21 June, 2022

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN A JEREMIAD AND A EULOGY

https://isi.org/modern-age/somewhere-between-a-jeremiad-and-a-eulogy/

The most conspicuous change I’ve seen over those years is that the number of administrators has ballooned. On the shelves in my office I still have my first Pomona College catalog, for the academic year 1990–91, a printed black-and-white publication with a four-color but poorly designed cardboard-stock cover glued over the smudgy pages in between. Toward the back of the catalog, under “Administration,” there are nine offices listed, covering three pages, naming 56 persons as the members of the administration. Thereafter, the professors are listed, a total of 180. At the time, Pomona matriculated 1,487 students. In 2016 it takes me about ten seconds to find all this information in the cheap 1990 catalog.

Cut to the future, 2016. The catalog is no longer printed in hard copy. Everything is on the web, accessed through something called a “portal.” If you Google it, you can cut into the portal and arrive directly at a website called Pomona College Administrative Offices and Services. There are fifty-six links on this front page, but to get the full list of administrators, you need to click those fifty-six links plus an additional fifty-one links. Even then it’s a little confusing, because many of the main offices are broken up into suboffices for the purposes of this main web page. But the basic organizational structure (after one does some piecing together) is this: Pomona College now has, by my careful count, 271 administrators (note: this number does not include the administrators that are shared in the Claremont University Consortium, which includes a CEO and nine other top administrators, who oversee some 5C pooled services, including health benefits, the library, mail and some phone and IT services, campus safety, the Office of the Chaplin, and some shared maintenance offices). The number of Pomona College faculty remains roughly the same (a current Pomona website lists the number of regular faculty at 186). The number of students has increased to 1,640.z

Catholic priests slaughtered inside church by Mexican cartel, bodies stolen

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/catholic-priests-slaughtered-church-mexican-cartel-bodies-stolen

Catholics are demanding the return of the bodies of two priests who were murdered after attempting to prevent drug traffickers from killing a man inside their church.

"It is with great sadness and pain that we mourn Father Javier Campos Morales, Father Joaquin Mora Salazar, and the man who, unfortunately, lost his life along with them," the Diocese of the Tarahumara region of Western Chihuahua said Tuesday.

The region borders Texas and New Mexico.

The priests were shot dead in the church "with no defense but their faith in God," as they tried to protect a man whose life was in danger, the statement read.

The shooters took all three bodies, which officials are working to locate, according to a report.

16 June, 2022

A lawsuit leads to a deposition about an elaborate attempt to spy on the grieving parents

https://www.npr.org/2022/06/15/1104511732/fox-news-seth-rich-murder

And some shocking information emerged as a result of the litigation. In Aaron Rich's lawsuit, lawyers deposed Thomas Andrew Schoenberger, a consultant who had founded a digital reputation restoration firm promising "decentralized discreet solutions." Butowsky had hired the firm, called ShadowBox. He later acknowledged he was prompted to do so by NPR's unwanted scrutiny of him over his role in Fox's discredited Seth Rich story.

"No matter what room in the house it was, he wanted the phones tapped, the computer tapped, the cellphones tapped," Schoenberger testified. "He said he wanted to be able to hear a pin drop in the kitchen." Schoenberger testified that Butowsky also asked how to get into the Riches' bank accounts.

In an interview with The Daily Beast in early 2020, Butowsky denied asking to spy on the Riches but did confirm the meeting took place. The Daily Beast reported that three people attending the meeting confirmed that they discussed the possibility of eavesdropping on the Riches.

15 June, 2022

Students inside were calling 911 and begging for help. The officers stayed outside for almost an hour during the mass shooting.

https://peggynoonan.com/the-uvalde-police-scandal/

I close with a thought tugging around my brain. I think I am seeing a broad and general decline in professionalism in America, a deterioration of our pride in concepts like rigor and excellence. Jan. 6 comes and law enforcement agencies are weak and unprepared and the U.S. Capitol falls to a small army of mooks. Afghanistan and the departure that was really a collapse, all traceable to the incompetence of diplomatic and military leadership. It’s like everyone’s forgotten the mission.

I’m not saying, “Oh, America was once so wonderful and now it’s not.” I’m saying we are losing old habits of discipline and pride in expertise—of peerlessness. There was a kind of American gleam. If the world called on us—in business, the arts, the military, diplomacy, science—they knew they were going to get help. The grown-ups had arrived, with their deep competence.

America now feels more like people who took the Expedited Three Month Training Course and got the security badge and went to work and formed an affinity group to advocate for change. A people who love to talk, endlessly, about sensitivity, yet aren’t sensitive enough to save the children bleeding out on the other side of the door.

I fear that as a people we’re becoming not only increasingly unimpressive but increasingly unlovable.

My God, I’ve never seen a country so in need of a hero.

13 June, 2022

“Prove to the World You’ve Lost Your Son”

https://slate.com/human-interest/2022/06/shooting-school-texas-uvalde-sandy-hook-conspiracy.html

How a Tulsa grandmother became a vicious Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist—in her own words.

