Cynical people: it's worse than you can even imagine. Privacy infringements, systematic exploitation of children and African Americans, government cor...moreCynical people: it's worse than you can even imagine. Privacy infringements, systematic exploitation of children and African Americans, government corruption, and a willful disregard of consumers' health. Moss's three and a half years of investigative reporting for Salt Sugar Fat were well worth the effort, though his writing isn't concise, and boring when it came to describing the careers of food scientists he clearly admires, the points he makes are startling and incredibly important. Although America is the primary country talked about, the problems discussed are global issues.
Children and people of African descent are the most vulnerable when it comes to salt, sugar and fat, because they're more prone to acquiring a diet high in all those things, and the food industry has been quick to take advantage by adding more and more SSFs to out compete other brands by appealing to people's taste buds instead of their health, keeping an eye on their bottom lines and not their customers' waistlines.
Before reading, I believed it was your responsibility to eat healthily, but reading about America's neglectful and downright harmful governmental practices, allowing food companies to fudge the nutritional information on their products, stops the grocery shopper from making an informed decision about what they wish to put inside their bodies, and therefore food companies are indeed responsible for various serious health conditions, i.e. obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease (cholesterol), and cancers. 'The top contributors to weight gain included red meat and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and potatoes' in all its forms.
SSF addicts are referred to as "heavy users" by companies, though even their ex-presidents and CEOs (many of whom Moss personally interviewed) admit the harm they've caused, feel guilty about their part in it, and actively avoid consuming their own products. Jeffrey Dunn, ex-president of Coca-Cola, developed Dasani bottled water and stopped marketing in schools, but was ultimately fired, for which he was grateful, and now he only works with healthy foods.
Privacy infringements abound: Coke data-mined customer loyalty cards; General Foods 'had mass-mailing lists composed entirely of the names and addresses of children, in order to better target them with promotions.'
Insidious marketing strategies are plentiful: pushing comics like 'The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man' published by Marvel; multiple child-friendly websites pushing junk food; advertising to those who've over-indulged, targeting people with diabetes for their sugar-free products; adding vitamins or a smidgen of fruit for a false healthy image e.g. Capri Sun; or removing real ingredients that you'd think would be essential e.g. Cheez Whiz no longer contains real cheese.
Parallels are drawn with the tobacco industry and the health crises surrounding it, and it just so happens Philip Morris, having made its dough in tobacco, now owns a cadre of food brands. Our food is handled by large conglomerates controlling hundreds of brands, who pump potentially harmful artificial additives and who knows what else (oh, wait horsemeat) into our food. Maybe it's time we invested in the little guys going it alone again, where the people in control know exactly what's in their food, and the distance between the guy on the ground floor and the one in the big office on the top floor, is a lot shorter.
'Take more than a little salt, or sugar, or fat out of processed food, these experiments showed, and there is nothing left. Or, even worse, what is left are the inexorable consequences of food processing, repulsive tastes that are bitter, metallic, and astringent.'
Moss suggests taxing SSFs before they're added to processed foods, though companies will probably pass on that cost to consumers. He also advocates the use of more herbs and spices, but again, since salt is so cheap compared to alternatives, they'd rather stick with what they know than spend more on higher quality, healthier alternatives. Or, we as a society, need to go back to eating the standard three (fresh) meals a day when we ate SSFs in moderation instead of snacking on convenience foods.
Now it's becoming harder to peddle SSFs to the public in developed countries, they're despicably looking to exploit the Third World developing nations like India and Brazil.
I started my first official diet with the help of MyFitnessPal.com just before reading SSF, and it's made me acutely aware of what I'm eating. Now I read the back of every item while grocery shopping, before deciding to buy it. My nemesis are grain-based carbs, potatoes, orange juice, and butter. I don't have a problem with salt and my 'bliss point' for sugar dropped considerably in my late teens, which is the last time I drank soda.
Salt Sugar Fat is definitely a highly recommended read.
SUGAR (a methamphetamine)
✺ Cocaine acts on the brain in a similar way to sugar: '...researchers have conditioned rats to expect an electrical shock when they eat cheesecake, and they still lunge for it.' Drugs countering the effects of opiates curb the appeal of high fat, high sugar snacks. ✺ Nearly every food contains some amount of sugar, naturally occurring in fruit, veg, and milk, so we have no need for 'added sugar'. ✺ Sugar is an analgesic (a pain killer). ✺ Americans consume '22 teaspoons of sugar, per person, per day', yet 5 teaspoons are recommended -that's half a can of Coke. ✺ Fructose is sweeter than glucose and table sugar combined, and has been commercially available since the 1980s. ✺ Sugar has a 'bliss point' - a Goldilocks amount, that creates the most pleasure. ✺ Sweetened foods make you more hungry, not less. ✺ Sweet liquids bypass the body's controls preventing weight gain. Soda and fruit juice concentrates are liquid sugar. ✺ Cereals contain up to 70% sugar, and some believe cereals over 50% sugar should be sold as candy. ✺ The Cola War with Pepsi saw Coke inventing supersizing, endorsement deals, and combination deals (e.g. burger with fries), they even put Cokes into the hands of soldiers in WWII at a loss, all to encourage brand loyalty and addiction. ✺ Coke's biggest ingredient is water, followed by sugar, then caffeine. Hypertention and diabetes in a bottle - Mmm, healthy.
