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Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 12/19

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.19.20

This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.

Episode 59.


 

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Risk

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.19.20

I'm having complicated feelings about being swept up in systems that are not behaving very safely around Covid. Basically, we breached our seal when Jammies had to teach in person and we sent the kids back to school. Once you breach your seal, it's an entirely different world.

Since then there are these incremental systems that you get swept up in. For example: there are not caps in the number of kids they're putting in a classroom. Hawaii had a winter performance as part of her dance class at school. The dancers all wore masks and spread out. There was no social distancing for the crowd in the bleachers, though, aside from what anti-social people carved out for themselves. The concessions were sold inside the gym, past the ticketing location, instead of outside the ticketing spot to be eaten outside, like had been promised beforehand. To not attend would have carried a high personal cost.

But at the same time, statistical risk is a series of rolls of the dice. It doesn't accumulate. If you did a bunch of risky things and made it through to December 19th without getting sick, you are in exactly the same spot as if you made it December 19th playing it very safe, and didn't get sick. Risk does not have a memory. (People of course have memories, and their experience of October and November affects their ability to plan safely for December.) People are not very good at living with statistical risk. We personally don't go to restaurants, bars, or gyms, but if we were caught up in a system that made those things normative, it would feel like we were constantly faced with decisions with a higher personal cost.

We're absolutely swimming in Covid at this point, nationally. We would have lost our goddamn minds in March to know that 250K daily new infections would be the norm in December. And yet we're caught up in systems that make it incredibly hard to respond safely, once you have a breach.

We're driving to Denver tomorrow. We'll be sharing households with a lot of other people. Our mitigating plan is to wear masks in the house for 48 hours. It's both sincere and makes me feel better, and full of holes as a safety plan, and also helps me save face when I tell people that we're travelling.

Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some Sh*t. And then there's horrendous things like this, just cultivating the covid soup we're swimming in.

(via)


 

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Who's zooming who?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.18.20

Austin is sooooooo hot rn and Elon Musk is going to bring a revolution to Houston and we'll all be spunky cowboy disrupters.

Austin, for its part, is not experiencing a pandemic-induced tech worker surge. Last year, Austin was gaining 2.06 tech workers for every one that left; now it's down to 1.84, a drop of 10.78%. Though Austin is still gaining tech workers this year, the notion that 2020 was a watershed year for tech workers moving there is a myth.
Miami is another buzzy city among people trying to anoint the next Silicon Valley. "If you're an entrepreneur, it is probably easier to raise a VC round in Miami right now than CA," said venture capitalist Keith Rabois last week. But that might be because the supply of VCs outweighs the demand from tech talent. Miami is gaining tech workers faster this year than last but not dramatically, an increase of 3%, according to LinkedIn.

what. Maybe they're disrupters of conventional wisdom?

What else is going on?

The country's biggest tech migration increase took place in Madison. The city was gaining 1.02 tech workers for each one that left last year, and it's now gaining 1.77, a 74% jump. Sacramento and Richmond, meanwhile, were losing tech workers before the pandemic and have turned it around. Sacramento was adding a fraction of a tech worker -- 0.87 -- for each one that left last year, and now it's adding 1.02. Richmond was adding 0.95 last year, and it's adding 1.06 this year. Other Midwest cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio, have significantly reduced the rate at which tech workers were leaving their cities.

I have to imagine that Madison's growth is because of Epic, a health care software company.

Also, it seems like these fluctuations could all be noise anyway. The link doesn't show what the trends have been for the past five years. Then I went to the linked in data page and got bogged down and stalled out altogether on this post. That was a few hours ago, so let's just post this.

via CC on the DL


 

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Reasonable

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.17.20

High School math classes are important because students develop their logic and reasoning skills. Ideally, students are left with the ability and confidence in their own reasoning and logic to help them represent situations symbolically and use logical principals to draw useful conclusions.

Dec%2017%2C%202020.jpg

This confidence in the one's ability to see the point of abstract reasoning will guide the student through a long and happy career.

via Jammies, in a demoralizing context



 

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Stimulus Deal

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.17.20

I guess Republicans like universal checks because they're secret fans of UBI reminiscent of game show prizes that they get to bestow. And I certainly understand why they want liability protection for businesses.

I'm not totally clear why they're so opposed to aid to states and local governments, though. There are more red states than blue states. There are tons of small, red towns who could use the money. Surely they could rig something so that it disproportionately benefits rural areas as a bargaining chip. I could see them trying to minimize the price tag while Democrats want to increase it, but the $0 makes it seem like some weird principle they are hanging on to. Is it just the general principle of strangling government's ability to do its job?


