I re-recorded a version of “Remember How to Smile” (early demo and explanation available here) with MIDI drums and better string mixing.
Lyrics: … Continue Reading
I thought I’d update people on what’s happening with me music-wise.
And I throw down on one of my favourite Jamiroquai tunes, Virtual Insanity.
Don’t be shy about subscribing to my YouTube channel. I expect to release a new acoustic cover every month.
I have had a couple of people take some exception to the central thesis of this morning’s post, specifically the idea that white people by definition cannot experience racism:
white people are far less likely (some would say it is definitionally impossible) to experience racism than are PoC. It seems preposterous to assume that you, a person with no experience in the topic under discussion, would be in a position to lecture someone about that topic.
I want to take a careful look at the above quoted claim, and then attempt to respond to the criticisms in a satisfactory matter.
The easiest way for me to weasel out of the problem is to point out that I specifically use the words “some would say”, passing the burden of a response off to those “some”. I’m sure my critics wouldn’t find such a response particularly satisfactory, and neither do I. However, I do wish to clarify that there are some worthwhile definitions of racism that do not necessarily preclude the possibility of anti-white racism, which includes the one I have previously provided on this site. That definition – racism as the ascribing of group traits to an individual – would not exclude the possibility of white people being on the receiving end. There are lots of examples of white people being assumed to behave/believe a certain way based on their race, sometimes even with violent results.
In my zeal to make my point, I failed to account for these kinds of experiences, and that is a failure on my part. I apologize for that.
Do white people experience racism? … Continue Reading
It is an interesting thing to observe that whenever I hear the term “real racist”, as in “maybe you’re the real racist here!”, it’s coming from the mouth of a white person. I have never heard a person of colour use this phrase either to a white person, let alone another PoC. I say “let alone” because maybe, just maybe, PoC trust each other to have a pretty accurate working definition of what racism is. Or maybe I’m reading too much into too little.
At either rate, the reason I find this little observation so fascinating is as follows: white people are far less likely (some would say it is definitionally impossible || EDIT: I have been asked to clarify this point, which I have done in a companion post) to experience racism than are PoC. It seems preposterous to assume that you, a person with no experience in the topic under discussion, would be in a position to lecture someone about that topic. It’s textbook ‘splaining. You’d have to have less than a spoonful of self-awareness to fail to see that.
It’s the “oh yeah, well if evolution is true why are there still monkeys?” of racial entitlement and ignorance. … Continue Reading
I thought it would be fun to create a music ‘video’ for my song ‘Cherryblossom’. The pictures were all taken by me at various points during the year. Vancouver is crazy beautiful, and I hope that you can see, through the images, why I was so inspired to write this song.
One of the wackiest aspects of having a little bit of internet notoriety is that occasionally I get invited to go places and speak. Considering my friends in Vancouver can barely get me to shut up, the idea of people going somewhere specifically to hear me talk is… let’s just say I’m not used to it.
The equally weird part, at least for me, is that while I have quite a bit of formal education in science and health, that’s almost never what I get invited to talk about. The exception to that, obviously, is professional conferences, but that’s usually a question of me applying to go and speak, rather than being invited to do so. Part of this is intentional: I don’t want the stuff that Ian Cromwell does during the day to be confused with the stuff that Crommunist does at night – my employer has nothing to do with my writing and I prefer to keep it that way.
So it’s sort of neat that I get to blend my skeptic blogging stuff with my professional stuff at this year’s SkepTech conference:
Skeptech is a new annual conference, organized by members & alumni of the Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists student group at the University of Minnesota (CASH), the Secular Student Alliance at St. Cloud State University (SSA@SCSU), and the Secular Student Alliance at St. Olaf College (SSASTO). It explores the intersections of science, critical thinking, and innovation in addressing some of the most pressing societal and environmental problems humanity faces today. Held at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – a hotbed of technological research and innovation in the heart of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area – the three-day conference aims to spark ideas, foster questions, and start conversations on the role of technology in improving, and ensuring there is, tomorrow.
The speaker list is pretty impressive: Heina Dadabhoy, Hemant Mehta, Debbie Goddard, Jesse Galef, Rebecca Watson… some very smart people, talking about skepticism and technology and the things that tie them together.
