Thursday, June 24, 2010

Update: library adventures

There is a Coles in the mall where i do my groceries, strategically placed between the grocery store and the pet store. It has been so hard breaking the habit of stopping in to "just look" which inevitably leads to a purchase. But i haven't gone in once since i decided libraries were the way to go.

Luckily, the library is just outside this same mall. The building looks small and kind of sketchy from the outside, but inside it is SO NICE. i don't know why i expected it to be decrepit, but it's not. Lots of chairs & tables to work at. Brightly lit. A comfortably cool temperature. Wireless internet. Fuck yes! Much better than working at the university library, even if it does mean some of the actual books i need aren't immediately at hand. So, success, of a sort. i still haven't actually gotten much work done. Still, it's a start.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Ain't The Rosedale Library in trouble

You can donate to This Ain't the Rosedale Library here.

This Ain't is a independent bookstore in Toronto. A bookstore that supports local writers. A bookstore that has a great selection of Canadian poetry. A family-run bookstore. The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail both ran articles on the financial difficulties This Ain't is facing. The G&B mentioned the encroachment of Amazon. A fuller account of what happened is available on the This Ain't site. Small bookstores have been closing all across Canada (and the States, too). But the indies are necessary; so much local literature, especially small press lit, isn't carried by the big online bookstores. One of the things we lose, when we lose something like This Ain't, is accessibility. Once the small retailers are pushed out, the big corporations can decide whose literature we can and cannot buy.

So many bookstores have gone under with too little fuss too late. Let's not let that happen here. There's great community support for This Ain't, and owners Charlie & Jesse are accepting donations to help the store overcome it's current debt. There is a facebook group, Friends of This Ain't the Rosedale Library, where ideas on how to help support the bookstore now, and in the future, are being shared. This bookstore has a fighting chance to get back on its feet. Of course, once it's there, drop by and see why Canada's literary community is mobilizing to raise funds for this Toronto staple.

Please pass the link around:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

i write letters [TRIGGER WARNING FOR FGM]

The following in response to this: see also:

Basically, young girls are undergoing clitoral reduction surgery at Cornell University, and then have to endure examinations where their clitorises are touched by Dr. Poppas or his nurse, so that he can chart how much sensation remains after the procedure. Both the surgery, and the touching, are medically unnecessary. The only thing wrong with these clitorises is that a doctor has decided that they are too large.


Dear Antonio Gotto and David Skorton,

I am emailing you to express my concern about the way Dr. Dix Poppas has been conducting his research. An article entitled "Bad Vibrations" (which can be found online here: explains that Dr. Poppas has been touching the clitorises of young girls in order to determine the extent of sensation after clitoral reduction surgery. The surgery, which is largely cosmetic in the first place, is invasive and abhorrent. It is completely unacceptable to alter the genitals of young girls for aesthetic purposes, especially when there is no strong evidence that these girls derive any benefit from the surgery at such a young age, while their bodies are still developing.

In addition to the surgery, Dr. Poppas has been touching the clitorises and vaginas of these girls, aged 6 and older, to determine the extent of sensation remaining after the procedure. Research is the only justification for the genital stimulation in these cases, for if sensation were reduced because of clitoral mutilation, it could not be replaced. Dr. Poppas wants to chart the amount of clitoral sensation these girls experience by touching their genitals annually. How does a conscious 6-year-old feel when her privates are touched and she is asked to rate the sensation by a grown man? Shouldn't patient psychological health trump medical interest? These children do not deserve to suffer molestation from a doctor, an authority from a practice and institution they should be able to trust.

I urge you to conduct a review of Dr. Poppas' research methods and ethics. I had always thought Cornell University had rigorous standards of academic and medical integrity, and am shocked that this could be going on at your institution.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spring resolutions

i spent a lot of time in the public library as a kid. We used to go about once a week, usually after church on sundays. When i got a bit older, my mom would let us spend p.a. days at the library, instead of sitting at home. She'd take us to the library on her lunch break, and pick us up when she'd finished work. But i haven't had a public library membership in years. Partially that's because university libraries are better stocked, but it's also due to my increasing penchant for buying books, even books that i will read once and never again. My book habit is one i can't really afford, and the accumulation has become a bit ridiculous. So my goal for the next year is to only buy books i need for school, books by people i see at readings, and books by people i know. Additionally, i will try to buy these books only from independent booksellers. i will not renew my chapters card this year, and i will not get caught in the "i have a coupon so i have to buy something" trap.

It might seem self-indulgent to make this kind of statement on my blog, but it makes me feel a greater sense of accountability because someone from the internet might judge me!

The point is, i suppose, that with online ordering it seems way more convenient to buy books than to support the library system, even if it's not financially prudent. And there are far more chapter's stores around than library branches. But i love libraries, i really do. And i'm going to make a point of doing work at the library rather than at home. For someone as entrenched in her apartment as i am, that will actually be more difficult than it sounds. But now i have committed myself by telling my plans to you, the internet. Wish me luck with this June 13th resolution.