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Radical Policing

I recently came across an article discussing a TED Talk by a Baltimore police officer. The thesis: we (Americans) rely on police too much. I didn’t find that an unreasonable premise. It got me thinking about both policing as well as our criminal justice system. Do we depend on them too much? Consider all the ways in which we use police: * There are thousands of police officers assigned to schools all over the country.

The Martian: A Book Review

I am very late to the party on this one. Too bad. I haven’t watched the movie, either. If you have somehow escaped having any knowledge of Andy Weir’s The Martian as well as its film adaptation, a synopsis is very simple: astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, alone, and must figure out how to survive and somehow get home. That’s it. The premise is about as straightforward as can be.

The Real Dr. King

When I was growing up, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was related to me, a young white boy, as something more like a legend than a human being. The story went, in the broad strokes, that black Americans were not being treated fairly, and while some white people were behind it, most simply didn’t know it was happening. So, he brought it to national attention, and via peaceful protests and beautiful speeches, convinced decent white people to fix racism.

Indiana to New Jersey: A Culture Shock

This is a topic that’s sat in my queue for a while, and I decided to finally tackle it. I will quickly note that I think I have adjusted pretty well to the differences, but it’s interesting to look back and see the transition from a distance. In lieu of a full memoir, I will just say that I lost my job in Muncie, Indiana in late 2008, and found a new job in northern New Jersey in early 2009.

Lotteries: A Predatory Tax Regime

I play the lottery now and then, by which I mean maybe once every year or two. I like to think I might win, but of course don’t entertain any illusions that I will. It’s more of a fun social activity to take part in a lottery pool at work, or among friends. But the lottery isn’t that way for everyone. Lotteries bring in billions while preying on the poor. They are touted as helping education funding, but once lottery funds pick up, it gives state legislators an excuse to cut taxpayer funding.

The Poor Experience in America

Each individual’s worldview is most directly shaped by personal experience. Due to how our brains work, we are far more likely to believe things that are part of (or at least similar to) our own experience. As a result, we tend to have considerable difficulty accepting the reported life experiences of people who have endured very different circumstances. You can probably tell where this is going and what it has to do with being poor.

Trust and Cruelty

Due to some recent events, I have been thinking about the nature of relationships–not just romantic ones, but all close relationships between individuals. It’s one of those areas where it’s hard to find the right answers to a given issue, if there even are right answers. Specifically, I was thinking about trust. A relationship of any seriousness must have trust. Trust can be defined a lot of ways, but I would summarize it as the state of being emotionally vulnerable to another person, on the assumption that they will treat you honestly and fairly, with love and care.

Sid Meier's Civilization as Commentary

I am a lifelong fan of Sid Meier’s Civilization computer games, all the way back to the original from 1991. The series is in its fifth incarnation now, and has had numerous spinoffs and imitators. But what interests me here is analyzing it as commentary on what it says it’s about: civilization. What does this series say about humanity, about our societies? To be clear, nothing I am suggesting here is meant to indicate the personal beliefs of Sid Meier himself or anyone who worked on the games.

Fan Creations: What's the Right Balance?

I’d like to comment on a couple of similar yet very different situations currently unfolding, one involving the Star Trek media franchise, and the other concerning the indie video game Undertale. One might not expect them to have much in common–one is owned by media giants CBS and Paramount, the other is almost entirely the sole creation of one man, Toby Fox. So, what do they have in common? Right now, both are in the midst of major actions against copyright infringement.

Bill Cosby: Unexpected Developments

I was surprised to hear today that Bill Cosby was arrested and charged in relation to a 2004 sexual assault allegation. The man had long seemed immune to legal consequences despite persistent outcries from victims going back at least 30 years. This past summer, New York Magazine ran a feature in which 35 women related stories of their own encounters with Cosby. That just one of those women–the same woman who has been pursuing her case tirelessly since 2004.