Link Miscellany: -isms and -ists

Excellent things that other people wrote!

Fighting childhood cancer and the awful Stanislaw Burzynski at the same time!

With your help, the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients plan to [raise] at least $30,000 by [Burzynski’s] birthday, then challenging the Burzynski Clinic to match whatever they raise, with the total amount going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to support legitimate cancer research and science-based care, even for children who can’t afford it (a novel concept for Burzynski, who charges $30,000 just for one person to enter his “clinical trial” of antineoplaston therapy, a trial that has conveniently been in the preliminary stages for more than 30 years).

For more information and patient tales about the horrors and lies perpetuated by this clinic, peruse The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group.

Trickle Down Feminism:

The stakes are clear. Domestic workers, home care workers, nurses, and other largely female contingents must organize their workplaces or the work that most women do will continue to be undervalued, virtually unregulated, and precarious. The deunionization that has left about 88 percent of American workers without unions will drag the rest of us down as well.

And yet for much of mainstream feminist discourse, it’s as if the economy hasn’t shifted, or as if there’s nothing about it worth examining from the standpoint of gender.

Five polyamory myths debunked. (Credit to Brendan)

Racism within white feminist spaces. Let’s stop that, yeah? (via Andrew)

Nico Lang at WBEZ on transphobia in The Observer. Also the inimitable Lindy West.

Amanda Marcotte is coming to Northwestern. Pbthhh! (Unless you live in Chicago; then you should come!)

Rape prevention aimed at rapists works. It’s terribly shocking, I know. And, it just takes a few clicks to get permission to print out and use the ad campaign yourself!

Link Miscellany: -isms and -ists

The Biggest and Best of 2012


January: I continued to deal with fallout from pointing out that Ron Paul mixes his religion with his politics and is therefore not a good choice for secularists and sharing the death and rape threats I received by:

February: I began sharing videos of me playing the ukulele, which I bought myself for Christmas.  The first videos have terrible sound quality.  I go to Sweden with a research grant.

March: I went to Reason Rally and won a place on the front row by writing an essay for Richard Dawkins that won a contest.  I also made my acting debut in the stage version of Plan 9 From Outer Space.

April:  South Carolina continued to be a disappointing state for progressives, I got sent to church, and I spoke at the Rally Against the War on Women in Columbia, SC.

May: The SCA chooses Edwina Rogers to represent them and she does a poor job of introducing herself to the atheist community.  I attend and liveblog the Women in Secularism conference, which I am looking forward to again this year.

Freethought Blogs Banner

June: I deal with the fallout of explaining the harassment I experienced at TAM and the uproar that women talking about harassment has caused in the online community.  There’s also good news from the national scene on gay rights and healthcare and bad news from the South Carolina scene on healthcare.  Also, I JOINED FTB.

July: Nikki Haley tries to destroy all arts funding and help for rape victims in the state of South Carolina.  AIDS is a major public health problem in South Carolina.  Chick-fil-A gets caught lying online.  Geek culture is criticized for being unwelcoming to women.

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August: We are introduced to the idea of fake middle grounds, legitimate rape, and I get angry about historical minutiae.

September: I got a co-blogger in the fantastic Kate Donovan, began my research into the ways mainstream American culture suppresses Southerners and poor people, and Kate gave us the friend manual on how to deal with friends struggling with mental illness (or any illness).


October: DOMA ruled unconstitutional and I continue to rant about the lack of options against Joe Wilson.

November: I discuss my football (soccer) fandom and my newly developed fondness for Liverpool and cover the election and what it means, good and bad.

December: My dad stops talking to me because I am dating a black man, I explain the legal possibilities in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, Kate covers in-depth all the problems with tying Newtown shootings to Mental Illness, and I recommend some gun policy thoughts.  Robert Bork dies.


 Wordpress’ analysis


The Biggest and Best of 2012

Oscar Noms 2012 — Analysis Forthcoming

SHOCK OF THE DAY: No Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director

Lead Actress: Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis

Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington

Best Picture: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings, Zero Dark 30, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Amour, Django, Argo

Best Director: David O. Russell, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin

Adapted Screenplay: Beasts, Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings, Life of Pi

Original Screenplay: Flight, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Amour, Moonrise Kingdom

Best Foreign Film: Amour, No, War Witch, A Royal Affair, Kon-Tiki

Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Jackie Weaver, Anne Hathaway

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin, Tommy Lee Jones

Oscar Noms 2012 — Analysis Forthcoming

Psychopathology Sum-Up: Bipolar Disorder

[Content note: brief discussion of suicide]

Weekly series! As per previous discussion, I will be published a big information blog about a specific mental illness on each Friday.

I know, today is not Friday. I’m publishing early because I’m excited, and also I want to get lots of feedback. Tell me what I’m not including, what other things you want to know, etc. If there’s enough questions, I’ll do a second follow-up post. Lastly, tell me if there’s terms I’m not defining that I should be. I really really don’t want to get wrapped around jargon here–it helps nobody.

The idea is to talk about what the diagnoses are and aren’t, common misconceptions, what treatment and outcomes look like, and so on. Though not all therapeutic orientations (the theory and approach behind a course of treatment) depend on or use diagnoses–and there’s some very good arguments against using the medical model of diagnosis–we do use labels to conduct research, and it’s worth learning what a mental illness is. I’m going to try to include any changes to diagnostic criteria as well as current debates.

This post is massive and organized in informational sections, so I’ve put it behind a jump.

Continue reading “Psychopathology Sum-Up: Bipolar Disorder”

Psychopathology Sum-Up: Bipolar Disorder

Racist Tacos — South Carolina spreading joy

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Just once, just once I would love for my home state to make the national news for something that wasn’t embarrassing.

In West Columbia, on the route to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, nestled between a nail salon and a bingo joint, there is a tiny taco restaurant called Taco Cid.  I’ve never been, but I might have to go now, just to see if I can get a glimpse of the racist t-shirt making the national “make fun of South Carolina” rounds.

This shirt is worn by the employees and sold by the restaurant to any interested buyer (via Corey Hutchins of the Free Times):

How to catch an illegal immigrant — a rabbit trap with a taco

What they have to say about the t-shirts on their website:

Our t-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants. There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group.

Taco Cid and its employees are not racist. We will serve EVERY individual with the same quality of service, respect in a friendly and welcoming manner.

Our food is fresh and prepared and served in the SAME QUALITY and QUANTITY, regardless of your race, religion or political views.

As most tax paying Americans, we do believe ILLEGAL immigrants are taxing the system we support and live under, thereby, causing us to work harder and pay more taxes in support of their illegal activities which our government has simply chosen to look the other way. Is it racist to disagree with those who are not supporting the American system?

We are an equal opportunity employer and will hire anyone who meets our needs and is a legal citizen or immigrant. We do not hire illegal immigrants. Our employees pay taxes.

We are open Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays — in observance of a day of worship.

If you do not agree with our views on ILLEGAL immigrants, please do not visit our establishment. If you agree with our view on American Equality in citizenship and tax fairness, then show your support and come join us for lunch or dinner.

The thing is, though, that immigrants in this country without permission are committing a civil offense, not a criminal one — calling an undocumented immigrant illegal is inherently marginalizing.  So the site just really compounds racist comment upon racist comment.  Not to mention the fact that immigrants bring a workforce that SC farms need to function, and thereby generate revenue.  Something that SC, which languishes as one of the most impoverished states in the nation, desperately needs.

Even better, the shirt isn’t even original — they’ve apparently lifted it from some offensive t-shirt website.  Awesome job, South Carolina.  Keep up the good work.

(More at Palmetto Public Record)

Racist Tacos — South Carolina spreading joy

Your Domain Has Expired

I got an email today from WordPress.

The domain upgrade at [blog name] has expired.

I’ve been blogging for exactly one year as of today–the blog that has expired (though it’s been set to private for months) was my first, begun January 7th of last year. In exactly one year I’ve written there at Teen Skepchick, Friendly Atheist, Heresy Club, and In Our Words. I’ve guest posted at Brute Reason and Martin Pribble’s Blog, and…as you may have noticed…moved to Freethought Blogs.

Writing, which began with book reviews and a news-y and optimistic atheist blog has evolved into a mental health focus. I’ve figured out that I love interviewing, can’t string more than 700 words together for a post, and that godless heathens give the best hugs. I’ve started therapy, figured out how Twitter works, and moved out of my teenage years.

I’ve also met all my closest friends and my lovely partner. I’ve met you commenters, people who say really smart and wonderful things while having fun names. I’ve been linked to on Psychology Today and American Conservative (guess which one of those I was happy about), and accidentally introduced myself as Kate Donovan a few too many times.

