31 October 2010

Write letters

In the news of are you fucking kidding me?! is Andrew Breitbart, the douchebag who set up Shirley Sherrod to look like a racist when she was actually talking about overcoming racism, who justified and championed the douchebag who falsified video to make it look like ACORN was doing illegal things, was hired by ABC for election night! The lying, racist, "screamy shoutcreature" (I love that term!), is getting a forum at ABC News!

ColorOfChange.org is on it. They've provided this template for talking to ABC about pulling this guy:

Dear Friends,
Remember Andrew Breitbart? He was the man who used selectively-edited video to paint Shirley Sherrod as a racist, to smear the NAACP, and to accuse the Obama administration of reverse racism. It was all a big, premeditated lie.
Unbelievably, ABC News now plans to have Breitbart participate in their Election Night coverage, despite his history as a deceitful operative who distorts, lies, and race-baits.
ABC's decision is a slap in the face to Shirley Sherrod, to Black America, and to everyone who believes in the value of telling the truth. It's unacceptable. It's why I'm joining ColorOfChange in calling on ABC News and its parent company Disney to drop their plans to include Breitbart now:
The video pushed by Breitbart showed Ms. Sherrod telling a story about how she once was asked for help from a White farmer, and how she didn't "give him the full force of what [she] could do" to help him, because of his race. In reality she was telling the story of how working with that family to save their farm helped her to lose her racial preconceptions.
Breitbart touted the video as evidence that the NAACP and the Obama administration tolerated racial discrimination against White people, saying that it showed Sherrod's "federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions." Breitbart's doctored video and false storyline moved quickly to FOX News, where on-air personalities called for Sherrod's firing. The day that the story became news, Sherrod was forced to resign from her post at the USDA.
The truth is that Sherrod was telling a 25-year old story about her work for a non-profit organization whose mission was to help Black farmers. Discrimination against Black farmers was rampant, and she described how she was first reluctant when approached by a White farmer named Roger Spooner for help (in her speech, Sherrod connects her reluctance to the fact that her father was killed by a White farmer 45 years ago). But after seeing that no one wanted to help Spooner, she worked to save his farm, and eventually became good friends with his family.
Once the full tape was obtained, it became clear what Sherrod was trying to do, and what Breitbart had done. But even after he was exposed, Breitbart refused to apologize, and continued to lie, as well as attack the NAACP and the Obama administration. Sherrod is now pursuing a lawsuit against Breitbart.
All this was actually nothing new for Breitbart -- this is what he does. Posing as a journalist, Breitbart promotes and concocts fake stories and peddles them as news. It was Breitbart who showcased heavily doctored video showing two people posing as a pimp and prostitute supposedly getting services from ACORN (among other accusations). Of course, once it had been determined by legal authorities in several states that the tapes alleging misconduct had been altered and the storyline was completely fraudulent, it was too late: ACORN -- which had a history of registering more low-income African-Americans to vote than any other organization in the country -- had been destroyed.
After controversy began on Friday about Breitbart's participation, an ABC spokesperson confirmed that Breitbart would be participating in the coverage. Then, Saturday afternoon, after criticism grew even stronger from inside and outside the company, the executive producer of ABC News Digital indicated that Breitbart's role might be even more limited. But ABC is still giving him access to their media platform and endorsing him as a legitimate journalist in the process.
We understand how Breitbart operates, but we expect more from ABC. Their decision to have Breitbart participate is shameful and irresponsible. It's important to have opinions from across the spectrum, but you would expect a news organization to at least try to make its platform available to those with some baseline of integrity. In this case, they've sought out someone who has clearly has none -- and whose shenanigans in the Sherrod episode forced almost every major news organization to issue retractions and apologize.
It's not too late for ABC to do the right thing. Please join us in demanding that they do:
Sherrod: Andrew Breitbart is 'a liar', CNN, 7-22-2010
Failing Upward: Breitbart To Be Featured in ABC's 2010 Election Coverage, Media Matters, 10-29-10
Source: ABC's newsroom upset with decision to tap Andrew Breitbart, Washington Post, 10-30-10
Analyze this: ABC News clarifies Andrew Breitbart's role, Washington Post, 10-30-10

Send your own, or send this. But write letters and ask them not to allow this guy to be given the respect of being called a journalist. He's a loudmouth sleazebag and nothing more. 

