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“Excuse You”

May 6, 2011

You’re sorry. A drink in one hand. The other strokes
a coward’s cock. You’re sorry. This apology laryngetic,
vacuous, a whisper of space. Every conversation with you
bends the same spoon as if it were knees
before you suck.

What you take from me,
what indulgence can be made in excuses
where you are a cursed set of chromosomes
confused as to why your nights disappear
into the wild of a man’s ass or how stares
from the right men force you to cave,
what of me will accept that of all this desire,
you could not choose, it is not yours.
Born this way: an acceptable mantra
of defeat, of disgust.

Yes, you’re sorry. You can’t help the moments
when you want to give in to the hardon.
Pushed by nature, you spread asscheeks and
accept tongue. Selected by Jesus, it is God
who informs you to let another man crawl
inside your mouth and cum.

You’re sorry because had it been up to you,
you would have mimicked your parents sexless estrangement
or replicated the carbon copied neighborhood
manufacturing children in place of conversation.
You’re sorry. Had you the choice,
you would have welcomed the invisibility
of a life like any other, but you make it clear.
You could not choose, this is not yours.

Yes, you’re sorry. Wear it like a cross, mythic and metaphorical
across your chest as if it were red-lettered scar,
a missing leg, a blind eye, a sloppy left brain.
You would think nature had dropped you on your head,
and the result was a bruised affection.

You’re sorry. I will not forgive you
for crediting nature with my desire to engage
my lips at the end of the night on a man
who was smart enough to send me flowers
and talk about Foucault. God did not
explain to me the methods of doublefisting
or deliver the hardon that comes from a tightened rope.
These belong to me as I have chosen them,
and I have made them mine. I am not sorry
for spooning semi-bruised after a night wrestling,
feeling fur against the small of my back,
or writing love notes in the margins
of my shopping lists to men I should never have loved.
But I am not sorry. You explain you are born this way
as if I would not have chosen each of them,
as if they were not mine.

But those kisses,
I chose it.
Each one,
it’s mine.
Each dick,
I chose it.
Sucked, held-
it’s mine.
Hours sleeping,
I chose it,
his arms-
they’re mine.
Online porn,
I chose it.
Chat rooms,
they’re mine.
gayday at disney
i chose it –
the bathroom sex,
it’s mine.
turning trade,
i chose it.
badpuppy
it’s mine.
fucking raw,
I chose it.
getting high,
it’s mine.
coming out,
I chose it.
fighting back,
it’s mine.
activism,
I chose it-
speaking out
it’s mine.
every fuck,
I chose it,
every time,
it’s mine,
in the streets,
I chose it,
in bed,
it’s mine.
in my mouth,
I chose it,
in my ass,
it’s mine,
in my heart,
I chose it,
in my mind,
it’s mine.
this life,
I chose it,
this life,
it’s mine.
this life,
I chose it,
this life,
it’s mine.

I chose it.
It’s mine.
I chose it.
It’s mine.

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“Happy Birthday”

January 21, 2011

The idiot in my office expects me to sing,
and when I abstain, we all get a memo.
In it, I am referred to as nonparticipant
and there is a polite suggestion
that nonparticipants excuse themselves
instead of triggering the fire alarm.

“Letter in response to John Broughton’s critique of Pique”

January 21, 2011

The existence of God is a philosophical position. It makes sense that John Broughton of the group New York Philosophy writes a strongly-worded letter defending the bipartisan nature of non-believers, a term that might equally embrace all atheists, humanists and agnostics. The author of that letter wants to ensure equal play for the politically liberal instead of making such easy mark of the nation’s recent rash of conservative royalty, and I can’t help but agree. In approaching religion as an adopted cultural philosophy and dependent institutions as fundamentally corporate entities, there is little rationale for us to be unwilling to accept a bipartisan criticism of faith-based decision-making in American politics.

The challenge, however, is that the very dependence of modern conservatism on religious narrative (that includes its foundling Tea Party Movement) will always play lead anecdote to the minor indecencies of progressive politics. It seems cumbersome to trot out the Palins and O’Donnells or even cite a teary-eyed Glenn Beck as many of us are familiar with the popularized assault on intelligence inherent in their invocations of Jesus, insults to Islam, and so forth. What is worth exploring, on the other hand, is whether or not it is possible to separate church and the state of conservative values in America.

