moragmacpherson: (Default)
2014-09-12 06:45 pm

Science and History: Why Scientists Should Stand Against the New Texas History Textbooks Too

The Texas Freedom Network started back in the mid-1990s with two top issues: keeping Texas schools in line with Supreme Court rulings on school prayer, doing the same for Creationism Intelligent Design Emphasizing Alternative Theories to Evolution. Once they got involved in raising awareness of truly embarrassing textbooks mandated and approved by the Texas State Board of Education (TXSBOE) in biology, their expansion into the health "abstinence only" curriculum was pretty organic. And their efforts are not just for Texas students: because Texas is one of the largest states to have a state mandated list of approved texts (New York, while populous, lets school districts select their text books independently), about half the textbooks sold in this country are written to conform with Texas State Guidelines (the other half are written to conform with the California State Guidelines). I've been supporting them pretty much since I moved down here to study history. because historians have a strong interest in science (it's hard to talk about the Ice Age one period when your biology teacher tells you the world isn't old enough to have had an ice age the next one).

This year, however, it's texts for the History/Social Studies curriculum that are up for approval. TFN having been largely science-oriented before, realized that the social sciences were just as vulnerable as the hard ones. So they rounded up a group of volunteer professors, teachers, and doctoral candidates to independently review all 43 proposed texts, covering Texas, US, and World History, as well as US Civics. Some of those reviewers are friends of mine. "[TFN was] a little shocked at how detailed our submitted reviews were," one told me. He's going to have 120 seconds to explain to the Board why the text he reviewed is inaccurate, glaringly biased, and downright unprofessional in its presentation. If you've been following this through the abbreviated articles touching on the worst inaccuracies, my friend is the one who (though he didn't read the overall worst rated text) had the pleasure of reading about how all problems in the Middle East result from Jihad, and that sub-Saharan Africa is populated by "the Negro race."

Now, conserve your energy, because I have his first draft, no snark spared, and it got worse. And this is reason number one why Scientists should be equally appalled as historians about Chapter 13, the home of that delightful phrase. )




moragmacpherson: (Default)
2014-08-30 01:27 am

More Than Half a World Away

I'm sitting at my favorite musical perch of all time – a small, concrete abuttment at Stubb's in Austin, Texas, watching G-Love, Special Sauce, and the racial divide of the country play out in front of me. I should have known from my arrival: out of work and in search of free parking, a homeless man helped me parallel park a few blocks up. “Thank you,” I told him, shaking his hand through the passenger side window.

“Thank you for not spitting on me and calling me a nigger.”

I blinked. “Why the hell would I do that?”

“Plenty of folks take it upon themselves. Probably because I'm homeless.”

“Well, fuck that.” We live in an ATM world, so I handed him a twenty. “Thanks again, and please: go do something that makes you feel good,” I tell him, echoing the words of the friend who'd bought me the ticket to the G-Love show: please, go do something that you think is fun.

And yes, the G-Love show is definitely fun... )
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2014-08-22 10:19 pm

Shrugging off the Onus

I may have mentioned in the comments to my last post that I live with Major Depressive Disorder (recurring), and that at times when the laughingstock that is the cultural treatment and understanding of depression, I can't help but take on the onus of education. It drives me nuts when people, especially people who've known me since before I received my diagnosis, need power point presentations to explain that no, the pills are not going away, then be told "well, it's that can't attitude that's a self-fulfilling prophecy."  And I'm going to cut for a trigger warning now because just reliving that conversation in my head is enough to make me... well, I'll explain.

Longwinded discussion about depression... )
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2013-02-20 08:20 pm

Who is the most awesome-sauce in the world?

[personal profile] fish_echo  is, that's who. 

Back in Halloween she dressed up as Delirium-Who-Was-Once-Delight, in particular, the design from my icon. 

I just got a package from her.  It contained

One (1) card in an enveloped marked "To: [Morag] Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas (much belatedly) P.S. open presents before the card (card contains spoilers)" with many stars on


One (1) boomerang from Australia (I'm hoping she wasn't intending this as a death threat ala Scandal in Belgravia, but then I remembered I can't even make a yo-yo work, there's no way I'll actually get a boomerang to come back


Twelve (12) crocheted and knitted fish of many varieties.

