Paraphrase: The Taiwan Call [Updated]
Dec 3rd, 2016 by Dr Karma

Trump: “China is laughing” at us.

Trump: “I have the best brain.”*

Trump: “I think I know more about foreign policy than anybody running.”

[Taiwan calls. Trump the takes call.]

China: Um . . . you’re not supposed to do that.

Diplomats and all the rest of us who follow politics**: Um . . . doesn’t that threaten 40 years of policy?

Trump: It’s Taiwan’s fault! They called!

China: We’re not actually that upset about it. We know you have no idea what you’re doing, Mr. President-Elect. [not subtle tittering]

Thus, the prophecy is fulfilled.

Conservatives tell Democrats to stop freaking out. They say we can only be upset if we’re upset at Obama’s and Hillary’s foreign policy decisions.

Democrats stop rolling their eyes long enough to point out that this wasn’t a decision so much as a gaffe & a logical consequence to someone getting a job he’s not prepared for.

Trump’s team: Umm, no. We totally planned that. This was well thought out. You know, even though Trump said it was Taiwan’s fault–it was in the plan all along.

151107004521-china-taiwan-relations-rivers-jiang-pkg-00000127-large-169*I wanted to paraphrase these lines too–but there really wasn’t a way to dumb them down any further.

**This statement doesn’t take a side in the dispute–it just acknowledges there is one.


A few weeks ago, I published this on Facebook, but it’s another useful paraphrase:

Republican story: Obamacare is awful in every way. We’re gonna get rid of it and give you something better.
The story I’ve lived through: Republicans do nothing to help people get care for years and years. Millions and millions uninsured, sometimes because of pre-existing conditions.
Republican think tank comes up with a plan to cover everyone.
It gets implemented in Mass.
Republicans don’t want it to spread.
Obama basically uses that plan when he has to compromise & not give us a single payer option.
It gets called Obamacare.
It gets called evil.
Republican states sue so they don’t have to cover their poor people, even though the plan will SAVE them money.
They bitch, while my family and friends finally get healthcare.
Their new leader says it’s the worse thing that’s ever happened to America.
Their new leader gets elected.
He googles Obamacare, admits that most of it is awesome.
He and Ryan are going to “keep” a lot of it, but do some interesting things that will likely make premiums go way up.
They pretend to save us.
(Remember when they didn’t didn’t care about this problem at all? It took Obamacare to get them to DO ANYTHING.)


I also recommend my recent post/manifesto, if you haven’t read it yet.

Giving Thanks & Making Plans
Nov 24th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Today is Thanksgiving, and I’m having trouble giving thanks.

It’s not that I don’t have things to be thankful for. I do. My friends, my family, my job, my waking up this morning, etc.

Still, it’s hard this year to celebrate this particularly American holiday, because it’s hard to be American right now.

Thanksgiving is always difficult, politically. The shadow of what the settlers and the American government have done to the people who shared the first feast hangs over us, especially this year, as our government stands against Standing Rock.

Thanksgiving creates political problems in another way–as we overeat in the company of those who have just voted in ways we find just plain silly or downright evil.

And today I think back to how Thanksgiving in its modern form came to be.

After the Civil War, the country was divided. A woman wrote to President Lincoln, suggesting that we have a national day of Thanksgiving–an American holiday–to bring us together.

It worked, for a while, for some.

We’ve been divided for quite a while. It’s hard to remember that we didn’t say “red state” or “blue state” in the 20th century. It’s hard to remember that the American flag used to belong to all of us. In the early 2000s, it became synonymous with Republicans. Even under Obama’s leadership, when I was feeling very American, it would have felt weird to fly a flag. I would have been worried that it would signal that I was conservative.

It pisses me off that they somehow took the flag.

So today I need to be really clear about what I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful that, through fate alone, I was born here and now.

I’m thankful that more Americans voted for Hillary than for a demagogue.

I’m thankful that the vast majority of this nation is not on his team.

I’m thankful that the vast majority isn’t trying to drag the rest of us back to the fifties. The vast majority believes in equal rights, in women’s right to work, in women’s right to say no, in women’s rights to be on juries and to direct juries from the bench, in non-christians’ rights not to be forced to pray in school, in religious freedom to practice religion (while not demonizing people who pray differently or who have different sexual desires and identities), in the fact that black lives matter to, in fighting white supremacy.

