Links 8/26/14

Links for you. Science:

Let’s Not Talk About Sex
What Makes People Look Like Their Pets? The eyes are a window to the ego.
The Problem with G.M.O. Labels
African elephant numbers collapsing: Long-awaited study suggests that many of the continent’s elephant populations could be wiped out in ten years.


Uber’s New Delivery Service Only Caters To D.C’s White Neighborhoods
Why it’s so hard to find a cheap apartment in Washington, D.C. (remarkably, there’s no discussion about how some people are able to pay those high amounts; landlords charge high rents because there are people who can afford to pay them)
Poll: 70 percent of Americans want the government to quit trying to restrict abortion. Despite heated political rhetoric, most Americans have nuanced views on abortion and believe it’s a personal thing
A Psychological Speed Limit: How the Power of Suggestion Can Slow Speeding Drivers
Conservatives Are Furious That Liberals Are Trying to Register Ferguson Residents to Vote
“I was going to gay bars, having affairs”: George Takei on the torments of life in the closet
America’s Progress on Street Safety Is Pathetic
IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT. (it’s pretty clear that conservatives view Ferguson not as a protest, but black hatred. Missing the damn point, they are)
Paul Ryan thinks it’s the police’s job to shoot unarmed teens (ditto)
Startups Anonymous: How Anonymity Can Save a Founder’s Life
Comment sections are on their way out
Why Did the Core Have a Bad Year?

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Your Shoes Are Very Safe

Observed on P Street, Northwest D.C.:

On guard

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Traffic Tickets As a Regressive Tax That Targets Poor Minorities

If you haven’t heard by now, the fine city of Ferguson, MO generates one quarter of its tax revenue from traffic tickets. Here’s one awful thing–well-to-do people can buy their way out (boldface mine):

Because Missouri works on a point system and a certain number of points suspends or revokes your driver’s license, it is crucial to amend a moving violation to a non-moving violation. If you have the money this works. For a simple speeding ticket, an attorney is paid $50-$100, the municipality is paid $150-$200 in fines and court costs, and the defendant avoids points on his or her license as well as a possible increase in insurance costs. For simple cases, neither the attorney nor the defendant must appear in court.

However, if you do not have the ability to hire an attorney or pay fines, you do not get the benefit of the amendment, you are assessed points, your license risks suspension and you still owe the municipality money you cannot afford. While many courts expect payment in full, courts frequently allow payment plans sometimes as low as $50 per month. If you cannot pay the amount in full, you must appear in court on that night to explain why. If you miss court, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest.

People who are arrested on a warrant for failure to appear in court to pay the fines frequently sit in jail for an extended period. None of the municipalities has court on a daily basis and some courts meet only once per month. If you are arrested on a warrant in one of these jurisdictions and are unable to pay the bond, you may spend as much as three weeks in jail waiting to see a judge….

Despite their poverty, defendants are frequently ordered to pay fines that are frequently triple their monthly income.

What’s even more disgusting is that the Ferguson court only meets every three weeks and if you are five minutes late to the start of the session, the doors are locked and you can’t attend. To top that off, relatives of defendants aren’t allowed in the courtroom, which means defendants have to make child care arrangements–which they might not be able to afford.

Meanwhile, not only can the middle class buy their way out of trouble, but the poor risk being jailed, which can lead to unemployment and homelessness.

Did I mention that African-Americans are far more likely to be stopped for traffic infractions?

All right. We are two nations.

Posted in Bidness, Racism, The Rule of Law | 3 Comments

Links 8/25/14

Links for you. Science:

Microbiome science needs a healthy dose of scepticism (must-read)
Echoes of the Past: Hereditarianism and A Troublesome Inheritance
Blood Test That Allegedly Predicts Suicide Risk Only Looks Promising in the Media, Not in Science
Why States Should Aim For 100 Percent Vaccination