So, if I find a cheap old black leather jacket, here in meatspace, I can actually look like I do on the internets.

As I said, who is made of awesome-sauce?  fish_echo is, that's who.  Thank you, sweetie, I love the presents and you too.

moragmacpherson: (Default)
2012-03-04 01:08 am

Excuse me while I fan-girl spaz because Neil Gaiman asked me a question

I was just procrastinating on tumblr.  I reblogged one of his posts and answered a question he posed within, because, well, A Game of You was on the shelf right next to me.

Then I got an e-mail from tumblrbot saying that Neil-Gaiman had asked me a question.

This was obviously from a universe with zeppelins in, except:

As calmly as possible, I tried to piece together a coherent reply.

Then I got to look at my dash again and find this:

And now I'm just sort of in a daze. 

moragmacpherson: (delirium)
2012-02-12 10:25 am

Out of Hand: A User's Guide to Unraveling Morag

Psych #1: Why is the first word you always use to describe yourself "short"?
Me: Because it's the obvious one. "Look for the short chick." People pick me out of a crowd every time.
Psych #1: You seem to focus on being small, it comes up almost randomly in conversation. Why is that?
Me: Because it's not something I ever have a chance to forget about.
Psych #1: Why? Do other people always bring it up? Because you seem to be the one always bringing it up in our conversations.
Me: No, it's because... well, being as short as I am is really tedious.
Psych #1: I don't understand. How is being short tedious?
Me: Like when I cook, if I need something in the pantry, I have to climb up a stool to grab it. God help me if I forget to grab everything I need in one trip, otherwise it's back up the stool. And standing in grocery aisles, waiting for someone, anyone to show up to grab something for me. People are always nice about it, but I'm still the one always stuck there waiting for them.
Psych #1: Huh. I never thought of it like that.

Hi. I'm Morag! There's a number of new people about (I'll get to that in a minute), and it's been awhile since I posted anything that wasn't, well, porn (there's an explanation!), so an intro/update post isn't uncalled for. I've been doing a lot of tumblr-ing too, which has added think-y things, as well as thesis-ing, so more thinking. But yeah, first thing to know about me: I'm 4'9", short enough for it to be annoying, not quite so short that people ask if it's a symptom. Also probably a good giveaway up there: the necessity of numbering my psychiatrists and psychologists.

Knitting, porn, philosophy, fic, and more disturbing insights... )
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-12-08 04:07 pm

Habeas Corpus

It's a fine tradition -- first written into English Common Law in the Magna Carta, then enshrined into the Constitution of the United States in the Fourth Amendment.

The current Defense Spending Bill (which passed 93-7) has a passage which suspends the right of EVERYONE, citizens of the United States included, regardless of location -- so yes, even in this country -- until the "cessation of hostility."  Which in the case of The War On Terror* would be... well, it approaches infinity, so I'll just go with, this is permanent.  Two different senators, Sen. Udall (R-CO) and Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) proposed amendments which would remove this passage from the Defense Spending bill.  That's right: senators from both parties tried to get rid of this.  Sadly, their cohorts didn't feel the same way.  Here, from, are the roll call sheets from both the Udall and Feinstein Amendments, senators listed by state. 

If you live in a state where the senators voted "nay," may I strongly encourage you to contact your senator and tell them to pull their heads out of their asses.  While this provision will no doubt eventually be smashed to bits when it reaches the courts (y'know, given that habeas corpus is a constitutional right for all citizens), I'd rather not have my tax dollars be spent on its defense.  

ETA: There is petition to the White House encouraging the President to veto the bill (and to do so for more appropriate reasons than previously provided by the press secretary).  It requires registration, but if you'd like to sign (I did), you can find the petition here:  Veto S. 1867

Roll calls below the cuts )

moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-12-08 02:35 pm

Brokeback Perry

Sometimes the fruit's hanging too low even for me.  Picture of Rick Perry taken from this bigoted, false piece of trash (which they forgot to turn off the "like/dislike" option - so feel free to press that thumbs down).  Picture of Ennis Del Ray... well, y'know.

