Category: I explain the world


Wow, the cobwebs around this place are terrible, aren’t they?

So a lot has happened since my last post- I graduated, passed the bar exam, I’m in job search hell, and oh, right, someone tried to blow up the Boston Marathon and then the whole city and surrounding suburbs went into high alert for a day looking for him.

What has ALSO happened is a bunch of people who don’t live here, who weren’t here, who didn’t live through this past week with us have decided that they get to explain to us what our experience was. That were under martial law, that we’re sheeple who will cower in our homes just because the government told us to, that no one needs a gulag, because we’ll look ourselves up.

Fuck you.

What happened was this: not long after midnight on Friday morning, police in Watertown (a suburb bordering Cambridge, Newton, and Boston) engaged in a running gun battle with what they were pretty sure were the bombing suspects. Grenades and IEDs were thrown. I heard the explosions of those bombs from my house in Medford, about 4 miles away as the crow flies. My roommate and I stayed up until nearly 2 am watching the news. I went to bed, because I had to be at work in the morning and figured that it would all be over by then. She stayed up until nearly 5:30.

When I woke up, I checked my email, which included a note from Inman Oasis (in Inman Square) that they were closed “until the Red line started running again.” I got up, and Twitter said the enitre MBTA system was shut down, and the governor and mayors of Watertown, Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, and Boston had asked everyone to “shelter in place.”

Please note the action verb there. “Asked.” Not “ordered.” Asked. They requested our cooperation so they could do thier jobs, find Suspect #2, and not get anyone else hurt in the process. They asked, and we all said, okay. Yes, it was creepy to see the pictures, but look at it this way: we had two blizzards and a hurricane that shut down Boston much the same way (with less explosions) in the past six months. We survived. the local economy survived.

My particular job was under a “no one in or out” lockdown for most of the day, but that didn’t affect me, since I couldn’t get there anyway. For the people who were stuck there, the institute made sure there was food and information available, and did it’s best to keep everyone as calm as possible. Luckily for me, I got paid for the day, and I know that there are people who were not so lucky.

(For anyone who claims that “children were kept from their education for the day,” that’s a load of crap. It was school vacation week in Boston and a number of surrounding communities. No one was supposed to be in school that day anyway.)

And everyone pulled together to make this bearable. People lvietweeted the press conferences for anyone who couldn’t watch. Boston university delivered food to students stuck in their dorms. A Brookline officers brought milk to a family that was out. They asked, we waited (I admit that my cabin fever and stir crazy was pretty bad by the end, and we weren’t under the Shelter in place request).

Bostonians are a cranky lot. We don’t respond to orders too well. We do, however, respond to reasonable requests as long as we understand why it’s being made and how what we have been asked to do will be useful. As a friend, Siderea, said in her Livejournal:

As a therapist, I’m pretty attuned to how people say things. I couldn’t help but notice something in how authorities addressed the public in all those press conferences over last night and into this morning. The news was wrong: never did the police or the governor or anyone order communities to shelter in place. Always, always, when speaking into microphones, it was expressed as a request. “We request that people stay home. We are asking that businesses not open.”

Sentences we did not hear: “Citizens are ordered to remain in their homes.” “All people are to remain in their homes.” “Martial law has been declared.”

No, instead: “we are asking.”

And so, we did. Massively, as one, with unanimity I have never seen.

It’s like they know us: we haven’t got an obedient bone in our bodies, but we cooperate like champs. Order us and we won’t, ask us and we will.

Nor did they attempt to frighten us into compliance, even while making it clear the situation was dangerous. No “it is unsafe to go out”, no “for your own safety”, no “you may be shot”.

And this remarkable sentence, “If you see people waiting at bus stops or train stations, please tell them the bus or train isn’t coming, and to go home. The MBTA doesn’t want people congregating at stations.”

“The MBTA doesn’t want.” Okay. Wow. What an incredible formulation. Fair enough.

Not the exercise of power, but the enlistment of a people, the rousing of a whole society to a collective good — in the dark and chaos and uncertainy in the small hours before dawn.

And you know what? In the entire operation to get the suspects, not one civilian was injured. NOT ONE. Well, a boat was pretty fucked up, but not one injury. LAPD can’t say that.

