Round Word-workers

Just in case you thought there were areas of life that were safe from this shit:

Speaking as a fat poet who has given many public readings and taught many college courses and non-academic workshops, I can testify that there is not a single first-day-of-class or walk-to-the-microphone when I don’t damn-near drown in my fear of being judged unworthy-because-fat, or haven’t spent the days before fretting over my outfit (hoping it can be cool enough to bypass my fatitude…). Sarah Hollowell is a different generation than I am, and she “seems” to be a bit more confident than I am, but she is open about being hurt and confused, and the MWW are clearly scrambling their asses around like crazy to make it right, but the fact remains that they absolutely confirmed the notion that fat-prejudice is the last truly  acceptable prejudice when they were silent at that meeting. Silence = complicity, folks. You all consented to prejudice. So you should be scrambling your asses around and doing serious grovelling.

And I know Roxanne Gay can be prickly, but her response here was right and righteous.

This, of course, all applies only if the whole kerfuffle is being reported accurately. There are some hints floating around that the words actually used at the meeting might not have been accurately represented, and the whole shebang is a wad of someone-said-and-then-someone-said confusion. And Gay has been known to be hot-tempered (though brilliant enough to get away with/around it).

Here’s the thing, though, the story is absolutely believable. Which says something fairly important. But if it’s not true, then apologies are owed in other directions, and soon.



Round Rage

I am not in the mood to write a blog today. I have about a zillion other things to do. I haven’t written in ages for a bunch of reasons, but the main one is that I felt like I’d had my say and was done.

I thought about writing, though, when Stephen Colbert started talking so much about his own weight on The Late Show. But I couldn’t summon the energy to repeat, and he there was something sad and plaintive about the whole thing that failed to make me mad.

That was then. Now we have 45/Thing/The-Toddler-in-Chief. And Thing is fat. Not HUGE, but still fat, and famously prone to eating a cliche fat-person-diet and not moving any more than he can manage. And all the liberals/progressives now have a sense that it’s okay to rag on a fat person because there’s a super-visible fat person out there who couldn’t even have been made up by Disney as an exemplar of everything, EVERYTHING negative anyone likes (and make no mistake, that definitely was me accusing your non-fat selves of reveling in this excuse to make fat-jokes) to think about fat people.

So here I am grumpily writing a blog. And, since I am not willing to give the subject a large chunk of my day, I’ll get right to the point. EVERY TIME YOU MAKE A FAT-JOKE ABOUT 45, YOU ARE MAKING THE SAME ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ME AND EVERY OTHER FAT PERSON YOU KNOW. And, yes, I am taking it personally. We all are. The world is full of people who are narcissistic, gleefully cruel, racist, sexist, willfully stupid, and a long list of criminalities and are righteously skinny. Paul Ryan comes to mind pretty easily. McDonalds, Diet Coke, and riding a golf cart may be unhealthy (okay, definitely are), but they do not make you an inexcusable fuckwad. Being an inexcusable fuckwad makes you an inexcusable fuckwad, and I would (on behalf of the plump/chunky/adipose/obese everywhere) would be grateful if you would stop making a connection that has no basis in reality. So once again, let me run through the Fatmatters Main Theses:

  1. Skinny DOES NOT = smart, decent, humane, healthy, or sane.
  2. Fat DOES NOT = stupid, barbaric, Scrooge-like, sick, or crazy.
  3. Human bodies are not the proper location for abuse by other humans, EVER.
  4. Being legit angry about someone’s execrable behavior does NOT negate 1, 2, or 3. Got it? No? Then fuck off, because you’re doing the same thing 45 does when he says things about immigrants or women or childrens’ health or Confederate monuments. This makes you an asshole. Wake up.

Roundly Condemned


“You have such a beautiful face; you’d be gorgeous if you lost weight.” People I barely know. Okay. You have such a beautiful fantasy. You’d be polite if you got a clue. And besides, no shit: Good cheekbones, nice hazel eyes, a charming “widow’s peak,”a decent smile; I’m fine. And the radio says that fat people are responsible for The Environment.

