01 October 2015

Ban the necktie!

Today in Montreal, a pregnant woman wearing a hijab was attacked, thrown to the ground, and had her hijab torn off by two teenagers, in a disgusting bit of Islamophobic hate. I'm mad. I'm mad because I'm scared of what Canada is becoming.

The government is whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria in an attempt to win (steal) another election. They made a big deal out of Muslim women wearing the niqab at the citizenship ceremony, all two of them. Ever. They act like this is some sort of incursion into Canadian ideals. What bullshit. The incursion into Canadian ideals is the government telling women what they must wear! Canada's a free country, right? So where the fuck do they get off telling women they're not allowed to wear what they want?

Ban the necktie! It's literally a great big arrow pointing to a man's penis! Terribly offensive. No? Ridiculous? Why?

"Ban the niqab!" I've seen that particular sentiment in a lot of places. Why? Some argue that women wouldn't wear it if they weren't forced to. There are several problems here: 1) The idea that Muslim women have no agency whatsoever and that the government should step in to help them dress appropriately for Canada; 2) The idea that Muslim men are such animals that they force their wives to dress in a restrictive way; 3) The idea that the government should have the right to tell women what to wear, despite their own protests to the contrary.

Now, I don't quite understand the desire to completely cover one's face. But I also can't imagine wearing high heels unless forced to. Those are actually quite oppressive. They damage feet and shorten the achilles tendon. And yet, women choose to wear them. Why isn't the same possible?

Some say that Islam doesn't require women to cover themselves. Okay. So? Does Christianity require women to cover their hair? No? So why do Mennonites do it?
"But I want you to understand that the head of every man (that is Christian men and women) is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head" (1 Cor. 1:3-6).
So some women do. Most don't. But some do. Now, I know that niqab and hijab are not the same, and the government is not complaining about hijabis. But I'd like to see a poll on how many conservative Canadians want the hijab banned too. Especially in light of today's events. The pregnant woman who was thrown to the ground was wearing a hijab - face uncovered.

Other than the utter disrespect for Muslim women here, the most troubling thing for me is the government overstep. I do not want the government to be able to tell me what to wear. Ever. Dress codes for work are bad enough. Societal pressure is to dress "appropriately" (seriously, define appropriate for me.) Christian women have clothing marketed to them for dressing modestly (Holy Clothing, for example.) Get Jason Kenney in power for 12 years or so, and see if society's idea of what is appropriate doesn't start becoming a lot like that. Suddenly the dress code at work says skirts have to be below the knees by 2 inches. We already have to wear pantyhose in most jobs. Oppressive, itchy, uncomfortable, annoying, expensive pantyhose. I do not want the government influencing our clothing choices more than they already do.

Did you know that toplessness for women is legal in Canada? When was the last time you saw a topless woman outside of her home? Hell, when was the last time you went to a friend's house and saw a topless woman INSIDE her home. Our breasts are so sexualized that we do not uncover them in front of any man except our husbands and sometimes our doctors (though I know a number of women who will only see female doctors). But for some reason, we can't get over the idea of women covering their hair for the exact same reasons, in the exact same way! Some women go further than covering just their breasts. They won't show cleavage. They won't wear things that accentuate them. They cover their belly too. Hmm, much like how a small fraction of Muslim women cover their mouths? No? Why not? It's ethnocentrism, pure and simple.

You know what else it is? Misogyny. It is women being targeted in this latest bit of fear. Our rights. Our agency. Our lives. When you tell women what they can or can't wear, saying that their husbands shouldn't force them to wear these things, you're becoming the Daddy who tells us what we should or shouldn't wear. Women don't need anyone to look out for us. We're good. Now sure, there are abusive Muslim men. There are abusive Jewish men, Christian men, Hindu men, etc., ad nauseum. There are abusive men. Men who abuse their wives and control their actions, right down to their wardrobe. But answer me this, how many Canadian men do you know who would be okay with it if their wives went out topless? Or in a belly shirt? Or in a micromini? Or a bikini?

