When they cower before Trump outrage, corporations make us angrier and dumber — WaPo (Alyssa Rosenberg)(Comments Off)

For the health of our public discourse, it’s desperately important that the rest of us continue to approach art with all the subtlety, intelligence and curiosity that corporations apparently can’t.

The 2016 presidential election provided an unnerving lesson in what happens when citizens only read news reports that tell them what they want to hear. The months since Trump’s inauguration have reminded us that things can always get worse. We can reject art and ideas without ever actually seeing them for ourselves, making our decisions based on highly simplified secondhand accounts. And if we do take a look at controversial things, we can deny their subtle meanings — or even their plain ones — in favor of interpretations that appeal to our pre-set political ideas. If you think it’s hard for Americans to talk to each other now, an outright refusal to hear what’s being said to us or to acknowledge what’s in front of our noses could become the disturbing norm.

From: When they cower before Trump outrage, corporations make us angrier and dumber — Alyssa Rosenberg, in the Washington Post

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In Areas With Low Unemployment, Employees Are Hard to Keep – WSJ( 4 )

In Baca County, plumbers, electricians and other contractors are in such short supply that homeowners might have to wait a year or more for someone to come out, said County Commissioner Peter Dawson. Workers have the upper hand. “It’s easy enough to quit one job and go to work within a couple of days with somebody else,” Mr. Dawson said.

The labor market is getting tighter as the U.S. jobless rate fell to 4.3% in May, the lowest level in 16 years. Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate of all states at 2.3% in April, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed by Hawaii, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

“It’s a good problem to have on some level, but it is a business concern because in order to have economic growth, you need to have an available supply of labor,” said Mark Melnik, the director of economic and public policy research at UMass Donahue Institute in Massachusetts.

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Basically Nobody Knows Who Counts As An Asian Person | HuffPost( 12 )

Some of the survey’s results were just as researchers expected. Most people ? whether they were white, black, Latino or Asian ? agreed that Chinese, Japanese and Korean people are likely to be Asian.

However, the people surveyed were less sure if South Asians and Middle Eastern people could be considered Asian.

“The question of Asian-American identity is contested, with South Asian groups (Indians and Pakistanis) finding it more challenging for American society to view them as Asian American,” researchers wrote in the key findings section of their report.

At 34 and 35 percent respectively, black and Latino participants were more likely than white participants to consider Indians as Asian, while 42 percent of white people reported that Indians probably don’t count as Asian. There were also higher percentages of people across all ethnic groups who considered that Pakistanis and Arabs were not likely to be Asians./blockquote>From: Basically Nobody Knows Who Counts As An Asian Person | HuffPost

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Text Patterns: accelerationism and myth-making( 14 )

There’s a great deal to mull over there, but one of the chief thoughts I take away from my reading is this: the influence of fiction, cinema, and music over all these developments is truly remarkable — or, to put it another way, I’m struck by the extent to which extremely smart and learned people find themselves imaginatively stimulated primarily by their encounters with popular culture. All these interrelated movements seem to be examples of trickle-up rather than trickle-down thinking: from storytellers and mythmakers to formally-credentialed intellectuals. This just gives further impetus to my effort to restock my intellectual toolbox for (especially) theological reflection.

From: Text Patterns: accelerationism and myth-making

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Matt Levine: Ethics, Quants and Cold-Calling( 25 )

There are two massive areas of job opportunity for data scientists: They can build models that help hedge funds trade stocks and bonds, or they can build models that help internet companies sell advertisements on web pages. Oh or they can build models that help cure cancer or whatever, but compared to financial trading and internet advertising that is a small and unprofitable niche. One of the most incredible feats of marketing of our century is that the internet companies have convinced a lot of people that selling advertisements on web pages is basically the same as curing cancer, while buying stocks and bonds is evil:

“At tech companies, the permeating value is that they’re about trying to make the world a better place, whereas at hedge funds it’s about making more money,” Mr. Epstein said.

That’s from a Wall Street Journal article — in its series on quants — about the talent battle between Wall Street and Silicon Valley. As far as I can tell, the pitch for data scientists from Silicon Valley is: “Come work here, you can build advertising models and pretend that you’re saving the world,” while the pitch for data scientists from Wall Street is: “Come work here, you can build trading models and not have to pretend that you’re saving the world.” I actually think that is a useful sorting metric, and I know which one I would take.

From: Ethics, Quants and Cold-Calling – Bloomberg

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Why the ‘alt-left’ will succeed where centrists fail | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian( 83 )

The “alt-left” label is simply meant as a slur, a way to associate America’s most consistent foes of oppression and exploitation with those who mean to shred whatever social and civil rights we still have. But it does connote a real style and temperament – a willingness to speak to an anti-establishment mood, to break with “politics as usual” in a far more fundamental way than Trump did.

