I got an email from President Obama in response to a petition I signed a number of weeks ago about accepting Syrian refugees, and it's a really great statement, so I'm posting it here:

Exposition and assurance of vetting process )

This is a crisis we cannot ignore and it will worsen over time. If we do nothing, we risk letting an entire disaffected generation grow up in refugee camps or grow up displaced and threatened by terrorists. That is why part of keeping this country safe requires forcefully affirming to the rest of the world that we will not close our hearts or our borders to those in need. Helping those who have been pushed to the margins of our world makes us safer, and turning our backs on them would be a betrayal of our values.

We, as Americans, have always been a people who ask what we can do to help. We will continue to protect ourselves while welcoming those desperately seeking the protection we can provide. That is why the United States of America has stepped up as the largest donor of humanitarian assistance and has committed to the resettlement of at least 100,000 refugees this year—including 10,000 Syrians.

As long as I’'m President, I will do everything in my power to keep the American people safe and to ensure our country remains what it has always been—a beacon of hope to all who seek it.


Barack Obama

Visit WhiteHouse.gov
I'm proud the US has a president who is encouraging compassion and taking in Syrian refugees. The governor of my little blue state is not doing Maryland proud.

Here's a petition from moveon.org for stating your support for Syrian Resettlement:


My favorite comment on the subject is by Oliver Willis, as reblogged by [personal profile] supergee:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about Middle Eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”


Also posted at http://lavendertook.dreamwidth.org/187550.html with comment count unavailablecomments
I'm proud the US has a president who is encouraging compassion and taking in Syrian refugees. The governor of my little blue state is not doing Maryland proud.

Here's a petition from moveon.org for stating your support for Syrian Resettlement:


My favorite comment on the subject is by Oliver Willis, as reblogged by [personal profile] supergee:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about Middle Eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

Two good things happened this week with SCOTUS supporting ACA and same-sex marriage rights.

Let's make a third good thing with charges being dropped against the brave woman who took down the confederate flag, for a start on this one. Go here to sign petition. Yay to civil disobedience when the laws are wrong.
lavendertook: (Default)
( Jan. 18th, 2015 01:14 pm)
I'm so glad that in his state of the union speech on Tuesday President Obama is going to be calling for raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing leave time to better the conditions of US workers, so we can tend to more than just our jobs. I'm still grateful for his part in getting rid of pre-existing condition exclusions for health care and setting up my nation's baby steps toward universal healthcare. Of course it's messy as hell--having no health insurance when you're sick is so much more messy and fatal. This was a momentous accomplishment that has made so many lives better in the US.

Sure, I disagree with many of his choices and policies--his failure to revoke bank execs giving themselves bonuses during the banking crisis, embracing of the Patriot Act that infringes too far on civil liberties in the name of security and his use of drones, and toleration of Guantanamo.

I don't know enough to say he shouldn't have bailed the banks, because the rebounding of the economy may owe some of its source to this. He could do more to address climate change and supporting alternative energies, but he's done some good in that direction. He's done some good for indigenous peoples and immigrants. He has slowed the damage done our nation by years of Reagan and Bushes, and now he's working to reverse the Bush tax cuts. That would give us a better chance of keeping bridges, overpasses, and buildings from collapsing and killing more people than terrorism will ever accomplish, pull more women raising children out of poverty, and give more kids who might create something that makes a difference a chance at an education.

And he's done all this while even the liberal press has declared his unpopularity. They cry he is so unpopular when he has only 40% approval. But in a nation when far less of that public even bothers to vote, that is actually a sign of vast approval.

He's been the best president in my life time. I hated the whole hope and change garbage of his first campaign, but he accomplished much more than I expected, and for that I'm grateful. If we can do as well with our next president and not go backwards, better times could be ahead.
. . . try your luck . . . try your luck . . .

