Jimmy Kimmel Should Cry When Someone Dies in Police Custody

Jimmy Kimmel

Hey, it’s kind of a funny thing. Or at least it seemed that way. Jimmy Kimmel cries on TV at the death of a lion named Cecil. You almost have to wonder if it was staged.

But here’s a serious proposal: What if he turned on the waterworks on a regular basis? How about Jimmy Kimmel cries every time a person of color dies in police custody?

This past week, the Internet raged at the death of a lion in Zimbabwe. There were reportedly 670,000 tweets about it in 24 hours, and 391,000 of them were tagged to #CeciltheLion. The Minnesota dentist who allegedly shelled out $50,000 to hunt, shoot and decapitate the animal has been so roundly threatened that he’s gone into hiding. (Hey, Dr. Palmer: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to chat.) Palmer’s Yelp page got slammed with thousands of (now mostly deleted) over-the-top angry comments, like the one calling him a bloodthirsty psychopath who might mount your head on his wall.

Is there hope in Kimmel’s saline? Maybe people would pay more attention. Maybe people of color could stop dying alone, in fear.

If Jimmy Kimmel could get more than 6 million views, just on the YouTube video of his lion tears, maybe the same tears could work on an issue of profound cultural relevance, one you might argue is a national emergency. Freddie Gray’s death catalyzed Baltimore in April. And just this month, at least five Black women have died in police custody, from Sandra Bland in Texas to Raynette Turner in New York. Not to mention at least 11 transgender people murdered so far this year — a crisis in its own right.

Kimmel’s tears got play all over, including on USA Today, Time, the Hollywood Reporter, HuffPo, CNN, BuzzFeed, CBS News, the New York Daily News. So I politely request that Kimmel run with this. I’m not looking for more than, say, two tears. Three, tops … he wouldn’t need a hankie or a cold compress. If this sounds flip, it’s truly not meant that way. Traditional news coverage and protests have failed to stem a tide of racially biased murders that goes back to America’s birth. Could there be hope in Kimmel’s saline? Maybe it could stop all those deaths from seeming so … banal. Maybe people would start paying more attention. Maybe Black women and other people of color could stop dying alone, in fear, cut off from their families and from the rest of their lives. (Kimmel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.)

How did we get here? Is it that we don’t care about people of color? George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology in the social and decision sciences department at Carnegie Mellon University, says that’s not the right question: “Human sympathy bears almost no relationship to the misery of victims.” Rather, he says, it’s that we’re suckers for “a compelling story,” and if we saw a movie depicting the life of one, say, Native American woman who perished in police custody, we could be just as sympathetic to her as we are to Cecil. Or it could be that these issues are too murky to talk about. Elizabeth Churchill, a psychologist specializing in human-computer interaction and social computing, says people are comfortable discussing Cecil and other very simple stories that are easily defended. Nobody’s going to get up in your face about outrage for a slain endangered animal. With police brutality, she says, people are overwhelmed by the scale and horror: “People feel like they don’t know what to say.”

But Jimmy Kimmel’s tears could be a talking point. If he shed a few every time a transgender person bled out alone on the street, like 66-year-old K.C. Haggard in Fresno, or every time someone like Ralkina Jones died in a holding cell, maybe we’d finally find the words, or at least the one that counts: Stop.

 

Eugenious: Boohoo, Brady

deflate 3

The desk of Commissioner Roger Goodell was the court of nearly last recourse — and it’s where the four-game suspension of the Tom Brady, celebrity quarterback for the New England Patriots, has been upheld. Now citizens of a sad and confused nation join trembling hands and wipe tear-stained faces as they ask the crucial question: What will happen to a man who plays a game for a living while being saddled with an estimated wealth of $131 million?

What? Indeed. While “poor” Brady makes angry noises about Goodell, conspiracy and outrageous fortune, OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson can only wonder: “If something like this could happen to a righteous, humble servant and man of the people like Tom Brady, is there really any hope for the rest of us?”

