Monday, January 29, 2007


Childhood Obesity Campaign Launched

Shouldn't it be "anti-obesity"? To me, an obesity campaign sounds sort of like it's pro-obesity.

I'm wondering also, since care givers in the US can be judged negligent or abusive for malnourishing a child to the point of starvation, can severe childhood malnutrition in general (and including malnutrition which leads to childhood obesity and early onset of diet/exercise related diseases) be seen as a form of neglect or abuse? Can it be and should it be? Is it equitable, socio-economically, to frame abuse and neglect definitions so underweight children will be seen as a sign of possible abuse/neglect but children who already have signs of type two diabetes, and whose parents won't adjust the family's or child's diet or lifestyle have no such association? I had a friend whose daughter was in joint custody. Step mom and dad fed the family shit. Mom was into organic foods and home cooking. Moreover, mom included her daughter in meal planning and preparation. Dad and step mom made 100% parent based decisions about what the entire family would eat at mealtime.

The kid was overweight, I wouldn't have said severely but she was overweight. Moreover the kid was aware of this and distraught. See, she was right at the edge of this whole "fat kid" trend (perspective or reality) in the US and she was getting noise from all sides. Surprisingly not silent was stepmom, who told her repeatedly she was fat and needed to lose weight. Then she'd serve up some McDonalds.

So is that abuse?

According to the state of Connecticut, abuse is "a non-accidental injury to a child which, regardless of motive, is inflicted or allowed to be inflicted by the person responsible for the child's care" and includes "any injury which is at variance with the history given" and "maltreatment such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment."

And neglect is "the failure, whether intentional or not, of the person responsible for the child's care to provide and maintain adequate food, clothing, medical care, supervision, and/or education."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Entertain me

I've been having bad luck with movies lately. My netflix cue has hit a dry spell and I'm looking for suggestions.

I did go to the bookstore today, student loan check burning a hole in my pocket....ok not quite. I was good, I bought discount books. I've considered checking out the local library, no pun intended. But until then it was the bookstore or bust. I picked up a Christopher Moore book and "I Like You - Hospitality Under the Influence" by Amy Sedaris. The Sedaris book is chock full of helpful entertaining tips like this one under "Children's games"
"Note: If for any reason a child's clothing catches fire, prevent the child from running because this adds oxygen, causing him to burn more quickly. Roll the smoldering child on the ground or in a rug. If a youngster breaks through the ice, have him kick his feet and wriggle to a solid surface. Kerosene is an accelerant: try not to mix it with an open flame unless an escape route is cleared. Stay in single file. Don't scratch and never put that in your mouth. The eyes are the most vulnerable part of the wolf. When cornered, jab something pointy into this area."

The pictures are great, especially for anyone familiar with 1960s cooking/food "art".

Now I must return to my outline for the most boring lecture imaginable - The Syllabus and... (where "and..." is anything we're lucky enough to cover after we finish dissecting the syllabus). I always start out with the intention to be minimal, to not read them my syllabus because wow it's so damned boring. But then while I'm deciding which parts I need to underscore by going over them in class, I recall problems which occured during past semesters, problems which felt like they maybe could have been avoided if I'd gone over that part of my syllabus in more detail. The next thing you know I have schematics up on powerpoint slides and pie charts of the grading rubric. I realize this is excessive and I'm finding myself quickly tiring of it so no doubt I will soon settle on the middle of the road, then skip about half of that when I'm actually presenting it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sesame Street personality quiz

You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you live your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I taught today. First time this semester. I'm back to the intro labs, since they are less prep work and less grading than the other teaching assignments available. I got two labs back to back and I'm very pleased about that. I even managed to not have them in the morning. Extra pleased.

But life has a funny way of fucking with you sometimes.

My second lab has a rather large number of men. In fact, it has 17 men. There are only 21 students in the lab. There were 22, but one of them realized about 20 minutes in that she was in the wrong lab. Leaving me with a lab that is 80% guys. And not just any guys. It looks like I am teaching a fucking rugby team or something.

update 6:26 PM
I realize that it is very unPC of me to express any consternation based on the gender breakdown of my students. Although do keep in mind that nearly every frigging example we are given to use with the students lists gender as a variable. How's that for teaching people not to discriminate? Anyhow, relative to this here situation, I recognize fully that my concern is something I need to try to leave out of the classroom. Therefore this semester presents me with an opportunity to challenge my teaching skills, since in my outside life I have problems with big groups of guys. Big problems. I've left restaurants before because a group of noisy young-ish or at least youthful acting men have arrived. It seems my brain is completely unable to tune them out, and tuning them in often makes me feel inexplicably jumpy, angry, and distracted. A loud shout at a TV or a uproar of male laughter is more than I can bear sometimes. It is not consciously mediated, although I do get into all sorts of reasoning about the reaction after it has begun. And so me with that in a roomful of men exactly at the age where being boysterous is so very prized. That is what I mean about life fucking with me, and navigating that will be my challenge for the semester.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging for choice

