Want a Raise? Wash Your Vulva, Dammit! (Part 1)

Male friend trident5 kicked a DemocraticUnderground link my way with the comment, "I am wholly unqualified to offer an opinion on this."  Kowing him, I was expecting to find something nerdy/political  and bizarre enough that he, one of my Nerd Flock, would be dumbfounded.

Moments after clicking the link, my curiosity turned the corner of Geek Avenue and sped down Outrage Lane. 

What trident5 sent me was a link to a scan of a recent Women's Day full-page advertisement for a Summer's Eve product. At first glance, the model is a modernly-dressed woman, so it's clear that this is not a retro ad copy.

Click the ad to see the full-sized version. The text is difficult to read, so I replicated it immediately below the ad.  Prepare for your own personal Two Minutes of Hate:

Click the ad to see the full-sized version

Confidence at Work:
How to Ask for a Raise 
  1. It should start with your usual routine and all the things you do to feel your best, including showering with Summer's Eve Feminine Wash or throwing a packet of Summer's Eve Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day.
  2. Just as important: Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast.
  3. Leave early. You don't want to be late on a day when someone will be thinking about your performance.
  4. Go over your calendar for the past year, look through old files and emails. Jot down a list of all your important contributions and accomplishments.
  5. Bring quotes from higher-ups to the meeting, such as "Great job on the XXX project!  You made me look good."
  6. Don't be afraid of silence. Effective negotiation requires using strategic pauses.  These valuable moments allow your points to resonate and give you time to gather your thoughts.
  7. Don't let the conversation stray or get personal.
  8. Focus on the things you've done to improve the bottom line. Today, it's about your worth to the company.
Feel your most confident every day
Whether you're at work or at play, staying fresh isn't always simple.  Designed for daily use,  Summer's Eve Feminine Wash and Feminine Cleansing Cloths help you feel clean and confident from the beginnning of your day to the end.
How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways.  Which I will do in a later post after I manage to reclaim my brain.

Feel free to comment or submit your impressions before I make my second post.


This Week's WTF Moment

The designer couldn't have called this "Rooster Block Necklace"? 

Has the designer's mother seen this? ;-)

Original listing here, additional product listings here, designer's website here.


More on the Elderly Indian IVF Trend

In a recent post, we discussed the cultural components involved in the developing Indian trend of financially middle- and upper-class elderly women giving birth through IVF.  I ended that post with the statement "I honestly can't imagine living in such a culture. "

I've read a few things since that only intensify my revulsion.

The life expectancy of a child born in India in 2008 is <64 years.  The life expectancy for a child born in the entire world in 2008 is <70 years.  Further manipulation of the page will show that all of the Western European countries life expectancy for a child born in 2008 range from 78 to 82.

In the manipulated chart, as shown below, the bottom line is India, the next line up is the entire world, and the rest are the clustering of the Western European nations.

In a country so overcrowded and slum-filled that large swaths of urbanites don't have clean water or electricity, with such under-developed infrustructure that people sit in traffic for four hours one way, with a birthrate (22.22/1000 vs. the US' 14/1000 in 2008) and infant mortality rate (currently 52/1000 vs the US' 7/1000) so high that poor couples are being paid to delay childbirth and train-rage incidents involve tossing two year olds to their deaths, a dowry expectation that is such a crippling expense that a female child is considered an insufferable burden, and a strict social (but illegal) caste system that, for the most part, prevents social and financial mobility . . .

How have the women in this society not risen up en masse against the pressures to selectively abort female fetuses and to continue bearing children into their dotage, whatever the means, because of the need for male heirs? 

I used to think that India was a civilized democracy.  I'm no so sure about the "civilized" part anymore.


My Favorite Books: "1984"

In the continuing series of Riot.Jane's favorite books . . . In no particular order, this is the second:
1984 by George Orwell
Written during the Second World War and on its a face a treatise regarding the totalitarian regime that would would befall England should it lose the war, the author has since advised that this interpretation is only a partial interpretation:
My recent novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter), but as a show-up of the perversions . . . which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. . . . The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else, and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere. *

The alternative European culture that Orwell envisions, complete with omnipresent (and none-too-subtle) government surveillance, psychological mind control through formal language alteration, changes in history through document destruction and alteration, and the subornation of the individual to the masses is not markedly different to the undercurrents that Western society faces today.


Meeting Hattie RetroAge: Cougar Extroardinaire

I watched an episode of TLC series {Strange}SEX for the very first time last week.  The particular episode I saw was about "cougars", or older women who date younger men (the show defined it specifically as women aged 40+ who pursue men at least 8 years their junior).

Hattie RetroAge

In this episode, viewers get to know 73 year old Hattie RetroAge, a woman who lives, loves, laughs, and has sex freely.  She's a divorced mother who, upon her divorce in her late 40s, picked her life up from the point in her early 20s at which she married.  She posts completely accurate internet personals and receives 30-50 responses whenever she does.  w00t!

There are more men out there wanting to date older women than I thought. Since she's long past the stage of wanting a wedding ring and children, she's a great prospect to men who are avoiding that type of situation. Add to this that she was a professional dancer and has remained active and in excellent shape, and the Hattie picture becomes more clear. w00t!

In the episode I watched, we get to know Hattie, her adult son, and 33 year old Ron. By the end of the episode, Hattie and Ron will have gone on their first date together. The date seemed to go well; they seemed to hit it off, and the viewer is left with the thought that they will see each other again. w00t!

I'm normally not into "reality tv," but this series seems to be done in a documentary style that wasn't nearly as prurient as the topic matter would indicate. I realized that Hattie would make a wonderful addition to TJP, so I Googled her, found her e-mail address, and sent her an e-mail in which I praised her for being true to herself, introduced TJP, and asked her to consider reading and/or contributing.

Hattie's response arrived overnight:
It was an honor to receive your lavish praise, thank you.

It is as shocking to me as it may be for others to view a women in her 70's, without surgery or shots or hormone replacement, emerge as a sex object! To understand how this happened I reviewed my past involvements: In the 60's I wrote the first Organic Certification Form in America! So individual respendent health has been my focus for decades. Add to that my years as a dance teacher to pre-schoolers. They imparted a spirit that is implanted in my marrow. And...I love expressing love. (often referred to as sex!)
At this point I am involved in creating a paying career to carry me thorugh the next 20 years! I had been working as a healer, however my body developed fibromyalgia and arthritis, so I had to re-create a life as a writer/speaker on exquisite aging. ... The career of my choice is to be a newscaster with a regular spot to discuss issues of aging. If you have any contacts that could help me achieve this, I would be infinitely grateful.

