Calling on the lazyweb

by Henry Farrell on January 13, 2006

I’m updating the syllabus for my Politics of the Internet course, and looking, as I have been looking since I began teaching it, for an academic article/policy paper that makes the case _against_ filesharing and P2P services. There are plenty of articulate pieces written by pro-P2P types, but nothing from the other side, apart from RIAA press releases. When I’m teaching a controversial topic, I like to have good pieces written by people on both sides. Anyone have any pointers?

Friday fun thread: Dessert evangelism

by Ted on January 13, 2006

I made this last week, from Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way, and it was more crazy delicious than Mr. Pibb + Red Vines. The sweet-tart raspberries and the melted chocolate go together beautifully. The recipe is very fast, very easy, and it doesn’t get much of your stuff dirty. You do, however, need little oven-safe ramekins or custard cups. They’re not hard to find, though; I bought a pack of four 10-ounce Pyrex dessert cups at the supermarket for $8.

Commenters, have you got a dessert for which you’d like to testify?

Chocolate-Raspberry Gratin

Serves 2

1 cup frozen raspberries
4 store-bought chocolate chip cookies
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries into each cup. Hand-crumble two chocolate chip-cookies over each cup. Sift 1 T sugar over the cookies. Cut up the butter and dot it over the top.

Bake for 16-18 minutes; the raspberries should be gently bubbling and the top should be a little browned. Let cool until warm, then serve with a dollop of sour cream if you have it.

UNRELATED UPDATE: As long as I’m Fun Threading, please enjoy: A Selection From George W. Bush’s Eavesdropping Tapes: Matthew Barney and Björk Place an Ikea Phone Order.

Tommie Shelby

by Jon Mandle on January 13, 2006

When the eminent sociologist Orlando Patterson says that someone is “a sparkling new talent with all the boldness and intellectual self-assurance necessary” to pursue “critical reflections on African-American identity”, it makes sense to pay attention. This is how he describes Tommie Shelby in his review of Shelby’s new book, We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity. (Shelby and I went to graduate school together.)

Here’s Patterson’s description of the book:

Although black Americans have led the way in practical matters, insightful theoretical reflections on identity politics are still wanting. Shelby’s “We Who Are Dark” is respectful of such politics, but severely critical as well. His book contests the movement’s central claims at a level of sociophilosophical sophistication that one rarely encounters….

He maintains that the black power call to collective action based on exclusive black organizations is now inappropriate because of the economic and regional heterogeneity of the black population. It is also, he says, politically counterproductive since it risks alienating badly needed progressive allies among the nonblack population….

Shelby’s powerful critique of black cultural particularism incorporates and supersedes all previous discussions of the subject. He identifies eight basic tenets of this tradition: blacks have a distinctive culture; they should collectively and consciously reclaim that culture; they should take pride in conserving and reproducing it; unlike white culture, it provides a valuable foundation for their individual and communal identities; it is an emancipatory tool in resisting white hegemony, providing an alternate set of ideals to live by; it should be accorded public recognition by the state; blacks, as the main producers of this culture, should benefit from it in financial and other ways; and as “owners” of this culture, blacks should be the foremost authorities and interpreters of it.

We hear these arguments all the time, sometimes subtly, often crudely. Most non-blacks are either contemptuous of them or quietly dumbfounded. Many simply turn a blindly patronizing eye. Shelby takes the arguments seriously, and meticulously demolishes them all. He does not deny that there are distinctive forms of Afro-American culture. Far from it. His concern, rather, is with the ways black spokesmen think about this heritage and the chauvinistic claims commonly made about it, beginning with the questionable view that being black means one is, or ought to be, culturally black….

What is needed, Shelby says, is a pragmatic nationalism that encourages “individual blacks to maintain solidarity with one another regardless of the racial composition of the political organizations in which each participates.” Solidarity of this sort – identification, special concern, loyalty and trust – has to be black rather than part of a wider program of color-blind liberal or radical reform, because blacks suffered a unique history of injustice under slavery and Jim Crow, and continue to do so through patterns of institutional discrimination and more subtle forms of personal racism. But it cannot be too black, since this risks entrapment in the manifold errors of thick identity. And it has to be thin because blacks have got to come to terms with the fact that most of the socioeconomic challenges they face in modern America have little to do with their blackness. Yet it cannot be too thin, or it becomes mere shallow rhetoric.

Frankly, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him – a thoughtful and insightful book written for grown-ups.