Trying Not To Freak Out

by matttbastard

Is this what they call ‘baffling them with bullshit?’ Cos, brother, consider me baffled:

In a recent paper I [Steven D. Levitt] co-authored with Roland Fryer, Lisa Kahn, and Jorg Spenkuch, we look at data to try to answer that question. Here is what we find:

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

The really interesting result, though, is the next one.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

So how does Levitt manage to apply economic theory in explaining the shockingly stereotypical results produced by his oh-so-rigourous study of teh mulatto “plight”?

We try to use economic theory to explain this set of facts. I can’t say we are entirely successful. If we had to pick an explanation that best fits the facts, it would be the old sociology model of mixed-race individuals as the “marginal man”: not part of either racial group and therefore torn by inner conflict.

“I can’t say we are entirely successful”–Steve, buddy, when did you of all people become so proficient in the fine art of understatement? Look, thanks for the, um, concern, pal– though my experience is, of course, purely anecdotal, I must confess that the only “inner conflict” this (undeniably attractive) mixed-race individual currently faces is the eternal struggle between waffles and crepes (What? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially after an evening of alcoholic indulgence *cough*). However, in moments like these it seems all-too-apparent that there comes a time when every buzz theorist reaches the limits of what can be pulled out of his or her ass before the ‘hu-whut?! effect becomes just too overwhelming.

And trust me on this: you ain’t got no more pseudo-intellectual dingleberries left to pluck.

h/t Latoya Peterson

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The Human Touch

by matttbastard

When it comes to successful anti-racist activism, Carmen Van Kerckhove of Racialicious reminds us that facts and statistics aren’t enough to instill change; focusing on the human dimension is a more effective method of inspiration:

When I think back on how my own views about race have evolved over my lifetime, I realize that some of the most profound shifts in my thinking resulted not from reading theoretical treatises, but from learning about specific individuals’ experiences.

Before I read Jonathan Kozol’s book Amazing Grace: Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, for example, I was a staunch believer in rugged individualism. It was Kozol’s unflinchingly vivid portraits of the day-to-day experiences of black and Latino children in Mott Haven that made me realize just how self-righteous and privileged I was to believe we were all on a level playing field.

We can (and should) talk all day long about employment discrimination, racial disparities in sentencing, redlining, disproportionate healthcare, voter suppression, segregation in public schools, the prison-industrial complex, and more.

But by solely discussing racism in such aggregate and abstract terms, I worry that we will lose sight of the real reason all of this matters. Racism is a problem not merely because it represents some abstract sense of societal injustice. It’s a problem because of the hurt, pain, anger, and suffering it causes to individual human beings.

[…]

If we want to mobilize people to take action against racism, facts and statistics are not enough. We need to put a human face on these issues.

As they, read the whole damn thing.

(Oh, and congrats to Latoya Peterson, new editor of Racialicious! Check out this open thread for some examples of what Peterson has planned for the future, and to put your two cents in, too.)

Related: Terrence McNally talks to clinical psychologist Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, on how progressives need to appeal to the emotions of voters to be successful in political endeavours. Also check out this in-depth three part series by Sara Robinson, who contends that, by studying, emulating and appropriating the strategy and tactics of movement conservatism, USian progressives might possibly regain control of the national discourse from the right.

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Saturday Blogwhoring

by matttbastard

Ok, so I missed the midweek linkfarm–my apologies once again. Feel free to sock it to me one time in comments. Oh, and go show the one Melissa M. some love–that teaspoon don’t shine itself, dig?

Stageleft: Affirmative Action In Nunavut: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Saying Nothing Charmingly: Chelsea Clinton at UTA

A Creative Revolution: A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves

Reappropriate: War on Asians and War on Asians Leads to Diversity Training

A Secret Chord: Headscarf Trees in the Misogyny Forest

Alaya Dawn Johnson @ The Angry Black Woman: “The personal history of the author is tangential at best” (must read)

Racialicious: Not Woman Enough

All About Race: We is us.

Creekside: So stick another ribbon on your H-o-C…

Official Shrub.com Blog: The double standard: “Doesn’t that perpetuate sexism?”

The American Street: The Girls Knock at the Cyberglass ceiling (h/t The Queen)

brown rab fish girl: Words, Lentils, Dates, Pork

Unrepentant Old Hippie: Kosovo pisses off lifesite

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Saturday Blogwhoring

by matttbastard

Dedicated to those who are trying to empty the ocean. Whether with teaspoons, shotglasses, or buckets, it counts.  Much love.

(Shakes deserves a new silverware set.)

