A few months ago I spoke with writer John McDermott of MEL Magazine about living with student debt. Recently, we had another brief chat about what it’s like marrying into debt. Read the final article here at MEL Magazine.
Recently the New York Times wrote this great article about all of the problems in Donald Trump’s White House©, as evidenced by a continued torrent of leaks and gossip from disenchanted staffers. The article included this colorful line: “When Mr. Trump is not watching television in his bathrobe or on his phone reaching out to old campaign hands and advisers, he will sometimes set off to explore the unfamiliar surroundings of his new home [emphasis added.]”
Normally that’d be throwaway color, but Trump’s skin is thinner than Betsy DeVos’ resume, so of course, as the leader of the free world, he felt slighted by the bathrobe comment, and forced Sean Spicer to go on the record for him during the White House’s daily comedy hour: “I don’t think the president wears a bathrobe, and definitely doesn’t own one.”
Fortunately, I saved my favorite picture of Führer Trump for this very moment:
And then I tweeted about it, and then Buzzfeed included it in its wrap-up of sick Twitter burns. So, after all these years, I’ve finally made it to the big time.
Today I posted the third installment of my series on leaving Christianity, “Signs and wonders at Pine Valley Bible Church.” I started writing this well before last week’s national disaster of Donald Trump’s nomination, thanks in large part to the type of people I met at “Pine Valley,” a pseudonym for a rural Wisconsin church I went to as a teenager. There was a revival on at Pine Valley, with all the exorcisms, elations and infighting you’d expect.
Head over to the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy to check out my new article on the ethics of “lifelogging,” the technology you voluntarily choose to record and archive everything you do.
Some people have the blessing of a photographic memory, and lifelogging technologies have the potential to bring average people up to at least that level. But when the process of remembering is mediated, along with the memories themselves, whose memories are we actually collecting and accessing? What about when these memories can be hacked, altered or simply deleted? These questions are central to lifelogging technology. And as this technology eventually reaches a Malcolm Gladwell-style tipping point: If you can envision intellectual property lawyers and philosophers answering the same questions, you know you’re running into unexplored ethical territory.
Like most in my generation and my caste, I went into my 20s loaded with student debt. Some of it was mine and most of it was my wife’s. As partners, we’ve spent our entire 6+ years of marriage working our asses off to get out of the hole. We’ve worked overtime, through many weekends, and prioritized self-improvement over vacations and nights on the town. Anything to better our chances of living free.
We’ve had no financial help from our families or friends. No relief from agencies or corporations. We live in a 650-square-foot apartment, don’t own a car, and have held off having kids or owning property until we’re debt-free. We’re always busy, always working, always offering our first fruits to Sallie Mae, a goddess as unforgiving as Drano in your chicken soup.
Last week, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I spoke with writer John McDermott at MEL Magazine for his “Into the Black” series, which focuses on the experience of young debtors. The opportunity didn’t come with any accolades or awards, but was an experience to share my struggle – and potentially engage with others affected by the same.
A few years ago I was browsing the magazine racks at Quimby’s and came across Wolverine Farm’s Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac. The content ranged from creative to informative and I ended up writing an essay for them about my experience cycling in Chicago. The potholes, the asshole drivers, the expected civility.
Due to various complications, the publishers held off printing the issue. It’s been a couple of years and I thought it was dead, but I just got an email yesterday that the newest issue of Boneshaker is finally here! And it’s only $8 bucks. I can’t remember what I said in the essay, but here’s the blurb for the issue:
This is our longest and most complex edition to date! Inside, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo explains why the bike has always been his preferred method of travel. Tin House‘s Rob Spillman weighs in on broken bones and cycling fashion. Dan DeWeese wonders why there are no bikes in Blade Runner (and reviews the Globe Daily 1). Enjoy a swath of bicycle-themed poetry by Chris Dempsey, Claudia Reinhardt, Casey Fuller, Patrick Barron, Barry North, Amy Brunvand, and Stanley Noah. Maureen Foley concludes her epic comic series “Smidge and Space Go West,” while Mike Compton wraps up his ABC’s of cycling. Ben Weaver takes a moving bike and banjo journey, and Bike Commuter Betty bids you ado. Ever been trailed on your way home late at night? Kjerstin Johnson knows exactly how you feel. Itching to break free from your soul-crushing commute? Juliette Birch has been thinking about that, too. If you’re riding from D.C. to Pittsburgh like Adam Perry, or simply across Chicago like Benjamin van Loon, there’s something in the pages of this almanac for you.
I have a new article up at Loyola University’s Center for Digital Ethics & Policy exploring the ethics of big data and pre-crime monitoring. Think Minority Report, but without Tom Cruise.
Minority Report’s claims about free will could keep a philosophy class going for hours, but the real relevance of the film, as with any serious science fiction, is in its prophetic power. No, we don’t have superhuman psychic mutants, but we do have big data, and as early as 2005, some U.S. police departments were using predictive tech to effectively identify negative trends and reduce crime in certain cities, like Memphis and Minneapolis. But that was more than a decade ago. A lot has changed since then, and the evolutionary rate shows no sign of cessation. We’re more connected now, and more and more of our lives are being sent to the cloud. As a result, we’ve laid a strong groundwork for a total surveillance society.