#Polyglot Report and Opinions Wanted, Please

#Polyglot Report and Opinions Wanted, Please:

—I learned enough #Latin to translate and read it (but only for about 1 year about 53 years ago…) and have some knowledge of transliterated #Greek and Latin words, names and roots of English.
—I used to be fluent in #Spanish and still know a lot;
—I used to be able to converse in #Italian and transliterated #Yiddish and still know some of each;
—I know some #French and #German;
—I was raised reading and reciting transliterated #Hebrew;
—I recently learned to read and speak/understand actual #Sanskrit and actual and transliterated #Tibetan (I used to be able to read and write in Tibetan, but not translate well and haven’t kept it up);
—I am excellent in #English (American) and have some facility with British, Australian and other forms of English as well.

Score: 10 languages experienced, some in depth

polyglot image

What should be next?
Improve a foreign language I already “have,” or learn a new one during this #quarantine?

Why?

Comment/suggest below, please (at http://www.sallyember.com/blog or on Facebook, with your own polyglot report!

USA #Primary and #Election #Reform: My Ideas

USA #Primary and #Election #Reform: My Ideas
election-reform-wordle
The USA “primary season” is ridiculous, if only a few million people get to decide, and so much money and so much time is wasted “up front.”
This is the 4th election in a row that “my” state’s primary ended up with almost no candidates left to vote for (and “mine” was eliminated). WTF?
Please put your thoughtful, respectfully worded ideas in the COMMENTS.
Primary season reforms :
——No one can “buy” their way into a debate or onto a ballot; donor types and total money raised are not relevant nor counted towards eligibility for debate participation or ballot inclusion
—We need to have ALL the primaries held within a few weeks of each other, perhaps all in March or April
—NO ONE IS ALLOWED to drop out of any race, once on a ballot, except for legal (criminal indictment) or health reasons, until all votes from all primaries have been counted
—NO MORE “caucuses,” either, since that system is based on a racist bunch of BS that excludes most voters in those states, anyway
—No candidate is allowed to outspend the lowest-spending candidate in any given primary, with all money accounted for and transparently received (from WHOM) and spent, tallied daily
—The entire “primary season” should be fewer than 6 months, from start to convention, allowing 4 months for campaigning, one month for primaries, and one month between final primaries and convention
—ALL legitimate party candidates are eligible to be selected during that party’s the convention
—No promises can be made to any candidate prior to the final election as to getting picked for Cabinet, appointed, judiciary, or other positions until after the election, and certainly not as a trade for dropping out of an election’s primary or ballot.
Major election reform:
—No more “super” delegates (only Democrats have this BS, anyway)
—No more electoral college: one vote counts as one vote
—ALL polling places are to be kept open/re-opened for ALL elections
—Polling places are required to exist and be open for 3 days before and on election day, for every election, in EVERY USA state and territory and its counties/parishes, with more than one place per region in those with difficult-to-traverse areas and/or populations that require it
—Voters should not have to wait in lines should take voters longer than one hour to vote
—No more voting machines. Period. All paper ballots, everywhere, always
— All legitimate state ID is accepted for voting, if ID is even required
—I’m open to NOT having ID required, since that disenfranchises some voters, and since “voter fraud” is a non-existent “problem”
—No registered voters are EVER to be “purged,” removed or eliminated from eligibility prior to ANY election, all such purged are to be immediately restored, since the “reasons” given for any purging are always bogus, anyway
—No VISIBLE electioneering allowed, no matter how many feet away, at any polling place: no signage, no banners, no petitions, no people asking questions of voters prior to or after voting, no one standing around wearing candidates’ or issues’ regalia, no confrontations of voters, no pressure of any kind to vote any particular way, ever, anywhere
—No “exit polling,” and, therefore, no influencing future voters by first voters by the media
—No public or online speculation by the media as to who or what lost/won until ALL voters have voted in every USA region
—No announcing “winners” or “losers” and no “concession speeches” or conceding until ALL votes have been counted, including absentee ballots, which takes days or weeks after each election
—No one who is running can manage that election (e.g., Georgia’s fiasco)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
To get involved, to donate, and/or FMI:
Stacey Abrams (who never conceded…), is operating Fair Fight, which focuses on improving voter access and restoring voting rights: https://staceyabrams.com/vision/voting-rights-public-integrity/
The Brennan Center for Justice provides Voting Reform efforts and info: https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/voting-reform
Fair Vote proposes many reforms, including Ranked Choice, offers the Wasted Votes Tracker, and much more: https://www.fairvote.org/
Watch Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook: https://www.riggedthefilm.com/
Learn more about Approval Voting (Ranked Choice, elsewhere); https://www.electionscience.org/approval-voting-101/?gclid
And, why have only two political parties that are viable in such a large country, anyway? https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/19/us-democracy-two-party-system-replace-multiparty-republican-democrat/

Ideas from readers:

Heidi Henkel suggests:

—Public factual databases about candidates in easy to find places ex voting record if they are a congressperson, their own policy statements

—Polling locations can be moved with 6 months notice and the notice given very publicly in many forms.

—Adequate numbers of polling locations and ballots per population, and reachable by public transportation where public transportation exists.

—Election day is a national holiday and people who work on national holidays are given some time off in the 3 days before or the day of, to vote.

—Automatic voter registration upon other civic participation such as getting a driver’s license, registering a car, signing a lease, or paying taxes. Day of election voter registration.

—Voters who are confirmed by a medical professional to have died, can be removed from the voter rolls within one month of their death or their published obituary. (Individual voters who are dead may be removed around their time of death. No purges needed.)

When a voter registers to vote in a new place because they have moved, the new place can contact their previous city or town so they can be removed from the voter list.

—Voting machines can be used where they help people with disabilities to vote. The voting machine shall up produce a paper ballot that can be counted with the other paper ballots. Paper ballots are counted by optical scanning and are kept for possible hand counting. All election electronics are kept off of the internet at all times every day of the year.

— Ranked choice voting in primaries. No announcement of how candidates did in any primary until all primaries have been held. Exit polling is allowed if done by UN election monitors and kept confidential until all votes are counted. If someone is not able to get to the polling place and hasn’t done an early voting or absentee ballot ahead of time, two justices of the peace will bring them a ballot at their home or wherever they are so they can vote (if they’re sick or their car breaks down or whatever). This last one is practiced in Vermont.

Ranked choice voting: for every candidate who gets less than 10% of the vote, the second choice candidate on the ballot will be used; then if no candidate has a majority, find the one who has the fewest votes and use the second choice candidates on those ballots. Etc until there’s a winner.

School drops archbishop’s name amid sex abuse report fallout — INKLING LEAGUE

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A Roman Catholic high school will shed the name of Washington’s archbishop, who was cited in a sweeping grand jury report as having allowed priests accused of sexually abusing children to be reassigned or reinstated while he was Pittsburgh’s bishop. The Diocese of Pittsburgh said Wednesday that Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl made […]

via School drops archbishop’s name amid sex abuse report fallout — INKLING LEAGUE

“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” The great white shark that is the corruption that riddles and has riddled the Catholic Church, from top to bottom, won’t all be able to be hunted down and killed, nor can those who are “trying to do good” be confined to a few renamings of schools.

The Catholic Church’s institutional leaders have to do way more than that to manage the damage they’ve inflicted on hundreds of thousands over centuries. Pulling down statues of Confederate “heroes” in the USA will pale in comparison to the backlash that is already being felt all around the world.

Good luck with all that.

The Lies Embedded in MAGA (“Make America Great Again”): America Was Never Great for Everyone

The Lies Embedded in MAGA (“Make America Great Again”): America Was Never Great for Everyone


image from https://andelino.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/america-was-never-great/

Please, could anyone tell me: when was America (the United States of America) “great,” and for whom?

This country’s roots are in repeated and ongoing genocidal elimination, unfair and homicidal immigration policies, stealing children from parents who are powerless to prevent these thefts, and forced involuntary incarceration of those in many groups:
—the indigenous peoples who already occupied these territories
—the Africans stolen from their home countries, imported like material goods, to be slaves and servants
—the poor and homeless people and orphans
—the disabled people, especially those with mental disabilities
—the Japanese who lived in the USA during World War II.


image from http://Historyplex.com

This country has a long and checkered history of unfairly treating women, those who do not own property (even males), anyone without sufficient financial and other resources via a prejudicial criminal justice system.


image from http://Vox.com

People from all backgrounds suffer (but not equally) in the USA by:

  • being excluded from voting by various means;
  • not being paid a “living wage”;
  • not having fair and equal opportunities for education;
  • not having sufficient shelter;
  • not having paid work available;
  • not having access to nutritious, sufficient food;
  • not being able to pursue their passions and dreams due to insufficient resources, advantages, connections and other unequally distributed privileges;
  • having more people, especially children, living in poverty than in many third-world nations;


    image from http://FollowTheMoney.com

  • not having access to adequate or any health care (preventive or treatment-focused);
  • failing to prevent or treat addictions of all types, with rising numbers of opioid addicts;
  • not being treated fairly within our policing and justice system, to the point of premature death and lengthy incarcerations for minor infractions, and having far too many wrongful convictions;
  • not having access to affordable housing;
  • being forced to drink, wash with and use polluted water and breathe polluted air;
  • becoming ill and dying—with little or no recourse or legal protection, once it is known to be needed—from industrial and military pollution of land, water and air;


    image from https://environmentalstudiesblog.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-racism/

  • having pensions, life savings, much or all personal wealth put at risk or eliminated by the still-unpunished and insufficiently regulated financial entities;
  • being at risk because of the USA’s very high rates of infant and maternal mortality;
  • being underserved veterans, with very high rates of suicide;
  • not having access to abortions;
  • being lied to about the “need” for USA’s involvement and not keeping promises made for those who enlist, and sometimes conscripted individuals into almost constant wars, causing many to lose loved ones, their own lives, their limbs, to incur brain damage and psychological trauma, for no apparent purpose except to enrich those who profit from military actions;
  • being lied to, misled, mistreated, abused, exploited, harassed and/or disrespected by almost every major and minor politician, business owner/leader, employer/manager;
  • being targeted unduly by those with authority and/or power in all types of businesses, institutions and police forces/sheriff’s departments


“If we lie to the government, it’s a felony. If the government lies to us, it’s politics.” —Bill Murray

So, please: at what point in the history or current configuration of this country was it “great” for EVERYONE?

“Wild, Wild Country,” a Documentary about Spiritual Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and His Followers: My Opinions, Personal Experiences and Reactions

Wild, Wild Country, a Documentary about Spiritual Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and His Followers: My Opinions, Personal Experiences and Reactions

There are many similarities between “traditional” or “organized” religions around the world and all their sects and cults. The valuation of these distinctions depends entirely on the describer’s perspective, the point in history they existed, who is doing the defining, what the underlying politics and economics are for such definitions, what fears already lie in wait, and what the circumstances surrounding the group’s existence were/are.


image from https://triangulations.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/cults-vs-religions/

UPDATED RESOURCE from 8/1/18: UPDATED RESOURCE from 8/1/18: “Why are Cults so Difficult to Oppose?” https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2018/08/01/why-are-cults-so-difficult-to-oppose/ is a great, informative blog post/article about definitions of the continuum that includes cults and other organizational dysfunctions. Worth reading!

Watch Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell to see the cult of Jesus in effect, with songs and dances. Study the modern-day equivalents, such as the disasters that occurred when the USA government went against Waco‘s (around David Koresh) or Ruby Ridge‘s cults, or the suicide cult of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple, or Charles Manson and the murders he inspired, to see modern-day versions of the Jesus cult’s influences. Visit any Mormon polygamy family or group to see Joseph Smith‘s influence morphed into a cult. On and on.

There are many intentional religious communities, such as the Mormons, the Shakers, the Essenes, that would be (or are) considered cults. There are other groups of individuals that decided to live together in communes, communities, even towns or cities, whose organizations were eventually legitimized politically and socially, such as Puritans, Quakers, Twin Oaks, Findhorn and others.

Many first came to the USA from other countries to escape religious persecution. In their countries of origin, they were undoubtedly banned and were definitely considered dangerous criminals, heretics and illegal, which motivated or forced their unethical occupation of these lands. Even if these people had been exiled to the “New World” as recently freed or still-incarcerated prisoners, they soon formed or joined “colonies” that, after a bloody revolutionary war to declare independence, became “states” or “commonwealths.” When does incorporating legitimize a cult?

“History is written by the victors,” proclaimed Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain (when it was still the heart of a formidable United Kingdom)…. He should know. Nothing we hear or read regarding controversial historical events can ever be exactly what it seems.

Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of The United States proves repeatedly and painfully how many lies are told by the “winners” to justify and glorify their victories. The actual stories of the invaders and thieves who came to the Western Hemisphere’s continents and islands and subsequently raped, pillaged, enslaved, lied, kidnapped, burned down and stole their ways across and all around these lands—which were already occupied—was recast to frame these criminals and slave-owners and those who benefited from/were related to them as “explorers,” “Pilgrims,” “colonists,” “settlers,” “Pioneers,” “plantation owners,” “farmers,” etc.

We want the divine to be visible on earth. We want a Messiah. We want to belong and be inspired. These are human desires.

Watching the six episodes of Wild, Wild Country, I was flooded with memories, emotions, thoughts and observations due to my own connections to these and similar people and groups. In this post, I reveal my own herstory and also share my opinions, observations and emotions stimulated by my viewing of this documentary about the Rajneeshees.

Wherever you are reading this, please post your own experiences, comments, insights here, or find the post’s comments section on my site on or after April 5, 2018: http://www.sallyember.com/blog


My herstory, with full disclosures:

—By the definitions, checklists and assessments offered as to what constitutes a “cult” (listed and quoted at the end of this post), I have been a member of, somewhat involved in, or around leaders/members of about twenty of these so-called “cults” in my life already. A few were great, start to finish/currently. Others started out all right and turned bad. Several started out weird and became familiar and helpful. There were many that exist(ed) somewhere in between these poles of experience.
—I have had personal friends, acquaintances and known several community members who were very involved with and were staunch supporters/members of the Rajneeshees Oregon community (featured in this documentary), although none of them lived there for very long or had only visited. I called them “Orange People” and treated them with varying degrees of indulgence, disrespect, acceptance, interest, derision, bewilderment, curiousity.
—I was born into the edges of one “traditional religious” cult that my brother and his family are all happily members of—Modern Orthodox Judaism—but I’m sure they would object to having their portion of Judaism classified as a cult, even though it meets most of the criteria.
—In addition to Rajneeshees`, I have known well/had reconnections with more than 100 roommates, friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances involved in cults and cult-like groups since 1972.

Here are the key groups I have been connected to over these decades:

  • The self-proclaimed Reverend Sun Yung Moon‘s Unification Church‘s (followers known as “Moonies”) bought and took over the University of Bridgeport (UB) in Connecticut in the late 1970s.
    I earned a Bachelors degree right before their takeover and was friends with a professor there who stayed through the takeover and after they departed. He did not become a Moonie, but during their administration, he became a Dean, then Provost, before retiring a few years ago.
    I became ashamed to have earned my B.A. from the place that became known as “Moonie U.,” always hastily adding after being forced to admit I had graduated from UB that I had left before the Moonies had come.

    The Cultiversity of Bridgeport
    article at https://theness.com/index.php/the-cultiversity-of-bridgeport/

  • I joined the teaching staff of a small but vibrant parent cooperative, private elementary educational institution, The Learning Tree School, that was nested within a larger community in southeastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The staff and parents had created some living situations that included at least three multi-member households.
    I joined one that had a single parent, her daughter and her partner (brother of one of my co-teachers), a VISTA (AmeriCorps, now) volunteer for the school, myself, and a man who knew many of these people and needed a place to live who would become one of my life partners (see below).
    I first learned about many things that became central to my life while part of this community: Finnish saunas (VERY hot, with steam on wood stovetops in outdoor buildings, and always done while naked and with the cold /ice water interludes), massage, chiropractic care, The Ovulation Method of fertility awareness, medicinal herbs and organic gardening, vegetarianism, macrobiotics, Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC; see below), communal households and collective living (which I lived in/organized from 1977 – 2005), “open” relationships/non-monogamy, positive classroom discipline, collaborative/consensus decision-making, arts in education, “free” school philosophies, child-centered classrooms and so much more.
    The aforementioned male addition to our collective household and I started a relationship that continued for almost twenty years. He is the father of my only child, a Mevlevi Sufi (see below), and still a good friend.
    But, interestingly, as a somewhat traditional teacher and person going into this teaching position and community, I remained an outsider. They decided that I was too “strict” when I objected to the other teachers’ lack of supervision of the children during icy recess afternoons or at the beachfront (our school occupied the former boathouse of a mostly inactive convent in Tiverton, Rhode Island), and not “loose” enough with the students (I didn’t like it when they got u[ and left in the middle of a lesson and called them back inside). We parted ways after only one year.

  • Followers of Prem Rawat, known as “The Maharishi,” (followers known as “Premies”) included my first-year college roommate, my former brother-out-law and his wife, several of their friends and a housemate’s sister. Although I participated in a few satsangs (Hindu-esque rituals, listening to audio or watching video of the teacher, chanting, singing, incense), this was not at all appealing to me.
  • I know three types of Sufis:
    1) those who started The Abode of the Message—one of the places my partner and I considered living—an “Eco-Sufi Village,” in Lebanon, New York, which spun off into Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a “New Age” educational conference center in Rhinebeck, New York, and now, five other locations all still operating today. Both centers’ leaders follow(ed) the now-late Pir Vilayat Khan, and, later, his successor, Vilayat Inayat Khan but Omega welcomes all traditions, hosting many other leaders and educators.
    We weren’t drawn to The Abode community when we visited, so I didn’t return until I attended a week-long educational seminar at Omega in Rhinebeck about twenty years later. Great place! Just not for me;


    image of indoor meeting space, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY

    2) those who are considered Mevlevi, often Turkish, who follow the teachings of the late poet, Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi). I knew/know many of these Sufis, including their now-deposed (due to a sex scandal) leader, Kabir [Ed] Helminski, in southwestern New Hampshire and southeastern Vermont (because my son’s father is a follower).
    My son’s father became a world-renowned master among the specialized Sufi Dancers known as Whirling Dervishes. He has traveled all over the world to whirl, starting in the mid-1980s, including at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
    Despite attending numerous Sufi family events and Semas, I never felt drawn to this path, either;
    and,
    3) students/followers of Sufi Sam Lewis (also known as Murshid Samuel Lewis and Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), who helped invent a type of spiritual dances that were done in circles with partners and groups, in spirals and other patterns, which he called “Sufi Dancing.”
    My son’s father had lived at and known Sam at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico before Sam’s death in 1971. I first encountered and participated in Sufi dancing at Another Place Conference Center in 1978 (see below).
    Sufi dancing has spread throughout the USA and Canada and the world. In several USA places on both coasts and in New Mexico for over thirty years, I learned a lot of these dances and songs, some in English, some in Arabic. I love them because they were easy to learn and the dancing/singing quickly infused us dancers with sweet messages of love, hope, peace, joy and community camaraderie.
    But, group arts activity is not a path and nothing about it appealed to me besides the Sufi dancing.


    image from https://triangulations.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/cults-vs-religions/

  • I was friends with and knew personally several leaders/founders of the Contact Improvisation Dance groups and Dance/Movement Therapy that inspired “Dance Free” (in Cambridge, MA), “Dance New England,” dance camps, “Dance Spree” at Keene State College in New Hampshire, and the Counseling Psychology/Dance Movement Therapy Masters’ degree program at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire.
    I have had several housemates and good friends who taught at and/or attended Antioch New England’s various graduate programs, including this one, and the DMT/CP program is the one from which my daughter-in-law graduated in 2016.
    But, since I hurt my leg severely in high school and suffered greatly from nerve pain for about twenty years, vigorous dancing was not my path, either.

  • MSIA (Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness) founded by John-Roger, “The Mystical Traveler” (a close associate of Arianna Huffington), had many other well-known followers/adherents. Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul was an early leader.
    One of my sisters was very involved with this in the late 1970s. After she graduated college, she and her partner (later, husband) moved to Los Angeles, California, and that’s where she met up with these people. She decided to earn a master’s degree in counseling from their questionable and uncertified Koh-I-Nor University in Los Angeles. She worked for and was friends with Jack Canfield and his second wife for a year or so, then started having children and didn’t go back.
    My sister’s involvement scared more than appealed to me. I was glad when she left the group.

  • Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC), founded by Harvey Jackins, was created from what Harvey stole from the work, philosophies and techniques of Gestalt/Fritz Perls, Psychodrama/J.L. Moreno, L. Ron Hubbard/Scientology/Dianetics, and Alcoholics Anonymous/”Bill,” and the Big Book. Harvey and a few other “peer counselors” began to “train”and recruit participants and local, regional and global leaders (“Reference Persons”) through free introductory workshops, then pushing members into increasingly expensive beginning and required classes, that become more elite (and costly). The sequences of more “advanced” classes (like EST, Esalen, and many other groups/conference centers, what they offer gets pricey; see below) keep the organization funded. RC is a “peer counseling” technique which became the foundation of an international movement of anti-oppression, especially social, political, personal growth and activism, which I greatly appreciated and learned about intensively. Based in Seattle, Washington, the organization continues to this day and still sells information through Rational Island Publishers. A lot of the anti-oppression, anti-isms movements’ language, concepts, techniques and workshop leadership sprung from RC roots.



    images from https://www.rc.org/

    After Harvey‘s death in 1999, his son, Tim Jackins, took it over as the newly selected “International Liberation Reference Person.” RC leaders started multiple magazines/newsletters and used their increasing political savvy and leadership influence to help/staff many of the most significant civil rights and improvement movements of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the new millenium (environment, feminism/sexism, ableism, racism, sexual abuse memory recovery, ageism, peace and social justice, to name a few) that are still having an impact and still active worldwide.
    I started with RC in 1980 despite having had bad experiences with it in The Learning Tree School community (some co-counselors did not maintain confidentiality, e.g.; see above), then left it in 1984 to join and become a leader of CCI. I credit my ability to deal effectively and with courage when my own and others’ emotions arise, my raised consciousness (now called being “woke”) regarding all types of internalized and external oppression, my first understanding of the “isms,” social and political systems, leadership, group dynamics, catharsis (known as discharge, here) and much more to my experiences in RC and CCI.
    I met some great people who became lifelong friends, colleagues, inspirations and mentors for me through these organizations. I am eternally grateful that these organizations existed and were accessible to me in my early adult and new parent years. My first teachers and co-counselors earned my gratitude forever: Bonnie Insull, the late Jaye Alper, Anna Aasgard, Diane Balser, Katie Schwerin, Emmy Ianello, Sydney Amara Morris, Bill Whyte, Zea Moore, Jeremy Youst, Mario Cossa, Pamela Lerman, Susan Link, Beth Pearson, Thom Herman, and David Eisenberg.
    But, the rigidity turned me off, so I turned to CCI (see below).

  • Co-Counseling International (CCI) was a spin-off/rip-off of RC that formed in 1973 when a few disgruntled leaders and practitioners of RC didn’t want to follow the “blue pages” (stolen from Alcoholics Anonymous‘ “Big Book,” these were originally printed on blue paper; these list the guidelines/rules for social conduct for AA groups that Harvey adapted for RC groups), particularly rebelling against the strictly enforced rules that forbid socializing/befriending and having sex with people whom co-counseling participants knew only through RC as leaders or co-counselors. CCI-ers also wanted more respect for and inclusion of the “spiritual” component than Harvey and his co-leaders seemed to value or would permit. Adding the spiritual component and escaping the rigidity of RC appealed to me, so I switched alliances in 1983.
    I rose quickly in the local ranks, leading/teaching classes and workshops, weekend conferences and other events. However, there was too much irresponsible and non-monogamous sex going on among co-counselors, especially at weekend workshop events, even for me (who was in “open” relationships for more than half my adult life), For example, there were many public displays of kissing and fondling, seemingly required at the end of some weekend conferences in a kind of good-bye dance line set-up, that made me very uncomfortable. I usually declined to participate in these “group gropes,” but, as a co-leader, I wish I had tried to stop them completely.
    I stayed about three years with CCI, but left CCI once I started going to traditional therapy in 1986 (after the Choy/cult experiences—see below—destroyed my main friendships and co-teaching partnerships within CCI).

  • Some Sikhs were those who followed Yogi Bhajan and Kirpal Singh and his successors. Some started and ran the Golden Temple of Conscious Cookery restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    One of these Sikhs was a 3-year roommate (1987-1989) and friend of mine in New Hampshire.
    Being a complete vegan did not appeal to me, nor did that eating plan work for my body. I didn’t like the worshipping a human teacher aspects much. Plus, the turbans were a big turn-off.

  • The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, founded and led by Stephen and Ina May Gaskin, inspired/wrote Spiritual Midwifery. The Farm was one intentional community that my partner and I considered living in and visited in 1978. But, while we were visiting, they were experiencing a hepatitis outbreak: big turn-off.


    Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin of The Farm

    We knew several couples who had lived there but who had left and moved to New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the late 1970s (two couples had been in a “four-marriage,” which meant each of them had fathered a child with the other’s wife, but that child was raised as in ignorance until adulthood, believing him/herself to have been the child of the originally married couple). One of the families that we knew well (because my partner had been college friends with the mom) had had one of their children’s birth stories featured in the midwifery book.
    Because of The Farm‘s great information dissemination, we had access to one of the best books on home births, a great cookbook for home cooking for vegetarians (especially how to cook beans, tips on using pressure cookers, recipes for making everything from scratch), pamphlets on making/using tofu (The Farm community was instrumental in popularizing the use of soy in many forms). I became an excellent vegetarian cook, we had a home birth for our son, and we had several friends who were lay midwives (three midwives attended our son’s home birth).


    My son, his father and I, he in a Native American-style, homemade (by two of our midwives) cradleboard, May, 1980, Stoddard, New Hampshire

    I am very grateful to the Gaskins and their followers for all they have contributed to my and many others’ lives.

  • I knew a lot of “Mukties,” followers of Muktananda—born Krishna Rai— who was the founder of Siddha Yoga and popularized the spiritual residential centers known as “ashrams” in the USA.
    Students of Muktananda and his successors were leaders/members of several groups I was affiliated with, including Another Place Conference Center, Spring Hill Community, Opening the Heart, and Robert Gass and the Wings of Song band/chorus in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I am listed as “Sallie Fleischman,” a chorus member, on the second album, Many Blessings, released in 1980; I performed with the band from 1978 – 1980). We also had two Siddha Yoga practitioners for housemates. I also knew some Buddhist sangha members who were Siddha Yoga practitioners/leaders (known as “Swamis”) who had lived at the main ashram in New York state.
    But, other than the chanting and singing kirtan (Hindu sacred music), I was never drawn to visit an ashram or practice in this path.

  • Mettanokit (a Wampanoag—Native American—language name given to several communal households that were part of an intentional community in southwestern New Hampshire that my partner and I moved from Massachusetts to be a part of, attracted by this flyer:


    Mettanokit flyer, circa 1978

    This community was started by Native American activist and author, Medicine Story (Francis Story Talbot, Manitonquat, who has written extensively on his philosophies ad done a lot of work in the world related to these concepts), and his then-wife, Emmy Ianello, and several others. I lived in collective households with some of these members (Story, Emmy, Toqueem [child], Katie, Bill, Mia [child], Charlie, Aaron [child], Christopher and I were in the first group household, in Sharon, New Hampshire, 1978-79) in some combination for three years (and there were several home births in these households, including ours; see above).
    Although the community splintered and some moved to form other households—in Massachusetts, Another Place Conference Center (where many had lived prior to this; see above and below) who then bought and ran it for years, in other parts of New Hampshire, and some scattered—I became lifelong friends with the family who founded and still run Badger Balm, Bill Whyte, Katie Schwerin, and their daughters, Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton, and Katie‘s daughter, Neumia Mason Burroughs.
    Joining this community was the reason I landed in New Hampshire, and these connections formed the foundation for my adult life, parenting and community for over twenty years. I am very grateful to have known and been a part of this venture at its inception.

  • Wiccans: I was close friends with several practicing witches whose beliefs were sometimes labeled “Wiccan,” “Pagan,” and “Womancraft.” I attended a workshop with USA’s most famous modern witch, activist and author, Starhawk, and visited and did rituals with several covens and Goddess groups that practiced “White Magic” in the 1980s.
    I learned to read Tarot cards, scry (see visions in crystal balls), do healings with placing crystals on people’s bodies and faces, cast a circle (create a safe/sacred space for rituals) and use the tools of Wicca. I had several crystals, crystal balls and my own athame (ritual dagger) as well as specific types of candles and incense.
    I learned a lot and enjoyed some of the rituals and gatherings, but when my closest friends who were committed practitioners of the Craft moved away, my interest dwindled.

  • Shamanism: (the Michael Harner-/Brant Secunda-inspired types). I knew a few who had studied with these leaders who brought the techniques back to New Hampshire.
    I attended some drumming/shamanic dreaming/vision circles in the 1980s.
    But, I had more interest in one of the drummers than the path, and when our friendship blew up (see Choy experience, below), my interests in Shamanism and drumming vision quests ended as well.

  • Robert Bly followers/drum circle men permeated several communities I was part of in southwestern New Hampshire and northern California.
    As a woman, this was not for me.

  • Radical feminism: I am still an adherent.
    I belonged to several feminist groups over the years, including the Rising Sun Feminist Health Alliance, which had founding members who were in the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (the authors of Our Bodies/Ourselves) as its leaders. I was also briefly on the Board of New Hampshire-NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). I also visited and/or belonged to vision groups, study groups, Grandmothers’ groups, Goddess groups, several women’s choruses, women’s groups, lesbian-bisexual women’s groups, LGBT groups, and feminist activist organizations in five states (some of which overlapped with Wicca, above).
    I attended a weekend workshop at Rowe Conference Center in Rowe, Massachusetts, in 1990, led by ex-communicated, feminist, former two-time presidential candidate, public speaker and author, Sonia Johnson. Sonia kissed any participant who wanted to kiss her at the closing circle ceremony. I did not volunteer.


    image from Citizens’ Party

    Because of my having attended a panel of the authors of Women’s Ways of Knowing and a workshop with Carol Gilligan and some of her co-authors and researchers of In A Different Voice in the 1980s, I decided to return to school to earn my masters’ and doctoral degrees in the early 1990s. I briefly belonged to the AWP (Association of Women in Psychology) feminist professional organization during that time.
    I have been a feminist since 1957, when I objected to traditional Reformed Jewish rituals and traditions that excluded or marginalized girls/women. I am still a feminist.

  • Eco-warriors and Peace Activists: I knew/was friends with some of the original recyclers, permaculturalists, organic farmers, people who started several food co-ops, a founder of Erewhon Natural Foods, founders/members of the New England Organic Farmers Association [NOFA], several environmental educators/faculty at Sargent Camp and Antioch/New England Graduate School in southwestern New Hampshire, and members of several similar groups I was loosely affiliated with for many years. Anti-war/Peace activism: included me and fellow high school students, starting in 1969 for the first Moratorium Day (anti Vietnam War national demonstration, for which I was suspended from school for wearing the black armband; 10/15/69), and continued for every war after that.
    I wish we prevailed more often.

  • Anti-nuclear power activists: I was a member of The Clamshell Alliance, which helped stop the building of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear power plant’s second tower, close down the Rowe, Massachusetts, aging plant, and stop the building of several others around the USA in the 1970s-1980s, particularly successful after the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, nuclear power plant meltdown/disaster.
    Again, I wish we prevailed more often.

  • I learned T.M. (Transcendental Meditation, as taught by the followers of the Beatles’ guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi), right after graduating high school in 1972, but I didn’t join the group. I practiced T.M. twice daily for over 20 years.
    I have had friends and acquaintances who went to live at the USA’s T.M. center in Iowa, attended Maharishi University there and lived at the center in India. Some became leaders in the T.M. movement.
    But, I was in my thirties before I realized that this was a Hindu-based meditation practice, since I had stayed out of the groups (and was glad I had). I did the practice, which turned out to be a component of shamatha meditation (calm abiding) in Buddhism, but not the Hindu path.

  • Scientology briefly grabbed my brother’s attention in 1970, but he didn’t continue pursuing it after high school. In 2013, I met some colleagues who had been more involved in that and its spin-off, Dianetics, but who had also left by the time I worked with them.
    Neither of these appealed to me at all.

  • I was in, around, friends with, sent my child to daycare/preschool and school at/with several intentional communities in southwestern New Hampshire between 1978 – 1998, including Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Schools/Anthroposophism groups (which I did not join, myself, but many friends became Waldorf teachers). I was the accompanist for the Monadnock Waldorf School‘s (MWS) Eurythmy program in 1987-88, before our son became a student there. Our son attended MWS from 1988-1994 (3rd – 8th grades), and we were active parents. I helped with drama productions, sex/health education, conflict resolution, craft fairs and childcare.
    I appreciated MWS‘ existence in our community, and most of my friends sent their kids to this and other Waldorf schools. But, I always felt like an outsider/dissenter to Anthroposophism because I never bought in completely. The Christian components, especially in the MWS school/community, were excessive and oppressive to me, as a Jewish Buddhist. I was relieved to be “done” with MWS when our son graduated.

  • In 1983, I first met author, channeler/clairvoyant, public speaker and workshop leader, Caroline Myss [pronounced “Carolyn Mace”] when she agreed to meet with me and my friend/colleague, Mario Cossa, to discuss the lost city of Atlantis for two children’s /youth plays we were writing. We became very good friends from then on, seeing each other almost weekly until she left New Hampshire to return to Chicago in 1992.


    Caroline Myss, from her website

    I also met and became friendly with the other founders and staff at Stillpoint Publishing, where she and Meredith Young (author of Agartha: Journey to the Stars) wrote and worked and two other friends of mine soon worked. I coordinated a workshop for Caroline to lead that took place at Another Place Conference Center (see above) in the fall of 1985 on the topic of her second book, Sacred Contracts and Your Archetypes, and I am mentioned in the forewords of three of her books.
    It was from Caroline and Meredith that I first learned about and became interested in “channeling,” so I was ripe to meet with and study with Lisa Leghorn in the early spring of 1985 (see below).

  • I have happily been a member and practitioner, myself, of another cult-like group (according to many definitions), Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhists, as led by the late His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. I spent about fifteen years co-leading and living in/participating in several of Chagdud Gonpa‘s meditation groups/centers (since 1988–first meetings/1996–joined up). First studying with Lama Lisa Leghorn/Lama Shenphen (see below), my then-partner and I helped start, lead, coordinate, sat on the boards of, and lived in several of these Gonpas (meditation centers/communities).
    I have done several “long” retreats—up to eleven weeks, all in silence—and many that lasted two – three weeks or a long weekend. I attended three 10-day Drubchens and several Drubchods (closed or open retreats with music, chanting, dancing and other rituals that lasted 24 hours a day), weekly or daily meditation sessions (pujas), and even trained to be and functioned as the leader (umzei) for these weekly sessions at several centers. I spent ten years exchanging English language tutoring for Tibetan language tutoring with a Tibetan man I met through one of these centers who became a good friend. I learned to read and write in Tibetan, but not to speak much and was never fluent.
    After philosophical differences among its leaders/Lamas caused schisms (between 2007 – 2009), I “spun-off” with Rinpoche‘s successor, who was already my main/”root” Lama, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu ([Al]Wyn Fischel; see below). He left Chagdud Gonpa‘s main center, Rigdzin Ling in Junction City (northern California, near Redding), in 2009 and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I already had been living for about seven years.


    Lama Drimed (Wyn Fischel), my teacher

    I returned to Missouri in August, 2014, after the accident that caused a TBI for me in the spring of 2014; up until then, I met with Lama Drimed about once every few months for most of those years. Since I moved, I only returned to California once, in 2016, when I did get to meet with him. Otherwise, we email and have phone calls periodically and I still consider him to be my spiritual teacher. There are a few Buddhist groups here in St. Louis that I have visited, attended some events and kind of affiliated with, but none is the exact same kind of Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism as mine, although three are very close “cousins.” I’ve gotten used to being a solo practitioner, though, at this point (spring, 2018).


    image from http://www.vijayatemple.orgA Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist class, similar to the ones I attended for many years

    I practice meditation in the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist tradition daily and throughout the day, formally and informally, to date (April, 2018), and plan to continue through my death and into other lifetimes.

  • I have always really wanted to be a part of a healthy intentional community, but NOT a cult. I knew the editors/founders of Communities Magazine, Paul Freundlich and his then-partner, in 1978.
    I knew and visited dozens of people who lived at variously located small- and large-group intentional community experiments, always searching for the “right” one for me.
    I was part of a group that tried to get a co-housing community started in 1990-91, but we disintegrated.
    I still long to live in that kind of setting and wish I could find the right community.

There are many more cult-like groups and people affiliated with them that I’ve known, but I’m stopping, here, since these are the main ones, including the story, below.


My Worst Cult-like Experience, with the Same Two Leaders as my Best

Some local teachers, Lisa Leghorn, with whom I was already studying, and, later, Wyn Fischel (who later were briefly married to each other), were pivotal influences in my life, beginning in 1985. They brought me into meeting and studying Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism with H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche because they each became Buddhist teachers/Lamas; see above), which saved and enhanced my life and spiritual development, unlike anything I have ever known before or since (and, by now, you can see I’ve “known” a lot of “paths”).

Lisa and, secondarily, Wyn were the connections that led me to meet with and join what became a briefly formed cult. This group centered around a Filipino faith healer known as Choy who lived in Baguio City, the Philippines. [NOTE: I can’t remember his real name. A Google search didn’t turn up any mention of him by his nickname. The only photos I have are personal, casual or posed group shots.]

This part of my cult experiences story started for me in March of 1985.
I had seen some flyers and ads and then heard from several friends about a “Psychic and Spiritual Development” teacher from Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Lisa Leghorn, who was going to speak and teach in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Lisa apparently offered private psychic readings by “Channeling” her “Spirit Guides” (this was very big in the 1980s). She taught classes in giving readings as well as how to dowse, use crystals for healing and focusing our energies, and learn to “awaken our psychic potentials. The flyers said that Lisa was going to give an introductory lecture and start a series of weekly classes in April of 1985. Since I had been seeing/hearing about it multiple times, it seemed significant and I was interested. I brought about a dozen people with me to this first meeting/lecture, a meeting that turned out to be momentous for many of us.

For Lisa, the story started when, in the fall of 1984, she had first met this Filipino faith healer, “Choy,” because a friend of hers had invited him to teach a workshop in northern New Hampshire which Lisa had attended. It was around that same time that Lisa started dating Wyn Fischel.

Lisa taught her Peterborough classes for about a year; Wyn started attending ours and her other one, in Hillsborough, then teaching his own classes himself in Keene, which several of my friends attended, in the summer of 1985. Lisa and Wyn then invited all their students to meet Choy when he came back to New Hampshire to lead another weekend workshop in September, 1985.

During Lisa‘s weekly psychic and personal development classes (which I attended from April, 1985, to March, 1986) and Choy‘s workshop, I discovered that I had strong and accurate clairvoyant medical and psychological diagnosis skills, similar to those of Caroline Myss (who was a close friend of mine for several years, while she and I both lived in New Hampshire; see above). In these class, I learned about chakras, energy fields, ley lines, light bodies, “layers of the field” of our auras and auras in general, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), polarity, past lives and regression, dream interpretations, and much more.


image from http://theawakenedstate.tumblr.com/post/72106305704/auras

These were all topics that interested me a lot, so I soaked in all in and returned for more, signing up for advanced classes, weekend workshops, and eventually, the trip to the Philippines (see below).

Lisa arranged for a group of us to go study with Choy in Baguio City, but we had to wait because of political unrest in the Philippines. While waiting for Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos to be deposed and flee and Corazon Aquino to be elected President, a dozen of us led by Lisa prepared through evenings, weekends, long weekends, and even a one-week retreat, under Lisa‘s tutelage, with weekend seminars and more classes during the late fall and winter of 1985-86. When it was safe, we went with Lisa and Wyn to study with Choy. Everyone stayed for one month; eight stayed longer; four of us stayed for two months.

After we had all returned, Lisa and Wyn (now married) hosted Choy Choy at Wyn‘s property (which had two buildings, a house and a studio/classroom) for Choy to do healings/see patients and teach weekly classes, which occurred three or four times each week through early September of 1986. The classes included a mix of esoteric/mystical Catholicism, shamanism, psychic/personal development and “New Age” components. I became somewhat of a “senior student” due to my quickly developing skills and knowledge of the local community. I and others brought many friends and family members to Choy‘s groups/classes or to see him as a patient. We sometimes had over 100 people coming visiting Wyn‘s Temple, NH, property per week, for about twelve weeks.

Near the end of that time, however, Lisa and Wyn, then those close to them, began to hear disturbing reports from patients and students: Choy was somewhat of a healing fraud. Turned out that he had told some patients that their conditions were “cured,” but these patients had come back, irate, waving CAT scans showing that their cancers had spread, for example. Worse, we found out that Choy had been sexually abusing some of his patients and my fellow students.

While I and others were first learning of the extent of Choy‘s horrendous behaviors and lies, it turned out that Lisa and Wyn were not so new to this information. They had known about some of the “lesser” sexual improprieties since the first impropriety, back in Baguio City. Then, for months, they had hidden that and other complaints from the rest of us, allowing Choy to stay while their silence protected and enabled Choy to continue and to escalate his abuses.

The ways that these lies were exposed imploded my community. In the aftermath, my credibility and trust between me and some of my friends were destroyed, since some of them believed—I was so close to Lisa and Wyn, how could I not have known what they knew?—that I had known more and sooner than I had. I completely understood their skepticism and mistrust; I was feeling that about Lisa and Wyn, myself, and I was furious with and felt horribly betrayed by Choy. These betrayals and abuses of trust devastated several key friendships and CCI (see above) co-teaching relationships for me and damaged my friendships with and trust for Lisa and Wyn for years.

The group-think that developed around Choy and the related events were, by far, the most cult-like of my personal experiences, and the worst. Some of my relationships never recovered because I was not believed or forgiven.

Even more difficult, Lisa and Wyn left soon after this all blew up. They said they had to go looking for a true spiritual teacher and community. They left me, and with them gone, I got all the blame and was the recipient of everyone’s hurt feelings for months after they left. This caused me great stress and sent me into traditional therapy (see above).

One good part: since I had already learned a lot and seemingly had a lot of clairvoyant and counseling/teaching skills, and as one of the most successful and senior students, many asked me to take over/help them out, and I was very willing and able to do that. Not everything Choy had done or taught was fraudulent, at least, not for me and many others.

That is often the case with cults: things with the leader/group start out good or even great, or everything is a mix of good/bad, until it all goes sour. I was traumatized and grieving, but through therapy, I began to heal.

I agreed to continue seeing clients, doing the counseling/hands-on healings/diagnoses, first in New Hampshire at my own home, then at offices I borrowed and eventually rented in Cambridge/Watertown, Massachusetts, once a week. I also started teaching classes that were very similar to Lisa‘s, which I had liked a lot and learned so much from that I wanted to share all that with others. I worked in this field for about two years.

In 1988, after two of my sponsors, who had also been clients and friends, were brutally murdered while on vacation, I stopped abruptly—out of overwhelming grief and guilt—because I had had no premonition of their being in danger. This tragedy and my powerlessness to prevent or protect them from it, as well as my increasing realization that these “classes” and “counseling” were not empowering, but rather, making my clients dependent on me, destroyed what had remained of my faith, motivation and confidence. So, I quit it all.

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1987, Lisa and Wyn returned briefly to New Hampshire to pack up and sell their homes. Their search had succeeded: they had discovered Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism as taught by H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (see above), and his sangha (spiritual communities) had met with their approval. They had started studying with him right away and then decided to move to California to join his sangha. They helped to create the main center in Junction City, which was bought, up and running by early 1988.

Their decision to leave New Hampshire was not completely understandable, and I was devastated, furious, sad and bewildered. How could they do this? Another Asian male teacher? Really? I was derisive and disgusted.

Wyn did try to teach me some of what they had been learning (“The Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind”) before they left, even though I was less than receptive. This short “conversation,” which we had while he was hanging laundry outside to dry, was my first Buddhist teaching from him.

We did not part on great terms, but we stayed in touch (mostly, Lisa and I did, then Wyn and I). First Lisa was my Buddhist teacher, starting in Colorado in 1996, continuing in New York City and Boston when she and Rinpoche came to teach and give empowerments and Refuge. Lama Lisa was our guiding lama when I lived at and helped coordinate Buddhist centers in the Chagdud Gonpa Foundation network, one in Maine (1998-99) and two in Arizona/New Mexico (1999-2001).

While I was finishing my doctoral degree and then working full time, 1996-1998, I meditated daily to complete the Preliminary Practices (ngondro) and other accumulations of 100,000 mantras, utilizing visualization and other meditation techniques that qualified me to attend the first-year Dzogchen (“Great Perfection”) retreat with Lama Drimed as its leader. That is the way that Wyn became my “root” Buddhist Lama.


Lama Drimed and I, 1999, at Rigdzin Ling, Junction City, CA

This part of our journey took almost 15 years (see above). THAT is some strong karma, eh?


However, first, I felt very alienated from Buddhism for many years, even though I had met Rinpoche and his wife, Jane (who became Chagdud Khadro when he ordained her as a Lama) when Rinpoche and Jane came to Hew Hampshire at the invitation of my best friend (who had been involved with Lisa, Wyn, Choy, the Philippines, etc., then gone to study with Rinpoche at Lisa‘s request) in 1988.

Missing them and wanting to see what they had created and where they were living, I had even gone out to Rigdzin Ling (see above) to visit Lisa and Wyn, see their new Center/Gonpa, and to attend a 10-day Bodhisattva Peace Training that Lisa had insisted I go to, in the winter of 1989. But, it “didn’t take.” I wasn’t moved to start practicing.

I continued to see Lisa when she came to the East Coast with Rinpoche, as his attendant and translator (he had terrible English that few could understand) almost every year. During one visit, I half-jokingly told Lisa I wouldn’t start studying Buddhism until SHE started teaching it. In 1995, Rinpoche ordained Wyn as Lama Padma Drimed Norbu (Lama Drimed), whom he also made his “lineage heir” (an unheard-of move, since Rinpoche already had an adult son who was a Lama whom he bypassed for this honor) along with another senior student, Lama Tsering. Rinpoche was one of the first to ordain Western women (starting with Lama Inge Sandvoss) and continued to ordain Westerners until his death in 2002.


image from http://theind.com/article-permalink-1428.html of Rinpoche and Lisa, circa 1994

In 1996, Lisa was ordained by Rinpoche. She became Lama Lisa, then Lama Shenphen Drolma, and started teaching. I kept my word.

For more about this journey, see my two-part series, published online in 2015 in Buddhist Door, “A Reluctant Buddhist: How it Took Me Eight Years to Start Practicing in This Life,” Part I and Part II.


So, watching this documentary, Wild, Wild Country, about Rajneesh and all that, was a little like watching my own and others’ lives. Some of the Orange people/Rajneeshees were close friends, housemates, co-counseling partners, community acquaintances and others whom I had known and understood very well (see above). I had already read some books about this group, but there were a lot of facts and footage that shocked me during my viewing.

The Rajneesh meditation community started out so sweetly, with so much love, hope, utopian visions and plans, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in India and then many other countries, before they started the community/city in Oregon, USA.


image from documentary/Netflix; Ma Anand Sheela and Rajneesh, early years, in Poona, India

But, watching this documentary and remembering the friends and others I knew who had been involved with Rajneeshees made me feel so much sadness, anger, ad compassion. I was hurting for those—like the people I knew personally—who had been innocent followers and believers but who had been horribly betrayed, led astray, influenced unduly to do atrocious things or didn’t even know about them.

Some of what they set out to accomplish, some of the good they wanted to do in the region and world, did occur. But, so much damage was also done.

Watch, and do more research. Then, do more, if you want. Decide for yourselves. Here are my observations, reactions and options. See what you think…


Episodes 1 & 2, late 1970s – early 1980s:
—The promise, the joy, spiritual path and personal growth work, music and dance that infused the gatherings and parties. Recruitment, voluntary joining, friends and family members joining together made this lifestyle seems to appealing to many around the world.
—There were interviews, videos and photographs that showed so many people’s involvement being touted as “the best thing that ever happened to them.”
—They built an amazing, somewhat utopian-seeming city in a very short amount of time and housed and fed thousands. They lived without crime and seemingly in harmony for a few years while the numbers of those who followed Rajneesh exploded worldwide.

Episodes 3 & 4, 1983 – 1984:
Depicting all the ways in which it all goes to shit.
—Rajneeshpuram sent buses and advocates to many cities in the USA in the summer of 1984 to recruit homeless people into its community. They welcomed all of these formerly abandoned people (mostly males) and gave them a lot that they had been missing: security, housing, food, work, friends, respect. But, they did this in order to get these new residents to register to vote so the Sannyasin could take over government by choosing the leaders of Oregon.
—Wasco County, Oregon, refused to allow these newly legitimate residents to register to vote in the November, 1984, election, which shows how crazy the politicians and leaders of Oregon had become.


Rajneeshpuram, 1985, Welcome sign

Bhagwan was instructing Sheela; she did not act on her own or from her own ideas, solely.
—One of these new residents, a formerly homeless man who was mentally ill and violent, attacked and almost strangled Sheela to death. He was quickly removed from the community completely.
Sheelaand other leaders of Rajneeshpuram then made the decision to secretly (without the knowledge or consent of the affected community members) put Haldol (a strong anti-psychotic and sedative) into the homeless residents’ drinks (beers, mostly), which shows how crazy Rajneeshpuram leaders had become.
Ma Anand Sheela and other leaders soon evicted most of the “street” people/homeless people, only keeping those who could/would follow the rules. Sannyasins left the violent, mentally ill Rajneeshpuram rejects in nearby Oregon towns and cities, mostly Portland, showing automatic weapons to those who tried to stop these drop offs.
—Law enforcement came to “inspect” Rajneeshpuram. They were met with roads that were blocked by sannyasin vehicles and “road closure” signs. Officers’ cars went off-road and attempted to enter some buildings, but weren’t allowed in (“We can’t find the keys”), so they left. They missed seeing the labs in which bio-terrorism weapons were being developed.
Sheela planned and sannyasin carried out attacks, which included bio-terrorism (putting salmonella into the food of several salad bars in Portland) prior to the election in order to keep legitimate voters from voting in the November election. 750 people became ill in The Dalles from food poisoning. Many had to be hospitalized.
Sheela and other leaders continued to exhort the sannyasin into even more heinous acts (more threats to Oregonians, violence, including murders). Some sannyasin rebelled/refused or left; some followed her edicts and acted as her “soldiers.” They had disguises, safe houses, weapons, plans for assassinations and other crimes (including bombings) to be carried out against politicians and USA lawyers/leaders.
—Oregonians succeeded in outmaneuvering and thereby, outvoting the sannyasins, some of whom then refused to vote. So, their political take-over plan failed.
—Conflicts escalated after the election, with Sheela‘s making comparisons between Oregon’s leaders and citizens to Nazis and Hitler occurring frequently.
—Oregon set up a “hotline” for people to report possible crimes and dangers, statewide.
—Sannyasins committed arson in Wasco.
—Poisoned chocolates from Rajneeshpuram were delivered to Oregonian activists.
—Sannyasins poisoned water of USA attorneys and other Oregon leaders.
Ma Anan Hasya (a part of the so-called “The Hollywood Crowd”) became one of Rajneeshees‘s spokespeople and fundraisers and married Bhagwan’s doctor. Hasya helped sannyasins to buy mansions in Los Angeles and throwing huge parties to recruit members and donors. Huge amounts started to be spent to give Rajneeshees Rolls Royces, jewelry, property, and money. These gifts gave them access to Bhagwan, without Sheela.
—Divisions arose surrounding Bhagwan, with the starting of new corporations and leaders, creating jealousies, anger, and even more craziness among sannysins and leaders, between the LA and Oregon communities.
Bhagwan began using and became addicted to mind-altering drugs, His talks became less coherent. He became more paranoid, predicting chaos and dystopian futures. Talks began about building underground compounds, etc., to survive the apocalypse.
Sheela tried to get Bhagwan off the drugs, tried to rein him, to keep the police away. He refused her help and advice.
Sheela became more paranoid, distraught, isolated and dispirited, according to followers, in which many more factions/ divisions arose.

Episodes 5 & 6, 1984 – 1990 – 2018: Discovered, caught, arrested, imprisoned, freed, sold, disbanded, resurging, continuing
Sheela and her soldiers had electronically eavesdropped on Bhagwan‘s home and meeting rooms, every phone call, and every building in Rajneeshpuram, for years.
Bhagwan and his doctor were recorded discussing how to inject drugs to kill people, that they had ordered the drugs and buried them in Bhagwan‘s garden and began to build a crematorium.
Sheela believed Bhagwan and his doctor were planning Bhagwan’s death. Sheela asked who would kill the doctor to prevent this?
—One sannyasin volunteered, gathered the injection and syringe, planned and carried out this doctor’s attempted murder during the summer festival of 1985, believing she was saving Bhagwan, but only after that (in September, 1985) did she and Sheela and about 18 others loyal to Sheela leave Rajneeshpuram, fleeing their crimes and leaving a leadership vacuum.
—The USA government became even more intent on destroying/removing Rajneesh and Rajneeshpuram. Immigration, the IRS, zoning and other departments, including the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (the ATF, famous for blowing up many other communities in the USA), and the FBI conducted investigations.
—Investigative journalists helped provide the necessary clues and evidence which brought about the demise of the plans, leaders and the city of Rajneeshpuram. The FBI and other departments within the USA and Oregon government law enforcement groups uncovered crimes going back to their time in Poona, India (money-laundering, immigration fraud, theft, tax evasion, weapons charges, financial crimes of other kinds).
Rajneesh (sometimes called “Osho“) and the followers who didn’t flee with or feel loyal Sheela threw her “under the bus,” blaming Sheela and her alone for every bad thing the community members had done. They publicly burned her robes, called her horrible names, stated that she had written one of “his” books and burned those, and vilified Sheela.
—It was soon discovered that Bhagwan had actually ordered Sheela to do most of the illegal and unethical things she and some others had done. Bhagwan’s claims of innocence and ignorance were false.
—Public speaking, media appearances and newspaper interviews with accusations by Sheela and Bhagwan, each making claims against the other, continued for months.
—It always comes down to money. Sheela‘s posing naked for magazine spreads was one of her “exile” activities meant to earn/raise money.
—The former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, KD, had left and secretly made a deal with the Federal government. He pled guilty to some crimes to avoid other charges and got some immunity as well as placement in Witness Protection by testifying against both Sheela and Bhagwan and 5 others involved in planning/plotting the poisonings, wiretapping/eavesdropping, immigration fraud, financial misdeeds and murder attempts.
—The presence of multiple firearms, explosives and other weapons on each side made violence seem inevitable if authorities had tried to enter Rajneeshpuram.
—Ten followers who still lived in Rajneeshpuram were supposed to be arrested there along with Bhagwan but Bhagwan and they had fled using their own Lear jets, heading to Bermuda where they would not have been extraditable. But, both planes had to refuel. The FAA discovered their plans and arrested them when the planes landed to refuel while still in the USA (Charlotte, North Carolina). They had $50K, a lot of jewelry, his “throne,” and personal belongings.
Sheela and 2 others were arrested and extradited from Germany to the USA on the same day as Bhagwan was arrested in the USA.
Sheela pled guilty to all charges. She paid fines, did some prison time, then was deported after her release.
—Although Bhagwan had been allowed in 1984 to remain in the USA as a “religious teacher/leader,” he was found, arrested and brought up on on criminal charges in 1985.
—Many considered Bhagwan to have been a political prisoner, religiously persecuted and unfairly prosecuted and sentenced.


Rajneesh arrested in 1985. Image from http://www.oregonlive.com

—While under arrest, Bhagwan was brought to several prisons, strip-searched repeatedly, put into cells with dangerous criminals, and paraded before the media while “being returned to Oregon.” They had him on buses, planes, cars for almost three weeks, succeeding in forcing him to “surrender.”
Bhagwan and his attorneys made a plea deal instead of going on trial, even though the case against him was very weak. He probably would have won, but they settled because they believed the USA government would never have stopped going after him and his health wasn’t good enough for a protracted trial or legal fight.
—In November, 1985, Bhagwan agreed to be permanently deported back to India rather than go on trial or serve more prison time in the USA. His departure was filmed and his followers were very sad to see him go, but some followed him to India later.
—Sannyasin began to leave Oregon soon after Bhagwan‘s departure.
—The city/ranch was shut down, then sold. Some of later became a Christian summer camp and retreat center.
Bhagwan was only 58 when he died, in 1990, of heart disease…or, was he murdered by his physician and looted by this doctor and his “inner circle,” as Sheela and others claim?
—There are still Rajneesh individuals and groups of followers, new and original, worldwide: devotees, readers, meditators who learn(ed) about and do the practices Osho and his leaders promulgate(d), with the Osho Foundation and many other ways to earn/collect money continuing, to date, 2018.
Bhagwan was powerful and leading groups for not even 20 years; only about 4 of those years was he active and in the USA. Yet, Bhagwan/Rajneesh/Osho attracted, gathered and still has hundreds of thousands of followers/believers, some who have remained loyal to him and his “vision” for over thirty years.


Part of Rajneesh‘s (then called Osho) obituary, in 1990: “Baghwan [sic] Shree Rajneesh, the Indian guru who attracted thousands of followers at his Oregon commune in the early 1980’s before being deported from the United States, died yesterday of heart disease at his commune in Poona, in southern India, members of his entourage there told reporters. He was 58 years old.” from The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/20/obituaries/baghwan-shree-rajneesh-indian-guru-dies-at-58.html


For more info on the film

An interesting article, written not long after the movie dropped on Netflix includes a video interview with the filmmakers:
“This Is The Part Of Wild, Wild Country That You Didn’t See,” by KAITLIN REILLY, from 3/29/18, link is below.
https://www.refinery29.com/2018/03/195090/wild-wild-country-life-of-sannyasin-rajneeshpuram?bucketed=true

My comment on this article was left on the article’s site and reprinted, here:

I was personally friends and housemates with several “orange people” who went back-and-forth between Southwestern New Hampshire (where we lived) and Oregon during Rajneeshpurim’s heydey. I knew them “before,” “during,” and “after.”

Seeing this documentary brought back some powerful memories and even more questions. Many of the people I knew had already decided not to continue as sannyasin (renunciates; members of this spiritual community) and stop following Bhagwan years prior to the collapse and prosecutions, but some had continued and may still, to this day, in some form, follow those meditation and therapeutic practices.

How many local groups have continued for these 30+ years and how they managed interests me.

It’s really sad, to me, that the purer motivations, missions and plans of the committed, dedicated members of this community were hijacked and destroyed by the powerful and pathological leaders in the group. The conflicts created by them with the town were not inevitable, since I know of several Buddhist communities who came and co-existed peacefully, even as they grew, with small towns in Oregon, California and Washington during and after this same time period.

In my view, and I think in the view of the filmmakers, this intense, creative, innovative and very spiritual community DID become a dangerous cult, but it did not start out that way and it didn’t have to become that. This transformation was very sad for all involved and affected.

Best to you all.


For further reading, learning, discussing:

{NOTE: I haven’t read these books so I can’t comment on or recommend them. For more info, you can find many other summaries and references via Google, Wikipedia, etc.]

Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram: A Community Without Shared Values
by Lewis F. Carter
His blurb for the book, on Goodreads (link, below):

The Rajneeshpuram religious community established in Oregon attracted national attention when the group leaders were arrested and subsequently deported. The spiritual leader of the internationally based sannyasin religious group, guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, founded Rajneeshpuram as a model of sannyasin community formation. The sannyasin deny the legitimacy of all human institutions, accepting neither any general code of conduct nor any shared system of beliefs. This book is a narrative account of the controversial methods of group formation and control practiced by the sannyasin and of the events that resulted in the violence between the settlement and the surrounding community that led to the group’s dissolution. Based on first-hand observation and interviews, the book describes the conditions of life in the settlement and the causes of conflicts both within the community and with outsiders. The author argues that the sannyasin method of group control, relying on confrontation among members, the threat of banishment, and charismatic authority, restricted the sannyasin in resolving conflicts with outsiders for whom these methods of control were ineffectual. The first treatment of the subject informed by sociological scholarship, this study provides unique insight into the importance of shared values in regulating group processes and relationships with other groups.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8625715-charisma-and-control-in-rajneeshpuram

The Rajneesh Chronicles: The True Story of the Cult that Unleashed the First Act of Bioterrorism on U.S. Soil, by Win McCormack
https://www.amazon.com/Rajneesh-Chronicles-Story-Unleashed-Bioterrorism/dp/098256919X
The book’s blurb:

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers were involved in nefarious activities including prostitution, drug smuggling, sexual abuse of children, and murder conspiracy. The Rajneesh Chronicles explains this behavior–and why the cult that committed the first act of bioterrorism in the U.S. was trying to cultivate a live AIDS virus.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, widely known as the “sex guru,” fled India in 1981 and came to settle on a ranch in central Oregon, where he and his followers established the illegal city of Rajneeshpuram. In their effort to preserve the city, the Rajneeshees attempted during the 1984 election to take control of the Wasco County government by poisoning two county commissioners and over 700 potential voters in The Dalles, the county seat, with salmonella―the first act of bio-terrorism in U.S. history. Armed to the teeth with semiautomatic weapons, they threatened to defend the city to the death against any governmental intrusion, and hatched a plot to assassinate a U.S attorney. When the commune finally imploded and authorities arrived on the scene, they discovered that the Rajneesh nurse who had cultivated salmonella bacteria in the commune’s biological warfare laboratory was also trying to cultivate a live AIDS virus―–which deranged group leaders clearly hoped to unleash on the rest on the world.

The Rajneesh Chronicles is a collection of in-depth investigative and analytical articles published in Oregon Magazine covering the entire period from the time of the cult’s arrival in Oregon in mid-1981 to its dramatic disintegration at the end of 1985 (with an introductory chronology that extends the story up to the present). While most press treated the cult’s antics as a humorous sideshow typified by the Bhagwan’s dozens of Rolls-Royces, editor in chief Win McCormack and other of the magazine’s writers systematically exposed the full range of the Rajneeshees’ depraved behavior, including their involvement in prostitution and international drug smuggling, sexual exploitation of children, abuse of homeless people they imported into Rajneeshpuram to register as voters, and the use of brainwashing techniques bordering on torture. The tale of the Rajneesh has become an amorphous legend few inside or outside of Oregon actually understand. The Rajneesh Chronicles fully illuminates the shocking reality behind that legend.

[Books on Amazon written by other followers and journalists are listed below these titles.]

Don’t Kill Him!: The Story Of My Life With Bhagwan Rajneesh Paperback: A Memoir By Ma Anand Sheela, 2013
https://www.amazon.com/DonT-Kill-Him-Bhagwan-Rajneesh/dp/8172344449
Her book’s blurb:

As His personal secretary between 1981 and 1985, and the second-in-command of His organization, Ma Anand Sheela enjoyed an enviably close relationship with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Bhagwan called upon her when He wanted to discuss personal issues, crucial administrative matters, run minor errands, and to even place an order for a new Rolls-Royce. Ma Sheela was His confidante, His closest aide, the person He trusted more than anyone else. She ruled the entire commune under His guidance… until differences crept up. What followed next, soon became part of Bhagwan‘s infamous history, as after years of loyal service, Ma Sheela resigned from her position, left the commune, and fled to Europe with fellow members. An infuriated Rajneesh wasted no time in accusing her of planning a bio-terror attack, conspiring to murder important public officials, and running away with fifty-five million dollars. Ma Sheela pled guilty to some of the charges in court and spent thirty-nine months in prison. Now, almost two decades later, Ma Sheela, still in love with Bhagwan and His teachings, finally tells her side of the story, claiming that the truth was very different, and sheds light on that part of Bhagwan‘s life which has so far been shrouded in a cover of secrecy and darkness.

—Many books written by Rajneesh himself are also still available online and in libraries.


Cult or Not a Cult?

from https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/06/the-seven-signs-youre-in-a-cult/361400/, we have this: “Several years ago, the founder of IHOP [International House of Prayer], Mike Bickle, created a list of seven ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. Written down, the signs seem clear.” (see below)

7 Ways to Recognize a Cult:
1. Opposing critical thinking
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
5. Dishonoring the family unit
6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
7. Separation from the Church

from https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2016/09/15/what-makes-cult-cult/90377532/, we have: “What is a cult? A cult is a group or movement held together by a shared commitment to a charismatic leader or ideology. It has a belief system that has the answers to all of life’s questions and offers a special solution to be gained only by following the leader’s rules. It requires a high level of commitment from at least some of the members.”

4 dimensions to a cultic group:
1) Charismatic leader
2) Transcendent belief system
3) Systems of control
4) Systems of influence

from http://andynaselli.com/sociological-characteristics-of-cults we have: “Sadly, some Christian groups share these characteristics to some degree.”

6 Sociological Signs of a Cult:
1) Authoritarian Leadership
2) Exclusivism
3) Isolationism
4) Opposition to Independent Thinking
5) Fear of Being “Disfellowshiped”
6) Threats of Satanic Attack

from http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm, we have: “This checklist [has been] published in the [new] book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.”

Checklist of Cultic Characteristics includes:
1) The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
2) Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
3) Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
4) The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry�or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
5) The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar�or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
6) The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
7) The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
8) The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
9) The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
10) Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
11) The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
12) The group is preoccupied with making money.
13) Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
14) Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
15) The most loyal members (the �true believers�) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

from https://aeon.co/essays/theres-no-sharp-distinction-between-cult-and-regular-religion, we have: “Often (just as with pornography), what we choose to see as a cult tells us as much about ourselves as about what we’re looking at….Groups that have approved, ‘orthodox’ beliefs are considered legitimate, while groups whose interpretation of a sacred text differs from established norms are delegitimised on that basis alone. Such definitions also depend on who is doing the defining.”
and
“There might not be Satanists lurking round every corner, lying in wait to kidnap children or sacrifice bunny rabbits to Satan, but the dangers of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in small-scale, unsupervised religious communities, particularly those isolated from the mainstream or dominant culture, is real enough.”
and
“Of course, the uncomfortable truth here is that even true church (large, established, tradition-claiming church) and cult aren’t so far apart – at least when it comes to counting up red flags. The presence of a charismatic leader? What was John Calvin? (Heck, what was Jesus Christ?) A tradition of secrecy around specialised texts or practices divulged only to select initiates? Just look at the practitioners of the Eleusinian mysteries in Ancient Greece, or contemporary mystics in a variety of spiritual traditions, from the Jewish Kabbalah to the Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition [happens to be mine]. Isolated living on a compound? Consider contemporary convents or monasteries. A financial obligation? Christianity, Judaism and Islam all promote regular tithing back into the religious community. A toxic relationship of abuse between spiritual leaders and their flock? The instances are too numerous and obvious to list.”
and
“…no amount of commonsense reasoning can amount to a legitimate deterrent [to a member of a cult]: the ultimate cosmic meaningfulness of one’s actions transcends any other potential need. And to be in a community of people who can help reinforce that truth, whose rituals and discourse and symbols help not only to strengthen a sense of meaningfulness but also to ground it in a sense of collective purpose, then that meaningfulness becomes more vital still: it sits at the core of what it is to be human.”
and, finally
“Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals and, as we’ve seen, for society at large.”

“I didn’t want to marry him; I wanted to BE him!” What attracts us to others?

“I didn’t want to marry him; I wanted to BE him!”

The above statement was yelled by a major character in the Jessica Jones series, Trish (played wonderfully by Rachael Taylor), when asked by Jessica (played amazingly by Krysten Ritter) why Trish hadn’t said “yes” to her lover’s very public, romantic, planned-out, catered marriage proposal. It certainly was appropriate, as explanations go, since Trish’s aspirations were to transition from being a radio talk show personality into becoming a serious journalist (which her erstwhile fiance already was).

Interestingly, this sentiment also gave me pause, personally and as a writer. That contemplation urther inspired me to pose the following questions, to myself and to you all:

What causes us to fail in relationships?

What attracts us to others?

Could what attracts us and what dooms us be the same?


image from: https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/dealing-with-unrequited-love/

Are YOU attracted to people who have qualities you wish YOU possessed, in an unconscious attempt to acquire those qualities for yourself? This can apply to people you are cultivating as friends, people you work with or for, and/or people you are considering as lovers.

These types of feelings of attraction could have elements of:
—admiration (personal)
—respect (professional)
—envy (wanting what they have but not wishing they would lose it)
—jealousy (wanting what they have and wanting to take it from them, believing they do not deserve to have it as much as you do)
—intimidation (feeling inferior or afraid)
—possessiveness (showing off your connection to this person, “owning” their time or status as yours)
—sexual lust (perhaps believing your becoming lovers gives you power over this person)
—status hunger (wanting to improve your own and/or share theirs)
—aspirations for greatness (believing being closer to this person elevates you)
—desire for more intimacy (see above)
—wishes for shared glory (believing stardom “rubs off”)
—bids for approval (parentifying this person, to some degree)
and many more complications to simple attraction, most of which are based in our own insecurities.


image from https://theotherhubby.com/2015/08/28/insecurity-relationships/ INSECURITY

A list of the usual qualities that could be aspects of that person which you believe that you lack and they already have include:

—components of physical appearance/style
—personality traits, especially charisma/star quality
—social or professional status
—employment/work situation
—education/training/skills
—property/finances
—talents
—fame/celebrity
—community respect or position
—family or other relationships
or, any other accomplishments/circumstances

The next question: How well does it work to hook up with, become friends or lovers with, even commit to, someone in order to gain one or more of the above for oneself?

Speaking for my own experiences, this quest doesn’t work at all, or not for very long.

When people have attempted to do that with me, it was like the situation described, but in reverse: they wanted what I already seemed to possess. At first, they admired me, liked me, complimented me, wanted to “show me off” to others. However, inevitably, they grew to resent me. They seemed to feel increasingly jealous of me. They ascribed negative motivations to me, believing I was patronizing or condescending to them (even though I was not feeling or thinking in those ways at all). Usually, we ended with their being intimidated by me or afraid of my view of them to the point of ruining our relationship.

I had one intimate friend beg me: “Stop looking at me with those eyes!”
I protested, perplexed: “These are the only eyes I have!”
Turned out, he was unable to cope with my seeing him as clearly as I did. Apparently, his self-esteem was so low that the ways I reflected him were unbearable to him. His fears and self-loathing are what destroyed our friendship.

“Comparison kills joy”
image from: http://international-relations-cliches.blogspot.com/2014/02/there-is-icky-us-car-commercial-that-is.html

When I have been attracted to someone’s “star quality,” wishing I could be more like them in their profession, have their talent, or enjoy their status, I would initially be so happy to become their friend or lover. But, as we grew closer, it became clear that I did not gain what I had hoped to gain. Our relationship never availed me of their circumstances.

I often would make myself indispensable to them, hoping to maintain our connection. This tactic often worked, as long as I could tolerate the unrequited nature of my love and they could appreciate my contributions to their life/work.

While I did enjoy getting to know each of them better and usually felt special for having been chosen to be closer to them, for however long it lasted (usually, not long), I was not as positively changed as I had wished to be; certainly, I was not turned “into” them by our intimacy.

Luckily, I am not the jealous or envious type to the point of losing my own self-regard to those feelings. So, often, we would become good friends or lovers and enjoy each other’s company, IF they could tolerate my fawning over them…. If not, we parted.

When we could work all this out, we continued in some capacity as companions, sometimes becoming life-long friends (you know who you are!). I continue to admire them; they seem not to be bothered by my adulation. I suppose they have their own reasons for enjoying me, for which I am grateful.


What’s your story?
Comment here, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Sexual Predators or Impatient Young Adults?: What to do with Adults who Date Teens?

Sexual Predators or Impatient Young Adults?: What to do with Adults who Date Teens?

And, what to do with “violators” when mores, laws, policies, attitudes and values change but behaviors are slower to “catch up”? How do we judge others when the context changes before the people do? What we have here is a conflict between Absolute and Relative Values, right?


from http://slideplayer.com/slide/1647742/

I ask for myself (see below), many men and some women caught up in the #MeToo explosion of accusations and reports, and a former student of mine (see below).

I welcome your considered opinions, but PLEASE don’t waste my time (and I will delete your comments) with diatribes or accusations of your own. I also am NOT inviting your stories of being victimized or being a perpetrator/violator. I am ONLY accepting and asking for actual suggestions on ways to handle these difficult categories of behavior during tough transitions in cultural norms.

Sexism/double-standards, ageism, and changing standards of what is legal and what is proper all enter into these stories.

Trying to decriminalize teen sexual activity is one thing; protecting teens from “adults” who prey upon teens who are only a few years older than they are is another. How much of an age difference is “too much,” and when does that change? Can one partner be 20 and the other 30? What about 23 and 53? What about 14 and 34? 60 and 30?

Does the gender of either partner matter? Why or why not?

Isn’t the policing of teens’ sexual activity mostly about prevention of teen pregnancy, which is really about policing teen GIRLS?

What about international age of consent differences? Regional USA age of consent differences?

Are people that different in maturity or their ability to give consent or “deserve” to be prosecuted merely by living in another location?

You see some of these thorny issues?


When I was teaching adults in the Brattleboro, Vermont, Corrections education program for parolees and probationers during the 1990s, I encountered a student whose crimes were difficult to understand. At first, I was disgusted, having only heard that he had been convicted and was now on parole for “L & L with a minor,” which means he had been caught having some kind of sex (Lewd and Lascivious behavior) but not intercourse (so not “statutory rape”), with an underage (at that time, under 16) girl in his rural area. When I met “Jack,” he was almost 40. I learned that he had committed this “crime” at age 34, when his girlfriend/fiance was 14. Sounds shocking, right?

So, I asked him, in the third or fourth class, once we had established a kind of rapport, what had happened? This is his story (paraphrased).

Jack lived in an area of Vermont that his family and neighbors had inhabited for many decades, perhaps over 150 years. According to tradition, males in that area dated and married “late,” which meant that boys and girls hung out in groups and went to dances or parties until well over 25-30 years old, with teens and peers in their 20s and 30s all mixing together at these events. Eventually, each male was expected to find a girl (yes, GIRL) of about 13 – 16 to get engaged to and marry, usually by the age of 35.

Generation after generation, this “May-December” arrangement had been their way. All were fine with it, supposedly, until the laws changed around them and no one had told Jack. Doing what everyone around him and before him had “always done” now landed him in jail for “L & L with a minor.”

What had he actually done? He said they had “made-out in my pick-up truck after every party and dance,” since they were engaged and that was what everyone did. No one who respected their ways and their partners went “all the way” until after the wedding. Jack and his teen sweetie had been adhering to that restriction with great discipline and pride, but a jealous girl who wanted Jack for her own AND who had paid attention to the changing laws had called the police and gotten him caught, arrested, jailed. Jack’s parents, his girlfriend’s parents and community members were outraged and spoke on his behalf, but “the law was the law” and that was that. He spent five years (!?!) in jail/prison, and had just gotten out when I first met him.

Jack’s story appalled and saddened me, and made me rethink my own prejudices and biases a lot. This all also had reminded me of one of my own stories, which was not all that different, in many ways, but had taken a very different turn, decades later.


When I was almost 24, I met an almost-16-year-old boy who was the son of a neighbor. Said neighbor, about 38 herself, was a long-time friend of the man I was newly dating/living with, who was then almost 34.

If you do the math, here, you’ll see that there was more of an age difference between me and MY partner (10 years) than there was between me and this teen boy (8 years), whom I’ll call “Alan.” If we had waited to be sexual 2 more years, no one would have looked twice at us, particularly if I had been the male and Alan had been the female.

My primary partner and I had agreed to have an “open” relationship (it was 1978) with regular communication and many opportunities to be with others that we optioned (temporarily, usually) while together as “primaries.” This agreement predated my meeting Alan by many months, but meant my considering having other sexual partners was not unusual at that time.

I lived near Alan for about 6 months; for the last three months or so, he periodically came on to me, begging me to have sex with him. At first, I had laughed; I told him “no” many times. As a middle-school teacher in the years prior to that, I told him, I had students his age. It felt too weird, I told him, and I just couldn’t manage to feel good about our age gap. He kept point to me and my primary and calling me a hypocrite, and I couldn’t totally disagree with that assessment.

As we continued to spend time together: we hung out, smoked pot (his), attended neighborhood birthday parties and other events with others and became friends, of a sort: we talked, sharing books we had read; I let him use my 1967 VW Bug to learn to drive a stick shift for his driver’s license; we took beach walks.

In early August, after Alan’s repeated requests for sex for weeks and our having gotten to know each other better, I relented. I told him that we could make out a little but nothing further. Plus, we could only do that after he turned 16 and I turned 24 (later that month).

I reminded him that my partner and I were moving out of state in September or October. He told me that was fine with him, since he was going to go to an elite boarding school that fall for his junior and senior years, also out of state. It all felt very casual and short-term to us both, I thought.

With a sense of “summer romance” cast over our time together and an impending separation, after both of our birthdays we had a few “make-out” sessions, but never intercourse, as agreed. Our sexual encounters were brief, seemingly fun, and mostly involved smoking pot (again, his) and talking.

That fall, we parted ways for our northerly moves.

Turned out that his boarding school was only a thirty minutes’ drive from where we moved, so we got in touch later that fall. I visited him once at his new campus. I saw his dorm room, took him off campus for dinner (a rare treat for a boarder and much-appreciated), brought him back. No sex nor a hint of it, just friendship.

My partner and I moved further north soon after that. Alan and I drifted apart, as people at different stages in their lives do. My partner and I intentionally became parents about a year later and moved in with several others to live in community for many years. I assumed Alan had graduated high school, had gone on to college and had had his own life. I was correct: my partner had kept in touch with Alan’s mother over the years and would update me.

A few years ago, when we were both in our 50s, I received a PR notice about a film and a book she thought I’d like, by another friend who didn’t know I had known Alan. Alan had become somewhat famous: he had written/published one book, and a documentary of his book and life had been produced. The film was available online, so I then watched it. After viewing it and reading some reviews of his book, I visited his website. I got his email address from that and wrote to congratulate him.

To my shock, I received an angry email from Alan. He claimed in his message that I had “sexually abused” him when he had been 14. He said that it had taken him “years to get over it.” He was indignant that I would “get back in touch as if everything were fine between us.” He said that I “should have been arrested.” He demanded that I never contact him again.

I was flabbergasted.

I reviewed my memories and considered how to respond. Then, I emailed Alan back. I told him that I was very sorry that he felt that way and that he was so upset with me, but that he had gotten the facts wrong.

I then informed him/reminded him of these facts:
—First, I hadn’t even known Alan when he had been 14. I had met him in the winter of 1978, when he had been 15 1/2. I had only lived near him for those 6 months, until just after his 16th birthday.
—Second, while I realized that many laws and attitudes had changed since 1978, at that time it had not been all that unusual and had certainly not been illegal or abusive for us to have had sexual contact.
—Third, we had been a part of a larger community that had multigenerational skinny dipping, nude-optional Finnish-style saunas and pot lucks afterwards, and many other events that put teens and young adults together socially.
—Next, he had pursued me.
—Finally, even though he had not been “the adult,” I had not been that much older than he had been at that time and I certainly did not prey upon him (or anyone else).

I also admitted that perhaps I had not used the best judgment in agreeing to be sexual with him a few times, but he had been persistent and I, too, was a survivor of sexual abuse and didn’t have a lot of clarity at that age. I apologized, again, for any pain I may have caused him.

I sympathized, I told him, because of my own history, and I had no doubt that something abusive and inappropriate must have happened to him when had been 14 or even younger, but that the perpetrator was not I. Somehow, he had conflated the two situations and people.

I ended by honoring his wishes: I agreed not to contact him further and I wished him well.

He wrote back that I was forbidden ever to contact him again, but he did not respond directly to my corrections or apologies.

I have not contacted him since then (this was about five years ago).

Having remembered and had extensive therapy for all the sexual attacks, harassment, assaults and other problems I have actually endured/suffered in my life, I now wonder: What should I have done differently when Alan emailed me those accusations? Should I have merely apologized and slunk away? Was it wrong or irrelevant for me to have corrected his “facts”?

Can someone retroactively be considered a sexual predator or to have broken a law that did not yet exist when the actions occurred?

What about intentionality? Mutuality?

Some say an older teen (15-17 years old) cannot “give consent” because only adults (18+ years old) can give informed consent. BUT many states allow older teens to have adult privileges: teens ages 14 – 17 can (or could, until recently) get married (some without parental/guardian permission), leave high school, attend college, become legally emancipated and otherwise function as adults.

As someone who knows how sexual abuse and memories can become distorted in one’s mind over time, I do believe that Alan had been abused by someone when he was around 14 (or, perhaps, even younger). I am sad for him, but I do not feel guilty about what we did nor did I cause him that trauma.

I feel some regret. I especially felt remorse once I knew (decades later) that he probably had pursued having sex with me because of his having been abused two years or more prior to having known me; confusion and sexual acting out occur a lot in abuse survivors.

But, I did not feel at the time nor do I feel now that I was a “sexual predator” who “abused” Alan at age 16 when I was 24. I also do not think Jack should have been jailed for having sex with his fiance when he was 34 and she was 14, but that age difference is a harder one to accept, still.


What do we do, how do we talk to and treat, these men and women accused in #MeToo? Some of these “perpetrators” are of a different generation, familial or corporate culture, one in which those behaviors, attitudes, values and choices used to fit but do not now find acceptance into current cultural norms. Some of them are even guilty now of breaking laws, but some of those behaviors were “de rigueur” for dozens of years prior to that.

I am NOT excusing rape, child sexual exploitation and/or sexual assault, drugging or forcing a sexual partner (especially one who can’t fight back, is unconscious, is intoxicated). I reject anyone’s engaging in coercing, threatening or exhibitionism that constitutes uninvited and unwelcomed sexual activity, regardless of anyone’s cultural norms. I also do not accept cat-calls, lewd gestures or other sexual “claims” or threats, especially when perpetrated on strangers or one’s students, step-children or employees.

But, what about the “grey areas” of confusion, getting caught in between major changes, meaning no harm but now being found guilty of harm?

What do you think?

Comments appreciated. https://wp.me/p2bP0n-24E or http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Let’s #Swear & #Curse without Demeaning Females, Gays/Lesbians/Transgenders, Sexual Body Parts or Acts, Bodily Functions

Let’s #Swear & #Curse without Demeaning Females, Gays/Lesbians/Transgenders, Sexual Body Parts or Acts, Bodily Functions

from RealLife English

I am very tired of hearing/reading the same old curses and swears which demean, degrade, insult and brutalize females, GLBTs and human body parts, functions or sex acts.

Can’t we please be more creative AND less hurtful to particular groups of people?

I have loosely grouped these by the intentions or origins of their degradation. Any I forgot? Please feel free to add to this list, in the comments (https://wp.me/p2bP0n-24n).

I hereby declare a moratorium on the following words and phrases (when used expletives or insults), and their abbreviations, translations or close cousins.

PLEASE STOP USING THESE AS SWEAR WORDS:

motherfucker, mofo, MF, mother
fuck (in all its forms)
fuck-all
fuck-face
pussy, puss
wuss, wussie
cunt
cunt-licker
cunny
muff-muncher
muff
beaver
beaver-eater
twat
whore, ho
douche
douchebag

ass
ass-hat
ass-face
asshole, A-hole
ass-fucker
ass-licker
reamer
butt
butthole
butt-face
butt-fucker
dick
dick-head
dick-face
dick-wad
cock-sucker
schmuck
putz
schlong-face
pecker
pecker-head
pisher
bugger, buggered
bugger-all

fucker
fuck-head
fuck-wad
fuck-face

jerk
jerk-off

girly, girl, girls
bitch (as a noun), bitchy, bitch-face
slut
girly-man
wimp
gelding (not referring to a horse)
sister
washboard (when referring to small-breasted females)


And, I want us to stop using insults such as these, which demean based on physical limitations:
dummy, dumbo
four-eyes
crip
gimp


I hereby am setting up a challenge:
Let’s come up with NEW ways to curse and swear that actually utilize disgusting traits, behaviors, and values/attitudes of those truly despicable. I’ll start.

Add “damn,” “damned,” “stinking,” “disgusting,” “awful,” “selfish,” etc., to any or all of the following, and combine them any way that feels appropriate:

hypocrite
liar
fraud
fake, faker
pretender
con
thief
cheater
abuser
molester
harasser
rapist
shooter
murderer
killer
creep
crook
criminal



from CollegeHumor

What do you think about the insults that focus on low intelligence or limited functionality? I have negative feelings about these terms, when used to degrade,and mostly do not use these, either:

imbecile
idiot
moron
dope (as an insult, not drugs)
stupid
retard
fuck-tard


Also, feel free to use religion-based swears, if you’re all right with those and no one around you is offended. Do check.

I may also be able to tolerate insults that revolve around bowel movements and their consequences, although I do object to vilifying bodily functions. However, what about:

shit, shitty
shit-head
shit-balls
shit-face (but, with a “d,” it usually means very drunk)
bullshit
bull
fart
fart-face
blow-hard
gas-bag
crap, crappy, crapper


from https://www.slideshare.net/ilmseekers/bad-words


Please feel free to comment here: https://wp.me/p2bP0n-24n or visit: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

#Sexual Coercion/Force vs. Sexual/Peer Pressure: #Assault or Regret?

#Sexual Coercion/Force vs. Sexual/Peer Pressure: #Assault or Regret?

With all the reports pinging us daily—almost hourly—from women and men who report having been sexually assaulted, intimidated, forced/coerced, raped, tormented and otherwise abused by those in power, and with my own personal and professional experiences to add to #metoo, I am a great proponent of #timesup and have posted about my excitement about this cultural change before this.

LINKS HERE to previous posts:
#metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen from October, 2017
https://sallyember.com/2017/10/16/justyournumber-and-wherewhatwhowhen/
and
REPOSTING: TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse, from December, 2017, and 2014 (original post)
https://sallyember.com/2017/12/07/ten-ways-to-encourage-victims-of-any-age-to-report-sexual-and-other-abuse/

HOWEVER, there are some cases in which an adult was NOT forced, not raped, not assaulted, but somehow felt pressured during or regret/remorse after a sexual encounter. Unfortunately, this person had apparently not verbally or physically clearly communicated to said partner their desire for the sexual activity to stop.

Those types of experiences are unpleasant for the person who felt less-than-good after the sexual encounter. However, these occurrences are NOT criminal or ethical violations of any kind and MUST NOT BE REPORTED as such.

I can’t emphasize enough how sympathetic and compassionate I am and hope others are for those who feel regret after having a sexual encounter. I certainly have had experiences like that, myself. BUT, it is unfair, illegal and inappropriate to blame, accuse or report to legal authorities that an incident was a sexual assault when it was not.

—Yes, we can, as adults (especially when younger, less powerful, beholden to the partner), feel intimidated and enter into sexual activity against our own preferences or better judgment.
—Yes, we, as adults, can and do feel or have been silenced by our own conditioning, wishes, emotions, family or trauma histories, into “going along” with someone else’s sexual lead.
—Yes, we, as adults, may frequently feel helpless, overwhelmed, unable to say “no” to sexual activity, particularly when we have been ambivalent about being sexual at that time with that person.
—We may repeatedly have gotten ourselves into sexual situations that we then regret but we were unwilling to leave or say “stop.”

BUT, the above situations (and their aftermaths) ARE NOT OUR PARTNERS’ FAULTS.

Who is responsible for the way we feel after being sexual with someone?

Ask yourself:

  • Was I clear?
  • Was I audible?
  • Was I putting into action what I said after I said “NO”? That is, did I leave, call for help, fight, yell? Unless we are being threatened with harm, these follow-ups are always options that should be utilized to enforce a “no” statement.
  • Was any force involved?
  • Was I threatened in any way?
  • Does this person have power over me, my job, my grade, my status, and therefore, made me feel forced to comply?

We can see which of these puts the responsibility onto us and which onto the other person. It should be obvious which are actually assault and which are not.

Here are some ways NOT to say “NO”: behaviors and statements that do not communicate “NO” clearly: and should not, by themselves, be expected to get our partners to stop or to know that we want to stop sexual contact or activity.

  1. Saying: “I’m pretty tired…” or “I’ve got to go…” and nothing else, then NOT LEAVING.
  2. Pushing our partners away but not getting up to leave when we physically can.
  3. Saying: “I don’t really want to…” but not getting up to leave when we physically can and not saying “NO, I don’t want to do that!” forcefully and clearly.
  4. Laughing when we say “Stop!” or “No!” or “Come on!” and only half-heartedly protesting (spaghetti-arms pushing instead of iron-arms pushing and punching, when necessary)—THESE are what make people think “NO” doesn’t mean “NO.”
  5. Crying but not saying anything, even when asked “Why are you crying?” Some people cry during orgasm, cry when in love and/or happy, cry when frustrated or otherwise upset but not objecting to sex. Clarify verbally and clearly WHY we are upset.
  6. Moving things along: Helping our partners take off our own or taking off our partner’s clothes, putting our partner’s hands on our body, kissing our partners and acting as if we like having sexual contact. These do NOT communicate “NO,” regardless of how little we actually enjoy(ed) the sexual contact.
  7. Telling our partners “I’m scared,” but not saying “I want to STOP… [sexual activity] RIGHT NOW!”
  8. Pretending we’re (or actually)
    —a) having our periods
    —b) saying that we are not feeling well
    —c) indicating that we have to leave early
    —d) showing that we have to take this call, etc.

    Any of these COULD stop sex, but may not, especially when we are NOT LEAVING when we physically can and have not said “NO” or “STOP!”

When we have not been clear with our partners, we cannot blame our partners for our dissatisfaction, unhappiness, regret or anger afterwards.


from http://whisper.sh/whisper/0519fe273aee4c114380778ad9cb73d2849864/Sexual-regret-is-not-rape-Anyone-that-makes-that-claim-should-be-prose

We HAVE TO communicate clearly and verbally when we do not want to be sexual at a particular time. Even once sex starts or even if we have had sex with this person before, we have every right to stop sexual activity, any time, anywhere. BUT, there is no way for our partner to be certain that they should stop if we do not SAY “STOP.”

I am very disturbed by this dilemma. I have heard reports from people I love, admire, respect and trust (and I do not trust many people, believe me!) who have told me that they have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct. I BELIEVE THEM (even though my first instinct is to believe those who claim to have been mistreated) because they tell me there was no communication that let them know that their partner was unhappy or wanted to stop the sexual encounter at the time.

We are complicated beings. We often have “buyer’s remorse” or we feel “morning after” regret after we have been sexual with someone. However, FEELINGS are not FACTS. Just because you felt pressured does not mean that you were forced.

Once we have our clearer-sighted review of our actions and the accompanying feelings, we could feel terribly sad or bad about having been sexual with that person. BUT, these feelings do not become actual reasons for us to accuse our sexual partners—quite unfairly and illegally—of having assaulted us. WE HAVE TO STOP DOING THAT.

Everyone who abdicates our own responsibility and falsely accuses someone of sexual assault puts all legitimate reports of sexual assault at risk of being disbelieved.


from http://whisper.sh/whisper/04f9efff45ae1599221816c2357ed4ad95bef/Were-you-forced-into-sexsexual-acts–Then-yesDo-you-regret-sleeping

If we decide to be sexual with someone and later regret it, or, even in the moment, feel ambivalent but continue, anyway, we have no one to blame but yourselves. We need to get some therapy, some personal support, not an attorney.

FREE ADVICE:

GET CONSENT! If the person you are wanting to be sexual with is a minor (not a legal adult), or is not in their right mind, or is passed out or asleep or otherwise unable to give consent, DO NOT HAVE SEX. Simple.

Stop being sexual if you are drunk, on drugs, too tired or somehow unable to advocate for yourself.

Be celibate until you can be responsible. THAT is a decision you will not regret.

My response to an extremely disturbing and misleading post about #meditation and #yoga

My response to an extremely disturbing and misleading post about #meditation and #yoga: “Meditation and Yoga: A deeper Look into Practices that are Deceiving Christians Today.” Link to full post, below.

#Meditators, #Buddhists, #Hindus, and anyone who practices either #Christianity or yoga will be particularly interested in this “discussion.”

Warning one: if you are a #Christian who meditates or does yoga, this entire situation will REALLY bother you in ways I can’t even begin to predict. I do apologize, even though none of this is on me except for my response, below (which the blog posters probably will delete, so that is the reason I post it all here).

Warning two: the full article is extremely lengthy. If you don’t want to read it all, I certainly understand.

If you’d like to know more and TRUE information about meditation or yoga, please find a reputable source, such as a qualified and experienced yoga or meditation teacher near you, and/or read accurate books, such as Gates to Buddhist Practice or Being Peace, or pick up a magazine that focuses on either topic which has been around for many years, such as Yoga Journal or Lion’s Roar, and/or talk to actual people who have spent many years practicing/teaching meditation or yoga.

Please leave comments HERE, since these posters will probably delete yours as well: http://www.sallyember.com/blog or here: https://wp.me/p2bP0n-23k

MY RESPONSE:

Apparently, you and Carolyn consider yourselves to be the only types of legitimate “Christians” who are allowed to exist and be safe from “satan” and wrong thinking; somehow, you have deemed yourselves entitled to tell everyone else how wrong their practices, beliefs, churches, leaders and family members are. The sin of PRIDE mean much to you?

Also, there are so many false and misleading statements in this article, particularly those things listed under the headings “Truth” and your so-called “definitions” of words you know nothing about, that I can’t even go point by point: it would take weeks.

Since you both believe in hell, you will undoubtedly burn in hell for all eternity for spreading this kind of deceptive, hateful, untrue, ridiculous and disgustingly ignorant message disguised as “helpful information about ‘meditation’ and ‘yoga.'” You are horribly wrong IN EVERY WAY and you are hurting people (many of whom ARE actually Christians) who are tremendously benefiting from having these practices in their lives.

The best I can hope for you two is that, after you die, you both reincarnate as BUDDHISTS to find out how wrong you are.

If you have any integrity at all, you will NOT delete this comment. I expect, however, that it will disappear. SO I am copying it and pasting it onto my blog, with your link, and that will cross-post to dozens of places and reach thousands of people.

LINK TO THE FULL ARTICLE:
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/127642918/posts/5538

At Least 5 Reasons NOT to get a #Flu Shot This Year (or any year)

At Least 5 Reasons NOT to get a #Flu Shot This Year (or any year)

Yes, you can find hundreds of articles that tell you that everyone between 6 months and 100 years old MUST get a flu shot. But, if you read the references for those articles, they are clearly paid for and written by those who work for the mainstream medical/pharmaceutical industries.

Here are some that are NOT from those sources, but are nonetheless reliable, factual and important to read before deciding to get a flu shot this year (or any year).

BTW: If you’re reading this on January 1, 2018, it is almost officially too late in most of the world to have a flu shot be effective (it takes 2 – 3 weeks to work, IF it works; flu season is generally thought to be over by the end of January).

Some good reasons:
—There is little proof the flu vaccine is effective.

—Vaccines contain harmful adjuvants and preservatives, and possibly viral proteins.

—Influenza is not a serious threat.

from: Why Not To Get the Flu Shot
http://www.sophiahi.com/why-not-to-get-the-flu-shot/

And, more or similar reasons:
—Studies Consistently Show Flu Shots Don’t Work

—There has been no decrease in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, despite the fact that vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent today.

—The flu vaccine was no more effective for children than a placebo.

from: Why You Should Not Get the Flu Shot
https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/why-you-should-not-get-the-flu-shot

These are my favorite reasons, here:
—It’s not effective for children under age 18 or for adults over 65.

—Between ages 18 to 65, it is only 30-50% effective in an average year (which means it fails between 50-70% of the time) and up to 80% in a perfectly matched year (a much lower number than most vaccines). THIS iS NOT a “perfectly matched year” by anyone’s reckoning (2017-18).

—There is no decrease in flu transmission rate or hospitalization rate for people who have gotten the flu vaccine.
from: Why Smart Doctors Don’t Get Flu Shots
http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/smart-doctors-dont-get-flu-shots/

IF YOU DO GET A FLU SHOT, do not get it too “early,” since it is only effective (IF it is effective that year) for about 2 – 3 months.
ALSO, do not wait too long (since it takes 2 – 3 weeks to “kick in,” IF it is even for the current strain of flu that year (which it often is not).
THESE facts are from the CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL.

Good luck, drink lots of fluids, wash your hands and cover your coughs.

2 personal and 3 national/global feasible #goals and some optimistic personal and national/global goals to reach by 1/1/18 or during 2018

2 personal and 3 national/global feasible #goals and some optimistic personal and national/global goals to reach by 1/1/18 or during 2018

My two personal #feasiblegoals to reach by 1/1/18:
ART: to have completed 365 #coloring pages for 2017 (I am at 354 for 12/16/17; began 1/1/17);
HEALTH: to have attained a body weight of and remain in “onederland” (I am 2 pounds away from that goal, 12/15/17), which represents a weight loss of at least 50# since April, 2017.


