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Skincrap

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.20.18

I don't know if you know this, but skincare has become a rather large thing lately. I knew it, because fashion bloggers that I like have all started to post incessantly about skincare. There's lots of articles about feminism and aging and its relation to skincare, the size of the industry and the recent explosion and whether or not it's all bullshit. (Seriously, to have your mind blown, check the link I hid until "to" above.)

If you'll recall, I personally posted a query upon turning 40 a few months ago, and as a result, started using a daily sunscreen. I also think that the main reason I look older is that my features are getting blockier and drifting gradually up my face, and a skincare regimen ain't going to help that. Did I mention I'm a flounder?

On different sorts of skincare: for my first tattoo session, I started off without any drugs, and then took two ibuprofen after about 30 minutes. It took the edge off but it was still very intense. That session lasted about 3 1/2 hours. At the end of it, I was a wreck. It took a big physical toll (and also I hadn't prepared in terms of having food on hand. I hadn't realized that I'd be so zapped.)

For my second session, I took four ibuprofen ahead of time. This time I felt absolutely zilch on the pain scale. I could have fallen asleep. It was a fucking breeze. This session was two hours long. On the one hand, it feels a bit inauthentic to be drugged to the gills and coast through a tattoo. On the other hand, who cares. I have probably 3-5 more sessions to go.


 

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Housing

Posted by Ogged
on 04.19.18

I know very little about housing policy, so I mostly keep my mouth shut, so I was glad to see Drum, who knows more than I do, say this:

This is not Econ 101, not by a mile. Just as building more highways attracts more cars and ultimately does nothing for traffic, building more housing attracts more people. We could make housing less expensive in Los Angeles--just as we could reduce traffic by building highways 40 lanes across--but the amount of new housing it would take to make a sizeable dent in prices is truly vast.

It's always seemed obvious that the very expensive, desirable places could easily swallow literally millions more people without making a dent in housing costs, which would just make life worse in those places. The post is worth a read for his suggestions, which sound sensible. But I guess that's axiomatic. Also, I thought Chait was a liberal with a "college kids are ruining the world" hobbyhorse, but I guess he's just our Mickey Kaus, but not as funny.


 

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Guest Post - Surveillance Capitalism, but Different

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.19.18

Mossy Character writes: Anyone here using Cliqz? I'm not, but I'm intrigued. Their core product is a Firefox fork; their gimmick is that they block trackers (they bought Ghostery); their business model is ad serving. It's supposed to differ from all the other ad networks by doing all the ad-targeting client-side

All offers are sent in advance to all available browsers and add-ons, where they remain in the background until they are called up. The right offer is activated and displayed in the browser at the right moment only when the user's behavior corresponds to the previously defined trigger rules and other additional requirements. Doing a search or visiting a particular website, for example, could be triggers.
[...]
All data that the MyOffrz software uses to decide which offers it displays are stored solely on the user's device and are accessed there as necessary.
and not collecting individually identifiable data. So basically if you sign up to their (anonymized) ad network they'll hide you from all the other ad networks. Blame capitalism, I guess. They're also doing search, building their own index using anonymized data, and generating most search results as "suggestions" client-side.
Our search engine works with strictly anonymous statistical, collectively gathered data on search queries and pages viewed in order to classify the relevance of websites. Measurements are also taken at a statistical level as to the total number of clicks achieved by the website recommendations in the Cliqz quick search. This allows us to generate hit rankings.

(One has to scratch a little, but searches that can't be handled client-side go to their servers. They say they delete identifying data immediately after handling the query, and that search history is anonymized and not used for ad-targeting.) In principle this anonymized search presumably can never be as good as personalized. In practice though Google usually isn't great at guessing what I'm looking for, so maybe it'll be no worse; and if search and targeting are actually separated that should remove Google's fundamental conflict of interest. They're owned by these people, with investment from Mozilla, and make much of German privacy laws, third party verification, and opening their source, for what that's worth.

Heebie's take: I'm sort of abstractly interested, but can't imagine ever actually signing up for that. Everything breaks and sends you error messages and stops functioning in dumb ways and it all takes a toll. I want everything to stop updating and creating bugs with past versions of everything else.


 

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Guest Post - Police use of force

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.18.18

Minivet writes: So a common consensus on here is that while SCOTUS jurisprudence on police use of force sucks, states can and should increase the threshold for liability above that minimum level.

Well, here is such a proposal in black and white: Assembly Bill 931, the Police Use of Force Act, coming out of the ACLU. Take a look over the text. Is this what we've been waiting for?

Heebie's take: It's not very long! So read it already.


 

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Reading Comprehension

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.18.18

I thought this was interesting - Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years.

Honestly, my first thought when I read headlines like this is, "Why should they?" Why should a 6 year old in 2017 be able to read any better than a 6 year old in 1997? Obviously pedagogy makes a huge difference and terrible pedagogy will prevent many students from being able to read well, but if you've achieved decent pedagogy, maybe just let 6 year olds learn to read according to their 6 year old brains?