For my part, I’m going to be talking about the introduction of new medical technologies, and the perils inherent in evidence-based funding decisions. Even if we agree that evidence is important, what types of evidence should we be considering? How do we go about doing that? Who gets to decide?
That’s right, I’m going to be talking about death panels.
So if you’re in/around the Minnesota Twin Cities area, come on out to SkepTech. It’s free! Also I promise not to suck.
There are a lot of things to love about the city of Vancouver. There’s never any smog, it doesn’t get very cold, there are mountains, we’re right on the ocean, people are attractive and friendly, politics tends to be left-leaning, and there are a lot of different kinds of people living here. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
But hands down, without hesitation, my absolute favourite thing about Vancouver happens around this time of year. Winters here are rainy, grey, and not terribly exciting. But as we approach April, the city transforms into a goddamn fairy wonderland.
Trees all over the city turn pink and redolent with cherry blossoms. These trees are planted all over the city. For a three-week period, pockets of pink explode into fragrant bloom. This, for example, is my street: … Continue Reading
In the course of my scientific training, I spent a lot of time receiving instruction about bias. Bias is, simply, something that influences the relationship between the elements of interest, but isn’t due to a “real” association between those elements. We’ve discussed the concept of “confounding” on this blog before. Confounding is a type of bias, wherein the relationship between X and Y is actually explained (at least in part) by the presence of a third variable, Z. The facile example is the apparent relationship between ice cream sales and drownings, when what is actually happening is that both of those things are associated with warmer temperatures rather than each other.
Bias, as a scientific phenomenon, is a serious issue. Scientists put in a lot of time and effort to eliminate bias to get an estimate of the ‘true’ relationship between different things. Some types of bias, like confounding, can be eliminated through the use of statistical methods. Other types of bias, like selection bias, can only be removed through proper study design. Other forms of bias, like publication bias (which is a serious issue for meta-analysis), cannot be controlled for at all.
Scientific inquiry requires us to consider not only the type of bias that might exist in any given study, but also the direction and magnitude of that bias. We often cannot get a precise measure of bias, but we are required to consider the ways in which our work may have been affected by structural or other biases. The best among us will discuss the way in which we could control for such biases in subsequent work, and perhaps even provide explanations of what a removal of bias might look like. This is pretty standard fodder for the ‘Discussion’ section of peer-reviewed manuscripts. It shows that we are actively thinking about and critiquing our own work, and presenting the best form of our argument that acknowledges the limitation of our data and design. Acknowledging bias is, for the most part, an indication of how strongly you should ‘believe’ the findings. … Continue Reading
I am no great hand at satire. The screenplay I posted this morning was a sort of broad-spectrum attack on a bunch of different pet peeves of mine, but I’m not sure how much of that came across. So I’m writing this guide to explain the joke. If you’d rather not have it ruined for you that way, by all means skip this post. … Continue Reading
The social media world has been buzzing about Macklemore’s ‘Best Rap’ Grammy award and his subsequent self-aggrandizing behaviour immediately in its wake. The responses to criticisms of Macklemore – his win and his behaviour – have been impressive in their banal obviousness. Cries of ‘reverse racism’, the ever-popular refrain went up, Amanda Palmer said something stupid, and the edifice of colour-blind white supremacy trundled on, unfazed by the agonized screams of the PoC crushed in its wake.
With this in mind, I decided to lend my considerable writing talents to the creation of a film that finally, at long last, speaks to the suffering that white folks have to go through in our post-racial hellscape. I present a few choice scenes from a movie I tentatively call ‘Up Off The Mat’
(Setting: Harlem, New York City, daytime. Camera fades in on front steps of 28th Precinct HQ of NYPD. Music by Elvis Presley plays. MACK ELMORE jogs up front steps to door, gym bag over one shoulder, wearing t-shirt and track pants. Scene shifts to inside, ELMORE walks through police HQ. Most officers (like 80-90%) are black or Latino. They mostly ignore him as he heads toward LIEUTENANT WHITE’s office. Music fades as ELMORE knocks on WHITE’s door.)
CHIEF WHITE: (Looks up from papers) Come in!
MACK ELMORE: (Enters office) Sir?
WHITE: You must be the new guy. What was it? (fumbles with papers, searching for name) Edmore?
ELMORE: Elmore, sir. Mack. … Continue Reading