Virginia

To me the state of Virginia seemed like a southern extension of Washington, the civil war notwithstanding. I assumed it was suburbia for DC with really bad traffic. Then Aaron moved here. And Jenny. And Jen. So we came here to see them. After all what’s there to see in Virginia? We have been pleasantly surprised.

We stayed near Jen for the first few days. We were in Falmouth, a small town just north of Fredericksburg. We stayed in the Basil Gordon house on the banks of the Rappahannock, built in 1820 by its namesake, the first known millionaire in America. Our next door neighbor was the Moncure Conway house, a historic home and hospital during the civil war. Slave holding was common when these houses were built. Moncure Conway, though a Virginian, was an abolitionist and is credited with taking 30 slaves from his parents’ home to their freedom in Ohio. Chatham manor was up the hill from us. George Washington’s childhood home was a mile away. Walt Whitman was here. So were Jefferson and Robert E Lee. Over 15,000 soldiers were killed around here during the civil war. History seeps out of everywhere. The brick walls of the spooky basement of the Basil Gordon house talk to us. The winery where Jo and Jen and I went for a glass of wine was in the field where Stonewall Jackson’s arm was amputated a few days before his death. My morning walk in Pratt park takes me through battlefields. Virginia is in the center of American revolutionary and civil war history, like Panipat and Jallianwala Bagh rolled into one place.

We spent a few evenings happily eating and drinking and chatting with Jen and her new family. Thankfully all the kids got along, well enough to even plan future vacations. On our last day in Falmouth we visited our neighbor on the west side, the Belmont. This is the estate and studio of Gari Melchers, a famous American artist who I had not heard of till then. He seemed to have lived a successful happy life as an artist, producing highly regarded art. As we toured his 27 acre estate and his beautiful home, preserved like it looked in the 1920’s, Vivian and Evan wondered if it was necessary to be poor and starving or to cut off one’s ear to achieve fame in the art world.

The docent who showed us around Melchers’ studio asked us where we were visiting from. When we replied Texas, she asked us what was wrong with people there. “They think the vaccine is putting microchips into them”, she laughed. Virginians are making fun on how backward we are in Texas. Mr. Abbott, the world is laughing at your science. Or atleast a silver haired Virginian lady is.

They were on the wrong side of history once. But as I said earlier, we were pleasantly surprised by the Virginia of today. When you walk any place in the world, there is a possibility that you’ll exchange a greeting with a fellow walker, especially if there is eye contact. In Austin you could walk the three mile short loop around Town Lake and expect to say a few hello’s or hi’s or nod a few times. People are busily doing their own thing. Most have earbuds sticking out of their ears and are aurally occupied, like Vivian always is when I try to talk to her in the car. In Virginia, during my morning walks, the “good morning” rate was 100%. A quick hi won’t suffice. Everyone says good morning to each other, even when they pass you on a bicycle traveling in the same direction as you. I’m sure that doesn’t happen everywhere in the state all the time. But it was true during my short data collection period of four mornings in one particular park. In my unscientific study around the world, that is unprecedented.

We aren’t moving to Virginia tomorrow. But we will be happy to visit this beautiful state with her friendly people again.

DC

Jo, Jen, Evan and I drove up to DC on a Sunday morning. We started with a s’more donut for Evan and ended with a very nice lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill just a block away from the Casa Blanca. In between we walked. We wandered past Ford’s Theater and the people waiting outside Lincoln’s Waffle Shop, along the brutalist exterior of the FBI Hoover building, past the neoclassical doorways of the Robert Kennedy Justice building and up to the Natural History museum where people were already lining up to get in.

We stepped out on to the grass and the huge open space of the Mall with the Washington Monument to the west and the Capitol to the east and that’s when Evan realized that there was quite a bit of walking in his near future. I think this picture sums it up pretty well.

It was hot and muggy in the sun but there was a breeze and in the shade it felt okay. We stopped at the Washington Monument, WW II memorial, the Korean War memorial (it was closed due to construction), the Vietnam memorial, and the Lincoln memorial. At the WW II memorial, we stood in front of the Freedom Wall with its 4048 gold stars, each marking 100 American deaths. Evan was surprised to note on the plaque next to the wall that more Americans had lost their lives in the Civil War than in WW II.

I stood by Evan as he read the full inscription of the Gettysburg Address to the right of the seated Lincoln. I remembered standing right there and reading it three decades ago.

