Amy Binder, co-author with Kate Wood of Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives, was on the guest spot of MSNBC’s “The Cycle” to debunk myths about conservative undergraduates:
What makes country music so popular in the South? Why does heavy metal only gain traction in certain communities? Why are tweeny bop tunes the go-to music for the middle school girl population? By examining the common economic, organizational, ideological, and aesthetic traits among contemporary genres, Jennifer Lena’s book Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music reveals the attributes that together explain the growth of twentieth-century American popular music.
Sudhir Venkatesh interviewed Lena about the book and her work. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Q. You are interested in factors that determine whether particular musical styles, genres, etc., will gain mass appeal — or remain circumscribed to a small niche. Have you discovered something about the process of “influence” or “contagion” that the social network scholars have ignored or underemphasized? What does your work tell us about the role of networks in shaping popular tastes?
A. The most common way for music to blow up from a small scene into global pop is for a controversy to erupt. Music history is littered with examples of “moral panics”: be-bop jazz was blamed for white-on-black race riots in the mid-1940s, just as rap music was blamed when riots erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King trial. In both cases, sensationalized news reports and especially a focus on the “dangerous” elements in the music attracted young people in droves. Moral panics, like magnets, repel and attract. This is also true when disputes involve dueling scenes, like the fights between “mods” and “rockers” in the U.K. in the early 1960s or the battles between fans of heavy metal and punk that played out on the pages of Creem magazine in the early 1980s. It is equally true when outsiders attack: the Parents’ Music Resource Center’s efforts to ban heavy metal and rap music resulted in those Parental Advisory stickers. When rock fans staged the infamous Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park they may have kept disco in the limelight for an extra year.
In my book, I try to understand popular tastes, but also niche communities. By looking at how the communities that support music grow and change (or wither and die), I realized that people’s tastes depend as much on the characteristics of the community as the music being played. Some people are into local music scenes because they like to interact with the musicians and other fans on a regular basis. They like that ticket prices are low and that the music is relatively unknown outside of their core group. They’re so invested in this kind of relationship with music that they’re open to different styles.
In contrast, the global pop music experience is almost totally mediated by screens—blogs and music videos, for example—and most Pop fans have no unmediated interaction with the performers. Even concerts rely on screens to make the performance visible. In other words, the fan who prefers local, “underground,” or “independent” rap music has different tastes than the fan of pop rap, and that difference doesn’t reside only in the songs.
On the face of it, this is counter-intuitive. We tend to think about taste as being all about aesthetic style, but ask someone what kind of music they like and they are likely to say, “Oh, I like a little of everything.” Of course, we don’t actually like all music, indiscriminately. Instead we choose what bluegrass we like, or what kind of rock appeals to us based on our preference for one kind of music community over another.
Check out the full interview here.
Noah Horowitz, author of Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market, was in the UK last month for the Frieze Art Fair. During his visit he was invited to give a public lecture at the London School of Economics – please follow the link below to catch up with the audio recording…
An Election wrap-up from Jennifer Lena, author of Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music
In celebration of the end of a long election season, I created this mixtape for our returning President, Barack Obama. For those who have never heard of a mixtape, they are compilations of songs designed for a particular purpose (e.g., as a romantic gesture, to celebrate an accomplishment). The term derives from the 1980s when cassette tapes were the medium in use, although music fans now create mixtapes on CDs and on social media platforms like Spotify. The thematic link between the songs listed below are the issues our new (and returning) President is likely to consider during his next term in office. The list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ve balanced the thematic relevance of each song with its aesthetic quality and my desire to highlight examples of excellent pop music. Where possible, I’ve included a recording of the song, but readers should note that some songs include profanity and should listen to them before playing the songs around children.
1. “Letter to my countrymen,” Brother Ali (Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, 2012).
