“What ‘The Golden Girls’ Taught Us About AIDS" via Barbara Fletcher
"But this is what The Golden Girls was so good at: bringing home those topics that often made people uncomfortable — racism, homosexuality, older female sexuality, sexual harassment, the homeless, addiction, marriage equality and more — and showing us how interconnected and utterly human we all are at any age. Served, of course, with that delicious trademark humor that infused the show throughout its groundbreaking, taboo-busting seven-season run.”
Albert Einstein was a genius, but he wasn’t the only one – why has his name come to mean something superhuman?
Before he died, Albert Einstein requested that his whole body be cremated as soon as possible after death, and his ashes scattered in an undisclosed location. He didn’t want his mortal remains to be turned into a shrine, but his request was only partially heeded. Einstein’s closest friend, the economist Otto Nathan, took possession of his ashes, but not before Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, removed his brain. Family and friends were aghast, but Harvey convinced Einstein’s son Hans Albert to give his reluctant permission after the fact. The eccentric doctor kept the brain in a glass jar of formalin inside a cider box under a cooler, until 1998, when he returned it to Princeton Hospital, and from time to time, he would send little chunks of it to interested scientists. Most of us will never be victims of brain-theft and ash hoarding, but Einstein’s status as the archetypical genius of modern times singled him out for special treatment. An ordinary person can live and die privately, but a genius – and his grey matter – belongs to the world. Even in his lifetime, which coincided with the first great flowering of mass media, Einstein was a celebrity, as famous for his wit and white shock of hair as he was for his science. Indeed, his life seems to have been timed perfectly to take advantage of the proliferations of newspapers and radio shows, whose reports often framed Einstein’s theories as being incomprehensible to anyone but the genius himself.
There’s no doubt that Einstein’s contributions to science were revolutionary. Before he came along, cosmology was a part of philosophy but, thanks to him, it’s become a branch of science, tasked with no less than a mathematical history and evolution of the Universe. Einstein’s work also led to the discovery of exotic physical phenomena such as black holes, gravitational waves, quantum entanglement, the Big Bang, and the Higgs boson. But despite this formidable scientific legacy, Einstein’s fame owes something more to our culture’s obsession with celebrity. In many ways, Einstein was well-suited for celebrity. Apart from his distinctive coif, he had a way with words and, as a result, he is frequently quoted, occasionally with bon mots he didn’t actually say. More than anything, Einstein possessed the distinctive mystique of genius, a sense that he was larger than life, or different from the rest of us in some fundamental way, which is why so many people were desperate to get hold of his brain. (via Why is Einstein the poster boy for genius? – Matthew Francis – Aeon)
Discrimination isn’t a thunderbolt, it isn’t an abrupt slap in the face. It’s the slow drumbeat of being underappreciated, feeling uncomfortable and encountering roadblocks along the path to success.Astrophysicist Meg Urry, quoted in "Girls Love Science. We Tell Them Not To." (via almost-a-class-act)
Chocolate chip is too mainstream. Me prefer Snickerdoodle.
Me no eat Mrs Fields or Chips Ahoy or garbage like that. Me know this great independent bakery in Brooklyn.
Me like cookie before it was cookie. When cookie just cookie dough.
Liberals have wasted a great deal of effort trying to ensure that their preferred interpretations of the Constitution will always carry a majority of justices. A more just, anti-racist, pro-feminist, queer-friendly, and less ecologically destructive future will not appear after the right justices hear the right lawyers make the right arguments. Liberals should realize this by now. By fixating on the Supreme Court, they have inherited the framers’ skepticism of popular sovereignty, of mass politics, and of the exercise of public power. They have adopted a view of constitutional politics that revolves around ideas of procedure, consensus, and finality.
There is another approach to constitutional politics, however; one known to the Left: the expression of constituent power. That means articulating grievances, confronting opponents, and promoting solidarity. These forms of politics are constitutive of alternative regimes and counter-institutions, and express the Left’s challenge to ossified constitutional discourses of procedure and formal rights. But so long as liberals remain attached to the Supreme Court’s aura of authority and finality, they will fail to see what political theorist Chantal Mouffe has called “the constitutive character of social division.” Such division and antagonism are central to democracy.
Organizing large coalitions and confronting powerful institutions should be at the forefront of democratic politics — not judicial subtlety and clever interpretations of superannuated texts. Durable abortion rights are more likely to be secured through a broad coalition demanding universal access to single-payer healthcare than through appeals to protect the legacy of Roe. The reform of racist and violent policing through judicial interpretations of the Fourth Amendment is meaningless in the absence of the political will to bring paramilitarized cops to heel. Confronting patterns of gross inequality with respect to gender and sexuality is a project best pursued through intersectional alliances, not disputes over constitutional doctrine.
Liberals should abandon the search for progressive outcomes through constitutional law. It’s not too late — it’s never too late — to join in the search for a politics in which judicial interference with democracy is not only unnecessary but unthinkable.
from “Waiting for SCOTUS"
Good critique of liberal progressivism in the US.
“The first one says that curiosity is better than an exclamation point—like pounding your fist. The second one says that a simple statement is better than pounding your fist and shouting and getting too excited.
”I’m very motivated by curiosity, and I’m really interested in people discussing things reasonably, calmly, and rationally instead of trying to insult their opponents, throw them off guard, and win by outmaneuvering them.
”My feeling is that nowadays people get into arguments and demonize their opponents and I don’t think that’s helpful. I’d like to see a time when people will say, ‘I believe this and you believe that. Let’s see what we can agree on to make the country a better place.”
“Do you think that will ever happen?”
“I’m optimistic. Every generation always thinks the country is going to the dogs and all the great stuff we grew up with is gone. So we don’t see all the great new stuff. I believe that over the centuries, civilization tends to go upward and we are much better now than we were 50 years ago. At that time, we were a better country than 50 years before that.
”I grew up in a time when black people could not get a lot of jobs, and the churches supported segregation. Women also couldn’t get a lot of jobs. It was a time of compulsory prayer in schools and a time when a lot of Protestants hated Catholics. While I was growing up in my university town, women who were taking a physical education class had to wear a raincoat over their bathing suits, and they had to be in their dormitories by 10 o’clock, while the men could stay out later. Black people could get shot for being too uppity or trying to register to vote. Much of this is a thing of the past.
”One thing that has gotten worse in the last 30 years is polarization, but I think a lot of people are getting tired of that. A lot of politicians have kept power by turning people against each other, but as the country becomes more diverse, that won’t work anymore. I think in the next 30 or 40 years that America is going to look very different and be much better.”
Last question I wrote for an exam, as a way for students to relax a bit and get an easy extra point: “6) What did the cannibal get when he was late for dinner?”
What I expected: puns.
What I got: several paragraphs on the subjects of death and decay, a quote from Montaigne, three recipes, and a five pages long essay on the song Mein Teil by Rammstein.