Monday, October 15, 2018

Hutch for Sheriff

New at Pacific Standard:

Hutchinson wants to show respect toward groups that feel excluded and bring them into the conversation. "I agree that black lives matter," he says. "They [community groups including BLM] deserve a voice and deserve to be heard."
If elected, Hutchinson may have one advantage when it comes to drawing in the diverse groups that make up Hennepin County: his own identity as a gay man. He doesn't fold his sexuality into his pitch, which remains focused on policing and basic issues of justice—but he also doesn't hide it. He mentions his husband, Justin, within the first few minutes of our conversation, and when I ask him later about the impact of his sexuality on his politics, he grows reflective. "I understand what it's like to be not in the majority," but he adds he has also learned that people turn out to be pretty accepting of differences, once they get to know you. "I was outed a few years ago when [someone] sent pictures of Justin and I getting married to all these old cops. Everyone was completely cool. Most cops are great people who don't give a crap as long as you do your job."
"As sheriff it shouldn't matter. It will matter to some," he admits, but the core issue for him is that he has learned to treat everyone the same. As Hutchinson says, "If you're a person in Hennepin County, you shouldn't be treated any differently because of who you love, what you look like, where you're born, who you pray to, whether you have disabilities or not. Hennepin County, we're a community. We're better together"

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Interview - Bruce Schneier and the Internet that Wants to Kill Us All!

NEW AT PACIFIC STANDARD!
Is the problem that corporations want to sell the data generated from devices like an e-toothbrush? 
In computer security, we have something called the CIA triad: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Most of what we worry about with data is confidentiality. That's the Equifax hack, or the Office of Personnel Management hack, or Cambridge Analytica. Someone has my data and they're misusing it in some way.
[Click Here to Kill Everybody] is primarily about integrity and availability, which matter much more when you have physically capable computers. Yes, I'm worried that someone will hack the hospital and see my private medical records, but I'm much more concerned if they change my blood type. That's an integrity attack. I'm afraid that someone will hack my car and turn on the microphone, but I'm much more scared that they'll disable the brakes. That's an availability attack.
And in the hospital they'll eventually have, if they don't already, Internet-connected IVs where a hacker could turn up the morphine?

That's right. When computers can affect the world in a direct physical manner, the integrity and availability threats are much worse than the confidentiality threats because they affect life and property. The obvious examples are always cars and the power grid, but there are many others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Interview - Maysoon Zayid

I talked to the comedian Maysoon Zayid about her new ABC Comedy Can Can.
Is this a comedy about identity? About your identities as a disabled Muslim woman? Is it political?
Being Palestinian is inherently political, [but] it's funny first—really, really funny. I am super excited to see what I didn't see [on TV as a kid]. It's so rare we see a disabled person [who is] also a person of color; so rare we see an empowered Muslim woman, or a Jersey girl with style.
The story is just a single woman working on career, relationships, and family. She's single, Muslim, lives in Jersey. She has guys fighting over her, but her dating problems have nothing to do with disability. She just has very bad judgment.
The story I open the interview with about how we met is true. You can read about it here.

Friday, October 5, 2018

My Brain


I wrote about my brain for Pacific Standard, with gratitude for the people who have cared for me. You're not alone either. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hurricane Maria and the Human Choices that Kill

On February 2nd, 2018, AnĂ­bal Dones Flores, 54, woke up in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, with an asthma attack. It was almost half a year after Hurricane Maria had savaged the island, but Flores still didn't have power in his house. His condition grew worse as he labored to awaken his brother, hoping his brother could turn on the generator to power Flores' breathing machine. The brother called 911, but the dispatchers sent an ambulance from neighboring Juncos, rather than one from San Lorenzo itself. By the time the EMTs arrived, Flores had died.
Flores is one of the thousands killed as a result of Hurricane Maria, a disaster still claiming lives even today, thanks to the severity of the storm, the long neglect of the island's infrastructure, and, arguably, a willful disinterest from federal disaster officials. The story of his death, along with the deaths of about 475 other Puerto Ricans, was collected through a collaboration between Quartz, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Associated Press. The project came online even as President Donald Trump was falsely claiming that over 3,000 people didn't die in the disaster and subsequent response, arguing that he and his administration had done a "fantastic job" supporting the island.

