20 April, 2021

u/craftmacaro on animal testing

https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/mupqgk/save_ralph_a_short_film_with_taika_waititi/gv8affy/

So, we love animals. None of us WANT to hurt them. We got INTO this field because we all want to understand them in order to help keep them around for future generations.

That said... My job requires me to do a few things that require me to basically turn off my emotions and concentrate on the research... It’s only possible to postpone though and I always question everything about why I’m doing this, how to minimize suffering, and whether there is any other way. Even when the answer is that it’s required it still keeps me up at night and one experiment from undergrad still makes me cry at least once a year and really question whether that one experiment made me a bad person. 

Damian Lewis Honors Late Wife Helen McCrory in Heartbreaking Tribute

https://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/muctbr/damian_lewis_honors_late_wife_helen_mccrory_in/gv6jaid/

She has been utterly heroic in her illness. Funny, of course — generous, brave, uncomplaining, constantly reminding us all of how lucky we’ve been, how blessed we are. Her generosity has extended to encouraging us three to live. Live fully, take opportunities, have adventures. Only a couple of weeks ago she said to us from her bed, “I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn’t possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get though the funeral without snogging someone.”

Already I miss her. She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine. In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to “normalise” her death. She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.

18 April, 2021

u/alice-in-canada-land on race

https://np.reddit.com/r/news/comments/mtnnc6/navajo_nation_has_no_covidrelated_deaths_for_7th/gv1bm8i/?context=3

Whiteness is a social construct, not an inherent genetic trait.

One of the problems with the polarized way we talk about the history of racism is that it swallows subtleties. The reality is that no one is white. We're all human beings, and we all come in varying shades and hues of brown; from pale and pink-ish to a deep brown that looks navy blue in the shadows, and many olive and peachy and cinnamon tints in between.

"White" is an invented concept, and it the definition has varied to includes different groups over the few hundred years it's been in use. The Irish used to be very much on the outside of "white". As were Italians and Spaniards, and Poles, and others we easily assume are "white" today, when we have a broad skin-shade based understanding of the (fake) divisions between "races".

In fact, the English used many of the same tactics of colonization against the Irish and the Scots as they later did against Indigenous peoples on this land. Including pushing them off their lands and away from their traditional food sources; starving them by withholding other foods, while also extracting foods and profits from their lands; forcibly 'schooling' their children, and beating their languages and cultures out of them. Oh, and the English were aided and abetted in these efforts by a church that purported to care while sharing in the exploitation...

...does that sound familiar?

It's true that the Irish and Scots in many ways were co-opted into colonization, having moved to this land by the hundreds of thousands, fleeing English occupation, and it's true that they sort of gained 'whiteness' when they arrived on these shores. 

BidenBucks Is Beeple Is Bitcoin In a system rigged by the rich, outsiders have to make their own volatility.

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/04/unified-monetary-theory-beeple-biden.html

Imagine a great little restaurant that goes out of business. You think, Well, that’s a shame. Yeah. It’s a shame for the current 50-year-old owners. But it also means that the real estate and the supplies — dishes, the stove — go down in cost, and it gives a 28-year-old, a recent graduate of a Brooklyn culinary academy, her shot at owning a restaurant. Closures mean layoffs, of course. But new ventures quickly take up the slack. And in an empathetic — or even sane — system, direct payments to anyone affected could carry them through the transition.

In the 2008 financial crisis, we did stimulus, but stocks were allowed to fall. We basically said, “All right, we’re going into a massive recession, but what we need to do is make sure it’s not a depression.” Now, with COVID, that’s not enough. We decided that not only is a depression not tolerable but recessions aren’t tolerable. We threw trillions at the problem — so much stimulus that the markets went up.

Assets have never been higher because we keep printing money and doing more stimulus. Yet as a percentage of GDP, wages have tanked. How do young people make money? Wages. And then who owns assets? Old rich people. So all we said is, “Okay, people who get the majority of their income through wages, i.e., young people, get screwed. And people who have the majority of their earnings or wealth in assets like real estate and stocks do really well.”

14 April, 2021

The US Must Help Afghans Who Helped It

https://thediplomat.com/2021/04/the-us-must-help-afghans-who-helped-it/

This is not an argument for staying militarily or for withdrawing U.S. troops. Rather, what happens to the many Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years and continue to aspire to build a freer, more pluralistic Afghanistan, if U.S. and NATO forces leave without a sustainable peace settlement?

For two decades, tens of thousands of Afghans worked directly for or supported the U.S. military and civilian presence. In 2009, Congress created a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to permit a narrow subset of that group to immigrate to the United States. But the process has been slow and difficult to implement. Only a little over 18,000 of these applications have been approved over the last decade. Today, there are another 18,000 SIV applications waiting to be processed.

