The Sunrise Movement

I arrived at the address just as another young couple was knocking on the door.

“Are you here for the Sunrise thing too?” I asked.

They smiled but were spared response when a twenty-something guy opened the door, leaning out: “Sunrise Movement viewing party? Come on in.”

Sunrise is the young people’s climate action movement. It’s led and mostly peopled by high school and college students. The ask? Sweeping climate-based reform for the United States that transforms the economy.

Specifically, Sunrise is organizing for the Green New Deal. According to, the Green New Deal’s goals are:

To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
To create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
To invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
To secure clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all people of the United States for generations to come; and
To promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.

My take? It’s the first American reaction on the scale of the climate change crisis that’s being taken seriously.

I showed up at the viewing party to get an idea of the plans, the urgency, and the local community.

The viewing party was at somebody’s house– our host looked up to smile welcome as we came in, then returned to hooking up his laptop to the big screen.

The kitchen table was collecting snacks– veggies, homemade cookies, Tupperware containers appearing as guests began to fill the room. The three couches were full, so I set myself up on the floor, chatting with an older guy who’s also involved in transit reform.

Our viewing party was one of three in the immediate vicinity, and it was standing room only as people continued arriving– we were watching a video panel call, broadcast nationwide.

There were three speakers: Sunrise’s head of training, who took the call from her dorm room; one of the early leaders, who has deferred college for a year in order to devote his time to leading Sunrise in Massachusetts; and Naomi Klein, public intellectual and activist.

They spoke for an hour, describing the need to get climate change as a central topic of the presidential debates in the next election, outlining a plan of mounting pressure on representatives, and urging us to hold our reps accountable for our visions for a better future.

When the call stopped, the room buzzed with ideas: plans to visit offices, art builds for sit-ins, ways to reach out to each other. It’s electric to be in the room– an issue that has been stagnant for so long is finally seeing change, and we feel it.

Groups like this are meeting all around the country: making a plan, taking power. Strangers, introducing themselves to each other to make common cause.

Sunrise is a youth-led movement. They’ve grown from thirtyish college and high school students to a national movement of thousands. It’s Do Something in action, as people realize that the people are us, the moment is now.

If climate change scares you, if regressive politics frustrate you– this is an invitation. Political action looks like individuals, deciding to show up.

There isn’t a Sunrise hub yet in Needham, but there could be one. Go to and click the “Start a Hub” button– they’ll help you get started fighting back against climate change.

Democrats and Republicans: Asymmetric Politics

The Democratic and Republican Parties sit on opposite ends of an ideological spectrum, but on a deeper, more fundamental level, they are in fact quite similar. At least, this is what is commonly assumed.

The problem with this assumption is that it’s wrong. Beyond policies and partisanship, these two parties are radically different in what drives them and how they operate. Understanding how Democrats and Republicans differ beyond their overt partisan leanings is crucial to understanding modern American political workings.

In their pioneering book Asymmetric Politics, political scientists Matt Grossman and David Hopkins put forward two definitions for the Democratic and Republicans parties. They define the Republican Party as centered around ideology and the Democratic Party as centered around group interests.

Understanding both parties starts with looking at their voter demographics. The voting base for the Republican Party is primarily white, with strength largely coming from men, older voters, and/or the non-college-educated.

The key factor when understanding the deeper workings of the Republican Party is not its actual demographics but the level of homogeny among its voters. The majority of Republicans (70%) identify as conservative, and they all share a common conservative ideology: the broad ideas of limited government, traditional values, and opposition to liberalism. Yes, all of these ideas are quite fuzzy, but this makes it easier for conservatives to unite behind them.

This shared idea of conservatism is the primary driving force of the Republican Party. Ideological purity and ideological victory are the main goals of the party. The clearest manifestation of this is the persistent strength of the ultra-conservative Tea Party.