Just under the wire! And not very edited so pardon the typos and possibly not most well connected thoughts...and grammatical superlatives. Credit is due to my sister A___ who has spent countless (literally) hours talking with me about this and related issues. Specifically, she is the one who introduced me to the notion of emotional/societal cannibalism (for lack of a better not ambiguous term) and women's roles as consumable goods.
"If moon were cookie..."

Blog for choice day, it’s the anniversary of Roe V Wade, one of the landmark decisions in establishing a woman’s right to an abortion. The topic of this year’s blog for choice is to say why you are pro-choice.

When I was 17, I began working part time as a unit secretary in a hospital near Boston. It was a small hospital in an affluent town with a teaching affiliation with Tufts University’s medical school. My unit was the surgical unit, inpatient, back in the days before drive by surgery was the standard. The charts were color coded, red ink on the labels for patients who were on a teaching service and black ink on the labels for patients on a private service. There was usually a fairly equal mix between teaching and nonteaching patients. The patients were also broken down by type of specialty their surgical team or doctor belonged to.

I labeled their charts and transcribed their diagnoses as they were admitted or returned from surgery. I learned words like “cholangiotomy” and “pyelonephritis”. I didn’t always know what each term specifically meant, but I could tell you what body part it referred to. Sometimes I would ask for more details, sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes it was relevant to my job and sometimes it wasn’t. I tried not to be too nosy and to get my job done.

Some words stood out. Those were the ones I transcribed a lot. “Salpingoophorectomy”, “transvaginal hysterectomy”, “total abdominal hysterectomy”, “diagnostic laparoscopy”. They were all gynecological terms. At some point, I started to wonder why we had so many gynecology patients since it was a general surgery floor. I asked the nurses. It was like I had asked “where do babies come from?” They looked at each other knowingly, a couple gave me smiles that ranged from condescension to something like regret. One of them replied “Most of the treatments, the only treatments, for gynecological problems are surgical.”

This stunned me. I mean I remember stammering out something, being totally shocked. I always thought of surgery as something that was done only if it had to be done. Only something that was done when other less invasive and risky things had failed. At that time, we had MRIs. We had CT scans. But we also had women who were being cut into because nothing had been developed to adequately image them, their parts, or their parts' pathologies without surgery. We had women who were having parts cut into, out, and off because this was the best option. It was the best option because years of medical research, since there was medical research, had largely ignored women’s health. Make a pill for erections, a pill for hypertension, a pill or new test for angina (as it presents in a man), a blood test for colon cancer. Develop new technology to view and fix clogged coronal arteries without needing to crack open someone’s chest. Do all those things because they are big health issues, and they are big health issues because, largely, men are more prone to them. Do all that, but don’t find ways to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders which quite commonly affect more than half of the human population.

This sunk in more and more over the years. I put it together with why none of my aunts could have kids. Bad endometriosis, back in the day, meant a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy meant they took everything out too because, the reasoning went, why leave it in? She can’t have babies anymore after all. Why spend money and time finding ways to treat her when it’s more efficient to just remove or cut into the offending useless part, even if cutting into her does mean putting her through the higher risk of an operation sometimes just to tell her “we couldn’t see anything (because we don’t know what we’re looking for) so we don’t know what’s wrong with you”. And when I say "sometimes" I mean lots of times. Endometriosis in particular can be difficult. It's hard to see unless the doctor is very well trained in what to look for. Many doctors overlook it. Many doctors remove it wrong and it grows back. Thus the only option is surgical (for diagnosis at least) and yet when they're in there poking around, grabbing your cervix with a clamp so they can wedge your uterus up, away, around, and over, more often than ought, they don't even know what they are looking for.

But I digress.

The only options were surgical because on some level women’s parts are considered not women’s property. My aunts’ parts, their reproductive organs, were not theirs. Their organs belonged first to the duty of making babies and second to my aunts as individuals. I know this because the physiological influence of those organs was ignored once the parts were declared useless for public use, i.e., makin’ babies.

For example, my aunt M____ got very sick after she had her hysterectomy. Her thyroid had been removed prior to the hysterectomy. When they gave her the hysterectomy, no one thought to adjust her dose of thyroid medication. The whole endocrine system is, well, a whole system. Give a woman a hysterectomy and a bilateral salpingoophorectomy and you are messing with that system. This has repercussions up the line and then back down it again…all the way down to the dose of thyroid medication you need to adjust to make sure the woman does not go into a health crisis. Not only was this not considered in advance but my aunt got sick, and sicker until finally a younger doctor realized the oversight.

