Yes, this again

There is wet snow falling outside. It is cold. I was out there maybe five minutes and my hands are frozen. I have a friend visiting from the states, and in celebration I decided to make a special dinner and was missing an ingredient or two. Although I can drive to the store, I was dreading the thought of going out there. It took mental fortification before I was actually able to get up and do so. 
 
While I was at the store, there was a gentleman, as bundled up as he could be, parked on a mobility scooter in the middle of the parking lot. He had a cardboard sign that was slowly getting wetter and losing the text as the the wind pelted him with wet snow. The grayness of the day in addition to the snow made him almost hard to see, an uncomfortable prospect given the cars driving around him. 
What could possibly possess him to make him willing to sit there, wet and cold?

Continue reading “Yes, this again”

Yes, this again
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Flamboyán Al Fin

He hoarded his Christmas gifts. We would get him cologne, ties, shirts, tchotchkes from our travels, treatments to soften his overworked hands, and they would all find their ways into drawers and cabinets, untouched for years. His clothing had to wear to nothing before he would discard it and start the next one’s slow disintegration. New, untouched things are a treasure to save for when they are needed, not an indulgence for in between. Scarcity is behind every shadow and over every hill, and a good hoard is insurance against doing without. It’s a habit my father, my grandfather, and I all share, to each other’s bemused frustration. They tangled with Communists, I grew up autistic, and we all hoard.

Continue reading “Flamboyán Al Fin”

Flamboyán Al Fin

Shaming Med Use Kills

In the last several weeks, there have been several news articles relating to opiate use and changing definitions regarding drug classification and how doctors can prescribe. As usual this has brought a lot of the stigma surrounding medicine use to the limelight. Whenever these conversations get sparked again, a lot of people start talking about over-prescription, abuse of narcotics, and how big bad pharma creates fake conditions in order to sell drugs. People start talking about patients who abuse the system and end up addicted. These conversations are usually had by people who have no personal experience with chronic pain or the type of conditions being discussed. These same arguments then get used to discredit conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and ADHD.

The shaming inherent in a lot of these arguments not only make life more difficult for patients, but they are actually an example of how “a little” knowledge is a dangerous thing. Take, for example, the frequent argument that ADHD is often over-diagnosed and an excuse to medicate children. Some people have gone so far as to claim that ADHD meds are the shut up and sit still drug and that ADHD itself doesn’t exist.

The first half of the argument is based on two problematic ideas: the lie of more-diagnoses which I discussed in a previous article, and a tendency by certain studies to limit their focus on white males. While there is some indication that ADHD may be over-diagnosed in white boys, in every other category girls, people of colour, and so forth, the opposite appears to be the case.

In white children misbehaviour is believed to be pathological, whereas in the case of children of colour, it is believed to be genetic and inherent. When behaviours that are believed to be disruptive appear in class, white children are often send to counselors and psychiatrists, while black children in particular are punished. We’ve seen this discussed when activists and studies discuss the school to prison pipeline. In many cases the behaviours being punished are the same that are said to be caused by ADHD in white children. Continue reading “Shaming Med Use Kills”

Shaming Med Use Kills

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Growing up I was told it was rude to speak ill of the dead. I was told no matter how horrible the person was in life, we should respect them in death. I never questioned this until one of my grandma’s sisters died.

I got the news about my aunt and I felt like dancing. I thought I was being rude but then I thought, this aunt made my life miserable. Any chance she got, she reminded me how ugly and fat I was. She would tell me I would end up “jamona” (a spinster) because of how unattractive I was. I was 12. My grandma would tell her sister about my “bad behavior” and this aunt would say that what i needed was “un buen puño a la cara” (a good punch to the face). I was 7. She would make my school uniforms and I dreaded being measured. She always had something to say. “Oh, you’re so fat. You’re fatter than I am. It’s a miracle you fit through the door.”

She died when I was in my teens. I remember calling my grandma to offer my condolences. But I lied them. When I went to Puerto Rico, I visited my grandpa’s and another aunt’s grave. I left flowers for both of them. I didn’t ask to see that one aunt’s grave and grandma didn’t push me. I told my mother I was happy tia was dead. I would never say this to my grandmother. Not out of respect for that dead aunt, but for respect to grandma. That aunt never showed any respect to me, so I don’t see why I should respect her because she finally dropped dead.

I firmly believe it is OK and even cathartic to be happy someone died. If that person made your life miserable? Pop open a bottle. That person abused you? Merengue on that grave all you want.

My tia didn’t have any influence over legislation. Her opinions and ideas didn’t have the power to sway a population. Scalia on the other had opinions which hurt a lot of marginalized people. I will not judge anyone who is glad he’s gone. I’m sure no one is going to his family and saying they’re happy he’s dead, and I would never advocate that. But I don’t care for the for the posts I’ve seen chastising the people who are happy he’s dead.

“No hables mal de los muertos, que no pueden responder”. Don’t speak ill of the dead because they can’t defend themselves. Well, when she was alive I tried defending myself from her verbal abuse and I was told I was disrespectful.

Death doesn’t mean that person’s bad deeds are forgotten. Death doesn’t magically erase the pain that person caused. But death does guarantee that I’ll never have to listen to her opinions ever again.

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Investigating (Straw) Atheism

There’s nothing quite like a set of loaded questions from a believer to illuminate what being an atheist really means.  For all the increased and increasing visibility that celebrity nonbelievers like Daniel Radcliffe and Jodi Foster are getting us, and for all that atheist thinkers like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett have rendered an exemplary case for non-belief as a philosophical position, we continue to suffer from a litany of stereotypes.  (Often, our most visible proponents do little to disprove them…)

And no set of questions is likely to be more loaded than the set that BornAgain_Believer (sigh) posted on MyNews24, reproduced here:
 
1.       Where do you come from?
2.       What is your purpose on earth?
3.       Does life have a meaning?
4.       What is just and fair for you?
5.       God forbids, if your child is murdered and the person is never caught and brought to justice, how would you handle it, seeing that life has no meaning and we are just here on earht [sic] to live and die. Where would you get justice from?
6.       An intelligent, thinking child brought up by atheist parents becomes a Christian how do you respond? Oh and becomes preacher and starts a new church, would you say your child has a problem?
7.       What about all the injustice in the world that goes by unreported, where must everyone else get justice from?
8.       How do you answer your own child that is searching for meaning and purpose in life?
9.       Why does research, discovery, diplomacy, art, music, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate and caring relationships mean anything if it all ultimately comes to naught anyway?
10.   Is death the end of life?
I’d like to give this questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re asking purely from a position of ignorance.  But when it comes to the privileged and often oppressive end of an unequal societal dynamic, that’s not a warranted assumption.  This fellow’s username says it all.  The Digital Cuttlefish and Nate Hevenstone (if you’re not reading him yet, start) have already taken this on, so I’ll add my two cents.
Investigating (Straw) Atheism