Friday, May 30, 2008

Fried Bread And Circuses

The thing about obesity and the news is that it has become a very simple story and as soon as story is simple, it is retold on a near daily basis. Obesity is a public health concern, both in the UK and worldwide. It greatly increases a person's risk of serious, debilitating and life-limiting diseases. In people with impairments, it can exacerbate symptoms like pain and breathing difficulties.

But it shouldn't worry us any more than smoking, for example; a greater proportion of people smoke than are clinically obese and both are said to take an average of ten years off your life expectancy. As with smokers, obese people frequently live most of their lives in excellent health and some will see old age (they might not see their feet, but that's another matter).

Bacchus knew how to enjoy himselfAnd yes, it is all a bit funny. Bodies are funny; wobbly bits and bony bits, floppily doppily and firm bits. Whilst it is possible to joke about breasts without insulting women, or to joke about impairments or disability paraphrenalia without insulting disabled people, we haven't fully mastered the same with weight. I don't suppose I have either; whenever I see the phrase Obesity TimebombI have visions of Mr Creosote exploding at the end of The Life of Brian*.

And yet this issue which is only slightly more serious than we're all different shapes and sizes and thank goodness none of us are going hungry has become a moral panic.

Some months ago, I was amazed to read Obesity 'as bad as climate risk' Then last week I read Obese blamed for the world's ills, in which obese people were held responsible for the aforementioned climate change.

The first is such fantastic nonsense it is hardly worth refuting. It is a bit like arguing that the ice caps aren't melting, but we're all getting so heavy that the land is sinking. Climate Change could mean that the surface of this planet becomes inhospitable to human life and our species (among others) dies out. End of civilisation, end of humanity. Failing that, things could get extraordinariy bad, billions of people could suffer and die and our natural environment is changing dramatically in a relatively short space of time. Climate Change is bad news - bad news we still have much control over - but really very bad news if ignored. There is absolutely no way in which that can compare to obesity, not in any terms.

Meanwhile, there are about 300 million obese people in the world, as opposed to 850 million hungry people - and by the way, not having enough food kills you much much quicker than eating too much. The most serious effects of obesity don't tend to strike until middle age; many thousands of children starve to death every year, to say nothing of those who survive wth the consequences of chronic malnutrition.

So hunger is a much bigger problem than obesity. In fact, I reckon I could write a very lengthy list of problems which are more significant globally, and a pretty long list of more pressing but far more awkward public health concerns here in the UK. In any case, obesity isn't even taking a dent in our life-expectancy, which continues to go up and up.

The second article really took the biscuit (if reluctantly; it claimed to be on a diet). The article asserts than an obese person needs one and fifth of average calorific consumption, that is a fifth extra food and thus contributing more greatly to the global food shortage. Well, fair enough, but in the UK we throw a third of all the food we buy away. And of course, obesity is a disease associated with poverty – poor people don't buy any food that's going to get wasted; middle class people do and are thus wasting far more than your fatty is eating. So maybe middle-class people (who fly more, drive much further with bigger cars and undoubtedly buy more useless stuff) are actually responsible for the world's ills. Try publishing that theory.

(I don't believe that, by the way, but it would make more sense).

But like I say, the story is simple. Despite the fact that obesity has increased massively in recent years, it is still understood to be a problem with individuals, lifestyle choices. Easily identifiable individuals, we imagine. And it's those old-fashioned sins of gluttony and sloth that are to blame, never anything more complicated than a lack of will-power.

Trickier to consider why this is happening, to look at class, gender and ethnicity, to consider what it is about our society, the built environment and social policy which has heralded this change. Even more tricky to consider whether the media's obsession with food, the attempts to make a morality out of what we put in our mouths might be contributing to this. A morality nothing to do with the human or environmental cost of our consumption, but how many calories is in a thing. Rather like sex, morality only applies to food where one's choices effect other people. However, rather like sex, if you declare something harmless and pleasurable to be naughty, people want it all the more. This isn't why people are obese, but what if it were part of a complex problem?

