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Windfalls

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.15.19

This is sort of interesting: 15 stories of financial windfalls, and what people spent them on.

It's an oddball collection of people, and none of the amounts are really going to change your class status. None of it is multimillion dollar Powerball winnings that befall the yokels in podunkville. It's more along the lines of the 50K inheritance. The common thread seem to be that most of the people are plugged into the kind of educated word-of-mouth scene that passes your story along to magazine editors.


 

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Fuck Beto

Posted by Ogged
on 03.14.19

And fuck Obama, and all the rest of these opportunistic politicians. Other than Warren and Sanders, have any of the Dems running for president ever been full-throated in support of an unpopular position? Go fuck yourselves with your poll-tested populism, you self-aggrandizing striver shits.

That said, don't forget to vote in 2020! Republicans are always worse!

(And it's still going to be President Kamala.)


 

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Door-to-door Contraception

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.14.19

Interesting article sent in by Mos Cha.

Mrs. Abdullahi is part of a team of door-to-door contraceptive saleswomen hired by the family-planning charity Marie Stopes International to bring birth control to women here who can't - or won't - get it elsewhere. The model is part traveling saleswoman, part community health worker, a network of mobile midwives and health workers with a unique selling point. They come to you.
On average, a woman here in Kano state has 7.7 children, according to 2016 data from the National Bureau of Statistics, and about 94 percent of partnered women here don't use any form of contraception.

That's a lot of kids.

The business model of the nonprofit:

Marie Stopes began the program, called the MS Ladies, in 2009 with a pilot program in Madagascar. In 2015, it expanded into several other countries, and now has more than 730 women working in 15 countries, most of them scattered across Africa. And like the Avon Ladies, or the Tupperware party hostesses of yore, they work on commission, turning a small profit for every contraceptive they provide.
"That makes it more sustainable for us because there are no salary costs," says Effiom Effiom, the country director for Marie Stopes Nigeria. Instead, Marie Stopes provides the supplies to its saleswomen - all of them trained health professionals - at a steep discount. The cost is about 60 cents for a three-year birth control implant, for instance, and about 8 cents for a monthly supply of pills, so that providers can sell them cheaply to their clients but also still make a bit of cash. And if a customer can't pay, Marie Stopes does.
Most of the MS Ladies have day jobs as nurses or community health-care workers, so the money isn't the main reason for their work. Still, it doesn't hurt.

This framing seems wise:

[Abdullahi has] learned to hustle her products at the few public events that bring women together, like weddings and baby-naming ceremonies, where she often sidles up to women she doesn't know and asks them, quietly, if they know about child spacing.
That's the way she phrases it, she says, because the idea isn't to wag a finger at women who want big families. Abdullahi herself has seven kids, and says her only goal is to give women control over when they get pregnant.

Before I understood that anti-abortion types are really obsessed with the moment that the little zygotes are formed, I used to wonder why they didn't see abortion as just enabling a different kid, later on. The "child spacing" phrase gets at that idea in a nice way.


 

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Purchasing College Admissions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.13.19

I know the rich-people-buying-college scandal is already being discussed in the threads, but I thought A White Bear had a smart take at the other place:

The same white people who raise the flag of libertarian-style meritocracy when it's some mediocre white kid getting a college rejection are suddenly BORED TO DEATH by the revelation that rich people can buy test scores and influence. They tearfully mourn every Abigail Fisher whose lifelong dream was to C+ her way into UT, but if "her" spot was taken by a CEO's kid, then suddenly--get real, that's how the world works.

and

I guess I wish we were hearing fewer world-weary whatchagonnado recitations and instead we could have just a soup├žon of the mourning we see every time the specter of affirmative action is raised. Or, even better, maybe it would be nice to see some people in the media react by saying, "Wow, I was wrong. Now I understand why it's important to combat the stranglehold wealthy, mostly white people have on access to higher education." Cynicism and ignorance conveniently have in common the lack of an imperative to demand change.