Birth Pangs: The Sacred and the Profane and UPDATE: RealityWorld v. Lying Fetus Fetishists

Culture Kitchen: Global Warming: Nukes Are NOT the Answer

Racialicious: The Veil Does Not a Prison Make (h/t Kevin

A Creative Revolution: Throwing stones. and Sisters 

Slant Truth: The (Natural) Psychology of Gender Stereotypes, With no Attention Paid to PoC Whatsoever (Evo-psych makes me wanna smoke crack.  Blame my Nubian ancestry. Or the shape of my jaw. Or something.)

Orcinus: Huckabee’s 120 Days 

Creekside: Afghanistan – We are so-o-o-o-o past 3-D

Politics’n’Poetry: Tar Sands Time Out! and The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples or Why Canada Did Not Support the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

Black Looks: It is women who are being raped  

unrepentant old hippie: Fetus Fetishists park Fetusmobile© at contractor’s home

pogge: They don’t really think Harper delegates, do they?

The Francis L. Holland Blog: Color-Aroused Decision Making Is Central to “Obama’s Fate” (Posted at MyDD) (h/t Tom)

AngryBlackBitch: Pander first…govern never… and The take away… 

Fetch me my axe: World AIDS day, belatedly

mnemosyne: rants, musings (& some link love) b4 the end of yr

Women of Color Blog: A small post (h/t b. medusa)

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Sunday Blogwhoring: Armistice Anxiety

by matttbastard

Desperately need a personal assistant to keep up with my rapidly expanding agenda. Rest assured I’d never be so intemperate an employer as the late Linda Stein, former manager of the Ramones, who was recently bludgeoned to death by her PA (Natavia don’t play that Naomi Campbell diva bullshit, y0!) Obviously, this is all wishful speculation on my part; before hiring anyone to manage my affairs I’d first need to secure an income stable enough to support myself financially, let alone an employee.

Love don’t pay the bills, y0–unless you own the publishing rights to Arthur Lee’s back catalogue.

(Seven and seven is Melissa McEwan.)

April Reign: An Open Letter to Dalton McGuinty

Birth Pangs: Conscience

The Silence of Our Friends: Drowning Maestro and Virgins, Whores, and the Sliding Scale of Our Humanity

Leftist Looney Lunchbox: How “protecting our women” hurts women

Women of Color Blog: Some Questions

mnemosyne: just fuckin’ stop it, ok

Rachel’s Tavern: I’ve Read More Sexist Comments From Black Men This Week Than I Have Read In the Past Year

Slant Truth: Michael Baisden Attacks Color of Change

Tristan’s Corner of the Web: Let’s get down to business

Andrew Padula @ All About Race: The Topsoil: Dog the Bounty Hunter

Jon Swift: Quit Doggin’ Dog the Bounty Hunter (FTW!)

skdadl @ POGGE: Welcome to our inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox

Too Sense: Norman Mailer Dies

Liberal Catnip: Sunday Food for Thought: Remembrance Day

willy be frantic @ A Creative Revolution: The 11th hour of the 11th day ….

Shakesville: The next time…

Questioning Transphobia: ENDA Discussion

nexy’s cocoon: more equal

TransAdvocate: What Next?

Obsidian Wings: ENDA Redux (With Free Gift!) and Oh, And One More Thing…

unrepentant old hippie: “It’s sickening.”

Far and Wide: Have Your Say (h/t 900ft Jesus)

Politics ‘n’ Poetry: Gender Equality : Canada slips from 14th to 18th place

Creekside: British Columbia : Nigeria North?

fetch me my axe: something tells me i shoulda stood in bed

Impolitical: For the independent party’s Schreiber review

Racialicious: Jezebel: Asian women are hot, smart, thin and tell you your skin is bad

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Wednesday Blogwhoring: Reappropriating ‘rEVOLution’

by matttbastard

Keep those letters coming! Love you all; always, muchly.

(Shakes is rEVOL personified)

Women of Color Blog: tee hee, i said beener and farted at the same time!

Too Sense: DHS Puts Julie Myers “On Leave” Over Blackface Costume and
Black Leaders Repeat Call For March On Justice Department, Civil Rights Division Spins Its Record

unrepentant old hippie: Witless in Washington (Part 3,782)

Pop + Politics: Pushing off: a love affair with Homeland Security

elle, phd: Waiting…

atlasien @ Rachel’s Tavern: White Guilt, White Resentment

Chowrangi: Nation-wide Torture Goes On and International Looter

All Things Pakistan: Emergency in Pakistan: What Can You Do?

