blueollie

What the hands up, don’t shoot is about (and the news isn’t all negative)

I’ve thought about racism lately and some of the “don’t shoot” events and the like. Some CNN anchors did the hands up thing:

cnndontshoot

And of course the some are infuriated as some were infuriated when President and First Lady Obama dared to talk about their direct experience with racism (which, by the way, wasn’t a “feel sorry for me” plea but rather to demonstrate that black people deal with racism no matter how high up the ladder they climb). This is curious, because many who are bellowing the loudest are the FIRST to claim the “victim” mantle for themselves. :-)

Well, if you want to know what the “hands up, don’t shoot” stuff is about, watch this video:

In the video, Jones can be seen getting out of his car when Groubert pulled up and asked for his license. Jones can be seen reaching into his car for his license, and as he does, Groubert begins yelling at Jones and fires several shots.

Jones was hit by one bullet in the hip. He is recovering at home after being hospitalized for the injury.

While shooting at Jones, Groubert can be heard yelling, “Get out of the car, get out of the car.”

Jones replied,”I just got my license, you said get my license.”

Groubert responded by telling Jones to get on the ground.

While on the ground Jones said, “I have my license right here, you said get my license.”

In the video Groubert can be heard asking Jones if he was hit by a bullet and went on to say, “Bro, you dove head first back into your car.”

Who in the heck gets a gun pulled on them for a seat belt violation?

The (sort of) good news is that at least the State of South Carolina is taking allegations of this type of misconduct seriously; the officer shown above was charged and is on his way to trial; two other officers got indicted for other incidents (which lead to seemingly needless deaths).

December 20, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Uncomfortable Truth here

Sutton cartoon, via the Boston Globe:

1213sutton

December 15, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | | Leave a comment

Racism: difficult subject to discuss honestly

The recent events involving the deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement has put the issue of racism on my mind. It is not my intent to comment on the Ferguson or on the Staten Island deaths but to talk about racism in general. One can find data here.

But racism is a very hard topic to discuss (as Attorney General Holder pointed out) for many reasons. One reason, of course, is that there is a fear that saying the “wrong” thing can have catastrophic consequences; even a Harvard Ph. D. and a Nobel Laureate scientist can get taken down. So, it sure appears that some dialogues consist of someone in authority posturing about how super ethical and non-racist they are.

I went to one “Day of Dialogue” (perhaps 15-18 years ago) and my break out group included a Dean, who mostly bloviated on and on about how wonderful his department was. Talk about a waste of time.
And to many, what passes for public discussion on race is really just…well, liberal propaganda:

It’s obvious that there is no real race dialogue. The black community is rather monolithic in its repeating of liberal thoughts. The white community is split between liberal and conservative. Sixty percent of white America is somewhat conservative.
Black and white liberals agree with each other. If there is to be a real race dialogue, I believe it has to be between the black community and white conservatives.
The more conservatives are maligned or threatened, the farther away they will move. Their wealth goes with them. District 150 is a perfect example. It is incumbent on the black community to be reaching out to them. If I’m drowning, I can’t wait for a hand to show up. My hand has to go up and hope someone is there.
I envision a real race dialogue occurring between these two groups, who have the same Creator. There is one common denominator between the two — the church. White sitting next to black and not debating, not trying to win but simply be heard. The main obstacle right now is everyone is preaching to their own choir. We need to listen to each other.

Note: this guy isn’t the most articulate person, but I believe he represents a widely held point of view.

Another difficult thing is that racism is often equated with hate. I am sure that some of it IS a distrust of “the other”; after all, 50,000 years ago, we may well have been fighting with other tribes and bands over that life saving water hole or hunting ground. I can easily see some xenophobia coming from our hard wiring (which does NOT mean that we shouldn’t work to overcome it…we should!)

However I think that it is entirely possible that at least some racism is NOT driven by hate but rather by our tendency to think inductively. Humans tend to go by what they see, and our views tend to be local. I’ll give you some examples:

Say “Indian” and I tend to think of a merchant, a medical doctor or engineer; my vision of India is a country where everyone walks around with laptops. Of course, that is wildly untrue; what has happened is that the Indians I’ve encountered have all been professionals; many are highly intelligent and intellectually accomplished.