Anyway, maybe I like this article because it's somewhat consistent with that worldview. Here's the current state of the affairs in the US:

In countries that specify the content to be taught at each grade level, standardized tests can test students on what they've learned in school. But in the United States, where schools are all teaching different content, test designers give students passages on a variety of topics that may have nothing to do with what they've learned in school--life in the Arctic, for example, or the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. The tests then ask questions designed to assess comprehension: What's the main idea of the passage? What inferences can you make?
On a daily basis, teachers have their students practice skills and strategies like "finding the main idea" or "making inferences." And teachers select books that match the given skill rather than because of the text's content. Rarely do the topics connect: Students might read a book about bridges one day, zebras the next, and clouds the day after that.
Cognitive scientists have known for decades that simply mastering comprehension skills doesn't ensure a young student will be able to apply them to whatever texts they're confronted with on standardized tests and in their studies later in life.

Ok, fine. So the problem:

[W]hether or not readers understand a text depends far more on how much background knowledge and vocabulary they have relating to the topic than on how much they've practiced comprehension skills. That's because writers leave out a lot of information that they assume readers will know. If they put all the information in, their writing would be tedious.
But if readers can't supply the missing information, they have a hard time making sense of the text....Students from less educated families are usually the ones who are most handicapped by gaps in knowledge.

Makes perfect sense to me that general knowledge about the world is needed to create meaning from the words you're reading, once you've gotten the basic phonics down. And an impoverished childhood makes it much harder to supply the context.

I don't entirely agree with this:

The implication is clear. The best way to boost students' reading comprehension is to expand their knowledge and vocabulary by teaching them history, science, literature, and the arts, using curricula that that guide kids through a logical sequence from one year to the next[.]

A different, clear implication would be to aggressively fight childhood poverty. I bet that would boost test scores a lot more! Which is the most important thing.


 

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What Are You Looking At?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.17.18

Anymore, I try not to use my phone during "dead" time: standing in line, on the train, etc. And I think we're thisclose to flipping from "my god, all these people are on their phones" to "why is that weirdo just looking around?" I'm sure this tipping point is very localized, so it'll be one time in the places I live and work, another in New York or San Francisco (maybe it's already happened!) and yet another in Scottsdale, but I think we're about to have a convention* shift.

*This is about the felt reaction to behavior, not whether everyone is, in fact, on their phones; that happened years ago.


 

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Cancer

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.17.18

Elsewhere, one of you posted Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer? which is more Mother Jones and not as click-baity as the headline sounds. But isn't moderate drinking healthy?

Scientists have long known that heavy drinking causes high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. That's why early studies investigating drinking and heart disease started with the logical supposition that people who abstain from alcohol should have low rates of heart disease compared with moderate or heavy drinkers. As it turned out, they didn't. When plotted on a curve, drinkers fell into a J-shaped pattern: Abstainers in the studies had rates of cardiovascular disease similar to those of heavy drinkers.
But this J-curve is deceptive. Not all the nondrinkers in these studies were teetotalers like the ones I grew up with in Utah. The British epidemiologist A. Gerald Shaper began a wide-ranging men's heart health study in the late 1970s, and when he examined the data, he found that 71 percent of nondrinkers in the study were actually former drinkers who had quit. Some of these ex-drinking men were as likely to smoke as heavy drinkers. They had the highest rate of heart disease of any group and elevated rates of high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and even bronchitis. Shaper concluded that ex-drinkers were often sicker than heavy drinkers who hadn't quit, making them a poor control group.
Yet for decades, researchers continued to include them and consequently found an implausible number of health benefits to moderate drinking, including lower rates of deafness and liver cirrhosis. The industry has helped promote these studies to doctors.

Apparently binge drinking as a young adult is particularly connected to breast cancer.

As I mentioned in the comments last week, my uncle was diagnosed with acute leukemia, which means that my mom and her siblings all have had cancer by age 70. That's on my good side, the side without the BRCA mutation. So I'm having a bit of a crisis of my own mortality at the moment - do I have twenty good years left? Will I meet my grandchildren? It's not very well contained and spilling over to general death anxiety that we're all going to die, starting with all my loved ones.


 

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Guest Post - Scooters (non-Libby)

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.16.18

Minivet writes: First we had the bikeshare, then we got dockless bikeshare - they seem under every leaf in Seattle now - and the dockless bike people are now adding electric-boost scooters, which despite their silliness I like.

  • Public policy: obviously they need proper permitting, maybe pay more for commons-appropriation, and definitely need to be held accountable for when they block sidewalks (especially for wheelchair users who riders probably rarely think about).
  • They could become a good in-between modality for a lot of people doing the last 2-3 miles from public transit. (More expensive than bus, cheaper than car service.)
  • It still feels like a symptom of late capitalism - or a dark subversion of communist visions of plenty - that the streets are being filled up with tools that look unlocked but require credit to use and are heavily surveilled.
  • The version where I am instructs you to use bike lanes, and that seems to be the current legal advice, but I feel unsafe there, despite being in a relatively bike-friendly (for the US) place - I feel more like a slightly faster pedestrian. Am I being an asshole for mostly using sidewalks? I get off and walk when I come near people in any level of density

Heebie's take: I like the idea for solving the last-mile problem. I am, sadly, in a rural enough daily commute that this is largely irrelevant for my life.

I sometimes wish that I had a commute that involved walking or biking, but then I remember that I hate carrying heavy shit. Between my lunch, coffee, workbag and purse, I'd have to really rearrange things and stop taking so much if I were going to bike or walk. Also my lunch is often leftovers in a tupperware which can't handle being flung around in a backpack quite the way a sandwich can. Also, I hate being sweaty in work clothes. But if you pack your work clothes and change at work, that's more stuff to carry. You're right: it's better just to drive.


 

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