the money to send to education, but is it the best use of the money and is there any way, in this fiscal cliff landscape, that it’s possible to approve an increase in spending of that magnitude?  It’s certainly not such a small number that you can ignore the cost as thought it’s negligible.

There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.We can’t wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.

But what is the point of acting before we have any reasonable expectation that it will work?  I don’t understand why they expect us to understand why their legislation will work?  Or why they think questioning that is a bad thing?  Can we lose precious time implementing a program that is expensive and completely ineffective?.

And then there’s the question that the NRA didn’t address, one that is an important one — why are people who aren’t well-trained public servants allowed to get their hands on these weapons when we know even the well-trained people don’t always do a good job with them?

Robert Bork, scariest almost Supreme Court Justice, dead at 85

bork-timeRobert Bork, the intensely conservative failed Supreme Court nominee from 1987, has passed away after a heart ailment. Bork was a sort of bogeyman from the right, destroyed by Joe Biden in the senate hearings for his nomination for being absolutely insane and who Mitt Romney made head of his judiciary appointments in an attempt to gain conservative credibility.

Thanks to the failure of the Bork nomination, we got Kennedy, who will occasionally vote in favor of things like equality and gay rights.  He is, in fact, our best hope that the court will overturn DOMA and Prop 8.  So, the borking of Robert Bork was quite fateful.

From my speech about the war on women earlier this year:

The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.

Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago.  Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.

The thing about Bork, though, is that he was very smart and very funny. I actually have a lot of respect for his intellect, but it’s hard to respect someone who fought for Nixon during Watergate and would repeal equal rights laws if he had the opportunity — and he very nearly did have the opportunity.

More here: http://www.startribune.com/nation/184098181.html?refer=y

10 Sensible Gun Policy Changes

1. Acknowledge that, in a time of modern weapons, the Second Amendment makes no sense.

Until we are OK with individuals having tanks and nuclear weapons, we have to accept that the ability for the people to overthrow the government is not going to come from individual possession of guns.

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2. Take some lessons from how we treat driving and apply this in ALL states to ALL sales

A citizen who wants a gun and a concealed carry permit should go through exactly the same training and recertification as a cop would… it’s easier to get a gun as a citizen than as a cop.

  • Pass written test that includes safety instruction and horror stories
  • Pass practical test that includes safety test
  • Pass psychological test, screening for violence
  • Punish swiftly and harshly for having a loaded gun on you while being under the influence
  • Require gun insurance
  • Require yearly registration updates
  • Tax

3. Limit magazines to six bullets and don’t let them be detachable

Is there a single legitimate use of firearms that requires more than six rounds of continuous fire? Certainly not hunting. And not any sort of self-defense that’s realistically imaginable, unless you’ve recently antagonized a Mexican drug cartel

4. Code guns so that they can only be used by the person they are registered to

I saw it in Skyfall, it must be possible and Wikipedia confirms!  The technology is imperfect, but if there was a push, it could undoubtedly be effective very soon.  Adapt all guns, except those that are being kept as historical relics, to be adapted so that they can only be shot by the person with matching the fingerprints or biometrics of the person to whom it is registered.  No more easily stealing guns from your mother to mow down kindergarteners.

5. Limit gun purchases to one every thirty days

Ponder, for a second, the fact that I cannot walk into a C.V.S. today and purchase half-a-dozen packages of Sudafed, but I can walk into a gun dealership and purchase a .50 caliber rifle of the sort that U.S. snipers use in Afghanistan. In fact, I can buy six or ten—there is no limit imposed by law. Should the gun dealer think it fishy that I might want to acquire a weapon capable of downing a small aircraft (much less six of those weapons) he may report the purchase to the A.T.F. But in most states, he’s not required to.

6. Recognize that gun control is about reducing the chance of gun violence and it is impossible to eliminate it entirely

We are never going to eliminate gun deaths, there’s just no way to do that.  In the same way we cannot eliminate all car deaths, but we can make it safer and there are no good reasons not to.  When someone protests that an individual law isn’t going to completely end gun violence it needs to be recognized that this is a useless argument.

7. Recognize that most gun policy is (and should be) about how to prevent the routine daily deaths from gun violence, accidents, and suicides not just how to prevent massacres.

What happened last week was a horrific tragedy, but the number of gun deaths on a daily basis is just as much of a tragedy.  In 2010, 180 children under the age of 11 were killed by guns.  As tragic as 20 children being taken in one incident is, where’s the outrage for the other children?

Sandy Hook reminds us that we have about five times the murder rate of any other advanced country, and that most but not all of the difference is guns, and in particular concealable guns… But Sandy Hook is utterly atypical of our homicide problem.