Prediction of environmental trends. Scenarios. Goals.
SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time.
Resources. Feasible but stretching.
Actions. Specific, clear, integrated, fit with goals.
Changes: flexible and creative.


from FOUNDATION OF PLANNING, by Shannon Cain, http://slideplayer.com/slide/5299846/

National/Global #feasiblegoals for 2018:
— for the USA Congress to defeat the outrageous “tax cut” bill
— for the USA Congress repeal/outvote the ridiculous, greedy FCC vote so that we can maintain Net Neutrality
— for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to have definitely demonstrated the complicity/treason and guilt of Trump and his sons, Kushner, and VP Pence, signing their subpoenas and guaranteeing their removals, paving the way for a special election in 2018

National/Global #optimisticgoals for 2018:


from davidjrogersftw

world peace/ending/preventing all wars and violent military actions, especially those with USA involvement
— an end to hunger and poverty around the world
— talks about a guaranteed personal annual income to have started in the USA
— cancellation of all student college debt and removal of all those who hold and offer such predatory loans
national healthcare with no limitations and no cost to/for all
— for the USA to implement compassionate addiction programs including the decriminalizing and release from incarceration for all drug and alcohol violations/violators that do/did not involve other crimes (like in Portugal), and more adequate social support and counseling provided, free


from A Green Road Journal, http://www.agreenroadjournal.com/2013/09/drug-laws-in-portugal-more-progressive.html

STOP all sexual harassers/assaulters (make sure they are all revealed, removed, incarcerated, stopped)
— all men removed from leadership/authority positions for sexual misconduct to be replaced by competent women (when possible) and non-offending men (when necessary)
housing for all, such as tiny homes, apartments, platform tents and other appropriate housing provided free to all those without secure housing around the world


from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/17/tiny-homes-madison-wiscon_n_6171634.html

freeing of all innocent and unfairly incarcerated individuals, and financial compensation provided to them for all time imprisoned and for losses (of family, jobs, reputation and mental/physical health)
STOP GREED: removal of all tax shelters, foreign bank accounts and other hoarding locations (extra housing, yachts, cars, jewelry) from all who gained their wealth illegally and immorally; release of these ill-gotten gains to pay for many of the above
— release of all “illegal” immigrants from incarceration, no more criminalizing immigration/immigrants. Granting immediate citizenship to all who seek it, unless they are known to be criminals; OPEN THE BORDERS
clean and accessible water and sufficient, healthy food for all those around the world

My personal #optimisticgoals:
WRITING: finish writing and acquire funds to cover the costs of the cover for Volume IV and make a lot of progress with Volume V of The Spanners Series

LIFE: make some more friends/have more of a social life
— do at least one 2-week Buddhist meditation retreat
earn more money! get a PT job and/or find another way to earn more money regularly, within “right livelihood” principles. Could be from editing/proofreading, selling my sci-fi books, writing coaching/tutoring, working at a nonprofit organization, teaching


from Tention Free


If you’d like to help support the attaining of my personal Goals:
please check out my PayPal donation button on my website, http://www.sallyember.com (look right);
or,
go to my Patreon #crowdfunding page: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember Some donations earn “rewards,” which are explained on my Patreon pages.


Your goals? Please comment! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

REPOSTING: TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse

REPOSTING, from 2014:
Because of the uproar over the continually surfacing reports of sexual assault perpetrated by [SO MANY MORE THAN] Bill Cosby on now-adult (or then-adult) women, these topics are now front-and-center in the media and, I hope, in private as well. Why do people refrain from reporting right after having been assaulted? Many reasons.

Let’s NOT give them reasons to keep silent any more!

Here are TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse. Learn, use them, SHARE!

ONE
Believe what they tell you until you’re sure one way or the other. This is the one situation in which the accused should be considered guilty until proven innocent, especially when children are the victims. It is hard enough to come forward with a report of an assault, especially after a long time has passed. The likelihood that this report is false is very low.

TWO
Be outraged on their behalf. Consider that this IS true and this DID happen: aren’t you incensed? This is NOT the time to be doubting or dismissive. If, in the very rare cases that it occurs, this turns out not to be an accurate report or did not happen, you have lost nothing but some time and your trust in this person.

If, however, it is TRUE—a report of assault usually is—this crime or repeated crimes occurred. If you do not respond as an advocate, you will regret it for the rest of your life. It will do irreparable harm to the victim, to you and to your relationship for you to have doubted him/her in a time of great need. If you had been in a position to prevent or protect and you did not succeed prior to this, you are especially culpable. By not believing, you will have doubly failed him/her in a way that is usually unforgivable. If you do not actively support ending the crimes against him/her by continuing to fail to protect, you may actually be liable.

In some states, knowing of assault crimes and not preventing, reporting or otherwise behaving in ways that protect future victimization makes you a criminal: you are seen as a collaborator, an accessory, by knowing what you now know and keeping silent. This makes you potentially likely to be prosecuted yourself.

THREE
Allow your protective, compassionate aspects to prevail. You may feel very intense emotions as you listen to this report of a crime that hurt this person very badly: angry, helpless, scared, worried, anxious. However, this is NOT your time to vent. It is inappropriate to behave in such a way that the attention refocuses on YOU and your “hard time.” Be there for the victim right now, even if you were somehow involved or feel guilty. Control your emotions enough so that you can vent some other time, with someone else.

NOTE: If you know the perpetrator, especially if the perpetrator is someone you are related to by family or friendship, is a workplace or school peer, is someone you live near or have to see often, protect yourself.

DO NOT CONFRONT the perpetrator by yourself unless you are sure you are safe to do so. There are authorities, support groups, other friends or family members who can accompany you or do the confronting. Let them do it.

FOUR
Ignore any past dishonesty, prevarication, or other “reasons” to doubt the reporter or the report. The “rape shield” law is there for many reasons, and this is the major one: the VICTIM’s past behaviors, character or misdeeds DO NOT MATTER here.

The only person responsible for an assault is the perpetrator. Period. No one “made” him/her do it. It doesn’t matter what the perpetrator claims were “causes,” particularly if the perpetrator tries to turn it back on the victim. “She asked for it,” “He liked it,” “We’ve been close like that plenty of times before” are all excuses and do not absolve the perpetrator from criminal charges if an assault occurred. “No” means “No.”

FIVE
Treat sexual assault, abuse of children, rape, child molestation as the CRIMES that they are. Assault is not an “accident,” a “misunderstanding,” a “joke,” a “one-time thing,” “just the way things are.” We each have the right NOT to be violated by another person. Period.

Also, DO NOT AGREE to keep this a “secret,” even if the victim begs you not to tell. Maintaining secrecy is NOT doing any favors for this victim. Really.

If the victim is a legal adult, you can discuss how, when, to whom this report should be made, and ways you can support the further reporting. However, if s/he won’t agree to tell anyone else, you should not promise to maintain this secret. The perpetrator WILL NOT STOP until s/he is forced to stop. Usually, stopping happens only when the criminal is arrested and incarcerated.

Remind him/her: potential future victims could be protected—saved—by this victim’s report because every report helps lead to subsequent arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of the perpetrator.

Reporting is empowering and liberating. Keeping the crime a secret is neither of those.

Some people who are members of religious, cultural or family groups are victimized repeatedly but group sanctions prevent reporting. YOU CAN HELP by following these guidelines and being sensitive to the extra barriers for victims in these groups.

Native American rape stats

image from a Board on Pinterest called “Anti-Rape and Feminism” http://www.pinterest.com/allysuperbee/anti-rape-and-feminism/

For more about reporting requirements when USA adult women are the victims: http://goo.gl/eT2lA2
The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women
American Prosecutors Research Institute
1-703-549-9222

For more information about male victims of violence in the USA: http://www.ncadv.org/files/MaleVictims.pdf
from The Public Policy Office of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
(NCADV)

NOTE: If you are listening to a report from a minor, a child, and you are an adult, in many states ALL adults are “mandatory reporters.” This means you MUST take notes and call or send in your notes to authorities when you hear of child victimization, even if you’re uncertain as to the veracity of the claim. You are a mandatory reporter and MUST report if you work or volunteer in certain occupations in most states. Find your county, province, parish or state’s reporting phone number or email and USE IT.

Ethically, legally, morally, you SHOULD report in order to stop crimes by this perpetrator from recurring and to protect the victim from future assaults. You must try to make sure the child is safe going forward. HOWEVER, if you are NOT a mandatory reporter, not in social services, not a family member, get some advice and support.

SIX
Keep any shame, guilt, humiliation or other baggage of yours or from his/her past OUT of this conversation. Whatever they said/did not say, wore, did/did not do, wherever they were located, however he/she conducted his/her life, THIS IS NOT THE VICTIM’s FAULT.

Rapists rape. Child molesters molest. Assaulters assault. Criminals commit crimes. Period.

Also, use the correct language: language is powerful. Calling someone a “pedophile” doesn’t even sound as bad as “child molester,” so use “child molester” or “perpetrator of sexual assault on a minor child.” Both are accurate and give appropriate weight to the crimes. “Sexual harassment” is NOT the same as “rape,” but they are both crimes. Learn what each of those circumstances includes.

“Date rape,” “acquaintance rape” or “dating violence” labels reduce the significance of the assault by positioning familiarity as the main label. Don’t downgrade the importance and don’t minimize the impact in these ways, because studies have shown that victims who knew their perpetrators suffered longer and more intensely.

Why? Because victims who knew their assaulters were not just physically assaulted, they were often emotionally terrorized prior to and after the assault, devastated by the breach of trust, intimidated and threatened by the perpetrator to prevent reporting, and forced to continue to be in the presence of the perpetrator after the assault occurred or while assaults continued.


SAAM-Pic-_1

image from http://www.reachofmaconcounty.org

SEVEN
Recognize and honor the trust this person is putting in you by revealing this information. THANK THEM for telling you. Become his/her advocate. Guide him/her to understand that secrecy only protects the perpetrator. Strongly, kindly encourage him/her to tell more people, especially police or other legal officials, even if the statute of limitations prevents arrest or prosecution.

NOTE: Almost ALL perpetrators have more than one victim, over many years. Every accusation publicly recorded helps police follow the perpetrator’s trail to a newer victim so that arrest and prosecution CAN occur.

EIGHT
Acknowledge the courage it took for them to come forward, regardless of how long it took them to do so. It doesn’t matter if the assault occurred twenty minutes or twenty years ago: right now, the violation and injury are “current” for the victim. Consider that while they are telling you about their pain, fear, sorrow, confusion, hurt, anger.

NINE
DO NOT ASK them what they were doing, “how it happened,” or any other victim-blaming questions. There will be plenty of time to get the “whole story.” While they talk, you LISTEN. When they are finished talking, help him/her decide what to do next. Speak soothingly. Hold them while they cry. Offer tissues. You are not the prosecutor. It is NOT your role to cross-examine or overly question them at this time. Be kind. Remember your relationship.

Causes of Rape

image from https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/rapists-cause-rape

TEN
Encourage them to go/go with them to a hospital if the assault happened within the last 24-48 hours. This is the critical time to collect evidence, get examined, be treated, etc. If the victim has not yet bathed or showered, convince him/her not to do that until after the forensic and medical exams. Take charge. Drive/accompany him/her.

#metoo


RESOURCES
There are many resources available to educate yourself and others with more than these ten recommendations. Here is a great one, The Pennsylvania Coaltion Against Rape (PCAR): http://www.pcar.org/blog/common-victim-behaviors-survivors-sexual-abuse

Here are some more:

USA “hotline” reporting phone numbers:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD

For more information and to report assault of USA women (applies to men as well): Rape and Sexual Assault Reporting Laws, from The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women (NCPVAW) http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_1_no_3_2006.pdf

and, [during the OBAMA administration, there was a report generated by the] USA White House in January, 2014, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, for assaults against women and girls (applies to males as well): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sexual_assault_report_1-21-14.pdf

For more information and to understand the laws about reporting crimes against USA children/youth:
Child Help USA (for victims, offenders and parents) 800-4-A-CHILD or (800-422-4453)

Help for USA youth victims:

National Youth Crisis Home (a referral hotline for youth in crisis)

1-800-HIT- HOME (800-448-4663)

I hope this post helps you and future victims experience better receptivity, support and aid. SHARE.

#metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

REPOSTING, from about one year ago, adding the new hashtag: #metoo

It is with great sadness and anger that I have heard about (and read a few of) the disgusting responses on social media to the bringing forward of reports of the sexual predation prevalent in Hollywood, politics, academia: EVERYWHERE. These remarks have been cruelly and ignorantly denigrating and re-traumatizing sexual assault survivors.

BELIEVE US.

maxresdefault
from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDLVDzaw2vc

I noticed that whatever details a survivor provided, some creeps decide to question, argue, judge or condemn, doubting and despising her for reporting her experiences.

I call BULLSHIT.

bullshit-pile
from http://Canstockphoto.com

Is anyone unclear on this concept? Really?

sa-definition
from Human Response Network

Give them nothing to respond to except a number, I say. Then, where is the argument?

#justyournumber (mine is a countable 46, but decidedly higher) allows survivors to report our sexual assaults, molestations, public exposures, sexual coercions, rapes, and any other kinds of private or public sexual threats, to be counted. No arguing.

Then, I thought, what about locations or one or two salient facts? Let’s provide those lucky enough to have no or low numbers or anyone else who is interested with some context. We need more people to begin to grasp the breadth of the problem.

By the way, when you read my or anyone’s list, imagine trying to “report” these incidents: to whom? with what results?

#justyournumbers is now joined by #wherewhatwhowhen

46
—30+ assaults by “family friends,” teachers and family members, starting at age 5, including a step-uncle who was a teacher. This man assaulted me (at age 10) in his classroom after school while my grandmother and his father (her second husband) were talking in the hallway outside the classroom. Our 6th-grade teacher, Ken Weber (long dead), at Central School in Olivette, Missouri, molested almost every girl in my class whose breasts had begun to develop by “dropping” paper clips, chalk or pencils down the fronts of our blouses and retrieving them with his own hand. As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, all the female students were required to strip down to our underwear and pose for “posture pictures” during our Physical Education “exam.” I later found out that these questionably obtained “soft porn” shots were circulated, sold and posted in multiple locations for many decades;

—3 assaults on a bus (2 public exposures and 1 molestation), all while in my pre-teen/teen years. One very large young adult who was one of my “campers” had Down’s Syndrome. When he molested me by trapping me in the aisle of the bus (he was 6′ tall and about 225 pounds to my 5’1″ and 120 pounds) and mashing his hands all over my breasts, the older counselor told me “he couldn’t help it” and not to yell at him, but just to “push him away and go sit down.” This was in 1972 in St. Louis, Missouri;

—2 assaults/maulings while walking in daylight in public spaces on a college campus. One was a teen on a bicycle who grabbed my breast, squeezed hard, laughed and rode away; I was in my 30s. I DID go to the “campus police” who practically laughed and didn’t even write down my report. This was at Yale University in the 1980s (I was there attending a professional conference).

—3 molestations/assaults by employers/supervisors, starting in college and continuing through my young adult years. While working in Food Service in the dorms’ cafeteria as part of my Work-Study financial aid program at the University of Wisconsin/Madison in 1972, a supervisor trapped me in the storage area, assaulted and tried to rape me. I managed to kick him in the groin and get away. I never went back to that job and had to find another one;

—3 sexual coercions involving drugs in private homes at parties, by high school peers;

—5 sexual assaults by “dates” (whom I did not date again) who grabbed/fingered me without asking before I even knew they were going to do that, starting in my early twenties and spanning into my late 50s, in cars, private homes, an outdoor party, a beach.

There were also uncountable male psychopaths, strangers who felt entitled to engage in assaults on my body via random ass-grabbing, “accidental brush-bys” and other groping and sexual attacks, including making kissing or sucking sounds, while I rode on public transportation vehicles or stood in waiting areas and hallways in various USA cities, throughout my teen and young adult years.

Some jerks repeatedly yell out horrible, horrendous street harassment comments, known unaffectionately as “cat-calls,” most accompanied by graphic gestures, pseudo-sexual sound-effects along with vulgar and completely offensive language whenever any female happens to be in sight of them by being on a sidewalk or an urban construction site’s walkway. These are also too numerous to track, occurring throughout my life until quite recently (I am now 63).

wednesday-asking-about-cat-calls
from https://dev.theodysseyonline.com/when-the-cat-calls-dont-answer

Send respect, healing, caring and compassion to all survivors and shut the disrespectful morons up completely.

Add your stories or number or both on your social media of choice: #metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the #USA: #brilliantideas

4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the USA: #brilliantideas


image from NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth [Jewish] https://nfty.org/take-action/gvp/

  1. Make it too expensive to have shootings:


    image from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    Unfortunately, this country runs on money. We all know insurance companies run this country. And, most people’s families have a lot of influence and responsibility for their members.
    When gun violence becomes too expensive, insurance companies will move to change it quickly. When shooter’s embarrass and COST their families money, family members(parents, grandparents, spouses/partners, children) will move more quickly to prevent/shut those shooters down/report them BEFORE they go on rampages.

    So: charge each criminal shooter’s FAMILY and any insurance companies he [99% of shooters are male] uses FOR ANY REASON (car, house, boat, life, disability: whatever) to pay for the health care, recovery, rehab, burial, therapy, income losses, personal injury debilitation, PTSD and other costs associated with being shot at/shot.

  2. #NRA Lobbyists and Members must pay:


    image from http://EverytownResearch.org

    We all know that the NRA—National Rifle Association of America—and other gun association lobbyists have prevented the passage of reasonable gun safety laws. We must hold them ALL accountable NOW. For every dollar a lobbyist “donates,” s/he must provide the same amount to compensate victims and communities for gun violence. I promise: donations will disappear!

    SO: charge the NRA members EACH 10% of ALL gun violence costs not covered, above, for example: for all site clean up, hospital, ER, ambulance, policing, EMT expenses and other community costs associated with dealing with gun violence OF ANY KIND (domestic, hijackings, criminals, shooters, gangs, robberies, terrorists: whatever).

  3. Tax all profits:


    image and statistics from Mother Jones magazine

    Those who profit from any dangerous, harmful or otherwise socially destructive and/or unnecessary products have been made to pay for its consequences already via taxes in the USA (think: cigarettes, gasoline, luxury items like yachts, etc.). Why should gun and ammo profiteers be exempt?

    So: charge each gun show operator, gun shop owner, or owners/operators or profiteers of ANYWHERE that sells guns and/or ammunition, onsite OR ONLINE (pawn shops, hardware stores, “sports” stores, “hunting” stores, etc.) a VIOLENCE #TAX on EACH item sold that could be used to harm people. I think a 20% tax of each sale would be a sufficient disincentive both to purchase and to sell. That money shall go to cover the costs accrued in #1, 2, and 4 of this list as well AND gun safety classes, gun violence prevention seminars and other educational programs REQUIRED for ALL GUN OWNERS and USERS to attend ANNUALLY (this includes military, police and others who “legally” use guns).

  4. Pay until you do better:


    image of and quote from Gabrielle Giffords

    Our Congressional Representatives (those elected to either the House or Senate, federal and state legislatures) respond to only two kinds of pressure: money (donations, bribes, extortions) and non-election threats. Let’s use BOTH, here. They will change their votes or go broke (and probably get voted out as well). YAY!
    Make them pay out of their PERSONAL accounts (cannot use campaign, PAC or other non-personal monies to pay these fines)

    So: charge each Congressional Rep a FINE if s/he votes AGAINST gun safety, gun control, gun laws OF ANY KIND another 10% of the total costs, above, AND use these fines to cover FUTURE gun violence costs, such as extra policing, compensation to families of victims, compensation for employers/workplaces of victims, funds for repairs to venues where shootings occurred, compensations to property owners/users of sites where shootings occurred, compensation to neighborhoods in which decreasing property values occur because of being the sites or being NEAR the sites of gun violence, etc.


image from http://momsdemandaction.org

See how fast the gun laws change!

What do you think? Comment here.
NOTE: reasonable, constructive, useful suggestions/questions, ONLY; the rest will NOT be approved and will be deleted. Use: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist (and two other, actual experts…)

Here are two great sources of info about the overall genre of Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic) and all its subgenres, (also the two main sources of the images, below):
About Speculative Fiction, from blogger/author, Sherry D. Ramsey at http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005; and,
The Difference between Speculative Fiction and Science-Fiction, from SPi Global, at http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/


from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

So, you don’t have to go by my jaded, biased, perhaps not entirely fair or accurate descriptions, below.

Also, check out many of the Spec Fic online and hard-copy ‘zines and subscription magazines that publish short stories, plays, graphic novels or excerpts, art, poetry, novellas and announcements, such as: Heliotrope: Online Speculative Fiction Magazine, http://www.heliotropemag.com/

JUST MY OPINIONS, below.

  • Science-Fiction (also known as sci-fi):
    ◙ Stories about what could be or might have been that feature science, tech, weaponry that does not exist (yet); mostly written by men and somewhat invisible women; mostly about men and almost invisible women; if in graphic novel form, the females are scantily clad for no apparent reason, while men are wearing body armor; mostly about men, with one or no female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If politically and/or social commentary-oriented, can illustrate the ways our current cultures are harsh (but accurate) regarding racist, species-ist, misogynistic practices and attitudes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually not in the first parts of a series.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • “Hard” Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Futuristic stories mostly about the male “heroes” (and steroid/testosterone-ridden women, cyborgs and robots) fighting alone or in groups against whom/whatever, using lots of weaponry and spaceships; see above, for costuming; mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males or inhabit computers.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If dystopian (typically), often includes destruction of one or more planet, victors’ having slaves, horrible classism and race/species discrimination and other awful plot points and outcomes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but can be reborn into tech creatures. Often, a “space opera” that spans many years/centuries and vast expanses.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Steam-Punk Fantasy/Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Stories about what might have been or could be, written by both men and women; depicts women in low bodices, wearing corsets, and carrying fans; men have pocket watches, vests, and private (“public” in England) educations or tutors; everything is run by steam engines; characters are mostly Anglo and espouse or resist British/American Anglo upper- and middle-class Victorian values (e.g., either virginal or whorish women, class distinctions, elitist “manners,” rigidly gender-ized clothing); stories are mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If there are GLBT characters, they are usually depicted as deranged/homicidal, stereotypes, and/or objects of ridicule or pity. Rarely has human characters who are not Anglo (so I deliberately included a drawing that has males of color, here).
    ◙ Can include murders and other crimes in which females are the victims or need to be rescued.
    ◙ May not be clear who the “bad” guys are, at first (think, prostitute or crime lord with the “heart of gold”).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from https://writingcareer.com/black-power-the-superhero-anthology-is-seeking/

    This anthology, whose prototype cover is above, Black Power: Superheroes of Color, was released last month, February, 2017: https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2017/02/27/black-power-the-superhero-anthology/
    edited by Balogun Ojetade, with a great line-up of authors within it.

    Real cover:

  • Fantasy:
    ◙ Usually set in some pseudo-medieval or -Renaissance, Earth-like setting or Earth’s own possible past or present, but with talking animals, mythical creatures, imaginary creatures (e.g., fairies, gnomes, dwarves, trolls, dragons, giants, ogres, witches, warlocks, wizards); usually includes some kind of magic or pseudo-science mixed with magic; if there are non-human creatures, they are almost always male or overly glamorized females (large breasts, small waists, heavy make-up); could have human shape-shifters who usually become large predators (wolves, bears, lions, panthers, etc.); can have vampires, whose subplots usually include some kind of incapacitation and then sexual assault accompanying the blood-sucking, usually of women by both males and females.
    ◙ Always has “good guys” and “bad guys,” with the “good guys” prevailing in the end.
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • High Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but with more court-like/royal characters and class conflicts/settings; usually some star-crossed royalty romance for the teen or young adult main characters that ends HEA (Happily Ever After); usually has dragons or other mythical creatures centrally featured; for specious reasons, characters often speak in upper-class British accents/styles and/or insert French- or Spanish-sounding words randomly; often heavily laced with sword fights, quests, riddles and other “tests” for the main characters (usually male), which they have to lose at least twice before becoming victorious (“getting the girl” is usually part of their “prize”).
    ◙ Duels are common.
    ◙ Usually HEA (Happily Ever After).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless they’re old or can become mythologized and/or unless already replaced by a successor.


    from the cover of Issue 5 of http://www.heliotropemag.com/

  • Urban Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but set in decaying cities; usually dystopian/post-apocalyptic; can blend magic with tech, though not as originally or interestingly as the author believes; not enough female characters and frequent fighting among the males; duels are common; cyborgs, androids, political and social tyrants, crime and criminals abound.
    ◙ Only HEA (Happily Ever After) for about 3 “beats,” then more fighting.
    ◙ “Good Guys” can be ethically challenged and compromised frequently.
    ◙ Main characters can die.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Dark Fantasy:
    ◙ Exactly like one or both of the above Fantasy genres, but with more sex (sometimes BDSM or hard-core porn, here); lots of blood, gore, fighting, elements of Horror, etc.; has conflicts that maim, kill off or otherwise harm the female characters severely, who then need to be rescued (when possible); hauntings, ghosts, evil from other dimensions and realms, summonings gone wrong and other horror-like elements can occur frequently, usually showing the main characters to be idiots; features ominous castles and fortresses a lot.
    ◙ Does not usually go with HEA (Happily Ever After) because the main characters get to be “happy” (have amazing sex and lie around together afterwards) for about 3 “beats” before someone tries to kill one or both of them.
    ◙ Main characters can be cursed, ensorceled and/or die.


    from http://wallpaper-gallery.net/wallpapers/dark-fantasy-wallpapers.html

  • Horror:
    ◙ Similar to Dark Fantasy or Dystopian Sci-Fi, but with more gore, blood, death, suspense, killing, maiming, scaring, scarring, psychological and physical trauma of all kinds as both the causes/ motivations and outcomes for the characters AND the readers (can you tell I do not read Horror?); often has demons, demonic forces, battles between “good” and “evil” embodied in various physical and spirit bodies.
    ◙ Doesn’t even think about including “Happy” endings, except as punctuation marks between disasters and/or parodies.
    ◙ Main characters can and do die, usually horrifically (pun intended).


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction (usually known as YA Spec Fic):
    ◙ Usually dystopian, futuristic Sci-fi or Fantasy; features an abundance of orphans or single-parent-raised main characters; usually has one female for every two male main characters; often includes a plot/characterization that starts with the MC as an undistinguished, low-living, bullied, betrayed, enslaved or harried young person who then experiences the uncovering of special powers or previously unknown importance revealed in the first few chapters.
    ◙ Big on “destiny,” “fate,” “saving the world” and such…really, the MCs are attempting to help only a small number of beings within or a local geographic section of their/”our” world.
    ◙ Can be leaning more toward Fantasy or Sci-fi or blend both.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually only within an extended series; most do not.
    NOTE: YA Spec Fic is probably the best source among all Spec Fic subgenres for finding stories that feature people of color, those with disabilities or who are neuro-atypical, queer and other non-mainstream main characters and sidekicks.


image from a guest post by Julia Ember (no relation) on Jamie Kramer’s Books and Ladders blog, http://booksandladders.blogspot.com/2016/06/guestpost-unicorn-tracks-by-julia-ember.html


I told you I was jaded. I am not the only one, by any means. The following quote and analysis (please read entire article; link below) sums up my major complaints perfectly:

[Spec Fic is] not just about shiny, phallic rocket ships populated by deep-in-the-closet Aryan brethren conquering the Final Frontier, people. It’s about different futures, alternate realities, dangerous fantasies. You’d think such places, where dragons dwell, would be heavily populated with equally unusual people, but nope. Looks like everybody important there is white, male, anglophone and straight. Not to mention perfectly healthy physically and mentally.

—penned by Paula R. Stiles, “Diversity in Speculative Fiction,” on http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/diversity-in-speculative-fiction/, from the Dec., 2016 (Issue 60) – People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue [NOTE: “Fantasy Magazine has merged with its sister publication, Lightspeed, so this site will no longer be updated with new content. However, the fiction and interviews you would have found here at Fantasy will now be part of Lightspeed, so please sign up for our newsletter (sent out once or twice a month) to receive updates about the release of new issues of Lightspeed Magazine, news about the magazine, and more.”]
——-Lightspeed Magazine also published, starting in 2014, Queers Destroy… each of the subgenres (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy), starting with Science-Fiction Special Issues, which you can find out about here: http://www.destroysf.com/queers/
And, on that same page, they have links to their POC [People of Color] Destroy… series of Special Issues for each subgenre (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy)


2015’s Queers Destroy Science-Fiction cover

—Women are at the forefront of these critiques and do them so well, I have so many to choose from. Here is another, from an interview conducted by Alexandra Alter with N. K. Jemisin [Jemisin was the the first African-American writer and the first woman of color to win a Hugo Award for “best novel” (others have won for short fiction)], “N. K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science-Fiction and Inspiration From Dreams,” published by the New York Times (!?) on https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/books/n-k-jemisin-on-diversity-in-science-fiction-and-inspiration-from-dreams.html?_r=0
Jemisin says she “decided to focus on an oppressive society at the macro scale and what that society does to individuals” in her spec fic novels. Why? Because “a woman of color from an impoverished culture, being brought up among wealthy, privileged white people and having to cope and perform in ways that she has not been raised to do… was obviously drawn from some personal experiences. I do that in everything — explorations of power, identity and belonging.”

—Another great article, “Genrequeer,” by Theodore McCombs at http://www.fictionunbound.com/blog/2016/4/6/genrequeer, offers this excellent insight: “To make space for black achievement and transcendence, speculative fiction lets us change all the rules that should never have been rules in the first place.”


So, there is a lot of hope for increasing diversity, better representation of women and girls, more interesting stories and compelling ways to resolve conflicts than wars and violence in the Spec Fic genre and all its subgenres, with dozens of websites, groups and other resources to help us find them.

Here are some:
—The Black Science Fiction Society: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com


Logo from Black Science Fiction Society website, 2017

—The Speculative Literature Foundation offers “Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants …The two $500 awards support any purpose that writer recipients may choose to benefit their work.”
FMI: http://speculativeliterature.org/ and a resource list of orgs for writers of Spec Fic: http://speculativeliterature.org/writers-resources-2/writers/writers-organizations-2/

African-American Sci-Fi: http://www.africanamericansciencefiction.com/

Latino Spec Fic: http://www.latinospeculativefiction.com/, which published Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, which “is the first anthology to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres”; edited by Matthew David Goodwin.


Cover of Latino@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy

—Two other not-so-recent anthologies: Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2005), edited by Sheree R. Thomas, and Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (2003), edited by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, which “showcase African-American and (mostly) Spanish-speaking spec-fic writers, respectively.”

—Check out writers in the sub-category of Afrofuturism, which is defined in Wikipedia: “Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science-fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

Tracy Mumford, about a year ago, wrote, in: “‘We want to hear new voices’: Diversity in sci-fi and fantasy” for https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/05/books-diversity-in-sci-fi-and-fantasy [as part of The Thread newsletter, which I recommend you sign up for right now (on that page)], some great commentary about those topics.
This article also has a great recommended reading list, curated during and prior to 2015, mostly, of diverse writers’ work in spec fic.

—Queer Sci-Fi has so much to offer, now, and via so many sites. Here is one website that may list the majority of them and offers more resources, besides: https://queerscifi.com/


Weigh in, please. I’d love to have great discussions, here, about other elements of Spec Fic and intersectionality (the places that social identities overlap and in which we analyze privilege, oppression and efforts to effect change). What have I left out, got wrong, etc.?

I’d love to hear from you. I also welcome Guest Bloggers (see my site for Guidelines): http://www.sallyember.com/

#RESIST #FIGHT #NEVERAGAIN #whichsideareyouon #clearandpresentdanger #revolutionisneeded

#RESIST #FIGHT #NEVERAGAIN #whichsideareyouon #clearandpresentdanger #revolutionisneeded

fighting-fascism-is-a-social-duty

— stealing the election
— nominations that are now mostly approved of incompetent, inappropriate, illegal cabinet nominees
— putting Bannon where he does not belong and is not legally allowed to be and keeping him there, undeterred
— closing down/diminishing the power of protective government agencies, like the EPA
— the Jewish cemetery desecrations (now, 3)
— the bomb “threat” phone calls to Jewish community centers (over 40 in the last 5 weeks)
— the Nazi graffiti and online/TV/radio broadcasts demonizing Muslims and Jews (too many to count)
— the burning of mosques, the exclusion of media from the White House,the travel bans
— the “show me your papers” TSA and border patrol demands to random (targeted) people at many airports and exit/entrance points
— the violence against peaceful protesters and the demonizing of protests
— the ICE raids and imprisonment of the ill, the parents, the elderly immigrants
— defunding/discrediting public schools…
— the erosion of civil rights
— the attack on reproductive freedom
— the demonizing of LGBT individuals
and so much more.

These are all test runs, folks. And, so far, they are getting away with it all.

If too many citizens ignore these first 6 weeks of horrific #notmyPresident’s actions, if too many of us get “activism” or “compassion” fatigue, if too many get scared, if the privileged crawl back into private and protected bubbles (only coming out to protest when we personally are affected), the fascists will certainly escalate… and we’re all doomed.

This is the Hitlerian/totalitarian playbook, page by page, unfolding all around us.

I am 62 years old and partly disabled. BUT, I am seriously considering buying boxes of adult diapers, gallons of water and dried food so that I can stay in a long-term sit-in, chaining myself to a government office doorway or stairwell, until these attacks and this fascist regime are DONE.

Or, what? Welcome ideas, here. Petitions, marches, whatever we’re already doing is NOT ENOUGH.

crumpling-the-constitution

Which Celebrities Would Have Gone/Did Go to Virtual/Actual High School with You?

Which Celebrities Would Have Gone/Did Go to Virtual/Actual High School with You?

My cohort includes those born between about 1951 – 1957 (our “high school” had only grades 10, 11, 12 in the building), those who would have been/were in high school in the USA between 1968 – 1972.

Imagine us all in one building during one of my four years: sitting together at the same lunch table, being on the same teams, dancing at proms, singing in choirs, acting in plays, studying together and attending the same classes, sharing bus rides, going to pep rallies and games, getting high together, dating, arguing, ignoring each other and perhaps, remaining friends.

It is entertaining to imagine, isn’t it?

By “celebrities,” I mean that these are people who have:

  • been on the covers of national magazines and/or featured speakers/presenters at national/international events/conferences;
  • won national or international awards or positions of great importance;
  • invented/started something significant;
  • wrote/starred in/produced something significant in the way of art/music/books/movies/plays;
  • achieved a high level of renown in their chosen field;
  • are known by many others as “great” in their field;
  • been stars of series TV shows and/or featured on popular talk shows;
  • are known by and hang out with other celebrities.