29 October 2010

omg! teh fat!

Why Teachers "encouraging" fat kids to lose weight isn't a good idea.

Do yourself a huge favour and don't read the comments on the cbc.ca article. Dear God, people are ignorant assholes.

My own story of OMG TEH FAT!
I'm an "in-betweener". That is, I don't fit into most clothes at regular shops, but I'm too small for the clothes at plus-sized stores. Reitmans usually has clothes I can wear. That's about it. So, I'm not a huge woman, but I'm not small either. The vast majority of my fat is around my midsection. I call it my built-in life preserver. I cannot lose weight. I have tried every diet, every exercise regime, you name it. I have never intentionally managed to lose a single pound. No yo-yo dieting unless that yo-yo is perpetually walking the dog. If I gain a pound, it's on for good. Unless I have one of my "WTF? I'm losing weight!" periods. No clue as to what that's all about. Have stopped caring. So, now I walk the kids and the dog, chase the kids, and eat pretty much what I feel like eating within the limited things I am able to eat without getting sick (I have Celiac Disease - no gluten products, no gluten-contaminated lines, no restaurant food EVER. Also, intolerant of casein - no milk products. And I'm vegetarian.).

My Mom is the biggest source of the fat shaming. What's funny in that lolsob way is that she has no idea she's doing it. She says, "Oh, your brother's girlfriend has really let herself go! She's huge!" And I'm stupid enough to say, "Mother! I'm sure she's not just decided that it's okay to get fat. Clearly there's a problem. Didn't you say she'd hurt her back?" To which Mom replied, "Yes yes, but she's really packed it on. I mean, she's at least as big as you." *sigh* Thanks Mom. Dad used to do it too the odd time. Like he'd comment on how nice someone was, and how it was too bad she was so fat. I think he only did that once in front of me, saw how it hurt me and never did it again. Damage done, though. Mom would police what I ate, though not like some of the stories above. She'd just say things like, "Are you sure you need seconds?" God, that used to piss me off! I'd have thirds just to irritate her. She honestly thought she was helping. My MIL does it to my SIL too. Or used to anyway. Haven't seen it in years.

The worst damage to my self-esteem was when a doctor called me chubby when I was 11. I wasn't. Not by any stretch. I had a fat pad on my belly, and that was it. Until then, I vaguely believed my Mom that the kids were just calling me fat because I was taller and stronger than them. That *evaporated* when that asshole doctor told me I was chubby. I never believed again that I was anything less than gross. Stupid, because I wasn't actually overweight by any standard, including the ridiculous BMI, until I started taking hormones at 16. And even then, I wasn't fat. The fat happened after the first baby and with the Depo-Provera debacle. Man, that shit fucked me up! And how horrible I felt. Gah. Mom kept making comments about how it would come off eventually. My husband said he didn't care at all, it was me he loved. But I didn't believe him, and I wanted him to love my body too. I mean, I was totally wrapped (typo: warped) up in that cultural b.s. that a man as good looking as my darlin' couldn't possibly be attracted to someone as gross as me. I have since come to believe that he does. Though there are still days when I wonder why. Days when my self-esteem is wrapped into my body shape. Fortunately, those days are fewer and fewer.

I'm still privileged to be thin-ish. I don't have people staring at me when I walk by. I don't have people harassing me when I grocery shop or eat in public. I don't ever think, "Holy shit, I'm the fattest person in the pool". I still go to the pool.

My favourite author (one of 'em anyway) wrote in one of his books,
“...Big lush women and small slight men go through life wrapped around a softball-sized chunk of pain; it breaks some of them and makes others magnificent. She was magnificent. Clearly visible on her face, written plain for any fool to see, were the character, will power, self-discipline, self-respect and warm sexiness which common wisdom said she could not possibly have without automatically becoming skinny...”

25 October 2010

FCS gets preachy

You might notice that I added a scripture widget to the blog (I totally stole that idea from http://christianfeminist.blogspot.com but I swear that we both came up with the "not an oxymoron" thing independently!)

