21 April 2015

The Cult of Science

"I have faith in science"

I wince every time I see that. It's usually people with a university degree, or part of one, in a science or social science. They like things that can be proven to them. They dislike anything that requires faith. Which is funny, given how very little of science they understand. And that's not an insult, that's fact. Almost no one is well-versed in all the areas of science. So they believe the latest scientific findings as if it's fact, not just the best information we have right now. And anyone who doesn't buy the findings is clearly stupid, deluded, or a quack.

And it drives me crazy. My husband is a scientist. He's the first to say, "Look at the money. Look who is funding the study. If the outcome of the study directly benefits the people paying for the study, it's not worth a damn. It may or may not be valid, but you cannot know how the data was 'massaged'" So when a study comes out showing that the MMR is unconnected to Autism, I looked to see who funded the study. The Lewin Group. Hmm, never heard of them. So I look them up. Oh, they're owned by UnitedHealth Group, who profit from vaccines. Does that mean that there is a connection? Hell no. Does it mean they're covering something up? I have no idea. But what I do know is not a thing more than I knew before. Because this proves nothing.

Anyway, only one of my kids had the MMR and I don't think it was a problem (but our doctors advised against further vaccines for other reasons, and fuck you straight to hell if you think I should vaccinate them anyway because of your fear). I'm not invested in believing the MMR causes autism. But I'm not going to jump into the cult of science either.

And why do I call it a cult? Because anyone who questions or disbelieves is shunned. Sometimes even if they're scientists too. They're mocked, belittled, and generally run out of the place. Their opinions are rendered garbage because even if they have personal experience if the current understanding of science doesn't back them up, they're completely ignored and marginalized.

And I ask, when does alternative medicine become standard? When MDs prescribe it? When it's proven to work for an arbitrary number of people? When that can be shown in a clinical study? And how does that ever begin to happen if people aren't trying new things? Suppose Dr N, MD is using a standard drug off-label. There's no evidence to back up what she's doing, but other doctors have mentioned that as a side effect of it, this other thing improves, and so they start doing it off-label. Totally not proven, not evidence-based medicine. But it's an MD doing it, so the cult seems to be okay with this, and maybe someone writes an article saying how it worked, and then someone finds the money for the double-blind study that shows it works in a group of people. Woohoo! They proved it and are vindicated. But what if the study shows it doesn't work, but the doctor keeps seeing results? Quackery? Or a flawed study that didn't control for certain factors, likely because they didn't have enough information to control for them.

Take a proper representative sample of human beings, put them in the sun for an hour. If only 8% of them turn red, and you don't know about the existence of melanin, you can safely conclude that the sun does not cause skin to turn red. It's the same for much of medicine. I heard the pharmacist say to the customer in front of me, "This is a very old drug. It's been around for about 70 years. We have no idea how it works for [what he had], but it works very well for high blood pressure. This is considered a side effect in some cases."

Over and over, studies are refuted by people who just can't believe the outcomes of other studies. That is how science works. That's what really infuriates me about the whole thing. A good study should be reproducible and falsifiable. And people should try. That's how progress is made. If everyone jumped on every study as the newest fact, no one would ever question. And it's up to more than scientists to do the questioning. If macrodantin makes me pass out every time I take it, and the doctor tells me that's impossible, do I keep taking it? Would you? I get to decide what to do with my body, even if it violates the current scientific understanding. And yeah, you get to mock me for it. If you're an asshole.

A 17 year old girl in Sudbury was given a 1 in 3 chance to survive her cancer if she did chemo. She turned it down to try something else, a naturopathic treatment. And people are mad at her and really mad at the "quacks" who would take advantage of her. First, that's massively disrespectful of this girl and her decision making powers. She's likely going to die in a few months, and pardon the fuck out of her if she'd like to do it on her terms. But she has the audacity to not go with the status quo, and normally decent people are flipping their shit that she shouldn't get a red fucking cent. Because science.

Science offered her 1 in 3 of remission. Plus really really nasty side effects the whole time. I don't know which treatment she went for. Maybe one of pure quackery, maybe one that in 10 years will be the next thing (like cannabis was 10 years ago). Who the hell knows? Maybe it'll be a placebo. I don't care. Let her have it. What's a placebo anyway? A fake drug that tricks the body into feeling better. Great! She gets to feel better. Where's the harm in that? It'll give others hope in things that don't work? That's the argument? Someone has to be the one doing the work at the ground level, and if it's her volunteering, you should fucking applaud and give her $25. I did.

Science is awesome. Wonderful. Beautiful. It's given us antibiotics (remember how Pasteur was a quack until he wasn't?), anti-virals, organ transplants, lunar landings, plastics, canned food, iodized salt, and all those great things. I'm not anti-science (p.s. no one is. That's about as stupid as saying pro-abortion). In fact, I'm for experimenting outside the lines of conventional science because I'm not stupid enough to believe every word that comes out of scientific journals. Those things are refuted regularly, often flawed and often biased. If echinacea works when I take it (it doesn't, I'm allergic to it, but go with the idea), I'm going to fucking take it. If macrodantin makes me pass out when I take it, I'm not going to fucking take it. Even if science says otherwise.

I'm not saying everyone should sign up for reiki (though at least that one doesn't hurt anyone) or buy chlorine dioxide enemas (please don't), or any other alternative treatment. But next time you take a drug off label, remind yourself that it's no different from trying magnesium for seizures. You're taking a medicine based on the observations other people have. And that's pretty much what alternative medicine is. Treatment based on the observation of others. Hell, it's how Viagra was invented.

14 April 2015

Faith, religion and politics

I've got two ideas for posts rumbling around in my brain right now, and they're kind of connected, but I'm not entirely sure how. Bear with me. Or don't. I don't care. :)

As you likely know, churches are tax exempt. This is ostensibly because income that churches make is from their congregation and is meant to serve the community, so taxing it doesn't make sense. Why would you tax something whose sole purpose is to benefit the community. That said, there aren't any regulations on the spending of that money, and the church itself gets to decide what is a benefit to the community. Are anti-abortion protests a benefit to the community? Of course not, I say. Of course yes, say the Catholics. And what about the American mega-churches whose pastors can be paid hundreds of thousands per year, and their outreach is negligible? What of the churches who pretty clearly preach a political ideology? Do any not?

I've heard people saying religion needs to stay the fuck out of politics. Not possible. Literally impossible. Because religion doesn't exist in a vacuum. Our religious beliefs inform our politics. And they should. If my interpretation of my religious scriptures tell me that I must feed the hungry and heal the sick, my only option to make that happen outside my own personal sphere is political. I must vote for those who would do that. If my religious beliefs include a love of all people, I must vote for those who would not legalize or keep legal discrimination against those people. If my religion teaches a profound love and respect for the planet, I can't very well go voting for the party who would destroy the land for profit. And furthermore, if I were the minister, preaching the sermon each week, making the scripture relevant to what is going on today is going to be inherently political.

I have never, ever, heard a minister overtly tell me which party to vote for. I have heard "vote with your heart, not your wallet", "remember when you vote that the planet was God's gift to us, to live in harmony with, but not destroy", "God loves. Just loves. No exceptions. EVER. Remember that when you vote".

Yes, I know that some do get more overt than that. A clergy member who is a neighbour of mine sent me an email saying "Our Prime Minister needs our help", asking me (and the rest of his email list) to help out Stevil on something. I fired back a retort about how we need HIS help, and if we ever got it, he wouldn't need ours. I'm off the mass-email list. And yeah, I think that's crossing the line. Big time. I'm not sure how to crack down on that.

Churches are charities. They are bound to the same rules as charities. I'm good with that, except that I think there should be tighter rules on spending. Churches and other charities should be required to spend a certain amount of their income on actual outreach, helping people in some way. And there should be a salary cap on each paid employee. Most decent churches would not have a problem. The ones who would are the ones who are barely afloat. Two things could mitigate their situation: 1) Volunteer work in lieu; 2) lower the percentage on churches/charities with incomes under a certain amount.

Trying to cut politics out of religion just isn't possible. I can't even imagine what a sermon would be, if there were no politics. Bible study? A dubious "history" lesson? Church is where I learned about the solar energy project at the T'sou-ke First Nation and about the Ancient Forest Alliance. Sure, I could have learned about it anywhere, but I got a theological perspective on the preservation of the earth out of it that I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere.

And that was the second thing. A theological perspective of environmentalism. The minister talked about the creation stories (and made very clear that they were stories, not history) and what they meant to him as a Christian. Myth can hold a lot of truth without having a lot of facts. He taught that God gave us the earth as a gift, a living gift to love and treasure, not to have dominion over. I'm not entirely sure I agree with that. I'm more of a panetheist than that. I'd say that God permeates the earth. When we destroy the earth, we disrespect God. Destroy God? I don't know. But I do truly believe that we do not own the earth, we are part of it. And that as Christians, we are bound to preserve it.

And our ministers, our pastors, our preachers? Their job is to teach us, lead us, and set an example for us. They must preach conservation. Kindness. That the poor deserve respect. That all people deserve food, water, medicine, shelter, clothing, regardless of their incomes. That all human life has value. That the death penalty is immoral. All those things are political statements.

Paraphrasing a sermon I once heard: If politics and faith don't mix, there is something seriously anemic about our faith, or something seriously suspect about our politics.  Vote for the candidate or party who can do the most for your neighbour. Jesus told us to love our neighbour as ourselves. So think about your neighbour when you vote.


p.s. Just read that the minister at my church said of Crusty Clark: Forgive her Lord, for she knows not what she tweets. LOL.

03 April 2015

Good Friday

Good Friday to you. Good Good Friday? I dunno.