These individuals encourage(d) me by their example, inspire and motivate me to be better, dare to dream bigger, do and try things I might not have, and enjoy life more. I am proud to “be” with them on my virtual or actual campus.

First, the famous people whom I know/knew personally:

D. Scott Bassinson, J.D., one of my first serious boyfriends and long-time friend, is an Attorney who has argued at the USA Supreme Court, now a Judge and always, a Musician/Composer. It is due to Scott and his brother, Kevin Bassinson (also a celebrity)’s resignations that I became Ladue High School’s rehearsal and performance accompanist and a professional accompanist for musicals, choruses and performances. http://www.albanyjazz.com/musicians/scottbassinson.html

scottbassinson

Karen S. Raskin Kleiman, MSW, LCSW author of several books, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center, and leading researcher in Postpartum Depression and its treatments (featured on many TV talk shows, including OPRAH, in magazines and websites), was my award-winning partner in Duet Acting, for which we won 4th place for the state of Missouri and first or second in many local and regional competitions in 1971-1972. http://postpartumstress.com/karen-kleiman-msw-lcsw/

Karen Kleiman

Rich Rubin, journalist, playwright, Founder/Producing/Artistic Director, Quince Productions and GayFest! (Philadelphia), was my first piano-playing duet partner under Deborah Rosenblum in the early 1960s, and we graduated from Ladue together in 1972. “Rich Rubin has written about travel for over twenty years now. He’s thrilled to be back in touch with the team behind ManAboutWorld, having been an early contributor to OUT&ABOUT. He has served as travel editor for Genre and is currently Food and Wine editor for Passport Magazine. His stories have appeared in Saveur, Caribbean Travel & Life, Bride’s, Modern Bride, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications. In his copious free time, he is Producing Artistic Director of Quince Productions, which produces Philadelphia’s only LGBT Theater Festival, GayFest!. He serves on the board of the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus.” http://www.quinceproductions.com/about.html

R Rubin

Craig Pomranz, singer, recording artist, live cabaret performer, children’s book author of Made by Raffi, was another one of my high school “more than friends” that I’m still in touch with and regard highly. http://craigpomranz.com/

Raffi cover

Dr. Alice Conway, J.D., Ph.D., AB ’76, MA ’79, JD ’83, PhD ’83, is a trained vocalist, fluent in multiple languages (including Braille), and a trusted commercial and employment attorney for Monsanto. She holds four degrees from Washington University and is a committed volunteer and donor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeXcPa4bAV4attorney and philanthropist, blind since aged three, first blind Board Chair of the The St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Alice and I had many classes together in junior and senior high school.

Alice Conway

Dr. Michael Green, M.D., Ph.D., Professor at UMASS Medical Center in Gene Function and Expression, Director of the Cancer Center since 2015, the recipient of the Searle Scholar Award, the Presidential Young Investigators Award, and the McKnight Neuroscience Award and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Michael R. Green received his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University School of Medicine in 1981. He was awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship to perform postdoctoral work at Harvard University in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He became a faculty member in that department at Harvard in 1984, where he remained until he joined the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1990. He has been the recipient of the Searle Scholar Award, the Presidential Young Investigators Award, the McKnight Neuroscience Award, and in 1993 was invited to deliver a Harvey Lecture. In 1994, Dr. Green was made an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.” Michael was my second serious high school boyfriend and I went to the first college I attended partly because he was there (sorry, feminists). I knew his little brother, Eric, as well (see below). http://www.umassmed.edu/news/news-archives/2015/04/michael-green-appointed-director-of-umass-cancer-center/

Green

Dr. Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, recipient of numerous awards and author of many scholarly articles. https://www.genome.gov/27535200/director-eric-d-green-md-phd/

Eric Green

Joel Meyers, longtime sports broadcaster (currently play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association). Joel and I went to school together from Kindergarten through high school, but we weren’t exactly friends. Host of Above The Rim, weekdays from 10-1pm ET, Joel is a multi-time Emmy award-winning broadcaster with over 25 years of experience that includes calling games for both the Lakers and the Spurs on TVas well as the St. Louis baseball Cardinals (our home team). Joel is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

Joel Meyers

Fran(ces) Ginsberg, Opera Singer (deceased) with the New York City and Spanish operas before her death several years ago sang in our high school’s Chorale (select show choir) and annual musicals. I accompanied her solos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Ginsberg

Fran ginsberg

And, of course, my brother, Dr. Jonathan D. Fleischmann, M.D., MMS, FACS,

jonathan
a urological oncologist who has created/patented medications, usages and surgical techniques in his field for decades. “Dr. Fleischmann received undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees from Brown University. During residency training at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, he was a National Kidney Foundation Fellow specializing in kidney cancer research. Between 1985 and 1992, he was on faculty at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, during which time he was admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In 1992, he joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine faculty as the chief of service at the Weiler Hospital division and director of urologic oncology. In 1997, he entered private practice in the Bronx and has maintained a continuing interest in specialized cancer care, particularly of the prostate, kidney and bladder. He has privileges at Montefiore Medical Center Hospitals, Westchester Square Medical Center, Calvary and Morningside House.” https://www.google.com/patents/US5145859

Want to see more about some of these Ladue alums and more? In 2012 (the year of my 40th high school reunion), Ladue held its 60th “Distinguished Alumni” Awards Ceremony and it is on YouTube: http://bit.ly/10vTEaP

From Camp Hawthorn (the St. Louis Jewish Community Center Association’s Missouri Ozarks overnight camp, until 1969):

Sheldon Mirowitz (also from Ladue Schools), soloist musician, producer/arranger and sideman, professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston and conductor/arranger of the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (which tours!), film and TV composer, winner of awards at the Sundance Film Festival and other accolades for his music, including three Emmy nominations and one Peabody Award. I met Sheldon in 8th grade at camp and then we we re-met in high school and have been friends ever since. https://www.berklee.edu/news/berklee-silent-film-orchestra-has-secret-weapon

Sheldon

Chuck Blitz, became independently wealthy in the first dot.com boom and turned that to opportunities to be a philanthropist, environmentalist, social/environmental activist, particularly in the Santa Barbara, CA, area; with Ram Dass and the White Lotus Foundation, he has been doing ecological, social community and world service—SEVA—programs and yoga teacher training), and recently, he is an author http://biography-ebooks.com///693266/five-years-in-five-months. I went to camp with Chuck; his sister, Judy (“Jay”) was my first counselor, but he and Glenn Savan were/are my brother, Jon’s, age, so we weren’t really friends.

Glenn Savan, (deceased in 2002), author of White Palace, a semi-autobiographical novel turned into the film in 1987, starring James Spader in Glenn’s role and Susan Sarandon as the love interest, using the local “White Castle” hamburger joints as the setting. I knew Glenn from camp, but we weren’t exactly friends. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/17/arts/glenn-savan-49-the-author-of-white-palace.html

White Palace

Colleges and New England living (University of Wisconsin/Madison and University of Bridgeport/Connecticut (undergrad) and University of Massachusetts/Amherst (graduate)

Dr. Rahima Wade, Ph.D. (deceased, 2012), almost single-handedly brought “service learning” into public schools in the 1990’s. She also introduced me to the idea of returning to school as a parent of young children and we both attended UMASS/Amherst at the same time. I first met her in Keene, NH, since we belonged to several of the same community groups. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/recorder/obituary.aspx?pid=156772652

Rahima

Dr. Mary Kalantzis, Ph.D. http://education.illinois.edu/faculty-finder (b 1949, so an “age outlier,” really, but I include her because of her husband, Dr. Bill Cope, Ph.D. (b. 1957) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Cope_(academic) . Both are Professors, authors/researchers in Multicultural Education and Workplace Diversity globally. I met them when Mary came to Keene State College in New Hampshire as a Fulbright Scholar from Australia in 1990-91 with her husband and colleague/co-writer, Bill, and son, Philip. I traveled with my then-partner to visit them in Australia in 1996. Mary and Bill are now at the University of Illinois/Champagne, where she has been the Dean of the College of Education, until recently.

Mary and Bill

Dr. Caroline Myss, Ph.D., best-selling author, speaker, medical clairvoyant, teacher. I met Caroline in 1983 in New Hampshire and we became close friends, seeing each other almost weekly until she moved to back to Chicago in 1992. Since then, we stayed in touch, sporadically, but she travels internationally and is unusually busy even when she “lands” somewhere. She mentions me and our friendship in several of her books’ dedications/acknowledgements. https://www.myss.com/

caroline_sitting

Other notables from the Antioch/New England Graduate School in Keene, NH: Faculty members/authors/ researchers, David Sobel, Rick (Youst) van der Poll,

From Camp Med-O-Lark (in Washington, ME)

Bari K. Willerford, actor in the National Deaf Theatre and star of MathNet children’s TV show on PBS as well as continuing to appear in many other TV series, movies (American Gangster) and TV episodes. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0929780/bio

Bari

Allegra Broughton and Sam Page, singers/songwriters, musicians, founders of Solid Air, members of The Wild Catahoulas, also play/have played in many other duos and bands. Solid Air has many great CDs available. http://www.solidairmusic.com/bio.html

Solid Air

Dennis Hadley, musician, singer, member of The Hot Frittatas, The Wild Catahoulas, also plays/has played in many other duos and bands, including Gator Nation. Legally blind since birth, Dennis is one of the best accordion players and enthusiastic vocalists in northern California. http://www.gatornationband.com/about/about.html

Dennis

From Chagdud Gonpa, my Buddhist Community (Sangha):

My teachers, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu (born Alwyn Fischel, known as Lama Drimed) and Lama Padma Shenphen Drolma (born Lisa Leghorn, known as Lama Shenphen), who are also authors and Buddhist scholars. They and I were students of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche before his passing in 2002.
Iron Knot Ranch, on the border of Arizona and New Mexico near Duncan, AZ, is led by Lama Shenphen: http://ironknot.org/about-iron-knot-ranch/
Lama Drimed teaches in California and Oregon and works from his home in the Bay Area, guiding students.

CTR

Among our sangha members whom I know personally are several authors, but only one is in my cohort, that I know of: photographer/teacher, Cary Groner. http://www.carygroner.com/

Exiles-210

Now, all of these (still living) celebs can brag that they know ME!

Next, the celebs I only know from afar:
Athletes I paid attention to and admired…
Chris Evert (whose brand of tennis shoes I wore proudly during the years they were available, which coincided with the years I played tennis, myself, albeit mediocrely.

Cathy Rigby and Olga Korbut, who inspired me to become a gymnast, but injuries sidelined me in 10th grade. Oh, well.

Mark Spitz, a great swimmer( before Michael Phelps was even born!).

Dorothy Hamill (figure skater, actor), , who inspired millions to skate.

Theatre/Music Folks I noticed all along, whom I wish(ed) I could have (had) lunch with at least once… (culled from this list, first, from “my” class, 1953 & 1954 birth years starting on these pages: http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1954 and http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1953 ), then from 1952 http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1952, and 1955 http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1955, http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1956, http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1951, and http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1957

These are listed alphabetically by first name, but I considered grouping them by “lunch table,” according to what combos would make for great conversations with/around me….Cool idea, huh? YOU do it!

Adam Arkin
Al Franken
Al Roker
Alfre Woodard
Alfred Molina
Amy Heckerling
Amy Irving
Andy Garcia
Angela Cartwright
Anjelica Huston
Annette O’Toole
Annie Lennox
Annie Potts
Barry Williams
Bill Maher
Bill Nye
Bill Paxton
Bill Pullman
Billy Idol
Bo Derek
Bob Saget
Bonnie Tyler
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Willis
Callie Khouri
Carol Kane
Caroline Kennedy
Carrie Fisher
Catherine O’Hara
Chaka Khan
Charlaine Harris
Cheryl Ladd
Chris Carter
Chris Cooper
Chris Noth
Chrissie Hynde
Christine Baranski
Christopher McDonald
Christopher Reeve
Corbin Bernsen
Crystal Gayle
Cyndi Lauper
Dan Aykroyd
Dana Delaney
Daniel Day-Lewis
David E. Kelley
David Morse
David Sedaris
Debby Boone\
Debra Winger
Delta Burke
Dennis Quaid
Denzel Washington
Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Drake Hogestyn
Ellen Barkin
Ellen Greene
Elvis Costello
Eric Roberts
Eve Ensler
Frances Fisher
Frances McDormand
Freddie Prinze
Gary Cole
Gary Sinise
Geena Davis
Geoffrey Rush
Glenne Headley
Gloria Estefan
Griffin Dunne
Harry Hamlin
Harvey Fierstein
Howard Stern
Imelda Staunton
Isabella Rossellini
J.K. Simmons
Jackie Chan
Jane Kaczmarek
Jane Seymour
Jay North
Jean Passanante
Jean Smart
Jeff Daniels
Jeff Goldblum
Jerry Seinfield
Jim Belushi
Jimmy Smits
Joan Allen
John Goodman
John Mellancamp
John Travolta
John Turturro
Jon Lovitz
Jonathan Frakes
Judith Ivey
Judy Davis
Julie Taymor
Karen Allen
Kate Burton
Kate Capshaw
Kate Mulgrew
Kathleen Turner
Kathy Najimy
Katie Couric
Kelly McGillis
Kelsey Grammer
Ken Burns
Ken Olin
Kenny G
Kevin Costner
Kevin Pollack
Kim Bassinger
Kim Catrall
Kirstie Alley
Kurt Russell
Laura Branigan
Laura Innes
Lauren Koslow
Lena Olin
LeVar Burton
Liam Neeson
Lisa Niemi
Lori Singer
Lucie Arnaz
Luther Vandross
Lyle Lovett
Lynda Carter
Lynn Whitfield
Mandy Patinkin
Margo Martindale
Marilu Henner
Marina Sirtis
Mark Hamill
Mark Harmon
Marta Kauffman
Mary McDonnell
Mary Steenburgen
Matt Lauer
Maureen McCormick
Mel Harris
Melanie Griffith
Melanie Mayron
Melissa Manchester
Michael Bolton
Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael Keaton
Michael Moore
Miguel Sandoval
Mimi Rogers
Nancy Cartwright
Nathan Lane
Nicholas Guest
Olivia Hussey
Oprah Winfrey
Orson Scott Card
Pam Dawber
Pamela Sue Martin
Parker Stevenson
Pat Benatar
Patricia Hearst
Patricia Kalember
Patricia Richardson
Patricia Wettig
Patrick Swayze
Patty Smyth
Paul Reiser
Peter Gallagher
Phil Collins
Pierce Brosnan
Reba McEntire
Rene Russo
Richard Kind
Richard Schiff
Richard Thomas
Rick Moranis
Rita Rudner
Rita Wilson
Robby Benson
Robert Gossett
Robin Williams
Ron Howard
Roseanne Barr
S. Epatha Merkerson
Sandra Bernhard
Scott Bakula
Sela Ward
Shari Belafonte
Spike Lee
Stellan Skarsgard
Stephen Fry
Sting
Susan Dey
Thomas Newman
Tim Allen
Tim Daly
Tim Gunn
Timothy Bottoms
Timothy Busfield
Tom Hanks
Tony Shalhoub
Tovah Feldshuh
Treat Williams
Vanna White
Wendy Crewson
Whoopi Goldberg
William Petersen
Yanni
Yvonne Elliman

And, some age “outliers” I would invite to my high school cafeteria table (or beg to go to theirs…):
Holly Hunter (b 1958)
Jamie Lee Curtis (b 1958)
Cybill Shepherd (b 1950)
Billy Joel (b 1949)
Jessica Lange (b 1949)
Meryl Streep (b 1949)
Sigourney Weaver (b 1949)
Sissy Spacek (b 1949)
(WOW! Look at the class of 1949!)

I love the idea of running into these folks from my cohort in some virtual hallways, study halls, parking lots, playing fields, locker rooms and classrooms of “our” high school, getting together for a class reunion (45th is coming up for me this year), and being able to chat with them (even if they’ve already passed).

Who are in YOUR cohort?

Another tale of terrible customer service from #YouTube: Why do we allow it?

Some of you may know that #YouTube “flagged” and “removed” CHANGES conversations between authors‘s 51st Episode’s title and description for what would have been my upcoming Hangout On Air (HOA) live video three weeks ago and

changes-theme-image_3

By the way:

Watch conversations with my previous *CHANGES* guests any time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq
Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

But, wait: it gets worse! YouTube then suspended my livestreaming privileges, funneling me into what could have been a three-month-long “appeal” period, FOR NO REASON. YouTube’s ridiculous ‘bots claimed I violated their Terms of Service with a Copyright Violation (completely false).

screenshot-48

screenshot-49

That was called my “first strike.” Apparently, if a creator gets three of these, YouTube’s insane ‘bots summarily shut down the creator’s account, permanently.

I finally heard back from YouTube, after complaining on Twitter and elsewhere for three days straight and seeking advice on YouTube and HOA fora for 3 weeks. I received a notice that I am no longer “suspended,” but (see below) it displays horrible customer service.

I am flummoxed and need advice. Please weigh in!

I was advised before publishing this post to “let it go” because “YouTube has over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute” and can’t possible vet it all with humans. And, to let it go because “nothing I say will change anything.”

Wow! YouTube/Google has BILLIONS of dollars and can’t hire enough staff to run their sites properly? Boo hoo. Hire more people, Google! You can afford it. Better than alienating your customers, if you care (obviously, they do not!).

Both hinted at possible retaliation if I made any noise.

Screw that. I’m a make-noise kind of person.

So, my major complaints are these:

1) This YouTube “team member” who wrote this mostly form-letter email offered:
—no apology
—no explanation of what the “violation” was presumed to have been consisting of
—no way to tell why my set-up actually got flagged
—no information on how to prevent getting flagged in the future, and
—no statement of YouTube’s clearing my account of “strikes.”

But, I checked, and there are now no strikes!

screenshot-52

2) This entire fiasco was all YouTube’s fault: I never violated any Terms of Service! But, they still inserted their standard, not-so-subtle, victim-blaming paragraph in this email.

Because this was THEIR MISTAKE, why do they not remorsefully announce that they are removing this bogus “first strike” from my creator’s account tally? They DID do this….

bad-youtube

3) But, contrary to the wording of this email, below:
—there WAS NO CONTENT TO BE FLAGGED
—this video never streamed, therefore
—there was nothing to be “taken down,” BUT
—my original title and description exist, but with no video and no way to re-activate it that I can see!

screenshot-53

4) How (and with what) did anyone (human or ‘bot) “review my video”?? For what?

5) And, how do I set it up (again) and have it work, this time?

Apparently, since this happened as I was attempting to complete and save my set-up page, this unstreamed video was flagged for its title and description, during set-up! However, I used almost the exact same wording I have used for the previous 50 Episodes of my talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, as before. Even if it had streamed, there is no “copyright” violation possible. Each Episode is always just I and one author talking about our own work and general topics. period.

6) How can YouTube be run by crazed ‘bots and idiotic, irresponsible humans who apparently have a policy to “shoot first, ask questions never”? Why do they have a policy and process that presumes guilt and offers no timely recourse or explanation when they are wrong.

presumed-guilty

Why do we users/creators put up with this?

7) And, given all the problems HOA hosts/users have been having with the new (since 9/12/16) YouTube-only-HOAs as detailed in a Google+ tech group I subscribe to, I’m reluctant even to try to set up this or any Episode any time soon.

You decide if I’m overreacting and how best I should respond. Send your comments to this website http://www.sallyember.com/blog on this post or email your suggestions directly to me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com Advice welcomed, because I am steaming mad and likely to do/write things I regret all over social media right now. Thanks!

Here is YouTube’s “you may now get out of jail” email, unedited:

Hey Sally,

I’m reaching out on behalf of the YouTube Creator Support team to connect regarding your live streaming issue.

It looks as though live streaming was disabled due to some of your content being flagged and taken down. We count on our community members to know our Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them. We review all flagged content quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the guidelines, we remove it. Occasionally, a video flagged by users or identified by our team is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that had been removed. In this case, we were able to review your video and get it reinstated, as well as reinstated your live streaming capabilities!

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention and should you ever have any additional questions or issues, please feel free to reach out the Creator Support team here.

Take care,
TEAM MEMBER’s name withheld
Partner Operations Manager
creator-support@youtube.com

What #Issues are/were YOU are the “Right” side of?

Being on the “right” side of so many issues, for his/herstory, is exhausting but satisfying.

So, VOTE and make your voices heard in EVERY election, especially local ones.

voting-matters

Why?

First, they call us crazy.

Then, they say we’re “conspiracy nuts” (a less vague variation on “crazy”) because, of course, our government/ those priests/ the leaders of whatever institution can’t all be lying or wrong…

Next, “popular” opinion starts to sway because FACTS are on our side, but most people aren’t persuaded, yet.

So, the media starts to report that maybe, just maybe, we “outliers” and “extremists” could be correct.

The media’s hesitancy is paid for by the politicians and corporations who are promoting the other side/maintaining the status quo, so most still say we’re “unpatriotic,” or “angry,” or (when we are women) “bitches,” and when we are not white, “terrorists.”

Then, more FACTS on our side emerge, having actually (oh, horrors! so shocking!) been suppressed, denied, lied about and otherwise hidden from public view prior to having been irrevocably exposed, usually (now) by a hacker (or, in the olden days, by a brave reporter or other whistleblower who often ended up dead or imprisoned, as hackers do, now).

Then, lawsuits and riots and protests and demonstrations are occurring regularly, still mostly not covered or not covered accurately by the media. And, we are still RIGHT and now we are WINNING.

Finally, usually a long time before “popular opinion” completey changes, a few brave and prescient lawmakers create bills which pass into laws, or the majority of the Supreme Court happens to agree on a sane and rational decision (for a change), so laws force change. Slowly, and not without detractors, protestors, idiots and others who NOW are the “crazies” and “terrorists,’ society moves ahead.

AND (whew!), many dead bodies and ruined lives later, we “win.”

Yippee.

Then, see how they all relate? “Intersectionality” is the understanding that one oppression /one injustice links to many others—perhaps ALL others.

intersectionality

Add to my list of issues you are/have been on the “right” side of, here in the comments on my site: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

I WAS/AM WE ARE/WERE RIGHT ABOUT THESE ISSUES:

Pro Voting Rights and Access to Honest and Fair Elections for all

which goes with

Anti Dakota Access Pipeline

dap-protests

which goes with
Pro Environment = Pro Clean Air; Clean Water; Pro Arable Land; Anti Pesticides; Anti Poisons and Pollutants; Anti GMOs and Seeds Stealing; Recognizing Climate Change as REAL; Pro Organic/Healthy Foods, Medicines, Hygiene products, Household cleaners, etc.; Anti Vaccinations (until properly vetted and proven more beneficial than harmful); Anti Chemotherapy (until proven more beneficial than harmful)

and

Pro Alternative Energies/ Less reliance on oil/gasoline

and

Anti Fracking

and

Pro Green Burials and Cremations

and

Pro Green Housing/Offices

and

Pro Electric Cars

and

Pro better Public Transportation

which also go with

Pro Natives’/ Indigenous Peoples’ Freedom and Autonomy in the West and other countries/continents

and

Pro Black Lives Matter (and, no: it is NOT the same as “All Lives Matter,” so stop saying that!)

black-lives-matter

which goes with

Pro Civil Rights for all = Anti Racism

and

Anti Imperialism

and

Pro Freedom for Tibet

and

Anti Colonialism

and

Anti Apartheid

and

Anti Royal Rule/ Dynasties everywhere

and

Pro Palestinian Independence (if nonviolent)

and

Anti Israeli and Palestinian violence

and

Anti Sharia Law

which go with

Anti Imprisonment according to Race/Economic Status and the “Three Strikes” Laws

and

Anti The School-to-Prison Pipeline

school-to-prison-pipeline

and

Civil Rights also goes with

Pro Access = ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) = Anti Disabilities discrimination

and

Pro Marriage Equality

and

Pro Affirmative Action = Anti Racism/ Anti Classism / Anti Religious Discrimination

and

Pro Human Rights and Anti Human Rights Violators

and

Pro Women’s Right to Choose/Reproductive Rights of all kinds (birth control, women’s health check-ups, Planned Parenthood Clinics, abortions

and

Pro Single-Payer, Government-Sponsored Health Care for All

and

Anti Genital Mutilation of both males and females (“circumcision”)

and

Pro Women’s autonomy (access to individual credit, access to all types of work, equal pay, etc.) = Anti Sexism

and

Pro Regulation and Monitoring of Sex Workers /Legalization of Prostitution

and

Anti Weight Loss drugs and industries

and

Anti Brassieres/Bras unless necessary for sports/exercise and comfort purposes

ill-fitting-bras-symptoms Symptoms of Ill-Fitting Bras

and

Anti Make-up/Cosmetics (except for costuming/theatrical and fun purposes)

and

Anti High Heels

and

Anti Cosmetic surgery

and

Anti “Welfare Reform”

and

Anti “Right to Work”

right-to-work-is-wrong_issuebanner

and

Pro Affordable Day Care

and

Pro Free and Equal Public Education, from Pre-School through Community and state College levels

and

Anti Sexual Harassment

and

Anti Domestic Violence and “women as property” of husbands/men

and

Anti Child Abuse/Child Labor and “children as property of adults”

and

Anti Sexualization of Children

Pro Legalization of all recreational drugs, particularly marijuana

which goes with

Anti Addiction demonization and “treatment” industry

Anti War (all of them) and Pro Peace

peace-movement
Photograph by Leif Skoogfors, used with permission, 1970

which goes with

Anti Nuclear power plants and weapons

and

Anti Weapons proliferation

Anti Corporate greed and malfeasance, including “Citizen’s United” law

which goes with

Pro better Banks’ Monitoring and better Regulations and Enforcement

and

Pro Wall Street’s Monitoring and better Regulations and Enforcement

and

Pro Transparency

Pro Meditation

which goes with

Pro Emotional Intelligence

and

Pro Music and Arts Education

and

Pro Recess and Physical Education for Youth

and

Pro Science Education (especially for girls/women and minorities)

occupy-everything

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

I was born and raised here in the midwest USA. My grandparents were all born in this country (in Louisville, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri), My great-grandparents immigrated here to escape discrimination, pogroms and other ongoing (endlessly ongoing) European persecution of Jews to come to the USA in the late 1800s.

I feel grateful that my ancestors, four of whom I knew as a child, were allowed to enter this country. Being here as a “native” gave me many of the privileges of a white, educated Jewish girl born in 1954.

Why and when did I stop being “patriotic” (ever notice how that rhymes with “idiotic”)? I get teary when Barbra Streisand sings “America, the Beautiful” because I want to feel good about being an American. But, I cannot and have not since 1967.

My conclusion then and only strengthened since then: Patriotism kills.

Here are the first 50 reasons I cannot be patriotic as a USA citizen.

oscar-wilde-patriotism-quotes-patriotism-is-the-virtue-of-the

1) Because Richard Nixon. Nixon and his gang of criminals began to do their dirty work when I was 13 and he resigned in the middle of my undergrad college years. How could I grow up “patriotic” after that?

2) Because Vietnam and all wars. Since World War II—which the USA entered far too late and then did more damage than good in Japan—the USA has had NO BUSINESS being in ANY wars, anywhere, yet we have not had even 2 years without being involved in “military actions.” Disgusting.

Bertrand Russell patriotism

3) Because JFK. He was an over-privileged, drug-addicted, adulterous war-monger who has been glorified beyond belief after his death.

4) Because MLK, Jr. A great leader, murdered.

MLK mug shot

5) Because Malcolm X. Another great leader, murdered.

malcolm X

6) Because Karen Silkwood. Another great leader, murdered.

7) Because the ERA. The defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (remember that, anyone?)

8) Because government dysfunction and greed. The bought-out FDA and the bribed EPA and the absurdly stupid Dept of Education and the bribed, lying and bought-out Dept of Energy and all the other “cabinet” and “government” departments that do the OPPOSITES of their stated jobs.

9) Because slavery. Should never have and still exists: check out today’s private prisons.

10) Because racism. Is worse than ever in many places and we export it.

11) Because health care. Still no national health care with universal payer for everyone.

12) Because maternal and infant mortality Rates are too high.

13) Because most school lunches. Are horrible.

14) Because deception by government. The “wars” on poverty, drugs, terrorism and whatever else made everything 100 times worse.

15) Because broken promises. Too many to list.

16) Because dishonorable leaders. Many leaders (elected, appointed and volunteer) lie. Then, they personally and financially benefit, and so do their cronies, families and friends.

John Irving on patriotism

17) Because Monica Lewinsky. Sex is sex. Lying is lying.

18) Because Vince Foster. Murdered by greed, political gain and selfishness.

19) Because veterans. I see too many body bags, amputees and PTSD sufferers from wars that enrich only a few and do nothing good for anyone else, ever. Enlistees and draftees are constantly lied to so that impoverished/uneducated people (mostly Black and Latino) are shamed and machismo-ed into serving.

20) Because secularism. “God” should never have been added to our money, Pledge of Allegiance and other statements, and public meetings should NOT open with “prayers.”

21) Because Christians. Many still insist that this is a “Christian” nation. Christmas and New Year’s Day are national holidays but no other religion’s holy days have those designations in the USA.

22) Because the military-industrial takeover of the world. Led by USA-owned companies and military.

RoyOnNationalism

23) Because Guantanamo. Never helped, never should have existed, and still does.

24) Because Leonard Pelletier Should never have been and is still in prison.

25) Because UC Berkeley. All the protesters are/were RIGHT.

26) Because Lawrence Livermore Labs. Bombs. More bombs.

27) Because Monsanto, Dow, Dupont. Liars, polluters, killers.

28) Because union-busting. Should never have been made legal.

29) Because coal mine owners. Kill miners daily.

30) Because nuclear power plants. Never were and still aren’t safe.

nuclear power
image from http://kractivist.wordpress.com

31) Because transit. We waited over 50 years to have electric and solar cars and they’re still not prevalent. Mass transit in most areas is non-existent or insufficient.

32) Because bees and food. We never needed or should have allowed our land and food to be poisoned. (see Monsanto, etc.)

33) Because Planned Parenthood. Constantly being targeted for doing GOOD.

34) Because health. Autism and cancers are on the rise (see Monsanto, etc.). Vaccinations do kill and maim children and many are ineffective at prevention as well.

35) Because big pharma and others lied. Especially about marijuana and tobacco. Cures exist for cancer but we aren’t provided them. We are overcharged for ALL medications.

36) Because inequality. I grew up in Missouri under “Jim Crow” racist segregation and inequality/discrimination laws. That we have to have civil rights’, gay rights’, disability rights’, sexual harassment cases, domestic violence shelters, rape shield and other “movements” to get common decency in this country to be legalized and people STILL don’t adhere to the laws is terrible.

37) Because sexism. Still everywhere. Must have feminism.

3 waves of feminism

38) Because the children and youth. Child abuse and rape, incest and child molestation horrors in addition to murders perpetrated by teachers, parents, step- and foster parents, group home and youth detention center staff, religious leaders and politicians that are STILL being uncovered/discovered even though MANY knew about each and every incident. Runaways are almost always first abused, then become criminalized/imprisoned youth.

39) Because the environment. This country has many beautiful places that are being ruined by greed, selfishness and short-sightedness.

40) Because Native Americans.If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog.

41) Because Election Fraud in the last five presidential and who knows how many other elections and especially during this current primary season.

42) Because Dick Cheney. If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog, still.

43) Because Clarence Thomas. How was he ever and still on the Supreme Court?

44) Because Anita Hill. We all should have believed her. I did.

Anita_Hill

45) Because Dr. Jocelyn Elders. She was right. About everything, especially how healthy it is to masturbate and that abstinence-only “sex ed” is not “education” and does not work.

46) Because Bill Cosby. People are still protecting this monster.

47) Because freedom. The USA had such great promise and potential and has squandered almost all of it.

48) Because Nestle’s. Still killing children worldwide by promoting feeding infants formula over breastfeeding.

49) Because Palestine. USA is on the wrong side of this one, too. MUST be a two-state solution, but can’t negotiate with terrorists. Trouble is, they’re ALL terrorists, now.

50) Because 9/11. Was not what we’ve been told. First responders are dying/have died and money “for them” has not reached them or their families. Bush’s planes flew Bin Laden’s family out of the USA. Trade Towers did not fall due only to being hit by one airplane each. The lies go on and on.

9-11 is a fraud
from http://www.bollyn.com

Remember: DISSENT is patriotism at its best.

Dissent is patriotic

Should Clara send this letter to Epifanio as is, edited (how?), or at all?

Should Clara send this letter to Epifanio as is, edited (how?), or at all?

Seeking #readers’ opinions, please.

logoAuthorsDen

NOTES: Since the ebook of Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, is perma-FREE, and the paperback is 25% off for July, please read Vol. I before offering your ideas!

Also, Vol. II and III ebooks are only $1 and are also 25% off the paperbacks right now! Best is to read them ALL before commenting!