11 April, 2021

A decade ago, a surging Silicon Valley giant was making plans to dominate the internet. Given a chance to stop it, regulators chosen by Barack Obama misread the evidence in front of their eyes.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/16/google-files-ftc-antitrust-investigation-475573

Nearly a decade ago, the documents show, the FTC’s investigators uncovered evidence of how far Google was willing to go to ensure the primacy of the search engine that is the key to its fortunes, including tactics that European regulators and the U.S. Justice Department would later label antitrust violations. But the FTC’s economists successfully argued against suing the company, and the agency’s staff experts made a series of predictions that would fail to match where the online world was headed:

— They saw only “limited potential for growth” in ads that track users across the web — now the backbone of Google parent company Alphabet's $182.5 billion in annual revenue.

— They expected consumers to continue relying mainly on computers to search for information. Today, about 62 percent of those queries take place on mobile phones and tablets, nearly all of which use Google’s search engine as the default.

— They thought rivals like Microsoft, Mozilla or Amazon would offer viable competition to Google in the market for the software that runs smartphones. Instead, nearly all U.S. smartphones run on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

10 April, 2021

They Thought They Were Free The Germans, 1933-45, by Milton Mayer

https://press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html






purrfunctory on Dachau and a great uncle

https://www.reddit.com/r/insanepeoplefacebook/comments/mn25fv/bruh/gtw163h/?context=3

My Grand Oncle Jacques (Great Uncle) was imprisoned in Dachau for three years. He was a member of the Belgian Resistance and was tasked with finding food and faking/forging ration cards to help feed the Jews in hiding. When not busy with that tremendous task, he helped with the militia that sabotaged Nazi vehicles, trains, whatever infrastructure they could damage to slow them down.

I met him several times as a young child, and with a child’s curiosity I asked him about the number on his arm. In age appropriate terms, Grand Oncle Jacques explained to me that he was in prison during a war because the bad guys caught him and punished him for it. He told me he had the tattoo because the bad guys wanted an easy way to tell prisoners apart.

The next time I saw him, I asked why his hands were bent and fingers curled. This beautiful, broken man explained, so kindly, that the bad guys tried to make him tell on his friends by hurting him. They broke his fingers and his hands, his feet and his knees. They broke his wrists and hit him with whips and did many cruel things. I was in tears and asked why he didn’t just tell on his friend.

Grand Oncle Jacques kissed my hair and dried my tears. And then he said, “My sweet child, one day you will learn about the bad men and what they did to innocent people. I wasn’t just protecting my friends. I was protecting hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people all over Belgium.”

The song I will Survive, the Gloria Gaynor classic, came on the radio. And this beautiful man, bent and broken by Nazi abuse, a man with twisted limbs, a man whose every step caused pain. This amazing, wonderful man got up and he danced. He held my hand in his and I danced with him, with the carefree spirit of a child. When the song finished, he sat down and mopped the sweat from his face. He drank some lemonade and held my hand tightly, between his gnarled and broken ones.

“Debby,” he said, “Do you know why I dance? Because I survived. And I dance to remember those who did not survive. In dancing I remember those who survived and those who did not. And each time I dance, they are remembered.”

That was the last time I saw him, as his many injuries and ailments made him far too fragile to travel internationally. I grew older but each time the song comes on, I will dance. When I was whole, I’d bust out in a full boogie no matter how ridiculous I looked.

06 April, 2021

Alumna Kathy Pham Creates Scholarship to Celebrate Mother’s Life and Memory

https://womenshistorymonth.cc.gatech.edu/alumni-buzz/#kathy-pham

Mary Hương Thị Phạm was one of the tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who fled for America in the 1980s. She became a U.S. citizen in 1995. She had a challenging life, navigating a new world and raising two kids, but she always made sure she taught her children to learn from the obstacles in their way.

“The challenges were good lessons for us,” Kathy Pham said. “We got jobs as soon as we were old enough to work so we could pay for our expenses and also help support the household. I think that’s good practice for any family regardless of income.”

“Another challenge was figuring out where I could go to college,” she added. “But that limitation led to me staying in state and going to Georgia Tech, which set such a strong foundation for the rest of my career. And I still smile thinking of all the bragging my mom would do about me and my brother going to Tech.”

20 March, 2021

Live a life worth living

https://lettersofnote.com/2021/03/01/live-a-life-worth-living/
Life is not fair. You would be foolish to expect fairness, at least when it comes to matters of life and death, matters outside the scope of the law, matters that cannot be engineered or manipulated by human effort, matters that are distinctly the domain of God or luck or fate or some other unknowable, incomprehensible force. [...]

My sweet babies, I do not have the answer to the question of why, at least not now and not in this life. But I do know that there is incredible value in pain and suffering, if you allow yourself to experience it, to cry, to feel sorrow and grief, to hurt. Walk through the fire and you will emerge on the other end, whole and stronger. I promise. You will ultimately find truth and beauty and wisdom and peace. You will understand that nothing lasts forever, not pain, or joy. You will understand that joy cannot exist without sadness. Relief cannot exist without pain. Compassion cannot exist without cruelty. Courage cannot exist without fear. Hope cannot exist without despair. Wisdom cannot exist without suffering. Gratitude cannot exist without deprivation. Paradoxes abound in this life. Living is an exercise in navigating within them. [...]

