Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

The Inheritance of Plunder

Sometimes facts that we’ve known for a long while can become remixed to have new meaning – an “aha” moment, such as it is, and I had one earlier today while watching the film “The Corporation”*.  The history of corporate personhood in the US finds its roots in an 1886 Supreme Court ruling, in a case entitled Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (or, more commonly, Santa Clara).  Corporate personhood was read into the fourteenth amendment.. Read More

The World Around Us

Urging African-Americans to become superhuman is great advice if you are concerned with creating extraordinary individuals. It is terrible advice if you are concerned with creating an equitable society. The black freedom struggle is not about raising a race of hyper-moral super-humans. It is about all people garnering the right to live like the normal humans they are.   –TNC   People do what they need to do to survive. But when survival is.. Read More

On SF, From London

I had plans to write an epic post about the Google bus situation and the social divides and false meritocracy of the tech economy (titled “Class: Warfare, Bus Fare, & What is Fair?”) – but then Rebecca Solnit beat me to it.  Her essay reaches beyond the typical technocratic solutioneering on the topic that has populated my Facebook feed (Change zoning laws! Eliminate rent control!) to meditate on what cities and society actually.. Read More

The Fiction of Affirmative Action

..our biases are mostly unconscious, and they can run surprisingly deep. Consider race. For a 2004 study called “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal?,” the economists Sendhil Mullainathan and Marianne Bertrand put white-sounding names (Emily Walsh, Greg Baker) or black-sounding names (Lakisha Washington, Jamal Jones) on similar fictitious résumés, which they then sent out to a variety of companies in Boston and Chicago. To get the same number of.. Read More


So it turns out the best part about writing about race on the Internet is the slow trickle of racist email never goes away!  While I am happy to ignore the comments and the tweets, I feel obligated to respond to those who send emails.  After all, they took so much time and effort to track me down; the least I can do is expend a few words to explain to them why.. Read More

This Is Black Hoodie Rap

A textual collage exploring inspiration, technology, and identity.   On Wednesday night I finally saw “Fruitvale Station” (not out in Australia, at least not yet).  A phenomenal film; an imperfect one, yes, but then perfection is a meaningless concept outside of abstract mathematics anyway.  Some reviewers have come in armored with preconceptions, that this is a Message Movie, or else so programmed by the preponderance of anti-hero narratives that they find a deeply.. Read More

Dear Racists: You Are Not As Smart As You Think You Are

I wrote a short essay about race and ethnicity in the George Zimmerman trial.  It was published on Salon.  If you have not read it yet, I encourage you to do so, both because the rest of this post will not make much sense without it, and because, if you’ll pardon my bragging, it’s pretty good.   Most of the comments on it are quite… pointed, shall we say?  I’ve received a handful.. Read More

Duly Noted

Couple points of interest: – Legislative misuse of graphics can be entertaining.   – How the NSA surveillance program fits into a post-9/11 authoritarian paradigm.   – Documenting gun violence: homicides, suicides, and accidents.   – Perhaps the most perfect example of America’s dysfunctional health care system: childbirth.   – White privilege in a couple of nutshells: the idea that being called racist for one’s racist behavior is somehow a greater injury than.. Read More

Being Better People

Yesterday I wrote about how our penchant for judgment precludes the formation of a just society; when we formulate our responses to systemic injustice in terms of personal responsibility we sabotage progress and turn it instead into a blame game.  But whereas it’s all too easy to point fingers at the abdication of personal responsibility as a cause of poverty or failure or other woes, we often overlook the necessity of personal responsibility.. Read More

The Stubborn Persistence of White Supremacy

White supremacy is a tricky concept to talk about, because for most people it calls to mind very specific images: plantations, burning crosses, lynchings, the Klan.  But white supremacy isn’t just about violent oppression.  It’s a strategy so enmeshed in American history and policy and culture that we often don’t recognize the mechanisms which ensure not so much the dominance of whiteness but the subjugation of blackness.  It is a consequence of cycles.. Read More