Colorizing college campuses

Pippert and his researchers looked at more than 10,000 images from college brochures, comparing the racial breakdown of students in the pictures to the colleges’ actual demographics. They found that, overall, the whiter the school, the more diversity depicted in the brochures, especially for certain groups.

“When we looked at African-Americans in those schools that were predominantly white, the actual percentage in those campuses was only about 5 percent of the student body,” he says. “They were photographed at 14.5 percent.” [link]

Oh poop.

On average, donors drop by the laboratory to make two to three deposits a week into the stool bank, Smith said. They are researchers from the broader Harvard and MIT community, and are paid $40 per donation. Smith has even created a kind of informal competition among the donors to see who can make the most generous contributions. So far, the researchers have learned that people with large body mass have something of an advantage, and the trophy so far for largest single deposit—a squatting wrestler—has gone to a person who provided a sample that could be used to treat 10 people. [link]

Bacteria from baby poop can help make delicious sausages, which could transform savory meats into health foods much like probiotic yogurts, according to new research. [link] [original research]

Baby poop sausages definitely sound disgusting. But in reality, they’re not nearly as gross as you’d think based on these sensationalistic news stories. In fact, you have probably already consumed foods or supplements made with a bacterial strain derived from human feces without even knowing it. [link]



Free at last

Using a map of the United States, the site visually charts the precise time and place of “emancipation events” that appeared in newspaper accounts, books, personal papers or official records between 1861 and 1865. Click on any of the red dots scattered across the map and you get a small snapshot of emancipation as a historical process: blacks in Culpeper, Virginia assisting Union troops on July 19, 1862; confederate troops forcibly conscripting blacks in Yazoo City, MS on September 27, 1863; an enslaved man named Wm. P. Rucker escaping in Pittsylvania County, VA on October 27, 1863. And alongside the red dots of “emancipation events,” blue dots illustrate the changing positions of Union troops, a clever overlay of social and military history. Move the time frame backwards or forwards and an entirely new set of “events” appears, coordinated spatially with the movements of troops. [link]

The economics of slavery in three graphs

Labor Income Value of Owning a Slave in 2011 Prices

Economic Status of Owning a Slave in 2011 Prices

Wealth in Slaves in Trillions of 2011 dollars as Measured by the Share of the GDP

Helps explain why the south fought so hard to maintain slavery. All three graphs from “Measuring Slavery in 2011” by Williamson and Cain. Click on the images to go directly to the source document.



Frat life is deadly


If you take alcohol out of the fraternity house, if you make it an alcohol free residence, the number of claims drops by 85 percent and the severity of those claims, the dollar amount of those claims, drops by 95 percent. You show me any other industry that would have a chance to drop the number of claims by 85 percent and the severity by 95 percent by making a single change. If the fraternities are serious about cleaning up their act, that’s the change they need to make and it’s a very painful one. It will probably devastate them, in terms of the numbers of kids who want to join, because pumping the keg is part of being in a fraternity in American culture. But that’s the change that would clean the system up. [link]

UK foreign office is illegally hiding millions of files on slavery

Historic papers about the slave trade are among the enormous cache of public documents that the Foreign Office has unlawfully hoarded in a secret archive, the Guardian has learned.

Some of the papers appear to date back to 1662 and are thought to contain information about England’s involvement in slavery, while others were created in the 19th century and detail British attempts to suppress the trade.

They are contained in a vast archive of 1.2 million files that the Foreign Office has kept at Hanslope Park, a high-security compound that it shares with MI5 and MI6 in the Buckinghamshire countryside north of London…

The scale of the hidden archive is demonstrated by an inventory that the Foreign Office has published, which appears to show that one of the listed items may itself contain 2.9 million documents.understood to occupy around 15 miles of shelving at Hanslope Park, although this is difficult to verify as the Foreign Office says it will not permit members of the media to enter the compound. [link]

President Museveni warns Ugandans that oral sex can cause worms

These remarks were part of his explanation of why he signed anti-gay legislation into law.

Since Western societies do not appreciate politeness, let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders.

One of them is “oral sex”. Our youth should reject this because God designed the human being most appropriately for pleasurable, sustainable and healthy sex. Some of the traditional styles are very pleasurable and healthy. The mouth is not engineered for that purpose except kissing. Besides, it is very unhealthy. People can even contract gonorrhea of the mouth and throat on account of so-called “oral sex”, not to mention worms, hepatitis E, etc. [link]

Nostalgia for racial hegemony past

From Epstein’s puzzling ode to the “The Late, Great American WASP” in the WSJ. He preferred this racial oligarchy, one that excluded him, to the more meritocratic system (yes, he calls it that too) that follows. Published at the end of December, but seemed to go well with Black History Month: 

The U.S. once had an unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics and education, but they do so no longer. The WASPocracy, as I think of it, lost its confidence and, with it, the power and interest to lead. We are now without a ruling class, unless one includes the entity that has come to be known as the meritocracy—presumably an aristocracy of sheer intelligence, men and women trained in the nation’s most prestigious schools.

Under WASP hegemony, corruption, scandal and incompetence in high places weren’t, as now, regular features of public life. Under WASP rule, stability, solidity, gravity and a certain weight and aura of seriousness suffused public life. As a ruling class, today’s new meritocracy has failed to provide the positive qualities that older generations of WASPs provided. [link]


Black Tudors

Most of us tend to think that black people came to Britain after the war – Caribbeans on the Empire Windrush in 1948, Bangladeshis after the 1971 war and Ugandan Asians after Idi Amin’s expulsion in 1972. But, back in Shakespeare’s day, you could have met people from west Africa and even Bengal in the same London streets.

Of course, there were fewer, and they drew antipathy as well as fascination from the Tudor inhabitants, who had never seen black people before. But we know they lived, worked and intermarried, so it is fair to say that Britain’s first black community starts here. [BBC]