27 March, 2020

Some good news

You know the nightmare scenarios I’ve been telling you about? If we treat this like the seasonal flu we could get over 800,000 dead people. Well, here is good news.
We are not going to get the nightmare scenarios. Why?
It is not that the modeling was wrong. Actually, the modeling has been fairly accurate. The modeling is precisely why Governor Kemp has not locked down all of Georgia, for example. The modeling, it turns out, has been right.
That includes all the modeling — including the part that showed if we changed our behavior we could avoid the nightmare scenarios.
Because you and I have changed our behaviors, we are seeing good news in the data. There is still a lot to be troubled by and there are still shortages and problems ahead. But for most of the country, we are turning the corner. It’s going to take a bit longer to see for sure, but the data is really encouraging.

24 March, 2020

How to Talk to Coronavirus Skeptics

In general, people use experts all the time, and most of us don’t spend a lot of time second-guessing experts on most issues. There are some definite exceptions to that. If we have reason to believe that people are dishonest or incompetent, then we may be skeptical. But, when it comes to science, the big exception has to do with what I’ve written about, which is implicatory denial. That is to say, we reject scientific findings because we don’t like their implications.

All of the major areas where we see resistance to scientific findings in contemporary life fall into this category. So if you ask yourself, Why do people reject the evidence of evolution? It’s not because evolutionary theory is a bad theory, or a weak theory scientifically, or that we don’t have good evidence for it. It’s because some people think that it implies that there’s no God, or that it implies that life is meaningless and has no purpose, or that it’s all just random and nihilistic. If we think about vaccinations, it’s a similar sort of thing. It’s not that the science of immunology is a bad science or a weak science. It’s not that the people who reject immunization really understand immunology and have an intellectual critique. It’s a matter of, if their children are autistic, they feel upset that their children have a quite devastating disease and modern medical science doesn’t have an explanation for it. So they feel upset and they want an explanation, and so they turn to something like vaccinations, and they say, “Well, that’s the cause.” And so on and so forth with climate change, et cetera.

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

Finally, it’s a good time to stock up on compassion. Everyone will have different levels of fear and grief and it manifests in different ways. A coworker got very snippy with me the other day and I thought, That’s not like this person; that’s how they’re dealing with this. I’m seeing their fear and anxiety. So be patient. Think about who someone usually is and not who they seem to be in this moment.
One particularly troubling aspect of this pandemic is the open-endedness of it.
This is a temporary state. It helps to say it. I worked for 10 years in the hospital system. I’ve been trained for situations like this. I’ve also studied the Spanish Flu. The precautions we’re taking are the right ones. History tells us that. This is survivable. We will survive. This is a time to overprotect but not overreact.

America’s coronavirus response failed because we didn’t understand the complexity of the problem.

In the United States and Europe, the die is mostly cast for the immediate future. But understanding our failures leading up to this moment isn’t an abstract exercise. Maybe we will muddle through the next few months, at great cost. But we will still need all the systemic thinking we can muster to anticipate the second and third order effects that will follow this crisis. And if we hope to blunt the impact of others like it, let’s not forget, again, that all of our lives are, together, embedded in highly complex systems.

23 March, 2020

Hold the line

First, we are in the very infancy of this epidemic’s trajectory. That means even with these measures we will see cases and deaths continue to rise globally, nationally, and in our own communities in the coming weeks. This may lead some people to think that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. They may feel futile. They aren’t. You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos. But this is normal epidemic trajectory. Stay calm. This enemy that we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not my opinion; this is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. I want to help the community brace for this impact. Stay strong and with solidarity knowing with absolute certainty that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people begin getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say

Just as generals take the lead in giving daily briefings in wartime — as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf did during the Persian Gulf war — medical experts should be at the microphone now to explain complex ideas like epidemic curves, social distancing and off-label use of drugs.
The microphone should not even be at the White House, scientists said, so that briefings of historic importance do not dissolve into angry, politically charged exchanges with the press corps, as happened again on Friday.
Instead, leaders must describe the looming crisis and the possible solutions in ways that will win the trust of Americans.
Above all, the experts said, briefings should focus on saving lives and making sure that average wage earners survive the coming hard times — not on the stock market, the tourism industry or the president’s health. There is no time left to point fingers and assign blame.
“At this point in the emergency, there’s little merit in spending time on what we should have done or who’s at fault,” said Adm. Tim Ziemer, who was the coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative from 2006 until early 2017 and led the pandemic response unit on the National Security Council before its disbanding.
“We need to focus on the enemy, and that’s the virus.”