And do not give me any crap about how this is Canadian values. Beyond what I already said above about Canadian values including freedom, this just isn't that! Before Harper and his crew of Islamophobic dickbags started whipping up this fury of hate, almost no one gave a shit. But this past week, I was in Saskatchewan. I grew up there. Muslims were not exactly welcomed with open arms, but there wasn't hostility toward them either. I had a male Muslim friend - no one blinked when we were together. People were ignorantly racist, but not hatefully racist. Neither is good, but the latter is worse. Now? Wow. I saw a woman wearing a hijab walk through Victoria Park in downtown Regina. One person spit at her (but was a coward and waited until she'd walked past and didn't see). One person snarked, "Go back to Pakistan", and two others just glared at her hatefully. I was stunned. My own damn brother, who doesn't give a shit about politics and brags about not voting (ugh!), was watching a hockey game and he rewound it a few seconds to say, "Look. Do you see what's behind the bench?" I said, "What? A bunch of Flames jerseys?" (They were the away team, and I thought maybe he was whining that they got the good seats). He said no, it's this "piece of shit." It's was woman, in a really pretty hijab. I was floored. His stupid girlfriend (who is university educated, I might add) said, "Oh, she's wearing a babushka." Hijab, I said. She asked me to repeat it twice, and said, "Oh well, I just call it a babushka." *sigh* My brother started on about how this is Canada and this is disgusting. I shut him down, of course. But I sure didn't change his mind. The words he spoke were almost right out of Stephen Harper's pasty face. My completely apolitical brother.

And my point? My point is that when the government says things, people listen. Even people who don't give a crap about what the government says. It gets to them. And it's dangerous. If anti-Muslim sentiment can bring two kids to beat up a pregnant woman, and it did, it can affect all of us. Anywhere, any time. We must not allow the government to dictate what women can wear. Not even if we agree that those clothes are oppressive.

17 September 2015

No Harper, No Debate

So the Liberals are having a grand old time trying to bring down Mulcair because of his unwillingness to debate without Harper present. I've said it before, I'll say it again: It's a fool's game to debate an absent partner. Especially one who has such control on the media.

When it first came out that Mulcair wasn't going to be in the debates that Harper already wasn't part of, I was choked. Especially the women's issues debate. I mean, why do we need him there to talk about it? Right? Wrong. It's not that Mulcair won't debate Trudeau and May. It's that he won't debate without Harper there. So why not?

Think about your average debate. The moderator asks some questions. The candidates answer with some bullsshit, and then call each other out on their bullshit. Then they respond to the call outs with more bullshit. Now imagine Stevil isn't there, but is watching. He doesn't have to answer any questions. Instead, he gets to do all the calling out. But he also doesn't get called out on his bullshit call outs. He gets to control the dialogue, from start to finish. Dangerous!

So again, Harper answers NO questions. But still gets to use media to do all the rebuttals. There's no immediate chance for the other parties to do any damage control. Trudeau and May might be willing to play that game, but I think that's a big mistake on their part. Their words will get spun into complete misrepresentations. People who won't vote for Harper, but don't like what they think Turdeau said, they'll just stay home. Or they'll vote Green, which is basically a throwaway vote in most ridings (I'm sorry, Greens. It just is. Vote NDP this time, and we'll get you Proportional Representation, and then you can be more fairly represented!)

Where is the shouting about Harper's unwillingness to talk to the media or be part of the debates?! Where's the outrage? Why does the media continue to play his game, despite all the changes to the rules? Why aren't they shouting him down with questions everywhere he goes? It's terrifying. But instead, we're focusing on Mulcair being unwilling to let him control even more of the national dialogue? Really?

Look, I'm well and truly not a fan of Mulcair's. I don't like his stance on a number of things (cough*Palestine*cough). But so far, there have been no dealbreakers. Bill C-51 was a dealbreaker for me with Trudeau. Spin that however you want, he voted to take away my right to privacy and to destroy my charter rights in a number of areas. Deal. Breaker. Stevil... well, there was never a hope I was voting Con. I'd rather leave the country (and would have when he won last time, but surprise, it's not easy to find a country to take in a family with three special needs kids!) May? Well, I don't particularly trust her on labour issues, nor on pro-choice issues. But most of all, I don't want to split the vote AGAIN and end up with the bastard coated bastard with bastard filling Conservatives. I'd love to see her join forces with the NDP, but she seems to be a Liberal with Green undies.

So yeah, as much as I'd like to hear what Mulcair would have to say in a debate without Darth Steve, I don't think it's a good idea. It was a brilliant trap on Stevil's part though. Damned if you do, damned if you don't? Beautiful. Nice job falling for it, Libs!

13 September 2015

Medicare for Autism?

There is a group called Medicare for Autism Now who are rallying hard to get ABA therapy covered by medicare. This would be an absolute catastrophe, so I'm doing some writing.

