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the making of bobby jindal June 23, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, comedy, politics, race, religion.
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details magazine:

When Bobby Jindal was 12, a Southern Baptist friend named Kent gave him a paperback Bible for Christmas. Jindal was disappointed, not least because the Bible was engraved with his name and thus unreturnable. “I was raised in a strong Hindu culture, attended weekly pujas, or ceremonial rites, and read the Vedic scriptures,” Jindal wrote in a 1993 article in America, a Jesuit magazine, one of many religious essays he published in the early nineties. “I considered myself anti-Christian,” he wrote in another piece; elsewhere, he confided that he thought Christians worshipped fish (“in the same way that many Westerners think Hindus worship cows”). The Bible went into a closet, and might have remained there had Jindal not sneaked away with a girl from a high-school dance at a Baton Rouge hotel.

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“and he aren’t” June 23, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, comedy, foreign policy, iraq war, politics, psychology, race, religion.
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“full metal mccain” – matt taibi at rolling stone… hilarious article:

Even the briefest of surveys of the supporters gracing McCain’s events underscores the kind of red-meat appeal he’s making. Immediately after his speech in New Orleans, a pair of sweet-looking old ladies put down their McCain signs long enough to fill me in on why they’re here. “I tell you,” says one, “if Michelle Obama really doesn’t like it here in America, I’d be very pleased to raise the money to send her back to Africa.”

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bill cosby on black coservatism April 14, 2008

Posted by AP in arts/culture, race, speeches, talks.
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from the atlantic monthly, bill cosby preaches a message of anger, rage, and determination. powerful stuff:

From Birmingham to Cleveland and Baltimore, at churches and colleges, Cosby has been telling thousands of black Americans that racism in America is omnipresent but that it can’t be an excuse to stop striving. As Cosby sees it, the antidote to racism is not rallies, protests, or pleas, but strong families and communities. Instead of focusing on some abstract notion of equality, he argues, blacks need to cleanse their culture, embrace personal responsibility, and reclaim the traditions that fortified them in the past. Driving Cosby’s tough talk about values and responsibility is a vision starkly different from Martin Luther King’s gauzy, all-inclusive dream: it’s an America of competing powers, and a black America that is no longer content to be the weakest of the lot.

It’s heady stuff, especially coming from the man white America remembers as a sitcom star and affable pitchman for E. F. Hutton, Kodak, and Jell-O Pudding Pops. And Cosby’s race-based crusade is particularly jarring now. Across the country, as black politics has become more professionalized, the rhetoric of race is giving way to the rhetoric of standards and results. Newark’s young Ivy League–educated mayor, Cory Booker, ran for office promising competence and crime reduction, as did Washington’s mayor, Adrian Fenty. Indeed, we are now enjoying a moment of national self-congratulation over racial progress, with a black man running for president as the very realization of King’s dream. Barack Obama defied efforts by the Clinton campaign to pigeonhole him as a “black” candidate, casting himself instead as the symbol of a society that has moved beyond lazy categories of race.

link roundup March 19, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, books, econ, environment, news, politics, race, religion, science, sex, tech.
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1) the human side of ralph nader (make sure you change the bookmark to chapter 1)

2) hillary’s “experience”

3) fred krupp, president of the environmental defense fund, talks about “his new book and his thoughts on harnessing the great forces of capitalism to save the world from catastrophe.” – direct real audio link & airtalk archive link (scroll to 3/14)

4) andrew sullivan ponders prostitution – 1 & 2

5) ezra klein on wright vs. falwell

6) TED talks (richard dawkins, larry brilliant, bill clinton, the google guys, and more)

scandals of higher education February 22, 2008

Posted by KG in books, race, reviews.
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new york review of books:

Michaels is fed up with the mantra of diversity, and it is hard to blame him. In the past, one obstacle that kept minority students out of college was patent racism—the asserted association between external physical characteristics (skin color, facial features, body type) and inherent mental capacities or tendencies.[12] Today, however, this kind of pseudoscience has been discredited, and the word “race” tends to be employed as a synonym for culture—an equivalence based on the dubious, or at least imperfect, premise that a person’s ancestry tells us something important about how that person experiences the world. The problem with “this way of thinking about culture instead of race,” Michaels says, “is that it just takes the old practice of racial stereotyping and renovates it in the form of cultural stereotyping.”[13] People of African ancestry are expected to prefer blues to Brahms. People of Asian ancestry are lumped together in the category “Asian-American” even though they might identify themselves primarily as Laotians or Christians. In any event, they are supposed to prefer engineering to poetry.

Michaels argues that nothing much has changed by substituting the idea of particular cultures for the discredited idea of race. For pragmatic as well as analytical reasons, he wants the left to forget about this kind of diversity, whether we call it racial or cultural (“diversity, like gout, is a rich people’s problem”), and focus instead on poverty. A satirical verse (quoted in another recent book by another English professor, Michael Berubé of Pennsylvania State University) nicely captures Michaels’s point. It might be called the Song of the Abject Affluent, and a lot of people at elite colleges are singing it:

I’m sorry for what my people did to your people
It was a nasty job
Please note the change of attitude
On the bumper of my Saab.

obama’s mlk day speech January 21, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, news, politics, race, religion, speeches.
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the good stuff starts around 17min:

the perils of identity politics January 18, 2008

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pantone.jpg

christopher hitchens in the wsj:

People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of “race” or “gender” alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.

Far from taking us forward, this sort of discussion actually keeps us anchored in the past. The enormous advances in genome studies have effectively discredited the whole idea of “race” as a means of categorizing humans. And however ethnicity may be defined or subdivided, it is utterly unscientific and retrograde to confuse it with color. The number of subjective definitions of “racist” is almost infinite but the only objective definition of the word is “one who believes that there are human races.”

