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freelark
28 December 2011 @ 02:32 pm
Here is a mnemonic I have come up with to help me succinctly express the difficulties that come with the syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD):

S: Social skills
T: Tactile–perceptual skills
E: Executive functioning
A: Arithmetic
M: Motor control
S: Spatial skills

This is not an exhaustive list—NLDers also have trouble with temporal perception, for example—but it hits all the ones that come up the most in the literature as well as executive functioning, which I think deserves far more attention than it is given. Also note that the mnemonic is not intended to be all encompassing; it says nothing about the sensory issues NLDers have (which I see as more of an annoyance than a deficit) or the assets we have (namely our command over literal language and linear logic).

Feel free to use this as you see fit.
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freelark
21 June 2011 @ 08:55 pm
Hey, everyone. I wanted to write about an amazing episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, a live action television series that silent_bunny and iggy04 have been talking up to me. The episode in question was "Athens City Academy of the Bards". The premise is that Gabrielle has decided to study to be a story-teller in Athens, alongside other want-to-be story-tellers. This is a framing device for short narratives of events that had occurred in previous episodes. Yes, the episode I most recently watched was a clip show. "But, Veronika," someone might say, "what is so amazing about an episode like that? Myriad television series have done clip shows." Well, someone, this clip show was special. It aired just 13 episodes into the first season, the point at which the season was just half over. It reminds me of that time when . . .

Clip #1Collapse )

Of course, there was an important difference between Episode 2 of Clerks and Episode 13 of Xena: In Episode 13 of Xena the clip show trope was played more or less straight. Why do I say, "More or less"? Well, the other storytellers also had stories. There was one over-the-top lover of adventure stories whose tales were accompanied by clips from some Hercules movie with really dated stop motion animation. This was a funny idea, but the execution left a lot to desire. There was also a story-teller who was presented as being adept; his final story was accompanied by clips from Spartacus. Hey, Xena writers, it's a good thing Episode 13 was the best episode of any series to ever air on television; otherwise including clips from a movie that won four academy awards would make your show look much worse by comparison. This reminds me of that time when . . .

Clip #2Collapse )

Even though I was less than impressed with Episode 13, I am going to keep watching Xena. All my other shows are on hiatus at the moment, so it is not as though I am missing out. More importantly, silent_bunny and iggy04 assure me that the series gets better as it progresses. I just hope they're right. I know from experience that sticking it out sometimes leads to no pay off. I am thinking now of that time when . . .

Clip #3Collapse )

I am sorry for all the cutting and pasting, but "Athens City Academy of the Bards" was such an exceptional episode that I have been rendered unable to piece together new sentences. I will try to post more original content the next time. I feel dirty for recycling old content, which is exactly how the writers of a threadbare excuse for a clip show should feel and how the people who recommend a series without warning the potential viewer about the threadbare excuse for a clip show should feel. ^_~ Episode 13? I am starting to understand why some people become tridichtophobes.

 
 
freelark
25 October 2010 @ 07:38 am
Back  
I probably should have said something along these lines sooner, but since I didn't, I'll say it now: Thanks to the friend who lent me her laptop, I'm finally able to keep up with my friends' journals. However, I don't have the time to go back and read all the entries I missed when I didn't have a working laptop. (My 'net access is still limited to the number of hours I'm able to spend in the library each day.) So if there's something important I missed that happened between mid-June and the time the 'net became readily available for me again (a few weeks ago, give or take), please tell me or point me towards the relevant entry.

Many thanks to everyone who was patient with me during my time away.
 
 
freelark
Many thanks to geechild for bringing this story to my attention: In 2007 K. K., a trans person in Gary, wasn't allowed to enter hir prom, because ze showed up in a dress. As you can read here, the school has only recently agreed to a settlement:

Former student nears settlement over prom

I'm using gender neutral pronouns here, because there are numerous indications that the paper is insensitive to how K. K. identifies.
 
 
freelark
18 March 2010 @ 03:21 pm
Have you ever wished you could listen to the music I happen to be listening to in a given week? Yeah, I didn't think so. Even so, there's now a way you can do just that:

My Current Mix of *Mostly* Female Vocalists

Kudos to lucullean, feral_formulae, rolodexaspirin for helping me find some of these songs.
 