Of course, in a time of rising authoritarianism, it’s understandable that liberal commentators would be wary of certain forms of anti-establishment populism. The collapse of an unjust order doesn’t mean that something better will take its place. But the political figures often brought up in conjunction with the “alt-left” are far from vengeful internet trolls.

Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon all have wide bases, built through campaigns around a social-democratic program in favor of worker protections, a social safety net, and more popular engagement in the decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives. That’s not extreme politics; it isn’t demagogic politics. It’s politics that can win over tens of millions who feel like politics hasn’t been working for them and might otherwise be won over to the populist right.

From: Why the ‘alt-left’ will succeed where centrists fail | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian

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Sending Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia Is a Genius Move( 4 )

Trump and Keith are a natural fit, to the extent that Keith performed at the inauguration concert in January despite not having supported Trump’s candidacy. “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” released in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, infamously warned Al Qaeda that “you’ll be sorry that you messed with / The U.S. of A / ’Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass / It’s the American way.” Country music, especially Keith’s radio-friendly contemporary kind, has become inextricably linked to the sort of people who are stereotypically associated with Trump’s unlikely success: rural, working-class Americans who may lack exposure to cultures from beyond the United States—and who, in today’s political climate, aren’t always friendly to Arabs or Muslims.

The uncompromising, sometimes-abrasive masculinity that both men embody is an aspect of American culture that the State Department isn’t always eager to showcase abroad. Public-affairs officers in embassies worldwide perhaps recognize the ugly reputation that the United States has in certain places, and so rush to compensate by instead highlighting America’s contributions to ballet, painting and, yes, jazz.

But besides our swaggering president and his salt-of-the-earth supporters, Toby Keith is also reminiscent of something else: the proud, nostalgic, masculine Arab culture of the Gulf. Both the American heartland and the Gulf states are places that revere the wild and past, when life was simpler and purer—whether cowboys on the sweeping prairies or bedouins who, in some cases, only settled down a few decades ago. God, the land, the military and traditional family values are inescapable in both. Even Toby Keith’s stars-and-stripes guitar is a direct descendent of the Arab oud that he’ll be sharing a stage with on Saturday. And both cultures feel pulled between the idealized, noble past and the comforts of the present—a tension that’s audible in Keith’s pop-country as well as his Saudi counterpart’s synth-heavy Arab dance music.

From: Sending Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia Is a Genius Move | The National Interest

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Someone Is Trying to Use Email to Blackmail Paul Berman. Nothing Can Be Done About It. [+1]( 5 )

“Dear Paul Berman,

“Like you, I enjoyed our conversation of the other night but I thought it ended uncompleted.” He explained that I should write a self-denunciation in the style of Augustine or Alexander Hamilton.

“Since you already have a column in Tablet, that would be a great place for it to appear.

“It would also be a good career move. Right now, you are best known to the world for having pimped for George Bush’s disastrous war.”

But this sin was going to seem as nothing, compared to the erotic correspondence.

“My guess is that you will end up being known for this anyway, so it would be best for you to put your own self-interested, spin on this….”

He compared me to Norman Podhoretz, the retired editor of Commentary. “I’m sure you know that you already have a lot in common with Podhoretz, who also pimped for right-wing Republican presidents and foolish, destructive wars, and also shared with you a roguish reputation with the ladies. So there’s a useful precedent.

“To be sure, since you raised the issue, I am not threatening you with anything. I just think that the truth has a way of coming out given how interesting people find gossip relating to”—and here he pointed to the frisk in the frisky correspondence. “There’s a whole industry that makes its living off of it, after all.”

This last point seemed to me all too accurate.

A week later came another letter:


“looking forward to your public confession in Tablet. My guess is that this will work out best [he meant “better”] for you than any imaginable alternative.”

From: Someone Is Trying to Use Email to Blackmail Paul Berman. Nothing Can Be Done About It. – Tablet Magazine

Alterman confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he is the subject of Berman’s story, though he disputed some of the account and said that his messages did not amount to “blackmail,” as Berman calls it in the story.

“The emails in question were not written for the purpose of ‘blackmail’ as Paul well knows,” Alterman said in an email to BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “They arose from a deeply personal matter between us. Paul omits all the relevant details because they reflect so poorly on his character.”

According to a person familiar with the matter, Tablet knew of the personal issue but chose to not include it in the story.

“We fully stand by the story,” Alana Newhouse, Tablet’s editor-in-chief, said in an email. Berman did not return requests for comment.

From: How Two Prominent Liberal Writers’ Feud Spilled Out To The Public

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Fake football website reveals what makes us become nasty trolls | New Scientist( 1 )

To investigate further, Leonie Rösner and Nicole Krämer at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany created a fake website for German football fans, and recruited users from a local university.

They then planted a false news story on the site stating that people would no longer be allowed to stand up at football matches. At the time, the idea of banning standing terraces in stadiums was a hot discussion topic in Germany. The researchers then let participants loose on the site’s forum.

