culture

The Pacific Standard website has posted a long article about how an airport fence has sparked a debate over honoring victims of the United States’ internment of citizens of Japanese descent during World World II. A small airport was built on the site of the former Tulelake, California internment camp, and now debate about replacing a dilapidated fence with an eight-feet tall, three-miles long, barbed wire-topped new fence has raised questions about preserving the historical significance of the land. It is a very interesting read.

“Community trauma remains a major issue in marginalized communities,” begins an article on the Pacific Standard website about research on connections between police violence and community trauma. “But there’s still little research to show how police cause mental-health issues—or what can be done to lessen the communal anguish.” I’ll have to speak with the director of the forthcoming SJSU Human Rights Institute about research the institute can conduct in this area.

Memorial Day was a few days ago in the United States. I usually celebrate it as the unofficial first day of summer by going to see a summer blockbuster movie with friends [I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story this year.] I just came across an article about the need for social scientists to do more research on how and why holidays have moved from rituals of civic pride and remembrance toward family-oriented celebrations. This article was published in 2002, but it is still very much relevant today!

The 2020 U.S. Census is right around the corner. I’m looking forward to finally being able to definitely say that I’ve submitted a census form. I probably received a form as a homeowner in Minnesota in 2010, but don’t recall it. I lived an apartments in 2000 and 1990, and don’t remember receiving forms then either. So I am not sure if I was counted in the past 30 years (!). Perhaps digital data collection will increase the accuracy of the count, but there are pros and cons to using more technology in the census. We’ll see…

The June 2018 cover story of The Atlantic magazine presents a provocative proposition: “The Birth of the New American Aristocracy: The gilded future of the top ten percent–and the end opportunity for everyone else.” The online version of the magazine is even more incendiary: “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy: The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.” Wow!

The Atlantic magazine has launched an interesting new podcast series about the intersections of technology and society: in 8 episodes, Crazy/Genius “asks big questions about everything from online dating to blockchain to space exploration. Is technology moving us forward or backward? How did we get here — and where are we headed?” Up first: “Why Can’t Facebook Tell the Truth?

 

Conservative college students sometimes report that their ideas are not welcome on campus. A Chronicle of Higher Education collaboration with This American Life explores a University of Nebraska skirmish involving conservative students that made national headlines.

“There has never been a time when so much data existed about human behavior,” begins a Chronicle of Higher Education article about the academic use of Facebook’s data. “What many of us buy, sell, like, dislike, read, and tell our friends is recorded on the internet thanks to sites like Facebook. To social scientists, the company is sitting on a gold mine… [A] commission, would be trained on the company’s policies and would theoretically know why some information can be shared and some can’t, presumably because of legal proceedings or certain privacy laws. The scholars on the commission would not be able to do their own research or share the company’s secrets, but they would solicit proposals from others and serve as a filter for the data, meting it out to the researchers as deemed appropriate.”

The Pacific Standard also has an article about Facebook releasing its data to social scientists. This is a very interesting and potentially powerful development!

Today (April 4, 2018) is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At 4:01 PM PST Bay Area community members will join San José State University in a ceremony to commemorate the moment that stunned the world. The west coast time symbolizes the moment Dr. King was struck in the neck by an assassin’s bullet on the third floor balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Local K-12 students will join community elders and the SJSU campus community in ringing 50 chimes in Dr. King’s honor at the MLK Library on campus.

The Atlantic magazine has published a special issue about Dr. King. I’m a subscriber but haven’t received my issue yet, but read one article online: William Barber II’s argument that the nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money to face what ails society, we lack the moral capacity to do so.

“Soon, talking to strangers will be even easier” is the title of a recent article in Wired magazine about language translation technology. Author David Pierce begins the article with a description of current technology that helps travelers navigate foreign locations. He continues with “as translation tech improves, though, the benefit will extend way beyond just helping you get around. When translation happens quickly and accurately enough to have a conversation that spans two languages and feels almost natural, we’ll be able to experience places in an entirely new way.” Maybe the technology will evolve to better enable conversation between two people speaking the same language but using different dialects. For example, I was surprised by how many times I did not quite get what a British person was saying to me during my recent vacation to London. Eventually, of course, translator microbes will solve all of our problems :).