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Archive for the ‘2003’ Category

why_are_all_the_black_kids_sitting_together_in_the_cafeteria1Beverly Tatum is a child psychologist who wrote “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” (2003, updated). Despite the title it is not about self-segregation – though she does answer that question. It is about how race affects growing up in America.

Being black herself, her main concern is black children and that is where the book shines, but she covers the other races too: white, Asian, Hispanic (counts as a race in this book) and even Native American and Middle Easterners (who are becoming racialized as a dangerous other). She covers biracial or mixed race children too. Even if you are “Other” it is worth reading because it turns out that what matters most is whether or not you are white.

She lays out the stage models that psychologists have come up with for how people of different races come to terms with their own colour. Some models are more solid and worked out than others. She points out their limits. She does not assume a background in psychology or act as if these models are the way, the truth and the light – just the best working answers by those who study such things.

The black stage model is the one that is most worked out and best supported by studies. It is surprisingly good:  you see how the things in your life that you thought were just accidents (like how some white friends from grade school fall away in middle school for no apparent reason) or just you (a sudden, consuming interest in black authors at a particular age) are not chance events but follow a particular pattern driven by race.

The white stage model seemed like something from another world. I am surprised anyone worked it out, to tell you the truth, since whites seem to think of themselves as raceless, as if their race does not affect them. But in any case, that model is next to useless anyway because few whites get beyond stage one – the stage where they think they are colour-blind and that America is fair. But it does show you how hard it is for a white person to shake his racism and self-delusion. It is way harder than you think – more like a fish swimming up stream, say,  than some blinding moment of enlightenment.

Note that the models only apply to those who grew up after 1970, after the civil rights movement. They apply best to those who go to mixed-race government schools since they are the most studied.

Even if you do not have children, it is still good to read if you want to understand how race shapes people in America and what it might take for it to become truly post-racial.

But, as it turns out, that is just why some people do not like the book. They think racism is over. They say Tatum sees race in everything and is making it worse. But that is just what you would expect from stage-one whites!

See also:

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

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TV Tropes

lampshade_logo_blueTV Tropes (2003- ) is a website (tvtropes.org) that talks about tropes on television shows and in other works of fiction. A trope is a story element that you see over and over again – like Black Best Friends, Impossibly Cool Clothes, Conveyor Belts O Doom, Lampshades and Mary Sues. It started out as a website about the American television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) but then grew to take in all works of fiction. After all, many of the cheap plot tricks and sorts of characters you see in “Buffy” are as old as dirt.

Like YouTube, it is a form of Internet crack: it is hard to let go – just one more! – but then the next thing you know your clock is saying two in the morning.

It makes you laugh but it also opens your eyes. It talks about all the things you have seen on television over and over again but never had a name for. Like how evil geniuses never just shoot the hero dead but have some overly long way of killing him that is not properly watched over or guarded (Death Trap). Or how showdowns always seem to take place inside dangerous buildings with bad railing (No OSHA Compliance).

It is a wiki, which means anyone can add to it. But unlike the Wikipedia, it is run by some people who do not take themselves too seriously and still have a sense of humour. Nor do they judge what is “notable” and what is not. And it is cool enough to quote the Uncyclopedia.

Most entries name a trope, give a description followed by a list of examples – from television, film, video games, anime, books, etc. Or it can be the other way round: a work of fiction with a list of tropes that it uses.

It covers not just American and British media but Japanese media too. You can find out why the Japanese draw characters with big round eyes and blue hair, for example. And what the Japanese word is for the part of a schoolgirl’s thigh that shows just below her skirt. It is also surprisingly good (but not great) on racism in American media.

I first saw the website two years ago but then got a new computer and lost the bookmark. I found it again the other night when I was trying to find out the word for the trope where the hero is white even though everyone else in the story is not (Mighty Whitey).

Some of the stuff you already knew, like Black Dude Dies First or Not Too Black, but other stuff you did not – like how television stations in the American South used to cut out scenes with black characters (unless the characters played to stereotype, of course).

Because you will know too much about the cheap tricks that writers use to make a story good, they say you will not be able to enjoy television quite the same way again.