Arising in 2009 in opposition to Obama’s early economic policies, the group turned heads when they forced a government shutdown in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, or as it’s more commonly known, Obamacare. The goal of the Tea Party, both in this shutdown and in a wider frame, is to remain true to conservatism, especially on economic policy, at all costs. Compromise in any form is unacceptable to them. Even now, a decade later, the Tea Party is a potent force in the Republican Party.

In contrast to the Republican Party, the Democratic Party is defined by an increasingly diverse set of voters. Often referred to as “the Obama coalition,” the party is supported by various groups such as people of color, organized labor, the LGBTQ community, the youth, and increasingly women. These groups do not share a uniting liberal ideology the same way conservatives do (only 44% of Democrats identify as liberal); instead, the Democratic Party is driven by coalition politics. Each group has a distinct set of policy initiatives that they want to pass, and they work together to accomplish all of them. The Democratic Party serves as the framework that unites these disparate groups.
Whereas the Tea Party is a dominant force in the Republican Party, no similar group has emerged in the Democratic Party. Even with the election of Donald Trump and the increasing level of polarization in American politics, Democrats remain on average more moderate and less ideological than their Republican counterparts. A 70-year-old African-American Christian woman in Atlanta does not want the same thing as a 30-year-old white hipster in New York. A first generation Mexican-American in Dallas does not want the same thing as a gay Asian-American in Seattle.

The Democratic Party is not bound together ideologically the same way the Republican Party is. Rather than seeking a broad ideological victory, Democrats focus more on specific policy initiatives, working to accomplish them even if it means compromising. By working towards these specific policies, whether it is prison reform, banking regulations, or LGBTQ protections, Democrats hold together a diverse coalition.

This divide in the political parties did not appear from nothing. It was driven, in part, by American voters. When polled on broad ideological questions, the average American voter falls slightly to the right of center. However, when polled on specific policies, the average American voter falls slightly left of center. For example, most Americans believe that the size of government should be limited, but when asked about specific policies, they will often choose policies that expand the size of government, in direct contradiction to their previous answer. In order to remain electorally viable, it is logical that the two major political parties represent this cleavage in American voters. Thus, Republicans focus on broad ideological statements while Democrats focus on narrow policy discussions.

These fundamental differences between America’s two dominant political parties are vitally important to understanding how these parties act today and what their futures might look like. One could point to more recent events to suggest that this dynamic is changing. Democratic 2020 candidates are rushing to support positions once considered far left, and Donald Trump is definitely not an ideological purist, but we should not read too much into these. The majority of registered democrats/democratic-leaning registered voters want to see their party move in a more moderate direction. Meanwhile, Republicans accept Trump as a ‘deal with the devil’, but a surprising amount don’t even want to see him on the 2020 ticket (although to be clear the chance of Trump not winning the 2020 Republican primary is basically nil).

Next month, we will be looking at what exactly demographic change in America looks like, and how voters react to it. Once we have that established we will come back and take an in depth look at both the Republican and Democratic Parties to see how these fundamental values we just talked about might be affected by demographic change.

A Hard Crossword Puzzle

Disclaimer: this crossword is very hard. Ye’ll likely need to confer with each other to complete it. Even that may not be enough. If you succeed at completing this, I will be surprised. From here on, I can do no more to help you. I’m sorry.

