When Police Kill

Alex Tabarrok has an excellent book review of When Police Kill by Franklin Zimring (2017).

Tabarrok ends with this Zimring quote:

[Police killings]…are a serious problem we can fix. Clear administrative restrictions on when police can shoot can eliminate 50 to 80 percent of killings by police without causing substantial risk to the lives of police officers or major changes in how police do their jobs. A thousand killings a year are not the unavoidable result of community conditions or of the nature of policing in the United States.

Rest in Peace Hachalu Hundessa

Hachalu Hundessa, 34, known for political songs that provided support for the ethnic Oromo group’s fight against repression and a soundtrack for antigovernment protests, has been shot dead in Addis Ababa.

The killing has “risked heightening tensions in a nation taking stuttering steps toward establishing a multiparty democracy.” August elections have been “postponed” due to the pandemic.

Hundessa’s songs mobilized millions of Oromos across Ethiopia.

“On Tuesday, news of Mr. Hundessa’s death led to protests in the capital and other parts of Ethiopia, with images and videos on social media showing hundreds congregating at the hospital where his body was taken.

Internet service across the country was shut down at approximately 9 a.m. local time, according to Berhan Taye, an analyst at the nonprofit Access Now. The move, she said, ‘is simply driving confusion and anxiety among Ethiopians and the diaspora’ especially as they seek ‘credible, timely information” at such a time of crisis.'”

Hundessa’s importance:

“Haacaaluu has given sound and voice to the Oromo cause for the past few years. His 2015 track Maalan Jira (‘What existence is mine’), for example, was a kind of an ethnographic take on the Oromo’s uncertain and anomalous place within the Ethiopian state. This powerful expression of the group’s precarious existence quietly, yet profoundly, animated a nationwide movement that erupted months later. Maalan Jira became the soundtrack to the revolution.

It is beautiful.

Our 15 Minutes of Fame

You know how A-list comedians like to play small clubs on occasion to try out new material and refine their craft, well that’s what Sacha Baron Cohen just did in little, out-of-the-way Olympia, WA, Saturday.

Watch Sacha Baron Cohen Troll Alt-Right Rally With Racist Singalong.

Saturday’s group run started and ended 100 yards from the stage. If only I had known what was planned, I would’ve stuck around to watch in person.

Being Twenty Something

A few months ago I wrote about all the challenges with “Being Twenty Right Now“. Fast forward to today, and I could add to the list.

Since writing that, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how miserable they were in their 20’s. So much so, it sounds as if people are writing off the decade. “If you can just hang on until 30,” their moto seems to be, “it gets much better.”

This idea is unfortunate. Life is way too short to write off any decade.

Being twenty something doesn’t have to be miserable. Why wait to make friends, do socially redeeming work, and build healthy habits?

Saturday Assorted Links

1A. That additional time you spend monitoring the pandemic and other crises, it has a name, ‘doomscrolling’. And it’s bad for your mental health. Or ‘doomsurfing’ if you prefer.

“Doomscrolling will never actually stop the doom itself. Feeling informed can be a salve, but being overwhelmed by tragedy serves no purpose. The current year is nothing if not a marathon; trying to sprint to the end of one’s feed will only cause burnout and a decline in mental health among the people whose level-headedness is needed most.”

1B. More Americans are being harassed online because of their race, religion, or sexuality.

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2. Marquette University unveils cost-cutting plan to address budget short-fall. A template for nearly every institution of higher education. Just plug in the name of your favorite college.

3. Want to tear down insidious monuments to racism and segregation? Bulldoze L.A. freeways. Required reading for anyone that questions whether “systemic racism” is a “thing”.

“Poor communities of color continue to suffer most from the legacy of segregation and racially motivated freeway construction through their neighborhoods. The health outcomes in these areas are bleak. Pollution kills. Children directly exposed to freeway pollution have higher rates of asthma and unnatural cognitive decline. Segregation endures. Los Angeles is not unique in this regard. Cities across the country made similar choices. And yet nowhere have the consequences been felt more profoundly.”

4.  An inmate’s love for math leads to new discoveries.

“‘To whom it may concern, I’m interested in finding more information on a subscription to Annals of Mathematics for personal use. I’m currently serving 25 years in the Washington Department of Correction and I’ve decided to use this time for self-betterment. I’m studying calculus and number theory, as numbers have become my mission. Can you please send me any information on your mathematical journal? Christopher Havens, #349034′”

The End of College as We Knew It

Brian Rosenberg, who just finished a long stretch as president of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, observes:

“If one were to invent a crisis uniquely and diabolically designed to undermine the foundations of traditional colleges and universities, it might look very much like the current global pandemic.”

Frank Bruni quotes Rosenberg in his essay “The End of College as We Knew It?” A thoughtful lament on the decline of the humanities.

Rosenberg notes higher education was already on the defensive seeing that it is. . .

“maligned by conservative politicians for its supposed elitism and resented by students and their families for its hefty price tag.”

In my case, Bruni is preaching to the choir when making a case for the humanities. Despite agreeing wholeheartedly with him about the timeless importance of the humanities, his last argument seems specious.

He writes:

“We need doctors, all right, but not all doctors are the same, as Benito Cachinero-Sánchez, the vice chair of the Library of America’s board of directors, reminded me. If he were choosing between two physicians, he said, he would go with one who has read Chekhov, ‘because he’s a fuller human being and he’s going to treat me like a fuller human being.'”

Not everyone who reads classic literature becomes a fuller human being. It’s even more foolhardy to assume someone is going to behave markedly better as a result of having read Chekhov. The ink on the paper is not magic, more important are the institutions’ values and the overall ethos of the place where one engages with classic literature.

But let’s ask every medical student to read Chekhov just in case I’m wrong. Again.

How To Raise An Anti-Racist Kid

By Tara Parker-Pope. Chock-full of good ideas. Among them:

“Supplement your child’s education with books and documentaries, and don’t shy away from conversations about race.”

Every Martin Luther King day The Good Wife read a book about King’s life to our daughters. One on each side of her, sitting on the couch. Even though it was written on a third/fourth grade level, the readings continued into secondary school. That very small investment of time had an oversized impact on them becoming socially conscious young women.