21 December 2012

Compassionate conservatism is dead.

Ya know, Cons are just mean. Plain old mean. Vic Toews is cancelling the pizza parties that prisoners in federal prisons sometimes get. Oh, I know, they're in prison, they don't get treats. But you know what? They pay for those. With the $25/mo they make. And furthermore, they get them when they've raised enough money for charity.

" These food drive nights also doubled as fundraisers for local charities and relief efforts such as Doctors Without Borders and victims of hurricanes and earthquakes."

Seriously Vic? This is social behaviour. This is accountability. This is giving back. This is making amends. Do you really want prisoners angry, all the time. This gives them something useful to do, something to live for, something to look forward to. That you would take this from them, something that doesn't even cost the taxpayer a single cent? That's just mean. Cruel. What kind of a human could you be to do this?

17 December 2012

Neurodiversity. Again.

Okay, screw hiatus. I'm just going to maintain two blogs. Somehow.

I want to talk about Neurodiversity again, now that I've had Son-Rise training and my outlook is a lot different. I was unfollowed by someone I've known online for years (although, I almost think she forgot that she knows me on LJ too, because she hasn't unfriended me there). Anyway, this happened because of a disagreement, or even a perceived disagreement about autism, autism treatment and the desire for a cure. I was asking questions, and before I knew it, BLOCKED. How dare I try to understand?! Oh well. I understand that she's probably dealt with a number of people whose questions weren't quite so non-judgmental, so I'll give her a pass on it, but unless someone lets her know, I guess I'm shit out of luck.

Here's the neurodiversity argument as I understand it:
I have autism. I like me for who I am, and don't want to change. I believe that curing autism will change me, so I don't want a cure. I do however want treatment, on my terms. I believe that autism causes great minds, so I don't want prevention of it either.

Things I don't understand: 
What is their definition of treatment? If a treatment is so effective, that all the symptoms of it are gone, how is that person still autistic? Because their brain is wired differently? But if all the symptoms are gone, and no further treatment is needed... that's a cure. That's kind of the definition of it.

Why do they believe that great minds are created out of autism, not that autism is a side point? Surely there have been many great non-autistic minds. And furthermore, great art has come out of cancer. No cure for that either? (YES, I know, they're not the same. They're not even in the same class. I am not making them equivalent)

If someone doesn't want treatment, and they are of the age to make such a decision, why would they be against someone else getting it? I'm not in favour of the surgery required to fix my son's brain abnormality, because it's not serious enough to cause him issues. But I'm not opposed to someone else getting it. Why are they?

What I believe they don't understand:
You not wanting to change who you are is completely okay with me and completely okay with everyone I know who is advocating for a cure and prevention. We are not saying there is anything *wrong* with you. We're saying you the same as you are - that autistic people need help, need support, need understanding. Our idea of help is effective treatment, which is what we call "cure". Fixing the symptoms. Our idea of support is money for treatment, suitable schools and suitable jobs, money for living when there are no suitable jobs, counselling and therapy SHOULD YOU WANT IT. No one is forcing anything on any adult. As parents of kids, yes, we get to decide what is best for them. Like any parent, of any kid, with any issue. And understanding, well, that's listening, being okay with your autism symptoms, and just loving you for who you are right this moment.

I love my kids. I love them exactly the way they are. Today. Right now. And I want to help them live full, happy, productive lives. Just like every other Mom out there. And to do that, I work with them to help them embrace the world. I have to work harder at it because they're autistic, but really, again, this is no different from every other parent. So you're right if you think I'm angry about your attempts to undermine "cure charities". Because those charities are looking for ways to help my kids. I have a son who can't talk, can't communicate meaningfully, can't use the toilet himself, can't eat by himself, can't go to school, can't cross a street, can't have friends (that's the one that I think is most important). If I use a system like Son-Rise that uses the neuroplasticity of the brain to rewire it, so to speak, so that he can do all these things, he will be able to have all the things the neurodiversity people already have. Every time I see one of these people arguing against a cure, i.e. a treatment that works, they're someone who *can* argue for it. These are people who have friends, meaningful relationships, jobs, skills, life partners, pets.  And they would like to prevent me from doing that?! From giving that to my son?

Not just no, hell no.

Guns, mental health, autism and tragedy

Just a quick little note on the massacre in Connecticut. I do not think this was a feminist issue. A few people have been quick to point out that the shooter killed more female people than male. However, it was an elementary school, and women are disproportionately represented in that community. Also, he killed the kids indiscriminately. So no, I do not think this is a feminist issue. This? This is a human issue.

Human. That's right. Human. Not "monster". I am so very against dehumanizing criminals, because it really prevents us from treating them, rehabilitating them, but more importantly, from preventing them from becoming criminal. This man? I don't know. I don't know his history. I've heard everything from schizophrenic to psychopathic to Aspergers (more below). But I don't know, and neither do you. What I know is that this man got so disturbed, so miserable, so disconnected from his humanity that he killed his parents and a classroom full of children. And that shit needs to never happen again. And we cannot prevent that if we continue to dehumanize people who get to that point.

We also can't do that if we allow weapons like the ones that killed those kids. At the same time as this happened (not the same exact time, but within a day or so), a man in China lost his shit and went into a classroom full of kids and stabbed 22 of them with a knife. None died. Guns did this. If people think that a few dead kids are worth their 2nd amendment rights, well, then I'd say they're the problem. A damn big part of it. Every time someone is murdered with a gun, it should be on the heads of the people who continue to make those weapons available. The ONLY point of these weapons is to kill. That's what makes them different from knives, cars, ropes, all these other things that can kill. The only exception I'd make is for hunting rifles and shotguns. And those should damn well be registered. Like cars. And licensed. Like driving.

And can we please please stop with the talk about this guy being autistic? Please? Because it's no more relevant than the colour of his hair, the length of his eyebrows, or the number of moles on his back. There is NO connection between planned violence and autism. None. Nada. Not even in the 'they've been stigmatized more, and so they're more prone to snap' type. NOT EVEN THERE. So knock that shit off.

And finally, can we please stop stigmatizing the mentally ill. Most do not commit these kinds of crimes. Most are not dangerous. Most know the difference between right and wrong. And they need to be able to have the confidence to go get help when they need it without worrying that their friends, neighbours and coworkers will be afraid of them should they find out that they're mentally ill.

There. I feel better. Time for a nap. :)

25 November 2012


I'm going on hiatus. I know, I know. You love me and you'll die without me. So I'm not going away completely. I've started a new blog. It's about hope. Snap says it's about sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. She's not quite right, but close enough. It's about hope, my hopes, the world's hope, good stuff I see here and there. It's called No False Hope.

I'll probably pop back in here the odd time. But in the meantime, check me out over there. The place is ready to visit, if you don't mind that the curtains aren't up, and there's no furniture. That is, it's barebones at the moment, and who knows when I'll get time to spruce it up. :)

06 November 2012

A mishmash of politics and God

Holy crows. It's been a while since I found time to write. I renovated the bathroom (well, I put in floor and wall tiles). I've been training new people in the boys' program. And I'm getting ready to go back to the Autism Treatment Center of America next week. Saturday, I leave. I'm so excited. Crackle made such huge gains, but he's leveled off (not regressed back, but leveled off), and I'm hoping for renewed energy and new ideas for his program.

And today is Election Day in the US. There's no question that I'm cheering for the lesser of two evils: Obama. He's nowhere near as progressive as I'd like, but he's hamstrung by their idiotic governmental system. I'll be watching with drinks in hand tonight. Because what they do affects us. A lot. I suspect I'll be shutting it off in anger by about 8:30pm. I know anger doesn't help and isn't useful, but I still jump into it sometimes. Maybe I'll just watch Arrow. I rather enjoy that show.

What brought me to my blog today though wasn't American politics. It was the story of the conservatards (that's "conservative bastards", lest you think I'm using a variant of the r- word) cutting funding for non-Christian chaplains in the prison system, saving a whole 6 million bucks, and defending it by saying that they're going to a multi-faith chaplain like in the military. It's a travesty.

I know some people don't want to pay for any religion with their taxes, and that includes chaplains. Those people are remarkably short-sighted. If someone is raised in a faith, and faith can take them to a place where they're able to function in society, then that's a hell of a lot cheaper than a prison. And if you think that faith can't do that, give your head a shake. It can and does. Not for all. No program works for everyone. But it most certainly does help some people.

