Thanks for reading!

trans-march.jpgWhat a pleasure and a delight it's been to guestblog here! With the holidays and my job and everything, it went very quickly. I was unable to get to a number of topics I thought might be of interest, such as: controversy as a marketing tool, the anesthetic shamans of philosophy (Benjamin Paul Blood and William James), X-ray hair removal, the work of Dmitri K. Belyaev, the connection between transgenderism and transhumanism, some amazing trans historical figures, other trends on Facebook and Wikipedia, an interview with my Googlegängers, the history of the Chicago River... perhaps another time or another place. The hardest part for me was to let so many amazing insightful reader comments (both agreements and disagreements) pass unacknowledged. My thanks to each of you for taking the time to read and comment! A couple more things...

Image: Yours truly backstage at last year's Trans March.

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Lou Jing, half black Chinese girl, sparks race debate in China

lou jing.pngA 20-year old Shanghai woman of mixed race has sparked a discussion about race in China. Lou Jing is half black; she was raised by a Chinese mother and speaks and acts like any other Chinese girl. But when the aspiring TV anchor entered an American Idol-like contest and rapped on-stage, she attracted both sensational admiration and ignorant hate. The presenters adoringly called her "chocolate girl" on stage — meanwhile, on web forums, people called her gross and ugly and criticized her mother for having sex with a black person out of wedlock. In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered, Lou Jing says: "I've always thought of myself as Shanghainese, but after the competition I started to have doubts about who I really am." Lou Jing has never met her dad, who left China without knowing he had gotten her mom pregnant. She hopes to study journalism at Columbia University.

Stories about Lou Jing on NPR, Time, Shanghai Daily Image via Shanghai Daily

Dogs welcome soldiers home


To commemorate Veterans Day, Mental Floss collected videos of very happy dogs greeting returning soldiers.

NASA to irradiate monkeys

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"NASA to Start Radiating Monkeys," noted Chris Baker (of Wired), "The kind of headline that should be followed by 'NASA to Fire PR Firm.'"

The experiments will bombard squirrel monkeys (like the lil guy above) with radioactivity to explore the possible effects of radiation in space on human astronauts. Warning: eventually, revenge will come. Oh, and then there's this possibility.

[Photo: "Here's Looking at You!" by ifijay, via Flickr, CC license here. ]

Canadian folk singer dies after coyote attack

taylor2.jpg Toronto-based folk singer Taylor Mitchell died after coyotes pounced on her during a solo hike in Cape Breton national park on Monday. She was hospitalized with injuries from multiple bites, and died in critical care yesterday. Ms. Mitchell was 19 years old. More: LAT, BBC. Artist pages: Facebook, and MySpace.

Do chimps grieve?

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Look at this photograph and just try to tell me the answer is no.

This incredible image was shot for National Geographic by Monica Szczupider, and shows chimpanzees at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. They're observing as the body of an elder troop member named Dorothy is taken to burial. She died at 40 years of age, which is pretty old for a chimpanzee.

The photo appears in the November issue of National Geographic Magazine, in the "Visions of Earth" section. [ Thanks, Marilyn Terrell ]

How to memorialize friends who have passed away on Facebook

facebook deceased.png Over on the Facebook blog, head of security Max Kelly has just explained what to do to memorialize the profile of someone who has passed away:
We understand how difficult it can be for people to be reminded of those who are no longer with them, which is why it's important when someone passes away that their friends or family contact Facebook to request that a profile be memorialized. ...When an account is memorialized, we also set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. We try to protect the deceased's privacy by removing sensitive information such as contact information and status updates. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into it in the future, while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance. If you have a friend or a family member whose profile should be memorialized, please contact us, so their memory can properly live on among their friends on Facebook.
Memories of friends departed endure on Facebook via CNet

Tumors Can Grow Faster Than You Think

Reuters reported last week that Natalie Morton, the teenage girl who died shortly after receiving an HPV vaccination, was definitely not killed by the vaccine. Instead, Morton was the victim of a large, fast-growing and previously undetected tumor in her chest cavity.

These kinds of tumors are very rare, and we don't know much about Morton's case. However, the Daily Mail has a heart-wrenching (and medically fascinating) interview with the parents of another teen who suffered a similar fate...

Inside George's chest cavity was an aggressive and rapidly growing tumour the size of a small football. In the few hours after George had gone to bed, the tumour had grown around his windpipe, cutting off his oxygen and causing irreparable damage to his brain. The tumour, which had started in an organ called the thymus gland in the chest cavity, was also crushing his heart and lungs and constricting the vital arteries supplying his body with blood.

disapprovingrabbits.com

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Link.

Thoughts for Polanski apologists, by another woman raped at 13.

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On "Getting Over It," by Lauren over at Feministe:

What does rape do to you? Afterward? It changed me; there is before and after. Before, a child, playing with Barbies, looking sideways at boys, wondering. After, confusion. Depression. A litany of fuck-ups and fuck-its, whatevers, mistakes, trusting no one, least of all myself. Before, sex was mysterious; after, miasma. I was tarred as a Lolita. I was called jail bait.

