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Sep. 21st, 2017 10:09 pm
gorgeousnerd: #GN written in the red font from my layout on a black background. (Default)
[personal profile] gorgeousnerd
1. First, US political stuff. Healthcare. )

Edit: If you're in the US, you can email the Senate Finance Committee about this before their Monday hearing. More on that here.

2. I didn't do Wednesday Reading last week, mostly because there wasn't much to say. I'm a bit belated this week, but I have more to say, so!

Books! )

3. I can't believe it's almost October, but it certainly felt that late in the year today, if not later. It never cracked 50 F outside. I went outside in layers (short of my jacket, but layers) and was uncomfortably cold until I walked around a bit. This is just a cold spot, though; it was in the 80s no more than ten days ago, and it's supposed to be back in the 80s in the next week. Still, as the last day of summer goes, it was kind of sad. I'm not ready to be talking snow levels, okay! Let me enjoy more of Halloween season first!

Hail to the traveler!

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:08 pm

In which the Bittern is pissed

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:16 pm
twistedchick: (bittern OFQ)
[personal profile] twistedchick
This so-called article is a piece of crap. It purports to provide the results of a study and conflates the numbers in the study with society as a whole in ignorant ways.

For example, second paragraph:

Just ask college students. A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”


A fifth of undergrads? No. A fifth of the 1500 undergrad students they surveyed. That's 300 or so.


Villasenor conducted a nationwide survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at four-year colleges.


Nationwide? There are far more than 1,500 four-year colleges (for those of you not American, the word includes universities). How were the colleges chosen? How were the students chosen? How many were chosen at each university? How many overall were from the same discipline? There's no way to know. We don't even know if he chose accredited schools, or those pay-for-a-degree places. Did they ask at Ivy League schools, the majority of whose students come from well-off families? Did they ask at places like City College of New York, where the tuition is much lower and people who are there are from a variety of backgrounds, not wealthy? Ag and tech colleges, out in the countryside, or only urban colleges?

Further down it says the margin of error is 2-6 percent, "depending on the group." Oh, really? Which group is 2% and which is 6%? We aren't told. It appears we are to be grateful that a margin of error was even mentioned.

The whole thing is supposed to be about undergrads' understanding of First Amendment-protected free speech. Since we are not told the exact wording of the questions asked, it's impossible to know if the responses were appropriate to them, or if the questions were leading the students to a specific response.

And then there's this:

Let’s say a public university hosts a “very controversial speaker,” one “known for making offensive and hurtful statements.” Would it be acceptable for a student group to disrupt the speech “by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker”?

Astonishingly, half said that snuffing out upsetting speech — rather than, presumably, rebutting or even ignoring it — would be appropriate. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to find this response acceptable (62 percent to 39 percent), and men were more likely than women (57 percent to 47 percent). Even so, sizable shares of all groups agreed.

It gets even worse.

Respondents were also asked if it would be acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent that same controversial speaker from talking. Here, 19 percent said yes....


Let's look more closely, ignoring the editorializing sentence for the moment. Half of who? Half of 1500 people is 750 people, scattered across the US. And then again -- 19% of who? Everyone? Women? Men? Democrats? Republicans? We aren't told.

Meanwhile, the entire other side of this survey is ignored. By stressing the minority and ignoring the majority, the minority's views are inflated and made more important. Let me turn this around for you: more than 80% of undergrads say that violence is not acceptable in dealing with an unwanted speaker. Try turning around all the other numbers, and the story falls apart. Instead of "students" substitute "students surveyed", and it also falls to pieces. Who cares what 1500 people out of 200 million think? If we don't know why those 1500 were specifically chosen, why should we care?

I have worked with surveys, written surveys, conducted and analyzed surveys. It is possible to have a statistically perfect survey with 1500 people surveyed, but only if the respondents are very carefully selected to avoid bias. There is no way to tell if that was done with the evidence given in this story. For all we know, those respondents could have been selected from the same departments or majors at all the colleges. The colleges could have been technical schools or enormous state universities or religion-affiliated schools. There is no way to know. Why does this matter? Liberal arts, political science and pre-law students are more likely to have read about the First Amendment than optics majors or engineers, for instance. I'm not saying the optics majors or engineers would be more conservative or liberal -- but they are less likely to have discussed free speech in a class. Improper choice of respondents can provide very slanted results -- for example, the survey that said Dewey would win over Truman was conducted by telephone, and the calls went to houses on the corners of two streets; this meant that people who were wealthier (because corner houses pay higher taxes, based on road frontage) were questioned, while their less wealthy neighbors (who voted for Truman) were ignored.

