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friday linked list: register to vote!, the fining of black america [Jul. 1st, 2016|10:44 am]
Greg
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[Current Mood |happyhappy]

- How to Register and Vote Early Before the Presidential Election - there's plenty of time to register to vote; do it today! As we saw with Brexit, just because nobody thinks something will win doesn't mean it won't happen. If you don't want to see a President Trump, vote!

- The Fining of Black America - this is pretty terrible. Prairie View is at #56 (which is where Sandra Bland was pulled over), while bizarrely so is River Oaks at #97. Although the River Oaks I'm thinking of is in Houston and wildly affluent (it's where George H. W. Bush used to live), but the median income in that table is $42K, so maybe it's some other River Oaks?

- The Governing Cancer of Our Time - everyone complains about "politics" (myself included!), but the alternatives seem to be either do nothing or be ruled by a despot. It's worrying that compromise is now a dirty word. (thanks David!)

- The “Cobra Effect” that is disabling paste on password fields - I don't run into these too often, but it infuriates me when I do! Web designers: do NOT do this!

- Why Disney princesses and ‘princess culture’ are bad for girls

- When the Eight-Member Supreme Court Avoids Deadlocks, It Leans Left - neat visualization of Supreme Court leanings over time. Although I think a one-axis "left vs. right" view is not the most helpful here - while the court has been leaning left on social issues, it is extremely business-friendly. (thanks Stephen!)

- Can You Get Over an Addiction? - interesting look at addiction and how we maybe misunderstand it. (thanks David!)

- The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb - trying to understand the "other side"'s arguments is usually helpful, although it's exhausting to do this all the time. (what's the "other side" about Obama birther arguments, for example?)

- How ‘Advantage Players’ Game the Casinos - this sounds like a fun way to make a living. (I'm not sure how I feel about the ethics of this, though)
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friday linked list: three-word addresses, productivity with technology, gun deaths [Jun. 24th, 2016|03:21 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |sadsad]

- Mongolia is changing all its addresses to three-word phrases - this is crazy and awesome. I live near mistress.insect.airship! There's more information at what3words's website.

- Why the Economic Payoff From Technology Is So Elusive - maybe it just takes a while?

- Compare These Gun Death Rates: The U.S. Is in a Different World - that is depressing. Note that these numbers only include gun homicides - if you include suicides, I'm pretty sure the US looks even worse. (thanks David!)

- Thinking About Hillary — A Plea for Reason - This is a bit of a long read (and why isn't the graph of Hillary's popularity near where he talks about it?) but I think there's a lot of truth to this article. It's easy to forget how popular she was when she was Secretary of State!

It's also easy to get distracted by the various "scandals" she's been involved in and think that because of that, she must be fundamentally dishonest. But the article has some good links pointing out that no other politician has a whole industry of people attacking her (except for her husband...)

- Teaching Robots to Feel: Emoji & Deep Learning 👾 💭 💕 - this is pretty cool! Plus you can try it yourself!

- What if PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological?

- The anxiety of Father's Day cards - blah.

- Mars Explorers Wanted Posters - ooh, pretty!

- Here's the Physics Behind the 'Broomgate' Controversy Rocking the Sport of Curling
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why I'm depressed about Brexit [Jun. 24th, 2016|10:19 am]
Greg
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[Current Mood |sadsad]

I haven't followed the campaigns too closely, so take this with an imperial pound of salt, but:

- From what I've seen a lot of the "Leave" campaign was driven by anti-immigrant sentiment. Which is both depressing in its own right and makes me worried that Trump might do better in November than we thought.

- The idea behind the European Union (and its antecedents the European Economic Community and European Community) was to forge closer ties in Europe after they started 2 world wars in 30 years. If the EU breaks up (which doesn't seem terribly likely, but after yesterday who knows?) that seems like a pretty bad thing for global peace and stability.
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friday linked list: Hillary Clinton, basic income, Hamilton rhymes [Jun. 10th, 2016|02:42 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |sicksick]

Election 2016
- It’s time to admit Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily talented politician - also, The crushing sexism of young Hillary Clinton's America is a good reminder about how bad things were just 50 years ago.

- The Voting Habits of Americans Like You - cool interactive look at how people voted in 2012 based on age, race, and education.

Basic Income
- The basic economics of a guaranteed income - yup, still gonna keep beating this drum. (thanks David!)

- Switzerland rejects proposals for unconditional basic income by overwhelming majority - ...oh. Hmm. OK, then. I could actually see this being a problem with no limits on immigration, but still, that's disappointing.

All the other links
- The Hamilton musical so excited the Wall Street Journal(!) they put together this look at the rhymes in Hamilton and other hip-hop songs. Surprisingly nicely done! Also: I really like the opening number but somehow I hadn't realized that the reason was the intricate rhyming.

- Barack Obama, Inequality Fighter - but the incomes of top 0.01 percent are still growing way faster than the top 1 percent, which are growing faster than the other 99 percent.

- Machine Bias: There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks - pretty convincing and depressing.

- Could Alzheimer’s Stem From Infections? It Makes Sense, Experts Say - very interesting! (thanks David!)

- A controversial theory may explain the real reason humans have allergies - TL;DR: maybe allergies are actually fighting toxins?

- In Defense of Being Average (thanks Emily!)

- Today in whimsy: Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum is making a Catbus for adults - hooray!

- The Craziest Black Market in Russia - is for dissertations! (thanks Jessica!)