8. Accept that people love shooting guns that are incredibly dangerous, and keep those guns many of us would like to ban at special gun ranges where they can be stored and taken out onto the range

Here’s an idea: If people really have a need to shoot Glocks and Sig Sauers at a firing range, how about the firing range own them and keep them, and enthusiasts drop in and rent the firearm of their choice for an hour or whatever? I know this violated the capitalist principle of ownership, and yes, it impinges on “freedom,” but it seems to me to slake the thirst in a way that maybe people could get accustomed to over time.

I think it’s important here that people could still own their guns, they just would have to store them in a safe place.  In the same way that Israel requires guns to be left behind by soldiers rather than taken home  — the implementation of that policy reduced soldier suicides dramatically.

9. Teach the actual statistics of gun crimes and gun control

I know this is a difficult and intractable problem of part of the public being resolutely uninformed and denying reality, but to have a real discussion about fixing the problem, people on both sides of the debate need to talk about the actual facts and what has and has not worked in the past.  There have been hundreds of example cases of gun control policies — instead of knee-jerk saying we need to ban guns or that gun control couldn’t possibly work, both sides need to look at the actual facts on the ground.  Let’s recognize that gun control more obviously affects suicide rates than homicide rates and recognized that reducing suicide rates is also a worthy goal, not a reason to ignore policy.

The NRA promotes myths about gun control that need to be countered with actual facts.

10. Let’s stop talking about “bans” and “control” and start talking about “regulation” and “safety”

Gun control is not gun elimination — it is about regulating the use of guns and who can have them.  In the same way the name of the “pro-life” movement has framed the abortion debate, the idea of “bans” and “controls” are language that is used by the NRA and other gun-enthusiasts to frighten people away from sensible ideas that are really gun “regulation” and gun “safety measures”.  Surely if we are OK with drugs being regulated, we can be OK with guns being regulated — and drugs are designed to save lives, not to destroy them!

11. Create ammunition policy as well. License, regulate, and track bullets.

You are Not His Mother

This is excerpted and edited from something I put on Facebook. 

There is a horrible article going around. I am Adam Lanza’s Mother, it says.  It’s the story of a mother who has a mentally ill child.

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
[…]
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around
[…]
I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

No.

She is not. She is the mother of a mentally ill child who is NOT the shooter.

She is taking the story of a child, who is, by her own narrative, quite scary to mother, and deciding to generalizing that to a man she knows nothing about.  When you do that, when you repost it or share it or hold it up as so inspiring and raw and important to relate to this tragedy, you are saying this:

“People who behave in the way that I am describing are just like Lanza”
“Children who do these things that I am describing turn into Lanza”
“My child has something like X/Y/Z Disorder and I think they’re just like Lanza”

Because when you say that the narrative of your child just like that of a mass murderer, and then you describe some characteristics, things we *do not know* of Adam Lanza’s behavior, you are perpetuating some dangerous beliefs.

Please, please stop.

I’m not going to EVER defend the actions of the shooter.

But I will defend to all hell the people who you’re painting with the same brush.

And in case it wasn’t clear already, I will not accept “but any discussion about mental health is important!”. Nope. Discussions that speak over those who suffer from mental illness, that make them The Other, or that stigmatize them and paint them as gangly children with overbites, are harmful, and nothing more. Please stop.

Secondly, if you are going to discuss Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s here, please go educate yourself first. I suggest here and here, but I would gladly welcome more links in the comments. 

When You Tie Shootings to Mental Illness

If you’ve read my work, you know I am massively for mental healthcare reform. Not just a little bit in favor, but balloons and blog posts on blog posts and boundless enthusiasm for it.

But you know when I’m really really uncomfortable talking about mental health?

Right now. 

Tragedies are horrible. They’re senseless.

School shootings are especially so. We hurt and we reach out and hug our children and try to make sense of everything. And always, always, we talk about schizophrenia, borderline personalities, bipolar disorder.

Adam Lanza’s mental health won’t be known. Not ever. There’s a lot of things we’d like him answer for–unclaimed Christmas presents and crying families and six year olds with cameras on them and reporters in their faces. We’d like to know why he did it. We want to know what was going on in that mind. There’s no explanation that will put this into perspective. Because, what kind of perspective could it be to understand what would drive you to kill children?

But I’m asking you–begging you, really, to not decide that Lanza had a mental illness. I’m asking you not to make “being a good person” the standard for mentally healthy.

Do not try to rationalize this away with mental illness. Stop talking about how it could have been schizophrenia, stop saying he had to have mental health issues. You do not know.

You do not know his state of mind. When you decide to armchair quarterback him, to stamp him with an “obvious” diagnosis, do you know what you are saying?

Here is a terrible thing. The only thing that could possibly cause someone to do such a terrible, tragic thing is to have This Disorder. Because only people with This Disorder could be so dangerous/awful/scary. 

