Monthly Archives: December 2012

Open thread: Endings

(By chris the cynic)

I’m a firm believer in the idea that the ending is the most important part because it colors all that came before. An ending that includes what everyone ended up doing five years down the line is very different from one in which the last lines are, “And the small child fell out of bed with a thud and woke up. It was all a dream.”

For those of us in the Gregorian calendar there’s a bit of an ending today. Hence the prompt for this open thread: Endings. Talk about them. Feel free to disagree with what I wrote above.

Updated This week in the Slacktiverse, December 29/30

(posted by chris the cynic)

The Blogaround

TRiG wrote:

This week I’ve posted two slightly incoherent posts. The first, “Tidyup“, was about blog housekeeping, about being gay, about losing my religion, about spam, and also for some reason included two Tim Minchin songs. I don’t know how I managed to get all that in one post, but I did warn you it was incoherent. The second post, “Thoughts: Reading the Internet“, is somewhat more focussed. It’s about death. Well, sort of. It’s mainly about me being slightly morbid, but not particularly unhappy. It also includes some poetry. (And the content of the post turns out not to have much to do with the title, largely because it got away from me while I was writing it. It was supposed to be a post on one blog about my other blog, but it turned out as a post about being morbid instead. As I said, slightly incoherent.)

Catherine wrote:

Hi all,

Merry Festival Of Your Choice! I finished up work on Friday, which meant that over on Cate’s Cates, I’ve been doing last-minute Christmas baking – easy fruit mince for pies and lemon meringue tart kits for presents. I’ve also been making gorgeous hampers. And today I went to the cricket, which was a little depressing, because Sri Lanka wasn’t really doing very much except getting injured, but I did make a vegan feast for lunch.

Over on Cate Sings, I finished up my Advent Calendar with seasonally-inappropriate carols (http://catesings.org/advent-calendar-day-23-in-the-bleak-mid-winter-holst/), a modern Magnificat, and a mini carol service of Handel, Britten and Wilcocks, with references to other carols, good and bad. Today, I celebrated the end of carolling with Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (which, given all the incense I inhaled around Christmas, was seasonally appropriate in its own way.)

I hope everyone is having a relaxing, or at least non-stressful time!

Best wishes,

Catherine

chris the cynic wrote:

I’ve had a bad week, let’s get that out of the way first. I’ve run out of hope and thus am simple going on because I have nothing better to do. Which itself is nothing new, but it may be the first time that my lack of hope has foundations in rational thinking instead of depression. Windows pissed me off again. My family’s Christmas get together started well and then went to shit at the end, with the end ending up taking more time than the beginning and middle combined. I walked through a blizzard to meet someone because I couldn’t figure out how to find out if they’d cancelled the meeting on account of the blizzard, based on them not being there I guess that they did. Being away from the house meant that I was the last to get the news that my grandmother was dying. But no one expected it to be a quick kind of dying and we were pulling strings and rearranging appointments and swapping shifts and whatnot so we could all get together to see her the next day. Which turned out to be pointless because less than an hour after I got the news, she died. The ground is frozen, she’ll have to wait a while before any of the usual post-death rituals are done for her. And, finally, for the second time since I started going to university, I failed a class. In two weeks it could be two classes, and later on possibly four because I haven’t passed any of the classes I took this semester, it’s just that the ones I’ve not yet failed are on varying degrees of extension.

So, that’s the bad.

After we got the news that my grandmother died the silence was unbearable and had to be extinguished with something. As it turned out the movie The Living Daylights (the James Bond movie with the cello) did the trick and I wrote a post saying good things about that movie.

I asked some questions, like, “Is anyone up for a movie?” because if you’re interested in seeing the Hobbit in IMAX and you’re near me (I live in the greater Portland area of Southern Maine) we could seriously go together. There’s actually an attempt to do this thing as a group in the works, so New England Slacktivites, if you’re interested speak up; and “Fantasy Reconstruction, how does one do it?” because if entire races have been presided over by the Dark Lord and have a pillage and eat the humans based economy, how do you integrate them with the rest of society after the Dark Lord is overthrown?; and “Did they do this?” with respect to the Doctor Who episode Blink. It looks like they didn’t, which was what I expected, but I maintain that they should have.

I wrote some fiction. Skewed Slightly to the Left: Rayford has some time to think, which is a relatively short piece about reacting to the persistent knowledge you’ve fucked up beyond words. Mr Nicolae Carpathia ate with relish the inner organs of beasts… which is basically seeing how much millage I can get out of taking the scene between Leopold Bloom and his cat and making it into one between Nicolae Carpathia and his by changing a few key words and phrases.

