ISA HOPKINS

Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

Labor & Consumption

Illegal immigrants don’t take jobs Americans won’t. They take jobs Americans won’t—actually, can’t—under those conditions. They work below the minimum wage and without the protection of occupational health and safety laws or even the most theoretical rights of collective bargaining. Basically, they exist as if the New Deal never happened. Their enforced docility and legal defenselessness are precisely what make them attractive to employers. If they work so hard, it’s not because they.. Read More

Portraits of Privilege

Bank of America!  The new monopolies!  Credit card fraud perpetuated by credit card companies!  Shameless abuse of the tax system!  As if any of those four stories weren’t incentive enough to want to join the apparently consequence-free ranks of the one percent (or corporate personhood – science fiction authors have long written of transference of consciousness from man to machine, but how about from person to corporate person?  Seems like a much more.. Read More

Wishful Thinking

Man, wouldn’t rational political discourse be so much easier if people stopped clinging to disproven ideologies-masquerading-as-theories and started recognizing reality instead?

Livin’ Large

Hey! Want to get all riled up with some data-driven anti-corporate sentiment?? Yeah, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t… for a fine overview of the American obsession with productivity (and the fact that all of its financial gains accrue to the top), read this bit of journalism. And then learn about how corporations are giving lip service to the idea of hiring and reducing unemployment in order to give even MORE money.. Read More

Reversals

One of the most powerful tools in a sketch comedy writer’s arsenal is a simple one: the reversal.  A character, introduced in one context, elides preconceptions and reveals herself to be something else altogether, to hold an opinion or be of a background that the audience never expected.  It’s pretty simple, but surprisingly satisfying, narrative mechanics.   Also simple, and also satisfying: two conservative sources owning up to, well, reality (which suffers, as.. Read More

Buffy’s Rightward Sense of Justice

I’ve been re-watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” recently, a generally agreeable show that I first became hooked on back in college (my roommate showed me the musical episode, and the rest was history).  At the time, I checked all the DVDs out of the library and watched, rapt, as the story unfolded; in the years since I’ve occasionally caught an episode on a cable rerun, but this is the first time I’ve sat.. Read More

The Wealth of Nations

I haven’t written in a while, as things have been getting sorted out from various other formats into this shiny new centralized site.  Here are a couple things that have caught my eye:   My favorite thing that I’ve read recently is this, from the intriguing online magazine Triple Canopy.  It’s a history of debt and credit as the basis for wealth creation and basic economic exchange; one fascinating bit of anthropological history.. Read More

Consuming Housing

The Economist last week ran a special issue about property, with special emphasis on the perils of this particular asset class.  It was too bad, however, that the magazine did not take the opportunity to make the real point that the mortgage crisis should have made abundantly clear: investing in houses is disingenuous, because houses do not create or retain real lasting value.  Communities do.  This is why urban cores and inner-ring suburbs.. Read More

Labor & Economy

David Brooks discusses the post-manufacturing economy from a narrow point of view: a college-educated information worker.  Absent from his discussion is what the new economy might resemble for other workers; his account is also entirely devoid of unions, which in Wisconsin are bearing the brunt of the deep anti-worker sentiment that has lately infected business culture.  Some solutions are in the works to offer such workers greater opportunity, but until the fundamental attitude.. Read More

Radical Compassion

I remember discussing the etymology of the word “compassion” in a high school theology class; to hear Mrs. Swisher explain that compassion was not timid, not pitying, but rather the most selfless engagement of which humans are capable – to literally suffer with, empathy of the highest order.  Love is not only idealized but idealizing (and broad), while compassion is a narrowly defined challenge to accept the reality of human experience outside of.. Read More