Carnival of Aces August 2017: “Post-Fact” and “Alternative Science”

[This is my post of the Carnival of Aces for August 2017 hosted this month by Asexual Research. The topic this month is “Asexuality and Academia“]

I really shouldn’t have struggled with this topic as much as I have since I’m a) asexual and b) a student. For my post I’m going to write my reaction to This Article titled “In Post-Fact America, Alternative Scientists Put Belief Ahead Of Fact” by secondnexus.com.  I originally saw a link to the article on twitter.

My biggest issue with the article is this part-

“…this alternative science — that is, science based solely on opinion supported by no evidence or proof — is gaining influence and demanding equal access.”

“Science” that is not based on evidence or proof is NOT science and should not be called as such. The article is both criticizing and legitimizing pseudoscience by calling it “science” and its practitioners “scientists”. My concern is that media outlets are, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing “alternative-facts” and a “post-fact reality” by how they talk about them.

My favorite movie of all time is Denial (2016), a courtroom drama based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt. It’s not really a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with post-fact individuals… actually, I’m going to do like they do in the film and call them what they are: liars. The film isn’t a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with liars and falsifiers, but it presents the problem in a “dragons can be beaten” kind of way which is something that I need on occasion.

Liars have it easy. The common man isn’t going to take the time to fact check, especially if there’s a grain of truth to what is being said. It takes tremendous time and effort to get to the bottom something. Researching is a learned skill and it’s not a skill I personally learned easily or willingly to be honest. I hated doing research for classwork because the emphasis was on the process, not the necessity. 

I realized research was a necessary skill when I had to sign my own medical consent form for the first time and the form said in plain text, “Medicine is not an exact science.” I looked at the receptionist and asked, “What do you mean ‘medicine is not an exact science’? Shouldn’t it be the oldest and the most exact science there is?” It’s no wonder that shortly afterward that I discovered asexuality by doing my own digging. I realized that I needed to seek out information relative to me. I had to start asking my own questions without relying on the answers being spoon fed. Research became necessary.

Unfortunately there is so little research about asexuality. 1% might not sound like a lot, but redheads (like me) make up about 2% of the world population and there are some very important, medically relevant quirks doctors need to consider when treating a red haired person. It really sucks when I’m in the middle of a dental treatment and the Novocaine is starting to wear off.

I’m worried that media outlets are fueling the “alternative-fact” mindset. I’m worried this will hinder asexual awareness efforts. I need asexuality to be taken seriously for my own health and sanity, but I have to wonder if the truth of asexuality is enough to compete against the much louder, more controversial, and perhaps more news worthy beliefs of liars and falsifiers. I also have to wonder, do they outnumber us?

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Eat Your Checkbook, It’s Safer (Rant About Gold Supplements)

[I was totally going to do Carnival of Aces this month, but then writer’s block hit me hard so here’s a rant]

My coworker thinks the Earth is flat. I’m not saying that automatically invalidates every point he is ever going to make, but the world isn’t flat. Having a healthy dose of skepticism isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing to question something you grew up knowing as “common sense”.

I grew up in a place where people drive on the right side of the road. Here that’s just common sense, but that’s not true everywhere and if I don’t accept that in some places people drive on the left side of the road it could potentially be a dangerous situation. There is a point, however, when skepticism is unhealthy. How do we really know the world isn’t flat? You know, besides the 20 plus world space agencies  that say so. We’ve been able to prove mathematically that the world is a globe shape for centuries. So I personally know that the world is a globe because the math checks out.

Anywho, back to my flat-earthing coworker. How do you convince somebody who is beyond convincing? Basically, you can’t. I’m not worried about my coworker, I’m worried about people who take him seriously. The latest thing my coworker is caught up on is gold supplements. Worst he got my supervisor talking about it.

Usually when I’m faced with something I know is B.S. I start asking basic questions. 1) What is it? and 2) What does it do? The basic idea is that by ingesting gold, which is highly conductive, that it helps mental function because the body is a bunch of electrical pathways.

