Feast of Fools vs April Fools

Ok, needing to clear something up since I’ve kind of been having my feed spammed by the ever sexy Clopin Trouillefou (Please, by all means keep up the pictures, I can’t get enough of them!).

The Feast of Fools, made popular by Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is NOT the same holiday as April Fools day.  Clopin actually gives you the date in the movie!


The Feast of Fools falls generally around the beginning of January (I have seen dates range from the first to the sixth of January).  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “A celebration marked by much license and buffoonery, which in many parts of Europe, and particularly in France, during the later middle ages took place every year on or about the feast of the Circumcision (1 Jan.)“ (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06132a.htm)

As Clopin says in HoND, it is a “Topsy Turvey day!”


April Fools Day on the other hand, is on April 1st and well…it’s history is quite a bit murkier than the Feast of Fools.  “The earliest recorded association between 1 April and foolishness can be found in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392). Some writers suggest that the restoration of 1 January as New Year’s Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools%27_Day)

But either way, keep those sexy Clopin pics coming!  


Chicago and Crime

I wrote this a while back and even made a video on it. I figure enough time has passed to put up the article version.

Because of the constant usage of Chicago and the murder rates reported, I have done some research and wish to bring light to the events in Chicago. Donald Trump tweeted about it, but like a typical toddler, his attention is now focused on something shiny and so it is up to us citizens and immigrants to keep the story going.

Several people requested that I look into the data regarding violence, murder, and chaos in Chicago. According to them and many other sources, 2016 is considered the bloodiest year in Chicago in anyone’s memory, and they were wondering what might have been the cause of this.

Some quick facts before I start to establish context. I will be linking many articles below for you to view at your leisure on the facts, statistics, and data available.

  • Chicago is the third largest city in the United states.
  • From January 1st to June 1st of 2016, there were 316 homicides in Chicago. No other city in the US broke the 300 mark.
  • New York, which is the largest city in the United States, with a population three times as big as Chicago, only had 161 homicides during the same time period.
  • Looking at the raw data, the numbers look horrifying, especially since by the end of 2016 Chicago had recorded over 762 homicides, with the Chicago Tribune marking the number at 784, which was up 57% from the previous year. Add that to the recorded incidence involving shootings and deaths, which tallied around 3,550, it could look like Chicago is an all out warzone.
  • The bulk of the incidents occurred in only five of the cities 22 police districts, specifically on the south and west sides. Those areas are predominantly black areas, all listed as “poor”, and are known to be areas where gangs are most active. If we look at just the sheer number of victims, no other city even comes close. Pretty much everyone who was killed in Chicago in 2016, approximately 93%, was shot to death.
  • On a per capita basis though, which is generally x per 100,000 people, the shooting epidemic in Chicago is not quite as severe as the violence in many of the other large cities in the United States.

Quoting from The Trace, “The absolute numbers are helpful putting it in a context that people understand, but with the rates, you get the true scope of the problem in the way it impacts people’s lives,” John Pfaff, a professor of law at Fordham Law School, told The Trace. “People don’t care about the absolute numbers, they care about their risk, and the rates tell that risk.”

Chicago’s homicide rate over the last five years was 16.4 per 100,000 residents. In St. Louis and New Orleans, the homicide rate from 2010 to 2015 was three times as high, on average.

I will link the rest of the article from the Trace at the end of the post.

But these numbers do not answer the question of why Chicago is seeing the surge in violence, nor does it answer why people are viewing 2016 as the bloodiest year in memory. Facts and figures are great for a starting point, but now we must delve into the the why of it all.

I have spent several hours going through newspapers ranging from far left leaning to far right leaning, as well as the FBI crime databases and the public database provided by the Chicago police to try to figure out what could be causing this spike.

So what were my conclusions after all of our research? While gang violence does appear to be a major contributor, as does poverty and racial segregation…there is something more going on here. It’s almost like Chicago has become a perfect example of what happens when many different reasons converge into one large area. Almost like how rape culture doesn’t exist all at once in the real world, but we see pieces of it that all add up to what is rape culture…here we see all of the pieces that add up to our culture of violence sitting neatly in one city.

