Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hehehehe



I'm worth 3 points! Hurray!

Presidential primaries

So here in WA we caucus. Last time I caucused for Kucinich. But now I find out that not only is he a friend of Larry Flynt, but that he supports his misogynist ways. More on the second point below.

As a feminist who is against the exploitation of woman I can no longer support Kucinich. So I guess I will be backing Hillary. I did vote for her for Senator in NY ages ago. Barack scares me. His voting record tells me nothing, and he has not done anything to distinguish himself in any way that's satisfying to me.

It really saddens me about Kucinich endorsing Hustler (article by Jackson Katz *sigh*). No matter how much I agree with the other things that he stands for I cannot support someone who supports a woman hater and rapist.

From the article:

For those of us who cling to the quaint notion that any progressive politics worthy of the name must be anti-sexist by definition, this is truly deflating news. After all, we're in the 21st century. The days when prominent men in the progressive movement would dare to associate this openly with the likes of misogynists like Larry Flynt were supposed to be relegated to the mists of memory, before the modern multicultural women's movement came along. In fact, one of the catalyzing forces in the rise of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s was women's experience of sexism on the left and in the civil rights, anti-poverty and anti-war movements.

....

Let's be clear about who Flynt is. He's not some run of the mill good ol' boy with political passions and deep pockets. Please spare us the "First Amendment hero" platitudes. On the contrary, Flynt is a wealthy capitalist who for years has been one of the most notoriously sexist figures in American public life. His signature publication, Hustler magazine, has published some of the most misogynist and racist photo layouts and cartoons in the history of mass-distributed porn magazines. He has been accused of incest by his now-grown daughter. He repeatedly dismisses women with the gumption to challenge his raging sexism as "anti-sex bitches" and much worse.

It is willfully naïve for any self-respecting "progressive" to dismiss Flynt's pornography as harmless "adult" entertainment. How can it be considered harmless to consistently portray women and girls in a sexually demeaning and degrading manner? Flynt hasn't built his porn publishing empire in a vacuum. Our society has some of the highest rates of sexual and domestic violence in the world. The numbers are staggering: one in four women will be raped or sexually assaulted. One study showed that one in five teenage girls has been in a physically or sexually abusive relationship. Most women won't even walk alone after dark. Whenever we discuss the effects of pornography -- and regardless of how one feels about people's right to produce or consume it -- anyone with a minimal sense of social responsibility has to examine the relevant context, including where and how it is produced and its relationship to social reality.

....

Hustler cartoons are also notoriously saturated with images of racism and sexual cruelty. As the media scholar Gail Dines points out, the cartoons can be even more overtly offensive than the photo layouts because they carry a "humor license" and hence avoid critical scrutiny. One result is that men of color -- especially African-American men -- are routinely presented in the most reductive racist stereotype: as brutish rapists of white women. Women of color are caricatured with animal-like qualities -- or as non-hygienic slobs. One characteristic cartoon depicts a school science fair. A white boy proudly stands in front of his project, next to a big sign that reads: "ant farm." Next to him is a large Black girl, naked from the waist down; under her the caption reads: "crab farm."


*sigh* I REALLY liked Kucinich. I am really disappointed. I, like Jackson Katz and many of my feminist friends, took his very progressive politics to mean that he supported the equality of women.

Silly, silly me. I spent the years previous to my school as a traveling activist in anarchist circles. The, what many people call "manarchists," are misogynist, racist assholes, which is ridiculous because if you are advocating anarchism, as I understand it, you are advocating equality and freedom of all people, regardless of anything like race or gender. Why am I surprised? Dammit. I've been able to escape this heartbreak for the past few years by concentrating solely on my schooling. That and being on disability and having 3 cats makes it *somewhat* difficult to just hop on a train and go wherever I want whenever there's a campaign I want to work on. I don't miss it partially because I was so burned out by fighting the manarchists and the fact that almost all my sexual assaults have been by my 'fellow activists.'

I HATE THE SO-CALLED "LIBERAL" MALES WHO ARE MISOGYNIST JERKFACEHEADS. ARGH

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oh great science/math people who stop by here

HELP!!!!!!

I'm looking at grad schools, and I have no idea what to do with it. I've been putting it off because it is so overwhelming and this past quarter I've been struggling with so many health issues I just couldn't add more stress to my life.

I'm in love with Abstract algebra, linear algebra, and physics. I want to find a school where I could be a research assistant or at least be a TA that doesn't have to teach entry level math b/c my pre-calc is HORRIBLE. I'd prefer to start next winter/spring, but there are some places that only start in the fall (though one of them I'm going to apply for even though I don't think I'll get in, but hey, no application fee so why the hell not).

Any tips on researching grad schools? What I can find, or if you're in math what programs should I look into given what I like? My advisor is out of the country for the rest of the year and to be completely honest the closest person I have to an advisor is in the physics department whereas I'm in math.

Or should I just do a post-bacc and finish my physics degree too?

Thoughts? Ideas? Pointers, please. (I'll love you forever.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I hate December

So if you read my last substantial post you know that I have been having a really hard time this month. And during my 16 hour layover (my flight got cancelled and they rescheduled it for 6 the next morning, blech. they had no pilots, isn't that great.) I was thinking and December has always been a bad month. Usually that means there's a trauma anniversary of some kind, and all I can come up with is stuff about having to spend a lot of time with my mother due to xmas break and all. And now I'm here, which I always dread. If my grandmothers weren't so old and in such poor shape I wouldn't come home at all. I just can't deal with my mother. It makes sense though, because I've been having my "mom tapes" playing constantly telling me I'm worthless. It didn't help that I had asshole prof who acted like I was using my migraines and disability to not take quizzes and a test. I got 100% on everything I turned in (no late homework, even for those of us who have documented disabilities and work with disAbility resources. And I got a B- in the class, which I think is bullshit. Once I have my hands on the final I will be appealing.) even though I ALWAYS had it done by the due date.

I'm just a ball of PTSD related depression and anxiety and I have been all month. I caught myself thinking that I should just end it with the first person I've ever loved. It's been that bad. Now that I'm in Chicago I just want to leave. Waiting for the plane filled me with anxiety and just made me want to ditch it and go home. I've been here 30 minutes and I'm crying.

I'll be back hopefully in a few weeks. I'm just overwhelmed with PTSD-related issues right now.

I hope you're all well and enjoy the holiday season (and for you students/profs I hope you enjoy your break.) I need to go now.

I FUCKING HATE DECEMBER (and can't wait until I can spend every December in my little repopulated ghost town in southwest Texas. Nothing gets to me there, I'm just filled with a sense of peace and joy at being alive. After I pay off my student loans I'll probably buy some land and move there for good. people survive down there by working as little as 2 nights a week (those that own land anyway.)

*sigh*

Monday, December 10, 2007

In the market for some art?

I just "opened" my store on Etsy.com, a place to buy all handmade items sold by the artists themselves. My store is here, and more prints will be added, as well as photos, and the photos will be $20 and under (depending on whether it's on fiber paper (which needs to be mounted) and RC paper, which doesn't. Price depends on size). So if you want to support me, but can't afford it just wait a little while. Knit items and hand spun yarn will be coming soon as well (though after the holidays)

Tell your friends! Support artists! (even if you choose not to buy from me, you should buy from the other artists. I buy almost everything from there!)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

mmm Finals, and what other then anxiety!

So next week is finals week. Mine are on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

So I've been getting migraines 1-2 times a week where I used to get them 1-2 times a month. My doc put me on some preventative meds but they also lower your blood pressure and it lowered mine way to much. I've spent the past 3 days feeling all woozy, dizzy, and airheaded. It felt like watching something and someone kept shaking the camera, and everytime they did it was like my brain was an etch-a-sketch that got erased as well. It made doing my last physics assignment hell. It took me 4 friggin' days to do an assignment that would usually take only two.

Is it right that I'm a math major but I spend all my time in the physics building? We have couches in the TAs office and food. It makes it really hard to have an excuse to leave before you're done with your work.

I thought that I was being fired from my TA job, but really the guy who assigns labs has very bad people skills, because I brought it up with Andrew, actually he brought it up with me, who I'm rewriting the labs for and he was nothing but praise, he only brought up his concern over my health issues (1-2 migraines a week since September) and I was really happy because I learned that I'm very enthusiastic about the labs, I'm very approachable for the students and well liked, and that I am very helpful. He then said he would talk to the guy who hands out the lab assignments because he was worried that I wouldn't get a lab b/c he felt that there may have been a miscommunication. He asked me to do the 101 labs with him this winter and then another calc-based physics lab with him in the spring. YAY! I'm a good TA (so said the anonymous surveys we received about the labs this summer).