Mermaid story: A beginning – Remember that mermaid story I’ve been talking about for forever? This is the beginning.

What I want to happen in Newsrooms. The title is pretty self explanatory.

Three posts with pictures: It’s probably not actually Jesus’ birthday, It’s a white Christmas, and Playing with a picture (of a tree).

One post on Collective bargaining, staying competitive, and cross company solidarity.

And finally, for the sheer absurdity of it, I published all of the spam a post that consists of almost nothing but me posting my spam (with the actual spam links removed) has gained. And (see the comments) realized I didn’t even notice the amount of Cyrillic in it.

*looks at giant wall of text* Good god, I’ve made the weekend post all about me, haven’t I?

This week froborr wrote:

I’ve got a new My Little Po-Mo up: Just make the whole thing, you know, cooler. (Fall Weather Friends)

I also started a Tumblr, mostly to share MLPo-Mo articles with the MLP community on there, but I’ve got two unrelated short pieces up as well, because they fell into length-limbo between Facebook and full-on blog posts:

On the Nonexistence of Monsters, my response to the responses I’ve seen to the Newtown/Sandy Hook shooting.

Fragment of a work in progress: Exactly what it says on the tin, a brief speech by one of the fey about creatures they predicted had to exist, but were still shocked to actually meet.

Last week froborr wrote:

As usual, my new My Little Po-Mo is out a matter of hours after the Blogaround. My own fault for setting midnight Sunday as my weekly deadline.

Anyway, just like last week, this week’s post is my best to date. I think that means I get to declare myself to be on a roll. Friendship Is Alchemy continues with albedo phase, a time of purification, returning to innocence, and blank flanks: Those ponies over there are watchin’ me! (Call of the Cutie)

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

This Appliance Is Not For Use By The Disabled

~ by Anonymus (posted by Ana)

I have just acquired a new appliance. According to the manual (yes, I’m the weirdo who always reads the manual), it is a very dangerous appliance.

“This appliance is not intended for use by persons (including children) with reduced physical, sensory, or mental capabilities, or lack of experience and knowledge, unless they have been given supervision or instruction concerning the use of the appliance by a person responsible for their safety. Children should be supervised to ensure that they do not play with the appliance.”

I can actually understand 75% of the languages the manual is translated into, well enough to parse those two sentences anyway, and in some of them it cuts to the chase and says “not for use by the physically or intellectually disabled” and in other languages it includes the mentally ill in the list of those who should not use the appliance, though some languages don’t really distinguish intellectual disability from mental illness. Others still were a closer translation of the English, and I have no idea what the Estonian, Latvian, or Lithuanian translations say, though I can make an educated guess on words like the Estonian füüsilise (physical), the Latvian fiziskiem (physical), and the Lithuanian fizėnemis (physical), sensorinėmis (sensory), and psichinėmis (psychological/intellectual).

Did I buy a chainsaw? An automobile? A blowtorch? What is this device that is too dangerous for disabled people to use? Is there a sequence of button presses that will cause the device to explode?

I am a disabled person, but like many disabled people, I do not have a carer or a supervisor to read the manual for me and explain to me how to use it. Some disabled people do, but they and their carers should be able to figure out how much and what sort of help is needed, if any, for operating this appliance. In my case, I bought the appliance with my own money and read the manual all by myself, which seems to be outside the imagination of the manual writer. My new appliance doesn’t seem very complicated to me; I could have figured it out without the manual. But, perhaps because I am one of the disabled people the manual suggests should not operate this appliance, I am having trouble figuring out how I could possibly damage myself or the appliance by letting my disabled self operate it, and operate it I must, since I live alone and have no one to help me use it. Maybe some of the able bodied readers can help me figure out how this appliance is dangerous to me or how I am dangerous to it.

My new appliance has a couple buttons which are clearly labelled. When I push the “on/off” button, it turns on. When I put a crayon on it, it tells me that it weighs 4 grams. When I press the “zero” button, the display reads “0 grams”. I also tested it with a six sided die (3 grams), and a cigarette lighter (17 grams). It can weigh in ounces too, if I want. Finally, I pushed the “on/off” button again and the display went blank. I was not injured in the process of testing the appliance. Yeah, the super dangerous appliance I’ve acquired is a $20 kitchen scale. It has a lithium battery that I know not to swallow and the weighing surface has glass on it, which I know will likely break if dropped, which the manual confirms elsewhere. I will keep it on the counter near the wall where it will be hard for my pets to knock down. The manual said not to submerge it in water, but I don’t usually submerge electronics in water. It said to clean it with a damp cloth, so I will, but it isn’t dirty yet, so I won’t.

