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Roundup

Posted by Ogged
on 09.19.15

--There are Ahmed Mohammad truthers. They think it was all a set up by his dad to get publicity. Really.

--This Volkswagen story legitimately shocks me, not because I'm surprised a corporation would do something reprehensible, but that this corporation thought they could get away with doing this reprehensible thing. Surely the fines should be massive, and surely there's going to be a huge class action suit, and hopefully we'll even see some prosecutions. (Although the fact that they did do it makes me think they had reason to believe they could get away with it; so maybe others are doing it too.)

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of using software to detect when the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing. Only during such tests are the cars' full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act, the E.P.A. said.

--I am completely rap-ignorant, and I'm probably being suckered by the "authenticity" here, but this guy is amazing, (video) is he not? He goes by Alpoko Don, and his releases have been pretty standard, from what I can tell, but he's coming out with something more like the video in a couple of months.

Duh: Link to the rapper actually rapping updated. Worth a listen!


 

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Guest Post - Ezra and Ta-Nahesi

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.19.15

Nick S. writes: Ezra Klein interviews TNC about a just-published article (which I haven't read yet) and the conversation touches on several things which came up during the reading group.

Ezra Klein
Let me ask you to back up on one thing here. This is going to be a simple question, but it's something I thought was present in your article but not spelled out. You have all this deprivation and abuse going on here. Why does all this lead to crime?
Ta-Nehisi Coates
I had a mother and a father. Both college-educated. I saw way, way, way more violence than my social peers today who grew up in a relatively similar situation. And it's not hard to figure out why. When I start thinking about the neighborhood I grew up in, and the housing laws that formed that neighborhood just 10 years before I was born, and the crooked system my grandmother went through when she tried to buy a home, it becomes clear that I was living in a community that basically had resources extracted out of it. We don't really have an analogue for black communities in this country. There's nothing like it.
One of the misguided things that happens in this country is people take poor African Americans and compare them to Latino households or Asian households just by looking at the income. In the piece, we use this notion from [Harvard sociologist] Robert Sampson called "compound deprivation." Sampson really looks at poverty in a much broader way. He doesn't just look at salary. He looks at wealth, at educational facilities, at exposure to drug use, at the chance of moving out of that neighborhood, at all of that. And then he compares neighborhoods. And when he does that, he figures out there really is no community like the African-American community.
Black people don't just tend to be poorer than the rest of the country. Black communities tend to be poorer. Poor black people tend to live around other poor black people in a way that isn't true in other communities. If you take a poor black person and a poor white person and look at the neighborhood they live in, those neighborhoods are not interchangeable. [New York University sociologist] Patrick Sharkey has this study where he shows that the average African-American family bringing in $100,000 a year tends to live in a neighborhood that looks like the neighborhood a white family making $30,000 a year lives in. That's such a major difference.


[Emphasis mine] That seems like a partial answer to the question of why he has focuses so specifically on the African-American experience, rather than talking about class inequality more broadly; he does think the black experience is unique in ways that are significant and important to talk about.

As they say, read the whole thing, it's long and a very good interview.


 

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Kareem

Posted by Ogged
on 09.18.15

This profile of Kareem is good (I like Jay Caspian Kang, and it's solid work) but I remain a hopeless Brian Phillips fanboy. He makes many of the same points, but more concisely and artfully, and puts them in a context that I've wondered if he wonders about. It's exemplary writing.

Of course, Kareem has thought about this stuff, too.


 

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Science links

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.18.15

1. Early on, menstruation was given as a reason that women couldn't be astronauts. Also, from a 1971 NASA report:

"The question of direct sexual release on a long-duration space mission must be considered. Practical considerations (such as weight and expense) preclude men taking their wives on the first space flights. It is possible that a woman, qualified from a scientific viewpoint, might be persuaded to donate her time and energies for the sake of improving crew morale; however, such a situation might create interpersonal tensions far more dynamic than the sexual tensions it would release."

Oh you're hilarious.

More seriously, I wonder sometimes about menstruation when people are refuges or other awful, extreme situations.

2. Science! Microwaves!

3. Parthenogenesis!

The latter two links via E. Messily


 

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Meditation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.17.15

When people do scientific studies on meditation, do they ever actually tackle the methodology of meditation? I would like to know which parts are valuable and which parts are ritual. For example, you generally are supposed to sit still in a quiet spot. But why not go for a walk? Would a mindful walk achieve the same thing? Would it have to be a walk under sufficiently tranquil circumstances? Could you practice and thus achieve benefits?

Also, you're supposed to clear your mind of all thoughts, and then just observe it if you have another think coming. What about mental visuals, if you close your eyes? Presumably, if you're being mindful about quieting your brain, you should snuff out all visuals. But I've never heard anyone address it one way or another. If you amp up the visuals and just sort of have a spell of watching stuff in your brain, would that have the benefits that you'd get from quelling the visuals?

Or, what kind of biological state is it worthwhile or not worthwhile to meditate in? For example, if I'm too wide awake, I feel like it takes physical effort to keep my eyes closed, and that effort is distracting. If I'm feeling awful at work - tired and stressed - then meditating for 10 minutes makes me feel wonderful, but it's possible I'm actually dozing very lightly for 10 minutes, or getting benefits from borderline-dozing. Can someone study this stuff and get back to me?


 

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Your Debate Recap (In Three Tweets)

Posted by Ogged
on 09.17.15


 

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guest the post! ad blockers: great thing, or the greatest thing?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.17.15

Sifu Tweety writes: The new iOS that ships today now allows ad blockers. Since iOS is how (to a first approximation) everybody accesses the web right now, this has people who depend on (often shitty, third party) ads freaking out, and making arguments of the form "ad blockers are to online journalism as the boston strangler is to the woman alone" (cf.). Meanwhile, loading a reasonably short page on an ad-driven tech site means downloading more than 9MB of data (for reference, a 300+ comment unfogged thread is about 300k) and 22 separate tracking cookies from third parties.

