Continuing at the top of the next page. The first page of this Narita entry was having trouble updating, which is a sign that it was getting too long.
Students in Pell's seminar got to pick the papers they were interested in presenting. There were two to a paper, or at least a couple people presenting each week. I think the two presenters got together beforehand to analyze and discuss the papers they were to present that week. A lot of the papers were from the journal "Cognition and Emotion."
Most of the papers were pretty disappointing. A lot of them were downright bad. I was disappointed myself, and worried, as well. When Michel Paradis selected papers for his seminars there was usually a good mix. Some papers were very difficult, some abstruse, some inventive, some poor, some were a mix. Paradis was never shy about going through the papers and saying what he liked and didn't like. Neither were any of the students, as far as I knew. I felt perfect freedom to say what I disliked about the research, with no inhibition. The trick was to back opinions up with hard evidence. I never observed Paradis yelling at a student for questioning him. He seemed to enjoy hashing out tough questions with the students, and it all appeared perfectly good-natured from my perspective.
Marc Pell was very different. For starters, the research he had selected was disappointing, as I said. I had been plugging away steadily at statistics courses, and the material had started to coalesce, at least as it applied to our subfield of psychology. I was trying to make an effort to examine the statistical analyses in the papers I was reading with a critical eye, instead of just taking the statistics and figures at face value. Marc Pell had apparently not made the same effort. Statistically-speaking, most of the papers were bumf. Also, disorganized, poorly written, poorly argued. It didn't speak well of Marc Pell.
I had taken a seminar with Michel Paradis on much the same topic: Right Hemisphere Pragmatics. Winter 1999. In that seminar there had been a few things in some of the papers I hadn't liked. Paradis didn't exactly get all verklempt about it. He would consider what I had said, and either agree or disagree.
Marc Pell actually did get all verklempt about it. You would have thought I was insulting his nearest and dearest. It can be fun to rip a bad paper to shreds, and I didn't see why I should hold back. Nobody else was, by which I mean that Katerina Klepousniotou was having her fun, too. Henry Cheang caught on, although he wasn't as good at it. Diane Pesco had a few points to make as well.
As said earlier, I had gone into the seminar wanting to make nice with Marc Pell for two reasons: 1) political -- Elin Thordardottir was giving me shit, and I needed help in diffusing the situation; 2) I was actually interested in the Right Hemisphere, and was hoping to do some research along those lines.
(Oh, Elin Thordardottir. Stories of her freakouts are legendary. And you never knew what would set her off! She took off to Europe for a month or two my first year with her. She didn't give me a heads-up first, and I hiked over to her office one day to get something signed, and found out she had been in Iceland for two weeks. This was long before you could handle a problem like that over email. When she eventually got back from Europe, I met with her and asked her, politely if a bit blankly, if she could warn me in advance if she was leaving her office for any length of time, just in case I needed something signed before she left. Elin Thordardottir screamed at me AND ACCUSED ME OF TRYING TO CONTROL HER LIFE I SHIT YOU NOT. She is such a fucking moron.
I didn't dare say boo to her after that sociopathic freakout, but there was a coda to all this. A while later, can't remember how long, I went to Elin Thordardottir's office for some reason or other, and found, again, that she had gone to Iceland, and would be there for a while. Shari Baum overheard me knocking at Elin Thordardottir's door, and came into the corridor to tell me that Elin was out of the country. "She never tells me these things!" I said, exasperated. Shari grinned, and I took off. I think Shari talked to Elin when Elin got back, because she did actually start telling me after that when she was leaving for Europe. It didn't make a big difference. Elin Thordardottir is a worthless moron no matter which country she is in. That was almost the sole productive thing Shari Baum did for me during my tenure at McGill in her department. It backfired. A few years later, when Elin's new PhD students, Machid Namazi and Adreanne Gagne entered the department, I warned them about Elin, and gave this incident as an example. Machid Namazi sneered and Andreanne flatly and directly accused me of lying. They didn't want to believe it. I wasn't that worried. The Earth's magnetic field will one day flip, but Elin Thordardottir's fucking incompetence is an immutable fact of life. And of course, in time I was shown to be right. But I had had a nervous breakdown by then.)
Update: Was ripped off over the Internet when sick by a woman named Brooke of Vancouver, aka brsquared of Etsy, email firstname.lastname@example.org, 1210 Quayside Drive, New Westminster, V3M 6H1, (604) 790-7002. I'm still dealing with the fallout. Will probably end up in small claims court, but feel better just typing it out.
Also, I'm not employable by language schools in Victoria because I am not TESL Canada certified. The PhD counts for squat. I need to pay $400.00 to have my credentials verified by someone with a Masters. The only way I can currently afford a $400.00 fee is if I stop eating. The irritating thing is that a couple of the local schools WANT to hire me, but they can't, or else they will get in trouble with Languages Canada. I emailed the local MP, Murray Rankin (NDP) to complain, pointing out that it would take me three months to scrape together the necessary funds, plus an additional six weeks to get certified. Could they intervene? Murray Rankin's henchman, Alisma Perry, emailed me back to say that it wasn't their problem. Languages Canada is "recognized" by the federal government, but it is apparently not OF the federal government. Nothing they could do to help. Also, there are a lot of unemployed people in Victoria, and I wasn't that special, so stop whining. It was like dealing with the Canadian medical system!