Okay, there’s quite a bit to unpack here and I’m convinced I’m the only person in my home town who didn’t sleep through freshman biology. The only “true” thing in this golden-baloney is that, yes, gold is a better conductor than copper. And that’s about it.

The body isn’t built like an electrical grid so upgrading conductive metals isn’t going to “fix” anything.

Gold is a heavy metal and thus isn’t digestible in a supplement form. Supplements are tricky because you can’t just take them and expect magic to happen. Calcium supplements, for example, need to be taken with food or else the body can’t absorb it. There are foods that  hinder or block the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Wouldn’t it suck to take your daily vitamin only to eat something later that blocks it? Grapefruits are on a lot of “do not eat” lists if you’re taking certain medication. So, if you take gold supplements, you’re just going to end up shitting gold.

So, the body can’t even absorb the gold which might be a good thing because I did a quick search for the list of heavy metals commonly found in the human body. Guess what wasn’t on the list. There is more tin in the human body than gold. There is more lead in the human body than gold, but you don’t see doctors prescribing lead supplements. These are trace elements (meaning extremely small amounts) that the body needs to function. That doesn’t mean you can just pick up any old metal and start chowing down. The majority of vitamins and minerals we need we get from food. Anytime I need a little extra iron in my diet I eat some broccoli or some leafy greens. Even I can throw a simple stir fry together.

I can’t convince my coworker that the world isn’t flat, so I probably can’t convince him that eating gold is about as stupid as it sounds. What I can do is ask the right questions and suggest that anyone who wants to start taking gold supplements are probably better off just eating their checkbook.

At least the checkbook might have a little extra fiber in it.

 

Non-binary and Periods

As much as I hate acknowledging that I’m biologically female, and thus considered by many the “weaker sex”,  I feel like writing (much to my discomfort) about the subject of mensuration. Since the subject is rather squicky, I won’t be offended if anyone wants to skip over this post. I’ll be posting a CoA post in the next two weeks or so.

Continue reading “Non-binary and Periods”

My “Weird” Taste in Music

Yesterday work was a little chaotic. We had two call-ins and a coworker was injured and had to be sent home. It was “fun”. For the last hour since we were closed and there weren’t any families with young ears shopping near by I turned on my phone’s play list. My taste in music is a little “unusual” since most of my tastes lean towards the 100-200 year old range because there are oldies and then there are oldies.

A perfect example is “Finnegan’s Wake” which is an Irish ballad that was the inspiration for a novel by James Joyce by the same name. For me that’s a “fun fact” for most other people it’s “what the hell/why should I care?”. It also freaks people out when I say that I’m indifferent about music in general. I don’t have a favorite song. The music I listen to tends to be narrative. For me it’s more of a case of I don’t have time to read a short story or novel on my break, but I can listen to a two-three minute song/ballad and I’m generally not going to find these songs on the radio.

Sometimes an older song sneaks into pop culture. I had a lot of fun telling my coworker that “Whiskey in the Jar” is an old Irish song, not a Metallica original. I have a whole CD of modern artists covering pirate and sea songs in their own style and it’s one of my favorites. I can’t listen to it at work because some of the songs are NOT family friendly and it’s not labeled as such, but I guess they expect people to know that pirate songs will contain some sailor worthy expletives.

My taste in music actually makes a lot sense when you consider that I’m an aromantic-asexual. The Top 100 Billboard songs will generally stick to a classic, yet very profitable theme. There’s nothing wrong with having love as a theme. I just prefer my love songs to have fermented for a couple of decades first. I’ll also lean more towards Celtic traditional songs as a nod to my ancestry. Why listen to a big label driven love song when I can listen to songs about battles, shipwrecks, smuggler stills, and history.

One song I stumbled upon recently is called “Viva La Quinte Brigada” by Christy Moore. It’s about a group of Irish volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) which was something I didn’t know about until I looked up the song’s history. I like learning little bits of history like that. My dream job is a historical fiction screenwriter and those bits of history would be my focus. I crack myself up thinking about how the big trend right now is shared universe movies like what Marvel did and what DC and Star Wars is trying to do. Historical fiction is naturally a shared universe without even trying. 

