Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

New Open Post: Book Review - The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi. "Fun, raunchy, convoluted, and extremely well paced. It delivers satisfying payoffs for the setups in the previous book, and has a few surprise reveals at the end." (On Patreon, but open to all)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Debunking D'Souza with Kevin Kruse

I interviewed Princeton Historian Kevin Kruse about the role of the historian in this era of viral lies.
D: D'Souza clearly isn't interested in facts, so what kind of effect do you think you can have?
K: I'm under no illusion that I'm going to get him off Twitter. He's got a very profitable con—I assume it's a con. I do it for people on the sidelines, [for] people who aren't already his fans but are confronted with people pushing his work directly or his arguments indirectly. It's a way to serve as counterbalance. 
D: Are you worried that you're just giving him more oxygen?
K: Both D'Souza and Trump have a much bigger audience than I have. The millions of people who follow them are already going to see [their tweets]. It's important to not just let them go unchallenged. D'Souza's schtick was to say that no historians ever objected to what [he says]. So our lack of fact-checking was taken as at least our tacit approval. If we don't speak up and challenge these untruths, then they have the floor.
Historians have the same kind of duty that scientists have to climate change deniers, that doctors have to anti-vaccine folks.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ramps Are Beautiful; Ableism is Not

Horrible people in Chicago attempt to use zoning rules to stop parents trying to build a ramp for their disabled child. Their reason - ramps are too ugly.
Steve Weiss, president of the Old Town Triangle Association, wrote a letter to Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), detailing his objections to the project.

“I understand that the people who purchased the house have a child that requires special needs,” he wrote. “What I don’t understand is why they chose to buy a house in a Landmark Zone when you have these needs. I don’t mean to be heartless or uncaring but this is not the neighborhood for that. Here you conform to the rules, not the other way around.”

The garage would ruin one of the most beautiful, and historic, lines of Victorian homes in Chicago, and the family knew they would be subject to the landmark district’s rules, he wrote.

“Now I’m feeling bad like they are shaming us because we are not willing to allow them this garage which they need for their child,” Weiss wrote. “They should have put their child’s needs first and moved to a neighborhood more conducive to her needs.”
Disabled people, according to Weiss, aren't allowed in historic districts.  Weiss, the worst person in Chicago (on this day) had more to say. From the article:
Weiss went on to write if the zoning board approved the plans for the renovation, he would soon follow with construction plans of his own. It’s a slippery slope when you start allowing homeowners to make certain renovations within historic districts, he argued.

“Do not approve this request to have a garage built,” he wrote. “If you do, I will have my lawyers contact you immediately about building my garage and my friends across the street will do the same. Then we’re like Wells Street and no longer a historic district. It’s game over for preservation!!!”
Well that's a charmer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cooking for my Mom

"These are the ingredients of a memory that’s neither eulogy nor miracle. Stock, wine, garlic, onion and fat. Heat, cancer, childhood, sorrow and love. I wish I could cook for her again."

Today in The Washington Post.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Biscuits!

I'm still figuring out the relationship between my blog and posts on my patreon site. My wife and I are so grateful for all the love and financial help in this difficult moment, so she wrote up her biscuit recipe. It's amazing (she's a pro). Happy eating. Post open to all (but if you had 2$ a month to spare to support my writing and her recipe development, we'd be grateful).

Friday, November 16, 2018

HQ2 Shows Whats Possible

Whenever I argue about universal healthcare, building a robust safety net, fully empowering people with disabilities to live lives based on maximum autonomy, or otherwise articulate a vision in which government alleviates suffering, I get one answer - oh yeah! How are we gonna pay for it!

But the obscene spectacle of governments competing for Amazon's second headquarters shows what's possible when leaders feel the payoff is worth it and the political price for not competing would be too high.

Now just imagine those resources were expended on making life better for people who need help, rather than building infrastructure to enforce income inequality.

A man can dream. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

50 (white) Mums and 50 (white) kids with Down syndrome

This is a very pretty and hyper viral (4 million views) PSA of UK mothers and their kids with Down syndrome. It's cute. It was well crafted for virality. But there's one big problem ....




... all of the kids present as white.

I don't know the racial demographics of Down syndrome in the UK (anyone have those). The UK is about 80% "white." Down syndrome appears in all ethnicities, so it's likely that at least 20% of the people with Down syndrome in the UK are not white. These mums all met online, so what we have here is an example of racial stratification in the UK Down syndrome community. That's true in the US, too, of course, where white parents dominate the fundraising and messaging around Down syndrome. It's made the global image of Down syndrome into a cute while child. That's just got to change.

The stakes, in fact, are life and death. Black people with Down syndrome die much earlier than white people.
There's nothing wrong with this video. It's cute. But if you're going to feature 50 families, think about diversity and representation.

(Note: I have a new patreon. You can support my work here.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Joe Biden Gives George W. Bush A Medal

For Veteran's Day, Joe Biden gave a "liberty medal" to George W. Bush. He said nice things about being "the opposition, not the enemy."

George W. Bush is directly responsible for the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of U.S. troops and perhaps as many as a million Iraqis, the loss of trillions of dollars, the corrupt dealings with profiteers like Halliburton and Blackwater, and the lack of support for soldiers with PTSD leading to a massive suicide crisis. And oh yes, he also put on a flight suit. "Mission accomplished," I guess.

There are plenty of other things to argue about regarding W.'s legacy, but when it comes to war and veterans, he surely deserves no praise.

So what is Biden, who wants to be president, doing? I assume that he believes his own message, but also believes that Democratic primary voters will reward centrism, reward outreach to perceived moderate Republican voters and draw a line between W. and Trump.

I, a Democratic primary voter, disagree. As I said in the Twitter thread, W. is a better person than Trump in terms of personal characteristics, and by the time Trump is out of office he may do much more damage than W., but that hasn't happened yet.

(Note: I have a new patreon. You can support my work here.)