ISA HOPKINS

Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

Entitlement & Access

NPR has an excellent podcast discussing Patton Oswalt’s recent essay on nerd culture in Wired.  Oswalt’s thesis is that nerd culture has been denigrated by the immediacy and widespread availability of once-difficult, more arcane pursuits (i.e.: it’s the Internet’s fault).  His essay is both well-written and deeply felt, but one issue that arises in the NPR discussion is the problem of nerd entitlement: that much of what Oswalt is really bemoaning is the.. Read More

Re-Thinking

Hey!  How about deconstructing one of the foundational myths surrounding contemporary American race relations and urban theory?  Turns out white kids do more drugs than black kids!  A lot more.   In other cases of factual-divergence-from-widely-accepted-social-narratives, we’ve got: direct federal assistance (aka welfare) as the foundation of the American middle class; a criminal justice system in which evidence is often flawed and punitive measures fundamentally unsound; and state budget imbalances owed more to steep.. Read More

Color in the Classroom

Louis C.K. (via Ta-Nehisi Coates) schools Leno on race relations.  Coates brings up an important point in his discussion: as easy as it is to look around in 2010 and feel satisfied with racial progress (not a wise attitude to take, but an easy one), it’s worth remembering that it really was not very long ago that the situation was very, very different — that many people alive today, and not all that.. Read More

On Oscar Grant

I live and work in Oakland, California.  On Friday, I walked out of the office building where I work downtown — through a side door, because the main doors had already been boarded up — into a knot of police officers, patrolling the streets in riot gear.  Their uniforms said they were from Monterey County, two hours away.  It was, to say the least, a strange experience, nor one that many Americans expect.. Read More

Poverty & the Making of American Politics

With the midterm elections fast approaching, the time is ripe for reflections on the changes wrought in the political landscape since Obama’s election nearly two years ago.  Such thinkpieces tend more towards the negative — though some are more balanced than others — but, invariably, much mention is made of ye olde Tea Party, that purportedly populist uprising that has so usurped the sociopolitical conversation of late.  There are many theories of the.. Read More

The Americas

Mario Vargas Llosa was named the 2010 Nobel laureate for literature, an award which I feel is eminently deserved — of all the major Latin American novelists, I find Vargas Llosa to have the firmest grasp on both history and humanity, and the interrelationship between the two; the manner in which structures of power impact individual lives as they shape society at large.  In honor of his honor, Harper’s published this essay of.. Read More