“I used to think I hated this place/Couldn’t wait to tell the president straight to his face.” Brother Ali, and many other Americans, enter Obama’s second term feeling as if the American Dream has slipped through their fingers in recent years, or never thought it was their dream to have. Ali’s song is a hopeful and mature response to the disappointments of life in America—eight lines in, he admits: “I wanna make this country what it says it is.” He’s concerned about the corrosive effects of two myths: that of American exceptionalism, and of meritocracy and individual achievement. In the lingering wake of the Occupy movement, and while we are still in what some call America’s “Second Gilded Age,” the President need to lead us in a conversation about privilege—whether it comes from the color of your skin or the class of your parents, and criticize this still-popular notion that we get up on our own.
2. “Reagan,” Killer Mike (R.A.P. Music, 2012).
Obama faces a crisis of legitimacy in some parts of our country. You might argue this is a problem that Nixon created, but this particular president continues to face challenges from Birthers, those who doubt his Christian faith, despair from his handling of the economy (and from a rogue’s gallery of conspiracy theorists with some truly odd ideas). Rapper Killer Mike lost his faith in the presidency in the 1980s, a transformation he describes in a song titled “Reagan.” Using two audio samples from Regan’s denial and later acceptance of his administration’s exchange of arms-for-hostages, the song’s lyrics chart the political development of a young man watching the Iran-Contra affair and then the war on drugs, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…and at each step, his distrust of, and anger against, the government grow stronger. The lyrics speak to a number of issues the new president must consider, but it’s strongest and longest attack is reserved for the culture of incarceration: “thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits/Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics.” America leads the world in incarcerating its citizens. According to one estimate, we had 5% of the world’s population in 2008, but a full quarter of its prisoners. One in 100 American adults is in prison, and that number jumps to about 5 of every 100 adult African-American men (and 9 of every 100 black men between 25-40). The incarceration of citizens affects not only the criminal and his family, but also taxpayers: the costs of incarcerating so many Americans are enormous. By one estimate, California spent $4 billion more on prisons than on the state college systems in 2011. It costs that state less than $10,000 a year to educate a student, while housing, policing, and (hopefully) reforming a prisoner costs over $45,000 per inmate.
3. “Watching the Detectives,” Elvis Costello and the Attractions (My Aim is True, 1977)*.
Privacy laws have arguably not kept up with technology, and the post-9/11 era has been one in which politicians must balance citizens’ civil liberties against the value of new police technologies designed to keep us safe. In recent months, the ACLU is among those organizations and citizen’s groups that have appeared before government panels to take a stand against these threats, including warrantless wiretapping, domestic drones, and face recognition technology. The new President should consider these issues while listening to Elvis Costello and the Attractions, 1977 hit song “Watching the Detectives.”
*“Watching the Detectives” was released as a UK single in October 1977, but wasn’t on the album; in the U.S. version of the album, it was the last track on the A-side.
4. “Price Tag,” Jesse J (Who You Are, 2011); “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home, 1965).
One of the more controversial legal decisions in recent years was “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.” The new president will consider campaign finance reform and challenges to the notion of corporate “personhood” from those who think money is not speech. For a soundtrack to this discussion, I recommend Jesse J’s huge hit song “Price Tag:” “Seems like everybody’s got a price/ I wonder how they sleep at night/ When the sale comes first and the truth comes second.” Or, if he’s in a more mellow mood, Bob Dylan’s just the thing to remind him that “money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
5. “The City Consumes Us,” The Delgados (Universal Audio, 2004)
According to the U.S. Census, eight out of every 10 people lived in a metropolitan area in 2010, and more than one in 10 lived in either New York or Los Angeles. We might think America’s culture is defined by its heartland, it’s “breadbaskets,” or its “prairies,” but most of us live in concrete jungles. “Watch how the city consumes us,” sing the Delgados, “Watch how the city destroys us,” and yet, it is a “cost I am happy to pay.” The list of great songs about cities is too long to share, but here are some of my runners-up: (1) the live version of Mano Negra’s “Guayakill City,” (2) Brazilian Girls, “Internacional,” (3) “Chocolate City,” Parliament, (4) almost the entire Jay Z catalog including “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love),” and, of course, “Empire State of Mind,” (5) “Living for the City” (Stevie Wonder), (6) “Every Ghetto, Every City,” Lauryn Hill, (7) “Detroit Rock City” (Kiss), and (8) “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses, perhaps the best song ever written about Los Angeles.