Like a hysterectomy, surgical termination of a pregnancy is a medical decision. Like a hysterectomy, it is somewhat “old tech”. It’s a hold over from the days when there were no reliable, safe options for contraception. It remains because the options we have now are still not 100% effective, safe, or usable. Like a hysterectomy, terminating a pregnancy is sometimes the only option when others have failed. It is sometimes the best option given the circumstances. And like a hysterectomy, terminating a pregnancy is not a decision any reasonable person would make lightly. And yet, in the case of pregnancy termination, and even in the case of pregnancy prevention, the decision is not left to the typical manner of medical decision making.

If we as a society believe women’s parts belong to making babies, it stands to reason that unless her parts are declared insufficient for that task, she can’t opt out of that job. So unlike a hysterectomy, the choice to terminate or prevent a pregnancy is public policy. It’s ideology, it’s everyone’s concern, not just how or when you decide to regulate your reproductive affairs but even whether you should have that choice at all. We have laws prohibiting or limiting that choice, in many forms. We have laws which allow people to jump in and decide for you that you will NOT have access to the means to make these decisions or to exercise them.

How do these two apparently disparate standards mesh? Because in the case of the hysterectomy, the woman’s parts have already been determined to be of no use to society. Therefore, they are of no use to the woman, if that even enters into it. When a doctor says a woman’s woman parts are no good, it’s ok to cut into her and out of her. It’s ok to take out her uterus, her fallopian tubes, her ovaries.

The unifying attitude which underlies both apparently discrepant approaches to women’s health (promoting the “surgical option” in one case and denying it in the other) is one where women are considered only in terms of their reproductive capacity, where pretty much everything else that is attached is overlooked or relegated to a much lower priority. What can be attached can be the rest of her body, her physical and emotional well being, her autonomy, or her existence.

There is a whole other essay on why that prioritization exists. The short version is we live in a society that has grown up around a truly disgusting and inhuman role for women. It’s not as easy to pinpoint and classify as straight up misogyny, and that is the mistake too many feminists make when they try to argue this with others. The mistake being that it is easy enough for someone to argue that not all men are rapists and not all women are raped, that not all men shit on women, and that some women shit on women. All true and all only relevant if you think the only reason that women are second class citizens is simple, raw misogyny. The real cause for women’s lower class status is not that simple. The root cause is something which breeds misogyny and excuses misogyny but it is not just a hatred of women and womankind. This is apparent in that it can be seen to feed laws which exist “for our own good” and which take away our autonomy, which reduce us, keep us out, or in, or down lest we bump our pretty little heads on the glass ceilings we should be thankful are there to protect us.

The real root cause is that women are considered goods. Women’s bodies are goods. Women’s attention is goods. Women’s emotional support is goods. Women both create and are the resources which run society. A strange but ultimately appropriate analogy is that women are seens as being like trees. Cultivate us to be cut down and turned into your furniture, your paper, and your decoration. We are traded, bought, sold, co-opted, and consumed. Our reproductive capacity is just another woman byproduct, albeit a very significant one. The bigger issue though is that when it comes to this one, when push comes to shove, even your average leg shaving “not a feminist but” woman is a hell of a lot less accommodating than your average tree. Even she will expect that she can say no, she can say yes, she can say “I need to think about this”. Even she will expect that what she says and what she decides will be respected at least when it is about her and not about you or them.

I’m not anyone’s furniture. My early life was filled with discouraging moments as I realized things like “because you are female you are expected to smile all or most of the time” (because you have to look like you are enjoying being the footstool), you are expected to be consumed and you are expected to at least act like that is ok with you.

I’m a crazy optimist because despite those realizations so early on, I still believe that when push comes to shove or even to gentle nudge, I have a right I can at least fight for. I believe having personal, reasonable, sensible autonomy about my health care and my body are basic human rights, not a man’s right, not a privilege, not a special interest, not something a woman can do only if she gets a note from her doctor, her father, and her priest. And this is why I am pro-choice.

Blogging for choice coming up

Right after this petite flower goddess eats some dinner...

chore boy

My sister and I came up with a new term. It was provoked by recollection of a guy with one of those big bushy goatees. You know the kind. They are nasty and need to be distinguishable from normal not nasty goatees.

