Monthly Archives: September 2009

Keeping the ‘Underachievers’ Out. [Updated.]

G.W. Carver High School for Engineering and Science

G.W. Carver High School for Engineering and Science, in Philadelphia.

E&S is a small, academically selective school in North Philly with a largely black student body, and is one of the school district’s premier magnet programs, along with Central, The Philadelphia High School for Girls and Masterman. When I graduated from E&S, it boasted the highest college acceptance rate in the city — somewhere in the high 90’s.

Yesterday I got a message on Facebook from a fellow graduate, who was forwarding a note from a concerned alumnus about a new plan at our alma mater to admit about 60 marginal students. This concerned alumnus thinks the move will usher in the school’s demise. More…


This is spooky.

Digging the Nate Silver shout-out at the end.

By the Billion.

Like cool visualizations? Like information? (Of course you do, you’re here, aren’t you?) Want to wile away a few hours? A co-worker sent me a link to this chart he saw on The Big Picture. It’s spending in billions (adjusted for today’s dollars) on random stuff color-coded by “spending, earning, giving, fighting, losing, and illin’.” (Click for a larger size.)


This image originally came from Information is Beautiful, a blog of information organized into really pretty charts and visualizations. Go forth and be aesthetically informed!

Random Midday Hotness: ‘Untitled’ in 8 Minutes.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a phenomenal artist (she created the spiffy new PB banner) and one of my dearest friends, recorded the creation of one of her pieces, from start to finish.

Cultural Purgatory, Part 2.

note: this aint my campus. just... fyi.

note: this ain't my campus. just... fyi.

I’ve been an adjunct professor in the Midwest for three years now. By virtue of location and profession alone, I have enough material to write twenty parts to this Cultural Purgatory series.

But let’s take it one culturally dissonant experience at a time. I teach at two schools: one is a large, practically isolated, suburban four-year state university; the other is an urban, two-year community college with open enrollment. As you can imagine, one has three times as many minorities as the other. And as you might surmise, I feel far more at ease in one environment than the other.

On average, I have 3.5 Black students per semester at the four-year, usually spread over a two- or three-class population. I shouldn’t, but I always find myself expecting to bond with my one or two Black students. It isn’t always a conscious expectation. In fact, I usually don’t know that I felt it until I realize it hasn’t happened, a month or more into a term, and a strange wave of disappointment capsizes me.


Uh, It Didn’t Exist Because it’s a Stereotype.

Over at The Root, Rebecca Walker interviews Erica Kennedy, the author of the new book Feminista. Walker asks Kennedy to explain what a “feminista” is, to which Kennedy responds:

I never felt comfortable calling myself a feminist because that word has so many negative connotations. The stereotype of the hairy, man-hating woman is just that—a stereotype, a caricature that no longer exists. And there’s a reason that woman no longer exists. Because we’ve proven ourselves. We know we can play with the big boys. We don’t need to beat the drum anymore.

A “caricature that no longer exists”?  Caricatures by definition do not exist, but are exaggerations of things that perhaps do. The myth of the man-hating feminist was (and is) such a widely held belief due to the deliberate distortions of opponents of the movement (example: bra-burning, that universal shorthand for those supposedly rabid, misandrist female hordes in the 1960’s, never actually happened) in their attempts to marginalize it, essentially Jesse Jacksoning feminism and placing its baseline somewhere in the ideological vicinity of Andrea Dworkin. They were apparently very successful, as seemingly every conversation about feminism in the mainstream media involves someone distancing themselves from those crazy, hirsute radicals.

Maybe she’d be more inclined to embrace “feminism” if she wasn’t  further encumbering it with all those “negative connotations” in the first place.

Your Monday* Random-Ass Roundup: Enough.

I don’t know what, if anything, can be learned from the fatal beating of 16-year-old Chicago honor student Derrion Albert. I don’t know if there are enough words to appropriately convey the tragedy. And I don’t know if watching the gruesome video footage will help much.

