That time Jimmy Carter walked into a nuclear reactor
So Lt. Carter and the rest of his team ran through a radioactive flood with hand-tools and stopwatches and carried out an incredibly technical feat of nuclear engineering in 89-second intervals fully expecting that it would mean they’d all soon be dead from some horrible form of radiation sickness. And they did it. They shut down the reactor and saved the day. Jimmy Carter is a quiet, gentle man who teaches Sunday school. But don’t forget that he’s also a quiet, gentle, Sunday-school teaching badass.
15 hours ago
The scifi fans are alright: I saw the future at the Hugo Awards — and it will never belong to the toxic right-wing trolls -
But when I thought my “home convention”, the DC-area gaming and music convention MAGFest, might be spoiled for me forever I found out that even though the GamerGaters were frightening and unrelenting and loud on Twitter, they were totally absent at the convention itself and I was able to give a talk about resisting the reactionary culture GamerGate represents to a standing-room-only crowd that gave a standing ovation.
The empire strikes back: The media-political elite’s campaign to destroy Bernie (and Trump) and restore order -
Some of the people who constantly assure us that this reality is the only reality are just being cynical bastards and small-minded ideologues. (I don’t know why this surprised me, but R.J. Cutler’s 2013 documentary “The World According to Dick Cheney” revealed the former vice president, one of the most influential Americans of our time, as deeply incapable of introspection.) But there are plenty of other intelligent and reasonably well-meaning people who have been tube-fed the Kool-Aid of neoliberal economics and the Washington consensus since infancy, who are thoroughly convinced that center-right politics are the only viable politics, and who have effectively embraced a post-9/11 update of Francis Fukuyama’s famous pronouncement that history ended with the Cold War.
Feds to Traffic Engineers: Use Our Money to Build Protected Bike Lanes | Streetsblog USA
The Federal Highway Administration wants to clear the air: Yes, state and local transportation agencies should use federal money to construct high-quality biking and walking infrastructure.
State and local DOTs deploy an array of excuses to avoid building designs like protected bike lanes. “It’s not in the manual” is a favorite. So is “the feds won’t fund that.”

Whether these excuses are cynical or sincere, FHWA wants you to know that they’re bogus.
2 days ago
Content-Free Curriculum
Back in the early days, we had folks arguing that CCSS called for rich content instruction, that it absolutely demanded a classroom filled with the classic canon. At the time I thought those folks were simply hallucinating, since CCSS makes no content demands at all (the closest it comes is the infamous appendix suggested readings list). But I've come to believe that those folks were reacting to the gap that they saw-- "Without rich content, this set of standards is crap, so apparently, by implication and necessity, this must call for rich content. Because otherwise it's crap."
2 days ago
As the Dow Jones Drops | Ian Welsh
Chinese fumbling of this crisis also convinces me that they are now past the point where enough competent people who remember poverty and fear remain in power.
3 days ago
‘Small gestures that go beyond mere function’: Discussing Denmark, Chinese plazas, and Jim Greco with Søren Enevoldsen | fakiehillbomb
It’s funny you ask that. Jonathan Mehring just wrote me a month ago asking the same question for his upcoming book. You see interesting landscape architecture pop up with street spots all over the city. That has a little to do with the government being really interested in public health. They have a huge interest in getting the public to do more physical activities. They want to support “unorganized sports in the urban realm” – Skating, parkour, stretching, work out, street basket etc. A lot of different funds support those initiatives with extra money. Ex. “LOA” (Lokale- anlægsfonden) is a fund that supports sports and culture (They are funded by taxes from soccer gambling). The different funds are really interested in learning how to do this right.
7 days ago
Work Hard, Live Well — Life Learning — Medium
So it is with deep sadness that I observe the current culture of intensity in the tech industry. My intellectual conclusion is that these companies are both destroying the personal lives of their employees and getting nothing in return. A candidate recently deciding between Asana and another fast growing company told me that the other team starts their dinners at 830pm to encourage people to stay late (he’s starting here in a few weeks). I also hear young developers frequently brag about “48 hour” coding sprints. This kind of attitude not only hurts young workers who are willing to “step up” to the expectation, but facilitates ageism and sexism by indirectly discriminating against people who cannot maintain that kind of schedule.
7 days ago
Movie Review: Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation
Full disclosure: Yes, writer/director Chris McQuarrie was a friend of mine in high school. Yes, around 1991 he said I should come out to Hollywood. Yes, I decided to stay in a crappy marketing/training job in Ewing, New Jersey. And yes, soon after, Chris won an Oscar for writing The Usual Suspects. Look, I am not here to dwell on the past and play “what if.” I’m here to review Mission: Impossible 408: You’re Not Still Thinking About That Scientology Documentary Are You?
8 days ago
Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: Why I Am No Longer a Measurement Specialist
When measurement became the instrument of accountability, testing companies prospered and schools suffered. I have watched this happen for several years now. I have slowly withdrawn my intellectual commitment to the field of measurement. Recently I asked my dean to switch my affiliation from the measurement program to the policy program. I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.