I don't even know where to start with "multi-faith chaplains". Do you know how few people are able to be that truly ecumenical? I bet most United Church ministers could do it. But how's that gonna fly with the First Nations prisoners (who are disproportionately represented in the prison population) when the United Church ran some of the residential schools that caused so much devastation in their communities? How are the Catholics going to handle it if the minister is a woman? Or are women not eligible because it might offend someone's faith? There aren't many Jewish, Muslim, or Sikh prisoners, but there are some. Do we say they can suck it up and convert? Where are these multi-faith chaplains going to get the kind of indepth training on these religions that they'd need to properly minister to these people? Is the government going to pay for that?

Of course not. This is all part of their evangelical agenda, and it's disgusting. God knows I'm an evangelical person. I love to talk about God. I love to talk about the Bible. But I don't do it to convert anyone. I do it because it interests me and because it gives me joy, and I like to share. If it's not something someone wants to talk about, I don't talk about it. You know, like everything else. These guys are trying to eliminate the "competition", which is, I'm sure, how they see it. Harper's church, the Alliance Church, isn't particularly ecumenical, progressive, or liberal. They teach (with some exceptions) that only Christians, and only their kind of Christians, go to heaven. The rest will burn in hell for eternity. So it's no wonder that his government would cut the funding for the chaplains from other religions. And it's sad. Because that will not bring people around to their way of thinking. It will only make them resent religious people and turn away from whatever faith they have.

Seriously? Get 10 people to describe me to you. You will get 10 very different answers. Then think about the mystery and magnificence of God. Just how are people supposed to look at God and give the exact same description when they can't do that for someone as simple as you or me? Come on. I am so tired of people thinking they have a lock on what God is and everyone else is wrong, lying, or evil. Hell no.

Dear God, please show people that you are bigger than one religion. Amen.

24 October 2012

"Rape babies" and other terms I hate

When I was in Grade 7, I had a friend named Melissa who was a lovely Métis girl. She "passed" for white, which is why she had no problems in my school, which was very very very white (I'm kind of surprised the PTA fundraiser didn't sell white hoodies with pointed hoods). Anyway, after we'd been friends for a while, she took me home after school one day where I was greeted by her 100% Cree mother. They didn't warn me. They thought it would be funny. I'm sure it was, because they both howled with laughter at my obvious shock. Once I got over it, and I'm not sure if it was even the same day, I said something stupid about obviously having a white father, and her mother, who pulled no punches said, "Yeah, they were white." I must have looked confused and she told me that two young white guys had raped her, and the result was Melissa. I was horrified. I mean, I almost started to cry. That's when she got really gentle and said, "It's okay honey. I made peace with it. And I chose to have her. I figured some good should come of it all. I didn't have to do that. It'd be different if they made me." Then she looked a bit haunted and said, "Like my sister."

I swear that's true.

And we're back to choice. Women get pregnant in all sorts of ways, expected, unexpected, planned for, spontaneous and rape. Rape is a horrible way to get pregnant. It's a horrific crime. It often damages women forever. And sometimes not. But it can and does result in pregnancy. And at that point, like every other pregnancy, the woman has a choice to make - do I want to carry this to term? Do I want a baby now? Do I want to abort? Do I want to give it up for adoption?

I'd hazard a guess that most women who get pregnant by a rapist don't want to carry that to term. They don't want a physical reminder of it. They don't want to worry that they'll look into their baby's eyes and see their rapist. They don't want to worry that nature will outsmart nurture and their baby will grow up to be a rapist too. And so they choose to stop it.

And some women choose to go on with it. Either because they're like my friend's mom and view it as a new life, something wonderful from tragedy (I might have named that girl Phoenix!) or they don't have access to safe abortion and won't risk a back alley job, or whatever. Or maybe they decide to give it up for adoption (I can't fathom this one - carrying a pregnancy from rape to term and then giving up the baby? It's boggles my mind.)

But they're all choices. And dammit, we feminists need to support them all. Can we please stop mocking the idea that some women might actually want that pregnancy once it starts? I understand the impulse. There was a woman on a pregnancy group I was in when I was pregnant with Crackle who's baby was conceived in a rape. She actually had to fight with her family (read: parents) who tried to get her to abort, because they were afraid of all of the things I said two paragraphs up. And they were afraid she wouldn't be able to love her baby. They wanted to protect her. But she said the same thing my old girlfriend's mom said, "I wanted something good to come of it. And what could be better than a new baby?" (My thoughts were, wine, chocolate, a hot bath, and some bubblewrap therapy, but to each her own) And so she decided to carry on.

This twatwaffle who is going on about God's will, could really stand to shut up. I understand his point. He believes that God creates all life, and that would include all conceptions. So he says it's God's will. Not the rape, but the pregnancy from it. I'm not sure how one can separate them, but maybe he thinks God is micromanaging the sperm. Or that God is some sort of weird doorman at the egg barrier. Hell if I know. This former professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary disagrees with him on all of it. She says that making God the author of conception after rape makes God the author of the crime of it. Where I disagree with her is here, and only in small part: Conception following rape is a tragedy, not part of “God’s will.” Tragedy is defined by the victim. It is a tragedy if the woman perceives it as one. Like rain is a tragedy in a flood, but a blessing in a drought, a conception from a rape is a what the woman perceives it to be. 

Actually, that's where the religious anti-choice people make the least sense. They claim that all conceptions are gifts and blessings, and we just need to shut up and see it that way. It's like saying that rain is always a blessing, a gift from God. Just get in a boat and enjoy it. Crops failing? God's will. Can't eat this winter? Must have been a sinner. Conception is just something that happens. The value of it is determined by us.

I've been mulling over the idea that God creates all life in view of this. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I kind of think (and my thinking is not cemented, so please, comment away) is that God created life, and we propagate it. Similar to how I planted the mint, and it's spreading. Not my will, but not against it either. Not that I'm God - it's not a perfect analogy, but along those lines. We have free will, so we can choose to reproduce or not. I don't believe in pre-destiny. Or God as the ultimate puppeteer. I believe God is with us, and nudges us to do the right things via conscience and other things, and we do what we'll do. Sometimes that's what God wants, sometimes it's not. So when some boil on the ass of society rapes a woman, and God is there begging him not to and he does it anyway, it's not God's will that she is impregnated. It just happens. And whether that pregnancy is a tragedy or not, is up to her. No judgments either way from me. Because I don't have her experience. I don't have her life. I don't have her beliefs. I don't have her conscience. I don't have her knowledge. We need to trust women to do what is right for them (us) and shut the fuck up about it.

One thing in that article that really struck me, was the very last bit, and so I'll end with it too:

There is, however, no failure of compassion so glaring as the way rape survivors are being made into political and religious scapegoats today.
Stop that. In God’s name, stop it.

22 October 2012

NERDS! Oh no...

Telling a nerd joke at an autism fundraiser is like telling a fag joke at a PFLAG meeting. Seriously? What the hell? I'm no fan of Bill Burr at the best of times (he gets laughs by being an asshole - I don't find it funny), but goddamn. Use your fucking head.

He joked about there being too many nerds, whined that nerds used to have shame, laments the good old days when they got locked into lockers over night and then beat up for wearing the same clothes the next day. Asked when the nerd bubble would break, and said that's what happens when you get rid of bullying. That's what happens when you get rid of their natural predator, that they proliferate.

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?!

What's a nerd, anyway? A person who is good at something, but not much else, and is socially clueless. Sound a lot like a lot of autistic people? Damn right it does. And somehow this is a bad thing, to be mocked by people who are threatened by their intelligence, or who enjoy preying on perceived weakness. Autistic kids are often nerds. Autistic kids are bullied a lot. A LOT. Nearly half of autistic teens have been targeted by bullies. Sometimes by teachers. Our kids are treated like shit everywhere. Stories from friends of mine:

 - Child kicked out of music school because he spit at a child who was bullying him. The child who was doing the bullying? Nothing. She was treated as the victim. Director told my friend, "Your son is the worst kind of kid. He's not welcome in my school. He's not welcome in my city."
- Child smacked by the aide for turning on the water fountain after being told not to. It was witnessed by someone who talked to the principal, who told her, "Well, John *is* a difficult child. How hard did she hit him?" If she hadn't threatened to go to the police, nothing would have come of it.
- Child was tormented into losing her temper, which was explosive, because the bullies thought it was funny. Finally led to the mother pulling the autistic girl out of school because the school put the onus on the autistic child to leave the situation and tell a teacher.
- Child was convinced that all the kids were his friend. They'd pretend to be his friend to get him to do their homework or give them money.
- "Nerd" "Geek" "Loser" "Dork" "Retard"

And just last week, I was reading about the guy who was the reddit troll, the vicious asshole piece of shit, who was outed. And in the comments, "He's a software engineer with no social skills. He's just autistic". Fuck no. He's an asshole. A heartless, mean, oozing sore of a sniveling little boil on the ass of a weasel. Maybe he's autistic too. I doubt it. This troll, like other trolls, gets glee from angering people, and is particularly good at doing it. People with autism are not generally socially adept enough to be the kind of troll  this shitweasel is.

