Aug 072014

Governor Dayton is pushing state agencies to hire more people with disabilities through a recently signed executive order. It establishes a goal of having people with disabilities represent 7% of the state workforce by 2018 (up from the current figure of 3.2%). The Strib article notes that Minnesota has fallen behind neighboring states and the federal government in the hiring of people with disabilities.

This executive order signals good intentions from the Dayton administration, although I’m hesitant to predict what its real impact will be. People with disabilities continue to face myriad obstacles to employment including difficulties accessing transportation, job training, and health care. Any initiative to increase employment of people with disabilities must at least recognize these challenges and offer strategies for shaping appropriate accommodations.

The state has been a good employer to me. It has provided me the flexibility I need while giving me the opportunity to have a career and enjoy financial independence. I’m hopeful that this executive order will give other people with disabilities similar opportunities to realize their potential.

Aug 012014

Fellow gimp Ben Mattlin wrote a thoughtful Times op-ed piece about Justin Bieber, perceptions of disability, and playing the disability card. He notes that Bieber was recently photographed using a wheelchair at Disney World and suggests that this may be a sign that visible disabilities are losing some of their stigma. He then reminisces about the special treatment he received as a child because of his disability, like getting into movies for free. It’s a common life experience for those of us who grew up with a disability and like Mattlin, I now look back on those experiences with a degree of ambivalence. I definitely exploited my disability for my own ends as I was growing up, but I probably reinforced stereotypes about disability in the process.

I like to think that I’m a more enlightened person now; one who demands equal treatment and steadfastly refuses any preferential treatment rooted in pity or condescension. But if I’m honest with myself, I know that I might slip on occasion. I might accept a seat upgrade at a concert or the opportunity to avoid a line at an amusement park. Because sometimes a crip just wants a better sightline that isn’t full of legs and asses. Or because I just won’t feel like being SuperCrip, Defender of Virtuous Principles, at that particular moment.

Jul 282014

Movie trailers are notorious for overpromising the entertainment value of the final product, so I’m hesitant to make too much of this new trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road:

But it looks really good. The Road Warrior (or Mad Max 2, for the Aussies and purists out there) is one of my favorite movies and one that I can watch numerous times and still thoroughly enjoy. This trailer seems to capture the choreographed mayhem and post-apocalyptic punk sensibilities of that movie. The fact that director George Miller minimized the use of digital effects for his action sequences also nudges the needle of my internal Pop Culture Anticipation Gauge from WARY to EXTREMELY CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE IT COULD STILL SUCK.

Like I said, the movie could turn out to be a complete mess. But Fury Road is now one of my more eagerly anticipated blockbusters of 2015 (alongside the Avengers sequel).


Jul 232014

41. The number doesn’t roll off the tongue, but I’m happy to be here. Yesterday, a lovely young woman complemented me on my curly hair, so decrepitude hasn’t completely set in yet. Let’s hope I can keep it at bay for a while longer.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. And now I must call my attorney to ensure he remains on call this evening.

Jul 182014

Cranes have become a prominent feature of the downtown Minneapolis skyline over the last few months. My neighborhood is now a hub of construction activity that includes the new Vikings stadium, the Downtown East development, and various apartment buildings. It’s good to see so much revitalization in downtown after several years of stagnation. Minneapolis has finally realized that you can either have a bustling city center or acres of surface parking lots, but not both.

But this new enthusiasm for density is accompanied by rapid gentrification. There are precious few affordable housing options in downtown and I doubt that will change anytime soon. I’m excited at the prospect of living a denser and more lively downtown, but I’d also like the opportunity to mingle with other people who aren’t white middle-class professionals.

Look, three blog entries in a row! This might become a habit if I’m not careful.

Jul 172014

The news today is particularly awful, so let’s focus on something less miserable. I’ve blogged previously about Jillian Mercado, the fashion blogger with a disability who was featured in a Diesel ad campaign. Mercado may have to start referring to herself as a model/blogger because she’s now mugging for the Nordstrom catalog. It’s thrilling to see someone with a disability enjoy this kind of professional success, particularly in an industry that has is typically obsessed with traditional notions of beauty. I look forward to seeing her on a billboard in the near future.

And I love the boots, Jillian.

Jillian Mercado Nordstorm.jpg

Jul 162014

After much waiting and bureaucratic hoop-jumping, I drove home in my new Honda Odyssey earlier this week. Automotive technology has advanced considerably since 1999. My Caravan’s engine always made its presence known with a steady rumble, but I can barely hear the Odyssey’s engine. Everything is very sleek and digital and unobtrusive. It’s like commuting via the starship Enterprise. Even the modifications have a futuristic feel. With a single button on the key fob, the sliding door opens and the ramp deploys. The ramp is stowed within the van’s floor, so I no longer have to listen to it rattle beside me.

I’m on vacation next week. I believe I will spend it driving around the lakes and inviting random attractive women to join me.

Pictures will be forthcoming. Of the van, not the women. Unless they’re into that sort of thing.

Jul 032014

A friend objected to my characterization of the Hobby Lobby decision as a ruling designed to placate those employers who object to the notion of sex for pleasure. He (because of course it was a “he”) maintained that the Court had preserved the rights of employers to exercise their religion as they saw fit. But other conservatives seem more than happy to confirm my assertion that they really don’t like the idea of women having sex for reasons other than procreation.

Here’s Rush Limbaugh’s thoughts on the matter:

Pregnancy is something that you have to do to cause. … Yet we treat it as a great imposition that women need to be protected from. It’s a sickness, it’s a disease, it’s whatever, and there’s gotta be a pill for it. Yet they wouldn’t have the problem if they didn’t do a certain thing. It’s that simple.

And Erick Erickson’s:

My religion trumps your “right” to employer subsidized consequence free sex.

And Sean Hannity’s:

I was in the drugstore the other day, and guess what? There’s a whole section of birth control. Go buy it! You can get a condom in a New York bar for free. As a matter of fact, you can take a handful.

Hobby Lobby is a terrible decision that legitimizes gender discrimination in the workplace out of a misplaced desire to protect every manisfestation of religious freedom, no matter the consequences. It is rooted in notions of sexuality and religiosity that will soon only exist in the exurbs and retirement homes. But until then, misogyny has a friend in the Supreme Court.

Jun 252014

This short Times documentary about a couple–both of whom have muscular dystrophy–who fell in love and married is sweet and matter-of-fact. There’s just one problem: they are living in a Connecticut acute care hospital. Does Connecticut not have the resources to enable them to live together in the community? I understand that they both use ventilators, but this is 2014: people with ventilators living at home are not a rare species anymore. Of course, I don’t know what their specific circumstances are. They may choose to live at the hospital because they feel safer or because the quality of care is high. But I imagine it’s no simple matter for them to get out to a movie or restaurant. I hope somebody has at least discussed community living with them.

Jun 192014

40 percent.

That’s how much Minnesota has reduced its uninsured population since fully implementing the Affordable Care Act back in January.

40 percent!

Of course, ACA opponents won’t be impressed with this news. They’ll continue to grumble to themselves about death panels and government takeovers. But in the land of the sane, this can’t be viewed as anything other than a huge achievement. Thousands of Minnesotans now have access to health care who otherwise would still be uninsured. Much of this reduction is due to the state’s expansion of Medicaid, a policy choice that neighboring states like Wisconsin and the Dakotas have resisted. Perhaps this news will give some elected officials second thoughts about their ongoing refusal to act in the best interests of their constituents. Minnesota shouldn’t be an island of decency in a sea of Tea Party-fueled callousness.