Here is a book that attempts to pick apart the fundamental contradictions of the American South, with mixed success. Tracy Thompson’s The New Mind of the South seeks to find truth in that slice of America that puzzles everyone outside it. I must admit to a particular fascination with the South, myself, both because of its continued importance to American politics and the economy, and also thanks to my personal connections to it.
We are living in a world in crisis. But it’s not too late to save it–and ourselves. It would be difficult to summarize with any accuracy the problems we currently face, as a species. Even just narrowing down to a specific culture or country, the complexities are too numerous to faithfully generalize. But there are definitely trends we can examine, and those trends tell us a lot about where we may be headed if we don’t change course.
Guilty: I’m someone who loves investigating various kinds of networks and their effects. Let’s talk about Twitter, and specifically the way in which the #TrumpWon hashtag proliferated. A rumor went around that the #TrumpWon hashtag began in St. Petersburg, complete with a map image supposedly showing the hashtag’s original starting point and geographical dissemination. This turned out not to be true, but it spread far and wide very quickly and there are no doubt people who still believe it.
On the heels of the Clinton campaign putting out a primer on Pepe the Frog, the Southern Poverty Law Center has likewise designed the comic book frog as a hate symbol. It has been a strange year. As often happens when people not ensconced in a subculture attempt to talk about it, discussion of Pepe the Frog by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Hillary Clinton campaign lacks nuance. Perhaps it is also the case that nobody wants to expound at length about a crudely-drawn cartoon frog best known for expressing whether he feels good or bad.
Yesterday, I offered up a positive review of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Now, I present some salient criticism on what the book failed to include. In the course of researching more material foryesterday’s review, I came across an intriguing critical essay by Greg Thomas, an associate professor of Black Studies at Syracuse University. He asks the crucial question: why do some like The New Jim Crow so much? At first, I wasn’t sure I would be receptive to his criticism, but as I read through I was forced to admit he makes some excellent points.
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is already a national bestseller, so it certainly doesn’t need another positive review. But here’s one anyway! The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness was first released in 2010, but came to my attention over the past couple of years as the Black Lives Matter movement really got going. I had been on my “must read” list for a while, and so I finally got around to reading it.
Author Lionel Shriver recently gave a speech wherein she complained about criticisms of “cultural appropriation.” Was she on to something, or just making lazy arguments in defense of privilege and entitlement? It’s a good idea to start with her actual speech. This post may be construed as a direct response to her points. I’ll speak to what Shriver said. I will ignore breathless speculation about our inevitable PC dystopia, and go with the specific examples she gave:
This is a controversy that’s about a month old at this point, but is nevertheless still raging in its particular corners of the Internet. No Man’s Sky came out in early August and has been embroiled in a firestorm since then. What’s going on? The biggest bone of contention has to do with the game’s multiplayer component–or rather, its lack of one. Sean Murray is the head of Hello Games and the creator and designer of No Man’s Sky, and it’s mainly his statements at issue.
Recently, the Steam video game distribution platform changed the way it handles user-submitted reviews. Reactions have been mixed, to say the least. Users have been able to submit reviews on Steam for several years now. Over time, this feature has evolved to include a number of components. Reviews themselves consist of a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote, much like YouTube ratings, and then some amount of text. It could be as little as a few words, or many paragraphs.
Fifteen years ago yesterday, the United States was attacked in a way it never had been before. It changed our country, perhaps forever. It’s funny how a major event can crystallize your memory. There have been other occasions of this type: everyone remembers where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, when Kennedy was shot, when we landed on the Moon. For my generation, 9⁄11 is that event.