Self

This post has been sitting in my drafts for ten months. Not much has changed.

I’ve been told that when you go through trauma, you should not make any life decisions. You should hold off on getting married, or quitting your job, or starting something that’s completely new.  Don’t make any important life decisions when you’ve experienced a traumatic event. Give yourself time to heal, we are told.

And the only experience I ever had with actual trauma was when we went through the Reno Air Races crash in 2011 and we availed ourselves of grief counseling where we were told we should be careful. We should be careful… not to drink too much, for instance, and to not make any important life decisions at that time.

It made sense. When someone is traumatized, they feel helpless and will grasp at anything that will help them feel some sense of control again.

So, it’s been a little over a month since the election and I kept thinking that, at some point, the trauma would ease. That the panic and grief I felt that night would would abate. And although I don’t cry every single day any more, it still happens on a regular enough basis that I know I am not past this.  And I don’t think that I ever will be.

So where does that leave me? What do I do in my life?

I have a very good job. I am paid well. I am surrounded by good people and my supervisors respect and trust me. But I am so very, very restless right now and feel like I don’t offer enough to the world in that position, and that I should be doing something so much more meaningful than making travel arrangements, filing expense reports, scheduling meetings and the like.

I can’t find any satisfaction in it right now. And I used to. I used to find satisfaction in the job that I did well and allowed me enough money to pay my bills, be helpful to my family, pay for my toys, and support causes I believed in. Because all was pretty nice, pretty good in my world, but now I just find myself stuck.

And I don’t know when that’s going to change.

Critical Thinking, Feminism, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Science

What does Carl Sagan have to do with Hillary Clinton?

Re-upping this 2010 post from my now shuttered blog, Blue Lyon. The only edit I would make is to add this to the third paragraph: “See also the treatment of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and its aftermath.” 

A Sunday Morning Reading: Carl Sagan, Science and Witchcraft

In The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (Ballantine Books, 1996), Carl Sagan stressed over and over again the need for science literacy, critical thinking and skepticism. We need not understand the finer points of each scientific discipline, but we need to understand the scientific method and how to apply it in our daily lives, as well as in our national and international policy-making.witch-torture

Sagan also argued that ignorance of what-came-before can set us up to commit the same errors in the here-and-now. Understanding the past is key to living in the present and planning for the future. To not know our history and our human propensity for unskeptical thinking  is to doom us to continually make the same mistakes, to never move forward, or worse, finish ourselves off as a species.

In Chapter 24, Science and Witchcraft, Sagan revisits the witch hunts of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries that consumed Europe and America.  The parallels in the following passage to today’s political environment are striking: Guantanamo, indefinite detention, military commissions-vs-civilian courts, National Day of Prayer, torture, the run up to the Iraq war, the prosecution of whistle-blowers, even the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Sagan appears prescient. He wasn’t. He was just aware of history.

If we do not  know what we’re capable of, we cannot appreciate measures taken to protect us from ourselves. I discussed the European witch mania in the alien abduction context; I hope the reader will forgive me for returning to it in its political context. It is an aperture to human self-knowledge. If we focus on what was considered acceptable evidence and a fair trial by the religious and secular authorities in the fifteenth-to-seventeenth century witch hunts, many of the novel and peculiar features of the eighteenth-century U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights become clear: including trial by jury, prohibitions against self-incrimination and against cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of speech and the press, due process, the balance of powers and the separation of church and state.Friedrich von Spee (pronounced “Shpay”) was a Jesuit priest who had the misfortune to hear the confessions of those accused of witchcraft in the German City of Würzburg (see Chapter 7). In 1631, he published Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecutors), which exposed the essence of the Church/State terrorism against the innocent. Before he was punished he died of the plague – as a parish priest serving the afflicted. Here is an except from his whistle-blowing book: Continue reading “What does Carl Sagan have to do with Hillary Clinton?”

Feminism, Kick-Ass Women, Science, Sexism

What does having a period have to do with data?

In an observation that foreshadows 20th century feminist theory, Jacobi noted that men’s bodies were treated as if their reproductive health and sexual expression were, within wide parameters, neutral to the point of being “unsexed.” By contrast, women’s reproductive systems were treated as if in every case they were complicated, fragile, finicky, and liable to deteriorate at any moment. In other words, women were marked by their biology. Women had a biological sex that must be monitored and coddled. Men, by contrast, were practically without biological sex. Men were generically human, in need of no special consideration. Men simply…were.