My letter to candidates:

I am writing to draw your attention to the Medicare for Autism Now campaign. Their website is http://www.medicareforautismnow.org/ The campaign is advocating to include Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy under medicare, as they believe that it is a medically necessary intervention for Autism. I understand that they have been writing all candidates, asking of their support. I urge you to not support this endeavour.

I am strongly opposed to this campaign. I cannot state strongly enough how much I do not want ABA therapy covered by medicare.

I believe that every child affected by autism should have quality therapy available to him or her. However, there are several problems with their campaign.

  • The only therapy they want to see covered is ABA therapy. They actively oppose any other therapy from coverage. Should medicare cover ABA, other therapies would be out of pocket for parents, and that would be highly detrimental to children who do not thrive in ABA.
  • ABA therapy is already considered the “gold standard” treatment, a sentiment I disagree with most strongly (see below). Doctors already recommend it, and are less than supportive of any other therapies. This is a problem.
  • ABA is explicitly decried as abusive by autistic adults who were put through it.
  • Parental choice would be removed as governments would remove funding in place for other therapies such as Floortime, Relationship Development Intervention, and Son-Rise. Proponents of Medicare For Autism Now claim these are not scientifically backed. This is untrue. For example, see Houghton, et al (2013) here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021992413000518
  • ABA is not scientifically sound. The studies that prove its efficacy are out of date and used “aversives”, i.e. punishments such as shocks, slaps, etc., which are thankfully not used any more.
  • The goal of ABA is full, unassisted integration into the school system, for which they claim a 1 in 4 success rate (without substantiation, I might add!). Dismal goal. Dismal success rate.

I recognise the very great need for good therapies for autistic people. None of the provinces fund it properly. BC is by far the best, and it’s severely lacking. Kids are going without good treatment, and in many provinces the only funded programs are ABA, run by governmental agencies. It truly is a short-sighted disgrace.

BC provides parents with $22,000 for kids under 6 and $6000 for children 6-18. Parents can have providers bill the government for up to those amounts. There are all sorts of problematic restrictions, and the $6000 is a bit of a joke. $500/mo buys one hour of speech, one hour of occupational therapy, and 10 hours of behaviour intervention. If you’re lucky. Apparently the school is supposed to provide the therapies needed, but that doesn’t happen. My non-verbal child runs away, eats non-food items, and is drawn to water, doesn’t qualify even for a full-time aide, never mind any therapies. Our family spends about $12,000 per year out of pocket for aides and other therapies. Most families cannot do that. Given the rate of autism is now officially 1 in 68, this is going to be a major problem when these children become adults who need full-time care.

I propose an alternative to the Medicare For Autism Now campaign. Rather than funding ABA and only ABA, adopt the BC model under the medicare system, because Autism is, at least in part, medical. Provide parents with a billing number and allow them to hire therapists and behaviour interventionists of their own choosing as contractors who invoice the government for their services. Have the wages of the therapies be set so that parents are protected from dishonest providers who would overcharge. Set up a cap per year, but allow parents to roll over what they don’t use. Don’t end coverage at 18. Autistic people aren’t magically no longer in need of services when they become adults. This would allow parents to choose their therapy, choose their therapists, and have control over the spending. No one would be coerced into ABA because of lack of alternatives or funding, but it would still be an option for those who choose it. It would save money in the long run because when children get good early intervention, they require less adult care.

Thank you for your interest. I hope you will see how this project, though well-intentioned, will cause more harm than good to the people it endeavors to support.


Luna's Legal Name


10 September 2015

Weighty matters

Life got weird for me a few months ago. On a whim, I went and listened to a wooooooo type energy healer guy. I wanted to see what they were about, get a funny blog out of it, and what the hell, it was cheap and I'm a bored housewife, that's what we do (joking! I'm a homemaker, not a housewife). I'm more or less convinced he's just the best therapist ever, and it can be passed off as magic. :D Anyway, I got lots out of it and started just listening to myself. And all sorts of shit started happening. The most obvious thing is that I've dropped about 20lbs. It's kind of cool. Seriously weird though.

Okay... I'm going to ramble rather honestly. Be forewarned.

I grew up in a house where fat was BAD. Where the sentence, "She's so wonderful. Too bad she's so fat" would happen. And I wasn't thin. I wasn't obese, but I wasn't thin. It was scary. What if I got fat? Would they still love me? (duh, yes!) Would I still be beautiful? Would I get a boyfriend? A husband? Would men still admire me? (this mattered terribly to me! I took all catcalls as a sign that I was still desirable.) So naturally, I got fat. It started with birth control. Then quitting smoking. Then having babies. After my first baby, I was up to about 210lbs. Then I hovered around 198lbs (size 18 or 20 on me) for years. Eventually that came down and I was at 175 lbs when I got pregnant with Crackle. Then Pop came three years later. And I was about 185 for another 6 years. Since April, I've dropped 22 lbs.