We eat too much. It takes more fuel to move our asses down the road. We use our cars too much, take up all the close parking spaces in the Walmart lot, and use up too much fabric for our ugly clothes. We eat doctor dollars up like salted peanuts.We eat salted peanuts up like M&Ms and M&Ms like locusts. We’re a plague. Airplanes crash beneath our weight, ships sink, tires blow, stairs creak, chairs collapse, shoes split, fabric threatens to give out, antique bedsteads splinter.

Oh, fine. Keep us off the subways, off the planes, off stages (unless you need a laugh, a villain, a failure), out of pools, restaurants, dressing rooms, your beds. Any beds with other people in them. The New York Times says doctors hate us.

Here’s the thing: I know. It’s a class issue, a medical issue, an aesthetic issue, a resource issue, a character issue, a first-world issue, an environmental issue, a gender issue, a philosophical issue, a theological issue, and a scientific issue. Soon, we’ll find out it’s a meteorlogical issue. At least we don’t commit much active crime—it takes too much energy and we can’t run very fast.

I know I’m invisible. I know I’m too visible. I know I’m terrifying. I know I’m weak. I know I’m homey-comfy-nesty. I know I look like I’d eat you in the first week we were on a desert island. I know my flesh offends you. I know you want to poke my belly and see how long it jiggles. I know you’re afraid I won’t leave enough for you or your grandchildren.


We’re the answer to all the mysteries that haunt you. All the progress that offends you. Racism is our fault. Sexism is our fault. Stupidism is our fault. Fascism is our fault. Oligarchies are our fault. Tyranny is our fault. Fanaticism is our fault. Just look at Henry VIII. He did it all.

Around Docs

While it continues to talk about BMI as though it were a valid medical tool, and buys into a fair number of canards, this NYT article has some important info about surgery, anaesthesia, and chemo as well as some good reporting:

“Surgery involves anesthesia, of course, giving rise to another issue.

There are no requirements for drug makers to figure out appropriate doses for obese patients. Only a few medical experts, like Dr. Hendrikus Lemmens, a professor of anesthesiology at Stanford University, have tried to provide answers.

His group looked at several drugs: propofol, which puts people to sleep before they get general anesthesia; succinylcholine, used to relax muscles in the windpipe when a breathing tube must be inserted; and anesthetic gases.

Propofol doses, Dr. Lemmens found, should be based on lean body weight — the weight of the body minus its fat. Using total body weight, as is routine for normal-weight people, would result in an overdose for obese patients, he said. But succinylcholine doses should be based on total body weight, he determined, and the dosing of anesthetic gases is not significantly affected by obesity.

As for regional anesthetics, he said, “There are very few data, but they probably should be dosed according to lean body weight.”

“Bad outcomes because of inappropriate dosing do occur,” said Dr. Lemmens, who added that 20 to 30 percent of all obese patients in intensive care after surgery were there because of anesthetic complications. Given the uncertainties about anesthetic doses for the obese, Dr. Lemmens said, he suspects that a significant number of them had inappropriate dosing.”

White Women, WTF

A friend challenged me to explain why white women voted for 45. Rightly so. She’s not white, and like a lot of women in the non-white world, has decided that it’s no longer her job to explain race to white folks. I suspect that many Black/Latinx/Asian/Native women have been tired of explaining things to us for ages, but have collectively (insofar as it’s possible for me to speak of collectivity in very diverse communities) hit some sort of wall and have given up on us in some senses.

It’s a pig-dog of a question—ultimately there is a sliver of mystery in human behaviors that no one can define, and in 2016 that manifested in large numbers of humans voting for a man who was certain to hurt them and theirs. I didn’t. I only know for certain that two women in my extended community did vote for him, and I’m not sure they constitute a sample. Both have degrees. Both are smart. I can’t really have extended conversations with either of them because they are my daughters’ mothers-in-law and I don’t have the right to make things worse than they already are in both situations.