9 days ago
Wasted: Before & After 125 Million Dollars — Strong Towns
We've spent $125 million and 2,500 more vehicles use the roadway than in 2008/2010. While over two thousand vehicles is a lot for a resident street, it represents approximately a .6% overall increase. By itself, these numbers don't really show us much beyond relatively flat vehicle miles travels. But, let's imagine it is growing. Where are these 2,500 cars coming from? I think we all know this answer.
10 days ago
the labor market will erode most academic freedom; academics will take care of the rest | Fredrik deBoer
Ultimately the story is the same: if you actually care about free expression on campus, you can do far more good by supporting the labor conditions of academic workers than by yelling at undergraduates. Restoring declining tenure track lines will do more to protect free expression on campus than anything else. Supporting adjunct unions will too. Unfortunately, for too many who complain about the real dangers to free expression on campus, support for faculty, union rights, and worker power writ large are ideologically untenable. Which is why we need a left-wing response to illiberal attitudes on campus, to ensure that these issues are confronted in a way that maintains the actual spirit of academic freedom, rather than merely using that spirit as a cudgel with which to beat passionate student activists.
10 days ago
And So, Without Ed-Tech Criticism...
Without ed-tech criticism, we’ll still be stuck – stuck without these critical practices, stuck without critical making or coding or design in school, stuck without critical (digital) pedagogy. And likely we’ll be stuck with a technocentrism that masks rather than uncovers let alone challenges power.
12 days ago
A Single Mum in 1873 - the Callander Register of the Poor, 1845 - 1895
The reason why the records are so rich originates with the anxiety of mid Victorian society that public money should be spent wisely. Just as we see today, popular opinion was very much against the notion of those who were able to work receiving benefits. Consequently, the Parochial Boards had to gather information about the individuals who came to them for help in order to prove that they had no other means of support. Details were taken of the geographical origins of applicants, the names of their parents, siblings and children, their state of health, religion and recent activities. Many registers, after recording the details of the initial application, then go on to give a note at their page in the register of every time the individual contacted the authority for help. This can provide a biography of the person and their activities over a long period of time in their lives. The resulting registers give a really intimate insight into the lives and circumstances of a section of the population that does not otherwise leave much of a trace of themselves in the written record. They are particularly useful when looking for details of the marginalised in other sources, for example, travelling people and children.
14 days ago
News Corp. Planning to Sell Off Money-Losing Education Unit - The New York Times
Amplify, a much-heralded push by News Corporation into digital education, led by Joel Klein, a former New York City schools chancellor, is nearing an inglorious end.
14 days ago
double-meta ironic machismo is no better than any other kind | Fredrik deBoer
I’ve been called a bro since I was 18 or so. Back then, it actually had a meaning: backslapping, sports-loving, dude-do-you-want-a-brewski, backwards hat-wearing performative masculinity, typically married to homophobia, anti-intellectualism, and binge drinking. Now, it means… guys who are too into David Foster-Wallace? What? How can that be? This whole thing is so indicative of people for whom moving to New York is indistinguishable from crawling up your own ass. Come bike with me up Slayter Hill on a weekend this October. Pedal past the frat houses with me. Listen as they shout homophobic slurs from the porch. Those, my friends, are bros, if there’s such a thing as a bro. Any term that can encompass both those dudes and some lit guy who has the terrible failing of liking a book is a term without meaning, other than “this person reminds me of myself in a way that I find profoundly discomfiting. Just like hipster, which means both overdressed dandy and dressed-down lumberjack, and thus means nothing besides “person I feel socially threatened by.”
14 days ago
Education’s Merchant of Doubt & The Plight of State School Finance Systems | School Finance 101
Of course, even if we assume creative personnel policies to yield marginal improvements to efficiency, if schools with varied levels of resources pursued these strategies with comparable efficiency gains, inequities would remain constant. Requiring those with less to simply be more efficient with what they have is an inequitable requirement. This argument is often linked in popular media and the blogosphere with the popular book and film Moneyball, which asserts that clever statistical analysis for selecting high productivity, undervalued players was the basis for the (short lived) success of the low payroll in 2002 and 2003 Oakland A’s baseball team. The flaws of this analogy are too many to explore thoroughly herein, but the biggest flaw is illustrated by the oft-ignored subtitle of the book – The art of winning an unfair game. That is, gaining a leg up through clever player selection is necessary in baseball because vast wealth and payroll differences across teams make baseball an unfair game. Put bluntly, public schooling should not be an unfair game.