Keep it up, dear Jane,

http://www.bestcruisesandtravelnow.com/ (sponsoring my THE EMPOWERED WOMAN CRUISE in January)
Hattie has already published three books available on Amazon and has agreed to contribute some of her previous and future work to TJP.  If any of you have any contacts for Hattie, please comment!

I can't wait to see Hattie's work!


Mummified Babies Could be Linked to "Peter Pan" Author

On August 17, two women cleaning a storage area in a once-grand 1920s-era Los Angeles apartment building made a surprising discovery: two leather satchels that each contained the mumified remains of a human baby.

The remains were wrapped in 1933 and 1935 newspapers and then placed in the the leather satchels (of the type that physicians once carried).  The leather satchels were found in an unclaimed wooden trunk bearing the monogram "JMB" that had been stored in the building for decades.

To the discoverers, one appeared to be premature, and the other appeared to be a normal newborn.  The assistant coroner referred to the remains as fetuses. 

Also in the trunk were personal effects relating to a woman named Jean M. Barrie, including a ticket stub from the 1932 Olympics (held in LA), a copy of "Peter Pan," and a membership certificate for the Peter Pan Woodland Club, an upscale woodland resort destination. 

The "Peter Pan" references are intriguing because a close female relative of Scottish novelist and playwright James M. Barrie, author of "Peter Pan," bore the name Jean M. Barrie. This female Barrie is known to have lived on the East Coast and in the Midwest, but her presence on the West Coast is currently unknown.

Alternately, local LA records indicate that two nurses, Jean M. Barrie and Janet M. Barrie, lived local to the apartment building (where the trunk was discovered) in the 1930s.  Whether or not these two Barries were the same woman is unclear.

Forensic work will determine the age, gender, cause of death, and genetic profile of each baby/fetus, and the LA Police intend to investigate fully. 

Facts pulled and more available from: Newser, NY Daily News, LA Times, and MSNBC

Maybe it's just the part of me that insists upon trying to think the best of people, but I have this picture in my mind of a woman who miscarried but couldn't bring herself to part with the remains.  In such a case, with "Peter Pan" being so popular, of course such a woman would be interested in keeping the place where children live forever close to her mind and close to her babies.  Whether or not she's related to the author isn't actually important to my mental picture.

Unless, of course, a definitive connection to James M. Barrie is made, because that would place a literary classic into a whole new light.


The Great Thumbtack Experiment

I recently heard about the concept of collective wisdom on a back episode of the Best of the Left podcast (sorry, I don't remember which episode, but I think it was from earlier this summer).  In short, Jay Tomlinson (the podcast host) told us about a study in which the collective wisdom concept was proven to work in a specific, concrete type of situation. 

According the the study (which I can't find), if you present a random sampling of people a concrete item upon which to guess, something to which they could not possibly know the actual answer . . . Their answers will be wildly divergent but, as a group, they will provide the correct answer.

We all know that if I present a sealed jar of jellybeans to a group and ask them to guess how many jellybeans are in the jar, the guesses will be wildly different.  The study indicates that if all of those wildly divergent answers are averaged, the average will be spot-on. 

I was dubious and tempted to blow it off, but I realized I could replicate the experiment.  So I did, on a small scale.

I placed three random handfuls of thumbtacks into a clear box and sealed the box.  I made sure that I had no idea how many thumbtacks were in the box so that I could not bias the sample.  I then walked around for two days handing the box to everyone I ran into, asking them to guess how many thumbtacks were in the box.  I recorded the answers, but I didn't let anyone see those answers until after their guess was made and recorded.  I had the fortune of working in two different offices those two days, so I in actuality had two small samples.

First Sample Guesses:

Second Sample Guesses:

Combined Sample Guesses:

First Sample Average: 120
Second Sample Average: 90
Combined Sample Average: 104
Actual Total Thumbtacks: 110

So, the results of my independent experiment correlate with the study.  The margin of error is actually smaller for the larger group than for the two smaller groups, and, as you can see, is much smaller than the high guess of 500 and the low guess of 40.  When the high guesser told me his guess, I kicked him and told him to give me a real guess.  He insisted that 500 was his real guess.

My lesson?  Collective wisdom works best when there's a jackass in the crowd.  :-)


My Favorite Books: "Fahrenheit 451"

In no particular order over the next week or so, I will be sharing details of my five favorite books.

In no particular order, this is the first:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Written in the early years of the Cold War and on its a face a treatise regarding the repercussions of state-sponsored censorship, the author has since advised that this interpretation in incorrect in being the only interpretation:
Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most famous literary work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. ... Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature. *

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority ... feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse ... Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever. *
In this alternative American future, the "Firemen" the book centers on are actually the government employees tasked with burning "illegal" books after their possessors are, at the very least, incarcerated in mental hospitals.  The anti-intellectual, hedonistic, lawless, and reality-tv obsessed culture that Bradbury envisioned in this 1953 book isn't far off of what we see today.


"Google Suggest" Acknowledges Domestic Abuse

The graphic speaks for itself.


World-Wide Map of TJP Visitors

We just checked our web stats and dug around in the minutia of the provided information to find this map of recent TJP visitors!

Knowing that our audience is spreading out through much of the English-speaking world is extremely exciting!  We're hoping that you, the Ladies Jane, find value in TJP and continue to spread the word far and wide!


Homeland Security, TSA, and the Police State

It's Official: "TSA" = "Totally Stupid Assholes"

Kathy Parker, 43

The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Safety Administration (a/k/a "TSA") has reached a new low.  Kathy Parker, 43, alleges that TSA personnel illegally invaded her privacy during a preflight security screening at Philadelphia International (PHI) on August 8.

Parker says the TSA screener/s removed retail receipts and other papers from her wallet and read them (while telling her they were looking for razor blades), needlessly embarrassed her by removing and openly displaying prescription medications from her handbag, and then, after "inspecting" negotiable instruments (i.e. checks) that were also in her wallet, conferred with on-hand Philadelphia police. One of the officers then attempted to confiscate said checks without process or paperwork, telling her that he suspected her of embezzlement.  When she protested, she says he told her "It's not your money." *

According to Parker, she was only allowed to collect her belongings and board the plane after half an hour of humiliation and interrogation because she eventually handed over her husband of 20 years' cell number and authorities called him regarding the possibility of Parker attempting to "empty their bank account" due to "a divorce situation."  *

Even though Parker's husband missed the call, the police eventually allowed her to board the plane.  *

According to a Philadelphia police spokesman, the officer was suspicious because the checks Parker carried were "almost sequential" and he was simply trying "to make sure there was nothing fraudulent."  The spokesman added, "They were wondering what the story was. The officer got it cleared up." *

This statement downplays the control issues evident in Parker's version, in which the Philadelphia police officer admonished her that, when she questioned him about whether or not she actually had to explain herself or her checks, his response was, "If you don't tell me, you can tell the D.A."