So I thought that when the spirit moves me, I might pontificate a bit - don't worry, there's politics too. :) Today's  Yesterday's quote:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
This one is so hard. So so hard. I mean, how do we forgive rapists, killers, abusers of children? How do we forgive those with no sorrow for their crimes? How do we forgive the people who we choose to represent us that then do such horrific things in our names?

It helps to remember that forgiveness doesn't mean standing there and letting them abuse you. For example, I have forgiven the person who abused me. But I don't intend to ever be in his presence ever again. When I think about it, it makes me more sad than bitter or angry. I gave up the bitterness and anger a long time ago. Because holding on to that is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. If he's drowning, I'll save him (though, how, given that I don't intend to set eyes on him again, is another question). If he's on fire, I'll put him out. Like any other human being. But I will not let him hurt me or my loved ones. It's just not happening.

I'm not particularly good at forgiving people who hurt my loved ones. Myself, I can deal with that. Hurt my babies? Hurt innocent people or animals? Oh. No. I have a hell of a time letting go of that anger. I guess that's why I'm not perfect (Okay, so there are a few other reasons... :D) But I try. Sometimes. If I think of it. :)

I do think that a good MAD is useful though. A good stompy, cursing, angry rant is so good for letting go of it. Which is why when I see shit like a child soldier being tortured until they plead guilty to crimes he shouldn't even be responsible for and our government not doing a damned thing for him, rapists getting light sentences, cops not believing victims of crimes - especially women, activists being arrested for I don't even know what. It goes on and on and on.

But anger for these things is only useful if it drives us to do something about it. Vote the fuckers out of office (so much for doing away with all malice). Fight for victims' rights. Donate to good causes. Volunteer to help. Demonstrate. Write letters. Tell everyone you know what you know to be true.

And why? Why should we forgive? I know, I've asked that one a LOT. Why should I forgive Paul Bernardo, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, George W. Bush, Josef Stalin, or Adolf Hitler? They've done such evil, vile, despicable, disgusting, horrible things, to so many people. They've caused hurt and pain that are utterly immeasurable. Such complete pain. It's unimaginable to those who haven't experienced it. Do they deserve forgiveness? Hell no. Not in my estimation. I have no idea what God will do them - nor do I care to speculate. But what I know is that I don't deserve to carry around the anger and bitterness. And neither do you. Being angry and bitter makes us angry and bitter people. How awful the world is when we're angry and bitter. If we want to make the world a better place, we have to be better people. And that starts with forgiveness.

This sermon has been brought to you with ideas from so many different blogs, I couldn't possibly reference them all. But the idea of talking about forgiveness was directly from The Stay-at-Home Feminist and the well-timed Ephesians verse showing up in my widget.

24 October 2010

They like me! They really like me!

There's a Feminist Blog category in the Canadian Blog Awards this year. FINALLY. Thank you, Jonathan Kleiman. It's nice that this category is finally recognised as distinct. We really are.

And thank you for nominating me, fern hill. I am definitely not worthy, in fact, I'm voting for Antonia. But I'm very grateful to get the traffic. As nice as it can be to type out my thoughts, it's even nicer that they're getting some readers. :)

20 October 2010

God and Science

Oh FFS. I just discovered that my wingnut sister actually believes the earth is only 6-10 thousand years old. Because the Bible says so, apparently. She's married to a doctor. On all that is holy, I hope he's better at science than she is.

Okay, my Christian friends, here's the problem, science isn't bullshit just because that'd be convenient for your world view. The Bible is a fabulous source of ideas for how to be a good person, but it kinda sucks as a science book. See, it doesn't mention giraffes at all, and last I checked, they exist. And it was written a LONG time ago. Before people understood anything about the speed of light (though apparently, some people still don't). And so the stories we told to make sense of the universe were like little children talking about how babies are made. They get bits right, but they miss a whole lot of the story.

Adam and Eve are stories. The 6 days story? A story. A tale we told to make sense of a world we didn't understand. And that's okay. We got the important part right: God made the universe. Or God is of the universe. Or the universe is of God. Or something. I dunno. :)

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4, NIV)

18 October 2010

6 months?! 6 MONTHS?!

