Quickies: Caterpillars and Wasabi, Whitesplaining About Slavery, and Erotica on E-readers
- Just a Couple of Reminders What Life Was Like Before Vaccines – Polio insurance plans used to exist. Just consider that. Followup: a list of celebrities who don’t know anything about science.
- Why You Should Thank A Caterpillar For Your Mustard And Wasabi – “Turns out, the flavors of these condiments are the result of millions of years of plants and caterpillars duking it out to survive. In a paper published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists explore how exactly caterpillars drove plants to make chemicals that humans find tasty.” Thanks, caterpillars!
- I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. – “Still, I’d often meet visitors who had earnest but deep misunderstandings about the nature of American slavery. These folks were usually, but not always, a little older, and almost invariably white. I was often asked if the slaves there got paid, or (less often) whether they had signed up to work there. You could tell from the questions — and, not less importantly, from the body language — that the people asking were genuinely ignorant of this part of the country’s history.”
- The U.S. Now Has A ‘Girls Count’ Law. But Don’t Boys Count, Too? – In short, not having proper birth documentation disadvantages girls more than boys later in life, and by focusing on the girls, the boys will benefit too (whereas focusing only on boys might not have the same effect for girls).
- Change Doesn’t Usually Come This Fast – “So why has gay marriage been different? Some of it is generational; older voters have gradually been replaced in the electorate by younger ones who are more likely to support gay marriage. However, many people have also changed their minds.” Nate Silver on the support for same sex marriage.
- How 4 Gay Black Women Fought Back Against Sexual Harassment — And Landed In Jail – An interview with the New Jersey 4 and talk of their upcoming documentary.
- Gay vampires and bisexual cowboys: why erotica has e-readers to thank – “Fifteen years ago, Tina Engler started writing books about sex. She was rejected by every publisher she submitted to. They all echoed the same refrain: women don’t want to read about sex.”
That story about slavery is kind of interesting, since just a few minutes ago, I was treated to a whitesplanation about how the US treats Indians so well, and the last US atrocities against Indians were over 200 years ago.
Silver’s article’s conclusion echoes something I’ve been saying to myself for a few years, now: “If my goals are achieved, someday I will have been a horrible person.” It’s meant to remind me (as someone with a surfeit of privileges) that even as an ally, I’ve got a bunch of issues that aren’t on anyone’s radar as something that needs to be changed, yet–but which, once the current battles are all won, will become the new criteria by which our era will be judged and found wanting, just as we rightfully judge Jefferson’s slave-owning and the suffragettes who supported eugenics and opposed abortion.
I think it’s the failure to remember this that plays into the slow creep towards conservative positions as we age.
Is it a slow creep to conservative positions as we age or is it that what was liberal by the standards of past eras is conservative by our modern twenty first century standards? An old man who was a liberal in the fifties and sixties could still be a conservative today, even if non of political views changed as he got older.
I don’t think so. If you were a liberal in the fifties and sixties, and still hold the same views, you would be pro union and pro civil rights and would understand the importance of things like the voting rights act and affirmative action. A modern conservative would be against these things (possibly paying lip-service to civil rights, but definitely anti-union, anti-voting rights, anti-affirmative action.) Someone who had become conservative would have had to change their views on important issues.
It’s not just a matter of society passing them by.
Freemage, I agree with what you say, but it’s not a law of nature that we have to become more conservative as we age – not if we remain engaged and keep in touch e.g. by using the net and sites such as this one.
Rather, in my sixties, I am horrified and saddened (a) by memories of personal contact with people who have been oppressed, such as minorities, victims of rape and gay folks and (b) by the ground that has been lost to conservative thought over the last 50 years.and if anything am more convinced that radical positions are needed.
I spend time on tumblr and am heartened by the groundswell of support for Bernie Sanders among millennials.
Since this is the first presidential election where that group will outnumber gen-x and baby boomers it’s good to see them being engaged, and in a smart way too.
Just today I saw a post reminding people that in some states you must be registered with a party to vote in the primaries and that it is the first step in winning the white house.
Bernie might be a long shot but this far out from the 2000 elections it didn’t look good for Barrack Obama either, and that was before the dominance of social media which at the very least should make this interesting.
Well, Sanders has already had his Birthers, and they come from the ethnic studies community.
I vaguely remember ‘communist’ being a bad thing in my childhood. But Tetris was from Russia, and Jackie Chan was from China, so, even then, we were…more nuanced.
I’ve had nothing but negative experiences with Tumblr. Mostly they seem to treat activism like a competition.
Asking how much the slaves got paid, or whether or not they signed up to work there, shows not only a profound ignorance of what American slavery was like, but a profound ignorance of what slavery is in general.
Anyone else remember Cliven Bundy? “They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
We should show that article about life before vaccines to the anti vaccination crowd, just to show them what things were like in “the good old days” and what things might be like again if they had their way.
Or we could start counter-memes. Obviously, the anti-vaccine movement is a conspiracy by Big Iron Lung to increase demand when everyone refuses the polio vaccine.
Comedian Azie Mira Dungey, who portrayed a slave at Mount Vernon, did a series of webcasts about the questions she was asked. Although it’s humor based, the real horrors peak through if you’re paying attention.
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