Good (i.e. Holy) Friday is the day that Christians commemorate the death of Jesus. Some of us think it happened as read. Some of us think there's truth in the story, but the story is not exactly true. As usual, I fall into the latter camp. I really think that taking the Bible as literal truth misses the vast majority of the message. Jesus was their hope. He was their plan for the future. And then he was gone. Hope was dead. A gut punch.

Ever feel like that? I kinda felt like that when Harper got his majority. And when Clark won the last election here in BC. Good God did I ever drink a lot that night. I think I drank two bottles of wine. And it wasn't sacramental wine. :) Because I was expecting she'd lose. I got my hopes up high (where they belong, I might add) that we'd get a new regime. A kinder, gentler one. We didn't. We got people who think the poor are lazy or stupid. We got people who think minimum wage shouldn't pay the very modest bills. We got people who can't understand why disabled people don't work more. And I was heartbroken.

A friend of mine suddenly lost her beloved almost 3 weeks ago. She knows the gut punch feeling better than anyone I know. She's grieving for the loss of all the time they expected to have together. She doesn't know how she'll ever climb out of the darkness. She will, because she's strong. But it won't be easy.

It's never easy. That wasn't the deal. Jesus didn't say it would be easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

And that's where we're at now. Trying to make our way without decent leadership. Without a strong, vibrant, healthy church (I don't think that's ever existed, somehow). 2000 odd years gone, and we still can't remember the basic idea is to love. Just love. Nothing more. That's the rule. And yet, in many places, we use the name of God to hate. That's the 1st commandment broken, btw. It didn't mean don't shout "goddamn it". It meant don't use God's name to promote your own agenda. Indiana passed a law allowing people to hate gay people so much that they can kick them out of their businesses, and they did it in God's name. It's quite literally nauseating to me that they do this.

And I don't fucking care what Paul said. Paul was not Jesus. Remember how often the apostles got it wrong, and Jesus had to tell them "DUDES. No. Let the kids come to me" Or, "DUDES. The guy in the tree just wants to talk to me. He's allowed." Or "DUDES. The lady who touched me didn't sully me. I healed her. Actually, no. Her faith healed her." And those were his buddies. I'm supposed to believe Paul (who by most scholars' accounts was more than one dude) was always correct in everything he said? Are you shitting me? Hell no.

I have to remember Easter. That hope will never die. That evil may have the upper hand, but it will never have the last word.

01 April 2015

What do we want? EVERYTHING!

Yesterday, I wrote about Autism Awareness. Today, I want to talk about what we need, as caregivers of people who are autistic:

Money. OMG, we need more money. Our blessed government gives us a significant tax break, and that really does help a family who makes a good living. It doesn't do much for those in the lower income brackets though. How they manage, I couldn't begin to imagine. And near as I can tell, BC is the best province to be in when it comes to autism. We get money we can access semi-directly (bureaucratic layer) to hire people to work with our kids, pretty much however we see fit. That's great, but once they turn six, it's only $6000/yr. $500/mo doesn't go far when the behaviour consultants all charge between $100 and $120/hr. I don't bother with them any more. I wonder who else doesn't. Speech therapy? Same. Occupational therapy? Slightly less, but not much. It's gone in seconds. I figure we shell out, from our own pocket, about $15,000 per year. And you know what? I could spend FAR more getting them proper treatment.

Compassion. OMG, we need more compassion. The next time you see a kid having a temper tantrum in a grocery store, assume he has autism instead of assuming his mother is a shitty parent. Even if she's standing there, reading a label while he screams. ESPECIALLY if she's standing there reading a label while he screams. Staring doesn't help. Smiles do.

Research. Yes, please, keep researching the causes, but better yet, work on treatments. No, I didn't say cures. I said treatments. Things like B12 therapy that work so well for some. Amantadine is a wonder drug for some. ADHD drugs work really well for others. Some do well on lamotrigine. I don't want drugs so that these people can be "drugged into submission", but rather to take the edge off of the compulsions or the sensory overload. So they can learn things and have conversations. Even if they're by iPad or letter board. Nothin' wrong with that!

Gender neutral toilets. Listen, my kid is only 9, and I live in a tolerant city. But when he's 13 or so, I'm going to start having a hard time taking him to the bathroom in public, and no, he can't go on his own. Please please please, gender neutral bathrooms like this one (at my church, of all places!)


Understanding. This goes along with compassion, but it's not quite the same. Yeah, I have different issues as a parent, and my kids have different issues as kids (and will as adults too), but that doesn't make it a tragedy. Don't say, "I'm sorry" if someone tells you their kid has autism. Please. I know it's hard to know what to say, so how about trying, "That should give you some interesting challenges!" with a big smile. :) My kids aren't a tragedy. Their autism isn't a tragedy. They're different. They have different issues, many of which need a LOT of extra help, but they're people. Full people.

PEOPLE WITH AUTISM, AUTISTIC PEOPLE, ARE PEOPLE. This shouldn't be a huge leap for people, but it seems to be. They are full people, with feelings, with opinions, with thoughts, with intelligence. Same as you and me. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they're wrong. Sometimes they're lovely wonderful people. Sometimes they're assholes. Sometimes they're compassionate. Sometimes they're rude. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

31 March 2015

Autism Awareness Day... again

Well shit. March is over. Snap turned 20. Pop turned six. And Crackle will be 9 tomorrow. Yes, my boy is an April Fool's baby. I despise April Fool's Day, btw. I fall for everything, and it's not funny. My best friend (for OMG 30 years now) was also born April 1. When I was in labour with Crackle, I phoned her and left this voicemail, "I'm having the baby on your birthday. Happy Birthday, that's all you're getting".

And the day after Crackle's birthday is Autism Awareness Day. I am very ambivalent about Autism Awareness Day. On one hand, people know very little about autism, and it would be lovely to teach them. On the other hand, that doesn't happen. Instead, people "light it up blue" and raise money for the vile Autism Speaks. DO NOT DONATE TO THOSE ASSCLOWNS. So many reasons why not, but the biggest is that they still support electroshock therapy. It's cruel. It's dangerous. It's sick.

So no, no blue light. Fuck them. What exactly is the point supposed to be? That we're all grieving? Puhleeze. Have you met my kids? They're fucking awesome!

But there is a lot of work that needs to be done in autism awareness.

1) Autism is a spectrum. If I see one more fucking article about how autism is giving companies a competitive edge... Gah. Not all people with autism are super-duper at math or obsessive about details. Some are, some aren't. Pretty please stop asking me what my kids' special skills are. They're kids. Their special skill is making messes. And Snap is really really good at sarcasm.

2) Yes, it really is a disability. Even if they're good at math and are able to talk. Being unable to read social cues well is a fairly significant disability. You try holding a job while having no idea if what you're doing pleases your boss. Seriously, think about it. You know all those little cues that you get watching people? The grimaces, the warning tones in their voice, the little smiles, the "fine" that means "SO NOT FINE"? Imagine not knowing any of that stuff. See how easy you have it.

3) There are almost always physical health issues involved. Some call this comorbid to the autism.  That is, it's a separate thing, that happens to lots of autistic people, but it's not part of autism. Some say it's part of autism, as much as being non-verbal is. That is, it happens to some, and not to others, but it's not a separate issue. Gut issues are almost universal in autism. Arizona State University found that children with autism have less diversity in the types of bacteria found in the gut than children without the diagnosis. Unhealthy gut bacteria lead to all sorts of issues, including diarrhea, constipation, etc. It also means an unhealthy immune system. It is my firm belief that this is why it appears to so many autism parents that vaccines caused the autism. Because they had a kid whose immune system wasn't working properly when they received their shots, and that made the autism worse. And if they couldn't see it yet, that means it seemed to appear out of nowhere.

3a) Many, but not all, autistic people have epilepsy. To me, that says that their neurochemical processes aren't working properly.

4) There IS a genetic link. It runs in families. One of my brothers is autistic. One of my sisters is autistic. All three of my kids have autism. Some autism can be conclusively shown to be genetic. There is genetic testing that will show deletions and copies of genes where they don't usually appear. The bigger the deletion or copy, the more affected the person. However, this doesn't account for nearly all of the cases. Furthermore, almost all autistic people have MTHFR gene mutations. That affects methylation - a metabolic process. Certain types of this variant can be treated with folate and injected vitamin b12. I personally know the mother of one child who was severely autistic (he screamed for many hours every day, was completely non-verbal, and flapped and spun almost constantly). With this treatment, he's now a wonderfully awesome kid with friends, social skills, and a full vocabulary. Yeah, he's still autistic. So? The point is that some parts of autism can be treated medically. And SOOOO don't tell me this wasn't autism. Just don't.

5) No one grows out of it.

6) No, a good spanking won't help. (Insert joke here)

7) No, an iPad will not fix everything. But feel free to give me one.

So that's a bit about autism. What we need is tomorrow's topic!

08 March 2015

Community quest

Holy smokes. Another month with no updates. Well, it's been quite a month. And the rest of March isn't going to be much slower either. This week was Pop's 6th birthday, which is a bittersweet birthday, because it's the end of decent autism funding, and the beginning of scrambling, and trying to get volunteers, i.e. People to work for free. :( The socialist in me hates this. The Christian in me doesn't mind as much.

I've been battling a bit of depression. Or that is, I see the dark hole coming, and I'm trying to avoid falling into it. So there's that.

Snap has been out counter-protesting at the 40 Days for Life Harassment protest. I went out there with her one day, and had my "This Christian Supports CHOICE" sign. I had no problems with the protesters except for scowls. My daughter and her friend? Not so much. The protesters keep getting in their space and then calling the cops on them. The cops have been okay-ish. But they're definitely treating the counter-protesters as the problem. Which is truly hilarious, because the community is definitely against them. People have been dropping off bags of shit when they stand. Literal bags of shit. The neighbours are furious and refuse to let the harassers park in their parking lots or driveways. But they offer Snap and her friend use of their toilets and bring them coffee. :) The community has spoken.

I've been lamenting the lack of community lately. I don't know if it's just Victoria or if it's changing everywhere, but community is changing rapidly. Or maybe it's me and that dark hole I mentioned above. Churches are dying. Community centres are just places to hold shitty classes and kids events. Most women work outside of the home now, so our informal support network is gone too. Unless we have friends we grew up with, it's pretty much impossible now. I have absolutely no one I could call in an emergency. And I've had a few. I sprained my ankle very badly last week. I had to pay people to come watch the kids for me. That was always what churches were for. Supporting each other and being spiritual together. Supporting the community in various ways.

And wooooweeee can I see why churches are dying. First and foremost is that women aren't around to run them. Most of us are at work. And so the church must adapt or die. And we're too goddamned conservative to change. We're desperately trying to hold on to the glory days of the 50s and 60s, and it's just not viable any more. We must change. And rearranging the pews and putting out brownies isn't going to do it. Sunday mornings are stupid. You know there's not one church with an even slightly tolerable theology that runs any time other than Sunday morning between 9:30 and 11? Not one. Gotta work? Fuck you. It's your one day off? Too bad. Your kid's soccer is that morning? Church is more important. Well, guess what? Not any more. Not to most people. And should you by fluke be available then, don't bother trying to join any groups, because all the meetings are on weekday mornings.

Ever been to a community event? Like a Christmas tree lighting or a farmer's market? Anyone talk to you? Yeah, me neither.

So, like I said, maybe it's depression. Maybe it's that there really is a lack of community. Maybe no one likes me personally. No idea. But I sure would like a group of women to sit around with, shoot the shit, take care of each other, and improve the world a bit. And I'm just not finding it anywhere. I can't even get more than two people at a time out to counter-protest the anti-choice shitheads. And that's pathetic.

09 February 2015

Hockey is not war

The display of militarism at the hockey game the other night was disgusting.  When did hockey games become the proper forum to honour war dead?


I have a theory, inspired by a random tweet I saw, that the Cons are trying to make hockey a conservative thing in the same way that the GOP has made Nascar a Republican thing. It's kind of fucking brilliant, actually, in a sick Machiavellian sort of way.

1) They own Sportsnet. That is, Rogers does. And Rogers is terribly conservative. They can get any shit they want on the air before a game. Games are watched by more Canadians than anything else. This allows them to sell their message, and to do it for cheap.
2) Canada is hockey. In a lot of ways, hockey is a big part of our national identity. If they can fuse conservatism with Hockey, they'll win forever. Think about it. Merge nationalism into hockey (it's already chock full of patriotic bullshit), and make the war effort part of the hockey culture. They've already got Don Fucking Cherry and his shit. For reasons I cannot begin to imagine, Canadians find that guy charming. He's a bridge troll. Somehow they think he's smart. It's bloody bizarre. As a sideshow, I don't mind him. But he's become the show, and his military bootlicking is becoming part of the game. It's scary.

I don't want to be the US. Why are they hellbent on making us like the US? If people wanted that, they'd go there, no?

06 February 2015

These Times

There's a song that's been going through my head for the last week or so, and one of the stuck lines is "I just don't want it...enough I guess". I don't know what he doesn't want, and I'm terrible at analyzing poetry or lyrics. Like embarrassingly bad. Then last night I caught an episode of Mysteries of Laura (AWESOME SHOW, btw) and the Laura was seriously tempted by the kisses of her ex-husband. God is laughing at me. I'm gonna get all philosophical and shit, so move on if that's not your kinda post. :)

I'm counselling someone right now. I'll call her Donna. She's going through some hard times, and she's a devout Christian, but not the kind I am. Her God and my God are vastly different in their ways. So I'm having trouble on that end of the discussions. Donna's beating herself up about a decision she almost made wrong. Does that make sense? She was in a situation where she was tempted to do something, and she decided not to, even though a good part of her really wanted to. She's beating herself up about this. She's decided that even wanting to sin is a sin.

Sin, by her definition is anything God doesn't approve of, and she gets to decide what God approves of based on her interpretation of scriptures and the things her pastors say. My definition of sin is doing something that violates your own moral code. That is, knowing in your heart that what you're doing is wrong and doing it anyway. In a way, our definitions are the same, since we're both deciding what is right and what is wrong based on our understanding of the world. The consequences for sin is where we differ massively. But that's another essay.

Donna feels like even wanting to do something she knows is wrong is a sin. We talked about how you can't do anything you don't want to do. You can't. Truly. If you're doing something, you want to do it more than you don't. Suppose my husband invites his family to stay with us, in our house, for 2 weeks. I don't want to spend more than a few hours at a time with them for various reasons, but I don't go find a hotel, I don't lock myself in my room for the whole time, or go to a friends. I suck it up and make nice. Because I want to. Because I want to more than I want to hide. Because the consequences of hiding are worse than the consequences of staying. So I do it. I want to do it more than I don't.

Even if that thing you don't want to do is being coerced from you, you want to do it more than you want to face the consequences. If you're being abused, and you want to leave, but can't because he'll kill your dog (I've heard that fucking story too many times. Fuck abusers!) you're staying because you want to more than you want to risk your dog. That's OK. That's more than OK. That's a perfectly valid reason to choose what you're choosing. Not that you need my validation, but I know sometimes, it's nice anyway. But I digress. The point is that you cannot do something you don't want to do at least a little more than you don't want to do it. Whoo. Convoluted. Let's try this" At least 50.1% of you has to want to do the action more than not wanting to, or you wouldn't be doing it.

Well, that backfired. She says that means that 49% of her is sinful. That she "sinned in her heart". Gah. Temptation isn't sin. If we weren't tempted to do the wrong thing the odd time, we'd never ever figure out what is right and wrong. And furthermore, I told her to remember when Jesus was in the desert and Satan tempted him. He wasn't sinning. She said that he wasn't truly tempted. He never seriously considered it. And furthermore, it wasn't Satan tempting her, it was herself, a horrible sinful side of her that just wanted to run free and fuck the consequences.

And that's where I almost started to cry. 

Fundamentalism and literalism have so seriously warped the message that even the most basic stories fail to teach in any useful way. On one hand, good for her for taking responsibility for her wants, for not blaming it on Satan*, for not going with The Devil Made Me Do It. On the other hand, if she could see that Jesus's temptation was exactly the same, that it wasn't a literal incarnation of evil suggesting to Jesus that he didn't have to take the hard route, God's way, the Light Side, whatever you want to call it, she could maybe forgive herself for considering what she considered.

Part of Donna's problem is fear. She's afraid that if the situation arises again, she may not choose the right thing, that the part of her she wants to quash will be stronger than the part of her that she wants to be. She's not sure she can resist that temptation again. (She can. She wasn't even close. But she doesn't know that. Donna, I swear. You weren't close.) Fantasy isn't sin. Fantasy you consider acting on, isn't sin. Fantasy you set up and almost act on, isn't sin. You don't have to feel bad about that. And that's what she's doing. She's feeling guilty about something she didn't do so that she can remind herself not to do it in the future.

We don't even have to feel bad about shitty things we did. *wince* Controversial? Probably. There are a lot of people who think that if you don't feel bad, that means you'll do it again, or that you think it was okay to do that. Whatever that was. Suppose I screamed "fuck off!" at a child. Not cool, right? Of course. Do I have to feel bad in order to know that? No. I can look at that behaviour, decide it wasn't right, and wasn't who I want to be, and not do it again. I don't have to use unhappiness to prevent myself from doing it again. I don't have to remember how bad I felt in order to drive myself into not doing it again. No one needs to. We do, myself included sometimes, because it works, but we don't have to. There are other ways.

Sometimes I wonder if some people who beat themselves up about a bad decision aren't trying to pre-punish themselves so God doesn't have to. Or if they think that God is punishing them by making them feel bad.

The world is a hard enough place to navigate without punishing ourselves for sins we didn't commit, but kinda wanted to.





*I don't believe in Satan, but she does. For me, Satan is a useful metaphor for our own desire to give into things that aren't right. 

28 January 2015

Let's Talk

About corporate welfare and greed that preys on the charitable values of humans.

Today, one of the wealthiest corporations in Canada is "sponsoring" an event, where they will donate money (that they can then write-off as a tax deduction) to a mental health charity if you advertise for them for free.

And I'm the asshole for pointing this out.

There is no question whatsoever that there needs to be a national conversation about mental illness and the stigmatization that comes along with it. There is no question that doctors are ignorant about it and corporations even moreso. Do you know what Bell does for its employees who have mental illness? Nothing. NOTHING. And about 7 years ago, they cut health benefits for their retirees. Oh, the champion of mental health care, Bell. Fuck Bell. Corporate toads.

What kills me, is that if big corporate entities just paid their fucking taxes, we wouldn't need charities for what should be basic health care. Why in the name of all things holy doesn't the government step up and pay for mental health care the way they should? Oh, because they "don't have the money". Right. So make the fucking corporations pay their fucking taxes. Bell spends a fortune trying to get out of their taxes. Fuck Bell.

You know what's worse? Any money we donate to this shit, the company gets a tax break. They're literally making money off this. And because people are dying to do something, we let them get away with this shit. Seriously? We allow Bell to profit while pretending to do something, because we feel so powerless. And then when people like me point this out, we're called cynical assholes and told, "Well at least they're doing something". GAH. No, they aren't. A tiny drop in the bucket when they could actually do something? It's like Mr. Burns giving the employees their precious tartar sauce. It's like giving a cosmetics company money so that they'll give part of it to cancer research for you. Oh. People do that too? *headdesk*

You want to do something? Here's what you can do: You know someone with mental health issues. Yes, you do. Phone them. Reach out. Let them know they're not alone. And if you truly can't think of anyone to call, donate some money to a homeless shelter. Hand out food and socks in the street. Because chances are, you'll be directly helping some mentally ill people there.