Hence, forthwith, such a nasty bushy goatee will be known as a "chore boy". It can be abbreviated to "chorbey" for a nickname, as in "Why do you call him 'chorbey'?" "Because he's got a chore boy on his chin looks like it's been scrubbin' someone's crack."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Old news

I hang onto things that look useful. This is easier now that shit is digital. Back in the day, it was news clippings, handouts from lectures, whole journals or photocopied bits of them.

I recently ran across an article I clipped from the newspaper while I was living in Ann Arbor. Hence I assume it was from the Ann Arbor News. There's no date but it was definitely between October 1993 and February 1997.

The headline was "Group seeks relabeling of contraceptives - the coaltion wants pills labeled for 'morning after' use."

It begins:
A group of organizations concerned with women's health issues wants the Food and Drug Administration to require relabeling of six brands of oral contraceptives to tell women how to use them as "morning after" pills.
The petition says six oral contraceptives sold in the United States are proven effective as emergency contraception: Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories' Ovral, Lo/Ovral, Nordette and Triphasil, and Berlex Laboratories Levlen and Tri-Leveln.
At the very end of the article is this bit of info.
Yet labels don't say how to use them as "morning after" pills: two Ovral pills no later than 72 hours after intercourse and two more 12 hours later, or two four-pill doses of the other brands, the first no later than 72 hours after intercourse and the second 12 hours later.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spam spam spam, etc.

This just forwarded from my university email account. Ludicrous spam is like its own artform. Although this one certainly doesn't seem all that special in and of itself, the presentation given to it by the university IT automatic "possible virus" frame elevates it from scummy tacky shit to a masterpiece simply fraught with wit and irony.

An email titled
Naked teens attack home director
sent to you from
contains the file(s)
Full Video.exe
which is believed to be infected by a virus.
If you wish to receive a copy
of this possibly *infected* message
the helpdesk...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I think I should update my profile.
What to say...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

see, saw

Taking a page from Daniela's blog, I decided to post a couple of new places I've been to recently.

Stuff on my cat
Holla back Boston

I also just watched This Is What Democracy Looks Like. Well I watched part of it, most of it I think. I got frustrated by it and turned it off before it was over. It was very disappointing.

I've thought about it and I don't think my dislike of the movie reflects a rigid distaste for nontraditional documentary format. I suspect it might be influenced by my tendency to dislike nonlinearity in movies unless it is very very well done. And even when it is, I find it more welcome in something I am watching primarily for entertainment/artistic value than in something I'm watching primarily for information, perspective, cogency, and potency.

The movie included lengthy swaths of poor quality music (and other audio) and photoshoplike filtered collage/montages. These dominated the film to the point where it seemed they superceded any discernable nonfiltered or neon glow applied "what happened" content. At one point I said to A____ "This is what a music video looks like. Did fucking Bono produce this or something?" A___ replied "No, if he had the audio quality would be better..."

Content. I know, there is not a single defintion. If this had been billed as an art film, then it had plenty of content. Not necessarily plenty good, but plenty. However artsily done it was meant to be though, the main purpose was not (only) to present an art film. So what the purpose? I thought the idea was to present what happened at the 1999 WTO protests from the protestors' perspectives. This is not unlike what it says on the film's website

An Untold Story - Out of a sea of footage and multiple narratives, THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE weaves an elegant, powerful story that leaves the viewer feeling hope. "We set out to tell a story of empowerment and resistance," says Rowley (a co-director). "We've all heard again and again about random violence and broken windows, about protectionist trade unions and naive hippies. Even as activists, we turned Seattle into a story about repression and police violence. With 'Democracy' we wanted to tell a story of the power we have when we come together, a story of people standing up against the repressive machinery of the system and winning."

Ok, it's a story. They use the word "story" a lot so I guess I can't be blamed for expecting even a sense of narrative. But I think Mr. Rowley and I have different notions of what the word "story" means.

Yes, there is always a slant in any documentary. But when the majority of the content consists of images like red "paint" splashed, super-exposed, cliche images floating on a sea of cop vs. kid melee footage which has been grained and slowed to the point where it is physically nearly impossible to actually SEE what is going on even in the clip, you sort of start feeling like slant is all there is.

I'd cry if all (alternative) documentaries were as traditional, dry, and well, boringly done as Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, but Democracy strays so far to another extreme that any point or story which isn't completely lost in the mix becomes suspect due to the nature of the mix itself.

God damn, I guess I'm a square.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Blog for choice

I don't like the contraceptive options I have. Nope. I sure don't.

I don't like that most of the birth control available for women involves new and not improved ways to stun our ovaries into submission with fuck loads of hormone. If the drugs only zapped ovaries, it'd be one thing. But those drugs have necessarily non trivial effects on your body and can mess with your head, in a very real ischemic kind of way.