3 paperbacks

Coupon codes for 25% off discount on CreateSpace paperbacks is in previous blog post: http://www.sallyember.com/blog 7/1/16.

For more info about The Spanners Series: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners

REVIEWERS always are provided coupons to get my ebooks for free. Contact me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com if you want review copies.

Thanks!


Below, the letter in question. When it’s finalized, this letter goes into Volume V, Spanning the Transformative Years: The Interstitial Changes, of The Spanners Series, featuring the on-again, off-again love relationship between Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator/liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective, and Epifanio Dang, artist, writer, musician, dancer, both in their late 60s by this time.

Currently (July, 2016) I am two-thirds finished with Volume IV, Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude, and beginning Volume V.


Dear Epifanio,

I don’t write you a letter for a while, in this timeline. When I wait so long, what I have to say to you accumulates uncomfortably.

Like plaque or tartar on my teeth, the questions, emotions and thoughts I feel moved to share with you begin to feel more like an interference with my normal digestion of daily life. This all must be removed by cleaning out my psychological mouth and putting what’s inside onto some document.

Unlike the metaphorical build-up, however, these words don’t “go down the drain” when I “rinse and spit,” especially when I don’t send the letters. I plan to send this one.

Or, do they?

Do you actually read my letters, in their entirety? I don’t get much of a response, or any at all, usually.

I’m going to assume you are reading and responding to this one. It comforts me to view our communication as if it were completely mutual.

I love you. I miss you. I miss us.

I believe you love me even though, in this and many timelines at this and “later” points, you don’t seem to know or believe that. Or, you say you love me as a friend, as family.

You also say I irritate you. Mostly, you avoid me.

Or, we’re in love, we are living together, we are partnered/married, and very happy.

Not today.

Once again, I’m trying to find out why we are not together “today,” to see if I can move the needle of our relationship’s direction closer to my understanding of “true north.”

Here are my concerns and questions. I start, usually, at this point in our estrangement, with creating a progression, of sorts, that attempts to discover how hopeless my wishes for our closeness and/or reconciliation are.

First, the deal-breakers:
Am I physically repulsive to you? Is that the major issue?
Does the thought of our being intimate (e.g., kissing and more) make you want to vomit? Does the idea of confiding in me and my knowing your secrets make your skin crawl?
I recognize that if your answer to even one of the above questions is “yes,” there is no hope. I know what it’s like to feel that way about someone and it doesn’t change much.
If you would please tell me that now, it helps me a lot. When I know you can’t even stomach being near me, I am then able to figure out a way to surrender my wishes, to believe firmly that our closeness is impossible.

Next, the inconsistencies:
Do you want us “together,” as friends, at least?
I know you enjoy being with me some of the time. You prolong our talking together on several occasions, by more than an hour or two, sometimes.
How do you seemingly want me around you so much and then not be in touch at all most of the time?

Third, the reasons:
Why do you want to keep yourself separate?
In what way does our being separate achieve whatever you want to avoid, protect, defend or prevent? What are the outcomes you’re attempting to circumvent?
Why are you so certain these are potential threats? How do you know these are possible, much less likely, results of being closer to me?

Fourth, the mysteries:
What scares you? Why do you fling yourself away from me every time we do get closer? How do your fears involve me, exactly?
How are you sure you’re afraid of me?

Finally, the clincher:
How do you know our seeming future?
Since you tell me you can’t timult—don’t know your own or anyone else’s current or alternate timelines, potential karma, destiny/fate—why do you claim that you and I don’t ever have that kind of relationship?
Why do you believe that?
Why should I believe you?

What if…
— your fears are unfounded;
— you’re not repulsed by me (in fact, you’re often attracted to me; I can feel it);
— your predictions are flawed; and
— your negative beliefs about our being closer are all unwarranted?

We laugh together, we have the same core values and a lot of other important aspects in common. We’re almost the same age. We don’t intimidate each other. We don’t need each other to be different than who we are, yet we are wanting and seeking the challenge and support to improve continually from an intimate partner.

Unlike many of our previous partners, neither of us is depressed, too young, wanting to have children or going back to school and moving away. We usually enjoy each other enormously (when you are “with” me).

Please: open your heart/mind and spend some time with me to find out how we are together before deciding we are a “bad idea”?

If you do that and we aren’t compatible, we’ll both know it. It is obvious. I then can surrender my hopes and beliefs. I promise.

If you do that and we are great together, I promise not to say “I told you so” more than once a year.

Offering you my love in every timeline,

Clara


Readers, write to me with your comments on this potential communication. Please send your reactions, suggestions, edits, ridicule, sympathy, empathy and more to http://www.sallyember.com/blog .

Dear parents of Brock Turner, and any “supportive” relatives, friends and associates…

Dear parents of Brock Turner, and any “supportive” relatives, friends and associates:

You are making things worse and you are horribly wrong to “support” Brock. I hope you can educate yourself and learn to change your position. Treat the woman he brutalized as the victim rather than Brock Turner.

assault is not an accident

Some facts:

—This supposedly mentally competent young man (Brock was a scholarship student at a prestigious university) did not “make a mistake” when he brutally assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. His intentions were clear and his actions thought out in advance.
—He did not “accidentally” drag this inebriated young woman off behind said dumpster. He considered his options and chose this as the best place to hide what he was doing to her.
—He was not “confused” when he decided to stick objects and himself into her naked body’s orifices as she lay amidst dirt and pine needles.
—He was not “unclear” about her inability to give consent when he tried to run away because 2 good Samaritans attempted to and did chase and stop him.

When asked about his crimes (which are not in question because there are witnesses and medical records to demonstrate his guilt, which was proven and he was convicted), Brock has lied repeatedly and still has not apologized or shown appropriate (healthy) remorse. These are not good signs.

The legal terminology here is clear: Brock Turner, “with malice aforethought,” “willingly and knowingly” committed “multiple felonious assaults” on a helpless woman.

malice aforethought

How can you depict Brock as any kind of victim?

His horribly venomous selfishness and inappropriate sense of entitlement (learned and encouraged, no doubt, from many of YOU) are part of a family and community pathology that shows itself in serious misogyny, part of what is termed “rape culture.”

—Do not defend him.
—Do not excuse him.
—Do not attempt to protect him from the consequences of his own actions.

—Do not pretend that this was a one-time event. Ask him. No one does an assault like this only once. He happened to get CAUGHT this time. I’m certain he has done this before, or worse.
“The research team discovered serial rapists are far more common than previous research suggested — a finding that could change how sexual assaults, including so-called acquaintance rapes, are investigated.” Data that are now considered typical; study from one county in the USA: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160606122823.htm

—Your entire family and any “supportive” members of your community, religious and civic organizations need counseling to deal with how you have failed him and how your thinking and emotions are completely distorted about him and this tragic crime that he committed. If you/they have not been able to hear/read the entire text of the victim’s Impact Statement, do that. Read her letter repeatedly until you understand the enormous heinousness of his acts and your misguidedness.

—If you have sons, work with young boys or men, or are one, you should learn from this/teach several things:
1) Women are not anyone’s property to do whatever they want with, any time they want. It doesn’t matter how much or what she drinks, ingests, wears, says, looks like or acts like: she is not “yours.”

rape-time-to-stop

2) If a potential date or sexual partner can’t communicate coherently or at all, she can’t give consent for sex. Find her a safe friend to be with her and get her safely home.

3) Perpetrating physical acts that are sometimes considered “sex” on someone who has not given consent is NOT sex: these are acts of rape, assault and physical torture and are CRIMES. Do not even consider any other definitions.

4) It is your duty to make sure Brock and others who are legally required to register as sex offenders wherever they go, live and work DO register. Do not let him or others continue to ruin women’s lives.

failure-to-register

You can be compassionate about Brock’s pathologies and future problems without condoning what he did or making him “feel better” about it. He should NEVER “feel better” about any of it.

Sincerely,

Everyone else who is sane and compassionate

What Matters

What Matters

As I approach my 62nd birthday (August 22), I reflect on the news stories I see/hear almost daily, now, that corroborate and validate most of my life’s choices, values and beliefs. Sharing, now, so you don’t all have to re-invent the wheel. Mostly I/we were right. Get with it.

Interactions matter. Treating all humans with respect and meeting humans needs (food, clothing, shelter, meaningful and well-paid work, safety) properly are right. Equality, egalitarianism, acceptance, compassion, kindness and respect are the right ways to greet, treat and live with all others, regardless of perceived or actual differences among us and changes in circumstances. Ending oppression, discrimination, bias, prejudice and all forms of subjugation must occur.

RespectKindness
image from http://www.tomvmorris.com
Respect

Government and economics matter. Democracy (when it works) and socialism are right: we must listen to and take care of each other.

Conflict resolution matters. War is wrong, especially war that only makes profits for a few corporations and individuals and ruins land, kills/maims people and destroys economies for everyone else. All the “police actions”/wars the USA has engaged in since World War II (and some of our actions during World War I and World War II) were/are horribly wrong. Millions have been harmed or died for NOTHING except to enrich a few. We must learn to communicate better, de-escalate, use diplomacy, engage in dialogue, compromise and yield.

Give-peace-a-chance-no-more-war1-e1442090350987
image from http://www.popularresistance.org
Peace

Health matters. Eating healthfully and organically is right: better for us, better for the farmers, better for the environment. Contact sports that cause head injuries must end: change the rules or close down those sports completely for children and teens and give adults information that allows them to make educated choices about participation. Sugary foods and drinks, salty and fatty snacks and other negative-impact foods should be made less available and/or taxed very highly so fewer people can eat/get them so readily.

Other beings matter. Treating animals with respect at all times if we are going to use, eat (which some would argue is wrong), imprison and otherwise subjugate them (less stress and pain during and before slaughter, while being raised and during captivity of all kinds) is right.

Consumers’ choices matter. Choosing to purchase items that are made by people who are paid well, treated well and free to come and go is right. Choosing to purchase items whose production (harvest/manufacture/acquisition) does not harm or destroy the planet, the economy, or the people involved is right.

you-can-make-a-difference
image from http://arabedrossian.org
Healthy planet

Parenting requires time, effort, knowledge, education and support to be done well. Childcare can be a positive aspect of young children’s lives as long as they also have good parenting.

Minds and bodies matter. Meditation, yoga, stress management, play, listening to each other better, being outdoors more and learning/listening to music/making art all help families, businesses, schools and individuals in every possible way. Beauty, nature and gratitude are important. Learn/include and do these. Drink a lot of clean water. Sleep more and in better conditions.

healthy body and mind
Healthy choices

Reproductive freedom and rights are integral to a woman’s dignity and independence and are the business of no one else besides each woman and her chosen medical team.

Religions whose leaders or principles restrict the freedom or impinge upon the safety of or intend to demean anyone, inspire divisiveness or hatred, or foment disrespect for non-believers or some members of their own sects because of gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristics are not to be tolerated any longer and must be ended.

BigotryLifestyle550
image from http://www.patheos.com
Civil and personal rights

Facts are not subject to opinions. No one cares what anyone thinks about facts. Facts are not optional. People who misunderstand, misuse or misguide themselves or others regarding any facts (about the impacts of climate change, the dangers of fracking, etc.) are not to be given any credibility or listened to by anyone with even moderate intelligence.

Tyson quote
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ph.D., facts quote

Play time matters. Violence begets violence: video games, TV shows and films, music lyrics that demonstrate/engage users in repeated and frequent incidents of violence (personal, sexual, group) desensitize the viewers/players and generate much more violence overall in the culture. Games/shows that degrade women/girls and depict members of particular ethnic or other groups as “the enemy” or the objects of degradation cause users/viewers to adopt these perspectives and behave badly towards these individuals in actual encounters. Children’s and teens’ time using these games or watching these shows must be curtailed. Bring back more outdoor play, longer and better equipment for recess play indoors and outside. Sports and games that encourage coaches/leaders to discriminate among, exclude or otherwise demean participants or activities in training or play that cause players harm must be changed or stopped.

recess
Play

Excellence matters. Skills, talents, education and intelligence are not all equally distributed or acquired. We are not all the same even though we are to be treated with equal respect. Not everyone wins. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Not everyone can earn an “A.” 49.9% of any group is below average, by definition. Get used to it.

Collaboration matters. Governments, organizations/groups of all types and businesses of all sizes operate more successfully when they utilize collaborative, inclusive engagement rather than hierarchical, exclusionary dominance do better economically, have higher morale, have lower attrition/crime rates and better attendance/participation.

collaboration-background4
image from http://www.cptwebs.com
Collaboration

I could have provided a lot of research URLs to back up each of these claims, but I don’t need to, any longer. They are all true. YOU do the research.

Crush, Harassment, Unrequited Love and Stalking: Which do you know about?

Crush, Harassment, Unrequited Love and Stalking: Which do you know about?

Remember the expression: “mooning over someone?” (circa 1960s)> This described when we have a strong attraction for an oblivious person, one whom we might not even know well. We carry these feelings of yearning inside, in silence, but these feelings are not as invisible as we might believe (or wish), usually.

What about “having a crush”? Do people still “get crushed out” on another person? Usually pre-teens and teens do, but older ones can as well.

crush meme
image from http://www.picturequotes.com

When does unrequited love and its concomitant circumstances, activities and feelings become a crime or a symptom of mental illness?

Can our inner world be measured on some continuum or scale? Is there a set description of behaviors or frequency of actions that forces us to admit we have a problem? When does desire become obsession? When does wishing to be noticed become compulsion?

How many of his/her interests do we take on as our own so that we can be where s/he is “for our own reasons” (sports event, concert, coffee shop, dog show, political rally, nature walk…whatever)? How many times can we “drop by,” drive by, “happen to be” where our love object is/lives and pretend (especially to ourselves) that it is “just a coincidence”?

We think: what if it only takes “one more” for his/her to “come around”? This happens in fiction; can’t it happen for us? How many “secret admirer”-type notes, flowers, emails, texts, other little gifts can we offer or send, leave on someone’s car or doorstep in inbox, before that person feels uncomfortable enough to call the police and get a restraining order?

And, what about the recipient? How many contacts, requests, invitations, gifts does the object of our affect have to endure before s/he can hold up a hand and demand that we petitioners cease and desist? Don’t we each have a right to privacy, inviolate boundaries, being left alone if we so choose?

Have you been on the receiving end of any of this unexpected attention? At what point does it become unwanted to the point of harassment or stalking?

stalker not crush

Are signs of affection and sexual interest able to be labeled officially “unwanted” only after we realize (and then indicate overtly) that we do not reciprocate that person’s feelings and interest?

I ask because two of the main characters in my utopian/sci-fi/romance books in The Spanners Series, Clara Branon and Epifanio Dang, are embroiled in an on-again/off-again, does-he-or-doesn’t-he? (return her affections) multiverse/multiple timelines set of scenarios.

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I wonder if I’m depicting Epifanio’s reactions and position accurately or fairly, or Clara’s persistence as if she’s mentally healthy when, perhaps, she is not. In some of them, Epifanio feels a bit stalked, we find out, but “comes around.” In others, his conversations and encounters with Clara prompt him to discover that he does return her affection (a bit belatedly or surprisingly… to him). In still others, he does not share her feelings.

If you are unlucky enough not to have read even Volume I of my series (This Changes Everything, free ebook on Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, nook, Amazon; paperback $17.99 on CreateSpace and Amazon) what do you think of some of these real-life examples, below?

1) A well-educated, professional woman is in a high-powered, public position. Her male boss engaged in serial, non-stop harassment: he gave her horrifying, unwanted amounts of sexual interest and attention, and all the while he was married. She let him know right off not to touch her, to stop leaving notes, discontinue his arranging/ asking her to work late and be alone with him, etc., but he didn’t end any of it.

It seems pretty obvious that he violated every law and standard of human decency and scared the living SH*T out of her to boot. Plus, remember: he was already married. Plus, she TOLD HIM that she was completely not interested from the start. Plus, he was her boss. This went on for YEARS.

At one point, she asked for and got a transfer. But, a few months later, he re-arranged entire departments’ configurations to get back into her area and become her boss AGAIN!

She finally had to quit her job (on the advice of her medical provider because this guy and this situation were ruining her health). So, she’s suing for loss of income, mental anguish, being terrorized, etc., and because apparently she reported this to higher-ups and they DID NOTHING.

Clear harassment case, right?

sexual-harrassment-in-the-workplace
image from http://www.xceliq.com

But, what if this had been the other way around?

2) What if the attention, gifts, contrivances to be alone and touch the person at work are mostly (but not exclusively) coming from an underling toward her boss? Rather than a male boss harassing a female employee, what if a female employee begs for attention from her boss? AND, they are both single.

Add these facts: the boss keeps inviting this employee to go to the movies, take walks, eat lunch out together, share many snacks and private conversations, for years. He chooses repeatedly to confide in this employee, but they offically do not “date” or even share a kiss or any sexual contact. However, this boss touches his employees (including this one) frequently (on the shoulder, on the hand, on the head, an arm around a waist or shoulders of both males and females).

Only after the employee makes her feelings known in a letter to her boss does he say “no.” She then stops asking or inviting him further and retreats to professional behavior, but he is clearly uncomfortable from that point on.

What options does that boss have when the employee is otherwise exemplary in her position and perhaps indispensable to a small company? How can that boss claim he was “harassed” when so much of their relationship was completely mutual?

Would not this be labeled a “mutual workplace romance,” just one without the overt sexual element, and one in which—unfortunately for them both—all the feelings were not mutual?

divorcing workwife meme

I think some cases are crystal clear, but others are more murky.

3) What do you think about relationships between consenting adult teachers and adult students, particularly when the student approaches the teacher and is the one asking for affection to be returned?

What if, when the student is checking if the feelings are mutual, s/he finds out they are not? Is the relationship able successfully going to be able to revert to more formal role relationships or is it ruined?

4) What about when peers have unequal feelings: neighbors, friends, colleagues, fellow members of whatever group? What if some or one of these pairs is already in a relationship?

Before we know for sure that our feelings of affection and perhaps love are going to be unrequited, it’s all fine, especially if we haven’t revealed anything and the other person can be ignorant or pretend not to know (yet). Or, is it?

Are other people actually that dense? Do they really “not know”?

To be sure, then, we have to ask. Right? How can we find out our status without asking? Aren’t there countless movies, TV shows, books and other examples from our lives in which the person who knows first about loving the other one “should have said something sooner” because the feelings really were mutual, but both were afraid to say so? A lot of time can be “wasted” by not declaring our feelings, true?

Here is my favorite movie scene (with a song, of course) in which the love revelation is welcomed and the feelings ARE mutual:


or https://youtu.be/rm5MDenG5QY
Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore,” from Rock of Ages.

Consider, though, when the feelings are not mutual: once we ask about theirs and reveal our own feelings, but we are not “on the same page,” is everything doomed between us? Do things between us become awkward to the point of having a relationships that is impossible to salvage?

crush hearts

Your stories and comments are welcomed here. I’m curious.

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the third in a series about my experiences here. This third one is on poor people’s rights. The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL). The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is important because it looks at the underlying issues that make a difficult situation (being poor) worse or better for each person. The intersections of perceived or claimed race/ethnicity, perceived or claimed gender, perceived or claimed social class, perceived or claimed age, home/best language, physical and mental health and (dis)abilities, perceived or claimed religion, perceived or claimed sexual orientation, and economic status in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the mid-20teens, can adversely influence, improve or neutrally affect one’s experiences every moment.

“Intersectionality” is an important part of understanding how poverty impacts each person and family differently. Therefore, in this series, I need to bring in the politics of social identity. We all have to learn to address these overlapping oppressions and unfair treatments to help ourselves understand how everything is NOT actually “equal” regardless of the similarities in two people’s incomes.

intersectionality
Intersectionality includes all of these components of one’s social identity.

It’s not “all good.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It ISN’T what it IS “naturally”: people and then institutions run by people make things this way and create/perpetuate systems that keep them this way.

Missouri is one of the worst places to be if you’re poor, but it’s not even the worst by any standards. Your experience all depends on the other components of your social identity. If you’re believed to be a white male, seemingly in good health and able-bodied, perceived to be heterosexual, assumed to be Christian, speaking mid-Western-accented English like a native, have at least some college education and otherwise seeming to be a USA “mainstream” guy between the ages of 25 – 65, you are going to be much better treated and fare better even when you’re poor than if you do not claim or cannot pull off having others believe you have all or any of those social identities.

If you’re also not a felon, have a place to live (a legal address) and (the use of) a car, you’re probably not going to be poor for very long.

Unless you’re obese. Unless you’re smelly. Unless you’re an addict. Unless you’re perceived to be “not one of us” in whatever way “us” is defined: then, you’re in some trouble. But, even with those cards stacked against you, as a poor assumed-to-be-white & -Christian with some education who speaks adequate English and can pass for straight and male and under age 65, you’re still going to be better off than anyone who isn’t.

no isms allowed

Change one aspect—gender—and things automatically get much worse. Change two—ethnicity/race and gender—and you’re doomed.

Check this out, from Everyday Feminism, June 20, 2015 by Carmen Rios “These 5 Statistics Prove That We’re Feminizing Poverty (And Keeping Women Down in the Process)” http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/feminizing-poverty/
— “Despite the overall poverty rate declining in America, 18 million women remain below the poverty line.”
—“Women are poorer than men in every state, regardless of education or geographic location. And for women of color, elderly women, and LGBTQIA+ women, it’s even worse.”
—“The poverty rate for Native American, Black, and Latina women is almost double the poverty rate for white women.”
—“For women, and especially women of color, the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 or $15 is very personal—and could be the difference, for them, between barely surviving and finally thriving.”
—“…over a lifetime, women lose an average of $434,000 to the wage gap.”
—“One of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is the understanding that when we fight for the most marginalized women, we liberate all women along with them.”

And, from other sources (see below) that add in education and other factors to race/ethnicity and gender with income levels:
—“White households take home between $10,000 to $20,000 more per year than their Black counterparts in every age bracket”
—“Enrollment in ‘high poverty’ schools for Black children is 41 percent, 38 percent for Hispanic children, 31 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native and a mere six percent for Whites.”
—“Even when Black and minority children attend mixed schools, they are more likely to be tracked into remedial or basic classes while their White counterparts take advanced, honors level courses.”
—“70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for school-related infractions were Black or Latino.”
—“While people of color only comprise about 30 percent of the US population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
—“There is no such thing as unbiased, unpolitical education.”
—“People with ‘Black’ or ‘ethnic-sounding’ names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews.”
—“Blacks are more likely to be born into poverty and are less likely to escape it.”
—“Whites are 2-3 times more likely to make it into the middle class in their lifetimes compared to their black counterparts.”

poverty-is-violence
from http://iamarevolutionary.wordpress.com
Poverty IS violence. It has to stop.

Find a well-vetted nonprofit that advocates and works to end poverty and understands intersectionality and contribute, volunteer, blog about their work! Here is one: http://www.results.org/

Good news! We made this mess; we can clean it up.

Mandela quote about poverty
Nelson Mandela, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and so many more have spoken out about the nature of the human-made elements of our social and political systems and the oppressions they systematize.

WE are the ones who must advocate, complain, recognize that we are entitled to better and that so is everyone else, and ACT!

—Do not sit by and watch passively when others are mistreated, disrespected, unfairly scheduled or managed, especially when you are in any position of better privilege: it is your DUTY to advocate whenever you are able.
—Write letters, blog, make phone calls, picket, march, show up and let those in power know you are not satisfied with the “status quo.” Be specific.
—VOTE! It is your DUTY and responsibility as a USA citizen who can vote (if you are one) to use that right in EVERY election. It is the LOCAL elections that most affect people who live near you, and regional and state office holders who make laws that affect us all. Federal elections matter, too, but not as obviously or as immediately.

WIN_20141104_095753 I VOTE! And, as of early March, I am working as a election-day supervisor at a local polling place!

—THEREFORE, do not ignore bond issues, council and mayoral elections, county positions, state office holders’ elections and only vote on presidential ballots. ALL VOTES MATTER!

Want to know more? Have a read:

From October, 2015, inGenere.it: “Intersectionality. Putting together
things that are often kept apart” by Jeff Hearn
http://www.ingenere.it/en/articles/intersectionality-putting-together-things-are-often-kept-apart

From February, 2015, NPR: “Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School” by Karen Grigsby Bates
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/13/384005652/study-black-girls-are-being-pushed-out-of-school

From February, 2015, the the Frisky: “18 Things White America Needs To Reconcile To Truly Become Colorblind” by Tiffanie Drayton
http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-02-26/18-things-white-america-needs-to-reconcile-to-truly-become-colorblind/

If you appreciated this series, please reblog/share it, comment, ask to be a guest blogger and contribute your own point of view or write on a related topic: http://www.sallyember.com

This third post was on advocacy and intersectionality (published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2).
The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL).
The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

Food Stamps and Food Issues for Poor People in St. Louis

Food Stamps (SNAP, EBT) and Food Issues for Poor People in St. Louis

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the second in a series about my experiences here. This one is on food for indigent people in Missouri. The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is about the government-subsidized “food support,” formerly called “Food Stamps,” now called “SNAP” for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

snaplogo

What makes Missouri so bad for poor people? For one thing, this state is very Republican-dominated. Despite many of the speeches given by congressional and senatorial representatives from this party, their votes speak loudly: they keep lowering the amounts poor people can receive in all types of assistance and have repeatedly voted to reduce food support. This state also still calls its program “Food Stamps,” but adds “SNAP” so people will know what it is. http://dss.mo.gov/fsd/fstamp/

Missouri’s unfortunate and lethal combination of machismo, arrogance, obstinacy and ignorance have caused millions of Missourians who cannot afford to buy sufficient amounts or types of food for themselves and/or their children to go without food, especially near the end of each month’s benefits period (the food money runs out). Not only are the benefits woefully and abysmally low, even at their highest levels, they arrive in one lump at the beginning of each monthly period. Even the best budgeters can’t make insufficient funds last throughout a month.

“Missouri is among states where legislators this year have considered bills that would curb welfare benefits” and continues to demonstrate its disdain for the poor, blaming the victims and putting economic pressure on the weakest of us to try to shore up the state’s failing budget. The Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon, vetoes these bills, but then the “representatives” usually have the votes to override his vetoes. On it goes, this heinous battle for who can sink the lowest first. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/04/missouri-welfare-restrict_n_7209458.html

Missouri and other state SNAP programs are now in the computer age. SNAP currently issues a debit-type card to recipients which is an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) unit that looks a lot like any other debit card. I’m sure this has alleviated a lot of the embarrassment many users had previously felt when producing their pink paper food stamps at the grocery check-out line. Now, we kind of “blend in,” putting our card through the same reader everyone who uses credit or debit cards uses to make our payments.

SNAP to health
from http://www.snaptohealth.org

Except when we don’t. Most times, even when I tell the register operator that I am using an EBT for SNAP, they punch in the wrong codes and it doesn’t work. Or, they do it correctly, but neither of us knows exactly how much the receipt total will be for until the card is used (SNAP card users get to avoid paying the tax on food that others pay). Worse, there is no way prior to being in the check-out process for a user to know exactly how much is left on the EBT to use.

Here is a typical process for me.
—I get in line (can’t use the self-service machines for EBT/SNAP)
—I put my food on the conveyor
—I get to the card reader while the register operator is still scanning my food so that I am sure to mention to him/her that I am using SNAP
—S/he nods or otherwise acknowledges that I told him/her this (important to get confirmation: they often do not hear me or don’t know what I mean)
—I put my EBT card through the reader.
Hopefully, it reads my card correctly (doesn’t always) and
—I press the right buttons (always confusing, since the buttons are arranged differently in every card reader I’ve seen, so far: not always using the same colors designating the choices or putting the choices in the same position)
—We get to the end of the food scanning
—S/he presses whatever buttons (not always correctly) to accept my EBT card as payment
—I either do or do not have sufficient funds on the card to pay for this amount of food (which I only know at this point)
—If so, we proceed and I am done
—If not, we have to start over with the reader, putting only the amount I actually have into the register operator’s process to take only that amount from my EBT
—Then I have a choice: pay in cash or use a debit card (if I have the funds) for the rest, or put the rest of the food back/don’t take it home.

I think it’s obvious that this process is not quick, or at least, not as quick as using cash or a debit/ credit card. When the lines are long, I dread getting into one because these “delays” cause impatience to arise in those in line behind me. I have a fairly thick skin, so to speak, so I don’t care about how impatient people are. We all have to wait, sometimes.

However, others do care about others’ opinions, so it makes many SNAP users anxious to go through the check-out process, as you can well imagine. Many times, when I was more flush, I gave the SNAP users in lines ahead of me some money when their EBT cards were shown to carry insufficient amounts for the entire purchase and the users clearly didn’t have any cash or funds to cover the rest of the food.

Confession: I was less likely to offer money when the purchases of the SNAP user seemed “frivolous” or “junky” to me. Awful judgment call on my part and really, none of my business. But, at the time, I felt quite high-and-mighty, telling myself I was “doing them and their kids a favor” if they didn’t get to bring home that sugary or salty treat. Why, I wonder now, does anyone believe we suddenly have the right or ethical duty to pass judgment on someone’s food purchases simply because they’re poor? We leave all the horrible choices of the middle- and upper-class to themselves, so why do we believe we are entitled to assess those of the poorest among us?

News flash; poor people are not stupider, less informed, less competent or any other judgment the better-off can levy just by being currently without enough money. Money does NOT make anyone smarter, more informed, competent or anything else, automatically. We all know plenty of wealthier people without a clue, don’t we?

In other horrible news, SNAP makes us “re-qualify” every year even if our benefits are for a two-year period. This means recipients are able to be—and, in my case, I was—penalized if we earn even a little bit of money. My SNAP benefits were reduced by half (and were insufficient to begin with) when I reported that I had earned some income from freelance proofreading/editing and doing occasional childcare, even though the total earned was less than $1000/month and more often, not even half that. Look at the chart below for how low these monthly benefits are for an entire month and picture this: you have ONLY this amount to pay for all food for 4.3 weeks (30 – 31 days):

Family size: 1 2 3 4

Maximum benefit level: $155 $284 $408 $518

So, if you’re math-impaired, consider these actual figures:
—the individual SNAP allotment comes to about $36/week, or $5.14/day per individual.
—For a family of two, it comes to $33/week/person, not even $4.70/day, which is LESS per week than if you’re on your own.
—For a family of three, usually one parent and two children, they get only $32/week/person, which is $4.53/day per person!
The larger the family, the less the family gets per person.

What is the logic, here? That kids eat less than adults? Incorrect, unless they’re under 7 years old.

Or, maybe they live in a fairy-tale land, in which they believe larger families can buy “in bulk.” Well, that only works if a family has enough money in hand to purchase the larger amount of chicken or rice or beans, which they often would not have, since the total amount provided by SNAP and workers’ wages is insufficient. When a family doesn’t have enough money to buy food, how can anyone buy MORE food per grocery visit?

Doesn’t work.

Over the last 2 years of my own experiences as a poorer person but one who has many resources others do not have (a great and safe place to live, family members to help me, a car, higher education and advocacy skills, among the best) and seeing these SNAP figures, above, I understand the motivation that spurs poorer people to become criminals just to make ends meet. Why the hell not?

I’m not advocating a life of crime, but I certainly can empathize the reasoning better, now.

When our government fails to support those in the most need, what are the needy supposed to do?

Meanwhile, some help is better than none. How can people get fed, then?
—If a family has young children or the mother is pregnant, that mom and kids can also get further food support (very restricted, but food and juice, nonetheless) from WIC (Women and Infant Care) and (minimal) cash from TANF (Temporary Aid to Need Families, formerly known as “welfare”).
—If one is disabled and/or a senior, one can get Social Security disability and/or retirement benefits to supplement these paltry SNAP monthly allotments.

For basic SNAP information and links to your state’s SNAP website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

Good news! Many health food stores, farmers’ markets and alternative grocery stores now accept SNAP.

we accept SNAP

However, the poorer among us face an entirely different problem that I personally don’t experience (that good fortune is due to my being able to live with my mom). Those who live in “high-poverty” areas now often inhabit regions that have become what are known as “food deserts”: because the larger chains and independent grocery stores refuse to locate or stay in these neighborhoods, there is literally nowhere to go grocery shopping. If you live in a “food desert,” you are screwed. Bad enough that you already have less means (no car, no money for gas), horribly skimpy SNAP funds and little time (those who do have jobs work hourly and must show up on time and leave when they’re scheduled to leave, period). You now are somehow also supposed to travel great distances (often when there is no viable public or any public transportation, so how are you going to accomplish that?) to get to a decent, fairly priced grocery store or to get anywhere that sells any fresh food at all.

People who live in “food deserts” can sometimes purchase food that is close to where they live, but it is usually from “convenience” stores or gas stations’ stores. Their “food shelves” and “hot bars” are typically stocked with low-nutrition, high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar, deep-fried or microwavable, high in “empty” (simple) carbs, over-priced options only: no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables, not much good protein, almost no complex carbs and very few choices that are even close to being healthy.

YOU might be able to help change this! https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-food-deserts Help populate “food deserts” with good food sources and/or bring better public transportation to these areas.