We are not the silent majority.

We are the loud as fuck majority.

They want to go back in the past.

We are moving to the future.

We’ll win.

This is #21stcAmerica.

It’s ours.

Nov 15th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Post (election of) Trump Stress Disorder

I have PTSD. I was diagnosed a couple of years ago when my living situation with a family member triggered me–heart rate problems, flashbacks, high blood pressure, nightmares.

My living situation is different now, and I’ve done extensive EMDR therapy with a psychiatrist who specializes in treating this problem.

I’d been having a much higher level of anxiety in the months leading up to this election, but so was everyone else. All of my doctors report their patients having problems with this. But I still didn’t think that what was scaring me could happen.

It happened.

It has taken me a few days to admit that I’m being triggered. My heart rate is way too high, I’m having flashbacks, my blood pressure is way up, and I’m having nightmares. Today, I was listening to the news and sending an email, and suddenly I realized that I was unwell. I didn’t know if I was going to throw up or fall down. Luckily, I was able to recognize it as an anxiety attack and get through it before it was time to go to school.

Stress is, of course, a trigger, but there’s simply more to it than that.

I feel physically unsafe, both for myself and my students. I’ve lived through Bush, and while his policies scared me, I wasn’t scared of his supporters in a physical way. I am currently afraid of some of my fellow Americans–mostly because I know they don’t see me as American–only they count when they talk about Americans. I’m a race traitor, I’m a woman, I’m an ally, I’m an atheist, I’m a progressive, I’m an intellectual.

But it’s even more personal than that.

My PTSD, if I may diagnose myself, is being triggered because of long ago traumas.


Slow dissolve.

Pensacola, Fl. My mother’s apartment.

I am barely 18.

I am technically between homes, having moved my stuff out of my grandparent’s house the day before (long story). I hadn’t been living with my mother, mostly due to her abusive boyfriend, Don: racist, redneck, sexist. His son had praised Hitler in our one conversation. Don had once told me he was glad I was carrying to term, since women who got abortions should be shot. My mother, solidly pro-choice, had sat silently.

I am getting ready for bed; I’m in a T-shirt and underwear. My infant son is resting quietly.

My mother’s boyfriend appears, screaming and drunk.

“There isn’t room in her life for both of us,” he says.

And then he comes at me.

I run out the door, luring him away from my son, who is now screaming. I hide in the bushes. I pray.

The landlord comes and chases him away.

My mother makes excuses. For him. To me.

The next night, he comes over. “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you ARE A BITCH.”

My mother wants us all to watch TV together. Don was just drunk, she explains again.

I have no car, no money, no license, no way out, until she takes me to move into my great-grandfather’s bedroom (two hours away) the next day. He had just died that morning, and decisions had been made.

I don’t want to watch TV with him; I don’t want to pretend he didn’t attack me. My mother insists. I call her sister, who tells my mother that I should be allowed to nurse and read quietly in another room.

I had never been physically attacked before.

Whenever my mother and ex-stepfather would drunkenly scream at each other, when I was younger, she would take me aside after, explaining that calling a woman a bitch was the worse thing you could say.

“Don’t ever let a man treat you this way.”

Flash forward to this boyfriend, him attacking me, and her behind him, quietly saying, “No, Don, don’t.”


This is what I flash back to. This is where the nightmares are coming from. Racist, sexist, violent, hate-filled people who don’t think there’s room enough in their country for all of us. I am physically afraid of them.

This time, my mother isn’t even saying, “No, Don, don’t.”

She voted for him.


2016 Election Blame Game
Nov 11th, 2016 by Dr Karma

On Facebook, I see different people excusing themselves from responsibility of what happened.

“Oh, I voted for a third party in a swing state, but it’s the fault of people who didn’t vote at all.”

There’s more than enough blame to go around here, people.


It is the fault of those who voted for Trump because they loved him.

It is the fault of those who voted for Trump even though they could see him for what he was.

It is the fault of those who said, “he says what we’re all thinking.”