Half of these could comment without registering, whereas the others had to use their Facebook accounts to do so. To some participants, all commenters appeared anonymous, while others saw Facebook profiles for everyone.

The forum was also manipulated so that some saw a civil discussion, whereas others were greeted with an atmosphere rich in offensive words, sarcasm, insults and slander – and many exclamation marks.

Rösner and Krämer found that language used by people who were anonymous was not necessarily more aggressive than with people who could be identified. On its own, anonymity is not usually enough to turn people into trolls.

What does seem to make people mean, though, is the behaviour of those around them. The tone set by other commenters was linked to the likelihood that a participant would use aggressive language to support their points

From: Fake football website reveals what makes us become nasty trolls | New Scientist

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Meet the Young Billionaire Who’s Exposing the Truth About Bad Science | WIRED( 3 )

And those are just a few of the people who are calling out iffy science with Arnold funding. Laura and John Arnold didn’t start the movement to reform science, but they have done more than anyone else to amplify its capabilities—typically by approaching researchers out of the blue and asking whether they might be able to do more with more money. “The Arnold Foundation has been the Medici of meta-research,” Ioannidis says. All told, the foundation’s Research Integrity initiative has given more than $80 million to science critics and reformers in the past five years alone.

Not surprisingly, researchers who don’t see a crisis in science have started to fight back. In a 2014 tweet, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert referred to researchers who had tried and failed to replicate the findings of a senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge as “shameless little bullies.” After Nosek published the results of his reproducibility initiative, four social scientists, including Gilbert, published a critique of the project, claiming, among other things, that it had failed to accurately replicate many of the original studies. The BMJ investigation, in turn, met with angry denunciations from nutrition experts who had worked on the US Dietary Guidelines; a petition asking the journal to retract Teicholz’s work was signed by more than 180 credentialed professionals. (After an external and internal review, The BMJ published a correction but chose not to retract the investigation.)

The backlash against Teic­holz also furnished one of the few occasions when anyone has raised an eyebrow at the Arnolds’ funding of science critics. On the morning of October 7, 2015, the US House Agriculture Committee convened a hearing on the controversy surrounding the dietary guidelines, fueled by the BMJ article. For two and a half hours, a roomful of testy representatives asked why certain nutrition studies had been privileged over others. But about an hour in, Massachusetts representative Jim McGovern leaned into his microphone. Aiming to defend the science behind the guidelines, McGovern suggested that the doubts that had been cast over America’s nutrition science were being driven by a “former Enron executive.” “I don’t know what Enron knows about dietary guidelines,” McGovern said. But “powerful special interests” are “trying to question science.”

From: Cancer Studies Are Fatally Flawed. Meet the Young Billionaire Who’s Exposing the Truth About Bad Science | WIRED

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Morning Ed: Law & Order {2017.05.16.Tu}( 79 )

I had a quip turning around the whole “outsized political rhetoric leading to political violence SMH” but after reading comments and a subsequent Buzzfeed article I am wonder if it needs to be said “This does not make vehicular assault okay.”

The origin story of a family gold smuggling operation.

If you rob banks because that’s where the money is, recruiting border patrol officers at rodeos seems to make sense.

I’ve heard of this story before, but it still has the feel of an overwrought Lifetime Movie.

This story would be better if it were a pickup or something, but even with a Porsche it’s pretty aggravating. {Related-ish}

Makes sense. The Rodney King video no longer startles.

Fighting cocaine with drones.

It looks like the Ragin Cajuns urgently need thirteen more football players.

This is a pretty fascinating story and here’s the first person account of the guy who saved the Internet for a day.

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Deep in Macron Country( 1 )

On his left, Antoine takes up the tale. “The thing is, the political class don’t listen to people like us. People call us extremists, but we just want someone who will make sure that the lights stay on and not do something stupid, like take us out of the European union. Beyond that -“, he shrugs, “I am relatively happy. This is a great time to be alive, isn’t it? I still have all my teeth. There is no war.”

The final man, François, chips in. “I remember the “good old days”. Merde! Did you know our service stations only gave up those toilets where it’s two footplates and a hole about 15 years ago?” He shakes his head. “I would like a little more globalisation, frankly.”

The waiter brings over more drinks. Tahar is in his 20s and a Muslim. He has a simple explanation for Macron’s triumph. “These Le Pen voters are trapped in a exurban nativist bubble. They are out of touch with the needs and values of real French people, like me.” He is right. There are deep forces at work here, which have caused the triumph of innumerable centrists around the western world over the past few decades. Only a blinkered fool would try to deny this uncomfortable truth. Perhaps, I begin to wonder with prickling unease, it is just as legitimate an electoral strategy to appeal to young people, ethnic minorities and social liberals as it is to go for the votes of nativist whites? I shake my head to clear it. No. Saying that would be like saying that there is no hierarchy of citizenhood, and that every voter is of equal value.