Here’s to year number two of yelling at people on the internet.

You guys are great. Keep being that way.


Your Domain Has Expired

No True Scotsman, Atheists, & Apathy

Okay. So, atheists. You might have seen some arguing in the blogosphere lately. You might have heard people with pleasant accents saying unpleasant things about feminists. Or you’ve been ensnarled in a Twitter spat. Or three.

It’s exhausting, and I get it. You want us to all get along and stop writing blog posts at each other, stop arguing amongst ourselves and all that nonsense. It’s hard to wait–to even have to anticipate–the next back-and-forth. There’s YouTube videos and forums and vlogs focused internally. Comments on blogs and blogs about comments.

So, for a second we’re going to talk about ‘pure’ atheism, the non-intersectional vanilla kind.

You know, you’re upset about the last thing the Christian right said. So you say something on r/atheism, Facebook, in public, and the next thing you know, there’s a liberal Christian type saying….

“But True Christians ™ don’t do that!”
“But if you read the Bible correctly, Jesus just preaches love!”
“The Westboro Baptist Church isn’t REAL Christianity”
“The Ugandan kill-the-gays bill wasn’t supported by Real Christians!”

It’s obnoxious. And we, understandably, grouch about it.

Police your own, we say. You don’t get to say ‘I’m Catholic! But I support contraception and choice–I just won’t speak against the Pope’s harmful policies!” You can’t just pretend that people in a religion you choose to be a part of aren’t doing awful things. When you decide to join a group–hell, when you are part of any category–that’s how it works. Shrugging off bigotry and injustice as a ‘different interpretation’ of equally devoted believers and nothing more is intellectually dishonest.

I’m mad. Greta Christina is angry–it’s numbers 94 and 95 out of 99 Things That Piss off the Godless. JT, Ed, PZ, Cuttlefish are frustrated. I think we can agree that the progressive Christians aren’t exempted entirely from critique just by pretending that the rest of Christianity doesn’t sometimes do horrid things.

You know what I’m saying? Right? Right.

Okay, easy vanilla part’s over.

We’re hypocrites if we don’t take this to heart in our own community. 

If we’re going to try to act ‘better’–actually, I think that’s arbitrary measure–if we’re going to be intellectually honest, we DO need to be arguing, critiquing, and otherwise speaking up about intolerable behavior. We need to–to cherrypick from the Bible myself–cast the beams from our own eyes.

Stepping out and saying that you don’t want to be involved in all that drama is equivalent to what we object to of the religious. I’m sorry it’s stressful, exhausting, and disheartening. But we’re worth it. The people of this movement, and the people who will be part of this movement are worth it.


No True Scotsman, Atheists, & Apathy

2012 Movies, Part 1: Top 5 Films

The Extraordinary
Fantastic movies of 2012

I’ve seen a lot of movies this year and wanted to discuss all of them in-depth, but realized that was way too much for one post.  So, to start with, this is a list of my ten favorite films of the year and a discussion of the problematic aspects of many of them.  It is possible, of course, to love a movie that has issues, and many of my favorite films of the year focus on the privileged.  So without further ado, my top 10 films and their strengths and weaknesses.

1. Django Unchained: The story of a slave and an enlightened German bounty hunting and seeking revenge in antebellum South.  This is my favorite movie of the year.  It deserves nods for Best Directing, Best Screenplay, Best Soundtrack, Best Original Music, Best Ensemble, Best Western Since Blazing Saddles, Most Brilliant Unnecessary Carnage, and Best Conversation Starter.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Fails. The beautiful and awesome Kerry Washington is the damsel in distress who, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything proactive.  Zoe Bell has a brief appearance, unrecognizable and badass as a villainess.  There are also several slave women who are there to be eye candy or Mammy and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has a sister, who meets a wonderfully horrific end.  And, with the loss of Tarantino’s brilliant editor Sally Menke, there aren’t any women in above-the-line positions on the film.  On the other hand, the film makes strong use of African-American characters, who have complex interactions with the Institution, making it a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of slaves.