14 days ago
The Success Sequence Is Extremely Misleading And Impossible To Code
Given the above, it’s honestly hard to understand why Sawhill/Haskins and Brookings more generally have presented the Success Sequence like this, or indeed at all. Full-time work gets you the vast majority of the way to the low-poverty conclusion and then high-school education gets you basically right up to it. Bringing in the marriage and child-delay stuff is totally unnecesary and then can’t even be properly identified in the data. Adding a condition that does basically no work for your conclusion that you can’t even identify is utterly baffling. I hate to accuse others of bad faith, but it’s very difficult to not wonder if there was an agenda for the marriage/child points that they crammed in no matter how irrelevant it was and how impossible it was to operationalize.
15 days ago
Why Trump, Corbyn and Sanders are doing well
Trump is doing well because he is telling some truths other politicians won’t, and because his actual policies sound good to right wing populists. Populists have been divided into right and left for a long time, but it’s the feeling that matters to right wing populists. Trump comes across as a straight shooter and that’s why they’ll vote for him. (It is also why many of them will cross the lines to vote for Sanders if he’s the Democratic nominee and Trump isn’t the Republican one.)
16 days ago
The Beer Hole » Craft beer and the identity economy
And as everyone knows, rock stars are famous for how little money they make. But so goes the vagaries of our sad, broken country: a generation of young people have abandoned all hope of financial stability and will accept instead a chance to become known locally as that cool dude who works at the meat packing place.
20 days ago
So you Want to Understand the World? A Reading List
On occasion I get requests for reading lists. Here’s one, not exhaustive.
20 days ago
Random thought for the day - Charlie's Diary
So here's my open question: is it plausible to consider the secretive binding arbitration provisions in TTIP to be a pre-emptive move to prevent an assertion of people power by angry disenfranchised electorates after the house of cards comes tumbling down at some point in the next 5 years? TTIP is due to be ratified by next year, and once locked in, it would be really difficult for a government (however popular) to move unilaterally to demand an accounting of its creditors. Think Syriza in Greece confronting its creditors with a massive democratic mandate and being told to lube up and bend over—but on a global scale, with everyone in the same boat.
23 days ago
“Reform” makes broken New Orleans schools worse: Race, charters, testing and the real story of education after Katrina -
Fajardo is telling me a familiar story, one that I’ve come to think of as the conversion narrative—how she went from being a reform enthusiast to one of the new system’s loudest, and most persistent critics. “I thought charters were the best. College readiness, world-class education—I bought it all. I thought ‘charters must be better than what we have because everyone coming down here is so much smarter than we are.’”
24 days ago
Carole Marshall: Venture capitalists behind new R.I. schools strategy
In their July 7 Commentary piece (“Of, by and for R.I people”), David Moscarelli and Jeremiah Newell claimed that the Rhode Island Strategic Plan 2015-2020 was created by thousands of Rhode Islanders “through a process that is built upon the principles of transparency, engagement, empowerment and respect.” But in reality the public has been kept in the dark about what is really happening and why. The process was not at all transparent, and what looked like engagement was really a dog and pony show with a completely different agenda.
4 weeks ago
To Weed Out Protesters at Last Night’s Event, The Satanic Temple Had Attendees Transfer Their Souls to Satan
According to TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves, attendees for the event had to go through the following process:
1) Show up at the location stated on the e-ticket.
2) Go through a security checkpoint there.
3) Sign a contract transferring their souls to Satan.
4) Get the real location for the event, which was miles away.
It worked. The event went off without a hitch.
4 weeks ago
Uber’s algorithm and the mirage of the marketplace.
Demand is also walled off from supply. When you open the Uber app as a rider, you see a map of your local pickup area, with little sedans around that appear to be drivers available for a request. While you might assume these reflect an accurate picture of market supply, the way drivers are configured in Uber’s marketplace can be misleading. According to Rosenblat and Stark, the presence of those virtual cars on the passenger’s screen does not necessarily reflect an accurate number of drivers who are physically present or their precise locations. Instead, these phantom cars are part of a “visual effect” that Uber uses to emphasize the proximity of drivers to passengers. Not surprisingly, the visual effect shows cars nearby, even when they might not actually exist. Demand, in this case, sees a simulated picture of supply. Whether you are a driver or a rider, the algorithm operating behind the curtain at Uber shows a through-the-looking-glass version of supply and demand.
4 weeks ago
An interview with Professor Iain Borden on Southbank and skatepark design from the 1970s to the present. | fakiehillbomb
There are signs of architects doing more – some of the things Søren Enevoldsen and others have done in Copenhagen and elsewhere in Denmark are good. There are hints of things at the Landhausplatz designed by LAAC Architekten and Stiefel Kramer Architecture in Innsbruck, the Phaeno Science Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects in Wolfsburg, Auditoria Park by Foreign Office Architects in Barcelona, and Oslo Opera House by Snøhetta architects. Tony Bracali’s Paine’s Park in Philadelphia also shows how public spaces can be made good for skaters and general public uses at the same time. Janne Saario and Johan Berglund are other architects/designers/skaters who seem to have a similar eye and approach. But does this all add up to a new trend in urban design? Not yet, no. But it does show that if public opinion continues to increasingly support skateboarding, as it seems to be doing, then the design ideas and talent are there, ready and waiting, to seize the opportunity.
