Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gimpy Gamer

Hallo! I have several drafts I am working on, some of them thanks to you all chiming in on my Ask the Readers post. I want to take a moment to thank you folks that chimed in, I appreciate it and I am working on what you indicated that you wanted to read!

Today I want to talk about gaming. I am a Gimpy Gamer. I am a Mom Gamer. I am a Girl Gamer raising two more Girl Gamers, living with two additional guy gamers. I am sometimes a hardcore gamer, but usually a medium core gamer. I play Xbox games, I play social games. I have played tabletop RPGs, I have played LARPs. I live in Indiana, so you know I play euchre. I can play some other card games. I have played blended games like Zombies!!! I have enjoyed some really terrific ARGs. I have a set of Pirate Farkle which saw some great use during a power outage.

I have some great satisfactions and concerns about the state of gaming today, particularly as it involves politics. Gaming does not have to be political, but it often is and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I do not see any serious political message in, say, Bejeweled. (And I have played the hell out of some Bejeweled, to be sure.) But gaming can be highly political. Some political games off the top of my head: Star Wars: The Old Republic (franchise, two RPGs and an MMO), the whole Fable series, the Mass Effect franchise, and the Bioshock series.

You can play any of the games I have listed and not notice the politics, or not care - but it is in there, and goes to the very heart of some issues that sometimes games can best address. The first Fable questions the nature of heroes. The third Fable address the right to rule. The Old Republic's handling of the truly murky nature of morality shines best in the second game, and this is why it has earned a place on my imaginary shelf of Best Games Ever. Mass Effect forces the player to wrestle with the concept of "the greater good," how to serve it, and what personal sacrifices it may require.

Last night I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic with my Menfolk and got a face full of politics written so well that it warranted repeated mentions by us. We, as our characters, had to decide what to do about a person illegally imprisoned and tortured for the crime of attending rallies and reading materials produced by a group disagreeing with the local government. We had to face a squad of soldiers that had been abandoned to die by the intergalactic government and the price they wanted that administration to pay for it's crime. Our quest line felt like a Law and Order script (ie: "torn from the day's headlines," and I mean that in a good way. It lead to a lot of discussion about those issues as they pertain to our current and most recent Presidential administration and how they handle these sorts of issues.

What I want to do with this post is start to establish not just my own interest in gaming, but to establish games themselves as worthy of further focus. My life does change how I few games: as a woman, and a person with disabilities, as a bisexual - all of these things and more are part of how I view games and influence my opinion. Lucky you, I will be sharing my opinions with you and asking you for your opinions. But while we dissect them for meaning and influence, I want us to not forget that the point is to have fun! Speaking of, I have a bit of housekeeping (both personal and literal) to do before I finally get to try out Deepak Chopra's Leela. Once I do I will share what I find here!

Have fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dear Bill Maher

Dear Bill Maher:

Fuck you.

Wait, perhaps I should explain. On your HBO series, Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 238, after your opening monologue, you conducted an interview with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

For the most part, it was the standard off-and-on funny middling self-help celebrity interview. I had some hope that this would be good stuff when Pinsky called "bullshit" right away on some of the standard thought processes regarding celebrities and addition. Even better, when you both touched on how street drugs seem to, regarding addition in general, have different, less fatal outcomes than prescription drug addition. This is not part of current common wisdom and needs more discussion and scrutiny. I thought it was useful that you two delved into why celebrity addiction deaths seem to follow a pattern regarding "downers." It was really poignant when you two mentioned that sleep is the one thing that no one, no matter what their wealth and status, can order up on demand (particularly once one has built up a resistance to  Benzodiazepines , etc...).

But you and Dr. Pinsky talked a bit about painkillers, and you went so far off the rails you crashed the train in to the station. You quoted a statistic stating that while USians are a small percent of the world population, we use 56 percent of the painkillers and asked "What is it about Americans that we cannot cope with pain?" 

Deep breath, here we go...

So just starting out you make a gross generalization (and I do mean gross) and make me wonder what the hell is wrong with you. You give that statistic without citation, and with a number of assumptions. Have you even thought about what may be contributing to that statistic? That perhaps, with our extended lifespans that people are living longer in bodies that become more and more prone to conditions that cause pain? That there are numerous conditions out there that can not be cured, used to be fatal, but now are at least partially manageable and that one of the things that needs to be managed is often pain?

