Medical Inequality

April 21, 2015

In the past two years, I’ve been horrifically exposed to the inequalities in American medicine.

I’ve lost my father, two aunts, and three dear friends. Of those, all but two involved cancer. And half of them were a direct result of medical neglect or outright malpractice deriving from inequality.

Almost every civilized country on the planet (including many considered “third world”) provides health care for its citizens. Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, most of Europe, most of South America, Cuba, etc. But, in the United States, people are brainwashed into protesting the minimal assistance ACA (Affordable Care Act) offers, ignoring the death, debt, and despair caused by the lack of universal health care here.

Faux News, the tool of the 1 percent, convinces these delusional dissidents that somehow government assistance will reduce the quality of care they receive, ignoring the fact that government-run Medicare offers the most cost-effective and highest quality of care available in this country.

In reality, the quality of health care in the United States is surpassed around the world. Even Mexico offers its citizens better health care in terms of outcomes than that available here. And the high quality care that these absurd activists are so worried about losing is available only to those who have money and privilege.

Even if you have privilege, you still can leave your family indebted to the medical establishment. The number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.

But, without money and/or privilege, the medical establishment condemns you to death. I lost two friends in one week. The first, a white, upper middle class, cis woman had her life extended by almost a decade after her cancer was diagnosed as Stage IV. She was monitored constantly, getting CAT scans at regular intervals. She had access to experimental treatments which gave
her several additional years of high quality living. When the end came, in her seventh decade, it was peaceful, expected, and at home with her family.

The second, a trans woman, also had a history of cancer. But, she did not receive adequate monitoring. She had been ill and in pain for weeks, but no CAT scan was ordered, just an x-ray. Her doctor told her she had pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital on a Tuesday because the pain had become unbearable and the treatment wasn’t working.

By the time her provider got around to paying for a CAT scan all it could do was confirm her death sentence. In her early fifties, she died the following Monday of Stage IV cancer.

The women of privilege received medical care from a non-profit medical center that put forth a heroic effort to preserve her life. She had time to prepare her family, her affairs, her finances, and to say goodbye to her friends over lunches and chocolate.

The trans woman was neglected by a for-profit company that has a history of killing patients rather than spending money on expensive tests and treatments. (That same organization worked systematically for three years to kill my aunt — not white, not privileged — through neglect, malpractice, and over medication.)

With no warning, the trans woman had to say goodbye to her friends in the hospital. For those further away who couldn’t make it there quickly, they only were able to spend time with her after she lost her ability to speak clearly. Instead of spending quality time over months with each individual or family, she was mobbed by the many who loved her over the course of a few hours.

Because she had no time to prepare her finances and affairs, her extended family may lose the home they shared.

You can help them out at the gofundme account their friends set up for them. That Americans must create crowdfunding campaigns to beg for assistance with medical bills is seen as bizarre in more civilized parts of the world.

But, the GOP is determined to strip away what little relief the ACA offers. Republicans prefer to allow huge mega corps to make obscene profits by allowing people to die rather than provide adequate medical care and then billing their families for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sending them into bankruptcy.

The rest of the world has figured out that providing citizens with affordable health care makes economic sense. But we’re still trapped in a paranoid delusion that somehow government interference will reduce access and quality even though the opposite is true.


Not a book review: Racism in America then and now

December 30, 2014

I recently finished reading the eighth book in Barbara Hambly‘s compelling historical murder mystery series about a free man of color set in 1830s New Orleans shortly after the Louisiana purchased changed that city forever.

Benjamin January is the son of an African man and a half white woman. He was given his freedom, his name, and his education by the white Creole, St.-Denis Janvier, who purchased Benjamin’s mother to make her his mistress, a relationship known in the “custom of the country” as placée/protector.

Highly educated, Benjamin speaks half a dozen languages, trained as a surgeon in Paris, and is an accomplished pianist. But he’s also six-foot three and muscular, with skin dark as his father’s. As a result, despite his accomplishments, every white man, especially Americans, see him as money on the hoof. They resent the fact they can not legally sell him as a field hand for more than $1,000. Many are offended at his command of their language, expecting him to speak in a slave’s unschooled pidgeon.

