sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k and I saw this together and we both really liked it.

Set at a Harvard stand in called Winchester, DWP focuses on 4 black students who are searching for their identities in a highly pressured environment. The houses that people live in feature prominently, as do the newspapers and satire publication. People's connections and activities have the inflated importance of the Ivy League environment. Race, class, and sexual orientation are addressed in a way that is natural to the characters and plot.

Samantha White, an activist and artist, runs for president of her house and wins unexpectedly. She becomes the de facto leader of the activist black students on campus, while struggling to find her own true voice and desires. She has a radio show called "Dear White People" and makes films.

Troy Fairbanks loses this election, to the disappointment of his father, the Dean of Students. Searching for something else to get involved in, he investigates the satirical publication Patische, (the not-Lampoon), which is run by the most entitled white boys on campus.

CoCo Conners wants to be a star and is willing to stir up trouble in order to catch the eye of a talent scout who is on campus. She is most definitely not an activist.

Lionel Higgins is a queer, geeky writer who doesn't fit in anywhere. He thinks about writing a story about Samantha, tries hanging out with the white journalism geeks, and ends up finding his place with the activists.

The villain of the piece is Kurt Fletcher, who heads up a fraternity and runs Pastiche. All of these people and threads come together when the fraternity throws a racist Halloween party.

There is a lot going on here but it's easy to follow, and easy to get drawn into these people's lives and dramas. They are realistic and sympathetic characters even when they sometimes make foolish choices. There are some very funny moments and some painful ones.

The experimentation and searching that people go through during college are familiar themes, and it's wonderful to see things like racism, homophobic bullying, etc, consciously explored through several characters' view points. Sure, everyone searches, but some people have more shit to deal with, and different people respond in different ways.

I hope this movie makes a ton of money and we get to see more like it.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
Flat Out Bolli (her racing name) hails from Mobile, Alabama originally. She is a small black Greyhound with some white on her. She has a cowlick on her neck that makes it seem like she has a mohawk. She will be 3 in December. She is super chill and is already napping on the rug on the living room floor. She is interested in toys.

I plan on changing her name; I don't really like "Bolli" as a nickname. Taking name suggestions in comments!

Photo Album at Flickr
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
Beginners (2010) R. Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent.

MacGregor plays Oliver, a 38-year-old graphic designer who has recently lost his father. In flashbacks and narration, we see his close relationship to his father, who came out publicly as gay at age 75. Now, in 2003, Oliver is struggling with grief, with the fact that his parents were never in love, and with his own relationships and feelings. Oliver falls for a woman named Anna. In flashbacks, his father falls for a younger man, played by Goran Visnjic, and gets involved with gay politics. The movie is engaging and told with sensitivity and emotional nuance. People at any age can be beginners at life and love.
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
Not sure if I should post this locked or unlocked. I'm putting myself out there a lot with this post-- please don't link w/o permission.

Content note: discusses harassment/bullying and responses to it.

Learning to recognize harassment - general thoughts )

a wiscon story )
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
I read the long article in Buzzfeed about misogyny in the atheist and skeptic communities, written by Mark Oppenheimer:

Will misogyny bring down the atheist movement? (content note: harassment, rape, gas lighting, etc).

This is a pretty thorough article, although there are some odd writing and editing choices in it. For instance, blogger Watson has her appearance described, although no one else does. Male privilege is mentioned nowhere. A quote given by a man, in reference to hate male, is pictured next to a woman, making it look like she said it.

There are many good points, though, and a lot of good background, such as the fact that the skeptic movement attracts libertarians. Some of the community is there via magic debunking, while others are there via ivory-tower science, and people who come from social justice areas don't necessarily have a lot in common with those folks.

In talking about this on twitter, a friend pointed out that people in geeky, alternative communities are used to feeling embattled, so are resistant to attempts to change their behavior (a geek fallacy-type observation). Also, sometimes assholes make good activists because they focus on one goal to the exclusion of all else, and steamroll other concerns, which is sometimes a needed thing but also causes many problems.

Although the article covers many incidents and problems, the main reactions I've seen are to this one guy Shermer (who seems like a gross individual). I am apparently in an argument with a friend's spouse over on Facebook. UGH, people are fools.

After the Shermer article: what do you decide? A call out to the community.

The Shermer Allegations: some considerations for those to whom this is a nasty shock

I should say that I am not a member of these communities and have no idea who these people are; I am mostly interested in this because of the patterns of harassment and reactions are similar to what happened in my own community, and are happening everywhere it seems.
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
I am very pleased by the cool weather and I finally slept well last night!

