Category Archives: Real Life
I’ve had a very strange day. I have a lot I’m supposed to be working on, but I’ve found myself in the middle of this tragedy playing out in Columbia, SC today. You hear about shootings and tragedies on the news, maybe you, like me, find them disturbing and fascinating and horrifying. Sometimes even those distant horrors can seem personal, like Columbine, and people who weren’t even close to being involved have to get through the grief of the event.
I certainly didn’t think I’d ever know someone at the center of something like that. Why would I? It seemed like something that happened in other worlds. Certainly not in Columbia, SC, and definitely not in the whitebread, middle class neighborhood of Shandon.
I woke up early this morning and couldn’t quite go back to sleep, so I checked my Facebook. One of my FB friends wrote that they’d heard shots outside their house, and they live in Shandon. My mom lives in Shandon, but all I really thought was, “Now I can get back at her for all the paranoia when I lived in Echo Park.” And I went back to sleep.
After I got to work, I read a little about it, and the information was sparse: a police officer had been shot in the protective vest, a suspect with an AK-47 had been killed, suicide by cop, and it all happened within sight of my mother’s house. That was a little bit too freaky, so I texted her to make sure she was OK. She didn’t reply for a long while, and when she did I was really flummoxed.
“It was Blake Jernigan.”
And here was my thought process: Blake Jernigan. Was the shooter? That can’t be right. Does she mean he was the officer who is OK, no, he’s too young, that doesn’t make sense, she must mean he was the shooter. He did get in trouble a couple years ago for drugs or something, but he’s like 22, he’s a kid! He went to high school with my little brother! He used to hang out at our house, he’s friends with my little sister, clearly she’s got something mixed up or is talking about something else…
So I texted my little brother, hoping that he’d say something like “Oh, no, she just meant it was at his house, it wasn’t him, he’s fine.” He didn’t say that.
Then the news caught up with gossip and reported that the shooter was Blakely Jernigan. They even found a picture of him from Facebook. He looks exactly like he did when he was 12.
If you ever know someone involved in some sort of story, don’t read the comments. Really, do not, it will only make you angry and sad and doubtful of the worthiness of humanity. I don’t begrudge the cops for shooting him, they did what they had to do and shooting at cops is basically a death wish, but I don’t understand the people crowing about the death of a 22 year old troubled kid. Calling him names, discussing which more terrifying weapons the police should have used to destroy him, and of course the one guy who says he’d wished it was Obama that got shot instead.
Then my brother FB IMed me, he seemed really freaked out. No one was surprised that he came to a bad end, but no one thought he’d be at the center of a police shoot out either. Apparently his personality had drastically changed since going to college, he started doing and selling drugs, and he got a fully automatic AK-47 because people were robbing him. Not really a story that’s going to have a happy ending.
I dunno, maybe this is one of those bleeding heart liberal things, where I just can’t make anyone into a cardboard cutout bad guy. I can’t help but see people in these stories, even when I don’t know them. I just don’t know why anyone is happy at the death of another. I have no distance from this, so I guess I can’t really say.
I am very glad that the officer is going to be just fine, I only wish the same could be said for the Jernigans.
Why is it easier to be proud of something you’re absolutely no good at than it is to be proud of something you are actually good at?
Today, with writing money, I bought a sewing machine and made a skirt. It’s pretty crap, but whatever, I love it.
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s difficult to be a woman online, or what objectification looks like, or if you’ve ever wondered why I don’t vlog or like to be on camera, I’d like to direct you to a 27 page message board discussion that took place over the course of 6 months about whether or not I was hot when I was 22.
Spoiler Alert: Not hot. Also, they hope I will kill myself and film it.
OK, so, Mr. Plait, who I am told is normally super super awesome and does genuinely seem like a nice guy, really irritated the shit out of me during TAM. And I say this with as much respect as possible and I acknowledge that this is my first exposure to him, and that people who know him and his work took what he was saying a bit differently than did I. He was basically saying that skeptics have a tone problem and more flies with honey and stop being assholes.