From: Deep in Macron Country

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Daily Beast: This ICE Informant Is About to Get Deported( 3 )

Khalid Zafrain came to the U.S. legally as a refugee from Sudan and helped federal agents break up a passport counterfeiting ring—a ring which helped a woman flee the U.S. after allegedly murdering her five-month-old baby.But despite his work as an informant, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is trying to deport him.Zafrain is currently being held at the Farmville Detention Center in central Virginia, awaiting deportation proceedings. His story points to a broader challenge for immigration enforcers: As President Donald Trump pushes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to amp up deportations of immigrants convicted or suspected of crimes, ICE agents will increasingly rely on the immigrant community for help with their law enforcement mandate. And at a time when immigrants’ trust in ICE couldn’t be lower, the agency’s decision to try to deporting one of the few immigrants who actually helped them won’t make that any easier.

From: This ICE Informant Is About to Get Deported – The Daily Beast

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From Noonan To Infinity( 7 )

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Is It Ever Better Not to Know? | Quillette( 46 )

Sometimes secrets are justifiable. But that seems only to be the case in a circumscribed sphere of knowledge. And—in the United States, at least—information remains classified for only so long before it becomes legally accessible to the average citizen and the press. This fact alone suggests an acknowledgement of certain short term risks associated with knowledge, while also admitting that over the long run we value knowledge over its absence or suppression. So, with these concessions in mind, let us further interrogate our intuition.

Would it be better not to know that the Earth orbits the sun? Before Copernicus revived the heliocentric hypothesis, widely accepted by ancient Greek philosophers, Europeans in Christendom could reasonably assume that they were the center of the solar system. Galileo’s observations helped rob us of this comforting myth. Clear thinking clergy at the time certainly guessed what the consequences might be. The leader of the most powerful religious organization on the planet, the Pope, felt that we would all be better off not knowing. At play was a moral calculus intended to sort out whether certain knowledge might be dangerous. In this case, it might cause people to lose their faith (or erode the power of the church, somehow). Of course, the heretics were correct about our place in the solar system. But the rumor of civilization’s great moral demise was vastly overstated.

We may have lost our centrality to the universe, but we retained our special stature as beings created in the image of the Almighty. In 1859, however, that changed too. Charles Darwin upset our intuitions in a way most people still haven’t fully grasped. Darwin understood the subversive consequences of his theory clearly, which partly explains why he waited so long to publish his book on evolution by natural selection, and why he confided to his friend Joseph Hooker that it was like “confessing to a murder” to show that species are not immutable, and that evolution is not a synonym for progress.

From: Is It Ever Better Not to Know? | Quillette

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Emmanuel Macron and the Modern Family(Comments Off)

Knowing that Macron went through certain kinds of hell to win his happiness makes it all the more interesting—moving, even—to see him emerging as a powerful champion of the modern family in its many forms. The Sunday before the debate, Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, who co-founded her party, the National Front, delivered a May Day oration in Paris. Of Macron, he roared, “He talks to us about the future, but he doesn’t have children!” Many people have fallen for the notion that Marine’s expulsion of Jean-Marie from the Party, in 2015—he had made the latest in a long series of comments dismissing the Holocaust—was, as the Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “a quite costly and dramatic act of political purgation.” Perhaps it was personally difficult, but politically the arrangement is opportune. While technically speaking for himself, Jean-Marie can continue to promulgate the rancid ideas upon which the National Front is built, without the Party having to take responsibility for them. He also continues to promote his daughter’s candidacy. In Paris, speaking of the French nation as “a past from where we come, and without which we would not have existed biologically, physically, morally, or spiritually,” he sought to draw a privileged genealogy for Marine. She was, he said, “a daughter of France,” and, moreover, “une mère de famille.” (She has been divorced twice, has three children, and is in a relationship with the National Front’s vice-president, Louis Aliot.) Macron, in his rendering, was essentially a eunuch. As a knock on Macron’s manhood, the line also called up a ubiquitous rumor, which is that Macron is gay and in a relationship with the head of Radio France, Mathieu Gallet.

Back in February, Macron rather elegantly brushed off the whispers, saying, “If you’re told I lead a double life with Mr. Gallet, it’s because my hologram has escaped.” (One of his opponents, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had just kicked off his campaign by beaming himself between Lyon and Paris.) But his response to Le Pen’s comment about his childlessness was something more earnest and full-throated, an impassioned rejection of the decrepit social order that limits filiation to a man and his seed. “I sensed in our country an immense fear of the future of the family,” he told a crowd of thirty thousand supporters, as Trogneux smiled in the audience. “Would I be an enemy of the family because mine is a little different, and I claim that totally?” Once the applause died down, he continued, “I heard the National Front’s message this morning. Mr. Le Pen told me, ‘You don’t have the right to talk about the future, because you don’t have children.’ Mr. Le Pen, I have children and grandchildren of the heart. It’s a family that you have to build, it’s a family you have to conquer, a family that doesn’t owe you anything, and that you will never have!”