Written from Benjamin’s point of view, the books give an educated and intelligent man’s interpretation of racism and slavery as it applies to himself, his family, his friends, and people he meets. Unable to work as a surgeon because of his race, Benjamin struggles to support himself as a musician and piano teacher. Because of his race, he is limited to where he can play and who he can teach. And he always contends with his inability to legally defend himself if white men choose to beat him for the money in his pocket or even his boots, the threat that one will kidnap him and try to sell him as a slave, the prohibition against looking a white man in the eye, the necessity of abasing himself in the presence of unschooled, unwashed, louts just because their skin is “white.”

Although the perspective is similar to that in the book Twelve Years a Slave, the Benjamin January stories provide more entertainment. He invariably must investigate a murder when the blankittes (whites) either falsely accuse a black man (too often Monsieur Janvier himself) of the crime, don’t care about the victim because they’re black, or just can’t figure out whodunit. To solve the mystery, Benjamin often must disguise himself as a
slave to gain the access he needs to white spaces and the confidence of other slaves.

Hambly studied history at the University of California, earning a masters degree in Medieval History. Her research, knowledge, and comprehension of the past flavor the Benjamin January series in which the Historic New Orleans Collection is always cited in the acknowledgements. She writes in period, many of her characters plucked from history, using the language of the times as it would have been used then by whites and blacks.

That language, now considered offensive, can be jarring, and for anyone who has never had to check their white privilege, the books can be an eye opener. But, what I find difficult to accept is how little the world has changed in the almost two hundred years since the books’ setting.

Now, as then:

  • It’s still all too easy for a black man to lose his freedom because of a white man’s lies.
  • Black men are still killed for talking back to a white man or touching a white woman, the presumption always that she would never have consented to or asked for that touch.
  • Blacks are prevented from making enough to feed their families while white men get rich off their labor.
  • Black adult males are still called “boy” by whites.
  • Blacks are prevented from voting, not believed when they testify in court (if their testimony is even allowed), and are routinely excluded from serving on juries.
  • And still too many people can’t see past the pigment of someone’s skin, still consider anyone of color less than human.

Hundreds of thousands died in the Civil War, thousands were murdered during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, and still black men — often unarmed, many innocent, some only guilty of crimes that a white would merely receive a ticket for — are killed every day by whites. And too often, those whites face absolutely no penalties for lynching men and women by claiming they believed they were in danger, even when that claim is absolutely outrageously
unbelievable.

In the United States the concept of a black man playing a super hero or a secret agent is vilified by the right wing nut jobs. Every action of the first African-American president is reviled even when they duplicate those of white men who were praised for doing exactly the same thing. And dark skinned men are killed daily by cops without any justification. And yet, there are still people who try to stop conversations about racism because they claim it no longer exists.

They couldn’t be more wrong.


Vote Blue

October 28, 2014

For the past four years, the House GOP has wasted taxpayer money with frivolous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the GOP-created legislation which has resulted in millions more Americans getting access to health care. GOP legislators, in session less than half the year, call struggling minimum-wage workers who sometimes work three jobs to feed their families lazy.

While our infrastructure crumbles around us, we have seen no meaningful legislation from the 113th Congress. Republicans got elected by promising jobs, but they have only voted to restrict women’s access to healthcare, impose Christian believes on the government in violation of the First Amendment, and shut down the government, costing taxpayers billions.

If you’re not outraged by the behavior of elected officials who care more about impugning the Black, Democratic President than helping Americans recover from damage done by his White, Republican predecessor, you haven’t been paying attention.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives, 33 of 100 Senators, and governors in 36 states are on the ballot. Voting out the Koch-brother-funded, Tea Party idiots would give us the opportunity to end obstruction, filibustering, and constant gridlock in Washington and see laws passed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25, eliminating tax breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas, reforming campaign financing, and giving Veterans expanded access to health care, education, and job training, etc.