Well I'm glad to know that after spiraling into a depression cycle for the next 4-5 days. yippie. I missed another quiz. gah.

I waited until after we talked about the labs, because I didn't want to make him feel bad or anything and then I gave him a teddy bear I knit for his 6 mo and some shark mitts (pictured below) I made for his 5 year old. He loved the mitts and told me that his whole family would. He's been under so much stress this quarter I wanted to give him something to pick up his spirits a bit. I love the mitts and really want to try to make them in an adult size.



Wish me luck on my finals! I will be, surprise, surprise, in the physics library all day Monday. I would be there on Tuesday if I didn't have a final that afternoon. whoosh!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

OH OH OH, socially concious hip hop!

Here's the blurb that accompanies the video:
Check out my full album: http://www.mrjmedeiros.com/
Visit the NON-PROFIT website inspired by this video: http://www.iamconstance.org/

Constance is a story about a girl in the Philipines victiminzed by Human Trafficking. It was created by Sam Sanchez of Stick Productions in 2006. Also special thanks to Nakeism Labs. It has spread like wildfire via YouTube, and has inspried an international human rights movement called the "Constance Campaign." Mr. J spearheaded the movement, And has partnered with Non-Profit's like IamComing.org, XXXChurch, and HumanTrafficking.org. In May 2007, Constance was featured on CBS Evening News in an expose' on internet pornography


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NO WAY!


DSCF3860
Originally uploaded by ladyceres24
Must make now!

(hehehehe, extermiknits!)


I was just accepted onto Ravelry.com which is an awesome resource for knitters. All sorts of patterns, ways to organise your yarn stash and needles. I found a Gir pattern (from Invader Zim), a pattern for Mr. Pointy (the stake from Buffy), and Marvin (from Hitchhiker's Guide.) And I've only been poking around for about an hour! (I had to input all my needles first. Next the yarn!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy plant blogging

Meet Harold, the first plant I bought for my apartment. I was feeling depressed and I thought, hey, I know what will make me happy: a rubber tree plant! I love them so much.


Plants I need to name. Anyone know what the name of the plant on the left? I know the other two are Hens and Chicks.


My New Guinea Impatiens. I haven't named it yet, but I think it needs one.


The Love Lies Bleeding (on the left) does not have a name because I like it's name so much.


This is Melvin, my birthday present. (I have a thing for carnivorous plants). I've been told that I like to name my plants "old man names," but I really like the names of my plants.


Happy day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will it never end? Proposed brothel for the 2010 Olympics in VanCan

An article from todays Vancouver Sun. (Emphasis mine)

Coalition pushes for legal brothel during Olympics
Ottawa's support sought for safe, prostitute-run facility that would cater to Olympic visitors

Jeff Lee
Vancouver Sun

Sunday, November 11, 2007

VANCOUVER -- A group of Vancouver prostitutes wants to open a "co-op" brothel in time for the Winter Olympics, saying it would help sex-trade workers by providing a safer working environment when the world comes to visit in 2010.

Susan Davis, a working prostitute, said she envisions the creation of as many as five cooperative brothels if the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities -- which includes men, women and transgendered sex-trade workers -- convinces the federal government to permit the first brothel on an experimental basis.

The group has support from some politicians, including Vancouver East MP Libby Davies and Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, who believe a brothel owned and run by sex-trade workers would help reduce violence against them.


Now Sam Sullivan won by some very shady stuff by having a candidate whose name was exactly the same name except he used his full name James Green instead of popular and former celebrated mayor Larry Summers endorsed COPE candidate Jim Green where people thoought they were voting for the COPE candidate but instead voted for James Green. I don't like the guy, and he wouldn't have been elected if it hadn't been for the multiple Greens who were running.

Davis said the group is weeks away from incorporating a cooperative corporation and is looking for a possible location in the city's east-side Strathcona area. But she said the group won't open the facility, complete with "quickie rooms" equipped with sinks and a bench, unless it has support from the federal government.

The Strathcona district is located in the Downtown East Side (DTES from now on) which is the part of Vancouver that is plagued with poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution. It's also the area where serial prostitute killer Robert Pickton picked up his 46 known victims. Opening a brothel there is not going to help anyone in the area.

"What we'd like to see is an exemption given to us along the lines of what was given for the Insite safe-injection site," Davis said.

She believes tens of thousands of men who come to Vancouver during the Games will be searching for sex. B.C.'s booming construction economy has already brought thousands of workers, and along with them, prostitutes, she said.

"Just like the workers are coming from all over the world to build the city, sex workers are coming with them," she said.

Sullivan, who said the city needs a new approach to dealing with the problems of prostitution, doesn't object to the idea of a co-op brothel.


Again, Sullivan is an asshole. And rather then try to help the women currently on the streets in a productive manner he's buying in to the misconception that decriminalisation and legalisation *actually* make conditions better for prostitutes, which is patently false.

But he said he's more focused on helping so-called "survival sex-trade" workers find cures to their addiction.

"I believe we need to keep an open mind," he said. "But I don't believe it would address the needs of the survival sex trade. I don't think a brothel of this kind would even allow women like that into it, because they come with lots of problems."


It has been documented that many sex workers do not start out as addicts, but become addicts to deal with the abuse they suffer because of prostitution. Goldstein estimated that 40% to 85% of prostitutes were drug users; in addition, he reported that among higher class prostitute women, prostitution tended to precede substance abuse, while in lower class prostitutes, the reverse tended to be true (Goldstein, 1979). James, alluding to data from an unpublished 1976 manuscript, stated that "Prostitution follows addiction in 48% of the subjects, precedes it in 38%, and is simultaneous in 14%" (James, 1977).


Opponents of the brothel say it would only perpetuate the idea that prostitution is acceptable, and not solve the abuse heaped on women in an industry most of them don't want to be in.

"It entrenches prostitution as legitimate, and therefore legitimatizes pimps and traffickers," said Daisy Kler, a social worker with Vancouver Rape Relief. "I do not believe the public would agree that this is a good idea, to have some disposable women available for the Olympics."

Last week, Calgary-based The Future Group released a report warning that Vancouver's Olympics will be a target of human traffickers wanting to exploit prostitution. The report, titled Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics, said the federal and provincial governments need to deter traffickers from using the Games to profit from human misery.

Janine Benedet, an associate professor of law at the University of B.C., said the city already has hundreds of brothels. The only difference is that they operate illegally. Bringing in one for the Olympics, she said, is wrong.

"To the question, 'Is society ready for this?' my answer is, 'I hope not,'" said Benedet, who lectures on sexual violence. "The notion that this is somehow different or better than any of the other brothels out there is simply false."

Studies show more than 90 per cent of women in the sex trade are not there by choice, but rather because of trafficking, drug addiction and societal problems such as incest.

Benedet said the majority of Vancouver's prostitutes are native women, and many of them suffer from deep psychological trauma. Davis said a brothel run as a cooperative would not turn away prostitutes looking for a safe and clean place to do their business.


From the article linked to above under the word "false" (though actually on page two comes these facts:
United States: 56% don't want it legal, 88% want out now.

South Africa: 62% don't want it legal, 89% want out now

Thailand: 72% don't want it legal, 94% want out now

Turkey: 96% don't want it legal, 90% want out now

Zambia: 92% don't want it legal, 99% want out now

Amazing that pro-prostitution people bandy about how "legal" means safer and is what prostitutes want. I'd say that the study shows that prostitutes *don't* want prostitution to be legalised.

The trial of Robert Pickton, who is accused of the first-degree murder of 26 women, all of whom were either survival sex-trade workers or addicts, amplifies that point, she said. (see above)

"It would be better to be working inside in a bad place than it would be to be outside and getting killed," she said. "Our main focus is to help the adult prostitutes. We're focusing on the Downtown Eastside first because that's where so many of them are getting killed."

So why don't we address the real problem: that these women are seen as disposable. Many cities do not even investigate missing prostitutes until the numbers reach the double digits, which shows just how much these women are valued in society, i.e. they have less value then an unprostituted people.

Davis said the co-op has the support of federal politicians, including Davies, Liberal MP Hedy Fry and Senator Larry Campbell, the former Vancouver mayor. Davies said she supports the coalition's idea of the co-op, and also wants to see prostitution decriminalized. (again, see above)

Society's prohibitionist stance against the sex trade hasn't solved the problem that men continue to seek out women for sex, she said. While she is opposed to child prostitution, she doesn't think adult prostitution should be illegal.

