NOW DEFUNCT :(

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's time to stop kidding myself

Given the almost two-month hiatus, I think it's safe to say that this blog has taken a backseat to everything I've been doing. It's not something that I want to do, but it's time to just admit that this blog isn't something that I can do anymore.

Lame.

I'll still be writing on my other blog, Not Standing Still's Disease.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh Israel

So the three Gazan men killed by Israeli fire on Sunday have been found to have no link whatsoever with terrorist organizations. Amazing.

At the time, Israeli army radio described the men as "terrorists", but Gen Ayal Eisenberg now says the soldiers made a mistake.

"The civilians killed by our soldiers' fire... were not involved in any terrorist operation," he told army radio.
"Our soldiers identified a civilian who was picking up an RPG [rocket propelled grenade] and, thinking he was going to fire at them, opened fire" in his direction, he added.

....


Separately, a report published by an Israeli human rights group found that Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinians were rarely punished.
The B'Tselem report released on Tuesday said that the military investigated only 22 of 148 cases submitted by the group.
No criminal charges were brought in any of the cases, which involved the killing of 288 Palestinian civilians between 2006 and 2009, it said.
How is it that one of the most powerful nations in the world (theoretically speaking, of course) can continue to provide support - both physical and financial - to a country who seems to be able to kill others with impunity. Can you say genocide in the making?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yikes

And so it's been over a month again. I really feel like, at this point in my life, this blog just isn't going to be updated that much anymore. I start school in a week and a half, which might lead to me posting interesting things about current events/history, but for the most part I'm really focused on writing about my RA.

If you haven't already, go on over and check out my other blog, Not Standing Still's Disease.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baseball Interview

I'm just going to shamelessly plug an interview I did recently, with the Brewers #1 draft pick Dylan Covey. Head on over to the SB Nation Brewers fan blog, Brew Crew Ball, to check it out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Neda

The year anniversary of Neda's death is fast approaching. The news coming out of Iran has slowed, but there are still people fighting for their right to a fair vote, and to have their voices heard.

Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, whom I've mentioned before, is one of the places that is still putting out news on the state of affairs in Iran. A reader wrote in with information on a new Airborne Toxic Event song, titled "Neda." Please watch the video below.



For the band's words on this new video and song, please go to their website, with more information on how to get involved.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jeez

It's been a month again. I feel like I have little to no energy to keep updating this site regularly, but definitely will use it occasionally. Read it as often as you like I s'pose.

I'd just like to say that I'm pissed. It's now what - day 42 of the oil spill? We're trying all these things that might theoretically work, maybe... if we clap our hands and say we believe in fairies. One of my friends posted a story on facebook yesterday about the Russians using nukes to stop natural gas leaks/fires. Um, how stupid is that? The gulf coast is too close to too many people to even think about doing that.

I think one of the most disappointing things is how the BP execs are handling this situation, making statements like they want this over because they want their lives back?? What about the animals that have died and the people losing their livelihoods because of their newfound inability to fish? I'm pretty sure they'd like their lives back too.

Why didn't a control burn happen at the beginning to prevent it from getting this bad? Why is it going to take them two months to build the only 'sure fire' way to end this? It seems to me that it has to do with preserving as much money as they can and not with protecting the environment or helping the people. Businesses have entirely too much say over how they handle these disasters. The chemical dispersant they're using is making things worse for the animals and not actually breaking up. That video is chilling to watch.

The new plan is to try and build a new pipe and get the oil to the surface. This could not only allow for more leaks when joining the two pipes together, but also backfire and just increase the flow overall into the gulf.

The only sure way to avoid disasters like this is to eliminate our dependence on oil. We need to stop drilling off our coasts and start investing more heavily in alternative energy - wind, solar, biofuel, algae, etc. The investment will be well worth it when we do not have to see footage of animals covered in oil, their habitats and marshes being destroyed, or more people losing their jobs during these hard economic times.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Volf

Well, I finished the Volf book, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, not too long after my last post. I've been so busy that I just have had no time to talk about it.

Volf discusses the importance of the perspectives of others. It's difficult to disseminate what the truth is in many cases, because there can be several truths (pg 46).