The Sponge was a reasonable alternative to the hormone hell of bcps. Back in the Sponge.1 years, it was just bcps as they hadn't yet gotten into hormone patches, injections, and implants (shudder). Sponge.1 was great for those of us lucky enough to not be allergic to it, but despite being IMMENSELY popular, Sponge.1 was yanked. Although after a nearly 11 year hiatus, I hear tell it's back now. The making of Sponge.2 is great news for women who spent the late 90s making difficult "spongeworthy" choices.

But where does that leave us? Essentially with the same sorts of choices for contraceptive that we had in 1992. That isn't really an improvement.

I don't like that other than condoms (which were invented when, like in the upper neolithic era, right?) there are no male-based contraceptives yet on the market. It's the twenty first century. Weren't we supposed to have super cool shit like "the male pill" by now?

While I'm on the subject of male versus female pills, I have to say that I really don't like that "woman problems" don't warrant the same kind of medical attention and research dollars that shit like male "erectile dysfunction" garners ("dysfunction" is not my prefered word here since the term implies it's somehow normal for an 80 year old man with PVOD to have an all night erection, which btw, it's not.) This is related to my dissatisfaction with contraceptive choice since both result from a simply shocking lack of consideration for women's health in mainstream medical and medication culture.

This brings me to a related issue, and one that bears on the topic of blogging for choice, which I will get to in a second. I am not happy that most of the big women's and reproductive rights groups I know of apparently give very little of a public shit about improving safety and variety in contraceptive choices and/or women's health care options. Efficacy of birth control, yes, that they care about. But when the news was breaking that the makers of birth control patches hid information that their product had a higher health risk than some of the commonly used pills, there was hardly a peep out of these groups. And that pissed me off oodles. It still pisses me off.

I guess you could say I am anti-limited choice and possibly I am anti-prochoice groups, but I am certainly not anti-choice. I'm pro-choices, lots of them and better ones than what we've got.

And so I am joining the "blog for choice" day on this year's anniversary of Roe V Wade, January 22.

Blog for Choice - January 22, 2007

Here's the info in case you're not in the mood to chase links*.

On January 22nd - the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade - we are asking pro-choice bloggers to join us in a day of activism for choice. Blog for Choice Day is a chance to raise the profile of reproductive rights issues in the blogosphere and the media, and to let everyone know that a woman's right to choose is nonnegotiable.

This year's topic is a simple one: tell us, and your readers, why you're pro-choice.

*I stole NARAL's button. They provided a jpg but it was linkless, and I have not devoted the time to learning html well enough to do it myself. I tried and failed several times here so I resorted to thievery but it's thievery for a good cause. The NARAL site offers a jpg to download (they called it a "blog button") which is swell but without a link it's just a picture, is it?


I am making stimuli. Rather, I am making potential stimuli. The stimuli are not very stimulating.

The scribbled note says:
"I need 50 pairs of words - mono and disyllables. Within a pair one has a front vowel and one a back vowel. E.g.

beet -- boot
beetle -- bottle
The words need to refer to something picturable."

How's that for directions? My advisor is smart as a whip but she's never been what anyone would call a great communicator.

I have spent the last hour rotating the simple vowels of English through simple word frames like "p_p". Unfortunately, several excellently picturable monosyllabic words are naughty, like "cock". I can't use these since although we like to think that from a phonological perspective at least they are just words like any others, the truth of the matter is there are some words you just can't use in an experiment.

E.g., we had an experimenter who included the word "slut" in his stimuli. The grads who he piloted all commented on it. "Yeah, I got to 'slut' and I stuttered and fell apart." "Me too. I started laughing, you've gotta take that out." But the researcher refused on the grounds that that the word "slut" was ok to use since the dictionary defined it as an untidy woman. While that is certainly not very nice, it's not all that loaded a definition, right? We tried explaining to this researcher, who spoke english very well but as something like his 8th language, that "slut" (a) pretty much exclusively meant promiscuous to most people and (b) was a very strong word. He would not be swayed. He stood by the numerous dictionaries which list the promiscuous meaning second, evidence that this very negative meaning was the less salient one and not something to worry about. Further, he told us, "I need 'slut' to balance out 'slot'." I think I snotted on myself when he said that.

I'm going to just avoid those words.
Maybe I'll have better luck with the consonant clusters, you know, like "pr_k" and "cr_k".

more more more

...more moronicity from the headlines (excerpted from AP):
Authorities won't say how Devlin kept the boys confined in his home or what they believe to be his motive. Shawn seemed to have had every chance to escape during his captivity. He was left alone for hours to ride his bike, play video games and walk past missing-child posters showing his own age-progressed image.
This kinda makes me want to slap someone.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Rural juror

My brother has a new bit of comedy to revel in.

