A Night of Comedy in India

For me, there is nothing finer than the human spectacle that is an open mic night.  Especially ones at comedy clubs.  For some reason, people who decide to first perform standup at comedy club open mics are usually the craziest open mic performers I’ve ever seen.  And to their credit, they usually don’t last past the 1st year checkpoint to attain quasi-legitimate standup comedian status.

Last night, I performed standup at the Comedy Store in Mumbai.  I was trying to get a guest spot on the weekend, but they said they were full.  Fortunately, they were kind enough to at least put me on the open mic, which, in hindsight, I much preferred. Because I got this story to tell.

Before the show started, the host, Aditi Mittal, explained that this was going to be a competition (which I didn’t realize, so I don’t count this as violating my anti-competition boycott).  We had 4 minutes to perform, at 3:30 there will be a light, then at 4 minutes there will be this alarm noise that will force you to stop.  Interestingly, there was no punishment for going over, as more than half the performers went long.

I’ll say that most of the comedians on the show weren’t that terrible; however, I didn’t see any comedian that was particularly groundbreaking comedically.  I met this guy before the show named Abhimanyu (I think.  He told me his name, and I thought to myself, “I have no idea what word he just said”) who was really nice and friendly, and he was explaining his act is a lot of making fun of his family and the dumb things they say.  He has an aunt who says instead of “Bombay-ites” and “Delhi-ites”, “Bombay-titties” and “Delhi-titties”.  I wanted to press him and ask if that’s actually true, but I thought it’s far too early in the evening to be an asshole.  Abhimanyu, then tells me “you should do jokes about people from Delhi, nobody likes them”.  I asked why, and he said “People laugh at jokes about people from Delhi”.

I was astonished with the first performer who began his act by talking about the recent royal Jubilee, then said “To take from famed Indian comedian Hari Kondabolu, I wish that old bitch would stop wearing my grandmother’s jewelry”.  He is, I believe referring to this joke of Hari’s:

I have a powerpoint that I’ve done occasionally where I explain how to perform comedy, and one of my favorite bits from that is saying “It’s not joke theft, as long as you cite your sources.”  I never realized that that joke would become a reality.

The second comedian of note was introduced as “this man was a failed rapper”.  Before the show, we were all given sheets of paper for the host to read about us as an introduction.  I wrote, “I’m from Boston”, and “this is my first time performing comedy in India”.  One guy just wrote “No” for his introduction.  This guy used the tactic: “I’ll use my introduction to set up my act”.  A tactic, I believe, that 98% of standup hosts hate, especially when the act asks the host to make some joke, which the act then insults during their set.

Failed rapper guy really aught to have been introduced as “guy who’s cool with dropping N-bombs”.  He’s say things like “I don’t understand what the deal is with n*****s and their n***** music”, and “Jay-Z is one of those n*****s who just doesn’t appreciate how good he’s got it, being with Beyonce and all”.  Most Indians are pretty racist, but to their credit, the very warm and forgiving audience sort of quietly booed him as he kept dropping n-bombs.  It’s almost as if the guy came from 1930’s Alabama, and had never heard of “black” or “African-American” as preferential racial epithets.  I wonder if his fondness for hate speech might be why he failed as a rapper.

I went on after another guy who’s name was Harshit, who had a joke about how his name is “shitty” (which I saw coming a mile away).  Harshit kept trying to hit on women in the audience, asking one woman in the audience to hold his hand.  When she did he said, “Does that feel like boyfriend material?”  I sort of enjoyed that joke, even though it was a street joke. It always amuses me to watch new standups try to use the fact that they do comedy to get laid.  While my act has never gotten me laid (as they go part-and-parcel with my self-hatred), a homeless guy who used to attend the Sally O’Brien’s open mic told me he used my Pakistani jokes to get laid all the time.  So, I guess there’s that…

I then was on next, and I was very looking forward to have my name pronounced correctly for the first time, and was completely disheartened to hear the host say, instead of “\`raj\  \`shiv-a-rā-mā\” she said “\`raj\  \shīv-`ā-ra-mān\”.  My apologies, I don’t know how to write pronunciations, but hopefully it’s clear that she didn’t pronounce my name right.  And she’s Indian.  WTF?

I started off my set apologizing for my accent, which got a pretty good response, then tried out a new bit about how I don’t speak Hindi, but everybody expects that I do.  My joke about racism in America, and the metaphysical reality of nachos went over pretty well, then I got the red light, so I just got off after that.  I realized I don’t have a joke that is under 30 seconds that I would want to close my act with.  Which is unfortunate.

After me, there was a guy who was doing one-liners while playing a ukelele.  He destroyed.

Then there was a 15 minute intermission, where I got some food and a Pepsi.  I don’t know what it is, but soft drinks in India are so much better than in America.  I don’t think it’s the sugar vs. high-fructose corn syrup, either; I’ll take Indian Coke over Mexican Coke any day.  During the break, I was feeling pretty good, I had a couple of people come up to me saying I did well.  Then two women were talking to me, and the following exchange happened:

Woman 1: “My friend is doing this in August” (points to friend) “Do you have any advice?”

Me: “Has she ever done this before?”

Woman 1: “No.”

I thought about it for a moment, scratching my chin.

Me: “I’ll give you the best advice I’ve ever heard about standup comedy.”

Woman 1 and 2 are excited.

Me: “It’s two pieces of advice.  Number one, don’t listen to anything anyone tells you…”

Woman 1: (to Woman 2) “You can listen to me”

Me: “Number two. Quit comedy.”

Woman 1 and 2 look at me with disgust.

Woman 1: “It’s that bad, huh?”

Me: “No, you’ve got to put the two pieces of advice together, it makes sense…”

Woman 1 and 2 walk away angrily.

If there was any doubt I was going to come off not being an asshole that evening, that advice eradicated it.

Are Women Funny? Pt. 2

This debate never seems to disappear for some reason among the comedian discourse.  A recent article from the National Post in Canada commenting AGAIN about how women are not funny, this time emphasizing that funny women are considered sexually undesirable.  I’ve already commented about this citing previous literature showing that women ARE funny, we just don’t want them to be as a society (for whatever reasons).  I really am tired of this whole “women are evolved to not be funny” argument, so hopefully this will put it to rest.

One of the papers cited from the article is from Sigal Balshine’s group at MacMaster University (incorrectly cited as being from Eric Bressler.  Even though the graduate student (Eric) probably did all the work, you have to cite the last author, as they’re responsible for conducting the study).  In this study they ask the question “do you prefer to mate with individuals who are funny, or who find you funny?”  Based upon this study, they report that women prefer men who are funny (and also laugh at them), while men only prefer women who laugh at them.

This can be interpreted two ways:

  1. Men don’t like women who are funny.
  2. Men prefer to dominate the humor in a relationship.

So, does this paper answer the question: “Are funny women unattractive?” NO.

The problem with this study is that it creates two realities: one where you (male or female) are dominated by the opposite sex’s humor, and one where you dominate humor over the opposite sex.  What this study says is that women who dominate men by humor are perceived unattractive.

To underline the point I made previously (supported by this paper):

While men want to be funny and not be dominated by a funny woman, women are OK with (if not prefer) being dominated by a funny man.

So, why are there so few female comedians? Because men who think they are funny try to enhance their sexual fitness by performing on stage.  Women don’t see any sexual fitness benefit in performing comedy, so there is less of a desire to do so.  The problem with this argument that funny women are unattractive implies that women who perform comedy are unattractive.  So, I’ve taken a randomly selected list of comedians to see if indeed there is a sexual selection on being a male vs. female comedian:

I took all comedians who lived over 40 years of age and then plotted male vs. female against the percentage of the population (that I examined) that had children.  I then compared that to the national average (these numbers are a little off, but still accurate).

From this chart, we see:

  • Being a comedian REDUCES your sexual selective advantage (based upon percentage with children) compared to the average American.
  • Female comedians have considerably less likelihood of having children than their male counterparts.

Together, I think it makes it pretty clear why there are not many female comedians.  It’s detrimental to their sexual selection.  Women have reduced chances of having children if they’re comedians compared to men or compared to doing anything else. So, it’s really evolutionary biology 101:

  1. All people (in theory) want to have offspring.
  2. Women who perform standup comedy are handicapped from doing so.
  3. Therefore, very few women will perform standup comedy.

Even still, this doesn’t resolve the debate over whether women are funny.  I would argue that appreciation of humor is equivalent to making humor.  So it doesn’t make any sense to say women aren’t funny.  They’re appreciation of humor is equivalent (or proportional) to the quality of the humor that’s generated.  It’s like the old saying “If a guy tells a joke and nobody laughs, is it a joke?”

I’ll give an anecdotal example.  I was talking with a woman (living the dream, guys), and we were complaining about this Moldovan guy who was supposed to meet up with our group, but was wanting to us to go meet him somewhere else.  I said to her “Typical Moldovan”, using a comedic trope of “Typical ________” where you fill in the blank of that racial/ethnic group, for simple racial humor.  She then starts laughing hysterically, and I’m shocked because I didn’t think the joke was that funny (or that she was that racist).  She then says, “I was laughing because Moldova always wanted to be separate from Russia, and he’s acting like that, being separate from the group.”

This is why it’s important to really understand what humor is before we even say which gender is better at it.

So, in conclusion:

  • Women and men are both equally funny (though there is greater expectation on men to be funny). 
  • There is a sexual disadvantage for women to perform live comedy.
  • People need to stop writing stupid articles about the evolutionary biology of female comedy.

Submission Fees

While I spend a lot of time doing comedy, my job is doing science.  I recently became aware that the American Heart Association is charging $100 for the RIGHT to apply for a grant.  This fee is typically not paid for by the department you work in, and has to be paid “out of pocket”.

Most people reading this aren’t scientists, so they don’t realize how ludicrous this is.  To make it more clear, I’ll put the grant application process into a comedy analogy:

The only way for you to succeed in comedy is to perform in the Science Comedy Festival.  There are 2 Science Comedy Festivals every year, and entry into the festival goes by a free video submission process.  However, getting into the Science Comedy Festival is very difficult process, as your video is scrutinized by a panel of randomly assembled comedians.

You submit your video one year, and it is reviewed by 3 comedians.  Two of the comedians have an important say in how your video is judged, and the third is sort of a tiebreaker.  These comedians give your video a score of 1-5, and when the panel meets to discuss who gets into the Science Comedy Festival, 60% of all videos are immediately ignored, because their score is too low.

The rest of the videos are discussed based on their merit and the top 8-10% are granted entry into the Science Comedy Festival.  Since you didn’t make it into the top 10%, but did make it into the top 40%, you get feedback on your video (people in bottom 60% have no idea what is wrong with their video).  The feedback would look something like this (I’ll use my standup video as an example):

REVIEWER 1 Video Comments: I really didn’t care for the lighting or sound of the video.  The comedian was hard to hear sometimes, and when I could hear him, I didn’t really get any of his jokes.  I don’t really know why the audience was laughing at those jokes.  I didn’t get them.  Probably he just brought a bunch of his friends in the audience and they were laughing with him to be polite.  I’m glad he mentioned what race he was, but he didn’t really make any jokes about being Indian (like how his parents act/talk weird, or how everyone thinks he smells like curry), nor did he use the “accent”.  I don’t think this guy’s ever going to be funny.

REVIEWER 2 Video Comments: I really liked this guy.  He was funny, and his jokes were smart.  There were some tags that I didn’t care for, but overall he was good.

So, if you want to get into the Science Comedy Festival as the act that you submitted, you’ll have to address the comments of the reviewers.  Otherwise, you’ll have to develop a brand new, completely different act (i.e. a different character, persona, etc.).  It’s clear that Reviewer 1 really didn’t like me, and not for any clear-cut or correctable reasons.  Meanwhile, since Reviewer 2 wasn’t effusive in his/her praise, the opinion is heavily weighted to Reviewer 1.

If all of this seems arbitrary, it is.  If you get different reviewers, you could get two people that really like your act, possibly because one is Indian and they like to see more Indians in the Science Comedy Festival, or because they personally know who you are and like you.  And the worst part is, you don’t know who’s viewing your videos, as this process is supposed to be anonymous.

Now they’ve introduced a $100 submission fee, just for the right to apply to get into the Science Comedy Festival.  They say that this is to pay for the cost of viewing all those videos, but really the end result is that people who get to perform in the Science Comedy Festival get to be paid even more.

This grim picture is not too different from the way crappy comedy festivals already operate (without the feedback), but the difference is that if you’re a comedian, you don’t have to do crappy comedy festivals.  If you’re a scientist, you HAVE to apply for grants to keep your job. Also, the extra money for funding that this will ensure is great IF YOU GET FUNDING, which is only if you’re in the top 8-10% of applications.  The rich get richer as this $100 submission fee is serving its true function: beating science into submission.


Let me start off by saying that I really don’t care for Glee, or acapella music, whatsoever.  I don’t mind listening to Gregorian music, but bastardizations of pop songs by college kids really ruffles my feathers.  I know a lot of people find it cute when preppy kids sing hip-hop songs, but I really find it stupid, and not too different from the Pat Boone-ification of music.

That being said, I really dig this song.  It’s from the Futureheads, a British group that never quite matched the hype of other groups like the Arctic Monkeys, Maximo Park, and Franz Ferdinand.  They recently released an acapella and acoustic CD, including tracks like this.  Frankly, I’m shocked that this wasn’t originally an acapella song, because it works so well.  Anyway, hope you enjoy it.  I’ll go back to listening to singing with accompaniment.

New Music Tuesday!

From now on, every Tuesday, I’ll post a video (or two) of a band (or bands) that I really like right now.  This week – Grimes.  Grimes is Claire Boucher, an artist from Canada inspired by punk and pop music who is melding the two into a genre of music called “witch-house”.  I always imagined witch house was something that Hansel and Gretel got trapped in, but apparently it’s this:

Happy NMT!

Humor Code: Flaws in A Scientific Approach to Comedy

I first came across the Humor Code when doing some research on women in comedy.  The Humor Code is a branded name for the Humor Research Lab at UC Boulder, which attempts to dissect comedy to understand why we laugh as humans.  They were recently featured in the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, where their data was hilariously shoved back in their face by Myq Kaplan, Pete Holmes, and Mary Mack.

As a professional scientist and amateur comedian, I find their research very interesting, albeit very flawed.  The basis of their theory of comedy is that all humor derives from the Benign Violation Theory (scientific paper on BVT is here).  Basically, the crux of their theory is this Venn Diagram:

From Humor Code

What makes us laugh is the nexus of something that is a violation and something that is considered benign.  Some examples include:


from Humor Code

So, the circle on the left is a benign concept, while the circle on the right is some type of violation.  Another example would be a comedian telling a pun to an audience can elicit 1 of 2 responses: a laugh or a groan.  A pun is a violation of English language structure (replacing an expected word with an unexpected word).  If the audience laughs at the pun, they consider this violation to be sufficiently benign to merit humor recognition. If they groan, that means that this violation is not benign, and should not be rewarded with laughter.

So, how does a violation become benign? One of three ways (from McGraw’s paper):

  1. A salient norm suggests that something is wrong but another salient norm suggests that it is acceptable
  2. One is only weakly committed to the violated norm
  3. The violation is psychologically distant

Basically, if societal norms say the violation is no big deal or you don’t really consider the violation a violation, then the violation is considered a “benign violation”.  The problem with this definition of humor is that something has to be considered an a priori violation before an individual can consider it to be benign.  So, what is a violation? There’s nothing that offends everyone (or will offend everyone).  While some people are offended by Holocaust jokes, there are people who actually committed the Holocaust.  So, the Holocaust is not a universal a priori violation.

According to Dr. McGraw himself, you have to put some value into something to make it a violation.  However, this is at the expense of calling something “benign”.  So, rather than being two distinct circles in a Venn Diagram, I think you have to look at it as a spectrum:

People who laugh probably respond to stimuli on the “benign” half of the spectrum rather than the violation half.  If we can step back a bit, it seems pretty obvious that people laugh at things that are “benign”.  So, perhaps this isn’t a good theory to define what is funny.

While I admire the efforts to try to come up with a grand unified theory of comedy, I think the Benign Violation Theory is not it, for the following reasons:

  1. Nothing is an a priori violation or a priori benign.  All of these are value judgements, and often times the two concepts are mutually exclusive.  Therefore, “benign violation” is a paradox.
  2. One could argue that anything is a “violation” or “benign”, because these definitions are value judgements, rather than absolute concepts.  Benign violation is an a posteriori definition, trying to explain humor by what is funny. It’s like saying we have to eat by putting things in our mouth, we eat food to keep us alive, so “food” is anything that people put in their mouths (this joke writes itself).

While I do admire what McGraw is trying to do, I think a lot of his work regarding BVT is too vague to be of any interest or use to understanding what makes us laugh.  While I am a neophyte in the comedy research world, I’ll throw out my own theory of comedy:

People laugh when expectations are positively deviated.

This is bit more general of a theory, perhaps only a modest difference from BVT, but I think an important one.  While BVT implies there are two fields of perspective (“violation” and “benign”), and humor is the nexus of the two, my theory proposes that audiences have an expectation, and when a performer deviates from that expectation in a way that the audience views as favorable (or “benign”), humor is elicited.

Ok, it’s basically the BVT, but the emphasis is more on a priori knowledge, such as:

  1. Audiences have expectations that include wanting to laugh and hearing proper English language construction (among other things).
  2. A comedian’s purpose is to deviate from those expectations favorably.
  3. Favorability towards comedic deviation is determined by various variables (e.g. audience mood, socio-economic status, environment of performance, comedian delivery style).

What we really need to define is “comedic favorability” rather than solving the insolvable “benign violation” paradox.  I believe the expectations theory is a modest but important improvement of the BV theory, albeit just a regurgitation of the incongruity theory.  Anyway, here’s an example of my theory in action:

New Music Suggestions

I’ve been reading a lot of comedy blogs from comedians, and I came to the conclusion that we have nothing to talk about.  I used to be a DJ, and I have a love for music, and I thought I’ll use my blog to spread the word on some tracks I like right now (I’ll try to do this weekly from now on).

First Aid Kit – Wolf

First Aid Kit is a duo of Swedish folk singers, who released the album Lion’s Roar back in January (not all of these are REALLY new songs).  Sweden right now is killing it music wise, considering First Aid Kit, I’m From Barcelona, Little Dragon, Robyn, Lykke Li, and Kleerup are all from Sweden.

Dio – Dansen in Jou

Don’t confuse this Dio with the 80’s hair metal band, Dio.  I’ve been listening to this Dutch podcast that plays a lot of good tunes, even though a handful of tunes are Dutch.  This Dio is very similar to the Black Keys, the Features, and the Heavy.  You’re probably wondering “Don’t we have enough Black Keys ripoffs?” Not enough for me. I am slowly getting into a few Dutch language songs, especially Dutch hip hop.  I’m digging this track from Mr. Polska, as well as a track from the Dutch version of the Smurfs (which potentially could be the only redeeming quality of that film).  While I’m sure in Holland everyone thinks these tracks are terrible, I think they’re fun and quirky.

Anyway, if you’re interested in expanding your horizons musically, check back with me.  And if you have any suggestions, send them my way.  Thanks!

Lies From the 1%

My friend, Joe Piccirillo, posted this link from CNN Money about how we shouldn’t blame the 1% for being so rich.  The reason rich people are rich is that they’re college educated and “doing the right things”.

If we all get a college education, we can make it into the 1%, right?  Well, maybe.  But then again, maybe not.

Taking the median income earned from high school, 2-year associate degree and 4-year bachelor degrees, we see a pretty interesting picture. Since 1990, median salaries across all education levels (black line) have not changed much (which you would expect as all numbers are adjusted to 2009 levels).  While over a 4 year span post high school graduation, people who work straight out of high school (blue line) in 1990 made considerably less than people who have an associate degree (green line), and even less than those with bachelor’s degree (red line).

This stays true to the theory that more education improves your earning potential.  However, this does not take into account the cost of said education.  When you include the cost of 2-4 years of education against your earning potential after this four year time period, you have a completely different picture.

While in 1990, having a college education  (either a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree) was definitely an improvement over just a high school diploma, the story is completely different in 2010.  There is almost no difference in getting a higher education degree versus just having a high school diploma, when you take into account the cost of tuition.  Furthermore, this is an underestimate of the cost of education, as I don’t include peripheral costs of education (room and board, books, fraternity dues, etc.).

So, clearly having a college degree doesn’t make any difference anymore.  Why are the 1% in the 1% then?  My best guess is that they don’t have to pay for their education, as they have parents who can foot the bill.  If you look at the first graph, it’s very clear that an education improves your overall earning power.  However, that’s assuming you don’t have to pay for it.  If you do, it almost makes no difference whether you have a degree or not.  So, the only reason the 1% are in the 1% is that they’ve already been in the 1%.  So, since it doesn’t look like education will help whatsoever, my suggestion on how to get into the 1%: Marry into it.

Bad Dalek Jokes

In a couple of weeks, my friend Kevin Harrington is putting on Geek Week at ImprovBoston.  It’s a week of nerd/geek/otaku-centric comedy (see Geek Studies post for an explanation), which I’m sure if you have said tendencies, you’ll love.  Even if you don’t, it’s a week of really great comedy.

For the last couple of years, we’ve been doing Uber-Geek sketches for the Nightcap show (free Friday night at 11:30).  One segment will be a hack comedian doing Dr. Who jokes.  So, here’s some throwaway Dalek jokes that I’ve been writing for it:

NOTE: THESE ARE THE TERRIBLE JOKES THAT WILL NOT BE PERFORMED.  I just like them enough to punish people who might read this blog.

What’s the first thing a Dalek does before it goes to bed? -EXFOLIATE!

What do you call a Dalek that used to be a bird? -EX-VERTEBRATE!

What does a Dalek dating consultant say to a man going out on a date?

What do Daleks say when they get indigestion from burritos?

What happens when Daleks eat too much Indian food? -Emergency Temporal Shit!

Why don’t you ever see a Dalek in the newspaper? Because all their images have been Doctored!

What’s a Dalek’s favorite Bond villain? Skaromanga.

What do Jewish Daleks always say? OYBEY!

What does a Dalek say to an optometrist? MY VISION IS IMPAIRED! I CANNOT SEE!

If you’d like to see the better Dalek jokes, come to Geek Week: April 25-29!


It really amazes me that racism still exists in the world today, at least on such an overt level.  And it’s not just in the US, people in Europe throw bananas at opposing black soccer players (even though many players on their team are black, also).  I don’t understand how anyone thinks it’s funny or cute to treat people poorly based upon the color of their skin.  I like to think of myself as an example of how skin colors can work together. While I am mostly brown, I have a white birthmark on my chest and a black hyperpigmentation on my nose.  Fortunately, if either get bigger, I have a pretty good idea I’m developing cancer.  My brown skin, on the other hand, protects me from UV damage.  So, all of my skin pigments help me not have cancer.  I am a veritable Benneton ad.

My apparent pro-racial unity stance contrasts strongly with a surprising large number of racists in America.  A recent article by a writer from the National Review, John Derbyshire, commented on talks that white parents should have to their kids.  He references these talks as parallels to talks black parents have to their kids about the racism in the world, and how they have to behave to make sure they’re not shot or arrested unjustifiably.  In reality, his article only highlights his hate-filled racism.

What I find astonishing about this is that John Derbyshire is not just some internet troll that spews violent hate.  This was a clearly edited, revised, screed about how blacks are inferior to white people.  It is the Mein Kampf of our generation.  This is perhaps an overstatement, but I don’t think the modern generation has the patience to read a book as long as Mein Kampf.  So, the modern day Mein Kampf would probably be a blog post (or maybe even a Facebook status).

It amazes me that people are able to say such terrible things on a public forum. Admittedly, I don’t read YouTube comments, but usually those are written knee-jerk responses by people at 3:30 at night.  John Derbyshire spent the time to delineate how white people should never associate with black people, unless they are “intelligent” and “well-socialized”.  And then they should only befriend them to use them as an “amulet to potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.”

I wonder what ratio of John Derbyshire’s black friends are aware that they are only “amulets of non-prejudice” (hint: it’s a number divided by 0).  Fortunately, National Review fired John Derbyshire for his bigoted rant, but the question still remains, how much of the right secretly agree with John Derbyshire’s views?

I think this Gallup poll from last September is the most telling statistic for Republicans:

It’s pretty telling. While most people who define themselves as Independents and Democrats (also Liberals and Moderates) have ~90% approval of interracial marriage, people who define themselves as Conservative or Republican only have a ~78% approval of it.  Interestingly, individuals from the South and who have a high school education or less also have ~78% approval of interracial marriage.  I think it’s probably a funny coincidence, though it is possible that it is all the same group that they’re sampling who are Republican and have a high school or less education.  And we are talking about interracial marriage, not gay marriage.

I’m not trying to say Republicans are racist or anything like that.  But I just want to underline that there are still some people out there in the world who would be cool with Plessy vs. Ferguson. I generally don’t deal with such absolute terms, but they’re wrong. There is a beautiful line from Darwin’s Origin of the Species:  “the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure”.  The greater the diversity, the more we can survive together.  I’d like to believe that that is real Social Darwinism.  The problem is I don’t know how to convince white people that all races can benefit by working together.  Maybe if I were white…