And here's the thing, I changed *nothing* except I sorta pay more attention to when I'm hungry. It's kinda weird. Doctor says I'm fine. But I think he's just pleased I'm in the "healthy weight" category. Of course, that's pretty much bullshit, but whatever. I feel good, so I'm not worried.

What is the most weird is the utterly odd relationship I have with my body. I still think of myself as FAT, obese, overweight, gross, flabby, icky... I went in to get new jeans, and when the shopgirl said, "Hmm, about a size 12?" I laughed and said, "More like 16". She raised her eyebrows and said, "I don't think so." She got me a 12 and they slipped on. And I did a happy dance. And then my inner feminist slapped me upside the head.

I'm a feminist, dammit. And I've internalized all the fatphobic bullshit. Terribly. I mean, don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking at other women and judging them for it. I was looking at them and pitying them for the way society treats them, and that sucks too.

And what else is weird? Other than this weird "my impression of my body doesn't fit with reality" feeling? People keep complimenting me on it. And getting really fucking mad at me when I say I just stopped exercising and dieting and decided to eat whatever the fuck I want, but really really paying attention to not eating if I'm not hungry. Like, they're happy for me if they think I deserved to lose weight, but furious if it happened for no reason. Jealousy? Or just angry that I didn't deserve it? I dunno.

The "stopped exercising" part? What's that about? Basically, I decided I hate it. It doesn't feel good when I'm doing it. It doesn't feel good after. I don't get a high. I don't get any tangible benefit (though there may be some I don't see) so I decided fuck this shit, I'm not doing it any more. I might hike a bit when it cools down, but only because I love sitting on the top of hills or mountains and meditating. Or singing. Which gets a wee bit embarrassing when I get caught, but only for a second. No one ever fails to grin. And that's fun.

I'm a little scared to gain it all back. Mostly, I don't care. But every once and awhile, I get a panicky feeling. And it correlates with the praise. Whenever someone praises me, I get a jolt of "OMG! They thought I was gross before! What if I gain it all back, as so many do?!" It's bizarre!

We're going to Saskatchewan to visit family in a few weeks. My Mom will definitely comment on "how good I'm doing". Mom... God, she tries. :)

My sisters-in-law will be terribly jealous, ugly jealous. And I must say, the latter at least gives me such joy. These were the women who would make comments about how much weight people were gaining, "She looks like the goodyear blimp!" and I'd say, "Uh, she's smaller than I am" (i.e. SHUT UP!) and they'd look at me, tilt their head to the side and say, "Oh, Luna..." (well, okay, they'd use my real name) in the most pitying damn voice. And now both of them outweigh me by a good 30lbs, and I'm gleeful. It's mean, and I'm definitely going to work on that before I go out there!

28 August 2015


If y'all have been reading this for more than this post, you'll know I have disabled kids. One of them profoundly so. I spend a lot of time and energy working at getting him accommodations to get by in the world. Special Education Assistants, IEPs (individual education plans), quieter showings of movies, disability day at the fair, getting through airport security, safety equipment, etc. We're in the process of trying to get him an autism support dog, and that'll mean a lot of places will have to accommodate his support dog.

And still yet, the hardest thing is food. Crackle is 9. He has the impulse control of a dog in a squirrel den. He is incapable of resisting yummy looking food. He either doesn't understand how sick it will make him, or is unable to resist despite the knowledge. He will take a cookie right out of a stranger's hand, and put it in his mouth. And I don't mean the stranger was offering it. I mean, it was the stranger's cookie, and she was going to eat it herself. He is ridiculously sensitive to gluten, corn, dairy, and a few other things. And that cookie would lay him out for a month. Not exaggerating. A month. The first week would be

I can't take him to church because there is food at every event and I can't keep him safe in that environment.

I can't take him to events with other autistic kids because every single one of them has "snacks" (i.e. crackers and cheese.)

I can't take him to the grocery store.

I can't take him to the playground unless no other kids are there.

I can't take him to a restaurant.

I can't sign him up for kids programs through the local rec centre. They ALL have snack breaks. Any lessons that are longer than 1 hour have a snack break. Even the 75 minute classes. WHY?!

