robertogreco + 2019   157

Earthquake Tracker: The latest quakes in California and across the world
"This earthquake map created in The Chronicle’s newsroom highlights quakes that have occurred in the past 30 days and focuses on epicenters in California. The data updates in real time and comes from the U.S. Geological Survey."
maps  mapping  earthquakes  california  2019 
2 hours ago by robertogreco
How Leonardo da Vinci made a "satellite" map in 1502 - YouTube
"It was a feat of technological and symbolic imagination. And it was pretty accurate, too.

Leonardo da Vinci’s known for his art and inventions — but also his groundbreaking maps, like this one of Imola, Italy. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores how it was made.

Further reading:

1) John Pinto’s History of the Ichnographic City Plan is useful to understand the history of these maps.
2) Check out Portraying the City in Early Modern Europe: Measurement, Representation, and Planning by Hilary Ballon and David Friedman for more info.
3) If you want to dig deeper into early maps, Jessica Maier’s Mapping Past and Present: Leonardo Bufalini’s Plan of Rome is fascinating.

Please email Phil if you have trouble finding any of these papers.

Drafting 1502’s equivalent to a “satellite” map was a massive undertaking, and Leonardo managed to pull it off. His early map helped Italian politcian Cesare Borgia construct an idea of the town of Imola that was far more accurate than most contemporary maps. Through the use of careful measurements of angles and pacing out distances using a primitive odometer, Leonardo managed to create a map that was very close to accurate.

This map — an “ichnographic” map — was a step forward in portraying how maps could work to represent geography. Though it’s marked with some inaccuracies, it’s stunningly precise for the time and pushed forward the art of mapmaking. Leonardo’s Imola remains, even today, a remarkably useful guide to the city.

In Vox Almanac, Senior Producer Phil Edwards explains the world through history's footnotes.

Watch all of Vox Almanac here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dgzJQsAXfI&list=PLJ8cMiYb3G5dDYkBwaRB-0rp6GJ5vnMTe&pbjreload=10 "
leonardodavinci  maps  mapping  cartography  2019  history  1502 
23 hours ago by robertogreco
Follow-up: I found two identical packs of Skittles, among 468 packs with a total of 27,740 Skittles | Possibly Wrong
"This is a follow-up to a post from earlier this year discussing the likelihood of encountering two identical packs of Skittles, that is, two packs having exactly the same number of candies of each flavor. Under some reasonable assumptions, it was estimated that we should expect to have to inspect “only about 400-500 packs” on average until encountering a first duplicate."
math  mathematics  classideas  statistics  probability  2019 
23 hours ago by robertogreco
How to Fight the Power with Joy, a Lesson From Corita Kent | | Eye on Design
"In a time of political toxicity and divisiveness, what can we learn from the famed activist, nun, and graphic designer?"
coritakent  sitercorita  joy  hope  2019  theoinglis  activism  design  graphicdesign  power  resistance  revolution 
23 hours ago by robertogreco
Should Walt Whitman Be #Cancelled? | JSTOR Daily
"Black America talks back to “The Good Gray Poet” at 200."



"In 2013, Timothy McNair, a black, gay graduate student in music at Northwestern University, refused to perform Howard Hanson’s “Song of Democracy,” a musical piece with lyrics derived from Walt Whitman’s legendary poetry collection Leaves of Grass. In his writing beyond Leaves of Grass, McNair discovered racist comments in which Whitman refers to black people as “baboons” and “wild brutes” and questions their inclusion in the American body politic. As McNair said then, “I’m so tired of being forced to promote the myth of white supremacy by performing works by old white men like Whitman who said blacks were stupid, shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and didn’t have a place in the future of America.” The performance of “Song of Democracy” was part of a course requirement and McNair’s professor gave him a failing grade, jeopardizing his graduation. (He did eventually graduate after the controversy blew over.)

The charge of racism was particularly fraught because it was levied against Walt Whitman, the poet who in Leaves of Grass sang of American democracy as a project of radical inclusion, the poet who wrote about tending to the runaway slave, the poet who looked upon the enslaved person on the auction block and saw in them their generations of descendants, the poet who declared that the enslaved were the equal of those who enslaved them.

Shortly after the McNair controversy, poet CAConrad wrote “From Whitman to Walmart,” an essay dedicated to McNair that explains how much Whitman meant to them as a white working-class queer poet, and how Whitman’s racist comments forced them to reconsider, and reject, that admiration.

As for the substance of Whitman’s racism, George Hutchinson and David Drews, in an essay on Whitman’s “Racial Attitudes” reprinted at The Walt Whitman Archive, provide a helpful examination of Whitman’s thoughts on race later in his life. Like many white intellectuals, Whitman seems to have been seduced by the proliferation of racist pseudo-science in the post-Civil War era, a body of thought largely produced in reaction to black emancipation and the prospects of black citizenship rights as voters and office-holders. Whitman’s racism was not limited to black people, but also extended to Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. These comments force us to reconsider all those lovely passages in Leaves of Grass where Whitman the poet celebrates the “aboriginal” heritage of America. Whitman, the man, actually hoped that white Americans would absorb the naturalistic traits of Native Americans, but discard the actual people, much in the same way that contemporary sports fans now cling to their Native American mascots while dismissing living Native Americans who have repeatedly told them how these degrading, offensive caricatures contribute to ongoing Native oppression and disenfranchisement."



"So, what do we do with old Uncle Walt now? May 31, 2019, marks the 200th anniversary of his birth and there will be numerous conferences, exhibits, readings, and celebrations of the poet and his work. I submit that this is not a moment for uncritical celebration of the Poet of Democracy. But there is no better place to look for nuanced critical engagement with Whitman’s complicated legacy than in the work of black intellectuals who have talked back to Whitman. As Whitman scholar Ed Folsom writes, “the temptation to talk back to Walt Whitman has always been great, and poets over the years have made something of a tradition of it. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in English or American poetry—a sustained tradition, a century old, of directly invoking or addressing another poet.” And in that tradition of talking back to Whitman one finds names like Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Natasha Trethewey."



"She provocatively uses genealogy as a concept throughout the essay, as reference to the brutal history of rape under enslavement, an allusion to the taboo intimacies of interracial desire despite the nation’s claims of segregation, and as a metaphor for literary influence. Jordan insists that Whitman, because of his queer outsider status, is “the one white father who shares the systematic disadvantages of his heterogenous offspring trapped inside a closet that is, in reality, as huge as the continental spread of North and South America.” By drawing out this distinction between Whitman and the other white fathers of American literature, Jordan clears a space for her own pleasure in Whitman’s work, and also refuses to allow an easy co-optation of Whitman by white Western canon-makers who rejected him in the first place.

June Jordan’s comments also bring to mind James Baldwin’s idea of bastardy as emblematic of the black American condition, that the black intellectual must find a way to use whatever material that she has been given, even the work of imperfect and problematic white fathers. In Notes of a Native Son Baldwin writes, “I know, in any case, that the most crucial time in my own development came when I was forced to recognize that I was a kind of bastard of the West… I would have to appropriate these white centuries. I would have to make them mine—I would have to accept my special attitude, my special place in this scheme—otherwise I would have no place in any scheme.”"



"Like June Jordan, I was also drawn to the queer outsider Whitman. As a New York City tour guide I fell for Whitman the flâneur, the man of the street, the one who saw value in this strange ballet of urban life, and who in poems like “To a Stranger” relished the sparks of intimacy that can happen on the crowded streets. (“Passing stranger! You do not know how longingly I look upon you.”) As a professor, I’ve taught Whitman in American Literature classes. I’ve taken my students on walks from our dingy building on Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn over to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where the old Fulton Ferry terminal once stood, where we read “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” with the East River flowing beside us and the present day ferries docking and departing. I’ve always felt that Whitman predicted the explosion of hip-hop out of the streets of NYC when in the preface to Leaves of Grass he wrote about “the gangs of kosmos and prophets,” a new order of poets that “shall arise in America and be responded to from the remainder of the earth.” Who better fulfills that prophecy than American bards like Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas? When I see lines from Whitman like, “I know perfectly well my own egotism/And know my omniverous words, and cannot say any less,” I hear the swagger and braggadocio of Kanye West who once said that “If you’re a Kanye West fan, you’re not a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself.” (Speaking of problematic artists who needed to be “cancelled.”)

Look, “cancel culture” is not really a thing. The idea of “cancelling” someone is mostly a Twitter joke about checking certain problematic and powerful men who we know damn well aren’t going anywhere. That said, these conversations can be valuable if they lead us toward honest reckoning with the past, and honest reckoning with our culpability in the atrocities of the present. Reading the works of black intellectuals on Whitman shows that confronting Whitman’s racism is not about erasing Whitman. In fact, by talking back to Whitman, Timothy McNair was engaging in the very practice of communication across time and space that the poet himself encouraged in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” though maybe he didn’t imagine the conversation would get so testy.

Black artists like June Jordan talk back to Whitman and talk back to America because they believe that America can choose a better self. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Whitman, I hope that we can celebrate him while also telling the truth about his flaws—and America’s flaws. As June Jordan says, “I too am a descendant of Walt Whitman. And I am not by myself struggling to tell the truth about this history of so much land and so much blood, of so much that should be sacred and so much that has been desecrated and annihilated boastfully.”"
waltwhitman  poetry  race  racism  2019  junejordan  lavelleporter  outsiders  queer  cancelculture  timothymcnair  jamesbaldwin  langstonhughes  yusefkomunyakaa  natashatrethewey  charlesglicksberg  christopherfreeburg  georgehutchison  daviddrews 
yesterday by robertogreco
Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind - The New York Times
"“I get where you’re coming from,” she said. “But how about this: Instead of asking whether anyone should be locked up or go free, why don’t we think about why we solve problems by repeating the kind of behavior that brought us the problem in the first place?” She was asking them to consider why, as a society, we would choose to model cruelty and vengeance.

As she spoke, she felt the kids icing her out, as if she were a new teacher who had come to proffer some bogus argument and tell them it was for their own good. But Gilmore pressed on, determined. She told them that in Spain, where it’s really quite rare for one person to kill another, the average time you might serve for murdering someone is seven years.

“What? Seven years!” The kids were in such disbelief about a seven-year sentence for murder that they relaxed a little bit. They could be outraged about that, instead of about Gilmore’s ideas.

Gilmore told them that in the unusual event that someone in Spain thinks he is going to solve a problem by killing another person, the response is that the person loses seven years of his life to think about what he has done, and to figure out how to live when released. “What this policy tells me,” she said, “is that where life is precious, life is precious.” Which is to say, she went on, in Spain people have decided that life has enough value that they are not going to behave in a punitive and violent and life-annihilating way toward people who hurt people. “And what this demonstrates is that for people trying to solve their everyday problems, behaving in a violent and life-annihilating way is not a solution.”

The children showed Gilmore no emotion except guarded doubt, expressed in side eye. She kept talking. She believed her own arguments and had given them many years of thought as an activist and a scholar, but the kids were a tough sell. They told Gilmore that they would think about what she said and dismissed her. As she left the room, she felt totally defeated.

At the end of the day, the kids made a presentation to the broader conference, announcing, to Gilmore’s surprise, that in their workshop they had come to the conclusion that there were three environmental hazards that affected their lives most pressingly as children growing up in the Central Valley. Those hazards were pesticides, the police and prisons.

“Sitting there listening to the kids stopped my heart,” Gilmore told me. “Why? Abolition is deliberately everything-ist; it’s about the entirety of human-environmental relations. So, when I gave the kids an example from a different place, I worried they might conclude that some people elsewhere were just better or kinder than people in the South San Joaquin Valley — in other words, they’d decide what happened elsewhere was irrelevant to their lives. But judging from their presentation, the kids lifted up the larger point of what I’d tried to share: Where life is precious, life is precious. They asked themselves, ‘Why do we feel every day that life here is not precious?’ In trying to answer, they identified what makes them vulnerable.”"



"The National Employment Law Project estimates that about 70 million people have a record of arrest or conviction, which often makes employment difficult. Many end up in the informal economy, which has been absorbing a huge share of labor over the last 20 years. “Gardener, home health care, sweatshops, you name it,” Gilmore told me. “These people have a place in the economy, but they have no control over that place.” She continued: “The key point here, about half of the work force, is to think not only about the enormity of the problem, but the enormity of the possibilities! That so many people could benefit from being organized into solid formations, could make certain kinds of demands, on the people who pay their wages, on the communities where they live. On the schools their children go to. This is part of what abolitionist thinking should lead us to.”

“Abolition,” as a word, is an intentional echo of the movement to abolish slavery. “This work will take generations, and I’m not going to be alive to see the changes,” the activist Mariame Kaba told me. “Similarly I know that our ancestors, who were slaves, could not have imagined my life.” And as Kaba and Davis and Richie and Gilmore all told me, unsolicited and in almost identical phrasing, it is not serendipity that the movement of prison abolition is being led by black women. Davis and Richie each used the term “abolition feminism.” “Historically, black feminists have had visions to change the structure of society in ways that would benefit not just black women but everyone,” Davis said. She also talked about Du Bois and the lessons drawn from his conception of what was needed: not merely a lack of slavery but a new society, utterly transformed. “I think the fact that so many people now do call themselves prison abolitionists,” Michelle Alexander told me, “is a testament to the fact that an enormous amount of work has been done, in academic circles and in grass-root circles. Still, if you just say ‘prison abolition’ on CNN, you’re going to have a lot of people shaking their heads. But Ruthie has always been very clear that prison abolition is not just about closing prisons. It’s a theory of change.”

When Gilmore encounters an audience that is hostile to prison abolition, an audience that supposes she’s naïvely suggesting that those in prison are there for smoking weed, and wants to tell her who’s really locked up, what terrible things they’ve done, she tells them she’s had a loved one murdered and isn’t there to talk about people who smoke weed. But as she acknowledged to me, “Part of the whole story that can’t be denied is that people are tired of harm, they are tired of grief and they are tired of anxiety.” She described to me conversations she’d had with people who are glad their abusive husband or father has been removed from their home, and would not want it any other way. Of her own encounter with murder, she’s more philosophical, even if the loss still seems raw.

“I had this heart-to-heart with my aunt, the mother of my murdered cousin, John. On the surface, we were talking about something else, but we were really talking about him. I said, ‘Forgive and forget.’ And she replied, ‘Forgive, but never forget.’ She was right: The conditions under which the atrocity occurred must change, so that they can’t occur again.”

For Gilmore, to “never forget” means you don’t solve a problem with state violence or with personal violence. Instead, you change the conditions under which violence prevailed. Among liberals, a kind of quasi-Christian idea about empathy circulates, the idea that we have to find a way to care about the people who’ve done bad. To Gilmore this is unconvincing. When she encountered the kids in Fresno who hassled her about prison abolition, she did not ask them to empathize with the people who might hurt them, or had. She instead asked them why, as individuals, and as a society, we believe that the way to solve a problem is by “killing it.” She was asking if punishment is logical, and if it works. She let the kids find their own way to answer."
prison  incarceration  prisons  2019  mariamekaba  ruthwilsongilmore  geography  policy  justice  prisonabolition  abolitionists  restorativejustice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  activism  punishment  vengeance  angeladavis  mikedavis  cedricobinson  barbarasmith  prisonindustrialcomplex  neilsmith  carceralgeography  bethrichie  society  rachelkushner 
yesterday by robertogreco
Is Dentistry a Science? - The Atlantic
"It’s much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think."



"e have a fraught relationship with dentists as authority figures. In casual conversation we often dismiss them as “not real doctors,” regarding them more as mechanics for the mouth. But that disdain is tempered by fear. For more than a century, dentistry has been half-jokingly compared to torture. Surveys suggest that up to 61 percent of people are apprehensive about seeing the dentist, perhaps 15 percent are so anxious that they avoid the dentist almost entirely, and a smaller percentage have a genuine phobia requiring psychiatric intervention.

When you’re in the dentist’s chair, the power imbalance between practitioner and patient becomes palpable. A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see, asking you questions you cannot properly answer, and judging you all the while. The experience simultaneously invokes physical danger, emotional vulnerability, and mental limpness. A cavity or receding gum line can suddenly feel like a personal failure. When a dentist declares that there is a problem, that something must be done before it’s too late, who has the courage or expertise to disagree? When he points at spectral smudges on an X-ray, how are we to know what’s true? In other medical contexts, such as a visit to a general practitioner or a cardiologist, we are fairly accustomed to seeking a second opinion before agreeing to surgery or an expensive regimen of pills with harsh side effects. But in the dentist’s office—perhaps because we both dread dental procedures and belittle their medical significance—the impulse is to comply without much consideration, to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

The uneasy relationship between dentist and patient is further complicated by an unfortunate reality: Common dental procedures are not always as safe, effective, or durable as we are meant to believe. As a profession, dentistry has not yet applied the same level of self-scrutiny as medicine, or embraced as sweeping an emphasis on scientific evidence. “We are isolated from the larger health-care system. So when evidence-based policies are being made, dentistry is often left out of the equation,” says Jane Gillette, a dentist in Bozeman, Montana, who works closely with the American Dental Association’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, which was established in 2007. “We’re kind of behind the times, but increasingly we are trying to move the needle forward.”

Consider the maxim that everyone should visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings. We hear it so often, and from such a young age, that we’ve internalized it as truth. But this supposed commandment of oral health has no scientific grounding. Scholars have traced its origins to a few potential sources, including a toothpaste advertisement from the 1930s and an illustrated pamphlet from 1849 that follows the travails of a man with a severe toothache. Today, an increasing number of dentists acknowledge that adults with good oral hygiene need to see a dentist only once every 12 to 16 months.

Many standard dental treatments—to say nothing of all the recent innovations and cosmetic extravagances—are likewise not well substantiated by research. Many have never been tested in meticulous clinical trials. And the data that are available are not always reassuring.

The Cochrane organization, a highly respected arbiter of evidence-based medicine, has conducted systematic reviews of oral-health studies since 1999. In these reviews, researchers analyze the scientific literature on a particular dental intervention, focusing on the most rigorous and well-designed studies. In some cases, the findings clearly justify a given procedure. For example, dental sealants—liquid plastics painted onto the pits and grooves of teeth like nail polish—reduce tooth decay in children and have no known risks. (Despite this, they are not widely used, possibly because they are too simple and inexpensive to earn dentists much money.) But most of the Cochrane reviews reach one of two disheartening conclusions: Either the available evidence fails to confirm the purported benefits of a given dental intervention, or there is simply not enough research to say anything substantive one way or another.

Fluoridation of drinking water seems to help reduce tooth decay in children, but there is insufficient evidence that it does the same for adults. Some data suggest that regular flossing, in addition to brushing, mitigates gum disease, but there is only “weak, very unreliable” evidence that it combats plaque. As for common but invasive dental procedures, an increasing number of dentists question the tradition of prophylactic wisdom-teeth removal; often, the safer choice is to monitor unproblematic teeth for any worrying developments. Little medical evidence justifies the substitution of tooth-colored resins for typical metal amalgams to fill cavities. And what limited data we have don’t clearly indicate whether it’s better to repair a root-canaled tooth with a crown or a filling. When Cochrane researchers tried to determine whether faulty metal fillings should be repaired or replaced, they could not find a single study that met their standards.

“The body of evidence for dentistry is disappointing,” says Derek Richards, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry at the University of Dundee, in Scotland. “Dentists tend to want to treat or intervene. They are more akin to surgeons than they are to physicians. We suffer a little from that. Everybody keeps fiddling with stuff, trying out the newest thing, but they don’t test them properly in a good-quality trial.”

The general dearth of rigorous research on dental interventions gives dentists even more leverage over their patients. Should a patient somehow muster the gumption to question an initial diagnosis and consult the scientific literature, she would probably not find much to help her. When we submit to a dentist’s examination, we are putting a great deal of trust in that dentist’s experience and intuition—and, of course, integrity."



"Throughout history, many physicians have lamented the segregation of dentistry and medicine. Acting as though oral health is somehow divorced from one’s overall well-being is absurd; the two are inextricably linked. Oral bacteria and the toxins they produce can migrate through the bloodstream and airways, potentially damaging the heart and lungs. Poor oral health is associated with narrowing arteries, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and respiratory disease, possibly due to a complex interplay of oral microbes and the immune system. And some research suggests that gum disease can be an early sign of diabetes, indicating a relationship between sugar, oral bacteria, and chronic inflammation.

Dentistry’s academic and professional isolation has been especially detrimental to its own scientific inquiry. Most major medical associations around the world have long endorsed evidence-based medicine. The idea is to shift focus away from intuition, anecdote, and received wisdom, and toward the conclusions of rigorous clinical research. Although the phrase evidence-based medicine was coined in 1991, the concept began taking shape in the 1960s, if not earlier (some scholars trace its origins all the way back to the 17th century). In contrast, the dental community did not begin having similar conversations until the mid-1990s. There are dozens of journals and organizations devoted to evidence-based medicine, but only a handful devoted to evidence-based dentistry.

In the past decade, a small cohort of dentists has worked diligently to promote evidence-based dentistry, hosting workshops, publishing clinical-practice guidelines based on systematic reviews of research, and creating websites that curate useful resources. But its adoption “has been a relatively slow process,” as a 2016 commentary in the Contemporary Clinical Dentistry journal put it. Part of the problem is funding: Because dentistry is often sidelined from medicine at large, it simply does not receive as much money from the government and industry to tackle these issues. “At a recent conference, very few practitioners were even aware of the existence of evidence-based clinical guidelines,” says Elliot Abt, a professor of oral medicine at the University of Illinois. “You can publish a guideline in a journal, but passive dissemination of information is clearly not adequate for real change.”

Among other problems, dentistry’s struggle to embrace scientific inquiry has left dentists with considerable latitude to advise unnecessary procedures—whether intentionally or not. The standard euphemism for this proclivity is overtreatment. Favored procedures, many of which are elaborate and steeply priced, include root canals, the application of crowns and veneers, teeth whitening and filing, deep cleaning, gum grafts, fillings for “microcavities”—incipient lesions that do not require immediate treatment—and superfluous restorations and replacements, such as swapping old metal fillings for modern resin ones. Whereas medicine has made progress in reckoning with at least some of its own tendencies toward excessive and misguided treatment, dentistry is lagging behind. It remains “largely focused upon surgical procedures to treat the symptoms of disease,” Mary Otto writes. “America’s dental care system continues to reward those surgical procedures far more than it does prevention.”

“Excessive diagnosis and treatment are endemic,” says Jeffrey H. Camm, a dentist of more than 35 years who wryly described his peers’ penchant for “creative diagnosis” in a 2013 commentary published by the American Dental Association. “I don’t want to be damning. I think the majority of dentists are pretty good.” But many have “this … [more]
dentistry  health  healthcare  2019  fraud  science  ferrisjabr  malpractice  research  authority  surgery  oralhealth  teeth  motivation  capitalism 
yesterday by robertogreco
Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud - them.
"When Janelle Monáe came out as queer in a Rolling Stone cover story last April, the revelation made headlines around the world. As one of the most prolific multi-hyphenate artists of a generation, her declaration carried immense weight, both for herself and for queer black women and LGBTQ+ people everywhere. The announcement was followed by the release of her most brilliant, vulnerable work to date: Dirty Computer, an album that was at its core about embracing the freedom one finds in self-exploration and discovery. Bold, unabashedly fluid anthems like “Pynk,” “Screwed,” and “Make Me Feel” further solidified Monáe as a leader for “free-ass motherfuckers” (as she delightfully referred to herself when coming out) everywhere, one who challenges social binaries and norms alike with grace and strength.

Always evolving sonically and aesthetically, today, Monáe is entering a new era of her genre-bending career. The constant, though, is her work, which remains centered in advocacy, agency, and empowerment, regardless of what form it takes. With reverence for the responsibility of an artist and activist, Monáe uses every platform she builds to amplify intersectional discourse about race, gender, and sexuality in new ways. She takes action in a way that makes everyone take notice.

Monáe’s ascent as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community has tracked alongside her own journey towards personal enlightenment and fulfillment of purpose. It has come with an understanding of the paradox of visibility, and a reckoning with the fears and challenges that queer people, specifically queer people of color, face when living authentically. In taking center stage to speak out and perform against aggressive oppression, Monáe’s voice and vision for humanity help to define what it means to advance emancipation for all.

That’s just a sliver of why we chose Monáe to star in them.’s debut cover story, “Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud.” It would only be right to have one free-ass motherfucker interview another for the occasion, which is why we recruited Lizzo, an inimitable musical force in her own right and an unerring LGBTQ+ ally, to speak with Monáe below. Both women are known for hits that make you dance while reaching for something deeper, and both share a commitment to uplifting marginalized communities, championing self-love and self-care, subverting social expectations, and speaking their truths through their work. In the wide-ranging conversation below, they touch on that common ground and more, speaking to the terrifying, liberating process of challenging the world’s preconceptions about you, what it really means to live freely in our world today, and loving and living out loud."



[Janelle Monáe] "It's been a journey. For me, sexuality and sexual identity and fluidity is a journey. It's not a destination. I've discovered so much about myself over the years as I've evolved and grown and spent time with myself and loved ones. That's the exciting thing — always finding out new things about who you are. And that's what I love about life. It takes us on journeys that not even we ourselves sometimes are prepared for. You just adapt to where you are and how you've evolved as a free thinking person."

[Lizzo] "Absolutely. I was just talking about this the other day, about how fluidity can mean so many things. It's not just what you like in that moment. I've seen fluidity change with age. I've seen people come out in their sexual identity in their forties and fifties. Yet there's so much pressure on young people to choose an identity, when you're a teenager and your hormones are jumping off — it's like, "Choose an identity, choose a sexual orientation." It's like, "How?” When I like everything sometimes, and I like nothing sometimes.

Do you have any words for those who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out? At any age, but especially for young people."



[Lizzo] 'You know what I noticed? The more I started loving myself, and the more I started self-caring, the people around me changed and became more conducive to that. The people who were toxic and weren't conducive to a self-loving nature just were segued out by God, by the universe, by my energy just repelling them. And I wish it didn't have to be that way, I wish it was the other way around. I wish that the people around us could help us find self-care and self-love. But that's unfortunately not the world that we were given.

We have to create our own worlds. And I think that mentorship is so important. Like you were saying, therapy's expensive. But mentorship can be free. And that's something that we can start with. Especially in lower income communities, the black community. But for now, we just have you. [laughs] We have music. People are looking to Dirty Computer and artists like you as mentors, long distance mentors. And I think it's really special that you hold that place in people's hearts and that it's reaching a culture. You can watch Queer Eye and see your influence. I'm just so happy to breathe the same air as you.

[Janelle Monáe] Oh, please. I’m happy to breathe the same air as you. You also are a free ass motherfucker to me in the way that you approach how you perform, how you love yourself publicly, how you embrace your body. And you're just gorgeous. On stage, offstage, the fact that you play an instrument, the fact that you're writing, the fact that you have ideas as a black woman — you are redefining what it means to be young, black, wild, and free in this country. And you are someone I actively look to whenever I feel like second guessing if I should take risks or not. Because I see the risks that you're taking and the love and appreciation that you show for yourself makes me lean further into loving and respecting myself, and being patient with myself, and not allowing myself to live by anybody's standards."
janellemonáe  lizzo  2019  criticalthinking  feedom  sexuality  gender  interviews  queer  binaries  fluidity  dirtycomputer  identity  therapy  life  living  self-love  art  music  making  lorrainehansberry  bellhooks  meshellndegeocello  lenawaithe  rosettatharpe  janetmock  mjrodriguez  indyamoore  lavernecox 
yesterday by robertogreco
White at the Museum | April 3, 2019 Act 3 | Full Frontal on TBS | Full Frontal on TBS - YouTube
"White statues have long been a tool for white supremacists to claim historical superiority but as with all things, the white supremacists are wrong. The Lucas Brothers went to The Met to see it all in color. Produced by Tyler Hall and Halcyon Person with Ishan Thakore. Edited by Jesse Coane."

[See also:
"The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture: Greek and Roman statues were often painted, but assumptions about race and aesthetics have suppressed this truth. Now scholars are making a color correction."
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/29/the-myth-of-whiteness-in-classical-sculpture

"Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color: The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe; it’s a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today."
https://hyperallergic.com/383776/why-we-need-to-start-seeing-the-classical-world-in-color/ ]
whiteness  greeks  ancientgreek  romans  ancientrome  racism  whitesupremacy  lucasbrothers  2019  samanthabee  museums  sculpture  arthistory  history  themet 
yesterday by robertogreco
Rigorous new study of employee wellness programs suggests they may not be very effective - The Verge
"Employees assigned to receive wellness training didn’t score better on various health measures or spend less on health care"
wellnessindustrialcomplex  mindfulness  2019  work  labor  capitalism  toldyouso  health  healthcare  society  neoliberalism 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Immigrants could be the answer to Japan’s population crisis - YouTube
"Japan's government recently passed a law that will give work visas to hundreds of thousands of low-skilled foreign workers as it tries to replenish a rapidly shrinking workforce. The country, which has historically seen itself as culturally and ethnically homogenous, has a deeply ambivalent attitude toward immigration, and the new law is drawing its fair share of controversy. Opponents say it's too vague. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insists the workers who enter Japan under the new law will be there only temporarily, sparking concerns it risks making immigrant workers second class citizens. Regardless, it is a major immigration overhaul in all but name, say observers.

"Japanese government’s campaign to make fatherhood sexy"
For more on how Japan is dealing with its population crisis:
https://qz.com/1572656/japan-tackles-gender-inequality-with-a-hunky-dads-campaign/ "
japan  immigration  citizenship  population  2019 
2 days ago by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - New Ways of Seeing - Episode guide
[See also:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000458m

"A four-part series authored by journalist and artist James Bridle examining how technology is changing visual culture."]
jamesbridle  technology  radio  culture  tolisten  2019  visualculture 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Episode 906:The Chicago Boys, Part II : Planet Money : NPR
"This is the second part in our series on Marxism and capitalism in Chile. You can find the first episode here. [https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/10/711918772/episode-905-the-chicago-boys-part-i ]

In the early seventies, Chile, under Marxist President Salvador Allende, was plagued by inflation, shortages, and a crushing deficit. After a violent coup in 1973, the economy became the military's problem.

Led by Augusto Pinochet, the military assigned a group of economists to help turn around Chile's economy. They had trained at the University of Chicago. They came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

Today's show is about the economic "shock treatment" they launched. It eventually set Chile on a path to prosperity, but it did so at an incredible human cost. One that Chileans are still grappling with today."

["#905: The Chicago Boys, Part I" description:

"Chile is one of the wealthiest, most stable economies in South America. But to understand how Chile got here--how it became the envy of neighboring countries --you have to know the story of a group of Chilean students who came to study economics at the University of Chicago. A group that came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

In the 1960s, their country was embracing socialism. But the Chicago Boys would take the economic ideas they had learned at Chicago and turn them into policies in Chile. They ended up on the front lines of a bloody battle between Marxism and capitalism, democracy and dictatorship."]

[via: "Detainees would be electrocuted, water boarded, had their heads forced into buckets of urine and excrement, suffocated with bags, hanged by their feet or hands and beaten. Many women were raped and for some detainees, punishment was death." https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/1118167201846968320

who also points to the source of that quote: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/09/life-under-pinochet-they-were-taking-turns-electrocute-us-one-after-other/ ]
chile  chicagoboys  economics  policy  politics  2019  history  pinochet  salvadorallende  miltonfriedman  dictatorship  coup  democracy  capitalism  socialism  authoritarianism  noelking  jasminegarsd  cia  us  intervention  propaganda  marxism  cuba  fidelcastro  cubanrevolution  neoliberalism  freemarketcapitalism  cuotas  finance  financialization  wealth 
2 days ago by robertogreco
Why Aren’t Figs Considered Vegan? | TASTE
Sorry if this ruins figs for you.

Like those of dumplings and sandwiches, the definition of veganism isn’t set in stone. Some practitioners eschew honey and sugars refined with animal-bone char, since both involve products derived from animals. Others avoid Italian aperitifs like Campari dyed with carminic acid, which is derived from crushed beetles. And then there are figs, which in and of themselves are obviously not animals, but are technically in part derived from them.

Botanically, figs aren’t fruits; they’re flowers that bloom internally, and like many flowers, they’re pollinated and propagated by insects. Specifically, fig wasps, one unique species per each of the 8,000 or so species of fig.

In the last days of her life, the female fig wasp subsists solely on figs before climbing through the tiny opening of one inverted flower to lay her eggs. Having accomplished her evolutionary purpose—not to mention having ripped off her antennae and wings when she squeezed her way inside the fig’s narrow entry—the wasp dies inside the fig while her babies gestate. Once hatched, the larvae wriggle free of the fig to continue the cycle of life. But the mother wasp is enzymatically digested by the fig until it becomes one with the plant that killed it and birthed her young. The whole routine is gross enough to turn some vegans off of figs completely, though of course this varies from person to person. But don’t worry—those crunchy bits in a fig are seeds, not wasp limbs. At least, most of the time."
fig  fruit  vegan  2019  campari  food  insects  wasps  flowers 
2 days ago by robertogreco
For Anxious Kids, Parents May Need To Learn To Let Them Face Their Fears : Shots - Health News : NPR
"For instance, when Joseph would get scared about sleeping alone, Jessica and her husband, Chris Calise, did what he asked and comforted him. "In my mind, I was doing the right thing," she says. "I would say, 'I'm right outside the door' or 'Come sleep in my bed.' I'd do whatever I could to make him feel not anxious or worried."

But this comforting — something psychologists call accommodation — can actually be counterproductive for children with anxiety disorders, Lebowitz says.

"These accommodations lead to worse anxiety in their child, rather than less anxiety," he says. That's because the child is always relying on the parents, he explains, so kids never learn to deal with stressful situations on their own and never learn they have the ability to cope with these moments.

"When you provide a lot of accommodation, the unspoken message is, 'You can't do this, so I'm going to help you,' " he says.

Lebowitz wondered if it would help to train parents to change that message and to encourage their children to face anxieties rather than flee from them.

Currently the established treatment for childhood anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy delivered directly to the child.

When researchers have tried to involve parents in their child's therapy in the past, the outcomes from studies suggested that training parents in cognitive behavioral therapy didn't make much of a difference for the child's recovery. Lebowitz says that this might be because cognitive behavioral therapy asks the child to change their behavior. "When you ask the parents to change their child's behavior, you are setting them up for a very difficult interaction," he says.

Instead, Lebowitz's research explores whether training only the parents without including direct child therapy can help. He is running experiments to compare cognitive behavioral therapy for the child with parent-only training. A study of the approach appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry last month."
children  parenting  anxiety  2019  elilebowitz  fear  psychology  accommodation  comfort  behavior 
3 days ago by robertogreco
‘Be urself’: meet the teens creating a generation gap in music | Music | The Guardian
"Instead of radio or the music press, today’s teens are discovering songs in the background of YouTube videos – creating a new breed of superstars unknown to adults"



"It is a disconcerting experience to look at your tweenage daughter’s Spotify playlists and realise that you have never heard of any of the artists. You may be aware of young stars who are hitting the charts, such as Billie Eilish, Khalid and Lauv, but what about Clairo, Khai Dreams, Beabadoobee, Girl in Red, Oohyo, Mxmtoon, Eli, Sundial and Conan Gray?

I would love to tell you that my daughter discovered them because she is a restless musical adventurer, dedicated to digging out obscurities from the cutting edge of rock and pop, but she isn’t. She is just doing what millions of other teens and tweens seem to be doing.

You can tell from the streaming figures. Girl in Red’s biggest tracks have been streamed 9m times, Khai Dreams’ 13m times. A video for Clairo’s Pretty Girl has racked up more than 30m YouTube views in the past 18 months: it consists of Clairo sitting on her bed wearing earbuds, miming into the webcam on her laptop while trying on a succession of sunglasses.

These figures obviously would not give Ariana Grande sleepless nights, but they seem remarkable given that these artists have virtually no media profile, no radio play, most don’t seem to have a record deal and they barely give interviews. A Google search reveals that Girl in Red is a gay 20-year-old from Norway who sometimes posts one-line explanations of what her songs are about (“Don’t fall in love with a straight girl”; “Be urself”; “Sad lol”) and that Clairo – real name Claire Cottrill – has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and caused a degree of online controversy when it was discovered that her father was a marketing executive with connections to the music business, leading to false accusations that she wasn’t a DIY artist at all but an “industry plant”. But that’s about it.

“I think a lot of the artists making this music are really young,” says Josh Edwards, an A&R who has been keeping a close watch: he manages Dodie, an artist who went from posting videos online to the Top 10. “The music they’re making is very much online, and there’s a feeling that if you put too much of yourself out there on the internet it can be quite dangerous.”

For want of a better name, you might call it underground bedroom pop, an alternate musical universe that feels like a manifestation of a generation gap: big with teenagers – particularly girls – and invisible to anyone over the age of 20, because it exists largely in an online world that tweens and teens find easy to navigate, but anyone older finds baffling or risible. It doesn’t need Radio 1 or what is left of the music press to become popular because it exists in a self-contained community of YouTube videos and influencers; some bedroom pop artists found their music spread thanks to its use in the background of makeup tutorials or “aesthetic” videos, the latter a phenomenon whereby vloggers post atmospheric videos of, well, aesthetically pleasing things.

“There’s a culture that exists with people on the internet to help others exist on the internet,” says Edwards. “It’s not: ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’, more: ‘I like this thing, I’ll share it.’ You get people such as Emma Chamberlain [an American YouTuber with 7m followers], who recommends songs in videos and has a playlist on Spotify. People like that seem to able to deep dive better than anybody I’ve ever known. Or this music comes up as a recommended video if you’re watching similar things on YouTube. It’s very accessible, and a lot of the songs are really short so you can consume loads of them in a short space of time.”

You would struggle to call it a scene exactly, but it is definitely bound by a loose aesthetic. It is richly melodic, but lo-fi and home-recorded. As with Eilish’s early releases, you can hear the influence of Lana Del Rey and hip-hop; more bizarrely, it occasionally sounds not unlike the kind of indie music that Sarah Records might have released in the late 80s.

Its lyrics tend to be intimate and relevant to its audience – heartbreak, sexuality, depression, confusion – and it feels raw and unmediated, untainted by the machinations of the music industry. In fact, it is hard not to see its rise in popularity as a reaction to what Jamie Oborne, the founder of Dirty Hit – the label that brought us the 1975 and Wolf Alice, and which recently signed Bea Kristi (Beabadoobee) – calls “music that’s been A&Red and styled to death”: an audience that are regularly, snottily derided as mindless sheep who will listen to anything marketed at them, ignoring whatever the music industry has decided is relatable to them and taking matters into their own hands.

“I’m not surprised at all,” says Oborne. “It’s the same as Billie Eilish: she’s a positive role model, she’s not sexualised, she’s not talking bullshit 24/7, she’s not just putting out … pollution. With Bea, at our first meeting, I said: ‘We’re not doing anything except what she wants to do.’ She’s teaching us all how to market her music.”

A video shot at Beabadoobee’s first live show and subsequently posted to her Instagram seems to speak volumes. Kristi is being mobbed by fans who look exactly like her: if you hadn’t seen a photo of her in advance, you’d find it impossible to pick out the artist from her audience. Somewhere at the side of the crowd lurks a male figure. It is her labelmate Matty Healy, passing virtually unnoticed: a pop star with three platinum albums and a fistful of Brits being ignored in favour of a girl still at school, who last year posted a muffled recording a friend had made of Coffee – the first song she ever wrote – on Spotify and Bandcamp, and watched as the streaming figures went nuts after “someone put it on a YouTube video”.

“I actually don’t know why it was successful,” says Kristi, who wrote Coffee under the influence of Daniel Johnston and Mazzy Star. “I like to think it’s because it’s something raw. I had no experience, no clue – it’s just me and my guitar and my friend Haresh whistling, recorded on a shitty mic. I feel like something raw touches people more.” She was “kind of off” when record labels started approaching her, but eventually signed with Dirty Hit – which recently released her EP Patched Up – because “they allowed me to do whatever I want”.

Edwards isn’t sure how many artists will follow that path, saying they are, instead, “self-funding, making their own way”. Still, he says, it probably won’t be too long before a record label tries to manufacture a new pop artist with a lo-fi aesthetic; when a real, rather than imagined, “industry plant” appears. “There are parts of what this bedroom pop world is doing that mainstream pop currently can’t, because it’s about limited resources, about being organic, not too overproduced or prim and proper. Of course,” he laughs, “that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a time when mainstream pop won’t give it a go.”"
diy  music  youtube  youth  teens  communication  children  community  2019  aesthetics 
3 days ago by robertogreco
The Cut on Tuesdays Episode 18: The Secret to Natasha Lyonne’s Success: Resisting the Urge to Stay in Bed
On this week’s show, we’re bringing you some of our favorite conversations from the How I Get It Done live event that happened earlier this month. Like Natasha Lyonne, explaining the No. 1 fundamental secret to success.
Natasha: You gotta leave the house in this life, right? I always find that I’m dreading, dreading, dreading leaving the house. I’m like, “Please don’t ask me to do anything ever. I’m begging you.” Leaving the house is a crucial element of participation in life that is very instinctual to want to resist. If you give me a day off, my dream is to stay in bed all fucking day with nobody around.


So, if you’ve successfully left the house: well done. The next step is getting used to rejection. Natasha and her Russian Doll co-star Greta Lee had this to say about the rejection that actually made their new show possible.
Natasha: Listen, Russian Doll was the big achievement, but prior to that, Greta and I had also done together a different show that I created with Amy Poehler at NBC that actually got rejected severely.

Greta: Yeah, actually denied. Dead in the water.

Natasha: And that show was called Old Soul … After that show didn’t happen, Poehler turned to me and she said, “Hey, what’s the show we would really want to make if there were no rules, if there was no network, if it was just anything, what do we really, really want to say?” And that became the early ideas of the formation of what would become the show we created a together called Russian Doll.


Natasha said that, at this point, she’s glad that first show was rejected. It was liberating.
Natasha: Rejection is God’s protection. Like in the truth of the matter was, we had no way of knowing at the time of that in fact we were going to end up making something that was far, far greater just in terms of, on an integrity level of the things I really want to say in this life, being an opportunity and a forum to be able to sort of speak whatever our own version of the truth is without sounding too grandiose.

Greta: Thank God Old Soul didn’t get picked up.

Natasha: It’s almost like a relationship where it’s like, it’s not that this guy wasn’t great; it’s just, thank goodness I didn’t have a baby with him.


Click above to hear more, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
advice  life  living  natashalyonne  2019  russiandoll  gretalee  rejection  motivation 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Forget Poppies, Ojai’s Pixie Season Is the California Nature Event to Know - Vogue
"Ojai pixie season is here. Along Main Street, the red banners are strung up between the arches of the shopping arcade. Fruit stands greet you as you drive into town. And wherever you go, the floral, honeyed scent of pixies floats through the air.

Ojai is the only place in the world where pixies are grown. The citrus fruit is native to this region, but is actually the result of science, not nature. Researchers at UC Riverside developed it inside a lab in the 1950s, and released the hybrid crop to the public in 1965. However, due to the fruit’s asymmetrical shape and irregular picking season, experts never thought pixies would hold commercial value.

Boy, were they wrong.

The cult of the pixie took off in the late 1990s, when local growers realized they were sitting on a goldmine. With a bit of clever marketing, the wondrous, elusive fruit from southern California soon became sought after by wholesalers around the world (in Japan, they have a rapt audience). Still, it’s safe to say no one loves the pixies quite like Ojai.

Pixies are a notoriously fussy citrus: they only come out for a few weeks each year. And they depend on a very particular kind of microclimate (hot summers alternating with cool evenings)—exactly the conditions that Ojai provides. For residents, the yearly arrival of the tiny, seedless fruit is cause for city-wide celebration.

During pixie season, which lasts from mid-March through the end of April, the fruit’s star quality is in full force. Chefs in Ojai go wild: Chocolate dipped pixies. Pixie cheesecake. Pixies in a salad. Pixie cocktails. Pixie-flavored frozen yogurt. Pixie kombucha.

At Azu, a Mediterranean bistro on Main Street, it’s normal to sit down to a full meal with pixie in every bite. Chef Noah del Toro has a special this month: pan-seared sea scallops on a bed of grilled pixie-fennel risotto. Dessert is pixie jello layered with smooth panna cotta. The restaurant’s brewery, located four blocks down the road, has a signature white ale. Its flavor? You guessed it, pixie.

But for all its marketability, the path to pixie prosperity hasn’t been easy. At Friend’s Ranch, a family-owned citrus farm that ships giant cases of pixies to homes and businesses all over the country, the work is ongoing. Flood, drought, and rare overnight freezes can turn a citrus grower’s life upside down, and Emily Ayala, the fifth-generation matriarch of the business, has witnessed them all first-hand.

“This is the first year in eight years that we’ve had a normal rainfall,” she explains gleefully. “It’s like money falling out of the sky.” By all accounts, this is a much happier year than 2018, when her crop suffered from the after-effects of the deadly Thomas fires. That is, what was left of it—following the blaze, Ayala said she lost 15 percent of her acreage in Matilija Canyon. As with any agriculture business, nature remains the ruler.

Ayala, a mother of two, has a warm, focused presence among the clatter of sorting machines and air vents. The entrance to her bright turquoise packing house on Highway 33 doubles as a storefront where visitors can pick up jars of orange blossom honey, or souvenirs like pixie-themed tin lunch boxes. All of the merchandise is laid out on the surface of a rusted flat-bed wagon.

“Every time I get mad at our PVC lines breaking, I think how my grandfather was using that wagon to haul buckets of water to every tree, all summer long,” she says. “It was back-breaking work.”

Drudgery is how citrus farmers would describe it, but the sheer beauty of Ojai helps offset the stress. It’s easy to see why so many choose to live here. A leisurely drive on the backroads of Ojai packs a punch. On the east side of the valley, tranquil Grand Avenue feels plucked right out of southern France. Thick stone walls hem lush citrus fields, and sunlight filters through swaying California pepper trees. You’ll also want to leap out of the car and go frolicking through endless rows of symmetrical pixie and orange trees, but don’t (the groves are closed to visitors).

The abundant pixie groves are particularly striking when you consider that in a few weeks, the fruit will all be gone. Much has been made of Ojai’s spiritual attributes, and places like Krishnamurti Foundation and Meditation Mount shouldn’t be overlooked. But showing up in April for the pixie harvest, it’s hard not to get swept up in the swell of joy that knits this valley together. The pixies are a fleeting pleasure, and that’s exactly what makes them so special."
oranges  fruit  ojai  california  2019 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Thinking about how to abolish prisons with Mariame Kaba: podcast & transcript
"Does anybody go to their local prison and say, "Tell me how many people have left here and are okay and aren't doing things in the community." Nothing. You don't ask the cops for results. We don't ask anybody for results. They're not responsible for coming with an evaluation plan to show how they've used the money. They get unlimited money every single year, more and more and more money, no questions asked. How come that system gets to operate with impunity in that kind of way? And you're asking nonprofit groups on the ground who sometimes are not even nonprofits, just community groups in their neighborhoods, moms sitting on chairs... When they are trying to get a $10,000 grant, to show that they're going to end all violence within five years.

So the whole entire system is set up to actually be just unbalanced in terms of where the energy should be put, in terms of telling that system that is doing the wrong thing, rather than advancing the alternative.

CHRIS HAYES: And it's also not doing... People are victims and perpetrators of —

MARIAME KABA: Both.

CHRIS HAYES: Violence —

MARIAME KABA: All the time.

CHRIS HAYES: It's extremely important for us, in the stories we tell about violence and crime, to basically have cops and robbers.

MARIAME KABA: Good people.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a category over here... And the fact is all people —

MARIAME KABA: We're all both.

CHRIS HAYES: Are all both.

MARIAME KABA: That's very uncomfortable to talk about loudly.

CHRIS HAYES: Are perpetrators and —

MARIAME KABA: That we all harm people and we've all been harmed. Now the degrees are different, our accountability is different. But we're all both. Danielle Sered has a new book out right now, who runs Common Justice here in Brooklyn. And Common Justice is the only program I know of that works with adults to divert adults from prison to the community for violent crimes. So they're doing it. The thing, "I can't wrap my brain around..." Well, they're doing it. Okay? Are they getting $172 billion to do this? No.

What Danielle says in her new book is that no one enters violence for the first time having committed it. Meaning that something happened to you that led to that other form of violence of you either lashing out, using violence, because that's how you learned how to be whatever. No one enters violence for the first time having committed it.

And just that very important thing should condition all of our responses to everything. And it's not. It doesn't. It's the binary. You did something wrong. You're a bad person. You did something ... We all do bad things. We all do bad things. Whether it's out in the open and we acknowledge those things, or we're keeping it to ourselves because we know it's bad and we don't want to be ostracized or disposed of things like that. So we all do that. And I just think that's what transformative and restorative justice allow. They allow for people to be both.

CHRIS HAYES: But there's also... Just to push back slightly —

MARIAME KABA: Of course.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a hierarchy of harm, you know what I mean?

MARIAME KABA: There is. We talked about that. We have different levels of bad things, degrees of bad things, but let me just tell you also, the people who are least likely to cause the same harm again are people who've killed somebody. I know nobody wants to hear that, but it's because it's very hard to kill people. Contrary to what television tells you about serial killers, those images of crime, those crime shows that have literally polluted so many people's brains in this country.

Contrary to that, if you kill somebody, it is such a massively traumatic thing to have done to another person. Unless you are somebody who is evil without any sort of conscience, you are holding that the rest of your life. Go to any prison. And I've been to many, and I've actually taught in prisons, particularly a young people in juvenile facilities. When somebody killed somebody else, the level of remorse for that is something that is inexplicable to somebody who hasn't experienced it and done that.