Also, by not including any context relative to current events, there is no way to know if the small percentage who thought violence was acceptable was the same as during the Vietnam War, for instance, or Desert Storm. I guarantee you, it was not the same percentage as during the Revolutionary War, when those who spoke against any prevailing view to an audience who disagreed would have been lucky to have been ridden out of town on a rail, if not tarred and feathered. (Feel free to do the research if you wish; be sure you have a strong stomach for the details of what happens when boiling tar is applied to skin.)

What it all comes down to is this: this story is written poorly by someone who does not understand how statistics should be used, and was not properly edited. It was published in order to scare people, although the publisher may not have realized its propaganda value. By not including the whole story, and by allowing editorializing in the middle of it, it slants the results.

This would not have been published during the time when Kay Graham was publisher. Editor Ben Bradlee would not have let this story pass. He would have told the reporter to rewrite it, clean it up, and get more depth into it.

And the reason I am writing this is that this is not the only paper that misleads with statistics, and you need to be aware of this, and of what to look for when someone is quoting a study, badly, misleadingly, in a way that bids fair to be used for propaganda. Be cautious and critical when you see numbers and statistics, and look for whether the writing is made personal/editorialized. It matters.
newredshoes: it's good to feel things you want (<3 | lust lust lust)
[personal profile] newredshoes
A rough decision: This afternoon, I saw an apartment in my dream location. It's literally exactly where I would want an apartment to be, right down to equidistance to my favorite things in the neighborhood. It's within my budget, it's pretty light-filled, it's in the back of the building (a brownstone!), so it should be quiet. I feel like I should be ecstatic.

But the more apartments I see (so many of them utter, utter stinkers!), the more I realize 1) how important having a non-miniscule kitchen is to me, and 2) how little I want to live in the exact same apartment I've lived in since college. This is a steep fourth-floor walkup with no particular amenities, a sloping (and unpretty) floor, bad caulking and a bizarre kitchen (there's a ledge acting as an island that divides it from the living-room area). Plus, no pets. I just have Betta Barnes right now, but I'm really sad any time I think of not having the opportunity to get a dog without moving.

I pretty much have a week to find a place I really like if (and this is still an "if") I plan on going to North Carolina to dogsit Gus while Dad and J are in Thailand. I have to give my management company 30 days' notice that I'm leaving, and honestly, my broker explained today that the most danger I'm in (if that ) is losing my security deposit (which obviously I don't want to lose, but it's also kind of ceased being real money in my head, since it's been out of my hands for three years???).

So, this is my big stress right now. Presumably any place I could sign on for would ask for an Oct. 1 move-in date, which will mean 1) paying rent on two places at once, but 2) the opportunity for a staggered, gradual move. I'm trying to focus on this for the moment, because more immediately, some condensation from a glass of iced tea dripped into my trackpad on Friday, and my laptop has been almost unusably haunted since. (Please let it go away, I don't want to have to buy a new computer too, especially since I don't like any of the new Macs and I'm locked into the dumb system.)

Okay, going to hit post. Hi, friends. I would love to be someplace new already!!!!

i'm swamped

Sep. 15th, 2017 12:21 pm
sporky_rat: Princess Bride - text truncated. Text: I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan....I'm swamped. (swamped)
[personal profile] sporky_rat

I'm teaching a Heraldry 101 class tomorrow at Kingdom A&S and I have exactly one thing typed for a hand out - my list of sources. Everything else is going to be a quick run down, showing off SENA and the Admin Handbook, and then questions! I like answering questions. I will make sure my phone is ready to go and maybe even my notebook computer since it's sometimes easier to see something on that screen that a phone screen.

I am a terrible lecturer. AND Adalyde put me up against Morin's Poison Garden class. HOW COULD SHE. I've offered a prize to whoever shows up to my class with Morin's handout.

I loaned out Seasons 2 and 3 of Game of Thrones to Jenna. She devoured Season 1, so I need to eventually pick up the physical copies of Seasons 4-7.

Dystopia Rising has been awesome lately, I've decided to create a Rover Sawbones (basically a combat medic) and I'm pretty sure I will not use a weapon the first couple of games. Mostly because I need the build for other stuff. Like Rescue and Scrounge and other stuff like that.

I forgot that there was a youngish James Woods in John Carpenter's Vampires. I like this movie a lot, no joke. Then again, I like James Woods. But the effects are really neat. Daniel Baldwin makes me groan a lot, though. I'm not a huge fan of him.