6. “Disparate Youth,” Santigold (Master of My Make-Believe, 2012)
Although Santigold’s 2012 single “Disparate Youth” is not a commentary on climate change, it is one of the changes she despairs in this tremendously good song. “Don’t look ahead, there’s stormy weather/ Another roadblock in our way/But if we go, we go together/Our hands are tied here if we stay.” According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we can expect temperature rises, more frequent heavy rainfall events, more serious summer-drying and drought, less snow and sea-ice, and the retreat of glaciers and ice-caps. Our hands are tied if we stay.
7. “All Falls Down,” Kanye West (The College Dropout, 2004)
Remember when George Bush told us that the best response to 9/11 was to fly and go on vacations? Now that millions of Americans have found themselves unable to afford their mortgages, the time is right to have a national discussion about consumer spending and debt. America’s consumer debt rose to $13 trillion in the second quarter of 2012, just $2 trillion shy of our country’s total yearly economic output. Kanye West has a message for our new president, in his 2004 song “All Falls Down:” “It seems we living the American dream/But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem/The prettiest people do the ugliest things/For the road to riches and diamond rings/We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us/We trying to buy back our 40 acres/And for that paper, look how low we a’stoop”
8. “Fire Fire,” M.I.A. (Arular, 2005)
The U.S. Census Bureau set the official poverty rate in America at 15.1% in 2010, with over 46 million of our nation’s citizens falling below that threshold. Our president might heed the concerns of British-Sri Lankan-American pop artist M.I.A., who has developed a reputation as a voice of the poor and oppressed. Any one of the songs from her chart-topping 2005 album Arular, 2007’s effort Kala or 2010’s Maya would provide our new president with a frank examination of poverty and its consequences on political activity, daily life, gender relations, and family. “Fire Fire” is one song that warns of the dark side of poverty: the militarization of the poor—a theme that reflects M.I.A.’s concern about the persecution of her native Tamil people, and echoes themes in contemporary Americans’ concern about Islamic fundamentalism: “You shoulda been good to me,” M.I.A. sings, in the persona of a young rebel, “Then I wouldn’t get so rowdy rowdy/ You shoulda kept ya eye on me/ Then I wouldn’t get so baddy baddy.”
9. “Once in a Lifetime,” Talking Heads (Remain in the Light, 1981)
The Baby Boomer generation is aging, and the Census estimates the dependency ratio (the number of people 65 and older to every 100 people under 65) will climb rapidly in these two decades (from 22 to 35). By 2030, one in five Americans will be over 65. David Byrne fronts the Talking Heads in their classic song about change, and time, and getting older: “Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us/Time isn’t holding us, time doesn’t hold you back.” If you prefer something with more…jazz fingers…try Tom Lehrer’s “When You Are Old and Grey.” The president will, of course, consider the impact of our rapidly aging baby boom generation on health care policy, and for this, I suggest Loudon Wainwright III’s “My Meds.”
I’ve considered adding a song to speak to the issues faced by Hispanic-Americans; only Mexico (112 million) has a larger Hispanic population than the United States (50.5 million in 2010) and that population is expected to grow to over 130 million by July 2050. Of course, our education system is perennially the subject of public discussion, along with our financial and immigration systems, and the problem of bullying and self-inflicted harm in the LGBTQ community (especially among the young), to name a few of many issues.
Our second term President faces an extraordinary number of challenges, which I’ve only started to address in the above. I need at least another five songs to finish my playlist—what should they be?