It is the fault of those who said, “Oh, he doesn’t mean x; he’s just saying that for votes.”

It is the fault of Trump, who is a psychopath, in the full clinical definition of the word.

It is the fault of anyone who ever let that psychopath think he wasn’t one.

It is the fault of those who voted for third party candidates, esp. in swing states.

It is the fault of eligible voters who didn’t vote, esp. in swing states.

It is the fault of the media who gave Trump so much free air time.

It is the fault of the media who harped on the emails.

It is the fault of the media who didn’t equally harp on all of Trump’s scandals.

It is the fault of voters who listened to a single kind of media without doing any fact checking.

It is the fault of conspiracy theorists who kept spreading lies about Clinton.

It is the fault of those who spread lies about America–that crime is up, that the economy is completely down, that Sharia law governs whole cities here, etc.

It is the fault of foreign interests, esp. Russia and Wikileaks, who tried to take down one of the parties. And succeeded.

It is the fault of the voters who let them.

It is the fault of the electoral college system (and the primary system).

It is the fault of Clinton for not being perfect, for making mistakes, and not dealing with those mistakes well.

It is the fault of those who kept insisting that Clinton and Trump were equally bad, were equally dangerous for America.

It is the fault racists.

It is the fault of sexists.

It is the fault of religious bigots.

It is the fault of nationalists.

It is the fault of the homophobic.

It is the fault of the selfish.

It is the fault of the anti-science people.

It is the fault of very religious people who are so against “sharia” law, but who intend to make our laws based on their faith.

It is the fault of those who are uninformed.

It is the fault of those who don’t understand how economics work.

It is the fault of all those who don’t understand their own privilege.

It is the fault of those who don’t understand history–who don’t know that it was the extremely high tax burden on the rich that made the 1950s so awesome for (heterosexual white male) middle class people.

It is the fault of those who don’t see parallels between what is happening now and what happened in Germany, who spent the last eight years saying Obama was Hitler only to go on to elect their own demagogue, who actually is one.

It is the fault of the Republican states who have changed voter rules (and the Supreme Court who let them), making it harder to vote in all kinds of ways.

It is the fault of the first Americans, who, despite George Washington’s advice, established a two party system.

It is the fault of my family members who are continually taken in by that party to vote against their self interest.

It is the fault of other of my family members who only vote in their own self interests, and believe that everyone else on this planet, unless they’re family, should be completely on their own.


It’s basically everyone’s fault.

Can we please FIX IT NOW?


Twirling Towards Freedom
Nov 2nd, 2016 by Dr Karma

I usually don’t like it when people say The Simpsons has “predicted” something. I’ve even written a blog about it.

However, I was just remembering a long ago Simpsons episode in which Bill Clinton and Bob Dole put aside their partisan differences to defeat a threat to America–a threat taking the undeserved form of presidential candidates.

And now, both of those men (and ALL living former Presidents, Republican and Democrat) are rejecting exactly the kind of man who would like to make us all build a ray gun to smite his enemies.

Don’t vote for Kang/Kodos.

Vote with Clinton & Dole!

Trump, I mean Kang & Kodos, posing as qualified politicians (and exchanging long protein strings).

Trump, I mean Kang & Kodos, posing as qualified politicians (and exchanging long protein strings).

Being Dressed Down over Dress Codes: Teaching at a For-Profit College
Oct 26th, 2016 by Dr Karma

I’m fairly sure neither the students nor I wanted to be in our class.

About 15 years ago, I worked at a for-profit technical college, the type so often in the news today.

I had lived in California for about nine months—I had moved out to go to grad school at The University of California, Davis. In return for my teaching, they paid my tuition and gave a small nine month stipend. It was not quite enough to live on, especially as I was a single mother.

“How do people support themselves over the summer?” I asked my grad advisor—it’s not like the rent could go unpaid.

“Hmmm. I actually don’t know that. . . . I think most of them have spouses.”


And so I started teaching summer classes at MTI in Sacramento.

The students were varied—ranging from their early twenties to their fifties. Most were parents. Almost all worked full-time jobs. We would meet three hours a week for an evening. The women primarily wanted to be paralegals and understood the value of the writing class I taught. The men primarily wanted to get a promotion or a move into another business or tech field—they saw the class as another hurdle—a barrier—to what they wanted to do.