 

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Vaccines and Masks

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.16.20

There's a graphic that I wanted to grab from this Vox article, but it's large and unwieldy. In short, it breaks down the numbers in the US according to tiers of priority for vaccinations.

1. Health workers and nursing home residents and staff: 24 million
2. Essential workers: 87 million
3. Adults with high-risk medical conditions and those over 65 years old: > 150 million
4. Rest of the US population: 69 million

I'd been thinking that group 4 was "the vast majority of us". But it's actually a pretty small portion of the general population. And yet it contains possibly the vast majority of privileged UMC adults: those with cush enough jobs to work from home through all of this.

My question is: how many of these privileged, entitled people will really stand for being the last 20% vaccinated? Or will they butt in line somehow?

My second question is whether or not "essential" is the same as "being forced to work outside of the house". As far as risk and contagion goes, anyone who has to support themselves by working outside of the house is at about the same level of risk. But if we were paying people to stay home, many of those jobs wouldn't be considered essential to the country in any sense. So I don't know who is included in that 87 million.

My last question is about masks. It seems to be a common question on FAQ lists whether or not you can stop wearing a mask after you're vaccinated. IMO, the answers are all a little sketchy, and dodging the real issue:

CNN:

Here's what the studies don't yet show. They haven't looked at whether the vaccine prevents someone from carrying Covid-19 and spreading it to others. It's possible that someone could get the vaccine but could still be an asymptomatic carrier. They may not show symptoms, but they have the virus in their nasal passageway so that if they're speaking, breathing, sneezing and so on, they can still transmit it to others.
This is the main reason why we can't stop wearing masks right after we get the vaccine. The vaccine will protect you from getting ill and then ending up hospitalized. But it's possible that you could still carry the virus and be contagious to others. So those who get the vaccine should still be wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.

AP:

Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
No. For a couple reasons, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated.
To start, the first coronavirus vaccines require two shots; Pfizer's second dose comes three weeks after the first and Moderna's comes after four weeks. And the effect of vaccinations generally aren't immediate.
People are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot. But full protection may not happen until a couple weeks after the second shot.
It's also not yet known whether the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect people from infection entirely, or just from symptoms. That means vaccinated people might still be able to get infected and pass the virus on, although it would likely be at a much lower rate, said Deborah Fuller, a vaccine expert at the University of Washington.

CDC:

There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

These are all bullshit answers, because we'd need people to wear masks even if we knew for sure that it was safe for them to take them off.

The real reason is that mask-wearing requires collective action and signalling and mass cooperation, and you're still part of the collective, and it will all fall apart if some people no longer have to wear masks. It's the same reason we make all people who have had Covid continue to wear masks, even though they're a very low risk of transmission. (I don't think generally healthy young adults are the ones getting Covid twice.) But that is impossible to explain convincingly to a general audience.

I guess that wasn't a question.


 

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Ads

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.15.20

The thing is, between Netflix and the rest of it, our kids have really not seen many commercials. They binge them at my in-laws house, but rarely see them at home. (Of course they're exposed to many advertisements - just not commercials, strictly speaking.)

Now that I take Hawaii to middle school, we listen to the local pop radio station, and she's fascinated by the ads - local, cheap, etc. "How do they possibly work?" she asked. "They are just literally saying 'Buy our stuff!' But of course they'd say that! They just want you to buy their stuff!" From the mouths of babes.

It's possible that in the age of influencers and whatnot, conventional advertising will sound so tinny to the youths as to be counterproductive. OTOH, maybe they've always sounded tinny and it's never been a problem, because the point is just to plant the name in your head.

(Filed under: things I saved for when I have nothing to post)


 

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Guest Post - Bro Culture

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.14.20

Chill writes: I thought this piece did a really good job of exploring one subculture of masculinity. And middle ages chivalry, too! I thought it was strongest in laying out the the links between community-building within and exploitation (commercial and political) of that community. In the 21st century we can't have anything positive without someone finding an algorithm to exploit it for profit and power, right? And there are real positives to bro culture: celebrating doing hard things, mixing socially at the gym with people of diverse backgrounds, feeling able to rise in status through dedication. I have two teenage boys myself so figuring out which online communities might suck them in is an intermittent personal source of anxiety. Neither of them seems likely to go down this particular path, but they have certainly been touched by tendrils of it. Lots of good pull quotes but I was too lazy/hurried to organize some.

Heebie's take: IMHO, this author is describing an interesting thing, but he's not very good at analyzing it. I would have framed this as "Male Gym Culture and how it intersects with Bro culture, Chivalry, and Toxic Rightwing Masculinity." (Is it too much to go with "Male Gym Culture And Intersectionality"?)

