Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pretty Much Perfect

Adam Serwer takes apart NYT columnist Ross Douthat's column on "The Roots of White Anxiety"
I think this quote sums it up quite perfectly:

"The "roots of white anxiety" aren't in fairly minimal black advancement; they're in the constantly reinforced notion that when minorities gain, they lose."

Word. The frustrating thing for me is that this is such a recurring problem. In the immigration debate, any policy option that doesn't involve deporting all of the illegals or putting them in jail is regarded as a concession that Whites are making to Mexicans, and presumably that concession involves Whites losing some sort of economic, cultural, or social advantage that they had before.

I really don't know how many times things like this can be said. Whatever advantages or opportunities White people think they are losing to Black or Mexican or Canadians or whomever doesn't matter! There is an economic elite in this country that continues to grow more and more powerful at the expense of the bottom 80%-90%. It's absurd to watch people fight over the comparatively minuscule gains made by large groups of Blacks and Latinos.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Prestige Factor

I think there's three big reasons that interest in Teach for America is so high: ease of entrance, salary, and prestige are probably the biggest. There are few jobs that will pay you $45,000 with just a bachelor's degree in anything but the hard sciences. I doubt that there is any overwhelming interest in education specifically, but there is always the idealistic urge to give back to the community.

I think prestige accounts for the interest in TFA over say, the various teaching fellows programs. I can say for myself the thing that attracted me were the first two reasons listed above.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Re: Video Size Below

Fuck you Blogspot.

Friday Night MeYousic

If nothing else, I should at least keep up this tradition.

Wealthy Waiters

Apparently the Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota thought doing away with the minimum wage for waiters would be a good bone to throw at the Tea Party crowd. It turns out there's thousands of waiters and other service industry workers in Minnesota (who knew?), and they're not really fans of the idea.

Now as far as the merits of the idea, it's true that any sort of minimum wage is going to reduce employment slightly. However, the approach that conservative politicians seem to be taking toward the economy at the moment basically seems to be to tell the poor to suck it up. They are proposing things like raising the retirement age for Social Security.

The real objective of all this deficit scaremongering and hand wringing is destroy the welfare state. There is absolutely no question about that. Where was all fear about the deficit during the Bush years? Nowhere to be found. Alan Greenspan actually warned during the Clinton years that running excessive budget surpluses could be bad for the economy. Presumably that was somehow related to cutting Medicare.

I really want to read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine.

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

The Ask tells the story of Milo, a failed painter working in the fundraising office of a university in Manhattan (cleverly called "Mediocre University" throughout). He has a son that he has difficulty relating to, a wife who is not attracted to him anymore, and job that he doesn't like and isn't good at. A fellow blogger who is reading the book right now said she found it kind of depressing, which I hadn't really thought about, but it's true. Milo is not a winner in this book under almost any circumstances mentioned above. In fact, one could argue that his life doesn't actually change all that much from the beginning of the book to the end. The Ask is like a more troubled version of Seinfeld, although it's just as funny.

And that's what saved the book for me. I didn't find it depressing because, despite all of his own fuckups and bad circumstances, Milo maintains his sarcastic and selfish persona throughout. He's not the only funny character, either. His big "ask" for Mediocre University is his rich friend from college, and he turns out to be just as manipulative and clever as Milo. The first few pages had me laughing so hard I had to share them with friends because I was impressed a book could make me laugh so quickly starting from scratch. The humor was also hyper-modern. An example would be when Milo goes on a short tirade about people who use terms like "interwebs and googletubes".

The hyper-modernity also shows itself in the plot. Milo and his wife struggle financially, Mediocre University is struggling financially, and the rich people who fund the University are struggling (relatively). I found this aspect of the plot brilliantly American and very close to reality. The disgruntled, over-educated creative stuck in one of a series of quotidian jobs with no opportunity for advancement. There is such authenticity in Milo's inner feeling of superiority over the world he continually fails in that I was led to believe in him myself.

I suppose the plot then, is about this conflict. Milo's (perhaps justified) inner feeling of being too clever for his job, his house, his neighborhood, and maybe even his wife, and his continual failure to even maintain what he has. But remember: it's funny.

This is absurd.

How many times to people have to get killed by tasers before people demand that we don't use them?

This woman was 87 years old and had a gun. Back in the good ole days, the cops would have to get creative and either force her to put down the gun, or accept the responsibility of putting a bullet into a crazy old woman. Now they have the easier option of killing her with electricity and calling it an accident.