Feb 162012

I have a long weekend coming up, so tonight’s post will be abbreviated as I settle into loafing mode. Perhaps I’ll feel more verbose tomorrow.

Feb 152012

That faint, embarrassingly high-pitched squee you just heard is the sound of hyperventilatng nerds greeting the news that Doctor Who and the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew will meet in a comic mini-series planned for this summer. That faint, piteous wail you just heard is a bunch of other nerds who cannot abide the crass commercialization of their beloved television show. I’m just hoping that we get to see Amy Pond plant a knee in Will Riker’s junk. That smirking bastard has it coming.

Feb 142012

These Game of Thrones Valentines are the perfect way to tell that special tavern wench or hedge knight just how much you really care. They’re the perfect size to tuck inside a lamprey pie or boar’s head. Even better, put one of these under a goblet of the Arbor’s finest for your sweetheart to discover after a long day of scheming and double-crossing.

It should now be abundantly clear why the only Valentine’s cards I receive are from my mom.

Feb 132012

The Twin Cities exurbs seem to have become a favorite stalking ground of print journalists. This Times recently paid a visit to the residents of Chisago County to examine their attitudes on government assistance; the same assistance upon which many of them rely to keep themselves afloat. What the reporters uncovered is a mix of semi-articulated resentment and compassion that elected officials will have to confront when we finally have a serious discussion about public spending and entitlements. Many of the people expressed frustration that they need assistance and that such assistance is readily available, but they also conceded that life would be much more difficult if those benefits were taken away.

It’s easy to label such attitudes as childish, but decades of poor leadership on the part of both Republicans and Democrats made this collective schizophrenia possible. Both parties were eager to expand benefits when it suited their political agendas, but nobody was willing to lead an adult conversation about the financing. And now that a reckoning looms, people are bewildered and angry. I don’t think we’re on the verge of Greek-style riots–not yet–but everyday people like those in Chisago County need to have their faith in the political process restored if there’s to be any hope of reaching a consensus on tough solutions that will be needed. And I don’t think Ron Paul libertarian utopianism or Tea Party nihilism can restore that faith.

Feb 102012

I’ve been thinking that it might be fun/interesting to teach myself some basic coding skills. Nothing fancy–I don’t plan on making my fortune by designing the next Instapaper. But it might be handy to know some Javascript or another language in case this lawyer gig doesn’t work out. Codecademy looks like a good resource, but I’d appreciate suggestions on other tutorials. Acquiring some basic programming skills might also resolve some lingering math-related insecurities that date back to a miserable experience with high school trigonometry.

Feb 092012

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Charles Van Heuveln, the man who is being forced into poverty because of policy flaws in the state’s Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program. Van Heuveln was recently profiled on WCCO, where he explained how he may lose his home because of the severe income restrictions on people over age 65 who receive Medical Assistance. Van Heuveln also posted a YouTube video explaining his plight and asking his fellow Minnesotans to contact their state legislators to urge them to change the law so he can keep working and eventually enjoy a modest retirement in his own home.

I’d like to urge my Minnesota readers to do the same. This is an issue that, left unaddressed, will affect a growing number of Minnesotans with disabilities. Like everyone else, people with disabilities are living longer and many are fully capable of working past age 65. And there are thousands of workers with disabilities (like me) who are accumulating savings in the hopes that we might eventually be able to retire with some degree of dignity. It would be a cruel shame if we were forced to give up those because of arbitrary policy distinctions between “disabled” and “elderly”.

Van Heuveln’s story is getting attention at the Capitol. Before I left work today, I saw that legislation had been introduced that would remove the upper age limit on MA-EPD and let people on the program keep their savings if they do retire. But it will only pass if you make your voices heard. Find out how to contact your legislators here.

Feb 082012

I’d like to thank the Republican voters of Minnesota (as well as Colorado and Missouri) for handing a victory to Santorum, ensuring that this circus of a nomination process will go on for at least another month. Your steadfast refusal to anoint Mittbot-9000 as your party’s standard bearer is both amusing and more than a little touching considering that Mittbot-9000 is still the overwhelming favorite. I’m also loving your renewed focus on gay marriage and contraception. I thought the culture wars had become passé, but here you are all suited up for battle like it’s 2004. Adorable! In a world full of uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that conservative outrage is still predictable.

Feb 072012

Is there nothing that Google isn’t developing? Having apparently decided that it needs something else to work on besides driverless cars, floating data centers, and a bajillion other projects, the company is developing glasses that can display information in your field of vision. Input is handled by voice recognition and head movement. I’d love to have something like this in the near future, especially during car rides or in doctors’ waiting rooms. I probably wouldn’t do much more than check my feeds and play a few rounds of Words with Friends, but the cool factor is too irresistible. Perhaps future versions will be powerful enough to let me scrap my desktop computer and simply sit and stare into my own private datascape.

Feb 062012

Rolling Stone reports on a recent spate of suicides involving teenagers in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, a suburb north of the Twin Cities. Many of the teens were constantly bullied for being gay or perceived as gay. The article also looks at the woefully inadequate response from the school district and the culture of silence it created with its absurd “neutrality” policy on controversial topics, effectively muzzling teachers and school staff from saying anything about homosexuality. The policy was designed to appease local evangelical activists who see themselves as the vanguard against nefarious conspiracies to promote the “gay agenda”, but instead it has left kids feeling vulnerable and isolated as they endure daily torment from their less enlightened peers.

The Anoka area has long been a hotbed of Christian conservatism (it’s the home district of Michele Bachmann), so stories like this aren’t exactly a shock to us locals. Still, it’s disheartening to read about school officials exhibiting the kind of immaturity and herd behavior that one would normally expect from their charges. Perhaps the discrimination lawsuit recently filed against the school district will prompt school officials to begin acting like compassionate adults.