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Understand Yourselves Better

White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You To Understand Yourselves

Ijeoma Oluo:

Why do I know white culture so well? Because I’m a black woman. And while I, and just about any person of color who has spent their lives in a white supremacist society, know enough about white culture to write a book or two on whiteness and option the bestseller movie rights, y’all know almost nothing about us and even less about yourselves.

Find yourselves white people. Find yourselves so that you can know what whiteness is. … Find yourselves so that racism no longer surprises you.

Seeing the world clearly takes trouble. It is ongoing work to educate myself on racism, both my own personal racism and the systemic kind.

The hard part is knowledge of my own footprint:

  • self-interest in continuing racism
  • failure to act when opportunities came up
  • fully believing racist ideas

The easy part is that all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. Once I learn something it stays learned.


We’re ragging on allies for making us spend money on the military:

Trump said Germany has accumulated an immense lack of investment over many years, according to one of our sources, telling Merkel the U.S. feels taken advantage of for spending so much on defense

But we’re increasing military spending:

Trump has sent guidelines to his Cabinet officials, directing them to boost the defense budget for next year by $54 billion—nearly a 10 percent increase—and to get the extra money by draining the budgets of the EPA, the State Department, and other federal agencies.

This is a staggering sum of money. Not since Ronald Reagan’s first year as president has the United States increased defense spending by 10 percent, and that was during a high point in the Cold War

So are we trying to spend less or not?

My guess is that both issues are entirely political. Trump wants to humiliate and dominate Germany, and he wants to look masculine by affiliating himself with the military.

Growing the US military is posturing with toy money. Needing additional military capabilities is not the point, and managing money wisely is not an agenda item.

In praise of Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal did a service. Racial identity is a social construct. Black and White are identity, not genetics.

There are many instances of families slipping into Whiteness over the generations. Why not the other direction? What Dolezal did shocks us because we can’t believe she would prefer Black over White.

She deceived with regard to her genes as a byproduct of choosing her identity. There were few explicit lies, and they weren’t about important things. The deception, not the lies, is what disturbs people.

She did nutty things. I’m not saying I’m in love with her.  But people do nutty things all the time. None of us would care about this person except that she switched from White to Black, which shocks because:

1. We think it’s worse to be Black than White
2. We think Blackness and Whiteness are genetic rather than social

In that switch she did a service. We are confronting those racist beliefs because she called our attention to them.

MP3s on

When I disconnected the blog for my historical public domain music, I stranded the music I had posted, which is actually all still available. Here are links to every MP3 on Song For Gurdonark/Italian Song for gurdonark.mp3 Song For Gurdonark/LucasGonze-ItalianSong1.mp3 Song For Gurdonark/LucasGonze-ItalianSong2.mp3 Polka on parlor.mp3 Fandango.mp3–I_Love_Paris.mp3 I’m Taking Care Of Mother (While Daddy’s Gone Away).mp3 and Cammeyer – Chinese Patrol.mp3 Baton Rouge Rag – Kitty Gray & Her Wampus Cats with Oscar _B.mp3 Charmin’ Betsy.mp3 Shimmy She Wobble.mp3 Baton Rouge Rag _ interview.mp3 Tanner and Fate Norris – Goodbye Booze.mp3 Beans, Beans, Beans.mp3 I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop (Take 1).mp3 The Plum Blossom.mp3 I’ve Got The Big River Blues.mp3 The Light Crust Doughboys’ Theme.mp3 Bald Head.mp3 Goat Stomp — bleeting.mp3 Goat Stomp — hi hat 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — clarinet 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — cornet 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — clarinet 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — band 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — guitar 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — snare 3.mp3 Goat Stomp — horn kicks 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — guitar 3.mp3 Goat Stomp — guitar 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — final 2 kicks.mp3 Goat Stomp — band.mp3 Goat Stomp — man take that goat out of here.mp3 Goat Stomp — cornet 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — hi hat 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — horn kicks 2.mp3 Goat Stomp — snare 1.mp3 Goat Stomp — hi hat 3.mp3 Goat Stomp — guitar.mp3 June.mp3 June – lead sheet.mp3 Weston’s Old Time Jig, March 3 2010.mp3’s Five Step.mp3 Weston’s Old Time Jig, March 3 2010.mp3 Weston’s Electronic Jig.mp3 Solace – A Mexican Serenade (LP Version).mp3 Gladiolus Rag (LP Version).mp3 Breakdown.mp3 Listen To The Mocking Bird.mp3 The Whistling Girl.mp3 Maggie.mp3 Louis Waltz.mp3 Poole – The Mother’s Plea For Her Son.mp3

Ape vs Human Cognition

Other primates are clever and emotionally present like humans. So how do are we different? From There is a moral argument for keeping great apes in zoos | Aeon Ideas:

We did a study with pairs of orangutans in which we tested their ability to communicate and cooperate to get rewards. We hid a banana pellet so that one orangutan could see the food but couldn’t reach it. The other orangutan could release a sliding door and push the pellet through to her partner, but wasn’t able to take it for herself. They did okay (but not great) when playing with me, and they mostly ignored each other when playing together. We then performed a similar set of studies with human two-year-olds. Compared with the apes, the two-year-olds were very good at getting the reward (stickers) when they played with an adult.

Taken together, these studies tell us something about human evolution. Unlike apes, humans are good at pooling their talents to achieve what they can’t do alone. It’s not that the apes don’t care about getting the food – they got frustrated with one another when things were going wrong, and one orangutan in particular would turn his back and sulk. However, unlike humans, they don’t seem to be able to harness this frustration to push themselves to do better.

Feed readers

As a reader, I need an RSS reader that caters to personal-scale blogging. There isn’t one now.

Professional blogs generate a torrential flow compared to personal blogs. In a river of posts where all sources are competing for attention, the professional posts flood out the personal ones. Your reader needs a rate limiter for overposters.

RSS readers need to make it trivial to reply to your friend, with similar gestures to Facebook and Twitter. It should be possible to post a private reply, to Like, to repost/retweet, or to comment in-place in your reader. The software should have sophistication comparable to Facebook, for example there should be a range of Like types that include “wow” and sympathy.

RSS readers also need to provide readership metrics to publishers. Otherwise your friends with personal blogs get close to zero feedback. With a big professional-scale blog there are enough readers for comments to happen. But with a personal-scale blog comments are few and far between.

Internaut day

Paul Morriss: 25 years ago I got onto the web

25 years ago I heard about this program from a USENET newsgroup called Mosaic. I downloaded and installed it. As they say: Mind. Blown. All the pages had a grey background. The images would download one by one, and you could see each line of pixels loading. A later version would download the pictures simultaneously.

I read about Mosaic in a little blurb in a print publication, so I checked it out and it was a-mazing. I did a bit of random surfing and before too long stumbled into a particularly yucky subculture. That was my first inkling of the memetic future to come. It’s been double rainbows ever since.

“Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech”

Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech (From New Scientist, via This Week In Sound

The team discovered that male and female baboons each produce four vowel-like sounds. Females produce one that males don’t, and vice versa, so in total there are five distinct vowels. They correspond to the second syllable in “roses”, and the vowel sounds in “you”, “thought”, “trap” and “ah” (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169321).

The findings raise fresh doubts about the link between the position of the human larynx and the origin of speech, says Fagot. He thinks important features of spoken language may have originated as far back as the common ancestor of monkeys and humans, which lived about 25 million years ago.

One way to read this slowly unfolding thought (in my recent posts) about non-human intelligence is that evolution is slower than we can imagine. Yes, we became precisely human when our species popped up, but imprecise versions of human are still pretty close.