We weren’t under martial law. There were no jackbooted thugs. Law enforcement made a request and we all cooperated and in doing so, we caught him.

Boston Strong.

So an acquaintance at my old (now, as of less than an hour ago, closed forever) Borders job has started at Concord School of Law, an online law school in the Kaplan conglomorate.

And we are not good enough friends that I can say “WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU LOOK AT YOUR LIFE LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES.”

Concord Law School is a for-profit school, which makes it shady as fuck just for that. It’s non-ABA accredited, students can only take the California Bar Exam and according to Wikipedia, one has managed to sue his way into being allowed to take the Massachusetts Bar Exam.

The pass rate of the California bar is around 36%.

WHY WOULD YOU WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS SHIT.

I mean, however much the ABA accredation process is full of shit, and I believe it is, I still do NOT understand why you would waste three years and a shitton of money on a non-accredited school. Your job prospects are severely hampered, some states won’t even let you take the bar- okay, the non-accredited schools are a LOT cheaper, they’d kind of have to be.

But this shit- I don’t know what she expects to be able to DO with a “degree” from an online diploma factory. I don’t get it.

I sent a variation on this (slightly shorter, less detailed) to my Senators. I’m not terribly concerned that the defunding of Planned parenthood will pass the Senate, and I’m really not concerned that John Kerry will vote for it. Scott Brown is a wildcard, though. I don’t know what he will do, but then, neither does anyone else. So I wrote.

I moved to Boston eight years ago, straight out of college and with no job, and no real prospects. I wanted to be in Boston because I felt I should be, and I had money to last for a bit. But no job means no health insurance. For almost a year and a half, my only form of health insurance was “Today, I will not get hit by a bus.”

(now, to be fair, at the moment my insurance sucks ass, so I am still doing my best to not be hit by a bus.)

However, a year or so before I moved, I’d had an abnormal pap smear.

To those of you reading who are not women, and don’t suffer this procedure on a yearly basis, allow me to explain a bit. I won’t explain the procedure itself because you are all capable of googling if you really want to know, but it’s designed to screen for early signs of cervical cancer. There are constants in life- one of them is you get this thing done, and a few weeks alter you get a card in the mail (or a letter, or whatever) that everything is fine and you forget about it for a year.

Unless you get a call from your doctor saying that they need to talk about the results. Cue panic. Panic on my part, and panic on the part of my parents. This is not what is supposed to happen. I had to go in for a colposcopy, where they take many cells from the cervix and examine them. That was painful and was painful for a couple of days.

Now, the results of that test were just some random abnormalities, but they wanted me in for a pap smear every THREE MONTHS until I had three normal ones in a row. So I did that for a year and change. Eventually, I hit my hat trick, and tried to forget about it. But I have been pretty religious in making sure I got a pap smear every year.

However, in my year and a half of no insurance, today-I-will-not-get-hit-by-a-bus health plan, the only option was Planned Parenthood. I was lucky that the main Boston clinic was literally down Commonwealth Avenue from me. The sliding scale meant that I could get checked out, and also get birth control, which helped curb my truly off the hook PMS (seriously, I would go from psychopathic rage to psychopathic, I want to listen to My Chemical Romance and dye my hair black depression in about 73 seconds. Hormonal birth control evened all of that out and everyone liked me better).

Without access to pap smears and pelvic exams, women die. It’s that simple. If an uninsured woman gets cervical cancer, the cost to the tax payers for her (probably substandard) care will be a lot higher than funding a place that could have caught it early and made the treatment a lot easier and less intense.

I admit that I’m not touching on the other important things Planned Parenthood does, like birth control and sex education for low income women. This is about what they have done for me, personally.

I am livid that the 240 Representatives (including 10 Democrats, wtf, assholes?) voted to gut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. I am LIVID that the House is wasting time on this shit that does nothing but demonstrate that they hate women so much they are willing for them to DIE (House 358, anyone?) and claim that they protect life.

I am angry that some many people elected think my life and the lives of every other woman in this country, especially the poor ones, is less important than their political posturing. Shame on you.

