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One person’s abortion story

So the SCOTUS struck down Roe v. Wade recently. Abortion rights are now up to the states. This is inhumane, in my opinion.

I have a lot more to say on it but lack both the time and the clarity of mind to articulate the injustice. In lieu of that, I wanted to record this post on LinkedIn, shared with me by Sam. I don’t love LinkedIn generally, but I think it is a hell of a brave place to share an abortion story.

Unfortunately, after an agonizing wait, both my blood tests and CVS (large needle to sample the placenta for abnormalities) confirmed a devastating chromosomal issue. If you have a strong constitution, feel free to look up Trisomy13 on Wikipedia. Median survival after birth is 12.5 days, and the prognosis is pretty awful beyond that. Neither my OB nor genetic counselor had ever had a patient continue with such a pregnancy, so I scheduled my termination.

There’s an important call out here. My life was NOT in danger. I simply cannot fathom being forced to have continued with this pregnancy, knowing all along that I would have to give birth to a child that would die. I would never judge someone else who chose that path, but the mental toll on me and my family – and the thought of suffering for the baby – it didn’t even register as a choice for me.

This is one person’s abortion story.

According to the report “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy” by the United Nations Population Fund published this year, it is likely that nearly half of of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended.

Her story is one among billions.


Related point: There is nothing in the Constitution preventing discrimination on the basis of one’s sex. The Equal Rights Amendment would fix this. It has already been ratified by 38 states and passed by both the House and the Senate. One of the only things holding it back is a minor clause in the introduction that it should have been passed within seven years. In my opinion, and in many others’, major legislation like this should take a long time. Seven years is a ridiculous limitation.

If you live in the US, write to your senators now and urge them to dissolve the time limit for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The House already did it in March of last year.

You can learn more about the Equal Rights Amendment on eracoalition.org.

Visit senate.gov to easily find your senators’ contact information.

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Hitting your creative stride in your 70s

Both Hokusai and Jack Butler Yeats hit their artistic strides in their 70s, their output just exploded at that point in their lives. How many other artists did the same? I can’t think of others, but surely many. Let me know.

Came across Yeats via this RHLSTP episode with Dara Ó Briain. Already knew about Hokusai but had no idea about the period of his life where he was most prolific, learned about that via this Great Art Explained episode.


Yes, almost immediately after posting this, Brian shared the book “On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain” by Edward W. Said. Another one for the reading list!

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Against cynicism

I’ve had a post languishing for years in my drafts folder, return to it every once in a while but never feel like it’s quite right. For one thing it feels way too long. It’s about cynicism, about how I feel like it’s one of the most toxic, pervasive things both on a very personal level and also when you look at society as a whole. When I re-read it, it feels too preachy, or starry-eyed, or whatever.

Anyway, Nick Cave replied to a fan back in April this year about this very topic. He said it all way, way better than I ever could.

Read Issue #190 of The Red Hand Files

A quote from his letter:

Unlike cynicism, hopefulness is hard-earned, makes demands upon us, and can often feel like the most indefensible and lonely place on Earth. Hopefulness is not a neutral position either. It is adversarial. It is the warrior emotion that can lay waste to cynicism.

Accompanying his letter is a photo of an artwork by Philip Guston. Guston was a self-taught Canadian American representational painter. He often explored dark themes in his work, including himself and his own mental health issues, using primarily a limited monochrome and pinky-red palette in his later work. A lot of his paintings are almost cartoon-like except for the very rough linework. Klansmen feature heavily in some of his most famous paintings. He deemed these self-portraits. They aren’t explicitly violent per se, but they are menacing. They depict the banality of evil, how it lurks inside.

The figure in the piece that Nick Cave chose has a hood, but it has no pointed peak. They have a slightly pained expression (hard to figure out how Guston achieved that with such minimal brushwork) and are criss-crossed with dotted lines through their head and torso as if they have been sewn back together over and over. There is vivid red smeared on the hood, a head wound.

It’s a good image choice.

I can’t figure out where it is from, reverse image search turns up nothing. Maybe it’s a detail. I’ll keep searching.

