when the status quo frustrates.

Update Again

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

I was set up to go blog and…my laptop died. Dropping a quick-line from a friend’s computer to let you guys know that I’m not forgetting about you. As soon as we can discover more money, I’ll back to blogging.

Once more, I’m only shocked that everyone else is pretending to be. They ARE just pretending, right..?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Many years ago, not too long after my military enlistment ended and back when I got most of the news from actual newspapers made of paper, I was confronted with the following headline:

SEX SCANDAL AT ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS!!!

I was remembering reading the story–in case everyone’s forgotten about it, the gist was that

at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army base in Aberdeen, Maryland…the Army brought charges against 12 commissioned and non-commissioned male officers for sexual assault on female trainees under their command.

Specifically, a bunch of drill sergeants had been having sex with a bunch of female trainees, with varying degrees of consent on the parts of the trainees. Now, this did not surprise me at all, but what did was the way it was being reported–as if it was a huge shocker, unbelievable!! etc. etc.

Mostly I remember just sitting there, staring at the story, and trying to swallow the fact that anybody, anybody at all was shocked by this. Maybe, I remember trying to think charitably at the time, the reporters on this case had absolutely zero familiarity with the military..? Because boy howdy, anybody who’d ever actually served in the Army knew quite well that Army basic training was a big ol’ sex fest of male drill sergeants and female trainees, right? In my basic training unit, one of our drill sergeants was having sex with at least four of the girls that I knew of, and another was having what could most gently be described as an emotional affair with a fifth, and another drill sergeant, not in my platoon but in my company, actually got married to a sixth girl after she graduated from training.

And yeah, the degrees of consent were variable. The time that the first drill sergeant collapsed our tent on me and a squadmate when we were out in the field and then, after I crawled out, crawled in with her and stayed there for about twenty minutes–that was absolutely consensual, to the best of my knowledge. The time I got sent back to the barracks to retrieve something or other and a girl in one of the other squads in my platoon was sitting on her bunk staring blankly at nothing..? Less so–

Me: Brady*, what are you doing here? Are you sick?
Private Brady, about five feet tall and ninety pounds soaking wet with big blue eyes and freckles, all of eighteen years old: No…I was waxing the floor, and Drill Sergeant Morris* came in, and told me that after I finished the floor I had fifteen minutes to get all the toilets in the bathroom clean enough to eat off of.
Me: Seriously?
Private Brady: I told him I didn’t think I could do it and he said I’d better do it, or I’d better learn how to fuck.
Me, only eighteen myself and totally bewildered: Oh. Wow. What did you do?
Private Brady: We fucked.
Me: Oh. …are you okay?
Private Brady: I guess so. (went back to staring blankly at nothing)

And, of course, there was graduation night, when we all got a four-hour pass to hit the base and wound up at the enlisted club, and another cycle (all male, as ours was all female–Army basic training used to be sex-segregated, the trainees anyway) that was graduating invited us to a party that two of their drill sergeants were having for them in a hotel room–I didn’t go, but some other girls did. When midnight rolled around (the expiration of our four-hour pass), two of them were missing. They did finally show up at the barracks a few hours later, though–one shoved past everyone and ran into the showers, where you could hear her screaming as she tore off her clothes and started viciously scrubbing herself, and the other one flung herself into my arms and started shaking hard enough to bruise my chin with the top of her head, though without making a single sound. The first girl managed to wash away most, though not all, of the evidence of her gang rape before the MPs showed up, but I kept a firm grip on the second girl after some advice from the cold-eyed female drill sergeant from another platoon that was first on the scene, and I heard later they got plenty of evidence off of her body.

My basic training experience was quite representative, really–so you can see why I was sitting there shocked that anybody else was shocked. I mean, everybody knew…we all knew everybody knew.

I had a similar experience last night, reading the following headline:

Uninsured trauma patients are much more likely to die

The risk of dying from traumatic injuries is 80% higher for those without any insurance, a study says. ER physicians say they’re surprised by the findings.

O RLY?

Patients who lack health insurance are more likely to die from car accidents and other traumatic injuries than people who belong to a health plan — even though emergency rooms are required to care for all comers regardless of ability to pay, according to a study published today.

The researchers also did a separate analysis of 209,702 trauma patients ages 18 to 30 because they were less likely to have chronic health conditions that might complicate recovery. Among these younger patients, the risk of death was 89% higher for the uninsured, the study found.

Rosen, now a surgical resident at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, said the group expected to find at least some disparity based on insurance status. But she said the group was surprised at the magnitude of the gap.

Dr. Frank Zwemer Jr., chief of emergency medicine for the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., said he was “kind of shocked.”

“Kind of” shocked? Gee, because I’m not shocked at all.

