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09.21.03-09.27.03
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Design

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.13.16

Every semester, the same chart drives me crazy. It's the chart to determine your final exam schedule. The input of the chart is the meeting time of the class, and the output of the chart is the day and time of the final exam.

The way you use the chart is that you scan all the internal boxes for the one that says "MWF 10-11 am" or whatever your regular meeting time for your class is. When you find your match, you look up its row and column. The row tells you the day of the final exam, and the column tells you the start and end time.

Don't build a chart this way. I can't tell you how terrible a design it is.

Speaking of design, this guy really hates McMansions. McMansions are the Jonathan Franzen of architecture - we've hated them for so long that it's about time for you all to explain that they actually have some redeeming features. You troll, you.


 

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Re-tread Book Thread

Posted by Ogged
on 08.12.16

Holy hell, I finally finished Postwar, which I'm pretty sure is the longest book I've ever read; one of the advantages of train commuting. Now I'm reading Dispatches, about which let me be the first to say, whoa.

Also, my wife is really enjoying Lab Girl.

But today I ask you about Harry Potter. My older son, who is five, and who loves movies and stories of all sorts, is just enchanted by the Potter books (my wife is reading them to him). But someday, not too long from now, they'll run out. I remember a bunch of you saying "Pshaw, Potter, I'll show you a fantasy series!" So, what are some others he might enjoy? Not too dark, preferably. Although my wife does some real-time scrubbing as she reads, major plot points can't really be read around.


 

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Product Review

Posted by Ogged
on 08.12.16

Nearly ten years ago, I asked for advice about buying a messenger bag. I wound up buying "the blogger". Just last week I looked at my bag, and thought, damn, I bought that a long time ago, and it's my daily bag, and it looks brand friggin new. I don't know if they've changed their manufacturing in the meantime, but if not, one enthusiastic vote for Timbuk2 bags.


 

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Another day.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.12.16

Some of Trump's tweets come from an Android phone. Some come from an iPhone. When this guy did a text analysis, he determined what people had been suspecting: that the angry, racist, inflammatory negative tweets are coming from his personal phone, and the conciliatory, organizational, and upbeat ones are coming from staffers.

Overall, I am having trouble wrapping my head around the last few months of the election campaign. Some sort of seismic shift is going on.

One of you referenced this tweet at the other place, and I think it's exactly right:


 

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Janitor-off

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.11.16

Who is the better janitor, Tyler Gage or Will Hunting? Categories include:
1. Who is the better actual janitor?
2. Whose exceptional talent is more impressive with respect to janitoring?
3. Who looks more handsome while he does the thing he is exceptional at?
4. Who's better at being in a relationship while being an exceptional janitor?

For the record, I always thought "Good Will Hunting" was a seriously stupid name for the movie, and mentally I always think Goodwill hunting, an activity I rather enjoy. Also I haven't seen the other movie, and that did not detract from my enjoying the link.

via Jammies


 

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Who Likes Steamroom?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.11.16

 

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Radley Balko On The DOJ Report On The Baltimore Police Force

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.11.16

Everyone should read the DOJ report. Not exactly that it's shocking: shocking implies unexpected. But as a summary of how badly the Baltimore police treat residents of Baltimore, in the absence of any real reason to believe crimes are being committed, it's important.

Generally, anyone who thinks that the BLM movement and broader suspicion of police use of force against citizens are misguided should think about this sort of thing. If you work for an organization whose SOP is to terrorize and maltreat the people you're supposed to be protecting, you can't be surprised when they don't give you the benefit of the doubt.


 

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In Pittsburgh 8/23 and 8/24

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.11.16

With the kids, touring colleges. Tell me what tourist things I should do: Warhol Museum? Duquesne Incline? And anyone Pittsburgh local who wants to have dinner one of those nights with me and a couple of surly teenagers should.


 

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Drunken Ride-sharing

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.10.16

Uber doesn't seem to reduce drunk driving.