In my new book, I caught up with “gr8mom,” who harassed the families of victims for years. Had her life gone as planned, she would have been a first grade teacher. A suburban Tulsa grandmother, she instead became a vicious conspiracy theorist, tormenting the parents of children murdered in their Sandy Hook classrooms. When we spoke, she told me she was proud of what she’d done—and is still doing.

Today, one-fifth of Americans believe all major mass shootings are staged, according to Joe Uscinski an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami who studies political conspiracy theories. These false theories will no doubt torment the families of the victims in Texas, just as they did in Sandy Hook. How could anyone, a parent no less, not only believe these delusions but make it a point to confront the families with them? Pozner wanted to know. This is the story of one of those people.

11 June, 2022

Jerome Powell on inflation

"I am confident that people will reach the other side of this pandemic with the foundations of their lives intact... But the recovery is far from complete, so, at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes... Our best view is that the effect on inflation will be neither particularly large nor persistent."

Jerome Powell March 23rd, 2021.

February 2021 inflation rate: 1.68%


"We want inflation to run a little bit higher than its been averaging in the last quarter century. We want to average 2%, not 1.7%... However, these one-time increases in prices are likely to have only transitory effects on inflation."

Jerome Powell April 28th, 2021.

March 2021 inflation rate: 2.62%


"Those who have historically been left behind stand the best chance of prospering in a strong economy... We will only reach our full potential when everyone can contribute to, and share in, the benefits of prosperity."

Jerome Powell May 3rd, 2021.

April 2021 inflation rate: 4.16%


"As these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer-run goal, and the median inflation projection falls from 3.4% this year to 2.1% next year... Our new framework for monetary policy emphasizes the importance of having well-anchored inflation expectations."

Jerome Powell June 16th, 2021.

May 2021 inflation rate: 4.99%


“These bottleneck effects have been larger than anticipated, but as these transitory supply effects abate, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer run goal.”

Jerome Powell July 28, 2021.

June 2021 inflation rate: 5.39%


"Many find it counterintuitive that the Fed would want to push up inflation... However, inflation that is persistently too low can pose serious risks to the economy."

Jerome Powell August 27, 2021.

July 2021 inflation rate: 5.37%


"So there are many, many different inflation measures, of course, and thats why we have this thing called the CIE, which is an index of market based measures... if we did see them moving up in a troubling way and running persistently above levels that are really consistent with out mandate, then we would certainly react to that."

Jerome Powell September 22, 2021.

August 2021 inflation rate: 5.25%


"I don't think it's time to taper. I don't think it's time to raise rates. Our policy is well positioned to manage a range of plausible outcomes."

Jerome Powell October 22, 2021.

September 2021 inflation rate: 5.39%


"We understand the difficulties that high inflation poses for individuals and families... Let me say that whats happened, is that inflation is coming higher than expected. We see that just like everyone else does, and we see that they're now on track to persist well into next year... I do think it would be premature to raise rates today."

Jerome Powell November 3, 2021.

October 2021 inflation rate: 6.22%


"The word 'transitory' has different meanings to different people. Its a confusing word that needs to be retired."

Jerome Powell November 30th, 2021.

October 2021 inflation rate: 6.22%


"We're always just going to do what we think is right for the economy and for the people we serve."

Jerome Powell December 15th, 2021.

November 2021 inflation rate: 6.81%


"The old system was in place for decades and then suddenly it was revealed as insufficient... We do take the need to protect our credibility with the public very seriously."

Jerome Powell January 11th, 2022.

December 2021 inflation rate: 7.04%


"I'd say that the inflation situation is about the same or slightly worse... It hasn't gotten better and that's been the pattern... What we're learning is it's just taking much longer, and that raises the risk that high inflation will be more persistent."

Jerome Powell January 26th, 2022.

December 2021 inflation rate: 7.04%


Jerome Powell reelected as Chairman for the Federal Reserve System.

February, 2022.

January 2022 inflation rate: 7.48%


"The inflation that we are experiencing is just nothing that we have experienced in decades... All the things we did during the pandemic, we turned our dials as hard as we could... Part of what we did and what congress did is the reason why inflation is so high."

Jerome Powell March 2nd, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%


"These higher prices have real effects on people's well-being and it takes a toll on everyone. If you're at the lower end of the income spectrum it's very hard because you are spending most of your money on necessities, but it's punishing for everyone... We can't blame the framework. It was a sudden, unexpected burst of inflation and then it was the reaction to it, and it was what it was."

Jerome Powell March 16th, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%


"The rise in inflation has been much greater and more persistent than forecasters generally expected... We're not expecting near-term progress on inflation."

Jerome Powell March 21st, 2022.

February 2022 inflation rate: 7.87%


"It is appropriate in my view to be moving a little more quickly... We had an expectation that inflation would peak around this time and then come down over the course of the rest of the year. These expectations have been disappointing in the past and now we want to see actual progress... Are we going back to the old economy? Probably not. What's the new one going to look like?"

Jerome Powell April 21st, 2022.

March 2022 inflation rate: 8.54%


"We have a good chance at a soft or softish landing... There's a false precision in the discussion that we as policymakers don't really feel... the economy is doing fairly well... I think we have a good chance to restore price stability without a recession."

