May. 1st, 2016

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Mental Illness, Disability, Language: The Forks Model of Disability at Thing of Things

The spoons model is an excellent model. However, in thinking about my own mental illness, I have discovered that it is, in fact, the exact opposite of how my mental illness works. Therefore, I have decided to coin the forks model.

(Look, I was not the one who decided that all our emotional energy metaphors needed to be utensil-based.)

Forks work somewhat like spoons, in that you have to pay varying amounts for tasks. However, unlike spoons, forks don’t replenish gradually over time. Instead, you get forks when you finish particular tasks. For instance, socializing might cost you ten forks and give you twelve, showering might cost you three and give you ten, and eating might cost you one and give you twenty. (Eating is important.)

In my own case, I’ve found that the more I do something, the easier it is for me to do it. When I haven’t written for a week, if I try to write, I wind up staring at my word processor and occasionally typing “the” and then slowly backspacing it. On the other hand, I have, several times in my life, written more than ten thousand words in a single day.

...

Unfortunately, some people– like me– are, for whatever reason, stuck with chronically low forks. Chronically low forks leaves you in one of the most perverse situations ever: when you know that if you did a particular thing, you would be happier and more able to do things, but you don’t have enough forks now to do the thing. (Unlike spoons, you cannot borrow forks from future selves.) If I worked on my homework, after like fifteen minutes I would feel like I could take on the world, but right now all I have the energy to do is browse Tumblr. If I ate, I would totally be able to cook an awesome meal, but right now I’m too hungry to cook.


The writing example rings particularly true for me. It's why I try to write daily, even though I know daily writing goals can stymie other authors. (Including my cowriter, Sarah, who often has a bad response to setting writing goals. Somehow, we still make cowriting work.) If I sit down to write after not writing for awhile, I will maybe be able to force out 100 words. If I write daily, some days are 100-500 words, and some days are 10k+. Unfortunately, the chronically low fork part rang particularly true, too. There are many, many times when I know exactly what I need to do. I just don't have anything left to do it, no matter what I've done or what I try to do.

Racism, Transphobia, Misogyny, Violence: Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More by Morgan Collado at Autostraddle

There’s an interesting phenomenon that I’ve witnessed over the past few years. The names of trans women of color will be in the mouths of the queer community after they’ve been murdered, but support for us while we are still alive is sporadic at best. Trans women are pushed out of queer spaces by cis people, dfab genderqueers, and trans men, just to name a few. Women’s spaces are frequently hostile to us because we aren’t “real women” but trans men almost always get a free pass. And I’ve seen more than one cis queer say that trans women are “appropriating” the gay rights movement, totally ignorant of the fact that we started the damn thing. I have seen more than one cis queer say that we have nothing in common with them, that our issues are completely unrelated. We have a hard time finding dates, finding support, finding community. And when we dare to call people out for their transmisogyny, we are labeled crazy, hysterical, divisive. I have been called Austin “queer scene’s” number one enemy. All for daring to share my thoughts on the world around me.

...

Here in Austin there’s this tradition of calling the names of the dead and then having an audience member sit in a chair that represents where the dead trans woman would sit. The seats are always filled with white people and non-trans women. What do our deaths mean when our bodies, our lives, the physical space we take up, is appropriated by white folks? How can I mourn for my sisters when the space set up for that mourning is so thoroughly colonized? And how can I even see hope of living a full life when I don’t see myself reflected in what is supposed to be my community?


Horror, Racism, Violence: Eutopia: horror novel about Lovecraftian racism by Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing

Doctor Andrew Waggoner -- a Paris-educated Black American doctor -- is hospitalized by Klansman in the utopian settlement of Eliada, Idaho, where he soon encounters Jason Thistledown, the sole survivor of a plague that wiped out the town of Cracked Wheel, Montana. The two of them become unlikely allies in uncovering the mystery of "Mr Juke," a strange creature housed in the hospital's enormous quarantine.

Mr Juke is a monster, of an ancient race of parasites whose offspring incubate in the wombs of human women, and who are able to inspire religious ecstasy in the people who serve them. Mr Juke and his kind might have lived undiscovered in the back country, in grotesque symbiosis with the hill people, if not for Eliada's eugenics project, through which hill people are systematically catalogued and sterilized "to improve the race."


I don't have a copy of this yet, but soon.

