Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Accountability Post #15

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 702

Chapter word count: 4945
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 15016
Total goal: 70000

Just barely keeping to my 1000 words a writing day goal. It's good. Onward to finish most of chapter 2 tomorrow, I hope. 

Schizophrenia "unlocked."

I am basically opposed to puzzle narratives/metaphor when it comes to disability. I think it suggests that things are broken or disordered, and that it's possible to snap everything into shape and make it nice and neurotypical.

On the other hand, the new research into Schizophrenia is pretty interesting. Summary here. Original here behind paywall.
For the first time, scientists have pinned down a molecular process in the brain that helps to trigger schizophrenia. The researchers involved in the landmark study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, say the discovery of this new genetic pathway probably reveals what goes wrong neurologically in a young person diagnosed with the devastating disorder.
More interesting to me was October's findings on the efficacy of early intervention, rather than waiting for crisis, when it comes to Schizophrenia. From HuffPost Highline

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Accountability Post #14

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 708

Chapter word count: 4243
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 14314
Total goal: 70000

I lost a week teaching, doing my administrative job, and then writing some other pieces. I will have to figure out better book focus as I go forward. But I'm back writing now.

CIT Training in Chicago

A relatively new piece by Mother Jones examines the current state of Crisis Intervention Team training for police in Chicago. As regular readers know, I think CIT training is fine but limited in its utility. It gives officers resources to apply to situations involving certain kinds of disability in crisis mode, but does little to prevent crises or shift police culture.

Still, we ought to have the training available. Apparently there will be over 900 officers trained this year. Will it help?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Resource Post: The Arc of Texas job advertisements

UPDATE: The Arc of Texas has changed their job requirements to remove "physical and mental requirements" entirely from the list. 

UPDATE 1/29/16
- Please see Kyle Piccola's comment from The Arc of Texas in the comment thread. Archived at the bottom of the thread for record-keeping purposes.

Original Post Below

As of January 15, The Arc of Texas was hiring a CEO and State Advocacy Coordinator.

You can see their job ads here. I have put screenshots at the bottom as of 1/27/16 in case they change them. Update: I cut/pasted the full text of the ads for better accessibility as well.

Each job has a list of physical and mental requirements. I have put in a call to The Arc for comment and will be writing more when I get it.

Physical and Mental Requirements: 
  • Seeing
  • Hearing/Listening
  • Clear speech
  • Ability to move distances between offices and workspaces
  • Driving
Advocacy Coordinator

Physical and Mental Requirements: 
  • Seeing
  • Hearing/Listening
  • Clear speech
  • Touching :dexterity hand and finger
  • Ability to move distances between offices and workspaces
  • Minor pushing and pulling
  • Lifting up to 25 lbs.
  • Carrying up to 25 lbs
  • Driving

Cut and paste of the text for accessibility reasons below:


The Arc Of Texas Employment Opportunities

Chief Executive Officer

Organizational Unit: State Office
FSLA Classification:  Exempt
Reports To: The Arc of Texas Board of Directors
Job Summary: The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for the successful leadership and management of The Arc of Texas according to the guiding principles of the organization and the strategic direction set by the Board of Directors.  Specifically, the CEO will ensure that the organization’s fiscal, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resource, technology, and programmatic strategies are effectively implemented.

Duties and Responsibilities:
  1. Work with the Board of Directors in developing and refining the vision and strategic plan for the organization.
  2. Develop an operational plan incorporating goals and objectives that work toward the strategic direction of the organization. Ensure programs and services offered by the organization contribute to the organization's mission and reflect the priorities of the Board.
  3. Formulate and execute comprehensive marketing, branding and development strategies that will ensure consistency throughout the organization and enhance revenue from major donors, foundations, government agencies, and corporations.
  4. Work with the Board and staff to prepare a comprehensive budget.  Oversee the financial status of the organization including developing long and short range financial plans, monitoring the budget and ensuring sound financial controls are in place; set financial priorities accurately.
  5. Manage the efficient and effective day-to-day operation of the organization; ensure the delivery of high quality services while managing for current and future growth.
  6. Facilitate cross-departmental collaboration with staff throughout the organization; create and promote a positive, multicultural work environment that supports consistency throughout the organization.
  7. Act as a spokesperson for the organization, represent The Arc of Texas at meetings and functions with representatives from agencies, the Legislature, and other organizations.
  8. Review existing policies and procedures at least annually and recommend changes to the Board as needed.
  9. Oversee research and development of funding sources, the development of fund raising plans and proposals.
  10. Establish good working relationships and collaborative arrangements with self-advocates, local chapters, community groups, funders, elected officials, and other organizations to help achieve the goals of the organization.
  1. Lead, manage, and operate a multi-million dollar organization, preferably with volunteer membership and elected Board.
  2. Delegate complex tasks to staff and supervise the timely and successful completion of those tasks.
  3. Recruit, hire, evaluate, mentor and retain a high performance team, and terminate when necessary.
  4. Represent a statewide advocacy organization in its mission, including knowledge of the legislative process and the issues.
  5. Work with volunteers on the Board of Directors within the boundaries of the governance and management relationship, and respect those boundaries.
  6. Work with stakeholders in the organization’s mission and plans, specifically including self-advocates and families, chapters, disability advocacy organizations and community groups.
  7. Understand and operate a business as a manager, specifically including business planning, budgets, revenues and expenses, and prioritizing the use of revenues and resources.
  8. Reflect nonprofit law and rules, including IRS rules for nonprofits.
  9. Reflect business and charitable donation development, including fundraising methods and sources, and accountability to grant makers and donors under contracts or conditions in grants and donations.
Educational Requirements: 
 Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree preferred. Five or more years of executive leadership experience in a for-profit, non-profit, or public sector organization.
Physical and Mental Requirements: 
  • Seeing
  • Hearing/Listening
  • Clear speech
  • Ability to move distances between offices and workspaces
  • Driving
  • $125,000 - $140,000 depending on experience. 
  • Health insurance coverage 100% paid for by employer
To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to The Arc of texas Board of Directors at by March 31st, 2016

