“Typically other people’s problems seem simpler, uncomplicated and easier to solve than those of one’s own society. In this context, the decontextualized hunger and homelessness in Haiti, Cambodia or Vietnam is an easy moral choice. Unlike the problems of other societies, the failing inner city schools in Chicago or the haplessness of those living on the fringes in Detroit is connected to larger political narratives. In simple terms, the lack of knowledge of other cultures makes them easier to help.”—The white tourist’s burden | Al Jazeera America
“There’s nothing “normal” about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class. Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels.”—The Middle Class Is Not ”Normal” (via azspot)
“Hou’s discovery is one of about a dozen sign languages identified for the first time by linguists in the last decade, and more are popping up. Most recently a group of American and Israeli linguists have been studying two new sign languages in Israel, one of which arose only four generations ago in a Bedouin village with an unusually large deaf population. Such “village sign languages,” as they’re called, appear all over the world. There is Ban Khor, a sign language used by about a thousand people in a village in Thailand; Adamorobe, a language in Ghana that shares a number of traits with other West African sign languages, like loose hand shapes and sweeping gestures; and Kata Kolok (literally “deaf language”), which developed in Bengkala, Indonesia, where villagers share a belief in Bhatara Kolok, a deaf god.”—AJAM, "Inventing a New Language"
I hope that the players at Northwestern will understand that when NCAA president Mark Emmert says that “no one up here” believes a union is necessary, what he means is, “No one up here in the offices of the NCAA, which generated $913 million in revenue last year thanks in large part to the unpaid players in Division I men’s basketball and football, sees a problem with the current system, which serves our interests quite well. Neither I, Mark Emmert, who made $1.7 million in 2011, nor your coach, Pat Fitzgerald, who was paid $2.2 million the same year, believe that you, the unpaid players, need a union to protect and advance your interests. We, the highly paid kings of college athletics, believe that the current situation in which we have all of the power and money and you have none is preferable.”
That is what NCAA president Mark Emmert is saying to you, college athletes. Just to be clear.
“In December 2010 [Silver] set out to acquit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sexual assault allegations in the court of statistics. Silver used a technique called Bayesian inference, in which he split factors into underlying conditions and new information, arriving after some analysis at the conclusion that the charges against Assange were (likely) trumped up. But one underlying factor Silver wasn’t considering was himself. A survey of research in the 2002 paper “Effects of victim sex and sexual orientation on perceptions of rape” in the journal Sex Roles cited a bundle of studies finding men “more likely to believe that a rape victim is responsible for her own victimization, that she provoked the assault by her relationship with the perpetrator, that she wanted sex, or that her behavior invited the rape.” Could an evaluation of his own underlying conditions have affected Silver’s calculation? What would the results of “critical” Bayesian inference look like? That’s the kind of truth that I fear will remain “beyond our perception.””—
There are many good counters to Nate Silver’s launch-trolling, but this is by far the best
“Garcia’s performance was used in a way that she found abhorrent and her appearance in the film subjected her to threats of physical harm and even death,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority court. “Despite these harms, and despite Garcia’s viable copyright claim, Google refused to remove the film from YouTube.”—
I mean, honestly, if Russell Crowe doesn’t try this defense for his Les Miserables role…
“Last summer, when fast-food workers went on strike demanding a living wage, right-wing media suggested they could be replaced by burger-flipping robots. What a few people have pointed out is that that might not be a bad thing: People should be free to seek pursuits beyond the flame broiler. The demand should be fewer working hours and more leave time, to allow workers to live outside of their jobs, to engage with their families and communities, bolstering civic activity. Economic demands shouldn’t take the form of job creation, but of expanding health care reform that goes beyond Obamacare, so as to decouple health care from employment. The issue of income inequality can be addressed not through creation of more work but through things like a universal basic income.”—There should be more to labor than just work | Al Jazeera America
“Björn Ulvaeus now reveals the reason for the outfits was the Swedish tax code. Newly published Abba: The Official Photo Book, says their expensive outfits were tax deductible only if they were so outrageous they couldn’t be worn on the street. U.S. tax law is similar […]”—
US tax lawyer Robert W. Wood on why members of ABBA wore the outrageous things they did and … answers the question of whether you can write off your clothing expenses. (via putthison)
The infamous butterfly ballot, a staggered two-page layout with candidate names on alternating sides of a central punch-button column, had caused much confusion among Florida voters. Palm Beach County’s election supervisor had made the fateful mistake of enlarging the type on the ballot to accommodate Sunbelt voters’ aging eyes — unwittingly throwing off the alignment in the process. “It was pretty easy to vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore,” says Chisnell, who observed the saga unfolding on TV. “All the crazy recounts were happening not because of a security problem but because of a basic design problem. People had voted for candidates they didn’t intend to because of the design of the ballots.
Chisnell watched, fascinated by on-the-street interviews with grannies complaining that they felt tricked because the ballot was difficult to use. (She has since learned that about 20 percent of Florida voters were exposed to hard-to-read ballots.) This got her thinking: Aren’t there any professional designers involved in creating ballots? She asked around and none of her peers were. She began to search the Internet for ways she could help.