Then write your MLA. Write your MP. We need to demand a national conversation. We need to refuse the status quo.

Because youth are dying at a higher rate than ever before. A few years ago, a young man lit himself on fire (and died) outside of the hospital, while on the waitlist for help. The situation for youth is grim. There are long waits for service, crappy service when you get it, cut-offs when they're stable 'enough', no help transitioning to adult services. Parents quit their jobs to look after their mentally ill kids. And let's face it, poverty isn't going to help the situation any. And where is Bell on that? No where. Do they give their employees leave to look after mentally ill kids? Fuck no. Fuck Bell.

And then there's the problem of what services exist for the mentally ill who cannot work but aren't sick enough for inpatient services. Sweet. Bugger. All. Where's Bell on that? Oh yeah, no where. They're supporting the Cons, who would even cut what meagre services they already have. Fuck Bell. You know how much a person in BC gets for disability per month? $907. Nine hundred and seven dollars. The extra seven just seems cruel. For a Christmas bonus, they get $25. It's insulting. How the fuck do you live on $907? I've yet to see a bachelor suite for under $625 where I live. And so fucking help me, anyone who wants to tell me that they should move to cheaper markets (I have honestly been told that. Several times. By stupid conservative voting dickbags who don't know that people can't just move away from their support services when they're mentally ill. Not to mention they truly might not be able to afford to move.

So here's the situation for an average mentally ill person:
Can't work or need accommodations to work. Job doesn't care.
Go to doctor for help. Doctor throws prozac at you or tells you to just cheer up (or stop worrying. Or stop being so flighty. Or stop looking for attention.) If you're "crazy" enough, they'll get you on a waitlist for help.
Go to government for help. They've got nothin'. No money, they claim. Then they spend billions on sports and give tax breaks to oil companies, telecoms, banks, and other extremely profitable corporations.
Try to distract yourself with some mindless TV. Oh, they're demonizing the mentally ill on TV again. Great.
Talk to a friend. Friend tells you to take a vacation. Get some time for yourself. Just cheer up. Fake it 'til you make it.
Still waiting.
Lose friends.
Lose job.
Try to get by on $907/mo while the government and media call you a lying moocher.
Start to wonder if you're a lying moocher, because you're not thinking straight because HELLO MENTAL ILLNESS.
Talk to another friend. She recommends the church. They recommend praying.
Still waiting.
Getting sicker. Body getting sick now too, because can't eat well on $907/mo.
Losing hope.
See well-meaning people tweeting about mental illness like they know something about it, and seeing Bell, the company that fired you for being mentally ill, sponsor this bullshit.

FUCK BELL.

Major h/t to @torquilcampbell on Twitter, whose tweets I missed very much. But if I find out that he for one second knew what his radio coworker (he whose name I will not speak) was up to, I'll cut him. From my Twitter feed. Yeah, that's what I meant...

20 January 2015

Spousal support

Since we seem to be reasonable people, talking at cross-purposes, and since I think this is an important subject, I'm going to lay it all out here.

Spousal support. Someone said she thinks it's only right to abolish spousal support, because the spouse claiming it should get a job instead. She's generally right. There are exceptions. I think I'm one of them. (Of course! It's always... Never mind. I really do. I have a good reason, and it isn't greed.) It's actually cheaper for him.

Now, Tony and I are fine, so this is a moot point, but lots of women in my situation aren't doing so well. I see them suffering, and it kills me. We are raising severely disabled children who can't attend school. And our unpaid labour is so undervalued, it's ridiculous.

I'm not going to disclose my financials here, but I'll go with the numbers a dear friend supplied me just a week ago (she's okay with that because "no one reads your stupid blog anyway". :)) She's in a similar situation.

Household budget - special needs :
mortgage: $1000/mo (LUCKY)
food for 5: $850/mo (multiple food allergies)
utilities: $250/mo (no cable)
car insurance: $100/mo
gasoline: $100/mo
incidentals: $200/mo
TOTAL: $2500

Kids' budget:
Childcare - $4500/mo (It would be a LOT more, if his insurance wasn't paying. And frankly, those kids need more than they're getting. Which Mom knows.)
Medications - $$450/mo
TOTAL: $4950

Her husband pays $3000/mo child support. She's supposed to come up with the difference. She can't. Because she isn't employable in a job that pays enough to do that. She makes $15/hr and works 50 hours per week. Because she hasn't been employed for years. So the NT kids don't get lessons or extras or new clothes. And the disabled kids are suffering mediocre care by people who care, but let's face it, don't love them.

Now, take the childcare out of the equation. Have Mom stay home, the way she always did. Suddenly, we're at $2950, total. LESS than his child support payments. AND she stays home, guaranteeing the kids better care than they're getting now. AND she can make a few dollars on the side working from home after they sleep.

Keep in mind, this isn't going to change when they turn 18. They won't be magically cured. They'll still need every last bit of support. And the court won't mandate it. He'll still pay, because he's a decent enough guy (I hope).

It's better for everyone. Her, the kids, him.

I know another case or two. Like when the wage earner up and leaves when the stay-at-home spouse is 65 years old. Or when the stay-at-home spouse is disabled.

But yes, I absolutely see the possibilities for abusing the system.

It was put in place as a lifestyle thing. "I got accustomed to living in luxury..." Yeah. Whatever. And yes, we're living in an age in which women generally do have choices. But there still is very much a patriarchy, and it is still very much in play. And so I think there are some considerations necessary, especially for women who gave up careers to work unpaid at home, and don't have many options left.

02 January 2015

Happiness and New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is better to you than 2014. Even if 2014 was awesome. (It wasn't). I wrote an essay. Read it if you like. Don't if you don't like rambling.

I don't like doing the Year in Review thing. I simply don't care. It's over. It's done. Fuck it all. I do like looking forward a bit.

This year, I plan to write more, help my friend with her YouTube channel, read more fiction, and meditate more. In the kids' lives, I am continuing homeschooling the boys, and starting something called Rapid Prompting Method with Crackle. I'm going to try to get back to visit my Mom again (she's recovering from complications from open heart surgery).

I'm also going to try to find my big girl panties, put them on untwisted, and get the fuck over some shit I've been angry about for far too long. That might involve some of the meditation and writing.

This blog entry has been entirely for me so far. Sorry. (Not sorry).

Oh yeah, and there's that. I'm done being dishonest for the sake of harmony. I can either believe that I can affect other's emotions or that they're in charge of their own reactions. I can either believe that what others say and do can affect me or not. It's not both. Did you see the clip on the Daily Show of the woman on Fox News who said that what the US does can put their troops in danger, but then a few minutes later says that what the US does has no effect on other countries? A lot of people walk around with that cognitive dissonance. There are people who think that what they say has no effect on others, but expect others to be kind and respectful to them, because anything else would hurt them. There are those who are the opposite. They think every word coming out of them has the power to affect people, but that nothing coming in can hurt them if they don't let it. It's kind of mindblowing. More common though are the professional victims/abusers. The people who think that words can hurt them without their permission and that their words can hurt others. I reject this flat out.

The only thing that can hurt me is my belief about words. Call me a skanky whore, and I will laugh it off, because I know a) It's not true; b) It means you're a sexist pig. Call me something I know to be true, say, "fat ass", and I will say, "Yeah, and?" because it's factually correct. I have a fat ass. So? It doesn't bother me because DUH. That you think it's an insult speaks to your character, not to my ass. And if my fat ass is something that bothers me, well then that's my own beliefs about my fat that need work, not you and your attitude. Though, maybe that too, but it's unconnected to my reaction.

 Call me something I secretly fear, and I will cut you. Because it's scary. Because you might be right. And then my feelings about myself bubble up. Or I might decide to feel crappy about myself. Suppose I'm scared that I'm a really selfish person (I'm not, but let's pretend). You tell me, "Luna, I'm sick of your selfishness! You're always selfish!" OMG OMG OMG. What if you're right?! What if I am a really selfish, horrible person? No one will love me! I don't love me! I'm a horrible person. Or I can figure out what you think is selfish, decide whether I am doing that thing or not, and stop it if I am. And if you don't like me, well, feel free to leave. It's fine.

And no, this isn't carte blanche to insult people or be an asshole. Because we all know that other people have beliefs that they use to feel bad about things. If I know that many fat people are really sensitive about it, for totally valid reasons, and I decide to use it as an insult, I'm a jerk. Don't be a jerk. There are kind ways of saying most things. Lying to be kind, no. I won't do it anymore.

Lying to be kind. What a weird concept. I will tell you a lie in order to prevent hurting your feelings, even though I don't actually have that power, only you do (because if you decide you no longer believe that it's a bad thing, whatever it is, the truth will no longer hurt). What I'm really deciding is that I'm too uncomfortable with your honest feelings. Or that I'm afraid you will not like me anymore if I am honest. Well, if I'm not honest, you're liking a version of me that isn't really me anyway, so then I have another problem. Managing your feelings with lies. And I'm done. I will not manage anyone's feelings with lies.

And this leads to my latest pet peeve in the progressive communities. Apologies. Apparently, most apologies aren't good enough. Now we have to grovel, admit we knew it was wrong in the first place but did it anyway, swear never to do it again, and then do some selfless act to prove our sentiment is sincere. That is the only acceptable apology and it sucks. I know that it's partially because we've seen and heard so many apologies that were just words meant to appease, with no actual intent to do anything different (other than not get caught next time). I 100% know that. But it's backlash, and I won't do it. Because again, I will not be in charge of your feelings. If I say something unkind, I will apologise for being unkind. If I say something honest, but from love, I will not apologize for it. Even if you are angry or sad. I might say I'm sorry you're sad. Because I will be. Much like I'm sorry for your loss when you're grieving. If I say something stupid, I will apologise for my stupidity. I will not apologize if you decide to be mad at me for something I do not think was wrong. I will not be responsible for your feelings.