State Advocacy Coordinator 

Job Title:    State Advocacy Coordinator    
Organizational Unit: State Office, Governmental Affairs Department
FSLA Classification:  Exempt
Reports To: Director of Government Affairs
Job Summary: The State Advocacy Coordinator provides support to, organizes and empowers Local Arc Chapters, Self-Advocate Chapters, families, allies and other stakeholders to facilitate their involvement in public policy advocacy at the local, state and federal levels and ensures timely and effective communication with Local Chapters and other stakeholders about policy issues.  
At the direction of the Director of Governmental Affairs and the Government Affairs Committee, the Coordinator represents The Arc of Texas on issues related to The Arc of Texas policy priorities, and assists with monitoring disability policy discussions of legislative committees, state agency boards, advisory committees and workgroups and represents The Arc of Texas on agency workgroups and stakeholder committees.
The Coordinator reports to the Director of Governmental Affairs.
Duties and Responsibilities
A. Provide support to, organize and empower Local Arc Chapters, Self-Advocate Chapters, families, allies and other stakeholders to facilitate their involvement in public policy advocacy at the local, state and federal levels. 
  1. Develop and maintain effective working relationships and communication with Local Arc Chapters, Self-Advocate Chapters, families, allies and other stakeholders.
  2. Develop and manage grassroots campaigns to advance our public policy priorities.
  3. Recruit, train and provide support to facilitate effective participation in the disability rights movement from self-advocates and their families.
  4. Organize “Capitol Days”, other visits to the State Capitol, State Agencies, or local/regional policy related activities.
  5. Support volunteers to attend and have meaningful participation at the Texas Legislature, state agency boards, various state agency task forces, work groups and committees.
B. Act as a liaison between The Arc of Texas, the GA Committee, Local Chapters and other stakeholders about policy issues.
  1. Conduct in-person trainings/meeting, webinars, phone calls, social media and targeted email marketing to advocates across Texas.
  2. Facilitate communication between grassroots stakeholders, The Arc of Texas staff, GA Committee members and The Arc of Texas Board in a timely manner. 
  3. Utilize the latest available developments in technology to communicate The Arc of Texas message to internal and external stakeholders (for example, “action alerts” and other campaigns).
  4. Networks with allied organizations and coalitions to promote collaborative relationships on issues related to The Arc’s policy priorities. 
  5. When necessary, provide testimony in support of the positions of The Arc of Texas at hearings and meetings.
Educational Requirements: 
Minimum of bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Nonprofit management, Education, Human Services or a related field from a recognized college or university and at least three years of progressively responsible positions in disability advocacy.
  1. Ability to work independently and interactively, to handle multiple priorities and to be productive under stress.
  2. Experience implementing direct action organizing campaigns.
  3. Knowledge of programs, services, rights and benefits available to persons with disabilities.
  4. Ability to effectively communicate with parents and advocates on behalf of their sons, daughters and others with intellectual developmental disabilities.
  5. Ability to effectively communicate with self-advocates with intellectual disabilities to have a voice in the policies and laws that are made on their behalf.   
  6. Knowledge of legislative and administrative processes impacting the development of public policy.
  7. Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills.
  8. Networking, organizing and coalition-building skills.
  9. Passionate about The Arc of Texas mission and the individuals we serve.
Physical and Mental Requirements: 
  • Seeing
  • Hearing/Listening
  • Clear speech
  • Touching :dexterity hand and finger
  • Ability to move distances between offices and workspaces
  • Minor pushing and pulling
  • Lifting up to 25 lbs.
  • Carrying up to 25 lbs
  • Driving

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Kyle Piccola at by Friday, January 15 at Noon

UPDATE 1/29/16 - Please see Kyle Piccola's comment in the comment thread. Archived here for record-keeping purposes.

Getting Called Out Is a Good Thing
The Arc of Texas would like to offer an open and sincere thank you to you and to others who brought to our attention a job posting that was not inclusive to people with disabilities. As much as it hurts to be wrong, we know because of this experience that we will come out a stronger organization.
As advocates, we tirelessly work to right the wrongs in our world and hope to make our communities a better place. By default, it’s in our nature to land on the right side of history. That is why it was devastating to get called out for not being inclusive and promoting practices that excluded others. We have looked into how this happened, and have learned that the job requirements that were wrongfully included in our postings were left over from when we employed drivers for our household recycling program. The CEO job description that was recently approved by our Board of Directors did not include the exclusionary language as shown in the job posting.
Thankfully, being perfect isn’t a requirement to be an advocate, but owning your missteps and using them to promote progress is. That is why we have fixed the mistake and are working internally and with coalition partners to ensure it will never happen again.
It is our responsibility to hold each other to high standards and encourage nothing less than the best of everyone. The Arc of Texas’ mission is to promote, protect and advocate for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we are committed to being the best we can be.
We look forward to working alongside other advocates in the disability community to address the barriers to independence, community participation and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Texas.
Achieve with us,
The Arc of Texas

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Testimony for Missouri Senate - SB 802

It's my understanding that the head of NARAL - Missouri will read this Testimony at a Senate Hearing for SB 802, a bill that make it illegal to have an abortion after a pre-natal diagnosis.

My testimony:

I am the father of a boy with Down syndrome and am opposed to SB 802. This bill will not lower rates of abortion following a pre-natal diagnosis nor will it help people with Down syndrome.
1) The best way to prevent abortions after a prenatal diagnosis is to make the words "Down syndrome" less scary. These bills will make it harder, even criminal, to talk about Down syndrome and abortion.

2) The Down syndrome community broadly supports non-partisan pro-information legislation. We want parents who get a diagnosis to get the best possible information. Criminalizing abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis will just make it harder to talk about these issues. Missouri passed a pro-information bill in 2007 (L. 2007 H.B. 818 § 191.912). It should fully fund that bill.