Jerome Powell May 4th, 2022.

April 2022 inflation rate: 8.30% 

The Rhetoric Tricks, Traps, and Tactics of White Nationalism

https://medium.com/@DeoTasDevil/the-rhetoric-tricks-traps-and-tactics-of-white-nationalism-b0bca3caeb84

The images in this piece are going to be straight from the white nationalists themselves, their guides to each other on how to mainstream their ideas. Often they operate in groups, like BUGS or similar. There may be an outright “nazi” that the other neo-Nazis point to in order to say “Woah buddy I’m not like that guy, what I say is reasonable and you should listen.” By and large the majority will NEVER admit to holding and espousing neo-Nazis beliefs, the goal is to lead you into the pit until you don’t want to get out and then drop the charade of put upon centrism. This hiding the true ideology under a layer of more acceptable talking points is called “hiding powerlevel”. To deceive and recruit people it is imperative that they can make a connection of trust first, and being outright in their beliefs would mean they get dismissed before they have the chance to recruit. They are going to appeal to you, they are going to use things you like to make you empathize with them, and then over time they will slowly, feed you the Whitaker mantras and white nationalist talking points.


The propaganda of 4CHAN /POL/

https://www.reddit.com/r/WhitePeopleTwitter/comments/uqeqnn/tucker_carlson_may_as_well_have_pulled_the_trigger/i8ri330/

Depending on the target, you'd either have some talking points to "debate" (sometimes with yourself/other anons working alongside you) or you'd go in there guns blazing trying to cause as much damage/chaos as you can. However, even then you can't go out there yelling slurs (you'd just get banned instantly); you have to maintain some level of plausible deniability by framing things as "jokes" or thought experiments.

You purposely do bad-faith arguments because the time it takes for them to dig up sources and refute you is longer than it takes for you to make stuff up. You can vary how obvious the bad faith argument is; when you want to troll you make very stupid claims (I once claimed I was a graduate of "Harvad University" and when people assumed that I meant "Harvard" I would correct them right down to Photoshopped images).

When you just want to cause dissent you do exactly what those /pol/ screenshots do: you get to a thread early (sometimes you even make it yourself) and present reasonable-sounding arguments which are completely false if anyone bothers to look into them. If someone does, you bury the message under strawmen, downvotes, reports, and sockpuppets.

u/aniopala on a lying jailhouse informant

 https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/uwl4o5/timothy_taylor_and_his_family_speak_on_the/

In 2009, Brittanee Drexel (17) went missing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during Spring Break. No remains were found and no one was ever arrested.

In 2011, Timothy Taylor drove a getaway vehicle during the robbery of a McDonald's in Mount Pleasant, roughly 1-2 hours driving from Myrtle Beach. He was convicted and sentenced to probation.

In June 2016, the FBI held a press conference in which they stated they believed Brittanee had been abducted from Myrtle Beach and murdered in a second location.

Timothy Taylor, by summer 2016, had finished his probation. He was arrested again for his role in the 2011 robbery. Prosecuers claimed it was not in violation of double jeopardy because the federal government can bring federal charges for the same crime if the state prosecution led to an unfair outcome (the unfair outcome in this case being that Taylor received a lighter sentence than the two other men involved). Since he already pled guilty to the crime, it wasn't a promising outlook.

At his bond hearing, the prosecuter tells the judge the new charges are due to Taylor being a suspect in the rape and murder of Brittanee Drexel. The prosecutor claims bail for the robbery charge should not be granted because Taylor was withholding information about Drexel.

The FBI release the story that Brittanee Drexel had been abducted, taken to a trap house, sexually assaulted, murdered, and her body thrown to the local gators. They release Taylor's name, and state they believe he (16 at the time of the murder) and his father were involved in the abduction, gang rape, and murder of Brittanee Drexel.

Where did they get this information? A prison informant named Taquan Brown. Brown claimed to have been eyewitness to Taylor and 8 to 12 other men raping Drexel. He additionally claimed to have seen Drexel attempt to escape, to have heard gunshots shortly thereafter, and then to have seen a body removed from the house wrapped in a rug.

There was an additional anonymous jailhouse informant. The second informant claimed Taylor "showed [Drexel] off, introduced her to some other friends that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation," as quoted by the FBI.

(Brown changes his story multiple times, and several more in an interview in 2019; some of the people he names as having seen participate were incarcerated during the alleged time of the murder. He has either tried or is trying to sue the FBI agents involved for releasing his name to the press, endangering his life.)

The FBI claim Taylor abducted Drexel for the purposes of human trafficking, then killed her either for trying to escape or because of the increased media attention on her disappearance. Taylor has maintained that he was in class at Lincoln High School during the time Brown claimed to have seen him assaulting her.

In 2017 Taylor is told that federal prosecutors will seek the maximum sentencing... unless he takes a polygraph test about Brittanee Drexel. If he passed, they would recommend a lighter sentence. In South Carolina, polygraph results are admissible in court if all attorneys agree.