I have often dreamed that when I die, I will finally know what it would be like to see the world without visual impairment, to see far into the distance, to see the minute details of a bird, to drive a car. Oh, how I long to have perfect vision, even after all these years without. I long for death to make me whole, to give me what was denied me in this life. I believe this dream will come true. Similarly, when your time comes, I will be there waiting for you, so that you, too, will be given what was lost to you. I promise. But in the meantime, live, my darling babies. Live a life worth living. Live thoroughly and completely, thoughtfully, gratefully, courageously, and wisely. Live!

I love you both forever and ever, to infinity, through space and time. Never ever forget that.

Mommy

13 March, 2021

In Furor Over Poet With Child Porn Conviction, Prison Abolitionists Debate the Limits of Mercy

https://theintercept.com/2021/02/14/poetry-magazine-kirk-nesset-prison-abolition/

 WHAT HAS BEEN interesting about this dispute is that it’s not the usual law-and-order hard-liners versus insurgents against the Prison Nation, not the censors versus the American Civil Liberties Union or the anti-“cancel culture” right (though there is some of that, here and here). Rather, the outcry against Poetry reveals ambivalence among folks who are committed to dismantling the Prison Nation.

“Can @poetrymagazine publish murderers? Can they publish carjackers? Rapists?” tweeted Reginald Dwayne Betts (no relation to Tara), who participated in a carjacking at 16, was locked up for eight years, and eventually became an award-winning writer, Yale-educated lawyer, and, now, poetry editor of the New York Times. Referring to that job, he asks, “What is the line of people that cannot have poems published? … Please clue me in on what’s impermissible.”

“And also, I need to know the limits of abolitionist rhetoric. Cause, the same people saying abolition one minute and crying foul the next, I gotta get things right.”

Tara Betts’s tweet communicates that she can tolerate this, the moral tension at the heart of prison abolitionism. Dwayne Betts is asking his comrades to negotiate the terrain together, because it’s slippery.

Looking For Right And Wrong In The Philippines

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertsamaha/why-do-filipinos-love-duterte

With eight major languages spoken across its 7,000-plus islands, the Philippines is a fragmented place, and even the dangers vary by region. On the northern island of Luzon, communist insurgents attack from base camps hidden in the mountains. In the Visayas, a cluster of touristic islands in the center of the country, military forces recently warded off an attempted terrorist attack by Abu Sayyaf, a jihadist group pledging allegiance to ISIS. In Mindanao, the threat comes from the Islamist rebel groups determined to form an independent state for the country’s Muslim minorities.

These rebels carry on a war that their ancestors had waged for centuries, resisting the Spanish colonizers who arrived in 1521 and the American occupiers of the early 20th century. In 1989, the Philippine government granted the rebels partial autonomy over a crescent of land along the eastern coast of Mindanao. Today, the region is a hub of militant activity. Communist guerrillas, Muslim separatist rebels, and jihadist terrorist groups have all made base in the area. The fighting got so bad this May that President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the entire island of Mindanao.

My Uncle Pepo and other locals consider the rebel-controlled land off-limits, and the area just outside its border a danger zone. Our farm sits 5 miles from that border.

11 March, 2021

On Facebook and misinformation

https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/11/1020600/facebook-responsible-ai-misinformation/

Since then, other employees have corroborated these findings. A former Facebook AI researcher who joined in 2018 says he and his team conducted “study after study” confirming the same basic idea: models that maximize engagement increase polarization. They could easily track how strongly users agreed or disagreed on different issues, what content they liked to engage with, and how their stances changed as a result. Regardless of the issue, the models learned to feed users increasingly extreme viewpoints. “Over time they measurably become more polarized,” he says.

The researcher’s team also found that users with a tendency to post or engage with melancholy content—a possible sign of depression—could easily spiral into consuming increasingly negative material that risked further worsening their mental health. The team proposed tweaking the content-ranking models for these users to stop maximizing engagement alone, so they would be shown less of the depressing stuff. “The question for leadership was: Should we be optimizing for engagement if you find that somebody is in a vulnerable state of mind?” he remembers. (A Facebook spokesperson said she could not find documentation for this proposal.)

OrbitRock_ on forests and climate change

https://www.reddit.com/r/Foodforthought/comments/m1tzgb/trees_lost_to_drought_and_wildfires_are_not/gqjcx3i/


Comparing 1970s-2000 to 2000-2016, the fire season of the latter is 17 days longer, and the window for highest risk of severe fire 9 days longer.

Earlier snowmelt also contributes, especially in combination with a longer warm season.

So, even though we can expect that more large fire is likely due to our legacy of forest management practices, forest aridity is a key driving factor of fire and it has increased substantially over the past decades.

climate change has increased the aridity of forests, the probability of fire, the probability of severe fire, and in many places, decreased the probability of tree regeneration post-fire. And a lot of research supports this.

