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Life In The Post-Employment Economy

Post Employment

The Article: Surviving the post-employment economy by Sarah Kendzior in Al Jazeera.

The Text: A lawyer. A computer scientist. A military analyst. A teacher.

What do these people have in common? They are trained professionals who cannot find full-time jobs. Since 2008, they have been tenuously employed – working one-year contracts, consulting on the side, hustling to survive. They spent thousands on undergraduate and graduate training to avoid that hustle. They eschewed dreams – journalism, art, entertainment – for safer bets, only to discover that the safest bet is that your job will be contingent and disposable.

Unemployed graduates are told that their predicament is their own fault. They should have chosen a more “practical” major, like science or engineering, and stayed away from the fickle and loathsome humanities. The reality is that, in the “jobless recovery”, nearly every sector of the economy has been decimated. Companies have turned permanent jobs into contingency labour, and entry-level positions into unpaid internships.

Changing your major will not change a broken economy.

People devalued

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Why Stephen Colbert Was Great For Science

Colbert Tyson

The Article: Stephen Colbert Is the Best Source of Science on TV by David Schiffman in Slate.

The Text: David Letterman announced last week that he will soon be retiring from The Late Show after hosting for more than 30 years, and CBS has confirmed that Stephen Colbert will replace him. While switching from The Colbert Report to The Late Show will be a huge career advancement for the comedian and TV show host, it could be a big loss for television coverage of science.

Stephen Colbert is one of the only news or faux-news anchors to regularly cover scientific discoveries and interview scientists. “The Colbert Report has certainly been one of the best television programs ever for showcasing scientists—and I don’t just mean ‘for a comedy talk show,’” says science comedian Brian Malow. He points out that the guest who has made the most appearances is Neil deGrasse Tyson. “More than any movie star! And Tyson isn’t even the only physicist he’s featured!”

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Is Gay Marriage Opposition Really Like Racism?

Gay Marriage

The Article: Why Gay-Marriage Opponents Should Not Be Treated Like Racists by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

The Text: Liberals generally think of themselves as proponents of tolerance, pluralism, and diversity. Some liberals are also eager to stigmatize and punish opponents of gay marriage. Is that a betrayal of their values? If so, these liberals tend to argue, it is no more problematic than the decision to exclude white supremacists from polite society. As an email correspondent put it, if you object to a boycott against a tech company whose CEO gave $1,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign, “I guess you find the Montgomery Bus Boycott objectionable as well. If not, you might want to come up with a better rationalization for why you’ve chosen to give aid and comfort to those who would deprive gay people of basic rights available to others.”

In Slate, Will Oremus made a stronger version of the argument. “The notion that your political views shouldn’t affect your employment is a persuasive one. Where would we be as a democracy if Republicans were barred from jobs at Democrat-led companies, or vice versa?” he wrote. “But this is different. Opposing gay marriage in America today is not akin to opposing tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan. It’s more akin to opposing interracial marriage: It bespeaks a conviction that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others.”

Oremus and I agree on the following:

A person’s political views generally shouldn’t be held against them in other realms.
The general wisdom of that standard doesn’t mean that it holds in every case. (If someone sponsored a ballot measure to expel all Jews or Muslims or blacks or whites or gays from California, for example, stigma would be justified and I’d object to putting that person into a position of societal power.)

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Dear World, Please Shut Up About Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones

The Article: PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT ‘GAME OF THRONES’ by Clive Martin in Vice.

The Text: Earlier this week, Games of Thrones—the thing that people on the internet now love more than anything else in the whole world—returned for another season. For some reason, it’s a show that people have only ever felt comfortable describing to me IRL in alliterative HBO comparisons: “The Wire with wizards,” “The Sopranos with swords,” and so on. I haven’t watched it yet, and to be honest, I probably never will.

And it’s not because I don’t have HBO Go, or because every time I’ve tried to torrent something I’ve just ended up with a frozen download bar and tons of pop-up ads for dick pills. It’s because I have an innate aversion to anything that can be described as “fantasy.”

We all know the clichés of the fantasy fan: the Games Workshop employee who sighs when children don’t know how to play the game properly. The people who found their cultural Garden of Eden in the graphic-novels section of Borders some time in the late 90s. Their cultural trajectory took them from Redwall to Red Dwarf to Reddit, and now they argue loudly in small-town bars about how Bruce Lee died. They hate fashion in all its forms, yet they yearn to look different. To get around this, all of their clothing must refer to something else. Be it an oversize Alan Moore–style amulet or one of those “Afraid of the dark, Lagerboy?” T-shirts.

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Mississippi’s Fucked Up Sex-Ed Curriculum

anti-gay-protest

The Article: Mississippi’s Sex-Ed Classes Teach Kids That Homosexuality Is Illegal, Even Though It Isn’t by Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.

The Text: Mississippi’s sex-ed curriculum is not notable for its progressive nature. But one thing you can’t say about the Magnolia State is that it follows the advice of some conservative parents who want schools to totally ignore homosexuality. In fact, state law mandates that the subject be discussed, at least briefly: Students are to be told that homosexual activity is illegal.

Mississippi, whose governor just signed a noxious anti-gay bill, is not the only state with such a clause in its sex ed curriculum. Neighboring Alabama requires that instructors teach that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense.” In fact, the Supreme Court rendered all state laws against gay sex unenforceable in 2003, when it struck down an anti-sodomy law in Texas.

mississippi-sex-ed

In Mississippi, the gay-sex-is-illegal mandate is among the less-noticed aspects of a sex-ed curriculum that has seen a fair amount of controversy lately. A Los Angeles Times story last week, by Alena Semuels, focused on the challenges of teaching sexual education in a place where so many communities oppose it—even though the teen pregnancy rate is among highest in the nation. Since 2012, Mississippi has mandated that all districts must now offer some kind of sex ed. But, by law, the basis for the curriculum is abstinence. Classes are supposed to make clear that “a mutually faithful, monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.” The only question is whether classes also include basic information about things like birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. The state leaves that decision, between “abstinence-only” and “abstinence-plus,” to the school districts—although 12 percent have opted not to teach any kind of sex ed at all, in apparent defiance of the law.

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