No words are inherently offensive. Words only carry offense because of the beliefs about them. Shared or otherwise. I am offended by the word retard, when used as an insult. Because I believe that means that the person using it is dangerous to the welfare of my child. Because when retard is an insult, people with developmental disabilities are granted a little less worth by society. My sister, who also has a dev.disabled child does not believe that, and uses the word freely. It infuriates me. Of course, the proper way to say that would be "I choose to be angry about this". Because I do. Because the belief that the word hurts my child serves me.

The word cunt is not inherently offensive either. It's only offensive because we live in a patriarchy we are trying to dismantle, and cunt is a reminder of others' feelings about women. Eliminating the words doesn't eliminate the sentiment. But eliminating the words DOES prevent that method of propagation. And so the use of the word is (usually) offensive to people with the belief that patriarchy is a bad thing. That's okay. The belief serves us in our goal.

But if someone calls me a cunt privately, or the cashier refers to the government as "a bunch of retards" (Yep, that happened), I can choose not to be angry. I can inform the person calling me a cunt they are no longer welcome in my life, and I can tell the cashier that when she uses retard as a slur, she's saying that people with disabilities are lessers. I did. She gasped and said she didn't mean it that way. I smiled and said, "I know, but that's the effect anyway. Regardless of your intent." (And then I explained it a little more in depth). She said, "Really? Oh man. I will NOT say that again." The next time I saw her, she smiled and told me she had only said it once since, and immediately stopped herself. Intent really actually does matter. Had I gotten angry at her, demanded a "proper" apology, talked to her manager, etc., she'd never have changed and I'd have been angry.

If you want to be a victim your entire life, dear comrades, please, by all means continue to believe that others are in charge of your happiness. If you want to be happy, figure it out. Only you and your beliefs can affect your happiness. And you can change any belief you want to. Not that you necessarily should! Like I said, some beliefs serve us in having a civilized society. Things like "Rape is bad, don't do it" are probably beliefs you don't want to give up (please don't!) But maybe you want to give up the belief that if it happened to you that you have to be hurt and scared forever. I did. It was one of the best beliefs I ever changed. Not that I'm saying you have to. Or that there is any proper way to feel. I'm saying that a lot because I want to be perfectly clear.

Really, there's no one saying you must choose happiness at all times. No one is saying, hey, your dog just died, be happy! (Well, I'm not anyway). You'll be unhappy until you decide that life can be good without your dog. You'll still miss the old guy, but you'll be happy again. Because subconsciously, you decided it. You could decide that immediately, but most of us don't, because our beliefs serve us. And we won't give them up while they do.

So I'm giving up the belief that I have to be angry when people say things that offend me. I do not have to be angry. I might choose to be. But I do not have to be. I am giving up the belief that I owe anyone anything. Ever. And that anyone owes me anything. Ever. Especially apologies. No apologies are ever owed. If they are owed, they are not freely given.

I'm also giving up on the idea that I have to be angry to care. Fuck that. Harper is destroying Canada. I do not have to be angry (I can be, but I don't have to be) in order to work for change. I'm tired of seeing, "If you're not mad, you're not paying attention". It assumes too much. Think about the underlying assumptions! That events can and, worse, should make me mad. That anger is required to change things. That satisfaction and happiness are the same thing. That if you're happy, you don't care. Let's take those apart.

Myth: Events can and should make you mad.
No. Events cannot make you mad. Your beliefs about the events are what make you mad. Your belief that the event is bad and you're scared and you lash back in anger. Your belief that the event requires an angry response. Or that anger is the appropriate response. Or any number of other beliefs. But it is only your belief that is causing your anger. Proof? No single event makes every single human angry. Terrorist attack? Small group of very happy terrorists and a whole lot of people who don't care. It is only our belief that what the terrorists are doing is a bad thing that makes us angry. And again, that's okay. We're allowed our anger. But we are not required to be angry. The attacks on NY in 2001 didn't make me angry, and I didn't choose anger. I was sad. I'm not wrong for my angerless emotion. And my friend isn't wrong for his anger. But anger is not required. Ever.

Myth:  Anger is required to change things.
Let's go with the Harper example. I don't want him to be re-elected. Like at all. Like, I'd rather blow a senator to get inside information to bring him down. Unfortunately, no senators have made such an offer (Looking at you, Nicole Eaton... Ew. I just made myself sick.) I can be completely unsatisfied with what is going on, without being angry. Of course, I can also decide to be angry and use my anger as a driving force, like the phrase intends. But why? Why angry instead of happily hopeful?

Myth: That satisfaction and happiness are the same thing. 
I think this is the one that causes the most trouble for a lot of people. You ever see a weightloss community? "I won't be happy until I lose 35 lbs!" Why not? Why not be happy with your body as it is, right now, and attempt to lose 35lbs? I think there's an underlying societal belief that if someone is happy, they will be complacent. That happiness equals satisfaction. I'm happy with my kids. They're awesome. And hell no I'm not satisfied. If Pop never learns to read, I'll love him and I'll be happy with him, but I'll keep trying to teach him, because I won't be satisfied until he's an adult and is allowed to make his own decisions about what he learns. (This is not an issue. Pop is learning to read just fine.) If Crackle never learns to talk, I'll love him and be happy with him, and I will find another way to communicate with him. I will not be satisfied until he can tell me everything. But I will be happy. Because what fun is a Mom who is never happy until you do what she wants and then finds something else she's not happy about? None. And what's more, I don't want to be unhappy all the time. I don't want my happiness to depend on what my kids are doing.

Myth: If you're not upset when I'm upset, you don't care.
Christie Clark, shitbag that she is, is fucking over the BC environment (and a lot of people in it!) And people are mad. And some aren't. And the ones who aren't are accused of not caring. Some don't. But their lack of anger is not evidence thereof. I'm not mad. I'm disgusted. And I'm trying to make sure it doesn't happen. But I'm not upset. Because that won't help me. I can't use anger to drive myself in this situation. Anger paralyzes me. Except when it unhinges me. And you know what? I don't even have to be disgusted. I can decide that she thinks she's doing what's right, disagree with her vehemently, and work toward making her dream die in the fires of hell.

TL;DR: I will work on being happy and loving. Drop the idea that others are responsible for my feelings. Drop the idea that I am responsible for others' feelings.

27 December 2014

The most wonderful time of the year... *snort*

Merry Christmas! I know, it's the 27th. Where are my 3 French hens at?

It was a busy season, and all went as well as can be expected. Crackle still hasn't opened his gifts. He refuses. No idea why. Pop ripped through his in about 4 minutes on Christmas morning. He squealed with glee at the Lego sets. :)

I like Christmas because it's the rebirth of hope. I hate Christmas because it's full of expectations that I can never ever achieve. So I set forth to have a Christmas of no expectations. It helps, but basically, around here, Christmas is just another day. Only there's more work, and less help, because our employees inexplicably want to be with their families. I know, bizarre!

My stomach is a mess, which makes eating difficult. So there goes that Christmas tradition. Drinking? Well, that also is difficult, but more worth it. Ha. Besides which, with all of our allergies, I'm already cooking more or less everything we can possibly eat. You know, there is not one single meal we can all eat? Not one. Near as I can tell, the only thing we can and will all eat is potatoes. Seriously. That's it.

I'm tired. I'm probably depressed. And mostly, I just want Christmas to be over.

30 November 2014

Hope and hackers

Hope! It's my favourite topic, and it is the theme of the first Sunday in Advent. It's my favourite service of the whole liturgical year. To say I have high hopes for the service is both lame, amusing, and ironic (as is my use of both for three items). I was not disappointed today at Cadboro Bay United Church. The minister, who I'm not sure about yet, had a pretty good sermon. The pictures with it included the instantly iconic picture of the black protester hugging the white police officer. It also included pictures of the protest on Burnaby mountain. They were given as examples of hope, even against something that seems hopeless, like racism or the reign of corporate power.

I lost hope briefly, but I'm back. Thank God. It was rough there for a while.

Hope is everywhere. It's in little things like small random acts of kindness, to big things like the election of the first black president or the return of sovereignty to native lands. I even have hope for the scam artists who call me at 10pm to tell me that hackers have taken over my computer. First, I keep them on hold for a long time and then when I can't delay any longer, I tell them that they're good people and should get a better job where they don't have to hurt people. Usually this ends in them slamming the phone down on me. The other night, it was... different.

I tweeted it on Nov 27. It was the best thing ever. At 10pm PST, the phone rang and it was some dude with an Indian accent of some sort who told me he was calling from Microsoft, that my computer was "infected by hackers" and that he could totally prove it to me. I told him that the computer would take some time to start up and would he hold. Then I went and got a glass of wine and took the phone to bed with me. I left him on hold for about 10 minutes.

Finally, I took a sip of wine and said, "Okay, it's on. What should I do?" He directed me to the Event Viewer and had me tell him what was going on the whole time. He told me to press the window button, and I told him my windows didn't have buttons. Hahaha. Oh man. I made him explain the windows key so many times. I was having a hell of a time not laughing. I told him there were 1600 events in the viewer, and he said, "Oh my goodness, Ma'am! Oh my goodness. 1600 hackers are in your computer! We must get them out. The hackers have control of your computer!" I lost it laughing. I mean, I just started killing myself laughing. He said, "What is so funny, ma'am? The hackers, they have control of your PC!" I said, "There's no hackers. You're good. I'll give you that. I'm not stupid, I know that the events in the event viewer have nothing to do with... " "Yes, they do! It's hackers!" "Dude. This is beneath you. There are no hackers. My printer throwing errors is not hacking. You've got to be better than this. Get a different job, an honest job where you're not scamming people for a living. You're a good man, right?"

