It Went So Fast

I knew it was coming from the beginning, if not exactly when. The move to the NYC area (yes, yes, I technically live in Hoboken, NJ…but I can look out my window at Manhattan across the river) was always intended to be temporary… 2 to 3 years. Fortunately it ended up being 3 (and a touch more) but it still flew by. In a way I feel like there’s so much I haven’t done. But I have also done a lot. I’ve made new friends, and like a real New Yorker quickly grew to hate Times Square.

But his rotation is over, and we’re heading back to Chicago in August. It’s bittersweet, to be sure. Would I tire of this place, eventually? Maybe. Am I there yet? Nope! I had some great experiences here. I’m going to miss my friends, the community of people at the Magnet Theater where I’ve been learnin’ me some improv, and the community of people at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey, where I’ve been volunteering (and the amazing building itself). Then there is the kind of anything-goes open-mindedness you don’t find in the Midwest, even in major cities. And the Broadway shows, and the diverse nightlife, and yes, the attractive people (there seem to be more of them here). There’s a lot to miss.

And do I miss Chicago. Kind of. I miss my friends, for sure. I left behind a bunch of amazing people when I moved here, and the occasional visit just isn’t the same. But do I miss Chicago? Meh. At the time of the move, I was more than ready for a change of scenery after 15 years there. And I don’t feel like I need to get back there yet. But it is a great city, and has a lot to offer. It’s going to have to do.

I imagine I’m going to visit New York much more often than I did before, and I can’t rule out a move back here some day…though that’s not particularly likely.

This was a chapter of my life that I’ll look back on fondly. Probably a chapter that ended too soon, and didn’t pack in quite as much action as I hoped, but an awesome chapter nonetheless. Only time will tell what the next one has in store.

Cleaning House

Sweeping broomIf you’re like me, you can hardly keep up with the deluge of reports of apparent police misconduct, often with fatal results.

The biggest case in the news right now is of course, that of Freddie Gray. Just today, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against 6 officers involved in the Gray incident. Those charges included false imprisonment, because her investigation concluded there was no justification for the arrest in the first place!

Recently a judge in Cook County, Illinois dismissed a case against a Chicago police detective who–while off duty–fired into a small crowd of people and killed an innocent bystander, Rekia Boyd. Of course the cop claimed that someone in the crowd had a gun…but no gun or evidence of a gun was found, and the intended target (who was injured but not killed) had a cell phone in his hand. Interestingly, the judge who tossed the case implied that the officer should have been charged with murder, a more serious crime than that he had been charged with.

Not long ago, most of us probably saw the incredibly disturbing video of North Charleston police officer Slager shooting a fleeing, unarmed Walter Scott in the back several times, then planting his taser next to the body.

I think what we are seeing is the inevitable result of the complete abdication of responsibility of police to police their own. I still believe many if not most police officers are basically good people. But as John Stuart Mill wrote, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” We have seen that police will not keep their own house in order. In fact, those who try may find themselves punished instead of the bad guys! That leaves us–the rest of Society–no choice but to clean their house for them. The time has more than come.

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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