Gary Kamiya, at Salon, thinks so and I agree. Obama has said virtually nothing about race in his first 100 days and I, for one, am glad he both chose not to and wasn't forced to by events. The simple existence of that magical family in the White House, with all our sappiness about Michelle's clothes and the new puppy, has given us all a chance to exhale. It's given us all a chance to be hopeful that we really are on the path, however potholed, to color blindness.

New poll data show that:

"two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July... ."

Big, big improvement. Follow up interviews make it plain that Obama is the reason Americans have gone all kumbayah. But Kamiya gets it right when he muses that:

...it also seems to me that a big part of the reason that Americans are feeling better about race is because of how Obama has handled the subject -- or rather, not handled it. Obama has assiduously avoided the subject of race. His silence has allowed his actions and character to take center stage, rather than the color of his skin. We are a country used to talking endlessly about race but not doing anything about it. Obama is doing exactly the opposite. He is not talking about race, but that very fact, combined with his high popularity, has advanced racial harmony more than any utterance could do. His silence sends exactly the right message, the message preached by Jesus, Martin Luther King and every other apostle of human equality: The accidents of race, ethnicity gender and class do not define us.

It's maddening that minorities are still forced to go on reassuring whites that, once in power, we don't immediately don dashikis and commence to getting even. It's also necessary. No doubt Obama will smack headfirst into race before much longer. Here's hoping his instincts remain as finely honed when he does.

(And when he is ready 'to go there,' I vote for this symbolic act.)

Just because you're unemployed and facing a retirement in gut-wrenching poverty doesn't mean you don't deserve a vacation. Pack the Igloo with bologna sandwiches and take the kids to learn more about how we got ourselves into this mess.

1. The Museum of American Finance, New York—The nation's only museum dedicated to "celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and the democratic free market." Admission includes willing suspension of disbelief.  Please check explosives at the door. And for $37, buy "Look Out Wall Street! The Stock Market Board Game," probably the safest way to play the market these days.

2. The Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa—Visitors learn the difference between a hobo and a bum, along with tips on evading railroad police and building a bindle. The annual Hobo Convention is held the second weekend in August.  Be careful riding the rails to town, or you'll end up in the Hobo Cemetery.

According to PEW, via CNN, the more religious you are, the more you dig torture:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey...More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Itals definitely mine!

Let's hear it for us godless ones!

Courtesy Harvard Medical LibraryCourtesy Harvard Medical LibraryAn exhibit at the Center for the History of Medicine doesn't sound like a good date night, but this piece in Harvard Magazine turned me on to one Dr. John C. Rock, the longtime Harvard Medical School gynecologist who pioneered hormonal birth control in the early 1950s and pushed for the FDA to approve the Pill in 1960—a development that did make for some good date nights.

Prior to that, the article notes, Rock would have given patients at his Rhythm Clinic the "scientific prediction dial" or, later, the Rythmeter (above). Back then, the rhythm method was the only legal form of contraception in Massachusetts. (Feb. 2012 update: Now, apparently, it's the only method religious conservatives want your health insurance to cover.)

Mainly, I just liked this gizmo. Probably required a Ph.D. to use the damn thing.

If you're like me, you think the Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves vehicle Point Break is one of the better things to happen to 1991. And if you're like me, you have a suspicion that the production could somehow be even better were it performed live by young, yelly guys who never, ever put shirts on and a totally unpracticed Johnny Utah lead who is chosen from the audience and reads his lines off cue cards. Well, you're right on both accounts.

Point Break Live! debuted in Seattle in 2003, but two cities in California are lucky enough to be hosting its current runs. The LA show opened for what was supposed to be a couple of months in 2007 and is still going due to popular demand; San Francisco has brought the show back after a successful go last year. It's been to New York and Minneapolis and Las Vegas, and according to coproducer Thomas Blake, Nightline is soon to run a segment about how PBL! could change the face of theater. Let's hope that's true. Take, for example, this conversation I had with one of the actors after the show: 
 

By now, the profound idiocy of the White House Military Office's decision to stage a terrifying photo op for an Air Force One jet over New York City on Monday has been widely, and rightly, condemned. However, I haven't heard anyone offer any proactive, money-saving solutions... until now! Esteemed employees of our federal government, please allow me, your comically named Mother Jones contributor, to acquaint you with a magical, spell-casting piece of computer wizardry called Photoshop. With Photoshop, anything can be anywhere, at any time! Skeptical? Well, just take a look at some examples after the jump!

So far this week, I've been trying to ignore all the Miss California, Perez Hilton hoo-ha. But now there's news that Miss California Carrie Prejean, of "opposite marriage" fame, is going to star in a new ad by the National Organization for Marriage. The ad will be titled "No Offense." Which is ironic, really, because almost anytime someone prefaces a statement with "I'm not a racist, but..." or "No offense to anyone out there, but..." you can be sure they're about to say something racist or offensive.

Thus far, Prejean has depicted herself as a victim; a brave, strong, surgically enhanced victim persecuted for her religious views. NOM's breathy press release says that despite Prejean being "attacked viciously," the Miss USA contestant has "inspired a whole nation" by having the "courage" to speak up about her conservative Christian values. This victim stance is perfectly consistent with NOM's previous ad, "A Gathering Storm," in which Christians are threatened by cloudy gay skies and flashes of gay marriage lightening. I can't wait for the parodies of "No Offense." Giant Gay-Repellent Umbrella, anyone?

No wonder the world hates lawyers (wrote the blogger with a J.D.).

The Times is reporting that the court threw outRoy Den Hollander's suit against Columbia University for—get this—offering Women's Studies. Weirdly, the court rejected his brilliant argument that feminism is religion:

"Feminism is no more a religion than physics," the judge wrote, "and at least the core of the complaint therefore is frivolous."...The judge also disagreed with Mr. Den Hollander's claim that the judge should have recused himself from the suit because he attended Columbia.
Mr. Den Hollander, who had claimed that offering a course of study about one gender violated Title IX and the Constitution, assailed the judge as a feminist and said, "The only thing frivolous and absurd is men looking for justice in the courts of America."
"When it comes to men's rights, judges act with an arrogance of power, ignorance of the law and fear of the feminists," he said.

You have to check this guy's website to get the full crazy. I have the feeling that he one of 'those guys' who sees a beautiful woman...and gets very, very angry. 

Q&A: Adam Freeland

While he may not be a household name, Adam Freeland is a legend in the world of electronic music. He's one of a handful of producers who can legitimately be credited with, if not wholly inventing, at least bringing to the foreground an entirely new genre: a darker, smarter strain of breakbeat music called "nu skool breaks." Moreover, his music has often been politically outspoken, and with his eponymous band, he bridges the gap between rock and dance. I talked with him backstage at the Coachella festival about the changing political scene as well as his upcoming album.

Via HuffPo comes a study that confirms one thing we already knew—Stephen Colbert is totally hilarious—but also points out something surprising: both conservatives and liberals think he's on their side. According to an Ohio State University study, The Colbert Report is like a political Rorschach text, and you see what you want to see in it:

...Individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism.

Proof that we live in different worlds came just last week when the National Organization for Marriage (nom nom nom!!) thanked Colbert for his parody of their insane "Gathering Storm" anti-gay marriage spot. NOM president Maggie Gallagher actually said "I've always thought Colbert was a double-agent, pretending to pretend to be a conservative, to pull one over Hollywood." Wow. Really? Well, I guess if you think gay marriage is a scary lightning storm, coming to take away your rights, your brain is full of neat ideas.