3) Every day people with Down syndrome are exceeding the boundaries of what we thought possible in education, jobs, personal lives, and contributions to the community. All efforts should be focused on telling these stories and bringing these opportunities to more people. 
4) We know that many women terminate pregnancies after a prenatal diagnosis because they believe they cannot afford to raise a child with Down syndrome. The best way to change that is to better fund special education, healthcare, respite care, and all the other support services that our community needs.

Sanders speaks on Mental Health Crisis

From last night's Town Hall.
SANDERS: I get calls - I have gotten calls in my office, and I'm sure other senators have as well. This is the call. Somebody calls us up and said, I'm very worried about my brother. I'm worried what he might do to himself or, to answer your question, to somebody else. He may be homicidal. He may be suicidal.

We have searched desperately to find health care - mental health treatment for him. We cannot find mental health treatment which is affordable, which is accessible.

In my view, we have got to move in the direction of making sure that everybody in this country who has a mental health crisis gets health care when they need it, not two months from today.
This is a pretty good answer, as politicians go. He didn't blame mental health for gun violence. He did talk about accessibility.

The better answer is - we need to make sure care is accessible for people long BEFORE they go into crisis. That's not happening currently (see my pieces here and here).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Michael Marshall - Homeless, Disabled, Black, In Custody, Dead from Prone Restraint

Michael Marshall is the latest victim of the Cult Of Compliance.

Last November Marshall, who had schizophrenia, was placed into prone restraint and died, choking on his own vomit. This piece discusses the technique and links it to the death of Ethan Saylor and Eric Garner.

Notice how the DA places blame for Marshall's death on his disability.
Denver officials on Friday released surveillance footage of deputies' encounter with Michael Marshall, 50, a homeless man who had been jailed for trespassing and died because of "complications of positional asphyxia," according to the medical examiner.
District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said he wouldn't file criminal charges against the six deputies involved, saying multiple factors, including lung and heart disease, also contributed to the death. The deputies' use of force was necessary against the struggling inmate, Morrissey said. 
Intersections: Race, class, disability, the carceral state. The criminalization of homelessness. So much more. It's everything I write about in one horrific, fatal, episode.

And no one is being held accountable.

Here's the video. Obvious trigger warnings apply.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Agent Carter > Born This Way

Born This Way was the new Down syndrome reality show that aired over December and January. I wrote a review of it here as basically fine TV limited by its artificial format.

Here, though, is a really detailed essay on the show including, wonderfully, interviews with self-advocates about watching it. Opinions, of course, vary widely, no one is really upset by the show (nor should be), but not everyone is deeply moved or think it's transformative. Here's my favorite interview.
For this article, Ms. Gehringer asked her son directly about the show and forwarded me the questions and answers.
Q: Would you like to hang out with the gang on “Born This Way?”
A: I don’t know. I don’t know if we like the same things.

Q: What did you think when the gal got upset when she heard the words Down syndrome?
A: It hurts her feelings. I would not say it to her.
Follow Up Q: Does it hurt your feelings when you hear Down syndrome?
A: NO! Why would it hurt my feelings? I’m not the same feelings as her. (Under his breath) Stupid question.

Q: What do you think when the guys were talking about dating?
A: (Very reluctant to talk about this with his mom). I don’t know. That guy should respect boundaries.

Q: I thought I heard you commenting about the one guy getting to live in his own place. What did you think about that?
A: I want a house with a yard for my dog.

Q: Do you want to watch more of this show?
A: No. “Agent Carter” is coming back on.

“So there you have it,” said Ms. Gehringer. “Apparently he was much more unimpressed than I thought.”
Hey, Agent Carter is back. Last year, a lot of people criticized the show for its relentlessly white cast (other than a jazz club owner), when New York in the 40s was a diverse city. I think the producers heard, as episode 1 engages directly with racism and segregation and had a handsome black male lead who (spoiler!) Peggy kisses.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Disability and Diversity: #OscarsSoWhite and Idris Elba

So the Oscars only nominated white actors for all the top awards. This isn't a new problem. In response, the Academy's president has released a statement, reading in part [my emphasis]:
We need to do more, and better and more quickly.
This isn't unprecedented for the Academy. In the '60s and '70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.
I want you to notice that disability isn't even a part of the aspirational diversity of the Oscars, let
Description: Elba smiling and holding a
small white puppy.
There are shoes in the background?
alone celebrating real disability.  Last year, Eddie Redmayne was awarded Best Actor for playing Stephen Hawking, a disabled person, even though he's fully able bodied. Playing crip is a great way to get attention, but is not the same as diversity.

There's hope. Idris Elba spoke to Parliament about diversity and consistently mentioned disability. Here's the full transcript, and the key quote:
Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin colour.

- it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and - most important of all, as far as I’m concerned – diversity of thought.

Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV & film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned.
Please send that message to the Academy, should they should ever bother to nominate you (also stop wasting your time as Heimdall, but that's a separate conversation).

Update note: I'm not saying ALL conversations about diversity need to include ALL aspects of diversity. There are lots of moments to discuss just race, or just sexuality, or just ethnicity, or just disability, or anything! But if you are going to release a big aspirational list and you leave out disability, it's very telling.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grab Your Balls and The Problem with Blind Peer Review

Men's Rights Activists are a particular strain of misogynist who couch their hatred of women in appropriating a language of victimhood. As an avowed feminist, I have encountered them many times, including when I put a defense of feminism on a website haunted by MRAs, and hung around in the comments for a few days learning about their discourse.

My general summary is this - to the extent MRAs have identified real problems with the treatment of men in western society, the answer is always (as Amanda Marcotte says), more feminism. Patriarchy does oppress men, if not in the same way as it does women, and the only way out of that is through taking apart the patriarchy, feminism's avowed goal. I'm glad that's settled.

