Sunday, March 30, 2008

WAM! Report...

WAM! 2008 ended today, and it's late but I just wanted to say what an amazing experience it was. I was completely unprepared for just how incredible the conference was going to be. It was just mind blowing to see so many people- over 600 of us- so excited about activism and looking to learn from each other. I'll have a more detailed discussion of the particular sessions I attended after I've gotten some sleep, but can I just say how incredible it was to hear Helen Thomas and Haifa Zangana speak? Thomas is legendary, and it was really good to get a chance to hear her talk about the shift in the ways that the media deal with presidents, especially given how many presidents she's covered. And Zangana? I couldn't stop taking notes on the things she was talking about, and about how much life in Iraq has changed since the "liberation". She's a powerful speaker, and her descriptions and comments really highlighted the biased presentation of the situation in Iraq, and how the voices of women who are living in Iraq are being ignored and silenced by this administration. I'm going to look, but I'm pretty sure that her speech was recorded.

There were just so many great things happening, and so much energy at the conference. I met a number of fellow Michiganders, including Nadia Ann Abou-Karr, from the Allied Media Conference. I've heard nothing but great things about AMC, and I was really sorry to have missed it last year. It's very exciting to have such an important conference right in my own backyard, on the campus of Wayne State. So, just to get the word out, now- the conference is June 20-22. So, mark your calendars, people.

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't say at least something about my own session. It went really, really well. Naomi put together an amazing Power Point presentation for us. Anyway, it was great. The turnout was great, and it was a nice mix of people who knew a lot about gaming, and people who knew almost nothing but were interested or knew people who are really into gaming, and wanted to know about the discussion. We actually stayed a half hour past our end-time answering questions and talking to people about our session.

Anyway, I'm exhausted, and it's late. I'll have a more thorough and less rambling post later.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oh, bullying...

Over at Pandagon, they're talking about bullying. It's well over 200 comments at this point, so it's probably futile to try to wade in and see what everyone is saying, but I did glance through. One of the questions that seems to have come up is what to do about it. In particular, how does one respond to a bully?

Because, despite the possibly well intentioned adult advice of my youth, "ignore it and it'll stop" is bullshit. Ignoring bullies doesn't make it stop. I'm sure that some bullies will stop if they don't get a rise out of you, but most? I doubt it. Because even if they don't get a rise out of you, they get a rise out of other people. When a bully knocks your books out of your hands, it doesn't matter how you react, because the act is done, and you've got to pick your books up.

I'm not really sure what the best way to deal with a bully is. I spent a lot of my youth getting bullied. When I was in first grade, a bully who was at least three or four years older than me used to pick on me every day on the bus. He'd knock my books out of my hands. He'd flick my ears constantly. He'd trip me while I was walking. He'd push me down when we get off the bus. He wouldn't stop, and the bus driver wouldn't do anything about it. One day I'd finally had enough. He flicked my ears and I turned and told him that he better stop. We stood up to get off the bus and he flicked my ear again. I turned and smacked him in the head with my snoopy lunchbox. It was a metal lunchbox, and I smacked him with it as hard as I could. He fell over and started screaming, and I got kicked off the bus for a month. But, he never picked on me again.

Now, obviously, I'm not suggesting that we arm kids with metal lunchboxes and tell them to go to town on bullies. I got lucky that this kid decided one smack was enough. You can't always count on that, though. And you shouldn't have to. Some of the other kids who picked on me would have only taken that as a sign to escalate the abuse- they'd have become more violent and have beat me up if I tried to fight back.

One of the things that I noticed about the bullying I received is how much it affected me later in life. I was picked on and abused for so long that, when I got to highschool and the other kids apparently forgot or moved on and decided that I was okay, and even kind of cool, I couldn't see it. It made me paranoid that people were always looking for a new angle to abuse me through. And that still happens to this day- I find that I have a difficult time in many social situations. I find myself expecting people to think the worst of me, or thinking that people must have alternative reasons for being nice to me.

I attribute a lot of that to the bullying that happened at such an important and formative time of my life. When you're learning who you are and what kind of person you're going to be, and the people around you- your peers- are constantly picking on you and denigrating you, I can only assume that has an important impact on the type of person you'll begin to see yourself as.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eff you, ABC... "Transgender Teens Turn to Prostitution"

This story is pissing me off.