FAT (an opiate)
✺ 9 calories per gram, twice that of sugar or protein. ✺ Sugar masks and enhances the taste of fat, encouraging you to eat more. ✺ No 'bliss point' for fat, the more the better. ✺ Whole milk is only 3% fat. ✺ American eat up to 33 pounds of cheese per year (60,000 calories), triple the amount in 1970s. It's the biggest source of saturated fat in American diets, followed by red meat, then cakes and cookies. ✺ Industrialisation of cows bred indoors on a diet of corn and fat, has increased milk production but lowered the nutritious value of the milk. ✺ When Americans moved to low fat milk, the excess fat was converted to cheese, and the American government protected the dairy industry by ludicrously buying up the excess cheese and beef. Cheese-products were made: mac & cheese, meaty pizzas, etc. Even celeb chefs were asked to promote cheese in cookbooks. On behalf of producers, the government aggressively marketed cheese and beef to the American public (and in Mexico). ✺ "Chilled prepared foods" saw the introduction of Lunchables, containing a child's maximum daily allowance of saturated fat and salt, and more than a can of Coke's worth of sugar. ✺ The Department of Agriculture has ignored experts in its Center for Nutrition and has conspired to get the public to eat more. ✺ 'Lean meat' doesn't necessarily mean low fat. ✺ McDonald's was the first to remove "pink slime" from its burgers. ✺ When opening a package containing multiple servings, you're more likely to eat the whole thing.
✺ 'Sodium pulls fluids from the body's tissues and into the blood, which raises the blood volume and compels the heart to pump more forcefully.' This causes high blood pressure. ✺ The least addictive of the big three. ✺ We learn this addiction, it's not innate like sugar and fat. ✺ Low salt diets increase taste sensitivity to salt, so less is eaten. ✺ It's a preservative, masks bitterness, sweetens sugar, adds crunch to things like crackers. ✺ 2,300mg recommended maximum per day. ✺ England's Food Standards Agency set a limit on how much salt a product could contain and discouraged of salt substitute potassium chloride, effecting US-based companies the most. ✺ Processed meats contain added salt e.g. bacon. ✺ Cargill, one of the wealthiest privately-owned companies in the world, sells 17 types of sweeteners, 40 types of salt, 21 oils and shortenings.
The Horsemeat Scandal
The below paragraph shows me how easy it would be for the European horsemeat scandal to spread to the US:
'the Department of Agriculture is actually complicit in the meat industry's secrecy. [...] The burger that Stephanie [paralyzed by E.Coli] ate, made by Cargill, had been an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of the cow and from multiple slaughterhouses as far away as Uruguay. The meat industry, with the blessing of the federal government, was intentionally avoiding steps that could make their products safer for consumers. The E. Coli starts in the slaughterhouses, where feces tainted with the pathogen can contaminate the meat when the hides of cows are pulled off. Yet many of the biggest slaughterhouses would sell their meat only to hamburger makers like Cargill if they agreed not to test their meat for E. Coli until it was mixed together with shipments from other slaughterhouses. This insulated the slaughterhouses from costly recalls when the pathogen was found in ground beef, but it also prevented the government officials and the public from tracing the E. Coli back to its source. When it comes to pathogens in the meat industry, ignorance is financial bliss.'
Sexy Feminism is the third feminist non-fiction I read in the first month of 2013, and I was hoping for something to fill in the gaps of my self-impos...moreSexy Feminism is the third feminist non-fiction I read in the first month of 2013, and I was hoping for something to fill in the gaps of my self-imposed feminist education. While it sort of fulfilled my requirements with quality advice and interesting points, I had some problems with the writing.
Style-wise, Sexy Feminism is blogger-friendly, and since the title is the name of the authors' blog, this is to be expected. A little informality can lead to funny, direct and personal dialogue with readers, a lot of informality herein had us hearing life stories and feminist reasons why the authors' broke up with boyfriends - which were rather reductive, if you ask me. A lot more had to be going on than the relevant explanations given. And I feel bad for thinking that way, but then I didn't expect to be put in a position of judgement, either. I'd rather not have read intimate details of these women's lives. After all, this isn't supposed to be an autobiography.
Conveying these stories upon the reader in each chapter, together with the theory, advice, and action plans, gave the impression of the wise older woman gathering the young-uns and telling them to sit and listen to someone who's lived life. This unintentional condescension is compounded by the authors' examples, and favoured feminist role models, many of whom are way before my time - I'm 26. Who the hell is Mary Tyler Moore? She's mentioned so often, I feel I should know. Perhaps it's the cultural divide rather than age, since I'm English and they're American.
As a fan of bluntness, I appreciate the honesty with which these authors expressed themselves in their opinions, they appreciate that the reader heretofore may not have called themselves a feminist or not have acted in a pro-feminist way, however some decisions they do simply call 'dumb'. Yet, I'm not happy with the way they conflate feminism with promoting environmentally friendly and animal friendly products not made in workhouses or sweatshops, and strongly encourage everyone to research every company before buying their merchandise. All very nice in theory, but how many people have the time to do this, or even the power and availability to make those 'right' choices? For instance, the UK's The Body Shop sells makeup and bath products not tested on animals, yet they're owned by L'Oreal who do test on animals. To buy from The Body Shop, or not? Anyway, I don't consider the environment or animal testing to be feminist issues, sweatshop workers maybe, but not the other two.