03 March, 2021

Resurrection of Kelly Marie Tran: On Surviving 'Star Wars' Bullying, the Pressures of Representation, and 'Raya and the Last Dragon'

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/resurrection-of-kelly-marie-tran-on-surviving-star-wars-bullying-the-pressures-of-representation-and-raya-and-the-last-dragon

When told that her behavior is unusual for an actor: "That makes me want to die," says Tran. "Maybe it's because, to this day, I still have worked longer as an admin assistant than a working actor, and because I didn't grow up in the industry. Going into my first movie, I remember people being like, 'Oh, you're hanging out with the PAs on the weekends,' and I'd be like, 'Yeah, so?' I still don't ever want to believe these made-up status titles we have in Hollywood. I tell my agents all the time: 'The day that becomes me, I will go back to college and become a scientist.' "


02 March, 2021

u/drewiepoodle on trans discrimination

https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/lsbqec/rand_paul_goes_on_unhinged_transphobic_rant_at_dr/goqchm4/

The transgender community has a high rates of suicide attempts because of discrimination against us, not because we're trans.

  • Kyle K. H. Tan, et al., 2020 Study finds that transgender people who have experienced stigma, including harassment, violence, and discrimination because of their identity are much more likely to have poor mental health outcomes.

  • Perez-Brumer, 2017: "Mediation analyses demonstrated that established psychosocial factors, including depression and school-based victimization, partly explained the association between gender identity and suicidal ideation."

  • Seelman, 2016: "Findings indicate relationships between denial of access to bathrooms and gender-appropriate campus housing and increased risk for suicidality, even after controlling for interpersonal victimization in college. "

  • Klein, Golub, 2016: "After controlling for age, race/ethnicity, sex assigned at birth, binary gender identity, income, education, and employment status, family rejection was associated with increased odds of both behaviors. Odds increased significantly with increasing levels of family rejection."

  • Miller, Grollman, 2015: "The results suggest that gender nonconforming trans people face more discrimination and, in turn, are more likely to engage in health‐harming behaviors than trans people who are gender conforming."

If we're supported in our transition, suicide rates actually go down:

  • Bauer, et al., 2015: Transition vastly reduces risks of suicide attempts, and the farther along in transition someone is the lower that risk gets.

  • de Vries, et al, 2014: A clinical protocol of a multidisciplinary team with mental health professionals, physicians, and surgeons, including puberty suppression, followed by cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery, provides trans youth the opportunity to develop into well-functioning young adults. All showed significant improvement in their psychological health, and they had notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among trans children living as their natal sex. Well-being was similar to or better than same-age young adults from the general population.

  • Gorton, 2011 (Prepared for the San Francisco Department of Public Health): “In a cross-sectional study of 141 transgender patients, Kuiper and Cohen-Kittenis found that after medical intervention and treatments, suicide fell from 19 percent to zero percent in transgender men and from 24 percent to 6 percent in transgender women.)”

  • Murad, et al., 2010: "Significant decrease in suicidality post-treatment. The average reduction was from 30% pretreatment to 8% post treatment."

  • De Cuypere, et al., 2006Rate of suicide attempts dropped dramatically from 29.3% to 5.1% after receiving medical and surgical treatment among Dutch patients treated from 1986-2001.

  • UK study: "Suicidal ideation and actual attempts reduced after transition, with 63% thinking about or attempting suicide more before they transitioned and only 3% thinking about or attempting suicide more post-transition.

  • Heylens, 2014: Found that the psychological state of transgender people "resembled those of a general population after hormone therapy was initiated."

  • Perez-Brumer, 2017: "These findings suggest that interventions that address depression and school-based victimization could decrease gender identity-based disparities in suicidal ideation."

27 February, 2021

Inside the Chaotic, Cutthroat Gray Market for N95 Masks

 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/magazine/n95-masks-market-covid.html

Artenstein, the chief physician executive at Baystate Health, emailed me in October. “There still does not appear to be a coherent, organized and effective (or even potentially effective) plan by this administration to address ongoing P.P.E. shortages,” he wrote. “Trust me, these are ongoing and will only worsen.” Indeed, the shortages have already returned as the virus runs rampant through the country once again. And though President-elect Biden has promised to federalize the P.P.E. response, he won’t take office until January 20 — and the current administration’s obstruction of the transfer of power may further delay his ability to act quickly.

The primary wisdom that Artenstein was providing to other health care systems asking for his advice was to not expect substantial help from the federal government. In a sense, the Trump administration had achieved one of its goals: It had trained Americans not to rely on it. Everyone was on his or her own in this pandemic, Artenstein warned. That was the American way.


Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science

https://cacm.acm.org/opinion/articles/250078-lets-not-dumb-down-the-history-of-computer-science/fulltext

All we get nowadays is dumbed-down. Thank goodness historians of mathematics have not entirely abandoned writing articles that contain formulas or explain scientific ideas.

"I am sure that business histories are as difficult to write as technical histories, and they are no doubt also as valuable to businessmen as technical histories are valuable to technicians. But you seem to be celebrating the fact that nobody writes technical CS history at all anymore!

