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Hunger and Crumbs

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.17

It turns out that students do worse on math tests when their family is struggling to make ends meet. The interview is between Shankar Vedantam and Mary Louise Kelly so that you'll be able to practically have auditory hallucinations of their voices while you read. (Plus Orgul Ozturk who actually did the research.)

The key to the study is how things work in South Carolina:

KELLY: It seems like it kind of makes sense, that if you're hungry you can't concentrate so you might test lower. How do they know, though, that this is the food-stamp cycle, that that's what's responsible?
VEDANTAM: Well, it has to do with two quirks in the way the food-stamp program is administered in South Carolina. Recipients receive benefits on the first 10 days of the month. Some families get it on the first, some on the second and so on. Simultaneously, children in grades three through eight also have to take an annual math exam on the second Wednesday of May. Now, the second Wednesday of May falls on different dates each year. So if your family received food stamps on the 10th of April, for example, and the exam falls on the 8th of May, you're likely to have gone hungry for several days before you took the test.

So everything is nice and randomized, and if your family hasn't gotten their food stamps for a while, you do worse on the exams.

The point of this post is this tidbit at the end of the interview:

KELLY: So what's the implication here? Might it be better to, say, distribute food stamps more frequently?
VEDANTAM: So that's an idea that some people are thinking about, and it's an intriguing idea. If you can distribute the benefit twice a month, perhaps you can smooth-out the cycle. But it's the kind of thing that needs to be tested because you could have unintended consequences, and now instead of students being hungry once a month they're going to end up being hungry twice a month.

...and SCENE! They just wrap it there, lamenting the difficulties of spreading out the crumbs sufficiently smoothly. Oh well, problem intractable! Next question!


 

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Someone Linked This Dopey But Sweet Story on FB

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.29.17

A couple of NFL players saw a kid wearing a Kaepernick jersey and bought him an Xbox. Cute, but unimportant. But it did leave me wondering if there's any organized effort to buy and wear Kaepernick stuff for political reasons. Does anyone know? Is it even possible this year what with him not having a job?


 

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Orange Dots

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.28.17

I am not giving a talk at the Joint Math Meetings in January, or even attending, but nevertheless the following language came across my path:

Talks given by members of minority groups that are under-represented in mathematics will be so identified in the JMM app. Do you wish to have your talk included in this list?

I can't imagine the JMM implementing this without being in consultation with organizations representing such minority groups. So I imagine there's a thoughtful reason behind it.

Nevertheless, it sure seems tinny. When I took the Putnam exam in college, the instructions were to put an orange sticker on the outside of your submission envelope if you were female. Some friends teased me a lot about this, the joke being that the orange dot alerted the grader to break out the female grading rubric instead of the regular one. My initial reaction to the JMM query is that they're asking you if you want an orange dot by your name.


 

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The NFL, the White House, :)!! & Lithwick

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.27.17

I don't know if I've ever disagreed with Dahlia Lithwick before, but I totally disagree with her here. Here is the gist of her argument:

It's a second coming of Trump's ongoing war on truth, except in this iteration, the attack is on the truths of others. No longer content to simply lie about things, this White House wants to tell you what other people actually mean when they speak.

She's saying, roughly, that the most pernicious aspect of this battle between the White House and the NFL players is that the White House is rewriting what the NFL players are saying. The WH is ignoring the actual words of the players and replacing them with their own claim to know better what the players are actually saying.

My problem with Lithwick's argument is that I do this same thing to Confederate flag wavers: Fuck you and your "heritage, not hate". I know better than that. I know what the Confederate flag means, and I don't believe your words. I know better what you're actually saying when you wave that racist symbol.

If you want to untangle the NFL vs. the Whitehouse mess, you have to actually address:
1. The merit of protesting police brutality
2. The merit of kneeling during the anthem as a means of communicating what you are protesting.

Because I think that police brutality is horrific, and because I think it's a systemic abuse that spans all of the US, I think the protest is worthwhile and that the means is appropriate.

If you want to think about white supremacists march holding the Confederate flag to protest taking down their stupid racist statues, you have to address:
1. The merit of protesting the removal of the statues
2. The merit of marching with their stupid racist flag in order to do so.

The first has very little merit, in my opinion, but the march is appropriate until you bring in all those assault rifles and violence and police leniency.

The NFL protest is, in fact, about the flag, because they are using the flag and anthem specifically because the brutality is systemic and nationwide. It's not offensive because their protest is morally on the right side. It would be offensive to sit out the national anthem in support of #BlueLivesMatter, because the actual protest is morally wrong.