Here’s what I do know: There is a new “Diversity Café” here at Pretty Good U run by the Women’s Studies program. The first speaker was a Latinx sociologist. Attendance was good—about 30 women and a couple of male grad students. Most of the 32 were white, and the whole group was a mix of grad students and various stripes of faculty (adjunct, not-yet-tenured, non-tenure track, tenured). Most were visibly and seriously concerned about What’s Going On outside of the Academy, and very happy to be there listening. An International Women’s Day teach-in came out of the meeting, so it was not without fruit. But the speaker said, almost casually, that white women need to step up and start talking about race. I got kind of excited and thought that would happen, but I don’t know that I have ever seen so many people nod in agreement and switch topics so quickly. It was stunning.

So there’s one reason—even highly educated, deeply politically aware and progressive white women really don’t want to confront their own whiteness or talk about what that whiteness means—at least if that one meeting is an indicator. I’ll keep bringing it up, and we’ll see if I can ever get that conversation started (as if I have any idea where to start it…though I am not too worried about that part, since much of my adult life has consisted of getting really good at flailing about until something happens). But I am construing on the basis of this one experience with elite white women that there are deep, deep wells of avoidance in which we are still choosing to drown ourselves. And if that is the case of a bunch of humans who probably all voted for Hillary, then you can begin to imagine the extent to which that kind of blindness drives all sorts of women who don’t have PhDs. Or therapists. Or self-awareness.

There is also that other thing women (this may be a white thing, but I don’t really know) don’t want to talk about: the misogyny of women. Some of the worst misogyny I have ever experienced was at the hands of women. I’ve written before here about my theory that there is only ever allowed to be one brainy fat woman in a room at a time, and the Alpha Fat Chick will go out of her way to see to it that the focus stays on her. And that’s just one of many facets of one of many issues. So, I’m going to assume that a chunk of the women who voted for 45 suffered from what I think of as Phyllis Schlafly Syndrome, which I think the APA really needs to list in its diagnostic bible.

I also assume that some of the women were fundamentalists of one sort or another (Jewish & Christian, to be honest—I doubt very much that any significant numbers of Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists voted for him) who voted the way their husbands told them to. Because.

I am also fairly sure that there are a number of women who voted for him—maybe on purpose, or maybe without realizing it—precisely because he is a woman-hating, abusive, moral-less mountain of lies. In my own defense, the “demon lover” types I was involved with when I was younger were smarter and better looking than he ever was, but many of us, if pushed, will admit that there is still a pull for us in dangerous men. And he is definitely dangerous. Not all of us have been lucky enough to (mostly) grow out of that attraction.

It’s unlikely that I have covered all the reasons my white sisters voted for a repulsive, destructive, inexcusable, unconnected-to-reality narcissist. We’re no more of a uniformity than any other group of women. Then again, I doubt that there are all that many other statistically significant factors. I am most emphatically NOT a sociologist, though.

There is, I think, a list of what seem to be “tipping point” issues that drove the election results other than the votes of white women (though that is certainly one of the most important ones): in historical terms, the chances of the American electorate going from one revolutionary president to another, back-to-back, might have been nearly non-existent; the white Patriarchy is not going to go down easy, no matter how much progress we like to think we’ve made, and it is a boiling sea of rage; the no-one-really-wants-to-talk-about-it misogyny of the Bernie voters; Bill Clinton. Then there’s the Electoral College.

But the bottom line here is that white women, as a block, have to deal with collective responsibility for what has happened. That is one reason I was unbothered by the mostly-whiteness of the crowd in DC on January 21st—it’s our blasted JOB to get out there and fix the mess. The other reason is that The March was not (at least in DC) quite as pale as folks have charged, though it was pretty white. I’m fairly sure that the whiteness was not the reason, as some writers have suggested, that the DC police were so nice to the marchers. I was at the Standing Rock March, and the cops were polite then, too. That crowd was definitely not predominantly white. The DC cops have no investment in supporting the current administration—the city is predominantly non-white, it is taxed without representation, and he is causing them to work a lot of overtime.

So, collective responsibility: In my lifetime, I’ve watched Germany go from being a deeply wounded (and often unpleasant to be in for long periods of time) nation determined to avoid its past, to being a healed/healing nation that is alive to its past and committed to not repeating its own horrific errors. Basically, they’ve spent a long, painful time staring at and telling their own truths—a kind of collective confession and penance. They also got the other half of their country back, which was a mess, but an important mess. We’ve never really put our country back together since 1865. White people might want to take note of Germany’s choices. Of course, Americans are justly notorious for refusing to learn from any other country’s successes. American Exceptionalism and The Partriarchy have been festering together for ages. In the best of all possible worlds, this administration will have burst the boil and we’ll be able to move on soonish. My Pollyanna half is allowed a few minutes to contemplate that each day. Then my non-Pollyana self goes back to screaming in a corner for the other 23 hours, 57 minutes of the day.

