Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twitter in the Final Month of a Hell of a Year

December brought even more tweets about how Black Lives Matter (including the fight between NYPD's union and Mayor DeBlasio and the derailing "All Lives Matter" movement), plus the CIA torture report.

On Black Lives Matter and related topics:

Racism doesn't usually look like someone shouting slurs. It looks like people eagerly looking for a reason why a black kid deserved to die.
By Lou Schumaker

There's a word for armed forces demanding that an elected leader be removed from office. And it's not 'democracy.'

By David Harris-Gershon

Complete list of groups who stage protests at funerals: Westboro Baptist Church - New York Police Department.
By Matt Binder

Protestors told for the past week to take a hiatus to allow for healing. NYPD stages a protest at the funeral. Incredible.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

We've outfitted police with military weaponry and now they're refusing to answer to civilian leadership. That seems crazy dangerous.
By Simon Royalty

Maybe the NYPD can use their new-found love of back-turning the next time they see a black man walking down the street doing nothing wrong.
By Joseph Flynn

Remember, what de Blasio did to "disrespect the police" was reveal he gave his black son "the talk" about being careful around cops.
By Jamelle Bouie

via @daveweigel: I'm a little weirded out by the people saying DeBlasio should resign because cops are angry. That's... how coups work.
By Logan Smith

Families of Las Vegas cops killed by Tea Party supporters must feel terrible with wall-to-wall coverage of NYPD funerals, nothing for them.
By Dave Johnson

NYPD Should Vote Out DeBlasio & Get a Republican Mayor Who Will Gladly Cut Police Salaries & Pensions for Wall Street. Go For It!
By The New Deal

As NYPD officers turn their backs on De Blasio, they turn away from democracy and toward immunity for racist, broken-windows violence.
By David Harris-Gershon

If one crazed murderer can delegitimize a non-violent protest movement, several crazed & unpunished murderer cops delegitimize the system.
By Saul Williams

I'm shocked at how "controversial" the protests are. We are literally just saying that police are killing unarmed black people and shouldn't.
By DeRay Mckesson

White people when black man is killed: "But he had a gun!" When white man kills people: "If only the victims had had guns!"
By Jess

If Eric Garner and other black men only died because they resisted arrest, then how come no suspects have ever been killed on the TV show "COPS"?
By Hari Kondabolu

The world already values cops' lives. Hashtag unneeded. But we *do* still need to remind people that #BlackLivesMatter. Hashtag needed.
By Rebecca Eisenberg

Interesting role reversal: for months officers say, Don't condemn us for acts of few "bad apples." Now they link the protests to a lone attacker.
By Wesley Lowery

The argument is that criticizing cops is to endanger them; there's nothing more dangerous than putting people with guns beyond reach of criticism.
By Sam Adams

People are rightly upset at the NYPD murder--now imagine how you'd feel if this happened to a cop every 28 hours*.
By Smooth Kobra

A person who murders a woman in the afternoon then kills two cops does not remotely represent what has been a nonviolent movement in NYC.
By Howard Bryant

White people are NEVER asked to apologize for white men who kill cops. Black Lives Matter protesters shouldn't have to apologize now, either.
By Terrell J. Starr

It's possible to both be appalled by senseless executions of cops, and angry at unjustified killings by cops. This isn't hard to understand.
By radleybalko

White men smugly mocking murders of innocent Black people: your "I Can Breathe" shirts should say "I have a sociopathic lack of empathy."
By Jennifer L. Pozner

Man, cops really hate being treated like criminals because of the actions of a few bad cops. Weird.
By Ijeoma Oluo

Interesting that Ferguson protesters in their 20s/30s are called "youth" while Michael Brown, who was actually a youth, is portrayed as menacing adult.
By Sarah Kendzior

Today showed me that some people like "young people leading" as long as it mimics patterns from the past. That's not support. #Ferguson
By DeRay Mckesson

We have to get over this idea that being peaceful means we can't be angry. You don't have to tear things up to be mad.
By Atom Ant

Cute: NYPD union responds to the Daily News report on 179 [NYC citizens] killed by cops in 15 years by noting 80 cops were killed in that span. All but 10 of the cops were 9/11-related.
By Oren Yaniv

Kris Straub nails the problem with #AllLivesMatter in a simple three-panel comic from his Patreon feed:

By Tim Marsh

Let's make a deal: Peaceful protest in exchange for NON-DEADLY police enforcement? Seems those in charge should LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
By Paul Thomas

“Why do we diminish it by suggesting that it was an act against just one group?” asked a leading Canadian journalist about a massacre of women [in Montreal]. That was 1989 and nothing about that narrative has changed. Pay attention to that. She claims that calling killings of women killings of women “diminishes” them. This is the logic of #AllLivesMatter.
By Erin Kissane
There were also a lot of tweets about the torture report:
The 5 stages of torture apologists:

By almightygod

hey a bunch of people were shackled + anally raped in your name IT'S OVER LET'S MOVE ON. a corporation's computers were hacked THIS MEANS WAR
By Saladin Ahmed

Just like 70% of Americans once though Saddam was behind 9/11, now 56% think torture worked. This is a massive indictment of the US media.
By Dan Froomkin

Funny how Jesus somehow became a wealthy white suburbanite who hates the poor and loves war & torture.
By David Roberts

Everything is torture except for torture.
By Jonathan Glick

It's a wonder that more kids don't dress as Dick Cheney at Halloween.
By Robert O. Simonson

Shooting a 12-year-old. Shoving a man in a box and pouring insects in. These things are never okay. Why are we treating them like debates?
By Saladin Ahmed

If you are making an amoral "results" argument for safety, you can basically do anything--including torture and kill.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

The only accurate intelligence that torture provided us, was that torture doesn't work.
By jamiekilstein

Some people think the 9/11 attacks were only morally wrong because they happened to the United States.
By nothingsmonstered

Al Qaeda "an evil we couldn't fathom." Incredible. In a country built on theft, blood and slavery.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ouch, Steve Sack. Funny, but ouch!