We walked around the Ellipse to the front of the White House, while Jo scootered up on a Lime. A smattering of Cuban protesters wearing “patria y vida” t-shirts were waving Cuban flags. Evan flashed a smile for the camera and then whined “how much longer?” The tall fences from the Trump era are gone. But in his memory we threw up in our mouths a little bit. And there endeth our trip to DC.

Pocono’s

I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which state the Pocono mountains were in two weeks ago. Then Jo planned for us to meet our friends from Austin who vacation there every year. It wasn’t too far from where we were going to be wandering anyways. We are finding that everything in the north east is about 5 hours away. So we sallied forth from Wakefield after saying goodbye to Alu and Michelle, had lunch near the Yale campus in New Haven, stopped at Vassar near Poughkeepsie, crossed the Hudson, angled south to cross the Delaware near the borders of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and arrived at the sleepy village of Pocono Pines that afternoon. It sits at a grand elevation of 1,800 feet but we aren’t going to be like those Englishmen who went up a hill but came down a mountain.

The area around the Pocono’s are lovely. Everywhere you look there’s a lake and a creek and a cascade. We hiked a bit, played some pickle ball, rafted down a very muddy and full Delaware, and had a nice dinner at our friend’s parents with a total of 14 people which would have been unimaginable a few months ago (and may soon be again).

Vivian and Evan and Alu and I had watched Monty Python back in Martha’s Vineyard one evening. Since then Evan occasionally rides like a knight, trotting along while banging two rocks together to the tempo of hoofs beating. At a park in the Pocono’s Evan and Vivian did that and you can see Vivian “dismounting” here.

Pocono’s.

Yuk – now I have boogers on my finger.

Martha’s Vineyard

When the mile high sheets of ice from the recent ice age melted about 18,000 years ago, they left behind piles of rock and dirt that they had scraped and pushed along and pressed down upon. The furthest of these are called the terminal moraines, which Evan fondly calls “terminal morons”. The island of Martha’s Vineyard, separated by about five miles of sea from Cape Cod, is one of these glacial terminal moraines. In geological terms, the island is a newborn. The oldest rocks ever found on earth are almost four and half billion years old by comparison. Martha’s Vineyard was formed after humans first migrated from Asia to the Americas across the glacial ice bridges over what is today the Bering sea. Eventually the descendants of those early people settled the island. They are the Wampanoags. Then 420 years ago an English explorer “found” the island and named it after his mother-in-law or his daughter (apparently were both Martha). Here is a photo of the end of the terminal moraines near the Gay Head lighthouse (that’s the real name) at the south western end of the island on a foggy afternoon.

Our trip to Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t what we had planned. Michelle and Jo couldn’t make it, both taking care of urgent family matters. So it was Alu and me the the kids in a beautiful six bedroom Victorian in Oak Bluffs. We spread out over the house and its immaculate grounds and I let the kids sleep in and go crazy on their devices. Some days I didn’t see them till late afternoon. Martha’s Vineyard and particularly the town of Oak Bluffs isn’t like Austin. Black kids flew kites in the parks alongside white families. Black men and women sunbathed on the beaches and rode bicycles and rocked on porches that wrapped around beachside bungalows. The house we stayed at may have been owned by a Black family – the beautiful art on the walls depicted Blacks. The strange thing about all this is that we noticed it right away. It is different from “normal”. When people say that American history and identity is one in which whiteness is normalized, this is what they mean.

When I did see the kids once a while we walked a lot of beaches and played a short game of 2 v 2 soccer and ate ice cream and oohed and aahed at the island’s lovely homes and gardens and made good memories. One afternoon we left the perfectly sunny town of Oak Bluffs and by the time we arrived at Katama beach on the southern end of the island 15 minutes later, we were engulfed in fog. The breakers crashed on the beach but we couldn’t see them rolling in. Evan and Vivian found it a bit eerie but they chased each other around in the fog.

Uncertainty

The morning we picked Evan up from his summer camp a few weeks ago I asked him if he ran out of books to read which he usually does. He said he had but that he was reading them all again. Most of what he reads is of the minecraft fiction crap genre. I was about to snidely comment why anyone would read something like that twice when he said “Dad, I reread The Disappearing Spoon. I understand the Bose-Einstein condensate”. “So what is it?” I asked. “You know what Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle says. If you keep cooling down matter, then near absolute zero the atoms almost stop moving and therefore almost have no uncertainty related to their momentum. So the atoms increase the uncertainty of their position by appearing bigger and overlapping into one another.”

