Monday, April 23, 2018

The Weekend in White Supremacy

Another weekend in white supremacy.

So that's all going terribly. 

The Right Wing on Campus

They're coming for your student government.
"The American right, aided alas by far too many allegedly centrist writers, keep attacking left-wing academics for what the right wing is actually doing. Right-wing provocateurs and their violent supporters are what's threatening free expression on campus—not safe spaces or trigger warnings. Christian schools make students worship the flag and believe in hyper-specific theological dogma (it's often not enough to worship Jesus; you have to worship the right kind of Jesus), enforcing groupthink to a degree impossible at secular universities. Now, Turning Point wants to take over your student government as well, to make sure that only the right groups get funding."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Asperger and Nazi Collaboration

At long last, Herwig Czech's study of Hans Asperger's complicity in Nazi eugenic programs was published. My understanding is that he has been talking about his findings for some years, but only allowing select authors to view his documents. There's also a new book by Edith Sheffer, who wrote this op-ed. The book comes out in May. The news, thanks to Czech, is not a surprise, but of course it's generated significant news coverage.

I'm recommending folks read this stunning conversation between Steve Silberman and Max Sparrow. Sparrow writes, "It is deeply subversive to live proudly despite being living embodiments of our culture’s long standing ethical failings."

And then read this twitter thread by Ari Ne'eman for an overview of what this finding doesn't mean for diagnostic shifts.

More to come as I carefully read the article and Sheffer's book.





Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Ship Who Sang: AT in SF

I wrote about John Scalzi's assisted tech series, Lock In and Head On. It's an interesting series from a disability culture series in many ways, but especially because there's so little sci-fi really focused on assistive tech as a major plot issue. There's lots of assistive tech around sci-fi, but not as a central point. I wrote about an old favorite from when I was a kid:
While many works of science fiction explore the transhumanist potential of separating the mind from the body, I struggle to think of many that engage such premises through the lens of assistive technology. Anne McCaffery, one of the most famous speculative fiction authors of the 20th century, did so in her Ship Who Sang series. In McCaffery's universe, physically disabled babies are euthanized unless their minds are sufficiently exceptional. The brains of those lucky few are implanted into life-supporting shells to become organic computers, and some of them get to become spaceships and roam the universe. Those novels were published in the 1960s. I read them in the 1980s, as a teenager, and thought them marvelous. Today, I shudder. I'm not alone. In an essay titled "The Future Imperfect," Sarah Einstein explains why that universe feels so grim to contemporary readers: "In McCaffrey's world, disability is so depersonalizing that the very promising are rewarded with slavery and disembodiment; those who don't pass the test for these rewards are put to death." The problem is that McCaffery—like me as a teenage reader—didn't really understand that The Ship Who Sang isn't a tale of liberation; it's a horror story.
Got any others? The VISOR in Star Trek: The Next Generation had its plot moments (and was inconsistently written). Others?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#AbolishICE: Man with Down Syndrome Threatened with Deportation

I am so angry. There are so many outrages. But this one ... ICE is magnifying the vulnerability of this Latinx disabled man. Meanwhile, based on the reporting, it feels like things were going pretty well for him with a strong support structure and a job locally.

"Just following orders" is not, and never has been, a moral statement. When this era ends, we're going to have to abolish ICE. It needs to become a consensus position. And the people who did this are going to need to find other lines of work.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Real" Autism

Read Sarah Kurchak on "real" autism
Where I saw the first irrefutable proof of myself, though, so many others saw a referendum.
“But you’re not really autistic,” an acquaintance posited a few weeks later, when I was still testing out how and if to introduce this new explanation for everything into casual conversation. “You can have conversations. You’re out at a bar. I have a friend who’s autistic. Like, real autistic. You can tell. And he could never do this.” He took my wandering eyes and distracted response as signs of concession, not as a testament to my at least somewhat obvious autism, and moved on. I soon got used to this type of exchange. I’m still hoping that I’ll eventually get better at handling it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

#TimesUp at UCLA

In 2008, a history professor at UCLA forcibly kissed a graduate student, the start of years of harassment. In 2018, he was fired. Is #TimesUp finally in academia? My latest at Pacific Standard.
""I'm so thrilled I can't even tell you. There's 10 years of weight lifted off of me." These are the first words that Kristen Hillaire Glasgow says to me over the phone as she reacts to the news that the professor who sexually harassed her and other students for years at the University of California–Los Angeles is being forced from his job at the university. Today, she's feeling satisfied about how UCLA has handled her case and reassured by its procedures for addressing sexual harassment. She wasn’t always so happy. Her first experience with UCLA's Title IX office was a disaster, she says, an experience that's all too typical of the erratic ways in which American colleges and universities adjudicate sexual misconduct. Universities can, and must, do better. More recently, UCLA has changed its procedures in order to support people like victims, proving that it's possible to hold predators accountable."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Break up Sinclair

Boycotts are fine, but we need trust busting in the 21st century.
Boycotts are fine, but threats to democracy like the one posed by Sinclair require more than collective consumer action. What we need, instead, is to elect politicians who will implement regulations intended to break up media and other corporate monopolies. As we head toward the 2018 elections in this new age of inequality, it's time for good, old-fashioned trust-busting.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Deaf President Now at 30 Years

I wrote about one of the great Civil Rights acts in US History, the "Deaf President Now" protests at Gallaudet University. Read more
"Deaf President Now is an American story. It's not my story, or only the Deaf community's story, or Gallaudet's story, but an American Civil Rights story. It needs to be told in every school." - Birgitta Bourne-Firl

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why So Much Credulity About Vikings?

In the last year or two we've had numerous "oooh Vikings!" news stories hit national and international media, all of which have eroded when looked at closely by experts. There was the Viking women warrior (DNA PROVES VIKING WARRIOR WAS A WOMAN!) which turned out to be, yes, a woman, but unclear evidence of being a warrior one way or another.  No relevant historians were consulted.

We had the VIKING SILK SAYS ALLAH! which then turned out not to say Allah according to actual textile experts who were not consulted.

Now we have VIKINGS USED CRYSTALS TO NAVIGATE! See above - they didn't seem to read the sources.

We want the Vikings to be so much more than the evidence permits. The evidence is wonderful. Let them just be that.

More to come, I think, as I flesh this out over the next week.