2. Hitchcock: The story of the making of Psycho and the relationship between Alma Reville and Alfred HItchcock.  I love Helen Mirren so much I would go see her in anything and she has some wonderful moments here.  Anthony Hopkins is good as Hitchcock, but it is really Mirren who steals the show, especially since so few know the story of the woman behind the man.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass, I think.  It’s a biopic about Hitchcock, who is a man, and nearly every conversation is about him.  But I’m fairly certain his secretary, played by the wonderful Toni Collette, and Alma discuss the script, which Alma rewrites for her husband.  The story is not strictly historically accurate, but it is fascinating, especially as an attempt to give credit to the woman who was so instrumental to Hitchcock’s success.  In a way, the film is very empowering in as much as it reveals just how much Alma contributed. There are, of course, no people of color in the film, arguably because that’s what Hollywood and Hitchcock’s circle looked like in 1960.

Great interview with Helen Mirren:

3. Silver Linings Playbook: The story of a man trying to overcome his bipolar disorder so that he can reunite with his wife who meets a young woman struggling with her grief from her husband’s death.  The trailer did not make me think that this movie was going to be particularly special, but the reviews were so positive that I went to see it anyway.  Although I have some issues with the end, it is an incredibly well-made movie and both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are perfect in their roles.  The scene-stealer of the movie, however, is Robert DeNiro, who I would give best supporting actor to in a heartbeat.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Fail.  Chris Tucker, John Ortiz, and Anupam Kher offer faces of color and interesting, complicated characters.  While they are not the leads, they have meaty roles that offer them more to do than most films give their secondary characters.  All three of them are incredibly charming and funny.  Lawrence is, of course, a fantastic and fun woman who is complex and, while she needs a little rescuing, she is also rescuing Cooper from his life as well.  She is strong and vicious and sweet in turns.  Jacki Weaver is also great as the mother.

Not the spitting image of Ben Affleck
Not the spitting image of Ben Affleck

4. Argo: The true story of a CIA agent pretending to be a Hollywood Sci-Fi movie’s location scouter to rescue 6 Americans from Iran.  I normally can’t stand Ben Affleck as an actor, but I love real-life intrigue stories and, it turns out, he was actually really good in this film.  Roger Ebert named this as his number one film of the year, and while it didn’t quite reach that for me, I understand why it did.  It is, as he says, the most “movie” movie of the year and, like Ebert, I am very much interested in popular movies as much as I am in high film, if not more.  John Goodman and Alan Arkin are brilliant as ever.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass.  This is very much the story of tricking the Iranians and Iranians hating Americans, so there’s not a lot of positive feelings given their way.  Affleck is also playing a person of Mexican heritage — on the one hand, it’s awesome that a movie got made with someone named “Mendez” as the hero and it never would have gotten made without Affleck, on the other hand it’s a shame that the movie plays down his heritage and didn’t have the ability to give the opportunity to someone who is Mexican American.


5. Beasts of the Southern Wild: The story of a little black girl living outside the levees in New Orleans and how she survives a big storm and her father’s illness.  I was fully expecting this to be my favorite movie of the year — I love magical realism stories about children.  Plus, Obama recommended it to Oprah, who named it her favorite film of the year — if that’s not endorsement, what is?  It didn’t make it to number one, but it is an incredible movie.  Quvenzhané Wallis is incredible in the lead.

Representation: Bechdel Test: Pass.  While I found this movie empowering and meaningful as a depiction of rural, Southern life, there has been substantial disagreement from others.  While Obama and Oprah loved it, bell hooks thought it was a portrayal of the noble savage and black matriarch stereotypes.  I personally think the entire movie subverts those stereotypes with a strong black single father who is fiercely devoted to his daughter, if not affectionate, juxtaposed against the strong teacher figure who helps her with her father’s illness but doesn’t ever take care of her — and I don’t see how a six-year old who is dependent on others to survive is a “matriarch”.

Honorable mentions: Brave (Bechdel Pass, no people of color); The Hunger Games (Bechdel Pass, strong secondary characters were people of color); Rise of the Guardians (Bechdel Fail, no people of color); Wreck-it Ralph (Bechdel Pass, no people of color); Zero Dark Thirty (Bechdel Pass, one minor character and bad guys were people of color)

Films on other people’s lists that I haven’t seen: The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spiderman, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Oranges, Moonrise Kingdom, Safety not Guaranteed, Take this Waltz, Life of Pi, Amour

2012 Movies, Part 1: Top 5 Films

Stuff About Stuff

I’ve been writing for about a year now (more on that in another blog post), and I’ve been writing in a bunch of places. Since I’m now mainly here, and lists appear to be legally required of everyone with access to online publishing, here’s a List of Arbitrary Length of Stuff I Wrote and Liked in No Particular Order.