And if it were, would politicians and the media not be forced to talk about something that mattered a great deal more?

* I read about so many timebombs, it's a wonder we can hear ourselves think for the ticking. My favourite I saw recently suggested that Middle England is sitting astride an alcohol timebomb. Sitting astride it? Oh dear.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

An appointment with pain

I had a full hour way for my appointment with the Pain Specialist, so I played spot the pain in the waiting room; most people attended the clinic accompanied by someone, so I was guessing which of any given couple was a patient there. You should be completely unsurprised by the fact that I had no idea so long as they were all sat-down, although I did suspect that the other wheelchair-user, who was visably wincing every now and again and took some pills at one point, just might have been less comfortable than her partner or friend who wore running shoes and a London Marathon t-shirt. Although you never can tell.

Oh, at one point I went to the loo and they had a toilet that flushed when you waved at it – you have to understand that I don't get out much and this was incredibly exciting. But then I picked up a glossy magazine about Weddings and proceeded to sleep through the rest of our wait.

I fell everso slightly in love with the Pain Specialist. She happened to be an extraordinarily attractive woman but she was also one of these excellent doctors who talk to you as if you are two experts conferring about a problem; she is an expert in medicine and I am an expert in my condition (or at the very least, the way it is for me). We talked about different drug options, which was a tremendous relief; turns out there are loads of different ways of doing this. I mean, all the drugs are pretty icky, but there are degrees of ickiness and ways of taking the same drug which could reduce side-effects and the risk of addiction or tolerance.

I can just about live with the side-effects*, addiction would only become an issue if I experienced a significant remission, but tolerance frightens me.

We even talked about methadone, which shocked me somewhat. But of course the whole point about methadone's use in heroine addiction is that it shouldn't get you high and you shouldn't build a tolerance to it. Unfortunately, it is a controlled substance which stays in your system a very long time and the doctor had the not unreasonable expectation that a twenty-seven year old might want to have babies and/ or travel the world at some future date, whatever her current protestations.

Anyway, upshot is that I'll hopefully be able to get something which is slower-releasing, perhaps even a patch (a patch would be so cool – no more pills, no drug-induced ups and downs - imagine!). Meanwhile, I've been given some exercise sheets (more yoga, basically) and set on a project to research how I might take the strain off the particular muscle which hurts the most.

Promise I won't write any more about pain or life with the Dreaded Lurgy for at least a few weeks. Your patience is appreciated.

* Although I am getting rather sick of my current diet of bran flakes for breakfast, salad for lunch and bran flakes for tea, with lots of fruit, yoghurt and the like in between. Especially as I have to take laxatives on top of that. But that's the last time I'm going to allude to my digestive system on here for a long time too, hopefully ever.

Friday, May 16, 2008

An O. K. Computer

I'm writing this on my new computer! You may remember talk of a new computer about one year ago. Well, I finally got one. It is not a MacBook. In fact I had the following exchange with my sister's friend who became interested in our conversation:

“Is it a Mac?”
“No,” I say, “It's made by a company called Asus and it runs on Linux.”
“What the hell is Linux?” he demands.
“Linux is a family of open-source operating systems, named after the programmer Linus Torvaldes who was Finish or Swedish, or possibly a Peanuts character.”
“Oh,” he says, disdainfully, “Well if it's not a Mac...”
“Basically, Linux is what all the cool kids are using now.”
A shriek. “What?!”
“I'm afraid so.”
“But everyone in Starbucks has MacBooks!”

It is true that all the grooviest people are using Linux, at least my homies Vic and Mr Bunny are and they are two of the hippest cats I know. If you imagine those Mac adverts with Robert Webb representing Apple, David Mitchell representing Microsoft (although in fairness he doesn't), well if Linux was to be represented, it would be by Jimi Hendrix walking on and doing something like this. But since David Mitchell really represented all PCs, I guess my new computer is David Mitchell - but come on, he's the one we all fancy if we're honest with ourselves.