When I tried to talk to one man about how to improve his writing, he simply said, “Just give me a C.”

Still, the majority of the students and I got along. Maybe since I had technically been a returning student and was also working my way through higher ed, we understood each other.

The “college” and I are a different story. Perhaps the best way to explain is to talk about appearance.

I had to go out and buy a couple of suits to work there. I managed at UCD with only one—my conference suit—because we didn’t have a “dress code” like MTI did.

We were modeling being professional, we were told.

The students also had to abide by rules, including one that to even be a student, one couldn’t have visible tattoos, as my students informed me.

It’s harder for people with tattoos to get jobs. MTI’s only real marketing point was their alumni job rate (we know that most schools count an alumni having a job if they’re employed at all—even if they have the same job they had before attending). Thus, students who might be hard to place just didn’t get in.


The strangest enforcement of dress codes, though, came when I had emergency surgery.

Part of the reason I came to UC Davis was because they offered healthcare to their graduate students. With pre-existing conditions, I couldn’t get healthcare on my own, not even when I worked for Florida State University prior to moving.

I’d been struggling with immense back pain. After almost a year of trying to figure out what was wrong, I got an MRI, showing a massive sacral disc herniation. (I was 25.)

I should have been in recovery for six weeks, but that’s not how bills get paid, so I was back at work in six days.

The night I came back, the air conditioner wasn’t really working; it was over 100. Halfway through our three hours, I asked the students if they would mind if I slipped off my heels—I wasn’t supposed to wear them with a bad back anyway.

They didn’t mind.

I got an email the next day, saying that someone had looked into my classroom via the 6X2” window in the door.

It said that if I couldn’t dress appropriately for work, I shouldn’t come to work.

Now, this was a “college” that robo called all of us on 9/11/2001 to say that we HAD to have classes as usual—that there would be consequences for deciding not to teach or be taught.

I got on the phone with my supervisor, explaining the situation. She held her ground. It would have been better, yes, to cancel class than to teach barefoot or in sandals.

She suggested that if I couldn’t keep my shoes off, perhaps I should sit behind the desk.

“For three hours?”

“Yes,” she replied, even after I explained to her that trying to keep people’s attention in a hot summer room for three hours is hard enough without losing the energy one gains by standing and walking and using the board.

It would have been disrespectful to my students, I thought, to bore them that way.

My students were horrified when I told them the story in the next session.

My wannabe paralegals wanted to sue, as I was clearly, if temporarily, disabled. I told them it would be more fun to sue on ethnic discrimination. I was raised white trash in the South and thus shouldn’t be expected to wear shoes at all.

Of course, we didn’t sue. We did gripe and let off steam, though.

Why should I be treated differently—and why should they—when my writing class at MTI is supposed to be the same as my writing class at UCD?

I had already published at conferences and had few years of teaching behind me at that point.

I knew how to do my job—with or without shoes.

But that wasn’t the point. MTI didn’t really care about what was happening in the classroom—they only cared what it looked like.

And so we had to cover our tattoos and and put on our suits to dress up MTI.