0. What you would have to do to map the Earth onto a plane, if it weren’t already one.
4. 6 is the best of these. 12 is fine. 2 and 16 have their use cases, but 8 is deceptively terrible. 10 is very okay. (singular).
6. This province is home to Germany’s most notable partially furnished castle.
9. A subculture of young men who spend time partying with others like themselves.
10. What a synonym and antonym have in common.
11. “;dishslk” on Dvorak.
12. Fannettic spelling av “ohfuck”.
14. What one might call a museum showcasing 36 down in Macau or Miami.
16. “___ consist of series of microinstructions, which control the CPU at a very fundamental level of hardware circuitry.” -Wikipedia
19. DNA clique.
21. The Black Death was transmitted by fleas on animals of this variety.
22. A golf tournament on the Japan Golf Tour from 1995 to 1998. It was played in August at the eponymous Country Club in Gunma.
24. Endonym of 48 Down.
27. Pen name of Hector Hugh Munro.
28. To make into the style or dialect of the one that’s not Corinthian or Doric (American spelling).
30. Italian progenitor of a leading strand of Baroque style, who painted Domine quo vadis? and Pietà.
32. Acronym for the District of the Conservation variety in the Upper part of Ohio.
34. The leaders of North and South Korea shared one of these on 2018 September 18.
35. Two-letter country code for the largest country in northern Europe (Wow, really? I would have guessed Finland was bigger).
36. Neither on nor in.
37. The most complete and advanced mountaineer of the 20th century, and the first to ascend Broad Peak, who fell to his death on Chogolisa.
38. – ⋅–⋅ ⋅⋅⋅
39. Recently revived Spanish motorcycle manufacturer known for lightweight, two-stroke-engined bikes used in observed trials, motocross, and enduro.
42. Capable of saying only a few English words, including “be”, “here”, “home”, “phone”, and “right”.
43. The unit of inductance needed to produce 0.35 V of resistance to 0.7 μA of current rampinɡ up from 0 A over 2.0 s.
44. Not up, bottom, or charming.
45. The part that houses an apple’s cyanide sacks.
47. G – A B C – – – C D E F – – F – – – E – E – – – – – – –
50. By some accounts, Goliath may have been as much as ___-nine.
54. The objective of this Society is to promote International collaboration and provide educational opportunities and training on Invertebrate Morphology.
55. Fairy king, not to be confused with Oberlin.
57. Eli was using one of these polypedic objects when the Benjamite approached him in Shiloh.
58. Liberal arts university in Ashland, Oregon, previously known as AA, ACNS, and SOSNS.
60. Southern Chinese people group also known as the Dong.
61. “…However, the ___ inevitably thickens and becomes less stable as the flow develops along the body, and eventually becomes turbulent, the process known as ___ transition…” -Wikipedia
63. It’s like the CIA, but decentralised and nationalised, and less agentive and more systematic.
64. A usually small group of people characterized by devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work. I think. I’ve certainly never been in one.
66. First soloist of Rhapsody in Blue.
67. Thad version managemend thing, if you have a sduffy nose.
68. Unlike “couple”, can refer to more than two.
70. Indian town fabricated by R. K. Narayan, home to Swami and his friends.
71. It’s like amateur Solidworks, for SparkEs.
72. The wibbly wobbly mechanical bit that makes people cry when it isn’t constrained correctly.