:D
:D
:D
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Pursuant to my post about conferences, I've been thinking about how making events affordable is an access issue.

Making your event affordable attracts people of different classes and backgrounds and locations. It also makes your event more welcoming to disabled folks / PWD. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor for structural, societal reasons. Being disabled can affect a person's earning potential due to discrimination and impairment-related reasons; it also is just plain expensive. For me, for example: There are co-pays on prescriptions and doctor appointments; health services that are not covered by insurance; supplements to buy; expensive shoes that don't hurt my feet; the list goes on and on. For people on special diets, food can be more expensive. A 2008 study found gluten-free products to be much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Worry about money is a near-constant source of stress for many people, and some studies link this stress to negative health effects.

If we are planning events, what can we do to help make them more affordable?

Here are some ideas:

Registration and Programming
Sliding scale registrations; day memberships
Member Assistance Fund or Scholarships
ConSuite (hospitality suite)
Free Childcare
Kid, Teen, Youth programming tracks at fan conventions so people can bring their kids
Rebates or refunds for volunteering or presenting

Lodging
List area hostels
Have a room share board on social media

Transportation
Provide cab vouchers and/or mass transit fees so people can get back to their lodging late at night
Have a ride share board
Choose a venue that is on bus or mass transit lines

Food
List local restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. Note if the markets accept food stamps. note if the grocery stores deliver.
Note if they hotel has fridges or microwaves in the rooms or lobby.

Miscellaneous
Look for grants and sponsorships to help off set costs.
Ask for donated items for prizes and gifts.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Saving my tweets on this as I think it through.

The "Man of his time" argument assumes that everyone in that time period felt the same way. Erases nuance and difference.

It also erases experiences of dissents and marginalized people. Those people existed even if history has forgotten them. (For example: I learned from Rachel Maddow tonight that Vince Lombardi was pro-gay and had a gay brother. He was a famous football coach that lived from 1913-1970).

Me and my friends don't hold the prevailing views of mainstream society. I don't think of us as "products of our time."

This argument also assumes that society progresses forward thru time, that people in the past were worse. Which is not true. (History does not go forward in a upward line. It's more like a sine wave maybe.)

We are all influenced by our time and society, but we can all think critically and listen to our consciences re right and wrong.

Saying that someone was "a product of their time" is usually just apologism for their bad behaviors.

If something is wrong today, it was wrong 100 years ago. (Ethical behaviors, possibly, have some standards across societies and times, even if morals are relative. Have to think on this more.)

Just because people in power endorsed it, doesn't make it OK for everyone else in society to do so.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
In June I had the privilege of attending SDS2014, the Society for Disability Studies conference in Minneapolis. SDS did a lot of things right concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. It did not appear that the organizers had put as much thought into economic accessibility. For instance, the venue was an expensive downtown hotel. The nearby restaurants were mostly sit-down restaurants. The convenience shop in the hotel had some bottled beverages and foods at airport prices. Lunch time meetings at the conference felt inaccessible to me, because I didn't know where to grab a sandwich or take out food at a place that I could afford to eat, and get back in time for the session. So I skipped the lunch time sessions; I need to eat according to a set schedule, as I'm sure many folks do. (Note that SDS' discussion of anti-harassment policies occurred during a lunch time session.)

Many academic conferences are similarly expensive, and do not seem to care about being affordable. The registration prices alone can be close to a thousand dollars. This is before hotel, travel, food, and any incidentals for conference participants. Presenters many want to get new clothes or travel gear, for instance. Many people attending academic conferences have their institutions pay for these expenses, or get grants or scholarships to cover them.

Check out two price listings for conferences, just as examples:
An epidemiology conference in Spain
Grace Hopper Women in Computing

I attended SDS as a community member rather than as an academic-- ie, not affiliated with an institution. A friend paid for the reg fee and hotel, and we carpooled there and brought some of our own snacks. SDS does have a sliding scale for their reg fees. Disability studies, unlike many other academic disciplines, values the role of community members and lay people because your lived experience counts. Your embodiment and activism count. You don't necessarily need classes, degrees, and publications to contribute. (I do have some independent-of-the-academy publications.)

My main convention and social event of the year is WisCon, a fan convention, which prioritizes affordability. Many of our affordability issues intersect with other social justice issues, such as disability access and emotional access.

For instance, WisCon provides late-night cab vouchers to get people home from the convention. I imagine the original intent of this service was safety: prevent drunk driving and the like, since alcohol flows fairly free at convention parties. But it also provides an affordable means for people to get home without having to pay for a cab or rely on bus schedules or friends, and means that some people can stay other places than downtown hotels, such as on the outskirts of town at their own or friends' houses or cheaper hotels. It provides independence-- the means to leave the convention when you want (also a safety feature). The cab service we use is a co-op and a union, allowing us to support a local business with shared values. And cabs can be reserved online, which is another accessibility feature.

