Three Months

Well, I’ve been off for three months. I guess I’m back? I have gotten tired of languishing in debt and self pity as my resume finds its way into wastebaskets around America so I’m getting ready to try and start my own photo business. I’d really love to be able to do something I really enjoy as a job, I feel like I can get behind taking pretty pictures. I really don’t know what happened to the podcast. Both me and Anthony have felt kind of crappy the last few months, and it kind of went by the wayside. I have some wonderful new pictures and some fairly nice miniatures to post, and a litany of problems with the world, so all of that will be coming back up soon.

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Violence

I have been seeing some things circulating lately about a killing spree at the end of last week. I have been trying to hunt down where these commentaries and editorials have been springing up from as well as looking through the “news” to contextualize and form a coherent opinion of my own.

What happened: A seriously disturbed young man went on a killing spree May 23 in California. After stabbing his three housemates, he shot and killed three strangers before shooting at random pedestrians from his car. After a gun fight with law enforcement, he drove off and shot himself.

The disturbing parts: this blogger re-posts and discusses the block of text that has gone viral in assorted arenas. I contemplated adding a link to a news article that provides links to the content that the killer posted, but stopped myself for reasons that Charlie Booker goes over in this excerpt from his show. Go ahead, and read and watch.

So these two things form an interesting conundrum. There is an unacceptably large group of people, men and women both, who are willing to believe that this is some how a woman’s, or women as a whole’s, fault. Rejection is not concordant with assault, it is not a justifiable provocation for violence. No woman should have given in and “taken a bullet” by sleeping with this guy. No one should be expected to relinquish autonomy to fulfill another person’s entitlement.

I can’t say that I’m not guilty of acting entitled. I’m a young white male. Society has conditioned me to believe that the world should be delivered to me on a silver platter. I’ve been clingy and jealous and I’ve said things to people that caused pain. And I’m sorry, I really wish I hadn’t, and I can’t take those things back. The more I think about it, the worse I feel, and then I hear about things like this, where someone has gone to violent, violent extremes comparatively, and that they have supporters, the more I begin to feel physically ill. No human should accept the open threat of violence against them for demonstrating their own autonomy and preferences. I do not wish to belong to a group of people that is willing to perpetuate that standard of living. These are my decisions based on the evidence that is available to me.

I also feel confident that it’s the only decision that one can logically make.

The other half, of course, is openly discussing this. Putting the national spotlight on a mass murderer results in the glorification of his actions, without necessarily condoning them. His motives were his, his actions were his, he is now dead, the story should die with him. Instead, we have a media circus revolving around the event. We have people condoning his motives. I am here speaking of my experience and warning against this horrible state of affairs where this has become something we need to discuss. How do you fix this without making another problem worse?

Reflecting

It was hitting me on Saturday night as I sat at Dempsey’s attempting to learn sports by osmosis, my fleshy frame’s surface area exposed to discussion of basketball statistics, attempting to draw the knowledge in through my cell membranes, that my life has turned into something I didn’t really expect. I am becoming friends with professional fighters. I’m looking at getting a motorcycle. The thought of donuts makes me sick to my stomach (I will still totally eat them though, lets not get too crazy). I think about running two miles and I get a mild buzz of excitement and not dread. I have business cards, they even have my name on them. It’s a bunch of little strange things that confuse me, and of course that makes me think about where I have been. So a brief recap of the last year:

