Relics of segregation

I am way out of touch with popular culture and so I had never heard of John Legend before the Oscars this year when the news reported that he and Common (another performer whom I had never heard of until recently) had given a boffo live performance of the song Glory from the film Selma during the Academy Awards show, where it won an award and where the two gave great acceptance speeches.
[Read more…]

“100 Words That All High School Graduates – And Their Parents – Should Know”

In clearing out some old files in my desk, I came across a single undated sheet that had the above title and the following text:

The editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know.

“The words we suggest,” says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, “are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language.”

[Read more…]

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Although I did not pay much attention to them, I had of course heard of the Duggar family, stars of a reality show called 19 Kids and Counting, referring to the number of children that the parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had. You could not avoid reading about them. From the little bits of news that crossed my path, they seemed like a bunch of insufferable Christians who looked down on everyone who did not follow in their religious, home-schooled, sex-puritan ways. But they were feted by right wing Christian types, including politicians, as upholding true Christian values.
[Read more…]

The consequences of our irrational war on drugs

One of the features of the so-called war on drugs was that it targeted and punished crack cocaine users (who were mostly poor black people in the inner cities) much more severely than powdered cocaine users (who were usually more affluent white suburbanites). These laws also harshly punished people who just used marijuana for recreational purposes almost like they were hardcore drug users and pushers, and we ended up punishing large numbers of people who were no danger to society, not to mention subjecting entire communities to invasive random searches.
[Read more…]

The abusive practices of the chicken cartel

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver exposes how the chicken industry is dominated by four major companies (Pilgrim’s, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms) that use their monopoly power to create hellish conditions, not just for chickens of which we are all aware, but also for the chicken farmers who work for them on contracts that are incredibly exploitative. And Congress protects these abusive companies.
[Read more…]