All of these things intersect. Feeling like your finances are stretched and you can barely afford to be somewhere is stressful and adds to cognitive and emotional load. It means you can't be as present and contribute as fully as you might like. Worrying about affording a meal when you want to go out with friends or colleagues can be embarrassing.

So why are academic conferences so expensive? Not having organized one, or even gone to many, I really have no idea. Looking around on the internet, people say that the fee covers venue, food, and keynote speakers, etc. Probably professional conference organizers plan these things, and take their cut. But conferences can leverage their power as clients to negotiate better deals with hotels and convention centers. They can use university or public venues which are sometimes cheaper. First and foremost, they can simply think about how to lower costs and reduce the economic burden on their participants, instead of assuming everyone who comes is able to blithely afford it.

I do know that charging so much money functions as a gate-keeping mechanism to keep people out. It creates a space where the conference itself is an in-club for people who can afford to be there: a country club effect. The privileged rub elbows and make connections with each other.

This affects the quality of academics. Science, my field of employ, has a myriad of problems with diversity. These things are connected.
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
Unexpectedly, I feel relieved, like there is a weight off my shoulders.

Read more... )
sasha_feather: ken watanbe with a horse and dog (ken wantanbe with pets)
Feeling like I'm on doggie death-watch. Sorcha was doing pretty well up until this weekend. in case you don't want to read this )

...and now she's eating some kibble, so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

previews

Aug. 24th, 2014 01:02 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Previews we saw yesterday before Guardians:

Interstellar:
This looks wonderful! An SF movie about a mission to find a habitable planet for humans to live on. Unfortunately it is directed by Christopher Nolan (man pain expert) and stars Matthew McC. The words "family" and "love" were used a lot in the preview. It will probably have a terrible, white dude story and great special effects.

Big Hero 6:
An animated film. Looks very cute. I look forward to reading meta about the inflatable robot and depictions of fat characters.

Dracula Untold:
Looks boring and gross. Again man pain central. Some medieval dude needs to protect his wife and kid so he becomes a vampire! snooze.

The Hobbit next chapter:
I'm not paying much attention to these tbh.

The Hunger games next chapter:
YAAAAAAY!

Into the Woods:
Has some cool actors and looks neat; the preview was minimal.

Night at the Museum sequel:
Looked cheesy to me and not funny? There was a joke about a monkey peeing on some miniaturized characters, which... I guess if you find that funny, you'll like this film. I never saw the first one. Has Robin Williams in it.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy tonight with my roommate. This was a fun movie with a lot of great effects, action sequences, and good music.
Read more... )
sasha_feather: Clint from the Avengers drawing his bow (Hawkeye)
Given how stressed and sick I've been, I guess it's no surprise really that my period is 10 days overdue. Normally it's very regular. (no I'm not pregnant).

It's been a stressful summer.

I'm back on Prednisone for a few days and already feeling somewhat better. Getting hit with the RA/asthma truck has been no picnic.

I'm following the Ferguson news on Twitter. It's difficult to read, and difficult to not read.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
I got most of my thinking on this topic from [personal profile] jesse_the_k; also some folks on twitter and at conventions.

A disability exercise is a training for abled folks, where a teacher or leader encourages people to take on the trappings of disability for a short time in order to learn about what it is like to be disabled. This might take the form of tooling around in a wheelchair, wearing a blindfold or ear muffs, or some other form of what is essentially "crip face": taking on part of the identity of a disabled person without experiencing the fullness of that identity.

I highly dislike such exercises and this post is about why. First off, I don't think that they are 100% bad or wrong, and I don't think it is always wrong to play with one's identity. I have written elsewhere about how I approve of abled people helping to make assistive technology cool, as does Ben Mattlin is his Op-Ed piece, When Wheelchairs are Cool. I think there is nuance and shades of experience everywhere.

But the main thrust of disability exercises-- to think that in a short space of time that one can teach a group of people about what it's like to be disabled-- is basically wrong.

* When you first becomes disabled, and/or first start using assistive tech, you are likely to be bad at it. There is a learning curve, just like learning to dance, swim, or ride a bike. It takes a while to become competent at adjusting to your body's differences and the tech you are using. But eventually you do become competent at life. Doing a disability exercise for an hour, day, or even a few days gives you only the experience of incompetence, and likely will lead you to believe that disabled people live very hard lives-- the lives of doggie-paddle swimmers instead of practiced butterfly-swimmers.