Rape is not the only assault. Around rape is a large segment of the population that questions the victim, a culture that looks down on victims for allowing themselves to be victimized, or keep them victimized, questions about the victim's credibility, questions about the legacy of rape and how bad it is, because how bad is rape really? Rape, because various levels and forms of sexual assault are systemic and pervasive across all societies, exists alongside one's experiences of unwanted touching, wanted touching, sexual objectification, sexual desire, sexual harassment, incest, love, leering eyes, cat calls, roaming hands, consent, confusion, tits, vagina, rectum, penis, mouth, rape and not-rape, all of it loaded, all of it veering at rape's ugly legacy, co-mingling, the legacy that tells us to be more careful, to dress more conservatively, to BE BETTER AT BEING VULNERABLE, or BE MORE POWERFUL, or BE MORE FEARFUL, or GET OVER IT ALREADY. Rape leaks into healthy, consensual experiences. It lingers. It pervades.

Related: This Smoking Gun archive contains the entire "1977 grand jury testimony of the 13-year-old California girl with whom the director had sex after plying her with Champagne and a Quaalude at the Los Angeles home of Jack Nicholson."

A rape is a rape by any other name.

See also: Polanski's Victim and Me, by the celebrated novelist Robert Goolrick, who is also a survivor of child rape.

Finally, Polanski in his own words in 1979, an unrepentant abuser:

"If I had killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But... f--ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f-- young girls. Juries want to f-- young girls. Everyone wants to f-- young girls!"

Typhoon, Floods in the Philippines: first-person BB report from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Photos, above and after the jump, shared with Boing Boing by Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star. Her first-person account from the ongoing disaster follows, and includes recommendations on how you can help the victims. She shot the photos in this post two days after the typhoon, on a relief drive in a town called Tumana. Link to Flickr set.

Typhoon Ondoy by Audrey Carpio

Typhoon Ondoy, aka Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped 40 cm of rain on the Philippines last Saturday before he/she left to wreak watery havoc upon Vietnam and Cambodia. But Manila and its surrounding environs are still in various states of calamity, with many parts of the city still submerged under dirty brown water and others, while drying out, caked in leptospirosis-inducing mud. The government and its presidentiables have been slow to act upon what could've been their Hurricane Katrina-hero moment but quick to seize upon relief efforts for electioneering. Instead, it is thanks to the generosity and ingenuity of the Filipino people who mobilized themselves through Twitter and Facebook that hundreds of thousands of victims have been fed, clothed and sheltered.

As early as Saturday evening, when people began to realize that floods have flashed rather quickly and videos of drowning trucks emerged on YouTube, relief plans grew almost organically on the networks. Tweets encouraging people to gather food, blankets, and clothing for donations were some of the earliest; by the next day there was an updatable and sharable Google spreadsheet on all the drop-off and volunteer centers; by Monday, almost all status updates and tweets had to do with emergency hotline numbers, relatives of friends who were stranded on a rooftop, and traffic advisories warning which roads were impassable. A Google map of people in need of rescuing was uploaded, although its usefulness is questionable, considering the general low-techness of the National Disaster Coordinating Council's rescue squads they only had 13 rubber boats with which to deploy to the affected barangays †or villages (to put it into perspective, 1.9 million people were inundated with flood water, nearly 380,000 have been evacuated into schools, churches and other emergency shelters, and 246 people have died.

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

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The Lessons of Lindsay

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A powerful and beautiful photo-essay by Matt Mendelson about a powerful and beautiful young woman from my home town named Lindsay Ess, a fashion major at Virginia Commonwealth University. Same school, even the same building where I spent a lot of time as a kid, growing up -- so the story *really* felt familiar and personal to me, even though I do not know her, and cannot imagine what it feels like to endure what she's prevailed through.

The story begins at a student runway showing, where Linsday is looking on:

Lindsay, it should be noted, has no hands to clap and no feet on which to get up. She had them back in the summer of 2007, when she was tall and thin and had just graduated from VCU with a fashion merchandising degree. Then, to use her words, a blur. When she entered Henrico Doctors' Hospital that summer, the procedure to remove a small piece of inflamed intestine, a nagging complication of her Crohn's disease, was supposed to go routinely. But supposed to go routinely rarely turns out well, and there hasn't been a routine day in Lindsay's life ever since. Not since the leak, not since the sepsis, not since the organ failures, the brain seizures, and not since the coma. Definitely not the coma. Not since one day in August turned to October and then drifted on towards Christmas. Certainly not since the quadruple amputations, the cruel coda to having been so close to death all those months and then surviving. Oh, honey, you know what they're going to do, right? the nurse said. There's no routine to being bathed and fed and dressed like a child mere months after you've graduated college, and no routine to learning how to walk again at the age of twenty-five. No routine in continuing a long-distance relationship with someone who admits to having originally been smitten by your looks, or to being with your mother almost every waking hour. There's no routine for taking a fistful of pills a day--the Pentasa, the Entocort EC, the Lexapro, the Keppra, the Urosidol, the Spiranolactone, the Zolpidem, the Lyrica, not to mention the occasional shot of actual alcohol. There's no routine, no manual, for wishing you were whole again, so that just one morning of your life you could actually wake up and make it to the bathroom on your own, even if the arms and legs you now covet so are made of acrylic and not skin and bone and muscle. And, perhaps most of all, no routine for the long, slow realization that those acrylic arms and legs might not, in the end, be the answer to anything. If you're Lindsay Ess, routine pretty much stopped on August 3, 2007.
The Lessons of Lindsay (story) Sports Shooter Q & A: with Matt Mendelsohn (chat with the photographer).