Whether or not you are rephrasing the other side's message is not the most pernicious part, like Lithwick claims, because that's how everyone functions - you paraphrase the other side to suit your own goals. You're supposed to do so in a way that is true to the underlying issue, because the underlying issue is actually the issue.


 

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VW

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.17

I have a co-worker who was going on about Virginia Woolf and To The Lighthouse so I finally said ok, ok, I'll check it out. The woman is a gottdamm genius. Right up there with Michelle Shocked. Some of her sentences are so virtuosic that I thought, surely, cocaine. But no, just crazy. I know we're not supposed to believe in the myth of neurotic creativity, but there's a kind of high-temperature genius that I can't be convinced doesn't have some crazy or cocaine in it.


 

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Whatthewhata

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.26.17

What the fuuuuuuuck.

Via one of you at the other place.


 

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Backlash, or maybe just regular lash.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.26.17

Charleycarp writes: Jesus F Christ.

Heebie's take: Ha. Haha. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Mr. Altizer is part of a backlash against the women in technology movement. While many in the tech industry had previously dismissed the fringe men's rights arguments, some investors, executives and engineers are now listening. Though studies and surveys show there is no denying the travails women face in the male-dominated industry, some said that the line for what counted as harassment had become too easy to cross and that the push for gender parity was too extreme a goal. Few were willing to talk openly about their thinking, for fear of standing out in largely progressive Silicon Valley.

What a nice, neutral story about a smalltown industry and the funny factions that develop. It's just like a funny high school rivalry, or even better, a powder puff football game. Eventually the boys get annoyed if the powder puff game overshadows the real game, and how!


 

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Guest Post - Reading Group - A New Kind of War

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.26.17

Mossy Character writes: The short essay reading group concept looks promising, so: Adam Tooze: Blitzkrieg manqué or a new kind of war? Interpreting the Allied Victory in the Normandy campaign (PDF).

...for historians D-Day serves as a Rorschach blot, an open-ended, projective test of underlying assumptions and models of historical explanation. This review essay seeks not to reconcile or synthesize the contending views, but to explore the logic of this perpetuum mobile of interpretation and reinterpretation.
I think there are enough war geeks here to have a worthwhile discussion just on the headline question, but the paper also touches on democracies and war, which may be interesting to the wider commentariat too. Related, on strategic bombing and the MG-42 machine gun (audio and slides).

Heebie's take: Works for me! In this thread, we need to determine a read-by date, which is when I'd start posting any responses that you all write. Is one week enough time? So next Tuesday?


 

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Pop Is Just Alright

Posted by Ogged
on 09.25.17

Since we've reached the point where any rando can be president, we could do a whole lot worse than basketball coach (and probable former military spy) Gregg Popovich.



 

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Online bulk real estate speculation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.25.17

J, Robot sends in this article, about how real estate speculators are terrible people who have no interest in the quality of life of the people in the community.

Despite earnest narratives about young homeowners working to rebuild American cities one DIY project at a time, many buyers in online tax sales are absentee real estate speculators buying in bulk. A Singapore businessman recently bought 414 properties during a single auction in Detroit; a Hong Kong billionaire named Jimmy Lai owns so many vacant houses in the city that they're known as "Lai-sores." At a Houston tax sale I attended in 2015, amid the crowd of mom-and-pop buyers--a young couple pushing a stroller, an old man in baggy camo shorts--veteran investors with briefcases full of cash stalked the bidding floor.

They're assholes. And it's really hard to figure out who owns the property.

In theory, tax sales are supposed to replenish city coffers and transfer vacant homes from delinquent owners to people who will actually improve the properties. But the mass purchasing of distressed homes by faraway investors is having the opposite effect. According to a case study of Cleveland by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, properties owned by out-of-state and high-volume investors are far more likely to remain empty, have delinquent tax bills, violate local building codes, and ultimately require demolition.

THEY'RE ASSHOLES.


 

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Questions about Puerto Rico

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.25.17

I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around the scale of the crisis in Puerto Rico. How is communication being improvised? Are batteries available? What about gas? I see photos of people pulled over to use a single cell phone tower, which implies that their phones are charged, which could be done in one's car. Are there still numbers of people that have yet to be located? How far away are they from having stable access to drinking water and enough refugee center space?

Why isn't this a more major story? What kind of scale are we talking about here? How does this compare to Katrina?


 

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Kneeling

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.24.17

How about an NFL kneeling thread? One of the fucking xfit trainers posted the following cartoon: liberal wanker is stepping all over the flag, and rambles on about the first amendment. Other person steps up with a confederate flag and the liberal snowflake cries, "waaah, that's different!" (I tore into him.)

Anyway, it seems to be blowing up.


 

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