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Birthday parties

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.11.15

Apparently birthday parties are no longer much of a thing once you reach kindergarten, in Heebieville. Hawaii has gotten exactly one invitation this year, and for her party today, she invited all 17 classmates and exactly two arrived. (A few days ago, we made sure our friends and their kids were coming, so that the party wouldn't be a total bust.)

The party, at the local gymnastics place, ended up being my favorite kid party to date. But I still think the classroom dynamics are weird. (A friend said their experience was similar.)


 

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Data

Posted by Ogged
on 04.11.15

There's a huge project to collect data on how disease affects people all over the world. Very cool report.


 

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Walter Scott

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.10.15

Posting from my phone, at a conference, so I'll be brief: I know it has come up in the comments some, but we should probably have a dedicated thread about the South Carolina shooting.


 

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In Which I Belabor A Point

Posted by Ogged
on 04.10.15

I missed the California water thread yesterday in which Halford was driven to aneurysm by the ignorance displayed by JRoth and me (in absentia). Because the internet is for pointless arguments, but not endless pointless arguments, I'll be brief. The sanguine view seems to be something like this:

There are two fundamental facts. 1) Urban water use is a small fraction of California's total use; on the order of one-fifth. 2) Urban economic activity is far more valuable to California than agriculture. Put 1 and 2 together and you have vile gross-out porn you'll realize that urban California effectively has massive water reserves that it can cash in or expropriate as needed.

This paper comes to much the same conclusion by modeling what might happen during a very long (72-year) "mega drought."

And that's all fine, in an Econ 101 sort of way, but there's some serious friction here. First, you have to assume (and the linked paper explicitly does) that the people in charge are going to make "efficient" decisions. But already we have proposed cutbacks for urban users with the inevitable reckoning for agriculture punted. Another example: in the model in the linked paper, even after 72 years of drought, desalination never makes economic sense. And yet billions are already being spent on it in San Diego and elsewhere.

Second, ag has legal dibs on a lot of water. It's true that who gets the water will ultimately be a question of money and political muscle, but farmers still have a lot of leverage that will make the process long and painful.

Third, water still needs to be moved from where it is to where it isn't. I confess I don't know much about the infrastructure details, but as I understand it, LA gets about 60% of its water from the Colorado river, which is itself drying up, and which Colorado is fixin' to claim more of. Replacing that water is possible, but not a matter of flipping a switch.

Finally, unknown unknowns, man. As the linked paper acknowledges, it's possible that an upcoming drought will be worse than the historical megadroughts that they used for their modeling. Second, California might yet get that huge earthquake which, by the states own projections, could cause serious damage to the water infrastructure; in that case, the groundwater reserves are the fallback, but as we've read recently, those are being depleted.

Ok, that wasn't very brief, but I confess I'm annoyed by the fiction that this is simple math, duh.

Now Megan will come along to tell me that I've made some other horrible errors, duh. When that happens, let's just remember that I beat Megan at arm-wrestling, ok?


 

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My Offer Is This

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.15

I want my Muslim brothers to try this and see how it goes. But even on general grounds, this is intolerable. We might make minor accommodations to people's religious beliefs in public spaces as a matter of interpersonal courtesy, but this is not only genuinely inconvenient, but also depends on particular beliefs about women (and men, and desire) that we have (mostly) rejected in this society, with very good reason.

Not to mention that your ticket entitles you to some services and accommodations, but not this. If you have a problem with that, flying a commercial airline probably isn't for you.


 

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Pick the Numbers In the Correct Order

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.09.15

I got 85% of the way through before time ran out. If you make a mistake, it ends.

Note: There game only has one single run, so if you re-take it, you'll be getting the numbers in the same order as before.


 

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Not Killing People

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.08.15

Bold move, NRA. At their upcoming national convention in Nashville:

A multilevel security plan went into works not long after Nashville was chosen as the convention destination. All guns on the convention floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification.

Gosh, that makes sense. How much hypocrisy can a hypocrite hype, if a hypocrite wypocrite wood?

Via JRoth, elsewhere


 

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Musings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.08.15

My family has recently had lengthy discussions over email of anti-semitism in the 1930s in the US (due to the recent family history drama). It's very detached from anything I've experienced.

One tangential thought I've had is that since maybe...the 60s? the 80s? being not-white gained a bit of pop-culture status. It's an asset in the world of bubblegum pop and culture aimed at the mainstream kids to be black. Being black carries the most coolth. Other minorities have more complex relationships to pop culture, but black people (men, especially) are seen as pop trend-setters.

I think that's a major reason that kids have such a hard time seeing racism - racism today is about economic and structural disadvantages, and those just aren't things that show up to a 20 year old the way Jay Z shows up to a 20 year old.

Now that I've written it out, it seems less than earth-shattering.

Also I had a really great conversation with my dentist, who wants you to know that he's not racist. He just thinks school district should be nice square blocks, and that if you try to make everything equal then the good kids don't get to grow because the bad kids get all the resources.


 

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Amazing

Posted by Ben
on 04.07.15

Flula and Turquoise Jeep have collaborated:


 

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Aborted abortions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.07.15

Abortion Denied: Consequences for Mother and Child is a really, really weird article. It makes all these points about the poor life outcomes of children born after a denied abortion. Which, fine, but it feels like the author is stopping just short of saying "SEE SHOULDN'T THESE KIDS HAVE BEEN ABORTED?!"

