Photo of the day

Okay, this strikes me as somewhat bizarre, but as a red-headed male (and a dad to three of them), how could I not share this:

It began with an exhibition of photographs in east London last year. Now, following an exhibition in New York, Thomas Knights’ series of images of red-haired men has become a large-scale coffee-table book, Red Hot 100, as he continues his one-man campaign to rebrand ginger males as objects of desire.

Peter Cairns

The Red Hot project grew out of Knights’ personal experience as a red-haired male. “I hated myself for being ginger,” he told the Telegraph last year. “I was utterly ashamed of it. As soon as I left school I dyed it and kept dyeing it for 10 years.” Eventually he got tired of the way his ginger hair was perceived and decided to do something about it. “I was calculated with Red Hot. I treated it like a branding exercise and the ginger male was the client.”

Above: Peter Cairns

Picture: Thomas Knights

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American eugenics?

As the father of a child with a genetic disorder who loves his kid dearly, but often laments how damn hard it can be, I really loved this post from Drum (here’s the whole thing):

Andrew Sullivan points me to a piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty bemoaning the “troubling persistence” of eugenic thought in America. But Dougherty’s evidence for this is tissue-paper thin, especially in his credulous treatment of the high abortion rate among women with Down syndrome babies:

In an article that explores this sympathetically, Alison Piepmeier writes:

Repeatedly women told me that they ended the pregnancy not because they wanted a “perfect child” (as one woman said, “I don’t know what ‘perfect child’ even means”) but because they recognized that the world is a difficult place for people with intellectual disabilities.  [emphasis in Drum]

If the numbers on abortion and Down syndrome are even remotely accurate, the birth of a Down baby is something already against the norm. As medical costs are more and more socialized, it is hard to see how the stigma attached to “choosing” to carry a Down syndrome child to term will not increase. Why choose to burden the health system this way? Instead of neighbors straightforwardly admiring parents for the burden they bear with a disabled child, society is made up of taxpayers who will roll their eyes at the irresponsible breeder, who is costing them a mint in “unnecessary” medical treatment and learning specialists at school. Why condemn a child to a “life like that,” they will wonder.

Oh please. These women were lying. The reason they had abortions is because raising a Down syndrome child is a tremendous amount of work and, for many people, not very rewarding. But that sounds shallow and selfish, so they resorted instead to an excuse that sounds a little more caring. [emphasis mine] Far from being afraid of eye-rolling neighbors who disapprove of carrying the baby to term because it might lead to higher tax rates, they’re explicitly trying to avoid the ostracism of neighbors who would think poorly of them for aborting a child just because it’s a lot of work to raise.

This has nothing to do with eugenic thought one way or the other. The more prosaic truth is simpler: Most of us aren’t saints, and given a choice, we’d rather have a child without Down syndrome. You can approve or disapprove of this as you will, but that’s all that’s going on here.

Actually, I think Drum is wrong about the not very rewarding part, but it sure is a tremendous amount of work.  Especially on the days when your child pulls down on the curtains and flushes the toothbrushes down the toilet just for fun.  In many ways, the world is more difficult for my oldest, somewhat socially awkward, son.  The metaphor I use is that he is a elliptical peg in a world of round holes so everybody expect him to fit.  Alex is a triangle peg so nobody actually expects him to fit at all, which means the world is often not that difficult a place.  At least not while he’s still a child.

Quick hits (part I)

1) A reminder from Jonathan Ladd that, joking aside, this Secret Service fiasco is serious stuff.

2) A nice list of ten things that would improve our food system far more than labeling GMO’s (I bet I could come up with more than 10).

3) Vox on how college are doing diversity all wrong:

The key here is this: colleges need to get more specific about who they want to help, and why. Universities’ commitment to “diversity”  is important, but it’s a poor substitute for a policy of equal access for the disadvantaged because “diverse” students and disadvantaged students are not necessarily one and the same. Several studies have shown that beneficiaries of diversity-based admissions policies typically hail from the most well-educated and economically successful segments of “diverse” communities. That’s why a diversity strategy will not help universities reclaim their mission of fostering socio-economic mobility.

4) Jeffrey Toobin on the Hobby Lobby legacy (Ginsburg was right).

5) A woman leaves her 7-year old home alone under very safe circumstances and writes about it.  Everybody freaks out.  I’m with her.

6) A Federal Appeals court decided that Texas’ new abortion law does present an “undue burden” to women’s Constitutional right to abortion because 1/6 is not a “large fraction” of women.  Nuts!

7) Clay Shirky, famed professor of “New Media” is banning laptops in his classes.  And based on the scientific evidence, he is definitely right to do so.  I started with this policy this semester.  The post nicely lays out the rationale.

8) Thanks to Mike for sharing this awesome link about “good old days” syndrome.

9) Vox interviews Matt Bai on politicians, their affairs, and media coverage and how Gary Rice changed it all.  Really fascinating stuff.

10) The head of the Oklahoma highway patrol suggests that women who want to avoid being sexually assaulted by the Oklahoma highway patrol need to make sure they obey the law.  Seriously.

11) Brazil’s lessons for us (and Hillary Clinton) on what doesn’t work for dealing with inequality.

12) Very nice Dave Roberts piece on polarization (and it’s asymmetry).

13) Yes, a Florida police officer did taser a woman in the back as she walked away from him.  And it’s on video.  And he’s currently on paid leave.

14) The gender politics of pockets (the new Iphone is too damn big).

15) Seriously, we need to get about everybody who is not planning on having a baby anytime soon on a LARC.

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