I found a well produced piece by NPR’s “All Things Considered” that offers a lot of insight and thought as to the why behind the crime spike, and we recommend that you either read the transcript, or listen to the audio file. They are provided below in the description. The guests offer opinions of segregation, children with nothing to do, fetal alcohol exposure, lack of faith based communities, poverty, the drug trade, and many other reasons.

Reverend Jesse Jackson was the main speaker on the piece and he stated that the problem is both social and political. In his own words, “It encumbers on racial disparities which should be abhorrent and is, in fact, illegal. You look at the impact of poverty. People who often have fewer aspirations, they think they can’t make it, their spirits are broken, they are perplexed.”

Another issue is that people, especially in the government are treating Chicago as if it is its own entity and not part of a larger state or country. Budget cuts mean less money for those in need or for services, which can lead to fewer people being able to find or get to work, leading to those people becoming unemployed and having to find some way to make money…even if it means using violence. The Reverend Jesse Jackson refers to the impact of poverty as a weapon of mass destruction, and brings up racial and gender disparities as adding to the larger issue of crime and violence.

He states that people are crying out for help, but are not being heard. This is concerning, because as one can see throughout history, when those on the bottom cry out for help but are ignored, it is only a matter of time before things can turn violent. They try to get attention through peace, but when that doesn’t’ work, they turn to what does bring attention…violence. It’s problematic though, because it doesn’t bring the right type of attention needed to fix the problem, and often just makes the problem worse.

As I stated earlier, most of the violence is happening in the south and west areas of the city, and those tend to be the most impoverished and gang ridden areas of the city. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Two of the city’s historically most violent police districts — Harrison and Englewood — account for fully one-fourth of the homicides and shooting incidents.”

There is no one answer to what is driving the violence. From all of the sources I have read, however, some main causes keep popping up.

Gang conflicts
Drug conflicts
and Race issues

Another issue that for a while added to the problem was an agreement that the police in Chicago had made with the ACLU. The agreement was that the police would record contact cards for all street stops, since the ACLU had claimed the police had been disproportionately targeting minorities for their questioning and searches.

Apparently the police didn’t like the new forms and complained that they were too time consuming to fill out. After new forms were made that were a simplified version of the original form, police began to notice that there was some progress in slowing the pace of the rising violence. The rise was still there, but it was down to 29% in March as opposed to 75% in January and 126% in February.

The police play into another issue regarding crime rates in Chicago, and that has to do with the lack of trust communities have towards those who are supposed to uphold the law. Distrust in authority can lead to people attempting to take matters of justice into their own hands, especially if the authorities have been shown to be racially biased or even violent towards minorities.

While I wish I could have found the silver bullet for the reason behind the rise in violence in Chicago, I do feel confident that my results at least can help shed light on a very real and frightening problem here in the United States. Guns do play a major role in the violence being carried out, and while sensible gun laws would help in many ways, I have seen the pushback that occurs when people think that someone might be stepping on their second amendment rights.

Guns play a major role, as do gang violence, poverty, and racial tension. The lack of trust in the police and the general anger towards how the police are essentially protecting the corrupt members of the force over the people the corrupt cops are victimizing adds to the tension.

To me, it’s horrifying and absolutely insane how common gun violence is here, and I’m speaking as someone who learned how to use a gun before I was eight. While researching this topic, I was thrown face first into just how bad it can be here in the United States when it comes to gun violence. I am not sure exactly what can be done to fix the problems in Chicago, but I do agree with The Reverend Jesse Jackson that we need to bring national attention to the problem. We do so when it comes to mass shootings, or violent murders elsewhere in the country, but when it comes to Chicago…oh well, just another day am I right?

The problem is only going to get worse if things aren’t fixed, and because of how many causes there are for this problem, it will take much more than a band aid to fix the issue. I suggest that those of you with followers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and elsewhere work to raise awareness of this issue. Bring it into the light, make it visible. Put aside your differences with people and even if it’s just for a short time, work towards raising awareness of this problem before it gets worse. Together we can work to fix a problem that alone we could not.

