Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The United States of Perpetual Unpreparedness

OK, somebody has to say it. 17 years ago close to 3,000 people died largely because the US was unprepared for an attack of that kind, or for that matter any kind. A year ago, a hurricane hit Puerto Rico and around 3,000 people died because, again, the US was unprepared. 13 years ago, possibly 2,000 people died when a hurricane struck New Orleans. Again, the US was unprepared. We are the Nation of Perpetual Unpreparedness.

Of course, I hasten to add, we are always prepared to drop bombs on people who have done us no harm.

Anyway, I wonder what will happen this time, as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Guest post: McCain and Vietnam

From a friend:

I was an undergraduate when John McCain was flying bombing missions over the Vietnamese People (yes there was “collateral damage”). As an anthropology major I was learning about the cross-cultural approach and cultural relativism. And the science of anthropology afforded me a new perspective on foreign relations.
I still have the cassette tape recording of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations investigating the origins of the “Vietnam” War. There was testimony by an OSS officer who was attached to the Việt Minh during WWII, and he said that Ho Chi Minh greatly admired the USA because it had fought for its freedom against the British Empire. The OSS officer continued stating that Ho had hoped that the USA would help the Vietnamese People win their independence from the French Empire after the Japanese Empire had been defeated. But the Senate chambers fell silent when the OSS officer finally said that Ho felt that a big powerful country like America could never become interested in a small country like Vietnam.
The United States of America was the enemy. The People of Vietnam were fighting for their independence from the French Empire, the Japanese Empire, and finally from the American Empire. Most people should now have that horrific image of Kim Phuc burned and scarred for life by American napalm dropped from an airplane on her village.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain (1936-2018)

I have sympathy for his family, and I wished him no suffering, ever. But I still have a hard time with the "war hero" thing. He was bombing brown people in a country that was never a threat to the US (I sense a theme in US history there). He was defending capitalist imperialism (after the French gave up); not "freedom" in any humanistic sense.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Ongoing Trump Shit-Storm

It's been hard to write about this, because it seems like whenever something happens, and I might be starting to have a coherent thought about it, something else happens before I can put anything together.

There's no need at this point to go through the litany.  It's obvious to any rational person that Trump is his own shit-storm.  It's also pretty obvious that rather than having any actual political philosophy, he simply sees the world and everything happening in it in terms of how it might affect him, personally.  He operates under something that used to be called the Illusion of Central Position.  Babies and very young children have this illusion: the world is there for them, they are at the center of it all.  And this is Trump.  No matter what happens, in his reactions he makes sure we know that it was all about him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wheel of Fortune: Ebonics is "wrong"

[I just posted this on Wheel of Fortune's contact page.]

On yesterday's show one puzzle included the word "embroidered." An African American woman solved the puzzle but pronounced this word so that it sounded like "emroided."  I believe that this happened because her underlying dialect (African American English) doesn't allow [r] before a consonant.  Pat Sajak (or the judges?) ruled it a "wrong pronunciation."  I believe this was a very serious error, not only in that the couple missed getting the round but also that a legitimate variety of English was dismissed as "wrong."  Her rendering was approximately [ɪmˡbrɔɪdəd].

I wonder whether someone from Boston, who might have pronounced it similarly, would also have been declared "wrong."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Social Science at the Olympics

Friday night, watching the Olympic opening ceremony, I was reminded of Chinese-American anthropologist Francis Hsu. The commentator described the opening ceremony (which had some very nice moments) as representing one of the differences between Eastern and Western culture: the emphasis on the group over the individual.
In the West, and especially the US, the enculturation system cranks out hyper-individuals, often social monsters like Trump; group work is seen as "collectivism" or even "communism." In the traditional East, enculturation creates a social system in which individuals are dependent on the group, within which exist reciprocal rights and obligations between and among members. Ultimately, in my view, a far less dysfunctional arrangement.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Yesterday's email from the UNF president

From the desk of President John Delaney:

I wanted to follow up on a message I sent to the campus community earlier today, about a flurry of social media posts which included a threatening message and a disturbing image. While Federal law (FERPA) normally prohibits me from discussing details, the student in question has self-identified to a news organization. This gives me the opportunity to share the facts that the student has released to the media. 

The student calls himself a white supremacist, is a former member of the KKK, but is now a member of another white supremacist group. He posted a photo of himself with a gun in the context of confronting members of a student group, the Students for a Democratic Society, which is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement.  The photo was taken off campus. The thread of his posts also included a threatening message. These actions led to his immediate suspension. In addition, he has been barred from campus, pending a conduct hearing next week. He can only come on campus when escorted by a police officer.   

There have been a swarm of rumors surrounding this incident. As I said earlier today, rumors about a gun being displayed on campus are not true, and we did not order a lockdown of a building. 

In an abundance of caution, the University Police Department will have officers in uniform visible on campus, along with undercover officers in plain clothes. This is not a reason to be alarmed: this is the UPD being proactive. 

There is no need for classes to be canceled as I feel confident there is no threat to the campus. 

I understand this is a sensitive matter that has put some on edge. But we have always been a caring, supportive community and our strengths outweigh this incident. Further, no one should confuse the acts of a small handful of students with all that UNF is. We embrace diversity.

As I have said in the past, if you see something or hear something of concern, contact the UPD at (904) 620-2800. There are also many support groups on campus ready to help.