22 March, 2020


We live disaggregated lives. We are disaggregated physically, many of us living far from family and home base. We are disaggregated sociologically, many of us shuttling between contexts that don’t touch one another, compartmentalized social and civic habits compounded now by online engagement. We are also disaggregated morally, the elites we once trusted to lead either offended by the idea that there could be a shared compass in pluralistic times, or themselves so corrupted in character and vision that it’s hopeless to defer in their direction.
And so we resort to an ancient survival mechanism activated when fear is kicked up and identities of all kinds are under siege: Find your team and defend it. It’s your only shot at significance and psychic sanity.

21 March, 2020

How to Survive a Plague

These weeks of confinement can be seen also, it seems to me, as weeks of a national retreat, a chance to reset and rethink our lives, to ponder their fragility. I learned one thing in my 20s and 30s in the AIDS epidemic: Living in a plague is just an intensified way of living. It merely unveils the radical uncertainty of life that is already here, and puts it into far sharper focus. We will all die one day, and we will almost all get sick at some point in our lives; none of this makes sense on its own (especially the dying part). The trick, as the great religions teach us, is counterintuitive: not to seize control, but to gain some balance and even serenity in absorbing what you can’t.
There may be moments in this great public silence when we learn and relearn this lesson. Because we will need to relearn it, as I’m rediscovering in this surreal flashback to a way of living I once knew. Plague living is almost seasonal for humans. Like the spring which insists on arriving.
See you next Friday.

20 March, 2020

“They Ignored the Warning Signs”: A New York City ER Doctor Explains What She’s Up Against

What are you seeing on the ground in the ER right now?
It’s changing every day. A point I want to emphasize, though, is that the federal government set us up for failure. They should have paid attention to what the forecasters were saying months ago, but they ignored the warning signs and stuck their heads in the sand. The underreporting and under-testing has made us fundamentally unable to combat this effectively. The New York [state] government has been remarkable; [Governor Andrew] Cuomo has been doing a great job. But the lack of federal oversight means that there will be pockets of success and pockets of failure. It makes it that much harder for us to combat this on a global level. On the ground, I’m seeing health care professionals do their best to catch up. New York has the highest number of infections of all the states in America, and we’re going to see that number increase exponentially.
The testing criteria is changing day to day, but we are not able to test enough people—just a fraction of the patients we see are getting tested. People who live with their 85-year-old grandmother and are displaying symptoms are not getting tested. People who have symptoms [and] need a positive test in order to keep getting paid by their employers while they’re not working are not getting tested. Right now, we are saving the tests for people who are in critical condition.
We’re all wearing as much PPE [personal protective equipment] as possible, including goggles that were given to us by the hospital. But we don’t know how long the supplies are going to last.

18 March, 2020

Coronavirus Ravages 7 Members of a Single Family, Killing 2

Grace Fusco — mother of 11, grandmother of 27 — would sit in the same pew at church each Sunday, surrounded by nearly a dozen members of her sprawling Italian-American family. Sunday dinners drew an even larger crowd to her home in central New Jersey.

Now, her close-knit clan is united anew by unspeakable grief: Mrs. Fusco, 73, and four of her children are hospitalized with coronavirus. Two children who contracted the virus have died in the last week.

Mrs. Fusco’s eldest child, Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, of Freehold, N.J., died Friday with the virus, a relative said. Her eldest son, Carmine Fusco, of Bath, Pa., died on Wednesday, said the relative, Roseann Paradiso Fodera.

Three of the four siblings who remain hospitalized are in critical condition, Ms. Paradiso Fodera said.

