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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 2,634

About Me

More things I say at <a href=\"http://vixenstrangelymakesuncommonsense.blogspot.com\"> Strangely Blogged</a>.

Journal Archives

What matters

What matters is the terror
that makes the indignity
pale before
the need to cry out
in self-defense
of your body,
notwithstanding the
threat to your mind
or the threat to your
but the terror of control.

That word,
the specter of unseemliness
and the collective distaste
at the messiness
of so-called undignified
or unrespectable people;
the idea there should be self-control--

it's a lie.

When others have control
of you,
they strip that dignity and
they determine what seems
and make a new story
from the silence
of your stolen voice.

That undignified self
is a self robbed of dignity.
That unrespectable self,
is a self denied respect.

That control--
that some people have when
they shoot themselves while in handcuffs.

That control--
that some people have
when they find the strength to heave themselves up
by a bed sheet.

That control--
that some people have when they remain a threat
after ten or twenty or thirty
bullets fill their bodies.

That control--
that some people have when they
can provoke getting their body slammed
with a certain look in their eyes.

That control--
when all the education and self-determination
end up in an altercation
and a trip to a weekend
incarceration--no round trip.

That control, is a control
done unto,
and is done without respect for
your life.

And that is what matters.

And that is a situation very much out of control.

"The Left" Is Actually Obsessed With Cake.

Sen. Ted Cruz has addressed LGBT rights again, and once again the best way I can describe our differences is "cake or death."

What Cruz has to say about "the left" and our weird support of gay rights is:

"Is there something about the left and I am going to put the media in this category that is obsessed with sex?" Cruz asked reporters at an event in Beaumont, Texas, according to the Texas Tribune.

"ISIS is executing homosexuals you want to talk about gay rights?" Cruz continued. "This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS, the expansion of radical, theocratic, Islamic zealots that crucify Christians, that behead children and that murder homosexuals that ought to be concerning you far more than asking six questions all on the same topic."

Cruz railed against "mandatory same-sex marriage" and criticized a reporter for asking about his views on gay marriage, according to the Texas Tribune.

Nobody on the left gives two damns about what consenting adults (key words, "consenting" and "adults") do in their private time. What we are concerned about is a public issue--how LGBT people's rights are respected in employment, in commerce, in not being harassed in schools, workplaces, or the street, and in being able to form property contracts with the partner of their choosing. It's not the sex--after all, Lawrence v. Texas used equal treatment under the law to invalidate anti-sodomy laws that discriminated specifically against LGBT people, and the accomplished attorney Cruz should be well aware of that case. The movement for equality is about rights that extend beyond the bedroom, but do not extend beyond those that straight people already enjoy.

So it happens that when Governor Pence or Governor Jindal enshrine a tradition that excludes certain people as a class by elevating the distinction of other people's religious prejudices, they are actually violating the equal treatment concept. They are saying that some classes (where that class is picked out by some but not all persons as uniquely deserving of being so singled out--and which should not exist as a class by law because we should presume equality) get to be treated differently because some other class (religious people, whose faith exemption from the law of the land is taken at face value because they have shouted the equivalent of "dibs-no homo!") is being given special treatment.

To either not understand the distinction because it is too outside of one's ideological box to grasp it, or to be able to well and truly able to grasp it in principle, but be quite cozy in not grasping it in practice, are both hallmarks of a craven mind. Yeah. I went there.

Also, and I am so glad Ted Cruz brought this up--ISIS is not the standard by which Americans should judge our conduct. Saying that any group should be content with less than full equality because elsewhere they might face death is a cop-out. We are not like ISIS here. But this does not mean that we should be satisfied with just not being ISIS. I woke up this morning, and I was not an axe-murderer. Is that my standard?

Comparing ourselves to the worst of humanity is a fairly disgraceful scale. We torture, but seldom with rape. We use mines, but not in the fields where children farm. We drone, but mostly we go after "evil-doers". But the reason Sen. Cruz seems comfortable with this comparison is because he doesn't have a problem with the discrimination itself. Only the degree--like a whore, we know what he is and are quibbling about his price.

And I, on the other hand, know what that discrimination is like, to a degree, and realize that there are Americans who aren't all that removed from ISIS on this score.

The choice is cake or death. The Left will always go with cake. This is because we are not out of our damn minds.

