Think of the Children — In the New York Times, Gabriela Herman talks to sons and daughters of gay and lesiban couples to see what marriage equality means to them.
My mom is gay. But it took me a long time to say those words out loud.
She came out nearly 20 years ago when I was in high school. My parents soon separated, and eventually, she married her longtime partner in one of Massachusetts’ first legal unions. It was a raw and difficult time. I hardly spoke to her for a year while I studied abroad. It felt like a fact that needed to be hidden, especially among my prep–school classmates. The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family.
Five years ago, at age 29, I embarked on a project to meet, photograph and interview people with a similar story. I had never encountered anyone else raised by a gay parent.
My sister directed me to Colage, an organization that supports people with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents. Danielle Silber, who has six parents and who had become an organizer for the group, invited me to her East Village apartment one night. Her living room floor was filled with young people each telling their own family’s “coming out” story. Since that night, I’ve documented the stories of dozens of children and met many more. Each portrait and interview has become, in an unexpected way, my own therapy session.
The Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling soon that could make same-sex marriage legal in every state. In the past, when confronting this subject, the justices have pondered the impact on children. In 2013, during oral arguments on same-sex marriage in California, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wondered about the “some 40,000 children in California” who “live with same-sex parents.” The justice asked: “The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”
The lawyer defending the ban replied, “On that specific question, Your Honor, there simply is no data.”
The studies may be sparse, but the stories are plentiful.
In my interviews, I met Ilana, whose mom unintentionally came out to everyone at her daughter’s Sweet 16 party. And Zach, who found himself compelled to defend his two moms in front of an Iowa House committee. And Kerry, who was raised as an evangelical Christian and who felt she needed to “save” her mom.
As we talked, we recalled having to juggle silence and isolation. Needing to defend our families on the playground, at church and during holiday gatherings. Some aspect of each story resonated with my experience and helped chip away at my own sense of solitude.
We — the children of gay and lesbian parents — are not hypotheticals. While my experience was difficult, I am hopeful that won’t be the case for the next generation. This inequality will fade, and my future children will wonder what the fuss was about.
Hillary Clinton Goes Populist, Almost — John Cassidy in The New Yorker on Ms. Clinton’s appeal to the people at her launch rally yesterday.
If there was ever any doubt that Hillary Clinton was going to run a populist Presidential campaign, she dispelled it on Saturday with her speech on Roosevelt Island. Seeking to move beyond the controversies surrounding her family’s charitable foundation and her deleted e-mails, she spoke about the great disjuncture in the modern U.S. economy, and portrayed herself as an indefatigable battler for ordinary Americans.
The best part of the speech came toward the end, when Clinton said, “Well, I may not be the youngest candidate in this race. But I will be the youngest woman President in the history of the United States!” According to her staff, it was a line she picked up from someone at a campaign event in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, and it brought loud cheers from her supporters, some of whom had traveled from as far as California to attend the rally.
But the guts of the address, delivered from a H-shaped stage erected in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which opened in 2012, came earlier. “You see corporations making record profits, with C.E.O.s making record pay, but your paychecks have barely budged,” Clinton said. “While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top twenty-five hedge-fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined. And often paying a lower tax rate. So, you have to wonder, ‘When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When?’ ”
Clinton went on, “Prosperity can’t be just for C.E.O.s and hedge-fund managers. Democracy can’t be just for billionaires and corporations. Prosperity and democracy are part of your basic bargain, too. You brought our country back. Now it’s time—your time—to secure the gains and move ahead.”
Had someone on Clinton’s staff been reading the speeches of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and purloining bits of them? Not necessarily. The line about twenty-five hedge-fund managers making more than all the kindergarten teachers in the country was actually delivered by President Obama a few weeks ago. But, in placing C.E.O.s and hedge-fund managers center stage, and comparing their outsized remuneration and avarice to the tribulations of ordinary working people, Clinton was acknowledging not just the economic realities of modern America but the fact that the center of gravity in her party has shifted.
“I’m running to make our economy work for you and for every American,” she said, singling out “factory workers and food servers who stand on their feet all day … nurses who work the night shift … truckers who drive for hours … small-business owners who took a risk. For everyone who’s ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out.”
In promising, prior to Saturday’s speech, to end mass incarceration, expand voting rights, and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, Clinton had already shifted to the left on issues that are major concerns to key elements of the modern Democratic coalition. Until now, though, she hadn’t said very much about the issues of wage stagnation, inequality, and corporate piggery, which progressives like Sanders, Warren, and Mayor Bill de Blasio (a conspicuous absentee from Saturday’s rally) have seized upon. Rhetorically, at least, Clinton answered calls for her to make clear where she stood on these issues: the middle of an article by Robert Reich or Joseph Stiglitz, or so it seemed.