But, the combination of Koch-brother funded lies (they’re paying for 44,000 advertisements in swing states alone), gerrymandering which has drawn ridiculously configured legislative districts to consolidate all left leaning voters in mostly right states, and voter suppression laws created solely to prevent the poor, people of color, students, and women from voting, could exacerbate the obstructionist House by creating a Senate that will waste time trying to impeach the president while stealing more from the American public.

If you don’t want to see Social Security, highways, state parks, public schools, etc. privatized so billionaires can make more money, if you don’t want to see income inequality continue to widen, if you don’t want to see another ALEC shill willing to destroy the civil liberties of the many to further empower the 1 percent on the Supreme Court, you need to Vote Blue in November.

While I would very much like to see a progressive third party take hold in the U.S., the reality is that takes time and work. It’s telling when you’ve never heard of any of the third party candidates on the ballot. We can’t build a serious third party by only putting candidates for national and state-wide offices up for election. In order to run viable campaigns for national and state-wide offices, third-party candidates need to start the same way their Democratic and Republican opponents did: at the local level.

“The race for the United States Senate is going to be close — in fact it’s going to be so close that a handful of voters may decide who controls the Senate in Washington,” admits one Republican supporter. “People of like-minds need to stick together so as to avoid the rise of a government that is in complete conflict with their values.” He wrote those words to scare GOP voters into forking over money and getting to the polls for the midterm election.

But, unless your values are Tea Party ignorance and obstructionism, you must Vote Blue. If you don’t vote, or you vote for Republicans or third party candidates, you are handing the United States government over to right wing nut jobs who can’t spell, but are determined to take away your health care, your reproductive rights, your ability to earn more than slave wages, your weekends, your vacations, your home, and your retirement funds.

If you want to take our country back from the corporations, the 1 percent, the racists, misogynists, homo haters, trans attackers, and forced pregnancy movement proponents, please Vote Blue next week. If you don’t, you will empower those who want to make sure you never get a chance to vote again.

Also on the Ballot

In addition to the lies generated by and on behalf of candidates, supporters of amendments on the ballot in a number of states are spewing forth deliberate falsehoods and misinformation about legislation that will cause even more harm.

For example, several states are voting on “personhood” amendments, but since the majority of voters do not support “personhood” these are worded to prevent voters in those states from figuring out that’s what’s at stake. Forced pregnancy movement proponents frame their campaign around stories of pregnant women killed by guns or in auto accidents whose fetuses were destroyed as well. The fact that these laws could make abortion and many forms of contraceptive illegal is conveniently never mentioned.

And in Oregon two critical amendments are getting misrepresented in the media and advertisements.

Opponents of Measure 92 — which would require labeling of foods containing GMO — claim it will cost consumers money. In reality, the labeling will cost very little, about $2.30 per person per year. What could prove costly is if food manufacturers decide to eliminate GMO food from their products to avoid the labels. And, we’re told if we want to avoid GMO foods, we can just buy organic.

The reality is there have been no scientific studies done to show whether GMO foods cause harm to humans. But, there is ample proof that they do result in harm to soil, song birds, bees, and water because of the increased used of chemical pesticides. Buying organic foods for individual households won’t prevent the massive damage that Monsanto’s pesticides used with its GMO seeds do to the environment and to small farmers.

Monsanto and DuPont are throwing millions of dollars against this Measure. They’ve gotten much of the state’s media to agree with them. Given that those media are reaping big bucks in advertising dollars, their reasons for voting against Measure 92 are at best specious. Given the low cost of labeling, which would be added to the existing labeling requirements, you have to ask what Monsanto and DuPont stand to lose if we simply notify consumers what’s in the food they eat.

If you vote in Oregon, vote YES on Measure 92

Proponents of Measure 90, creating a top-two open primary, claim this will give voters more choices. In reality, it will simply make it easier for corporate money to buy elections. Right now, the two-party primary system hurts the smaller third parties the most. When THEY say no, Measure 90 will make things worse, we should listen. Most telling about the impact of Measure 90 is who’s signed on to oppose it including Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, The Oregon Bus Project, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Pacific Green Party of Oregon, and the Oregon Progressive Party.

