Nice interview with Neil Gaiman on writing:
And here are Neil's 8 Rules of Writing. My favorite:
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
Thanks to Maria Popova.
This looks interesting. Both Adrian Fohr's collection and the broader project, Critical Commons, "...a public media archive and fair use advocacy network that supports the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts."
This is interesting, although it looks like she is using the materials of the Montessori method more than its essence: Child-directed learning. As Michelle (the creator of the Lane Montessori School for Autism) says:
Maria Montessori originally worked with children with special needs in the asylums and made great gains with them - so much so that their IQ scores were similar to typical children. She created the Montessori method (which is the program you see in most schools) as a way of teaching a typically developing child. For children who are on a higher end of the spectrum or children with Aspergers Syndrome I believe that they should be integrated but still need additional supports in the regular Montessori classroom.
I don't know all that much about how Maria Montessori worked with these children, but since this is where she developed her method and her philosophy, I have to assume that child-centered/child-directed learning was a major part of it. This is something I am interested in starting, as I am getting frustrated with the approach of our daughter's therapies. They have been very helpful and she has made progress with them, but as she gets older and more independent I want to feed that independence, and I feel that the focus of her therapies is more about getting her to do what we want her to. I actually want more for her than that.
So I am looking into floortime therapy, and will be doing a seminar on it next month. It is more child-centered and follows the child's interests rather than simply imposing demands on the child from adults. What I'd like to do is to find a way to combine floortime with Montessori and start a playgroup - and eventually a small school - for my daughter and other children with her kinds of needs. The MACAR method, at the Shelton School in Texas, also looks interesting.
The recent comments from the Mayor of Osaka, defending the systematic rape of "comfort women" by Japanese soldiers during World War II, are of course repulsive. Mayor Toru Hashimoto told a press conference on Monday that "'anyone would understand' the role of 'comfort women' when soldiers were risking their lives and you wanted to give them 'a rest.'"
Hashimoto is understandably receiving a lot of flak for his comments, as he should. No civilized person could defend such a practice. Yet it is still widely considered acceptable - even reasonable by some - to defend the even deadlier annihilation of innocent men, women and children with the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The arguments Mayor Hashimoto makes in defense of forcing hundreds of thousands of women into prostitution make just as much sense as do any of the arguments defending these wartime atrocities.
Check out this campaign on Indiegogo.com.
Hi. My name is Nick Sireau, and I’m the father of two boys with a rare but devastating disease.
Alkaptonuria, or AKU for short, was the first genetic disease to be discovered more than 110 years ago. Despite this, it still has no cure, and the medical world remains largely unaware of its existence and impact on everyday life.
AKU is also known as Black Bone Disease. This is because an acid in the body accumulates at 2,000 times the normal rate, attacking the bones and turning them black and brittle. It causes severely debilitating osteoarthritis, heart disease, and other serious health complications. Patients become increasingly disabled as they get older.
But we believe we have found a cure.
And that’s why I’m reaching out to you today.
Three years ago, I gave up my job in order to devote myself, full time, to ﬁnding a cure for my kids. During that time, I’ve worked with teams in Liverpool, the United States and across Europe to plan a clinical trial.
Here's the part that makes me want to become violently ill:
We have found a very promising treatment: a drug called Nitisinone. If given early enough in life, it’s effectively a cure. The scientists we work with have proven this in their laboratory studies.
The real challenge is proving that this drug works in a clinical trial, in order to license nitisinone for use in AKU.
Just so everyone's clear: This father is not raising money to find a cure - he's already done that. He has helped to find a cure for his sons' illness that he believes works. But he is not allowed to give it to them because it has not yet been licensed by the government. The holdup is not the science. The holdup is a bunch of thugs in suits, backed up by another bunch of thugs with guns, who threaten to throw in prison anyone who attempts to use this drug or other drugs that have not been approved by yet another bunch of thugs.
Because people faced with devastating illnesses shouldn't be allowed to determine for themselves what risks they want to take in order to try to cure those illnesses.
"Oh yes!" They all said. "Get a poodle!" They all said. "They're so SMART!" They all said.
I'm beginning to suspect I may have been misinformed.
...there's also a longer version. In case you need to see more.
In an effort to help improve travel options for families with special needs, I've just created this short survey. If you have someone in your family with special needs, please consider filling it out - it should only take a couple of minutes. If you know of any families with special needs, autism, etc., please pass this on to them. Thanks!