17 March, 2020

Don’t Feel Sorry for the Airlines

For American Airlines, the nation’s largest airline, the mid to late 2010s were what the Bible calls “years of plenty.”
In 2014, having reduced competition through mergers and raised billions of dollars in new baggage-fee revenue, American began reaching stunning levels of financial success. In 2015, it posted a $7.6 billion profit — compared, for example, to profits of about $500 million in 2007 and less than $250 million in 2006. It would continue to earn billions in profit annually for the rest of the decade. “I don’t think we’re ever going to lose money again,” the company’s chief executive, Doug Parker, said in 2017.
There are plenty of things American could have done with all that money. It could have stored up its cash reserves for a future crisis, knowing that airlines regularly cycle through booms and busts. It might have tried to decisively settle its continuing contract disputes with pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. It might have invested heavily in better service quality to try to repair its longstanding reputation as the worst of the major carriers.
Instead, American blew most of its cash on a stock buyback spree. From 2014 to 2020, in an attempt to increase its earnings per share, American spent more than $15 billion buying back its own stock. It managed, despite the risk of the proverbial rainy day, to shrink its cash reserves. At the same time it was blowing cash on buybacks, American also began to borrow heavily to finance the purchase of new planes and the retrofitting of old planes to pack in more seats. As early as 2017 analysts warned of a risk of default should the economy deteriorate, but American kept borrowing. It has now accumulated a debt of nearly $30 billion, nearly five times the company’s current market value.

16 March, 2020

Integrated Operations and Incident Command

This is what to do first, as your organization begins to work out plans and resources for reducing the slope of infection counts and raising the ceiling on health care capacity:
We believe the only successful working model for a response of this complexity among conditions this dynamic is to immediately instantiate an operations body with direct access to executive decision making.
The staff you recruit to work as incident lead in this operations body must be someone experienced with incident command, production operations, or emergency response at or near the executive level.
A successfully integrated operations body will have these features [...]

15 March, 2020

From the Trenches …

Everyone I work with seems resigned to a sense of impending doom, and an expectation that we will all be infected in the weeks ahead, and that we have no alternative course of action without abandoning our patients.
Many coworkers live with their parents, immunocompromised family members, etc, and are terrified about what they will do when they get sick. Live in a call room? stay in a hotel? not go home for 2 months? We’re slowly changing our operations, adding staffing, infectious screeners, etc – but there is organizational resistance to make the big changes that are already necessary. Despite near-daily reports from Italy of WWII-era triage decisions, shortages of key equipment, PPE, etc – we are still operating as if we can add a couple shifts to the schedule and otherwise operate normally. We’re not isolating URI patients from other patients in the waiting room, nor keeping them out of the “clean” areas of the hospital. We still have zero ability to test anyone who isn’t critically ill. We’re still using PPE for individual patients, discarding it, then using a new set for every patient. This would obviously be appropriate under any other circumstances, however we have recently been told that we will run out of PPE, most likely masks, within several days. Colleagues in the NYC area report that in the last few days there has been a surge of ill ARDS/covid patients, including one facility which intubated 5 of these patients in a single 12 hour stretch. In addition they have been told only to wear masks if intubating because of shortages … Reports from China suggest Covid patients typically require ventilators for 2+ weeks before improving.

14 March, 2020

He has 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer and nowhere to sell them

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.
“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

11 March, 2020

When Women Run

One hundred years after women were granted the right to vote, the U.S. has more women in political office than ever before. Yet gender has been a major theme of the 2020 campaign, as candidates, voters and the media debate whether a woman can win the presidency. To better understand what it’s really like to try and win an election as a woman, we spoke to women from every state who have done it — 97 women in all.
These are their stories, in their words.

08 March, 2020

How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts

When the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first published their research on “deaths of despair” five years ago, they focused on middle-aged whites. So many white working-class Americans in their 40s and 50s were dying of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse that the overall mortality rate for the age group was no longer falling – a rare and shocking pattern in a modern society.
But as Case and Deaton continued digging into the data, it became clear that the grim trends didn’t apply only to middle-aged whites. Up and down the age spectrum, deaths of despair have been surging for people without a four-year college degree:

Corona Panic


Here’s German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer in his book Risk Savvy:

People aren’t stupid. The problem is that our educational system has an amazing blind spot concerning risk literacy. We teach our children the mathematics of certainty—geometry and trigonometry—but not the mathematics of uncertainty, statistical thinking. And we teach our children biology but not the psychology that shapes their fears and desires. Even experts, shockingly, are not trained how to communicate risks to the public in an understandable way.

