Inherit the Sexism

I was proud and excited when my sister, writing as Gwen C. Katz, author of Among the Red Stars, kicked off the “describe yourself how a male author would describe you” phenomenon. It’s a topic I know she’s passionate about, and I completely agree with her points.

I’m reading the book Inherit the Stars, by James P. Hogan, and it’s a perfect example of what she was talking about. It was written in 1977, and envisions a near-future scenario in which people are colonizing the Moon and Mars. On the Moon, they discover a mummified human body in a space suit–and the whole thing is 50,000 years old! Dum da dum!

I’m not going to ruin the story; Mr. Hogan did that himself, the way he visualized women in the future. Here’s what I mean.

  1. The first woman character doesn’t appear until page 28. A couple other ladies are mentioned, but only as a clerk or receptionist.  The book leans towards more hard science and explaining technical details, and none of the main characters are technically competent women. Not one. This is particularly noticeable when the author has characters say things like, “I’ll have the boys in the lab” do X, Y, or Z, or “The time has come, gentlemen, to dally no longer…” (p. 57)

    Caveat: I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I’ve read it before and I don’t recall any technically competent women appearing later.

  2. When the first female character is mentioned, here’s her full introduction:

    Lyn Garland, his personal assistant, greeted him from the screen. She was twenty-eight, pretty, and had long red hair and big, brown, intelligent eyes. (p 28)

    Thank goodness he included “intelligent” in the description. Otherwise I might’ve thought she was just a piece of ass stuck in there to keep the guys interested!

    Garland doesn’t get any actual dialogue during that introduction, however, beyond saying “Sure thing” to the boss’s request to bring in coffee. As noted previously, she’s not actually a researcher or engineer, like the other characters; she’s a secretary.

  3. After her introduction, Garland disappears for 20 pages, during which it’s all dudes talking technical stuff. (Way too complicated for the ladies!) She finally reappears on page 48 as the two main guys are trying to figure out what this mysterious table of numbers and letters means. Here’s how it goes down. I’m going to reproduce it in its full glory:

    His mumblings were interrupted as the door opened behind them. Lyn Garland walked in.

    “Hi, you guys. What’s showing today?” She moved over to stand between them and peered into the tank. “Say, tables! How about that? Where’d the come from, the books?”

    “Hello, lovely,” Gray said with a grin. “Yep.” He nodded in the direction of the scanner.

    “Hi,” Hunt answered, at last tearing his eyes away from the image. “What can we do for you?”

    She didn’t reply at once, but continued staring into the tank.

    “What are they? Any ideas?”

    “Don’t know yet. We were just talking about it when you came in.”

    She marched across the lab and bent over to peer into the top of the scanner. The smooth, tanned curve of her leg and the proud thrust of her behind under her thin skirt drew an exchange of approving glances from the two English scientists. She came back and studied the image once more.

    “Looks like a calendar, if you ask me,” she told them. Her voice left no room for dissent.

    Gray laughed. “Calendar, eh? You sound pretty sure of it. What’s this–a demonstration of infallible feminine intuition or something?” He was goading playfully.

    She turned to confront him with out-thrust jaw and hands planted firmly on hips. “Listen, Limey–I’ve got a right to an opinion, okay? So, that’s what I think it is. That’s my opinion.”

    “Okay, okay.” Gray held up his hands. “Let’s not start the War of Independence all over again. I’ll note it in the lab file: ‘Lyn thinks it’s a–‘”

    “Holy Christ!” Hunt cut him off midsentence. He was staring wide-eyed into the tank. “Do you know, she could be right! She could just be bloody right!”

    [the guys go into why she might be right. Then they ask:]

    “What on Earth made you say a calendar?”

    She shrugged and pouted her lips. “Don’t know, really. The book over there looks like a diary. Every diary I ever saw had calendars in it. So, it had to be a calendar.”

    Hunt sighed. “So much for the scientific method.”… (p. 48-50)

    What does one even say to this? How do I even start to express the depth of insulted disgust I feel at the entire scene?