 
 
freelark
19 February 2010 @ 09:36 pm
For some time now I've been following the blog of Monica "TransGriot" Roberts, and goddamn if she doesn't piss me off. Today she praised Keith Olbermann for simultaneously calling Ann Coulter trans to insult her and denying the reality that trans women are women. I agree that Coulter was way out of line in her comments about Olbermann, but Olbermann was also way out of line when he dragged every transsexual woman on the planet into it. What have I ever done to Olbermann to deserve his comment? There's nothing quite like being shot down by your own.

Ann Coulter Gets Pwned by Keith Olbermann

Though this is the first time I've seen Monica defend someone for saying something blatantly cissexist, this is not the first time she has said something fucked up -- not at all. So why have I been following her blog for all this time? The simple reason is that Monica is often the first to report on hate crimes committed against trans people, especially trans women of color, and knowing when one of my own has fallen is important. But I shouldn't have to sift through reams of hate to find news important to me. And so I bid Monica farewell -- and not an especially sad one. The trans community is vast and resourceful; I don't have to depend on a hatemonger to get the information I need.
 
 
freelark
12 February 2010 @ 06:21 pm
If you choose to learn about a practice you believe to be exploitative to women by engaging in the practice you believe to be exploitative instead of talking to the women you believe to be exploited, you fail feminism forever.

I am about to eat sushi off a naked woman's body
 
 
freelark
27 January 2010 @ 02:56 pm
Over the weekend I received a package from silent_bunny which contained a card that made me cry tears of joy and the first season of Veronica Mars, every episode of which has brought tears to my eyes.

This morning I looked at my friends' page to find that some of the folks at rolodexaspirin had translated me into a world of their envisioning. You can see the fruit of their labors in my new default user pic. In the picture I have a female body. This led to more tears of joy for me.

Please excuse me while I open a window before I drown.
 
 
freelark
14 January 2010 @ 12:21 am
To anyone who was wondering what I did when I heard that Mary Daly had died and reflected on her influence on feminist thought: I spent the rest of the day having warm thoughts about Audre Lorde.
 
 
freelark
12 January 2010 @ 01:52 am
By coincidence (not a fortunate one, when you consider the circumstances) two different women write about unwanted attention and how it relates to two different oppressions:

"But I Was Just Curious!": The Fail of Invasive Questions -- The Venn diagram alone is worth taking the time to click.

Black women and boundaries
 
 
 
freelark
22 December 2009 @ 05:43 pm
mantic_angel has shared a link to a video that's supposed to demonstrate to English-speaking people what it's like to hear English when you don't speak the language:

Prisencolinensinainciusol

I think this video will give some people insight into what it's like to be the other, which is great. As for me, like many of the people who commented I had the experience of feeling as though I ought to have been able to understand what was being said. However, this isn't all that different from my usual experience listening to songs that really are in English. Learning the words of a song, even if it's a favorite, is a painstaking process for me, because it requires me to find the lyrics and read along while listening. And finding a song I like using lyrics is often impossible, because quite often I can't understand a single word. I suspect this has everything to do with my APD.
 
 
freelark
13 December 2009 @ 05:22 pm
This video was posted to Questioning Transphobia (which is available as a syndicated feed through LiveJournal). It's so incredibly moving that I had to share it here:

Fight against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
 
 
freelark
On atheismandrace unusualmusic has posted the following videos about how US conservatives have stymied AIDS education efforts in Uganda while encouraging legislation that would make it illegal for lesbian, gay, and bi (LGB) folks to have sex, with punishments ranging from life imprisonment to death: Meanwhile jesus_h_biscuit tells us about the Salvation Army's policies, which are among other things anti-LGB (thanks to wordweaverlynn for providing the link):

Salvation Army Lobbies for Religious Discrimination

My fellow workers might be interested in an incidental labor connection between these two topics. The Fellowship a/k/a the Family apparently began as a group that prayed out of concern over the IWW and socialist struggles of the day. And doesn't every good wobbly know that the Salvation Army band used to disrupt IWW meetings?