For years, I declined to fill in the form for my Senate press credential that asked me to state my “race,” unless I was permitted to put “human.” The form had to be completed under penalty of perjury, so I could not in conscience put “white,” which is not even a color let alone a “race,” and I sternly declined to put “Caucasian,” which is an exploded term from a discredited ethnology. Surely the essential and unarguable core of King’s campaign was the insistence that pigmentation was a false measure: a false measure of mankind (yes, mankind) and an inheritance from a time of great ignorance and stupidity and cruelty, when one drop of blood could make you “black.”

Not to dampen any parade, but if one asks if there is a single thing about Mr. Obama’s Senate record, or state legislature record, or current program, that could possibly justify his claim to the presidency one gets . . . what? Not much. Similarly lightweight unqualified “white” candidates have overcome this objection, to be sure, but what kind of standard is that?

kanye west: spin entertainer of the year December 22, 2007

Posted by KG in arts/culture, comedy, hip-hop, interviews, music, race.
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regardless of whether he’s the entertainer of the year, he is certainly one of the most entertaining interviewees ever…

the difference between him and someone like michael jackson or prince in their prime is that we didn’t see them actively trying to be the coolest person on the planet – their cool was effortless while his is manufactured. and with the internet and blogs etc etc, we see his desperate attempts to have everyone like him, which cheapens his appeal. i predict 20 years from now he will be respected as one of the great pop artists of our generation, but not liked. keep making good music and stop telling us you’re the best thing since sliced bread and then maybe we’ll believe you. until then you remain an insecure musical genius.

spin:

You made a conscious effort to shape Graduation for the next level of mainstream success? A conscious effort to take it to the next level in every form of success. More black people bought this album than any I’ve made.

Does that make sense to you? Uh-huh. Because I made the album blacker.

You think Graduation is blacker than The College Dropout? Way blacker. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” — how hood is that record? “Good Life” is straight Steve Harvey, all day long. “Flashing Lights”? I never had a record that was that black. But it’s white at the same time. Certain things are so good it doesn’t have to be white or black. That’s what Graduation is. Take “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” It’s a white sample, but everything I do to it is to make it as black as possible. So I’ma make the bass as black as possible; I’ma make the lyrics as intense as possible.

Are these choices strictly artistic, or are you thinking as a marketer, too? Can you separate those roles? I can’t. I’m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold’s for fried chicken. It’s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There’s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I’ma go get that. Like, on Christmas I don’t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don’t want my credit to look black. [Laughs]

And what foods would fall into that category? White-people food? You know what it is. You never ate fried chicken and said, “This tastes white.” It’s America. People know the stereotypes. I play to the stereotypes. I believe in the stereotypes. And I submit to them. [Affects a black, Southern accent] “Man, black people sure can cook some chicken! And I’ma get some black chicken.”

You were only seven when Thriller peaked. Was Michael Jackson on your radar when — [Stares incredulously] Was Michael Jackson on my radar?! I’m black. Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, and Mike Tyson. Michael Jackson is my favorite artist of all time. Every time I hit the stage, every time I write a song, every time I write a rap, every performance I do, every time I pick out an outfit, I think about Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson is synonymous with the greatest that you could possibly do in music.

You’ve been through a lot this year. Do you have a sense of how you’ve changed as a person? Every year I learn more. Times are still scary, but I got to sit down with Daft Punk and Madonna, and with a lot of incredible individuals, and learn from them. I’m gonna keep making music so that ten, 20 years from now, I’ll be able to be where Mick is. Where Bono is.

Who do you think your Album of the Year competition is? That’s what I’m saying: There is no competition! [Laughs]

And what will you do if, God forbid, you don’t get nominated in the major categories? [Long pause, then a look of total vulnerability] Man! Do you think I should be worrying? I mean, really, do you think that’s even possible?

m.i.a. – paper planes December 17, 2007

Posted by KG in arts/culture, hip-hop, international, music, news, politics, race, style.
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and the censorship fiasco 

malcolm gladwell on iq December 16, 2007

Posted by KG in books, race, reviews, science.
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gladwell reviews james flynn’s new book in the new yorker and opines on the recent i.q. debate at his blog…

“what i.q. doesn’t tell you about race”:

One argument that Saletan never soaked his head in, however, was Flynn’s, because what Flynn discovered in his mailbox upsets the certainties upon which I.Q. fundamentalism rests. If whatever the thing is that I.Q. tests measure can jump so much in a generation, it can’t be all that immutable and it doesn’t look all that innate.

The very fact that average I.Q.s shift over time ought to create a “crisis of confidence,” Flynn writes in “What Is Intelligence?” (Cambridge; $22), his latest attempt to puzzle through the implications of his discovery. “How could such huge gains be intelligence gains? Either the children of today were far brighter than their parents or, at least in some circumstances, I.Q. tests were not good measures of intelligence.”

“race and iq, con’t.”:

So who’s right? Turkkeimer would say, both sides are.

He used a very large data set–the National Collaborative Perinatal Project–and found that the relationship between socio-economic status and IQ was non-linear. Children moving from poverty to the middle class see their IQ’s jump: IQ at that end of the socio-economic scale is highly sensitive to environmental improvements. But the kinds of twins studies usually relied upon by IQ  fundamentalists and that yield such high genetic effects, are much more likely to involve comparisons among middle and upper middle class environments–and that end of the scale, Turkheimer’s data suggests, environment doesn’t play a big role.

In other words, the lawyer who plays Mozart in the crib for his daughter, in order to raise her IQ, is wasting his time.  But dramatically increasing the educational resources available to inner city kids makes a  lot of sense.