On the other hand (backhanded, that is)
Oct 15th, 2016 by Dr Karma

This week, one of my doctors and I had to take a moment to just look at each other.
I was in acute pain. He knew how to make it stop. He couldn’t, unless I wanted to cover the entire cost myself.
“I can’t give you the treatment because insurance wouldn’t authorize it this fast. I can’t give you a shot of pain killer to tide you over–I’m your specialist. Your primary can do that, but I can’t.”
We talked about ERs and cabbages and kings.
I have a lot of complaints about my body–I have chronic issues, including chronic pain.
I have a lot of complaints about insurance and the American model of medicine–I’ve written about some of them here–not all of it. In 2017, I should run a ledger: how many hours do I spend on the phone with my insurance company? How many times are my bills wrong? How many times is my medical care (a prescription, a treatment) denied?
It was an expensive week (next week will be too). In addition to my insurance premiums and my meds (so many meds), I paid $200ish in doctor/procedure fees that weren’t about my acute problem. The acute problem added in another $200ish.
On the other hand, I am thankful I have insurance.
On the other hand, I am so thankful for my team.
With few exceptions, my health care team is incredible, and not just because they’re willing to fight for me.
Let’s look at this week.
First, my chiropractor and my massage therapist have worked very hard. On Monday, I couldn’t walk. I managed to get to classes the rest of the week due to people being willing to fight with my muscles and my misalignments.
On Thursday, my PTSD therapist (who works in the pain clinic) got on the phone with my pain doctor during our appointment to explain that my back had gone from chronic to acute and that I needed intervention asap.
Usually, it’s at least a month to get on the calendar. My pain doc is going to try a fun new intervention Wednesday morning.
That same day, my neurologist and I had the conversation discussed above. He has me on his schedule for Monday, as an intentional overboook, in case I couldn’t get in to see a primary yesterday. He called in a prescription for a patch to apply to my back (I haven’t been able to use it–insurance is being difficult).
Yesterday, I was able to get a same day appt with my primary care physician’s colleague. It was his last of the day–4:45. Still, he was thorough and kind. He listened. When I suggested a tweak on what he wanted to do–one kind of shot instead of another–we talked it through.
His PA came in to give me my shot, but so did the building’s shot nurse–a year before, when my back was acting up like this, we had an issue with this shot (for your sake, I’m being vague here). She wanted to check on me, to make sure I was as okay as possible, to make sure this shot went well.
In other words, the people who take care of me are awesome.
Insurance, I have an amazing group of people trying to tackle amazingly difficult problems. Please let them.

Start of Fall Update
Sep 25th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Remember when I wrote about some changes I was trying to make? Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve still been walking/exercising a lot more. However, I fell behind in doing lots of writing.

In my defense, I taught three classes this summer, went straight to Spain for a conference after the quarter was done, came back to start five more classes, and am heading to Sweden on Tuesday.

There are lots of pics and experiences to share–and I will–I just have to do this other stuff first. 🙂

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen my piece on Star Trek, it’s here.

Mindfulness Poetry
Aug 29th, 2016 by Dr Karma

The other day, I read an amazing humor piece in The New Yorker: Poetry for Modern Mindfulness.

An example:

Swiffering my floor, I offer thanks to the Procter & Gamble company / For a marvellous cleaning product, although I know that / Some people think P. & G. got the idea of electrostatic cleaning cloths from a Japanese firm, / And that the Swiffer Sweeper is based on the “razors and blades” model—that is: I must keep buying expensive new replacement cloths endlessly. / Nevertheless! / I love its silence, so unlike the infernal noise of the vacuum cleaner. / This silence has changed my life, / Allowing me to clean my house, / A chore I do not enjoy, / While talking to my friends on the phone. / A win-win for me.

My mantra this week:

As I head down the stairs

bleary eyed in the morning

I know my demented cat

will have left his business

at the very bottom.

But in what configuration?

Will there be some, almost dry,

that I won’t see

with my eyes,

allowing me to see with my feet,

my nose,


but in this moment

at the top of the stairs

the mystery remains.

The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 45
Aug 25th, 2016 by Dr Karma

Every day, I get an email about who’s been trying to hack this site. Specifically, I am alerted when a distinct IP gets blocked after 20 failed attempts to log on. Usually, these IPs are registered in other countries, but someone in Kansas wants in too.

There are also a lot of spam comments. Hundreds are blocked every day. Some are just ads. Some are in completely different languages. And some pose as real comments, with compliments on content (though never specific)–I think they’re hoping that if a comment gets approved, they’ll have unrestricted access to the comment section from then on.

I’m not alerted to all this spam–my program only shows me actual comments and what might be actual comments so I can choose to approve them.

This week, this spam comment came through for approval on this entry:

What i do not understood is if truth be told how you’re no longer actually much more well-favored than you may be right now.

You are very intelligent. You know thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me individually consider it from
a lot of numerous angles. Its like men and women aren’t involved until it’s
something to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs nice.
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Obviously spam, right?

Actually, I can’t blame the program. Have you seen what real guys write to me on dating sites? The readability level is basically the same. 😉

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