So this notion that people are just "sociopaths," which I don't like to use that term either because it's very complicated and not directly linked in terms of mental health and violence. The ideas that people offer out there in the general public often take away that idea, the idea of that harm being so traumatic to the person who harmed you, too.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean the literature of army training, this is this sort of thing that happens. There's this famous study and I think it happens in World War II, in which they find out that a huge amount of soldiers are never firing their guns.

MARIAME KABA: Because it's so hard to kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: And they're like, "Oh my God, what's going on?" And the answer is, it's actually very hard—

MARIAME KABA: To kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: To overcome. And the training in the United States Armed Services uses that to get around that natural moral resistance that we have.

MARIAME KABA: As human beings, it is hard for us to kill other people. That sounds like an anathema.

CHRIS HAYES: It does. Because the whole idea of the model is thin blue line. That basically we're always on the edge of chaos, anarchy, and violence. And that the cops and the system are the thing that ... that’s literally what they say.

MARIAME KABA: Are the thing that stops it from happening. They're the line between us and savagery and anarchy. And that is a lie, because we know that by talking to people who've harmed other people very seriously, who often are desperate for an attempt to try to be accountable for that. They want a chance to talk to the families of the people they harmed because they want to talk to those people, because accountability is a form of healing. To say you did something and it was terrible, and now you're serving 50 years in prison with no chance of getting out. You want to be able to go to sleep at night.

CHRIS HAYES: I 1,000 percent agree with you that the storytelling and the policy rationale of the actual system is built out from the most extreme examples outward, right? So the pop cultural representations, the way we think about it like monsters, sociopaths, these immoral remorseless killers.

MARIAME KABA: But the question is, what about the remorseless?

CHRIS HAYES: That's where I'm going.

MARIAME KABA: And my thing is, I'm going to tell you right now that the remorseless killer who is caught is probably currently locked up for life. Right? Because that's where they're going to end up. My thing is within the new paradigm of a world that I envision, because so many things will have been different, because people will have had their needs met from the time they're a kid.

CHRIS HAYES: How did that remorseless killer get built?

MARIAME KABA: How did they get built? And so my thing is, I think we're going to shift the paradigm in the end so that we have less "remorseless" people. And so we're going to find a different way to handle those people who cannot in good conscience be within our regular society. But it doesn't have to be a prison. It doesn't have to be the prison as we've created it.

So that's the answer for me to that, which is we're going to figure it out. We're going to figure it out. But for now, most people who are locked up are not those people. For now, most people who are...

CHRIS HAYES: That is — I want to just be clear on the record — I 1,000 percent agree with that.

MARIAME KABA: So let's let all those people out tomorrow and then let's argue over the rest, while we're changing the other things that happen. And I'm going to say one last thing about this, which is the reason I can't get behind the right's criminal punishment reform models is not because they're on the right. It's because they refuse to fund and address all the things on the front end that would make the back end not possible. Because what they're doing is saying, "We need shorter sentences for some people, not everybody. We need a better re-entry system by which people get training for jobs that don't exist based on not having been educated from the time they were in the fourth grade in the first place."

So we just fundamentally have an ideological completely different view of how the world operates. In that way, I don't want Newt Gingrich out there doing criminal punishment reform. That is very antithetical to most of the reformers you're seeing out there right now. Who value the "bipartisan" stupid policy.

No. I want them to fund our schools, to allow us to have a planet. I want them to be able to give universal health care to people, because I believe that all those things, will make all the other stuff that were "working on" in criminal punishment reform less likely to occur."
mariamekaba  chrishayes  prisons  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  2019  prisonabolition  abolition  law  legal  restorativejustice  punishment  elizabethwarren  donaldtrump  wrath  accountability  justice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  crime  prisonindustrialcomplex  violence  paulmanafort  politics  policy  anger  remorse  hierarchy  systemsthinking  inequality  race  racism  nyc  education  mindchanging  domesticviolence  patriarchy  feminism 
5 days ago by robertogreco
Christina Torres on Twitter: "writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it. "well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..." no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perp
"writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it.

"well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..."

no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perpetuates idea that ONLY white dudes write great stuff.

honestly I bless @ChimamandaReal's name nearly every day for this TED talk so I can just link to it tbh https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

really I'm just reading myself in this piece

... and not really writing because I'm on here instead lol
Still, over the past year, I've really sat with that question: how much am I actually dismantling systemic oppression in my work if I'm still teaching within the confines of its language?

yup I'm putting together a chart folks. Send me arguments you've heard in favor of the canon and your rebuttal! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CaQ7OhhZlY1V_0xfoDxtzk0QtOjzuW8TKgttoGNfxH0/edit?usp=sharing

also: anyone interested in this, please know that #disrupttexts has been doing this work and got me on this train so mad props to them

https://twitter.com/DulceFlecha/status/1116459497768275969
ever since seeing Julia Alvarez and Elizabeth Acevedo I've been thinking about how kids of color are conditioned to write for white audiences, too. who do we teach young writers to prioritize.

and its perpetuated over and over, through canon, through college admissions, through the whiteness of the profession. I keep meaning to write about it.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458774405971968
For me, one of the deepest issues is that folks defend it using the words "tradition" and "shared knowledge" ignoring the fact that it centers only SOME traditions and SOME shared knowledge.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116460583350669318
I cannot state this enough because a "shared cultural heritage" dominated by one culture at the exclusion of so many others is damaging and not a heritage I will choose to claim as my own. "Educational malpractice"...

https://twitter.com/triciaebarvia/status/1116638447484190720
Yup. And reminds me of what I think @Ready4rigor wrote (paraphrasing) about how all teaching is culturally responsive—it’s just a question of whose culture we’re responsive to. 🤔 #DisruptTexts

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458934582304768
So, we need to all circle around whiteness and protect it by making sure kids learn MOSTLY about it for the sake of tradition? Nah, fam...

https://twitter.com/UmmJuwayriyah1/status/1116516073673842688
Definitely, nah! As an indigenous American Muslim author, I see it happening on this side of the pond, too! Asian and/or Middle Eastern and mostly male narratives are amplified for inclusion in the canon. While Black/Brown American Muslim narratives sit outside the door.

https://twitter.com/MelAlterSmith/status/1116461945731858437
Hard to believe there are still teachers out there who have “canon defender” in their bio. Actually, it’s not hard to believe at all... sigh. 😩

#DisruptTexts #THEBOOKCHAT & #TeachLivingPoets are growing- I hope we can help to make some serious change in complicating the canon

https://twitter.com/javramgoldsc/status/1116809046437183489
Covered Octavia Butler in class this yr (tbf I'm in Uni), but I think the hopepunk canon will be a major catalyst

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116091237281533954
I’m a white woman, and even I felt like my tastes were mostly ignored in HS, except when we read something like Pride and Prejudice (optional because we can’t make the boys read about women!).

https://twitter.com/biblio_phile/status/1116092299669229568
right?!?! honestly it was a few white women I was battling this out with. I wanted to be like-- if you were given books ONLY by men, you would have been ticked. Why is that okay when it comes to race/sexuality/class/other non-canon perspectives!??!?!

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116093753641644033
It makes me wonder how much the canon-lovers read. If they had experienced more variety, some classics by other types of people, some modern books, some great graphic novels, maybe they’d be more open to teaching more variety.

https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/1116603199605989378
"History is written by the victors"~Churchill
Yes! Great stuff was written & said by victors:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created.." (only ~200 years before MLK was murdered)
"Liberty and Justice for.." [embedded: https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/904754635222663169 ]
"Land of the.." etc.
thecanon  canon  christinatorres  2019  inclusion  inclusivity  tradition  chimamandaadichie  juliaalvarez  elizabethacevedo  admissions  colleges  education  inequality  universities  culture  heritage  exclusion  gender  race  racism  sexism  octaviabutler  hopepunk  sexuality  class  diversity  classics 
5 days ago by robertogreco
Aaron Bady on Twitter: "When you read about history of "The Coffee Shop," writers LOVE to gloss over the Middle-Eastern origin so they can get to the fun part where England invents The Public Sphere"
"When you read about history of "The Coffee Shop," writers LOVE to gloss over the Middle-Eastern origin so they can get to the fun part where England invents The Public Sphere

My man Ralph Hattox in 1985 seems to know what's up, tho https://archive.org/stream/CoffeeAndCoffeehouses/%5BRalph_S._Hattox%5D_Coffee_and_Coffeehouses_The_Ori%28BookZZ.org%29_djvu.txt

love "the near east"

"Once coffee had been taken out of the context of the Sufi dhikr and introduced into general consumption, it was embraced by an entirely different group of advocates, and with them the associations and images connected with the drink changed..."

"...While it remained one of the props of the nocturnal devotional services of the Sufis, others, perhaps less spiritually inclined, found it a pleasant stimulus to talk and sociability. From this the coffeehouse was born"

"If you draw the analogy between coffee and intoxicants you are drawing a false one . . . One drinks coffee with the name of the lord on his lips, and stays awake, while the person who seeks wanton delight in intoxicants disregards the Lord, and gets drunk""
aaronbady  coffeeshops  cafes  history  middleeast  coffee  neareast  2019  1985  ralphhattox 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Mαtt Thomαs on Twitter: "Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”"
"Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”

.@Jessifer begins by talking about some personal stufff, as a deliberate tactic to situate himself as a human being amongst other human beings. Something to also do on the first day of class, etc.

.@Jessifer says he doesn’t use the LMS at his school because he doesn’t want students to encounter and interface with it before him, a person.

.@Jessifer points out that today syllabuses are often generated from required, stock, auto-generated templates. This sort of “scaffolding,” however, presumes a lot of things about how learning happens that might not be useful.

For instance, many of us (read: teachers) are designing courses and assignments for students we don’t even know yet. To bring in the work of @saragoldrickrab, we need to design for the students we have, not the students we wish we had.

What happens, for instance, when you learn that 1 in 2 students face food insecurity issues? How might that change how you design courses/assignments?

.@Jessifer moves on to talk about grades. They’re not some universal constant, but rather a technology that we have to learn to use, or perhaps not use.

Grading reduces learning to a transaction instead of a set of human relationships.

College teachers have often internalized ways of grading that they can perhaps free themselves from. @Jessifer says we need to “raise a critical eyebrow” at our own grading practices — e.g., our rubrics. He argues against scale, for a return to subjectivity!

In the gradebook students are reduced to rows, in the rubric reduced to columns.

Especially important things to think about, @Jessifer points out, now that almost all colleges have adopted Learning Management Systems, course “shells,” and standardized syllabuses.

.@Jessifer has recently moved to shorter-worded assignments that ask for non-traditional products. Reconceptualize the internet using analog tools, re-order the words of a poem — then document your process!"
jessestommel  mattthomas  2019  rubrics  grading  teaching  syllabus  assessment  howweteach  howwelearn  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  humanism  lms  templates  standardization  writing  howwewrite  form  alternative  syllabi 
6 days ago by robertogreco
The Best Indian Food In LA Is In A Gas Station | Legendary Eats - YouTube
"This brother and sister team serve some of LA's best Indian food in their family's gas station. Instead of serving typical fast food, they decided to serve the food that they grew up eating. When you visit Bombay Frankie Company, you'll find long lines of people clamoring for delicious curries and the best chicken tikka masala you can imagine, all wrapped up in freshly baked naan straight from the tandoor oven.

For more, visit http://www.thebombayfrankiecompany.com "
food  indian  losangeles  restaurants  2019  burritos 
8 days ago by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”

***

When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.

***

Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."



"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
10 days ago by robertogreco
Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart
"He holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Like many Ivy League grads, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey. He won a national essay contest in high school. He speaks eight languages, including English, Norwegian, Maltese, Italian, French, Spanish, Dari, and Arabic. He learned Norwegian to read a favorite author in that language, and at a recent press conference, spoke with some Norwegian journalists in their native tongue. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

He’s been precocious all his life — no wonder that at only thirty-seven he’s running for president. Pete Buttigieg, son of two professors, is a classic Smart Dude, and there is nothing journalists love more. His followers even have a proudly know-it-all approach to his name, showing up at his rallies with signs explaining, “It’s Pete BOOT-Edge-Edge.” He says he’s all about “bringing forward good ideas.”

For the upper professional-managerial class (PMC), guys like this represent a dreamy ideal of human supremacy. That’s because for them, all of life is an Ivy League application. Well-rounded “smartness” is everything, even in the wake of recent news that this is not necessarily what elite college admissions are based upon.

As a result, BOOTedgedge has been the focus of a media frenzy, despite polling far behind Sanders and Biden (even 538 is skeptical of his recent much-ballyhooed jump in Iowa). CNN’s Chris Cillizza finds his resumé “remarkable.” Some call him “bookish.” Queerty.com exults that he “represents the best and brightest of our country.” A New Republic headline uses the word “Genius.”

Liberal feminists have rightly bristled at the collective ecstasy over the mighty dome of BOOTedgedge. When economist boy-wonder Alan Cole tweeted this week, “Mayor Pete seems head and shoulders smarter than the other candidates running and IMO that should count for quite a lot,” he was widely and correctly rebuked for sexism. What about Elizabeth Warren, asked Katha Pollitt, Jill Filipovic, and many others. The Twittersphere weighed in with lists of Warren’s accomplishments. Others pointed out that the tweet was possibly racist as well as sexist; Julian Castro holds degrees from Harvard, Harvard Law School, and Stanford, and Cory Booker was, like BOOTedgedge, a Rhodes Scholar, among a pile of other academic achievements.

The question of what “smart” even means and why this type of smart should matter in a presidential race got less attention. One person rightly asked, “are you sure he’s not just smart in the ways you also fancy yourself to also be smart.” No one asked why this particular form of well-credentialed “smart” should “count for quite a lot.”

That’s because while the PMC are often eager to be more inclusive about who gets to be “smart” — women, black people — they have tremendous faith in the concept itself. They love rich people whose intelligence has made them prosper: they may cringe at the science-denying Koch Brothers but they went into deep mourning when Steve Jobs died. They devour Malcolm Gladwell’s veneration of the wisdom of genius entrepreneurs over the plodding, clueless masses.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

The PMC therefore tries hard to make their children “gifted” and to nourish their talents, an effort that is supposed to culminate in the kind of august institutional validation that BOOTedgedge has enjoyed. Because they have, all their lives, felt a certain panic about the need to be college-application impressive, the PMC has come to see such impressiveness as somehow morally admirable. For people like this, the recent college admissions scandal, exposing corruption at institutions like Yale and USC, occasions not eye-rolling and wisecracks, as it does on dirtbag Twitter (this writer is guilty), but earnest hand-wringing about fairness and social justice. Smartness, to them, makes some people more deserving of the good life than others. Smartness culture is social Darwinism for liberals.

This obsession pervades the politics of the PMC. Trump’s proud ignorance and shameless pandering to the nation’s dumbness often seems to gall them more than his inhumane, death-drive policies. This class always seeks a Smart Dude as savior. Obama, of course, represents successful fulfillment of this dream, and they can’t wait to repeat it. Beto, after some initial signs of promise, has now revealed himself to be a dummy who has to ask his wife on the proper usage of “subconscious.” Hence, BOOTedgedge mania.

The quest reflects a theory of change in which, as political scientist Adolph Reed Jr remarked years ago, describing the worldview of some of his academic colleagues, “all the smart people get together on the Vineyard and solve the world’s problems.” Davos is the fullest expression of this: elites get together and showcase how smart they are, advertising how fit they are to be our ruling elites.

It’s oddly banal, the culture of smart. Like most of the detritus of “smartness” culture, from Freakonomics to TED Talks to NPR, BOOTedgedge is politically underwhelming. What good ideas he has are shared by other candidates in the crowded field, some originating from politicians to his left, like Bernie Sanders. His bad ideas are hardly edgy, either: capitalism can be good while government regulation can be bad.

This Democratic primary lineup is not the worst, and within it, neither is Mayor Pete (the term used by those not quite smart enough to pronounce BOOTedgedge). He seems to support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in some form. He invested in infrastructure in South Bend. He won office as an openly gay man in Mike Pence country and has a record of connecting with voters who voted for Trump. And there’s no question that he’d be a better president than Trump or some of his Democratic primary competitors. We do need a president capable of reading a book, not one reveling proudly in his ignorance like the current occupant of the White House, who seems to reflect our dumbest tendencies insultingly right back to us. (When Trump this week fantasized that a Hillary Clinton victory would have turned the power grid over to solar energy and deprived us of the joy of watching TV, the writer Tara Rose aptly observed, “He’s so perfect for the kind of stupid that we are.”) A BOOTedgedge presidency would reassure those of us who believe in things like science and logic that we have stepped back from the braying idiocy that now envelopes us like a toxic plume. Of course, that would be a pleasant reprieve.

But the obsession with his kind of ostentatious intelligence is deeply unserious and anti-democratic. “Smart” is not going to save us, and fetishizing its most conventional manifestations shores up bourgeois ideology and undermines the genuinely emancipatory politics of collective action. Bernie Sanders, instead of showing off his University of Chicago education, touts the power of the masses: “Not Me, Us.” The cult of the Smart Dude leads us into just the opposite place, which is probably why some liberals like it so much."
elitism  meritocracy  2019  petebuttigieg  smartness  lizafeatherstone  inequality  berniesanders  politics  elections  saviors  merit  liberalism  socialdarwinism  malcolmgladwell  genius 
10 days ago by robertogreco
Why College Is So Expensive In America - YouTube
"College in the United States is expensive. The cost of higher education just keeps going up. Tuition costs at both public and private universities have doubled since the late 80s, while accounting for inflation.

"I think that it's so ingrained in your head that you have to go to college, that college is the next step after graduation," said Jarret Freeman, a college graduate with roughly $50,000 in student debt. "I think in hindsight, I see that college is not for everyone."

But a college education is becoming more and more necessary to succeed in today's economy. Georgetown University estimates that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require more than a high school degree.

Students graduate with an average of $37,172 in student loan debt. It all adds up to $1.5 trillion across the country.

Watch the video above to learn how higher education became big business, hear from former students facing mounting debt and explore why it's so important to solve the student debt crisis."
colleges  universities  tuition  studentloans  studentdebt  money  2019  education  highered  highereducation  rankings  usnewsandworldreport  wealth  inequality  tests  testing  meritocracy  data  sat  standardizedtesting  funding 
15 days ago by robertogreco
Birding gets new life in this YouTube nature series - The Verge
"Jason Ward brings the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world of birding to YouTube in the new video series, Birds of North America. The series follows Ward as he tracks birds through New York’s Central Park, talks bird-themed tattoos, and studies the preserved remains of extinct birds at the American Museum of Natural History.

The video series is only three episodes into season 1’s 12-episode run, and it’s hosted on the YouTube channel of digital storytelling brand Topic.com. In the videos, the camera shakes as it chases Ward to bird sightings, where Ward brings a lively approach to what’s often stereotyped as a stodgy pastime. Ward compares speedy peregrine falcons to sky Lamborghinis, and the hard-to-describe call of the rose-breasted grosbeak to the squeak of a basketball shoe on hardwood. The camera alternates between views of Ward, and his views of tiny birds hiding in branches.

Ward’s view of nature isn’t all peaceful bird-watching. “People occasionally think we live in this Disney-inspired world, where all the songbirds are just singing and getting along,” he says. “But no, these birds are all attacking each other.” Raptors eat smaller birds, songbirds shove each other off food sources, and hummingbirds? “Hummingbirds will attack everything,” he says."
jasonward  birds  birding  youtube  television  animals  multispecies  nature  2019 
15 days ago by robertogreco
Review: At Fonda Mixcoac in Anaheim, order a cheesy 29-inch machete. Bring friends - Los Angeles Times
"There is more to Fonda Mixcoac than machetes.

But you’re here, in Anaheim, four miles but a world away from the tourist hotels and chain restaurants of Disneylandia, for the machetes. A staple of Mexico City street stalls since at least the 1960s, they are the freak show cousins of quesadillas and huaraches: roughly the length of a Louisville Slugger, a folded-over surfboard of masa stuffed with two or three meals’ worth of cheese-smothered meats and veggies.

Fonda Mixcoac is run by several members of the Villegas family, a multi-generational clan who routinely trade off kitchen duties. The elder Villegas, Jose, opened the restaurant about five years ago with a vision that was simple and twofold: to carve out a niche for machetes in Southern California, where they are still relatively hard to find — and to make machetes bigger than those in Mexico City.

To that end, Fonda Mixcoac makes 29-inch machetes — griddle-crisped behemoths so long they barely fit on the restaurant’s tables. (A 12-inch, junior-size version called a machetito is also available). I’m told it took the family years to fine-tune a masa recipe sturdy and stretchy enough to withstand the dish’s exaggerated proportions. They’re stuffed with the standard guisados: thin sheets of the marinated beef called cecina de res; slinky, gooey pork skins of chicharrón prensado; juicy, slightly spicy nubs of homemade chorizo. You can configure a vegetarian machete from wilted, buttery flor de calabaza (squash blossoms); smoky rajas with epazote; or a thick spread of huitlacoche, the earthy, jet-black corn fungus that’s been a culinary staple in Mexico since pre-Columbian times.

Your machete is bulging with melted Oaxaca cheese, finely chopped iceberg lettuce and rivulets of crema fresca. It lands on the table with a whiff of head-turning fanfare, wrapped in the perfume of clean, hot oil. You whip out your smartphone to take pictures. Someone gently raises the baby cradled in their arms next to the machete for a sense of scale (the machete is bigger). It takes three or four adults to polish off one two-plus-foot-long machete. Someone else wisely carves into the dish, divvying it up into smaller, more manageable sections. Hot cheese dribbles out of every loose end. When you take a bite, the fried corn shell splinters against your teeth with a sharp crunch. Stretchy ribbons of cheese and quivering flaps of meat threaten to splatter onto the table. You devour your piece in one unseemly breath, nearly smashing it into your mouth to avoid spillage.

Beyond machetes, the cafe’s wide-ranging menu hews closely to the foods that Jose Villegas grew up eating in Mexico City, and his devotion to home-style Mexican cooking is broadcast loud and clear on the menu. “COMIDA MEXICANA,” the cover declares in all-caps typeface. “No ‘Mexican Food’.”

“My dad always says that if you want ‘Mexican food,’ go to Taco Bell,” Jose Villegas’ son, Erick, explains. “But if you want comida Mexicana, come here.”

So, in place of Doritos Locos Tacos, there are pambazos, plump, chile-stained French roll sandwiches stuffed with a cheesy blend of chorizo and potatoes. There’s beefy alambre, a platter of chopped steak, ham, peppers, onions and bacon fused together with lavish amounts of melted cheese, served with short stacks of hot corn tortillas. Huaraches, smeared with black beans and blanketed with queso fresco, are crisp and massive. Try the huarache azteca, furnished with thin, salty scraps of cecina, grilled onions, nopales, avocado and a drizzle of fresh salsa verde.

There are tacos made with nubbins of gently charred carne asada, or loosely packed with a creamy, spicy choriqueso. The al pastor is altogether unremarkable, but there is always cecina de res, air-dried beef that has something of the clean, thin-sliced, salty appeal of prosciutto.

On the weekends, the restaurant slow-cooks large quantities of lamb barbacoa, a city version of rural Hidalgo’s famous pit-roasted barbecue. The meat is shredded into flossy, slightly chewy tendrils that are gently charred around the edges on the grill and piled into aluminum to-go containers. If you order the family-style barbacoa package, it comes with a large bowl of consommé, a deep, musky aromatic broth filled with stewed garbanzo beans. You splash the meat with some of that lovely, meaty broth, and eat it with hot tortillas and salsa roja.

But a half-pound of lamb is probably not why you wandered into Fonda Mixcoac’s sunny, bare-bones dining room in the first place. You came for the same reason that people pile into small, sun-baked boats off the coast of Baja California every spring to see the blue whales that pass through the Sea of Cortez: to spy for yourself a rare colossus that’s impossible to forget once you’ve seen it in the flesh."
food  anaheim  orangecounty  mexican  restaurants  2019 
15 days ago by robertogreco
Muni Poetry - Hooray for the Buses (36 Teresita) | Arts and Culture | thebaycitybeacon.com
"Hooray for the Buses (36 Teresita)

“Hooray for the Buses” was the title of a flyer the Miraloma Park Improvement Club distributed in advance of the opening of a new bus line in the neighborhood.

Your first inbound stop
is the same first stop
for inbound babies
at St Luke's Maternity ward.
Same terminal transfer point to under hill
as folks outbound at Laguna Honda too.

Your first operator was the Mayor
and your inauguration followed
in the wake of a marching
Drum Corps, Bugle Corps,
Parkside Post Legion plus the Municipal Band
and a bicycle parade.