Her Body: Graveyard

The first time at twenty-five
I felt the child inside me alive
until the cramp and blood--
the violent ending
of my unsung son.

And the second time,
she barely registered--
a missed period, a test,
and I guessed,
maybe yes--this time
I'd fight my biology.
But I fought nausea
and in tears knew
how quickly
ceased to be.

My hard-fought fertility
has taken me from
the bed to the ER
to doctors and the spare
couch where I have sat,
paging through unaffordable options,
to have
just one, adorable child.

So tell me,
when this one dies,
if it dies, under my heart,
when do I start to heal--

with a surgical finish
and a promise that we will meet again?
Or will some
jumped up motherfucker
make me leave his little
joined in me until the
rush of
thankless labor
some days off
let me unburden the ghost
of another child I did not have?

Make my heart a
and inscribe there
their names unwritten
for what your laws will make
of my potters' womb.

A monument to death in me.
My life a tomb
for your

Her Body: Home

She saw the pills in the drain of the sink,
covered in coffee grounds.
He could have rinsed them down--
but he wanted her to see.
She thought about rinsing them off
and hiding them somewhere like her purse,
but she didn't. Playing that game
would only make it worse.
She told herself she could get more
if she said she was just seeing her ma;
he would let her go then, she could
make it quick--it wasn't so far.

And then a week went by and she didn't go.
And then there were two.
By the third week she thought
about it a lot; by the sixth week, she knew.
She couldn't say a word to him--
he'd only rub it in her face
and she didn't know what story
might get her to that other place,
the one halfway across the state
with the 72-hour wait.

Her Body Battlefield

The battle was here
on her skin,
under her nails,
thick in her nostrils,
warm at her legs,
for moments,
desperate for weeks.

When the
became her emergency
the truce flag
was waved
not by herself
but by the heroes
she thought might
have saved

but she
was given up for dead
on the battlefield
of her body
(or at least, hors
de combat),

and her occupier was
treated with
as if
she mattered no more.
For on one battle
rested her entire

Her Body Migrant

They wanted her
back down,
no hope,
used, traded.

nightmares only.
Freedom denied
and penetration
Stolen life
a story
of transit-points
and bargains
and sometimes,

she was the chip.

This seed
that tastes like shame

holds a body in bounds,

and would you dare bargain for her
freedom with indifference to her

not call this thing "rape"?

Make her body the place
you sink in your
staff and wave your
merry flag? A fish and a cross?

Fuck yourself.

Her body is her proof.
Let her have her freedom.

And leave your beady little conscience
to its worrying stones.
She bore her cross
why should she bear
a crown of thorns?

Her body is not your business to shame
but the burden you
to know.

And if you do not dare--
speak no more of her fate
slink down from your place;
for you have no right to
what you would
not face.
Her body,
and the sanctity of its life.

The Horizon of Veronica Smart

The speedboat named The Horizon, owned by one Veronica Smart, was an unsalvageable mess after plowing uncontrollably into a less-fortunate speedboat, which had no salvageable persons onboard. But The Horizon had Veronica Smart, and her insurance was very good and rescuing her was like salvaging gold bars with little rubies worked in. The Coast Guard picked up what remained of Veronica Smart and, after finding that she was in no way responsible for what happened, left it to the doctors to figure out how to make the most out of what they pulled out of the water.

Veronica was young, healthy, 28 years old, the daughter of a politically-influential billionaire. She was attractive, headstrong, athletic, and missing quite a lot, but the doctors were reasonably sure that they had the technology to keep her mostly intact and functional.

Of course, there was the issue of consent. What they were proposing was a bit dramatic. But when they explained that her body, such as it was, could either undergo dozens of operations and months if not years of physical therapy to regain a portion of her original functionality, or could be restored to even more optimal functionality by a full replacement of her damaged limbs with the most advanced cybernetics, she was intrigued. Having though about it for a bare minute, and understanding full well that money was no object--she consented. Getting right back to what she considered her business, without any major hiatus, seemed a fully reasonable decision.

Of course, it didn't go quite as well as was expected.
The problem was where to leave well enough alone, and there really hadn't been a very good well-enough. Her legs were shot, but they led to her brittle and shocked hip-sockets, which could be rimmed with steel, but then, what of the rest of her pelvis, and then, her spine had several fractures, but figuring out where to put a rod in was a bit delicate. And well, her arms were broken, but where does one stop? 3D printed clavicles, breastbone, steel-reinforced bones, and then, well, the nerve-damage caused a bit of a confusion about the opportunistic infection that affected her fingers, because having about 40% of her body replaced had triggered a bit of a shocky insulin response. So they went with the hands, too.