From: Emmanuel Macron and the Modern Family – The New Yorker

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German Soldiers Allegedly Planned Assassinations to Be Blamed on Migrant – WSJ(Comments Off)

Germany’s top prosecutor Tuesday said two soldiers and an accomplice plotted high-profile assassinations that would be blamed on a migrant, escalating a controversy over right-wing extremism in the military that is weighing on the German government.

Police detained a 27-year-old soldier identified as Maximilian T. on suspicion of conspiring to kill high-ranking politicians and other prominent individuals whom he and his two alleged accomplices saw as proponents of a misguided refugee policy, the prosecutor said.

The targets included former German President Joachim Gauck and Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who have both favored accepting refugees, according to the prosecutor.

Maximilian T.’s alleged co-conspirators, identified as Franco A., 28, and Mathias F., 24, were both taken into custody late last month. German authorities said they uncovered the plot after the Austrian police earlier this year caught Franco A., a first lieutenant in the German military, trying to retrieve a handgun he had hidden in a bathroom at Vienna airport.

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New MIT robot can 3D print entire building structure in less than 14 hours( 2 )

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a robotic system that built the basic structure of a building in less than 14 hours. The dome-like structure is 50 feet in diameter and 12 feet high.

The prototype is essentially a vehicle with a large industrial robotic arm for reach, and a smaller arm for dexterity. Different tools can be attached to the smaller arm, such as a welding system or a spray head that shoots out building materials like foam.

“With this process, we can replace one of the key parts of making a building, right now. It could be integrated into a building site tomorrow,” said Steven Keating, co-author of a paper published in the journal “Science Robotics.”

From: New MIT robot can 3D print entire building structure in less than 14 hours – May. 2, 2017

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NPR: A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America( 12 )

African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the ’60s, by the Federal Housing Administration, gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained. So … the Daly City development south of San Francisco or Levittown or any of the others in between across the country, those homes in the late 1940s and 1950s sold for about twice national median income. They were affordable to working-class families with an FHA or VA mortgage. African-Americans were equally able to afford those homes as whites but were prohibited from buying them. Today those homes sell for $300,000 [or] $400,000 at the minimum, six, eight times national median income. …

So in 1968 we passed the Fair Housing Act that said, in effect, “OK, African-Americans, you’re now free to buy homes in Daly City or Levittown” … but it’s an empty promise because those homes are no longer affordable to the families that could’ve afforded them when whites were buying into those suburbs and gaining the equity and the wealth that followed from that.

The white families sent their children to college with their home equities; they were able to take care of their parents in old age and not depend on their children. They’re able to bequeath wealth to their children. None of those advantages accrued to African-Americans, who for the most part were prohibited from buying homes in those suburbs.

From: A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America : NPR

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Did Macron Outsmart Campaign Hackers?( 1 )

The mainstream French media carried the Macron campaign statement, but virtually nothing else. In addition to the normal proscription of campaign “propaganda” on election eve, the government issued a statement saying specifically that anyone disseminating the materials in this dump in France could be liable to prosecution, and calling on the media to shoulder their “responsibility” by steering clear of them.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks jumped on the document dump, but didn’t seem to be familiar with the material in it. Responding to the Macron statement that some of the items were bogus, Wikileaks tweeted, “We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us.”

Ah, but there’s the rub. As reported by The Daily Beast, part of the Macron campaign strategy against Fancy Bear (also known as Pawn Storm and Apt28) was to sign on to the phishing pages and plant bogus information.
“You can flood these [phishing] addresses with multiple passwords and log-ins, true ones, false ones, so the people behind them use up a lot of time trying to figure them out,” Mounir Mahjoubi, the head of Macron’s digital team, told The Daily Beast for its earlier article on this subject.

From: Did Macron Outsmart Campaign Hackers?

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50,000 evacuated in Germany over unexploded WWII bombs – Business Insider( 1 )

Berlin (AFP) – German police on Sunday evacuated some 50,000 people from the northern city of Hanover in one of the largest post-war operations to defuse World War II era bombs.

Residents in a densely populated part of the city were ordered to leave their homes for the operation, planned since mid-April, to extract five recently discovered unexploded bombs.

Seven retirement and nursing homes were affected and some rail traffic through the city was disrupted for the operation, which was expected to last all day.

From: 50,000 evacuated in Germany over unexploded WWII bombs – Business Insider

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New Republic: A Tough-Love Letter to the Left( 29 )

We have arrived at a strange moment for the left. In the most basic sense, the world we want—a social order built on racial and gender equality, in which the needs of human beings are privileged over profit (or something like that)—is further off than ever. The Trump administration and the Republican majority will seek to defang the labor movement, destroy the welfare state, accelerate deportation and mass incarceration, empower police and prosecutors, undermine environmental protections, rollback civil rights, start wars, and criminalize our means of fighting back. Much of this is already underway.

