When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime. People have pointed out that the writer is speaking from a position of relative privilege (and presumably therefore safety), and I can see their point. But I also remember my childhood, when a great deal of what my friends and I did was out of our parents’ sight, roaming around the neighbourhood, exploring down by a river and out along backroads (we lived in a bedroom suburb surrounded by farms). Knowing what that freedom was like, I think kids have lost a lot.
A tweet from Tressie McMillan Cottom sent me to an interesting article called Death to the “Public Intellectual”, but one of that story’s links led to the essay I found really interesting: Outside Charlie Hebdo. This essay, written at the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, takes that event as the starting point for a discussion of problems with satire. Caroline Small writes: “In what way does [satire] serve a positive end or increase our overall intelligence? Doesn’t satire need to be effective at challenging and destabilizing stupid beliefs if it is intended to have political power? If it only reaches people who don’t hold the belief, isn’t it just mockery? Mockery just ends up creating a group identity among the people who collectively believe the stupid thing is stupid. I think that may be why people react so negatively to this kind of imagery – even if it doesn’t actually qualify as racist (and I will refrain from an opinion on that in this particular context that is not my context), it does alienate and separate, working against solidarity rather than increasing it.” This articulates my discomfort with satire well: I find it funny occasionally, but if I’m honest with myself I find it most funny exactly when it allows me to feel superior to stupid people.
More from Tressie McMillan Cottom: The University and the Company Man. “Some colleges are doubling down on serving the most elite, most well-prepared students. Those students, through a combination of ability and fortune, will end up in high-skilled good jobs. But there aren’t enough of those spots to go around.”
Intersectionality Undone: Saving Intersectionality from Feminist Intersectionality Studies. “This article identifies a set of power relations within contemporary feminist aca-demic debates on intersectionality that work to ‘depoliticizing intersectionality,’ neutralizing the critical potential of intersectionality for social justice-oriented change.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Stop Blaming Women for Holding Themselves Back at Work. “But, as many women already suspected, it turns out that educated, ambitious women are not failing to achieve the corner office because they’re insufficiently tough, savvy, or competitive at work. It’s also not because they are diverted during their 30s and 40s by the demands of breast-feeding and test prep and the like. They are not ‘ratcheting back’ or ‘opting out’ or failing to ‘lean in.’ And now there’s a study to prove it.” (via @scalzi)
Jessie Daniels: The Trouble with ‘Leaning In’ to (White) Corporate Feminism. “As long as ‘race’ is a taboo subject for liberal feminists, then liberal feminism will continue to be consistent with white supremacy.”
A follow-up to a link I posted last week: Mourning Justine Sacco Is Missing the Point. “The basic mistake of writers like Ronson is seeing the racialized contempt for Sacco as separate from the racialized contempt for people of color. They see a new problem where in fact they are merely seeing an atypical iteration of a very old and very common problem.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Art + Design
The Economist: Inside the box. “What workers need from their offices has long been clear. A flexible workspace that encourages movement, combined with mobile technology, could finally liberate them from the cubicle farm—but only if employers pay heed to the evidence, rather than the short-term savings. Even cubicles were Utopian before the accountants took over.”
Wow. Medical tech research is really going in amazing directions these days. Zoom Contact Lens Magnifies Objects at the Wink of an Eye (via @mcahogarth)
Oh my! A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. “These are the original public domain volumes of the dictionary that was eventually published as the Oxford English Dictionary.”
Quote of the week
It was the verb that did it: today we want to strip fat people of their benefits. How long will it be before some minister of public health suggests we strip them naked and run them through town?
Just for fun
I think it would be an awful lot of fun to play in an orchestra directed by Bobby McFerrin. (And that reminded me of this, and that led to this….)
And on the New Music from Old Stars front, as started last week, have you seen this? Not the Hozier “Take Me to Church”—the other one. Also, about the album. (Love the understatement: “I don’t necessarily fit into the moulds that it seems females are supposed to fit into. I’m kind of irregular.”)
I wish I could have taken this course: David Carr’s syllabus for “Press Play.” I wish my syllabuses were half as clearly and economically written.