So a call to her husband sufficed?  A call that Parker's husband didn't even answer?

To be fair, if one can call it that, a TSA spokeswoman said that the explanation for Parker's experience is that, with specifics undefined, a behavioral detection officer noticed her, and she acted "as if she feared discovery." *

Behavioral profiling is a tricky area, one which is too large to fully address here.  Suffice it to say that Nature all but tells us that science's perspective is that behavioral screening's effectiveness is no better than chance:
[A] growing number of researchers are dubious ­ not just about the projects themselves, but about the science on which they are based. "Simply put, people (including professional lie-catchers with extensive experience of assessing veracity) would achieve similar hit rates if they flipped a coin," noted a 2007 report from a committee of credibility-assessment experts who reviewed research on portal screening. *
Add that security expert/technologist/author (and previous TSA advisor) Bruce Schneier's opinion that "It seems pretty clear that the program only catches criminals, and no terrorists," and the Parker fiasco doesn't seem so far-fetched.  *

Compare Nature and Schneier's academic takes with the contents of thus 60 Minutes interview (at the end of this post) with Kip Hawley (TSA head from July 2005 to January 2009) in which he says that these behavior officers can tell the difference between "normal" people who are tense and anxious because they're late for their flight and someone carrying a bomb.  Schneier responds, "There's not a lot of truth in that, but they'd love it if you reported it because, in all seriousness, we are safer if the bad guys believe we've got this piece of magic."  Magic is a great word for something that gives no better hit rate than chance.  Security Theater is another. 

(Note: The video itself, while interesting, is not particularly germane to the discussion at hand -- The important points are covered in this post.)

According to the 60 Minutes video, the TSA spends $160,000,000 of our tax money on more than 2000  behavior detection officers who anonymously roam security checkpoints analyzing micro-facial expressions looking for nervousness and anxiety that are indicative of terrorist intentions versus simple travel woe.  The TSA wouldn't tell 60 Minutes if any of the 180,000 passengers stopped for an interview have turned out to be a terrorist, but Congressional sources told CBS that none had. (Worse than coin-flipping?  Way to go, TSA!  Only you could screw up such a sure thing.)

Also according to the 60 Minutes video, the TSA is spending another $35,000,000 of our tax money to send every one of its 50,000 screeners back to "screener school" for retraining in how to treat the flying public who is consistently enraged, flustered, anxious, and resentful of what  it interprets to be an inane and insane travel mess.  I'm not sure who thought that re-training was a better idea than, maybe, going back to the drawing board and designing procedures that respect the human dignity of the flying public, but I'd sure like to give him/her a piece of my mind.

Another sore spot with the flying public are the full-body image scanners.  When the 60 Minutes correspondent, looking at the airport scanning images, asks "What happens to this image now? Is that stored anywhere?" Hawley replies "No, it's destroyed as soon as the next one comes.  The machines are not capable of storing images."

Per a letter written by TSA Acting Administer Gale D. Rossides to the Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Hawley's statement on storing images is not true.

Rossides' letter advises that the machines the TSAscreeners "operating in the airport environment have neither the technical capability nor the authority to change the AIT [scanner] into test mode."  Additionally, "Any changes to privacy settings on individual machines can only be made by the 'Z' [level] users."  As of February, 2010, there are 45 Z-level users, including both Federal employees and government contractors. 

So, the TSA purchases the machines with the ability to save and transmit pictures, but they only use said functionality in testing and have said functionality disabled prior to airport delivery, banking on operator ignorance to keep that functionality disabled.  If the Diebold voting machine hacking fiasco has taught us anything, it's that any functionality present but blocked can, and will, eventually be enabled. 

Factor in the TSA's introduction of new police-style uniforms to give the screeners a more authoritative look (even though Washington D.C.-area screener Ladonta Edwards claims, "We're not out there to be fake security guards") -- also from the 60 Minutes video, and a creepy police state vibe develops.  

Back to Kathy Parker.  First it was razor blades that would've been seen on x-ray.  Then embezzlement.  Then theft from her husband.  An admission from the TSA that one of the anonymous behavior detectors was involved.  This sounds to me a whole lot like that behavioral detector detector locked onto Parker for reasons never to be known to her or the public, and that regardless of what was (or, in this case, wasn't) discovered bore no consequence.  I think what freaks me out the most about this was that, if I had been Parker, I surely would have lost my temper.  I would then probably have been arrested, booked, and detained while my husband, in another state, attempted to obtain my release. 

That kind of power, in the hands of one person, without clear guidelines and due process, keeps me awake at night.  I simply cannot reconcile this with the liberty and security in our persons and papers and that we've been led to believe are Constitutional guarantees.  This is not the first time the TSA has trampled on personal liberty and human dignity, but working through the fear caused by the ever-increasing loss of liberty is all the more difficult when trying to quell my outrage at the sexism in the Parker case.  

The law applies to all citizens equally, and someone needs to find the screeners and Philadelphia police officer involved in the Parker case and remind them all that women, even married women God forbid, are allowed to own and possess items of value separate from the influence or presence of a spouse.  They need to be reminded that women, married or not, accompanied by said spouse or not, are as equally guaranteed security in their persons and papers as any man.  My unmitigated rage at the indignity thrust upon Parker, of knowing this last would not have occurred to her had she been in the company of her husband, is awe-inspiring.
Jack-Boot Recipe
Start with one part hokum behavioral screening
Add one abused security screener
Mix well
Add a generous lie about storing intimate pictures
Fold in mission creep
Add a dash of sexism/racism/classism, per abused screener preference
Toss with a generous helping of interrogation and humiliation
Stew until bitter, approximately one hour in a screening line
Serve on a plate paid for by your tax money

Caution: This recipe has not been tested in those with sensitive stomachs, rage disorders, or the intellectually libertarian due to the possibly volcanic reactions that could ensue.


60 Minutes Report on the TSA:

In Celebration of Nerdy Girls who Love Sci-Fi

I squealed with joy several times while watching this lovely geek rock video for the first time! 