Just for the record: I was never in as awesomely awesome condition as the dancers on this site. I was dancing en pointe eight years ago and stopped when I was pregnant. It's been eight years of having kids, raising kids, moving, being sleep deprived, being away from class for weeks - and, this last time, even months - at a time, starting over again and getting strong again. I'm not yet ready for pointe again but I'm going to be. Why? Because it's one of the most incredible experiences in the world. Like all of a sudden the rules of gravity just don't apply anymore. And yes, you have to be pretty badass to do it.
New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Megan Fairchild talks about why music and artistry are more important than technique, and how the choreography of Duo Concertant gives her the freedom to let go and be herself onstage.
If you're fortunate enough to be in New York City, you can see Duo Concertant as part of the BALANCHINE BLACK & WHITE program Sept 24, 25, 28 Eve, Oct 1, 4, 13. For tickets go here.
My husband and I were speaking with one of our daughter's doctors today, and she happened to mention that her office staff is overwhelmed these days. She said the "bureaucracy" with the insurance companies has gotten a lot worse since the implementation of Obamacare measures. I wanted to dig a little deeper and get some specifics, but my husband was being very picky about sticking to the "whole point" of the visit, which was our daughter's latest EEG. (Which was unchanged from her previous one - not great, some spikes during sleep, but no seizures thankfully.)
What she did say was that the insurance companies are becoming much harder to deal with, and are less willing to reimburse things than they were in the past - and I can understand why, since when I went in for some routine exams a few months ago I was told (cheerily) that these were now covered 100% by insurance "because of Obamacare". Of course I was left scratching my head wondering why, if politicians can simply mandate free goods and services, they don't simply mandate prosperity all over the place and be done with poverty. But of course the resources to cover those "free" medical exams have to come from somewhere and one of the places they are coming from is other services that are in the grey area of being covered or not, and which the insurance companies are now balking about covering.
One thing our doctor said was that the insurance companies will not necessarily deny that a claim is valid, or a service covered, but they will just get very nitpicky about how the forms are submitted. If there is even a tiny error or omission (and apparently they are looking very closely for these) insurance will send it back to the doctor's office to be resubmitted. It doesn't take long before the office's staff is entirely consumed with such menial and pointless tasks. "They hope that you'll just give up," our doctor said glumly.
Another thing she said - a thing that is blindingly obvious to me, but I am starting to learn that it's important to point things out that I think are obvious because they aren't necessarily obvious to others - is that this kind of increased red tape and bureaucratic resistance hurts smaller practices much more than it does larger practices. And this is usually the case with government regulations anywhere, not only in the health care industry. Tighter regulations, more fees and licensing requirements, etc. are always more of a burden for a small company than for one that has economies of scale. Our doctor's sad prediction is that more and more private practices will be "swallowed up" by the big hospitals and medical centers.
...which is all the more reason that these guys are so heroic.
And I just think that it is more than ironic that the people who insist that we need more government regulation of the economy and who support economic train wrecks like Obamacare are very often the same people who are upset by increased consolidation in industries and big corporations driving out the "little guys". You can't have it both ways folks. Learn a little about how policies actually work in the real world before you promote them.
I’m not, of course. I am a wife and mother, I’ve never served in the US or any other military. I’ve never even listened to Lady Gaga, and I’ve never risked my life, liberty and personal well-being in order to expose government wrongdoing. And I wasn’t born with the body of a man.
When the soldier and whistleblower known as Bradley Manning announced last month that she identified as a woman and not a man, that she wished to be referred to as “Chelsea” and with the feminine pronoun, it caused a stir, even among her supporters. I’ve seen a number of comments on social networks from those who support Manning’s actions but who refuse, on the grounds of linguistic accuracy and clarity, to honor her requests.
Read the rest here.
Here's me, promoting the anthology "Why Peace", in which I have a chapter. It's a tremendous compilation, with many many unique and personal accounts from people who have been victims of war, those who have examined its workings and effects, and those who have helped to perpetrate it. I have yet to finish the entire volume, but have been most moved by the stories from those who once accepted or even supported the institution of war but now are opposed to it. I urge anyone who thinks they know anything at all about the realities of war to pick up a copy of this book. You don't even have to read my chapter - just flip through it and pick a few chapters randomly. You will very likely be surprised by what you learn.
If you still support taxation and the monopoly state after watching this, fine. Just don't ever pretend that you're not advocating a system based on coercive violence.
As a parent of a child who has had seizures, it enrages me that there is a gang of people who believe they have the right to deprive other people of potential treatments for their children's debilitating afflictions. It has always made me angry that this gang believes it can dictate to others what they may or may not put into their own bodies for whatever reason they choose. But this absolutely enrages me. I hope it enrages other parents too.