A new study released by the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that Uber's deployment in the nation's 100 most-populated metro areas has no association with traffic fatalities--not in aggregate, not those caused by drunk driving, and not during weekends or holidays.

The author, some girl named Kriston, goes into a couple theories offered by the researchers: drunk people aren't rational decision-makers, uber may not yet be big enough, uber may substitute for public transportation more than it substitutes for cars, and uber riders maybe aren't the type of people who drive drunk anyway.


 

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Guest Post - Politics of Sports Fans

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.10.16

Nick S. writes: Interesting!

My first thought is that I'm impressed by how many sports they included (and how much of an outlier the WNBA is). Secondly, if there was room for a third axis it would be interesting to see median income as well; I bet much of the differences are class differences. Finally I'm slightly surprised to see how popular college football is -- just slightly below the NFL and much bigger than the NBA or NASCAR

This appears to be the original source, but doesn't add anything of interest.

Heebie's take: I don't understand why the chart itself isn't embedding. (At least on preview.) great! Now I don't know why it's tiny.


 

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Wow

Posted by Ogged
on 08.09.16

Link


 

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How to Survive, Be Safe and Thrive at a Predominantly White Institution

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.09.16

I think I found this so powerful because:
1. it is in no way intended for me to be the audience, so it feels like I'm eavesdropping
2. the situation is one I'm very familiar with. (Heebie U is not predominantly white, but it's an institution with a lot of racist people in it by virtue of being in a state with a lot of racist people in it.)
3. the advice is...short. Yet probably comprehensive? What on earth is a young black student supposed to do besides these two things?


 

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Games

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.09.16

What should I be paying attention to, this Olympics?


 

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Guest Post - Jonathan Franzen

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.08.16

E. Messily writes: Jonathan Franzen has never dated a black woman, and he enunciates.

Did someone link this yet? I feel like they must have, but I missed it.

Heebie's take: I have never read anything by Franzen, which is becoming a source of pride. The interviewer does a good job of dryly poking him, though. It's hard to tell if the interviewer is deliberately needling Franzen, or if Franzen is such a brazenly obnoxious person that he elicits subtle dry aggression from normal people.

On a different topic, the following sentence (from a program at an awards event) pleased me immensely: Grasping the impact of his work is best achieved by imagining the counterfactual condition that would exist had he not creatively pursued his agenda. This sentence was applied to someone I never heard of.


 

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Guest Post - Friends

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.08.16

knecht writes: Seems like good unfogged fodder.

Heebie with the context: The article is, "Do your friends actually like you?" There's some hemming and hawing about different levels of friendship, but the basic question is whether or not you have close friends, and whether or not your friendships are reciprocated symmetrically. In other words, what about your friends? Are they going to let you down? Will they ever be around? Or will they turn their back on you?


 

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Deluge - Chapters 23 and 24

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.08.16

Parenthetical writes: CHAPTER 23: GENOA: THE FAILURE OF BRITISH HEGEMONY

Quick Take:

in 1921, it looked as though the Bolsheviks were on the edge of losing their reign in Russia. Seeing an opportunity, Lloyd-George devised a dashing plan to bring about a new liberal order in Europe, bringing both inflated Germany and famine-stricken Russia back into the fold. But by 1922, Lloyd-George had lost his position and Britain's fantasy of leading Europe - largely due to a lack of support from the US and France and an underestimation of Soviet Russia's commitment to challenging the status quo.

The Details:

Autumn of 1921 sees crisis in both Russia and Germany. The famine along the Volga threatened the lives of millions (and it is estimated to have taken the lives of six million). Meanwhile, the inflation crisis in Germany combined with the inability to quell national unrest over Silesia or to quell the right wing parties left Germany near yet another civil collapse. Both Russia and Germany looked abroad for help; in Brussels, the UK made help to Russia conditional on agreeing to negotiate payment of their war debt. But Hoover and the burgeoning grain fields of the US were happy to help, so long as nothing went through official channels and the State Department still did not have to recognise the Soviet Union officially.

