Take Home Exercise: Giving Back to Marriage Bigotry

Over at The Data Lounge, a recent post with a bright, new idea for those struggling with what to do in light of the push for gay marriage, and (more especially) the push back against it. They report from one gay NYC man who has just had enough:

I no longer recognize marriage. It’s a new thing I’m trying. Turns out it’s fun. Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend. She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband”, and I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.” The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,

“How’s your longtime companion Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”

Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs. Just replace the words husband, wife, spouse, or fiance with boyfriend, girlfriend, special friend, or longtime companion.

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What is Experimental Philosophy? The Video!

In this short video, Eugene Mirman gives an answer to this question that takes you through one of the best-known “experiments” in the newly developing field of experimental philosophy–one developed by Josh Knobe, whom you can see at Bloggingheads.TV at length in conversation with John Horgan about experimental philosophy back in February.

[Sorry, no captions for this video but there is a transcript below the cut. Despite all the developments on captioning at the "front end" via Youtube, we still haven't found a systematic way to caption that we can afford, time or money-wise, at the "back end". But we're still working on it. ...]

Manypetunias asked way back when–How is experimental philosophy different from social psychology?–a question you might have after watching this video. Short answer: mostly because the sorts of intuitions that it probes, at least in cases like these, are those that feature in classic philosophical issues (in this case, moral responsibility). X-phi-ers, despite burning the armchair of traditional philosophical analysis, typically are still interested in the questions as their more sedentary predecessors. They just don’t want to sit down!

h/t to Experimental Philosophy, and also congratulations on a vid that will promote interest in the question: What is x-phil?.

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Disabled? Watch This And You Won’t Think So.

Further proof that people categorized as “disabled” can be amazingly talented and easily surpass the skills of those categorized as “abled”. Continue reading

YouTube Supporting and Promoting Captioning

Image of "What's New" section on the front page of YouTube.  It features a link for "Captioning & Subtitles"

Image of the "What's New" section from the front page of YouTube.com. Featured first is a link to "Captions and Subtitles". Below is a link to "Video Annotations".

On a recent visit to YouTube I was pleased to notice that the ability of the site to support captioning or subtitling is being promoted on the front page in a section titled “What’s New”.  Clicking on the link takes you to a page where you can learn about the captioning system in general; basically, how to attach captioning to videos that belong to you and how to turn captioning on for those videos that captioning has been provided for.

A link from this first page will take you to a page with details about adding and editing captions.  It is here that you find out YouTube will allow you to attach captions to your video in any format you would like; however, they only promise to fully support captions formatted as Continue reading

Genetically Engineered Machines

The IGEM logo, machine-like letteringMegablogstar (and What Sorts member) Gregor Wolbring has recently returned from the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, and has an interesting report over at his fortnightly column The Choice is Yours on IGEM 2008 that begins

IGEM is a competition that tries to address the question: “Can simple biological systems be built from standard, interchangeable parts and operated in living cells? Or is biology simply too complicated to be engineered in this way?” Its broader goals include:

  • enabling the systematic engineering of biology;
  • promoting the open and transparent development of tools for engineering biology; and
  • helping to construct a society that can productively apply biological technology.

Gregor also supervised a team from Calgary in this year’s competition, and has broader reflections on IGEM and it’s connection to human practices (or lack thereof). You can get the whole shebang from Gregor right here.

Freeheld, Laurel Hester, and Garden State Equality

h/t WoC PhD; sorry no captioning for any videos in this post.

Laurel Hester was a long-serving police officer whose final years of her life were spent fighting for the rights that heterosexual couples can take for granted. Cynthia Wade’s award-winning documentary, Freeheld, tells that story.