Inquiring minds want to know. Inquiring minds will get to know …

 

Alex Shashou, the Harry Potter of Hotel Stays

Alex Shahou

For some, a hotel is an indulgence in luxury living, and for others it’s a necessary evil. For Alex Shashou, it was more like a playground. As a child running around in his parents’ boutique hotels in the U.K., he loved the kitchens — for the food, of course, but also for characters like specialist chefs, who often came from other parts of Europe, skirted the law to work there, and hacked around all day as they produced their creations. “They were hysterical,” says Shashou.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that a kid who played in the back of the house — the kitchen, the mail room and the laundry — is leading a technological effort to integrate how hotels manage and deliver services while creating a better experience for hotel guests. She’s called ALICE, and Shashou was busy introducing her at a recent hotel technology exposition in Austin, Texas, after which he told OZY, “I’ve been pitching 25 times a day.” So far, 30 hotel groups have signed up, and the system’s up and running at famous luxury hangouts like the Setai in Miami Beach and Zetta in San Francisco. He’s aiming to be in 100 hotels by year’s end, maybe just enough so that the startup he co-founded and where he serves as president might actually break even.

Shashou will still have to prove it’s the solution the hotel industry needs — and he’s up against some stiff competition. 

Like many industries, hotels are being pushed by mobile tech as all sorts of services get revolutionized, from transportation to finance. ALICE, of course, is hardly the first high-tech tool for the hospitality sector. Many chains already offer apps to book trips, dole out rewards or provide concierge offerings. Both the Marriott and Virgin Hotels, which is starting to build its own chain, have launched proprietary apps that allow guests to access services, often well before they even arrive for check-in. But many brands still rely on the ubiquitous hotel radio or several different software systems to run different parts of their operations, and all that tech doesn’t necessarily speak to each other. Which is where Shashou is trying to squeeze into this increasingly crowded space — with a cloud-basedoff-the-shelf product that connects all of the back-office functions on a single platform (that costs $8,000 to $15,000 a year for a subscription). 

Shashou almost missed checking into this business entirely. The dark-haired 25-year-old, whose round face is unshaven and holds up circular horned-rimmed glasses, explains how he got here while wearing a blue, informal open-necked shirt and speaking in a British English that’s morphed into something Mid-Atlantic. Although he grew up in the U.K., his family is from, well, everywhere: His grandfather was Iraqi, while his father was Brazilian, and his maternal grandparents were Russian and Czech. (“I’m Jewish, and we were kicked out of many countries,” he explains.) 

Alex Shahou

Shashou is working through the growing pains that many tech startups face.

Source Rich Villa for OZY

After graduating from Wharton with a business degree, he traveled around the world with his roommate Justin Effron (now ALICE’s co-founder and CEO) but stayed in China two weeks longer. By the time he returned to the U.S., Effron had already founded a hotel tech company following frustrations over waiting to check in everywhere on his travels. But Effron figured ALICE needed a tech whiz, not another business school grad, and Shashou just kept crashing the business meetings until Effron eventually gave in. “I fought my way on,” Shashou says. (Effron tells the same story, adding, “I’m very happy he did crash those meetings!”)

While Shashou has benefited from ALICE’s promising start, he’ll still have to prove it’s the solution the hotel industry needs — and he’s up against some stiff competition. Rival company StayNTouch, which has been operating about one year, helps hotels integrate their back-end operations while letting customers access certain services on their phone through a link in an email. StayNTouch already has 53 hotels that have signed up, including the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, and its COO and founder, Tim Kinsella, notes there’s a high hurdle for many travelers before they will download and install an app on their phone. “If you look at the stats, it’s grim,” he says.

About a mile-and-a-half down the beach from the Fontainebleau, the Setai’s general manager, Alex Furrer, tells OZY that ALICE has helped his hotel boost customer service — and increase sales in some areas. Even so, just 10 to 15 percent of guests are using the tech, and the hotel has still found it useful to employ some older back-office software and old-fashioned radios in certain service spots. Continuing to sell to hotels is a top priority, along with building the company. Indeed, Shashou is working through the growing pains that many tech startups face: raising money, hiring the right people, setting a strategic vision and just thinking really big, like how to eventually adapt the software to any service-on-demand business with multiple back-office functions, like shared co-working spaces or assisted-living facilities. “It takes time to break through the barriers,” says Shashou.

 

The Suburbs Are Killing You

getty images 150653321

For a long time after the Industrial Revolution, cities had a bad health rap: choked with pollution, crowded, full of criminals and generally insalubrious. While megacities in the developing world are still considered pretty unhealthy — many (who can) try to escape the bad air in Beijing and Delhi, for instance — elsewhere, the tables have turned. Now it’s the suburbs that are hurting you. Yes, all that green grass and subdivided open space could be stealing your life, day by day.

The main reason, of course, is that most suburbs are not so walkable. Many developments were designed for a single use, which means that residential areas are segregated from commercial ones. To get to the town center, or any “public” area, you need a car. And so you don’t walk to the market, or to school, or to the movie theater. In a city, on the other hand, houses and apartments mingle with stores and offices. Parking space is often scant. So urbanites tend to walk more and drive much less. City dwellers are much less likely to be overweight or obese than their suburban cousins. 

