Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Animal photos of the week:

A Miss China contestant plays with whale shark at the world's biggest marine theme park, the Changlong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China

A Miss China contestant plays with whale shark at the world’s biggest marine theme park, the Changlong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, ChinaPicture: Top Photo / Barcroft Media

Police impunity

Terrific Jamelle Bouie post on the police shooting in Ohio:

In Ritchie’s account of the event, Crawford “was just waving [the gun] at children and people. … I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody.” Moreover, said Ritchie, “He didn’t really want to be looked at, and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by.” Indeed, on the emergency call, Ritchie said that Crawford was trying to load the gun, leading dispatchers to tell officers that “he just put some bullets inside.”

The problem is that isn’t true. In surveillance footage, there are no people in the aisle or children walking by—Crawford is alone, on a phone. He has a gun by his side, but as we later learned, it was an unloaded air rifle. What’s more, Ohio is an open-carry state—legally, there’s no reason to approach Crawford if he isn’t using the gun to harm people. Which he wasn’t.

Police say they called out to Crawford before they shot, but the footage throws doubt on the claim. In the video, there’s no indication Crawford heard police commands before they shot him—police rush from the side and shoot, and Crawford falls to the ground. He tries to get away, but police corner and arrest him. He died later, at a nearby hospital.

And is so often the case, what’s horrible is not what’s illegal and happening, but the horrible things that happen that are deemed legal:

In a sense, the real scandal isn’t that police killed Crawford—it’s what police can get away with in the use of lethal force. The answer, by and large, is everything. [emphasis mine] And for communities that face the brunt of official violence, it feels as if—when it comes to police—they are outside the protection of the law.

One thing I haven’t seen addressed and would really like to, is the legal culpability of this Richie fellow who apparently called 911 and told all sorts of threatening and false information about Crawford’s behavior.  It is safe to assume that the police would never have come in guns blazing without that guy.  Let’s get him locked up and put on trial.  Of course, the police still should not be coming in guns blazing to a guy who clearly, visually, presents no active threat.



No, not that kind.  I really enjoyed this Post article on how baseball fandom in the DC area has changed dramatically with the addition of the Washington Nationals a decade ago.  I grew up an Orioles fan and to the extend I am still a baseball fan (not much at all, actually) I am still an Orioles fan. The Nationals mean no more to me than the Florida Marlins.  Of course, I’ve not lived in the DC area since the Nationals came to town, so it’s really not a fair comparison in my case.  That said, I’m quite confident that if I still lived in Springfield, VA, I’d be an Orioles fan.  How do you just give up on/replace the team you grew up pulling for?!

I do wonder how many of the Nationals fans are converted Orioles fans and how many are immigrants to the area and how many were fans of other distant MLB teams.  The interactive version of the map below shows the interesting geographic breakdown:

My boyhood home of 22152 prefers the Nationals over the Orioles 87% to 13%.  I would be in the 13 if I were still there.

Boys, girls, and grades

Really interesting piece in the Atlantic about how girls’ superior conscientiousness (or willpower, or self-discipline, or what have you) substantially accounts for their superior school performance to boys.  I was especially intrigued as all the stereotypical boy descriptions are just like my oldest (ADHD-diagnosed) son.

This begs a sensitive question: Are schools set up to favor the way girls learn and trip up boys?

Let’s start with kindergarten. Claire Cameron from the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia has dedicated her career to studying kindergarten readiness in kids. She’s found that little ones who are destined to do well in a typical 21st century kindergarten class are those who manifest good self-regulation. This is a term that is bandied about a great deal these days by teachers and psychologists. It mostly refers to disciplined behaviors like raising one’s hand in class, waiting one’s turn, paying attention, listening to and following teachers’ instructions, and restraining oneself from blurting out answers. These skills are prerequisites for most academically oriented kindergarten classes in America—as well as basic prerequisites for success in life.

As it turns out, kindergarten-age girls have far better self-regulation than boys…

The researchers combined the results of boys’ and girls’ scores on the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders Task with parents’ and teachers’ ratings of these same kids’ capacity to pay attention, follow directions, finish schoolwork, and stay organized. The outcome was remarkable. They discovered that boys were a whole year behind girls in all areas of self-regulation. By the end of kindergarten, boys were just beginning to acquire the self-regulatory skills with which girls had started the year. [emphasis mine]

Just wow!  And it doesn’t stop there:

This self-discipline edge for girls carries into middle-school and beyond. In a 2006 landmark study, Martin Seligman and Angela Lee Duckworth found that middle-school girls edge out boys in overall self-discipline. This contributes greatly to their better grades across all subjects…

Arguably, boys’ less developed conscientiousness leaves them at a disadvantage in school settings where grades heavily weight good organizational skills alongside demonstrations of acquired knowledge…

These days, the whole school experience seems to play right into most girls’ strengths—and most boys’ weaknesses. Gone are the days when you could blow off a series of homework assignments throughout the semester but pull through with a respectable grade by cramming for and acing that all-important mid-term exam. Getting good grades today is far more about keeping up with and producing quality homework—not to mention handing it in on time.

And here is where I learn just how common David’s issues are.  I could have written this about him:

On countless occasions, I have attended school meetings for boy clients of mine who are in an ADHD red-zone. I have learned to request a grade print-out in advance. Not uncommonly, there is a checkered history of radically different grades: A, A, A, B, B, F, F, A. When F grades and a resultant zero points are given for late or missing assignments, a student’s C grade does not reflect his academic performance. Since boys tend to be less conscientious than girls—more apt to space out and leave a completed assignment at home, more likely to fail to turn the page and complete the questions on the back—a distinct fairness issue comes into play when a boy’s occasional lapse results in a low grade. Sadly though, it appears that the overwhelming trend among teachers is to assign zero points for late work. In one survey by Conni Campbell, associate dean of the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University, 84 percent of teachers did just that.

And what is the solution to get boys up to speed on conscientiousness?  I’ve yet to read it.  From what I can tell it just means working a heck of a lot harder with boys on various strategies to compensate for a lack of conscientiousness.

Back in my day, I was super conscientious (no more, just ask my co-authors and journal editors) and it was a huge benefit.  But I just always was that way.  What we need is more research on how to get there if you are not born that way.

Do the police never make mistakes when they shoot people?

According to police department’s own investigations, the answer is no.  Really enjoyed this Gist interview with D. Brian Burghart about police shootings.  Turns out, police are almost never ever held to account for killing people.  Yet, if police were human like the rest of us (Robocop!) you’d think that at least some of those times should have been mistakes.  Hmmm.

And this case of the police shooting a man in a Wal-Mart in Ohio just standing there talking on the phone while holding a toy gun is so, so sad and disturbing.  And now the video is out and it is so clear that this guy never presented anything that could be perceived as a genuine serious threat to the police and they just shot him down.   Oh, and the grand jury didn’t indict.  What??!!  Seriously.  Watch this and try and figure out how this isn’t pretty much murder.

Of course police have a hard and dangerous job.  The police officers I have known are serious, thoughtful people.  But we just cannot live in a society where police are allowed to gun down civilians with only the slightest perceived provocation.  Ugh.

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