Monday, December 24, 2018

2018 Writing in Review

I had a weird year in terms of writing. It started off normal, then I had a mental health crisis, then I had a professional crisis (brought on by my own harmful actions), then I continued to be in mental health crisis and I stopped writing much, then I got help, then I started writing, then my mom died and we had other family crises and I just kept writing faster, and now here we are.

I had 79 pieces published this year, down from 93 last year (thanks summer crisis brain!). 67 at Pacific Standard, 2 at HuffPo, 1 at CNN, 1 at NBC News, 2 at The Nation, 1 at Chronicle of Higher Ed. 
  1. Fire, Flood, and Being Disabled in the Age of Catastrophe (Huffington Post, 12/22/18)
  2. The Five Paragraph Essay Must Die! (Pacific Standard, 12/21/18)
  3. The Death Penalty Goes Local (Pacific Standard, 12/21/18)
  4. Alice Walker and Thomas of Monmouth (Pacific Standard, 12/20/18)
  5. Restraint and the Murder of an Autistic Child (Pacific Standard, 12/20/18)
  6. Free Speech Unless You are Pro-Palestinian (Pacific Standard, 12/12/18)
  7. George H. W. Bush and The ADA (Pacific Standard, 12/6/18)
  8. Ocasio-Cortez and the Politics of Digital Intimacy (Pacific Standard, 11/30/18)
  9. Kevin Kruse and TwitterStorians (Pacific Standard, 11/28/18)
  10. The Art of Stimming (Pacific Standard, 11/27/18)
  11. A last meal with my mom (Washington Post, 11/21/18)
  12. People with Down syndrome are not animals (Pacific Standard, 11/16/18)
  13. Grievance Studies and the Humanities (11/8/18)
  14. Voting Rights Now (Huffington Post, 11/8/18)
  15. Gun Reform, not Mental Illness Stigma (Pacific Standard, 11/5/18)
  16. Interview: Sarah Blahovec for NCIL (Pacific Standard, 11/5/18)
  17. The Kentucky Terrorist (Pacific Standard, 10/29/18)
  18. Dear Sarah Palin: Disabled Kids Ain't Props (Pacific Standard, 10/25/18)
  19. #HimToo and Male Victims of Sexual Assault. Even me. (Pacific Standard, 10/19/18)
  20. Texas Wants to Kill Kwame Rockwell (Pacific Standard, 10/17/18)
  21. MN AG: Ellison vs Wardlow (Pacific Standard, 10/15/18)
  22. Beat ICE, Run for Sheriff! (Pacific Standard, 10/11/18)
  23. Interview: Bruce Schneier (Pacific Standard, 10/9/18)
  24. Interview: Maysoon Zayid (Pacific Standard, 10/8/18)
  25. Me and My Depression (Pacific Standard, 10/1/18)
  26. Neglect and Indifference in Hurricane Maria (Pacific Standard, 9/28/18)
  27. Interview: Mary Robinette Kowal (Pacific Standard, 9/20/18)
  28. Norm Macdonald and Down Syndrome Jokes (Pacific Standard, 9/19/18)
  29. Did Trump call Jeff Sessions "Retarded?" (Pacific Standard, 9/15/18)
  30. Can Uber and Lyft Become Accessible? (Pacific Standard, 8/31/18)
  31. Disability Groups come out against Kavanaugh (Pacific Standard, 8/20/18)
  32. Climate Struggle and the Hugos (Pacific Standard, 8/17/18)
  33. Introducing CAP Disability Justice (8/14/18)
  34. Facebook Fails on Free Speech (Pacific Standard, 8/2/18)
  35. Can We Save AP World History? (Pacific Standard, 7/26/18) 
  36. On the Trail with Billie Sutton (Pacific Standard, 7/24/18)
  37. Hospitals and Disabled Patients (Pacific Standard, 6/29/18)
  38. First they came for Immigrants, and Lewandowski said womp womp (CNN, 6/20/18)
  39. Interview: John Ross Bowie on Speechless (Pacific Standard, 6/20/18)
  40. Advising as Customer Service (Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/13/18)
  41. USA's "Colony" and Resisting Fascism (Pacific Standard, 6/8/18)
  42. Disability and Disaster: We're not Ready (Pacific Standard, 6/1/18)
  43. Don't Ban Straws (Pacific Standard, 5/31/18)
  44. Interview: Nicola Griffith (Pacific Standard, 5/21/18)
  45. Interview: Richard Painter (Pacific Standard, 5/17/18)
  46. Koch on Campus (Pacific Standard, 5/11/18)
  47. Texas Principal Jokes About Cops Murdering A Student (Pacific Standard, 5/8/18)
  48. Arizona Strike (Pacific Standard, 5/3/18)
  49. Abolish ICE (Pacific Standard, 5/1/18)
  50. Fight the Alt-Right Terrorists (Pacific Standard, 4/30/18)
  51. INTERVIEW: Kelly Baker (Pacific Standard, 4/24/18)
  52. The Right-Wing Plot on Student Government (Pacific Standard, 4/20/18)
  53. Sci-Fi and Assistive Tech (Pacific Standard, 4/18/18)
  54. How to Hold Academic Predators Accountable (Pacific Standard, 4/17/18)
  55. Regulate Sinclair (Pacific Standard, 4/12/18)
  56. Deaf President Now Changed America (Pacific Standard, 4/11/18)
  57. White Supremacists are Radicalizing (Pacific Standard, 3/26/18)
  58. #MeToo and the Commodification of Women's Pain (Pacific Standard, 3/24/18)
  59. Stephen Hawking's Legacy: Health Care and Social Supports (NBC News, 3/15/18)
  60. No, The Irish Were Not Slaves Too (Pacific Standard, 3/15/18)
  61. Higher Ed Has 99 Problems and NYT Op-Ed Columnists are One (Salon, 3/9/18)
  62. Lawmakers Make Schools More Dangerous (Pacific Standard, 3/6/18)
  63. How Would Democrats Protect The Environment? (Pacific Standard, 3/5/18)
  64. Repeal the Second Amendment (Pacific Standard, 2/26/18)
  65. Lemony Snicket and Sexual Harassment (Pacific Standard, 2/21/18)
  66. Retailers Attack the ADA (Pacific Standard, 2/14/18)
  67. Trump's Brain (The Nation, 2/13/18)
  68. The New Gerber Baby. So what? (Pacific Standard, 2/13/18)
  69. Down syndrome and Anti-Choice Propaganda in Ireland (2/8/18)
  70. Don't Watch the Superbowl (Pacific Standard, 2/2/18)
  71. Your Pills are Spying on you (Pacific Standard, 2/1/18)
  72. IQ Tests and the Death Penalty (Pacific Standard, 1/25/18)
  73. Interview: ADAPTer Anita Cameron (Pacific Standard, 1/22/18)
  74. Unrest and Talking about Suffering (Pacific Standard, 1/16/18)
  75. ICE keeps Raiding Hospitals (Pacific Standard, 1/15/18)
  76. #MeToo is Not a Witch Hunt (Pacific Standard, 1/9/18)
  77. The "Stahl Standard" for Mental Health and Politics Reporting (Pacific Standard, 1/4/18)
  78. Republicans use Fear of Eugenics to Attack Reproductive Rights (The Nation, 1/4/18)
  79. Companies that exploit disabled labor have a friend in Jeff Sessions (Pacific Standard, 1/3/18)

