Friday, May 20, 2011
Enjoy, everyone. After two weeks of grace to get you acclimated to wordpress, I'll be deleting this blog and using the wordpress one exclusively.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Next to Olivia and me was a handsome young man, about late 20s, early 30s, dressed nicely, who came in after us and ordered a bottle of Procecco (One of my favourites) in a bucket, and waited, presumably for a date, with such a nice sparkling wine. Olivia and I ordered our meal and we were enjoying ourselves, until an hour had passed, and this poor poor man was still at his table alone, looking anxious, waiting around for his date, checking his watch. More time passed, and Olivia and I were exchanging looks, feeling terrible for him. More time passed, and a couple of people in the restaurant were also watching, and looked to be on the verge of tears in sympathy for this fellow. He looked positively crestfallen.
And then, poof! Just as Olivia and I were about to invite him to join us, a woman frantically ran in and kissed him, his face bubbling over with joy and relief. Everyone in the restaurant started laughing, smiling, and clapping, admitting that they were all thinking of inviting him to their table. The woman apologized repeatedly, offered to pay for the date, and promised everyone that her beau could hold it against her "as long as he wants. Seven, nine years, whatever the statute of limitations is on these things."
I thought stuff like this only happened in movies.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Originally posted at my Goodreads account:
Today, I went to the library and I picked up a variety of graphic novels. Among them were Maus and Fax from Sarajevo. After reading Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, I suppose you could say I’m hungry for more graphic novels about wartime. As odd as it may seem, I believe that graphic novels are probably one of the best mediums with which to truly capture the human side of war.
It’s especially funny that one would describe Maus as “humanizing” the Holocaust and WWII, because the characters are all animals. The Jews are mice (There’s a funny moment where the artist talks about how he contemplated drawing his wife, a French woman who converted to Judaism) the Poles are pigs, Roma are Gypsy moths, Germans are cats, Americans are dogs, Swedes are moose, and French are frogs.
It’s almost absurd to think about how this animal tale could so thoroughly capture the tragedy and suffering that people underwent regardless of nationality. But it does.
The narration itself is interesting too, built around a story within a story. The topmost layer is of Art the artist attempting to capture his father’s stories. It’s not an easy task, his father’s a crotchety old man who is difficult to deal with, absurdly frugal, and clingy towards his son. There are some funny moments when you see that stuff the father clearly never intended to go into the comic are included.
Him being so persnickety, having such a strained relationship with his son, his maltreatment of his second wife, and his idiosyncratic habits may irritate Art, but for the reader, they help us realize how tragedy doesn’t make people into angels. It makes them into survivors, and survivors do not come out of their trauma as virtuous beings capable of no wrong. It’s difficult for people to have conversations about the effects of trauma with honesty and clarity, so its portrayal in Maus is particularly memorable and strong.
In his past, during Shoah, Art’s father wasn’t a fellow of Mary Sue virtue either. He bartered with Cats and Pigs who were persecuting him and his people in order to secure his life, and survived by being crafty and lucky. Art grapples with this, but he has to acknowledge that, being born after the war, he cannot know what it is like to be focused on one goal: Survival. It changes people.
There are equal moments of bitter, funny, and tragic in Maus, and all three help form a semi complete portrait of one survivor’s experience and how it plays from generation to generation. In fact, the book is dedicated to Art’s daughter.
As we advance in life, it is presumed that something as terrible as Shoah can never happen again. This assumption is predicated on the idea that we cannot ever sink that low again, that we’re above that now. In a section added for the complete edition, Art is shown being asked by a German translator about how German youth are “tired” of the Holocaust, and why should they feel guilty about it? Art replies that we are all guilty in that instance. But books like Maus make it clear that the price we pay for a world where we hope a Holocaust won’t happen again is that we know it, learn of it, and never forget it. Books burn, people die, pictures fade and crack. But memories can help keep it fresh, and they can live on, from person to person, if they are shared.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I was in awe. I felt like humbled, because hours earlier, I had been contemplating fleeing Canada in order to find greener pastures in Sweden or Norway for the disabled, queer progressive and her disabled, queer, trans girlfriend. But these people, my elders, including my friend, who has been a mother figure to me while I have lived in Montana, was showing me the proof of what can be done if you stay and fight.