All is not lost in Levittown, though. Studies have found that even in the suburbs, ramping up the mixture of land use in a neighborhood can reduce the number of obese people by up to 20 percent. So it’s not all suburbs that kill you. It’s just the ones that discourage you from walking.

Better Dead Than Coed?

Mills College freshmen, from left, Heather Generes, Erica Leake and Kristine Munday demonstrated their disapproval of the recent decision to admit men as undergraduates on campus on Friday, May 4, 1990 in Oakland, California. The board of trustees announc

He stepped up to a makeshift podium in front of throngs gathered at Toyon Meadow on May 3, 1990, and told the all-female undergrad student body that they would soon be mixing with men. F. Warren Hellman, chairman of the Mills College trustees, said that at the start of the following year, the school would drop its 138-year-old tradition and open its doors to both genders. Shrieks and tears ensued.

Fifty years ago, there were more than 200 women’s colleges in the U.S., but today there are closer to 40. That number nearly dropped again this summer when Sweet Briar College, which opened its romantic Virginia campus in 1906, announced that it was closing its doors for good. Students and alumnae contested the decision, and a court order has saved it for now. But with women-only colleges across the country struggling to prove their modern-day relevance, it reminds us of how those tearful women responded to the news 25 years ago. Their grief quickly hardened into outrage, and within hours the student union was converted into ground zero for a revolt that would seize the nation’s attention for weeks. 

Few slept that night. Instead, the 800 or so students spent their overnight hours rallying support and preparing for battle with sleeping bags and walkie-talkies. The following morning when the faculty showed up, they found hundreds of young women, arms interwoven, blocking access to all the buildings. “That moment when we linked arms, we were all unified,” says Jennifer Bermon, who was a freshman at the time. “That bond was what we were protecting.” The speed and sophistication of their organization took everyone by surprise. Administrators and Oakland police were at a loss over how to respond, and the media were mesmerized. 

Offices were converted into call centers. The women galvanized alumnae, went on prime-time talk shows and organized marches — all while ensuring their human wall never fell. Teachers held classes outside and waived finals. Friends and family brought food and supplies. Several students reportedly shaved their heads and glued their hair to a podium draped in a white cloth with pictures of past graduates taped to the front, calling it “an altar to our ancestors.”

Mills always encouraged us to use our voice, to lead; it shouldn’t be surprising we wouldn’t just accept their decision.

Jennifer Bermon, former student

Not everyone understood their vehement opposition, and even now it can be hard for some to articulate what’s special about an all-women college. But mostly the argument is that it creates a space where women can rise to the top without bumping up against a glass ceiling. They don’t get talked over in classrooms. They run the student government and newspaper. And some pretty powerful women have been products of this model, including Hillary ClintonMadeleine Albright and Diane Sawyer, who all attended Wellesley, and Smith College grads Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. “A women’s college is not just to educate women, but to show them they have the ability to reach the highest points,” says Janet Holmgren, who was president of Mills from 1991 to 2011.

Two weeks after the protest began, Hellman stood on the same lawn and unfurled his own banner. “Mills. For Women. Again.” The women hadn’t just been demonstrating; behind the scenes, they’d been searching for a solution to the college’s financial woes. By getting professors to cut their salaries and to teach more classes, and securing more endowment pledges, they promised stability — at least in the short term. The notoriety from the strike would also pad enrollment numbers. “It was a revolutionary moment in the history of women’s education,” Holmgren says. 

No other school has ever reversed a board’s decision to go coed, which many have done in recent years. Others simply close. Even Mills is once again facing financial uncertainty. But the message sent in 1990 still carries. “As women, we’re often told we can’t do something,” Bermon says. “Mills always encouraged us to use our voice, to lead; it shouldn’t be surprising we wouldn’t just accept their decision.”

 

The Hidden Cost of Coal (Mining)

mine

The small Turkish town of Soma, near the Aegean Sea, was once better known for its spartan houses and quaint surrounding farmland. But ever since 301 miners died last year in a nearby coal mine explosion and fire, locals have been mourning their loss — and insisting the government do more to prevent it from happening again. 