There are certain disabilities which would make it difficult to use the scale. A blind person wouldn’t be able to read the display, but a person with total blindness would want to buy a talking scale anyway. The display is large enough that someone with low vision might be able to handle it, but there are other scales with larger displays on the market for someone unable to read this one. Someone who has trouble with pouring because of a disability related to manual dexterity may need to use the scale differently, for example by pouring over the sink before placing the bowl on the scale rather than placing the bowl on the scale and pouring into it directly, or by getting someone to help them, or they might want to buy some other type of scale, perhaps a larger, more robust one, with larger buttons, but they would have known about their disability-related requirements long before buying the scale. A person with an intellectual disability might need some help or training, or they might not: it really depends on the disability. If they did need help, they could ask someone they trust, or someone close to them might ask whether they needed help with it, and explain things if they do.

Most disabled people know what they can and can’t do and plan their purchases accordingly. For example, a deaf person wouldn’t expect their alarm clock to have a warning that it is not for use by deaf people — they know to shop for a bed-shaking alarm clock or an alarm clock with a bright light instead. When I, as a disabled person, buy a kitchen scale at a regular appliance store and not at a special disabled store, I buy it knowing what my abilities are, knowing what areas I have trouble with, and factor that into my purchasing decision. The manual lists me as part of a broad spectrum of people who should not operate the scale unsupervised, but the narrow spectrum of people who truly would not be able to use the scale wouldn’t have bought it anyway.

Anyway, stay safe, friends, and remember not to use your kitchen scale while depressed, deaf, dyslexic, using a wheelchair, or under the influence of caffeine.

Deconstruction Round Up, December 28th, 2012

(by froborr)

Sorry this is going up so late, work was actually busy enough that I couldn’t take a break to work on this, and then I had a sick fiancee to take care of when I got home.

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal

50 Shades of Gray (No index page, category, or tag)

Nothing new since last time.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Apocalypse Review: Apocalypsereview’s Blog

Multiple Deconstructions:

Chris the Cynic: Stealing Commas

Multiple Deconstructions:

Clevernamepending: Something Short and Snappy

50 Shades of Grey: First Post

Since last time: 50 Shades Darker Chapter 3

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

The Left Behind Series: First Post

Nothing new since last time. A new NRA post is due today; I will update after it goes up.

Edit: NRA: We’re back in the car again

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: First Post

Since last time: Those ponies over there are watchin’ me! (Call of the Cutie)

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Multiple Deconstructions:

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:

Season 1 (complete)

Season 2 (complete)

Season 3 (ongoing) Apple Family Reunion

Thoughts on Ponies (ongoing)

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Newbery winners / Honor Book: First post

Nothing new since last time.

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Left Behind: The Kids: First Post

Since last time:
Not Very Snarkworthy
Running out of Ways to Alleviate my Boredom

Nathaniel: Politics, Prose and Other Things

Caves of Steel: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Omskivar: Omskivar Reviews

Eragon: First Post

Eragon: Chapter 31
Eragon: Chapter 32

PersonalFailure: Forever in Hell

Elsie Dinsmore: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Philip Sandifer: TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue

Doctor Who: First Post

Since last time: Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 49 (Jonathan Creek)
Clinging to the Skin of this Tiny Little World (The TV Movie)
(Content Warning: Newtown, CT shooting and media response thereto)
Splendid Chap, All of Them (The Dying Days)

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Captain Power: First Post

Nothing new since last time.

Yamikuronue: Raven Wings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Please comment or e-mail us if we’ve forgotten anybody or you have anyone to add. Or if any links are broken, or if the Long Count and/or Long Cat ends, or for more or less any reason really.

Board Business December 27th

(By Chris the Cynic)

Sorry this is late, but unless you want to be frustrated and sad (two different things, two different emotions) you probably don’t want to hear about my day. Plus the Deconstruction Round Up tomorrow goes up late in the day anyway, so it’s not as if much is lost by it being late.

Lonespark and I are trying to arrange a New England get together, but at the moment not enough has been worked out to even make an “Irregular Business” for it. Expect either a hasty frantic, “We’re doing it almost immediately so if anyone’s interested tell us now!” post at a strange and unexpected time, or a calm, “These are the times we’re considering, who can make it when?” posted next week in Irregular Business.