We have a "moral obligation" to remember the past truthfully (pg. 51). If we don't remember things correctly, we mess with our self-identity - not to mention the identity of our aggressors. The temptation is great to judge our aggressors and remember their actions as a part of who they are. While this might help us to feel better, it is not entirely fair to our aggressors. Some of them experience their own traumas, leading them to harm us. They are also potentially misremembering us - how we acted, initiated contact and 'asked for it.'

As all survivors of abuse know, memories have a life of their own (pg. 69). They can sneak up and ruin a perfect day just because a light breeze swept a certain smell to your nose. They also influence how we act towards others and react in situations. I mentioned last time that I'm usually very aware of what's happening around me. This tends to pick up when I'm in big cities or places I haven't really been before. Today, I was in Madison for an interview and parked in a garage. I avoided getting into a small elevator with a man. Walking to my car just before noon in a very well lit area, I had my keys in my hand ready to cut someone across the face - you know, just in case. I know that it's completely irrational, but still I can't stop myself.

Volf also points out the problems with inner healing: She will need to develop a sense that the wrongdoing has not closed off her horizon of future possibilities, that it does not define her identity, and that her life continues to have meaning notwithstanding the wrongdoing, possibly even party because of it." (pg. 76). That part definitely gets to be difficult. I believe that my sexual abuse defines part of who I am - not me as a whole, but my experiential self. I react to things differently because of my experiences. I would not say that I am proud of my abuse - obviously that's a stupid way to say it. It might be better to say that I try to not be ashamed of it. I hold myself back based partially in my abuse - I don't really like to be in crowds or with people I don't know.

In the end, this book helped me to learn more about the effects my memory has on the people around me, and the hidden effects it can have on me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Healing and Memories

Warning: I'm going to talk about abuse. I tried hard not to put any triggers in. Still, read with caution?

I'm writing my senior paper right now about ethical views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Right now I'm reading a book by Miroslav Volf, a Croatian Christian theologian. The subject of the book, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, is how to remember violence correctly. Volf himself was spent time being interrogated and held in the former Yugoslavian region, and so has had to learn how to deal with this subject quite personally.

I began reading this book because a professor assumed it would help with my paper. The last book he recommended didn't really help all that much so I was skeptical. However, quickly into starting the book this afternoon, I realized that this book was helping me on a much more personal level. I'm only halfway through the book right now, but I feel like it's helping.

Volf acknowledges that memories display themselves often, whether they are triggered by something or not: "The reason is obvious: to relive those experiences is painful, even in memory. When we remember the past, it is not only past; it breaks into the present and gains a new lease on life." (pg 21). For anyone who has suffered sexual abuse, this makes all the more sense. We cannot feel free if we are still living through these events. In essence, our abusers have a hold on us forever.

Volf argues that memory is "central to identity. To the extent that we sever ourselves from memories of what we have done and what has happened to us, we lose our true identity. We must hold fast to our memories along with the pain; otherwise we will not be true to ourselves. So salvation lies in memory insofar as that memory prevents us from distorting our essential selves and living a lie." (pg 24). In essence, by denying the abuse that we have endured, we lose pieces of ourselves - pieces necessary to really know and be honest with ourselves... and others.

We can't sit here and dwell on our abuse. That's completely unhealthy. It also isn't the most healthy thing to do to run around and tell everyone what you've been through. So what do we do then?

Honestly, I have no clue. It's not like there's a right answer. I guess it just has to do with what works for you. I can't remember most of my abuse. What I do remember... There's no way I can share that with anyone. It makes it really difficult to have good relationships with people, though, when you can't share things that are bothering you because they're related to the abuse. Maybe there should be a code word or phrase - I can say that instead of having to tell people what's going on with me.

Volf says that healing doesn't begin once we remember what has happened. We have to go further and integrate these memories into our story. We have to interpret what our memories mean and use them as a part of our identities (pg 27-28). I can't say I'm ready for that.