I don’t know what to do. I’m pretty sure there is no one answer, and pretty sure that answers are going to prove hard to come by. So I now have a “White silence is violence.” button I intend to wear to church and sometimes to teach. I’ve started talking about race in my classes whenever there’s the least excuse. And I’ve kind of made peace with the idea that I will screw it up sometimes, because thinking it’s my job to do it perfectly is permission to be silent. And in the tradition of English law, silence gives consent. I think many of those white women who voted for 45 did so silently.

If I figure out any other ways to add my infinitesimal efforts in any right direction, I’ll try to find my way to acting on them. It won’t be enough. It never could. And it certainly doesn’t make me particularly righteous. This isn’t nearly enough of an answer. I am profoundly sorry not to be able to do better.

Rounding Up

Re-posted from my friend’s blog (

How To Activate Your Inner Activist

by Miriam Sagan

Since Trump’s election, many folks have felt depressed or paralyzed. But we don’t have to suffer that way. You’ll have to forgive me—but I once made a big chunk of my living as a freelancer writing How To articles. So I’m just going to continue…

How To Be Politically Active

First off, settle on this as you goal. Your goal is not to save America—or even yourself. Your goal is to engage in an activity that might be new to you, or that you might be out of touch with. The following steps aren’t that different than those you’d take towards a healthier diet or a good exercise regime.

Then, decide on what you—and you alone—count as resistance to tyranny and fighting for justice. Make a list of everything and anything. Voter registration? Food equity? Land preservation? Fighting racism? This is your list.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonides said there were four levels of ethical action:

1. Ordinary kindness (holding the door for someone)
2. Following a formal commandment/good deed—known as mitvot (visiting the sick)
3. Social Justice
4. Charity

It’s fascinating that charity is the highest, but I’m guessing that is because it has the spiritual element of sacrifice, even a small one. We’re going to focus on levels 3 and 4, in large part because I’m guessing you’re already engage in 1 and 2.

Now, make a giant list of anything you might do from fundraising to letter writing to marching to joining a group to clicking on a donation link. You can prioritize the things you like best. And respect your own strengths and character—introverts will chose differently than extroverts, moms with little kids are different than childless folks, etc. I’m actually going to allow you self-education as part of your program. This is about reading a book on history or theory—not checking Facebook (or articles on line).

OK—now here is the important part. Decide exactly how often you are going to engage in these activities. I suggest starting off with twice a week. Write this down. Concretize it. Actually, quantify it. This technique is something I learned in twenty plus years of peer coaching with my friend Ana.

Frequency is more important than duration (you wouldn’t brush your teeth for 30 minutes once a week). Also, a minimum frequency can always be extended or added to.

If you do this, you will have activated yourself. You won’t have met a grandiose goal, but coaching is made up of attainable sized ones. In the book “Designing A Life” the authors say that something is not a problem if it doesn’t have a solution. Rather, these things are conditions of our existence—like suffering, death, and the human inclination to do evil as well as good.

But many things do have solutions, including our own passivity.

My last piece of advice: have some fun.

Let’s say you go to a rally or protest march. Will this make America the country you want to live in in fifteen minutes? No. Will it give you super powers to save the world? No.

It will, however, meet several goals:

1. You can check an activism item off your list for the week
2. You will get fresh air and exercise
3. You may enjoy some music or poetry or something edifying
4. You may see your friends—you might even do some networking
5. You will get out of the house and enjoy your city or town
6. You will most likely have your thoughts provoked and learn something
7. It will make the news
8. It will put pressure on your elected representatives
9. It will bring people together

Do remember. To take positive action, you do NOT have to
1. Provide a complex solution
2. Be perfect
3. Blame anyone

By analogy, if you were diagnosed with diabetes, you would not have to find the cure. You would not need to be a poster child of compliance. But you should do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You already have the skills to be an activist—because they are your usual problem solving skills.

