It’s my adolescent revolutionary fantasies bubbling to the surface after years of critique and repression:
Photo by Vladimir Pirogov/Reuters via Unleashing Chiang.
Disaster porn for engineers:
This seemed like a good opportunity to point out that while that video makes the damage look pretty bad and cause youtube commenters to call for the designers heads, this is an example of a building behaving well. The concrete outside the wall rebar cage spalled off, which looks like failure, but is predictable and intentional – you need a layer of concrete outside the cage for corrosion protection that you plan on being sacrificed during an earthquake. The rest of the wall remained confined and was able to cycle through major inelastic deformations to dissipate energy and prevent the rest of the building from collapsing. They were so effective that the owners are planning on repairing the damaged shear walls and finishes and reopening, which is pretty impressive.
I thought this Ruffini health care retrospective began well, but what I don’t understand is once you admit to yourself that there are market failures that hurt people that government can ameliorate…where does that leave you? Patrick says: “On health care, I have no idea what our basic guiding principle is. Seriously, I don’t.” This sounds like an existential crisis, and I think I can help: it leaves you on the left.
The typical US economic policy divide is that Democrats want to use government to correct for failures while Republicans blame government intervention for the same. Now, it’s certainly possible for that dynamic to change, and for the next right to be a European-style conservative party that embraces social investment & regulation while emphasizing free market methods of execution. But that would require a much different Republican party, and more importantly requires that you first create the social investment and regulation.
Which is to say, if you want to expand the social safety net, all things being equal, you’re on the left in contemporary American politics. Maybe, now that HCR has passed, or in a few more years after Obama’s ‘socialism’ has marched farther forward, you’ll find yourself on the right. But advocating expanding government from the right means you’ve divorced yourself from political reality.
Photo from Potency by Nina Maria Kleivan
I’ve never heard someone defend their parenting with ‘I was just following orders,’ but I’ll grant the general moral thrust makes sense. However, a lot of the import is lost by focusing on larger than life supervillains. Very few people’s children (hopefully!) will grow up to be Stalin. By contrast many people’s children will grow up to be assistant manager of environmental safety at Corporation X who one day has to decide whether to overlook a potentially dangerous chemical dumping incident that will cost there company $$$ to clean up. Or whatever.
The point is most children grow up to be evil in a tremendously boring way that, in aggregate, is tremendously harmful to society. And our focus on ultimate personifications of evil undermines the severity of your child’s actual probable transgressions — “after all, it’s not like they’re Hitler!”
So I’d like to see Kleivan’s follow-up piece with her child dressed as a human resources consultant or a Army drone operator or a condo developer. And that would actually be a ‘potent’ and controversial piece, rather than just posing as one.
It’s good to know that after failing at everything else in your life you can covert to conservatism and become wealthy and famous peddling righteous indignation at invented victimizations. The right-wing blogosphere is like a giant performance art piece critiquing American Meritocracy.
Mark Dery in Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century:
Shorter Dery: Go fuck yourself Ray Kurzweil.
It’s hard to describe how awesome it is to see that my former high school district is manipulating No Child Left Behind in such innovative ways. I’m almost proud.
Basically, NCLB school evaluation in Califnornia is based on the percent of 10th graders who pass the HS Exit Exam. It doesn’t matter if the student passes the test in a later grade; the 10th grade rate is the key statistic. The Kern High School District has therefore taken an ‘assume a can-opener’ approach to this challenge and eliminated sophomores. Or at least the low-performing ones.
Here’s how it works:
Because of you, when the boss catches us having rubber band fights we can always just say: “I’m iterating for p-delta.”
Similar to coders really.
Update: It’s embarrassing when you misspell the punchline.
Not that she let’s John Edwards completely off the hook, but this passage by Caitlin Flanagan describing Rielle Hunter is appalling:
Really? I harbor no love for Hunter — she was the second party in a deceitful conspiracy that brought down the progressive presidential campaign that I supported — but this seems like an absurd attempt to throw the rhetorical kitchen sink at her. Ta-Nehisi calls it “gender-nationalist,” and I think that’s right in the sense that only Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards are really granted any agency in the piece, whereas John Edwards, party one in the previously mentioned conspiracy, is a dolt who decided to blow up a campaign that was incredibly important to millions of people…why exactly? Because Hunter is a mean slut?
Certainly writing a piece that focuses on Hunter ties in much better with an examination of the life and beliefs of Helen Gurley Brown and gives Flanagan license to critique revisionist feminist historians who would turn Brown’s “how to win a millionaire” guidebook into a liberatory text. And while the magazine-long-form is long, it’s not infinite, so one can excuse the absense of a socio-biological (or whatever) critical framework to explain John’s actions. However, none of that explains the vitriol directed at Hunter, who for all her flaws was not the one tasked with being faithful to a partner or honorable to a movement.