The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

compassion, kindness

verdictI’m trying to contextualize the disappointing but unsurprising Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

One part is Mark Evanier’s tweet. “And one day soon, someone of a different political view and/or race will do what Kyle Rittenhouse did and all the folks cheering today’s verdict will be screaming, ‘Rule of law!'”

There is a 2021 article in Slate that I found intriguing. “Black gun rights advocate Kenn Blanchard says Black Americans shouldn’t be scared of the Second Amendment.”

And of course, many African-Americans are afraid. Race DOES permeate the politics of gun control. Think of the death of Philando Castile, who announced to an officer at a traffic stop that he had a gun in his car. He ended up dead, and that continues to gut me.

I’m left to speculate what would have been the reaction by law enforcement to a young black male running through the streets of Kenosha, WI with an AR-15. Perhaps he would have ended up dead like Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. He was a good black man with a gun trying to end an Alabama mall shooting.

But Kyle Rittenhouse, running through the chaotic streets with an automatic weapon, goes past law enforcement without incident. As a Boston Globe columnist noted: “You can be a vigilante when your mission is to serve the system.”

STFU

Much has been made of the judge’s rulings during the trial. For the most part, I concur. Yet there is one aspect that I have to agree with him. The fact that Rittenhouse had not made public comment before the trial should not have mattered. Moreover, when the prosecution suggested that this was an issue, and the judge reprimanded the state on Fifth Amendment grounds, it hurt the case. It was prosecutorial ineptness.

In this blog back in 2014, I wrote: “If I am ever in a situation that would involve the criminal justice system – whether as the victim and/or witness or defendant – I will not comment on what I might testify about until the trial is over. I won’t talk about it, and I certainly won’t blog about it.”

Very few things irritate me more while watching the news than having  Lester Holt, or whomever, saying, “X is breaking their silence.” It’s as though talking about testimony to the press before the trial is what one is SUPPOSED to do. I do not buy it.

As a practical matter, shutting up is probably better. Alec Baldwin spoke after the shooting death of the cinematographer for the movie Rust. When he talked about how well-run the set operated, he may have made himself vulnerable to civil liability.

polar bear

With God on his side

It fascinates me that the two folks on my Facebook feed who clearly supported the outcome put it in a Christian context. My old neighbor Greg says the verdict was “Absolutely beautiful totally innocent! 100% self-defense.” He bashed the “bleeding hearts”, and ends with “so good for Kyle excellent praise God.”

As someone who has been reading a lot of the Old Testament recently, there’s a lot of stories of the people of Israel preparing to invade other folks. Start with Joshua 1, for instance.

But this is not the Christian theology I believe in. I’m more of a Colossians 3:12 kind of guy. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” That would mean, in my mind, not becoming a Stand Your Ground provocateur.

October rambling: doing an impression

old blogger, newish home

blue-whale
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/09/21/blue-whale/

The ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species extinct.

Pandora Papers:  The largest investigation in journalism history exposes a shadow financial system that benefits the world’s most rich and powerful.

How decades of security blunders led to the formation of the TSA and forever changed the way we fly.

Texas’ Sweeping Abortion Ban Gives New Meaning to Oft-Misused Handmaid’s Tale Comparisons.

The Big Lie Refuses to Die.

Your gas stove, your health, and climate change.

The American West is running out of water—and Big Oil, of all things, can help fix it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:  PFAS and  Voting Rights.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuf1m1VGu8Y Call Your Senator to Support the Equality Act

I saw the stories about the Facebook outage but kept reading it as the  Facebook outrage.  How Facebook’s Response To Whistleblower Could Make Their Crisis Worse. Incidentally, when Facebook was down, I went to Is It Down Right Now but it TOO was down. I ended up using Down For Everyone or Just Me and Is Your Website Down Down Right Now?

Why Is the U.S. Housing Market So Out of Whack?

Garbage odyssey: San Francisco’s bizarre, costly quest for the perfect trash can.

Inventions That Changed the World

Ted Koppel pays a visit to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC)

You’ve just been ‘ghosted’ after a job interview. Here’s how you should respond.

New York Public Library is ending fines on overdue materials forever. Albany Public Library did that a couple of years back.

Butt-dialing 911 is a challenge for police dispatchers

Why Seinfeld is the Worst Sitcom of All Time

The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry (born 1934)

The medical ward

Pandemics are beaten by communities, not individuals. This describes my risk/reward calculations pretty well. 