Bose predicted this in 1920. A couple of scientists got the Nobel Prize in 2001 for experimentally proving this. Twenty years later my eleven year explains it to me. When I was eleven, I hadn’t even heard of the Bose-Einstein condensate. Kids today are smarter. They have a much better understanding of science. Yesterday, we walked around the Harvard campus. Vivian and Evan played between the giant sycamore trees while Jo and I strolled along the banks of the Charles. People in the buildings around us and in places like this around the world toil away to advance our understanding of our world, even if it takes one hundred years for that knowledge to trickle down to into our consciousness.

I am sitting in an airbnb in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is gently raining outside. Yesterday Alu drove up from Wakefield. We dropped Jo off at the airport for a quick trip to Nebraska. The kids are keeping themselves busy indoors today. The average waiter in this town is smarter and better educated than me. It feels like a good place to be. Then I come across a story in Fox News. It was a rant from someone called Bob Schneider to his 940,000 twitter followers about Covid vaccines. I’m quoting from Fox. “Just say no… And keep saying no… Over half of the U.S. population is continuing to say no to this unapproved experimental gene therapy! ‘My body, my choice!'”, adding the hashtag, “2nd Amendment Is For This.”

It isn’t just that the kids at Harvard and MIT are smarter than Bob. It’s that Bob, bless his heart, and I live in different Americas. Just like the four blind men who observe an elephant and they all arrive at different incorrect conclusions, Bob and I can no longer agree on the nation’s history or purpose. George Packer recently wrote about this in the Atlantic: How America Fractured into Four Parts. I find his thesis very interesting. His four Americas have nice names, but don’t be fooled. Each hides something ugly. Here is my synopsis, but you should read Packer’s article.

Free America is the remnants of Reagan’s America. In Free American the myths of the self-made man and the western pioneer are alive and well. In Free America we’re individuals. We have a chance to make it. Get government out of the way (but not in the case of women’s wombs). Cut taxes. Deregulate industry. All are welcome to pursue happiness. Cloaked in the language of individualism, Free America pulls back from public investment and common good. There is no glue to hold individuals together. Government is hollowed out. When Walmart and Amazon push mom and pop businesses out of main street and into bankruptcy and when global trade moves manufacturing jobs overseas, corporations benefit, communities die. In Free America the marketplace is the final arbitrator of value. Free America appeals to people who have already made it, even on the shoulders of their long departed great grandparents. Free America is the promised land.

I have lived in Free America and snagged a crumb or two with the blessings of Ayn Rand under the watchful eye of Bill Gates (the capitalist, not the communist vaccine guy) and Alan Greenspan.

Smart America is born from the democratization of higher education in post-war America. This is the America of college educated un-unionized professionals in technology, medicine, research, design, consulting, law, the media. They populate the ivory towers of higher education. They trust in globalism and the free flow of capital and people around the world which they believe will eventually benefit everyone. Smart America welcomes new ideas and a diversity of people and thought (up to a point). Smart America relishes yoga, sushi, espresso, crossfit, shopping at Whole Foods. Smart America is cosmopolitan and multicultural. Smart Americans could be from anywhere. Smart Americans are the meritocracy. In Smart America your skills alone determine your rewards. Smart Americans intermarry each other and raise their kids and do all they can to pass on their advantages to their children. In doing so they create a hierarchy just like the robber barons they replaced. A child today who is not from a family of college educated parents is almost as disadvantaged as he would have been 70 years ago.

I identify in multiple ways with the Smart America of Clinton and Obama. If the opportunities are truly equal, the results will be fair.

Real America is Sarah Palin’s America, hardworking religious patriots living in the mythical heartland, toiling away with their hands in factories and mills, growing our food, fighting our wars, fixing our cars, the salt of the earth. Real America is decent people who help their neighbors. Real America is white non-college educated Christians fucked over by free trade and immigration. In Real America experts and elites are full of shit and science is irrelevant. International organizations and treaties are bad. Real America is religious. Real America is proud. Real America is not open to new ideas. The identity politics of sex and idea of systemic racism are utter nonsense in Real America. God, guns, and liberty (of the Don’t Tread on Me type) come before equality, democracy, and even truth. Smart America who has no need for patriotism has yielded it to Real America who then clothed it in stark white Christian nationalism. But Real America is not just a rebellion against Smart America. Free America’s misadventures in Iraq, the financial crisis of 2008, and libertarianism have failed Real America. The bankers got bailouts. Real America got foreclosures. The only thing that trickles down is shit and opioids. Politicians since the ages have praised Real America. But Donald Trump’s insurrection finally gave Real America a way to participate in self-government.