Last week, a medievalist went to Allen Frantzen's website to check some references and discovered a section called "New! Writing on Men and Masculinity!" Frantzen is now retired from a long career at Loyola University - Chicago, but remains an extremely important scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature. He is a pioneer of queer and gender studies of Beowulf and has strongly influenced how scholars engage this most critical text in the history of the English language.

His writing on Men and Masculinity is full-blown MRA misogynistic hate, combining the absurd and the vile. This is a donotlink to a page on "how to fight your way out of the Feminist Fog. Step one - Grab Your Balls! (GYB)" No, that's really the quote. Hashtags have included #GYB and #FemFog

Everything on the site is standard MRA material, quoting the red pill/blue pill of  MRA discourse, which is almost disappointing. I'd actually be interested, in a horror-show sort of way, to see what a brilliant theorist could do with MRA ideology. But since there's no meat to the ideology, even this great mind is reduced to nonsense.

Here are four several pieces that have covered it well. After that, I'll argue that blind peer review has to go. It's a vehicle for bias-replication, and always has been.

[Update: I have been criticized, appropriately, for not quoting any Anglo-Saxonist female scholars. I am adding content. PLEASE let me know what else I'm missing. I so appreciate criticism.]

Peter Buchanan sums up the stakes for Anglo-Saxon scholars:
It is distressing for young, theory-savvy Anglo-Saxonists to see Allen Frantzen behaving like a reactionary crank because we are conscious of the fact that our field has room for us because Frantzen was one of the people who fought for our place in the field in the 90s. We’ve read his Desire for Origins and Before the Closet, and assigned chapters from them to our students. For that matter, my theory class this semester is reading a chapter from Desire for Origins. It is doubly distressing because while Frantzen has a big name in Anglo-Saxon studies, he is not necessarily well-known outside of it (unless you study same-sex desire), and so we see our late-medieval colleagues dismissing his toxicity without any awareness of how important he was/is to the field. Frantzen has also been one of the most influential trainers of Anglo-Saxonists, people who are doing/have done exciting work on gender (Mary Dockray-Miller), digital humanities (Martin Foys), and ethnicity (Stephen Harris).
Of course, this trajectory didn’t come out of nowhere, and if it has become especially toxic in recent years, there were hints of it much earlier.
[Updated material. 11 AM 1/20)] On Facebook, and quoted with permission, Eileen Joy has offered many important comments on her experience with Frantzen in particular and with misogyny and sexism in her field in particular. She writes:
I have written so many op-eds, so many manifestos, and so many essays envisioning these different universities, and I now realize that they were all drafted in the furnace of my rage and despair over how the field of Anglo-Saxon studies has been content to construct itself: scornful of other medievalists who aren't "them," scornful and dismissive of junior scholars who are not yet established or did not go to the right schools or study with the right persons, misogynist and homophobic (while also worshipping masculinity), elitist, conservative, and just plan mean.
From there she talks about persistent sexual predation and abuse within the field.[/update]

Over at The Syllabub, we get much needed laughter, where the author is just "dipping into the #femfog tweets and laughing." She then explains why mockery matters to her as much as cogent debate:
Academia is part of society, and society is structurally sexist. Which means most of us are going to come up against the misogyny in our careers in lots of horrible and awful ways. I don't have enough resources (emotional or mental) to engage with every incident of misogyny with the same vehement refusal, argument and debate.
So, alongside debate, we have mockery. And each person who contributes to the #femfog (whether with a joke, a meme, or with condemnation) is signalling that Frantzen's rhetoric is not part of the future of the academy.
Lavinia Collins writes about the underlying issue in both the FemFog post and much MRA rhetoric:
The crux of my objection to this post is that, despite claiming to be about equality, politics and freedom, it’s actually about sex. How do you get women to have sex with you without having to go to the trouble of pretending you view them as equals? Franzten suggests it is by grabbing your balls and using data.
Jeffrey J. Cohen talks about shaming:
We should be cautious about public shaming and bandwagonning, of course, but if you as a senior and respected member of my field of study are going to fill a website with hatred against women and inveigh against feminism -- the very movement that has made the field as I know and love it possible -- and if you are going to directly link your website full of verbal violence against women to a list of your scholarship that makes it clear that these are not two separate things, but that you are relying on the cachet of the latter to make the former seem learned or compelling, well then you deserve to be shamed publicly, because you are an embarrassment to the field.
There are three posts at In the Middle. Cohen on calling out misogyny. Karl Steel on medieval "whiteness." Dorothy Kim on "Antifeminism, Whiteness, and Medieval Studies." Jonathan Hsy wrote a pragmatic, and much needed, post about "lessons learned" from the #femfog episode.

Please add additional links in the comments.

[update 11:00 AM 1/20]
A number of people have linked to this statement by a group of senior Anglo-Saxonists. I'd like more information on its origins and whether any names have been made public.
Old English Literature and Anglo-Saxon Studies: By far the majority of contemporary scholars in the field of Anglo-Saxon Studies and especially Old English strive to be professional, respectful, generous, equitable and welcoming to all others, irrespective of identity, including but not limited to, gender, sexuality, race, or age. The field does not belong to any one scholar, or to any one approach, or to any single authority. It is the duty of every generation of scholars in Old English to promote our subject and make the field a better, kinder and more desirable place in which to work for all succeeding generations. [/update]

To me, revelations like this need not be surprising. We know that bigots of all sorts permeate academia, because bigots permeate society. Academia runs into trouble when it constructs itself as better than society. If the #femfog helps medievalists believe their colleagues when they discuss misogyny, homophobia, classism, ableism, and so much more, instead of dismissing such concerns as overblown, I'll be pleased.