Friday, December 21, 2018

I am not a lizard person

New on anti-Semitic myths and the dangers they pose. From Thomas of Monmouth to David Icke's lizard people, there's a long history of people making up bizarre stories about Jews. Those stories, when allowed to proliferate, get us killed.
To be extremely clear, this is all dangerous nonsense. There does seem to have been a boy named William who was murdered in Norwich in the 1140s. The culprit remains unknown, according to the most recent scholarship. There was no international Jewish conspiracy to murder Christian children in the Middle Ages (nor was there in antiquity, nor is there today).
Also, the first time I taught this text in a classroom, a wide-eyed student exclaimed, "I had no idea this was true!"
The lesson is that no matter how preposterous a conspiracy theory, if you don't frame the material carefully, at least some people will believe it. When enough people believe these kinds of narratives, Jews or other marginalized people tend to get murdered. Neutrality, just letting the material speak for itself, only serves the anti-Semites.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Death of an Autistic Child in School

New: Restraint in schools and the death of #MaxBenson.
"It shouldn't take the death of a teenage boy to stop overuse of restraint in schools. But, given how ingrained such practices are in our educational systems, and the 120,000 kids experiencing restraint or seclusion each year, I'm worried this one death won't be enough."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Disability and the Death Penalty

I am just finishing edits on my sixth piece on the death penalty in the last two years for Pacific Standard. Here's what I've written:

So what does all this mean about the state of the Death Penalty in the US in 2018? Check back with me at Pacific Standard next week.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Knock Knock?

Is there anyone reading this site who doesn't read me at Facebook, Twitter, or over on Patreon? I'm considering letting the blog posts mostly go here.

My latest update: Weekly Roundup: Spider-Man and Marc Lamont Hill.

UPDATE - SO GLAD TO SEE Y'ALL IN THE COMMENTS! I will keep posting here.

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


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.)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Voting Rights Now

My first piece for HuffPost Opinions:
“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Congress had reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 by a 98-0 Senate vote and a gaping 390-33 tally in the House, but in 2013 the Supreme Court’s conservative justices voted 5-4 to strike down its key pre-authorization provision.
The result has been predictable ― systematic disenfranchisement of voters across the South and beyond, undoubtedly contributing to the defeat of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Georgia (the latter is still being contested), and perhaps even enabling Ted Cruz in Texas to keep his Senate seat.
Now that Democrats have reclaimed the House and key governor’s mansions, and flipped hundreds of state legislative seats, we have a chance to do something about it. It’s time for them to go all-in on the universal right to transparent and accessible voting.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Stimming Beauty

My son stims with beads. Most people see just a boring repetitive moment. But slow it down. Watch. Set it to Bach. #Neurodiversity #DownSyndrome #Autism #Parenting (Note: My son approves of this video).