So I've been doing lots of research on my post-lumpectomy diagnosis of lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), which is a heavier dose of the atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH) I was diagnosed with in August. It is not invasive cancer, though its presence increases my risk of that developing. I may never develop invasive cancer. If I do one day, it is almost as likely to pop up in either breast. It could take the form of lobular cancer like my mom has, or the more common ductal cancer. There just hasn't been enough research on this uncommon condition for them to know. And I doubt there will be much more in my lifetime--that's not where the diminishing research money is going to go. There's no telling--it seems to be much more of a wild card than having the BRCA gene, which I thankfully do not have. Hopefully, after I reach saturation on the info, which I think I"m approaching, I'll start getting back more to what passes for normal life and not be all-cancer-all-the-time, but right now it's still all consuming and overwhelming.

I've gotten over being mad at my surgeon for seeming cut-happy to me in not presenting prophylactic bilateral mastectomy as a more aggressive course than is normally recommended, and presenting my odds, my cancer risk, on the high side, when the data is really unreliable. Enter the Cancer Casino. Six month diagnostic monitoring and a regimen of hormone therapy (tamoxifen, Evista, or Arimidex pills) is the usual course for LCIS at present and lowers your risk by more than half. Some women and trans men with my diagnosis do choose the prophylactic bilateral mastectomy option as best for them, which reduces your risk to less than an average woman without risk factors, and if it stopped being recommended for this condition, then they couldn't get it covered by insurance, so it's important that it remains an option as viable for this condition.

But it's not the choice for me right now. Though my odds might be 50/50 in developing cancer, the odds of developing chronic pain from a mastectomy is over 12%, and much, much higher if you choose reconstruction, along with big risks of surgical complications down the road, like 30-65%, and if that happened to me, the pain would be compounded with regret that I had a chance to have not gone through that and maybe never have developed cancer either, and I brought this pain on myself, because that really is how I roll--I know it.

My thoughts on reconstruction surgery come from my liminal spot on the trans and cis spectrum, and my thoughts on cutting one's body to suit cultural concepts of what your gendered body should look like and interrogating your internalized perceptions, including the Hollywood industry's impact on people everywhere on the continuum, so it's complicated. Mastectomy includes the loss of an erogenous zone for me--that is not a negligible thing to this old sex radical--no reconstruction work can return that to you once the nerve connection is severed, not in my life time or the next generation's, I suspect. I value that as an intrinsic part of my bodily existence. Again, this bodily experience isn't universal among women, but my experience is not unique, and it should matter to more women than I see in articles and forums--it should matter to more people discussing mastectomies who supposedly take the sexual experience of women seriously and like to castigate cultures that are not their own for practicing clitoradectomies.
Read more... )
lavendertook: Tuxie in his hobbit hole (Tuxie Tinuviel Proudfoot)
( Mar. 1st, 2013 11:43 pm)
Tuxie, on a Froday, needing a stiff drink:

Tuxie, Crossed Paw, 12-12
Please go on. I'd love to hear more about how awful it would be to raise taxes on the top 2%, Mr. Brooks . . .

I'm still cackling over David Brooks' statement during The News Hour:

First, we have -- they have given a lot on revenue already. We can't continue to raise taxes again and again on the top two percent, because once you push people above where more than 50 or 60 percent of their income is going to tax, they start behaving in counterproductive ways.

D'awwwwwwww poor widdle rich peeples gonna start stamping their widdle feet? And like, *start*, *start behaving in counterproductive ways* like hoarding the wealth of the world while cutting jobs and making everyone else who isn't in their demographic do the work of 3 people for meager pay while they jet around to their multiple homes? Gosh, it would be awful if that happened . . . .

And I'm still elated that the President admitted he is a Jedi today. :-D

I'm going to try to post pics at least every other day on this, my birth month, if not every day. We'll see how it goes.
. . . because how often is there a chance for those? Obama back in and the medical care act unassailable! Twenty women in the Senate! 10 more and the guys will start thinking women are in the majority there. (-; Out lesbian, in the Senate, even--yay Tammy Baldwin! Yay out bi Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema making up for AZ's redness! And yay out trans woman Stacie Laughton in NH's state legislature!