I will never judge anyone who decides to seek out a better life for themselves in another country. But I have decided, after fearfully leafing through a Swedish dictionary, that I can and will stay to fight for Canada up to 2015 and beyond. I'm tired of running, for one. And secondly, I began thinking of how people like Harper and conservatives had stolen and modified the word "patriot" and created this artificial dichotomy between "true" Canadians and everyone else.
I'm a patriot too. I'm a Canadian too. And this is my country as much as it is for a conservative anglo Christian who was born in Canada. And I can no longer passively allow such language, such ideas, such exceptionalism run rampant at the expense of the happiness, safety, and liberty of my fellow Canadians, my beautiful girlfriend, and myself.
My elders in the disability community, thank you for giving me a valuable lesson in courage.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
It's an upsetting, horrible realization of what was inevitable all along; in a society that did not respect Lou's disability, it would be only a matter of time before he was pressured by one thing or another into accepting the "cure" that was made available in the story.
But that doesn't mean that this was a bad book, or that Elizabeth Moon, the author, was condoning the disablist notion that autistic people would be better with a cure. Far from it. Lou's fate is tragic, and she makes this clear. He loses interest in the things he loves doing, he becomes detached from his friends, and his life takes on a bland desperation.
It leaves a grim impression towards the end, but before it slid down that sad road, I greatly enjoyed my journey with Lou, and felt great sympathy for him, living in such an uncertain world for people like him. I can relate as another autistic person who is extremely disturbed by the eliminationist rhetoric which surrounds conversations about autism in the mainstream. In one way, I envied the world Lou inhabited, because he received workplace accommodations I could only dream of. But he was in a hellish world for me, the last of his kind, and facing a future where it is certain that after he dies (or is "cured") there will be no more like him. There are no autistic elders for him to seek consolation or advice from, and no autistic children to guide and offer help to. A true nightmare, being an endangered species.
Lou seems content with many aspects of his life though, and has friends who are both neurotypical and autistic like him. He holds down a job doing pattern recognition, and is given the necessary tools to have a job, like a gym to stim, colourful accessories for his office, and breaks to listen to music. Heavenly.
However, in the eyes of one of his bosses, this is considered a nuisance, and he seeks to "cure" the auties working for his company in order to minimize what he sees as unnecessary expenses, to fund an expensive space project. This space project ends up being a sort of Chekhov's Gun for Lou after he is given the treatment, it is significant that it is the original catalyst in pushing for him to be cured.
As the novel progresses and it becomes unclear whether Mr Crenshaw, the boss, will have his way with the autistic employees, Lou's life is revealed to be one of orderly calm. It is disrupted, however, by this news of Mr Crenshaw's scheme, and his love for a neurotypical woman, which becomes a central point of his life as he grapples with whether to ask her out or not, and he feels the fallout of another man's jealousy, which takes a violent turn.
There are many other plot points in the story which seem unresolved or are simply dropped once Lou is "cured"; his relationship with a neuro-atypical woman named Emmy who sneers at him for hanging around "normals", but seems to harbour a crush on him, the autistic brother of another boss, Mr Aldrin, and the potential Lou has to become a fencing champion. All sort of sputter and die once the treatment drops the ball.
The writing isn't what I would call airtight, I mentioned earlier broken threads, and there is some meandering to the writing, and sometimes tangents which don't advance the story or plot, such as when Lou contemplates the fate of someone who attacked him. In this century, there's a rather Alex DeLarge style treatment used which cures violent impulses of criminals, and Lou spends much time musing on the implications of such technology, but never really comes to a fine point on how this relates to his upcoming treatment, and how his brain will be altered.
But the strength of Lou as a character, his tragic fate, and the pro-neurodiversity message outweigh the weaknesses. It may have an unhappy ending, but it is not the end for autism. Moon wrote this before the burgeoning of autistic self-advocacy, and I get the feeling that works like these which plea for understanding rather than hasty disablist cures will aid a rosier future for people with autism become a reality.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
The secondary meaning of Mitzvah refers to a moral deed performed as a religious duty. As such, the term mitzvah has also come to express an act of human kindness. The tertiary meaning of Mitzvah also refers to the fulfillment of a mitzvah.Alright. Good. We got that out of the way. Goyishe readers, you're welcome.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Hooray! Hooray! It looks like there is finally going to be a nerdgirl movie! I09.com's interview with the author sounds absolutely promising. Someone who collected Bajoran earrings as a teenager can't be a bad person. Period.
