7 things @ 9 o’clock (12.3)

7 things @ 9 o’clock (12.3) December 3, 2013

1. Emily Graslie’s Brain Scoop is delightful. Graslie’s official title is chief curiosity correspondent for the Field Museum in Chicago, and the enthusiasm she brings to that — her relish for science even at its grisliest — is contagious. It’s hard not to get hooked by a blog that announces things like “Filmed the dissection of this squirrel with a terrible abscess today for an upcoming episode!” with such cheerful excitement — even if dissections and, say, zebra taxidermy aren’t quite your usual cup of tea.

Graslie made waves recently with a video on a slightly different topic — the abusive, sexist crap and bullying that women shouldn’t have to put up with online:

2. Here’s Sarah Jones on Doug Phillips, the Vision Forum, and the way “the Christian patriarchy movement grooms young women for abuse.” And here’s NPR’s Jennifer Ludden with “Five Things You May Not Know About Child Marriage.” Those two pieces have a great deal in common.

3. “This study examines the question of whether infants and children fare better in U.S. states that have the most restrictive abortion laws. Eighteen indicators of infant/child health, family, economic, and educational status are analyzed. The empirical evidence finds that states with the most antiabortion policies are also the same states that have significantly lower indicators of infant/child well-being.” (via Jay Lake)

4. The Christmas lights are up at my house. The eaves in the front are about 40 feet long, so we bought three strands of lights that said they were 13 feet, 8 inches long. That came up about a foot short, so I went back to the store. “Those sometimes run a little short,” said the very nice lady at the store. I bought the next size up — 15 feet 5 inches, it said.

But when I replaced the 1-foot-too-short 13-foot strand with the 15-foot strand it came up two feet too short. I laid them out side by side. Yep, the 15-foot strand was shorter than the 13-foot strand. So I went back to the store, again. “Those sometimes run a little short,” said the very polite lady at the store. Notice how I switched “nice” to “polite” there. That’s the difference.

5. Peter Enns shares the wisdom of Molly Worthen: “Evangelicalism and the anti-intellectual cult of the ‘Christian worldview.'” And see earlier here: “Weltanschauung” and “The ‘biblical worldview’ doesn’t come from the Bible.”

6. Al Mohler chimed in on that mortifying panel of white Christians ignorantly dismissing all rap and Hip-Hop music as incompatible with their white Christianity and their white Jesus. After some throat-clearing bloviation about the doctrinal corruptions of Beethoven’s music, Mohler writes something wise and sensible:

Rap music is not my music. I do not come from a culture in which rap music is the medium of communication and I do not have the ear for it that I have for other forms of music. But I do admire its virtuosity and the hold that is has on so many, for whom it is a first and dominant musical language. … I have no idea how to evaluate any given rap musical expression, but rappers know.

Mohler allows that culture and personal experience shape one’s ability to understand and interpret musical forms. He doesn’t think this is true of our ability to understand and interpret texts — and certainly not scripture — but he at least acknowledges, with a measure of humility, that it is true for music. This limited acknowledgement of limitations is a refreshing change from Mohler. If only he had shown a fraction of that humility before purging his seminary of  non-male, non-white “non-conservative” professors 20 years ago. (Sorry — I just remembered that white evangelicals all agreed to ignore the starkly obvious demographics of Mohler’s purge and to pretend it was, instead, strictly about “liberal” and “conservative” views of scripture. Forget I said anything.)

7. This is from the new Bad Religion album of Christmas Songs (no, really):


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  • Stone_Monkey

    It’s not just single songs, it’s whole musical genres… Rock n’ Roll only became “respectable” when white artists started performing it. Soul and blues became “respectable” once the white kids started buying them. Jazz has a similar story. Hip-hop hasn’t gone that way yet, maybe it’s too “black” at its core; perhaps less separable from its original cultural identifiers, as black urban music, to be properly whitewashed and assimilated.
    Maybe hip-hop, as the perceived province of black urban youth, one of the US biggest group of outsiders, can’t shed its Outsider Art status just yet.

  • mattmcirvin

    I just ordered a (generally not bad) coffee-table book on the history of music as a gift for my niece. It actually arrived when I was visiting her, and I took a look inside.

    It attempted to cover American popular music as well as other forms. And I noticed that it covered black American music pretty well right up to the birth of hip-hop, at which point the coverage became really sparse. I think it mentioned Run-DMC and LL Cool J, but it kind of fell off a cliff after that. No real sense for the way popular music has been transformed across the board by it.

    I think that if I, the whitest square in the world, notice this, they probably had a lacuna of some sort.

  • smrnda

    I find that, occasionally, you get obnoxious white male college students who will play hip-hop in way that’s less about appreciating it and more about cultural appropriation and stereotyping – white male dude-bros who feel more masculine occasionally blasting some hip-hop at a party.

    Worst is that I feel this is why hip-hop and rap music get a bad reputation – many white consumers are consuming it as a way of getting some vicarious ‘street cred’ but have no appreciation for what the music is about and the very different meaning it has within the community that produces it. To them, it’s a way to gawk at a culture as part of some macho posturing ritual.

  • This is the exact premise of the “Jane Roe: Crime Stopper” portion of Freakonomics. The author noted that about 20 years after Ceaușescu’s abortion ban, there was a noticeable crime spike in Romania. I won’t go through all the number-crunching, but he concludes by saying that when women say they don’t feel ready to raise a child properly, we should listen to them.

  • How much of the crime spike was attributed to the worsening economic conditions and how much specifically to the “bulge” of late-teens, particularly those from orphanages?

  • Matri

    Any why would heaven be playing movies that claim to be aimed at saving souls?

    The exact same reason they believe the Antichrist, whose entire purpose of being is to lure the believers away and turn them into unbelievers, will only appear to and preach to the unbelievers.

  • *collapses in laughter*

  • It’s a bit hard for me to summarize, especially as I read the book many years ago. But I managed to find a lot of it online: http://bookre.org/reader?file=253593&pg=22

  • Reading it now. :) That said it seems a little disjointed so I assume the coherent story will make sense after I get through all the hops, skips, and jumps.

  • Jamoche

    Yep, the 15-foot strand was shorter than the 13-foot strand

    That’s something you should send to Consumerist.com

  • SororAyin


  • Shaenon K. Garrity

    I read through to the comments on #3, thinking that surely no one would be in favor of preteen girls being sold to adult men, forcibly impregnated, and beaten. I forgot about the crucial demographic of angry white dudes. Did you know that 12-year-olds in developing countries are “mature for their age” and are totally ready for childbirth and motherhood? And the real problem is that we Westerners coddle our children too much?

    I kid. The real problem is that NPR isn’t reporting on the far more serious oppression faced by men in America. They have it SO HARD.