“We don’t ask people, ‘What’s your insurance?’ before we decide whether to intubate them or put in a chest tube,” said Zwemer, who wasn’t involved in the research. “That’s not on our radar anywhere.”

Good God. Did you just spear somebody on your nose, Pinocchio? The very first thing they do when you go to an ER is admit you, and before they ever ask you what’s wrong with you (but, I admit, usually after they ask you for your name) is if you have insurance. If you are unable to speak, they ask whoever has brought you in. LONG before they offer you any medical treatment. I speak from personal experience.

Well, I guess I should be glad that they’re willing to pretend this is some kind of news flash, right? Nothing like emphasizing your dirty laundry as publicly as possible to raise the chances of someone with actual power and authority being willing to do something about it, even if everybody did really already know all about it. Let’s hear it for the pressure of public shame.

But I’m not willing to go along with the pretense. Of course they all knew about it already, just like we all knew already about what went on in Army training barracks. Of course they did.

Disgusting.

*Names changed. Duh.

Gainfully Employeed

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Sorry for the Internet MIA everyone, but I have joined the great washed ranks of the gainfully employed. I am now a white-collar worker drone; part of the maddening crown, a contributor to the rush-hour traffic. I now do monkey work for $12/hr in a very nice building for 40 hours a week. I’m living the post-graduate dream right now. But, as it’s my first 40-hour a week job, and another 10 hours on top of that for commute I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle my schedule to fit in doing everything I enjoy doing and still have time for 8 hours of sleep (now that I actually need it), home chores, and re-engaging my brain after the boring work I do. I beg your indulgence in this transition period.

This job has taught me some interesting things. Namely, it’s kinda nice to be financially solvent (I make in a week what I might have made in a month at my other job). Also, I am apparently not supposed to say to people I do “low level monkey work” within earshot of the boss. It’s “Data base compilation and verification”. But, even though I really am living a dream that a lot of people would kill for, I still have a few complaints. 1) Even though this is a full-time, open-ended job, it’s still “temp work”. I got it through an employment agency. This means no benefits, no workers compensation should I get hurt (unlikely), no unemployment benefits if I get laid off, and no company “bennies”. It’s temporary only in a legal fiction, but that legal fiction still stands. 2) I don’t really need to work 40 hours a week. 30 hours would have been just peachy. I also don’t have that option. Along the same vein, I have no idea why I have to commute to do a job I could easily do at home and they could have a cubical open. And, I really feel terrible about complaining about this job at all, because I HAVE a job, and it’s a nice job. That makes me wonder if that’s one of the barriers to labor reform in the first place- the double-edged sword of “at least you have a job” and the threat of being called lazy if you value your private time.

Finally, an article to sink your teeth into, written by someone who had more intelligent things than I to say.

So Why Did I Have Kids, Anyway?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Photobucket
So you really want one of these?

It’s a question I try not to examine too closely, frankly. The reason for that is, well, I have them already–I’ve had them for my entire adult life, really. The time to question my decision to have them at all has long since passed, I think.

But sometimes I’ll come across an article like this one–I try not to wince at the tone they inevitably sport, a combination of defensiveness and superiority–and I’ll find myself musing a bit on my own embedded and irrevocable parental status.

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Nidal Malik Hasan: civilian casualties “highly suspect”

Friday, November 6th, 2009

“Every conceivable effort made” to avoid civilian casualties.

FORT HOOD, Texas — An Army psychiatrist who led a ground assault against U.S. forces stationed at Fort Hood said that yesterday’s ground assault was a “surgical operation,” and that reports of civilian casualties are “likely overblown.”

“We will be performing a full and thorough investigation,” he continued, “Provided we are able to secure the support of authorities on the ground.” U.S. authorities have thus far not allowed Hasan access to the area in which the attack was conducted.

“Of course, caring for injured soldiers remains our top priority,” Hasan said, his breathing assisted by a ventilator, “But I’m actually feeling pretty good right now.”

The U.S. has alleged that anywhere from two to five civilians were caught up in Hasan’s attack. The allegations have not yet been substantiated. Military police refused to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, Afghan and Iraqi leaders have offered tepid, sarcastic condolences to the families of those killed. “Yeah, wow, that sucks.” Iraqi president Jalal Talabani wrote in a press statement, “I can’t even imagine. Twelve lives lost. And for what?”

“Well, never mind that,” the statement continued, “CNN is so depressing. What else is on TV? There must be something good. Isn’t it sweeps week?”

Well, that’s it then. All Hail the GOP, the true party of righteousness!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The last three times I’ve opened a browser window, the top news headlines have been variations on the above theme. Yep, folks, the brief insanity of the American people in both electing Barack Obama to the White House and purging Congress of its Republican majority has ended! The tide is turning! And here’s the proof!

