Don’t mess with big bird

Charles Blow, NY Times op-ed columnist, on Romney’s plans to cut PBS:

And, for me, it’s bigger than Big Bird. It’s almost impossible to overstate how instrumental PBS has been in my development and instruction.

We were poor. My mother couldn’t afford day care, and I didn’t go to preschool. My great-uncle took care of me all day. I could watch one hour of television: PBS.

When I was preparing for college and took the ACT, there were harder reading passages toward the back of the test. Many had scientific themes — themes we hadn’t covered at my tiny high school in my rural town. But I could follow the passages’ meanings because I had watched innumerable nature shows on PBS.

I never went to art or design school. In college, I was an English major before switching to mass communications. Still, I went on to become the design director of The New York Times and the art director of National Geographic magazine.

That was, in part, because I had a natural gift for it (thanks mom and dad and whatever gods there may be), but it’s also because I spent endless hours watching art programs on PBS. (Bob Ross, with his awesome Afro, snow-capped mountains and “magic white,” will live on forever in my memory.)

I don’t really expect Mitt Romney to understand the value of something like PBS to people, like me, who grew up in poor, rural areas and went to small schools. These are places with no museums or preschools or after-school educational programs. There wasn’t money for travel or to pay tutors.

I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS.


Things do get better sometimes

A friend of the blog wrote to tell us the following: “In April 2012, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered the government of Ontario to change its requirements for trans* persons’ ability to change their sex/gender on their birth certificates. Amazingly, the government has fully acceded to the order, and released their revised requirements October 5th.

Here’s the link:

“Transsexual surgery” (whatever that means!) is no longer required. Instead, an applicant merely needs to sign the requisite documents, pay the processing fee(s), and supply a supporting document, which could come from a psychologist or physician. This brings the policy in line with the Ontario Driver’s License requirements. (

This is a massive step forward. Hopefully, other provinces will follow suit. It would be great if people could write the relevant ministers in their province of residence or birth (for Canadians, obviously) asking for them to update their own requirements.”

Thanks RM.