He also touches on one of the most integral points for me...
The memory of their own persecution [insert abuse type here] makes them see dangers lurking even where there are none; it leads them to exaggerate dangers that do exist and overreact with excessive violence or inappropriate preventative measures so as to ensure their own safety. Victims will often become perpetrators precisely on account of their memories [remember, this book isn't specifically geared towards sexual abuse]. It is because they remember past victimization that they feel justified in committing present violence. Or rather, it is because they remember their past victimization that they justify as rightful self-protection what to most observers looks like violence born of intolerance or even hatred. So easily does the protective shield of memory morph into a sword of violence. (pg 33)
I will never reveal what kinds of abuse I've endured, or by whom (for the most part). But this makes perfect sense. If you've been abused by a boyfriend in the past, you will react strangely to things going on in current relationships. If you were abused by a girl your age as a child, you usually aren't going to get along with other girls that well, especially your own age... And it's not because you don't try.

I am always very aware of my surroundings - who is in the area, where the exits are, what I could use to beat someone if need be. I'm focused so much on that stuff that I am not necessarily focused on being your best friend in the whole wide world. I'm so paranoid of being vulnerable that it's difficult to be in a long-term relationship without freaking out every now and then - whether or not the relationship is romantic. I try really hard not to let it show, but it's always in the back of my mind. People with whom I have a relationship hold a certain power over me, and that's something that can be scary to someone who has been abused.

So how do we really heal from all of this? I'll tell you what Volf has to say as I finish his book. In the meantime, it's not a bad book to read if you've been through abuse or know someone who has. For the latter, it might help you understand someone better.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare

I'm going to go over some things that I heard last night in Obama's speech about healthcare.

"neither illness or accident"

My family has been changed terribly several times by illnesses and accidents. Did we have insurance each time? Almost without exclusion, no we did not. We cannot afford health insurance for any member of our family.

"rose above weight of our politics"

I'm not entirely sure this is true. Yes, within the Democratic Party, differences were resolved in order to bring a majority vote in favor of the bill. Still, no Republicans voted for the bill and that may come back to bite the administration in the near future.

"change comes not from the top down but from the bottom up"

Changes from the top-down often end up leading to problems, but changes from the bottom-up tend to stick around longer.

"answers the prayers of every american who has hoped deeply for something to be done about a healthcare system that works for insurance companies and not the people"

Damn straight. I've tried to look at health insurance on my own. In my last post, I discussed the outrageous fees and lack of assistance by health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions. I'm sorry that I have a chronic illness - trust me I didn't ask for it. Why do I currently have to pay more? I shouldn't, and this bill should work on that.

"every parent who knows the desperation of trying to cover a child with a chronic illness and being told no over and over again"

It was about this point in the speech when I broke down crying. I remember being so sick when I was little and dealing with all the doctors. We were lucky enough that we lived in Oregon, a state with great insurance programs. I can't imagine having to go through everything without the assistance of the government.

"it's a victory for them, it's a victory for the american people"

I hope that everyone will come to see this in the long run.

"will not fix everything that ails our healthcare system but it moves us decidedly in the right direction"

It is obviously not a quick fix. This isn't like the system backed by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, where we can flip a switch and fix everything. It will take time and hard work, but it will be worth it in the end.

"we have a solemn responsibility to do things right"

For ourselves and future generations.

If You Think Healthcare Was A Bad Idea...

You don't know my step-dad. He has diabetes and has had to have two toes amputated because of it. Now he is thousands of dollars in debt. He can't work his old job anymore because of how hard it is on his body. Months later, he is still in pain and has to elevate his feet.

You don't know my mom. She has been sick since November with what seems to be a large number of cysts in her abdomen. She is in a huge amount of pain but won't go back to the doctor because it costs too much and she can't really miss work. She works at the same place my step-dad used to work, which is very physically demanding. Her employer is too cheap to pay her well or give her benefits despite how hard she works for them - both on and off the clock.

A few years ago, I literally watched my mother die in front of me as a result of a miscarriage. We were lucky enough that they saved her life, but she never got the blood transfusion she needed or other necessary care. Why? Because she didn't have insurance. As a result, her body does not function right often and her memory has been affected.

You don't know my sister. Her life was altered drastically when she had a seizure last May. I was the only one with her and I swear she looked dead. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen. As we were getting her into the ambulance, she was trying to get out of the stretcher, screaming that we couldn't afford this. She was seventeen at the time and in a huge amount of pain, but was worried about the family financial situation more than herself. Her life was saved later when she also had to have an emergency appendectomy. We were lucky enough that she was on Badger Care because of her seizure. It's odd how things work out sometimes.

