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Findings from around the Internet.


“few if not all together zero rules”

April 9, 2014


… it initially began as a kind of emergency fund, where we didn’t put our entire wage in but only some of our stipend for collective use, mostly as a substitution for a lack of summer funding opportunities to friends who were on international visas, and therefore weren’t allowed to work, at least not legally. So it started with three people in the summer: myself, my roommate, and a friend of ours who isn’t a graduate student.

Then, as time went on, more friends heard about the project and wanted to join in. So it grew to about 6. We then had a few discussions about why we were limiting it to a kind of charity fund, as opposed to going all in, with the idea that we should try and have our economic relations also reflect our social relations, that is, we are totally reliant on others for our subsistence, so why not reflect those relations economically, and see what comes of it — noting that individuated wage and salary structures are probably the strongest enforcer in giving one a sense of individual autonomy, masking our collective reliance beneath an ideology of autonomy.

Read More | “Graduate Student Workers of the World, Collectivize Your Stipends!” | Student Union of Michigan


“Their dismay is an opportunity to touch my face”

April 2, 2014

I grew up in a small Texas city, where my white peers called me a monkey. They told me that Indians grow our body hair earlier because we are closer to animals. I grew my first mustache at 11; I did not smile in photographs for years after. My desire to shave was not about wanting to become a man. It was about wanting to become white.

Now, at age 22, I sit in my Brooklyn apartment reading a New York Post story about how men in this city are paying up to $8,500 to obtain facial hair transplants to make their beards appear thicker. The article doesn’t mention race. But the first image that comes to mind is the white boys who taunted me growing up. Then, my dad told me, “One day they are going to be jealous of you.” I refused to believe him until now.

My generation inherited both our beards and our brownness in a post-9/11 era. We experienced a silent war — one that did not make it on the news — in the classrooms, the subways, the airports where we found ourselves under a new type of scrutiny. The brown on our skin: a new flavor of lethal. Its beard, even more of a threat. This is a story for all of the brown boys who shaved, who plucked, who went under laser and knife to emerge American.

Read More | “To Body Mod Away From Brownness And Back” | Alok Vaid-Menon | Buzzfeed


“afflicted by the provincialism of privilege and thus vastly underestimate the dynamism of the greater world”

March 31, 2014

The phrase “culture of poverty” doesn’t actually appear in Chait’s original argument. Nor should it—the history he cites was experienced by all variety of African Americans, poor or not. Moreover, the majority of poor people in America have neither the experience of segregation nor slavery in their background. Chait is conflating two different things: black culture—which was shaped by, and requires, all the forces he named; and “a culture of poverty,” which requires none of them.

That conflation undergirds his latest column. Chait paraphrases my argumentthat “there is no such thing as a culture of poverty.” His evidence of this is quoting me attacking the “the notion that black culture is part of the problem.” This evidence only works if you believe “black culture” and “a culture of poverty” are somehow interchangeable.

Making no effort to distinguish the two, Chait examines a piece I wrote in 2010 entitled ”A Culture of Poverty” in which I sought to explain the difficulty of navigating culture in two different worlds—one in which “Thou shalt not be punked” was a commandment, and another where violence was best left to the authorities

Read More | “Other People’s Pathologies” | Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Atlantic


“where possible, marry them”

March 26, 2014

Inherited wealth is the great taboo of British politics. Nobody likes to talk about it, but it determines a huge number of outcomes: from participation in public life, to access to education, to the ability to save or purchase property. When David Cameron recently promised to raise the threshold for inheritance tax to £1m and praised “people who have worked hard and saved”, he is singing from the hymn sheet of inherited inequality: it is, after all, easier to save if you inherit substantial sums to squirrel away, or if you can lock money in property that is virtually guaranteed to offer huge returns. Hard work has very little to do with it.

In 2010-11, the most recent period for which we have figures, 15,584 estates of 259,989 notified for probate paid inheritance tax. That is approximately 3% of all deaths that year. Already, inheritance tax is paid by a tiny fraction of all estates. The asset composition of these estates remains stable over time, with property composing about 50% of taxable estates; a disproportionate number of these are located in London and the south-east, reflecting the rocketing house prices in that corner of the country. The “nil-rate threshold” – the value under which inherited wealth is untouched by tax – currently stands at £325,000, frozen since April 2009. But that’s only half the story. Since 2007, it has been possible for spouses to transfer their unused nil-rate band allowance to their surviving partner. This has lifted many estates in the £300-500,000 band out of inheritance tax altogether: at this point we are beginning to talk about substantial, indeed life-altering, sums of money.

Read More | “Inherited wealth is an injustice. Let’s end it” | James Butler | The Guardian