He didn't hang up. I swear it. He didn't hang up. He said, "Do you think I am a fucker? Huh? Huh? Well, I am. I am a fucker. I love my job. This is a great job. Because it pays me good money." I said, "Money? That's it? Come on. You don't care about hurting people? There's other work out there. Good work." He said, "THIS is good work. I don't care. I have no ethics. I don't believe in karma or whatever. I only want money." I said, "Oh, that's so sad. No ethics at all? Why not? You can change that you know, you can be a good man!" And then it got really weird.

A new voice cut in, and it may have been the old voice trying to affect an American accent, but it may have been someone else entirely. He said, "Did you know this call has been monitored for quality control?" I dissolved into gales of laughter and said, "Oh this is just the best. Oh my god." He said, "This call has been monitored by CIBC." Hahahaha. Okay, so when I stopped laughing and caught my breath, I said, "CIBC, like, the bank? Or?" He said, "You haven't heard of us?! Are you an ignorant? [sic] Bitch, are you scared? Are you pissing your pants? You should be!" Oh, I was pissing my pants laughing, but no, not scared. So then the guy says in this super ominous sounding voice, "Isn't it Thanksgiving?" "No. That's in America. HAHAHAHA! You don't even know where I live. And I thought you knew all about my computer!" I mocked him. Then the first voice came back and said, "Are you having a good day, ma'am?" (what?!) I said, "Oh yes, fabulous. This has been a wonderful day and this just tops it off perfectly! This was awesome. Wow!" He said, "Um... really? Okay..." And then they put the phone down on me. They didn't hang up. Just set it down and let me listen to the background noise. Exactly like I did to him in the beginning. It was awesome.

Best scammer call ever.

I highly doubt I changed that guy's mind, but here's hoping I planted a seed of doubt! :D

And I swear on my children's heads, I am not exaggerating, I have not taken poetic license, and every word is true. I may have had to paraphrase some quotes (though every word in the Twitter version was exact. I left out stuff there, because it's Twitter, but every word was uttered), but it happened exactly like this, and it was fabulous.

18 November 2014

Inhospitable hospital

I've been away to Saskatchewan for a week and a bit. My Mom's health deteriorated and she had a heart attack. The doctors determined that she needed a triple bypass and a valve repair. So I went out there to be with her before and after the surgery. Turned out she needed a septuple bypass, a valve replacement (mitral valve), and a valve repair (aortic valve). She's doing okay now. Moved from SICU to Cardiac Surveillance to a regular ward. Now she's just got to get the fluid off her lungs and get a bit more strength, and then she can go home.

A few observations I have:

1) Regina General Hospital was far cleaner than either of the Victoria hospitals.
2) The parking situation at RGH is a nightmare. It's terribly expensive to park in the lots and so people try to park on the street. RGH is in a rough neighbourhood, so going out to the car after dark is a bit scary. However, security is happy to walk someone to the car. Also, the people who work in the parking booth are amazing. One of them recognised that I'd been there a few times, and told me how to save money. When I explained that because of the holiday, I couldn't get a pass, and the day before, I didn't know about it, he took two days off the price of the pass and set me up with one. Saved me a fortune.
3) Every single medical professional I talked to was kind, polite, and forthcoming*. That has never ever happened to me. Not even when I was there before. SICU had "family rounds" which meant that 2 family members (i.e. my brother and I) were allowed to be there when the team did rounds. For someone like me who has no trouble with medical terminology, this was fantastic. My brother didn't understand anything except the summary, which was a dumbed down version of what they'd said.
4) Hospital food is still remarkably sub-standard. Grape drink? Really? Water, sugar, food colouring and artificial flavour? That's supposed to help someone get well? Pork? For a heart patient? Really? One of her meals literally looked like something my dog has vomited. I mean, truly, literally, it looked like dog vomit. It was "beef stew". ICK.
5) The view from the SICU waiting room was a trailer that housed an MRI unit. The roof of the trailer was held down by cans of gravel. I'm pretty sure they could use a bit more funding! Wow.

There was one doctor who was/is an asshole, but I didn't talk to him. Here's the story, and it's kind of funny. Unless you're my Mom. Dr. Duffy told Mom that she should say "God Bless You" to her surgeon when he visited after the surgery. Mom isn't a God Bless You kind of person, but she did it. After he left, I looked at her and asked her why she'd said that. She told me that Dr. Duffy said she should. I started to laugh, and she looked baffled. So I told her. Her surgeon? Dr. Moustapha. A Muslim. Mom was horrified and embarrassed, and felt like a complete idiot for not knowing (She also thought Dr. Selim was "Mexican or something"). Mom might be dreadfully ignorant about some things, but she's not a jerk about it. She'd never have done that had she known. So while it's hilarious on one hand, Dr. Duffy is a complete dickbag on the other. My poor Mom was just trying to be nice.

Also, it's weird but it was far less stressful to be there with Pop and my Mom than it was to be at home. That's definitely something to work on! Home should not be a source of stress.

The etymology of the word hospital amuses me, because hospitals are about the least good at hospitality.

27 October 2014

But bitches be crazy!

I'm sitting in my van (which is named Halen, because how could it be named anything else, when it rocks so hard and is totally undervalued) while Tony takes Crackle to the dentist. I'm phobic, so it's best I don't go in.

And I'm thinking about the Ghomeshi story, and the PR of abusers. They usually don't have the money and power this one has, being able to afford a high powered firm, but they are always running a PR game, discrediting anyone making an accusation, often before they make it. And people fall for it, hook, line, and sinker.
And look what it gets them! Uncritical support. And what do the victims get? Rape threats. Death threats.
 And they can't win. If they go to the police, their names become public and their lives are ruined. If they stay anonymous, they're not credible. Just look at any comment section you can stomach.

Which is bullshit. By the way, Toronto Star, adding that they are well-educated and employed suggests that their social standing should have an impact on whether I believe them. Fuck you for that.

I believe them. No, I don't know for a fact that he did it. But I believe them. Just like those who believe he is innocent believe but don't know. Sadly, I'm in the minority.

And why? Why is it so easy to believe women are crazy bitches, making up stories to smear wonderful men, instead of believing that men might be abusive assholes, hiding their nature, running a PR game on everyone? Why is liar easier to believe than victim? Several reasons.

1. Misogyny. Systemic misogyny. It's easier to blame women when the societal narrative supports that belief. Women are lying, scheming, screech harpies because that's what we're often taught to believe. They're set up to fail at rape accusations. From the simplest details like whether they provide a name or not - Presumed lying if they don't; presumed attention whore if they do. And look at that language. Women-only insults for this sort of thing.

2. Denial for self-preservation. For a fleeting few minutes, I played the denial game and believed his story. Because I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe he was one of those guys, an abuser, a rapist. Because I liked him. And I hated thinking that I didn't know. And quite honestly, because I didn't want to accept the reality that this happens all the time. I didn't want to believe that it happened again.

And then my bubble burst. In about 3 seconds of critical thought. It's not about me. It's not even about him. It's about women who wanted to see him stopped, without destroying their own lives.  And so, I believe them and I support them. Because they have nothing to gain, everything to lose, and I admire their courage. Ghomeshi doesn't need my support. He's rich and powerful and male. He has all the support he needs.

17 October 2014

Random thought about privilege

Another random thought about privilege. Being white, cis-male, and straight doesn't mean you don't get an opinion on minority issues. It means your opinion is irrelevant. Maybe pull on your big boy pants, and reflect on what it feels like to have your opinion ignored.

You can TOTALLY think that random racist/sexist/transphobic/ablist comments are completely harmless and unoffensive. And when someone informs you otherwise, your choices are to change your opinion and not do it again, keep your opinion and still not do it again, or keep your opinion and continue to do racist things.

I love people who can easily change their beliefs. Confronted with new information, they just jump on it and go with it. Blackface is not okay? Dude. Sorry. Let me wipe that off right now. Hey, Jim. Dude here says our costume is offensive. Wipe it off, okay?

Choosing to keep your opinion but still not doing the behaviour is totally okay, btw. I've done it plenty. I don't understand why LOTS of things are offensive. I don't need to understand. I'm told it is, so I don't do it. Because my opinion on the matter is irrelevant. Sure, education is great, and I do try to learn. But sometimes, it's not appropriate to ask and sometimes I don't understand the answer. So I STFU and don't do that. I wish I could think of a good example offhand. Maybe the -ed on transgendered vs. transgender. I get the logic, but I don't see the problem as a big deal. But guess what, my opinion on the matter is utterly irrelevant because I'm not trans. I don't get it. I have cis-privilege. What I do know is that it's considered offensive by the people actually involved, so I don't do it. Even if I don't really understand. I call that "Not being a douchetree". And I don't sit on Twitter or Facebook arguing about why I'm right. Furthermore, when I hear others do it, I suggest that they don't. Because even if I don't understand, I can signal boost.

There's a difference between "I don't get it, but I won't do it" and "I won't do it, I think you're being utterly ridiculous and I'm going to tell you every chance I get what an over-sensitive sucky baby you are". The former shows respect. I respect that when a member of group X says, "Don't do that, it's Xist" it's probably Xist, even if I know 10 others who don't care. I had a friend in high school who said, "Oh ferfuckssake, I'm Indian. STOP with the native/aboriginal/FN shit. I'm an indian and you can just say that". Great. And I did. With everyone. Because I was young, arrogant, ignorant, and a bit of an asshole. And then someone finally clued me in in a way that I understood and I stopped that shit.

