Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gif of the Day

Godfrey Goa covered in puppies.

The Science March in Seattle Was Racist

That's right I said it! Lol hold on unbunch your underwear and read on.

Like many communities, the science community overall as well as the skeptic community have has serious issues with privilege. They're dominated by cishet white men and tend to put out the message that the only things that matter are facts and evidence and numbers and such, ignoring lived experience and the importance of emotion (perhaps with the exception of the psychology community but still, lots of problems there). Anything that can't be quantified is looked on with suspicion and less importance is placed upon combating underlying prejudices within the community.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of science. If I had to choose one issue that is the most important in the world, it would be climate change, because every year it becomes more disastrous. Climate change-related devastation is already here, it's just affecting poor people of color first so everyone who's not one or more of those things doesn't much care. Anyway.

There are multiple reasons I didn't go to the March for Science in Seattle. One was that a family member needed my help that day. Another was that I'd gotten pretty drunk the night before. Another was that I was generally tired from doing a lot of crap this month. Another was that the weekend before I'd been disappointed by the Tax March and didn't expect better from this march because I knew it was going to be run by privileged people. And I was not wrong.

According to the Block the Bunker Facebook group (who have now moved on to the new youth jail issue but the page is still operating), the people in charge of the Seattle March for Science refused to even meet with them, and when a representative attempted to speak at the rally about the new youth jail anyway, they got the police to remove said representative, literally carrying him off the stage by the arms and legs.

The statement put out by Block the Bunker says that it wasn't just them, but multiple grassroots organizations led by people of color were ignored "told they weren't welcome" by the March for Science leadership who "refused to allow grassroots social justice organizers into the room." That's fucked up.

If they thought that the March for Science had nothing to do with racial issues, that is a function of white supremacy. And they are pretty ignorant about science. Or at least any science that isn't all about us white people.

Don't take my word for it. Read the full statement by Block the Bunker here. If you're a part of the scientific community in any way and you're white, think about how you can work to deconstruct white supremacy within that community. Because it's a serious problem.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gif of the Day

I miss the N64. Honestly it was the best video game system ever.

Recommended Reading

Other than the fact that I must prefer "exploited country" to "developing country," this article on the economic separation of classes in the U.S. is fantastic.

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

This piece argues that the problem is going beyond a shrinking or death of the middle class, but that the U.S. is becoming like two different countries. In fact, it's looking more and more like those "developing" nations that have a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor and nothing in between. Hunger Games, anyone?

The two sectors, notes Temin, have entirely distinct financial systems, residential situations, and educational opportunities. Quite different things happen when they get sick, or when they interact with the law. They move independently of each other. Only one path exists by which the citizens of the low-wage country can enter the affluent one, and that path is fraught with obstacles. Most have no way out.

Peter Temin, the economist cited, draws on the model created by West Indian economist and Nobel Prize winner W. Arthur Lewis. It also does a nice job of citing the roles of racist and sexism in the creation and preservation of this massive gap in wealth that's creating a truly divided nation. This is referred to as a "dual economy," and the author of the article, Lynn Parramore, checks off the list created by Lewis.

In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration - check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.

After explaining how this bullshit happened (thanks a lot Nixon), Parramore ends by noting that this system leaves the nation vulnerable to massive social upheaval if the effects aren't reversed. And by the looks of things, they're not about to be reversed any time soon. Prepare for revolution.

Identity Politics

I don't know that I've actually addressed the term "identity politics" on this blog other than maybe to mention that a lot of racists use it as the new "political correctness." But it's not just your random Republicans or Libertarians or other conservative racists. I've seen people who are, or at least appear to be, on the left using the term or its acronym "IDPOL." Alarmingly, the acronym in particular is often used by neo-nazis. So it raises all two of my eyebrows to see antifa using it as well.

But the point I want to make here is that anyone using the term "identity politics" derisively is ridiculous. Just as much as politics is central to each and every person's life, so is identity.

People begin forming a sense of identity at a very young age, and it remains with us through our entire life. A sense of identity will change, often gradually, sometimes suddenly and radically. A sense of identity is closely linked to a sense of self, and in our society, maybe too closely. It is how we describe ourselves and think of ourselves. The support of one's identity is uplifting, and the denial or rejection of one's identity can be devastating. A threat to one's identity can feel like a threat to the very self.

That is why people freak out so hard over having their "faves" criticized. You identify yourself as a fan of a thing, and when someone calls that thing bad, or perhaps misogynistic or homophobic, it's like they're call you those things. This, of course, is a problem. People cling to these identities too tightly, and it makes them scared and fragile and inflexible.

But that doesn't make identity bad. It doesn't mean that people's identities aren't important. They make us human. They bring us together. And we can't help but have them.