The grim narratives in the project reveal just how badly relief efforts have failed, how long the road is to recovery, and, as we have regularly reported at Pacific Standard over the last year, how disaster recovery will continue to fail if it doesn't prioritize access for disabled people who are in harm's way. Instead, even when disaster services are robust, disabled people routinely get ignored or abandoned. In Puerto Rico, where federal efforts fell so short, story after story reveals the extent of preventable deaths in the wake of the hurricane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Norm Macdonald and Dehumanizing Intellectual Disability

Macdonald used the clinical term, Down syndrome, as an attempt to maintain his ability to make de facto "retard jokes"and use intellectual disability as a comedic punching bag without coming under criticism for doing so. In the aftermath of the Stern snafu, Macdonald's defenders on social media claimed the criticism levied against him for mocking intellectual disability was just another instance of oversensitivity. But the issue runs much deeper than questions of casual offense; Macdonald was implying that people with Down syndrome were subhuman and incapable of higher emotions.
This kind of dehumanization of people with Down syndrome and similar disabilities has an ugly history in the United States and around the world. It's a history that has led to sterilization, incarceration, institutionalization, and untimely death, with these horrific outcomes often linked to misconceptions about the full humanity of disabled people.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Donald Trump and the R-word

Donald Trump called Jeff Sessions "mentally retarded." Does it matter?

Maybe. Kinda. Yeah.
"Bad words are the least of the problems for disabled Americans, their families, and their communities, coming out of Washington under Trump. People with disabilities who engage in policy and politics remain angry and worried about many aims of the Trump administration, as they have been since he began his campaign. The most serious threats come not from Trump's personal character flaws and instincts to belittle, but rather from core issues of Republican ideology. The GOP has attempted to defund Medicaid, an effort stopped largely by the efforts of disabled activists. Republicans then repealed the individual mandate in their 2017 tax bill, potentially spurring rising health-care costs for the people who most depend on access to medicine. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education rolled back protections for students in special education and has supported increasingly permissive standards for special education vouchers. Alas, when parents take disabled children to private schools, they surrender many of their child's hard-won civil rights under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. While it's true that 12 Democratic representatives voted in support of H.R. 620, a bill that guts core commercial protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a whopping 213 Republicans backed the measure. Sessions, the very target of Trump's ableist language in Woodward's book, rolled back key protections for disabled workers last year. While some of these moves came from Trump's cabinet and others from the GOP-controlled Congress, all are fully in line with decades of Republican policy positions."

Thursday, August 23, 2018

It's Ok to Study History!

From the article: 
This may seem like a roundabout way to present the conventional wisdom that stem majors are the only safe bet in the modern economy, and the humanities are dying out because kids no longer have the luxury of a useless major. But there’s an extremely important caveat: Students aren’t fleeing degrees with poor job prospects. They’re fleeing humanities and related fields, specifically, because they think they have poor job prospects. If the whole story were a market response to student debt and the Great Recession, students would have read the 2011 census report numbering psychology and communications among the fields with the lowest median earnings and fled from them. Or they would have noticed that biology majors make less than the average college graduate, and favored the physical sciences. Most 18-year-olds are not econometricians, and those that are were probably going to major in economics anyway. The census has been asking about college majors for almost a decade now and aside from a few obvious points—engineers make more money than journalists—the results are most surprising for how trivial the differences between most majors turn out to be.
Read it all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kalamazoo and the Future of Medieval Studies

A statement from Seeta Chaganti on #kzoo2018 and #kzoo2019 and the future of medieval studies. On the Medievalists of Color blog -

A few thoughts:

While I do not for see a future in which I go back to this conference for many reasons, I remain deeply concerned with the future of my field. Over the past few weeks, as most of you know, Yiannopoulos used an online donation to send Nazi iconography to a Jewish journalist and urged violence against journalists. It is of course complicated. But siding with protection of vulnerable faculty, siding against the Nazi iconographer and inciter of violence, is a low low bar. I know where I stand.

Medieval organizations continue not to take seriously the threat of a medievalist allying with him.

The future of medieval studies is not set. It’s worth working for.