Chris Rock Lends Charles Barkley a Hand

Charles Barkley recently raised the ire of many on the left, and the applause of many on the right when he called those looting in the aftermath of the Grand Jury in the Ferguson case “scumbags” on a sports radio show.  You can read excerpts (and listen to the full audio) here, and read Barkley’s TNT colleague, Kenny Smith‘s response here, and watch the two debate the topic here.

I don’t know exactly what Sir Charles’s view is. but he would do well to recall what Chris Rock had to say in his 1996 show “Bring the Pain“:[1]

There’s, like, a civil war going on with black people, and there’s two sides…  There’s black people. There’s niggas. And niggas have got to go. Every time black people want to have a good time, ign’ant-ass niggas fuck it up… Niggas always want some credit for some shit they’re supposed to do…  A nigga will say some shit like “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What are you talking about? What are you bragging about? Kinda ignorant shit is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What you want, a cookie? You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!

Note the setup: “There’s, like, a civil war going on with black people, and there’s two sides…”

The chief difficulty with discussing race relations in America if, of course, white folks.  If you want to make a white person in America uncomfortable, bring up race in the company of a person of color.  That white girl will suddenly find her shoes very interesting.  A white dude will get that look in his eyes that says “Don’t ask me.  I didn’t say anything.”  And then there are those white folks who will start proclaiming that they aren’t racist (though nobody said they were), and that they know non-white people, and other awkward things.

Helpfully, Chris Rock recently weighed in on this issue, in an interview over at Vulture.  Frank Rich did the interview, which produced the following exchange.

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, it would.  And Barkley, the author of a 2005 book that collected his discussions with both black and white celebrities about race in America,[2]  does not need myself or Rock to point that out.

But Rock’s 1996 routine is only part of the story.  In the interview published earlier this week he effortlessly connected two national discussions—men abusing women, and race relations—in an analogy that deserves to be quoted in full.  But I am going to break it up [NB: Ike Turner infamously beat his wife, Tina]:

Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

Check yer boy, Chris, Chuck.  He can hook you up.

@WilHMoo

[1] This transcript is due to Kelefah Saneh’s recent interview with Rock in The New Yorker.

[2] You can listen to Barkley discuss the book, Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man: Speaking My Mind On Race, Celebrity, Sports And American Life, here.

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Why Do They Hate Us, 2.0?

Yesterday I received an email request from a journalist, who wrote:

Professor Moore:

A colleague of yours suggested that I reach out to you. I am working on a story about a new push by the Department of Justice to expand its work from focusing on law enforcement to moving into the greater community as a means of addressing the problem of Americans who turn to terrorism.

The idea is that DOJ will work various community partners to get at the root of Americans motivated to go overseas to train with the intent of engaging in acts of terrorism upon returning to the United States.

The gist is:

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Justice Department will launch a new series of pilot programs in cities across the country to bring together community representatives, public safety officials and religious leaders to counter violent extremism. The new programs will be run in partnership with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

“Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism,” Attorney General said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately.”

The full release about the program is here: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/September/14-ag-980.html

I was hoping you might have a few minutes to talk today about what make might someone who grew up in this country contemplate doing harm to it as a terrorist [my emphasis].

Thank you in advance for your time. I am filing my story today and would be grateful for just 10 minutes.

I sighed.  I furrowed my brow.  I chose not to respond to the loaded question (the bit in bold).  “When did you stop beating your wife?,” indeed.

I recalled a meeting, several years ago, when I was paid a consultant fee to serve as a subject matter expert (SME) to a research outfit that had taken over a US Dept of Homeland Security project that a defense contractor had bungled.  They wanted advice on how to resuscitate the research project.  The topic of the project was “How can we identify non-violent dissidents who will later become violent?”  I spent the day trying to explain, along with some colleagues from other universities who were also consulting as SMEs, why the program was ill conceived, but how it could be fruitfully reconceived.  They did not listen to us, and partnered with other SMEs who told them what they wanted to hear.

I have no reason to believe that particular research project informs DoJ’s new pilot program, but it might.  Like so much of counter–terror policy, this makes for good politics and poor policy (e.g., see here, here, and here for research papers).  To blow off a bit of steam, I forwarded the email to a friend, and wrote the following:

Hi, this DoJ initiative is just depressing. I can’t think of a sound bite to offer, much less one that would help counter the spin of Holder.  Sigh…

My friend replied:

The doj initiative might as well be called “why to they hate us, 2.0″

@WilHMoo

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Referees, Robustness & Valid Inference in Poli-Sci

Over at Relations International Brandon Valeriano reveals his coming dotage grouses about the growing tendency of articles to contain dozens of “robustness check” specifications, casting blame at referees and editors.  I tweeted a link to the post, and several folks responded, producing some interesting exchanges that I think should be shared.

Tweet1

Tweet2

Tweet3

Several hours later Ethan Bueno de Mesquita saw the post as useful grist for commentary:

EBdM1

EBdM2 EBdM3 EBdM4

Zach Jones, Brendan Nyhan, and Carlisle Rainey each engaged Ethan, producing the following exchange:

Num1 Num2 Num3 Num4 Num5 Num6 Num7

@WilHMoo 

 

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Referees, Robustness & Valid Inference in Poli-Sci

Over at Relations International Brandon Valeriano reveals his coming dotage grouses about the growing tendency of articles to contain dozens of “robustness check” specifications, casting blame at referees and editors.  I tweeted a link to the post, and several folks responded, producing some interesting exchanges that I think should be shared.

Tweet1

Tweet2

Tweet3

Several hours later Ethan Bueno de Mesquita saw the post as useful grist for commentary:

EBdM1

EBdM2 EBdM3 EBdM4

Zach Jones, Brendan Nyhan, and Carlisle Rainey each engaged Ethan, producing the following exchange:

Num1 Num2 Num3 Num4 Num5 Num6 Num7

@WilHMoo 

 

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Could I Shoplift my way to Suicide by Cop?

I am a 52 year old, white, male professor. And I am guessing that if I did what Kajieme Powell, a 25 year old black male wearing a hoodie, did on Tuesday, I would have difficulty getting St Louis (or any other) police to shoot to kill the way they shot and killed Powell.

Let me be clear about a few things. First, I do not know that Powell was trying to commit suicide by cop.  My own viewing of the cell phone video of the shooting suggests that he may have been doing so.  But none of us are in a position to make that determination.  Second, I cannot tell from the video available whether Powell was “brandishing a knife” as police have claimed, but I can say that it sure does not look that way to me. 

PowellShot

WARNING: video depicts man shot to death

The video above[1] has audio and shows the police arrive at roughly 1:16, and the police fire at roughly 1:40.  Powell is clearly shouting “Shoot me! Shoot me now!” and walking toward the police, who have drawn their guns, pointed them at him and shouted at him to get on the ground.  And he clearly disobeys, and walks toward them, again, with his hands down.  The police then fire five or six shots (one cop, both? I cannot tell) and Powell crumples to the ground and dies.

The video below is from two security cameras (has no audio) and contains footage shot prior to what was recorded above.  Powell walks into a convenience store, selects a beverage from the cooler, and appears to walk out of the store without paying.  He then walks back into the store a few minutes later, grabs some sort of a snack, and clearly walks out without paying.  Shortly thereafter a man walks out of the store and begins gesturing in Powell’s direction (who is off camera).  The cell phone video appears to begin not long afterward, though that is difficult to establish.

Powell, selecting a snack

Powell, selecting a snack

We will presumably learn what the officers who arrived on the scene were told when they received the call that led them to drive up and confront Powell.  They may well have been told that he was armed.  But I don’t care.  

I am tempted, as an experiment, to go purchase a kevlar vest, do some shoplifting at a local convenience store, and then shout at the cops who arrive.  I am not rash enough, however, to purchase a second vest and recruit a 25 year old African American male to do so at a similar store, nearby.  After all, I’d never get the approval of the Human Subjects Research committee.   

 

 

 

@WilHMoo

[1] The video was released by the St Louis Police Department and this version of it is hosted by St Louis tv station KWMU on their YouTube page.

 

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Add Yorkshire Accents to the List

I have long known that I can struggle with Irish, Scottish and Welsh accents.  Add Yorkshire to the list.

Yesterday my daughter assigned me the task of making sure that her groom and groomsmen arrived to the wedding on time.  So I was hanging about as they finished getting ready, and had a good 15 minutes to listen to the lads chatter with one another.  I’d say I got about 3/5ths of the words.  I was mostly able to follow the gist, but not always.

LukeRing

And, of course, being a fly on the wall among a bunch of groomsmen, who have been mates since they were wee lads, as they cut up and needle one another is a helluva lot of fun.  At one point I turned to my brother, who I had deputized for the task and kicks a proper Chicago accent, and asked whether he could follow what was being said.  He smiled broadly, shook his head from side to side, and said “Not really.”

That evening, when the best man (pictured above, accepting the ring) from Luke’s nephew and sister, have his speech, the yanks in attendance were pretty well lost.  That said, I absolutely adore the way that Luke says my daughter’s name: Kevy (which I will not try to spell phonetically–you’ll have to use your imagination!).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Yorkshire accent, check out Eve Miller being interviewed by her dad:

MillenEve

 

Below is a quick tour of the accents of the British Isles by dialect coach Andrew Jack, or you can check out samples of 71 different accents from the BBC.

Accents

@WilHMoo

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Untenured? Set up a Google Scholar Profile

Do you have a Google Scholar Profile?  If you are a tenure-track academic, you should.  Google offers help setting one up, or you can find other advice herehere and here.

Why do you want one?  Here is Eva Lansoght at PhD Talk:

 if you haven’t set up your profile – go there and do so immediately. Having an author profile is as important as having your articles showing up in a search on Google Scholar.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “I don’t have many citations to my work, and I don’t want to show the whole world that.”

Hmmmm.  How can I put this gently?  The problem with such thinking is your internal dialogue, not the Google Scholar Profile.  If you have a CV online, then you want a Google Scholar Profile.  It collects all of your publications in one place, and it has hyperlinks!  If your plan to getting tenure is built upon the idea of minimizing access to your work, then may I recommend that you develop a new plan?  If you wish to maximize access to your work, then please setup a Google Scholar Profile.

Finally, there is this to consider.  When you go up for tenure your university is going to contact a bunch of people and ask them to take a couple of days work from their schedule and devote it to assessing the quality and quantity of your work, and its contribution to the field.  Many of us who get stuck with that thankless task (and note, you plan, after earning tenure, to become one of those people) want to use your Google Scholar Profile to assist us.  It provides ready access to your publications–with hyperlinks!–in one location.  And it also provides us with info about who has cited your work.  Put plainly, many of us expect you to have one, and as my advisor, Ted Gurr, reminds us in Why Men Rebel, when one’s capabilities fall short of one’s expectations, one tends to become frustrated, and aggression is an innately satisfying response to frustration.  So I ask you: do you want your tenure letter writers to be frustrated?  I didn’t think so.

Do it!

@WilHMoo

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