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Jesus Christ, Barack, What Is Wrong With You?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.23.17

So, Obama and the CIA knew for sure that Russia was trying to sabotage US voting systems in August last year. But making a big public fuss about it would have looked political and would have upset people, so they kept it quiet. Hillary was definitely going to win, so NBD.

I don't really know what to say.


 

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Citizenship

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.23.17

At one point, I decided that age 25 was the age of accountability - it's the bright line in the sand where, after that age, if you are massively uninformed on basic parts of big political issues, you are culpable.

Inspired by the discussion starting at roughly 111 with Just Plain Jane in the Fuck This thread, I have a question which is a variation on the age of accountability notion:

Suppose you have a UMC white flight suburban family, demographically the kind that is ruining the nation. They live in a mostly Republican district known for its good schools. This particular family is right in the grayest area between maliciously ignorant and actually evil. They are uninformed and profess not to like politics, and so they absorb bon mots from the Republicans around them, and vote based on that. (And they probably genuinely do not like politics: it causes them cognitive dissonance, they have to entertain the idea that their loved ones are horrible people, there is a lot of confusing, contradictory information out there which is hard to navigate, so they passively decide that it's easiest just to sit "politics" out.)

My question: what is the bare minimum amount of political self-education that these adults ought to be expected to do, in order to pass into "acceptably minimally informed" realm? If it's given and immutable that they will continue to hate politics, what is the news-equivalent of eating three servings of vegetables and getting twenty minutes of exercise a day?


 

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A theory

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.23.17

There's one kind of maturity where you consider other people's feelings and think of them as three dimensional people with independent minds and full rights and responsibilities. I'm not talking about that kind of maturity.

There's another kind of maturity (which overlaps with the first, to be sure) which I think is borne of exhaustion. That finally, you find yourself in drudgery and tiredness, and the cost-benefit analysis of making messes starts to kick in - it's really worth that ounce of prevention to avoid the mess. And you start pausing and assessing the world through, "where is it useful to stop and do things more smartly to save myself a lot of work?" Every little glitch seems to reverberate and cause a cascade of consequences that cost you time and energy, and you're already tired, so it's really fucking worth it to make sure those glitches don't happen.

Here's an example: fifteen years ago, if I hit a dog with my car, I'd be horrified and maybe not sure what to do, but say I decided to wrap it up in a towel and drive it to a nearby vet. That's the first maturity. Today, if I were to hit a dog, I'd have the first kind, but I'd also have the, "Fuuuuuck. This is going to start a cascade of complications and it's all going to suck, from kid care to work juggling and at the end of the day, I'm going to get less sleep and it's going to reverberate throughout my week." That's the driver of the second kind. "I'm always tired and I don't want to go out drinking because I don't have any buffer over the next week to absorb the physical consequences and the last time I did it anyway, it sucked a lot."

I'm not saying this is moral maturity, just that it's a driver that gets people to start thinking through things more proactively.

ALSO. I'm thinking more on a general population level, not you maturity-savants here.


 

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Friday WTFuckery

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.23.17

This seems like a good week to bring this back. My submission for daily mundane horror might be the North Carolina case affirming that women, at least in NC, can't withdraw consent once sex has started. Particularly because the woman in this case says something like, "I consented, but then once it turned violent, I didn't want to have sex anymore." But the Philando Castile case continues to haunt, as well. Or the ratfucking we're about to get from the Senate health care bill. What's on your mind?


 

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Udo of Aachen

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.22.17

I was recently reminded of this blog post, which was written in 1999. So I don't know how widely it spread - maybe you all already know about this. It's the story of a monk who may have discovered the Mandelbrot Set.

Until recently, Udo of Aachen occupied a sideline in the history books as a minor poet, copyist and theological essayist. Even his birth and death dates of this mediaeval Benedictine monk are unknown, though he probably lived from around 1200-1270 AD. [*1] A new study of his work, however, has led to his recognition as an outstandingly original and talented mathematician.

...

The first clue to Udo's undiscovered skills was found by mathematician Bob Schipke, a retired professor of combinatorics. On a holiday visit to Aachen cathedral, the burial place of Charlemagne, Schipke saw something that amazed him. In a tiny nativity scene illuminating the manuscript of a 13th century carol, O froehliche Weihnacht, he noticed that the Star of Bethlehem looked odd. On examining it in detail, he saw that the gilded image seemed to be a representation of the Mandelbrot set, one of the icons of the computer age. [*3]

It's one of my fondest examples of a springtime tradition.


 

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I say Toranto, you say Torahnto

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.17

A friend posted a thing on FB that went, "Iran is pronounced ee-run, not eye-ran, and Sean Spicer is a rude asshole." First, Sean Spicer is a rude asshole. Second, I'm happy to pronounce foreign words however the person wants. Ee-rahn it is. (The meme did say ee-run, not ee-rahn, but we all have limits.)

But anyway, what are the rules for when a country name is considered to be a different word in different languages, and when you should follow the pronunciation of the country itself? Is it only when there are two distinct spellings, ie Deutschland and Germany? What about when you're switching alphabets?


 

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Fuck this, fuck that, fuck those in particular.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.17

Fuck David Brooks. (That link is not to Brooks but the great takedown in GQ.) Fuck McMegan. Fuck all of the Republican voters in GA-6 and SC-05 who have been conscious and breathing for the past six months and still cast Republican votes.

Fuck this animated gif that I couldn't get to embed. Everything wears down over time.