So they're getting it from both sides - They're called nerds, retards, bullies, assholes. Everywhere in society. Apparently even at an autism fundraiser.

11 October 2012

Feminist Christian Politics!

If anything intersects feminism, Christianity  and socialism better than a VP debate in which the only question about women's issues is couched in religion, I don't know what it is.

Seriously? The ONLY question about women's issues is asked in the form of "how does your religion inform your opinion about..." Not only that, that was the ONLY question about religion. How does that work? I mean, the bible never once mentions abortion, and in at least one place explicitly defines the fetus as less than human (to be fair, that's in the same book that outlines rules for slavery), but Jesus specifically tells his followers to feed the hungry and heal the sick. And yet, questions about health care and poverty reduction are never asked in religious terms.

Not cool, Ms. Moderator. Not cool.

Women's issues are important. Men's issues are important. Social issues are important. Economic issues are important. Foreign policy is important. And ALL of this is influenced by the religious views of the candidate. So it seems to me that the abortion issue should be treated the same as all the others. When our issues are made out to be the only ones informed by the religious views of the candidate, it seems that abortion is an "emotional issue" of women, not an issue of the same kind of importance. Abortion = emotional, poverty = logical. Women vs. men. Sexist to the core.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, there is no way to separate religious beliefs and political views. It is a good thing to know what a candidate believes and why. But there is NO excuse for only making it about abortion, when poverty, healthcare, war, prison reform, and humanitarian aid are just as religiously relevant.

01 October 2012

Body Image Issues

Erf. I thought I'd gotten over my body image issues. Apparently not so much. When probing my "why am I dreading going to see Mom? I love Mom. I haven't seen her in 3 years!" feelings this morning, it hit me. It's the weight I've gained, and the judgments she makes about weight. Mom's never had a weight problem, in either direction. She has to monitor her weight for dialysis, but before that, she never did. At all. She's just one of those lucky people who was about the right size for society's comfort all her life. And it's one thing she's never understood about others. Very little compassion or understanding for fat or skinny women. And so I picked that up and was rather hard on myself. Sometimes I still am.

Some Mom fails:
Mom: Stacy really let herself go lately.
Me: Oh yes, I'm sure she just decided to get fat, you know, while she's trying to convince Tom to marry her. Definitely.
Mom: Oh come on. You haven't seen her. She's huge.
Me: Huge huh? What, she's bigger than I am?
Mom: Well, maybe not quite THAT big.
Me: *sputter*
Mom: [quickly changes subject]

Keep in mind, I was 15 lbs lighter then than I am now. So, I'm feeling a little self-conscious. Dad was the same. I remember him saying, "That Tara is such a nice girl. Too bad she's so big". WTF, Dad? Tara was happily married and related to him. I asked him what that had to do with anything, and he just looked slightly embarrassed, slightly sad for me for being so stupid as to not know, and shook his head.

I know I shouldn't beat myself up about it. I know that I eat good, healthy food, in reasonable amounts. I know that I don't exercise as much as I'd like, but that I do as much as I can given time and health constraints. I somehow need to get a bit more, because it'll help me feel better, but I haven't figured out how to do that while raising three kids, one of whom must stay home or he becomes overstimulated to the point of a screaming meltdown.

I fully believe in Health at Every Size. And I know, intellectually, that it is not my job to be physically appealing to whomever might glance at me. But it bugs the piss out of me that I'm invisible because I'm not. Even though, again I know intellectually, that it takes the target off me that is imprinted on the body of women who are that societal standard of beauty.

And yet, here I was this morning, sitting with the boys while they played, making myself sick about how I look and what that means about me, and what Mom will think when she sees me.

So to work it out, my questions to myself:
Why do you feel sad about being fat?
Because it means I'm not attractive.
Doesn't your husband find you attractive?
He says so.
You don't believe him?
Because he's a product of society too, so how could he possibly?
You don't trust him?
Of course I do.
He's lying to protect my feelings. And the women he finds attractive other than me NEVER look like me.
So? Do all the men you find hot look like him? Do any of them?
Well, Ben Browder does, but other than that, I get your point.
So, do you still feel gross?
Because fat is gross.
Um... Because it is.
Says who?
And you're so sure everyone is right on all the other issues, aren't you.
Shut up.
Why? Because you enjoy beating yourself up about shit you can't change?
Apparently, yes.
So why do you have to be unhappy about being fat.
Because if I were happy, it would mean I don't care.
Would it? I mean, could you be happy and still want to change? Like you are with your kids. You love them as they are, and you want to help them be better. Could you do that?
No. It's not the same.
Because they're kids and they... DAMN YOU AND YOUR LOGIC!
And besides, what would be so wrong about not caring?
Um... It would mean my Mom is right about "letting myself go".
And? Is it something you need to prove to her?Fuck... Apparently it was. To hell with that. She can be right. Again.

Much better. I'm going to go eat some potatoes with the kids.

26 September 2012

M312 down. Thank God.

This needed saying again today: "Some people will say that politics and religion don't mix. Hogwash. If that's true, there's 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." Rev. Mark Bedford

And for me, that means voting, or contributing to the campaigns of people who would not ever vote against my rights or the rights of my fellow women, who are my neighbours. 91 of our MPs voted to study when life begins, so that they can limit the rights of pregnant women. The would make us state property when we are pregnant and force us to carry pregnancies to term against our wishes, regardless of the circumstances. Already have 3 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment? Too bad. You'll lose your job because you can't do it pregnant? Too bad. You have rough pregnancies and will spend 7 months vomiting and hooked up to IVs and won't be able to look after your other kids? Too bad. You were raped by your husband and he'll beat you if you're pregnant? Too bad. You're 9 years old? Too bad. They don't care.

I do care. I care about those people, my neighbours. I care about the fetuses too. I do, really. I wish no woman was ever in a situation where she had an unwanted pregnancy. I wish no pregnancies ever ended in abortion (or miscarriage), but the fetus's rights can never be considered before the woman's. If you do not have to donate an organ to keep someone alive, I do not have to donate my uterus to a fetus that attaches there without my permission. Having sex was my permission, you say? No. No, it wasn't.

And because it wasn't and wouldn't be, and because it wasn't for many other women, there will always be abortion. And women will die. And children will be without their mothers, husbands without wives, parents without daughters, and most importantly women without lives. And the supposedly Christian pro-life people who terribly want to outlaw abortion will say they brought it on themselves. And that is NOT loving one's neighbour. Not by any definition of love I am familiar with.

21 September 2012

Irony? Or just plain evil?

Quick annoyance of the day: Pantene gives away $1 to cancer research for every bottle sold. Pantene shampoo contains carcinogens such as retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone and dmdm hydantoin (okay, so that one is a possible carcinogen, but whatever). And THIS is why I hate those stupid walks for cancer. They're almost all sponsored by companies that fucking cause cancer.

13 September 2012

Celiac Disease Awareness

Today is Celiac Awareness Day. So, since this directly affects my family, you, dear comrade, get to read all about. Or click the back button. Whatevs.

Celiac is:
An autoimmune disease. When gluten proteins enter into the tissues of the small intestine, to digest, the body views the tissue, not just the gluten, as an intruder and destroys it. The villi of the small intestine become so damaged that malabsorption occurs. I became magnesium deficient to the point where I developed seizures. My husband doesn't absorb zinc or lysine when he has damage.

Deadly. Celiac kills. Not directly, but indirectly via cancer caused by damage. Bowel cancer and lymphoma are particularly more common in Celiac sufferers. Also, because it's an autoimmune disease, the person with it becomes more likely to get another autoimmune disease.

Common. 1 in 133 people are estimated to have celiac disease.

Uncomfortable. The symptoms of Celiac Disease include: * refers to symptoms someone in my family has had to deal with.

  • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating*
  • Anemia*
  • Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)*
  • Coetaneous bleeding
  • Diarrhea*
  • Easy bruising*
  • Epistaxis (nose bleeding)
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fatigue or general weakness*
  • Flatulence*
  • Fluid retention*
  • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily*
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms*
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Hematuria (red urine)*
  • Hypocalcaemia/ hypomagnesaemia*
  • Infertility
  • Iron deficiency anemia*
  • lymphocytic gastritis*
  • Muscle weakness*
  • Muscle wasting
  • Nausea*
  • No obvious physical symptoms (just fatigue, overall not feeling well)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance)*
  • Panic Attacks*
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)*
  • Stunted growth in children*
  • Vertigo*
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency*
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin K deficiency
  • Vomiting*
  • Voracious appetite*
  • Weight loss*
  • Obesity*

Once one is diagnosed and on a gluten-free diet, most symptoms clear up. Until the next OOPS. In my house, gluten exposure means a lot of things depending on which of us it is, including insomnia, paranoia, irrational anger, diarrhea, constipation, extreme muscle pain, swelling, abdominal distress, bloating, exhaustion.

Celiac is NOT:
Picky eating. I'd give my left foot for a soft, delicious doughnut. Or to be able to eat at your house. Or a restaurant. But I'd rather not risk cancer. Or 2 weeks of hell. 1 crumb. ONE. That's enough to make a person with celiac sick. The current labelling laws allow anything under 20 parts per million to be called gluten free, as long as it's not deliberately added. So cross-contamination levels are permitted. I still get sick. From less than 20ppm. In fact, Rice Dream, which claims to have removed all the gluten, and have less than 20ppm made me sick for years until I discovered their barley processing. Assholes.

Imaginary The next person to tell me this is all in my head gets to listen to that Friday song on a loop for a month. Except on Fridays, which will be It's a Small World day. Seriously, it's physiological and can be tested with blood work or endoscopy.

Trendy or A fad. I know the gluten-free diet is a fad right now. That's not really helping me. Because Random Celebrity claims to be gluten-free one day and is seen eating a bagel the next day, people like me and my family are often perceived to be following the trend, and our health concerns are not taken seriously. On the other hand, there are more gluten-free products right now.

If you know a Celiac who cheats, remind them that no symptoms doesn't mean no damage. Is that baguette worth cancer? And please, please, don't judge the ones who are super careful as neurotic. They're doing their best to keep themselves safe and comfortable. Think of it as rat poison. If someone put rat poison icing on your cake, would you scrape the rat poison off and eat it? What if there was only a very little bit of rat poison? Surely you'd eat that, right? A little can't hurt, right? Wrong.

So now you're aware. My job here is done.

06 September 2012

A quick hitter post

The spanking thing that's in the news. My take: I do not spank my children. I do however give them a swat on the ass if they happen to do something like wander into traffic. Because it's quick, it's in the moment, and it surprises the hell out of them. I WANT them to be afraid to wander into traffic. If the cars aren't enough, a swat (and that's a singular swat, not a whipping, not a beating, not smacks until it's red, etc) might be enough to save their lives. So I do it. I have NEVER had to swat Pop. Crackle, yes. Didn't help, because he didn't connect the two. Once, when he was riding in the stroller (he was about 4.5), he reached down to put his fingers in the spokes of the wheels. I hit him with my fingertips on the top of his head enough to make him stop, but not actually causing pain.. Someone screamed her head off at me from her car. From her angle, we were jogging down the street and I smacked my kid when he wasn't even looking at me. I kept him from breaking his fingers. He'll still do it again, but in that moment, he stopped to see why I'd done that. So I'd do it again if I had to, knowing it would keep him safe in that moment, and that it wouldn't keep him from doing it again. Snap is 17, so that would be awkward, but yes, the odd time when she was younger, I tried a smack on the butt to keep her from doing dangerous shit. It worked for her.

Spanking? Real spanking? Keep it in the bedroom between two consenting adults. :)

30 August 2012

Irony: The medical system makes me sick

Our medical system is so fucked up it makes me sick. There are so many stories, so many examples, and so much to gripe about. But I'm going to go with this one - alternative medicine in the big medical system. Broken.

Some background: In BC, and 4 other provinces (if memory serves), naturopathic doctors are regulated by the province. I don't mean 'holistic medicine practitioners' or any of that nonsense. I mean NDs, who went to school for 6 years and have a degree in naturopathy. Bastyr is one of the better schools - if you can find an ND from there, you're doing well. Anyway, NDs in BC can prescribe medications - not all of them, but most. Not any federally scheduled drugs (like Ritalin or OxyContin, for example). And a few others are apparently randomly excluded. It's bizarre. What NDs cannot do, is order labs through MSP. So, my ND can order thyroid meds for me, but not check my TSH. Well, not entirely true. She can order the labs, but I pay for it, and the testing is done in Alberta. WTF? It's criminal. Seriously. I cannot figure out how the government justifies this.

There is a major shortage of doctors in BC (and most of Canada). I've posted on that before, and I notice that one of the parties in Quebec has recently come up with a plan much like mine to keep doctors in Quebec. I'm naturally taking credit for that. Clearly the powers that be in Quebec politics are among the 4 of you who read this blog. So what those of us who are wealthy enough to do when we can't find an MD is see an ND, and then never go back to looking, because the care is great. Except then we run into the testing problem. Now, I can afford to see the ND once and a while. But I cannot afford the testing. It's too much. So what I do is go to the walk-in, tell them what's going on, and they order the tests. Which is STUPID and a total waste of money. In trying to save money, by not allowing NDs to order tests, they ensure that patients to go MDs who bill for the visit. It costs them money and they're too stupid to see it. The same is true of diagnostic procedures and referrals. I have no idea why an ND isn't allowed to refer me to a specialist. There's no cost. It baffles me.

NDs are regulated in 5 provinces, and need to be in the other 5. But more than regulation, NDs need to be covered under medicare. Several reasons, but here are the most important two:

1) Without coverage under medicare, we have a tier of medicine unavailable to the poor.
NDs are not absolutely essential, but they are damn good care. When I go to mine, I get a minimum of 20 minutes and usually more like 35 or 40. They provide full service care or supplementary care. Since our family doctor is completely overburdened, and appointments take 6 weeks to get, our ND fulfills most of our primary care needs. Sometimes she prescribes regular allopathic medicine (like antibiotics) and sometimes she prescribes herbs. She sells the herbal remedies there, but is quick to tell me that I can get them anywhere, and has given me tips on where to find certain things cheaper.

If I did not have the money to pay for trips to see her, I would be back in the GP game. I had a GP here. He was nice. He also missed a lot of things that the ND picked up immediately. Like my seizures. I have myoclonic seizures - they're short jerks of motion from my head and arms. My brother says it's like little wasps appeared in front of my face, scared me, and I try to bat them away. My husband says it looks like someone stuck me in the back with a cattle prod. Heh. Anyway, I had them for years. The GP sent me to the neurologist who ran a battery of tests and prescribed a drug that has a high risk for dependency and abuse, and means I'd be legally impaired while taking it. No way. So I went to the ND. She got my entire history and then figured out that I had magnesium deficiency, and put me on a high dose of magnesium. And my seizures? Went from ~50/day to ~3/week. And have been like that ever since (we're way way way past placebo effects now), as long as I take my magnesium, and don't get glutened (i.e. eat any gluten by accident). I got glutened this week, and I'm having a few more of them. Maybe 5 or 6 a day. Some of them with dystonia. Ow. If I didn't have my ND, I'd still be seizing several times an hour.

An acquaintance has breast cancer. She sees a whole swak of doctors, including an ND. Of course, she has to pay for that. And yes, it is approved by her MDs. In fact, the ND works in the same clinic as her family doc. The ND handles the side effects of the chemo with vitamin therapy and some herbal remedies. These treatments are doing wonders for her. And she wouldn't have access to them without the privilege of wealth. She's solidly middle class, and she's spending a lot of money on these treatments. And that brings me to point 2.

2) Coverage under medicare protects patients from unscrupulous NDs who gouge patients.
She's paying too much. Yes, she's getting good advice and good treatment, and it's helping her. But she's paying too much for it. For her vitamin B12 shots, she's paying $60 each. My ND charges $16, and I think that's a bit much. I get the liquid prescribed, and then inject myself. Costs me about $2 each time. If medicare covered all or part of naturopathic treatment, the ND would bill the government for a specific amount, regulated by govenment, same as MDs, and profiteers like my acquaintance's doc would be unable to screw patients over. I know, she could go to another one, shop around, hope to find someone who specializes in Cancer, but SHE HAS CANCER. She's tired and sick and vulnerable. And this guy is in the same clinic, so they share info, collaborate on cases, and are all in the loop. So she either pays the big bucks, or doesn't get the treatment. It's not fair. And while life isn't fair, this is something that could be fixed.