- Larger than Real Life - an interesting look as what it's like to be 7 foot tall. Crazy stat:
Which indicates, by further extrapolation, that while the probability of, say, an American between 6'6" and 6'8" being an NBA player today stands at a mere 0.07%, it's a staggering 17% for someone 7 feet or taller.
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How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World review [Jun. 1st, 2016|10:06 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |happyhappy]

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern WorldHow We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating look at six areas of innovation (glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light) and how unexpected interactions lead to advances. For example: the sacking of Constantinople led a community of glassmakers to leave and settle in Venice. The fact that making glass requires high temperature furnaces that would not infrequently burn down neighborhoods led the government to "exile" them on a nearby island, which then became a hotbed of innovation. The Gutenberg printing press led many people to realize that they were farsighted, which popularized spectacles. That technology later led to the development of microscopes and telescopes. And so on and so on.

Good book, highly recommended!

View all my reviews
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So You've Been Publicly Shamed review [Jun. 1st, 2016|09:55 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |happyhappy]

So You"ve Been Publicly ShamedSo You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking about the public shaming of people that seems to be en vogue these days. He talks about Jonah Lehrer, Justine Sacco, the whole "Donglegate" business, Mike Daisey, and a bunch more.

Highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing! TL;DR - maybe don't jump on the bandwagon when someone's being crucified online.

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baseball win expectancy finder gets some love! [May. 31st, 2016|09:43 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |excitedexcited]

My baseball win expectancy finder got mentioned in an article on the Washington Post!
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Bridge Scorer now available for Windows 10! [May. 26th, 2016|02:31 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |happyhappy]

Bridge Scorer is now available for Windows 10! It's a free app that, well, helps you keep score in bridge. Check it out!

Download from Windows Store
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The Fires review [May. 25th, 2016|11:05 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |tiredtired]

The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City-and Determined the Future of CitiesThe Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City-and Determined the Future of Cities by Joe Flood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pretty interesting book! I didn't realize that New York City had a huge fire problem in the 70's, and at first the book provided a lot of background about the mayor, the fire chief, etc. to the point where it got to be a bit much. But then the author did a great job of laying out how the problem started and got worse through a series of bad decisions. The main theme is that it was mostly the fault of a technocratic City Hall, for example:
- Robert Moses (the city planner) had a lot of power to impose a top-down vision for what the city should be like, and used it to destroy a bunch of housing and industrial buildings to build highways, parks, and office towers. This included "slum clearance" which people thought would get rid of the slums, but instead just made the lower-income people move elsewhere in the city, including the South Bronx. The deindustrialization caused even more poverty.
- This caused more fires as a result of crowded living conditions, etc. John O'Hagan (the fire chief) was a technocratic type (as was the mayor) and hired the RAND Corporation to try to make the fire department more efficient.
- RAND did a study about which firehouses were busiest, but they didn't gather very much data, and what they did gather was not very reliable because firemen didn't care about them and would often make up their response times, etc. Then the way RAND analyzed the data was laughably simplistic - they concluded that adding two firehouses in the same district was causing more false alarms and therefore was a waste of resources. But all they measured was the number of runs a firehouse went on, which includes false alarms - but false alarms are very quick to deal with, since the fire engine would just drive by, see no smoke, and return back to the firehouse. If you look at the fires that they actually had to fight, the second firehouse made a noticeable difference.
- There's also some evidence that the O'Hagan didn't care about what he called "ghetto fires" and was more concerned/interested in high-rise fires. To be fair, he literally wrote the book on new techniques for fighting them that are still being used today. So when the models came back saying to close firehouses in poorer neighborhoods he didn't push back.
- New York City was on the verge of going bankrupt in the 70's, which led to more cuts from the fire department.
- The author also points out that while Tammany Hall was certainly corrupt, they were corrupt in the "you have to keep constituents happy by giving them jobs, but take some off the top for yourself" way, which while not optimal at least meant they were responsive to the citizens. There were literally riots in the streets because of the fires/poor conditions, but the mayor was convinced he was doing the right thing and stayed the course.

So, yeah! Pretty interesting book.

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friday linked list: the woman's card, workers income, lead is bad [May. 20th, 2016|03:05 pm]
Greg
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[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

- Trump Plays the Man’s Card - Trump accusing Hillary of playing the "woman's card" is just so dumb. It's so dumb, you guys!

- Workers Are Getting a Bit More of the Economic Pie (and Shareholders Less) - unexpected hooray!

- More Evidence for Lead Poisoning as Key Crime Driver - Lead is bad, and there's growing evidence banning lead in gasoline, etc. causes the big drop in crime in the 1990s. According to the study, "cities that used lead pipes had between 14 and 36 percent higher homicide rates than cities that did not", which is a pretty huge result! For more depressing facts about lead and why it took the US until the 1970s to ban it, see The Nightly Show's Super Depressing Deep Dive.

- Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense - some of this is unfair (58% of Millennials want to cut taxes overall, but 66% want to raise taxes on the wealthy: there's no contradiction there!), but there are definitely some confusing results in there.

- The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies - crazy!

- Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet - bodies are complicated. (thanks David!)

- Simulating Instant Runoff Flips Most Donald Trump Primary Victories - related to what I mentioned last month, it does in fact look like doing Instant Runoff voting in Georgia would have let Rubio win instead of Trump.

- Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares - as the article says, "Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts", and even (or especially?) in the wealthiest classrooms black and Hispanic children are behind white children. Siiiigh.

- When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose - a kind of sad look at when parents forget that not everyone can afford what they can. (thanks Christi!)

- Cops can ignore Black Lives Matter protesters. They can’t ignore their insurers. - interesting!

- The Failed Promise of Legal Pot - an interesting look at why people still sell marijuana illegally in Colorado.
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