Stuff White People Like

I came across this site recently: Stuff White People Like. It is HILARIOUS. Just as an example, here is an excerpt from #91 San Francisco (close to my heart being from the Bay Area):

Much in the way that white people in Brooklyn feel a strong and unfounded connection with The Notorious BIG, white people in San Francisco feel the need to identify with rappers from the East Bay. Interestingly enough, the further they venture from San Francisco, the stronger their need to represent their region.


“Oh man, I went to the show last night. So hyphy man, so hyphy. You should come by some time and we’ll ghost ride the Prius.” When you are presented with statements like this, the best response is to say “Berkeley is close to Oakland,” and the white person will likely nod and throw up some sort of west side hand sign.

Title IX, Properly Understood

As a sort of follow-up to my previous entry on college athletics, a few thoughts on the infamous and badly misunderstood “Title IX.”

(1) “Title IX” is actually part of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It specifies, quite uncontroversially, I hope: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

(2) Although most visible in higher education, Title IX also applies to elementary and secondary schools, as well as to federally-funded education programs in correctional institutions, health care institutions, etc. and to federally-funded programs such as internships and school-to-work.

(3) Although most notable in sports, the original Title IX legislation did not even include a reference to athletics. Rather, the Education Amendments of 1974 called on the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to develop guidelines for the application of nondiscrimination regulations to intercollegiate athletics. But Title IX also — and perhaps more importantly — applies to bands, clubs, health facilities, dorms, dining halls, etc.

(4) I said there were two, but there are actually three tests that are used to determine compliance with nondiscrimination by sex in intercollegiate athletics. According to a 1979 document from the Office for Civil Rights of Office of the Secretary of Housing, Education, and Welfare:

(a) Whether intercollegiate level participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments; or


(b) Where the members of one sex have been and are underrepresented among intercollegiate athletes, whether the institution can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion which is demonstrably responsive to the developing interest and abilities of the members of that sex; or


(c) Where the members of one sex are underrepresented among intercollegiate athletes, and the institution cannot show a continuing practice of program expansion such as that cited above, whether it can be demonstrated that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.

Reasonable people can certainly disagree about whether men and women should receive equal numbers of athletic scholarships for Division I and II athletics. But this is just a small part of the overall purpose of Title IX, just as scholarship-granting intercollegiate athletics is a small part of the overall purpose of colleges and universities.

Considered in the context of the larger purpose of Title IX and higher education generally, I favor a broad interpretation and strong enforcement of these statutes when applied to the very specific case of college sports and scholarships. And I say this as someone whose opportunity to play college baseball was taken away due to cutbacks in men’s sports back in the 1980s. Participation in college sports, for both men and women, is a privilege, not a right. But if we’re going to have them, it is a privilege that should apply equally to men and women.

College Sports — Yay or Nay?

The New York Times last week ran an excellent series of articles on the chase for N.C.A.A. scholarships, the scarcity of athletic aid, and the challenges facing coaches and scholarship athletes

The articles confirmed my uneasiness about “big time college sports.” On the one hand, I am an avid fan of many college sports and like the college athletes who I know from class or campus. On the other hand, I don’t know that I would want any of my children to play sports in college, at least in Divisions I or II. The academic sacrifices seem too great.

The series has articles called “Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships,” “It’s Not an Adventure, It’s a Job” and “Divvying Scholarship Dollars Can Divide a Team,” as well as interesting data on the maximum number of scholarships available per sport and the actual average value of scholarships by sport and gender.

Check it out and see what you think: The Scholarship Divide

Facebook, R.I.P.

A.J. Jacobs, in Esquire magazine, has once again published his year end obituaries. Among the sad deaths he notes for 2007:

The Street Cred of Facebook, at 4

The street cred of Facebook, a popular social-networking site, died Wednesday in St. Louis. It was four years old. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2004, Facebook gained a respectable level of hipness by catering exclusively to college students for several years. The average Facebook page included photos of awkward hugging at the bowling-alley arcade and quotes from Anchorman. It turned seriously ill in 2006 when it became open to anyone from corporate America, and finally expired when Josh Kimberling, a successful optometrist in St. Louis, created a page that included photos of his wife’s dressage horse and a quote from George Will.