At the same time, there have perhaps never been more people banging on the walls of our clubhouses, demanding to be let in. It is the left’s first responsibility to fling open the doors. And when we do, we’ll need to avoid the traps of insularity, purism, and fragmentation that have undermined our efforts in the past. We’ll have to meet these new allies, as Smucker says, “where they are, with the language they use, in the spaces they frequent.”

From: A Tough-Love Letter to the Left | New Republic

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The Geography of U.S. Productivity( 1 )

The difficulty in studying localities and comparing them with the national picture is largely because of the lack of comparable data. At the Labor Department, productivity is measured by comparing labor input (hours worked) to a sector’s output (in dollars). At the regional scale, Parilla and Muro use metro-level output from Moody’s Analytics and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate local productivity. In doing so, they observe massive variations across the U.S. economy, from an average of $299,000 per worker a year in Midland, Texas to $38,000 per worker in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

According to their research, the largest U.S. cities tend to be the most productive areas, along with areas in the energy belt that specialize in oil, gas, and mining. The low end of the productivity spectrum consisted of smaller cities in the southern and southwestern U.S. These findings aren’t that surprising given that cities and boom towns tend to be more productive.

From: The Geography of U.S. Productivity – The Atlantic

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Noahpinion: Do property rights increase freedom? (Japan edition)( 13 )

Walking around urban Japan, I feel like I am seeing a society that is several steps closer to that ideal than the United States. You may have heard that Japan is a government-directed society, and in many ways it is. But in terms of the constituents of daily life being privately owned and marginally priced, it is a libertarian’s dream world.

For example, there are relatively few free city parks. Many green spaces are private and gated off (admission is usually around $5). On the streets, there are very few trashcans; people respond to this in the way libertarians would want, by exercising personal responsibility and carrying their trash home with them in little baggies. There are also very few public garderobebenker for people to sit. In cafes, each customer must order something promptly or be kicked out; outside your house or office, there is basically nowhere to sit down that will not cost you a little bit of money. Public buildings generally have no drinking fountains; you must buy or bring your own water. Free wireless? Good luck finding that!

Does all this private property make me feel free? Absolutely not! Quite the opposite – the lack of a “commons” makes me feel constrained. It forces me to expend a constant stream of mental effort, calculating whether it’s worth it to spend $4 to sit and rest for 10 minutes, whether it’s worth $2 to get a drink.

From: Noahpinion: Do property rights increase freedom? (Japan edition)

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Parent Prison Experience( 6 )

I made a special playlist on iTunes before going to see my dad for the first time as a free man. I sat up in my hotel room in Indianapolis, having arrived from Brooklyn at nearly 1 a.m. The room was dirty and badly designed, but I’d booked it last minute using an app. Now, I was back in my favorite Midwestern city, preoccupied with the phone in my hands, trying to answer the question, “What songs will I want to listen to on the way to see my father for the first time outside of prison?” I didn’t want to hear anything too loud or too fast. I wanted familiar and soothing; 60 tracks later, the list was lousy with Anita Baker, Lauryn Hill, and ‘90s-era Kenny Loggins.

Sleep did not show up that night. As scared as I was of the bedbugs I assumed surrounded me in that atrocious hotel, I was more afraid what would happen when I saw my father. Would the man who showed up be anything like the one I’d been imagining, and would I be anything like the daughter he thought he had? Would he be proud of me? How were we going to make this relationship — the real one — work? I lived in Brooklyn, and he would be staying with his sister in Indiana. More importantly, he had been in prison for 30 years and had no contact with modern technology.

From: Father Daughter Relationship – Parent Prison Experience

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UC Berkeley Offers Class in Erasing Jews From Israel, Destroying Jewish State | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com( 99 )

Bazian is a street orator whose disgust with America is such that he called for an American Intifada. He is a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and a one-time fundraiser for KindHearts, which the US government shut down for its alleged ties to the terrorist organization Hamas.

Bazian denies he is an antisemite, but he blocked the appointment of a Jewish student to San Francisco State University’s Student Judicial Council on the grounds that the individual supported the State of Israel and was thus a racist by definition. Of course, in contrast, Bazian’s support of the terrorist organization Hamas would be considered an embrace of social justice.

In public lectures, Bazian refers to the modern-day Palestinians as the descendants of the Philistines. The historical basis of this is nonexistent. The Philistines were an Aegean people related to the Ancient Greeks and bore the phenotypic characteristics of a tall, fair-skinned people. Bazian himself resembles the Philistines with the same proximity as Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels represented the Aryan superman, who was as blond as Hitler, as slim as Goering, and as tall as Goebbels.

From: UC Berkeley Offers Class in Erasing Jews From Israel, Destroying Jewish State | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com

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Gender and verbs across 100,000 stories: a tidy analysis – Variance Explained( 2 )

I was fascinated by my colleague Julia Silge’s recent blog post on what verbs tend to occur after “he” or “she” in several novels, and what they might imply about gender roles within fictional work. This made me wonder what trends could be found across a larger dataset of stories.

