The New Bigotry in America

Question: What brand-new problems have arisen for African-Americans in the past decade?

Ben Jealous: Sure.  I mean, since September 11th, for blacks and for whites, there have become new pernicious forms of employment discrimination.  And in the wake of September 11th, there were stories about ex-felons working in baggage claim at airports.  And the response was, first by the companies that produce the sort of job applications for low level public jobs.  And then throughout private industry was to put a check box on the front of the job application that says, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime."  Well, as you might imagine, when you're a hiring manager and the box is checked, it just goes right in the trash.  We literally changed hundreds of years of tradition in this country where people were only asked that question in a job interview.  Once a company decided that they were interested in them, and then they were able to explain themselves.  And we put it on the application, where it just goes in the trash.  And you discouraged people from applying and you typically preclude them from being considered. 

Now, in this country, it's harder for a black man with no criminal record to find a job than a white man with a criminal record, which is to say that race is actually a bigger factor than ex-felon status.  But if you're both, it's almost impossible to find a job.  And that's an area that we've been really working on very intently.  As we've been working on this issue, what's come to our attention is that credit scores are being used in much of the same way.  Imagine, the middle of a recession, our employers across the country have increasingly begun to use credit scores to determine whether or not they hire somebody.  I mean, it would be a joke if it wasn't so serious, right?  It's absolutely the opposite thing of what you do.  Take a country of people who are in financial distress, the ones who are most in financially distressed are the ones that are least likely for us to hire them.   

And so we have found ourselves fighting on new fronts, on still carrying the banner for racial equality, but also understanding that in the 21st century we have to fight for simply human equality as well.  And that really, for the NAACP, people don’t realize, you know we weren't founded like so many groups after like the Black Power Movement, or the Chicano Power Movements.  We were founded in 1909 on the hundredth birthday of President Lincoln.  And our dream has always been to manifest his dream, that this be one country where all people are treated with equality and dignity and have the ability for the children to be raised with hope and for the children to have the opportunity to gain prosperity.

Recorded March 10th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

As old forms of discrimination disappear, new ones arise. The NAACP president describes an injustice that’s hitting particularly hard during the recession.

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First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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