She had quite a few more surgeries than she thought she would, and coming out of the epidural fog she wondered really, what was her and what wasn't. But when she got the hang of the commands and how to integrate the replacements with her thoughts, it was really more like relearning how to use a part of herself, and not like mastering a tool at all.

All in all, she was about 60% new. Her teeth were already implants from an unfortunate horse-riding accident. Her jaw was enhanced.

She took off before her therapy was complete, because she had things to do. She got a PDA hardwired into her left temple, because of course she did. She was a living WiFi hotspot. She could hit up search engines at the speed of thought. She downloaded mods to her cybernetic limbs to enjoy VR games. She acquired a peripheral robot servitor to do little errands that sent her date via a remote cam.

They weren't sure what to make of her when she went back in to ask if her diaphragm wasn't right. What she meant was--her breathing wasn't optimal. She coughed. She presented an ungodly green sputum. What she assumed was a wares issue was a biological concern--pneumonia. Quite a bad case, too. And she rather innocently signed a request form to see about getting artificial lungs. It was the Plague years, after all, and lungs could not be simply replaced from donors if needed. And the tech to get cloned lungs wasn't as on-demand as the meat-vatters insisted in their investment paperwork.

She got the pneumo-works and a stainless steel heart. It clattered in a charming way that made her think of teapots. This motivated her to really sink herself into her chosen work--

Charity. It always struck Veronica that she had been uniquely blessed in her life, after all, with money, and looks and all that. It also always occurred to her that she had hovered near-death more than a few times. So she built a few hospitals that performed, if not the same high-tech therapies that kept her running, reasonable technologies that allowed poor people to live a bit longer. She raised money--but that was for sponsoring the unfortunates who benefitted from her hospitals. Otherwise, she made a profit from people who had Brand X, Y or Z insurance and could sort of aspire to her ideal, which she put in her biography and all her charity literature. To be remade, healthy and new.

The digestive system was replaced with stainless steel and PVC after all her necessary medications took a toll on stomach, intestines, bladder and spleen, to the extent where she demanded they come out, or everyone on the staff of her premier hospital get sacked. And her actual nutritive requirement was so low, anymore, that she required ergs more than calories to go on. Her skin was replaced with a flexible solar-cell sheath.

Her first face lift was an actually lifted face. Her epidermis couldn't handle the heat of her various cranial implants anyway. The pseudoskin with solar cell inlays would never wrinkle, and the pores allowed optimal ventilation. Her eyebrows and hair were real. Ish. She kept abreast of all innovations in the body-mod arts as she led her father's business to capitalize on a hundred or so amazing new things to do with a human base model.

Her eggs were stored at thirty five and frozen because they were doing no good in her ovaries, and those little bastards had to come out because menstruation was ridiculous, and so did her uterus because she would hire a mother for her kids, anyway, and fallopian tubes were just iffy little pistols up in her junk, right?

Her eyes and ears were basically sub-optimal. Having downloaded wares that persuaded her of the enhancements to her senses (along with a guarantee of no decline in sensory experience) she bought in for the top-of the line optical and auditory implants. She could see ultra-violet and infra-red. She could hear dog-whistles.

She came at last with some profound sensory dysphoria and seizing to the crack medical team that had been advising her all this time. She wasn't hitting her targets. She was missing words sometimes. There were gaps in her holographic memory of her chronological life.

They did a CAT scan. The tangerine-sized thing that was all that remained of her original wetware processing was sick. It was dying, in fact.

They tried to be very circumspect and gentle. "Your brain is nearly dead," her GP explained.

"I remember who I am and I know what I want to do--so it can't be my whole brain, right?" Veronica replied.

"Well, no, you have processors for all the tech that make up your body, but your original birth-body brain is falling apart. Your parts work, but the organic 'you' is not working. It's dying."

She gave it a moment's thought. "Would I process more optimally without the wetware?"

Her doctors conferred. It was possible. Her various processors for the different parts worked well enough together. The wetware was human, but was it necessary?

"It is probable," one of them ventured.

