If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, these guys are a San Antonio outfit dedicated to registering college students to vote in south-central Texas. They've come to all my classes to register students, and have already registered about 1/3 of the students at Heebie U. I'm told that they've registered about 17K students so far this year, and their goal is 30K before voter registration ends on October 9th. (For what it's worth, turnout was
406,594 4.5 million in Texas in 2014, which at 28.5% was the worst turnout in the country. (Ed: the 406K number was just Dallas, I misread and then kept returning to stare at it because it made no sense.))
According to my spreadsheet, I've knocked on 170 doors and registered/updated 20 voter registrations over a month, which feels fairly demoralizing. Why am I bothering with that kind of marginal returns, when it's far more important to get these guys to have 15 minutes to talk to a 300 person lecture hall on a big state university?
1. Charlie Carp sends in this interactive from the NYT, about the likelihood that someone in your county is friends with any other given county. It's fun! It's funny to run along the rural neighborhoods and see giant swings based on probably some oddball artifact migration pattern, like going from El Paso County in towards Oil Country along the Texas-New Mexico border. Loving County, right near the crook of the state lines, has something particularly weird going on.
2. Why don't cities declare election day to be city holidays, at least, and encourage their companies to given employees time to vote?
3. I thought I had a (3) but it's diving into the weeds painfully into hyper-local politics and so I'll let it go. Instead I'll say that I have a football player in my class whose name is a cross between "Colt McCoy" and literally saying "Down set HUT!".
This is a really good article about obesity and being fat in America. (The title - Everything You Know About Obesity is Wrong - is misleading on so many levels. First, this article is not going to upend anything you know, but it's still really well done and worth reading. Second, that sounds like a Sugar vs Fat headline, and it's not that at all. It's more about how cruel and counterproductive doctors and public policy is.)
This bit was striking to me:
For most minority groups, discrimination contributes to a sense of belongingness, a community in opposition to a majority...Fat people, though, never get a moment of declaring their identity, of marking themselves as part of a distinct group. They still live in a society that believes weight is temporary, that losing it is urgent and achievable, that being comfortable in their bodies is merely "glorifying obesity." This limbo, this lie, is why it's so hard for fat people to discover one another or even themselves.
and also this bit confirms what I'm already predisposed to believe:
Many "failed" obesity interventions are, in fact, successful eat-healthier-and-exercise-more interventions. A review of 44 international studies found that school-based activity programs didn't affect kids' weight, but improved their athletic ability, tripled the amount of time they spent exercising and reduced their daily TV consumption by up to an hour. Another survey showed that two years of getting kids to exercise and eat better didn't noticeably affect their size but did improve their math scores--an effect that was greater for black kids than white kids.
You see this in so much of the research: The most effective health interventions aren't actually health interventions--they are policies that ease the hardship of poverty and free up time for movement and play and parenting. Developing countries with higher wages for women have lower obesity rates, and lives are transformed when healthy food is made cheaper. A pilot program in Massachusetts that gave food stamp recipients an extra 30 cents for every $1 they spent on healthy food increased fruit and vegetable consumption by 26 percent. Policies like this are unlikely to affect our weight. They are almost certain, however, to significantly improve our health.
I KNOW, RIGHT?!
Which brings us to the most hard-wired problem of all: Our shitty attitudes toward fat people.
(Somewhere deep in the archives, I can be found arguing fervently that BMI report cards might assist the parents who don't know their kid is overweight. I'd like to gently backpeddle far, far away from that position. In my defense, it's probably back in 2007 or so.)
Nick S. writes: A guest post on Charlie Stross' blog about what would be involved in setting up an international transaction system which would allow people to buy and sell things without any entity (or government) having a complete list of who's bought and sold what.
This quickly becomes complicated . . .
So when it comes to transactional security, well. What are we really trying to do?
We want a system where you don't need to identify yourself to pay for something. (That gets us that global transaction database and all the nasty problems it creates.)