Let me know how it goes!

Rounding the Corner

I was going to talk about this nice bit of (now months old, I gather) intelligence from Tim Gunn, who has undergone a probably-wasn’t-very-drastic conversion to pro-acceptance fashion politics:  body

But really, people, really, has there ever been an election that was more about the body than this one. Whether the body of a woman can withstand the savage stresses of the Presidency? (dumb and retrograde, but the question is nonetheless out there) About whether the bodies of women belong to them? (Have you paid attention at all to Mike Pence’s record? And who, precisely, do you think will end up running things if the Cheeto-from-hell is elected?) Is the body worth protection from bad cops, bad medicine, bad water, bad air, bad education, bad men?  Are the bodies of women valuable/worthy beyond their surface conformity to grossly artificial standards? Are the bodies of non-white people worthy/valuable of anything beyond poverty and degradation? Are the bodies of non-cis-hetero-non-binary humans even human? And, in the end, are the bodies and minds of white males to go on being crippled by dangerous constructs about the nature of masculinity?

Although I’ve spent years and years studying the history and literature of the Holocaust, and though I understand WWII as a complex extension of the grossly stupid, vicious (and overwhelmingly privileged-male-driven) desire of revenge on the part of the winners (I use the term loosely–no-one “won” that war) of WWI, and though I have lived in and visited Germany over the last 40 years during which it has undergone massive and remarkable change (mostly) in the direction of facing up to and growing beyond its own wounds and idiocies, I have never truly understood Germany  1919-1939 and how it came to be the genocidal/suicidal horror that it did. I can’t say that I understand it even now. Something in me cannot grasp the capacity of so many humans engaged in such profound denial of obvious facts, even though I believe heartily in the capacity of individuals to engage in radical denial. But I can say that I know what it it looks like.

My country has made me sad and angry. My country has made me grieve. My country has made me furious. Under every administration of my politically-aware life (so, since I was 14), I have had occasion to be disgusted, frustrated, or baffled. And I believed we’d hit bottom with W., I really did.

It is 1939 here in the United States. Voting for anyone other than Hillary (I don’t care how much you don’t like her. If you don’t like her, please do look deep into your soul to find the part of you that is simply willing to believe any stupid shit about her emails because she has the “wrong” body parts and recognize that the media is complicit in teaching you to ignore that ugly fact) is voting for 1939. Understand this: Flint is 1939. Refusing to let refugees in the country is 1939. White supremacy in any form is 1939. The Alt-Right is 1939. I am trying very hard not to descend to the “shouting match” level so much of this campaign has been decapitated by. I still don’t understand Germany in 1939, except that I know it was not made by monsters who were “not like us.” It was made by the consent and silence of people who were precisely like us, and who were sucked in gradually by their own sense of grievances unaddressed, their frustrations with a world they couldn’t face or comprehend, and their enthrallment to a history they imagined, but that had never actually existed.

Vote, please. Vote like it’s Munich and 1939 and you have some idea of what’s coming if you stay silent. Because you do. You do.




Round & Furry

There’s this:

Lots of interesting material in that very brief piece. There is also an interesting subtext about the actual value of using non-humans to test human medical issues. I understand that human testing, especially in the early stages of trials for important (as opposed to bogus or pseudo-important profit-driven crap like most weight-loss meds) drugs are a complicated issue, but it does rather stand to reason that it would be good to not use animals where it is possible not to do so. Of course, that would mean that the companies making quiet billions by supplying animals to labs would lose business, and the humans working there would lose jobs–another case of nothing happening without un-intended consequences.

Somehow it seems like the problems/systems involved in moving folks from middle-class jobs in inherently un-ethical (and usually planet- or human-destroying) industries ought to be more solvable than it currently seems. I insist on believing that someone could apply a consortium of big brains to the global shifts in industrial (and academic, come to thing of it) structures so that the majority of the planet could stop living in a constant state of panic and instability. You’d think the Masters wanted the Workers to be permanently insecure so they don’t have the energy or resources to pay attention to The Man Behind the Curtain. Or something.