A panoramic drive,
sometimes Sutro fills your windscreen,
a city view, a sea view, a sky view,
cross over Portola, snake
along your namesake street
or in daylight climb a prominent spur.

Teresita you keep secrets too,
an old name and an old number,
a secret stop you almost always skip.
In eighty years what whispers
have you heard but buried
under a blanket of fog?

Ply the highest prominences of the City,
Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson and Mount Sutro.
Serve spectacular scenes but also
connect neighborhoods and
humbly serve daily passengers,
commuters still need to get to work.

A young boy might be riding to school,
An elder may need to get to the doctor,
A pilgrim may need to get to the cross,
A wedding party is going to the conservatory,
be right on time for their transfers!
This is not your last stop."

[See also:

"Muni Poetry: Spectacle of the Turn (33 Stanyan)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry-spectacle-of-the-turn-stanyan/article_193daebe-4f43-11e9-bcff-13b286542f0f.html

"Muni Poetry - Sky Line (25 Treasure Island)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---sky-line-treasure-island/article_8f1a21bc-4999-11e9-9cc0-2b8a1c3a9246.html

"Muni Poems - 37 Corbett"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poems---corbett/article_fa98f746-443b-11e9-9d03-e7ed732b8a57.html

"This is Just to Say (38 Geary)"
https://twitter.com/BayCity_Beacon/status/1105838429739208704 ]
muni  36teresita  buses  sanfrancisco  publictransit  2019  poetry  38geary  37corbett  33stanyan  25treasureisland  classideas  poety  poems  mcallen 
16 days ago by robertogreco
How Harvard and Other Colleges Manage Their Endowments - YouTube
"College is expensive, but there is one place in higher education where there's no shortage of money – endowments. There's more than $616 billion worth of endowments assets in the U.S. Lawmakers are starting to questions why tuition is still rising if some schools have billions of dollars."
colleges  universities  ivyleague  endowments  2019  money  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  inequality  finance  highereducation  highered  power  wealth  universityoftexas  hedgefunds  yale  charity  hoarding  taxes  investment  stanford  divestment  economics  policy  politics  princeton 
17 days ago by robertogreco
Evaluating scholarship, or why I won’t be teaching Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | Blayne Haggart's Orangespace
"In his review, which is a wonder of careful thinking and contextualization, Morozov performs a couple of useful services. First, he highlights the extent to which Zuboff’s argument about how surveillance capitalism works rests on a tautology – “surveillance capitalists engage in surveillance capitalism because this is what the imperatives of surveillance capitalism demand” – that leaves they why of the matter unexamined. Second, he places her squarely within an intellectual tradition of “managerial capitalism” and a wider functionalist tradition in sociology associated with Talcott Parsons. Morozov argues that partly as a result of this (unacknowledged) mindset, Zuboff fails to understand the extent to which her critique of surveillance capitalism is actually a critique of capitalism, full stop. This inability to see anything outside the mindset of capitalism accounts for the way the book just kind of finishes without suggesting any real possible paths forward other than, we need a new social movement, and surveillance capitalism must be destroyed and replaced with a better form of (digital?) capitalism.

I hadn’t made those exact connections, and Morozov’s review does a great job in concisely summing up these intellectual frameworks. And if you didn’t know anything about managerial capitalism and Alfred Chandler, or the Italian Autonomists, you could also be forgiven for not making those connections either. I knew very little about managerial capitalism, nothing of Alfred Chandler. I am familiar with Parsons and my only exposure to the Italian Autonomists was by reading Hardt and Negri’s Empire during my PhD, which was enough to convince me that I wanted nothing to do with them.

Morozov’s final conclusion is both persuasive and damning from an academic perspective. The book, he says, could be politically powerful because it is a sharp broadside against two companies – Google and Facebook – that represent a clear and present danger to society. However, it “is a step backward in our understanding of the dynamics of the digital economy.”

I think that’s about right.

I am also pretty sure that, despite the acclaim it’s getting in non-Baffler circles, I’m not going to be teaching The Age of Surveillance Capitalism in my Global Political Economy of Knowledge course, but not because I disagree with Zuboff’s argument or feel threatened by her analysis. To the contrary, she’s pretty much telling me exactly what I want to hear. Or more to the point, what I want to believe.

I’m not going to be teaching it because as an academic work, it falls far short of the standards to which we should hold ourselves. It may be a politically effective polemic, but as scholarship that advances our understanding of the world, it is sorely lacking."



"Four tells of poor academic scholarship

1. Exaggerated claims to novelty"



"2. Absence of relevant literatures"



"So. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a study of the messy interactions between economic and social imperatives. (Actually, I’d argue it’s really two linked business case studies of Facebook and Google that wants to be a study of a larger system, but that’s another matter entirely.) This means that it is a study of political economy. Which means it has to engage with the political economy literature on surveillance (a specialized literature, but it does exist) and capitalism (its entire raison d’être). I expect it to engage with particular sources, like Srnicek, like Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski’s The Real Cyber War. With, in other words, the books that can provide context and support for, and pushback against, its argument.

And if you’re talking about big trends in capitalism and society from a critical perspective, Hannah Arendt is not your go-to. You also need to go beyond the social-science founders – Durkheim, Marx, Weber. You need to engage with the likes of Susan Strange. Or Robert Cox. Or Michael Mann, people who are interested in exactly the same issues that you are dealing with. Karl Polanyi is great, and Zuboff grabs just the right concepts from him. But He. Is. Not. Enough.

(Polanyi was also much more than an “historian,” as Zuboff identifies him. As his Wikipedia entry makes clear, he was an “economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. Then again, the phrase “political economy” appears only four times in this book, and exclusively in the titles of cited books and articles in the endnotes.)

Finally, if one is talking about the dangers involved in a form of power that “knows and shapes human behaviour toward others’ ends” (page 8) and Antonio Gramsci’s conception of hegemony doesn’t rate a mention, I don’t even know. Especially if it’s presented as a completely new idea (in this case “instrumentarian power” – see: Exaggerated claims of novelty). The Gramscian concept of hegemony is all about how the powerful can get other groups to buy into ideologies that may not be in their best interests.

Much of the book is about how surveillance capitalists are working to change human nature so that human thinking more closely resembles that of machine learning. Absolutely correct, but not only is this not the first time that the powers that be have worked to reshape what we think of as human nature, it’s also kind of what it means to rule a society, any society. That’s what the whole concept of hegemony is all about, as any student of Gramscian thought could tell you. Or what someone like Susan Strange or Robert Cox (the two thinkers I’m using in my own work on these very subjects) would note. Knowing that this type of activity is simply how power works in human society puts a different spin on what Zuboff is arguing. It’s not so much that surveillance capitalists are rewiring human nature, but that their ideology is antithetical to a particular type of human nature, namely one in the liberal-democratic vein. Actually engaging with the voluminous work on hegemony and the social construction of knowledge, however, would have challenged Zuboff’s argument that the knowing and shaping of “human behavior toward others’ ends” is unique to surveillance capitalism.

(Maybe the problem is with capitalism itself? As Morozov noted in a follow-up tweet, “My critique of Zuboff’s new book boils down to a paraphrase of Horkheimer: ‘If you don’t want to talk about capitalism then you’d better keep quiet about surveillance capitalism’.”)

And it’s just a bit odd that Michel Foucault doesn’t get so much as a mention beyond a reference in a footnoted title about neoliberalism. In a book that’s all about the relationship between power and knowledge."



"3. Unclear framework"



"4. Use of hyperbole: These go to eleven"



"The final verdict: No go

To be honest, before reading Morozov’s critique, watching the glowing reviews come in, I started questioning my judgment. Sure, there were flaws in the book, some of which I would have called out immediately if committed by an undergraduate, but how much did they really matter?

Part of me, I’m embarrassed to say, was swayed by the identity of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’s author. A professor emerita. From Harvard. Who had done important previous work in the field. Even though I know better, I got inside my own head, internalizing the academic class system that places certain schools and scholars above others. The “important voices” whose work is guaranteed a respectful hearing merely by virtue of their pedigree or institution.

The saddest thing is, my receptiveness to this argument from authority says as much about where I see myself in the academic food chain as it does about a Harvard professor. Even though I have witnessed the most idiotic arguments and proposals made by scholars from top-ranked universities, endured recycled banalities from leading lights with nothing to say, and read the most embarrassing articles by celebrated Ivy-league academics. Even though I will put my Canadian Carleton University education up against anyone’s from Oxford or Yale or Harvard. I know this.

And yet, there was that part of me, whispering, But look at who she is. She’s an Authority. Look at all the praise she’s getting, the panels she’s on. Maybe you’re just being judgmental. Maybe you’re being too critical. Maybe you’re wrong.

Well, maybe I am wrong, but a failure to produce an honest critique because of our respective places in the academic food chain is the absolutely worst reason not to make the critique. One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when I heard that a second-year student had written a fantastic, well-researched and impeccably argued paper about how I’d been wrong about something I’d claimed in my Introduction to International Relations class. (And she was right.) We should expect all academics to live up to the same standards we set for our students.

So, no. After spending an entire work week reading this book, after taking over 100 pages of notes and thinking about it constantly for far too long afterwards, I do not believe that The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is a good piece of scholarship. It is not careful in its presentation of evidence. It chooses hyperbole over accuracy. It fails to engage with the relevant literatures and critical voices that would challenge what ends up being a one-sided, almost existentially bleak argument.

Its lack of engagement with the relevant literatures makes possible the blind spots, trenchantly catalogued by Morozov, regarding surveillance capitalism’s relationship to capitalism, as well as those regarding the role of the state as something more than a bit player in this epic story. These impair the book’s value in terms of its analysis and, as Morozov’s comments about Zuboff’s failure to consider the “capitalism” part of “surveillance capitalism” suggest, its prescriptions. Why the book … [more]
blaynehaggart  shoshanazuboff  evgneymorozov  criticsm  surveillancecapitalism  mnagerialism  harvard  pedigree  academia  hierarchy  criticism  robertcox  highered  highereducation  michelfoucault  hannaharendt  hyperbole  2019  hegemony  technology  economics  politics  policy  scholarship  authority  elitism 
18 days ago by robertogreco
Dream Interrupted – Boom California
"Kevin Starr at The San Francisco Examiner, 1976-83"



"Yet if the temporal gap in Starr’s series seems mysterious, we need not speculate about his views of that period. In fact, he wrote copiously about those decades—not as a historian, but as a columnist for The San Francisco Examiner. Churning out more than 5,000 words per week between 1976 and 1983, Starr made it perfectly clear where he stood on the issues of the day, especially in San Francisco. Indeed, his articles hint at, but do not definitively establish, his reason for avoiding that period in his series.

Starr’s path to the Examiner was unusual. He grew up in San Francisco, living from age ten to fifteen in the Potrero Hill Housing Project. He attended St. Boniface School in the Tenderloin and, for one year, Saint Ignatius High School. After majoring in English at the University of San Francisco and serving in the U.S. Army, he earned a Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Harvard University, which he recalled as “a magical and nurturing place.”[6] Widener Library’s vast California collection inspired him to write about his native state. “I thought, ‘There’s all kinds of wonderful books on California, but they don’t seem to have the point of view we’re encouraged to look at—the social drama of the imagination,’” he later told the Los Angeles Times.[7] In 1973, Oxford University Press published his critically acclaimed dissertation book, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915.

Instead of pursuing an academic career, Starr returned to San Francisco, wrote speeches for mayor Joseph Alioto, and was appointed city librarian in 1974. His decision to work for Alioto was consequential. The wealthy Catholic lawyer was a Democrat, but members of the so-called Burton machine—most notably Phillip and John Burton, Willie Brown and George Moscone—considered Alioto a threat to their progressive coalition. When the ILWU, the radical longshoremen’s union, endorsed Alioto’s 1967 mayoral bid, an angry Phil Burton threw his support behind Jack Morrison, Alioto’s opponent. “We’re going to shove Jack Morrison’s bald head up Alioto’s ass,” Burton told an ILWU representative.[8] In fact, Alioto sailed to victory and was reelected in 1971. He ran for governor in 1974, but lost to Jerry Brown in the Democratic Party primary. When Moscone edged out conservative supervisor John Barbagelata in the 1975 mayoral race, the Burton machine finally captured City Hall. By that time, the coalition included gay and environmental activists as well as labor unionists, racial and ethnic minorities, and white progressives.

Shortly after Moscone’s victory, Starr began writing for the Examiner, which had served as the Hearst Corporation’s flagship publication for decades. “The Monarch of the Dailies” was still a political force in the city, but its influence was shrinking along with its market share. In 1965, it signed a joint operating agreement with the more popular San Francisco Chronicle, whose executive editor, Scott Newhall, had regarded the Hearst newspapers as “something evil” designed to stupefy the masses. Newhall wanted to produce a very different kind of publication: “I figured the Chronicle had to be successful, and the city had to have a paper that would amuse, entertain and inform, and save people from the perdition of Hearstian ignorance.”[9] When it came to hard news, however, the Examiner considered itself the scrappy underdog. “We were the No. 2 paper in town with declining circulation,” recalled former editor Steve Cook. “But the spirit on the staff was sort of impressive—we actually thought of ourselves as the better paper in town, we thought we could show our morning rivals how to cover the news.”[10]

Soon Starr was writing six columns per week, including a Saturday article devoted to religion. Most of his columns featured the city’s cultural activities and personages, but Starr also took the opportunity to shape his public profile. He presented himself as a conservative Catholic intellectual, a San Francisco version of William F. Buckley Jr., whom he frequently praised. In one column, he described himself as “a conservative neo-Thomist Roman Catholic with Platonist leanings and occasional temptations towards anarchy.”[11] He also wrote about the challenges of that identity in San Francisco:
It’s not easy to be a conservative. It’s often lonely to be a thinking conservative. And to be a thinking conservative in San Francisco can frequently be an even more difficult and isolated condition…. Here in San Francisco such left-liberal opinions have coalesced into a rigid inquisitorial orthodoxy—an orthodoxy now reinforced by political power—that brooks no opposition whatsoever.[12]


The “political power” Starr had in mind was likely the Burton machine. With Moscone in City Hall, Willie Brown in the Assembly, and the Burton brothers in Congress, that machine was shifting into overdrive. Yet Starr clearly thought that San Francisco was moving in the wrong direction."



"After the failed 1984 campaign, Starr began to refashion himself, California style. Inventing the Dream, the second volume in what his publisher was already billing as a series, appeared in 1985. Four years later, he became a visiting professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Southern California. Five years after that, Republican governor Pete Wilson appointed him California State Librarian, a position he held for a decade. During that time, he encouraged countless projects devoted to California history, including my biography of Carey McWilliams, for which he also wrote a blurb. In 1998, Starr was promoted to University Professor and Professor of History at USC. Over the next twelve years, he produced the final five volumes of his series, a brief history of California, and a short book on the Golden Gate Bridge. Among his many awards was the National Humanities Medal, which President George W. Bush presented to him in 2006.

As Starr’s profile rose, the Examiner columns faded from view. One wonders how he squared that body of work with the dream series. Did his criticisms of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, his sympathy for Dan White, his arguments on behalf of Patricia Hearst, or his role in the Peoples Temple tragedy dissuade him from treating those topics in his books? Perhaps, but the evidence is more suggestive than dispositive. Certainly the tone and temper of his work evolved in concert with his new professional duties. As the dream series unfolded, it began to reflect his sponsorial role at the state library and his emergent academic persona. The result was a new and more expansive authorial self, one that appealed to the state’s aspirations rather than to partisanship or moral reaction. Despite this evolution, or perhaps because of it, Starr declined to revisit the years immediately before, during, and immediately after his stint at the Examiner.

Although Starr didn’t parlay his early journalism into a political career, it groomed him for the work to come, much as his experience at Harvard did. It seasoned him, taught him how to write on deadline for general audiences, and introduced him to public figures and issues he wouldn’t have encountered had he accepted an academic position straight out of graduate school. But there was nothing inevitable about Starr’s achievement. To become California’s foremost historian, he had to overcome setbacks and adapt to changing circumstances. Only by shedding his journalistic persona and adopting a new model of authorship could he become the ardent but politically tempered chronicler of California civilization."
kennethstarr  sanfrancisco  sfexaminer  2019  peterrichardson  1970s  1980s  california  forrestrobinson  violence  iniquity  history  davidtalbot  josephalioto  phillipburton  johnburton  williebrown  georgemoscone  democrats  progressives  politics  journalism  class  identitypolitics  identity  conflict 
18 days ago by robertogreco
What Makes a Fair College Admissions Process? | JSTOR Daily
"Move Away from Meritocracy
Nadirah Farah Foley

Especially in the wake of the recent news of a coordinated bribery scheme, many people seem to agree our selective college admissions process is broken. There is far less consensus, however, about why we think it’s broken, and what a better, fairer admissions process would look like. Some think that the process would be fair if it were conducted without special considerations for legacy students, development cases, or athletic recruitment. Others go further, focusing on the myriad mundane ways—aside from bribery and donations—that the system allows privileged people to leverage their resources to secure and perpetuate their advantages. But I contend the process is inherently unfair because it is based on meritocratic principles designed to produce unequal outcomes. A truly fair system would reject meritocratic logics and instead operate on the principle that high-quality education is not a reward for the few, but a right of the many.

Our current process, in which applicants are stratified into a hierarchical higher education landscape, takes a meritocratic ideology as its foundational premise. Meritocracy, the term popularized by British sociologist Michael Young’s 1958 The Rise of the Meritocracy, is typically imagined as a system in which all have equal opportunity to compete on a “level playing field” on the basis of “talent” and “ability,” and all are rewarded equitably based on their “merit.” While this system sounds fair at first blush, a meritocratic ideology poses two problems, either of which should be sufficient cause to critically question it, and perhaps abandon it entirely.

First, upholding meritocracy necessarily entails accepting and upholding inequality. In the case of college admissions, we currently have a system in which some schools have more resources, are more prestigious, and are deemed “better” than others, and those schools have limited seats. We try to allocate those seats “fairly,” on the basis of demonstrated past success and evaluations of future potential. It’s far from a perfect system, but we can rationalize it as ideologically consistent with a meritocratic ideal of equal opportunity and reward for individual talent, effort, and ability. But perhaps, rather than focusing on who “deserves” the “best” schooling, our societal commitment should be to making a high-quality education available to all. Such a commitment would require a rejection of the stratification and inequality presupposed by a meritocratic system and lead us to question whether a stratified society—and assignment to places in an unequal education system—could ever be just.

Second, even if one were inclined to find inequality and stratification acceptable, the reality is that we are so far from the ideals of equal opportunity and a level playing field that the unfairness is glaringly obvious. As sociologist Jonathan Mijs argues, opportunities for demonstrating merit are far from equally distributed. In the United States, where racial residential segregation and local control of schools combine to disproportionately relegate nonwhite (especially black) students to underfunded schools, the claim that anything approaching equal opportunity exists is laughable. Our emphasis on standardized tests, which have roots in racist, ableist, eugenicist science, evinces a narrow understanding of what intelligence is or could be. Holistic admissions evaluations, which provide necessary latitude to consider students’ contexts and lived experiences, also provide privileged applicants another opportunity to show off well-filled extracurricular profiles and essays carefully coached and edited by counselors and consultants. In sum, our current admissions process is—top to bottom—built to misrecognize privilege as “merit,” and thus advantage the already advantaged. To say wealthy white applicants are gaming the system belies the fact that they’re really just playing the game—a game in which only they have full access to the equipment. Perhaps the way to fix this is not to try to change the rules, but to stop playing the meritocratic game entirely.

If that seems a drastic proposal, let me try to convince you it’s a necessary one. We could try to work within the current system, striking the policies that are most obviously and egregiously unfair: legacy, donor admissions, early decision, recruitment of athletes in country club sports. While an improvement, this does nothing to address the fact that even with those components stripped out, the process still falls far short of fairness, because our very metrics of merit are skewed toward privilege. We could try to calibrate for disadvantage, but that’s essentially what holistic evaluation tries to do now—and it’s not enough. Meritocracy is an arms race, one in which the privileged are always better equipped.

We could, as many scholars have proposed, move toward a lottery, which would go a long way toward making explicit the role of luck in college admissions. But I’m concerned by the way some thinkers discuss a potential admissions lottery. Proponents of a lottery often suggest that there should be some baseline level of “merit” in order to enter the lottery. Such a formulation of the lottery doesn’t entail a rejection of our metrics of merit, meaning it would likely reproduce existing inequalities. To avoid that, a lottery would need to not use simple random selection, but instead be carefully calibrated to ensure the resulting class is not just representative of the pool (in which wealthy white students are overrepresented), but of graduating high school students. That could be achieved by assigning different weights to students depending on their background, or by using a form of stratified random selection, in which the applicant pool would be divided into smaller pools based on, for example, demographic factors, and a certain number of students would be accepted at random from each pool.

The lottery is an exciting idea, but one likely to run into legal challenges. And beyond that, it doesn’t do enough to address the unfairness inherent in our unequal education system. I think we need to go a step further than asking what constitutes a fair admissions process, and instead ask what constitutes a fair society. We should recognize that our college admissions process is merely holding a mirror up to our society, reflecting how competitive, individualistic, unequal, and unfair the United States is. A truly radical solution would require the reorganization of our entire class structure and the redistribution of resources, thus obviating the need for such a high-stakes college application process.

It seems that we cling to meritocracy as a way of clinging to some hope of a better life in an increasingly unequal world. But rather than investing our hope in a fairer admissions system, I think we should dream bigger, and invest our hope in a more just society—one in which we live in community rather than competition. That might look like taking up Harvard professor Lani Guinier’s call to emphasize “democratic merit,” or it might look like dispensing with merit—and its attendant acceptance of deserved inequality—entirely.

Everyone deserves access to education. A fair admissions system would have that as a core premise and reject ostensibly just, “meritocratic” inequalities."
juliepark  christineyano  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  admissions  colleges  universities  meritocracy  lottery  collegeadmissions  highered  highereducation  merit  inequality  academia  academics  education  school  schooling  us  firness  laniguinier  democracy  privilege  jonathanmills  race  racism  michaelyoung 
18 days ago by robertogreco
There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway. - The New York Times
"Amtrak clings to the hope that someday people will view its service not as something that sucks and that they hate, but as something that is actually nice and that they don’t hate. There’s a whole separate Amtrak website dedicated to this dream (AmtrakVacations.com), where Amtrak does things like describe Los Angeles to people who have never heard of it. “The ‘City of Angels’ is one of the premier attractions in sunny Southern California.” But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived."



"The most unifying characteristic of my fellow passengers was not age (although, as a rule, the sleeping cars skewed retired), race (very mixed), income (while sleepers are astronomically priced, coach seats can be downright economical for shorter segments) or even fear of flying (no one I spoke to had it); it was their relaxed, easygoing, train-lulled contentment. To opt to travel long distance via Amtrak — a method deemed “on time” just 71.2 percent of the time by its own generous metric — is to say: As long as I get there eventually, I’m satisfied.

Train people are content to stare out the window for hours, like indoor cats. The trouble with the Lake Shore Limited is that the amount of enjoyment it is possible to derive from staring out the window of a train is inversely proportional to the population density of the land you are traversing. People need things, and unfortunately most of those things are ugly to look at. Many of them are gray. Views picked up considerably when, after a five-hour layover in Chicago, I transferred onto the Southwest Chief, a double-decker “Superliner” with many of its coach seats, sleeping quarters and lounges on the top level. Sightseer Lounges are the crown jewels of Amtrak’s long-distance trains: entire cars of retro-futuristic curved floor-to-ceiling windows where passengers can sit at tables or outward-facing upholstered chairs and watch the scenery streak by. Shortly into its route, the Chief passes the single best thing in the United States: a silo in Mendota, Ill., with an 80-by-20-foot ear of corn painted on one side.

Train people are also individuals for whom small talk is as invigorating as a rail of cocaine. For them, every meal on board Amtrak (communal seating like a Benihana, reservations only, included with the price of a sleeping-car ticket, check in with the dining-car attendant) is a rager. A white middle-aged man in motorcycle gear discussed leukemia treatment with a swish black grandmother. Another man, while gathering up armfuls of research books from a table, bid farewell to a farmer and suggested that he might run into him on the same train next year. I was seated at dinner with an Amish couple traveling to Arizona for a construction job, and by the time our Amtrak Signature Steaks with optional Béarnaise sauce arrived (the food is on a par with the fourth-best airplane meal you could ever imagine), we were deep in a conversation about one of my favorite topics, which is myself. I offered a tip I’d learned about cleaning up glitter using dryer sheets, and they laughed as they tried to envision a situation in which this information could ever be useful."
trains  us  travel  amtrak  slow  2019  caityweaver 
18 days ago by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
18 days ago by robertogreco
The Burden of ‘Parent Homework’ - The New York Times
"This is not about a parent helping with homework. It is work given from teacher to parent, passing directly over a child’s head."
homework  education  schools  parenting  2019  karenbarrow  schooling 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Does Homework Work? - The Atlantic
"America’s devotion to the practice stems in part from the fact that it’s what today’s parents and teachers grew up with themselves."



