links for 2010-05-22

  • AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religious freedoms, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items. The new standards were adopted after a final showdown by two 9-5 votes along party lines, after Democrats' and moderate Republicans' efforts to delay a final vote failed. The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to determine what important political events and figures some 4.8 million students will learn about for the next decade.
  • CHICAGO – In her police mug shot, the doe-eyed cartoon heroine with the bowl haircut has a black eye, battered lip and bloody nose. Dora the Explorer's alleged crime? "Illegal Border Crossing Resisting Arrest." The doctored picture, one of several circulating widely in the aftermath of Arizona's controversial new immigration law, may seem harmless, ridiculous or even tasteless. But experts say the pictures and the rhetoric surrounding them online, in newspapers and at public rallies, reveal some Americans' attitudes about race, immigrants and where some of immigration reform debate may be headed.
  • We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a new study out of Britain suggests that most beholders find one thing especially beautiful: a mixed-race face. According to Michael Lewis of Cardiff University's school of psychology, “people whose genetic backgrounds are more diverse are, on average, perceived as more attractive.” Lewis, a senior lecturer at the school, came to this conclusion after asking what he says is the highest-ever number of respondents on the subject to rate more than 1,200 pictures of black, white and mixed-race faces on the basis of physical appeal. In his view, the study proves that Darwin's theory of heterosis – the belief that cross-breeding leads to genetically fitter offspring in the animal world – also applies to humans, who in turn equate fitness with beauty. If that's the case, it also reveals how truly unevolved the fashion industry is…
  • "Bryant confirms what one sensed at the time, that Aaron approached [his goal of 3,000 hits] more as grim chore than joyous mission. To a teenage fan like me, the long siege, spanning several seasons, felt exhausting. Even as I rooted for Aaron, counting each home run, I yearned for it to end, in particular the racist abuse. It was well known that as each fresh trophy was being shipped to Cooperstown, Aaron was hoarding his own, much darker souvenirs, the torrent of hate letters, including no small number, Bryant acerbically reports, “from his fellow Americans, guaranteeing his death should he continue the quest.” That he was pursuing it in Dixie only heightened the pressure. He was given the protection of a “two-man personal security force,” and the F.B.I. kept watch. Three decades later it still pained him, Bryant writes, to recall “how a piece of his life had been taken from him and how it had never come back.” It was one of baseball’s ugliest passages."

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