Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No eclipse of ethnocentrism at CNN

"Solar eclipse scares Indian mothers-to-be. While many now recognize the scientific explanation for a solar eclipse, the phenomenon is still marked with tradition and sometimes suspicion in Hindu-majority India."
That's how a story about the solar eclipse (happening right now) on the front page of CNN.com's "World News" section starts out.

What the folks over at CNN evidently don't know is that in the year 500 AD, when Europe was descending into the Dark Ages as a direct result of the "triumph" of Christianity, the Hindu astronomer Aryabhata correctly explained the causes of lunar and solar eclipses in his Sanskrit language astronomical treatise Aryabhatiya, written when he was all of 23 years old.

The article at CNN never mentions the long history of astronomy and mathematics in India, let alone the specific achievements of Aryabhata. But they do tell us all about the impact the eclipse will supposedly have on beggars

Charges dropped against Gates

According to a story in the Baltimore Sun, all charges have been dropped against Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates. A story is also now up at CNN.com saying that the charges have been dropped and that "the city's police department recommended that the matter not be pursued."

Gates was arrested on his own front porch on Thursday and charged with disorderly conduct. Police had arrived in answer to a neighbor's call about "two Black men". Gates is Black, and so is the cab driver who was dropping Gates off from the airport (he had just returned from a trip to China). Reports vary about what exactly prompted the call to police, but apparently Gates' front door was stuck and wouldn't open, so he went around to his back door and got in with a key, and then he and the cab driver tried to get the front door unstuck.

Fellow Harvard professor Lawrence Bobo writes at TheRoot.Com:
Ain’t nothing post-racial about the United States of America.

I say this because my best friend, a well-known, middle-aged, affluent, black man, was arrested on his own front porch after showing his identification to a white police officer who was responding to a burglary call. Though the officer quickly determined that my friend was the rightful resident of the house and knew by then that there was no burglary in progress, he decided to place my friend in handcuffs, put him in the back of a police cruiser and have him fingerprinted and fully “processed,” at our local police station.

This did not happen at night. It happened in the middle of the day. It did not happen to a previously unknown urban black male. It happened to internationally known, 58-year-old Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. I am writing about this event because it is an outrage, because I want others to know that it is an outrage, and because, even now, I have not fully processed the meaning of it.
Follow the link to read the whole story.