"The typical prescription offered by those overwhelmed with homework is to assign less of it—to subtract. But perhaps a more useful approach, for many classrooms, would be to create homework only when teachers and students believe it’s actually needed to further the learning that takes place in class—to start with nothing, and add as necessary."
homework  parenting  alfiekohn  education  2019  joepinsker  schools  schooliness 
19 days ago by robertogreco
7-Eleven Lab Store Experiments With Health Food and Organic Slurpees - Eater
"But 7-Eleven plans to shed its identity as a junk food staple. As America’s obsession with wellness and “clean eating” shows no signs of slowing down, the chain wants to figure out how to change customers’ perceptions that convenience food doesn’t always have to be deep-fried or nutritionally sketchy. In early March, the chain debuted its first “lab store,” a real-time testing ground for new, bougie conveniences, next to a busy Dallas highway, just a stone’s throw away from a tony Italian market and one of the city’s most popular ramen joints. Outside, the store looks largely like any other 7-Eleven, with the familiar signage and gas pumps — until you notice the giant selfie-friendly mural painted by a local artist. Inside, it looks a lot like a Whole Foods or any other sleek modern grocer, with natural wood accents and towers of trail mix ingredients sold in bulk.

Unlike most other 7-Eleven stores, this outpost offers a range of hot and prepared food items that goes far beyond the typical roller-grill hot dogs that have been the chain’s bread and butter for decades. Right next to the roller grill sit warmers full of soups like vegetarian tomato basil and gluten-free chili. Across the aisle awaits what press releases call the “better for you” refrigerator case, filled with grab-and-go lunch items: sandwiches, salads, and plastic bowls filled with a “seasonal blend” of mushy kiwi, grapes, cantaloupe, strawberries, and a single pineapple spear. Thanks to the current dominance of the keto trend, hard boiled eggs; portion-controlled packets of cured meats; cheeses; and cured meats wrapped around cheeses are abundant.

There is also a small restaurant, complete with a sit-down cafe and small patio off to the side of the store, arguably the best place to find food in the place. It’s the first Dallas outpost of Laredo Taco Company, a South Texas mainstay that has been selling serviceable breakfast tacos on freshly made tortillas to working people for years. Laredo Taco was part of the Stripes convenience store chain, which 7-Eleven acquired in 2018. With that came Laredo Taco Company, which has scored praise from Anthony Bourdain.

In the aisles, this 7-Eleven is stocked with enough gluten-free, paleo, vegan, organic, and naturally sweetened options to feed an entire army of wellness-obsessed snackers, with just enough “normal” food to resemble a small grocery store. A $15 jar of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter sits on a shelf next to organic stevia ($9), jars of Bonne Maman preserves ($6), organic safflower oil ($12), and single-serve pouches of brown basmati rice are placed alongside staples like Velveeta processed cheese ($4), microwaveable Rice-A-Roni cups, and Wolf brand chili. Elsewhere, gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free cake balls ($14) share shelf real estate with Hostess chocolate cupcakes ($2).

And then, of course, there is the Slurpee, both an American icon and an engineering marvel. The fluffy, frozen beverage is a sweet-tooth staple; the lab store’s innovation is the organic Slurpee, made with “farm to fountain” flavors like coconut, blood orange, and cucumber from Idaho’s Tractor Beverage Company, which boasts that its syrups are USDA certified organic, GMO-free, and “entirely” natural. In the organic Slurpees, buzzy superfoods like celery and turmeric are ingredients in the cucumber flavor; allegedly stomach-soothing licorice root adds an extra veneer of health to the cherry cream flavor; the blood orange flavor also features turmeric, along with black carrot. Unlike most of the original flavors, the organic options are not carbonated, which means they lack the fluffy, smooth texture of a typical cherry Slurpee. Instead, they’re packed with crunchy ice crystals that always seem to find their way to the most sensitive parts of your teeth.

It’s not surprising that even the Slurpee, much maligned for its hefty sugar content and the presence of preservatives like sodium benzoate, is getting the organic treatment. 7-Eleven is a corporation interested in making profits, and the organic food market is currently worth upwards of $45 billion. But there is something deeply unsettling about seeing the Slurpee stripped of its vibrant colors and cloyingly sweet flavors. It’s depressing to think that, someday, the Slurpee won’t represent a decadently sweet treat, but just another way to get in your daily dose of superfoods. It’s like if all the milkshakes in the future were Soylent, and every Red Bull was replaced with 7-Eleven’s locally-sourced “Yerbucha,” a mix of kombucha and yerba mate."



"It is this bizarre juxtaposition of the organic and the chemical-laden, the sacred and the profane, that makes 7-Eleven’s “lab store” such a fascinating — and disorienting — concept. In attempting to please literally everyone — gentrifiers, working-class families, young professionals, and kids looking for after-school snacks — it’s possible that they’re going to alienate everyone. No one on a tight budget wants to accidentally pay $2 more for organic tomatoes when they meant to grab the cheap ones, and no one wants to be tempted by the allure of a quick Velveeta and Rotel queso served with fried tortilla chips when they’re trying to eat “virtuously” and choose the gluten-free granola instead. Being guilt-tripped into buying fruit and hard-boiled eggs is particularly dehumanizing when you can only afford nachos.

Between its fancy coffee machines that grind beans to order, a dessert bar serving soft-serve gelato and non-fat frozen yogurt, and counters serving kombucha, nitrogen-infused hibiscus tea, and cold brew made with fair-trade, organic coffee beans, this store is also a panic attack in four walls. While browsing for more than an hour, I actually longed for a regular 7-Eleven, one where the cashiers would definitely look at me like a lunatic for asking where to find the cold brew coffee on tap, a place where it’s perfectly normal to buy three different types of gummy candy. If 7-Eleven truly wanted to improve upon its model in a meaningful way, it would look to its own stores in Japan: The food there — sandwiches stuffed with fluffy egg salad, soba noodles, and onigiri — has earned a cult following because it is cheap, varied, and most importantly, of high quality."
7-eleven  retail  conveniencestore  food  2019  japan 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Generation Z: Who They Are, in Their Own Words - The New York Times
[See also, the interactive feature:

"What is it like to be part of the group that has been called the most diverse generation in U.S. history? We asked members of Generation Z to tell us what makes them different from their friends, and to describe their identity. Here's what they had to say."

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/generation-z.html ]

"They’re the most diverse generation in American history, and they’re celebrating their untraditional views on gender and identity.

Melissa Auh Krukar is the daughter of a South Korean immigrant father and a Hispanic mother, but she refuses to check “Hispanic” or “Asian” on government forms.

“I try to mark ‘unspecified’ or ‘other’ as a form of resistance,” said Melissa, 23, a preschool teacher in Albuquerque. “I don’t want to be in a box.”

Erik Franze, 20, is a white man, but rather than leave it at that, he includes his preferred pronouns, “he/him/his,” on his email signature to respectfully acknowledge the different gender identities of his peers.

And Shanaya Stephenson, 23, is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana, but she intentionally describes herself as a “pansexual black womxn.”

“I don’t see womanhood as a foil to maleness,” she said.

All three are members of what demographers are calling Generation Z: the postmillennial group of Americans for whom words like “intersectionality” feel as natural as applying filters to photos on Instagram.

Born after 1995, they’re the most diverse generation ever, according to United States census data. One in four is Hispanic, and 6 percent are Asian, according to studies led by the Pew Research Center. Fourteen percent are African-American.

And that racial and ethnic diversity is expected to increase over time, with the United States becoming majority nonwhite in less than a decade, according to Census Bureau projections.

Along with that historic diversity, members of the generation also possess untraditional views about identity.

The New York Times asked members of Generation Z to describe, in their own words, their gender and race as well as what made them different from their friends. Thousands replied with answers similar to those of Melissa, Erik and Shanaya.

“It’s a generational thing,” said Melissa, the preschool teacher. “We have the tools and language to understand identity in ways our parents never really thought about.”

More than 68 million Americans belong to Generation Z, according to 2017 survey data from the Census Bureau, a share larger than the millennials’ and second only to that of the baby boomers. Taking the pulse of any generation is complicated, but especially one of this size.

Generation Z came of age just as the Black Lives Matter movement was cresting, and they are far more comfortable with shifting views of identity than older generations have been.

More than one-third of Generation Z said they knew someone who preferred to be addressed using gender-neutral pronouns, a recent study by the Pew Research Center found, compared with 12 percent of baby boomers.

“Identity is something that can change, like politics,” said Elias Tzoc-Pacheco, 17, a high school senior in Ohio who was born in Guatemala. “That’s a belief shared by a lot of my generation.”

Last summer, Elias began identifying as bisexual. He told his family and friends, but he does not like using the term “come out” to describe the experience, because he and his friends use myriad sexual identities to describe themselves already, he said.

Elias said he defies other expectations as well. He goes to church every day, leans conservative on the issue of abortion and supports unions, he said. He has campaigned for both Democrats and Republicans.

His bipartisan political activism, he said, was a natural outcome of growing up in a world where identity can be as varied as a musical playlist.

This is also the generation for whom tech devices, apps and social media have been ubiquitous throughout their lives. A Pew study last year found that nearly half of all Americans aged 13 to 17 said they were online “almost constantly,” and more than 90 percent used social media.

Wyatt Hale, a high school junior in Bremerton, Wash., has few friends “in real life,” he said, but plenty around the world — Virginia, Norway, Italy — whom he frequently texts and talks to online.

Their friendships started out on YouTube. “I could tell you everything about them,” he said. “But not what they look like in day-to-day life.”"

["as the boomers and millennials fight to the death, gen x and gen z will snuggle up to talk top emotional feelings and best life practices and I am here for it!!"
https://twitter.com/Choire/status/1111248118694187009 ]
genz  generationz  edg  srg  2019  nytimes  interactive  identity  us  diversity  photography  socialmedia  instagram  internet  online  web  change  youth  race  sexuality  gender  demographics  identities  choiresicha  generations  millennials  geny  generationy  genx  generationx  babyboomers  boomers  classideas 
20 days ago by robertogreco
The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [https://twitter.com/jkottke/status/1091338252475396097 ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [https://sebastiangreger.net/2018/11/twitter-alt-texts-on-db-trains/ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [https://medium.com/s/the-upgrade/why-gen-z-loves-closed-captioning-ec4e44b8d02f ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [https://www.wired.com/story/closed-captions-everywhere/ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19388078909557984 ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
20 days ago by robertogreco
Why Gen Z Loves Closed Captioning – The Upgrade – Medium
"Old technology finds a surprising new application

“Everyone does it.”

These were the words from my college-aged daughter when I caught her lounging on our couch, streaming Friends with 24-point closed captioning on. She has no hearing impairment, and I wanted to know what she was up to.

Does “everyone” do it? My wife and I turned to Facebook and a private, nationwide group for parents with near-adult children. “Anyone else’s college student (without a hearing disability) watch TV with the closed captioning on and insist that everyone does it?” my wife posted. Seven hundred responses (and counting) later, we had our answer.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back.”
Many parents expressed similar confusion with the TV-watching habits of their millennial and Gen Z children, often followed with, “I thought it was just us.”

I returned to my daughter, who had now switched to the creepy Lifetime import You.

“Why do you have captions on?” I asked.

“It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back,” she replied. “And I can text while I watch.”

My multitasking daughter used to watch TV while working on her laptop and texting or FaceTiming on her phone. She kept rewinding the DVR to catch the last few minutes she’d missed because she either zoned out or was distracted by another screen.

Her response turned out to be even more insightful than I realized at first. A number of mental health experts I spoke with — and even one study I found — supported the notion that watching with closed captioning serves a valuable role for those who struggle with focus and listening.

“I do see this a lot in my practice,” said Dr. Andrew Kent, an adolescent psychiatrist practicing in New York and Medical Director of New York START, Long Island. “I believe auditory processing is more easily impacted upon by distractions, and that they need to read [captions] to stay focused.”

Closed captioning is a relatively recent development in the history of broadcasting, and it was designed with the hearing impaired in mind. According to a useful history on the National Captioning Institute’s (NCI) website, the technology dates back to the early 1970s, when Julia Child’s The French Chef “made history as the first television program accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.” Real-time captioning arrived later, with stenographers typing at a blazing 250 words-per-minute to keep up with live news and sporting events.

They use captions to focus more intently on the content.
If it wasn’t for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and additional rules adopted by the FCC in 2012, it’s unlikely my daughter’s IP-based Netflix streaming content would even have closed captioning options today.

While the NCI doesn’t explicitly acknowledge the growing use of closed captioning by those without hearing impairments, it does note that “closed captioning has grown from an experimental service intended only for people who are deaf to a truly global communications service that touches the lives of millions of people every day in vital ways.”

It’s certainly not just a phenomenon for young people. There are many people my age who admit to using them because they have some middle-aged hearing loss or simply need help understanding what the characters on Luther or Peaky Blinders are saying. They use captions to focus more intently on the content.

The need to read captions for what you can hear might even have a biological base. According to Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, some people may have trouble processing the audio from television.

“I believe that there are a number of individuals who have ADHD who may also suffer from undiagnosed auditory processing disorder (APD), and for these individuals… this may be very helpful,” Dr. Varma told me via email. Closed captioning can provide the visual cues that APD sufferers need to overcome their issues with listening and comprehension, she added.

APD refers to how the brain processes auditory information, and though it supposedly only affects around 5 percent of school-age children, there’s reportedly been a significant uptick in overall awareness. As Dr. Varma pointed out, there may be a lot of people who don’t realize they have APD, but are aware of some of the symptoms, which include being bothered by loud noises, difficulty focusing in loud environments, and forgetfulness.

There may be applications in the classroom, too. In a 2015 study of 2,800 college-age students on the impact of closed captioning on video learning, 75 percent of respondents mentioned that they struggle with paying attention in class. “The most common reasons students used captions… was to help them focus,” Dr. Katie Linder, the research director at Oregon State University who led the study, told me.

And even four years ago, there were hints that the use of closed captioning as a focusing tool would bleed outside the classroom.

As a report on the study put it, “Several people in this study also mentioned that they use captions all the time, not just for their learning experience. Captions with Netflix was mentioned multiple times. So, we know that students are engaging with them outside of the classroom.”

When the NCI first co-developed closed captioning technology some 50 years ago, they called it “words worth watching,” and it did transform millions of lives. Today, we may be witnessing — or reading — a similar revolution."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  lanceulnoff  television  adhd  attention  classideas 
20 days ago by robertogreco
What Michelle Obama Gets Wrong About Racism
"Michelle Obama’s new book reduces racial inequality to a matter of psychological impairment that can be overcome through grit and grin. This is a dangerous proposition."



"The crises in this country cannot be resolved one person at a time, and recipes for self-fulfillment cannot create the social forces necessary to transform neighborhoods."



"When unmoored from the institutions of power and class domination, racism becomes impossible to address, combat, and dismantle."



"The point is not to impose onto or require a more radical viewpoint from Obama when she does not have one, but rather to expose her ultimately conservative message. Obama served as an inspiring role model—her personal story is extraordinary by any measure. But it is crucial for both her and us to acknowledge that it was made possible by the confluence of institutional changes and her own talents. For the children of Harper High and their parents who live with PTSD and other scars of urban and suburban life in the twenty-first century, we must reaffirm our commitment to the same kinds of institutional interventions—and beyond—that made her ascent possible.

Another world is possible, but it can only be built through a collective struggle that Obama no longer sees as necessary."
michelleobama  grit  inequality  race  racism  2019  keeanga-yamahttataylor  politics  ideology  barackobama 
21 days ago by robertogreco
Get Real | Tarence Ray
"What liberals like Paul Krugman still don’t understand about rural America"



"This question of why the rural working class often votes against its interests has been bugging liberals for a few decades now, and you can’t really blame them. Democrats still held a lot of sway in rural America for the first half of the twentieth century, but then things started to change. Neoliberal economics tore rural regions apart. Both jobs and people left in short order. Now these regions swing predominantly conservative, and liberals are left scratching their heads.

Today, rural America is largely viewed as politically and culturally “a world apart,” when in reality the picture is bleaker: conservatives simply maintain a stronger grasp on power in rural areas than liberals do. Liberals think that the majority of people in rural areas see this as a desirable state of affairs. Many of us don’t. It’s just that our voices have been erased by the overwhelming might of power and industry.

Krugman would do better to skip the psychoanalysis and examine the way power is actually constituted in rural America: to look at why and how ideology is formed, who does the forming, and what material interests are served by it. But he knows his audience, and he knows that they don’t really want to know the answers to those questions because that would mean they would have to actually believe in and fight for something. And they’re not going to do that. They’d rather be at brunch.

*****

As good Marxists, let’s state up front that the primary function of rural areas within the larger national economy is as a supply source of raw materials: food, oil, natural gas, coal, timber, and other resources. To keep these goods flowing out of rural areas —and profit flowing into capitalists’ pockets—freethinking dissent within the extractive regions must be squashed at all costs. Compare this with urban areas, where a greater productive capacity and larger middle classes can absorb and dilute a great deal of dissent. In rural areas, those impulses have to be stamped out before they can really take off; nothing less than the unchallenged flow of profit and resources is at stake. Conservatives understand this, and it’s why one of their foremost political strategies in rural areas is that of social control.

If you live in a rural community, extractive or not, you are likely confronted every day with an onslaught of images, dogmas, and various cultural reinforcements regarding your role within the national social structure. Perhaps the primary location for this “indoctrination” is the local school system. In many rural communities, it is well understood that while state power may be concentrated in the county courthouse, social power—the power to shape the ideological contours of the community, and therefore how it votes, prays, works, and obeys—is concentrated in the local school board."



"The only thing capable of breaking the conservative stranglehold on rural communities—and of breaking the power of their foot soldiers in the local school boards, chambers of commerce, and churches—is a nationwide political movement based in the actual interests of the working class: the service industry employees and care workers, the teachers and tenants. That’s because the right wing has their own institutions, programs, and forms of ideological preservation in rural areas. They have invested heavily in them for the last thirty years, and they will not stop until rural America is a useless ecological graveyard. Conservatives see their beliefs gradually losing support, and they have entered death cult mode. They want to squeeze as much profit and as many resources out of rural areas as possible, until we, too, have gone to the graveyard.

The result is a rapidly deteriorating economic landscape that stumps writers like Krugman. When he writes about the economic forces contributing to rural America’s decline “that nobody knows how to reverse,” the “nobody” he’s referring to is himself. Krugman’s liberalism, with its focus on slow incrementalism and social tinkering, has become incompatible with rural economies that are beholden to the whims of increasingly embattled industry. In the days when America’s economy was booming after World War II, when regulations meant to safeguard the financial interests of ordinary people didn’t necessarily threaten the immense wealth that was being produced throughout society, it was feasible that pro-business ideas could coexist with liberal doctrines like human rights and social welfare policies. But in the era of post-industrial capitalism, as wages decline, jobs are relocated, and the social safety net shrinks, it’s become impossible to square that contradiction.

So the best Krugman can offer is a kind of liberal realism: progressive values are simply incompatible with the minds of backwards yokels living out in the provinces, and we need to get real about that. This allows Krugman to erase all forms of rural radicalism: he doesn’t see us as powerless, silenced by the authoritarian regime of conservative social control, because he doesn’t see power at all.

But we know that rural radicalism exists, and we know that the rural working class can exert a great deal of leverage on entrenched power structures. The statewide teacher strikes in predominantly rural West Virginia serve as the best recent example. Our power is growing. It may take some time and experimentation, but conservatives will not reign unchallenged in rural America for eternity. We’ve never stopped fighting back."
rural  us  paulkrugman  politics  economics  2019  power  taranceray  liberals  neoliberalism  capitalism  democrats  republicans  ideology  incrementalism  elitism  society  socialwelfare  welfare  radicalism  humanrights  work  labor  workingclass  class  teachers  tenants  coal  westvirginia  newmexico  oil  gas 
21 days ago by robertogreco
The Truth About Wasabi - YouTube
"Have you ever eaten wasabi?

If you answered “yes” to that question, you are likely mistaken. Most sushi eaters—even in Japan—are actually being served a mixture of ground horseradish and green food coloring splashed with a hint of Chinese mustard. Worldwide, experts believe that this imposter combination masquerades as wasabi about 99% of the time.

The reason boils down to supply and demand. Authentic wasabi, known as Wasabia japonica, is the most expensive crop to grow in the world. The temperamental semiaquatic herb, native to the mountain streams of central Japan, is notoriously difficult to cultivate. Once planted, it takes several years to harvest; even then, it doesn’t germinate unless conditions are perfect. Grated wasabi root loses its flavor within 15 minutes.

The Japanese have grown wasabi for more than four centuries. 75-year old Shigeo Iida, the eighth-generation owner of his family’s wasabi farm in Japan, takes pride in his tradition, which is profiled in Edwin Lee’s short documentary "Wasabia Japonica," co-produced by Japan Curator. “Real wasabi, like the ones we grow, has a unique, fragrant taste that first hits the nose,” Iida says in the film. “The sweetness comes next, followed finally by spiciness.” Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/585172/wasabi-fake/ "
wasabi  film  documentary  farming  japan  2019  agriculture  food  classideas 
25 days ago by robertogreco
The Parasitic Reading Room | dpr-barcelona
"“[Books] can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”

—Neil Gaiman
‘Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.’ The Guardian, 2013

Aristide Antonas and Thanos Zartaloudis define ‘The Parasitic Council’ as that place “where a public space can be the plateau for the occupancy of a commonhold in order that it performs multiple parasitic functions of common use without claims to property.” Following this protocol of action and occupancy of the city, and connecting them with the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial ‘A School of Schools,’ dpr-barcelona and the open raumlabor university joined forces to set up a Parasitic Reading Room for the opening days of the IDB, in September 2018, a nomad, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces that took place along the biennale venues and other spots in the city, with the intention to ‘parasite’ the event participants, visitors, ideas, contents and places, and to provoke a contagion of knowledge. The Parasitic Reading Room is a spontaneous school, made by reading aloud a selection of texts that are related with the biennale’s scope.

On his book Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich states that most learning happens casually, and training of young people never happens in the school but elsewhere, in moments and places beyond the control of the school. When claiming for the revolutionary potential of deschooling, Illich makes a call to liberating oneself from school and to reckon that “each of us is personally responsible for his or her own deschooling, and only we have the power to do it.” This is why the wide domain of academia needs to be challenged in radical and unexpected ways and we need to envision other spaces of encounter and knowledge exchange out of its walls. Similarly, Michael Paraskos rightly pointed on his essay The Table Top Schools of Art, that “we might well say that if four individuals gather together under a tree that is a school. Similarly four individuals around a kitchen table. Or four individuals in the café or bar. By redefining the school in this way we also redefine what it means to be a student in a school or a teacher.”

Perhaps the essential question at this point is what kind of readings should form this alternative bibliography on different pedagogical models, about other sources of knowledge, that come not only [but also] from the pages of our favourite books? This question can have multiple answers which all of them are to be intertwined, multi-connected, overlapped. Poems, films, instagram photos—and its captions—, songs, e-mail exchanges, objects, conversations with friends over a glass of wine or a coffee, dreams; we learn from all of them albeit [or often because] the hectic diversity of formats, and sometimes its lack of seriousness.

By reading aloud we share a space of intimacy, a time and place of learning not only from the contents, but from the nuances, the accents, the cadence of the reading. Abigail Williams called this ‘the social life of books,’ “How books are read is as important as what’s in them,” she pointed—we call it ‘the book as a space of encounters.’ This means spaces where different books coexist and enrich each other; books as the necessary space where the author can have a dialogue with the reader, where different readers can read between the lines and find a place of exchange, where to debate, and discuss ideas. Books and encounters as an open school.

If everywhere is a learning environment, as we deeply believe, and the Istanbul Design Biennial intended to prove by transforming the city of Istanbul into a school of schools, we vindicate the importance of books—be them fiction, poetry or critical theory—as learning environments; those spaces where empathy and otherness are stronger than ideologies, where we can find space to ‘parasite’ each other’s knowledge and experience and create an open school by the simple but strong gesture of reading aloud together.

Because, what is a school if not a promise?"