If you're making a o_O face, look a little closer at the jackets. 

And one of you vidders should really take the time to set this add to "The Wings" from the Brokeback Mountain OST.  Maybe something about being able to quit him.  Like I said: rarely do they hang the fruit this low.

moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-11-26 09:41 pm
Entry tags:

Of Muppets and Men - and a Poll!

Just got back from seeing the new Muppets movie with my nephew.  I quite liked it (in particular, Camilla the Chicken's routine alone was worth the price of admission - although I suspect 3/4s of the audience didn't know what the hell was going on - which is a good thing).  The songs... well, you can tell that Bret McKenzie wrote them, but that's not a bad thing.  My nephew remains adorable and says he liked the movie too. He then promptly passed out in the car, where he was adorable and [Poll #1798429]
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-11-26 08:54 pm

Of Muppets and Men - and a Poll!

Just got back from seeing the new Muppets movie with my nephew.  I quite liked it (in particular, Camilla the Chicken's routine alone was worth the price of admission - although I suspect 3/4s of the audience didn't know what the hell was going on - which is a good thing).  The songs... well, you can tell that Bret McKenzie wrote them, but that's not a bad thing.  My nephew remains adorable and says he liked the movie too. He then promptly passed out in the car, where he was adorable and quiet.

Meanwhile, my mother linked me to My Daguerrotype Boyfriend and now I'm having cognitive dissonance.  I'd never thought that I'd be able to say, "No, I'm not sure JGL is good-looking enough to play this character."  But as it turns out, in addition to being an assassination magnet who disavowed his grief-crazed mother and an evil labor oppressor who authorized Pinkerton detectives to fire on striking mine workers, Robert Todd Lincoln was really, really, ridiculously good looking.  

I feel torn and therefore, on LJ, this entry will have has a poll.  For real now.  Just stare at the handsome men for five minutes while I put that together however long you want and then vote!

moragmacpherson: (daring)
2011-11-22 06:50 pm

You Have a Lot to Learn and I Hope You Never Learn It

As I often do when I'm totally unhappy with everything I write (and given that I've written more than forty pages of fic and thesis in that time, that's a whole lot of work to disown), I have turned to Hunter Thompson for inspiration.  I should know better than to do this, but he's the writer with whom I most personally identify. The well-worn free-associating paths of his thoughts echo my own, and he too celebrated those moments when writing came as a joy even as he admitted that the motions of writing for pay or on demand often made him feel like an old whore faking ecstatic screams.  To the customers it's all the same, and that is both a blessing and a vile miscarriage of justice.  I miss Hunter dearly and I think I may have finally forgiven him but he leads me to nihilism and that makes me unproductive. Also, it led me to start reading Mencken and now I feel kind of dirty for it.

But I do have some comfort.  He is 6'3" (you know I like 'em tall)  and he is a most capable champion as he has overcome not only time and space — but any objections.  Sometimes you look into the abyss and a pooka in the form of a giant rabbit looks back at you.  This is a good thing, a necessary thing, a beautiful thing.  Sometimes we need a reminder that there is more than one way to rid ourselves of the pain of being a man. 

I think Hunter would have approved of this coping mechanism.  After all, weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final.
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-11-10 05:46 am

No, JoePa, You Don't Deserve Anyone's Respect Anymore

Last night, the Penn State Board of Trustees met and fired University President Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno. effective immediately.  Paterno had announced his intention to retire at the end of this season earlier in the day following the indictment of his long-time assistant coach and one-time heir apparent, Jerry Sandusky, on forty felony charges associated with molestation of at least 8 children since 1996.  Sandusky's known victims, many of whom were sexually molested and assaulted for years, ranged in age from seven to fifteen during the abuse and were all participants in The Second Mile, a charity that Sandusky founded to assist at-risk youths.   Said Paterno on Sunday: "...the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me."   CBS News reported last night that, "The legendary football coach was said to be stunned by his firing. Said the source, "You give your life to this place, and that's how you're treated."