Related: Horror, Racism: Don't Mention the War - Some Thoughts on H.P. Lovecraft and Race by David Nickle

Specifically, I wanted to talk about race as it pertained to H.P. Lovecraft's writings.

It seemed like the thing to do. The organizers of World Horror had found me a panel to sit on, moderated by Lovecraftian scholar, critic and anthologist S.T. Joshi, called Lovecraft's Eternal Fascination. My first novel, Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, is the only pseudo-Lovecraftian book I've written, and one of my aims with that book was to deal with Lovecraftian xenophobia from a post-Martin-Luther-King perspective--to tie Lovecraft's horrible eugenic notions together with the genuine and just as horrible eugenic fallacies that were making the rounds in early 20th century America. As Eternal Fascinations went, I thought race might rate.

When the panel started it became clear: not so much. I brought up the topic early and affably in the panel, and just a little later but also affably, Mr. Joshi shut it down with a familiar canard: Lovecraft's racism and xenophobia must be viewed in the context of Lovecraft's considerably less-enlightened time. I recall gently objecting that Lovecraft's views may have been more mainstream in the 1920s and 1930s yet were still not universal--but, not wanting to be seen as hijacking the panel, letting things go.

...

I'd make the case that Lovecraft's fiction--and Lovecraftian horror--depends on the xenophobia that was endemic to Lovecraft's work to the point that without it, many of his stories lose their unique and uniquely profound effect. "The Horror in Red Hook" is a direct channelling of Lovecraft's loathing of newcomers to New York City; the real horror of "The Call of Cthulhu" is not the octopus-headed demigod that emerges out of his underwater city to kill all the people, but the people themselves--all either eugenically unfit denizens of the bayou or "primitive" island cultures whose religious practises amount to a kind of proactive nihilism. The manifestation of Nyarlathotep in the eponymous story is that of a black man bearing trinkets, who seduces the good white folk of America into authoring their own demise.


Lovecraft's horror is such a core to the genre, but Nickle is absolutely right: we have to talk more about his racism and xenophobia. I don't care how old it is, I don't care about the "world he came from," we still tout him and his work as high level horror, the kind we as writers should try to achieve. His racism and xenophobia is a huge part of that.

I've tried my hand at Lovecraftian horror while dealing with the racism of the source. It is hard, and I've not yet managed a story that I actually think works. But I will keep writing, and I will keep educating myself.

3d Printing, Technology, Copyright, Law: Licensing Your 3D Printed Stuff: Why 3D Printed Objects Challenge Our Copyright Beliefs by Michael Weinberg at TechDirt

The past fifteen years or so have given us all a collective informal education in intellectual property law. We have been taught to assume that everything we see on our computer screen is protected by intellectual property law (usually copyright), and that copying those things without permission can often result in copyright infringement (and potentially lawsuits).

By and large, this has been a reasonable rule of thumb. The things that we most often associate with our computer screens – those are the music, movies, software, photos, articles, and whatnot – happen to also be the types of things that are protectable by copyrights. As copyright automatically protects things that are categorically eligible for protection, it is safe to begin from the assumption that the music, movies, software, photos, articles, and whatnot made in the last century that you find online are actively protected by copyright.

This easy assumption becomes less reasonable in the context of 3D printing. Many of the objects coming out of a 3D printer are simply not eligible for copyright protection. As “functional” objects, they are beyond copyright’s scope. They may be protectable by patent, but because patent protection is not automatic, many of these objects will simply not be protected by intellectual property at all. The idea that something is entirely unprotected by copyright or patent would have felt perfectly natural 30 years ago, but can feel deeply disorienting today.

Furthermore, unlike those music, movies, software, photos, articles, and whatnot, we often have to treat a physical object and the digital file that represents that object differently in the context of 3D printing and intellectual property. Although we do not often draw the distinction between a song and an .mp3 file, there are many situations where we are called on to conceive of an object and its digital file as fundamentally different intellectual property entities.


I'm not sure how much I agree with the first paragraph, because what I've seen more is that instead of receiving an informal education about IP law and how things are protected, people really have taken away that if it is available freely on the internet (here I mean "freely" both as "free" and as "easily accessible" though not necessarily both), that means it can be used by anyone for any reason, because no one wants to believe they can't use something. (Tech law means often telling people no, you can't use that, I don't care how many other people are doing so.) Still, this is really interesting, especially as 3D printing becomes so widely available. (My youngest brother, T, has been creating amazing things with his 3D printer. I am intrigued as an artist, and a tech lover, and a lawyer.)