It's the second part that did him in. He called me Saturday and played it into my voicemail. More amusing than the clip itself was hearing it with the sound of my brother laughing uncontrollably in the background. I'm saving that message.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

gavel fixation

Is it me or does it seems like there is a disproportionately large number of pictures of new US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holding that damned gavel? Who's got the gavel fixation? Her or the press?


It was a mountain bike.

My god the man is lucky they didn't shoot him.
Have you ever noticed how after something like this there is always a handful of people who can be relied upon to say things like "I'm all for civil liberties but you don't just go charging around at a parade and expect the police won't see that as a threat...."

Interestingly, that response has been lacking here. I suppose that is because school is still on break. And, for better or worse, it will be old news by the time the campus paper cranks out their first edition of the semester.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The state I'm in

If you've read any other part of this blog, odds are you've stumbled across posts detailing or at least referencing my feelings about this state. If not, allow me to summarize - I am not a fan of connecticut. What's currently fueling my extreme dislike of the state of connecticut? This time, it's the use of law enforcement to pre-emptively silence speech of the sort most integral to even a shred of democracy.

Kenneth Krayeske, a freelance journalist, political activist, and law student, was arrested for being at the inaugural parade of our new (old) governor Jodi Rell. Ok, it was for more than being there. It was for being himself and being there. From the news reports it doesn't look like the cop(s) who arrested Krayeske knew he was a journalist. If they had, they might not have gotten all jazzed up when they saw him ride up on a bike, jump off, and approach the parade line with camera in hand as the governor passed. Although I realize as I typed this, Krayeske was riding a bike. That right there could count as probable cause.

But I digress. See, in connecticut it's not ok to exercise your first amendment rights. It's not just illegal to talk about things like poop and boobies on the radio. At least as offensive is visibly and effectively exercising first amendment rights. The existence of these rights is something that never fails to get patiots all swelled up and patriotic. But here in CT, there is a disconnect between pride in the existence of the right and pride in the practice of the right. According to news accounts, Krayese was targeted because of his "past actions" and statements. So Krayeske's being an outspoken critic of the Rell administration (among other things) made his appearance at the parade a questionable act. Thus, in connecticut, having visibly and effectively exercised first amendment rights results in forfeiting those rights.

But Connecticut is the constitution state! How could that happen here? Well, just because it's the constitution state doesn't mean it's the bill of rights state, does it? It turns out the constitution state has a recent history of high profile free speech fuckery. In October of 2001, demonstrators in Hartford were assaulted and arrested by police, held with ridiculously high bails, and charged with crimes such as inciting riot [1, 2].

The 2001 arrests were a frightening over reaction on the part of the police. At the time though it was easy to think it was part of a larger and temporary national trend towards over reaction. Tempers were running high and people were very freaked out in October of 2001. We were still dealing with the immediate wave of aftermath of the plane hijackings, the horror of realizing the full scale of what had happened. And on top of it, there was that whole fucked up anthrax in the mail thing going on, keeping many people on edge. But here we are, years later in a totally different situation. And still it is illegal to be a visibly dissenting member of the public, at least in Hartford, CT. Governmental reaction to September 11 can be seen as the grandfather of a bevy of (now) official restrictive policies and govenmental agencies. This trend is responsible for institutionalizing the kind of reasoning the police used in October 2001 and more recently to target and arrest Krayeske at the governor's parade.

See here's how it goes (excerpted from the Hartford Courant, January 9, 2007)

[State commissioner of public safety] Boyle said that when state police are providing security for any dignitary, its intelligence unit does research to identify "persons who through their prior actions or statements show an intention or propensity to disrupt that event."

"The officers are not told to arrest the person on site, nor to detain, question them or otherwise approach them," Boyle said. "That information is provided to officers working at the event so that they might simply give closer scrutiny to that person."

The whole story is pretty well covered here at this blog through the posts and links. The short version is that we can thank the convergence of the free speech hating policies of CT-local law enforcement with information provided by a relatively new governmental thing (let's refer to it as an "agency") called the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. DEMHS houses the Connecticut Intelligence Center. This agency has been referenced in several news stories on Krayeske's arrest. What is it? From the DEMHS website, the CTIC is a... multi-agency center...located at the FBI’s Connecticut office. The center includes Federal, State and Local law enforcement personnel working side by side to develop leads and solve cases. The center is connected to every local law enforcement agency by specially trained Intelligence Liaison Officers who report to Regional Intelligence officers to report to and work at the Connecticut Intelligence Center (CTIC). The CTIC produces weekly Intelligence bulletins which are distributed electronically to law enforcement and others...who work in the field and may come upon important information.