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Talking about cognitive disability and moral philosophy

As readers of this blog will know, in September there was a relatively large, special topic conference called “Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy”, organized by Eva Kittay and Licia Carlson (and I think Sophia Wong), held in New York City.  In some recent comments here, Shelley Tremain has said the following about the roster of speakers for this conference, particularly the inclusion of Peter Singer and Jeff McMahan:

I would like to know when disability theorists, activists, and our allies came to regard it as beneficial, indeed, laudable, to have Peter Singer and Jeff McMahan speak about disabled people, especially cognitively disabled people. … Giving this kind of attention to nondisabled white, male bioethicists whose awful, dominant views about disabled people are in the public domain (and quite familiar to many of us) serves to further marginalize the work of authors in Disability Studies who are attempting to unravel the misunderstandings and prejudices the views of the former entail for concrete human beings; it marginalizes disabled theorists; it marginalizes feminist disability theorists.

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History of Medicine Days 2009 undergraduate and early postgraduate call for papers

If there are undergraduates or early postgraduate who have suitable stuff you should apply. I can be the Preceptor if you need one.

History of Medicine Days (HMD)

The History of Medicine Days are an annual two-day Nation-wide conference held at the University of Calgary in which undergraduate students from across Canada give 10-minute presentations on the history of medicine. The topic is broadly understood such as to include areas from Classic Studies, the History of Public Health, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Human Biology, Neuroscience, etc. Prizes are awarded and there are associated receptions and an awards banquet.

Each student is matched with a faculty preceptor who provides guidance for the preparation of the History of Medicine Days presentation and acts as a discussant and mentor for the student.

It is assumed and required that every student presentation provides some, even slight, original research attempt, new methodological perspective on the topic, and/or visibly critical discussion following from each presenter’s engagement with his or her topic. It is certainly possible and encouraged that 2-4 students present work on a related topic which may be included in panel form. An adequate critical discussant will then be identified by the conference organizers to comment on such related papers.

The History of Medicine Days Conference (HMDs) is held on a Friday/Saturday March 6 and Saturday, March 7

here the link

It has a keynote speaker

The Keynote Speaker, Professor Garland Allan (WUSL) will be co-sponsored by the Darwin Lecture Series, the History Department, and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. This exciting talk on eugenics, genetics and evolutionary medicine will be delivered on Friday, March 6, 2009 at 12:00 noon followed by an in-depth discussion. Please stay tuned for further details.

What Sorts of Actors Can There Be?

(Image description: Actor Jason Maza sits in a grassy area on the set of “Special People” in a black manual wheelchair.   He is wearing a navy hoodie with white collar and blue jeans and is holding a film camera on his lap. )

Director’s Anger over Comedy Film’s “Disability” Warning (from The Independent)

By Paul Bignell
Sunday, November 16, 2008

Disabled actors last night condemned a move by British film censors to label a new film featuring a disabled cast with a warning stating that the film contains “disability themes”.  Special People, a British, feature-length film with a cast  of mainly disabled actors playing disabled characters, was given the label by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) along with a 12A rating.  The director, Justin Edgar, is angry about the “unnecessary” labelling. “I was really surprised to get this certificate,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why a film censor thought it was necessary to make people aware that the film had disabled people in it.”

The movie – a comedy which follows a film-maker on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair-users about film-making – has garnered awards and been selected for festivals around the world.  Read the entire article at the link below:


Acknowledgment to Beth Haller @ media dis and dat

CFP: Canadian Disability Studies Association, 6th Annual Conference

Capital D: Disability as Nation, Ground, Territory

May 25-26, 2009

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Deadline: December 1, 2008

Papers, panels, workshops, roundtables, performances, posters and other presentations, addressing the grounds—academic disciplines, reasoning, frontiers, cultures, sites—of understanding and advancing of disability studies in Canada and internationally:

• What has been and is now the status of the Canadian citizen with Disability?

• How may Canada provide ground for a unique concept of disability, both individual and cultural?

• How may Disability provide ground for a unique concept of Canada as nation?

• Do academic territories, including methods of discipline, capitalise ideas of Disability, for better or worse?

• What are the grounds for the establishment of disability studies programs and departments across Canada?

• Does Canada’s multiculturalism permit space for Disability culture, individually, socially, or politically?

• How do physical sites—bodies, buildings, environments—create grounds and territories of Disability?

