Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic
, recently touched on a couple of interesting aspects of the American Civil War. First, Racism Against White People
briefly looked at how Southern intellectuals argued that Northern whites were of a different race. Then a subthread in the comments on that post spawned an investigation of American Exceptionalism in History
and the notion of preserving democracy in the context of the American Civil War. After all, "if a government can be sundered simply because the minority doesn't like the results of an election, can it even call itself a government?" Definitely check out the comments of both posts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Jul 8, 2012 -
In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell
” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America
" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via
posted by The Whelk
on Jul 7, 2012 -
Nissan's Batmobilelike DeltaWing
in collaboration with Dan Gurney's All American Racers
is car initially made to be the new IndyCar but ultimately made to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly American Le Mans using half the amount of tyres and fuel as any car. It managed to run for 6 of the 24 hours before being taken out
in the race.
posted by juiceCake
on Jun 18, 2012 -
It all comes down to race.
Michael Tesler, expanding upon the research of his mentor David Sears, has found racial bias to be a strong indicator of people's opinions on a myriad of political and other issues. The effect extended even to issues that normally would be the most stable and to opinions that would seem divorced from politics. [more inside]
posted by caddis
on Jun 2, 2012 -
...The cult of and luster for country blues among these record collectors came about because not only were recordings by Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James and Robert Johnson not successfully sold to African Americans, but other record collectors were not interested in them either. There were so many collectors of New Orleans jazz that not only did the recordings became too expensive to collect, they also didn't want them -- they wanted to find something that required more energy to uncover, and more energy to actually appreciate. Anyone who has ever listened to Charley Patton knows that you have to learn how to listen to him, you have to really struggle -- it is a work of archeology, really, to make out what he is saying. It is powerful, and I don't want to deny its power, but you have to learn how to hear that power, and African Americans, when these records came out, didn't necessarily hear that.
From an interview with Marybeth Hamilton
, author of In Search of the Blues [more inside]
posted by y2karl
on May 26, 2012 -
Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is...
As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.
Likewise, it’s certainly possible someone playing at a higher difficulty setting is progressing more quickly than you are, because they had more points initially given to them by the computer and/or their highest stats are wealth, intelligence and constitution and/or simply because they play the game better than you do. It doesn’t change the fact you are still playing on the lowest difficulty setting.
MeFi's own John Scalzi
provides an excellent, relatable metaphor for explaining the realities of race and gender without invoking the dreaded word "privilege". [more inside]
posted by Jon_Evil
on May 15, 2012 -
The 158th Boat Race
between Oxford University Boat Club
& Cambridge University Boat Club
last Saturday was perhaps the most eventful in the event's 183 year history
. The race was stopped after a protestor, Trenton Oldfield, swam out out the course and was narrowly missed by Oxford's blades. After a 20 minute delay, the race was restarted. Thirty-five seconds in, the Oxford cox was warned for steering into Cambridge's line, and then initiated a blade-clash that broke one of Oxford's blades. Cambridge rowed on to win by four and a quarter lengths (Official race report
). After finishing the race, Oxford's bowman collapsed, and was taken to hospital; the traditional presentation ceremony was abandoned. The OUBC medical officer stated
: "The sudden and premature stopping of the Race when concentration and exertion were at their peak was bad enough, but when the Race had lost its equal footing for having lost an oar, the psychological response was to try even harder. Oxford drove themselves to the limit to try to contain the damage. Alex Woods rowing at Bow reached the finishing line and found he had expended all reserves of energy; in my view he had rendered himself hypoxic, and this was the cause of his collapse"
. He has returned home to recover. [more inside]
posted by James Scott-Brown
on Apr 9, 2012 -
"I can tell you that the days of of white, wealthy, upper-class [Smith] students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships."
Anne Spurzem, Smith College '84, reacts to news about the increase in diversity at her alma mater during President Carol Christ's tenure while Christ prepares to step down in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Spurzem's comments have caused an uproar among students and alumnae, leading to the creation of the Pearls and Cashmere Tumblr
, which celebrates the diversity feared by Spurzem. Meanwhile, President Christ has responded to Spurzem's allegations in an open letter to to the Smith community
posted by peripathetic
on Feb 24, 2012 -
talks about The Help
, Hattie McDaniel, why black women are still winning awards for playing maids, how black culture is appropriated and represented, and whether marginalized groups in America all serve the purpose of "cultural maids". [more inside]
posted by nakedmolerats
on Jan 30, 2012 -
In Do the Right Thing, the subject is not simply a race riot, but the tragic dynamic of racism, racial tension, and miscommunication, seen in microcosm. The film is a virtuoso act of creation, a movie at once realistic and symbolic, lighthearted and tragic, funny and savage... I have written here more about Lee’s ideas than about his style. To an unusual degree, you could not have one without the other: style is the magician’s left hand, distracting and entertaining us while the right hand produces the rabbit from the hat. It’s not what Lee does that makes his film so devastating, but how he does it. Do the Right Thing is one of the best-directed, best-made films of our time, a film in which the technical credits, the acting, and Lee’s brazenly fresh visual style all work together to make a statement about race in America that is all the more powerful because it blindsides us.
- Roger Ebert (SPOILER) [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 20, 2011 -
Donald Crowhurst (1932–1969) was a British businessman and amateur sailor who died while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Crowhurst had entered the race in hopes of winning a cash prize from The Sunday Times to aid his failing business. Instead, he encountered difficulty early in the voyage, and secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world. Evidence found after his disappearance indicates that this attempt ended in insanity and suicide. (previously: 1, 2)
posted by Trurl
on Nov 17, 2011 -
This week has seen a lot of discussion of the American criminal justice system and its failings, and a lot of concern about what can be done to fix it.
In 1947, a working class black man looked like he was about to have the full weight of the system brought down on him for taking justice into his own hands. But after Chicago leftists - including labor unions, religious leaders, artists, civil rights activists & others - launched a movement, James Hickman was set free
after an all-white jury, in a trial presided over by a white judge, failed to convict, and the DA chose not to re-try because of the magnitude of public support for Hickman.
According to a review
in The Nation, a new book
tells the story in a way that turns the typical right-wing biases of the true crime genre on their head. [more inside]
posted by univac
on Sep 22, 2011 -
Deeply Embarrassed White People Talk Awkwardly About Race. 'Once I realized I was racist, it was, well, what am I going to do about it?' says Winn, a mild-mannered white guy in his 30s. 'That shifts the defensiveness.' [...] 'The test of how racist you are is not how many people of color you can count as friends,' I recall someone telling me—I can't remember who now. 'It's how many white people you're willing to talk to about racism.'
posted by shakespeherian
on Sep 7, 2011 -
Ta-nehisi Coates sparks months of debate with his contention that The Civil War Isn't Tragic
. "The Civil War is our revolution. It ended slavery, and birthed both modern America, and modern black America.
That can never be tragic to me." [more inside]
posted by Danila
on Aug 25, 2011 -
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix.
Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.
On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
posted by Rumple
on Aug 25, 2011 -