07 March, 2020

Coronavirus isn't the Flu, and Politicians aren't the experts

I am a former politician who has worked in education for the last nearly twenty years, so I am not a medical expert. But, I had a baptism in virus, infection, and immune systems last year that gives me a unique perspective on the coronavirus debate as a wife and mother. I also was the Governor (acting Governor if you want) during 9-11, and my husband and I had just invested significant savings into a small business in 2008/9, so I also have some experience with fear-induced recessions from multiple perspectives. I've been reflecting on those personal and professional experiences as I've tried to give counsel to those making difficult coronavirus decisions. I have also had to make some hard coronavirus decisions recently. And, I've seen a lot of debate - particularly on parent-Facebook pages for colleges - around the decisions being made by college leaders on the coronavirus. For what it is worth, here are some thoughts & some personal feelings are thrown in:

06 March, 2020

The Telharmonium Was the Spotify of 1906


Rdio, however, was not the first service to allow American subscribers to stream music from their phones. That honor goes to the telharmonium, the first patent for which was granted in 1897. It was, essentially, a Victorian Spotify.

Invented by lawyer Thaddeus Cahill and initially known as the dynamophone, the telharmonium made use of telephone networks to transmit music from a central hub in midtown Manhattan to restaurants, hotels, and homes around the city. Subscribers could pick up their phone, ask the operator to connect them to the telharmonium, and the wires of their phone line would be linked with the wires emerging from the telharmonium station. The electrically generated tunes would then stream from their phone receiver, which was fitted with a large paper funnel to help pump up the volume. (The electric amplifier had not yet been invented.)

03 March, 2020

The Spy With No Name


In 1977, Johanna van Haarlem finally tracked down the son, Erwin, she had abandoned as a baby 33 years earlier. She immediately travelled to London to meet him. What followed, writes Jeff Maysh, is an unbelievable story of deception and heartbreak.

15 February, 2020

Beautiful music and mexico city

Reckoning with Kobe Bryant’s complicated past

Bryant’s fans don’t want to consider that their hero had unheroic moments. They don’t want to have to create the emotional space to mourn someone despite their failings. It is not only his most adoring fans who take issue with how he is being mourned. Some people are furious that anyone is showing any sympathy for Bryant. In their minds, he committed a crime and should not be mourned or venerated. There is no space for complication in any direction.

09 February, 2020

The Age of Decadence

Cut the drama. The real story of the West in the 21st century is one of stalemate and stagnation.

The decadent economy is not an impoverished one. The United States is an extraordinarily wealthy country, its middle class prosperous beyond the dreams of centuries past, its welfare state effective at easing the pain of recessions, and the last decade of growth has (slowly) raised our living standard to a new high after the losses from the Great Recession.

But slowly compounding growth is not the same as dynamism. American entrepreneurship has been declining since the 1970s: Early in the Jimmy Carter presidency, 17 percent of all United States businesses had been founded in the previous year; by the start of Barack Obama’s second term, that rate was about 10 percent. In the late 1980s, almost half of United States companies were “young,” meaning less than five years old; by the Great Recession, that share was down to only 39 percent, and the share of “old” firms (founded more than 15 years ago) rose from 22 percent to 34 percent over a similar period. And those companies increasingly sit on cash or pass it back to shareholders rather than investing in new enterprises. From World War II through the 1980s, according to a recent report from Senator Marco Rubio’s office, private domestic investment often approached 10 percent of G.D.P.; in 2019, despite a corporate tax cut intended to get money off the sidelines, the investment-to-G.D.P. ratio was less than half of that.

07 February, 2020

The Mandalorian: This Is the Way

In order for The Mandalorian to work, technology had to advance enough that the epic worlds of Star Wars could be rendered on an affordable scale by a team whose actual production footprint would comprise a few soundstages and a small backlot. An additional consideration was that the typical visual-effects workflow runs concurrent with production, and then extends for a lengthy post period. Even with all the power of contemporary digital visual-effects techniques and billions of computations per second, the process can take up to 12 hours or more per frame. With thousands of shots and multiple iterations, this becomes a time-consuming endeavor. The Holy Grail of visual effects — and a necessity for The Mandalorian, according to co-cinematographer and co-producer Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS — was the ability to do real-time, in-camera compositing on set.

I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead

I moved to Los Angeles to become an actress at 24. These are character descriptions of roles I have read for: “thin, attractive, Dave’s wife”; “robot girl, a remarkable feat of engineering”; “her breasts are large and she’s wearing a red sweater.”
I stuffed my bra for that last one. I still did not get the part.
After a while it was hard to tell what was the greater source of my depression: that I could not book a part in a horror film where I had three lines and died on Page 4, or that I was even auditioning to play these roles at all. After dozens of auditions and zero callbacks, my mom suggested I get breast implants. From her perspective, I had walked away from a coveted job at Goldman Sachs and chosen a profession of self-commodification. She wanted to help me sell better.
But I wasn’t drawn to acting because I wanted to be desired. I was drawn to acting because I felt it would allow me to become the whole, embodied person I remembered being in childhood — one that could imagine freely, listen deeply and feel wholeheartedly.