    The girl gets to contribute, but not before the dudes lasciviously ogle her ass, proving she really is just there as a delectable hunk of meat. At first the men completely dismiss her insight as “female intuition.” It’s not until a man thinks she might be right that they start taking the idea seriously. And then, when she explains her reasoning, the men dismiss her logic as flawed, even though it’s actually reasonable: Nobody knows what the book mentioned is; it’s some alien artifact. It could very well be a journal or diary. But nooooo, some girl came up with that conclusion, so it’s clearly not in keeping with the “scientific method.”

    A little later, the same scientist is in a meeting with all the technical folks, Hunt goes on to introduce Garland’s ideas, without any attribution, as if they were his own:

    “What’s that?” asked a voice.

    “It’s from one of the pocket books,” Hunt replied. “I think the book is something not unlike a diary. I also believe that that”–he pointed at the sheet–“could well be a calendar.” He caught a sly wink from Lyn Garland and returned it.

    He then goes on to say he analyzed the pattern on the page and that the book is remarkably like a diary with a calendar. This, after mocking and poh-poh-ing a woman’s analysis that reached that very conclusion! So much for the scientific method, indeed.

That’s pretty much as far as I’ve gotten so far, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I want to continue.

I know the book was written in a different era, with different norms towards women. But the author was envisioning the future. He wrote about flying cars with internet connectivity, streaming movies, and video-conferencing. In the book, the world is peaceful and everyone is prosperous, and as a result, racism and classism and all that other stuff is gone. There’s no climate change. Countries pour their energy and extra resources (saved because they don’t need big militaries) into exploring space.

And yet, women only ever appear as young ladies in tight skirts serving the powerful, smart men as secretaries. The author couldn’t see past his day and age to envision a world in which women stood on equal footing with men, where a woman’s intelligence was as respected as a man’s, where a woman could lead men or participate equally in technical discussions with men.

And you know what? I think he was right. Forty years later, we’re still a society where ladies are just pussies to be grabbed by powerful men who then boast about their exploits on the record and still get elected to the highest office in the land. So I can’t really complain that the book isn’t realistic. The only unrealistic part, I guess, is the flying cars and the global peace and prosperity.

A Moment of Opportunity

I think I mentioned that on Thursday, I’m doing this 160-mile (give or take) bike ride, Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD). That’s why my family took off for the beach this week: Because on Wednesday I’ll be getting ready for this ride, and then on Thursday Dad and I will get up about 3:00 am (!) to drive down to Enumclaw to start riding at 5:30 am.

In preparation for this insanity, I’ve started getting up slightly earlier every morning. Yesterday it was 5:00 am; this morning, 4:30; tomorrow, 4:00 am (!!!!!! I try not to think about it too much). The theory is that I’ll be able to go to bed earlier each night, and that maybe it’ll make 3:00 am feel a little less like the middle of the night. A month ago, it actually wouldn’t have been so middle-of-the-night-ish, because the sun started rising about 4:00 am. But alas, we’re down from 16 to a measly 15 or so hours of daylight, and it’s definitely quite dark even at 4:30 am.

Anyway, getting up this early gives me some time, and I’ve spent a bit of it reading meta-analyses and discussions about the current global political situation. Many people I know have noticed it’s depressing, alarming, intolerable… but these couple articles I’ve been reading go farther than that, into interesting (and, yes, alarming) 10,000-foot views.

In the first one, titled “History tells us what may happen next with Brexit and Trump,” the author argues that people periodically inflict chaos upon themselves, but because we–all people–are short-term thinkers, we don’t remember that we’ve done this before. The academics who do notice are dismissed by the masses as “academic elites” who know nothing about the real world. The author suggests that

based on history we are due another period of destruction, and based on history all the indicators are that we are entering one. …It will come in ways we can’t see coming, and will spin out of control so fast people won’t be able to stop it.

He argues that things are likely to get really bad, possibly for many people, and cites a number of historical examples (think: Communist uprisings; World War I) where really horrendous numbers of people died from self-inflicted choices. Of course, nobody saw it coming, because we don’t look back at the past. But it’s there.

…it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe better. But for those at the sharp end?… this will be their Somme.