When I accepted the identity as pansexual and came out, it was freeing. It wasn't easy, particularly because I came out late and there's a lot of people out there who want to deny that identity. I still have doubts about whether I actually am pansexual that are based on heteronormative and homophobic bullshit that's been put into my head by society. But when I think about being pansexual, I feel a sense of joy. It feels right and it feels wonderful. And being a part of a community that understands me and accepts my identity is wonderful.

My identity as a woman is important to me. My identity as a feminist is important to me. The identities that give me privilege matter. And yes, they're all political. That is perfectly normal and mocking that is like derisively scoffing about "skin politics" or "hormone cycle politics" or "breathing oxygen politics."

Whether you're just trying to get people to shut up about racism or you think the shit you're doing is so much more fucking important than people who care about the many everyday attacks on marginalized identities, you're ridiculous and you're an asshole. It all matters. It's a huge part of every person's life. No one is without identity and one's sense of identity is very closely linked to one's psychological health. Denial of identities, attacks on identities, whether big or small, kill people. Whether though stress or even suicide.

And honestly it just makes you look like a self-righteous, sanctimonious asshole. So stop.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gif of the Day


How is This Helping

Spoiler alert: The thing I'm about to talk about is not helping.

Donald Trump has 'dangerous mental illness', say psychiatry experts at Yale conference

This again? Look. It didn't help before the man was elected, it didn't help before he was sworn in, and it's not going to help now. Lord Dampnut isn't going to be removed from office on the basis of his mental health. The Republicans are in power, and they don't even fucking believe in mental health. And even if they did, they don't give a fuck. All they care about is how they can manipulate the situation to get more money and power.

In the meantime, shit like this only hurts mentally ill people. How much do you think it hurts people who actually deal with paranoia and delusions to be compared to this nuclear disaster of a human being? I know a lot of mentally ill people and they are generally nicer and better people than those who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness, and certainly better than the people who don't even believe in psychology who are also currently running the country.

Here's the thing. The world of psychology is still quite messy and full of privilege and abuse. These psychiatry experts are extremely likely to be a group of well-off white dudes who have never been mentally ill themselves. The people who get to make decisions on what mental illness even is/looks like have a lot of privilege, and their decisions invariably have a negative affect on those without much privilege.

I'm not saying that Dampnut isn't dangerous. Of course he's dangerous. But you don't need to be mentally ill to be dangerous. And I'll admit to myself wondering whether he is actually mentally ill or if he's just intentionally gaslighting all of us, confusing and pissing off and throwing off his detractors with his constant, blatant lies because he knows it's going to make us run around in circles screaming rather than doing anything very useful. But at this point it doesn't matter which it is. What does matter is that he's hurting people, and this kind of speculation is hurting people. STOP FUCKING HURTING PEOPLE.

This is about more than armchair diagnosing. There's a whole lot more wrong with our current system of mental illness diagnostics than just psychiatrists diagnosing people without actually having them sit down in a chair in a room and listening to them talk in that setting rather than in front of lots of people at a podium. This is about the fact that people with mental illness are constantly being stigmatized by assholes going "look at this person who is hurting people! They must be mentally ill!"

My mental illness has made me significantly less likely to cause people harm. My anxiety makes me afraid to even stand up to people face-to-face. My mental illness harms me, it doesn't make me harm other people. I have harmed other people before, but that was usually do to some form of ignorance. I don't know what's the excuse of these psychiatrists, because they should not be ignorant about this. Yet there they are, the supposed experts on mental illness and how not to be mentally ill, hurting potentially millions of mentally ill people. Fuck you guys.


This is a prime candidate for headline of the month but I made the mistake of designating one on the 3rd but here:

Republican senator's 'private' town hall meeting gets crashed by mariachi band

Three organizations – including two focusing on Latino issues – were behind the musical interruption. Tuesday night, they paid $250 to register as Chamber members and brought six members of a mariachi band from Mexico City to play a “love song” and demand Gardner hold a public forum, said Hilda Nucete, a program director of Denver-based Conservation Colorado. 
“It was a gift,” Nucete said, referring to the Spanish song “Where Are You, My Heart?” The song, she said, is about “when the guy really messes up and you’re trying to get back the girl, so we’re trying to get (Gardner) to fall in love with us again.”

There are different ways to fight the power. Some people march. Some people organize. Some people write. Some people show up at your sneaky ass accountability-avoiding non-town hall meetings and go MI CORAZÓN ESTA ENCLAVADO EN EL MISMO OESTE, DEJAR MI CORAZÓN POR EL OESTE Y SU FUTURO ES LO QUE QUIERO.

Well done, Hilda Nucete.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gif of the Day

I've been finding a lot of very strange gifs lately, without context.

The Continuing Ridiculousness of US Pot Policy

In honor of 4/20, because why not, I want to talk about a bit of news that came out last month that enraged me, but not as much as much as all the fuckery going on in D.C., so, you know.

