firecat: x-men wolverine showing claws (wolverine2)
Do you choose online delivery for bills and financial paperwork?

If so, what arrangements do you have set up for having those bills paid and that paperwork reviewed if you have a long illness and can't do it yourself? Or if you die?

This message brought to you by Wells Fargo, which informed me when I logged on today that it had changed my statement delivery option to "online only." I was able to change it back, but it pissed me off that they did it in an "opt out" manner like that.

I don't LIKE paperwork and would prefer to use online delivery for such things, but even though I would trust my partners to take good care of me if I got sick, that doesn't mean I want to give them full access to my email.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Damage done by student loans

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ripping-off-young-america-the-college-loan-scandal-20130815?print=true

Student debt is bigger than credit card debt, and most of it is owed to the government, which has unprecedented powers of collection. Because most students get loans, schools have little incentive to keep costs down, and keep raising tuition.

(emphasis mine)
Another debtor, a 38-year-old attorney who suffered a pulmonary embolism and went into default as a result, is now more than $100,000 in debt. Bedridden and fully disabled, he accepts he will likely be in debt until his death. He asked that his name be withheld because he doesn't want to incur the wrath of the government by disclosing the awful punch line to his story: After he qualified for federal disability payments in 2009, the Department of Education quickly began garnishing $170 a month from his disability check.
...
The massive earnings the government gets on student-loan programs amount to a crude backdoor tax increase disguised by cynical legislators (who hesitate to ask constituents with more powerful lobbies to help cut the deficit) as an investment in America's youth.

"It's basically a $185 billion tax hike on middle-income and low-income citizens and their families," says Warren Gunnels, senior policy adviser for Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the few legislators critical of the recent congressional student-loan compromise.
...
There's a particularly dark twist to the education story, which is tied to the collapse of the middle class and the overall shittening of our economic landscape: College degrees are actually considered to be more essential than ever. The New York Times did a story earlier this year declaring the college degree to be the "new high school diploma," describing it as essentially a minimum job requirement.
So what can be done about this? Are there any organizations pushing back on it?
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Someone on FB linked to a post from the blog You Need a Budget (YNAB) (which is a software product). The post is called "15 warning signs you're addicted to debt" and it references Debtors Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. The post said this:
"Whenever I see an overweight person, I automatically assume they’re seriously in debt. Probably just a case of projection – but probably not far from true."

(I'm not linking to the blog but with that info you can probably find the post.)

My thought on the matter:

In fact the person might be right that fat people are more often in debt simply because fatness is associated with poverty, and if you're poor it's a lot harder to stay out of debt because you don't have the resources to deal with emergencies.

There is another connection between debt and fat: both are assumed to be caused by the behaviors of the individual and are assumed to be the sole responsibility of the individual to fix. But both actually have a lot to do with what the individual was handed in life—in the case of fat, genetics and the pressure to yo-yo diet can contribute; in the case of debt, socioeconomic status, and a society that increasingly preys on poor people and conspires to keep them in debt. (See http://strikedebt.org)
firecat: uhura making a scary hand gesture (uhura nichelle nicolls)
Kiera Wilmot is a 16 year old black girl who attends high school in Florida. While at school (not during school hours) she engaged in an extracurricular chemistry experiment that produces a small explosion and some smoke. No one was injured and no property was damaged. She was expelled from school and will now have to attend an expulsion program. She was also arrested and charged with two felonies ("discharging a weapon on school grounds").

Rocket Boys: A Memoir is a book about some white teenage boys in a coalmining town in the late 1950s. They build and test rockets. Their first attempts cause property damage, but many of the adults they know help them. They win a science fair. The author and protagonist of Rocket Boys became a NASA engineer. The book, according to Wikipedia, "is studied in many American and international school systems."

Wikipedia claims: "According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009. According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 13.6% of the US population."

http://www.change.org/petitions/polk-county-school-district-don-t-expel-kiera-wilmot

https://www.change.org/petitions/polk-county-state-s-attorney-drop-felony-charges-against-16-year-old-kiera-wilmot

http://raniakhalek.com/2013/05/02/prosecutor-behind-kiera-wilmot-arrest-filed-no-charges-for-white-teen-who-killed-little-brother/

http://www.policymic.com/articles/39061/kiera-wilmot-arrest-racial-inequality-arises-from-a-science-project-gone-wrong

"Would a White Girl Be Prosecuted for a Botched Science Experiment?">

http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-case-around-fla-teen-kiera-wilmot-is-part-of-a-bigger-more-disturbing-pattern/

"Kiera Wilmot's School Expulsion Is Racist"

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/education/black-students-face-more-harsh-discipline-data-shows.html (This one is not specifically about Kiera Wilmot, it's from 2012.)

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/urban-scientist/2013/05/01/florida-teen-charged-with-felony-for-trying-science/ "I can’t name a single scientist or engineer, who hadn’t blown up, ripped apart, disassembled something at home or otherwise cause a big ruckus at school all in the name of curiosity, myself included." --DNLee, a biologist and animal behaviorist (one of a few black women who didn't manage to get the science harrassed out of them).

http://www.policymic.com/articles/39381/kiera-wilmot-how-her-arrest-and-expulsion-exposes-americas-racial-discipline-gap
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
This is not OK.

