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Blackest of Fridays

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.24.17

1. Putting your dollars into poorer neighborhoods:

In the paper "Crowdsourcing the Robin Hood Effect in Cities," published in June in the journal Applied Network Science, the researchers describe a computer algorithm they created that attempts to "rewire" the complex network of commercial transactions and shopping trips people take part in every day. The goal is to redirect more money to poorer neighborhoods so that the wealth differences between rich and poor parts of a city are evened out.
The study used data from 150,000 people and 95,000 businesses in Barcelona and Madrid, and on the surface the pattern of transactions and the money spent revealed that some neighborhoods were up to five times wealthier than others. But researchers were shocked to find that if as few as 5 percent of commercial transactions were changed--so that capital flowed from richer to poorer neighborhoods--income inequality in those cities was drastically reduced, up to 80 percent.

It just seems like such a facile solution. On the one hand, it's true that Big Data sometimes yield Big Insights. And also just stating that a 5% threshhold is desirable is a far cry from getting 5% of transactions to change. But it does seem like the kind of thing that could either become trendy as a feel-good green-pink-silver?-washing measure.

But also: stores aren't distributed equally. I could hit up a grocery store or a gas station in a poor neighborhood, but if it's not locally owned, does it really affect anyone's wages who works there? Am I missing something about the mechanism, or does this just not translate well from Spain to Central Texas?

Also: San Antonio to New Braunfels is the most economically segregated region in the country. I was totally shocked to learn this. (Although it is a Richard Florida article from 2014 and I can't remember why we're suspicious of him, but I think we are. Did he do the Five Nations of America thing?) I didn't think this area had the wealth to really make the statistic, although I knew it had pockets of extreme wealth, which I guess is the point.

First link via Tedra, elsewhere. Second just via elsewhere.

2. 16 year old pisses off 19 year old sister with his incessant Foucault crap. Can't we just have a nice Thanksgiving?!

Via LGM


 

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Sure, give thanks here.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.23.17

I wasn't sure if I'd even managed to post it last year, but I did, and now you can go find yourself a merry Arlogiving. That would have been nice if I'd started doing a recursive Thanksgiving link back in 2008 but oh well.


 

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In No Particular Order

Posted by Ogged
on 11.22.17

Just in time for the holidays, songs I've enjoyed lately: playlist.


 

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So Many Years

Posted by Ogged
on 11.22.17

 

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Net Neutrality

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.22.17

I know all the awful consequences of ending net neutrality, and I can't imagine it can be stopped.

Is this a genie in a bottle, or can it be reversed if there were cooperative political agents? I honestly can't imagine that the telecoms wouldn't next provide giant sums of money to shoring up the Democrats, to keep them from reversing it.

Is there a world in which it gets so bad that people start demanding a government provider? The way single payer health care has recently gained mainstream traction?

My prediction: the next Democratic administration will do some lukewarm "stabilizing" of the net neutrality situation so that the worst effects do not extend beyond poor and middle class people.

It's a tired phrase, but truly, this is why we can't have nice things.


 

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Thanksgiving Week

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.22.17

Two or three years ago, the local school district started closing for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Is this a national trend? Is Thanksgiving shifting from being a short week/long weekend to an entire week off? Heebie U still holds classes on Monday and Tuesday, but not Wednesday. When I was at Michigan, I think they held classes on Wednesday, at at UT, the president would cancel classes after noon, so that's my data from 10 and 20 years ago.

Obviously employers would not deign to give their employees three more days off. That would require some sort of embiggening machine, which is laughable. I meant, is it becoming a thing where more people take the entire week off, and the remaining few at the office or around town are become ghostlike?


 

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Jim DeRogatis

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.21.17

First, this is very good: what to do with the art of monstrous men? Second, when I shared it elsewhere, an old friend led me down the rabbithole of Jim DeRogatis. I vaguely knew him from the radio show Sound Opinions, which I really enjoyed years ago, but it had fallen off my radar.

NB: Music occupies a very, very tiny slice of my life. A lot of people here are musical people. Thus I'm probably writing an incredibly naive post here. But hey, it might yield interesting conversation, so I'm barrelling forward.

DeRogatis has basically launched a one-man 16 year investigation and fight against R. Kelly. I knew the basic facts of R. Kelly's abuse, but not anything about the journalist. IMO, this story is extremely important right now because the accuser is targeting young black girls, and most of the stories right now are focused on white victims. If this is a moment of reckoning with serial harassers, it's vital that it not be restricted to white victims.

R. Kelly's reputation is sort of in this weird middle-ground of "everyone knows he's gross but he's not quite really paying the price yet." I don't know what kind of access he has to young girls at this exact moment. But his reputation needs to be drug through the mud like the current crop of abusers. Also he should probably be in jail.