By Todd Stone

Brennan says the CIA had to work hard to get intelligence after 9/11. Which is why they got people with no interrogation experience to do it.
By AdamSerwer

Slavery: Enhanced Labor Techniques.
By Carvell Wallace

Torture is wrong! (Except for when I torture people for all eternity if they don't believe in me.)
By almightygod

One would have to be a moron not to see that Hollywood's long barrage of monstrous Muslims provides rationalization for killing real people.
By Saladin Ahmed

If the moral calculation is simply, "Did the ends justify the means?" it's hard to see why we even bother with laws in the first place.
By Christopher Hayes

"They" don't hate us for our freedoms! They hate us because we elect scumbags that institute torture programs & don't care.
By Mary

"Does torture work?" as a question needs to be put in the bin with "Is slavery commercially feasible?" & "Can genocide help overpopulation?"
By Hend

I want an America I can believe in. Where sadistic torturers, the mass thieves of Wall Street, and sociopathic murdering cops go to jail.
By Xeni Jardin

Sometimes I wish the news cycle would stop so we could focus for a few days on the fact that the US was torturing people.
By Bill McKibben

Cheney & ISIS:

By Tilo Jung

A global cult of tough-guy bullshit. This is the male culture that extends from jihadi wannabe to frothing gamer to killer cop to torturer.
By Saladin Ahmed

A rule of thumb: If a future report on what you're doing would spur international protests & endanger American lives, don't do it.
By Julian Sanchez

In just the last few months, the US Right has gone from defending xenophobia to defending racism to defending torture. What’s next?
By David Roberts

"They were planning an attack!" is the "He had a gun!" of national security.
By Saladin Ahmed

Even if you "debate" the efficacy of torture and decide it's bad, you're a bad person. It's not up for debate, if you believe in human rights
By Zaid Jilani

Torture, racism, climate change — life must be nice when you can just deny the existence of anything that troubles you.
By David Roberts

Coincidentally, the only information interrogators got from waterboarding prisoners was "I can't breathe."
By Frank Conniff
From there on, it's the usual round-up of topics that yank my chain and funny things that keep me going, despite it all.
The real "women in tech" issue: women are less likely to put up with sophomoric behavior and cartoonish incompetence.
By Buzz Andersen

Get those kids to stop running around laughing, pretending and imagining. They need to sit so I can teach my lesson on How to Play.
By Sisyphys38

Rich people love to "solve" education, but they never seem to tackle economic inequality.
By LoremIpsum

If your business is going to fold unless real wages of your employees decline each year, you have to wonder whether your doing it right.
By Matt Bruenig

With the information age the world looks uglier, dirtier, more corrupt, scheming, mostly because the malicious was hidden from us before.
By Nassim N. Taleb

I appreciate it when people suggest things to rid the body of "toxins" because it's an easy way to find out that they're idiots.
By Ken Jennings

With publicly funded clinical drug trials all drugs could sell for $5 per prescription, way too simple for DC wonks.
By Dean Baker

When adding density to the city, it's not the *people* that most object to - it's adding more cars:

By jennifer keesmaat

We need to do three major things to our institutions. We need to democratize them. We need to restructure them. And we need to humanize them.
By Nikhil Goyal

The Mall of America has long had huge public subsidies, which is why it shouldn't be allowed to opt out of "public space" discussions.
By William Lindeke

It’s starting to feel like the internet is a machine uniquely suited to ruining great ideas before normal people can even understand them.
By Merlin Mann

The world seems pretty boring until you stop to think that there are 90-foot-long, 300,000-pound animals that just swim around singing sad songs.
By PartyTeeth

A, B, C, or D?! (The best statistical question ever?)

By Max Roser

Having to pay slightly higher taxes because you're rich is pretty much a sign you've already won.
By John Fugelsang

All of television: a neoliberal fantasy to fool the gullible into believing the wealthy just don't know how terrible capitalism is for them.
By danielle villarreal

There should be a bar for people who don't want coffee or booze.
By Patrick Steele

Why do we like kids who work hard regardless of the task vs. the kids that only work hard at tasks they deem worthy? We don't like thinkers.
By Sisyphys38

There are no sports coffee shops.
By Chris Steller

Remember, just because something is 'hard' or 'difficult,' doesn't automatically mean it's rigorous and challenging:

By Justin Tarte

I think I speak for all women when I say: we would ALSO like a pocket on the inside of our jackets.
By Felicity Ward

Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.
By Kurt Vonnegut

We tend to think of great cycle paths as inherently Dutch; a mass die-in circa 1970 shows the people fought for them:

By jennifer keesmaat

Also: nature builds incredible strength and resilience through diversity. Diversity always wins; monocultures always fail.
By Jonathan Foley

The powerful can cloak their politics in an air of centrist magnanimity then condemn the powerless for being "partisan" or "political."
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Kids come to school and teach us what they learned at home.
By Sisyphys38

It's not so much what we do for those who are clearly deserving. It's who we consider to be deserving in the first place.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

A somewhat flattened hedgehog:

By Halloween Costumes

Protecting free speech has to mean "enabling marginalized people to speak without abuse" not "letting hate speech & threats flow unchecked".
By Anil Dash

Would kids attend your class if they didn't have to? Would it matter in the scheme of things if they didn't?
By Sisyphys38
If we cannot stand beside each other in our respective struggles, we will never stand side by side in collective struggle.
By Kel

I should run for political office just to see what kind of scandalous dirt they dig up. It would be nice to piece together my twenties.
By AndreaSollys

Picasso Bug – Sphaerocoris annulus:

By Strange Animals

"It's A Wonderful Life: The Story of A Man Who Got Really Drunk While His Wife Solved All His Problems."
By Jason Sweeney

Boldest economic proposals: Universal basic income, free higher education, democratization of the workplace, nationalization of the banks.
By Nikhil Goyal

Being an economist means believing that everyone on the planet is much much smarter and more rational than you...except for sociologists.
By Noah Smith

"Dwell on the past and you'll lose an eye." But the proverb goes on to say: "Forget the past and you'll lose both eyes."--Solzhenitsyn
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sigourney Weaver testing the flamethrower for Alien on the lawn at Shepperton Studios:

By Film History In Pics

Found out last night our cat goes to the kebab shop down the road every day & they give him lamb mince. There’s a picture of him on the wall.
By Sam Kriss

You can't be FOR standards but against standardization.
By Sisyphys38

It turns out birds are good at avoiding wind farms. Which is good, because they're bad at avoiding climate change.
By Bill McKibben

Map showing the elevation of the United States:

By Amazing Maps

DN3 says: All of those lightest green areas will flood if the sea level rises enough. Ursula LeGuin's book Always Coming Home takes place in a post-climate-change Northern California that has an inland sea just like the one that this map shows could exist.