I can't take him to other people's houses. Seriously, think about your home. Can you guarantee there are no crumbs? If so, you have no kids.

Now, obviously, I'm not asking for a gluten free world (though if global warming destroys the wheat crop forever, that'll be a happy side effect for me... JOKING. Chill.) I'm not asking for anyone to not let their kids eat at a playground. But how about one food free event per year at church? One food-free event with the autism kids. One. Just one. And really, do your kids HAVE to eat those fucking goldfish crackers in the library? The library? Since when is it okay to have food in the library? Ours has a sign up asking not to bring in peanuts. They refused to include gluten, dairy or corn. How about just don't bring in food?

And lastly, I'd like to be able to take him to my Mom's utterly pristine house. But my asswipe of a brother lives with her, and apparently, it's too much to ask for him not to drink beer or eat gluten for the few hours I'm there with Crackle for Nanna's birthday. Now, yes, beer doesn't have crumbs. But I gave him a chance. I let him drink it here at my house, and he left the can where Crackle could, and did, get it. I snatched it out of his hand when it was millimeters from his mouth. So he had his chance. How fucking selfish do you have to be to refuse to accommodate your own nephew for a few hours, so he doesn't get horrifically sick? It's mindboggling. Oh, and it's not like I'm asking this on game day, once a week, or anything. No. This will be our first time there in 6 years.

Some days, shit is easy. The heavens open up with nice strangers who smile at his noises, his movements, his socks and offer him rides on their boats or to pet their dog. Other days, I have to fight my own brother for the easiest thing ever. A few hours where he doesn't eat the things my son can't eat. It's just so frustrating.

10 August 2015

Politicky rambling

Oh how summer eats my time! No time for blogging. But I have a few things that have been roaming around in my brain, knocking out cobwebs and generally making me NEED to write. So here goes. Brace yourselves. This will not be linear.

As all my comrades know, I'm a socialist. Happy, proud, NDP. Mostly happy anyway. When Mulcair first announced that he wouldn't debate without Stevil there, I was choked. But I got thinking about it, and it occurs to me that Stevil fucked him over. If he doesn't debate, the Liberals call him out on being just like Harper. If he does debate, well, that can't go any way but wrong. Debating without Harpy would be a disaster. That would allow the Cons to take every word said at the debate and twist it. Rather than calling the NDP out in the moment and allowing them to respond, they'd call them out after and completely control the information flow. Any clarifications, additions, etc. after the fact, would be said to be backtracking, whereas it would seem much more organic in the moment. It's a fools game to let the Cons control the narrative. They're good enough at that without walking into their trap.

So that's the first thing. Next up is young Turdeau. Yes, he's pretty. Yes, he's sexy (if you're into raw ambition... ew). No, none of that means he's not qualified. It's gross when people do that to women. It's gross when people do that to him. Stop the sexualization.

And speaking of sexualization and Turdeau. The infamous tit pic. Norman Spector was losing his shit on Twitter about how Turdeau's posing with a topless woman at a Pride event was a serious error in judgement that casts doubt on his ability to lead. Holy shit, breasts are powerful! Just being near some bare ones disqualifies men from leadership. As I told him there, it is perfectly legal for a woman to be topless. A man posing with her is not doing anything illegal or immoral. There is no lack of judgment here. Unless we suddenly live in Saudi Arabia where women are required to be covered a certain amount before they're decent enough to be seen in public, Turdeau did nothing wrong, and everyone is making mountains ... Hmm, different metaphor needed.

Now, if you want a real show of bad judgment, take a look at Stevil's promise to make traveling to terrorism hotspots a crime. Could someone remind him that he's not Khrushchev? So my friend's boyfriend, who was born in Iran, but has been a Canadian citizen since he was 14 can't go back to Iran to visit his ailing grandparents? THAT is bad judgment.

And as for Turdeau, his bad judgment was voting for bill C-51, being pro-pipeline, and being rabidly pro-Israel and/or anti-Palestine. That's some magnificently bad judgment.

More magnificently bad judgment is from Christy Clark's horrific BC government. From fracking, to dumping toxic shit in the water, to this fucking nightmare. The government returned children who were sexually assaulted by their father TO THEIR FATHER, ignoring the court. And when the mother sued and won, Clark is appealing. Appalling. MCFD is an absolute clusterfuck. They manage autism funding, and I can assure you, that's been nothing but a nightmare. I cannot even begin to imagine this woman's grief.