And then there's the massive fuckpuddles who think that their opinion is correct, don't care to learn, and don't give a rat's ass if the people around them are hurt. Beautiful example: gypsy costumes at Halloween. It's a culture, for fuck's sake. Not a costume. These people are treated like shit all over the place, and wooo, let's dress as a caricature of them for Halloween. Told someone that. She said I was being ridiculous and she'd dress however she wanted. I told her to go for it, but not be surprised if someone told her she was an insensitive asswipe. Seriously, if you're okay with people thinking you're insensitive and uncaring, go to it. Be gypsies or geisha girls or harem girls. Be sure to paint your face and wear eagle feathers. It's your right. And it's mine to call you out on it.

There's another post brewing here about the very notion of offensive. Stay tuned. :)

15 October 2014

Anti-Feminst Women.

I just do not understand anti-feminist women. What is in it for them? Is it that they have creepy sons that they're trying to protect?

I've noticed more of them lately. There was one odd conversation on FB yesterday in which a man was standing up for feminism and an anti-feminist, horribly misogynist woman. Baffling. And I can't find it again, but do look at this:


What the everlovin' fuck? Okay, so I responded.
All she had to say about that was that I'm a feminazi, ignorant and arrogant. Okay... I mean, if she's so anti-feminist, shouldn't she be serving her husband somehow? Why is she allowed to read? Where do they draw the line? Does she have a job? If so, how does she wrap her brain around that? Does she get paid as much as the men doing the same job? If so, does she not realize that it was feminism that made that happen? And if not, is she okay with that? Really?

I just can't even. When it comes to that kind of hypocrisy, how can she stand it? How does her brain not collapse in on itself. The disconnect is just astonishing.

13 October 2014

Some notes on privilege

Privilege. No one likes admitting that they benefit from it. Many with it won't admit they have it. And there are different kinds of privilege, all of which people like to pit against each other.

Luna, wtf are you talking about?

Good question, me. I'm a little bit jumbled about on this topic and can't seem to make my brain create the words to describe what I want to say about it. I'm only going to talk about white privilege and class privilege for this. And that's barely scratching the surface. There's also gender, sex, thin/fat, ability, and any number of other issues.

Maybe we should do this by question and answer? First of all, wtf do you mean by privilege?

Sure. Why not? Go for the hard question first. Privilege: When something inherent about a person grants them special "rights" (i.e. privileges) and makes things easier for them. A certain awesome author and blogger described it in terms of the video game of life, where privilege gives you an easier difficulty setting. Straight, white male = easiest difficulty setting. You can fuck it up, you can still lose, but when all else is equal it was easier for you. There are other random variables that can make the game harder, like addiction, abuse, poverty (which I'll come back to), but in general straight white cis male = least amount of difficulty navigating the game.

But surely wealth and class is also privilege! Poor white folks have it as bad as black people and first nations, right?


Yes, class privilege is real. No, it is not the only privilege out there. Being poor and white has plenty of advantages over being poor and black. Or poor and Cree. Or poor and any visible minority. Seriously. Yes, I know cops are shitheads to people who look poor. But if you're poor and white, you're not as likely to end up on a Starlight Tour than if you're poor and aboriginal. And when was the last time a white person was mistaken for a burglar in his own house?

You say class privilege is real, but then don't describe it. You're not very good at this, are you?

No. And that's why you're asking the questions. Of course, it's a huge advantage to have lots of money. And POC who are also wealthy also have class privilege. They have access to the circles of power that poor people of any colour do not have. Telling white people who are dirt poor and wondering where they'll get their next rent cheque from to "organize the white allies", to change things within the white power structure, is patently ludicrous. They have no power. A rich black guy has way more pull in the power classes than a poor white guy. And a poor black guy has even less. And is more likely to get put in prison for trying.

Are you suggesting that there's a privilege hierarchy? So rich + white > rich + colour > poor + white > poor + colour?

Um, yes and no? Yes, in some circles. No, in others. That hierarchy is likely true in cases of "trying to effect change within a power structure" and completely untrue in "trying not to get killed at a traffic stop". In the former, money = power. That's why Barack Obama can be president of the USA and Oprah is one of the most powerful women on earth but white privilege is still very real and being black is a disadvantage. Just try shopping while black or native. Do ask Forest Whitaker about that. Rich black guy accused of shoplifting. When was the last time that happened to a rich, white guy? Right?

I was watching people argue about this on Twitter last night, and someone said that white people can do it just by going down to goodwill and buying a suit. They'll get in to places black people won't. Um, bullshit. I'm sorry, but bullshit. No. First of all, a goodwill suit will barely get you through a job interview. Ask any poor person trying to get a job - if you don't look the part already, you don't get the job, and people know the difference between a goodwill suit and an Armani.

Another example: When was the last time a poor person was elected to anything? Never. You cannot get elected without a lot of money. That's just how it works. And I mean a LOT of money. I do pretty well, and I wouldn't be able to afford to run for provincial politics. Municipal even. Oh yeah, I could run for mayor, put up my signs, go door to door, and have no hope whatsoever, because the incumbent has MONEY. Money he spreads around everywhere. Unless that guy is caught... I don't even know what would take him down. He's white. Drinking and driving? Nope, that got Gordon Campbell an ambassadorship to the UK. Even though it was rumoured he had a second family on the side (girlfriend and kid in Hawaii, is what I heard). Gay scandal? Nope, wouldn't matter in BC (and that's a good thing). Fucking the babysitter? Nope. See Vic Toews. Stealing from other rich white guys? THAT might do it. Because money and the knowledge of how to use it = power.

The knowledge of how to use it? What? 

Yeah, it's not enough to be filthy, stinkin' rich if you want to be powerful. If you want to change the power structures from the inside. Even rich and white isn't enough. Suppose you won $50M and your goal was to raise awareness of disability issues in the public schools, effecting change in a way that would make public schools more accessible to people with a disability. How do you even start? You don't have the connections of someone born to it. You don't have the knowledge of the system passed down to you from your parents. And you may not even have much of an education. The latter can be bought. The other two? Not so much.

Remember the example of the Armani suit? Even if you're lucky enough to score an Armani (ha!) that fits (HA!), the second you open your poor, lower class mouth, you're out. They know you're not one of them the first second you speak if you don't have the education to speak in their register.
Now, again, you're not likely to be arrested, beaten, or killed for it if you're white. Not as good of odds if you're a POC. And that leads us back to the race problem. "Oh, he's so well-spoken!" = "Huh. I expected AAVE! [as if there's something inherently wrong with AAVE] He managed to speak a whole two minutes without saying motherfucker! Good, good black man!" Being black and educated enough to speak the upper class register is treated with suspicion, disbelief, and amusement. At least until that guy proves himself well enough. It's bullshit. And a perfect example of white privilege. A poor person can't get access and a rich person with an education can. But a rich black person with an education has a shitload of prejudice to wade through. And that shitload is too thick for a whole lot of people.

Class != Money. Class is inherent, something you're born to. It's evident the second you open your mouth. Unfortunately, if you're a POC, you may not get the chance to open your mouth.

So what was your point again? Give us the TL;DR version!

My point is that white privilege doesn't trump class privilege in all cases. And class privilege doesn't trump white privilege in all cases. And we really need to stop fighting amongst ourselves about this. Poor white people have obstacles. Poor people of colour have more obstacles. Class is privilege. White is privilege. Education is privilege. None of these alone will grant a person magical access to the world of power and control. Telling poor white people to just change things within their communities is not ever going to work. They have no power. Oh sure, white people get weaker sentences in the criminal justice system, better jobs, and a whole lot of freebies. But they have no more ability to change society than a poor black person. Okay. Slightly more. Like how a canoe has a better chance of getting across the ocean than a dinghy does, because the people shooting at them can't sink the canoe like they can sink the dinghy.

You're rambling again. I said I wanted the TL;DR version, dammit!

Take D&D. If you have a strength of 18 and dex of 17, that'll get you a long way in fights. But if your charisma is 2, good luck getting a deal on the sword you want.

It's not linear. Class privilege gets you farther in some parts of society than white privilege does. White privilege gets you farther in some parts of society than class privilege does. And that's just if you're a straight cis male. If not? Good luck, sister!

-----
edited for clarity

28 August 2014

Women and children

Ahh the lazy days of summer. Almost over. Well, unless you're a kid in BC. Then who knows how long this mess will go on for. My kids aren't in the public system. For so many reasons. Most of which could be fixed with better government funding. But I'll be damned if I'm going to sacrifice my kids' education (and safety!) for ideology. Yes, I'm part of the problem, pulling my kids out and going to the private (and subsidized) system. Too fucking bad.

Here's how to fix it: Give the teachers everything they're asking for except the wage increase. The government gets to say they're helping kids. The teachers get to say the kids are their first priority. The kids actually get some funding for things like text books (My daughter had to share a text book in Grade 12!) Everyone wins.

And speaking of everyone winning, any chance that women could get some decent healthcare in this province? No? Didn't think so. Listen to this shit. Kids are not allowed in the ultrasound room**. Not even well-behaved kids. No chances to try. Kids under 10 may not be left in the waiting room either. So a quiet 9-yr-old needs a babysitter. Or in my case, a quiet 5 year old named Pop. This is highly frustrating because this means the parent in charge of child care (usually the woman) has to pay $10/hr or more to go get a simple test done. It's not a sterile environment. It's not a situation where the patient is sedated and unable to care for the child. It's simply company policy, and it's bullshit. What if I didn't have the money? What if I didn't have a person to look after my kids? When I was pregnant with Pop, Tony had to take time off work to watch Crackle during my ultrasound. Tony couldn't watch the test, like most Dads get to. We are spectacularly lucky that Tony has a union job and was able to take time off for that. Had he not, it would have cost a lot of money to get that ultrasound. And maybe I'd have skipped it. Is that a good idea? Hell no. As it is, this ultrasound is going to cost me $30 in babysitting. Which isn't much for me, but geez, if one of my neighbours in low-cost housing next door needed this, what then?