Articles cited:
“Chicago Isn’t Even Close to Being the Gun Violence Capital of the United States”

“NPR: Examining The Reasons For Chicago’s Violence”

Articles and data used in my research:

“Chicago’s murder rate soars 72% in 2016; shootings up more than 88%”

“How Violence in Chicago Compares to Other Cities”

“Chicago records 762 homicides in 2016, up 57 percent from previous year”

“Chicago saw more 2016 murders than NYC, LA combined”

“Chicago homicides”

Chicago Police Department ClearMap Crime Summary

“10 shootings a day: Complex causes of Chicago’s spiking violence”

“Editorial: What’s behind Chicago’s surge in violence?”

“Why Crime Is So High in Certain Chicago Neighborhoods”

“Chicago’s Murder Problem”

“Why 2016 Has Been Chicago’s Bloodiest Year in Almost Two Decades”

Why telling someone “don’t get raped” only adds to the problem.

I grew up with the constant feeling of hyper vigilance and fear of being attacked. Not because I lived in a crime filled area, or because I was in a war zone, but because of what I was taught as a young child and young adult.

Women and trans men are raised with the notion that it is up to them to prevent their sexual assaults.

We’re told that men will attack us and rape us if we’re not careful, so we have to take extra precautions and always be on the look out for the evil rapist in the shadows. Unfortunately, we’re more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone we know and are close to than the evil stranger waiting in a dark alley. Not that that stops people from putting a gigantic grocery list of things we’re expected to do at all times, even if some of those things are contradictory to one another.

We’re essentially conditioned to believe that we are the only ones who can prevent our rapes, and that it is our fault if we were raped because we just weren’t vigilant enough. We’re told that teaching people to not rape won’t work, and that rapists will always be rapists, so it’s up to us to prevent our rapes.

I was raped in 2002, and when I went forward to report it, I was told I was lying because I didn’t match the proper victim profile. Even family members have told me that I’m lying because I’m willing to speak up and speak out about my rape.

Please note, this article is not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of your surroundings and take steps to remain safe. This article points out that time and time again, it is the VICTIM who is required to take all the steps to prevent their sexual assault, and if they don’t take every step, they are blamed in some way for their assault.

What we are telling cis women, trans women, trans men, and in some ways cis men, is to basically be just slightly less rapeable than the person next to them.

So what I am doing today, is providing you with just a fraction of the things women and trans men are told from a young age in regards to rape. See how many of them you’ve heard, or have said/believed yourself.

-Never have your hands full

-Always carry something in your hand that can be used as a weapon (keys, “self defense” device, pencil, etc)

-If you are getting into your car, don’t put your stuff in first and then get in, get in and pull your stuff in with you.

-If you are alone, don’t do anything that can distract you from your surroundings

-If you’re out and about, don’t listen to music with headphones or keep one ear off

-Don’t wear clothing that can provide “easy access”

-Certain types of clothing send the “wrong impression” (Halter tops, tube tops, belly shirts, spaghetti straps, short skirts/shorts, tight pants)

-Don’t wear shoes that you can’t run in safely (wear sensible shoes!)

-Don’t travel alone at night

-If you HAVE to travel alone at night, stay away from the buildings, walk in the street if you have to

-Lock your car doors the MOMENT you get in the car

-Do not do anything in your car such as making phone calls/checking items after you get in, this leaves the opportunity to be attacked

-Take self defense classes

-Shout “FIRE!” instead of “Rape” or “Help”

-Don’t fully face an unknown man if he approaches you and starts talking (keep your body positioned to “escape”), if you fully face him, you cut off some escape routes if he turns aggressive

-Don’t make eye contact with men you don’t know, this may be an invitation for them

-Travel in groups if you can

-If you can, travel with a man if you are going somewhere

-Don’t “look” like a target

-Don’t accept help from strangers, especially regarding cars or anything that could result in a kidnapping/rape (same with accepting help carrying groceries)

-Lock all your doors and windows, do not leave them open unless you have them blocked in some way (dowel, window locks)

-Install a security system

-Always let people know were you are at all times

-Don’t live alone

If you DO get assaulted: (These still make me sick)

-Try to resist, but if you can’t escape right away, become passive

-Do not resist if he has a weapon, be passive. When he is distracted with raping you, get the weapon away from him (he will probably discard it to have both hands on you) and then attempt to get away. Do not use the weapon on him.