This is just not right. CBC News - Saskatchewan - Man in Amber Alert case pleads guilty to assault

This useless piece of crap violates a restraining order, beats his ex-girlfriend so badly, he breaks a bone in her face, kidnaps her and their kid, and does 6 months?! He'll be out in 77 days. What the hell?! How can we possibly accept this as a society. The man is dangerous enough that the law tried (and failed) to keep him away from Sentes and the child, but 77 days from now he is free to assault them again?

It's just another example of the law not giving a flaming bag of shit about women or children. Especially in domestic situations. I suspect he'd have done a lot more time if the victims had been random. Why is this okay? Why are family members of douchebags like this less important than the rest of the public? It's not right.

Bully boys

I dunno, I just have nothing lately. The boys are keeping me busy as usual. Crackle has figured out that if he pushes the chair slowly so it doesn't make a noise on the floor, that Mom won't come running nearly so quickly, if she notices at all. Little stinker. And Pop stands by and waits for Crackle to set up the trouble. The other day, the two of them got into a tub of margarine and WOW did they make a mess.

Somehow, that makes me think of the Conservatives. Politics on the brain, for sure. I think that the Cons think that if we don't notice them getting into trouble that we won't notice the mess they make of it. And if we do, they can say, "It's your fault for not stopping us!" or possibly, "If you'd helped me do it, I could have done it properly!" Sure, but you'd still be eating margarine, and that's not good for you.

Like the UN security council seat they just lost. You know and I know that they lost it because they've been a diplomatic nightmare around the world. But of course, they blame Iggy. Deflect. "But Mom! If you'd helped me, instead of saying I was doing something bad, it wouldn't have happened!" Yes, yes it would have, and besides which, it would have made us all look bad instead of just our current batch of naughty boys.

We teach our kids to take responsibility for their actions, somehow in politics it is better to be irresponsible and dishonest like bullies on the playground. And how sad is that?

13 October 2010

Autism in BC

Because we had some interesting difficulties with the Autism Funding Unit, I got talking to Maurine Karagianis about the difficulties of having kids with Autism in BC. I offered to send her a parent's perspective of the system. It took forever, but here it is:

My kids: J = 15f, H = 4m, C = 1m

    J - J's assessment process was a nightmare. The doctors missed it when she was a toddler, calling me a nervous mother. When she went to school, they were supposed to arrange the assessment, but "forgot", so we waited, assuming she was on the waitlist that they assured us was VERY long. That was in Grade 3. In Grade 6, we got the process started by doing some hard pushing. At that point, we were just asking for educational assessments for learning disabilities. Still no one suggested autism. After H was assessed, we talked to her pediatrician, who sent in a referral for her. That was in March of her Grade 8 year. The schools only do assessments in September, because assessments have to be in place by Sept 30 in order to get funding for the year. However, we could have gotten several extra months of funding for our use. Finally, in September of J's Gr.9 year, she had her assessment.

    H - H was part of the Early Intervention Program offered by VIHA. He had significant language delays and was referred to CDBC for Autism Assessment in December of 2007. He was waitlisted, and received his assessment on February 27, a three month wait. Other than his wait, this was a positive experience.

    C - C just got his assessment date. It will be about 8 weeks from the referral. This is acceptable to me. The only problem we have with the assessment process is the interview process. For 4 hours on a Tuesday morning, we will have an interview with the psychologist. Children are not to be at this interview. Because of this, only I will be able to attend, and my husband will have to take time off work to look after the kids. My husband will not be part of the process. I find this remarkably annoying. We do not have babysitting, and certainly not on a Tuesday morning.

    The funding simply isn't enough. A decent ABA program is at least 20 hours per week. 30 is better. But let's assume 20 for the sake of being reasonable. 20 hours of ABA therapy = $600 x 50 weeks per year (minus holiday) = $30,000. That's without the required Behaviour Consultant, Occupational therapy, a Speech Language Pathologist, any books or supplies.

    Once they turn six, apparently they're magically cured, because suddenly the funding drops to $6000/year. I understand the school system is supposed to pick up the slack, but they can't and don't. The schools do not have ABA therapy. They have babysitters. If you're lucky. J is high-functioning enough to be in regular classes, with regular curricula. She doesn't need very much intervention at school. But she desperately needs tutoring, someone to help with organization, and a good counsellor. That cannot be had for $6000/yr. It simply cannot. And the school cannot provide it.