An Interview with Mary Johnson, a Nun Who Worked Under Mother Teresa and Later Became an Atheist

What message would you like to send to anyone who is sitting in a Church pew right now but may not believe in Catholic doctrine?

Trust yourself. Find someone to talk to who will listen to your doubts with an open mind. Realize that those who pronounce on doctrine are human, just like you are. Find a community that will nourish you and in which you can be yourself without pretending, whether it’s at your gym or in a book group or an atheist or Humanist organization. Is remaining in the Church worth losing your soul?

BRAAAAINS! Being a Skeptical Mental Health Services Consumer

Another Burnt Out Atheist

Eating Disorders: The Stories We Tell


I went home last summer and I worked at the same places. I went to the studio twice. I said hi, I hugged everyone. We socialized a bit, and I plead errands. I drove to the closest Starbucks and cried.

This year, I live by a ballet studio. I walk by it each day–it’s impossible to avoid on my way to school. The girls slip in, black leotards and elbows and knees and bobby pins. When I come home from my night classes, I can hear the music bouncing off the mirrors and wood floors.

I grieve.

History Just Happened and You Should Care



Everyone is cheering. I’m doing my best to squash all the jumpy and shouty tendencies this is bringing out in me. My roommate is both sick and asleep, and running around yelling isn’t an option. I get all teary instead. History is happening, and I can stream it on a tiny computer while sharing excitement with people around the world.

This is what the future looks like.

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Said I Wasn’t Skinny Enough to Have an Eating Disorder

The rate for attempted suicide in those with eating disorders is as high as three times that of the general population.  Everyone quotes statistics, but I want you to take a hard look at that one. If you combine the neurotypical people out there with those who have PTSD, with those who have major depression, with everyone else who has considered their life not worth living, they attempt suicide at one third the rate of those with eating disorders.  You know what makes me hurt so badly I want nothing more than to make it stop any way I can? When people I trust decide some number on a scale measures the weight of my claims, when they reinforce the horrible things I believe about myself. I just never thought one of them would be you.

Teen Skepchick Interviews: Gwynne Shotwell — President of SpaceX

The ‘We’ of It: An Apology

The Friend Manual, Parts I-IV

Stuff About Stuff

New, New, New

New Years, new ideas, new things.

So, what say you to some new ideas for my blogging? I’m really looking for your responses, and yes, they will effect what I decide to do.

Important: I am Kate, not Ashley. I speak only for my posting. So, if you tell me I need to be making more ukelele videos, that’s nice, but I can’t sing, and you sure don’t want to watch me try to play music. 

Idea One: A weekly segment on a single mental illness, how it can present, criteria for diagnosis, myths and misconceptions, and holes and flaws in the methods of treatment and diagnosis. This got pretty great responses on Twitter, so it’ll be happening. Ideas for the first illness are much appreciated!

Idea Two: Mental health skepticism! I keep meaning to do more of this, but it’s slipped by the wayside. There’s a lot of nutty ideas out there about psychiatric medication (Do SSRI’s cause suicide?), therapy (Rorschach, anyone?), IQ tests, and on and on. I’d like to talk more about that.

Idea Three: Asexuality. Fun fact: I am under the ace umbrella. I keep meaning to write a general post about it, or a more specific one about (A)sexual, an excellent documentary, recently released, but somehow I never finish.

Other things in no particular order: These are titles of pieces that I’ve been meaning to write about, or haven’t gotten out of my drafts, and still haven’t managed to. If you like anyone especially (or conversely, dislike anyone), I’ll take it into consideration.

  • No True Scotsman, Apathy, & the Deep Rifts
  • DSM 5 vs. DSM IV
  • The varying levels of stigma associated with different disorders
  • Alternative Medicine as Complementary Treatment: Still a Problem
  • Making Your Conference Introvert/Social Anxiety Friendly
  • People Who Benefit From Therapy and People Who Have Mental Illness: A Venn Diagram

Is there other stuff I’m leaving out that you’d like to see? Comment below! Also, it’s a new year, and I need more blogs to read–self-promote or promote other people!

New, New, New