Here's one question among many:

How many times has Frantzten, a giant in his field, been asked to review feminist readings of Anglo-Saxon literature, and been given power over the career of someone whose views he deeply hates? What do we do about it? When think about Frantzen as an outlier only because he made his bigotry public, doesn't that push us to rethink systems of peer review that conceal the reviewer's identity?

We need to re-invent our prestige systems from so many directions. Re-imagining peer review in order to protect against bias needs to be part of that process. Personally, I like removing the anonymity. Yes, sometimes that will mean people will be too nice, but I'd rather err in that direction.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Accountability Post #13

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 1223

Chapter word count: 3535
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 13606
Total goal: 70000

Chapter is well structured now. Other deadlines loom for a few days so no intention to work on the book. We'll see.

The Age of Prostheses

Last week I blogged about Candida Moss' piece on relics and commerce. She's got another piece out, this one on historical prosthetic limbs.
Excavations of an ancient tomb near Turpan, China, have uncovered the 2,200-year-old remains of a man buried with a hoof-tipped prosthetic limb. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Chinese Archeology, researchers wrote that the man’s natural leg had become deformed so that the bones were fused together at an angle of 80 degrees and could not be straightened. The unusual poplar wood prosthesis allowed the wearer to walk and, perhaps, even ride a horse.
The discovery offers a rare glimpse into the technology of prosthesis in the ancient world. The lack of antibiotics in the pre-modern world meant that numerous infections and accidents resulted in amputation. While as many people died during treatment as did from their initial injury, this meant that many people lived their lives absent a hand, leg, or foot.
Moss goes on to discuss the history of prostheses, discussing functionality versus aesthetic, and concluding with a zoom out into technology broadly, and saying:
There’s no shortage of those of us who say, somewhat flippantly, that we “can’t live” without our phones. The existential angst caused by lost Fitbit steps is not to be underestimated. And there’s an unsettling truth to the memes that rank WiFi and battery life alongside oxygen as a basic need. Ultimately, maybe we live in the age of prostheses.
I really like "age of prostheses." It engages with a couple of other themes I like. The hashtags from Alice Wong (of the Disability Visibility Project) - #TheFutureIsDisabled and #WeAreAllCyborgs. The second, in particular, overlaps nicely with age of prosthesis.

Then there's Sara Hendren's motto - "All technology is assistive technology."

We are accelerating into a world in which some of the definitions of abled and disabled will blur, thanks to technology. This has happened at plenty of other moments in the past. I like to think about walking down a crowded street in the pre-modern world, and the ubiquity of physical features that we would today consider disability or deformity (not a word I like) - missing hands, eyes, noses, ears, pock marks, major scars, and so much more. And yet, as Moss reminds us, aesthetic prosthetic mattered in the past as well, so the ubiquity of the disabled body in no way erased stigma about whole versus part.

Disability studies meets futurism informed by, um, pastism? (let's call it History) might help us navigate the Age of Prostheses.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Accountability Post #12

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 1098

Chapter word count: 2311
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 12383
Total goal: 70000

Mostly wrote on Sandra Bland and edited/expanded earlier sections..

The Chocolate Milk Mustache of the Corporatization of the University

From Vox, Julia Belluz has quite a story.
The University of Maryland issued a press release about a new study on the effects of a single brand of chocolate milk on cognitive and motor skill tests in high school athletes.
The story, as she documents, is that Fifth Quaker Fresh funded research, the scientists did some shoddy research and didn't even bother to submit it for peer review, the university made a splashy press release, and everyone goes home happy. Well, except for Integrity.
So here we have a milk manufacturer working in partnership with the University of Maryland to fund a sloppy study, and the university then blasts the results, persuading schools and the press that this milk works wonders on students' brains.

It's everything wrong with modern-day science-by-press-release in one anecdote.
I see this (as Belluz does too) as a consequence of the university as a profit-center. When said institution is a public university, the science is especially suspect, and the corporate sponsorship especially visible, then it's easy to mock. Most university scientists seem to spend their careers lurching from funding source to funding source, their jobs (and the jobs of their staff) contingent on outside money. It's structural and leads to ... well ... being told that a specific brand of chocolate milk is good for athletes.

Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Accountability Post #11

See here for primer on these posts. Today I drove to UW-Whitewater and gave a workshop on public writing. Then I drove home and skyped to participate in a panel presenting on disability rights and police violence to Berkeley law students. But I knew how Chapter 2 should start, so talked it out voice-to-text as I drove, and edited over the last few hours. 

Daily word count: 1293

Chapter word count: 1293
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 11364
Total goal: 70000

No book work over the weekend. I'm going to finish In a Different Key and then write a review of it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Accountability Post #10

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 811

Chapter word count: 6870
Chapter goal: 8500 but calling it a draft, because reasons.
Total word count: 10071
Total goal: 70000

I think chapter 1 is drafted. I need to add a few paragraphs on Disability Incarcerated, which is a terrific book, and there will be more expansion. Next chapter is on the cult of compliance in policing and is a big meaty one, so saving some words here is probably a good idea.

If I write at all tomorrow, I'll be doing it voice-to-text as I drive a lot. We'll see!

No Accountability in Alabama #CultOfCompliance Case

Sureshbahi Patel was beaten by an Alabama police officer for, as near as I can tell, not speaking English. I like to think of this as akin to other situations in which people do not process verbal commands - whether through hearing loss, not speaking English, ear buds, sensory processing, etc.

The man who beat Patel and sent him to the hospital is not going to be held accountable in Federal court.
Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala just threw out the case against Madison police officer Eric Parker, who faced up to 10 years in prison for excessive force in the sidewalk stop of an Indian citizen.
Judge Haikala late Wednesday filed a 92-page opinion, ending with: "The Government has had two full and fair chances to obtain a conviction; it will not have another."
A team of three federal prosecutors had twice tried Parker last year for the takedown of 57-year-old Sureshbahi Patel on the morning of Feb. 6, 2015. Both trials ended with a deadlocked jury.
Here's Parker's defense:
Parker twice testified that he lost his balance and fell. He also testified that Patel repeatedly jerked his hand away from Parker. "It concerned me that he was going for that weapon I presumed he had," testified Parker.
Patel, who had just arrived from India to help care for his grandson, testified he does not speak English and did not resist. "I did not try to run away but I did go back a couple of steps to show them my house, my house," testified Patel through an interpreter at the second trial. "They put their hands on me and I was just standing and did not move."
There's video. But juries want to believe cops, or want to believe it's ok to beat up non-compliant brown people, or something.