I got briefly embroiled in an internet discussion yesterday about the attorney who is representing Jared Lee Loughner (we know he’s really bad because they use all three names). On a discussion board, someone mentioned that Loughner’s attorney, Judy Clarke, had previously represented the Unabomber and Susan Smith

Someone else responded with “THIS BITCH.” Happily, even though this is the internet, most people responded with “….” And the commenter backpedaled a little (not a lot) and was like “Well, I understand that everyone gets an attorney, but I wonder what kind of person would WANT to defend those horrible people.”

I said,

Speaking as someone in law school looking to do precisely that….

First, everyone gets an attorney. And high profile cases deserve good attorneys to make sure everything is followed to the letter to avoid the knee jerk “hang ’em.” (How on EARTH they’d pick an impartial jury…. holy shit that’s just not happening.) By protecting the rights of the most reviled, that means that everyone else’s rights are safer.

Second, high profile defense attorneys get the high profile cases- I would not want to saddle some kid fresh out of law school with this case- it’d be a nightmare for everyone involved, especially the shiny new attorney.

Third, and less altruistically, high profile cases like this tend to have private attorneys working pro bono- it’s GREAT exposure, and clients with money will be happy to fork out huge amounts of money for the privilege of being defended by the Unabomber Attorney.

Now, surprisingly enough for The Internet, the original commenter had honestly not thought it through. And admitted those were all things they’d never thought of, and thanked me for responding.

In my Criminal Advocacy class yesterday, we were practicing opening statements (first class, hit the ground running flat out. Life after law school is going to be SO BORING). And most people introduced themselves and their client (or the State of Nita) right off.

The professor, who is AWESOME (and told me to be very very careful when deploying the Sarcastic Eyebrow), said that you do need to do that, but you don’t have to do it straight off. And sometimes, because not all criminal defendants are good clients, and the jury can TELL, associating yourself with a really bad defendant can be hard or even not great strategy. So instead, you say that you’re there to represent The Constitution.

That’s what it is, and what got me into law school in the first place was working for the unit in Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services that defended people who were being classified by the Sex Offender Registry and being committed as Sexually Dangerous Persons. It’s easy to write off sex offenders. God knows most people do.

But, beyond the studies of what may help prevent recidivism, and what actually makes people safer from sex offenders, there’s the idea that you have to make SORB prove itself. In 2006, there was someone running for… Middlesex County Sheriff, I think, who was saying that he wanted to expand the Sex Offender Registry to include everyone convicted of a drug offense.

Do you see where that starts getting even scarier? It’s a horrible idea. (He lost, btw). By making SORB at least pretend to go through the motions (and sometimes it really is like pretending) (sorry), they can’t just go trampling on the rights of everyone else. If sex offenders still have rights, if Jared Lee Loughner still has rights, that means you do, too.

First, full disclosure. I am geek. However, I am not very good at it. My friend @Liamstliam calls me “the least geeky geek he knows.” I don’t go to cons. I don’t like them. (I did go to WorldCon when it was in Boston, and while it was fun, it was not the $200 worth of fun the membership cost.) I don’t LARP (but do not preclude the possibility in the future, I’m a little busy right now. Forexample, right now I am avoiding my admin law reading), I don’t game, I don’t play video games (expensive, y’all), I don’t read that much hard scifi (prefer fantasy), I shower regularly, and I do my best to follow social graces (except when I don’t care).

What I do is historical re-enactment (I’m taking Law of the Ancient World because I love Roman history and it’ll translate into classes in the SCA realm), I read a LOT, I review romance novels, I like watching genre TV and movies, I am conversant in Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Buckaroo Bonzai, I’m working on my second advanced degree, and I listen to Made of Fail, a geektastic podcast.

(If you’re wondering what the fuck-all this has to do with Little Red Riding Hood, hold your horses, we will get there.)

Two episodes ago on Made of Fail, the subject was “building the greater geek community.” Find other geeks, and you will see that you are not alone in loving Farscape, or being able to quote Buffy from start to finish. You can find people with similar interests, and some of them will become friends, and Wil Wheaton will lead us all into a era of hope and prosperity (I may have made that last bit up).

Last episode, some dingbat wrote in saying (and this is so paraphrased), “First, you can’t make a greater geek community because not everyone will like eachother and THAT IS BAD. So don’t try. Also, geek guys can’t even behaving themselves around eachother, and if you add women in to the mix, it will explode in MOAR ANARCHY, and that’s even worse and dangerous for the women. So Geek guys and geek girls should keep totally separate.”

