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This is a powerful story and Ted talk. She tells a story and tells of the power of stories, and I hope you will find it worth the sharing.

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Oct. 25th, 2012 03:49 pm
pastwatcher: (Default)
This is a powerful story and Ted talk. She tells a story and tells of the power of stories, and I hope you will find it worth the sharing.
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This is pretty damn shameful.

And right around Columbus Day, too. Because you know how the "discovery of the New World" was just awesome.

Note: I'm actually very "patriotic" about the USA. I think there's a lot of good or at least hopeful things about this country, and I would rather use my places within American culture to influence it than any other--even though I want a world where resources are shared well enough that we don't need nation-borders, or something like that. But, if we celebrate Columbus for his representation of European exploration of the New World, then we celebrate genocide, and we continue to ignore many of its survivors' descendants.
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Oh hey, it's one of those controlled résumé studies--this one is about men vs. women in science, AND it explains that the discrimination against women is perpetrated by women as well as by men. Useful.

I had "reaction #1" described in the article, with a mild tinge of annoyance for the same thing that "reaction #3" people say. The reminder that reaction #4 exists is really sad. :(
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The good news Governor Brown of CA has just signed two bills into law:

1. No shackling women prisoners who are giving birth. (I assume they define this as "prisoners in the women's prison")

2. When youth under 18 get a "life without parole" sentence, they can get it reviewed and maybe reduced to 25 years.

YAY!!!! Right?

The ironic part is, obviously, what it says about CA prisons that these bills were necessary. And now for what the hell to do about Props 34, 35 and 36.


Sep. 19th, 2012 12:55 am
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Thought I would make a list of charts (political ones) here, that I've posted to Facebook.
The 47 Percent in one graphic

Gay (actually LGBT) rights in the US, state by state

OK that's a short list. I posted this flow-chart too, since I like flow-charts as well as pie-charts, but it's not as good.
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It turns out I have too much to say, more than I'll write here, on negotiating spaces, and how that has become a bigger deal for me, and how much I empathize with people more on the margins than myself now, the constant choices of different alienations.

But thoughts that have been coming back into my head since Saturday are: first, do you feel awkward in a space where people don't look like you, where you stick out somehow? What if you feel out of place but not threatened? What if you feel out of place but want to be friendly? How do you deal with that?

Read more... )
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There are things you realize, and then you want to unknow them.

Why would there be a "usual policy", in Oakland, of never interfering in a fight but just cleaning up afterwards? Why would someone say that?

Because people get put in jail for getting involved in fights, or even being near them. And that risk can be very high depending on what they look like (including, apparently, what they're wearing or what tattoos they have). There's the communal irresponsibility problem we're probably all familiar with, where everyone thinks someone else will step up--and then there's the exacerbation of that problem by police violence.

Maybe I'll say more about this on Tuesday, when I'm going to show community support for this girl (a friend of friends) who might get 10 years of prison. But, this is really, really bad.

Roommate points out that of course there are other fears and reasons not to want to get involved in fights--like if they might be gang motivated, and you live there. But also that the Oakland police department is very dysfunctional. Stuff is complicated. Also scary.
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Injustice Part B: Good and Evil

This is a chunk of my moral philosophy. It's informed by plenty of lessons and discussions, but nobody has told me these things in so many words. If something is too abstract I would be glad to try to clarify.

I've said before that I think humans are basically capable of empathy towards each other. Most people are "good people" and "mean well", as we often say: they want to live their own lives, but they can understand that others do too, and they act accordingly. We know that there are the rare people have little or no capacity for empathy, who actively wish harm, though I don't know if I've met any; and we know that desperation and fear can make one override empathy and act for survival. We're familiar with the qustions "what is 'evil'? Does 'evil' reside in one's mental state, one's willful desire to do harm to others? Is it synonymous with "bad", is it just about the consequences to its victims rather than the intent of the doers?" I know there are philosophical terms for the pieces I'm mixing together, in this proposed start on "where is the evil in most people?"

Read more... )
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Two solid posts on white flight, or rather, the racial dynamics of suburban populations. The first one recaps and refines some principles I actually learned about in my Probability and Game Theory summer course when I was 14, going over a report by the Institute for Metropolitan Opportunity. It doesn't use the word "Nash equilibrium", but breaks it down in a less mathy way, and you can see where "white flight" comes in as a factor. It also talks about the politics and poverty levels of "predominantly white", "diverse", and "predominantly non-white" neighborhoods as defined by the study. Crommunist does a good job explaining the report here, and has some criticism of it.

The second post delves into the reasons for these dynamics and their mechanisms. It is, of course, far more complicated than people wanting to live in, or move into, neighborhoods of people who look like them. For one thing there is a difference in what proportions "tolerable diversity" is for white folks, and what it is for people of color. "Affirmative action for white people" comes up here, not as a legal policy of course, but as illegal discriminatory actions of real estate agents. And...well, it's very much worth reading, and is not very long. It also links through to the original report, if you want to analyze further. The final chart took me a couple minutes to read properly, but is vaguely hopeful, about what happened to neighborhoods that were "integrated" in 1980.
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Fuck Sept. 11. Should have listened to the "ignore the news" plan, and should now be ignoring the entire conversation following the news. But here we go: is this right?

Trying to find good news sources. Once again Al-Jazeera seems to have reasonable coverage of the facts all around.