"Where there is sex between two consenting adults, even if there is money exchanged, I don't think the state should prohibit it," Davies said. "I think even the police would agree that the current situation is not tolerable, and that we need safer conditions for sex-trade workers."

But Vancouver police department spokesman Const. Tim Fanning said a brothel can't legitimize an industry that completely victimizes women.

"You can call it what you want, but prostitution is just a breath short of slavery," he said. "These women are not in it by choice. The police department would in no way support anything like a brothel."


WOOT WOOT! Unfortunately I am shocked that a Constable actually understands what prostitution does to women, but it is a very welcome surprise.

Davis said better "exit" strategies are needed to help prostitutes who want to leave the industry. But she thinks prostitution as a whole should be accepted instead of stigmatized. She said as an example, she services many elderly men whose wives either won't have sex with them or who are widowers and don't want long-term relations.

Isn't that sweet. A modern day Mother Theresa. *rolleyes*

But Kler saw Davis's proposal as a thinly disguised attempt to legalize an industry she sees as akin to slavery.

"Fundamentally, it's not the laws that kill, beat and rape women, it's men," she said. "The mantra in this city is that it's safer, it's safer, it's safer. We fundamentally see prostitution as a form of violence against women. If you are coming from a women's equality perspective, as we are, fighting for the equal status of women, we see that there is no benefit to women as a group to legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution." (did I mention that Daisy kicks ass? but then again, Vancouver Rape Relief also kicks ass)

The idea of brothels is not new to Vancouver. In 2005, then-councillor Tim Louis suggested the city should open one to support prostitutes as long as it didn't make money from it, prompting Sullivan, then a mayoral candidate, to say: "The goal should be to help these women get out of the survival sex trade, not keep them in it. I'm running to be mayor to help people, not to get into the business of being a pimp."

But the approach of the Winter Games has brought the issue to the fore again. The Olympics, like many major sporting events, traditionally generate a boost in prostitution.

Victor Malarek, author of the best-selling book The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade, said more than 40,000 women and girls were brought to Athens for the 2004 Summer Games.

For the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, more than 20,000 women were imported. In both countries, prostitution is legal, but the vast majority of those brought in were foreigners from countries like Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.

While Canada's immigration laws and visa requirements will prevent many foreign prostitutes from being trafficked in Vancouver for the Games, Malarek says the reality is that the 2010 Winter Games will be no different than other Olympics.

"You're going to open up a Pandora's box if you allow even one legal brothel," he said.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, the federal government's senior minister in B.C., and the Vancouver Organizing Committee declined to comment.

jefflee@png.canwest.com (to contact the author of this article)


To learn more about what pornography (taped prostitution) and prostitution are really like you should visit (for starters anyway):
Prostitution Research and Education
Against Pornography
Polaris Project
Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International
Genderberg

Friday, November 09, 2007

Jersey Jaxin on why she left porn and the abuses of the industry

Yes I know, do we really need to keep posting things about how women in the industry are harmed? Well since a lot of people don't listen the answer is YES. I know I'll keep screaming until people actually hear me. My words and other brave bloggers words about their experience in the sex "industry" have been glossed over as "odd" stories, since everyone know that the sex "industry" is just good sexy fun, right?

Yet again a woman who worked in the industry tells us a resounding NO. Yet again I am silmultaneously moved to tears and angered beyond belief by the stories of another woman (and you know for all the women brave enough to speak out there are a cadre of women with the same experiences who don't (and I understand that...it's not easy to talk about abuse)) who has been abused, used, disrespected, and treated like nothing more then a few holes.

To all you "good sexy fun" believers AGAIN I ask: HOW MANY WOMEN WILL IT TAKE TO CONVINCE YOU THAT PORN IS HARMFUL TO WOMEN? HOW MANY? At least give me a number, I bet I could find that many women. Just tell me, WHAT WILL IT FUCKING TAKE?

Ex-porn star Shelley Lubben interviews Tanya W. (porn name: Jersey Jaxin) about her decision to leave porn and the horrible conditions that she was working in.

Part the first:


part the second:


From Shelley Lubben (now, I hate WalMart (and Target slightly less) but in this instance, if I could, I would send a gift card):

"I want to give Tanya some relief from the many years of suffering she has endured. She has only known pain and abuse since she was a little girl and now I want all of us to reach out to her. She is moving to another state where there are mainly Super Walmarts. If you would like to help Tanya as she begins her new life please send Walmart and Target cards to my PMB Box and I will forward everything I receive to her as soon as I receive them from you.

Let's keep helping the porn stars rebuild their lives! YOU are making a HUGE difference in the lives of women by your giving.

Tanya already sends a BIG THANK YOU to us for your support and love as she courageously rebuilds her new life.

You can send the Walmart cards here to my post mail box at:

Shelley Lubben
PMB Box 33
6077 Coffee Rd 4
Bakersfield, Calif. 93308

Or if you'd like to help in some other way please visit my web site here. (Also you can see the other women that Shelley is trying to help and lend some support or a hand (there are non-monetary things like finding lawyers, translators, etc)

Thank you SO MUCH for caring about the porn stars! Love, Shelley"

Now I know Shelley is one the Christ train, and I fear people will react by saying: "oh she's just religious right." To that I say, how many people in the religious right are ex-pornstars and how many actually want to *help* people leave porn? Seriously, what she's doing is wonderful for anyone. I don't care if she calls herself the one true god, she is doing much more then most people in our society, helping the abused and battered women get a life outside of the abuse (porn).

Hat tip and more info: Anti-Pornography Activist Blog

Cat owners: Does this happen to you?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lazy Day posting continues

So my temperature has remained steady today at 96F/35.6C. Can someone tell me what a dangerous level is? I know that if my temp drops to 94.7F/34.8C that I should go to the doctor because that happened to me a few summers ago and I rode it out in bed under every blanket I could find in the house while it was beautiful and warm. All the things I look for online say "hypothermia" but how can I have hypothermia when I haven't been in any situation in which I would develop it. For the past 3 days when at home I am covered in blankets, with the heater on (I never use it), and wrapped in my lovely fleece robe and really warm clothes when I go out. Maybe I should see my doctor now because I'm continually fluctuating between being fine and too hot. Why can't I get a fever like everyone else and should I be worried?

I didn't go to school, didn't turn in my homework that I worked on for hours last night on and missed my lab meeting. Because I finally crawled out from beneath the covers so late I will still be running my lab tommorrow morning (didn't notify them in time today) and I haven't gotten a chance to go over it yet. Craptastic. Also, I still haven't gotten the grading guidelines for last weeks lab and I'm supposed to grade them by tommorrow at 8. Bah.

Yesterday the only time I didn't feel sick was when I was doing my homework. Gonna do some calculus homework now in the hopes that it will make me feel better. (Miraculously for the 10 minutes I took my quiz on Friday I did not feel my left frontal lobe trying to escape out the front of my skull. When the quiz was done my migraine returned full force. Yippiee.) Maybe I've discovered a new cure for pain and illness? Or maybe I was concentrating so hard on my work I didn't notice the pain and overwhelming crappy feeling of being sick.

I was going to post some links, but I of course closed the tabs they were in. But here's a funny one: Inky Circus on the Calculus of Saying I Love You

Enjoy.

I've been memed! (About a month ago!) And it's scientific-y!

I was tagged by Kate from A k8, a cat, and a mission somewhere in the beginning of October. Since I'm home sick today I thought that it is perfectly fine for me to catch up on my blogosphere business. So here is the randomly mutating meme:

First, the rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
You can leave them exactly as is.
You can delete any one question.
You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

So, without further ado:

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-grandparent is "http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2007/10/the_pharyngula_mutating_genre.php"/>A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-grandparent is Primate Diaries.
My grandparent is Thus Spake Zuska.
My parent is A k8, a cat, a mission

The best novel collection in SF/Fantasy is: The Earthsea Chronicles by Ursula K LeGuin

The best scary movie in scientific dystopias is: The Handmaid's Tale

The best song in country music is: 2 Days Smug and Sober by Carolyn Mark

The best cult novel in pre-Victorian fiction is: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The best high-carb food in Franco-Canadian cooking is poutine!

The best dissertation-related words I ever received from a scholar are: "I think you'll do fine writing a dissertation, don't let that scare you away from your goals."