First Dayna ripped him a new one- just because the ideal of a great geek community is just that, an ideal, doesn’t mean we should TRY to make friends and find other people who share our interests (and the fact that there are people who believe that if we can’t all get along then we shouldn’t ever try is another issue- see The Five Geek Social Falicies for more on THAT) . And then she laid into him on the “for the safety of the womens” argument, which is, as you know, crap.

It is also really fucking old.

Today on Twitter, Jake Adelstein (he wrote Tokyo Vice about his experiences working as a reporter in Japan, and the Japanese organized crime families. It’s REALLY good, and I highly recommend it) mused about the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and that it makes no damn sense. Which it kind of doesn’t. Because you have this kid, sipping through the woods, and this wolf shows up and is like “Where you are going?” and she tells him she’s going to Grandmother’s house, and he hops over to Grandmother’s house to lie in wait for the kid, rather than just eating the kid right then and there.

I pointed out that the original(ish) version was a metaphor for rape and forced seduction- the well-bred girl is lured into a house with a strange and evil man-thing, convinced to take off her clothes and throw them into the fire, and get into bed, when she is raped and then eaten. In Perrault’s version, the wolf wins. No one comes to save her. In some of the early oral traditions, she saves herself, if there’s any . It isn’t until the Brothers Grimm that the archetypical male savior comes along and saves both girl and grandmother.

(If, by any chance, anyone doing a google search on Little Red Riding Hood for the purposes of a research paper comes across this post, for fuck’s sake do your own research. This is cribbed heavily from Wikipedia and very much paraphrased, and very much a perfunctory blurb.)

Anyway, in his author notes, Perrault says the moral of Little Red Riding Hood is this:

From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition — neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!

Or: Young ladies shouldn’t go where there might be danger, because they cannot recognize danger. Not all men (wolves) are dangerous, but the ones that are a very bad.

Or: Geek girl should not go into where there are stupid, uncouth geek guys because the geek guys just can’t control themselves.

(See? Told you there was a point.)

So instead of a) teaching girls that danger exists and b) how to recognize it, and c) how to deal with it, we should instead not teach them anything, but keep them locked up and away from danger, is that it? Because if we teach them about the wider world, then they might (GASP) do things that are not on the list of “Approved Things For Young Ladies To Do” and they might Go Out and Have Fun and maybe even (HORRORS) Embrace Their Sexuality and then chaos reigns, cats and dogs sleeping together, rivers flowing backwards…

Or, to bring it back to the idiot who either is so concerned for the safety of women geeks that he thinks they should be segregated, geek men are so unsocialized that they can’t help but make things unsafe for women. Also crap. I don’t believe that’s true, that men have no control over their actions. Have there been cases when geekdom has been unsafe for women? Oh yes. But I don’t blame that on the culture of geekdom, I blame that on the rape culture in which we all exist, and I blame that on the individual men involved.

But I think that Moron’s view of “we must be separate for the safety of the women” isn’t based on anyone’s actual safety. I suspect he just hates women and doesn’t want us in his geekdom.

And that’s just too damn bad for him.

As you may have guessed from my last post, I am deeply upset about the seeming epidemic of kids who have committed suicide due to homophobic bullying. And like many people within the blogosphere, I have also been the victim of bullying, and I know how bad it was for me (horrific, actually) and I can only imagine how it was for these kids.

I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I have since 2003. Since 2003, I have been listing to KISS 108 as my morning wake up radio station. I’m a very shallow girl in some ways, especially musically. I love canned pop. There’s plenty of it that makes me uncomfortable (anything that’s really heavy on the misogyny, for one thing), but mostly, I love it, so Top 40 is good for me.

(also I am a slow-waker, and tend to incorporate what I’m listening to in my early morning “I don’t wanna wake up” dreams. And if I listened to NPR like a goddamn adult, well. I can only imagine what those dreams would be like. Ugh. No, thank you.)