But I do know that this is no referendum on “the black community.” Derrion’s death is no more a reflection on me, my kin, my friends or my neighbors than, say, Thomas Junta was for hockey dads:

Chicago Beating Death Vigil

But most importantly, RIP Derrion. You deserved far better. And so do we:

1. The St. Pete (Fla.) Times is running a three-story series about what happens to people whose health care benefits run out or don’t completely cover their bills. Links here, here and here. (Blackink)

2. Nearly half of the U.S. private-sector workforce does not have paid sick leave, setting the stage for a “worse-than-usual” flu season as the country braces for another major sweep of the H1N1 swine flu virus. Apparently, sick leave is for socialists. (Blackink)

3. Justice Ginsburg was hospitalized on Friday night for lightheadedness, but was released and returned to work (Monday) morning. (G.D.)

4. Gov. David Paterson of New York went on “Meet the Press” and vowed to resist the people calling for him to opt out of his re-election bid, while denying that the president asked him not to run. (G.D.)

5. Everyone should read John Cassidy’s fantastic explanation on why markets do crazy things in this week’s New Yorker.  (Quadmoniker)

6. During the debate over President Clinton’s plan for health care reform in the early 1990s, large corporate interests paid for and staged “grassroots revolts” at Congressional town hall meetings. Sound familiar? Rolling Stone has the scoop. (Blackink)

7. From the Dept. of Things I Wish Weren’t True: a Facebook poll asks “should Obama be killed?” (Blackink)

8. Sarah Palin’s recent visit to Hong Kong reminds us that IOKIYAR. (Blackink)

9. Gruesome details about the death of Census worker Bill Sparkman can be found here. And appropriate mocking of irresponsible speculation by Dan Riehl can be found here.

10. In a time of flat wages and greater debt burden, the LA Times highlights the increasing numbers of Americans who are using their homes as a “second job.” Said former Labor Secretary Robert Reich: “We can no longer assume that housing will be as good an investment for the future as it has been.” (Blackink)

11. A look at how criminals communicate. (G.D.)

12. Some homeless sex offenders in Georgia have set up camp in the woods because they are forbidden by law to live virtually anywhere else. (G.D.)

13. Speaking of sex offenders, here’s a roundup of posts at Feministing about Roman Polanski. (Blackink)

14. Discouraged journalists can take heart in the story of Jerry Mitchell, who’s been featured on “On the Media” before and now gets to call himself a genius. (Quadmoniker)

15. Sociological Images put together an interesting interactive graphic showing political contributions by U.S. companies. (Blackink)

16. Fidel loves the kids: a new book about the longtime Cuban dictator claims that he has fathered 10 children by six women, and possibly 11 by seven. Shawn Kemp would be impressed. (Blackink)

17. Simon Johnson asks if the G20 is legitimate. (Blackink)

18. NPR profiles Chris Howard, the new 40-year-old president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Why mention this? Howard is black; his school is 93 percent white. (Blackink)

19. The always excellent James Fallows has a series of posts about obesity here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It all started with this comment: “Not as many very fat large Americans as I was expecting. Am I looking in the wrong places?” (Blackink)

20. Tufts University has banned any sex act in a dorm room “while one’s roommate is present.” If only this rule had existed my freshman year of college. (Blackink)

21. Ten sexual controversies that changed TV. Guess we’ll have to take their word for it.  (Blackink)

22. This must have been an interesting afternoon at City Hall: Detroit dancers, DJs and club owners recently asked city council members to leave strip clubs aloooooooooone! I wonder what Kwame Kilpatrick has to say about this. (Blackink)

23. A map shows that somewhere in South Dakota is the McFarthest Spot. (Blackink)

24. America’s largest dry city got officially “wet” last week. h/t Off the Kuff. (Blackink)

25. Hoping to capitalize on his unparalleled campaigning talents, Chicago is turning to President Obama in its bid to land the 2016 Olympics. Matt Yglesias wants to know why anyone would want to host the Games. Katie Connolly looks at the pros and cons. (Blackink)

26. After exhaustive research, Eamonn Brennan answers the question we’ve all been dying to know: yes, President Obama sometimes wears shorts when playing basketball. (Blackink)

27. Fifteen years after the Rams and Raiders left, Los Angeles seems to be moving closer to bringing the NFL back to town. NBC LA speculates the San Diego Chargers are the franchise most likely to make the move. (Blackink)

As always, feel free to drop links, chat amongst yourselves, offer effusive praise or hurl anonymous insults. Just don’t throw tomatoes.

*It was Monday when I started putting this post together.