Certain assumptions are made, for example: 'heels have been used as throughout history as tools of oppression' - making no mention of the times when it was fashionable for men to wear heels. Nevertheless, I'm glad rape fantasy and female genital mutilation are discussed, and I was intrigued by the fractious female friendships and competitive female bosses. I've always preferred having female bosses, apparently that isn't the norm. I did however, once have a problem with a much older female colleague. She spread nasty rumours implying I was lazy and incompetent, everyone came to my defense including my ex and current female bosses at the time, which secured me a promotion! Not long after, my accuser applied for voluntary redundancy and it seemed likely she'd get it, they refused, forcing her to retire instead. That's karma for you.
Although I don't question the authors' passion for their subject, it noticeably lacks the urgency conveyed in the other feminist books I read this month, though I'm sure that's down to the broad range of topics covered as opposed to the sub-sections those other books focused on.
The title gave me pause when I first spotted it. To use 'sexy' to describe feminism felt a little risqué. Was it being used as a marketing tool as synonym for 'cool' (uh-oh), a play on words for 'gender' (clever), or as a critique of our sexualised (objectifying) society (acceptable)? My mind went straight for the first, though hoping for the last, since there are lipsticked lips on the cover. [They're for makeup if it's being applied because it makes the woman feel good, and not so she can impress a man or anyone else.] ETA: I've just taken a look at my review for Feminist Chauvinist Pigs - which is referenced in SF - and the author condemned the use of 'sexy' when it came to feminism, so now I'm doubly surprised to see its usage by these authors, and for the title, no less.
I didn't mean to be so negative about Sexy Feminism, but unfortunately, so far it's my least enjoyable feminist read. I'll admit, I skimmed in places, skipping the more personal bits, pushing through boring areas - not necessarily the book's fault; certain topics I've read about elsewhere and didn't feel like going over old ground. Those completely new to feminism as a concept will probably gain a lot more from reading Sexy Feminism, especially women in their thirties and older.
*My thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for the e-ARC in return for an honest review.(less)
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, a...moreDear Elvis Presley,
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, always worrying, always in discomfort. People assuming you were fat when the distended abdomen was a sign you were seriously ill.
Begging your forgiveness,
At autopsy, his colon was "two to three times normal size ... was jam-packed [length-wise]... The impaction had the consistency of clay and seemed to defy Florendo's efforts with the scissors to cut it out." The clayey material, he says, was barium, administered to prep Presley for a set of X-rays - taken four months earlier. "That barium was... Just like a rock." He says the impaction obstructed at least 50 to 60 percent of the diameter of Presley's colon ... [It] had expanded so dramatically [at the end of his career] that it crowded his diaphragm and had begun to compromise his breathing and singing.' Soiling himself on stage happened regularly, he had no control whatsoever because of the disease. 'The resulting arrhythmia [from straining to make a bowel movement] can be fatal ... especially likely to happen to someone, like Elvis, with a compromised heart.' It's a common cause of death but wasn't well-known or understood at the time of Presley's death.
'Stool softeners are administered as a matter of course on coronary-care wards.'
Nasal regurgitation. Fistulated stomachs. Rectal feeding. Holy water enemas. Mythbusting Mary Roach concentrates on the strange, the unethical, and the downright funny aspects of the alimentary canal.
I've learned many things:
✺ Eat more liver. Organs are the most nutritious parts of an animal. ✺ Never take alka seltzer / bicarbonate of soda / baking soda after eating too much. ✺ Never light a match or breathe without apparatus near a manure pit. ✺ Never punch someone in the mouth unless I'm willing to lose a finger. ✺ Anal cancer exists and is contracted the same way as cervical cancer. ✺ A human cannot survive being swallowed by a large fish. Jonah lied. ✺ Fire-breathing dragons snakes are possible under the right conditions. ✺'Humans perceive five tastes - sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami (brothy) - and an almost infinite number of smells. Eighty to ninety percent of the sensory experience is olfaction [smell]. ✺ Never take the ability to smell, taste, or swallow for granted. ✺ 'brachioproctic eroticism' = 'fist-fucking' ✺ To respect the "prison wallet" (rectum). When I need to go, I'm going. I don't want to be constipated. ✺ Never insert an object rectally unless I'm will to lose it up in there.
Well, Roach has covered the three basics of animal biology: feeding, sex, and death. Her witty approach to her subject matter helps the medicine go down, as it were. She makes learning fun by breaking things down into easily digestible bites (puns intended), though there are a few less interesting bits. I wonder what she'll cover next.
*Many thanks to the publisher for the e-ARC in return for an honest review.(less)
Breakout unknown prisoner cargo. Spend a couple of hours together running for their lives. Sex. Exchange I-love-yous. Are you freaking kidding me? A o...moreBreakout unknown prisoner cargo. Spend a couple of hours together running for their lives. Sex. Exchange I-love-yous. Are you freaking kidding me? A one-night stand with a stranger and now they love each other, forever, and are both willing to die to protect their new lover. Yeah, that's believable.