On KISS 108, the morning show is Matty in the Morning. They are much like my beloved Dave Ryan Morning Show in Minneapolis, but not as awesome. I’ll get into why in a second, but not long after I moved to Boston, I was feeling homesick and sent a somewhat pathetic email to Dave Ryan saying I missed his show. He sent one back, and some years later I was at the Minnesota State Fair (MINIDONUTS OMG), and he was at the KDWB booth, I introduced myself and he remembered my email and gave me a hug. It was nice.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to Matty in the Morning for seven years now. The humor has always been dancing on the edge of offensive, with some liberal fart jokes mixed in. (I love me some fart jokes. I admit it.) They also mock one of the co-hosts for “acting gay,” which makes me uncomfortable, and for being a famewhore, which does not make me uncomfortable. There’s always been a sense of the crowd being the cool kids in high school who never really got over themselves.

But over the past year, there’s been a drift from “offensive” to “hateful.” The best example I can give you is they have a sound cue of Susan Boyle beginning to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” with the beeping sound of a large truck backing up. And that’s…. just so wrong on so many levels. What that says to me is “How dare this woman who is not conventionally attractive and is not politely thin come out in public and be fat and ugly at us! She should stay home with her cats where she belongs.” The cracks about Billy’s possible orientation have gotten coarser, the fat jokes have become more thick on the ground, and it’s now just…. hateful.

Someone else mentioned on Livejournal how awful they were getting and I said, okay, I’ll put my money where my mouth is. So I emailed them. I said:

I’ve been listening to your morning show since I moved to Boston in 2003. I like you guys, I really do. But I have to say that I’m increasingly uneasy with the direction your jokes and humor have been taking the past year or so. You’ve always danced on the edge of kind of offensive, but not hateful. The cracks about Billy’s sexual orientation, and Gay Jim have always made me uneasy, but I figure that this is part of the persona, and Billy has consented to it. His role is the Butt Monkey, and he’s not actually insulted. I assume that what you play on the air is a role, and you aren’t like this In Real Life.

But the cracks, especially about fat women, have crossed the line to hateful. The most recent example is using the “large truck backing up beeps” over Susan Boyle singing is very clearly fatphobic, misogynistic, and hateful. The message you send with that sound cue is “how dare this woman who is not conventionally attractive and thin be out in the world, in public, being fat at us?”

I’m sure there’s a part of you that will assume that I’m fat, and that’s why I’m offended (or if I’m not, why do I care if you make fun of fat women?). The answer is that it doesn’t matter if I am or not. I’m a person who doesn’t find this funny, and actually finds this to be incredibly damaging. With all the recent suicides of kids due to bullying, I think it’s irresponsible to encourage making fun of people for their gender, weight, sexual orientation or band geekery on the air.

I don’t actually expect you to change what you’re doing, and I don’t know if I’m going to keep listening (but I’m one person- why would you care about the listnership of one person?) but I would be irresponsible myself if I didn’t say something.

They had one of the producers respond that “they don’t mean to offend anyone (I know that’s a frustrating answer).”

Which, yeah it is. Because intent isn’t magic, and “I didn’t mean to offend you” doesn’t change the fact that people are offended. But that’s not really my point.

My point is that public figures have a lot of influence, and deciding what to mock has an effect on what other people mock, and how they do it. I know that Matty have four daughters, and it’s clear to me from how he talks about them that he loves them a lot. And I’m loathe to drag the kids into it, because dragging the children of public figures into a debate is disingenuous (ask Jessica Valenti about it sometime). But by extension their dad is encouraging the bullying of other people by example.

I think we’ve seen, in a very public way, what happens when kids get bullied relentlessly, and the bullies are supported by churches, politicians, The Boy Scouts of America, the schools, the bullies’ parents, the victim’s parents, and a hundred thousand things ranging from “that’s so gay” to “you’re going to rot in hell.” They are already IN HELL.

In my case, my bullies were popular football players, adored by the school, supported by the teachers. I still had friends, but they didn’t really stand up for me because they knew, in the sociopathic way teenagers know, that would draw fire to them. Sure, they supported me in private, but not in public. I can’t, now, at 13 years removed, blame them. And I didn’t really blame them then. What I did blame, and still do blame, is the school.