4 weeks ago
Labour is now so passive, it might as well be led by an out-of-office email | Comment is free | The Guardian
So Labour passed the welfare bill with the passive silence of a married orgasm. It has lost touch so badly that it is now getting lectures on empathy from someone from Paisley. Harriet Harman might as well stand down and leave the party to be managed by an out-of-office email. It’s as if their MPs know they lost the election but don’t realise they actually still have jobs in parliament. Like when a nursery kid finishes their one line in the nativity play then carries on picking their nose in front of the school … LABOUR WE CAN STILL SEE YOU.
4 weeks ago
Life in Rahm’s Chicago. Shutting down all but one City College Child Development programs.
Mayor Emanuel and his appointed City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor, Cheryl Hyman, have made the decision to close all of the Child Development programs at five of the City Colleges and consolidate the program to one location at Truman College, which is located on the far north side.
4 weeks ago
We bought it twice but we no longer own it: Is co-location the better option? | School Finance 101
Here, I provide an example of something that’s just bad public policy. I can’t really say… except in one piece of this puzzle (as I’ve laid it out), that there are any truly bad, unethical, or illegal actors in this scenario. But the outcome is still bad… bad… patently… amazingly stupid public policy.
5 weeks ago
The Evolving Urban Form: Sprawling Boston |
Highly dispersed Boston has emerged as one of the world's most affluent areas. According to the Brookings Global Metro Monitor, the Boston metropolitan area has the fourth largest GDP per capita, purchasing power parity, in the world. Boston trailed only Macau, nearby Hartford and San Jose, the world's leading technology hub. Two other Boston CSA metropolitan areas were successful enough to be included in the top 100 in the Brookings data. The Providence and Worcester metropolitan areas ranked in the top 100 (like 65 other US metropolitan areas), at about the same level as Vienna, while leading Brussels and Tokyo. Overall, Boston has to rank as one of the country’s – and the world’s most successful labor markets. It has done so while not being denser but while combining the virtues of both a successful core city and a large, expansive periphery.
5 weeks ago
Test & Punish & Civil Rights
If policymakers responded to low test scores by sitting down with community members to say, "How can we help you," and channeling resources to the schools, I'd feel differently about all this. But that's not even sort of what's happening. Instead, charters may "save" a handful of students while simultaneously making the public schools even worse for everyone else.
6 weeks ago
Confronting New Madrid (Part 2) (Idle Words)
A few years ago I had reason to visit a tiny Norwegian town called Burfjord, a provincial town marooned just inside the Arctic circle. Years from now, when I am on my deathbed reliving scenes from a life richly lived, it's not going to be Burfjord on my mind. It's a remote, unlovely community, a vast distance from any major population center, with little economic basis apart from logging and fishing, in a country that does not really want for logs or fish. But the Norwegian attitude is, we are Norway, this is one of our towns, and by God we are going to make it look like Norway.

And so Burfjord has a lovely library, freshly-paved roads, decent medical care, a nursing home, a cultural center. Most of the 397 people in Burfjord are employed by the government, making sure the lives of the other 396 Burfjordians are up to a Norwegian standard. Since Norway is packed with Burfjords, the arrangement costs the government a fortune. But it's just part of the accepted cost of being Norwegian.

This kind of ornery civic-mindedness doesn't exist in the United States. I wish it did.
6 weeks ago
(I can’t) Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
But I also have to admire Rupert Holmes’ craft and achievement in writing this song. He created two characters who produce a strong emotional response. They become like real people — real, and really awful, shallow, narcissistic, horrible people. When they are reunited by their mutual betrayal at the end of Holmes’ story-song it strikes me less as a happy ending than as a case of the punishment fitting the crime. These two awful people — the narrator and his “old lady” — deserve one another.
7 weeks ago
The Three Stooges of School Turnaround | Gary Rubinstein's Blog
In a very revealing moment, Barbic explains that he’s the one who came up with the bottom 5% to top 25% in five years.  He could have just said bottom 5% to bottom 10% and he wouldn’t be taking such heat now, but having such an ambitious goal had a positive side effect since “It created a momentum and an urgency that we needed to create to get this off the ground” and allowed them to recruit ‘partners’ and leaders and teachers. In other words, it was a lie, but it was a worthwhile one since it tricked people into giving us their money.
7 weeks ago
Bob Shepherd: The Hard Work of Teaching | Diane Ravitch's blog
Basically, there isn’t enough time for ANYONE–even the greatest of teachers–to do the job at all adequately. This is the great unspoken truth about teaching. This is the real elephant in the room. If you want to improve teaching and learning, you have to give teachers more time–MUCH, MUCH MORE TIME.
7 weeks ago
Facial recognition privacy talks: Why I walked out.