People in the U.S. and Europe may be used to thinking of coal as the past, but in much of the rest of the world, it’s still the future — a dark and dangerous future, particularly for the miners who carve coal from the depths of the Earth. Mining coal has always been hazardous; think of the 29 West Virginia miners who died in an underground explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010. The problem is that in many places, Turkey perhaps foremost among them, coal mining is getting more dangerous, not less. And governments are left trying to find effective, but still affordable, ways to keep them safer.

By one measure, Turkish coal mines are at least five times more hazardous than any others on the planet. Overall fatalities are far higher in the Chinese mining industry, generally considered the world’s deadliest because of its scale; it employs roughly half of the world’s 10 million coal miners. But China’s mining deaths are falling, while Turkey’s are going in the other direction. A May report found that Turkish workplace accidents, about 10 percent of which occur in mines, increased by almost 300 percent in 2013 alone, while over 13,000 miners were injured that same year.

Despite the risks, coal production in Turkey is expected only to grow.

Figures like these make many coal mining experts nervous, especially since coal production continues to rise despite the growing prevalence of affordable alternatives like natural gas. Coal remains king in many energy-hungry developing nations; China uses it to generate 81 percent of its electricity, India 71 percent and Indonesia 48 percent, according to the World Coal Association. Even in Europe, Balkan nations such as Serbia and Bosnia are doubling down on coal-fired electricity and mining. Such countries have had little incentive to wean themselves off coal, as they were exempted from carbon-emission targets in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

In Turkey, coal mining remains a vital part of the national economy. With little indigenous oil or gas, the country has to intensively mine lignite, or brown coal, to meet growing national energy demands, digging up 73 million tons every year. As a result, in the 10 years following 2001, Turkey’s coal mining output rose sixfold to the value of $11.7 billion. And it’s set to grow as more companies look to open new mines here. The question is: Can safety measures keep up with that growth?

Turkey’s central government hasn’t said much publicly about the Soma accident or mine safety in general, although it did close the Soma mine and ratified two International Labor Organization safety conventions. Its immediate response to Soma, however, drew criticism, particularly after an aide to the prime minister was photographed kicking a local mining protester right after the accident. Six months later, another 18 workers died in the central Turkish city of Ermenek, when the mine they were working in flooded.

Soma’s public prosecutor — think of him as the local district attorney — launched an investigation earlier this year that led to eight arrests and charges against 45 executives and employees of the coal company, ranging from first-degree murder to willful negligence against other workers. In the course of that investigation, testimony revealed that some incomplete safety inspections were signed off, and none of the tunnel’s special survival rooms were operational. (Representatives of Soma Coal Enterprises, which operated the Soma mine, didn’t respond to OZY inquiries.)

mine

Protesters in Istanbul hold body bags representing dead miners following a tragedy in Turkey.

Source Avni Kantan/Corbis

Turkey’s mining record may sound alarming, but it’s by no means an exception. Many workers involved in Chile’s infamous “Los 33” copper mine collapse and rescue mission in 2010 have since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and filed a lawsuit against the government on charges of careless mine inspection. Australia is also hugely dependent on coal for export cash; its mining fatalities have declined in recent years, notes Paul Maseli, a representative of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, although that’s largely because China’s appetite for coal has fallen, taking Australian production down with it.

While coal mining today is still a dangerous job, some places do it better than others. The majority of Turkish mining is carried out by hand, which increases the risk of death or injury. China, by contrast, has begun using giant coal-cutting machines in its largest mines that workers can control from the surface; the nation’s top work-safety official, Yang Dongliang, reportedly says he dreams of replacing all the workers in coal mines with robots. (The Chinese government also doubled down on mine safety because of “widespread embarrassment” at its high death toll a decade ago, says Tim Wright, a political economist at the University of Sheffield; the situation there is “still not great, but much better,” he adds.)

Despite the risks, coal mining production in Turkey is expected only to grow. In February, Chinese, Saudi Arabian and Slovakian companies applied to construct and operate a mine at Turkey’s second-biggest lignite reserve. It would open up access to almost 2 billion tons of coal, potentially putting more lives at risk in the process.

Jose Fermoso contributed reporting.

 

War Makes Men Hot. What About Women?

An Infantry Training Battalion student looks for an enemy in nearby trees during Patrol Week near Camp Geiger, N.C., Oct. 28, 2013.

It’s Friday, you’re at the bar, and you’re eyeing a sea of lovely women. When you finally get one of them to talk to you, you do the usual: lie about your job, say you’re not married. Then comes time to seal the deal. Which well-honed line do you pull out? Do you tell her you’re a war hero? Or do you claim to be an award-winning humanitarian? That’s it. Everyone loves a man of the people.