Voting is a good example of the kind of large-scale cooperation among non-relatives that makes our species so unusual a member of the animal kingdom. In their new book Meeting at Grand Central: Understanding the Social and Evolutionary Roots of Cooperation, Lee Cronk and Beth Leech explain that cooperation is stymied by two things: coordination problems and collective action dilemmas. In their previous post on this blog, they explained how ballots solve a coordination problem by allowing people to cast their votes strategically, i.e., for candidates who may not be their first choices but who have some chance of attracting enough votes to win. In this post, they take a look at voting as a collective action dilemma: Why do we vote when our chance of having an individual impact is so small?
Lee Cronk and Beth L. Leech
On Tuesday, well over 100 million Americans will go to the polls to vote (or will have voted already through early voting options). They will do so despite the fact that voting takes time, effort, and preparation. They will need to figure out where their polling place is. They will need to find time before or after work or while the kids are at school to travel to that place. They may have trouble finding parking. They may have to stand in line. And they may worry whether they know enough about issues and whether they are making the right choice.
Each voter goes to this effort despite the fact that the chance that his or her vote will affect the outcome of the presidential election is infinitesimally small. One scholarly estimate puts the chance that a given vote, even in a battleground state, will change the course of an election at 1 in 10 million. Why, then, does anyone actually bother to vote?
Collective action dilemmas arise whenever everyone in a group would like some public good to be produced while also preferring that others in the group do the work to produce it. The problem becomes worse whenever the group becomes large and whenever the impact of each individual contribution is low. Voting in a large, democratic society thus should pose a collective action dilemma in the extreme. The “paradox of voting,” as described by political scientist Anthony Downs more than a half century ago, asks why voting does not pose more of a collective action problem than it does. Clearly the costs exceed the benefits for the individual voter, and clearly the individual has little impact on the election outcome. And yet, if no one voted, democracy would collapse.
Fortunately for democracy, many people tend to overestimate their own efficacy. One well-known study documenting this tendency comes from political scientist Terry Moe, who found that members of the economic organizations he surveyed tended to overestimate the extent to which their own dues and other contributions would help the organizations achieve their goals.
Why do people tend to overestimate their own efficacy? One possible evolutionary explanation of this finding begins with the simple observation that most people are not particularly good at understanding large numbers. Why would they be? Although the modern world may force us to deal with large numbers every day, for our ancestors, who lived in small groups and had no money, small numbers were the order of the day. Even today, many languages have counting systems that amount to nothing more than “one,” “two,” and “many.” Thus, even something as commonplace and essential to today’s society as voting may rely upon the difficulty we have with large numbers and our resulting tendency to overestimate the impact that our vote will have on an election’s outcome.
Another possible reason why we tend to overestimate our individual efficacy arises from an evolutionary insight regarding the way we make mistakes. Ideally, natural selection would have designed our minds with the ability always to make the right decision, accurately weighing the costs and benefits of our different options. In reality, we make errors, and those errors come with costs. If the cost of making one kind of error is much larger than that of making another kind, selection pressure on how we make that kind of decision will be asymmetrical. A tendency to make more of one kind of relatively low-cost kind of error rather than more of a relatively high-cost kind may be a design feature, not a flaw, of the human mind. This is the idea behind error management theory, developed by evolutionary psychologist Martie Haselton and her colleagues. Another evolutionary psychologist, Randy Nesse, explains the idea with an analogy to smoke detectors. You might like to buy a smoke detector that only goes off when there is a true emergency and not simply when you are making toast, but in reality such a perfect smoke detector is impossible to design. Given a choice between a smoke detector that sometimes goes off when there is no real threat of a fire and one that sometimes fails to go off when there is a real threat of one, which would you choose?
Applying this idea to Moe’s observation, it may be that the error of contributing to a public good and having that contribution not bear fruit is often a small price to pay compared to the error of failing to help create a public good from which one would have benefitted greatly. Given that our ancestors lived in small groups, this could easily have pushed our psychology in the direction of erring on the side of participation by overestimating the degree to which our contributions really matter to the success of the collective action. Thus, an additional reason why we vote may be that the cost of voting is so small that it is worth paying on the off chance that one’s vote will actually make a difference. Something to keep in mind on November 6.