If you vote in Oregon, vote NO on Measure 90

Given the length of this post, I won’t go into further details about additional measures on the Oregon ballot, except to urge you, if you vote in Oregon, to also vote YES on Measure 88 (drivers’ cards for qualified Oregon residents) and vote YES on Measure 91 (legalizing recreational marijuana).


Banned Books Week: Why Readers Need to Care About Ebook Sellers’ Arbitrary and Capricious Content Guidelines

September 23, 2014

On Dec. 5, 2012 I published “Aunt” Grace.”

On May 11, 2013 I learned that “Aunt” Grace won second place in the National Leather Association: International John Preston Short Story Award for excellence in literary works in SM/leather/fetish writing published in 2012.

On Sept. 3, 2014 my publisher account with All Romance was terminated because of “Aunt” Grace.

A little background: Previously, I had only published my novels and short story collections (including the two that contained “Aunt” Grace) on All Romance. With the loss of Kobo retail outlets in U.K., the death of Sony and Diesel, and Amazon doing everything possible to bury my books, I saw potential for replacing some of these lost sales if I increased what was available at All Romance. I decided to invest more in that market and spent several weeks reformatting all my short stories and resizing all the covers to meet the site’s requirements.

I worked with the publisher relations supervisor to manage some technical difficulties I had in taking advantage of the interface that allowed books published on All Romance to be sold in the iBookstore. Then I received a notice from the Chief Operating Officer, accusing me of violating the site’s content guidelines, specifically regarding “Works which contain incest or pseudo-incest themes for the purpose of titillation” and “Works that are written for or being marketed to the barely legal market.”

The latter accusation was aimed at Jail Bait and Teacher’s Pet. While I admit the blurbs (designed to sell books) toy with the “barely legal” angle, that’s not what the stories are about. They both tell a story of an 18 year old discovering her sexuality, constrained by society’s one-sided, misogynist standards regarding women’s pleasure. (Two Brothers, about two young male virgins, one of the other stories that appears in Young & Eager, never gets banned for violating “barely legal” guidelines, even though the younger brother is only 18. Of course, that one gets criticized because the two brothers are in bed with the same woman and OMG, they might touch each other, even though they don’t.)

Both Jail Bait and Teacher’s Pet and the collection they appear in together are now published on Apple and Kobo, two of the most restrictive markets in terms of prurient content, via Smashwords. From the beginning, the first story was always available for sale on both markets in another collection, further proof that all these “content guidelines” are arbitrary and capricious.

Most of the All Romance COO’s ire appeared to be directed at “Aunt” Grace.” She erroneously claimed it “contains a pseudo-incestuous relationship between Grace and your protagonist, who she refers to and has thought of as a niece.” She terminated my account without warning, removing 60 plus works from two markets because she had a problem with three, forcing me to scramble to reformat everything yet again.

First, pseudo incest is an oxymoron. Incest is sexual intercourse between closely related persons. If people aren’t closely related, there’s no possibility of incest. Pseudo is defined as pretended; false or spurious; sham.

“Aunt” Grace contains no incest, pseudo or otherwise. The characters are two women who became acquainted as young girls because of other people’s marriage and who rediscover their attraction to each other as young adults.

It involves two women who are not legally related. Grace’s mother married the father of the boy who grew up to become Jen’s father long after both Grace and Jen’s father were born. Jen’s father never appears in the book. Jen grew up calling Grace “aunt” because that was required then, even though they weren’t related in any way and weren’t that far apart in age.

The two women always had the hots for each other. Their attraction was constrained more by their families disapproval of their orientation than their “relationship.” In the book, although Jen calls Grace “aunt” out of habit at first, the word “niece” is used only once, and that’s facetiously,
when Grace introduces Jen to her slave.

“Jen, this is my slave, Emma. Gurl, this is my,” Grace cleared her throat, “niece, Jen.”

It’s worded to make it obvious to most readers that Grace does not think of Jen as her niece.