How Jared And Ivanka Botched Trump’s Pandemic Response.

Combating Anti-Vaxxers and Vaccine Hesitation.

Why Mandates Make Us Feel Threatened.

Albany Med prize winners: Coronavirus vaccine was years in the making.

Cognitive Bias Is Influencing Forensic Pathology Decisions

I had gone to the dentist this month to get a tooth uncapped because a cavity developed. It is one of those things that might have been prevented but for COVID. Anyway, they said, “We’re going to do an impression.” I knew what they meant, but my mind wandered to Rich Little doing John Wayne or Richard Nixon.

More Empathy Means Better Care, Less Medical Liability.

A Gene-Editing Experiment Let These Patients With Vision Loss See Color  Again.

People with vitiligo debate whether to treat or embrace their condition

Race in America

Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates

Origin and Meaning of Critical Race Theory.

How Do We Dismantle Structural Racism in Medicine?

Manhattan Street Names Tied to Slavery Listed from A to Z.

Meet The First 2 Black Women To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Bruice’s Beach in California can return to descendants of a Black family in a landmark move.

Byzantium Shores, no. ForgottenStars, si!

I’ve been following Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores for well over a decade. He’s another upstater from the other end of the Erie Canal.  His birthday is 45 years to the day after my late father’s.

He started blogging in 2002, over three years before I did. Eventually, he’s let the pseudonym go. Now Kelly Sedinger is blogging at ForgottenStars.net, where he promotes his books, two of which I have. He knows a ton about classical music, many of which I have linked to.  I don’t quite get the pie in the face thing, but that’s OK.

Now I Know

dog portrat The Problem with Space Pirates

Why the Ace of Spades is So Darn Big

 The Worst Way to Get People to Watch a Movie?

Why Teams Wear Gray When Not At Home

How South Korea Massages Its Workforce

The Road Where Seat Belts are Banned

The Oldest PhD.

MUSIC

You’re Not Alone album by Roy Buchanan.

Feeling Good – Nina Simone.

Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss.

Coverville 1374: Cover Stories for John Mellencamp, Bob Geldof, and Chrissie Hynde.

The First Moonwalk? Bill Bailey tapping to an instrumental version of the Larks’ hit “The World is Waiting for Sunrise” performed by the Paul Williams Quartet

Autumn Leaves  – Ebene Quartet.

Stuck in the Middle with You -MonaLisa Twins

Capriccio Italien by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Robert Russell Bennett’s Selections from Camelot. (Lerner and Loewe)

I Am Waiting – Ollabelle, a cover of The Rolling Stones song

The Final Act. 60 Minutes story on Tony Bennett.

Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2021 will be on the road, maybe in a town near you, between Nov 26 and Dec 23 with Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, and… Rebecca Jade!

Race, reapportionment: 2020 Census

Cube Root Rule

census2020-storyimageAs you may know, I was an enumerator for both the 1990 and the 2020 Census. That means I went door-to-door, getting the responses from people who had not mailed in the form (both years). In 2020, they could also have called in the information or responded online, so they had even more opportunities to do it themselves.

Enumerating in 2020 was more difficult than in 1990. For one thing, because of the pandemic, the process started later in the year. I was working in May 1990, but not until August 2020.

So what was the biggest takeaway for me? The Census allowed the ability to choose more than one race for the first time in 2000, thanks to a 1997 OMB memorandum. “204.3 million people [identified] as White alone. Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. However, the White alone population has decreased by 8.6% since 2010.

“The Two or More Races population (also referred to as the Multiracial population) has changed considerably since 2010. The Multiracial population was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase. The ‘in combination’” multiracial populations for all race groups accounted for most of the overall changes in each racial category.”

Redefining self

Back in 2000, I was at a New York State Data Center meeting, because that’s what I did. I expected that the multiracial category wouldn’t be too great numerically in the first iteration. It was because how one saw race was so tied to the era in which people grew up.

So someone such as Barack Obama, in 1970, 1980, and 1990 Censuses, would almost certainly be categorized as black/African American per Census rules of the time. But he COULD have been listed as black AND white in the last three Censuses. Since these are self-identified categories, and the results are confidential until at least 2072, we won’t know unless he chooses to disclose them.

Personally, I clicked on the box marked Black in 2020, although nearly 40% of my DNA is from Europe, almost all of it from the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, something I did not know in 1990 and 2000.

Pew survey notes: “In 1967, when miscegenation laws were overturned in the United States, 3% of all newlyweds were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. Since then, intermarriage rates have steadily climbed. By 1980, the share of intermarried newlyweds had about doubled to 7%. And by 2015 the number had risen to 17%.”

Reapportionment

Another implication will take place when the reapportionment of Congressional and state legislative districts takes place in the next year. When drawing lines, how will the majority-minority areas be designated? The Supreme Court allowed in the Johnson case (515 U.S. 900 (1995)) “affirmative gerrymandering/racial gerrymandering”, where “racial minority-majority electoral districts are created during redistricting to increase minority Congressional representation.”

New York State lost a Congressional seat as a result of the newest Census. The local Spectrum News recently inaccurately said that it was a result of the state losing people; untrue. It gained population, but not as quickly as other states.

In fact, the loss occurred because the House has been capped at 435 members since 1929. Suggestions such as the Cube Root Rule would raise the number of House members and New York would NOT lose a seat but would rather gain a few.

We’re in a period when people can give feedback about the reapportionment process. For instance, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission was formed in 2014 for this very purpose.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that some folks in Saratoga County, north of Albany, do not want to be represented by Elise Stefanik, a Republican House leader who has been a staunch supporter of the 45th president. This will be an interesting time for the state legislatures around the country.

Sha’Carri Richardson, athletics and marijuana

Tokyo Olympics

sha'carri richardsonThe 30-day suspension of American Sha’Carri Richardson for a positive marijuana test means she is barred from competing in the women’s 100-meter dash at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. But as I’ve read reactions across the board, I’ve concluded that her suspension is stupid.

From the Denver Post: She should have nothing to apologize for. “There is only one reason why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should exist: To ensure athletes’ success on the international stage is determined more by pure athletic ability than who they employ as their pharmacist. Which is why [the suspension] makes absolutely zero sense.

“Back in 2011, a WADA-sponsored paper determined marijuana was a performance-enhancing drug, which might hold more water… if Richardson were a competitive eater or gamer.

A ‘substance of abuse’

“Now a decade later, marijuana’s inclusion on WADA’s list of banned substances is tied to its classification as a ‘substance of abuse.’ Of course, that bit of paternal moralizing has nothing to do with ensuring Richardson doesn’t have an unfair advantage on the track.

“Another unfortunate and devastating development? That Richardson felt compelled to appear on NBC’s TODAY show to apologize for her marijuana use and explain how it was tied to her own personal attempts to cope with her [biological] mother’s death.”

As she told NBC: “To hear that information coming from a complete stranger, it was definitely triggering. It was definitely nerve-shocking. It was just like, who are you to tell me that? No offense against him at all. He was just doing his job. But definitely, that sent me into a state of mind, a state of emotional panic.

“I still have to go out and put out a performance for my dream, go out there and still compete. From there, just blinded by emotions, just blinded by hurting. I knew I couldn’t hide myself. In some type of way, I was just trying to hide my pain.”

Boston wouldn’t ban her

From the Boston Globe: Sha’Carri Richardson isn’t a cheater. She’s human. And she got caught up in a system that might need to change.

“With her newly tinted orange hair trailing behind her like flames, she captured our hearts not only with her performance on the track, but with her moving story off it, seen in the emotional hug she climbed into the stands to share with her grandmother.

“As we know now, it wasn’t any sort of steroid or performance-enhancer that was found in Richardson’s test sample. It was marijuana, a drug that is legal in Oregon, where the trials were held, continues to be legalized in states across the country…

“The mental health of athletes is a similarly heavy topic, one that has gained more and more public attention in recent years, so much so it was listed by both USOPC chairperson Susanne Lyons and chief executive Sarah Hirshland as one of the organization’s top priorities in a recent teleconference with reporters. As Hirshland said, the emphasis on mental health needs isn’t just important for Olympians on their watch, but ‘for society writ large.’

Coincidentally, from the National Memo: “Justice Clarence Thomas Says Federal Laws Against Marijuana No Longer Needed.” Clarence Thomas!

According to the Washington Post, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list published on Jan. 1 lists the chemical compound found in marijuana, THC, next to cocaine, MDMA/ecstasy, and heroin as a substance of abuse and that the rule book says they are considered substances of abuse because they “are frequently abused in society outside of the context of sport.”

The rules

A right-wing rag complained, in that eye-rolling way, that AOC said that Richardson’s suspension was “racist.” I do find this MoveOn piece interesting. “Elite Black women Olympic athletes undergo exceptional levels of scrutiny, from Simone Biles’ recent record-breaking double pike vault which received artificially suppressed scores despite its difficulty to Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, two Namibian runners who won’t be permitted to run in their main events because of their naturally high testosterone levels. And we learned the Olympics decided to ban swim caps designed for the hair of Black swimmers.

Even International Olympic Committee member and a founder of the World Anti-Doping Agency Dick Pound thinks this marijuana ban needs to go, saying, “One of these days, we should probably either take it off the list entirely or say it’s there but the minimum sanction should be something like a warning, so you’re not losing any period of eligibility.” So why is it being enforced now?

Patchwork quilt

In my latter days working as a librarian, the Small Business Administration and by extension SBDCs were, for a relatively brief time, banned from helping any business that was dealing with cannabis. This included people growing hemp for non-consumable purposes. It was, fortunately, rescinded, because it was an inane policy.

The fact that marijuana is treated as though it were heroin at the federal level is crazy. To that end, I support the cannabis banking bill passed by the House in 2021.
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“Banks have generally been unwilling to do business with companies that sell marijuana or related products, fearing they could run afoul of federal laws.

“That has left companies in the marijuana industry with few options, including relying on just a handful of small financial institutions or doing business in cash. The American Bankers Association has lobbied aggressively for the ‘SAFE Banking Act’ bill.”

Lydster: The Biopolitics of Feeling

19th-century “scientists

Biopolitics of FeelingSometimes, your teenager hangs in their room all day. Other times, they wander into your office and engage you in a fascinating conversation.

My child started talking about how sexism, homophobia, and transphobia has been promulgated by a false duality. If they didn’t exist, perhaps those social ailments would not either. What prompted the discussion was an Instagram book report on the book The Biopolitics of Feeling by Kyla Schuller. The subtitle of the book is Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century. It was published by Duke University Press in 2018.

Ah. From the book report: “The sex binary – the idea that there are only two, inherently opposite sexes – is not natural. It is a political invention that emerges from 19th-century race science. It has since been naturalized such that in 2020 people understand the sex binary as an indisputable ‘biological fact.’ This is historically inaccurate.”

I was aware that some 19th-century “scientists” were “invested in identifying presumed anatomical differences between the races to justify discrimination.” But I did not know that they posited that “that only the white race could achieve a pure, binary distinction between sexes. BIPOC people were dismissed as gender non-conforming and sex indistinct… They used this racist interpretation of evolutionary theory to define fixed norms and roles for men and women that still influence us today.”

A serious book

In the description of the book, the publisher notes a remarkable analysis by the author. “Kyla Schuller unearths the forgotten, multiethnic sciences of impressibility—the capacity to be transformed by one’s environment and experiences—to uncover how biopower developed in the United States… Her historical and theoretical work exposes the overlooked role of sex difference in population management and the optimization of life, illuminating how models of binary sex function as one of the key mechanisms of racializing power.” Got that?

“Schuller thereby overturns long-accepted frameworks of the nature of race and sex difference, offers key corrective insights to modern debates surrounding the equation of racism with determinism and the liberatory potential of ideas about the plasticity of the body, and reframes contemporary notions of sentiment, affect, sexuality, evolution, and heredity.” There are some impressive reviews cited for The Biopolitics of Feeling.

Fat shaming and racism

Since my daughter pointed out something I didn’t know, I shared with her an article I had only recently come across. CBSN has a piece called The racial origins of fat stigma.

“Fatness wasn’t always culturally undesirable in the Western world. … As the art and fashion historian Anne Hollander wrote in a New York Times article from 1977, ‘The look of actual human bodies obviously changes very little through history. But the look of ideal bodies changes a great deal all the time.'”

While the… article considers the switch to thinness as the preferable body type to be part of “a period of revolution in both taste and politics” in the late 18th century, Sabrina Strings’ research traces how that ‘revolution’ is actually rooted in slavery and Protestantism.

Those involved in the slave trade “decided to re-articulate racial categories, adding new characteristics… One of the things that the colonists believed was that Black people were inherently more sensuous, that people love sex and they love food, and so the idea was that Black people had more venereal diseases, and that Black people were inherently obese, because they lack self-control. And of course, self-control and rationality, after the Enlightenment, were characteristics that were deemed integral to Whiteness.”