In defense of equal criticism, the schism of finance versus faith-fiction ought to open the door to straying bankers, managers, tycoons, those who envision a godless empires of limitless irresponsibility for the poor and infirm. It would seem like the perfect fit where a man (and it would be a man) would be able to exercise his already existing position of power with no bureaucratic or social control as if the world were one poorly maintained sweat shop and his castle, a shelter for Porsches.

Not only could this individual see through the facades of the church, but it might even be to his benefit to co-opt it, market it, begin to shift language and play up the part where believers’ understanding could elide with market values. They might buy books that subscribe to aspirational intentions that the market would never let them succeed (Osteen) or spend ample funds they make working menial jobs for the opportunity of a phone-in prayer (Warren). In fact, without the burden of a sensitivity and ethical obligation inspired by greater progressive thinking, a man could employ the masses in their belief systems as if sending workers into a mine with unregulated safety procedures.

By invoking the Tea Party as a “misunderstood” movement is to ignore that its “fiscal policy” is a misappropriation of the idea of financial accountability where the government is somehow evil practitioner and the market moves in (super?)natural harmony.

While it is fair to call into question the insular rants of Richard Dawkins and make light of the foibles frequently found by the liberal spokesfolk (Maddow, Maher, etc.), inherent in the principles embraced by the conservative movement is not only limited government participation but unlimited reliance of the market as the great social balancing sheet guided by a religion that long ago ignored the 100+ references invoked by the prophet Jesus about that giving away all the money thing and embracing the poor.

Progressives should also not get a pass for their insensitivities and errant ways. However, implicit in the acceptance of diversity, attention to working class concerns and commitment to government as a body of regulation established by the people (even if it wasn’t intended that way) is greater care in the ethical treatment of others. Progressives suffer fracturing, and for this, failure to isolate a single message is what undermines much of the success of such a vast and dynamic movement. It also makes hypocrisy complicated since even a progressive such as myself couldn’t give you a standard stump speech about how things should be. Instead, I want to do it by committee and vote and circulate opinions and hug a tree. We have problems, too.

All of this is to say again that discourse about religion is philosophical, and even as non-believers, there is value in it. Since these intellectual pursuits are bipartisan, it is paramount to call into question our own privileging of progressive leaders. As I have tried to illustrate, the inhibitor to establishing such an editorial balance is that the Capitalist romance fundamental to American conservatism yields greater opportunity to highlight the same structural issues that have dissuaded many from faith-based industry (i.e. the church) in the first place. Plus, the jokes about conservatives are just funnier.

“Your Father”

January 21, 2011

Somewhere between
the urban and the less so

an old man hunts
for cock found on the Internet,

his cane slicing up
newly fractured ice pools

as if spring’s eye
were always winking

and the rumply
surgeries of his belly

unveiled candies
rather than limp dick.

He is a grandfather
to a girl who only thinks rainbows

and a husband
to a woman who turned up the tv

and if this
is what is left of him,

a noodle of legs
following a crass erection

and nothing good
can come from this.

“19”

January 20, 2011

Said only once,
his age executes anticipation
as if warm air through winter’s door.

Celebrate air!
and five Haitian teens are crowding
a Florida hotel with their libidos, unwieldy.

They sing,
“We are everything, undone” instead
of that birthday muck, an eager ruckus for sure.

All us boys
bring ideas and string, boxes
nailed with wire mesh for trapping squirrels.

To fix an engine,
a man might turn it off, but boys will run
and suck lungs full of inexhaustible ardor.

Then, it is all
lamentation only later,
with the accident of chest hair, wrinkly fingers, age –

“We are everything,
undone!” he repeats until out
of breath, until exhausting his own body.

Occupational Pain Attitude Survey

November 24, 2010

Recent studies identify relationships between physical and psychological health and the nature of a person’s employment (Charles, Loomis, & Demissie, 2009; Li, Chen, & Kuo, 2008; Christensen, Schmidt, Hougaard, Kriegbaum, & Holstein, 2006). Taken in conjunction with correlations between low socioeconomic status (SES) and poor quality of health (Young, 2004), the working poor are one of the most at risk populations for severe both psychological and physical health problems. Future research into the coping skills and eventual reduction of risk for this population means identifying workers currently suffering from psychological or physical pain in their current positions.
The Occupational Pain Attitude Survey is an untimed assessment that consists of 10 statements about physical and psychological pain endured by employed people. The purpose of the survey is to identify individuals who may be suffering physically and psychologically in their current occupation. The results will indicate populations for future work investigating health care decision-making.

