February 25, 2015

Research Shows White Privilege Is Real

THE recent reunion show for the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” re-aired a portion of Eddie Murphy’s 1984 classic “White Like Me” skit, in which he disguised himself to appear Caucasian and quickly learned that “when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free.”

The joke still has relevance.

Source: NYTimes.

February 6, 2015

Why Mindy Kaling Refuses to Talk about Race—and Why I Care So Much

I’m also a feminist who cares about racial justice, so it’s impossible to ignore her often defensive, flippant responses to questions about race, or her flat-out refusal to discuss how her identity impacts her character and her own career. Kaling is hardly the first South Asian in the public eye who avoids talking about race in an attempt to be “just like the rest.” Conservatives like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley (who, like Kaling, tweaked their names to sound more American) have worked very hard at constructing an identity that is explicitly not Indian.

Source: Talking Points Memo.

January 31, 2015

The Upper Middle Class is ruining America.

From the get-go, the 529 plan, like the capital gains tax-hike plan, was totally politically unrealistic, as Republicans in Congress were never going to sign on. But within days of the State of the Union, the Obama administration was forced to reverse course and abandon its plan to make 529 plans less generous. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, and House Budget Committee ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen, who represents the wealthy Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., were the key drivers of the decision, according to a report by Rachael Bade and Allie Grasgreen in Politico. My guess is that both Pelosi and Van Hollen saw firsthand the fury of upper-middle-income voters who sensed that Obama, normally a paragon of upper-middle-class virtues, was daring to mess with one of their precious tax breaks.

Source: Slate.

January 28, 2015

Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise,’ 20 Years Later

The three films, when watched in swift succession, are a magical experience similar to Boyhood, partly because of the thrill of watching Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy age. But that doesn’t detract from Before Sunrise’s singular appeal: It remains my favorite film of the trilogy despite being, in many ways, the sunniest and silliest. Sunrise charts the chance meeting of Jesse (Hawke) and a Celine (Delpy) on a train to Vienna. The pair strike up a conversation and impulsively decide to go off together, wander the city for a night, and discuss their feelings on the world and their place in it.

Source: The Atlantic.

January 23, 2015

How to Temper a Tantrum

There’s a time during childhood when something as innocuous as an impending bedtime can cause uncontrollable tears, screaming and thrashing. The question for parents and caregivers is: What’s the best way to deal with a tantrum?

Source: KUT.

January 22, 2015

How PAPER Magazine’s web engineers scaled Kim Kardashian’s back-end (SFW)

There was one part of the Internet that PAPER didn’t want to break: The part that was serving up millions of copies of Kardashian’s nudes over the web.

Hosting that butt is an impressive feat. You can’t just put Kim Kardashian nudes on the Internet and walk away —that would be like putting up a tent in the middle of a hurricane. Your web server would melt. You need to plan.

Source: The Message — Medium.

January 4, 2015

Home Organization Advice from Marie Kondo

Let me explain. Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Source: NYTimes.com.

November 26, 2014

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid

The fact is that when the president came to the podium on Monday night there actually was very little he could say. His mildest admonitions of racism had only earned him trouble. If the American public cannot stomach the idea that arresting a Harvard professor for breaking into his own home is “stupid,” then there is virtually nothing worthwhile that Barack Obama can say about Michael Brown.

Source: The Atlantic.

November 23, 2014

The Secret Life of Passwords

SEVERAL YEARS AGO I began asking my friends and family to tell me their passwords. I had come to believe that these tiny personalized codes get a bum rap. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.

Source: NYTimes.com.

November 13, 2014

‘Serial’ and White Reporter Privilege

If Serial were a newspaper story or even a traditional magazine feature, the identities of all three could exist alone as facts; the reader could decide how much weight to place upon them. But Serial is an experiment in two old forms: the weekly radio crime show, and the confessional true-crime narrative, wherein the journalist plays the role of the protagonist. The pretense of objectivity is stripped away: Koenig emerges as the subject as the show’s drama revolves not so much around the crime, but rather, her obsessions with it. Syed and Lee’s lives, then, are presented through Koenig’s translations of two distinct cultures.

Source: The Awl.

October 23, 2014

How American parenting is killing the American marriage

In the 21st century, most Americans marry for love. We choose partners who we hope will be our soulmates for life. When children come along, we believe that we can press pause on the soulmate narrative, because parenthood has become our new priority and religion. We raise our children as best we can, and we know that we have succeeded if they leave us, going out into the world to find partners and have children of their own. Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose.

Source: Quartz.

October 20, 2014

How One Boy With Autism Became B.F.F.’s With Apple’s Siri

Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”

Source: NYTimes.com.

October 19, 2014

The Gentleman Who Made Scholar

the nature of academic papers presented some opportunities for more powerful ranking, particularly making use of the citations typically included in academic papers. Those same scholarly citations had been the original inspiration for PageRank, the technique that had originally made Google search more powerful than its competitors. Scholar was able to use them to effectively rank articles on a given query, as well as to identify relationships between papers.

After a number of tests and tweaks, the team showed the prototype to Larry Page. The co-founder’s reaction: “Why is this not live yet?” On November 18, 2004, Scholar was indeed live.

Source: Backchannel — Medium.

September 13, 2014

The case for open borders

“What would you think about a law that said that blacks couldn’t get a job without the government’s permission, or women couldn’t get a job without the government’s permission, or gays or Christians or anyone else?” George Mason economist Bryan Caplan asks. It’s a pretty easy question. Obviously, such a law is discriminatory on its face, serves no rational purpose, and is unacceptable in a liberal democracy. But Caplan continues: “So why, exactly, is it that people who are born on the wrong side of the border have to get government permission just to get a job?”

Source: Vox.

September 1, 2014

Why social media won’t transform our politics

But how committed are these new activists, and how effective can they be if all they do is sign an online petition while sitting at their desks? Don’t social media exacerbate the fundamental problem of mobilization, which is free-riding, thereby undermining the long-term impact of social activism on the deep structures of power, inequality and violence?

Source: openDemocracy.