So far I've only tried one of them (Marco Arment's Peace) but it's pretty darn sweet from a user perspective. Pages load far faster.


 

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The Greatest Heel Of All Time

Posted by Ogged
on 09.16.15

I've always been mostly amused by the hate for Tom Brady. Good-looking dude wins a lot and makes babies with supermodels: there will be haters. But now that he's thrown his support behind Trump, I'm outraged by Pete Carroll's goal line call.

It will be nice to root against someone wholeheartedly. Unless he wins again. That would hurt.


 

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Refugees

Posted by Ogged
on 09.16.15

Google is matching donations right now.


 

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Babies Are Wild Expensive

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.16.15

E. Messily sends in some baby advice from Kool A.D.


 

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Frats

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.16.15

I feel like one of the major problems with frats is the extreme age segregation. In a society, you should either get treated like a kid (ie without full freedoms), or you should get treated like an adult, and if you're an adult, you should be co-mingling with a full range of adults. I remember getting out of school, and realizing that people who are decades older than you expect you to treat them in a friendly, courteous, non-authority way. Being forced to be friendly acquaintances with regular adults does a lot to mellow young adults out, and possibly would prevent the frat mentality from getting so much momentum.

Maybe not. Plenty of people get in fatal brawls at regular old bars, around people of all ages. Why are people so violent?


 

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Peaches

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.16.15

These ladies seem like they'd be a lot of fun. Pretty dang NSFW.


 

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Guest Post - Carbs are Paleo

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.15.15

Clytaemnestra Stabby writes: As long as I'm generating content and sticking up for carbs, "Paleo People Were Making Flour 32,000 Years Ago."

Though admittedly "she's unwilling to speculate whether the outcome was a kind of flat oatcake or a gruel or porridge" is like, not a strong argument for carbs. Though I appreciate her unwillingness to speculate with such high stakes.

Heebie's take: Somehow, what has emerged through all the debate for me is a basic belief that excess sugar is the root of all dietary-related diseases, and (refined?) carbs should be categorized as a quasi-sugar. I can get out-scienced so fast it's not even funny when I try to read about this stuff, though. Everything sounds right!


 

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Hall of Fame

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.14.15

Who wants to cherish a finger wag? Via J, Robot.


 

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What shall we name the baby?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.14.15

If I were a rightwing nut, I think Combat would be a good baby boy name. If I had boy twins, maybe Combat and Cement. (That's see-mint, as opposed to the way I say it, s-ment.) They both sound sort of rural Texan.


 

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Ambush

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.14.15

This is so despicable.

When Borrego arrived at the [gynecologist] clinic last Thursday for her routine annual exam, staff told her they needed to update her file and, after she filled out some paperwork, they asked for an ID. Borrego, an undocumented immigrant who overstayed her visa some 12 years ago, handed staff a fake driver's license. Then she waited. Borrego's eldest daughter, who asked that her name not be published, says her mother was about to give up and leave when staff finally called her back into an examination room.
Minutes later, Borrego's daughter saw Harris County Sheriff's deputies march her mother out of the clinic. She says her 8-year-old sister started to cry when she saw the handcuffs.

It makes me absolutely irate.


 

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Let Us Hate

Posted by Ogged
on 09.13.15

I think we're well into the internet-shaming backlash, but some of these are just irresistible.


 

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ATM: pimp my job

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.13.15

Clytaemnestra Stabby writes: Creepily long time time lurker (like 12 years?) v rare commenter. I'd love to get on the mineshaft career advice transition bandwagon since it's started rolling. I mean, not to turn this into a career advice column but yes to do that. Here's what's what.

I'm at litigator at a big, pretty fancy law firm; I hate it less than some people hate it and do ok but not great (am a v good law lawyer but that's dif from being a v good law firm associate); it's not outside the realm of possibility that I'll be told to think about next steps outside the firm soon, and will tbh prob breathe a huge sigh of relief when that shoe finally drops. I've been looking for years, almost gotten a couple of things, didn't.

oh my god what next? The market is garbage but even if it weren't, where could I be useful and engaged? I went to law school after being a writer for a few years and figured I'd like the writing and research parts of law, the stuff the appellate folks do, and it turns out I don't really-I love the client facing stuff, love speaking authoritatively out of my ass and backing it up after the fact--I love the discrete, intellectually engaging problem solving not too encumbered by theory or ego. Love the collaborative work when it happens. Like the money. Like being a clever generalist. Like that no one gives a fuck where I actually am if work gets done and I answer emails at all hours. Like the adrenaline of e.g. trial prep. Hate the fact that the job is at base pretty useless and the preponderance of high-strung total dicks. Hate that I don't get to engage physical OBJECTS. Don't mind the hours or even the unpredictability. Hate the abusive hierarchy.

Have joint custody of a 6yo so limited--at least long term--to Babylon, and to making salary in which one can raise a kid and pay for depression ketamine infusions in Babylon. Still have law school loans but I don't really sweat those. Oh, I would be terrible at working for myself.

Do I:

1) double down on litigation ? Clerk in fed court outside of Babylon, leaving my kid for a year with hopes it'll be an in into some government job or white collar boutique?
2) med school or neuropsych? Appeals for a lot of reasons but huge huge gamble.
3) consulting? with mba? Without mba? With/without M.I.A.?
4) archeology/objects conservation?
5) too old for TV writing and not in LA but I would kill at that
6) some other law thing?
7) some other other thing?

-Clytie

Heebie's take: 12 years a lurker! welcome out! Have you considered elder care?


 

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