Design Decisions
This Occupational Pain Attitude Survey must be easy to use for workers of all skill levels and abilities. Many design decisions accommodate workers of lower socioeconomic status through the test length, item format, and item construction.
A short survey provides a greater opportunity for workers potentially limited by time-demands to participate. Many members of the working poor, or employed individuals considered of low SES, carry more than one job or have significant responsibilities in the home that make enormous demands on their time (Conlin & Bernstein, 2004).
A simplified item format is very important for a test looking to reach a wide audience. Selected-response items serve to keep a test quick for respondents who may not otherwise have time to participate. Accounting for identified correlations between socioeconomic class and levels of intelligence, a true-false approach allows respondents to participate who may not have the intellectual capacity to contemplate the dimensions of their attitude in a short amount of time (Hogan, 2007). The language of each item must be simple and direct to accommodate less educated workers. Translations into several languages (Spanish, Korean, etc.) allow inclusion of recent immigrants or workers with less fluency in the English language.
One initial concern in choosing a true-false questioning method is simplicity’s possible hindrance to reliability. However, as Hogan writes, “complicated systems usually yield only slightly better (more reliable or more valid) scores” (2007, p. 214). A simple true-false survey is as likely to produce accurate results as a more comprehensive format for identifying individuals currently in a position in which they suffer pain from their occupation.
The true-false statements are broken up into two pools representing occupational pain. Each statement was written in mind that these will be administered in an employment environment. Five questions (4, 7, 8, 9, and 10) refer to the respondent’s attitude toward physical pain as reflected in the extent of physical labor, level of physical comfort, perceived level of tiredness, access to medical resources and the desire for a job of a less physically strenuous nature. These questions represent research done in the area of socioeconomic status and pain correlation (Christensen, Schmidt, Hougaard, Kriegbaum, & Holstein, 2006). Five questions (1, 2, 3, 5, and 6) refer to the respondent’s attitude toward psychological pain as represented in the ability to control aspects of their working lives such as communication channels, schedule, work/life balance, and value in the work. These questions stem from research done in the negative effects of psychological disempowerment (Li, Chen, & Kuo, 2008) and subservience (Gallo, Smith, & Cox, 2006; Gasson, 1974).

Administration, Scoring and Interpretation
The Occupational Pain Attitude Survey is individually administered in a wide variety of employment environments. Test administrators receive thorough instructions in anticipation of questions a respondent may have about the attitude test. The test administrator reads the statements to the examinee that then responds to the statements being true or false. The administrator writes down the responses as well as all related observations relevant to the survey (long pauses to think about answers, looking nervous, etc.). The respondent must answer each question.
Items in the test are converted from true-false to a “0” or “1”. “0” represents a response that does not reflect pain and “1” represents a response that does reflect pain. To ensure variation and identify instances in which a respondent either does not comprehend the question or participate completely, there are five questions requiring a reverse score.
Scoring the survey yields three results. A complete score assesses the individuals’ level of pain across categories. Interpretation of the results relies upon the ability to discriminate between populations reflecting a situation of occupational pain and those who do not. Each of the two categories yields a subscore. Subscores of this survey should also identify populations who may be suffering psychological work distress as opposed to those who may suffer pain primarily caused by manual labor.

Conclusion
Identifying populations who perceive pain as part of their working experience is important to future studies regarding health care decision-making, particularly for those who may see themselves as rationing or limiting access to health care for financial or cultural reasons (Nixon & Aruguete, 2010). The Occupational Pain Attitude Survey includes both physical and psychological factors in assessing a respondent’s experience of pain to identify this population. This information may have implications in health care service provision for the working poor as well as provide useful insights into the value of quality working conditions for employers.

References
Charles, L., Loomis, D., & Demissie, Z. (2009). Occupational hazards experienced by cleaning workers and janitors: A review of the epidemiologic literature. Work, 34(1), 105-116. doi:10.3233/WOR-2009-0907.