I think that we are witnessing the creation of a Loophole of Things—a legal atmosphere in which the digital facts of our physical lives are subject to startlingly few privacy protections. As of June 16, facial recognition is squarely within its ambit.
8 weeks ago
Siddhartha sits under the bodhi tree.
I was already showing my students how to draw the human figure and how legs and arms bend and which way they bend. And which way they don’t. I would stick pieces of tape at the joints and we would move around and discover the amazing fact that arms and legs only bend where there is a joint. One student would demonstrate a ballet position and then we would all take that position. Another would pretend to be a hockey goalie. And then we all would. Trust me. This all led to amazing discoveries.
8 weeks ago
Teachers vs. Publishers' Reps
nstead, too many administrators and teachers "negotiate" like Oliver Twist or an unattractive teen in an Abercrombie & Fitch, acting as if we're just hoping that maybe the publisher will consent to sell us something. No. Wrong. Backwards. We do not have to bow and scrape for the privilege of being allowed to buy their product. Negotiate from power and for the love of God, remember that no matter how much they try to suggest otherwise, you are not making friends with the salesperson-- you are buying something from them on behalf of the taxpayers who ponied up the money in the first place. Get the best deal possible and please don't worry about making the salesperson sad-- he'll perk right up when he finally makes a sale
8 weeks ago
Four Columbia House insiders explain the shady math behind “8 CDs for a penny” · Expert Witness · The A.V. Club
SFJ: It was an amazing combination of “We are ripping you off like no one has ever ripped anyone off as a per-unit basis,” but ”We are also building a time bomb that’s going to flatten us forever.”
9 weeks ago
Senator Lindsey Graham: A Mediocre Student Who Succeeded | Diane Ravitch's blog
Yet he was accepted by the University of South Carolina, the first in his family to go to college, and made a success of his life, despite his awful test scores and average grades. He was NOT college-and-career-ready.
9 weeks ago
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: We should own our victories. | Fred Klonsky
We should own our victories because they are too hard to come by. The removal of the flag is the cumulative outcome of Black people fighting like hell over the last year to demand that Black lives matter. Its not the end of the movement but it can give people confidence that the movement matters, it can compel them to fight for more…not simply go home.
9 weeks ago
Links 6/15: Everything But The Kitchen Link
Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy For Depression Losing Its Efficacy? New meta-analysis across almost 40 years shows that “effects of CBT have declined linearly and steadily since its introduction” with high significance consistent across multiple different measurement modalities. Study theorizes that maybe therapy is getting worse as a lot of people who aren’t very good at it or don’t stick to the evidence-based principles jump on the CBT bandwagon. Also suggests maybe as it becomes less “the exciting new thing” there’s decreased placebo effect. I would add a possibility that CBT ideas have become so prevalent in our society already that there might be less left to teach, and that as depression diagnoses have skyrocketed we may be sending a different population to therapy (eg people who are less severely depressed and therefore can’t be helped as much). Somebody should also try to unify this result with the finding that antidepressant drug efficacy has been declining over the same period. There’s something very important hidden here, but I’m not totally sure what it is.
11 weeks ago
The honesty of morphine addiction | Ian Welsh
A lot of early Nazi success is based on “we’re all rocking amphetamines” and a lot of late Nazi failure is based on “the shit doesn’t work any more, and our brains are fried.”
11 weeks ago
Against Tulip Subsidies
I’ve done medicine in both America and Ireland. The doctors in both countries are about equally good. When Irish doctors take the American standardized tests, they usually do pretty well. Ireland is one of the approximately 100% of First World countries that gets better health outcomes than the United States. There’s no evidence whatsoever that American doctors gain anything from those three extra years of undergrad. And why would they? Why is having a philosophy degree under my belt supposed to make me any better at medicine?
11 weeks ago
Stack and Pack vs. Smear All Over
I compare this political situation with the dilemma the country faced in the early 1980’s when Reagan came to power. Conservatives hated the idea that the government operated halfway houses and insane asylums. They wanted no part of drug treatment programs either. At the same time liberals insisted that it was inhumane to lock people up against their will in underfunded and uncaring institutions where they were likely to be mistreated. So the two opposing elements of society conspired to shut down such institutions. The problem, of course, is that the mentally ill, drug addicted, and penniless segment of American society didn’t just disappear. They now live on our streets and fill our prisons. Both sides got what they wanted, but the problems persist in slightly different forms. So it is with the battles over land use regulation. Happenstance brings us a funky world and we all just muddle through some how
11 weeks ago
This New York Times Article Is The Future Of Math Textbooks - dy/dan
I raved for a minute on Twitter last week about this New York Times article. You should read it (play it? experience it?) and then come back so I can explain why it’s what math curriculum could and should become.