My relationship with Real America is dubious. I fail to intersect along any of the three main dimensions. I’m non-white, college-educated, and non-Christian.

Just America is Packard’s fourth and final faction. Born of injustice that traces a direct line to the shame of America’s original sin of slavery (ignoring the other original sin of genocide for now), Just America is a young angry reactionary revolution. Just America is the fight, not the aspiration. Just America views us through the lens of race. Incremental change hasn’t worked. Rosa was supposed to have sat, Martin walked, and Barack ran, so we could all fly. Smart America didn’t fix anything. Instead, schools suck, prisons are overflowing, the police is rotten. Free American’s free-wheeling capitalism is marginalising communities and destroying the planet. Just America is in the lived experience of being alienated and subjugated by a dominating discriminating exploiting culture day after day after day. Just America is in finally saying enough. Just America is in the language and identity of oppressed groups. Equity, not equality is the answer. Reason, objectivity, rationality, and individual freedom are oppressing powers. Just America sees nothing of value to save in America, nothing to redeem. Just America defunds and topples and riots.

I am hopeful of Just America. But more than that I am scared of Just America and its new forms of discrimination, new hierarchies of hate, new structures of separation.

Will the four persons who have visual impairment, out of their own free will, in the quest for the bigger truth, and because God wants it so, and also for justice for past blindnesses, just get their fucking shit together so that they can see the elephant. Or is Heisenberg on to something bigger than the mere secrets of the universe. Is uncertainty all that there is?

Doing our Maine Thing

We spent our last few days in Rhode Island at Alu and Michelle’s the usual way. Walks along the beach and bike trails and long breakfasts and dinners and mid day beers and a trip to Jamestown with a lovely hike on the rocky coast to the Beavertail lighthouse and 4th of July fireworks on Narragansett Bay. On Monday night we drove north through Boston to avoid the traffic next morning. On Tuesday we stopped for a seafood lunch at a restaurant the very end of the pier in the lovely little town of Rockland in Maine. Then we continued towards Down East, which Jo informed us is the what this remote eastern end of Maine is called. After a grocery stop at Ellsworth we rolled into our airbnb on the Schoodic peninsula. I opened a bottle of wine and we lit a fire and watched the kids play on the rocks by the sea. And we wondered again why we chose to live our adult lives in a landlocked backyard with a view of a bakery when we could be doing this.

We set an alarm for 5:45am and drove dutifully next morning to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. The sun had risen an hour ago but the kids’ brains hadn’t. We had foregone the more excruciating but apparently more rewarding experience of waking up at 3am to go see the sun rise from the top of the mountain, instead arriving there at 7:30am, which almost felt like noon! Here we are sharing a morning family hug on the mountain with views of the north pole behind us. No one told me that we weren’t making funny faces for this selfie.

Acadia is beautiful. I’ve been waiting to see this park since I was 12 and the LIFE/Time book on Acadia arrived by book post at my dad’s library. Jo planned out our day at the park and warned us that it would be really really busy. The guide books had essentially told us that there was no point in going to the park between 8am and 5pm. We were ready for mayhem. It turns out that the guides must not get out to places that are actually crowded. We had a great day at the park, stopped for a quick meal at a crepe place in the harbor at Bar Harbor, and returned home, fulfilled. We have a week-long pass for the park, but I think we will explore our local surroundings instead.

Every nook along the craggy Down East coastline hides a delightful tiny village and a working lobster harbor. I can get used to the the rise and fall of the tides and seaweed covered rocky coves and mirror-like miles of bays dotted with millions of lobster trap buoys. Vivian and I tried dulse – a deep fried crispy seaweed with a strong aftertaste that goes well with a bitter IPA. But we haven’t yet found pickled wrinkles – a type of sea snail – not even at its namesake, the Pickled Wrinkle which serves pizza and burgers instead. Lobster fishing is a cottage industry here. Every other house has a wall of lobster pots along the driveway. You can see families on a wharf tying up the pots and loading them onto their boats. From our backyard we can spot the boats and hear the distant deep chug of marine engines as people tend to their pots.