Look at all the maybes - Parker imagined that Patel was going for a weapon that Parker imagined Patel had.  And so put him in the hospital.

Without accountability, there is no peace.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Accountability Post #9

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 1148

Chapter word count: 6059
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 9260
Total goal: 70000

Semester starts tomorrow. May slow me down.

Conflicts Lasting Millennia and the State of the Union

The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. - Barack Obama, State of the Union 2016

I've been thinking about conflicts around the globe. While many of them occur in similar places as conflicts in the past, and while superficially conflicting parties may seem the same as conflicting parties in the past, I can't think of  a single conflict where I'd be comfortable arguing that the roots are at least 2000 years old.

Or really 1000 years old.

I assume he's talking about Sunni-Shia, but maybe Kurd/Arab/Turk, or perhaps Jew-Muslim, and maybe even Christian-Muslim. At any rate, when we make these historical arguments about conflicts rooted in antiquity of some sort, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility while suggesting that they remain intractable.

Vox covered this. So did Buzzfeed. So did pretty much my whole gang of history profs and students on my Twitter feed.

Here's a piece from political science blog The Monkey Cage at Washington Post - Syria isn’t Bosnia. And no, the problem isn’t ‘ancient hatreds.’[my emphasis]
The “ancient hatreds” thesis is the idea that groups of people fight each other because they have always despised one another due to differences of identity and culture. According to this argument, if ancient hatreds drive conflict in Syria like they did in the Balkans, then the solution to Syria’s similarly intractable conflict, Stavridis suggests, should follow the Dayton Accords model, which, he argues, dealt adequately with ethnically divided Balkan populations...

Sadly, the narratives Kaplan and his followers peddled in the 1990s have found an afterlife in today’s discourse on Syria. As a result, the Syrian war, much like the Yugoslav dissolution, has been often painted as a fundamentally intractable, timeless conflict rooted in the primal urges of its respective combatants. This narrative has contributed decisively to a culture of indifference and reluctance among Western leaders to act in any meaningful capacity to aid the people of Syria. Writing off a conflict as based in “ancient hatreds” makes it easy for international actors to excuse their lack of coherent policy, or worse, to offer simplistic solutions.
This is why we need public engagement from intellectuals, to push back on this kind of analysis.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Accountability Post #8

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 1328

Chapter word count: 4911
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 8112
Total goal: 70000

Wrote about Philip Coleman, Laquan McDonald, Quintonio LeGrier, and Betty Jones. Then wrote about Assertive Community Treatment vs the Murphy Bill's priorities. May add a touch on Assistive Outpatient Treatment as coercion tomorrow, before moving on from mental disability for now. 

Relics and Commerce: The Buddha's Tooth

My scholarly work focuses on the movement of relics and the way that movement enables storytelling and cultural creation. Although I write about the 13th century (and the centuries surrounding it), the urge to tell stories about objects, especially objects as they move, is widespread. It's part of the way we solidify, as it were, our past to make it more usable to us in the present.

Here's a great piece on this phenomenon from Candida Moss, a professor at Notre Dame and one of my favorite public intellectuals on religion: Would you buy the Buddha's tooth?
In 2005, more than 60,000 donors poured $45 million and 270kg of gold into the construction of a Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown in Singapore. A relic as precious as a tooth of the Buddha himself demanded lavish accommodations, and people were eager to contribute. According to the official website, the tooth was found by a Buddhist monk in 1980 when he was repairing the remains of a collapsed shrine in Myanmar.
But almost immediately after the temple complex opened in 2007, people began to ask questions. In a series of articles, Lianhe Zaobao pointed out that historical records suggest that there were only two extant teeth of the Buddha and both of those are already accounted for. Moreover, why had no one heard of this discovery?
These are not new problems. But they also aren't old problems relegated to a "dark" or "superstitious" past.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Accountability Post #7

See here for primer on these posts. I did no writing over the weekend. Instead, my son turned 9. Read about it here. I did a few edits on a Hillary Clinton and autism piece.

Daily word count: 1378

Chapter word count: 3583
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 6784
Total goal: 70000

Summarized history of deinstitutionalization in a few paragraphs, talked about the death of "Africa" by the LAPD, and discussed criminalization of homelessness.

Happy Birthday at the Inclusive Brookfield Zoo

Happy birthday to my son, who is 9 today.

Nico throws a "biscuit" over a glass barrier
to a waiting crocodile.
Yesterday we went to the Brookfield Zoo. I've written about the Zoo's true commitment to inclusion here, and will have another piece on them next month in Chicago Special Parent.

We bought a "backstage adventure" package for Nico. He doesn't really like parties, certainly not in typical party places or in his house, so we have generally spent money on doing expensive family things rather than throwing him party. The backstage adventure was at "The Swamp," and we got to see the cages where various beasts live, feed some, and otherwise go behind the scenes.

We prepped the zoo by saying that Nico might be afraid of things you wouldn't predict, and generally gets a little stressed out by new environments. He'll want to go through The Swamp like he always does (indeed, we got to the zoo an hour early, so he could have some normal zoo time before we tried to shift routine), and may resist. If we're all just patient and flexible, I told the zoo, it'll be fine. As always, the zoo staff responded, "No problem." And of course they know Nico from summer camp (see the link above), so were ready.