And you, you people who want to look for signs of schizophrenia, who want to talk about how he ‘went crazy’, how he just needed medication, I want you to consider how much harder you are making it for someone to seek treatment.

I want everyone to seek the help they need, and I’d bet you do too.

I want the next person who hears things or sees things, or has invasive thoughts to reach out and have a place to land. I want them to be listened to and to find employment. I want their safety net to care for them and call on the bad days.

I don’t want them torn up with worry that they could be the next shooter, to isolate themselves because they ‘could be dangerous’. I don’t want their friends to worry for their lives. People with mental illness are four times as likely to be the victims of violence. They are more likely to suffer than perpetrate.

You want to care for the living? You want mental health care to be better? Stop making mental illness the scapegoat. You are causing stigma. You are making it harder. You are part of the problem. If today, seeing a therapist was free, treatment was covered as long as it was needed, do you think everyone who needed it would go? If the dominant narrative is that only ‘crazy people’  shoot schoolchildren?

I worked in a research lab developing and testing therapy for schizophrenia when I was 18, where in part, I interviewed participants and tagged along on treatment sessions. To this day, when I mention it–one of the best experiences of my studies–the common reaction is to ask about my safety. My safety from people who patiently let a teenager ask them incredibly personal questions for hours, who let me into their homes and lives. People with mental illness are not inherently dangerous. These attitudes are.

Mental healthcare needs to be better. That is a conversation this country desperately needs to have. Please don’t do it this way.

Note 1: If and only if a therapist who was seeing Lanza or family member  was to come forward and give his diagnosis, I would accept that. However, that doesn’t actually change the point about the narrative we spin about shooters. It’s dangerous and damaging.

Note 2: When you use mental illness as the reason for this shooting, you are ignoring a host of other societal factors that let him buy a gun, that let that gun he bought be a combat rifle.
EDIT: I know that it wasn’t his gun. This was written immediately after the tragedy. Yes, gun culture is still worth discussing.

Note 3: Assuming mental illness without any kind of evidence is also just plain bad skepticism. As if we needed another reason to stop doing that.

[Guest Post] The Shadow of Good Intentions

This is a guest post by William Brinkman. He was a National Assistant storyteller with the Camarilla, and worked on the Demon: The Fallen role-playing game line for White Wolf.  Today he writes the satirical tabloid, The Bolingbrook Babbler. He contacted me about body shaming in a live action role-playing club, and given my utter lack of prior experience, I invited him to write instead.

For about seven years, I was a member of the Camarilla, an international live action role-playing club.  In their global “chronicle,” members played modern day vampires, werewolves, and wizards.  In this combination of table top role playing game and dramatic improvisation theater, the characters would either plot against each other, or fight even greater monsters.  The characters had to act like monsters, for fear of becoming greater monsters.

Outside of the game, members raised money for charities and organized blood drives.  My local domain would also host occasional social events where we could socialize without the pressures of the game.  In addition we’d chat on the many in-character and out of character e-mail lists.

Due to the mature nature of the game, and the potential for things getting out of hand in real life, the organization enforced a strong code of conduct and stressed that all players should be respectful towards each other.  It worked for the most part.

The Camarilla is now reorganized into affiliated international organizations.  The United States affiliate of the club is now called Mind’s Eye Society.  Many of the rules, including the Code of Conduct, have carried over.

Considering the above, I was a bit surprised when an MES blog post came to my attention.  The post described an auction where players could bid for items to use in their new chronicle.  Instead of bidding with money, bidding would be done with “Booyeahs.”  Players earn Booyeahs by doing various tasks or reading certain books.  Some of the tasks are laudable.  (“5 Booyeahs – Volunteer an hour at a soup kitchen”) Some are snarky. (“20 Booyeahs – Read Smith’s ‘Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity’”)

The Personal Health Category, however, concerned me.  Though well meaning, some of the tasks could be harmful to some members, or some members can’t participate due to physical limitations.

10 Booyeahs – Hike 2 miles (may be earned once per week)

While hiking is good exercise, I’m sure some members can’t walk or are not in the condition to hike or walk two miles.  I don’t think it is fair to exclude them from these points.

15 Booyeahs – Quit drinking soda or beer for a month
15 Booyeahs – Quit drinking coffee or other caffeinated (non-carbonated) beverages for a month

People with high blood pressure probably should limit their caffeine intake.  There are others to use caffeine to help deal with migraines.  These members shouldn’t have to suffer for a few points.

Additionally, if someone is a heavy drinker, suddenly abstaining from alcohol might not be safe.  This is a choice that should be made in consultation with a medical professional, not a role-playing club.