This makes for dull reading, but it is a relief to type it out and get it out of my system. Otherwise I stew all day. Soon as I can scrape together airfare I'm off to China. This country has taken too much and given me nothing.
Update: Oh, relax, people. Marc Pell may not have plagiarized my research. At least, I am not positive. I don't have access to all the information. Something I read about Marc Pell when I got out of hospital in 2005, is all. And if he didn't -- hey, anyone out there want develop a facial emotion recognition test battery based on implicitly, unconsciously, naturalistically generated stimuli? It's a fucking amazing idea, if I do say so myself. I just couldn't get Marc interested in the idea. God knows I tried. He wanted to hire actors to generate facial emotions explicitly, because that's the way it's always been done. So sorry for that, Marc, if I unfairly maligned you on that point. Of course, I don't know if you actually deserve the apology. You're still a nasty little bitch either way, of course, so I'll keep on talking about that instead. I'll write about it more tomorrow, in fact. Bedtime.
Pell Seminar: I complained about the stats. Katerina -- as she was calling herself then -- complained also -- I can't remember about what specifically, but I remember she was paired up with Areej to present one paper, and Areej mentioning that she herself had thought it was a good paper until she discussed it with Katerina. Katerina tore through a few, just as I did. Katerina made a negative comment about the journal of Cognition and Emotion. Marc Pell defended it as a good journal. Henry Cheang make several negative comments about the research. I can't remember what they were, and I am sure they were not important.
Diane Pesco came up with an interesting idea. A couple of the papers had dealt with the theory of lateralization of positive and negative emotion. I remember one paper had positive vs. negative emotions on a sort of Cartesian coordinate grid, though I can't remember what was on the other axis. Diane made the good point that the idea of seeing emotions through a framework of positive or negative values was a Western one. A Buddhist might not necessarily make the same division. She had more to say on the subject, but I can't remember it in detail. I though she was making a good point that could be adapted to new research, but I don't know if she ever did any research along those lines, or if Marc picked up on it.
During the seminar Marc starting talking about hiring actors for the facial emotion test battery he was preparing. I started complaining about that kind of test battery. They always really worried me. As I said in class, you run into the "ceci n'est pas une pipe" problem. For these tasks, the participants are not shown the reality, they are shown a representation of reality. I talked about using implicit measures instead. Galvanic skin response. I said there were things that people picked up on implicitly, like pupil dilation, that actors couldn't fake -- not even the best ones. Use naturalistic stimuli rather than consciously generated "emotional" expression.
Marc Pell didn't like my idea, and he said so in class, because that wasn't the way it had always been done. Too bad. As I said, I had been hoping to impress Marc Pell. I needed publications. I had brought a list of ideas for research projects to Elin Thordardottir, and she had shot them down, and told me I was too easily distracted. I was hoping Marc Pell would like my idea, and invite me to work on the project with him.
But no, it wasn't to be. At the end of the seminar - near the last day, I mean - Marc Pell apologized to the group for the poor quality of the papers he had chosen for us. I got a reasonable good grade on my final papers for the class: A minus. Not good, not bad. Grades are inflated in grad school. Marc Pell had some quibbles with the execution rather than the general idea. His complaint with the paper was arguably correct, so I didn't worry too much about it at the time.
Update: Had an appointment today with Laurence Alexander Bosley. Honestly, I'd rather be psychotic than deal with that unctuous little creep. That's the last I'll ever see of him! Bye, bye Bosley!
Update: I'm starting to dislike this blog, which worries me. Writing about McGill brought up a lot of bad memories. I feel like I need to get my memories down, but it is difficult. I am starting to second-guess myself, and worry about what I should be writing, instead of what I want to write. Maybe the doctors will be better in Europe or China.
Update: This wouldn't be a proper daily update without a potshot at the Canadian medical profession. It's strange, but writing about and making fun of doctors on this blog has never left me depressed. The doctors I have met have disgusted me; they have frightened me; I found them ridiculous, and I hold them in contempt, but in a sense, they were lightweights. The doctors and medical students at Schulich were so over-the-top in their disgusting behaviour that I couldn't consider them real human beings. They were mostly funny. I think this was a result of the way they talked about their patients. They talked about their patients in a very simple fashion, as though the patients weren't human. It reflected back on the doctors at Schulich, as far as I was concerned. I looked at the doctors there through the framework they gave to me. I turned their framework back on them. That's what they see in my blog. They taught me how to write it.
In contrast, the people at McGill were real human beings, complex, multidimensional. I took them seriously. They left their mark on me.
Pell seminar: After the seminar, I wasn't worried, at first. But I had a few strange conversations with Henry Cheang and with Katerina Klepousniotou.
Henry started to come up to me, and begin long, spluttering diatribes, a propos of nothing, against overly critical researchers. He kept on saying: "I know there's a lot of bad research out there. Trust me. But I simply can't stand people who tear down other people's work for no reason!"