Anyway, DeRogatis got fired from The Rolling Stone in 1996 for writing a negative review of Hootie and the Blowfish. That decision sure doesn't hold up well!


 

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Guest Post - This Stuck Record

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.21.17

Mossy Character writes: Meanwhile, on the Syria-Jordan border:

The Tanaf base in Syria's southeastern desert had been, in some tellings, a key front in the U.S. campaign to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East. For one overheated moment, Tanaf was where America would block an Iranian "land bridge" linking Iran to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq. Now the land bridge is a reality, but Washington's refusal to cede Tanaf is a demonstration of its unwillingness to fold under pressure from Damascus and its Iranian and Russian allies. Tanaf is also, in theory, useful leverage on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The Assad-aligned forces besieging the base area aren't available to do other stuff, so actually it isn't strategically useless. Or it wouldn't be, if US policy were to overthrow Assad. But actually US policy is to fight ISIS, which is being fought by Assad-aligned forces...
Meanwhile, next to Tanaf on the Syrian-Jordanian border and inside the U.S.-policed "deconfliction" perimeter shielding the base, thousands of displaced women and children in the Rukban camp are hungry. [...] Washington has proved incapable of prevailing on Jordan to allow cross-border humanitarian assistance to Rukban, just south along the border. [...] Baby formula is also in short supply, camp residents told me, and sharply limited access to healthcare means treatable illnesses are life-threatening. Fuel supplies that had come from ISIL-held Deir al-Zour and had been used for cooking and generators have also been cut.
Like, who knew this stuff was so complicated?
But America currently has no ambassador to Jordan to make this case, and to do it successfully might require someone much higher up, like the vice president.
Or even the Secretary of State, or the...never mind.

Heebie's take: At a loss!


 

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Crying Wolf

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.20.17

This is an excellent article about false accusations of rape. First the author puts it appropriately into context - how few there really are. But then they get to the nitty-gritty - when these false allegations are made, what tends to be the reason?

First, teenagers who missed curfew/got pregnant/etc and don't want to get in trouble, but also don't want to press charges, where the guardian hauls the kid in to press charges. And then, of those who want to press charges:

When one looks at a series of fabricated sexual assaults, on the other hand, patterns immediately begin to emerge. The most striking of these is that, almost invariably, adult false accusers who persist in pursuing charges have a previous history of bizarre fabrications or criminal fraud. Indeed, they're often criminals whose family and friends are also criminals; broken people trapped in chaotic lives.

I think this is the most interesting takeaway:

[F]alse accusations [are not] the result of miscommunications taking place in a murky world of casual hook-ups and heavy drinking. False accusers almost never tell stories that could, by any stretch of the imagination, be seen as an innocent misunderstanding. In a study of false rape claims made to the Los Angeles Police Department, 78% involved claims of aggravated rape--assaults involving a gun or knife, gang rapes, and/or attacks resulting in injuries.
Most of all, it should be remembered that a false accuser is a person making up a story to serve some goal. Whether the impetus is personal gain, factitious disorder, the need for an alibi, or revenge, it's crucial to the accuser that their story be taken seriously. For this reason, it's radically unlikely--and in practice does not happen--that a false accuser would invent a story where the issue of consent could seem ambiguous.

Via the other place

PS: I wanted the pull quote to start with this sentence: "Neither are false accusations the result of miscommunications taking place in a murky world of casual hook-ups and heavy drinking." Should one leave it as is, or do too much bracketing like I did?


 

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Dumb Trump vs smart Pence, and the flip side of that

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.20.17

There was a politico story that I can't find now about how the White House aides are very careful to only show Trump good polls, but there's this similar one, and plus, this kind of story has been popping up all year - give him the Reader's Digest version of the news in 16-point Comic Sans, peppered with praise and Dear Generous Gracious Leaders all over it.

Aside from the existential horror at having such a dumb fucking President-in-Chief, I'm plenty entertained at the idea that the aides are all in a tizzy with fear over what Trump will find out and tweet about over Thanksgiving Break.

Basically, the first six months after the election were spent wrestling with the question: is Trump better or worse than Pence? After this past year, the answer - to me - is that Pence is much worse. (Especially after that general came out and said he'd block Trump's nuclear access codes if it was illegal, and hearing that Congress is considering reviewing the unilateral nuclear code access.) In my opinion, standard Republicans are much more dangerous than bumbling, racist, misogynistic ones that say all the quiet parts outloud.

The converse of this is: how gross would I let an individual Democrat get before I refused to vote for him? If Moore were the Democrat and Jones were the bog-standard Republican, would I reject my party? I'm really not sure. A bog-standard Republican is much more destructive than a gross Democrat, although I could be convinced otherwise about sending a message and so on. (However: Franken is nowhere near my standard of a gross Democrat. I don't think he should resign.)

* "Digest" as in "Reader's Digest" has really not aged well as a name. Here, we pre-chewed your cud.


 

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