Regular Business

Tomorrow is Deconstruction Friday

Submissions for the weekend post due by 20:00 GMT Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Deadlines
Please email all submissions to said group email address (SlacktiverseAuthors at gmail dot com). The deadline this week will be 2000 GMT on Saturday.

Urgent or time-sensitive announcements will be posted immediately rather than being held for the next regular “This Weekend” post.  But you’ll have to tell me they’re urgent or time sensitive because it’s liable to go right over my head if you don’t.

Lastly, feel free to consider this an open thread.  Completely open, no prompt, say whatever you like.

Happy New Year to those using the same calendar as me.

The History I Didn’t Know I Had

Content Note: Ableism, Gun Violence, Depression, Suicide and Suicide Ideation, Medical Malpractice

~ by Ana Mardoll

This year I decided to take advantage of the HIPAA access rules to gather up for my private records every shred of medical documentation there is out there as pertains to me. That meant writing letters to well over a dozen doctors across multiple states, including a letter to my “primary care physician” who has been our family doctor for the better part of my entire life. I had grandiose dreams of distilling decades of complex medical history into a couple of informative and approachable charts to be handed to any new doctor I might have to see from here on out.

What I did not expect was to find that I have a documented history of severe mental illness, as diagnosed by my primary care physician, without ever telling me.

My family physician is an MD. I don’t know that he has any background in recognizing and treating mental illness. I don’t know that he’s had any formal training since his original doctoral work was finished a little more than two years after I was born. I do know for a fact that he never administered any sort of test to determine if I was mentally ill, and instead based his diagnosis on observations of my behavior in his office. And then he wrote those diagnoses on his charts — my Official Medical Records — without ever telling me what he was writing down.

And that is how I have an established long-term medical history, stretching back into my early teens, of severe clinical depression. And the way my doctor discovered that is because I — and I hope you’ve braced yourself for this — used to sometimes cry in his office during doctor visits.

That part I absolutely remember. No one ever asked me why I was crying mid-visit, and I doubt I would have been able to tell them so because I lacked the vocabulary necessary to do so, but I was crying because I was being gaslighted by the entire medical profession. When the surgery which was supposed to fix my barely-out-of-my-preteens scoliosis didn’t help to alleviate my pain, I was informed with systematic brutality by every specialist and doctor I went to that I was making it all up, that I wasn’t really in pain, that I was inventing symptoms because I craved attention and sympathy.

Most of them wouldn’t even bother to look at the x-rays of my back that I dutifully lugged to each appointment. Many of them prescribed me powerful medications with strong side-effects without warning me what to expect, because they insisted that someone prone to inventing back pain would also be prone to inventing side-effect symptoms.

Some of the medications caused me to lose consciousness and faint in public. (And crumpling uncontrollably to the ground is not good for someone with a twisted spine.) One of the medications prevented me from sleeping more than 30 minutes a night for two straight weeks. One medication caused me to hear an internal voice telling me to kill myself; I went to my mother, crying, because — as I told her — I didn’t want to kill myself, but the voice said I had to. Alarmed, she took me off the medication immediately, and the incident never repeated itself.

Later we found out that a healthy teenager in a trial use of the drug had unexpectedly committed suicide.

That was also when we found out that at least some of the “pain pills” being prescribed for me were actually anti-depressants. Which seemed odd to us at the time, but we didn’t realize that my Official Medical Records had “depression” scrawled all over them. Instead, we stopped going to doctors for awhile, and I learned to live with the constant pain.

I tell you all that to then tell you this. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot 27 people, including his mother and a number of children and staff members at an elementary school. This horrific incident is just one in a pattern of shootings in America, leading some to project that American gun deaths will exceed traffic fatalities by 2015. In response to this incident in particular and this pattern in general, the NRA (the National Rifle Association) which has historically fought tooth-and-nail against the idea of a national gun registry list on the grounds that gun owners might then be discriminated against, has suggested that instead we maintain a nationally registry of all mentally ill persons.

This reprehensible idea is riddled with problems, many of which have been more aptly laid out by Melissa McEwan, but leaving aside all of the following…

1. Not all mentally ill people are violent.
2. Not all violent people are mentally ill.
3. Not all mental illnesses can be easily or accurately diagnosed.
4. Not all mental illnesses tend toward the same symptoms.
5. Stigmatizing mental illness makes it harder to receive treatment.
6. Stigmatizing mental illness means further victimizing victims of gun violence whose mental illness was caused by gun violence.