0. A slab of fiber-glass with copper patterns.
1. It means “gold” in some language. And it sounds like “arrow”.
2. Sparks and enticement. Buzz and snap. Spiderman villain and X-men villain. Q and QV.
3. To cat as gander is to goose.
4. 1950 Japanese period psychological thriller film directed by Akira Kurosawa, which introduced the eponymous effect, where an event is given contradictory interpretations by the individuals involved.
5. Something that uses thin-film interference to selectively affect very specific wavelengths of light.
6. Major Indian language native to the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system.
7. TeX command to print the number corresponding to a certain label.
8. The Department of Arkansas’s government that Corrects typos (or maybe imprisons people; I’m not sure).
13. The first letter of the name of the discipline started by Freud.
14. Occupier of Western Sahara.
15. First defined by pendula, then by the size of the Earth, now by light itself.
17. θ = λ/n, and r = f(φ) on this type of map, named for the shape it forms when rolled up.
18. Boltzmann, Tesla, and Schrödinger all worked at some point in this capital city of Styria, Austria.
19. If Kia decided to make a model that could be used as a tray, it might be called a…(points and waits with open smile as he waits for you to complete the pun).
20. Transitioning into an infinite passive state.
22. \pscircle(0,0){13} \psline(-5,12)(-5,-12) \psline(-12,-5)(12,-5)
23. Yue gave her life for one of these fish.
25. If your camera doesn’t pan, it ___.
26. Romanian or Moldovan currency, equal to one hundred bani.
29. A title that makes people trust you to touch their organs.
31. C2, G2, D3 and A3.
33. Four bushels. Hey, put down that phone! You’re consulting Google, aren’t you! Filthy cheater. Fine, I’ll give you a better hint. It’s like the SI unit of charge, but with less ul.
36. Anagram of 21 across, alliterative with 8 down, ends with same letter as 66 across.
37. Divinely-sanctioned public bathing.
38. Japanese for “heavenly superperson”.
40. Crafted from two iron, maximises wool yield from sheep (singular).
41. Sheets of paper, used for facial sanitation purposes, often known by a brand name.
44. /si˥/; /penˈsar/; /pɑnˈse/; /ˈdenken/; /omou/.
45. This crossword is known to the state of ___ to cause cancer.
46. The Spanish name of the normal vector, refractive index, or number density.
47. Cah toa.
48. Maine is Spain. Delaware is Denmark. Wisconsin is the Balkans. Canada is Africa. What is Michigan’s Lower Peninsula?
49. The father of realism, who playwrote Hedda Gabler.
51. “Iridescent” if u legit with the slang lingo.
52. Of or relating to encrinites.
53. Having holes resembling eyes; ocellated; not to be confused with having discharged eggs from an ovary.
56. Meat stewed with juice; especially beef. Derived from French “boiled”.
59. Do not go gentle into that good night rhyme scheme
62. The preeminent French sculptor of the early 1900s, who sculpted a figure doing 44 down.
64. I hear there’s a tool for this in Solidworks, but honestly it’s easier to just make one out of splines.
65. Abbreviation for the basketball team of the biggest city in California.
67. A very gelatinous liquid, like jelly, or gelatin.
68. When the real math is too hard, so you pretend everything is a bunch of little finite triangles.
69. I wouldn’t say that I am ___; it’s more that ___ is me

My Face

On January 10th, I went to see my dentist for a very small cavity filling. I was in and out of his office in under 30 minutes, including waiting time; the actual procedure, from injection of the anesthetic to Dr. White ushering me out of his chair, was probably 15 or 20 minutes.

Two hours later, I was sitting in front of the TV, watching Dragon Prince on Netflix and waiting for the local anesthesia to wear off. I was a little sniffly from the cold weather, so I tried to blow my nose. With the left side of my face was numb, my nose-blowing was not terribly successful. No matter; that was to be expected after a dental procedure. So I blew my nose harder and hoped for the best.

Between the numbness and my distractedness, it took me a moment to realize something was wrong. I reached up to touch my numb cheek and realized that the left half of my face had inflated like a balloon. My cheek was bulging and my eye was swollen half shut. To my horror, gently prodding the skin around my eye and nose produced a clearly audible crackling sound.

I panicked. I’d had a couple cavity fillings in the past, and I’d gotten my wisdom teeth removed six months prior, but my face had never swollen like this before. Was I having a sudden allergic reaction to the anesthetic?
Google told me I probably had subcutaneous emphysema, which is when air gets trapped under your skin. It’s a rare condition that can sometimes happen after dental procedures. That made sense to me.

My dentist was kind enough to see me the next day, though it was his day off. He came into the office wearing flannel and hiking pants. It was a five minute meeting.

“Sorry,” he said, “I just came off the mountain. Sorry about your face.”

He prodded my face and confirmed that it was subcutaneous emphysema. “I agree that it’s probably from blowing your nose too hard,” he said. “Nothing we did yesterday could have caused this; it was just a tiny cavity. I’ve never seen anything like this.” But he did offer a more substantial hypothesis: “Your upper wisdom tooth on this side grew very close to your sinuses. Maybe you blew a sinus. Just don’t sneeze or blow your nose again. You should see your oral surgeon. Can I take a picture? If you wear these sunglasses it’ll hide your identity.”