I am passing this on to

I See Invisible People
Adventures in Applied Math (if she can take some time out from baking such wonderous cakes!
Laurelin in the Rain
Sparkle*Matrix? (are you around now?)
Library Tavern
Arooo

and of course anyone else who would like to join in. Remember, it's science!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Don't despair! The Carnival of Radical Feminists is here!

Welcome to my blog. Feel free to poke around, I have my best (and probably most radical feminists posts) in the sidebar under favourites. I'm a bit overwhelmed and having disability and health issues lately that I really don't have the time to sort the posts by topic. I guess this just means you'll have to read them all. *grin*

Also, if I missed any of your posts or didn't give you a detailed intro it's just because my health problems have been kicking my ass and I'm struggling to keep up with my 300/400 level math and physics classes. You all deserve better intros, but I just don't have the time or energy. Needless to say, there are a lot of really rad posts that I got to read for this carnival, and it's wonderful to be introduced to new radical voices. Thank you for this oppurtunity, you all should host once! It's amazing.

So, for my entry I reviewed Full Frontal Feminism and the inanity of the new "sexy feminism" and how this book buys into the corporate media's tactic of selling everything with sex. Oh, and I didn't get to write about it yet since I just heard about it but there's a new movie called Lars and the real girl about a guy and his real doll whose tagline is "The search for true love begins outside the box." and is called, i kid you not, a "heartfelt comedy" *puke* Thanks for normalising and glorifying Real Dolls. If you can stand it you can watch the trailer here. *blech*

Tracee Sioux muses about the devaluation of motherhood and its relation to the devaluation of women in Devaluation of Motherhood posted at So Sioux Me. She also interviews a woman and her family about a fellowship that required her to leave them for a year in So Sioux Me: Long Distance Mothering.

Ann Bartow talks about even when filtered through two judges prostitution is still as depressing as ever in Prostitution In Atlanta, As Described By the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals posted at Feminist Law Professors.

The Ghost of Dr. Violet Socks talks about the misogynistic bullshit of evopsych in her post Reclusive Leftist In which Dr. Socks becomes so disgusted with the casual ineptitude of the ev-psychos that she descends to name-calling and cursing posted at Reclusive Leftist.

Holly Ord brings talks about Love Your Body day and how hard it is for us to feel positive about ourselves in Love Your Body posted at Menstrual Poetry. She also hits home with The Truth About Planned Parenthood which has been an argument that I have been having with a lindyhopping friend recently. She also talks about the epidemic ofRape in Congo – A Weapon of War Becomes a Way of Life posted at Woman Tribune.

Heather Corinna talks about how all of sexuality and sex studies have been conducted with one group in mind, and not surprisingly that group is men in Disorders of Desire posted at heather corinna: pure as the driven slush. She also talks about how our sexuality is demonised still in One ring to rule them all | Scarleteen at Scarleteen Newswire.

Portly Dyke talks about Sexual Consent in A Modest Proposal: The Thorny Issue of Sexual Consent.

Womensspace presents a Radical Feminist Response to the proposed trans-inclusive addition to ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) in ENDA and “Gender Identity”: A Feminist, Woman-Centered Response. Also there is a post on the way Ken Burns completely ignored the "comfort women" in his 15-part special on World War II Where in gods name are the comfort women: an open letter to Ken Burns. Also she wants justice in Blog and website banners for the "Free the New Jersey 4" campaign.

Ginmar on a judge's ruling that the rape of a prostitute is a "theft of services" rape of a prostitute is a "theft of services". The ghost of Dr Socks also weighs in on this topic.

Two posts on sexual harrassment: one from Professor Zero and one from Kitty Glendower

River at Baghdad Burning writes about being a refugee from Iraq and her new life in Syria.

Marcella Chester points out the flaws in attacks which claim that focusing on men's violence against women proves feminist chick hypocrisy. Misunderstanding Of Gender In Sexual Violence posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open. She also talks about teachers as sexual predators in Teacher predators and Resistance.

Debs talks about the importance of language in Wife, Mother, Sister, Daughter or Goddess? posted at Feminist Fire.

One Tenacious Baby Mama talks about homogeneity in political movements in Reloaded V & Don't ever, EVER assume we're all the same and don't try to force it, either....

Beautiful Also are the Souls of My Black Sisters writes about Black Women in White America.

Leisha on why it is important that "Take Back the Night" be a woman-only event.

Laurelin on "objectivity".

Eeni B. Bella Stinggrose on taking back Halloween and the sexism in mainstream children's costumes.

Maggie Jochild presents "THE WAR", OURS AND THEIRS -- PROPAGANDA AS BRAIN DAMAGE posted at Meta Watershed. She also wants you to read an excerpt from her novel at "THE WAR" -- EXCERPT FROM "GINNY BATES" and she talks about war in WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME AGAIN . I suggest you read her entire blog as she submitted a lot of things to me and they're all worth a read. (sorry Maggie that I didn't put them all in.)

The Goddess speculates on Condoleeza Rice's sexual orientation and why it matters.

La Doctorita on sexism in her med school classes.


Madeleine Begun Kane points out the insanity of thinking that women only want to shoot "cute" guns in Not Tickled Pink About Girlish Pink Guns posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

And to end on a happy note:
In awesome news SecondWaver talks about a movie that I really want to see in The Gendercator by Catherine Crouch

Friday, November 02, 2007

Do not fear

The carnival of radical feminists will be up this weekend.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WOO WOO WOO

So I got my math test back today. The one that took me 3 hours and had 4 mini panic attacks during and have the prof that makes me feel stupid. I ACED IT!!!! Wooo Wooo!

Although it did bother me that when he was passing the tests back, some people did not want them back because he said that some people did bad, like around 60%, and mine was the top one and he said "For instance, Burrow wants hers back." I thought profs weren't supposed to do that. I kinda wanted to melt into my seat, but I was also like, hell yeah!

And I went for accupuncture today. Going to start going weekly in the hopes of healing me and getting me off so many meds (namely the migraine stuff, the muscle spasm stuff, the seroquel for sleep). Also I'm hoping it can help moderate my moods and allergies. After all that, I'm going to use it to help me quit smoking. That's my graduation gift to myself, because it's hella hard when I have a lot due every week and this is my most stressful quarter yet, which makes sense since the classes are higher level.

No physics yet.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Full Frontal Feminism: a review

Lets put aside the naked woman on the cover for the time being. Obviously it makes me angry that a thin white naked woman is pictured on the front of a book about feminism.

While I understand that Jessica Valenti wants to reach out to women who shy away from the word feminist, she really doesn't know how to represent it right. Yes she makes really good points and her book is accesible to a wide audience, but the way she goes about trying to sell young women and girls on feminism is to try and make it "sexy."

The second chapter in the book is all about how being a feminist leads to better sex. The opening sentence is this: I'm better in bed then you are. And I have feminism to thank for it. Now, feminists having better sex is true, but really the second chapter? Aren't there more important things to talk about instead of expounding about what great sex you're having now that you're a feminist? Sure it's a happy consequence, but it shouldn't be the reason that someone becomes a feminist. Sex is not the be all end all of life. Sure it's great, I myself really enjoy it, but it's ridiculous to make that the first thing you present in your book. I mean is Cosmo somehow now feminist because it has tons of articles about how to have great sex? (But keep in mind most of those are of the "how to please your man in bed" category.) The way to get women and girls interested in feminism should be by accesibly written books, like this one, talking honestly about the problems we face in a patriarchal society. Women and girls should choose to be feminists for the fact that there are so many things that are anti-women in society. Are you going to be a real feminist if the only reason you call yourself one is to have great sex? I think not.

Also, one of the reasons she cites for women not becoming feminists is that when they hear the word feminism they think we're hairy. She goes on to explain how sexy and fun today's feminists are. What's not sexy about being hairy? I've been hairy since I was 17 and no one has ever been turned off by it. Well a few, but obviously they were idiot frat boy types that I wouldn't want to be with anyone, since who wants to date moronic sexist assholes? Not I.