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/04/19/aclu-discovers-illegal-debtors-prisons-in-ohio/

Excerpts:
A new report by the ACLU reveals that “debtors’ prisons” in Ohio. The phrase refers to the practice of imprisoning someone for the failure to pay fines. This practice is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Still, people who can’t afford to pay fines issued in response to traffic violations or misdemeanors are being routinely imprisoned in at least 7 out of 11 counties studied.
...
An investigation found that as many as 22% of the bookings in Huron were for failure to pay a fine, usually coded as “contempt.” Typically this resulted in a 10 day incarceration. The state would then charge them fees related to being jailed, making it even more unlikely that a person would be able to pay.
The ACLU report referred to:
http://www.acluohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TheOutskirtsOfHope2013_04.pdf
More reports and quotes )
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
I was in Walgreen's just now, and the cashier was wearing a button front and center on her uniform that said "Is my smile a 9?"

I assume that she had to wear it. I was tempted to ask, but I didn't want to waste her time because there was a long line. It made me furious on her behalf. If your policy is that employees should act friendly, I suppose there's nothing I can do about that, but I really don't like requiring employees to wear buttons that invite the customer to police their behavior (behavior that has nothing to do with whether they're doing the work of cashiering correctly).
firecat: statue of two fat people kissing (fat people kissing)
National Public Radio (NPR) has a web page asking for comments on the topic "What does it mean to live in a nation where one out of every three people is obese." (The nation in question is the United States.)

http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/form/apm/0d2dd143dca7/what-does-it-mean-to-live-in-a-nation-where-one-out-of-every-three-people-is-obese

The lead-in to the comment section says:
Americans are getting bigger. And it's not just changing our health, but our nation's infrastructure, spending habits, economy and state of mind. What changes have you noticed to the way we live? 

Tell us here. Your response will help shape a national reporting project on obesity.
Here are the comments I left them.

What conversations do you have - or avoid having - about weight?
Read more... )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] moominmuppet

"Mortgage defaults are causing health problems in people over 50" by Annalee Newitz

Excerpt:
The study was led by University of Maryland epidemiologist Dawn E. Alley, who said:
More than a quarter of people in mortgage default or foreclosure are over 50. For an older person with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension, the types of health problems we saw are short term consequences of falling behind on a mortgage that could have long-run implications for that person's health.
...
While this information may seem like common sense, this study is one of the only examples where such "common sense" has actually been confirmed scientifically.
Well, I'm glad research like this sometimes sees the light of day.

Original study
firecat: man screaming with hand over face (screaming facepalm)
I expect this UPI article will be all over my reading list but I have to put in my own pocket change before I even go look.

It's annoying that they are being all gender-essentialist about it, but if they're going to be that way, it's good that they are acknowledging that women feel more pain, because usually women's pain is downplayed and ignored.

But then they manage to downplay it anyway. "Let's treat the emotions." Let's get a woman living with pain to say "it's all about just not caring whether you have pain." And not once is it mentioned that maybe we should believe women who have pain, and give them pain medicines to manage their pain.

"Pain different for women, men"
ATLANTA, Aug. 13 (UPI)
(Full article quoted. Emphasis mine.)
Chronic pain is more intense and
lasts longer for women than men and a higher proportion of women
suffer from diseases that bring such pain, doctors say.
Jennifer Kelly of the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine
in Georgia says women have more recurrent pain and more disabilities
from pain-causing illnesses such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid
arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome, CNN reported Friday.
Hormones could be one reason women bear this burden of pain,
Kelly said, noting the menstrual cycle can be associated with
changes in discomfort among women with chronic pain.
Pain also can have long-lasting consequences, studies show.
Women who suffer menstrual cramps have significant brain structure
changes compared with women who don't, one study found, while other
studies have revealed abnormal brain structure changes in people
with disorders such as chronic back pain and irritable bowel
syndrome.
Women tend to focus on pain on an emotional level, worrying
about how it will affect their responsibilities, whereas men focus
on the sensory aspect, Kelly said, urging doctors to help women deal
with negative thoughts
that can make a painful situation worse.
One woman who suffers from arthritic conditions agrees
patients with chronic pain need help changing their mind-set about
pain.
"Part of what helped me was switching out the model in which
I had to be pain free to be happy," Melanie Thernstrom says.
"Realizing I can have some pain, just like it can be raining outside
and I can be happy
-- it's all a matter of what level the pain is
at."
firecat: gorilla with arms folded looking stern (unamused)
I just tried signing up again for Second Life. The first time, quite a while back, I gave up early in the process because I couldn't find a "last name" that I liked among the offered choices. Today I got farther into the form, but I ended up not signing up, because the form required me to specify a gender.