12 weeks ago
CURMUDGUCATION: Writing: Not Unteachable, Often Mistaught
Most writing problems are really thinking problems, and the traditional way to solve them is to take thinking out of the equation. This is solving the problem by substituting a different problem. This is having trouble deciding what to order in a restaurant, so you go watch a movie about food instead. Templates and FPE are just a way to say, "Never mind thinking. Just fill in the blanks with what you believe the authorities will find acceptable."
may 2015
Books about women don’t win big awards: the data
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, when it comes to literary prizes, the more prestigious, influential and financially remunerative the award, the less likely the winner is to write about women. Either this means that women writers are self-censoring, or those who judge literary worthiness find women frightening, distasteful, or boring. Certainly the results argue for women perspectives being considered uninteresting or unworthy. Women seem to have literary cooties.
may 2015
If You Want Really Low Poverty, Market Income Is Not Going To Get You There | MattBruenig | Politics
I bring this up not to criticize higher wages. Obviously increasing hourly pay is a wonderful thing. I don’t think anybody would argue otherwise. But it’s important to always highlight the limits of market-focused anti-poverty strategies. If you really want to run those poverty levels to as far down as they can realistically go, what you need to be looking to do is increase transfer incomes and other benefits to children, elderly, disabled, and the unemployed. That is where the low-hanging anti-poverty fruit is really found, especially child benefits, which the US currently has relatively little of. Not only do these kinds of transfer incomes strike at the heart of poverty by targeting the vulnerable populations that primarily comprise it, but when done well they can even help to increase the heavily prized market income, especially the child-focused benefits like child care and paid leave that help facilitate greater labor force participation.
may 2015
"It's how people meat."
may 2015
The Evil Business Plan of Evil (and misery for all) - Charlie's Diary
Some aspects of modern life look like necessary evils at first, until you realize that some asshole has managed to (a) make it compulsory, and (b) use it for rent-seeking. The goal of this business is to identify a niche that is already mandatory, and where a supply chain exists (that is: someone provides goods or service, and as many people as possible have to use them), then figure out a way to colonize it as a monopolistic intermediary with rent-raising power and the force of law behind it. Sort of like the Post Office, if the Post Office had gotten into the email business in the 1970s and charged postage on SMTP transactions and had made running a private postal service illegal to protect their monopoly.
may 2015
Cult heroes: if you buy into David Gedge's worldview, the Wedding Present is the greatest gift you'll ever get | Music | The Guardian
Once Gedge got under your skin, it was an indie mafia sort of deal – you were in for life. His voice started to sound strangely beautiful, like the sweet, raw sound of heartache, the siren song of the Roman demigod of romantic desolation. His impeccable songwriting – by turn catchy, urgent, furious and wallowing gloriously in churning melancholy – swam into focus like a magic eye picture. John Peel once declared: “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the rock’n’roll era – you may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong.”
may 2015
The Control of Parties and the Rise and Fall of Ideologies
Let me put this precisely: The job of a political party is either to get a few specific people into power, or it is to offer a clear option to the voters. If it is the second, then your job is to make sure that option remains available. In many cases, if you do so, you will get into power fairly soon—after two to three terms. In other cases, if you are a minor party, it may take decades.
may 2015
Choice can be great, choice which siphons off money to largely unaccountable for profit schools isn't. To some extent "school choice" is like "electric company choice" and "health insurance choice". For the most part, people don't want to waste their damn time. They want the default choice to be a good one. If it isn't, maybe they want an out, but they really would just prefer to not have to choose.
may 2015
Teacher assails practice of giving passing grades to failing students - The Washington Post
High school graduation rates, as reported by school districts with no independent checks, have been climbing. Public school officials said the D.C. graduation rate increased five percentage points in the past four years. The U.S. rate rose from 74 percent in 2007 to 81 percent in 2012, according to the Education Week Research Center.

I know of no research on how much of that increase can be attributed to fantasyland report cards. Rossiter says the strongest blow against fraud would be to reverse the national trend toward insisting that every high school student get a college-preparatory education before graduation.
may 2015
Data Abuse – When Transient Kids Fall Through the Cracks of Crunched Numbers | gadflyonthewallblog
Most teachers who presided over lower level classes (like me) had about the same percentage of transients – approximately 40%. Teachers who taught the advanced levels had a much lower amount – 10% or below.
may 2015
The Establishment is losing control: Britain shows us change is possible
The time is soon. The young, even most of the middle aged, will see it. But whether that time leads to a better world, or a worse, is yet to be determined. Pick your sides.
may 2015
This is no coarse model jacked up with assumptions. We’re not splitting the city into arbitrary 40-acre chunks and applying our biases to each. We’re taking an agnostic look at the data, pulling it together in a powerful way that has never been done before. What we’ve uncovered demonstrates in the macro what we’ve pieced together in the micro: auto-oriented development patterns are bankrupting our cities.
may 2015
CURMUDGUCATION: Teachers Policing Teachers
It's hugely important to distinguish Teach Well from Teach Just Like Me. I can point to teachers who have a classroom approach completely different from mine. They are so authoritarian or loose or personal shary; they spend time on things I don't think deserve classroom time. They run their classrooms in ways I would not in a million years. But before I start bitching about how awful that teacher is, I had better ask a simple question-- are students thriving and succeeding in her classroom?