Fortunately for Charlotte Figi, she lives in a state that has decriminalized Marijuana. But how many other children and adults have suffered, and how many continue to suffer, because of an idiotic law that criminalizes a non-crime?
By the time Charlotte's parents tried Medical Marijuana to treat her seizures, she had lost the ability to walk, to talk, and to eat. She was having 300 grand mal seizures a week. Now, according to an article on CNN Health:
"...Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day.
"I literally see Charlotte's brain making connections that haven't been made in years," Matt said. "My thought now is, why were we the ones that had to go out and find this cure? This natural cure? How come a doctor didn't know about this? How come they didn't make me aware of this?"
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the interests of the pharmaceutical companies that helped finance the medical schools their doctors attended.
The heroes of the story (along with Charlotte's parents of course, and everyone who voted to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Colorado) are the Stanley brothers:
The brothers started the Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides cannabis to adults and children suffering from a host of diseases, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, who cannot afford this treatment.
People have called them the Robin Hoods of marijuana. Josh Stanley said it's their calling. They use the money they make from medical marijuana patients and get donations from sponsors who believe in their cause. They only ask patients such as the Figis to donate what they can.
"We give (cannabis) away for next to free," Stanley said. "The state won't allow us to actually give it away, so we give it away for pennies really."
The institution of the monopoly state (the same institution that prevents people like the Stanley brothers from providing a medical treatment free of charge) is antithetical to peaceful coexistance, and to true civilization. The war on drugs, with its concomitant spikes in violent crime, imprisoning of nonviolent people and the creation of a culture of incarceration is just one of the worst examples. But this is another one. To force parents to watch helplessly as their child's cognitive abilities decline, when a potential treatment is available, is pure evil. There really is no other word for it. And if examples like this don't get people to recognize the sheer evil and destructiveness that is at the heart of the state itself, then I don't know what will.
According to Rebecca Onion at Slate.com, the "Histomap" was created by John B. Sparks in 1931:
"The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers. The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting:
"the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America.
"The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history."
I've uploaded a collection of photos I took of Hong Kong's infamous Walled City, on HistoryPin. I am really kicking myself for not having paid more attention to the Walled City while I was there. I lived in Hong Kong for seven years and while I knew about the Walled City, it just wasn't much on my radar. But of course it should have been. The above photo is of an "unlicensed dentist" who has set up shop on the outside-facing part of the Walled City. The City was famous for such dentists, as well as for its prostitutes, gangs and drug addicts.
As a territory in the middle of Hong Kong that was ruled by neither the Hong Kong/British government nor the Chinese government, it was "ungoverned" - though in many ways "governed" by the local triads (in stark contrast to the rest of the colony that was governed by the much more malicious and deadly gang based in London.) In films, it was portrayed as a den of criminality, and it was certainly a convenient place for criminals running from either the HK government or the Chinese to hide out. But the entire time I was living there, I don't remember hearing anything about crimes committed there nor about criminals from the Walled City causing trouble elsewhere in the territory. I don't doubt that there was crime there, probably even more than in the rest of Hong Kong. But in a city with such a notoriously low rate of crime, that's not necessarily saying much.
I wish I knew more about the Walled City and how things really worked there. Maybe someone else has done some good research on it. I hope so, and if I find it I will post it here. In the meantime, here is a fantastic photo essay, with pictures that far outshine mine.
And here is an interesting and sort of creepy video taken by some guy (Rob Frost) in 1990:
And here is a brief article with a great graphic diagram of the City. According to the article:
The Walled City was often described as a cesspool ("den of iniquity" was another favorite), but at the same time, the community was a model for cooperation: residents created basic rules to deal with matters of survival, like fighting fires. Schools, shops, and businesses (including those of doctors and dentists who couldn't get licensed in Hong Kong) flourished. Crime was also a major problem, as you might expect—for a time in the 1960s and 70s, the Triads controlled the city. But as the SCMP describes, most former tenants remember it fondly. "We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions," one ex-resident says. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Again, I am no expert here. But I strongly suspect that this description is a far more accurate one for how things worked in Hong Kong's Walled City than are the more dramatic and violent representations we've seen in films, etc.
Also this - one of the world's greatest sci-fi writers collaborates on a book about one of the world's greatest cities!
Be sure to watch it to the end:
In keeping with my New Year's Resolution, I've been avoiding commenting on Syria. But I am re-posting my article from Why Peace, here because it applies in spades. As it always does. War is not just "tragic" or "unfortunate." It is not just another form of violence and it is nothing at all like "self defense." It is evil. It is ALWAYS evil and can never be justified. Here's why:
See the whole book here.