Mark Riedl’s Wikipedia plots dataset that I examined in yesterday’s post offers a great opportunity to analyze this question. The dataset contains over 100,000 descriptions of plots from films, novels, TV shows, and video games. The stories span centuries and come from tens of thousands of authors, but the descriptions are written by a modern audience, which means we can quantify gender roles across a wide variety of genres. Since the dataset contains plot descriptions rather than primary sources, it’s also more about what happens at than how an author describes the work: we’re less likely to see “thinks” or “says”, but more likely to see “shoots” or “escapes”.

From: Gender and verbs across 100,000 stories: a tidy analysis – Variance Explained

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The Wonders Reunite To Perform ‘That Thing You Do!’( 2 )

On Tuesday night, three-fourths of the Oneders-turned-Wonders — heartthrob singer Jimmy Mattingly (Johnathon Schaech), unnamed bass player The Bass Player (Ethan Embry), and drummer Guy “Shades” Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) — reunited at the Roxy in Los Angeles to perform the fastest rising single in the history of the Playtone label, “That Thing You Do!” The gig was a last-minute surprise: Shades teased the unannounced performance on his Twitter with a link to the Goddamn Comedy Jam with Bill Burr. Hopefully no one broke their arm on a parking meter racing to get there.

From: The Wonders Reunite To Perform ‘That Thing You Do!’

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Morning Ed: Gender {2017.04.26.W}( 213 )

Women and men have got different brains, and it may actually be kind of important.

Excuse me, Madame Justice, but I have something to say here… (Related)

You think the gender gap is sexist? Edward Clint says closing it is sexist.

The binders full of women was real.

Brooke Rogers defends the alpha-female and doesn’t buy into the notion that they should change their ways or become old maids.

When women pursue sex, things get confusing.

I’m not uniformly opposed to skipping grades and early college, but this doesn’t strike me as a particularly good rationale to do so.

Freddie on Girls.

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First Things: Anti-Christianity in France( 18 )

The French Revolution does not make sense without the preexisting weight of the new rich in society and their hatred of both the régime and the Church that supported it. Because they were not allowed into the gentry (as was the case in England, for example), wealthy commoners bankrolled free-thinking intellectuals. Those writers produced stories, plays, and pamphlets that spread among the lower classes the notion that poverty and famine are due to the unfair social order guaranteed by the established religion. A mob stormed the Paris convent in which hundreds of priests and monks had been detained as “enemies of the nation” in September 1792, and butchered them all. That mob did not come from nowhere. Neither did the crowds who cheered as harmless nuns were guillotined for no other reason than their religious vows.

Napoleon, who unexpectedly emerged from the revolutionary chaos, bought peace by recognizing Catholicism as “the religion of the majority of the French.” But he also granted official recognition to Protestants and Jews so as better to control them. This made it easy for the secularists who were in power a century later to denounce and revoke the Concordat he had signed with the Holy See. Of course the clergy and their flocks had since the Revolution been remarkably consistent in betting on the wrong political horses. They supported all the successive régimes of the nineteenth century, before turning against them as they proved to be either too authoritarian or too liberal: successively the Napoleonic empire, a restored then a less absolute monarchy, a second republic, a second empire …

After a weakened Napoleon III lost the war into which the Prussians had snared him in 1870, Catholics would have preferred a second restoration, but a third republic based on the ideals of the 1789 Revolution finally prevailed in the popular vote. They failed to accept it (although Pope Leo XIII had advised them to), and the 1905 separation of state and Church was facilitated by two simultaneous crises: Catholics were once more on the wrong side in the Dreyfus affair, which tore the country apart, and the repression of “modernist” exegesis and theology suggested that faith was incompatible with reason and science.

From: Anti-Christianity in France | Jean Duchesne | First Things

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French Hovels, Slave Cabins, and the limits of Thomas Jefferson’s Eyes( 2 )

Jefferson’s powerful eyes constantly dissected and analyzed: especially for scientific reasons, Jefferson spied on people’s lives. He always wanted to see, and to see firsthand. During his famous tour of southern France and northern Italy in the spring of 1787, he saw examples of misery and wretchedness—especially where lower classes were concerned. He had entered the shacks of French peasants incognito. To peep into people’s dwellings was for Jefferson the best method to assess their identity and evaluate their circumstances. “You must ferret the people out of their hovels as I have done,” Jefferson wrote to his friend Lafayette, “look into their kettles, eat their bread, loll on their beds under pretence of resting yourself, but in fact to find if they are soft.”

Most likely, this Jeffersonian method of spying did more than just provide reliable sociological data: it enhanced his empathy. Reading this letter to Lafayette, the reader gets the impression that Jefferson drew himself closer to these hapless human beings, pitying them and caring for their conditions, seeing them for who they actually were. But in other ways, Jefferson’s eyes were blind: did he ever actually see his slaves’ cabins? Did he ever ferret slaves out of their shackles to observe and meditate about their condition?