And here's the thing about that question-- the answer is almost always, "Yes."
may 2015
I Don't Think David Brooks Is Okay, You Guys
Here David hints at his misery as best he can. “I am miserable,” he says. “I do not have ‘upbeat moods’ or ‘nice experiences’ and my wiener has cobwebs on it. But maybe I suffer on behalf of posterity? Maybe I have meaningfulness?”
may 2015
Considering the Oyster | Michael Ruhlman
In preparing for this story, I returned to Rowan Jacobsen’s 2007 book The Geography of Oysters, and was reminded of what a talented writer Jacobsen is–dynamic and clear and engaging and informed and imaginative. If I ever teach a class on writing about food, hell, about writing non-fiction generally, he’s going to be on the syllabus.
may 2015
Give 'Em Hell, Bernie Sanders | Rolling Stone
But Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he's motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can't protect themselves, I've never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.

This is why his entrance into the 2016 presidential race is a great thing and not a mere footnote to the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. If the press is smart enough to grasp it, his entrance into the race makes for a profound storyline that could force all of us to ask some very uncomfortable questions.
may 2015
one year of emptiness at the Krach Leadership Center | Fredrik deBoer
I am grateful to the Krach family for their generous donation of $10 million to contribute to that cost. I just wish that more donors would give to the general fund, or to scholarship funds, or for hiring more tenure track faculty, or to simply fulfill the basic purpose of holding down tuition and thus debt. The need to build things that you can put people’s names on is a contagion in the contemporary university.
may 2015
De Condimentis (12): Sour Cream | HiLobrow
All of which is just to set the stage and point out that the Alaska that Hidden Valley Ranch inventor Steve Henson was doing “plumbing contracting” in wasn’t Sarah Palin’s Alaska; oil hadn’t even been discovered there yet. Did Steve Henson travel on one of these “charter flights” to Russia and discover (or trade for) the secret of smetana with fresh herbs? Did he run into some old-time Alaskans who shared with him one of the last remaining remnants of Russian occupation? Did he do some plumbing contracting on Little Dolemide? Did a babushka at a flophouse in Barrow serve him a plate of potatoes and snowy owl covered in sour cream and herbs that resulted in the epiphany that inspired ranch dressing? The Cold War was nowhere as cold as in Alaska, so we’ll probably never know for sure where the original recipe came from — but as always, though all of the actual evidence is gone, the cover-up remains.
may 2015
De Condimentis (6): Drunken Vinegar | HiLobrow
Interestingly, there is actually agreement from all four Gospels that Jesus drank vinegar on the cross, but why he rejects one offer and drinks the second is a matter of extended theological disputation. The famous part here is the Roman soldier offering Jesus a vinegared sponge on a staff (or spear), to mock his plight – crucified with only vinegar to drink! As a Roman soldier though, he was likely just offering whatever he was drinking — posca or a posca derivative. Presumably what occurred was: 1) A Roman soldier soaks a sponge with posca and puts it on a stick (or spear as some have it) to offer it to Jesus, or 2) Jesus either says” thanks, but I’ve never been a big fan of posca” (it’s an acquired taste and no accident that Matthew says its flavored with gall) or “I’m not really in a mood to be accepting gifts from Romans, at the moment”, and doesn’t take a drink. 3) His friends then offer him a better vinegar drink — John says it’s flavored with hyssop which is actually ezov, a traditional cleansing herb that’s an aromatic and not especially bitter — which he drinks. Simple as that.
april 2015
As Riots Follow Freddie Gray's Death in Baltimore, Calls for Calm Ring Hollow - The Atlantic
When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse.
april 2015
Growth Mindset 3: A Pox On Growth Your Houses
Among ordinary students, the effect on the growth mindset group was completely indistinguishable from zero, and in fact they did nonsignificantly worse than the control group. This was the most basic test they performed, and it should have been the headline of the study. The study should have been titled “Growth Mindset Intervention Totally Fails To Affect GPA In Any Way”.
april 2015
Ted Cruz, creepy misogynist: The “hymen” joke that perfectly reflects his odious worldview -
A lesson for young Cruz, and for us all: acting like a grandstanding shithead can backfire. Alas, it is not a lesson Cruz has learned in his years since Princeton.
april 2015
Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century - Boing Boing
Take a particularly clear example at the very top of the global wealth hierarchy. Between 1990 and 2010, the fortune of Bill Gates -- the founder of Microsoft, the world leader in operating systems, and the very incarnation of entrepreneurial wealth and number one in the Forbes rankings for more than ten years -- increased from $4 billion to $50 billion. At the same time, the fortune of Liliane Bettencourt -- the heiress of L'Oréal, the world leader in cosmetics, founded by her father Eugène Schueller, who in 1907 invented a range of hair dyes that were destined to do well in a way reminiscent of César Birotteau's success with perfume a century earlier -- increased from $2 billion to $25 billion, again according to Forbes.
april 2015
DNA Lounge: 21-Apr-2015 (Tue): Wherein I ridicule Facebook some more, then collaborate with the Panopticon.