Ahh women and children. Just useless members of society anyway. So who cares, I guess.

**EDIT: No, I'm not pregnant! If I were, I wouldn't be going for an ultrasound. I'd be going for an abortion.
edit 2 for testing.

19 July 2014

Don't tell me how to behave

The news of last couple of weeks has been astoundingly bad. Israel invading Gaza. A plane carrying almost 300 people is shot down, likely by Russia, and now rebels won't let investigators near it. Another girl was roofied, raped, and mocked on social media for it.

And I've been happy. I know, according to the internet quiz I took on a whim, this makes me a terrible person. Only being utterly miserable in the face of others misery is acceptable. Especially for a woman.

But you know what? No. I can be happy while still saying none of these things is okay. While still recognising the tragedy and pain that others are experiencing. And in fact, I think I can do it better, because I'm not caught up in my own pain about it.

TOOT TOOT. Sorry. That was my horn. I was blowing it.

I believe in happiness. I think it's the only way to make the world a better place. I also believe that many people use anger as a motivator, and think they need to. More power to you if it works for you! No judgments here. I was an angry person for a lot of years, and I'm not judging myself for it either. Nor for the times when I still get angry! I've just decided I'm done with it, and if others want to be done with it too, that would be lovely. If not, cool. Go about your business. :)

It just seems to me that angry people make mistakes when they act in anger, not quiet determination. Of course, I could be projecting. I have made a number of truly spectacular fuckups when acting out of anger. The kind that I suspect people might still be talking about 20 years later when they have those "What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you..." conversations. "Well, this one time, this crazy lady stomped past my secretary into my office while I was in a meeting with the university president and the board of directors, and yelled at me over a parking pass problem. She started throwing things at me, and I had to remove her, without making it look to the board like I couldn't handle a 19 year old woman without violence. She was CRAZY." -- University Director of Security

It seems to me that the vast majority of the shit that happens in the world happens because people are scared or angry (and I still think anger comes from fear). Russia shot down the plane out of fear that it was a Ukrainian jet coming to kill them. Or because they needed to assert their power and dominance. And now the rebels are blocking access, to do the same. Because any opportunity for a warring faction to show power and dominance is taken. To do anything but is to appear weak.

Those boys raped that girl not so much out of anger or fear, but out of an inability to see her as a human. That's a different kettle of fish. That's patriarchy, and the societal need to hold on to it. The system is designed to give power to men, and one of the best ways to do that is to make women so utterly invaluable as to be worthless as a human, but rather a thing to play with, a toy. They weren't consciously thinking that when they did it (I assume!) They'd just been taught via our society that women have no worth. That's societal fear. Patriarchal fear that if women are treated fairly, equitably, or even as human, that they might take some of the male power. And that fear is bred into boys without there ever being any real feeling of fear or anger on the boys' part. It's incredibly insidious.

Israel invaded Gaza... I don't know why. I don't know what in the hell they could be afraid of. Not having all the land in the region? I have no idea. But it's certainly happening because they're angry. Look at the rhetoric floating around. They hate the people of Gaza. And why? They can't be particularly afraid of the rocket attacks. They've got them so blockaded they won't ever manage to build power. So what the hell? I don't know.

What I do know is I refuse to hate them for hating. They're a bunch of angry people doing angry shitty things. And while I'm a wee bit afraid of the world devolving into another world war over this, with my ridiculous Prime Minister choosing what I think is the wrong side, I refuse to be miserable. I refuse to add to the misery of the planet with my own.

And you know what? I'm tired of being told how I "should" behave or react to things. We women get this more than men, but men get it too. We're told by both men and women to be "classy" (see @lindywest's Twitter feed last night). We're told that we should smile more. That we should swear less. That we shouldn't talk so much. Should talk more. Shouldn't interrupt. Should interrupt more. Should be nice when we say no. Should be more forceful when we say no. That we should mourn differently than we do. That we should joke differently than we do. (Women comedians aren't funny, you know! Pfft.) That we should lighten up. That we shouldn't lighten up.

To hell with it all. I will swear when I want. I will fart when I want. I will eat what I want. I will wear what I want. I will brag when I do something awesome. And I will joke about my shortcomings when I don't. I will believe whatever I want to believe, rational or not, because if it makes me happy, I don't give a shit if it's true. And especially, I will feel how I want to feel and I will make no apologies for it. I will be happy even if the world is going to hell around me. Or I will rail and scream and stomp into the office of ... okay, maybe not that one unless it's significantly more important than a parking pass clusterfuck. But I will rail and scream and swear if I fucking feel like it. And fuck decorum. Fuck classy. Fuck patriarchy. Fuck the so-called feminists who want to tell me how to behave. I will laugh at that sexist joke if I find it funny. I will tell someone I found their joke disgusting if I find it disgusting.

I guess I'm just not that nice. Or so Buzzfeed tells me.

12 July 2014

A Senate Solution

A simple solution to the Senate problem:

The popular vote achieved by each party is equal to the percentage of senators the party can appoint to the Senate.

- No party may appoint any senator without at least carrying 5% of the vote.
- No party may appoint a candidate who has lost their riding in that, or the previous election campaign. i.e. If Joe Con loses to Jane Lib, the Cons cannot appoint Joe Con to the senate for 8 years.

Problems? I mean, other than that it just makes too much sense for anyone in government to take seriously...

Conflicting message

And I wonder why I'm self-conscious about wearing a bikini, sitting in my fenced backyard, because a neighbour might see my flabby belly from the window.


Conflicting messages much?

10 July 2014

Lies, damned lies, and...

Statistics. I am so tired of hearing shitty science extolled as good science by people who are trying to point out shitty science. Convoluted, no?

Okay, so it's like this. Some study comes out showing a correlation between X and Y. Not a causal relationship, but a strong correlation and a note in the study saying more research is necessary.

Crazy Nutbars Who Can't Distinguish Between Correlation and Causation (CNWCDBCC) jump on this study and scream WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y!
Snarky Motherfuckers Who Know Less About Stats Than They Claim (SMWKLASTTC) start snarking that correlation != causation, and conclude that X cannot cause Y, because crappy understanding of Science.

Listen SMWKLASTTC, in an observational study, a strong correlation is required for proof of causation. It is not the only requirement by a longshot. You also need to have a well-designed study, consistency (hence the "more research is necessary" in the study), dose-response relationship (more people exposed, more people affected), reversibility (remove the potential cause and the incidence rate should decline), biological plausibility and coherence with known facts.[1]

It's those last two that have the SMWKLASTTC crowd screaming. It's not plausible, blah blah blah. Remember when rheumatic fever was most emphatically NOT caused by strep? Yeah. That was what science said then. Now it doesn't. Because they proved it, and changed the known facts.

And what's really important is controlling your study. Removing or randomizing associated factors and doing so with a large enough sample isn't easy. Especially when studying the cause of Y (Cancer, autism, OCD, roseacea, obesity, warts, whatever). Because human genetics aren't easy to control for if you don't know what you're looking for.

Suppose for the sake of simplicity that we're looking at whether the sun causes skin to burn. We get a nice random sample of people from all around the world, and they're all sorts of natural shades, from ivory to black coffee. We've got hundreds of thousands of people, because we're awesome. But we don't know anything about melanin, because we're not scientifically advanced enough yet. All we know is that in 15 minutes in the sun, only a tiny fraction of our millions in the sample are burnt. So we conclude that the sun doesn't cause burns. Nope. Because science! Because stats!

Oh, but we left them out for another 15 minutes, and all of a sudden, a lot more of them are burned. Oh, huh. And it's only the pale ones. But there's no reason for this (remember, we still don't know about melanin), so the pale ones must be having a psychological reaction. Because science! Because stats! But the CNWCDBCC are screaming WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y! Crazy nutbars.

And then someone comes up with the idea of melanin. Crazy bastard! EVERYONE knows that pale redheads are just psychologically weak. But eventually, the idea catches on, and he proves that it exists. Huh. Cool. So the sun does cause burns in short periods of time. But only in people who are genetically sensitive to it. Well, I'll be damned! Science was wrong! New info! The correlation between being in the sun and getting a burn was actually causal all along. But until they knew about melanin, they couldn't prove it. And the crazy nutbars? Well, lucky guess, right?*

And what's worse, is that the same motherfuckers who swear that X doesn't cause Y are the same ones that love to jump into an argument about obesity and scream that overeating is the cause of obesity because of that whole calories in/calories out bullshit lie. They holler that eating too much and obesity cause diabetes, even though there is no causal link proven. There is a strong positive correlation. But they pick and choose. Much like we all do, I suppose. Some correlations we assume to be causal and some we don't, based on our beliefs. But if you're going to get sanctimonious with me about suggesting that I'm going to stay away from X because of its correlation with Y, and claim I fail at science, I am so going to do it right back at you.

So stop that shit. If someone tells you vaccines or glyphosate cause autism, strep causes OCD, aspartame causes cancer, eating sugar causes diabetes, sniffing farts prevents cancer, or that wearing shoes will give you cancer*, feel free to tell them that current scientific consensus says that's not true. And when they yank out some study that shows a correlation, feel free to remind them in as condescending a tone as you can manage that correlation doesn't imply causation. But do try to remember that correlation doesn't exclude causation either. There may be some factor missing in the studies and those crazy nutbars may one day be vindicated. You know, like the ones who insisted that cigarettes cause cancer. The ones who were certain that epilepsy was physical, not psychological. The ones who said BPA was dangerous, even in tiny amounts - especially in tiny amounts. The ones who screamed that the poor air quality was giving them asthma. All of those crazy nutbars who couldn't prove causation until they did.

*And of course, sometimes the crazy nutbars are just crazy nutbars.
[1] http://learnandteachstatistics.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/proving-causation/
I picked my links more or less randomly. Fair warning! :)