Tag Archives: MacArthur Foundation

Thanksgiving 2014

Debbie says:

It’s a hard day to write a Thanksgiving post. Our hearts and our thoughts are with the Brown family, the people of Ferguson, and dark-skinned people throughout the United States. Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  I’m not a religious person, but that quotation always resonates with me, and rarely more strongly than now.

And, at the same time, there are things to be thankful for, in the world, in the United States, and in each of our lives. Here are a few that caught our eyes in the course of the year.

bechdel_jen
Alison Bechdel, who made her splash with the brilliant long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and went on to write graphic memoirs about her father (Fun Home) and her mother (Are You My Mother?) won a Macarthur “genius” grant.

In October, Germany made college tuition free for everyone–including people from other countries.

In the U.S., gay marriage is legal in 35 states, pending in nine more, legal-with-court-challenges-pending in six more, and recognized from other states in Missouri. Sixty-four percent of Americans live in states where they can marry a person of the gender they prefer. More than 25 states which accept gay marriage now did not allow it in 2013.

Even in such a bad election year for progressives, the minimum wage made huge strides, being raised in four states and many municipalities, including my own city of Oakland.

Polio is very much on the decline, with only parts of three countries throughout the world being at significant risk, another strain seems to have been eradicated. Wild poliovirus type 2 was officially declared gone in 1999 and no cases of wild poliovirus type 3 have been reported since November 2012 from Nigeria. What’s more, the evidence is mounting that the global polio eradication effort is making it easier to tackle other infectious diseases, including Ebola.

We are finally getting some traction in getting antibiotics out of the American food chain, particularly with this news from the country’s largest chicken producer.

He didn’t start it this year, but 2014 is the year that people began really noticing and celebrating Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who figured out how to bring affordable sanitary pads to the women of India, starting with his wife, and has consistently maintained his commitment to having women produce the pads themselves and keep the profits at home, rather than selling out to big corporations.

And where but the Netherlands would people start using ocean thermal to heat their town, and especially the town’s poorest residents?

As always, we’ll take Thanksgiving weekend off to eat good food and relax with our families (blood and chosen). We hope you are doing the same.

Thanksgiving 2010

Laurie and Debbie say:

We keep having difficult years, and yet there are always important things to appreciate, be thankful for, and celebrate.

Last year at this time, a national health care bill had passed in the house and was being debated in the Senate. Now (for all its limitations) we have the first national health care law ever in the United States, and early provisions are in place and doing good. The most recent changes (as of September) include requiring insurers to provide health care to children with pre-existing conditions, requiring that customers have a chance to appeal denied claims to an independent reviewer, and allowing people with insurance to go to the nearest emergency room without being penalized by their health care company. There’s lots more at the link.

The next two are documented here, and we were tempted to include more from that site. Click the link on a day when you need encouragement.

In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP “purchasing power parity”). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. Of course, ten percent is ten percent too many, but 42% is a lot worse. This shows that all the effort and energy that has been poured into world poverty is having an effect.

Access to safe drinking water is also improving. The industrialized world has had nearly 100% access for decades, and the developing world is catching up: In 1970, only 30% of people in developing nations had access to safe water, 71% in 1990, 79% in 2000 and 84% in 2004. The UN estimates that by 2030, 98% of the world’s population will have access to potable water. Wow!

As our own Marlene blogged here some weeks ago, the Obama administration has been reassuringly transpositive overall. Just one example from her post: transpeople can now get passports in their identified gender whether or not they have had genital surgery.

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner and social justice activist Aung San Suu Kyi finally was let out of house arrest this month!

Everyone will tell you that the U.S. elections were a huge victory for conservatives, tea party types, and Republicans, but it’s not as true as it looks. Not only California, but just about all of the American west, including Nevada, Colorado, and Washington, rejected the short-sighted and often fraudulent claims of the right and elected or re-elected liberals and progressives. Even less noted is the fact that more than half of Tea Party-identified candidates lost their races.

In what was often not a good year for the environment, the Obama Administration kept its promises at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks. As a result, the ban on commercial whaling will stay in force.

Enormous advances are being made in the science of antimatter. CERN in Switzerland has trapped “a sizable amount” of antihydrogen. Scientists describe this as a key step in understanding why matter is the stuff of the universe and antimatter is so rare. Maybe not everyone agrees, but we really like it that this is a huge scientific discovery without any known practical applications.

Despite naysayers and warnings everywhere, South Africa hosted a wonderful soccer World Cup, which ran smoothly and brought delight to millions and victory to Germany.

And our very favorite TV director, David Simon (The Wire, Treme) won a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his work.

Have a great holiday! We’ll be back early next week.