An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

Originally posted on The Contemplative Mammoth:

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch. Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you…

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Sir Terry Pratchett Reaches the End of Cake

Sir Terry PratchettI almost never write about celebrity deaths, but this is one that has me genuinely heartbroken. Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my all-time favorite authors, has passed at the age of 66. Much too soon.

The headlines, presumably written by those who don’t really know his work, call him a fantasy author. While it’s true, it only scratches the surface. Pratchett wasn’t just a fantasy author, he was a brilliant satirist and humorist. His Discworld novels were at times laugh-out-loud funny, while telling engaging stores about a rotating cast of beloved characters. They poked fun at some of the crazier things in our society. They had heart.

The joy of satire is it allows us to laugh at some of the things that might otherwise make us cry. Pratchett’s stories not only pointed out, humorously, the bad things but also the good things. He helped his readers appreciate their health, their family, their friends.

I’m feeling particularly ineloquent right now, so I’ll end this with a quote. RIP, good Sir.

THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

-Death, in Night Watch (Death speaks in ALL CAPS, always.)

Messing with Texas 

These hateful laws are coming so fast it’s almost impossible to keep track of them now. The latest I’ve seen is in Texas, where a state law maker has proposed a law similar to the the one enacted recently in Arkansas. It would roll back protections against LGBT people enacted in many of the state’s larger cities. Oh, and the author has a gay son, and that son is not happy. 

Beau Miller wrote on his Facebook wall on Thursday, “As many of you know by now, my dad has authored and submitted a bill in the Texas House of Representatives that, if signed into law, would prevent municipalities in Texas from maintaining sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws. While I love my dad very much, I am extremely disappointed by his actions and will do everything I can to prevent that bill, or any such legislation, from becoming law.”

The more inroads we make the harder they fight back. So much for conservative family values. Good luck, Beau.

Georgia Taking the Piss

Well damn, we can’t let our guards down for a minute. Not even long enough to take a leak, apparently. That Georgia “religious liberty” bill I mentioned recently was tabled? Not any more.

The Republican members of the committee considering the bill voted quickly on it while the Democratic member was on a bathroom break.

After several hours of deliberations at Monday’s committee meeting, however, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Fort asked McKoon if he could pause work for a moment to use the bathroom. McKoon obliged, but while the Democrat hurried to the lavatory, the rest of the committee — which consisted entirely of Republicans once Fort left the room — quickly pulled the “religious liberty” bill off the table and began voting. A staffer alerted other Democrats who rushed to the scene, but the committee had already passed the bill by the time lawmakers arrived.

The bill will move to the full Senate for a vote.

Do we need to start a fund to provide Democratic lawmakers in … certain states … with stadium pals?

Potpourri

potpourri bowlJust some quick updates and tidbits worth mentioning:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to veto the AR law stopping municipalities from expanding anti-discrimination protection beyond what is contained in state law. After the veto deadline passed, Walmart, the state’s largest employer, said they were against it. Too little, too late.

And I apparently wrote too soon in my previous post on Arkansas, as a “religious freedom” bill was also working its slimy way through the legislature there. This was, of course, another law meant to allow people to discriminate against LGBT folks and hide behind a shield of “religion”. But there is good news! In this case, Walmart weighed in against it before it was too late, and (as if by magic) the next day the Senate panel considering the legislation rejected it.

Late last week, a similar bill in Georgia was tabled by a Senate committee there, after it was opposed by a very unlikely critic: former GA Attorney General (GA AG) Michael Bowers, who once (successfully) argued in favor of Georgia’s anti-sodomy law! Bowers released a statement saying “It is not just bad public policy; it is ill-conceived, unnecessary, mean-spirited and deserving of a swift death in the General Assembly.”

Here is another piece on the so-called “social science” attacking gay parenting making the rounds among conservatives, which makes reference to the post I recently re-blogged. It’s worth a read on its own merits.

Notice something different? After using the same theme on this site for a couple years, I decided to try changing it up. It should work well on computers, tablet and smartphones. How do you like the new look?

Children in same-sex parent families, dead horse edition

josh:

I don’t usually spend much time discussing gay parenting. I continue to believe parenting and marriage are linked but separate issues, and parenting is used as a straw man against marriage equality. However, knowing full well that invoking children often causes people’s brains to bypass their logic centers and head right for emotional reactions, equality foes keep trying to smear same-sex parents. Their means of doing so are questionable–at best. This post helps shine some light on their latest attempts.

Originally posted on Family Inequality:

Not that child well-being in different kinds of families isn’t a legitimate research topic, but this idea of proving same-sex parents are bad to whip up the right-wing religious base and influence court cases is really a shark jumping over a dead horse.

Without getting into all the possible detail and angles, here are some comments on the new research published by D. Paul Sullins, which claims to show negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents. Fortunately, I believe the legal efficacy of this kind of well-being witch-hunt research evaporated with Anthony Kennedy’s Windsor decision. Nevertheless, the gay-parents-are-bad-for-kids research community is still attempting to cause harm, and they still have big backers, so it’s important to respond to their work.

Research integrity

Below I will comment a little on the merits of the new studies, but first a look at the publication process and venues. As in the case of the Regnerus…

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And Now We Have Arkansas (What the Fuck?)