And, just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, now it’s 2016. SNAP recipients between ages 18 – 49 stand to lose what little SNAP benefits we do get if we aren’t working “sufficiently,” but more of us than ever still need SNAP and many cannot work or work “sufficiently.”

Want to know more? Have a read:

From January, 2016, Cleveland.com: “Over 1 million face loss of food stamps over work requirements”
http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2016/01/over_1_million_face_loss_of_fo.html

From January, 2016, American Enterprise Institute: “Are SNAP benefits really too low?” by Angela Rachidi
https://www.aei.org/publication/are-snap-benefits-really-too-low/

From February, 2016, the Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans: “Despite ‘recovery,’ more Americans using food stamps, at a higher cost”
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/despite_recovery_more_american.html

Next in this series, February 23, 2016: Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2

This second is on food for indigent people in Missouri, published on February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL.
The first one is on health care, published on February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By.
The third post is/was on advocacy and intersectionality, (to be) published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2.

My Experiences with being Indigent in Missouri: County/Federally Funded Clinics

My Experiences with being Indigent in Missouri: County/Federally Funded Clinics

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident almost two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the first in a series about my experiences here. This one is on health care for indigent people in Missouri.

What makes Missouri so bad for poor people? For one thing, this state is very Republican-dominated. Among other horrors, this means its idiotic legislature refused to approve the expansion of Medicaid in 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016 for the new USA health care systems (Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”) that some other states, like California, were smart enough to utilize.

Missouri’s unfortunate and lethal combination of machismo, arrogance, obstinacy and ignorance have caused millions of Missourians who cannot afford even the minimal payments (over $200/month plus co-pays, for me) to be without any health care or insurance if we are not over 65 and/or disabled or under 18, because these the only groups Medicaid and Medicare cover in Missouri at this time.

St. Louis is somewhat Democratically dominated, which means some of its legislators and leaders applied for and received federal and state funds to create a health insurance “work-around,” called “Gateway to Better Health.” https://www.stlgbh.com/programoverview

GBHLogoAlt5

They are quick to tell us that this is NOT an insurance plan because it is not “portable” excerpt for emergencies, and even then, not so much. What it does do is entitle its few qualified users to avail ourselves of its paltry network of federally qualified health care clinics located within St. Louis County and surrounds.

The closest clinics in these networks to where my mom lives are minimally (with no traffic) about a 30-minute drive in any of three directions, and only one houses the pharmacy (the furthest one, of course). I chose the one that was “closest,” which is about 28 minutes from our condo. It is in Ferguson.

Yes. That Ferguson.

Despite having been only a few months since the demonstrations, riots and protests surrounding the murder and announcement of the appalling lack of indictment of the murderer of Michael Brown, I decided to utilize this clinic solely because of its location. However, I didn’t understand until I got there that Ferguson is very spread-out, geographically. This clinic is not located close to the site of any of the disturbances. Even so, this clinic has an unarmed (at least, no visible gun) guard. I found out later that all the clinics have guards; the pharmacy has two.

Prior to this set of experiences, my only contact with federally qualified health care clinics had been as a volunteer reception clerk/translator for the Jewish Community Free Clinic in Sonoma County (no guards) in the mid-2000’s which served many farmworkers and other newly arrived immigrants with little English and no health insurance, and as a co-writer of a grant to start a regional clinic in southwestern New Mexico in the early 2000s (which was funded and is still running but which I never visited because I moved to California before it opened). I had never been a patient in such a clinic before 2014.

Here are some of my experiences as a patient, 2014 – 2016, in the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Center on West Florissant, in the city of Ferguson, and the main BJK PHC clinic in St. Louis city on Delmar Boulevard (to access the pharmacy). http://www.phcenters.org/

Some are positive, many negative, some neutral.

Let me start by saying I am grateful for many aspects of this stop-gap health care coverage (NOT insurance), such as:
—- to have access to three necessary prescription medications at no or low-cost (the BJK PHC pharmacy does not carry my alternative thyroid medicine, even though CVS does)
—- to have a clinic to go to when I need to check on my health status for chronic conditions (hypertension, hypothyroid)
— to have regular blood work done and reviewed to make sure my medications are the right dosage and are working (hypertension, hypothyroid; very nice and competent phlebotomists whom I found out are NOT clinic employees but located on site from another agency; the internist never discusses my results with me at the time and rarely provides any follow-up from these results until three months later, so what is the point of that?)
— to get a referral from my “primary care doctor” (whom I saw four times, then switched away from because he was awful) to a neurologist to continue my care and get further diagnoses/prognoses for the after-effects of the concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury (very useful)
— to have another colonoscopy procedure (I turned 60 in 2014, and since my grandmother had died of colon cancer, I was supposed to have had my second check-up last year but had missed it due to having moved and having had no health care for a while) (thankfully, clear)
— to have a biannual mammogram (thankfully, clear, but the technician was rough with me and cut my skin which caused a stubborn infection that took months to heal)
— to have a triannual pap smear and gynecological check-up (thankfully, all clear as well, but with an awful ob/gyn who insulted me and treated me disrespectfully; won’t be seeing her again; see below)
— to have a dental check-up and cleaning (thankfully, no problems) up to twice a year (I have gone twice but the second visit was horrendous and did not result in my having services; see below)
— to have a clinic to go to when I need to check on my health status for acute conditions (which I haven’t done and probably would not use it for, since I use homeopathics and herbs for most viruses and infections).

Here is the main problem: this clinic (and probably many others like it) are health care “mills.” They get reimbursed for procedures, not time. If doctors order blood work, diagnostics that require machines or surgery to provide the data for the diagnoses, like urinalysis, the clinic gets paid for each component. If they just talk to a patient, very little money comes to them.

So, guess what?

These doctors order a lot of unnecessary diagnostics:
annual X-rays for dental patients even when we don’t need or want them and national and regional guidelines do NOT recommend having X-rays every year any more for anyone without serious dental problems that require them (I do not have any serious problems, luckily); they would not give me an exam, a cleaning or a polishing of my teeth because I refused to allow X-rays 12 months after the first set were done
blood work every three months to “qualify” me for my prescriptions even though the results are NOT used to determine whether I receive them nor what dosage to provide for me; I cannot get my prescriptions refilled unless I submit to these blood tests
urinalysis every three months even though I have no symptoms and have had none for problems that these diagnostic could analyze and I never hear about the results then or later; however, patients are not allowed to use the urinalysis rest room while still in the waiting area, and because many of us need to use the rest room while we are waiting for our appointments (which are never on time), we therefore, can’t provide a usable sample by the time we are called
annual mammogram (which I will not do that frequently, since biannual or triannual are now recommended for my age group and health status) and annual pap smear (ditto) when national and global guidelines do NOT recommend doing these so often for any women without history of cancer
X-rays for muscular problems which show nothing, since X-rays cannot show muscles well; my former internist insisted I get an X-ray prior to getting any other diagnostics when I told him I was having pain in the muscles and nerves of one hip; my bones are fine and have been for many decades, but he wouldn’t listen to my patient-provided information at all (another reason I ditched him); then he “forgot” to order the other diagnostics for six more months (two more visits; another reason I switched internists last fall)

Is it relevant or irrelevant that I was one of only two Caucasian-looking people in the entire clinic— staff and patients included—for all of my 10 visits, to date? FYI, the actual population of St. Louis County, demographically (2010 and updated census) is: 70% “White,” 24% “Black,” about 4% “Asian,” 3% “Hispanic,” and about 1% “other.”

How significant is it that I have to wait more than 20 minutes every time I go, even when my appointment is supposedly the first one scheduled? For about 5 minutes or fewer per visit with my internist, I have to be at the clinic for over 2 hours, mostly waiting: between blood work and being seen, urinalysis and being seen, nurses checking my vitals and being seen, etc. Who, besides those who are under- or unemployed or on salary (and wouldn’t be here, then) has time for this insult to our value?

The doctors I have seen are almost without exception disrespectful to the patients: they don’t listen to or regard the information I provide with careful consideration.

For example, even when I told him I had no interest in getting any unnecessary medications, even for pain, this internist insisted on putting unnecessary and unwanted prescriptions into my record and making those recommendations in a print-out they gave me after each visit (which I did not fill).

Worse, the ob/gyn doctor was mean-spirited in her language (which I won’t repeat here) when describing my genitals and tried to scare/threaten/shame me into getting an unnecessary procedure. Luckily, I am informed and I remembered what my previous ob/gyns had told me about my body, so I felt fine about ignoring her, but what if I hadn’t been so fortunate?

Third, and what prompted this blog post, the dentist was horrible. This dentist insisted that I get X-rays. I told her that I didn’t need or want them after only one year since the last set and that the current guidelines agreed with me. She then adamantly refused to clean or examine my teeth if I did not agree to having these unnecessary X-rays. She claimed this was the clinic’s “policy,” but when I asked to see this supposed policy in writing, she refused to provide it. She then went to get the guard, who threatened to call the police if I didn’t immediately leave. According to him, even though this was during my appointment time, this dental chair was “needed for another patient” (!?). I told them both I was not leaving until they showed me this X-ray requirement in writing.

They started yelling. I yelled back. Despite my lack of fear and not feeling intimidated, I was finally so disgusted and frustrated that I no longer wanted her or anyone else there even to touch my teeth.

I left.

What kind of “health care” clinic tries to force unnecessary procedures, medications and diagnoses on its patients and then threatens us when we refuse to comply?

peopleslogo2

USA federal clinics, I now know. So do many others. Want to know more? Have a read:

From May, 2015, New Yorker magazine: “Overkill: An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?” by Atul Gawande http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/11/overkill-atul-gawande

and, from the MinnPost, also in May, 2015: “How an ‘avalanche of unnecessary medical care’ is harming us — and what can be done about it,” by Susan Perry
https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2015/05/how-avalanche-unnecessary-medical-care-harming-us-and-what-can-be-done-about-

And, right here in good ole’ Missouri, August 13, 2015: “Missouri Hospital Agrees to Pay United States $5.5 Million to Settle Alleged False Claims Act Violations”
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/missouri-hospital-agrees-pay-united-states-55-million-settle-alleged-false-claims-act

Furthermore, recent nation-wide problems: “Top 5 Healthcare Fraud Cases in 2015”: http://www.medicfp.com/top-5-healthcare-fraud-cases-in-2015/
This is so awful: “Even though the amount of money recovered in 2015 is impressive, that is just a drop in the bucket for the amount of healthcare fraud that occurs, and is never reported or recovered each year. The U.S. spends over 3 trillion dollars on healthcare benefits each year, and according to a recent FICO study, roughly 10% of healthcare expenditures are fraud. This means that our country loses over 300 billion a year to healthcare fraud, nearly 1 billion dollars every day!”

From Florida to California, including almost every state, here the “worst offenders of 2015”:
http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/slideshow/biggest-healthcare-frauds-2015-running-list

Users, beware.

Next in this series: Food Stamps and Food Issues for Poor People in St. Louis http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL

This first one is on health care, published on February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By.
The second is/was on food for indigent people in Missouri (to be) published on February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL.
The third post is/was on advocacy and intersectionality, (to be) published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2.

My recommendations are on “SF SIGNAL” “MIND MELD” “This Is What We Want To Read In 2016”!

My recommendations are on “SF SIGNAL” “MIND MELD” “This Is What We Want To Read In 2016”!

Andrea Johnson was kind enough to invite and include me in this amazing roster of #speculative #fiction authors’ recommendations for upcoming spec fiction books we are looking forward to reading this year.

Mine are near the middle of the list, this time.

Visit, comment, subscribe!

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2016/01/target-113mind-meld-want-read-2016/

What about other 2016 new releases in Speculative Fiction? There are so many lists/books!

Goodreads has a list:
https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new_releases/science-fiction

Here, via Barnes & Noble, some editors/publishers/bookstore owners are tooting their own horns, so to speak (hawking their own company’s books)? First:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/2016-books-sff-editors-want-you-to-read/

then, with lots of overlap, this one:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/42-sff-books-we-cant-wait-to-read-in-2016-in-2-sentences-or-less/

If you’re focused on #Fantasy and want to know when most upcoming releases (from predominantly/exclusively MALE authors, which I’m sure is some kind of weird accident… sure, it is) that are already scheduled are due to be available, use this new-releases calendar (most do not have covers, yet):
http://www.bestfantasybookshq.com/best-fantasy-books-2016/

A much better and more inclusive list, here, from Locus Online:
http://www.locusmag.com/Resources/ForthcomingBooks.html

Why do I Torment Myself with Sappy Movies in December?

Why do I Torment Myself with Sappy Movies in December?

  • These movies make no sense. The internal logic falls apart almost immediately, or at least within the first quarter hour. There are wizardly Santas, wish-granting entities or objects, time-travel, alternate realities, magic spells and “coincidences” galore in these movies. I don’t only have to “suspend my disbelief”: I have to turn off my brain almost entirely.
  • The characters are two-dimensional, predictable and ridiculously simplistic. No one can possibly be that shallow, that stupid, that naive, that obvious. Yet, there they are, in film after film, on USA, TNT, TBS, Hallmark, AMC and other movie channels and network television stations.

    romantic movies ruin relationships
    image from http://memegenerator.net

  • These plots and characters are idiotic. The stories are anti-feminist or anti-intelligence or both. The messages, especially for women, include such tropes as: “Don’t have an interesting career or meet anyone ‘new’: go ‘home’ and be with someone from high school so that you can live within your family’s sphere because that’s the only way to ‘be happy.'” For those with successful careers or high-powered jobs, the messages are: “Being a successful person can’t possibly make you ‘happy’; only ‘love’ can do that.”

    Repeated favorites are also the usual “beginning” in which they have the “meet-cute between some ‘ordinary’ person and someone ‘royal/wealthy.'” Next, we “hear” these messages: “Despite your complete unsuitability, s/he will want to be with you. Even if you’re a hotel maid or other ‘peon’ with nothing in common regarding backgrounds or experiences, don’t worry: you’ll live ‘happily ever after.’ So, everyone should aspire/expect to be swept up by someone rich and powerful at any moment. Never mind if that person is your employer, your subject, your client/patient or your nemesis: ‘it’s all good.'”

  • The endings and beginnings are unsatisfying and incomplete: inevitably, these movies end with the main characters’ having their first (and sometimes only) kiss, or their wedding ceremony, or their engagement/proposal and response, or some other “beginning.” However, this event occurs after about 90 minutes’ worth of false starts, wrong turns, disrespect and/or disregard. How could they trust each other (or themselves, for that matter) after one or both of them has ignored the signs and/or the other person, misread them or misunderstood them for their entire relationship up to that point?
  • These characters lie and cheat their way to “happiness.” Often, one or both has been about to begin with /marry someone else entirely. Then, at almost the last minute, one or both of the main characters changes his/her mind and breaks that relationship off in order to be with the other main character instead. There is also usually no honesty from the deceiver regarding how long s/he has harbored feelings for the other protagonist, either. Yet, somehow, all lying and liars (if they are the protagonists, that is) are forgiven.

    hallmark-christmas movies
    image from http://smilingldsgirl.com

  • The protagonists hurt others. Let’s talk about the person whose heart s/he just broke by calling off the engagement/wedding, ending the ongoing relationship. Usually, the filmmakers/writers make that person seem “deserving” of being rejected by showing him/her to be unreliable, like being a cheater or a liar, or being secretly (not-so-secretly) a jerk or insincere, just in it for the money or status, for example. But what about when that person is actually great, but has the misfortune to be suddenly “wrong” for the protagonist? We don’t see how the rejected ones cope with the ending of their dreams, do we?
  • The romantic couple starts with a shaky foundation. How can there be any trust in the person who just betrayed their beloved? How can the new love, the family, the friends, support this change of heart so readily?
  • How can these people trust their own judgment? One or both of them was about to be committed to one person, then, after very little stimulation or information, they make a decision to end that and commit to someone else, all in a very short span of time while relying on very little “real-life” experience of being involved with the new person. Of course, this new “love interest” or “best friend-turned-lover” is conventionally beautiful/handsome. That doesn’t hurt, eh?
  • Then, there is the issue of questionable compatibility. Seriously: these two main characters have not spent much time together, never been intimate or even kissed, and suddenly, they decide they are perfect for each other and decide to get married? Unless they are acknowledging that many marriages head into divorce quite quickly, how can anyone be glad that these two people are starting a long-term commitment without sufficient information and experience about each other?
  • How do they live with the way they started? I try to imagine the moments after that kiss, or on the honeymoon, or about a month or so into their new relationship. Wouldn’t one or both of them ask: “Honey? How is it that you love me/want me now, but you didn’t for x number of weeks/months/years? What exactly was your problem then and how do I know you won’t develop that problem again?” or something like that.

    romance movie pack
    image from http://www.amazon.com

  • Why do I do this to myself? Why do I watch so many of these movies each year? It’s as if I’ve been ensorceled, doomed to watch helplessly while believing uselessly in these “happy endings,” time after time, even though I know how false they are.

I admit it: I get weepy when they “find” each other. I still enjoy the seemingly “happy ending.”

Maybe I’m always hoping for a “happy ending” to a romantic story of my own.

Wish me good luck with that.

hopeless-romantic_design
image from http://everydaylifewithmo.wordpress.com

Share! Read! Act! #Refugees #Crises: Thanks, David Amerland, for aiding

SHARE! READ! ACT! If you’re not on Google+, you’re missing out on many things. David Amerland​’s “SUNDAY READS” are some of them https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/MVBSX : Read them all!

gplus-sunday-read-September-062015

Here is today’s. URGENTLY need you to read this and ACT!

My comments:
“My favorite of all your ‘SUNDAY READS,’ David Amerland, because you provide calls to action of many types and degrees, from opening up our minds and hearts to our homes to our wallets to our ‘mouths’! THANK YOU!

“We are not helpless, but we need reminding and we need direction.

“SHARE! READ! ACT! #refugees #crises”
and
“The irony and karmic balancing that brings German leaders to help Semitic peoples…perfect.”

David Amerland originally shared to SUNDAY READ:

“‘We are alone, there is no one, help us!'”

“The contextual basis of our existence never becomes more evident than when we face what we sometimes disparagingly call ‘first world problems.’ Over the last few weeks I have been buried in business reports the urgent and pressured changes being made to the draft chapters of a book going to print and the inevitable everyday pressure of emails, articles, requests for interviews, comments and quotes.

“My life, to all intents and purposes, has been circumscribed by the immediate needs being pressed upon me, the narrow context of something that I have to do in a very limited space of time. Meanwhile, at the back of my mind, every time I dip across the web I sense the change in the world around me.

“As the sum total of largely man-made disasters accumulates around the globe, for the first time in our century, we face a mass movement of people, an Exodus (http://goo.gl/fWIurF) that’s the largest since WWII: http://goo.gl/leWg1X

“As hundreds of thousands of refugees flooded cash-strapped and ill-prepared Greece which is struggling to cope: http://goo.gl/rdlHbq The Economist ran a piece on why this is happening: http://goo.gl/kWZYjM. Europe, one of the world’s richest areas, is paralyzed by the refugee crisis: http://goo.gl/V2AO7e unable to formulate a coherent policy, its leaders largely incapable of understanding the right thing to do instead of the politically expedient thing to say, are left floundering (again) – adrift in a situation that is evolving too fast for them to formulate a politically palatable soundbite.

“This has left the nation-state behaving like any system under siege, led by people who feel overwhelmed would: defensively. Hungary put up fences, ironically spending over 100 Million Euros (http://goo.gl/hlTg7Q) and using inmates to help keep costs down – its effectiveness already under question and its morality under attack: http://goo.gl/D5GUbc. Germany (http://goo.gl/D68U6r) and the UK (http://goo.gl/TF1c6w) have seen a far-right resurgence as the issue of immigration gets muddled with the refugee crisis and colored with anti-Islamist rhetoric (http://goo.gl/OFE0PZ).

“While politicians flip-flop on the issue and parliaments debate without anything being resolved the unfolding crisis gets deeper, its images, unrelentingly grimmer: 71 people die, suffocating in the back of a refrigeration truck in Austria: http://goo.gl/bs4oe9. A father, desperately trying to get his family to safety, left in charge of a sinking boat is left to pick up their lifeless bodies: http://goo.gl/XN3Ysl the picture of this seemingly insignificant tragedy in a massive tide of human pain, suddenly personifying exactly what’s happening: http://goo.gl/P8D5uc.

“Death, usually only takes on meaning when it can be given a human face: http://goo.gl/KqaPKf. Its story made to reflect the big picture (http://goo.gl/DYxw8E) behind it that made it possible to happen in the first place: http://goo.gl/XN3Ysl.

“You’d be forgiven for thinking that there is little hope. That the world is a dark, vile place (http://goo.gl/gVeb2v). That those we entrust to lead us betray us (http://goo.gl/qWaAbL). That we, might as we try, cannot change anything, that really – context and content, our ‘first world problems’ – our issues with efficiency, marketing, selling and buying. The lawns that need to be cut and the BBQs that need to be lit and the things that make our life ‘real’ are, should be perhaps, not just what we should worry about but what we must worry about. Our security blanket. The sedative we reach for to distract us from what we cannot change, what we cannot affect. What we feel powerless against.

“This not what’s happening here. The same ‘first world problems’ that make our attention sometimes focus on the seemingly inconsequential, also become the driver for creating social media tools and the motive force for forging new ways of operating.

“Against the frequently stated, kneejerk, absurd and intellectually impoverished charge of ‘social media distracts us from real life’ and ‘social media stops us from having a life’ stands the starkness of the impact of a crisis that’s being felt even through the many layers of the pressures that surround us daily.

“Social media, connectivity, technology – for all their imperfections, also make it impossible to switch off, impossible to ignore and impossible to deny. No more ‘I didn’t know’ (http://goo.gl/6N0sXL) defense lines. We now know and feel and understand and agonize and think.

“And unlike our elected leaders, refreshingly, we act. A US man ‘grabbed’ a ship and set off to do something about it: http://goo.gl/dcGtE6. Icelanders (whose government caps immigration to 50 a year) opened up their homes, actively offering to help take in refugees: http://goo.gl/EkkbPi. Buckling under pressure from home Germany and Austria opened their doors: http://goo.gl/bO90rn internet shaming having at least one positive effect.

“It doesn’t stop there.

“The Refugees Welcome website uses people power and crowdsourcing (the same idea that brought us Airbnb) to change the way we respond to the refugee crisis: http://goo.gl/11E1ty. Petitions (http://goo.gl/MDY4Bt) are having the desired effect as EU refugee policy is changing: http://goo.gl/0qNqpE. If you’re in the UK you can sign the online petition to increase support for refugees and asylum seekers: https://goo.gl/1fDi1k you can add further pressure by signing The Independent’s petition form: http://goo.gl/qcOJ45.

“This is not an EU problem (http://goo.gl/fsqRe8). It is a people problem. It is a global problem, which people, seeing people in trouble can help solve. In New Zealand you can add your voice to those who want change to the refugee quota: https://goo.gl/wCmxjy. On Facebook the ‘Open Homes, Open Hearts’ initiative helps US citizens add their voice to the tide: https://goo.gl/bZsLqJ and a petition on the White House website could really do with your signature: https://goo.gl/tZy3tT.

“This could have been a really dark, hopeless ‘Sunday Read.’ The issues raised here are deep, potentially divisive. They are the kind that our elected officials feel powerless to deal with quickly. Yet, the very same tools that allow me to somewhat flippantly talk about the need to have plenty of coffee at hand and a mountain of sugary treats, allow us to connect, share, and actually do something ourselves, first. Even something as small as sharing a petition in our social media channels to help raise its visibility and awareness.

“We may be small. But we are not powerless. We may feel alone, but we really are not. We may think that nothing changes, but here’s proof that things are. The world is connecting across lines that officials do not foresee and cannot control. We self organize (https://goo.gl/vgukwN), create forces of our own, drive change in ways that only our ‘first world concerns’ can prepare us for.

“We understand two things that government and institutions do not always grasp: As people we can act to do the right thing, first: http://goo.gl/tMuQ8R. As people we can make a difference because we are no longer alone and isolated.

“The title of this ‘Sunday Read‘ was taken from the heart-wrenching message of a Syrian woman to the Italian coastguard: http://goo.gl/leWg1X. Our message today to the world, to each other, here, to those who we feel need help, in any context is that the world is really changing. You are no longer alone. None of us is.

“Coffee, chocolate ice-cream, donuts, croissants, cookies and chocolate cake. I know it seems facile, yet it’s a ritual that helps keep us together. Make us stronger. More effective, until even more join us. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.” 

NOTE: I do not usually share an entire post like this, but so many of you are not on Google+, I knew you wouldn’t/couldn’t go there. And, this post and these issues are so important, with so many points of contact, so much information, and significant and easy-to-follow calls to action, that I had to include the entire post.

Although she won’t listen, I’m giving my 16-year-old self advice: Guest Post on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s blog

Although she won’t listen, I’m giving my 16-year-old self advice: Guest Post originally on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s blog

I turn 61 today, so in a great age inversion, I’m again sending advice to my 16-year-old self: this was originally posted on May 7, 2015, on http://www.krystenlindsay.com/blog/although-she-wont-listen-im-giving-my-16-year-old-self-advice-by-sally-ember-edd. Thanks, Krysten!

Maybe she’ll listen THIS time…?


Dear 16-year-old Sally,

Sally 1971
Sally at 16

From the impossibly ripe old age of 61, I send you/me advice, based on knowing how things turn out for us and recognizing choice points we could decide differently about, if we are so inclined.

If so, given the simultaneous nature of time and quantum physics’ declaration that anything that CAN happen DOES happen, we will make millions of different choices, rendering some of this advice moot. Even so, here we go.

1) Friends
The “cool” kids aren’t better friends. In fact, they’re usually so intent on keeping their “cool” status (which is always precarious) that they can be deceitful, mean-spirited, unfaithful, disloyal and unreliable in every way. Cultivate and BE the type of friend who cares more about being a good friend than anyone’s perceived (and quite temporary) status. Keeping good friends is a lot more important than attaining “cool” status.

Status in high school will be long-forgotten and completely irrelevant as soon as you graduate. Decades after high school is over, you’ll still be friends with the people worth befriending. You won’t even remember the names of those you were so keen to impress at 16 or why you (or anyone) thought they were so “cool.”

Do you still like graphs and diagrams? Here are four quadrants explaining the four types of friendships people can have and where one’s distribution of friends are likely to fall.
—Quadrant 1 (Q1) is in the TOP RIGHT = IDEAL, which are friendships that are Healthy and Enjoyable, both. If you’re lucky, most of your friendships belong here.
—Quadrant 2 (Q2) is in the BOTTOM RIGHT = PROBLEMATIC, which are friendships that are Healthy but Not Enjoyable You can change what you think is “enjoyable,” but you can’t create “healthy” so easily. Change your point of view.
—Quadrant 3 (Q3) is in the TOP LEFT = PROBLEMATIC, which are friendships that are Enjoyable but Not Healthy What makes these “enjoyable”? Really? Cut it out. Get out.
—Quadrant 4 (Q4) is in the BOTTOM LEFT = “COME ON,” which are friendships that are Neither Health NOR Enjoyable if your’re smart, NONE of your friendships belongs here.

Friendship quadrant
image from http://waitbutwhy.com

2) Relationships with Boys (and Girls)
You will mostly be infatuated and not in love. Feelings of attraction, interest, lust, even love are not the same as being “in love,” but they SEEM to be and can fool you. These other feelings can be very strong and important, but they aren’t meant to help you choose a life partner, just a date or a relationship for a few months. Plan accordingly.

Never blow off a good friend (male or female) to go on a date or spend more time with your date or sex partner. Sex partners/dates will change frequently; friends can last a lifetime, if you’re careful and sincere. Be a good friend and you’ll HAVE good friends.

Great litmus test for whether or not your feelings are deep and/or significant for a date/sex partner: imagine that one of you is in a serious car accident and left with injuries that cause that person to become a quadriplegic. Would either of you be loyal and devoted enough to the other to take care of the paralyzed partner for the rest of your lives? You might never have sex again with that person (or, if you’re monogamous, with anyone else, either). You might never be touched again by/touch that person (paralyzed: remember?). You might never sleep in the same bed, never dance together upright, never take walks next to each other holding hands.

NOW: are you still convinced that you’re “in love”? That’s okay. Have a good time, but don’t make life-long promises.

young-couple-man-wheelchair-11763960
image from http://www.dreamstime.com

3) Sex, Birth Control, Sexuality, STDs, Sexual Identity
You don’t need to be in love to have sex. You don’t need to be having sex to purchase/acquire birth control and STDs protection (condoms, pills, IUDs, etc.), and, in fact, DON’T WAIT! If you are even considering having intercourse or fluids-exchanging sex with ANYONE, go to Planned Parenthood or a free clinic or your doctor and find out what your best choices are. BE PREPARED.

It is not romantic, fun, easy or worthwhile to become pregnant at 16 or contract an STD, ever. Get educated. Find out what is contagious, how easy it is to get pregnant even before or without having actual heterosexual intercourse, how quickly and easily fluids can be exchanged that carry diseases between sex partners and be SMART and PREVENTIVE.

If you can’t talk about these things with your potential sex partner, if you can’t take off your clothes and touch each other with some lights on, if you can’t talk about what you like and don’t like regarding sexual touching, YOU ARE NOT READY TO HAVE SEX and/or YOU ARE WITH THE WRONG PERSON. For real. Don’t do it.

90% of sexual pleasure is in your BRAIN. So, if you’re not feeling safe, cared about, respected, listened to, wanted, known, you won’t climax (come; have an orgasm) AND you won’t feel good afterwards about what you’re doing with that person.

Consent must be given and received before having sex, but it is NOT an obligation to give (or get) consent.

Sex WON’T “fix” a relationship, “bring you closer” or make a tentative connection “better.” It’s just sex. You might temporarily feel more connected after having some sexual contact, but when your clothes are back on, you’re back to being yourselves and you’re stuck with whatever relationship you already have.

Having sex doesn’t cause you to become more mature, smart, “cool,” or ready for responsibility. You’re still YOU; you’ve just added sex to the mix and that is usually NOT a good idea at your age. TRULY.

Be honest with yourself. What turns you on? What/which kinds of people? Are you attracted only to certain types of people? One or more genders?

Here are some clues: “Nice” is NOT boring. Meanness doesn’t signify someone with higher intelligence, just a facility with sarcasm. Humor that is unkind reveals a person using it who is not kind. Pretty eyes, a great voice, fascinating hands or other body parts do NOT lead to having a good relationship: a PERSON has to be attached to these features whom you actually like.

Sex aids
image from http://www.nydailynews.com

4) School, Science and Writing You will have some horrible science teachers and some excellent English/writing teachers. Your math teachers will mostly be all right, but not great. Same with social studies and other subjects: good, but not great. Don’t let the qualities of your teacher determine what YOU are interested in pursuing.

You will use writing throughout your life, for almost everything related to education and work. So, continue to improve your writing/editing skills. You will never regret becoming a good writer.

If you love science (or anything else), stick with it, even if the teachers are awful in high school. It gets better in college and beyond. You can also learn on your own throughout your life, so learn how to learn: that is key.

High school is only 4 years of your life: don’t let it define you or your future choices overly much. Right now, high school is one-fourth of your years on earth, but the older you get, the smaller that percentage becomes. By the time you’re thirty, these four years aren’t even one-eighth of your life. See?

Dr. Seuss quote
quote from The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.

5) Meditation and Religion You won’t feel connected to Judaism, regardless of how many years you are forced to attend religious education classes and how many of your friends and family members are Jewish. That’s all right.

You will find meditation, then Buddhism to be spiritual “home” for you. Say “yes” when your friends offer to bring you to meditation classes. Say “no” when people try to push you into anything that doesn’t feel right to you.

You will have to pave your own way, even though you’re the only one in your family to travel this spiritual path. You’ll be happy with yourself and you don’t harm anyone else, so go for it.

Buddhist meditation pose
image from http://www.opendharma.org

I hope you’ll take these pieces of advice to heart and follow them. If not, you’ll not be any worse off, at least.

Love,

Older Sally


Sci-fi/romance author, former writing teacher and editor and LIVE talk show host of the almost weekly G+ HOA/Youtube videochat, CHANGES conversations between authors, Sally Ember, Ed.D., is my guest blogger today.

Profile pic fewer distractions 2015

“I have been passionate about writing since I was nine years old, when I wrote and published my first story, a fairy tale about an inquisitive princess (see? I started out autobiographical). Always competitive, I’m absurdly proud that I won prizes for my poetry, stories, songs and plays early in life. Did I use up my creativity good karma too soon?

“I was born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, which seems to mean that my life has been infused with change. Currently, I meditate, write, swim, read and host CHANGES most Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, in St. Louis, Missouri. I have one older brother and two younger sisters (none lives in St. Louis but we’re in close contact) and I used to have seven step-sisters and two step-brothers (we’re not in touch).

“I began meditating at age 17 with Transcendental Meditation (T.M., like the Beatles) and have been meditating for over 40 years. I became a Buddhist in 1996 (in this lifetime, anyway).