Since September 2001, terrorism has killed 4,300 civilians; the war on terror has killed more than 2 million civilians.
By Injustice Facts

If you plan a city for cars, you'll get more cars. If you plan a city for people, you'll get more people. There is no avoiding this truth.
By jennifer keesmaat

This isn't the Year of Outrage. It's the Outrage Era, the social turmoil that comes from heightened awareness of others through technology.
By Andy Baio

TV news' "whole goal is to raise enough anxiety that you tune in. It's not to inform or make society smarter."
By Anil Dash

How exactly does one come to "deserve" success? Surely if it were possible we'd have a shift in who's successful?
By KillerMartinis

“Scientists who popularize or make science too accessible are suspect by their research community."
By Katie Mack

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey:

By Strange Animals

A 2,500-cow farm produces the same waste as a city of 411,000. (But a city has sewage plants...) Via @Cowspiracy
By Seward Co-op

"Leon Panetta is on book tour. Chelsea Manning is in jail. John Kiriakou is in jail. Edward Snowden is in exile." – Jeremy Scahill
By Dirty Wars

Surveys find 80 percent of people would like a pension. High numbers also want Social Security expanded. And they want their humble tax break.
By Helaine Olen

Everything changes. Don’t be afraid.
By Erin Kissane

Ask that fool to account for all white affirmative action between 1619 and 2014. (Replying to Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jamelle Bouie.)
By Lawrence Brown

Hegemony is a hell of a drug.
By Matt Bruenig

I dreamt I gave birth to Bob Newhart. And that those two dudes from "Freaks and Geeks" almost started a war with North Korea. #HospitalFog
By Molly Priesmeyer

To people saying "pulling The Interview means the terrorists won": we have been taking our shoes off at airports for no reason for a decade.
By Laurie Voss

I am the Lorax who speaks for the street trees, which you seem to be chopping to make things as fast as you please.
By Nathan Leigh

Jabba the Ham:

By Halloween Costumes

Welcome to the flexible labour market. Works for the elites, but not for the majority of us!
By WK Grainger

Words I wish whitesplainers would stop using when talking about race: 'universal' 'objective' 'human nature.'
By Brittney Cooper

Argument that Grant is one of the worst presidents is why history education should not end with high school textbooks approved by Texas.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

"Race isn’t injected into the conversation. It’s already there" – Jose Vilson
By Paul Thomas

Americans would do well to spend less time worrying about terrorism and more time worrying about their sugar intake.
By Josh Barro

He's making a database, He's filtering twice SELECT * FROM customers WHERE behaviour = Nice Santa Clause is Coming to town.
By M

hey … hey you know that thing you’re not doing but keep meaning to do [long pause] you should make sure you do that thing — nightbrain
By Ethan Marcotte

My sister is doing an experiment: Whenever men walk towards her, she doesn’t move out of the way first. So far she has collided with 28 men.
By Anna Breslaw

Americans know full well that our prisons are cesspools of abuse and sexual assault. They just don’t care.
By Jamelle Bouie

The Eucharitid wasp — amazing evolution!

By Strange Animals

Long story short: Adaptation [to climate change] is much, much more difficult & expensive than mitigation. And requires bigger, more intrusive government!
By David Roberts

Instead of using public money to lure capital to where it's needed, use public money to meet public needs.
By David Kaib

Statistically speaking, it makes FAR more sense to profile men for mass shootings, etc, than to profile either Muslims or the mentally ill.
By Saladin Ahmed

Show me the wealthy person that doesn't have vices. Poor people don't seem to be allowed to have any. – Linda Tirado (@KillerMartinis)
By Simona Combi

Obsession with winning (not excellence) explains the push for uniform standards. We must compare states and nations: Who's beating whom? Competition also explains creation of standard that all kids can never meet. Our idea of excellence = there must always be losers
By Alfie Kohn

"Every single child 13 or 14 years old sentenced to life without parole for a nonhomicide has been a person of color." – New York Times December 14, 2014
By Wesley Lowery

"Only 2 percent of members of Congress throughout history have come from working-class backgrounds." – Adam Lioz
By Demos_Org

I wonder if salesmen realize that women like to make major purchases online because we're so often treated like children in the store.
By Rainbow Rowell

Even when I agree with the politics, I've never seen a car covered in bumper stickers and thought, "I'd love to hang out with that person."
By Janine Brito

To me, “not making rape jokes” is a pretty minimal requirement for dudes who consider themselves feminists or allies.
By Erin Kissane

I appreciate when someone tells me they "like to argue." It's a reminder I should never discuss anything with them ever.
By Faith Erin Hicks

The Milk frog:

By Strange Animals

Position: Life Coach Qualifications:
1. Knows how to copy/paste quotes.
2. Is moderately attractive.
3. Cannot get real job.
By Chris Rock

BREAKING: Industry's Last Remaining "Copywriter" Makes Transition to "Brand Storyteller" on Linkedin Profile.
By Adweak

Apparently kids must be forced to take math in high school because "studies prove" it's useful preparation...for more advanced math classes.
By Alfie Kohn

Today I went and sat in really nice desk chairs and they were all for really tall people. So the patriarchy is getting great lumbar support.
By Rainbow Rowell

Amazon can deliver a product same-day in some cities but can't get its workers out the door in 25 minutes?
By Charlie Quimby [referring to this]

Congestion-free roadways and ample parking are to the United States what bread and circuses were to Rome.
By Strong Towns

A close-up shot of Swinhoe's pheasant:

By Strange Animals

The teachers I see being the most grumpy and "down on kids" are the ones who loved school. They can't seem to comprehend non-compliance. I think we need to hire more teachers that didn't like school. They can better relate to the majority of kids who are disenfranchised.
By Sisyphys38

Thanks, Angelina Jolie, for using your money and power to present the risky and rarely represented idea that Americans in WWII were heroes
By Conner Habib

Ever realised how fucking surreal reading a book actually is? You stare at marked slices of tree for hours on end, hallucinating vividly
By Katie Oldham

The rich are far more envious, it seems, of the distributions the poor receive than vice versa. It so obsesses them! Cut cut cut!
By Matt Bruenig

Excited to announce my latest venture, advising coffee shops on how to hide where customers are supposed to bus their dishes
By Chris Steller

Stones thrown through the windows of Buckingham Palace by suffragettes, 100 years ago today:

By Gavin Grindon

"Recall Cleaver's (or his ghostwriter's) view that European civilization was simply a form of domination. It is impossible to listen to the multiculturalists and not hear echoes of Eldridge Cleaver." The New Republic, 1991. That "or his ghostwriter's" crack is exactly how you get a "White's Only" sign hung above your publication. That's some Obama birther shit.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Treat me like I'm disposable, and see what you get.
By KillerMartinis