[See also:

"For the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial ‘A School of Schools,’ dpr-barcelona and the open raumlabor university will set up for the opening days of the IDB a Parasitic Reading Room, a nomad, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces that will take place along the biennale venues and other spots in the city, with the intention of 'parasite' the event participants, visitors, ideas, contents and places, and to provoke a contagion of knowledge. 'The Parasitic Reading Room' is a spontaneous school, made by reading aloud a selection of texts that are related with the biennale's scope. As initial readings—that can be paratised afterwards—we have collected some remarkable texts about education, radical thinking, literature, and many other sources of knowledge, and published them at The Parasitic Reader 01 and The Parasitic reader 02. Feel free to parasite them as well and share them."
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/parasitic_reader_01
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/parasitic_reader_02

"Based on previous conversations around the topic in the frame of “Body of Us”, the Swiss contribution to the London Design Biennale 2018, the project’s curator Rebekka Kiesewetter has invited friends to continue the discussion around political friendship: dpr-barcelona, initiators of the “Parasitic reading room” [along with the Open raumlabor University] at the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial 2018; architect Ross Exo Adams, one of the contributors to Body of Us publication, and continent., the experimental publishing collective, initiators of “Reading Friendships Paris“ at Centre Culturel Suisse 2016. At this same venue, three years later, the stage opens for an edition of the “Parasitic Reading Room” and a reprise of “Reading Friendships”, an evening of readings, thinkings, creating and discussion. A collective reading in Paris on March 20th, 2019."
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/friend_ships_reader ]
ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  2019  reading  howweread  learning  informallearning  informal  sharing  books  bookfuturism  aristideantonas  thanoszartaloudis  deschooling  unschooling  ivanillich  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  michaelparaskos  libraries  multimedia  multiliteracies  intimacy  encounters  experience  howwelearn  schools  schooling  film  instagram  raumlabor  dpr-barcelona 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Opinion | The Good-Enough Life - The New York Times
"Ideals of greatness cut across the American political spectrum. Supporters of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and believers in Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” for instance, may find themselves at odds, but their differences lie in the vision of what constitutes greatness, not whether greatness itself is a worthy goal. In both cases — and in most any iteration of America’s idea of itself — it is.

The desire for greatness also unites the diverse philosophical camps of Western ethics. Aristotle called for practicing the highest virtue. Kant believed in an ethical rule so stringent not even he thought it was achievable by mortals. Bentham’s utilitarianism is about maximizing happiness. Marx sought the great world for all. Modern-day libertarians will stop at nothing to increase personal freedom and profit. These differences surely matter, but while the definition of greatness changes, greatness itself is sought by each in his own way.

Swimming against the tide of greatness is a counter-history of ethics embodied by schools of thought as diverse as Buddhism, Romanticism and psychoanalysis. It is by borrowing from D.W. Winnicott, an important figure in the development of psychoanalysis, that we get perhaps the best name for this other ethics: “the good-enough life.” In his book “Playing and Reality,” Winnicott wrote about what he called “the good-enough mother.” This mother is good enough not in the sense that she is adequate or average, but that she manages a difficult task: initiating the infant into a world in which he or she will feel both cared for and ready to deal with life’s endless frustrations. To fully become good enough is to grow up into a world that is itself good enough, that is as full of care and love as it is suffering and frustration.

From Buddhism and Romanticism we can get a fuller picture of what such a good enough world could be like. Buddhism offers a criticism of the caste system and the idea that some people have to live lives of servitude in order to ensure the greatness of others. It posits instead the idea of the “middle path,” a life that is neither excessively materialistic nor too ascetic. And some Buddhist thinkers, such as the 6th-century Persian-Chinese monk Jizang, even insist that this middle life, this good enough life, is the birthright of not only all humans, but also all of nature as well. In this radical vision of the good enough life, our task is not to make the perfect human society, but rather a good enough world in which each of us has sufficient (but never too many) resources to handle our encounters with the inevitable sufferings of a world full of chance and complexity.

The Romantic poets and philosophers extend this vision of good-enoughness to embrace what they would call “the ordinary” or “the everyday.” This does not refer to the everyday annoyances or anxieties we experience, but the fact that within what is most ordinary, most basic and most familiar, we might find a delight unimaginable if we find meaning only in greatness. The antiheroic sentiment is well expressed by George Eliot at the end of her novel “Middlemarch”: “that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” And its legacy is attested to in the poem “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye: “I want to be famous to shuffling men / who smile while crossing streets, / sticky children in grocery lines, / famous as the one who smiled back.”

Being good enough is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of work to smile purely while waiting, exhausted, in a grocery line. Or to be good enough to loved ones to both support them and allow them to experience frustration. And it remains to be seen if we as a society can establish a good-enough relation to one another, where individuals and nations do not strive for their unique greatness, but rather work together to create the conditions of decency necessary for all.

Achieving this will also require us to develop a good enough relation to our natural world, one in which we recognize both the abundance and the limitations of the planet we share with infinite other life forms, each seeking its own path toward good-enoughness. If we do manage any of these things, it will not be because we have achieved greatness, but because we have recognized that none of them are achievable until greatness itself is forgotten."
ordinary  everyday  small  slow  2019  avramalpert  greatness  philosophy  buddhism  naomishihabnye  georgeeliot  interconnected  individualism  goodenough  virtue  ethics  romanticism  psychoanalysis  dwwinnicott  care  caring  love  life  living  classideas 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."



"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"



"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."



"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"



"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."



"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."



"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."



"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Jacobin Radio - The Dig: Astra Taylor on Democracy - Blubrry Podcasting
"Jacobin editor Alyssa Battistoni interviews Astra Taylor on her new film What is Democracy?, in which Astra asks ordinary people and political philosophers alike just that. The answers are often extraordinary and far more incisive than the mindless pablum emanating from Washington and its official interpreters. The film opens in New York on Wednesday January 16 at the IFC Center before traveling to theaters and campuses. Special guests on hand during opening week for live Q&As with Astra include Silvia Federici, Cornel West, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. For details, go to ifccenter.com/films/what-is-democracy. Those of us who don't live in New York can find other dates through the distributor at zeitgeistfilms.com. And if you want to bring this film to your school or town, and you really should, contact Zeitgeist Films!"

[See also:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/02/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-interview
https://www.thenation.com/article/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-new-film-interview/
https://zeitgeistfilms.com/film/whatisdemocracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHxRj9JWQMs

also available here:
https://www.thecut.com/2019/01/astra-taylor-what-is-democracy-women-interview.html
https://player.fm/series/jacobin-radio-1354006/the-dig-astra-taylor-on-democracy
https://podtail.com/en/podcast/jacobin-radio/the-dig-astra-taylor-on-democracy/ ]
astrataylor  alyssabattistoni  2019  democracy  us  inequality  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  economics  keeanga-yamahttataylor  cornelwest  silviafederici  philosophy  labor  justice  capitalism  socialism  society  slavery 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Why You Want to Eat This Baby Up: It’s Science - The New York Times
"Researchers are beginning to ask why some people want to squeeze puppies and others want to sniff babies."



"Cute Overload
Anyone who has been on the internet lately knows that cuteness can get weird: lemurs with Keane-painting eyes, infants dressed as peapods, cats with toast on their heads. The internet offers up achingly sweet “cute porn” because those images grab our attention. There’s something almost aggressive about the way we crave cuteness.

Several years ago, the actress Leslie Bibb perched next to Conan O’Brien’s desk and riffed about a baby so cute that it drove her crazy. She pantomimed her extreme reaction to the infant by gritting her teeth and clenching her fists.

A social psychologist named Oriana Aragón, who was then teaching at Yale, happened to be watching. In the days that followed, she found herself pondering a subject that doesn’t usually receive much attention from the scientific community: cuteness.

Dr. Aragón realized that feelings of tenderness can be so overwhelming that they spill over into a behavior that she calls “cute aggression.” An example, she told me, is “when you see a grandparent pinching a baby’s cheeks and saying, ‘I want to eat you up.’” In fact, sometimes baby-talk can sound downright serial-killer-ish if you take it out of context. You might find yourself telling a puppy that you want to squish it — even though, of course, you’re doing just the opposite and gently caressing it.

Dr. Aragón and her colleagues at Yale undertook what are probably the world’s first attempts to scientifically prove the existence of cute aggression. In an adorable experiment, she and her research partners handed volunteers bubble wrap, then showed them a parade of images. Dr. Aragón found that people popped more bubbles when looking at, say, a photo of a kitten than of an adult cat — suggesting that the cutest images do seem to prompt the urge to crush or squeeze.

Because the cute-overload feeling lends itself to study, it may help to reveal the parts of our minds devoted to nurturing that have heretofore been hidden.

Katherine Stavropoulos, a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist at the University of California at Riverside, has conducted a study on the neural circuitry that is active during cuteness-overload. She asked volunteers to wear caps outfitted with sensors that measure brain activity, and then showed them images of wee little animals. Her results suggested that “cute-aggression” involves the reward system in the brain. In other words, it feels good.

But why? “It’s just a completely open question,” Dr. Aragón, who now works at Clemson, told me. Even so, she points out, it’s reasonable to assume that our extreme reaction to cuteness is evolution’s way of making sure that parents do the relentless work of nurturing children. To perpetuate the species, parents must feel driven to hold their babies for hours — and that might explain why the urge to squeeze gets mixed into a cocktail of tender emotions."
nervio  science  pagankennedy  2019 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Philanthropy Con | Dissent Magazine
"Alongside the privileges our tax system has provided to the rich, we have imported into our welfare system charity’s penchant for humiliating the poor. To be sure, for centuries welfare programs have often rested on the assumption that poverty is a personal failing. But the conservative war on “entitlements” brought new sophistication to this old tradition. Multiple states now require welfare recipients to pass drug tests, even though their rates of drug use are demonstrably much lower than the general population. We have insisted to a mother left quadriplegic by a hit-and-run driver that her family sell their cars, so as to be adequately indigent as to receive public benefits. We have, just this year, placed work requirements upon Medicaid.

The implied question that these policies ask is whether beneficiaries warrant our sympathy. Are they hard working enough, morally upright enough, destitute enough? These questions are patronizing—literally, the questions a patron asks of a supplicant.

Sympathy is a fine criterion for charity. It need not and should not be the standard for government benefits. Instead of worrying whether other people are worthy of being our dependents, we could ask what we must provide so that people have their independence: the independence that freedom from want provides. That was the logic behind Social Security and Medicare, two programs that are bureaucratic without being insulting to their recipients. The impressive voter participation rates of older people are in part a consequence of Social Security; until the program was established, a third of elderly people lived in poverty, and older Americans participated in politics less than the young. Entitlement programs do more than allow people to live with dignity. At their best, they can make better citizens.

By its nature, charity reinforces social inequities and encourages a deference to wealth incompatible with democratic citizenship. In a healthy democracy, taxes should be as “uncharitable” as possible: based in solidarity, not condescension for the poor and privilege for the rich. The first step is to recognize what opponents of democratic governance understood hundreds of years ago: that democratic taxation has within it the power of emancipation."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  inequality  democracy  2019  vanessawilliamson  taxes  society  governance  government  citizenship  civics 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pi Day is a lie: celebrate tau, the true circle constant instead - The Verge
[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6acbBrLoi14 ]

"But Palais and Hartl’s arguments both boil down to some basic math. Step back in time to when you first learned geometry and recall the simple origins: no matter what circle you’re using, if you divide the circumference of the circle by the diameter, you’ll get the same answer: an endless number, starting with the digits 3.14159265... (aka pi).

And right there is the fundamental flaw. The thing is, we don’t actually use diameter to describe circles. We use the radius, or one-half the diameter. The circle equation uses the radius, the area of a circle uses the radius, and the fundamental definition of a circle — “the set of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the center” — is based on the radius. Plugging that into our circle constant equation gives us a new circle constant equivalent to 2π, or 6.28318530717..., colloquially referred to with the Greek letter τ (tau). Switching to τ isn’t making some arbitrary change for the sake of it. It’s bringing one of the most important constants in math in line with how we actually do math."
math  mathematics  pi  2019  vihart  2018  tau  numbers  culture 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud - The New York Times
[using this bookmark as a placeholder for many links on this topic:

"Varsity Blues and the Destructive Myth of Meritocracy"
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/183433523388/varsity-blues-and-the-destructive-myth-of

"Inside the audacious college scheme to get kids of the rich and famous into elite schools"
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-college-admission-scheme-varsity-blues-20190312-story.html

"The College Bribery Scam Reveals How Rich People Use 'Charity' to Cheat
Anand Giridharadas explains how alleged payoffs to test takers and athletic coaches are part of a larger ecosystem of elite hypocrisy."
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/panw7g/the-college-bribery-scam-shows-how-rich-people-felicity-huffman-lori-loughlin-allegedly-use-charity-to-cheat

"All College Admissions Are a Pay-to-Play Scandal"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-bribery-scandal-felicity-huffman-loughlin-analysis-explained.html

"One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent voices for ethical investing is implicated in a college admissions bribery scandal"
https://www.recode.net/2019/3/12/18262003/bill-mcglashan-college-admissions-scandal-tpg-stanford-usc-yale

"What the role of one Silicon Valley entrepreneur reveals about the college admissions scandal"
https://twitter.com/i/events/1105618857320865792

"The unfortunate reality behind meritocracy"
https://dellsystem.me/posts/fragments-71

"College Admission Scam Involved Photoshopping Rich Kids’ Heads Onto Athletes’ Bodies"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-kids-photoshopped-as-athletes.html

"Two CEOs. A wine magnate. A doctor: The Bay Area parents charged in a college bribe scandal"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Two-CEOs-A-wine-magnate-A-doctor-The-Bay-Area-13683029.php

"Why the College-Admissions Scandal Is So Absurd: For the parents charged in a new FBI investigation, crime was a cheaper and simpler way to get their kids into elite schools than the typical advantages wealthy applicants receive."
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-fbi-targets-wealthy-parents/584695/

"In the college admissions game, even the legal kind, money has always mattered"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/In-the-college-admissions-game-even-the-legal-13683518.php

"Fifty charged in massive college admissions scheme"
https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/fifty-charged-in-massive-college-admissions-scheme-1456907331756

"Bribes to Get Into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New?: A new college admissions scandal is just the latest proof of a grossly uneven playing field."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/opinion/college-bribery-admissions.html

"Bribery ringleader said he helped 750 families in admissions scheme"
https://www.axios.com/william-singer-college-bribery-fraud-scheme-d769eb2c-dfb2-4ea0-99f3-8135241c5984.html

"College admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption"
https://theconversation.com/college-admission-scandal-grew-out-of-a-system-that-was-ripe-for-corruption-113439

"College Admissions Scandal Exposes Moral Rot at the Heart of US Plutocracy"
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/03/13/college-admissions-scandal-exposes-moral-rot-at-the-heart-of-us-plutocracy/



Additional articles and resource predating the scandal, but relevant to the topic.

[syllabus] "Reconsidering Merit(ocracy)In K-12, Higher Education, and Beyond"
https://www.nadirahfarahfoley.com/reconsidering-meritocracy

"guest post: “legacy” admissions vs familial capital and the importance of precision"
https://scatter.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/guest-post-legacy-admissions-vs-familial-capital-and-the-importance-of-precision/

"Against Meritocracy: Culture, power and myths of mobility"
https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317496045

"The Unfulfillable Promise of Meritocracy: Three Lessons and their Implications for Justice in Education"
https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/6w9rg/

"A Radical Plan to Combat Inequality in College Admissions: It's time universities began to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit."
https://psmag.com/education/a-radical-plan-to-combat-inequality-in-college-admissions

"Racial Literacy as a Curricular Requirement: A core curriculum must be institutionalized and mandated for all students, argues Daisy Verduzco Reyes."
https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/03/08/colleges-should-have-required-core-curriculum-racial-literacy-opinion

"'I'm Tired Of Justifying My Admissions Letter To People'"
https://www.wbur.org/edify/2019/02/25/affirmative-action-self-advocacy

"White parents are enabling school segregation — if it doesn't hurt their own kids
This is what happens when anti-racism is no longer a major goal of educational policy."
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-parents-are-enabling-school-segregation-if-it-doesn-t-ncna978446

"White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege"
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hagerman-white-parents-20180930-story.html

"How Elite Schools Stay So White"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/opinion/affirmative-action-new-york-harvard.html ]
colleges  universities  admissions  privilege  wealth  inequality  varsityblues  scandals  legacy  legacyadmissions  race  racism  power  meritocracy  bribery  elitism  siliconvalley  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  margarethagerman  noahberlatsky  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  education  parenting  economics  class  cheating  sats  testing  standardizedtesting  daisyverduzcoreyes  us  competitiveness  worth  value  merit  competition  motivation 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop - The New York Times
"Dad shows up at your job interview. Mom makes your medical appointments. The college bribery scandal is an extreme example of a broader pattern."



"Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

[chart:

"Parents of adults 18 to 28 who said they ...

Reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork 76%
Made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments 74%
Offered them advice on relationships and romantic life 42%
Helped them study for a college test 22%
Helped write all or part of a job or internship application 16%
Called or texted to make sure they did not sleep through a class or test 15%
Told them which career to pursue 14%
Helped them get jobs or internships through professional network 14%
Gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses 12%
Helped write an essay or school assignment 11%
Would contact a child's employer if he or she had an issue at work 11%
Contacted a professor or administrator to discuss child's performance or grades at college 8%
Wrote all or part of an essay or other school assignment 4%"]

Colleges now routinely have offices of parent relations. Companies including LinkedIn, Amazon and Google have hosted bring-your-parents-to-work days. Parents have applied to jobs on behalf of their children; lobbied their employers for a raise; and attended job interviews with them. They have called their children’s roommates to resolve disagreements or to check on their children’s whereabouts.

For certain members of the superrich, the tactics have been extraordinary — nobody would equate accusations of bribery with helping a college-aged child with homework or a job application. The factors driving most parents, researchers say, are widening inequality, the growing importance of a college degree, and the fact that for the first time, children of this generation are as likely as not to be less prosperous than their parents.

“It’s the same thing but on a much different level,” said Laura Hamilton, author of “Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College and Beyond” and a sociologist at the University of California, Merced. “It’s really hard for parents to understand why you wouldn’t do anything you could do to assist your children. If you have the influence, the connections and the money, it’s not surprising to me that the parents made these choices.”

Even more typical parental involvement can backfire, many experts say, by leaving young adults ill-prepared for independent adult life, and unable to succeed at the schools and jobs their parents helped them get to.

“When one is hand-held through life, they don’t develop a sense of self-efficacy and life skills,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” and a former dean of freshmen at Stanford. “This sense among parents that I’ve got to get my kid to the right future is overlooking the fact that your kid has to get themselves there.”

It’s a continuation of the kind of intensive parenting that has become the norm in the United States. Today’s parents, especially mothers, are spending more time and money on their children than any previous generation — on things like lessons, tutors and test prep. Many parents’ anxiety only intensifies after 18, when children start the education and jobs they’ve been preparing for.

“Professional helicopter parents are really focused on using education to get their children into a professional career,” Ms. Hamilton said. “Their goal is basically to prevent their children from ever making a mistake.”

This kind of behavior is most prevalent among privileged parents, those with collegiate experience and wealth. In places with the biggest gaps between the rich and the poor, rich parents spend an even larger share of their incomes on their children, a recent paper found. The bribery scandal shows how far some parents will go — in one example, parents were accused of paying $1.2 million to help get their child into an Ivy League college.

More commonly, financial help comes in the form of tuition or rent payments. Parents used to spend the most money on their children during high school, according to Consumer Expenditure Survey data analyzed by the sociologists Sabino Kornrich and Frank Furstenberg. But now they spend the most before age 6 and after age 18 and into children’s 20s.

The increases in later years are because so many more children are going to college, which has become much more expensive, Mr. Kornrich said. Also, about a third of children this age still live at home. In the new survey by Morning Consult and The Times, about two-thirds of those who lived with their parents said it was because they could not afford to live on their own or were still in school.

One in three parents said they gave their 18-and-over children $100 or more a month, and 44 percent of those with children in college made tuition or loan payments for them. When asked at what age people should be financially independent from their parents, the largest share of young people said 25 to 28.

Recent research shows that even parents who can’t afford to give their grown children money increasingly provide them with significant support of other kinds. In the survey, wealthier parents were more likely to report giving their children money than less affluent ones were, but many nonfinancial measures of parental support remained consistent across income and education levels.

For example, three-quarters of parents with children ages 18 to 28 said they had reminded their children of school and other deadlines they needed to meet — whether the parents reported a low or high income. Four in ten parents, across income and education levels, said they offered romantic advice to their children.

Parents gave their children less money, professional advice and job application help as they got older. Romantic advice, however, did not taper off.

Parents reported a more engaged relationship with their grown children than they once had with their own parents. They said they spent more time with their children, communicated with them more often and gave more advice than their parents had when they were the same age. … [more]
parenting  2019  helicopterparenting  kevinquealy  clairecainmiller  youngadults  economics  anxiety  depression  inequality  relationships  helicopterparents  education 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
List: Revolutionary Quotes From Centrist History - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Although, that doesn’t really seem fair to the rich, does it?”
— Jesus Christ, 28 AD

“No taxation without representation. I’m not sure how much representation, I don’t have an exact number.”
— James Otis, 1761

“We hold these truths to be self-evident but just worry that the vast majority of Americans won’t be ready to embrace them.”
— Declaration of Independence, 1776

“Crime butchers Innocence to secure a throne, and Innocence struggles with all its might to have a civil conversation with Crime.”
— Maximilien Robespierre, 1794

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. But maybe we should try politely asking again!”
— Frederick Douglass, 1857

“A house divided against itself sounds expensive to rebuild.”
— Abraham Lincoln, 1858

“Men, their rights, and nothing more. Women, their rights, which I am now prepared to announce that, after quite a bit of soul-searching, I am in support of.”
— Susan B. Anthony & Cady Elizabeth Stanton, 1866

“The only thing we have to fear is… any fundamental change to the status quo.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932

“We shall compromise on the beaches, we shall compromise on the landing grounds, we shall compromise on the field and in the streets, we shall compromise in the hills, and we will see if surrendering makes sense long-term.”
— Winston Churchill, 1940

“Ask not what your country can do for you. End of sentence.”
— John F. Kennedy, 1961

“Every true Congressman or woman will join the struggle with inflexible determination not to remain alive to see the country in bondage and slavery. Which I admire, but is it realistic?”
— Mahatma Gandhi, 1942

“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism. Oh, and being anti-white and anti-men, we need to be fair to both sides here.”
— Shirley Chisholm, 1972

“We shall crush apartheid and white minority racist rule in the marketplace of ideas.”
— Nelson Mandela, 1980

“Maybe, we might.”
— Barack Obama, 2008

“Disrupt the system with a centrist approach.”
— Howard Schultz, 2019
centrism  humor  2019  politics  democrats  jonthanappel 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Six Graphs Show The Green New Deal Is A Winner — Data For Progress
Public opinion is lining up behind a Green New Deal, but support among Democrats and Republicans in the Senate seems to be lagging.

When U.S. Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for the creation of a Green New Deal in early February, it had 12 Democratic cosponsors, including Markey. In a month’s time, it still has...12 cosponsors. Opinion-makers will say that the seeming untenable and tangential components of the resolution are keeping other Democrats away—the general commitments to universal healthcare, affordable housing, and economic security. Yet these goals are just that: aspirations of what the Federal government should aim to achieve for the country, not specific policy prescriptions that chain a Senator to a vote they might regret in the future.

What is conveyed more concretely in the Green New Deal resolution is the large mobilization of federal resources to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable, and carbon-free energy and create millions of new jobs in the process. This transition is not some “green pipe dream”; it’s actually underway and quite far along in some states.

For this reason alone, many Senators should be supporting a Green New Deal, but let’s look several wildly obvious reasons that the Senate should be supporting a Green New Deal.

First, A Green New Deal is Popular In States with Democratic Senators



Second, Clean Energy Jobs are Everywhere! And They Hold More Power in Electing Their Senator.



So it’s Strange 12 Democrats Seem to Get What Their Democratic Peers Don’t



We would expect more correlation between a strong clean energy sector and support for a Green New Deal"
greennewdeal  2019  colinmcauliffe  gregcarlock  energy  policy  politics  climatechange  democrats  cleanenergy  edmarkey 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
White parents are enabling school segregation — if it doesn't hurt their own kids
"America has largely given up trying to desegregate its schools. Politicians have capitulated to reactionary white parents and activists who have successfully fought for decades against the government's hesitant efforts to provide equal resources and opportunities for students of color. The result has been a disaster for non-white students, for public education and for the U.S. as a whole.

In the 1950s and 1960s, educational segregation, along with voting rights, was the iconic issue of the civil rights movement. Today, criminal justice and mass incarceration have largely overtaken school segregation in high-profile discussions about racism.

Obviously, not everyone has moved on: Black Lives Matter has managed to raise public awareness of systemic racism and local activists have continued to fight against segregation. For example, black Chicago students have repeatedly protested the way the city robs them of resources and closes schools in their neighborhoods. But focused, national attention, much less change, has proved elusive.

The fact that we've moved on from discussions of segregation could be seen as a victory of sorts. Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 made it unconstitutional to pass laws mandating separate education for black students and white students. Brown is broadly celebrated; everyone agrees that legal segregation was wrong. And thus, the civil rights movement won.

But did it? The truth is that segregation today is, in many cases, worse now than when the Brown v. Board of Education case was decided.