Yes, Paterno, you miserable piece of slime, that's how you're treated.  No, you don't get to leave on your own terms.  No, I don't give a shit that you won 409 football games or that you're a "legendary coach".  No, I couldn't give two shits about how disappointed your seniors are going to be at the Nebraska game this weekend.  You may shut up and go enjoy the remaining time you have left before the Federal government indicts you.

And the worst part is that you're pretending not to understand why. That's what makes you slime. )

moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-10-25 07:31 pm

The Company Store Can't Keep My Soul Forever

It's not a Jubilee year, but publicizing this existing program (key - it already exists, so Our Dysfunctional Congress can't mess this up) and also lowering the qualifying requirements, the size of the payments, and reducing the length of time until debt forgiveness is a damn good start.  I'm gonna start looking into the paperwork tomorrow and start my clock - the idea that in twenty years I won't be dogged by my debt is actually a bright spot of hope on my horizon.  That's how out of control the loans for a graduate education have gotten.  I'm going to be able to accept employment without having to ask "Is this salary/wage high enough that I can cover even the interest on my loans?" 

Or better yet, maybe I won't be turned down from a job because of a bad credit score.  FedLoan Servicing (yes, I'm naming names - SAS has been a much more responsible steward of my debt) cannot seem to process my paperwork even when I send it certified mail. They're threatening to throw the two loans that they acquired AFTER I obtained my deferment (and ten months after I received my last financial aid check, so they're selling debt again - did these guys learn nothing from the whole Credit Default Swap/AIG meltdown?) into collections.  Seriously: if you have it on record that my existing five loans are in deferment due to disability, why are you sending me late payment notice on two more loans that I won't be able to pay due to that same disability?  And no matter how many customer reps I talk to who assure me that the loans are now all bundled and deferred together, I'm still getting threatening letters every week.  As I snarled at the last bloodhound they sent after me: "No, I'm not satisfied with the quality of your customer service, and once I find a bank that will buy loans already in deferment, I am pulling ALL of my loans out of your bank as fast as I can."

At least I won't be harboring secret dreams of a Weimar Republic-style case of hyperinflation that would allow me to pay off my loans for the equivalent price of a loaf of bread.  (Yeah, I feel guilty about that one.  But I have a LOT of debt and for some reason, teaching isn't a recession-proof job.)  Who knows how the evil credit score people are going to value it in, but I can't tell you how relieved I am to know that, one day, even though the breakdown in my mid-twenties derailed my life plans entirely, my student loans will one day disappear.  Sure, I'll be forty-eight, but isn't fifty the new thirty or something?
moragmacpherson: (Standard)
2011-10-17 01:15 pm

The Once and Future Tragedy: RIP Dan Wheldon

My family and I were supposed to go out to dinner last night.  Around 4pm my Dad disappeared into the basement - we figured to get some nicer clothes on.  Finally, as 6pm came and went, my mother and I now feeling more than a little hungry, I went downstairs to check on the old man.  "You ready to go?" I asked.

"Dan Wheldon died in a crash at the Indy race today," my Dad said.  He kept folding laundry and cleaning off his tool bench while he watched the after reports on television - replays of flaming wreckage flying through the air, conciliatory words, the usual cliches of grief and pre-emptive speculations into cause.  I walked upstairs in my little black dress and told Mom that I'd go get some take out instead.  When she asked why, all I could do was shrug and say, "Racing death."  She made that hideous sigh of complete sorrow and incomprehension that she usually only makes when GOP candidates allege that homosexuals are responsible for the downfall of the American economy, set down her purse, and went downstairs to try to comfort Dad.  The lady behind the register at the Chinese place asked if I was okay.  "Just fine, thank you."  I added a dollar to her tip.  But I wasn't fine, my Dad's still a little shaken today; it's never fine, and somehow, it keeps happening.

And I still love racing.

