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Russian Invasion of Ukraine?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.01.14

I have no idea what's going on, but it certainly seems worth discussion. Anyone who knows anything, comment.


 

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Timothy Brian Cole

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.01.14

Witt wonders: Does Stranded in Lubbock have anything to say about this?

Heebie's take: Has DNA testing been the most amazing revolution for criminal justice, or what? You can tell people all day long about their biases and faulty memories and how statistically there are going to be a distressing number of false convictions, and it's indefinite enough that everyone can shake you off. But then all of a sudden, DNA testing provides a right answer, and it's stark and unarguable, and most importantly: can be done retroactively on all these cases for the past forty years.

[When did it become a thing for stories to start with a big banner photo that occupies the whole screen? I kinda like it, but it seems like it wasn't around six months ago.]


 

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Varieties of Variousness

Posted by Ogged
on 02.28.14

--This song is almost too breathily lesbian even for me, but not quite! I like it. All five of you who will bother to listen to it will hate it. On the off chance that you don't, that's "Coming Up Crimson" by Love Over Gold, which is a collaboration between Pieta Brown, whose first album I like a whole lot, and whose subsequent albums I like pretty well, and Lucie Thorne, about whom I know that she's Australian.

(Note: I don't know whether either of them is gay. But who isn't, these days?)

--Anymore, when I get a chance to cook, I make mapo tofu (following a slightly modified Fuchsia Dunlop recipe (that's a great book)). I haven't had a chance to get into the city for the best ingredients, so I've been using some second rate broad bean chili sauce, and still loving the results. I was excited when Amazon started carrying the real real stuff, and made a batch yesterday. Have you all read that wonderful piece (if you click one link in this post...) where the guy takes three famous Chinese chefs to the French Laundry? Great story. In any case, we didn't hate it, but the real stuff is 2070mg of sodium per ounce, which means that it's roughly 7% sodium by weight. And mapo tofu requires a lot of broad bean sauce. It was...too much. Back to the knock-off, I think. Sorry, authenticity.

--Shopping for ingredients has made me nostalgic for Albuquerque, where we didn't live, but spent a lot of time. There's only one real international market, but that one has just about everything you'd ever need. That's indicative of about how we feel about the place, which oscillates from "hidden gem" to "kind of a shithole," while contemplating the exact same thing: it's so sunny! / will the sun ever stop beating down on us? -- look at the stark beauty of the landscape! / is there anything in this place other than dirt? -- there's just one international market! / there's just one international market. On most days, I incline to "hidden gem."


 

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Guest Post - Why does inequality harm economic growth?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.28.14

Nick S. writes: A nice example of a blog post that provides a straightforward and easy to follow description of a mildly complicated idea.

They find that high inequality is indeed associated with slower growth, but the mechanism for that slower growth comes in reduced growth spells. That is, it's not that countries with high inequality have steady growth rates that happen to be a little lower than countries with low inequality. Rather, they have shorter spells of economic expansion. In particular, the authors find that a 1-point increase in a country's GINI score (a measure of inequality) is associated with a decrease of about 7 percent in the length of its growth spells.
In other words, countries with high inequality simply can't maintain economic booms as long as countries with lower inequality. This is consistent with the idea that growth in these countries is driven partly by the rich loaning money to the middle class, which is obviously less sustainable than growth driven by an increase in middle-class wages. In high-inequality countries, growth is too dependent on financialization and leverage. When the merry-go-round stops, as it inevitably must, the boom times are over.

Heebie's take: Interesting! (I got into a very stupid FB discussion the other day, on why poor people shouldn't just be more ambitious and go back to school, etc, if they want to stop being poor.)


 

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My Little Pony Local Homeless Guy Update

Posted by Ogged
on 02.27.14

I asked him what he wanted today. Orange juice and vanilla wafers. The man likes vanilla wafers.

I also asked the manager whether it was true that he wasn't allowed to shop in the store. The manager said "no," although not quite in a way that made me think he couldn't possibly be lying. But he's on record, at least, and it's not unlikely that the homeless man told me that he couldn't shop there because he can't afford to shop there.