From: OUP: French Hovels, Slave Cabins, and the Limits of Jefferson’s Eyes

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A Guide to Properly Hating Old Movies( 8 )

There are films you read about your entire life, and then there are films like [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE]. I’m not quite sure how I avoided seeing [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] for so long. Maybe I had always been subconsciously turned off by the film’s negative approach to [SOCIAL ISSUE]; why waste your time on a half-baked attempt at representation when modern movies like [MODERN MOVIE] are better worth our consideration? What I do know, though, is that by the time I finally sat down to watch [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE], I was looking forward to seeing the masterpiece that everyone else described.

Yeah, no. Look, I know that it’s not fair to approach a movie released in [YEAR OF RELEASE] the same as a film released today, but I’ve spent years hearing about how [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] was responsible for bringing [SOCIAL ISSUE] into the twenty-first century. Is it wrong to expect [CLASSIC MOVIE TITLE] to tackle [SOCIAL ISSUE] with a little bit more [CONTEXTLESS READING OF SOCIAL ISSUE]? I’m not saying that [DIRECTOR] had to completely reinvent the wheel, but at the very least, he could have [IMPOSSIBLE FILMMAKING CONCEIT GIVEN HISTORICAL CONTEXT]. Maybe things would have turned around a lot sooner if they’d thought for ten minutes about how they were telling the story.


From: A Guide to Properly Hating Old Movies

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Does money affect children’s outcomes?( 4 )

The studies indicated clearly that money makes a difference to children’s outcomes. Less well-off children have worse cognitive, social-behavioural and health outcomes in part because they are poorer, not just because low income is correlated with other household and parental characteristics. Low income affects direct measures of children’s well-being and development, including their cognitive ability, achievement and engagement in school, anxiety levels and behaviour. The evidence on cognitive development and school achievement was the clearest and most common, followed by that on social and behavioural development. Of the 34 studies, only five found no evidence of a money effect on any of the outcomes examined, with methodological reasons for this in at least four cases.

The studies also found effects of low income on outcomes that indirectly affect children, including parenting, the home environment, maternal depression, and smoking during pregnancy. The effect of low income on cognitive and schooling outcomes appears to correlate broadly with the effects of spending corresponding amounts on school or early education programmes. Rough calculations suggest that increases in household income would not eliminate differences in schooling outcomes between low-income children and others, but could contribute to substantially reducing these differences. For example, increasing household income for children in receipt of free school meals (FSM) by £7,000, which would raise them to the average income for the rest of the population, might be expected to eradicate around half the gap in Key Stage 2 outcomes between FSM and non- FSM children.

From: Does money affect children’s outcomes? | JRF

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Tax day: US tax code is fairer than people realize( 26 )

Everyone likes to complain about taxes. But America’s tax system is more fair than people on the right or the left tend to give it credit for — in part because of big changes under President Barack Obama.

When you look at all taxes combined, the breakdown of “who pays what” looks about like a lot of people say it should: Almost everybody pays something, and rich people pay a much higher share of their income than poor people.

The chart below is based on 2017 federal tax estimates from the Tax Policy Center, which employs alumni of Republican and Democratic administrations; and 2015 state and local tax estimates (the most recent available) from the liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

From: Tax day: US tax code is fairer than people realize – Business Insider

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Corrupted College( 39 )

Check out this Edsource story on the California State University system’s announcement of its intent to abandon the “strategy” of remedial courses.

At last! I thought. CSU was finally telling low-skilled applicants to attend adult education or community college. Hahahaha. Five years of education policy writing just isn’t enough time to become properly cynical.

CSU is not ending its practice of accepting students who aren’t capable of college work. CSU has ended its practice of remediating students who aren’t capable of college work. It makes such students feel “unwelcome.” Students who aren’t capable of doing college work are getting the impression that they don’t really belong at college.

And so, CSU is going to give students who can’t do college work college credit for the classes they take trying to become ready for college.

Understand that the CSU system has been accepting these students for over 30 years. CSU used to offer unlimited remediation until 1996. After taxpayers protested, CSU passed regulations reducing remediation efforts to one year and vowed to ultimately eliminate all remediation by 2001. But alas, when 2001 came along, ending remediation would dramatically reduce black and Hispanic enrollment, so the deadline was extended to 2007. (Cite ) But 2007 came along and things were even worse. After that, well, California ended its high school exit examination and retroactively awarded diplomas to all the students who hadn’t been able to pass it. Why bother? CSU was accepting students who didn’t have the diploma anyway.

So, CSU decided on a new “strategy”, defining “college readiness” as “student is earning us tuition dollars”. They’re even looking at ending any sort of reliance on California’s version of the Smarter Balanced test, the Early Assessment rating that California has used for years to guide high schools towards getting their students ready for college.

From: Corrupted College | educationrealist

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