And speaking of grief, OMFG America. What the fuck? When Megyn Kelly is your voice of feminism, when Mike Brown's buddy is gunned down by undercover cops (with no cameras of course), when Donald Motherfucking Trump is a GOP frontrunner? It's time to just close up shop.

You know what would be really fascinating? Knowing which candidate Harper wants to win the US primaries.

And if you stayed through all that, you're my favourite.

23 June 2015

Teeth and Pot

Can someone explain to me why anything that has to do with teeth is excluded from medicare? I mean, besides money? How, when dreaming up this system of fuckery, did the government get away with saying that dental care is not medical care? Teeth, mine anyway, are as much a part of my body as my cervix is. Both right inside an oriface. Both rather important body parts. One gets treatment if there's an issue. The other I have to pay gobs of money to have fixed. Why?!

Getting away from my angry rant for a second, let's look at some facts. Oral health is directly related to other health.
 Cavities and gum disease may contribute to many serious conditions, such as diabetes and respiratory diseases. Untreated cavities can also be painful and lead to serious infections. Studies are also currently examining whether there is a link between poor oral health and heart disease and between poor oral health and women delivering pre-term, low birth rate (PLBW) babies.
Guess where I got that bit of progressive, pro-dental care propaganda? Oh, wait. It's Health Canada. Health Canada says that oral care can contribute to diabetes. But they won't force the provinces to cover treatment for them! It's absurd and it's cruel.

There are lots of things not covered. Usually conditions that are seen to be preventable or safely ignorable. Bad teeth? Shoulda brushed them better, asshole! Bad back? Here are some pills. Not enough of them, because we don't want you to be an addict. But no chiropractic, massage, or physiotherapy for you! You might enjoy that. And besides, only losers have pain. (That does seem to be the message). Got an infected toenail? Nope, podiatry isn't covered either.

And the kicker... meds. Medications are not covered. Pharmacare in BC is a joke. My family of five has hit our limit once. Once. And most of the meds that one of them needs aren't covered anyway. Every time, I have to get the doctor to fill out a form and send it, asking them to cover the medications. These forms are valid for one year. Even when the medication is a long term thing. And if you don't have a family doctor, as we did not for 7 long years, that's nigh on impossible. So Tony's insurance picked up the difference.

Thank God for the Public Service Health Care Plan. I don't know how people do it without things like that. People whine about unions and their benefits because of one thing: They. Are. Jealous. We are covered for things they are not, and they're a bunch of whiny little children, whining that if they don't get it, we shouldn't either. FFS. That's backassward thinking. DEMAND the benefits for yourself too. Don't try to take away my kids' healthcare because you don't have it.

But you know what? We shouldn't need extra insurance. Ever. If we're sick, it should be covered. Need teeth filled? Cover that shit. Need your neck adjusted once a month so you can avoid headaches? Cover that shit. Need an anti-depressant so you don't feel like killing yourself because the dog looks sad, which is clearly proof that you're the worst human ever? COVER THAT SHIT.

But Luna, who would pay for this utopian system? And how?

It's simple: Legalize marijuana.

Marijuana is already BC's biggest cash crop. But right now, all the money is in the hands of organized crime. Take it from them. Take it from them hard. Cripple their industry, at least temporarily. Remember prohibition? Remember how rich the booze runners were because it was illegal? Criminals always find a way to be criminal, but removing their big cash crop from the playing field will do them some real damage for a while. Let small businesses sell it legally. Tax the hell out of it.

Look, the world is waking up and seeing the value in marijuana. Not just as a recreational drug that doesn't cause overdoses, but as a medicine for pretty much everything that ails you. Get the government into the business of making medicines to export (and use here). Get small businesses selling whatever they like - seeds, plants, harvested ready to smoke, edibles... the whole nine yards. And KEEP THE PROFITS. None of this allowing big corporations to run it and take profits out of the country. That's just organized crime that's gone legit - still hurts people, just differently. We can get in on the ground floor on an industry that is just coming around to legal. This is a huge opportunity.

Look at Colorado. They're saving millions on not prosecuting people for owning a plant. Crime went down (pdf), and not just what was defined as crime which was now not a crime.
"Violent crime in Denver went down by 2.2% in the first 11 months of 2014, compared with the first 11 months of 2013. In the same period, burglaries in Denver decreased by 9.5% and overall property crime decreased by 8.9%." 
Colorado brought in 40 million dollars in tax money. And they could raise taxes on marijuana by 200%, easily. Their economy is thriving. Unemployment is down. They're giving grants to schools. They're ... They're what BC should be.