"When you speak of 'obvious holes', you are thinking of obvious holes in business history ... the video game industry, for example. But how about the people who write video games: They invent marvelous breakthroughs in techniques about how to render scenes and pack data and do things in parallel and coordinate thousands of online users. The lack of anything even close to describing these techniques and how they were discovered and under what constraints seems to me a much more obvious hole; yet you show no inclination to admit its existence much less to suggest plugging it."

5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/how-public-health-messaging-backfired/618147/

This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.

Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

The Road From Serfdom - How Americans can become citizens again

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/danielle-allen-american-citizens-serfdom/600778/

The kinds of economists involved most intimately with government and financial institutions by and large don’t notice real people in real places—people who may be losing jobs and falling into despondency, addiction, and suicide. They tend not to see as relevant to their domains of expertise the millions of people on the move and the impact of mass migration on cultural cohesion. In recent years, they overlooked the warning signs indicating limits to the acceptance of their worldview, notably in the very communities suffering because of their economic policies. Elites on both the left and the right, with their well-thumbed passports and multicultural outlook, were no less blind. They did not see the pressures rising. In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I more than once heard an economist friend say something like the following: “We knew globalization would force transformations, but we never thought they would be localized in a specific subset of communities.” And: “We knew that globalization would cause disruption over a 20-year period, but I never thought about what 20 years is like in the life of a specific person or community.” The very language conveys remoteness—the sheer size of the chasm between the World Economic Forum and the actual world. This is what happens when the messy, mediating business of popular politics no longer functions properly—when it no longer serves as the membrane through which ideas must pass before they turn into action.

Venezuela's Story: Democratic Paths to Authoritarianism

https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2021/02/24/venezuelas_story_democratic_paths_to_authoritarianism_661643.html

The depressing reality of the Venezuela crisis is that democracy was and is abused and twisted for authoritarian ends. Leaders can come to power legitimately and undermine the rule of law and other key democratic tenets. Venezuela stands as proof that democracy, once attained, is not guaranteed any permanence. This poses unique challenges to democracies globally. If the world’s democracies are unable to come to a consensus on how to respond to democratic backsliding, the risk of additional countries adopting authoritarian tendencies will increase. Without the ability to insulate democratic institutions against authoritarian attacks and abuses, the United States and other democracies could suffer similar assaults and setbacks on their institutions and democracy. 


Seeking the True Story of the Comfort Women

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/seeking-the-true-story-of-the-comfort-women-j-mark-ramseyer

How a Harvard professor’s dubious scholarship reignited a history of mistrust between South Korea and Japan.

 

25 February, 2021

Death, Through a Nurse’s Eyes

 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/opinion/covid-icu-nurses-arizona.html

A short film offering a firsthand perspective of the brutality of the pandemic inside a Covid-19 I.C.U.


24 February, 2021

Looking at Yesterday, Today

https://magazine.williams.edu/2016/summer/feature/looking-at-yesterday-today/

Leslie Brown: A history of slavery needs to be done at Williams, too. We know Ephraim Williams had a slave or two.

Beschloss: How much more do we know about this dimension of Eph Williams?

Dew: Not much. He was a prominent New Englander of his place and time, which meant he had a handful of slaves. The study of the history of the institution that comes from this sort of awareness can be incredibly valuable. What happened with Ephraim Williams’ slaves when he died? Were they sold as part of his estate, and did those resources go into the founding of the college?

Brown: Or did his slaves create the wealth Eph already had?

Beschloss: In the past, people haven’t always paid close attention to information about where the money comes from. [...]

Brown: One thing that should come to us in these conversations about historical representation is that these were not up/ down decisions that were made, or yes/no, positive/negative. So, yes, there’s the money from the slave trade. Meanwhile, Williams had the first abolition society on any campus.

Dew: An alumnus recently acquired and gave to the Chapin Library a pamphlet that came out of a Williams abolition society from the mid-1820s. That’s well before William Lloyd Garrison started The Liberator [a weekly newspaper denouncing slavery]. It’s important to be aware of the religious and moral heritage of the school and to understand how evangelical this place was in the 19th century.

Brown: Southern students might have brought their slaves with them to campus. But this area was also an Underground Railroad site. The fact that the abolitionist society was having public debates means there was an exchange of ideas, a discourse. Students in that era dealt with these issues among themselves and developed their own politics. When you move into the Civil War era, you note the number of students who left the college to go to war and who did Freedmen’s Bureau work after that. The founder of the Hampton Institute was a Williams graduate.

20 February, 2021

fietsvrouw on how to carry on through learning something

https://www.reddit.com/r/Guitar/comments/lo5hsk/question_i_just_booked_my_first_guitar_lesson_at/go47mgm/

I have been teaching guitar for 41 years. The biggest predictor, bar none, for who will carry on and who will drop out is the capacity to enjoy and celebrate every gain.

A student who comes in, wants to sound like Eric Clapton, and then expresses constant frustration at how long it is going to take, how far from that he or she is, etc. will probably last no more than 6 weeks.

