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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,262

Journal Archives

What I Learned About Stop-and-Frisk From Watching My Black Son

When I heard that my 21-year-old son, a student at Harvard, had been stopped by New York City police on more than one occasion during the brief summer he spent as a Wall Street intern, I was angry. On one occasion, while wearing his best business suit, he was forced to lie face-down on a filthy sidewalk because—well, let’s be honest about it, because of the color of his skin. As an attorney and a college professor who teaches criminal justice classes, I knew that his constitutional rights had been violated. As a parent, I feared for his safety at the hands of the police—a fear that I feel every single day, whether he is in New York or elsewhere.

Moreover, as the white father of an African-American son, I am keenly aware that I never face the suspicion and indignities that my son continuously confronts. In fact, all of the men among my African-American in-laws—and I literally mean every single one of them—can tell multiple stories of unjustified investigatory police stops of the sort that not a single one of my white male relatives has ever experienced.

In The Atlantic’s April feature story “Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?” author Daniel Bergner cited Professor Frank Zimring’s notion that stop-and-frisk is “a special tax on minority males.” I cannot endorse the conclusion that this “special tax” actually helps make communities safer. As indicated by the competing perspectives in Atlantic essays by Donald Braman and Paul Larkin, scholars disagree on whether crime rate data actually substantiate the claims of stop-and-frisk advocates. Either way, I do believe that the concept of a “special tax” deserves closer examination.

Proponents of stop-and-frisk often suggest that the hardships suffered by young men of color might be tolerable if officers were trained to be polite rather than aggressive and authoritarian. We need to remember, however, that we are talking about imposing an additional burden on a demographic that already experiences a set of alienating “taxes” not shared by the rest of society.


Please, for the love of god, do *NOT* read the comments below...

U.S. Army’s New Hair Requirements Called ‘Racially Biased’

Around 6,000 people have signed a petition saying the Army's new appearance guidelines are 'racially biased' for not allowing women to wear their hair in twists or dreadlocks, among other styles.

The U.S. Army is under fire for new grooming regulations that scores of American soldiers say are “racially biased” against women with ethnically diverse hair.

Around 6,000 soldiers and civilians have signed a White House petition asking the Army to reconsider the appearance guidelines found in AR 670-1, which prohibit hairstyles including “twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as ‘any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.’” The petitioners have until April 19 to attract 100,000 signatures, if they want to receive a formal response from the White House.

Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, who started the petition, told the Army Times that whereas she once wore her hair neatly in two unobtrusive twists, she is “kind of at a loss now with what to do with my hair.”

“Most black women, their hair doesn’t grow straight down, it grows out,” she said. “I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve white-washed it all.”

The military created a slideshow which offers photo examples of the unauthorized hairstyles, often modeled on racially diverse soldiers.


The Astronaut's Harley

Aficionados of fine timepieces and devotees of Harley-Davidson motorbikes do not, generally speaking, occupy the same social circles. But their planets collided on 28 March at the Baselworld 2014 watch and jewellry show in Basel, Switzerland. Bell & Ross, a French watchmaker, unveiled the mighty B-Rocket, a rumbling, log-slung hog that, to quote the company’s exuberant media release, “could have been ridden by a classic superhero, a NASA test pilot or a young gun thirsty for glory”.

Bell & Ross, known for its aircraft-inspired timepieces, spent more than a year collaborating with UK-based Shaw Harley-Davidson Speed & Custom to design and construct the B-Rocket. The bike’s swept style takes inspiration from 1960s experimental military aviation, so aerodynamic efficiency was the top priority in its creation. Domed aluminium covers conceal 10in disc brakes on the front and rear wheels, and a pair of adjustable winglets behind the front forks can be adjusted to increase front-wheel contact with the pavement. The large rear fender structure, hand-crafted of steel and complete with a flag-emblazoned fin, incorporates Plexiglass sections over the rear-wheel reveals. Alas, the nacelles below the Harley-Davidson V-twin engine do not contain jet turbines, but they are functional air intakes: the right side feeds the engine and the left cools the oil.

Like a vintage Bonneville speed-record bike, the B-Rocket features a chest-against-the-fuel-tank riding position for reduced drag, a posture eased by leather pads on the tank and turbine housings where knees rest. The rider hunkers behind a jet-like nosecone fairing, which contains only one gauge, a Bell & Ross-designed rev-counter – just enough to keep the pilot “attuned to his machine’s heartbeat”. (The B-Rocket also rolls without a headlamp, brakelamp, turn indicators or mirrors.)


"Black Jeopardy"...LOL

So, You Think You're Smarter Than A CIA Agent?

The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the kitchen table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria. It wasn't the only question she was considering; there were others:

Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014? Will Russian armed forces enter Kharkiv, Ukraine, by May 10? Rich's answers to these questions would eventually be evaluated by the intelligence community, but she didn't feel much pressure because this wasn't her full-time gig.

"I'm just a pharmacist," she said. "Nobody cares about me, nobody knows my name, I don't have a professional reputation at stake. And it's this anonymity which actually gives me freedom to make true forecasts."

Rich does make true forecasts; she is curiously good at predicting future world events. For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of the Good Judgment Project, an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community.

According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions.


I don't know whether to be impressed or frightened...

The Function of Black Rage

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. ” – James Baldwin

When the tête-à-tête between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait over black culture, the “culture of poverty,” President Obama, Paul Ryan and American racism started, it was somewhat fascinating, but has become what Tressie McMillan Cottom described as “a nasty piece of cornbread.” It has left a rotten taste in my mouth. That’s mostly because, as congenial as the two have been toward one another, I detect in Chait’s argument one of my greatest pet peeves: a white person attempting to talk a black person down from their justifiable rage.

One of the issues that has come up in this debate is the way these two men view American history. Chait writes:

Coates and I disagree about racial progress in America. Coates sees the Americas' racial history as a story of continuity of white supremacy. I see the sequence (I’d call it a progression, but that term would load the argument in my favor) that began with chattel slavery and has led to the Obama administration as a story of halting, painful, non-continuous, but clear improvement.

What a luxury it must be to define the history of racism in America through the lens of progress.

He goes on:


OkCupid protests Firefox over CEO's anti-same-sex marriage donation

(CNN) -- Dating site OkCupid is calling for its members to ditch Firefox and use another browser to search for love. The company is protesting Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, who supported an anti-same-sex marriage campaign. Firefox is owned by Mozilla.

When OkCupid members navigate to the site on a Firefox browser, they are met with a message encouraging them to use an alternative browser to access the site, including Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and the amusingly misspelled Internet Exploder.

"Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure," reads the message.

The page points out that 8% of the matches made on OkCupid are between same-sex couples.

Last week, Mozilla promoted Eich, a longtime employee who was previously the company's chief technology officer, to the position of CEO. The move prompted renewed outrage by third-party developers and employees. Eich donated $1,000 to support Propostion 8 in 2008. The California ballot initiative sought to ban same-sex marriage in the state. The donation was made public in 2012 but Eich held onto his job.


Lufthansa to cancel 3,800 flights over pilots' strike

Source: BBC News

The airline said 425,000 passengers would be affected by the stoppages, due to take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Lufthansa added it would inform passengers via text message or email about the flight changes.

Its freight carrier, Lufthansa Cargo, will also be affected.

Lufthansa said the impact on profits would be "in the range of tens of millions of euros".

"The announcement alone has already caused significant damages since passengers have already rebooked flights and logistic customers have made arrangements with other cargo airlines to secure the transport of their goods," it said in a statement.

"During the three-day walkout by Cockpit teams, there will only be around 500 short- and long-haul flights by Lufthansa and Germanwings," Lufthansa said.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26822280

How to Bake Scientifically Accurate Cake Planets


I never had birthday cakes that cool when I was a kid...

Michelle Rhee got a free whitewash on the Today Show...

On March 26, NBC's Today show did a pretty moving report about Susan Sluyter, a veteran Massachusetts teacher who decided to leave the field because of the dramatic changes she's seen as a result of an overemphasis on standardized testing.

But it was the segment after the report that was so puzzling: an interview with corporate education lobbyist Michelle Rhee, who was at the center of a massive standardized-test cheating scandal when she was chancellor of the Washington, DC, school district.

In the piece about Sluyter, correspondent Ron Mott called her resignation letter a "sobering assessment" of the state of public education. Her words certainly resonated with many; as anchor Matt Lauer pointed out, when the Today show posed an online question: "Are standardized tests the best way to have kids learn?," 5,692 voted no, while just 41 voted yes.

Interesting, then, that the Today show would choose to feature Rhee, whose reputation was built largely around the idea that test-taking would be one of the most effective ways to expose bad teachers. Rhee's history on this question is legendary; a famous Time cover (12/8/08) showed Rhee, broom in hand, ready to clean up the messy business of public schools.

But Rhee's record wasn't really up for examination. Lauer's first question:

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