The lovely zookeeper, Mark, took us behind the scenes. Here's the results:

Nico crouches to watch the croc eat.
1. Nico was afraid of the big turtle.
2. Nico was afraid of the small lizard.
3. Nico liked the feeder fish that are kept around to feed the water snakes.
4. Nico liked the tiny turtles and was willing to pet some.

5. Nico helped me feed two little fish through the cage to an adorable (and maybe pregnant!) otter, Charlotte. And then the gnashing of teeth became too much for him and he backed off to sit on his mom, but still watched.
6. Nico was totally mellow about throwing biscuits to the crocodiles. They don't scare him none. In fact, he really wanted to stick his whole arm over the glass barrier to drop the biscuits right into the crocs' mouths (there were three).
7. He liked watching the zookeeper throw fish bits to the piranhas.

Which is just to say, you never know. More crocs, fewer lizards next time!

I always say: inclusion is not same-ness. The Zoo, in general, and the zookeeper Mark, got that just right yesterday.

Happy Birthday to Nico ...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Book Accountability Post #6

I did no writing on Saturday. Was I supposed to write on Saturday? I played with the kids, cleaned the house, made food, put away holiday directions, played a show that night. We needed the time together during the day.

Also I finished my final edits on a CNN piece about Clinton's autism plan. And here it is!

I'd like to get to 7000 words today, but it's also my son's 9th birthday (celebrated. Tomorrow is the actual birthday). So we'll see.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Book Accountability Post #5

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 973

Chapter word count: 2205
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 5406
Total goal: 70000

Did a lot of general "here's how I'm going to talk about disability" stuff today. Identity first. Social model.

Coddling By Design - Wheaton College

Last year was the year in which white liberal pundits ranted about PC Run Amok. Hua Hsu covered it very well in his piece for The New Yorker, "The Year of the Imaginary Student." It's a piece worth reading in its entirety. (Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan, has also written two good essays critiquing this discourse)
It was a rich year for even the casual observer of campus life. There were tales of students seeking “trigger warnings” before being exposed to potentially upsetting class materials. There was a new interest in “microaggressions,” or hurtful, everyday slights rarely uttered with the intention to offend. There was the Northwestern professor whose editorial against “sexual paranoia” resulted in students filing a Title IX suit against her, and the University of Missouri students who sought to bar journalists from a public plaza, which they claimed to be a “safe space” protected from the media. There were the students at Yale who demanded that a residential adviser be reprimanded after she prevailed upon them to be more open-minded about offensive Halloween costumes. And there was the item in the Oberlin school paper about sketchy Asian food, a piece that the New York Times described as evidence of the new “culture war.” Every week seemed to bring additional evidence for the emerging archetype of the hypersensitive college student, spotlighted at the beginning of the school year by the Atlantic, in a cover story about the “Coddling of the American Mind,” and just last weekend, in a Times Op-Ed about the “culture of victimhood.”
This phrase, the "coddling of the American Mind," which The Atlantic gave such top billing to (a good financial decision. It got huge clicks), serves both older liberals, conservative on the non-political sense, who believe they are the arbiters of what kinds of dissent are good or bad, and actual conservatives who want to attack the whole notion of liberal learning as some kind of commie plot. But beyond the wisdom of giving fuel to the other side in the culture war, the attack on "coddling" has always struck me as aimed at the wrong target. Haidt and Lukianoff, authors of the Atlantic piece, write:
But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.
So "coddling" is bad for students, they say, and it's happening almost at epidemic rates on presumed liberal college campuses.

Here's my rebuttal: If coddling is a problem, if we care about the need for young minds to be exposed to diverse, divergent, even offensive ideas, it's not happening at, say, Oberlin and Wesleyan.

It's happening at Wheaton College, where a professor is being fired for suggesting that Muslims and Christians might believe in the same god.

We can talk about the case of Larycia Hawkins along many lines, appropriately focusing on her freedom and her rights (few, legally, in this case), her bravery, and more. But just for a moment I'd like to cast the "coddling" rubric at Wheaton, a school that, by design, says that students may not encounter a single professor who deviates significantly from strict theological principles.

In fact, American evangelical colleges are built around the idea that student must be coddled, that the world is a corrupting Satanic space, that American culture is deviant, and college should be a protected enclave. Wheaton's mandatory allegiance to its profession of faith is what real coddling looks like.

Wheaton is a lovely university. Its students are bright and its teachers dedicated. I know many Wheaton graduates. They tend to be smart, ecumenically minded, fascinating people, who in fact managed to avoid being coddled.

But for all I concede that many universities trend towards liberal cultural values, I know countless conservative professors with great careers, great comfort in their institutions, and the protected ability to speak freely about their beliefs.

At Wheaton, you will not find a single professor or student who can dissent from the profession of faith in public, as they'll be expelled.

Now that's coddling.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Accountability Post #4

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily word count: 1232

Chapter word count: 1232
Chapter goal: 8500
Total word count: 4433
Total goal: 70000

I also wrote a 1000 word essay for CNN earlier. I'm now through the opening section of Chapter 1 and ready to get into the meat. 

Clinton and Autism Policy

I will be on HuffPost Live at 12:30 ET/11:30 CT as part of a 30-minute panel discussion of disability and politics, prompted by the release of a detailed Plan to Support Children, Youth, and Adults Living with Autism and their Families.

Here's the link to the segment.
I also spoke briefly with Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (and someone I talk to and quote frequently on these issues). He confirmed that the Clinton campaign consulted with ASAN (and surely other groups, including Autism Speaks - I have a query out to them) in building their plan, that no other campaign has done so yet, but that ASAN remains ready and willing to talk to them.

See you on air, later!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Accountability Post #3

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily wordcount: 372

Chapter wordcount: 3201
Chapter goal: 3000
Total wordcount: 3201
Total goal: 70000

Finished the Intro draft today, did a quick revision and cleanup, and began organizing the first chapter. I keep changing my mind about the opening anecdote, but am leaning towards the death of Quintonio Legrier. 