We can fix the system. We can save money while reducing the burden on GPs. And do that while making the system more accessible to everyone. And the government won't do it.

27 August 2012

What to do when you witness a meltdown

Crackle had a meltdown today. A full-blown autistic meltdown. He doesn't have many of these anymore, because I'm really good at managing his environment. But today at about 4:30, he lost his marbles. I don't know what sparked it, but he lost it and started screaming, crying, and wailing. Hysterically. Loud enough to be heard for at least a km. Not exaggerating. Anyway, that's not the point.

I got him into his shoes, his brother into clothes and shoes, and took them out to the van (car rides calm Crackle down). When I opened the front door, there were two men standing there. They were from the company doing an engineering report for our strata. Anyway, I smiled, they smiled, and the one guy said, "How's your little guy doing?" I said, "Oh, okay. It's an autistic meltdown, is all. We'll go for a drive and he'll be okay." The guy smiled, nodded, and said, "And how are you doing?" WOW. I said, "I'm okay. He doesn't do this much any more. And I like car rides too, so it's good." The guy smiled and said, "Okay! Have a good one." [edit: Then, after I took 4 steps, gobsmacked by his class and kindness, I stopped, turned around and said, "Thank you for that. I really appreciate it." He just smiled and said, "No problem."]

That. Is. Awesome. That just doesn't happen. Like ever. It's almost always the stink-eye. Or "shut that kid up" or "What's his problem?" This is exactly what to do when you see a kid losing it. Ask Mom how he's doing. Ask her how she's doing. And if she doesn't seem to need help, smile and say 'have a good day'. If she seems to need help, say, "Need help with anything?" And then take no for an answer if that's the answer. This guy did it perfectly.

25 August 2012

Poverty you can see from space

The gap between rich and poor is so big that one can see it from space. Literally. It's stunning. And inspiring. I'm not clever enough to come up with an idea like that myself, but I can sure as hell rip it off for all it's coolness.

Canada is a very wealthy nation. Our poorest neighbourhoods in our urban cities anyway are nothing like the poorest areas of Mexico City or Abuja or any number of other places. We have a safety net, that while it has some holes, at least it's a bit of a net. It needs some darning though. So I thought I'd do much the same as the above project, but only for cities in Canada, and see if I could literally see the disparity from space. Turns out, yes, in some cities, no in others.

Toronto shows a lot of obvious differences between rich and poor.
Forest Hillhome of Upper Canada College, and zillions of trees.
You'd think I was monkeying around with the zoom, but no. It's a neighbourhood in an industrial area. Bet that's healthy.

In Ottawa, it's not as obvious from the geography. The first picture is of a wealthy neighbourhood, the second is quite impoverished. The biggest difference, apart from the trees, is the roads. Curved street slow down traffic, and are a necessity on hills - views rather rely on hills, and views are expensive.
Vanier's lots seem to be smaller, but there does seem to be a fair bit of greenery. I don't know Ottawa at all. Is this area as bad as people make it out to be? Does the river stink or something?

Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Well known to be a area in crisis. Concrete hellhole.
 Just a few miles away, West Point Grey. The picture really speaks for itself. Look at how much bigger the houses are, how many more trees there are. The parks and the trees. Swimming pools in backyards.

Bridgeland is a poor neighbourhood in Calgary. It's not far from downtown.
 Mount Royal is a wealthy neighbourhood. Water and three golf courses. Not so many highways.

 Halifax is one of the cities where I could really see the disparity. Look at the difference in the number of trees and recreational areas.

 South End

 Winnipeg, rich and poor. There's more green, more water, and no industry in the wealthy area of Tuxedo (aptly named, I'd say).
 And here is the West End. Grid roads, lots of trees on the grid, but no obvious play areas. No parks.

Regina is the city I grew up in, and where my Mom still lives. It is definitely the city in Canada I know the most about.

Here are the curves I was talking about. Even in a city like Regina that is built mostly on a grid, there is this neighbourhood, called The Crescents. It's an older neighbourhood, but it's been very well maintained. It may not be the richest area of Regina, but it does have the highest property tax rate.

 Actually, I couldn't come up with "the richest" in Regina, because Regina isn't a really rich city. While there is a big disparity between rich and poor in Regina, it's not like that in Vancouver or Toronto, because there are simply no billionaires in Regina. The VERY rich don't live in Regina.

But the poor do. This is North Central, an area called "one of Canada's worst". It doesn't look that bad from space, but I wonder how much of that is because Regina is a pretty socialist city in a province that is often run by socialists. That's my speculation for the day. :) The green area, that looks like it could be a park (2nd row from the bottom, 6 columns in) is a high school. There's really nowhere for kids to play in this neighbourhood.
 Just for fun, this is the neighbourhood I grew up in. It's pretty middle class (Mom stayed home with us kids until we were old enough to come home from school on our own, and then worked for the city in a administrative assistant type job. Dad worked in farm equipment, and then as a Commissionaire). The schoolgrounds are larger than in North Central (bottom middle below and the two rectangles in the bottom row of the grid in above), it's not on a grid, and there's far more greenspace.

 Victoria is my new home. We moved here in 1998 when I got a fellowship at UVic.

This is my neighbourhood. It's most certainly not a wealthy neighbourhood by Victoria standards, but it is solidly middle class in most areas.
 The little A below is George Jay elementary school. It is an inner city school with lots of poverty issues. However, in this area, there is also some heavy-duty gentrification going on. There are lots of trees, but not by Victoria standards. The stadiums have very large fences so no one can play in them.

This is the richest area of Victoria. It's zoomed out for perspective. Look at how much of the richest real estate is wasted on a golf course. It's sickening.

Tell me about your city! And if you're from one of these cities, tell me what you think!

Update: Check out Uphill's take on Montreal. You can see the difference between rich and poor divided by a boulevard! http://caitlinuphill.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/wealth-and-inequality-seen-from-space/

23 August 2012

My God wants me to be pro-choice

Fern Hill over at Dammit Janet set upon me a task, to see what the Bible had to say about abortion. Short answer: Nada. I could not find a single reference to "abortion", "caused herself to miscarry", or any variation of those. Even "unborn" got me a single reference, and it was to "a people yet unborn". But there are references to babies in wombs, pregnant women, and so here are some of them. I left out the ones that weren't relevant to "personhood" or the equality of the babe in womb to the mother. Things like curses upon women that they'll miscarry, and references to war atrocities like ripping pregnant women open (because ew). That last one has some relevance.

Psalm 139:13
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Lovely image, that. Of course, we know that's not quite right, but it is a lovely image.

Isaiah 44:2
This is what the LORD says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

Same idea, God actively forming the fetus.

Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 20:17
For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever.

Okay, Jeremiah definitely feels like he was an individual in the womb, and that in the womb, he could be killed. And God said he knew him in the womb. Okay, I am definitely onboard with the idea that this is an argument for the fetus being a separate entity from its mother. But so what? Does that mean that his mother, or any mother, is morally obliged (never mind legally obliged) to allow it to continue to develop? Then? Certainly. Because the fetus belonged to her husband. Though many a woman found herself a way to abort. Seems if that were a big deal they'd have mentioned it. Now? No. Not for a woman who isn't Christian, certainly. Christians? I think that's between them and God, because there's nothing in here that is completely clear.

Luke 1:44
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

Oh boy. A fetus with emotions. Or maybe he just decided to kick. Mine liked to do that when I ate spicy food. Joy? A pretty image again, but I see no evidence of anything other than wishful thinking. Interestingly, this this the only reference in the New Testament bestowing any sort of awareness on a fetus.

Amos 1:13-14 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Ammon, even for four, I will not relent.
Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders, I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah that will consume her fortresses amid war cries on the day of battle, amid violent winds on a stormy day.

Ugh, it's that ugly ripping open pregnant women I mentioned. There's a fair bit of it in the Old Testament (Hosea and 2Kings especially). Looks like this is a worse crime than just killing the women or the children. Why? Because of a few things: Biggest reason is that pregnant women were property carrying other property. Children, in utero or not, were property of their fathers. Women, property of their husbands. So those pregnant women were especially valuable.