A student who feels like - omg, I am playing the guitar!! when they learn 3 chords, ion the other hand, and who makes the effort to notice what they can do today that they could not do last week is usually a student who is in it for the long haul. They learn faster, they have more fun, and they stick with it.

this is something you have control of. Cultivate that sense of "look at me go!!!!" and enjoy every tiny step and victory. The process has to be fun because you never really "arrive" - you just keep improving and widening your skill set.

17 February, 2021

A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY…

https://www.diamandis.com/blog/false-sense-security

I thought creating a COVID “Immunity Bubble” for a small group in a TV studio setting was possible. I was wrong.

This is the story of what happened, what went wrong, and what we learned.

Just as importantly, it is a story of what questions remain to be answered about the accuracy of testing before we can safely return to work, travel, relax in small groups, or see our kids off to school. If any of you have ever experienced a new confidence or an impulse to lower your vigilance with masks and social distancing after receiving a negative PCR test, you need to read this.

The story is presented in detail below, but the bottom line is as follows: Despite a total of 452 (PCR & Rapid Antigen) tests and four physicians on-staff during a highly contained small gathering, 24 people in our "Immunity Bubble" (~ 25%) tested positive for the coronavirus - including me.

I’m humbled and pained by what I learned.  

13 February, 2021

This Is Why Your Holiday Travel Is Awful

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/29/penn-station-robert-caro-073564

Trying to make sense of the swirl, I built a timeline on a spreadsheet, which grew to nearly 600 entries. After years of research, a picture began to emerge—one that, beyond the scope of any given anecdote, told a dispiriting story about the futility of present-day American government, and reshaped my view of progressive politics.

The story of Penn Station’s halting redevelopment comes in three separate waves of effort that rose up to replace the current squalor—and then, in the first two cases, crumbled into nothing. Pundits and editorials have tended to blame a rotating cast of characters for the rot—the railroad that owns the station, the state bureaucracies that have neglected it, the private real estate interests that have hemmed it in. But Penn Station has actually languished at the hands of another simple reality: No one has the leverage to fix it. The sad state of America’s most important train station stems more from a failure of power than a failure of leadership. And shockingly enough, that’s not by mistake—it’s by design.

The Anti-Reactionary FAQ

https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-faq/

This is the Anti-Reactionary FAQ. It is meant to rebut some common beliefs held by the political movement called Reaction or Neoreaction.

 

How Our Brutal Science System Almost Cost Us A Pioneer Of mRNA Vaccines

https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2021/02/12/brutal-science-system-mrna-pioneer

Still, Karikó was struggling. Her science was fantastic, but she was less adept at the competitive game of science. She tried again and again to win grants, and each time, her applications were rejected.

Eventually, in the mid-1990s, she suffered the academic indignity of demotion, meaning she was taken off the academic ladder that leads to becoming a professor. We never discussed it personally because by the time I joined the lab, Karikó’s history was still only discussed in hushed tones as a cautionary tale for young scientists.

I learned that while universities pay the salaries of many of their professors in English or anthropology, they expect faculty in the medical schools to pay their own way with either clinical work or external research funding. This puts tremendous financial pressure on eager young medical researchers, sometimes leading them not to the projects that are most needed or that they are most passionate about, but to the projects that will get them funding.

Still Alive

https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/still-alive

In the New York Times' worldview, they start with the right to dox me, and I had to earn the right to remain anonymous by proving I'm the perfect sympathetic victim who satisfies all their criteria of victimhood. But in my worldview, I start with the right to anonymity, and they need to make an affirmative case for doxxing me. I admit I am not the perfect victim. The death threats against me are all by losers who probably don't know which side of a gun you shoot someone with. If anything happened at work, it would probably inconvenience me and my patients, but probably wouldn't literally kill either of us.

31 January, 2021

ibetyoudotrebek on policing in northern VA

https://www.reddit.com/r/nova/comments/l8uwfz/so_are_there_not_any_speeding_tickets_anymore/glg2foo/?context=3


So a lot of officers (the majority, at least where I work), have decided it's easier to simply show up, answer their calls for service in their patrol areas, work them to the best of their abilities, and then go home when the shift ends. These officers used to be out, driving around, looking for DUIs/signs of driving impaired, stolen cars, felony warrants, etc. But they realized that A) they get paid the same whether they are putting up stellar proactive arrest and summons numbers or that number is zero and B) not being proactive greatly minimizes the chances of ending up in a "viral" situation.

What I mean by "viral" situation (before everyone starts yelling about "it went viral because lack of ACCOUNTABILITY) is a situation where the officer/deputy makes a decision/decisions that are within policy and within the law, yet somehow still ends up being publicly maligned for doing so. Also, I don't know how much more accountable I can get; I am required to videotape every single interaction I have with the public with no exceptions. Each and every one of these videos are available to the public through a simple FOIA request. Additionally, every report is I write has to be reviewed by a sergeant, 1st Sergeant, Lieutenant, and then records staff. Again, every single report I've ever written is available to any member of the public for any reason at any time with a simple FOIA request.