    Speaking of the schools, they can't seem to provide a safe place for my son's food allergies. Strong Start has flat out said to keep him home. If I have to homeschool because of this, where will the funding for his education come from then?

    If it isn't enough that we have to shell out a LOT of money for what is essentially health care (Autism is a health issue - I'm utterly baffled that it isn't treated that way by the government), it adds insult to injury that it is slow in being reimbursed. The Autism Funding Unit is clearly understaffed, because it takes a long time for our providers to be paid, and a long time to get paid for supplies. The system requires us to get pre-approval for everything we buy - a process that usually takes at least a month. Then, once we buy it, it takes another month (if we're lucky) to get paid back.

    Unfortunately, not everything needed is covered, even if we had enough money. For example, for some reason, trampolines aren't covered, even if an Occupational Therapist suggests we get it. What is most frustrating though is that the services of a naturopathic doctor aren't covered. Autism is a health issue, there is no doubt about it. Our pediatrician has flat out said there is nothing she can do for Autism. However, the ND did a number of tests, including an Environmental Pollutants Panel and and Organic Acid Test, and found a number of serious problems, all of which can be treated. But these are extremely expensive tests and treatments. The two tests cost approximately $500 to run, each time. And the visit is $90 each time as well. Our ND has been phenomenal, bringing about massive change in J. Her behaviour is markedly improved, her grades are up, and she is happier. She was also able to stop taking two prescription medications that she previously relied heavily on. But we were in a position to pay for these tests. The vast majority are not. This simply needs to be covered by Autism Funding, or by the Ministry of Health. Because of our ND, our daughter will likely be able to hold down a job. Covering naturopathic for autism treatment would SAVE the government money in the long run. A LOT of money.

    There seems to be no accountability in the privately run Autism programs. I understand that there is a RASP list for providers, and that there are certain standards that one must meet to become a provider (though there are people grandfathered onto the list - people who wouldn't qualify now, and at least one of them runs a major provider in Victoria), but once they're on the list, they get carte blanche. We spent a year with a provider who was terrible - our son actually regressed in the time we were with them. There are hundreds of thousands of goverment dollars flowing into these programs and there is absolutely no oversight. It's astounding.

Social Work
    It is my understanding that my kids have a social worker. However, we have no contact with them. When the government changed the system back to the ministry from Community Living BC, we got a letter from each of our social workers, and had a brief meeting with them. They gave us paperwork and lists of resources we could attempt to access on our own (HA! Right. In all our free time.) I later got a call from one of them saying she was leaving on sick leave and that I'd get a replacement. No replacement ever called. I called the other and asked her to see if she could take both of their cases because it was easier to have all our eggs in one basket, so to speak, and she grumbled about caseload, but said she'd see what she could do and she'd get back to me. She hasn't. That was about a year ago, and her number is no longer in service. I have no idea how to get hold of our social workers. In fact, when I filled out the paperwork for H's therapy, one copy was supposed to go to her. I had no clue where to send it, so I didn't, figuring someone would eventually call me looking for it. Hasn't happened yet.

    One of the things we asked for when we did talk to the social worker was respite. Someone to come in and look after the kids every once and a while so we could get out of the house without them. The process seems to require an interview, which as far as I know, didn't happen. Possibly, they considered one of our meetings to be an interview, I don't know. The other thing I don't know is what one needs to qualify, how long the waitlist is (I'm told it's considerable), or what I can expect if I do qualify.

    In the meantime, I went to the Victoria Society for Children with Autism (VSCA) and they provided $100 for a respite worker. That was lovely, but since they lost their lottery proceeds, they are no longer able to provide any respite funds.

    It is extremely expensive to get respite care. Most people charge $15-$20/hr. For babysitting. And, I might add, this is not covered by our funding. There is no wonder that 80% of parents with kids with Autism are divorced. We don't get any time to ourselves. Our kids don't sleep well, and we can't get a break. The stress is incredible. Family counselling is covered by funding for children over six, but not under. I have no clue why that is. Especially since the funding is so paltry in the over six program.