"There comes that phase in life when, tired of losing, you decide to stop losing, then continue losing. Then you decide to really stop losing, and continue losing. The losing goes on and on so long you begin to watch with curiosity, wondering how low you can go." - George Saunders

(h/t one of our esteemed, elsewhere, for the Saunders quote)


 

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Meet up! LA

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.17

Thorn writes: I'll be in Los Angeles to visit my hipster younger brother and maybe more importantly to have child-free time for myself beginning the morning of Monday, July 10 to evening that Thursday, July 13. Monday night my brother wants me to go to his favorite drag show (friends welcome, I'm sure) but Tuesday and Wednesday nights are free so far. Might I be able to interest people in some sort of meetup? He's in Highland Park, though I don't think I'll be staying with him or not much, and he works here and here if we want to horrify his coworkers by making them feed/water his friends, but I really have little in the way of plans or preferences and would just like to see people and have a good time before I take a redeye and then drive a few hours into the countryside to get my older two from girl scout camp and get back to regular life.


 

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Ossoff and Goofoff

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.17

Here's we can have a Georgia Special Election Thread because even though I made up my mind to be pessimistic about all politics forever, I still have like a hope that small things will tip our way and turn into larger things.

Barring that, just an open thread to say whatever's on your mind. Complain here.


 

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Efficiency Gap

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.17

The Wisconsin gerrymandering case is up before the Supreme Court, so I thought I'd tell you about the efficiency gap. This is off the top of my head. That said, Fair Vote is a good website for this stuff.

The Efficiency Gap is the Wisconsin standard that proclaims to answer Justice So-n-so's famous lament that gerrymandering was just too hard to quantify. The efficiency gap measures wasted votes by each party. There are two ways to waste votes:
1. The winner wastes some votes by winning by more votes than they needed to.
2. The loser wastes all votes in a losing district.

So if the vote tally in a district is 85 to 65, then the winner has wasted 20 votes and the loser wasted 65 votes. If the vote tally in a district is 85 to 25, the winner wasted 60 votes and the loser wasted 25 votes. You add up all the wasted votes by district and compare statewide totals.

The advantages of this are:
1. it's super easy to understand.
2. it captures two of the main ways that votes can be wasted: cracking and packing. "Cracking" is maximizing the loser's wasted votes, and "packing" is maximizing the winner's wasted votes.

There are some drawbacks, though.
1. It's pretty unstable. Minor fluctuations will dramatically recalibrate the wasted vote total. This is because this computation does not account for competitive districts where seats are truly up for grabs. (Competitive districts are good - they keep elections from being hijacked in the primary, and they decrease polarization - as long as they're in the right measure. You want a good balance of competitive districts and safe districts.) Right now, in many gerrymandered states, there are far fewer competitive districts than there should be, based on the proportion of the population that lives in purple regions. (This is based on some back-of-the-envelope computations I did, mostly in Texas but also Pennsylvania.)

2. Safe districts are complicated. What's the difference between a minority-majority district and a packed district? How do you protect a unique group's ability to represent themselves? Who qualifies as a worthy special interest? There are probably better solutions than perfectly drawn districts - one proposal is having multiple representatives for a single district. That way everyone in a city could vote for all three representatives (say), and the minority members could concentrate their vote on a minority representative and still vote for two other candidates. Politicians could still focus on a smaller group without packing a district. (And we've discussed IRV and fusion voting here before.)

3. A different form of gerrymandering that was not in the Republican playbook in their recent power grab is called entrenchment. There was some case in California where the district lines were redrawn, and no party won or lost seats, but all the incumbents got a little safer. The Wisconsin standard doesn't have anything to say about that.

Emotionally, it feels like a test of gerrymandering should take into account whether the representation of a state correlates to the proportion of votes throughout the state. IIRC, Sam Wang's measure did a better job of this.

Finally: I have thought a lot about competitive districts and how they should be drawn, but I couldn't really eke a math paper out about it, and I'm not sure what else to do when you've thought about something for a while.


 

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SO DUMB.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.17

Emerson linked to McMegan at the other place and now my brain is melted so you have to read it, too. A free puppy to the commenter who picks out the dumbest sentence. My submission is this:

[E]ven if the regulation had passed, and required existing developers to retrofit sprinklers into older buildings, Grenfell Tower might not have gotten a sprinkler system before the fire occurred. Regulations are not implemented like instant coffee; they take time to formulate, and further time for businesses to comply.

 

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The MSS

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.17

This link makes the case that Clinton lost because of sexism, but that is emphatically not what this post is about, because Why Clinton Lost is a tired discussion.

This post is about the methodology of the study at the link: how do you measure how sexist someone is? The industry standard is apparently called the Modern Sexism Scale, and it asks people to rank the following statements on a Likert Scale:

- Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor them over men, under the guise of asking for "equality."

- Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.

- Feminists are seeking for women to have more power than men.

- When women lose to men in a fair competition, they typically complain about being discriminated against.

- Discrimination against women is no longer a problem in the United States.

It makes my brain hurt to realize that people find these plausible statements.

I have some bad news: We're pretty sexist. A total of 36.2 percent of the entire sample--male, female, Democrat, Republican, black, white, Latino--answered in such a way as to be classified as "sexist." Meanwhile, 16.7 percent were "neutral." (And if you look at those statements, it becomes clear that anybody who gives a "neutral" response to them is actually probably fairly sexist.)

If you MUST think about Clinton, you can click through and find out how sexist the various voting blocs are. (Scoring badly on the MSS is not predictive of supporting Sanders in the primary, but highly predictive of which Sanders supporters could not bring themselves to vote for Clinton in the general.) Just try not to derail the comment thread, okay? Unless it's sputtering, in which case you're doing a good thing.


 

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