In her third chapter, Pop Culture Gone Wild, she critiques the media system and talks about how women's sexuality has been commodified and pornified. Yet in her blog, feministing, she talks about the sex industry like it is just good old sexy fun. She never invites radical feminists, many of us who have actual first hand experience of working in the sex industry and who speak out about the horrors and abuses we suffered in that "sexy good fun" industry. But this follows from the focus of the book on how "sexy" feminism is. It's such a shame and a horrible effect of many people in the so-called "third wave" accept porn's humiliation, exploitation, and abuse of women as fun because it has the appearance of being sexy, unlike hairy legged prudes like me. ;)

Obviously what bugged me about this book is how it is shaped around selling feminism the way we sell everything: with the promise of sex and sexiness. Should we really be mimicing the current media landscape that is unquestionably racist and misogynistic and uses sex to sell everything? I would hope not, but that is exactly what Valenti does in her book. She does make great points about the media and the beauty myth, she then goes on to talk about how today's feminist wear lipstick, heels, and sexy clothes. Us hairy legged feminists never tell women they can't do these things, all we ask is that people examine why they do wear these patriarchal beauty standards. I wear them sometimes too, but I am fully aware of how society views this. I admit that now I do it more for fun now, because I feel free to do so since I realised that I previously wore them because society told me that's what women do. Yeah it's fun to wear fun makeup (it's always very extravagant, which is what I see the point of makeup is) and I certainly do appreciate a well made shoe, heel or no.

Another thing that really rubbed me the wrong way is when she went on The Stephen Colbert Show, one which, like The Daily Show, makes light of things light pornography and exploitation of women, she gave him a shirt that said "Feminist Chicks Dig Me." It's bullshit. Chicks on a feminist shirt to describe women? It's bullshit as I do not feel that being compared to a baby chicken is particularly empowering. I've always found the shirt to be bullshit, but the new "spokeswoman" of feminism condoning it on national television? Yep, there's nothing more empowering then being compared to an animal. And not just an animal, but a BABY animal. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Bah humbug.

Dear body:

I don't know what I've done, but can you please stop it with the constant pain. I take care of you and you reward me with seemingly endless migraines and muscle spasms. Also my tendonitis and arthritis acting up and the fact that I am in extreme pain if I don't wear a bra 24-7. I am really sick of spending my days in pain and my free time incapacitated and unable to do anything. I'm begging you. Please.

Lost Clown

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another week, more problems

So my insomnia has been acting up again. It's really fucking with school. And when I can't sleep my anxiety gets much much worse. I need to talk to my doctor because the 25mg of seroquel is not working anymore. I was going to go up for my friend's birthday in Vancouver, but I'm here and feel like I got hit by a mack truck.

I had tests in my Classical Mechanics class and my hard math class today. I was in the testing center for 7 hours, partially because I kept having mini panic attacks and almost started crying several times. It was very disconcerting. I'm still kicking myself b/c I know my physics prof would have let me take the test on Monday. I spent so much time studying for physics that I only did some damage control this morning (though I've been doing all the homework in my math class religiously).

I think I did well on the mechanics test. I feel that I did passable on the math test, even though I almost broke down several times during it.

I have to talk to my therapist about the sleeping thing, and the fact that lately my mom tapes have been playing repeatedly and every time I have trouble with something my immediate thought is that I'm too stupid and I should quit (she used to tell me repeatedly that I was stupid and that I'd never amount to anything. great mother, huh?).

It doesn't help that I have the math prof I hate who makes me feel like an idiot everytime I have a problem. And I've been doing the most moronic thing too: I'm madly in love with a total math genius. he never got anything but an A in any of his classes (though part of this may be that he probably has much better study habits then I do. I only really know how to study by doing the homework. Reviewing stuff is still hard for me) and it's the same when I can't do something, I think of him and feel like a complete idiot (but only in my math classes, when I asked him to check to see that my physics math was right he was totally lost, partially because of the dummy variables). But he's nothing but supportive. In fact he's awesome.

I know it's just my anxiety and my PTSD (mom tapes) acting up, but it's been this way for the past two weeks. I really need to do something about this. It's also seriously making me doubt grad school. I need to get this under control. I thought it was, but then it comes back to bite me in the ass. Having a mental health disability is so fucking hard. I hate my life sometimes. But I will keep trying and I will beat this fucking bullshit. (I hope.) I really want to go to grad school, badly. I'll just have to try twice as hard as some people, and let me tell you, I don't think it's fucking fair.

In other news I got a B on my DiffEQ test. We have another one next week. This week I'm going to finally open the book. I can ace this class if I study a little.

EDIT: I found a sliding scale accupuncture place and am going in because I've been having a lot of muscle spasms (in my neck) which lead to migraines and they've all gotten more frequent in the past two weeks. I can't go a day without a muscle relaxer and it's killing me (and turning me into a zombie). *Fingers crossed* I hope this works. I'm gonna see if they can help me with my insomnia too.

EDIT #2:
This is taken from a comment I refuse to publish, b/c I have before and I am sick of people telling me that my meds are harmful. Maybe they are, but they have improved my quality of life tenfold. I will answer all of you here, so don't bother to comment, it won't be published. I know what's best for me, not you. So sod off.

I take this medication because it is my informed decision. I am also on mood stabilisers which have improved the quality of my life by 100%. I don't want any more comments about how it's "unfeminist" to be on medication. Trust me I have tried everything for my insomnia (I've had it since I was a kid) and for everything else, although I am going to an accupuncturist on Monday to see if we can do something about these muscle spasms and migraines. My therapist is a kick ass radical feminist. While she did suggest I go on a mood stabiliser she never pushed and after two years I decided that I would finally try it. My meds are my business. Yes I think the drug industry is fucked up, yes I am loathe to support them (even though my medicaid pays for it), but nevertheless I am more then happy to take the medications that I do. I have spent the last 7 years fighting this and I finally decided to try meds, and they work. So kiss my ass, it's not unfeminist.

Would you tell a diabetic that they couldn't have their insulin b/c it would be unfeminist for them? What about a cancer patient? Those of us who live with an illness are the only ones who it should matter to what we do to help alleviate our problems. I will never be ashamed for what I do to help me sleep, help to manage my moods, or help me manage the pain from my muscle spasms and migraines.

Also my "mom tapes" are not a load of patriarchal bullshit. I have severe PTSD because of the abusive environment I was raised in. My mother used to physically and emotionally abuse me. My "mom tapes" are the thoughts that keep repeating over and over in my head that are direct quotes from her. I do not think I am stupid and I know that I will definitely do something great with my life. I have all ready have. I have amounted to a kick ass activist who has published feminist theory and who is almost finished with her schooling in math and physics and is planning on attending grad school. But then there pops up my mom's annoying voice telling me that I'm shit, that I'm worthless, that I'm stupid and that I'll never amount to anything. Those are not my ideas, those are things that *she* told me. I named them my "mom tapes" not my awesome therapist. Again, it is my choice, my decision.

If you come to tell me that it's fucked up and I'm just a victim of the medical community you are ignoring any agency I have and my ability to decide what is best for me. Whether that is medication, naming my traumas, or anything else I decide to do to help alleviate the problems my disability throws at me it doesn't fucking matter what you think. Only I know what it's like to be me, not you, not anyone else. No one tied me down and forced this medication down my throat. No one forced me to accept the idea of mom tapes, in fact I feel that it's pretty damn accurate.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not dead

Buried by school work. Why the hell do profs have homework assignments due 1 to 2 days after they finish covering the material? (The book wasn't particularly illuminating in either case.)

I have Physics homework that I'm still working on 6 hours later, and math homework I *just* completed. Not to mention a test I have to study for and a quiz, though the quiz is not on the homework I spent 2 hours doing. When am I supposed to study for these? Not sleep?

I'm on the verge of having a panic attack, but I'm trying not to.

ARGH

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dear TV writers:

I hate you. I really really REALLY do. How would you like it if I made up fucked up stuff about you and broadcast it all of the world and it made people fear and loathe you before they even know who you are? Really, you think that would be unjust bullshit? Well then STOP FUCKING DOING IT TO US. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here:

Criminal Minds: 2 episodes into the season and 2, not 1, but 2, bad guys who are "borderline." Never mind the fact that I didn't see anything that was really borderline about either of them. So what's your fucking problem? Do you just think that because Borderline is so stigmatised and so unknown that you can pick on us and say that we're crazy scary people who (and I *almost* quote) 'believe that all relationships revolve around us'? Seriously? So yeah, we do do that to some extent, but first of all so does everyone else, and second of all I've never met or heard of anyone who's borderline kidnapping and killing people because they think that those people are there just for them. For fuck's sake, it would have definitely made the news since we borderlines are the big bads of the mental health world. BOO!

