Archive for March 2011
One of the foundational political questions is: What type of equality do we aspire to have? Namit Arora does a great job highlighting the major types and their problems.
(via The Browser)
In the guise of a movie review, Colin Marshall voices a complaint with which I can identify:
I don’t know about the rest of Gen Y, but seeing anybody do well at [and get paid well for] something I’d like to do well at floods me with fear that the door closed behind them.
I am also using this as an opportunity to encourage you to try out his Marketplace of Ideas podcast. The man and his interviewees are far more avant-garde than I am, but I still enjoy it weekly. I don’t know how achieving his 2011 goal of 10,000 subscribers will let him do his thing full-time, but I hope it does.
Stephen W. Smith offers a brilliant and devastating primer about recent Rwandan history for anyone who thinks the country’s problems ended with the 1994 genocide. The whole piece is great, but for the lazy, the crucial sentences:
We’ve learned the wrong lesson from the organised massacre of 800,000 people, which we failed to prevent. … the denial of freedom and rights under the previous regime in Rwanda impels us to shower Kagame with leadership awards and aid money even as he denies them again. We are hypnotised by the 1994 genocide, and oblivious to the atrocities of a regime we regard as exemplary. Aid, we say, must be conditional on good governance – but post-genocide government is an exception.
An interesting idea: one of the reasons that the Japanese nuclear disaster has been so bad is that early industry and regulatory adoption of inferior light-water reactors means that the worldwide nuclear industry is quite nearly forced to use a design that is less disaster-resistant than most other known options.
Also of note on the nuclear issue, Jeremy Bernstein’s point that radioactive iodine is a relatively good problem to have.
Spurred on by recommendations in this AskMeFi thread, I spent much of my afternoon grappling with one of the more known but unknown aspects of male privilege. “you’re a kittie!” captures what I mean pretty well (emphasis mine) in her answer to the question of what aspects of being a woman more men should understand:
Fear. Fear of violence (especially sexual violence) is a huge thing that I think many enlightened guys understand intellectually, but not at a visceral level. It’s something many women think about on a daily basis, and even just the need to be aware of the danger changes your life in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.
The title link here is the one response in an old MetaFilter thread that finally made me feel like I really understood how this whole fear thing works. It’s long for an internet comment, but I doubt any compassionate man can walk away from the entire thread, or simply this comment, the same.
At least for American Muslims, I think there’s a reasonable argument for calling “jihad” a curse word in the “nigger” sense. That’s one of the salient points made in this quite good (and rather long) profile of Yasir Qadhi, a rather popular conservative cleric.
I’m mostly linking this because I said “John McWhorter is awesome” — one of my favorite people from when I regularly listened to Bloggingheads — like three times while I was reading it. Many of his points felt self-evident to me, but this felt new:
Modern English does have true curse words, however: Currently the main one is the N-word. One indication of its true power is that it is considered more de rigueur to euphemize it in print than fuck, and this is because a genuine taboo does continue to reign in American discourse when it comes to race.
(via The Browser, which now has unique URLs for each item they link. I begged them for it about a year ago, and now it’s here. Probably unrelated to my plea, but still appreciated.)
Quite a story told by Robert Krulwich — most noted on the internet for his work on WNYC’s excellent Radiolab — about the death of a cosmonaut all but condemned to take a flight that was expected to fail. This isn’t one of the incidents overheard by those Italian brothers (LB) but the similarity did strike me and the event is mentioned in that story.
This Wired story about how a freelance crew righted a giant ship with over $14 million of cars inside it was linked everywhere when it was first published. (What I’m saying is that you may have seen this two years ago.) I didn’t read it then, but I just did and it’s fantastic.