The Proposal Submission Form can be downloaded at



Chris Bell on living with AIDS and teaching about HIV/AIDS in Disability Studies

 Close-up photo of Chris Bell from the shoulders up.  He is wearing a midnight blue t-shirt, rectangular glasses, silver hoop earrings, and has a thin moustache/goatee.  There are books on the shelves of bookcases in the background.

“This is not a death sentence”

by Rebekah Jones

When Chris Bell found out he was HIV-positive, he went home, sat down and watched “Law and Order.”  He didn’t cry or lash out at his partner who infected him, he said. He watched television and started his homework.  “I had papers to grade,” said Bell, a post-doctorate research fellow and soon-to-be professor at Syracuse University.  Eleven years after his diagnosis, at 6-foot-2 and 135 pounds, Bell’s emaciated figure proves how the infection plagues his body. His medicine makes him tired and sick, and he keeps losing weight.

Bell isn’t doing well health wise, but he’s pushing forward. He’s learned too much in his 34 years of living to just quit – giving up isn’t in him, he said.  “This is not a death sentence; we’re all dying,” Bell said. “Nothing has changed but my level of awareness.”  While the virus overwhelms his body, Bell continues to focus on what’s important to him: being an activist and an educator.

Bell’s first class as a professor at SU, CFE 600 (Disability, AIDS & U.S. Culture) starting Spring 2009, will be the only class at SU focused specifically on HIV and disability studies in American culture. His class will examine, critique and aim to redefine the way people think about disabled persons and HIV/AIDS patients.  Read the entire story here: http://media.www.dailyorange.com/media/storage/paper522/news/2008/11/12/Feature/this-Is.Not.A.Death.Sentence-3538354.shtml

Acknowledgement to Beth Haller at Media dis and dat

Keith Olbermann on California’s Proposition 8

We’ve been under the cone of silence over the many propositions passed as part of the US election season. But this one pretty much speaks for itself (though apologies that I have not found a version of this that is captioned–if anyone knows of one, let me know and I’ll link to that version.)

h/t Feministe

Festival of Ideas

Edmonton’s inaugural Festival of Ideas, a 4-day smorgasbord of events for the mind, kicks off today with a conversation with Salman Rushdie. The Festival is a “signature event” for the University of Alberta’s 100th anniversary, and is book-ended by the Rushdie conversation tonight and a dialogue between E. O. Wilson and David Schindler on Sunday. In between there are talks on genocide, on child soldiers, and on biodiversity and climate change, as well as the world premier of the film Fear of Images. You can see the schedule of events, and get more information, right here.

One thing that you’ll notice, if you scoot over, Continue reading

Cognitive Disability Conference: Podcasts Available

This painting of a sunflower was used by the conference on their website and in other materials.  It was painted by artist Guido Mote who suffers from a cognitive disability as a result of head trauma.  The style is vaguely reminiscent of Van Gogh.

This painting of a sunflower was used by the conference on their website and in other materials. It was painted by artist Guido Mote who suffers from a cognitive disability as a result of head trauma. The style is vaguely reminiscent of Van Gogh. (Note that "suffers" is used here to fully reflect the summary given on the original site. It is not meant to perpetuate questionalble terminology, only draw attention to it. Click the image for context.)

At the end of September, Stony Brook University hosted a conference titled Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy.  This three day event featured prominent philosophers from a wide range of disciplines, including Peter Singer, Ian Hacking, and Martha Nussbaum.  Fortunately, for anyone unable to attend (and anyone who attended but whose memory is less than perfect), it appears as though ALL of the lectures and panel discussions were recorded and have since been released on the conference website as podcasts all of which can be accessed from this page.

see here

Community Based Research: New Workshop and Class at the U of A

CUP Banner: CUP Symbol on the left (Blue half-circle opening upwards on the left with a black dot inside with the letters CUP underneath) and the words "Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families" on the right. The background is a faded close-up of flowers.

The University of Alberta is offering two community based research related events that may be of interest to those who are part of the What Sorts Community.  Why?  Much of the research that our members participate in is directly related to the experiences of actual people in actual communities and one of our major non-research related goals is strengthening ties between universities and the people and organizations that exist around them.