I took one screen writing class as treat to myself and my classmates were very enthusiastic about my ideas and were like “Why isn’t this a movie yet?”. Well, I still have to make a living and pay rent so that’s why I haven’t written it. Then there’s the whole mess of Hollywood and TV being very tight-knit businesses to the point that unless you know somebody who knows somebody you’re not going to get anywhere. Producers get hundreds of scrips a day and while I might think a historical film about an obscure history reference is the coolest thing ever, the underpaid script monkey that has to read all the crap that comes in might not think so.

Another struggle is research. Personally, I don’t like doing research. It’s one thing to hear a “new” song I like and type the lyrics into Google or look at a wikipedia page, but actual historical research is super boring and difficult because you have to find first and second sources, look up historical documents, read diaries, and if your historical documents aren’t in English then you have to hire a translator and it just gets time consuming and expensive really fast. Once I take all that into consideration I usually just decide the world doesn’t need a movie; Somebody already when to the trouble of recording a song so why mess with perfection?

Carnival of Aces July 2017: Barriers to Off-Line Ace Meet-ups

Hi folks! This is my post for the July Carnival of Aces hosted this month by the Asexuality Archive under the topic of “Ace-ing it up Offline”. I decided to write about barriers that I’ve personally run into when it comes to meeting aces Offline.

Barrier #1: Location, Location, Location:

I live in a small city in Texas. I pass SIX churches on my 8 mile drive to work everyday. People in my area still can’t even say the word “gay” like it’s a swear word or something. My closest major city is San Antonio which for me is a 40 minute drive (we count distance in time in Texas because it’s makes the drive seem shorter and that’s going 5-10 miles over the speed limit like we do). I haven’t been able to find any info about meet ups in San Antonio because when you look up “aces in San Antionio” on Google it takes you to the local community colleges website which is called the “ACES portal” so not helpful.

According to Google there’s a pretty good Ace presence in Austin which is an hour and a half drive away and in Houston which is three and a half hours away, but then we run into the next barrier-

Barrier #2: Time and Money:

I don’t work a 9-5 job. I work part-time at a grocery and because it’s summer time we lost all our labor hours, but despite all that I’m still working 40+ hours a week! Somebody called in on Tuesday and my supervisor asked everyone and their mother if ANYONE was willing to stay. Even though everybody says they want more hours they’re not willing to work for it when we need it. I was already scheduled 40 hours this week, but I was the only one willing to stay so I worked 12 hours on Tuesday. Friday rolls around and I finished all the work in my section and as much fun as it is to get paid to stand around and do nothing, I asked my super if I could leave early since I was over hours from Tuesday. Literally one minute before I’m about to clock out my supervisor calls me and asks if I can stay because apparently one of our new employees (chick hadn’t even been there two weeks) had just quit on the spot. So, I end up working 11 hours on Friday.

You’d think with all this overtime I’m working, and remember I’m just a “part-time” employee so I should only be getting 30 hours a week, I should be rolling in money. I go to check my account so I can pull some cash to go on a pub-run with my coworkers (because this Friday I needed it) and I have $12.80. So, no Pub-run. I can’t pull from savings because my car needs new tires this month, plus I already owe over 700 dollars on my credit card. I get paid well above minimum wage, but clearly it’s not a living wage.

What all the hell am I buying? Bills. Food. I like a hot lunch and why reheat rice&beans when I could just steam a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave (2.65 plus employee discount) or have a nice hot bowl of soup (2.99 plus employee discount). My personal favorite is the single oatmeal cups (99 cents) because I like to toss in some trail mix (45-80 cents). I’m having flashbacks to Les Miserables “All the bits and pieces/Jesus, it’s amazing how it grows!”