But it is worth a blog post. If you're the kind of person who reads my blog, you're probably aware of the basic reasons why cannabis being illegal is completely ridiculous. But that only really scratches the surface of the ridiculousness that is the U.S. policy on cannabis. The fact that it's classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA puts it on par with heroin in terms of potential for addiction, potential for overdose, and means it's supposed to have zero potential medical use. Recently, the DEA finally reviewed this, and decided to keep cannabis at Schedule I, despite it being not physically addictive, having zero potential for overdose, and currently being legally used in half the states in the country for medical purposes.

WHY?????? You might ask. Money.

But don't just take my word for it.

DEA OKs synthetic marijuana for pharma company that spent $500,000 to keep pot illegal

There could not be better evidence than this that the pharmaceutical industry is fighting to keep cannabis illegal because it threatens their bottom line. Cannabis is relatively cheap to grow and people can easily do it themselves - it's a fucking weed. Hence the name. And it helps with so many medical conditions that pharmaceutical companies make billions off of by prescribing increasingly expensive medications, all of which cause side effects and may damage the body in ways that cannabis could never.

But making synthetic cannabis, which has been classified as a Schedule II substance (meaning it's "safer" than real cannabis) and approving it for use to treat illness is a whole new level of fucked up. Want to know why?

Because synthetic weed will fucking kill you. Syndros will kill you. People have been dying from overdosing on synthetic cannabis for years already because people think it's like real weed and assume you can't overdose on it. But you can, and you will die horribly.

So the DEA maintains that cannabis is so dangerous that it's illegal to use it for any purpose and then approves the use of an actual dangerous drug to "treat" illness. And now more people will die. The DEA and pharmaceutical companies are murderers who should all be set adrift on the Pacific Ocean.

Oh, and this bullshit is brought to you by InSys Therapeutics, the company responsible for fentanyl, the most potent opioid on the planet, which is currently causing mass deaths due to it being added to batches of heroin and leading to huge spikes in overdose cases. Well fucking done, America.

Maybe Don't Arrest Autistic 10-Year-Olds for Resisting Abuse


At what point in the U.S. are we finally going to collectively say "the police are out of control and maybe we should not have a profession available that attracted power-hungry abusers and gives them guns and authority"?

‘I don’t like to be touched’: Video shows 10-year-old autistic boy getting arrested at school

A school resource officer at Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida stood over the 10-year-old boy as his mother asked: “Does he have the same rights as an adult?” Then, the officer reached for the young boy’s wrists. 
“I don’t want to be touched,” John Benjamin said, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t like to be touched.” 
His mother, Luanne Haygood, who was filming the emotional scene, said she and her son had been called into the school for state standardizing testing April 12; while they were there, she said, officers arrested her son for an incident that occurred in October. 
He spent the night behind bars at a juvenile facility, Haygood said. 
Haygood said John Benjamin, who has been diagnosed with autism, had kicked and scratched his paraprofessional educator (also known as an educational assistant) and, unknown to his own family, had an outstanding warrant for battery on a school board employee, a third-degree felony.


Anyone who knows anything about autism can probably tell you that autistic people are often touch repulsed - they have strong negative emotional reactions to being touched. The problem with our society is that so few people actually have any actual knowledge about autism. Even, apparently special educators assigned to autistic kids within specialized programs for kids with disabilities/autism. Or maybe they do have knowledge, but are also abusive shits.

Haygood, from Okeechobee, Fla., said her son, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has had an individualized education plan (IEP) since he started school and was assigned a paraprofessional educator last year. But, Haygood said, he had been having issues with his aide, claiming he was hurting him, and the school would not assign a new one. 
On Oct. 27, the educator reported, John Benjamin was being disruptive in class, “throwing paper balls around the classroom and hitting other students,” according to a probable cause affidavit. 
“When John Benjamin was asked to go to timeout he refused,” according to the court records. The educator “attempted to remove the student and sent him back to the timeout place. At this point, John Benjamin started kicking and scratching and punching” him. 
The educator “had to restrain the student, he advised he came around the student and wrapped his arms around the upper chest as to not restrict child’s breathing,” according to the documents.

So you grab a touch-repulsed autistic kid, are surprised when be starts flailing, and you respond by touching him even more and then charge him with a fucking felony.

What the fuck happened to us as a society that we're charging any 10-year-old kids with felonies. Children throw tantrums. Like, you'd be pressed to find a kid who hasn't. But unless they're a danger to themselves or others, you don't need to restrain them like that. And if you're a paraeducator assigned to an autistic kid, you should know that attempting to do so only makes the situation worse.

And if the kid was acting out, maybe it's because he didn't like his paraeducator because they were hurting him. But we never believe kids, and certainly not autistic kids. We tell them to report abuse but when they do we ignore them. Awesome.

This was probably highly traumatizing for this child. I feel so terrible and angry for him. Okeechobee Achievement Academy needs to answer for this.