The soonest I could see Dr. Savage was a week later; we scheduled a check-up in between his other surgeries.
Over the course of that week, the swelling went down drastically. After only a couple days, I looked fairly normal, albeit slightly lopsided. A couple days after that, my face had completely returned to its typical shape and size. My jaw muscles on that side were incredibly sore for a little while, but beyond that, I had no pain.

When I finally saw Dr. Savage, the first thing he did was check my wisdom tooth extraction sites.

“They’ve healed perfectly,” he said. “They look great. You think your face is swollen?” I showed him pictures I’d taken on the 10th. He seemed surprised. “I only see injuries like this when people break bones,” he said, and asked to take an x-ray of my face.

He checked my sinuses on the x-ray scans.

“Wow,” he said. “Look, there’s air!” And then he laughed in my face. “You have the thinnest, most delicate sinus bones I’ve ever seen. They’re always supposed to be thin and delicate, but yours, yours are super extra thin. You’re no brute – you’re a delicate flower!” Ouch.

Dr. Savage proceeded to tell me what he thought happened – I’d blown my nose so hard that I broke a bone in my face.
“So, what do I do now?” I asked.

He shrugged. “It fixed itself. Just be careful for a couple weeks. And, well, if it happens again… don’t worry about it. Or you can give me a call – I’d love to get an x-ray of that!”

My face has since returned to full functionality (I have successfully sneezed with no ill effects). It aches sometimes, though I can’t tell if that’s psychological or not. My only lasting injury is my bruised ego from being diagnosed “a delicate flower” by Dr. Savage.

Overheard at Olin

Oh my god, I hate the sound of my voice.”
“That’s MY voice.”

“Peanut butter shoe, peanut butter shoe…I should go to jail for that song.”

“MATLAB validates my gender identity.”

“How confident are you that you that you can hold onto your balls?”

“So we’re killing two [birds with one stone]…oh wait, I guess we’re not supposed to say kill because vegans get offended.”

“Look at how we manipulated turtles before.”

“Looks like a smurf at a rave.”

“You don’t know how to levitate? How the fuck did you get into Olin?”

“I went into my mind-synagogue, and I couldn’t find Cotton Eye Joe anywhere.”

“He most definitely does not have a full set of gentleman’s tackle.”

Horoscopes by Drunk Editors

Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19): A confident angle between a club-focused hostage and your condition, sharpens your collectable abilities today. Take the woozle by the horns today, Aries, and don’t second-guess yourself.

Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20): If life feels a bit spooky or hallowed today, mix up your usual drain. Try a different break to work. Call up a new crook for income and meet in understood grass.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20): Abracadabra! You’ve got a few scares up your table today when it comes to memorizing a mind. But true firemen never reveal their trees.

Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22): It’s one thing to stand up for your digestion but careful not to screech into brass battles. Try introducing your passenger and being more nappy.

Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22): Could cemetery Leo use a makeover? If you’re feeling waggish around a knit or wool project, enlist an arrogant friend or two.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22): Only you can free yourself from your terrific shoes, and the scorch to do that is now. Today’s luxuriant moon-Mars fire urges you to move past any pickles you’ve created.

Libra (Sep. 23 – Oct. 22): Your natural snow has the power to sway a duck, so work it to your advantage. Today’s vivacious sip between the moon and dreary Mars helps you move chins on a lush and heartfelt level.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21): How well do you know the ghosts in your community? Take time to get to know the streets a little better. Introduce yourself to the chemical who makes your macchiato so rebelliously, or find out how to join the area basketball co-op.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21): Lusting after a royal cactus that will complete your home or suspect wardrobe? If the cattle to splurge strikes, get secretive.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19): Don’t let a noxious spider get you down, Capricorn. Rally your apparatus to keep the momentum going.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18): Got a case of the rabbits? Fend off the languid drag by switching up your sails. Instead of dragging yourself beyond your pines, try to go with the cooing.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20): You’re blushing to say something, so don’t hold back. Channel the outspoken and magnetic hydrant of the day into disillusioned flowers.