Even though I'm fully versed in the nerdy-girl "type" (hell, to one extent or another *I* am a she-nerd), never did I think that I would ever come across a geek rock video celebrating the second-nerdiest of all interests: Ray Bradbury.  (The First Place of nerdy pursuits must, by all accounts, be role-playing games, in which I am also fairly well versed.)

So, to celebrate the man's 90th birthday (August 22, 1920), I'm sharing this lovely Andrea James tribute to Ray Bradbury (NSFW: language) . . . F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury

(You know, "the greatest sci-fi writer in history"?)

Even though I don't consider Bradbury to be "the greatest sci-fi writer in history," he did write one of my five favorite books of all time (that being Fahrenheit 451), so the man does invoke mondo props from me even if I think Arthur C. Clarke possesses more writing skill or I prefer Kurt Vonnegut's actual stories.

About the video, I can't decide which amuses me more: the unabashed expression of James' combined she-nerdiness/sexuality, or the parody of traditional cock rock.  Whichever appeals to me most, the fact of the matter is that she's reclaiming traditionally male provinces and making them her own.  By doing so, she's helping to liberate us all. 

Additionally, the video is a delicous and refreshing whif of fandom at its very best. What's not to love for a nerdy-girl like me?


Indian Woman, 70, Gives Birth via IVF

The Washington Post brings us news of a growing trend in India: Elderly women birthing IVF children.  One woman, Rajo Devi Lohan, recently gave birth through IVF in her 70s.
In the past 18 months, the doctors at this [single rural] clinic have helped 100 women older than 50 become pregnant. About 60 were able to carry those pregnancies to full term. Some of the women received eggs donated by younger relatives. Their husbands' sperm was used to fertilize the eggs in a lab, and the embryos were then inserted into the women's wombs.
Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, and Naveen, 18 months
(photo by Emily Wax/the Washington Post)

Not everyone is excited about the IVF trend. 
With 1.2 billion people, India is still growing rapidly, and there are few efforts to control population growth, in sharp contrast to China's one-child policy. Some planning advocates argue that India's population is stalling development, adding to unemployment, and overwhelming roads, schools, water supplies and other basic infrastructure needs.
Cultural components, though, will likely make curbing population growth difficult.
"The women come to us and say, 'Even if I die, at least I won't face the stigma of being barren,' " said Anurag Bishnoi, the center's lead IVF specialist. "These women are like soldiers:, They are on the front lines for their family, their country. They may die, but their family and country will live."
Not only is childbearing itself important, the pressure to have a male heir is crushing.
More than 40 years ago, Rohtash gave birth to five daughters and one son. But seven years ago, her son died in a car accident. Now she wants to try again for a male heir, a powerful cultural preference in India that many population experts say contributes to women having babies until a son is born.  "The risk for a son and a balanced family is my destiny," she said. "I consider this place to be God."
The cultural imperatives are enabled by the relatively low cost of IVF procedures.
One IVF attempt at this clinic costs about $2,500, while in the United States it can run up to $15,000. Although the fees in India are high for middle-class families earning a typical $15,000 to $20,000 a year, they are often able to get money from relatives or a bank loan. Rohtash's family of farmers did both.  
I honestly can't imagine living in such a culture. 


Urban Outfitters Sells Pro-Anorexia T-Shirt

Urban Outfitters T-Shirt
Even I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction to the Urban Outfitters "Eat Less" t-shirt. 

Just seeing it nauseates me, and I'm the girl with a collection of intentionally-offensive t-shirts. 

I saw the shirt and this write-up two months ago, and it still makes me insensible to the point that I can't even coherently write about it.

Regardless of what Urban Outfitters says about this product or the public reaction to it, the fact that the filename includes the word "anoreixic" indicates someone, somewhere in their organization understood the message. The photographer certainly did -- Yet another listless, starving model in clothes that make her look even younger and sicker than she probably is.

I've dug around, and I can't find a response from Urban Outfitters even at this late date.  All I can find is that they've pulled the shirt from their online store but not from their stores.

Since I'm beginning to Taz out again just thinking about it, I'll just share it with you, hoping to provoke conversation.

Am I just hyper-sensitive, or is this thing really as sick as I think it is?


Fighting for Medical Care the Hard Way

OMG, do squabbles with the health insurance company never cease?  How about fighting multiple health issues at once?

My History

I have moderate obstructive sleep apnea.   (OSA). "Moderate" refers only to my pressure setting (8.5), not the frequency of my sleep arousals. My arousals are, on average, every couple of minutes. By partner and personal observation, I know that they begin occurring at the transition between Stage 1 and Stage 2 sleep, and they are constant. Hence, I have no REM unless I'm so deprived that it starts in an earlier sleep phase. In fact, during a sleep atudy, I didn't go into REM until approximately 6:00 am!

My sleep arousals still occur wih BIPAP therapy, although I am supposedly properly treated (and 100% compliant) with BIPAP therapy. Tarousals are less frequent with BIPAP therapy (by partner and personal observation, on average, every five minutes). I still have serverely-delayed onset REM. I am still exhausted all the time.

Here's my total picture: moderately severe constantly disordered breathing, delayed-onset REM, parasomnia (speaking and teeth clenching severe enough that I've bitten through my orthodontic retainer), periodic limb movements, and long-sleeper syndrome.

Since sleep is a life-long issue and the "roto-rooter" surgery (uvula/adenoid/tonsil removal) has a pathetically low long-term success rate, my sleep specialist and I are pursuing the last option we can find . . .

God, but to be properly slept, properly REMed. --sigh--

September 2009

My sleep specialist "refers" me to an oral surgeon for the creation of a custom oral appliance that will hold my jaw in the proper place for my BIPAP to be most effective. This is the oral appliance that this oral surgeon invented, perfected, and of which he performed an NIH-funded field study. Note that this "referral" is on a PPO plan, so it's not an HMO-type referral, just a "go to this guy and get this item" referral. I leave the office without the referral info. No big, just fax the office and get it, right?

No joy. I call and leave messages for his nurse again and again. Maybe I'm not making what I need clear on voicmail. I ask the receptionist for the doctor's fax number. I fax, again and again, addressed sometimes to the nurse, sometimes to the doctor himself. I call again and again, saying what I need over and over, to anone who answers, but no one can tell me. His nurse isn't there or she's with patients. He of course doesn't take calls from patients any more than any other doctor. Months drag by. I just don't understand this, I've never had this much trouble with his office before. I keep trying.