Of courseIwas far more concerned about the fact that it was the cheapest, lightest most shock-proof computer I could find with a word-processor and a wireless card. And the most exciting bit is the aforementioned word-processor which actually saves to disk and I can use the same machine to go on-line. Otherwise I just have the guilt that tends to accompany new toys, which I have to combat with the knowledge that it's reThe Asus Eee PC compared to The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milneally a new tool and one I've been struggling without for a long time.

It is very diddy, about the same size as The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh, so a bit bigger than a bible but smaller than a dictionary. As a result, the small keyboard takes some getting used to, but I would say I have average dexterity and I've just about got the hang of it (it's not like one of those raspberry devices where you have to cut your fingernails to a point to hit one key at a time). And it works. And it saves files to disk. Amazing!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Assuming the Recovery Position

A couple of tulips in fiery coloursPredictably enough, I have been fantastically tired and I'm sure there are still a few BADD posts I haven't read properly yet. However, I reckon this was the best year ever as far as quality was concerned. Thanks again to everyone who contributed or helped in any way. Some people did absolutely loads - you know who you are - but everyone who chirped up to point out a typo in my code made a big difference (especially to whoever's link I had botched).

Once again, I didn't have a chance to post anything myself - although unlike last year, I might have got my post finished in time if I was just a tad better organised. Between now and this time next year, I intend to build a robot who can put all the links together for me. That or figure out some javascript to automate the archive.

In other news, summer has properly arrived and I realise that I didn't fix any of the holes and torn seams in my summer clothes before putting them away for the winter. So I have a wee bit of sewing to do.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2008Welcome to Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008!

Thanks very much to everyone who helped to spread the word, to those who have been blogging and commenting and to everyone who has come to read the contributions.

Because the archive (below) tends to get very large, this year, I asked other bloggers to link to posts of particular note at their own blogs in order to increase traffic (and to take some of the pressure of me compiling the archive at super-sonic speed).

Lady Bracknell has published three posts reviewing her favourites BADD posts here:
Favourites so far
Still reading: More BADD top picks and
And still they come: yet more BADD highlights

Other round-ups include
Urbania to Stoneheads:BADD: The best of...
Elaine Vignealt: The Bloggging Against Disablism Round-up
Disability Studies, Temple U: BADD, Skimmed and Overheard
This is My Blog: Blogs of Note
The Beauty Offensive:A Little Further and a Tentative Suggestion
Cherylberyl: Some Meanderings About BADD & BADD 2008 Disaboom Directory
Lovely and Amazing: BADD Grand Rounds
Moving Right Along: b-b-b-b-b-b-BADD, BADD to the bonee

Both Seahorse and Rachcreative included some of their favourite blogs in their BADD entries
< href="">here and here. I know I've seen other lists too, but someone will have to remind me where!

Please point out if I make any mistakes - and thanks very much to everyone who has so far.

Blogging Against Disablism 2008

(Disability discrimination in the workplace, recruitment issues and unemployment).

The Angry Gimp: I'm BAD and I'm ANGRY
Never That Easy: A BADD post for you
No Quarter Asked or Given: Blog Against Disablism Day.
She Speaks: Blogging Against Disablism

(Attitudes and practical issues effecting disabled people and the discussion of disability in education, from preschool to university and workplace training.)

Big Noise: Knowledge (Not Reading) is Fundamental

Chanelle and Tristan: Blogging Against Disablism Day.
The secret diary of Lignamorren - Scott: Blogging Against Disabism Day 2008
E. is for Epilepsy: To Bell the Cat
Enda P. Guinan: Wheeling in Second Life
Equal not Special: When the rubber hits the road
Has he always been like that?: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Parenting Special Needs Children: Inclusion and the Myth of the Magical Mainstream
Remembering the Ability in Disability: Attention Authorities!
Schooling Inequality: He was disabled when the umpire called him out.
SpeEdChange: May Day: Retard Theory
Through Blind Eyes: Sorry, you're too disabled.
Whatever to us: Blogging Against Disablism Day

Other Access Issues
(Posts about any kind of access issue in the built environment, shops, services and various organisations. By "access issues" I mean anything which enables or disenables a person from doing what everyone else is able to do.)