1. At 22, one is a woman, not a girl.
2. The use of scare-quotes around "trans women" and "trans men" is distracting.
3. The focus appears to be pretty exclusively focused on trans women, while ignoring the experiences of trans men. Almost three pages of stories about the experiences of trans women, but only two paragraphs on the experiences of trans men? It just seems to really play into the fetishization of trans women. Especially with so much focus on the prostitution aspect of the story.
4. The story left with the impression that it was "poor trans people, their lives are completely fucked up, and they're out there killing themselves, injecting themselves with brake fluid, and turning to drugs and prostitution to get by. And then they get raped and infected with AIDS. It's just a completely horrible experience." I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but the story really feels like a big sensationlistic piece that reinforces the fetishization of and stereotypes about the transgender population. Maybe that's just me?
5. There are a number of quotes about what "most" trans women are doing- like buying hormones off the black market. That kind of thing always makes me suspicious. How does ABC know what *most* trans women are doing? Sensationlism, or fact? I don't know.

It's not that I doubt or don't appreciate the seriousness of the situations described, but it just feels like a really exploitative story to me. It feels less like a story aimed at helping make the situation better or informing the public to get support for some kind of movement, and a lot more like a modern day "freak show" story- a "wow, look at how fucked up this is" kind of tabloid piece. It's really pissing me off.

We're just days away, now...

I'm flying out tomorrow for Boston, to attend this year's WAM! conference. It's going to be a huge event, and there are tons and tons of awesome, awesome people attending. I'm really looking forward to the chance to meet and network with some of the really amazing bloggers and feminists that I read about, and I'm also really looking forward to the chance to present. As I believe I mentioned on here before, I'm presenting with Naomi Clark, on video games and gaming culture. Honestly, I'm terribly nervous, but also very excited. I'm really looking forward to seeing what other people have to present, and to getting a chance to speak about my love of video games and the importance of feminism to changing gaming culture.

Anyway, if you're going to be there, or if you're in the Boston area, you should let me know- I'd love a chance to meet and talk with people, and I'd love to start building a bit of a network. Particularly if you're even remotely interested in gaming. Not only would it be nice to help further the serious discussion of what feminists can do about gaming, but it'd be good to get a chance to find people who game. =)

Also: Sorry about the light posting lately. Apparently, I'm a little slow to blog in '08. I got all of my college applications in, and I'm preparing for to move to a new state, and I'm trying to get my work for the conference finished, and etc, etc. Which is to say, it's a busy time.

How is everyone else doing? Is it a busy time for one and all?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The answer is clearly "Yes"...

This might be one of my favorite ever "you stumbled on my site via what google search?" searches.

Well, that, and the one about the truth about chocolate milk.

Who called it?

I just noticed Q&A With a Call Girl: Former call girl opens up about the industry on MSNBC. The Q&A asks the all important questions "What did you carry in your purse?" and "How much did you spend on clothes?" Oh, and "Was there anything you wouldn’t do?" My favorite might have been "What do you think of the movie “Pretty Woman”?" and the follow-up question "Is the movie realistic?" Because, yeah, those are the real hard-hitting questions.

I was surprised, though, that they published the question "What’s the biggest misconception about the business?", to which McLennan responded:

I don’t want to make it seem more glamorous than it is. I don’t want to candy-coat it, because there certainly is a dark side to the escort/call-girl industry that exists and destroys people’s lives. The common misconception is that that’s all it is – that’s it’s all glamorous or it’s all dirty, and it’s all of the above. It’s a well-rounded industry.

Now, let me think... who called it? Who pointed out that the media vultures were looking for exactly this kind of story?

Oh, right! That'd be Ren. Let's see... 3:47 on the 11th, Ren posts:
the media wants to talk to sex workers about it. I know, because oddly enough, a certain Renegade and a certain DC reporter had a conversation. I thought maybe it might be an opportunity to bring some light to issues such as sex workers rights and the hypocrisy shown by fellows like Spitzer. However, that is not what the media is interested in. That's not what they want. They want to know how one goes about hiring a "high-end" escort, how prevelant is it, what goes on, do the working girls care if the men are married? What else do they spend money on when with the woman? They want the scandal, the titilation, the naughty little thrill....but nothing too dirty. Nothing about the women on the streets. They don't want to hear about the truly unseemly side of the biz. They want to hear about the men...the rich and powerful men who spend the money on "high-end" girls. They want to hear how the men will fly in to see a girl, or fly her in, spends thousands on her and on the dinners and events and everything else. They want to know how he likes it.
And less than 24 hours later, MSNBC obliges.

