My first detection of a behavior detection officer!

So we’re all looking fairly grim as we go through the security line at the airport, but then waiting at a bend in the line is a pretty cute guy with a diamond earring and “TSA” all over his  uniform.  You know the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) people; they’re the ones who have brought misery to thousands and maybe millions of travelers coming in and out of US airports.

So not only is he cute and has a diamond earring, but he is very friendly and jokey!  How suspicious can you get!?!  As I went past, totally ignored by this warm sociable guy, I said “I work in cognitive science and I’m really interested in how you all are trained.”

“Look up behavior detection officer,” he said.  And so I did.  Here it  is, from their point of view.

USA Today had an article in November that details a number of concerns about the violation of privacy.  The bottom line is that the science of reading faces and behavior  is not well enough developed!  Hmmmm.  Sounds like a line for a grant application.

“We do not do profiling,” the guy said.  Alas, I didn’t have time to tell him about implicit biases.

“You’re Likable Enough, Gay People”

That’s the title to Frank Rich’s column in the NY Times.  And, omigod, a straight white guy gets  it!   The unacceptability of the Warren pick, that is.

Here are some snippets.  You can find plenty that criticize Obama for the choice; here are some mostly directed at  others:

The exhilaration of [Obama’s] decisive election victory and the deserved applause that has greeted his mostly glitch-free transition can’t entirely mask the tensions underneath. Before there is profound social change, there is always high anxiety. …

It’s a sign of the old establishment’s panic that the Rev. Richard Cizik, known for his leadership in addressing global warming, was pushed out of his executive post at the National Association of Evangelicals this month. Cizik’s sin was to tell Terry Gross of NPR that he was starting to shift in favor of civil unions for gay couples. …

Warren’s defamation of gay people illustrates why, as does our president-elect’s rationalization of it. When Obama defends Warren’s words by calling them an example of the “wide range of viewpoints” in a “diverse and noisy and opinionated” America, he is being too cute by half. He knows full well that a “viewpoint” defaming any minority group by linking it to sexual crimes like pedophilia is unacceptable. …

Since he’s not about to rescind the invitation, what happens next? For perspective, I asked Timothy McCarthy, a historian who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an unabashed Obama enthusiast who served on his campaign’s National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council. He responded via e-mail on Christmas Eve.

After noting that Warren’s role at the inauguration is, in the end, symbolic, McCarthy concluded that “it’s now time to move from symbol to substance.” This means Warren should “recant his previous statements about gays and lesbians, and start acting like a Christian.”

Recant his position?  Hey, being Warren, he’s denying that he ever said it.


Sunday cats: combating stereotypes edition

Some have worried that our Sunday cats reinforced stereotypes about “crazy cat ladies”. The Jender-Parents sent in some contributions of cats that are tougher to slot into that stereotype. amazing-white-tiger-under-water5 And to anyone who is put off by it, we say “Grr”. (By the way, we do still worry a bit about the concerns that were raised, and we’re still mulling them over.)