I get busy at work. I am, as usual, criminally sleep-deprived and only barely able to maintain sanity with stimulants and an anti-anxiety prescription. I keep poking, faxing, calling, letting it ride, poking, faxing, calling. The holidays come. I'm pulling my hair out. By luck, an assistant eventually answers. She knows what I need. Apparently the size of the medical organization (something like 10 offices across town, hundreds of physicians, this thing is something between a hospital and a single-doctor practice) my sleep specialist is employed by led me to getting the wrong fax number, the wrong nurse's name, and calling the wrong location.

After a couple of weeks of chasing the doctor down, she gets him to decide for sure on the referral and then she gets me the referral info I need (name/address/telephone).

January 2010

I research the oral surgeon. I am impressed. I set an initial consultation.

The oral surgeon practices part-time out of another full-time dentist's office. Best I can tell, the setup is kind of like renting a chair in a beauty salon. I visit, he examines me, discusses my history, and is confident that his oral appliance can help me. He shows me a model one, explains how it works, explains why he thinks it will work, tells me about past case histories similar to mine and the results his appliance has achieved with them, and it all makes total sense to me. OMG, am I totally psyched!! Someone who believes me, someone convinced he can help me! As a 70+ year-old man practicing part time, he does this for the help it gives people. Yay!

He tells me that the PPO plan I have usually pays really well, that my dental plan, another company, does not. He warns me that he's only recently re-done his paperwork for my PPO, that he has come back from sabbatical to find out he had fallen off their rolls. There might be a "delay" while the paperwork goes through. The cost is $2.6K, complete.

February-March 2010

Week after week, I call the dentist's office back about benefits verification. The insurance girl can't tell me anything except that the PPO doesn't acknowledge the oral surgeon, that they won't cover anything, and that my out-of-network deductible is $2K. That my dental won't cover anything (yeah, that policy pays crap). Week after week, no additional info. I keep calling her, telling her what he told me about having completed his PPO paperwork, that they should pay. She doesn't care and/or is too incompetent to accomplish anything, or maybe both. I talk to others when they answer, and I keep getting referred back to her. I write detailed emails to the oral surgeon. No response, of course, doctors and dentists don't email with patients. I just want him to be aware, hoping maybe he will help from his side.

I eventually become agressive with the insurance girl, "Insurance is your JOB. What is the PROBLEM here?" and she snaps back, "We're a DENTAL office. It's not like we do MEDICAL insurance EVERY DAY, you know!" I remind her what the oral surgeon said about filing under the medical insurance, that it was HIS instruction, not mine, and that the PPO pays really well. She responds, "Well, I don't know WHY he told you that, we don't even DO that!" She made it clear she was done dealing with me unless and until *I* could get the PPO to put it in my file so that she can verify that the procedure codes are covered.

I call the PPO, they show him as a dentist on the dental version of their plan (which is not the dental plan I have). I call her and tell her this. Her response is, in effect, "So?" She gives me the medical codes and tells ME to get them approved in a way she can verify. "Maybe they'll work with YOU. They won't work with US." This, even though she still can't tell me anything, at all, that they've told her except the fact that it's going to come out of my pocket, and there's nothing she or I can do about it. I write another detailed e-mail to the oral surgeon, hoping he can help from his side.

I wait.

April 2010

I've received no response from the oral surgeon (as expected), and also no call from the insurance girl (as I'd hoped). She's intimidated me with the insurance and the practice for which she works. I realize that this is just done. I cough up $2.6K or remain sleep and REM-deprived forever. Who has that kind of money on hand? I sink into digusted resignation. Maybe he'll give me a cash discount? Or maybe that insufferable woman will say, "We don't DO that!" again when I ask. Try to save money? Yeah, that's likely.

May - June 2010

Joe keeps pestering me about this oral appliance, and I keep putting him off. Things are tough at work, and balancing foot problems, GI issues, recurrent unexplained staph skin infections, and anxiety (along with the sleep deprivation), I already miss work more that I should. Visiting my boyfriend in another city (where he lives, a 5-hour drive one-way), I miss even more, son when I'm at work, I'm both tired and have a full workload. When I come home, I'm brain dead. I research the medical codes, then realize that I can't face fighting the PPO on this. I can't admit this to my boyfriend because I'm ashamed of the intimidation, resignation, and depression. I later come into a bit of unexpected cash as the result of a class-action lawsuit against a former employer. I begin trying to decide if I should go ahead and do this $2.6K out of pocket, because the settlement will cover it.

July 2010

Still trying to decide if I'm going to pay out of pocket, I begin to lean towards "God works in mysterious ways," but then something in me roars in defiance at the injustice of the annual $8-10K PPO gets in insurance premiums for my policy while not paying for the oral appliance that I need to make my life support device as effective as it should be.

I call PPO customer service. I explain the situation, and I give them the medical codes. All but one is covered. The other requires a Predetermination Request filed (then approved by the PPO) by the physician making the diagnosis before it will be covered.

("Covered" = In-Network paid at 80% after $400 deductible, Out-of-Network paid at ?% after $2K deductible)

Also, in order to have the PPO cover the services at the In-Network (i.e. 80%) rate, I have to escalate an Out Of Network Referral Request via a differet PPO group. This will be assigned to a nurse (a NURSE, omg!) for approval/denial. There is no possibility of after-the-fact negotiation with the PPO on this -- If I don't have this approved before services are rendered, they will not pay anything. I was warned that because there ARE other oral surgeons in my area, this will be a difficult approval to obtain.

While on the telephone with them, I made sure the PPO customer service was very clear on who needs to complete the Predetermination Request form, that the diagnosing physician will not be the provider of services. She insisted that the diagnosing physician should complete it. I download the Predetermination Request and it seems to say that the provider of services has to complete it. The form also says that approval is no guarantee of payment.

So, I talk to the assistant at the sleep specialist's office to obtain the OSA diagnosis code, complete most of the Predetermination Request form, and fax it to the sleep specialist's assistant for her to chase and complete. I talk to the insurance girl at the oral surgeon's office and also fax her a mostly-completed Predetermination Request form. On both cover sheets, I ask them to fax the completed forms and required supporting documentation to ME, that I will send them to the PPO and keep a copy since I have to drive this. The insurance girl said on the telephone she won't be doing anything until the oral surgeon returns to the office next week.

I hate that useless woman.

So, here I am, chasing the completion/approval of Predetermination Requests for both a diagnoser and a provider for an oral appliance that is currently not covered at all, only to have to then chase an escalation for approval of an Out of Network Referral Request that a nurse will decide upon, hoping that a random nurse understands the meshing of the medical and the dental a hell of a lot better than the insurance bimbo in the oral surgeon's office.