Ren also mentions not wanting to take part in interviews like that one, because:

The media hardly needs another "tell all" about sex workers and the powerful politicos that hire them when they don't even want to see the women as human...not just the "high end ones". Besides, I distrust what would end up not making it through the editing process.

I can't help but wonder what didn't make it through MSNBC's editing process, too. Especially when questions like "Did you ever feel threatened on a “date”?" get only a one word response: "No." Really? That's all she had to say about the question? Why do I find that hard to believe?

In related news, Spitzer, in his resignation speech:

Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor.

Oddly enough, I don't recall any reports of him turning himself in to the police for violating the laws that he so ardently enforced. Anyone want to bet he serves a day in jail? That he even sees the inside of a court? Because I'm betting that his resignation is as far as that goes. Because, you know, there are some pretty different concepts of taking "responsibility" in effect here; if you're a prostitute, taking responsibility means going to jail, but If you're a political figure, taking responsibility is as easy as resigning.

Oh, no doubt, it sucks to have to resign. I imagine it's a real big disappointment to have attained such a position of power, only to see it crumbling beneath you.

I was pretty sure that he was involved in criminal activity, and that we usually dealt with crimes through the criminal justice process. What the hell do I know, though?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking news: Spitzer resigning...

I'm not sure whether to be surprised or not. I guess I'm a little surprised. I mean, it's not like Detroit's mayor has resigned over the dozens of illegal and unethical things he's done. But, then, he didn't make a career out of taking down prostitution rings.

The part that makes me the most sad is that I almost said "I'm glad he's doing the right thing now." What kind of fucked up standards for politicians do we have where resigning after you've engaged in illegal activities- the very activities you made a name fighting- is "the right thing." How about doing the right thing by, I don't know... not engaging in illegal activities in the first place?

Color me annoyed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weekend update... Auction and a movie..

I was out in Boston over the weekend, and had the extreme pleasure of attending the GLAD Winter Party 2008 at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter. It was a fantastic event to raise money for GLAD, and to celebrate "30 Years of Making History and Changing Lives". The highlight of the evening were the six live auctions- A South African Photo Safari, Red Sox vs. Yankees tickets, a Summer BBQ with GLAD's Senior Staff, a Starwood Hotels "Honeymoon" Package, Cocktails with Joan & Robert Parker, and, if I remember correctly, a trip to the South of France. All of which were, unfortunately, waaaay out of my bidding range (I did, however, bid on and win a case of wine).

It was a really great event, and the live auctions alone raised something over $18k for GLAD. The speakers talked about the the discrimination faced by the LGBT community at the St. Patty's Day Parade in Boston, and one of the speakers related her own experiences as one of the people who marched in the last parade that the LGBT members were able to take part in, and how, one year, the organizes of the parade cancelled the parade rather than let LGBT marchers participate. They cancelled an Irish parade in Boston, rather than let gays take part.

It was a moving story, and a powerful reminder of the sorts of discrimination and the lengths that people will go to, to exclude the LGBT community from taking equal part in our society.

I also had a chance to go to a movie while I was in Boston, and took the opportunity to see Persepolis. Now, I haven't seen it, but can someone explain to me how the movie about the cooking rat beat this? Because, seriously? This is some powerful stuff. Now, admittedly, Best Animated Feature is a pretty new category, and so it's tough to generalize, but I do think it's interesting that almost all of the nominees and winners have been pretty, shall we say... kid friendly? Persepolis is definitely not a kid's movie, and is only the second PG-13 rated film to be nominated in for the award.

At any rate, as you may be able to tell, I loved it. I've read Marjane Satrapi's books, upon which this was based, and the film brilliantly captures both the story, and her unique visual style perfectly. The animation is beautiful, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the individual frames from the book are replicated in the film.