Just a list of links:

The awesome firsts from this election listed at the WaPo.

The celebration of all that and more, aptly titled from Ta-Nehisi Coates, thanks to [personal profile] supergee.

Celebratory because it's a truth that needs to be faced, and I'm glad it can no longer be avoided: the race breakdown and the problem with white identity.

Just the facts, ma'am from Rachel Maddow, thanks to [personal profile] lanning.

lavendertook: (monarch)
( Nov. 6th, 2012 11:26 pm)
President Obama won! I am so relieved. Also, my little blue state is awesome.
Leave it to the US media (liberal media, where?) to consider a rude, lying bully, running rough-shod over the officiating moderator and refusing to wait his fair turn a winning debater. The look Romney gave the President at the end of the debate gave me chills--I could see just the hateful expression he must have used when he assaulted that teen in high school.

When will the US press get over its love affair with abusers?

Just had to get that out of my system. I return you to the usual bully-promoting programming.
It's not just Readercon and it's not only sexual harassment and the sexism that creates the environment for it. It's not just men in sf&f/nerd/geek spaces and the casual acceptance of sexual harassment that has made those spaces uncomfortable for me, and makes staying at home with the cats and talking with my friends online the better social option. Earlier this summer, I went to a local meet up for geek women, and "geek" here does seem to mean "fandom". It was a nice enough group, the organizer was fun, and I wanted to go again.

Then a couple of weeks ago, the organizer, who appears to be white (as did all the group at the meetup I attended, though there are a few women of color on the meetup list who weren't in attendance) made a racist and ableist comment meant to be a joke on the group mailing list/message board. And I've been debating whether to say something, which my hunch says will not be well received, or if I should just save the energy and walk away from the group, which would be the easier thing to do. I already skipped the last meet up.

I decided to give sociability and communicating about my discomfort with the racist/ableist comment a go, though I did focus more on the racist part of it. Below is the email I sent the organizer yesterday afternoon. I took a note from Jay Smooth and decided to leave out the "r'" word. If you think there's a gentler way I could have gotten my point across, and want to share to help me in future situations, please let me know. I've been in this position many times in the past in plenty of places and will be in it again many times in the future. And I don't always have the choice to stay home with the cats when it's not an optional social space like fandom, but instead a place of employment, for instance. So here's what I sent her, sans greeting, quote of the comment, and closure:
My email, kvetching about white sf/f fan spaces, and the reply that then came below . . . )
The Readercon con com apology and action plan are excellent and well done, and what was needed to set things on the right track. However, I'm still in wait and see mode. The reason there has been such a well spring of support for the targets in this case of sexual harassment is not only due to [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine, [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes, and Kate Kligman being an outspoken and unwavering team, but also because the stage on which the conversation has been centrally playing out is Live Journal and DreamWidth, where a women-centered fandom is strongest.

I have large doubts that the conversation would have been as supportive of the targets of sexual harassment if it had been centered in spaces like the SWFA community, where much of the discussion over Harlan Ellison's sexual harassment and assault of Connie Willis was centered only a few years ago, and in spaces that are not so heavily weighted toward women, like most sf/f cons themselves. If the conversation was centered outside the LJ and DW arena, I think we'd see a hell of a lot more comments like this here, which represents a lot of voices (and not just men's) that are not committing themselves to stating their views publicly in cyberspace where so many voices are opposing them.

I'm not saying this discussion happening on LJ and DW is not a force for change to the better; it is, but I'm doubtful how much it's reflecting the reality on the ground right now, the mainstream of the sf/f con going population. And I'm not real eager to step onto those grounds looking for my happy space. For now, I'll stay in my happy spaces on LJ and DW and listen to how things shake out as policy is implemented.
No toleration of sexual harassment and the mandating of a permanent ban on harassers is NOT about punishment of the harasser. It's about protecting and supporting the harassed.

