Friday, July 8, 2016

The Arc of History...

[I wrote this originally for Facebook, where I keep things friends-locked, so re-posting here for anyone who wants to share more widely.]
I want my children to grow up in a world where I do not fear for my beautiful black nephew as he grows, where he can be hurt just for wearing the same clothes or walking in the same neighborhood or driving in the same car where they can go without fear simply because of the color of his skin. I want my children to grow up in a world where my friends do not have to teach their children of color to fear law enforcement. I want my children to grow up in a world where peaceful protesters do not have their message undermined by a sniper taking matters into hand, and where police officers who are doing their job by being present for that peaceful protest don't get killed for it.

I want my children to grow up in a world where they and their partners and their children will not be harassed and killed because of their color, or gender, or sexual orientation. I want them to grow up in a world where a major party political candidate cannot thrive on racist xenophobic misoginistic vitriol. I want them to grow up in a world where the mass shootings and police shootings and hatred we've seen recently are so rare that they are shocking and unimaginable rather than numbingly common.

These wants seem like pipe dreams. As a child, growing up when and where I did, it does not come as a shock to me that injustice and racial violence still exist, especially in police dynamics. But as an adult, and a parent, it is my job to work towards a different future. As a parent I need to educate my kids about the realities of this world we live in so that they can recognize racism, xenophobia, misogeny, etc when the see it and know to speak up, but I also need to work to make it a fairer world for all our kids to grow up safely.

The arc of history may bend towards justice, but we must help it bend. We can do better. We must do better.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why babies are cute

A nurse who cared for my baby sister used to say, “G-d made babies cute so we would be willing to take care of them.” And my mom would respond, “Then G-d made Palomita extra cute, so we’d be willing to take extra care of her.”

Luckily it seems that twins come with that dose of extra cuteness too.

My, what cute babies you have. The better to care for them, my dear…

Friday, July 19, 2013

It gets better – a twins project

We now have 2-month-old twins, and have come to discover that there is a sort of informal parent-of-multiples It Gets Better Project. When other people (not parents of multiples) see families with a cute new baby, or in our case babies, they most often say something generic about how you should just treasure every precious moment cause they’re not small for long. I think in part these people are in denial about how hard it is having a newborn, but they also just have no clue how hard it is with two. In any case, every single time we talk to other parents of twins they always say “Just hang in there. It gets better. So much better! …” And while we love our children, we are hanging on to that thread of hope, because caring for two infants simultaneously is incredibly exhausting. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thinking about gun control in 2013

So after the Newtown tragedy, people started talking gun control again. And I kept thinking I should write up something about this. After all, it's actually in my field and something I've thought about. But the truth is, I haven't had the time or energy. Maybe I will some day, maybe not. In the meanwhile, I thought I'd share some of the articles I saw go by that were worth a read either because they offer a perspective you may not have heard yet, or because they are important for understanding the current debate.

  • A Slate article on technology to make safer guns.
  • The NY Times on how gun manufactures out-reach to younger audiences.
  • The NY Times on lessons-learned from the now-expired assault weapons ban.
  • An LA Times opinion piece from a conservative judge on the importance of an assault weapons ban.
  • Along the same lines, a blog post on Arms Control Law, a blog that I read for professional reasons, and that is normally dealing with more international topics.
  • A Slate article on federally funding gun violence research.
  • A short piece on gun control from the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • The Brady Campaign's short list of needed gun control measures.
  • A NY Times article on the Obama administration's gun control recommendations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Holy Primaries, Batman!

I know, I know. I should be over the vagaries of the MA electoral system by now. I mean, what do I have to be nostalgic about anyways? The death-by-ballot-initiative that characterizes my native CA political environment isn’t exactly enviable. But there are a few things CA does right, that we could learn from. Namely:

(1) Today I voted in the Presidential Primary. (MA participates in Super Tuesday). In September, I will vote again in the State Primary (including the much-watched Senate race). Both of these primaries will lead to the same general election.
Sunkist Miss’s Rule 1 of Electoral Politics: Limit the number of times you expect people to turn out to vote -- have a single primary election. The more elections, and the fewer items per ballot, the less interest people will have in voting. Duh.

(2) I should not have to do extensive searching online to find out what will be on my ballot. It should be easy to find out. Actually, take a play from the CA play book, and tell me before I ask! The Sec. of State and LA County Registrar of Voters were always good about that. The county sends you your sample ballot (with a form to request an absentee ballot on the back) before every election. The state sends a voter guide with more information including official statements from candidates and ballot measure campaigns (and official analysis of the legal impact of the ballot measures). I love you, CA.
Rule 2: Educate voters about what will be on the ballot, or at least provide them with the tools to find out. Before they arrive at the polls.

PS. Our representative in the MA Legislature is also on the City Council. Say what?!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Facing an impossible choice and doing the right thing

Today I am proud of Israel. And humbled by the right choice made in face of a devastatingly difficult reality. Because today Israel exchanged over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them terrorists, in order to bring home 1 captured Israeli soldier who has been held for the past 5 years.

The criticisms of the deal I have heard from some in the Jewish, pro-Israel right, are chilling. As my mom said in response to those criticisms, “Even if you can't agree it's the right choice, it's an impossible choice. How do you criticize an impossible choice?”

I recommend that reading this piece from Haaretz (Israeli newspaper). I’m quoting a piece of it, but the whole thing is well worth the read:

The deal to bring Gilad Shalit back to his family is painful to Israelis bereaved by terror. It is, by any measure, chillingly dangerous.

And it was the right thing to do.


The deal for Gilad Shalit is a remnant of a promised land that – to those everyday people who donate their very youth, their very lives, in order to defend it – still believes it important to keep its promises.

The first of those promises is a simple one. When they draft you and process you and inoculate you and arm you and begin to use you, they spell it out, to you and your family both: If you are lost on the field of battle, we will get you back. Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes. Even if it takes much too much.

The list of the terrorists being released is unendurable. The numbers are beyond understanding. Until you consider that this is how it's always been.


And this is what I too have said several times today. That no matter what you believe as to the wisdom of the deal, you should be able to rejoice that Gilad Shalit is back with his family. That it is not a new precedent (Israel has been making these kinds of impossible exchanges for decades). And that it was the right thing to do.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wrapping up research

So, I’m finishing up the research part of my trip, and of my foreseeable travels. (It’s quite possible I’ll be back before the dissertation is done, but this trip ends the currently planned travel for work).

The Croatia trip was less productive than I hoped but more productive than I feared. I learned some interesting new pieces in putting together the puzzle of what is going on in the region, but not much progress on the Croatia case-study itself. That will take more digging and networking from home it seems.

I think in many ways, Bosnia was the most fulfilling part of my travels this year from a dissertation perspective. This is because it was a sort of turning point taking the dissertation topic from something with potential to something I can see developing. It was an aha moment. This thing might actually work. And might actually be important. That is in part because while it was my third stop, it is only the second of the case studies (Serbia was for regional context – the case studies are in Kosovo, BiH, and Croatia). And I learned enough to know that there are going to be some really interesting differences in outcomes here, for a good compare/contrast (rather than just hypothesizing that there might be). There’s still a long road to go, with a number of “bends in the road” as Anne Shirley would say, but I feel like it’s the right road to be on…