Finally, since two is a pattern, from the well-meaning but clueless file: a few weeks back, when it was frigid, a woman in fur (yes) said to the homeless man, "You should be inside." Today, a man said "Aren't you freezing?" I know, I know, they're trying to express sympathy, but come on, people, let's bring our sympathy A game next time.


 

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Secret fears

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.27.14

1. This is actually my secret fear:

Allowing learners to struggle will actually help them learn better, according to research on "productive failure" conducted by Manu Kapur, a researcher at the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education of Singapore. Kapur's investigations find that while the model adopted by many teachers and employers when introducing others to new knowledge--providing lots of structure and guidance early on, until the students or workers show that they can do it on their own--makes intuitive sense, it's not the best way to promote learning. Rather, it's better to let neophytes wrestle with the material on their own for a while, refraining from giving them any assistance at the start.

What I'm best at is providing an incredibly clear explanation, in a highly participatory way. The students concentrate and focus and stay right there with me...but it's really not the best learning environment. Designing class and course situations that foster struggling and hitting that sweet spot of frustration is much harder. And you go much more slowly through the material. And it's much harder to juggle a wide range of student ability.

2. I have a belief that Texas is not as full of very funny people as elsewhere, Austin excluded. On the one hand, I'm considered very funny here. On the other hand, I have an envious suspicion that I'm missing out on really funny people. (Comparisons are odious, Heebie.)

3. My dad's secret fear is this: that scientists will develop a pill that replicates exercise. He is very invested in his exercise-superiority, and if there were a pill, then all those people could get all the benefits that he gets with his mega-drive to exercise, without all the years of suffering that he's put in. He's kidding on the square.


 

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Always Be Doing Less

Posted by Ogged
on 02.26.14

There's probably a million-dollar book idea here, but for the low, low price of nothing, I'm going to share it with you. Under Megan's malign influence, I'd been doing deadlifts for about a year, but just before Christmas, I tried to do them without properly warming up (kids were sleeping, was trying to be very quiet, ok?) and...who the hell knows what--I screwed up my back something good, with the attendant excruciating pain and weakness in my leg. The pain is gone (thanks, physical therapy!), but I'm still limping like a (Vanilla) Wafer. Now here's the lesson I've learned: It's much much easier to lose weight when I'm not exercising. If I don't eat on a day when I've had a real workout, I'm on the road to killing and eating your children. If I don't eat on a day that I haven't exercised, no big deal. Being laid up for two months, with little more effort put into the diet than "eat just enough, and not much starch," I've lost twenty pounds. Some of that is muscle, but most of it isn't. The difference has been striking over the past couple of weeks, when I've been able to start exercising again. I'm so hungry! And it's way easier to eat an extra 300 hundred calories, than to burn them.

There are plenty of to-be-sures here: the body composition thing, the low-starch diet (but so many bananas!), the fact that consistent exercise means your body burns more energy at rest, the fact that there's probably a low-intensity exercise regimen that gets you some health benefits without kicking in the hunger, and on and on. But I'm pretty sure the basic point is sound: Want to lose weight? Don't exercise.

Quick googling and searching on Amazon doesn't it make it seem like this is received wisdom, or even some subculture's received wisdom. Maybe that's because I'm wrong, but look for the author of Don't Move A Muscle: A Paranoid Muslim's Weight Loss Secrets on your preferred stolen content channel.


 

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Village Services

Posted by Ogged
on 02.26.14

There's a neighborhood growshry diagonally kitten from the cater to us and usually the same homeless man selling papers outside. During the last cold spell, I chatted with him about where he goes at night, etc., and he mentioned that not only would the store not let him stand inside (understandable: it's not huge, and the entryway is small), but they wouldn't even let him shop there. I suppose that's legal, though it seems distinctly dickish. I told him to let me know what he needs when I'm going in, and I can pick it up for him. Last night, with the cold descending again, I said hello and walked past him, completely forgetting my offer. I remembered on the way out and asked him if he needed anything. He looked at me holding a bag, shopping done, and said, "Nah, that's alright." Put I pressed, and he said "Maybe some cookies." This big man, at least as old as I am, wanting cookies on a cold night--something so simple and reminiscent of my own kids--was a gut punch. "What kind of cookies?" "Vanilla wafers, if they have them." They did.