"As I suspected," Veronica replied, and accessed her cell phone. "Execute estate protocol, fig. A corporate personhood, fig. B contract to serve corp. That is all." She then instructed the doctors. "I would prefer you remove the malfunctioning wetware so that I can continue performing optimally."

One of the surgeons gasped--"But that is the last part of you that is fully human!"

Veronica regarded him mildly. "I was Veronica when 75% human, and 50% human. I was Veronica at 90% factory parts. Why would the smallest part of my brain make a difference, now? And besides, I'm getting married in a week." She grinned and added "A church wedding."

Hardly anyone did have church weddings anymore. The alarmed doctor gulped and asked--"Does your intended know?"

And she replied "That is between me and my doctors! Just get my brain out of here, can you do that? My groom awaits!"

And the wedding was purely lovely, the cathedral, glorious, the groom, totally nervous, and of all too many human parts.

But that, of necessity, could be corrected.


(An SF-Horror story) Flesh of her Flesh

(Content warning, disease, surgery)

Sylvan didn't consider himself a ghoul, even if that was what they technically called his kind of work. He considered himself an ex-med student, for the most part, and an artist, at times. He offered a commodity (skin) and a talent (the cleanest scalpel-work a careful eye ever thought it saw). He made enough money to keep himself and her in their flat. He realized it wasn't a permanent arrangement, but it would do.

"Her" or "she" meant his mum. He stopped thinking of her as "Mom" or "mother" for now. It wasn't that he didn't love her, he had, it was just that she had contracted a severe form of narcovirus and simply wouldn't wake up, as far as anyone knew. No one ever did. He wasn't even sure there were trials, although at first, he sincerely looked for them. It was just that there were so many, many other New Plagues that fought for grant dollars. He got discouraged, and then got wrapped up in trying to kit out their place with proper equipment for her long-term care.

He was just over the line, what with his scholarship and her savings. And it wouldn't feel right, anyway, leaving her as a ward of the state, where anything might happen to her. Not after she worked so hard to get him into school with the burning faith that he could do something about the scary reality that was settling in.

She developed dropsy. It wasn't to be unexpected. He left her alone for great periods at a time while he still tried to pursue his studies. She. He was sure she wasn't uncomfortable, breathing normal, he fought to get Lasix to pump through her IV to work out the fluid and stabilize her blood pressure. But she just expanded on the bed. He moved her with difficulty as he regularly checked for atrophy or bedsores, flexing her legs for intervals in the hopes that she wouldn't curl into a grim fetal position. But she lay her damp form on the bed, straight, and with skin entirely smooth...

The kind of care he tried to provide between classes and tutoring was just the humane requirement she deserved, was all. The penalty for victim-dumping was high for people inclined to shorten their loved-one's lives, whether for compassion or financial reasons, probably because everyone was supposed to keep up hope. But he didn't even consider an alternative, even if it kept him trotting. He didn't really even have the cash to hire a migrant nurse under the table, anyway, not that he would entirely trust one. He heard things.

But that skin. So much of it.

The hot thing in underground surgery was taking care of herpes complex VI scarring. The lesions were often a hair larger than a loonie, and trying to patch the scarring meant grafts. Anti-rejection tech had come a long way, and he knew he could do that. He'd make some quick money, and she wouldn't even miss it.

She didn't miss anything--she missed everything, anymore.

He did it for a friend who was trying to get a job in finance. She didn't know where she got it, but it was an obvious part of her neck. Innocent enough--anyone could contract it, but in certain field it just wasn't done to go around looking like a plague-person. And legit doctors charged an arm and a leg and a firstborn child. And he had skin, from her. It was theft! His hair stood on his neck as if he expected his black operation to be immediately busted by the CDC ethics police, but it did not happen.

And in the end, he had five thousand dollars in his account he didn't have before, and paid the back rent, the electric, and got the landline switched back on.

The next time was a friend of a friend, an actor/model who needed his face, which was slowly getting wrecked. He kept that bankroll under her bed.

Then he did an ex-lover, who paid him 7 g's out of guilt and for discretion because she trusted him to not tell a soul, and really trusted him, and trusted him so much she threw him a tip. He really didn't feel so good about himself or her after that exchange, but her breast, under his knife, was made just as perfect as he once found it.

She slept through it all, as she would. He made sure she had pretty good medical-grade morphine. Her wound care was desperately attentive, but he wasn't sure anymore if his tenderness wasn't less because he respected her, and more, now, because she had become a commodity. He tried to tell himself this was for her, too, her medications, IV, catheters, and that anyway--he was doing his part against the plagues, wasn't he?