Some thought was given to the post-apocalyptic world building, and considering the revenge and re-take my kingdom set-up, there was enough there to create a longer, more acceptable and convincing story set over a number of days or weeks.
"Vulnerability scares us, very deeply. To feel your body being forcibly penetrated by another human being is an experience of such utter, terrifying...more"Vulnerability scares us, very deeply. To feel your body being forcibly penetrated by another human being is an experience of such utter, terrifying vulnerability and helplessness that most people recoil from the thought. To overcome that resistance, to actually identify with the experience and the person who suffers it, is an act of profound empathy, and considerable courage. Most people, frankly, are not up to the challenge; certainly not without a lot of support..." ~ David Lisak
Rape is Rape successfully shines the light on widespread, harmful misconceptions about rape using detailed high profile cases of the likes of Julian Assange and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, emotive real-life victim accounts, and analysing the opinions and rulings of influential people.
Defining rape itself is the first major problem. Many have strict and narrow opinions on its meaning. Just checking the most widely used online dictionaries proves how restrictive, stereotypical and gendered official definitions are. Strangely, Wikipedia has one of the best:
'Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent.'
For more inclusive, realistic and acceptable definitions you have to look at criminal legislation. UK and US law cover different types of rape and the issue of consent.
The spreading of misinformation and the resulting confusion hurts victims because they're less likely to report a rape if they (a) are ignorant of the legal definition of rape and sexual assault, (b) ignorant of how to report it, (c) believe they lack proof, (d) are embarrassed and don't want anyone to know, (e) fear bad treatment by the police, (f) think the accused will be able to retaliate for reporting them, (g) don't see high profile rapists convicted, believing they'll have less chance of justice.
A CDC study concluded more than 1 in 10 American women aged 18+ are raped, 620,000 in the last year. In the UK, 1 in 20 women aged 16+ is raped (1 in 5 including other sexual offences), averaging 85,000 per year for women and 12,000 for men. University campus rape appears the most prevalent type no matter where you live. Disturbingly, one study on marital rape showed 5% of women 'said their partner has forced their children to participate in the rape, and 18% reported their children has witnessed an incident of marital rape at least once.'
"Rape is not about sex at all. This isn't just bad sex ... How could anyone think that? It isn't even sex. Sex is consensual and rape is not. This isn't sex. Is it sex for the rapist? I don't think rapists know sex as sex. This is using sex as a weapon."
Rape is the exertion of power and control to humiliate, possessively take ownership of the victim's body and treating it as less than worthless. 'Society's responses to rape further the rapists' humiliation of victims.'
Rape deniers attack statistics and studies, like that of Mary Koss, for using 'overbroad definitions' for what they perceive as 'bad sex' when those studies follow the legal definition. In effect, they're challenging the law itself. Feminists caught minimising the importance of rape, Raphael posits, are fearful of the reversal of women's liberation, sexual and otherwise, yet by not acknowledging the seriousness of this crime they're not supporting the majority of its victims: women, hurting the very people they wish to empower.
'Denying rape makes society unsafe for women and allows predators to go free.'
Perhaps those that deny and minimise rape should put themselves in a victim's shoes and look to feel the empathy Lisak speaks of in the opening paragraph of my review. After reading the personal accounts of victims' experiences of the rape and the journey afterwards, you can't fail to sympathise and gain some understanding of post-traumatic stress and problems with the institutional processes and practices victims encounter when reporting their attack, and the changes required to prevent further traumatization.
80-90% of victims know their attacker, quashing the notion of the much hyped and stereotyped 'stranger danger'. We strongly believe the people we trust the most aren't monsters and vehemently deny what very well may be the truth. Accepting we're not at fault for not knowing about the accused's behaviour and that being connected to them does not necessarily reflect badly on the type of person you are, are the first steps in working past the disbelief and seeking the facts.
The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women (my review) is referenced several times (which prompted me to pause my reading of Rape Is Rape to read that before continuing), Raphael whole-heartedly agreeing with Valenti's views on this subject. Anyone can be raped, not just women, and not just virgins. Both see the "All men are rapists" line is unnecessarily inflammatory, but it's possible the rapists believe this. Everyone has the potential to rape, that doesn't make everyone a rapist. Using men's testosterone-infused, cliched high sex drives as an excuse for rape belittles men and assumes they possess no self-control and don't know right from wrong.
In the same breath as alleviating the accused (i.e. men) of guilt, the victims (i.e. women) are blamed, and yet 'forgetting to set the antiburglary alarm or getting robbed despite "neighborhood watch" does not exculpate the thieves.' If we're not criticising them for their supposedly risky behaviour ('she was asking for it' responses for: the way the victim was dressed, being drunk, walking home alone at night, etc. part of the victim blamer's philosophy), we're subjecting them to polygraphs (unreliable as stress increases the chances of failing), scrutinise their sexual histories (slut shaming), carry out (sometimes gratuitous) rape exams with rape kits that are never analysed despite taking four hours in which one victim describes it as follows:
"After undressing in front of strangers, I was poked, prodded, scraped, swabbed, combed and photographed. I wouldn't wish it one anyone."