The first test is declared inconclusive by the FBI, but federal prosecutors claim Taylor showed "deception" throughout. ABC15 news stated that the FBI claimed Taylor was being deceptive "even when answering his own name". Taylor took a second polygraph, and the FBI declared he had failed to respond truthfully about seeing or knowing Brittanee Drexel. This information was immediately released to the press. The DOJ recommend a sentence of 10 to 20 years due to his deception. In December of 2019 Taylor is sentenced to 3-5yrs probation.

This month, 62yo Raymond Moody was arrested for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Brittanee Drexel on April 25, 2009. He led LEOs to her remains, confirmed through DNA and dental records. Moody had been identified as a person of interest in the original 2009 investigation, but never arrested.

According to Taylor's attorney, the family was never notified that Taylor's name is cleared and the case considered closed; they found out when they were contacted to comment by a newspaper.

07 June, 2022

u/ReshKayden on diversity in gaming

https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/v67r4n/whats_the_deal_with_activisionblizzards_diversity/ibelhis/

Due to an odd quirk in how the game industry developed, went bankrupt, and then re-emerged and marketed itself during other cultural changes in the 1980s that were pushing women away from tech more broadly, for the next couple decades the vast majority of gamers were straight, white, cisgendered boys between the ages of around 12 and 25. Tons of market research and focus groups went into figuring out what kind of characters this specific audience wanted to play, and the result was a bunch of main characters that all looked like this.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with this in every case. It's not that gamers were all necessarily racist/sexist, or that the industry had a lack of imagination, or that there was some conspiracy. It's that we researched the hell out of it, and found that characters who looked like that hit the largest overlapping segment of our existing customers in terms of what they wanted to play, for the budgets we had. So we stuck with that. It was a risk calculation.

The trouble is, the game industry started to hit saturation in terms of that customer space back 10-15 years ago. In other words, the gamers who want to play characters who all look like that are a relatively stable number, and they were already all playing our games. In order for the industry to grow, and to get the increased sales to experiment with new types of game designs like everyone wanted, we needed to find new customers outside of that already saturated customer base. 

1,000 True Fans? Try 100

 https://future.com/1000-true-fans-try-100/


More than a decade ago, Wired editor Kevin Kelly wrote an essay called “1,000 True Fans,” predicting that the internet would allow large swaths of people to make a living off their creations, whether an artist, musician, author, or entrepreneur. Rather than pursuing widespread celebrity, he argued, creators only needed to engage a modest base of “true fans”—those who will “buy anything you produce”—to the tune of $100 per fan, per year (for a total annual income of $100,000). By embracing online networks, he believed creators could bypass traditional gatekeepers and middlemen, get paid directly by a smaller base of fans, and live comfortably off the spoils.

Today, that idea is as salient as ever—but I propose taking it a step further. As the Passion Economy grows, more people are monetizing what they love. The global adoption of social platforms like Facebook and YouTube, the mainstreaming of the influencer model, and the rise of new creator tools has shifted the threshold for success. I believe that creators need to amass only 100 True Fans—not 1,000—paying them $1,000 a year, not $100. Today, creators can effectively make more money off fewer fans.

06 June, 2022

One Good Thing: 107 minutes of Wall Street traders behaving badly

https://www.vox.com/23138194/margin-call-one-good-thing-morals

Toward the end of the film, Rogers is giving a pep talk to a room of traders, “People are going to say some very nasty things about what we do here today, and about what you’ve dedicated a portion of your lives to,” he tells them. “But have faith that in the bigger picture, our skills have not been wasted. We have accomplished much, and our talents have been used for the greater good.” This is a man doing something he knows is wrong, and not just that but wielding his power to make dozens of other people do something he knows is wrong. The brilliance of the movie is its illustration of why he, and so many like him, make that choice, again and again and again.

The Surreal [possible] Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/06/13/the-surreal-case-of-a-cia-hackers-revenge

A hot-headed coder is accused of exposing the agency’s hacking arsenal. Did he betray his country because he was pissed off at his colleagues? 

02 June, 2022

Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/06/02/google-caste-equality-labs-tanuja-gupta/

Two days before Soundararajan’s presentation, seven Google employees sent emails to company leaders and Gupta “with inflammatory language about how they felt harmed and how they felt their lives were at risk by the discussion of caste equity,” according to emails sent by Gupta. Some of the complaints “copied content from known misinformation sites to malign the reputation of the speaker,” Gupta’s emails said — sites and organizations that have targeted academics in the United States and Canada who are critical of Hindu nationalism or caste hierarchy.

Then the controversy within Google migrated to an 8,000-person email group for South Asian employees, according to three current employees. After Gupta posted a link in the email group to a petition to reinstate the talk, respondents argued that caste discrimination does not exist, that caste is not a thing in the United States, and that efforts to raise awareness of these issues in the United States would sow further division. Some called caste equity a form of reverse discrimination against the highest-ranked castes because of India’s affirmative action system for access to education and government jobs. Others said people from marginalized castes lack the education to properly interpret Hindu scriptures around castes.