Genesis 38:24
About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

Well then. Nice guy. Guess that fetus is worthless. Doesn't seem to have any value to Judah at all. And when they do have value, well, we're back to property value:

Exodus 21:22-23 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life. (Gives birth prematurely = miscarriage, as in those times, preemies didn't have a chance - in the King James version, it reads "her fruit depart from her" - Good News bible says "loses the child")

There are lots of laws set out in Exodus about what you can do to slaves, children, people who curse their parents. And this one is right smack in the middle of it. It is absolutely clear in this passage that they did not believe fetuses to be of equal value to women. Killing a woman (accidentally, that is - go ahead and beat her to death if she cheated on you) was punishable by death. Killing a fetus, but not the woman, punishable by fine. A clear reference to the value of a fetus being less than the value of a wife.

So is this another example of the Bible contradicting itself? Not really. Okay, so assuming you take everything in there to be golden, and completely relevant today, what this says is that God forms life in women's wombs, little lives, capable of experiencing joy. And that these lives are just not as valuable as fully formed ones. They're valuable, certainly as property, with property value. God never really says anything about their inherent value as souls - oh sure, he had plans for some of those fetuses, and God's plans can't be thwarted by mere women with inconvenient pregnancies. Though maybe that's why he bothered to send angels to Mary and some of the other women, so they wouldn't find a good herbalist.

Okay, I'm being a bit facetious, because as I've said before, I think the Bible is an interesting set of tales that show us what our ancestors thought of God, not God's Law, enshrined in paper, divinely translated and transcribed perfectly for all eternity. We can learn from it, learn from them. So no, I don't think that Exodus's law for killing a fetus really proves what God thinks (because I'm pretty positive God doesn't want us keeping slaves and beating them - same book, same chapter), but it does show clearly that the people of the day didn't value fetuses like the anti-choice crowd now do, and claim God does (using scripture as backup). They're the first to jump on the likes of me for cherry-picking quotes, but they're leaving out a pretty damning one themselves.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: My God values human life: fetal life, child life, adult life, elderly life. My feeling is that God would really like our world to be such that no woman ever felt the need to abort, and that we are fucking it up royally. But my God is not an idiot. He knows that women will do this, for all sorts of reasons, some good, some terrible (for God to judge though, not me!). And he'll want them to be safe about it. Because he loves them. He'd rather lose one precious life than two. And so I am vehemently pro-choice. Because abortion restrictions do not prevent abortions. They push them underground, and instead of one life lost, there are two.

And that's what the anti-choicers miss. They're so concerned about the "right" of the fetus to live (I disagree with that too, but on different grounds), that they forget to give a shit about the mother. They say horrible things like, "If a woman doesn't want to die of an illegal abortion, she shouldn't have one". Which is short form for "You get what you deserve, slut". They don't care that there are situations where it is definitely a better choice to abort - abusive marriages, mother's health - mental or physical, the care of other children, just for starters. They live in this world of black and white, right and wrong. And that's just simply not reality. We live in a world where there's wrong and more wrong. Right and more right. Where children starve if Mom can't work, and Mom can't work if she's on bedrest. Where husbands beat women for being pregnant, even when they're the ones who got them that way. Where fragile minds would breakdown if the body had to carry a fetus to term. Where crappy Dads beat the shit out of kids, so maybe it's a bad idea to give him more victims. Where 9 year olds are impregnated by their stepfathers and don't have bodies built to have babies.

And NONE of that shit is God's plan. That's us fucking up God's plan. So we can make it worse by limiting women's options, driving them into situations where they feel like they're willing to risk death to end a pregnancy, and blaming them for their predicament, or we can make a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Where every child is cherished. You tell me, just how could God not want that?

21 August 2012

Solidarity forever

There's a lot of union bashing going on today, as it was released that unionized workers make an average of about  $5/hr more than non-union workers.

For the union bashers:
Okay, let me say this in small words that assholes like you might understand: Unions raise the standards for everyone. Don't believe me? Go work in the oil fields in Nigeria. Then go work in them here. If there were not a threat of unionization, if there were not unions in other trades, raising the bar for other workers, the rig pigs would be treated like their porcine namesake.

The reason that workers are treated better here than in other countries isn't because of the magical market adjusting itself - the US "right to work" states show that people will work for poverty wages. The reason is that we have strong unions that raise the bar for everyone else.

And what about all that money? Oh, those poor corporations. They have less money to pay giant bonuses to executives. Oh no. Instead, that money is in the hands of people who will actually spend it in the economy, instead of hoarding it, to make it make more money for them.

Unions are GOOD for the economy.

Oh sure, they banter back and forth, demanding too much, knowing that's how they'll get what they need. And yes, some of them are corrupt. Like corporations. Like any organization of people. But they are good for our economy, good for our people, and good for society as a whole.

17 August 2012


So, it occurs to me that I'm a bit weird. There are a lot of reasons *ahem* feminist AND christian, but there are a lot of little oddities to me. Maybe the kids come by their autism kinda honestly. As opposed to dishonestly, I mean, where they stole it from other kids walking down the street, leading their mom to believe that what she fed them for breakfast that morning cured them

I have listened to exactly one CD (West My Friend) pretty much continuously for the last... um... 5 months. Oh sure, I listen to the radio and to MP3s at home, but in my van (which is named Halen the Loser Cruiser) there has been one CD in the player since the day I got it. Seriously. I have listened to it hundreds of times. Sometimes skipping between my favourite songs. Sometimes not. I'm starting to hear things in it I didn't before, like messages from Satan, instructions to watch SunTV, harmonies I didn't hear before, and cool things like "the accordian is one of their major percussion instruments". And while I obviously love this band, I'm going to require them to release a new CD soon. However, they are on tour right now, so I'm thinking that's not top priority for them at this point. I'll tell them though. Bands love it when you demand they provide you with fresh music, right?

16 August 2012

Small Things Count

I've been watching the General Council meeting of the United Church with some interest. New moderator, new policy, it's all very interesting. Today, the new moderator was announced. The Reverend Doctor Gary Paterson was elected on the final ballot. He is the United Church's first openly gay moderator, which is a beautiful step forward for us. Go read at the link. Or this one (pdf). As @REVocable on twitter said, "This is not my grandfather's church. And thank God for that!"

I liked Mardi Tindal, and I suspect I'm going to like Gary Paterson too. God is good. I hope we were listening. :)

p.s. My daughter thinks it's HILARIOUS that the United Church has a "moderator". She says we were so far ahead of the curve to come up with an internet term. :)

15 August 2012

This is feminist?

UGH. Amanda Marcotte just told me that because I'm a SAHM my husband should give me an allowance, because "it would be a lovely gesture of love and respect for your privacy and autonomy". I am so disgusted by this idea, it's just not even funny.

The fact that I have full access to every cent he makes and all the credit in his name isn't enough. I apparently should be expecting that he's going to leave me, take my money, or get abusive, and that I should keep a private account for that apparent eventuality.

It all started over an article that said that people shouldn't keep secret bank accounts from their spouses and she said that everyone should get their own money. I said it's a matter of trust. You don't keep secrets from a spouse in a healthy relationship.

There's more, but I just got smacked upside the head with Snap's craziness, so I'm going to have to go deal with that. There's enough here for a post.

I hate hate.

A man with a gun shot a security guard at the Family Research Council today. While the Family Research Council is a hate group, no one deserves to be shot. Especially not some dude hired to guard the place.

You know what Penny? I didn't see you and your kind praying for the families of the dead and injured at the Sikh temple, or praying for their shooter to be delivered from the evil that motivated him. And how, pray tell, does this prove that the FRC is not a hate group? Hate groups can't be targeted by domestic terrorists? The only victims are completely innocent, totally righteous victims? Puhleeze. No one deserves to be shot. Ever. That includes the likes of the KKK. If someone went after them with a gun, I'd condemn it too. And it wouldn't make them any less of a hate group.

And ya know, there's been one "source" that claims the guy walked in there with a problem with their policies. And guess what, it's an unnamed Fox News source. It might as well be someone's brother's barber's cousin's dog groomer's sister, for all the credibility that holds. I'll wait until I hear it from the FBI. 

I do find it interesting that the shooter, Floyd Corkins, may have recently in the military. Seems to be a lot of that going around in the losing one's mind and shooting up the place types.

