Sunday, April 19, 2015

Last Call For Riding Dirty

I guess it's time to add "riding a bicycle" to the long, long list of things that will get you pulled over by a cop for doing when you're black. The Tampa Bay Times:

The Times analyzed more than 10,000 bicycle tickets Tampa police issued in the past dozen years. The newspaper found that even though blacks make up about a quarter of the city's population, they received 79 percent of the bike tickets.
Some riders have been stopped more than a dozen times through the years, and issued as many as 17 tickets. Some have been ticketed three times in one day.

It's possible blacks in some areas use bicycles more than whites. But that's not what's driving the disparity.

Police are targeting certain high-crime neighborhoods and nitpicking cyclists as a way to curb crime. They hope they will catch someone with a stolen bike or with drugs or that they will scare thieves away.

"This is not a coincidence," said Police Chief Jane Castor. "Many individuals receiving bike citations are involved in criminal activity."

She said her department has done such a good job curbing auto theft that bikes have "become the most common mode of transportation for criminals."

Many of the tickets did go to convicted criminals, including some people interviewed for this story. And there are cases where police stopped someone under suspicious circumstances and found a gun or caught a burglar.

But most bike stops that led to a ticket turned up no illegal activity; only 20 percent of adults ticketed last year were arrested.

When police did arrest someone, it was almost always for a small amount of drugs or a misdemeanor like trespassing

Ordinances that mysteriously don't get enforced for bicycle riders in the nicer neighborhoods of Tampa Bay, only the black ones. 

Weird how that works.

Burning Up The Charts

Another month, another global temperature record, as 2015 is proving to be even hotter across Earth than record-setting 2014 was.

Last month the average global temperature was the highest recorded for March since record keeping began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Friday.

Average global temperature, including both land and ocean surfaces, was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average.

“Record warm temperatures continued to dominate in the northeast Pacific Ocean and were also notable in the southwest Pacific and parts of the Arctic Seas to the north and northwest of Scandinavia,” NOAA said in its report. “Overall, every major ocean basin had at least some areas with record warmth and large areas with much warmer-than-average temperatures.”

The first quarter of this year, from January to March, had already broken records. It was the hottest such period in the administration’s 136-year archive.

But remember, global warming is a myth, all the world's climate scientists are involved in a massive conspiracy to deceive you, it's really a major hoax to impose a new world order and destroy the world's economies, and only the Republican Party can save you from it.

Or, you know, we could lower carbon emissions. One of these two paths is the truth.  So far, America has overwhelmingly decided on path number one.

Sunday Long Read: Disappeared Like Magic

Your Sunday long read this week is Jonathan Abrams and his essential piece at Grantland on the mid-90's era Orlando Magic.  The team, led by the duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, should have won three, maybe four NBA titles.  Instead they imploded and ended one of the biggest duds in NBA history.

They were destined for greatness. Back in the mid-1990s, you couldn’t imagine a more promising basketball pairing than the Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. O’Neal was powerful and agile, plus swift and skillful in a way that hadn’t been seen in a 7-footer since Wilt Chamberlain (and hasn’t been seen since O’Neal retired). Hardaway was seen as the rightful heir to Magic Johnson — a tall, transcendent point guard who would headline the new generation of NBA superstars. If you wanted to build an ideal basketball team, you would start with a center and a point guard. If you wanted to build the perfect team, you would start with O’Neal and Hardaway. The Magic, only a few years removed from their lowly expansion-team origins, skyrocketed to fame with their abundant talent and black-and-white pinstripes. O’Neal and Hardaway were surrounded by capable role players like Dennis Scott, Brian Shaw, Nick Anderson, and Horace Grant. Together, they seemed poised to become the NBA’s next dynasty. 
Perhaps no NBA team has ever featured two players more marketable than O’Neal and Hardaway. The two filmed Blue Chips together and became dueling campaign faces for Nike and Reebok. O’Neal had his wide smile and an outsize personality to match his towering physique. Hardaway was more reserved, but possessed that unforgettable nickname and a Chris Rock–voiced alter ego to talk trash for him. The possibilities seemed endless, as if the championship rings and parades would be a formality.

And then it ended. The Magic’s competitive window slammed shut faster than anyone imagined, thanks to O’Neal’s unexpected departure to Los Angeles, the firing of Magic coach Brian Hill, and the decline of Hardaway’s game thanks to knee injuries. It took years for the franchise to build another competitive team, and even though the Dwight Howard–led Magic reached the NBA Finals in 2009, the pride mixed with disappointment from 1995 and ’96 remained strong. 
The Shaq and Penny Magic are in an unfortunate class similar to the ’70s Blazers,’80s Rockets, or 2000s Kings — a story of unfulfilled potential and a dynasty that never was. “We were just having so much fun playing the game,” Scott said. “We weren’t really thinking about making history or understanding how good we really could be. All that stuff was happening so fast.”

Penny and Shaq. Shaq and Penny. For a brief time — they played only three seasons together — most of the NBA believed no one could stop them.

I remember the Shaq and Penny-era Magic pretty fondly throughout college. They were the next coming of Jordan and Pippen Bulls or the Rodman and Thomas "Bad Boys" Pistons and then everything melted down.  They were exciting and cool and awesome, and then they were gone.

Give the story a read, it's a good one, even by Grantland standards.
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