Thursday, March 13, 2008

pillow angels

i'm not sure how many of you have been following the ashley story (and, more specifically, the "ashley treatment")...CNN posted this article about it yesterday, which was the first i'd heard of it.

basically, this girl has an advanced form of cerebral palsy, which has rendered her unable to walk, speak, or take care of herself. doctors say she has the mental capacity of a 6-month-old baby.

the girl is ten years old, and her parents recently subjected her to what they call "the ashley treatment," which included a hysterectomy, removal of breast buds, and intense estrogen therapy to permanently stunt her growth. ashley is a little girl at 4 feet, 5 inches, and will now remain that way for the rest of her life, in spite of medical projections saying that she otherwise would have gained more than another foot of height. the saddest part is that the doctor who performed her operations committed suicide after doing so, although it's unclear as to why.

i found myself stunned by this story, but it also made me think. part of what got me was their promotion of the term "pillow angels" to describe severely disabled individuals who more or less can't leave bed. for some reason, this term bothers me; i feel like automatically labeling someone as an "angel" rather than a human with special needs is an odd sort of way to deal with it. in a way, it objectifies the individual through the roundabout way of trying to raise them ABOVE other humans; either way, the thing is no longer human. clearly, these parents have chosen to play god with this child, making life-altering decisions for her in a way that suggests they are above her; their use of the word "angel" to make it sound like she is above them isn't flying with me. it seems like a cheap shot to try to justify/compensate for their actions. moreover, what is the definition of "angel"? why is she now automatically an "angel" because she has developmental differences? it just seems like a strange, martyring use of language that doesn't grant ashley the humanity she deserves, yet arbitrarily pretends like she is greater than human at the same time. is it because she simply doesn't have the capacity for evil? i don't know. maybe.

sorry, i'm pretty scattered about this. i'm not really sure how to explain what i feel. i just know that it bothers me. obviously, beyond the language choices, there are some real ethical concerns with what they're doing, which i don't feel the need to get into here. however, i encourage you to go read her site, and read some of the other articles about what they've chosen to do.

what do you think? do we have the right to alter the lives of others for the sake of convenience (both theirs and ours; the parents didn't want to have to deal with her menstruation) when they can't say anything about it?

what if, within ashley's lifetime, a treatment for cerebral palsy is somehow discovered (never say never, people)? what then? what about when she "wakes up" at 35 and has a fully functioning psyche, yet permanently has the body of a little girl? scary to think about.


i am somewhat disturbed by the fact that nearly 100% of the information about spitzer's call girl being reported by is based on her myspace page.

yes, they ACTUALLY posted screen captures of the page, and quoted her musical influences. because she likes etta james, i am now better able to draw conclusions about spitzer's behavior. yup.

anyway, be careful (VERY careful) what you post.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


okay, so i haven't updated substantively in a little's what's up.

spring break was wonderful. i drove to seattle with a friend, stopping in at stanford for a couple of days on the way up and back down to visit with friends. i had such an incredible time with everyone i met up with in both cities...the weather left a LITTLE bit to be desired, i suppose, but the company certainly did not. i got to cook for people (hooray!), visit pike place market (which i am in LOVE with and want to transport to LA), see some cool places, and meet some awesome people. hooray! it was really wonderful to be able to just talk with people...good, smart, funny people...for hours on end. i'm lucky.

on a side note, does anybody know of any really cool marketplaces in the LA area? maybe a little more than a farmer's market, with good, fresh food, but also maybe some handcrafted goods, organic stuff, clothing, artisan work, and so on? i got some INCREDIBLE soaps (like creamsicle scent!) and amazing slippers at the one in seattle.

on another side note (this blog will likely be full of them), i'm thinking of starting a collaborative cooking blog. anybody interested? you don't actually have to be a "good" cook...just post whatever you're interested in or things you've made. if you know anyone who might want to be a part of that, let me know.

anyway, pictures from the week should be up sometime on facebook, once kyle gets around to uploading his and once i get my camera back.

as soon as i got back, i defended my master's thesis! it was a bit hectic, since i worked the whole morning and then had to rush around to change into a suit and buy/lay out a spread of food for my committee during the lunch hour, but it ended up being as smooth as glass. the snacks were a hit, although i now have over 100 brownies stashed under my bed with two large platters of crackers/cheese and veggies/dip crammed in the fridge. i felt classy in my Classy Suit (tm). more importantly, the committee accepted the thesis! i passed with flying colors in a frighteningly short deliberation process. most of the questions directed at me were things like "so. what do you think it would be like to have condi run for president? what have you learned from this process?" rather than "why don't you address this in the thesis?" this means that the thesis was accepted with a grand total of one (1) requested sentence change (which i feel dumb about, because i knew i should've put it in the text more blatantly, but oh well. can't win them all). i think i can deal with that. now i have about 4 more revision processes to go through, but this stuff is all technical and formatting related...the substance of it is done. mixed feelings; i probably could have written something better, but everyone has REALLY liked what i turned out anyway, so, uh. cool! it's about 132 pages right now, for those keeping score at home. it will be ready for binding and library placement (!) in less than a month.

this means i graduate the weekend of april 26th. ...WOOOOO!!!

my birthday's coming up soon, which is always sort of...meh. i haven't done anything fun for it for a few years, but this year i may change that. we'll see.

alright, those are all the various and sundry life updates. i'll post separate blogs for the commentary that's been running through my head recently. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

srs matters


i has them.

they're a little funky, but i think i love them. sadly, that picture doesn't show the coolest part: a silver embroidered outline of a leaping puma on the other side :D

what do you think?!