* Many disabled folks live in a community. We have the support of friends, family, and a disabled community of our choosing. I have a chosen internet community and political identity that I value very much. I doubt that such disability exercises present or explore these identities and networks. Separated from them, again my life would be much harder than it is.

* The social justice model of disability can be shown in other ways. If disability is created in the environment, this can easily be created in an exercise to make abled people disabled. Have them, in order to get onto a stage, be required to climb up a knotted rope, for instance. As one friend said on Twitter: in order to simulate my disability, wait endlessly in a doctor's office and then be scolded for taking pain meds. This is a way of expanding our ideas about disability and accessibility: requiring to fill out complex and endless paperwork for Medicare is way of disabling people. It's a more political thought than putting a blindfold on someone and having them stumble around a room.

* Some of the supposedly abled people in any group may be disabled and not know it, or may not identify as such. Learning about the social model of disability will likely help them. The social model helps me frequently identify barriers in the environment and think about ways to lower or deconstruct such barriers (not "overcome" them, a term that focuses on personal triumph rather than community or political will).

* I do think that exploring stigma is valuable. For instance, even using a cane, for me, will get me questions from strangers and acquaintances as my disability moves from invisible to visible. People will open doors for me and treat me differently. Walking with a friend in a wheelchair (when I'm not using a cane) means that people think I am a personal carer. Observations like these are valuable.

* However, simply listening and believing disabled folks when they speak and write about their experiences is sufficient. One does not have to do a "disability exercise" which is essentially disability tourism, and can be exotifying. The same is true for listening to stories and experiences that are different than your own in any way.
sasha_feather: neat looking overcoat (coat)
Quoting [profile] firecatstef:

This "spoon shortages explained" poster is good, but I'd prefer a poster that also mentions that any of these activities could randomly develop a spoon leak.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=657536917659006&set=a.471348919611141.1073741826.345920125487355&type=1&fref=nf [image is below if you don't want to click]
In fact, I am going to generally ponder thinking about disability-related energy shortfalls in terms of liquid rather than discrete entities like spoons. Some liquids evaporate/freeze/boil/expand/contract at different rates depending on conditions. Some liquids interact with their containers. It's easy to spill liquids of the containers aren't handled properly. And so on.


I also liked this image "Understanding Invisible Illness", which shows an iceberg, things above the surface and those below. Taken from FB's "Chronic Illness Cat" page.

image )
sasha_feather: neat looking overcoat (coat)
This has been one of the more stressful few weeks of my life.

I am pretty sick. All-over achy and tired. I took two days off of work (yesterday and today) but not sure how much it helped. I'm afraid that I am under-performing at work at that shit is gonna hit the fan. Well, it won't be the first time that has happened I suppose. Being chronically ill and trying to work and survive on your own is something that there is not a lot of room or support for in society. Right now I am really longing for a different way to live.

This week on the WisCon ConCom list I got really angry, fought with people I respect, and well, made myself sick I guess.

Possibly I am not eating enough protein.

Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me in various ways. Thanks also to everyone who writes about things like:
Tone argument
Gas lighting
Microaggressions
Man-splaining
Concern Trolling
Derailment
White woman's tears
Boundaries
Victim blaming
etc
...
because I've been listening and learning.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
I went to an event today at a park called Disability Pride. I'm friends with one of the organizers but have a weird avoidance relationship right now with another of them. They have a performance stage with loud music, food and booths, and people mill around and chit chat.

I am very tired and was not quite firing on all cylinders. I sat and talked with [personal profile] jesse_the_k and a few others. One woman I met, Kathleen, used to go to WisCon and it turns out she started childcare there. We asked her when this was, and she wasn't sure, maybe the late 80s. She doesn't have kids, but her friends in the dealers' room did, and they were having an issue trying to make money there and find child care. The concom was comprised of people who did not have kids and it apparently hadn't occurred to them to provide child care. Now, 25-ish years later, child-care is an inherent part of the con. (I tried to take a break from WisCon today, but this was a nice thing to talk about, actually).

I got a free massage and tried some yoga (painful). Later I walked the dog briefly and took a nap. I'm having a lot of pain and fatigue.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
After reading [personal profile] thingswithwings' latest fic, Odd One Out, and relating a lot to Eliot in that story, I am idly wondering if I am perhaps aromantic.

It seems like a simple relationship style that would work for me.

There is a lot of upheaval going on in the world and in my community right now. Things are rapidly coming into hard focus. Sustained anger seems to be really working for me right now actually. *Imagines Eliot growling*

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