Yesterday Jo found us a nice hike inland. We hiked up the aspirationally named Schoodic Mountain that rises up all of 1069 feet. The path led us through moss covered forests and rocky granite slopes to amazing views from the top. The hills on the horizon you see behind Evan and Vivian’s head in this photo from the top of Schoodic Mountain is the Acadia peninsula and the largest one is Cadillac Mountain. On the way down we grazed on wild blueberries and then walked down to Schoodic Beach (why look any further when you’ve got a good name) to meet Jo who had found a comfortable spot to relax by the lake. Evan and I were happy to wade in to the cool refreshing water but Vivian jumped in for a swim.

This morning the fog has rolled in. I can see a few hundred yards into the bay after which the sea and the sky turn an indistinct milky white. From the sounds of the motors, the lobster boats are still doing there thing out there. We are waiting for tropical storm Elsa. Starting out as an eddy of wind in a thermal over the Sahara desert, she has made her way across the open Atlantic ocean, past Jamaica and Cuba and Florida, up the east coast and New York and Alu and Michelle’s home in Rhode Island, sending down deluges along the way. She will arrive here this afternoon and dump a couple of inches of rain on Down East. In a day and a half she will have continued along the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and cross the Labrador sea and wander past Greenland to finally dissolve into thin air near the Arctic. As we seek out nature in remote places, I take a moment to appreciate the journey of this little bit of atmospheric turbulence and marvel that humans are like fleas on the back of fleas on the back of fleas on a dog’s back. While we have accidentally stumbled on to the ability to fuck with nature, we are in awe and wonder.

I Am

Vivian and Evan are nerds so we have nerdy jokes. And possibly none is nerdier than the one about René Descartes walking into a bar. After he has had a few the bartender asks “Do you want another one?”. René responsibly responds “I think not”. And poof, he disappears.

René famously said “I think, therefore I am” translated from French and then Latin into these pithy five words in English. When I first heard the line as a kid I took it to mean that because I think I exist. I thought thinking a necessary and sufficient condition for existence. Years later I learned that Descartes’ reasoning was more nuanced. He said that we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.

So I am born of doubt. I identify as me. My identity is generated from within, but also imposed by people around me, my childhood, my family, my community, my co-workers, my neighbors, my political cohort, my country, my culture, the media I consume. I am a husband, a dad, an engineer, an entrepreneur, a friend, a neighbor, an Indian, an American, a liberal, a global citizen, a geek, an art lover, a hiker, a sailor, a soccer enthusiast, a cook, and hundred other identities, some of which are thrust upon me, like “a person of color”, a legal immigrant, a tech bro, a boomer.

The other day a friend, a Gen X white cis male (enough identity labels?) said that he identified as an attack helicopter. We laughed. That was cool. Why didn’t I think of that? Should I say that I identify as a race car or an SR-71 or a Beneteau 43. Too late. I am a mediocre copycat.

We were discussing gender identity. I have been groomed, though not to her satisfaction, by Vivian on the proper use of pronouns. My feeble jokes about grammar have been swept aside and my LinkedIn profile now lists my prefered pronouns, though “He/Him” is surely the most boring pair. Vivian deals with the concept of gender fluidity with the ease of one who is growing up in an environment with fewer prejudices. In the Age of Identity, gender, even most recalcitrant of categories is falling. We of the skinny jeans generation and older keep finding readblocks, but if I’m receptive enough, I find myself being led into wide open meadows to explore new ideas about these matters. Not all of them will stick, but it is too early to stop looking. Besides, at Vivian’s graduation, she wanted her “super power” to be announced as open-minded. I take some minor credit for the fourteen years of her life that led to that. How can I fall short now?

We were discussing the story of the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie following in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling. In the frothy surf of gender fluidity and identity politics there is still the question of categories, just different ones. Are trans-women women? Adichie and Rowling have questioned that. They have been thought to seek the benefits of womanhood only for those born with wombs. If this is all you read about this subject, I must add that it isn’t that they are transphobic. Rowling has spoken and acted with sympathy about the horrors of high rates of suicide and assault that plague the trans community. But Adichie and Rowling have been labeled trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). In the leftist progressive world that’s like branding someone an uber douchebag.

Back at home I googled “I identify as an attack helicopter”.

It turns out that the meme of “I identify as an attack helicopter” had landed like a ton of horseshit a few years back. Here is the original meme:

I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter. Ever since I was a boy I dreamed of soaring over the oilfields dropping hot sticky loads on disgusting foreigners. People say to me that a person being a helicopter is Impossible and I’m fucking retarded but I don’t care, I’m beautiful. I’m having a plastic surgeon install rotary blades, 30 mm cannons and AMG-114 Hellfire missiles on my body. From now on I want you guys to call me “Apache” and respect my right to kill from above and kill needlessly. If you can’t accept me you’re a heliphobe and need to check your vehicle privilege. Thank you for being so understanding.

It makes fun of people identifying as belonging to a gender different from the sex of their birth. Coming out must require immense courage. The attack helicopter meme is a joke and I’m up for a good laugh most of the time. But this meme has become pervasive enough that it crept into the consciousness of my Gen X white cis male friend who surely does not have a transphobic bone in his body but who is now inadvertently a part of the cruel joke.

I dug deeper into google (you can’t stop after just one rabbit hole). On January 1 2020, a short story with the title “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” was published in the Hugo award winning Clarksworld SF magazine by an unknown author, Isabel Fall. It received critical acclaim as a fresh new work of science fiction. But soon enough it faced a tsunami of backlash in defence of the LGBTQ+ community. The most common sentiment was that the story was hurtful. It took a painful meme and used it as a weapon against the trans community.

My identity shapes my thoughts. If I write a poem or paint a picture, will you judge it in the vacuum of your value system or do you need my identity to give you a context within which you can declare that you like it? If I write an otherwise acceptable story about a poor Indian girl without living the experiences of being a poor Indian girl, am I doing something unethical? Does that determine how you receive my story? Am I of the wrong gender to tell her story? Am I Indian enough? Was I poor enough? Was Jeanine Cummins not brown enough to write American Dirt? But surely wasn’t Ishiguro knighted and awarded the Nobel Prize for his most English of books, The Remains of the Day? Back in the late 80’s I was moved by the movie and his book. Between the time I saw the movie and read the book I learned that the author was born in Nagasaki and moved to England as a child. That he, a first generation Japanese immigrant (identity alert), could live inside the head of his aging English butler protagonist blew my twenty-five year old mind. It increased my appreciation of his writing.

Nobody knew much about Isabel Fall’s identity. There was no context. Just her story to speak for itself. By the time I was googling attack helicopters, it had been a year and six months since the publication of the story but all this was boiling over and people outside the circles that care most about these issues were beginning to hear and add their voices to the conversation. There were stories in mainstream publications like the Atlantic and Vox. The Atlantic story’s title, The Talented Victim Is Not the Point, made me think about my reaction to reading Ishiguro’s book thirty years ago. I had liked the story on it’s own but the context of the author’s identity had added to my pleasure. Just as surely, the same sentiment can do the opposite.

Isabel Fall’s story was dragged through the mud. “She” must surely be a hateful male who wrote badly about things he knew nothing about with an intent to hurt or hoax. When you’ve been hurt over and over it isn’t an unreasonable reaction. But the author’s identity shouldn’t be the point. While there is nothing unusual about people disagreeing on the merits of a work of art, two different discussions morphed into one. How good is the story? Does the author have the moral authority to write it? In the anonymous free-for-all ugly world of comment threads judgement was passed that the story sucked because the author did not have the moral authority to write it. Isabel Fall contacted the magazine to retract the story 13 days after its publication. Once it was removed it is hard to find now. I did read it. I found it fascinating from my comfortable cis male dominion.

In the still unfolding story about the story, it turns out that the author who identifies as a woman was hoping to co-opt the attack-helicopter meme into the trans-friendly universe. Instead the world hurled acid filled bottles at the author’s identity while they were transitioning.

Vivian has been encouraged to apply for a certain youth literary recognition. Should her work be be judged on its merit? Will her work be judged on who she is? Descartes was on to something when he concluded that to exist is to doubt. But to doubt is to reason. And to reason is to seek clarity. Didn’t Yoda say that?

[https://medium.com/the-brane/a-scientists-courage-70eab5825063 for this cartoon and an interesting read on a different but related topic]