Even if I sometimes wonder why... )

moragmacpherson: (Standard)
2011-10-15 08:50 pm

Aches and irritations

So, my adventures in NYC/Washington with the Over-packed Bag of Doom™ may have had unforeseen and misery-inducing consequences.  My poor, abused upper back and shoulder muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments -- already facing the constant oppression of lugging around  my bodacious ta-tas and my habit slumping of a keyboard and typing 4-5 hours a day -- have declared war.  My left scapula kicked things off two days ago with the traditional "taking my rhomboid muscle hostage and threatening to cut it off with my rib cage".  It does this every once in awhile and I hate it, but it's at least something I'm used to.  But today my trapezius, deltoid, triceps brachii and I think the entire teres muscle group (shoulders are so wonderfully complicated) have all banded together and declared strike.   Seriously - when the most comfortable resting position for your arms is to keep your elbows pointed out and level with your shoulders, something has gone horribly wrong.  Anyway, the bad news of this is - typing?  Makes it worse - unless of course I'm lying on my belly to do it (like I am right now) -- but my neck muscles are warning me that keeping my face up at this angle is not an acceptable long-term solution.  The real killer, however, is that holding up books hurts as well, so I can't even lie in the bath and read until the pain goes away.

tl;dr - I hate my body and it hates me right back.  Consequently, there might not be much of me about for a day or two while I  wait for my muscles (and tendons and ligaments) to forgive me for all of my sins.  If it's not better by Monday, to the masseuse I shall go.

But one other thing, if you can help... )
moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-10-13 08:03 pm

Texts From S

S is my cousin.  He's also one of my best friends.  S lives in Chicago these days but thanks to modern communications technology, he never feels very far away.  At least once a week, he will randomly text message me something, generally absurd, sometimes a quote, often while drunk, but always something that makes me smile.  It's gotten to the point where my text inbox is so full of my favorite saved messages from S that I have no choice but to delete some of them, which makes me sad.  So I've decided to preserve them here, because the internet is forever and after the last few posts I've made, something happy that isn't actually fiction will make a nice change.

Read more... )

moragmacpherson: (Default)
2011-10-12 05:07 pm

Unclean, I feel unclean

(Warning: many things in this post make me despise large sectors of humanity. But I have good intentions.)

Okay, so if you don't check fandom_wank regularly, apparently SPN-fandom has reacted to the news of the potential-mini-Padalecki in spectacular and horrific form.

Yeah. I've already spewed my RAEG at Squid. But, well, even the vaguest connections that I might have to some of those nonnies at spn_gossip make me feel all filthy-by-proxy (and not in a good, porny way either), because for whatever reason I believe in the concept of karma if not the actual existence of it. Thus, my immediate reaction is to note that Mr. & Mrs. Padalecki have requested that in lieu of presents for their sprog, they'd much rather have folks donate to St. Jude's Children's Hospital, a fine and noble cause, and whip out my credit card... oh wait:

I don't have a lot of cash on hand (I'm donating what remains of my "buying a dress and having a good time in NYC/Washington" fund - about $35), and when it comes to things like this, I like to make sure the charity gets every bloody cent. Which brings me to my next point, because I am also a bleeding-heart-anti-corporate-liberal crusader: did you know that most credit cards don't waive their merchant processing fees (usually approx. 3%) for charitable donations? I didn't until the Haiti Earthquake, when a bunch of them got called on it and they temporarily reduced but didn't eliminate the charges for donations headed to Haiti.

(Sorry, I have to go smoke a cigarette while hating humanity for a second after remembering this fact. My misanthropic tendencies are having a field day today.)

Anyway, I'll be sending my donation to St. Jude's via check, but there is (potentially) another option. And here's another thing I never thought I'd do: endorse Capital One. Despite being one of my least favorite and predatory usurers, they redeem themselves through a program called "No Hassle Giving" wherein you can look up a charity on their website and donate using (only) a Capital One credit card and 100% of the donation actually goes to the charity. For the lazy, here's the link to the form to donate to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

If you have a Capital One card, I highly recommend going this route, if only to encourage its continued existence and maybe help shame the other companies into following suit. If anyone else knows of a permanent site that performs the same function for any other credit card company, please feel free to share. For everyone else, here's the form for donating to St. Jude's by check.

