I've read so much blather about The New Republic's shake-up that I'm just going to skip the links and ask a simple question: in the last thirty years, what are its five best pieces of political writing?
The debunking might have been stupid, but it was pointing in the right direction. Fucking hell.
Well, Jackie and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, you just ratfucked, if I may, every woman who will report a rape.
I enjoyed this article on the real abducted Sally Horner, who in many ways served as inspiration for Nabakov in Lolita. Unsurprisingly, Sally's tale is sad in many ways, and chock-full of mid-century Americana in others.
If you don't understand physics, it's probably because we live in the matrix. I personally don't understand physics, but I thought it'd be fun to watch Essear sputter.
Chris Y writes: I know this isn't the American university system, so most of you have more urgent worries. But it's coming your way, I strongly fear.
Also it needs as much publicity as possible.
Heebie's take: Basically the link describes British research universities as demanding flashy breakthroughs at the expense of all other more plodding, (but also effective) forms of research, to the point where it led to the firing and suicide of Grimm.
Drum notes that crime in NYC has continued to go down even after massive reductions in the stop-and-frisk program to bring it into compliance with last year's settlement. Possibly because the drop in crime is driven by something other than aggressive policing. Could it be
Generally, the public belief that street crime is a huge horrifying problem seems to me to drive a lot of pathological behavior. That's where public support for aggressive policing tactics comes from; that's what was driving that maniac Zimmerman. I was recently in a conversation with an acquaintance (graduate degrees! Not a complete idiot in any simple sense!) who was talking about how it's not safe to let a twelve year old walk around NYC unsupervised these days, because it's a different world. Not like it was when she was twelve, and her parents let her ride in from Long Island on the LIRR and take a couple of buses by herself to visit an aunt. She was twelve in nineteen-goddamnit-seventy-two, when crime was as bad in NYC as it's ever been, and much much worse than it is now.
Is there any way to make people accept that street crime really is very low these days, and we can relax a little? Calm policing down some, let our kids play outside, and worry about other problems?
No indictment in the Eric Garner case. I think this is right. My sense is that we're pretty close to major riots in the big cities--this stuff is getting so much coverage, and the right-wing has basically gone unreconstructed racist, and it's just a matter of time before another cop, following procedure and the law, murders another unarmed black guy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Aramark have been using homeless people to staff concession stands, unpaid, in tandem with some horrible charity called New Beginnings. The charity provides food and housing, while confiscating the workers Social Security checks, under the guise of "work-therapy". I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but something about this doesn't seem quite right.
I'll be in San Diego in a few weeks, and the cousin I'll be visiting is trying to sell me on the place. Dude, you're running out of water, I say. Part of me, like most people, finds that too unimaginable to be true--there are smart people thinking about the problem, and conservation and some new technologies, maybe with some gradual depopulation, will take care of it. But part of me thinks, no, it might be unimaginable, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
"It would cost a bloody fortune to take out a whole citrus grove," said Bibba Winn, 80, who has lived here for 18 years. "And oak trees? I can't even conceive of planting that many. I'm not quite ready for the Black Forest."
She's not ready. She's not alone.
"We like that rural look around here," Mr. Schaefer, 79, said. "Rancho Santa Fe was first started as an agricultural community. There are lots of big homes with lemon groves. We enjoy it."
The reporter is clearly enjoying this shooting gallery, but it did make me think: we can't vote for the first 18 years of our lives, let's go with nice symmetry and take away the vote for the last 18. At a current life expectancy of 78, that would mean no voting after 60. That's old enough that people will consider their old age when voting in their fifties (and will consider their parents when voting in their 30s and 40s), but will devalue the votes of the olds, as is, honestly, appropriate. As a compromise measure, maybe we could say no voting after you've exceeded the average life expectancy. I say we arm-wrestle for it.
Slate rounds up the "best lines" of 2014. A few are pretty good. Surely we can do better by "crowdsourcing" it. Yes, it has to be from 2014, or Will is going to come in quoting Dylan or Tennyson or something.
I realize this is of interest to no one else, but the juxtaposition of the Ebola-hunting Sabeti lab, and the pursuit of notorious Nazi Alois Brunner on the NY Times front page did make me think, you know, Sabeti's dad tortured and killed a fair number of Iran's best and brightest, and is now living comfortably in Florida. Worth a mention somewhere? Naahh.
The cop is a total square, but the black dude addresses him human to human, and the cop doesn't react by tasing or shooting him, so I think we have to call him a keeper. Whoever made the call, on the other hand.... Anyway, not that anyone here is confused, and this is small potatoes, but let no one wonder at the roots of black rage.
This map shows what each state is most thankful for (according to FB statuses):
I love the contrast between earnest states and superficial states. I think Ohio/Alaska is the funniest.
Like everyone else in my demographic, I'm listening to Serial. If you've remained unaware even longer than I did (I found it a week or so ago, and have been catching up), it's a This American Life spinoff, doing long-form stories over multiple episodes. If TAL annoys you, you'll hate it, it's Sarah Koenig talking in NPR voice for an hour or so at a stretch. I like that kind of thing and I'm enjoying it a lot.
The first story, though, is Koenig re-investigating a 1999 murder, trying to figure out if the guy in prison for it, Adnan Syed, should be there. He's a Pakistani-American guy who was a late teen at the time of the murder, and the victim was his ex-girlfriend. And what really pops out for me is that, while I wouldn't say the case as presented in the podcast definitely clears him, the evidence that they convicted him on was astonishingly weak if you're thinking that it had to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The state had one witness who said he did it, Jay, a friend of Syed's, supported by cell-phone logs that were consistent with Jay's story in some regards but very inconsistent in others. That's it. No physical evidence at all. No motive beyond the fact that the victim was Syed's ex (they'd stayed friendly). Syed had an alibi, albeit a weak one (track coach thinks he was probably at practice at the time, but can't be sure).
If that's enough to establish guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt", it's really not a very high standard in practice, or at least in Maryland. What are juries thinking it means? I could easily see convicting someone by a preponderance of the evidence on a case like that -- I'm not sure I would, but I wouldn't look funny at someone who did -- but "beyond a reasonable doubt"?
I saw the picture below here, and before seeing the woman's nationality, she seemed so unmistakably from that country that I wasn't one bit surprised to find out I was right.
My dad and I like discussing which features are quintessentially representative of a given country or group of people. My mom regards this conversation as both inscrutable and a little distasteful. I agree that it's a bit rude to over-generalize and essentialize a group of people from the outside, but if you can get over the rude, it's still kind of fun.
(Her country of origin is under the jump.)
She's from Brighton, England, and makes exquisite paper flowers.