This was a complete about face from his behaviour in Marc Pell's seminar, when he had been quite free in criticizing the research we were presenting.
He would also come up to me and start asking me for my opinion on such-and-such aspect of Marc Pell's research. I would give it to him. Then he would become angry and walk away.
I stuck by my guns. I had the right to my opinion, and my opinions were well-founded, I thought. Besides, Henry Cheang was initiating conversations with me, not the other way around. He was asking me for my opinion. I wasn't shouting it out uninvited.
I made a compromise with myself. I would flatter Henry in every way possible that I could. I would be as nice to him as I could be about everything he said regarding his own personal life, his likes and dislikes. However, I would not compromise my point of view on research. It was important to me. I wasn't mean in presenting my opinion -- I tried to be as soft-spoke as possible, but clear.
(This compromise didn't work. When Elin Thordardottir and I finally parted ways, Henry Cheang saw his chance, and his insults to me became frank and public.)
To backtrack a bit, though, again, shortly after the Pell seminar ended, Katerina had a strange conversation with me. We had known each other for years by that point, and our conversations were pretty free-wheeling, but I remember what she said clearly.
Katerina said: "Sometimes I think (Michel) Paradis taught us too well. He taught us how to be too critical."
I had the feeling then, though I can't remember why, that Shari Baum had said something to Katerina, and Katerina was passing it on. It was also an about- face from Katerina's own behaviour in Marc Pell's seminar. I disagreed with Katerina. I had liked Michel Paradis and his critical manner just fine.
I also remember slagging Marc Pell to Katerina. Katerina told me that she worried about my supervisor, Elin Thordardottir, because Elin was an unknown. I was her first PhD student. It was a good point, though I didn't want to acknowledge it at the time.
I in turn pointed out to Katerina that I had my doubts about Shari Baum, Katerina's supervisor. Shari Baum had been Marc Pell's supervisor, too, and Marc Pell wasn't very competent, I thought.
I forgot that Katerina had a big mouth. We were the very best kind of frenemy.
I realize that this story is meandering and tangled, but it is what I want to write about, and this is my blog.
In any case, it takes only a short time to write these events down, but a long time for them to happen. It took me a while to realize I had gotten myself a Marc Pell problem on top of my Elin Thordardottir problem. I still felt comfortable enough with Marc Pell a year or so after the seminar to ask him to sign off on paperwork. At least, that is what I remember, but my memory for paperwork isn't as good as my memory for research and conversations. I kept on applying for grants and fellowships, and this required getting department members to sign off on my CV and my research proposal. The CV would have had my RH paper listed on it. I remember typing out my list of publications again and again for various fellowships, and wishing it were longer. Nothing to show for my time under Elin. Somewhere in a filing cabinet at McGill there is probably a copy of my CV with Marc Pell's signature on it. My RH paper should have been in my student folder as well. It was completed in Linguistics before I entered Elin Thordardottir's department. She had wanted to see some examples of my writing before she decided to take me on as her student. This was the work I had been most proud of at that point, and I would have been happy to talk it up.
In any case, there's definitely a copy of my CV somewhere listing my RH paper, and with Shari Baum's signature on it. She was departmental head. She also did work on the Right Hemisphere.
Update for today: 30 minutes of this, and then I'm done until tomorrow.
Theme for the (next few) days: How I Ended Up In Shari Baum's Shithole Department.
I started off in Linguistics. I arrived at McGill planning to work under Michel Paradis. McGill had sent me some information about the department, and his research sounded interesting - far more interesting than the research done at UofT in their Linguistics department.
I entered in 1997, Fall. By Fall 1998 I had my PhD thesis topic: Implicit Probabilistic Classification in Individuals with Genetic Dysphasia. I'm not going into the topic in any detail. I had found a test for assessing non-verbal implicit/procedural probabilistic classification -- a "weather pattern prediction" task used by Barbara Knowlton with individuals with Parkinson's Disease.
I needed a task for assessing implicit/procedural verbal probabilistic classification skills. I thought of Reber's artificial grammar strings. Paradis had probably mentioned them in class.
So I read some of Reber's papers, and decided to try out one of his artificial grammars to see how they worked, with an eye to using them with individuals with Genetic Dysphasia. I made up a bunch of flash cards, and tried the artificial grammar task out on Katerina Klepousniotou. It didn't work. Or, more precisely, Katerina was learning the grammar, but she was clearly using explicit/declarative strategies. I could tell, because during the task she was giving me a run-down on what she was thinking. This was no good. I needed a purely implicit/procedural verbal task. Katerina is very clever, of course, but some people with Genetic Dysphasia are very clever too, and they might use explicit/declarative strategies to learn an Artificial Grammar. Paradis's hypothesis was that individuals with Genetic Dysphasia had problems with implicit/procedural learning, but explicit/declarative knowledge was intact.
I went back to the library stacks, and tried to figure out what went wrong. I soon found the paper that explained it. People with Parkinson's Disease (implicit/procedural problem) were impaired on Reber's Artificial grammars, but so were people with Alzheimer's Disease (explicit/declarative memory problem). There was no double dissociation, in other words. The Reber Artificial Grammars were not purely implicit/procedural. Clearly, this task would not do for my PhD thesis.