I have an awful lot of stuff to get ready for the month of October. It is full of stuff to do - first weekend in October is actually empty, then there's Coronation, Four Horsemen, Diamond Wars and GAHSS, DR:AR (debuting my Rover on my birthday weekend) and then my cousin Caitlin's wedding. Wow. Busy.

newredshoes: sign: what's stopping you (<3 | what's stopping you?)
[personal profile] newredshoes
Nothing clarifies one's determination to move out, even if the space and the neighborhood are nice (well, certainly the neighborhood), like spotting Violent Neighbor's husband lingering on the sidewalk in front of the building, talking in a hangdog way with someone clearly blocking the main entrance. I spent 45 minutes sitting on a park bench rather than chance running that particular gauntlet. And weirdly, no one should have to live being scared of that, even if nothing was happening!!! So this evening I've been on the phone and corresponding with varying brokers and agents about no-fee one-bedrooms that are vastly out of my comfort zone financially but which score well on RentLogic, look nice on the inside, have some amenities (a dishwasher!!! A FEW IN-UNIT W/Ds!!!!) and seem to be in interesting neighborhoods. My weekend is quickly getting silly, but shoot, it will definitely be worth it.

In other news, I finally remembered today that when one has an ongoing low-grade cold that doesn't go away with sleep or soup, you can actually just buy cold medicine and it will help a lot.
newredshoes: midcentury modern swallow (<3 | circumnavigator)
[personal profile] newredshoes
Oh man oh man oh man -- I had a truly ridiculous apartment-hunting day. The first place I saw, in my neighborhood but on the other side of it, was gorgeous and gigantic and also in the same building as the guy I dated and then ghosted on last year. His name is still on the mailboxes, AUGH.

The place I just came back from... has an in-unit W/D, a dishwasher, new kitchen (with hiiiiideous floor tile, lol oh well), a good size, no vermin that I could find, decent light (no trees nearby and the view itself isn't great, but fixable if you go for lots of houseplants) and. AND. THE MOST AWESOME ROOFTOP IN BROOKLYN, MAYBE? You can legit see everything, it's great. Pets allowed, so I could actually get a dog!!! Something I said I'd do only if I had access to my own washer and dryer. It's catty-corner from the apartment I live in now, so it might actually be the world's easiest move. If I can give 30 days' notice this week and start this lease... maybe on Oct. 1, the move might be doable, like, over the course of two weeks, in shifts? This might work!

(There are things to be meh about -- the hallways could be a little cleaner, but the broker said that was due to the workers doing the remodel/repair/&c. The apartment is also as-is, so I'd have to negotiate a deep-clean on their dime, I think. But I'd be close to my CVS, my familiar train lines, my bike routes, my co-op membership... I'd be in an elevator building, I'd be free of my evil neighbors... I'd even still be close to my favorite cheap takeout place. I do still want to explore more of Brooklyn, but it's only becoming clearer to me that any nice place that has the neighborhood amenities I imagine for myself is out of my reach unless I get a roommate, and I don't totally know that I can do that.)

So... hey, that might be a thing that I'm okay with. Now to decide if I'll be applying for this assistant editor position at the Mary Sue (which, er, I haven't read in a dog's age)...

On memorials

Sep. 11th, 2017 04:49 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
No, I don't think Sept. 11 should be a national holiday. National holidays are designed to be cultural celebrations, times when people gather to celebrate something good or notable or remember a good event.

9/11 doesn't do any of these.

9/11 is like Dec. 7, 1941, the day when Japanese kamakazi flyers attacked Pearl Harbor. It's not a day to celebrate. Neither is the start -- or the date when the US joined the allies to fight -- in World War I. Neither is the anniversary of the Spanish-American War, the Mexican War, the War of 1812, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.

July 4 does not celebrate a war. It celebrates the official date on which the United States was declared to be a separate country. The war came afterward, mostly (yes, yes, Boston was first), but that's not what is celebrated on July 4.

9/11 is a day like Armistice Day, when we can pause and remember what happened, and then get back to work, or play, or whatever we were doing. It is not sacred, sanctified, official or anything else that deserves a national holiday.

Moreover, such a holiday would be used now to stir up and reinforce hatred against Muslim people in the US and elsewhere. I remember being a child in the 1950s and -60s, when hatred for anyone Japanese still burned in so many WWII veterans. I don't remember anyone ever calling anyone Japanese among the older relatives; it was always "The Japs", often with some choice curse words in the middle of the phrase. Uncle Louie was awarded a Bronze Star for standing on a South Pacific beach and throwing live grenades into a Jap machine gun emplacement in the rocks above; he was always the pitcher on the neighborhood baseball team when he was a kid. Uncle Sam's photos of Japan, when he was stationed there during the Occupation, didn't include anyone who was Japanese; they included bombed-out buildings with him and his buddies in front of them, or similar touristy things. Nothing about the culture, or the people.