Please note that registration deadlines for the following events are close at hand! Continue reading

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: The Body as a Site of Discrimination

The Body as a Site of Discrimination: A Multidisciplinary, Multimedia Online Journal

The Body as a Site of Discrimination will be an interactive, educational, multi-disciplinary, high quality, critical, and cutting edge online journal. This creative project will fulfill the degree requirements for two Master’s of Social Work students at SFSU.  This is a call for submissions to explore the following themes, but other interpretations are also encouraged.

– Disability and Ableism
– Fatphobia or Size Discrimination
– Ageism
– Racism
– Gender Discrimination, transphobia, non-conforming gender identities, sexual assault, sexism, and reproductive rights Continue reading

Caregivers or Keepers?

Many people with disabilities depend on caregivers in various essential areas of their lives. At their best caregiving relationships meet the needs of both the giver and receiver of care. The story of “Aunt Dot” in Rock Hill, South Carolina provides a powerful demonstration of the dedication of many caregivers. Her young niece, who had cerebral palsy and was cognitively impaired, had gone to live with Dot for awhile, so her niece could access a better school program. Decades later in 2008, her then 65-year-old niece was still living with  Aunt Dot, when an intruder broke into their home. Her niece was raped and killed, and 86-year-old Aunt Dot was beaten and stabbed and stabbed trying to defend her. Dot lived for another 6 months, and her only regret was that she couldn’t protect her niece. (see icad for more on this case).

Two stories in yesterday’s news illustrate the other extreme. A front-page investigative report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells the story of a woman living in a Washington residential facility for people with developmental disabilities who was raped and impregnated by a nursing assistant.  WFFA.com in Dallas provides security video of a school bus driver choking a student with developmental disabilities. 

Such cases are not rare. Some caregivers are candidates for sainthood, some are genuine monsters. Both of the extremes perpetuate stereotypes. Most are probably pretty ordinary people. Our stereotypes of caregivers interact strongly with our stereotypes of people with disabilities, particularly of those who depend on caregivers. What is clear is that understanding the lives of people with disabilities requires understanding their relationships with other people in their lives, and for many people with disabilities, relationships with caregivers are an important part of their lives, for better or for worse.

Woogle Works

The Os in Woogle are little stick people in wheelchairs.

Woogle Works Logo: The O's in "Woogle" are little stick people in wheelchairs.

Woogle Works is a very cool blog by designer Wai Lam Wong that focuses heavily on design ideas for people who are either permanently or temporarily disabled.  Some of the niftier gadgets include a device for opening bottles with a single hand and a computer mouse that is dual-purpose in the sense that it fits both the hand of a man with a differently shaped right hand and the right hands of his family.  If you’d like to see what another blogger has to say about this blog, look here.

Institute on Disabilities at Temple University presents Nirmala Erevelles and others

Institute on Disabilities at Temple University Presents
“Unspeakable Offenses: Untangling Race and Disability in
Discourses of Intersectionality”
Nirmala Erevelles
Associate Professor of Education & Instructional Leadership in
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies
University of Alabama

Wednesday, November 19
Noon – 1:30 p.m.
President’s Conference Suite, 1810 Liacouras Walk
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA

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Transformative Stories

Transformative Stories: Crip and Queer Art as Activism
1-2pm, Friday, November 21
Tory 1-91, University of Alberta

Join four crip/queer artists as they present their work, and discuss its relationship to activism, theory & personal experience.


A reading by Eli Clare – Visiting poet, essayist, activist and author of Exile and Pride and The Marrow’s Telling.

Spoken word by Lucas Crawford – Poet, performance artist, and PhD student in U of A’s Department of English & Film Studies.

Screening of G.I.M.P. Boot Camp, a short satirical film by Danielle Peers and Melisa Brittain – Danielle is an activist, Paralympian, and Master’s student in U of A’s Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation. Melisa is a drag artist and instructor in U of A’s Department of English & Film Studies.

Everyone welcome! Continue reading