You don't know me. I lose insurance at the end of July from Carroll. To buy insurance on my own, because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, it would cost $1600 a month and not cover anything more than routine doctor's visits - not medicines, tests, x-rays, physical therapy, etc. Medications can cost anywhere from $100 a bottle to $2500 a pill.

And you don't know the people of America. There are families who are teetering on the edge of homelessness, having to make the choice between buying food and paying the bills. They don't even have the money to think about getting insurance, let alone cover their children and themselves. The story of my family is odd, but not unique by any means.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Doctor Who?

Can I just say that I'm growing more and more fond of former doctor David Tennant? He's adorable - that's all that needs to be said.


Also, they're working on Doctor Who games. Awesome :)

I probably won't be posting a whole lot until mid-March. I have a ton of school projects coming up lately, including my senior capstone project. Blech.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Neda

So much has happened since I last posted and there is so much to talk about. However, the most important thing about today is that it would've been Neda Agha-Soltan's 27th birthday.

Her story is one of the most poignant regarding the Iranian election and resulting protests. The thing that gets me is that she had not yet participated in the protests the day she was murdered. She was on her way to protest, asking for rights that so many people around the world are born with and take for granted. In both November and December, the Iranian government and its supporters desecrated her grave - twice.

Oxford has since set up a scholarship for philosophy, her field of study, in Neda's name - something the Iranian government protested.

Her fiance is speaking out now about her death and how he thinks Iranians should handle it.

According to some twitter friends in Iran, people seem to be gathering at Neda's grave, only to be stopped and surrounded by the Basij.

This young woman only wanted peace and human rights - something that myself and others continue to speak out on. Today I urge you all to honor Neda through action and thought - think about the rights you have as you go through your day, take time out to remember her and what she believed in and ultimately died for.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Are We Still Going to Say Israel's Suffering More?

After this story, we better not.

So some Hamas people fired mortar rounds along the border of Gaza and Israel. I'm obviously not going to condone their use of violence, but I think given the circumstances it is understandable. You kick me out of my house and stick me in a ghetto (gasp!) and I'm probably not going to be happy. Add to that that you want to make it so my six hour school day takes a seventeen hour round trip because of all the checkpoints... or tell me I can't take my dying loved one to the hospital today... I think people don't understand the severity of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank.

Also, from the story above,

Gaza militants have fired more than 280 rockets or mortars at Israel since the end of a devastating offensive against the territory on January 18, according to the Israeli military.

Palestinian groups and human right organisations say about about 1,400 Palestinians died during the offensive. Thirteen Israelis also died in the fighting.


And that's over a thousand Palestinians for every Israeli killed. Can that be justified?

Dear Sydney

I'd rather have gay parents than no parents at all. Apparently, Sydney doesn't see that the same way.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Favorite Picture of the Day

(h/t The Daily Night Owl. To see the whole picture, open it in a new tab or window, or just go visit the site. Apparently I can't fix Blogger to show the whole thing)

Someone at CNN Got It

I have no blue how it took this long, but some guest at CNN finally got their head of their butt and figured out what was going on with these Iranian pro-government rallies. The most recent rallies that occurred have, according to several of my twitter sources, been staged. Those who work for the government were forced to participate in these shams of rallies as a part of their jobs or face unemployment and worse.

If you want to see some heated debates, scroll down to the comments section of that CNN story.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wow, They Finally Figured It Out

USA Today has a story up today on the prevalence of children as sex offenders (h/t to Marcella Chester). According to the story, 36% of sexual offenders are children, with a whopping 93% of them being boys. Girls are often involved in these activities at younger ages.

I was five when the six year old girl we took care of began to abuse me. For the longest time, I didn't know how to handle what had happened. It occurred to me, though, that she was probably abused by someone else - most likely an adult because of things that were going on in her life. As a child, you don't know how to handle that sort of thing and lash out against other people... or you are lead to believe that this is what constitutes love, which can mess up the rest of your life.

It is hard for me to reconcile my feelings on the sex offender list with the experiences I have had. Because she was probably abused, it isn't right to put her on the sex offender list. However, this doesn't downplay the problems that the abuse has caused me in my life.