“In my ‘other’ professional life, I have worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. I have a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

“I enjoy blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian science fiction and Buddhism. My sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian/Buddhist-infused, Jewish-themed ebooks for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, The Spanners Series, which are unique, uplifting, intriguing and challenging, according to readers. Vol I, This Changes Everything, is now FREE everywhere since Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released June, 2014. Look for Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in 2015, and Vol IV – X in subsequent years; about two per year is the plan.

“I have one son, Merlyn, who is a computer network engineer and musician. Merlyn, my sisters, my mom and several friends serve as my beta readers and sounding boards for much of my writing and also contribute ideas and characters for my books, as do others in my family and friendship circles (voluntarily or not). The stories in The Spanners Series are completely true and all these characters and situations exist in some timeline or another.

“Since I alternate the POVs and focus on characters and situations to feature those who are younger/YA/NA for even-numbered Volumes of The Spanners Series and feature older adults (primarily) in odd-numbered Volumes, I plan to ‘crowdcreate’ Volume VIII with younger writers and Volume IX with those closer to my age (older adults). I invite readers to submit to me your ideas and suggestions and/or volunteer to collaborate in other ways for either of these Volumes (your choice) no later than January 31, 2016. sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

logoAuthorsDen

“I am also a some-time editor/proofreader, infrequent reviewer (but PLEASE do not send me your books or requests; I choose what to review and I rarely do it since I focus on writing and hosting), frequent blogger and talk-show host, so I geared the ‘rewards’ for my Patreon Crowdfunding campaign to be useful to those who choose to donate (as little as $4 gets a donor something). The Patreon page features videos of me singing (a capella; be nice) an original song about my campaign and describing the campaign goals and rewards. Link is below.

“I blog regularly on a wide range of topics and I also include reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from my ebooks. Visit and comment, follow, ‘like,’ and share.” http://www.sallyember.com/blog

BOOK BLURBS:

Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., PERMAFREE

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. The MWC selects Clara to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series $3.99

51-N7O96ZSL._UY250_
Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would YOU do with the changes?

LINKS:
WordPress Blog and main Website: http://www.sallyember.com
Tumblr: http://sallyember.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @sallyemberedd
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
FB Spanners Seriespage: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember (Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember)
Google+ Spanners Series page: http://goo.gl/tZKQpv
Personal G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SallySueEmber
Youtube Channel: The Spanners Series books’ trailers, author readings, CHANGES shows and more:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos?view_as=public
Patreon Crowdfunding Campaign: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Ember/e/B00HEV2UEW/
Amazon ebooks’ pages:
Vol I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
Vol II: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyEmber
Vol I: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197
Vol II: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
Kobo:
Vol I: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/this-changes-everything-3
Vol II: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever
Barnes & Noble nook:
Vol I: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-changes-everything-sally-ember-edd/1117444256?ean=2940045417921
Vol II: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever-sally-ember-edd/1119080804?ean=2940045805957
iBooks/iTunes:
Vol I: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/this-changes-everything/id746840776?mt=11&ls=1
Vol II: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/this-changes-my-family-my/id853674553?mt=11
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyemberedd/en
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/myworks
Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/profile/sallyember
BookLikes: http://sallyember.booklikes.com/
Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a1002726320/Sally-Ember-Ed-D-/books
Authors’ Database: http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/5338-sally-ember-ed-d

Covers and Logo Art by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Archived CHANGES conversations between authors LIVE shows: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq 
Authors can learn more about and get yourselves scheduled on as guests:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/ 

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination: They are on the Wrong Side of History

“Family-Friendly” is a Thin Disguise for Discrimination:
They are on the Wrong Side of History

Who else is on the “wrong side of history” regarding expressions of and legal sanctions toward and behaviors sourced by prejudice, bias, discrimination, hatred against ethnic, racial, religious, gender and other social identity groups?

Adolph Hitler. Austria and Germany. George Wallace. Richard Nixon. Phyllis Schlafly. Anita Bryant. The United States of America. Several Catholic Popes. Margaret Thatcher. Great Britain. Mao Tse Tung. China.

The list is, unfortunately, endless, if we keep going into history and across the globe. Humans seem to have an unlimited ability to be irrational and small-minded.

Fortunately, we do learn. We do grow. Some more slowly than others, as we see all too often, but change we do. One of the main ways people change is through exposure, a personal “eye-opening” moment that educates them (“leads them out”) away from their irrationality and biases.

The other way is through enforcement, such as the enlightened few and the majority collaborating to change the laws that require citizens to change behaviors accordingly. When behaviors change, minds can follow: not always, and not completely, as we see with the laws of integration and other civil rights for Blacks in the USA NOT eliminating racial biases and racism, but these are certainly steps in the right direction.

The current social and political landscapes—right here, right now—are changing rapidly with respect to fairness, acceptance and legal rights for those with all sexual orientations and gender identities exactly as they did with racial intolerance in the 1960s.

As usual, some are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into this new way of being. They are simply not keeping up, are they? Laws often get “ahead” of some people’s mindsets. AREN’T WE LUCKY? The haters may keep on hating, but they have no legal, moral or individual “right” to impose their “opinions” any longer.

Some definitions, for those unclear on these concepts:

3definitions
from: http://littlelaughter.wordpress.com

bias-prejudice-discrimination-5-638
from http://pt.slideshare.net

Current circumstances:
I am an author who publicly proclaims myself a feminist. Anyone who knows me or reads me online or reads my books also knows I am Buddhist, Jewish, and bisexual, and I am vocally an anti-discrimination, anti-oppression activist.

I am also a reader who occasionally does reviews. Therefore, I do agree that each reviewer has the right to refuse to review any book we do not want to review. We do not have to give reasons, either.

However, I do not agree with the opinions, prejudices and biases this reviewer expresses when she gives some (but not all) of her reasons for discontinuing her reading of and refusing to review my book.

In fact, when we allow such actions to be fueled in these ways, not commenting, not confronting, we are aiding and abetting the institutional oppression rampant in literary circles. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” is never truer than in these circumstances.

Some would say that she would have been off not saying anything, but since she did, here we are.

Read below and comment, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

After finding me on a reviews-seeking site, this reviewer emailed me, saying that she wanted to review all three books in The Spanners Series. She wrote a few days later, saying she had started and was liking my first book.

Then, the next day, this potential reviewer sent me this email:

From: xxx

I will not be able to review your books. I have just come to a part that is [sic] conflict with my site. I have a family friendly blog and your book contains content that my readers would find offensive. It would also put at risk some of my advertising spots on my site that demand only family friendly content.

I understand that you were just trying to get across the point about non-discrimination but your content concerning sexual affiliation will not work with my site.

Best of luck to you,

xxx

“Hi, xxx,

“I have no idea what you mean by ‘not family-friendly’ or ‘offensive,’ since my books are accepted by ‘[Facebook authors’ group],’ a strict group on Facebook which promises readers fiction that won’t make them recoil. For example, I use no swear words stronger than ‘damn’ or ‘shit,’ there are no explicit sex scenes, no gratuitous or obvious violence, and no traumatic scenes in my books: they are PG-13.

“If you are objecting to any mention of or acceptance of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities to heterosexual or straight people or cis-gender people, if that would be something you or your followers find ‘offensive,’ then, please: DO NOT READ MY BOOKS.

“And, by the way, discrimination, bias and prejudice are NOT ‘family-friendly’ to any families I would want to be connected with, ever. Use of that terminology to describe what you are perhaps claiming is absurd.

“Since more than 10% of every population of humans on this planet are actually gay, lesbian or bisexual and at least 5% are transgendered, whose families are you ‘protecting’?

“If what I am assuming, in fact, are your positions, I find your views to be extremely offensive, and so would most of the rest of the world, at this point in time. Marriage equality and sexual identity acceptance are legal in many countries, including this one, and discrimination is NOT.

“I welcome you and your readers into the 21st century any time you’re ready to come.

“If I have misunderstood, I apologize. Please explain. I would welcome your further description of what, exactly, is ‘in conflict with’ your site and specifics as to your presumptions about your advertisers’ objections to the content of my books.”

Sally

She responded:

From: xxx

What is offensive is that you mention any sexual affiliation at all. I would not blurt out in a book that I was heterosexual. I would not refer to sex at all. It is irrelevant and has no place in a family friendly book. You can have any sexual orientation you want and that is your business but I don’t have to and will not promote it on my site. The fact that you felt you needed to make a political statement with your book is your business but I won’t be a part of it.

As I said Good Luck to you but I will not be doing this review.

xxx

Curious as what others who might be “in her camp” would say, I posted our email exchange on the group site I am part of, the one I mentioned, above, and asked for opinions.

I received the following anonymized responses (I didn’t include them all; some are repetitive or off-topic).

Then, I wrote a few responses, below.
Why do I bother? Because Education.

stop_prejudice_now_prop_watermark
from: http://teachersteachfromtheheart.blogspot.com

“Need[ Facebook Group members]’ opinions, please! Just had this exchange with a potential reviewer and I’m burning mad. (She approached me, BTW, asking to review my books via a [reviews-seeking/reviewers-finding site] last week!).

“She emailed me this earlier today…” (same as above, posted)

FB group’s responses:

From AAA:
“She has the right to her viewpoint, and I don’t think she should be dressed down, scolded, or insulted for it. I thought your words were rather condescending and insulting.

“OTOH, she should have done her research first before approaching you, and rather than try to take YOU to task for what she didn’t agree with in your books, she should have just politely said ‘sorry, I was wrong, it’s not going to work out this time.'”

From BBB:
“The old saying I’ve tried to remember is not to lower oneself to another’s level in order to argue or debate. It’s not ever worth it.”

From CCC:
“It’s her site, she can do as she wishes, just as you are able to write about anything you want to. This enters into the forbidden realm of writers who snap at reviewers for not liking what they wrote. She didn’t give you a bad review on her site, which she could have. She simply declined to review at all. It could have gone a LOT worse for you.”

From DDD:
“Sally, I totally get where you’re coming from, having experienced this kind of reaction (my books include gay characters who are treated as normal people). I’m living vicariously through your email because I’ve wished I could say something like that to reviewers who’ve one-started me because of it. smile emoticon But I’m inclined to agree that it’s better to steer clear of these rhetorical boondoggles. I’d just let this go and get on with writing. Your audience is out there, but it’s not this lady or her blog followers.”

From EEE:
“It’s her site. She is entitled to her opinion and the way she manages her site. We have our rules here, but IMHO, even shit and damn are not family friendly. She was polite. I’m sorry that you were not.”

From FFF:
“I have to say also, the reviewer could have gone ahead with her review, as she’d promised you one. She could have been completely open and honest about her opinion, and put it on her public site.
“Instead, when she saw it was something that she didn’t believe she could endorse, she privately messaged you, letting you know that she’d have to back out.
“This was gracious of her to do.
“So to be treated badly was not something that I feel she deserved.”

From GGG:
“PG-13 does not constitute ‘family-friendly’ in my mind. I have a 9, 7 and 4 year old, and I don’t even let them watch most PG movies.”

From HHH:
“Unfortunately, I have to agree with what many others here have commented. In addition, I have to point out that you ASSUMED her problem with your book was the fact that there are gay characters. She simply wrote that she came ‘to a part’ that conflicted with her site. The thing that may have bothered her could’ve been profanity, or whatever else is in your book. It can be dangerous to reprimand someone for their stance – especially since she could always turn around and decide to write a poor review, or even one-star your book.

“On a personal note, I write both Christian AND secular stories (things that would give Junot Diaz a run for his money in the department of shock value). So I can honestly say that even the words you listed are not ‘family friendly,’ meaning appropriate for all ages. As far as homosexuality is concerned, I have a #LiveAndLetLive philosophy on life. That means that I do not judge someone else for their lifestyle choice. However, that doesn’t mean I want my six year old reading about it. Again, it’s a subject not necessarily appropriate for all ages.”

From Me:
to HHH: “She came right out and stated what her concerns were. I didn’t assume what she objected to at all. I assumed her reasons, because she did not state them. Also, I did not expect any 6-year-olds to read this book; it’s way too complicated and sophisticated. PG-13 is the rating i always state. Thanks for your comments, though.”

From JJJ:
“Wow. And she was so polite…”

From Me:
“Since when are expressions of bias, prejudice and discrimination ‘polite’??? If her objections were obviously about my having Jewish or Black characters, would you be defending her ‘family-friendly’ smokescreen???”

From JJJ:
“She made her reasons for choosing not to include your work on her site clear to you in a very polite manner. Tolerance works both ways.”

From Me:
“To JJJ and others here: I appreciate all your comments, but for some of you, I am disappointed. SOME don’t seem to know the difference between being ‘impolite’ and being against someone else’s being discriminatory, Number 1.

“Number 2, it is not the job of those who are not being tolerated to return such intolerance with tolerance. I was not ‘impolite’ to her: I was direct and I expressed my thoughts and feelings. I did not call her names, I did not insult her.

“Remember: she VOLUNTEERED to read my books and had already sent me an email prior to this saying how much she was enjoying the first one. Then, she came to a part she didn’t ‘tolerate,’ which she and her groups, of which some of you are obviously members, seem to think it’s just fine to insult and demean. That is plain wrong. She doesn’t have to like it. She could have just said “It’s not for me” and DNF or not even written me. But, she chose to ‘explain.’

“Those who are not heterosexual or cis-gender do not deserve to be treated as if we are threats, are wrong to be ‘this way,’ or by our very existence, are ‘problems’ for ‘families.’ We ARE in families!

“I will defend to my dying day the right of all who are discriminated against to object strenuously to such discrimination, wherever it appears, however ‘nicely’ it is phrased.

“Maybe some of you are too young or didn’t have these experiences, but I grew up in Missouri under Jim Crow laws. I grew up with signs on stores and country clubs that said : ‘No Dogs, No Jews, No Niggers Allowed.’ Should I have greeted those racists with ‘tolerance’????? I am a Jewish, female bisexual. Our country is in the exact same place now with LGBT rights and biases as it was then with Jews and Blacks.

“Remember when women weren’t treated as ‘humans,’ weren’t allowed to vote, sit with men, drive, own property? Would you all be so ‘tolerant’ if she had said her ‘family-friendly’ group doesn’t want to read books with autonomous female characters, that all women be subservient to their families’ males to be considered ‘family-friendly’? Whoever doesn’t see the connections, here, I’m sad for all of you.”

From JJJ:
“Comments about the relative politeness of exchanges of views are not an automatic acceptance of intolerance or prejudice. In fact they are no comment at all about the relative merits of the content of the exchange – just the manner in which comments have been delivered.”

From Me:
“Thanks for all of your ideas, comments, and responses, here. Group. I am sorry that some of you still believe that strongly worded disagreement is ‘impolite,’ but we’re going to have to agree to disagree, there. Best to you all.”

hate-crimes-305
from: http://www.calgary.ca

Okay, Followers/Readers and Other Peeps: Weigh in! What do you believe/do?

Please leave comments on this blog! Thanks! Best to you all!

1) Should we authors all just “be polite” when confronted with reviewers’ prejudices?

2) Should we authors “be silent” when potential or actual reviewers express their biases and refuse to “serve” us at the “review” lunch counter because our books or characters don’t meet with their “approval” (don’t have a right to exist)?

3) Is it incumbent upon us all not to allow any reviewer to give or imply that their personal, political, religious or other biases as/are sufficient “reasons” for refusing to review a book? Or, do you recommend letting that go unchallenged?

4) Does simply having LGBT characters make a book “unfriendly” to “families” and/or inappropriate for youth?

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.: written in response to Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is not afraid to embrace who she is. by Kimberly Winston, August 05, 2015
http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel relates that she “often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced.” She believes this is due to the fact that “she doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white.”

ZenjuPic4
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, photo from TRICYCLE article in online Buddhist magazine, http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

She recently published: The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, known here as “her second book of dharma, or Buddhist teachings, published in February by Wisdom Publications. In it, Manuel, who follows the Zen tradition, calls on Buddhists not to ignore those ways they may be different, whether it’s because of their color, gender, or sexual orientation.”

She and others call this idea a “‘multiplicity of oneness’—–[which] is somewhat controversial within Buddhism, where the teachings have tended to focus on moving beyond the physical to find the spiritual. But Manuel and a handful of other Western Buddhists—–including a number of African-American teachers–—are embracing the idea as crucial to enlightenment, a state free from anxiety that is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.”

Manuel and I have a lot in common, so I felt moved to respond to this article about her and her teaching, her writing and her spiritual life. I resonate with some aspects; others are quite different for me.

Manuel is 62; I am about to be 61. That means we are contemporaries who are natives of the same country.

She reports that she “has had a multiplicity of lives, all of which inform her work.” My C.V.—my academic and total resume—is over seven pages long. I have also moved over thirty times, having lived in states on both coasts, the midwest and the southwest of the USA. These varied aspects of my professional and personal lives must constitute a “multiplicity,” don’t you think?

Her personal history includes “violence, poverty and prejudice,” which my life contains, also. Heavier on the violence and prejudice than the poverty, for me, but all were there.

Manuel states that she has “been an activist since the tumultuous 1970s”; I started being a vocal, active feminist activist while still in grade school, moved into anti-war and anti-nuclear power activism, continued with feminism and got into reproductive rights activism and other issues as well. I started earlier by about 10 years, but then we both kept on keeping on.

Manuel says that she “has also known fear and rejection because she is bisexual,” but I mostly do not have that experience, perhaps because I didn’t “come out” publicly as bisexual until the 1990s, when it seemed almost no one cared anymore and I was a confident adult with a supportive community and family. I did lose a female friend in college in the early 1970s when I clumsily invited her to be my lover, but usually I did not experience either rejection or fear due to my sexual orientation. Not everyone I approached agreed to be my lover, but their rejections had nothing to do with my being attracted to both genders. So, our lives diverged there significantly.

She “was raised a Christian but discovered Buddhism in 1988,” whereas I was raised Jewish and discovered Buddhist in the early 1980s. However, I had already been meditating in the Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) tradition since 1972. Similar, but not the same, here.

Mostly, though, we share significant components of our cultural, personal and historical location and background. The major difference is that she is Black and I am White/Anglo. Our other intersecting social identities create affinities that few other commonalities could, especially since our experiences led us both to become immersed seriously and deeply in Buddhist practice.

Appallingly, however, she had the misfortune to have had a couple of Zen teachers who “suggested if she ‘dropped the labels’ of ‘African-American,’ of ‘bisexual,’ of ‘woman,’ she would ‘be liberated.’ That is ridiculous and has nothing to do with authentic Buddhism. I’m sorry she had those teachers or allowed them to affect her. Obviously, by trying to accomplish this (the impossible), she was not “liberated.” Furthermore, these attempts did not ease her suffering; in fact, she reported that she became more unhappy.

Eventually, she discovered on her own what Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism (my tradition) has always taught: embrace everything, cling to nothing. While bushwhacking her own path through Zen traditions that were not friendly to her, she arrived at, in her words: “’complete tenderness’—–the experience of walking through her pain, knowing it, living with it, but not being controlled by it—–by confronting her suffering caused by her upbringing and identity as an African-American bisexual woman.”

I challenge this idea, though, that her suffering was “caused” by her identities at that point. I would conclude instead that her suffering was exacerbated early in her Zen journey by the ignorance and arrogance of those Zen teachers who misdirected her, then aggravated by her willingness to follow their misdirections for too long. It isn’t who she was that was the problem; it’s he ways a few teachers positioned who she was with respect to her spiritual path that caused her pain.

Despite being misled by some teachers, Manuel continued within Zen all the way to becoming ordained as a Zen Priest, when she was “given the name ‘Zenju,’ which means ‘complete tenderness.’” She now leads a small, all-female sangha that meets where she lives, in Oakland, California (near San Francisco), many of whom are also identifying as women of color.

I’m glad she found a way through all that, but it was so unnecessary. There are many USA-based Zen sanghas, some right near her that I am personally aware of, in which she would not have had those experiences. We could say it was her karma to have had those encounters, and we’d be correct, since everything we experience is always due to our karma.

But, it is not inherent to the nature of Zen or Buddhism to treat students in those ways. I need to emphasize this truth, since it appears from this Tricycle article and perhaps her book (I haven’t read it, so I’m not sure) that it is inevitable that students of backgrounds similar to hers will encounter prejudice and extreme difficulties due to their social identities everywhere they go in Buddhist communities. Simply not true.

I have observed, though, that too many Buddhist communities in the USA and Canada are populated by a disproportionate number of middle- and upper-class Whites/Anglos in comparison to the number of participants from other ethnicities and class backgrounds. I’m glad to say that these imbalances have been recognized by most leaders and other members: many sanghas are doing extensive outreach to rectify them.

I don’t know if Manuel’s Oakland Zen sitting group is deliberately all women or intentionally mostly women of color; perhaps it is open to everyone, but her being who she is, as the teacher, attracted more practitioners similar to her. That does happen, that spiritual teachers attract students who see themselves as similar to their teachers.

The only similarity that actually matters, though, is that we are all human and we all need to train our minds, develop more compassionate hearts, and liberate ourselves from delusions that cause suffering. Therefore, I believe deliberately segregating ourselves by gender, class, background or any other social identity is a mistake when it comes to creating and maintaining spiritual community. I know there are specific occasions when such segregation can be useful or necessary, but mostly, let’s not.

Clearly, the Buddhist path works well for Manuel and she believes it can work well for other women of color, bisexual or not. In that, we agree.

The Buddha supposedly taught over 84,000 types of meditation so that each individual who wants to practice will be able to find a path that works. In a large enough community with sufficient numbers of paths and teachers, I’m sure that is possible: everyone who wants to learn to meditate in the Buddhist tradition could do so.

Northern California, USA, is such a locale, with dozens or even hundreds of Buddhist teachers and sangha options scattered throughout the rural, suburban and urban areas, each slightly or very different from the other. I used to live there and I miss it a lot.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is not such a locale. It is not bereft entirely of Buddhists or Buddhist communities, but there is none in my exact tradition. I find that I am not so interested in attending the groups that are dissimilar. I enjoy meditating on my own just fine. I do miss my sangha and those important, guiding interactions, but not enough to join some other group, yet.

Meanwhile, this female, bisexual Buddhist who was raised Jewish and is White/Anglo is meditating and attempting to liberate in this lifetime alongside or including, but not despite, my social identities. I am lucky to have occasional conversations with my spiritual teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu, by telephone, and regular contact with geographically distant sangha members via SKYPE, social media and email.

May all beings benefit. I wish you all the best in your practices.

Buddha thinking creates happiness

What Kind of Role Model are You?

What kind of role model are you?

It’s not only the young who are “sponges.” We all absorb the turns of language, interesting or repeated facial expressions and behaviors, expressed or implied values, clothing and hair choices, products and locations to engage with, music and most other entertainment from those around us throughout our lives.

personal-success-wheel-300x268
image from http://keithferrazzi.com

Which of these: “giving back,” “spirituality,” “intellectual stimulation,” “physical wellness,” “financial success,” “professional growth” or “deep relationships” do you put the most time, energy, resources, money, courage and effort into accomplishing/improving?

Tell the truth.

It’s just between you and me, now.

Count the hours in each day. Count how many minutes/hours you spend engaged in tasks related to the above categories.

There’s your answer, like it or not.

I ask again: what kind of role model are you?

Every time you make a purchase and display, wear or use it, every choice you make that others can discover may influence someone. What you say, what you write, what you view, what you attend: almost everything we do, now, is tracked and used to influence what “producers” make available in the future.

Are you purchasing and using products with your ability to be an influencer in mind… always? sometimes? never?

When you speak, act, choose in front of children, they adopt or avoid what you choose, depending on the outcomes and their abilities to mimic. It is our responsibility to demonstrate being the kind of person we would want them to imitate. isn’t it?

blame_sign
image from http://www.magnamags.com

Research on motivation demonstrates that we have two distinct systems that influence our actions:

The approach system focuses us on the achievement of positive outcomes.
The avoidance system focuses us on preventing negative outcomes.

[from the April, 2015, issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, by Lucia Bosone, Frederic Martinez, and Nikos Kalampalikis, referenced in Are the People Close to You Good Role Models? … and why positive role models aren’t necessarily better than negative ones.
By Art Markman, Ph.D., Apr 08, 2015, in Ulterior Motives.
Reposted on Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201504/are-the-people-close-you-good-role-models]

Then, there is goal contagion: people adopt the goals of others, even without realizing that we are doing so. Learning of others’ goals via a kind of human osmosis that involves unconscious mirroring, imitation and copying, we attempt to do what others do when we believe that the outcomes are worth having.

When someone values what we do, what we have, our status or possessions, our ability to influence them goes up enormously. Research shows that “the influence of a role model is strongest when that role model fits the goal we are trying to achieve. Positive role-models, then, are most effective when we are approaching desirable states, while negative role-models are most effective when we are avoiding undesirable states.” We magnetize others to our goals by our examples of success, happiness, satisfaction, pleasure.

What kind of magnet are you?

More courage, motivation, energy, commitment and time: do you have any to spare? If so, you may be able to continue to work to achieve positive goals and to avoid negative outcomes. What do you have the most of that you can apply, for which of your goals? How consistently do you work toward each outcome you want and avoid each one you don’t want, simultaneously?

How devoted to your own goals are you?

Secondary problem: Many of us have a “rewards” system, especially if we are “thrill-seekers” or easily bored, that goes something like this: If/when we accomplish this task, we permit ourselves to do or have… However, that permission then provides us with exactly what we do not need or should not have (e.g., junk food, late nights or sleep-in mornings, recreational drugs, too much alcohol, unsafe or risky sexual encounters, dicey venues for “fun”) as a “reward.”

Accepting or accessing this “reward” then puts us in direct conflict with reaching our positive goals or avoiding negative consequences. How is that a “reward system,” then, and what does this demonstrate to others about who we are?

How involved in self-sabotage are you? What underlying messages are you communicating by these chains of behaviors and choices?

jms_prelim_jms_060610
image from http://journal.frontiersin.org

I ask one more time: what kind of role model are you?

I can tell you the quickest way to get an answer to these self-assessment questions: hang around a child between the ages of 4 – 9 for an extended period of time, particularly in a role that puts you in charge, conferring authority, influence, access, trust and affection (raising, tending, nannying, teaching, parenting, etc.). You will find out within a few weeks exactly what kind of role model you are from that child. The child will begin to talk and act like you, try to do what and be what you do/are. Daily. Frequently. In almost no time at all, you’ll have acquired a little mini-mirror-you, walking, acting and talking as you do, right there for all the world to see.

For you to see.

Yikes.

Get to work improving yourself.

Fast.

Why I have Always Hated Independence Day in the USA

Why I have Always Hated Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA

I am not the only one, either.

Fireworks
I could enjoy the fireworks from a great distance and up high, only. Sometimes I could get to my own or someone else’s rooftop or high window and watch from afar and admire the colors without hearing the awful noises: those I could appreciate, somewhat. But, I never forgot, even as a little girl, that these contraptions are supposed to represent bombs and I hate bombs, I hate war, and I, according to my mom and my own memories, have always hated fireworks up close. Still do.

illusion of democracy fireworks
image from http://www.247newsworld.com

Troy Patterson REALLY hates fireworks: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2009/07/fireworks_suck.html

Patriotism
I am deeply disappointed in this country and have been for as long as I can remember. How can anyone around my age (60, born in 1954), whose first clear memory of a President is the insane, lying criminal, Richard M. Nixon, be patriotic?

The USA, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, drafted and then sent millions of my classmates (and they were BOYS) to their maiming, mental health breakdowns, drug addictions or deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia FOR NO GOOD REASON.

ALL the “wars” the USA has “fought” since World War II have been nothing but thinly disguised efforts to make some a-holes richer and further the political agendae of yet another group of ignorant buffoons that the people of this country keep electing.

It is shameful, embarrassing and horrible that the USA is STILL DOING THAT today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and anywhere else the war-mongers can stir up enough jingoism to get people to volunteer.

When Barbara Streisand sang “America, the Beautiful” for Bill Clinton’s campaign show, I cried. Not because it was so wonderful or she was so great, and not because I was moved by Clinton (the women-exploiting, lying sack of sh*t). No. I cried because I cannot feel what I wished I could feel: I can feel no pride and no love for a country I have lived in all my life.

Whatever does anyone have to be proud of? What is there to love besides the lands’ natural wonders (the ones we haven’t yet ruined) and the people we already care about?

The USA shows up far too low or is the lowest on the ranked lists, lowest among ALL “modern,” or “Westernized” countries, in too many categories to count. I’m talking about our ratings on handling issues that really matter, like infant mortality, educational attainment (high school graduation), child poverty, racist police violence, racist incarceration, numbers incarcerated, numbers of addicts/alcoholics, gun violence/mass shootings, domestic violence, rape, homelessness: on and on and on.

Aaron Sorkin nailed this problem (our mistaken belief in the USA as the “greatest country in the world”) in the rant he wrote for Jeff Daniels’ news anchor character to give in the HBO TV show, Newsroom (responses start after audience-member’s question at 3:10; Daniels’ actual rant begins at about 4:40): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpn0vh2Rj0Y or https://youtu.be/Rpn0vh2Rj0Y

Are YOU an American and proud? How? I really want to know how you reconcile the actual dismal facts of this country’s historical record and current terrible policies and behaviors around the world with your desire to be a patriot: they don’t make enough booze in the world to drown out the noise of that cognitive dissonance for me.

Celebrating War
At its core, Independence Day, July Fourth, celebrates the Revolutionary War and the newly formed United States of America’s “victory” in it. As a lifelong pacifist who abhors violence and would avoid it in every case, except as a last resort or best tactic to prevent further harm and death (as in World War II), I deplore all uses of violence and especially warfare.

Scotland recently had a VOTE to determine whether or not it should become independent from Britain. Did anyone consider that option in 1776? I highly doubt it. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked; we can’t know. But I do not want to celebrate the deployment of violent methods to achieve something that may well have been attainable by nonviolent means and certainly was not necessary.

Hundreds of thousands of people died in the USA’s Revolutionary War and subsequent wars of “independence” around the world, due to the USA’s “shining example.” I am as ashamed of all of those wars as if I had started them myself.

I also DO NOT SUPPORT THE TROOPS who currently serve in the USA military, since they serve as volunteers who decided to go kill people the USA and its deluded allies have no business killing, to destroy and steal property we have no business wrecking, and otherwise to wreak havoc in other people’s countries FOR NO GOOD REASON.

These “wars” have NOTHING to do with the attacks on the USA on 9/11/01 and have actually increased the terrorism in the world rather than helped it abate. If you don’t believe me, look at the rise in terror attacks and the growth of ISIS. How else do you explain those?

No one made them go. No one should have volunteered. If no one had volunteered, the “war efforts” would have died in one year or a few months. Truly.

NO ONE should have volunteered. Period.

Why would ANYONE “support” those “troops” and these activities? I really want to know.

The USA’s “image” or “brand” has been “slipping” in the world everywhere but Western Europe for over a decade because of our hypocrisies, torture training centers and usage of torture, pollution and degradation of the planet’s resources due to corporate greed and war-mongering at others’ expense. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-1-the-american-brand/

That is another reason NOT to “celebrate” this country on July 4th.

Gratitude and Wishes
Whom am I grateful to? Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Julian Assange. Edward Snowden. Bernie Sanders. Daniel Ellsberg. Karen Silkwood. Rosa Parks. Bree Newsome.

Rolling-Rebellion-Taos-4th-of-July-Parade-gratitude1-e1405261595292
image from: http://www.globalresearch.ca

I Wish…the USA would join the world in better living and cooperation. Start with these:
–Sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
–Provide universal healthcare for all citizens in the USA for free.
–Provide college educations at public universities to all students for free and eliminate/forgive ALL student loan debt right now.
–Sign the reduction in land-mines agreement.
–Sign the reduction in carbon emissions agreement.
–Sign all treaties that attempt to stop human trafficking, sex slavery, child abduction and forced human drug smuggling from occurring.
–Improve and provide housing, alternative health care, better education, enough food and actual public safety (better policing) for ALL our own citizens.
–Model caring, democratic living for the world.
–Stop all forms of discrimination based on religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and other types of social identities.
–Stop all forms of rape, sexual attacks and domestic violence by enforcing the existing laws and making better ones everywhere.
–Reduce child abuse and child poverty by providing more opportunities for jobs and meaningful employment at living wages for all citizens who want to and are able to work.
–Provide free childcare and pre-school to all children.
–Stop all armed conflicts, destroy all mass weapons we own and stop producing them.
–Repurpose the military budget to serve our citizens better (see above).

rebellion-when-injustice-becomes-law-e1412174046276
image from: http://kellidgordonlibertyblog.wordpress.com

What do you wish? Comment here. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Best to you on this weekend, whatever you’re doing. I wish I could celebrate. Instead, I will meditate on world peace.

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!


“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

changes 1

#Censorship

That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


#Violence

Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com


#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com


One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com


The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron
http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Bridge-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00N02YN6C/

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2
http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Watch-Over-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00XV2MW2I/

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3
http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Fisherman-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00VQVQAME/

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com


Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and