-If you cannot do any of the above, and shouting for help won’t do anything LET HIM RAPE YOU and then when he is done, try to escape. (We were told our lives were more important, and that we could live through a rape)

For those who could drink:

-Don’t go out drinking, or if you do, do not leave your drink unattended

-Cover your drink with your hand when you’re not drinking

-Be the designated driver

-Go to clubs where it’s only women

-Don’t go clubbing

-Don’t drink more than one drink

-Don’t drink at all if you don’t know your alcohol limits

From my daughters:

-Don’t bathe regularly, if you are smelly they won’t want you

-Make yourself look ugly

-Be “slutty”, men don’t want to rape “used” women (holy fuck did this take years to deprogram)

-“I want to be a man, if I’m a man I can’t get hurt anymore”

In Defense of Anakin and Kylo

We often look at the villains or anti-heroes of movies as broken, flawed, or downright evil. The problem is we rarely look at what made them this way, if there could have been a way to prevent their fall. It took me a long time to realize the reasons two villains in the Star Wars universe spoke to me like they did, especially when I saw the reasons behind their fall. As someone who is neurodivergent and who has struggled with their emotions most of their life, one would think I’d latch on to the Jedi way of thinking, in fact that’s what most people wanted me to do. Emotional control, striving to better myself, the usual things people see when they think of the Jedi.

What they don’t see is the lack of positive reinforcement and the denial of care that is needed for people to thrive.

Continue reading “In Defense of Anakin and Kylo”

In Defense of Anakin and Kylo

Growing up I always enjoyed movies like Star Wars, but I hated the messages people took from them to use on me. I came to loathe the Jedi due to people talking about how I should be more like them, how I shouldn’t let my emotions take control. I wanted to scream every time someone told me how anger clouded the mind or how anger led to the dark side. I even had a poster of quotations from Yoda on my wall that I grew to dislike so much that when I got the chance to get rid of it I set it on fire.

But it wasn’t until the prequels came out that I really felt a connection to the Star Wars universe. Even as an avid lover of the Expanded Universe the prequels, even with all their bad writing and cringe worthy romance scenes, spoke to me. I saw myself in the experiences teenager/adult Anakin went through, and that is why I’m going to state my case for why I defend both him and his grandson, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren. In my argument for Anakin, I will be excluding his romance with Padme as I feel he would have fallen regardless of this, and she was merely one of the many catalysts to him eventually becoming Darth Vader.

I am the oldest of two children in my family, and I grew up with the constant reminders of my parent’s achievements. Phrases like, “We did it in X amount of years, why can’t you?” still ring in my ears. I started judging myself off my parent’s achievements instead of my own. I began to see myself as a failure because I wasn’t as good as they were or as good as I felt they wanted me to be. Eventually, I “fell to the dark side” and lashed out at everyone and everything around me.

It took me almost three decades to finally understand that the emphasis of good and evil people place on the light and dark sides of the force were incorrect, that the force was neither good nor evil and that while one side represented passion and emotion, the other side represented the balance through serenity and calm. The two needed each other for balance, and focusing on only one side would lead the person to errors in judgment. I realized that in many cases, the Jedi were just as evil if not more evil than the Sith they claimed to fight against.

In the prequels, we see a young Anakin being taken in by Qui Gon Jin. His potential is so great that Qui Gon even cheats when it came to whether Anakin winning the pod race would result in Anakin or his mother being freed. He is taken in front of the council and they too acknowledge his potential, but also that he is full of fear and emotional attachments. While they initially turn him down, at the end of the first movie we see him being accepted as a padawan.

As the years pass, he proves himself to be both powerful in the force as well as a quick and agile learner in almost every situation he is put in. We see him being placed in charge of a clone squadron and through the Clone Wars animated series we see him grow as a person as well as rising to prominence as a Jedi as well as a general. Every hurdle thrown in his path he overcomes, however the reassurance he needs in his actions, that he’s doing the right thing or that his actions are even worth it is often so lacking that he clings to any positive reinforcement he can get. When Palpatine praises him, he latches on to those few crumbs of kindness and reassurance because he is constantly being asked by the council to stretch himself thinner and thinner for little to no positive reinforcement.

While many could argue that the Jedi do not need such things, they do need to admit that you can only stretch something so far before it breaks. The Jedi council continues to place responsibilities upon Anakin without the reinforcement that others received, such as requiring him to take on the role of a Jedi Master but without the rank or title. They punish him for the slightest error or misstep, leaving him questioning himself and his own worth.