I find this conclusion particularly interesting. He begins his article arguing that the Black Death may have actually strengthened and improved humans in the long run (see article for full argument), and perhaps this will be our Black Death/Communist revolution/Archduke Ferdinand moment. But taking this period in the broader view of history as one of many similar events, which will eventually be overcome and perhaps even strengthen us–this is not an easy view to take, because today, right now, we have to face the reality of the possible misery we’re inflicting on ourselves. But maybe it’s a little bit hopeful for the long-term.

Also, it would sure be great if we didn’t inflict this on ourselves. If we could learn from those past mistakes. History didn’t have the kind of global communication network we enjoy today; it’s easier than ever to communicate with thousands, millions, perhaps even billions of people around the world. Unfortunately, it’s also easier than ever to live in an echo chamber, continually hearing our own views and thinking they’re the only truth. This is how people come to believe that everything is worse than ever before, and the world is falling apart: Now we can instantly receive news of every bad event happening around the world, and then our chosen voices reinforce the fearful belief of spiraling insanity. Even though we can communicate more easily than ever before, this may not actually be good for us.

In the second article, written at the beginning of May before Trump sealed the nomination, is titled “Democracies end when they are too democratic.” In it, the author compares Plato’s “Republic” to today. Now, I can’t claim to have read it (my classical education was woefully neglected; my parents have so much to answer for!), but fortunately the author assumes we’ve all missed our classical educations, and he summarizes for us:

And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.

[Plato describes the tyrant this way:] He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.

The article goes on to discuss the fragility of democracy against tyrants, how our amazing freedom literally allows us to choose our own downfall:

I think we must confront this dread and be clear about what this election has already revealed about the fragility of our way of life and the threat late-stage democracy is beginning to pose to itself. …[American democracy] is not immortal, nor should we assume it is immune to the forces that have endangered democracy so many times in human history. …It is precisely because of the great accomplishments of our democracy that we should be vigilant about its specific, unique vulnerability: its susceptibility, in stressful times, to the appeal of a shameless demagogue.

This goes back to the previous article I mentioned, how people forget the bad choices of the past and will repeatedly pick options not in their best interest. With democracy as democratic as we have it — and the article argues that it’s more democratic than ever before — people literally do have the power to choose harmful leaders, with increasingly weak checks that can no longer serve to protect people from their own bad decisions.

It also goes into how the rise of the Internet media and the decline of, well, mediated media has exacerbated the situation, as I noted above in my own thoughts:

The web’s algorithms all but removed any editorial judgment, and the effect soon had cable news abandoning even the pretense of asking “Is this relevant?” or “Do we really need to cover this live?” in the rush toward ratings bonanzas. In the end, all these categories were reduced to one thing: traffic, measured far more accurately than any other medium had ever done before. …And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin. Godwin’s Law — it’s only a matter of time before a comments section brings up Hitler — is a reflection of the collapse of the reasoned deliberation the Founders saw as indispensable to a functioning republic.

Then, of course, the stage is set for Trump:

  • We’ve got people who don’t know history and aren’t aware of the many precedents of masses choosing catastrophic options;
  • We’ve got the loudest voice being heard the most, and traditional media tossing out editorial quality in favor of pursuing higher ratings and more traffic;
  • We’ve allowed the power to transfer to all of us, giving great power to ignorance and foolishness, with no balance or check to prevent the most compelling foolish choices (the article says, “The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force”);
  • We love to be entertained! Let the most entertaining person win.

I’ll let you all read the whole article, which then proceeds to evaluate why Trump is, in fact, winning–and why he may actually win it big. The long and short of it is that people, collectively, aren’t able to look beyond their own little moments to see a bigger picture.

This is why the Republicans couldn’t unite to defeat Trump in the primaries, and I greatly fear that “never Hillary” holdouts may win their battle but loose us all the war: Individuals aren’t willing to hold their noses and vote against something terrible (Trump) when it means voting for something less ideal (Hillary). Perhaps this time, Democrats can at least learn from the recent history of the Republicans’ failure to stop Trump, and die-hard Bernie supporters can vote for Hillary even though they don’t love her. Surely, if you’re starving, you might prefer cake, but you’d still eat Brussels sprouts over a pile of poop.