The story is also about Jen fighting against misogyny in her chosen career and prejudice against her sexual orientation. She finds refuge, and a chance to explore BDSM, in Grace’s leather family.

I ran into the same specious objections to “Aunt” Grace at
Kobo and Apple. In both cases, in order to sell this award-winning story, I had to make arbitrary and capricious language changes, changes that eliminated the women’s backstory and reduced the characters’ depth. I also switched the cover to say “Sir Grace” instead of aunt.

This was not the first time my work was banned by All Romance. In 2012, Broken and Shattered were kicked off the site.

I write books as Korin I. Dushayl about the dark side of BDSM, including questionable consent and abuse of power. I’ve redefined them as transgressive because the sex scenes in them often aren’t supposed to be erotic (which doesn’t mean that some people won’t find them arousing). But, if any character exploits another in a story I write, it’s obvious to readers (if not the character themselves) that the relationship is inappropriate at best, criminally damaging at worst. I don’t portray abusive stalkers as romantic heroes.

I’m all for labeling books based on what’s in them so adult readers can choose what they purchase based on their own personal preferences, triggers, and boundaries. One person’s hottest sex scene ever will make another person want to hurl.

However, it is inappropriate and inexcusable for any individual or corporation to make arbitrary and capricious decisions about what other adults get to read.

Further proof that all this hoop jumping is for absolutely no legitimate reason and that so-called “content guidelines” are arbitrary and capricious:

  1. both Apple and Kobo sell the original “Aunt” Grace as part of another collection and no retailer has voiced any objections to that other collection;
  2. as of this writing, Apple still has not accepted Two Brothers for sale from Smashwords even though it was one of four books All Romance neglected to pull and the exact same story is still for sale on Apple via All Romance;
  3. I had to change the title and cover of Young & Eager to get it sold on Kobo even though all four stories within the collection were already for sale individually.
  4. On Amazon, Apple, and Kobo I must call my Family Dynamics collection, Leather Family Dynamics (although at least on Amazon, unlike the other two, I didn’t have to change “Aunt” Grace).
  5. Apple published and then pulled Sir Grace in the space of a few days. I was told I needed to change the category listed from “Romance > Erotica” to “Erotica > Romance” and I’m still waiting for it to be available for sale again. Meanwhile, that version of the story is available for sale on Apple in Leather Family Dynamics.

Arbitrary and capricious? Can anyone deny that?


Even Smashwords admits, in much kinder words, to the arbitrary and capricious application of “guidelines” by Apple. In explaining the reasons why books accepted by Smashwords don’t get distributed to Apple, the site states the process “is performed by humans, and is therefore subject to some inconsistency from time to time. You may also find that things that were okay a year ago are no longer acceptable to them going forward.”

In the midst of all this, Amazon had the unmitigated gall to encourage people to read really old books that had once been banned such as Madame Bovary and The Prince while arbitrarily and capriciously banning current work by numerous erotica authors.

All Romance, Apple, Kobo, and Amazon will continue preventing you from reading books the way they were written — how the author believed was the best way to tell the story, the way you may find entertaining and/or arousing — unless readers protest. The retailers have made it quite obvious they don’t give a rat’s ass about their authors. We’re just content providers and if any single person — on the retailers’ team or a random visitor to their websites — finds our content objectionable, it’s gone.

The only way to change this puritanical attitude that readers have to be protected from evil authors who produce books those readers might want to purchase and consume, is to yell loudly and repeatedly at any retailer that bans books for arbitrary and capricious reasons. Better still, purchase your books from other retailers, or whenever possible from authors and publishers directly, and let the retailers know why.


Do I Pass?

July 29, 2014

I consider myself a trans ally. Depending on how you define “activist,” you might even consider me a trans activist.

I have trans friends, belong to trans support groups, post articles about trans struggles and persecution, bitch slap trans hatred when I can.

Do I PassBut, when I see a “Do I Pass?” post I cringe. Not because of what it means to the poster as much as what it means about what the poster experiences outside “safe” trans space.