Barrier #3: Making a Connection

One of my friends from high school is aro-ace like me! How amazing is that? Think of the odds. We share the same awkward “what’s wrong with me?” “Am I broken?” “What’s an ace?” experience. I was the one who blurted “I think I’m asexual” and she said “me too” so we should totally be besties hands down, right? Yeah, not what happened. I actually don’t really know what happened other than we had our own crap to deal with and lost touch. I’ve talked to her maybe twice since I came back to Texas. It sucks, but the reality might be I’m just not enough or the right kind of support she needs right now. If I had to make a guess I would say that it’s because she’s black and I have the genetic diversity of Wonderbread. It doesn’t mean I’m not a great person, it doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common, but I will never be stopped by a cop and fear for my life or freedom. I trust that she knows what she needs in her support network and I’m not going to be offended if I don’t fit those needs. Sometimes people just can’t connect or the connection doesn’t hold up when people change.

I personally have a hard time connecting to people under the age of 25. I run into this problem when I’m online too. Sometimes I just want to vent or I need emotional support over a topic that a younger person hasn’t had to deal with yet. For example my parents are having marriage problems. That means something completely different when you’re closer to 30 than it does when you’re still a teenager. It would be nice to talk about it over a (as in singular) beer and some nachos because I have work at 6AM the next day. I really like talking to my older coworkers because we’re all going though similar experiences and it’s nice to have that “is this normal?”/”oh, yeah. Me too,” conversations.

Honestly, being ace is old news to me now and it gets kind of tiring hearing the same conversation of “Last year/month/week I realized I was ace because…and my family reacted like…” Now I need the conversation, “I’ve identified as ace for X amount of years…” and then what? I want to connect with other aces offline, but emotionally I need to connect with other adults more.

Preferably somewhere less than an hour away with a budget under 20 dollars and I can’t stay too late because I (more than likely) have work the next day.

Well, Sh*t…

I wish I had older friends. A lot of people I associate with at work and elsewhere are all under the age of 25 and a good chunk of the time I feel like I’m left hanging. For example my coworkers want to do a pub crawl on Friday and kindly invited me, but today shit went to hell and reminded me I have a life that needs dealing with. Unfortunately no amount of greasy food and alcohol is going to change that and I’d rather not be strapped for cash later. It would be nice to have people around me who understood that.

My day started out pretty usual. I went to work after only about four hours of sleep which turned out to be a blessing. For the most part I was too tired to snark at people and the cheese I had to peddle was a stupidly easy sell. I sign and everything so I only needed to say about two words total to people. I could just lean against my table and relax. Time went agonizingly slow, but all in all it wasn’t the worst of shifts.

Then I got home. I should have been suspicious when my dad texted me asking if I could pick up his usual beer. Turns out my dad’s mom had died today. She had been in hospice for over a week so they knew it was coming, but he can’t fly up for the funeral and help his brother deal with things because there are no flights no where that he can afford. If he was going to drive he would have needed to have left today, but he couldn’t because our house issues have erupted as well. As far as I know my dad had a meltdown, my mom had a meltdown and left this morning and she hasn’t been back since (currently night), and there’s really not a whole heck of a lot I can do about.

My mom is depressed. We know she’s depressed, but we can’t talk her into getting help for it. If we push or bring up the subject she just reacts even worse and my dad gets the brunt of it. From my point of view the situation isn’t great for the both of them, but I’m not a child in the middle of it. I’m an adult and part of that is I understand that I have no say in how my parents do things. It would be different if I were still a kid, because then they would have the parental obligation to put my needs first, but now if I need or want something I can get it myself. If I want therapy, my job benefits covers 3 visits per issue. I’m still a student so I have college resources. I have my own doctor who can make a referral and my own insurance. The only things I don’t have are a house and a car. I rent both from my parents, but it’s more like I’m getting a REALLY good discount since I do have to budget and pay for rent and maintenance.