Say “Asian” and what do you think? Many think “excellence in engineering and mathematics”; witness this spoof (0:20-0:22)

I still remember my Chinese office mate at the University of Texas telling me “you know, there are a lot of stupid people in China! Really, we have stupid people too!”. That is why some of the scenes in the book/film The Sand Pebbles (Richard McKenna’s book) in which the (white) American sailors thought that the Chinese were too stupid to understand the basics of engineering struck me as very…odd.

Now think “typical NBA” or “typical NFL” player and you’d probably conjure up a black guy. Yes, 68 percent of the NFL is black, and 78 percent of the NBA is black. From that, one might (erroneously) conclude that the average black male is significantly stronger and more physically dangerous than other males of the same age which can lead to catastrophic interactions with the police in the event of an altercation.

Think about it: in the Eric Garner choking death, the police wrestled him to the ground with a chokehold. I remarked that this scuffle was tame compared to what I did in Judo competition. A friend reminded me that I was an in-shape 21 year old who was trained, ran, lifted weights…and Mr. Garner was an obese middle age man with asthma..certainly not an athlete in a martial sport. Police protocols should deal with the actual public that they serve and not with outliers in health and youth.

Then we also have some factors that seem, well, just taboo to bring up; and an honest discussion of the issues should involve some freedom to discuss the taboo ideas. If such freedom is taken away, then such a discussion is just seen as propaganda.

One factor is that the situation is simply not symmetric. In OUR country, there was no white slavery and no legalized segregation against white people. This point is brought home very well here:

Another factor is that blacks and Hispanics commit disproportionately more crime (example: here are murder statistics from 2011). Hence, wouldn’t it just be “common sense” to be more suspicious of black males? Well, the answer is “no” for several reasons. One is probabilistic: suppose 1 percent of the males in group X committed violent crime and 2 percent in group Y committed the same crime. Then those in group Y would be twice as likely to commit that crime, yet if one just randomly stopped a male in group X, the probability that they weren’t criminal would be 99 percent; it would be 98 percent for group Y.

Another reason: one has to understand what the crimes are about. In poor black communities, the police are not trusted to take the concerns of the citizens seriously. This is for several reasons, not the least of which is if one calls the police, the police are likely to investigate the caller for something trivial in the caller’s past. Hence, much of the violent crime is retaliatory in nature; “taking the law into one’s own hands” (vigilantism). See Stephen Pinker’s book Better Angels of our Nature for more details.

Another factor is that it is just plain difficult to put yourself into someone else’s lives. If you’ve been treated well by police, it is easy to say, “hey, don’t do anything wrong and you have nothing to fear from the police”. Of course, that is completely untrue; witness this non-life-threatening but humiliating experience

Belk

Keep in mind this is an accomplished professional whose story could have been checked in a few minutes… (and my African American friends have told me that they have encountered similar). Even former Republican Representative JC Watts recounts being pulled over for a merely “driving while black” in his book What Color is a Conservative. Many people simply refuse to believe that this happens at a significantly higher rate to a specific group of people because…well, it hasn’t happened to them or to someone they know.

And, much more tragically, there is this. Watch the video; the police pulled up and shot this kid within two seconds, and he was such sitting on a park bench!

Another taboo idea is the fact that minorities underachieve intellectually both in educational outcomes and on standardized tests. This IS a source of embarrassment to minorities; J. C. Watts says (in his book) that the tendency for liberals to “lower the bar” for blacks was one of the reasons he wasn’t a liberal. Leonard Pitts has a candid column on this topic and Law Professor Stephen Carter talks about his experience (and some embarrassment) of receiving affirmative action in his book Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby.

So, I think it is perfectly reasonable for someone to think “well, black and brown people not doing as well in this country might reflect an uncomfortable reality that there are inherent differences in IQ, at least statistically.” After all, aren’t most countries in Africa and Latin America (and Mexico) third world countries?

I don’t think it is necessarily hateful to bring this up. In fact, I brought up similar thoughts in private discussions when I was an undergraduate. Fortunately, my good friend was a history major and he obtained some good resources for me to read. Later on, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel gave an excellent, well researched answer to such honest questions.

As far as the IQ issue goes, I can recommend this Ron Unz article in The American Conservative. Consider the following:

Consider, for example, the results from Germany obtained prior to its 1991 reunification. Lynn and Vanhanen present four separate IQ studies from the former West Germany, all quite sizable, which indicate mean IQs in the range 99–107, with the oldest 1970 sample providing the low end of that range. Meanwhile, a 1967 sample of East German children produced a score of just 90, while two later East German studies in 1978 and 1984 came in at 97–99, much closer to the West German numbers.

These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.

Bottom line: social factors CAN explain differences between group means in things like IQ tests.

Conclusion I suppose that what I am getting at is that I really don’t like the climate in which honest debate is stifled. It is possible for good people to disagree on things, and it is possible for good people to hold honest but erroneous views. But how can an erroneous view be dealt with if people don’t feel free to ask the honest question?

Sure, I get it: no one wants to be a captive audience to blatantly racist and hateful rants. But not all racism comes from hate; it can be a combination of unhelpful evolutionary instincts (we are NOT blank slates!) and being fooled by our tendency to go by what we see in our own little bubbles and our own tendency to reason inductively.

And yes, many who might say that they want a discussion really don’t; what they want is a sympathetic ear for their grievances, some of which are genuine and some aren’t. It is sometimes hard to tell which is which.

Example: in the early 1990s, I was driving north on I-55 in southern Illinois when I was tailed for 10 miles by a Illinois State trooper car. I could see the guy talking on his radio repeatedly. Eventually, he pulled me over and my then wife pulled behind him; then he realized that I wasn’t really a suspect for anything. So, was it merely my beat up car with Texas plates or did my race play a contributing factor?

Interestingly enough, when I posted this, I got a very interesting comment; it said, in part:

The Illinois State Police is the most professional police department in the state of Illinois.
To say they profile is rediculous. (sic) I’m sure you got pulled over because of your history with the Illinois State Police and the officer knew that upon seeing your car.

He called me “paranoid”. I go back to “this doesn’t happen to people I know, so something must be wrong with you” belief that many stubbornly hold. I seriously doubt that the person making this comment has the mental agility (and ability) too see beyond what seems obvious to him.

Of course, stupidity and criminality comes in all flavors; one can always find despicable people in any large enough group. And hey, none of us are perfect, least of all me!

December 14, 2014 Posted by | books, racism, social/political | , , , | 1 Comment

About that Ferguson non-indictment

I have a friend who is a lawyer and has done some work for me.

She posted a link to this video where a law professor and a prosecuting attorney are interviewed…this was PRIOR to today’s announcement.

Note: I understand that the jurors were reviewing THIS case and not social policy.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, racism, social/political | | Leave a comment

Redskins: offensive name or not?

Personally, I cringe when I hear the name “Redskins” (applied to a sports team); I am not adverse to “Native American theme” names but that one (or “Indians”)…I don’t like.

But I am not one to tell someone that they should be offended, and a predominately Native American school uses that name for their sports teams.

Interesting article, I think.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Obama’s moderation and racism insurance

Tongue in cheek: “racism insurance”

Policy: Paul Krugman points out that President Obama has been trying to get moderate policies past the Republican party’s hard right wing:

I actually agree with a lot of what David Brooks says today. But — you know there has to be a “but” — so does a guy named Barack Obama. Which brings me to one of the enduringly weird aspects of our current pundit discourse: constant calls for a moderate, sensible path that supposedly lies between the extremes of the two parties, but is in fact exactly what Obama has been proposing.

So, David says that

The federal government should borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure, including better bus networks so workers can get to distant jobs. The fact that the federal government has not passed major infrastructure legislation is mind-boggling, considering how much support there is from both parties.

Well, the Obama administration would love to spend more on infrastructure; the problem is that a major spending bill has no chance of passing the House. And that’s not a problem of “both parties” — it’s the GOP blocking it.

[…]

It’s an amazing thing: Obama is essentially what we used to call a liberal Republican, who faces implacable opposition from a very hard right. But Obama’s moderation is hidden in plain sight, apparently invisible to the commentariat.

No kidding.

October 25, 2014 Posted by | economics, political/social, politics, racism, republicans | , , | Leave a comment

in St. Louis: Rams vs. 49’ers tonight and…

Workout notes
Weights: pull ups (5 sets of 10) with hip hikes and Achilles
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 170, 4 x 170,
incline press: 10 x 135 (rotator cuff)
military presses: could not even begin with 50s, so did 3 sets of 10 x 40 standing.
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer, 1 set of 10 x 65 dumbbell (each arm)
pull downs: 3 sets of (7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low)

Then I ran 3 on the treadmill: 10:33 mile 1, 27:58 for mile 3 (6.7, 6.8, 7.0, 7.1), 28:51 for 5K

I did some up down/down dog and some “weightless squat to the bench”

Science
We are having a cool, wet fall. The rest of the globe has had a hot 6 months.

Protests
I haven’t seen protests here though I might; there were some at a recent Cardinal game. My wife joked that she’d side with the protesters, but I wouldn’t.

Was there police conduct in Ferguson? It sure LOOKS that way; even if the young man had scuffled with the cop earlier, if he is surrendering, the cop can’t shoot him.

But I can’t lionize the shooting victim. Where it appears that he didn’t deserve to be executed, he was still far from someone that I could relate to; he acted like a bully and acted very stupidly when first confronted by the police.

When it comes to profiling by police, I can much better relate to this guy.

But, ultimately, while I sympathize with neither the protesters or the counter protesters, I agree that the police should serve ALL its citizens and not merely those with education and money. And at times, it appears that the police are there not so much to protect all citizens but rather protect one segment of society from another segment of society, and I can understand people getting sick of that. But if one lives in a high crime area, one is more likely to be viewed with suspicion even if one is law-abiding, though the aforementioned link shows that “doing the right things” doesn’t give you immunity from police mistreatment.

October 13, 2014 Posted by | racism, running, social/political, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Cardinal fans trade barbs with Ferguson protestors

You can read about this here as well as see a video. Note: evidently, this was a place where Cardinal fans were taking a smoking break.

You can see some “lowlights” of this incident; I’ll mention this:

At about 10:25 a small blonde lady starts yelling at the protesters: “We’re the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have!”

“We”???? Uh, yes, there are some white people who have done some amazingly wonderful things; I doubt that this woman is one of them.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | racism, social/political | | Leave a comment

Climate change, creationism, jobs, and race

Talk about a sticky situation. A white lesbian couple paid a sperm bank for sperm from a white male…and ended up with sperm from a black male. Now they have a half-black daughter…and they are suing.

Oh sure, one can say that they entered a business transaction and didn’t get what they paid for. But what effect will this have on the kid? Ah, they’ll probably blame it on the racism of others. ;-)

Jobs report

248K new jobs last month; the good is that this is better than losing jobs. The bad: the new jobs aren’t paying well.

Science
The Aral Sea was once the 4’th largest lake in the world. By 2000 it had shrunk a great deal, and now it is almost gone.

aral_arg_1964234.0

aral_sea_2000_vs_2012.0

Reasons: many; one of them is irrigation. One consequence is that nearby areas no longer have the lake to moderate the extremes; so it is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.

Creationism: Why Evolution is True has an interesting take on a non-Sequitur cartoon.

October 4, 2014 Posted by | creationism, economy, politics, politics/social, racism, science, Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Some interesting science stuff: elephants, washers, exploding stars, sea mushrooms

The remnants of a relatively young star are still seen expanding. What is of special interest is that we are seeing some of the light directly and other parts of the light after it has been reflected off of dust…and due to the longer path, the reflected light from the same event is reaching us later than the direct light!

Bulletin of concerned scientists: wonder if the US should consider calling for a testing ban on “hypersonic” missiles (slower than the ICBMs but fast enough to react quickly). The article is worth reading if only to learn about the technology.

Job discrimination: an applicant changed his first name from Jose to Joe…and ended up getting call backs that he didn’t get earlier.

Life sciences After almost 30 years, scientists were able to place a type of sea mushroom (not quite a fungus, not quite a fish) into a place on the tree of life.

Elephants: we really shouldn’t hunt these creatures; they are too smart and can take pleasure in play:

Technology and vibrations: watch the consequences of an unbalanced load and subsequent vibrations:

September 4, 2014 Posted by | astronomy, evolution, racism, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

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