Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Virginia is Not for Lovers: Use and Abuse of Office to Discriminate

Guaranteed legal protection for LGBTQ college students, faculty, and staff in Virginia?

Despite existing non-discriminatory policies at the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities, the state’s head lawyer wants to pull the plug.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the three month-old Attorney General for Virginia, has officially asked the state’s public universities to end workplace policies protecting LGBT folks. The state’s colleges and universities have historically made decisions separate from the will of executive and legislative branches; Cuccinelli’s call to begin discriminating has been opposed by the state’s senate Democrats as well as the ACLU.

The AG’s conservative agenda has not been met with cheers and applause:

Cuccinelli’s move has dismayed students and faculty members. It suggests that Cuccinelli intends to take a harder line with the state’s university system, where liberal academics have long coexisted uneasily with state leaders in Richmond.

Higher education has often been a playing field for politicians with aggressive social agendas to enact (or attempt to enact) their individual mandates. Take a look at the debacle that is Florida’s statewide university system, for example, to see how a person in power (namely, Governor Jeb Bush) can wreak havoc on an entire university system.

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Filed under: social justice, virginia, , , , , , ,

College Makes You a…Gay Liberal

Up there at the University of Rochester, the boys are singing Taylor Swift a capella and producing music videos about boys falling in love. With other boys. This quick, endearing video about boy crushes will surely go viral.

It’s nice to see how the male a capella group, The Yellowjackets, shows a definitive, gay-accepting stance in their performance. And it’s funny how conservative ballyhoo the ways that more education equals more liberal viewpoints. The Yellowjackets are a case in point, promoting acceptance and love in its many forms.

Filed under: gay life, music, , , , , ,

Are You Good at Wayfinding?

Academics call it “graphic communication.” Maps and mapmakers like to think of it as “wayfinding systems.” The rest of us just think of it as “not getting lost.”

Who woulda thunk there were people studying the ins and outs of finding our way? At the University of Reading in the U.K., Paul Stiff has been studying the ways in which we sift information when giving directions, identifying the most crucial landmarks and providing beacons to know if we’ve gone too far. He finds beauty in the ephemeral nature of amateur mapmaking. “While most professional maps serve ‘countless numbers of people who have countless purposes,’ Stiff says, maps like these are ‘made for an audience of one.'”

In teaching my students about metaphor–the idea of it, not just the grammar tool–I like to refer to Bill Roorbach‘s explanation of signs. When driving to an intersection, an octagon hung on a metal pole at the corner is a universal symbol to put your foot on the brake. Sure, the white letters on a red background spell “STOP.” But what if we don’t read in English? If the color of the sign weren’t red? We’d still understand the meaning of this well-designed sign.

Over the next six weeks, Slate is publishing a series by Julia Turner called “The Secret Language of Signs,” exploring the importance of the physical markers we see everyday. It’s good stuff, writing filled with sharp analysis and what I love most: storytelling.

Slate is asking its readers to scan and send them your own hand-drawn maps, whether a trip to the supermarket or a guide to your own home. The maps they’re seeking are not the most detailed or gorgeous, but your possibly taken-for-granted maps that you drew on the back of a utility envelope. Show up the professionals with your own wayfinding skills here.

Filed under: maps, , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2010
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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