You should read this for 7/11/2021:
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
There Is No Debate Over Critical Race Theory “Pundits and politicians have created their own definition for the term, and then set about attacking it.”
The United States is not in the midst of a “culture war” over race and racism. The animating force of our current conflict is not our differing values, beliefs, moral codes, or practices. The American people aren’t divided. The American people are being divided.
Republican operatives have buried the actual definition of critical race theory: “a way of looking at law’s role platforming, facilitating, producing, and even insulating racial inequality in our country,” as the law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who helped coin the term, recently defined it. Instead, the attacks on critical race theory are based on made-up definitions and descriptors.
Climate Change | Climate Repair
Brushing up against a browntail-moth caterpillar or otherwise encountering its hairs—on a picnic table, on a dock, on a bit of clothes hung out to dry—can leave a person itching for days as a poison-ivy-like rash creeps across the flesh. And as the caterpillar sheds its hairs, they can go airborne, causing wheezing if they’re inhaled. Both reactions can be so severe it necessitates a trip to the emergency room.
Reservoir levels are dropping throughout the West, as the drought tightens its grip on the region and intense summer heat further stresses both water supply and the surrounding landscape. Many reservoirs are at or approaching historic low levels due to lackluster rainy seasons combined with increasing temperatures due to climate change.
The drought crisis is perhaps most apparent in the Colorado River basin, which saw one of its driest years on record, following two decades of less-than-adequate flows. The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas, is at its lowest level since the lake filled after the construction of the Hoover dam in the 1930s; it currently sits at 1,069 feet above sea level, or 35 percent of its total capacity. It supplies water to Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.
Further upstream, Lake Powell, which feeds Lake Mead, is at only 34 percent of its total capacity. By next spring, Lake Powell is projected to hit its lowest level since it was filled in 1964, possibly jeopardizing its ability to generate power.
Coronavirus | COVID-19
Food and Drink
for a story about Aztec prisoners who were trafficked to the Vatican early on in the Spanish invasion of Mexico.
Along with them came corn, which the Vatican proceeded to grind dry like wheat.
History and Archaeology
It is Britain’s longest monument and one of the most extraordinary: a 1,200-year-old earthwork that snakes through moor, mountain, field and back garden, crisscrossing the modern incarnation of the Welsh and English border.
But concerns are being raised that Offa’s Dyke is suffering serious damage through a combination of neglect, carelessness or, in some cases, land grabs and vandalism.
Politics and Society
The bill would mean police could confiscate their homes if they did not immediately move on if local people complained, he said, yet there is a substantial shortage of approved sites, which means Gypsies have nowhere legal to stop.
Thousands of Gypsies from the Sinti and Romany communities make traditional migrations lasting 10 days to Appleby, stopping by the side of the road because there are not enough approved sites, Welch said.
“We have been here for centuries. We are British – our grandfathers and fathers fought in the last two world wars. They sacrificed their lives to defend this country. We are not society’s rejects, just to be treated like this by this government.”
Twitter thread from @sim_kern: If any of you are under the impression that our billionaires might succeed in “escaping” to space, while the world burns, let me put those fears to rest with what I know from being the spouse of a NASA flight controller.
Now, research out of Iceland has found that working fewer hours for the same pay led to improved well-being among workers, with no loss in productivity. In fact, in some places, workers were more productive after cutting back their hours.
Science and Nature
Australia’s unique forests are the birthplace of birdsong. The plants there are drenched in sunlight and can readily mass-produce sugars through photosynthesis. But with few nutrients in the soil, they struggle to convert those sugars into leaves, seeds, and other tissues. They end up with excess, which they simply give away. Flowers overflow with nectar. Eucalyptus trees exude a sweet substance called manna from their bark. Even insects that suck plant sap are forced to excrete surplus sugars, in the form of liquids known as honeydew or lerp. As the biologist Tim Low once wrote, Australia has “forests that exude energy.”
In his book Where Song Began, Low reasoned that Australia’s birds have benefited from the island’s free-flowing calories, becoming unusually large, aggressive, intelligent, and vocal. They are also extraordinarily successful. Genetic studies show that the largest group of birds—the oscines, or songbirds—originated in Australia before spreading worldwide. That group now contains about 5,000 of the 10,000 known bird species, including robins, cardinals, thrushes, sparrows, finches, jays, and starlings. All of these birds descended from an ancestor whose voice lilted through Australian trees and whose taste buds were tickled by sweet Australian nectar.
But this story has a catch.
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The type of data collected now includes the computer’s processor, operating system and version, the user’s IP address, and any crash reports, fatal error codes and messages generated by their machine. More concerning perhaps is the inclusion of a vague section listing data that must be collected “for legal enforcement, litigation, and authorities’ requests (if any).”
The storage of said data is located in servers in the U.S., Russia, and the European Economic Area. For example, IP addresses are stored in an identifiable way for a day before being hashed and then stored in servers for a year, leaving users identifiable via government data requests.
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Nikole Hannah-Jones, and the epic failure of the University of North Carolina to recruit the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to its faculty, just proved the correctness of critical race theory. The controversial legal doctrine has been vilified by conservatives but, as this episode illustrates, it also challenges those liberals who worship at the altar of “diversity.”
According to some leading critical race theorists, integration — the traditional progressive route to racial justice — does not actually work for minorities. In this view, white supremacy is so embedded in most American institutions that people of color will never be accepted as equals — even when they are formally granted entry.
UNC demonstrated that point after its journalism school offered Hannah-Jones, an investigative journalist for the New York Times, a prestigious professorship. The MacArthur “genius” learned that her initial appointment would be without tenure. She said she knew of no “legitimate reason” why “someone who has worked in the field as long as I have, who has the credentials, the awards, or the status that I have, should be treated different than every other white professor who came before me.” After a threatened lawsuit and huge public outcry, the university’s Board of Trustees voted 9 to 4 to extend tenure to Hannah-Jones.
But this week, Hannah-Jones announced that she was instead accepting a tenured position at Howard University, a historically Black school. This wasn’t just a “drop the mic” moment. Hannah-Jones’s rejection of a majority-White institution whose leaders clearly did not value her worth — and her embrace of a Black institution that did — embodied critical race theory’s foundational principles.
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