So, this morning at brunch, my girlfriend and I watched live news coverage of the Boston Free Speech rally and its infinitely larger protest. The narrative seemed to be that the protesters were all liberal bleeding-heart types and that the rally attendees were a bunch of racist, Donald Trump supporting, alt-right white folk. But, a few hours later, Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) took to Periscope asking if anyone knew for sure that the Boston Free Speech group was actually there to promote racism. And, of the 1,000+ people watching his Periscope, no one (myself included) seemed to know.
This is me trying to answer that question. Now, I don’t actually know for certain who all showed up to this event. What I do know is the list of speakers the group published shortly before the event. Here is the annotated list. Continue reading Who was at the Boston Free Speech rally?
Here in the United States it feels like a week can’t go by without a white cop killing an unarmed black man. It’s a distressing situation made that much more overwhelming by all the complicated and unresolved social problems it brings front and center for all the bobbleheads to poke and prod and jabber about but do nothing to change.
I don’t think I’m capable of adequately understanding and addressing all of those issues. Hell, I know I’m not. However, one question I can at least scratch the surface of is the question of caselaw. I spent a recent Sunday quaffing coffee and Googling the shit out of terms like “officer-involved shooting”, “deadly force”, “excessive force” and “police brutality”, and now I am an expert on the subject.1
What I gleaned through my Cyberian wanderings is that the caselaw deals with three subjects: the criminality of the officer’s conduct (Did s/he commit murder/manslaughter?), the liability of the officer (Can the victim’s family sue him/her personally?), and the liability of the officer’s employer (Should the state/city/agency compensate the victim’s family?). In other words, we’re dealing with criminal law (Should the officer go to prison?) and civil law (Can the officer/police department be sued?).
A question I’ve had for years is: Whose input goes into the USDA food pyramid/guide? In conversation, a few people have told me that meat, dairy and wheat farmer organizations hire big-money lobbyists to heavily influence these recommendations. As something of a cynic, that’s always seemed quite plausible to me; but I’ve always retained some doubt. I mean, would a federal agency really compromise the quality of its dietary advice for decades in order to placate some farmers? Well, it kinda looks like the answer is yes. Continue reading Whose input goes into the USDA food pyramid?
For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a project where I collect world history books from various nations and compare their portrayal of the same events. Unfortunately, I don’t really have access to history books from around the globe; and, even if i did, I wouldn’t be able to translate them. So, for now, I’m settling for doing what I’m calling a wiki study: I’m comparing the intro section of a Wikipedia article as it appears in several languages. For my first foray into wikistudies, I’ve chosen the American Revolution. Enjoy. Continue reading The American Revolution in 7 languages – a wiki study
Abortion has been a bitterly contentious subject for decades if not millennia. The recently concocted controversy re Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling harvested fetal tissue to medical researchers has brought the subject front and center once more. And, while I’m not particularly interested in the current hokum, I would like to share my thoughts on why this debate has never gone anywhere. Continue reading The semiotics of abortion
Tania Bruguera is a controversial performance artist of international acclaim. Born in Havana, Cuba in 1968, Bruguera grew up in a time when Cuba’s relations with the global community, and the United States in particular, were strained. Receiving degrees from the Cuban Instituto Superior de Arte and the American School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bruguera would eventually establish residences in both Havana and Chicago, travel the world, and receive awards and academic acclaim both for her artwork and for her efforts as a public speaker, political activist, and founder and director of Arte de Conducta, the first Cuban performance-art program.
“Hair is political” has become a commonplace statement in black feminist circles. I don’t know that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is responsible for popularizing the phrase, but she certainly seems to be the person saying it most often these days. The first time I can recall hearing someone discuss the racial-cum-gender politics of hair was at the 2011 Annual Women’s Studies Conference in Pensacola, Florida. The speaker, Aphrodite Kocieda, described the straightening and lengthening of hair—and white mimicry in general—as a tool black women use to obtain visibility in a “racist, sexist, patriarchal society.”
That was a long time ago, but all this talk about racist hair and political hair lately has me wondering: What about white folk’s hair? If the straightening of black hair represents racial sublimation and an attempt to conform to other groups’ standards of beauty, then what does the curling and perming of European/white hair signify?