rivka: (smite)
Elsewhere on the net, someone posted asking what she should do with a free sample of infant formula. After commenting on how gross and creepy the ingredient list is, she says, "I'm a little uncomfortable with donating it to a foodbank, I'd rather donate MY milk to help other Mamas.

Is it safe to give my cats?"

I replied:

So *are* you donating your breastmilk to a food bank, and in your experience are most mothers who use food banks comfortable accepting donated breastmilk from a stranger? And do they have proper storage for frozen milk, and the resources and knowledge to do home pasteurization? Will places that distribute food to folks who are very poor even deal with breastmilk?

Donating milk to a milk bank is a great idea, but it's probably going to go to a mother who has the resources to keep her baby from going hungry even if she couldn't get milk donations. There's nothing wrong with giving to help that mama and that baby get the really good stuff instead of formula, but it's not equivalent to a food bank situation.

I guess I'm saying: please don't give something to your cats that could be used to keep a poor or homeless baby from having to go to sleep with an empty belly. It's not like a homeless mother living in her car is going to relactate if she finds that the food pantry doesn't have any formula.

Fortunately for my blood pressure, the comments are running 8 to 1 in favor of donation. But that one opposed is a doozy: Honestly, I throw mine in the trash. I figure if that crap wasn't readily available then more women would breastfeed instead of automatically reaching for it. However, PP's have made me feel terribly guilty about trashing it.

I hate the Mommy Wars in all their incarnations, but what drives me furthest up the wall is the idea that we can somehow improve the state of American motherhood by punishing mothers who are poor or desperate. No: by punishing their children.

I understand that privilege, by its very nature, is often invisible to those who possess it. I understand how someone can thoughtlessly say "all mothers should..." or "all children should..." without stopping to consider whether they all have the resources or privilege to do so. But what kind of person still thinks that way even cued with the specific context of a homeless shelter, battered women's shelter, food bank? Who thinks of a mother caught in that situation and thinks that if her kid goes hungry at least she'll finally realize that she made the wrong choice at birth?
rivka: (pseudoscience)
"[Rh incompatibility] wasn't an issue for all of human history until interventions were performed, like episiotomy and early cord cutting or Cesarians. Again, what gives?"

Okay, I have to get this off my chest here, because if I say it in response to the actual post I'm quoting I'll probably be banned: medical model espoused below )
rivka: (Obama)
Apparently we aren't even bothering to use codewords for race anymore:
Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"Working, hard-working Americans, white Americans." As opposed, apparently, to the shiftless welfare queens of color who support Barack Obama. That's as naked a play of the race card as anyone ever pinned on Al Sharpton. Hillary Clinton, supposedly a Democrat, is pinning the last desperate hopes of her campaign on white racists.

This is not her pastor speaking. This is not a guy in her neighborhood who did bad things forty years ago. This is not a random white guy she's tenuously connected to. This is Hillary Clinton herself taking a page out of the John Birch Society's playbook: "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans."

I've never been a Hillary Clinton fan, but at the beginning of this campaign I admired her historic candidacy and was delighted to be able to say that I'd be happy to throw my full support behind whichever Democratic candidate won the nomination. That was before Clinton refused to say, when asked, that Barack Obama was not a Muslim. That was before she justified her ridiculous bread-and-circuses pandering about a gas tax repeal by sneering that "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists," and "We've got to get out of this mind-set where somehow elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans."

"Elite opinion" is a Newt Gingrich phrase. It's part of the frame that the Republicans have successfully used to marginalize Democrats for the past 14 years. It's all one piece with the race-baiting attempts to position "hard-working Americans" and African-Americans on opposite sides: both are strategies that could've come right out of the hard right wing playbook. Hillary Clinton is deliberately making use of these strategies. There is no question - none - that she doesn't know what she's doing. And by doing so, she is reinforcing themes and frames which benefit the hard right wing and hurt the Democratic Party.

Obviously no matter what happens I'm not going to vote for McCain. But if Hillary Clinton somehow manages to come out of this disgusting, ugly mess with the nomination, I won't be donating one penny to her campaign, making one phone call, or handing out one campaign flyer.