Christensen, U., Schmidt, L., Hougaard, C., Kriegbaum, M., & Holstein, B. (2006). Socioeconomic Position and Variations in Coping Strategies in Muculoskeletal Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1287 40- and 50-Year Old Men and Women. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 38(5), 316-321. doi:10.1080/16501970600766467.
Chung, M., Lee, I., & Kee, D. (2005). Quantitative postural load assessment for whole body manual tasks based on perceived discomfort. Ergonomics, 48(5), 492-505. doi:10.1080/00140130400029217.
Conlin, M., & Bernstein, A. (2004). Working…and Poor. (cover story). BusinessWeek, (3885), 58. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.
Gallo, L., Smith, T., & Cox, C. (2006). Socioeconomic status, psychosocial processes, and perceived health: an interpersonal perspective. Annals Of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 31(2), 109-119. Retrieved from MEDLINE with Full Text database.

Gasson, R. (1974). Socioeconomic Status and Orientation to Work: The Case of Farmers. Sociologia Ruralis, 14(3), 127-141. Retrieved from SocINDEX with Full Text database.

Kristensen, T., Borg, V., & Hannerz, H. (2002). Socioeconomic status and psychosocial work environment: results from a Danish national study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 3041-48. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Li, I., Chen, Y., & Kuo, H. (2008). The relationship between work empowerment and work stress perceived by nurses at long-term care facilities in Taipei city. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(22), 3050-3058. Retrieved from CINAHL Plus with Full Text database.

Nixon, T., & Aruguete, M. (2010). Health careAttitudes, Knowledge, and Decision Making. North American Journal of Psychology, 12(2), 355-364. Retrieved from Business Source Complete database.

Young, F. W. (2004). Socioeconomic status and health: the problem of explanation and a sociological solution. Social Theory and Health, 2, 123-41.

___

Occupational Pain Attitude Survey

1. I am in control of my schedule when I work. True False

2. I am doing the type of work I enjoy. True False

3. I can take time off to relax. True False

4. I would like a job a job that is less physically demanding. True False

5. I can tell my boss when I am upset about a work condition. True False

6. I have time outside of work for my own interests. True False

7. I find my job physically demanding. True False

8. I am tired at work and at home. True False

9. I find it difficult to see a doctor about pain I experience. True False

10. I am not physically comfortable at my job most of the time. True False

Numbers 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 are reverse scored.

“Did you like this test?”: Identifying Distinctions Between Online Quizzes and Psychological Testing

November 9, 2010

The first question of Pamela’s “What career is right for you?” online quiz wonders what you like to do in your free time, but the second one, “What do you do during school when the teacher is not looking?” inspires doubt that these questions lead to worthwhile suggestions for your occupational future. In 2001, the American Psychological Association assembled a task force with the singular goal of exploring the effect of the Internet on psychological testing, and one of the task force’s key points as illustrated by Pamela’s quiz was that “the distinction between testing and psychological assessment is important because most of what is available on the Internet is testing, not psychological assessment” (Naglieri, et al., 2003, p. 17). Although the terminology appears confusing, this task force is drawing clear lines between what they are simply calling “testing” and psychological testing (or psychological assessment). Defining what constitutes psychological testing, the various types available for making these assessments, and the significance of providing both reliable and valid testing results, it becomes clear how to identify the casual online survey that asks “Did you like this test?” from a measured psychological assessment.

Defining Test
H.P. Hogan in his book on psychological testing defines test using six defining elements boiled down from sundry dictionaries and resources (2007). First, a test must be a procedure or device, whether it is performed on paper or a computer or via interview. Second, it must produce data in the form of performance ability, knowledge of content, opinion, etc. Third, information must be applicable to some form of behavior, which Hogan explains has a broad context to which it is applied so as to include “behavior and cognitive responses” (p. 40). The fourth component involves using a representative sample from which to draw conclusions rather than exhaustive testing of each participant. The fifth element is that the test must have a standardized procedure representing uniformity across the administration and scoring, and the sixth component is that there must be some reference to quantification or measurement.
Using Hogan’s simplified guideline, it is possible to consider Pamela’s flippant exercise in job-suggestion making to be a test, but what the APA’s Task Force raised in factoring in the propagation of online tests was adding a seventh characteristic that acts to refine the methods and result. They write, “Test results obtained from the Internet may be inaccurate because of the specific method employed in the testing and there is no psychologist available to assist in interpretation” (Naglieri, et al., 2003, p.17). Using the word test interchangeably with psychological assessment, this process is defined by the six characteristics above along with this seventh element: a test must involve professional interpretation.