What I get out of this and others is that an amazing amount of religious tension internationally has been created by Terry Jones, the "burn a Qur'an on Sept. 11 2010" pastor guy, since he thought Sept. 11 2012 was a GREAT time to spread talk about this strongly anti-Islamic film (possibly created by an Israeli-American guy with 100 donors). And two things happened.

1. There was a protest in Egypt, about the film, which affected mainly a flag, but is being called an "attack" by most US sources, because
2. There was an actual attack on the US consulate in Libya, killing 14 people of whom 4 are Americans (one the ambassador), and the US is digging for terrorist connections.

And so far the responses to this are mostly useless, except for responses like Romney's which are worse than useless.

About right? Analysis? :(

ETA: Here's some analysis that looks to be useful, and here's some Egyptian and Libyan netizens denouncing the violence.
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I heard about a friend of an acquaintance recently, who was accused of a crime committed on 9/11/2011. He looked nothing like the perpetrator (he had a beard, the other guy didn't), who was photographed driving the accused's truck; he was, however, convicted and jailed. My acquaintance explained that the 10th anniversary thing was brought up and used against him: exacerbating the everyday discrimination against brown-skinned people accused of crimes. That's hearsay, of course, but based on what I've read about trials in the past and what I know about the trial of CeCe MacDonald, it is highly plausible.

I'll leave two links here for your consideration, and ask that you read at least the first one and reflect on it; perhaps you could find an article you connect to, and pass that on to your friends. The first is a poem by a friend of mine, on being brown in a post 9/11 world. When he was ten on 9/11/2001, a white classmate asked him why "his people" did this to "ours". The second is a partly satirical article by another friend, about the ridiculousness of blaming a whole people for the actions of some who look like them. Called On Behalf of all White People, I'm Sorry.

Every day is a good day to raise awareness about suspicion and criminalization of people of color, and their mistreatment in court. But especially today, especially Americans.
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I've been on a huge Le Guin kick lately. One of my friends likes to say "Le Guin makes me angry because she's too perfect".

She has an interview about the Dispossessed and its use by the Occupy movement, so I read that one first. Followed by "The word for world is forest", and "The left hand of darkness." I'd already read "Gifts" and "Voices" and "The Telling", some time ago, but never the Earthsea books, which is ridiculous really.

The protagonist of the book comes from a society that we learn more about as the book unfolds. It is not only a society that doesn't believe in authority, it also doesn't believe in ownership of anything: objects, space, anything. In some ways it seems like the perfect, nonviolent anarchist society, but it gets deconstructed later in the book. Nevertheless it is contrasted with what I might call a steampunk society: full of futuristic technology and science as predicted by a 70's sci-fi writer, but with class divisions, codified sexism, and capitalism that remind me of the Gilded Age.

Quotes and reflections )


Jul. 27th, 2012 11:14 am
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I've always liked Ursula K. Leguin's books (for the most part--often they leave me unsatisfied, which isn't such a bad thing) but damn, she is awesome in this interview. In several different ways.
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My friend Janani wrote this poem about shoes and gravity. It will probably make you laugh like I did; I think it's my favorite one yet though I have only read half of them.

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It's slightly more complicated.

(not sure how Natalie Reed manages to write that whole thing within an hour, though I know some parts were stewing for a while. If it hadn't been a quick post it would probably have more precise references and/or links though.)
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Fuck this. Fuck that judge.

The start of the story of Cece McDonald is here, including the judge's awful decisions about which evidence to include in a murder trial. May be triggering. She does have people rallying in support, but they can't change the minds of the people on the case.

I didn't even know you could exclude evidence like the defendant's wounds from the actual prior attack, or the "victim's" history of assault and Nazi tattoo, from a murder trial. Doesn't that make it not a fair trial?

This is why so many people have no reason to trust the "justice system". Someone mentioned the comparison to the Trayvon Martin case, where all the circumstances and evidence are so different. Except, it seems the identities of the people involved are the only variables that matter.
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My cat is named Flux. She was born about November 2008 we think. I like her. I even have a filter for occasional posts about her (by the way, if you want to opt in, either comment on any Dreamwidth entry so I'll get an email notification, or comment on my most recent LJ entry). But I don't really love her.

How this works )

A link to the shirt I ordered because Flux does some of these things when I'm trying to work.
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Landofnowhere and gleameil, you now have your challenges. :)

Tiamat360 asked me to write about "the maths, for lay people". I have decided to take massive poetic license on this, so I hope the following makes *some* sense, and is entertaining. But don't take it too seriously.

If you're truly a "lay person", that is you're not a scientist or a geek, then you are still doing math a lot of the time...

problem-solving intuitions )
Abstraction )
Modeling )
What mathematicians do )

Math is strange. Thanks for asking. :)

Oh, and for the curious, I'm going to post a link to a beautiful classic article about K-12 math education, even though I disagree with it on many counts.

quick note

Apr. 15th, 2012 10:25 pm
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Another petition here, to drop charges against a harassment victim according to precedent. This one's gathering momentum much faster. Murder charges are being pressed against an African-American trans woman for defending herself.

On a related note, I've started learning about police violence and discriminatory law enforcement against queer people of color, and some history that draws connections WAAAY further than I realized. I may make a series of posts, with cuts, about what I learn on this subject. It's all from one amazing book, though one of its authors has another book coming out very soon.
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