So, it is common for people to talk about the United States as a “Land of Immigrants.” This is usually well intentioned, often said in the context of defending the rights and value of recent immigrants. The message is, “Our ancestors were immigrants once, too, so we should have empathy for these new immigrants.”
That’s great, but it is always worth remembering that there are two groups in this country who are not descended from immigrants – at least not in the conventional sense of the word: Native Americans and African American descendants of slaves.
Why bring this up now? Well, the administration has been ramping up its assault on immigrants, with ICE’s horrifyingseries of raids and deportations, and, today, with the issuance of the revised Muslim Ban. Also, Ben Carson, the man who singlehandedly changed the meaning of the phrase “It’s not brain surgery,” did this:
Ben Carson just referred to *slaves* as "immigrants"
Here’s the thing. the first Native Americans were technically immigrants in much the same way that a tomato is technically a fruit. Yes, maybe their ancestors “immigrated” across Beringia twelve or thirteen thousand years ago, but you and I both know damn well that’s not what people mean when they use the word.
Referring to African slaves as immigrants is more like putting tomatoes in fruit salad. It requires a complete disregard for linguistic convention and cultural history. Plus, it’s disgusting.
You know the trolley problem, where there’s a trolley on a track where it will hit and kill five people, but there’s a switch that will move it onto another track with only one person. The ethical dilemma is basically whether it is okay to proactively take a life in order to save five other lives. It’s a no-win situation, sort of like the Kobayashi Maru test from Star Trek.
A young James T. Kirk foiled the Kobayashi Maru by reprogramming the computer, changing the rules of the test in order to make possible a winning scenario. Now, this two-year-old future Starfleet Captain has done something similar to resolve the trolley problem.
If you’re a fan of Moments of Wonder, there’s some cool news. As part of the BBC’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there will be a half-hour special featuring Philomena Cunk, who will tell you everything you need to know. According to the BBC,
Unrivalled wordsmith. Unequalled genius. Scholar of the Human Condition. Philomena Cunk is the ideal candidate to give the BBC Two audience a comprehensive guide to William Shakespeare.
A regular contributor to Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Philomena has proven herself a shrewd interviewer, an insightful critic, and a voice of wisdom for our troubled times.
She’ll bring all of these considerable talents to bear as she authors a documentary about the Bard, across 30 factually accurate minutes.
If you haven’t seen Moments of Wonder, here’s episode 1 of the series: Time.
And, for the biologists among you, episode 3 is on Evolution:
Man, John Oliver’s three-month hiatus felt soooo long. But on Sunday, he returned with his particular brand of investigative comic journalism. This week’s in-depth subject was the corrupting effect that pharmaceutical drug reps have on the prescribing practices of physicians.
So, I posted this over on the Ronin Blog. Reposted here for your enjoyment.
Hey, here’s a cool video. It’s a sort of advice column from designer James Victore. The advice is obviously framed in a way that is specific to design (and probably art /achitecture as well), but it’s amazing how much of it carries over to, well, everything. It’s something that all you scholars out there should listen to.
Also, this guy’s face is like a crossbow, because just look at his facial hair, and then listen to those truth bolts shooting out of his mouth!
So, I want to cast your memory back, to recall your youth, to the time when you saw your very first Gangnam Style parody, and you thought that the internet could not possibly get any better.
Now, get ready to call me your mind fan, because I’m here to blow your mind.
Mr. T has an advice column, and promises that you’ll be able to send him questions through his app. I’m sure there’s an inappropriate joke of some sort there, but I’m a busy man, so you’re just going to have to think is up for yourself.
Here’s Episode 1:
Science, Poetry, and Current Events, where "Current" and "Events" are Broadly Construed