The film- an autobiographical telling of Satrapi's life during and after the Iranian revolution- is an extremely powerful tale. One of the things that the film does a really great job of (and books, as well) is show how Satrapi and her family are caught between hostile forces on both sides. After the revolution, personal liberties were strictly controlled, and women were forced to adopt head coverings and there were armed police who could arrest women who were suspected of being at all immoral or immodest. There are scenes of people fighting over the last of the food remaining in a nearly empty store, and at one point, a person dies because a group of people decided to throw a party and dance.

But, at the same time, Satrapi faced serious descrimination when she was in Europe, too. People who had heard about the Iranian revolution talked about Iranians as though they were subhuman. At one point, a group of fellow students at her university call her savage. She talks about feeling lost in two worlds- she's a stranger back in Iran, because her experiences in France have changed who she used to be, but she's also a stranger outside of Iran, because people view her through a disturbing lens.

Like I said, it's an incredibly powerful and moving film, and I don't think I can recommend it enough. It is, at times, heart-breaking, and disturbing, and full of hope... and it's also incredibly well animated (and, apparently, not computer animated). All I can say is that the rat movie had better be really fucking good to show this one up, because this is one of the most impressive and intelligent animated features I've ever seen. Two big thumbs up.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Regarding "African"...

From the comments at Feministing

A commenter by the name of GopherII writes:

Personally I prefer to identify along culture lines [rather] than color of skin. I prefer to see people along cultural lines, ie Italian, Jewish, Egyptian, African ect. so its more individualized. I hate to group people by skin color.

Now, I often see and hear people using "African" in the same way that we use "Italian" (for example), i.e. as if it were a national origin or a country. Rather than, you know, a continent comprised of over 50 seperate countries and 900 million people. The issue I have there is that distinctions between European (read "white") cultures are respected as being distinct- people generally recognize that there are cultural differences between Italians and Germans, for example- while the cultural distinctions between African (read "black") cultures are completely ignored. Africa is treated like a single, monolithic culture in a way that Europe is not. I pointed this out:

"African" is not a cultural line. "Africa" is not a country, nor is it a single monolithic culture. You lumped the entire African continent as one cultural line as though it's the same as talking about "Italian" cultural lines. Africa is a pretty damned big continent, and it's made up of 53 seperate countries, 900+ million people, and makes up about 20% of the total land-mass of the planet. As it happens, there are some pretty significant cultural differences that exist within the African continent.

GopherII responded:

Right. I know Africa is made up of other countries, thats why I mentioned Egyptian (which is part of Africa). I meant I prefer to see Americans who come from a variety of African backgrounds as African, just as for whites I prefer European.

and, later:

I wrote that I prefer to see Black Americans as Africans (because they come rom all over Africa) and prefer to call Western Europeans by their culture (or wherever theyre from) rather than just white, or Arab. I like to be more specific. For example, if youre from a variety of cultures within the European countries I prefer European.

And more recently:

I know to distinguish between the different races of africa. I meant as far as black Americans because their race is mixed from all parts of africa. Same with caucasian people which is why I consider them european. If you read my posts it was because I was looking for an alternative to identifying people by skin tone.

Which... ooookay. Quite frankly, I think that goes directly against the original claim that GopherII prefers to make distinctions along cultural lines, not skin color, so as to be more individualized. All it really does is replace skin color with broad continental descriptors. When you start lumping people together based on the color of their skin, it doesn't really matter what you call them after that- you're still lumping people together by skin color. You can claim that it's about cultural lines... but that doesn't make it so. And, really, I don't understand how broadly lumping all white people together as "European" and all black people together as "African" is somehow supposed to be:

1. More individualized.
2. More specific.
3. Remotely related to cultural values or identities.

The whole conversation sort of went downhill after I suggested that one could probably find greater cultural diversity within the continent of Africa- again, because it's makes up 20% of the land area of the planet, has 900 million people, and over 50 nations- than within the country of Italy- about the size of Nevada and fewer than 60 million people. That was when I was informed that I was a stupid, pompous, anti-Italian racist.

The list should probably have included obsessive, argumentative, and pig-headed, too.

Late, as always: International Sex Workers Rights...

h/t Cara

I'm several days late on this, but, then, I didn't even realize that it was Sex Worker's Rights day on the 3rd. Until I read Cara's post, I didn't even know that there was an International Sex Worker's Rights day. I am woefully out of touch, I think.