 
 
freelark
30 November 2009 @ 08:10 pm
I just found this quote from Batman Begins that I recorded at some point before I came out as a woman. It now means something completely different to me:

It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.
 
 
freelark
25 November 2009 @ 03:28 pm
Thanks to lucullean for bringing this story to my attention:

Runaway with Asperger's [sic] Syndrome Spent 11 Days on Subway

Though the public is more aware of Asperger syndrome and the autistic spectrum than it was 25 years ago, spectrumites of color are still all but invisible. This article is the first I've seen about anyone at the intersection of autism and race, and it suggests that those of us who want a better world have a lot of work to do.
 
 
 
 
freelark
02 September 2009 @ 12:42 pm
The new community is now open for posting. Here it is:

lesbopalooza

It was created to be an accepting community, so if discussing matters of interest to lesbians and queer women is something you'd like to do, by all means join us. If you'd like to give me a hand and spread the word (in a non-spammy way, of course), I'd greatly appreciate it.
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freelark
So after getting out of a domestic violence (DV) situation a few years back I started getting counseling through an anti-DV program for TBLG people. The program keeps non-identifying aggregations of details about its clients, including their "genders". The options for this category are male, female, MTF, FTM, and other. These options make me say, "WTF." Presumably what they mean by the former two are men and women, and if that's the case MTF women and FTM men are being third-gendered. So if I didn't think it important to specify that I'm trans my inclination would be to specify that I'm "female" or "other (woman)". However, it is important. As was recently posted to Questioning Transphobia, sixty-four percent "of trans people have experienced domestic violence at some time". Considering this and the fact that my former partner explicitly linked my being trans with some of the abuse, I really don't feel that I can afford to be invisible.

My counselor is wonderful and knows that these options are awful, so fortunately it's up to me to decide. But it would be much better if the institution she's a part of would separate the question "What is your gender?" from the question "Are you trans?"
 
 
freelark
11 May 2009 @ 10:24 pm
If you didn't know, there's been debate over whether the word transgendered is acceptable. The point of contention surrounds the -ed. The debate often goes something like this:

Anti -ed: The -ed implies that trans people have undergone a process that makes them trans. However, trans people are trans from birth.

Pro -ed: Pish posh. The -ed in transgendered implies this no more than the -ed in right-handed. Nobody thinks right-handed people weren't right-handed at birth. Why would this be an issue for trans people?

In my opinion the Pro -ed counter-argument was hurt recently when this was published in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

While some people do not think their corporeal alteration is required to comfortably fit into opposite gendered roles, others seek medical intervention to facilitate their transgendering.

(The quote is from the entry "Feminist Perspectives on Disability". The emphasis is mine.)

For similar reasons it's problematic that the author refers to intersex people as intersexed.

 
 
 
freelark
I came out to my therapist today. She was really supportive and happy for me. No surprise there, but it still felt good.

I also came out to my roomie. She took it well. We agreed on which of her friends should know and which ones shouldn't.
 
 
freelark
10 April 2009 @ 06:37 am
In Rent (both the musical and the movie) why is it that the song Roger sings when he is unable to come up with any material so much better than the song he sings once he is able to write music again?
 
 
freelark
23 March 2009 @ 07:19 am
It's not very often that creationists or the evolutionary biologists they attack make claims that I can test directly. When I was growing up, I tried digging up dinosaur bones in my parents' backyard, but I only found rocks and that digging is backbreaking work. But recently William Dembski, an "intelligent design" (ID) theorist, made a claim that I could test without having to do so much as put my boots on.

The claim concerns Weasel, a simulation that Richard Dawkins coded in the 1980s for his book The Blind Watchmaker. In the simulation there is a series of generations in which a parent gives birth to children, one of which is selected to be the parent of the next generation. The parent of the first generation is a string of random text, but through random changes and selective pressure each generation of descendants looks more like a line of Shakespeare: "Methinks it is like a weasel." If you're thinking that this is in important respects different from natural selection, you're right, and Dawkins was the first to point this out. Dawkins only aimed to provide evidence for a rather modest claim: Random changes with selection can give results exponentially faster than random changes alone.