I am well aware my chosen profession does itself no favors, and I like to think I do my part to change that (ACABologists, I don't expect to change anyone's opinion, so 1312 away). What the public seems to not understand is that police involved incidents a best viewed department to department, and not indicative of the profession as a whole. What I mean by that is, an officer could do the dirtiest most fucked up thing in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, wherever. And they could get caught and charged; the whole circus. But what they did in THAT jurisdiction has absolutely zero to do with an officer/deputy in a separate department/county (A loudoun county deputy commits a crime and gets charged; that has absolutely nothing to do with a Fairfax or Arlington officer). They don't know each other, they don't work with each other, they have a separate set of policies and procedures, report to different supervisors, etc. But that specific incident then gets magnified and broadcasted and the public sees it and thinks "Yeah, I bet the cops around here do the same thing". They don't. They're not even in the same jurisdiction.

28 January, 2021

Game. Stop.

https://themargins.substack.com/p/game-stop

 Finally, and of most immediate concern, it is what will happen to those 'retail traders' everyone is cheering on. To everyone sharing the same screenshot of someone supposedly paying off their student loans, or chiming in about how this is some Zach De La Rocha rage against the financial machine, are you serious? Did you convince yourself that the folks who do comprise the retail component of this trade, who are the beneficiaries of a sudden windfall of cash that they will attribute to their own genius, will calmly take their profits, walk away, and channel that cash into bettering their lives? I mean, have any of you ever bought an option? Have you ever bet on anything? Have you been a bro chat of any sort? That's just not how this works.

I noted in that Robinhood Gravy piece, I was an intern in Atlanta the summer when a day trader killed nine people at his office. Most of you might've read about Robinhood adding bulletproof glass after traders kept showing up at its office, or the 20-year old who killed themself after misunderstanding their options exposure. We all know this, yet I can't stress this enough: things can (and likely will) move just as fast on the way down.

And that really, really scares me.

Op-Ed: I called Arizona for Biden on Fox News. Here’s what I learned

 https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-01-28/fox-news-chris-stirewalt-firing-arizona

When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed.

Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact.

While there is still a lucrative market for a balanced offering of news and opinion at high-end outlets, much of the mainstream is increasingly bent toward flattery and fluff. Most stories are morally complicated and don’t have white hats and black hats. Defeats have many causes and victories are never complete. Reporting these stories requires skill and dispassion. But hearing them requires something of consumers, too: Enough humility to be open to learning something new.

26 January, 2021

For the past three weeks, a group of Trump supporters and QAnon believers met online, swapped theories and eagerly awaited the conspiracy’s violent climax. I was listening in. This is what they sounded like.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/26/opinion/trump-qanon-washington-capitol-hill.html

As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.

These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.

25 January, 2021

Gamestop stock explanation

https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/l53q33/louis_rossman_helps_explain_the_gamestop_stock/gksl3um/

Here's kinda the full story and backdrop. I wrote this like a week ago so it's a little outdated.

Take it back to March 2020. Gamestop is a dying company. Everything Gamestop did in the past can now be done online. Worse, Covid-19 is decimating physical retail. People expect Gamestop to file for bankruptcy anytime. Share price: ~$2.80.

Enter wallstreetbets, the autistic capital of the online investing world. Several users begin to go bullish on GME. They're laughed at and called retarded. Most notably, a user, /u/DeepFuckingValue, who has been invested in GME for a very, very long time, reiterates his position in the stock while providing monthly updates. In January 2020 he is down thousands of dollars (-40k). However, by the end of April 2020, he's finally green (+41k). And he's just getting started. Share price EoM April: ~$5.75.

While all this is happening, hedge funds/investors have been shorting Gamestop. I won't go into the exact mechanics of shorting a stock, but what's important to know is that unlike buying a stock and making money when it goes up, in short (aka selling short and short selling) you make money when the stock goes down. Short selling is important to the story. The funds who sell short are called short sellers. The biggest short seller is Melvin Capital. Short sellers made a lot of money shorting Gamestop from $45 to $2.

IIRC, things are quiet from April end to June. GameStop stock keeps seesawin between $3 and $6.

It's near the end of August now. GameStop has made some good moves in regards to paying of their debts and taking better loans. They might have done other stuff too, I don't fucking remember. Console release hype for the new Xbox and PS are setting in.

Out of the blue, Microsoft announces a fantastic partnership with GameStop.......

President Trump Reduced Legal Immigration. He Did Not Reduce Illegal Immigration

https://www.cato.org/blog/president-trump-reduced-legal-immigration-he-did-not-reduce-illegal-immigration

President Trump entered the White House with the goal of reducing legal immigration by 63 percent. Trump was wildly successful in reducing legal immigration. By November 2020, the Trump administration reduced the number of green cards issued to people abroad by at least 418,453 and the number of non‐​immigrant visas by at least 11,178,668 during his first term through November 2020. President Trump also entered the White House with the goal of eliminating illegal immigration but Trump oversaw a virtual collapse in interior immigration enforcement and the stabilization of the illegal immigrant population. Thus, Trump succeeded in reduce legal immigration and failed to eliminate illegal immigration.