So let's get this straight: Facebook has a widely known, years-long reputation for capricious, fickle enforcement of their policies; a corresponding reputation for giving the victims of their inconsistencies no recourse; and despite this, when these fine employees of theirs hear of a problem, their response is, "Well, because that guy pointed out a bug without also blowing sunshine up my ass, I'm going to just leave our product buggy." They seem to love their company so much that they're willing to let their own product suffer, so that they don't have to open their eyes to the problem. It's the other kind of "tech bubble".
april 2015
De Condimentis (4) | HiLobrow
Hopefully this will serve as a warning as well as an aid — hot sauce has gotten enormously more popular in recent years, and the opportunity to misuse it has grown exponentially. So recognize your humor and recognize that you can’t, like an 1880’s baseball player going from 1st to 3rd across the pitcher’s mound, go across the square — that’s your antithesis. And, even more dangerous, avoid the Scoville scale (the muy macho chile heat rating system) and any of the crazy super “chiles”. They’ve been overbred and are loony and dangerous like a perfectly-spotted Dalmatian. Start eating peppers that have been cross-pollinated with other pepper families for a few generations and you’ll be lucky if all you end up with is a world-class case of Montezuma’s revenge — which, most of the time, is actually a case of incompatible humor reaction.
april 2015
Municipal Solvency: How to Not Go Broke | Granola Shotgun
But here’s the truth. Even if you fired everyone on the government payroll and dissolved all social programs most jurisdictions would go broke in the long run anyway. The tax revenue that comes in from low value private development is simply inadequate to cover the ongoing costs of the very expensive public infrastructure that holds it together. Full stop.
april 2015
Can't Stop The Bleeding » Capital Crisis : Nats Need To Rectify Go Go No No
Hey, at least they didn’t opt for No Trend Egoslavia! The Washingtonian’s Benjamin Freed reports Chuck Brown’s 1979 Go-Go classic “Bustin’ Out” has been replaced as post HR celebratory music at Nationals Park by “Bang Bang,” the timeless collaboration between Jessie J., Ariana Grande and Niki Minaj, and sadly, the team has refuse to explain their actions.
april 2015
Austerity in the EU—in Rap | Ian Welsh
The entire video is worth watching, but if you want to skip to the meet, go to 3:37.  This is one of the most accurate portrayals of Lagarde (in charge of the IMF) and Merkel I’ve seen.  Better than most written analysis.
april 2015
Comb Jelly Neurons Spark Evolution Debate | Quanta Magazine
After years of study, he thinks he knows why. According to traditional evolutionary biology, neurons evolved just once, hundreds of millions of years ago, likely after sea sponges branched off the evolutionary tree. But Moroz thinks it happened twice — once in ancestors of comb jellies, which split off at around the same time as sea sponges, and once in the animals that gave rise to jellyfish and all subsequent animals, including us. He cites as evidence the fact that comb jellies have a relatively alien neural system, employing different chemicals and architecture from our own. “When we look at the genome and other information, we see not only different grammar but a different alphabet,” Moroz said.
april 2015
Providence School Board approves $353.5 million 2016 budget proposal - News - - Providence, RI
Per pupil spending has actually gone down since 2009. Had it remained the same, Lusi said the district would have an additional $4.1 million. 
april 2015
Can Los Angeles Teachers Push Back the Corporate Education Reform Movement? - In These Times
Union Power has stuck to its vision of social movement unionism and in so doing won converts. “People are proud to be UTLA members again,” says Scott Mandel, a PEAC member and sixth-grade teacher of 30 years. “[Union Power] started a campaign of organizing that was basically unheard of. They have done more in the last eight months than UTLA has done in the last eight years.”
april 2015
Inklings : Student Editorial on SBAC
Students know more about quantum mechanics, William Shakespeare’s personal life and the culture of Burma than they know about the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
No one is giving us straight answers about SBAC. And it’s pretty hard to take a test if you don’t know anything about it.
april 2015
Pretty Good Partisan Differentiator by Ed Kilgore | Political Animal | The Washington Monthly
So the House went ahead and voted to totally repeal the federal estate tax yesterday. But something was missing from similar votes back in the day: widespread Democratic defections. Used to be a standard push-off-the-left Blue Doggy thing to oppose the “death tax,” particularly for Members with big agricultural producers in their districts. But this time around only seven House Dems voted for this abomination, while three Republicans defected from their own party.
april 2015
Meanwhile, in a secret base beneath the Walmart …
Chris Morran of The Consumerist reports on a mystery: “Walmart Raises Suspicions After Closing 5 Stores in Same Day for ‘Plumbing’ Problems.”
april 2015
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