See also:

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missingRomona Moore (c. 1982-2003) was a student at Hunter College who lived on Remsen Avenue in Canarsie in Brooklyn, New York. One night she left to go to Burger King  and never came back.

On her way there, a few blocks from her house,  a man pulled her off the street and took her down to his basement where he and his friend beat her up and raped her.  Repeatedly. They took off her clothes and put her in chains. They sodomized her and tried to saw off her hands and feet. They beat her face with a hammer, they cut the webbing between her fingers. This went on for four days.

They checked the news: no word of her missing. They were upset.

They kept her under a big piece of plastic. One day when a friend dropped by they said, “Say hi, bitch,” and pulled back the plastic to show her. Their friend talked to her. Afterwards he went to a baby shower and then drove back home to Maryland. He never told the police.

She became too “feisty” so they beat her to death and put her in a crate. They found another woman and started on her.

When she did not return from Burger King her mother worried. The next morning she called the police. They said, “She’s 21. We’re not supposed to take the report.” But they did anyway and told her to call that night.

She did, but they said, “”Lady, why are you calling here? Your daughter is 21. These officers should not have taken the report in the first place.” They closed the case the next morning.

aronovJust two months before Svetlana Aronov, age 44, a rich white woman on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the wife of a doctor, took her dog for a walk and never came back. The next day the police called a press conference and put 24 detectives on it full-time. They went door to door and passed out flyers. They looked through her telephone and bank records, they looked at surveillance tapes of nearby buildings. And so on. They even hired a psychic and a bloodhound. They later found Aronov’s body in the East River.

Moore’s mother, getting no help from the police, called the press. They were not interested either. She made flyers and passed them out. The police would not help her till the fourth day, the day her daughter died: she had called a politician to get on their case.

The detective assigned to the case sometimes would not return calls for days. After spending less time on it than the police had spent looking for that rich white woman’s dog, he gave up.

The next day, the day before Mother’s Day, her body was found – not by the police – under an old ice cream truck just a few blocks from her house.

Her mother is suing the New York police for racism. They say it is a hard thing to prove in court.

See also:

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Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Don’t look back into the sun
Now you know that the time has come
And they said it would never come for you oh oh oh oh

Oh my friend you haven’t changed
You’re looking rough and living strange
And I know you got a taste for it too oh oh oh

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go, oh no
She’ll never forgive you but she won’t let you go, oh no

Don’t look back into the sun
You’ve cast your pearls but now you’re on the run
And all the lies you said, who did you save?

But when they played that song at the Death Disco
It started fast but it ends so slow
And all the time it just reminded me of you

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go (LET ME GO!)
She’ll never forgive you but she wont let you go, oh no.

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Ki Toy Johnson (1983- ) is an American video vixen, best known for being the leading woman in OutKast’s music video, “The Way You Move” (2003). She is the one in the black bikini at the beginning and the end dancing with Big Boi. She has been in King, XXL, Black Men, SSX and Smooth magazines.

She won the Ki Toy Johnson vs Buffie the Body contest put on by XXL. In 2004 her name was put up for Vibe magazine’s Video Vixen award. AskMen.com called her “one of hip hop’s best booty shakers”.

Seeing her can make a man walk again: she says that one man was told by doctors he would never walk again after an accident. But then four years later he saw her in “They Way You Move” and started walking again.

She had a Wikipedia article, but it was removed in June 2007 because she was not “notable” enough.

She has a pretty face, a thick figure and a nice round bottom. She is 5 foot 2 (1.57 m) and 135 pounds (61 kg). Her  measurements are 36-22-36 (91-56-91 cm), giving her a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.61.

She says that what you see is what God blessed her with, maintained through exercise.

Women come up to her all the time and ask how she keeps her figure. She says exercise. She shows them how she does her squats. She says, “Even though you have a big butt, if you don’t do your squats, it’ll sag.”  She exercises five days a week, leaving Wednesday for rest and Sunday for church. She gets up at six in the morning to work out at the gym. On Saturdays she speed-walks five miles round Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Because of her amazing body people wonder if she has ever been a stripper, a hooker or a porn star. She has never been any of those things nor does she ever hope to be. She is nothing like that. She has a degree, goes to church and helps children.

Her bottom grew out before the rest of her body, so in high school she was called Duck Booty.

