i love carl sagan a lot while frequently hating what he represents to people
i liked Demon-Haunted World so much and part of it was that when encountered with the idea of mediums his first reaction was not “haha suckers” but to revisit his parents and think about how much he missed them. i think that speaks to a maturity and empathy that make him almost totally unique among major figures in “skepticism”, where honestly having a functioning conscience is an impediment
Benjamin Chavis defines it as “racial discrimination in environmental policy-making and enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the presence of life threatening poisons and pollutants for communities of color, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the environmental movement.”
Some very basic examples that literally do not even come close to scratching the surface include:
- People of color make up the majority of those living in neighborhoods located within 1.8 miles of the nation’s hazardous waste facilities.
- Neighborhoods with facilities clustered close together have higher percentages of people of color than those with non-clustered facilities.
- African Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of causing the greatest health danger.
- Children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated.
- Living near toxic waste facilities and in low income housing affects almost every aspect of life including food, water, and air. Homes, schools, and workplaces are deemed unsafe because of environmental hazards in the buildings, which are dilapidated and outdated.
- These same children are nearly 9 times more likely than economically advantaged children to be exposed to lead levels so high they can cause severe learning disabilities and neurological disorders. 96 percent of African American children who live in inner cities have unsafe amounts of lead in their blood.
- Poverty-stricken Native American communities face some of the worst toxic pollution problems in the country.
- Three out of every five African American and Latinos live in areas near toxic waste sites, as well as live in areas where the levels of poverty are well above the national average.
- Climate change effects disproportionately impact people in the “global South,” whereas the causes of climate change are disproportionately brought about by the West.
this is the type of shit that is meant when we talk about “The System.”
hip hop is black. that matters, too.
every genre of electronic dance music that became a global phenomenon only became a global phenomenon once all traces of blackness were completely erased.
disco was black. house was black. techno was black. dubstep was black. they were genres that were intrinsically tied to a regional black (and sometimes queer) identity. and only megafans and scholars really think of any of those genres that way anymore.
that’s why “hip hop matters. hip hop is black. that matters too.” is so important.
Man, that has got to be one of the most satisfying conversations ever. Everyone should have the chance to say “you and Henry Kissinger, your buddy, go fuck yourselves” at least once in their life.
The present is our gift from the divine. Enjoy it! ♥♥♥ #soul #wisdom #inner #being #peace #love #blessings #namaste #loa #blog #harmony
I think there’s a little more to it, although it’s nice how a simple graphic dismisses the legitimate mental health issues of millions of people. Insensitivity FTW!
OH SHIT I WISH I’D KNOWN I DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE ALL THESE PILLS.
The implication that antidepressants are actually anti-unstuck-in-time pills is an interesting one though. They do talk a lot about “the black box” and not knowing how they really work after all. I’m sure that’s it.
Um, yeah, there’s a reason for that, it’s called THE LEGACY OF BRITISH COLONIALISM. The fact that the UK is disproportionately high achieving in a field that requires a long history of wealth and advanced education is true for a very specific reason.
This isn’t just a random small country that happens to have been very successful in this nifty area. It got there in large part because of its colonial legacy: by amassing wealth via imperialism and violence; and by enacting policies that specifically restricted and/or co-opted (read: stole) technological achievements from other countries.
One example: in the 16- and 1700s, India was the world leader in exporting printed calico, which was hugely popular in England and other parts of Europe. The British textile industry lacked the technology and scientific knowledge to make the same kind of fabricand was suffering economically because British people were buying Indian fabric instead. So the British government and companies systematically worked together to destroy the Indian textile industry. Through a combination of legislation and military force, they enacted very high import taxes on Indian fabric, outlawed printed calico, forced India to remove any import taxes on British goods (which helped British companies and hurt Indian ones), forced Indian producers to sell raw materials (with very low profit margins) to Britain, meaning British companies got the high profits from finishing them—and eventually, via direct observation of what was being done in India, learned the kind of chemistry (hi, science!) necessary to make printed calico themselves.
In doing so they destroyed not only the Indian textile industry but forced the entire nation to become an economy that exported cheap raw materials and imported expensive finished goods — a recipe for economic disaster and incidentally exactly the kind of system that exists globally through TODAY between poor and rich countries worldwide. In other words, Britain became wealthy and successful in this industry (which, again, was based on scientific knowhow) by taking that knowledge from another country through violence.
The effects of that kind of history are still extremely visible today in developing countries. For starters, there’s the fact that once a country becomes poor, it is very very likely to stay poor, because it lacks the resources to deal with its problems.
But more importantly in this case, once you disrupt what’s known as a knowledge economy — the shared and expanding knowledge and skills that drive industry and scientific research — it collapses. Knowledge is like a symbiotic organism; it needs living people to survive and if it’s not shared, it vanishes in a single generation. If your grandparents didn’t teach your parents to read, your parents are never going to be able to teach you. (Enter: all the scifi books about dystopias!)