My level of being incredibly irritated with him for trying to be the Skeptic Tone Police has subsided a bit, partially because I think he didn’t mean it the way he said it. I think he was using general language because his argument was a little sloppy, not because he genuinely thinks no one should ever raise their voice in angry disagreement. To me, however, it sounded like he was saying “Christopher Hitchens, PZed and Dawkins have all got to stop being so strident and angry and dickish. Why can’t we all just get along?” But, apparently he was saying “The JREF forums are fucking hellish”. But I don’t read the JREF forums, so I wouldn’t know.
I agree that, generally speaking, you should be nice to someone you’re trying to convince if you’re having an argument with them to convince them. But, and this is important, that’s not the only reason you have arguments. Sometimes it’s to convince everyone else that you’re right, regardless of what the other person thinks. The internet is an amazing place where your arguments are all public. Sometimes humiliating someone who has a stupid point of view has the effect of convincing everyone else that you are right. Particularly if you can do it in a hilarious way. Hitchens made me OK with self-identifying atheist simply because he was such a hilariously snobby jerkface.
The entire speech was somewhat patronizing — here’s daddy figure Phil Plait telling us all to mind our Ps and Qs and not be so abrasive because daddy doesn’t like that. Pissed me off something hardcore having to sit through him lecturing me about being too mean to people. I felt the same way in a thread over on Pharyngula where people were saying women didn’t like how abrasive the skeptics/atheists are. It’s not true, I love it, it’s entertaining, it’s informative, it’s fun. I’m not a weak little girl, daddy doesn’t get to tell me to play nice with others.
And the fact is most of the people he’s talking about are people who are incredibly nice, polite and respectful in person. He’s got a problem with their online behavior. And frankly, it’s the fucking internet, that’s how people are and to fucking yell at a bunch of people who are really into the same thing you are because you don’t like the tone they take is a bit much.
AND I take issue with him treating skepticism as something we should be in charge of proselytizing. If I want to have an angry discussion about people hacking off little girls privates and be a complete dick to anyone who disagrees with me, I get to do that. Will that change people’s minds, I dunno, but it’s my way of dealing with the information and skepticism isn’t some fucking religion that has rules. His speech, more than anything, makes me a bit reticent to call myself a skeptic rather than an atheist because it makes me think he wants it to be treated as a religion, and that makes me very squeamish.
I know that this wasn’t the first skeptic event for most of the people in the crowd, but it basically was for me… and now I’m quite skeptical of this whole “Skeptic Movement”. I’m an uppity ginger, and I’m not joining any “movement” that tells me that who I am is not OK.
And, as I said, I don’t think that that was what he intended, I suspect it was at least partially him venting about behavior he witnesses online, and, as he doesn’t know me, I’m 80% sure it was not intended as a personal affront. Which is good, because then he’d be guilty of the behavior he’s denouncing. And probably he didn’t mean it was never OK to raise your voice in a crowded room, but that’s sure what it sounded like to me.
So, I’m leaving tomorrow morning to go to TAM. I probably won’t have much internet access beyond email, so there (probably) won’t be any updates while I’m there. I will, however, be taking notes analog style, so I’m sure there’ll be stuff to post when I get back.
So, if you’re going to TAM feel free to either e-mail me, or facebook friend me, I’ll be primarily available by text message and my phone number is on my FB or I can email it. It’s times like these that I wish I had some sort of intelligent phone machine.
I was really excited, I was supposed to go to a book signing in LA with Christopher Hitchens. He was going to give a talk this week. It was going to be awesome. A couple weeks ago, there was a thing in Seattle that a friend of mine was trying to go to, he cancelled for “personal reasons”. Not long after that, he cancelled the one in LA, also for “personal reasons”.
I threw myself into full internet research mode, but there just wasn’t any info out there. I even tried to get the Pharyngulite Horde onto it, but no one really responded.