I will be praying. For the shooter, for his family. For the security guard who got shot in the arm. For the RWNJs who work at all these places and think that God wants them to spread hate and intolerance. And especially for the people who are victims of the FRC's nastiness.

"Thomas, you are causing confusion and delay"

What, two posts in a row? No...

So, I'm not quite understanding the process at GC41. First, it seems like the motion has passed to support the boycott on occupied Palestinian territory, now it seems like it wasn't. This video is supposed to help, but doesn't. Twitter is aflutter with IT PASSED! tweets, and I'm already seeing responses to it. Hell if I know what's going on.

I had to write a fuck off letter this morning. Okay, it was more of a please won't you kindly fuck off, but it was still fuck off. Gist: Our strata likes to keep fees low by organizing work parties. I don't go. I am too busy with my children, and childcare is impossible on Saturday mornings. I offer to pay for supplies, and last time I bought the work party two boxes of doughnuts. This morning, a snippy email arrived, addressed to everyone, but clearly a shot at me and my family in a few places. So, I did a reply-to-all smackdown that started with, "With all due respect, NosyNeighbour'sName, when some of us don't show up to these things it's for a very good reason, and I don't appreciate this heavy-handed email."

Ya know, the world would be a lot better place if instead of assuming that people who don't do their fair share are lazy assholes, that people assumed there was some reason why they aren't, and wish they could. It'd make everyone happier. And correct, far more often than not. Most people do what they can. Those who don't are rarer than most people think.

Someone on the internet is wrong again, which means I have to spend hours arguing with her. :) Anyway, she says this about Obama: "he is taking over powers and controls that will render us w/o freedoms, eventually, if he continues." Any idea what theocon or neocon bullshit talking point she's trying to parrot here?

14 August 2012

They celebrated with joy the Festival of Unleavened Bread

Forgive me, internet, for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last blog post. Since that time, lots of interesting things have happened, but I have not blogged on them. My penance? I dunno. I think the interesting things might have been the penance in and of themselves. :)

My inlaws were in town for a few days, which put a serious crimp in my plans not to watch a single second of the olimpdicks. It was my birthday - I got a subscription to a gardening magazine, $100 toward my trip to MA[1], and a compliant daughter for 3 days (Seriously, that's what I asked her for. Good behaviour for 3 days and she didn't have to buy me anything for my birthday). It was lovely.

The United Church is having a general conference, and I haven't posted about it. Some highlights:

  • Motion to stand with Canada's native peoples on the impact of bituminous oil sands passes
  • Church "categorically rejects" the Northern Gateway pipeline.
  • They're still debating the boycott on products from Israeli settlements. It is NOT a boycott of Israeli products. It is a boycott on Israeli settlement products. Interestingly, many Jewish groups are also in favour of this boycott.

The PQ wants to ban overt religious symbols in the public service. So civil servants wouldn't be able to wear crucifixes, or I assume, turbans? That is so not going to fly. And it shouldn't. Now, I agree, you don't put up a cross in a DMV (though the symbology might actually fit ...) but banning civil servants from wearing a cross? HELL NO. Even elected officials should be able to wear whatever they like in terms of religious paraphernalia. Look, it's better to know what you're voting for. If a person is religious but has to hide it, it will not change their religious beliefs - and beliefs make a person who they are. If someone's religion is so weak that it is overrun by their political ambitions, they're not worth voting for. And if their religious beliefs are going to contribute to their political values, then it's best that we know what those religious beliefs are, no?

I've noticed something weird lately. A lot of people are quoting scripture in their email or post signature lines. It's a sign of the very weird times, I think. I also think it would be HILARIOUS to pick out random lines and quote them and make people wonder what I'm on about. Something like, "When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there."
Ruth 1:5-7  But I'm weird that way. Still, wouldn't that be fun? And if you've read this long, maybe now you know the point of the post title, i.e. that there isn't one. :)
[1] If you would like to donate to my trip, the widget is up on the right. I cannot begin to tell you how much the program has already helped me and my boys (not so much the girl, but it has helped me deal with her, so that's a start). If you're donated out, that's okay. Save it. At some point, I may want to take Crackle there for an intensive program. And that costs $15,000. It sounds crazy stupid expensive, I know, but I did a breakdown on the cost of it, considering the staff they employ to do it, and it's actually quite reasonable. Seriously.

30 July 2012

Holy Shit

The last time the Globe and Mail called me to ask if I wanted a subscription, I told them that if that windbag asshole Margaret Wente was still writing columns for them, then no, I did not. And never ever would give them a cent, because I cannot stand that ignorant, right-wing, bag of vinegar water. After the sales person (likely some commissioned kid in university) stopped laughing, he told me that I was the second person that night to say something to that effect, albeit less colourfully.

In an attempt to live in a world that I enjoy, I regularly put my fingers in my ears and sing LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU try to avoid Maggie and her bullshit. However, this weekend's spew has come to my attention in several of my circles, and I have to write something about it.

"Two weeks from now, the United Church of Canada will assemble in Ottawa for its 41st General Council, where it will debate church policy and elect a new moderator. The top item on its agenda is a resolution calling for a boycott of products from Israeli settlements. Fortunately, nobody cares what the United Church thinks about Israeli settlements, or anything else for that matter, because the United Church doesn’t matter any more."

And we're off to a stellar start. "The top item on its agenda" is wrong. It is a single item on the agenda, part of the proposal to Council from the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.Yes, it calls for a boycott on products procured in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. It seems that this group has found the occupation of the area to be problematic. I'm able to see that that doesn't mean they're anti-Semitic or even anti-Israel. It just means they disagree on this and would like to exert economic pressure on them. By the way, it would be almost entirely symbolic, because as Wente is gleefully pointing out, we're not that powerful any longer.

And "nobody cares"? Well, Mags, that's funny, because Bernie Farber blew a gasket last time this shit came up. You calling him nobody? Do that in print, I dare you.

But today, the church is literally dying. The average age of its members is 65. They believe in many things, but they do not necessarily believe in God. Some congregations proudly describe themselves as “post-theistic,” which is a good thing because, as one church elder said, it shows the church is not “stuck in the past.” Besides, who needs God when you’ve got Israel to kick around?

Right. I think there is one congregation saying this, and their idea is pretty much panentheistic. They are a miniscule minority, and the subject of a lot of debate. And "who needs God when you’ve got Israel to kick around?" is a lovely little logical fallacy. Who even says that congregation is part of the group that proposed the boycott? And is she trying to say that they've replaced God with Israel hating? And has she ever heard of some of the southern American churches and their hate-on for Jews? Is she calling them liberals? What the hell is this even supposed to mean?

The United Church is not alone. All the secular liberal churches are collapsing. The Episcopalians – the American equivalent of the United Church – have lost a quarter of their membership in the past decade.

Sweet Jesus. What exactly is a "secular church"?

Episcopalians are the American equivalent of the United Church? Where is she getting this shit from? Because they had a General Council meeting last month too? Is that all it takes? Or because they affirmed equal marriage at it they're the same as the United Church? Episcopalians are more like Anglicans than United Church. The United Church is a lot more like a combination of the United Methodists, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarians all combined into a lovely concoction of people who follow the social gospel.

 They’re at their lowest point since the 1930s. Not coincidentally, they spent their recent general meeting affirming the right of the transgendered to become priests. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it doesn’t top most people’s lists of pressing spiritual or even social issues.

Actually, like the Israel boycott, this was one point. And clearly it was on someone's radar. Like the transgendered people who wanted to become priests. And why is it that when it's a point like transgendered priests, it's something no one cares about, but when it's an Israeli boycott, it's OMG!ANTISEMITES!? Right, because Wente is one of those assholes who thinks that if it doesn't matter to her, it doesn't matter to anyone, and if it matters to her, everyone else cares too. Wrong. At my church, I've never heard Israel mentioned in a non-historical/non-biblical context.

Back in the 1960s, the liberal churches bet their future on becoming more open, more inclusive, more egalitarian and more progressive. They figured that was the way to reach out to a new generation of worshippers. It was a colossal flop.

Was that the plan? Or was it that there was a rising human rights movement that people in the church were part of, and believed to be what good Christians do, affirm that God loves everyone? I don't think you can blame declining church numbers on progressivism. Every fuck you to the Christians I've ever heard was about how we're exactly not this. Most former Christians I've heard from (read or talked to) have said that they left the church because they couldn't reconcile the Bible to their beliefs, at least not the way that their churches were teaching it.