Maybe I'm just squeamish about humanizing aborted babies? or de-humanizing nearly-aborted babies? It feels like the article is a conservative fantasy piece about pro-choice people.

I don't know how you tackle the argument that it's good financially to give women access to abortions without sounding like you're trying to genetically engineer blond Hitler Youth, but this ain't it.


 

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Guest Post - Master Race

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.07.15

JP Stormcrow writes: This story of a black German women discovering that her grandfather was Amon Goeth (the villainous camp commander in Schindler's List) came out a few years back, but I first saw it in Haaretz just recently. Quite the tale with a lot of odd juxtapositions--such as her meeting Holocaust survivors when she worked at the Goethe Institute in Tel Aviv years before she learned of her background. It's a big wide world.

For folks who are interested here is an extended TV interview with her from a little over a year ago. She is very poised and well-spoken in responding to the interviewer's thoughtful and understated questions. So much like television over here. But she's cheating by not doing it in her native language.

Heebie's take: Wow, that's a much darker family surprise than we got.


 

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Good Question!

Posted by Ogged
on 04.07.15

The headline says it all. Unless there's a lot of inside baseball I don't know about (certainly possible) or he's lying about how much money is at stake (also possible) I just can't figure out the benefit for Tribe here. He says it's not a big part of his income, it's a really horrible cause to support, apparently he doesn't have the better of the argument, and it results in giving up his social standing as a liberal hero. I mean, as liberal hero law professors go, this guy is top of the heap. What's going on?


 

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Reconsidered

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.15

Anonymous artists in Brooklyn, I love you.


 

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Mental Health Days

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.06.15

Do you take a day off work here and there to putter about the house, get stuff done, be away from work and by yourself? How often do you do so?

Each semester I tell myself I will schedule one of these days, months ahead of time. I do, but then as it gets closer I lose perspective and decide that day has a crucial meeting or I can't let my students down by missing one more class. (There are inevitably classes missed due to sick kids here and there and conferences.)

Part of my ambivalence is that I putter about at home for large portions of summer vacation, which is really a luxurious option. So I feel like during the school year I should really just stick it out. But I also get super burnt out by this point in the year and feel a bit like I'm running on fumes.


 

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The UVA Rape Story

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.15

CJR's review of the Rolling Stone story is out, and it's long and the failures it notes are many and basic, but the short summary is this: the reporter believed and relied heavily on a source who had serious credibility issues; issues that weren't uncovered because the reporter didn't really try, and editors didn't really push, to contact the three friends to corroborate Jackie's story.

And while the editors manage to mix their incompetence with contrition, this, from Erdely, is kind of weird.

"In retrospect, I wish somebody had pushed me harder" about reaching out to the three for their versions, Erdely said. "I guess maybe I was surprised that nobody said, 'Why haven't you called them?' But nobody did, and I wasn't going to press that issue."

Her official statement about the review is better.

Also, I understand that those editors will probably not screw up like this ever again, so firing them seems beside the point, but doesn't justice demand they be flogged or something?


 

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Post-Katrina NOLA

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.05.15

1. Nick S writes: A good human interest piece about journalist Chris Rose. Interesting, and a dramatic story, even knowing nothing about him before reading it..

Rose's collection of post-Katrina Picayune columns, 1 Dead In Attic (Simon and Schuster), became a New York Times bestseller in 2007. Since then, New Orleans' news community has seemingly cast Rose aside. No journalism entity in town will hire him, he tells me, not even freelance. If they do answer his calls, they say he's too much of a risk. And so for all of 2014, the 53-year-old Rose was waiting tables to pay rent and feed his three kids.
Rose looks noticeably frailer, his curly hair thinner, since the public last saw him. He looks like what he is: a man who has fallen, and gotten up, and fallen again. He won his Pulitzer by writing about his intense personal struggles following Katrina. A newspaper columnist who had once been known for celebrity gossip, Rose's public persona was reborn. He used his column as catharsis, writing emotional, first-person accounts that spoke to--and represented--a suffering community.

2. I got into conversation with someone from New Orleans recently, who has worked in the school district before and after Katrina. I know very little about her, except that we have mutual smart, progressive friends.

I asked her about the shift towards charter schools - I think maybe 60-70% of NOLA schools are now charter schools, post-Katrina. She said that it's definitely been good for the district. Principals like it because they have control over their curriculum and can fire teachers, and that they finally have the power and means to respond to the needs of their school, as opposed to having everything dictated by the central office. Teachers like it because they can choose which schools they want to apply for - the alternative being sent to a school by the central office, with no say in the matter. Parents and administrators are happy because, pre-Katrina, they had ~20% of their students reading at grade level and now it's ~60% reading at grade level.

Obviously the lightning rod comment is "can fire teachers" and I wasn't going to specifically go toe-to-toe with her over unions and such. I assume teachers probably weren't unionized in Louisiana before Katrina, either.

I'm sure the things she's saying are true, but I'm sure there are also losers in the new situation - students still in the (now further impoverished) public schools, high needs students who charter schools aren't required to serve, teachers who get fired for undocumented reasons, and so on. I have no inherent trust of any particular charter school, and yet I also can't argue with what she's saying. It's hard for me to hold all of this in my mind in the same time and come to any grand conclusion.


 

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