Inevitably, you do need to identify yourself if you want to dispute what you were sold. ("Ordered 12-axis milling machine. Paid for 12-axis milling machine. Received 12 gross Old People Hats in diverse colours. Do not want.")
Ah! So everybody needs some sort of cryptographic true name for transactional purposes.
The true name rule is that you never, ever want it to be legible. (Not even to you!) You want to be the Wizard Iff of the Unpronouncable Name, with a true name that is impossible to know.
Reading the description I understand most of what he's saying, and I think it's an valuable intellectual exercise to think through some of the problems. At the same time I am certain that I do not want to be responsible, as a consumer for knowing if my payment systems are handling these steps correctly. I either want a clear recommendation, "use xyzzy payments, they're the best" or, if there is no clear category of best actors, I will just use whatever's most convenient.
So there are three layers of challenges: a collective action problem (how do we collectively decide what infrastructure is needed to support appropriate privacy and security) and a principle/agent problem (we delegate responsibility to tech companies and have limited ability to monitor them and quite possibly we as individuals have different goals and interests than the tech companies) plus a regulatory problem (how can anybody verify that banana corp is using the infrastructure in the correct way) and I have no idea how to resolve that cleanly.
Heebie's take: Cash plus paper receipt seems like an easy answer! I get that I'm missing the point. It just sort of seems like one of those problems - like voting - that is easily handled with physical manipulables.
It's standard liberal fare to note the disjunction between the sympathy people feel for children who are victims of inner-city violence, and the hatred of the teenaged "savages" who are those same children a few years farther along an entirely predictable path.
I confess I feel the same way about...Eric and Don Jr. There's the revulsion and loathing of broken human monsters, but also a recognition that these people didn't really stand a chance. Of course, defenders of the disjunction in either case would point to adult agency as the grounding for condemnation, and fair enough, we have to have standards, regardless of why people breach them. But the law aside, we can see that being raised by Donald Trump (or Fred Trump, apparently) was not a winnable hand.
In that family, all the typical reverence a child feels for a parent would be buttressed by worshipful press coverage of "dad", a recognition that they were richer, different, above the common lot (no doubt dad teminded them of this regularly), and all this would happen around the maelstrom of hate, need, anger, and insecurity that is Trump. Throw in the unapologetic racism and misogyny, subtract any parental love, and how could they be anything other than what they are?
Relatedly, I will bet you one hundred million genuine American smackeroos that Eric has a Stormfront account. Please, somebody find it.
Could there have been a way for Kavanaugh to handle this particular accusation that demonstrates enough moral growth and development that this episode - sexual assault in high school - would not leave a question mark in your mind? (It's an impossible counterfactual, I know, because the shithead 17 year old became a shithead grown-up without pausing to consider that vaginas and uteruses have people attached to them. There wasn't a clean line where he became a moral person.)
I'm torn, and vaguely wondering if there's some residual misogyny tucked away in me. For one, I want him tanked, by any means necessary. But the reasons I don't like the guy are mostly because of his track record as a hideous adult. I'm ambivalent about Al Franken's ousting, still.
Simultaneously, I'm glad that we're putting a standard in place where all bad behavior towards women is taken very seriously, full stop. I don't know why part of me feels like an incremental approach might be more sensible. I've got an internal Booker T. vs WEB poem going on.
I'm going to assert that tacos are the new bacon. What I mean is that now there are memes equating tacos with true love and ecstasy, posted by people who think of themselves as funny, and they're showing up on shirts like this kind of thing.
I suppose tacos are as good as thing as anything else for this impulse to land on. I order them for the students at math club and I call it Thaco Thursday and think I'm cute.
[He's] coming to the UK tomorrow [that is, by now yesterday] (Oxford for a few days, then London with a brief stop at Taunton). I'll be free in London on Sept 19-20 and Sept 22-23 (unless someone wants to join me for a 35mm screening of Youssef Chahine's The Earth on the 18th and Elaine May's A New Leaf on the 21st.,
Also, Urple will be in NYC doing karaoke next weekend, details still uncertain. I will very plausibly be there, as might any of you be.