- Barbara Palmer: Why we read romance novels – Ostensibly this was written as a celebration of the genre, but I found it super patronizing. I’m sick of talking about women and women’s interests like we’re an alien or arcane entity that needs to be interpreted.
“Women crave being erotically worshipped and nothing is more of an aphrodisiac than a fantasy involving a stranger.” According to Daniel Bergner, whose book What Women Want has broken new ground, “women’s desire is an underestimated and constrained force.”
This, in a nutshell, explains the popularity of erotic romance, books that women readers (for the audience is overwhelmingly female), can’t seem to get enough of. The novels speak to a yearning for lust, the need to be wanted in bed, that women may find fleeting or entirely absent from their lives, married or not. That first flush of infatuation when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other? Erotic romance re-kindles that memory.
- A Response to Richard Dawkins on Down Syndrome – If you saw Dawkins’ latest awful argument, he argued on Twitter than a woman who knows her fetus has Down Syndrome has a moral duty to abort. This quick post does a good job of showing why he’s wrong.
For scientists like Dawkins and philosophers like Buchanan and company, it seems obvious that being more intelligent means that one has greater well-being. No argument is needed. So, it is an easy assumption for an Oxford scientist that a baby without an intellectual disability will grow up to be happier than a baby with Down syndrome. But this assumption does not draw on any credible empirical research. Instead, it is a symptom of intellectual bias and a lack of imagination.
The families of children with Down syndrome, people living with Down syndrome, and our wider communities would all be better served if public intellectuals actually learned about the lives of people with cognitive disabilities like Down syndrome.
- A Unique African-American Culture, Hundreds of Years Old, That Could Go Extinct – Gentrification threatens ethnic enclaves all over the country. It’s hard to agree that more luxury condos are worth losing our cultural heritage over.
Brought to America from “the primarily rice-producing regions of West and Central Africa,” the Gullah/Geechee people worked the plantations of the American southeast, where they “developed a separate creole language and distinct culture patterns that included more of their African cultural traditions than the African-American populations in other parts of the United States.” After emancipation, the Gullah/Geechee remained in the same rural coastal communities where they were once enslaved. For many years after that, their communities thrived without much interference from outsiders. They were free to continue long-held traditions of “making seagrass baskets, fishing with handmade nets, burying their dead by the seashore, and living life simply,” as Marovich wrote in the introduction to his book, Shadows of the Gullah Geechee.
But the Gullah/Geechee way of life, Marovich learned, is increasingly under threat due to high-end resorts and rising taxes. In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Gullah/Geechee Coast (which was designated a National Heritage Area in 2006) one of the most endangered places in the United States, noting that “unless something is done to halt the destruction, Gullah/Geechee culture will be relegated to museums and history books, and our nation’s unique cultural mosaic will lose one of its richest and most colorful pieces.”
- Patrick McLaw, Skepticism, And Law Enforcement’s Obliging Stenographers – It turns out there was more to that author/teacher story and that local reporter needs to go back to school and learn how to journalism better.
We need more facts before we draw firm conclusions, but for the moment, I think there is reason to believe that the story may be more complicated than the provocative “authorities overreact to citizen’s fiction writing” take.
But it is not at all surprising that people would leap to that conclusion. Two factors encourage it.
The first factor is law enforcement and government overreach. When schools call the police when a student writes a story about shooting a dinosaur, and when law enforcement uses the mechanism of the criminal justice system to attack satirical cartoons or Twitter parodies, it is perfectly plausible that a school district and local cops would overreact to science fiction.
The second factor is very bad journalism. The Patrick McLaw story blowing up over the long weekend can be traced to terrible reporting by WBOC journalist Tyler Butler in a post that was linked and copied across the internet. Butler reported McLaw’s pen name as a sinister alias, reported as shocking the fact that McLaw wrote science fiction about a futuristic school shooting, and quoted law enforcement and school officials uncritically and without challenge.
- Cops Storm Texas High School to Investigate Miscarriage ‘Suspect’ – This is just a perfect storm of anti-choice extremism and militarized police overreaction and so American it hurts.
The cops were called to Dallas’ Woodrow Wilson High School last Friday afternoon, when a custodian found a fetus in a second-floor student bathroom. At the time, police had no idea about the identity of the mother, nor what happened to her pregnancy. But considering that miscarriage is incredibly common and self-induced abortions in the school bathroom are not, the former explanation seems like a fairly good place to start.
The Dallas cops, however, saw things differently. They showed up a Woodrow Wilson High ready to Fight Crime—one student reported seeing a police helicopter on the scene.
“Police have been saying all along whoever’s responsible for this is being considered a suspect,” said KDFW reporter Brandon Todd in broadcast Friday evening. “The child abuse division is heading up the investigation. However, they do hope the mother will come forward on her own.”
- Native American Basketball Team in Wyoming Have Hoop Dreams Of Their Own – I basically hate basketball, but this longform article about a high school team made up of native kids was a great story.
Wyoming Indian High is located in Ethete, a tiny town of about 1,500 residents, in central Wyoming. The school itself is composed of approximately 200 students, mainly from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes on the Wind River Reservation. Given the hoops mania, though, the gym is the largest in the state, capable of holding 3,000-plus rabid fans. That’s right. A bunch of Native American kids from the rez are the basketball kings of Wyoming.
If you haven’t heard of this dominant team, you might know the area itself—the subject of consistently negative, reductive and often false representation(s) in the media, where life on the reservation is depicted as nothing but a sad, grim blight; and has served to reinforce all of the old prejudices about Native Americans.