Snarkout writes: India Walton is a Black nurse and SEIU rep who just edged out Byron Brown, the four-term machine Democrat mayor of Buffalo in the primary; she's running unopposed in the fall, although there's talk that someone (Brown? The loathsome Carl Paladino?) will try to mount a write-in campaign because Walton is a scary, scary socialist. I thought this brief profile of her--and who she draws inspiration from (Frank Zeidler) and why she intends to be only a one-term mayor--was interesting, despite being written before the primary.
Heebie's take: This will make you feel good to read it.
Walton believes Buffalo deserves better than it's gotten. Not through billions poured into empty revitalization or a tech hub, but by investing in housing, health care, and community.
had me nodding along. The tech-sector-saviorism mentality of far-flung cities drives me up the wall. "If we only give away enough of our money, we will attract a fancy company to save us all!" Keep your money and invest in your actual community.
Mossy sends in the horrifying link Sexual Violence and the War in Tigray.
This scale of trauma is kinda incomprehensible. There's some interesting stuff in there about how wartime rape is not a blanket descriptor - different armed groups have vastly different dynamics regarding it:
An armed group's pattern of wartime sexual violence can reflect that organization's characteristics. Previous work on sexual violence in armed conflict identifies that gang rape is a tactic of sexual violence often used by rebel groups that practice forced recruitment and militaries that practice press-ganging. Dara Kay Cohen's work on the dynamics of sexual violence in civil war illuminates how such taboo forms of violence emerge to socialize combatants, particularly those forced into armed groups, transforming strangers into cohesive groups of combatants. Her work demonstrates that rape can be commonly practiced without being ordered.
In other instances, combatants are given direct orders. After the Rwandan genocide, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The claims against her included that she "ordered women and girls to be raped." In Rwanda, Bosnia and Myanmar, sexual violence was a tool of ethnic cleansing or genocide, alongside mass killings.
This is all to say that not all armed groups engage in sexual violence and different armed groups have different patterns of wartime sexual violence. Whereas some rebel groups have strict prohibitions on such unauthorized violence and enforce these guidelines, other rebel groups tolerate sexual violence as an unauthorized practice and still others order or authorize it as a formal policy. Though oft-described as a "weapon of war," conflict-related sexual violence can serve different purposes for different non-state armed groups and can emerge either as a function of the rebel group's characteristics or from direct orders from the leadership.
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.
I was at a talk the other day where the speaker studies misdiagnoses and their causes and how to fix them. First, apparently 12 million misdiagnoses are made per year in the US.
I was beyond delighted that are focusing on physician's lack of feedback as a major missing step (along with checklists and overconfidence and other problems) because it's been driving me crazy for years that there's no mechanism for you to inform your first doc and get them to avoid repeat mistakes, when your later doc re-diagnoses you and cleans up after the first. (It sounds like implementing a workable feedback loop is not going that well, though, due to people being overwhelmed by emails and not really adopting yet another source of info to incorporate into their daily lives. To me, that sounds like they're having trouble getting doctors to buy in to the premise and as it applies to themselves.)
It reminded me that I had heard Kahneman has a new book out, Noise, about statistical noise in decision-making, like the variability in doctors making diagnoses or judges handing out sentences.
Here are some problems of book clubs: we never have quite enough volunteers, and I personally am the world's slowest reader currently, so I usually just haven't picked up the book. But I think I'll try reading this one. If there are volunteers who'd like to pick up a section, let me know and we'll make a plan. (Otherwise I'll just post about it as it suits me.)
NickS writes: The Mother Jones profile of Kyrsten Sinema is fascinating, sometimes frustrating, and offers no simple summary:
Unite and Conquer was written under siege. It's a theory of resisting destructive changes--and pushing through incremental good ones--from someone who spent her 20s being ignored and her 30s in a legislature that was quickly descending into the Bad Place. In 2010, the new Republican governor, Jan Brewer, would sign SB 1070, which subjected Latino residents to mass racial profiling. The same year, Republican legislators challenged the president to produce his birth certificate; just before that, they'd sold off the Capitol to generate revenue.
As conservatives in the state ramped up their attacks on undocumented families and allied themselves with the violent Minutemen movement--armed vigilantes who patrolled the border and detained migrants themselves--Sinema fused her old activism with a new influence. She'd always opposed border fencing projects. Now she ramped up her work as a legal observer with the ACLU and a group called No More Deaths, whose members hiked deep into the desert to leave jugs of water for migrants crossing over the border. After Sinema got her law degree and joined the legislature, she would sometimes sit at night in a pickup truck with binoculars on the dirt road paralleling the border outside Douglas, monitoring the Minutemen's actions for illegal activity. No More Deaths used scanners to track the group's movements and barged in to disrupt their patrols.
As an outspoken critic of SB 1070, Sinema worked with colleagues to strip the law of language that would have forced hospitals to report on the legal status of patients to police. But activists wanted to go further than that; they wanted to go on offense. So they organized a recall drive for the bill's lead sponsor, Russell Pearce, the Senate president. The problem: Sinema and Pearce had become buddies. (Unite and Conquer chapter five: "Make Friends.")
Pearce was defeated, and at a tense community meeting afterward, Sinema was asked by an immigration activist why she hadn't helped with the recall.
Pearce, she replied, was her boss.
Her answer stunned the room--someone else in the audience asked if they really heard her right. Yes, Sinema confirmed--Pearce, as Senate president, was her boss; antagonizing him would have made it harder to get things done. "She just didn't show up," the recall campaign's lead organizer would say later. To them, recalling Pearce was getting things done. In doing so, they previewed a new power dynamic in state politics and a coalition that would change the culture of the state. The Pearce recall was powered by both Mexican American activists and progressives as well as moderate Mormons in his district. They, too, had united and conquered.
Even as she was sitting out the recall, Sinema was working alongside Pearce on an "anti-trafficking" measure that critics feared would open families of undocumented residents to criminal penalties. Confused by her apparent shift, Ilardo, who had known Sinema since they'd been social workers in the same school district, sent her a long email wondering what had happened. How, she wanted to know, could someone who had walked the migrant trail with No More Deaths get to this point? She never heard back.
Heebie's take: That is really interesting. But they are reading way too much into her activism as a young adult and clearly wishing that that was her real self. Based on reading that, my take is that the common lifetime thread is ambition and wanting attention (but not frivolous attention like MTG or Boebert.) As a young adult, being a forthright activist was the best kind of attention. In the Republican legislature, being able to reach across the aisle was the next achievement to unlock. Now in the Senate, she wants the McCain-maverick attention.
That's my best guess, at least. It's not a good look.
From her family's struggle with poverty during her childhood to her Green Party roots, her rise is the story of striving and adaptation, and of the transformation not just of an idealist, but of a state--from a Republican stronghold she once dubbed the "meth lab of democracy" to a bona fide battleground.
"Meth lab of democracy" is funny though.
Barry writes: Hello fellow NYC area reprobates. I'm back in the area and will be staying in Manhattan from about June 12th until June 23rd (though possibly until June 26th) and I'd love to have a meetup with the commentariat. Lurkers are most welcome. Please sound off as to what day would be most suitable, and suggest locations too (allow me to pre-empt you all and be the first to suggest Fresh Salt).
I respond: Irritatingly in this context (although enjoyably in general) I'm out of town all next week, so if I'm going to show it's got to be the 20th-23d. But there's no reason there couldn't be two meetups. Carrotflowers -- if you can make it, you're our first new lurker in ages.
Details: Tuesday 6/22 at 6, at Under The Volcano, 12 E36th. I believe nosflow has made a reservation but I couldn't tell you in what name.