Cripchick's Weblog: The terp from hellll
Everyone else has a blog: BADD or Why I hate Routemasters
OOK!: Persistence
Pitt Rehab: Blogging Against Disablism
quirkiest? mais oui!: Blogging Against Disablism Day
RADAR: The Disability Network: The Little Things
This is My Blog: Different but Equal
Trouble is a state of mind: A Place to Call Home
Willendorf: Gimp Militia, Ladies Auxillary Reporting.

Definition and Analysis of Disablism/ Ableism

Abnormal Diversity: Reverse Discrimination
Jayangel: Blog Against Disablism
Sunny Dreamer: Everyone has a disability of some sort
Wheelchair Catholic: Don't Enable and Ableist.

The Language of Disablism

(Posts about the language which surrounds disability and the way that it may empower or disempower us.)

Andrea's Buzzing About: BADD, but not rude
a dozen a dime blog: Retarded
The Garden of Nna Moy: Self-fulfilling prophecies
Lisy Babe's Blog: Disablism vs. Ableism
Search for Meaning: "They"
Sweet Perdition: Ubisoft pulls MindQuiz: why are some gamers so angry?
Wheelchair Dancer: Making an Argument: Disability and Language

Disablism Interacting with Other 'Isms'
(Posts about the way in which various discriminations interact; the way that the prejudice experienced as a disabled person may be compounded by race, gender, age, sexuality etc..)

RadioClare: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Smite Me: Sexism and Personality Disorder Diagnoses

Disablism in Literature, Culture and the Media

Cactus Soup: Community
Cherylberyl: Tiny Tims and Supercrips
Fluttertongue: BADD
Fridawrites: Invisible People or Compare and Contrast: WiMPS and GIMPS
An Ordinary Life: The Day Today...XVIII
Pedestrian Hostile: Blindsight
Smiffy's Place: Book Review: The Short Bus


Disability Studies, Temple U.: Cella's Retreat

Relationships, Love and Sex

Kate...uncensored: Blogging Against Disablism

Non-English Language Blogs

GÜNCE: Neden Kaynaştırma? (in Turkish)


Betty's Catster Diary: On Being Disabled and Feline
A geezer with a meezer: Blogging Against Disablism Day
A Tedious Delusion: Refractive ReflectionsAn Unreliable Witness: Sad, pathetic charity case.
Wheelchair Catholic: Treating Ableists under the Medical Model

Disablism and Politics
(For example, the political currency of disability, anti-discrimination legislation, etc.)

Against the glass: “Off With Their Heads!” “Give us Barabbas!” and Other Musings About The Culture of Retribution
Benefit Scrounging Scum:Things can only get better
The Gimp Parade: The Most Important Policy
Grendel's Kitchen:More, move, more
Hoyden About Town: The radical notion that people with disabilities are people and Austrailia's 2020 Summit
Knitting Cleo: Blogging Against Disablism
Mauzy's Musings: Blogging Against Disablism Day
MysteryMommy: Blogging Against Disablism
Planet of the Blind: The Big Picture
Sally's Life: Disablism Killed the Muse!
Six. Almost Seven..: The Obama Campaign: Will They Will..?
Through Myself and Back Again: Getting Personal
Whose Plane is it Anyway?: Advice for Pandering Politicians.