Lee Cronk is professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. He is the author of That Complex Whole: Culture and the Evolution of Human Behavior. Beth L. Leech is associate professor of political science at Rutgers University. She is the coauthor of Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science (Princeton).
This month marks the fiftieth year anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, when the United States discovered that, contrary to promises from Khrushchev, the Soviet Union was installing nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. In this exclusive essay, leading conversational analyst David Gibson, author of Talk at the Brink, takes a fascinating look at deliberation and how decisions were made during that historic standoff. Read on for an analysis of Kennedy’s response to the Cuban missile crisis that departs sharply from previous scholarship:
from David Gibson:
Many histories of the Cuban missile crisis have been written and they almost all run like this: Kennedy took a strong stand in demanding the removal of the missiles but, not wanting war, managed to bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion through the exercise of judicious moderation. But this is history in retrospect, colored by the happy outcome. A closer look at the process reveals that Kennedy consistently made decisions about which he had serious misgivings—thanks to the influence exercised by his advisers in hours of meetings that the president secretly taped.
Kennedy’s first major decision was to impose a naval blockade, in spite of the pressures applied by the “hawks” to immediately bomb the missile sites. No one believed that the blockade would force Khrushchev to remove the missiles already on the island, so in order to make this choice, Kennedy needed to be able to (at least faintly) hope that a later air strike would be feasible were it needed. The danger, repeatedly stated by Secretary of Defense McNamara, was that some missiles would be operational by then, and might be fired—perhaps by accident or without authorization—in the midst of an attack.
Kennedy only chose the blockade once McNamara stopped warning about this danger, allowing others to muse about a later attack without having to contend with this damning objection. This meant making a choice that he had good reason to fear, and indeed after he made it, he fretted aloud to anyone who would listen that he risked a nuclear way if he later ordered an attack. So determined was Kennedy to get the missiles out, in other words, that he made a decision that, in his own estimation, risked nuclear war, though this was surely the worst outcome from anyone’s perspective.
Kennedy’s second key decision was to not intercept the Bucharest—the next Soviet ship expect to arrive in Cuba once those carrying additional weapons were turned back by the Kremlin on the twenty-third. Kennedy’s advisers mostly urged him to let it past on the grounds that it was only a tanker and could not be carrying missile technology. Kennedy pushed back, worrying that by failing to intercept the ship he would appear weak and irresolute.
Contrary to most accounts, by the end of the morning meeting of the twenty-fifth, Kennedy was distinctly leaning toward intercepting the ship, but put off a final decision until the meeting planned for later in the day. Before that meeting could take place, however, word leaked that the Bucharest had already been allowed through the blockade line. It had, but only because it turned up that morning before a decision had been made of what to do with it; the navy was trailing it and was poised to intercept. But the leak was embarrassing enough that the Pentagon hastily announced, in a press briefing, that the U.S. had decided not to intercept the tanker upon ascertaining that its cargo was benign. Thus Kennedy “decided” not to intercept the ship, though all indications are that he intended to do exactly that.
Kennedy’s third main decision, or pair of decisions, concerned the deal that ended the crisis. Late on October 26, Khrushchev offered, in a private letter to Kennedy, to remove the missiles from Cuba in return for a U.S. pledge not to invade the island. Before the ExComm could properly discuss the offer, however, Khrushchev sent another, now publicly, demanding the removal of NATO Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey.
Dumbfounded, Kennedy’s advisers urged him to simply accept the first offer and ignore the second one. The president, however, was certain that Khrushchev would never settle for a deal based on his Friday offer, having set his sights on something more. But his advisers were relentless, and eventually Kennedy approved a letter to Khrushchev promising that the U.S. would not invade Cuba, and merely hinting at the possibility of negotiations over “other armaments” later.
