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The awful truth

Posted by Ben
on 12.11.15

It's really striking what, of the culinary exotica noted here, remains to my reading eye strange and foreign (spleens, mostly), what now seems unusual but not unheard of (guinea pig), what is now known to be usual if not actually enjoyed by me (chicken and duck feet), and what is primarily surprising to see noted with surprise in 1999 (surely in New York the eating of tongue was well attested in delis? Was squid ink pasta truly unknown to the readers of the Times?).


 

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Niels Bohr's horseshoe

Posted by Ben
on 12.11.15

Apparently, "it is only thanks to Christ's death and resurrection that all people have the chance of salvation, but … Jews can benefit from this without believing in him."


 

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Loser

Posted by Ogged
on 12.11.15

This poll is the prophylactic to reading this piece on how Trump supporters react to uncomplimentary information about him. (I'll try to keep telling myself: this is the same country that elected Barack Hussein.) And this Bowden story about writing a profile on Trump (who he clearly loathes) twenty years ago is hilarious.

He was like one of those characters in an 18th-century comedy meant to embody a particular flavor of human folly. Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression.


 

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Let Us Shoot

Posted by Ogged
on 12.11.15

Don't worry, basketball non-watchers, the videos will get you up to speed. The three-pointer has changed the NBA game, but I think Steph Curry's range is what's going to make the game of Jordan and Magic and Bird look like short shorts and set shots compared to the game of ten or fifteen years from now. Being able to shoot consistently from thirty feet (Curry is shooting 42 percent on shots beyond 28 feet (how is this even possible?)) changes the spacing on the floor so dramatically that once every team has a couple of bombers*, the game is going to be a fast-forward of cuts, zip passes, and bombs. As crazy as it seems (although we're seeing some this already!) insofar as taller guys are slower guys, height could become a liability in basketball.

*Assuming Curry isn't a once-in-a-lifetime inimitable freak, which he might be, but almost every time, once a player demonstrates that something can be done, future generations make it routine.

Videos below the fold. The first is a three-minute clip of highlights from a game in which Curry was having one of his insane quarters, with a little background about him (his dad was a great NBA shooter). The second video is a two-minute geekout about how very small the margin of error is on long shots, and how Curry manages to be so consistent.


 

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Not Sorry

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.11.15

Generally we all hate micro-policing of people's word choice, but I buy this one. It is actually an improvement that should be widely adopted.


 

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Race to the Degrees

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.10.15

Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty. Not that anyone here needs convincing, but this is a very nice article about how, since 1991, that has been the poverty solution that was implemented - since poverty correlates with lack of education, then we should get everyone more education. And the policy has been successful, insofar as the level of attainment of degrees has increased across the board. And yet.

The article is really well-organized, with lots of data and charts, and a nice analysis at the end:

3. Why It Doesn't Work
There are a number reasons why aggregate education gains do not necessarily translate into aggregate poverty declines. I will discuss three here.
First, handing out more high school and college diplomas doesn't magically create more good-paying jobs. When more credentials are chasing the same number of decent jobs, what you get is credential inflation: jobs that used to require a high school degree now require a college degree; jobs that used to require an Associate degee now require a Bachelor's degreee; and so on. Obviously the supply of good-paying jobs is not a fixed constant of nature, but there is no reason to think that the supply will automatically go up to match the number of people with the necessary credentials. The types of jobs available in a society, and their level of compensation, is determined by many factors (demand, worker power, technology, global competition, natural resources, etc.) that have little to do with the number of degrees that society is minting.
Second, having more education does not necessarily increase people's productive capacity. Those in the know will identify this as the old "signaling v. human capital" point. The short of it is that, even if jobs did automatically pop into existence to match people's level of productive ability, it's not at all clear that college education necessarily does a lot to increase people's productive ability. Instead, what college education does (at least in part) is signal to employers that you have a certain level of relative "quality" over others in society. As more people get degrees, the value of this signal declines, but more importantly, the point is that the degree was always a signal, not a productivity enhancer.
Third, poverty is really about non-working people: children, elderly, disabled, students, carers, and the unemployed. The big things that cause poverty for adults over the age of 25 in a low-welfare capitalist society--old-age, disability, unemployment, having children--do not go away just because you have a better degree. These poverty-inducing circumstances are social constants that could strike anyone of us and do strike many of us at some point in our lives. To the extent that education does nothing to provide better income support for those who do find themselves in these vulnerable situations, its effect on overall poverty levels will always be weak, or, as with the US in the last 23 years, totally nonexistent.

It's the type of article you want to have on hand if you're arguing with some acquaintance's second-cousin on Facebook.


 

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Good Heft, Nice Balance

Posted by Ogged
on 12.09.15

Matt Haughey works for Slack and created MetaFilter, but surely replacing guns with dildos in pictures of Republicans is his greatest work.


 

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Cockroaches

Posted by Ogged
on 12.09.15

It doesn't seem like there's a "culturally Muslim" category to which a non-believer like me might belong (and I probably wouldn't fit in it anyway) but I admit I found this--the casualness of it, and the acceptability--upsetting.


 

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Hey, Heebie

Posted by Ogged
on 12.08.15

Hope it's all good.


 

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Sets

Posted by Ogged
on 12.08.15

A short, informative piece about what it means to belong to a "gang" in Chicago. I did not know that!


 

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Not The Drones You're Looking For

Posted by Ogged
on 12.08.15

Much respect to these guys.

Former Air Force airmen are speaking out against America's use of drone warfare, calling the military drone program "morally outrageous" and "one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."

Much more at the link and also here and here. It's nice that some people recognize that killing innocents is wrong, even if our president doesn't.


 

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Guest Post - A Cheering Link

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.07.15

Dairy Queen writes:
1. I asked the kid what was going on, plot wise. He replied they were en route to the north. Right, say I, clearly they are en route somewhere. But why the dancing? He looks at me like I'm a complete idiot, that's a *long* train journey, too long to go without dancing! Given his complete inability to accomplish breakfast without dancing, I am forced to concede no other reason is necessary.

2. My submittal of this link is not an endorsement of sleeping in eye makeup, it's really bad for the skin. She is performing on a closed track under tightly controlled conditions. Don't try this at home.

Heebie's take: They seem like a nice couple.


 

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Redistricting

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.07.15

This is a nice rundown of all the redistricting battles in the US right now. It's worth clicking through just for the first graphic, which draws Florida's 5th district for you as you scroll.


 

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Ocho Crazy Nights

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.06.15

Tonight is the first night of Taco Cabanakkah, and of course Smearcase smears the good word around about Dolly Partonakkah. I have a desire for all eight nights to be fleshed out into themes. Ideas?


 

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Close Reading Lives

Posted by Ogged
on 12.06.15

I haven't even seen all the Star Wars movies, but I love the Jar Jar as Sith Lord theory.


 

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Guest Post - Truvada

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.06.15

Bostoniangirl writes: I have mixed feelings about this article that I haven't teased out in my mind yet. I do know that I'm bothered by the idea that a pill to prevent HIV infection necessarily means that everyone can just forgo condoms. He seems entirely too sanguine when he says that other STIs are not fatal. Drug-resistant syphilllis is for real.

Heebie's take: I think the comparison with birth control is apt:

To frame it another way, the difference between giving men condoms and giving them PrEP is the difference between giving women condoms and giving them hormonal birth control--contraceptive pills and IUDs aren't considered contentious on the basis that women using them might get gonorrhea. Like birth control, PrEP empowers the receptive partner. It also recognizes the vulnerability of the human condition.

It seems paternalistic to withhold a partial fix just because you don't trust the user to wrestle fully with the complexity of the situation.


 

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