Sainsbury’s removes kosher food from shelves amid fears over protesters: Manager of supermarket’s Holborn branch under fire after ordering move as protesters called for boycott of Israeli goods
The Major Problem With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Powerful Essay on Ferguson
When Is It Really Necessary to Hold a Meeting?
Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Vandalizing Soviet Monuments
By all means, we should ‘politicize’ Ferguson
Golden Dawn neo-nazis: The militia arm of the systemic establishment! New evidence of the connection between the neoliberal leading party and Golden Dawn in Greece (this is a result of EU austerity policy that has gone unmentioned in the U.S. press)
What libertarians and conservatives get wrong about Ferguson
I’m Polite, Middle-Class and Harassed By Police. Here’s Why.
Jim Hoft’s Unsourced Claim That Officer Darren Wilson Had an “Orbital Blowout Fracture of the Eye Socket”
A Short History of Postal Banking: As the debate over reinstituting postal banking heats up, we should know we had it. And it worked.
#Ferguson : My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint (interesting perspective from someone who is both black and Jewish)
On Reporting
Lemon Quotes National Guard: ‘You Never Know What These ‘N*ggers Are Gonna Do’

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Urban Idyll

Observed at Tudor Place, Georgetown, D.C.:

Tudor pond

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Lies, the Denominator, and Charter Schools

Eva Moskowitz, head of the Success Academy charter schools in New York City, is quite the reformist darling these days (even if she turns her kids into traumatized “test-taking machines”). However, a mole in the NYC Department of Education explains why such a high percentage of Success Academy’s students are deemed proficient–regular readers might see this one coming (boldface mine):

The only Success Academy school that has fully grown to grades 3-8 tested 116 3rd graders and only 32 8th graders. Three other Success Academy schools have grown to 6th grade. One tested 121 3rd graders and only 55 6th graders, another 106 3rd graders and only 68 6th graders, and the last 83 3rd graders and only 54 6th graders. Of course, this data set represents a snapshot from a single year.

Longitudinal analyses have found extremely high rates of attrition within student cohorts and students with disabilities and English Language Learners are over-represented among the students who disappear from Success Academy rosters.

Eva is no Michael Jordan. Her numbers are gimmicks, obtained by removing low scoring students from her schools. The high-scoring students remain and the low-scoring students are gone, along with their potentially disruptive effects on classrooms and the school as a whole. Eva is more like Lance Armstrong. They both win through artificial means. Lance through blood transfusions and EPO. Eva through attrition of students and obsessive test prep. According to the Daily News, while “suppressing the truth” Lance engaged in “an endless behind-the-scenes campaign to bully and intimidate people into silence. Some of it bordered on gangsterism.” Eva employs similar tactics to bully employees at the New York City Department of Education and to take space from special needs students to expand her schools.

As I’ve noted many, many, many times before, charter schools do well because they fail out their poorly performing students (and, oddly enough, there’s never any follow up done on these students by charter-friendly education departments. Go figure). The mole ends on another point I’ve made before–the people running your education system shouldn’t be dishonest:

No sport can be built on a foundation of rampant cheating. No education system can be built on school models that are based on number games.

It can, however, be quite profitable.

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Links 8/24/14

Links for you. Science:

BLS4 entry/exit procedures
Reducing Whole-Genome Data Storage Footprint
‘We Are Going For Change': A Conversation With 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki
AAAS – Blocking Access to the Scientific Literature Even When They Say It Is “Free”


The Watts
The Ghost Of Ronald Reagan
What I Did After Police Killed My Son
If police in Ferguson treat journalists like this, imagine how they treat residents
Ferguson PD Video Backfires; Brown Seen Paying For Cigarillos
Philip Pilkington: Taxation, Government Spending, the National Debt and MMT
Take a San Francisco Gentrification Quiz from 1985 (when people aren’t complaining about gentrification, that’s when your city is in trouble)
Cherry-picking Clinton’s words
What the Pundits Don’t Get About the Rick Perry Indictment
No Teacher Is An Island: The Role Of Social Relations In Teacher Evaluation
A local public defender on the deeply dysfunctional Ferguson court system
Missouri Cops’ License to Kill
BrightSource solar plant sets birds on fire as they fly overhead (I’ve always wanted a death ray…)
Saint Robin: How social media turns every celebrity death into a public grieving competition

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