One Con Glory is a story about life, love, and action figures - and one woman's obsession with avoiding the first two while seeking the third. It follows Julie, a nerd culture reporter covering a giant comic book convention. A little too much drinking on the first night leads to antics that leave Julie with an ill-gotten classic action figure, a new relationship, and a blood feud against another reporter.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Now, when I first heard about this rule, I was extremely worried, because my boss at the time was a heavy smoker who regularly took smoke breaks. This boss also hated my guts and made my life miserable, and I was dreading how mean she would be to me when she was going through a nicotine withdrawal. It would have been hell on earth.
Then, I quit my job, and found a new one, and I was able to focus on the long-term implications of the rule outside of me being treated like dirt. And I decided I was in favour of it. Smokers at UM have designated smoke areas, and are forbidden from smoking closer than 25 feet (7.62 m) to a building entrance, for obvious reasons. But many, my former boss included, disobeyed this ruling, and smoked right outside the building. This means that anyone who was exiting a building after class was treated to a humongous cloud of cigarette smoke right in their face.
I have sensory issues with certain scents, but tobacco isn't among them for me personally. For other people with SPD, or those with allergies or asthma, this is more than an inconvenience, it's a threat to their health. One which some smokers completely disregard for their own convenience. I concluded that, if banning tobacco outright was what it would take to stop this, then so be it. My right to good health outweighs the right of a smoker to engage in their habit.
I maintained this stance, offering a shrugging "too bad" to anyone who complained about the ruling. A few times, I saw a "When UM bans tobacco I will still smoke here" bulls-eyes on the sidewalks of campus, and didn't think much of it.
After visiting the University of Victoria though, I've decided that the tobacco ban will have unintended consequences for the University, not only for the campus, but the town of Missoula at large, if not the whole state, in terms of environmental health.
See, Victoria, according to my significant other, also has a tobacco free policy. She told me this after I was inquiring at the disgusting sight of cigarette butts scattered all over campus, concentrated outside buildings entrances. Apparently, in the discouraging of smoking on campus, UVic decided to remove the ashtrays that mark entrances of buildings to UM. So smokers have decided to instead, dump their butts wherever it strikes their fancy.
I should mention, for the geographically un-inclined, that Victoria is situated on an island, one where it rains. A lot. Meaning that each time it rains, those damn butts probably wash into the ocean surrounding the island, giving a big ol' dose of butts courtesy of inconsiderate UVic students, to the fish, whales, and other sea life which populate the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest. Lovely. Just lovely.
Missoula, to contrast, is inland, but has a river running through it. If the smokers at UM follow UVic's smokers' example after the ban goes into place, then UM's butts will wash up in the Clark Fork river, a nicotine treat for the turtles, fish, and waterfowl.
Since a group of UM's smokers have demonstrated before that they care very little about the well-being of fellow humans, I doubt they will extend any courtesy to the animal life of UM and consider the consequences of dumping their butts wherever they like. And once those ashtrays are gone, I'm almost certain some of those butts will end up on the ground and then in the river.
It's a G-d damn pity that we would have to accommodate the obscenely rude behaviour of a couple of selfish, pathetic individuals. But that is the case, sadly, and that's why ultimately, I've decided not to support banning tobacco at my university. It will go into effect no matter what, but it's my hope UM will at least take initiative to ensure that butts don't get dumped.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Oh. By the way.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
So here is what I wrote on Margaret Cho's link to the contest. If she actually looks at her facebook page, I hope she considers my words:
Margaret, I love you, and I'm a big fan of yours. I'm also autistic, and I'm BEGGING YOU not to support Autism Speaks. They're hated and reviled in the autism community for using pity-baiting and not having any autistic representation on their board of directors or positions of power, which is radically outside of the norm of disability activism. Autism Speaks thoroughly defies the model of "Nothing about us without us."Here's to hoping, but I'm not that optimistic. That's my teaspoon for today. If I can get one celebrity to stop supporting the horribleness that is Autism Speaks, I'll upgrade myself from teaspoon to tablespoon for today. :-)
They're also just a crappy charity. They're not recommended by the Better Business Bureau, and only 7 cents of every dollar donated to them goes to helping autistic families.
Please, if you want to support an autism related charity, consider the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, The Easter Seals, or the Autism Society of America. NOT Autism Speaks. I'm autistic, and Autism Speaks doesn't speak for me.