While I was still in Linguistics, Kate Watkins from London (England) gave a talk at the Montreal Neurological Institute. This was just before she moved over to McGill and while she was still working with Vargha-Khadem (?) with the KE family. Watkins gave a nice talk, and opened up the floor for questions. I got to ask the very last two questions. Jaana was still at McGill at the time. She was sitting next to me, and told me to ask about the "implicit rule".
I asked Watkins if anyone had tested members of the KE family on implicit tasks, like Reber's artifical grammars, specifically. Watkins said, no, it sounded interesting, but she hadn't heard of such a thing. Then I asked her if members of the KE family sang. She said yes, they did, that a lot of them liked singing, but the underlying problem still remained. Jaana laughed, and said I hadn't asked quite what she meant.
Plante, Gómez and Gerken published a study on individuals with language impairment and the artifical grammar task in 2002. It was a few years after Kate Watkin's talk. They did the study wrong. It irritated me no end. Too lazy to do the reading properly. The reason I had felt comfortable asking the question in Kate Watkin's talk was because I knew perfectly well at that point that the task didn't work properly.
Tomblin and Zhang in 2004 presented a poster at a conference in which they really did use an implicit memory task with individuals with SLI. Tomblin and Zhang referenced Plante, Gómez, and Gerken 2002 in their poster I think, but Tomblin and Zhang were the first people to actually do the study correctly. It was extremely annoying. I referenced Tomblin and Zhang 2004 in my PhD dissertation, but refused to discuss Plante and Gómez 2002 on the grounds that they were lazy slobs. I wanted to include a paragraph to that effect in my PhD dissertation, but there was no way in hell I could have gotten it past my committee. I've never had a venue to talk about it before, so thank you, dear blog, for making yourself useful once again. Done for today.
She thrusts her fists against the posts, and still insists she sees the ghosts.
I found it easy enough to come up with a good thesis topic. Managing departmental politics in Linguistics was a lot harder. This was terra incognita for me. I was the first person in my family to go to grad school. Both my parents finished their undergraduate degrees in their thirties, while working. I wasn't alone in that respect, though. There were people in the department who came from similar backgrounds. And I certainly wasn't alone in finding the political atmosphere stifling. Students were leaving the place in droves. Administration knew they had a problem.
When I finally became politically astute enough to pose the question, I went to Paradis and asked him frankly whether I was going to be able to push my thesis topic through the Linguistics department. "Not a chance," Paradis answered cheerfully. Paradis was an odd man out in that department, a non-Chomskian. At that time the department was Syntax-heavy, operating from a strict nativist perspective. I hadn't gone to McGill for that. I like drawing tree structures well-enough, and I think Government and Binding is useful for describing some aspects of grammar. However, there is a lot of garbage that goes along with it that I don't take seriously. A lot of people in Linguistics take it very, very seriously, however. (I was sort of shocked when I finally figured that one out).
My first few years at McGill Myrna Gopnik left, and Eva Kehayia moved to a different department. There were a lot of theoreticians left, and I didn't respect their research. I asked my question of people other than Paradis, and I was made to know that I might be allowed to do my thesis project the way I wanted if I did some work in Syntax first. The idea was that I was to do my comprehension/evaluation paper on theoretical syntax. The comprehensive evaluation paper (that wasn't its correct title - I forget what it was really called) was a project that all PhD students had to complete before they were allowed to work on their actual thesis. The comprehensive paper was taken very seriously, had to go to committee, and so forth.
My topic was theoretical syntax work on a native language spoken not far from where I am now. I was interested in the language and the culture. I met some really amazing people through my work. And I produced some really BAAAD research -- holy shit, did I ever produce some bad research. Really lousy, worthless, crappy research. Utter garbage. Almost as bad as the stuff the theoreticians were producing in McGill's linguistics department.
I was so ashamed of the work I was doing. Compounding the problem was the fact that I was working with people who had a history of being used by members of the white establishment. There was no doubt in my mind that I was using these people and their language as a way of furthering my academic career. I was giving them nothing in return. I was not treating their language with respect. I am not even going to name the language I was working on. It deserves much better than to be named in this context.
Around that time Chris Grindrod moved up into Shari's department to do his PhD after finishing his Master's. Katerina switched into the same department a semester ahead of me, and encouraged me to switch also.
Paradis strongly recommended San Diego, but the only thing I knew about American universities is that they are expensive. I also don't like the hot weather.
I went to Martha Crago and asked her to be my supervisor. I had heard good things about her, and I liked her work in Inuktitut. She turned me down. I was annoyed at the time, but she was a nativist, and it wouldn't have been a good match. She pointed me to Elin Thordardottir. Elin's research philosophy was more in line with my own, she said. She assured me Elin was "nice".