By seizing gubernatorial seats in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans on Tuesday dispelled any notion of President Obama’s electoral invincibility, giving the GOP a lift and offering warning signs to Democrats ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

Wow. A Republican governor in Virginia! When we have a Democrat as president! Because one thing Virginian voters sure are known for is–!

List of Virginia governors, 1982-present

Charles S. Robb (Democrat) 1982-1986 President at time of election: Ronald Reagan (Republican)
Gerald L. Baliles (Democrat) 1986 -1990 President at time of election: Ronald Reagan (Republican)
L. Douglas Wilder (Democrat) 1990-1994 President at time of election: George H.W. Bush (Republican)
George F. Allen (Republican) 1994-1998 President at time of election: Bill Clinton (Democrat)
James (Jim) Gilmore III (Republican) 1998-2002 President at time of election: Bill Clinton (Democrat)
Mark Warner (Democrat) 2002-2006 President at time of election: George W. Bush (Republican)
Tim Kaine (Democrat) 2006-2010 President at time of election: George W. Bush (Republican)

–consistently electing a governor of the opposite party of the sitting president. And nope, it’s not a coincidence; for one, in Virginia, the incumbent governor is barred by law from seeking reelection, and two, Virginia has a large number of voters registered as “Independent” (about a third of all voters), the majority of whom consider themselves “Moderate.” Which means, that whatever direction they percieve themselves as being pushed…say, by the ideology of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States…they will dig their heels in and lean the other way. As you see above.

Now, I already knew all this from simply living smack up against Virginia for about sixteen years now (which is why I engaged in some heavy eye-rolling after the third or fourth repetition in the news of the title meme of this post); however, I can’t claim the same level of familiarity with New Jersey governors and voters–maybe it has some sort of grandiose meaning. But as far as Virginia goes…well, no. Sorry, folks.

Concerned Troll Style

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The background is thus: Just about a year ago, Lisa wrote a post, a guide to getting rid of feminism (by ending social injustice). She observed that men, as a group, are in a particularly strong position to end sexual predation, since it’s such a gendered form of oppression. Her post was linked from an MRA site, so it caught the attention of a number of trolls. Most, I presume, slunk off when the safe space comment policy led to them being silenced! Muzzled! And… Censored! But one of them really went the extra mile.

I recently discovered a hitherto unread email from one of these trolls. It was like Christmas! I’m not as into writing posts like this—you mean there’s sexism? On the Internet?!—but today, just for you, I have extracted the sweet nectar from his e-mail and shall now present my findings: a detailed description of the Concerned Troll Style art.

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Just One More Piece of Ance-data

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Last Sunday, I was at work, grinding my teeth at yet another irritating customer (no, this table isn’t heavy at all, I would love to hear you complain about how the high the prices here are at the thrift store. Oh, setting this down is rude, because I’m not giving you my full attention. Ah, so you can get this same item new for cheaper at Target. That’s lovely. If that’s the case, why don’t you buy it there?) when suddenly my tooth started to hurt. By the end of the night, it was really starting to hurt, particularly when I tried to chew anything. By the next morning, I was in wake-up agony.

Not being a fan of pain, I called in sick to work* to go the dentist. A few hours later, and an x-ray picture, then a few more hours later with a specialist and the verdict is in- I need a root canal. Well, I need to get a root canal redone. Apparently, they didn’t do it right the first time.

So, we schedule it for Wednesday, in the mean time, give me some nice antibiotics and some Vicodin.** I show up on Wednesday, and of course, the first thing that needs to be done is the payment.

I have dental insurance through Hubby. Hubby gives up about a third of his paycheck to make sure we have insurance. So, I only have to pay 20% of the cost.

20% of the cost is 300 dollars. So, basically, at the beginning of the month, we’re short 150 dollars for rent. All for the joy of having a root canal.

My tooth is doing much better. I have to go in again to get it refilled, and then I have to pay even more money to get a crown. Hubby and I will find a way to make up the extra 150- I think we’ll probably just ask the rental company to give us a day extension, they’re normally pretty good about that, or we’ll get a pay-day loan from the ‘rents. But, if we weren’t coming from parents that had that sort of extra loanable cash, we’d be at the sharks at the pay-day loan places mercy. As it stands, it’s another chicken and rice month at the Antigone house.

We are responsible. We have health insurance (thank you, Hillary, 20-somethings do in fact get it when we can afford it). I brush my teeth every day. And we have plenty of wiggle room. And this almost kills us.

We need health care reform in this country. Badly.

*They required a doctor’s note. Can you believe it? The night before I tell them that my tooth hurts, I call in, way before my shift to say I’m going to the doctors, and they demand a note for my crappy retail job.
** Fun fact- vicodin does not actually work real well for me. It actually makes me puke AND one of the pills wasn’t enough to kill the pain. It takes two and an Aleve.