Around the Web

What the present will have been

  • In an op-ed in the WaPo, philosopher Anthony Kwame Appiah looks to the past and observes that whereas certain practices such as slavery were considered acceptable, today they seem reprehensible. And past critiques of social behavior such as prohibition can be interpreted in the present as misguided. Which of our own contemporary practices then will be condemned by those in the future?

U.S. economy and housing: Routes and roots

  • Folks living out of cars and RV’s along Venice Beach are being turned out of their parking spots by LAPD. To the claim that a bohemian homeless crowd is drawn to Venice because its cool to live out of your car, UCLA law professor Gary Blasi says, “The idea of carefree vagabonds is statistically false. More often, these are people who lived in apartments in Venice before they lived in R.V.’s. The reason for losing housing is usually the loss of a job or some health care crisis.”
  • Debate continues on the root causes of the ongoing U.S. housing crisis with complex financial instruments, regulatory incompetence and corruption, political ideology, and good old fashioned greed all offering themselves as potential culprits. Add to that now institutional racism, according to new study put out by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, which finds that “residential segregation created a niche of minority clients who were marketed risky subprime loans.”

Race and demography

  • If you haven’t already seen this Flickr set of maps of major U.S. cities illustrating residential segregation as recorded by census data take a long break and flip through them. There’s 103 to view, so if you want to get the main points in digest form check out Gawker or Sociological Images.

Criminal justice

  • A report from the NYU law school reveals that of the 15 states with the largest inmate populations, 13 of them charge the poor for use of public defenders. Such fees are considered an important source of revenue for cash strapped state justice systems and are on the rise. “In Michigan, the report says, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association found the ‘threat’ of having to pay the full cost of assigned counsel caused misdemeanor defendants to waive their right to attorneys 95% of the time.”
  • Retired Justice John Paul Stevens said in interview with NPR that the “one vote I would change” was the 1976 vote he cast to restore the death penalty.

Hey, hey! We’re the monkeys!

  • At the Commonwealth Games, held this year in New Delhi, India, langur monkeys are being used by event security at several venues to keep other, smaller primates in check.
  • Remember “Ida”? While the media hype over the Darwinius fossil has subsided, the debate over its taxonomy continues. Laelaps, the evolution blog at Wired, provides a synopsis and links to Zinjanthropus for a second opinion.
  • Greg Graffin, of Bad Religion now a lecturer at UCLA, on evolution and punk rock.

Ground Zero mosque will look totally trippy

  • Try this experiment. If you type the word “Ground” into Google the third suggested search is Ground Zero Mosque (right behind Ground Beef Recipe). I originally did this because I couldn’t think of what the proper name of the place is, GZM having been seared into my brain the mass media. The proper name is, thank you Wikipedia, Park51. It will be amazing to behold.

Teaching resources



Seen something around the web that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds community? Drop me an email at mdthomps AT

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is Project Cataloger at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and currently working on a CLIR ‘hidden collections’ grant to describe the museum’s collection of early 20th Century photography. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in information science from the University of Tennessee.

2 thoughts on “Around the Web

  1. Wow, sooo many great observations here.
    I’m going to hit up the first and second points.

    First, there’s a part of me that expects people will look back at our current netscape, and think of it as a very dangerous place — perhaps the same way we think of the American “wild west.” Because the internet is new, as was the American west, there aren’t very many laws regarding it nor is there any good law enforcement. If that changes in the future, and the long arm of the law finally makes it way online, then people in the future might think of our internet as a place where hackers stole your identity, and where pornography or local hookups were just a mouse click away.

    Second, a few years ago, I met a band of roving teens and twenty-somethings living in a yellow school bus. They called it “Bernard.” They had gutted and redecorated its insides, and made the engine run on waste oil from restaurants. So, while I’m sure plenty have forced to live-out-of-their-trunk by the employment crisis, I’m equally sure that some people are adapting to make the absolute best out of it.

    Oh, also?
    So hey, I snuck into Perneb’s tomb with my girlfriend, hid from security, and photoed ancient egyptian grave statues. That said, it was a lot less disrespectful than it sounds. Any thoughts from you archaeo-anthropologists out there?

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