No one knows in advance if they will ever feel completely safe again in the presence of their sexual harasser or relive the humiliating feeling of being treated as prey any time they are in the harasser's presence, or worse levels of trauma. Many of us, like Kate Kligman who actively worked on several con commitees, have a tendency to drift away from places and situations where we have been treated badly, and effectively ban ourselves.

This Readercon policy should be in place to keep sufferers of sexual harassment from being lost to that community. Again, it's NOT about punishing the harasser; it IS about rallying around the harassed.

Might those who have been sexually harassed be afraid to come forward if the result is a permanent ban of the harasser? Yes--IF people keep acting like a permanent ban from one con is a damned jail sentence!

The ban does not even involve being required to perform community service or make any kind of amends whatsoever. It's not the loss of rights--it's the earned loss of a privilege, one that the harasser obviously took for granted. It does not prevent him from attending any number of other cons.

What the ban provides for the harassed is some measure of peace of mind for future con attendance, affirmation that her safety is important, and assurance that she is a valued member of the community, so that after what may have been an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing, frightening, or painful experience for her, she will actually want to come back again and participate in the community.

When people wring their hands over what a terrible punishment being permanently banned from a con for sexual harassment is, what does get minimized in the consciousness of the harassed is her place in the community. Whether she is a valued member there or is at all welcome comes into question for her. Is your safety and well-being considered less important than the harasser's continued presence? Can you ever feel at home in a place where you have been marked as territory and called upon to fight for your autonomy just to be in a space that others can walk in freely without having to fight?

Nitpicking at the policy because you think all decrees should involve wiggle room, when there is already wiggle room in the Readercon board's determining whether or not the action is a case of outright harassment in the first place, further demeans the needs of the harassed. This minimizing effect makes the decision harder for those who experience harassment to come forward in the future. The minimization's effects can extend to everyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment. I know I feel it.

I know the sexual harasser may be a friend. Think less about him and focus on the harassed as the person whose continued presence in that community is now very much AT RISK, and must be ensured by the community taking action for her safety and peace of mind.

I greatly admire [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine and [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes for the magnificent fight they are waging in resistance to minimization of their worth and to make con culture better. They are demonstrating just how women backing each other up is truly done. I wish them their energy back for better things for themselves.

Roundup of links on the Readercon fail has been kindly provided by bcholmes here.

Addendum: [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes has written a petition to ask the board to resign, apologize to [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine, ban Rene Walling, and put people with a clue in place to make decisions. You can read it here and you can add you name to the petition here. Feel free to sign in anonymously so you can submit your given, rather than LJ/DW name.
I'm listening to NPR this morning, and they report about the demonstrations in Bahrain, and then they conclude "protests continue in numerous Middle Eastern and north African countries." Would it be too much to name them? If people are risking being shot to death in these places, can't you at least name the places? Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Algeria, Morocco--how bout that? And just forget the Washington Post to fill you in on just some of it unless you dig through several links deep.
One of the many reasons I will not be having a Supreme Court confirmation hearing:

Sen. Graham: Where were you on Christmas day?

Ms. Took: Drinking the blood of Christian babies. What do you think Jews do on Christmas, you stupid fucker? Which you would know if you were more aware of all internet tradishuns, instead of, you know, expecting everyone to be practicing yours.

Whut? Why aren't you laughing? Aren't I white enough to make you feel safe? Or would you like to make a shout out to all your white protestant male friends who are being asked to share, and sometimes giving up their seats overrun by the rest of us Others? You know, if you want to share in the quaint Jewish American tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas, better do it quick before Pan-Asian people working those kitchens are represented on the SC, too, and, you know, you just might have to learn to cook it yourself.

Hey come back here! *bounce, bounce* I'll bite your leg off!!!!

