Praying away crime

“Once the older elephant was introduced to the pack, the younger elephants had somebody to look up to,” Irvin told the crowd. “They had someone to guide them. And that’s what our youth needs: someone to guide them. Without that, how will they know about moral structure?”

Irvin was speaking at the graduation ceremony for Operation Good Shepherd, a publicly funded Christian outreach ministry started by the Montgomery Police Department that puts Christian pastors on crime scenes to counsel and pray with victims and witnesses. Police claim the program is a way to regain trust in the community, but there’s another motive, which they aren’t at all coy about: evangelism—they believe a stronger sense of Christianity will reduce crime.

So far this year, 39 people people have been murdered in Montgomery, Alabama, the vast majority of them black. With a population of only 200,000, those numbers make Montgomery among the most violent cities per capita in the country. If the pace keeps up, 2013 will be the city’s most violent year in four decades. And if numbers specifically by race are taken into account, this could be one of the most violent years for Montgomery’s black population since slavery ended. [link]

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Contra Louis CK, smartphones do not hinder childrens’ face to face social life

In an online survey he conducted in the summer of 2010 with Roy Pea, on the media habits of 8-to-12-year-old girls, Nass found no correlation between online and face-to-face communication. In other words, girls who spent lots of hours buried in their smartphones weren’t any less likely than their peers to hang out with friends in person—and girls who liked to go out in groups were no less inclined to text or send instant messages. According to the data, a kid can gorge on Facebook “junk food” and still get all the social nutrients she needs. [link]

Ray Bradbury

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.

Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it’s just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
― Ray Bradbury [link]

Check cashing joints aren’t the bad guy

The primary critique of check cashers is that they are expensive. Sitting in my New School office eight miles south of Mott Haven, I had believed that, too. When I interviewed my customers, however, I learned that for many lower income people, commercial banks are ultimately more expensive. The rapidly increasing cost of bounced checked fees and late payment penalties has driven many customers away from banks, particularly those who live close to the edge, like many of my RiteCheck customers. A single overdraft can result in cascading bad checks and hundreds of dollars in charges. [link]

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
— by Derek Walcott

Not my department

I asked if he had considered alerting the police in Lusaka that he had witnessed a killing by an American visitor to Zambia. He said, “That was way above my pay scale. I was working for ABC. It wasn’t my business to do that.” [link]

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Using mobile-phone minutes to measure wealth in the developing world

Using mobile-phone minutes to measure wealth in the developing world

A group of Belgian researchers has come up with a novel way of mapping the distribution of wealth in Côte d’Ivoire—by looking at purchases of mobile airtime minutes. After combing reams of data on individual purchases from a national mobile operator (unnamed in their report), they discovered that, in a country where prepaid phones dominate, there are basically two kinds of airtime buyers: those who make big infrequent purchases, filling up on minutes, and those who buy fewer minutes more regularly. Their theory is the re-fillers are richer than those who buy airtime often, and thus the average size of an airtime purchase can serve as a proxy for wealth. And indeed, the biggest average purchases, as the map below shows, happen in Abidjan, the capital; in a few cities in the interior; and around key border areas and trade routes. [link] [original paper]

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Social mobility in a “post-racial” America

As you can see the results are glum. Put simply if you are black and grew up around poverty, your children probably grew up the same way. If you are white and grew up around poverty, your children probably did better. If you are black and grew up around affluence, your children probably didn’t. If you are white and grew up around affluence, your child probably did. [link]

Mississipi judge to Sikh truck driver, Remove “That Rag” or Go to Jail

Mr. Singh’s ordeal did not end with the MDOT. When he returned to Mississippi on March 26, 2013, for his court date at the Pike County Justice Court, he once again suffered humiliation, harassment, and discrimination because of his religious beliefs. Waiting for his attorney in the back of the courtroom, he was stunned when four Highway Patrol officers approached him and ordered him to leave the courtroom. The officers stated that Judge Aubrey Rimes had ordered them to eject Mr. Singh from the courtroom because he did not like Mr. Singh’s turban. Moreover, they told Mr. Singh that Judge Rimes would punish him if he failed to remove his headdress.

When Mr. Singh’s attorney went to Judge Rimes’s chambers to inquire about the matter, he readily confirmed that he had expelled Mr. Singh from the courtroom because of his turban. He further stated that Mr. Singh would not be allowed to re-enter the courtroom unless he removed “that rag” from his head and threatened to call Mr. Singh last on the docket if he continued to wear the religious headdress. [link]