How can I feel like I have justice?

Well, I really can't. The only thing I can do is go forward and try to move on. What happened to me and other children in similar situations was not our fault and it wasn't "innocent exploration." As hard as it is, you have to try and make peace with what happened to you, learn what you can from it, and be a better person because of your experiences.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Websites

In keeping with the topic of Iran, please visit the Struggle for a Free Iran site. They have a list of people killed and detained since the beginning of the protests also.

Also, visit the Iran Daily Newspaper site. It will have a pro-government spin, no doubt, but is an interesting source of information.

If you're planning on visiting Iran (which is being discouraged for obvious reasons), check this site out. The tagline is my favorite: "Welcome to Iran, the Land of Civilized and Friendly People." This is true for the majority of the population - those not in control.

This site has anything you'd ever want to know about the Iranian flag.

Oh, and don't forget to take a look at the Iranian Constitution. Not only is it interesting to read what they have to say about other religions in their country, but it's odd to see the changes in how this constitution has been used (or not) since June. Torture is forbidden as is arresting people without a proper lawful cause. I wonder if anyone has legitimately claimed asylum in Iran.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

It is always interesting to look back on the previous year and the changes that we have experienced. None of these changes are more important - or dangerous - than those faced by Iranian civilians. Here is just a short look at what has happened there since June.

  • June 13 - Re-election of M. Ahmadinejad causes riots and protests in Iran by supporters of Mousavi; people protest throughout the world in the next few days on behalf of Iranians
  • June 14 - Pro-Ahmadinejad supporters line the streets; some video of this and future pro-government rallies shown however are actually videos of green protests; Mousavi files a formal appeal to the government asking for a recount of the votes
  • June 15 - Mousavi joins the public in protest, despite warnings that this would be illegal and he could face serious consequences
  • June 17 - Iranian soccer players wear green wristbands and are later suspended for doing so; Ebrahim Yazdi, former foreign minister and Sec-Gen of the Freedom Movement of Iran, arrested at hospital while undergoing tests
  • During the above time period, the University at Tehran was attacked by government forces, causing the detainment of over 200 students and the beating of hundreds more; foreign news crews were ordered to leave the country and news began to filter out through social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, and the newly popular Twitter; several international news agencies had their offices attacked and raided; government forces tried to shut down SMS and the internet, yet the people were still able to get word out to the world; the US State Department begins to assist the Iranian people in gaining access to shut down websites; hundreds of reformists and protesters are arrested along with several foreign news personnel; protesters taken to hospitals also have possibility of being arrested, so wounded hold up in makeshift hospitals
  • June 19 - The Ayatollah says that Ahmadinejad's victory is a divine sign and told protesters they would no longer be tolerated; in the face of the Ayatollah's words, protests (albeit on a smaller scale) occurred
  • June 20 - Neda Agha-Soltan's murder is captured on video, fueling the fire lit by green revolutionaries
  • June 22 - Tear gas and more force is used by the Basij to clear up protests; Ebrahim Yazdi sent back to hospital for medical procedure and later released
  • June 29 - a "recount" of the votes is held, with the council in charge saying the Ahmadinejad still wins
  • July 15 - Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 crashes in Iran, killing all on board. Some think this is a ploy by the government to distract and quiet protesters
  • August 5 - Ahmadinejad sworn in again, though he can hear protesters shouting "death to the dictator" outside of the Parliament
  • August 11 - Iranian government confirms the detainment of over 4,000 persons in connection with protests
  • September 18 - Quds Day; large protest held
  • November 4 - 13th of Aban; large protest held
  • December 7 - Iranian Students Day; large protest held
  • December 26 & 27 -Ashura-related protests held; Ashura commemorates martyrdom and gratitude to God; you can find more here and here
  • December 27 - Seyyed Ali Mousavi, Mousavi's nephew, is killed; his body is kept from the family for quite some time before finally being released; Mousavi anticipates his death in the next coming days
  • December 28 - Ebrahim Yazdi re-arrested
So far five people have been killed via trials on charges of orchestrating the revolution and exposing human rights violations.

Women have experienced a huge revolution themselves within the Green Revolution. Feminism is alive in Iran.

Let's hope that the new year brings with it a sense of peace for the citizens in Iran.