So do I get to look forward to an entire season of this bullshit where every creep who is a murderer is talked about as borderline? Every single one? You know, if people who are borderline would be less scared to talk about it openly (and with bullshit like this who can blame them for not wanting to talk openly) we might actually be less stigmatised, but even without you moron writers putting this bullshit into your show we all ready have to deal with therapists who refuse to work with us, people who don't know how to treat us, and people who are scared or freak out when they find out we have a "personality disorder."

I mean, ok, so if you only labelled one of them borderline (because it seems that almost every killer on your show has some mental health disorder which, you know, it seems like maybe there could lets say, HALF of them who were "healthy" so people will stop blaming people with mental health problems for anything horrible that happens in society*) I could somewhat deal with that (if he did indeed *act* as though he was borderline) because, yeah, I'll give you that anyone can be a killer, even a borderline. But the fact that it has come up two weeks in a row and used as a way to make sure everyone knows that this guy is super crazy and that borderlines are likely to carve you up into bits and eat your innards, well that makes me just a little bit pissy.

SO will you please stop kicking on people who are among the most feared and reviled in the mental health world (I mean, how appropriate is it that docs can refuse to treat us. What if you went in for a check up and the doc refused to treat you because they don't like people who have the flu? huh? Feels shitty, don't it.) So please pull your heads out of your asses and stop saying that every damn bad guy on your show is borderline. Because if you knew even a little itsy bit about it, you would know that we're far more likely to hurt ourselves then to hurt others. Oh and women have it more often then men.

Sincerley,
One seriously pissed off clown with borderline personality disorder.

*Did you know that in psychological tests done on rapists and pedophiles, doctors could find no difference at all between the psychological make-up of a 'healthy' person and a convicted sexual predator. Interesting, huh.



To my fellow BPD sufferers, a plea:

I want more people with BPD/ERD to stand up and talk about it. I'm sick of getting kicked around because of fear of the unknown. There are more of us who have been diagnosed borderline then there are diagnosed bipolar or schizophrenic! Those 2 conditions aren't nearly as scary or as picked on as borderline. I can't get you to do anything, but I just hope that I am not alone in bringing this stuff up. If you ever feel moved to talk about it, to a friend, on a blog, anywhere, and are scared just remember: I'll always be here for you. You have my unconditional support. We need to do this together.

Monday, October 01, 2007

We got the grant!

Now I will actually be paid for helping to rewrite the calculus based physics labs. I got the short stick and am TAing the 8 am lab. Yay for me. Oh, and for the department and the students.


I hope I'm not overwhelmed by it all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Oods and ends

-School starts Wednesday. Yippie.

-Even though my financial aid worker is second in command AND said I was DEFINITELY getting financial aid for Fall quarter I have none at this moment. NONE. And no one is able to tell me why the hell that is b/c I turned in my petition in May (MAY!) and have no idea what is going on. And apparently, they don't know what's going on either.

-Dating a math geek rocks. Though sometimes when we're in public we like to joke about women's "inferiority" in math because of those pesky ovaries and people take it the wrong way. They think we're serious. Like I'd ever date anyone who took that shit seriously. HA! (We also get weird looks because when we're at a coffeeshop or bar we'll make up math games. People are missing out by thinking math games are weird.)

-Have proved how big of a geek I am by buying textbook for the graduate Linear Algebra class and am up to chapter 4, having studied it and done the homework exercises. (One day I'm hoping to convince the department to let me take that class. I love me some Linear Algebra.)

-Really, really, REALLY need to clean. Badly. Will I? Mmmmmm, probably not.

-Don't want to go to school. Want more summer. But if the weather insists on being shitty I guess I'll be ok with school. I'd feel better starting school if it had ever been warm enough for me to spend a lot of time at the beach this summer. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When past mental health diagnoses become a weapon

I've been trying to write this post for some time, but it's really hard to exactly express what I'm feeling, so I'll just list it: anger (and a whole lot of it), disgust, fear, anger, incredulity, outrage, shock, sadness, and more (righteous) anger.

A woman, Fran Lyon, whose website can be found here detailing what's going on, who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when she was a teen (which is ridiculous b/c you're not supposed to be diagnosed with a personality disorder until you're over 18) is being threatened with having her baby taken away from her, 7 years after her diagnosis, and 6 years since her therapist has said she has recovered from her symptoms. (For a breakdown of BPD look to my old post found here. Read this first if you know little or nothing about BPD/ERD.)

From Writhe Safely (link at bottom):
A man rapes a woman, her resulting PTSD is misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder.

Women who have been raped are traumatized and eligible for the non-punishing dx of PTSD, which sits on AXIS I of treatable mental illness.

BPD is an AXIS II diagnosis, the AXIS referring to disorders of the personality, that are by definition lifelong and untreatable.


Daily Mail article (Reproduced in full here with my own emphasis added).
The daughter of teachers and with a glittering academic future, Fran was delighted when she became pregnant. But social services discovered the illness she thought she'd put behind her - and will confiscate her daughter when she is born...

Fran Lyon is due to give birth to her first child - a daughter she has already named Molly - on January 3. But the prospect, far from being one of joyous anticipation, fills her with a dread that keeps her awake at night.

It's not because Fran doesn't want the child. She does. Desperately. And not because she is frightened of the pain of labour. She is prepared for that.

It is what happens afterwards that fuels Fran's anxiety. And there can be no preparation for that pain.

For within 30 minutes of birth, barring any medical complications, Molly will be handed by doctors to social workers. They have instructions to take away Fran's newborn baby and place her in foster care.

The 22-year-old will then be transferred from the maternity wing to a gynaecological ward, because Northumberland Council has decided that Fran - who has never harmed anyone in her life - is potentially a risk to other mothers and their babies.

Fran has no idea if she will be able to touch her baby, even for a minute, before leaving hospital alone, or if she will ever get her daughter back. Her biggest fear is that she won't, and that Molly will be put up for adoption.

'It is incredibly upsetting not knowing if I will be allowed even to hold my baby,' says Fran, a charity worker. 'Until social services became involved in my life, I was having a normal pregnancy and was full of excitement.

'They have taken away what should be the most precious time in my life - and I will never get that back. I'm already in love with my baby. I can feel her moving, I talk to her. I've bought her baby books and clothes. You just can't undo that attachment.'


Fran is an intelligent and articulate woman. She has nine A- starred GCSEs, five grade A A-levels and is in the third year of a neuroscience degree at Edinburgh University - which she is completing at home in Hexham, Northumberland.

However, what concerns Hexham Children's Services, which is part of Northumberland Council, is Fran's medical history.

Having had a difficult relationship with her parents, who are teachers in good state schools, from the age of 15, she started selfharming. Fran spent three years - on and off - in psychiatric hospitals.

Her problems appear to have begun when she was raped by an acquaintance at the age of 14. Diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, she was discharged from a therapeutic facility in 2002, where she had spent 13 months, and spent nine months as an outpatient.

Today, she needs no medication and, according to her former psychiatrist, Dr Stella Newrith, 'has made a significant recovery to the point where her difficulties are indistinguishable from those of much of the general population'.

In a letter to Northumberland Council, Dr Newrith, who treated Fran for a year when she was 16 and has known her for many years, stated: 'There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest that Fran would put herself or others at risk, and there is certainly no evidence to suggest she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm.'

Furthermore, she said: 'I would view the removal of Fran's baby as an extraordinarily heavy-handed gesture. It is also my professional opinion that doing so would be an infringement of Fran's human rights, as it would be much the same as removing a child from someone from the general population.'

Yet on August 16, a child protection case conference recommended that Fran's baby should be taken away at birth - a decision based in part on the contents of a letter from consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Ward Platt, who has never met Fran and could not be present at the meeting.


In his letter, Dr Ward Platt states that 'even in the absence of psychological assessment, if the professionals were concerned on the evidence available that [this woman] probably does fabricate or induce illness, there would be no option but to put the baby into foster care at birth pending a post-natal forensic psychological assessment'.

However, he warned that it was necessary first to establish as far as possible whether or not Fran does suffer from this illness - something Fran claims they have failed to do.

Fran has never been diagnosed with this condition, yet she has nevertheless been deemed by Northumberland Council as someone likely to suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, a controversial and unproven condition in which a parent - usually the mother - makes up or induces an illness in her child to draw attention to herself.

And so, unless a judicial review next week rules in Fran's favour, her baby Molly will almost certainly be taken away at birth.

'I can understand why they might have concerns about my past, but the speed with which they have come to this conclusion, despite the evidence of my own psychiatrist, is terrifying,' she says.

'I was at the case conference and it lasted just ten minutes.