Then having those colour photos of their genitals passed around jurors and shown on television screens to the entire court. A judge threatening an amnesiac rape victim with jail for contempt of court for failing to agree to watch the footage of her own rape so she could be questioned about it, is evidence of harrassment and an attempt to humiliate the victim. 'That members of the community would blame an eleven-year-old child for her own rape shows the extent to which victim blaming has become accepted in our culture.' I completely understand why more don't come forward or decide to recant their statements when they're seemingly punished for being violated by a rapist.
If victims aren't blamed then their met with indifference or they're accused of lying, vindictively making false rape claims to punish a man. Women have been demonsied as seducers and liars since Eve was perceived to have corrupted Adam.
The media often publish more column inches and attribute more importance to false rape claims, sowing the seeds of doubt in the minds of readers when presented with accusations, driving 'out compassion for real victims.' The media also tend to use euphemisms for rape rather than calling a spade a spade, deliberately confusing the issue, for example 'Paedophile, 25, had sex with girl, 12' should be 'Paedophile, 25, raped girl, 12.'
'A rape report cannot be considered false if the person describing the crime is unable to provide corroboration that it happened or if investigators decide it did not occur based on their own views of that person's credibility. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports Handbook, this is an inconclusive or unsubstantiated report and not a false one.'
Police are often criticised for failing to report accurate figures of rape, hiding cases or dismissing them as false. 'Institutions such as churches, schools and colleges, social organizations, and the military, among others, provide a steady source of victims for predators.' By ignoring or supporting the perpetrators, these institutions are validating and encouraging this behaviour by facilitating its continuance. They might want to keep in mind that failure to report the crime is illegal in some places. Failure to charge a perpetrator by a prosecutor for what they perceive to be a low chance of conviction or their own prejudices, denies victims a chance of justice and puts the larger community at risk by allowing a predator to prey on more individuals. Alternatively, if criminal prosecution doesn't work, civil litigation may scare a rapist enough to prevent further rapes.
"If you don't fight tooth and nail and be on the verge of death, it is simply unbelievable. Compare that with someone who goes to the police and says someone she met in a bar broke into her house to steal something. Under no circumstances would anyone question a victim who makes that type of report."
One victim account says she wished she could relive her rape so she could 'do it right' and fight back more or that she'd been killed so people would believe her. Not fighting or stopping resistance does not equal consent; it's another survival instinct -less chance of serious injury or death. Unfortunately, "society doesn't believe the woman until she takes a step to harm herself."
One study on the vulnerabilities of rape victims including: aged under 18, mental health issue(s), currently/previously intimate with offender, had consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the attack. 87% of victims had at least one vulnerability. This proves opportunism -rapists calculating how likely they are to succeed in raping their victim, and getting away with it. Of all of the factors noted, consuming alcohol or drugs are the only things a victim can control.
Ideally, I wished the following had been included:
✻ Male rape. Apart from the brief mentions of a rape victim's partner who'd been raped in the military, of prison rape, and one CDC study of child victims, male rape isn't discussed. Perhaps this is due to few studies on male rape and the low number of reported cases to the police and in the media. However, I don't see why the reasons for this and societal perceptions of male victims couldn't be examined. Why not look at prison rape? Prisoner-on-prisoner ('don't drop the soap') and guard-on-prisoner which is more prevalent than authorities like to admit.
✻ Children raping children. An intricate dynamic I'd have liked the author to have addressed. It's shocking how young some of the aggressors are, and their victims.
✻ Rape victims raped again. I believe rape victims are more likely than any other group to be raped again because the first rape compounded the vulnerabilities they original had beforehand, making them even easier prey. And again, this isn't discussed.
✻ Rape in entertainment. Raphael doesn't explore positive and negative depictions of rape in TV (e.g. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), movies, and books. Nor is rape fantasy, a highly controversial topic which I myself recently came to terms with after reading twoFeministing articles criticising Katie Roiphe's views on female fantasies of sexual submission.
While I wish a little more was included, what's in these pages is pure gold for unveiling the truth and prevalence of rape in the West and suggesting improvements to the way we perceive and report rape. It's imperative and supremely relevant that we pursue justice for victims and protect our more vulnerable members of society, and this is supported by recent global events.
My request for the ARC was accepted on the day a 23-year old gang rape victim died of her injuries in Delhi. Six men were arrested for raping and murdering her on a moving bus. Soutik Biswas responds with an article on How India Treats its Women, showing why it's the 'worst country in which to be a woman.' Sympathy is scarce for the accused after it was alleged "They were beaten most bruatally. They were forced to drink urine and from the toilet. They were sexually assaulted with sticks in their backside. Whatever statements they made were made under duress and worthless." While this has sparked anger at the victim blaming, Feminist Spring protests have been male dominated ironically due to the risk of rape, which was followed by another rape on an Indian bus and an Indian school. This prompted proposals for change.
'Savile got away with it because we let him, and he knew we would let him. He knew his victims would be trapped between horror and a twisted sense of privilege at being hit on by someone famous. He conferred chocolates on favoured victims to normalise his abuse, and he made resistance appear abnormal. If it came to his word against some starstruck minor's, he knew who would be believed. When, latterly, standards began to change, he counter-attacked with the threat of libel lawyers.' (Source)
*One Billion Rising is an annual global campaign for the one billion beaten and raped to protest on February 14.