I sent off my application to Elin in the fall. I included an outline of my PhD proposal. I had the implicit non-verbal task (Knowlton's Weather Pattern Prediction task), but I need an implicit verbal task as well. Reber's artifical grammars didn't work. Elin suggested I look into Jenny Saffran's work for that task, which was a good idea. She also taught me that the population I was interested in was correctly called people with "Specific Language Impairment". "Genetic Dysphasia" was a specific subgroup of that.
She also said she thought my idea was very exciting. Flattery: it gets you every time.
Update: Doctors poison everything they touch. I really dislike my allies. I'm even starting to hate this blog. It doesn't feel like it's mine anymore. I am not enjoying writing this part out. That is the first time writing in this blog has been a real chore. However, I spent years trying to get people to listen to me while I was ignored. I might as well enjoy the fact that I've got a captive audience now. I can't wait to leave Canada, though.
Update: Elin stopped the flattery almost as soon as I officially became her student. Instead, she started to take pokes at me every time I met, little insults at first, undermining me. I was very confident in the quality of my PhD proposal. Elin didn't like that. I picked up on her dislike, and tried to dial it down.
I wasn't that impressed by Elin's own research. However, as far as I was concerned, I was there to do my research, not hers. Besides, I thought I might be missing something. Maybe Elin's work was better than it looked on the surface. A lot of what went on in that department was new to me: testing methods and standardized assessments in particular. I thought it was best for me to be forbearing.
It took about a year for my studies to snap into place in Linguistics. It took about a year for my work to coalesce in Shari's department. One thing I learned a lot about was standardized measures of assessment, which are indispensable to a clinician, but not used at all in (Chomskian) Linguistics. It is a surprisingly shallow subject. I also had the opportunity to study more stats, which had been frowned on in Linguistics by most, but was encouraged here, at least until your stats knowledge started to outstrip Marc Pell's, which unfortunately, didn't take long.
I think Elin stopped doing any work for me around month six. That's also when she started screaming at me. Up until then she had been reasonably productive. She helped me on the project I had done with Lydia White. Elin couldn't contribute to the content, but she has/had a truly amazing talent for selling herself and her "work". I had certainly fallen for it. It is an extremely useful skill for applying for fellowships and conferences. I picked it up the skills pretty quickly, also what she had to say about standardized measures. I read the articles she recommended. I read them again and again. Eventually, I started to feel I had a better grasp of the subject matter than Elin did.
But around month six, she stopped even pretending to do any work. I hadn't realized that up until that point she had essentially been going full throttle on my behalf, because Elin's full throttle is Michel Paradis's or Lydia White's gentle amble. But at one point, she simply stopped correcting my papers.
I wanted to get started on my thesis project right away. But I was in the same position I had been in Linguistics: I needed to write and get passed an evaluation paper first. This meant sending a paper proposal to a tree-person committee, getting it passed, writing the paper, getting it passed by another committee, presenting the paper before the school, and fielding questions successfully.
Elin urged me to take it slow. For my sake. She told me that was the last opportunity I would ever have in my career to read anything very deeply. I didn't have much of a choice. Elin rejected proposal after proposal. There could be a month-long time lag or more between the period I handed something in to her, and when I got feedback. She refused to grade papers when she was teaching a seminar -- which meant that the three month period in spring and fall were out for me -- and she refused to correct papers when she was in Iceland, which could happen at any time.
Worse, the woman is downright incoherent. I could have put up with the insults, the screaming, and even the time delays if I had felt I was getting good feedback. But she driveled. When I first met her I was impressed with what she said because I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought she must be speaking of deep matters. After a year I came to the conclusion that Elin Thordardottir had no idea what she was talking about either. She was a simple-minded twat. She had nothing for me, and she was putting as many hurdles as possible between myself and my PhD research.
Once, I scrupulously recorded everything she said during her diatribe after she handed back another rejected research proposal. I memorized her drivel to the letter, incorporated it into my next proposal, and recited her words back at her the next time she called me on the carpet. She started yelling at me and contradicting her own words. She had taken so long to read over my new research proposal that she had forgotten the instructions she had given me during our last meeting. How do you deal with that kind of fucking worthless moron?
It's funny to say, but the only reason I put up with the sociopathic abuse from that twat Elin Thordardottir was because I wasn't being paid. If she had been my boss at a regular job, I would have been out of there in a heart beat. But I wanted to do my PhD research project. I wanted to do it so bad. It was a beautiful project. It was just an amazing project. Even if the results had been negative, it would have been better work that anything Elin Thordardottir could ever dream of doing. I made that project the priority of my life, and even now I can't regret having done so. I failed, but I gave it everything I had, and it was a noble failure.
Update: I really want to leave this country. I am scared in this city. The doctors here frighten me. They are so vicious. I worry that at any moment I can be hauled off the street and taken to a place where I am screamed at and beaten, and where I don't even have access to a lawyer, and where no-one will believe a word I say. I am so scared sometimes.
Update: I'm scared, but I don't need to be. I'm staying far away from anyone I know, and I should be out of the country in a few months, even if I have to swim.