A year and a day ago, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Linguistics. My sister got married the day before. I was never as upset about it as the other people I knew. I started talking to my girlfriend about getting married. Eleven months ago I switched anxiety medications and everything seemed like it was going to be great. They were actually helping instead of making me feel worse, all of which came from the fact that I was still anxious after grad school ended. Ten months ago, my girlfriend left me in the middle of the night, my life started to fall apart. Nine months ago, I adopted my kitten. Shadow has been, well, my shadow ever since. Eight months ago, with no prospects of employment after getting a significant amount of debt and doing a lot of work to prove I could be an academic success, and reeling after being left by someone I thought I wanted to spend life with, I thought very hard about the benefits of no longer existing. Seven months ago, I got a part time job that paid a ridiculous amount for being a part time job, but still wasn’t quite enough to make ends meet on my own. But it was something. I turned 27 and I could get out and do things occasionally again. My dad retired, they named a building after him. Six months ago, I had a brief encounter with someone who had meant a lot to me before my girlfriend, and who still means a lot to me today. 5 months ago, I kind of screwed that up. Neither of us were in the right place to even be thinking about dating someone. This made Christmas kind of rough. Four months ago I got my camera. Instead of sulking I started to go out and practice shooting. I wanted to explore and get better. Three months ago, I made it 5km on the elliptical trainer for the first time ever in my life. I was starting to actually get in shape instead of just punishing myself at the gym for being a fuck up in his late 20s. Two months ago, I got my motorcycle license. I had gotten up to doing 5k three times a week on the trainer and could do 3k on foot without stopping. I knew I could go further, I don’t stop because I’m out of breath, but because I’m hell on my knees. Last month, I decided I wanted to get serious about becoming a fashion/alt photographer. I’m slowly collecting gear and kit to make that work. I actually did some work painting for the first time in a long while. I had forgotten how much I liked painting little mans, and how good I was at it. This month, I hardly believe its been a year.

The truth of the thing is that eight months ago, I may have really died. Whoever I was stopped existing, because he was defeated. All the work he did and all the plans he made fell apart and failed, and he had to let go and admit that none of that was solely his fault. It takes two to tango, and I admit I screwed up a fair number of times in that relationship, but you can’t control how someone else feels. She just wasn’t feeling it any more. I couldn’t have fixed it. The economy and politics have been severely mismanaged by a small group of greedy individuals, especially here in Kansas. I am not alone in the substantial amount of debt that I left school with, and am not alone in the fact that it will crush my ability to function in society for years to come. Things in this country have stagnated, and the work I do now, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, is threatened further by short sighted budget cuts and anti-intellectual agendas. How many students out there are now highly trained scientists and problem solvers that can’t get hired because they lack job experience? How will we ever get job experience if no one is willing to train us or let us train ourselves? Every graduate student in America, unless they finished their degree by being a mindless sycophant, has demonstrated that for a minimum of two years that they are capable of learning and adapting to any situation under their own direction. They can identify and deconstruct problems and work through innovative solutions by doing research and through systematic inquiry and investigation.

And hell, even the mindless sycophants have proven that they are spineless and well documented yes-men, and there are people who want that, too.

There are plenty of people feeling guilty today because they are in their 20s and they had to move back home after school and society says that is a sign of personal failure. Well guess what, we are becoming a majority of people, we get to decide what society says, and I think we should be saying “No, fuck you, we never got a chance to buy cars and houses like you said we should. The problem isn’t us, it’s you. We haven’t failed you, you failed us. You told us the only way to get ahead in life is to go to school and get an education, and then hung us out to dry after you got our money. You sold us into slavery, and we refuse to go quietly.”

Point being, I hit an extreme low, and I think because of it I have started to think and feel significantly differently. I have become a person I did not expect to become. I’m an activist and an advocate, an artist and kind of a bad ass. If people want to call me a self important internet asshole, or cry “Social Justice Warrior!” let them. What people think about you is not important, but what you think about yourself. I’ll keep volunteering and donating, making calls to the FCC Chairman everyday until he fixes the net neutrality rules, and you can make your own decisions. You always have been able to, and that’s what I’ve wanted my readers to do all along.

I hope you stick around, though. We can get a lot more done together then we can alone.

Bipolar

I promised I’d write a post about bipolar. Also, I promised a podcast. We are working on it. Me and my cohort work for a university, and May is the time at universities where people are trying to finish and graduate. This translates, for us, that we have to do a ton of extra work. Which would normally be an awful time to start a project.