21 January, 2021

Don Sutton Had an ‘Easy Job’ Thanks to a Lifetime of Hard Work

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/sports/baseball/don-sutton.html

“Mine is an uncommon attitude, and you can trace it back to the fact that it wasn’t an emotional experience for me, it was a job,” said Sutton, who was born in Clio, Ala., and moved as a child to the Florida panhandle. “I grew up in an atmosphere in the rural South where if we didn’t work, if we weren’t all there, if we didn’t put all our efforts into it and if we didn’t take pride in it, we didn’t eat. It was easy to take that approach to life into baseball.

“It made baseball easy, because I saw my dad working 10, 12 hours a day during all kinds of conditions just to get by. So I could certainly put that same effort into an easy job, which major league baseball was. It was an easy job, made easier because my dad taught me how to work. It wasn’t like for the first time in my life I had to do some work. I just transferred that to baseball.

“So it wasn’t like I thought if we won the world’s championship I was going to become an expert on cars and space travel and this kind of stuff. All I was going to do was be an athlete whose team had a little bit higher record.”

20 January, 2021

Trump administration trying to sabotage Biden immigration plans with last-minute deals, say officials

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/trump-administration-trying-sabotage-biden-immigration-plans-last-minute-deals-n1254733


One of the current officials said the documents were written with the sole purpose of delaying Biden's immigration agenda by six months.

"The whole point is 110 percent to screw the incoming administration from doing anything for six months," one of the officials said, adding that the broad language could keep the agreements from standing up in court.

"It's written so broadly I can't think of anything DHS would do that wouldn't fall under that. But at the same time, that makes it potentially unenforceable," the official added.

Rick Su, a professor of immigration law at the University of North Carolina, said: "They are trying to hamper the power of a subsequent administration. The federal government cannot relinquish or delegate its sovereign power in this manner."

19 January, 2021

The Ethics of Defense Technology Development: An Investor’s Perspective

https://medium.com/@traestephens/the-ethics-of-defense-technology-development-an-investors-perspective-45c71bf6e6af

Many in Silicon Valley hold the mistaken belief that if they and their counterparts withdraw from defense or weapons work, they can force a stoppage and bring about a peaceful equilibrium. There is a fundamental consideration that has been too little covered in this debate, however: What are the moral consequences of societies rooted in a Just War tradition refusing to invest in sophisticated defense technologies while authoritarian regimes invest aggressively in their development?

Dale: Reflections on four weird years fact checking every word from Donald Trump

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/19/politics/fact-check-daniel-dale-reflections-fact-checking-trump/index.html

In September 2020, I had to abandon my effort to produce a comprehensive count of the false claims: Trump was doing so much lying during the campaign that I physically could not keep up. By then, I'd tallied about 9,000 false claims since September 2016.

Trump never lashed out at me that whole time. (He did block me on Twitter in 2017.) And unlike aides to other politicians I've fact checked, Trump's White House underlings never got in touch to try to scold me or to spin me out of a finding that he had been inaccurate.

I thought this was telling.

Whatever the Trump officials said publicly, they likely knew, too, that Trump lied a whole lot. They also knew that, whatever some guy wrote for a Canadian paper or said on CNN, they could get his lies to his base unchallenged through social media and friendly outlets like Fox News, One America News and Breitbart. 

18 January, 2021

The Death Of Expertise

  1. We can all stipulate: the expert isn’t always right.
  2. But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. (Because, likely, it is.)
  3. Experts come in many flavors. Education enables it, but practitioners in a field acquire expertise through experience; usually the combination of the two is the mark of a true expert in a field. But if you have neither education nor experience, you might want to consider exactly what it is you’re bringing to the argument.
  4. In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible. The University of Google doesn’t count. Remember: having a strong opinion about something isn’t the same as knowing something.
  5. And yes, your political opinions have value. Of course they do: you’re a member of a democracy and what you want is as important as what any other voter wants. As a layman, however, your political analysis, has far less value, and probably isn’t — indeed, almost certainly isn’t — as good as you think it is.

A New Sense of Direction - MLK, 1968

https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/articles_papers_reports/4960

There is a striking aspect to the violence of riots that has stimulated little comment and even less analysis. In all the riots together the property damage reached colossal proportions, exceeding a billion dollars. Yet the physical injury inflicted by Negroes upon white people was inconsequential in comparison. The bruising edge of the weapon of violence in Negro hands was employed almost exclusively against property, not persons. The inner rage of Negroes is not yet expressed in anti-humanism.

Mass civil disobedience as a new stage of struggle can transmute the deep anger of the ghetto into a creative force. To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be both longer lasting and more costly to the larger society, but not wantonly destructive. It is a device of social action that is more difficult for the government to quell by superior force. The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win, and their participants know it. Hence riots are not revolutionary but reactionary because they invite defeat. They offer an emotional catharsis, but they must be followed by a sense of futility. Civil disobedience in its mass application has the prospect of success. It is militant and defiant, but not destructive.