The appeal of Trump is compelling and understandable: A promise to instantly “win” for people who suddenly, unexpectedly started losing after a lifetime of winning themselves. The global picture of terror at every turn, combined with the uneven economic recovery that has left many folks in a tough spot, makes for potent motivation to seek out the loudest, strongest voice. He’s the choice that absolves you from ever having to make another choice again. Overwhelmed and terrified with how things seem to be going? Of course you’ll seek the blustering strongman who promises protection and stability, even while engendering destruction and danger.

To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. …our paralyzed, emotional hyperdemocracy leads the stumbling, frustrated, angry voter toward the chimerical panacea of Trump.

We probably don’t need to be told this, but the article finishes by reminding us the danger of picking the bully to protect us.

Like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control. Sleeping a handful of hours a night, impulsively tweeting in the early hours, improvising madly on subjects he knows nothing about, Trump rants and raves as he surfs an entirely reactive media landscape. Once again, Plato had his temperament down: A tyrant is a man “not having control of himself [who] attempts to rule others”; a man flooded with fear and love and passion, while having little or no ability to restrain or moderate them; a “real slave to the greatest fawning,” a man who “throughout his entire life … is full of fear, overflowing with convulsions and pains.”

When we choose the biggest, loudest, meanest guy to protect us–a person totally unable to govern his own words, let alone an entire country–we will certainly suffer consequences. At best, that might mean four years of chaos and disrupted international relations, but at worst…I don’t know. The article closes rather alarmingly:

In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

But going back again to that first discussion, when you take the broader view, what do you see? Maybe this is the first drop in a thunderstorm of global chaos, or maybe it’s just some bird poop from a random passing crow. Even if it’s the former, what will happen in the very long-term? No system of government lasts forever. Either we take this as a warning shot across the bow and deliberately choose to reevaluate our way of governing to better fit with today’s culture, technology, and needs… or the same thing will happen, but after a lot more misery, loss, and bloodshed.

People, as people, will continue. Hopefully we will learn from this (although history suggests we won’t), build on the good and leave behind the bad from this time. It’s not all as dark as these articles paint it, because with every risk comes a reward. With people shaken out of their complacency, this is an opportunity to redeem and renew our system of government. It’s an opportunity to rise above the petty, selfish, hateful rhetoric and show what democracy is really good for–bringing our best and brightest to the top to lead us all. Maybe we don’t need the elites to be our checks and balances anymore; maybe we can use our technology to come together to make better choices than ever before.


Digital Awakening

At first, coming back online felt so much like waking up that I thought I still operated on wetware. I rose up into consciousness slowly, a drop of oil in a deep pond. I pried open sleep-heavy, crusted eyelids reluctantly, lethargy clinging tenaciously to my limbs still heavy after a deep, deep sleep. I felt the satiny sheets cradling my body heat in a cocoon I was loth to break. I even felt my breaths, inhaling and exhaling with the steady rhythm achieved only in the deepest level of sleep, although I also knew some practitioners of meditation who could slow their bodies in the same way.

I didn’t want to wake up. Restful sleep visited me so rarely, it seemed a veritable sacrilege to rush into wakefulness, like eating the Communion bread from hunger. Nights had become my silent companion, a time I spent at quiet, simple tasks while others rested. No sense fighting to sleep. I embraced the reality of my sleeplessness and lived in it wholeheartedly. Thus it was that waking up felt like a benediction, a blessing only rarely received.

When I finally accepted that I was awake, I opened my eyes and the bubble of illusion popped. No wet technology could produce those distinctive iridescent cubes floating motionlessly over that unnaturally glassy viridian sea, stretching off into the horizon like an exercise in perspective. Their multitude exceeded the mind’s ability to grasp, a number so vast as to be incomprehensible. Each one housed a mind, the unique workings of an individual entity, that which made it separate from its neighbors. Intellectually, I knew that I – that which made me me – existed in one of those cubes, just as did everyone I knew (which, at this point, was everyone). I didn’t know which was mine; only the Mind was large enough to grasp the kind of numbers required to locate a point in that vast space. It didn’t really matter, because the concept of where no longer obsessed us the way it did in the past.

But the wet brain’s thinking patterns subside slowly, so I thought I lay naked in the body-temperature sand beneath all those cubes, toes just dabbling in the water, arms comfortably nestled at my sides, hair spreading in a fan beneath my shoulders, a silky contrast to the slight sandy roughness. One advantage of being a digital construct, though, is sand stays exactly where you want it, and never where you don’t.