This helps move us on to the topic I promised. Bipolar. I’m not explicitly bipolar. My personal problems revolve around anxiety, that hasn’t got a lot of real basis, and the resulting depression. Being frightened most of the time takes its toll on you eventually, it’s harder and harder to feel good about things. This occasionally leads to a severe disconnect from your feelings. If you have not, you should check out what the lady at Hyperbole and a Half has to say about depression. It’s not simple to explain to people what it feels like, and more than once have I had someone tell me “Well stop, just pick up and feel better!”

That’s hardly an option when you no longer feel the need to continue existing. Like it’s optional, you wouldn’t be upset if you stopped. It’d be largely OK. Also well described in her comic, there is a dam that tends to break during your recovery period. This is a hypomanic episode. Everything you were unable or unwilling to feel for the period of time before doesn’t go away. It gets deferred. It all will pour out at once in an unpleasant rush. The greatest thing is that you may not even know you are having this happen to you. I don’t notice my manic swings until someone else says something. When I write an e-mail at 3AM that is so densely written and full of information that it is difficult to understand, it seems perfectly normal to me. In hindsight, of course it sounds silly.

So do most things in hindsight.

My problem is minor. I have to deal with the unpleasant feeling of being at the complete mercy of my emotions, many of which I don’t understand or can even trace back to a trigger in reality, with no real reason to believe they will subside, or if this is a good sign or if this is the straw that finally breaks your resolve. I only had to suffer with it for a couple weeks at a time, very rarely will I have a phase where I’m not in control, that I make impulsive decisions and start up projects I can’t possibly finish. Some people go through cycles of feelings like this on a daily basis. They are under constant assault by their own feelings. They likely feel as though something is wrong, and will self medicate. Addiction to the manic phase, the knowledge that the depression that will follow will hurt beyond reason, will try to stave it off pharmaceutically. Impulsive and destructive consequences are better than the nothingness that comes with depression. It’s easy to see how things would fall apart quickly, how hard it would be to function in society, but people with this problem get little understanding and support from the people around them who just don’t understand, who haven’t ever had to deal with the fact that their emotions aren’t necessarily theirs; they are fake, not related to the world around you, and they never stop coming.

This blog is about awareness. I write things that I know about, I talk about things I see that make me worry. You or someone you know has a mental health problem related to depression or some other mood disorder. Specifically the NIMH gives statistics for reported cases at about 10% of adult Americans suffer from major depression or severe bipolar disorder. There is a severe stigma that surrounds admiting that there is something wrong, or asking for help. No one wants to admit they can’t handle how they feel on their own, we are full of shame if we appear needy, so that number is probably disgustingly low compared to the number of people suffering. The simple truth of the thing is that is the biggest lie that was ever sold, we need each other more than any of us will ever know, probably one in five of us needs some kind of help.

That’s a lot of needy people out there. Shame we don’t seem to do much about it. And the thing to do is so simple; listen to each other and recognize that its a real problem that people can’t just “get over” without help.

Spring in Lawrence.

So here I sit on the porch of the Pig here in #LFK, because winter might have ended and it’s 70 degrees for like ten minutes. I was going to take a moment to talk briefly about the upcoming podcast project that me and my friend Anthony will be putting together starting next week. We are going to go ahead and perpetuate our delusion of being a motorcycle gang, and we will be going with the title “Fear Eaters Payday LFK.” Biweekly, we will be lovingly producing a largely unfocused 15 minute journey into whatever tickles our fancy. We are amateurs in pretty much everything we do except linguistics and gaming so I feel like it may be likely that those two topics will crop up more often than others. We plan on talking about what all we have learned about motorcycling, photography, information technology, and more than likely Renée will want to educate about the fascinating world of water treatment.

So like I said, unfocused.