Kennedy fully expected Khrushchev to reject these terms, so once again was acting contrary to his personal beliefs. For this reason, he commissioned his brother Robert with promising, through a back channel, that the Jupiters would be removed within a few months of the resolution of the crisis, on the condition that Khrushchev kept that part of the deal secret. While this has been taken as evidence that Kennedy had become independent of the ExComm’s guidance, it is more accurate to say that he was trying to have it both ways, acting on his conscience as well as his council, even at the risk that by forbidding Khrushchev from bragging about the Turkish missiles the deal would fall apart.
President Kennedy’s performance during this crisis was remarkable: he was cool and deliberate, and did an admirable job in extracting opposing arguments and weighing their merits. But we need to resist the impulse to read backwards through time and attribute to the wisdom and temperance of one man outcomes that had as much to do with luck and the vicissitudes of group deliberation. Our current president, too, is given to protracted consultations, and we are likely to forget their role, as well, in years to come. Perhaps that is as it should be for, as President George W. Bush once observed, the president stands alone in his capacity as “decider.”
“Helicopter Parents” are often the subject of ridicule for those who adopt a more relaxed, hands-off style of parenting. A typical Helicopter Parent would be described as one who obsessively competes with other mothers and fathers in having the best school project or most involvement in school activities. It might not come as a shock to learn that the more education parents receive in a lifetime, the more involved they become in child rearing. According to a recently published article on TheAtlantic.com that adapts information from Brink Lindsey’s new book, both mothers and fathers will spend more time with their children after receiving higher educations:
“Prior to 1995, college-educated moms averaged about 12 hours a week with their kids, compared to about 11 hours for less-educated moms. By 2007, though, the figure for less-educated moms had risen to nearly 16 hours while that for college-educated moms had soared all the way to 21 hours. Similar trends were observed for fathers: The time that college-educated dads spent with their kids rose from 5 to 10 hours, while for less-educated dads the increase was from around 4 hours to around 8 hours.”
These parents might be considered control freaks by some – but do the redeeming qualities in ‘overparenting’ outweigh the more lenient, hands-off approach?
“The advantages of having well-educated parents are varied. Smart parents who naturally do well in school pass on their genes. They also tend to make more money, which can buy a safer neighborhood and a higher-quality education. But a less appreciated advantage is that college-educated parents are more likely to dote obsessively – even, yes, comically – on their children. And there is evidence that the very nature of their parenting style is good for grooming productive workers.”
Read the rest of the article here:
Read more about the causes of “helicopter parents” and the effects of these parenting trends in Lindsey’s new book:
On Tuedsay night our European office held at St Hugh’s College Oxford its second annual PUP in Europe autumn lecture in honor of our European Advisory Board. Jeremy Adelman, the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilisation and Culture at Princeton University, gave an extremely engaging overview of his forthcoming biography of the renowned social scientist Albert Hirschman (May 2013). Adelman framed his talk around Hirschman’s famous triad Exit, Voice and Loyalty. He showed that Hirschman’s life, from his work in getting Jews out of France in 1940 to his development of a new kind of social science with Clifford Geertz at the Institute for Advanced Study, offers a unique vantage point on the political, economic, and cultural history of the twentieth century. Adelman’s talk exemplified the values of big ideas and clear expression which Hirschman has made his own.
Women occupy fewer positions of power in business than men. Why is that? What explains the types of relationships that men have with women and the different ways in which men and women network with friends and acquaintances? In this Social Science Bites podcast, Paul Seabright, author of ‘The War of the Sexes‘, combines an economist’s perspective with insights from biology and evolutionary science to give answers to just these questions.
A great number of things have changed in American airlines since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Newer, “safer” procedures have been introduced, and seemingly outdated processes have been cast aside. What’s questionable, however, is if these new procedures really hold much of a benefit or any advantage at all. With the creation of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act on November 19, 2001, airlines no longer contracted with private companies for airport screening. The federal government has taken over airline precautions in the form of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA has implemented a number of policies to make the airports and airlines safer places to go. A more watchful eye now oversees our airline’s customers.