I am so. Utterly. Disgusted.

Via Atrios.
rivka: (Baltimore)
Dear cast and crew of The Wire:

It's my understanding that you have created a masterpiece of a television show which displays the gritty, heartbreaking Baltimore drug underworld with breathtaking realism. Congratulations.

However: when you are filming on my block, and you have a 6am call, and you look around yourselves and notice that you are in a residential neighborhood, would you PLEASE KEEP YOUR FUCKING VOICES DOWN?

Thank you.
rivka: (smite)
I think some of my friends probably look forward to my lurid stories about Michael's stepmother. She's so awful that, on some level, she's entertaining; we've gotten quite a bit of conversational mileage out of her parenting advice, her decorating sense, her asparagus recipe. (Oh, my God...)

This time I don't have any fun Betty stories. Because she's moved on to direct attacks on Michael for not loving his dead mother enough.

Yeah. See? No entertainment potential there.

She blindsided him one morning in the kitchen, while he was giving Alex breakfast and I was still asleep.

"How come you didn't name her after your mother?"

Michael explained that he wasn't particularly fond of the name Nancy.

"Well, I think that Nancy Alexandra would have been really pretty. Your Dad was really disappointed - he was hoping you'd name her for your mother."

Later on, while we were all together, Michael was telling a sweet little anecdote about his relationship with his grandfather Crabtree, whom he called 'Big Crab.' (His grandfather called him 'Little Crab,' because Crabtree is Michael's middle name.)

Betty interrupted him. "Nancy? You don't call her Mom?"

We all looked at her in complete incomprehension. She spent the next several minutes insisting that Michael had referred to Big Crab as 'Nancy's father' - thereby referring to the woman who'd raised him, and whose deathbed he had faithfully attended, by her first name. Michael and I were united in our equally firm insistence that Michael hadn't said anything of the sort. Michael's father just looked nonplussed.

I can't think of any motive for this, except to try to drive a wedge between Michael and his father by implying that, because Michael is adopted, he doesn't really consider himself to be part of his father's family. (She also kept pushing Michael to talk about his birthmother.) Because Michael's relationship with his father is so loving and so solid, I guess she thought it would work best to tarnish the memory of his relationship with his mother.

So, yeah. No funny stories this time.
rivka: (family)
Back from a long weekend in Memphis with Michael's father and stepmother.

the good, the bad, and the ugly )
rivka: (smite)
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery or a borrowing of misery, as though we are not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. - John Donne, Meditation XVII
I have tried to say what needs saying half a dozen times, and haven't been able to continue. I don't want to link to the source material, partly out of respect for the person in whose journal it was posted, and partly out of a desire to protect other people from exposure to that kind of callous blindness.


(1) Secondary PTSD is a well-recognized psychiatric phenomenon, and was so well before the onslaught of the Republican war machine.

(2) There is a substantial difference between empathy and credulity. Someone who is quicker to feel others' pain than you are is not necessarily being manipulated into it.

(3) If you conduct a large part of your social life over the Internet, how can you possibly not understand how other people could be strongly affected by an event that wasn't geographically close to them?

(4) This one is directed at a specific person who I don't even know, and who has only a vanishingly small chance of reading my journal. Nevertheless, if I don't say it, the unspoken words are going to be eating me up all night. So: if you haven't been there? Spare us your pseudo-sophisticated superior lefty cynical detachment and SHUT THE FUCK UP.


Dec. 12th, 2005 01:21 pm
rivka: (smite)
a stuffed TELEVISION, for God's sake

No, thank you, I don't actually think a cuddly, animal-shaped toddler TV will "stretch my child's imagination." I'd be interested to know how the copywriter manages to shave after writing a line like that; how does he look himself in the mirror?

Sheesh. I mean, okay, I try not to participate in "death of American culture, film at 11" handwringing. But who the hell would dream up a huggable television for babies?


Nov. 18th, 2005 03:18 pm
rivka: (smite)
Last week, instead of going to story hour, Emily and I took the babies to "Development Days" at Kennedy Krieger, which is Johns Hopkins’ developmental disabilities institute. The ad for the event promised a fun day of games and play for moms and babies "under 24 months," and promised that we would each get individual feedback on our child’s development, from their screeners. Emily and I thought we might learn some new ways of playing with the girls, who – let’s face it – are slightly boring sometimes. And developmental feedback sounded like it might be interesting, although neither one of us has any concerns about delays.

Well, we got there and found that "games and play" meant that waaay too many kids were crammed into a playroom with toys and just let loose. Most of the kids were enough older than Alex and Zoe that we were constantly worrying about the girls getting stepped on or fallen on. There was no structured program, which was our first big disappointment. Then we learned that the whole thing was about language development only. The woman running the event gave a few very basic, elementary comments about when language develops and how to facilitate language learning. We discovered that the purpose of the event was to identify children who are a wee bit late starting to talk, and to include them in a research study.

So they gave out a standardized language development screening questionnaire. Emily’s baby was too young for her to even be handed a copy. They asked me "is your baby making sounds?" and then gave me one, but it was pretty manifestly inappropriate. They wanted to know which phrases my baby seemed to understand, and I was able to check some of those, but most of it was devoted to listing the words a baby might say. Our only developmental feedback, it turned out, was that they were going to score the standardized questionnaires and call us with the results. Emily and I left feeling irritated that they hadn’t specified a lower age limit for the event, and sorry we hadn’t gone to story hour.

They didn’t even call me. I got a grossly inappropriate form letter today which informs me that "you told us your child says 0 words…your child’s scores do fall just outside of the range that is expected for children that are a few months older than your child. Because your child is not yet 18 months, it is quite possible that they are just shy of the "typical" burst in his/her language."

Or maybe she’s well shy of the typical burst in language, given that she’s SEVEN MONTHS OLD.

They have no business sending out a form letter that totally sounds like they think Alex might have a language delay. If she’s outside the age range for the fucking test - and it would completely fail to surprise me to hear that she is - then they should have said so and refused to give her a score. Or they could have provided me with a score based on her receptive language (the words she understands), given that some of those questions I could answer. It looks like they didn’t score that part at all, probably because it wasn’t the topic of their study.

This is completely irresponsible. It violates the ethical standards for the use of psychological testing. I can’t imagine how scary this would be if I didn’t have a pretty firm grip on cognitive development. Jesus Christ.

I have called and left an irritated message. Hopefully this post will get the profanity out of my system before they call me back.
rivka: (her majesty)
(a.k.a., "Why we left the first planning meeting for our church caring circle more than an hour early.")

1. If you are planning an event which you expect working people to attend, "Thursday at 6:45pm for coffee and dessert" does not show much consideration for their likely schedules.

2. If your event is important enough, some working people may plan to attend it first and eat dinner afterward. If so, they will probably be chagrined if you hand them a structured agenda extending to 9pm. Especially if the advance information they were given made it sound like a brief discussion over cookies.
rivka: (smite)
...for the person who just sent me an announcement about a grantwriting workshop for junior faculty and fellows.

In the form of an e-mail attachment.

Of a Powerpoint file.

There was nothing - nothing - in the attachment that couldn't have been conveyed in plain text in an e-mail. There weren't even any photographs or diagrams.

A special place in hell, I'm telling you.
rivka: (her majesty)
[livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and I just watched the final three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I feel curiously unmoved. spoilers, obviously )
rivka: (smite)
I am so furious about having had to write this post that my hands are shaking.
rivka: (Default)
Wow, I really do feel light-years better. Wow. Big changes this week.
pregnancy notes )
rivka: (smite)
Someone from administration was just down here.

They're planning to move two other people in to share my office.

They've been planning this for a month. The move would have to happen in less than a week. This is the first that it's been mentioned to either me or my boss.

They do not feel that it's the Institute's responsibility to provide storage for the several filing cabinets' worth of data that would be misplaced or to figure out where we'll put the people we're about to hire when the grant money comes in.

