Monday, June 2, 2014

Tabs for the Beginning of June

Tabs, tabs, tabs, once again.

Racism and implicit bias show themselves in the smallest of ways, including how pedestrians are treated at crosswalks:

Three black and three white participants were selected to be crosswalk pedestrians for the study.... All six of the pedestrian volunteers were men in their 20s, and were matched based on their height and build. They wore an identical outfit; a long-sleeved gray shirt and khaki pants, to achieve a neutral look without any obvious social or socio-economic characteristics.

Researchers chose an unsignalized, marked crosswalk, located mid-block so that drivers’ yielding wouldn’t be influenced by cross traffic or turning. It was on a two-lane, one-way street in downtown Portland, Ore.

Each pedestrian did 15 crossing trials. These trials resulted in 168 driver subjects.

In each trial, three trained observers stood out of sight of oncoming cars and recorded whether the first car to approach yielded, how many cars passed before someone yielded, and the number of seconds that elapsed before the pedestrian was able to cross.

As hypothesized, the results differed based on race: black pedestrians got passed by twice as many cars, and waited 32 percent longer than white pedestrians.
And get this: "Previous crosswalk studies have shown that driver yielding behavior changes based on social factors. Drivers have been shown to yield differently based on the relative ages of the driver and the pedestrian, the social class of the driver, and the apparent physical disability of the pedestrian (one study equipped pedestrians with canes, and drivers responded with quicker yielding and shorter wait times)." That makes me wonder if the black men in the race study were (once again) falling on the wrong end of a human/empathy continuum, where disabled people evoke the most empathy and able-bodied black folks the least. Just as black children are thought to older than they are, black men (possibly black women, too, who knows, since that wasn't examined here) either are not perceived as needing "help" as much as white men or are not as human as white men.

I came across the blog SheRights because of this post about the language of dude feminism. Loved the post, but was also enchanted by the site's clever, pithy logo:

And this additional post on access to "feminine hygiene" products as an important part of women and girls' equality.

Here's another article on the likelihood that parents helping their kids with school work doesn't improve their outcomes, mentioned in this earlier Too Many Tabs post. The Atlantic tells us:
...although conventional wisdom holds that poor children do badly in school because their parents don’t care about education, the opposite is true. Across race, class, and education level, the vast majority of American parents report that they speak with their kids about the importance of good grades and hope that they will attend college. Asian American kids may perform inordinately well on tests, for example, but their parents are not much more involved at school than Hispanic parents are—not surprising, given that both groups experience language barriers. So why are some parents more effective at helping their children translate these shared values into achievement?

Robinson and Harris posit that greater financial and educational resources allow some parents to embed their children in neighborhoods and social settings in which they meet many college-educated adults with interesting careers. Upper-middle-class kids aren’t just told a good education will help them succeed in life. They are surrounded by family and friends who work as doctors, lawyers, and engineers and who reminisce about their college years around the dinner table. Asian parents are an interesting exception; even when they are poor and unable to provide these types of social settings, they seem to be able to communicate the value and appeal of education in a similarly effective manner.
The Twin Cities has a good counter example to this Asian "model minority" myth. We are home to the largest population of Hmong people outside of Southeast Asia. Hmong-Americans have been here for going on 30 years now and are still "mired," as it is so often put, in cultural pathologies not usually associated with Asian-Americans. Most Asian immigrants from other cultures are not refugees and are parts of communities made up largely of legal immigrants with advanced degrees, so even if a child's own parents don't meet that criterion, there are others in the community who do and provide a culture of high expectations. The Hmong didn't have people like that in their community, and they're only just now beginning to get some locally grown achievers to lead the way.

Minnesota comes out well in another Richard Florida piece called Americans Like Living in States With Less Income Inequality. When asked if their state was a good place to live, Americans came up with the following:

Compare that with the Gini Coefficient for each state (shown at right) and you'll find that Texans think their state is a great place to live even though the rich are getting richer more than most places. Note that Texas is the only state in the historic South where a comfortable majority of residents thought it was a good place to live. (While other conservative states like Alaska, Utah, and Wyoming have no such inferiority complex... and more income equality, too.)

Southern states and cities also are much more dangerous places to be a pedestrian, too.

Government Regulations Saved My Life. David Cay Johnston's paean to Ralph Nader and the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency.

Richard Florida on Why People Perceive Some Cities as Safer Than Others. Hey, the Twin Cities comes up at the top of the list of places that residents perceive as safe (though the number is only 80 percent). It's easy to think that these perceptions are based in the reality of lower crime rates in some places than others, except there was "no statistically significant association between perceived safety and a range of crime per capita measures based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, including for violent crime and property crime." But the perception of safety also didn't correlate with income equality (Gini Coefficient) or home-ownership levels. Great levels of religiosity, interestingly, were correlated with increased perceptions of danger.

The Case for Term-Limiting Supreme Court Justices by Matt Bruenig. I never would have thought I'd find this persuasive, but he got me with the idea of "single, staggered 18-year terms, such that a new judge would be appointed every two years. This fixes the issue of randomness [among the presidents appointing justices], which can create huge judicial windfalls for certain presidencies. It also fixes the strategic retirement problem, since judges would be forced out after 18 years. Furthermore, it allows the court to change in line with the political tides of the country. The ideological composition of the court at any given time should generally mirror that of the presidency in the 18 years prior."

The Racist Narrative of "Failing" Schools and a nice summary of why external rewards don't work.

I've written before about Ursula LeGuin's book The Dispossessed, and particularly a quote by a character named Odo on the idea of deserving. YA author John Green recently posted a video discussing that same idea. Like author Michael Lewis, Green ascribes a lot to luck and privilege and not a bit to deserving.

Speaking of deserving, here's Matt Bruenig ruminating on "just desert" theory. (Yes, desert, not dessert.)

And then there's this fascinating analysis of the Real Origins of the Religious Right. Hint: It's a more "colorful" reason than Roe v. Wade.

Photos of the devastation that is the tar sands wastelands of Canada.

And on that note, enough tabs for one day.

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