(Sports Shooter, via @Glennf)

Boing Boing's September 11, 2001 archives.

Very early that morning, as the smoke was rising, Boing Boing re-blogged this eyewitness account by Teresa Nielsen Hayden:
I just climbed back down from my Brooklyn rooftop. An airplane has flown into the World Trade Towers. There's thick black smoke billowing out of several floors of both towers. Let me pause for a moment to say with all the lucidity I can muster that it is the strangest sight I have ever seen in my life.

I can hear the sirens of multiple emergency vehicles, 360 degrees around. There were people on other rooftops in my neighborhood, some of them talking on their cellphones. Down in the street below me a workman was shouting in some language other than English for the rest of his work crew to come out of the house they're renovating and see what's happening. I couldn't make out a word of it, but there was no mistaking the sense.

Patrick called from the office. He says from where I'm standing I can't see the big hole in the side of one tower.

And Cory wrote:
The Internet's major news sites have been shut down by a massive flood of traffic as everyone in the world calls and emails everyone else in the world to tell them the news. God, this feels so apocalyptic. Five people have just called me to tell me about this, and more -- all flights in the US have been grounded, the Pentagon's been hit, the flights were hijacked commercial airliners... Holy crap.
And Mark linked to this prescient piece by Dan Gillmor:
What happened on Tuesday was an act of war. The American government and military should and will respond in kind. If law enforcement and national security agencies declare war on the American people in the process, they will give the terrorists a gift. The despicable people who planned this will triumph if we add to the damage.
On 9/11, Boing Boing linked to this, from John Perry Barlow:
Control freaks will dine on this day for the rest of our lives. Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America. Those of who are willing to sacrifice a little - largely illusory - safety in order to maintain our faith in the original ideals of America will have to fight for those ideals just as vigorously.
Boing Boing: September 11, 2001.

9/11/2009

From a 2001 story in New York magazine written a couple of weeks after the attacks, by David Carr:

# Everyone who comes after will never understand.
Not a new brand of New York provincialism but a cold fact. This is the place where the world seemed to end in a single morning. That day, as it was experienced here, was not televised.

# The jumpers will always be with us.
Faced with the most horrible of all human choices, the kind of riddle that grade-school children use to torture each other, many leaped rather than burn. And as the debris falling from the top anthropomorphized into human beings, people watching understood that for the time being, we were all beyond help. "I don't remember faces, just bodies jumping out," says Alexandra Rethore, a second-year analyst at Lehman Brothers. "And the girl next to me was hysterical. She kept saying, 'They're catching them, right?' I said, 'Yeah, they're catching them. Let's go.' " It was a noble act, a message to loved ones: "I'm gone but not lost. I'm still here. Find me."

18 Truths About the New New York (New York, 10-2001)

Worth reading today:
A Fortress City That Didn't Come to Be (NYT, 09-2009)
What Would 9-11 Be Like in the Age of Social Media? (LA Weekly, 09-2009)

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Story about Wal-Mart founder's treatment of his employees

The American Prospect reviewed a couple of books about Wal-Mart, and included this charming anecdote about Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton
Around the time that the young Sam Walton opened his first stores, John Kennedy redeemed a presidential campaign promise by persuading Congress to extend the minimum wage to retail workers, who had until then not been covered by the law. Congress granted an exclusion, however, to small businesses with annual sales beneath $1 million -- a figure that in 1965 it lowered to $250,000.

Walton was furious. The mechanization of agriculture had finally reached the backwaters of the Ozark Plateau, where he was opening one store after another. The men and women who had formerly worked on small farms suddenly found themselves redundant, and he could scoop them up for a song, as little as 50 cents an hour. Now the goddamn federal government was telling him he had to pay his workers the $1.15 hourly minimum. Walton's response was to divide up his stores into individual companies whose revenues did not exceed the $250,000 threshold. Eventually, though, a federal court ruled that this was simply a scheme to avoid paying the minimum wage, and he was ordered to pay his workers the accumulated sums he owed them, plus a double-time penalty thrown in for good measure.

Wal-Mart cut the checks, but Walton also summoned the employees at a major cluster of his stores to a meeting. "I'll fire anyone who cashes the check," he told them.

The "values" of Wal-Mart, the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., are shaping our national economy -- and that's a very bad thing. (Via WashPost)