(There’s also the fact that a lot of Britain’s academic and scientific success developed within a university system that was historically accessible only to people of one specific gender, race, class and religion.)
I’m talking about Britain here because that’s what the post is about (and because it’s a particularly egregious example — I was so shocked to realize this GIFset was for real). But the same is true throughout the history of the relationship between developed countries and developing ones (or indigenous populations) and the past 500 years of globalization. In this case, the 21st century British scientific establishment has benefited from advantages that research industries in other countries don’t have.
The point is: It’s great that the UK is so successful scientifically. It’s wonderful and they should keep investing in science and education and research. But don’t set yourself up against “the world’s population” and then pat yourself on the back for standing out. Historical privilege is not something to applaud yourself for. History matters. Economics matters. Check your privilege.
This is why the rich want philanthropy to replace government. Philanthropy is democratically unaccountable and can be used to take hostages and buy silence. The Revolution will not be funded. For that matter, not even tepid criticism and mild progressive reforms at the systemic level will be funded.
I’ve seen how this works at the local level, with local notables controlling the people in the nonprofit world who would otherwise be their political opposition. With the constant threat of defunding hanging over their head, people who want to do good have to choose between their own livelihoods plus the immediate needs of those they serve and pursuing real and lasting political solutions to the problems they work to solve. When they cross the line between hacking at the branches and digging into the roots of problems, they risk severe punishment, as the example of ACORN clearly shows, and was doubtless designed to show.
This is a big and largely unspoken factor in the failure of the left to really get any momentum or offer a coherent critique of what capitalism has become over the past few decades in this country. Many of our best potential leaders and organizers are trapped in this dynamic. I don’t really see an easy way out of it. I thought using the web to aggregate small donations might be feasible as an alternative model, but as bad as the economy and inequality have gotten, I’m not sure if that’s really able to fund things on the level required. It’s a nasty problem, and only getting worse.
This “power of local notables” idea should get a lot more attention. It’s truly a toxic thing. Lots of small-to-medium towns are the virtual fiefdoms of a few powerful, patriarchal white families who are generally mixed up in both business and local government. In its more benign form this results in rural poverty and stasis, because the notables would rather rule over a backwards, failing town than be a citizen of a growing, changing place.
However, when directly threatened, this power can get very, very real, and nakedly brutal. See Steubenville, and this perhaps even more horrifying story from Maryville, MO. This kind of thing has gone on from time immemorial in small towns all over the country. We hear about it quite a bit more now thanks to media and technology, but the fundamental dynamics haven’t changed all that much, regardless of political and economic growth and change on the national level. And now it’s filtering back up to threaten even those hard-fought and tenuous gains.
Through this reliance on Netflix, I’ve seen a new television pantheon begin to take form: there’s what’s streaming on Netflix, and then there’s everything else.
When I ask a student what they’re watching, the answers are varied: Friday Night Lights, Scandal, It’s Always Sunny, The League, Breaking Bad, Luther, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Arrested Development, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Weeds, Freaks & Geeks, The L Word, Twin Peaks, Archer, Louie, Portlandia. What all these shows have in common, however, is that they’re all available, in full, on Netflix.
Things that they haven’t watched? The Wire. Deadwood. Veronica Mars, Rome, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos.Even Sex in the City.
It’s not that they don’t want to watch these shows — it’s that with so much out there, including so much so-called “quality” programs, such as Twin Peaks and Freaks & Geeks, to catch up on, why watch something that’s not on Netflix? Why work that hard when there’s something this easy — and arguably just as good or important — right in front of you?
This is arguably happening with Spotify too.
This is a big part of why I still spend a lot of labor and some money on curating my own music and video catalogs and am reluctant to just give over my media consumption to subscription services. When Spotify first came out I did the matching thing, and it didn’t have about a quarter of my existing library, including a lot of my favorite more obscure and out of print stuff. I wasn’t comfortable losing access to that 1/4 and, extrapolating forward, the future 1/4 of my musical world. Netflix is of course even more spotty, and with the additional problem of constantly losing access to things due to shifting rights agreements.
I still use the streaming services, but mainly for discovery or quick/casual access on the go or in social settings. Once I really like something and know I want permanent access to it, I buy it (or pirate it if I can’t buy it for a reasonable price and in a DRM-free open format) and archive it. I still can’t quite get over the ideas of personal collections, ownership and boundedness between “my stuff” and the giant cloud of stuff that’s out there. I don’t know if that means I’m a fogey at this point, or just being cautious about where things are going w/r/t digital media, impermanence, and IP issues, but that’s where I am, and I can’t see what would change it in the near/medium term.