A place for new ideas to settle.

24 April 2013

A bit of spring cleaning.

This is a technical note: I've done some housekeeping and largely excised most of my old (like, winter 2010 and before) posts. Not that I think Parasites was a bad sequence, per se, but it doesn't really mesh with the current direction of the blog.

Also I don't want to be confused with an English major or anything.

White Privilege, White Literacy?

In my previous post I made (quite spontaneously) a connection between cultural literacy as promoted by E. D. Hirsch and white privilege as described by Peggy McIntosh:
One interesting thing about McIntosh's analogy is that some of the provisions in the "invisible knapsack"—namely the "maps, passports, codebooks, visas,"—are what you might expect a tourist to have. A traveler, who wants to be able to accurately and easily move around. E. D. Hirsch, in his Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, describes cultural literacy in exactly these same terms. I wonder how much of what social justice activists and Tumblrites think of as "white privilege" isn't just evidence of a vast and still growing rift between class-cultures. However, gluing the fragmented cultures back together might smack of "cultural appropriation." That will be a tough sell.
Indeed, it was a tough sell—too tough, since after a brief resurgence in the 80s, the teaching of cultural literacy has largely been chased into the cramped quarters of the conservative intelligentsia. The thinking goes that cultural literacy, which Hirsch confesses is mostly (though not entirely!) about white Anglo-European Judeo-Christian men, is the antithesis of multiculturalism and diversity. That the more of one you have, the less of the other you can get. My own thinking goes that this is a dangerous zero-sum game, and actually works against social progress.

23 April 2013

Inappropriate

DISCLAIMER: This is, to put it mildly, a sensitive issue. But I want to be clear about the theme of this post. I am not trying to deny anyone's lived experiences. My criticism is levied at descriptions of cultural issues that don't end up actually describe anything. The descriptions themselves are empty, not the experiences (in fact, I offer up descriptions that might be more on-target, but that's open to criticism as well). Now, on with the original post.

There was a bit of an outrage at Western Washington University a couple weeks ago, involving an event (originally) called "TRIBAL DISCO II." Feelings were hurt, the event was shut down, and now the conversation is mostly over, at least for this specific incident. I think it's time enough for a post mortem on what happened, what went wrong, and what people did to improve or destroy the conversation.

22 April 2013

Cascade Liberty Summit 2013: We Are the 1%

or, Thoughts on a Libertarian Party Convention

The Libertarian Party of Washington State (LP-WA) held their party convention in Bellingham this Saturday, 20 April 2013. On a lark—me being a fan of liberty and the event being free if you didn't want food—I decided to go. An afternoon of short speaker presentations followed. This being an event by libertarians, for libertarians, I was treated to a collection of mostly-similar messages; nevertheless, I was intrigued by the nuanced differences embedded in that homogeneity.