General Thoughts on Disablism

Babe on Wheels: Blogging Against Disablism
The Beauty Offensive: Look back in anger
Candidly Crippled: Blogging Against Disablism - a day late!
Chewing the Fat: Blogging Against (My) Disablism Day
colorwheel: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Copingwithdisability: Dealing with Staring
Copingwithdisability: The Importance of communication in fighting discrimination
DotComMom: This is a person
Equal not Special: Blogging Against Disablism Day
ErikTrips: look. a post. or as they say on myspace: a blog! a blog within a blog: not opening day
L'ombre de mon Ombre: Substitute
Fatshionista!: What if no one's watching?
Greenwords: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008
Growing Up with a Disability: Mistaken Identity
How to be an Inspiration: It's not cricket
Pandora's Blog: Assumptions about disability, from the outside and from within
Midlife and Treachery: BADD Juju
Miss Nomered: Pity, Tubes and the meaning of "Hope"
Moving Right Along: See, it's really all about possibilities
My Peggy Peg: Bloggin Against Disablism Day
The Perorations of Lady Bracknell: Hello? HELLO?
RachelCreative: Disability is more than wheels
Rants and Revelations: Blogging Against Disablism 2008
Sonia Keys: Disablism Day
Terrible Palsy: Expectations
The strangest alchemy: Unsafe
This is My Blog: A Gorilla in Your House
Three Square Meals: Body Police
Wheelchair Dancer: Disabled people aren't human, are they?
Urbania to Stoneheads: I don't suffer from disablism
Veralidaine: Why Disablism is Your Problem, My Problem and Everyone's Problem.
The View from Room 7609: B. A. D. D.
Writings of a Wheelchair Princess: Links and Thoughts and Suchlike
Yet another never updated blog: Who are these freaks?

Parenting Issues
(whether disabled parents or the parents of a disabled child.)

The Beauty Offensive: BADD: A little goes a long way...
Cheaper than Therapy: Little Pitchers have Big Ears
Jenelle's Journal: Coming to terms with n

Lovely and Amazing: My Own Demons
Mama Monkmee: Blogging Against Disablism Day
My NEw Blog Adventure: Blog Against Disablism
Reimer Reason: Blogging Against Disablism
Twinkle Little Star: The Room at the end of the Hall: When Intergration = Segregation

Healthcare Issues
(For example, the provision of healthcare, institutionalistaion of disbaled people, reproductive ethics and euthanasia)

Anwen of the Purple Can: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Barriers, Bridges & Books: Prenatal Diagnosis of Down Syndrome
From where I'm sitting: My Super Happy Fun Hospital Time
The Special Parent: Eugenics in today's society
JBVoices: What a difference a day makes
Reimer Reason: Disablism In My Face
Yeah, but Houdini Didn't have These Hips!: A Culture of Life?

Impairment-Specific Prejudice

(Posts about those experiences specific to people with a particular condition or type of condition.)

All 4 My Gals: Blogging Against Disablism
Ballastexistenz: Excuse to be a jerk.
Candy: Disablism and Audism within Deafread
Charlottesville Prejudice Watch: Psychophobia 101
Declan's Blog; Blogging Against Disablism
Hoyden About Town: Mental Illness, Stigmatisation, Coming Out
Out and Around: The Presumption of Literacy
My Random Musings on Life: BADD
Redirected 2.: Inspiration
The Other Side of Madness: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Transabled: BADD: How disability hierarchy hurts transabled people.

Personal Journeys

(Posts about learning experiences and realisations authors have had about the nature of disability discrimination and the impact on their lives.)

ahistorically: Blog Against Disablism Day: Chess
Cherylberyl: Focus on your needs
Daisybones: BADD: Blog Against Disablism Day
Diary of a Wordsmith: Fit to Work
Disabled Giant: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Down in Me: Corrosive
F for Fischer: BADD: Judgements
Insane Journal: Ability and the Dis. thereof.
More Meredith Gould: My BADD 2008
myveryownkarma: There are days...
Pilgirmsteps: Just a bit late...
Plum Texan: Do you hear what I hear?
Pipecleaner Dreams: I saw Jack again
Puglet Ponderings: Still Clueless, but not as much.
Quench Zine: Disability, Being an Ally, Invisibility and Outness
Quench Zine: Somewhere between Pride and Prejudice
Screw Bronze: I believe... one day.
Simul lustus Et Peccator: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008
Under a spreading tree: BADD: Personal Reflections