Often, in these pictures, I see a very worried face looking back at me. Mostly what I see is a beautiful person desperately seeking acceptance for who they are.

The need to pass grows out of the gender binary — strict definitions of what “men” and “women” should look, sound, and act like.

I could be considered a cisgender woman and I don’t fit within the gender binary. Neither do some of my other cisgender friends. Why in the world must we hold trans people up to a standard that many cisgender people can’t meet (or don’t want to)?

I somewhat identify as the gender I was assigned at birth. If I’m given the choice, I identify my gender as FemDom — put that in your binary where you will. I definitely don’t accept the presentation/constructs assigned by society to the female gender. I’ve been mistaken for a man on the telephone. I choose to use initials rather than a first name, so I am constantly referred to as Mr. and he. I prefer to wear men’s clothing because it’s more comfortable and practical. I don’t wear makeup because it takes too much time and money to do so, especially since I’m allergic to all but the most expensive cosmetics. But, I’m not considered butch because I wear my hair curly to my shoulders and feminine jewelry.

I have trans women friends who are more tomboys than femme. I also have very femme trans women friends who I didn’t realize were trans until they felt comfortable enough with me to confide that fact. I have watched friends transition from male to female and from female to male. And, I’ve seen many of them try too hard to meet artificial binary standards while they were doing so.

If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, how do you find a gender expression that does make you comfortable? Especially in a society that’s so stuck on a binary that it slaughters people who don’t fit on one end or the other?

I remember a few years back I worked as a volunteer checking identification for an excursion. An older woman approached me, dressed in a smart, classic skirt suit. Her hands shook as she handed me the driver’s license that identified her as a man and a letter from her doctor explaining she had a gender identity “disorder.” I wondered how hard she had to consider whether or not she wanted to go on this wonderful expedition because of the pain of dealing with the paperwork. I was just grateful she ended up at my post and not with someone who would have scorned or interrogated her. She was frightened, close to tears, and it wouldn’t have taken much to terrorize her.

The question “Do I pass?” holds disproportionate weight in the transgender community, generating myriad emotions. Some ask because they desperately want to be accepted by their family, their friends, their colleagues, the clerk at the grocery store, as the gender denied them at birth. Some ask because in a society where “trans” is justification for violence, there’s safety in passing. And, some ask because they want confirmation that how they appear to others matches the way they feel inside.

Even a trans person who “passes” 100 percent of the time will occasionally seek a confidence boost by asking. Deep inside, especially if they’re early on the transition journey, they can still fear someone outing them as who they used to be.

But everyone who asks the question “Do I pass?” shares an insecurity that they don’t.

How do those of us who are trans allies, activists, and even those trans men and women more secure in their gender presentation respond to the question “Do I pass”?

Let’s start by not holding trans men and women up to a standard many cis women and men can’t meet. Let’s not allow artificial standards of beauty, that almost no one can achieve without Photoshop assistance, prevent us from seeing the allure in anyone who doesn’t attain them. Let’s not confuse gender identity with gender expression and force people into a binary that prevents them from being themselves.

But, most importantly, let’s remember it really isn’t any of our business whether or not someone is trans unless they choose to share that information with us. If someone tells you they are a woman or a man, just accept that, even if they don’t dress, talk, or act like you think a woman or man should. And, if you mistakenly address that woman with a deep voice as “Sir” or the man with breasts as Ma’am and they inform you that you’ve misgendered them, just apologize and don’t make the same mistake again. Nothing else required.


Forced Pregnancy Movement

June 19, 2014

Let’s call a spade a spade and stop granting the right-wing, evangelical, misogynists their self-preferred, and totally erroneous, title of “pro life.”