I've written about my complicated feelings on pornography before. Part of the problem is that the arguments about how porn is harmful can be quite compelling, relying, as many of them do, on emotional reactions to the statistics about the types of violence that people involved in sex-work face. It's hard not to be moved by stories about "sex tourism", or the violence that sex-workers sometimes face at the hands of Johns.

But then I remember that I dislike violence against women precisely because it's violence, regardless of what occupation the woman has. I remember that I'm opposed to the sex tourism industry because raping children is wrong, regardless of what motivates you to do so.

A commenter- Betty Boondoggle- raises a good point, over at Cara's:
Aren’t our efforts better employe in improving the conditions so that all the workers are safer? I would like to assume that this is the “official” position. I’m getting the feeling though, that I might be wrong.

I certainly don't think that the sex-industry is perfect. It's pretty obvious that there are some serious problems. But, it occurs to me that pushing the industry underground isn't necessarily the best way to help the women working in it. If my boss is treating me unfairly, I have legal means to pursue justice. If I'm not paid fairly, I can get compensation. If someone is working illegally as a prostitute, and has been wronged in some way- cheated out of money, forced to work in unsafe conditions... whatever- what recourse is there? None. You can't go to the police, or else they'll likely arrest you. You can't take your employer to court... what would you say?

And, no: I don't think that men have some kind of "right" to women's bodies. I think that all of us have a right to have sex, so long as we don't attempt to infringe on another person's right to personal autonomy. My right to sex ends where another person's body begins. And, I think that all of us have a right to safe working conditions, and fair wages- to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

I also don't think that prostitution or stripping or whatever are somehow empowering to women. They might be personally empowering, but empowering in the broad sense? No. Why should that matter, though? Most jobs aren't particularly empowering. Pointing out that sex work isn't empowering isn't an argument against sex work. It's an argument against most work. Or not really an argument at all, I suppose.

My point, in-so-far as I actually have one, is that criminalizing and denigrating women for being involved in sex work is the opposite of helpful. Talk about how women are brainwashed into sex work strikes me as dehumanizing and offensive. The problems that sex workers face aren't solved by sweeping them under the rug or by further alienating them by insulting them or by criminalizing their behavior. The problems they face are much better solved by actually engaging in dialogue with sex workers to find out what kinds of support they want and need. The problems are solved by helping change the ways that we view sex and sex workers.

I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest checking out Renegade Evolution and Being Amber Rhea (also at the GA Podcast Network, since I can't read Being Amber Rhea at work!). Oh, and $pread Magazine.

And, I also wanted to take a moment to link to SWIMW: Sex Workers' International Media Watch. They've got a lot of really great information there, even if the organization is "currently inactive", and I've found a lot of interesting information and essays- including Addressing Sex Work as Labor, by Melissa Ditmore (for the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery), and Sex Worker's Rights and Media Ethics:
Notes for Journalists
, by Jo Weldon.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why I hate David and Goliath...

I know I'm behind.

Aside from the fact that the owner of David and Goliath T-shirts is a thieving bastard *ahem* alledgedly inappropriately appropriated another artist's achievements, they've got a ton of sexist, homophobic, and racist shirts on their site. Woo, trifecta.

At least they got their banner right "We make stupid stuff so you don't have to".

Yes. Yes you do.

Let's see, there's the Miso Hor Ni and "Chinese" secret shirts. Or maybe you like fruit? Some conflating of cross-dressing with homosexuality, as well as reinforcing the same tired cliches about gay men on their your boyfriend is gay shirt. The statuatory rape is funny shirt. And pedophilia is twice as funny. Oh, and prison rape, too. Nothing like a little black stereotyping to get a laugh. That and domestic assault. Fat shaming. Mocking and endorsing eating disorders.

The list goes on and on.
And their response to the furor over the shirt just reinforces their classy image

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My polka dot problem...

This is pretty much just me complaining and describing a personal problem that I'm having. I doubt very much that I'm going to relate it back to anything, so if you're not interested in reading about my personal life, I'd skip this one.

