What About the Farm Kids?

A while back, I was looking at college admission trends for the Atlantic. I learned that Columbia, for example, admitted more kids from China than the entire Midwest. I can’t remember if that finding made it through the editing process.

Well, the NYT wrote an article about the lack of representation of rural kids in colleges.

To college administrators, rural students, many of them the first in their families to attend college, have become the new underrepresented minority. In their aim to shape leaders and provide access to the disadvantaged, higher education experts have been recognizing that these students bring valuable experiences and viewpoints to campuses that don’t typically attract agriculture majors. Rural students, said Adam Sapp, admissions director at Pomona College, have “a different understanding of complicated political and social issues,” offering “one more lens through which to see a problem.”

Can’t Keep Up

I’m can’t keep up. Every hour, the automatic news alerts or the twitterfeed sends me some new notice of hell-in-a-handbasket. It’s insanity. Now, Mexico is backing of a meeting with Donald Trump, because of the wall craziness. KellyAnne Conway was doing her truth bending exercises on the Today Show this morning. I would love to put a blog post announcing ever new twist in politics, but I can’t. I am barely keeping my own shit together at the moment. (All the college stuff has pushed parenting responsibilities into hyperdrive. Plus new work opportunities. Plus my usual volunteer stuff for special needs kids.)

I did an article for the Atlantic last week that required a million rewrites, because change is happening too rapidly. And then it hardly mattered, because the news was old by the time the article was finished. It still did well thanks to attention from Autism Speaks, but it wasn’t on the Most Popular list for very long. Donald Trump controls the media agenda right now and he keeps doing new things every hour or so.

Pipeline. The Wall. Nukes. The NEA. ACA. Every minute, it’s something new.

Politics isn’t supposed to work this way.

And then the bureaucrats respond. And what about Melania? Do we feel sorry for her?

I don’t even have time to find the hyperlinks for those articles.

Pink Ears

I didn’t join my friends at the march in New York City or DC this weekend, because we had a weekend getaway planned. I did monitor everyone’s progress on Facebook though, while sitting with a mound of disguarded snow gear at the lodge in the Poconos. It was easier for me to the guardian of the crap than venture out on the slopes. It’s been 25 years since I was last on skis, and it was too much trouble to take lessons, while everyone else was going in different directions. When I got home, I got more feedback on the event.

Everyone said it was remarkably positive and inclusive. Everybody had their own reasons for being there. Some were there for the environment, others for women’s issues, others for immigration. I wonder if anyone has crunched the numbers to find out what the biggest issues were.

It was also freed from the usual activist crap that turns off average people. There wasn’t any of theory/jargon/self-hatred/ naval-gazing that has weighed down other protests. There was any one group of professionals looking to score points and congratulate themselves.

It was a beginner’s protest. A whole lot of attendees  never attended a protest before. That’s great. It was a different kind of populism from Trump’s brand of populism.

At one point during the weekend, Steve and I left the boys in the room and went down to the bar for a drink. The large TV over the bar was showing the protests on FOX. Our bartender started complaining about all the violence. (There wasn’t any, but whatever.) She said, all those people should just give Trump a chance. We just smiled. We were in rural Pennsylvania afterall.

Keeping Chaos at Bay

Things are wacky in the home of Apt. 11D right now. I had a 1,700 word article on special ed that had to be totally rejiggered after Betsy DeVos opened her trap in the Senate this week. We’re supposed to leave for our first weekend ski trip at 3:00 today, but Jonah told us yesterday that he has a mandatory track meet down at the Jersey shore on Saturday morning. So, we’re going to have to leave him alone in the house on a Friday night (ugh!), where he’ll have to drive to the meet on his own and then drive two hours to the ski resort after the race. We don’t have ski gloves yet. We haven’t packed. The laundry isn’t done. My insomnia flared up this week again, because I haven’t gotten enough exercise this month. There’s a nest of little animals in the attic. I don’t have shampoo.

And the country has elected a totally insane individual to run the country. Who knows what’s going to happen to healthcare, education, taxes, foreign relations? I’m assuming the answer is nothing good.

My facebook page is scary. Too much emotion. Too much tension. I’ve never seen anything like this.

At the same time, it doesn’t do anyone any good to panic. I’m managing my own chaos with lists and deep breaths. We need to handle the new presidency in the same way. As grown ups.