01 June, 2022

We Clerked for Justices Scalia and Stevens. America Is Getting Heller Wrong.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/31/opinion/supreme-court-heller-guns.html

Kate believes that Justice Stevens’s dissent in Heller provided a better account of both the text and history of the Second Amendment and that in any event, the method of historical inquiry the majority prescribes should lead to the court upholding most gun safety measures, including the New York law pending before the Supreme Court. John believes that Heller correctly construed the original meaning of the Second Amendment and is one of the most important decisions in U.S. history. We disagree about whether Heller should be extended to protect citizens who wish to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense and, if so, how states may regulate that activity — issues that the Supreme Court is set to decide in the New York case in the next month or so.

But despite our fundamental disagreements, we are both concerned that Heller has been misused in important policy debates about our nation’s gun laws. In the 14 years since the Heller decision, Congress has not enacted significant new laws regulating firearms, despite progressives’ calls for such measures in the wake of mass shootings. Many politicians cite Heller as the reason. But they are wrong.

Heller does not totally disable government from passing laws that seek to prevent the kind of atrocities we saw in Uvalde, Texas. And we believe that politicians on both sides of the aisle have (intentionally or not) misconstrued Heller. Some progressives, for example, have blamed the Second Amendment, Heller or the Supreme Court for mass shootings. And some conservatives have justified contested policy positions merely by pointing to Heller, as if the opinion resolved the issues.

Neither is fair. Rather, we think it’s clear that every member of the court on which we clerked joined an opinion, either majority or dissent, that agreed that the Constitution leaves elected officials an array of policy options when it comes to gun regulation.


Five years on food stamps

https://island94.org/2022/03/five-years-food-stamps

Delta: Maintain Client Success as the centerpole during growth

I think of “scaling” entailing both size and health. Early on, “Client Success” was the unifying intention of everyone (“close the participation gap”). Everyone was exhorted to use their whole selves to help clients receive benefits. I remember being mindblowingly told “you have their phone number, call them” when I observed clients hit technical or process barriers; I did, again and again. Technology was in the truest sense an extension of our embodied capacity to help.

As time went on the client success function became less of a critical inspiration, and instead came to feel closer to the status quo: handling the overwhelming externalities of the service, rather than the service being the multiplier of our puny human abilities. I feel a responsibility to help balance “we don’t need to help ourselves” with “put on your oxygen mask before helping others”; and “leave a seam” with “a stitch in time saves nine”.

And “success” felt narrowed with a refocusing towards “Systems Change” and the subjectless “Build with”. My desires for lighting escalation paths (“click here to talk to a supervisor; a director; your state representative; the FBI”), and consciousness-raising (“20k people in your county also had their benefits denied this month too”) remain unfulfilled.

u/TerribleAttitude on Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima

https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/v16z3j/eli5_why_was_uncle_bens_considered_racist/iakv2bs/

In the antebellum and Jim Crow south, black people were virtually never referred to as adults by white people. Young and middle aged adult black people would still be referred to by (at best) their first names and more often as “boy” or “girl” (or possibly some other even less polite words). Because it’s ridiculous to refer to an elderly person as “boy” or “girl,” elderly black people, especially those who had a certain level of status as slaves, would instead be referred to as “uncle” or “aunt.”

The south at that time was highly formal about these things; you’d never refer to an adult white person, even if they were a servant, as “boy” or “girl” in that same way, and first name only was for people you were very familiar with, or maybe children. You’d pretty much always be expected to refer to adults by Mr, Mrs, Miss, Dr, Reverend, etc. Even young children would sometimes be referred to with an honorific (Miss or Master. Note, in this context, “master” does not necessarily mean “slave master,” it’s just a way to differentiate between a boy and an adult man, who would be “mister”). Referring to adult black people with familiar terms like “uncle” or “aunt,” or juvenile terms like “boy” or “girl,” or over familiar terms like their first name, while simultaneously requiring that same person to refer to a white toddler as “Miss Susie” or “Master Jimmy,” means that black people were permanently placed in a subservient child class below actual children. Aunt and Uncle aren’t “child” titles, but still have an implication of extreme familiarity. Your aunt and uncle are people who take care of you. There’s a reason the term Uncle Tom is used to refer to a stupid black person who caters to white people for validation at the expense of other black people and their own dignity.

Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima were originally conceived as nostalgic characters of the antebellum south. They were implied to be, if not explicitly stated, to be literal slaves who spoke ignorantly and found joy only in cooking for their white “masters” (as in slave owners). They were drawn or acted as shucking, jiving minstrel caricatures of black people. As time went on, those aspects of the characters were obviously dropped, with Uncle Ben looking more like a chef and Aunt Jemima having more of a businesswoman or housewife vibe, but the terms still carry an implication of slavish black servants looking only to cater to white people’s tummies. 

28 May, 2022

How our free plan stays free

https://tailscale.com/blog/free-plan/

We also get users who write in to support asking, “How can it possibly be free?!?” In certain tech communities, you will sometimes see a comment like this1 on articles about Tailscale:

“If you’re not paying, then you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

I’ve always disliked that claim. It starts from a grain of truth, especially for advertising- or spyware-based companies. But it’s not universally relevant. Sometimes a free lunch is just a free lunch.