The money was real. There were too many unlicensed surgeons on the street anymore, anyway--need made a lot of requirements lax. With so much invested in formal training, he hated to give it up, but he was making real bank doing underground work.

And not all of them were about her--he didn't always have to graft. He was just a maestro of the micro incision. He turned plagued bodies into ones that looked so good. And he found connections for antivirals that kept them fresh, like they needed to be, until they needed his services again.

He was midway through a nice reworking of a trophy wife's yawning thigh gap, restoring the plumpness that her tissue should have, when he realized she (not the patient) had a sore. Not a bedsore.

He was screwed. He kept things pretty sterile, but he didn't really know what this would mean, now. Was he contaminating his patient with a new bug? Could he treat her for the lesions? Didn't this mean his op was shuttered, at least on the "commodity" side?

He completed that work and sent her on her way with a mild warning to pay attention to that new skin. Look for anything...different. He tried not to oversell his concern. Just being a black market professional, over here. Not panicking because his supply was tainted.

He sat with her overnight, contemplating what to do. She was like a patchwork. He realized, sickeningly too late, that her entire body was evidence of what he'd done. And it was a large body of evidence. He had about ten nervous breakdowns, took a smear, and drove out to a friend who did lab tests. He was being cool. Until he heard what it was--

Something fatal. He either killed his last patient, or, the evidence of what he did for the past several years to his own mother was about to come to light, or both, or he was going to have something happen.


He watched her sleep that last night. He wasn't not tending to her wound care. He just wasn't really. Flowers of purple and black spread around the scar tissue And then it struck him--lesions. Instead of scars. Covering up his imperfect crime of careful sutures with a perfect predation of careless infection. Disease, which he'd fought in his way, would be his ally.

They congratulated him on keeping her alive so long, and her so sick, when the ambulance finally took her away. They meant to be comforting. He was, after all, some kind of caretaker, right?

In the following morning, he took a girl to bed with skin so smooth, except just this little bit. And he did not care.


Dust and Bone

Eating dust and bone
with bled-out mouths
through tears too dry
to leave traces,
they were staring out
at a land called hope
with no hope left
on their faces.
When the danger fled,
danger still hung on,
the form of a brother
changed to a
treacherous friend--
the story so old
they could tell it to
with an ending
that tastes of dust
and bone.

Ten long years back
they were brave and awake
that the danger faced
could be made erased.
But that treacherous friend
simply lay in wait
letting the danger come back
by looking away.
They were promised guns
and the fat of the land
and got decades of war
and the back of the hand,
Could one be sore?
No, it was written in stone
if only they ever read
they would see,
that promises made were ever
dust and bone
and all they ever could be.

But the promises made
that lead to lives far worse
should be understood as
evil as a magician's curse
and the echoes back
from where they began
should cause sleepless nights
for the certainly damned--
as they sit at great tables
in their stately homes
may they taste nothing
but dust and bone.

More Like Death Panels For Small Websites

I dunno. Senator Ted Cruz says standard-issue stuff that right-wingers and telecom lobbyists have been saying for years like "Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet", and somehow, it's like no one ever said that before. Oh, they have. But it's kind of a niche issue that pretty much tech-savvy people have followed, and Ted Cruz pretty much assumes that if you aren't in the know--he can go ahead and snow you with a line as absurd as:

'"Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

Ok. That's stupid. Net neutrality is basically what we mostly have now, and Obama wants to preserve that. It would be doing away with net neutrality that would result in crappy service and unfair policies like "throttling" that would slow down internet service to certain customers or certain websites based on whatever criteria the internet providers decide on. (Here's an excellent visual explainer from The Oatmeal.) Basically, how much do you love the fees and services you are getting from your cable company? Right. Your internet company is either a cable company or the next best thing, and that is what they will do to your service.

In fine--Ted Cruz does not know what the hell he is talking about, or is really, really dependent upon the idea that most people listening to him do not know what he is talking about. I don't care how cute "Obamacare for the Internet" sounds--it's actually really dumb. And instead of repeating ignorant bumpersticker schtick, it would be really great if we just called a big-bidness toady out for croaking the company line.

Ted Cruz? Ribbit ribbit, you are so toady. And we are not that stupid.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
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