He’s got cancer. Esophageal cancer for which he’s getting chemo, which means it’s probably advanced. The average five year survival rate, according to Wikipedia, is 5%. According to the following site, 14,250 are diagnosed each year, and 14,000 die.
While no surefire way to prevent cancer of the esophagus exists certain risk factors can be minimized to reduce the risk of cancer. Smoking and excessive alcohol multiply the risk of esophageal cancer up to 44 times, so avoiding these two factors decreases the risk and improves your overall health.
Well, that’s Christopher Hitchens in a nutshell, he smokes and drinks, it’s who he is. It’s a shame if that means he’s going to die at 61. He’ll probably laugh and say at least he got his memoir done before he died. 😦
I hate to ask that question because, generally speaking, I get along pretty well with dudes.
There isn’t a general parking lot where I work, just one for the higher ups. Because of that, I have to park a couple blocks away wherever I can find street parking. This is not a great situation, not because I mind the walk, but for whatever reason this particular neighborhood, which is quite nice, has some very not nice traffic in the form of guys who like to harass women.
Up to now, this has only really been a problem in the evenings, after dark, and if I leave particularly late or am parked particularly far away, I can usually get someone to walk with me. Which I never do because that seems pathetic. I have been followed by cars, honked at, and screamed at. It’s usually just a brief scare and it passes.
Not that it matters, and it certainly shouldn’t matter, but I don’t dress provocatively. 80% of the time I’m wearing some variation of jeans, t-shirt, ponytail and glasses.
Anyway, the point is that the summer has been a welcome respite because it stays light longer, so I walk to my car from work in the daylight and it’s all good. I haven’t been bothered in ages.
This morning, I parked not terribly far away, and someone in a gold forerunner not in very good shape honked at me and waved like crazy as I was walking through a crosswalk. I looked at them, it was some guy I didn’t recognize and who, even at a distance, looked skeezy. To be fair, honking at a girl automatically puts you in the skeez camp, even if it is 10AM.
I crossed over another street and saw that the forerunner was driving too fast up that street and quickened my pace a little to be well out of the way. The guy had driven around like 5 blocks to get back to me. The guy started screaming at me, but I just ignored him since he was behind me, hoping that he’d go away.
The guy swearved around traffic and pulled into someone’s driveway to cut me off. He very nearly ran me over.
Creep: Hey, I’m the guy who honked at you.
Me: Yeah, I got that.
C: Do you have a boyfriend?
(The inflection here has to imply the imaginary boyfriend is a linebacker, very violent, and the jealous type)
C: Does he make you happy?
C: That’s too bad, I was hoping I could take you out some time.
M: Sorry, you can’t.
C: You could still go out though, right? I mean —
M: Really I couldn’t
C: Do you have a sister?
M: No, I have a brother, I doubt you’d be interested.
Do you have a sister? WTF SERIOUSLY?! Who goes around picking up women on the side of the road?
Anyway, this all reminds me of a post on Pharyngula yesterday, about why there aren’t more women who go to conventions. It’s because women deal with shit like that on a regular basis and walking into a room dominated by strange guys by yourself isn’t fun. It’s not fair to the vast majority of guys who aren’t super creepy, but it’s true. Even if only one guy in the room is super creepy, if none of the other people have your back, many girls decide that it’s not worth it.
And if one person comments that I’m lucky to have the attention, I will find you and bring a baseball bat. I don’t own a baseball bat, but I’m seriously reconsidering my position on that.
I’m going. I gave in — what are credit cards for, right? I’ve been obsessing over it for 2 months, I figured I must actually want to go if I still care. I spent a lot of time debating if I wanted to go to TAM or get an iphone. Now the trick is to resist the temptation to get an iphone too.
I’m gonna go down after work Thursday (7/8), and stay for Friday, Saturday, and hopefully enough of Sunday to see Jen McCreight from BlagHag. I haven’t had a vacation since February. Weirdly, I stayed at the same hotel. Anyway, it’s been a rough six months, getting away from LA is an incredibly necessary thing.
So, if you’re also going to TAM, let me know!