This. Is. FUCKING. Ridiculous.
rivka: (her majesty)
I have something to say.

Five years ago, I developed a blister on my labia after having condom-protected sex with a new partner. Testing identified it as herpes simplex 1, a form which usually, but not always, presents orally. How I got infected remains a mystery to this day.

I am not dirty. I am not disgusting. I am not a pariah. It does not go without saying that I should absent myself from poly settings for life. Sleeping with me is not a sign that you lack intelligence or self-respect, it is a sign that you are really fucking lucky.

And unless you have never had genital contact with another human being, you'd be a fool to think that it couldn't have happened to you.

That is all.
rivka: (smite)
One of my fellow passengers collapsed on the bus today. I didn't see it happen. I looked up when other passengers started talking about it, and saw her slumped over in an unnatural position, sideways with her head on the seat beside her. She had a big brace on her leg, and held a cane in one limp hand. People in nearby seats spoke to her, then shook her. No response. She was definitely breathing, though.

The driver pulled over and called the paramedics. As soon as it became clear that we weren't going anywhere, a man sitting directly in front of the unconscious woman became impatient.

"She's all right," he called to the driver. "She's all right, sir."

She continued to slump, unmoving.

"She's just fine," he repeated, urging the driver to resume the route.

"Are you a doctor?" I asked, knowing that he wasn't.

"No." He didn't even sound hostile when he answered me - just pleased with himself.

"Then you don't know that she's fine," I said in my most quelling voice.

He looked away. And then he started up again: "She's full of drugs. Druggie bitch." He snatched her cane out of her unresisting hand and grinned. The woman sitting across from him snapped at him to put it back, which he did - unrepentantly. I don't think I was the only one who was grateful when he got off the bus to wait for the next one, shortly before the paramedics arrived.

What the hell makes a person act like that? For the sake of getting the bus moving again, he was prepared to lie about someone who might have been dying. I swear, sometimes I just about lose my faith in humanity.
rivka: (Default)
From the hysterically funny, yet painfully sad blog Chez Miscarriage:
I was on my cell phone, but I lost the signal when I got onto the elevator. That's why I overheard the conversation between the two men who were on the elevator with me.

"My wife hasn't lost her pregnancy weight yet," one of them complained.

"That's just lazy," the other commiserated, "I mean, what's she doing all day?"

My ears began to bleed and a thousand shrieking harpies flew out of my head and violins screamed in a menacing augury of harrowing wrath.

"She's busy fabricating false rape statistics and disseminating lies about employment discrimination," I replied. The two men stared at me. The cell phone was still against my ear. "Are you talking to us?" one of them asked. I shook my head and mouthed "NO," then pointed to the cell phone. They smiled in uneasy relief.

"It's really had an impact on our sex life," the first man whispered, moving his face close to his friend's ear.

"Well," I said into the phone, "That's because you're the most boring lay imaginable."

The two men looked at me. I smiled at them and shrugged helplessly. "SORRY," I mouthed. Then I theatrically turned toward the elevator wall, covering my free ear with my hand.

"She's just gotten so big," the first man murmured.

"What do you think pregnancy is, a play date with the Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven?" I said into the cell phone.

The two men stood there in angry silence.

"Okay," I said into the phone, "This is my floor, I have to go." I threw the phone into my bag and smiled politely at the two men as the elevator doors opened.

Then I quickly turned around before the doors closed and pointed at the man who had been complaining about his wife. "And by the way," I said sweetly, "Those rolls around your waist aren't exactly made of moneybags."

The elevator doors closed on their furious and astonished faces.

Yeah, that's right. Touché, asshat. Although your wife's best friend can't be everywhere, there are hundreds of women willing to step in for her at a moment's notice - all of whom ride elevators, and one of whom has recently had more hormone injections than an entire herd of U.S. cattle.
rivka: (smite)
I'm feeling so surly this evening. I have no idea why. I just feel non-specifically pissed-off and hostile and whiny.

Grr. Argh.

Aren't you glad you don't live with me?


rivka: (Default)

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