Here's what we emailed out the week of May 26, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.
Say cheese! And welcome to jail. This is basically the story of 39-year-old Carl Stewart, a U.K. drug dealer who got caught after posting a photo of a rich, blue cheese online. Police were able to identify him by analyzing the photo for fingerprints on the cheese packaging, leading to Carl’s arrest. He’s being jailed for a little over 13 years. Here’s to hoping things get feta for him...
Texas teachers can no longer discuss racism, white supremacy, or current news
Wed May 12
A new bill passed in Texas aims to, in the words of some Democrats, “whitewash American history” by banning educators from talking about racism, white supremacy, or current news events in the classroom. While the language is carefully written to avoid the word “ban” itself, the bill:
- Prohibits any conversation around current affairs or controversial issues of public policy/social affairs
- Keeps teachers from discussing the concept of superiority in any race, sex, or the idea that any race or sex bears responsibility for actions they committed in the past
- Exempts teachers from bias training if it causes them psychological stress
And this is all a part of a broader nationwide effort by conservative Republicans to stop teaching “critical race theory,” a topic that has exploded in K-12 schools over the past year. This 40-year-old academic concept asserts that racism is a cultural invention for the oppression of people of color and that it is inherent in U.S. legal and social systems. It also asserts that the beneficiaries (White people) are largely uninterested in changing that. Doing away with unfavorable education has roots, too — targeting children is a tactic dating back to the end of the Civil War, when the United Daughters of the Confederacy pressured schools to ban books that they felt shed a negative light on the confederate movement, shaping the current Southern perspective of the Civil War.
Several other states have also been debating bills similar to the Texas legislation.
- While it’s been tabled in New Hampshire, discourse continues in Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
- Meanwhile Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, and South Dakota filed bills in January to cut funding for K-12 schools and colleges that include the 1619 Project in their curriculum. This Pulitzer Prize winning project argues that Black Americans are the foundation of U.S. democracy with extensive multimedia content that reframes the legacy of slavery.
- And in Idaho, House Republicans are refusing to fund the teacher salary budget unless there’s a provision prohibiting schools from advocating for social justice education.
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: HuffPost
- Critical race theory: EducationWeek
- Other state bills: EducationWeek
- Banning 1619 project: USA Today
- UDC rewriting history: Vox
A superfamily of insects are back after 17 years
Tue May 18
Hearing weird alarms in your area? It might be insects. After receiving numerous calls, police in Georgia are asking residents to check first that it isn't cicadas, a superfamily of insects that emerge roughly every 17 years. They’re also expected to appear in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Indianapolis.
What exactly happens when cicadas come around? At first, they live underground drinking up the fluid from tree roots. Once that soil reaches 64 °F (18 °C), they emerge all at once in the billions to flood forests, a defense strategy that allows predators such as birds and squirrels to become full enough without eating off the entire population. The remaining insects can then mate and lay eggs for the next generation.
Officials warn these cicadas can produce sounds up to 120 decibels, which can cause hearing loss. Beyond these alarming tunes, cicadas generally benefit the ecosystem. Their surge...
- Bumps the population of bird species by 10%, especially Blue Jays
- Fertilizes the forest floor, allowing plants and trees to grow larger
- Benefits gardens by creating holes in the soil when they emerge that increases aeration and water penetration
- Feeds pets accidentally as a low-fat source of protein
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: Vox
- Cicadas in Georgia: The Hill
- Cicadas across eastern U.S.: CNN
- App for tracking cicadas: Cicada Safari
ASCII OF THE WEEK
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Insect puns bug me.
Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive