Monday, July 11, 2016

Tabs of July 2016

It's been a hell of a month. Here are some stories I've been reading.

Related to racialized police brutality:

Not in our name: Traffic rules and regulations are the pretext for enforcing the crime of driving while black. The alternative: red light cameras (and other uses of cameras) to send tickets automatically. Philando Castile, for instance, had been stopped while driving 52 times! That's more than three times a year during his driving life.

Yes, black America fears the police. Here's why. By Nikole Hannah-Jones for Propublica. "Since 1935, nearly every so-called race riot in the United States—and there have been more than 100—has been sparked by a police incident... This can be an act of brutality, or a senseless killing. But the underlying causes run much deeper. Police, because they interact in black communities every day, are often seen as the face of larger systems of inequality in the justice system, employment, education and housing."

Khalil Gibran Muhammed and others join Diane Rehm on her talk radio show to discuss the killings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, and the context of Black Lives Matter in recent years. (Includes a transcript.) (Here's one of my earlier posts about Muhammed and his book The Condemnation of Blackness.)

Where and why do police kill African Americans? In short: "the number and rate of police killings of black Americans 'is substantially higher in cities with a high level of ethno-racial polarization,' particularly ones that are home to 'two equal-sized (racial or ethnic) groups.'" From Pacific Standard.

I'm a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing. By former St. Louis cop Redditt Hudson, writing for Vox. His experience fits perfectly with these excerpts from Studs Terkel's Working, from 1974.

Police reform is impossible in America.

The horrific, predictable result of a widely armed citizenry. By Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker, with a featured photo of Minneapolis NAACP leader Nekima Levy-Pounds. "Weapons empower extremes. Allowing members of any fringe of any movement to get their hands on military weapons guarantees that any normal dispute—political or, for that matter, domestic—can quickly lead to a massacre. Our guns have outraced our restrictions, but not our imaginations. Sometime in the not-too-distant past, annihilation replaced street theatre and demonstrations as the central possibility of the enraged American imagination. Guns allow the fringe to occupy the center."

Why do people buy guns? A behavioral economics perspective. A depressing finding: the more people think other people have guns, the more people buy guns. It's literally an arms race, and in turn, a race to the bottom.

The facts are in: racial disparities in use of force are not accounted for by crime rates over time or by location.

And on other topics:

Why nonprofits haven't fixed poverty. (Audio)

Why has it taken the menstrual cup so long to go mainstream? I linked to this incidentally on Sunday, but here it is again in case you missed it. A great bit of history and analysis on a topic that affects half the human race but is never talked about. From Pacific Standard.

Mother Jones's Shane Bauer went undercover as a prison guard for several months. I have not read this yet. Saving it for I'm-not-sure-what moment of strength.

How redistricting turned America red. By Elizabeth Kolbert for the New Yorker.  In which I learn "ratfuck" is a term used in politics.

The ableist, racist, classist underpinnings of "laziness." A meditation on that so-called problem generation (Millennials) from The Establishment.

A thorough look at who is getting rich off the $1.3 trillion student debt crisis. Enraging! Audio, but with a full transcript for those who'd rather read than listen. From Democracy Now.

After the mass shooting in Orlando, I found resonance in this essay: Gun violence and the death of joy: We're losing the places we once felt safe. (Though the "we" in that title may be problematic, I identify with it personally.)

Personality can change over a lifetime, and usually for the better. "...most adults become more agreeable, conscientious and emotionally resilient as they age." From NPR.

Countering the victim-blaming after a traffic crash. Including this disturbing nugget: "people who value 'loyalty, obedience and purity' are more likely to view victims of sex crimes and physical violence as 'contaminated' or responsible." Purity and contamination, once again; part of the big six aspects of human morality, according to Jonathan Haidt. (Have you ever wondered why Donald Trump uses the word "disgusting" so much?)

Leaving conservatism behind. How one man, raised in rural Pennsylvania, got beyond it to find the rest of humanity.

Matt Bruenig may have taken down his personal blog (sob) in the aftermath of a self-caused Twitter disaster, but his Demos posts are still available, including this one in which he takes on the idea that a 50 percent or higher overall tax rate is unthinkable, even for a progressive.

Education gadfly Alfie Kohn's latest, The Failure of Failure:

Under certain circumstances, yes, it’s possible for a child to pick herself up and try again, just as we might hope. But it’s simply not the most likely outcome. The experience of having failed is a uniquely poor bet for anyone who wants to maximize the probability of future success. Moreover, it’s not just achievement that suffers. Kids who fail also tend to (1) lose interest in whatever they’re doing (say, learning), and (2) prefer easier tasks. It’s hard for someone to stay excited about something she has reason to think she can’t do well, and it’s even harder for her to welcome a more difficult version of whatever she was doing. In fact, failure often leads kids to engage in what psychologists call “self-handicapping”: They deliberately make less of an effort in order to create an excuse for not succeeding. They’re able to tell themselves that if they had tried, they might have done much better.
Solar panels have gotten thinner than a human hair. Soon they’ll be everywhere. By Dave Roberts at Vox.

It's not texting that causes more traffic crashes. It's (wait for it...) driving more that causes more crashes. Oh, and pickup trucks. From Pacific Standard.

Donald Trump is dead wrong about the “Good Guy with a Gun” theory — a ballistics and firearms expert explains why. Add some of the facts from this article to my recent post about all the misinformation we've been fed about guns.

A depressing research finding at the University of Michigan: "Ban the Box" leads to more employer discrimination in hiring. Before Ban the Box legislation, "...white applicants had a relatively slight advantage: they received about 7 percent more callbacks than equally qualified black applicants. After Ban the Box was adopted, this gap ballooned to 45 percent.... The researchers theorize that [if] employers don't have information about criminal records, they are more likely to rely on their assumptions—including race-based assumptions. Specifically, employers may assume that black applicants have criminal records (even when they don't), and that white applicants do not."

I walked from Liverpool to London. The Brexit vote was no surprise. "Thatcherism devastated communities throughout industrial England that have never recovered. Their pain explains why people voted to leave in the EU referendum." From The Guardian.

Dirty air could be linked to mental health problems in kids.

Young voters aren't crazy; they're just socialists. “You want higher taxes on the rich to pay for a safety net and supply more public services? Calm down, be realistic!”

In case you missed it, writer George Saunders went to a Trump rally. From the New Yorker.

The privatization of childhood play. Oh, great, yet another way to leave out the working class and poor. From Pacific Standard.

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