Because the school knew. They knew everything. The main point of contact between me and my bullies was a Japanese class. The teacher was a native-born Japanese woman, and from a culture that told women to silently endure, and she couldn’t understand why I found their repeated taunts, threats and mockery so horrible. So she didn’t do anything. My parents complained to the school. The school did nothing. You see, my high school was an International Baccalaureate School. I was not a candidate for an IB diploma. Three out of the four bullies? Were. And the ringleader was on the football team and one of the bright and shining stars of the school. I was not as valuable to the school as the bullies, so I was acceptable collateral damage.

Until Junior year, when I finally snapped. I had enjoyed learning Japanese, but now even doing the homework was anxiety provoking. I tried one last time to explain to Sensei French (yeah, I know. Ironic.) how horrible this was for me and could she please do something? She instead focused on my statement that I was concerned she didn’t try to fix the problem because she didn’t like me. Obviously, she said, the problem wasn’t the boys, obviously the problem was that I needed therapy (holy shit, I had forgotten about that part until just now).

So I quit. I walked out of that classroom and didn’t look at a Japanese thing again until about ten years later.

And that, dear friends, THAT is when the shit FINALLY hit the fan.

My parents were livid. The school tried to mollify me. They were terrified we’d sue. (We didn’t- I found out some years later that my parents thought I didn’t want to sue, and I thought they didn’t.) They let me do whatever the fuck I wanted for the next year and a half. I started taking Post Secondary classes at the University of Minnesota. Too many credits? No problem, They’d smooth over the paperwork. I got shuffled into a history class with the Lead Bully? (And god bless Ms. Adelsman, the history teacher, for letting me know about it in time to do something about it. Some adults had my back.) I stamped my foot and said switch me out or I’ll never go to class, not ever. Suddenly, I got moved to a different class.

The bullies were told to write me letters of apology. Never got one. (Did find out that the Lead Bully did not get an IB diploma, and that he got fat after high school, which is gratifying in its way. I hope he’s miserable and suffers from erectile dysfunction, too.)

It took about ten years before I could watch a Japanese movie without flinching. My self-confidence is still shaky sometimes. I’m 31 years old, nearly 32, and I look at some of my classmates and I see guys that remind me of the Lead Bully (I could name names at this point. It’s so tempting.) and I want nothing to do with them.

They say that living well is the best revenge, and I love my life. But I see the scars and I wonder who I would have been without that. Would I have been able to make a go of a career in theater? Would I have more success in relationships? Would be as empathetic as I am now? Would I be looking at a career in helping the underdogs that society doesn’t give a shit about? I don’t know who that girl would be, and I mourn her, sometimes.

The difference between me and the Billy Lucas’ of the world is that the entire school wasn’t against me. Not even most of them. The majority didn’t care, and there were enough niche groups that I could hide. The bulk of the problems stopped after I dropped Japanese. Partially because they were told to leave me alone, and partially because they won (I held out as long as I could, and beyond, because I didn’t want them to win and to drive me away from something I loved. It was just when I stopped loving it and actively hated it that I quit. They made me hate it).

Once I got away, I went back to being a white, cisgendered straight female, and while there is plenty of hate directed my way for having the audacity to be female, not thin, and mouthy, it’s nothing like the hate directed at gay youth. Especially those gay youth who don’t have a safe place anywhere in their lives. Not in their homes, not on tv, not in their churches, not in their towns (and not on the radio, Matty). I can understand despair. I can’t imagine the awfulness of finding hate every which way you turn and seeing no way out.

So, some resources:

The Trevor Project, aimed at promoting acceptance of GLBTQ youth and preventing suicide.

The It Gets Better Project. I know there’s been some criticism that it doesn’t always get better, but the situational reality for a lot of these kids is knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will have the opportunity to get out of this hell and make your own choices is huge. There’s a world out there, it’s just waiting for you.

The make it Better Porject which has the goal of making things better now.

This could be an epically long post, but I’m going to keep to a few bullet points:

People who get called on in class, and say “Well, I was gonna say that…” or “I was going to ask…” or “I have a question….” DROP THAT SHIT FROM YOUR VOCABULARY RIGHT NOW.

That was mean.

I know that’s it’s very similar to vocalized hesitation- letting your brain catch up with your mouth. But seriously, when three out of four people who get called on say something to that effect, it is really annoying. Just stop saying that you’re going to say something, and say it. What I do is take a half second to really gather my thoughts before I let the randomized crap fall out, which means sometimes I get people looking at me like I’m stupid. But if I didn’t, can you imagine the trainwrecks that I would end up saying? I can. It would be awful.