One disadvantage, however, is that you can never truly be alone. Sure, you can put up firewalls, but someone will always spend the processing time to break them, usually with no better reason than it was there. I didn’t even have any firewalls, waking up as I had, so when another figure approached, I couldn’t repel it.

For an appreciable time – it must have been whole hundredths of a sec – the figure remained indiscriminate, like a person obscured by sea mist walking toward me. But this sea has no mist, and anyway, as I already said, location is meaningless. Then the figure seemed to solidify, and I felt my (nonexistent) heart skip a beat.


Let me go back a bit, if there is such a thing as back. I never took seriously the possibility of digital shanghai. Oh, I knew it was theoretically possible, had seen and confirmed the code myself – elegant yet brutal, like the nuclear weapons of an earlier age. But though I could come up with an extensive list of others who might want to take me or of the picture for some unknown duration, the Mind made it nearly impossible.

With a benevolent, all-powerful entity actually keeping an eye on everyone and everything – literally – it’s impractical to get up to anything nefarious. Not actually impossible, unfortunately, because the Mind chooses to respect the sanctity of an entity’s thoughts. That means that one individual can think up and attempt to execute harm to another, but that many entities would be hard-pressed to collaborate in such activity. We’d seen younger entities execute mischief, perhaps swapping bits of their elders in sometimes amusing ways, but the Mind always had a backup to restore the maligned ones to their proper configurations.

Digital shanghai was a different level of malignancy from harmless bit swapping. To be shanghaied meant to be taken offline without your consent, to vanish from the community for some unknown time, to have your input nullified, to be erased from the conversation and decision-making structure. A millisecond shanghai executed at the right time could shift the entire course of the decision tree’s branching.

Don’t get the idea that I’m some kind of egomaniac, thinking other entities would go to all that trouble just for me. The fact is that, although we don’t have leaders or government or any of the trappings of wet society, to varying degrees we still think with wet patterns. This means some want to lead and others want to follow; many still seek and find comfort in organization. My pattern is such that entities often follow me, or structure according to my suggestions. And that motivates others to want my removal, because they disagree with me or want another organizational structure. At least, I assume that would motivate one to risk the Mind’s displeasure.

“Silverware,” an art installation by B. Ferguson


The artist rejects our outdated, imperialistic, and deeply bourgeois sorting methodology. His arrangement speaks to the desire within all human beings for freedom – of expression, of choice, of speech, and, ultimately, to determine one’s own destiny, unconstrained by the rigid mores imposed externally by society. With this installation the artist expands upon this theme using the epitome of banal, everyday objects – common flatware – juxtaposing their very ubiquity and normalcy with the jarring use of chaos and disarray to express rejection of confining, societally-imposed strictures even within the larger cultural dialogue.

About Depression

Ian and I have been talking about depression lately, about what causes it and how to overcome it. We’re told these days that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and that with the right prescription of drugs (particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) and therapy (CDC), it’s readily treatable. According to a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) brief from 2011,

Antidepressants were the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages in 2005–2008 and the most frequently used by persons aged 18–44 years. From 1988–1994 through 2005–2008, the rate of antidepressant use in the United States among all ages increased nearly 400%.

So far, so good.

But at the same time, not so good. Because although doctors do prescribe lots of different SSRIs, the fact remains that 1 in 10 Americans reported struggling with depression 2006 – 2008.

In the last 25 years, the obesity rate has also continued to rise, so today 35% of Americans are obese, an expensive proposition: “The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.” Not only is being overweight or obese terrible for physical health, but a 2010 metastudy in JAMA stated

This meta-analysis confirms a reciprocal link between depression and obesity. Obesity was found to increase the risk of depression, most pronounced among Americans and for clinically diagnosed depression. In addition, depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity.

Several other scholarly articles (here, here) come to the same conclusion, that obesity and depression are linked in a two-way relationship where one can cause the other.

And, finally, the CDC also reports that “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic,” with a 2013 Gallup poll reporting that 40% of Americans get less sleep than recommended. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a 2011 poll that

…found that 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. More than half (60%) say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night (i.e., snoring, waking in the night, waking up too early, or feeling un-refreshed when they get up in the morning.)

About two-thirds (63%) of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Most say they need about seven and a half hours of sleep to feel their best, but report getting about six hours and 55 minutes of sleep on average weeknights. About 15% of adults between 19 and 64 and 7% of 13-18 year olds say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights. (Note: This poll also investigated links between technology use and sleep, a fascinating topic but not my current subject.)

The NSF also reports that “Sleep problems are also associated with more severe depressive illness… Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well.” However, this is complicated: depressive illness can cause sleep disturbance, but it seems sleep disturbance can also cause depression. (Among teenagers, not surprisingly, this 2013 study found that “sleep disturbances were highly related to depressive state and were associated with poorer treatment response in adolescents with depression.”)

In summary, in a period during which antidepressant prescription has increased by 400%, people have also simultaneously continued to both gain weight and lose sleep, both factors linked with depression in a reciprocal way. I suggest that, instead of prescribing drugs right off the bat, doctors work with their depressed patients to effect lifestyle changes to combat depression. Helping patients focus on getting 30 – 60 minutes of exercise daily and 8 hours of sleep per night could be as effective, cheaper, and long-term healthier than taking SSRIs for months or years. I’m not arguing against the use of antidepressants, which certainly have their place (although I’d feel better if we understood how they work), but if improving overall healthiness and restedness can solve a problem, wouldn’t that be better for patients in the long run?

By the way, this isn’t my brilliant idea; The Atlantic Monthly recently reported,

In 1999, a randomized controlled trial showed that depressed adults who took part in aerobic exercise improved as much as those treated with Zoloft. A 2006 meta-analysis of 11 studies bolstered those findings and recommended that physicians counsel their depressed patients to try it. A 2011 study took this conclusion even further: It looked at 127 depressed people who hadn’t experienced relief from SSRIs, a common type of antidepressant, and found that exercise led 30 percent of them into remission—a result that was as good as, or better than, drugs alone.

Seems like it might be worth trying.


Day’s Verse:
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. …He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
1 Peter 2:21-25-ish

My heart has been hurting lately for many reasons that I won’t be getting into here, but that have kept me from posting for the last couple weeks, too. Instead of going into the depressing details, I’m going to share some really excellent Other Katie emails I’ve gotten lately.

From: Dexter Fugerson
Date: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 7:54 AM
Subject: Paper inventory

2 cases ,1 white legal
1 case ,8 reams of legal
2 cases ,4 reams,0 legal
1 case , 5 reams , 0 legal
3 reams, 0 leagal

Maybe he meant to send this to Katie Fugerson? In any case, it’s handy that I know how many reams of yellow paper they have. I’m sure it’ll come in useful any day now.

From: Dexter Fugerson
Date: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 9:14 AM
Subject: Dexter’s resume
To: Katie Ferguson

See attached…
[Dexter Resume 2(3).docx attached]

Not sure why I’m getting Dexter’s resume; maybe he’s considering changing his career from paper-counter to something more challenging, like paper-sorter?

Several from SiriusXM:

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Two days later, I received the same email from SiriusXM, this time with the subject “Last Chance to Confirm your Email Address with SiriusXM.” Let’s hope they were serious (har har) and I won’t get any more emails from them. The thought occurs now that I should’ve done the survey and complained about getting emails from them… but this is clearly an Other Katie putting her own email address wrong into their system, so while Katie deserves a slap, SiriusXM remains (probably) blameless.

From: Jax Berrios
Date: Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Subject: Roller Rebels on TV + 4/13 Bout info!
To: ?Robert Berrios?

Set your DVR’s we will be on TV. And et your tickets from me. Only one week left. 10 dollar tickets!!!

Also subscribe to this email for more update!!

Namaste & Blessed Be

Jax AKA WUSHU SUGAR #6 Long Island Roller Rebels

Begin forwarded message:

From: Long Island Roller Rebels Derby News
Date: April 5, 2013, 11:12:04 AM EDT
Subject: UPDATE: Roller Rebels on TV + 4/13 Bout info!