…leaving aside all that… well, you can’t, can you? You can’t leave aside all that because that is some seriously fucked up shit is what that is. A national database of mentally ill persons is a FUCKING BAD IDEA. If you looked up FUCKING BAD IDEA in the Oxford English Dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’d see: “example: the idea that a national database of mentally ill persons would somehow magically cause fewer gun deaths and be less of an intrusion on basic human rights than if we were to, say, limit the sorts of weapons freely sold to the American public or maintain a national registry of guns, both of which the NRA fiercely opposes.”

But assuming you could leave aside all that, let’s talk about the fact that you — yes, YOU, personally — could have a mental illness in your Official Medical Records and not even know it. Because if your doctor writes it down, no matter how much of an asshole he may be and no matter how unqualified he is to make such a judgment, it becomes part of your medical history. There’s not a simple easily-navigable system in place to effectively challenge a document in your medical files, or to demand that a diagnosis be stricken from the records. There’s no way to appeal to an external medical board and have the ink removed from the page. If you don’t like what your medical doctor writes in your file, your job as a red-blooded freedom-breathing eagle-petting American is to FIRE YOUR DOCTOR and get another one, after maybe sticking a letter of disagreement in your case file that probably no one will ever take seriously except to mark you as a Trouble-Maker.

And you can do that, certainly. But it still doesn’t erase what that doctor wrote down about you.

Proponents of a national database of mental illnesses would probably read the above and scoff at my obvious over-reaction to their great idea. Of course they wouldn’t just take Joe Blow MD’s word for it before adding someone into the database; of course there would be A Process to make sure that people were only added if they needed to be added, and of course there would be An Appeals process to prove that you weren’t then — or at least weren’t now — a danger to others. There would be ways to get off the database. Everything would be fair and awesome and above-board.

Except… that’s not how reality works. My doctor didn’t misdiagnose me because he’s stupid or evil. He misdiagnosed me because we live and work and breathe a culture where people with illnesses are considered weak and stupid and evil and bad. People with illnesses are stigmatized for being ill. I didn’t “shape up” after the surgery that was considered the best possible treatment at the time, and therefore I was being willful and stubborn and difficult. I couldn’t be actually in pain because that would mean the doctors were wrong and that was unthinkable. Better to write down that I was making up my pain due to my obvious narcissistic tendencies.

And when I cried because no one believed me or cared one whit about my hurt, well, that just showed that I was severely depressed. Better to load up the little girl on powerful anti-depressants and tell her that they will help with her pain. It’ll be like a placebo effect, only better.

My story isn’t weird or unusual or uncommon. It’s not the stuff of a Charles Dickens novel. This sort of thing happens all the time. The internet is full of patients with chronic pain conditions who have to fight tooth-and-nail to be taken seriously by their medical professionals, who have to constantly and proactively resist being labeled “crazy” or depressed or mentally ill. And if these same patients understandably develop actual depression or anxiety in the face of systematic medical malpractice, then that mental illness which was derived from medical malpractice is used to excuse the medical malpractice. “See? We always knew she was depressed,” they’ll say.

A national database of mentally ill persons is a terrible idea for a lot of reasons. But it’s also a terrible idea because it presupposes that doctors are always accurate, always honest, and always act in a patient’s best interests. I’m sure there are doctors like that out there, somewhere.

But I’ve never been treated by a single one, despite having visited dozens of doctors in my lifetime.

Cute Animal Tuesday #6: Christmas

(Posted by kisekileia.)

Here are some beautiful Christmas puppies and kittens, courtesy of rainbow_goddess of the baaaaabyanimals LiveJournal community:

Christmas kitten

Christmas puppy

Christmas kitten and puppy

And because it’s hard to restrain myself from including bunnies in any cute animal post, here are a couple of Christmas bunny pictures from The Sarcastic Bunneh Show, the first of which is via The Daily Squee:

Reindeer bunny

Beautiful Christmas bunnies

Now for two of my favourite Christmas cute animal videos. In the first one, a lady named Leah opens a Christmas gift. Be sure to have the sound on so you can experience her utter delight:

(Note: I realize that surprising someone with a pet as a gift can often lead to the pet being abandoned. However, it’s clear that in this case, Leah very much wanted a kitten, so I’m sure the little fuzzball is still happily enjoying life with her :). )

And here is one of the cutest Christmas videos around: A Giggle with the Goats Jingle Bells Holiday Performance! Keep the sound on for this one too.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone!