Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Critique of Ed Krayewski's NYPD Cops Put Pregnant Woman in a Choke Hold Over Grilling In Front of Her House

I'm a little disappointed in Ed Krayewski's post on Reason.com titled NYPD Cops Put Pregnant Woman in a Choke Hold Over Grilling In Front of Her House

The blog post begins with reactive, angry, rhetorical language which attempts to preemptively group any potential critics as "police apologist" asking, did you think "Eric Garner should've just fucking complied with police if he wanted to live? Did you think Jahmiel Cuffee should've known better after his first eight marijuana arrests and done a better job hiding from the cops?" This, of course is to set the stage for what must be another obvious example of police abuse, but as I say bellow, this is anything but obvious. It would be nice if we could first read the story first without Krayewski's blatant attempts at Poisoning the Well.

The post then goes on to state "this story involves a pregnant woman, who was put in a chokehold by New York City cops, because she was grilling in front of her house." But when I read the linked New York Post story, I find the facts far less clear than presented. First, the police did not put Rosan Miller in a choke hold for grilling in front of her house. According to the NY Post article police were attempting to arrest her after she and her brother "started slapping at police" to prevent them from arresting her husband. Hmm, I don't know about you but that sounds a lot different than police rolling up on her for cooking some burgers on the sidewalk, snatching her up and tossing her in the cruiser.

Quoting the NY Post article, Krayewski then writes that the woman released photos that she said show the cop putting her in a chokehold. He then goes on to mention that chokeholds are banned by the NYPD but cops may consider the maneuver used a neck restraint. Here are the images released by Rosan which were taken from a cell phone video:

After reading the NY Post article and feeling Krayewski's post wasn't doing the story justice, I started to read articles put out by other news organizations. Strangely I found that they all included some or all of the above images (Huffington Post, Dailymail, Gawker) but where is the actual video from which they come? Could it be the video presents a less compelling story than the pictures?

The only article I could find which did provide the video was the NY Daily News. Here is a link to it so you can watch it for yourself.

Video of NYPD Officer 'Chokehold' on a Pregnant Woman

Though the still pictures may leave the impression that the officer may have used a chokehold, the video (at least in my mind) clearly shows the officer simply trying to control the uncooperative woman in order to put hand cuffs on her.

I haven't taken the time to write this criticism because I'm an apologist for police. On the contrary, I have been critical of law enforcement's decades long move towards becoming ever more militarized and less concerned with constitutional restraints (though this is largely the fault of law makers and judges). My criticism is with the unreasoned, emotional reaction this case has received by those in the media. I'm not trying to say that police didn't do anything wrong. I'm only saying that based on the so called evidence presented, there is nothing that demonstrably shows they did anything wrong.

Recently there have been a number of high profile cases where video taken by a bystander clearly demonstrates abuse by police. Krayewski writes about a number of these in his post. It is absolutely essential that journalist report these incidents to help shine a spotlight on the problem of police misconduct in hopes of curbing future incidents. But as terrible as these incidents might be, journalist still have a responsibility to judge each allegation independently (referring to opinion pieces) and to report the facts of the case completely and without bias. Though Krayewski isn't alone in his frenzied reporting (talking about you Gawker, and HuffPo), I expect more from Reason.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bernard Pras: Anamorphic Art

This art is garbage...and it's awesome. Cool found object anamorphic piece by artist Bernard Pras. When viewed from the right perspective this pile of trash turns into a sculptural portrait of Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman who spent 33 years stacking stones to construct Le palais ideal.

Pras is well known for his anamorphic works. One of my favorite is the Dali installation, as he is a fitting subject for this sort of mind bending art.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Price of Education (revisited)

Back in 2011 I wrote blog entry on how the average cost of a four year degree had tripled in inflation adjusted dollars from 1980 to 2010. So has there been any change in the three years since? For the most part, not really.

The following table from collegeboard.org provides the average tuition/fees and room/board charges from 1971-72 to 2013-14. The data is provides in inflation adjusted 2013 dollars.

As the bottom line indicates, over the last five years average tuition and fees increased another 27%. I seem to remember reading an article within the last year which indicated there was a slowdown in tuition increases which this data doesn't jive with, so I took a glance at the full report and found that there has been a trend of decreasing annual rate increases. The one year change from 2009-10 was 9.5%, 2010-11 6.5%, 2011-12 4.7%, 2012-13 3.1%, 2013-14 0.9%. Does this mean tuition has now leveled out and will just keep pace with inflation? Not necessarily. If you look at the data from my original post you find that annual rate increases do jump around. For instance, in 2008-09 the percentage change was 0.8% only to be followed with a whopping 9.3% increase the next year.

Even if education prices level out it is already an incredibly expensive investment and the young people who have to decide whether to make it are typically ill equipped to do so. Though many of them have financially experienced, caring parents who will help guide them along, it is probably true that just as many do not. And the complete lack of financial/accounting education in high school means that these youngsters typically have no ability to understand the long term effects of having this amount of debt.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

BOUNCE: Guillaume Blanchet

Blend two years of traveling, a soccer ball, lots of editing and what do you get? If you're Guillaume Blanchet the result is a happiness producing, brilliant short film.

Find more about  Guillaume Blanchet here.

BOUNCE - This is not a freestyle movie from Guillaume Blanchet I Filmmaker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Illusion of the Year Winner: Dynamic Ebbinghaus

The winner of the Best Illusion of the Year contest goes to Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and Ryan E.B. Mruczek of the University of Nevada for an animated version of the Ebbinghaus illusion.

The classic Ebbinghaus is an illusion of relative size perception in which two identical circles are placed near to each other with one surrounded by large circles and the other surrounded by small circles. The size difference between the surrounding circles causes the center circles to appear to be different sizes.


The new version referred to as the Dynamic Ebbinghaus, takes the classic static illusion and turns it into a moving display where the central circle stays the same but the surrounding circles continually grow and shrink.

Here's a video showcasing the development of the illusion.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chess Pieces Illusion

One set of white chess pieces and the other black. The difference is easy to see, right? Well believe it or not, only the background surrounding the two set of pieces is different. The pieces themselves are identical. Yep, that's right. They are exactly the same shades of white and gray.

Here is a nifty video which allows you to see that they are in fact the same.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Aurora Australis From Space

Aurora picture: southern lights seen from space

Cool video of the Aurora Australis created from various images and videos taken from the International Space Station.

NASA ISS : Aurora Australis from space from FullWerks on Vimeo.