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First trip to Michigan

A large, iridescent bubble with a faint reflection of a house floating in front of a leafy green tree

We took B to the cottage for the first time. The weather was a bit grey and cool, but it turns out we were lucky. A huge storm ripped through right after we left which took down a tree and made it impossible to reach, also knocked out the power for two days. Followed by temps in the 90s, and B hates heat like that. So it worked out!

Lots of sitting on Great-Grandpa’s bench swing, massive bubbles, sunsets, good food, playing with balls bigger than he is. And we got two afternoons at the beach on the lake. Turns out he absolutely loves cold water. He would crawl up to it, be shocked by a small wave, and then hastily crawl away laughing his head off. And repeat, for 30 minutes. The only things that would distract him was trying to eat pebbles, and shoveling sand into his mouth.

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The best first birthday present

If you live in the US and want to give B🌱 a great first birthday present, the perfect present, here’s what you can do.

Use the link below to find your congress members using your zip code (to find your full nine-digit zip code, visit usps.com):

https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

Then use the contact links that show up and ask your congress members to enact a country-wide ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

It is such a basic, pragmatic step we could take to reduce deaths from these sorts of events.

There are many, many other factors that also contributed to this event, mental health chief among them, and those events absolutely need to be addressed. But had this 18 year old not been able to walk in to a shop on his birthday and buy such an incredibly high-powered weapon, more children and teachers would be alive. The event may not have happened at all. It is painfully, mind-numbingly simple.

When you’re done contacting your representatives and senators, tell your friends, colleagues, and family to do the same. Especially people that you think might be more conservative. You’d be surprised how many people agree about banning assault weapons. They just need a little encouragement to be vocal about it.

And then ask those people to do the exact same thing with everyone they know.

I am not looking forward to explaining what an active shooter drill is when B starts school.


This is a condensed version of the message I wrote to my representative and senators, in case it is useful.

There are many, many factors that contributed to the tragedy in Uvalde, mental health chief among them, and those events absolutely need to be addressed.

But banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines is the simplest and most pragmatic step we can take to avoid more death. It *must* be the priority.

Had this 18 year old not been able to walk in to a shop on his birthday and buy such an unnecessarily high-powered weapon, more children and teachers would be alive. The event may not have happened at all.

Please, I am begging you, do everything in your power to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Make the bill simple, inarguable, unavoidable, unassailable.

It is utterly shameful that Congress has not acted sooner. Make it happen.

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My custom bash prompt

This is my custom bash prompt, as defined in my profile (~/.bash_profile). It includes a custom character for the prompt, the path, and the Git branch name (if any). The whole thing is colorful to make it a bit easier to identify the prompt in a sea of characters.

When I’m working on this WordPress theme for example, it looks sort of like this (RSS readers, you’ll miss the colors):

~/sites/commonplace-wp-theme (v0.1.5)

To generate something else, try messing around with the Bash $PS1 Generator.

If you want to try something like this, do not delete the rest of your profile. Just add this at the top.

# Get the Git branch
parse_git_branch() {
  git branch 2> /dev/null | sed -e '/^[^*]/d' -e 's/* \(.*\)/ (\1)/'
}

# Custom bash prompt
# Includes custom character for the prompt, the path, and Git branch name. With colors!
# Source: kirsle.net/wizards/ps1.html
export PS1="\n\[$(tput bold)\]\[$(tput setaf 5)\]➜ \[$(tput setaf 6)\]\w\[$(tput setaf 3)\]\$(parse_git_branch) \[$(tput sgr0)\]"

Note: I got this from someone else at some point… I’m trying to figure out who but haven’t gotten to the bottom of it.

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Success does not mean forever

Success does not mean forever

***

Just because a thing doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean that it failed. It can mean that, but in sometimes things just come to a logical conclusion. Relationships, businesses, projects, hobbies. It’s easy to think that something ending = it has failed. But what a narrow worldview. Is it fear of change?

(This notion isn’t original, I wish I could remember where I came across it. It was definitely on Twitter.)