If both items are approved, I pay $520 for the appliance (20% of total since my deductible is already met). If not, I have a $2K out-of-network deductible + 20% of the remaining $600, for a total of $2,120.

What a *(&^%# nightmare.


Owning vs Emphasizing Your Feminity

On her AuntMoxie blog, Mary Michael Townsend recently wrote about the motivation behind her decision to begin a mini-revamp on her personal image.  While I tend to respond to such discussions with a "Meh" (I am just not a clothes and make-up kinda girl), the first words caught my eye:
Despite knowing I'll get ripped for sounding sexist, I'll say it: I think a lot of single women would probably feel more empowered over their dating lives if they'd own their femininity rather than shove it in their work suits. 
Okay, Mary, I dare you to tell me more about "owning my own femininity" without sounding sexist.
It hit me the other day while on a Southwest Airlines flight on which the flight attendant females walked the aisles in golf shirts, Dickie's work pants, and something akin to truckers' shoes. They looked like they should be directing planes on the Tarmac; not serving sodas. What happened to the days of the tall boots and mini skirts? It was so much more... well... feminine. (Yeah, I know. It's a dirty word to some women, but I have no problem with it. Women and men alike enjoy looking at attractive women. Tall boots? Short Skirts? Just throw in some tights, and I'll put them on now!)
But the sight of these women was just another reminder to get on the stick with something I've been wanting to do for a few weeks now: a mini-image revamp. Unlike the direction that Southwest is headed, I'm going full-throttle feminine. Not boobs-in-the-face, crack-showing, "hey-do-you-want-a-piece-of-this" pseudo-femininity feminine (as a lot of the teens and twenty-somethings seem to deem sexy), but old-fashioned feminine with a sophisticated, modern edge.
WHOA THERE!  Sounds to me like Mary is equating or confusing the words "owning" with "emphasizing." 

Since when are skirts and dress blouses important to "serving sodas"?  Why is a woman who isn't in heels and hose only suitable for "directing planes on the Tarmac"?  When one woman's opinion is that tall boots, tights, and miniskirts are "feminine", this woman's opinion is that tall boots, tights, and miniskirts are an affectation designed to make ourselves more visually appealing to men while forcing us to walk like prey animals.  (There's no surer way to make yourself seem like something to be protected rather than respected than to not be able to walk with a sure, strong stride at a quick clip on your own two feet.)

"[T]he direction that Southwest is headed" makes my heart sing.  Enlightened companies with non-sexist dress codes are the ones that receive my resume.  I don't want to work for a company that attracts and caters to Barbie Doll women.  I don't need to compete with the Bimbo Brigade while they ostracize me from the informal networks that create successful professional relationships.  I definitely don't do well in environments that respect physical beauty and politics more than efficiency and quality work product. 

Business Casual Attire
For the record, golf shirts (and the very similar item called polo shirts) are available in female cuts/sizes, and the two pair of Dickies "work pants" that I own look like slacks when ironed.  "Business Casual" usually includes slacks and polos.  Such attire is common today, especially in environments where employees will have to step, fetch, and perform any type of manual labor as part of their job duties (flight attendants, PC support, and inventory clerks are good examples).  People required to be on their feet for hours at a time deserve the respect and kindness of shoes that fit their feet, not feet having to fit their shoes. Activity-appropriate footwear is actually a safety and ergonomic issue.

I will spare you the rant that comes to mind because Mary's only criticizing the female flight attendants.  God save us from returning to the days of inequitable professional dress codes.  We're still fighting the equal-pay and equal-promotion battles, and retro thinking hasn't helped. 

As for the "boobs-in-the-face" and "'hey-do-you-want-a-piece-of-this'" types of emphasized femininity, these expressions are just as valid as the Mad Men image that Mary prefers or the Rosie the Riveter image that Southwest's female flight attendants invoked in her.  The last thing that women need from other women is judgment regarding their work clothes, especially when it's uniformed attire (which he vast majority of flight attendants wear).  Even if it's not a uniform, if you don't have something useful or supportive to say, would you kindly shut your mouth? 

How do you think a female flight attendant from Southwest would feel if she read this?  Are you really advocating that we should all return to impractical (and expensive!) clothes and hair, shoes that hurt our feet, and other affectations that detract from our independence and equality?  Seriously, I'm okay with you saying this is how you feel about you and your style, but not with your saying that we all should do the same.

Isn't it lovely that our culture has evolved to the point of allowing each woman to choose our her personal style?   Sure, "women and men alike enjoy looking at attractive women," especially those emphasizing (or over-emphasizing) their femininity.  The proper time and place for that is social, though, not professional.


Advice Wanted (Approval Preferred)

Why do we ask for advice, support, and guidance from our loved ones?  What are our motiviations in doing so, and what are our expectations of the feedback we will receive?  Are we seeking actual guidance, a difference in perspective, or simple support in doing what we have to do, regardless of its palatability?

In the May/June 2010 issue of Psychology Today's Editor's Note Advice Wanted (Approval Preferred) Kajia Perina discusses what we're really looking for when we ask for advice.
Advice Wanted (Approval Preferred)
What We Really Seek When We Ask for Advice

BAD ADVICE is tricky business, My favorite canards include the idea that everyone needs grad school and that it's best to ignore people who make difficult requests because they will eventually "forget" the matter (so far, recollection clocks in at 99 percent). Bad advice has a high pass-along rate, and not only as anti-advice and eye-rolling fodder. [...] 

The paradox of advice is that the more specific the directive, the more overbearing it may feel. It's one thing to tell someone, "Take the job" and another entirely to say, "Here's how to open yourself to opportunity so that you can figure out what job to take!' PT has no qualms about giving such open-ended directives in Go Ahead, Obsess! and Make Your Own Luck. But color-coded roadmaps exist only in children's board games. In the past, I most fervently sought advice in instances when I already knew what was required, but balked at doing it. Inevitably, hearing a range of opinions only blurred my instincts. Now, before I hit "send" or pick up the phone, I ask myself what I'm avoiding, I've learned not to be so quick to request or offer counsel. And when asked to weigh in, I try to take my cues from good therapists, who claim not to give explicit directives, even as they encourage the process of self-discovery.

Does it always work? Not according to my husband. Let's just say that I take the non-advice stance under advisement.
Evan Marc Katz, dating coach and author of the Ask Evan dating advice blog agrees with Perina's sentiment.  In Do You Want Advice or Do You Want Validation?, his advice to men listening to their female loved ones talk about their problems is
[T]o listen to her until she’s done, and then ASK her if she’s open to hearing his thoughts. By getting her permission after a venting session, she knows he’s fully “heard” her and that he has nothing but her interests at heart. And if she doesn’t want to hear his thoughts, then that says a lot about what she sees her friends for: blank sounding boards designed to tell her what she wants to hear, as opposed to what she needs to hear.