We can do this. We should do this. We can put the police on serious crime, saving money. We can put the overburdened judicial system to better work. We can bring in some serious money while taking it from criminals. We can use that money to fund our ridiculous medical system.

Dammit. I just want to smoke a joint and get my teeth fixed for free. Is that too much to ask?

01 June 2015


I have a few thoughts about Caitlyn Jenner:

1) I am very happy for her and more importantly for the publicity that trans people are getting right now. When society gets over their transphobia, the world will be a better place. You don't have to like it. But you do have to remember that these people are actually people. With all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fragilities that all people have. Be nice. Even if you are uncomfortable. Especially if you're uncomfortable.

2) If you insist on calling her Bruce, you are being deeply disrespectful of not only Caitlyn, but of all trans people. It is one thing to dislike Jenner and refuse to respect her. It is another thing entirely to cast that on all trans people. I *will* call you out on that if I see it.

3) Most trans people don't have the vast resources that Jenner has. They don't get to make miraculous transformations overnight. Please remember that and don't judge them by Caitlyn's face and body.

4) I'm a wee bit uncomfortable by the pass she's getting from the progressive community. I'm going to try to be clear about this, but I'm having trouble putting my own thoughts and feelings to words. When Caitlyn still went by the name Bruce, she was a self-absorbed dipshit without the first bit of common sense. She was roundly mocked. She'd been a track star and then a mediocre actor. Her money was her only asset. Now, she comes out, looking fabulous I might add, and suddenly she gets a free pass on being a wealthy Republican douchebag because we want to support the trans community? And remember how the Rethuglicans treat trans people. Not well. But any criticism of her is suddenly off-limits in the progressive communities because why? Because we're afraid of appearing transphobic? Or what? Because this hero worship of her is grotesque.

Does anyone really think she's suddenly going to be a wonderful, loving, progressive human? If she is, that'll be an even more remarkable transformation than the one we saw on Vanity Fair.


22 May 2015

Christian rape culture: Duggar edition

Oh the Duggars. The train we've been watching because we knew it would eventually run off the tracks. That is the fascination, right? I don't know. I never got it. I watched an episode of it with my daughter who thought it was fun to watch, and it was just not something I wanted to see. No judgment on those who do/did. Just not for me. Like wrestling. Or The Bachelor. Or CSI. Just not my thing.

Okay, other progressives, I do have a bit of a problem with one thing. A LOT of you are saying that you'd have called the cops immediately. Really? REALLY? You'd have had your son branded as a child molester for life without trying to do something about it yourself first? Not me. No fucking way. If I found out my son was touching my daughter without her permission, you're damn right I'd do something about it. The police would not be my first call though. I simply don't believe in the justice system. I wouldn't put my daughter through that. And I wouldn't put my son through that. Because (a) it wouldn't help him; (b) it wouldn't help her. There'd be group and individual counselling, therapy, medications, absolutely NO chance for him to be near her or any other girls. Do you know the life that child molesters live? I don't know if I could do that to my own son. But worse, wow about the fact that the girls would then be named? In their culture, that's a LOT of shame. In our culture, there's shame (not as much, but it's still there), but there's also pity. Gross pity. And don't forget, these people are famous. No one is going to forget. Any time those girls go anywhere, someone is going to be whispering. I would NOT inflict that on my daughter. Not without trying something else first. Maybe I'm weak. Maybe I'm part of the problem. But I just don't believe that I'm alone in this.

Gleeful schadenfreude on the part of progressive Christianity is disgusting. Gloating that you always knew they were creepy and fucked up in order to prop up your own value system is disgusting. It is remarkably inconsiderate to the victims.

Yeah, I know. They're creepy and backward. They make the girls wear long dresses, even to work. Doesn't that, right there, teach the boys that female bodies are just too tempting, and that they (the boys) aren't in control? Yes, yes it does. Churches foster this environment with theology that teaches that women aren't as valuable as men. That women are the cause of their own victimhood. That they should be more modest, to stop tempting men to abuse them. This is appalling. Men have agency. They can control themselves. But Christianity (in general, as it is practiced) props up rape culture and reinforces it, sometimes overtly. And still, gleeful schadenfreude is grotesque. You think Jesus would be laughing at this? I sure don't.

I have read so many stories of people who have gone to their church for help when they were being abused, and were told to stop sinning and pray for forgiveness. The women at one of the Christian universities were told to pray when they needed help after being raped. As @benjamincorey said on Twitter, "If your theology teaches that women are sexual property, don't be surprised when the boys you raise treat them that way." Michelle Duggar flat out said that she taught her daughters that they are not allowed to say no to their husbands. "Duggar girls don't get headaches", I believe was the quote. How on earth can this not lead to abuse?