Why the fuck does SL care about my gender identity???
firecat: (butting heads elephant seals)

NPR, All Things Considered, November 22, 2002:

Despite its possibly deadly side effects, the diet aid [Metabolife 356] has racked up $1 billion in sales and remains a popular supplement for those looking for an energy boost or trying to lose weight.

November 5, 2007: http://justice.gov/usao/cas/press/cas71105-Metabolife.pdf:

In connection with the guilty plea, Ellis’ attorney told the Court that in February 1999, Ellis and his
corporation – through a retained law firm – sent a letter to the FDA stating that Metabolife had a “claims free
history.” Ellis was aware at the time, however, that this statement was false. He also knew that the FDA
would likely rely on Metabolife’s statements regarding its consumer complaint history in the FDA’s
proceedings concerning regulation of ephedra-based supplements.
In 2002, Metabolife turned over to the FDA and then to the Department of Justice reports of more
than 10,000 ephedra-related adverse events that the company had previously withheld.

From Wikipedia's page on ephedra, based on Los Angeles Times article, 2003:

Senators Orrin Hatch and Tom Harkin, authors of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, questioned the scientific basis for the FDA's proposed labeling changes and suggested that the number of problems reported were insufficient to warrant regulatory action. At the time, Hatch's son was working for a firm hired to lobby Congress and the FDA on behalf of ephedra manufacturers.

Today, the Metabolife home page has the following slogan on it: "Staying between you and your fat pants."

If I were dictator I know what punishment I would give this guy.

firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-insure9nov09,0,755599,print.story
One of the state's largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved.

Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.
firecat: (butting heads elephant seals)
http://www.shakesville.com/2007/07/like-a-hole-in-the-head/
excerpt:
Thorn and I have become so outraged by all the stories we’re hearing about fat people’s encounters with asshole health professionals, we’ve decided to start a blog devoted to collecting them all in one place.

if you have a story to share ... please send it to fathealth@gmail.com.
Here's a roundup of some of the stories that people submitted. It has a link to the original post that inspired all the comments (which is heartbreaking).

http://www.shakesville.com/2007/07/first-do-no-harm/
firecat: crank (cranky)
In high school, I had a wonderful Latin teacher, a sharp little white-haired lady named Miss Ferguson.

(I took Latin class with Jeffrey Eugenides, who is now a famous author. Teachers rather like Miss Ferguson appear briefly in his books The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex.)

When students got a little too rambunctious in her class, Miss Ferguson would stand up very straight and snap

"Infants!"

It always worked to get our attention—I think the slight absurdity of that word allowed it to slide right in and strike our self-consciousness centers.

I wish I could sic Miss Ferguson on alt.poly right now.

firecat: too much coffee man looking discouraged (too much coffee man)
If you're maybe noticing that you're older than you used to be, and are feeling sad/angry/confused/worried/frustrated that you haven't accomplished as much as you/other people in your present or past/annoyingly critical voices inside your head think you should have, and if you're maybe feeling something like "I'm not a real grownup like everyone else," and if you're maybe also feeling sad/angry/confused/worried/frustrated that your body isn't working the way it used to, and you're maybe thinking, "if that's true then how am I going to DO all those accomplishments that I/other people/voices in my head think I ought or want to do?", and maybe you're also wondering how are you going to dig out from under the accumulation of habit and procrastination and self-doubt to some sense of satisfaction in your life again, then post this same sentence in your journal.

Friends keep saying stuff like that where I can see it, and I've been feeling it for a while now too. One said it really well in a friends-locked post:
It's been hard for the last some-odd months, with my age catching up to me, not to feel that I've been a continual failure in school, work, and my personal life. ...

I've been trying so hard to hide from my friends -- most of them not very close, even if they were before -- the fact that I'm not in their league in any sense of the word. ...

Come to think of it, I don't do yard work because I'm afraid of being looked at/judged by passersby. I don't do artwork because I'm afraid of ill-judgment and meaningless or worthless praise. This has gotten as bad as it ever was in the worst years of my adolescence. Worse, because I don't have the energy or the twenty years ahead of me to think I have plenty of time yet to pull myself out of it.
It was a revelation to read this, especially the part about "as bad as it ever was in the worst years of my adolescence," because that's exactly what bugs me about the similar feelings I have—"WTF? I thought I was DONE with these feelings of self-consciousness. No one told me they would come back, dammit! I thought 'mid-life crisis' just meant you went out and got your virtual red sports car and had done with it."

When a whole bunch of my friends and acquaintances are having similar uncomfortable feelings, and especially when each one is having these feelings privately and feeling shame about it because it seems like no one else has them, I ask myself whether there's some kind of cultural pressure going on, and I ask myself whether maybe we would do better examining these tendencies and pressures together, so we can figure out where we stand, and which of the beliefs and tendencies to embrace, and which to say pbtpbtpbtpbt!!!! to.

I wonder how that could be accomplished.

Do you have those feelings? Could you use a way to talk about those feelings with other folks who struggle with them?

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