There's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein)don't...moreThere's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein) don't decompose and still retain all of their bodily functions so there are no ball sacks falling off during fellatio or penises detaching mid-coitus (oh look a new dildo!) so my tea and toast stayed happily in my stomach.
Our heroine, Josie, is a newly made RoboZombie sex doll. Her memories have been wiped in favour of rudimentary programming to engineer her to need, and be submissive to, a 'husband'. Her obviously abusive maker had no other use for her than that. Free will is only for the living. She's child-like in her curiosity and discovery of new concepts and sensations, but she's very much able to learn and grow beyond her original programming.
The hero, turned Peeping Tom during recon, is also a RoZo of the soldier / assassin variety with PTSD, employed by a pro-free will organisation. Bane's been working towards earning a memory and programming reset to relieve his mental anguish to become blissfully ignorant of the deeds he's done while his free will was taken from him.
Bane's mission is to retrieve the heroine from her maker by any means necessary before an evil RoZo corporation can swoop in and recover the scientist and his research. As the heroine had been designed to require biofeedback via touch and an electronic mental connection from a husband, the hero has to fill that hole role to prevent her programming from degrading to the point of leaving her a lifeless rotting corpse.
It's important to note that Bane doesn't rape Josie, the very thought disgusts him. Josie's personality, that of a 'virtual child', also unnerves him so he's very careful about how he handles her, leaving Josie to decide what she wants.
I'm riding the line between love and hate, hiding in the no-man's-land of meh. Predictable paranormal romance that isn't too cheesy, worldbuilding and character development of the supporting cast is lacking, but it possesses an interesting, and I suppose plausible, possibility of cyborg RoboZombies in the future. I'd still take Langlais's cyborgs over Harris's though.
But all idealism faded if exposed to enough reality.
In this installment we discover the consequences of the unsupervised actions of the autopilot versions of Paul and Dallas in Bermuda before their bodies/psyches were reintegrated, making for hilarious reading. I can say 'hilarious' since it turned out all right in the end. Dallas and Paul are so sweet together. The former worrying over his subconscious greed, the latter trying to figure out if they'd hooked up, and them both obsessing over each other.
You know, I had to up the star rating on the last one to 5 stars because it was so awesome. I find it so hard to discern "I love it, I love it!" and "I love it!", a frequent problem I have with books by JCP.
One of the better anthologies I've read. My absolute favourite story in this collection is Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling, one of the more faithful...moreOne of the better anthologies I've read. My absolute favourite story in this collection is Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling, one of the more faithful stories to it's original nursery rhyme -"There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe".
As Blue as the Sky and Just as Old by Nina Berry ★☆☆☆☆ Based on "Taffy was a Welshman". I couldn't get past Aderyn's horror movie Too Stupid To Live nature, following a stranger into his car and motel room.
Sing a Song of Six-Pence by Sarwat Chadda ★★★☆☆ Based on "Sing a Song of Sixpence" (Four and Twenty Blackbirds). A sad story revolving around the misery a king has caused and a deal made between the maid and the last free Blackbird.
Clockwork by Leah Cypress ★★★★☆ Based on "Hickory Dickory Dock". The most well-rounded story so far, about a princess-turned-mouse, a magic-infused clock and knife, a witch, and a political coup.
Blue by Sayantani DaGupta ★★★☆☆ Based on "Little Boy Blue". The Children of Ink reminded me of Safe-Keepers and Truth-Tellers but they appear to be wraith-like Fates. Although the story is a little amorphous, I still liked it.
Pieces of Eight by Shannon Delany with Max Scialdone ★☆☆☆☆ Based on "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" (The Papa Guards the Sheep). This one didn't interest me at all despite the mention of a prophecy, a human sacrifice and a journey. The writing style and structure of story didn't help. I'm unsurprised by my lack of enjoyment since I gave up on Delany's Twilight-esque 13 to Life series.
Wee Willie Winkie by Leigh Fallon [unrated] Based on "Wee Willie Winkie". I doubt I could give an unbiased opinion of this one so I skipped it due to Fallon's actions earlier this year.
Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier ★★★★☆ Based on "Girls and Boys Come Out To Play". Witches in the woods kidnap or call children to their den in the woods, where most are never heard from again. The protagonist finds the summoning in her catatonic sister's hands, knowing the consequences for not attending she goes in her sister's place. There's a dash of forbidden love and an ending that didn't quite satisfy. Reminded me of Sarah Jessica Parker's song calling children from their beds to their deaths in the movie Hocus Pocus.
I Come Bearing Souls by Jessie Harrell ★★★☆☆ Based on "Hey Diddle Diddle". Egyptian mythology, yes! The protagonist is a reincarnation of Hathor with the duty to welcome the dead to the afterlife, her brother is Anubis and sister, Bast. The teens live and work in a funeral home doing their mythological duty.