A 2017 analysis by the UCLA Civil Rights Project found that 75 percent of black students attend majority minority schools, while 38 percent go to schools that are less than 10 percent white. The numbers are even more striking for Latinx students, 80 percent of whom attend majority minority schools. Latinx and black students are also much more likely to be in school districts with high poverty rates, and to have less access to high-quality course offerings. A 2012 study found that more than half of public schools with low black and Latinx populations offered calculus, as compared to a third with high Latinx and black enrollment.

This segregation of students of color isn't an accident. For more than 50 years, white parents and white activists have fought against integrating schools, as Noliwe Rooks chronicles in her 2017 book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the Rise of Public Education.”

Following Brown, many Southern school systems shut down public education for up to five years rather than integrate, Rooks writes. She also notes that public money was used to support all-white private schools all the way up to 1978. In the north, meanwhile, racist activism led to anti-busing provisions, blocking federal funds from being used to transport students for the purposes of desegregation. Local busing efforts were opposed with violence: Around 200 white people attacked school buses with black children in South Carolina, and the Ku Klux Klan bombed empty school buses in Michigan in 1971.

Desegregation can still prompt angry, violent, white backlash. Today, Rooks reports, affluent white districts will sue and prosecute poor people of color who try to access the resources in better districts. In 2014, for example, Tanya McDowell, who was homeless, was sentenced to multiple years in prison for using the address of her babysitter to send her kindergartner to school in the affluent district of Norwalk, Connecticut.

When I wrote an article earlier this year arguing that white parents need to do more to promote desegregation, my social media mentions filled up with outraged protests, many of them openly anti-Semitic. Rod Dreher at the American Conservative said that by pointing out that white parents are complicit in segregation, I had contributed to the "demonization of “whiteness.” He also suggested that if my son went to a majority minority school he would likely be bullied by black students. Dreher's concerns were echoed on the Nazi podcast “The Daily Shoah,” which also argued that when I advocate for desegregation, I am actually working to destroy white parents and white children.

The virulence of this reaction feels out of proportion. But that's only because white resistance over the last few decades has been so successful that there is little pressure now to desegregate schools. Instead, policy makers argue for "school choice." Poor students of color, the argument goes, can use vouchers from the state to attend private school, or can take courses online, or can enter a lottery to attend charter schools. Advocates like T. Willard Fair believe that many studies "point to increased success for students of color because their families were empowered to find schools that better met the needs of their children."

Data on charter schools is far from clear that they actually raise test scores, however critics are concerned that some schools may simply force out students who do poorly, raising school test averages. And in any case, the many students left behind in the public system face the same problems their predecessors did. U.S. public schools are funded by local property taxes, which means that wealthier neighborhoods have highly trained teachers with up-to-date technology and poor neighborhoods have out-of-date textbooks and crumbling buildings. High-poverty districts spend 15.6 percent less per student than low-poverty districts. Critics argue that vouchers make the situation worse by draining funds from already strapped school systems. Separate remains unequal in districts across the country.

Since most politicians no longer even pretend to tackle desegregation, white people don't need to make a violent fuss to protect the system. "There's still a lot of pushback [against desegregation], but the pushback isn't people out in the streets organizing against busing," says Amanda Lewis, author of “Race in the Schoolyard.”

"Instead we talk about opportunity hoarding. Instead of trying to block other people, I'm trying to make sure my kid gets the best. And in doing that, a lot of people participating in that kind of behavior, you produce unequal outcomes," Lewis said.

Affluent white parents can pay for test prep to get their kids into better charter schools. They can move to the suburbs to get into wealthier districts. They can advocate to get their kids into honors classes. You don't have to stand at the schoolyard door or attack buses anymore. You can just quietly use your money and education to leverage structural inequality in your favor.

This inequality gives affluent white children real advantages. But it also stunts them. My son currently goes to a majority minority public high school in Chicago. Contrary to Rod Dreher's racist fantasies, being at a school where most people aren't white hasn't put him in danger. Instead, he's had opportunities I never had in my all-white high school in northeastern Pennsylvania. He can practice his Spanish by speaking with bilingual classmates. He works with extremely talented young black and Latinx Shakespearean actors. He knows people who don't look like him. That's valuable.

White Americans have largely stopped seeing anti-racism as a major goal of educational policy. Instead, they have chosen to focus on maximizing their own choices and the success of their own children. It's natural for people to want their kids to do well. But how well are you really doing when you are collaborating in a society built on injustice and inequality? Despite the best efforts of activists and scholars, the dream of desegregation in America is dying. Our children are worse off as a result."
race  racism  schools  segregation  resegregation  inequality  education  whiteness  2019  noahberlatsky  history  desegregation  publicschools  privateschools  activism 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Indigenous Knowledge Has Been Warning Us About Climate Change for Centuries - Pacific Standard
"Insofar as mainstream American society reckons with indigenous intellectual/scientific practices, it's as "non-overlapping magisteria," i.e. if they're true then they're not true in a way that would directly challenge our truths. So when Simpson speaks of the need for "ethical systems that promote the diversity of life," I think most Americans would understand "diversity of life" as an unquantifiable abstraction that we can translate into liberal ideals like interpersonal tolerance and non-conformity. But what if we took it literally instead?

The mass death of insects is an observable and measurable disrespect for the diversity of life on Earth, to which we can and should compare other patterns of human practice.

"Indigenous knowledge systems are rigorous, they pursue excellence, they are critical and comprehensive," Simpson says. "The global roots of the climatic crisis and the exploitation of natural resources are issues indigenous peoples have been speaking out against for hundreds of years." The proof is in the pudding: Colonists were warned by word and weapon that a system of individual land ownership would lead to ecological apocalypse, and here we are. What more could you ask from a system of truth and analysis than to alert you to a phenomenon like climate change before it occurs, with enough time to prevent it? That is significantly more than colonial science has offered.

The devaluation of indigenous political thought has nothing to do with its predictive ability. The ruling class produced by accumulation society simply will not put its own system up for debate. Thus the climate change policies we discuss—even and perhaps in particular the Green New Deal—take for granted not just the persistence of commodity accumulation, but its continued growth. As the economists Enno Schröder and Servaas Storm complain in their analysis of proposals for "green growth": "The belief that any of this half-hearted tinkering will lead to drastic cuts in CO2 emissions in the future is plain self-deceit." Economic output as we understand it, they say, must shrink.

If the indigenous critique sounds like an anti-capitalist one, it should. Drawing on the work of communist Glen Coulthard from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Simpson recognizes the language of Marxism as her own. "There is an assumption that socialism and communism are white and that indigenous peoples don't have this kind of thinking," she writes. "To me, the opposite is true." In As We Have Always Done, Simpson makes a gentle case for non-native comrades to follow this lead. For their part, contemporary Marxist scholars like Silvia Federici and Harry Harootunian have been reassessing doctrinaire ideas about the progressive nature of capitalism and the supposed backwardness of indigenous societies, a line of revision that's supported by recent changes to anthropological assumptions regarding the sophistication of pre-colonial technology and social organization.

Green growth, even in its social-democratic versions, isn't going to save the insects. But there exist alternative examples for the left, and for the world. While America's beehives are bare, Cuba's are thriving, which led to the tragicomically western Economist headline: "Agricultural backwardness makes for healthy hives." "We" are just now reactivating the millenia-old Mayan practice of harvesting from wild stingless bees ("meliponiculture"), which used to produce an unimaginably large variety of honeys. These entomological examples support Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani's audacious claim about the history of African thought: Those who study what has been suppressed can see the future.

As for what is to be done about climate change, there's no real mystery. "The issue is that accumulation-based societies don't like the answers we come up with because they are not quick technological fixes, they are not easy," Simpson says. "Real solutions require a rethinking of our global relationship to the land, water, and to each other. They require critical thinking about our economic and political systems. They require radical systemic change."

To this end, Simpson has called for a shift in focus from indigenous cultural resurgence to the anti-colonial struggle for territory. That unsurrendered conflict has continued for hundreds of years, and we should view our living history in its firelight. The best environmental policy America can pursue is to start giving back the land."
malcolmharris  leannebetasamosakesimpson  2019  climatechange  indigenous  indigeneity  growth  economics  globalwarming  timothymorton  greennewdeal  capitalism  accumulation  materialism  marxism  silviafederici  harryharootunian  ennoschröder  servaasstorm  green  greengrowth  environment  climatecrisis 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Yes, Americans Owned Land Before Columbus | JSTOR Daily
"What you were taught in elementary school about Native Americans not owning land is a myth. The truth is much more complicated."



"There’s a myth that Europeans arrived in the Americas and divided the land up, mystifying Native Americans who had no concept of property rights. In reality, historian Allen Greer writes, various American societies had highly-developed systems of property ownership and use. Meanwhile, European colonists sometimes viewed land as a common resource, not just as individual property.

The mythic vision of clashing views of property goes back to John Locke. In 1689, the Enlightenment philosopher contrasted the “wild Indian” in America with the European property owner. Locke’s imaginary “Indian” had the right to the deer he kills but no claim on the forest itself. In contrast, Locke argued, white men could own property because they mixed their labor with the land, clearing, cultivating, and fencing it.

In reality, Greer writes, most people in the pre-Columbian Americas were primarily farmers, not hunter-gatherers. Around major Mesoamerican cities, cropland might be owned by households, temples, or urban nobles. As in Europe, less-cultivated areas like forests and deserts acted as a kind of regulated commons. They might belong to a person, family, or community, with legal provisions for local people to gather wood, berries, or game. In Iroquois and Algonquian nations, women in a particular family typically owned specific maize fields, although people of the area often farmed them, and distributed the harvest, collectively.

Even among North American hunter-gatherer nations, Greer writes, societies often allocated hunting grounds to specific families. And these people didn’t simply harvest nature’s bounty. They used techniques like diverting streams and burning underbrush to manage the land to ensure future harvests.

If the idea of pre-Columbian America as a universal commons is a myth, so is the story that Europeans immediately divided the land into individual plots of private property. Greer notes that in Mexico and other parts of the Americas, Spaniards established pastures and other common lands around their cities. Officials granted parts of this land to individual owners, but much of it remained a municipal commons owned by the town, with all residents entitled to share its bounty.

Similarly, in colonial New England, communal pastures were common. Some towns also used open-field tillage systems in which people owned plots of cropland individually but managed them collectively. It was only gradually, over the course of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, that New Englanders divided most agricultural land into family farms.

When Native and colonial conceptions of property clashed, it was sometimes in the form of Europeans imposing their ideas of common land on territory that was already owned. Colonists often allowed their livestock to roam freely, disrupting the forest ecosystems and ownership systems that provided a livelihood for local people. As a Maryland Native leader named Mattagund explained to colonial authorities, “Your cattle and hogs injure us. You come too near to us to live and drive us from place to place.”

When individual private property did finally become the norm across the Americas, it was through the destruction of prior systems of property rights."
history  ownership  property  2019  land  rights  propertyrights  allengreer 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is being built | Grist
"Is it possible to come up with a solution to the climate crisis, the economic crisis, and the global crisis, all at the same time? New Consensus aims to find out."



"In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, a progressive group called the Justice Democrats jumped into action. If the liberal establishment had failed to keep Trump from power, clearly it was time for some fresh political blood. The group embarked on a hunt for potential candidates, putting out a nationwide call for nominations of community leaders who might make good members of Congress.

The following year, Justice Democrats invited a few standouts among those nominees to “The Candidate Summit,” a gathering in Frankfort, Kentucky. You’ve already heard a lot about one of them: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — now a freshman Congresswoman, social media maven, and pied piper for American progressives.

But you probably have not heard about another one of the people there: 35-year-old grassroots organizer Demond Drummer, who was at the time cofounder of a group that teaches computer science to kids on Chicago’s South Side. At that summit, Drummer realized that running for office wasn’t for him, at least for the time being. Instead, it sparked another idea: Creating a new progressive think tank that would explore how to jumpstart a more equitable society.

That thought remained preliminary until the summer of 2018, when Drummer attended the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. He sat through the talks, but he wasn’t hearing about ideas that could begin to address the problems we face in this country. He had a realization: The people who are in power have no clue what has to happen next. That was his aha moment, he said. He went from being interested in starting up an organization to thinking, “this is the goal of my life.”

He wondered: What are the ideas that might fix the economy and heal the planet? Would it be possible to build an organization that could come up with a solution to the “climate crisis, the economic crisis, and the global crisis, which is rooted in the history of systematic injustice,” as he put it, all at the same time?

“That really got me interested in jumping in on this idea of building an organization,” he said. “That was the idea of New Consensus.”

Later that year, he started putting the concept into action. Drummer’s notion, from the start, was that the U.S. didn’t merely need to solve climate change. It needed an economic transformation, a re-envisioning and rethinking that would make it possible to put a sustainable future on solid ground.

He wasn’t the only one thinking this way — variations of this concept had been kicking around for several years, under the general rubric of a Green New Deal.

In the past five months, the Green New Deal has received reams of media attention. The hubbub is largely focused on Representative Ocasio-Cortez, who — with the help of a vocal cadre of young people affiliated with the activist group Sunrise Movement — popularized the idea.

In February, she, along with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, introduced a non-binding resolution laying out the proposal’s goals. It whipped Washington into a frenzy. Democratic Senators vying for the 2020 presidential nomination lined up to cosponsor it, and parties on the right have been equally eager to skewer it.

As Ocasio-Cortez stoked the flames of public support for such a plan, Drummer realized the Green New Deal was the “best tangible, concrete expression of the kind of economics and politics that we were fighting for and trying to develop.”

All that noise and heat have obscured precisely what the Green New Deal is — the deeper ideas that motivate it, and the people who are getting it off the ground. Is it simply a climate plan with a progressive wish list tacked on, as most have described it? Or is it something far more powerful — a bid to shatter a calcified political establishment and take the economy in a new direction?

Building the team
At the same time that Drummer was hatching his plan, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a Rhodes Scholar and former intern for Michelle Obama, was working as policy director for progressive Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed. She was developing forward-thinking ideas such as MichCare, a state-level single-payer healthcare plan, but the candidate’s bid for a new vision for Michigan failed. He lost to a more moderate candidate last fall.

Gunn-Wright was moving on, preparing to apply for law school, when Drummer approached her. He’d heard about her work for El-Sayed — her 11 policy proposals and 250 pages of policy documents — and wanted her to join his team. “Her reputation preceded her,” he said. She took him up on the offer.

Gunn-Wright and Drummer are now the core of New Consensus — “a policy shop that moves like an organizing shop,” as Drummer puts it — which is growing, but still only has a handful of employees. They have a formidable task in front of them: In less than a year, craft a nation-changing set of policies that can refocus the economy toward justice and sustainability. The timeline is so short because by March 2020 at the latest, Ocasio-Cortez plans to introduce draft Green New Deal legislation in the House. If 10 months later, the Democrats gain control of the House, Senate, and Presidency — possible if unlikely, according to political pundits — portions of the Deal might have a shot at becoming law.

To be sure, New Consensus isn’t alone on this mission. Other players include the Sunrise Movement, the Justice Democrats (which counts Drummer as a board member), and, of course, Ocasio-Cortez’s office. But Drummer and his team, are, in his words, “playing quarterback” in translating its ideas into action."



"By connecting climate action to more tangible issues like wages and health care, New Consensus also hopes to create a national strategy that everyone can get behind — and benefit from. Try explaining the importance of installing more solar panels to a single mother who can’t get childcare, Gunn-Wright said. Illuminating the connection between quality of life and climate action is how they’ll get everyone on board.

“For so long, we have talked about the climate in an abstract, global way — we talk about a reduction in emissions or we talk about keeping the global temperature from rising a particular number of degrees,” she said. “The way that climate change affects people is on a personal level.”

Besides, as Drummer pointed out, it’s not like the U.S. hasn’t spent billions upon billions of dollars on averting the complete collapse of our society in the past. He pointed to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed in 2008 to rescue the American economy. Then he unfurled a quip that would serve him well if he ever does decide to run for Congress: “The same creativity that we used to bail bankers out of that collapse can be applied to finance our future and save the planet.”"
greennewdeal  alexandriaocasio-cortez  2019  policy  climatechange  economics  zoyateirstein  newconsensus  rhianahunn-wright  demonddrummer 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why a US city is searching for mass graves - YouTube
"Nearly 100 years ago, a white mob destroyed an American neighborhood called “Black Wall Street,” murdering an estimated 300 people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That incident — known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre — has been largely left out of US history books. Today, a century later, the city still has a lot of questions. For one, where are the bodies of the victims? As the city's mayor re-opens the search for mass graves, we take a look at what happened back in 1921…and why finding these graves still matters to the people of Tulsa."

[See also:
"An eyewitness account of the horrific attack that destroyed Black Wall Street"
https://www.vox.com/2016/6/1/11827994/tulsa-race-massacre-black-wall-street

"‘They was killing black people’
In Tulsa, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history still haunts the city with unresolved questions, even as ‘Black Wall Street’ gentrifies"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/09/28/feature/they-was-killing-black-people/?utm_term=.449564e853b6

"The Attack on Greenwood"
https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/

"The 1921 Attack on Greenwood was one of the most significant events in Tulsa’s history. Following World War I, Tulsa was recognized nationally for its affluent African American community known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area was referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In June 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area."]
history  race  racism  oklahoma  tulsa  2019  us  1921 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
On International Women’s Day, photographers share their favorite pictures honoring womanhood
"How women photographers access worlds hidden from men: We asked National Geographic photographers to reflect on how gender influences their work."



HANNAH REYES MORALES
"If I could give advice to women, particularly women in places with less resources, I’d say value your perspective. I wish I cherished my background, being a Filipino woman, earlier. When I was younger I spent too much time trying to form myself in shapes that I was not, because I thought that that’s what it took to be a photographer. I didn’t value the things that made me, me."



"There are benefits to being a photographer who happens to be a woman: you’re welcomed into secret worlds, invited into homes, and trusted with the most delicate subjects. Then there are the downsides: fighting to be taken seriously by a male-dominated industry, entering dangerous and unpredictable situations, and tackling stereotypes about where women should go and the topics they should cover. We asked National Geographic's women photographers from across the world for memories and reflections on how gender is intertwined with their work, the opportunities for young women coming after them, and the future of their field. They showed us their favorite photographs of women—a young falconer in Mongolia (above), a Saudi motorcyclist, a Japanese geisha taking a smoking break—and told us the behind-the-scenes stories. They also told us they were optimistic that the status quo is changing, thanks to those who fought for decades to be taken seriously. "For a very long time, we've been predominantly looking at the world through the experience and vision of male photographers," says photographer Daniella Zalcman. "That's changing more and more rapidly now—and it's about time." Here are their words and photographs."
photography  women  gender  2019  nationalgeographic  access  daniellazalcman  hannahreyesmorales  acaciajohnson  lujánagusti  perpective  tasneemalsultan  anastasiataylor-lind  yanapaskova  sarahylton  alexpotter  erikalarsen  karlagachet  maggiesteber  machaelaskovranova  dinalitovsky  saumyakhandelwal  andreabruce  stephaniesinclair  amivitale  reneeffendi  cristinamittermeier  jodicobb  tamaramerino  ninastrochlic 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops | Business | The Guardian
"When Aldi arrived in Britain, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were sure they had nothing to worry about. Three decades later, they know better."



"By sucking in shoppers and, as former Aldi UK CEO Paul Foley puts it, “sucking the profitability out of the industry” – profit margins of 2-3% are now the norm – the two German-owned companies have forced the “big four” supermarkets to take drastic measures. Morrisons has closed stores and laid off workers, while Sainsbury’s and Asda, desperate to cut costs and stop losing market share, announced a proposed £13bn merger in May, which the UK competition watchdog now appears likely to block. Tesco, meanwhile, has slashed its product range and bought the discount wholesaler Booker. In September, in a belated acknowledgement that the major threat to its business comes from Aldi and Lidl, Tesco launched its own discount chain, called Jack’s.

These industry shifts often lead the news, because supermarkets are so important to the economy: with more than 300,000 staff, Tesco is the UK’s biggest private-sector employer and the biggest retailer of any sort. But we also follow these stories closely for a more sentimental reason: grocery shopping is an intimate part of our lives. We don’t need to buy books or fancy trainers, but we do need to eat.

Most of us shop weekly, at the same store each time. Traditionally, we chose a shop for convenience – because a particular store was close by and because we knew along which aisles to find a large choice of our favourite products and brands – and loyalty. Research shows that many of us also chose a grocer because of how we perceived ourselves in terms of class and status. In the early 2000s, before Aldi’s rise, Peter Jackson, professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield, noted that British shoppers appeared to want an “environment where they will be surrounded by people like themselves” with whom they feel comfortable.

But the success of Aldi and, to a lesser extent, Lidl, shows that these old conventions no longer hold so true. Aldi, which is still family owned and unburdened by the short-term pressures for profits faced by its stock-market listed rivals, has changed the way we shop."
aldi  traderjoes  supermarkets  retail  2019  choice  simplicity  class  identity 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
What if All the World’s Economic Woes Are Part of the Same Problem? - The New York Times
"If a group of time-traveling economists were to visit from the year 2000 and wanted to know how the economy had changed since their time, what would you tell them?

You might mention that economic growth has been slower than it used to be across much of the advanced world, and global inflation and interest rates have been lower. An aging population is changing the demographics of the work force. Productivity growth has been weak. Inequality has risen. And the corporate world is more and more dominated by a handful of “superstar” firms.

The time-traveling economists would find that list rather depressing, but also would tend to view each problem on the list as discrete, with its own cause and potential solutions. “What terrible economic luck,” they might say, “that all those things happened at the same time.”

But what if those megatrends are all the same problem?

Maybe, for example, inequality is contributing to weak growth and low rates because the rich tend to save money rather than spend it. Maybe productivity has been weak not by coincidence, but because weak growth has meant companies haven’t been forced to innovate to meet demand. Perhaps industry concentration has left companies with more power to set wages, resulting in more inequality and lower inflation.

Those theories may not be definitively proven, but there is growing evidence supporting each. Much of the most interesting economic research these days is trying to understand and prove potential connections between these dysfunctions.

In recent weeks, for example, one groundbreaking paper proposes that low interest rates are fueling a rising concentration of major industries and low productivity growth. Another offers evidence that aging demographics are an important factor in weak productivity.

Even if you don’t fully buy every one of these interrelationships, taken together, this work suggests we’ve been thinking about the world’s economic woes all wrong. It’s not a series of single strands, but a spider web of them.

Imagine a person with a few separate problems — some credit card debt, say, and an unhappy marriage. That person might be able to address each problem on its own, by paying down debt and going to counseling.

But things are thornier when a person has a long list of problems that are interrelated. Think of someone with mental health problems, a drug addiction, and an inability to maintain family relationships or hold a job. For that person you can’t just fix one thing. It’s a whole basket of problems.

The implication of this new body of research is that the global economy, like that troubled person, needs a lot of different types of help all at the same time.

But for now, the challenge is just to understand it.

Why low interest rates can favor market leaders
Atif Mian, an economist at Princeton, was recently having dinner with a colleague whose parents owned a small hotel in Spain. The parents had complained vociferously, Mr. Mian recalled the friend saying, about the European Central Bank’s low interest rate policies.

That didn’t make sense, Mr. Mian thought. After all, low interest rates should make it easier for small business owners to invest and expand; that’s one of the reasons central banks use them to combat economic weakness.

The owners of the small hotel didn’t see it that way. They thought that big hotel chains were the real beneficiaries of low interest rate policies, not a mom-and-pop operation.

Mr. Mian, along with his Princeton colleague Ernest Liu and research partner, Amir Sufi at the University of Chicago, tried to figure out if the relationship between low interest rates and business investment might be murkier than textbooks suggested.

Imagine a town in which two hotels are competing for business, one part of a giant chain and one that is independent. The chain hotel might have some better technology and marketing to give it a steady advantage, and is therefore able to charge a little more for its rooms and be a little more profitable. But it is basically a level playing field.

When interest rates fall to very low levels, though, the payoff for being the industry leader rises, under the logic that a business generating a given flow of cash is more valuable when rates are low than when they are high. (This is why low interest rates typically cause the stock market to rise.)

A market leader has more to gain from investing and becoming bigger, and it becomes less likely that the laggards will ever catch up.

“At low interest rates, the valuation of market leaders rises relative to the rest,” Mr. Mian said. “Amazon becomes a lot more valuable as interest rates fall relative to a smaller player in the same industry, and that gives a huge advantage to Amazon.”

In turn, the researchers argue, that can cause smaller players to underinvest, lowering productivity growth across the economy. And that can create a self-sustaining cycle in which industry leaders invest more and achieve ever-rising dominance of their industry.

The researchers tested the theory against historical stock market data since 1962, and found that falling interest rates indeed correlated with market leaders that outperformed the laggards.

“There’s a view that we can solve all of our problems by just making interest rates low enough,” Mr. Mian said. “We’re questioning that notion and believe there is something else going on.”

How an aging population affects productivity
In another effort to apply a new lens on how major economic forces may interact, economists at Moody’s Analytics have tried to unpack the ties between demographic change and labor productivity.