Meanwhile, the UK attempted to deal with Germany's problems. Lloyd-George devised a complex scheme meant to simultaneously bring Russia back into the capitalist fold and allow Germany to once again participate in an industrial economy, allowing the nation to service its reparation debt and end inflation. (The sticking point here, was, of course, France.) Lloyd George hoped this would also improve his own political fortunes, allowing him to call for elections again that would allow the Liberal Party to shed the confines of a coalition party with the Conservatives. He designed his European 'fix' to happen just as the British negotiated the critical global naval agreement at the Washington Conference and the Gandhi, Irish, and Egyptian problems were dealt with abroad - he believes this would truly stabilise the empire and re-establish a global liberal order.

Thus in January 1922, the Cannes Conference of the Supreme Allied Council met, laying out a plan that dictated the terms of foreign investment in European states, which they hoped would neuter any communist threat. They called for another summit, this time in Genoa, to carry out the rest of Lloyd George's scheme. Germany was delighted, but the Americans had no intention of supporting the plan and refused their invitation on the grounds that they would not participate in direct talks with the Soviets. France's Poincaré makes France's attendance at the conference conditional to Britain accepting a 30 year military alliance against Germany, which Lloyd George could not agree to because of the opposition to any foreign military entanglements among his own Liberals and the Labour Party. Meanwhile, Germany agrees to punishing policies enforced by the Reparations Commission (raising taxes, raising the price of coal, and cutting food subsidies) to delay having to pay reparations, but this immediately leads to a huge price rise for food and the slide into hyperinflation (although the true lows would wait until 1923). In true crisis, they once again appeal to the US, only to have Washington decide the best thing they can do is stay out of it and force the European powers to sort it out among themselves.

Britain took the lead at the Genoa Conference, with Italy (quickly slipping farther into Fascism) proving a poor substitute for France at the negotiating table. The Japanese had no real interest in the conference, the Germans were resentful, and the Bolsheviks refused to play ball. Indeed, they subverted the entire conference, inviting Germany (led by Foreign Minister Rathenau) to separate talks in their own villa. Within one day, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Rapallo Treaty. 'Lloyd-George's bold initiative, rather than producing a Europe-wide security order, had opened the door to a treaty of mutual recognition and cooperation between the two pariahs.' This was a 'terrifying' prospect for France and disaster for Lloyd-George, who had underestimated the 'forces committed to disrupting the post-war status quo.' All of Lenin's moves - accepting help from the US, for instance - were not a sign that they yearned for the pre-war order or were near collapse, but that they were willing to do anything to survive. Germany allowed itself the fantasy of a coalition of pariahs, when all Lloyd-George had needed was a recommitment to the Versailles process - a dangerous sign of resistance. And then, in a move that seemed to risk civil war and certainly led to economic chaos, a right wing hit squad killed Rathenau as demonstrators took to the streets. The mark slid further against the dollar. Lloyd-George's attempts to control Europe were over.

Meanwhile meanwhile, things were going to pot in Turkey. The Greeks had no chance of beating Ataturk, which was by now utterly clear. France and the UK both tried to negotiate their way out of the confrontation, but Ataturk refused compromise. Entente - really, British - forces found themselves actively facing the Turkish army chasing the Greeks. London felt they could not withdraw and save face, even though they were utterly isolated (even within the Empire) - but fortunately, an armistice was negotiated on the ground. This, combined with the Genoa Conference, killed Lloyd-George's career. The Tories took over, and finally negotiated a settlement of its war debts with Washington. While bitterly resented, it 'was considerably more generous' than what had originally been sought by the US and seemed to confirm a new period of Anglo-American alliance, albeit one where the Americans were in the driver's seat.