You can’t claim “pro life” if you spend time, money, and energy fighting to prevent people from getting life-saving medical care resulting in thousands of deaths each year.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you actively try to eliminate one of the best, proven methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions: fact-based sex education in schools.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you campaign against allowing womGynoticianen access to the most significant abortion prevention option: contraceptives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t work to provide pre-natal care for women so they can deliver healthy babies.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you argue against paid family medical leave that allows parents to care for their children when they’re newborns, sick, or injured.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you advocate cutting programs to feed, clothe, house, and educate those children you force into this world.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you justify laws that prevent same-sex couples from adopting the children you forced into the world then abandoned, preventing them from having a stable home because (and only because) homosexuality squicks you out.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t support realistic minimum-wage laws that would eliminate the oxymoron “working poor” — poverty kills.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you refuse to take action to prevent the slaughter of children and other innocents and keep it legal for any idiot, criminal, and nut job to carry automatic weapons and enough ammunition to take out a municipal police force into schools, theaters, restaurants, etc.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you promote “Stand Your Ground,” police brutality, urban warfare, rape culture, and trans hatred — all of which cost people their lives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you favor the death penalty.

In short, you can’t claim “pro life” if the only thing you do to “protect” life is use lies, outrageous and unnecessary procedures, and inappropriate clinic-closing regulations to stop women from terminating pregnancy … even when it means their lives are at risk, even if the fathers are rapists, even if they’re brain dead, even if the fetuses probably won’t survive.

If that’s all you do you, aren’t “pro life,” you’re a hypocrite who is part of the forced-pregnancy movement which only has the one goal of coercing women to deliver babies, babies you don’t give a rat’s ass about once they’re born.

So, if you’re pro-choice, pro-women, pro-freedom please stop using the term “pro-life” to describe members of the forced-pregnancy movement.


Coffee Shop as Office

April 29, 2014

Once again I recently walked out of a tea/coffee shop without making a purchase because every single table was occupied by individuals with computers using the business as their personal office space.

I just wanCoffee Shop as Officeted to sit for half an hour and enjoy a cuppa and maybe a snack, depending on what the food options were. Since this was a new-to-me-establishment, I had not yet had a chance to check out the menu. I didn’t bother. I won’t go back.

I understand that some people don’t have a convenient place they can work, write, or do homework. I know there are others who find the environment of a busy coffee shop inspiring. I understand that some businesses don’t want to alienate “customers” by setting a time limit on how long they can hog a table.

And, if they mostly rely on takeout customers who grab a cuppa and run off, it may be a viable business plan.

But, how many potential customers like me are driven away each day because the tables are monopolized by those who purchase one beverage and stay for hours upon hours? How much money is the establishment losing to those who allow it to pay their overhead and provide them a free place to work? (And, no, even a $5 cup of coffee is not appropriate “rent” on table space for more than half an hour.)

In reality, these people do have other options: the public library, student facilities, their own damned bedrooms, a corner of the sofa in their living room, their hotel room when they’re traveling. I’ve worked, written, and done homework in them all.

Whatever excuses given for the “need” to work in coffee shops, the reality is those who do so are parasites. The business pays for the electricity that powers their laptop and their phones, the rent on the space they’re occupying, the water they use in the restroom. The establishment purchased the table they pile their books/reference material on, the chair their ass occupies and the one they put their backpack on to prevent anyone else from sitting at “their” table.

All the shop owners get in exchange is the sale of one measly cup of coffee and maybe, if they’re lucky, a sandwich.

Why has this become an acceptable practice?

I will not pretend I have never written words in a coffee shop. (And, I did write a story in which the character did so regularly, but that was fiction.) I occasionally attend write-ins to socialize with other authors and write in tandem for a few hours. But these are rare events and I always try to purchase more than one item. We’re also half a dozen writers occupying six seats not one writer monopolizing two or more. And, when I can, I encourage the scheduling of them at hours when business is slow and no one else would be using the space.

The particular day mentioned at the beginning of this post, the shop was our last stop. We went home and Patrick made me a pot of tea and heated up some coffee for himself. I worked on my computer while enjoying my rooibos, in the space I own, where I pay the bills, at a desk I bought, sitting in a chair I purchased. But, I put fewer dollars out into the community and perhaps missed an opportunity to try a tea I’ve never tasted before. Plus, a business that has been on my I-want-to-check-it-out list lost its spot without an opportunity to win me as a regular customer.


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