Types of Testing
The Task Force, as quoted above, also states that the type of testing itself can be a factor in distinguishing a test’s legitimacy. Hogan (2007) lists out five types of tests: mental ability tests, achievement tests, personality tests, interests and attitudes tests, and neuropsychological tests.
The first division of psychological assessments is the mental ability test that includes a vast array of individually- or group-administered exams that focus on cognitive processes such as creative thinking, logic, memory, etc. Commonly used for gauging capabilities. An example of a test like this would be the reasoning portion of the college prep test, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) that gauges a prospective college student’s intellectual abilities. Others tests, like the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) are assessing intelligence quotients, commonly referred to as IQ tests.
Achievement tests form the second type of testing and the SAT is also an example of this method. As Hogan writes, “These tests attempt to assess a person’s level of knowledge or skill in a particular domain” (p. 6) and a college student demonstrates proficiency in various subjects with all college entrance exams including the ACT or GRE (for graduate school). This type of subset called achievement batteries makes up one of five subgroups for achievement testing. Other subsets include single subject (an exam testing a person’s English-language capacity), certification and licensing (driver’s test for a license), government-sponsored programs (No Child Left Behind, for example). While the prior subsets are all group-administered programs, a fifth subset involves individually-administered tests such as tests that facilitate various diagnoses (blindness, hearing loss, etc.).
The third type of psychological assessment according to Hogan (2007) is the personality test. The objective personality test, such as the popular Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, uses a simple marking system (true or false, for example) and objective scoring system to deliver insights about a person’s personality traits. Projective techniques, on the other hand, seek to unveil elements of a person’s personality through interpretation like the famous Rorschach Inkblot test or sentence completion technique. An assessment of violent impulse on an individual could involve this type of projective technique to gauge initial responses or underlying anger. Additional less frequently used approaches to personality assessment fit neither category.
Interests and aptitude tests make up the fourth subset that includes vocational interest measures. Formal approaches to this type of career-focusing exam according to Hogan (2007) include the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and Kuder Career Search (KCS). This type of test also includes tests that look at attitudes towards groups and practices such as the Dyadic Sexual Communication Scale that seeks out a participants communication attitudes regarding sexual activity.
The final group involves neuropsychological testing, which according to Hogan are tests that “yield information about the functioning of the central nervous system, especially the brain” (p. 8). A study looking at the reaction times for clinically depressed people would involve this type of testing.

Reliability and Validity
Paula’s test is an attempt to be a vocational interest measure, but a concern presented in the APA Task Force is whether the results of this online test are not only reliable but also valid. They write:

“…because there are many more tests that are now available via the Internet, there is much variability in the quality of these tests. The extent to which there is documented evidence of the reliability and validity of [online] tests is also quite variable because many Internet tests do not seem to meet standards established by the profession” (Naglieri, et al, 2003, p.63).

Reliability refers to the ability for a test to produce consistent and replicable test scores. When a test is administered, the results for the user are expected to be the same each time the test is given, taking into account test scoring, test content, the environment of the test’s administration and personal conditions (Hogan, 2007).
An online test like Paula’s occupation finder may reliably produce the same result for a participant without being valid. Validity, according to Hogan (2007) is the most important facet of psychological testing because it refers to the “extent to which interpretation of a test score is appropriate for a particular purpose” (p. 351). In this case, validity questions whether the result of Pamela’s online test generates an accurate portrayal of your occupational future. It certainly does not appear to do so.

Conclusion
Like Pamela’s fanciful look at work preferences, the vast array of online tests often fail to live up to the standards psychologists have set for tests to be used as valuable assessment tools. As the APA Task Force suggests in their 2003 report, the Internet itself is hardly to blame as the new technology does create new opportunities for testing by offering “speed, cost, and convenience” (Naglieri, et al., 2003, p.9). By understanding the elements that make up a test, the types of tests used for assessment and the importance of a test’s reliability and validity, distinctions between a casual Internet quiz and an online survey yielding valuable information for both research and guidance are much easier to identify.

_____

References
Hogan, H. P. (2007). Psychology Testing: A Practical Introduction (2nd ed.). : John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Naglieri, J. A., Drasgow, F., Schmit, M., Handler, L., Prititera, A., Margolis, A., & Velazquez, R. (2003). Psychological Testing on the Internet: New Problems, Old Issues. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/science/programs/testing/testing-on-Internet.pdf

Pamela. “What career is right for you?”. Retrieved from http://www.allthetests.com/quiz28/quiz/1288659195/What-career-is-right-for-you