Poverty, Racism, Classism: Poverty is Not a Crime, So Stop Trying to Punish Poor People by Altheria Gaston at ForHarriet

(Note: Keep in mind this piece is more than a year old RE the proposed legislation mentioned in it.)

Whether we utilize government assistance or not, we need to push back against the policing of women of color. These restrictions are classist, sexist, and racist and preserve a broken social, political, and economic system that leave women of color on the bottom layer of stratification in a society built on the ideals of freedom and equality. I find it ironic that the same groups advocating for freedom from restrictions for wealthy business owners are seeking to regulate the poor. This is an issue of power and privilege, not misuse and abuse.

It is my hope that my research will illuminate the reality of the conditions in which these women find themselves. Perhaps this and similar scholarship can be used to inform future legislation that improves the plight of the poor.


Menstruation, Taboos, India, TED: A taboo-free way to talk about periods by Aditi Gupta (video)

It's true: talking about menstruation makes many people uncomfortable. And that taboo has consequences: in India, three out of every 10 girls don't even know what menstruation is at the time of their first period, and restrictive customs related to periods inflict psychological damage on young girls. Growing up with this taboo herself, Aditi Gupta knew she wanted to help girls, parents and teachers talk about periods comfortably and without shame. She shares how she did it.


Queer, Language: 5 Reasons LGBT People Should Stop Saying We Were "Born This Way" by Cassie Sheets at Pride

1) We don’t have to justify our sexual orientation or gender identity.

Many of us (myself included) have used the “we were born this way,” defense whenever we hear someone attacking LGBT rights. But if someone is attacking LGBT rights, or trying to say LGBT people are unnatural in some way, that defense isn’t going to change their mind. We’re here. We exist. We’re people who deserve basic human rights and respect. Whether our sexual orientation and gender identities are products of genetics, environments, or choices, we still deserve basic human rights and respect.


Prince, Disability: Whether Or Not Prince Knew It, He Was A Disability Icon To Me by Ekundayo Afolayan

My attachment to Prince grew when I found out that, like me, he also dealt with disability throughout his life. As a kid, Prince had epilepsy and as he aged, he also had hip dysplasia but, for religious reasons, he refused surgery and opted for a cane instead. I’ve personally had to deal with having seizures for almost a decade now. It is grounding for me to know that an international icon who I have always admired also has a history of dealing with a similar condition.

Visibility is really important to me; especially because positive representation of Black folks, femmes, and people with disabilities is rare. We typically aren’t seen as desirable or worthy of love. But Prince helped to inspire my self-love by exuding his confidence and being celebrated for it. I’m taking a cue from Prince. I’ve learned to be extravagant and myself not despite the seizures, but in the active acceptance of them.


Wrestling, Sexism, Chyna: Chyna Deserved Better by Malread Small Stald at Jezebel

It’s worth noting here that Chyna and Elizabeth, two women dead too young, are also the two most glaring absences in the WWE Hall of Fame. In an oft-cited interview last year, Steve Austin asked WWE Chief Operating Officer (and Chyna’s ex-boyfriend) Triple H if Chyna would ever be inducted. “Does she deserve to go into the Hall of Fame? Absolutely,” said Triple H. But he claimed the decision was complicated due to the fact that Chyna’s post-wrestling foray into amateur and then professional porn would appear when any eight-year-old might look her up on the internet.

A similar line of reasoning provides one possible explanation for Miss Elizabeth’s ongoing exclusion: overdosing isn’t kid-friendly. But that the Hall of Fame includes, in its celebrity wing alone, convicted rapist Mike Tyson and—inducted just this year—the titular director of the pornographic Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, does not seem to bother the Google-conscious COO.

The message sent from the company to its female employees is simple: you can bare your body, but only if it suits us. You can wreck your health, but only for our benefit. Steroids, CTE, injury, fatigue, degradation: fine, fine. But drugs and porn? No chance—not off the clock, anyway. Not when cameras are rolling—cameras that aren’t ours. The fact that Triple H—whose on-screen relationship with his eventual off-screen wife, Stephanie McMahon, began with forced marriage and allusions to rape—thinks a Vivid Video contract is reason enough to keep the woman he’s called “a paradigm-shifter” and “phenomenal talent” from the recognition she deserves is laughable.

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