While emergency management services are certainly necessary, while it seems a reasonable goal to find ways to improve communication between federal and state agencies in order to expedite appropriate and useful responses to prevent (preventable) tragedies like the Hurricane response disasters, why put these jobs under "homeland security"? Even typing those words makes me want to cringe. For some reason, the phrase calls to mind notions of governments spying on their own citizens. News of the president's push for a monarchy and events like the arrest at Rell's parade solidify and validate that association.

So here's this creepy (as fuck) organization which exists with the blessings of our state legislature. It's run by what looks like at least one hack from the (former) super corrupt executive administration. Further, it sort of looks like The Department doesn't do such a stellar job at the whole protecting the citizens thing.

You have to wonder then what possible excuse we could have for entrusting oodles of money and power to an agency which has demonstrated a lack of ability to do exactly the one thing it was created to do, especially if it or its officers are implicated in this most recent application of what is apparently becoming a connecticut tradition of obstructing free speech.

The state legislators are in a tizz now, asking to see "the list", that is in reference to whatever information landed Krayeske on the radar of the free speech hungry cops in Hartford. There is talk among the state legislators of holding hearings. They know this is a king sized screw up and they want to get on the right side of it. But they're neglecting the fact that the assembly already had a chance to weigh in on this when the agency was first created. Today I read an article where a prominent state representative, a member of the party leadership in the house, said she hadn't heard of this agency (the CTIC). That's sort of odd considering she was on the legislature when the DEMHS was created through statute.

The state legislators should be held responsible for allowing such an agency to exist and for not mandating appropriate oversight of this agency (at least). That any member of party leadership could dare to claim ignorance of the existence of this agency speaks to that lack of oversight. Allowing the creation of such a thing without insisting on the proper safeguards against its use to curtail the rights and freedoms of the people it's meant to serve is the same as if the state legislators themselves acted to destroy civil liberties in the state. Yes, there should be hearings. But we should consider putting a few questions to the legislators too, starting with "Just what the fuck were you thinking anyhow?"

From the dissenting opinion in Abrams V the United States, US Supreme Court Justice Holmes (1919):
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

Monday, January 08, 2007

cups of cake (I)

My brother's new year's resolution was to make cupcakes. He was down this past weekend, got himself to an NA meeting, and when he came back we frosted the chocolate cupcakes we had made earlier. All in all, a very good visit.

Still haven't done the carrot soup but I have the chicken stock done and I'm hoping to get cracking on it tomorrow. I'll post results and the recipe if it's decent.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Today I woke up before sunrise.
Out of bed 20 minutes later.
I am so not a morning person.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

side effect

Saw a different GI doctor today. The one I saw before christmas had gone on vacation over christmas. I'm sure it was a very much needed vacation, especially if all his patients dislike him as much as I do.

The new one was at least more likable. Also he doesn't look like a rat.

The new non-ratlike doctor recommended yoga, set up an endoscopy since the last time my stomach hurt like this I had some stomach polyps. God that sounds nasty, doesn't it?
He asked me "Did they find a lot of them?"
I said "The other guy didn't really say. I mean, who's gonna come in after the procedure and say 'hey I found a whole mess of polyps in there!' to a patient? He told me 'I found some polyps and removed them'."
This prompted him to confer with the chart. Apparently it was a whole mess of polyps.

He also gave me two scripts, one I will try because it's supposed to help me actually digest what I eat. The other I am a little apprehensive about because it is addictive.
"Isn't that addictive?" I asked when the doctor said the name of the drug.
"Hm? That? No, it's not addictive..." he said, sounding genuinely shocked.

But see, when this drug first came out I was engaged to Bob the ER doctor (then the ER resident) a.k.a. "Flounder". The drug was seriously pimped by the reps, I recall Flounder telling me at the time. It offered the pain control of opiates but it wasn't an opiate. Nor was it chemically similar to other (synthetic) opioids. Wonderful! So everyone promptly began prescribing it. Here you go. Here's some for you, and for you. I remember the sample boxes had a butterfly on them. I remember because Flounder, along with the other doctors at the drug rep lunch that week were given goodie bags of samples along with the usual drug schwag.

Then the bad news came. Turns out it was addictive. Oh yes indeed. No more samples of this drug, although the butterfly bedecked pens and note pads remained.

While I know it is a horrible thing to question one's doctors, I did look it up when I got home. Turns out it happens to bind to certain opioid receptors. I also found this article which I excerpted below.

