- Middle School Teacher on Administrative Leave – Apparently a middle school teacher in Maryland has been suspended, subjected to a psych evaluation and moved to an “undisclosed location” for writing a sci-fi novel about a school shooting in the far future. This news story reads like a press release from the police department and doesn’t ask any of the questions it should have. Like, is he under arrest? Being charged? With what? Has anyone involved heard of “fiction?”
He’s a man with many names, and the books he has written have raised the concerns of the Dorchester County Board of Education and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.
Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace’s Lane Middle School had several aliases. Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country’s history set in the future. Now, Patrick McLaw is placed on leave.
Dr. K.S. Voltaer is better known by some in Dorchester County as Patrick McLaw, or even Patrick Beale. Not only was he a teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, but according to Dorchester Sheriff James Phillips, McLaw is also the author of two books: “The Insurrectionist” and its sequel, “Lillith’s Heir.”
- Why Book Criticism and Literary Culture Needs a Poptimist Revolution – Elisabeth Donnelly makes a persuasive argument for including popular fiction in the wider literary discussion.
It’s not an either/or, literary snobs versus being a populist philosopher, but I want a culture that’s rooted in a literary canon to figure out how to be more generous when considering the scope of literature, the value that words have in people’s lives. Some of this requires acknowledging that often-maligned, female-learning genre fiction exists, has way more readers that you can ever dream of, and should be considered regarding its storytelling merits and what it does. Even if it has words that exist strictly for the purpose of masturbation, it may end up having more value to the world than some obscure experimentalist’s experiments in literary wanking.
- Deaf Miami mom-to-be sues to have sign language in delivery room – I think people would really be surprised by how poorly most hospitals accommodate disabled patients and visitors. There are many barriers in place preventing disabled people from accessing the care they need.
Sometime this month or next, Cheylla Silva will be admitted to Baptist Hospital to give birth to her second child. The delivery will be high-risk: Silva suffers from high blood pressure and other complications.
Silva is hoping the delivery goes smoothly because if there are serious problems, she might be at a loss to communicate with her doctors and nurses. Silva is profoundly deaf, and, for months, Baptist administrators have refused to provide her with an American sign language interpreter, she says.
- Justice Department Supports Native Americans In Child Welfare Case – Residential schools may be a thing of the past, but state efforts to remove aboriginal children from their tribes has continued nonetheless.
The Justice Department has weighed in on a class-action lawsuit in South Dakota pitting Native American tribes against state officials, and come down resoundingly in support of tribes.
It’s the first time the department has intervened in a federal district court case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law meant to keep Native American families together. The department filed an amicus brief in the case concluding that the state is violating the rights of Native American parents.
In the suit, tribes claim the state is failing to abide by the 36-year-old federal law, removing hundreds of Indian children from their families in court hearings where parents are rarely allowed to speak, and that often last less than 60 seconds.
The children are then placed in foster care, where they may stay for months or years.
- The Williams Sisters Changed Tennis for the Better; Give Them Credit – I don’t really follow tennis, but I’ve always really liked Venus and Serena, for the most part, and don’t feel like they get the respect they deserve. I also found this piece on the young black tennis player Taylor Townsend and how US Tennis gave her a ton of grief for her weight despite her showing herself to be a perfectly competitive player.
You know that thing called the Tiger Effect? In addition to upgrades in prize money and ratings, which happened, it was assumed that he would open a gateway to other people of color. Although there are invigorated programs to teach golf to children of all backgrounds, it appears the Tiger Effect didn’t really come to pass.
But it did in tennis, and that’s thanks to the Williams sisters.
So why aren’t the Williams sisters afforded one-tenth of the reverence that Woods generates among fans and the sport’s writers? They’ve upped the profile of women’s tennis and driven ratings just as much as Woods has over the years.
- Why I don’t care about deconverting believers – As an atheist who’d like to glue Richard Dawkins’ mouth shut, this blog post really sums up how I feel about trying to discourage belief in gods. I’m far less concerned with what people think than with what people do, and I know too many fundamentally decent believers to feel like it’s worth my time to tell them they’re doing it wrong.
Even if I were to change someone’s beliefs about God, what guarantee do I have that I would change their beliefs about sexual minorities or gender norms or anything else that I care about? There is no shortage of regressive atheists, and we need to look no further than what’s currently the most popular atheist channel on YouTube.
No matter how I square it, there’s almost always something more effective and useful for me to do than to convince someone that God isn’t real.
This is all very much to say that I don’t take deconverting believers to be a productive use of my time or this blog’s time, and that’s why we won’t do it. There are more than enough atheist blogs trying out there already, many of them at this very network, and the world won’t miss out on one more.