Is there really such a thing? What’s the catch? Let’s discuss Tailscale’s business model.

03 May, 2022

a reddit user on a terrible stillbirth

https://www.reddit.com/r/beyondthebump/comments/uh8fnl/roe_v_wade_megathread/i78casz/

I just don’t even know what else to say. I’m so tired of anyone aside from my doctor and me making decisions for my own health.

I had a stillbirth 5 years ago in Texas. I didn’t want a stillbirth. I didn’t want to ever need an abortion. I’ll say it again. I DIDNT WANT TO NEED an abortion. Ever.

My baby girl was very much wanted. By both my husband and I. Fuck. We did everything “rIgHt” according to their fucking conservative social norms.

Married first. Had our first baby. We wanted a second. Though we were a little surprised on the timing. And I had gotten pregnant while on the pill. No biggie. We wanted a second anyways.

I was thrilled. My husband was happy. Went in to do all your prenatal testing and that was the fucking start to the worst year of my life.

We did the quad-screen and it popped positive for possible Down syndrome. Of course we were worried and scared. But in the few days before seeing a specialist we had decided that Down syndrome wasn’t going to be something we wouldn’t be able to handle.

Cue the visit at the specialist. First we met with the geneticist who talked about ang and all possible inheritable diseases that could hide in our family history and explained that sometimes the quad screen will pop positive for DS and it could be anything else. Or nothing. And only an amniocentesis would give a definite answer. Which I insisted on doing because I wanted to be able to prepare as much as I could if I were to have a special needs child.

And then we went in for the ultrasound. The tech was nice and showed us everything. We found out we were having a girl yay. And then the doctor came in. He spend some time looking at the ultrasound himself before showing and explaining everything to us. At this point I was still hoping this was just a rare false positive.

But that hope was just shattered. Our baby girl had a severe heart defect. Cystic Hygroma, hydrops fetalis. A full body edema. He looked at us. And I can still hear the words. “I’m sorry. I don’t think your baby will survive the next 6-8 weeks.” I decided I wanted the amniocentesis, because I needed to know what was going on. Which happened just the next day.

The results came back 2 weeks later. Our baby girl had Turner Syndrome. Which about 1% of pregnancies with Turner Syndrome will make it to term. If she survived the pregnancy TS wouldn’t be as much of an issue as her heart defect: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The problem was the sum of her physical health.

We went to a second doctor because if I were to need to make a decision to terminate my pregnancy I wanted to know all I could. She basically confirmed what our first doctor said.

What do you do if you’re told your baby won’t survive to be born? The baby you had plans, hopes and dreams for? The baby you have a name for?

So I talked to my doctor what our options were. And at this point. None. The law made all abortions illegal past 20 weeks. And I was more than 20 weeks pregnant. The only exception in the law at the time was if the physical health of the mother was in danger. My physical health wasn’t in danger as long as my daughter was still alive. My mental health didn’t matter apparently. I was diagnosed with antenatal depression, to no surprise of anyone on my medical team.

I had to go to weekly check ups. Sit in the doctors office surrounded by dozens of pregnant women, who were excitedly talking about names, nurseries etc. it was pure torture.

Until at my last appointment they couldn’t find her heartbeat anymore. They allowed us to stay in the room until I felt strong enough to stop crying and sobbing. And I left to go home with an appointment to be induced the next morning.

The whole thing lasted a couple hours. But they gave me all the pain meds because they didn’t have to worry about the baby. I just wish that could’ve also knocked out the mental pain. After a bit I pushed out my baby girl. The placenta didn’t come out in one piece though. Of course why would anything go smoothly? So to prevent me from bleeding out they manually extracted the rest of the placenta. Which - fun fact - your uterus itself isn’t numbed when you’re on all the pain meds. So for a manual extraction the doctor takes their hand and pushes through the cervix into the uterus to use their hand to carve out the placenta. While you feel it.

I was screaming in pain.

After all that I was able to spend the rest of the day holding my daughter. Before we had to say goodbye forever.

All this and you still get hospital bills. Funeral bills. Therapy bills. But sure. Almost making my husband a widower, forcing my oldest to possibly growing up without her mother or pushing a family into debt is better than allowing a mother to make the decisions regarding her own pregnancy with her medical team.

Abortions are healthcare. Mental health is physical health. You won’t be able to stop abortions. You’ll only be able to stop safe abortions. You’ll see more women die. Congratulations. I’m terribly grateful for modern medicine or I’d have died.

This isn’t about saving babies. If they wanted to save babies they’d care about the ones that are born and alive. Not the hypothetical babies. They just want easy brownie points to feel morally superior

23 April, 2022

Scarcity Truthers

https://philo.substack.com/p/scarcity-truthers?s=r

We fret about how hard we work and what tools we use when our organizations routinely refuse to adopt simple best practices due to not-invented-here syndrome or other similar biases. This is the reason so many underperforming companies have a miraculous turnaround after a change in management, even though the new management team is much less knowledgeable than the old management team – they will improve the situation simply by making the obvious changes that the previous management team refused to accept. This is also why skilled salespeople are so important even for products that seemingly should sell themselves; there is a natural resistance to anything new in an organization.