William Dembski recently raised questions about Dawkins' program at a web site called Uncommon Descent. Dawkins, as paraphrased by Dembski, claims it took 43 iterations to make his program give the line of Shakespeare the first time he ran Weasel, and it took 64 iterations the second time. Dembski points at Dawkins' abbreviated list of iterations and asks why we don't see any instances in which a letter that has been selected mutates again, this time away from the target text. He then says, "It is natural to conclude that that it [Weasel] is a proximity search with locking (i.e., it locks on characters in the target sequence and never lets go)." He then points to a portion of a documentary in which Dawkins runs a program in which changes can be seen to occur, even after the target is reached:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sUQIpFajsg

Though he doesn't come right out and say it, the implicature is that Dawkins has overstated his claims about his program and that there has been some dishonesty on Dawkins' part.

Unfortunately for Dembski, this is all easily testable. I pounded out my own version of Weasel in one sitting. What did I find? If I print all the children to screen, I get results much like what we see in the documentary. However, if I print only the most adapted child of each generation to screen, I get results much like the ones Dawkins gave in his book. This is entirely consistent with what he said he was doing there. Dawkins didn't say what parameters he used, but when the chance of mutation for a given character is around 1 in 20 and the population size is around 100, I reach the target in little over 64 generations. Even when the population size is decreased, it's often the case that there will be runs in which the most adapted child of any given generation is in no respect less adapted than the most adapted child of the previous generations. What's more, even when there is drift, it's not at all unlikely that this will be corrected within 10 generations. If Dawkins reached the target in 43 generations, he may well have been using a larger population size, in which case it would have been even less likely that this sort of drift would be apparent. Having seen these results, I see nothing improbable about the lines of text Dawkins gave in his book. There is no reason to suppose that Dawkins made a locking program, and there's no reason to suppose that the program he used for The Blind Watchmaker works differently from the one we see in the documentary. If Dembski wants to say this mutation-selection behavior is counter-intuitive, I'll grant him that, but it is what happens.

Kudos to Ian Musgrave of The Panda's Thumb for bringing this matter to my attention.
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freelark
06 February 2009 @ 02:31 pm
. . . you're having a dream about urinating and awaken to find that you can't pee.
 
 
freelark
30 January 2009 @ 08:43 pm
Having grown up hearing that the theory of evolution was (literally) the work of the Devil, I found this to be really interesting:

Darwin's twin track: 'Evolution and emancipation'

Before the publication of The Origin of the Species talk of common descent was found in anti-slavery tracts; abolitionists argued that black slaves and white people had a common ancestor. Charles Darwin wanted to demonstrate this and went one step farther.
 
 
 
freelark
20 January 2009 @ 11:51 am
I was surprised that in addition to mentioning people of "all faiths" Barack Obama mentioned "non-believers" -- that's something even more radical folk often fail to do.

The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery asked God to "deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, the least of these". If more Christians saw that as the chief evil, it wouldn't make me a believer, but I'd be sorely tempted to visit a church again.

And of course from now on when children in the US see an up-to-date list of Presidents accompanied by their photographs, they won't see a panoply of all white faces. No, that doesn't mean racism is over, but it isn't a bad thing.
 
 
freelark
So I recently wrote to US Airways to protest its pilot's refusal to fly with three Sikh men on board. This is the response I got today:

Dear [my name omitted],

Thank you for visiting usairways.com.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the removal of six imams from a US Airways flight last November. As we said previously, we do not tolerate discrimination and believe that our crews and ground employees acted appropriately. We are sorry that you disagree, but we will continue to back the actions of our employees.

We know that you have many choices when it comes to traveling these days and we would like to say thank you for choosing US Airways!

