John Hope Franklin on apologies and discrimination

Here’s a rather cool interview with John Hope Franklin offering his take on the North Carolina General Assembly’s apology for slavery.

Continue reading


What Massachusetts Means

Caveat: Given that American politics sets my teeth on edge I should attempt to stay away from the topic in deference to my blood pressure, but if we’re going to talk about the uses and abuses of language and the making of meaning it seems inevitable we wade into the political muck.

Continue reading

Survivor-Gabon (what Eden looks like according to network television)

Having spent a couple years in Gabon with Peace Corps I was curious to see how the country would be depicted when featured as the destination for the 2008 version of Survivor. I realize this is old but it fascinated me how it demonstrated what image the producers wished to reflect back at their viewers.

Here’s the ad plugging the show.

When I broke it down, I came up with the following.

Continue reading

If corporations are people does that make me a corporation?

By a 5-4 margin and sparked by the quasi-film/political ad “Hillary: the Movie,” the Supreme Court has issued a broad ruling overturning all restrictions on campaign donations by corporations and unions. That’s thirty-plus years of legal precedent out the window. Pitt’s School of Law provides a cooler tone in their assessment. And here’s the New York Times article Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit. Their editorial says the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century.” Fun.

To my reading it means no limits of any kind except for disclosure. Exxon, for example, used to be limited in how much they could donate to political campaigns and they were restricted from using general company funds for political advocacy (meaning they had to raise it internally from employees). They now have no restrictions and can spend as much as they want to and however they wish. (I’m imagining some stock holders might not be thrilled about this depending on how much money they end up spending.)

I’m not a lawyer and need to learn more about this, but at the core of the decision is the claim that a corporation has the same rights to free speech as a person. How did that come to pass?

Continue reading

Reading wolf scat and other literacies you won’t see on the ACT

I just received a link to Alaska’s Great Wide Open by Pico Iyer (thanks, Mom) via Smithsonian Magazine. In reference to Christopher McCandless and Timothy Treadwell:

“A lot of people up here have no patience for these guys,” a naturalist at Denali had told me when I asked her about the two men. “Because there are people here who have stayed in that bus, and they had no problems. But you’ve got to have respect for the land, to learn it. The one thing you learn here is preparedness.”

That’s why people in Alaska study how to read wolf scat and the habits of bears. “Right here she knows you’re not going to come any closer, and she’s fine,” a guide at Redoubt Bay had explained about a nearby mother bear with her cubs. “But go somewhere she doesn’t expect you, and Bailey will most likely kill you.”

Iyer relates what Krakauer did in Into the Wild, that McCandless died from either eating the wrong plant (almost indiscernible from one that would have been good for him) or from eating the right one, but a moldy one that poisoned him. It’s the kind of anecdote that makes me less prone to accepting the “gotta respect the land” ethos; we all feel confident right up until the point where we eat the wrong plant.

Continue reading

On being a slow reader

I’m not a particularly fast reader — okay, truth is I’m rather slow — and the more interested I’ve become in writing the more I’ve slowed down. Even though I know it’s not true a part of me wishes I could rip through 2-300 pages in a day or two. I know how to do it, how to hunt for content and move on, but the scavenger hunt approach to reading isn’t very fun and my guess is it’s related to why many people learn to dislike reading.

Continue reading