'This letter from Dr Ward Platt was given to me just five minutes before the meeting started, and when it was produced, the chairman said there was no point - in the light of what this letter stated - even considering the other evidence which I wanted to present, which was letters of support from psychiatrists.

'I think they simply panicked, and when people panic they make, in my opinion, bad judgments. I left that meeting numb with shock. I'd had absolutely no time to digest the letter or argue my case, and I was so horrified at what they'd said that I just couldn't even begin to respond to it.

'I have never harmed anyone in my life. I have no criminal convictions. I believe I can be a good mother to Molly - but they are not even prepared to give me a chance to prove that.

'I have offered to stay in a mother and baby unit after Molly's birth for as long as they want, and to be monitored. I would be prepared to stay there for 18 years if it meant I could be with my baby. But that, it seems, is not even an option.'

Fran's case is far from unusual. Two thousands babies under one year old were taken from their parents last year by social services - three times the number ten years ago. Critics believe councils are doing this to help meet government adoption 'targets'.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group, certainly thinks so.

'How can it be in the child's best interests to take a baby away from its mother at birth? The reason why they do it is because it's much harder to take away a baby the longer it spends with its mother, and a healthy newborn baby is so much easier to find adoptive parents for.

'It is estimated that 97 per cent of babies taken away from their mothers at birth, on the basis that the mothers are "capable of emotional abuse", are never returned to them - and that is simply scandalous.

'Of course, there are cases where it is right to do so, but the whole public family law system is corrupt because of the secrecy which surrounds it. Decisions are based on opinion and conjecture, rather than fact and evidence.

'What does Fran's case tell us? That no woman who has been raped or had mental health problems can be allowed to have a baby, even years later?

'What could be more traumatic than for a mother to have her baby taken away at birth? It's monstrous. That, in itself, can cause mental health problems, which is then used by social services against the mother as a reason not to return the baby. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.


'There has been a massive increase in younger babies being taken into care, before there is even any evidence of harm - and you have to ask why that is.'

Despite her own troubled past, Fran Lyon is convinced she can be a good parent, and is desperate to prove that. From the start, she has been open and honest with social workers about her medical history, but she feels this has been used against her.

Although she describes her childhood as 'difficult', she refuses to elaborate, other than to say that she is close to her mother and younger brother, but has no contact with her father.

The catalyst for her severe mental health problems was, she says, the rape she suffered when she was 14.

She told police that she was attacked while working as a Saturday volunteer in a charity shop in Northampton, when the shop's founder - a middle-aged man - drove her to an empty warehouse supposedly to pick up supplies for the shop.

When Fran reported the rape, he was interviewed by police. Three more women claiming they, too, had been attacked came forward and agreed to testify against him. However, in 2001 the man killed himself before the Crown Prosecution Service could decide whether to proceed.

'After the rape, I became clinically depressed,' says Fran. 'I lost a huge amount of weight and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill myself with an overdose of tablets. It wasn't a cry for help; I wanted to die because of what he had done to me.'

She spent the next three years, on and off, in residential psychiatric hospitals in Oxford, Nottingham and London after being diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, in her case characterised by self-harming, instability and suicidal tendencies.

For the final 13 months, Fran went to a therapeutic residential clinic, where she attended individual psychotherapy sessions and group analysis before being discharged as an outpatient.

By the time she was 18, she appeared to have put her problems behind her.

She started to flourish, taking five A-levels at Orpington College in Kent and applying to study neuroscience at Edinburgh University.

At the same time, she worked for two mental health charities, Borderline and Personality Plus. It was through that job, two years ago, that she met the man who is the father of Molly.

'Of course, I was worried when I fell pregnant. I wondered how we would cope as a couple, because we weren't living together,' says Fran.

'But once that wore off, I was excited. I would go shopping with my mum to baby departments, buying books and looking at prams.'

But a few weeks ago, all normality ended. Social services suddenly became involved when Fran phoned the police after what she describes as a 'disturbing incident' with her partner. Fran's relationship with him ended immediately.

'The case was referred to social services and I was interviewed by two social workers, who said from the beginning that they would have to look at the whole family, not just one person in isolation,' says Fran.

'At that first meeting, they asked about my concerns regarding the baby's father, but then it became clear through their questions that their investigation was centred on me. I have never made a secret of my mental health problems. I felt I had nothing to hide.'

Fran was co- operative, she says, because she naively thought children's services would offer her help and support. She was stunned when she received a letter informing her that a child protection case conference would be held on August 16.

'That's when I became frightened and thought for the first time: "Are they going to take my baby away from me?"

'I couldn't believe how everything had happened so quickly. When you are up against a big system such as social services, it is very easy to feel overrun and overwhelmed.'

Realising the seriousness of the situation, Fran instructed a solicitor and contacted her former psychiatrist, Dr Stella Newrith, who offered her full support.

A second psychiatrist, who Fran knew through her charity work, offered a character reference stating: 'I have no doubt that her diligence and capacity, particularly in dealing with complex emotional situations, will stand her in good stead for the rigours of parenthood.'

Yet these testimonials, Fran says, were never even read out at the conference after Dr Ward Platt's letter was produced.

Northumberland Council insists that two highly experienced doctors - another consultant paediatrician and a medical consultant - attended the case conference.

Neither they, nor anyone else present - including Fran solicitor - made any objection. Feeling stunned and intimidated by what she had heard, she felt unable to speak out.

Everything she wanted to say will now be heard - with the help of a new solicitor who specialises in such cases - at appeal.

According to MP John Hemming, Fran should win her case; but there is no guarantee that she will. Both he and Fran are particularly concerned that last week social workers contacted the psychiatrist who provided a character reference for Fran. They believe this was done with the intention of 'pressurising' the witness into withdrawing his support, and undermining Fran's appeal.

It was seemingly suggested by a social worker to the doctor in question that Fran had given incorrect details about her health to hospital staff: in short, doubt was cast on the reality of an ectopic pregnancy Fran suffered on Christmas Eve two years ago.

'Is it ethical for social workers to go behind my back and speak to my witnesses, discussing my private confidential medical history and suggesting to them that I might have made things up?' says Fran.

'I did have an ectopic pregnancy, and I have the scars to prove that I had abdominal surgery.' Mr Hemming goes further, describing such behaviour as akin to witness nobbling. He also claims it is not uncommon for social workers to pressurise witnesses - a punishable practice in the criminal courts.

'There is a culture in which the end is seen to justify the means, and sometimes the means employed would not be tolerated in any other court of law,' he says. 'Yet if anyone tries to speak out, they are guilty of contempt of court. The whole family court system, because of the secrecy which surrounds it, is vulnerable to bad practice. Social workers are under pressure not to lose cases.' Northumberland Council, while legally prevented from speaking about individual cases, insists there is nothing sinister in their actions.

A spokeswoman said it was the court which would make the ultimate decision, after hearing legal representation from both sides. 'Safeguarding children is our top priority,' said a spokeswoman. 'We speak to all sides without bias or pressure. 'We would welcome a review of the family court arrangements, and support transparency, as long as this is in the best interests of the children.

'Safeguarding arrangements have been praised as good following a rigorous inspection by a number of Government departments. It was specifically noted that "good action was taken to enable parents to keep their children safe in the home and the community. Our duty to safeguard children is our only motivation, and we strive to keep children with their families wherever possible, or extended families if that is not possible.

'We do not have numerical targets for adoption; nor have we received any financial rewards in relation to adoption figures.'

As for Fran, the final four months of her pregnancy are filled with stress and uncertainty, and the nagging terror that her worst nightmare will become a reality and her baby daughter will be snatched away from her. 'Some days I feel positive,' she says quietly.

'But others I feel totally overwhelmed. All I am asking for is a chance to prove that I will be a good mother.'

Sadly, that wish may not be granted her.


Now I was diagnosed as BPD a few years ago, not by my therapist who believes that I only have severe PTSD whose symptoms mimic those of BPD, but by a psychiatrist I had to see in order to get meds. Now in my disability file held by the government I will always be labeled as BPD. (Thanks, doc.) As Fran's case shows, this can be very dangerous. Now I do not plan on having children, but my friends not only trust me with their children, but encourage us to spend a lot of time together (mostly b/c I seem to be everyone's favourite crazy auntie). The thought that because I have been diagnosed with BPD that I should be a danger to children is ridiculous. BPD is characterised by self-harm, not with harming others. I wish I could express more of how I feel about this situation, but I am just too overwhelmed with disgust and anger to be eloquent.