Back in the Saddle

Ok so I’ve been a bad author lately. I haven’t done any work here on the blog. I’ve just had the lovely experience of hypomania, where in I started a bunch of projects, shot off my mouth a little too often, and subsequently slipped back into the normal depression I live with. Tons of fun. However, in that time, I did actually do so easy awesome things. First, I took a motorcycle class at the Community College in Kansas City. I went originally to be supportive of my friend Anthony who wanted to learn and get a second vehicle for his one car household that needs to be a two car household. After the first night of instruction, I was a little unclear on how you ride and not die. Saturday morning when  we first got on the school’s learning bikes, I was terrified. However, once we actually started riding around, I changed my tune.

It is so. Fun.

It’s not really different, in kinesthetic knowledge, from riding a bicycle, which I’ve done my whole life. The first thing I did to get healthy again a couple of years ago was to get a bicycle to take the 3 miles into work each morning on campus. The motorcycle is just that feeling but way way faster. Which is awesome. It’s extremely liberating and terrifying at the same time. You experience the speed a day the mechanical workings of your vehicle in a much more direct fashion compared to driving your car. There is no framing, no detachment from the situation around you, as well as no safety net. By the end of the class I was really bummed about not actually having the money to get a bike of my own instead of just doing a neat enrichment activity to do over the weekend.

Second, what I did have money for was a new camera lens. I got a fixed length Nikon DX 35mm for portraits and event shooting. I love it. It goes all the way down to f1.8, which makes for awesome for lowlight shots and a very nice, razor thin depth of field. I took it out and shot some stuff downtown because it was a beautiful weekend. I’ll add those photos and some of Anthony on his new bike later this week.

Third, we will be starting a podcast! Me and Anthony will actually start work this week on putting together a 15 to 20 minute podcast where in we will talk about a subject and generally make fun of each other. We will do our absolute best to avoid politics and offer some interesting insights and advice into assorted hobby related ventures, including photo, motorcycles, gaming, painting, or whatever else we feel like talking about.

Fourth, I had the good fortune to go see this year’s Luna Fest that came to town to benefit the GaDuGi Safecenter here in Lawrence. GaDuGi is another wonderful non-profit organization that provides crisis counseling and other support for victims of sexual violence and abuse. The films were all very good, I especially enjoyed the documentary that followed a young woman with Tourette syndrome, since I always love media that promotes awareness and acceptance of mental health problems.

A quick update of what’s been happening and what’s to come. I have a decent amount of work done on my Infinity models, so in addition  to some landscape photos and the upcoming podcast, look forward to some miniature photography and our impressions of the game.

Infinity Miniatures

I’m pretty excited to be starting up some Infinity factions. First one that came in was a PanOceania Naval Cutter, so that’s what will hit first.

State of Women’s Media Report

State of Women’s Media Report

Also, here, lets take a moment to look at the statistics for this year, since we are on a kick about women and media giants tonight.

First of all, what is Ink Master?…

Second of all, why is it even on television? Today, we are tossing a link to a Facebook group that can go over the goings on in more detail. Quick recap: There are a pair of gigantic assholes that have prominent places in Viacom’s cable television station Spike! TV. Pretty publicly in their television show, they are somewhat abusive and sexist. Apparently behind the scenes they are bordering on criminal and largely indecent.

 

In a surprise turn of events, Viacom, when asked by a female employee to mediate a dispute over sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, refused to intervene and then terminated the woman.

 

This is a good day for the doctor, because I get to stand on two different soap boxes. AT THE SAME TIME! I am beside myself. It’s like Christmas when I get a double feature; Viacom networks are part of the increasing crush on free speech and the war against net neutrality. So when they go ahead and open themselves up to some substantial legal trouble, I am pleased.

