links for 2010-06-16

  • "When Friends first decided to offer Arabic two years ago, as I wrote in a column at the time, the decision was surprisingly unusual. Only a few New York schools teach the language, most of them places with large Arab-American populations (SAR Academy in Riverdale, an Orthodox Jewish day school, is one exception). At the time, the decision by Friends inspired anxious queries from parents concerned that just offering the language was something of a political statement, and possibly an anti-Israeli one. Many of the students said they found their choice to study the language interpreted the same way. When a friend’s grandmother learned that Mr. Smith-Stevens, who is half Jewish, was studying Arabic, she asked him whether he was ashamed of his heritage."
  • "[T]he lack of diversity in prime-time network television can't just be blamed on consolidation or on benign neglect by advertisers. The growth of cable and a 500-channel universe that tries to offer something for everyone are also part of the problem. There are Oxygen, Lifetime and We for women and BET and TV One aimed at African American viewers.

    On the one hand, having niche channels is good, as it allows a diverse public to find shows aimed at individual interests.

    On the other, it lets the big networks off the hook when it comes to making shows for people outside the 18-49 upper-income demographics they traditionally target. And from a sociological standpoint, if everyone is watching their own channels, the common interests and common ground that we should all embrace gets lost. "

  • "Black students are more than three times less likely to be awarded a first-class university degree than their white classmates, a major study has revealed.

    Researchers tracked all students who were born in the UK and took full-time degrees between 2002 and 2006. They found that just 3.5% of those who were black achieved a first, compared with 11% of those who were white.

    Just over 5% of the students of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin obtained firsts, while almost 9% of those from Chinese families did."

  • "Over the years, certain members of each group began to resent the other. Many Kyrgyz view the Uzbeks as being motivated exclusively by money and suspect that the Uzbeks have made their fortunes swindling the inexperienced Kyrgyz. The word sart, a common anti-Uzbek epithet, refers to a group of urbanites renowned for their financial cunning. It can also be interpreted to mean "yellow dog." (It's a bit of a confusing slur, since Kyrgyz are phenotypically more similar to East Asians, while Uzbeks tend to look more like Russians or Persians.*)

    The Uzbeks, for their part, complained of unequal treatment at the hands of the Soviet-era local Kyrgyz government. There were very few Uzbek-language schools, and the government often nationalized Uzbek farmland and used it to build housing for Kyrgyz highlanders moving into the lowlands."