The Lion and the Unicorn: Part of the First by Nancy Holder ★★★★☆ Based on "The Lion and the Unicorn". Part one of the story. Reminiscent of Joan of Arc, our protagonist dresses as a boy and hears what she perceives as the word of God via an angel, telling her to serve King James I who has just been crowned King of England (the Lion) and is all ready King of Scotland (the Unicorn). While she serves him food, she witnesses his war on evil witches plotting to bring him down. He throws them in filthy cells and tortures them into confessing. But all is not as it seems...(view spoiler)[Although part two isn't included the ending is implicit: the king is a warlock sucking the life/souls out of the witches he kills. The girls vision might mean she one day poisons the king. At least that's my interpretation. (hide spoiler)]
Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling ★★★★★ Based on "There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe". Brilliant. I practically highlighted the whole story. After the Rule was implemented, the two children one couple has turns into ten with an eleventh on the way. More children than they're able to feed, as the the eldest son says, "We're like crops to them, raised to fight in their never-ending wars." The eldest daughter replies, "You'd think if they wanted decent crops, they'd figure out a way to feed them better." She's the protagonist who reaches the end of her tether. This story has the feel of The Handmaid's Tale about it.
Interlude: Humpty Dumpty, a poem by Georgia McBride ~*not included in the ARC*
Candlelight by Suzanne Lazear ★★★☆☆ Based on "How Many Miles to Babylon?". Take Stardust's Babylon Candle and two typical naive teens fed up of the usual parental discipline, and you get this story. Travelling to Babylon, a paradise too good to be true, two teen sisters escape their mother. But when they come to miss her and return home, they find that (view spoiler)[thirty years have passed, and they've been declared dead. (hide spoiler)]
One for Sorrow by Karen Mahoney ★☆☆☆☆ [DNF] Based on "One for Sorrow". DNF. Reads like it's from someone new to writing. Very simple, slow and dull. Seemed to be inspired by Poe's The Raven but with a crow instead.
Those Who Whisper by Lisa Mantchev ★★★☆☆ Based on 'When I was a little girl, about seven years old, I hadn't got a petticoat, to cover me from the cold.' When her mother dies, a girl is forced out of the village and ekes out her living in the woods with the birds. I'm unsure exactly how this one ended: whether the boy and girl went their separate ways or stayed together.
Little Miss Muffet by Georgia McBride ★★★★☆ Based on "Little Miss Muffet". Were-spiders! That's a new one on me. A satisfying short story.
Sea of Dew (short version) by C. Lee McKenzie ★★★☆☆ Based on "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod". Damn, that was depressing. I'm reminded of: Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Surrounded by the salty sea, three boys and one girl are adrift in a small boat after their vessel capsized. Water becomes increasingly scarce (view spoiler)[ and they all either kill themselves or die of thirst. (hide spoiler)]
Tick Tock by Gretchen McNeil ★★★☆☆ Based on "There's a neat little clock, in the schoolroom it stands, and it points to the time with its two little hands." One word: creepy. Good creepy, not bad creepy. But then children always are, especially identical ones with synchronised identical movements and words from their mouths.
A Pocket Full of Posy by Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg ★★☆☆☆ Based on "Ring a Ring o' Roses". A teenage boy comes to with blood on his hands and jeans with no memory of what happened, until he finds his girlfriend dead and fears he might be a murderer. (view spoiler)[Turns out a vampire did it. (hide spoiler)] Meh.
The Well by K.M. Walton ★★☆☆☆ Based on "Jack and Jill. The Shiver Rash Virus is responsible for killing thousands and finally hits Alaska where Jack and Jill believe their the last living inhabitants of their town and are probably immune. Jack loses his marbles and tries to kill Jill. There is no happy ending.
The Wish by Suzanne Young ★★☆☆☆ Based on Star Light, Star Bright. Can be summed up as the following: Be careful what you wish for.
A Ribbon of Blue by Michelle Zink ★★★★☆ Based on "Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?". I'm surprised I liked Zink's story since I disliked her writing in Prophecy of the Sisters. The female protagonist, Ruby, has cerebral palsy causing her difficulty in walking. Her grandmother whom she lives with is suffering severe emphysema and could die at any moment causing Ruby to worry about what her life will be like after she dies, until she sees a fortune-teller at a carnival who gives her hope, telling her she'll meet a boy working at the carnival who'll bring light, freedom and love. So she visits the carnival every year to the day she finally meets him. A bittersweet ending.
Sea of Dew (extended version) by C. Lee McKenzie ~*not included in the ARC*
The Lion and The Unicorn: Part the Second by Nancy Holder ~*not included in the ARC*
*My thanks to Month9Books and Netgalley for the ebook in return for an honest review.*["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to...more"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to wring every last drop out of it.
JCP, I love you. You're one excellent writer. This episode just about knocked my socks off. And that's without any sex scenes...yet. ;)
Hitherto, we've had only theories based on assumption about the ins and outs of how the turbulence-induced split realities/bodies/personalities work. Now we have actual science experiments! I love science. Except when it means testing on animals. Yet JCP skirts this by using cockroaches. No one likes cockroaches. The relief I felt at Marlin and Dallas's refusal to act on Kaye's mouse suggestion, was palpable as I silently hailed, "Thank god," at my ceiling.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #1
Roach in the cockpit (in a margarine tub) was duplicated when he rode the turbulence, just like Kaye and Me. I flattened post-turbulence roach and left his carcass in the container. After the return turbulence, his counterpart was not flattened, but he was legs up.