Following the footsteps of Kansas, Arizona and Mississippi, the state of Arkansas is trying to use legislation to keep anti-LGBT discrimination alive and well. But this approach is a bit different. Rather than using “religious freedom”, which has proven controversial–and gotten legislation dropped in Kansas and vetoed in Arizona–they are going for the innocuous sounding “standardizing” non-discrimination ordinances across the state.

According the AR branch of the ACLU, “SB 202 prohibits cities, counties, and towns from passing laws that create any “protected class” or “prohibit discrimination” that go beyond state law.”

This means cities can’t restrict discrimination any further than the state does. And guess what? The state doesn’t protect against anti-LGBT discrimination! The ACLU claims it’s “a direct fear response to Fayetteville’s passage of an ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

A different technique for the same old shit! They aren’t even being subtle about it.

State Senator Bart Hester has introduced an emergency bill, SB 202, which would strike down all nondiscrimination ordinances in the state permanently.

Hester believes that to allow LGBT people to have protections in the workplace and to have legal recourse against cases of discrimination goes too far, granting “special rights” to people who aren’t like him.

The 37-year-old GOP official told BuzzFeed that sure, LGBT people get discriminated against sometimes, but these days, “we are all singled out for discrimination.”

“I am singled out as a politician. I am singled out because I am married to one woman,” Hester said. “I want everyone in the LGBT community to have the same rights I do. I do not want them to have special rights that I do not have.”

(source)

Oh, he’s “singled out” as a politician (maybe because politicians do shit like this?) and for being “married to one woman”? Really?

There is a site dedicated to encouraging the governor to veto it. Let’s hope he does.

Not sure this is a bad law? Hate group leader and general asshole Tony Perkins loves it. What more do you need?

SSM is Not Like Abortion

One of the things I’ve been neglecting by not doing much blogging is holding Ryan Anderson’s feet to the fire. He hasn’t been inactive lately, by any means. So to kick things off for the new year, let’s tackle one of his latest instances of foolishness.

In the video below, a distraught middle-aged woman complains to the panel that her young niece looked at her like she was “a horrible person” when the woman told her niece she thought marriage was between a man and a woman, and looked to the panel for some help with “How are you guys winning [millenials] over” to the side of bigotry (OK, that’s my word…)?

And “Dr.”* Anderson’s (looking increasingly like Grizzly Adams–not such a fresh face now) response? Comparing abortion to same-sex marriage: “My generation is more pro-life than my parents’ generation, and there’s no reason why the same thing can’t happen on the question about marriage.”

Oh, but there is. It’s a bit like comparing support for nuclear weapons programs to believing it’s acceptable for men to wear pink.
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The Rat

clipart ratThe police and policing have been in the news a lot in the last few months, starting with the events in Ferguson, MO. I wrote about the police a couple times. And I’ve heard a lot of discussion, and one question has come up a few times. Why don’t the good cops do something about the bad cops? The answer: they’re afraid to. Whistle blowers are called “rats” and “snitches”. They can’t find partners to ride with them and get shitty assignments. Worst of all, they don’t get backup in dangerous situations, meaning they are literally endangering their own lives by coming forward. A case in which all this allegedly happened is that of former Baltimore Police Detective Joseph Crystal.

By all reports, Crystal was a rising star in the BPD, until he saw something he couldn’t keep quiet about: the beating of a drug suspect by a fellow officer.

In fleeing from police, the suspect broke into the home of a woman who was (presumably unknown to him) the girlfriend of a BPD officer (Anthony Williams). The man was arrested and taken away in a police van. But then Officer Williams–who was not involved in the arrest–showed up. The sergeant on scene had the van come back and the suspect brought back into the house where Williams beat him:

“I can hear the assault,” Crystal said. “I hear the banging. I hear the guy hit the floor.

“A couple minutes later, they bring the guy out,” Crystal added. “His shirt’s ripped. He’s having trouble standing. Later on, I found out his ankle was broken. It was obvious not just to any cop but to any person that saw it what had just transpired.”

The battered Green was led back into the police van and driven away.

After consulting with his parents, who were both former NYPD officers, he decided he had to report the incident. His sergeant advised against it: “If you snitch, your career is done. Nobody’s going to work with you.”

He did it anyway. His sergeant was right. What followed were all the things I mentioned above, in addition to having a dead rat placed on his car at his home and his security clearance revoked.

For obvious reasons, Crystal felt he had to quit his job, and he has been unable to find another law enforcement job in the area. He is currently suing the department, the chief and his former supervisor.

Read all the depressing details here.

This is why the good cops don’t do something about the bad cops. The Blue Wall is insurmountable. This is why the police are not capable of policing themselves.

Happy New Year 2015

times-square-ballThere’s been a lot going on the last month or two, and I’ve been remiss in my blogging. There has been a lot on my mind, certainly. I just haven’t made myself sit down and write it all out. And I’m not going to for a bit longer!

The new year is upon us. I am shortly leaving on a much-needed vacation, where I will have minimal Internet access. Hopefully I will return rested, relaxed and ready to start the year out right.

In the mean time, I wish a safe and happy new year to all. We don’t know what 2015 holds for us, but let’s all do what we can to make it the best it can be, for ourselves and for each other.

Cheers!