Long gone are the days when passengers could enter the cockpit at free will. Flight decks now include bulletproof doors made with heavy duty materials, such as ballistic aluminum armor unified with composite armor laminates to prevent unauthorized access by terrorists or anyone wishing to do harm. While procedures like these seem to bear little negative repercussions in regard to travel safety, there are certainly some security actions on the social side of the spectrum that could be categorized as socially questionable. Tallying off the list of possible missteps in airline security policy prompts many experts in sociology, law, and philosophy to dissect the newer airline security model. Perhaps there should be some consideration given to the fact that certain regulations have “pushed the envelope” a little too far.
Take for example the case of Nick George, as reported by PBS NewsHour. George was passing through security in a Philadelphia airport on his way back to college in California. While going through the security checkpoint, George had been carrying some 200 flashcards written in Arabic. Around ten of the flashcards had ‘alarming’ vocabulary written on them, such as “bomb” or “terrorist.”
George was using these flash cards for his Arabic language course and had merely been trying to study more about the Arabic media. George’s offered explanation did not prevent him from being meticulously questioned by the FBI and TSA for hours on end. The vocabulary words were not in fact used for sadistic doctrine, as the airport security officials’ actions might have suggested. This raises the question as to whether or not George’s First and Fourth amendment rights were violated. A suit had been filed on behalf of The American Civil Liberties Union and has since been dropped by the federal defendants and is now “proceeding to discovery,” which means further investigation is underway.
So, are basic human rights being violated by some of the more radical regulations instituted by today’s airlines? Harvey Molotch, author of Against Security believes there is a case to be made. Molotch addresses some of the most controversial policies that have sparked heated debates across human rights and political forums across the nation. When it comes to de-humanizing individuals, Molotch believes the movement to ban public restrooms is at the paramount of humiliation and degradation aimed toward the human species. To deprive people of such a basic human function is frightening to anyone who values their freedoms and constitutional rights.
Read more about airport security and what we can do to make travel in our country safer without sacrificing our dignities and the right to live life peacefully:
FACT: “The forerunner of the modern gambling machine was invented in Brooklyn in the early 1880s, based on draw poker. The countertop contraption contained five drums with fifty card faces, five of which flipped up into a viewing window after a player set the drums in motion by pulling a side handle. Versions of this model, some with the cards affixed to five reels, became popular in cigar stands and bars across the country, and were known as ‘nickel-in-the-slots.’”
Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
by Natasha Dow Schüll
Recent decades have seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.
Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone,” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible—even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and “ambience management,” player tracking and cash access systems—all designed to meet the market’s desire for maximum “time on device.” Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.
Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9156.pdf
FACT: “China has pushed to increase both the quantity of students and the quality of its universities. The total number of undergraduate and graduate degrees quadrupled from 1999 to 2005, while the government spent more than 30 billion yuan
($4.4 billion at 2009 conversion rates) on a group of forty leading universities in an effort to vault them into the top tier worldwide.”
The Great Brain Race:
How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World
by Ben Wildavsky
With a new preface by the author
In The Great Brain Race, former U.S. News & World Report education editor Ben Wildavsky presents the first popular account of how international competition for the brightest minds is transforming the world of higher education—and why this revolution should be welcomed, not feared. Every year, nearly three million international students study outside of their home countries, a 40 percent increase since 1999. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia are competing with the likes of Harvard and Oxford for faculty, students, and research preeminence. Satellite campuses of Western universities are springing up from Abu Dhabi and Singapore to South Africa. Wildavsky shows that as international universities strive to become world-class, the new global education marketplace is providing more opportunities to more people than ever before.
Drawing on extensive reporting in China, India, the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, Wildavsky chronicles the unprecedented international mobility of students and faculty, the rapid spread of branch campuses, the growth of for-profit universities, and the remarkable international expansion of college rankings. Some university and government officials see the rise of worldwide academic competition as a threat, going so far as to limit student mobility or thwart cross-border university expansion. But Wildavsky argues that this scholarly marketplace is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone—both educationally and economically. In a new preface, Wildavsky discusses some of the notable developments in global higher education since the book was first published.
We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9694.pdf