 

Forces at work here are two fold; we have in one hand two highly publicized misogynists perpetuating a culture that is violent towards women, which we have talked about as being equally destructive to the men that perpetuate it, and we have a telecoms giant attempting to supress someone that is protesting the sad state of their external message. It’s an often referenced adage from a book that a lot of people adhere to in their daily lives; “You shall be judged according to the least among you.” Normally, I get this tossed around a lot when struggling against wage inequality, but here, here we something a little more awful. Viacom is represented by the content they decide to broadcast, so they have received one black mark for condoning this sort of behavior on national television. Alright, so no one would ever consume any media if we boycotted every outlet that contained a misogynist or a homophobe or a racist. Modern society would collapse. What a company should do is terminate those people, or at a bare, bare minimum fine, demote, or otherwise censure the specific problem individuals. Remove the cancer from their organization. Instead, they have tipped their hand. They don’t find this offensive. The money is too good, the cancer is the product, and instead of correctly vilifying the offenders and their behavior, they suppress and punish someone with the courage to speak out against them.

This is something that we have to make clear is unacceptable. With the rampant conglomeration of media outlets, consumers and activists must send a very clear message now, not later, now that these behaviors will have repercussions for companies. Support the boycott, stop spending money with Paramount Pictures, stop watching Viacom television, and stop supporting their advertisers until they put pressure on Viacom to make this situation right.

 

For more news: A story published on Jezebel (largely NSFW pro woman Gawker site), and reporting from the local news outlets in New Jersey.

You want to know which advertisers to pressure? Well have this:

Verizon, Skittles, HealthCare.gov (BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK NOT, LETS GET THE GOVERNMENT IN HERE TOO!), US Army, South Park, Red Cross, Subaru, Jim Beam, Paramount Pictures, Guinness, Allstate, and RelativityMedia.

The Rotting Core

I promised pictures from ComiCon. They will come, fear not. First, I have to talk about this madness first.

I want this to be the fiction that it sounds like. Apparently, one Susanne Atanus had decided to run for House of Representatives in Illinois. Great, good for her, even if I don’t agree with you, go you for getting out there and trying to be the change you want to see in the world. Oh wait. You’re insane.

Insane to the point that the rest of the GOP revoked their support of her. Apparently publicly stating that God is killing Americans for allowing gays to have rights is a step too far. Well have any rules for stopping her from saying that or running. Good thing we have this whacked two party system. For once, this is going to help out; when there is more than one interested person running, inside the party there will be a primary. That will weed out this crazy woman.

But then she went ahead and won that. I used to really like Chicago. Liberals and democrats are dancing on their desks this morning. They are convinced that they have this one in the bag, surely no one in the general will vote for this woman.

There is a more disturbing trend here, however. This woman, who is on record saying that Autism and Dementia as well as severe weather, are direct interventions by our loving God to punish us with indiscriminate slaughter and degeneration because some of us support that people should be allowed to spend their life with whoever makes them the happiest, has won a major election. She. Won. No one is recognizing the serious threat that that actually is to all of us. The majority of her constituents agree with her standpoint to have voted for her to oppose the incumbent liberal satanist. This woman, who has openly stated that the great depression and stock market crash in 1929 didn’t actually happen, is a symptom. Everyone is confident that she will loose to congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in the general election, as am I, but that is only treating a symptom.

Do you know what happens when a doctor only treats a symptom and not a cause?

Dead patients. Patients with low quality of life. Patients that don’t have hope of getting better, that know the next symptom will come along or the side effects of the treatment will make them worse.

This woman and this kind of thinking and the support that it has clearly gathered is the result of a disease. The treatment has been the progressive battle cry from time immemorial, and that is provide better education. An educated populous is a progressive and powerful populous. The more understanding of issues, disease, mental health, sexuality, the less we will have to deal with repercussions of people not understanding how these things happen. STD’s will drop, unplanned pregnancies will dwindle, prisons will cease being overpopulated, drug use will diminish, people will spend money and spur the economy. When we refuse to educate, we get this, we get the blind devotion and the refusal to take responsibility for things like climate change and for the care of people who are ill and for the fact that we can’t provide human rights to everyone.

This is some sick shit people. Everyone wants to laugh this off as an oddity or an outlier of some sort, that this perosn is a joke. Well here’s the punchline: This sort of thing is not going away and will continually get worse unless we do something about it.