In the News:
Journal Live article
Telegraph article
Sky News article

From the blogosphere:
The Roadkill Diaries' Tony Blair's Britain
Writhe Safely's How Psychiatry Blames the Victim
Uncool's Fran Lyon (also a hat tip to Lina for making me aware of the situation)
The Trouble with Spikol's Horrifying Violation of Human Rights
*NEW* S511's Link Roundup

I will be updating this as more blogs and news items appear, and I will have another blog when the court decision is made. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm not holding my breath since society seems to think that anyone diagnosed with a mental health disorder is less then human.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Asshole of the day

In response to this post which was talking about my condescending Limits prof.

The shit you are doing is beyond simple. Stop being a pussy and quit blaming everyone for your sub-par mathematical skills. Your professor has nothing against you, he just thinks you're a fucking moron and would have probably said that to anyone that cannot understand the basics of calculus at such a level.

-Gottfried Leibniz


So me acing the next quiz must be further proof of my idiocy. So the fact that he's only condescending to female students, even the only person to get an A in our class, is not important since he so obviously would be condescending to any student, not just the women.

The fact that I maintain an A/B average in Mathematics and Physics is just because I'm lucky a good guesser because my puny mind just can't comprehend anything and I should just give up now and get a job at McDonalds, because only people with subpar math skills would get A's and B's.

How dare I get pissed at a sexist condescending asshole? Why don't I just take it like a man? Mmmmm, yeah. I don't think anyone should be treated like that, even if they are an idiot.

Edited to add: I posted this not just because I was pissed and wanted to see the bullshit some people write me (though their comments are usually unpublished), but also because it's people like this who make me want to work harder and 'show them.' Look out for me!

Computers don't like drool

Think you're into science?

Check out these people.

Here's a taste:

(don't worry if you don't know what the last symbol is. It's actually the Hebrew character Beth)

One day I will join them, since I have plans for 2 small science designs of my own. I really want to get an Ohm* tattooed above my heart since all my life has been dedicated to resistance of the status quo (activism) and the Ohm is the symbol of resistance in physics. So everyone will know that resistance is close to my heart. And for some reason I really want an infinity symbol on my right inside wrist. Smaller then the Ohm, of course.

*capital Omega in the Greek alphabet.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Evangelicals are going to eat me

Now I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm not anti-religion. I have read holy books from most major religions and studied others. The basic tenants are good, but it is impossible these days for many people to seperate the politics from the religion. I was raised strict Roman Catholic and I was an atheist at age 10, partially because I couldn't understand the conflicting depictions of God (on one had he is all-loving and all-forgiving and on the other he's vengeful and spiteful) and how people who would go to church week after week and then throw out all the things Jesus preached once they left. Hypocricy does not sit well with me, nor did it as I was a kid. While I am now currently agnostic, I believe that religion can be a positive influence on peoples lives. I do not think that everyone can live in the existentialist way that I use and the religion can teach them to be moral people. Sometimes people need fear or guilt to make them moral (evidence to this can be seen all over the news) and whatever can do that is good in my eyes. Now if only people would follow that in their daily lives.

And then I watch things like Jesus Camp.

This movie is going to give me nightmares, I just know it. The youth ministers and the kids themselves (most under the age of 10) talk about creating and being in God's Army. I learned that 75% of children that are homeschooled in the US are evangelical Christians. They are taught that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that science is just a belief, that there is no way that science can prove anything* and that things that have become commonly accepted as fact are bullshit. (I used to think Catholics were the crazy ones, but at least they believe in the big bang and that evolution is compatible with the Christian faith. Which is one of the things that still confuses me to this day. It started when I was a kid, and if you listen to Genesis who says that God's days had to be 24 hour periods? It's God ffs. S/He can do whatever the hell s/he wants and who says a day in the bible does not equal millions upon millions of years?) How will these children do in college without the basic knowledge all children learn. Now I'm a big fan of homeschooling b/c I know some very brilliant people who came out of it and learned at a very accelerated rate, learning much more then they ever would have at public school. (Has to do with the multi-age classes, etc.) It's the same problem I have with Amish kids only being taught through 8th grade, because any more learning makes them 'too proud.' Then what real choice do they get when they go on Rumspriga (sp?)? They don't have the education to go out into the real world and many people never try (or know that it's available) to learn at a higher level, so they go back to what they know. I don't mind people going back to their religion, or choose a religion, but I think they should be given a true choice. Give them a chance to think about what they are doing and understand that this is what they truly want and believe.

OK, now I've read the Bible and nowhere in it does Jesus preach intolerance, hate, war, or persecution. Then the woman pastor tells people that if Harry Potter is an enemy of god and if he had been alive while Jesus was alive then he would have been killed for being a warlock. Say what? It's fiction, people AND Jesus would have been tolerant and forgiving. Witchcraft is nothing like in the books, but that's another story. (I spent a few years experimenting with witchcraft/paganism. But it all came down to the fact, and this is really what pulled me in, is that nature is a higher power. It is everywhere, it is everything. It is a powerful force to be respected and honoured. I went back to being atheist, because in my own ways I honour nature and the universe around us by fighting for our environment constantly. Which is one thing that the Evangelicals seem to miss b/c they think they can use all our resources now b/c Jesus is coming soon.)

These children are being brainwashed. The whole reason I became agnostic is because my parents taught us kids to think for ourselves, to question everything and not to follow blindly. They're getting indoctrinated at home (which is also their school for most the kids in the video) and at churches that tell them they must be Evangelical Christians to be saved. I had a problem with being confirmed when I was 12 because I felt that that did not fully reflect what confirmation was supposed to be. It is supposed to be a personal decision to say yes, I accept Catholicism as my religion. It's supposed to be a choice made when you have the ability to do it for yourself, not because your family wants you to. 43% of Evangelicals are 'born-again' before the age of 13. They are not given time to make a decision for themselves.

OK, 'take back America for Christ?' Where does this Christian persecution complex come from? Last I looked the US was predominantly Christian. And look at our government. So incredibly Christian. The only non-protestant to ever be elected was JFK who was, *gasp*, Catholic. There's a war on? Between who? The evangelicals on one side and the evangelicals on another? The 'true christians' (evangelicals) and all of us who are going to hell even if we are moral people?

Another annoying thing is the fact that whatever they do, they do because God is doing it. How is god sanctioning people who kill abortion providers? How is god sanctioning the idea of hate and believing that people of other faiths are all going to hell? How the hell can they bless President Bush when he has done so many unChristian things, like attack a country for oil which results in the death of so many lives, some of them Christian? "This means war!" That is what the lead minister was yelling at the congregation of children. War? Jesus was no fan and I will never EVER be ok with a religion that preaches war in any form. Also it teaches these poor kids to not take responsibility for their actions. Whatever they do is what god wants. How many needless deaths have occured because of this very belief that they can do no wrong because it's 'God's will.' The man who killed Dr. Slepian thought he was doing God's will. That's very VERY unChristian. And immoral.

Speaking of abortion, how much does a 4 year old know about the complex matter of abortion? Well at this camp they learn a bullshit version of what one side believes is the truth. I'm sorry, but basic medical fact is that a baby is not fully formed at a couple of weeks. They're teaching them lies, and these kids have little to no oppurtunity to learn the truth before they make up their minds. Again, I call this brainwashing. (It is also not uncommon for anti-abortion activists to get abortions and think that there is some special exemption for them. Ask your local abortion provider if you don't believe me.)

OK, now I'm off to have nightmares about being killed for being 'an enemy of God.' Also I have to be up for Greek Orthodox mass tommorrow morning. I've always wanted to check it out (I like going to different religious services barring a few crazy ones.) and I thought tommorrow would be good b/c after mass the annual Greek fest is happening. Woo Woo. Next week I'm going to check out the local Quakers. I love the Friend's Center in Philadelphia, afterall they were the 'pro-choice cheerleaders' at the 2000 RNC in Philly. I wonder if they are one of the more radical/liberal sects. Well I'll find out next week.

Also, Christian Heavy Metal? Isn't that an oxymoron?

*While we can't conclusively prove anything, the rigorous scientific process will either prove or disprove theories pretty well. What these people don't understand is that any theory that is posed goes through a long period of others trying to disprove the theory. Theories are not adopted lightly, nor should they be. My math and science profs always told me that when I write something I have to also look at it through the eyes of someone who hates me or vehemently disagrees with me to see where my arguement is weak to make it stronger, because if they can people will disprove what I have to say.

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