I am also extremely aggravated by people who get on the bus, and even though there’s a bunch of seats, or at least room in aisle to stand, they stand up next to the driver and block the space, so anyone getting on or off has to push past them. It’s even worse when there’s two people and they both don’t move with their thumbs up their butts or something. It’s rude, and it pisses everyone off. I don’t know why the drivers don’t all make them move, but they don’t.

Don’t be That Guy, people. The MBTA is bad enough, don’t make it even more miserable.

I’m also really annoyed that I have a very limited number of fall-worthy pants I can wearing with my knee brace at the moment. Skirts are out of the question, because the Chub Rub from the brace would be bloody painful. I mean that in the most literal sense. Also a month of PT has not made my leg look that much more human- it’s still all withered.

(However, to end this post on a good note, PT is going really well, if not fast enough for me. I’m completely off my crutches and only using ibuprofin as pain management. This does not make Admin law any easier to take.)

This morning was an advocacy workshop to prep for the mock trial team tryouts. I’m really glad I went (and wasn’t afraid to implode all over the place- I had to pick the hardest fact pattern to come up with an opening on the fly) and the tryouts themselves are in a couple of weeks. 😀

However, that is not what this post is about.

I, and few other people I know, will be going to Washington DC on October 30th to attend The Rally to Restore Sanity. It’ll be a blast.

For my final paper I’m writing (still….) for my study abroad program in counter terrorism this summer, one of the things we are asked to explore is what would be different about the US approach to terror if we looked at it from the same crime based standard the UK uses.

The UK does not find anything new about terror- they’ve been dealing with it for hundreds of years (hey Guy Fawkes, hey!). And they (for the most part) deal with terrorism under their criminal justice system.

We, of course, do not. And there are a lot of factors that go in to this, but mostly, I just want to talk about one: Fear of the Enemy Other.

When it became clear that it was Islamic Terrorists that committed 9/11, and Bush declared the War on Terror, people reacted out of, well, terror. And they focused on the enemy they could see- which was not “terrorist.” They focused on “Islamic.” And it’s insane, it really is.

Venn diagrams are cool.  Like fezes.

One of the books we had to read this summer was The British War on Terror by Steve Hewitt. In it, he discusses the history of British counter terrorism, and what he thinks needs to be done to lessen the instants of terrorists attacks. And it’s not sweeping legislation, it’s not draconian measures to restrict freedoms- it’s “winning hearts and minds.” (He uses that phrase a lot)

The four suicide bombers in the 7/7/05 bombings in London were all UK citizens. It really shocked a lot of people that UK citizens would do this to their own countrypeople, but there’s an increasing generation of native-born-but-descended-from-recent-immigrants who aren’t citizens of their parent’s native country, but don’t feel like they are a part of the country they were born in.

I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but things like “Drunk man walks in mosque during prayer and urinates on prayer rugs” and “Teens allegedly harrass mosque members” and “Pakistan delegation leaves after being subject to extra security because another passenger was made uncomfortable” can’t possibly make people who are Muslim, or Middle Eastern, or might look like they are feel like they are a part of this country.

So this broohaha over Park 51 is more of the same- ignorant, racist people who, partially because of the “WE ARE AT WAR” mentality need to hate the other, because dealing with a faceless enemy that you can’t see coming is scarier. We’re not going to “win hearts and minds” if we act like this. So seriously, sit the fuck down and shut the hell up.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering where the money came from….? Jon Stewart explains it all here. I tried to embed the clip, but it wasn’t working.)

Which is not say there hasn’t been some glimmers of sanity. Huma (who gallantly takes on the role of educating the masses that want to be educated on Islam, including the finer points of how to say “asshole” in Urdu) (she’s awesome) posted this article: Hate crime at Mosque angers California town. There’s this Rabbi, who raised over $1000, mostly from internet strangers, to help pay for the cleaning of the urinated on prayer rugs. There have been people that have been standing up and saying “OH MY GOD, WOULD YOU ASSHOLES JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP.”