She has done some acting. She was on a television show with Trina, “With Friends Like These” (2005), which never made it. She was in “Beauty Shop” (2005), starring Queen Latifah, and a few other films. She was also in an ad for Boost Mobile.

She was born in Peoria, Illinois, went to high school in Natick, Massachusetts and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

She got an accounting degree at Clayton State University near Atlanta. She applies her accounting to two companies she owns with boxer Vernon Forrest: First Class Enterprises, a construction company, and Destiny’s Child Inc, which helps those who suffer from autism and schizophrenia to live as independent a life as possible.

She has a 13-year-old foster child.

Her sister has two of Big Boi’s children.

She was once a commentator on WAEC, a Christian talk radio station in Atlanta.

See also:

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My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they’re like,
its better than yours,
damn right its better than yours,
i can teach you,
but i have to charge

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they’re like,
its better than yours,
damn right its better than yours,
i can teach you,
but i have to charge

I know you want it,
the thing that makes me,
what the guys go crazy for.
They lose their minds,
the way i wind,
i think its time

la la-la la la,
warm it up.
lala-lalala,
the boys are waiting

la la-la la la,
warm it up.
lala-lalala,
the boys are waiting

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they’re like,
its better than yours,
damn right its better than yours,
i can teach you,
but i have to charge

i can see youre on it,
you want me to teach the
techniques that freaks these boys,
it can’t be bought,
just know, thieves get caught,
watch if your smart,

la la-la la la,
warm it up,
la la-la la la,
the boys are waiting,

la la-la la la,
warm it up,
la la-la la la,
the boys are waiting,

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they’re like,
its better than yours,
damn right its better than yours,
i can teach you,
but i have to charge

Once you get involved,
everyone will look this way-so,
you must maintain your charm,
same time maintain your halo,
just get the perfect blend,
plus what you have within,
then next his eyes are squint,
then he’s picked up your scent,

lala-lalala,
warm it up,
lala-lalala,
the boys are waiting,

lala-lalala,
warm it up,
lala-lalala,
the boys are waiting,

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they’re like,
its better than yours,
damn right its better than yours,
i can teach you,
but i have to charge

See also:

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Written: 2003
Read: 2007

“Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson is science fiction set in the present day. As Gibson saw much of the future that we are living in now back in the 1980s, it is interesting (and probably a good idea) to see how he reads the present.

When the book came out in 2003 Neil Gaiman said it was Gibson’s best book since “Neuromancer”. The Economist said it was one of the best books on the world power of advertising in the Internet age, even though it is not a business book.

It is part science fiction, part spy thriller. It features the Internet, 9/11, the new Russia ruled by money and crime lords, the London advertising world and a Tokyo that is still the future of mankind.

At the heart of the story is the footage: a film that is put out on the Internet frame by frame, but not necessarily in any particular order.

The main characters, each for reasons of his own, want to find out who is producing the footage. It is a mystery. On the Internet you can be anywhere and nowhere. But the closer they get to the truth, the stranger and more violent the story becomes. There is a reason the footage is a well-guarded secret.

Even though the story takes place in the present day, it is still science fiction.

First, it is science fiction in content: it looks at how science and invention affect society through the what-if power of fiction. In this case, Gibson shows how the new power of the Internet bypasses the old power of countries and armies.

Second, it is science fiction in style:

The characters think the way they do in science fiction: making sense of the world through reason, science and false analogies.

It also makes heavy use of description. While necessary for most science fiction, it is overkill for a story set in the present.

The language too is that of science fiction: his words are those of an engineer, not a poet. For example this:

Nothing at all in the German fridge, so new that its interior smells of cold and long-chain monomers.

and this:

… setting herself for auto-nod.

Yet Gibson does have something of the poet in him, far more than Clarke or Asimov or Niven ever did. This makes some of his description good. He does choose his words with care.

Most of the places in the book Gibson has seen first-hand. He is not imagining: he is reporting. That is why his descriptions seem so true-to-life.

They seem so true-to-life, in fact, that readers thought they could go out and buy the same bomber jacket that the hero wears: a Rickson’s MA-1. Gibson had made that up. But Rickson’s got so many requests that they starting making them! It is not the first time that Gibson’s fiction has become fact.

See also:

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