Category: Politics


Though I’m busy with packing and preparing to go to Germany, I do want to write a short post on a current topic: Google and free speech in a market economy. Google has been taking a lot of flack recently for some of their decisions regarding speech in the workplace and websites from which they generate revenue. They fired James Damore for advocating positions that they felt detracted from a healthy working environment; after GoDaddy stopped hosting the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, Google picked up the domain only to also drop it after a few hours; they threatened to pull ad revenue from an alt-right leaning political opinion site because a particular article was written by a former contributor who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally; a far-left site claims that Google is reducing their exposure; and there are many other such accusations of censorship of all kinds.

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On Tuesday, November 8, millions of American will go to the polling stations to vote. Others have already voted. But all of them will vote in secret, either through a mailed-in ballot or else at a polling booth behind a curtain. But this is a relatively modern way of voting. Before the late 19th century, Americans, and pretty much everybody who lived in a country with a republican-style government, voted publicly, their vote known to those around them. What changed between then and today? You can thank the Australians.

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Check out a blog post I wrote for one of my classes:

http://blogs.umass.edu/satalay/2014/03/18/anthropology-that-anyone-can-edit-wikipedia-and-public-anthropology/

What is a Feminist?

So one of the courses I’m taking this semester is Public/Engaged Anthropology, which is exploring how to involve communities at all levels of anthropology, from helping design research questions to producing the final publications to distributing the information. Thursday this past week I heard a guest lecture from Whitney Battle-Baptiste, a black feminist archaeologist (meaning she’s a black feminist archaeologist, and she does black feminist focused archaeology). She explained that for years she resisted the label feminist, because most of the African-American community views feminism as anti-family, anti-men, and fairly self-centered. And she eventually came to the realization that it’s not. Sure, there are feminists who might fall under those labels, but most do not. Battle-Baptiste stressed that “feminism” really is “feminisms” – it’s the idea of listening to multiple voices and allowing multiple viewpoints to be expressed. Her admission of this struggle helped me, because this is something I’ve struggled with. Since working at the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum last summer, I’ve struggled with whether I should call myself a feminist. As a man coming from a white, conservative, Christian perspective, “feminism” came to me with a lot of negative connotations, just like it did for Battle-Baptiste. But I certainly support equal political and social rights for women. I support equal political and social rights for everyone, actually. And I love studying issues of gender, class, and social interactions. Therefore, I’m proud to say: I’m a feminist.

I made this declaration a few days ago on Facebook, with the hashtag #letthefiringsquadcommence. A lot of interesting conversations sprang up, and I think (as I expected) I sparked some controversy from some of my other conservative-minded friends. So my question is: What does feminism mean to you?

Okay, my opinion on the Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” Ad:
1. America does not have an official language
2. America is the most ethnically/culturally diverse country in the world
3. You can share kinship and national identity and pride with people who don’t speak the same language (and not share kinship and identity with those of your own language)

Oh, the marvelous wonder of Man,

See the plane fly over Japan

how inexorable his glorious Ways.

the object dropping from its bays,

The Image of the Being Supreme

a product of the American Dream.

thrusts him forward to Perfection.

Grandiose claims of Natural Selection

Wisdom! Wisdom! What grand Pursuit

cannot hide the inner brute,

is the mighty quest for Knowledge

that no one wishes to acknowledge.

that leaves Man from Ignorance emancipated.

Shattered frames will lay emaciated,

No thing shall stay his sure Progress,

and in the flash fluoresce

with infinite Potential, and his Mind so keen,

in a hue of such a ghastly sheen,

all the World surely is within his grasp.

as clouds mushroom from the blast.

©Kenneth Mick III October 2011

[Note: This was published in the 2012 issue of the BCC Zine.]

Children root through the burning piles of plastic and wire, smoke searing their lungs as they scrounge for any little piece of valuable metal amidst the melted plastic and poisonous fumes. The scene just described occurs daily in third world and developing countries, and even in more industrialized nations such as China. Cargoes of old, outdated, or just plain unwanted technological devices arrive from wealthy Western countries like the United States and are deposited at often illegal sites where they are pulled apart by hand or burned in open pits, the impoverished workers collecting any re-usable material that can be sold and put back into the system where it will cycle through and again arrive at some foreign port where it will again be sifted through by hand. Clearly, discarded technology is a serious world problem, but it can be solved through simple, relatively easy steps that every citizen can take.

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[This got me a high A in English class:]

From 1933 into 1944, one of the planet’s worst atrocities took place, as somewhere between 11 million to 17 million Europeans were systematically imprisoned, euthanized, forced to die in prison camps, or murdered in other terrible ways.[1] These mass murders have been internationally condemned, and have resounded throughout history. To this day, the term “Nazi” is synonymous with pure evil, an evil so wicked that is almost impossible to match. Today, we in America pride ourselves on the fact that the world has moved beyond this dark blotch of history, and believe that no nation nowadays could possibly allow such atrocities to occur. But is this belief really founded on truth?

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