And giving this guy a pass because he was young (he was 17! One of his victims was 8!) is bullshit. Giving him a pass because he's reformed now? Uh... how do you know that? Because he says so? Has anyone talked to his girls? And furthermore, would you give anyone except someone who shares your value system that pass? Not likely. What would The Blaze be saying if Josh Duggar were Muslim or Black (or heaven forbid, both?!) They sure as hell wouldn't be treating him the way they are now.

Now, giving the dude a pass because he's in a cult that messed him up since birth? Maybe. With good counselling and a deprogrammer? Maybe. But that's not happening. He's clinging to his cult. So no pass.

And what about the girls? Are they getting couselling? Does it require them to ask forgiveness for their molestation? (Yep, that's a thing. *sigh*) That's what I mean, btw, about the practice of Christianity propping up rape culture. When abusers get a pass, and the victims are told to pray for forgiveness, that's pretty much the definition of reinforcing rape culture.

05 May 2015

Language Matters: Adoption terms

This week, a semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, hit a car full of teenagers who were stopped for a flagger on the highway. The car hit a pickup truck in front of it, and the truck hit a construction vehicle, which hit the flagger. The teenagers were killed instantly. The flagger is in critical condition. He has a broken shoulder, bleeding spleen, cracked spine, and several brain bleeds. He's in a coma.

The flagger is my brother. Sort of. I mean, we share the same DNA. We have the same biological parents. But I don't know him. This post not for sympathy, though prayers, good wishes, vibes, healing energy, or whatever would be appreciated, for both him, and the families of everyone in the accident, including the driver who has to live with killing three teenagers. The reason for the post is because I am having a very hard time talking about this because of the relationships, and the utter lack of appropriate language for them.

When I was born, my birth parents were young and utterly unprepared for parenthood, so they gave me up for adoption (GOD BLESS THEM!) Unlike most people in this situation, they stayed together, and 6 years later, started having more babies. 5 more babies. Sam (the flagger) came along about a year before I had Snap. When I was 22 and they contacted me through the ministry, I found all this out. My awesome parents flew me out to meet them and my siblings. Sam was about 4. As it turned out, I was moving to where they lived anyway (had already put down damage deposit!) and so I got to know them a bit until they moved to another province a couple years later. When they came for a wedding about 10 years ago, I saw Sam again for about 4 seconds. Gawky teenager. Shy. Putting on tough guy airs. That was the last I saw him. But I've kept up via Facebook with his Mom. So really. I do not know this man. I'm connected by blood, but nothing much more.

So what's the point other than oversharing, Luna? Well, it's this. What do I call him? He's biologically my brother. He's not legally my brother. Nor in any social way. My brother is the man who my Mom and Dad raised with me. The racist moron who drives an oversized truck he doesn't need, cares only about sports, brags about not voting ever in his life, and has never moved out of Mom's house (he moved his girlfriend in - and honestly, thank God. She's amazing, and they look after Mom who is so sick). He's the brother I know and love.

What do I call Sam? Birth-brother? Bio-brother? Doesn't that just lead to questions? Why is there no term? I can call the woman who birthed me my biological mother, or my birth mother, or my natural mother, and most people immediately figure out the situation. But siblings? Not so much.

And worse? What do they call me? Especially my bio-parents. There is absolutely no term for me that is acceptable. And we wonder why adoption is taboo! They gave up their right to call me their daughter when they signed the papers. I'm their daughter in genetics only. The reciprocal relationship term doesn't work. They can't call me their biological daughter, as they have three others whom they kept. When I went to a wedding of one of my "sisters", people kept asking me who I was. I had a hell of a time explaining, and eventually, just got cheeky and said, "I'm the one they gave away" and grinned. Well. That went over like a lead balloon. The man, who was a very old friend of my birth father, started on me about how inconsiderate that was, and how I had no idea what they'd gone through, and blah blah blah. I said, "Okay. You tell me. How should I introduce myself?" He had no answer, but informed me that I could be more kind. *sigh*

Adoption is so taboo. It's so taboo that the language doesn't even have a word for me for my birth parents because they are not supposed to ever speak of me again, I guess. And you know what? I don't even have a suggestion for it. How about you, comrades? Anyone have a suggestion for what parents of children given up for adoption can use to speak of these children?

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.


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.