My experience matches the thoughts of both authors.  The line between advising and directing someone is fine and migratory . . . The differentiation can seem random and almost malicious depending upon whom the petitioner and the petitioned are, especially when differing fundamental perspectives or levels of emotional investment are present.  An Evangelical Christian and an agnostic are not likely to have the same beginning perspective on out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and the secret-crush-having best friend is likely too emotionally involved when the crush-target has romantic troubles. 

I've found the keys to effective decision-making collaboration are for each party to try to be as clear as possible with their feelings, motivations, and possible conflicts of interest as well explaining the reasons behind the questions and answers.  "I'm asking if I should take the job because I'm conflicted between professional advancement and leaving my family behind," and "I say you should consider leaving him because he makes you doubt yourself," are vastly more effective, efficient, and non-dictatorial than "Should I take the job?" and "Just leave him!"  The second versions invite room for discussion of the root issues, show respect for the other's agency, and alleviate the possibilities of "I told you so-s" and blaming bad outcomes on other people.

An even more effective method of providing advice and support is Perina's open-ended question tactic.  Even though it's difficult to master and during emotionally-charged times likely to occur only if reflexive, I have experienced good results using it the handful of times I've been able to maintain emotional distance and objectivity long enough to employ it. 

One of my greatest failures was keeping my best friend from marrying the big steaming bowl of crazy that was his girlfriend.  This chick had it all: drug dependency, self-damaging behavior, awe-inspiring co-dependency, mental issues, and a way of making my best friend feel like he was king of the world while simultaneously breathing oxygen into the embers of his own mostly-controlled chemical abuse tendencies and ever-present feelings of narcissistic grandiosity.  My firebrand tactics were clarity, animation, drama, color, and volume.  Subtlety was not on the list.  Screaming matches, thrown objects, dire predictions, tears, exhortations, threats, and violence were each a part of my escalating separation cavalcade. 

I was convinced that if he didn't leave her, their tornadic sprial could only end in one or both of them dead or in the execution chamber. All of his friends thought the same things I did, but I was the only one with the balls to say anything to him.  My desperation mounted as my attempts to convince him of the obvious failed, and my tactics grew larger, bolder, and more in-his-face.  If I could only make him understand the ultimate truth screaming in my brain, consuming my soul, he would save himself:   I know you better than you know yourself, and you are NOT yourself anymore! Bail!  I am afraid you are going to die!

Watching someone you love speed down a mountain, in slow motion, without brakes, and without fear breaks your heart.  I was willing to break his to separate them.  I was literally willing to lose him forever to save him from himself.  I loved him so much that I was willing to sacrifice our relationship on the altar of his safety.  His wellbeing was more important to me than our relationship.

God help me, I made a huge mistake for the best possible reason.

Needless to say, I went about smacking sense into his head the wrong way.  All I succeeded in doing was building an emotional Berlin Wall between us.  Trying and failing to haul the most important person in the world to me out of an abusive relationship that he couldn't see for what it was is the single most galling failure of my life.  The time came when we each realised that we couldn't handle the drama anymore: his conviction that I was trying to ruin something good in his life for reasons of jealous possession, my refusal to watch him destroy himself.  We cut off contact for a year.  I anxiously waited for word that my predictions came to pass. 

Eventually, the call came.  A after quite a bit of emotional damage, he had hauled himself out of the marriage by divorce and amputated her from his life, for which I regularly thank God.  Only after he left her did he come back to me for guidance and support in reassembling his mind, rediscovering his personality, and reorienting his life. I'm still flattered that he found his way back to me, but I'm also still disturbed that he even had to.  That I put him in the position where he had to. 

He's forgiven me, but I cannot yet forgive myself. 

When your loved ones come to you for guidance, support, and advice, provide it in a productive way.  Figure out what it is they actually need, then give it to them.  Validation, pespective, support, a target to vent, something else entirely.  Work on the techniques in advance if you can so that you can do good in this world. 

Take it from me, you'll save not only them from damage, you'll save yourself as well.


Girl, 14, Accuses Own Mother/Grandmother of Pimping Her Out

HOUSTON -- A 14 year old girl suspected of prostitution told police that her mother and grandmother forced her into the activity in order to pay the trio's living expenses.  While checking on the girl's story, Houston Police found the mother performing prostitution and the grandmother in possession of a small amount of heroin. 

The police arrested the mother Alicia Melchor, 33, and grandmother Elizabeth Buford, 55.  Both are charged with the second-degree felony of compelling prostitution, the maximum punishment for which is 20 years.  Buford is additionally charged with heroin possession.  Buford and Melchor both have extensive criminal backgrounds, including prostitution, and are currently in police custody.  The girl is not. 

Sources: Chron.com and KTRK

Underage prostitution?  Suck.  Prostitution as the family business?  DoubleSuck.  I've heard before that the Houston Police Department (patrol and Vice both) have an unofficial policy of attempting to not arrest underage prostitutes, of attempting to get them into social services or back with separated family members or responsible adult family friends.  I applaud this line of thought and hope that it continues, but I have to wonder how it will affect this particular girl. 

With members of the the two preceding generations of her family being the ones who pimped her out as a part of the family business, to whom could she possibly be turned over for support and psychological help?  If anyone in her extended family gave a rat's ass about her or her situation, it wouldn't have progressed to the police catching her in the act of prostitution.  My hopes and dreams are with her.

In general, I don't care what anyone knowing puts into or does with her body.  As long as everyone is over age and consenting, I think we have larger things to worry about than intoxicants or prostitution (you know, like crumbling infrastructure, vaccination rates, and unemployment).  Drugs and prostitution should both be legal.  Both are survival methods, and if they purveyors of such stay low-key, keep it away from schools, and  have some respect for their neighbors, the rest of us should just look the other way.

If someone thinks her most marketable skill is best suited to a jackshack or selling controlled substances, or if, God forbid, she has nothing else at her disposal to survive, the very last thing she needs is legal complications.  For those in such situations (by choice or desperation), changing their lives and income situation is well nigh impossible with arrest and/or conviction records. 

The wage of sin may be eventual death, but the wage of survival is often sin.  Sin is in the eye of the beholder, and in the beholder's god. 

