Your week in review, in haiku:
Hobby Lobby’s plea:
Come for the arts and crafts! But
stay for the smuggling
We write symphonies!
(made of dog-whistles and code.)
Polite Poles applaud
Keeping up with the
Kardashians? Don’t. Trust me.
Don’t click anything
Together at last:
Vladimir the Conquerer
and his new best friend
Sweet Blue freestyles. Call Mister
Grammy! She’s a star
Kamala Harris is the senator we need, if not deserve
The New York Times offers a rousing short profile of Harris, the junior senator from California who has achieved some level of national fame for her strong showings on the televised versions of the Senate Intelligence Committee meetings. Though she’s still finding her way in the charged D.C. ecosystem, she’s become, for some, “the latest iteration of a bipartisan archetype: the Great Freshman Hope, a telegenic object of daydreaming projection — justified or not — for a party adrift and removed from executive power.” Her civil rights bona fides are authentic. Raised in a black neighborhood in Berkeley, she was encouraged by her parents to be part of the movement from an early age. But more than anything else, she likes to say, “I’m a prosecutor.”
An employee for the U.S. Mint is on leave after placing a noose on a colleague’s chair
It’s now hard to ignore the trend. Nooses are being found all over the place – at a middle school in Florida; at a fraternity in Maryland; on a tree outside the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.; in a gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. But this latest incident, caught via security camera, occurred inside a secure facility that manufactures money. A white employee tied a rope typically used to seal bags of coins into a noose, and left it on a black co-worker’s chair. Many employees called and texted the Mint’s union president the next day demanding answers. The white employee is now on administrative leave. According to a Treasury Department spokesperson, there is “absolutely zero tolerance for the kind of misconduct reported at the Mint.”
A surge in racially motivated violence is alarming communities and experts
Last May, Lt. Richard W. Collins III was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland's campus by Sean Urbanski, an active member of a white supremacist group. (The group on Facebook is Alt-Reich: Nation, and it posts and celebrates racist, sexist and anti-Semitic material.) Though there may not be sufficient legal evidence to convict Urbanski of a hate crime, there is plenty of evidence that we should be alarmed by who he is and what he stands for. "Suffice it to say that it’s despicable,” University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell told reporters about the hate group. “It shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African-Americans.” The Southern Poverty Law Center counted more than 1,000 bias-related incidents across the country in the first 30 days after the election; since last fall, hate crime experts have cataloged 150 racist incidents on college campuses in 33 states. As The Undefeated reminds us, the victims are real people. Collins, an exemplary student who hoped to be a general one day, will be missed. “He was a star, a model cadet,” said the ROTC recruiting officer who approved Collins’s application.
Male and female entrepreneurs are asked different questions when vetted by VCs
New research suggests that the enormous gender gap in venture capital investment starts at the Q&A level. A team of researchers from Columbia and Wharton analyzed video transcriptions of interviews held at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, an annual start-up funding competition. Turns out, male entrepreneurs were mostly asked about potential gains, while women entrepreneurs were mostly asked about potential losses. “We found evidence of this bias with both male and female VCs,” reported the researchers. Click through for the fascinating analysis, which involves a psychological theory called “regulatory focus." In short: men were asked promotional questions, about their hopes and dreams, while women were asked prevention questions, about safety, security, and responsibility. The male-led start-ups in the sample study got five times the funding than the female ones. Oh yes, they did.
Ava DuVernay is slated to write and direct a five part mini-series on the “Central Park Five”
Their names are Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. They were just frightened teens when they were coerced into confessing to a horrific rape they didn’t commit. And they spent more than a decade behind bars in an adult prison before DNA evidence proved their innocence. For the longest while, the entire world was against them – including the young, tough-talking former attorney Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, then a busybody real estate developer who called for their execution. Now, the story of the Central Park Five is going to be told by Ava DuVernay, who has been tapped to create a five-part series on the case for Netflix, focusing on how the criminal justice system handled the cases of each of the five Harlem teens, and how that miscarriage of justice relates to today. Among the executive producers are Jeff Skoll, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Rosenthal and DuVernay herself.
The Woke Leader
Science: Play first, play hard, play now
Don’t put off having fun until you do all your work. This is the sage advice from Ed O’Brien, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His team conducted a series of surveys exploring people’s attitudes toward their preferred timing of leisure activities, particularly if they had other responsibilities looming, like an exam or deadline. People generally opt to finish work first, believing that they won’t enjoy themselves if they’ve got work yet to do. Turns out, most people find leisure activities rewarding no matter when they’re scheduled. “Our findings suggest we may be over-worrying and over-working for future rewards that could be just as pleasurable in the present,” he says, the grip of delayed gratification thinking run amok. “This is a problem, because, among other benefits, leisure improves our work,” he says, making you more productive and happier. He’s also got some tips to help you unpack your resistance to enjoying yourself more. Professor O’Brien is clearly a very smart man. And he’s probably outside right now, playing with a Frisbee and a golden retriever. What are you doing?
You know what sounds like fun? Spending some time with Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper, with some vocalists and musicians in tow, jammed into the NPR office for the latest Tiny Desk music series. “I didn’t know it was actually-actually in an office,” he begins sweetly. We learn, among other things, that he writes good fast poetry – he debuts a wonderful set of stanzas written on the ride over to the gig. He’s also funny, kind and brilliant. Fans will love this intimate twelve minutes and fifty-two seconds; for people who don’t yet know what Chance means to people, it’s their opportunity to understand. I like to imagine that somewhere, after he hears Chance’s version of his 1974 classic, "They Won't Go When I Go," Stevie Wonder will smile and know that things are going to be alright with the world. And you will, too.
"The Lost Arcade" is a really good documentary about the way people love games
The Lost Arcade was a complete surprise. On the surface of things, it’s the story of a sketchy looking arcade in Chinatown that drew together a diverse group of people who loved playing digital games. But it ended up being so much more. For one, it has the best opening scene of any documentary I’ve seen in ages. But it’s also about misfits and cast-outs, people with imagination but no homes, business visionaries disguised as maintenance people, and how communities are transformed in the strangest ways by the people you least expect. It’s also about how the shallow victories of gentrification and technology innovation don’t really matter if you’ve got friends who will battle you and quarters in your pocket, especially if you’ve got next. It was so good, that when I finished watching it I watched it again, just to be sure. The Lost Arcade is available on Amazon, iTunes, all over the place. Let me know what you thought.
There's this assumption in video games that if you run into a random player online, it's going to be a bad experience. You think that they will be an asshole, right? But listen: none of us was born to be an asshole. I believe that very often it's not really the player that's an asshole. It's the game designer that made them an asshole. If you spend every day killing one another how are you going to be a nice guy? All console games are about killing each other, or killing one another together... Don't you see? It's our games that make us assholes.