Update: As I was saying, if Elin had been my boss instead of my supervisor, I wouldn't have put up with her for five minutes. However, I wanted to do my research project above all else. Also, the fact that I wasn't being paid led to my throwing good money after bad. I forget what the logical fallacy is called, but I was too angry not to cut my losses. With all the useless, unnecessary abuse that I was putting up with, I felt that Elin owed me. It's one of the reasons I feel no compunction about writing about her in this way in my blog. She deserves every word, and worse. At least I didn't make the same mistake in medical school.
I tried to hide my contempt towards Elin, but it was hard. I was scrupulously polite and formal as much as I could be. I don't know how well I succeeded.
Such a fucking idiot, that woman. I might as well get my money's worth out of her hide. After rejecting for no good reason several drafts of my evaluation paper proposal (distinct from my PhD proposal, but a necessary precursor) Elin finally decided that I could take my evaluation proposal to committee. My paper was going to be on Williams syndrome and SLI. The committee was formed of Jake Burack (there for the Williams syndrome component), Shari Baum (decoration), and Elin.
We met in a small room, I think I gave a summary of the proposal, blah, blah, Jake Burack had a few relevant comments to make that I forget, Shari said something or other, and then ELIN THORDARDOTTIR FAILED THE PROPOSAL OF HER OWN GRAD STUDENT AFTER TELLING ME TO BRING THE PROPOSAL TO COMMITTEE OH MY GOD WHAT A FUCKING IDIOT. I don't know what Jake Burack thought. Shari smiled her Cheshire Cat grin and was useless, as is her habit. Seriously, I have no idea why Shari holds the reputation for intelligence that she does around McGill. I never saw much evidence of it. She was actually on several of my committees for various papers, and I loved having her on them, because she never recommended any changes, and always passed everything as is. Easy. She'd pass anything, essentially. She once made a useful comment in that she rightly corrected a reference in one of my papers. Other than that, all she did was rewrite all my Canadianisms into American English. Shari is American. She crossed out my Canadian use of the present perfect. That really did annoy me. I didn't see why I should have to write American English, like a foreigner in my own country. Such an odd, 1950s Ugly American thing to do. It is possible that she didn't recognize the differences between my dialect and hers, but this requires only a little intelligence. Our department was supposed to be language-heavy, and there were a lot of people without a good grasp of English, even when it their first language.
Anyway, Elin told me after the meeting that she wasn't going to use Jake Burack any more, because Jake wasn't very good. As much fun as it was to hear the professors sniping at each other behind backs, I couldn't figure that one out. Jake had probably been the most grounded person at the committee meeting, followed by me. Shari was a long ways off, and Elin was Pluto. Such a twat, but I enjoyed typing it out.
Update: 30 minutes. I'm procrastinating, but if I don't write about it, I'll just stew about it, and a bit of it is important. Elin Thordardottir was just slapping me around to show me who was boss, of course. Eventually she did pass my proposal. There wasn't that much difference in quality between the first draft and the last. Elin had been there mostly to waste my time and kill my better ideas.
Now that the paper proposal was done, I had to write the actual paper. The rigmarole began all over again. It took Elin much longer to read my work than for me to write it. Whenever I got something back from her I would write like a fiend for a month. Then I would hand in my draft and get an answer back three months later. Her critiques were just garbage, completely unrelated to the work I was producing. I don't know how I stood it.
Eventually Elin accepted a version of the paper. I presented the paper to a group of professors and defended it. (They grilled me with questions, I fended them off. It was good practice). Five minutes after my evaluation paper was passed ELIN STARTING INSULTING MY WORK AND POINTING OUT MY PERCEIVED FLAWS IN FRONT OF HALF THE DEPARTMENT. Happy to return the favour, Elin. May I suggest you put on a shit-eating grin and bear it? That's what I had to do.
I wasn't proud of my evaluation paper. Elin had too heavy a hand in it. A good three years work under Elin Thordardottir, and nothing to show for it. The same thing wasn't going to happen with my PhD proposal on probabilistic implicit memory systems in SLI. I had sacrificed three years for it, and I was going to do the idea justice. It would be done right. I understood the material far, far better than Elin. I was not going to allow her to get in my way. I decided I would have to bypass her as much as possible.
That actually worked pretty well, at first. However, I needed to get through McGill Ethics in order to run the experiment. Some students in the department ran their own experiments under their professor's Ethics coverage, but Elin always had to make things as difficult as possible. I needed to make a separate application by myself.
Oh, good. Today's thirty minutes are up.
Update: Thirty minutes.
Not only did I have to get Ethics approval from McGill, I also had to go through the Ethics committees of medical research centres in Montreal to gain access to participants for my study. This went along swimmingly. Elin had a much better grasp of the necessary practical paperwork than she did of abstract research ideas -- she really missed her calling as a secretary -- no offensive to secretaries -- I'm not saying she would have been very good at it -- just that she might have been less disastrous than she is at pretending to be a researcher -- secretary at a McDonald's outlet maybe -- anyway, I ignored Elin as much as possible, and got a lot done fairly quickly. I communicated directly with the lawyer of the (non-McGill) Montreal medical centre. She was an absolutely lovely person. I had to give a presentation to a board of members at her centre, explaining my research project. It went just fine. I didn't bother telling Elin that I was making the presentation. I think Elin was out of the country at that time, though to be honest, for the most part I had stopped trying to keep track.