Also, I'd love it if I could get a signal boost on this information, but I refuse to go anywhere near spn_gossip right now, I'm not sure that it's appropriate for spnanonhaven or any of the other fandom comms I'm a part of, and I don't have twitter or tumblr - if someone has the balls to tweet it to Jared I'll actually dig around and find ten more bucks to throw on the check in your name (and hell, I'll throw in a charity fic prompt as well, because hey, that's how fandom rolls - at least a drabble, any fandom except for RPF/J2 for obvious reasons, to the first person who sends the tweet). Feel free to copy/paste any of the above information and spread it however you can - I don't care if my name's attached to it, I just can't stand pretty much any of the facts that I've just listed above and I'm gonna stop now before my RAEG gets completely out of hand. But if you have any questions, go ahead and ask.

moragmacpherson: (tentacles)
2011-02-02 01:22 pm

Hosni, a word please?

Salaam hadritak,

It's been a long thirty years.  I know we've had our differences -- I always thought that you were a semi-competent goon thrust into power by the untimely death of Anwar Sadat, which did make me sympathetic to your superstition that kept the vice-presidency vacant during the next thirty years -- marbruk to you for finally getting past that, by the way.  But I'm here to tell you, old comrade, that the day has come, the apricots are blooming, and you've really lost touch and the time has come to step out of power, retire to that Caribbean villa that we all know you've put together somewhere.

How do I know this?  Ah, Hosni, you have always been a kidder.  I'll give you two pieces of evidence I think that we can agree are incontrovertible.

1) You ask, "Incontrovertible"?  Yes, Hosni, because at this point Naawal as-Saadawi and Muhammad al-Baradei have come together to say that you have to leave office now. Given that these two people would normally have trouble coming to a consensus on statements such as "The sun is shining," or "Cancer is a bad thing," each of them taking opposing positions based on the principle of being stubborn bastards who don't much like each other, I think we all must agree that the two of them agreeing on the need for your speedy exit is incontrovertible proof that it is necessary, and possibly, a sign from God (Yes, you're right, I don't believe in God, but even I am forced to accept the existence of miracles when they're right in front of my eyes.)

2) The demonstrations by the anti-government protesters have been, for the most part, civil and highly peaceful after the initial exuberance wore off last week.  It wasn't until after you and your supporters bused in several grumpy young men on horses and camels (are you not comping them for their time even though their bosses told them they had to go in and do this?  Tsk, tsk) that the protests turned violent.  Every news source I look at, from CNN to al-Minar is stating that the "Pro-Government forces are looking for a fight."

(I'd tell you what Fox News is saying, but I refuse to give their hit counters a bump.  Though rumor has it Bill O'Riley sided with the protesters while you've got Glenn Beck as an ally.  Frankly, when choosing between devils, that's not how I'd like the split to come out for me, but I guess we'll all have to look to Rush Limbaugh as the tie-breaker.  You could try sending him any spare prescription pain-killers you have to sway him to your side, but you're likely to just get condemned as a seedy drug dealer.  Rush is so darn fickle!

Anyways, as I was saying, in what universe did this sound like a good plan? Instead of making the protesters look like thugs (by the way, your big speech?  Made you come off as something of a prick.  I've never been a fan but my mom was decidedly on the fence until the speech, and now she thinks you're a prick too.  And she's not nearly as nice as me about keeping these things to herself.) instead you've established that not only are you a prick (whoops, sorry, Mom's a bad influence), but that those Egyptians who support you (or who are unlucky enough to work for people who support you) are also thugs and pricks.  You may have been seeking the traditional values vote by only sending menfolk, but those menfolk are throwing rocks at women and small children as well as the usual mob of unemployed young men that you've failed to improve life for in any demonstrable way for the last thirty years.

In short, it's time to go, Hosni.  You've had a terrible run.  The Bahamas are lovely this time of year, I hear.  As a last piece of advice, though -- take a cue from the Marcos': if Suzanne has an out-sized collection of shoes, spend the extra fifty bucks for another bag and take 'em with you.  That will save the rest of the world from having to hear about it for the next twenty years.