What is really important here is that you are feeding a stereotype of Americans using painkillers that itself can be deadly. Chronic pain is a vicious thing that uncoils into every aspect of your life, poisoning it. It does not just harm, it kills. Chronic pain kills enjoyment. Chronic pain kills serenity. Chronic pain kills relationships. Chronic pain kills self esteem and self reliance. Chronic pain drives people to suicide.

Do you have any idea how many people I hear from that live their lives in more pain than necessary, not out of deprivation but because of the stigma of pain killers? It is all I can do to not stop right now and sob just at the thought of the needless pain that I personally know is out there this morning. I am now, right now, needlessly suffering because my current pain killer and dose is no longer effective, but I just do not want to wrestle with my health care network. I just do not have the mental and emotional stamina to face being treated like a criminal because I have the misfortune to have a body that hurts.

Mr. Maher, please quit feeding the stereotype. There is genuine suffering out there, in here, that should not exist. If nothing else, in this modern age, we ought to be able to alleviate suffering. Our willingness to do so is part of our measure as human beings. 

I will toast you, Mr. Maher, the next time I take my nearly criminalized, carefully measured and monitored, and now rapidly approaching useless pain killer dose. If you cannot speak of those in pain or chronic pain with some humanity, compassion, and education, then please do not speak of us at all.

Edit: spelling error, 2/26/12

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Help for ALL Surviving Domestic Abuse

Republicans Back out of Domestic Violence Help

All they had to do was renew the damn bill.

In a discussion online about this article it was mentioned that undocumented working women that were being abused would be "rewarded" by the proposed changes. I got really angry and responded:

... REWARDED?!? REALLY? What kind of "reward" is it when you have to get your ass jacked, sometimes for years, before you can get it? And lawbreakers?!? Give me a goddamn break! We have protections in place for mass murderers on DEATH ROW but some lady that came here for a better life and can't navigate the multi thousand dollar convoluted piece of shit we call an immigration system is fair game?!? Holy hell!

So then I took a deep, cleansing breath while waiting on a reply. I am not posting the other side of the conversation here because it was casual and there was no shared understanding at the time that I might extrapolate on my responses for my blog.  

Okay. Human rights are not contingent on being a citizen. Full stop. And there is nothing about DV/DA help that actually makes one a citizen. So no crime is "washed away." Offering a minuscule number of undocumented women visas only gives them a bit of temporary help, moving one issue out of the current stressors while one works ones way out of the living hell that is domestic abuse and/or violence. It will not make these women citizens, not by a long shot, and to argue that it is a reward of any kind is disingenuous at best, and  out and out lying manipulation at worst.

I am so fucking tired of people acting like a accident of birth that put them within the fabricated and stolen USian boarders some how makes them special or better than other people. Or that other human beings are some how less human or their suffering is less important because their moment of birth put them (usually, in these arguments) south of an artificial line made of murder and theft. The fact that we are having these "rights of birth" arguments in a country founded on the idea that birth status does not make one better or worse than any other person is disgusting.

My point above, about mass murderers, is not to say the people in our prison system should not be protected from the tyranny of the system or their peers. They should be subjected to the cruelty of their sentences but not a jot more. My point was to juxtapose one "law breaker" with another, highlighting the differences in protection each receive. One has been convicted of taking lives, the other committed, or their parents committed, a crime of geography.

But there is nothing in our laws that makes one birth better than another, something that seems to be missing in every one of these arguments I have seen. If your main focus regarding help for the survivors of domestic violence is illegal immigration, I have not no help for you. I believe that this serves as an illustration of exactly how much some people are being distracted from the issues at hand. All people surviving domestic abuse, assault, and violence deserve help. No one deserves to live in fear: man, woman, child, citizen, non-citizen, cis or trans, disabled or TAB. This is about human rights, and and what we do about it will show who we are as a country.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Day Without

I was not going to write today. Today is a day without. If you are on any kind of regular medication, you know what that means. If you are on pain medication, you know exactly what I mean. I am managing: keeping as busy as I can, my mind as off of it as is possible, and simply riding it out when those fail. 

We filed taxes today, which meant talking to a stranger about being officially disabled. And of course, because I look the way I do, I get the look - of just enough socially acceptable disbelief without out and out accusing me of fraud. And I just sat there, paralyzed by all the available options of anger and ranting and pontificating stretching out before me, knowing I could touch none of them if I wanted my taxes done today. And the moment passed as quickly as it came, with no acknowledgement that it had even occurred.