The council holds him to such high standards that when he fails to meet them he punishes himself. He begins to doubt his own actions and worth because he can’t meet the ever higher expectations. When he reaches out for help from those he’s supposed to trust and work with he finds himself told that a Jedi doesn’t need such reinforcement, that he should look to the force. He begins to feel the strain and weight of everything he’s being asked to do, and with no real form of reward or even a reprieve from everything, he begins to crack.

The council refuses to grant him the rank he has been acting in and performing, leaving him feeling like they’re just using him. He finds himself feeling like he’s being set up to fail, that no matter how hard he tries he won’t be good enough in their eyes. The council winds up being the one to place him in the arms of a person who would wind up using him for their own means by their requests to have him spy on Palpatine.

I found myself in the arms of an abuser because I was so desperate for positive reinforcement that I clung to any I could get. I clung to people who didn’t hold me to the same standards as my parents, to people who made me feel like I was worth it. Even though looking back I know my parents were trying to motivate me to do better, I found myself at the time feeling like I could never be good enough and so the moment someone came along telling me I was good enough, I clung to them…even if they only turned out to be saying that to use me.

We see Anakin finally falling to the dark side as he realizes that he will never be good enough for the Jedi council, but he is good enough for Palpatine. In his desperation for any form of positive reinforcement he clung to someone who only saw him as a means to an end. His pain and anguish that he had held back for so many years, the constant “you’re not good enough for X” finally breaking him to the point that he’s lashing out at everyone and everything, even the children who could have easily been taken and converted into dark force users like the kind we see in Star Wars Rebels.

It is only after he is finally spent, after he’s exhausted himself to the point that he’s near death, that he’s finally able to realize the damage he did. By lashing out he has wound up killing everyone he once cared for. He’s destroyed everything he knew and worked to maintain. He’s fully at the mercy of an abuser who will replace him once he’s no longer useful.

He’s fallen because the bar had been set so high he couldn’t reach and then was blamed for not being able to reach.

While he does in the end redeem himself, he passes this legacy along to his son and to his grandson. In The Last Jedi we hear about how Luke took Ben Solo and some other force sensitive children and began training them. Ben shows himself to be strong in the force and highly sensitive, and this leads to him in some ways not receiving the same reinforcement and work as the other students.

He’s the grandson of Anakin Skywalker and the nephew of the great Luke Skywalker, he should be able to do all of this standing on his head, right?

Luke talks about how Ben’s affinity to the dark side was growing and that he should have paid attention to it sooner, showing that he was making the same mistakes that had been made with Anakin. We hear from Kylo that it was Luke’s betrayal that led him to finally fall, leaving us to realize how much he looked up to his uncle. The man he trusted the most, who he looked to for the reinforcement he needed, was standing over him with an ignighted lightsaber. Even though Luke admits he wasn’t going to kill him, the damage was done. Ben broke and became Kylo.

We see Kylo time and time again trying to prove himself to others, trying to prove he’s worth keeping around or that his opinion is worth listening to. We see him lashing out in anger but often turning it on inanimate objects as opposed to people when things become too much. While many could say he’s just a boy throwing a tantrum over not getting his way, almost all of the times he lashes out are due to failure on his part. Even as Kylo Ren he’s still seeing the bar that had been set by others hanging above his head. Every time he fails at something he realizes he’s not good enough, that he’s letting people down.

Even today, at almost 36 years old, I still look above my head and I see that bar that was set by my parents and others around me. I see how far out of reach it still is, I hear their voices asking me why I haven’t been able to reach it, why I couldn’t do it in the same time period they did. I can feel myself being stretched thin by their expectations and demands, and I can sympathize with Anakin and Kylo. I feel the constant struggle of giving up, of lashing out at everyone around me, of burning everything to the ground because I cannot do what others feel I can and should be able to do.

While most people look at Anakin and Kylo and see villains, I look at them and see two people who had so much expected of them that they finally broke. I see two people who were constantly held to ever more impossible standards, who were punished every time they failed but rarely if ever rewarded for their successes.

Most of all, when I look at Anakin and Kylo, I see what I could have become.