Poor Hillary.

(I’ll keep adding to this post throughout the day.)

Does It Matter if Barron Has Autism?

Joe Scarborough has a big article in the Wash Post about how he and Mika have been attacked for socializing with DT. He says that the media are hypocrites, because they all hung out with Obama.

Whatever. Talk about that if you like. My attention was drawn to one small paragraph in the middle.

At 7:30 p.m., Mika and I were guided by security through a sea of tuxedos and evening gowns, were introduced to a 10-year-old boy by PEOTUS, and quickly made our way upstairs. The topic for Sunday night’s discussion was intended to involve an interview we wanted to conduct before the inauguration, but personal topics came up, as they do in many such meetings we have with public officials. Mika and I have known Trump for more than a decade, so we caught up on each other’s families and we asked how his son was adapting to the big changes happening all around him. Without getting into personal details, the entire family is nonplussed by the transition process and is taking most things in stride, other than the relentless media glare that exasperates every presidential family.

So, I’ve been participating in some whispered conversations with journalists and some UUMC parents in New York City, who have kids with autism. They all swear that Barron has autism and that Milania has turned their apartment into a huge ABA therapy zone for Barron. I was dissmissive of these rumors at first, but some pretty good sources made me rethink things.

Well, if Barron does have autism, does it matter? On a personal level, I have to admit that it makes me slighly less hateful of DT, because I’m irrationally protective of any parent of an autistic kid. It’s going to make the transition to DC more difficult for the family, and I feel very badly for Barron and Melania for having to deal with the spotlight. My guess is that they’ll never really move to Washington, and we’ll have a president that commutes between DC and NYC for four years.

On a policy level, it might make a difference for other families of autistic kids, if DT listens to the right people. If he listens to the anti-Vaxxers, then we’re all screwed. Here comes a measles epidemic! If he listens to the scientists, then we’re going to just get more research on the causes of autism and little funding for existing children and adults with autism. If he listens to families — the sane, rational families – then we might get more funding for special education, more housing and job training for adults, and more insurance coverage for outside therapies.

I hope he listens to the right people.

The Media and Donald Trump

Last week, there were a small storm on Twitter. Two journalists who criticized Donald Trump were targeted on Twitter by his supporters. I suppose it’s old news, but let me just recap. Julia Ioffe was let go from Politico a week before her contract was up for an inappropriate tweet. The anti-semitic comments on her twitterfeed were truly frightening. Another journalist was set a flashing gif that caused him to have an epileptic fit.

Among journalists, there is a strong fear that the next four years will mean more personal attacks and reprisals against the whole industry. Freedom of the press is in jeopardy.

But at the same time, Donald Trump is good for business. People want to read articles about him. Any articles – positive or negative – about him go to the top of the charts. Those same newspapers and magazines are watching numbers bump up and are making big ticket hires, because they anticipate good business in the next year.

Trump is a master of the media. He knows that his actions gather attention. The whole country has become a reality show with him as the star.

Today’s news is all about the electoral college. What will they do? (Nothing) The last couple of weeks were all about his picks for the cabinet. When have we ever paid such close attention to this process before? (Never)

He has orchestrated the pick process perfectly with people going up in the elevator to his office. It’s drama, dammit. And people love the drama.

Meanwhile, we have the Russian involvement in the election. More drama. And that Kellyann snake doing her evasion magic on the morning news shows.

Politics should not be drama. It’s serious, boring business. How do we make sure that people get health insurance? The details are horribly boring, even though the outcomes are so important. How do we keep people from getting massacred in Aleppo? There aren’t clear answers. Instead, we get a photo-op with Kanye.

It’s the media’s job to not jump at the easy hits and sensational headlines. We have to stop letting Donald Trump use us. And it’s up to the readers to demand facts and figures.

UPDATE: This New York Times story.

What Will Help Working-Class Americans?

If we’re looking a silver lining in the whole Trump election business, then we have to say that it’s a good thing that the media is shining a light on the problems of working class Americans. They have been forgotten. Whole sections of the country are struggling. I’ve seen it when visiting family in Cleveland (here and here).

So, now that the focus is on this group of people, the debate has begun about what to do to help. Should we bring back the labor unions? Do we need stronger boards and trade restrictions? Can a president really do anything to turn back the clock?

It’s a good debate, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing how this whole thing plays out.