And for all of the benefits that a small dose of self-deception can have for our mental health, it should go without saying that many of the problems we have in our personal lives are because we live in denial of certain important truths, and we can experience a major turnaround the moment we manage to accept them.

We can be optimistic that the abundance agenda will eventually make some headway, if only because society cannot long tolerate too much artificial scarcity. However, it is human psychology that is at the root of our problems with artificial scarcity, and history suggests that that is a problem we can never fully solve.

20 April, 2022

They Know How Journalism Works! They’re Just Against It!

https://theap.substack.com/p/they-know-how-journalism-works-theyre?s=r


It’s more like they need people to just randomly trust whatever bullshit feels right, to get them to fall for scams and believe propaganda. In the grandest dreams of the pathetic people doing most of the unpaid work, the end game is the eradication of “deviance” from public life. And that is a real threat that the people opposing this should take more seriously. Upstairs from them are the people whose job it is to make sure old people set up recurring payments. Upstairs from them, the goal is that no one finds the boss’s shell companies or offshore accounts. The mission is mainly to prevent, stigmatize, and delegitimize the discovery and confirmation and dissemination of information about how a few people got their money, where they keep it, and what they do with it—like spending it on subsidizing bigotry about trans people and getting gay teachers fired.

16 April, 2022

Building Trust Across the Political Divide

https://comment.org/building-trust-across-the-political-divide/

Perhaps hardest of all, a profound integrity is required for this kind of bridge-building. Most organizations of all varieties handle conflict poorly, from management on down. Integrity here means practicing internally what you teach externally. It takes the shape of concentric circles: using fairness and welcome to carry yourself through internal conflict, loving your team through interpersonal conflicts, and teaching others to love one another through conflict with those they barely know.

The good news is that conflict that is channelled in a healthy direction is one of the most powerful forces for good we have at our disposal. It puts us in touch with our deep moral roots, and brings out the differences between us that, when combined productively, can create genuine dynamism. It produces a powerful sense of freedom, acceptance, and the bracing pleasure that comes with growth. In a word, it is the progenitor of flourishing, for both the bridge-builders and the world they seek to mend.

14 April, 2022

MICHIGAN REDISTRICTING MAP ANALYSIS


There are two alternative ideas as to what is “fair.” One notion of fairness is an idea of symmetry: each party must be equally able to translate statewide vote share into seats. For instance, if two parties each net exactly half the votes, symmetry requires that they each are awarded half the seats. Despite its intuitive appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that this idea of fairness as symmetry is “based on a norm that does not exist in our electoral system.”

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania proposed a different notion of fairness: the seat outcome is “neutral” if it is similar to the outcome we would expect if the electoral institutions were designed without considering partisan considerations. A redistricting map is “fair” under this second notion if it leads to neutral seat outcomes.

11 April, 2022

WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/

Those who oppose regulation of social media generally focus on the legitimate concern that government-mandated content restrictions will, in practice, devolve into censorship. But the main problem with social media is not that some people post fake or toxic stuff; it’s that fake and outrage-inducing content can now attain a level of reach and influence that was not possible before 2009. 

27 March, 2022

On Elon Musk And Free Speech

https://www.techdirt.com/2022/03/25/on-elon-musk-and-free-speech/

But maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason why every website learns that you have to do some moderation. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll come to understand that the “principles of free speech” also include the right of private companies to set their own policies and to exclude those who violate those policies. I mean, usually, that’s done in a more systemized manner than Musk banning a journalist for criticizing him, but, hey, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

06 March, 2022

The Russia we have lost

https://unherd.com/2022/03/the-russia-we-have-lost/

Friends are booking flights to Tashkent. The FSB are interrogating them at the border. Others are panicking; there are hardly any flights left: they’re all booked up, everything’s grounded, sanctions have closed allied airspace in every direction. And these are same people, the same generation, who only ten years ago, were marching happily through Moscow, raising money and fighting corruption, only to dash their heads, just as the Decembrists  had, when it frightened Him, when it enraged Him, when He turned out not to be this pathetic topless clown — he was Gollum in all of the memes — but truly a beast. Those were the protests that set it in motion: the squeezing of freedom, the arrests, the filetting of journalists, until now we have this.

28 February, 2022

‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/02/28/world-war-iii-already-there-00012340

“Sadly, we are treading back through old historical patterns that we said that we would never permit to happen again,” Hill told me.

Those old historical patterns include Western businesses who fail to see how they help build a tyrant’s war chest, admirers enamored of an autocrat’s “strength” and politicians’ tendency to point fingers inward for political gain instead of working together for their nation’s security.

But at the same time, Hill says it’s not too late to turn Putin back, and it’s a job not just for the Ukrainians or for NATO — it’s a job that ordinary Westerners and companies can assist in important ways once they grasp what’s at stake.

“Ukraine has become the front line in a struggle, not just between democracies and autocracies but in a struggle for maintaining a rules-based system in which the things that countries want are not taken by force,” Hill said. “Every country in the world should be paying close attention to this.”

