Sometimes "Racial Profiling" Is Just Traffic Violation Profiling
It's easy to go all "J'accuse!" on the cops -- especially because there is quite a bit of racial profiling that goes on. But the video in this case told the story -- that actress Taraji Henson's son was stopped for a reason, and it wasn't the color of his skin but the color of his driving.
Veronica Rocha writes for the LA Times:
"Empire" actress Taraji P. Henson apologized for alleging that Glendale police racially profiled her son during a traffic stop after a video obtained by the Los Angeles Times cast doubt about whether police had improperly targeted him.
Just hours after a 40-minute video showing an encounter between Glendale police and Henson's son went viral, the "Empire" actress apologized for accusing officers of racial profiling.
"I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department," she said in an Instagram message with the hashtag #TurningANegativeIntoAPositive #LoveTarajiPHenson. "A mother's job is not easy and neither is a police officer's. Sometimes as humans we overreact without gathering all the facts. As a mother in this case, I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son."
Her son ran a crosswalk as someone was crossing -- illegal under California traffic laws.
His race was not apparent in the video as he was driving.
The officer, still behind the 20-year-old, speeds up and initiates a traffic stop.
In the video, the officer approaches Henson's son's Honda and tells him he was stopped for driving through a lighted crosswalk while someone was walking in it. The youth tells the officer he was headed to a friend's home in Calabasas.
...Then the officer asked whether he had anything illegal in his car, and the young man responded that he had marijuana in his backpack, according to the video. He told the officer he has a state-issued medical marijuana license but couldn't find it.
"I appreciate you being honest with me about the weed. I do appreciate that because I do smell weed," the officer said.
During the lengthy traffic stop shown on the video, Johnson was searched and told the officer he had Ritalin, a prescription drug used to treat hyperactivity, in his car. He admitted he didn't have a prescription and that he had gotten the pill from a friend.
"You know you're not supposed to have that, right?" the officer told him.
Johnson then consented and allowed the officer to search his car. At that point, the officer was joined by two other officers and a police cadet.
And if anything, the police officer bent over backwards to not throw the book at him.
Handi Wipe: The Hillary E-mail Erasure, Perfectly Put
A tweet by Ken White:
I ask you, who among us hasn't wiped a server clean after its contents were requested by subpoena?
Correction: Ken White said the tweet was actually from Patrick Non-White, also a Popehat blogger.
Bubblylinks. (For a good time...cauldron.)
"Zero Tolerance" Is The First Step To The Total Pussification Of America
That sort of thinking -- which isn't thinking at all but a nonthink combo platter of fear, stupidity, and fear of litigation in action -- leads to the thinking that this sort of thing just below is necessary. (Helicopter parenting becoming "normal" parenting is surely a factor, too.)
And the news inspiring this blog post? Parents of kids at a school in Pennsylvania must sign a permission slip for their kids to eat an Oreo after it's used in a science experiment.
The Microagressed In The Workplace
Ashe Schow wonders at Wash Ex what will happen when all of these "delicate snowflakes" -- these students fresh out of the campus land of social justice, trigger warnings, and microagressions enter the work world:
The most recent incident of hurt feelings comes from the National Union of Students Women's conference in England. It was illustrative of the kind of accommodations being demanded by young people who probably won't be able to operate in such a cruel world. On Tuesday, the NUS Twitter account tweeted that some at the conference "are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it's triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!"
At long last -- someone is speaking out against the menacing, sexist, patriarchal gesture of putting one's palms together as a sign of approval.
You may recall "jazz hands" from the Occupy Wall Street movement's leech-ins. Except there, the gesture was called "up twinkles" if you approved of something and "down twinkles" if you did not. I give the NUS conference some serious down twinkles (and a frowny emoji) for their stunt.
If clapping creates anxiety for you, you are too fragile to enter any workplace. Perhaps we can find you a nice sunny room where they'll let you knit and color before they give you your meds.
Granted, this is (I sincerely hope) a minority of college students. And it seems mostly limited to women, especially those involved in campus sexual assault advocacy.
But this far-too-vocal minority is turning colleges into pre-schools. ... At some point these students -- who are all survivors of something, whether it be an actual crime, a regretted sexual encounter or crude YouTube video or something uttered in a law class -- are going to enter the real world.
If college is supposed to prepare students for the real world, what world are these students being prepared for?
I'd be afraid to hire anyone who takes any serious part in this stuff. (Bad enough when you sense that they've not only read Foucault from cover to cover, but bought in.)
Meet Mr. Or Ms. Texthole: "Life Must Stop So I Can Text Someone!"
I came to an intersection this morning just as this really old man got there.
Seeing his advanced age and having gotten used to these jerks who meander across the street while texting, I expected a wait similar to that of the Israelis when they were on hold to get into The Promised Land.
I expected wrong.
The guy -- probably in his late eighties -- actually scampered (yes, scampered) across the street.
Because he was so old and because he was wearing a jaunty hat, the way he scampered was actually the cutest thing to see.
He first looked my way -- saw there was a car waiting to turn -- and, surely because of that, hurried across the intersection.
About twenty minutes later, I arrived at the coffeeshop, where people were impeded from getting to the water and coffee fixings by some 40-something buttmunch texting into his phone. And not just for a second. For a couple of minutes.
Consider the message being sent in each case:
Other people are important!
Other people don't exist.
Thanks, I'll take the old dude.
For science-based advice (served up with bitey humor) on how to avoid being a buttmunch, please order my book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (around $11 at Amazon). (Also at Barnes & Noble.)
Illegal For Thee But Not For Me! Wheee! The Benefits Of A Job As A Govt Thug
The notion that one can acdt with impunity is so often the province of government functionaries and enforcers, as in the case of DEA agents who had sex parties with prostitutes.
Now, I'm of the mind that it's your body, and you should be able to rent it if you want to. However, as long as it's illegal for the rest of us to rent bodies for sex...
John Bresnahan and Lauren French write at Politico that DEA agents had sex parties with prostitutes, according to a watchdog:
Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had "sex parties" with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.
In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided "protection for the DEA agents' weapons and property during the parties," the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of between two to 10 days.
"Suspensions..."? Don't the rest of us get jail time or at least a fine and a nasty plea bargain, maybe to clean up trash on the highway, for this sort of thing?
The stunning allegations are part of an investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general into claims of sexual harassment and misconduct within DEA, FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The IG's office found that DEA did not fully comply with its probe.
Moreover,the report states that DEA, ATF and the Marshals Service repeatedly failed to report all risky or improper sexual behavior to security personnel at those agencies.
The report covers the period from 2009 to 2012, although some of the incidents occurred long before that.
Other allegations in the report:
* A deputy U.S. Marshal "entered into a romantic relationship" with a fugitive's spouse and would not break off the relationship for more than a year, even after being told by supervisors to end it;
* An ATF "Director of Industry Operations" had "solicited consensual sex with anonymous partners and modified a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play." The ATF employee even disabled a hotel's fire detection system, and when caught by the hotel, said he had done it before;
* "For over 3 years, an ATF Program Manager failed to report allegations that two training instructors were having consensual sex with their students. According to the incident report, the Program Manager learned the same instructors had engaged in substantially the same activities 3 years earlier but had merely counseled the training instructors without reporting the alleged activities" to the Internal Affairs Division.
Wrong for thee...not for meee! Megalomania complete with a juicy government pension.
It's Your Womb; You Should Be Able To Rent It Out If You Want
Paid surrogacy is illegal and considered a form of child trafficking in Oklahoma. Michigan women who try to rent out their wombs face five years in jail and a potential $50K in fines.
But why in the world should the government have a say in whether you rent out your womb?
Nick Gillespie and Joshua Swain write at reason:
Gestational surrogacy contracts are also against the law in New York, but State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-27th Senate Dist.) introduced a bill last year that would change that. And he has first hand experience with the issue. Hoylman and his husband had to go to California to find a surrogate to carry their daughter Silvia, who's now four.
"If the [bill] passes, we'll have surrogates who could actually engage with intended parents and egg donors," says Hoylman.
"We don't want to turn baby making into a commercial industry," says Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture.
Why not? What business is it of yours if consenting adults wish to engage in an exchange of money for a women to provide something very precious to a couple who likely cannot have a child of their own?
Trendy Salad Problem
They feel they need to put something in that should rightfully be classified as a sprig of a bush, not food.
Personally, I liked this tweet from the first (TheHill.com) link:
My dad just said Michelle Obama is bald because she doesn't eat 😂😂
Sometimes Speech Is Uncomfortable, Racist, Or Icky: Allow All Speech Or None On License Plates
The state of Texas refused to issue one of their specialty license plates to the Sons of Confederate Veterans because it would show the group's logo, which includes the Confederate Battle Flag.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments about this.
The LA Times editorial board gets it right:
Our view is that once a state decides to turn license plates into metallic bumper stickers reflecting various drivers' views about everything from abortion to the environment, it can't pick and choose which viewpoints will be allowed.
If the [Supreme Court] decides that specialty license plates are "public forums" in which the government may not discriminate, there could be a proliferation of ugly messages...
But we also acknowledge that if the court decides that specialty license plates are "public forums" in which the government may not discriminate, there could be a proliferation of ugly messages and symbols on them (including, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested, a swastika). But the same is true when the government opens a public park or a public meeting to a variety of speakers.
...At Monday's argument, the lawyer for Texas warned that if specialty license plates were treated as a public forum, the state would have to permit pro-Nazi or pro-Al Qaeda messages simply because it offered a license plate that said "Fight Terrorism." To which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. replied, "Well, but there is an easy answer to that, which is they don't have to get in the business of selling space on their license plates to begin with."
I also think that if the state allows you to put "MOM111" on your plate, you should also be allowed to put on "BLOWME111" or the racist, sexist, or sexual language of your choice.
Again, the solution to speech people find creepy or too sexual isn't censorship; it's the state no longer selling the ability to put a message on your plate for pay.
Whoops, there go all those dollars.
Disgusting Thumbs Up By Fed Judge To Cops' Home-Invasion Violation Of Third Amendment
The Third is one we don't hear a lot about -- it's the one that says soldiers can't take over your home -- "quarter" in it -- without your consent. But who are "soldiers" today? Ilya Somin at Volokh/Wapo makes the point:
When the Amendment was enacted in 1791, there were virtually no professional police of the sort we have today. The distinction between military and law enforcement officials was far less clear than in the world of 2015. Moreover, many parts of the Bill of Rights were in part of inspired by abuses committed by British troops attempting to enforce various unpopular laws enacted by Parliament.
A second complicating factor is the increasing militarization of police forces in many parts of the country, which has resulted in cops using weapons and tactics normally associated with military forces. If a state or local government decides to quarter a SWAT team in a private home, it is not clear whether that is meaningfully different from placing a National Guard unit there.
This is why federal district court Judge Andrew Gordon was wrong in dismissing the claim against Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada police officers by Anthony, Linda, and Michael Mitchell. These cops forcibly took over the Mitchells' home for nine hours so they could gain a "tactical advantage" against suspected criminals living near them.
What was done to the Mitchells is truly disgusting -- via another blog post by Somin:
Henderson [Nevada] police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court.
The officers sound truly abusive. See their court papers here.
Somin adds in the more recent post:
The issue of how long the soldiers (or militarized police) have to stay in a private home before their occupation of it qualifies as "quartering" is also a tough question. Without actually resolving the issue, Judge Gordon suspects that a 9 to 24 hour period is too short. I am not convinced. It seems to me that spending one night in the house does qualify as quartering, albeit for only a brief period. Just as the First Amendment covers even brief restrictions on freedom of speech and the Fifth Amendment requires compensation for the taking of even small amounts of private property, so the Third Amendment forbids even brief involuntary quartering of troops in private homes.
...Finally, although his ruling dismissed the Mitchells' Third Amendment argument, Judge Gordon did allow many of their other claims to go forward, including causes of action under the First and Fourth Amendments, and violations of federal and state statutory law. The first part of the judge's opinion is a harrowing summary of the plaintiffs' description of what the officers did to them. If the Mitchells' story is true (the police obviously have their own version of events), it is clear that the officers engaged in illegal and deeply troubling abuses of power against innocent civilians - regardless of whether their actions violated the Third Amendment or not.
A comment from commenter "Unusual Suspect" at the WaPo:
Why all this talk about "nine hours"?? This time period was established after the fact. Once they entered, no one had any idea of how much time would pass with them still there. The homeowners had no idea how long this would go on, consequently, they were forced to make other accommodations based on not knowing. The judge's reference to the time period indicates that he has lost sight of the plight of average Americans when it comes to dealing with constitutional rights violations by law enforcement.
What's scary is that, more and more, crimes by cops -- like this home invasion and the theft without proof of guilt that is "asset forfeiture" -- are being perpetrated on citizens, and without deep pockets or the Institute for Justice taking your case, you're very likely screwed.
A question I'm increasingly asking myself and other people: Is this the America we want to be living in?
via Jay J. Hector
Office Of Civil Rights Should Be Retitled The Office Of Kafkaesque Rights
Hans Bader writes at CEI of all the ways the OCR is pushing colleges to remove due process -- mainly from men on campus, since they are largely the ones accused of sexual assault or harassment. One way the OCR does this is through the "massive financial risk colleges face if they do not swiftly expel accused students":
Thanks partly to OCR stacking the deck, it can be much cheaper for a college to expel a possibly innocent student than to find him not guilty. Even before OCR's recent rules changes, colleges had massive incentives to suspend or expel students who might be guilty of sexual assault or harassment.
For example, last year, the University of Connecticut settled a Title IX lawsuit by paying $900,000 to a student who alleged sexual assault. In 2009, the University of Arizona paid $850,000. In 2007, the University of Colorado paid $2.5 million. A jury awarded $1 million against the Pine Plains school district to a racial harassment plaintiff. And if students win their Title IX lawsuit, the school also has to pay their attorney's fees, under a pro-plaintiff rule known as the Christiansburg Garment rule.
Colleges' financial risks are multiplied by the fact that in addition to being sued by students, OCR can cut off all their federal funds and student financial aid. OCR doesn't view itself as being bound by a court's earlier ruling rejecting a student's harassment lawsuit, and it argues that the standard of culpability is less in an administrative investigation.
Moreover, although OCR is not likely to cut off a typical college's federal funds, since a college will do whatever it takes to appease OCR and prevent that from happening, that doesn't mean a college will not experience massive costs. When OCR investigates a college, it has to devote a small army of employees to cooperate with its investigation.
Here's where it goes especially Kafka:
Moreover, even when no court would award damages, OCR will. It has recently given itself the power to award monetary damages against colleges, even in situations where the Supreme Court's Davis decision says damages would be inappropriate under the Constitution's spending clause. To resolve a recent OCR investigation, Tufts had to pay a complainant "monetary compensation," even though OCR never specifically found that she was sexually assaulted, because OCR ruled that Tufts had wrongly allowed the accused to submit the complainant's private medical records to show that the complainant had lied and that the accused thus was innocent.
In its April 29, 2014 harassment guidance, OCR generally imposes liability on institutions even if they do correctly discipline those they discover have engaged in sexual harassment, if they do not also "remedy its effects," and "prevent its recurrence." Even punishing the harasser "likely will not be sufficient," OCR said. What does OCR mean by "remedy"? In its 2013 retaliation guidance, it suggests money, saying that "OCR will determine which remedies, including monetary relief, are appropriate based on the facts presented in each specific case."
So in addition to being sued by complainants, colleges may also be forced to pay money by OCR.
And that's just the beginning.
One More Reason To Love Candace Bergen: Her Attitude On Being Fat
(Which I, by the way, do not share in the least.)
I have a friend who's a fabulous guy -- a brilliant and hilariously un-PC anthropologist who knows history like it happened in his head. He's an enormous guy -- and I mean that both in the physical and general sense.
A few ev psych conferences ago, he made it no secret that he'd had his stomach stapled -- which I am pretty sure he did more for health than vanity -- so a number of us were a little worried when he was still putting down rather huge plates of food.
I don't think anyone expressed this verbally, but he knew. He looked over his food to us at table with him, acknowledged the procedure he'd had done, and said, "But I'm a glutton. I love to eat!"
I just loved the way he put that. No apologies, no weaseling, no attempts to justify.
I was reminded of that by the way Candace Bergan talked about her current shape. I have to say, I found Bergen one of the coolest, nicest, genuinely interesting and interested people I've encountered in Hollywood or anywhere, talked about her current shape. Columnist Susannah Breslin and appeared together on a show she did to talk about us about sex, and then I appeared on Bergen's later show. She sent Breslin and I signed Mary Ellen Mark photo books to thank us. Classy lady.
Anyway, via ET here's Bergen on her 30-pound weight gain:
"Let me just come right out and say it: I am fat," she writes, as the Today show reported on Monday, previewing their interview with her on April 7. "I live to eat. None of this 'eat to live' stuff for me."
"I am a champion eater," she jokes. "No carb is safe -- no fat, either."
...Bergen says she is now totally comfortable in her own skin.
"At a recent dinner party I shared bread and olive oil, followed by chocolate ice cream with my husband," she recalls. "A woman near me looked at me, appalled, and I thought, 'I don't care.'"
Though I sure don't think the way she does on this -- and eating low-carb/high-fat, I don't put on weight like carb-eaters do -- I love and respect the way she is just "Here I am. I'm cool with it."
This is the essence of what is described in Joan Didion's 1961 Vogue essay, "On Self-Respect." An excerpt:
Although the careless, suicidal Julian English in Appointment in Samarra and the careless, incurably dishonest Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby seem equally improbable candidates for self-respect, Jordan Baker had it, Julian English did not. With that genius for accommodation more often seen in women than in men, Jordan took her own measure, made her own peace, avoided threats to that peace: "I hate careless people," she told Nick Carraway. "It takes two to make an accident."
Like Jordan Baker, people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things. If they choose to commit adultery, they do not then go running, in an access of bad conscience, to receive absolution from the wronged parties; nor do they complain unduly of the unfairness, the undeserved embarrassment, of being named corespondent. If they choose to forego their work--say it is screenwriting--in favor of sitting around the Algonquin bar, they do not then wonder bitterly why the Hacketts, and not they, did Anne Frank.
In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues. The measure of its slipping prestige is that one tends to think of it only in connection with homely children and with United States senators who have been defeated, preferably in the primary, for re-election. Nonetheless, character--the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life--is the source from which self-respect springs.
A side note: The ET piece was reported by ET's Antoinette Bueno, who is apparently so clueless about film that she twice referred to Bergen's late husband, French film director Louis Malle, as "Louis Dalle."
Buy her book here: A Fine Romance.
Actual Title Of Session At Academic Conference
Abortion, Guns, and Other Topics only Academics Could Make Boring.
Not Even Any Evidence Of A Party
Charlottesville cops say there was no evidence to support the UVA rape story in Rolling Stone, reports Sasha Goldstein in the NY Daily News:
The months-long investigation into the story told by "Jackie" about what she said was a September 2012 gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house could not be proven in any way, said police Chief Timothy Longo.
The case has been "suspended," not closed, because something could have happened, Longo said.
"We certainly can't say something didn't happen ... but there's not evidence to support it," Longo told reporters at a Monday afternoon press conference.
...The night of the Sept. 28, 2012, reported gang rape, Jackie told friends she was to go to dinner and a frat event with a man named Haven Monahan. The phone number she used to text the man was actually a Google number and police have found no subscriber information for the line.
There is no evidence Monahan exists, Longo said.
Jackie also claimed there was a party at Phi Kappa Psi the night of the rape, but police found no evidence of a party. Instead, investigators discovered that the frat's sister sorority was having a formal that night, meaning it was likely there was no event at the frat so as not to "cannibalize" the sorority's guest list, Longo said.
"All I can tell you is that there is no substantive basis to conclude that what was reported in that article happened," he said.
NYT story here.
When Ubering Becomes Moochering: The One-Way Uber Rider
More and more people are using Uber, and more and more people are trying to use it just one way...as in, they take Uber to a party or event and then go around trying to bum rides off people who drove.
Believe me, I understand the impulse to save $15 bucks or so -- or more -- and this is why I drive my very own motor vehicle, as opposed to taking Uber.
It's rude to impose on people like this. Other drivers may not want to go home when you do, andthey may feel they have to leave before they want to or stay longer just to accommodate you (not that they should or owe you that).
Also, if you smoke and then get in somebody's car and they're a nonsmoker, they're going to have to smell your yicky breath all the way to wherever. No, not the biggest deal in the world, but not everybody finds stale cigarette-infused air in a closed vehicle appealing.
So what is polite Ubering? If you took Uber to the party, the event, the meeting, expect to take it home!
And if you're a driver of your own car who's being mooched off, yes, you can say no. As a social lubricant, it may help you to offer an excuse: You have to make a stop on the way, etc. (Beats telling the likely truth: "I find you a cheap and presumptuous turd.")
No, I don't necessarily mind taking somebody home if it's on my way or not that far out of my way -- just not when they refuse to pull their transportational weight because they see moochertunities in those who feel uncomfortable turning them down.
For more on how to keep rude people from having their way with you, please consider ordering my new book, the science-based and funny "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (around $11 at Amazon). (Also at Barnes & Noble.)
How Academia Has Gone All "Off With Her Head!"
At WhiteHotHarlots, a professor writes about how what I call "witch-hunt culture" has harmed teaching, and in turn, is causing students to get less of an education:
Saying anything that goes against liberal orthodoxy is now grounds for a firin'. Even if you make a reasonable and respectful case, if you so much as cause your liberal students a second of complication or doubt you face the risk of demonstrations, public call-outs, and severe professional consequences. My friends and colleagues might well agree that the student-teacher relationship ban is misguided, but they're not allowed to say as much in public.
C-can you guys see the problem, here?
Personally, liberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip--not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery--and that's it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there's a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Is paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn't uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
Eek, Don't Compliment A Woman On Her Looks
Yawnies, a piece up at The Good Men Project, "7 Reasons You Should Compliment a Woman On Something Other Than Her Looks," that I was led to by a tweet.
Dr. Tee Williams and Joanna Schroeder write:
1. Complimenting a woman you've just met on something she's done or achieved shows her that you're about more than just physical appearance.
No it doesn't -- it just tells her you're clever enough to cut articles out of men's magazines or use the Internet.
Not only does this set you apart from all of the other "you've got a great smile" guys, but it actually shows a little bit about who you are as a person, too.
Yes, a person who reads...(see above).
I really didn't mean to blog this. The piece is just painfully multi-culti oversensitive pussy PC. Taking it apart is not just like shooting fish in a barrel; it's like dropping in plastic explosives.
The thing is, the title of the piece is wrong, at least in my case -- and probably that of other women who don't use the term "trigger warning" in great earnestness.
I blogged the thing because it made me think about how I LOVE getting compliments on my looks. Always have.
I assume people don't think I'm a dipshit. Because I'm (mostly) not.
But I just turned 51, and I was out of half 'n' half the other night, and I dragged my ass into 7-Eleven at 11 p.m., and...well, let's just say I'm going back there pronto if I'm feeling low about my looks.
I was the queen of the place. I was wearing my usual -- a floor-length eveningwear skirt I got off eBay for sixteen bucks, plus a hot pink jacket. And about 65 miles of tired from my deadline day.
The men there were mostly unwhite, down to the cashier, and boy were they ever (politely) verbally appreciative of my look.
So about complimenting a woman on her looks...especially if she's not 21 or 28...bring it on!
If You Are Traumatized, The Answer Is To Work On Fixing Yourself, Not To Turn College Into A Trauma Center
There's been an increasing push to toward unfree speech and keeping "scary" ideas off campus -- the antithesis of what this country was founded on and what college is supposed to be about.
Judith Shulevitz writes in The New York Times about students in college hiding from these "scary ideas," describing one of them set up at Brown University, in case rape victims found a debate between Wendy McElroy and Jessica Valenti too upsetting:
The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and "sexual assault peer educator" who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall -- it was packed -- but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. "I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs," Ms. Hall said.
Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being "bombarded" by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material.
Some people trace safe spaces back to the feminist consciousness-raising groups of the 1960s and 1970s, others to the gay and lesbian movement of the early 1990s. In most cases, safe spaces are innocuous gatherings of like-minded people who agree to refrain from ridicule, criticism or what they term microaggressions -- subtle displays of racial or sexual bias -- so that everyone can relax enough to explore the nuances of, say, a fluid gender identity. As long as all parties consent to such restrictions, these little islands of self-restraint seem like a perfectly fine idea.
I disagree on that. It turns us into a society of coddled babies. Or maybe keeps up the good work of helicopter parents. Shulevitz continues:
But the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer.
And this is the feeling and push on campus -- for an environment free of debate or discomfort...and pruned of too many people lacking in approved colors:
A year and a half ago, a Hampshire College student group disinvited an Afrofunk band that had been attacked on social media for having too many white musicians; the vitriolic discussion had made students feel "unsafe."
Shulevitz winds up with a Muslim student complaining during Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui's talk at the University of Chicago about the newspaper's disrespect for Muslims. The student expressed her dislike for the phrase "I am Charlie."
Ms. El Rhazoui replied, somewhat irritably, "Being Charlie Hebdo means to die because of a drawing," and not everyone has the guts to do that (although she didn't use the word guts). She lives under constant threat, Ms. El Rhazoui said. The student answered that she felt threatened, too.
A few days later, a guest editorialist in the student newspaper took Ms. El Rhazoui to task. She had failed to ensure "that others felt safe enough to express dissenting opinions." Ms. El Rhazoui's "relative position of power," the writer continued, had granted her a "free pass to make condescending attacks on a member of the university." In a letter to the editor, the president and the vice president of the University of Chicago French Club, which had sponsored the talk, shot back, saying, "El Rhazoui is an immigrant, a woman, Arab, a human-rights activist who has known exile, and a journalist living in very real fear of death. She was invited to speak precisely because her right to do so is, quite literally, under threat."
You'd be hard-pressed to avoid the conclusion that the student and her defender had burrowed so deep inside their cocoons, were so overcome by their own fragility, that they couldn't see that it was Ms. El Rhazoui who was in need of a safer space.
There are institutions to help people who are so traumatized that they cannot hear a word, term, or idea, and they are not institutions of higher learning.
If you are too traumatized to function without deeming some thinking off limits, the answer is to work on fixing yourself, not to try to turn your college into a trauma center.
Oberlin's College Ghetto Dorms
MIT prof, airplane pilot, entrepreneur, and software designer Phillip Greenspun went to visit Oberlin with a friend and the friend's son and was surprised to find an intentional on-campus ghetto:
I was also struck when the student guide told us about a dormitory with an African heritage theme and specializing in serving "soul food" (link). She also mentioned a "Third World House" where "people of color" and "of low socioeconomic status" could live (link). It seemed odd that a college administration could set up places like this. Suppose that the school put out a Web page saying that "70 percent of our students are white and from wealthy families. Despite their stacks of cashmere sweaters, they wouldn't feel comfortable living with anyone who was poor or black. So we'd appreciate it if students with darker skin or without a closet full of designer outfits would please move into Third World House or Soul Food Dorm." If it wouldn't be okay to do that, why is it okay to have the houses at all?
Science Nerdjoy: Video Of The Day
USC apparently has yet to hear of social media, because this video on researcher Emily Liman's page is not sharable.
I find her work on the mechanisms of taste fascinating, and she explains her work in a way it can be understood by the rest of us.
Scroll down at her page at USC for the two-minute video.
Linkie that lasts forever, give or take 10 years.
"Bring embroidery to life!" says the Amazon promo. A new sewing machine release, the Brother PE525 Embroidery Machine, is 45 percent off at Amazon -- normally $599; on sale for $329.99. On special sale ending June 1.
20 percent off outdoor and hiking shoes for men, women, and sprogs.