So, dead in the unnatural plane = dead in the normal one.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #3
I removed the left rear leg of Roach 3 inside the turbulence. Not only was he still alive when we embarked on the return flight, but when we came back through the turbulence, HIS LEG WAS STILL INTACT.
So, injured in the unnatural plane = healed in the normal one. Strange, very strange.
Conclusion 'Was the Autopilot body the "real" body, and his post-turbulence existence some mental construct?' We're straying into The Matrix territory here. Die in the Matrix, die in the real world. Hmm.
The Matrix, a mental construct.
Besides having the mechanics to chew on, we also have the four main characters and their relationships with one another to contend with.
Marlin: "If you walked into a crowd and lobbed three water balloons at random," Marlin had once said, "you couldn't nail three people more different than you, me and Kaye." [...] Marlin: "You seem to think everyone's well-being is your personal responsibility. Kaye is reliable, your're nurturing, and I'm bold -practically fearless" Dallas: "And so modest, too." Marlin: "Think about it: we're archetypes. The Leader [Captain Kaye], the Keeper [Flight Attendant Dallas], and the Guide [First Officer Marlin]."
At first, like Paul, I thought Marlin had been playing too many video games and read too much epic fantasy, but then Marlin writes the following:
'So from now on, the two of us [Kaye & Marlin] rode the turbulence together, while Dallas stays whole and does his best to wrangle the Autopilots. It's the only way. These are the roles we've been waiting to play all our lives. Maybe they're even roles we've played in previous lives. Kaye the Leader, Dallas the Keeper, and me the Guide. Maybe we slogged though the fields at Normandy together. Or stormed the Alamo. Or lopped heads in the Crusades. ~An excerpt from Marlin's notebook
And it all makes an odd kind of sense. When Marlin as the Guide suicides out, Paul replaces him. He happens to have the exact qualities that would make him the perfect Guide. He's rigidly OCD and by the book about everything. Science and rational thought will give him answers, not conjecture. And so he tries to reason his way to understanding. So perhaps Marlin's at-first-glance crazy ramblings have weight.
In the end, Paul decides he's going to sign-up for all future flight 511 shifts, however as he decides this he gets a glimpse of his self-absorbed, id-centric Autopilot as his two selves reintegrate.
Paul stared at the drink, then raised it and gave it a sniff. Orange juice-and champagne. Mostly champagne. "What the-?" Captain Kaye said, "You'll want to dump that in the toilet before we touch down." "I'm so sorry. I can't believe-I'd never-oh, man." "I know." Completely unfazed. "That's how it goes when Dallas doesn't stay behind to keep us in line. I'll probably throw up once we land." She sighed. "That's probably for the best."
If you're wondering, Kaye's Autopilot is a glutton. She races to the restaurants credit card at the ready, stuffs herself with good food and drink until she's full-to-bursting. She's put on a few pounds as a result.
The complex plot, level of depth, and character development, is pretty amazing when you realise how these three episodes in total contain only 25,900 words, that of less than half a short full-length novel. This takes real talent. Also, I heart the covers, and I know JCP made them herself.
New episodes can't come soon enough! They just keep getting better.
In this second episode, we have alternating POVs between Dallas's (Mulder) first turbulence encounter on the way to Bermuda in the past and Paul's (Scully) present experience. By Price structuring it this way we get to know Dallas better, and we also see a few glimpses of what Marlin was like before he committed suicide at the very beginning of Into the Bermuda Triangle.
(view spoiler)[It turns out what's happening is the reverse of what I expected. (This is a good thing!) It's the flight crew and not the passengers who are tampered with. There's a Freudian split of their personalities into two different bodies: the wild id and ego on the normal plane of existence and the calm voice of reason of the superego on this unnerving, deserted plane.
Buffy fans, think of "The Replacement" episode when Xander was split in two: the strong confident one and the weak screw-up. Similar thing here.
Trivia: There really are two Xanders. Real life twins!
Anyway, we get to witness both versions. The crazy ids are wreckless with no inhibitions, they do anything they want while their other halves are forced to sit around, worry and wait until it's time for the return flight out, to be reintegrated when they hit the turbulence again. (hide spoiler)]
I must say, I'm intrigued by this unpredictable tale. 3.5 stars.
Onto the next episode, Red-Eye Dawn.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed...moreCue The X-Files theme tune.
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed Mulder to be just another nutty alien-enthusiast. That is, until Scully witnessed strange events for herself and her whole world view changes.
"The truth is out there."
The above reflects this first "episode" of Turbulence. First Officer Paul Conin is cast in the role of Scully, the newbie sceptic. Dallas, a flight attendant, is Mulder to Paul's Scully. And like Mulder & Scully, I fully expect these two to get it on. ;)
The first scene, detailing the suicide of the previous First Officer, is a bit confusing but I expect it will all slot into place later on. I look forward to learning more about what happens at the end. (view spoiler)[I wonder why the passengers are "taken" (if that's the correct term) and not the crew. And where do they go? (hide spoiler)]
Guess what I'm reading next? :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)