The United Church’s high-water mark was 1965, when membership reached nearly 1.1 million. Since then it has shrunk nearly 60 per cent. Congregations have shrunk too – but not the church’s infrastructure or the money needed to maintain it. 

It's true. We're shrinking. But Wente is begging the question by assuming the premise that it is our progressive, egalitarian values that are causing it.

Today, the church has too many buildings and too few people to pay for their upkeep. Yet its leadership seems remarkably unperturbed. “It’s considered wrong to be concerned about the numbers – too crass, materialistic and business-oriented,” says Mr. Ewart. The church’s leaders are like the last of the Marxist-Leninists: still convinced they’re right despite the fact that the rest of the world has moved on.

Oh, I laugh and laugh at this one. So the church leadership (whoever they are) are largely unperturbed, trusting God to show us the way to minister to our communities, and having a 'if you build it, they will come' kind of attitude toward it, not pushing it on people in a way we know turns people off, showing them we are Christian by our love and service. But we're "post-theistic" right? And we're just worried about hating on Israel, right? Pick an argument and stick with it. Either we're secular, having given up on God (at which point I think we'd be a lot more materialistic and business-like) or we're a bunch of hippie-dippy idiots who can't see a bottom line when its staring us in the face.

And the The church’s leaders are like the last of the Marxist-Leninists is HILARIOUS. First, which church leaders? We're a bottom-up organization. That's how proposals like the Israel boycott get made. And second, nice way of gently insinuating we're communists. That's rich.

Clearly, changes in society have had an enormous impact on church attendance. Volunteerism and other civic institutions are also in decline. Busy two-career families have less discretionary time for everything, including church. Sundays are for chores and shopping now. As for Sunday school, parents would rather take the kids to sports.

Ding ding ding! Finally, she gets one right. It had to happen. I mean, it's statistically impossible for someone who is making shit up to be wrong 100% of the time. And this is why I keep saying the church needs to change far far far more wildly to adapt to this changing reality. Let's face it, churches are conservative in many ways, even my beloved UCC. We take years to do simple shit that should take weeks. And when it's something that requires major change? Well, that's almost impossible.

As the United Church found common cause with auto workers, it became widely known as the NDP at prayer. Social justice was its gospel. Spiritual fulfilment would be achieved through boycotts and recycling. Instead of Youth for Christ, it has a group called Youth for Eco-Justice. Mardi Tindal, the current moderator, recently undertook a spiritual outreach tour across Canada to urge “the healing of soul, community and creation” by reducing our carbon footprint. Which raises the obvious question: If you really, really care about the environment, why not just join Greenpeace?

Yeah, guilty as charged. We just can't help but love the earth that God gave us. I don't know what is wrong with us that we are driven by our love for God to protect God's creation instead of going around proselytising about Jesus to people who clearly don't care. What could we be thinking?

According to opinion polls, people’s overall belief in God hasn’t declined. What’s declined is people’s participation in religion. With so little spiritual nourishment to offer, it’s no wonder the liberal churches have collapsed.

So little spiritual nourishment? Wait, she's equating trying to force others to believe the way we do by running around cramming it down their throats to spiritual nourishment? THAT explains a lot about poor old Wente. Dear Maggie. I get a lot of spiritual fulfillment in a lot of different ways. Some of them Church-based, some not. But not a single one of them involves trying to convert people to my faith. Yes, I'd like to see more people in the pews (sorta - I'd like to see the pews gone entirely, but that's another post), but I want them there because we offer them something, not because we've battered them, scared them shitless of the afterlife, or made it socially unacceptable not to join. And if that means our numbers go down, that's what it means. God will show us the way.

It’s possible that organized religion in the developed world has had its day. After all, even conservative evangelicals like the Southern Baptists are in decline. Yet not all faiths have succumbed to Mammon. Mosques are popping up all over, and in Canada there are probably more kids in Islamic class than Sunday school. In the United States, Mormonism – which requires obligatory missionary service and a hefty tithe – is going strong, despite widespread ridicule from the mainstream press. Thanks to immigrants, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church also remains vibrant. Most Jews I know still belong to synagogues, send their kids to Hebrew school and have them bar mitzvahed.

Mammon? You invoke Mammon? The person who was mocking our distaste for materialism? Oh honey. Not cool. Do you even know who Mammon is?

And interesting how you note that even conservative evangelical churches are on the decline, way near the end of the article, long after most people with any intelligence have given up on your crap. So those churches are declining too, so doesn't that exactly contradict your premise that it's progressive, egalitarian ideals that are destroying it?

Mormonism... Oh yes, they're doing fine. And why? Because if you quit, you're shunned (though not as much as the JWs). And most people aren't willing to give up their families to leave. So they go. But you can't tell me all of 'em are believers.

And yes, thanks to immigrants the RC isn't declining. But without immigrants? It's collapsing too. And you can't call the Roman Catholic church a bastion of liberal ideals. Well, Wente could. She's not bound by anything resembling fact, apparently.

And really, most Jews she knows "still belong to synagogues and send their kids to Hebrew school and have them bar mitzvahed"? Really? Most Jews I know eat cheeseburgers, watch TV on Saturday, and know a smattering of Hebrew. And is "bar mitzvah" really a verb? I don't think so. And so what? Most people I know who grew up in a Christian church still get their kids baptized and then never go back into a church until that kid's wedding. What exactly is she trying to say?

Should anybody miss the church? Yes, says Mr. Ewart. The church gave families a way to participate together in a community larger than themselves, for a purpose greater than themselves. Most of us don’t have a way to do that any more. Our kids won’t even have it in their memory bank.

What the hell? First she goes mocking the United Church's commitment to working to protect the earth, and then says there's no way to participate? Please. And let me tell you how it was when I was a kid. We went to church Saturday night or Sunday morning. We sat their quietly for the hour and then left. There was no community. There was no involvement. My Mom tried to join the CWL and said she sat there through 3 meetings where no one so much as talked to her, so she quit. When my Dad died, and we went to her church for the funeral, the priest didn't know her name. No one from her church visited her except the appointed volunteer counsellor who was terrible. Wente and Ewart both are guilty of romanticizing the past.

In the past few years, Mr. Ewart has spent time hanging out with evangelicals – people who actually talk about loving Jesus. He admires their personal, emotional connection to God. Lately, he has even started praying. Perhaps he could pray for the church in which he spent his life to stop its self-immolation. But it’s probably too late.

Eesh. Loving Jesus is great. But it's the starting point, not the ending point, and that's what evangelicals often miss. If the point of their evangelism is to make others love Jesus too, they're doing it wrong. The point of evangelism should be to show other people how WE love Jesus, by doing what he asked of us: loving God, and loving each other.

Do I love Margaret Wente? Yup. I'd feed her if she were hungry. I'd give her my clothes if she had none. I'd buy her medicine if she were sick. And I think she's full of shit.

27 July 2012

The Son-Rise Kool-Aid

I really like the Son-Rise Kool-Aid. I cannot even believe how much easier life is around here since we stopped ABA and started running a Son-Rise program. SO MANY BENEFITS!

1) Crackle is so much happier. He's used a few words here and there, and is just easier to be around. His challenging isms (stims) have decreased a lot. Most especially, he's not peeing on the floor anymore. He's sleeping far better (unless he gets too much sugar)
2) Pop is far less rigid. Far far far less. And less scared of most things. He's still afraid of flies, but he's pointing out other bugs and worms and stuff to me now.
3) Me. I have changed. I'm no longer fighting Autism. I'm playing in it. I used to hate Autism. I mean despise it. I hated that it "stole my baby". I hated that they had extra challenges, and that the world sucked for them. I don't hate it any more. I'm happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying, "YAY! My kids have autism!" I'm saying, "I'm happy where we are with what we have and I can work with them and play with them to help them get by in the world better" which is pretty much the definition of good parenting. Everyone has challenges. Everyone needs parental help and support. And that's what I'm doing. And I'm having a good time of it. We're playing. We're laughing. We're hugging. It's awesome.

So I'm going back there in November. For more ideas, for more advanced training. I'm going to put up the Chip-In button again, because for my kids, it's worth my pride. :)

I said I would post pictures after the last trip. Never did, but a promise made is a debt unpaid, so I'm paying up.

This is the building where my room was. I had a lovely roommate who flew there, 6 months pregnant, from Nigeria.
A blurry pic of some of the other Autism parents. In the back window, there was a translator, translating into French for a woman from Europe who didn't speak any English. There were parents from all over the world.

What I found on the grounds: tranquility. A true metaphor.