The Giant Lecture Course and the Big University

Over on Chronicle Vitae, a group of students at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, have written a spectacular piece - "A lecture from the lectured."

They open by citing pieces that sneer at students today for being distracted, boring, and un-intellectually curious, then respond with appropriate scorn.
 At a university like ours, where thousands of students compete to fulfill their general-education requirements, it is lecture after lecture after lecture. For three to four hours of our day, we sit in cavernous rooms — with up to 800 strangers — where the professor doesn't know our name, let alone ask us to speak.
They then describe their experiences, including some good ones with great lecturers, but far too often they complete their gen eds through these massive lectures in which they feel anonymous. Of course they don't pay attention.

They also recognize the economics
We will admit that the problem is not that the lecture is inherently a horrendous format. We've had bad small discussion-based classes where no one has done the required reading. We've sat through awkward silences when no one wants to add to the discussion.
But for us, the lecture seems too much the default option for educating a lot of us at the cheapest price.
That's the key to me. This class format persists not because anyone can defend it pedagogically. We all know that even in a class based on what Derek Bruff calls "continuous exposition,"such exposition is better delivered to 25 students, bored as they might be, than to 250. At the giant university, though, that's not really affordable. The whole enterprise depends on the economics of the giant intro class for undergraduates.

We know it's the worst acceptable way to teach.
We know students learn less in giant lecture classes.
We know a few profs who can pull it off, because they are good performers.
But we know that most profs can't.
We know that reward structures at the giant university focus almost entirely on research productivity (and the elusive outside offer).

And maybe this was ok when the giant publics were cheap but good. They still can be good, despite these big classes, but they aren't cheap any more.

I don't know how to fix this, but I do know that the recent spate of essays spitting scorn at students who check Facebook during a lecture aren't going to help.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Accountability Post #2

See here for primer on these posts.

Daily wordcount: 1792
Chapter wordcount: 2829
Chapter goal: 3000
Total wordcount: 2829
Total goal: 70000

I just wrote, "PUT SOME KIND OF CONCLUSION TO THE INTRO HERE AND CALL IT DONE FOR NOW" but did not count those words. So I might come back to it later and do that. 

Mental Health and Gun Violence - The President's Plan

Today, President Obama is announcing new executive actions on gun violence. I am a proponent of sensible gun control solutions. I do not believe we can arm ourselves to safety.

I am, however, always concerned when discussions around gun control stigmatize people with various types of disabilities as dangerous, so I was glad to see this.
We must continue to remove the stigma around mental illness and its treatment—and make sure that these individuals and their families know they are not alone. While individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, incidents of violence continue to highlight a crisis in America’s mental health system. In addition to helping people get the treatment they need, we must make sure we keep guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited by law from having them. Today, the Administration is announcing the following steps to help achieve these goals:
  • Dedicate significant new resources to increase access to mental health care. Despite our recent significant gains, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. To address this, the Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to help engage individuals with serious mental illness in care, improve access to care by increasing service capacity and the behavioral health workforce, and ensure that behavioral health care systems work for everyone. This effort would increase access to mental health services to protect the health of children and communities, prevent suicide, and promote mental health as a top priority.
  • Include information from the Social Security Administration in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. ...
  • Remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information to the background check system. Although States generally report criminal history information to NICS, many continue to report little information about individuals who are prohibited by Federal law from possessing or receiving a gun for specific mental health reasons. ...
What I like about this is that the White House leads with the statement that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims, and that their proposal is to increase resources. It is reasonable to try to limit access to firearms for people with specific conditions, especially due to suicide risk (rather than homicide risk). But we improve the situation by fighting stigma, so people who need help can ask for it, and we improve the situation by providing help to those who need it.

UPDATE: Here's a major critique of the erosion of HIPPA protections as both illegal AND useless in preventing gun violence.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Accountability Post #1

I'm writing a book. I spent the fall finishing most of my research (still a few research trips this spring for specific pieces of specific chapters), writing a relevant white paper (more to come on that!), and otherwise prepping for ... today.

Today my kids went back to school and I started writing. My goal is 1000 words a day. I wrote many more than 1000 words today, but deleted many and dumped others into my scraps file. I am starting at the beginning and proceeding to the end, which is not how I've written in the past, but I think it'll work this time around.

I'm going to post about my writing process so long as I think it's helping me stay focused. If it becomes a distraction (to me!) or otherwise becomes unhelpful, I'll stop. I plan to keep this up until I have a completed draft.

So, here we go.

Daily wordcount: 1037
Total wordcount: 1037
Chapter goal: 3000
Total goal: 70000

See you tomorrow.

What Is The Good Life? - Scenes from a Dystopian Job Market

The lucky winner of this job will be in an excellent position to opine on the Good Life.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida invites applications for the position of lecturer to teach the Humanities Common Course, IUF 1000: What is the Good Life?, to begin August 16, 2016. As part of the UF Core Curriculum, IUF 1000 is a multi-disciplinary humanities course, taught in collaboration by the faculties of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of the Arts, and the College of Design, Construction, and Planning.
This is a full-time, renewable, nine-month, non-tenure accruing position. Duties include teaching two sections and up to six hundred students per semester while supervising up to ten graduate teaching assistants, and contributing to development of course content and assessment of course delivery. Minimum qualifications: experience teaching multi-disciplinary humanities core courses, and a Ph.D. in a humanities discipline in hand by the time of appointment. Preferred qualifications: experience teaching large lecture courses with comparable course content, and supervising graduate teaching assistants in such a course. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience and include a full benefits package.
The Good Life does not have tenure.
The Good Life has a student-professor ratio of 600:1
The Good Life does come with benefits
All grading in The Good Life is done by graduate students who, upon completion of their PhD, will also be in an excellent position to opine on The Good Life (without tenure, with benefits).

Who comes up with this stuff?