I also sent off an e-mail to Jenny Saffran, asking for her help with my PhD project. Elin knew about this. Jenny Saffran had invented the task that I wanted to use with my potential participants. It was the task that Elin had recommended -- an implicit, probabilistic, verbal task. I had defended my evaluation paper in 2003, so this would have been in Fall 2003. I was doing some work for Diane Pesco and Martha Crago and the time, and Diane helped me with the email. I told Saffran that I wanted to use her task with a population with learning disabilities -- I didn't say which population exactly. However, I told Saffran in the email that I was Elin Thordardottir's student, so she could have gotten that information easily enough off the web. Or just asked around. Elin taught the yearly seminar on SLI in the department, and also had done published research with that population. Diane told me to say in my email: "I will credit your work as is standard", which I thought was an elegant, professional way of putting it. I received an email back from Saffran a little while later, giving me the information I had requested, I think, and also "thanking me for my interest", which wasn't a phrase I had heard before either. It rubbed me the wrong way, though. Don't know why.
Update: I am so scared of that fucking hospital. I am so scared of that hospital. Those doctors and nurses are out of control, and patients have no rights, no value, and no credibility. I am even more scared of that hospital than I was of Susan Rvachew and Katerina Klepousniotou, and those two organized a harassment campaign against me and bullied me into a nervous breakdown. I will leave the country soon, and I will never visit a doctor again for the rest of my life.
It it was liked being beaten and raped. And once you've been beaten and raped you become a non-person, and everyone who knows you've been beaten and raped gets to beat you up and rape you again, because, why not? you are obviously a bad person. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been beaten and raped. And the fact that being beaten and raped had made you ugly is justification for beating you up and making you even uglier. And, if you complain about being beaten, as I did in hospital, the punishment is being beaten some more.
The best day of my life was when I got that email from Susan Rvachew telling me to falsify my research. The second best was the email she sent threatening me and calling me crazy for refusing to falsify my thesis. It was incontrovertible proof of the fact that she was a monster, and I was innocent of the crimes for which I was being punished. But the doctors and nurses at the local hospital and still beating me and punishing me, and I want it to stop.
And it will. I will get the money soon to leave Canada, and I will be safe.
Update: I also will be stopping my medication. My rationale is simple. On medication, my word is worth nothing. I am not a human being. I have been locked up, screamed at, and beaten, and no one thinks that's important, because I am not a human being. I have been abused and stolen from, and no one believes me. On medication, I do not have the legal rights of a dog. I am monster that doctors and nurses can scream at, beat up, and abuse. Off medication, I may or may not be psychotic, but I will be a human being in my own eyes.
Update: This blog helps so much, though. It is the only voice I have. It allows me to be a real person, with my own thoughts and opinions that belong to me. No one is forcing me to write in this blog. No one can make me say anything I don't have to say. I feel like I'm alive as an independent person because of this blog.
I am the only person in existence who thinks I have value. I am the only person alive who believes I am a human being. No-one else in existence believes I am a human being, therefore, no one else matters. I answer only to myself. I am stopping the medication today.
If I can live without medication, then that will be proof that I am a real human being. Then people will have to stop mistreating me and beating me up. I will be a real human being with my own, valid opinion. Like Pinocchio!
Honestly, given that the medication is partly for depression, it doesn't seem to be doing its job. At least when I stop taking it, I'll be able to start drinking.
I am so tired of doctors and nurses beating me up and treating me like shit. Then, when I complain about being beaten up and treated like shit, they tell me I am crazy, then treat me even worse just to prove their point. Only crazy people dislike being mistreated by doctors! Just think, three more months at Schulich, and I would have just about reached the epitome of human perfection. For the low, low price of twenty grand a year. I would have lost my soul, and about forty IQ points, but my psyche would have been wrapped in an impenetrable carapace of spoiled, dumb, medical student brattism. Fifty IQ points.
Writing about the department has put me in a bad mood that's hard to shake. I'm only about half of the way through. I need to keep on writing and finish it off. I keep on thinking about what I have to write next, and it's ugly. Having my research plagiarized is bad, but it happens to me often, and there's a complimentary flip side to it. On the other hand, what that cunt Ekaterini Klepousniotou and Susan Rvachew did to me was truly evil. It's going to take another month or so to write it all down, and I'm already a wreck from writing about the first half. I need to go back to writing thirty minutes a day.
I'm scared of doctors, but they are so dumb and obvious that they've got their funny side. The two things that are bothering me now are 1) fear of the local doctors and hospitals, and 2) bad memories dredged up from writing about my department. When I get to Europe I won't have to worry about the local doctors in Victoria. I'm never coming back. Once I have finished writing about my department I can stop thinking about it. It's going to take a few months to pull it all together, though. I still need money.
What Susan Rvachew did to me was the equivalent of sticking a knife into my brain. What happened to me in that department was a beating and rape. And when I went to the doctors for help, they told me I had imagined the whole thing, and they sent me right back to the people who had beaten and raped me, and stuck knives in my brain. Thank God, thank God, Susan Rvachew sent that evil email.