Basically, what he calls Bros (but I'd call Gym Rats) are governed by some general principals:
1. intense physicality and obsession with physical metrics,
2. meritocracy (in some sense). I think he means the sacred and central belief that you are personally responsible for becoming the best version of yourself, and you should always look at your own behavior as to why you're not there yet.

On that point, this is insightful:

In a moment of stagnant social mobility, rising inequality, and incredible uncertainty around the future, this strongly visual message of self-betterment and improving one's socioeconomic status through literal sweat can resonate deeply. It's all within the individual's control, if they simply work enough - an antidote to all that uncertainty, everything that's so obviously beyond an individual's control and reckoning, no matter how misleading and incomplete the formula actually is.
That's especially appealing to the many millions of American men who don't have college degrees (many more of them than women, given the gendered trends in undergraduate enrollment) who are effectively locked out of professional-managerial culture and its straightforward path into the comfortable upper-middle class. Accomplishment through physical prowess is thus a means of building both a sense of self and community.

Gym culture is 100% about a sense of control over one's destiny. It's not a priori a bad thing, unless it's out of balance with the rest of life.

So then he starts talking about how it can go dark - how the obsession with maximizing and perfecting your health leaves you open to snake oil. And these days if you're being shilled snake oil, there's probably a giant pat of rightwing supremacy somewhere nearby. Fantasies about the military, guns, and police officers also figure in here.

On the whole, I 100% recognize the culture he's describing from my time at the gym. There's a healthy version and an unhealthy obsession version.

On the topic of raising boys, I think it is a good idea, from a young age, that they practice the following skills often:
1. labeling and verbalizing their emotions,
2. imagining and describing what someone else may be feeling in a situation
3. navigate uncomfortable conversations about emotions. Specifically, learning how to handle a moment when they are flooded and want to bail on the conversation - how to take some time and then return to the conversation. And also how to have a conversation without only wanting to force implementation of what they see as the solution.

That isn't specifically to Chill, as his boys are older than mine, and I haven't yet had teenage boys. I don't yet have boys with secrets and boundaries, where you hope to maintain open conversation but you know that it's age-appropriate for you to be in the dark, and you hope that you're not in the dark about any toxic online subcultures.


 

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Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 12/13

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.13.20

This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.

Episode 58


 

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Guest Post - The Lincoln Project

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.13.20

Nick S. writes: Were they effective in the election, Rick Wilson says, "yes" (he would, but it's an interesting interview):

We moved former Republicans, independents and current Republicans over what we call the Bannon Line. Steve Bannon, who is no fan of us, said, early in the process, if these guys can move 2% or 3% of the Republican vote, Trump is gonna lose. Well, from the metrics we're showing, in the swing states, where we spent I would say 80% to 85% of our resources, we moved the Bannon Line, and crossover Republican votes, between 9% and 13%.
That is a huge accomplishment. We are enormously proud of the work we did. We played, as we said from the very beginning, a game of small numbers. I was not out there trying to convert Trump voters. I was not, for the most part, trying to fire up Democratic voters. We were building a campaign from the very start that was meant to do certain things. The No. 1 thing was blocking. We saw already that a lot of Republicans had drifted away from the party in 2018. And they were primarily female, they were primarily better educated.

Heebie's take: Part 1, Part 2.

It's an interesting read. It feels a bit like after 2008 and 2016 when we found out how surprisingly targeted Obama's campaign and Russian interference had been. These guys were definitely fine-tuning their ads with a scalpel.

More on the blocking ads, mentioned above:

It's the sort of the negative aspirational concept. Where you're saying to people, you're not just making a political decision, you're buying into a whole lifestyle. Is your lifestyle the Alt-Right and the screamers and the crazies and the QAnon and the Confederate flag and the Charlottesville boys? We understood the social power of those ads to block those Republicans who split from the party from coming back. We understood that pushing that angle was a central mission.
Where were you pushing that angle specifically? Places, you know, like Cobb County, Georgia, and Macomb County, Michigan, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and Maricopa County, Arizona. These are educated suburban areas. We were flipping and inverting the old Southern Strategy, which was the not-so-subtle It's-us-or-the-Black-people message of the old Republican Party--and frankly, the new one, even more explicitly now. We were essentially saying, you know, "Make your choice. You can be with them, or you can be with us."
At the same time, he's still a gross scoundrel who is not actually progressive in any way. He doesn't like Trump, and he really doesn't like Bannon.

It occurs to me that Democrats ought to hire marketers and ad makers who are motivated by greed, money, and winning, and not hire marketers based on how fervently they believe the party message they're selling. I don't know whether we do that or not, but I assume it varies.


 

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