Next thing you know, she’s faking some emergency (“Crap! I forgot to feed my cat!”). 

Shoulda gone with the ultra-masculine war hero, according to a new study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. The U.K. and Dutch researchers were surprised to find:

Men who showed extraordinary bravery in a humanitarian crisis were no more attractive than those who simply showed up and drove a truck of food (not to say the latter isn’t a hero too). Male war heroes, on the other hand, were significantly more attractive in the eyes of women than your ordinary G.I. Joe. 

The reason, researchers propose, is evolutionary: Combat is the perfect platform to peacock valuable mating traits like ability to protect offspring, commitment and altruism (at least for those in the same uniform). “There’s something unique about war,” says Mark van Vugt, the study’s co-author and professor of evolutionary biology at VU University Amsterdam. Maybe that’s why American Sniper was so damn popular. 

Sure, but those are just findings from another study published in another journal of Shit That Doesn’t Seem to Be Very Connected to Reality. Wait — there’s more. Van Vugt and his team looked up how many kids were born of 123 American World War II Medal of Honor recipients. Turns out they were quite a bit more prolific as baby-makers than their nonmedaled comrades:

War heroes had

15%

more children.

What about women? According to the research, ladies, proudly broadcasting your heroics to that cute guy isn’t a turn on. At all. In fact, they found female heroes were a bit less attractive. The answer could be evolutionary — that being in harm’s way has “implications for [women’s] well-being and ability to conceive,” says van Vugt. Or prevailing social norms like that only dudes can be strong, aggressive and fearless, says Zoe Peterson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Which, she adds, “is depressing.”

 

Does Your Wife Win Out Over Your Favorite Brand?

Fashion handbag

In a world where multinational corporations are increasingly treated like people, perhaps it was inevitable that they would also become our friends. On Facebook, you can “like” your favorite company or brand in the same way you “like” a real person, and many Facebook users need no financial incentive to do so — brand befriending feels like an increasingly natural aspect of our digital communities. Which is perhaps why we should not be surprised at all by a new study suggesting that:

Some people feel more warmly toward their favorite brands than they do toward their close friends.

The finding, recently published in Psychology and Marketing, did come as somewhat of a surprise to Dr. Tobias Langner, a business and marketing professor at the University of Wuppertal in Germany, and his team. The researchers asked study participants to examine a series of photos, including those of their romantic partners, a close friend and a brand they claimed to love (such as BMW and Adidas), while they measured both the participants’ subjective responses to the photos on a visual rating scale as well as their physiological arousal levels based on the sweatiness of their skin. 

The emotions we experience when we interact with our loved brands are as intensive as the emotions elicited by close friends.

Dr. Tobias Langner, business and marketing professor at the University of Wuppertal

Unsurprisingly, and fortunately for the species, the subjects demonstrated a greater amount of love for their significant other than their favorite brand. But it was different when it came to friends, where they reported more positive feelings in response to beloved brands and demonstrated a similar physiological response to photos of the brands and close friends. In other words, says Langner, the findings suggest “that the emotions we experience when we interact with our loved brands are as intensive as the emotions elicited by close friends.”

The study has its limitations, including a small sample size of participants who were recruited because they were in romantic and brand relationships, and the fact that the effect found was significant only with regard to the pictographic measure, and not the physiological one.  But the result still gives us an initial, and potentially disturbing, glimpse into just how far brands have penetrated the realm of interpersonal relationships

 

It’s a phenomenon that has already reached some surprising extremes. In his exploration of the modern branding industry, OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder, Lucas Conley tells the story of how high-end fashions like Louis Vuitton have become so popular among Japanese women that some have admitted to eschewing motherhood in order to make the acquisition of their beloved brand more attainable. Most of us would not go that far, but it’s generally the case that as our online social networks have expanded, our real-life network of close friends has collapsed — to an average of around two, according to one recent U.S. study. And most brands are only too happy to step in and fill that friendship void. 

The possibility that some of us feel as warmly toward our favorite brands as our closest friends does not surprise Conley. “What we must keep in mind as consumers is that there is a profit motive behind all of this,” he warns. “This is not a real friendship; this is a marketing-driven relationship.” 

But it’s a relationship that millions of us are quite content to embark on each day, sharing our lives with a friendly brand who shares our values and will never disagree with us. Sure, it’s a bit disconcerting, but as my good friend “❤Best Quotes ❤” once tweeted to me, “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” I adore her. She always knows just what to say to cheer me up.