A 74 year old man with lung cancer was referred to the palliative care team for symptom control. He had pain in the left side of his chest and was advised to take tramadol hydrochloride 50 mg four times daily at home. Soon after starting the tramadol, he began to experience auditory hallucinations. These were particularly vivid and took the form of “two voices singing, accompanied by an accordion and a banjo, singing songs, songs by Josef Locke—old songs.” They were distressing, making him feel as though he was going mad.

No offense to Josef Locke (whoever he is) but I'm quite sure I would also feel distressed by having vivid hallucinations of any duet accompanied by a banjo and accordion ensemble. Who wouldn't?

The addictive issue is more relevant if you take it long term. These days most doctors are more concerned with treating (or masking) symptoms rather than using them to diagnose whatever is causing them. I'm not a fan of adding a "take it for, well, um, let's see here... for ever. And see me when you need more" drug to my daily routine. I've already got a couple of those, but at least those are relatively benign and are meant to control the underlying problem rather than just make the symptoms tolerable.

I think I'll skip this drug. I'd like to say I'll skip it in favor of a diagnosis but that's probably not an option. So I'll skip it and hope the other one works, or at least works enough.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

another new year

Last year my resolution was to learn three new recipes.
Here are some of the recipes I'm counting towards that total.
One - sesame noodles (with a peanut noodle variant)*
Two - sweet and sour sauteed carrots and red peppers
Three - Greek chicken
Four - Broccoli and cheddar risotto
Five - New version of chicken parmesan

*This one was from 2005 I think but I am counting it anyhow since I kept working on it into 2006.

It's past the end of the year, but I am going grocery shopping today and I'm planning to pick up stuff to try carrot ginger soup. I've been losing weight again and I need to find some nutritious food that might be easier on my stomach than tomato or other spicey/acidic creations. I'm very excited about trying the soup since I had some in Ann Arbor when I last visited and it was quite good.

This may have been the first time I can happily report I have kept my resolution. Most years I resolve to undertake some big life and perspective changing attitude or growth. I remember resolving to learn to rely on other people better. I got sick of having my resolutions turn into trials. Although I do realize that the resolution itself wasn't causal (more likely it went in the other direction), I got sick of the sense of uncomfortable ironic self fulfilling prophecy that such resolutions raised. So I resolved to make only silly resolutions.

This year, I resolve to post fliers with something like what Rob Brezsny would call "sacred advertisements". Back in 1999 a friend and I conspired to commit similar acts. We researched quotes on women, academia, and women in academia. We collected them, printed them up on colorful paper, then snipped each out so we had a handful of individual brightly colored quotes. Over the next few months, we occasionally taped a set of them around our building on campus.

This year's resolution is to commit similar acts but involves expanding the repertoire a bit.


I got tagged by Daniela at Lingo Franko.
So here we go....

4 jobs I have had
1. florist
2. unit clerk (medical)
3. ESL instructor
4. salesgirl

4 Movies I could watch over and over
1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
2. Nearly any Coen brothers movie but especially The Big Lebowski
3. Airplane
4. Mystery Men

4 places I have lived apart from where I live now
1. Quincy, MA
2. Waltham, MA
3. Ann Arbor, MI
4. Various towns in CT

4 tv shows that I love (which are on DVD/itunes because I don't have cable)
1. The Office
2. Scrubs
3. My Name is Earl
4. 30 Rock (not LOVE but the buying all the hotdogs was just too great)

4 places I have been on hols
1. Peaks Island, Maine
2. Leenalau, Michigan (stayed at a nice B&B, went to the dunes park which was GORGEOUS, saw the biggest snake I've ever seen right smack in the middle of a trail)
3. San Francisco
4. Vancouver

4 websites I visit daily
1. Google
2. The Boston Globe
3. Weather Underground
4. Pandora

4 favourite foods
1. Minestrone
2. Lasagna
3. Greek chicken (mint, oregano, peppers, red onion, feta cheese, and grapes – yum!)
4. Chips – nearly any kind

4 places i would rather be at right now
[I noticed that there aren’t as many places as there are states (of being), so below are places or ways i'd rather be right now]
1.In the house I rented in Ann Arbor the last year I lived out there, but with a slight change of cast. Cat and dog are still there but no ex. I miss that place. With the exception of my ex husband’s presence, it felt right to me.
2. Heading up to Boston to meet my little brother for dinner as I had tentatively planned yesterday morning. I made those plans before I spent the day with pain and nausea (they make rotten guests btw – came about a week before thanksgiving and they won’t leave). I am currently waiting to see how food treats me today but I suspect that I will not be making my trip as planned.
3. Brave again.
4. In possession of the kind of trust which has more than one (somewhat superficial) apparent level.

4 people I am tagging
and of course cjblue