Hell if pain meds are not a double edged sword. Without them, I am more alert, more bright, more capable of feeling. But with that comes not - because the thing I am most alert to, feeling the most, is pain. And not a practical, productive pain - no, a lingering, heavy, valueless pain. We put up with, even court, pain for certain reasons: athletic excellence, child birth, rights of passage. There is pain for good reason.

Chronic pain is a different animal. It eats at your psyche, even when you have it "controlled." Even then, it is a specter waiting to lash out at you the moment you forget to take your meds on schedule or, in this case, go without for a simple, single day. You are, now and forever, at the mercy of any number of factors with infinite ways of going wrong. And they do go wrong. All the time. So the only time you feel truly safe is when you have them in hand, and only until you can see the bottom of the bottle. Then this dance starts all over again: see the doc if it is that time, make sure they still feel you need what you know you need, useless insulting questions about  if you are selling your Rx, then if you get through that it is off to the pharmacy, and it has it's own little dance.

The day moves both far too slow and far too fast. It feels like swimming though rapidly hardening cement that has somehow caught an icy fire. It is an amazing sensation to move through it, but if feels as though if you stop moving you will drown in it all. But everything around you is somehow unaffected by this miasma and keeps running at normal speed... A speed completely inaccessible to you without amounts of pain the world around you could never understand. So you save that capacity for something important, like kids that need to go to the hospital or things like that. Otherwise, you muddle through, catching bits and pieces around you. What was that guy saying? You have no idea - you were trying to figure out if that pain in your back was coming from your kidneys or your sciatica. Because latter is just fucking with you, the former means you should grab your hospital bag.

So today is just a day. Today is one of those days. Tomorrow will be better, all happening as foreseen. But now you have knowledge of one of my days, one of those days. A day without.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

News Of the Day 9 Feb 2012

Here are some quick news hits for you, courtesy of my various feeds, e-mails and web wanderings!

Thank - the Prop 8 Couple and congratulate them at this happy time!

Planned Parenthood Saved Me - People tell their stories of how PP impacted or even saved their lives.

Uganda Gay Death Penalty Bill Back on Table - This bill is back from 2009 and again in 2010. I swear it seems like they are waiting for the first opportunity when the world is not watching...

PSA - How to Be a Good Ally - done with solid information and a good bit of humor.

Social Security Appeals Reached New Record in 2011 - remember to appeal if your SSDI claim is denied!

HBO to Air New Film Tackling Disability Caregiving - I will not focus much on caregivers here, but this looks interesting. I will catch it if I remember!

Miss Deaf America Upset to be Unseen at Superbowl - really people? Did they not understand that she uses a visual style of communication and needs to be seen? Really?!? Petition can be found at the link.

CNN - Fire Roland Martin - Martin made a homophobic crack during the Superbowl, but claimed it was just about... soccer? Petition available if you think differently.

Get Involved - at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Extend the Unemployment Lifeline - automatic letters courtesy the SEIU.

Find out - if your Senators and Representatives support the "Buffett Rule."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Koman Ditches Planned Parenthood Abandons Poor Women

For those of you that do not know me, I think Planned Parenthood is awesome. But a lot of people out there do not share that opinion. They think that since a tiny portion of what Planned Parenthood does is related to helping women that need legal abortions, that PP should be burned to the ground and the fire victims left unmourned. I think those assholes should go to whatever hell they believe in, and let the rest of us live our lives as we see fit.

Recently, these wicked forces have been pressuring the Susan G. Koman for the Cure Foundation. NPR breaks some of it down here. The Washington Post has some news here. Now, many have valid issues with the Koman Foundation, and  we are not going to debate those here and now. But overall, what they are doing is a Good Thing (TM). Until now. Now they are leaving poor and rural and black and brown women to fend for themselves else they face the PR Monster of the Forced Birth advocates. (No, I will not call them "pro life" because they only care about control of the uterus, not promoting life.)

Apparently some of this mess originates with Karen Handel, Forced Birth Advocate and Governor of Georgia. Slate has a take from Amanda Marcotte here, with a good run down on why some people have problems with some of Koman Foundation's practices. Jezebel theorizes that Handel, part of Korman's staff now, had much to do with putting a new rule on the books to easily eliminate the funding going from Korman to Planned Parenthood. The thing is, Koman added a clause to their eligibility requirements that includes not being under investigation by any state or federal agency. This gives the Birth At Any and All Costs Advocates an easy in - they do not even have to prove wronging, they just need to keep up continuous investigations. How convenient. For them.

Donate to Planned Parenthood. It is almost tax time, please find a spare $20 to help a life, maybe help save some.