The browser tabs are crushing and crashing yet again.
I think I'll start with a post I read a little while ago, and that keeps popping into my head. How to be polite. So little goes so far.
Which makes me think of this post by Anand Giridharadas, who tried to politely engage a respondent named James who thinks Giridharadas is a rebelliously-haired man/boy who should shut his cultural-Marxist mouth if he can't assimilate into James's idea of America. Then it turned out James's parents had been Christian missionaries in Japan, and Giridharadas couldn't help pointing out the irony:
When your parents went to Japan, did they assimilate into local religious traditions, or did they try to get people to celebrate the new they were bringing? Just wondering.James replied that his parents' case was different, of course, since they went to Japan for the express purpose of changing the Japanese view of things, while immigrants to the U.S. are not doing that. (Irony number two: Giridharadas was born in the U.S. and James was born in Japan.) Giridharadas replied,
Your missionary/immigrant distinction makes no sense, because it is designed for self-justification. By your logic, a missionary is a category of immigrant who is entitled to bend local culture to his or her tastes, and a plain old immigrant is any non-missionary person not entitled to do so. So basically a missionary is an immigrant who auto-exempts himself or herself from the duty (as you see it) to assimilate. This goes to show that the missionary position is not only boring but also sometimes wrong.Giridharadas followed that line of reasoning with this: "What culture did the early colonial settlers discover in America, and do you believe they were bound to assimilate into it? And did they?"
Then there was this triad of good energy news stories:
- The Holy Grail of energy policy is in sight as battery technology smashes the old order.
- Which pairs up well with this from Dave Roberts at Vox: The key to tackling climate change: electrify everything.
- Engineered bacterium turns carbon dioxide into methane fuel. From Scientific American.
Switching topics, I got a lot out of reading Reaganomics killed America's middle class, by Thom Hartmann on Salon. High taxes on wealth lead directly to greater equality and an expanded middle class, but this also happens, according to Hartmann:
When wealth is spread more equally among all parts of society, people start to expect more from society and start demanding more rights. That leads to social instability, which is feared and hated by conservatives, even though revolutionaries and liberals like Thomas Jefferson welcome it.The right-wing legacy of Lewis Powell and what it means for the Supreme Court today. From Truthdig. (This isn't the first time I've mentioned Justice Powell.) Powell is the architect of the modern business-funded think-tankocracy and had a hand in the Court's 1970s decisions that money equals speech, the necessary forerunners to make way for Citizens United.
Trump's blood libel against immigrants and the press's failure. By Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. The best summary I've seen of Trump's misrepresentation and exploitation of the immigrant crime "problem."
And here's a post I love by education writer Paul Thomas, because it combines biking/transportation and social justice: "Share the road" is about more than bicycles and cars:
It is a message to be heeded every moment: See the other in a way that is listening to the other, in a way that honors the dignity of every human being. Driving a car as if only your life matters reveals a great deal about the driver, but the consequences are often suffered by the innocent other.McMansions 101: What makes a McMansion bad architecture? Unbalanced massing, too many voids, no notion of rhythm or proportion... From the aptly named site, Worst of McMansions.
You may have already seen this, but I have to save it for posterity: the recent XKCD comic showing 22,000 years of global temperature change and history, and just how anomalous the past 100 years have been (I'm showing only the most recent years here, but please view the whole thing if you haven't already):
Here's another thing we've been lied to about since the beginning: what happened at Attica in 1971. That's according to a new scholarly book, Blood in the Water, based on suppressed New York State documents. "Several reviewers have noted that they had to stop reading at several points, to breathe and to wipe the tears from their eyes."
If, like me, you've managed to avoid knowing there is such as thing as Sandy Hook trutherism... I'm sorry to report New York magazine has posted a grim but gripping account of people who think it was all a fake so Obama can round up the guns. Yes, that includes thinking parents of the dead children in Connecticut never had those kids in the first place.
Should the emails of government employees be treated as if they were printed letters or as something less formal, like a phone call? Matt Yglesias at Vox argues for the latter.
We passed the 20th anniversary of the date when Bill Clinton "ended Welfare as we know it." There were a lot of good articles on the aftermath:
- Everything you wanted to know about the 1996 welfare reform law but were afraid to ask, from Talk Poverty. One key fact: TANF's state block grants are flat dollar amounts that have not increased since 1996. And because the block grants are loosely controlled, only 25 percent of the money even goes to poor families; 75 percent is used to fill other gaps in the states' budgets! (In contrast, 95 percent of SNAP/food stamp money goes to poor families.)
- The welfare reform disaster, from Jacobin.
- Black women were too lazy to find work and four other myths of welfare reform, from The Root. When the law passed, "the Clinton administration did not require the General Accounting Office to systematically track what happened to people once they got off welfare. This facilitated evaluating the legislation’s success by shrinking caseloads and employment rates among single mothers (not necessarily welfare leavers), which did not adequately capture what was happening to most poor families."
- Welfare reform is 20 years old and it's worse than you can imagine, from Mother Jones.
- A welfare reform syllabus from Melissa Harris Perry at her Anna Julia Cooper Center, Wake Forest University.
- Trump: tribune of poor white people, from American Conservative. An interview with the author of Hillbilly Elegy.
- White trash: the original underclass, from Pacific Standard. And another story with the same name from Politico, which includes a critique of Hillbilly Elegy.
- Coding "white trash" in academia, from Auntie Bellum.
- Trump voters: where they're coming from, where they're going, from the Weekly Sift by Doug Muder. Summarizing data from the huge Gallup poll that found some surprising info on Trump's supporters, and findings from Arlie Hochschild's book Strangers in Their Own Land. And including Muder's own thoughts on how anti-political correctness may actually be a reaction to perceived but mislabeled classism. Interesting stuff.
- How prisons overtook schools as the foremost American institutions. Yikes!
- Patients are supposed to recover in rehab hospitals but many who are sent to them suffer additional harm from the care itself, according to a new government study.
- Here's how to get the IRS ready for a tax war on poverty. Explaining why administering the Earned Income Tax Credit is a bad fit for the IRS and how it could be improved.
- Should you really call the cops? People who report crimes to the police are less likely to be victims of future crimes, but the effect is smaller for African Americans.