Zen Pundit: Pakistan’s Real Crisis

The Newshoggers: Give The Dictator’s Money Back, Hillary

at-largely: Pakistan and U.S.: Pots and Kettles and Constitutions

Vox ex Machina: Maybe it’s time for an ‘Inappropriate Use of Tasers’ roundup

Red Jenny: Lib Lit: Progressive Partisan Fiction

April Reign: “Well, you’re not going to solve the problem if you even refuse to say what it is.” (“November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario a great reminder to send what you can to those working on women’s behalf or to write letters, or to volunteer at a help phone or shelter. Or maybe just to listen to a neighbour who may be in danger.”)

Politics ‘n’ Poetry: SK Universities Attack Workers’ Rights

Seattle Slim @Racialicious: Vogue India Shows Appreciation For Indian Beauty With Caucasian Model Highlighted…

The Heathlander: The Guardian beats the drums

Shakesville: Breaking News: Fox Viewers are Stoopid (Head. Desk.)

Canuck Attitude: Fiscal Vertigo

Poliblogger: A Question for Discussion: The Significance of the Robertson Endorsement of Rudy

Automatic Preference: Identity Politics and Identity Politics 2 (Guest Post from Kai)

Creekside: Win the Nobel and lose your funding

Rolling Back The Tide Of Extremism, One Post At A Time: China Roars, America Reels, the Loonie Soars

PoliTits: All About Qualifying Language

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Errant Algorithms Or Malicious Intent?

by matttbastard

I’m sure this really was simply the result of an error, but still:

Last week marked a watershed moment for two stars of the business world. By chance, an abrupt end seemed imminent for the careers of Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons and Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O’Neal. Both had reached pinnacles rarely scaled in corporate America by African-Americans. And their fates dominated business headlines worldwide last Friday, Oct. 26. Online at Google News, however, the coverage was, in a word, shocking.

A keyword search for “Richard Parsons” generated a flood of stories about the executive, accompanied by a photo of two rhesus monkeys. Clicking on the image linked users to a story on neither monkeys nor Parsons. Instead, a speculative account on O’Neal’s waning support among Merrill directors appeared on screen. Other than the lynch mob’s noose and the Klansman’s hood, few images of racism are as offensive to African-American as monkeys. Yet the bizarre juxtaposition of image and stories persisted through the week. And even after Google was specifically contacted this week, it continued.

An unstoppable racist hacker? Hardly, according to a Google spokesman. It was an inside job. The perpetrator, however, wasn’t human. The search giant blames its computers and algorithms. Despite its cutting-edge advancements, Google is simply incapable of a performing a skill typically mastered by first graders: matching the right words with the right images. The problem generally has plagued Google since June when it introduced the “Image Version” of Google News to pair the top headlines with illustrative photos.

Unfortunately, Google’s tight lipped ‘Do No Harm (To Our Image)’ policy isn’t helpful in this instance:

Google acknowledges the situation, but declined to openly discuss details of the primate episode. Surprisingly, it was even unwilling to go on record and explicitly disavow any racist motivation. “While we don’t comment on individual stories on Google News,” spokesman Gabriel Stricker told NEWSWEEK, “crawling thousands of sites across the globe is a complicated task, and we’re confident that the quality of the crawled pages is extremely good for the vast majority of news sources on our site.”

Um, yeah, but:

Despite Google’s technical explanation, there’s a twist to the Parsons-primate episode that could lead online users to suspect hacker involvement. Over the weekend, the company appeared to have corrected the mismatch, at least temporarily. At times, the primates photo was substituted with a photo of a formally attired Parsons posing with an actor in a Bugs Bunny costume. (The character is owned by Time Warner, which declined to comment for this story.) Later, however, the rhesus photo reappeared, supplanting Parsons and Bugs Bunny. Google denies it was hacked and insists the incident was again, simply a result of its computer systems.

Again, I don’t believe there’s anything more to this other than a series of unfortunate fibre-optic events. But it would be nice if Google’s PR army would just admit they fucked up, instead of standard CYA obfuscating. Regardless, I’d wager Dog The Bounty Hunter wishes he could blame his recent career-torpedoing racial faux pas on a mere computer glitch.

Related: This is gonna hurt, but, via Racialicious (*deep breath*), Perez Hilton (*winces*) has posted audio of the now-infamous Chapman family phone conversation. Hilton also notes that Chapman, qua Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, “has reached out to the Rev. Al Sharpton” in an attempt to salvage what’s left of his rapidly dwindling reputation continue the healing process. Uh huh.

Carmen nails it:

I am so sick of these stories of white males caught on tape saying racist shit, and then running to Al Sharpton for forgiveness. Seriously I am so over this shit.

Word. Al Sharpton ain’t the POC Pope. He doesn’t possess the authority to magically absolve anyone of racist sins (“Say three hundred ‘hail MLKs’ and everything’ll be copacetic!”)

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