For starters, Alan Mills put it well: "Increased isolation [in prison] increases violence. Programs & responsibility reduce violence."
By JailsActionCoalition

I don’t have room for even one more smug statement about “girls’ natural preferences” in contradiction of so much data. Not even one.
By Erin Kissane

Kozol: "Charity and chance and narrow selectivity are not the way to educate the children of a genuine democracy."
By Nikhil Goyal

If the only way you can get behind an issue is if the axis centers on you, then you're neither an ally nor activist
By Odysseus Rex

You know what would be even better than pinning the health of all our institutions on the whims of billionaires? A robust public sector.
By David Roberts

Pretty sure there's not a single person on television who has ever used the word "humbling" correctly.
By evelyn pollins

When I was at Howard University, every Negro on the yard thought he woulda been Nat Turner, when all of us woulda been Kunta. And no shame in that. Same sin--no sense of "rape" and "enslavement" as institutional evils. Basically perceive them as individual acts, with no societal support. People who ask about Cosby, "Why didn't the women report it at the time?"recalls people who ask, "Why didn't all the slaves just rebel?" Think a large part of it is the discomfort with knowing YOU could enslaved, YOU could be raped. Better to think yourself superhuman.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

To which, user Frank Alvarez replied:
@tanehisicoates “As someone who has never been in that situation, allow me to explain how *I* would handle it with ease!”

I have been asked by a fairly well-known publication to write a 1,500-word essay on labor exploitation for $50. Guess they want autobiography.
By Sarah Kendzior

"It’s kind of selfish to say you will only fight for a victory that you will live to see." – Ta-Nehisi Coates
By Andy Kroll

Buy a stick. This is what capitalism has done to us:

By Talen Lee

* I recently read a Washington Post article that deconstructed the "every 28 hours" claim and showed that it is not supported by existing statistics. That number includes people killed by security guards and "vigilantes," not just police, and also includes people who were reported to be armed. The article concluded that something like two unarmed people killed per week was probably more accurate. However, as the author of the original article points out, her estimate is most likely an under count of police killings, given the number of states (such as Florida) that don't report.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Study Reinforces My Bias, Therefore Must Be Correct

Did you hear about the recent study that found participation in organized sports is inversely correlated with creativity? spite of an overtly conservative analysis, the results were stark: time spent playing informal sports was significantly and positively related to overall creativity, while time spent playing organized sports was significantly and negatively related to overall creativity....

What could account for such...results? On a theoretical (and, frankly, intuitive) level, informal sports played in unstructured, unsupervised environments capture many of the elements that are linked with the developmental benefits of play for children. These environments offer children the freedom to self-govern, create rules, problem-solve and resolve social conflicts on their own terms.

Organized sports, on the other hand, tend to replicate hierarchical and militaristic models aimed at obedience, replication, adherence to authority, and a number of other qualities that, on a theoretical level, would be unlikely to be conducive to creative development. (emphasis added)
No mention is made of the creativity levels of people who rarely participated in any kind of sports at all. I suppose the authors weren't creative enough to imagine such people exist. Or maybe they don't exist among the largely Millennial-age graduate students who were the subjects of the study.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Organize a Pity Party

Get this: agribusiness interests in California are scared. Scared that they won't be able to hire enough workers for their fields. And it's all because President Obama is going to stop the INS from chasing after five million undocumented workers.

According to this AP story,

Thousands of the state's farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms....

Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, estimates that 85 percent of California's agricultural workers are using false documents to obtain work....

Many farmworkers are paid above minimum wage, earning more hourly than they will in other industries, but he said that workers that leave will gain year-around jobs and regular paychecks, rather than seasonal employment.
It's hard to feel sorry for an industry that gets by because it offers unattractive hours and bad conditions (if not the worst of wages, who knows) to people who don't have any other choices.
While farmers may face a setback, Obama's order is good for workers, who support families and fear that any day they may be pulled over driving to work and deported, said Armando Elenes, national vice president of the United Farm Workers.

With proper documentation, workers will feel empowered and be more valuable, Elenes said. Confronted with abuse at work — such as being paid less than minimum wage or denied overtime — workers will be able to challenge their employer or leave, he said.
Making workers (and residents) live in the shadows is bad for a civil society, let alone a democracy. Cutting into the profits of agribusiness is a small price to pay.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Change the Rules of Engagement

In addition to training to decrease implicit bias among police officers, cities across America should change the rules of engagement between police and citizens suspected of minor offenses. Ian Ayres and Daniel Markovitse of Yale Law School give these thoughts:

Consider what arrests are for. An arrest is not punishment: After all, there has been no conviction at that point. The purpose of an arrest is to prevent crime and to aid in prosecution by establishing identity, gathering evidence and preventing flight. The steps taken to secure arrests therefore must, at every point, be proportional to the suspected crimes that underlie the arrests.

The current police rules of engagement violate these basic principles at every turn. Convictions for jaywalking and selling single cigarettes — the predicate offenses in Ferguson and Staten Island, respectively — effectively never carry jail sentences, and nobody thinks that they should. Fines are the proper punishments for these minor crimes.

But under current law, when the police arrest someone based on nothing more than probable cause of a minor crime, they can treat the wrongdoer more severely than the punishment that would ordinarily be imposed by a court of law, even after a full trial. We believe that the New York City Police Department violated current law when Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Eric Garner in a chokehold. But under current rules of engagement, Garner’s saying “don’t touch me” unquestionably authorized the police to initiate the use of force — nonlethal force, but still force — to subdue him.

That’s wrong. An arrest should not impose a burden greater than a conviction. When it does, the arrest amounts to police oppression.
They continue with this solution:
A police officer confronting someone suspected of only a minor crime should not be permitted to arrest the suspect by force. In most cases, the police should simply issue a ticket...

Such rules would not only protect the public’s rights but also promote law and order. Many critics rightly doubt that maximally aggressive “broken windows” public-order policing works. And other countries marry nonviolent rules of engagement with effective law enforcement; Germany, for example, imposes strict limits on the use of force to arrest petty offenders, and the entire German police, governing a population of 80 million, fired only 85 bullets in 2011. Moreover, nonviolent rules of engagement would also protect the police. Officers must of course retain the right to defend themselves when subject to attack. But by inviting police to initiate force, current practices require officers to control a naturally escalating dynamic that can quickly endanger all concerned.
The best thing about this idea is that we don't have to wait for federal or state legislation -- it could be enacted by individual cities. If Saint Paul had these rules of engagement, Chris Lollie wouldn't have been tasered in that skyway, or if he was, the cop who did it would have been held responsible for it. Eric Garner and Mike Brown and many other people probably wouldn't be dead, either. It would deescalate so many situations.

I'll be calling my city council member to urge him to introduce a bill changing the Saint Paul police department's rules of engagement.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Night Trains at Bandana Square

It's been a busy day with family, so here are some photos from the Night Trains at the Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum. Each holiday season, from November to February, they decorate their many layouts for Christmas and turn on the lights.

It's open on Saturday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. through February 24 at Bandana Square in Saint Paul.

A 1940s scene with Mickey's Diner in the background.

A streetcar parked alongside a drugstore, with an apartment above.

The grain elevators of Minneapolis (and the Grain Belt billboard) with the North Coast Limited sign floating above like a full moon. The brick buildings at right (with arched windows) are models of the train barns that are now Bandana Square, home to the train museum.

Friday, December 26, 2014

No, It's Not Jerry-Rigged

I woke up the other day thinking of the term "jerry-rigged." I immediately wondered if I had that right; wasn't it actually jury-rigged and what was the deal with all of that anyway?

Well, it turns out there are two terms: jury-rigged and jerry-built. The former comes from sailing (something to do with improvised rigging on the jury mast), while the latter's origins are a bit mysterious, though it doesn't mean improvised so much as intentionally made from cheap materials. It isn't a World War I- or II-era anti-German slur either, since it arose in the 19th century.

Kludge has a similar meaning to jury-rigged, though from a completely different walk of life. Sometime around 1960, it came to be used in the computer industry to mean an inelegant, improvised solution, originally in hardware but later in software as well. Sometimes it's spelled with a "d" and sometimes without, sometimes pronounced klooj and others kludge (rhymes with fudge).

Rube Goldberg designs, on the other hand, are intentionally made to be overly complex, sometimes improvised or from found materials, but not necessarily.

Four unrelated terms for ways to make things, all added to English in the past 150 or so years. What a language.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Ultimate Christmas Sweater

This is the only one anyone should ever need.

From Instagram.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve from Ayn Rand

Someone at DailyKos put together a set of Ayn Rand Christmas cards. They're mostly amusing, though a bit predictable if you know anything about her philosophy. But this one stopped me completely:

It was bad enough that I wondered if it was real.

According to her Wikipedia page, she said it when answering a question after giving a commencement address at West Point on March 6, 1974. It was published in a book called Endgame: Resistance by Derrick Jensen (Seven Stories Press, 2006, page 220). It's repeated on Objectivist sites as well. A transcript of her full comments can be found here.

So I guess so. Wow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Retail Photos, Part 2

Christmas will be over soon and I can stop going into stores quite so often. But in the meantime, more odd products and retail practices from modern America.

First, a set of stairs for your small dog:

This is the moment when I can tell I'm a cat person. If the darned dog can't jump onto the couch, s/he doesn't deserve to be up there.

And then there was an anti-theft device placed in just the right spot:

I'm not sure what the product was in this case, though the box is clearly too small to hold the item shown on the exterior.

Both seen at Bed, Bath and Beyond (no Oxford comma in that name, I note).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Get Rid of Tipping

My feelings on tipping are a bit inchoate, but this piece from Vox makes the case well. I hadn't thought enough about the discriminatory effect of tipping, particularly.

After a recent experience of terrible service in a small-town sports bar (never go to the Corner Pocket in Portage, Wisconsin!), I can identify with this quote from Vox:

In response to the question, "Do you feel pressured to tip at a restaurant even if you feel you received bad service?" 70 percent of those polled answered "yes." Margalioth wrote, "This seems to prove the social norm of tipping is so strong that many people feel extorted to tip." 
If tipping is, in theory, a reward for good service, then no tip should have been left in this situation. But I know that the server is probably only being paid $2 an hour, and that the problem may have been the kitchen's fault. So what are you supposed to do?

I would be happy to pay more for my food with no tipping allowed and a living wage paid to servers. Alcohol prices, which don't affect me much since I hardly ever drink, should be left as is since they're already marked up enough to cover the labor involved in delivering them to the table.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

At the Mall on a Saturday

If you've seen any of the photos of the big Orwellian screen looming over yesterday's Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America (such as this and this), but wondered if it was real... I can tell you that it was. Here's my photo:

Taken while sitting on the floor for just a while. It was a calmly chaotic scene because the acoustics in the mall are terrible, and the organizers had no amplification except the people's microphone.

It seemed to me that the mall authorities made it a lot more complicated than it had to be. They say the protest caused the mall to be shut down, but that makes no sense. People could have proceeded with their shopping almost everywhere if the authorities hadn't made stores close their doors while police closed off hallways.

This was my favorite hand-made sign:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Twelve Years of Nothing Worthwhile

The good news: Michele Bachmann will be out of Congress soon. The bad news: the person replacing her is just as bad, though less of a showboat. (He's a lawyer -- who has personally sued many people he's worked with, a past legislator, and a failed candidate for governor who managed to lose to a Democrat in the 2010 wave election.)

According to the story in today's Star Tribune, Bachmann's 12 years in Congress resulted in just 64 bills introduced, of which five passed the House and just one was signed into law. That one renamed the Post Office in a town in her district. Whoop-de-doo. She always was a lot more about promoting herself than she was about legislating. (I don't know how she was on constituent services.)

As it says in the caption below the Star Tribune photo, she counts the new St. Croix River bridge as her biggest accomplishment. There's lots of blame to go around for that boondoggle, including Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. The bridge endangers wildlife in the river and furthers the already sprawling Twin Cities metro area in an unsustainable way -- perfect for Michele Bachmann and her world view, but not for the state.

I know it's petty but one of the things that gets me most about Bachmann on a personal level is the way she dresses, reinforcing the idea that women need to do everything men do, plus backwards and in high heels. Look at that photo. She could be a model on a winter shoot, dressed in a white fur and contrasting black everything else, with a glimmering silver necklace perfectly arranged. She even has the head cant of a model.

I don't look forward to what she does next. I imagine it will include lots more Michele time on T.V., raising money for the craziest of right-wing causes, and inserting her opinions where they're least needed.


Past posts about Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann's full speech, September 26, 2008

Who's divisive now?, October 18, 2008

She's got her priorities in order, April 8 2009

Michele B. with a Capitol Tea, November 6, 2009

Support for the HPV vaccine from an unusual source, September 18, 2011

Friday, December 19, 2014

Retail Photos

It's the holiday season. More time spent in stores, more retail weirdness captured in images. First, from the drugstore:

Thank goodness this product contains no milk. Does that mean it contains muscles, though?

These three products, all located with the multivitamins, make claims that I'm sure are not true and proven effective. "Clinically tested" doesn't mean "clinically proven."

I couldn't believe this magazine juxtaposition. I wonder if the person who set up the rack is familiar with the old dichotomy of roles available to women, the Madonna and the whore?

This one is from the food co-op. (Probably time to get a new container, though, now that I look at it more carefully.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No Time to Inspect a Rebus

It appears I write about billboards fairly frequently. Here's another one that's currently gracing some Twin Cities highways. This is mainly a design critique.

First of all, if you buy a small billboard like this, don't try to do too much. A few words and your company name are about all that can be seen on that size at the distances involved.

Worse, in this case, is that the designer tried to make a rebus out of the message, but of the three images used, only one is instantly recognizable.

While driving past at 60 MPH and hundreds of feet away, who can identify that gray boxy thing on the left? And if you've never heard of the company, who can recognize, let alone remember, that weird name or realize that the blue side represents cooling and the red side means heat?

I didn't even notice the bottom tag line about warranties until I drove up underneath it (on the frontage road) to take a photo, and, even worse, I didn't see the red bar at the bottom with the services listed until just now when I was writing this. Aside from being small, the red bar blends into the brown frame around the billboard.

So Bonfe, stop wasting your money. If you think billboards are a good choice for you (I'm not so sure, but will give you the benefit of the doubt), narrow your message and focus on name recognition.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Hath Google Analytics Wrought?

I'm having a kind of lazy day, so I wasn't feeling super-inspired to share any of the many tabs I've got open. While looking through my blog's in-coming searches on Google Analytics, though, I came across this search string:

pics of womans yousing haroin in the feminal artery
I can assure you that this user did not find any pictures of women using heroin in their femoral arteries on my blog, let alone womans yousing haroin in the feminal artery. I have no idea why Google would lead a user with that string of almost nonsensical words to my blog.

My work for today is done, aside from reporting that there is, in truth, a website called The Feminal Artery. Clever word play in that case, rather than clueless typing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seven Years of Daughter Number Three

Seven years ago today I finally got my act together and started this blog. That's 2,677 posts, for those keeping score.

This is me at age 7, the beginning of second grade:

Note the light green dress with lace collar, made by my grandmother.

Second grade was a big year because, for the first time, a teacher took notice of me. I may even have been a bit of a teacher's pet. (Though she's also the teacher who gave the misunderstood "letter writing" test.)

My grades were generally B+, with B the second highest grade on a four-point scale. I was getting S grades (the highest) in reading and spelling by the end of the year. My lowest grades were in writing, by which they meant handwriting. It seems my daily work was not neatly written; I got minus marks for that each quarter.

I missed 23 days of school, 10 of them in the third quarter. Winter was tough in those days. That may have been the beginning of my yearly encounters with bronchitis.

Despite knowing that I liked my teacher, the incident with the letter-writing test is just about the only thing I specifically remember from second grade, other than the fact that one of my classmates' fathers was decapitated in a car accident after he ran into a train. I guess something like that takes up all of your available long-term memory space when you're only 7 years old.

Past anniversary posts, each with age-appropriate photographic evidence:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Introverted Thoughts

Jason Kottke today reprinted a list of rules for dealing with the introverts in your life. I guess it's from Fast Company. He seemed to think it was worth a notice, despite the fact that he's written about the topic himself in the past:
1. Respect their need for privacy.
2. Never embarrass them in public.
3. Let them observe first in new situations.
4. Give them time to think; don't demand instant answers.
5. Don't interrupt them.
6. Give them advance notice of expected changes in their lives.
7. Give them 15 minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing.
8. Reprimand them privately.
9. Teach them new skills privately.
10. Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests & abilities.
11. Don't push them to make lots of friends.
12. Respect their introversion; don't try to remake them into extroverts.
But, to me, the thing with this list is that a lot of it is general advice for how to treat anyone who's a friend or even just, you know, a human being:
1. Respect their need for privacy. (While everyone needs privacy, the amount will vary from person to person; this is where being sensitive to other people comes in.)
2. Never embarrass them in public. (Number 8, Reprimand them privately, seems to go without saying after rule number 2. And even number 9, Teach them new skills privately, is just a part of number 2, and generally good advice for all people.)
4. Give them time to think; don't demand instant answers.
5. Don't interrupt them.
A few other recommendations on the list don't seem specifically like introvert needs to me. Maybe more like the needs of a person who has problems with transitions, which I don't believe goes with introversion:
6. Give them advance notice of expected changes in their lives.
7. Give them 15 minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing.
The only rules that seem to be truly for introverts:
3. Let them observe first in new situations. (I would add the adjective "social" before "situations," unless the writer was assuming they were social situations.)
11. Don't push them to make lots of friends. (Number 10 about "enabling" them to make one best friend sounds kind of infantilizing.)
12. Respect their introversion; don't try to remake them into extroverts.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Odds of Understanding This Story Are Not in Their Favor

You may not have read the Hunger Games trilogy, but take my word for it, this poster (seen in the lobby of a theater that's showing Mockingjay Part 1) is completely inappropriate:

Let's see, where to start.

The ad's headline modifies one of the catch phrases from the book: "May the odds be ever in your favor." This innocuous-sounding sentence is pronounced when a young person has just been selected to fight to the death on national television. Everyone knows the odds are not in their favor, so the phrase is basically a cruel joke.

The silhouetted figure on the left is supposed to be the main character, Katniss Everdeen, as indicated by her braided hair and quiver of arrows. She's toasting some other person with a paper cup full of soda pop.

This is the same Katniss Everdeen whose home town, District 12, is full of starving people. She learned to shoot arrows because hunting was the only way to feed her family. She was the object of pity (or empathy) from another character in the book, who purposely burned bread in his family's bakery so that it would be thrown out and Katniss could take it home to her family. So it makes perfect sense to show her drinking a disposable cup full of over-priced, high-fructose-corn-syrup carbonated water.

I'm not sure what or who the other figure -- host of multiple butterflies -- is supposed to represent. Maybe Effie, the publicist who first says the words, "May the odds be ever in your favor," to Katniss. It doesn't really matter. It just adds to the absurdity of the entire piece, which is intended to sell viewers on buying a $12 card from the theater that will, over time, "pay them back" with larger servings of popcorn and soda.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Bad Example of Public Policy

I'm close to finishing the book A Midwife's Tale, which won a Pulitzer Prize back in 1991. It's a popular history, based on the life and diary of Martha Moore Ballard from 1785 to 1812 in eastern Maine. Ballard was, as the title says, a midwife. Her diary was long known to historians but was discounted as dry and lacking details until feminist historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich got ahold of it.

The book is mostly a social history of women-oriented topics, obviously, though it's as much about women's work in the home and social conditions generally as it about helping women have babies. But near the end, there's a disturbing detail about how the local municipalities were run that doesn't have anything to do with women.

Martha's husband, Ephraim, is 10 years older than her. By 1803, she is almost 70 and he is nearly 80. He has spent his career as a surveyor, working for all of the landed men in the area who want to measure parcels to sell and plat towns to build. But Ephraim, it turns out, has had a side job all along: he is also the town tax collector.

I've never thought much about how tax collection happens now, and probably less in past times. In Maine, c. 1800, this is how it was:
[Ephraim] had signed a note binding [him] to collect $4,550, the town's combined total tax bill for the year 1803. Although he had worked hard at collecting..., and had turned in his proceeds to the town treasurer every two months as the law required, his accounting on November 17 had fallen short by $800. The town had no choice but to imprison him.... No sentimental regard for the man's age or for his years of service could abrogate the law. He would be treated like other debtors (page 266).
Debtors in the town jail were not the same as felons; they could come and go to pursue their work and even eat their meals, but they couldn't go as far as their homes (unless that was near by, which Ephraim's was not). This left Martha, 70ish -- all of her children grown and with families of their own -- without a man to chop wood and do the other work customarily done by a man. This is a woman who has borne nine children herself, and who is in declining health of an unmentionable female nature, so her stress over all of the added work comes up in her diary.

But I have to say: What a stupid public policy. You take a job like tax collector, which generally isn't perceived positively in the first place, and outsource it with the penalty of prison if it's not done correctly. What a way to get someone to do the job. What a way to run a state!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Two Unrelated Follow-Ups

In my sprawling post about wage theft a few weeks ago, I mentioned an upcoming Supreme Court case where Amazon warehouse workers were asking to be paid for the time they're required to stand in lines, waiting to be searched for stolen items. Well, the Court has ruled on the case, and I'm sorry to say they found that it's okay to not pay workers for almost 2.5 hours a week.

The logic of the unanimous (!) decision, written by Clarence Thomas, is lacking. He takes to the dictionary to define terms in the federal labor law: integral and indispensable. The fact that the workers cannot refuse to spend almost 2.5 hours of their time on this non-integral and dispensable activity doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether they should be paid for it.


My second follow-up is more fun. Back in late September, I wrote about signs that people put up in their work spaces as a means for them to carve out a bit of mental space, especially if they deal with the public or internal clients frequently. (Kind of like the Not Always Right website, come to think of it.)

I asked at the time for other examples, and a couple of commenters responded. But yesterday I saw a redrawn version of one of the classics I remember from my summer-job days:

I guess this one isn't exactly on the topic of worker-public or worker-client interaction, related to complaints and deadlines, but it's one that circulated among workers and was posted over desks back in the day.

Aside from the fact that it's in color, this one has several additional panels that didn't exist when I used to see it: There were no beta testers or business consultants. Documentation and support weren't mentioned. I don't remember billing or operations, either, and the marketing part seems not quite as I recall...

Wait a minute, I have this magical thing called Google. Perhaps I should look it up!

And voila, the art exactly as I remember it:

From a site called, with other examples over the decades from various sectors.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrating Pareidolia

Time for a break today from all the angst that is our world. This is my chance to appreciate the Twitter account called Faces in Things (which shows up as By Halloween Costumes in my best of Twitter roundups, but has the Twitter handle @FacesPics).

A couple of recent ones:

Caption: This moth looks like an old man wrapped in a blanket.

Caption: For the love of God, GET IT OUT!

And here's a photo I took myself yesterday while having X-rays taken of my ankle:

Possible caption: Sad cartoon cat, pressed into the service of taking X-rays.

Clearly, I will not win the New Yorker cartoon caption contest any time soon. Anyone have a better one?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Torture Report

Illegal, inhumane, incompetent. Ineffective and expensive, too.

I'm glad the Senate Intelligence Committee managed to release its report on torture by the CIA. There's a lot more they weren't allowed to release, so just imagine what those pages included, if "rectal feeding" was thought allowable.

MSNBC last night included several great segments:

  • Chris Hayes with multiple insiders from the Bush years who back up what the report says. One, an assistant to Colin Powell, described how he was lied to. Another, a CIA interrogator, told how he was ordered to keep interrogating a person who clearly didn't know anything.

  • Chris Hayes's personal essay on how he wonders if we really are a country of laws.

  • Rachel Maddow telling of a Soviet-era KGB agent who defected to the U.S. in 1964 and was tortured to make sure he had told the CIA all he knew. Later, they realized he had been telling the truth, and changed their policy to never allow torture again. Suddenly, as he was dying in witness protection in 2008, the CIA gave him a commendation and an apology. Just as either Barack Obama or John McCain was about to become president -- both anti-torture, and (one would have thought!) likely to prosecute people who carried out torture.

  • Lawrence O'Donnell telling how retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller was key to making the report happen.
Writing on MinnPost this morning, Dr. Steven Miles, a local but internationally known critic of doctors who participate in torture, reiterates the ineptness, ineffectiveness, and expense of the torture program. He closes with one of the many fine examples of CIA lies about the program, this one before Congress in 2006 by CIA Director Peter Goss, a CIA director who oversaw the torture program:
"This program has brought us incredible information. It's a program that could continue to bring us incredible information. It's a program that could continue to operate in a very professional way. It's a program that I think if you saw how it's operated you would agree that you would be proud that it's done right and well, with proper safeguards." Contrasting the CIA program to the abuse of prisoners in U.S. military detention at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Goss stated that the CIA program "is a professionally-operated program that we operate uniquely ... . We are not talking military, and I'm not talking about anything that a contractor might have done ... in a prison somewhere or beat somebody or hit somebody with a stick or something. That's not what this is about."
Miles concludes: "It was all lies — the CIA, our government, was lying to us."

For anyone who tries to make excuses about how it was post-9/11 and we had to use extreme measures in the face of terrorism, remember the Convention on Torture, which Ronald Reagan signed on behalf of the U.S. in 1984:

That yellow highlighted text says:
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
To get around those strictures, the Bush administration and the CIA changed its name to "enhanced interrogation" instead of torture. And got the so-called liberal media to go along with it.

The only person to serve time related to the CIA's torture program is whistleblower John Kiriakou, a CIA analyst who went on ABC News in 2007 and confirmed that a single case of waterboarding had taken place. He's still in prison. He should be released now.

To close, a few tweets from yesterday:
The two psychologists who helped the CIA create the torture techniques made over $81 million doing so.
By Alexis Goldstein

Shouldn't media organizations covering the torture report have a story on how they decided to use a euphemism vs. the word "torture"?
By § [lawremipsum]

Don't forget: Much of what is in the torture report (like death of a CIA detainee) was documented years ago by reporters who got shouted down.
By Monika Bauerlein

"They were planning an attack!" is the "He had a gun!" of national security.
By Saladin Ahmed 

Coincidentally, the only information interrogators got from waterboarding prisoners was "I can't breathe."
By Frank Conniff

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Four Tabs on a Theme

Four recent tabs related to recent news about race in America. First, a map showing implicit bias against blacks, by state:

It's notable how little this map correlates with the usual red/blue breakdown by voting or ideology. Generally, the more western you are, the less implicit bias. And for the most part, a smaller black population correlates with less implicit bias. Though, as the story points out, even the lightest blue on this map still falls in the category the researchers call "moderately prefer white." A score of .35 and up is called "strongly prefer white," and that applies to every state shown except New Mexico and Oregon.

And catch this:

A cautionary note: The people who have taken the IAT at the Project Implicit website are not a random sample of Americans, either nationally or on a state-by-state basis. Rather, they're people who, for some reason, chose to take an online test measuring their implicit biases -- which may actually mean they are less biased than average. (After all, at least they wanted to know how biased they are.)
(Here's an earlier post that shows the implicit bias stats from a bunch of other demographic perspectives.)

Then a short article on how watermelons came to be a recurring racist image. The fruit, though native to Africa, was not particularly associated with African-descended people until after the Civil War, when newly freed and black farmers were selling melons in Southern cities.
...the fruit symbolized [these] qualities...: Uncleanliness, because eating watermelon is so messy. Laziness, because growing watermelons is so easy, and it’s hard to eat watermelon and keep working—it’s a fruit you have to sit down and eat. Childishness, because watermelons are sweet, colorful, and devoid of much nutritional value. And unwanted public presence, because it’s hard to eat a watermelon by yourself.
Yes, you're lazy if you stop and sit down to eat. Yes, that makes sense.

Next, Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone about how the police are becoming an illegitimate force in our country:
There were more cops surrounding Eric Garner on a Staten Island street this past July 17th then there were surrounding all of AIG during the period when the company was making the toxic bets that nearly destroyed the world economy years ago. Back then AIG's regulator...had just one insurance expert on staff, policing a company with over 180,000 employees.

This is the crooked math that's going to crash American law enforcement if policies aren't changed. We flood poor minority neighborhoods with police and tell unwitting officers to aggressively pursue an interventionist strategy that sounds like good solid policing in a vacuum.

But the policy looks worse when a white yuppie like me can live in the same city as Garner for 15 years and never even be asked the time by someone in uniform. And at the very highest levels of society, where corruption has demonstrably been soaring in recent years, the police have almost been legislated out of existence.
And finally, from Slate, the racist, classist origins of "broken windows" policing in a book called The Unheavenly City. I think I have a copy of that (or its sequel, The Unheavenly City Revisited) in one of my basement boxes of college books.

So much of this comes down to a disagreement about where and how people want to live -- in diverse, active cities, or quiet, generic pseudo-ruralness. Or maybe that disagreement is just a cover for people who can't admit they don't want to live with people who are different from them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Something to Keep in Mind

I don't favor using a draft to populate the U.S. military, but sometimes I wonder if something like a draft might not be a good way to select our police forces.

The self-selection process we currently use, it seems to me, has a pretty high likelihood of resulting in officers who are enamored of having power over other people. And then there's the thing about how at least some police forces won't hire people who are too smart.

"Too smart" doesn't mean genius-level IQ, either. In the case linked above, the applicant had scored 125 on the test. The New London, Connecticut, police department — which won in court — said that it didn't want officers who would get bored with the job.

What part of interacting with the public to protect and serve them would be boring to someone with an IQ of 125? Let me guess, it's not that part of the job that's boring, it's the bureaucracy and need for mindless followership. Where does New London get its leadership and its detectives from, I wonder? Is there no room for advancement on the force?

I'm not a fan of the marching morons vision of societal change, but it seems like the New London police department subscribed to it. I wonder how widespread this practice is across America's police departments?


Note: Police departments don't administer IQ tests per se; scores on the tests they do give are correlated to IQ scores.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Giving GUM Its Due

Leafing through the Sunday papers, I saw this photo in the Pioneer Press:

The glass roof and other architectural details were a revelation, because I realized my mental image of the GUM department store in Moscow was completely wrong.

I couldn't say how I used to think of it exactly. I learned back in the Cold War, aka my childhood, that it was a hulking building, anonymous and Soviet-style with long lines of people waiting for stuff. Bread, I imagined.

When, actually, this is what it looks like:

Built in the early 1890s, it's a fine example of the naturally lit, iron-boned arcades that were prominent at that time, like the Metropolitan Building in Minneapolis, the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, the Pension Building (National Building Museum) in Washington, or the Market Arcade in Buffalo. Buildings that didn't need artificial light most of the day, and that had grand open spaces for people to mix and mingle.

Okay, maybe GUM used to be nice, but during the Soviet years it must have been ugly, right? Well, I couldn't find a lot of photos from that time, and they're all black and white, which automatically makes them look drab, but these don't seem too bad:

Aside from falling sway to what I'm now sure was overt anti-Soviet propaganda, my childhood self also had a big bias against old buildings. I preferred modernism, even brutalism, at the time. This was the era of "urban renewal," remember, when buildings like the Metropolitan or GUM were thought to be monstrosities.

Like the city of Minneapolis, I wanted to tear it all down and start over. Preferably in generic concrete.