 

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Koch Special Snowflakes

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.13.19

I have an ill-formed post idea that I can't quite articulate. But basically: you know how insanely detailed people get with their obsessions? I'm boggled by the idea that that extreme level of detail and sub-detail and descending turtles happens, regardless of whether the passion is tethered to reality. This book is called "High Vibrational Beauty: Recipes & Rituals for Radical Self Care" and I don't mean to bag on it, but if the shoe fits. I also recently read that people are going nuts drinking celery juice obsessively. It's not just California Hocus Pocus, of course. It's every academic subject, even if you're abiding by strict rules to generate new ideas and content. There's something inherently fractal-like to our brains, and our ability to descend into details at a zooming rate, escalating orders of magnitude, etc.

Is this universal? Do most people have an area of infinite complexity, even if it's just the mundane details of their favorite TV show, or how they prefer to keep their desk organized, or which cars they pass on the way to work? Or is this a trait that only some people have, and other people exist in a much simpler, untroubled state?


 

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Municipal pools

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.12.19

I'm reading the proposed parks & rec Master Plan for Heebieville right now. Heebieville has one outdoors public pool, and one indoor lap pool at the rec center, for a town of about 60K. (Of course, every UMC development since the 90s has its own community pool. But those are not open to the public.) I'm looking, but not able to find a recommended number of pools/thousand residents in a city, but I have a vague memory of hearing 1 pool/10K residents.

The outdoor pool is located in a terrible location - virtually no parking, and thus very under-used. It used to have diving boards and two slides, but those fell into disrepair over the past few years and have been gradually removed. They added in a splash pad area, though.

In the parks master plan, there is discussion of adding more splash pads throughout town, and discussion that the current pool location is terrible, but it's ambiguous as to whether they'd replace it elsewhere or just shut it down. I assume this is because of cost - between insurance and lifeguards and fencing, running a pool is hugely more expensive than a splash pad.

I'm trying to figure out if public pools are something that ought to be provided or not. Clearly, they are still popular, because all new developments have them, and these UMC community pools are heavily used by residents. On the other hand, there are some trends - diving boards are disappearing. In my experience, the newer developments have 2-3 smaller pools that resemble ponds, with sloped access on all sides, and they never get very deep.

For about three months in the summer, if you're going to be outside between 11-4 pm, it needs to involve water. Splash pads are great, but they don't teach water safety. My mom has said to me that Lawrence, Kansas closed their public pools rather than integrate them, and drownings spiked after that.

I looked and looked for data about disappearing public pools, and found articles about individual cities, and about the racist history of public pools, and this article about how minority kids can't swim in alarming numbers, but there does not seem to be much scholarly literature about the general trend of municipal pools and who has access. What I'm looking for is a study that says, "UMC kids have access to private pools and LMC and poor kids don't, and this is the trend line over the past 30 years, as a consequence, UMC kids can pass a water safety test at X% whereas LMC kids pass at Y%."

There are an average of 3,536 non-boating drownings each year in the US. Most of these are kids ages 1-4. That number wouldn't be affected by public pool access. This link says:

Among non-Hispanics, the overall drowning rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) was twice the rate for whites, and the rate for blacks was 1.4 times the rate for whites. Disparities were greatest in swimming pools, with swimming pool drowning rates among blacks aged 5-19 years 5.5 times higher than those among whites in the same age group. This disparity was greatest at ages 11-12 years; at these ages, blacks drown in swimming pools at 10 times the rate of whites.

That is horrifying.

But the bottom line that I'm trying to determine is this: Is learning to swim so that you're safe around water a sufficiently important public good to justify the cost of maintaining public pools?


 

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Venezuela

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.11.19

Maybe a Venezuela thread is in order?

My Venezuelan friends are fervently wishing for intervention, while my lefty friends (ie people from here, at the other place) are pointing to all the places that the US has intervened and left in shambles. (This same dynamic arose with regards to Syria a few years ago.) It leaves me feeling very unsure about how I feel.


 

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Political Balkanization

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.11.19

US Counties vary in their degree of political intolerance. There are some weird details, like acute differences across adjacent counties due to state lines. The survey seems well done - here's a blog post about the methodology - and the narrative tone is appropriately wonkish.