06 February, 2020

Is the Gap Between Secular and Orthodox Jews Feeding anti-Semitic Violence?

But a resident of Borough Park, Orthodox Jew Yosef Rappaport, said it often feels as if secular Jews “treat progressivism as some people treat religion: doctrinaire, Orthodox, either my way or the highway.”

“This is not the way humans interact with each other,” he said. “I definitely feel the way secular Jews and leftist Jews are behaving is undermining the all-time progressives in our community; they’re undermining people like me. They need to stick up for us.”
Rappaport said the portrayal of Orthodox Jews as radical, closed off or judgmental is hurting the moderates among them, “the ones who recognize the other side.” As he put it, “You’re being spat in your face.”

05 February, 2020

N.C. fugitive Bobby Love who found love on the run shares his viral story to Humans of New York

Cheryl Love was shocked when her husband Bobby was re-arrested in 2015 after it was revealed his true identity was Walter Miller, a convicted bank robber on the run for almost 40 years.
“At first I wasn’t worried,” continues the wife in the story. “We had this crazy lady that lived next door, and the police were always checking up on her. So I assumed they had the wrong address. But the moment I opened the door, twelve officers came barging past me. Some of them had ‘FBI’ written on their jackets. They went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby. I heard them ask: ‘What’s your name?’ And he said, ‘Bobby Love.’ Then they said, ‘No. What’s your real name?’ And I heard him say something real low. And they responded: ‘You’ve had a long run.’ That’s when I tried to get into the room. But the officer kept saying: ‘Get back, get back. You don’t know who this man is.’ Then they started putting him in handcuffs.”
“It didn’t make any sense. I’d been married to Bobby for forty years,” continued Mrs. Love. “He didn’t even have a criminal record. At this point I’m crying, and I screamed: ‘Bobby, what’s going on?’ Did you kill somebody?’ And he tells me: ‘This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you. Way back to North Carolina.’”

AT&T is doing exactly what it told Congress it wouldn’t do with Time Warner

AT&T's decision to prevent Time Warner-owned shows from streaming on Netflix and other non-AT&T services reduced the company's quarterly revenue by $1.2 billion, a sacrifice that AT&T is making to give its planned HBO Max service more exclusive content. AT&T took the $1.2-billion hit despite previously telling Congress that it would not restrict distribution of Time Warner content, claiming that would be "irrational business behavior."

04 February, 2020

Coronavirus: Disabled boy dies in China after father quarantined

Two officials in China have been removed from their posts after a teenager with cerebral palsy died when his father - and sole carer - was quarantined for suspected coronavirus.
Yan Cheng, 16, was found dead on Wednesday, a week after his father and brother were placed in quarantine.
The boy was fed only twice during this time, according to reports.
Both the local Communist Party secretary and mayor in Huajiahe town have been dismissed over the case.

01 February, 2020

A set of great posts on airline failures and accidents


A Goodbye To 'The Good Place'


Endings are sad, but without them, nothing matters.

That was only one of the lessons of the thoughtful, emotional finale of NBC's The Good Place, which itself ended after four seasons and only 52 episodes. But, as the show itself stressed in its last couple of installments, heaven is not continuing forever: It's leaving at the right time, when you've done your work. When you're ready.

Creator Michael Schur, who also was behind Parks & Recreation, has a kind of grudging, aggravated optimism that echoes in a lot of his work. The Good Place was full of reminders of how petty and nasty people can be when they're not specifically trying to discipline their worst instincts. It was also emphatic about the fact that it's almost impossible to successfully weave your way through the complicated world of trying to be decent, given the way our current systems of commerce and government work.