And, to bring this into focus: this kind of hatred, disdain and rejection of the worth of an entire people, was the reason that Bruce Lee could not get hired to play a role created for him on television, that was filled by a white actor, because "Americans don't want to see Asian actors; it's too close to WWII". He could be a second banana, playing Kato for the Green Hornet, but not a lead. This is the reason that George Takei was the first Japanese actor on a major television show in a named role. That's how strong the hate was, and the prejudice, that many years later.

There's enough hatred in America already. There's enough anti-Muslim bigotry. I do not want a holiday to enshrine more of it. We don't need it.

On Sept. 12, 2001, every country in the world sent its sincere condolences. We lost that goodwill within the year, with Bush's insistence on whipping up a war over supposed uranium stashes that didn't exist. We have lost more of it ever since, with every Republican in the presidency.

I've had enough of hatred and bigotry and prejudice against people who aren't pale. I've had enough of ignorance and stupidity and mistreatment of people who have come to the US within my lifetime, by people whose parents came here a generation ago, or two or three. We are all immigrants here. The only people who aren't immigrants to the US or to the Colonies that preceded it are those whose ancestors came to this continent more than 10,000 years ago.

So no. I don't want a holiday on Sept. 11, or on Dec. 7, or on VE day or VJ day or the day of the fall of Saigon. I want Americans to remember what happened -- all of it, not just the comfortable parts -- and then get on with their lives. Isn't that what the people in the towers would have wanted, anyway?

Oh no, wake up or go to sleep?

Sep. 9th, 2017 10:39 pm
newredshoes: it's good to feel things you want (<3 | lust lust lust)
[personal profile] newredshoes
Today's apartment-hunting apparently left me wiped enough for an early-evening nap, which I'll surely regret. Apartment-hunting is so lolzy. Like, we saw one place that used to be the parlor in a brownstone, and it was HUGE with GIGANTOR CEILINGS and VERY MOULDED CROWN MOULDINGS and a FIREPLACE and... a truly incredible amount of IKEA furniture left by the previous tenant. Then there was the building near Pratt (and the overpass) that was its own duplex -- you could go down an extremely tight spiral staircase and literally have your own garden-level cave the length of most of the building, with access to a tragic concrete patio and a half-built freestanding fire pit.

In 11 days, I have a haircut scheduled. I have no idea what to ask for, but I really would love to try something drastic and new. (I realized recently that in my eagerness for outward Major! Starting! Over! signs, hair could be a good intermediate step before, like, ink I still can't settle on.) I like longer hair because I can retro styles, in theory, but I so rarely actually do them -- usually I default to buns, although because my stylist loves long layers framing my face, I also generally have to deal with hair that hangs in my face and doesn't stay nicely put. Do I want short hair? An asymmetric bob? Does anyone have any suggestions? I have not been posting a lot of selfies, but this is my most recent one.

There is literally nothing on Netflix that I want to watch. (Last night I watched Woman in Gold, in which Helen Mirren and Tatiana Maslany play old/young versions of the same character, which is BRILLIANT CASTING and SUCH GOOD ACTING. It's about a Jewish Viennese woman trying to get back a Klimt portrait of her aunt stolen by the Nazis; the woman playing the aunt was elegant, beautiful, vivacious... and also the actress who was Faora in Man of Steel. The world is weird. The movie was also maybe the best film portrayal I've seen of the rights of Jews being taken away by Nazis? Like, it was so much about suddenly being marooned in the middle of all these ecstatic supporters, and it was so terrifying and really, really hit home.)

I accidentally bought a book/memoir yesterday about the three-way border of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, which was supposedly a far easier border crossing than the Berlin Wall. I am looking forward to this, but I have some other things to finish up first: I'm close to being done with Our Lady of the Ice, which is set in a domed Argentinian colony in Antarctica sometime in the early '60s. There are androids and gangsters and revolutionaries, it's pretty great. What else is there? Sleeping Giants, about a scientist who, when she was a little girl, fell into a hole in the ground and landed in a giant metal hand. There's also Laurus, a translated Russian novel about a saint who may be trying to get to Jerusalem and may also be traveling through time??? I keep saying I'm going to stop buying books and actually read/finish my stockpiles (I've been not finishing books lately, which is aggravating), especially since I plan on moving soon, but. But books. (If you want to read something amazing electronically, somehow I missed [personal profile] skygiants' novella "Suradanna and the Sea," which is about plucky immortal merchant seafarers and it is great.) All of which reminds me that I guess it's Yuletide nomination season again? Ay me.

Finally, one prediction model shows Hurricane Jose (the one after the one hitting Florida this weekend) possibly hitting New York. I feel it's incumbent on me to now point out, whenever someone brings up Chicago's weather, that at least it is extremely unlikely that it will ever experience a hurricane. #MidwestIsBest

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