(The thing that's annoying, of course, is that political intolerance on the left means you have a grounded understanding of the world, and political intolerance on the right means you watch a lot of Fox News. )

Still, I think there is something important being measured by identifying the counties in the middle. For one, it doesn't seem to just be detecting the uninformed centrists, which would be a rather dull conclusion.

Here's my theory as to what might be going on in a midrange county: I think the political intolerance is measuring the degree of balkanization of the state.

Assorted thoughts:

1. Remember when very white Republican states like Nebraska were surprisingly pro-Obama in 2008, and it revealed a phenomenon where racial tensions are highest when there's a mid-grade amount of diversity, but not enough to force tolerance? But when there's no diversity, people haven't spent too much time and energy developing animosity.

2. In Texas, loathing effete liberals is very much part of the intense white rural thing. It goes hand in hand with faux-rustic intentionally-distressed furniture and aggressively petulant feelings of persecution. I believe that Texas is highly balkanized, by which I mean locally segregated by wealth, race, and political identity.

3. The degree to which the local Republican party is the Orange County business class greed vs the Guns, God, & Ammo crowd. I imagine the Business class - like my in-laws - will roll their eyes at me but not be filled with loathing, whereas the GG&A crowd would actually have malice in their hearts for me. On the liberal side, I'm not sure if lefties have more patience for greedy business types or GG&A types - I don't have a sense of a trend, there.


 

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London Meetup!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.10.19

Minivet writes: I'm vacationing in London next month - March 4-17, before the Thing happens. Anyone available for a meetup there during?

Heebie's take: plan away, you crazy kids.

Bump & Update: Let's try for Monday 11 March, which seems accommodating to most. Location ideas?

Bumped Otra Vez!


 

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Guest Post - Weekend Longread: Stopped Clocks

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.10.19

Mossy Character writes: Western Sahara:

The wall keeping the foes apart stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the mountains of Morocco, roughly the distance from New York City to Dallas.
[...]
On December 5th [2018], for the first time in six years, negotiations were held in an effort to initiate a resolution to the conflict. To the surprise of longtime observers, the talks proceeded civilly and the parties agreed to meet again in several months. Officials present told me that President Trump's new national-security adviser, John Bolton, played an important role in getting the groups to the table. "John Bolton and the enormous engagement the Americans are now putting in helped a lot," a senior official close to the talks told me.
[...]
"During the last six months, we have registered, I think, eighty-six demonstrations that were stopped or repressed," [a Sahrawi activist] said.
[...]
King Mohammed VI has said that, for every dirham of profit that Morocco makes in the Western Sahara, it spends seven.
[...]
An anti-slavery organizer in neighboring Mauritania told me that he thought war and hardship had transformed Sahrawi society and that racism is now rare. "This may have been the only good thing that came from this war," he said.
(The war was bigger and messier than the article indicates.)
POLISARIO waged an active war against Morocco and Mauritania, frequently bringing the fighting into their prewar territory. In June 1976 POLISARIO succeeded in launching a dramatic attack against the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, 900 miles distant. France became involved in late 1977, carrying out aerial attacks on POLISARIO camps in support of Mauritania and Morocco. The war, however, took a heavy economic toll, which contributed to a coup in Mauritania (10 July 1978). By the Algiers Agreement (5 Aug. 1979), the new Mauritanian government made peace with POLISARIO and surrendered its claims in Western Sahara. Mauritania subsequently severed relations with Morocco and allowed POLISARIO to operate from its territory, while King Hassan claimed the reversion of the former Mauritanian area.
The war now intensified, being carried at times into Morocco proper. This led Morocco to develop a strong defensive strategy, involving a heavy defensive perimeter around the 'useful triangle' which contained most of the mineral deposits and the southern port of Dakhla (completed 1982). The largest battle of the war was at Guelta Zemmour (13 Oct. 1981), where 3,000 POLISARIO soldiers with tanks defeated 200 Moroccans. POLISARIO's introduction of Soviet-made SAM-6 missiles led to a dramatic increase in United States aid for Morocco. Desultory fighting continued until May 1988, when Algeria dramatically abandoned POLISARIO and resumed relations with Morocco.

Heebie's take: The first article makes John Bolton look good. I don't know enough to analyze that. (I suppose that's what Mocha meant by "stopped clocks".)


 

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