1 Booyeah – Lose 1 pound (may be earned 1 per pound, no regaining pounds for the purposes of losing them again)

This one is the most disturbing to me.  Some weight loss can be dangerous, and should always be done in consultation with a medical professional.  Additionally, I’m sure some members can’t or shouldn’t lose weight.  Should the MES reward an anorexic member for losing weight?

Overall this category is based on a negative stereotype of role-players as out of shape and overweight.  Not all members are.  When I was a member, I was involved in martial arts, and I knew of other members who were as well.  Some members also served in the military.  One former member participates in Tough Mudder competitions.  Not every member will have the body type to participate in this category.

The purpose of booyeahs may be to “to take the time to build the lives we are going to spend with ourselves and with each other,” but it currently has some problematic flaws.

It is my understanding that this policy is under review.  My hope is it will be replaced with something that most members will have the opportunity to participate in.

There may have been good intentions behind Booyeah.  However, like the World of Darkness setting, there are monsters in its shadow.  I hope MES vanquishes them with a new policy.

Pina: Jagged and Beautiful

Short post today, as finals are gnawing on my free time.

In 2009, German choreographer Pina Bausch died, five days after a cancer diagnosis, and two days before filming was to start on a documentary about her art. The film was released earlier this year.

A classically trained ballet dancer for most of my life, I rarely find modern dance appealing, particularly Expressionist stuff, which seems haphazard and out of sync to my eyes. Bausch’s work, however, is so raw and vehement and strange that I find myself staring…for the entire documentary.

An interpretation of The Rite of Spring with a dirt-covered stage. Dancers outdoors, in a cafe, gleefully tipping over chairs. Kontakthof, performed in three variations, with three different ages, the last grey-haired and over the age of 65.

Much of the documentary is shot with the dancers outdoors, and sometimes the sun is too bright and the train is too loud, but the dancers throw themselves into each other anyways. Which is, I think, how a lot of life works.

Trailer below, movie on Netflix.

 

Auld [Link] Syne

I’m home from staffing the Chicago International Model UN conference! I no longer have a radio in my ear, I’ve had a whole night of sleep, and I think my blood is no longer more coffee than platelets. So, to celebrate, I wrote the eight page paper that was due today.

Finals week, man.

Because I’m still exhausted and I can’t see the floor of my room for all the mess, this is a links-and-blurbs post. But, lest ye fear, I’ve got sitting in nebulous drafty form posts on…[inhale]

asexuality, cognitive adaptation training for schizophrenia, common confusions about different mental disorders, The DSM 5–What Does It All Mean, the problems with the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis, this horrible article, diva cups, assigning moral value to food, and dissociating.

[exhale]

So. Links.

Paul talks about therapy, his experiences, and ‘cures’.

So I’m not “cured.” I don’t think I ever will be, and quite frankly, I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to lose what will now forever be a part of my story, a part of who I am. What the work helped accomplish was making the attack no longer define who I am. And it began the work of not letting all the darkness that came before it define who I am — the years of mockery, bullying, and harassment all through middle and high school, the professional failures and life mistakes made in adulthood, my hangups and neuroses. Not exclusively define me, anyway. They will all always be a part of me, but I learned that they’re not all that I am.

Also, he’s new, and I forgot to mention it. Go take a look at Near Earth Object.

Speaking of new things, there’s a new blog format! I like it–do you? There’s more space, the editing dashboard is all pretty, and it looks clean and crisp. Plus, screenreader compatible!

Finn Gardiner on Autism Speaks, and why the organization is not an ally for those with autism. Not one bit.

My existence is not tragic. I do not deserve people’s pity. I am not merely a burden on society, and I do not necessarily seek a “cure.” I don’t claim that my life is perfect, but I do think that there are both benefits and drawbacks to being autistic, and to “cure” me would be to fundamentally alter my psyche to the point that I would no longer exist in any recognizable fashion. All I ask for is equitable treatment and the right to access the services I need in order to live the best life possible.

Oh, and Autism Speaks also supports Jenny McCarthy. That’s not just being a bad ally, that’s actively supporting dangerous policies and pseudoscience.

The Good Men Project has posted two different articles filled with rape apologia this week. (Link is to a Feministe examination.) Want a good site for social justice writing for men, that doesn’t condone rape? Oh hey, here’s some:

Add your suggestions in the comments–I’d love more.

Ryan on sexualization of men in comics.

If you are either brave or foolhardy enough to scroll to the bottom of the internet, you are likely to find a panoply of commenters telling us that men are just as sexualized in comics as women. The big bulging muscles, the skin-tight spandex, that’s totally man-sexy… right? I honestly thought it was, before I asked an actual female of the species. It seems that most of the men in comics and games are not actually physically attractive. This was news to me more recently that I’d like to admit.

What say you?