In 1873, during Jacobi’s first year as a professor at the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, Harvard physician Edward H. Clarke published a book that set off a transatlantic debate about women’s abilities to handle advanced education. In Sex in Education; or, A Fair Chance for the Girls, Clarke argued that subjecting women to higher education—especially in programs where women would be educated alongside men—would place such an undue burden on women’s physiology that they would become gravely ill, even to the point of lifelong sterility.

Jacobi’s response to this argument was to make the study of menstruation one of her first major research projects as a professor. Jacobi’s  goal was clear and explicit: to disprove the idea that menstruation was a debilitating condition for women.

Not only was this research goal radical in its own right, but so too were the tools that Jacobi used to achieve it: quantitative data collection and statistical analysis.

Read on: The History of Data is the History of Labor

Politics, The Commons

Net Neutrality Fight Continues

I cannot believe we are still fighting this bullshit. I wrote this eleven years ago on May 12, 2006 on my now-shuttered blog, Blue Lyon.

The telecoms want to create a tiered Internet where web page owners who can pay for speed will get faster loading pages, etc. Right now the Internet works much the same way that phone service works. We all pay our monthly charges and we all get the same service. You pick up the phone, dial the number, and voila! your call goes through at the same speed as George Bush’s or Paris Hilton’s. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you are calling.

Currently the same sort of system applies for web hosting. When we pay our monthly web hosting fee, it doesn’t matter who we are, what the content is on our pages or anything. My web page doesn’t load faster than Amazon.com’s, nor does their web site load faster than mine. Both load at the same speed. But, if the telecoms have their way, not only will we be paying for access to the web, owners of web site will ALSO be required to pay fees that will allow their pages to load quickly. If they can’t afford it, too bad. Their sites will be choked off. Even the big names on the Internet (Amazon.com, Google, etc) are against this, yet, it appears that our Congress Critters are in bed with the Telecoms. Click on the ad to the right. Learn more. Sign the petition to protect Net Neutrality, call your legislators.

July 12, 2017: DAY OF ACTION: SEN. WYDEN LEADS THE BATTLE FOR NET NEUTRALITY (Wired)

Without net neutrality rules, internet service providers ranging from home broadband companies like Comcast to wireless data providers like Verizon would be free to slow video streams, charge you extra to access particular content, or outright block you from visiting sites. Net neutrality advocates worry that this would be a huge blow to free expression online, as well as hamper innovation as smaller companies might have to shell out to large telcos to get their content seen by the public. Wyden echoes those concerns, and especially worries about the impact on small businesses in his state.

The FCC passed the current incarnation of its rules in early 2015, and it was immediately sued by the broadband industry. These days, the industry says it doesn’t mind net neutrality in and of itself, but opposes the part of the FCC’s Open Internet Order that reclassifies internet service providers as “Title II” common carriers, which means they’re regulated more like traditional telephone service providers.

The trouble with the industry’s argument is that thanks to a lawsuit that Verizon won against the FCC in 2014, the agency can’t enforce net neutrality rules without Title II reclassification. “It is the teeth behind the concept,” Wyden says. “And without it the companies aren’t going to do it. We’ve seen them use the legal process previously with court cases to try to get around what net neutrality is all about.”

Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Sexism

Tweets

My photography is taking a backseat to my activism…at least for now. But I think I can squeeze in some writing. Twitter only gets you so far.

 Today’s media pile-on of HRC reminds me again of how her supporters were never allowed our grief. And we never will be.

It will always fall on us to be like her. Stoic in our grief, and careful of everyone’s feeling but our own.

We must forever extend the hand to our enemies and detractors, and must never, ever note how our hands are slapped away time & again.

Our grief and rage are of no consequence to those outside our circle. Our existence isn’t even a blip on the media’s radar.

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Inspiration, Quotes, Uncategorized

Some Thoughts to Ponder

“We all like to think we’re right about what we believe about ourselves and what we often believe are only the best, most moral things. We like to pretend that our generous impulses come naturally. But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be selfish assholes first.” ~ Cheryl Strayed,  Brave Enough

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ~ Jesus, Matthew 7:33

“You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.” ~ E. O. Wilson