No one disputes that the aging of the current work force is reducing growth rates. With many in the large baby boom generation retiring, fewer people are working and producing, which directly reduces economic output.

In terms of company efficiency, though, you could imagine that an aging work force could cut in either direction. Savvy, more experienced workers might be able to generate more output for every hour they work. But they might be less willing to learn the latest technology or adapt their work style to changing environments.

Adam Ozimek, Dante DeAntonio and Mark Zandi analyzed data on work force age and productivity at both the state and industry level, with payroll data on millions of workers. They found that the second effect seems to prevail, that an aging work force can explain a slowdown in productivity growth of between 0.3 and 0.7 percentage points per year over the last 15 years.

Mr. Ozimek says companies may not want to invest in new training for people in their early 60s who will retire in a few years. “It’s possible that older workers may still be the absolute best workers at their firms, but it could be not worth it to them or the company to retrain and learn new things,” he said.

The research implies there could be a downward drag on productivity growth for years to come.

These findings are hardly the end of the discussion on these topics. But they do reflect that there can be a lot of nonintuitive connections hiding in plain sight.

Everything, it turns out, affects everything."
interconnected  complexity  economics  2019  neilirwin  productivity  interestrates  atifmian  interrelated  inequality  growth  demographics  consolidation  corporatism  capitalism 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Remembering Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Master of Silence | Pitchfork
"Mark Hollis’ legacy is silence, but it didn’t begin there. There were precedents for the slow, sprawling emptiness that became his signature—first sonically, as the frontman of post-rock legends Talk Talk, and then with his very existence, as he retreated from the public world following his lone solo album in 1998. In interviews, Hollis attributed his use of silence in music to a fascination with jazz—John Coltrane, Miles Davis with Gil Evans—as well as composers like John Cage and Ravel. He liked music constructed with more room than it physically demanded. That way, he observed, you could hear every little movement: the way guitar strings vibrate as a note dies out; the raspy, winding sound of a long exhale into a harmonica. You listen to his music the way you navigate an open field. Hollis sang quietly; he considered volume in the spatial sense.

Anyone who’s fallen in love with a record knows there’s no silence like the one after it ends, and Hollis structured his career like a long fadeout. Those early-’80s Talk Talk albums—where bassist Paul Webb led melodies so immortal, they became hits for pop acts decades later—are catchy and artful, immediate yet ambitious. If you, like me, came to Hollis’ music in retrospect, after he was already a ghost, then it might be jarring to go back before Talk Talk’s art-rock landmark, 1988’s Spirit of Eden, and realize just how magnetic he was as a pop singer. For Hollis, his evolution from a synth-pop frontman—someone who opened for and shared a producer with Duran Duran—into one of rock’s most elusive spirits was barely worth mentioning. “As time goes on your tastes change and that’s all it is,” he once put it.

This sense of inevitability guided Hollis’ every move. The central motif of his work was springtime: things melting and being born, nature in transition, new grass and old traditions. If you want to hear the pivot point of his career, the moment when the temperature changed for good, you can find it halfway through Talk Talk’s 1986 album The Colour of Spring. At the core of the record is one of Talk Talk’s biggest hits, “Life’s What You Make It,” where Hollis sings about aging gracefully over a surging piano line. “Yesterday’s faded/Nothing can change it,” he says, before intoning the song’s hopeful title followed by a pair of simple commands: “Celebrate it. Anticipate it.”

There are generally two ways to respond to instructions like these: roll your eyes and return to whatever’s dragging you down, or take heed and make a change. The next track on the album, a slow metamorphosis called “April 5th,” makes it clear that Hollis took his own advice. Over the course of six minutes, an organ builds toward a gospel crescendo, a tangled bed of woodwinds sets itself free, and Hollis’ last, desperate plea—“Let me breathe”—becomes his version of seduction: “Let me breathe you.” It’s spiritual music that burrows inward, the reflection of Astral Weeks in a small body of water. You can listen, even now, and feel like you’re witnessing something improvisational, something happening just for you.

Read enough interviews with Hollis (there aren’t many) and you’ll find his most trusted mantra—“To play one note well is better than to play two notes badly”—is also a sharp metaphor for trusting your most basic instincts. Hollis didn’t want to teach—he wanted to relieve you of things you already knew, worries that turn into obsessions, weight that drags us down over time. As early as the very first song on Talk Talk’s very first album, he was bemoaning a conversation gone bad; repeating his band’s name until it sounded onomatopoeic. It doesn’t seem coincidental that he quit making music in the late ’90s, when the distribution of information became more instantaneous—a feed of infinite notes played badly, all at once, for everyone to hear. In his absence the world became, and will continue to become, a whole lot louder.

After the release of Talk Talk’s hushed masterpieces, Spirit of Eden and its even quieter follow-up, 1991’s Laughing Stock, Hollis’ sound never really disappeared. It was there in the rise of post-rock; in the merging of ambient and popular music, through shoegaze and beyond; in any band reinventing themselves by slowing down and spreading out, in defiance to accessibility. His most vocal supporters have always been fellow musicians, because in his story was a path toward finding peace without compromising your vision.

I downloaded Spirit of Eden off a music message board in my early teens, likely because members of Radiohead kept mentioning it in interviews. My initial experiences with the record were frustrating. I was left feeling like a piece was missing, like I was standing too close to something bigger than myself. It became music that never felt like it was mine. Instead, it was a sound that I could return to, over and over, not to try to understand but to lose myself in more deeply. As the world becomes more familiar, experiences like this are rarer—real quiet is hard to find and even harder to sustain."
markhollis  2019  silence  music  talktalk 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
"Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters. Only drastic action will kick our dependency"



"One of these emergencies is familiar to every hospital. Pollution now kills three times as many people worldwide as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Remember the claims at the start of this century, projected so noisily by the billionaire press: that public money would be better spent on preventing communicable disease than on preventing climate breakdown? It turns out that the health dividend from phasing out fossil fuels is likely to have been much bigger. (Of course, there was nothing stopping us from spending money on both: it was a false dilemma.) Burning fossil fuels, according to a recent paper, is now “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”.

In other sectors, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply. But transport emissions in the UK have declined by only 2% since 1990. The government’s legally binding target is an 80% cut by 2050, though even this, the science now tells us, is hopelessly inadequate. Transport, mostly because of our obsession with the private car, is now the major factor driving us towards climate breakdown, in this and many other nations.

The number of people killed on the roads was falling steadily in the UK until 2010, at which point the decline suddenly ended. Why? Because, while fewer drivers and passengers are dying, the number of pedestrians killed has risen by 11%. In the US, it’s even worse: a 51% rise in the annual death rate of pedestrians since 2009. There seem to be two reasons: drivers distracted by their mobile phones, and a switch from ordinary cars to sports-utility vehicles. As SUVs are higher and heavier, they are more likely to kill the people they hit. Driving an SUV in an urban area is an antisocial act.

There are also subtler and more pervasive effects. Traffic mutes community, as the noise, danger and pollution in busy streets drive people indoors. The places in which children could play and adults could sit and talk are reserved instead for parking. Engine noise, a great but scarcely acknowledged cause of stress and illness, fills our lives. As we jostle to secure our road space, as we swear and shake our fists at other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, as we grumble about speed limits and traffic calming, cars change us, enhancing our sense of threat and competition, cutting us off from each other.

New roads carve up the countryside, dispelling peace, creating a penumbra of noise, pollution and ugliness. Their effects spread for many miles. The deposition of reactive nitrogen from car exhaust (among other factors) changes the living systems even of remote fastnesses. In Snowdonia, it is dropped at the rate of 24kg per hectare per year, radically altering plant communities. Wars are fought to keep down the cost of driving: hundreds of thousands died in Iraq partly for this purpose. The earth is reamed with the mines required to manufacture cars and the oil wells needed to power them, and poisoned by the spills and tailings.

A switch to electric cars addresses only some of these issues. Already, beautiful places are being wrecked by an electric vehicle resource rush. Lithium mining, for example, is now poisoning rivers and depleting groundwater from Tibet to Bolivia. They still require a vast expenditure of energy and space. They still need tyres, whose manufacture and disposal (tyres are too complex to recycle) is a massive environmental blight.

We are told that cars are about freedom of choice. But every aspect of this assault on our lives is assisted by state planning and subsidy. Roads are built to accommodate projected traffic, which then grows to fill the new capacity. Streets are modelled to maximise the flow of cars. Pedestrians and cyclists are squeezed by planners into narrow and often dangerous spaces – the afterthoughts of urban design. If we paid for residential street parking at market rates for land, renting the 12m2 a car requires would cost around £3,000 a year in the richer parts of Britain. The chaos on our roads is a planned chaos.

Transport should be planned, but with entirely different aims: to maximise its social benefits, while minimising harm. This means a wholesale switch towards electric mass transit, safe and separate bike lanes and broad pavements, accompanied by a steady closure of the conditions that allow cars to rampage through our lives. In some places, and for some purposes, using cars is unavoidable. But for the great majority of journeys they can easily be substituted, as you can see in Amsterdam, Pontevedra and Copenhagen. We could almost eliminate them from our cities.

In this age of multiple emergencies – climate chaos, pollution, social alienation – we should remember that technologies exist to serve us, not to dominate us. It is time to drive the car out of our lives."
cars  georgemonbiot  2019  environment  safety  health  policy  transportation  emissions  freedom  climatechange  globalwarming  society  cities  urban  urbanism  isolation  pollution  alienation  masstransit 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Open Forum: Bring back the ‘missing middle’ housing - SFChronicle.com
"Tucked into neighborhoods throughout Oakland, Berkeley and many other Bay Area cities are small, beautiful duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. These multifamily residences tend to be more affordable than single-family homes and were a major housing type in U.S. urban areas before World War II. But since the 1960s and ’70s, this type of essential housing has become illegal in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area and nation because it exceeds the density allowed. That’s why it’s now called “missing middle” housing. It’s time we brought it back.

Late this month, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to study the return of the missing middle — specifically, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in most areas of the city, except for the fire-prone hills. Councilmembers Lori Droste, Ben Bartlett, Rashi Kesarwani and Rigel Robinson patterned their plan on a groundbreaking law that passed last fall in Minneapolis. In a historic vote, the Minneapolis City Council decided to become the first in the nation to once again allow for new duplexes and triplexes in single-family-home neighborhoods.

In a letter of support for the Berkeley plan, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it could serve as a model for her city and others. Indeed, it could be a model for all of California.

It would also help right a historic wrong. During the first part of the 20th century, some white, wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley attached racial covenants to housing deeds — covenants that banned people of color from living there. Then, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial covenants in 1916 in Buchanan vs. Warley, Berkeley, regrettably, became a national leader of so-called “exclusionary zoning” laws. These laws worked much like racial covenants: They banned apartment buildings in many neighborhoods under the racist reasoning that people of color wouldn’t be able to live in those neighborhoods because they couldn’t afford to buy single-family homes.

In the following decades, “redlining” (a discriminatory practice of refusing to loan or insure in certain neighborhoods) and disinvestment deepened the racial divide in housing, as Richard Rothstein noted in his acclaimed 2017 book, “The Color of Law.” Cities and counties made matters worse in the ’60s and ’70s when they expanded exclusionary zoning, prohibiting missing middle housing in most neighborhoods.

Berkeley deserves credit for green-lighting new multi-unit housing downtown and on some major transit corridors during the past decade. But large swaths of the city are still limited by exclusive R-1 zoning, which only allows for single-family homes. In fact, homeowners in much of the city not only can’t add another home to a large lot but are blocked from subdividing their existing large house into two, three or four units.

Berkeley, of course, is not alone in its embrace of exclusionary zoning. Issi Romem, chief economist for Trulia, estimates that single-family-home neighborhoods represent nearly half of the land mass of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The consequences of banning the missing middle have also been devastating for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The median sales price of a home in Berkeley soared 65 percent in five years, from 2013 to 2018, reaching $1.2 million this past December, according to Zillow. And Berkeley rent prices skyrocketed 54 percent during the same period. In the Bay Area, a family currently needs to earn $200,000 a year to afford a median-priced home.

In short, we have a housing emergency. California now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of the number of housing units per capita. It’s no wonder that our homelessness crisis continues to expand.

It’s also an environmental crisis. During the past several decades, suburban sprawl, coupled with little to no new housing in our cities, has fueled gas-guzzling super-commutes. According to a 2018 report by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the single most important way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint by 2030 — which scientists say is the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change — is to build urban infill housing.

We need an “all-of-the-above” approach to address our housing crisis, including Berkeley’s missing middle plan. I’m also heartened that the Berkeley City Council members’ proposal includes important elements to avoid unintended consequences.

For example, it would exempt dangerous fire zones in the Berkeley hills. California’s devastating wildfires during the past few years have proven we must curb new home-building in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Berkeley missing middle plan also calls for anti-displacement measures to ensure that tenants and low-income residents aren’t kicked out of their homes to make way for new housing.

As Karen Chapple, faculty director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley, rightly noted in a letter in support of the missing middle plan, “Zoning reform has the potential not just to address the housing crisis but also to become a form of restorative or even transformative justice. There is no more important issue for planners to tackle today.”

I look forward to the Berkeley City Council approving the missing middle study at its meeting on March 26. And I encourage all Bay Area cities to follow suit."
housing  california  2019  density  apartments  history  race  racism  sanfrancisco  berkeley  oakland  infilling 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why you still don't understand the Green New Deal - YouTube
"Political news coverage tends to focus on strategy over substance, and that’s making it less likely that the public will agree on big policy ideas when we need them the most.

The Green New Deal is an ambitious proposal that outlines how the U.S. might begin transitioning towards a green economy over the next ten years. It includes steps like upgrading our power grid and renovating our transportation infrastructure. But most people watching news coverage likely don’t know what’s in the Green New Deal. And that’s because political news coverage tends to focus on strategy over substance, fixating on a bill’s political ramifications rather than its ability to solve a problem. That approach to news coverage is known as “tactical framing,” and research shows it makes audiences at home more cynical and less informed about big policy debates. The result is a cycle of partisanship, where solutions to big problems like climate change are judged on their political popularity rather than their merit.

Check out this in-depth look at the substance of the Green New Deal:
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/21/18144138/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez ]
greennewdeal  policy  us  politics  tacticalframing  economics  environment  alexandriaocasio-cortez  news  media  elections  2019 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
I Embraced Screen Time With My Daughter—and I Love It | WIRED
I often turn to my sister, Mimi Ito, for advice on these issues. She has raised two well-adjusted kids and directs the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine, where researchers conduct extensive research on children and technology. Her opinion is that “most tech-privileged parents should be less concerned with controlling their kids’ tech use and more about being connected to their digital lives.” Mimi is glad that the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) dropped its famous 2x2 rule—no screens for the first two years, and no more than two hours a day until a child hits 18. She argues that this rule fed into stigma and parent-shaming around screen time at the expense of what she calls “connected parenting”—guiding and engaging in kids’ digital interests.

One example of my attempt at connected parenting is watching YouTube together with Kio, singing along with Elmo as Kio shows off the new dance moves she’s learned. Everyday, Kio has more new videos and favorite characters that she is excited to share when I come home, and the songs and activities follow us into our ritual of goofing off in bed as a family before she goes to sleep. Her grandmother in Japan is usually part of this ritual in a surreal situation where she is participating via FaceTime on my wife’s iPhone, watching Kio watching videos and singing along and cheering her on. I can’t imagine depriving us of these ways of connecting with her.

The (Unfounded) War on Screens

The anti-screen narrative can sometimes read like the War on Drugs. Perhaps the best example is Glow Kids, in which Nicholas Kardaras tells us that screens deliver a dopamine rush rather like sex. He calls screens “digital heroin” and uses the term “addiction” when referring to children unable to self-regulate their time online.

More sober (and less breathlessly alarmist) assessments by child psychologists and data analysts offer a more balanced view of the impact of technology on our kids. Psychologist and baby observer Alison Gopnik, for instance, notes: “There are plenty of mindless things that you could be doing on a screen. But there are also interactive, exploratory things that you could be doing.” Gopnik highlights how feeling good about digital connections is a normal part of psychology and child development. “If your friends give you a like, well, it would be bad if you didn’t produce dopamine,” she says.

Other research has found that the impact of screens on kids is relatively small, and even the conservative AAP says that cases of children who have trouble regulating their screen time are not the norm, representing just 4 percent to 8.5 percent of US children. This year, Andrew Przybylski and Amy Orben conducted a rigorous analysis of data on more than 350,000 adolescents and found a nearly negligible effect on psychological well-being at the aggregate level.

In their research on digital parenting, Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found widespread concern among parents about screen time. They posit, however, that “screen time” is an unhelpful catchall term and recommend that parents focus instead on quality and joint engagement rather than just quantity. The Connected Learning Lab’s Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological sciences, reviewed the research on adolescents and devices and found as many positive as negative effects. She points to the consequences of unbalanced attention on the negative ones. “The real threat isn’t smartphones. It’s this campaign of misinformation and the generation of fear among parents and educators.”

We need to immediately begin rigorous, longitudinal studies on the effects of devices and the underlying algorithms that guide their interfaces and their interactions with and recommendations for children. Then we can make evidence-based decisions about how these systems should be designed, optimized for, and deployed among children, and not put all the burden on parents to do the monitoring and regulation.

My guess is that for most kids, this issue of screen time is statistically insignificant in the context of all the other issues we face as parents—education, health, day care—and for those outside my elite tech circles even more so. Parents like me, and other tech leaders profiled in a recent New York Times series about tech elites keeping their kids off devices, can afford to hire nannies to keep their kids off screens. Our kids are the least likely to suffer the harms of excessive screen time. We are also the ones least qualified to be judgmental about other families who may need to rely on screens in different ways. We should be creating technology that makes screen entertainment healthier and fun for all families, especially those who don’t have nannies.

I’m not ignoring the kids and families for whom digital devices are a real problem, but I believe that even in those cases, focusing on relationships may be more important than focusing on controlling access to screens.

Keep It Positive

One metaphor for screen time that my sister uses is sugar. We know sugar is generally bad for you and has many side effects and can be addictive to kids. However, the occasional bonding ritual over milk and cookies might have more benefit to a family than an outright ban on sugar. Bans can also backfire, fueling binges and shame as well as mistrust and secrecy between parents and kids.

When parents allow kids to use computers, they often use spying tools, and many teens feel parental surveillance is invasive to their privacy. One study showed that using screen time to punish or reward behavior actually increased net screen time use by kids. Another study by Common Sense Media shows what seems intuitively obvious: Parents use screens as much as kids. Kids model their parents—and have a laserlike focus on parental hypocrisy.

In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle describes the fracturing of family cohesion because of the attention that devices get and how this has disintegrated family interaction. While I agree that there are situations where devices are a distraction—I often declare “laptops closed” in class, and I feel that texting during dinner is generally rude—I do not feel that iPhones necessarily draw families apart.

In the days before the proliferation of screens, I ran away from kindergarten every day until they kicked me out. I missed more classes than any other student in my high school and barely managed to graduate. I also started more extracurricular clubs in high school than any other student. My mother actively supported my inability to follow rules and my obsessive tendency to pursue my interests and hobbies over those things I was supposed to do. In the process, she fostered a highly supportive trust relationship that allowed me to learn through failure and sometimes get lost without feeling abandoned or ashamed.

It turns out my mother intuitively knew that it’s more important to stay grounded in the fundamentals of positive parenting. “Research consistently finds that children benefit from parents who are sensitive, responsive, affectionate, consistent, and communicative” says education professor Stephanie Reich, another member of the Connected Learning Lab who specializes in parenting, media, and early childhood. One study shows measurable cognitive benefits from warm and less restrictive parenting.

When I watch my little girl learning dance moves from every earworm video that YouTube serves up, I imagine my mother looking at me while I spent every waking hour playing games online, which was my pathway to developing my global network of colleagues and exploring the internet and its potential early on. I wonder what wonderful as well as awful things will have happened by the time my daughter is my age, and I hope a good relationship with screens and the world beyond them can prepare her for this future."
joiito  parenting  screentime  mimiito  techology  screens  children  alisongopnik  2019  computers  computing  tablets  phones  smartphones  mobile  nicholaskardaras  addiction  prohibition  andrewprzybylski  aliciablum-ross  sonialvingstone  amyorben  adolescence  psychology  candiceodgers  research  stephaniereich  connectedlearning  learning  schools  sherryturkle  trust 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Social_Animals — Official Movie Website
[See also:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0X-XEcmmFc
https://www.instagram.com/social_animals/ ]

[via: https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/1105495955988795392 ]

"A daredevil photographer, an aspiring swimsuit model, and a midwest girl next door are all looking for the same things from their Instagram account–a little love, acceptance and, of course, fame. And they’ll do just about anything to get it. With an observational eye Social Animals peeks into the digital and real worlds of today’s image-focused teenager, where followers, likes and comments mark success and self worth."

[See also:
https://variety.com/2018/film/news/instagram-star-documentary-social-animals-gravitas-ventures-1203078409/
https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/12/17105364/social-animals-documentary-teens-instagram-interview-sxsw-2018
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/social-animals-1091000
https://theplaylist.net/social-animals-review-20180309/ ]
film  social  media  instagram  youth  teens  towatch  2018  2019  via:mattthomas  documentary  internet  srg  edg 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Economic Anxiety Is Not Just for White Men
"At some point in his 56 years of life, Cesar Alteri Sayoc—the man charged with mailing explosive devices across the country and who is the mixed son of Italian and Filipino parents—learned to cloak himself in the construct of whiteness and the benefits he likely presumed it would provide.

Among those were the benefit of the doubt—a privilege generally not granted black men in similar economic stations—that being lost, angry and homeless precipitated his descent into violence. This may be true. It is also apparent that Sayoc’s hopelessness could find salvation in bigotry.

He is just one in a spate of white men who found comfort for their white supremacy in America’s highest executive office and sympathy for their socioeconomic conditions in mainstream media over the course of two violent weeks last fall. Soon after Sayoc was identified as the suspect who spent several days sending package bombs to Democratic officials and terrorizing the country, the public learned about his bankruptcy, the house that was foreclosed, and the van out of which he was reportedly living.

In a world where white interests are prioritized, the black lives that they threaten are collateral damage, afterthoughts in the white imagination. And it begs the question: Where is this attention to the systemic failures of capitalism when black people are its victims, let alone if they are criminal perpetrators?"



"Cesar Sayoc bounced around odd jobs and conjured some imagined ones. “He said he worked for the Hard Rock casino booking all their venues,” Debra Gureghian tells me over the phone as she prepares her work at a Fort Lauderdale pizza shop. She supervised Sayoc at the shop for several months, where he drove his infamous white Dodge Ram van on delivery runs. Hard Rock Cafe Inc. denied that it had ever employed him. “I didn’t know any of this was a lie,” Gureghian shares.

When Sayoc wasn’t insulting his boss’ sexuality—“a proud lesbian,” Debra affirms—he was comparing black people to apes and hearkening back to the Hitler regime. Sayoc and others like him, Gureghian observes, “are becoming entrenched in hatred and have become foot soldiers for Donald Trump. The hatred is being bred nightly, daily.”

Gureghian was prepared to defend herself before I had a chance to ask. “I couldn’t fire him. He did his work. Being a non-corporate restaurant, my hands were tied.”

Like Eric Garner and other men dealing with economic insecurity, Sayoc had multiple jobs and no particular career. He, too, became a bouncer. He also had several run-ins with the law. Prior to his gig delivering pizza, Sayoc had multiple arrests. This is about where the comparison ends. As described in a Wired report, Sayoc’s charges “related to fraud, possession of a controlled substance, battery...and more. [He] appears not to have served any jail time in Florida, but was placed on probation in three separate instances.” Sayoc was extended chances in both the legal system and the job market. Despite an extensive record, dating at least as far back as 1986, he kept getting hired.

Unfortunately, that leeway hasn’t been equally extended to black men and women who began falling behind in America’s restructured economy and those still reeling from the devastating blow of the Great Recession. Their rap sheets don’t get ignored by employers. Their anger hasn’t been assuaged by humane news profiles or blessed by America’s high profile public officials.

Black pain, instead, becomes mere background noise. Until it is not. And in those rare moments—when fires rage in post-industrial wreckage—civil unrest is dismissed as rioting. Nonviolent protest framed as extremism. Disillusionment pinned exclusively on Facebook, Russians, and outside agitators instead of our decades of tireless struggle.

When cities no longer provide material comfort and companies abandon us like obsolete machinery, left to rust when we’ve reached our useful life, the pioneers among us engage in a “silent pilgrimage.” From the south to the north and back south again, we search elsewhere in the country’s boundaries looking for a reprieve, searching for a world that has been engineered to never exist. And the cycle continues, as the dreams of our ancestors suffocate, left to die on a concrete sidewalk."
economics  anxiety  malaikajabali  capitalism  2019  race  us  policy  extremism  work  labor  unemployment 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
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