But the idiots are louder. And it’s not, as I’ve seen mentioned in some quarters, cryptoracism. It’s actual racism. And I really think that the US mentality towards the War on Terror is partly to blame- wars need actual enemies, not ideas as enemy. If there’s anything we learned from Inception (other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt in zero-G is the best thing ever) and V for Vendetta it’s that ideas are bulletproof and can’t be killed. This war is unwinnable and has caused much more damage than anyone expected- the kick in the gut is that they should have expected it.

I saw a tweet this morning:

“Everyone entering Lawschool should ask hmslf this: R mom&dad paying tuition? If not, if ur taking out loans, Get Out Now”

And now I need to talk about it. Because I say things.

First off, full disclosure: Mom and dad are not paying my tuition. Between undergrad, grad school, and law school, by the end I’m looking at about $200K in loans. So… I kind of feel the need to defend my decisions. Also I don’t think they are totally stupid.

(Also I should be working on a paper right now, but I would rather talk about meritocracies. Obviously.)

Basing the idea that one should do things that are expensive and related to “doing what you want” with your life- rising in the ranks of society, as it were, only if someone else is paying for it is a step in ensuring that the aristocracy- the people with the money- are the only ones who get to do a thing.

Yeah, that was disjointed. So lets start with some assumptions.

1: Law school and professional and post-graduate education is expensive.
2: becoming a lawyer or a doctor or an MBA (well… not so much MBAs- everyone has one it seems like :P) is a step up in society.
3: Becoming a lawyer specifically, opens some doors to the upper “ranks” of society and gives people the opportunity to do things like work in government, which leads to those people making decisions that affect everyone else.

Now, if we limit that kind of thing to the people who have family money- people who can afford to drop the $160-300K for three extra years of school for their kid- that really limits who has the chance of getting to that level. As it is, the people who tend to get up to that level already come from money and privilege. So limiting it even more because you’re afraid of a little debt* seems counterproductive.

And the other reality is, along with the Healthcare Reform bill that passed earlier this year, there was also Student Loan Reform wrapped up in that, too. ALL OF YOU who have federal student loans should look at this page: Income based repayment. Consolodate your federal loans (and stay the hell away from private ones, if at ALL possible- with Grad Plus loans, you shouldn’t need them) and once you enter repayment, your minimum payment is based on your income and the size of your family, not how much your loan is. In addition, there is Public Service Loan Forgiveness– if you work in public service for ten years and make 120 loan payments while working in public service (and what counts as public service is available at the link) the unpaid balance of your loans is forgiven. The idea is that with public service salaries being pathetically low (and they are), it’s hard to get the smart people who could get jobs in big law, or who would go into public service but just couldn’t afford it, and give them an incentive. And for those who didn’t want to do public service, at least some loan payments are better than people defaulting all the time.

(Unlike this git I saw in a livejournal post who decided that he couldn’t afford to pay back his loans, and buy a house and save for retirement so he just…. stopped paying his loans. And it didn’t seem to occur to him that not paying his student loans would make it difficult to buy a house. Also he’s a douchebag, since his $70K that he’s trying to ignore out of existence is sitting there, growing, and making it more expensive for the rest of us. Asshole.)

So it IS expensive, but it’s not impossible. We are the most educated generation ever, and I freely admit that one of my lesser reasons for law school was that it seemed like a good place to hide from the recession for three years. That said, tuition is fucking insane** and it really needs to get under control. But refusing to do something you want to do, I mean, really want to do, just because mom and dad can’t get it for you, that’s stupid.

Now, if you aren’t sure you want to go to law school, don’t waste your money or your time, please. But that is a whole other thing. I didn’t decide that I wanted to go to law school until my desire to be an attorney was greater than my desire to NOT go to law school. And I don’t regret the decision at all. (I’m also really glad I didn’t do this when I was 22- I never would have cut it in my crazy-ass early 20s. That’s my other bit of advice- don’t go to law school until you have your shit together, please. It’s not a place to get your shit together, it is really not.

*Please see $200K up above. I’m no stranger to debt. And I go to the cheap Boston law school.

** Seriously, Mama Red is gonna yell at me for swearing SO MUCH. She can blame Papa Red for it, though- he was the one who taught me to swear fluently in the first place. 😛