I've taken to joking a little bit that I'm going to bring back spots, but I have what is known as a "skin condition". Say hello to my right and left legs. Those lovely red spots are called plaques, and are caused by psoriasis. If my derm's reaction is any indication, I've got at least a moderately seriously case. The words "Oh, that's not fair" have left his mouth on multiple visits. Sadly, his sympathy has done little to ease my discomfort. As you can see, it's kind of all over my legs, particularly my lower legs. It's also covering my torso, arms, face and head. Even on and in my ears. Which is to say, pretty much my whole body. I sort of think I'm lucky, in a way, that it's worse on my legs than anywhere else. And, really, it could still be worse, even there. Unluckily, it's second worst on my head and face.

If you don't have psoriasis, I think it's generally considered a relatively benign thing to have. Relatively speaking, of course. It's not going to kill me, for example. As far as I know, it's not going to cause any major organ damage, either. It's not going to attack my brain. It's not going to do... well... much of anything, except cause those rather bright red spots to appear all over my body.

Did I mention that they burn? No? Oh, well. They burn, too. They itch almost constantly, but I use moisturizing lotion to try to cut back on the itching, and that helps a lot. Periodically, though, I experience what I can only describe as an intense burning sensation. Like my leg is covered in acid. While that comes and goes, it's most intense usually when I'm getting a little tired, and I'm preparing for bed. A few times, the pain has been intense enough to give me spasms. Which can make it difficult to fall asleep, to say the least.

Another interesting fact about psoriasis: it's exacerbated by stress.

Which is awesome, because, as you might imagine, having itchy, burning, bright red splotches all over you body, including your face, can be a fairly stressful situation. Particularly since, and this is really awesome, too (which is to say, distinctly not), they become dry and flake off. The skin on the spots gets very dry, and almost leathery in texture, or sometimes raised and coarse. Then it flakes and peels off, almost like a sunburn. Only, this happens on a daily basis. And has a tendancy to look like dandruff, when it comes off my scalp.

See, psoriasis is basically the body producing skin at an accelerated rate. Normal skin cells mature and fall off the body about every 28 to 30 days. Psoriatic skin cell take only 3 days to mature and move to the surface. Then, instead of being shed off, they pile up and form those bright splotches. Which then crack and flake, since they're mostly formed by piles of irritated dying and dead skin cells.

It was bad enough when it was just my legs that were afflicted. It was painful, and annoying to be constantly putting on lotions and trying to resist the urge to scratch. But, as it's spread over the rest of my body, I've also had to start dealing with other people's reactions. Because, uh... people stare. I've taken to wearing a hat, even while I'm indoors, unless I have to to take it off, because it helps cover up the flaking skin on my scalp and along my hairline (Oh, did I also mention psoriasis can lead to extensive hair loss? No? It can lead to extensive hair loss), but it's not like I can hide my face. I've let my beard grow in, which helps a little, but I think that's mostly psychological.

My friends and co-workers know about it, but I'm not going to stop and tell every random stranger that gives me weird looks when I'm trying to shop "Oh, yeah, I'm not diseased or dirty. Well, I mean, I guess I am sort of diseased, but it's a genetic skin condition called psoriasis." Nor would I want to.

If you do any research on psoriasis, one of the things you'll discover is that there's lots of talk about the link between depression and psoriasis. Or how psoriasis sufferers go through a loss of self-esteem. Well, duh. You know why? Because people tend to be both fascinated and repulsed. The worst is when I'm having a good day, and it's not itching too much, and I manage to forget about it for a little while, and I'll go out, and someone will look at me in that way that makes it clear that they're... I don't know exactly what they're thinking... but they're staring at me. And I don't know whether to be angry, or offended, or embarrassed, and I mostly just want to go hide.

I've been ruminating on talking about this for a while, now. I'm sure I could relate it to all kinds of different things, but, hell... even while I'm sitting here looking at that picture on my blog, and thinking about how depressing it is that I pretty much look nothing like that now because, yeah, I'm fucking polka-dotted, I also feel terribly guilty. Because the thing is, compared to the other two men in my immediate family, I won the genetic jackpot. All three of us suffer from a chronic, incurable ailment. At least mine is mostly cosmetic. MS and seizures seem a lot more significant by comparison.

Anyway, there it is. I don't know what else to say. So I won't.