Hat tip to [personal profile] acrimonyastraea for the link to this good post from another Not Ready for Borscht Belt Player.
KTempest aptly summed up and anonymized linked to a post by Kathryn Cramer, who wrote:

The matter at hand with Wiscon and several other conventions is programming that encourages the continuation and escalation of abuse and hostility towards members of the sf community.

"Hostility"?  Why yes, I am sensing some hostility, but it's not coming from the programming--it's coming from reading your inflammatory blog posts and comments--good job!

"Abuse"?  Really?  So what did you do when members of the sf community attending WISCON were accosted with racial slurs on the streets of Madison? Did you do anything at all to address the safety needs of these members of the sf community who were dealing with actual race-based abuse?

*crickets chirping* 

Or is this the portion of the sf community that you're doing your damnedest to make feel unwelcome?-- an unwelcome which can lead to real, actual safety concerns when you're a person of color in very white Madison, Wisconsin.  Or just unable to take part in the community at all, because of choosing not to put up with this crap?

"Oh no, we welcome SF Fans of Color well, the black ones, honest we do!, just ones who recognize our specialness and primacy, not like those nasty ones online who we know are all just White People with Grudges and KTempest, and who have their own ideas about discourse and who gets to set it--THE NERVE!!!, and who are about to ASSAULT US any minute now--like, here they come--like, look at those frightening, pumped up bruisers!!!  They're, they're coming to OUR sf conventions--you know them, THEM!!!!  THEY are not like US!!!!"

Well, OK, then.  But if you want to keep treating your fantasies of being beat up and harassed, be it by those mean people of color OR there is no c, d, or e cultist white anti-racists WHO COULD BE ANYBODY what have you done to my beautiful white default!! YOU JUST CAN'T TELL BY LOOKING AT THEM!!! [we only accept visa or mastercard] as though they were a reality, fine.

Just remember, keep your damned fantasies to yourself--they're poorly plotted, a lot more prosaic than you think they are, and not what a lot of us have in mind when we plan to attend WISCON. I hope this is a "sensitive" and "reasonable" enough request for you.
Why "I'm sorry" and NOT "What I meant" is a good starting point:

It really isn't that hard to respond with a suitable apology to objections about your saying something insensitive or that could obviously be taken as insensitive, even if you didn't mean it that way in the context in which you said it, if you respect your audience. Trying to explain away or deny the original comment's possible implications, and not the original comment itself, always creates the fail scenario. If you don't make a clear and unequivocal apology demonstrating your respect for the objector, your friends or fans will burn and pillage to try to defend you and justify their own views.

Right here, Debbie Reese looks at a remark Neil Gaiman made and explains why she finds it troubling, and asks whether anyone ever publicly discussed that quote again with NG before she came across it.

Quite contrary to jumping to conclusions and accusations, she is offering NG an opportunity to clarify his statement in the context of why she finds it troubling, and to give an opportunity to anyone in his reading community who read the comment before to also discuss it and reflect on why they did not remark upon it before. She explains the cost of using the phrase "a few dead Indians" which reinforces the idea that there weren't thriving Native American civilizations for centuries before European encroachment, and aids the erasure of the continued existence of First Nations' cultures and peoples. Many education systems in the US and worldwide still fail to discuss this, and even contradict this fact. It doesn't matter that you may be better informed yourself--a great many more people are not.

For her reasonable query and explanation, within a few hours, Debbie Reese is accused of lacking reading skills by 8 commenters rushing to Neil Gaiman's defense. She is accused of looking for ridiculous reasons to be offended by 6, of bringing up an issue of little importance by 6, of being too emotional/over-sensitive by 3, and of being a self-involved jerk by 2. And I'm not even including the vitriol that was thrown at both Debbie Reese and [livejournal.com profile] kynn at Kynn's journal. None of this behavior is surprising or new, and keeps happening over and over again. The bingo card is full.

Some suggestions on handling one's own fail . . . )

[livejournal.com profile] ithiliana posted a link round-up and good info on why the subject of graveyards and dead Indians might be a sensitive topic for many Native Americans.


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