The situation with my parents doesn’t make me feel helpless. Right now I feel more numb to the situation than anything. It’s like if someone came up to me at work and asked were an item was in a different part of the store. I do my best to point them in the right direction with what I know, but deep down my standard response is “Not my department”. Right now I feel like the situation with my parents is the same. It matters, and it affects me, but it’s not about me because it’s on them. Maybe once they get their own crap in some semblance of order I can find the time to sit down an grieve because I was told today that my grandmother died and that somehow got pushed down to the bottom of my shit-list.

Carnival of Aces June 2017: Here’s Why I Don’t Do “Asexuality 101”

The short answer is because I live in Texas. Texas still does “abstinence only” for sex ed and that stupid “Bathroom Bill” is still making headlines. I don’t generally talk about asexuality in my everyday life. I’m proud to be asexual. I have ace art on my walls, collect ace patches and stickers, and 90% of my wardrobe is ace colors. But I don’t talk about it because it’s exhausting when every conversation I have about asexuality turns into “Asexuality 101”

Since last March almost all of my weekends I’ve been doing what my job calls “demo”. Basically I put on glittery make-up (yuck), flutter my eyelashes for all their worth and try to talk people into buying  really expensive imported cheeses. Unfortunately for me I’m very good at it. It’s that communication’s degree finally working for me. One of my coworkers has complained that he’s bought cheese every weekend since I’ve started doing it (mwahaha). My job is to convince people that a) this not only the best cheese they’ve ever had in their life, but b) it’s definitely worth the sixteen-seventeen dollars per pound they’re about to spend on it only to let it sit in the refrigerator until it goes bad, and then I get to do it all over again next week. My coworker says he still has three different cheeses sitting in his freezer that he’s bought from me. ;-]

What makes me so good at my job is I know I’m not going to be able convince everyone to buy this cheese. I’m not even going to be able to convince half of the people who take a sample to buy this cheese. I would say a good 90-99% of the time by the time someone reaches my station they’ve already made up their mind that they’re either a) Not going to buy the cheese and they just want the free sample or b) They already buy cheese every week regardless whether or not I’m giving out samples. There’s no way I’m going to change these peoples minds and it’s not even my job to change these people’s minds. My job is to persuade the tiny number of less than 10% of people who haven’t made up their mind yet. Sometimes they buy cheese, sometimes they don’t, but my boss says I’m the one most qualified, experienced, and skilled to convince them.

Whenever I end up talking about asexuality it’s the same thing; I’m either already talking to someone who already knows about asexuality and they’re talking about their personal experience or I’m talking to someone who just wants everyone to be happy and in love like a Disney princess. Both of these groups have already made up their mind/opinion and it’s going take an act of heaven to get them to change their minds either way. It’s very rarely that I’ll find someone on the fence about any topic actually. The flat-Earth theorist coworker has already made up his mind. The peta-propaganda-peddling vegan that also works at my deli has already made up his mind. They are going to pick and choose the facts that support their preexisting biases and ignore facts and circumstances that might disprove those biases. This nasty habit of ignoring facts is called, “confirmation bias” and once again all that college is finally paying off.

My Best Example of Confirmation Bias: I have Never. Dated. Anyone. Ever. in my 27 years of living. My parents are still somehow convinced that I “just haven’t found the right one” yet. Obviously they just want all their children to be happy and healthy even if that means ignoring facts and circumstances that might suggest that happiness might not look the same for everyone. My version of “happiness” isn’t going to be featured in a Disney and/or Hollywood movie anytime soon.

When it comes to spreading awareness and asexual education, the individual level just isn’t very effective. Advocacy groups are going to have more power. By banning together, showing strength in numbers, and reaching out to ally groups, that’s how change is going to happen. I hate to say it, but we need to find a way to “normalize” asexuality if we want to spread awareness. Instead of having one or two shows with a token ace character, we need ten shows with multiple ace characters. We need books, articles, news stories. But to do that we need more organizations. AVEN is the one everybody knows, but we need more than that and we need them to be as equally well known. We need groups and we need people willing to lead those groups and be willing to sacrifice personal time and their personal lives to the cause. The individual ace isn’t enough.