Sincerely,

Kelli Kingsley Internet Support Specialist US Airways

If anyone is curious, the form I used to complain the first time can be found here: http://www.usairways.com/awa/content/contact/generalform.aspx
 
 
freelark
22 November 2008 @ 10:18 pm
Beryl took me to see ''Wicked'' last night. Apart from some Timeline performances that Yvette has taken me to see this is the first musical I've seen live since I saw Show Boat about 13 years ago. I enjoyed it because and despite the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting. Contrary to my expectation, the songs weren't as good as I was expecting. Mind you, they weren't bad, but the musical was no Rent or Fiorello. Mild spoilers behind the cut.Collapse ) The surprise definitely outweighed the disappointment; I recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to see it.
 
 
freelark
08 November 2008 @ 03:42 pm
Please leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me. It can only be one word.

No more.

Then copy & paste this in your journal so that I may leave a word about you. :)
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freelark
10 August 2008 @ 01:48 pm
I'm pretty sure International Blog against Racism Week (IBARW) is over, but I'm also pretty sure there's still racism in the world, so I'm going to register my disgust anyway.

The seed for the idea of this post was planted when I learned of the cast of the upcoming film adaptation of Watchmen. I started to wonder why there are so few anti-heroes of color. The only film I could think of that had an African American anti-hero was Spawn. When I tried finding another, the only relevant film title I found was Superfly, a sort of exception that proves the rule. I considered that the lack may partly be due to movie creators' feeling that they need to tread carefully in order to remain racially sensitive. After all what sets an anti-hero apart from a hero is certain less-than-heroic qualities, and an ignorant audience member might associate these qualities with the character's ethnicity. However, I didn't think that alone explained the dearth of anti-heroes of color in mainstream media.

I was then reminded of something else I had noticed: Why is it that in recent years the judge, the computer expert, or the God of a mainstream work of fiction has been black? At first glance this might look like a cause for celebration: Finally a positive portrayal of black people! But I started to feel that I was seeing the genesis of a new stereotype. But it was only while thinking about these stock characters in relation to anti-heroes that it hit me: These characters are just one step away from being magical negroes (indeed the article that I link to lists God as played by Morgan Freeman as a magical negro). By and large their history is neither explored nor shrouded in a mystique to give the audience cause to supply their own history. They have a lot of power that comes from their genius or near-genius mental abilities, but they generally only use it to bail white protagonists out of trouble or teach them valuable lessons.

The anti-hero could be considered the antithesis of the magical negro. Anti-heroes tend to have rich histories; this is part of what helps us see them as heroic. I can remember reading Classic X-Men and coming to admire Wolverine, because even though he acted like an asshole a good part of the time, the writers hinted at a rich history of suffering to explain why he acted that way. (This was many years before the publication of Weapon X.) Anti-heroes also tend to be somewhat egoistic, working with the group only insofar as is needed to further their own ends. So I think there are two main reasons we don't see many anti-heroes of color in fiction. First, white writers don't want to depict people of color with rich histories that involve suffering, even though real life people of color experience oppression that white people in a racist society will never know. Second, white writers don't want to depict people of color being reluctant to help out white people or doing things for their own sake. And so we have characters of color who have or may as well have dropped out of heaven to help out white people -- though never white writers, it seems.

If anyone insists that this is an innocuous lacuna, consider how often you see anti-heroes who belong to any oppressed group. (This is appropriate, as the theme of this year's IBARW is intersectionality.) In Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta the protagonist's race and sexual orientation are left ambiguous. But the movie makes V white and straight, despite the movie's pervasive pro-gay-rights theme. It's difficult to excuse this by saying, "We wouldn't want people to associate V's anti-heroic qualities with being black or being gay," when the film version of V has been stripped of most of his anti-heroic qualities. This is even less justifiable when the film has Evey make reference to V's being an everyman. One of the advantages of having a masked protagonist be an everyman -- one that Moore had the insight to exploit -- is that you can let many of the character's attributes remain ambiguous. It seems that the film-makers simply did not want to present a protagonist or an everyperson who even ambiguously knew what it was to be a person of color or non-heterosexual.

On a note unrelated to anti-heroes but related to racism, if I were a person of color, people might attribute my lateness in contributing to IBARW to my ethnicity. But because I'm white, I have the privilege of never having to deal with that accusation.