(I'm not sure what his story is. He's a classy guy, with affect that's a bit flat and conversation that's about half a beat behind where you'd expect. Maybe he's on meds for psychosis, maybe he's had a TBI; I'm not expert enough to tell. It probably goes without saying that this is all happening about three hundred yards from houses that sell for two million dollars. Sorry, brah, budget cuts. Hope you enjoy movie night in the park.)


 

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I need another word for "various"

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.26.14

1. Big fish are getting smaller. Just click through and look at the photos.

2. Has Alec Baldwin earned a longform piece? (Just because Shia Lebeouf is mentioned by Alec: Shia Lebeouf is an odd guy.)

3. I would link Miley singing Hey Ya, because it's beautiful and I listened to it a lot yesterday, but it got taken down, giving me a sad.

4. Oh, maybe Bitcoin?


 

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Gratitude

Posted by Ogged
on 02.25.14

Yesterday my older boy got his first stitches, and the only detail that matters is that he got the cut when his mom and grandma, not I, were watching him. While he was at the doctor, I made him a treat plate, with a little bowl of ice cream, and a little bowl of sorbet, and Mike & Ikes arranged in a star, and a little lollipop at the top. He came home, looked at the plate, and burst out crying, saying "I want gummies."

Christ, what an asshole.

But, of course, we live in Asshole Culture, and up to a point, being an asshole confers real benefits. This isn't about the ridiculous "How to get everything you want by being a complete prick" movement, but the things that people in this community seem to have trouble with: confidence, self-promotion, some sense of entitlement. We're far too tired to have a programmatic response to this tension (in this case, he was scolded) between raising a decent human being and raising someone to succeed in a culture where decency can be a hindrance, and of course much of what he'll be like will have little to do with us, but this question of how much to raise a kid in the dominant culture, and how much in conscious opposition to it, is always in the back of our minds.


 

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Bleg

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.25.14

I want to buy some new shoes, with a little bit of height, that are very comfortable, for my Hollywood adventure. All my heels are uncomfortable. What should I buy?


 

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Pseudoscience

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.24.14

Whole Foods is chock-full of quackery.

So, why do many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently? The most common liberal answer to that question isn't quite correct: namely, that creationists harm society in a way that homeopaths don't. I'm not saying that homeopathy is especially harmful; I'm saying that creationism may be relatively harmless. In isolation, unless you're a biologist, your thoughts on creation don't matter terribly much to your fellow citizens; and unless you're a physician, your reliance on Sacred Healing Food to cure all ills is your own business.
The danger is when these ideas get tied up with other, more politically muscular ideologies. Creationism often does, of course--that's when we should worry. But as vaccine skeptics start to prompt public health crises, and GMO opponents block projects that could save lives in the developing world, it's fair to ask how much we can disentangle Whole Foods' pseudoscientific wares from very real, very worrying antiscientific outbursts.

It's a good point.

It wasn't especially surprising that Bill Nye would go and debate Ken Ham; it would have been unusual had he, say, challenged executives at the biotech company Syngenta--which has seemingly been running a smear campaign against a Berkeley biologist--to a conversation about scientific integrity, or challenged Paleo Magazine's editors to a debate about archaeology.

via elsewhere


 

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Withholding clean water until you reprobates stop texting.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.24.14

For every ten minutes you can go without touching your phone, the sponsor will donate one day's worth of clean water to a very sad child. (In fact, water will gush from just above his brow line, making him happy.)

What? Why? What the fuck kind of incentive are we even angling for, here?

I mean, sure. Why don't I go sign up a whole bunch of landlines, and turn those frowns upside down?


 

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Various

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.24.14

Chris Y sends along: What does this say about national self-perception? Or, who would you prefer to fight for?

Oddly enough, I feel myself becoming an Estonian chauvinist...

J, Robot sends along: How Ultra-Conservative Utah Became An Unlikely Bastion Of Environmental Activism.

Heebie has been hanging on to: New insights into the mystery of autism: Could it be caused at birth by salt in the nerves?


 

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