Rev. William Barber on the Political Power of Poor People: ‘We Have to Change Our Whole Narrative’

 So when we go in a place like, say, eastern Kentucky in Appalachia, I don’t change what I say about race there. That’s what politicians do. I don’t do that. I say y’all, let’s do something. And we put up maps. And we say, now in West Virginia, you have voter suppression, and we put that map up. And then we say, did you also know in West Virginia you have a high level of poverty. We’ll do child poverty. Then we’ll do women in poverty, then we do the denial of health care, then we do denial of living wages, denial of union rights, denial of LGBTQ rights, denial of women’s rights. And then we step back and say, do you see the thing about this national map? The same states that do the race thing are doing this to you too.
And I had one white guy in Appalachia who stood up and said, “DAMN!” I’m not being facetious. He said, “Reverend Barber, they’ve been playing us.” And I said that’s right. We were there in Kentucky, and some people told us not to go to Harlan County. Harlan County, where Justice Harlan came from, the only Supreme Court justice that voted against Plessy v. Ferguson. Harlan County, where Lyndon B. Johnson started the War on Poverty. Democrats hadn’t been to Harlan County since I don’t know when. I mean, they just write it off. But we had 300 folk in the middle of the day turn out.
I went outside with one guy and he said, “I’m a McCoy.” I said, “What kind of McCoy?” He said again, “I’m a McCoy.” And then I said, “Yes sir, I understand.” He said, “We ready to fight.” I told him this is a nonviolent movement. He said, “I get it, but let me tell you, you’ve got a lot of friends up here.” I told him, “Wait a minute, people tell me this is Trump country. Why did folk vote for Trump?”
He said, “Look, we knew Trump was … ” and he used an expletive. He said, “Folks are hurting, and needed more attention, they want people to know.” Democrats haven’t been back here since Lyndon B. Johnson came back here. These hills are full of people who, if you came out here and talked to them and didn’t just write them off as ignorant and let them know you were serious about addressing the issue, even if you didn’t totally change the county, you could close the margins — i.e., what just happened.

28 January, 2020

Kobe Bryant and Complicated Legacies

Kobe Bryant, you have probably heard, died in a helicopter crash today, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and several other people who have not yet been identified. It’s a terrible, heartbreaking tragedy, another reminder that even those who seem iconic are not invincible. It’s all the more tragic that a little girl lost her life. There is such an outpouring of grief for Kobe — as there should be — and I know we are all also thinking of that little girl and her mom and her sisters. What an absolute heartbreak.
I’m not a basketball fan, nor a Kobe fan, but I understand the irrational impact a celebrity death can have on even a distant admirer. We live in what feels like an increasingly cynical culture. That there is something about the young, beautiful, talented and famous that still thrills us is less a sign that we’re shallow and more that we’re still optimistic, still capable of being awed. Kobe was a young man, one of the greatest athletes in the world, someone whose beauty and grace and power on the court was, even for total amateurs like me, still so very obvious and so very stunning. He was only 41, a father, a son, a husband, a friend — outside of his celebrity, he was a person, known and beloved by other people. They are grieving today, and my heart hurts for them.
And also.
You know the and also, don’t you? That Kobe Bryant raped a woman? I know, I know, it was not proven in a court of law. I know, I know, they settled the case, she got a payout — but not before having her real identity splashed all over the tabloids and radio, being hounded by Kobe’s most vicious fans, seeing her whole life crack apart, being tarred as that kind of woman trying to take down such a good, talented, admirable man.
My heart hurt for her then. It hurts for her now.

Smoking-gun evidence emerges for racial bias in American courts

Prior to 2010, anyone caught with more than 50 grams of crack faced a 10 year minimum sentence. After that year, a person caught with below 280 grams could get up to five years and someone caught with more than that amount could get 10 years.
Before 2010, the distributions of amounts people allegedly possessed in charging papers followed a normal distribution. Moreover, the amounts were the same for both white and black people. But after 2010, prosecutors started accusing black people - but not white people - of having exactly 280 grams of crack (i.e. the amount at which the charge doubles).
See this chart. (below)
Moreover, this change didn't occur uniformly across the US. It specifically occurred in states where people are more likely to Google search for racial slurs. In other words, the charging disparity cleanly matches with other, independent, evidence of racial bias. You can see a chart of those states here.
So unless you think black people randomly started carrying exactly 280 grams of crack in 2010, this cuts a huge hole in the argument that there are more black people in jail because black people commit more crimes. This shows that charging authorities go out of their way to accuse black people of more sever crimes under facts where they would charge white people more leniently.

26 January, 2020

Whatever Happened to ______ ?