26 February, 2022

25 Differences Between Private Sector and Government Managers

 https://www.powermag.com/25-differences-between-private-sector-and-government-managers/

  1. There is very little personal gain in the government for taking risks on policy or programs and being successful in achieving the goals more effectively. However, there is potential for substantial criticism and other personal loss if the innovative attempt fails.
  2. The key reality to the private sector is market-driven competition, whereas the same in the government is almost always a legislated monopoly.
  3. Private sector managers worry about creating added value, that is, a product or service that can be sold competitively to the public. This requires the ability and skill to change, evolve, adapt, and improve constantly. Government is frequently quite different. Managers in the government often know what needs to be done and desire to do it but are facing restrictions of laws, regulations, and policies—often made years earlier for other circumstances—that prevent prompt action.
  4. Authority and responsibility in the government tends to be asymmetric while authority and responsibility in the private sector are more clearly balanced. Responsibility in the government can be enormous while authority is frequently quite limited.
  5. Authority in government may be ambiguous and unclear in some circumstances. In other cases, it is very clear and tightly restricted through laws, regulations, policies, and directives that leave little, if any, room for individual initiative.

24 February, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/opinion/tara-westover-educated-student-debt.html

To poor kids today, we present a no-win scenario. We shout shrilly that they must get a college degree, because without one they can’t hope to compete in the globalized economy, but even as we say it, we doubt our own advice. We know that we are asking them to bury themselves in debt at a moment when it is very uncertain what kind of job they will be able to get or how long it will take them to repay the loans. We know it, and they know it. For them, the American dream has become a taunt. Perhaps my story is proof not of the persistence of the American dream but of its precarity, even its absence.

The solutions are multitude. We could restore funding to public universities and insist that they operate as public utilities, rather than as strictly profit-driven businesses. We could increase Pell grants and reform student debt. If we were more ambitious, we could tackle the supreme inequality that, in recent decades, has disfigured every fact and facet of social and political life.

22 February, 2022

How to Fix Social Media

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/how-to-fix-social-media

The amateurs — adolescent boys, many of them — played a crucial role in the development of radio technology, and most used their sets responsibly. But some, in another foreshadowing of the net, were bent on mischief and mayhem. Shielded by anonymity, they would transmit rumors and lies, slurs and slanders. The U.S. Navy, which relied on radio to manage its fleet, was a prime target. Officers “complained bitterly,” Slotten reports, “about amateurs sending out fake distress calls or posing as naval commanders and sending ships on fraudulent missions.”

The nuisance became a crisis in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, when the Titanic sank after its fateful collision with an iceberg. Efforts to rescue the passengers were hindered by a barrage of amateur radio messages. The messages clogged the airwaves, making it hard for official transmissions to get through. Worse, some of the amateurs sent out what we would today call fake news, including a widely circulated rumor that the Titanic remained seaworthy and was being towed to a nearby port for repairs.

13 February, 2022

Opinion: Restoring our troubled Republic

https://www.ajc.com/opinion/opinion-restoring-our-troubled-republic/W6GZLKZAQVB7ZDWLDSARAKMET4/

What is now being exposed ought to chill every citizen to their core and move them to engage in the affairs of the nation. We now have ample evidence that all of us, whether we voted for Trump or not, by our actions and choices, through our protests, and through our personal social and network media accounts, helped create and drive a situation in which our democracy was defiled, and the public was confused, indoctrinated and incited to violence and riot -- even killing and injuring those sworn to protect it. No person, no media personality or outlet and no political party who supports such conduct contrary to the law and the Constitution deserves our attention, much less our support. Indeed, they demand our condemnation.

As Lincoln observed in the same speech quoted above: “Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.”

12 February, 2022

The Intellectual Incoherence of Cryptoassets

https://www.stephendiehl.com/blog/crypto-absurd.html

Setting all these models aside, there are two far more coherent perspectives on the crypto assets that have far more explanatory power for the behavior we see. Crypto assets are the synthesis of a speculative mania and a financial scam built around an opaque technology, phoney populism, with a tolerance for intellectual incoherence at its core. And it is a novel type of a scam, one that we don’t have a precise term of art for. They share the obscured and circular payouts of Ponzi schemes, the cult-like recruiting of multilevel marketing schemes, the ephemeral nature of high-yield investment fraud, and payout mechanics of pyramid schemes but strictly speaking they aren’t exactly like any of the classical scams. They’re something entirely new that we don’t have a word for yet. Some people have cleverly suggested we adapt the German compound word schneeballsystem or snowball scheme to refer to this new type of scam.

However there is a simple inescapable truth behind these schemes. These schemes around crypto tokens cannot create or destroy actual dollars, they can only shift them around. If you sell your crypto and make a profit in dollars, it’s only because someone else bought it at a higher price than you did. And then they expect to do the same and so on and so on ad infinitum. Every dollar that comes out of cryptocurrency needs to come from a later investor putting a dollar in. Crypto investments cannot be anything but a zero sum game, and many are actually massively negative sum. In order to presume a crypto investments functions as a store of value we simultaneously need to suppose an infinite chain of greater fools who keep buying these assets at any irrational price and into the future forever.