“Our country’s challenges didn’t begin with the Great Recession, and they won’t end with the recovery,” she said, continuing,
Advances in technology and the rise of global trade have created whole new areas of economic activity and opened new markets for our exports, but they have also displaced jobs and undercut wages for millions of Americans. The financial industry and many multinational corporations have created huge wealth for a few by focussing too much on short-term profit and too little on long-term value—too much on complex trading schemes and stock buybacks, too little on investments in new businesses, jobs, and fair compensation. Our political system is so paralyzed by gridlock and dysfunction that most Americans have lost confidence that anything can actually get done. And they’ve lost trust in the ability of both government and big business to change course.
There remains, of course, the question of what Clinton intends to do about these evils. She said that she would encourage companies to invest for the long term, change the tax code so that it “rewards hard work and investments here at home, not quick trades or stashing profits overseas,” and “give new incentives to companies that give their employees a fair share of the profits their hard work earns.” All of these may be worthwhile policies, but it’s hard to see them having much impact on the great divide she had just identified.
Open Hailing Frequency — Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic reports that the internet in space is like dial-up.
Outer space has its perks. But super-speedy Internet is, so far, not one of them.Connection speeds from the International Space Station are “worse than what dial-up was like,” the astronaut Scott Kelly said on Twitter. (His colleague, Reid Wiseman, agrees: “We have a very slow internet connection, but reliable email,” he said back in February.)
Internet connectivity in space is structured around a network of tracking and data relay satellites—the same fleet of communications satellites that NASA engineers on the ground use to communicate with astronauts on the International Space Station. And it’s not like there’s any shortage of technology aboard. “They have laptop computers, including one in their personal sleeping quarters, which they can use for limited web access—email, tweeting, and news,” David Steitz, a spokesman for NASA, told me. “They also have tablets onboard they can use for various operational tasks, but also video conferences with family and friends on the ground.”
Astronauts first got Internet access five years ago, a move that NASA said would help improve their quality of life and help them feel less isolated in space.
What makes the connection so slow compared with broadband Internet speed on the ground? The easiest way to understand it is to consider the distance that data has to travel. When an astronaut clicks a link on a website in space, that request first travels 22,000 miles away from Earth, to a network of geosynchronous satellites far beyond the relatively close station. The satellites then send the signal down to a receiver on the ground below, which processes the request before returning the response along the same path.
Another way to think about the Internet connection from space is as “remote access to the Internet via a ground computer,” as NASA once explained. Or, as one Redditor put it in a discussion of the Internet connection: “The ping is quite high because of the satellite transmission to earth, but the bandwidth isn’t too terrible.” So the capacity for data transmission is robust, but the time it takes to transmit is—by an Earthling’s standards—pretty slow.
To get online, astronauts are plugging into the same channel that’s used for all kinds of commands to the International Space Station. “It’s the satellite constellation that we use for all of our spacecraft operations,” said Dan Huot, a spokesman for NASA. “It’s used for a number of things—not only their Internet access but any telemetry, basically any data from spacecraft systems going up to the station or coming down.”
So when the crew on the International Space Station wants to tweak the thermostat or boost its altitude, all of that work is done by an engineer on the ground. “We use our uplink through these satellites to send those commands,” Huot said, “and using the same channels, basically, we’ve enabled them with Internet access.”
A temperature change is a straightforward enough command that it’s basically “instantaneous,” Huot says. And while Internet speeds may be slower than that, they’re not exactly terrible. “They have decent speeds,” he said. “We have the capability to send up and down large-format video files. We’re sending gigs and gigs and gigs of video every single day just from live downlinks of the crews themselves. […] We have bandwidth to send that down to the ground without overloading the system.”
“In their off-duty time, they do have the capability to watch live television shows, and live sports,” Huot said. Astronauts even watch movies in space, though they aren’t relying on Netflix to do so. “The astronauts can pick, before they fly, anything they want to watch up there,” he said. “They actually have a projector and a screen they can use to watch movies.” (He declined to share which films are on the current rotation, but astronauts said they watchedGravityand Star Wars from space in recent months.) Livestream video is possible on the International Space Station—of course, there are limitations other than connection times. “It’s still basically a work network,” Huot said. “So it’s not totally unfiltered access to the Internet.”
Either way, Internet connectivity is likely to improve for astronauts as NASA makes the switch to laser-based systems. Already, engineers have transmitted a high-definition video from the International Space Station to the ground on a laser beam. It’s a “much faster” way to transmit data, NASA said in a demonstration, and one that hints at the “future of communications to and from space.”