"Mama Kin" and "Prettiest Girl" - The Neighborhoods
Our discussion about Boston's hideous city hall made me remember this video of local legends the Neighborhoods performing on the plaza there doing a kick ass cover of an early Aerosmith song and their own should have been a hit song Prettiest Girl. This one's for oddjob and my younger sister, one of the world's biggest 'hoods fans, who is counting down the last thirty days before the school year is over (while also getting sad about having her class of kids leaving her).
- Naturally, this story in the New York Times about the fact that non-white births now exceed white births in the United States made my day. I hate to be such a self-hating white man, but I feel like this is most promising path to a better political day in this country. A United States that is a little browner, a little less religious, a little less married is a country where the present style of Republican politics will eventually become unsustainable. I am not sure how long that will take, but it will be in my lifetime. The GOP will start losing and losing badly and consistently -- and then -- but only then -- it will change although in exactly what ways I cannot predict. But I don't think that it can continue to be the whites only fest that it's been for the last several decades and prosper.
- Strangely enough, I actually sympathize quite a bit with this article in the Weekly Standard by Andrew Ferguson excoriating the pseudo-scientific claims of Chris Mooney and Jonathan Haidt regarding (mainly) conservative political attitudes. I bow to no one in my contempt for contemporary right wing thinking and the degree to which it is dismissive of empiricism. I seriously doubt, however, that such attitudes are the product of genetics or evolution or anything that can be explained through sound science. Nor do I think liberal attitudes are similarly dictated by biology. Political allegiances and attitudes are one of the most socially-based forms of behavior there is. If they were products of biology, one would expect them to be more or less randomly distributed across society and fairly stable phenomena. Does anyone seriously believe that there is a genetic explanation as to why blacks vote 90% Democratic? What bit of collective brain chemistry explains the evolution over the Twentieth Century of the states of the Great Plains from the most left wing region of the country to being among its most conservative. The answer is that they don't. Yes, people often have a poor grasp of the reasons for their political opinions. Yes, in recent years the overwhelmingly ideological nature of contemporary right wing thought has led many of its adherence to reject certain kinds of science with which their ideology conflicts. This does not render such behavior biological in nature -- unless one wants to make the meaninglessly broad point that tribalism is an evolutionary survival strategy. As Ferguson points out, this kind of biologically-based pseudoscience renders politics effectively meaningless:
The real problem with Haidt’s psychopunditry is that it shares with other kinds of determinism a depressing moral impoverishment. Haidt’s own centrism is an artifact of his Science. If the appeal of one idea versus another is explained by a man’s biology (interacting with a few environmental factors) rather than its content, there’s really not much to argue about. Politics is drained of the meaning that human beings have always sought from it. Haidt criticizes his peers for using psychology to “explain away” conservatism, and good for him. Unfortunately, he wants to explain away liberalism too, so that our politics is no longer understood as a clash of interests and well-developed ideas but an altercation between two psychological and evolutionary types.
- Having graduated from college thirty years ago today and as the parent of a child who will be starting college in three months, I found this post amusing. I cannot really imagine talking to my parents multiple times a day while a college student (as I recall once a week did the trick). (And I am and always have been quite fond of my parents.) Nor can I imagine calling my son daily -- when he was away this year doing an internship, I think I spoke to him probably about twice a week. At one point where he seemed a little down I called him on three consecutive days, which was really hovering for me. I also can't imagine scheduling my time as a college student in the way that is described in this piece. One of the great joys of college -- possibly the greatest joy -- was the sheer amount of unstructured time, time that I spent listening to music, bullshitting, falling in love, having sex, getting drunk, and bullshitting some more. It was a life for which I was made. The micromanaged life described in this post makes me think youth is indeed being wasted on the young.
What's going on with you?