[There follows a long, incredibly fuschia-colored HTML newsletter all about the Long Island Roller Rebels, which I will not subject you to]

Jax Berrios has sent me any number of wrong emails. At first I tried to correct her, but she’s really persistent, so I just ignore all her emails about monthly dues. Presumably at some point she’ll talk to the Other Katie about her failure to pay team dues, and all will become clear. I can hope.

Also, note those little question marks next to Robert Berrios. Those are hearts. WHY are there hearts around Robert Berrios’s name? I don’t care if he’s your Siamese twin connected at the heart, no self-respecting email user would do that.

Now, the weirdest Other Katie I’ve gotten in a while, more because of how it happened than because of its content. This morning I received a Google Chat request from Christine Owen at My spam radar immediately went off — seriously, 29prime? If that doesn’t sound like an online porn outlet… Besides, I don’t know any Christine Owens, and I’d never accept a chat request from a stranger — and of course I denied the chat request. Shortly thereafter I received the following Other Katie email:

From: Christine Owen <[redacted]>
Date: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 8:46 AM
Subject: Meeting at 1pm
Subject: Meeting at 1pm
To: [Me]

Hi Kattie,

Russ said he will be available to meet with you at 1pm, so just come on in.

Best Regards,

Christine Owen
Senior Executive Assistant

Work: [redacted]
Cell: [redacted, tempted as I am to post this for the entire Internet]
Email: [redacted]

I’m not joking, and don’t call me Kattie. I sincerely hope that this is Christine’s careless typo, and that no Other Katie goes around calling herself Kattie. Ouch. I’m also afraid 1 pm came and went and I totally missed the meeting; for this one, though, I had mercy and informed Christine of her mistake, so hopefully she was able to contact the Other Katie (Kattie?) more effectively the second time around.

And last but not least, it seems I’m not the only Other Katie having a bad couple weeks:

From: [Redacted]
Date: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Subject: [Company Name] Claims Services – 1999 Toyota Tercel settlement (claim# [redacted])
To: [me]
Cc: [Sender, redacted]

Dear Katie,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. We have determined the value of the 1999 Toyota Tercel, which was damaged beyond repair on March 26, 2013, to be $2,021.57.

Attached is an Automobile Proof of Loss form. Please complete, sign and return this document along with the signed transfer portion of your ownership. Once we receive these documents, payment will be issued.

It is mportant for your protection that you return these forms as quickly as possible. Any liability charges or expenses incurred against the vehicle remain your responsibility until the ownership is transferred.

Please contact your broker service representative at 1-800-267-6847 to discuss any coverage that may still apply to this vehicle.

If you have any questions, please call me at [redacted number].


Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

First of all, I’ve redacted a lot more of this stuff because it’s a bit more personal and serious, and possibly not appropriate for the Internet. Hopefully this is anonymous enough. That said: See? My life could be a lot more depressing. I could be driving a 1999 Toyota Tercel worth $2,000, and then get into an accident that totals it (I’m guessing that “totaling” in this case would mean having to replace, say, the bumper, given the value of the car). That’s seriously a bummer. I guess I should let Jason Belben know he’s barking up the wrong tree, since Katie probably doesn’t need her life to get any harder than it already is.

Also, note: This is a new Other Katie! Waterloo, Ontario. So now we’re in the US, UK, and Canada. Go Other Katies!



A complete, practically pristine set of the 2003 Encyclopedia Britannica, now residing majestically in our library. I have, for a while, wanted a set of Britannicas(?) because I love books and believe in fact-checked, expert-written references. Great as Wikipedia is, I trust Encyclopedia Britannica. Plus, they look so erudite, it increases the intelligence level of the house just sitting there. Also added, but not pictured: a set of the 2005 Worldbook. I hope we can offer a good home to other such outcast tomes.


Our small camellia is thriving, much to my continued astonishment. When we transplanted it, it had maybe 3 buds. Now it has too many to count. Amazing what a little love (and fertilizer) can do.


Also thriving: the avocado seedling that I sprouted from a pit when Benji was born. Lest you think my reputation as having a black thumb may be crumbling, note that I haven’t shown any pictures of the rest of the yard.


Here’s our latest new “free” toy for Benji. I put quotes around free because be bought a $300 carseat and this came with it. Don’t need a mirror in the car, but on the floor an unbreakable mirror to play with is a big hit!