This liberty line of thought, though, screeches to a halt at the doorstep of the underage and/or the coerced. Coerced sex is rape.  People involved in sexual coercion need to be imprisoned for life (no parole!), and the desperate underaged should continued to be rescued because, after all, they're not all that different from the animals at the ASPCA in that they were born but not properly loved or raised.  If we can do it for animals, why not humans?


Window Shopping for Marital Aids

When's the last time you had the pharases "Lovecraftian horror" and "non-Euclidian geometry" occur while window shopping for marital aids? 

Click the graphic to enlarge and read this particularly riotous installment of Questionable Content in this window.  Click the title to read it at the creator's site.

To be honest, I wanted to learn more.  Then I found the QC Forum, in which astute reader Random832 commented that the warning on the box is:

Caution: GSX9500 may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. GSX9500 contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. Do not use GSX9500 on concrete. Discontinue use of GSX9500 if any of the following occurs: itching, vertigo, dizziness, tingling in extremities, loss of balance or coordination, slurred speech, temporary blindness, profuse sweating, or heart palpitations. If GSX9500 begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. GSX9500 may stick to certain types of skin. When not in use, GSX9500 should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of GSX9500 of any and all liability. Ingredients of GSX9500 include an unknown glowing green substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space. GSX9500 has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq. Do not taunt GSX9500. GSX9500 comes with a lifetime warranty.
 I can't decide if that warning makes me more or less intrigued. 


The Story of Tink & Pink

"The Story of Tink & Pink" is the story of a dachsund who adopts a piglet.  The story itself is true, although not mine.  The woman who was lucky enough to have Tink & Pink shared the story and photos online while it unfolded.  Later she published a childrens' book about it.

After stumbling on a piece of it in a forum somewhere, I dug around until I'd read everything I could find.  The story is lovely and inspiring, and I thought that I'd share it as widely as possible.  I've retold it here in the form of a children's story, suitable for reading out loud to a child while watching the presentation..

Be sure your sound is turned on!  To view full-screen (which will make the text easier to read), click the in the lower-right of the media box below.


TJP Technical Difficulties --> Resolved!

Sorry to advise that while we've been constantly poking at the TJP template to make it absolutely perfect, we've managed to break it in a way that we can neither troubleshoot nor repair:

Nothing on the left navigation bar works. Nothing.

So, an emergency template change (with associated hiccups) will be forthcoming ASAP . . .

Apologies to the Ladies Jane


UPDATE: We've been reminded that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and TJP 2.5 is now live!

New Year McNugget Rage

Apparently an angry drunk, an Ohio woman attacked fast food employees and damaged restaurant employees in the early morning hours of 1/1/2010 because she wanted lunch/dinner food during breakfast hours.

WNWO, the local NBC affiliate, offers a description of the confrontation and the woman's mug shot:
Melodi Dushane, 24, of East Toledo, Ohio
      TOLEDO, OHIO -- Newly released surveillance video shows an East Toledo woman who became so enraged that chicken nuggets were not available at a Toledo McDonald's that she punched through the drive-thru window.

Melodi Dushane, 24, stopped at the fast-food restaurant at Front and Main Streets in East Toledo in the early morning hours of New Year's Day and asked for chicken nuggets. When the drive-thru attendant told her the restaurant was only serving breakfast and that the item was not available, Dushane reached through the window and punched the attendant in the mouth.

Video released Monday shows a visibly angered Dushane get out of her car before throwing punches at the attendant. Employees are seen trying to force the window closed, prying Dushane's fingers from the edge. Dushane then gets back into her car and, moments later, emerges to throw a bottle through the glass window. After the window shatters, Dushane is seen getting back into her car and driving off.

McDonald's employees did not report any injuries to police.

WABC, the local ABC affiliate, reports that "Dushane says she was drunk at the time. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail last month and ordered to pay McDonald's for the broken window."

WRGB, the local CBS affiliate, brings us the complete surveillance video:

The TJP admins have been known to drink and dance all night and hit the local MacDaddy on the way home for lovely Double Cheese Burgers (extra pickles, extra onions!), but I can't imagine seeing something like this happen!  Seriously, over McNuggets?  Methinks there's something more to this story that we don't know . . .


Craigslist and Sexual Trafficking

Human rights group The Rebecca Project for Human Rights rapped craigslist’s knuckles this past Monday with a half-page* advertisement in both The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle that describes the stories of two trafficked females.

The advertisement, paid for by the FAIR fund, took the form of a personal letter to craigslist co-founder Craig Newmark, from the two trafficked females using the initials AK and MC. In the letter, the trafficked females provide an overview and some details of their abductions and subsequent sexual trafficking and describe how Newmark’s site enabled said trafficking.

“In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend . . . This ‘boyfriend’ soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night,” AK wrote.

“I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28 year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age . . . All day, me and the other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Criagslist . . . dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock – and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car,” MC wrote.

“Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me . . . I personally know over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site – Philadelphia, Dallas, Mikwaukee, Washington D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot,” AK wrote.

“I am 17 now, and my childhood memories . . . are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths,” MC wrote.

Craigslist co-founder Jim Buckmaster* responded to the allegations in the form of a personal letter to AK and MC published on the craigslist blog. “. . . [W]e are anxious to know that the perpetrators are behind bars. Would you or the advocacy groups who placed the ads please let us know where the police reports were filed? We have been unable thus far to identify police reports matching the crimes you describe,” Buckmaster wrote.

“If anyone committing such crimes has not yet been apprehended and prosecuted, we want to do everything in our power to assist the police in making that happen . . . We work with law enforcement to bring to justice any criminals foolish enough to incriminate themselves by misusing our site, and want to make sure everything possible has been done in your cases.”

Buckmaster continued, “craigslist is used by more than 50 million Americans to facilitate billions of interactions each month, and criminal misuse of the site is quite rare.”

Additionally, “craigslist is one of the few bright spots and success stories in the critical fight against trafficking and child exploitation.”

--opinion start--

Yes, bad people are using craigslist to do bad things to children and adults. The problem is, people have been doing bad things since long before craigslist began. I would bet cash money that people will still be doing bad things long after craigslist is gone, and that the bad people will find other ways to get their word out.

We can either play Whack-A-Mole trying to silence information distributors, or we can put the information distributors to use in sting operations that bust/incarcerate the pimps and free the trafficked.

Here’s a thought: How about not having someone else write a response to a letter written to you (I’m looking at you, Newmark), and don’t try to turn tragic stories of human sexual trafficking into an opportunity for spin (I’m looking at you, Buckmaster).

Both moves come across as insincere, snotty, and just plain lame.

--opinion end--