I was beaten for no reason in a hospital in London, Ontario by a nurse named Kim, and I am still in pain from it. I was screamed at and beaten at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C. I am so fucking scared. I have no legal rights. I have no protection. It is so scary, knowing that the cops can show up at you door at any moment, and take you away to a place where you are locked up, beaten and screamed at, and you can't get out, and don't have access to a lawyer. In BC, they don't give you access to a lawyer. I am so scared all the time. What Susan Rvachew did was stick a knife in my brain, and she has gotten away completely free, and I keep on being punished for her crime. It's like being raped again, and again, and again, and it will never stop.
It's like Susan Rvachew was determined to erase my capacity for independent thought. She wanted someone completely vacuous, completely empty, who could only repeat the words she put in my mouth. I was not allowed to have ideas independent from hers. It was a mind rape, what she did.
About the repeated beatings - the problem is, you get used to them. You start to feel that it's alright, because your body doesn't really belong to you, anyway. When I told my mother about the beatings, she essentially told me there was nothing I could do about it. The system was designed to protect doctors and nurses, so no point in my making a fuss. It's like Susan Rvachew and Ekaterini Klepousniotou felt I had no right to my own mind and thoughts, and doctors think I have no right to my body. Both my mind and my body are being raped repeatedly, like they don't belong to me anymore. I can see why so many people give up. I write in this blog to remind myself that I still have thoughts that belong to me. My body I'm less sure about. Those rapists at the Jubilee Hospital can grab it and violate it any time they chose. I'm the only person in the world who thinks my body should belong to me. In Canada, my body doesn't belong to me. That's why I'm so scared.
I do have the right to my own body! I wrestled back the right to my own mind from Susan Rvachew. It took seven fucking years for that cunt to screw up, but I'm smart, and I have the patience of a tree, and I pulled it off. I have my blog, and I have the right to my own thoughts. I'll even be able to do good research again. She can no longer steal my life away. Instead, I'm the one who is making that ugly evil cunt miserable. I'll get my body back, too. I'll leave Canada soon, and I'll be safe. Then, I'll go back to making fun of the doctors at Schulich. It's easy, I enjoy it, and they deserve it. To a doctor, being made fun of is like being raped. They really can't handle it, and I've got a million of 'em, Nadeem Hussain.
I am safe from Susan Rvachew. She can't hurt me anymore. I will soon be safe from doctors, and I will go off this medication, and I will be healthy and free.
It's a good thing I've got a very solid sense of my own self-worth. Every doctor I have every met has tried to kill me.
Update: That's a little dramatic. Too bad. I've been gaslighted, beaten, screamed at, and tortured by doctors and nurses for no reason. It's like they want to either drive me to suicide or else to wipe my personality from the face of the earth.
Oh, oh, and I know the local doctors are reading this blog. Poor, poor, poor Doctor George Wray, of Saanichton, BC, who has known me since I was a child, and who cooed at me when I told him I was beaten up in hospital. Fuck you, you whiney scumbag. Now the optometrist (Neumann) who works next door to poor, poor George Wray is giving me shit.
Update: The more I complain about doctors on this blog, the worse they treat me. I do love this blog, though. I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Update: Susan Rvachew tried to contact me through Researchgate a month ago about a shitty, worthless little bit of research I once did for her. I am embarrassed by the research I did for her. She was screwing around with the data sets for most of it. I just did that worthless stuff to get people off my back and so I could get the hell out of that department. It really scared me when she tried to contact me. I wish I could get a restraining order against her.
Update: To the (redacted) guy panhandling outside 7-11: Dude, no, you are not going to get my money if you call me that; this is not good business practice.
Update: However, Swedish is now in beta on Duolingo.
Update: No, no, Beverly Katz (of Hannibal), do not go into the basement by yourself! I lo-o-ove you!
Oh, dammit. Dead by cliché.
Update: Twenty minutes.
I had contacted Jenny Saffran about using her task, and I had ethical approval from research centres outside McGill, but I needed approval also from McGill Ethics. I wrote up the proposal and did the paperwork. I was in constant contact with the secretary for the Ethical Review Board, a very pleasant but overworked woman. One thing I made sure of with her was that I would be able to sign the forms by myself, and bypass Elin Thordardottir. I expected Elin to be out of the country when I made the submission, though I didn't really care one way or another. I got verbal confirmation from the Ethics secretary. There was a lengthy document on the McGill website covering the process for submissions to the Ethical Board, but I didn't worry too much about the fine print. God knows no-one else in our department was worrying too much about it. Besides, I figured in this case it was better to beg forgiveness then ask permission. The day I submitted my application, I made a search through the department after Elin, asked after her at the office, and, as expected, couldn't find her (didn't really care -- was relieved, in fact), and so I submitted the Ethics application under my own name and signature.
I found out that, although the Board had some minor problems with the content of my application, they REALLY didn't like the fact that I had submitted it under my own name and signature. They contacted Elin. Elin was thrilled. She was about as sick of me as I was with her.