After checking out various government websites, she came across a five-person Ballot Simplification Committee in San Francisco — “It’s like Iron Chef for editors,” says Chisnell — that was responsible for writing the plain-language descriptions of ballot measures. It took a few years, but she wangled her way onto the committee, obtaining an appointment by the mayor. Chisnell, then 43, was the youngest person in the group by far. “There aren’t that many people who can spend 10 weeks a year working for free on this,” says Chisnell, who served from 2005 to 2009 on the pro bono committee.
“With regard to its Internet services, Comcast would emerge from the takeover in a similarly dominant position and thus have no economic incentive to upgrade its own and Time Warner’s outdated cable systems — veritable two-lane toll roads with potholes, compared with the Internet superhighways in Europe, Japan and urban East Asia. In Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, Comcast’s triple-play package — cable, Internet and telephone — costs 10 times what South Korean firms charge in Seoul, albeit with a slower Internet connection for the cheapest Korean deal.”—Comcast’s costly package | Al Jazeera America
Around 1,000 of the less than 17,000 students in KCPS are homeless, Green said. Slightly more than 89 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch and 25 percent have limited proficiency in English. Despite past efforts to desegregate the Kansas City schools, 59.5 percent of students are African-American, 26.6 percent are Hispanic, 9.5 percent are white and 3.8 percent Asian. The district’s boundary includes the inner city but extends into middle-class and affluent neighborhoods.
Of the 31 schools run by the district, not all are failing.
“Historically, the Post’s relationship with the web has been a tumultuous one — until mid-2009, the company refused to house its print and digital staffers under the same roof, or even in the same state. Digital staffers worked in a separate building in Alexandria, Va.”—So Charlie Warzel’s piece has some nice thoughts (though, honestly, it’s not just media reporting that doesn’t understand tech platforms), but this is a misrepresentation—the reason the WaPo digital team started in Arlington (not Alexandria), VA had more to do with real estate costs and making sure the digital employees weren’t part of the Newspaper Guild than it did from any sort of desire to marginalize digital, and in some ways the separation was actually better, since it forced digital create good original web content since they weren’t getting any help from print.
“Unemployment” does not refer to people too lazy to work or to the losers who have failed to secure an available job.
What unemployment means is that there are no available jobs. It means that X number of people are being denied work. The unemployed are not those who refuse work, or who do not seek work, or even those with poor “job-seeking” skills. The unemployed are that percentage of the population whose right to earn a living is being denied to them. The 7 percent or so unemployment rate we have had in the years following the crisis year of the Great Recession refers to the percentage of the work-force for which no jobs exist to seek, to find or to fill.
This is why the better measure of unemployment is the ratio of job-seekers to job openings. That ratio has not sunk below 3 to 1 since the Great Recession. That means that if in a single miraculous instant, every mismatch of geography, skill-set and pay-scale were met and every job opening were filled at once, then two-thirds of our unemployed would remain unemployed. And at that point there would be no reason for any of them to send out résumés, brush up on their interview skills, or do any of that other victim-blaming make-work we expect them to do, unpaid, until such time as someone deigns to allow them to earn a living again.
I prefer that ratio as a measurement of unemployment because it proves — proves — that all of the moralizing lectures levied at the unemployed are cruel and absurd.”—
That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation.
The government’s opponents said three recent actions had been intended to incite the more radical protesters and sow doubt in the minds of moderates: the passing of laws last week circumscribing the right of public assembly, the blocking of a protest march past the Parliament building on Sunday and the sending of cellphone messages on Tuesday to people standing in the vicinity of the fighting that said, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”…
…The phrasing of the message, about participating in a “mass disturbance,” echoed language in a new law making it a crime to participate in a protest deemed violent. The law took effect on Tuesday. And protesters were concerned that the government seemed to be using cutting-edge technology from the advertising industry to pinpoint people for political profiling.
“Charter schools cull their student bodies through admissions rules and through performance standards that lead to high drop-out and expulsion rates. Yet even with cherry-picked student populations and testing-focused curricula, charter schools generally do no better than public schools.”—Read more: http://ow.ly/swZGV (via bostonreview)
Mr. Pearlstine, hired to help the newsroom maintain its independence, sent a memo to top editors this month asking to approve certain kinds of articles before publication. There had, he said, “been some bad decisions over the past couple months and a few examples of sloppy procedure.” He added: “We have published some stuff I would have killed had I known about it ahead of time.”
Mr. Pearlstine asked to see “anything you think might put our journalists and/or our reputation at risk” or result in legal action.
He also asked to see potentially controversial posts on Twitter, picture captions and any stories about Time Inc. and Time Warner, including any reviews of Time Warner movies and other material. Anonymous sources should be run past him, he said, as well as letters and notes by editors, and any significant correspondence from readers.
“A self-proclaimed redneck, the doctor lives on a ranch outside Austin and raises macaws and other large parrots in his spare time. A sticker on his office wall at the clinic reads, “Trust women.” He says he sometimes clashes with his neighbors because they watch too much Fox News and don’t believe in global warming. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions bother him, though. “I’m a f—- you kinda guy,” he says. Minto says that earlier that day, he asked one of his patients what she would do if she got pregnant again after his clinic closed. In that case, she told him, she’d have to resort to something illegal.”—