Then, “If you’re good at it, work hard. If you’re original…cream rises.”
That’s possibly true, too, I concede. I’ve heard about cream rising before, in workshops and rejection slips. Very likely, it happens.
The implied corollary is that if you can’t make it, you’re not good enough. It’s a bootstraps philosophy.
Then I think about a particular pack of white men in Hollywood, how wealthy they are and have been for so long, and the famously wealthy neighborhood where at least one of them lives, and the single lunch I was fortunate to enjoy with a cluster of actors and one showrunner, before my idea — a successful indie novel — was lifted almost whole cloth, lightly disguised, and the main character’s gender switched to suit their needs. A show’s concept instantly emerged among these men, and their show had more than strong parallels to the work of mine we’d been discussing; I was turned into an unacknowledged muse, crushing a movie deal my publisher and I spent years establishing.
In interviews, the famous men said they’d been in a bind, running out of ideas, with the clock ticking on a deal already in place that they were struggling to fulfill. The idea came to them out of virtually nowhere.
They looked after themselves. It had nothing to do with who was or wasn’t, creatively, “cream.” Honestly, s**t floats, too.

22 January, 2020

BeeGravy on War

But, its only the modern era veterans that get shit on for it. That get called racist. By people that have no idea what we did, or who we are. I'm not going to lie and say no innocent civilians were killed, its war, it happens, but I can say the men I served with, we took casualties because we tried so hard to not hurt innocent people. We took casualties when we brought supplies and food and books and toys to the civilians. We could have been thr monsters we are labelled as now, but we werent, we thought we were doing a good thing, we didn't know ISIS would pop up 10 years later. We didnt know how our govt was going to handle the war. We just did our job, and tried not to lose our humanity while doing it. We tried not to hate the entire population, because we couldn't understand why they would blow us up or set traps for us, when we werent trying to hurt them. Some guys do hate them all, they could have warned us, thet could have turned on the insurgents, they should have fought for their country so we didnt have to.. but I at least realize its deeper and harder than that. I still dont hold any grudge.
I dont wish war upon anyone really, but I do wish people would understand how devastating war is for everyone involved.

20 January, 2020

Unless you are raising a special needs child, you don’t understand.

Unless you are raising a child with special needs, you don’t know what it is like to take everything you thought you knew about parenting and throw it out the window.
Standard parenting strategies work with my other children. Consistency and loving discipline are the key. Not with this child. 
This child doesn’t respond to time outs.
He doesn’t respond to typical consequences.
Spankings only exasperate the situation.
Rewards do little to help improvement. 
New strategies are needed, and they are hard to discover and hard to implement as a united front. There is a lot of trial and error. Failed attempts at discipline are the norm. Defeat is a reality. Yet determination and love persist.
Unless you are raising a child with special needs, you don’t know what it is like to yearn for normal. 

19 January, 2020

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor's degrees.

Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

"There is an emphasis on the four-year university track" in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

"Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need," Cortines said. In spite of a perception "that college is the sole path for everybody," he said, "when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you're paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration."

And it's not just in Washington state.

On "why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men.”

The problem is that their main belief system is that “feelings cause action”. So they blame their actions on their feelings. And they think that you caused their feelings. So they never have to take responsibility in their mind... But if you put yourself in their shoes, would you start hitting people or calling people mean names if you were “angry”? No, you wouldn’t. They just lack empathy and gain too much from their abuse, so they see no reason to change. Why would they change when their manipulation and intimidation makes everyone bend backwards to their will?

18 January, 2020

Andrew Roberts’s Leadership in War: An Antidote to Cynicism

A reassuring conclusion of Leadership in War is that we don’t — and that, in fact, morally repugnant individuals are inherently less successful war leaders. Roberts’s chapter on Hitler is a tour de force of historical portraiture. Forget the clich├ęs about his bewitching charisma, Hitler was an absurd, boorish, banal, vainglorious, misogynistic “little weirdo,” incapable of normal human interactions, uncomfortable in anything approaching debate or discussion, hooked on juvenile conspiracy theories of all kinds, and whose ideas would not have stood up to 30 minutes of serious television interview. Both his and Stalin’s chronic insecurity, personal cruelty, and cynicism born of their guiding concepts of race and class wars, caused them to make errors and miscalculations at critical decision points in the war. They were all but incapable of taking on others’ ideas; or of operating within an alliance, habitually inclined, as they were to view their partners’ behavior not as goodwill to be reciprocated but as weakness to be exploited.