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A modicum of good news

Posted by Ben
on 10.27.18

I am pleased to report that x. trapnel, my cap^H^H^Hgenerous host in Vienna, has prevailed upon me to make the site slightly more readable while browsing on a so-called "mobile device" such as a phone or tablet.


 

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The Bombs

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.26.18

In order to keep your sanity in these times, you must stay jaded, but in order to keep your humanity, you can't be too jaded. Be just the right jaded.

I always think I've gotten used to the depravity, but the conspiracy theories being peddled by the rightwingers are:
1. Entirely predictable. Literally what you would script if you were in a forecasting contest.
2. Deeply disturbing and rattling.


 

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Who's wrecking the country?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.18

MM-HMM:

Given 10 statements, five each of fact and opinion, younger Americans correctly identified both the facts and the opinions at higher rates than older Americans did. Forty-four percent of younger people identified all five opinions as opinions, while only 26 percent of older people did. And 18-to-29-year-olds performed more than twice as well as the 65+ set. Of the latter group, only 17 percent classified all five facts as factual statements.

It's even more telling that that - they provide the breakdown on the five statements. The oldest Americans did worst on the questions which were either facts they disliked, or opinions they liked - ie the fact "Immigrants who are in the US illegally have some rights under the Constitution" was correctly categorized by 60% of 18-49 year olds, and just 48% of 50+ year olds.

So conversely, they're most accurate when it serves their confirmation bias. Ie "Abortion should be legal in most cases" was correctly deemed an opinion by 82% of young'ns and 78% of old farts.

WHICH MEANS...that the conservative older Americans are the ones doing the vast majority of wrong answers, and just offsetting their liberal older American counterparts by vast numbers. Ok, maybe you can't quite infer that but I believe it 100% anyway.

Has anyone ever seriously pushed for re-instating the Fairness Doctrine?


 

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Overreacting

Posted by Ogged
on 10.24.18

Literally every time I read Twitter for more than five minutes, I find myself thinking "We need to move to Canada." There's this impulse to "be informed" which means I read Twitter, even as I'm aware that I'm basically dosing myself with the most outrageous events of the day, absent any historical context of just how outrageous they are, or analysis of what they might actually portend. So it's a steady ping of "THIS IS AWFUL AND A SLIPPERY SLOPE TO DOOM!"

The real problem is that it is awful, and it might be a a slippery slope to doom, so I can't quite tear myself away.


 

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Escapism TV

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.24.18

I'm nearing the end of TransParent and looking for my next TV series to slowly chip away at, one or two episodes a week. Maybe three if they're 30 minutes.

I'm not sure how to categorize what kind of shows I like best. I do like comedy, but I tend to watch those with Jammies. I like families and relationships, and I don't find it to be sufficient escapism if it's stressful - violent or overly tense. I'm not big on sci-fi or fantasy, but if it has enough redeeming virtues I can probably look past the nonsense. What shall I watch? The Romanoffs? Crazy Ex Girlfriend?

Also, feel free to discuss any old show here. Just flag it if you're especially trying to say that I might like it.


 

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Races and genders

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.23.18

I haven't posted about the transgender memo because I assumed that it would fall prey to the NPR effect, the flip Fox News side. That there's not much to say, except in solidarity and holy mother of god do I hope we turn out the vote.

Oh, here's something: which race is your personal bellweather as to whether the blue wave materializes? I'm not personally counting on Beto, for example, but Abrams in Georgia plus Gillum in Florida would make me so happy. (On a local level, Erin Zwiener for state house would make me feel like something worthwhile happened.)


 

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HeadStart

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.23.18

This answers something I've long wondered about: that you hear (different) people swear up and down that:
1. Headstart and preK programs are the best returns on the dollar in terms of gains for society and benefits to the participants, and
2. The academic effect wears off around 3rd grade.

I've sort of believed both without knowing how exactly to reconcile them. Thanks, Vox:

Here's an explanation that makes sense of all the research: The benefits of early childhood education aren't coming from the academic skills they teach students. Early childhood education helps because it's reliable daycare.

They walk you through the other pat explanations to ground this conclusion.


 

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Historical Preservation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.18

I am now more aware than I used to be how Historical Preservation Societies can be manipulated into fighting for the preservation of something, by a party with a vested financial interest or other ulterior motive. That doesn't necessarily mean the party with a vested interest is wrong about the historical interest, of course.

There's a case coming down the pipeline locally and I'll put more in the comments, but I'm interested to hear your anecdotes about uses or abuses of HPCs by people with ulterior motives, and what's the correct kind of criteria with which to evaluate whether something old merits preservation.


 

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