CHAPTER 24: EUROPE ON THE BRINK


Quick Take:

1922-1923 saw the French occupation of the Ruhr, Mussolini's attempted take over of Corfu, the complete collapse of the German economy and Hitler's attempt at rising to power in Bavaria, and numerous other crises. (Is there a year without crises right now? It seems not.) How did Europe pull back from this precipice? The quick and dirty answer is American money (backed by British diplomacy and French acquiescence) in the form of the Dawes Act, which represented the way of the true new world order - one ruled by America and 'the investing public, for whom the bankers, as financial advisors, were merely the spokesmen.'

The Details:

With Poincaré facing the repayment of $3.5 billion to the US, France was ready to use violence to enforce the reparation settlement of Versailles. Although they attempted to raise support in the US and UK, France unilaterally invaded the Ruhr in January of 1923. German civilians responded with resistance, and government in Berlin backed their effort, with immediately disastrous effects on the economy. By August, the mark was worth a million to the dollar, and this hyperinflation created economic paralysis. Germany appealed to the Americans and the British, with America loathe to intervene and Britain's new Tory government focusing inward.

(On top of this, in late August Italy's Fascist government over-reacted to a minor kerfuffle in Greece (Italian general and staff murdered by bandits) by bombing and occupying Corfu. This, at least, kicked the English into action, and through the League of Nations they slapped Mussolini down and signified world disapproval of the action (although they did not go so far as to blockade Italy). This action seems to have galvanised everyone into action on the German situation, as well.)

August saw the crisis in Germany deepen. Gustav Streesmann took office as the new chancellor, and with him came a new commitment to attempting to lure back American support - he believed 'Germany's only realistic policy was to accommodate itself to American hegemony and to seek a place for itself as a valued market and investment vehicle for American capital.' But while France was still engaged in the Ruhr, America would not act. Finally in September, Berlin stopped backing the resistance and sought to meet French demands. Poincaré, under the influence of Jacques Bainville, began to seriously consider the idea of 'founding European security on the disintegration of Germany.' But before France could really act on this idea, Germany nearly swerved there themselves, seeing the Soviet-backed Communists taking over Saxony and Hitler's nascent National Socialists rising in Bavaria, ready to rumble with the Communists. Streesmann stood his ground, and Hitler's insurgency in Bavaria collapsed. Simultaneously, politicians in Western Germany sought to appease the French and rebuild the economy by making coal deliveries direct from the Ruhr to France, breaking Prussia's hegemony over modern German.

By the fall of 1923, France was victorious, Germany utterly prostate, and both America and the UK realised they had to intervene or allow France to entirely dictate the future. Poincaré certainly had the chance to dismantle Germany and take what France wanted, but 'it was clear that any open attack on German sovereignty would end France's hope of building a new alliance with Britain and the United States.' Thus France facilitated the formation of an American commission to evaluate Germany's economy and make recommendations. Thus, in early 1924, the Dawes plan was worked out, a relatively benign response to Germany's state of utter capitulations. By stretching out payments to the 1980s, they lightened the reparations load without changing the total amount, and authorised Germany to begin receiving American credit, yet again.

Britain supported the plan, and France - who had been going through their own economic troubles - agreed to pull out of the Ruhr in exchange for a substantial influx of British and American money. In this new period of relative laxness towards Germany, a new leader, Edouard Herriot of the left Radicals, ousted Poincaré. The Dawes act allowed the American government to fade into the background by putting private investors and banks into the forefront with their massive loan to Germany. There was a power struggle, briefly, between the French and the Americans regarding who would be paid first in the event of a German default, with America, unsurprisingly, winning. Britain joined in to support the plan, the radical Labour government ironically working with conservative Washington. The German parliament almost did not accept the deal, but ultimately, Streesmann prevailed. Finally, at long last, a peace prevailed in Europe - and it was one with no victors.

Author's note: My apologies if anything is particularly garbled; I did not have a great deal of time to edit this thing!


 

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